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30 Mar, 2020

46 Min Read

National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC) and COVID-19

GS-II : Governance Institutions

National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC) and COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Institution

Recently, the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare launched the COVID-19 National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC).

Key Points

  • The CoNTeC is a Telemedicine Hub established by AIIMS, New Delhi, wherein expert doctors from various clinical domains will be available 24x7 to answer the multifaceted questions from specialists from all over the country.
    • Doctors worldwide are using different protocols to treat COVID-19 patients. The goal of the facility is to at least connect the doctors in the country together to discuss amongst themselves the protocols undertaken and provide the best treatment accordingly.
  • It is a multi-modal telecommunications hub through which 2 way audio-video and text communications can be undertaken from any part of the country as well as the world at large.
  • The CoNTeC is also fully integrated with the National Medical College Network (NMCN) to conduct a full fledged Video Conference (VC) between the 50 Medical Colleges connected through the NMCN with its National Resource Centre located at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI), Lucknow.
  • Under CoNTeC, the patient management advice offered will be standardized as per the national guidelines supplemented protocols developed by the team at AIIMS.

National Medical College Network (NMCN) Scheme

  • Under the NMCN scheme, 50 Govt. Medical Colleges are being inter-linked with the purpose of tele-education, e-Learning and online medical consultation by utilising the connectivity provided by National Knowledge Network (NKN).
  • Under this initiative a virtual layer of specialty/super specialty doctors from these medical colleges is created for providing online medical consultation facilities to citizens similar to OPD facilities through a web/portal.

Source: TH

Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme – MPLAD

GS-II : Governance

Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme – MPLAD

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme which was launched in 1993-94. The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.


  1. The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
  2. MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
  3. In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  4. Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election (with select exceptions). Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  5. All works to meet locally felt infrastructure and development needs, with an emphasis on creation of durable assets in the constituency are permissible under MPLADS as prescribed in the scheme guidelines. Expenditure on specified items of non durable nature are also permitted as listed in the guidelines.


  1. A Member of Parliament shall give his/ her choice of Nodal District in a prescribed format to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with copy to the State Government and to the District Magistrate of the chosen District.
  2. The annual entitlement of Rs 5 crore shall be released, in two equal instalments of Rs 2.5 crore each, by Government of India directly to the District Authority of the Nodal District of the Member of Parliament concerned.
  3. Each MP shall recommend eligible work on the MP’s letter head duly signed by the MP to the district authority.
  4. The District Authority shall identify the Implementing Agency capable of executing the eligible work qualitatively, timely and satisfactorily. It shall be responsible for timely and effective implementation of such works. All recommended eligible works should be sanctioned within 75 days from the date of receipt of the recommendation, after completing all formalities. The District Authority shall, however, inform MPs regarding rejection, if any, within 45 days from the date of receipt of recommendations, with reasons thereof.
  5. MPLAD Scheme can be converged in individual/stand-alone projects of other Central and State Government schemes provided such works of Central/State Governments Schemes are eligible under MPLADS. Funds from local bodies can similarly also be pooled with MPLADS works. Wherever such pooling is done, funds from other scheme sources should be used first and the MPLADS funds should be released later, so that MPLADS fund results in completion of the project.
  6. As soon as a work under the Scheme is completed, it should be put to public use. For greater public awareness, for all works executed under MPLADS a plaque (stone/metal) carrying the inscription ‘Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme Work’ indicating the cost involved, the commencement, completion and inauguration date and the name of the MP sponsoring the project should be permanently erected.
  7. One MP - One Idea : In order to foster a grass-root bottoms-up approach to innovation and development and to arrive at solutions for local problems, which are sustainable and scalable, there is a need for seeking out and campaigning for ideas that have the potential to solve challenges. Accordingly, based on the innovative ideas received from the local people regarding developmental projects, a ‘One MP – One Idea’ Competition may be held in each Lok Sabha constituency annually to select the three best innovations for cash awards and certificate of appreciation for next five best innovations.

Source: Vikaspedia/web

Migrant workers to be stopped, quarantined at borders: Centre

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government policies and interventions

Migrant workers to be stopped, quarantined at borders: Centre

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

Migrant workers trying to move out of the cities to their villages in the light of the nationwide lockdown.


Strict enforcement of the lockdown:

  • The Union Home Ministry has termed the movement of migrant workers to reach their hometowns a violation of the lockdown measures on maintaining social distance.
  • The Centre has asked the States and UTs to strictly enforce the 21-day lockdown by prohibiting the movement of people across cities and highways. Directions have been given to seal the district and State borders and allow only the movement of goods.

Catering to the needs of the migrants:

  • The migrant workers who have moved out of their work spots must be quarantined in the nearest shelter after proper screening for a minimum period of 14 days as per standard health protocol.
  • The Union Home Ministry has directed State and Union Territory (UT) governments to provide temporary shelters, food and other essentials to the poor and needy, including migrant labourers. The states are allowed to use the State Disaster Response Fund.
  • In order to mitigate the economic hardship of migrants, the Home Ministry has directed the State and UT governments to ensure that all employers pay wages without deduction at workplaces, on the due date and for the period their commercial establishments remain closed during the lockdown.
  • Landlords have been directed not to demand one month’s rent from workers, including migrant workers. If any landlord is forcing labourers and students to vacate their premises, they will be liable for action under the Disaster Management Act.

Essentials exempted:

  • The transportation of all goods, without distinction of essential and non-essential, has been allowed.
  • The entire milk supply and newspaper delivery chains have also been allowed.

Source: TH

Convalescent Plasma Therapy and COVID-19


Convalescent Plasma Therapy and COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T

  • Basis of the Therapy:
    • The convalescent plasma therapy seeks to make use of the antibodies developed in the recovered patient against the coronavirus.
    • The whole blood or plasma from such people is taken, and the plasma is then injected in critically ill patients so that the antibodies are transferred and boost their fight against the virus.
  • Time Period for Infusion:
    • A study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases stated that a COVID-19 patient usually develops primary immunity against the virus in 10-14 days.
    • Therefore, if the plasma is injected at an early stage, it can possibly help fight the virus and prevent severe illness.
  • Infusion into COVID-19 Patients:
    • The plasma can be infused into two kinds of COVID-19 patients— those with a severe illness, or individuals at a higher risk of getting the virus.
    • However, while plasma transfers immunity from one person to another, it is not known if it can save lives in COVID-19 infection.
    • The treatment could be effective for patients in the age group 40-60, but may be less effective for people aged beyond 60 years.
  • Previous Application of the Convalescent Plasma Therapy:
    • The United States used plasma of recovered patients to treat patients of Spanish flu (1918-1920).
    • Hong Kong used it to treat SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) patients in 2005.
    • In 2009, the swine flu (H1N1) patients were treated with plasma.
      • A study in Oxford University’s journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that “convalescent plasma reduced respiratory tract viral load, serum cytokine response, and mortality” in H1N1 patients.
  • WHO Guidelines (2014):
    • WHO guidelines in 2014 mandate a donor’s permission before extracting plasma.
    • Plasma from only recovered patients must be taken, and donation must be done from people not infected with HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, or any infectious disease.
    • If whole blood is collected, the plasma is separated by sedimentation or centrifugation, then injected in the patient.
    • If plasma needs to be collected again from the same person, it must be done after 12 weeks of the first donation for males and 16 weeks for females.
  • Application in India:
    • Currently, India has facilities for removing 500 ml of plasma from a donor.
    • For this experimental therapy, the Drug Controller General of India will first have to grant blood banks approval for removal of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients.
    • In India, the special care of the risk of infection during transfusion needs to be taken care of.

Relapse in Patients Recovered from COVID-19

  • Patients who test positive for COVID-19 develop protective antibodies. Theoretically, there can be a relapse even in patients who have antibodies. There are various reasons for such relapsing of COVID-19, some of them are:
    • Mutation of the Virus:
      • The probable mutations, is one of the major reasons for making an individual vulnerable to reacquire the COVID-19 infection.
    • Unknown Behaviour of the Virus:
      • Since the exact behaviour of the novel coronavirus is still being studied, immunity against it is not fully understood.
      • At this stage, it is not fully understood as to how long the antibodies provide protection against the viral infection.
      • Also, in the absence of any vaccination, it is not known whether the immunity acquired by the persons is permanent.
    • False RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test:
      • It has been observed that a “false negative” RTPCR test — the RNA test being conducted to diagnose COVID-19 infection — can lead to a patient testing positive a second time after testing negative in between.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

Source: TH

Improved Air Quality during COVID-19


Improved Air Quality during COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

The nationwide lockdown, to prevent COVID-19, has led to minimal air pollution in over 90 cities including Delhi.

  • Environmentalists have welcomed the reduction in pollution and have urged the government to treat it as a wake-up call and stop the development at the cost of the environment.

Key Points

  • During the lockdown, the government has asked the people to avoid unnecessary travel which has significantly reduced the traffic movement.
  • Other factors which have contributed to the improved air quality are shutting down of industries and construction sites and rains.
  • According to the centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the measures against COVID-19 have led to a drop in:
    • PM2.5
      • It is an atmospheric Particulate Matter of diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is around 3% of the diameter of a human hair.
      • It causes respiratory problems and also reduces visibility. It is an endocrine disruptor that can affect insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity thus contributing to diabetes.
    • Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)
      • NOx pollution is mainly caused due to a high motor vehicle traffic and can increase the risk of respiratory conditions.
  • Generally in March, pollution is in the moderate category in the Air Quality Index while currently, it is in the satisfactory or good category.
    • Under the good category, pollution is considered to be at the lowest and the air is believed to be the healthiest to breathe.
  • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data:
    • Air quality in the National Capital Territory of Delhi is presently in the good category.
    • Kanpur, which has high pollution levels normally, is in the satisfactory category.
    • 92 other cities with CPCB monitoring centres have recorded minimal air pollution, with the air quality ranging between good and satisfactory.

  • Observations and Suggestions:
    • The low AQI and the blue skies prove that air pollution was mostly anthropomorphic (man-made), which can be reduced by conscious efforts.
    • Reducing air pollution by rapidly slowing down the economy is not an ideal way so mindful use of technologies and low-emission alternatives can be opted to minimise the pollution.
    • It was also emphasised that air pollution weakens the lungs so countries like India with higher pollution and lower nutrition levels will be more affected by COVID-19 leading to higher morbidity and deaths.

Air Quality Index

  • The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality.
  • It focuses on health effects one might experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
  • AQI is calculated for eight major air pollutants:
    • Ground-level ozone
      • It is also found in the stratosphere and protects from ultraviolet (UV) rays, while in the troposphere (ground level) it acts as a pollutant.
      • It is not a primary pollutant but a secondary one.
      • Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight.
    • PM10
    • PM2.5
    • Carbon monoxide
    • Sulfur dioxide
    • Nitrogen dioxide
    • Ammonia
    • Lead
  • Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in India.

Source: TH

Himalayan Ibex and Endemic species


Himalayan Ibex

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

A recent study by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has proved that Himalayan Ibex is a distinct species from the Siberian Ibex.

Key Points

  • The study was funded through the National Mission on Himalayan Studies.
    • The National Mission on Himalayan Studies is implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
    • It targets to provide much needed focus, through holistic understanding of system's components and their linkages, in addressing the key issues relating to conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR).
  • The study was based on genetic analysis conducted with the inclusion of the sequences available from all across the distribution ranges of Siberian Ibex.
  • The study revealed that Siberian Ibex was estimated to have diverged from Alpine Ibex during the Pleistocene epoch (2.4 million years ago) rather than during the Miocene-Pliocene boundary (6.6 million years ago).
  • Scientists presume that the ‘montane systems’, formed by a series of climatic oscillations and temporal topographic metamorphosis, have broken up the contiguous distribution of the species and accelerated allopatric speciation.
    • Allopatric speciation means speciation because of geographic and reproductive isolation.
  • The study also reveals that Siberian ibex is a polytypic species, plausibly formed by lumping of at least 2 species and or 3 to 4 sub-species.
    • Polytypic species are species that contain two or more subspecies.

Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica)

  • Siberian Ibex is a species of wild goat.
  • It is distributed in diverse habitats, ranging from cold deserts, rocky outcrops, steep terrain, high-land flats and mountain ridges to low mountains and foothills.
  • From Mongolia, its distribution extends towards Altai, Hangai, Gobi-Altai, the Hurukh mountain ranges as well as Sayan Mountains near Russia and scattered populations in the small mountains of Trans-Altai Gobi.
  • In Asia, Ibex is distributed in the Montane habitats, ranging in elevations from 500 m to 6,700 m in countries like India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Southern Siberia and China.
  • Its IUCN status is least concerned.

Himalayan Ibex (Capra sibirica hemalayanus)

  • Earlier the Himalayan Ibex was regarded as a subspecies of the Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica)
  • The Himalyan Ibex is distributed mainly in the trans-Himalayan ranges of the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)

  • The ZSI was established on 1st July, 1916. It has its genesis in the establishment of the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum at Calcutta in 1875.
  • It is headquartered at Kolkata.
  • It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It acts as the premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the country.


Endemic species are those that are found in just one region and nowhere else in the world. For example, kangaroos are originally endemic to Australia and are found nowhere else in the world. The cases where they have been spotted outside their natural habitat is due to humans introducing them when the animal was in captivity.

There are also other marsupials that are endemic only to Australia and its surrounding islands. The Tasmanian Tiger is one such animal that was endemic to Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. But now, it is extinct.

Endemic Species of India

A list of the endemic species of India is mentioned below:

Asiatic Lion, Gir Forest

Asiatic Lion is also known as the Indian Lion and can be only found in and around Gir Forest National Park of Gujarat. These are listed as endangered species. These are one of the five big cats found in India, the others being Indian Leopards and Bengal Tigers.

Kashmir Stag, Kashmir Valley

Also known as Hangul, Kashmir Stag is found in the dense forests of Dachigum National Park, Kasmir Valley and Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh.

Lion-Tailed Macaque, Western Ghats

It is the rarest and the most threatened and endangered primate species found only in the Western Ghats of Southern India.

Purple Frog, Western Ghats

The purple frog, also known as Pignose frog is only found in the rainforests of western ghats in India. It spends most of its life underground.

Sangai Deer, Loktak Lake

It is also known as Brow Antlered Deer exclusively found in Keibul Lamjao National Park of Manipur. This park is a marshy wetland located in the southern parts of Loktak lake.

Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Hills

It is a wild sheep species, endangered and endemic to the Nilgiri Hills of Western Gats.

Other endemic species of India include:

  • Pygmy Hog, Assam
  • Bronzeback Vine Snake, Western Ghats
  • Nilgiri Blue Robin, Nilgiri Hills
  • Malabar Civet, Western Ghats
  • Anaimalai Gliding Frog, Anaimalai Hills
  • Namdapha Flying Squirrel, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Indian Giant Squirrel
  • Bonnet Macaque

Name some plant species that are endemic.

Some of the endemic plant species include- Nevada primrose, Waxflower, Pennell’s whitlowgrass, Intermountain wavewing, Mt. Wheeler sandwort, etc.

Examples of Endemic species

There are several ways in which a species may come to be endemic to a particular area. A broadly distributed population may disappear from several habitats due to changes which have occurred in their natural habitat. The changes could be an influx of predators, human activities, and climate changes.

All other species that were widely distributed around the world starts to die out until the species becomes forcefully restrained to just one region.

For example, Endemic species, such as the tortoises of the Galápagos and the lemurs of Madagascar can be found small islands. Big islands also provide the same isolation but on a larger scale.

Antarctica Hawaii and Australia are all huge land masses where we can find a lot of endemic species. Kangaroos, koalas, and polar bears are all endemic to these places.

In the case of endemic plants, sometimes species become endemic due to habitat destruction as discussed above.

The Redwood Forest on the West Coast of the United States has become endemic as it is now almost entirely limited to California. While there was a time when Redwoods used to cover much of the United States but have been destroyed by logging and are now limited to a small conservation area.

Diseases, on the other hand, can also be endemic. An endemic disease may be geographically isolated or it may be isolated to a certain group. Malaria is an example of an endemic disease because it is mostly limited to small pockets of infection in Africa.

Source: TH/WEB

Volatility index

GS-III : Economic Issues Terminology

Volatility index

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Econo

  • VIX (Volatility index) is an index used to measure the near term volatility expectations of the markets.
    • Volatility signifies the rate and magnitude of change in the stock price or index value.
  • The movement in the VIX index reflects the overall market volatility expectations over the next 30 days.
  • Given the nature of the index, it is also known as ‘fear gauge’ or ‘fear index’.
  • The VIX index was first created by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and introduced in 1993 based on the prices of S&P 500 index.

India VIX

  • The India VIX was launched by National Stock Exchange (NSE) in 2010 and is based on the computation methodology of CBOE though amended to align with the Indian markets.
  • India VIX indicates the Indian market’s volatility from the investor’s perception.
  • Volatility and the value of India VIX move parallel. i.e a spike in the VIX value means the market is expecting higher volatility in the near future and vice versa.
  • India VIX also has a strong negative correlation with Nifty. i.e every time India VIX falls, Nifty rises and when India VIX rises, Nifty falls.
  • VIX value is among the important parameters that are taken into account for pricing of options contracts, which are one of the most popular derivative instruments.

National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. (NSE)

  • NSE is the leading stock exchange of India, located in Mumbai.
  • The NSE was established in 1992 as the first dematerialized electronic exchange in the country.

Source: TH

US Cancels Red Flag

GS-II : International Relations U.S.A

The US Cancels Red Flag

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR

Recently, the U.S. Air Force cancelled the Phase-I of Red Flag due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • It is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise meant to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment over the Joint Pacific Alaska range complex.
  • It is USA’s flagship multilateral air exercise.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) was also to take part in the exercise with its Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets.

    • The IAF joined Red Flag for the first time in 2008 in Nevada.
    • It has deployed Su-30MKI, Jaguar strike aircraft, the Il-78 tankers and the C-17 strategic airlift aircraft in the exercise.
    • However, it had said it would not take part in every edition of the biennial exercise because of the high cost involved.

Source: TH

Gond Tribals

GS-I :

Gond Tribals

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

  • While people are struggling for masks and sanitisers in the urban areas, Gond tribal people living in Panna, Madhya Pradesh have devised their own way to make masks to fight coronavirus.
  • Tribal people are making masks with medicinal leaves and following traditional ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Gond Tribe

  • Gonds are one of the largest tribal groups in the world.
  • They mostly live in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.
  • Gonds are subdivided into four tribes:
    • Raj Gonds
    • Madia Gonds
    • Dhurve Gonds
    • Khatulwar Gonds
  • Their staple food is two kinds of millet: Kodo and kutki.
    • Rice is mostly consumed during festival feasts.
  • Gonds believe that earth, water and air are ruled by Gods.
  • They majorly speak Gondi which is an unwritten language of the Dravidian family.
  • It has been notified as a Scheduled Tribe.

Refer: https://www.aspireias.com/current-affairs/Tribal-rituals-for-lockdown/28-03-2020

Source: TH

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