# 04 Apr 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 4th April 2021:-

A. GS 1 Related
GEOGRAPHY
1. How Asian desert dust enhances Indian summer monsoon
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Biden lifts Trump’s sanctions on international court officials
HEALTH
1. What is driving the second wave in India?
C. GS 3 Related
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Reversing a ban
ECONOMY
1. Maintaining the inflation target at 4%
F. Prelims Facts
1. Researchers foresee trends in diphtheria incidence
2. New light
3. ‘Gas firms hurt by low prices fixed by govt.’
G. Tidbits
1. Water Conservation by crop diversification
2. 5 security men killed in Sukma encounter
3. Centre praises Rajasthan’s achievements in ration card scheme
4. The big push for digital currency in China
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


1. What is driving the second wave in India?

Context:

• Second wave of the pandemic in India.

Background:

• Interestingly no surge was seen between mid-September 2020 to end-February this year despite perfect conditions for the virus to spread.
• The onset of the festival season since the pandemic peaked in mid-September in India, winter, no restrictions on movement, large gatherings and not-so-good adherence of mask wearing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions did not cause any spike in cases across the country.

Details:

• There has been a steady increase in the daily fresh COVID-19 cases. The rate of increase in cases in India during March has been faster than at any other time during the pandemic.
• The seven-day average test positivity rate has been increasing.
• The reproduction number (R0) — how many people each infected person will infect on average — has risen to above 1.5 and has been steadily increasing over the last two–three weeks.
• Large cities including Mumbai and Pune, which had recorded large infection rates during the first wave, are witnessing a surge.

Possible reasons for the surge:

• Three important factors — the virus, the host, and the environment — constitute the epidemiological triad for the surge in cases in many States.

Virus:

• New variants of concern might be in circulation, which is probably more infectious, and some can be an immune escape as well.
• There has been the introduction of other variants due to international travel in some parts of the country, which can be more infectious than the earlier strain. An imported variant (UK variant) has been identified in a few States. A double mutant variant has also been identified in at least a few States.
• However, notably variants, imported and homegrown, are have so far not been linked epidemiologically to the surge

Host:

• The host factors include waning antibodies, not following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and incomplete vaccination.

Environment:

• The environmental factors include super-spreader events and poor compliance with preventive measures. The misconception that vaccination prevents even infection might also be contributing to rising cases.
• The Health Ministry has cited the general laxity among people regarding COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, including mask wearing, and lack of containment and management strategy at the ground level as reasons for the surge in cases.

1. Maintaining the inflation target at 4%

Context:

• The Finance Ministry’s announcement that the inflation target for the five years between April 2021 and March 2026 will remain unchanged at 4%, with an upper tolerance level of 6% and a lower tolerance level of 2%.

Background:

Inflation targeting monetary policy framework:

• India had switched to an inflation target-based monetary policy framework in 2015, with the 4% target kicking in from 2016-17.

Inflation concerns:

• Moody’s Analytics had recently termed India’s inflation trends “worrisome”. It noted that the volatile food prices and rising oil prices had driven India’s consumer price index (CPI)-based inflation past the 6% tolerance threshold several times in 2020 and that core inflation trends were rising again.
• Though retail inflation has remained below 6% since December 2020, it accelerated from 4.1% in January 2021 to 5% in February.

Details:

• With inflation headwinds remaining a concern, especially with oil prices staying high, there was some speculation that the Central government, whose topmost priority now is to revive growth in the COVID-19 pandemic-battered economy, may ease up on the inflation target by a percentage point or two thus allowing the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut interest rates even if inflation was a tad higher with an aim to revive growth.
• However, the government has desisted from increasing the retail inflation target and has left the inflation target untouched.
• The set retail inflation target will drive the country’s monetary policy framework and influence its decision to raise, hold or lower interest rates.

Significance:

• The inflation targeting monetary policy framework has worked reasonably well in keeping inflation in check over the last five years. Experts have attributed the few recent instances when the upper target was breached to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 shock.
• The RBI has also previously sought a continuance of the 4% target with the flexible tolerance limits of 2%. The Central bank has asserted that accepting inflation levels beyond 6% would hurt the country’s growth prospects.
• The inflation target helps ensure consumer friendly policies given that appropriate measures would be taken to keep retail prices within acceptable levels.
• The move marks a continuance of the policy adopted by many developed countries which have adopted an inflation-rate focus as an anchor for policy formulation for interest rates rather than past fixations with metrics like the currency exchange rate or controlling money supply growth. Emerging economies have also been gradually adopting this approach.

For related information refer to the following article:

Re-evaluating inflation targeting

F. Prelims Facts

1. Researchers foresee trends in diphtheria incidence

• Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make toxin (poison). It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.
• The diphtheria toxin causes inflammation of heart muscle (myocarditis) and this can lead to death if not treated with diptheria antitoxin and proper antibiotics.
• Diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease – the toxoid vaccine elicits an immune response against the toxin which is encoded by a tox gene of the pathogen.
• The increasing diversity of the bacterium species, emergence of variant toxin genes and progression of antimicrobial resistance may lead to an increase in the incidence of diphtheria.

2. New light

• Bose–Einstein condensation (BEC)—the macroscopic ground-state accumulation of particles with integer spin (bosons) at low temperature and high density—has been observed in several physical systems, including cold atomic gases and solid-state quasiparticles.
• The optical Bose-Einstein condensate, is conceived as one large ‘super photon’ made up of many light particles.
• A new study has reported a hitherto unknown phase transition in an optical Bose-Einstein condensate called the overdamped phase. This study may be relevant for encrypted quantum communication.

3. ‘Gas firms hurt by low prices fixed by govt.’

• Rating agency ICRA has noted that the Natural gas production remains a loss-making proposition for most fields for the Indian upstream producers as government-dictated gas price remains at its lowest level since the acceptance of the Rangarajan panel recommendations on gas pricing.
• The C. Rangarajan panel was constituted to propose a gas pricing formula in India.

G. Tidbits

1. Water Conservation by crop diversification

• The Haryana state government has announced an incentive of Rs. 7000 per acre to farmers for promoting crop diversification from paddy to alternate crops such as maize, cotton, millet, pulses, vegetable, gram etc.
• This initiative would incentivize farmers to shift from the water intensive paddy cultivation towards lesser water intensive crops and would provide an impetus to water conservation attempts. The shift to other crops would also be an effective intervention to curtail the decreasing productivity of the fields owing to mono cropping.

2. 5 security men killed in Sukma encounter

• Five security personnel were killed and more than 12 injured in an encounter with Maoists in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
• The Maoist attacked the over 400 security personnel on combing operation in south Bastar. The region is said to be a Maoist stronghold.

3. Centre praises Rajasthan’s achievements in ration card scheme

• The Centre praised the achievements of Rajasthan in the implementation of the “one nation, one ration card” scheme to enable migrant workers and their families to access the benefits of the public distribution system (PDS) from anywhere.
• Rajasthan is the 12th State to successfully undertake the necessary reforms to implement “one nation, one ration card” scheme

4. The big push for digital currency in China

• China has been undertaking pilot trials of its new digital currency, with reported plans of a major roll-out by the end of the year. China is among a small group of countries that have begun pilot trials; others include Sweden, South Korea and Thailand.
• Officially titled the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), the digital RMB (or Renminbi, China’s currency) is a digital version of China’s currency.
• The DCEP can be downloaded and exchanged via an application authorised by China’s central bank.

Difference compared to e-wallets:

• Unlike the e-wallet platforms like Paytm in India, the Digital RMB does not involve a third party. This is legal tender guaranteed by the central bank, not a payment guaranteed by a third-party operator. There is no third-party transaction, and hence, no transaction fee.
• Unlike e-wallets, the digital currency does not require Internet connectivity. The payment is made through Near-field Communication (NFC) technology.
• Also, unlike non-bank payment platforms that require users to link bank accounts, this can be opened with a personal identification number.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statements is/are correct with respect to Bose–Einstein condensate?
1. It is observed at very low temperatures very close to absolute zero (-273.15 °C)
2. It is characterized by relatively higher density.
3. It is also sometimes referred to as the fifth state of matter.

Options:

1. 1 and 2 only
2. 2 and 3 only
3. 1 and 3 only
4. 1,2 and 3

Explanation:

• Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC)—the macroscopic ground-state accumulation of particles with integer spin (bosons) at low temperature and high density—has been observed in several physical systems, including cold atomic gases and solid-state quasiparticles.
• In condensed matter physics, a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) is a state of matter (also called the fifth state of matter) which is typically formed when a gas of bosons at low densities is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero (-273.15 °C).
• A Bose-Einstein condensate is a group of atoms cooled to within a hair of absolute zero. When they reach that temperature the atoms are hardly moving relative to each other; they have almost no free energy to do so. At that point, the atoms begin to clump together, and enter the same energy states.
Q2. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct with respect to Diphtheria?
1. It is caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheria.
2. It can lead to death if not treated with diptheria antitoxin and proper antibiotics.
3. It is a vaccine preventable disease.

Options:

1. 1 and 2 only
2. 2 and 3 only
3. 1 and 3 only
4. 1,2 and 3

Explanation:

• Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make toxin (poison). It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.
• The diphtheria toxin causes inflammation of heart muscle (myocarditis) and this can lead to death if not treated with diptheria antitoxin and proper antibiotics.
• Diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease – the toxoid vaccine elicits an immune response against the toxin which is encoded by a tox gene of the pathogen.
• The increasing diversity of the bacterium species, emergence of variant toxin genes and progression of antimicrobial resistance may lead to an increase in the incidence of diphtheria.
Q3. Which of the following pairs is wrongly matched?
1. Mojave desert: Africa
2. Patagonian desert: South America
3. Great Sandy: Australia
4. Taklamakan desert: Asia

Explanation:

• Mojave desert is in North America
Q4. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct with respect to the International
Criminal Court?
1. It is based in Hague, Netherlands
2. It has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes
3. The Rome Statute serves as the court’s foundational and governing document.

Options:

1. 1 and 2 only
2. 2 and 3 only
3. 1 and 3 only
4. 1,2 and 3