UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 02-April-2020

Major Topics Covered :


  1. DOLLAR SWAP AGREEMENT

  2. CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON ANDAMAN’s INDEGENEOUS TRIBE

  3. NEW EXPERIMENTAL DRUG FOR COVID-19

  4. NATUNA ISLAND DISPUTE

  5. COATING DEVELOPED BY JNCASR MAY PREVENT TRANSMISSION OF INFECTION

  6. 'FORCE MAJEURE', 'ACT OF GOD' & 'DOCTRINE OF FRUSTRATION' UNDER INDIAN CONTRACT ACT

  7. KABUL GURUDWARA ACT

  8. KASHMIR IN UNSC

  9. J&K DOMICILE RULES


DOLLAR SWAP AGREEMENT

Why in news?

  • The US Federal Reserve on Tuesday gave the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as well as all other central banks, currency swap facility to help them fund their dollar requirements. The facility was so far extended to select central banks that did not include the RBI or the People’s Bank of China.


Highlights:

  • The Fed’s move is a very positive and accommodative step and will help stabilize markets, reduce volatility, and ease pressure on currencies such as the rupee, said analysts.

  • The facility, effective 6 April, will be in place for at least six months, the Fed said.

  • The RBI had expressed the desire for a currency swap agreement with the Fed because of the pressure on the rupee over the last couple of weeks.

  • With the currency swap option being given to central banks and other international monetary authorities, they can now enter repurchase agreements with the Fed and temporarily exchange their US treasuries held with it for US dollars.


Source : Livemint



CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON ANDAMAN’s INDEGENEOUS TRIBE

Why in news?

  • The Andaman Islands, home to the Jarawa, Onge and Shompen indigenous people, whose low natural immunity makes them particularly vulnerable to diseases, have recorded several coronavirus cases directly linked to the religious congregation in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz, organized by Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement.


Highlights:

  • In the past week, the islands have seen an alarming rise in infections since reporting the first case on 26 March.

  • Confirmed cases currently stand at 10 with more than 1,500 under home and special quarantine.

  • Experts said the current situation poses a grave risk to the tribes, especially the Jarawas who live in tribal reserves barely 100km from capital Port Blair, where most infections have been reported.

  • In past measles epidemic had impacted the Jarawa tribe. The Jarawas, numbering around 300 today, have survived the outbreak twice. In the first, in 1999, 108 Jarawa were known to have been infected but there were no reports of fatalities. There was a second outbreak in 2006 but it is not clear how many contracted the disease.

  • The Great Andamanese were once the most numerous of the five, with an estimated population of 6,000, but only around 50 survive today, most succumbing to diseases brought in by colonial settlers British rule. Diseases, mainly syphilis, claimed many lives of the Great Andamanese, driving them to near extinction


Source : Livemint



NEW EXPERIMENTAL DRUG FOR COVID-19

Why in news?

  • MIT scientists have designed a drug candidate that they say may block coronaviruses' ability to enter human cells, an advance that could help develop a possible treatment for COVID-19. 


Highlights:

  • The potential drug is a short protein fragment, or peptide, that mimics a protein found on the surface of human cells, the researchers said. 

  • They have shown that their new peptide can bind to the viral protein that coronaviruses use to enter human cells, potentially disarming it, according to the findings published on BioRxiv, an online preprint server. 

  • The researchers have sent samples of the peptide to collaborators who plan to carry out tests in human cells. 

  • The team began working on this project in early March, after the Cryo-EM structure of the coronavirus spike protein, along with the human cell receptor that it binds to, was published by a research group in China. 

  • Coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which is causing the current COVID-19 outbreak, have many protein spikes protruding from their viral envelope. Studies of SARS-CoV-2 have also shown that a specific region of the spike protein, known as the receptor binding domain, binds to a receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2).


Source : Deccan Herald



NATUNA ISLAND DISPUTE

Why in news?

  • China sparked a major maritime confrontation with Indonesia near the South China when dozens of Chinese fishing vessels, along with a coast guard escort, entered waters off the Natuna Islands, which are within Jakarta’s exclusive economic zone but are also claimed by China. 


Highlights:

  • Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Indonesia claims a 200 nautical mile EEZ, including exclusive fishing rights, around Natuna. China is also a party to UNCLOS.

  • Indonesia divides its waters into 11 fishing management areas according to its Indonesian acronym: WPP. Natuna Sea or WPP 711 includes the waters around the Indonesian islands of Natuna. It is located at the western tip of West Kalimantan province, but administratively it’s a regency under the Riau Islands province east of Sumatra.

  • The problem is China maintains that they have ‘traditional fishing rights’ there. Lately they also mentioned ‘maritime rights,’ although they never detail what these terms entail

  • Jakarta, meanwhile, has strongly rejected those arguments. 

  • China’s claims to the exclusive economic zone on the grounds that its fishermen have long been active there… have no legal basis and have never been recognized by the UNCLOS 1982.

  • According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, the potential fish catch in the Natuna Sea is around 961,145 tonnes.


Source : Hindu and The Diplomat



COATING DEVELOPED BY JNCASR MAY PREVENT TRANSMISSION OF INFECTION

Why in news?

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institution under the Department of Science and Technology, has developed a one-step curable anti-microbial coating which, when coated on different surfaces such as textile, plastic and so on could kill a range of virus types including COVID 19.


Highlights:

  • This covalent coating has been found to completely kill influenza virus as well as resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and fluconazole-resistant C. albicans spp.

  • The recent outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has created an unprecedented stir in the global public health. Corona virus, like influenza, is also an enveloped virus. Therefore it is anticipated that the coating may inactivate SARS-CoV-2 upon contact and can help prevent contamination if coated on various surfaces.

  • The molecules developed have an ability to chemically cross-link with different surfaces upon UV irradiation. Upon the formation of the coating, it has been shown to permeabilize the membranes of pathogens (i.e. bacteria) leading to their inactivation.


Source : PIB



'FORCE MAJEURE', 'ACT OF GOD' & 'DOCTRINE OF FRUSTRATION' UNDER INDIAN CONTRACT ACT

Why in news?

  • "Force Majeure" or "Act of God" - this standard clause present in most contracts, which is not commonly invoked, is in the minds of most corporates and commercial lawyers, as economic activities and commercial transactions world over have come to a standstill in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.


Highlights:

  • 'Force Majeure' clause is a provision in a contract that exempts a party from performing his contractual obligations which have become impossible or impracticable due to an event or effect which the parties could not have foreseen or controlled. This clause is usually couched in general, inclusive terms to cover unforeseeable incidents such as natural calamities, war, sudden change of government policies etc.

  • Indian Contract Act, 1872 - the 148 year old law governing contracts in India - does not expressly refer to 'Force Majeure'. However, there are two Sections which can become relevant in such situations - Section 32 and Section 56.

  • Section 32 deals with "contingent contracts", in which the performance of the contractual obligations is contingent on the happening or non-happening of an event. If the event becomes "impossible", the contract becomes "void" under this Section.

  • Section 56 embodies the "doctrine of frustration".

It says :

  • An agreement to do an act impossible in itself is void.

  • A contract to do an act which, after the contract is made, becomes impossible, or by reason of some event which the promisor could not prevent, unlawful, becomes void when the act becomes impossible or unlawful.


Source : Livelaw



KABUL GURUDWARA ACT

Why in news?

  • Days after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Kabul gurdwara attack last week that killed 27, the National Investigation Agency on Wednesday registered a case to begin investigation into the attack.


Highlights:

  1. The agency has registered a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act as well as the NIA Act "and started investigation into the recent terrorist attack on a Gurudwara at Kabul, Afghanistan."

  2. On 25 March, unidentified gunmen had stormed into a Gurudwara in Shor Bazar area in Kabul Afghanistan and fired indiscriminately killing 27 people and injuring several others.

  3. This is the first case which NIA has registered following recent amendments in the NIA Act which have empowered the agency to investigate terror cases outside India "against Indian Citizens or affecting the interest of India."


Source : Livemint



KASHMIR IN UNSC

Why in news?

  • Pakistan, which has time and again raked up Kashmir at different forums, once again wrote to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), invoking the COVID-19 crisis and describing the ‘dire humanitarian situation’ in Jammu and Kashmir


Highlights:

  • Qureshi, in his letter, rejected India’s ‘false sense of normalcy’ in the Valley and also highlighted ‘intensified’ ceasefire violations (CFVs) by Indian forces on the Line of Control (LoC) since December.

  • Accusing India of posing threat to peace and security in South Asia due to its actions in Kashmir, Qureshi also suspected that India would stage a ‘false-flag’ operation to divert attention from the situation in Kashmir.

  • Earlier this month, Pakistan had also raked up Kashmir during a video conference of SAARC nations called and chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strategise a joint response to the coronavirus crisis.

  • China ignored the plea by Pakistan for “urgent and appropriate” consideration of Pakistan’s contention.


Source : Times of India



J&K DOMICILE RULES

Why in news?

  • The Union government has issued a notification defining “domiciles” in the new Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir for protecting jobs in the Group D category and entry-level non-gazetted posts for the domiciles.


Highlights:

  • The order defines a domicile as one “who has resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th /12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K or who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants).

  • The order says the domiciles will be eligible “for the purposes of appointment to any post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level 4”. 


Source : Hindu


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