10 October, 2020
- Self-Assessment test
- MERS - COV virus (Science & technology)
- National Butterfly Tag - (Environment)
- Kyrgyzstan - (International relations)
- Cotton production profile - (Economy)
- UN Food program (International Relations)
- RUDRAM I (Security)
- Monetary policy Statement RBI - (Economy)
- Honor Killings in India (Social issues)
- Question for the day
UPSC Current Affairs: SARS-CoV-2 not last virus to spark a pandemic – Pg 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: SARS-CoV-2 | MERS-CoV | UPSC
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
- It is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Source of the virus
- MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, which means it is a virus that is transmitted between animals and people.
- Studies have shown that humans are infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels.
- MERS-CoV has been identified in dromedaries in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
- It may have originated in bats and was transmitted to camels sometime in the distant past.
- Dromedary camels are the major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of infection in humans.
- The virus does not pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as providing unprotected care to an infected patient.
- Mainly found in healthcare facilities.
Types of Camels
- These are found only in Kutch in Gujarat.
- They feed on mangrove vegetation.
- Consider the following statements:
- Asiatic lion is naturally found in India only.
- Double-humped camel is naturally found in India only.
- One-horned rhinoceros is naturally found in India only.
Which of the statements given above is / are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
What is/are unique about ‘Kharai Camel’, a breed found in India?
- It is capable of swimming up to three kilometres in seawater.
- It survives by grazing on mangroves.
- It lives in the wild and cannot be domesticated.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
- H1N1 virus is sometimes mentioned in the news with reference to which one of the following diseases?
(b) Bird flu
(d) swine flu
- Among the following which were frequently mentioned in the news for the outbreak of Ebola virus recently?
- a) Syria and Jordan
- b) Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia
- c) Philippines and Papua New Guinea
- d) Jamaica, Haiti and Surinam
UPSC Current Affairs: Citizen poll throws up three contenders for national butterfly tag |Pg 8
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment | Mains: GS Paper-III – Environment, Ecology & Biodiversity
Sub Theme: National Butterfly Tag | Rule of Law | UPSC
Three contenders for the National Butterfly
- Krishna Peacock (Papilio Krishna)
- It is a flagship species for biodiversity and conservation, is generally found in large numbers in the Himalayas.
- Indian Jezebel (Delias eucharis)
- It has a vibrant colour pattern, including vermilion (haldi – Kumkum)
- It is known to deter its predators with its flashy wing colours.
- It is Widely distributed, the species can be spotted in gardens and other lightly wooded areas.
- Orange Oakleaf (Kallima inachus)
- It is commonly known as ‘dead leaf’ for its ability to camouflage as a dry autumn leaf while striking a stationary pose with its wings closed.
- It enables the species to prevent it from being devoured by birds in the moist forests of northern Western Ghats, central, northern and north-eastern parts of India where they are generally found.
- Recently, for the first time in our country, which of the following States has declared a particular butterfly as ‘State Butterfly’?
(a) Arunachal Pradesh
(b) Himachal Pradesh
UPSC Current Affairs: What’s happening in Kyrgyzstan?|Pg 13
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations; World Geography
Sub Theme: Kyrgyzstan | UPSC
Kyrgyzstan, often referred to as ‘Central Asia’s only democracy’, had seen violent anti-government protests in the past. In 2005 and 2010, sitting presidents were forced out of office in the ‘Tulip’ and the ‘Melon’ revolutions.
- For China, the country, located at the centre of Eurasia, is a vital link in its Belt and Road Initiative. China has built road and rail networks with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
- During the early stages of the Afghan war, the U.S. had used Kyrgyzstan for refuelling and other logistical purposes.
- It hosts Russian air base. Russia sees this country as its political backyard and seeks to keep its dominance over it. Some of the countries having Russian influence are witnessing violence and conflict.
- For Example - protests in Belarus and conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, over Nagorno-Karabakh.
- UPSC Current Affairs: Indian cotton gets ‘Kasturi’ branding, logo|Pg 14
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains: GS Paper-III – Economy – Agriculture
Sub Theme: Cotton - Kasturi| UPSC
Cotton production profile
- India also has the distinction of having the largest area under cotton cultivation in the world.
- India is the country to grow all four species of cultivated cotton Gossypiumarboreum and herbaceum (Asian cotton), G.barbadense (Egyptian cotton) and G. hirsutum (American Upland cotton)
- India is the largest producer of cotton in the World. India is also leading consumer of cotton.
- USA is the largest exporter of cotton.
- Maharashtra has highest area under cotton cultivation.
- Gujarat is the largest producer of cotton.
- Approximately 62% of India’s Cotton is produced on rain-fed areas and 38% on irrigated lands.
- In terms of productivity, India ranks poorly compared to USA (955 kgs/ha) & China (1764 Kgs/ha).
- During 2018-19, India’s Productivity is estimated at 454.43 kg/ha
- The Ministry of Agriculture based on the recommendations of Advisory Board viz., Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) fixes the MSP.
- Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has been nominated by the Government of India for undertaking MSP operations in the event when prices of seed cotton (kapas) touch MSP level for procuring entire quantity of kapas offered by the cotton farmers in various APMC market yards at MSP rates without any quantitative limit.
- UPSC Current Affairs: UN’s World Food Programme wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize |Pg 13
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Issues | Mains: GS Paper-II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: Nobel Peace Prize| Food Security | UN World Food programme | UPSC
UN World Food programme
- The World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
- In 2015 the global community adopted the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development to improve people’s lives by 2030. Goal 2 – Zero Hunger – pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- For its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict, WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020.
- Funded entirely by voluntary donations
- It works closely with its two sister organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- IFAD is an international financial institution and specialized United Nations agency
- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) we invest in rural people, empowering them to increase their food security, improve the nutrition of their families and increase their incomes. We help them build resilience, expand their businesses and take charge of their own development.
- IFAD is the only multilateral development institution that focuses exclusively on transforming rural economies and food systems.
UPSC Current Affairs: DRDO tests anti-radiation missile |Pg 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains: GS Paper-III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Anti-Radiation Missile| RudraM-I | UPSC
Context - A New-Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM), RudraM-I, was successfully flight-tested on Friday by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). This is the first indigenous anti-radiation missile.
- An anti-radiation missile can locate and target radiation-emitting sources such as enemy radars, communication sites and other radio frequency-emitting targets.
- They can play a key role in neutralising any jamming platforms of the enemy or take out radar stations, thereby clearing a path for fighter jets to carry out an offensive and prevent own systems from being jammed.
- Radar jamming and deception is a form of electronic countermeasures that intentionally sends out radio frequency signals to interfere with the operation of radar by saturating its receiver with noise or false information.
- The NGARM is being developed by Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, as the nodal agency. It is a joint effort involving DRDO labs, the IAF, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and several public and private sector enterprises.
- The missile is integrated with the SU-30 MKI aircraft.
- The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a twinjet multirole air fighter developed by Russia.
- It Has the Inertial Navigation System (INS)-Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation with Passive Homing Head (PHH) for the final attack. The PHH can detect, classify and engage targets over a wide band of frequencies.
- Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) are navigational systems capable of calculating position, either relative to some reference system/point or to absolute coordinates.
- It uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate by dead reckoning the position, the orientation, and the velocity of a moving object without the need for external references.
- It is a potent weapon for the Indian Air Force for suppression of enemy air defence effectively from large stand-off ranges. The missile can be launched from altitudes of 500 m to 15 km and speeds of 0.6 to 2 Mach.
UPSC Current Affairs: (i) RBI forecasts end to contraction by Q4 (ii) Das tries tough love with bond market|Pg 1/14
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains: GS Paper-III – Economy
Sub Theme: RBI predicts Contraction in Economy| UPSC
The newly appointed Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has recently announced the Monetary Policy Statement. It has decided to keep the policy rates unchanged and continue with the accommodative policy stance to kick start the Indian economy. The MPC has projected that the real GDP growth for the financial year 2020-21 would be negative at -9.5%. Thus, the role of the financial sector during this phase should remain on enhancing credit creation and facilitate faster economic recovery. Accordingly, the RBI has taken a number of policy measures to enhance liquidity in the economy.
The Headline CPI inflation has increased to 6.7 per cent during July-August 2020. However, the RBI expects that the present Inflation is mainly on account of supply side disruptions due to COVD-19 and hence inflation would reduce in the next quarter. Accordingly, it has decided to keep the policy rates unchanged.
- Repo: 4%
- Reverse Repo: 3.35%
- MSF: 4.25%
- Bank rate: 4.25%
Measures taken to enhance Liquidity Supply
On-tap Targeted Long-Term Repo Operations (TLTROs)
The RBI has decided to conduct on tap TLTRO with tenors of up to three years for a total amount of up to Rs 1 lakh crore. The scheme will be available up to March 31, 2021
Understanding Repo rate
- Rate at which the banks borrow mainly short-term loans from the RBI. Under Repo mechanism, the banks sell their G-Secs to the RBI with an agreement to repurchase the G-Sec at a future date and at fixed price. The rate at which the banks repurchase the G-Secs from the RBI is known as the Repo rate.
- Depending upon the maturity period of the loans, there are different types of Repos in India. These are:
- Overnight Repos: (Maturity period of 1 day)
- Term Repos: There are different types of term repos depending upon the maturity period. Some of the term repos include 7-day, 14-day, 21 day, 28-day, 56-day.
- The overnight repos are available to the Banks from the RBI from Monday to Friday. However, the term repos are available to the Banks only when the RBI notifies about the Term Repos (Usually 2-3
- days in a week). Further, the interest rate on the term repos is not same as the Repo rate. The Interest rate on the Term repos is determined through auction and hence is usually higher than the Repo rate.
What is Targeted Long Term Repo Operations (TLTRO)?
It is considered to be similar to the term repos, but with a longer maturity period of 1 year and 3 years. Through the LTRO, the RBI injects long term liquidity into the economy at a lower interest rate. This is so because the interest rate on the LTRO is fixed at the Repo rate (which is considered to be much lower than the rate of interest on the 1 year or 3-year loans).
Some of the basic features of the TLTRO include:
- Total Funds to be injected: Up to Rs 1 Lakh crores.
- Interest Rate: Repo Rate.
- Why is it called On-Tap? This facility can be availed by any bank as and when the need for liquidity arises.
- Duration: Applicable up to March 31, 2021
- Conditions: Liquidity availed by banks under the scheme has to be deployed in corporate bonds, commercial papers, and non-convertible debentures issued by entities in specific sectors. Liquidity availed under the scheme can also be used to extend bank loans to these sectors. (hence, the name "Targeted").
- Reduce rate of Interest on the long-term loans.
- The reduction in the long-term rate of interest would force the banks to reduce the rate of interest on short term loans. (The rate of interest on long term loans is usually higher than
- that on short term loans)
- Incentivize the Banks to reduce their overall lending rates and improve the monetary policy transmission.
Open Market Operations (OMOs) in State Development Loans (SDLs)
Decision: At present, SDLs are eligible collateral for Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) along with T-bills, dated government securities and oil bonds. The RBI has taken a special decision to buy SDLs issued by the State governments through the OMOs.
Rationale: Such a facility would be able to provide enhanced liquidity support at lower interest rates to the state Governments whose finances have been affected due to economic slowdown.
Understanding OMOs: OMOs are the market operations conducted by the RBI by way of sale/ purchase of G-Secs to/ from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market.
When the RBI feels that there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, RBI may buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.
Understanding SDLs: In India, the Central Government issues both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities while the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs). G-Secs carry practically no risk of default and, hence, are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments.
Round-the-Clock availability of Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS)
Present Mechanism: Presently, the RBI is operating two payment systems- Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronics Fund Transfer (NEFT). The RTGS system is used for high-value transactions wherein minimum transaction amount should be Rs 2 lakhs and above. It is currently available for customers from 7.00 am to 6.00 pm on all working days of a week (except 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month).
Announcement: In December 2019, the NEFT system was made available on a 24x7x365 basis. Now, RBI has been decided to make available even the RTGS system round the clock on all days. With this, India will be one of the very few countries globally with a 24x7x365 large value real time payment system. This facility will be made effective from December 2020.
UPSC Current Affairs: Killing love with caste pride – Article |Pg 7
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Issues, Rights Issues | Mains: GS Paper-II – Social Issues
Sub Theme: Honour Killing | Killing in the name of Caste | UPSC
Context: This article describes the brutal incident of killing of a Dalit boy for marrying a girl of upper caste, in the state of Telangana. Here, we shall discuss the issue of ‘honour killing’ from the perspective civil services exam.
- Honour killing is the act of vengeance, usually death, committed against family members who are held to have brought dishonour upon the family.3% of honour killings were linked to gotra. The remaining 97% were due to religion and other reasons.
- Honour killing violates article 14,15,19,21, 391 (f) of the constitution.
Reasons for honour killing
- Patriarchal society where any dissent to male authority can result into such killings. Ex : Seeking a divorce without consent of the husband or extended family.
- Society attach very little value to female life & view them as property which enable them to do such killing.
- Fear of losing the caste status, from which people gain many benefits, makes them commit this heinous crime.
- Cultural: Culture of honour & shame where certain activities are seen as bringing shame to the family in eyes of community. Ex : Victims of rape.
- Legal: There is no comprehensive law to prevent such crimes.‘ Right of choice in marriage’ has been declared as fundamental right only recently.
- Administrative - Lack of formal governance in rural area - The absence of the formal institutions as panchayat Smiti or other constitution bodies leads to the brutal governance of the illegal and extra-constitutionalized panchayat (Khap Panchayat).
- Political: Vote bank politics which requires appeasement of leaders with patriarchal mind-set. Ex : leaders of Khap Panchayats.
- Ideological: We are facing severe shortage of reformers after the independence, so despite modernisation such practices continues.
- Lack of awareness amongst people regarding various provisions for their rights and punishments.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 28 ‘honour killings’ in 2014, 251 in 2015, and 77 in 2016 across India.
Laws which exist to prevent such practices:
- Section 302 of IPC: Perpetrators, family members & Khap panchayats can be punished under it.
- Special Marriage Act 1954: specially enacted to prevent atrocities arising out of marriages in India.
- Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act 2006: to protect individual & constitutional rights of citizens.
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005: to protect against violence occurring within the family.
- Article 14, 15.3, 19, 21 - India has signed various international conventions like Human Rights, ICCPR, UN CEDAW
Guidelines given by the Supreme Court for Honour Killing
Supreme Court upholds choice of consenting adults to love and marriage as part of Fundamental rights.
Key guidelines of SC:
- Logistic and Protection at wedding
- ‘Safe house’ to stay during the first year of marriage at a nominal change.
- State Government to issue directions to district police Chiefs.
- To warn the police station officers to extra cautions if any instance of inter-caste or inter religious marriage comes to notice.
- The Police can propose to the district magistrate or to competent authority to invoke prohibitory order.
- Safe houses will function under supervision of the Jurisdictional District magistrate and Superintendent of Police
The 242nd Law Commission Report, sought a new law on ‘prevention of interference with the freedom of matrimonial alliances’. Following the Supreme Court ruling in 2018 in Shakti Vahini v. Union of India laying down preventive, punitive and remedial measures to stem such crimes, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all the States.
- It ordered the States to create special cells in “every district comprising the Superintendent of Police, and the District Social Welfare Officerto receive petitions/complaints of harassment of and threat to couples of inter-caste marriage”.
- The advisory stated that these special cells should create a 24-hour helpline to aid couples in distress.
Recently ‘The Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019’has been passed. More states must come up with such legislation.