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23 April, 2020

136 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II RSTV Special: Oil Price War & Implications International Relations
Acts of violence against health care workers as cognizable, non-bailable offences Governance
Pre-Retirement Judgements and Post Retirement Jobs
GS-III COVID-19 and Zoonotic diseases
Covid-19 and Economic shocks & IEA Economic Issues
Facebook takeover of Jio-10 percent stake Economic Issues
Integrated Child Development Scheme
All about World Earth Day
e-Raktkosh Portal
Global remittances will see a sharp fall-World Bank Economic Issues
A time for planetary solidarity
Trump set to sign immigration order Economic Issues
Indian test kits must for reliability
Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute
PT Pointer SEBI eases norms on IPO, rights issues Economic Issues
COVID India Seva launched Government policies and interventions
World Earth Day
Denied alcohol, many take to ‘arishtams’ Art and Culture
Brent and WTI
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services-IPBES
Earth Day Network
Iran says it launched military satellite into orbit International Relations
GS-II : International Relations
RSTV Special: Oil Price War & Implications

RSTV Special: Oil Price War & Implications

Part of: GS-III- Economy (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

The oil prices have reached their lowest levels in years, leading to the deepest oil crisis in decades. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia under the OPEC+ framework have agreed to cut their oil output by 10m barrels per day, or 10% of global supplies. This move is aimed at propping up the falling crude oil prices. They expect the United States and other producers to join in their effort by reducing up to 5m barrels per day.

Impact of COVID-19 on Oil Sector:

Reduced demand:

  • Restrictions on movement have reduced travel needs and industries have been closed down. Major demand for crude oil comes from transportation and industries along with electricity sector which are under shut down mode.
  • China, a major demand market for crude oil was impacted the most in the initial phase of the Pandemic. The western nations including the U.S. are currently under lockdown. The pandemic has spread worldwide.
  • The prevailing market conditions have led to a drastic fall in global demand for crude oil and led to steep drop in the oil prices.
  • Current estimates place a 20-30% fall in demand due to the lockdown worldwide.

Disrupted supply chains:

  • The restriction on movement has made the movement of oil from the producer countries to the demand economies difficult, making it expensive.
  • Disruptions in the oil supply chains have also been reported.

Business sentiment:

  • Given the fact that economic recovery would need a long period of time, the disruptions would last for an extended time frame.
  • This would lead to the reassessment of planned projects in the major oil economies. This would render investment at least in the short term, doubtful.

Miscellaneous factors at play:

  • Corona virus pandemic has just increased the rate of fall in crude oil prices. There have been other factors at play too.

Political agenda:

OPEC+:

  • Saudi Arabia and Russia have been previously engaged in a price war over the crude oil. They have previously resorted to increasing their production to retain their market shares.
  • Though Saudi Arabia and Russia both are reliant on oil revenues to support their economies, both nations had stayed away from cutting productions to prop up prices due to their political agendas.
  • Saudi has been trying to target its regional rival Iran, also an oil producer. The decreasing oil prices would have had a higher adverse impact on Iran (currently under an economic turmoil) than on Saudi Arabia.
  • Russia has been looking to target U.S. interests in the Shale gas sector and is also looking to find a way out of the economic sanctions imposed by the west.
  • Each of the member nations of the OPEC+ have their own agenda and interests which had made the conclusion of an agreement to cap oil production difficult. However the continued inability of the OPEC+ to agree on production cuts led to historic falls in oil prices.

The U.S.:

  • The S. interests were also hurt because its shale gas sector was finding it difficult to compete against the low priced oil. Crude oil prices of less than 40 dollar per barrel will pressurize shale gas producers and make it economically unviable. The shale gas sector supports a large proportion of the employment in the U.S. hence any disruption in this sector would lead to large scale unemployment and loan defaults by the sector.
  • Hence with an agenda to support its shale producers in the election year, the U.S. decided to intervene to help conclude an agreement on production cuts of crude oil. Given its low leverage over Russia it has been pressurizing Saudi Arabia through the threat of sanctions to restart its negotiations with Russia.
  • G-20 meeting under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia has been called to stabilize the oil market.

Global recession:

  • Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy was going through a prolonged phase of low growth. There had been reduction in growth rates of oil demands.

Move towards Renewable energy:

  • Despite a predominantly Oil based global economy, there have been attempts being made towards more electrification and shift to renewable energy sources. Continued global investments in renewable energy sources had posed a challenge to the oil sector.

Concerns:

Governance structure for energy sector:

  • There is no one global governance structure for the energy sector involving all the major stakeholders. There are multiple international forums with limited leverage over all.
  • The global governance for energy sector has collapsed.

Too low oil price level:

  • The current level of oil prices is too low to economically sustain the oil production. This would make the oil sector economically unviable.

Interdependency of the world economy:

  • Given the high interdependence of the world economy, the oil crisis is not limited to just the oil producing countries.
  • For example, though India, a major demand market for energy resources might benefit from the low oil prices in the short term, the long term impact might not be good for India. A large portion of Indian Diaspora is resident in the oil dependant economies of the Middle East. A major disruption of these economies might apart from reducing India’s inward remittances also lead to reverse migration to India.
  • The impact on the oil producing economies would also impact the growth prospects of global economy, due to disruptions in trade and investments.

India’s case:

  • The Low oil prices has both advantages as well as challenges for India, as very low prices are equally bad as very high prices.

Positives:

  • India is predominantly dependant on import of its energy sources. It imports around 80% of its energy requirements. The steep drop in prices is beneficial given that it would help contain its Current Account Deficit.
  • India should take advantage of the low prices to stock up on crude oil in its strategic oil reserves and refineries.
  • The oil savings made by the government could help it finance the economic package announced by the government during the pandemic, without affecting its fiscal position.

Challenges:

  • The fall in oil prices could have an adverse impact on India’s large diaspora settled in the Middle East. Apart from threatening the economic security of the Diaspora it would also lead to a subsequent reduction in inward remittances to India.
  • The Domestic oil producers in India are also suffering due to the unviable low prices in the market and may need some relief from the government.

Way forward:

Finalize an agreement:

  • The G-20 conference should help the oil sector finalize an agreement which could help bring the oil prices to a healthy range of around 40 dollars per barrel which could be beneficial for the producers and economically viable, even for the producers.

Global governance structure:

  • Given the criticality of the energy sector in the world economy, the lack of an effective global governance structure in this domain is a cause of concern. There is the need for an international intergovernmental framework for energy governance.

Reforming the sector:

  • There is the need for a relook at the energy sector as a whole.
  • Reforming and streamlining the gas and oil sector must be considered.

Conclusion:

  • Given the heavy reliance of economies on oil, there is likely to be a recovery of the oil sector in the post pandemic phase. However, there is an urgent need to protect the interests of the sector in the immediate future.
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GS-II : Governance
Acts of violence against health care workers as cognizable, non-bailable offences

Acts of violence against health care workers as cognizable, non-bailable offences

Part of: GS-II- Governance (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

The Union Cabinet  has approved promulgation of Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 in the light of COVID-19 pandemic situation  making  acts of violence against the healthcare  workers as cognizable and non-bailable offences.

Under it , there is a provision  to provide compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property. The health workers who are trying to save the country from this COVID-19 pandemic are unfortunately facing attacks. The investigation  into the cases of attack on healthcare workers will be completed within 30 days and judgment will be pronounced within one  year.
The accused of the attack can attract a punishment ranging from 3 months to 5 years and a fine from  50 thousand rupees to  2 lakh rupees. In case of grievous injuries, the accused can be sentenced from 6 months to 7 years and they can also be penalized from one lakh to 5 lakh rupees. If damage is done to the vehicles or clinics of healthcare workers, then a compensation amounting to twice the market value of the damaged property will be taken from the accused.

The also government took the decision of providing 50 lakh rupees insurance cover each  for all healthcare workers including doctors, nurses and  ASHA  workers. Under Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the beneficiary will get the treatment in COVID hospital free of cost in case of coronavirus infection and  in case of non- Covid diseases, the beneficiary will also be eligible to get the treatment in non empanelled hospitals free of cost through the certificate  issued by the government hospital.

 

Ordinance

Ordinances are like a law but not enacted by the Parliament but rather promulgated by President of India when Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha or either of those is not in session. Union Cabinet’s recommendation is a must for an ordinance to be promulgated. Using ordinances, immediate legislative actions can be taken.

Note: For an ordinance to exist, it should be approved by the Parliament within six weeks of it being introduced. Parliament is required to sit within 6 weeks from when Ordinance was introduced.

What is Ordinance Making Power of Executive?

Ordinance Making Power of President

Article 123 deals with the ordinance making power of the President. President has many legislative powers and this power is one of them.

Details about President’s ordinance making power is given in the table below:

President’s Ordinance Making Power

He can only promulgate the ordinance under these circumstances:

  • When both the houses or either of the house is not in session
  • Circumstances occur where the President thinks it necessary to act without waiting for houses to assemble

An ordinance can be retrospective in nature

An ordinance rolled out when both the houses are in session is void in nature

The Parliament has to approve the ordinance within six weeks from its reassembly

Acts, done and completed under the ordinance before it lapses, remains fully active

Unlike the Indian Constitution, most of the democratic constitution of the world don’t give such ordinance making power to their President

It has no connection with the President’s power to proclaim a national emergency

The power of ordinance making is not to be taken as a substitute for the legislative power. Only under special circumstances, ordinances can be rolled out

President’s power to roll out ordinance is justiciable on the ground of malafide

What are the limitations of ordinance making power of President?

There are the following limitations:

  1. President can promulgate an ordinance only when both the houses are not in session or only one house is in session.
  2. For an ordinance to be promulgated, such circumstances should be there which deem it necessary for President to legislate through the ordinance

Note: In RC Cooper vs. Union of India (1970) the Supreme Court, while examining the constitutionality of the Banking Companies (Acquisition of Undertakings) Ordinance, 1969 which sought to nationalise 14 of India’s largest commercial banks, held that the President’s decision could be challenged on the grounds that ‘immediate action’ was not required; and the Ordinance had been passed primarily to by-pass debate and discussion in the legislature.

 

Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897

What is Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897?

It is routinely enforced across the country for dealing with outbreaks of diseases such as swine flu, dengue, and cholera.

It was introduced by colonial government to tackle the epidemic of bubonic plague that had spread in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency in the 1890s.

Why was this act criticised?

Historians have criticised the Act for its potential for abuse.

Using powers conferred by the Act, colonies authorities would search suspected plague cases in homes and among passengers, with forcible segregations, evacuations, and demolitions of infected places.

In 1897, the year the law was enforced, freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was punished with 18 months’ rigorous imprisonment after his newspapers Kesari and Mahratta admonished imperial authorities for their handling of the plague epidemic.

Provisions of the 1897 Epidemic Diseases Act:

  1. It empowers state governments/UTs to take special measures and formulate regulations for containing the outbreak.
  2. It also empowers state to prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as it shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof.
  3. The state may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed.
  4. The State Government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.
  5. It also provides penalties for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act. These are according to section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
  6. It also gives legal protection to the implementing officers acting under the Act.

Examples of implementation:

  1. In 2018, the district collector of Gujarat’s Vadodara issued a notification under the Act declaring the Khedkarmsiya village in Waghodia taluka as cholera-affected after 31 persons complained of symptoms of the disease.
  2. In 2015, to deal with malaria and dengue in Chandigarh, the Act was implemented and controlling officers were instructed to ensure the issuance of notices and challans of Rs 500 to offenders.
  3. In 2009, to tackle the swine flu outbreak in Pune, Section 2 powers were used to open screening centres in civic hospitals across the city, and swine flu was declared a notifiable disease.
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GS-II :
Pre-Retirement Judgements and Post Retirement Jobs

Context:

It was thought that on retirement from high constitutional office, a judge would lead a retired life. Nobody ever expected them to accept plum posts. But the clear demarcation between the judiciary and executive got blurred as many judges over the years began to accept posts offered by the government.  

Examples:

  • A few years ago, a former Chief Justice of India (CJI) was made a Governor by the ruling BJP government. (Sathasivam is the second judge from Tamil Nadu to become the CJI, after M. Patanjali Sastri. He is also the first former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to be appointed as the Governor of a state. He is the first Governor of Kerala to be appointed by the Narendra Modi Government)
  • Now, we have the case of a former CJI, Ranjan Gogoi, being nominated by the President to the Rajya Sabha and taking oath as Member of Parliament.

Issues :

  • During his tenure as CJI, Justice Gogoi presided over important cases such as Ayodhya and Rafale where all the decisions went in favour of the government.
  • Nomination of Justice Ranjan Gogoi as Rajya Sabha MP seems that his nomination was a reward for these ‘favours’, and that too within a few months of his retirement.
  • People are fast losing confidence in the so-called independent judiciary.
  • The desire of a post-retirement job influences pre-retirement judgments. It is a threat to the independence of the Judiciary and once it influences pre-retirement judgments, it adversely impacts on the functioning of our Judiciary.
  • It is difficult to imagine that the Constitution-makers had in mind a retired CJI when framing this provision under Article 80(3) to nominate people having special knowledge in art, literature, science and social service by the President.

Powers and Independency of Judiciary in India

  • Chapter 4 of Part V of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court, and Chapter 5 of Part VI deals with the High Courts. Hence they derive their power directly from the Constitution of India.
  • The salaries of judges and their age of retirement are all guaranteed in order to secure their independence.
  • They cannot be easily removed except by way of impeachment under Articles 124(4) and 217(1)(b).
  • They have the power to review legislation and strike it down. They can also question the acts of the executive.

 

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GS-III :
COVID-19 and Zoonotic diseases

COVID-19 and Zoonotic diseases

Part of: GS-III- Health (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

It is found that the coronavirus outbreak certainly comes from the animal world. However, it is said that humans are to be blamed for the pandemic.

Concerns:

  • “The emergence of zoonotic diseases is often associated with environmental changes or ecological disturbances, such as agricultural intensification and human settlement, or encroachments into forests and other habitats,” says a UNEP report.
    • According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), 60% of human infectious diseases originate from animals.
    • This figure climbs to 75% for “emerging” diseases such as Ebola, HIV, avian flu, Zika, or SARS, another type of coronavirus. The list goes on.
  • It is human activity that enabled the virus to jump to people, and specialists are warning that if nothing changes, many other pandemics of this nature will follow.
  • A key area of concern is deforestation to make way for agriculture and intensive livestock farming.
  • In terms of endangered wildlife, a study by American researchers shows that those who share the most viruses with humans are precisely populations declining due to exploitation and loss of habitat.

Note:

  • The name given to diseases transmitted from animals to humans is zoonoses, based on the Greek words for “animal” and “sickness”.
  • Tuberculosis, rabies, toxoplasmosis, malaria, are all zoonoses.

 

For COVID-19: https://www.aspireias.com/current-affairs/RRB-and-COVID-19/26-03-2020

 

Zoonoses or Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can naturally be transmitted/spread between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans. These diseases can be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites, and bacteria.

What are Zoonotic Diseases?

Zoonosis refers to the transmission of diseases between animals and humans. Such diseases are termed as Zoonotic Diseases. Zoonotic diseases range from mild to severe, while in extreme cases can even be fatal.

  • Zoonoses may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, or may even involve unconventional agents for the transmission of the disease.
  • WHO in 1959 defined Zoonoses as “those diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man.”
  • The World Zoonoses Day is observed every year on July 6 to create awareness on zoonotic diseases, how to prevent them and what actions to take when exposed.  

Classification of Zoonotic diseases

The classification of diseases is usually done on the basis of the pathogen causing the disease. With the advancement in science, scientists and medical professionals have been able to identify and study in detail the etiological agents causing the diseases. Etiological agents usually refer to the causative agent of a diseased condition. The zoonoses are classified on the basis of three factors:

  1. According to the etiological agents
  2. According to the mode of transmission
  3. According to the reservoir host
  • According to the etiological agents-  there is a further classification under this as:
    • Bacterial zoonoses: e.g. anthrax
    • Viral zoonoses: e.g. rabies
    • Rickettsial zoonoses: e.g. Q-fever
    • Protozoal zoonoses: e.g. toxoplasmosis
    • Helminthic zoonoses: e.g. echinococcosis
    • Fungal zoonoses: e.g. cryptococcosis
    • Ectoparasites: e.g. scabies
  • According to the reservoir host: A reservoir is usually a living host of a certain species, such as an animal or a plant, inside of which a pathogen survives, often (though not always) without causing disease for the reservoir itself. A cascading effect is caused by the extinction of a species, leading to an increase in the population of the reservoir species.
    • Anthropozoonoses– Infections transmitted to men from lower vertebrate animals e.g. rabies.
    • Zooanthroponoses- Infections transmitted from man to lower vertebrate animals e.g.diphtheria
    • Amphixenoses- Infections maintained in both man and lower vertebrate animals and transmitted in either direction e.g. salmonellosis

Transmission of Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are transmitted through various means. The chances of diseases getting transmitted increase due to the expansion of transition zones between adjacent ecosystems when forests are cleared off for agricultural purposes. This is because the environment is overlapped for wild and domesticated animals. Some of the most common ways of transmission of the diseases are:

  • Direct zoonoses-These are transmitted from an infected vertebrate host to a susceptible host (man) by direct contact, by contact with a fomite or by a mechanical vector. E.g. Rabies
  • Cyclozoonoses– These require more than one vertebrate host species, but no invertebrate host for the completion of the life cycle of the agent. E.g. echinococcosis. 
  • Metazoonosis- These are transmitted biologically by invertebrate vectors, in which the agent multiplies and/or develops and there is always an extrinsic incubation (prepatent) period before transmission to another vertebrate host. E.g. plague
  • Saprozoonosis- These require a vertebrate host and a non-animal developmental site like soil, and plant for the development of the infectious agent e.g. cryptococcosis

Note: 

  • Pathogens are the organisms responsible for causing the disease. These are of five main types: viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and worms.
  • Vectors are organisms that do not cause the disease in itself but spread infection by conveying pathogens from one host to another. E.g. bats in the case of NIPAH virus and mosquitoes in the case of Malaria.

Causes of Zoonotic Diseases

The zoonotic diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans in multiple ways, most often, people with a weakened immune system are at risk. A few of the factors responsible for causing zoonotic diseases are:

  • Deforestation could be the primary reason as it increases the contact between humans and wild animals. 
  • Through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, etc. of an infected animal or human.
  • The disease can also be transmitted through the intake of infected or contaminated food.
  • Global climate change, the overuse of antimicrobials in medicine, and more intensified farm settings can also contribute to the spread of Zoonotic diseases.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Covid-19 and Economic shocks & IEA

Covid-19 and Economic shocks

Part of: GS-III- Economy (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Steep fall in crude oil prices. Recently, May futures for the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude has plunged below zero and Brent crude futures has also witnessed a steep decline. A negative price implies that a seller would have to pay the buyer to hold the oil to be supplied.

Causes:

  • The unprecedented plunge in the particular futures contract could be partly as a technical anomaly given the way future contracts work.
  • However, there has also been a constant and steep fall in the oil prices.
    • The price war between the key producers Saudi Arabia and Russia saw them ramp up output which has caused a supply glut.
    • The demand has continued to contract on account of the COVID-19 outbreak. The lockdown has destroyed demand on an unprecedented scale. The international energy agency has observed that the confinement measures instituted worldwide have resulted in a dramatic decline in transportation activity which is a major demand sector for oil.
  • The storage facility for crude on land or offshore in super tankers are nearing capacity or becoming prohibitively expensive.

Indian scenario:

Positives:

  • India has been using the sharp fall in both crude prices to accelerate the build-up of its strategic reserve.
  • The sliding oil prices would help significantly reduce India’s energy import bill and hence contain current account deficit.

Challenges:

  • The protracted demand drought for oil would end up hurting the government’s tax revenues severely, especially at a time when it badly needs financial resources in its fight against COVID-19.
  • The low oil prices would damage the economies of producer countries including those in West Asia. This, apart from hurting inward remittances for India, could also lead to a reverse migration to India.

Way forward:

  • Oil producers will have to consider considerably curtailing output.
  • After the lockdown, the Central Government of India ought to consider using the low prices opportunity to cut retail fuel prices sharply by foregoing some excise revenue for a while in order to incentivize momentum into the wider economy.

IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a grouping of major oil-importing countries which was created in 1974 by the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) at Paris, France, following the Arab oil embargo of 1973 which had resulted in a dramatic rise in oil prices. It was established with a broad mandate on energy security and other issues about energy policy cooperation among the member countries. Long term supply, information transparency, security of supply, international energy relations, research and development were its focal points. However, today IEA has expanded and evolved to be at the heart of global dialogue on energy, examining the spectrum of energy issues to advocate policies and ensure affordability, reliability & sustainability of energy among its member countries. It has 30 member nations and only OECD nations are given membership to the IEA. All the OECD member states except for Chile, Iceland, Israel, Mexico and Slovenia are members of IEA. India became an Associate Member of IEA in 2017 while Mexico became the 30th member of IEA in 2018. The other Associate members, apart from India, are China, Brazil, Morocco, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

Objectives of IEA

The International Energy Agency was established with an objective to coordinate the response of the participating states to the world energy crisis along with developing a mechanism for oil-sharing for use during supply difficulties. IEA mainly focuses on its energy policies which include economic development, energy security and environmental protection. These policies are also known as the 3 E’S of IEA.

Structure of Indian Energy Agency (IEA)

The IEA consists of three main controlling bodies:

  1. Governing Board
  2. Management Committee
  3. The Secretariat

The Governing Board is composed of ministers of all the member-governments who are responsible for decision making. The Board is assisted by three standing groups dealing with emergency questions, long-term cooperation and the oil market.

The Management Committee deals with energy, research and development and the non-member countries.

The Secretariat is headed by the Executive Director. Apart from these, the IEA also maintains an import-monitoring system and a quick response mechanism.

India and IEA

India became an associate member of IEA in March 2017 but it was in engagement with IEA long before its association with the organization. India was a party to the Declaration of Cooperation, signed in 1998 which covered the matters relating to energy security and statistics. India had also signed three joint statements with IEA that covered various areas of mutual interest in the energy arena with major focus to gas and oil security.

Some of the benefits provided to India for being an associate member of the IEA are:

  1. Providing access to India to participate in meetings of working groups, standing groups and committees that constitute the governance structure of IEA.
  2. Allowing India to take lead in the geopolitical platform on climate and energy issues due to IEA’s increasing role in combating climate change.
  3. Helping India to take forward the International Solar Alliance framework to other countries through a greater partnership with IEA.
  4. To help India in achieving its vision of ensuring 24×7 affordable and environment-friendly ‘Power for All’ with increased engagement with IEA.
  5. To enable India in setting up its own robust integrated database on energy. With India as an associate member, IEA now formally covers 70% of the world’s energy consumption.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Facebook takeover of Jio-10 percent stake

Jio partnership with Facebook

In a major boost to Reliance Jio, social media giant Facebook is investing $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574) in it, making Facebook its largest minority shareholder. The deal has been announced this morning, with Jio putting out a media note and Facebook talking about it on its official blog post.

Jio said that the Facebook investment that it is receiving is the “largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest FDI in the technology sector in India.

  • Facebook is investing $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore) in Jio platforms.
  • The investment gives Facebook 9.99 percent share in Jio.
  • The investment also means that Jio is right now valued at around $65.95 billion.

Reasons for the partnership :

  • The primary motivation for Facebook seems to be JioMart. Keeping the huge user base in mind, Facebook wants to bring small Jio’s small business platform JioMart -- to its messaging app-WhatsApp.
  • The payments ecosystem in India includes Alibaba backed Paytm, Walmart owned-PhonePe as well as global players such as WhatsApp Payment, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay. These platforms are leveraging the highly engaged user base to drive the payments business
  • Whatsapp had run into problems when the Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) expressed concerns over some of WhatsApp's features. Now between Facebook and Jio, they will own a large chunk of the hyperlocal, ecommerce, payments, telco provider and advertising ecosystem.
  • Jio now eyes 60 million small businesses across the country which are the fabric of the unorganised retail economy. With communities around the world in a lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can use to find and communicate with customers to grow their business.
  • The clear gap that the likes of Facebook and Google faced with their Marketplace or Neighbourly models was the offline connection and Jio-Reliance Retail presence offers that scale.

 

 

 

 

 

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GS-III :
Integrated Child Development Scheme

Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS)

The Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) Scheme providing for supplementary nutrition, immunization and pre-school education to the children is a popular flagship programme of the government. Launched in 1975, it is one of the world’s largest programmes providing for an integrated package of services for the holistic development of the child. ICDS is a centrally sponsored scheme implemented by state governments and union territories. The scheme is universal covering all the districts of the country.

The Scheme has been renamed as Anganwadi Services.

Objectives

  • To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;
  • To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;
  • To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;
  • To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and
  • To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

Beneficiaries

  1. Children in the age group of 0-6 years
  2. Pregnant women and
  3. Lactating mothers

Services under ICDS

The ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services, viz.

  1. Supplementary Nutrition
  2. Pre-school non-formal education
  3. Nutrition & health education
  4. Immunization
  5. Health check-up and
  6. Referral services

Three of the six services viz. immunization, health check-up and referral services are related to health and are provided through National Health Mission and Public Health Infrastructure. The services are offered at Anganwadi Centres through Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and Anganwadi Helpers (AWHS) at grassroots level.

All components of ICDS except Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) are financed through a 60:40 ratio (central : state). The Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) component was funded through a 50:50 ratio. The North East states have a 90:10 ratio.

Under SNP, beneficiaries are given hot meals along with take-home rations. For children, the quantum of rations and meals received depends on their malnutrition levels. SNP is provided for 300 days at the rate of Rs 8 per day for children and Rs 9.50 per day for pregnant and lactating mothers. Severely malnourished children are allocated Rs 12 per day. Adolescent Girls (11-14 years out of school) are allocated Rs 9.50 per day.

 

ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP)

The overall goal of the project is to improve nutritional and early childhood development outcomes of children in India. Key objectives of Phase 1 are to support the GoI and the selected States to strengthen the ICDS policy framework, systems and capacities, and facilitate community engagement, to ensure greater focus on children under three years of age in the project districts; and strengthen convergent actions for improved nutrition outcomes in the stipulated districts.

The project will be implemented in identified 162 districts having higher proportion of child under - nutrition across eight States, viz. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh . Besides, urban pilots will be undertaken in and around NCR of Delhi and convergent nutrition actions pilots in some selected districts in two non - project States viz., Odisha and Uttarakhand.

 

ANGANWADI

• Anganwadi is a type of rural mother and child care centre in India.

• They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition.

• A typical Anganwadi centre provides basic health care in Indian villages.

• It is a part of the Indian public health care system. Basic health care activities include contraceptive counseling and supply, nutrition education and supplementation, as well as pre-school activities.

• The centres may be used as depots for oral rehydration salts, basic medicines and contraceptives.

Anganwadi Worker responsibilities:

• The Ministry of Women and Child Development has laid down guidelines for the responsibilities of Anganwadi workers (AWW).

These include:

1. Showing community support and active participation in executing this programme.

2. To conduct regular quick surveys of all families.

3. Organize pre-school activities.

4. Provide health and nutrition education to families especially pregnant women on how to breastfeed, etc.

5. Motivating families to adopt family planning.

6. Educating parents about child growth and development.

7. Assist in the implementation and execution of Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) to educate teenage girls and parents by organizing social awareness programmes etc.

8. Identify disabilities in children, and so on.

Anganwadi Worker functions:

• They need to provide care for newborn babies and ensure that all children below the age of 6 are immunized.

• They are expected to provide antenatal care for pregnant women and ensuring that they are immunized against tetanus. In addition to this they provide post-natal care to nursing mothers.

• Since they primarily focus on poor and malnourished groups, they provide supplementary nutrition to children below the age of 6 and nursing and pregnant women.

• They ensure that regular health and medical check-ups for women 15- to 49-years-old take place and that all women and children have access to these check-ups.

• They work toward providing pre-school education to children who are between 3 and 5 years old.

• Anganwadi Worker (AWW) guides ASHA in performing activities such as organising Health Day once/twice a month at Anganwadi Centre and orientating women on health related issues such as importance of nutritious food, personal hygiene, care during pregnancy, importance of immunisation etc. Anganwadi worker is a depot holder for drug kits and will be issuing it to ASHA.

Supervision:

• Every 40 to 65 Anganwadi workers are supervised by one Mukhya Sevika. They provide on-the-job training.

• In addition to performing the responsibilities with the Anganwadi workers, they have other duties such as:

1. Keeping track of who are benefiting from the programme from low economic status — specifically those who belong to the malnourished category.

2. Guide the Anganwadi workers in assessing the age and weight of children and how to plot their weights.

3. Demonstrate effective methods, for example, in providing health and nutrition education to mothers.

4. Maintain statistics of Anganwadis and the workers to determine what can be improved.

• The Mukhya Sevika then reports to the Child development Projects Officer (CDPO).

 

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GS-III :
All about World Earth Day

Earth Day

  • Every year on April 22nd we celebrate Earth Day. The Earth day is conducted in more than 192 countries around the world. The Earth Day is expected to display backing for conserving the environment.
  • UNESCO Conference held in 1969 recommended selecting March 21st, 1970 as the first Earth Day. The United States chose to celebrate a separate Earth Day on April 22nd annually. Later this date became the internationally accepted Earth Day in 1990. There are also several communities that backing environmental issues by celebrating Earth Week.
  • The first Earth Day in 1970 launched a wave of action, including the passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States. The Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts were created in response to the first Earth Day in 1970, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many countries soon adopted similar laws.
  • Earth Day continues to hold major international significance: In 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day when the historic Paris Agreement on climate change was signed into force.

History of Earth Day:

Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis — oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet.

The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement, and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event.

Facts:

  • Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day while he was working as a US senator.
  • The maiden Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970.
  • On the first Earth Day, 20 million people assembled in the streets of the USA to protest against the industrial revolution. As a result of it, an environmental movement originated.
  • Earth Day celebrated in the United States but later became acknowledged universally by 1990.
  • Disney released a documentary film called Earth that trailed the relocation paths of four animal families On Earth Day 2009.
  • Annually on April 22, people all over the world clean up garbage, plant many trees, clean up coral reefs, display movies, sign petitions, and plan processes and policies for an improved future for our planet.
  • Earth Day was retitled officially by the United Nations in 2009 as International Mother Earth Day.
  • In 2011, Afghanistan saw 28 million trees being planted.
  • On Earth Day 2012, over a hundred thousand people rode bicycles in China to diminish carbon dioxide emissions and save fuel.
  • 100 endangered species of orchids were planted and preserved to prevent their extinction in respect of Earth Day in Panama.

Earth Day Network:

To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet.

Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet.

Theme of Earth Day 2020:

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary.

Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.

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GS-III :
e-Raktkosh Portal

e-Raktkosh Portal

Recently, the Union Health minister urged the use of the e-Raktkosh portal as a single point for maintaining real-time information on the status of stocks of each blood group.

  • The Health Minister has termed the availability of blood in blood banks as 'essential'.
  • In several blood disorders like thalassemia and haemophilia regular transfusion of the blood is necessary.

Blood Disorder

  • blood disorder is any condition that impacts one or more parts of the blood, usually interfering with its ability to work correctly.
  • Blood disorder can be categorised as Common Blood Disorder like anaemia and Rare Blood Disorder like thalassemia.
  • Types of Blood Disorder
    • Blood Disorders Affecting Red Blood Cells like Anemia, Pernicious anemia (B12 deficiency), Aplastic anemia, Autoimmune hemolytic anemia etc.
    • Blood disorders that affect White Blood Cells like Lymphoma, Leukemia, Multiple myeloma.
    • Blood Disorders Affecting Blood Plasma like hemophilia
    • Blood Disorders Affecting Platelets like thrombocytopenia.

 

e-Raktkosh portal is a Centralized Blood Bank Management System. It is a comprehensive IT solution to standardize and streamline the standard operating procedures, guidelines and workflow of blood banks across the nation. It was inaugurated on 7th April 2016 by then Minister of Health and Family Welfare (MoHWFW)

It enforces Drug & Cosmetic Act, National blood policy standards and guidelines ensuring proper management of blood. e-Rakt Kosh has components for management of the blood donation life cycle which includes :

    • The biometric Donor Management System
    • Blood grouping,
    • TTI screening,
    • antibody screening,
    • A centralized Blood Inventory Management System
    • Bio-Medical Waste Management System for disposal of discarded blood
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Global remittances will see a sharp fall-World Bank

Global remittances will see a sharp fall: World Bank

  • The World Bank has predicted global remittances, the money sent home from people working abroad, will fall by around 20% in 2020 as economic activity grinds to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic and labor migrants lose wages and access to remittance services.
  • The Bank, which released a report on the issue today, recommends making remittances cheaper and classifying them as “essential” services to prevent families falling over the edge into severe poverty.
  • According to World Bank report, Migrant remittances provide an economic lifeline to poor households in many countries.
  • The bank said this decline is “unprecedented,” with the closest comparison being the Global Financial Crisis.
  • The ongoing economic recession caused by COVID-19 is taking a severe toll on the ability to send money home and makes it all the more vital that we shorten the time to recovery for advanced economies

Data:

  • In 2019, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), commonly known as developing countries, received around $554 billion in remittance flows, a larger amount than all the foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into those countries that year (excluding China).
  • World Bank predicts remittances will decline 19.7% in 2020, to $445 billion.
  • Families in developing countries are often reliant on the income generated by remittances, with some 800 million people living in households that receive them
  • In India, remittances for 2020 are projected to fall by 23% to $64 billion.
  • Remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached a record high in 2018.
  • Among countries, the top remittance recipients were India with $79 billion, followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico ($36 billion), the Philippines ($34 billion), and Egypt ($29 billion).

Remittances and SDGs:

  • In 2015, Member States of the United Nations issued a call to action to eradicate global poverty, reduce economic inequality and place the world on a more sustainable pathway: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This comprehensive undertaking affirms the need to reach 17 specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and proposes several ways to mobilize the additional resources required to realize this ambitious – but achievable – agenda. Of these, SDG 10 specifically refers to safe migration.
  • For more than a century, people have been moving from rural to urban areas, and across national borders in search of better opportunities. Of the 250 million people currently living outside their countries of origin, approximately 200 million migrant workers leave home in order to send remittances, with the aim of giving their families the chance to remain home and addressing the root causes of their own migration.
  • Therefore, helping remittance families leverage the development impact of their own resources is vital to reach the SDGs. The international community may now recognize migrant workers and their families as agents of change and key partners in this effort.
  • The potential for synergy in connecting the scale of remittances to reach the SDGs is clear: one billion senders and receivers and a projected US$6.5 trillion in international remittances will be sent to developing countries between 2015 and 2030.
  • Over the last decade, attention has focused primarily on the “sending side” of remittances, particularly the aggregate volumes and transaction costs of sending family remittances, essentially from developed to developing countries. The global dimension of this phenomenon is impressive: US$481 billion were sent in 2017 to developing countries and remittance-reliant European countries, more than three times official development assistance (ODA).
  • It is estimated that 75 per cent of remittance flows go towards immediate needs, but the other 25 per cent – over US$100 billion per year – is available for other purposes
  • Despite the focus on the aggregate flows of remittances, the amount that matters the most is not measured in millions or billions, but in the individual US$200 or US$300 sent home regularly. This amount represents 60 per cent of total household income and, if leveraged, it can most effectively improve the living standards of migrants and their communities back home.
  • With these apparently small funds, most remittance families commit to reaching “their own SDGs” – reduced poverty, better health and nutrition, education opportunities, improved housing and sanitation, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and reduced inequality, and the ability to deal with the uncertainty in their lives by increasing their savings and building assets to ensure a more stable future.
  • In this regard, the SDGs provide a unique opportunity to create a convergence between the goals of remittance families, government development objectives, private sector strategies to tap underserved markets, and the traditional role of civil society to promote positive change. In particular:
  • Financial inclusion and literacy for remittance recipient families can increase opportunities for formal savings and investment. In turn, these mechanisms can build the human capital of remittance families and improve their living standards through better education, health and housing.
  • Migrant investments beyond remittances can change the development landscape of local communities, if given appropriate options.

 

Importance of remittances for India:

  • It is a vital source of income for financing household and family expenses.
  • Higher remittances improve nutritional outcomes by increasing investments in higher education.
  • It is important to address poverty and hunger in the country.
  • India is the highest recipient of global remittances.
  • To achieve its SDGs particularly SDG-1,2,5,6,10.

 

Remittances

  • Remittances are usually understood as financial or in-kind transfers made by migrants to friends and relatives back in communities of origin.
  • These are basically sum of two main components - Personal Transfers in cash or in kind between resident and non-resident households and Compensation of Employees, which refers to the income of workers who work in another country for a limited period of time.
  • Remittances help in stimulating economic development in recipient countries, but this can also make such countries over-reliant on them.

World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief

  • This is prepared by the Migration and Remittances Unit, Development Economics (DEC)- the premier research and data arm of the World Bank. .
  • The brief aims to provide an update on key developments in the area of migration and remittance flows and related policies over the past six months.
  • It also provides medium-term projections of remittance flows to developing countries..
  • The brief is produced twice a year

 

 

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GS-III :
A time for planetary solidarity

Lessons learnt during COVID19 for sustainable environmental and livelihood practices: (Solutions for Sustainable development-Mains)

  • Privileging of mental over manual labour, but the inequities and disparities are starker now and in more brutal circumstances than ever before.
  • Any person whose livelihood is directly connected with their physical labour has been left with zero options unless they are somehow connected with health care, food or sanitation.
  • The drastic reduction in flights, for instance, has affected the airline industry adversely but also highlighted the fact that many flight trips during ‘normal’ times are in fact unnecessary.
  • The lockdown has shown that up to half of these trips are dispensable, especially if commuting and education trips can be cut down severely.
  • Before the pandemic, business meetings, including international conferences and climate change meetings, were responsible for a bulk of flight travel. For example, a return flight, economy class, from Delhi to New York releases about 0.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide (it is twice as much in premium economy).
  • It should be the norm in many sectors and people could work from home at least half the time, thus reducing travel needs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and simplifying child care and other domestic services.
  • It should be the norm in many sectors and people could work from home at least half the time, thus reducing travel needs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and simplifying child care and other domestic services.
  • Develop open access schools and universities, the scam of high admissions fees can be altogether eliminated.
  • Public hospitals need to be improved and have the capacity to respond to pandemics and related crises. Access to care in the emergency and beyond should be equally available to all.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Trump set to sign immigration order

Context:

  • President Donald Trump confirmed he would sign an order later on Wednesday partially blocking immigration to the U.S., in a move he argues would protect workers from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Immigration is a key issue for Mr. Trump's conservative base, which he is keen to energise ahead of the November election.

News:

  • Issuing of green cards — permanent residency permits — would be stopped for 60 days, but would exempt temporary workers such as seasonal farm labourers.
  • It will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens.
  • About 22 million Americans have lost their jobs since the outbreak forced a global shutdown.
  • The U.S. is the world’s hardest-hit country, and health care infrastructure in hotspots such as New York has struggled to cope.
  • The executive order on immigration will likely spark court action to reverse it, and has raised hackles among his Democratic opponents.

Green Card Definition

Green Card is the unofficial nickname for the permit allowing immigrants to permanently live and work in the United States of America.

  • The official name of the US Green Card is “Lawful Permanent Resident Card”.
  • It even has a more bureaucratic name: Form I-551.
  • Green Card holders are known as “Permanent Residents”.

Those who have a Green Card are allowed to emigrate to the USA and stay there for as long as they like. Owning a Green Card is the basic requirement for moving to the USA. That means that anyone who would like to permanently live and work in the USA requires, firstly, a Green Card.

A person with a nonimmigrant visa is dependent on their job or the purpose of their stay in the USA, but a Green Card differs in that it gives the holder total freedom. Green Card holders can choose their place of work or where they want to live in the USA without limits and for however long they want.

US H1B Visa:

  • H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc.
  • Any professional level job that usually requires you to have a bachelors degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. If you do not have a bachelors degree or higher you may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.
  • The US employer petitions for the H-1B Visa in the US which has a duration of up to 6 years.
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GS-III :
Indian test kits must for reliability

Context:

  • For reliable antibody testing kits, India will have to make its own, according to independent epidemiologists and biotechnologists.
  • A day after the Rajasthan government said that it would stop antibody tests because they were returning inaccurate results, the Indian Council of Medical Research announced that it had advised putting such tests on hold because it was generating widely varying results.
  • The ICMR on Wednesday said it had forwarded a “protocol” for rapid antibody tests to all States, but did not specify the details.
  • At present, polymerise chain reaction (PCR) and antibody testing are the dominant ways that global healthcare systems are testing citizens for Covid-19.

Importance of Antibody kits:

  • Much like home-based pregnancy tests, antibody tests are valuable because they give results quickly and only needs a pinprick’s worth of blood.

Drawbacks of Antibody kits:

  • They can only detect antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the virus and this can take as many as 7-14 days to manifest.
  • An antibody test only tells you whether a person has ever been infected by the virus. These antibodies that are produced are not necessarily specific to SARS COV-2 and could even be generated by a variety of other pathogens.
  • There are other 4 other common coronaviruses and antibodies could be generated to that too. So far, nobody has found a protein that’s specific to SARS COV-2.

 

What is Rapid Test-Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test?

  • The PCR technology is confirmatory because it identifies the SARS COV-2 based on genes, whereas the presence of viruses have usually been detected via antibody kits by the proteins produced by the virus’s genes.
  • They detect the genetic information of the virus, the RNA. That’s only possible if the virus is there and someone is actively infected.
  • PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies. By detecting viral RNA, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease are present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on.

 

Steps taken by ICMR:

  • The ICMR’s current recommendation is to test those who show symptoms such cough, fever and breathlessness and even a sore throat. After quarantining for 14 days, an antibody test is to be done and if positive, the person ought to be tested by RT-PCR.
  • The ICMR has underlined that tests are a surveillance tool. The utility of the test was evolving and its value was dependent on field conditions. They were not a replacement for RT-PCR tests.
  • However, with the accuracy widely ranging from 5% to 71%, there are questions on whether they can reliably help indicate the spread of the infection.
  • All kits need to be validated by the National Institute of Virology, Pune

 

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GS-III :
Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute

Context:

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) here is gearing up to play a key role in a nationwide project to decode the genetic information of all known species of plants and animals in the country.

Indian Initiative on Earth BioGenome Sequencing (IIEBS)

  • The Institute has been selected as one of the Biological Knowledge and Resource Centres of the Indian Initiative on Earth BioGenome Sequencing (IIEBS). It will join hands with other premier research institutes to utilise cutting edge technologies for genome sequencing
  • The whole genome sequencing of 1,000 species of plants and animals will be taken up in the initial phase of IIEBS to be completed over a period of five years at an estimated cost of ?440 crore. The National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi is the coordinating centre for the nationwide project involving a total of 24 institutes.
  • The digital repository of genome sequences is expected to provide the critical infrastructure for better understanding of ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity as well as the development of new treatments for infectious and inherited diseases, agricultural products, biomaterials and biological fuels

 

What is the Genome India Project?

  • The Genome India Project, a collaboration of 20 institutions including the Indian Institute of Science and some IITs, will enable new efficiencies in medicine, agriculture and the life sciences.
  • Its aim is to ultimately build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”, to fully understand the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population.
  • The mega project hopes to form a grid after collecting 10,000 samples in the first phase from across India, to arrive at a representative Indian genome.

 

About Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute:

  • KSCSTE-Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (KSCSTE - JNTBGRI) was found in 1979 with the objective of establishing a Conservatory Botanic Garden of tropical plant resources in general and of the country and the Kerala state in particular.
  • It is established in Trivandrum.
  • It also undertakes research programmes for the sustainable utilization of the resources. The idea of establishing the institute was conceived soon after the first United Nations Conference on human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972 by the  Founder Director, the late Professor A. Abraham and its became his commitment to conserve the waning tropical plant species of India. Consequently, the institute was established as an autonomous R & D organization by the Government of Kerala in 1979.
  • KSCSTE - JNTBGRI is the only organization in India, which maintains a 300 acre conservatory garden for the wild tropical plant genetic resources of the country, besides a well integrated multidisciplinary R & D system dealing with conservation, management and sustainable utilization of tropical plant resources.
  • During the past 30 years, it has flourished into one of the premier R & D organization in Asia, devoted to conservation and sustainable utilization of tropical plant diversity. The institute is recognized as a ‘National Centre of Excellence in ex situ conservation and sustainable utilization of tropical plants
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GS-III : Economic Issues
SEBI eases norms on IPO, rights issues

SEBI eases norms on IPO, rights issues

What’s in News?

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has relaxed certain regulatory requirements related to rights issues and initial public offers (IPOs) to make it easier for companies to raise funds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has made the secondary markets increasingly volatile.

Details:

  • SEBI has said that any listed entity with a market capitalisation of at least ?100 crore can use the fast track route for rights issue.
    • Earlier, the base limit was set at ?250 crore for such offerings.
  • Any company that has been listed for 18 months can raise funds through fast track rights issue.
    • The earlier eligibility was set at three years.
  • The minimum subscription requirement to make the issue successful has been lowered from the earlier 90% of the offer size to 75% of the issuance.
  • Issuers have been allowed to amend the issue size by up to 50%, up from the current 20% — without the requirement of filing a fresh draft offer document.
  • SEBI has also extended the validity of its observations issued on draft documents by six months for issuers whose observations have expired or will expire between March 1 and September 30.
    • SEBI issues final observations on IPO draft documents after which the company has one year to launch the public issue.
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GS-II : Government policies and interventions
COVID India Seva launched

COVID India Seva launched

The Union Health Minister has launched the ‘COVID India Seva’, an interactive platform to establish a direct channel of communication during the pandemic.

About the COVID India Seva:

  • This is a Twitter handle which can serve as an interactive platform to establish a direct channel of communication with millions of Indians amid the pandemic.
  • This initiative is aimed at enabling transparent e-governance delivery in real-time and answering citizen queries swiftly, at scale, especially in crisis situations like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Through this, people can pose queries @CovidIndiaSeva and get them responded to in almost real time.
  • @CovidIndiaSeva works off a dashboard at the backend that helps process large volumes of tweets, converts them into resolvable tickets, and assigns them to the relevant authority for real-time resolution.
  • As these responses are transparent and public, everyone can benefit from the responses received around common queries.
  • It is important to note that the Ministry will respond to broader queries and public health information. This does not require the public to share personal contact details or health record details.
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GS-III :
World Earth Day

World Earth Day

Context:

Vice President greets people on the occasion of World Earth Day.

About the World Earth Day:

  • April 22 is observed as ‘World Earth Day’ every year.
  • 2020 is the 50th anniversary of this celebration.
  • The theme for World Earth Day 2020 is “Climate Action”.
  • The first Earth Day, observed in 1970, was a unified response to an environment in crisis — oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire.
  • The first observance launched a wave of action, including the passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States.
  • Many other countries also followed suit.
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GS-I : Art and Culture
Denied alcohol, many take to ‘arishtams’

Denied alcohol, many take to ‘arishtams’

  • Ayurveda pharmacy stores across the State of Kerala have of late found a surge in demand for arishtams and asavams, which have alcohol content up to 10%.
    • ‘arishtams’ and ‘asavams’ have self-generated alcohol.
  • Staff in some Ayurveda pharmacy stores in Kozhikode claimed that the sale of such medicines had gone up by around 30% after the enforcement of the lockdown.
  • According to rules, individuals cannot store ‘arishtams’ and ‘asavams’ beyond a certain limit. As excessive consumption may affect the body parts.
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GS-III :
Brent and WTI

Brent and WTI

  • Brent crude oil originates from oil fields in the North Sea between the Shetland Islands and Norway, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is sourced from US oil fields, primarily in Texas, Louisiana, and North Dakota.
  • WTI with a lower sulphur content (0.24%) than Brent (0.37%), is considered "sweeter".
  • Both oils are relatively light, but Brent has a slightly higher API gravity, making WTI the lighter of the two.
    • American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity is an indicator of the density of crude oil or refined products.
  • Brent crude price is the international benchmark price used by the OPEC while WTI crude price is a benchmark for US oil prices.
    • Since India imports primarily from OPEC countries, Brent is the benchmark for oil prices in India.
  • Cost of shipping for Brent crude is typically lower, since it is produced near the sea and it can be put on ships immediately. Shipping of WTI is priced higher since it is produced in landlocked areas like Cushing, Oklahoma where the storage facilities are limited.
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GS-III :
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services-IPBES

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services-IPBES

  • IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.
  • It was established in Panama City (US), in April 2012.
  • It is not a United Nations body.
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GS-III :
Earth Day Network

Earth Day Network

  • Earth Day Network is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.
  • EDN main office is located in Washington DC, USA.

Note

  • 22 March: World Water Day
  • 22 April: Earth Day
  • 22 May : World Biodiversity Day
  • Recently the Earth Hour was observed on 28th March, 2020. It encourages people to switch off the lights from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm as per their local time.

 

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GS-II : International Relations
Iran says it launched military satellite into orbit

Iran says it launched military satellite into orbit

Amidst tension with the US, Iran today said that it had successfully launched its first military satellite into the orbit. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) reported that the first military satellite “Noor”, which means light was successfully put into orbit. The satellite was launched from three-stage carrier Ghased and was placed in 425-km orbit.

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