UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 07-April-2020

Major Topics Covered :

  1. RAGHURAM RAJAN ON COVID – 19

  2. MAHADAYI WATER PROJECT

  3. UKRAINE BATTLES FOREST FIRE

  4. GRADED PLAN

  5. HOW COUNTRIES ARE DEALING WITH THE SURGE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNDER COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

  6. TIGER TESTS COVID-19 POSITIVE IN US

  7. CATS CAN INFECT EACH OTHER WITH CORONAVIRUS: STUDY


RAGHURAM RAJAN ON COVID – 19

Why in news?

  • Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has suggested to the government to call people with proven expertise and capabilities, including from opposition parties, to deal with perhaps the greatest emergency being faced by the country since Independence following the coronavirus outbreak. 


Highlights:

  • He also cautioned that driving everything from the Prime Minister's Office, with the same overworked people, may not be of much help. 

  • The government should call on people with proven expertise and capabilities, of whom there are so many in India, to help it manage its response. It may even want to reach across the political aisle to draw in members of the opposition who have had experience in previous times of great stress like the global financial crisis. 

  • The immediate priority is to suppress the spread of the pandemic through widespread testing, rigorous quarantines and social distancing. 

  • India should now plan for what happens after the lockdown, if the virus is not defeated. 

  • India needs to ensure that the poor and non-salaried lower-middle class, who are prevented from working for longer periods, can survive.


Source : Economic Times ( https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/rajan-urges-govt-to-invite-experts-to-deal-with-economic-impact-of-covid-19/articleshow/74997929.cms )



MAHADAYI WATER PROJECT

Why in news?

  • The ₹500 crore allocation in the State Budget for the Kalasa–Banduri Nala under the Mahadayi project, on the heels of the Supreme Court verdict allowing the State to go ahead with the works in the basin after getting necessary approvals, has brought cheer to farmers. However, officials say the road ahead is not very clear.


Highlights:


About the River :

  • The Mahadayi originates in the Western Ghats and flows 35 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa. The downstream state constitutes a large part of the river’s catchment (78 per cent), which also includes runoff from Maharashtra, although the main stem of the river does not flow through that state. Maharashtra, as a result, is also party to the water-sharing dispute


The Dispute :

  • Karnataka side

  • Mahadayi or Mandovi river is said to be the life line of Goa, about two-third of it flows in Goa. Two of its tributaries are Kalasa & Banduari nalas. Karnataka wants to construct dams across the Kalasa and banduri and divert water to Malprabha river which flows in the Belgaum District. This diversion of water will cater to the drinking water needs of villages and towns of Belgaum, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Gadag districts.

Goa side

  • This diversion has been opposed by Goa. Goa claims the transfer of water violates the National Water Policy, which does not allow transfer of water from a deficient basin. In their correspondence with the Union water resources ministry, Goa said its annual demand for water in 2050 would be 2,674 mcm, which is much more than the river’s usable yield.

  • Goa depends upon the flow of River Mahadoyi for keeping its Zuari River navigable till the Mormugao harbor in Panaji.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mahadayi-water-project-fund-and-approvals-a-matter-of-concern-despite-budget-bonanza/article31013949.ece?homepage=true )


UKRAINE BATTLES FOREST FIRE

Why in news?

  • Ukrainian firefighters tried to put out two forest blazes in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power station, which was evacuated because of radioactive contamination after the 1986 explosion at the plant.


Highlights:

  • Ukraine’s emergencies service said one of the fires, covering about 12 acres, had been localized. It said the other fire was about 50 acres.

  • The fires were within the 2,600-square-kilometer Chernobyl Exclusion Zone established after the 1986 disaster at the plant that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe.

  • The zone is largely unpopulated, although about 200 people have remained despite orders to leave.

  • Experts said radiation levels at the fire were substantially higher than normal. But the emergencies service said radiation levels in the capital of Kyiv, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south, were within norms.


Source : India Today ( https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/forest-fire-breaks-out-near-chernobyl-nuclear-plant-1663864-2020-04-06 )



TRUMP REQUESTS PM MODI TO RELEASE HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE ORDERED BY U.S.

Why in news?

  • U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release the amount of Hydroxychloroquine ordered by the United States after India last month banned the drugs for exports.


Highlights:

  • India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade on March 25 banned the export of Hydroxychloroquine but said that certain shipments on humanitarian grounds may be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

  • With more than three lakh confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and over 8,000 fatalities, the U.S. has emerged as the worst sufferers of the deadly coronavirus diseases to which there has been no cure. 

  • Based on some initial results, the Trump administration is banking heavily on using Hydroxychloroquine, a decades old malaria drug, for the successful treatment of coronavirus.

  • Following a quick provisional approval from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration last Saturday, the malaria drug along with a combination of some other drug is being used in the treatment of about 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York.

  • According to Trump, the drug is yielding positive results. If successful, he told reporters that it would be a gift from heaven.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trump-requests-pm-modi-to-release-hydroxychloroquine-ordered-by-us/article31261271.ece?homepage=true )



GRADED PLAN

Why in news?

  • As India entered the 13th day of its 21-day lockdown imposed to curb coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday asked Union ministers to prepare a “graded plan” to slowly open up areas that have not emerged as hotspots of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Highlights:

  • The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the council of ministers via video-conferencing.

  • On COVID-19’s impact on the economy, PM Modi said that the government must work on war-footing to mitigate the effects, adding that ministries should prepare a business continuity plan

  • He noted that a graded plan to slowly open departments where hotspots aren’t existing should be made.

  • Over 80 per cent of the total positive COVID-19 cases in the country have been traced to 62 districts. Government sources say restrictions are likely to continue in these districts after the nationwide lockdown ends on April 14.

  • Before this too, the Prime Minister, during an interaction with Chief Ministers last week, had asked them to “formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends”.

  • Modi had suggested that some days could be earmarked for vehicles, other days for cyclists, and that fewer people should be in offices. He told the Chief Ministers that the country may need to enforce social distancing at least until Diwali.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/india/prepare-graded-plan-to-open-up-areas-that-arent-covid-19-hotspots-pm-modi-to-ministers-6350097/ )



HOW COUNTRIES ARE DEALING WITH THE SURGE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNDER COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Why in news?

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres Monday appealed governments to pay attention to and prevent a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” over the last few weeks amid lockdown measures imposed by several countries to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.


Highlights:

  • Last week, the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental human rights agency comprising 47 member states, also expressed concern about the increase in domestic violence during lockdowns due to the coronavirus, and said women and children were at greater risk of abuse within their own homes during this period.

  • Reports showed that while fewer women called helplines than usual, the number of instant messages to aid organisations had gone up, suggesting that perpetrators could be preventing their victims from reporting incidents via phone.

  • The French government has announced an additional EUR 1 million to fund relief organisations working against domestic abuse, to help them cater to the increased number of requests for help. It has also promised to open up pop-up counselling centres and pay for hotel rooms for domestic violence victims. Victims have also been encouraged to seek help at pharmacies discreetly.

  • In Italy, the government has launched an app that enables domestic violence victims to seek help without making a phone call. A proposal to allocate EUR 4 million for shelters for victims is also being considered.

  • In the UK, since the lockdown started, the National Domestic Abuse helpline saw a 25 per cent rise in calls and online requests for help.

  • On March 31, the Scottish government promised support for victims of domestic violence during the outbreak, and announced grants of over GBP 1.5 million for Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland over six months to ensure that access to support services is maintained.

  • In India too, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has flagged the issue of a spike in cases of domestic violence since the enforcement of the national lockdown.

  • Since the pandemic, the UN is reporting that Lebanon and Malaysia, for example, have seen the number of calls to helplines double, compared with the same month last year; in China they have tripled; and in Australia, search engines such as Google are seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help in the past five years

  • These numbers give some indication of the scale of the problem, but only cover countries where reporting systems are in place: as the virus spreads in countries with already weak institutions, less information and data will be available, but it is expected that the vulnerability of women and girls will be higher


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/how-countries-are-dealing-with-the-surge-in-domestic-violence-under-covid-19-lockdown-6350186/ )



TIGER TESTS COVID-19 POSITIVE IN US

Why in news?

  • A tiger in New York City has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a news release from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo.


Highlights:

  • The four-year-old female Malayan tiger named Nadia, as well as three other tigers and three African lions developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover.

  • "We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world's continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus," the zoo said in a statement.

  • Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers. The animals are believed to have been infected by a zookeeper. The zoo has been closed since mid-March

  • The Indian Government has issued an advisory to all states, asking them to reduce human-wildlife interface and restrict the movement of people to national parks/sanctuaries/tiger reserves in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.

  • States have also been asked to constitute a task force/rapid action force with field managers, veterinary doctors, frontline staff to manage the situation as quickly as possible and create a ‘round the clock’ reporting mechanism with a nodal officer for swift management of any cases noticed.


Source : Tribune (https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/coronavirus/tiger-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-at-zoo-in-new-york-city-66392 & https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/reduce%C2%A0human-wildlife-interface-centre-tells-states-after-new-york-tiger-turns-positive-66445 )



CATS CAN INFECT EACH OTHER WITH CORONAVIRUS: STUDY

Why in news?

  • A team of Chinese researchers has revealed that cats are not only susceptible to contracting new coronavirus but can pass it on other cats as well.


Highlights:

  • Cats are susceptible to contracting COVID-19 but no other animals such as dogs, chicken and pigs.

  • Also, there is no direct evidence that cats would be able to infect their owners, said the researchers from the institute at Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences.

  • The study comes after a cat in Belgium tested positive for the coronavirus last week, after catching the coronavirus from an infected owner.

  • Shenzhen has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dogs and cats, a move that comes after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to wildlife meat, prompting authorities to ban the trade and eating of wild animals.

  • Authorities in Shenzhen said that "dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals", adding that the ban "also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization".


Source : Tribune ( https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/science-technology/cats-can-infect-each-other-with-coronavirus-study-65520 )


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