Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - October 8, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology 2020

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

About Hepatitis C Virus


  • Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus and causes Hepatitis C disease which affects the liver.
  • According to WHO, “globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection and a significant number develop cirrhosis or liver cancer."
  • In 2016, it was estimated that approximately 3,99,000 people died globally from hepatitis C.

About the discovery

  • Harvey J. Alter who was studying hepatitis in patients who had received blood transfusions, found many unexplained infections.
  • Tests for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B virus infection showed that they were not the cause.
  • His team demonstrated that blood from these patients could transmit the disease to chimpanzees, and more studies showed that an unknown infectious agent was behind this.
  • The mysterious new illness was termed “non-A, non-B” hepatitis.
  • This new virus could not be isolated for several years using the traditional techniques for virus isolation.
  • Michael Houghton and his team created a collection of DNA fragments from the blood of an infected chimpanzee and thoroughly searched it.
  • They found a novel RNA virus belonging to the Flavivirus family and named it the Hepatitis C virus.

Source: Indian Express.

Nobel Prize in Physics 2020

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

Three scientists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on 6 October 2020 for advancing our understanding of black holes, the all-consuming monsters that lurk in the darkest parts of the universe. 

Background

  • Briton Roger Penrose received half of this year’s prize “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity". 
  • German Reinhard Genzel and American Andrea Ghez received the second half of the prize “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy”.

About the discovery

  • The prize celebrates “one of the most exotic objects in the universe,” black holes, which have become a staple of science fact and science fiction and where time even seems to stand still.
  • Penrose proved with mathematics that the formation of black holes was possible, based heavily on Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
  • Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist, these super-heavyweight monsters that capture everything that enters them. 
  • Penrose’s detailed his studies in 1965, but it wasn't until the 1990s that Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, each leading a group of astronomers, trained their sights on the dust-covered center of our Milky Way galaxy, a region called Sagittarius A(asterisk), where something strange was going on.
  • They both found that there was “an extremely heavy, invisible object that pulls on the jumble of stars, causing them to rush around at dizzying speeds.”
  • It was a black hole. Not just an ordinary black hole, but a supermassive black hole, 4 million times the mass of our sun.
  • Now scientists know that all galaxies have supermassive black holes.
  • In 2019, scientists got the first optical image of a black hole, and Ghez, who was not involved, praised the discovery.

Source: Indian Express.

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Kasturi Cotton

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.


Context

  • Now India’s premium Cotton would be known as ‘Kasturi Cotton’ in the world cotton trade.
  • It is the first-ever Brand and Logo for Indian Cotton on Second World Cotton Day.

About the cotton

  • The Kasturi Cotton brand will represent Whiteness, Brightness, Softness, Purity, Luster, Uniqueness and Indianness.
  • Cotton is one of the principal commercial crops of India and it provides livelihood to about 6.00 million cotton farmers.
  • India is the 2nd largest cotton producer and the largest consumer of cotton in the world.
  • India produces about 6.00 Million tons of cotton every year which is about 23% of the world cotton.
  • India produces about 51% of the total organic cotton production of the world, which demonstrates India’s effort towards sustainability.

Source: PIB.

Union Cabinet approves ratification of seven chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the ratification of seven chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
  • The Cabinet further delegated its powers to ratify chemicals under the Stockholm Convention to Union Ministers of External Affairs and Environment, Forest and Climate Change with regard to  POPs already regulated under the domestic regulations thereby streamlining the procedure.

Highlights

  • The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and environment from POPs, which are identified chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate in living organisms, adversely affect human health and have the property of long-range environmental transport .
  • Exposure to POPs can lead to cancer, damage to central and peripheral nervous systems, diseases of immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development.

Source: AIR News 

IFFCO, Prasar Bharati sign MoU to broadcast & promote new agriculture technology & innovations

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • The Union Cabinet was apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in June 2020 between the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and International Barcode of Life (iBOL), a Canadian not-for-profit corporation.
  • An official release said that ZSI and iBOL have come together to further efforts in DNA barcoding, a methodology for rapidly and accurately identifying species by sequencing a short segment of standardized gene regions and comparing individual sequences to a reference database.

Highlights

  • iBOL is a research alliance involving nations that have committed both human and financial resources to enable expansion of the global reference database, the development of informatics platforms, and the analytical protocols needed to use the reference library to assess, and describe biodiversity.
  • The MoU will enable ZSI to participate at the global-level programmes like Bioscan and Planetary Biodiversity Mission.
  • ZSI a subordinate organization under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Source: Business World.

India moving ahead on path of futuristic reforms

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Asserting that India is moving ahead on the path of futuristic reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the Cabinet's approval to 'natural gas marketing reforms' and said it will add strength to the efforts of making India a gas-based economy.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the prime minister has approved Natural Gas Marketing Reforms'.

Objective

The objective of the policy is to prescribe standard procedure to discover market price of gas to be sold in the market by gas producers, through a transparent and competitive process, permit affiliates to participate in bidding process for sale of gas and allow marketing freedom to certain Field Development Plans (FDPs) where production sharing contracts already provide pricing freedom, an official statement said.

Highlights

  • The government between 2016 and 2019 gave pricing freedom for all fields except those given to state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) on a nomination basis.
  • But, there were restrictions on marketing including a ban on affiliates of producers buying the fuel and in some cases, a state nominee being mandated to offtake the gas.
  • This restricted competition kept prices artificially low.

Source: Business Standard.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020: Reversals of Fortune

Focus: GS3.                                

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


Context

  • The clear message from previous Poverty and Shared Prosperity reports (in 2016 and 2018) was that, although important gains in reducing global poverty have been made steadily since 1998, the pace of this reduction had slowed considerably in recent years.
  • It was becoming increasingly unrealistic to expect that the goal of reducing extreme poverty to less than 3 percent would be attained at the global level by 2030 unless widespread and sustained improvement in inclusive economic growth could be attained.

Background

  • The effects of this slowdown have been apparent for some time, and increasingly have been exacerbated by the impacts of armed conflict and climate change, but these factors have now been overwhelmed by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and its associated global economic crisis.
  • Current projections suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will not merely slow global poverty reduction further but will reverse the trend in much of the world: the number of people living in extreme poverty will increase this year by as much as 115 million.
  • In the coming decade, the accumulating effects of climate change may impoverish between 68 million and 132 million people.
  • By 2030, it is expected that most of the world’s poorest people will live in situations characterized by fragility, conflict, and violence.

Highlights

  • This report examines how the COVID19 crisis, compounding the risks posed by armed conflict and climate change, is affecting poverty trends, inclusive growth, and the characteristics of the poor around the world.
  • It seeks to identify ways in which the sudden shift in poverty reduction and the anticipated impact on shared prosperity might themselves be reversed.
  • COVID-19 and its associated economic crisis are already the most powerful driver of the reversal in global poverty.
  • Current projections suggest that, in 2020, between 88 million and 115 million people could fall back into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic—returning global poverty rates to 2017 levels—with even larger numbers (up to 150 million) in 2021.
  • Though humanity has experienced major pandemics across the centuries, COVID-19 is unprecedented because it is being experienced globally and simultaneously, disrupting everything from daily work schedules and social activities to education and international trade.
  • Thus far it has infected more than 33 million people across every country in the world and led to more than one million deaths, with many more expected to come.
  • And, as the world is steadily realizing, it is the poorest people, in rich and poor countries alike, who are suffering most: from lost jobs, vulnerability to contagion because they live and work in high-risk settings, and lack of access to health care and social protection.
  • In all countries, the poorest are most likely to endure the highest incidence of the disease and suffer the highest death rates.

Source: AIR News.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt State Bank of India:
  • The origin of the State Bank of India goes back to the first decade of the nineteenth century with the establishment of the Bank of Calcutta in Calcutta in 1806.
  • Three years later the bank was re-designed as the Bank of Bengal (in 1809).
  • The Bank of Bombay (1840) and the Bank of Madras (1843) followed the Bank of Bengal. 

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. Right to Protest belongs to which Fundamental Right?
     A. Article 12
     B. Article 14
     C. Article 19
     D. Article 15

Solution: C

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