Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - October 29, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

The Plasma Therapy debate

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

Recently published findings on convalescent plasma therapy on Covid-19 patients have triggered a debate over its efficacy.

Plasma Therapy

  • Plasma is the liquid part of the blood.
  • Convalescent plasma, extracted from the blood of patients recovering from an infection, is a source of antibodies against the infection.
  • The therapy involves using their plasma to help others recover.
  • For Covid-19, this has been one of the treatment options.
  • The donor would have to be a documented case of Covid-19 and healthy for 28 days since the last symptoms.

Highlights

  • An ICMR study has found convalescent plasma was not associated with a reduction in progression to severe Covid-19 or all-cause mortalit
  • While the use of this therapy seemed to improve the resolution of shortness of breath and fatigue in patients with moderate Covid-19, this did not translate into a reduction in 28-day mortality or progression to severe disease.
  • Progression to severe disease or death at 28 days after enrolment occurred in 44 (19%) of the participants in the intervention arm as compared to 41 (18%) in the control arm.

Source: Indian Express.

Male govt employees entitled to child care leave as single parents

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • Union minister Jitendra Singh said male government employees who are single parents are now entitled to child care leave.
  • "Single male parent" includes employees who are unmarried or widower or divorcee and may therefore be expected to take up the responsibility of caring for a child single-handedly, he said.

Background

  • Describing it as a path-breaking and progressive reform to bring ease of living for government servants, Singh said orders regarding the decision were issued quite some time back but somehow did not get enough traction in public domain.
  • In further relaxation, the minister of state for personnel said an employee on child care leave may now leave the headquarters with the prior approval of the competent authority, according to an official statement.

About the leave

  • In addition, the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) may be availed by the employee even if he is on child care leave.
  • The child care leave can be granted at 100 per cent of leave salary for the first 365 days and 80 per cent of leave salary for the next 365 days.
  • Another welfare measure introduced in this regard is that in case of a disabled child, the condition of availing child care leave up to the age of 22 years of the child has been removed.
  • Now child care leave can be availed by a government servant for a disabled child of any age.
  • The basic purpose behind all these decisions has always been to enable a government employee to contribute to the maximum of his potential, although at the same time there will be no leniency or tolerance towards corruption or non-performance.

Source: Hindustan Times.

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Rajnath dedicates BRO road in East Sikkim to the nation

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was in Sikkim to dedicate the 19.85 kilometre alternate alignment of the national highway 310.
  • "Necessitated due to the previous alignment having seen extensive damages due to sinking and other natural hazards, the road serves as an important link to bolster defence preparedness in the Nathula Sector in particular and in whole of East Sikkim in general," said Ministry of Defence in an official statement.

Highlights

  • The BRO over the last some years has undertaken an unprecedented expansion of its capabilities through technology infusion in material, equipment and construction techniques.
  • The Atal Tunnel, DS-DBO Road, the new alignment of the National Highway 310 are examples of high quality, fast paced results delivered by the BRO towards strategic and operational preparedness.
  • The future works that the BRO is to undertake and expressed confidence that the mission of "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" will progress by leaps and bounds in the years ahead.

Source: LiveMint.

Nitin Gadkari to lay foundation stones for projects worth Rs 2,752 crore in Tripura

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stones of nine highway projects in Tripura to be built at over Rs 2,752 crore.
  • The projects will enhance socio-economic conditions of the locality.

Objective

  • The projects, on completion, will provide faster and hassle-free inter-state and international connectivity to Bangladesh, and will be a major stride towards strengthening the tourism sector of the state, the statement said.
  • The new projects will provide better connectivity, fast and safe movement of traffic to various tourist places, historical places and religious places in the entire state, it added.

Highlights

  • They are likely to generate a large number of employment and self-employment opportunities to the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower of the region. The projects will reduce travel time and maintenance cost of the vehicles and saving of fuel.
  • Implementation of the project would result in enhanced socio-economic conditions of the locality, it said adding that these will improve transport of agricultural goods and access to greater markets, thereby reducing the cost of goods and services.
  • These will also create easy and speedy access to health care and emergency services. 
  • In a nut shell, after completion of the above projects, there will be a quantum jump in the development of tourism, economic and international connectivity of this region.
  • Finally, it will give impetus to the GDP (gross domestic product) of Tripura.

Source: Hindustan Times.

SIAC ruling

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • SIAC rules in Amazon’s favour, puts Future-Reliance deal on hold.
  • This order came on a plea from global e-commerce giant Amazon.

Background

This order now restraints Future Group and Reliance Industries Limited from proceeding with a Rs 24,713-crore deal signed in August for Future Retail to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance Retail and Fashionstyle.

Highlights

  • Singapore has emerged as the preferred location for international arbitration involving Indian companies as foreign investors typically want to avoid the rigmarole of the Indian courts.
  • According to the 2019 annual report of SIAC, India was the top user of its arbitration seat with 485 cases being referred to SIAC, followed by Philippines at 122, China at 76 and the United States at 65.
  • India now has its own international arbitration centre in Mumbai.
  • But in context of arbitration, this is a recent development.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Aenigmachanna Gollum

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • ‘Aenigmachanna Gollum’ remained hidden for a hundred million years, looks like a dragon and swims like an eel. 
  • The fish was discovered in the watery underground rocks and has been named 'Gollum', after the character from the 'Lord of the Rings' fantasy novel. 

Background

  • As per the researchers, the Aenigmachanna is a Gondwanan lineage who has survived the separation of India and Africa around 120 million years ago. 
  • It belongs to a family of fish called dragon snakeheads. 

Highlights

  • The dragon snakeheads live in the subterranean aquifers and come to the surface only after heavy flooding from rain. 
  • Due to this reason, they have evaded scientists to date and it is the key reason why their behaviour and characteristics have not evolved over millions of years. 
  • Their swim bladder is short having fewer vertebrae with ribs. This family of fish has eyes, unlike other subterranean fishes.
  • They also have a reddish-brown pigmentation while other subterranean fishes are pale.
  • They are predatory fish having long dorsal fins, largemouths and shiny teeth. 
  • They do not have the suprabranchial organ to breathe air and proliferate widely.
  • Snakehead fish are freshwater species and are usually found in Asia and Africa. 

Source: The Hindu.

Newly identified tectonically active zone in Himalayas could alter earthquake study, predictions

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

  • The suture zone of the Himalayas or the Indus Suture Zone (ISZ) in the Ladakh region where Indian and Asian Plates are joined has been found to be tectonically active, as against current understanding that it is a locked zone.
  • This could have major implications in terms of earthquake study, prediction and understanding the seismic structure of the mountain chains well as its evolution.

Background

  • A group of scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) in Dehradun have found through observations and detailed mapping of geological features that the suture zone of Himalaya that was conventionally thought to be locked is tectonically active.
  • They carried out the mapping of the remote regions of Ladakh that forms the most hinterland part of the Himalaya. 

Highlights

  • The geologists observed that sedimentary beds are tilted and thrust broken, the rivers are associated with uplifted terraces, and the bedrock shows brittle deformation that occurred at much shallower depths.
  • These deformed geological features were then dated in the laboratory at Dehradun using a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) (method for carrying Luminescence dating of geological sediments) and data of seismicity and denudation rate reviewed. 
  • The combination of field and lab data suggested the region of the Indus Suture Zone (ISZ) has been neo-tectonically active since the last 78000 -- 58000 years and a recent earthquake in 2010 of low magnitude 4.0 near the village of Upshi that occurred due to a thrust rupture.
  • Himalaya was known to be made up of north dipping thrusts like the Main Central Thrust (MCT), the Main Boundary Thrust (MBT), and the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT).
  • As per the established models, all of these thrusts except MFT are locked, and overall deformation in Himalaya is being accommodated only along with the MFT. 
  • The new findings, which suggest a more remote fault at the suture zone being neo-tectonically active, could call for a serious relook into the existing evolutionary models using new techniques and a larger geological database.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about ‘India–Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE)’,:
  • The idea of I-ACE was conceived during a virtual summit on 4 June, between the Indian and Australian prime ministers, exploring innovative ways to boost circular economy in India and Australia.
  • I-ACE will focus on identification and development of innovative technology solutions by students, startups and MSMEs of both nations.
  • Circular Economy is an economy where products are designed for durability, reuse and recyclability and thus almost everything gets reused, remanufactured, and recycled into a raw material or used as a source of energy.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    A. 1 and 2 only
    B. 2 and 3 only
    C. 1 and 3 only
    D. AOTA

Solution: D

  1. Bundi is in: 

     A. Kerala
     B. Tamil Nadu
     C. Bihar
     D. Rajasthan

Solution: D

 

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