DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th MAY 2020


World Turtle Day 2020
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Biodiversity
In News:
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) celebrated World Turtle Day recently in India (23rd May, 2020). 
NMCG and WII are project partners in the ‘Biodiversity Conservation Initiative Phase II’. 
Important value additions 
World Turtle Day 
It is an annual event which is celebrated since 2000.
It is organised by the nonprofit Organisation – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR).
It aims to protect the turtles and tortoises from illegal smuggling, exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and pet trade.
The theme for the World Turtle Day 2020 is ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’.
Significance of turtles 
They provide habitat for an array of aquatic creatures like barnacles and other small crustaceans. 
They help to transport these species because they undergo long migrations. 
They also act as sort of an umbrella for fish that use them as shelter from predators.
Turtles play an important role in the river by scavenging dead organic material and diseased fish by controlling the water pollution. 
Status of turtles in India
Five species of Indian turtles along with their IUCN status are as follows: 
Olive Ridley – Vulnerable
Green turtle – Endangered
Loggerhead – Vulnerable
Hawksbill – Critically Endangered
Leather back – Vulnerable

They are protected in Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, under Schedule I.
They are also protected under the Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation programme.
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII)
It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.  
It was established in 1982.
WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, etc.
The institute is based in Dehradun, India. 
Unusual Locusts attack in urban areas of India
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Climate change; Food security
In News:
There have been unusual sightings of swarms of locusts even in urban areas of Rajasthan, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
Key takeaways 
The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper.
It is usually harmless when it is unaccompanied. 
However, locusts undergo a behavioural change when their population builds up rapidly.
They form huge swarms that can travel up to 150 km per day, eating up every bit of greenery on their way.
These insects feed on a large variety of crops.
They can threaten the food security of a country.
In India, locusts are normally sighted during July- October along the Pakistan border.
Their early arrival can be attributed to the following factors:
Cyclonic storms Mekunu and Luban that had struck Oman and Yemen respectively in 2018 had turned large deserts tracts into lakes which facilitated locust breeding. 
Swarms attacking crops in East Africa reached peak populations from November 2019.
The population increased in southern Iran and Pakistan since the beginning of 2020. 
Heavy rains in East Africa in March-April enabled further breeding.
The swarms were aided by high-speed wind and thus they made their way to such urban areas.

Their growth can be controlled by spraying insecticide on locusts’ night resting places like trees.
Till date, the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) has carried out spraying operations in Rajasthan. 
India has also ordered for specialised insecticide sprayers with the UK. 
Drones will also be used to spray the resting places.
Important value additions 
Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) 
It comes under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. 
It is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Image source: Click here 
INST scientists find route to fabricate precisely controlled nanostructures of desired geometry & location on 2D materials
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Science and Technology
In News:
Researchers at Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) Mohali, have found a straightforward and unique route to fabricate precisely controlled nanostructures of desired geometry and location on 2D materials. 
The route is through a rapid one-step low power laser writing process.
INST is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST). 
Key takeaways 
The INST group developed a hybrid Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy(SERS) platform of Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanostructure. 
It was decorated with gold nanoparticles where direct laser writing is used to engineer the artificial edges on the surface of MoS2. 
This created localized hotspots with remarkable precision and control.
A focused laser beam of low power of a conventional Raman spectrometer was used to do nanostructuring on 2D flakes of desired feature size and geometry.
They achieved the minimum feature size of  ̴300nm. 
This technique enhanced the local electromagnetic field leading to formation of hotspots. 
This will open a new avenue for the development of commercialized SERS substrate with a localized detection capability of analytes. 
SERS hybrid platform will also shed new light in the SERS sensing of biological and chemical molecules.
The artificial edges of the 2D layers can be functionalized with an antibody with adequate coating and linkers for the SERS detection of various biomarkers.

Important value additions 
Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) 
It is a surface-sensitive technique that enhances Raman scattering by molecules adsorbed on rough metal surfaces or by nanostructures such as gold. 
The technique may detect single molecules.
Raman spectroscopy 
It is a spectroscopic technique typically used to determine vibrational modes of molecules. 
It is commonly used in chemistry to provide a structural fingerprint by which molecules can be identified.
Kangra Tea
It is grown in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh
It is well known for its unique colour and flavour.
It has got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
It is loaded with antioxidants like catechins and polyphenols. 
It has several health benefits: 
Promotes weight loss
Builds immunity
Improves oral health 
Improves mental alertness

It is also used in making sentizers, soap, vinegar, wine etc.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) 
It was formed in 1960 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. 
It was established for coordinating the speedy development of a network of roads in the North and the North Eastern border regions of the country.
It works under the Ministry of Defence.
It undertakes variety of construction and development works such as airfields, building projects, defence works, etc. 
Chardham Pariyojana
Border Roads Organisation has completed construction of a 440 m long tunnel below the Chamba town on the Rishikesh-Dharasu road highway (National Highway – 94).
The construction is a part of the Chardham Pariyojana.
It is a programme taken up by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for connectivity improvement for Chardham (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri) in Uttrakhand.
The cost of the project is around Rs. 12,000 Crore.
The work under the programme is being implemented on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode.


Topic: General Studies 2:
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

COVID-19: Opportunity for India to deepen its engagement with Africa
Context: Africa Day is observed every year on May 25 to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union). India has been closely associated with it on account of its shared colonial past and rich contemporary ties
Significance of Africa
Africa’s rich natural resources becomes importance in the light of growing global population 
Trade & Investment opportunities, including in energy, mining, infrastructure and connectivity.
Long-term economic potential due to huge market and rising purchasing power
Youthful demography of the region provides much needed human resources 
Political Significance: Africa as a bloc of 54 countries in multi-lateral organisations can play a decisive role in International politics
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Africa
Recession: COVID-19 outbreak has sparked off the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region’s first recession in 25 years.
Unemployment: Growth is expected to plummet to between -2.1 and -5.1 per cent in 2020, from a modest 2.4 per cent in 2019 which leads to more job losses
Deepens Health Crisis: With high rates of HIV, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and malnourishment prevalent in Africa, COVID-19 pandemic will further deepen the health and economic crisis. 
Impacts economic model: The steep decline in commodity prices has spelt disaster for the commodity dependent economies of Nigeria, Zambia and Angola.
Possibility of Increased Public debt: According to the World Bank, the SSA region paid $35.8 billion in total debt service in 2018, 2.1% of regional GDP. This figure is set to increase due to falling revenues & precarious fiscal position of African nations
Forced to seek aid from international Community: Together, African countries have sought a $100 billion rescue package, including a $44 billion waiver of interest payment by the world’s 20 largest economies.
India- Africa Relationship
India-Africa trade reached $62 billion in 2018 compared to $39 billion during 2009-10. 
After South Asia, Africa is the second-largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance with Lines of Credit (LOC) worth nearly $10 billion (42% of the total) spread over 100 projects in 41 countries. 
40% of all training and capacity building slots under the ITEC programme have traditionally been reserved for Africa. 
Approximately 6,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions in five conflict zones in Africa.
To develop closer relations, India launched the first-ever India Africa Defence Ministers conclave in February 2020 on the margins of the Defence Expo 2020.
India provides about 50,000 scholarships to African students each year.
In the wake of pandemic, what can India do to improve its relationship with Africa?
China’s engagement with Africa is huge (annual trade ~ $208 billion) but is increasingly regarded as predatory and exploitative (defective PPE gear by China during Pandemic). This provides an opportunity for India to increase its strategic space in Africa
India could consider structuring a series of virtual summits with African leaders that could both provide a platform for a cooperative response to the pandemic 
The Aarogya Setu App and the E-Gram Swaraj App for rural areas for mapping COVID-19 are technological achievements that could be shared with Africa.
Since the movement of African students to India for higher education has been disrupted, India may expand the e-VidyaBharti (tele education) project to establish an India-Africa Virtual University.
India could also create a new fund for Africa and adapt its grant-in-aid assistance to reflect the current priorities
India could direct new investment projects by Indian entrepreneurs in Africa especially in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.
Quad Plus – US, India, Japan & Australia – can exchange views and propose cooperation with select African countries abutting the Indian Ocean.
The pandemic is a colossal challenge but it may create fresh opportunities to bring India and Africa closer together.
Connecting the dots:
European Union
Asia-Africa Growth Corridor 

Topic: General Studies 2,3:
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
Awareness in the fields of IT

A brewing storm: On Trump vs Twitter
Context: Twitter flagged two of President Trump’s posts as factually inaccurate and he retaliated by threatening to “strongly regulate” or “close down” all social media platforms.
Criticism of Social Media
Outrage is richly rewarding on digital platforms, which has led to rise of conservative politics
Use of social media for provocative politics has led to increased polarisation of society
They have played major role in genocides and election rigging Ex: Cambridge Analytica
The misuse of social media to spread falsehoods that often incite violence has led to law & order issues
Anonymous and decentralised nature of Social media has led to spread of rumours
Increased bullying and rape threats to women via social media
There are also concerns over
Privacy of users
Data misuse
Political bias
Monopoly behaviour due to distorted competition
Tax avoidance 
Infringing on national security: Facebook’s attempt to launch a digital currency Libra has triggered sovereignty concerns among nations.

What is the current conflict all about?
Faced with the criticism of being the platform to spread false news, Twitter wants to increase the credibility of platform by ensuring the political discussion are factually correct.
The intention to ensure all discussions on social media platform are fact-bound and decent is laudatory, but no one body can be the enforcer of this
Given their non-traditional business models and the democratic nature, Social media platforms like twitter are largely unregulated as it is considered as better for Democratic Societies.
The current conflict between the US President and social media platforms is only a component of the ongoing wider debate in the U.S. on the nature of large tech companies. 
Big tech companies in US now wield enormous economic, political and social influence on its users that at times conflicts with State authorities
There is growing Political Consensus about the need for increased regulation of big tech companies
Republicans say social media platforms are anti-conservative. 
Democrats believe some of these platforms are easily manipulated by enemies of the nation and accuse them of unfair trade and labour practices, and call for breaking them up.

Way Ahead
Some reordering of big tech companies is needed given their rising powers to control society
However, freedom of speech should not be constrained in the process of regulating Social media platforms
Twitter did well to call out President Trump, but fake news is an ecosystem by itself and needs socio-political measures to tackle it
Connecting the dots:
Concept of Net neutrality
Equalisation levy 

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.
Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Turtles:
They are protected in Indian Wildlife Protection Act of of 1972, Schedule 3.
Olive Ridley is is given status of vulnerable under IUCN.
Which of the above is/are correct? 
1 only 
2 only 
Both 1 and 2 
Neither 1 nor 2 
Q.2 Which of the following species of Indian Turtles are found in India? 
Green Turtle 
Select the correct code:
1 and 2 only 
1 and 3 only 
3 only 
1,2 and 3
Q.3 Kangra tea is grown in which state of India?
Himachal Pradesh 
Jammu and Kashmir
Q.4 Border Roads Organisation works under which of the following Ministry of Indian government? 
Ministry of Commerce and Industry 
Ministry of Defence 
Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region 
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
Must Read
About India’s trade amid the pandemic:
The Hindu
About the History of Kalapani issue between India & Nepal:
The Hindu
About the need for private players in Health Sector:
The Indian Express

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