UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 27-July-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. India ramps up rail cooperation with Dhaka

  2. RBI’s stress test shows banks are on thin ice as virus may affect capital

  3. India to announce financial assistance package for Maldives' economic recovery

  4. How coronavirus molecules camouflage in host cell decoded, may lead to drug development

  5. Maratha Quota

  6. Cyclospora

  7. World's largest fusion plant set to create history



INDIA RAMPS UP RAIL COOPERATION WITH DHAKA


Why in news?

  • India will on Monday hand over 10 broad gauge (BG) locomotives to Bangladesh as a part of its grant assistance to the eastern neighbour. 


Highlights:

  • India sees rail cooperation with Bangladesh, a country where China is looking to rapidly expand its economic presence including through rail connectivity, as vital for promoting trade and connectivity and shoring up the economic partnership. 

  • With the handing over India will fulfil its commitment made during Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina's visit in October 2019. 

  • India and Bangladesh are jointly working to enhance rail connectivity by developing some crucial railway projects as well as by restoring some old rail links with Bangladesh, according to Indian authorities. 

  • Under its BRI initiative, China has been working to expand Bangladesh's railway network including by building a line from Dhaka to Jessore in southwest Bangladesh. 


Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-ramps-up-rail-cooperation-with-dhaka/articleshow/77186238.cms )



RBI’S STRESS TEST SHOWS BANKS ARE ON THIN ICE AS VIRUS MAY AFFECT CAPITAL

Why in news?

  • Indian lenders had brought down dodgy loans from 11.6% in FY18 to just 8.5% of their book in FY20. It seems that was just a number on the sand, and all it took was a wave of the pandemic to wipe off this minor victory.


Highlights:

  • The capital that public sector banks wheedled out of the government and their private counterparts boasted about is now looking very vulnerable. Banks will see 12.5% of their loans turning bad this year, for sure.

  • Their worst nightmare is this ratio climbing up to 14.7% under extreme duress due to the pandemic.

  • That is the number thrown by the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) stress tests.

  • In the financial stability report, the central bank paints a gloomy picture on the capital levels of banks and reiterates how important it is to raise money.

  • The Union government has merged public sector banks in the hope that stronger balance sheets will support the weaker ones. But the fact remains that the outlook on asset quality and health of capital is still clouded and even the RBI is not offering any clarity on this.


Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/market/mark-to-market/rbi-s-stress-test-confirms-an-ugly-pandemic-hit-on-banks-11595595252003.html )



INDIA TO ANNOUNCE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PACKAGE FOR MALDIVES' ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Why in news?

  • According to World Bank, the virus-induced slump in tourism had hurt the Maldivian economy badly given that the sector accounts for about two-thirds of its GDP


Highlights:

  • India is to announce a "substantial financial assistance package" for Maldives to help it tide over economic woes caused mainly by the loss of tourist revenues due to the spread of the covid-19 pandemic.

  • A statement from the Indian High Commission in Male on the occasion of the Maldivian Independence Day described India-Maldives ties as “an all weather friendship steeped in history and with a glorious future."

  • India has already extended assistance of $400 million through extended currency swap arrangement to help the nation tide over liquidity problems

  • New Delhi had also provided 6.2 tons of medicines under “Operation Sanjeevani" and 600 tons of food items to the country in the midst of the pandemic.


Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/india-to-announce-financial-assistance-package-for-maldives-economic-recovery-11595774783428.html )



HOW CORONAVIRUS MOLECULES CAMOUFLAGE IN HOST CELL DECODED, MAY LEAD TO DRUG DEVELOPMENT

Why in news?

  • Scientists, including those of Indian-origin, have resolved the structure of a molecule which the novel coronavirus uses to make its genetic sequence seem like a part of the host’s own, an advance that may lead to the development of new antiviral drugs against Covid-19.


Highlights:

  • According to the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the molecule nsp10 modifies the viral mRNAs (which are blueprints for producing proteins) to mimic host cell’s own mRNAs.

  • The researchers from the The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) in the US said by enabling this modification, nsp10 protects the virus from host cell immune response.

  • It’s a camouflage. Because of the modifications, which fool the cell, the resulting viral messenger RNA is now considered as part of the cell’s own code and not foreign

  • According to the researchers, deciphering the 3D structure of nsp16 paves the way for the design of new drugs against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and other emerging coronavirus infections. 

  • These drugs, Gupta said can be designed to inhibit nsp16 from making the modifications, so that the host immune system would pounce on the invading virus, recognising it as foreign.

  • Based on the findings, the researchers have suggested structural sites on the SARS-CoV-2 nsp10 molecule which they say can be targeted for antiviral development.


Source : Hindustan times ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/science/how-coronavirus-molecules-camouflage-in-host-cell-decoded-may-lead-to-drug-development/story-heeZZligYYYQffQRcME8tI.html )



MARATHA QUOTA

Why in news?

  • From July 27, the Supreme Court will commence daily final hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the reservation granted to the Maratha community in education and jobs in Maharashtra.


Highlights:

  • The petitions challenge the June 2019 Bombay High Court decision, which upheld the constitutional validity of the Maratha quota under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.

  • The top court will also hear a petition challenging admission to postgraduate medical and dental courses under the quota in the state.

  • While division of land and agrarian problems over the years have led to a decline of prosperity among middle class and lower middle-class Marathas, the community still plays an important role in the rural economy.

  • While ruling that the 16 per cent quota granted by the state was not ‘justifiable,’ the Bombay High Court on July 27 last year reduced it to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in government jobs, as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission.

  • The Court had said that while the backwardness of the community was not comparable with SCs and STs, it was comparable with several other backward classes, which find place in the list of Other Backward Classes pursuant to the Mandal Commission.

  • A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court, in the 1993 Indra Sawhney case, which is known as Mandal Commission case, had ruled that total reservation for backward classes cannot go beyond the 50%-mark. Maharashtra is one of the few states that are an exception to this.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/supreme-court-to-begin-hearing-challenges-to-maratha-quota-6524661/ )



CYCLOSPORA

Why in news?

  • Multistate outbreak of Cyclospora, an infection linked to consumption of bagged salads, has infected over 600 people in the United States.


Highlights:

  • According to federal officials, the infection is linked to recalled batches of salad mixes by Fresh Express production facility located in Illinois.

  • Cyclospora, a microscopic parasite, affects the intestinal tract and causes diarrhoea that can last for over a month.

  • A person may start showing the symptoms nearly a week after consuming contaminated food or water.

  • The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has urged people to steer clear of salads. 


Source : Hindustan Times ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/over-600-people-fall-sick-in-us-after-contracting-infection-from-bagged-salads/story-9mWy4jBO0pfMKAgf3kh5gP.html )



World's largest fusion plant set to create history

Why in news?

  • This Tuesday the world will mark a historic moment with the start of machine assembly of world's largest experimental fusion reactor at ITER facility in southern France in the virtual presence of host nation President Emmanuel Macron and government leaders from the seven ITER members, including India.


Highlights:

  • Officials say the launch of the ITER assembly phase is made possible by the arrival of components from all over the world in recent months. 

  • It demonstrates the willingness of 30,000 people of the 35 partner countries and a million complements of the ITER international research project to join together in an enduring way in their common fight against climate change. 

  • Eight years later, 12 segments of the top lid plus one central disk, 650 tonnes in all, will be assembled and welded on site. 

  • This operation to lower the heaviest single component of the ITER machine marked the culmination of a 10-year effort to design, manufacture, deliver, assemble and weld one of the most crucial components of the machine that will act as a thermos, insulating the magnetic system at cryogenic temperature from the outside environment. 

  • ITER-India is the Indian domestic agency -- a specially empowered project of the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), an organisation under the Department of Atomic Energy.


Source : Hans India ( https://www.thehansindia.com/news/national/worlds-largest-fusion-plant-set-to-create-history-635739 )


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