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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 25th March 2020
Published on March 25, 2020, 6:36 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 25th March 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Environment Ministry orders relocation of desalination plant project

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment  

In News: 

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) has directed the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD) to shift its project site.
  • The project site was for setting up a 60 MLD Sea and Brackish Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) plant near the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.

According to The EAC,

  • The project site is within the eco-sensitive zone of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.
  • The release of brine will certainly impact the fish catch affecting the fishermen.
  • Reefs, seaweeds, seagrass and the overall ecosystem of the area will also be affected.
  • No detailed marine environmental impact assessment had been carried out for the project.

Important value additions:

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park 

  • It is a protected area of India.
  • It consists of 21 small islands and adjacent coral reefs in the Gulf of Mannar in the Indian Ocean.
  • It is the core area of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve.
  • Public access inside the Park is limited to glass bottom boat rides.

Image source: https://tvaraj.com/tag/gulf-of-mannar-marine-national-park/

Expert appraisal committee

  • It exists at the Union as well as state levels (state expert appraisal committee or SEAC) 
  • It is formed to advise the government on environmental clearance of development projects.
  • They are involved at all the stages, except for public hearing.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 

  • It is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development.
  • Both EPA and EIA are provided under Environment Protection Act 1980.

G20 virtual summit

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Global groupings

In News: 

  • G20 leaders are likely to hold a video conference on 25th March, 2020 to discuss the coronavirus pandemic.

Key takeaways:

  • Saudi Arabia, the current president of the forum, declared that it would convene a virtual summit on the extraordinary threat posed by the virus that has killed thousands across the world.

Important value additions:

G20

  • The G20 (or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU). 
  • It was founded in 1999.
  • Its aim is to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
  • The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).

Coronavirus pandemic 

  • It is an on-going pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

CM announces loan waiver under Badavara Bandhu

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Welfare schemes; Governance

In News: 

  1. Karnataka Chief Minister recently announced waiver of loans under the Badavara Bandhu scheme, to provide relief to the poor due to COVID -19 pandemic.

Important value additions:

Badavara Bandhu scheme

  1. Under the scheme, mobile banks were launched to disburse interest-free loans to street vendors and small traders.
  2. Small traders will get loans of up to Rs.10,000 without any interest and collateral.
  3. The beneficiaries will have the flexibility of repaying the loan on daily instalments of Rs.100 or one-time repayment within three months. 
  4. If they repay within the stipulated time, they are eligible for a fresh loan of up to Rs.15,000.

Various festivals across the country being celebrated

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Art and Culture

In News: 

  • Indian Prime Minister greeted people on the occasion of various festivals across the country being celebrated on 25th March, 2020.

Key takeaways:

  • The festivals being celebrated are Yugadi, Gudhi Padwa, Navreh and Sajibu Cheiraoba.
  • These festivals mark the New Year's Day for the people belonging to Hindu religion and Sanamahism religion.
  • They are celebrated on the first day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Chaitra. 
  • This typically falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar.

Important value additions:

Festivals Description
Yugadi It is celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana states in India.
Gudhi Padwa It is celebrated in and near Maharashtra and Goa.
Navreh It is celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits.
Sajibu Cheiraoba It is celebrated by the people who follow the Sanamahism religion of the Indian state of Manipur.

(MAINS FOCUS)


GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Disaster Management
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Death by fireworks

Context: Frequent accidents in fireworks units in Sivakasi, Tamilnadu

In news:

  • In the past decade 239 people have been killed and over 265 injured in 142 accidents in fireworks units.
  • The fireworks sector has currently grown to 1,070 licensed units employing an estimated 10 lakh workers.

Some of the major causes of accidents are:

  • Illegal Functioning: Unlicensed units manufacturing firecrackers have increased, which don’t adhere to the safety guidelines provided by State authorities.
  • Sub-leasing of works who often neglect safety measures so as to maximise their profit. 
  • Mishandling of Chemicals: Rough handling of chemicals by untrained and unskilled workers often leads to fire mishaps
  • Spillage or overloading of chemicals during the filling process 
  • Working outside permitted areas which puts the safety of the neighbourhood in danger.
  • Lack of adequate monitoring by the state authorities

The Chaitanya Prasad Committee

It examined, among other things, statutory and administrative shortcomings that led to the death of 40 workers at Om Shakti Fireworks Industries in 2012.

Some of the committee’s key findings are:

  • Conspicuous absence of proper inspection mechanisms at various government departments. 
  • Lack of coordination between Central and State authorities dealing with the regulation of fireworks industries.
  • It recommended making sub-leasing of works by licensed units a cognisable penal offence
  • As part of industrial safety measures, it mandated inter-safety distances between sheds to be covered with earthen mounds.

Way Ahead

  • Adopting safe work practices
  • Comprehensive monitoring by Central and State licensing 
  • Strict enforcement of the safety guidelines by authorities.
  • Increased manpower in such enforcement & regulatory authorities
  • Implementing the recommendation of Chaitanya Prasad Committee
  • Awareness among stakeholders involved in the sector about the significance of safety in manufacturing process.

Connecting the dots:

  • Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)
  • Green Crackers

HEALTH/GOVERNANCE ISSUE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Health related issues

COVID-19: The race to find a cure

Context: The novel coronavirus has infected more than 4 lakh people worldwide and has led to the deaths of more than 17,000.  

  • The epicentre of the pandemic has now shifted from China to Western Developed countries
  • With no specific therapy available at present, there is an increased pressure on world scientific community to fast-forward the development of vaccine

Encouraging Developments

  • As per WHO reports, nearly 20 vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development and will be ready for Phase-I safety trials.
  • In USA: Phase-I safety trials of an experimental vaccine (mRNA-1273) has already been administered to healthy volunteers for its safety and immunogenicity.
  • In China: Another vaccine jointly developed by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and CanSino Biologics has reportedly been cleared for early-stage clinical trials on more than 100 healthy volunteers 
  • The Serum Institute of India has also announced its readiness to start safety trials of a drug following animal experiments

Challenges of Vaccine Discovery

  • Side Effects: The immune response induced by experimental vaccination may lead to any disease enhancements.
  • Duration of immunity: If the immunity induced due to vaccination is transient, then humans will be susceptible to reinfections. Thus, a longer test period is required
  • Lengthy Process: It will not be possible to roll-out any efficacious vaccine for at least another year, considering the complexity and the lengthy regulatory process involved in vaccine development

Alternative Way

  • Scientists and pharmaceutical companies have thus rushed to investigate and use drugs that have already been approved by regulatory authorities.
  • With the available biological information about the virus protein & its mechanism of infection, the re-purposing of existing drugs to treat COVID-19 patients has already been started in many countries
  • However, without any appropriate controls, careful dosing and safety concerns, such small experiments can do more harm than good

Controlled randomised trials

  • It is a study in which people are allocated at random (by chance alone) to receive one of several clinical interventions (in this case the experimental vaccine)
  • Randomization reduces bias and provides a rigorous tool to examine cause-effect relationships between an intervention and outcome. This speeds up the process to understand the drug’s efficacy without undermining safety standards.
  • Solidarity Project: It is an initiative by WHO whereby four drugs or drug combinations will be tested randomly in many countries around the world. 
  • It includes the anti-Ebola drug, Remdesivir, Chloroquine, anti-HIV drugs, and the Ritonavir/Lopinavir combination, with or without Interferon-beta. 
  • The European counterpart of the trial, Discovery, will also conduct such trials in countries including France, Spain, Germany and the U.K.
  • The pharma company Roche has also decided to initiate large, randomised Phase-III trials of its arthritis drug Actemra for its safety and efficacy in adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, these trials will lead to tangible drug therapies against COVID-19.

Connecting the dots:

  • Generic drugs and Branded drugs

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q 1. Consider the following statements:

  1. Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is the core area of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve.
  2. Public access inside the Park is limited.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q 2. Consider the following statements regarding Expert appraisal committee:

  1. It exists at the Union level only.
  2. The committee is involved at all the stages of environmental clearance.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q 3. Which of the following country is not the part of G20 Summit?

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Brazil
  4. Venezuela

Q 4. Consider the following statements:

  1. Yugadi is celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana states of India. 
  2. Gudhi Padwa is celebrated in and near Maharashtra and Goa.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS FOR 24 March 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 A
4 A

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