06 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- PTS Announcement
- DNS Quiz
- How Australia-China ties hit a new low - Page 09
- Challenges in achieving herd immunity through vaccination - Page 11 - (Social Issues)
- Keeping secrets in a quantum world and going beyond - Page 11
- OIC - Islamic multilateralism with internal fissures - Page 13
- The honey industry and its bittersweet reality - Page 12
UPSC Current Affairs: How Australia-China ties hit a new low | Page 9
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations | Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations
Sub Theme: Australia’s dependence on China | China- Australia Trade Dispute | UPSC
- “Repugnant,” was how Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week described a tweet by Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, who shared a doctored image showing an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.
Australia’s dependence on China
- For Australia, a close American ally, the emergence of China as its biggest trading partner has necessitated a delicate balancing act between trade and security.
- The trade dependence on China has grown rapidly, with Beijing accounting for as much as 39% of exports, mainly driven by natural resources such as iron ore, and 27% of imports, in 2019-20, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- China’s share of total trade has only grown this year, but that hasn’t stopped relations from drifting to the brink.
When did troubles begin?
- 2018 Australian actions
- Cracks began to show from 2018, when Australia blacklisted Huawei and ZTE from being involved in the rollout of its 5G networks.
- That same year, Australia passed a new foreign interference law that was widely being seen as aimed at China, with officials in Canberra pointing the finger at increasingly widespread Chinese influence operations primarily targeting the Chinese-Australian community, a claim dismissed by Beijing and its State media as hype tinged with racism.
- Covid 19 call for inquiry
- The cracks widened into a gaping rift this year when Australia in April called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and criticised both China and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak, a move that enraged China and brought an increasingly troubled relationship into open discord.
- Trade dispute
- Beijing retaliated with a slew of punitive economic measures, banning meat imports from four Australian plants and imposing an 80.5% tariff on barley, a major Australian export, in May.
- This broadened into a wider trading dispute, with Australia initiating its own anti-dumping investigations into Chinese steel and preventing Chinese company Mengniu Dairy from acquiring Australia-based Lion Dairy & Drinks, which owns some of the country’s most well-known brands.
- China then effectively banned Australian coal imports, leaving ships carrying millions of tonnes of coal stranded at Chinese ports for months awaiting clearance, and in November imposed tariffs of 107.1% to 212.1% on Australian wine labels, which have looked at China as an increasingly important market.
- China and Australia being among the 15 countries that signed the landmark Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in November mattered little to declining ties, which took another turn for the worse that same month after a statement from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. — dubbed the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — expressing concern over developments in Hong Kong. “No matter if they have five eyes or 10 eyes, if they dare to harm China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, they should beware of their eyes being poked and blinded,” thundered the same “wolf-warrior” spokesperson, Mr. Zhao.
UPSC Current Affairs:Challenges in achieving herd immunity through vaccination | Page 11
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: | Herd Immunity | Challenges in achieving herd immunity | Uneven Transmission | UPSC
On December 1, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the government has never spoken about vaccinating the entire country against COVID-19. Adding to that, Director-General of ICMR Dr. Balram Bhargava said: “If we’re able to vaccinate a critical mass of people and break virus transmission, then we may not have to vaccinate the entire population.
What is Herd Immunity?
Herd immunity (or community immunity) occurs when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness), making the spread of this disease from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and the immunocompromised) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.
Vaccines prevent many dangerous and deadly diseases. In the United States, smallpox and polio have both been stamped out because of vaccination. However, there are certain groups of people who cannot get vaccinated and are vulnerable to disease: babies, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people, such as those receiving chemotherapy or organ transplants. For example, the earliest a baby can receive their first pertussis or whooping cough vaccine is at two months, and the earliest a child can receive their first measles vaccine is at one year, making them vulnerable to these diseases.
Herd immunity depends on the contagiousness of the disease. Diseases that spread easily, such as measles, require a higher number of immune individuals in a community to reach herd immunity. Herd immunity protects the most vulnerable members of our population. If enough people are vaccinated against dangerous diseases, those who are susceptible and cannot get vaccinated are protected because the germ will not be able to “find” those susceptible individuals.
But the government’s idea of vaccinating a “critical mass of people” for the purpose of breaking the virus transmission chain is riddled with challenges.
- For instance, the levels of immunisation needed for herd immunity are determined by how the virus spreads in the population, and makes the assumption that spread is homogenous. But SARS-CoV-2 virus spread exhibits a high level of uneven transmission. This is the reason why there have been a number of super-spreading events where some infected individuals spread the virus to very a large number of people while most infected individuals transmit the virus only to a few or none.
- Considering that two doses of the vaccine are needed for full protection and increased vaccine hesitancy particularly as the vaccine development and testing are seen to be rushed, achieving herd immunity of 70% to break the chain would be challenging. According to Dr. Kang, it was only in January this year that India achieved 90% coverage of all vaccines to be given in infancy.
- If there is a drop in vaccine coverage in children beyond their first year of life in the immunisation programme, it becomes particularly difficult in the case of SARS-CoV-2.
- Considering that the government has already listed out the high-priority groups that will receive the vaccine, the issue of choosing other sections of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity will be ethically challenging.
- Objective, transparent processes for making priority-setting decisions are extremely important to maintain trust in the vaccination plans.
UPSC Current Affairs: Keeping secrets in a quantum world and going beyond | Page – 11
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: | Post Quantum Cryptography | | UPSC
A quantum computer is a model of how to build a computer. The idea is that quantum computers can use certain phenomena from quantum mechanics, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. The basic principle behind quantum computation is that quantum properties can be used to represent data and perform operations on it. A theoretical model is the quantum Turing machine, also known as the universal quantum computer.
The idea of quantum computing is still very new. Experiments have been done. In these, a very small number of operations were done on qubits (quantum bit). Both practical and theoretical research continues with interest, and many national government and military funding agencies support quantum computing research to develop quantum computers for both civilian and military purposes, such as cryptanalysis.
Today's computers, called "classical" computers, store information in binary; each bit is either on or off. Quantum computation use qubits, which, in addition to being possibly on or off, can be both on and off, which is a way of describing superposition, until a measurement is made. The state of a piece of data on a normal computer is known with certainty, but quantum computation uses probabilities. Only very simple quantum computers have been built, although larger designs have been invented. Quantum computation uses a special type of physics, quantum physics.
If large-scale quantum computers can be built, they will be able to solve some problems much more quickly than any computer that exists today (such as Shor's algorithm). Quantum computers are different from other computers such as DNA computers and traditional computers based on transistors. Some computing architectures such as optical computers may use classical superposition of electromagnetic waves. Without quantum mechanical resources such as entanglement, people think that an exponential advantage over classical computers is not possible. Quantum computers cannot perform functions that are not theoretically computable by classical computers, in other words they do not alter the Church-Turing thesis. They would, however, be able to do many things much more quickly and efficiently.
UPSC Current Affairs: OIC - Islamic multilateralism with internal fissures | Page - 13
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations | Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations
Sub Theme: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation | Problems within OIC Member States | UPSC
This article discusses about the backdrop to the birth of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) especially in the aftermath of attack on Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in August 1969. OIC was established through Rabat Summit which took place in Morocco in September 1969. OIC as an organisation, routinely takes up vexing problems faced by Muslims like the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, Kashmir, the conflict in Yemen, Palestine issue etc. Despite projecting itself as a body for transnational Islamic cooperation highlighting complex issues about Muslims, divisions among member states of OIC runs deep.
Backdrop to the formation of OIC
- The idea of OIC was born in 1969 September in the backdrop of a series of historic developments in the Arab world, beginning with the Six-Day War of 1967 that led to the shocking defeat of the frontline Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
- The war also led to the loss of East Jerusalem, which hosts the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the three holiest shrines in Islam after Mecca and Medina.
- Islamic countries began brainstorming about the Palestine cause and the need to protect the holy shrines that fell in the occupied territories.
- Public outrage triggered the first conference of Islamic governments, which was held in Rabat, Morocco, on September 22-25, 1969, where they resolved to protect the Palestinian territories, and condemned the arson attack.
- The Rabat conference had two criteria of membership: the countries with Muslim majority and those with a Muslim head of state could be considered for membership of the collective that would eventually become the OIC.
Formation of OIC
- ICFM Meeting - After the Rabat Summit, in 1970 the first ever meeting of Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister (ICFM) was held in Jeddah which decided to establish a permanent secretariat in Jeddah headed by the organization’s secretary general.
- Yousef Ahmed Al-Othaimeen is the 11th Secretary General who assumed the office in November 2016.
- The OIC’s mission statement bills it as “the collective voice of the Muslim world” that works to “protect the interests of the Muslim world”.
- The first OIC Charter was adopted by the 3rd ICFM Session held in 1972. The Charter laid down the objectives and principles of the organization and fundamental purposes to strengthen the solidarity and cooperation among the Member States.
The membership of OIC
- It has grown from its founding members of 30 to 57 states. The majority of its member states are Muslim-majority countries, while others have significant Muslim populations, including several African and South American countries.
- The 22 members of the Arab League are also part of the OIC, the organisation has several significant non-Arab member states, including Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
- Five Observer Members - Bosnia and Herzegovina Central African Republic, Russia, Thailand AND Turkish Cypriot State.
OIC Addressing Challenges of 21st Century
- The present Charter of the OIC was adopted by the Eleventh Islamic Summit held in Dakar on 13-14 March 2008 to become the pillar of the OIC future Islamic action in line with the requirements of the 21st century.
- The Charter was amended to keep pace with the developments that have unraveled across the world.
- To address challenges in the 21st Century, the Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit held in Makkah in December 2005, laid down the blue print called the Ten-Year Program of Action. It successfully concluded with the close of 2015.
- A successor programme for the next decade (2016-2025) has since then been adopted.
- The new programme OIC-2025 is anchored in the provisions of the OIC Charter and focuses on 18 priority areas with 107 goals.
- The priority areas include issues of
- Peace and Security,
- Palestine and Al-Quds,
- Poverty Alleviation,
- Investment and Finance,
- Food Security,
- Science and Technology,
- Climate Change and Sustainability,
- Culture and Interfaith Harmony,
- Empowerment of Women,
- Joint Islamic Humanitarian Action,
- Human Rights and
- Good Governance, among others.
- OIC’s key bodies:
- The Islamic Summit
- The Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM)
- The General Secretariat (Jeddah – Saudi Arabia)
- The Al-Quds Committee and
- Three permanent committees concerned with science and technology, economy and trade, and information and culture.
- There are also specialized organs under the banner of the OIC including
- The Islamic Development Bank
- The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
- As well as subsidiary and affiliate organs that play a vital role in boosting cooperation in various fields among the OIC member states.
Divisions within members of OIC
- Malaysia not supporting Pakistan in 1965 war with India
- Gaddafi of Libya was opposed by Shah of Iran as Mr. Gaddafi was considered as an US ally.
- Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had personal problems with Shah of Iran as Iran reached out to Indira Gandhi around this time for oil trade.
- Islamic Revolution of Iran (January 1978) changes equations among key member states including Saudi Arabia and Iran.
- Eight long years of Iraq-Iran War further destablised the OIC as Iraq was supported by Saudi Arabia against Iran.
- Soviet troops in Afghanistan gave the members a unified front but Iran-Saudi sectarian and geopolitical gap could not be bridged.
- As the group remained divided over its two powerful members, Pakistan brought up the Kashmir issue repeatedly.
- Problems between Qatar and Saudi Arabia as Qatar left OPEC.
- Saudi’s conflict with Yemen and recent war between the two nations.
Problems faced by OIC Members
- Muslim states are not in a position to put pressure on the US to rein in Israel especially on the Palestine political landscape.
- OIC are only in a position to offer comforting words without actually contributing on the ground.
- Muslim governments have increasingly found themselves out of step with the Palestinian independence movement as power has swung in the Occupied Territories from Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
UPSC Current Affairs: The honey industry and its bittersweet reality | Page – 12
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science; Regulation | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology | GS II – Regulatory Bodies
Sub Theme: Honey Industry | Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Test | Laws against Food Adulteration | UPSC
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) last week released results of an investigation it had conducted into the quality of honey being produced in India. It reported that products by many popular brands were not honey, and, in fact, had been spiked with added sugar. Therefore, they ought not to be branded and sold as honey. The CSE also showed that adulteration technology had become sophisticated and there were commercial products available which are designed to cheat the tests that Indian food testing laboratories conduct to ascertain the purity of honey.
There is no trick or tip one can try at home to check if the honey is adulterated or not. Only the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Test would reveal if the honey is adulterated. However, NMR test is not required by Indian law for honey that is being marketed locally but is needed for export.
What is tested in honey lab tests?
Laboratory tests determines the following:
- Acceptable ratios of sugars - fructose, glucose and sucrose.
- Tolerance limit of ‘ash’ content and HMF (hydroxyl methyl furfural), which forms when honey is heated. HMF is actually toxic for bees.
- If sugar from corn, sugarcane or rice was used to adulterate honey.
One must try to purchase honey from local producer or bee farm that harvests honey. Tribals, NGOs and other bee conservators will be encouraged. Tribals of Sunderbans are creating livelihood by offering pure honey through brand Bonphool.
Benefits of honey
- Sweeter – Honey is primarily a complex of the fructose, glucose and sucrose sugars. It has a relatively high fructose content, which is why it is sweeter than commercial sugar, which is heavier on sucrose.
- Easily digestible – Fructose also breaks down easily, compared to sucrose. So honey is digested more easily than sucrose-heavy sugars.
- Medicinal value – The enzymes that bees use to make honey out of plant nectar render it rich in antioxidants, amino acids and other products that give honey its medicinal properties. This is why honey is part of traditional medicine and has been promoted as an immune system stimulant, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The addition of artificial sugar syrups reduces the concentration of these elements per gram of honey.
- Honey is power-packed with minerals and vitamins. Honey contains –
- minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium.
- vitamins like B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.
- These nutrients help in treating diabetes mellitus, heal wounds and clearing blocked channels in the body.
However, honey spikes blood sugar levels the same way commercial sugar does. Therefore, responsibly sourced honey poses similar risks to diabetics as ordinary sugar.However, the addition of sugar and its increased consumption by people for health benefits can give rise to obesity, increased sugar levels for diabetics and other side effects of high sugar consumption.
The adulteration of honey with added sugar is a global problem. India’s food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in July published a new set of regulations — ‘Revised Standards of Honey’. The regulations listed tolerable limits of ‘impurities’ to earn the right to market the product as honey.
LAWS AGAINST FOOD ADULTERATION IN INDIA
Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act, 2006)– Government enacted the FSS Act, which repealed all other laws governing food quality in India at that time (including Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954). The act empowered the central government to frame rules under the act to deal with several aspects with respect to the regulation of food safety.
- Act established the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India(FSSAI) to supervises and regulate food safety and standards.
- The Act empowers the State Government to appoint a Commissioner of Food Safety for the State for effective implementation of the provisions at the State level.
- FSSAI has set up an online platform named DART (Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test) for checking the quality of various food articles like milk, dairy products, oils, grains, fruits, vegetables, sugar, beverages, etc.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860 - According to Section 272 and 273, food or drink adulteration or sale of such food or drink is an offense punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine or both.
- Consumer Protection Act, 2019 - The Act provides for punishment by a competent court for the manufacture or sale of adulterant/spurious goods.