An in-depth analysis of the best and most relevant editorials of the day from the best dailies known for civil services preparation.
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS, 20th May 2020
The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid homage to Shri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
About Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (19 May 1913 – 1 June 1996) was the sixth President of India, serving from 1977 to 1982.
He was also the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, a two-time Speaker of the Lok Sabha and a Union Minister—before becoming the youngest-ever Indian president.
As president, Reddy worked with Prime Ministers Morarji Desai, Charan Singh and Indira Gandhi.
Reddy was succeeded by Giani Zail Singh in 1982.
About his role in the Indian independence movement
Reddy joined the Indian struggle for independence from the British Raj following Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Anantapur in July 1929 and dropped out of college in 1931.
He was closely associated with the Youth League and participated in a student satyagraha.
In 1938, Reddy was elected Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Provincial Congress Committee, an office he held for ten years.
During the Quit India Movement, he was imprisoned and was mostly in jail between 1940 and 1945.
Released in March 1942, he was arrested again in August and sent to the Amraoti jail where he served time with activists T Prakasam, S. Satyamurti, K Kamaraj and V V Giri till 1945.
Reddy served thrice as President of the Indian National Congress at its Bangalore, Bhavnagar and Patna sessions during 1960 to 1962.
NATIONAL TEST ABHYAS
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank launched a new mobile app named - the ‘National Test Abhyas'.
The App has been developed by National Testing Agency-NTA to enable candidates to take mock tests for upcoming exams such as JEE Main and NEET under the NTA’s purview.
About the app
The app has been launched to facilitate candidates’ access to high quality mock tests as there was a demand for making up the loss to students due to closure of educational institutions and NTA’s Test-Practice Centers due to the lockdown.
Students across the country can use the App to access high quality tests, free of cost, in a bid to be fully prepared for the upcoming JEE, NEET and other competitive exams.
The tests can be easily downloaded.
This timely launch is designed to ensure that no student is left behind in getting exposure to practice testing, especially when student's loss due to closure of educational institutions is to be compensated.
US stock markets went soaring on the back of promising results from a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease developed by US pharmaceutical company Moderna.
It is the working name of Moderna’s vaccine, which is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials under the aegis of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Dr Anthony Fauci.
The mRNA in the name means messenger RNA, which carries the genetic formula for the coding of a specific protein.
In this vaccine, the particular mRNA used codes for the most distinguishing feature of the SARS-CoV2 — the spike protein — which is also the appendage that the virus uses to enter the cell and replicate.
The vaccine, when injected into a person, codes for the spike protein.
So even without the introduction of an attenuated (recognisable but not harmful) virus into the body, the body learns what the virus looks like and arms itself with the antibodies that are required to act against it.
About the promising results
Moderna has announced that the mRNA, on entering the body, had managed to show a degree of immune response in the first eight patients.
The results showed that even lower doses elicited an “immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection”.
Among the side-effects that were noted were chills and a little redness in the place where the injection had been given.
The participants received two doses of the vaccine; different doses were used to test the potency of the vaccine.
Two weeks after the second dose, even those on the lowest dose showed enough antibodies to raise hopes of being able to thwart an infection.
It was the same level of protection that people who have recovered from the infection show.
The group that got a higher dose had higher levels.
Source: Indian Express.
MALAYSIAN PALM OIL
The renewed purchases come amid improving trade ties between the two nations following the formation of the Perikatan Nasional government, with Malaysia signing a deal last week to buy a record 100,000 tonnes of Indian rice.
Leading Indian importers agreed last week to buy up to 200,000 tonnes of crude palm oil from Malaysia, the world’s No. 2 producer after Indonesia, to be shipped next month and in July.
Port stocks have dropped sharply in India because of lower imports.
Ship-tracking data compiled by Refinitiv showed that India’s total palm oil imports for the first four months of this year fell by more than 50% to 1.11 million tonnes from the same period last year.
Reuters said a resumption of purchases by India, the world’s biggest edible oil importer, could further support Malaysian palm oil prices, which have edged up from 10-month lows in recent days.
It quoted an Indian edible oil refiner who contracted “a few vessels” for June shipment as saying the renewed buying has been spurred by low stocks, while India’s relations with Malaysia have been improving since the PN government was formed in early March.
Malaysia’s palm oil inventories jumped to more than 2 million tonnes in April, well above expectations, as production surged to a six-month high and Covid-19 lockdowns led to a slump in demand.
India buys more than 9 million tonnes of palm oil a year, accounting for nearly two-thirds of its total edible oil imports, and took a record 4.4 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil in 2019.
Source: The Times of India.
Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
The Indian Railways has commissioned its most powerful locomotive till date - WAG 12 and it hauled 118 goods wagons from Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction to Barwadih via Dehri-on-Sone.
The Made-In-India locomotive was manufactured at the Madhepura Electric Loco Factory in Bihar, and was commissioned into service at the Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Jn Station yesterday (18 May).
After this development, India became just the sixth country in the world to produce a high-horsepower engine indigenously.
It is also the first time such a high horse powered engine has been operationalised on any broad gauge track in the world.
The Madhepura Electric Loco Factory is capable of building 120 locomotives every year.
The factory will manufacture 800 such locomotives in the next 11 years.
It is expected to create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The WAG-12 locomotive designed to haul freight, packs a whopping 12,000 horsepower and is capable of hauling loads up to 6,000 tonnes at a top speed of 120 kmph.
WAG-12 comes with a twin Bo-Bo design and can be tracked through GPS with the help of an embedded software.
WAG-12 is capable of working on railway tracks with conventional OHE lines as well as on Dedicated Freight corridors with high rise OHE lines.
It has air-conditioned driver cabs on either side.
It is also equipped with a regenerative braking system which provides substantial energy savings during operations.
These high horsepower locomotives will help to decongest the saturated tracks by improving average speed of freight trains.
The locomotive thus is considered to be a game-changer for the soon upcoming dedicated freight corridors.
Source: Economic Times.
The sun is said to have gone into a state called the 'solar minimum' and is about to enter the deepest period of 'sunshine recession' as sunspots are virtually not visible at all. Some reports suggest that it has been almost 100 days this year when the sun has shown zero sunspots.
About the cycle
Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 11 years, and right now we are at the peak of that cycle.
Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm. This is called the solar minimum. And it’s a regular part of the sunspot cycle.
While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull. Solar activity simply changes form. For instance, during solar minimums we can see the development of long-lived coronal holes.
This may cause health risks to astronauts travelling through space as "the sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from these cosmic rays.
Source: Times Now.
WORLD BEE DAY 2020
World Bee Day 2020 is being celebrated on May 20 under the theme “Save the Bees.”
To raise awareness of the importance of Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World Bee Day.
About the day
20th May coincides with the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia and praised the bees for their ability to work so hard, while needing so little attention.
Recognizing the dimensions of the pollination crisis and its links to biodiversity and human livelihoods, the Convention on Biological Diversity has made the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators a priority.
In 2000, the International Pollinator Initiative (IPI) was established at the Fifth Conference of Parties (COP V) as a cross-cutting initiative to promote the sustainable use of pollinators in agriculture and related ecosystems.
Source: United Nations.
The government has notified a cut in Employee's Provident Fund (EPF) contribution to 10% for May, June, July.
About the rules
The Centre has notified the reduction in statutory rate of contributions from 12 percent to 10 percent for wage month period from May to July 2020 for all class of establishments covered under the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
Reduction in rate of EPF contributions from 12 percent to 10 percent of basic wages and Dearness allowances is intended to benefit both 4.3 Crore employees.
As a result of the reduction in the statutory rate of contributions, the employee will have higher take-home pay.
This reduction of the rate of contribution is not applicable to establishments like Central and State Public Sector enterprises or any other establishment owned or controlled by or under control of the Central or State Government.
The reduced rate is also not applicable for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana-PMGKY beneficiaries.
MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (MSMEs)
Days after changing the definition of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the government has decided to further revise the criteria for medium units by enhancing the investment and turnover limits to up to ₹50 crores and ₹200 crores respectively.
About the new definition
As per the revised definition, any firm with investment up to ₹1 crore and turnover under ₹5 crore will be classified as “micro”.
A company with investment up to ₹10 crore and turnover up to ₹50 crores will be classified as “small” and a firm with investment up to ₹20 crore and turnover under ₹100 crore will be classified as “medium”.
The previous criteria for classifying enterprises in the “medium” category were investment up to ₹10 crore and turnover of up to ₹50 crores.
Source: The Hindu.
Map of the Day–Malaysia
Quote for the Day
Explain in detail the classification of tropical cyclones as suggested by IMD. (250 Words).
Explain the DISCOM troubles already present and how the newly proposed Electricity Act 2020 can further aggravate the crisis. (250 Words).
Explain the concept of travel Bubbles and then discuss how it would help the global economies. (250 Words).
Test your Knowledge
Consider the following statements wrt Sun cycle:
Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 12 years.
Every 12 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm which is called the solar minimum.
While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull.
Select the incorrect answer using the codes given below:
1 and 2 only
2 and 3 only
1 and 3 only
Consider the following statements with reference to World Meteorological Organisation:
It is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
It draws world attention to the depletion of the ozone layer.
The Secretariat is in Manhattan.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
1 and 2 only
2 and 3 only
1, 2 and 3
Consider the following statements with reference to human challenge studies:
1. It involves the deliberate infection of healthy volunteers.
2. Such studies can be used to compare the efficacy of multiple vaccine candidates.
3. They are proposed to be used for the first time for tackling threat of COVID-19.
Select the incorrect answer using the code given below:
1 and 2 only
1 and 3 only
1, 2 and 3
Reproduction number recently in news is related to:
Number of births per year in a country
Expected number of infected cases of a disease directly generated by one case in a population
Total number of infected patients of a particular disease
Average number of children born to women
World Bee Day 2020 theme is:
Save the Bees
Save the World
Save the wildlife
Save the Forests
A 2.B 3.C 4.B 5.A