Current Affairs Analysis

11th April 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden; Three theories of reinfection of covid-19; Computer based nano materials by INST Mohali; what is Piezoelectricity? MaskOn policy; National Human Rights Commission; Bureau of Civil Aviation Security; Post- coronavirus period on job market; Containment zones and Buffer zones; Drones drive surveillance in containment zones; Model APMC Act of 2003; Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign; InnerHour; Gamosa
By IASToppers
April 11, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Drones drive surveillance in containment zones
  • Now, masks mandatory while stepping outside

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Three theories can explain worrying trend
  • Scarcity of drugs, devices imminent, government warned
  • Capital now has 30 containment zones, nearby areas are buffer

Social Issues

  • NHRC asks govt. about measures for mentally ill

Economy

  • BCAS extends validity of certifications
  • To boost sales, Centre asks states to suspend farm law
  • Post-pandemic period will see turnaround in job market

Defence & Security Issues

  • BSF told to suspend border passes for Bangladesh, Pakistan

Science & Technology

  • Computer based nano materials by INST Mohali

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign
  • Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden
  • InnerHour
  • Gamosa

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Government Schemes & Policies

Drones drive surveillance in containment zones

Police are using drones extensively to watch at ration shops, banks and religious places in every subdivision, where people gather.

  • Flying drones is prohibited in Delhi because of security risks. Only government agencies are allowed to use it.

Use of Drone for surveillance of COVID-19

  • Several European and central Asian countries, such as France, Italy and Kazakhstan have since modified drones to remotely identify lockdown violators in crowded areas and also installed public announcement (PA) systems on drones.
  • In India, Madhya Pradesh’s Indore was among the first to use drones to spray disinfectant, followed by Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

Are those spraying harmful to humans?

  • The solution (1% Sodium Hypochlorite in water) is strong enough to emulsify the lipid (fatty) outer layer of the coronavirus, which is 900 times smaller than the width of human hair, through its soap-like action. However, it’s too weak to harm humans.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Now, masks mandatory while stepping outside

Telangana has ordered implementation of ‘MaskOn’ policy that envisages that people wore masks while stepping outside, stationed in closed spaces and interacting with others.

  • The policy was an update to an earlier advisory by the government that masks be used ‘only for the sick’. The update was based on studies in Japan that showed that MaskOn had slowed the spread of coronavirus considerably.
  • MaskOn will protect people from inhaling infected droplets released while sneezing, coughing and talking. Therefore, homemade cotton double layer reusable masks were recommended for use as the first line of protection.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Issues related to Health & Education

Three theories can explain worrying trend

As the whole world puts up a collective fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, some worrying news has cropped up from across Asia — patients who tested negative of the disease are getting infected with the virus (SARS-CoV-2) again.

  • Such cases have been reported from South Korea, China and Japan. Three probable explanations are being proffered to explain the trend.

First possible explanation:

  • The process of Patients being reinfected who have tested negative are is unusual as people who have already contracted the disease build antibodies against the pathogen that offers protection for at least some time.
  • This is due to the fact that the time period for protection by such covid-19 antibodies are not know yet. 
  • Two studies showed sustainable immunoglobulin (igG) levels one to two years after SARS-CoV infection, but it is uncertain whether this finding can be generalised to SARS- CoV-2. It is also uncertain whether sustained levels of antibodies will provide full protection against reinfection.

Second possible explanation:

  • The second reason offered on the front was reactivation of the virus in some patients.
  • People have simmering virus replication for an unusually long time and this can occasionally result in late reactivation.

Third possible explanation:

  • The third possibility is the tests declaring the patients to be free of the virus are giving false negative reactions. 
  • This means that other than improving diagnostic tests, there is a need to improve sampling techniques.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

Scarcity of drugs, devices imminent, government warned

A countrywide shortage of medicines is likely in the coming weeks, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has warned the Home Ministry, urging it to take immediate steps to help drug makers resume production under the current lockdown.

Suggestion by Department of Pharmaceuticals

  • Underlining that half of India’s output of pharmaceuticals is exported as global markets offer better prices, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) stressed that this could lead to disproportionate shortages in the domestic market.
  • Citing multiple factors responsible for the impasse at several pharma units in the country, the DoP has identified the unavailability of labour, transport and courier services as the biggest problems, along with the closure of ancillary industries that are not being considered essential by local administrations despite the Home Ministry’s directions.
  • Reverse migration of labour and local workers not reporting to work due to lack of public transport options and the fear of police action, combined with family and local community pressure, has made it difficult to operate factories even at lower than normal capacity.
  • Even drivers who are not stranded in between trips are unwilling to take up work due to the fear of ill treatment by the police. Hence, there is a dire need to not only address the apprehensions of these drivers but also to incentivise them with insurance etc.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Capital now has 30 containment zones, nearby areas are buffer

The Delhi government declared 7 more areas as containment zones, taking the total to 30, as authorities stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease that has infected 903 people in the city.

  • Delhi also decided to set up 19 buffer zones – immediate areas next to containment zones – as a second line of defence to break the chain of transmission of the highly infectious disease.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Social Issues

NHRC asks govt. about measures for mentally ill

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asked the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to address the concerns of the mentally ill people on the streets during the lockdown to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.

  • The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

About NHRC:

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted in 1993.
  • It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (PHRA).
  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  • Recommendations given by NHRC are just advisory and not binding in nature.
  • Apart from enquiry into complaints of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, the Commission also studies treaties and international instruments on human rights and make recommendations to the Government.

Composition:

The NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) consists of:

  • A Chairperson, retired Chief Justice of India
  • One Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
  • One Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions of (1. Minorities 2. SC and ST 3. Women) serve as ex officio members.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

BCAS extends validity of certifications

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has extended the validity of refresher training certifications that are mandatory for assigning flight/ground duties to pilots, crew, ground staff and others.

About Bureau of Civil Aviation Security

  • BCAS is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
  • It is headed by an officer of the rank of Director General of Police and is designated as Director General (Bureau of Civil Aviation). He implement Annexure 17 to Chicago convention of International civil aviation organization (ICAO).  
  • Located in Delhi, It has four Regional Offices located at International airports i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Functions

  • Laying down Aviation Security Standards in accordance with Annex 17 to Chicago Convention of ICAO for airport operators, airlines operators, and their security agencies responsible for implementing AVSEC (Aviation Security) measures.
  • Monitoring the implementation of security rules and regulations and carrying out survey of security needs.
  • Planning and coordination of Aviation security matters
  • Conducting Surprise/Dummy checks to test professional efficiency and do Mock exercise to test efficacy of Contingency Plans.

Background

  • It  was initially  set up  as  a Cell in the  Directorate General  of Civil Aviation  (DGCA) in 1978 on the  recommendation of  the Pande Committee  constituted  in the  wake of the hijacking  of the Indian Airlines  flight  in 1976.  
  • It was reorganized into an independent department in 1987 under the Ministry of Civil Aviation as a sequel to the Kanishka Tragedy in June 1985.  
[Ref: The Hindu]

To boost sales, Centre asks states to suspend farm law

The Centre has recommended that states suspend certain provisions of their respective Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts for three months to allow farmers to sell their harvest from multiple locations and to any buyer for encouraging social distancing.

  • The APMC Act regulates buying and selling of farm produce in about 5000 mandis or markets across the country. The Act empowers states to notify markets to cater to a specific area and farmers can sell in their designated markets only.

Model APMC Act of 2003:

  • The Model APMC Act, 2003 provided for the freedom of farmers to sell their produce.
  • The farmers could sell their produce directly to the contract-sponsors or in the market set up by private individuals, consumers or producers.

Salient Features of the Model APMC Act:

  • Legal persons, growers and local authorities are permitted to apply for the establishment of new markets for agricultural produce in any area. Under the existing law, markets are setup at the initiative of State Governments alone. Consequently, in a market area, more than one market can be established by private persons, farmers and consumers.
  • There will be no compulsion on the growers to sell their produce through existing markets administered by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). However, agriculturist who does not bring his produce to the market area for sale will not be eligible for election to the APMC.
  • Separate provision is made for notification of ‘Special Markets’ or ‘Special Commodities Markets’ in any market area for specified agricultural commodities to be operated in addition to existing markets.
  • A new Chapter on ‘Contract Farming’ added to provide for compulsory registration of all contract farming sponsors, recording of contract farming agreements, resolution of disputes, if any, arising out of such agreement, exemption from levy of market fee on produce covered by contract farming agreements and to provide for indemnity to producers’ title/ possession over his land from any claim arising out of the agreement.
  • Provision made for direct sale of farm produce to contract farming sponsor from farmers’ field without the necessity of routing it through notified markets.
  • Provision made for imposition of single point levy of market fee on the sale of notified agricultural commodities in any market area and discretion provided to the State Government to fix graded levy of market fee on different types of sales.
  • Licensing of market functionaries is dispensed with and a time bound procedure for registration is laid down. Registration for market functionaries provided to operate in one or more than one market areas.
  • Commission agency in any transaction relating to notified agricultural produce involving an agriculturist is prohibited and there will be no deduction towards commission from the sale proceeds payable to agriculturist seller.
  • Provision made for the purchase of agricultural produce through private yards or directly from agriculturists in one or more than one market area.
  • Provision made for the establishment of consumers’/ farmers’ market to facilitate direct sale of agricultural produce to consumers
  • Provision made for resolving of disputes, if any, arising between private market/ consumer market and Market Committee.
  • State Governments conferred power to exempt any agricultural produce brought for sale in market area, from payment of market fee.
  • Market Committees permitted to use its funds among others to create facilities like grading, standardization and quality certification; to create infrastructure on its own or through public private partnership for post-harvest handling of agricultural produce.

The State Agricultural Marketing Board made specifically responsible for:

  • Setting up of a separate marketing extension cell in the Board to provide market-led extension services to farmers;
  • Promoting grading, standardization and quality certification of notified agricultural produce and for the purpose to set up a separate Agricultural Produce Marketing Standards Bureau.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Post-pandemic period will see turnaround in job market

Once the COVID-19 dust settles down, a new order will emerge in the job market, analysts say. Several new jobs in the field of health and hygiene and technology may come up.

Analysis by experts on post- coronavirus period on job market

  • Gaming, over-the-top (OTT) services, work-from-home virtual team, project management software, e-commerce and edutech segments would see a steady increase in business.
  • Virtual medical tourism could take off to provide psychological aid and faster therapeutic healing to patients. Services and health sectors will see a spike.
  • There will be increased demand for contract employees across delivery services, fulfilment centres and contact centres to manage disaster management activities, sanitisation and cleaning work. But companies will have full-time employees in their core areas and across IT digital skills, online marketing and content writing.
  • A gig economy, a labour market characterised by prevalence of short-term work contracts and freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs, will be institutionalised post the COVID-19 mayhem.
  • In the future, full-time jobs will be fewer. The new normal will be completely different from what the job market used to be.
  • Microbiology and bio-technology, as segments, are expected to take off, as every organisation would require the services of such people to deal with infections.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

BSF told to suspend border passes for Bangladesh, Pakistan

The Border Security Force (BSF) has been asked to suspend all passes given to farmers to tend to crops, especially along the densely populated Bangladesh border, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the issue?

  • BSF had been asked to suspend all kind of passes given to people dwelling along the border and who cross the border gates or zero line to attend to their fields. Cultivation is allowed in the open area beyond the fences and up to the zero line or international boundary.
  • The topography in some areas along the border is such that the zero line passes through the houses of villagers, one part in India and the other in Bangladesh.
  • Only 42% of the area is fenced owing to the riverine and complex land boundary.

Key Fact

  • India shares 4096.7 km border with Bangladesh and 3323 km border with Pakistan.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Science & Technology

Computer based nano materials by INST Mohali

Researchers from Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, have made computer based designs of nano-materials with superhigh piezoelectricity which can be the building blocks of futuristic nano-electronics.

What is Piezoelectricity?

  • Piezoelectricity is the generation of electricity in certain materials upon application of pressure. 
  • Its applications have eased our daily lives through the use of lighters, pressure gauge, sensors etc.
  • Piezoelectricity in 2D materials was first predicted theoretically in 2012 and later observed and confirmed experimentally in monolayer in 2014. Since then, there has been a surge in research interests in piezoelectricity in graphene-like two-dimensional (2D) materials.
  • However, most of the 2D materials reported till date mainly show in-plane piezoelectricity; however, for device-based applications, out-of-plane piezoelectricity is very much desired and sought after.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

 Prelims Key Facts

Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign

  • Union Minister for HRD has launched a week long ‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign for Crowd sourcing of Ideas for Improving Online Education ecosystem of India while promoting the available digital education platforms.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden

  • Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden is the Asia’s largest tulip garden. Tulip are any of a group of cultivated bulbous herbs in the family Liliaceae.
  • The word tulip is derived from a Persian word which means turban. It is generally believed that it was called this due to the turban-shaped nature of the flower.

 InnerHour

  • Global mental health platform InnerHour will offer its online programmes and selfhelp tools pro bono to help people to better cope with stress and anxiety during the lockdown.

Gamosa

  • The COVID 19 pandemic has made the ubiquitous gamosa, a decorative cotton towel, evolve from memento to mask.
  • The Gamosa is an article of significance for the people of Assam. It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth.
  • Assam has traditionally had two types of gamosas — the ukaor plain kind used to wipe sweat or dry the body after a bath, and the phulam, which is decorated with floral motifs to be gifted as a memento or during festivals such as Bihu.
  • The gamosa’s graph as a symbol of protest rose during the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985. The extremist United Liberation Front of Asom too used the towel with “revolutionary” motifs.

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