20 June 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 20th June 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. A Cold War relic that’s seeking a new purpose
2. Doval, Pak. NSA to attend SCO meet in Dushanbe next week
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Are your staple rice and wheat losing their nutrients?
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. The debate around gain-of-function research
HEALTH
1. ‘Delta plus’ and an emerging public health threat
F. Prelims Facts
1. Ebola outbreak in Guinea is over: WHO
2. NGT closes proceedings against Mekedatu dam project
3. HC directs NHRC to examine complaints of Bengal violence
4. Abuzz with cicadas
G. Tidbits
1. Rajasthan women vow to nurture ‘green family’
2. ‘Digital surge not to unduly raise emissions’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

2. Doval, Pak. NSA to attend SCO meet in Dushanbe next week

Context:

  • The scheduled Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting, of the “Secretaries of the Security Council” in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Details:

  • The participation of the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan is expected in the meeting. The SCO meeting comes in the light of India and Pakistan taking a series of decisions to defuse tensions between the two neighbours aided by back-channel dialogue.
    • Example- The announcement of a ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control.
  • The presence of senior security officials from India and China is also of significance, given the continuing standoff at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh between India and China.
  • The meeting will set the course for the annual “Regional Anti-Terror Structure” mechanism joint exercises by SCO member troops, to be held in Pakistan in 2021.
  • The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism

For more information on SCO:

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

Category: HEALTH

1. ‘Delta plus’ and an emerging public health threat

Context:

  • Concerns around the world and in India about ‘Delta plus’ variant of the SARS- CoV-2

Background:

Delta plus variant:

  • Formally known as 1 or B.1.617.2.1, the Delta plus is an emerging form of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2).
  • It has an additional mutation called K417N, which has previously been identified in the Beta variant and the Gamma variant.
    • This mutation in the virus’s spike protein facilitates entry into human host cells.
      • The spike protein, an important component of the coronavirus, stimulates the virus’s entrance into human cells and causes infection.
  • It is currently a “variant of interest”, and hasn’t been classified as a “variant of concern” yet in the World Health Organization’s list.
  • Research is on to understand its transmissibility, virulence.

Concerns:

High number of mutations:

  • The Delta variant has a number of mutations that have allowed it to dominate in several countries, thus posing new challenges to the management of the pandemic.

High infectiveness:

  • The K417N mutation found in the Beta variant and the Gamma variant has been characterised as being highly infectious and thus there are the concerns of a new wave associated with this variant.
    • In the light of a recent spike in positivity rate in some districts of Maharashtra and the increase in the delta plus variants recorded from these districts experts have warned that Delta plus variant might be the reason behind a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact of the vaccines on the new variant:

  • Given the fact that the delta plus variant has significant differences compared to the strain that has been used by pharma companies to design vaccines, there are doubts being expressed on whether the existing vaccines would be effective against the delta plus variant.
  • Studies to determine the potency of Covishield and Covaxin against the Delta variant have indicated that while antibodies continued to be produced against the variant, they were fewer antibodies produced than those produced against the strain used by companies to prepare their vaccines.

Render monoclonal antibody treatment ineffective:

  • A major concern with the AY.1 is the presence of the K417N mutation. Previous studies have associated the mutation with resistance to the newly developed monoclonal antibody treatment drug, Casirivimab and Imdevimab.
  • The mutation presumably allows the new variant to “escape” antibodies in the monoclonal antibody treatment regimes.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Ebola outbreak in Guinea is over: WHO

Ebola:

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a rare but severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • It affects humans and nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees.
  • It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts.
  • Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission humans through contact with bodily fluids such as blood.
  • The 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa was the largest Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976. The outbreak started in Guinea and then moved across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

  • The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%.
  • Vaccines to protect against Ebola have been developed and have been used to help control the spread of Ebola outbreaks.

Context:

  • The World Health Organization officially announced the end of Guinea’s second Ebola outbreak.

2. NGT closes proceedings against Mekedatu dam project

Mekedatu dam project:

  • The Mekedatu dam project is envisaged on the Cauvery river.
    • Mekedatu is a deep gorge situated at the confluence of the rivers Cauvery and its tributary Arkavathi.
  • The project aims to build a reservoir across Cauvery at Mekedatu which will help store and supply water for drinking purposes for the Bengaluru city while also proposing to develop around 400 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric power.

Context:

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has closed proceedings against the Mekedatu dam project based on allegations of violations of environmental norms in the construction of the dam.

3. HC directs NHRC to examine complaints of Bengal violence

NHRC:

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a statutory public body under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • The Protection of Human Rights Act mandates the NHRC to perform the following:
    • Proactively or reactively inquire into violations of human rights by government of India or negligence of such violation by a public servant
    • The protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation
  • The NHRC consists of the Chairman and Five members (excluding the ex-officio members)
    • The Chairpersons of National Commissions viz., National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members of NHRC.
  • The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
    • The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
    • The Home Minister
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha
    • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha
    • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha

Context:

  • The Calcutta High Court has directed the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to constitute a committee to examine complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal.

4. Abuzz with cicadas

Cicadas:

  • Periodical cicadas have a 13- or 17-year life cycle.
  • These cicadas spend most of their lives underground. They grow burrowed in the ground by feeding on root xylem for 13 or 17 years. During this time, they complete their developmental stages entirely underground. These developed nymphs emerge from the ground by making holes and then transform into adults, reproduce and die.
  • The climate warming seems to be having an impact on their periodic emergence from the ground. With climate warming, we are seeing more four-year early emergences in larger numbers.
  • There are three species of cicadas found in the Indian subcontinent — Chremistica mixta (found in Sri Lanka), C. seminiger (found in the Nilgiri hills) and C. ribhoi (discovered in Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya).

Context:

  • Cicadas have emerged across eastern parts of the United States.

G. Tidbits

1. Rajasthan women vow to nurture ‘green family’

  • As part of the ‘World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought’ celebrations, women volunteers in 33 panchayats of Rajasthan planted 5,100 saplings as part of Harit Marubhumi (green desert land) drive.
  • They also took a pledge to treat the plants as “green members” of their families and owned up the responsibility of keeping the plants safe until they grow into trees, shrubs and perennial herbs.
  • The campaign apart from being an attempt at land restoration and conservation, helps highlight the crucial interconnection between humanity and nature, which in turn helps generate environmental sensitivity and empowerment.
  • The campaign was guided by Shyam Sunder Jyani, the recipient of 2021’s Land for Life Award of the UN.
    • The award was given by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in recognition of his contribution to promote “familial forestry”,e, relating the tree with the family.

2. ‘Digital surge not to unduly raise emissions’

  • Information technology-related electricity demand is expected to increase by almost 50% by 2030.
  • The decarbonizing of the electric system and shift towards renewable energy sources will help mitigate the increase in subsequent CO2 emissions.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Total Fertility Rate is:
  1. the total number of children born in a country in a given year divided by its population in that year.
  2. the average number of children expected to be born per woman during her entire span of reproductive period.
  3. the average number of children each woman needs to have to maintain current population levels.
  4. the number of live births per 1000 persons in a population in a given year.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • The total fertility rate of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime she was to live from birth until the end of her reproductive life.
Q2. Black money is generated in which of the following ways?
  1. Tax evasion
  2. Tax avoidance
  3. Smuggling
  4. Hawala
  5. Tax planning

Choose the correct option:

  1. 1, 3, 4 and 5 only
  2. 1, 3 and 4 only
  3. 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Tax evasion, tax avoidance, smuggling and hawala transactions lead to generation of black money.
    • Tax evasion is where an entity/ a person wilfully does not pay taxes that are due to the government.
    • Tax avoidance is where an entity takes advantage of the existing loopholes in the system and avoids paying taxes. This is not illegal.
    • Hawala is an informal method of transferring money without any physical money actually moving. It is described as a “money transfer without money movement
  • Tax Planning involves ensuring savings on taxes while simultaneously conforming to the legal obligations and requirements of the tax laws hence it does not amount to generation of black money.
Q3. Which of the statement/s with respect to the Convention on Mutual Administrative 
Assistance in Tax Matters is/are correct?
  1. It was developed jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe.
  2. This Convention deals with issues such as exchange of information, assistance in the collection of taxes and tax dispute resolution.
  3. All the BRICS countries are signatories to the convention.

Options:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. 2 and 3 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters is a convention to facilitate the entering into bilateral tax information exchange agreementsbetween state parties. The Convention was developed by the OECD and the Council of Europe.
  • This Convention deals with administrative tax issues, such as exchange of information, assistance in the collection of taxes and dispute resolution.
  • All the BRICS countries are signatories to the convention.
Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Article 370 was a part of the Constitution at the time of its commencement on January 26, 1950.
  2. The Gupkar Alliance is a grouping comprising various political parties and civil society organizations.
  3. The first Gupkar declaration was signed before the abrogation of Article 370.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • Articles 370 and 371 were part of the Constitution at the time of its commencement on January 26, 1950
  • The Gupkar alliance is an alliance of seven political parties in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • A day before the revocation of Article 370, the J&K parties had joined hands on August 4 and signed the “Gupkar Declaration” and vowed to protect J&K’s special status
Q5. The term “sixth mass extinction/sixth extinction” is often mentioned in the news in the 
context of the discussion of:
  1. Widespread monoculture practices in agriculture and large-scale commercial farming with indiscriminate use of chemicals in many parts of the world that may result in the loss of good native ecosystems.
  2. Fears of a possible collision of a meteorite with the Earth in the near future in the manner it happened 65 million years ago that caused the mass extinction of many species including those of dinosaurs. .
  3. Large scale cultivation of genetically modified crops in many parts of the world and promoting their cultivation in other parts of the world which may cause the disappearance of good native crop plants and the loss of food biodiversity.
  4. Mankind’s over-exploitation/misuse of natural resources, fragmentation/loss of natural habitats, destruction of ecosystems, pollution and global climate change.
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthropocene) as a result of human activity.
  • Mankind’s over-exploitation/misuse of natural resources, fragmentation/loss of natural habitats, destruction of ecosystems, pollution and global climate change are said to be contributing to this extinction.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. What do you understand by gain-of-function research? Discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with such research. (10 Marks, 150 Words)[GS-3,Science and Technology]
  2. Throwing light on the origins of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), examine if NATO should reinvent itself in the 21st century to meet the new age challenges. (15 Marks, 250 Words)[GS-2, International Relations]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 20th June 2021:- Download PDF Here

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