Daily Current Affairs and MCQs - March 24, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

World Water Day: Often overlooked, water resources are essential part of solution to climate change

Focus: GS3.                                

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


  • On World Water Day, the United Nations launched a flagship report which says that reducing both the impacts and drivers of climate change will require major shifts in the way we use and reuse the Earth’s limited water resources. 


  • The new global report calls, among others, for concrete efforts to address rising water stress and improve the efficiency of water use in agriculture and industry, and it outlines actions in three areas: first, enabling people to adapt to the impacts of climate change; second, improving the resilience of livelihoods; and, third, reducing the drivers of climate change.


  • World Water Day is observed every year on March 22 which aims to focus on the importance of freshwater and spread awareness on sustainable management of freshwater resources. 
  • Every year it follows a theme to highlight a cause.
  • This year, the theme for World Water Day is 'Water and Climate Change'. 
  • On the other hand, the 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2020) named ‘Water and Climate Change’ stresses on the aim to help the water community tackle the challenges of climate change.
  • It will also focus on informing the climate change community about the opportunities that improved water management offers in terms of adaptation and mitigation.

Source: UN News.

Prime Minister pays tribute to Martyrs on Shaheedi Diwas

Focus: GS1.

Topic: The Freedom Struggle - its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.


  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid tributes to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on the occasion of the Shaheedi Diwas (Martyrs’ Day) and tweeted “A grateful nation shall always remember the great sacrifice made by them. Jai Hind”.

About Martyr’s Day

  • The anniversary of the deaths of Bhagat SinghSukhdev Thaparand Shivaram Rajguru on 23 March 1931, in Lahore (Pakistan), is declared to be Martyr's Day.
  • The three were among the many who sacrificed their lives for the nation and died when they were very young.
  • Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru mistook John Saunder for British police superintendent James Scott and assassinated John Saunders, a British police officer in 1928.
  • They planned to assassinate James Scott as he ordered lathi-charge, which led to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai. 
  • The three were hanged to death on 23 March 1931.

Source: PIB.

World Tuberculosis Day: How to distinguish TB from COVID-19

Focus: GS2.

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


  • March 24 marks the World TB Day.
  • With the theme of "It's Time," it calls on countries to "accelerate TB response to save lives and end suffering."

About TB

  • Tuberculosis (TB), a contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria that most commonly affect lungs, is one of the top 10 causes of death globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • TB and COVID-19 are infectious respiratory diseases that share some similarities.
  • They can both be transmitted by respiratory droplets and cause symptoms like fever, fatigue and cough.


TB vs COVID-19

  • Pathogens:
    • The two are caused by different pathogens.
    • TB is caused by bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis, while COVID-19 by SARS-Cov-2 or what is commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
  • Symptoms:
    • Though fever and cough are two of the most common symptoms for these two diseases, TB usually causes low fever in the afternoon, night sweats and weight loss.
    • Moderate or high fever does not occur in the early stage.
    • Coughing for TB patients lasts for over two weeks, and they may also cough out sputum and blood.
    • The main manifestations of COVID-19 are fever, fatigue, dry cough and breathing difficulties.
    • Some patients will have nasal congestion, runny nose or diarrhea, while some only show low fever and slight fatigue.
  • Transmission:
    • TB is spread from person to person through the air, according to the WHO.
    • "When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
    • A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
    • "For COVID-19, respiratory droplets and close contact are the main routes of transmission, and aerosol transmissionis possible only under specific conditions.
    • Asymptomatic patients can also spread the virus.
  • Vulnerable groups: 
    • People infected with TB bacteria will not necessarily fall ill with TB, but "have a five to 15 percent lifetime risk," according to the WHO.
    • The incidence mainly relies on the amount and virulence of the TB bacteria and personal immunity.
    • Those with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition and diabetes, or tobacco users, are at a higher risk.
    • The incubation period for COVID-19 is generally one to 14 days, and people are generally susceptible.
    • The elderly and people with underlying diseases are usually more serious. 
    • Children and babies can catch COVID-19 as well.

Source: Economic Times.

Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill without discussion

Focus: GS2.

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


  • Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill 2020 without a discussion as the House curtailed its sittings in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • More than 40 amendments were introduced by the government to the Finance Bill, which was moved for consideration and passing by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.


  • The Union government said it was an "extraordinary situation", a reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Finance Minister tabled the bill for passage.
  • The House negated amendments moved by Opposition members.
  • A decision to pass the Bill without any discussion was taken at an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Om Birla.
  • Some amendments moved by the Opposition were negated.

About the Bill

  • The Bill gives effect to the financial proposals of the central government for fiscal 2020-21.
  • Against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, it was an "extraordinary situation" and that a decision to pass the Bill without any discussion was taken at the all-party meeting.

Source: Economic Times.

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National Supercomputing Mission: a transformative approach in supercomputing

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


  • The 2020-21 is an important year for India’s National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
  • The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and start-ups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.


  • A first of its kind attempt to boost the country’s computing power, the National Super Computing Mission is steered jointly by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) and implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

About the mission

  • The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
  • This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.
  • With the revised plan in place, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, called Param Shivay, was installed in IIT (BHU) and was inaugurated by the Prime Minister.
  • Similar systems Param Shakti and Param Brahma were installed at IIT-Kharagpur and IISER, Pune.
  • They are equipped with applications from domains like Weather and Climate, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Bioinformatics, and Material science.
  • Geared to provide Supercomputing facility to about 60-70 institutions Nation-wide and more than thousands of active Researchers, Academicians, and so on, NSM has gathered momentum and is moving fast not only towards creating a computer infrastructure for the country but also to build capacity of the country to develop the next generation of supercomputer experts.

Source: Indian Express.

Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt SOLIDARITY trial:
    1. It was organized by FAO.
    2. It is a large international clinical trial to test five treatment regimens against COVID-19.
    3. The streamlined randomized trial can be adjusted based on countries' availability of the drugs and can be adjusted to include other arms.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Solution: C

2. Consider the following:

  • It was organized by World Health Organization (WHO).
  • It is a large international clinical trial to test five treatment regimens against COVID-19.
  • The streamlined randomized trial can be adjusted based on countries' availability of the drugs and can be adjusted to include other arms.
  • Olive Ridley inhabit warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
  • Their unique mass nesting called Arribada. i.e. thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley.
The largest mass nesting site for the Olive ridley turtles is in:

     1. Kerala coast
     2. Maharashtra coast
     3. Odisha coast
     4. Karnataka coast

Solution: C

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