• Current Affairs, 1 May 2020

    CORONAVIRUS IS PULLING MILLIONS BACK INTO POVERTY

    RELEVANT FOR: INDIAN ECONOMY | TOPIC: ISSUES RELATED TO POVERTY, INCLUSION, EMPLOYMENT & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    • Like thousands of women across South Asia, Shahida Khatun dropped out of school to work in the garment factories that were springing up in Bangladesh’s cities, hoping to pull her family out of poverty.
    • At 12 years old, she clocked in for long shifts in an overcrowded factory. But the $30 she made each month ensured that for the first time, her family had regular meals and could buy previously unheard-of luxuries like chicken and milk.
    • A decade later, Ms. Khatun more than tripled her wage.
    • But when Ms. Khatun and her husband were laid off in March as Bangladesh, like much of the world, went under lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, she dropped back to dark places she hoped she had left behind.
    • “The garment factory helped me and my family to get out of poverty. But the coronavirus has pushed me back in,” Ms. Khatun, now 22, said in a recent interview.
    • The gains the world was making in fighting poverty are now at grave risk.
    • The World Bank says that for the first time since 1998, global poverty rates will rise. By the end of the year, 8% of the world’s population — half a billion people — could be pushed into destitution, largely because of the wave of unemployment brought by virus lockdowns.
    • While everyone will suffer, the developing world will be hardest hit. The World Bank estimates that sub-Saharan Africa will see its first recession in 25 years, with nearly half of all jobs lost across the continent. South Asia will likely experience its worst economic performance in 40 years.
    • Informal sector
    • Most at risk are people working in the informal sector, which employs 2 billion people who have no access to benefits like unemployment assistance or health care. In Bangladesh, 1 million garment workers like Ms. Khatun — 7% of the country’s workforce — lost their jobs because of the lockdown.
    • The financial shock waves could linger even after the virus is gone, experts warn. Countries like Bangladesh, which spent heavily on programmes to improve education and provide health care, which help lift families out of destitution, may now be too cash-strapped to fund them.
    • “These stories, of women entering the workplace and bringing their families out of poverty, of programmes lifting the trajectories of families, those stories will be easy to destroy,” said Abhijit Banerjee, a winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for economics.
    • “There will be groups of people who climbed up the ladder and will now fall back,” he added. “There were so many fragile existences, families barely stitching together an existence. They will fall into poverty, and they may not come out of it.” The gains now at risk are a stark reminder of global inequality and how much more there is to be done. In 1990, 36% of the world’s population, or 1.9 billion people, lived on less than $1.90 a day. By 2016, that number had dropped to 734 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, largely because of progress in South Asia and China.
    • Some of the biggest gains were made in India, where 210 million people were lifted out of poverty from 2006 to 2016, according to the UN. Since 2000, Bangladesh lifted 33 million people — 10% of its population — out of poverty.
    • Famines that once plagued South Asia are now vanishingly rare, the population less susceptible to disease and starvation. But that progress may be reversed, experts worry, and funding for anti-poverty programmes may be cut as governments struggle with stagnant growth rates or economic contractions as the world heads for a recession. NY Times

     

    RELIGION AND FREEDOM: THE HINDU EDITORIAL ON INDIA AND COMMUNAL VIOLENCE

    RELEVANT FOR: INDIAN SOCIETY | TOPIC: REGIONALISM, COMMUNALISM & SECULARISM

    • Religious freedom is of paramount importance, not because it is about religion, but because it is about freedom. The characterisation by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)of India as a country of particular concern, in its annual report, is not entirely surprising, considering its dim and known views about sectarian violence and aggravating governmental measures over the last year. The Indian government not only repudiated the report but also ridiculed the USCIRF. The autonomous, bipartisan commission’s influence over any U.S. executive action is limited and occasional but its presumption of global authority appears amusingly expansive. Whether or not the U.S. government acts on its recommendation to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials depends on American strategic interests. The U.S. has used arguments of freedom, democracy, tolerance, and transparency as tools in its strategic pursuits, but there is no proof of any uniform or predictable pattern of enforcement of such moral attributes. The process can be selective and often arbitrary in spotlighting countries. Mirroring this pattern, India selectively approaches global opinions on itself, embracing and celebrating laudatory ones and rejecting inconvenient ones. The frantic, and relatively successful, efforts to raise its Ease of Doing Business ranking by the World Bank is a case in point. Many of these reports have a circulatory life — the USCIRF report quotes U.N. Special Rapporteurs to buttress its point on the discriminatory outcome of the National Register of Citizens in Assam. Overall, such reports contribute to the construction of an image of a country, and the Indian government is cognisant of this pattern. In March, the Indian government told Niti Aayog to track 32 global indices and engage with the bodies that measure them, to advance reform and growth.
    • India advertises itself as a multi-religious democracy and as an adherent to global norms of rule of law. It also aspires to be on the table of global rule making. For a country with such stated ambitions, its record on religious freedom as reflected through events of the last one year is deeply disconcerting. The catalogue of religious violence, incitement and wrecking of the rule of law in several parts of the country remains an unsettling fact. The partisan nature of the ruling dispensation is also difficult to wish away. Reputation is important for a country’s economic development and global standing but beyond that instrumental perspective, rule of law and communal harmony are essential for any functioning democracy.
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    PLASMA THERAPY IS NO SILVER BULLET

    Relevant for: Developmental Issues | Topic: Health & Sanitation and related issues

    • The COVID-19 pandemichas posed unprecedented challenges to governments, health professionals and the general public at large, around the world. Every response, administrative, social, economic or medical is being subjected to intense public scrutiny, as it rightly should be in the spirit of mature democracy.
    • Scientific research in medicine is the only means to overcome novel and complex diseases such as COVID-19 and that too thrives on the same spirit of debate and criticism. The difference, however, is that the standards of evidence required, to generate consensus and arrive at the most optimal protocols, are far more rigorous and time-taking than in most other walks of life.
    • CoronavirusHealth Ministry does a U-turn on plasma therapy
    • So is the case with the convalescent plasma therapy, that is being currently studied by the Indian Council of Medical Research, through open label, randomised controlled trial to evaluate it for both safety and efficacy. Already, four patients have been enrolled in Ahmedabad and the study will be rolled out in 20 hospitals by the end of this week and at more centres over the next month.
    • The therapy involves infusing patients suffering from COVID-19 with plasma from recovered patients. In theory, the antibodies of the recovered person may help that patient’s immune system fight the virus. While showing great promise, it is a line of treatment that is yet to be validated for efficacy and safety and cannot be deployed widely without caution. The current evidence to conclude anything about the true benefits of this therapy is very thin.
    • The most important principle in medical ethics is “do no harm”. The transfusion of convalescent plasma is also not without risks, which range from mild reactions like fever, itching, to life-threatening allergic reactions and lung injury. To recommend a therapy without studying it thoroughly with robust scientific methods may cause more harm than good.
    • CoronavirusWill convalescent plasma help COVID-19 patients?
    • Till date, there have been only three published case series for convalescent plasma in COVID-19 with a cumulative of 19 patients. Given the very small number of patients involved in these studies and a publication bias in medicine, we cannot conclude the therapy will work on all patients all the time or even believe that the convalescent plasma was the only reason for their improvement.
    • To say with certainty whether a drug is truly effective or not, the gold standard in medicine is to conduct a randomised controlled trial, where half the patients get the experimental drug and the other half do not. Only if patients in the first half show substantial improvement over those in the second half, it indicates the drug is beneficial.
    • Further, convalescent plasma therapy requires intensive resources, healthy COVID-19 survivors to donate, a blood bank with proper machinery and trained personnel to remove plasma, equipment to store it and testing facilities to make sure it has an adequate amount of antibodies. Too much focus on one approach can take away the focus from other important therapeutic modalities like use of oxygen therapy, antivirals, and antibiotics for complicated hospital courses. To overcome the pandemic comprehensively, we should focus on strengthening health systems at all levels, including referral systems, supply chain, logistics and inventory management. We need to work on protecting our healthcare workers, improving prevention methods, promoting cough etiquettes, effective quarantining and accurate testing.

     

    INDIA NEEDS TO GROW AT 8.5 PER CENT IN SUCCESSION TO GET BACK ON TRACK: REPORT

    RELEVANT FOR: INDIAN ECONOMY | TOPIC: ISSUES RELATING TO PLANNING & ECONOMIC REFORMS

    • MUMBAI: The lockdown throughout the countrydue to COVID-19 concerns may cause a permanent erosion of 4 per cent of India’s GDP. India may need to grow 8.5 per cent for three years in succession to be back on track according to ratings firm Crisil.

     

    • “We estimate 4% permanent loss to real GDP (from the decadal trend levels) in the base case” Crisil said. “Catch-up requires a never-before seen GDP growthof 8.5% on average for three years up to fiscal 2024″ Crisil has forecast FY’21 growth rate at 1.8 per cent in its latest revision

      Rating firms and many brokerages have already revised their GDP forecast twice since the COVI-19 pandemic resulted in lock-downs throughout the country halting the economic activity through-out the country and many parts of the globe.

      “Protecting India’s workforce will be a major challenge (for which) fiscal policy has to be more aggressive” said Crisil chief economist D K Joshi. Crisil anticipated a fiscal stimulus of about Rs 3.5 lakh crore. “Fiscal support needs to go up in scale and scope beyond vulnerable households to cover firms as well”

      The most affected are daily-wage earners and those with no job security. In India, casual labourers form almost 25% of the workforce and would take the first hit due to shutdowns and layoffs.

      So far policy support has been largely through monetary policy through liquidity support to impact sector and also regulatory relaxations on loan repayment. But fiscal space to spend is somewhat constrained by tight fiscal position of Centre and states.

      MSMEs are more vulnerable than larger players, especially on the liquidity front. Crisil’s research suggests that even in a relatively milder slowdown than we expect this fiscal, MSME working capital can stretch by over a month.

      Crisil expect the banking sector to also bear a big brunt of the lockdown. It expects banking sector NPAs to rise to 11-11.5% by March 2021 from an estimated at 9.6% as of March 2020, with sharply lower recoveries and rising slippages. NPAs are expected to swell for non-banking finance companies, too,with microfinance, MSME loans and wholesale/developer funding witnessing the sharpest spike.

      Indian companies’ EBITDA- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and ammortisation, is set fall by 15 per cent assuming a real GDP growth of 1.8 per cent.

      we expect consumer discretionary services and products such as airlines, hotels, automobiles and consumer durables to be the worst-hit. Non-pharma exporters, real estate and construction companies also face one of their worst years. Even resilient sectors such as IT services will see muted growth as global budgets on IT spending fall.

    GLOBAL ENERGY REVIEW 2020 : IEA

    RELEVANT FOR:- INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS :- MINERAL & ENERGY RESOURCES, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    • Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA)has released a report namely, Global Energy Review:2020 which also includes the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions.
    • The imposition of lockdown in several countries has largely restricted transportation such as road and air travel. In turn, the drastic reduction in the global energy demands has been observed.

    Global Energy Demands

    • The countries infull lockdown are experiencing an average decline of 25% in energy demand per week, while in those with a partial lockdown, the fall in energy demand is about 18% per week.
    • Global energy demanddeclined by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019.
    • Further, it is expected that the impact of Covid‑19 on energy demand in 2020 would be more than seven times largerthan the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on global energy demand.
    • Considering the above scenario the global demand of various energy sources can be analysed as given below:
    • Coal Demand:
    • It has been declined by 8% compared with the first quarter of 2019.
    • The reasons for such decline include, China – a coal-based economy – was the country hardest hit by Covid‑19 in the first quarter and cheap gas and continued growth in renewables elsewhere challenged coal.
    • Oil Demand:
    • It has declined by 5% in the first quarter, majorly due to curtailment in mobility and aviation, which account for nearly 60% of global oil demand.
    • The report also estimates that the global demand for oil could further drop by 9% on average in 2020, which will return oil consumption to 2012 levels.
    • Gas Demand:
    • The impact of the pandemic on gas demand has been moderate, at around 2%,as gas-based economies were not strongly affected in the first quarter of 2020.
    • Renewables Energy Resources Demand:
    • It is the only source that has registered a growth in demand,driven by larger installed capacity.
    • Further, the demand for renewables isexpected to rise by 1% by 2020 because of low operating costs and preferential access for many power systems.
    • Electricity Demand:
    • It has been declined by 20%during periods of full lockdown in several countries.
    • However, the residential demand is outweighed by reductions in commercial and industrial operations.

    Covid-19 and CO2 Emissions

    • Overall, the emissions decline in 2020 could be8% lower than in 2019, which would be the lowest level of emissions since 2010.
    • It is also the largest level of emission reduction — six times larger than witnessed during the 2009 financial crisis,and twice as large as the combined total of all reductions witnessed since World War II.
    • In the first quarter of 2020, the decline in CO2emissions is more than the fall in global energy demand.

    India’s Energy Demands

    • India, which is one of the IEA association countries,has experienced a reduction in its energy demands by 30% as a result of the nation-wide lockdown.
    • Moreover, in India, where economic growth and power production are slowing significantly, the demand for coal is expected to decline steeply.
    • China and India are the largest and third-largest electricity users in the world respectively, and coal use is dominant in both these countries shaping the global demand for this fuel.

    International Energy Agency

    • The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy.
    • It was established in the wake of 1973 (set up in 1974) oil crisis after the OPEC cartel had shocked the world with a steep increase in oil prices.
    • It is headquartered in Paris, France.
    • World Energy Outlook report is released by IEA annually.
    • India became an associate member of the International Energy Agency in 2017.
    • Mexico officially became the International Energy Agency’s 30th member country in February 2018, and its first member in Latin America.

    CORE SECTOR SHRINKS BY 6.5%

    RELEVANT FOR: – INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS :- INFRASTRUCTURE, GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT

    • According to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the eight core sector industriescontracted by 6.5% in March, 2020.
    • The cumulative growth of eight core sector industries during 2019-20 was 0.6%.
    • In February, 2020, the eight core sector industries recorded a growth of 5.5%.

    Important Points

    • Seven out of eight core sectors contracted in the month of March.
    • The contraction was led by steel production, electricity, cement production, natural gas production, fertiliser production, crude oil production and petroleum & refinery production.
    • Coal was the only core sectorwhich saw growth.
    • The contraction in the core sector has occurred despite the fact that several of the core sector industries were given exemptions under the lockdown.g electricity and steel which are continuous processes and were not stopped.
    • However, the movement of goods faced major restrictionsdue the nationwide lockdown, resulting in reduced demand which led to reduced production.
    • The March core sector data also reflected the cut in capital expenditureby both state and central governments in order to make up for falling tax revenues.
    • The capital expenditureis defined as the money spent on the acquisition of assets like land, buildings, machinery, equipment, as well as investment in shares.
    • High capital expenditure usually means more investment by the government towards the creation of infrastructure and other assets that are crucial for rapid economic growth.

    Core Sector Industries

    • The eight core sector industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity
    • The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
    • The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage: Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.
    Industry Weight (In percentage)
    Petroleum & Refinery production 28.04
    Electricity generation 19.85
    Steel production 17.92
    Coal production 10.33
    Crude Oil production 8.98
    Natural Gas production 6.88
    Cement production 5.37
    Fertilizers production 2.63

    Index of Industrial Production

    • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an indicator thatmeasures the changes in the volume of production of industrial products during a given period.
    • It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
    • IIP is a composite indicatorthat measures the growth rate of industry groups classified under:
    • Broad sectors,namely, Mining, Manufacturing, and Electricity.
    • Use-based sectors,namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods, and Intermediate Goods.
    • Base Yearfor IIP is 2011-2012.
    • The eight core industriesof India represent about 40% of the weight of items that are included in the IIP.
    • Significance of IIP :
    • It is used by government agenciesincluding the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of India, etc, for policy-making purposes.
    • IIP remains extremely relevant for the calculation of the quarterly andadvance GDP estimates.

     

    PERMANENT MISSION TO UN

    RELEVANT FOR:- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/ TOPICS :- IMPORTANT PERSONALITIES, ROLE OF WOMEN, IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

    India has appointed T S Tirumurti as its Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN).

    Important Points

    • Permanent Mission to the United Nations
    • It is the diplomatic missionthat every member state deputes to the UN.
    • It is headed by a Permanent Representativewho is also referred to as the UN ambassador.
    • According to Article 1(7) of theVienna Convention on the Representation of States in their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character, 1975 it is a mission of permanent character, representing the State, sent by a State member of an international organization to the organization.
    • Other important Vienna Conventions are the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.
    • According to the UN General Assembly resolution 257(III) of 3rdDecember, 1948, permanent missions assist in the realization of the purposes and principles of the UN.
    • They keep the necessary liaison between the Member States and the Secretariatin periods between sessions of the different organs of the UN.
    • UN Permanent Representatives are assigned to the UN headquarters in New York City,and at other offices in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi as well.
    • Indian Permanent Mission at the United Nations
    • There are currently eight Indiansin senior leadership positions at the UN at the levels of Under Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General.
    • The first Indian delegatesat the UN included statesman Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar and freedom fighters Hansa Mehta, Lakshmi N. Menon and Vijayalakshmi Pandit
    • Mehta and Pandit were among the 15 women members of the Indian Constituent Assembly.
    • India was among the select membersof the UN that signed the United Nations Declaration at Washington on 1st January,
    • India also participated in the historic UN Conference of International Organizationat San Francisco from 25th April to 26th June,
    • As a founding memberof the United Nations, India strongly supports the purposes and principles of the UN and has made significant contributions to implementing the goals of the Charter, and the evolution of the UN’s specialized programmes and agencies.

    Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar (1887-1976)

    • One of the prominent lawyers of his time and joined the Justice Party in 1917.
    • Took part in Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms in India and the Round Table Conferences.
    • He was India’s delegate to the San Francisco Conference.
    • In 1946 he was elected the first President of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
    • He also served as the chair of the executive boards of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    Hansa Mehta (1897-1995)

    • After studying Journalism and Sociology from England, she returned to India and served as the President of the Bhagini Samaj and played a crucial role during the campaign against the Simon Commission.
    • She was the first woman to be elected to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1931.
    • She represented India on the Nuclear Sub-Committee on the status of women in 1946.
    • As the Indian delegate on the UN Human Rights Commission (now known as the UN Human Rights Council) in 1947–48, she was responsible for changing the language Justice Party of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from “all men are created equal” to “all human beings”, highlighting the need for gender equality.

    Lakshmi Menon (1899-1994)

    • She was one of the founder members of the All India Women’s Conference.
    • She was India’s delegate to the Third Committee in 1948 and argued forcefully in favour of non-discrimination based on sex and “the equal rights of men and women” in the in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    • In 1949-1950, she headed the UN Section on the Status of Women and Children.

    Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900-1990)

    • She led the Indian delegation to the UN (1946-48 and 1952-53).
    • In 1953, she became the first woman to be elected president of the UN General Assembly.
    • In 1978, she was appointed the Indian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission.

    J&K and Article 54

    Relevant For :- Indian Polity

    Recently, in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query “if the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be part of the Electoral College for the election of the President of India”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked to refer to Article 54 of the Constitution of India.

    Important Points

    • Article 54 specifically mentions NCT of Delhi and Puducherryas eligible to be part of the Electoral College. There is no word about the newly-formed UT of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
    • Under Article 54, the President is elected by an Electoral College, which consists of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and theelected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all the States and also of NCT of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
    • Also theJ&K Reorganisation Act, which came into existence from August 2019, does not specify anything about whether the legislature of J&K would be able to vote in the election for a President.
    • Inclusionof new members in the Electoral College in Article 54 would require a Constitutional Amendment to be carried out through two-thirds majority in Parliament and ratification by over 50% of the States.
    • Delhi and Puducherry were included as Electoral College members under Article 54 through the 70thConstitution Amendment Act of 1992.
    • Before that, Article 54 consisted of only the elected Members of Parliament as well as the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
    • However, according tosome experts, Union territory of J&K would be able to participate in the President’s elections even without any Constitutional amendment.
    • According to Section 13 of the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019,the provisions contained in article 239A, which are applicable to “Union territory of Puducherry”, shall also apply to the “Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir”.

    Election of the President of India

    • The President is elected indirectly by members of electoral college consisting of:
    • the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament;
    • the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the states;
    • the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
    • The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Secret ballot is used in voting.
    • In the proportional representation system, each voter will have only one vote but a voter can indicate his preference for as many contesting candidates as he likes in order of his/her preference or choice.
    • The President’s tenure is for five years and he is eligible for immediate re- election and can serve any number of terms.
    • There is a uniformity in the scale of representation of different states as well as parity between the states as a whole and the Union at the election of the President.
    • All doubts and disputes in connection with election are inquired into and decided by the Supreme Court whose decision is final.
    • If the election of a person as President is declared void by the Supreme Court, acts done by him before the date of such declaration of the Supreme Court are not invalidated and continue to remain in force.
    • Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission.

    EROSION IN LADAKH AND ZANSKAR

    RELEVANT FOR :- GEOGRAPHY/ TOPICS :- PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY, WATER RESOURCES, ACHIEVEMENTS OF INDIANS IN SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

    • The scientists and students from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG)have explored the Zanskar catchment area.
    • The study was conducted to understand the landform evolution in transitional climatic zones, usingmorphostratigraphy, Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating and provenance analysis of landforms like valley fill terraces and alluvial fans.
    • Valley Fill Terrace:The fill terrace is created either a stream or river starts to incise into the material that it deposited in the valley. Once this occurs benches composed completely of alluvium form on the sides of the valley. The upper most benches are the fill terraces.
    • Alluvial Fans:Triangle-shaped deposit of gravel, sand and even smaller pieces of sediment, such as silt.
    • WHIG is an autonomous instituteunder the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

    Zanskar River

    • It is one of the largest tributaries of the upper Indus catchment.
    • It drains transversely northward from the Higher Himalaya, dominated by the Indian summer monsoon, to flow through the arid, westerlies-dominated, highly folded and thrusted Zanskar ranges in Ladakh.
    • The Doda and the Tsarap Lingti Chu confluence at Padam to form the Zanskar, which in turn joins the Indus at Nimu.
    • Zanskar valley can be divided into upper and lower divisions, separated by a gorge of nearly 60 km in length.
    • Morphostratigraphy: The organization of rock or sediment strata into units based on their surface morphology (landforms).
    • Optically-Stimulated Luminescence: It is a late Quaternary dating technique used to date the last time a quartz sediment was exposed to light. As sediment is transported by wind, water or ice, it is exposed to sunlight and zeroed of any previous luminescence signal.
    • Provenance Analysis: It aims to determine the source region (provenance) of a sediment sample. It is aimed to reconstruct the parent rock or rocks of sand bodies, the time of deposition of the sand and, if possible, the climate conditions during the formation of the sediments.

    Key Findings

    • Scientists traced where the rivers draining Himalaya and its foreland erode the most and identified the zones which receive these eroded sediments and fill up.
    • The study suggested that the wide valley of Padam in the upper Zanskaris a hotspot of sediment buffering and has stored a vast amount of sediments.
    • The sediment contribution from such transient basins is significant when compared to the sediment reportedly eroded from the entireIndus system in Ladakh.
    • Most of the sediments in the Padam valley were derived from Higher Himalayan crystallinethat lie in the headwater region of Zanskar.
    • The dominant factors responsiblefor sediment erosion were deglaciation and Indian Summer Monsoon derived precipitation in the headwaters.
    • The provenance analysis suggested that despite the presence of the deep narrow gorge and a low gradient,the upper and lower Zanskar valleys remained connected throughout their aggradational history.

    Significance

    • The study will help to understand river-borne erosion and sedimentation,which are the main drivers that make large riverine plains, terraces and deltas that eventually become the evolving grounds for civilizations.
    • The study brought forwards the 35 thousand-year history of river erosion and identified hotspots of erosion and wide valleysthat act as buffer zones.
    • It showed how rivers in drier Ladakh Himalaya operated on longer time scalesand how they responded to varying climates.
    • The Ladakh Himalaya forms a high altitude desert between Greater Himalayan ranges and Karakoram Rangesand the Indus and its tributaries are major rivers flowing through the terrain.
    • Understanding of water and sediment routing becomes crucialwhile developing infrastructure and for other development works in the river catchment area.

    JANAUSHADHI SUGAM MOBILE APP

    RELEVANT FOR :- GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS:- HEALTH, E-GOVERNANCE, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    Due to nationwide lockdown because of Covid-19 crisis, people are using Janaushadhi Sugam Mobile App to locate their nearest Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendra (PMBJK) and availability of affordable generic medicine with its price.

    Important Points

    • Janaushadhi Sugam Apphas been developed by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) under Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
    • It helps people to
    • Locate nearby Janaushadhi kendras(through Google Maps).
    • Search Janaushadhi generic medicine.
    • Analyse product comparison of generic v/s branded medicines in the form of MRP & overall savings etc.

    Janaushadhi kendras

    • Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJK) are set up across the country under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)so as to provide generic medicines.
    • Generic drugsare marketed under a non-proprietary or approved name rather than brand name. These are equally effective and inexpensive compared to their counterparts.
    • By taking generic medicines patients can reduce his/her expenditure on medicines drastically.
    • Generic medicines are sold at 50% to 90% lesser prices as compared to the market prices of branded medicines.
    • The Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI)is the implementing agency for PMBJP.
    • All drugs procured under this scheme are tested for quality assurance at NABL (National Accreditation Board Laboratories) accredited laboratories and are compliant with WHO GMP (World Health Organisation’s Good Manufacturing Practices) benchmarks.
    • Government grants of up to 2.5 lakhsare provided for setting up of PMBJKs.
    • They can be set up by doctors, pharmacists, entrepreneurs, Self HelpGroups, NGOs, Charitable Societies, etc. at any suitable place or outside the hospital premises.

    AYUSH ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMME

    RELEVANT FOR: – GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS: –  HEALTH, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    Recently, AYUSH Entrepreneurship Development programme was jointly organized by the Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for promoting the AYUSH sector in the country under different Schemes of the Ministry of MSME.

    Important Points

    • AYUSHstands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Sidha and
    • Challenges faced by the AYUSH sector:
    • Quality standards of Medicines –Scientific validation of AYUSH has not progressed in spite of dedicated expenditure in the past.
    • Lack of human resources –Practitioners are moving away from traditional systems for better opportunities.
    • The existinginfrastructure remains under-utilized.
    • There is a great demand for Indian Ayurveda, Yoga, Homeopathy, Siddha in other countries, existing entrepreneurs can take this opportunity & open their clinics/ outlets there & support export.
    • The raw materials of Ayurveda are usually found in Forest area, rural areas, tribal areas, aspiration districts & there is a need for Processing units, clusters there for Job creation, enterprise development, self employment.
    • The two Ministries have drawn up an action planfor promoting AYUSH Sector. The plan includes roping AYUSH clusters in the schemes of the Ministry of MSME.
    • Major AYUSH clustersinclude: Ahmedabad, Hubli, Thrissur, Solan, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kannur, Karnal, Kolkata and Nagpur.
    • Following are the schemes:
    • Zero Defect Zero Effect/Lean– Good Manufacturing Practice.
    • Procurement & Marketing Support Scheme– National/International Trade, fair, Exhibition, Government e-Marketplace, Packaging, E-Marketing, Export.
    • Advanced Training Institute (ATI)– Capacity Building & Skill Development.
    • Entrepreneurship Skill Development Programme (ESDP), Incubation – Start-Up/Enterprise Development.
    • Credit Linked Credit Subsidy (CLCS), Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) – Financial support

    GI TAGS TO TWO PRODUCTS

    RELEVANT FOR: – INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS: – INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (IPRS)

    Recently, Chak-Hao, the black rice of Manipur and the Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) terracotta have bagged the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

    Important Points

    • Chak-Hao:
      • Chak-Hao is a scented glutinous (sticky) rice which has been in cultivation in Manipur over centuries, and is characterised by its special aroma.
      • The rice is black in colour and takes the longest cooking time of 40-45 minutes due to the presence of a fibrous bran layer and higher crude fibre content.
      • It is normally eaten during community feasts and is served as Chak-Hao kheer.
      • Chak-Hao has also been used by traditional medical practitioners as part of traditional medicine.
    • Gorakhpur terracotta:
    • The terracotta work of Gorakhpur is a centuries-old traditional art form.
    • The entire work is done with bare hands.
    • The clay used in the terracotta products is‘Kabis’ clay which is found in the ponds of Aurangabad, Bharwalia and Budhadih village areas.
    • Also, such clay is found only in the months of May and June,as for the rest of the year, the ponds are filled with water.
    • The potters do not use any colour,they only dip the clay structure in a mixture of soda and mango tree barks, and bake it.
    • The red colour of terracotta does not fadefor years.
    • Major products of craftsmanship include the Hauda elephants, Mahawatdar horse, deer, camel, five-faced Ganesha, single-faced Ganesha, elephant table, chandeliers, hanging bells etc.

    Geographical Indication (GI)

    • It is an insignia on products having a unique geographical origin and evolution over centuries with regard to its special quality or reputed attributes.
    • It is a mark of authenticity and ensures that registered authorized users or at least those residing inside the geographic territory are allowed to use the popular product names.
    • GI tag in India is governed by Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999. It is issued by the Geographical Indications Registry (Chennai).
    • Benefits of GI Tag
    • It provides legal protection to Indian Geographical Indications thus preventing unauthorized use of the registered GIs by others.
    • It promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory.
    • The GI protection in India leads to recognition of the product in other countries thus boosting exports.

    INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY

    RELEVANT FOR :- SOCIAL JUSTICE/ TOPICS :- IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, HUMAN RESOURCE

    • Every year, 1stMay is celebrated as the International Workers’ Day and as Labour Day in different parts of the world to commemorate the contributions of workers and the historic labour movements.
    • It is a day when the International Labour Organisation (ILO), nations, employers and workers from all over the world commit themselves towards the collective efforts of promoting decent work for all.
    • In 1889, the Second International, an organisation created by socialist and labour parties, declared that 1st May would be commemorated as International Workers’ Day from then on.
    • On 1st May 1904, the International Socialist Congress at Amsterdam, the Netherlands called for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day for the class demands of the proletariat and made it mandatory upon the proletarian organisations of all countries to stop work on this day.

    Historical Perspective

    • USA
    • The USA celebrates Labor day on the first Monday of September, every year.The USA recognised the day as a federal holiday in 1894.
    • Canada also celebrates the Labour day on the same day as the US.
    • Labor day was designated as a day in support of workers by trade unions and socialist groups in the memory of the Haymarket affair of 1886 in Chicago, USA.It gave the workers’ movement a great impetus.
    • Haymarket Affair was a peaceful rally in support of workers which led to a violent clash with the police, leading to severe casualties. Those who died were hailed as “Haymarket Martyrs”.
    • Workers’ rights violations, straining work hours, poor working conditions, low wages and child labour were the issues highlighted in the protest.
    • USSR
    • TheSoviet Union and the Eastern bloc nations started celebrating the Labor day after the Russian Revolution, 1917.
    • Impact of Russian Revolution:New ideologies such as Marxism and Socialism inspired many socialist and communist groups and they attracted peasants and workers and made them an integral part of national movement.
    • It became a national holidayduring the Cold War.
    • India
    • In India, Labor day was first celebrated in 1923, after the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustaninitiated the celebrations and Comrade Singaravelar (Singaravelu Chettiar) continued the celebrations.
    • Comrade Singaravelar wasone of the leaders of the Self Respect movement in the Madras Presidency and passed a resolution stating the

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