26th 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.

“The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra

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.

 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis | Prelims & Mains 2021

Mathematical models : Forecasting COVID-19

      HEADLINES:

Forecasting COVID-19

      WHY IN NEWS:

How are mathematical models being used to predict the dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus?

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Science and Technology
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Health:Diseases

      ISSUE: 

The India National Supermodel Committee recently announced that India had passed its ‘COVID-19 peak’ in September

THE PREDICTIONS

The India National Supermodel Committee, constituted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) .

  • It consisting of mathematicians, computer scientists and medical professionals, recently announced that India had passed its ‘COVID-19 peak’ in September.
  • Also it declared that active infections by the SARS-CoV-2 virus would fall to a ‘minimal’ level by February.
  • The conclusions were arrived at with the help of a mathematical model.

WHAT IS THE ‘NATIONAL SUPERMODEL’?

  • The ‘supermodel’ as one that would aggregate the ‘best of’ existing mathematical models, and hence the name.

Using differential equations, that show how multiple variables, such as infections and deaths vary with respect to one another on different parameters.

  • Modellers try to estimate the fraction of the population which is infected at a particular point in time.

HOW ARE THE PREDICTIONS ARRIVED AT?

  • One of the models used is the susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) model.
  • A given population is divided into three groups: ‘susceptible’, ‘infectious’, and ‘recovered’.
  • Over time, the number of people in each group change.
  • The number of ‘susceptible’ people is highest at the beginning of the pandemic.

EXAMPLE
Since everyone who is not infected is considered susceptible in most cases.

  • At this point, the number of infectious individuals is at its lowest.
  • As time passes, the number of susceptible people decreases, the number of infectious people increases.
  • This model assumes that at any given point of time, an individual in a defined population will be a part of one of these groups.

OVERSIMPLIFIED PROJECTIONS

  • The model’s output is dependent on what is fed into it.
  • In the early months, little was known about the incubation period of the virus, the reproduction number , how lethal it was, etc.
  • With time, data accumulated and improved the models.
  • In the absence of cold numbers, modellers are forced to draw assumptions.

Assumptions like ; the disease spreads, susceptibility of adults vs children- are a mix of judgment and luck.

  • A key differentiator in the ‘supermodel’ was that it purported to account for asymptomatics.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR FINDINGS?

CASELOAD HYPOTHESIS

  • If there were no lockdown, the number of active infections would have peaked at 14+ million and the peak would have arrived by mid-May.
  • There was little qualitative difference between two lockdown timings of April 1 and May 1, 2020.
  • This would have resulted in a peak between 0 and 5 million active infections by mid-June.

If there was no lockdown, it would have resulted in more than 2 million deaths.

  • The two lockdowns (April 1 and May 1, 2020) would have resulted in 0.5-1 million deaths.
  • The number of deaths with current trends is projected to be less than 0.2 million.

IS IT CREDIBLE?

  • It is not clear whether, or how often, the mathematical curve that shows the modelled rise and peak of the number of cases.
  • The peak has been adjusted to fit the actual number of cases.

The model expects a decline and virtual extinguishing of the pandemic on the assumption that existing guidelines on restricting public gatherings, wearing masks, etc.will work.
 

  • The authors have relied on data from a popular, crowd-sourced database,‘covid19india.org’,
  • The major limitation in their model was the non-availability of accurate data.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • While the modelling committee was  a seven-member group.
  • Scientific paper by the same group in the Indian Journal of Medical Research has only three authors — a physician, a mathematician and a computer scientist.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU | 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Super-spreader

      HEADLINES:

How an asymptomatic player turned 

      WHY IN NEWS:

A single index player in a baseball game spread the virus to 20 other players of his team, but probably not on the field

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Health:Diseases

      ISSUE: 

Among 19 of 21 persons infected, symptoms developed an average of 2.3 days after collection of the test-positive sample.

CASE STUDY : BASEBALL MATCHES IN PHILADELPHIA

The importance of testing asymptomatic persons for novel coronavirus has been highlighted here .

  • The import of mitigation strategies to decrease the spread of the virus have been highlighted in a super-spreading event involving team
  • A single index player spread the virus to 20 other players of his team and to one employee of team B.
  • The results were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

HEALTH PROTOCOLS

  • The Major League Baseball developed new health and safety protocols before the July 24 start of the 2020 season .

These include non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mask wearing and social distancing, isolation of the infected and quarantining of close contacts.

  • In addition, the games were played without spectators.
  • Despite multiple mitigation strategies, including that testing of each player , the spread of the virus to other players could not be prevented.
  • This was primarily because the virus spread during the asymptomatic phase of infection.

DAILY TEST RESULT

  • To prevent further spread by asymptomatic players, the Major League Baseball initiated daily testing instead of alternate day testing for all players.
  • Frequent testing helped identify players infected with virus days before they started showing symptoms.
  • Among the 19 of 21 persons with COVID-19 who were symptomatic, symptoms developed an average of 2.3 days after collection of the test-positive sample.

Genome sequencing revealed that 17 of the 18 samples that were sequenced had a single nucleotide variant, revealing that the super-spreading event was from a single index case.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT

  • Social distancing measures have been effective in a variety of settings.
  • This outbreak provides additional support for their use during sporting events, such as baseball games.

Universal mask-wearing policies provided additional protection for all.

  • Consistent adherence to these policies off-field also might have contributed to protecting the communities hosting the games.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU & PIB | 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

First vaccine in India

      HEADLINES:

How the world’s first vaccine came to India

      WHY IN NEWS:

Only a determined vaccination campaign backed by the World Health Organisation, involving the mass mobilisation of health workers and citizens in surveillance and containment measures, secured local eradication of small pox in 1975.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3 : History : Diseases

      ISSUE: 

Small pox was a deadly virus, with a case fatality rate of more than one in four, far higher than Covid.

SMALL POX

OCCURENCE

The vaccine for smallpox, the world’s first vaccine, came to India in 1802.

  • By then, Indians had been living with the disease for centuries.
  • In larger cities, smallpox was ever present.
  • In rural areas, especially in south India, it appeared in epidemic form every few years.
  • In 1798, Edward Jenner, an English physician, published his thesis that inoculation(vaccination) of cowpox.
  • A pustular(reddish, scaly, pus-filled bumps) disease found on the udders of cows.
  • Clinical trials in London in 1799 confirmed his experiments, and over the following year as it was first termed, began to win acceptance in England.

It also attracted interest overseas, including in colonial India.

  • Jenner regarded his discovery as a global good and sought to make the vaccine freely available worldwide.
  • The problem was that cowpox was rare even in England.

SMALL POX VACCINE IN INDIA

  • From 1800 onwards, Jenner and others sent vaccine samples by sea to India, but the vaccine had a short shelf life, especially in hot and humid climates.
  • Early in 1802, improvements in packaging made it possible to send viable vaccine from Vienna to Baghdad.
  • A British surgeon propagated fresh vaccine on local children for transmission to Bombay.

The first vaccination in India took place in June 1802.

  • The patient was Anna Dusthall, a young, mixed-race girl in then Bombay.
  • From there, Small pox vaccine travelled town to town down the Malabar coast, up to Madras, and thence by sea to Calcutta.

IMMUNIZATION PROGRAM

The live vaccine was maintained by vaccinating children in one place and then escorting them to another district to go arm-to-arm with children there.

  • All the vaccinations in India for about 20 years were from stock derived from the girl in Bombay.
  • Large-scale vaccination took place in the British areas of control.
  • In the presidency of Madras, Indian practitioners were paid for the numbers vaccinated.
  • Swamy Naik, an army surgeon, clocked up 900,000 vaccinations during his career, probably a world record.

CHALLENGES

  • There were inevitable challenges in establishing the practice across India.
  • Texts on vaccination were translated into Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil and other languages.

There was some hope initially that Hindus would welcome the association with the cow.

  • While many Brahmins endorsed the new practice.
  • There was naturally a great deal of hesitancy about inoculating an animal disease and passing it from body to body across religious and caste lines.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • In the first decade of the practice, there were over a million vaccinations in India.
  • India became a centre of vaccination activity, spreading the practice around the Indian Ocean and southeast Asia region, and conducting new experiments in delivery.
  • Over the following 150 years, hundreds of millions of Indians were vaccinated .

However, with a growing and more mobile population, logistical problems and vaccination failures, mistrust of western medicine and sheer apathy.

  • Smallpox remained a major public health issue at the time of Independence.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU & PIB | 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Licensed Spectrum Access (LSA)

      HEADLINES:

New wireline telephone numbers to be allocated on basis of actual utilisation

      WHY IN NEWS:

The data on total utilisation of numbers allocated in the past shall have to be verified by the regional Licensed Spectrum Access (LSA) unit of the DoT in which the operator is present.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Communication : TRAI

      ISSUE: 

Only after at least 80 per cent of access codes or telephone numbers allocated in the past have been utilised by way of activation of such numbers, will new numbers be allocated.

LICENSED SPECTRUM ACCESS (LSA)

  • In an effort to streamline the allocation of access service code and weed out inactive wireline telephone numbers allocated to telcos, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has modified its process.
  • DoT said the new numbers would be allocated only on the basis of actual utilisation to date.

The data on total utilisation of numbers allocated in the past shall have to be verified by the regional Licensed Spectrum Access (LSA)

  • LSA is a unit of the DoT in which the operator is present.

80 per cent limit of the access codes should have been utilised. Then new numbers will be allocated.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • As of July 31, India had a total of 116.4 crore telephone subscribers.
  • Of which less than 2 crore were wireline subscribers, according to data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
     SOURCES:THE HINDU & PIB | 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Rice and Wheat exports

      HEADLINES:

How free grain is helping mills, lifting exports

      WHY IN NEWS:

To what extent is the cheap/free wheat and rice, especially under PMGKAY, actually being diverted to the open market, instead of going to the intended beneficiaries?

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Food Security

      ISSUE: 

FCI has fixed the minimum price of its wheat for open market sales to bulk consumers at Rs 2,135/quintal.

LIFTING EXPORTS

  • India produced an estimated 107.59 million tonnes (mt) of wheat this year.
  • In April-June , 38.99 mt or over 36% was bought by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies.

THE POSSIBLE REASONS

If bagged wheat is being delivered in southern mills today at Rs 1,900-2,000/quintal – as against Rs 2,400-2,500 a year ago – there could be three reasons.

1.LOW MSP FOR DIFFERENT STATES :

  • Nearly 85% of the government’s 38.99 mt wheat procurement this time was from just Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. 
  • The other states do not get equal representation and share.

2.DEMAND

  • Roughly 80% of India’s wheat goes to stone chakki mills that grind the kernels into whole flour or atta.
  • The balance is processed by roller flour mills.

Refined maida flour is used in eateries and sweetshops – that were shut during the lockdown.

  • But maida is also an ingredient in bread, biscuits, cookies and noodles, whose consumption at homes has, if anything, gone up.
  • Wheat demand overall is unlikely to have plummeted.

3.LEAKAGE

  • About 94.63 mt of grain (36.82 mt wheat and 57.80 mt rice) being offered virtually free.

The diverted quantities would inevitably depress rates in the open market as well.

RICE EXPORTS

  • Indian exporters are currently shipping out basmati rice at $ 700-800 per tonne.

The growth is coming from non-basmati, where a combination of Covid-induced panic buying and drought in Thailand has led to surge in global demand.

  • Parboiled rice with 5% broken grains from India is going at $ 370 per tonne, below the $ 450 from Thailand.

26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

  • Even white rice with 25% brokens from India is quoting at $ 330-335, compared to the $ 370-380 per tonne prices of Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand.
     SOURCES:THE IE | 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS)

      HEADLINES:

To maximise liquidity for MSMEs, govt may extend credit scheme deadline

      WHY IN NEWS:

Banks have sanctioned 62.52 per cent of the targeted Rs 3 lakh crore under the ECLGS for stressed MSMEs, while disbursements were at 45.38 per cent of the total amount as of October 5, up from 47.7 per cent sanctions and 32.9 per cent disbursements recorded as on August 12

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Scheme

      ISSUE: 

Launched on May 23, the ECLGS is open until October 31 or until Rs 3 lakh crore has been sanctioned, whichever is earlier.

EMERGENCY CREDIT LINE GUARANTEE SCHEME (ECLGS)

  • The government plans to extend the deadline for Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) for MSMEs beyond October 31.

Banks have sanctioned 62.52 per cent of the targeted Rs 3 lakh crore under the ECLGS for stressed MSMEs.

  • The disbursements were at 45.38 per cent of the total amount as of October 5, up from 47.7 per cent sanctions and 32.9 per cent disbursements recorded as on August 12.

ECGS

IMPLEMENTATION

  • The National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd (NCGTC) is implementing this scheme.

It is running an aggressive campaign this month to enable increased funding to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

  • The NCGTC has increased its outreach substantially this month.

OBJECTIVE

The idea is put the entire Rs 3 lakh crore to use so that liquidity can reach the maximum number of enterprises. 

  • Loan sanctions have picked up after individuals were allowed to take benefit.

OUTLAY

As on October 5, 12 public sector banks, 24 private banks and 31 NBFCs sanctioned Rs 1.87 lakh crore under the scheme.

  • While public sector banks (PSBs) sanctioned loans of Rs 81,648 crore, private bank sanctions were Rs 95,510 crore.

BENEFICIARIES

  • Rs 1.36 has been disbursed to 27.37 lakh borrowers.
  • The amount of loan sanctions by private banks continued to remain higher when compared to state-owned ones.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The Centre had amended the ECLGS scheme in August to cover individual entrepreneurs, who run a large chunk of the over 6.3 crore MSMEs across the country.
  • This enabled NBFCs to provide funding to borrowers who mostly take loans in their individual capacity.

EXAMPLE
Truck drivers, small shopkeepers, taxi drivers, lawyers, agriculture equipment owners and doctors and engineers with loans on equipment.

     SOURCES:THE HINDU | 26th Oct Current Affairs News Analysis

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