Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - May 19, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

PM e-VIDYA

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

PM e-VIDYA is part of a number of initiatives that are launched by the Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman to boost the education sector.

Background

  • The government is committed to ensuring learning for all, with equity, so as to cover all students at all levels of education and in all geographical locations, even in the remotest parts of the country.
  • “One nation, one digital platform” and “one class one channel” will ensure that quality education material will reach the students present in farthest areas of the country.

About PM e-Vidya

A comprehensive initiative called PM e-VIDYA will be launched which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education. This will enable multi-mode access to education, and includes:

  • DIKSHA(one nation-one digital platform) which will now become the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content in school education for all the states/UTs;
  • TV (one class-one channel)where one dedicated channel per grade for each of the classes 1 to 12 will provide access to quality educational material:
  • SWAYAM online courses in MOOCS format for school and higher education;
  • IITPAL for IITJEE/NEET preparation;
  • Air through Community radio and CBSE Shiksha Vani podcast;
  • Study material for the differently-abled developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language on NIOS website/ YouTube.
  • This will benefit nearly 25 crore school-going children across the country.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Shekatkar Committee for Border Infrastructure

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.


Context

  • Government has accepted and implemented three important recommendations of Committee of Experts (CoE) under the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border Infrastructure.
  • These were related to speeding up road construction, leading to socio-economic development in the border areas.

About the committee

  • The military reforms committee – under Lt General (retd.) DB Shekatkar – or otherwise known as Shekatkar Committee, was set up by then Raksha Mantri Manohar Parrikarin 2015.
  • The committee was established with a mandate for Enhancing Combat Capability and Rebalancing Defence Expenditure.
  • Shekatkar Committee had made recommendations on enhancing the combat potential of India’s three armed forces, rationalizing the defence budget etc.
  • The committee submitted its report on December 21, 2016. 
  • It had apparently exceeded its brief with some 200 recommendations.
  • A major recommendation is that the defence budget should be 2.5% to 3% of the GDP.
  • The report, which is now the guiding principle for ongoing defence reforms, has never been made public, because it covers operational aspects of the armed forces, and its disclosure, is not in the interests of national security.

About the committee recommendations

  • Optimization of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.
  • Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static / Station Workshops in the field Army.
  • Redeployment of Ordnance echelonsto include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
  • Better utilization of Supply and Transportation echelons and Animal Transport Units.
  • Closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.
  • Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.
  • Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.

Source: Doordarshan.

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International Museum Day

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Context

Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, Ministry of Culture, Government of India hosted a webinar on “Revitalising Museums and Cultural Spaces” to celebrate the International Museum Day.

About the webinar

  • The webinar has been hosted by Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, Ministry of Culture,Government of India.
  • The National e-Governance Division (NeGD)created by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has supported DMCS, Ministry of Culture by providing technical assistance for conducting of this Webinar.
  • The webinar featured some of the best experts in the museum and cultural spaces domain.
  • The objective of the webinar is to identify the possible policy actions that will help alleviate the short and long term effects of the crisis on museums, cultural spaces and their broader ecosystems.
  • The nascent topic Museo-preneurs also discussed to look at how museums can embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and work on sustainable business models.

About the day

  • International Museum Day (IMD) is an international day held annually on oraround 18 May, coordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
  • The event highlights a specific theme which changes every year to reflect the basis of the international museum community’s preoccupations.
  • International Museum Day therefore serves as a platform to raise public awareness on the role museums play in the development of society today, on an international level.
  • THEME 2020– Museum for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion.

About the National e-Governance Division

  • In 2009, the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) was created by theMinistry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) as an Independent Business Division under the Digital India Corporation.
  • Since 2009, NeGD has been playing a pivotal role in supporting the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology in Programme Management and implementation of e-Governance Projects and initiatives undertaken by Ministries/ Departments, both at Central and State levels.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Pinanga Andamanensis

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

Recently, a rare palm, Pinanga andamanensis, has been successfully cultivated at Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) based at Palode, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).

About the palm

  • It is a rare palm endemic to South Andaman Island.
  • Its entire population of some 600 specimens naturally occurs only in a tiny, evergreen forest pocket in South Andaman’s Mount Harriet National Park.
  • Endemic species are those plants and animals that exist only in one geographical region.
  • The name is derived from‘Penang’, the modern-day Malaysian state.
  • Penang itself has its origins in Pulau Pinang which means Island of the Areca Nut Palm.
  • It has strong resemblance with theareca palm tree (widely used for bright interiors).
  • It has a small gene poolwhich means the species is vulnerable to natural calamities such as cyclones, earthquakes.
  • JNTBGRI scientists term it a critically endangered speciesand one of the least known among the endemic palms of the Andaman Islands.
  • Thiruvananthapuram has been referred as its second home as the species has started flowering in this Institute.
  • JNTBGRI will resume seed germination experiments for mass multiplication as part of the conservation strategy.

Source: The Hindu.

Ashwagandha against Covid-19

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

Researchers of IIT-Delhi in collaboration with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have recently found that the ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha has “therapeutic and preventive value” against Covid-19 infection.

About the findings

  • Drug designing, devising and development using informatics and experimental tools across the world has been triggered by the publication of the coronavirus genome and structure.
  • Researchers from IIT-Delhi and AISThave used Ashwagandha and propolis based compounds in order to target the main enzyme of coronavirus, known as the Main protease or Mpro.
    • Main protease or Mproplays a key role in mediating viral replication.
    • Enzymes are biological molecules (typically proteins) that regulate the rate of virtually all of the chemical reactions that take place within living organisms. E.g digestion.
    • Replication is the process by which a DNA molecule is copied to produce two identical DNA molecules.
    • In replication whenever a cell divides, the two new daughter cellscontain the same genetic information, or DNA, as the parent cell.
  • The researchers have found that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandhaand Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand propolis, have the potential to interact with and block the activity of Mpro.
  • Recently, the Indian government has also set up atask force to launch its clinical research studies on some Ayurvedic medicines that can be used to boost the immune system and control coronavirus.
  • The government has also launched the‘AYUSH Sanjivani’ App.
  • The app intends to generate data on usage of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-rigpa and Homoeopathy) advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of Covid-19.

Source: Indian Express.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Hanko tradition:
    1. The hanko is a personal stamp in Japan, that is equivalent to a signature in other countries, and is an essential part of several transactions.
    2. Small-sized and circular or square-shaped, the stamp is wet by an ink pad called ‘shuniku’, and the mark that it leaves on a document is called ‘inkan’.
    3. There are specific types of the hanko that are used for authorising different kinds of transactions, such as those requiring registered seals, bank documents, and for day-to-day use.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. AOTA

Solution: D

  1. Charan Paduka campaign has been started in?
    1. Karnataka
    2. Madhya Pradesh
    3. Kerala
    4. Haryana

Solution: B

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