UPSC Prelims Daily Current Affairs 03-05-2020

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UPSC Prelims Daily Current Affairs 03-05-2020

  1. China’s central bank digital currency
  2. CRISIL Research Report on Renewable Energy
  3. GI tag for Kashmir Saffron:
  4. One Nation-One Ration Card scheme
  5. Important Solar power Plants in India
  6. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)
  7. American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  8. Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research
  9. IUPAP
  10. International Council for Science
  11. International Centre for Theoretical Physics
  12. Manipur Black rice Chak-Hao
  13. Shramik Special trains
  14. Thrissur Pooram

China’s central bank digital currency

China, which seeks to be the first major economy to launch a digital currency, is to trial a digital yuan in four urban areas – including payments of local government employees’ transportation subsidies.

e- RMB:

  1. The digital currency – known as the e-RMB – “will not be issued in large amounts” for public use in the short term, and the digital currency in circulation would “not lead to an inflation surge”.  
  2. Initially it will be tested in three major cities of Shenzhen, Suzhou and Chengdu.
  3. People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, will be the sole issuer of the digital yuan, initially offering the digital money to commercial banks and other operators.
  4. Public would be able to convert money in their bank accounts to the digital version and make deposits via electronic wallets.

Significance and potential of the project:

China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) project – as the country’s progress towards a digital yuan is known – began in 2014.

Central banks around the world are assessing the feasibility of launching their own digital currencies – so-called ‘central bank digital currencies’ (CBDCs).

The interest in CBDCs is being driven by factors including declining cash use and plans for privately owned ‘stablecoins’, such as Facebook’s proposed Libra.

CRISIL Research Report on Renewable Energy

  • CRISIL Industry research covers 86 sectors and is known for its rich insights and perspectives.
  • It has released its report on renewable energy.
  • According to the report Gujarat and Rajasthan managed to add more capacities than others, while Karnataka retained its Number One position in total installed capacity.
  • Gujarat’s total renewable capacity crossed the 10,000 MW mark in FY20, making it the third State after Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to have more than 10 GW of installed capacity.
  • It added the highest new capacity, of 1,934 MW, followed by Rajasthan, which added 1,911 MW.
  • In terms of overall solar energy capacity addition in FY20, the top three States were Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • In wind energy, the top three were Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
  • However, Karnataka retained its leadership position in total installed capacity during the year.
  • The State has the highest installed capacity for solar at 7,278 MW, up from 6,096 MW a year ago. Its wind energy capacity is at 4,791 MW.

GI tag for Kashmir Saffron:

The Saffron cultivated in the Kashmir valley has received Geographical Indication Tag.

  • It is long, thick and has natural deep red colour. Also, it has high aroma and is processed without adding any chemicals.
  • The colour of the saffron is unique due to the high quantity of crocin. It has a rich flavour because of safranal and the bitterness is due to the presence of
  • The Kashmir Saffron is the only saffron in the world that is grown at an altitude of 1,600 metres.
  • The saffron available in Kashmir is of three types: Lachha Saffron’, ‘Mongra Saffron’ and ‘Guchhi Saffron’.

One Nation-One Ration Card scheme

Context: Five more States join ration card portability.

Bihar, Punjab, UP, Himachal and Daman and Diu have been integrated with the ‘one nation, one ration card’ scheme.

About 60 crore beneficiaries from 17 states and UTs can benefit from the ration card portability and they can purchase the subsidised foodgrains using the existing ration cards.

About the scheme:

One Nation One Ration Card (RC) will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.

Benefits: no poor person is deprived of getting subsidised foodgrains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another. It also aims to remove the chance of anyone holding more than one ration card to avail benefits from different states.

Significance: This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.

Standard format of ‘one nation, one ration card’:

A standard format for ration card has been prepared after taking into account the format used by different states.

  • For national portability, the state governments have been asked to issue the ration card in bi-lingual format, wherein besides the local language, the other language could be Hindi or English.
  • The states have also been told to have a 10-digit standard ration card number, wherein first two digits will be state code and the next two digits will be running ration card numbers.
  • Besides this, a set of another two digits will be appended with ration card number to create unique member IDs for each member of the household in a ration card.

Challenges:

Prone to corruption: Every state has its own rules for Public Distribution System (PDS). If ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ is implemented, it will further boost corruption in an already corrupted Public Distribution System.

The scheme will increase the woes of the common man and, the middlemen and corrupt PDS shop owners will exploit them.

Tamil Nadu has opposed the proposal of the Centre, saying it would result in undesirable consequences and is against federalism.

Important Solar power Plants in India

  • Bhadla Solar Park – It is the world largest solar park as of March 2020 located in India which is spread over a total area of 10,000 acres (45 sq.km) in Bhadla, Phalodi tehsil, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, India. 
  • The park has total capacity of 2,245 MW, The park has witnessed one of the lowest bids for tariff of Rs 2.44 per kWh, which is lowest for solar in India so far.
  • Pavagada Solar Park – Pavagada Solar Park is a solar park covering an area of 13,000 acres (53 sq.km) in Pavagada taluk, Tumkur district, Karnataka.
  • It was completed in 2019, the park has a capacity of 2,050 MW and is the World’s second largest photovoltaic power station after 2245 MW Bhadla Solar Park.
  • Kamuthi Solar Park – It is a photovoltaic power station spread over an area of 2,500 acres (10 sq.km) in Kamuthi, Ramanathapuram district, 90 km from Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.
  • With a generating capacity of 648 MWp at a single location, it is the world’s 12th largest solar park based on capacity.
  • It is one of the world’s largest single location solar power project, It was commissioned by the Adani Group.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)

ContextAcute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has fanned fear among the villagers and health officials of Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown.

At least three children have reportedly died of the disease, locally known as chamki bukhar, in 2020.

About AES:

  • Acute encephalitis syndrome is a basket term used for referring to hospitals, children with clinical neurological manifestation that includes mental confusion, disorientation, convulsion, delirium, or coma.
  • Meningitis caused by virus or bacteria, encephalitis (mostly Japanese encephalitis) caused by virus, encephalopathy, cerebral malaria, and scrub typhus caused by bacteria are collectively called acute encephalitis syndrome.
  • The disease most commonly affects children and young adults and can lead to considerable morbidity and mortality.

Symptoms:

It is characterized as acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) and/or new-onset of seizures in a person of any age at any time of the year.

Cause of the disease:

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is considered a very complex disease as it can be caused by various agents including bacteria, fungi, virus and many other agents.

Viruses are the main causative agents in AES cases, although other sources such as bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, chemicals, toxins and noninfectious agents have also been reported over the past few decades.

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the major cause of AES in India (ranging from 5%-35%).

Nipah virus, Zika virus are also found as causative agents for AES.

How is it related to litchi fruits? How it affects?

In India, AES outbreaks in north and eastern India have been linked to children eating unripe litchi fruit on empty stomachs.

Unripe fruit contain the toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG), which cause vomiting if ingested in large quantities. Hypoglycin A is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the unripened litchi that causes severe vomiting (Jamaican vomiting sickness), while MCPG is a poisonous compound found in litchi seeds.

Why it affects undernourished children?

  • Blood glucose falls sharply causing severe brain malfunction (encephalopathy), leading to seizures and coma, and death in many cases.
  • This is because under-nourished children lack sufficient glucose reserve in the form of glycogen and the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate source is blocked midway leading to low blood sugar level.
  • This causes serious brain function derangement and seizures.

Measures needed:

  1. Increase access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.
  2. Improve nutritional status of children at risk of JE/AES.
  3. Preparative measures to be in place before the possible outbreaks.
  4. Vector control.
  5. Better awareness generation among children, parents through Anganwadi workers, ANMs etc.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States.
  • Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.
  • Membership in the academy is achieved through a thorough petition, review, and election process and has been considered a high honor of scholarly and societal merit
  • The academy was founded during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, and other Founding Fathers of the United States.
  • Today the Academy is charged with a dual function: to elect to membership the finest minds and most influential leaders, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, from each generation, and to conduct policy studies in response to the needs of society.
  • The Academy is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Recently Professor Shobhana Narasimhan from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), has been elected as an International Honorary Member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • She has done significant work on the rational design of nanomaterials, examining how the lowering of dimensionality and reduction of size affect material properties.
  • Her work is relevant for a number of different applications, such as nanocatalysts for clean energy applications, and magnetic materials for memory storage.
  • The list of previous International Honorary Members includes Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela.

Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) is a multidisciplinary research institute located at Jakkur, Bangalore, India.
  • It is an Autonomous institution, CNR Rao founded it in 1989.
  • It was established by the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India, to mark the birth centenary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.

IUPAP

  • The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to assist in the worldwide development of physics, to foster international cooperation in physics, and to help in the application of physics toward solving problems of concern to humanity.
  • It was established in 1922 and the first General Assembly was held in 1923 in Paris.
  • IUPAP is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

International Council for Science

  • The International Council for Science (ICSU, after its former name, International Council of Scientific Unions) was an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the advancement of science.
  • Its members were national scientific bodies and international scientific unions.
  • In 2018, the ICSU merged with the International Social Science Council (ISSC) to form the International Science Council (ISC).
  • In 2017, the ICSU comprised 122 multi-disciplinary National Scientific Members, Associates and Observers representing 142 countries and 31 international, disciplinary Scientific Unions.
  • ICSU also had 22 Scientific Associates.
  • India is a member of ICSU.

International Centre for Theoretical Physics

  • The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) is an international research institute for physical and mathematical sciences that operates under a tripartite agreement between
  1. Italian Government,
  2. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),
  3. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • It is located near the city of Trieste, Italy.
  • The centre was founded in 1964 by Pakistani Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam.

Manipur Black rice Chak-Hao

  • Chak-Hao is scented glutinous rice popularly known as Black Rice which is cultivated in Manipur since centuries and popular to people apart from the State.
  • Recently it has got GI (Geographical Indications) registration.
  • Chak-Hao of Manipur is registered under GI certificate number 364 which application was filled by North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC).
  • However, the whole documentation processed was done by Manipur State Agriculture Department in collaboration with other agencies including Manipur Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium.
  • It is genuinely originated from Manipur and some States contended in the battle.
  • Varieties of its products in different forms are marketed inside and outside Manipur by entrepreneurs.

Kashmir Saffron

  • Kashmir Saffron has been given geographical Indication
  • It is cultivated and harvested in Karewas ( High lands) of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It is the only saffron in the world which is grown at an altitude of 1600m-1800m above the mean sea level.
  • It is grown in Kishtwar, which is popularly known as “The Land of Sapphire and Saffron”.
  • It was introduced in India by central Asian migrants around 1st century BC, It is known as Bahukam in ancient Sanskrit literature ( Amarakosara).
  • Three types of Kashmir saffron are
  1. Lachha Saffron – Stigmas that got separated from the flowers and dried up without any further processing.
  2. Mongra Saffron – Stigmas detached from flower, dried in the sun and then further processed traditionally.
  3. Guchhi Saffron – Stigmas joined together and ties with cloth thread.
  • The Kashmir saffron has unique characteristics which are as follows:
  1. Longer and thicker stigmas
  2. Natural deep-red color of stigmas
  3. High aroma
  4. Bitter flavor (Picrocrocin)
  5. Chemical free processing
  6. High quality of crocin (coloring strength)
  7. High medicinal values.

 Shramik Special trains

  • Indian Railways has launched Shramik Special trains to bring back home people stranded in different parts of the country due to lockdown. 
  • The passengers have to be screened by the sending states and only those found asymptomatic would be allowed to travel.
  • Sending State Governments will have to bring these persons in batches that can be accommodated in the train to the designated Railway Station in sanitized buses.
  •  It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear face cover.

Thrissur Pooram:

  • Known as the festival of festivals, Thrissur Pooram has a tradition of more than 200 years.
  • This spectacular event was started by Sakthan Thampuran, the erstwhile ruler of Kochi.
  • Held on the Moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May), festival related events take place at the Vadakkumnathan temple situated in the heart of Thrissur town and the adjoining Thekkinkadu ground.
  • The pooram festival mainly happens between two groups representing the geographic divisions of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi. They will compete in their respective presentations of richly caparisoned elephants, traditional orchestra called panchavadyam, the swift and rhythmic changing of brightly coloured and sequined parasols called kudamattom and the dazzling fireworks in the early morning hours are the festival highlights.

Why in News?

For the first time since its inception, Thrissur Pooram will be observed with rituals within the temple premises with just a few participants. This was done in the wake of the lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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