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
A. GS 1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS 2 Related
- India and France have conducted joint patrols in the Indian Ocean region.
- The Indian Navy conducted a joint patrol with the French Navy from the Reunion Island in February 2020.
- The patrol was conducted by a P-8I aircraft with French Navy personnel on board.
- The P-8I aircraft is operated for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Changed Strategy for the Indian Ocean:
- India has so far carried out coordinated patrols only with maritime neighbours and had rejected offers by the U.S for joint patrols in the Indian Ocean region.
- The first-ever joint patrol in the Indian Ocean region with an extra-territorial power signals India’s intent to engage with friendly foreign partners in expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean, stretching between the East African coastline and the Malacca straits.
India-France cooperation in IOR:
- France was the first country to deploy a liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC-IOR) as part of efforts to improve maritime domain awareness (MDA).
- India and France have a greater understanding of each other’s concerns, especially in the maritime domain.
- India is skeptical of entertaining non-regional powers in the Indian Ocean region given its fear that doing so would lead to power projection in the region which could be against India’s interests and the region’s peace and security.
- Given the fact that India and France have capacity constraints in the region for resources, the Joint patrols provide an opportunity to share responsibilities.
- France holds a few islands in the region, with the reunion island being the biggest.
- Reunion is an overseas region of the French Republic and an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius.
- Given the fact that the relations between the two countries are on the upswing, cooperation in this region is a natural progression in the ties between the two countries.
France a major strategic partner:
- France has steadily emerged as a major strategic partner for India with important defence deals and increased military-to-military engagement.
- The Indian Navy is currently inducting French Scorpene conventional submarines, being built in India under technology transfer.
- The Indian Air Force will soon get the first batch of its 36 Rafale fighter jets.
- COVID-19 outbreak in India.
- The total number of confirmed cases in India stood at 271 (Reports from the States put the number of cases at 323) with 65 new cases being recorded in one day. Despite the sudden hike in the number of new cases, the Central government has stated that there is currently no evidence of community transmission yet in the country.
- Despite some reports regarding the new cases from Tamil Nadu, Pune and Nagpur, wherein the infected people had no travel history or known history of contact with people from abroad, the health officials have claimed that all cases confirmed so far could be linked to imported cases.
Steps being taken:
- Stringent measures to enforce social distancing:
- India would be observing a nationwide 14-hour lockdown, observing a ‘Janata Curfew’, to break the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- Several State governments have announced new, stringent measures to enforce social distancing.
- Revised testing strategy:
- The Indian Council of Medical Research has revised its testing strategy to check the spread of COVID-19.
- ICMR has expanded its testing to include all hospitalized patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness.
- Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case would be tested once between Day 5 and Day 14 of coming into contact with a confirmed case.
- As per the ICMR, direct and high-risk contacts include those who live in the same household with a confirmed case and healthcare workers who examined a confirmed case without adequate protection as per WHO recommendations.
- Given the fact that the number of cases has increased, the number of samples being tested must also increase accordingly. In this direction, the government is set to specify specific guidelines for private-sector diagnostic companies to offer testing services.
- Preparing for Critical care:
- Critical care training was imparted to 1,000 hospitals across the country and State health centres are scheduled to take part in a “mock drill” on preparing for ventilator use and advanced care to patients.
- The PM held a video conference with representatives of pharmaceutical companies and asked them to boost the production of necessary medicines.
- Research and development:
- In line with WHO recommendations, to further research on the coronavirus, the government would be allowing biology-research institutes to culture the virus.
C. GS 3 Related
- Mass nesting of olive ridleys has started at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery coast.
- Olive ridley turtles are among the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world. They are found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but also in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
- They are predominantly omnivorous.
- Olive Ridley turtles and the related Kemps Ridley turtles are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed arribadas.
- Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district are the main Olive Ridley Nesting sites in Odisha.
- Recently, another Olive Ridley mass nesting site has been added. This is the Bahuda Rookery at a beach on Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district.
- It is listed as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List. In India, it is protected under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Trading in its products is banned under CITES.
- The Coast Guard had launched ‘Operation Olivia’ to intercept unlawful trawling activities along Odisha coast to ensure safe passage to the Olive Ridley turtles during the nesting season.
- In a bid to boost large-scale electronics manufacturing in India, the Union Cabinet approved three schemes, with a total outlay of around 48,000 crores.
- The National Policy on Electronics 2019 envisions positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country for developing core components and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally.
Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronics Components and Semiconductors:
- The scheme offers a financial incentive of 25% of capital expenditure for the manufacturing of goods that constitute the supply chain of an electronic product listed under the Scheme.
- The scheme is important given the objectives it strives to achieve:
- The scheme will help offset the disability for domestic manufacturing of certain electronic components and semiconductors and strengthen the electronic manufacturing ecosystem in the country.
- It will ensure the development of electronic components manufacturing ecosystem in the country.
- It will help reduce dependence on import of components by large scale domestic manufacturing that will also enhance the digital security of the nation.
- Domestic value addition for mobile phones is expected to rise to 35-40% by 2025 from the current 20—25% due to the impetus provided by the scheme.
Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing:
- The production-linked incentive scheme will offer an incentive of 4-6% on incremental sales of goods manufactured in India and covered under target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five years subsequent.
- The production linked incentive will help boost domestic manufacturing.
- It will also help attract large investments in mobile phone manufacturing and specified electronic components including Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units.
Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC) 2.0:
- This scheme aims at creating world-class quality infrastructure with a minimum area of 200 acres along with industry-specific facilities such as common facility centres, ready-built factory sheds/ plug-and-play facilities through Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs).
- The Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme would support the setting up of both Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs) and Common Facility Centers (CFCs).
- The EMCs would aid in the growth of the ESDM sector, help to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem, drive innovation and catalyze the economic growth of the region by attracting investments in the sector, increasing employment opportunities and tax revenues.
- The three schemes together will enable large-scale electronics manufacturing, a domestic supply chain ecosystem of components and a state-of-the-art infrastructure and common facilities for large anchor units and their supply chain partners.
- The schemes are expected to attract new investments worth at least 50,000 crores into the sector.
- The schemes will help generate over 20 lakh jobs, with around five lakh direct and 15 lakh indirect jobs.
- A vibrant electronic component manufacturing ecosystem is vital for the overall long-term and sustainable growth of electronics manufacturing in India and essential to achieve net positive Balance of Payments (BoP).
- The Union Cabinet approves schemes to promote domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials(KSMs)/Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients(APIs) in the country.
- The Indian pharmaceutical industry though the 3rd largest in the world by volume, India is still significantly dependent on the import of basic raw materials like Bulk Drugs.
- A bulk drug also called active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is the chemical molecule in a pharmaceutical product that lends the product the claimed therapeutic effect.
- The Union Cabinet has approved the following schemes:
Scheme for Promotion of Bulk Drug Parks:
- The scheme will finance Common Infrastructure Facilities in 3 Bulk Drug Parks.
- It will help develop 3 mega Bulk Drug parks in India in partnership with States.
- Parks will have common facilities such as solvent recovery plant, distillation plant, power & steam units, common effluent treatment plant, etc.
- The availability of common infrastructure facilities is expected to reduce the manufacturing cost of bulk drugs in the country and India’s dependency on other countries for bulk drugs.
Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme:
- The scheme aims to promote domestic manufacturing of critical KSMs/Drug Intermediates and APIs in the country.
- A financial incentive will be given to eligible manufacturers of identified 53 critical bulk drugs on their incremental sales.
- The scheme will help domestic manufacturing by attracting large investments in the sector which will help ensure the sustainable domestic supply and help reduce India’s import dependence on other countries for critical KSMs/Drug Intermediates and APIs.
- The Production Linked Incentive Scheme will lead to significant additional employment generation.
- The scheme by ensuring self-sufficiency in the manufacturing of bulk drugs in India, will lead to undisrupted supplies of medicines and therefore ensure Drug Security and access to affordable healthcare in India.
- The schemes will also help give impetus to the Indian economy, given India’s prominence in the pharmaceutical industry.
- Development of inhibitors for the novel coronavirus.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
D. GS 4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
The immune system is made up of a specialized network of organs, cells, and tissues that all work together to protect us against disease. When a disease-causing germ (for example, a virus or bacteria) enters the body, the immune system:
- Recognizes the germ as being foreign (not belonging in the body).
- Responds by making special proteins (called antibodies) that help destroy the germ.
- Remembers the germ that made the person sick and to destroy it in the future.
What are vaccines?
Vaccines are one of the most effective tools to prevent diseases.
- A vaccine is a substance that resembles the disease-causing agent (also called pathogen) but does not cause the disease.
- It stimulates the immune system to recognize and kill the pathogen and creates a memory for the future.
- This is what makes vaccines such a powerful disease prevention tool. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.
- Vaccines are available to protect us against many life-threatening diseases such as polio, influenza, meningitis, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, and certain types of cancers.
- Vaccines have also been responsible for eradication (or near eradication) of deadly diseases such as smallpox and polio.
How are Vaccines Made?
There are multiple ways to make vaccines.
- Live, Attenuated Vaccines: These vaccines contain a version of the living virus or bacteria that has been weakened.
- These wild virus or bacteria are weakened by repeated culturing in cells in which they do not reproduce very well. As they evolve to adapt to the new environment, they become weaker with respect to their natural host, human beings.
- Examples include measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.
- Inactivated Vaccine (Killed Vaccine): It is a vaccine consisting of virus particles, bacteria, or other pathogens that have been grown in culture. They have been killed through physical or chemical processes. These killed organisms cannot cause disease.
- Pathogens for inactivated vaccines are grown under controlled conditions and are killed as a means to reduce infectivity (virulence) and thus prevent infection.
- Inactivated vaccines are not active and cannot replicate, so there is always a need for multiple doses. In general, the immune response does not occur after the first dose, but usually after the second or third dose.
- Examples include the polio vaccine, influenza vaccine.
Is a virus needed to develop a vaccine against it?
With modern molecular tools and technologies, isolating a virus is not required to make a vaccine against it.
- The genetic sequence can be obtained directly from infected patients and this can be converted into proteins using various platform technologies.
- This makes it possible to have vaccines ready for hundreds of pathogens that have not yet infected humans but have the potential to do so in the future.
Stages of Vaccine development
- It can take years to develop vaccines. It is a sequential process — it is first developed in laboratories to show proof-of-concept for the theoretical designs, then a manufacturing process is designed to develop a stable and highly potent product to be tested on animals and humans (Clinical trials), then finally it ready to be released in the market.
What vaccines are being developed against COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, over 40 different candidate vaccines for COVID-19 are in development.
- These include an Inactivated Vaccine being developed in China (Sinovac) using purified COVID-19 virus killed with formaldehyde (a chemical).
- A Live Attenuated Vaccine being developed by Codagenix, a U.S.-based company in partnership with the Serum Institute of India (Pune), uses a genetically engineered COVID-19 virus that replicates very poorly.
One vaccine against COVID-19 is already in trials. What is it about?
- An experimental COVID-19 vaccine called mRNA-1273 was developed by Moderna, a biotechnology company
What is the mRNA vaccine?
- The genetic blueprint (or code) in living organisms is stored in a double-stranded molecule called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which makes proteins that are responsible for nearly every function in the human body.
- The conversion of DNA code into proteins requires a single-stranded molecule called the mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).
- In an analogy with computers, one may think of the DNA as the hardware, the mRNA as the software and proteins as the applications.
The mRNA-1273 is a piece of RNA that carries the code to make the COVID-19 virus Spike protein when introduced into cells.
- This protein is present on the surface of the virus and is critical for its entry into cells.
- Immunity (antibodies) to the Spike protein can block virus entry and its multiplication, and thus ameliorate the disease.
- Although it simple to engineer an mRNA, it can degrade easily. Therefore, it has to be protected with a coating that will ensure its transportation to the targeted cells, when injected into the body.
How much does it cost to develop it? Who funds it?
It takes millions of dollars to develop and test a vaccine. Either for-profit companies or philanthropic foundations and countries cover the costs.
- The mRNA-1273 vaccine is supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a not-for-profit grouping of foundations and countries.
- India is a member of CEPI. Besides mRNA-1273, CEPI has funded the development of at least five other COVID-19 vaccines, with an overall commitment of $23.7 million.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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- 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?
- Olive Ridley turtles are endemic to the Indian Ocean region.
- Olive Ridley turtles are the only recorded species of turtles exhibiting the behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed arribadas.
- Olive Ridley turtles are listed as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List.
a. 1 and 2
b. 3 only
c. None of the above
d. 1 only
Q2. Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?
- Reunion Island lies to the east of Madagascar Island.
- The closest country to Reunion Island is Mauritius.
- Reunion is the only island under French control in the Indian Ocean region.
a. 1 only
b. 1 and 2 only
c. 2 and 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
Q3. Which of the following are the salient provisions of the National Policy on Electronics 2019?
- Special package of incentives for mega projects involving high-tech and huge investments.
- Creation of the Sovereign Patent Fund to promote acquisition of IPs.
- Establishment of exclusive Institutes to enhance R&D in Electronics System Design and Manufacturing.
- Promote trusted electronics value chain initiatives to improve national cyber security profile.
- Eliminate the imports of critical communication equipment.
- Incentives and support for domestic manufacturing of core electronic components.
a. 1,2,3 and 6
b. 1,2,4,5 and 6
c. 3 and 6
d. 1,2,4 and 6
Q4. Which of the following is/are the objectives set under the National Health Policy, 2017?
- Reduction of Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 2.1 at national and sub-national level by 2025.
- Increase health expenditure by Government as a percentage of GDP to 2.5 % by 2025.
- Achieve the global target of 2020 for HIV/AIDS, also termed as target of 90:90:90.
a. 1 only
b. 3 only
c. 1 and 2 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- What is a vaccine? How does it prepare the immune system to fight a disease-causing germ? (10 Marks, 150 Words)
- 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