• Current Affairs, 13 April 2020

      1. WHAT IS HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE

      Topic: Health & Sanitation and related issues

      Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is an anti-malarial drug similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs, but with lesser side-effects. It can be bought over the counter and is fairly inexpensive.

      The drug shot to fame as it is shown to have shortened the time to clinical recovery of COVID-19 patients. However, many of these are in small lab-controlled testing and no proper human trials have been conducted to determine its efficacy.

      The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has cleared HCQ to be used as a prophylaxis, or preventive medication, by doctors, nurses and other health staff. Union Health Ministry, last month, moved it to Schedule H1, which can be sold on prescription only.

      U.S. President Donald Trump has been a proponent of its use, calling it a “game changer”. He warned “retaliation” against India, if it didn’t revoke the ban on its exports. India eventually allowed export of the drug.

      1. DISINGENUOUS AND NO ANTIDOTE

      Topic: Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in internal security challenges

      The Central government made a claim, on the eve of April 1, April Fool’s Day, that “fake news” alone is responsible for the untold misery and loss of life of migrant workers after the lockdown. It is important to examine this in the light of what “fake news” actually means, that is, a report, presented as authoritative, of an event which never actually occurred.

      Fake news is a menace not only because it is usually motivated by an intent to deceive and misinform but also because it may induce people to act on the information. This can have grave consequences, especially where the penetration of mobile telephony and social media exceeds that of education and awareness.

      Editorial | Uncritical endorsement: On exodus of migrant workers and the Supreme Court

      For many who engage in political discourse, however, “fake news” is used as an epithet to describe any critical comment or opposing viewpoint. By branding criticism as “fake news”, governments draw on the consensus that fake news is pernicious, obviating the need to respond to the content of the criticism. If it is fake news, after all, it merits no response. Used in this way, the phrase “fake news” is used as an antidote to any opposition or critique.

      Such usage is disingenuous. News reports facts. “Fake news” is a report of facts that are knowingly false, presented as “news”. By definition, news is not opinion, which can be wrong, but it cannot be “fake”. Therefore, an opinion that you disagree with, cannot be branded as “fake news”, because it is just that, opinion. You cannot, by mischaracterising criticism as “fake news”, escape from having to respond to it.

      Contemporary political discourse has taken this dangerous approach a step further. Where governments are criticised for causing suffering among their people, the suffering is instead attributed to the menace of “fake news”. For example, after the precipitous announcement of lockdown, the government has been criticised for failing to anticipate the exodus of migrant workers; failing to make advance provision for food, shelter or salaries; failing to communicate with State governments to formulate a coordinated approach before the lockdown; and failing to communicate with the public regarding what migrant workers should do in view of the lockdown.

      The government’s response to the mass exodus was, by any yardstick, uncoordinated, where initially there was abject confusion, then the States reportedly provided vehicles to ferry the workers, and, finally, the States were directed to seal their borders. The human loss was incalculable, with hundreds of thousands undertaking Partition-esque journeys across hundreds of kilometres in a desperate bid to return home, leading to the tragic loss of lives and enormous suffering that are yet to be fully documented. The newspapers continue to report that food and shelter are still not reaching many of the migrant workers. These criticisms certainly deserve a response.

      Instead of responding, the government, on affidavit to the Supreme Court of India in response to petitions that migrant workers need to be provided for during lockdown, says that the only culprit for the loss of life and hardship of migrant workers is, simply, “fake news”. Apparently, the sole reason that migrant workers undertook the punishing journey back home across hundreds of kilometres back home was “fake news” that the lockdown would extend to three months rather than three weeks. The prospect of three weeks without food, shelter or basic amenities was, according to the government, not devastating enough to motivate workers to return home. Fake news is apparently to blame for upsetting the government’s careful calculation that millions of migrant workers would have serenely stayed put and there would have been no hardship whatsoever.

      Also read | In Bareilly, migrants returning home sprayed with ‘disinfectant’

      This begs a raft of questions: “Fake news” is a statement that is knowingly false — what was the false statement that constituted “fake news” in this case? Was it the announcement of relief measures for three months by the Finance Minister triggering speculation that the 21-day lockdown could be extended to June 30? Isn’t the government extending the lockdown and isn’t its eventual duration still uncertain? Was extending the lockdown a decision that the government could even have taken on March 24, or would it depend on an assessment of the situation closer to April 14? Could any of us, including the government, categorically have said on March 24 that the lockdown would not be extended, depending on the situation prevailing on April 14? Was the government itself the source of what it is now calling “fake news”?

      The government cannot be permitted, by the artifice of “fake news”, to bypass the criticism that it should have planned better, coordinated between Centre and State governments, and been clear in strategy and communication. These are not hindsight criticisms either. Lessons could and should have been learned from deficiencies in similar announcements made earlier by foreign governments regarding COVID-19 measures. Chanting the mantra of “fake news” cannot wish away these questions.

      Also read | Migrant workers in Surat come out on road demanding salaries

      The Supreme Court passed an order on March 31 directing the media to carry the official version of events of the pandemic, which the government is to publish on a daily basis. With little to go on other than the government’s fervid assertions that it had taken more than adequate measures in response to COVID-19, the Court perhaps did not want to enter the thicket of whether better government planning and communication could have avoided or reduced the suffering of migrant workers, or whether the source of the so-called “fake news” was the government itself. The Court, fortunately, made clear that it did not intend to stifle discussion of the pandemic, else even this piece could not have been published. If false information circulated on social media is dangerous because it can trigger action, misleading statements or lack of clarity in government messaging is even more dangerous, given the credibility of the source. What “fake news” is not, is a dissenting opinion or a viewpoint the establishment does not like. No government should be permitted to hide behind a vague assertion of “fake news” to abdicate responsibility for its actions. Not even on April Fool’s Day.

       

      1. ‘PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES HAVE SPECIAL ISSUES DURING VIRUS OUTBREAK’

      Topic: Rights & Welfare of Persons with Disability including Mentally ill

      People – Schemes & their Performance, Mechanisms, Laws Institutions and Bodies

      People with disabilities need much more support than others in the face of a pandemic. They may not be eating properly and may experience higher stress because they are unable to understand what is happening all around them, says G.V.S. Murthy, Vice-President and Director, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad.

      What are the unique challenges that people with disability face?

      People with disability have special issues in a situation like the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). People with disability are a diverse group, experiencing different hardships in accessing information on prevention and risk of infection.

      People with visual impairment and blindness depend upon touch for most of their daily activities. They need to hold the hand of an escort to move around; they cannot read the messages that the rest of the population can see; they cannot practice social distancing unless there are innovative approaches like keeping a safe distance using a white cane.

      For the hearing impaired, especially those who are not literate, they cannot hear the message or read it. Since many depend on lip-reading, they are compromised when the person giving a message is wearing a mask.

      None of the messages in the media is using sign language interpreters. The physically disabled cannot reach a wash basin or may not be able to wash their hands vigorously.

      Children and adolescents with conditions like cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome need to be assisted in feeding. People with mental health issues cannot comprehend the messages. At the same time, people with disabilities have a higher risk of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which are high-risk factors for COVID-19 mortality. Therefore, people with disabilities need much more support than the rest of the population in the face of a pandemic.

      They may not be eating properly and may experience higher stress because they are unable to understand what is happening all around them, over which they have no control.

      Women with disability have additional issues. They are vulnerable to exploitation and even more so during a pandemic. Many of them have children without disability and are highly stressed as to how they can care for them and family members because they are not supported to care for them.

      People with communication disabilities don’t know how to express their problems. Routine health needs that they have are also not provided as health centres or transportation facilities are not accessible.

      What is the scale of the problem?

      India is home to nearly 150 million people with some degree of disability. Nearly 25-30 million have severe disability. Most of them live as part of their families and depend on a career. This adds to another 25-30 million carers. Therefore, we are looking at nearly 50 million people who need special support, which is not routinely forthcoming.

      How can the public and government help?

      India has signed up to achieve sustainable development goals, the cornerstone of which is universal access to health and education and equity. The government and the organisations working with people with disabilities have to make efforts to convert prevention and care messages on COVID-19 into an accessible format.

      Health facilities should prioritize the needs of people with disabilities over the rest of the population. Decreasing waiting time in hospitals for them will reduce contact with other asymptomatic carriers of the novel corona-virus. Their medicine needs have to be provided for. Mobile health teams can provide them services at their homes rather than having them travel to hospitals. A dedicated helpline can be set up for this so that the medical team can reach them. They need to be assured of supplies of soap, sanitisers and tissues.

      The general public needs to be educated on providing support for people with disabilities. Technology-savvy professionals can help to make information available in an accessible format for people with disabilities.

      Students with disabilities also need to be provided support so that they can keep up academically. Therefore, online teaching programmes should be made available to them in an accessible format. Civil society should volunteer their time to provide this sort of support. Since many of them will not be able to access professional carers during a lockdown, civil society volunteers should help. Even for supporting cooking and other self-care activities, volunteers should step in.

      Inclusive society is the need of the hour. We don’t want to face a situation where medical equipment is prioritised based on younger populations being cared for at the cost of the elderly and the people with disability, as happened in countries like Spain where there was a limited number of ventilators and beds, which could not cope with the avalanche of cases that needed critical care.

      A country’s development is measured by its social support and inclusive policies. We need to set high standards and not succumb to the ‘might is right’ philosophy and abandon people with disability in this crisis.

      What is the current situation?

      Nobody is addressing the special needs of people with disabilities and making efforts at reaching out to them. We would fail as a human race if we don’t show a humane response in an equitable manner with affirmative action for people with disabilities.

      Health facilities should prioritise the needs of people with disabilities over the rest of the population

      1. NRLM SELF HELP GROUP WOMEN EMERGE AS COMMUNITY WARRIORS TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN THE COUNTRY

      Topic: Role of NGOs, SHGs, Donors & Charities, and Institutional & other Stakeholders in Development Process Ministry of Rural Development

      NRLM Self Help Group women emerge as community warriors to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country

      About 2 crore masks have been produced by around 78,000 SHG members of 27 State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs);

      More than 5000 PPE kits manufactured by SHGs in various states; Around 900 SHG enterprises in 9 States have produced more than 1 lakh litres of hand sanitiser, Some SHGs have also produced liquid soaps to guarantee hand hygiene

      COVID-19 outbreak has presented an unprecedented health emergency worldwide. In India, this has led to increased requirement of medical facilities including masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and face shields for medical and police personnel, cleaning staff etc. Government is also making the use of masks by the citizen’s compulsory in most areas.

      The strength of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, are the approximately 690 lakh women members of around 63 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the country. SHG members have emerged as community warriors by contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of COVID-19. As the masks were the first line of defence against COVID-19, SHGs immediately took up the task of production of masks. Various categories of masks including 2-3 ply woven and non-woven surgical masks, cotton masks etc. adhering to the advisories of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Consumers’ Affairs and instructions of Health Departments from the states are produced by SHGs. The masks have been supplied to the health department, Local Self Government (LSGs), local administration, front line workers, police officials, and are also sold in open markets. It has also been distributed free to the rural households in many states. SHG members have now also started making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like aprons, gowns, face shields etc.

      Details of masks, PPE, face shield etc produced through SHG network and media coverage are as follows:

      1. Masks: As reported by 27 State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs), around 1.96 crore masks have been produced by the SHG members (as on 8thApril 2020). Around 78,373 SHG members are presently involved in manufacturing of masks. Jharkhand SHGs were among the first to respond and have produced about 78,000 masks since March 22, 2020. These masks were being sold at the premises of various district collectorates and subsidised medical stores at an affordable price of Rs. 10/-.

       

      • Northern Goa district rural development agency through the help of SHGs has supplied 2,000 masks across the state. To cater the increased demand of masks, Himachal Pradesh SHGs with 2000 women members are completely indulged in preparation and production of protective masks.

       

      1. Personal Protective Equipment: SHG membersare also manufacturing PPE including aprons, gowns, face shields etc. Around 5000 PPE kits have been manufactured so far by SHGs in various states including MP, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka. Punjab SRLM reported supply of 500 aprons to Civil Surgeon, Kapurthala. Meghalaya reported supply of 200 face shields to district Medical Health officer. Karnataka reported production of 125 face shields. SRLMs of Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab have reported production of face shields, gowns by the SHG members.

       

      1. Women collectives step up to promote hand hygiene in their communities with affordable hand Sanitizers

      The micro-enterprises supported by DAY-NRLM have taken up the production of hand sanitisers and hand wash products to ensure the availability in rural areas. 900 SHG enterprises in 9 States have produced 1.15 lakh litres of sanitisers with the production in the three States of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh exceeding 25,000 litres each. Around 900 SHG enterprises located across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram are producing sanitizers to feed soaring demand.

        

      Following guidelines proposed by World Health Organization (WHO), a well-measured mix of four ingredients has been used to develop these sanitizers in Jharkhand. The sanitizer has been developed using alcohol (72%), distilled water (13%), glycerin (13%) and basil (2%). For their medicinal effects, lemon grass or basil are being added to the hand sanitizer to increase its effectiveness in destroying the virus. Priced modestly at Rs. 30/- per 100 ml bottle of sanitizer, they are being made available to the general public, hospitals and police stations.

       

      Some SHGs have also been selling liquid soaps to guarantee safe hand hygiene. SHG units located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu have also been able to produce 50,000 litres of hand-washing products.

       

      Sustaining their livelihoods through socially responsive contributions in promoting safe hygiene practices within their respective communities, these women have been fighting the COVID-19 outbreak with utmost dedication and devotion.

      1. World Bank on India’s Growth

      The World Bank has released the South Asia Economic Focus report. The report saw India’s growth at 1.5-2.8% in 2020-21 which is the slowest since 1991 economic reforms.

      Key Points

      • The South Asian regionhas been estimated to grow by 1.8-2.8% in 2020, down from the 6.3%, projected six months ago.
      • For 2020-21, for India, estimated growth (1.5-2.8%) is lower than 4.1-5.4% estimated in October, 2019.
      • It estimated that India will grow 4.8% to 5% in the 2019-20fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2020.
      • This is lower by 1.2-1% of the estimate made in October 2019.
      • India is likely to record its worst growth performance in 2020-21 since the 1991 liberalisationas the coronavirus outbreak severely disrupts the economy.
      • Growth recovery estimated at the end of 2019 have been overtaken by the negative impacts of the global crisis.
      • Disruptions due to Coronavirus:
      • The Covid-19 outbreak came at a time when India’s economy was already slowingdue to persistent financial sector weaknesses.
      • To contain it, the government imposed a lockdown, shutting factories and businesses, suspending flights, stopping trains and restricting mobility of goods and people.
      • This resulted in domestic supply and demand disruptions.
      • Impact :
      • A sharp growth deceleration in FY21 (April 2020 to March 2021).
      • The services sectorwill be particularly hit.
      • A revival in domestic investment is likely to be delayed given enhanced risk aversion on a global scale, and renewed concerns about financial sector resilience.
      • Growth is expected to rebound to 5% in Fiscal 2022 (2021-22) as the impact ofCovid-19 dissipates, and due to fiscal and monetary policy support.
      • India has set asidejust over 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for programs to increase health sector spending and compensate the unemployed, with the bulk of the money going towards cash transfers, free food and gas cylinders, and interest-free loans.
      • Suggestions by the World Bank:
      • India should focus on mitigating the spread of the disease, and to make sure that everybody has food.
      • It should also focus on temporary jobs programmes, especially at the local levels. These initiatives should be supported.
      • It should prevent bankruptcies, especially of a small and medium sized enterprise.
      • World Bank’s Support to India
      • The World Bank hasapproved USD 1 billion to India, of which the first tranche has already been released to deal with the emergency in the health care sector.
      • The first tranche aims at delivering civilian diagnostic equipment, put in place additional capacity to deal with testing and make testing available that benefits the entire population.
      • It is also working with India on two additional operations, which is anticipated to be ready in a matter of weeks
      • These include, employment, banking and micro, small and medium enterprises sectors.
      • Other international agencies that have made a similar growth estimates:

      o          TheAsian Development Bank (ADB) sees India’s economic growth decrease to 4% in the current fiscal.

      o          S&P Global Ratingshas estimated the GDP growth forecast for the country to 3.5% from a previous downgrade of 5.2%.

      o          Moody’s Investors Servicehas slashed its estimate of India’s GDP growth during the 2020 calendar year to 2.5%, from an earlier estimate of 5.3%.

      1991 Economic Reforms

      • Year 1990-1991 Indian economy faced several uncertainties and strains. Inflation had increased to an annual rate of 17%.
      • The fiscal deficit reached a peak of 8.2% of GDP while revenue deficit reached to a height of 2.6% of GDP, growth rate decelerated to about 1% showing symptoms of recession and industrial production falling at low level.The foreign exchange reserves of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had fallen to less than USD $1 billion resulting in an unprecedented external debt crisis.
      • Hence, the New Economic Policy was introduced, which consisted of a gradual process of easing out government controls of industrial deregulations and some import liberalization.
      • Significant changes in national policy with regards to Taxation, Industrial Licensing, Imports, Technology and Investment priorities were made.

      South Asia Economic Focus

      • The South Asia Economic Focus is a biannual economic update presenting recent economic developments and a near-term economic outlook for South Asia.
      • It aims at providing important background information and timely analysis of key indicators and economic and financial developments of relevance to World Bank Group operations and interaction with counterparts in the region, particularly during annual and spring meetings.
      • This biannual series is prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist for the South Asia region.
      • It includes a Focus section presenting more in-depth analysis of an economic topic of relevance for stability, growth, and prosperity in the region as well as country briefs covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
      • It concludes with a data section providing key economic indicators for South Asia “at a glance.”

       

      1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Expenditure

      Why in News

      The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has clarified that the contributions to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or the State relief fund will not qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure, while any donation to the PM CARES Fund will.

      Key Points

      • The Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or State Relief Fund for Covid-19is not included in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013, and therefore any contribution to such funds shall not qualify as admissible CSR expenditure.

      o          Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 provides the list of activities that can be included in CSR.

      • Some political parties criticised this saying it is discriminatoryand goes against the constitutional principle of federalism.
      • However, donations to the State Disaster Management Authorityto combat Covid-19 can be counted as admissible CSR expenditure.

      Corporate Social Responsibility

      • The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” in general can be referred to as a corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on the environment and impact on social welfare.
      • In India, the concept of CSR is governed byclause 135 of the Companies Act, 2013.
      • India is the first country in the world to mandate CSR spending along with a framework to identify potential CSR activities.
      • The CSR provisions within the Act is applicable to companies with an annual turnover of 1,000 crore and more, or a net worth of Rs. 500 crore and more, or a net profit of Rs. 5 crore and more.
      • The Act requires companies to set up a CSR committeewhich shall recommend a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy to the Board of Directors and also monitor the same from time to time.
      • The Act encourages companies to spend 2% of their average net profit in the previous three yearson CSR activities.
      • The indicative activities, which can be undertaken by a company under CSR, have been specified under Schedule VII of the Act.The activities include:

      o          Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty,

      o          Promotion of education, gender equality and empowering women,

      o          Combating Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and other diseases,

      o          Ensuring environmental sustainability;

      o          Contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government for socio-economic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women etc.

      Science & Technology

      1. SATYAM: Yoga Against Viruses

      Why in News

      Recently, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has initiated the Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM) programme.

      • Under SATYAM, DST has invited proposals to study appropriate intervention ofyoga and meditation in fighting Covid-19 and similar kinds of viruses.

      Key Points

      • Objective:DST is encouraging scientists, clinicians and experienced practitioners of yoga and meditation, with a proven track record, to submit concept notes on the proposal covering:

      o          Aims and objectives of proposed work.

      o          Existing literature.

      o             Expected outcome.

      o          Budget requirement.

      o          Details of host institutions along with detailed bio-data of the principal investigator with latest publications included in scientific journal databases.

      • Aim:

      o          To provide assistance to societyin today’s critical condition arising due to pandemic Covid-19.

               This is a need-based call,therefore, proposed work should be completed within 6-12 months.

      o          Dimensions of Covid:Covid-19 usually has three dimensions, related to:

               Stress (worry, sitting at home).

            

               Immune system.

      o          Scientific Investigation:The effects of yoga and meditation on the life of a person during such stressful times have to be scientifically investigated.

               Sometimes, there is an empirical correlation in the actions and the outcome,but it needs to be understood scientifically.

      o          Modern Tools:All the participants are expected to work together using the modern tools of life science and bio-sciences to understand what works and what does not.

               If something works, then what is the efficacy and in what conditions does it work.

      o          Holistic Target:The project may address improving immunity, improving respiratory systems and interventions to overcome respiratory disorders and other dimensions like stress, anxiety and depression-related issues due to isolation, uncertainty and disruption in normal life.

      Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation Programme

      • It was conceptualized in 2015 by the DST under its Cognitive Science Research Initiative (CSRI).
      • Aims:To foster scientific research on the effects of yoga and meditation on physical & mental health and on cognitive functioning in healthy people as well as in patients with disorders.
      • Themes:

      o          Investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on physical and mental health and well being.

      o          Investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on the body, brain, and mind in terms of basic processes and mechanisms.

      • Eligibility:

      o          Scientists/academicians with research background in ‘Yoga and Meditation’and having regular positions are invited to participate in this initiative.

      o          Practitioners actively involved in yoga and meditation practicesare also encouraged to apply in collaboration with academic and research institutions of repute.

      • Project Duration:The project is tenable for a maximum period of three years.

      Cognitive Science Research Initiative

      • DST initiated this as a highly focused programme in 2008during the 11th Five year plan.
      • The DSRI facilitates a platform to the scientific community to work for better solutions of challenges related with cognitive disorders and social issues through various psychological tools & batteries, early diagnosis & better therapies, intervention technologies and rehabilitation programmes.
      • Aim:

      o          To foster scientific research in the interdisciplinary field of Cognitive Science for better understanding of Indian mind sets, languages and cognitive disorders etc.

      • CSRI revolutionizes research in various fields,such as:

      o          Nature and origins of mental disorders, of physiological, social and neuro-chemical origins.

      o          Design of better learning tools and educational paradigm.

      o          Design of better software technologies and artificial intelligence devices.

      o          Streamlining of social policy formulation and analysis.

      • Activities Supported under CSRI:

      o          Individual R&D Projects.

      o          Multi-centric Mega Projects.

      o          Post Doctoral Fellowship.

      o          Support for Schools, Training, Workshops, Conferences, etc.

      Science & Technology

      1. False Negative Tests: A Concern

      Why in News

      Recently, there have been concerns about the manner in which some Covid-19 patients have apparently relapsed due to false negative tests.

      • They have been tested positive only a few days after testing negative.

      False Negative Test

      • There is apossibility that the virus does not show up in the first test because patients have not rid themselves of the virus. However, on testing again, the virus shows up and the patients test positive.
      • According to the research on the subject of false negative tests, no lab test is 100% accurate.
      • Although the tests based on detection of genetic material are very sensitive, they can be negative sometimes. Therefore, scientists and researchers have to constantly deal with the positive and negative predictive values.

      Possible Reasons

      • The swab is not obtained or processed correctlyor maybe obtained too early.

      o          An initial swab sample may not always collect enough genetic materialto provide an accurate test.

      o          This problem may arise more often in patients who do not show many symptoms at the time of their test.

      • Thetest runs badly due to some technical glitch.
      • Thevirus may shed in different amounts and is probably not present in the nose while the swab is collected.

      o          If the infection is in the lung, then a nose swab may not detect it.

      o          According to a study on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)respiratory swabs can be negative, but faeces may test positive in tests done at the same time which proves that the virus can exist in the body even if not in the nose at a given time.

      Suggestions

      • The public data on false negative rates in the clinical setting is very limited so each negative test must be guarded and analysed.
      • A negative test does not meanthe person does not have the disease so the test results need to be considered in the context of patient characteristics and exposure.
      • Public health officials should stick to principles of evidence-based reasoningregarding diagnostic test results and false-negatives.
      • False negative test results may be reassuring for the low-risk individuals but for higher-risk individuals, even those without symptoms, the risk of such results requires additional protective measures against the spread of disease,like extended self-isolation.
      • To be confirmed negative after being positive,a patient normally needs two negative swabs 24 hours apart to be sure.

      Economy

      1. Neighbouring Rights Law

      Why in News

      The French competition regulator has asked Google to negotiate with publishers and news agencies the remuneration due to them under the law relating to neighbouring rights.

      • The French regulator has announced that Google must start paying media for sharing their content,as its practices had caused serious harm to the press sector.
      • The order is aninterim decision. Though the order is only for the French press, it has global ramifications for Google and the press, as it can set a legal precedent and shape the discourse around the economics of news on the net.
      • The neighbouring rights law that came into force on 24thJuly, 2019 in France aims to set the conditions for a balanced negotiation between publishers, news agencies and digital platforms, in order to redefine, in favour of press publishers and news agencies, the sharing of the value between these actors.

      Neighbouring Rights

      • According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), related rights, also referred to as neighboring rights, protect the legal interests of certain persons and legal entities that contribute to making works available to the public or that produce subject matter which, while not qualifying as works under the copyright systems of all countries,contains sufficient creativity or technical and organizational skill to justify recognition of a copyright-like property right.
      • Traditionally,related rights have been granted to three categories of beneficiaries:

      o          Performers (actors/musicians);

      o          Producers of sound recordings (also referred to as phonograms); and

      o          Broadcasting organizations.

      Protection in India

      • The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematography films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea.

      o          Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work.

      o          Copyright is an Intellectual Property Right (IPR).

               Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

               Other IPRs include trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents, etc.

      o          Copyright as provided by the Indian Copyright Act is valid only within the borders of the country. To secure protection to Indian works in foreign countries, India has become a member of the following international conventions on copyright and neighbouring (related) rights:

               Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works, 1886.

               Universal Copyright Convention (Revised in 1971).

               Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorised Duplication of their Phonograms, 1971.

               Multilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Copyright Royalties, 1979.

               Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, 1995.

      Governance

      Use of ICT in Education

      Recently, the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) has launched a mobile application and plans to book a slot with the All India Radio (AIR) for the audio broadcast of study materials for government school students.

      • The initiative aims to help the government school students, so that their studies do not suffer due to the Covid-19

      Key Points

      • The mobile application named “Unnayan: Mera Mobile, Mera Vidyalaya”has been launched for Class VI to XII of over 70,000 government-run schools.
      • The app has been jointly developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bihar governmentand Eckovation, a social learning platform.
      • In collaboration with UNICEF, class-wise and subject-wise study materials are being preparedwhich will be broadcast by AIR.

      o          Radio has a deep penetration into villages and is much simpler to operate.

      • The BEPC has also encouraged students for the use of online education portals like Diksha.

      o          On Diksha app NCERT books are availablefree of cost for Class 1 to XII and have also integrated audio-visual media along with digital textbooks.

      Challenges

      • Digital Divide:There is a huge digital divide that exists in Bihar.
      • Poverty:Most of the people in Bihar are poor and live below the poverty line and are currently struggling to meet their daily sustenance. Expecting them to find ways to make their children digitally connect with schools or participate in online classes is irrational.

      o          Television andInternet facilities are still luxury items for many people

      • Capacity Development:Expecting teachers to seamlessly move to online platforms without adequate training and support would also be unreasonable.
      • Inequalities:In a State like Bihar distance learning has also revealed glaring challenges that stem from socio-economic, digital and educational inequalities.

      UNICEF

      • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
      • It was created in 1946 as the International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF) by the UN relief Rehabilitation Administration to help children affected by World War II.
      • Objective: It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.
      • It is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.
      • Nobel Prize: It was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1965 for “promotion of brotherhood among the nations”.
      • Headquarters: New York City

      Governance

      1. Bharat Padhe Online and YUKTI Portal: MHRD

      Why in News

      Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launched two new initiatives – Bharat Padhe Online Campaign and YUKTI web-portal – for improving and monitoring the online education ecosystem in India.

      Bharat Padhe Online

      • ‘Bharat Padhe Online’ is a week-long campaign upto 16thApril, 2020 for crowdsourcing of ideas for improving the online education ecosystem of India.
      • It aims to invite all the best brains in India to share suggestions/solutions directly with the HRD Ministry to overcome constraints of online education while promoting the available digital education platforms.
      • Students and teachers are the main target audience in it.

      YUKTI Portal

      • YUKTI (Young India Combating Covid with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation)is a unique portal and dashboard to monitor and record the efforts and initiatives of MHRD.
      • It will also cover the various initiatives and efforts of the institutions in academics, research especially related to Covid-19, social initiatives by institutions and the measures taken for the betterment of the total wellbeing of the students.
      • It will allow various institutions to share their strategies for various challengeswhich are there because of the unprecedented situation of Covid-19 and other future initiatives.
      • The portal will also establish a two-way communication channelbetween the Ministry of HRD and the institutions so that the Ministry can provide the necessary support system to the institutions.
      • This portal will help in addressing critical issuesrelated to student promotion policies, placements related challenges and physical and mental well-being of students in these challenging times.
      • Objectives:The portal will give inputs for better planning and will enable it to monitor effectively its activities for coming six months.

      o          It aims to fulfil the goals of the Ministry in the wake of Covid-19 to keep the academic community healthy, both physically & mentally and to enable a continuous high-quality learning environment for learners.

      International Relations

      10.Ebola Death in Democratic Republic of Congo

      Why in News

      According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Democratic Republic of Congo recorded a second Ebola death in days following more than seven weeks without a new case.

      Key Points

      • The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,200 people since August 2018. During this outbreak it killed about two thirds of those it infected.
      • The cases appear when the Democratic Republic of Congohad been due to mark an end to the second-deadliest outbreak of the virus on record.
      • No clarity on contractions:It is not yet clear how the new cases emerged. Neither there was any contact with other Ebola patients, nor the patient was a survivor of the virus which could have relapsed.
      • Flare-ups or one-off transmissions (sudden outburst) are common towards theend of Ebola outbreaks, and a new case does not necessarily mean that the virus will spread out of control again.

      Ebola Virus Disease

      • Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the virus has been infecting people from time to time, leading to outbreaks in several African countries.
      • Transmission: Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts.
      • Animal to human transmission: Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
      • Human-to-human transmission: Ebola spreads via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with:
      • Blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
      • Objects that have been contaminated with body fluids (like blood, feces, vomit) from a person sick with Ebola or the body of a person who died from Ebola.
      • Incubation Period: The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days.
      • A person infected with Ebola cannot spread the disease until they develop symptoms.
      • Symptoms: Symptoms of Ebola can be sudden and include:
      • Fever
      • Fatigue
      • Muscle pain
      • Headache
      • Sore throat
      • Vomiting
      • Diarrhoea
      • Symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function
      • In some cases, both internal and external bleeding
      • Diagnosis: It can be difficult to clinically distinguish Ebola from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, and meningitis but confirmation that symptoms are caused by Ebola virus infection are made using the following diagnostic methods:
      • Antibody-capture Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). It also tests Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and Kyasanur Forest Disease.
      • Antigen-capture detection tests
      • Serum neutralization test
      • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) assay
      • Electron microscopy
      • Virus isolation by cell culture.
      • Vaccines: An experimental Ebola vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV proved highly protective against EVD in a major trial in Guinea in 2015.
      • The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is being used in the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in DRC. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have access to the vaccine under the same conditions as for the general population.
      • The public mistrust and militia attacks have prevented health workers from reaching some hard-hit areas for administering the vaccines.

      Governance

      1. Women SHGs Fight Against Covid-19

      Why in News

      Women members of around 63 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the country formed under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development are contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of Covid-19.

      Key Points

      • All State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLMs)have been made aware of the various aspects of the disease including the need to maintain personal hygiene, social distancing etc. through Audio Visual (AV) Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material and advisories.
      • SRLMs are using all the information to ensure that the correct message is communicated to the community by various means like telephone calls, wall writings, pamphlets/fliers, social media, etc.
      • Important Interventions by SRLMs:

      o          Bihar SRLM (JEEViKA):

               Utilizing Mobile Vaani Platformto spread awareness among the community through voice messages and answering queries on Covid-19.

               Mobile Vaani (MV)is a mobile-based voice media platform for underserved areas in India whereby users generate content in their own local dialect through an Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).

      o          Uttar Pradesh SRLM (Prerna):

               Use of rangolisand markings such as lines and circles to re-emphasise the need for ‘social distancing’.

               Wall paintings to spread key messages about Covid prevention.

      o          Jharkhand SRML:

               Initiated Didi helpline,which helps migrant labourers by providing them verified information 24 hours.

      o          Kerala SRML:

               Dispelling the widespread fake news causing panic through its WhatsApp groupsand propagating only the right information.

      Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission

      • It was launched by theMinistry of Rural Development in
      • It aimsat creating efficient and effective institutional platforms for the rural poor enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.
      • NRLM has set out with an agenda to cover 7 crore rural poor households, across 600 districts, 6000 blocks, 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats and 6 lakh villages in the country through self-managed SHGs and institutions and supportthem for livelihoods collectives in a period of 8-10 years.
      • Salient Features:

      o          It lays special emphasis on targeting the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable communities (i.e. Antyodaya)and their financial inclusion.

      o          Innovative projects under National Rural Economic Transformation Project(NRETP) to pilot alternate channels of financial inclusion, creating value chains around rural products, introduce innovative models in livelihoods promotion and access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

      o          DAY-NRLM provides for mutually beneficial working relationships and formal platforms for consultations between Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

      o          NRLM has also developed an activity map to facilitate convergence in different areas of interventionswhere NRLM institutions and PRIs could work together which has been disseminated to all SRLMs.

      Indian History

      Why in News

      12.Recently, Odisha’s Ganjam district administration banned the Meru Jatra festival and congregations related to it at temples on the occasion of Mahavishub Sankranti (13th April, 2020), due to Covid-19.

      • Covid-19 has also affected the sale of Pattachitra paintings.

      Meru Jatra Festival

      • Meru Jatra marks the end of the 21-day-long festival of penance named‘Danda Nata’.
      • Danda Nata is celebrated in the month of’Chaitra’.

      o          Danda as the name implies, isself-inflicted pain, which the danduas (people who participate in the festival) undergo to pay their obeisance to the lord Kali. It is also a form of worshipping the lord Shiva and his consort Parvati.

      o          The origin of the festivalis generally traced to 8th and 9th AD after the decadence of Buddhism in Orissa.

      • On the occasion of Mahavishub Sankrantithousands of devotees used to gather at the Tara Tarini hill shrine and other temples.

      o          Tara Tarini hill shrine, located at a hilltop on banks of the Rushikulya river,is a major centre of Shakti worship in Odisha.

      o          The twin goddesses Tara and Tarinirepresent one Shakti and are the main deity of Ganjam district (Odisha).

      • Mahavishub Sankrantiis the start of the Odia New Year.
      • Earlier, the administrations had also banned the famous Chaitra Jatra festival at Tara Tarini hill shrineas a precautionary measure against Covid-19 infection.

       

      Pattachitra Painting

                     

      • Pattachitra style of painting is one of the oldest and most popular art forms of Odisha.
      • Thename Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words Patta, meaning canvas, and Chitra, meaning Pattachitra is done on canvas and is manifested by rich colourful application, creative motifs and designs, and portrayal of simple themes, mostly mythological in depiction.
      • Some of the popular themes represented through this art form are Thia Badhia- depiction of the temple of Jagannath; Krishna Lila – enactment of Jagannath as Lord Krishna displaying his powers as a child; Dasabatara Patti – the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu; Panchamukhi – depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity.
      • The Pattachitra, when painted on cloth, follows a traditional process of preparation of the canvas. First, the base is prepared by coating the cloth with the soft, white, stone powder of chalk and glue made from tamarind seeds.
      • It is a tradition to complete the borders of the painting first. The painter then starts making a rough sketch directly with the brush using light red and yellow. The colours used are normally white, red, yellow, and black.
      • When the painting is completed it is held over a charcoal fire and lacquer is applied to the surface. This makes the painting water resistant and durable, besides giving it a shining finish.
      1. Renewable Energy Certificates

      Why in News

      Recently, sales of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) rose over 79 % to 8.38 lakh units in March compared to 4.68 lakh in the same month a year ago owing to good supply.

      Key Points

      • Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) is a market-based instrument to promote renewable sources of energy anddevelopment of the market in electricity.

      o          One REC is created when one megawatt hour of electricityis generated from an eligible renewable energy source.

      • REC acts as a tracking mechanism for solar, wind, and other green energiesas they flow into the power grid.
      • RECs go by many names, including Green tag, Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), Renewable Electricity Certificates, or Renewable Energy Credits.
      • Under Renewable Purchase Obligation(RPO) bulk purchasers like discoms, open access consumers and capacitive users are required to buy a certain proportion of RECs. They can buy RECs from renewable energy producers.

      o          RPO was instituted in 2011,it is a mandate that requires large power procurers to buy a predetermined fraction of their electricity from renewable sources.

      • The proportionof renewable energy for utilities is fixed by the central and state electricity regulatory commissions.
      • In India, RECs are traded ontwo power exchanges — Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) and Power Exchange of India (PXIL).
      • The price of RECs is determined by market demand,and contained between the ‘floor price’ (minimum price) and ‘forbearance price’ (maximum price) specified by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

      Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

      • CERC is a regulator of the power sector in India.
      • It intends to promote competition, efficiency and economy in bulk power markets, improve the quality of supply, promote investments and advise the government on the removal of institutional barriers to bridge the demand supply gap.
      • It is a statutory body functioning with quasi-judicial status under the Electricity Act 2003.

      Yanomami Tribe

      Why in News

      • Recently, a Yanomamiindigenous boy died in Brazil after contracting Covid-19, raising fears for the Amazon tribes.

      Key Points

      • Brazil is home to an estimated 8,00,000 indigenous people from more than 300 ethnic groups.
      • Guarani, Kaingang, Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe Tupinambá, Yanomami, Tikuna and Akuntsuare popular tribe of Amazon.
      • Yanomami Tribe

      o          Yanomami, also called South American Indians,live in the remote forest of the Orinoco River basin in southern Venezuela and the northernmost reaches of the Amazon River basin in northern Brazil.

      o          They numbered around 27,000 individuals throughout their range.

      o          Yanomami live in small, scattered, semi-permanent villages and speak the Xirianá language.

      o          They practice hunting and slash-and-burn agriculture.

      • It can be noted that recently, a Brazilian indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa who secured the land rights of the Yanomami peoplewas awarded the Right Livelihood Award-2019, also known as Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize.

       

      Minimum Support Price (MSP) to be implemented for Minor Forest Produces (MFP)

      In News:

      • Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India(TRIFED) has asked the State Nodal Departments and Implementing Agencies to initiate procurement of Minor Forest Produces (MFPs) under Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce Scheme.

      Important value additions:

      Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce Scheme

      • The scheme for forest produce has been started with following objectives:

      o          To provide fair priceto the MFP gatherers and enhance their income level.

      o          To ensure sustainable harvestingof MFPs.

      o          To ensure huge social dividendfor MFP gatherers, majority of whom are tribals.

      • Earlier, the scheme was only implemented in States having Schedule areasas listed in the Fifth Schedule of the constitution of India.
      • Since 2016, the scheme is applicable in all States.

      Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED)

      • It came into existence in 1987.
      • It is a national-level apex organization.
      • The basic objectiveof the TRIFED is to provide good price of the ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP) collected by the tribes of the country.
      • It functions under Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India.
      • TRIFED has its Head Office at New Delhi.
      • It has a network of 13 Regional Offices located at various places in the country.

      Minor Forest Produce (MFP)

      • Section 2(i) of the Forest Rights Actdefines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants etc.
      • The definition of “minor forest produce” includes bamboo and cane, thereby changing the categorization of bamboo and caneas “trees” under the Indian Forest Act 1927.

       

       

      Delivery of S-400 air defence missile systems to be on schedule

      Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations; Bilateral agreements

      In News:

      • It has been reported that all the major military contracts between Russia and India, including the deliveries of S-400 air defence missile systems, will be on schedule despite the coronavirus pandemic.

      Important value additions:

      S-400

      • India had signed a $5 billion dealwith Russia to buy the S-400 air defence missile systems in 2018.
      • The system is also known as the ‘Triumf’ interceptor-based missile system.
      • It can simultaneously tracknumerous incoming objects — all kinds of aircraft, missiles and UAVs — in a radius of 400km and launch appropriate missiles to neutralise them.
      • The S-400 is Russia’s most advancedlong-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
      • Russia plans to complete the delivery by 2025.
      • The U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia under the stringent Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act(CAATSA) for manufacturing S-400.
      • The law also provides for punitive actionagainst countries purchasing defence hardware from Russia.

       

      India’s economic growth to get affected amidst COVID-19

      Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy & GS-II – Global groupings

      In News:

      • According to World Bank’s South Asia Economic Focusreport, India may record its worst growth performance this fiscal year (2020-21) since the 1991 liberalisation.
      • Coronavirus outbreakis the main cause of severely disrupting the economy.

      Key takeaways:

      • India’s economy is expected to grow at 1.5% to 2.8%in the 2020-21.
      • The World Bank approved USD 1 billionto India to fight the COVID-19 pandemic recently.

      Important value additions:

      The South Asia Economic Focus report

      • It is a biannual economic updatepresenting recent economic developments and a near-term economic outlook for South Asia.
      • It covers South Asian countries– Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
      • It aims at providing important background informationand timely analysis of key indicators and economic and financial developments.

      World Bank

      • It is an international financial institution.
      • It provides loans and grantsto the poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects.
      • It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development(IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA).
      • Headquarter : Washington D.C

       

      Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendra (PMJK): Corona Warriors delivering affordable quality medicines

      In News:

      • Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendra(PMJK) people are working as Corona Warriors to serve the nation in order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Pharmacists at Kendras are delivering quality generic medicines at affordable pricesto the common citizens of the country amidst the crisis.

      Important value additions:

      Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

      • It is being run by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India
      • PMBJP is also generating awarenessthrough informational posts on their social media platforms.
      • Vision: To bring down the healthcare budget of every citizen of India through providing “Quality generic Medicines at Affordable Prices”.
      • Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendrais a medical outlet opened under the scheme which makes quality medicines available at affordable prices for all.
      • “Jan Aushadhi Sugam” mobile app helps in locating nearestJanaushadhi Kendra and availability of medicines with its price.

       

      Bancassurance

      • Insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI) has allowed the four banks, which emerged from the recent mega bank merger exercise, to continue for a year with existing bancassurance agreements.
      • Bancassurancemeans selling insurance product through banks.
      • Benefits: On the one hand, the bankearns fee amount and the interest income from the insurance company. On the other hand, the insurance firm increases its market reach and customers.
      • Government of India notification (Banking Regulation Act), 2000, laid out the Bancassurance clearance.

      INTERNATIONAL/ GOVERNANCE

      • Effects of globalization on Indian society.
      • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
      • India’s Economic reforms and Investment models

      COVID-19 and the crumbling world order

      COVID-19 will fundamentally transform the world especially the following:

      • The world order
      • International Balance of power
      • The future of globalisation
      • Traditional conceptions of national security
      1. World Order
      • COVID-19 has exposed that global institutional framework are:

      o          Pawn in the hands of the great powers (who created these institutions post WW-II)

      o          Undemocratic and unrepresentative in its character

      o          Cash-strapped to fight crisis of this scale

      o          Its agenda is focused on high-table security issues and are not designed to serve humanity at large.

      • Post-national regional arrangements like EU also stood clueless when the virus spread like wildfire in Europe. Its member states turned inward for solutions and not regional coordination.

      Result:

      • Credibility of the world institutions has been further eroded
      • The global institutional architecture of the 1940s cannot help humanity face the challenges of the 2020s.
      • Need for new social contract between states and the international system
      1. Balance of Power
      • One country that is likely to come out stronger from this crisis is China.
      • China’s industrial production is recovering even as other countries are taking a hit.
      • The decline in oil priceswill make China’s recovery even faster.
      • China appears to use its manufacturing power to its geopolitical advantage.

      o          Beijing has offered medical aid and expertise to those in need

      o          China has increased cooperation with its arch-rival Japan

      Result:

      • Beijing’s claims to global leadership will be aided by its manufacturing power
      • It might push Huawei 5G trials as a side bargain
      • China might also showcase the Belt and Road Initiative as the future of global connectivity.
      • COVID-19 will further push the international system into a world with Chinese characteristics.
      1. Future of Globalisation
      • Neoliberal economic globalisation will take a major beating as experts have predicted recession worse than 2008 crisis
      • The profits of big corporations will reduce, and the demand for stability will increase.
      • COVID-19 shock will further catalyse states’ protectionist tendenciesfuelled by hyper nationalism.
      • There will be an increased state interventionto avoid unpredictable supply sources, avoid geopolitically sensitive zones, and national demands for emergency reserves.

      Result:

      • Retreat of LPG:Licence-quoto-permit Raj can return
      • State to become omnipresent and omnipotent: Governments will gather more power and surveillance technologies to prevent future such shocks
      • State-led models of globalisationand economic development would be preferred over (big) corporates-led globalisation
      • New-age racism: Questions are likely to be asked about the source of goods and stringent imposition of phytosanitary measures by advanced states on products coming from developing countries
      • Impact on Indian Society:Moral claims based on birth & class and the associated notions about hygiene (purity) could become sharper

      Conclusion

      Globally, societies could become more self-seeking and inward-looking

      Source: The Hindu

      Connecting the dots:

      • Perils of Licence raj and Crony Capitalism
      • Impact of COVID-19 on India’s caste system

       

      From the country’s eastern region, 853 SHGs involving 2516 rural women of Chhattisgarh have supplied masks to the state. Self-help groups in Odisha have manufactured more than a million masks for distribution of masks among common people. Arunachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation has asked SHGs to supply 10,000 face masks to prevent the spread of highly infectious COVID-19.

      In Andhra Pradesh, 2254 groups of 13 sub-blocks of the district have followed the guidelines of government for the manufacturing of cloth face masks. Similarly, Karnataka rural self-help groups have produced 1.56 lakhs face masks just in 12 days with their dedication to prevent the spread of disease in the state.

No comments found

LEAVE COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow us on: