22 Mar 2020: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

22 March 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India, France conduct joint patrols from Reunion Island
HEALTH
1. No community transmission of coronavirus, says Centre
C. GS 3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Mass nesting of olive ridleys begins at Rushikulya
ECONOMY
1. Cabinet okays 48,000-cr. plan for electronics manufacturing
2. Govt. approval for bulk drug parks
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. A step closer to developing a potent drug against novel coronavirus
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
HEALTH
1. When will a COVID-19 vaccine be ready?
ECONOMY
1. Why has the rupee fallen against the dollar?
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. Ayush Wellness Centre to come under NAM
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. A step closer to developing a potent drug against novel coronavirus

Context:

  • Development of inhibitors for the novel coronavirus.

Background:

  • Main virus protease is an enzyme that processes proteins critical to virus development.
  • Main virus protease is one of the best-characterized drug targets among coronaviruses. An antiviral that blocks this virus protease enzyme effectively prevents the virus from replicating.

Details:

  • A team of researchers has successfully produced the crystal structure of the main protease of the novel coronavirus.
  • Using the data, the researchers were able to redesign an existing inhibitor developed for other coronaviruses, to develop a potent inhibitor (antiviral drug) that can effectively block the protease enzyme and neutralize the novel coronavirus.

Significance:

  • The study provides a useful framework for the development of drugs to combat the novel coronavirus.
  • The inhibitor against the main protease targets a specific region of the enzyme. And any antiviral that targets this region of the enzyme will be specific to the virus and will not be toxic to human cells.

 

Category: ECONOMY

1. Why has the rupee fallen against the dollar?

Context

  • The Indian rupee fell sharply against the U.S. dollar to a record closing low of 75.20 as deepening concerns about the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic sent global investors hurrying to dump most assets, especially emerging market holdings, and opt for cash and the relative safety of the greenback.
  • The rupee has now depreciated by more than 5.3% in 2020, with the bulk of its losses, a 4.1% slide, having occurred in March.

Why is the Indian currency weakening?

  • As it happened in 2008 during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the widespread economic uncertainty triggered by the latest COVID-19 outbreak has forced most investors and businesses across the world to seek to conserve that most crucial asset during times of crisis: cash and more specifically the U.S. dollar.
    • In 2008, the dollar strengthened about 22% against the Euro as enterprises, especially in the world’s largest economy, hoarded the U.S. currency.
  • Since the start of March 2020, overseas investors have dumped Indian equities and debt on a scale not seen since the taper tantrum of 2013.
    • As on March 20, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) had sold a net ₹95,485 crores, or more than $12 billion, of shares and bonds.
    • This outflow has coincided with the sharp fall in the equity market’s key gauge, the 30-stock S&P BSE Sensex, which has slumped 22% so far in March.
  • The depreciation is even more worrisome as the month of March is typically good for the Indian rupee as remittances, from both individuals and companies tend to buoy the exchange rate.

What else is contributing to the fall?

  • The rupee’s decline in March has been part of a broad trend as most currencies across the globe have weakened against their U.S. counterpart. The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, has gained almost 4% so far this month.
    • The six currencies are the euro, Swiss Franc, Japanese Yen, Canadian dollar, British pound, and Swedish Krona.
  • The risk aversion as a result of the pandemic triggered by the global outbreak of COVID-19 has been so intense that it has not spared most perceived safe havens including U.S. Treasuries (government bonds) and significantly even gold.
    • The yellow metal too has been sold by investors looking to hold the most liquid and most fungible of all assets — the U.S. dollar.
  • The U.S. economy may face recession and possibly head for massive unemployment featuring depression — if more States join California in enforcing severe movement curbs such as statewide “stay-in-place” order to contain the spread of the viral pandemic —the dollar too could become a risky holding.

Where does the rupee go from here?

  • There are signs of the global economy heading into a recession. This may further haunt the rupee.
  • Add to it the fact that India’s own domestic economy has been struggling to reverse an extended slowdown — with both private consumption and investment by businesses substantially stuck — and it is hard to see the rupee improving appreciably in the short-term.
  • The RBI is also likely to cut interest rates in the very near future to support the sagging economy at this juncture, a move that could potentially again add to the downward pressure on the rupee.

Balancing factors

  • India’s foreign exchange reserves are still at a fairly robust level and as on March 13 amounted to a total of almost $482 billion.
    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has stepped in every now and then, both to smooth volatility in the foreign exchange market and to ensure that a sudden shortage of dollar supply does not exacerbate the weakening trend in the rupee.
  • Oil prices, which have fallen due to concerns of a slump in global economic activity, may act as a mild buffer for the rupee.
    • Since India is a large oil-importing nation, lower prices mean a narrower current account deficit for the country.
    • With neither Saudi Arabia nor Russia appearing to be in any hurry to de-escalate their price war, and energy demand likely to remain depressed in the foreseeable future on account of the global economic downturn, the oil may remain one source of respite for the rupee.

Conclusion

  • The outlook on the rupee will be precarious for the next few days. If there’s meaningful coordinated action from global central banks and governments, some calm could return to the markets.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. Ayush Wellness Centre to come under NAM

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the inclusion of the AYUSH Health and Wellness Centre (AYUSH HWC) component of Ayushman Bharat in the National AYUSH Mission (NAM).
  • The move is aimed at establishing a holistic wellness model based on AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-rigpa, and Homeopathy) principles and practices focusing on preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative healthcare by integration with the existing public health care system.
    • This will help empower masses for ‘self-care’ to reduce the disease burden and out of pocket expenditure and provide informed choices to the public.
  • This is in line with the vision of the National Health Policy, 2017 which had advocated mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH systems within a pluralistic system of Integrative healthcare.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
  1. Olive Ridley turtles are endemic to the Indian Ocean region.
  2. Olive Ridley turtles are the only recorded species of turtles exhibiting the behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed arribadas.
  3. Olive Ridley turtles are listed as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List.

Options:

a. 1 and 2
b. 3 only
c. None of the above
d. 1 only

See
Answer
Q2.  Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
  1. Reunion Island lies to the east of Madagascar Island.
  2. The closest country to Reunion Island is Mauritius.
  3. Reunion is the only island under French control in the Indian Ocean region.

Options:

a. 1 only
b. 1 and 2 only
c. 2 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3

See
Answer
Q3. Which of the following are the salient provisions of the National Policy on Electronics 2019?
  1. Special package of incentives for mega projects involving high-tech and huge investments.
  2. Creation of the Sovereign Patent Fund to promote acquisition of IPs.
  3. Establishment of exclusive Institutes to enhance R&D in Electronics System Design and Manufacturing.
  4. Promote trusted electronics value chain initiatives to improve national cyber security profile.
  5. Eliminate the imports of critical communication equipment.
  6. Incentives and support for domestic manufacturing of core electronic components.

Options:

a. 1,2,3 and 6
b. 1,2,4,5 and 6
c. 3 and 6
d. 1,2,4 and 6

See
Answer
Q4.  Which of the following is/are the objectives set under the National Health Policy, 2017?
  1. Reduction of Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 2.1 at national and sub-national level by 2025.
  2. Increase health expenditure by Government as a percentage of GDP to 2.5 % by 2025.
  3. Achieve the global target of 2020 for HIV/AIDS, also termed as target of 90:90:90.

Options:

a. 1 only
b. 3 only
c. 1 and 2 only
d. 1, 2 and 3

See
Answer

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. What is a vaccine? How does it prepare the immune system to fight a disease-causing germ? (10 Marks, 150 Words)
  2. What are the reasons behind the continuing slide of the rupee? What should the government and the RBI do to counter and arrest the fall? (10 Marks, 150 Words)

Read the previous CNA here.

22 March 2020 CNA:- Download PDF Here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *