Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - June 12, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Aguada Fenix

Focus: GS1.

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.


Context

  • An international team of archaeologists has discovered an artificial structure — which is 1,400 m in length, 10-15 m in height, has 9 causeways radiating out from it, and is about 3,000 years old — at the archaeological site of Aguada Fénix in Tabasco, Mexico, near the north western border of Guatemala.
  • This is the oldest monumental construction ever found in the Maya area and the largest in the entire pre-Hispanic history of the region.

About the Background

  • This area is developed — it’s not the jungle; people live there — but this site was not known because it is so flat and huge.
  • It just looks like a natural landscape.
  • But with lidar, it pops up as a very well-planned shape.
  • The archaeologists then excavated the site and radiocarbon-dated 69 samples of charcoal to determine that the monument was constructed sometime between 1,000 to 800 BCE.
  • Until now, the Maya site of Ceibal, built in 950 BCE, was the oldest confirmed ceremonial center.
  • This oldest monumental building at Aguada Fénix turned out to be the largest known in the entire Maya history, far exceeding pyramids and palaces of later periods.

Significance

  • The discovery marks a time of major change in Mesoamerica and has several implications.
  • First, archaeologists traditionally thought Maya civilization developed gradually.
    • Until now, it was thought that small Maya villages began to appear between 1000 and 350 BCE, what’s known as the Middle Preclassic period, along with the use of pottery and some maize cultivation.
  • Second, the site looks similar to the older Olmec civilization center of San Lorenzo to the west in the Mexican state of Veracruz, but the lack of stone sculptures related to rulers and elites, such as colossal heads and thrones, suggests less social inequality than San Lorenzo and highlights the importance of communal work in the earliest days of the Maya.
  • There has always been debate over whether Olmec civilization led to the development of the Maya civilization or if the Maya developed independently.

Source: The Hindu.

The Social Bubbles

Focus: GS2.

Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

A new study published in Nature Human Behaviour suggests that one of the ways of effective social distancing strategies to keep the Covid-19 curve flat include the idea of social bubbles. “…simple behavioural rules can go a long way in keeping the curve flat,” the study says.

About Social Bubbles

  • Last month, UK’s roadmap for exiting the lockdown stated that people could expand their household groups to include one other household in the same exclusive group, in order to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, “and to reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions, while continuing to limit the risk of chains of transmission.”
  • This method would also allow some families to return to work by sharing childcare responsibilities.

About New Zealand model

  • The idea is based on New Zealand’s model of household “bubbles”, an exclusive social group that is allowed to meet with each other amid the pandemic.
  • The country followed this approach during the lockdown and allowed the expansion of the bubbles as transmission slowed and restrictions eased.
  • Essentially, as per New Zealand’s model, a bubble is referred to as an individual’s household or the people that one lives with.
  • Under Alert level 3, people are allowed to extend their bubbles slightly to include caregivers or children who might be in shared care.
  • It also applies to people who are living alone or a couple who wants the company of another one or two people.
  • “These people don’t need to live in the same household but must be local.
  • Always keep your bubble exclusive and keep it small,” the government’s advisory says.
  • In case a member of the bubble develops symptoms, the entire bubble quarantines itself, preventing further spread of the infection.
  • Research published by the London School of Economics and Political Science says that the concept of social bubbles proved effective for New Zealand since it allowed people who were isolated, vulnerable or struggling to receive the care and support they needed.
  • Further, such a policy can be an effective policy for other countries to encourage compliance with social distancing regulations while meeting care and support needs.

Source: Indian Express.

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Draft frameworks for sale of loan exposures and securitization of standard assets

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked for all stakeholders comments on the draft frameworks for Securitisation of Standard Assets and Sale of Loan Exposures.
  • RBI's guidelines are applicable to all banks and financial institutions including NBFCs.

About the Background

  • In its notification, RBI says, "Aimed at development of a strong and robust securitisation market in India, while incentivising simpler securitisation structures, the revised guidelines attempt to align the regulatory framework with the Basel guidelines on securitisation that have come into force effective January 1, 2018."
  • RBI says, one of the key changes relates to differential treatment for Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) compared to other securitisations in respect of prescriptions regarding minimum holding period (MHP), minimum retention requirements (MRR) and reset of credit enhancements.
  • Further, guidelines for direct assignment transactions are proposed to be separated from the securitisation guidelines and subsumed under a separate set of Comprehensive Guidelines on Sale of Loan Exposures.

About the salient features

  • In line with the Basel III guidelines, two capital measurement approaches have been proposed: Securitisation External Ratings Based Approach (SEC-ERBA) and Securitisation Standardised Approach (SEC-SA).
  • Further, a special case of securitisation, called Simple, Transparent and Comparable (STC) securitisations, has been prescribed with clearly defined criteria and preferential capital treatment.
  • Definition of securitisation has been modified to allow single asset securitisations. Securitisation of exposures purchased from other lenders has been allowed.
  • Carve-outs have been provided for Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) in prescriptions regarding MHP, MRR and reset of credit enhancements.
  • Only transactions that result in multiple tranches of securities being issued reflecting different credit risks will be treated as securitisation transactions, and accordingly covered under these guidelines.
  • Sale of standard assets may be by assignment, novation or a loan participation contract (either funded participation or risk participation) whereas the sale of stressed assets may be by assignment or novation.

Source: The Hindu.

ASIATIC LION

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • The Gujarat forest department has suggested that the Asiatic Lion population in Gir national park has increased by 29% in the past five years — from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020.
  • The department has also said the distribution area of lions in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, where Gir is situated, has increased by 36% from 22,000 sqkm in 2015 to 30,000 sqkm.

About the Background

  • Over the last several years, the Lion population in Gujarat has been steadily rising.
  • This is powered by community participation, emphasis on technology, wildlife healthcare, proper habitat management and steps to minimise human-lion conflict.
About Asiatic Lion
  • Its current range is restricted to the Gir National Park and environs in the Indian state of Gujarat.
  • Historically, it inhabited much of Western Asia and the Middle East up to northern India.
  • On the IUCN Red List, it is listed under its former scientific name Panthera leo persica as endangered because of its small population size and area of occupancy.
  • Asiatic lions are genetically less diverse than lions in Africa, which may be the result of a founder effect in the recent history of the remnant population in the Gir Forest.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Gairsain

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

The hill town of Gairsain in the hill district of Chamoli officially became the summer capital of Uttarakhand after the state Governor Baby Rani Maurya gave her assent to it, said officials.

About the background

  • The information was shared by the state government in its notification stating “The Governor is hereby pleased to give her assent for declaration of Bhararisen (Gairsain) in district Chamoli as the summer capital of Uttarakhand state.” 
  • The notification has come after three months of chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat in a surprise move in his budgetary speech during budget session on March 4 in Gairsain, declared the hill town located about 260 kms away from Dehradun as the summer capital of Uttarakhand.

About Gairsain

  • Gairsain as the state’s capital has been a hot political issue between both present ruling BJP and Opposition Congress for long.
  • Even during the movement of statehood for Uttarakhand also, people had demanded Gairsain as the state capital claiming that it is located in the hills and is convenient for people of both Garhwal and Kumaon divisions to access.

Source: Hindustan Times.

World Accreditation Day (WAD) 2020

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • The World Accreditation Day (WAD) is celebrated on 9th June every year to highlight as well as promote the role of accreditation in trade & economy.
  • The theme for WAD 2020 is “Accreditation: Improving Food Safety”, as decided by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

About the Highlights

National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) and National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), the two accreditation boards of the Quality Council of India (QCI), organised a Webinar to commemorate the event, in which all concerned stakeholders participated.

Source: Hindustan Times.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former president of the Republic of the Philippines.
  2. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation gives the prize to individuals of the world.
  3. The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockfeller Brothers Fund based in New York City.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    A. 1 and 2 only
    B. 2 and 3 only
    C. 1 and 3 only
    D. AOTA

Solution: C

2. Consider the following:

  • The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation gives the prize to Asian individuals.


Quality Council of Indiais under the Ministry of:

     A. Commerce & Industry
     B. Social Justice
     C. Fertilizers
     D. Food Industry

Solution: A

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