Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - October 24, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Giant cat drawing at a UNESCO World Heritage site in Peru

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


Context

Peru’s famous Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its depictions of larger-than-life animals, plants and imaginary beings, grabbed the spotlight on social media recently after the discovery of a hitherto unknown massive carving –– that of a resting cat on the slope of a steep hill.

Background

  • The discovery of the etchings, believed to be more than 2,000 years old, was announced by the South American country last week.
  • Peru’s Ministry of Culture tweeted, “In the midst of the remodelling work that is being carried out at the Natural Viewpoint, in the Pampa de Nazca, a new figurative geoglyph was identified, -corresponding to a feline-, which had been drawn on one of the slopes of this hill.”

About Nazca lines

  • Considered among the top places to visit in Peru, the Nazca Lines are a group of geoglyphs, or large designs made on the ground by creators using elements of the landscape such as stones, gravel, dirt or lumber.
  • These are believed to be the greatest known archaeological enigma, owing to their size, continuity, nature and quality.
  • The images on the ground are so big in size that the best way to get a full view of them is overflying them.
  • Drawn more than 2 millennia ago on the surface of southern Peru’s arid Pampa Colorada (“Red Plain” in Spanish), the geoglyphs feature different subjects, but mainly plants and animals.
  • The figures include pelicans (the largest ones sized around 935 feet long), Andean Condors (443 feet), monkeys (360 feet), hummingbirds (165 feet), and spiders (150 feet).
  • There are also geometric shapes, such as triangles, trapezoids and spirals, and some have been associated with astronomical functions.
  • The Lines were first discovered in 1927, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.
  • The site is around 450 km away from capital Lima southwards along the South Pan-American Highway.

Source: Indian Express.

Trial run of Hydrogen-blended CNG powered buses launched

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated Indian Oil's compact reformer plant and launched the much-awaited trial run of Delhi's buses on Hydrogen-blended CNG (HCNG) at the Rajghat Bus Depot-I of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
  • Providing clean and reliable energy supplies to 130-crore plus Indians is the topmost priority of the Government.

About HCNG

  • HCNG is a hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (CNG).
  • In Delhi, instead of physically blending hydrogen with CNG , hygrogen spiked CNG will be produced using compact reforming process patented by Indian Oil Corporation.

Benefits

  • H-CNG blends can be produced directly from CNG, bypassing the energy-intensive electrolysis process and high-pressure blending costs.
  • The flexible and robust process allows the production of H-CNG on-site, in less severe conditions, and under low pressure.
  • It provides a higher yield H-CNG mixture by up to 4% to 5% compared to CNG's input quantity.
  • The cost of H-CNG production by the above process is about 22% cheaper than conventional physical blending.

Source: Indian Express.

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ECI constitutes committee to examine issues concerning expenditure limit

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Context

  • In view of upcoming elections, the Election Commission has constituted a two-member committee to examine the issues concerning expenditure limit for a candidate considering increase in number of electors and rise in Cost Inflation Index and other factors.
  • Former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Harish Kumar, who was a Director General, Investigation, and the EC’s Secretary General and Director General, Expenditure, Umesh Sinha will be the committee members.

Background

  • The committee’s terms of reference are to assess the change in number of electors across the states or Union Territories and its bearing on expenditure, the change in Cost Inflation Index and its bearing on the pattern of expenditure incurred by the candidates in recent elections, and seeking views of the political parties and other stakeholders.
  • Also examining other factors which may have bearings on expenditure and examine any other related issue, it has been asked to submit its report within 120 days of its constitution,

Highlights

  • Considering the Covid-19 factor, the Ministry of Law and Justice on October 19 had notified an amendment in Rule 90 of Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 enhancing the existing expenditure limit by 10 per cent, with immediate effect in ongoing elections.
  • Expenditure limit for a candidate was last revised in 2014 while in respect of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it was revised on October 10, 2018.
  • In last six years, the limit was not increased despite the increase in electorate from 834 million to 910 million in 2019 to 921 million now, the EC said in a statement.
  • Further, it said that Cost Inflation Index during this period has increased from 220 to 280 in 2019 to 301 now.

Source: LiveMint.

Police Commemoration Day

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


Context

Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 every year to remember and honour the brave policemen who have laid down their lives in the line of duty.

Background

  • The day traces its history back to 21 October 1959, when twenty Indian soldiers were attacked by Chinese troops in Ladakh.
  • Due to the altercation between the troops, ten Indian policemen lost their lives and seven were imprisoned.

Highlights

  • More than a month later, on 28 November 1959, Chinese troops handed over the dead bodies of the martyred policemen.
  • Since that day, 21 October has been observed as Police Commemoration Day in honour of the martyrs.
  • In 2018, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the first-ever National Police Memorial in New Delhi on the occasion of Police Commemoration Day.
  • He saluted the police forces and their families and urged the people of the country to visit the police museum.

Source: PIB.

Cabinet approves extension of the Market Intervention Scheme for procurement of apples in J&K for 2020-21

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Context

  • Health Ministry has said that 14 States have reported reduction in prevalence of parasitic intestinal worm infection also known as Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases (STH). 
  • The Ministry said, while 9 States have shown substantial reduction in worm prevalence in the STH follow up prevalence survey. 

Background

  • These States are Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. 
  • The Ministry said, Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases is a significant public health concern mostly in low resource settings. 

Highlights

  • These are known to have detrimental effects on children’s physical growth and well being and can cause anaemia and under-nutrition.
  • Since its launch in 2015, the National Deworming Day (NDD), a flagship program of the Ministry of Health is run as a biannual single day programme implemented through the platforms of schools and anganwadis. 
  • Under the programme, Albendazole tablet, approved by World Health Organization is used for treatment of intestinal worms in children and adolescents as part of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programmes globally. 
  • The Ministry said, in the last round of deworming earlier this year in the country, 11 crore children and adolescents were administered Albendazole tablet across 25 States and Union Territories.
  • The Ministry said, to assess the exact burden of Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases in India, the government appointed the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as the nodal agency to coordinate and conduct nationwide baseline STH mapping. 
  • In collaboration with partners and government agencies, NCDC completed the baseline STH mapping across the country by the end of 2016.
  • The Ministry said, the data showed varied prevalence ranging from 12.5 per cent  in Madhya Pradesh to 85 per cent  in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Health Ministry recently initiated follow-up prevalence surveys led by NCDC and partners to evaluate the impact of the consistently implemented high coverage NDD programme. 
  • The Ministry said, so far the follow-up surveys are completed in 14 States and all 14 States have shown reduction in the follow up survey compared to the baseline prevalence survey.

Source: AIR News.

REGIONAL RAW DRUG REPOSITORY (RRDR)

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology;


Context

  • Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH Shri Shripad Yesso Naik inaugurated the Regional Raw Drug Repository (RRDR) at All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi through a virtual function.
  • This RRDR is the second in the series of repositories proposed by National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH and will be dedicated to the Trans-Ganga Plain Region.  

Background

  • There is an increased demand for the natural healing and herbal products across the globe.
  • COVID has further pushed the demand and many of the key herbs like Asvagandha, Giloi, Tulsi, Kalmegh, Mulethi are on high demand.

Highlights

  • With the increasing demand for the herbal medicines, the NMPB which is already engaged in the development of a mechanism to ensure supply of quality raw material to the AYUSH industry as well as consumers expedited the process of establishing the Raw Drug Repositories.
  • NMPB is already involved in the process of developing policies in this direction and for attaining speedy development in the areas of making sustainable availability of authentic raw material of medicinal plants for the AYUSH industries. 
  • In order to document the diversity in the genetics and chemistry of medicinal plants, eight RRDR and one NRDR have been proposed by Ministry of AYUSH. Out of them, three Regional Raw Drug Repositories are ready.
  • RRDR for Trans- Ganga Plain Region covers four states -Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Punjab. This region has a huge potential for medicinal raw materials.
  • NMPB also released a protocol titled “Standard protocol for Quality assessment of Raw Medicinal Plants Material on the basis of Rasa in collaboration with All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi and National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur.

Source: PIB.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX-INDUSTRIAL WORKERS (CPI-IW)

Focus: GS3.                                 

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context

Labour Bureau released the new series of Consumer Price Index for Industrial Worker (CPI-IW) with base year 2016, being compiled and maintained by Labour Bureau, an attached office of Ministry of Labour& Employment.  The new series of CPI(IW) with base 2016=100 will replace the existing series with base2001=100.

Background

  • Earlier to this revision, the series were also revised from the year 1944 to 1949;1949 to 1960; 1960 to 1982 and 1982 to 2001 since inception of Labour Bureau. 
  • In this regard, Union Labour Minister said that the revision of CPI-IW with new base covering representing latest consumption pattern of the target population will prove to be in the interest of workers in times to come.

Highlights

  • The Report on “New Series of Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (Base 2016=100)” is an important publication meant to give insights into the concepts, definitions and methodology related to the new series of CPI-IW with 2016 as base year.
  • This will serve as a useful reference book for researchers, academicians, scholars and all other stakeholders of CPI-IW.
  • As per the recommendations of International Labour Organisation (ILO), Index Review Committee (IRC) and National Statistical Commission (NSC), the base year of price index numbers should be revised at frequent intervals generally not exceeding 10 years to reflect the changes that take place in the consumption pattern of consumers.
  • The CPI-IW is compiled as per international best practices & guidelines of ILO.
  • The Index is compiled for 88 centres and All India. The All India index for the month of September, 2020 stands at the level of 118 and linking factor for the conversion of new series index to previous series on base 2001=100 is 2.88.
  • The CPI-IW (2016=100) series replaces the CPI-IW (2001=100) series. The new series is more representative in character and reflects the latest consumption pattern of the industrial workers.

Source: PIB.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about Market Intervention Price Scheme:
  • Market Intervention Price Scheme is to protect the growers of the horticultural/agricultural commodities from making distress sale in the event of bumper crop
  • Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices is the implementing agency

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

     A. 1 only
     B. 2 only
     C. Both 1 and 2
     D. NOTA

Solution: A

  1.  Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculates the price of

     A. Services only
     B. Goods only
     C. Both goods and services
     D. None of the above

Solution: C

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