IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


7th April, 2020


-       Modi seeks Ministers’ views on calibrated exit from lockdown

Some of the ideas discussed were:

-       Promote Make In India

-       Coordination between ministers and district authorities to come up with micro-level plans for harvest and procurement of farm produce

-       Promote ideas such as truck aggregation, similar to cab aggregation in urban areas, to transport farm produce to markets

-       Formulation of various business continuity plans for ministries in readiness for lifting of lockdown

-       Encourage people to download Aarogya Setu App designed by the government to track and disburse information on COVID-19

About Make In India

-       Make in India, a type of Swadeshi movement covering 25 sectors of the Indian economy, was launched by the Government of India on 25 September 2014 to encourage companies to manufacture their products in India and enthuse with dedicated investments into manufacturing.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-pm-modi-hints-at-calibrated-exit-from-lockdown/article31271609.ece


-       MPLADS suspended; PM, MPs to take 30% salary cut

-       The Union Cabinet on Monday approved a 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament and a two-year suspension of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight COVID­19.

    About MPLADS

-       Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a scheme formulated by Government of India on 23 December 1993 that enables the members of parliaments (MP) to recommend developmental work in their constituencies with an emphasis on creating durable community assets based on locally felt needs.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-passes-ordinance-to-reduce-salaries-of-president-pm-ministers-mps-by-30-for-a-year/article31269645.ece


-       Pench tiger death raises COVID-19 fears

-       The death of a 10­year­old ailing male tiger, in the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) — the country’s most munificent reserve —that succumbed to a ‘respiratory illness’ last Saturday would have been a routine affair. However, a report of a confirmed COVID­19 infection in a tiger at the Bronx Zoo, in New York, United States raised concerns.

-       The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) — the organisation that manages the protection of India’s 3,000­odd tigers — puzzling on whether the tiger should be tested for the novel coronavirus disease.

-       Swabs from the throat and nose to test for rhinotracheitis, a viral infection that afflicts cats and causes respiratory illness were collected.

  About Pench National Park

-       It is a national park in India's Madhya Pradesh state, established in 1975 with an area of 257.26 km2 (99.33 sq mi).

-       It includes Pench Tiger Reserve and derives its name from the Pench River that flows through the park from north to south dividing the park into almost equal western and eastern halves, the well-forested areas of Seoni and Chhindwara districts respectively.

-       It was declared a sanctuary in 1965, raised to the status of national park in 1975 and enlisted as a tiger reserve in 1992.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pench-tiger-death-raises-covid-19-fears/article31275062.ece


-       Farmers are at their wits’ end

- The COVID­19 pandemic has led to global concerns on the state of agriculture and food security.

- On the one hand, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned of a “food crisis” if countries do not protect vulnerable people from hunger and malnourishment. On the other, farmers face a stalemate.

- According to the FAO, as on April 2, 2020, the total stock of cereals in the world was about 861 million tonnes. This translates to a stocks­to­use ratio (SUR) — i.e., proportion of consumption available as stocks of 30.7%. The FAO considers this “comfortable”.

- The SURs for wheat, rice and coarse grains were 35.3%, 35.1%and 26.9%, respectively. But world stocks are different from national stocks.

- About 52% of the global wheat stock is held by China, and about 20% of the global rice stocks are held by India.

- Kazakhstan, a major wheat exporter, has banned exports. Russia, the largest wheat exporter, is expected to restrict its exports. Vietnam, the third largest rice exporter, has stopped its exports, which will reduce the global rice exports by 15%.

- If India and Thailand too ban exports, world supply of rice will sharply fall.  

Harvesting and marketing of crops are in crisis across India, because of

-       Disruptions in the procurement of food grains by government agencies;

-       Disruptions in the collection of harvests from the farms by traders;

-       Shortage of workers to harvest the Rabi crops;

-       Shortage of truck drivers;

-       Blockades in the transport of commodities;

-       limited operations of APMC mandis;

-       Shutdowns in the retail markets

-       Second, these supply bottlenecks have led to a fall in farm gate prices.

-       Third, the large-scale return of migrant workers to their homes has disrupted harvest operations, and farmers are being forced to leave the crop in the fields. There are also severe labour shortages in milk processing plants, cold storage units and warehouses.

-       Fourth, supply chains remain disrupted across India.

-Agricultural goods have been notified as essential goods. However, about 5, 00,000 trucks are reportedly stranded in the highways and State borders.

-Imports of vegetable oils are not being lifted from ports due to shortage of trucks.

-Most APMC mandis are functioning only twice or thrice a week.

-Livestock feeds are in short supply, and this is breaking the back of livestock growers as global trade shrinks and supply disruptions persist, a prolonged lockdown will adversely affect food security in many countries. In the Western world, food prices are rising due to panic buying and stockpiling.

About FAO

-       The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security. Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates to "let there be bread".

-       HQ in Rome, Italy.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/farmers-are-at-their-wits-end/article31273857.ece

-       Restructuring our food system for a healthy world

-        India has the world’s largest livestock population, is the largest producer of buffalo meat and produces about a 100 billion eggs annually.

-        Animal agriculture is moving away from backyard operations to larger industrial facilities which aim to produce more meat with fewer resources.

-        Industrializing animal agriculture comes at a huge cost to the environment, animals and to human beings.

-        One concern is antibiotic resistance. According to the World Health Organization, the large volume of antibiotics given to farm animals contributed to the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria particularly in settings of intensive animal production.

-        Most of the standalone meat vendors in India do not follow the standards laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

-        Immunocompromised animals are the most likely to pass on an infection. It is thus imperative that India understand the risk of zoonosis and antibiotic resistance in terms of following FSSAI regulations and adhering to welfare standards in animal husbandry.

-        The second lesson is to undertake greater investment in the alternate protein industry.

-        India must explore the potential behind plant and cultivated meats. Plant based meats are made from plants and are cholesterol­ and antibiotic free, but taste and feel like meat.

-        Cultivated meat is produced by taking a small sample of animal cells and replicating them outside of the animal; the resulting product is real meat, but without the antibiotics, E. coli, salmonella, or animal waste.

-        These foods represent an enormous opportunity to solve the problems of rampant malnutrition, low farmer incomes, antibiotic dependency, and inhumane factory farming of animals.

-        In the Western world, these plant-based meats are already popular and two plant-based companies – the Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat – won the Champions of Earth award, the United Nation’s highest environmental honour.

-        Finally, we must understand the interconnectedness of the world. Advocates of animal rights have argued that within the welfare of animals lies the welfare of people. Every act we undertake has an impact on us all.

About WHO

-       The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. It is part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Group.

-       Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland


-       Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

-       The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006; which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/restructuring-our-food-system-for-a-healthy-world/article31273787.ece


-       Preparing for SAARC 2.0

-        First virtual summit of SAARC leaders on March 15. Their deliberations reflected a recognition of the serious menace posed by COVID­19 and the need for robust regional cooperation to overcome it.

-        It is evident that India’s imaginative diplomacy has leveraged the crisis to create a new mechanism for workable cooperation. It will become stronger if the crisis deepens and if member states see advantages in working together. This is diplomatic resilience and leadership at its best.

-        Finally, a thought for consideration of ‘SAARC purists’ who maintain that all proposals for cooperation should be routed through the Secretariat and activities should be piloted by the incumbent chair.

-        Given what Pakistan has done to harm India’s interests since the terrorist attack on the Uri Army base in 2016 and its continuing resistance to cooperation against COVID­19, the purists’ scenario is unrealistic.

-        Both New Delhi and its friendly neighbors need to start preparing themselves for SAARC 2.0.


-       The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia. Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

-       Founded: 8 December 1985, Dhaka, Bangladesh

-       Headquarters: Kathmandu, Nepal

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/preparing-for-saarc-20/article31273813.ece


-       Brazil seeks lifting of curbs on drug

-        After U.S. President Donald , Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced that he had also requested India to allow the supply of the drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), now being used as a possible treatment for COVID­19.

-        Officials said the government may reconsider its notification on Saturday that banned all exports of the drug.

-        However, advocacy groups are warning that the government must not overlook the possibility of an “escalation” in domestic demand, and point out that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has added HCQ to its protocol for all health workers last month.

-        HCQ is made by only a few Indian companies, most notably IPCA and Zydus Cadila.

-        In addition to its possible use for in the current COVID­19 pandemic, HCQ is anti­malarial drug, which is also used by patients of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in India. 

-        Another worry is that the essential ingredients for HCQ come from China, and any disruption in supply or increase in cost of those will reduce India’s manufacturing capacity of the drug.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-brazil-seeks-lifting-of-curbs-imposed-by-india-on-export-of-hydroxychloroquine/article31274106.ece