Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 7th July 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 7th July 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Contents:

  1. SDG index for the year 2020
  2. Annual MGNREGA Work Limit:
  3. Compulsory Licensing
  4. New National Logistics Law
  5. Performance Assessment of Highways by NHAI
  6. Other important current affairs

1.SDG index for the year 2020 :

Sweden is placed at the top of the latest SDG index for the year 2020 with an overall score of 84.7.

  • The Sustainable Development Report 2020 presents the SDG Index and Dashboards for all UN member states.
  • It was prepared by teams of independent experts at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
  • The SDG index frames the implementation of 17 SDG goals among UN member states in terms of six broad transformations: (1) Education and skills, (2) health and wellbeing, (3) clean energy and industry, sustainable land use, sustainable cities, and digital technologies.
  • Among 193 countries for which the SDG index was prepared, India stands at the 117th position with an overall score of 61.92. China is ranked at 48, Brazil at 53 and Russia at 57.
  • In south Asia, Maldives is ranked at 91, Sri Lanka at 94, Nepal at 96 Bangladesh at 109 and Pakistan at 134.

 

2.Annual MGNREGA Work Limit:

According to the central scheme database of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA), at least 1.4 lakh poor rural households have completed their quota of 100 days of work for the first three months of the year.

  • Therefore, they will not be eligible for further benefits under the rural employment guarantee scheme for the rest of the year. Related Data:
  • Overall, 23 lakh households have already completed 60 days of work.
  • Another seven lakh households have completed 80 days and are on the verge of running out of work.
  • With almost 60,000 households that have completed 100 days of work, Chhattisgarh has the highest rate among States, followed by Andhra Pradesh with almost 24,500 households in this category.
  • However, Andhra Pradesh maintains its own database showing that 8.6% of all beneficiary households in the State have already completed 100 days of work.

Related Issues:

  • Impact of Covid-19 pandemic: Due to Covid-19, the nationwide lockdown has resulted in thousands of unemployed migrant workers returning to their villages and now dependent on MGNREGA wages.
  • Increase in Demand for Work: The demand for MGNREGA work almost doubled in June as there is no other work available for many people.
  • The construction sector, which usually absorbs a large number of workers, has also collapsed.
  • Monsoon Season: In many areas, monsoon is the hungry season and many people are desperate for work and dependent on MGNREGA wages.
  • It is also expected that in December the situation would be worse especially for women, elderly and disabled and tribals when agriculture work is over and there will be no work from MGNREGA.

 

3. Compulsory Licensing:

Issue compulsory licenses for the manufacture of an affordable generic version of Remdesivir, CPI(M) tells govt.

  • It said the government should invoke Clause 92 of the Patent Act that allows it to issue compulsory licenses so that Indian manufacturers can produce a more affordable generic version.
    Need for:
  • Gilead Sciences’ anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients.
  • Media reports indicate that the U.S., which is hoarding all drugs found to be useful in combating the pandemic, has bought the entire stock of Remdesivir from Gilead for the next three months.
  • It will therefore not be available for the rest of the world.
  • Besides, while the cost of manufacturing Remdesivir for a full course as worked out by experts is less than $10 or ₹750 in the U.S. And about ₹100 in India. Gilead, by virtue of its patent monopoly, is holding the world to ransom by asking a price that is hundreds of times its cost.

A compulsory license is a license or authorization issued by the government to an applicant for making, using, and selling a patented product or employing a patented process without the consent of the patentee.

  • Chapter XVI of the Indian Patents Act 1970 and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights discuss compulsory licensing.
  • The application for the compulsory license can be made any time after 3 years from the date of the sealing of a patent.
  • India’s first-ever compulsory license was granted by the Patent Office on March 9, 2012, to Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma for the production of a generic version of Bayer’s Nexavar, an anti-cancer agent used in the treatment of liver and kidney cancer.

Given the uncertainty over access to treatments for COVID-19, several countries have been laying the legislative groundwork to issue compulsory licenses for products that patent holders refuse to make accessible.

 

4.New National Logistics Law:

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is considering replacing the Multimodal Transportation of Goods Act, 1993 (MMTG) with a National Logistics Efficiency and Advancement Predictability and Safety Act (NLEAPS).

  • MMTG provides for the regulation of multimodal transportation of goods from any place in India to any place outside India.
  • Multimodal transportation refers to a combination of more than one mode of movement, such as rail, road or sea, for end-to-end delivery of goods.
  • It was introduced to facilitate the exporters and give them a sense of security in transporting their goods.
  • Aim: NLEAPS aims to streamline the logistics ecosystem in the country, with a view to promoting the growth of the sector.
  • Modernize and formalize the logistics services and promote digitization in the sector, which is key for the smooth movement of goods.
  • To reduce the logistics cost from the present 14% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to less than 10% of GDP.
  • The new law tends to define various participants of the logistics sector and create a light regulatory ecosystem.
  • There is no clear definition of the logistics sector in the MMTG.
  • The logistics sector with a market size of USD 160 billion is complex, with more than 20 government agencies, 40 partnering agencies, 37 export promotion councils, 500 certifications, and 10,000 commodities.

Logistics Performance Index

  • The Logistics Performance Index (LPI), developed by the World Bank Group, is an interactive benchmarking tool created to help countries identify the challenges and opportunities they face in their performance on trade logistics and what they can do to improve their performance.
  • The logistics performance (LPI) is the weighted average of the country’s scores on the six key dimensions:
    • The efficiency of the clearance process (i.e., speed, simplicity, and predictability of formalities) by border control agencies, including customs.
    • Quality of trade and transport-related infrastructure (e.g., ports, railroads, roads, information technology).
    • Ease of arranging competitively priced shipments.
    • Competence and quality of logistics services (e.g., transport operators, customs brokers).
    • Ability to track and trace consignments.
    • Timeliness of shipments in reaching destinations within the scheduled or expected delivery time.

 

5.Performance Assessment of Highways by NHAI:

Recently, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to undertake performance assessment and ranking of the highways in the country.

  • The assessment activity majorly intended to improve the quality of roads in the country.
  • The criteria for the assessment have been broadly categorized into three main heads namely, Highway Efficiency (45%), Highway Safety (35%), and User Services (20%).
  • Additionally, important parameters like operating speed, time is taken at the toll plaza, road signages, road markings, accident rate, illumination, availability of Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMs), the functionality of structures, cleanliness, plantation, wayside amenities, and customer satisfaction will also be considered while conducting the assessment.
  • Apart from the overall ranking of all the corridors, separate ranking for Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) and Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) projects will also be done..
  • BOT is a conventional PPP model in which a private partner is responsible to design, build, operate (during the contracted period) and transfer back the facility to the public sector.
  • In the case of HAM, the central government bears 40% of the project cost and the remaining amount is arranged by the developer.
  • Under the EPC model, the cost is completely borne by the government.
  • The ranking of the corridors will be dynamic and the operators will get the opportunity to improve upon their ranking by improving the services on that corridor.

National Highway Authority of India

  • National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was set up under the NHAI Act, 1988.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • It has been entrusted with the National Highways Development Project, along with other minor projects for development, maintenance, and management.
  • National Highways Development Project (NHDP) is a project to upgrade, rehabilitate, and widen major highways in India to a higher standard.
  • The project was started in 1998.
  • NHAI maintains the National Highways network to global standards and cost-effective manner and promotes economic well being and quality of life of the people.

 

Other important current affairs:

1. India should remain on high alert against locust attack for the next four weeks, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned amid the country facing the worst locust attack in 26 years.

  • The FAO has three categories of Desert Locust situations: outbreak, upsurge, and plague.
  • The current locust attack (2019-2020) has been categorized as an upsurge.
  • The last major plague was in 1987-89 and the last major upsurge was in 2003-05.
  • An outbreak occurs when locusts rapidly increase in number and form groups, bands and swarms in an area of about 50 km by 50 km in one part of a country.
  • An upsurge usually occurs when locusts are able to breed uncontrolled for several successive seasons. This causes the formation of further hopper bands and adult swarms. This generally affects an entire region.
  • A plague is defined as a period of one or more years of widespread and heavy infestations, the majority of which occur as bands or swarms. A major plague exists when two or more regions are affected simultaneously.

2.US President Donald Trump chose Mount Rushmore for his Independence Day speech this year. It was symbolic at a time when the country has been rocked by anti-racism protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial is centered on a colossal sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States.
  • The sculpture features the 60-foot heads of U.S. Presidents
  • George Washington (1732–1799),
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826),
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).
  • The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively.
  • South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture’s design and oversaw the project’s execution from 1927 to 1941.
  • Mount Rushmore, sometimes referred to as the “Shrine of Democracy”, was constructed with the intention of symbolizing “the triumph of modern society and democracy.”

3. The legal and legislative committee of Kuwait’s National Assembly has approved the draft expat (expatriate) quota bill.

  • According to the bill, Indians should not exceed 15% of the population and if it is enacted into law, over 8 lakh Indians could be forced out of Kuwait.
  • Kuwait is a country located in the Persian Gulf region.
  • The draft expat quota bill has been deemed constitutional and will be transferred to the respective committee so that a comprehensive plan is created.
  • Lawmakers and government officials including the Prime Minister of Kuwait have been calling to reduce the number of expats from 70% to 30% of the population.
  • The draft law will impose a cap on the number of expats and gradually reduce them by almost 5% on a yearly basis.

4. Scientists have identified a new strain of the Swine Flu (H1N1) virus namely, G4 EA H1N1. It has started infecting Chinese pigs and also has the potential of triggering a pandemic.

  • G4 EA H1N (also known as G4) replicates efficiently in human airway paths and so far, has infected a few people without actually making them ill.
  • Thus, greater vigilance in monitoring people is needed because humans have no inbuilt immunity against this new strain of the virus, much like SARS-CoV-2.
  • Most countries have their own disease surveillance mechanisms in place to monitor and track emerging diseases.
  • It helps to evaluate the risk of a particular pathogen on the community, based on the cases occurring, and warn of potential risks from that pathogen.
  • India has the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) to strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based and IT enabled disease surveillance systems for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends.
  • It was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in assistance with the World Bank, in 2004.
    Closely studying a pathogen yield valuable information on the transmission, and behavior of the organism.

 

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