UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 18-April-2020

Topic Covered :


  1. Kisan Rath Mobile App

  2. DRDO Introduces two new products to enable COVID-19 disinfection process.

  3. Trump cautiously moots reopening parts of America for business even as toll mounts

  4. RBI revises repo rate

  5. What does it mean to be immunocompromised during Covid-19?

  6. Ways and Means advances


KISAN RATH MOBILE APP

Why in news?

  • The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare launched a farmer friendly mobile application developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to facilitate farmers & traders in searching transport vehicles for Primary and Secondary transportation for movement of Agriculture & Horticulture produce. 


Highlights:

  • Primary transportation would include movement from Farm to Mandis, FPO Collection Centre and Warehouses etc.

  • Secondary Transportation would include movement from Mandis to Intra-state & Inter-state mandis, Processing units, Railway station, Warehouses and Wholesalers etc.

  • While harvesting and sowing is going on, transportation will become easier with the Kisan Rath app as it will help farmers and traders for transporting produce from farm gate to mandi and mandi to mandi all over the country.

  • The Consignors (farmer, FPOs, buyer/ trader) places a requirement for transportation on this app which is disseminated to transport aggregators in the market, who in turn interface with various truckers and fleet owners for obtaining a competitive quote against the requirement and passes back the quote and trucker details to the Consignor.

  • Thereafter, the Consignor directly negotiates off line with the trucker and finalizes the deal. Once the trip is completed, the user can provide a rating/ feedback for the trucker in the App which, over a period of time, becomes feedback mechanism for the transporter to improve their services.

  • This would also help the Consignors in the selection process of Logistics Service Providers in future.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1615352 )


DRDO INTRODUCES TWO NEW PRODUCTS TO ENABLE COVID-19 DISINFECTION PROCESS

Why in news?

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in its continuous quest to contribute towards fight against COVID-19, has been developing several solutions from its existing arsenal of technologies and experience.  Today DRDO has introduced two products which can enhance the operations at public places during the pandemic.


Highlights:

  • Automatic Mist based sanitiser dispensing unit

  • Centre for Fire Explosive & Environment Safety (CFEES), Delhi along with HPO 1, using its expertise in mist technology for fire suppression, has developed automatic mist based sanitiser dispensing unit. It is a contactless sanitiser dispenser which sprays alcohol based hand rub sanitiser solution for sanitisation of hands while entering the buildings/office complexes, etc. It is based on water mist aerator technology, which was developed for water conservation.

  • UV Sanitisation Box and Hand-held UV device

  • The UV-C consists of a shorter, more energetic wavelength of light. It is particularly good at destroying genetic material in COVID-19. The radiation warps the structure RNA which prevents the viral particles from making more copies of themselves.  The UV-C kills microbes quickly. Sanitisation of the items by employing UV-C light avoids the harmful effects of the chemicals used for the disinfection. This is environment friendly and is a contact free effective sanitisation method.


Source : PIB (https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1615331 )


TRUMP CAUTIOUSLY MOOTS REOPENING PARTS OF AMERICA FOR BUSINESS EVEN AS TOLL MOUNTS

Why in news?

  • The United States began re-opening for business in some thinly-populated states largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic under President Trump’s three-phase guidelines unveiled on Friday, even as the national toll spiked up to over 33,000 dead with record daily fatalities in trade- and business-heavy states such as New York and Michigan. 


Highlights:

  • President Trump rolled out a sketchy road map at the daily White House briefing while leaving the final call and granular details to state governors. 

  • As per the Trump road map that some of the economically less critical states that form his base are ready to embrace, phase one will allow public venues such as restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, gyms, and places of worship to operate under strict social distancing rules.

  • Schools will remain closed, non-essential travel minimized, and working from home where possible is recommended.

  • Vulnerable people will be asked to shelter in place and socializing beyond ten people will be discouraged. 

  • According to Trump, 29 states are "in the ballgame" to open soon but he would leave it to governors to call their own shots.


Source : Times of India ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/trump-cautiously-moots-reopening-parts-of-america-for-business-even-as-toll-mounts/articleshow/75207734.cms )


RBI REVISES REVERSE REPO RATE

Why in news?

  • The Reserve Bank of India on Friday unveiled the second tranche of liquidity and regulatory measures that are aimed at defusing the Covid-19-induced crisis.


Highlights :

  • Announcing a slew of measures on Friday, the RBI also cut the reverse repo rate by 25 bps from 4 per cent to 3.75 per cent to discourage banks from deploying surplus funds with it. 

  • The lower rate will help banks channelise liquidity in investments and loans to productive sectors of the economy. 

  • Other measures are provided in the following infographic.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED DURING COVID-19?

Why in news?

  • On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines for people who are at increased risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19. These include those who are 65 years or older, people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, those with heart disease and immunocompromised people.


Highlights:

  • A person from any age group can become immunocompromised either due to certain medical treatments or due to diseases such as auto-immune diseases. 

  • Reports have indicated that in some Covid-19 patients, even seemingly healthy ones, death has occurred probably due to a cytokine storm, which is when the immune system goes into overdrive, thereby damaging even healthy tissue, leading to multiple organ failure, sepsis and potentially, even death.

  • Essentially this means that the immune system needs to be working in a controlled manner to be efficient in fighting off infection.


Immunocompromised:

  • A person’s immune system helps the body to fight off infections. Therefore, it is important that the immune system is working efficiently to fight infection such as that given by the SARS-CoV-2. Ideally, once the immune system is triggered into action, it will deploy white blood cells to the site of infection, thereby aiding the recovery of the infected individual.

  • But in some people, the immune system is weakened, which means that their immune systems cannot function efficiently and therefore, make it difficult to recover or in some cases, may lead to more severe outcomes.

  • Such people are said to be immunocompromised and there can be various reasons for this, such as cancer treatment, existing comorbidities, age and genetics among others.

  • Further, some medications called immuno-suppressants can also lead to a weakened immune system. These medications dial down the response of an overactive immune system among people with certain auto-immune disorders.

  • Those who are taking treatment for cancer, smokers, those who have undergone bone marrow and organ transplantation, have immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS may be immunocompromised.


Source : Indian express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-does-it-mean-to-be-immunocompromised-during-covid-19-6367032/ )


WAYS AND MEANS ADVANCES

Why in news?

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on Friday, announced a 60% increase in the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) limit of state governments over and above the level as on March 31, with a view to enabling them “to undertake COVID-19 containment and mitigation efforts” and “to better plan their market borrowings”.


Highlights:

  • It is a facility for both the Centre and states to borrow from the RBI. These borrowings are meant purely to help them to tide over temporary mismatches in cash flows of their receipts and expenditures.

  •  In that sense, they aren’t a source of finance per se. Section 17(5) of the RBI Act, 1934 authorises the central bank to lend to the Centre and state governments subject to their being repayable “not later than three months from the date of the making of the advance”.

  • The interest rate on WMA is the RBI’s repo rate, which is basically the rate at which it lends short-term money to banks. That rate is currently 4.4%. The governments are, however, allowed to draw amounts in excess of their WMA limits. The interest on such overdraft is 2 percentage points above the repo rate, which now works out to 6.4%.

  • Further, no state can run an overdraft with the RBI for more than a certain period.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/reserve-bank-of-india-rbi-ways-and-means-advances-wma-repo-rate-coronavirus-covid-19-6367396/ )



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