Current Affairs Analysis

7th July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Elyments app; Mahajobs portal; Karan-4; Agreement for Emergency Response Programme for MSMEs; MSME; World Bank Group; NHAI to Rank Roads; NHAI; Zardozi Art; Bathukamma Festival; SheshNaag; 244th Independence Day of the United States; Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report; 90-90-90: Treatment for All targets; Airborne Corona; Kuwait expat quota bill; Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter; Miniature Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument; Shyama Prasad Mookerjee; Difference between Wildlife Sanctuary, National Park and Biosphere Reserve; etc.
By IASToppers
July 08, 2020

Contents

Issue related Health & Education

  • Coronavirus pandemic hit HIV treatment: UN report
  • Airborne Corona

Economy

  • Karan-4
  • Agreement for Emergency Response Programme for Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME)
  • NHAI to Rank Roads

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Kuwait Quota Bill

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary

Art & Culture

  • Zardozi Art
  • Bathukamma Festival

Science & Technology

  • Elyments
  • Moon is more metallic than thought before: NASA

Person in News

  • Shyama Prasad Mookerjee

Key Facts for Prelims

  • SheshNaag
  • 244th Independence Day of the United States
  • Mahajobs portal

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Issue related Health & Education

Coronavirus pandemic hit HIV treatment: UN report

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report 2020 was recently launched.

Key Highlights:

  • At the end of 2019, 38 million people are living with HIV, which causes AIDS, across the world.
  • 1.7 million people were infected by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in 2019. (2.8 million people were infected in 1998, when HIV/AIDS peaked).
  • In 2019, 690,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses, and 12.6 million people with HIV were not on life-saving antiretroviral therapy used to treat HIV/AIDS.

Infections :

  • 62% of the new HIV infections in 2019 occurred among vulnerable sections and their sexual partners, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and people in prison, despite them constituting a very small proportion of the general population.
  • Southern Africa have greatly curbed new infections, but they’re rising in Latin America, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Treatment

  • 81% of HIV people know that they have HIV.
  • About 25.4 million are on treatment, triple the number since 2010.
  • 67% HIV adults are getting treatment against only 53% of children.

This is the first time UNAIDS has admitted to a collective failure to meet the 2020 targets for achieving 90-90-90 targets.

90-90-90: Treatment for All targets

The Fast-Track strategy emphasizes the need for the global response to end HIV/AIDS by 2030. For this reason, it has set the following targets to be reached by 2020, in order to keep on track for 2030:

  • Fewer than 500,000 people newly infected with HIV (a 75% reduction from 2010).
  • Fewer than 500,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses
  • Elimination of HIV-related discrimination.

Concerns:

  • The HIV treatment response could be set back further, by 10 years or more, if the Covid-19 pandemic results in severe disruptions to HIV services.
  • Stigma and discrimination and widespread inequalities are major barriers to ending AIDS.

UNAIDS:

  • The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Established by United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1994, UNAIDS officially launched in January 1996.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • Headquartered: Geneva, Switzerland.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Airborne Corona

239 scientists from 32 countries have written an open letter to the World Health Organization that the virus causing Covid-19 can remain airborne for a period of time and thus transmit itself.

What does this mean?

  • A respiratory infection such as Covid-19 is transmitted through droplets of different sizes.
  • If the droplets particles are larger than 5-10 microns in diameter, they are referred to as respiratory droplets; if they are smaller than 5 microns in diameter, they are referred to as droplet nuclei.
  • WHO’s viewpoint: droplets containing the virus, produced during speech, coughing, sneezing etc, are larger than 5-10 microns in diameter and eventually fall to the ground after travelling less than 1 metre.
  • Scientists viewpoint: the virus can be present in droplet nuclei (less than 5 microns in diameter) that do travel distances longer than 1 metre, and can remain in the air for a longer time.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Economy

Karan-4

Karan 4 (Co 0238) is sugarcane variety developed at ICAR- Sugarcane Breeding Institute (SBI) Regional Centre, Karnal in Haryana. It has revolutionized sugar production in India and is preferred by farmers and sugar industry.

Features:

  • Early maturing.
  • High yielding.
  • High sugar content.
  • Moderately resistant to red rot and smut diseases.
  • Can tolerate water deficit, waterlogging and saline conditions.
  • Widely suitable for planting in autumn, spring and summer.
  • Good ratoon-ability and tolerance to low temperatures make it durable for raising a second ratoon crop. [ A new crop (especially of rice, bananas, or sugar cane) that grows from the stubble of the crop already harvested.]
  • It has also helped increase sugarcane yield in subtropical states.
[Ref: PIB, Smart Indian Agriculture]

Agreement for Emergency Response Programme for Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME)

  • The agreement was signed by The World Bank Group and the Government of India.
  • It is a $750 million agreement for the MSME Emergency Response Programme to support the increased flow of finance into the hands of MSMEs, severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The loan has a maturity of 19 years including a 5-year grace period. In parallel, the International Finance Corporation is also providing direct support to Small Finance Banks through loans and equity.

Reasons:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the MSME sector leading to loss of livelihoods and jobs.
  • Banks have turned risk-averse.

Expected Benefits:

  • Support the Government in providing targeted guarantees to incentivize NBFCs and banks to continue lending to viable MSMEs.
  • Help protect millions of jobs.
  • Leverage fintech to broaden the reach of finance into the MSME sector.

Support by World Bank:

  • The World Bank has (till 06 July 2020) committed $2.75 billion to support India’s emergency COVID-19 response.
  • The first $1 billion for immediate support to India’s health sector.
  • Another $1 billion project to increase cash transfers and food benefits to the poor and vulnerable accessible to both rural and urban populations across state boundaries.
[Ref: PIB]

NHAI to Rank Roads

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is will be undertaking performance enhancement and ranking of the highways. 

  • The criteria for the assessment have been broadly categorized into three main heads: Highway Efficiency (45%), Highway Safety (35%) and User Services (20%). And also includes parameters like operating speed, access control, accident rate and among others.
  • There will be a separate ranking for Build Operate Transfer, Hybrid Annuity Model and Engineering, procurement and construction projects will also be done.

Expected Benefits:

  • Bring out operational efficiency.
  • Ensure high-quality maintenance of roads.
  • Provide a higher level of service.
  • Identify and fill gaps in design, standards, practices.
  • Provide opportunities for the concessionaire/ contractor/ operator to improve upon their rankings.

About NHAI:

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was operationalized in 1995.
  • It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • It is entrusted with the responsibility of development, maintenance and operation of National Highways.
  • This is also the apex body to improve the quality of the roads designated as National Highways.
[Ref: PIB, NCERT]

Bilateral & International Relations

Kuwait expat quota bill

As many as 8 lakh Indians could be forced to leave Kuwait if the Kuwait approves the expat quota bill which was deemed constitutional by Kuwait’s parliament recently.

About the Quota bill

  • Objective: To solve the problem of Kuwaitis becoming a minority in their own country.
  • Need: Of the 4.3 million population of Kuwait, expats account for 3 million. This means Kuwaitis can become minorities in their own country. 

Provisions of the bill

  • The bill introduced the Quota system for employing foreigners in Kuwait.
  • Under this, a country wise cap will be put, designating a quota for how many people of certain country can be allowed work in Kuwait.
  • As per Bill, the Indian expatriate community, which is the largest expat group in Kuwait, should not exceed 15% of the Kuwait population and 10% for Egyptians, who form the second largest expatriate community.
  • The PM of Kuwait recently asked to reduce the number of expats in Kuwait from 70% to 30% gradually.

Reason:

  • 40% of expat are illiterate
  • Foreigners accounted major COIVD cases as migrants labour live in congested areas
  • Foreigners drain the health facilities

Location of Kuwait:

  • Kuwait, a Western Asian country, situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf.
  • It borders Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south.
  • Expatriates in Kuwait account for around 70% of Kuwait’s total population. Indians and Egyptians are the largest expat communities respectively.
[Ref: Economic Times]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary

The Assam government decided to upgrade Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary into a national park.

Background

  • Recently, the National Board of Wildlife’s (NBWL) gave conditional clearance to a coal mining project by Coal India Limited (CIL) in the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve.
  • This sparked protests in the state. Subsequently, North Eastern Coalfields (NEC), the CIL subsidiary, temporarily suspended all mining operations in the region.

About Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary

  • It is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts of Assam.
  • It was carved out from Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in 2004.
  • It has three parts: Dirok rainforest, upper Dihing River, and Jeypore.
  • Flora: Deciduous rainforest interspersed with semi-evergreen and lush green flora, the only patch of virgin rainforest in Assam.
  • Fauna: Assamese macaque, Chinese pangolin, flying fox, wild pig, sambar, gaur, giant squirrels etc.
  • It is only sanctuary in India which is home to 7 different species of wild cats: tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, leopard cat, golden cat, jungle cat and marbled cat.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Art & Culture

Zardozi Art

  • Zardozi is a Persian embroidery form. The term Zar means gold and Dozi means embroidery. Zardozi is a metal embroidery done using gold and silver threads and studded with pearls and precious stones on silk, satin or velvet fabric base.
  • However, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread.

Brief History:

  • The art form reached its zenith under the patronage of Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 17th Century while under the rule of Aurangzeb, the artform declined. Only, after Independence, steps were taken to revive the art form

Important Centers:

  • Zardosi embroidery work is mainly a speciality of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer and Chennai. The Lucknow Zardozi has a Geographical Identification tag.
  • Currently, it is also practised in Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Turkey, Central Asia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Tools:

  • The tools include curved hooks, needles, salmaa pieces (gold wires), sitaaras (metal stars), round-sequins, glass & plastic beads, dabkaa (thread) and kasab (thread).

Current Challenges:

  • Coronavirus lockdown has resulted in losses and joblessness.
  • Locally made raw materials are expensive (due to Anti-China sentiment).
  • Youngsters are not eager to learn the craft.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Standard]

Bathukamma Festival

  • Bathukamma is a floral festival of Telangana and celebrated by women. It is also celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
  • Bathukamma means ‘Mother Goddess come alive’. It is celebrated over for 9 days and occurs during Durga Navratri.
  • During the festival, a flower stack is arranged in a unique style in the shape of a temple (Seven concentric layers in the shape of a temple gopuram), which usually consists of seasonal flowers in a brass plate (called taambalam). Some of these flowers have medicinal properties.
[Ref: India Today]

Science & Technology

Moon is more metallic than thought before: NASA

NASA said that it’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft had found evidence that the Moon’s subsurface might have greater quantities of metals such as iron and titanium than thought before.

  • The metallic distribution was observed by the Miniature Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument aboard the LRO.

What NASA has found?

  • The LRO’s Mini-RF instrument was measuring an electrical property called dielectric constant within lunar soil in crater floors in the Moon’s northern hemisphere.
    • The dielectric constant is the ratio of the electric permeability of a material to the electric permeability of a vacuum.
  • The Mini-RF observed that the level of this property increased as they surveyed larger craters, and kept rising in crater sizes up to 5 km in diameter. Beyond that size, the value of the dielectric constant leveled off.

What the discovery means?

  • The findings raise the possibility that the dielectric constant increased in larger craters because the meteors that created them dug up dust containing iron and titanium oxides from beneath the Moon’s surface.
    • Dielectric properties are directly linked to the concentration of these metal minerals.
  • If true, this logic would imply that beyond a few meters of the Moon’s upper surface lie large unknown quantities of iron and titanium oxides.
  • The findings were backed by Japan’s Kaguya mission and NASA’s Lunar Prospector spacecraft, which showed that larger craters with their increased dielectric material were also richer in metals.

The Moon formation hypothesis

  • The most popular theory about the Moon’s creation is that a Mars-sized protoplanet collided with newly formed Earth around 4.5 billion years ago, breaking off a piece of our planet that went on to become its satellite.
  • The hypothesis is also backed by substantial evidence, such as the close resemblance between the Moon’s bulk chemical composition with that of Earth.
  • However, it is also known that Earth’s crust has lesser amounts of iron oxide than the Moon– a finding that scientists have been trying to explain. Now, the new discovery of even greater quantities of metal on the Moon raises the question whether moon was really a part of the earth or not.
  • A possible reason could be that the Moon was created from a material much deeper beneath Earth’s surface than was believed before, or that the newly found metal presence could be the result of molten lunar surface cooling down gradually.

About Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

  • The LRO is a robotic spacecraft of NASA currently orbiting the Moon.
  • Launched in 2009, the primary mission of the LRO is to measure the entire lunar surface to create a high-resolution 3-D map of the Moon to aid in the planning of future robotic and crewed missions.
  • In addition, LRO would map the polar regions and search for the presence of water ice.

Objectives of LRO:

  • Identify potential lunar resources.
  • Gather detailed maps of the lunar surface.
  • Collect data on the moon’s radiation levels.
  • Study the moons polar regions for resources that could be used in future manned missions or robotic sample return missions.
  • Provide measurements to characterize future robotic explorers, human lunar landing sites and to derive measurements that can be used directly in support of future Lunar Human Exploration Systems.

LRO’s technical innovations:

  • First global thermal mapping of a planetary body covering a full range of local times and seasons
  • First bi-static radar imaging measurements from Earth to a planetary orbiter
  • First use of tissue-equivalent-plastic (TEP) in deep space radiation detectors.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Elyments

  • Elyments is a social media app developed in India. It was recently launched by the Vice President.
  • The app has been developed by over 1,000 IT professionals who volunteer at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation.

Features:

  • Enable users to connect with friends and family.
  • The app has messaging and group chat capabilities.
  • The app comes with a camera feature that has built-in filters and augmented reality (AR) characters.
  • Users can also get news updates about a variety of topics from across the country.
  • Has end-to-end encryption to keep data safe.
  • All of its servers are hosted in India, thus enabling faster app experience.
  • The app will be available in eight Indian languages.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

 

Person in News

Shyama Prasad Mookerjee

PM Modi pays tributes to Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee on his Jayanti.

About Shyama Prasad Mukherjee:

  • Born in a Bengal, he was a Bengali educationist and a barrister.
  • He enrolled as an advocate in Calcutta High Court in 1924.
  • He became the youngest vice-chancellor of Calcutta University in 1934.
  • In 1939, he joined the Hindu Mahasabha and went on to become its president in 1944.
  • He demanded the partition of Bengal in 1946 to prevent the inclusion of its Hindu-majority areas in a Muslim-dominated East Pakistan.
  • He was one of the three non-Congress nominees to have been inducted in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet in 1947.
  • He quit in 1950 after disagreements with the Nehru Cabinet on a number of issues, including those related to J&K (i.e, due to Nehru’s invitation to Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to visit India).
  • In 1951, he formed his own party called Bhartiya Jana Sangh and made his objections against Article 370 clear. He stated that other provisions of the Indian Constitution should also be applied to J&K.
  • Death: 1953, he decided to enter J&K without taking the state government’s permission, and was arrested under the Public Safety Act before entering Jammu. He died in a prison in Srinagar and allegedly after he was given an injection to which he was allergic. Though Mookerjee died of a heart attack, BJP leaders have maintained that his death was suspicious.
[Ref: PIB]

Prelims Key Facts

SheshNaag

  • Indian Railways (South East Central Railway zone) recently operated its longest train called SheshNaag.
  • It is 2.8 km long train. It had 251 wagons (BOXN rakes) and was powered by 4 electric locomotives.
  • Expected benefits include reduces transportation time, facilitates decongestion of the rail route and boosts freight transportation.
  • Previously, the same railway zone operated a 177-coach freight train called Super Anaconda.

244th Independence Day of the United States

  • July 4th, 2020 was the 244th Independence Day of the United States America.

Brief Background:

  • Before independence, 13 North American colonies were part of the British empire.  British taxation and policies caused discontent in these colonies.
  • The Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776, was the eventual outcome, post the occurrence of events such as the closing of the port of Boston, the declaration of martial law in Massachusetts etc. and subsequent discussions.
  • The signing of the declaration led to the 13 American colonies to sever their political connections to Great Britain.

The Declaration of Independence contains three main ideas:

  • All men are created equal.
  • All men have certain inalienable rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • People have a civic duty to defend these rights for themselves and others.

Mahajobs portal

  • The Mahajobs portal was launched by Maharashtra.
  • Provides jobs across 17 sectors including engineering, logistics, and chemicals etc and 950 trades for mainly for local youth (Domicile certificates must be produced).

Expected Benefits:

  • Act as a bridge between industrialists and unemployed youth in the State.
  • Helps identify problems faced by employers as well as youth seeking employment.
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