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UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 19-May-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. Kashmir is India’s internal matter, says Taliban; denies plan to target Delhi

  2. Government implements Shekatkar Committee recommendations related to creating border infrastructure

  3. LISA Procedure

  4. Rare palm from Andamans gets second home 

  5. China accuses India of building “illegal” facilities at Galwan valley in Aksai Chin area

  6. India says no to using pandemic as portal for trade commitments at WTO

  7. Poison Pills



Why in news?

  • The Taliban on Monday denied claims on social media that it could join Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, underlining that the Taliban was clear that it “does not interfere in internal affairs of other countries”.


  • The strong clarification comes a day after officials monitoring social media noted a spike in posts around claims that a Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said it was impossible to be friends with India unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved.

  • Diplomats based in Kabul and Delhi told Hindustan Times that the Taliban spokesperson’s clarification came after India worked the backchannels to confirm reports about the group’s approach to India, and on Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Analysts have also underlined that the Taliban wasn’t a monolithic body and comprises people holding different beliefs. For example, while the group has deep linkages with the Pakistani deep state, there are also some who favour an independent line.

Source : Hindustan Times ( )


Why in news?

  • Government has accepted and implemented three important recommendations of Committee of Experts (CoE) under the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border Infrastructure. These were related to speeding up road construction, leading to socio economic development in the border areas.


  • On the matter related to creating border infrastructure, the Government has implemented recommendation of CoE to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

  • It has been made mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore.

  • The other recommendation relating to introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery has been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements. 

  • New Technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilisation, cementitious base for pavements, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction.

  • The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR).

  • Further, with the adoption of EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.

Source : PIB ( )


Why in news?

  • A recent medical technique, known as less invasive surfactant administration (LISA), has been started at J.K. Lon Government Children’s Hospital, Jaipur for treatment of lung disease or respiratory distress syndrome among premature babies. 


  • Most of the premature babies admitted to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit had the problem of less mature lungs, resulting in difficulty in breathing at the time of birth. They needed ventilatory support with surfactant administration via endotracheal tube placed in air pipe for treatment.

  • The ventilatory support was gradually weaned and babies were put on non-invasive ventilation like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) after maturation of lungs.

  • Hospitals have been giving the directly administered medication in windpipe for treating breathing problems, but this has its own side effects.

  •  LISA technique had been found to be very helpful in minimising the side effects.

  • The surfactant is administered via a thin feeding tube, instead of endotracheal tube, which is immediately removed after the procedure, while the baby is on the CPAP machine.

  • LISA has been developed as a lung protective strategy for respiratory management and ventilation in view of the mechanical ventilation causing damage to the preterm lungs of newborns.

  • Infants considered suitable for LISA are those being managed with primary CPAP or high flow with the evidence of increasing respiratory distress and with a rising oxygen requirement.

Source : Hindu ( )


Why in news?

  • A rare palm endemic to the South Andaman Island is finding a second home at Palode, Thiruvanthapuram, courtesy the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI). An earlier JNTBGRI effort in this direction had been thwarted by mischievous wild elephants that ate up all the specimens!.


  • At first glance, Pinanga andamanensis — which at one point was written off as extinct — resembles the areca palm to which it is closely related. But its entire population of some 600 specimens naturally occurs only in a tiny, evergreen forest pocket in South Andaman’s Mount Harriet National Park.

  • By conserving the germplasm on the Indian mainland, JNTBGRI can ensure its continued survival in the event of its minuscule original home getting wiped out by, say, a natural calamity

  • While its uses are yet to be understood fully, this elegant palm holds promise as an avenue tree for gardens, pavements and homesteads.

  • Pinanga andamanensis has a colourful history. It was originally described by the Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in 1934. After that first identification, it was thought to be extinct till 1992.

Source : Hindu ( )


Why in news?

  • Amid heightened confrontation in east Ladakh, Chinese state media claimed that India has built illegal defence facilities at Galwan Valley in the Aksai China region quoting anonymous military sources.


  • This follows a face-off in the area earlier this month which saw Indian and Chinese forces clashing along the northern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and even resorting to stone-pelting.

  • Global Times reported on Monday that Chinese forces had bolstered border control measures in response to India's "recent, illegal" construction of facilities "across the border into Chinese territory". 

  • Though the immediate provocation for tensions is not clear, the area has been the site of confrontations in the past as well. New Delhi has accused Chinese troops of pitching tents in areas that India has said are part of its regular patrol activity.

  • In the wake of the Covid crisis, India has imposed higher levels of scrutiny on Chinese investments which was disapproved by China.

  • There have also been other pin pricks like Nepal's objection to a road inaugurated at Lipulekh pass, with Army chief Gen M M Naravane hinting that the Left alliance government may have acted at the instance of China. 

  • The Chinese state media report follows attempts by India to downplay the recent border flare-up.

  • The government said in a statement last week that the India-China border had remained largely peaceful in keeping with the spirit of the recent Modi-Xi informal summits and that the situations that had arisen "occasionally" on the ground could have been avoided if the two sides had a common perception of the LAC. 

  • The MEA had said the two sides had established mechanisms to resolve such situations as and when they arise and that India remained committed to the objective of maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas.

Source : TOI ( )


Why in news?

  • India’s trade envoy JS Deepak on Friday drew five markers for combating Covid-19 at the World Trade Organization, pushing back against egregious efforts by major industrialised countries to extract trade-liberalisation commitments from India and other developing countries by using the pandemic as a portal.


  • The economic hardship and other negative repercussions of Covid-19 make carrying on with negotiations in a business-as-usual format untenable.

  • Protecting human lives must take precedence over negotiating new commitments.

  • A large majority of developing countries shared India’s concerns that the pandemic cannot be used to force trade liberalisation commitments that would undermine their policy space. 

  • Over the past several weeks, the EU, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway and some developing countries such as Chile, Brazil, Singapore, and South Korea have called for far-reaching, binding trade commitments on global trade by using the pandemic.

  • The US’ reform proposals seek to deny special and differential treatment to India, South Africa, Indonesia and other developing countries with huge populations in the current and future trade negotiations. 

  • US also wants to impose onerous financial penalties on India and other developing countries if they fail to comply with transparency and notification requirements.

  • India’s Five Markers :

  • Acknowledges the need for a coordinated global response, ensuring the availability of vital drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol.

  • India is committed to taking emergency measures to battle the pandemic on a “targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary” basis.

  • Insists that attempts to prohibit the use of export restrictions on medical and agricultural products are untenable.

  • Supports the use of TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to essential medicines at affordable prices.

  • Emphasize the urgent need to build the capacity of poor and developing countries in areas such as digital skills.

Source : Business Line ( )


Why in news?

  • It is not just governments that are worried about foreigners swooping in to buy the nation’s assets for cheap, when stock prices are down and out. Companies are worried too. In order to protect themselves from hostile takeovers during these testing times, many companies across the world are taking ‘poison pills’ to ward off hostile takeovers


  • A poison pill is a defensive tactic used by companies, which makes it difficult for a hostile acquirer to buy out a majority stake in the company, given the acquirer control over its management and shareholding. 

  • The typical poison pill is structured as a shareholder rights agreement, where the existing shareholders of the target company get rights to buy additional shares the moment a takeover is announced.

  • These shares may carry a steep discount to the market price or additional voting rights.

  • A takeover is a bid by a potential acquirer to obtain a block of shares in a company, that can give it a controlling stake in the target company.

  • A hostile takeover is a situation where such takeover bids are mounted without the consent of the incumbent management.

  • The intent of poison pills is to make the acquisition a costly affair for acquirers, thereby discouraging the takeover decision.

  • The potential acquirer is compelled to negotiate with the target’s board of directors, rather than proceed unilaterally. 

  •  An example of this was Yahoo’s actions in 2000: when confronted with the possibility of takeover by Microsoft, it allowed the board to issue up to 10 million new shares in the event of an acquisition offer on the table. The board also announced unlimited voting power for each share held and allowed all directors to cash in on all of their outstanding stock options, amounting to about 16 million potential new shares.

Source : Business line and Investopedia ( )

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