Daily Current Affairs
22 December 2020

General Studies-I

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society

Topic: Important Personality

1)Srinivasa Ramanujan

In News

Vice President today paid tributes to an eminent mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan on his birth anniversary.

  • The day is also celebrated as National Mathematics Day.

About Srinivasa Ramanujan

  • Srinivasa Ramanujan was born Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar (22 December 1887 – 26 April 1920) was an Indian mathematician who lived during the British Rule in India.
  • He made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems then considered unsolvable.
  • During his short life, Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3,900 results (mostly identities and equations).

National Mathematics Day 2020

  • National Mathematics Day is celebrated on December 22 to commemorate the birth anniversary of India’s mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • This was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 26 February 2012 at Madras University, to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.

 

Source: News On Air

 

Topic: Festival

2) India International Science Festival 2020

In News

Prime Minister will deliver the inaugural address at the India International Science Festival (IISF) 2020 today through video conferencing.

  • The aim is to engage the public with science.
  • The goal of the IISF 2020 is to help youth develop 21st century skills, with a focus on scientific knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.

Background

Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), has created a unique platform of India International Science Festival.

  • Started in 2015, the India International Science Festival is an annual event held across many cities in the country.
  • The first and second IISF were held in New Delhi, the third in Chennai, the fourth in Lucknow, and the fifth IISF was held in Kolkata.
  • ALL these IISFs had generated immense response from people within India and from abroad.

Objective

  • IISF 2020 is an integral part of India’s long-term vision in developing the spectrum of scientific temper in India and abroad.
  • To engage public with science and celebrate the joy of science .
  • One long-term objective is to encourage students to study and work in scientific fields.
  • Also, show the ways how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) provide us with the solutions to improve our lives.

The event is being supported by:

  • Vigyan Prasar
  • All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

 

Source: News On Air

 

General Studies-II

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations

Topic: IR

3) Coastal radar network

In News

As part of India’s efforts to further expand the coastal radar chain network meant to enable real-time monitoring of the high seas for threats, efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in the Indian Ocean littoral states of Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Coastal Radar Chain Network

  • The aim is to create a network of information and maritime domain awareness in the strategic Indian Ocean Region.
  • This will also help in expanding India’s assistance for capacity building to Indian Ocean littoral states.
  • The assistance to these countries comes under India's programme called SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region.

Highlights

  • Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been integrated into the country’s coastal radar chain network.
  • Under Phase-I of the coastal radar chain network, 46 coastal radar stations have been set up across the country’s coastline.
  • Under Phase-II of the project, which is currently under way, 38 static radar stations and four mobile radar stations are being set up by the Coast Guard and is in advanced stage of completion.
  • The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) located in Gurugram which was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is the nodal agency for maritime data fusion.
  • As part of information exchange regarding traffic on the high seas, the Navy has been authorised by the government to conclude white shipping agreements with 36 countries and three multilateral constructs.
  • So far agreements have been concluded with 22 countries and one multilateral construct.

Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region:

  • The IFC has been established at Gurugram and is collocated with the Information Management and Analysis Center which is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
  • The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC), set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, is the nodal agency for maritime data fusion.
  • It will soon become a National Maritime Domain Awareness (NDMA) centre.

 

Source: The Hindu

 

General Studies-III

Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Topic: Health & Safety

4) Healthcare in India

In News

It is 70% private and 30% public in a country where 80% people do not have any protection for health and the out-of-pocket expense is as high as 62%.

  • With public spending at 1.13% of GDP, there is a huge shortage of health-care workers particularly nurses and midwives.

Issues with the private sector and insurance combination

  • Private sector health care is driven by return on capital.
  • The insurance backup incentivises hospitals to expand the bill but the patients do not get attended to in their best interests.
  • The government, on the other hand, have an incentive for driving down the price of procedures; as a result, hospitals selectively offer some services and procedures (while denying some).
  • But the ceiling level of the insurance gets claimed regardless in the interest of the hospital.
  • When the government adjudicates the claim without having the capacity to do so under a trust model, the system will unravel sooner rather than later.
  • In such case, the doctor and patient are not constrained by the ability to pay and while the marginal private cost is zero, the social cost can be high.

Impact of insurance-private sector combination

  • Pervasive demand inducement has an impact in terms of increases in health expenditure.
  • This results in an upward bias in insurance premium which in turn creates a fiscal externality in the long term.
  • In any case, insurance of secondary and tertiary care pushes out long-term investment by the state and people and leads to the continued neglect of primary health care.
  • This is reflected in the fact that out of 12 crore card holders under Ayushman Bharat, only 1.27 crore people have taken advantage of the scheme.
  • Finally, a social insurance scheme of such type with our demographic profile only prospers at the cost of neglecting public hospitals.

Way forward

  • Increase the number of doctors with counterpart obligation to serve in rural areas.
  • There is need to revive the Licentiate Medical Practitioner as we had before Independence in the rural areas. This requires starting it de novo with the attendant resistance.
  • Empowering graduates of BSc (Nursing) to be nursing practitioners — as prevalent in many countries could be helpful.
  • From the gender perspective too, this is preferable from the angle of maternal and child health.
  • Primary health care should receive three times more allocation in the budget and doctor and paramedic strength should be doubled merely on the basis of population increase.
  • States should be incentivised to carry out the appointments of health workers and doctors.
  • India has a ratio of 0.6 nurses per doctor while the World Health Organization specification is three nurses per doctor.

Source: The Hindu

 

Topic: Environment

5) The ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’ report

In News

The ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’ report was released by Union environment minister.

Highlights

  • The population of leopard in India has increased by 60 percent. India now has 12,852 leopards.
  • States of Madhya Pradesh (3,421), Karnataka (1783) and Maharashtra (1690) who have recorded the highest leopard estimates.
  • Leopards are among the most adaptable carnivores, and are known to exist very close to human habitations.
  • A study earlier had found four distinct sub-populations of leopards in India with high genetic variations- leopards of the Western Ghats, the Deccan Plateau semi-arid region, the Shivalik mountains, and the Terai region in North India.
  • Recent meta-analyses of leopard status and distribution suggest 48–67% range loss for the species in Africa and 83–87% in Asia.
  • In India, leopards have experienced a possibly human-induced 75-90% population decline in the last ~120-200 years.
  • In Indian subcontinent poaching, habitat loss, depletion of natural prey and conflict are major threats to leopard populations. All these have resulted in changing the species status from ‘Near Threatened’ to ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Indian Leopard

  • The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent.
  • The species Panthera pardus is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts, and persecution due to conflict situations.
  • The Indian leopard is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard.

 

Source: New Indian Express

 

Topic: Health

6) B.1.1.7 Lineage

In News

India suspended all flights from and to the UK until December 31, amid concerns about a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 that is “spreading & growing rapidly” there.

Details

  • Last week, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant was revealed to be the reason behind the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases in South and East England.
  • It is being referred to as VUI (Variant Under Investigation) 202012/01, or the B.1.1.7 lineage.

What is the variant like?

  • The variant was identified in genomic surveillance by COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK), a consortium that analyses genome sequencing data from the UK. COG-UK is the largest contributor to the global Covid-19 database GISAID.
  • The variant is the result of multiple mutations in the spike protein of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as well as mutations in other genomic regions of the RNA virus.
  • Preliminary analysis suggests that it is more transmissible than previously circulating variants.
  • COG-UK identified one of these mutations as “N501Y”, in an area of the spike protein that binds to a key protein in the human cell, the ACE2 receptor. This was an indication that the alterations may, theoretically, result in the virus becoming more infectious.

 

Source: Indian Express

 

Topic: Environment

7) IUCN Findings

In News

The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently found that Sharks, Rays and Chimeras are facing high risk of extinction.

Key Findings

  • The Shark Specialist Group held an assessment in the Exclusive Economic Zone and found that out of 170 species of Sharks found across the oceans of the country, 19 are facing extinction.
  • Around 11% of species in the oceans of India are facing extinction.
  • Out of the 170 species in the oceans of India, 30 have been classified as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List for threatened species.
  • In the last assessment that was held in 2014, only 3% of the sharks, rays and Chimeras were listed as Critically Endangered. However, this has increased to 11% in 2020.
  • The number of species in endangered category has increased from 5% in 2014 to 18% in 2020.
  • The recent IUCN Red List Update marked the Indian Swell Shark as critically endangered for the first time due to limited Geographic range and population decline. The Indian Swell Shark is a small deep water cat shark. It is found in the coasts of Kerala, Sri Lanka, Kollam. They occur on the continental slope at depths of 100-500 metres.
  • The Oceanic White tip shark that was classified as endangered has now been listed critically endangered. The White Tip Shark has high amounts of Squalene in its liver. Squalene is a natural organic compound that is found in shark liver oil and is widely used in pharmaceutical industry.
  • Due to Target fishing and by-catch, the rays and shark numbers have fallen drastically. Target Fishing is when a particular type of fish is targeted. On the other hand, by-catch fish is the other fish gets caught alongside.
  • According to the IUCN Assessment, 38 of the sharks have been classified as Vulnerable, 23 as Least Concern, 27 as Near-threatened.

International Union for Conservation of Nature

  • IUCN is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education.
  • IUCN's mission is to "influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable".
  • IUCN has widened its focus beyond conservation ecology and now incorporates issues related to sustainable development in its projects.
  • The organization is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.
  • Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.

 

Source: The Hindu