UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 9-May-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. Govt to borrow 54% more than estimate, fiscal deficit may hit 5.5%.

  2. Five lakh fruit trees to be planted across India on Environment Day

  3. A new concern: early locusts

  4. AIIB clears $500-mn loan to support India’s fight against COVID-19

  5. Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles begins at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery

  6. Favipiravir and Phytopharmaceutical



GOVT TO BORROW 54% MORE THAN ESTIMATE, FISCAL DEFICIT MAY HIT 5.5%

Why in news?

  • Weighed down by higher expenses due to the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy, the government on Friday said it will borrow about Rs 12 lakh crore from the market in fiscal year 2020-21, a massive increase of Rs 4.2 lakh crore, or 54% jump over the Budget estimate of Rs 7.8 lakh crore. 


Highlights:

  • The decision for higher borrowing has also been prompted by severe loss of government revenues because of stalled economic activity across the country due to the stringent lockdown, economists said. 

  • GST revenues as well as those from direct and indirect taxes are under severe strain while asset sales in state run companies which were expected to fetch much needed revenues have stalled in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

  • There have been increasing calls to unveil a massive fiscal stimulus to help several sectors of the economy overcome the severe impact of the Covid-19.

  • The government and the RBI have taken some measures to help the poor and the financial markets as well as get lending going but Indian industry has called for a large stimulus to help sectors hit hard by the pandemic restart their activity and help in restoring growth. 


Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/govt-to-borrow-54-more-than-estimate-fiscal-deficit-may-hit-5-5/articleshow/75637324.cms )


FIVE LAKH FRUIT TREES TO BE PLANTED ACROSS INDIA ON ENVIRONMENT DAY

Why in news?

  • Around five lakh fruit trees will be planted across the country on the World Environment Day on June 5. 


Highlights:

  • The plantation drive will be undertaken by two NGOs from India and the US. 

  • The Dehradun-based Sustainable Green Initiative and the United States-based One Tree Planted will execute the programme together with the involvement of local communities in the land of small and marginal farmers countrywide, SGI founder Raj Mohan said. 

  • Trees to be planted during the drive include moringa, papaya, banana, lemon, guava, apricot, pear, peach and jujubes.

  • The initiative is intended to not just expand the green cover but also create sustainable livelihood for the rural populace. 

  • Fruit trees will not only provide nourishment but also supplement income of small farmers.

  • The planting and nurturing of fruit trees will be executed by local partners at Sustainable Green Initiative with whom One Tree Planted has already planted over 300,000 trees throughout India.


Source : TOI ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/the-good-earth/five-lakh-fruit-trees-to-be-planted-across-india-on-environment-day/articleshow/75623481.cms )


A NEW CONCERN: EARLY LOCUSTS

Why in news?

  • On APRIL 11-12, scientists at the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) observed groups of grasshoppers at Sri Ganganagar and Jaisalmer districts of Rajasthan


Highlights:

  • The locusts are desert locusts— the same destructive migratory pests currently devouring acres of maize, sorghum and wheat crops in East Africa.

  • While locusts are seen in India as well, that is normally only during July-October and mostly as solitary insects or in small isolated groups.

  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper that is innocuous while it is in a “solitary phase” and moving about independently.

  • These winged insects differ from normal hoppers, and become dangerous only when their populations build up rapidly and the close physical contact in crowded conditions triggers behavioural changes.

  • They, then, enter the “gregarious phase”, by grouping into bands and forming swarms that can travel great distances (up to 150 km daily), while eating up every bit of vegetation on the way.

  • If not controlled at the right time, these insect swarms can threaten the food security of countries.

  • Kenya is already reporting its worst locust outbreak in 70 years, while Ethiopia and Somalia haven't seen one this bad in quarter of a century.

  • There’s nothing much to worry right now, as the rabi crop has already been harvested and farmers are yet to commence plantings for the new kharif season.

  • Mekunu and Luban cyclonic storms of May and October 2018 that struck Oman and Yemen, respectively turned large desert areas in remote parts of the southern Arabian Peninsula into lakes, which allowed the insects to breed undetected across multiple generations. This is causing early locust swarms.

  • Organophosphate insecticides such as Malathion (96% ultra-low volume aerial application) are effective against locusts. About one litre of the chemical is necessary to treat a hectare of their breeding areas, including trees where they halt for the night.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-locust-agriculture-crops-india-lockdown-6400755/ )


AIIB CLEARS $500-MN LOAN TO SUPPORT INDIA’S FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

Why in news?

  • THE ASIAN Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved funding of $500 million to support India’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.


Highlights:

  • The government and the AIIB on Friday signed a COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project that would help strengthen India’s public health preparedness.

  • This is the first ever health sector sup- port from the Beijing-headquartered bank to India.

  • The project will be implemented by the National Health Mission (NHM), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

About AIIB :

  • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia.

  • Headquartered in Beijing, it began operations in January 2016 and have now grown to 102 approved members worldwide.

Board of Governor :

  • The Board of Governors consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each member country. Governors and Alternate Governors serve at the pleasure of the appointing member.

Board of Director :

  • Board of Directors is responsible for the direction of the Bank’s general operations, exercising all powers delegated to it by the Board of Governors. This includes approving the Bank’s strategy, annual plan and budget; establishing policies; taking decisions concerning Bank operations; and supervising management and operation of the Bank and establishing an oversight mechanism.

Senior Management :

  • Staff is headed by the President who is elected by AIIB shareholders for a five-year term and eligible for reelection once. 

International Advisory Panel :

  • The Bank has established an International Advisory Panel (IAP) to support the President and Senior Management on the Bank’s strategies and policies as well as on general operational issues. The Panel meets at least twice a year, once in tandem with the Bank’s Annual Meeting, and second time at the Bank’s Headquarters in Beijing. 


Source : New Indian Express and AIIB (https://www.newindianexpress.com/business/2020/may/08/aiib-approves-usd-500-million-loan-to-support-indias-fight-against-covid-19-2140757.html )

MASS HATCHING OF OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLES BEGINS AT ODISHA’S RUSHIKULYA ROOKERY

Why in news?

  • Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles began at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery, a major nesting site of these marine turtles, on Thursday night.


Highlights:

  • Thousands of hatchlings came out of the nests buried in sand to crawl towards the sea to start their long journey. On an average 80 to 100 turtles hatch from each nest. 

  • They hatch in 45 to 60 days, depending on the temperature of the sand and atmosphere during the incubation period.

  • IUCN Status – Vulnerable

Threats –

  • Residential and Commercial development.

  • Agriculture and Aquaculture

  • Biological resource use.

  • Human Intrusion and Disturbances

  • Pollution

  • Climate change and severe weather.

  • They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada.

  • The enormous number of Olive ridleys nest in Odisha (namely at three river mouths: Dhamara, Devi and Rushikulya) in India.


Source : The Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mass-hatching-of-olive-ridley-turtles-begins-at-odishas-rushikulya-rookery/article31538323.ece )


FAVIPIRAVIR AND PHYTOPHARMACEUTICAL

Why in news?

  • CSIR to begin clinical trial of drugs favipiravir, phytopharmaceutical for Covid-19 treatment.


Highlights:

  • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has received approval from Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for its two clinical trial drugs - 'favipiravir' and 'phytopharmaceutical' - to combat coronavirus.

  • Favipiravir is a drug which is commonly used in Japan, China and some other countries, to treat influenza that has a very broad spectrum of RNA polymerase.

  • The CSIR is exploring a native herb as a biological medicine or phytopharmaceutical, which is already being tested as medicine for dengue for its efficacy to combat COVID-19.

  • Phytopharmaceutical is essentially a herbal medicine extracted from plants. It is a cocktail of different compounds but has a biological origin from a plant. 

  •  In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) terms it botanical, however, in India the DCGI calls it phytopharmaceutical.


Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/csir-to-begin-clinical-trial-of-drugs-favipiravir-phytopharmaceutical-for-covid-19-treatment-11588932116877.html )


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