Current Affairs Analysis

19th June 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

India China Galwan Valley standoff; Rule of Law Index 2020; Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan; DBT – AMTZ Mobile Diagnostic Unit; Dexamethasone; Ratnagiri oil refining; Home Finance firms; World Investment Report 2020; Strategic importance of Galwan valley; Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra; Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation; National Centre for Good Governance; NavRakshak; Umifenovir; Micius; Juneteenth etc.
By IASToppers
June 19, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Plea on Rule of Law Index

Government Schemes and Policies

  • Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

Issues related to Health and Education

  • DBT – AMTZ Mobile Diagnostic Unit
  • Dexamethasone

Economy

  • India working to boost its oil refining capacity
  • RBI to tighten rules for Home finance firms
  • World Investment Report 2020

Defence & Security Issues

  • India China Galwan Valley standoff

Art and Culture

  • Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra stayed

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation
  • National Centre for Good Governance
  • NavRakshak
  • Umifenovir
  • Micius
  • Juneteenth

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Polity & Governance

Plea on Rule of Law Index

The Supreme Court has asked the Central government for setting up expert panels to boost India’s prospects in the Rule of Law Index.

Major Highlights:

  • As per a petition in SC the World Justice Project announced the Rule of Law Index and ranked India in the 69th position.
  • India has never been ranked even among top 50 in the Index, but successive governments did nothing to improve international ranking of India.
  • The petitionsought a direction to the government to constitute expert committees to examine the best practices of the countries ranked among top 20 in Rule of Law Index-2020 and accordingly take steps to improve the pathetic ranking of India.
  • Poor rule of law has a devastating effect on right to life, liberty, economic justice, fraternity, individual dignity and national integration.

Rule of Law Index:

  • The Rule of Law Index is an assessment tool by the World Justice Project which aims to offer a detailed picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice.
  • The index covers.
  • India ranked 69th among 128 countries in the latest edition (2020) of the Index.
  • Index assesses performance in eight sectors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, public order and security, regulatory enforcement and civil and criminal justice.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Government Schemes and Policies

Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

The Government of India has decided to launch a massive rural public works scheme Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan on 20 June 2020.

Aim:

  • To empower and provide livelihood opportunities to the returnee migrant workers and rural citizens.

Major Highlights:

  • Public works worth Rs 50,000 crore to be carried out under Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan.
  • It is a focused campaign of 125 days across 116 districts in 6 states to work in mission mode to help migrant workers.
  • The work will aim to provide employment to the migrant workers on one hand and create infrastructure in the rural regions of the country on the other hand.
  • A total of 116 Districts with more than 25,000 returnee migrant workers across six States, namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha have been chosen for the campaign which includes 27 Aspirational Districts.
  • These districts are estimated to cover about 2/3 of such migrant workers.

Stakeholders:

  • The Abhiyaan will be a coordinated effort between 12 different Ministries/Departments, namely, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport & Highways, Mines, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Environment, Railways, Petroleum & Natural Gas, New & Renewable Energy, Border Roads, Telecom and Agriculture.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health and Education

DBT – AMTZ Mobile Diagnostic Unit

India’s first I-Lab (Infectious disease diagnostic lab) for COVID-19 testing in rural and inaccessible areas of India was inaugurated recently.

DBT-AMTZ COMManD:

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology along with Andhra Pradesh Med-tech Zone (AMTZ) has initiated the DBT-AMTZ COMManD [COVID Medtech Manufacturing Development] Consortia to address the shortage of critical healthcare technologies in India and move progressively towards a stage of self-sufficiency.
  • Under this, India’s first I- lab (infectious disease diagnostic lab) has been built at AMTZ in record time of 8 days.

Infectious Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (I-LAB):

  • This is a mobile diagnostic unit with biosafety facility.
  • The I- lab is a BSL-2 facility with on-site ELISA, RT-PCR, Bio chemistry analysers.
  • It can run 50 RT-PCR reactions and about 200 ELISA in a day.
  • To promote last mile access of testing to rural India, DBT under the Covid-Command strategy has supported building of mobile testing labs through AMTZ.
  • The unique feature of these mobile testing labs is their utility in diagnosing other infectious diseases beyond the COVID-19.
  • The labs will be provided to the regional/City hubs and they will deploy it further in the interior, inaccessible parts of the region.
[Ref: PIB]

Dexamethasone

The researchers from the Recovery Trial reported that Dexamethasone helps reduce death rates in certain COVID-19 patients.

What is dexamethasone?

  • It is a low cost, anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used to treat conditions in which the body’s immune system does not function properly, and causes inflammation and tissue damage.
  • Dexamethasone reduces the production of the chemicals that cause inflammation and also reduces the activity of the immune system by affecting the way white blood cells function.
  • Dexamethasone falls in a category called corticosteroids, which closely mimic cortisol, the hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands in humans.

Usage:

  • It is commonly used in treatment for rheumatological inflammatory conditions: inflammations of muscles, inflammation of blood vessels, chronic arthritis, and lupus.
  • It is used in lung diseases, kidney inflammation and eye inflammation, and to reduce swelling associated with tumours of the brain and spine.
  • In cancer patients, it is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs.

Recent findings:

  • The Recovery Trial in the UK investigating dexamethasone has announced the results of the dexamethasone trial, where 2,104 enrolled patients were administered 6 mg of the drug for 10 days.
  • The drug was found to have reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one-fifth in patients receiving only oxygen.
  • The drug was found to have reduced the 28-day mortality rate by 17 per cent, with a highly significant trend showing the greatest benefit among patients requiring ventilation.
  • However, the study found no evidence of benefit for patients who did not require oxygen.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Economy

India working to boost its oil refining capacity

With a view to double India’s refining capacity for crude oil to 450-500 million tonnes per annum by 2030, the construction of a new refinery in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra with a refining capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum is set to start soon.

Why is this boost in capacity needed?

  • India’s current refining capacity of 249.9 million tonnes per annum.
  • It exceeds domestic consumption of petroleum products which was 213.7 million tonnes in the previous fiscal.
  • However, India’s consumption of petroleum products is estimated to rise to 335 million tonnes per annum by 2030 and to 472 million tonnes by 2040.
  • Hence, India needs to boost refining capacity to meet growing demand.

How will this be achieved?

  • The new refinery project in Ratnagiri is one of the key projects in the planned expansion of oil refinery.
  • It has received investment from Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s national oil companies — Saudi Aramco and ADNOC respectively.
  • The companies together own 50 per cent of the project while the remaining 50 per cent is owned by Indian PSUs, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd.
  • A key project includes a joint venture between HPCL and the Rajasthan government for a new refinery in Barmer Rajasthan with a refining capacity of 9 million tonnes per annum.
  • Other includes major expansion projects in existing refineries in Panipat, Paradip and Koyali.

Roadblock:

  • Many of the projects by the state-run oil refiners have delayed in the past because of issues in acquiring the required land as well as in obtaining environmental clearances.
[Ref: Indian Express]

RBI to tighten rules for Home finance firms

Reserve Bank of India has proposed stringent norms for housing finance companies by mandating 75% of their home loans to individual borrowers by 2024.

Housing finance company:

  • A housing finance company is considered a non-banking financial company under the RBI’s regulations.
  • A company is treated as an NBFC if its financial assets are more than 50% of its total assets and income from financial assets is more than 50% of the gross income.

Major Highlights:

  • In the draft norms, the RBI proposed the definition of qualifying assets for housing finance companies (HFCs).
  • It said at least 50% of net assets should be in the nature of ‘qualifying assets’ for HFCs, of which at least 75% should be towards individual housing loans.
  • Such HFCs which do not fulfil the criteria will be treated as NBFCInvestment and Credit Companies (NBFC-ICCs) and will be required to approach the RBI for conversion of their Certificate of Registration from HFC to NBFC-ICC.
  • The NBFC-ICCs which want to continue as HFCs would have to follow a roadmap to make 75% of their assets individual housing loans.

Qualifying Assets:

  • The RBI defined qualifying assets as:
    • Loans to individuals or a group of individuals, including co-operative societies, for construction/purchase of new dwelling units,
    • Loans to individuals for renovation of existing dwelling units,
    • Lending to builders for construction of residential dwelling units.
  • All other loans will be treated as non-housing loans.

Double financing:

  • In order to address concerns on double financing due to lending to construction companies in the group and also to individuals purchasing flats from the latter, the HFC concerned may choose to lend only at one level.
[Ref: The Hindu]

World Investment Report 2020

The World Investment Report, 2020 has been released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development recently.

Major Highlights:

  • India jumped from 12th position in 2018 to ninth in 2019 in the list of the world’s largest Foreign Direct Investment recipients.
  • The FDI of India has increased from 42 billion USD in 2018 to 51 billion USD in 2019.
  • India was among the top five countries in Asia in terms of FDI attracted.
  • The FDI inflows in South Asia increased by 10% with the investments driven largely by the growth of India.
  • The Global FDI flows in 2020 are forecasted to decrease by up to 40%, from their 2019 value of $1.54 trillion.
[Ref: Live Mint]

Defence & Security Issues

India China Galwan Valley standoff

There has been a violent face-off between the army troops of India and China in the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh region.

Major Highlights:

  • The violent face off with several causalities on both sides took place even as India and China are engaged in military-level talks and engagements.
  • Since 1975, this was the first casualties for India due to a clash with the PLA.
  • In 1975, Indian Patrol was ambushed by the Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh.

The strategic importance of Galwan River Valley:

  • The Galwan river is the highest ridgeline and it allows the Chinese to dominate the Shyok route passes, which is close to the river.
  • Chinese are keen on controlling this area as they fear that the Indian side could end up threatening their position on the Aksai Chin plateau by using the Galwan river valley.
  • India is trying to construct a feeder road emanating from Darbuk-Shyok Village – Daulat Beg Oldie road (DS-DBO road).
  • This road runs along the Shyok River and is the most critical line of communications close to Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Based on satellite imagery, the Chinese had built a road until the middle point of the Galwan valley by 2016. And since then, they have managed to extend this to some point closer to the LAC in the sector.

The story so far:

  • Since May 5-6, troops of both countries had a face-off in the Galwan River sector.
  • The People’s Liberation Army (Chinese troops) reportedly crossed the LAC from their bases in this sector.
  • The face-off took place at a point which is known as Patrol Point 14 (PP14), which is on the Indian side and also close to the LAC.
  • The Indian government has decided to continue with the infrastructure work in the entire Ladakh sector including the Galwan River area.
[Ref: Financial Express]

Art and Culture

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra stayed

The Supreme Court stayed the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri scheduled on June 23 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Jagannath Rath Yatra:

  • Jagannath Rath Yatra is an annual event which is celebrated in the month of June or July.
  • It is also called Gundicha Yatra, Chariot Festival, Dasavatara and Navadina Yatra.
  • The festival is celebrated on the 2nd day of the Shukla Paksha, Ashadh month according to the traditional Oriya Calendar.
  • It is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), his sister Goddess Subhadra and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra.
  • During this festival, the wooden idols of the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple placed in three different decorative chariots.

Jagannath Temple:

  •  The Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Vishnu.
  • The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards, on the site of an earlier temple, and begun by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, first of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.
  • The Puri temple is famous for its annual Ratha yatra, or chariot festival.
  • The temple is one of the holiest Vaishnava Hindu Char Dham sites comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Key Facts for Prelims

Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation

  • Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) is a bilateral assistance programme launched by the Government of India in 1964.
  • It is a demand-driven, response-oriented programme that focuses on addressing the needs of developing countries through innovative technological cooperation between India and the partnering nation.
  • ITEC covers 158 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and several Pacific and Caribbean nations.
  • Assistance under ITEC covers the six areas of training for civil and defence personnel, projects and project related activities such as consultancy services, study tours, donation of equipment, deputation of Indian experts in the partner nation and aid for disaster relief.
  • Personnel training under ITEC covers a wide and varied range of sectors such as banking, IT and computers, personnel management and administrative and scientific areas.
  • ITEC is administered by the Ministry of External Affairs and all expenses including international airfare, boarding, lodging and tuition fees of selected personnel are borne by the Indian authorities.

National Centre for Good Governance

  • The National Centre for Good Governance is an autonomous institute under the aegis of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India.
  • Its head office is at New Delhi and branch office at Mussoorie.
  • The NCGG has been set up to assist in bringing about governance reforms through studies, training, knowledge sharing and promotion of good ideas.
  • It seeks to carry out policy relevant research and prepare case studies; curate training courses for civil servants from India and other developing countries; provide a platform for sharing of existing knowledge and pro-actively seek out and develop ideas for their implementation in the government, both at the States and the Central level.
  • The National Centre for Good Governance traces its origin to the National Institute of Administrative Research (NIAR). NIAR was set up in 1995 by the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA).
  • NIAR was subsequently renamed with an expanded mandate, as National Centre for Good Governance, which was inaugurated on February 24th, 2014.

NavRakshak

  • NavRakshak is an innovative breathable fabric material PPE kit developed indigenously by Indian Navy.
  • The manufacturing know-how of NavRakshak PPE has been developed at the Innovation Cell of the Institute of Naval Medicine of the Indian Navy.
  • It is cost effective as it does not require any major capital investment and can be adopted even by gown manufacturing units using basic stitching expertise.
  • The PPE fabric does not require any lamination with polymer or plastic-like film.
  • This enables the PPE to permeate heat and moisture from the skin of the user thus promising comfort.
  • The enhanced breathability factor in the PPE suit makes it attractive to frontline health workers who are required to wear these suits for long hours and face extreme discomfort while working.

Umifenovir

  • CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) Lucknow has received permission for carrying out Phase III controlled trial of antiviral drug Umifenovir.
  • Umifenovir is mainly used for treatment of influenza and is available in China and Russia, and has recently come into prominence due to its potential use for Covid19 patients. 

Micius

  • Micius is the world’s first quantum-enabled satellite launched by China in 2016.
  • Micius has successfully brought entanglement-based quantum cryptography to its original ground stations 1,200 km apart recently.
  • The satellite sent simultaneous streams of entangled photons to the ground stations to establish a direct link between the two of them.
  • This gave them robust, unbreakable cryptographic protection without the need to trust the satellite.

Juneteenth

  • Juneteenth or Emancipation Day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19.
  • Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when General Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and read a federal order abolishing the institution of slavery in the state.
  • Though President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed to end slavery in 1863; it took the order to reach Texas in June 1865, as it was the remotest state.

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