24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis | Prelims & Mains 2020

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IASbhai Current Affairs News Analysis | Prelims & Mains 2020-21 is an initiative to dilute major articles from leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Hence we choose articles on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC PRELIMS 2021.

We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.– Barbara De Angelis

HIGHLIGHT INFO:

ORANGE COLOUR: Important for Prelims.

RED COLOUR: Important for Mains.

BLACK COLOUR: Must Read !

BLUE COLOUR : Important Links/Survey.

PINK COLOUR: Reports/Themes/Summits.

24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis | Prelims & Mains 2021

Today's Must Read Articles : Today's Must Read Articles :

Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS)

      HEADLINES:

To tackle flash floods & issue advance warnings, IMD launches guidance system for South Asia

      WHY IN NEWS:

India is leading a delegation of nations, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, in sharing hydrological and meteorological data towards preparing flash flood forecasts.

MINISTRY? :- MOES
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Earth Science : Floods

      ISSUE: 

Data from World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) suggest that across the world, about 5,000 people die annually due to flash floods.

FLASH FLOOD GUIDANCE SYSTEM (FFGS)

LAUNCH

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) launched the South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS)

A dedicated FFGS centre will be established in New Delhi, where weather modelling and analysis of rainfall data observations from member countries will be done.

  • India’s National Disaster Management Authority and the Central Water Commission have also partnered in this system.

AIM

  • The heads of meteorological and hydrological departments of the WMO and the four South Asian countries put forth their views and the urgent need for such a warning system.

The advanced warning system has been developed by US-based Hydrologic Research Centre.

EARLY WARNING

  • Based on the rainfall and potential flooding scenario, flash flood warnings will be issued to respective nations.

Flash flood threat warning will be issued six hours in advance, whereas flood risk warning will be issued 24 hours in advance.

  • Warnings about watershed level will be issued 12 hours in advance.

FLASH FLOODS 

  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), highlighted that the frequency of extreme rainfall events has increased due to climate change and South Asia is highly prone to flash floods.

Forecasting flash floods is very difficult as an event can occur within three to six hours over a localised area and the water run-off quantity is very high.

  • As much as 80 per cent of natural disasters experienced in all these South Asian countries is contributed by erratic weather.
  • Flash floods lead to heavy loss of lives and to property.
  • Flash floods are sudden surges in water levels during or following an intense spell of rain, occuring in a short time duration over a localised area.
  • The flood situation worsens in the presence of choked drainage lines or encroachments obstructing the natural flow of water.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • This year, Southwest Monsoon is likely to withdraw from the entire country by October 28 and subsequently, the Northeast Monsoon will commence over the southern peninsula.
  • The monsoon will retreat from Maharashtra by October 25.
     SOURCES:IE | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

What determines onion prices

      HEADLINES:

What determines onion prices

      WHY IN NEWS:

In back-to-back moves aimed at controlling onion prices, the government has relaxed import norms and now reintroduced stock limits. Why have prices been rising, and how far can these moves check the rise?

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : Acts : Stockpiling : Inflation

      ISSUE: 

Barely a month ago, Parliament had amended the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to exclude onions — besides potatoes, edible oils, oilseed and pulses

WHY HAVE ONION PRICES BEEN RISING?

  • They have been rising since the last week of August, as reports started coming in of massive losses to kharif onions caused by heavy rainfall in north Karnataka.
  • Even Maharashtra farmers, in fact, have suffered more than their usual storage losses — 50-60% as against 30-40% normally.
  • This crop was meant to arrive after September .
  • The crop was expected to feed the markets until the arrival of the kharif crop from Maharashtra towards the end of October.

There are three main onion crops — kharif (June-July sowing, post-October harvest), late kharif (September sowing, post-December harvest), and rabi (December-January sowing, post-March harvest). 

  • The rabi crop has the least moisture content, making it amenable to storage.
  • Farmers, especially in Maharashtra, store it in on-field structures called kanda chawls to protect it from moisture and light.
  • The yearly consumption of onions in India is slated to be 160 lakh tonnes with Maharashtra alone consuming around 4,000-6,000 tonnes per day.

HOW HAS THE GOVERNMENT REACTED TO THIS?

  • The Centre applied the first brakes on rising prices on September 14, when it banned the export of onions.

This was done when the amendment to Essential Commodities Act 1955 took away the power of the government to put stock limits on onions and a few other commodities. 

  • Stock limits have been a potent weapon for controlling prices.
  • But even after the export ban, prices continued to rise due to a supply-demand mismatch.
  • This was followed by the relaxation of import norms to allow easy shipping in from Iran, Turkey and other onion-producing nations.
  • Wholesale traders are now allowed to stock up to 25 tonnes of onion, and retail traders up to 2 tonnes.

WILL IMPORTS HELP BRING PRICES DOWN?

  • The landed cost of onions from Iran at Mumbai port works out to around Rs 35 per kg.
  • Taking into consideration transport, handling and other charges, the final retail cost for such onions come to around Rs 40-45 per kg.
  • Demand for onions from Iran comes from the hotel and hospitality industry rather than from the retail buyer.
  • Such onions, they point out, lack pungency and are larger than Indian ones.

While the imports can see prices move downward in the short term.

  • The real price correction can happen only when the new crop hits the market.That will be only post-November.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR THE NEXT CROP?

  • Farmers and agricultural officers have talked about a dire shortage of onion seeds, which can cast a shadow on the all-important rabi season.

Normally, farmers generate their own seeds by allowing a portion of the crop to flower and then produce seeds.

  • However, this season, they skipped this step and sold their entire crop in view of the good prices being offered.
  • Non-availability of good seeds has caused concerns and the available seeds are being sold at a premium.
     SOURCES:THE IE  | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Tocilizumab

      HEADLINES:

Tocilizumab: initial excitement, disappointing trials, yet trusted by many

      WHY IN NEWS:

On October 21, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study on 243 patients that found tocilizumab was not effective in preventing death in moderately ill, hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Health:Diseases

      ISSUE: 

Doctors are divided on the efficacy of tocilizumab against Covid-19.

  • Tocilizumab is the second drug, after hydroxychloroquine, that had quickly earned global popularity .
  • Tocilizumab was widely used across India for moderately ill Covid-19 patients.

WHAT IS TOCILIZUMAB?

24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

  • It is an immunosuppressant, commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis, and marketed as Actemra by Swiss pharma company Roche.
  • It was repurposed in January to fight severe lung infection in Covid-19 patients.

Once it reached India by April-end, many Indian doctors initially reposed faith in the drug, some even calling it a “miracle drug”.

  • Mumbai had three distributors and each witnessed a queue of 200-300 people daily to buy the drug.

WHAT ARE THE LATEST FINDINGS?

  • New England Journal of Medicine published a study on 243 patients that found tocilizumab was not effective in preventing death in moderately ill patients.

At the end of 14 days, those given tocilizumab had no significant clinical improvements, except fewer serious infections.

  •  Tocilizumab, also known as Atlizumab, was originally designed as an immunosuppressive drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

  • Remdesivir became the first drug to get US FDA approval for Covid-19 treatment.
  • Until now US FDA has only given emergency-use authorisation to treatments for Covid-19.
  • Many doctors find remdesivir effective if used early.

Plasma convalescent therapy too remains under debate.

  • An Indian Council of Medical Research trial (PLACID) on 464 patients in 39 hospitals has found this therapy ineffective in preventing mortality.
  • The steroid dexamethasone and the blood thinner heparin too are being used for treatment of Covid-19.
     SOURCES:THE IE | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

FATF grey list

      HEADLINES:

Pakistan to stay on FATF grey list till 2021

      WHY IN NEWS:

Proposal for on-site inspection fails

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Internal Security : Money Laundering : Hawala

      ISSUE: 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep Pakistan on the “grey list” till the next review of its compliance with the recommendations made in February next year.

24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

  • Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of 27 action items.
  • As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.
  • On-site teams are permitted only after jurisdictions complete their Action Plans.
  • Such visits would signal exit from the grey or black list.
  • It was not supported even by China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

FATF BLACKLISTS

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist is a list of countries that the intergovernmental Organization considers non-cooperative in the global effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
  • By issuing the list, the FATF hopes to encourage countries to improve their regulatory regimes and establish a global set of standards and norms.

FATF BLACKLIST

  • Officially known as High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action.
  • The FATF blacklist sets out the countries that are considered deficient in their anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulatory regimes.
  • The list is intended to serve as a way of negatively highlighting these countries on the world stage.
  • It is a warning of the high money laundering and terror financing risk that they present.

It is extremely likely that blacklisted countries will be subject to economic sanctions.

  • Also , Some other prohibitive measures by FATF member states and other international organizations.
  • The blacklist is a living document and is issued and updated periodically in official FATF reports.
  • The first FATF blacklist was issued in 2000 with an initial list of 15 countries.
  • Since then, the lists have been issued as part of official FATF statements and reports on a yearly, and sometimes twice-yearly, basis.
  • The current FATF blacklist includes two countries: North Korea and Iran.

FATF GREYLIST

  • In addition to its blacklist, the FATF also issues a grey list, officially referred to as Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring.
  • Like the blacklist, countries on the FATF grey list represent a much higher risk of money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • But these countries have formally committed to working with the FATF to develop action plans that will address their  deficiencies.
  • The countries on the grey list are subject to increased monitoring by the FATF.

While grey-list classification is not as negative as the blacklist, countries on the list may still face economic sanctions from institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The grey list is updated regularly as new countries are added or as countries that complete their action plans are removed.
  • The current FATF grey list includes the following countries: Albania, the Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Iceland, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU  | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

CVC amends SOP for procurements

      HEADLINES:

CVC amends SOP for procurements

      WHY IN NEWS:

Maximum tenure of integrity external monitors restricted to three years

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : CVC

      ISSUE: 

CVC restricted the maximum tenure of Integrity External Monitors (IEMs) to three years in an organisation.

REVISION OF SOP 

  • The CVC is tasked with acting against corruption in the government.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission has amended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of “Integrity Pact” in government organisations for procurement activities.
  • The latest order revises the SOP issued in January 2017.

The amended provision states that the choice of IEM should be restricted to officials from the government and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) .

  • Especially , who have retired from positions of the level of Secretary to the Central government or of equivalent pay scale.

ELIGIBILITY NORMS

Officers of the Armed Forces who had retired from the rank equivalent to Lieutenant-General and above could also be considered for appointment.

  • Preference would be given to persons who have worked in any other sector, other than their own, or have worked as CVO [Chief Vigilance Officer] in any organisation.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

The previous corresponding provision stated that the panel could include those already in the panel maintained by the Commission, or they could propose names of other suitable persons.

     SOURCES:THE HINDU | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Australia’s policy for QUAD

      HEADLINES:

A mistake to have left Quad, says Australia

      WHY IN NEWS:

Envoy, however, notes that Australia’s policy does not envision formalising the grouping in any way

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR

      ISSUE: 

India took three years to accept Australia’s request to rejoin the exercises, despite requests from 2017-2020.

AUSTRALIA ADMITS

  • Australia should not have walked out of the Quad, and the Malabar exercises with India- Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell.
  • Referring to his government’s announcement in 2008 that it would not participate in the Quad exercises with India, Japan and the United States.
  • This will be the first such exercise after India signed logistical agreements with all Quad partners, and is expected to see greater interoperability and use of common military platforms.

24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

POSITIVE AGENDA

  • The Quad has a positive agenda , which is about shaping the neighbourhood in which we live, you know, a free, open and resilient Indo- Pacific.

One where, rules and norms apply and one where any disputes are resolved according to international law.

  • India and Australia would continue talks on a trade deal.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Although they would be delayed until after the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was completed later this year, which India decided to walk out from.
  • In the meantime, Australia will continue to engage with India bilaterally on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
     SOURCES:THE HINDU | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Essential Commodities Act 1955 (ECA)

      HEADLINES:

Centre slaps stock limits as onion prices shoot up

      WHY IN NEWS:

Wholesale traders will not be allowed to store more than 25 tonnes of onions, while retailers will be limited to two tonnes only from October 23 till December 31.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Hoarding : Black-marketing

      ISSUE: 

Essential Commodities Act was invoked  to control the inflation

ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT 1955

  • The Essential Commodities Act is an act of Parliament of India which was established to ensure the delivery of certain commodities or products.

The act comes into action if the supply is obstructed owing to hoarding or black-marketing would affect the normal life of the people.

USAGE

  • If the Centre finds that a certain commodity is in short supply and its price is spiking, it can notify stock-holding limits on it for a specified period.

The States act on this notification to specify limits and take steps to ensure that these are adhered to.

  • Anybody trading or dealing in the commodity, be it wholesalers, retailers or even importers are prevented from stockpiling it beyond a certain quantity.

SIGNIFICANCE 

  • It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of commodities .
  • The act it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.

The list of items under the Act include drugs, fertilisers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.

  • The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.
  • Under the Act, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.

ADVANTAGES

The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.

  • It will create a competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.
  • It will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability. #INFLATION

ISSUES WITH ECA

  • It will be a highly centralised law and will infringe upon the States’ powers, as they will not be able to regulate let say the menace of hoarding, black marketing etc.

The stock limit relaxations under the ECA may lead to black marketing and hoarding rather than benefiting the producers.

  • Alternatively , This will lead to increase in inflation and monopoly of few individuals over prices of certain goods.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

RECENT AMENDMENTS

  • The supply of certain foodstuffs was added.
  • It would be issued only under extraordinary circumstances that may include war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature.

There are more mouths to feed and the responsibility of ensuring food security to the masses cannot be shunned.

     SOURCES:THE HINDU  | 24th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

 

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