Current Affairs Analysis

5th & 6th April 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Indian migrants across India; COVID-19 treatment under Ayushman Bharat Scheme; Ayushman Bharat Scheme; Starving herons; Indian pond heron; Centre exempts several activities from green clearance, Economists comparing current crisis with Great Depression; The Great Depression; Bengaluru Karaga; Mahavir Jayanti; BPMarrk: cheaper tool to assay crude; Challenge Covid-19 Competition (C3); India’s electricity scenario; Jagjivan Ram; Rapid antibody based blood tests for COVID-19
By IASToppers
April 06, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes and policies

  • COVID-19 treatment under Ayushman Bharat Scheme

Economy

  • Indian migrants across India

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Starving herons
  • Centre exempts several activities from green clearance

Indian History

  • Economists comparing current crisis with Great Depression

Art and Culture

  • Bengaluru Karaga
  • Mahavir Jayanti

Science & Technology

  • BPMarrk: cheaper tool to assay crude

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Challenge Covid-19 Competition (C3)
  • India’s electricity scenario
  • Jagjivan Ram
  • Rapid antibody based blood tests for COVID-19

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Government Schemes and policies

COVID-19 treatment under Ayushman Bharat Scheme

The Central government has decided to provide free testing and treatment of Coronavirus under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.

Significance:

  • The objective of the decision was to increase the supply of testing and treatment facilities and increase access by roping in the private sector through AB-PM JAY scheme as per the ICMR guidelines.
  • This move will help more than 50 crore Ayushman beneficiaries to avail free testing and treatment in designated private hospitals across India.

Ayushman Bharat Scheme:

  • It provides an insurance cover upto Rs 5 lakh per family, per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization.
  • Ayushman Bharat is the National Health Protection Mission with an aim to provide health insurance cover to nearly 50 crore Indians.
  • The first part of Ayushman Bharat – the health and wellness centres, was launched in April 14, 2018 in Chhattisgarh while the second part –the health assurance scheme was launched in Ranchi in September 2018.

Features:

  • PMJAY has become the world’s largest fully government-financed health protection scheme.
  • Its stated objective is to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • It provides cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service.
  • A dedicated PM-JAY family identification number is allotted to eligible families.
  • Additionally, an e-card is also given to beneficiary at the time of hospitalization.
  • The scheme gives priority to girl child, women and senior citizens and Free treatment available at all public and empaneled private hospitals in times of need.

Benefits under PMJAY:

  • It provides an insurance cover upto Rs 5 lakh per family, per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization.
  • The health services covered under the programme include hospitalization expenses, day care surgeries, follow-up care, pre and post hospitalization expense benefits and new born child/children services.

Eligibility:

  • Families who are identified by the government on the basis of deprivation and occupational criteria using the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 database both in rural and urban areas are entitled for PM-JAY.
  • The beneficiaries are identified based on the deprivation categories (D1 to D7) identified under the SECC database for rural areas and 11 occupational criteria for urban areas
  • Additionally, any family that has an active Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) card as of February 2018 is covered.

Need for this scheme:

  • According to 71st Round of National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), 85.9 per cent of rural households and 82 per cent of urban households have no access to healthcare insurance/assurance.
  • More than 17 per cent of population spends at least 10 per cent of household budgets on health services.
  • The NSSO found that catastrophic healthcare-related expenditure pushes families into debt.
  • More than 24 per cent households in rural India and 18 per cent population in the urban area have met their healthcare expenses through some sort of borrowings.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

Indian migrants across India

The exodus of migrant workers from the cities following the announcement of the 21-day lockdown threw the spotlight on the vast number of Indians who live outside their home states.

Key Facts:

  • As per the 2011 census, the total number of internal migrants in India is 45.36 crore or 37% of the country’s population.
  • This includes inter-state migrants as well as migrants within each state, while the recent exodus is largely due to the movement of inter-state migrants.
  • The annual net flows amount to about 1 per cent of the working age population.
  • As per Census 2011, the size of the workforce was 48.2 crore people.
  • This figure is estimated to have exceeded 50 crore in 2016 — the Economic Survey pegged the size of the migrant workforce at roughly 20 per cent or over 10 crore in 2016.

Estimates for 2020:

  • While there is no official data for the inter-state migrants in the country, estimates for 2020 have been made by Professor Amitabh Kundu of Research and information System for Developing countries.
  • His estimates, which are based on the 2011 Census, NSSO surveys and economic survey, show that there are a total of about 65 million inter-state migrants, and 33 per cent of these migrants are workers.
  • By conservative estimates, 30 per cent of them are casual workers and another 30 per cent work on regular basis but in the informal sector.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Bihar account for the origin of 25 per cent and 14 per cent of the total inter-state migrants, followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, at 6 per cent and 5 per cent.

Migration in cities:

  • Delhi has a migration rate of 43%, of whom 88% are from other states and 63% are from rural areas.
  • Mumbai has a migration rate of 55%, with 46% migrants from other states and 52% from rural areas.
  • Surat has a migration rate of 65%, with 50% migrants from other states and 76% from rural areas.

District wise migration data:

  • District-wise migration data in the Economic Survey for 2016-17 show that the highest influx of migrants within the country is seen in city-districts such as Gurugram, Delhi and Mumbai along with Gautam Buddh Nagar (Uttar Pradesh); Indore, Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh); Bangalore (Karnataka); Thiruvallur, Chennai, Kancheepuram, Erode, Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu).

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Starving herons

Several blue herons were spotted dead by the personnel of Neendakara Coastal police station, Kerala. The autopsy has revealed the cause of death as starvation.

Herons:

  • The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 64 globally recognised species.
  • The herons are medium- to large-sized birds with long legs and necks.
  • They exhibit very little sexual dimorphism in size.

Indian pond heron:

  • The Indian pond heron or paddybird is a small heron.
  • It is of Old World origins, breeding in southern Iran and east to the Indian subcontinent, Burma, and Sri Lanka.
  • Pond Heron is the most common species of Heron found in India.
  • They have adapted themselves well to live alongside humans and can be seen both in the wilderness and in ponds/ lakes within urban areas.
  • IUCN status: Least Concern.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Centre exempts several activities from green clearance

  • The Centre has recently amended the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.

What is the move?

  • As per the notification of Ministry of Environment the extraction of ordinary clay or sand by manual mining, by the ‘kumhars’ (potter) to prepare earthen pots, extraction of clay or sand by manual mining by earthen tile makers shall be exempted from the condition of acquiring environmental clearance.
  • With the new amendment the removal of sand deposits from agricultural fields after floods will not require green clearance.
  • The exemption from the requirement of environmental clearance shall also be given to customary extraction of sand and ordinary earth from sources situated in Gram Panchayat for personal use or community work in villages.
  • The exemptions include the community works, like, de-silting of village ponds or tanks, construction of village roads, ponds or bunds undertaken in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment and Guarantee Schemes, other Government sponsored schemes and community efforts.
  • It also includes- Extraction or sourcing or borrowing of ordinary earth for linear projects such as roads, pipelines, etc. Dredging and de-silting of dams, reservoirs, weirs, barrages, river and canals for the purpose of their maintenance, upkeep and disaster management.
[Ref: Economic Times]

Indian History

Economists comparing current crisis with Great Depression

With the novel coronavirus pandemic severely affecting the global economy, some experts have begun comparing the current crisis with the Great Depression — the devastating economic decline of the 1930s that went on to shape countless world events.

Concerns:

  • Experts have warned that unemployment levels in some countries could reach those from the 1930s era, when the unemployment rate was as high as around 25 per cent in the United States.
  • Currently, unemployment levels in the US are already estimated to be at 13 per cent, highest since the Great Depression, according to a New York Times report.

What was the Great Depression?

  • The Great Depression was a major economic crisis that began in the United States in 1929, and went to have a worldwide impact until 1939.
  • It began on October 24, 1929, a day that is referred to as “Black Thursday”, when a monumental crash occurred at the New York Stock Exchange as stock prices fell by 25 per cent.
  • While the Wall Street crash was triggered by minor events, the extent of the decline was due to more deep-rooted factors such as a fall in aggregate demand, misplaced monetary policies, and an unintended rise in inventory levels.
  • In the United States, prices and real output fell dramatically.
  • Industrial production fell by 47 per cent, the wholesale price index by 33 per cent, and real GDP by 30 per cent.
  • The havoc caused in the US spread to other countries mainly due to the gold standard, which linked most of the world’s currencies by fixed exchange rates.
  • In almost every country of the world, there were massive job losses, deflation, and a drastic contraction in output.
  • Unemployment in the US increased from 3.2 per cent to 24.9 per cent between 1929 and 1933.
  • In the UK, it rose from 7.2 per cent to 15.4 per cent between 1929 and 1932.
  • The Depression caused extreme human suffering, and many political upheavals took place around the world.
  • In Europe, economic stagnation that the Depression caused is believed to be the principal reason behind the rise of fascism, and consequently the Second World War.
  • It had a profound impact on institutions and policymaking globally, and led to the gold standard being abandoned.

How did Great Depression impact India?

  • The Depression had an important impact on India’s freedom struggle.
  • Due to the global crisis, there was a drastic fall in agricultural prices, the mainstay of India’s economy, and a severe credit contraction occurred as colonial policymakers refused to devalue the rupee.
  • The decline of agricultural prices, which was aggravated by British financial policy in India, made substantial sections of the peasantry rise in protest and this protest was articulated by members of the National Congress.
  • The effects of the Depression became visible around the harvest season in 1930, soon after Mahatma Gandhi had launched the Civil Disobedience movement in April the same year.
  • There were “No Rent” campaigns in many parts of the country, and radical Kisan Sabhas were started in Bihar and eastern UP.
  • Agrarian unrest provided a groundswell of support to the Congress, whose reach was yet to extend into rural India.
  • The endorsement by farming classes is believed to be among the reasons that enabled the party to achieve its landslide victory in the 1936-37 provincial elections held under the Government of India Act, 1935– which significantly increased the party’s political might for years to come.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Art and Culture

Bengaluru Karaga

The famous Bengaluru Karaga will be held as per schedule on April 8, but it will be a low key event due to coronavirus.

About Bengaluru Karaga:

  • Bengaluru Karaga is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in the heart of Bengaluru.
  • Bengaluru Karaga is primarily a well-known tradition of ‘Vahnikula Kshatriyas Thigala’ community in southern Karnataka.
  • The Karaga festival is generally led by the men of the community.
  • Some say the festival dates back to the 16th century.
  • According to legend, Draupadi promised to return once a year during Chaitra Poornima when the Pandavas asked her to stay back after she had defeated Tripurasura with an army of soldiers – Veerakumaras.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti is being observed on April 6 throughout the country.

About:

  • Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most important festivals in Jainism, and it celebrates the birth anniversary of the 24th Tirthankara Mahavir, who played a significant role in preaching Jainism.
  • Lord Mahavira was the founder of Jainism.

Significance and history:

  • It was on the 13th day in the month of Chaitra in 599 BCE or 615 BCE that Mahavir was born, according to the Digambar and Swetambara school of Jainism respectively, in Kundagram, Bihar.
  • When he was 30 years old, Mahavir abandoned all his worldly possessions in search of a spiritual path.
  • He meditated and led an austere life for around 12 years before attaining ‘Kevala Jnana’ or omniscience.
  • Mahavir believed in a preached ahimsa or non-violence, satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-attachment).
  • Mahavir’s teachings were put together by his main disciple, Indrabhuti Gautama.

Rituals:

  • On Mahavir Jayanti, a procession takes place with Lord Mahavir’s idol on a chariot and people recite religious songs on the way.
  • On this day, the Jains around the world celebrate by doing charity, saying prayers and observing fasts.
  • They also visit Jain temples, conduct mass prayers and meditate.
  • On this day, and in general, Jains all around eat satvik food, which includes freshly prepared vegetarian meals made without onion or garlic.
  • Satvik diets do not use these two root vegetables and are prepared with minimum harm to living creatures.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Science & Technology

BPMarrk: cheaper tool to assay crude

The country’s second largest national oil marketer Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd has developed a novel technology to test the quality of crude oil which is time as well as cost efficient.

About:

  • The R&D team of Bharat Petroleum has developed a crude horoscope predictor tool called ‘BPMarrk’ to correctly predict crude oil properties.
  • It can predict around 500 properties of any crude using four parameters and can help generate the output within an hour compared to the other conventional processes which require three-four weeks of laboratory testing.

Significance:

  • The traditional way of assaying takes 30-45 days for a complete testing and the cost averages at Rs 25 lakh.
  • But the BPMarrk takes around 30 minutes for a four-stage test and at the fraction of the resent cost.
  • A salient and industry-friendly use of the tool is that it can help update the crude assays of oil wells wherein the properties get changed with ageing.
  • This universal tool can be used by multiple stakeholders across the crude value-chain for fast business and operational decisions related to crude buying/ booking and price negotiations.
[Ref: Economic Times]

Key Facts for Prelims

Challenge Covid-19 Competition (C3)

  • National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India has come up with a call inviting innovative citizens to participate in its Challenge Covid-19 Competition (C3).

India’s electricity scenario

  • India is one of the largest synchronous interconnected grids in the world, with an installed capacity of about 370 gigawatts (3,70,000 mega watts), and a normal baseload power demand of roughly 150 gigawatts.
  • Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSOCO), the national electricity grid operator, projects daily demand of power and regulates supply from power generators based on these projections to maintain frequency (demand-supply balance) round the clock to prevent the grid from tripping.
  • Of India’s total electricity demand load pattern, industrial and agricultural consumption accounts for 40 % and 20 % load, while commercial electricity consumption accounts for 8 % of demand. Domestic load is about 30-32 % of total load during the normal times.

Jagjivan Ram

  • Prime Minister paid tributes to freedom fighter and former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram on his 112th birth anniversary.
  • Popularly called Babuji, Jagjivan Ram fought for the rights of the underprivileged.

Rapid antibody based blood tests for COVID-19

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued an advisory to start rapid antibody based blood tests for COVID-19 in areas reporting clusters and in large migration gatherings or evacuee centres.
  • At present, the government uses the RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests to detect the coronavirus from samples of throat or nasal swab of people with symptoms or high-risk individuals.

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