IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


8th April, 2020


-       India lifts ban on export of hydroxychloroquine


-        India on Tuesday announced that it had rescinded its earlier ban on the export of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which is now being used in countries such as the U.S. as a possible line of treatment for COVID­19.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-revokes-ban-on-export-of-malaria-drug-hydroxychloroquine/article31277664.ece


2.Delhi’s ‘5T’ war against virus

-        Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced a “5T plan” created by his government to contain COVID­19 spread in Delhi.

-        These five Ts are testing, tracing, treatment, teamwork and tracking­monitoring.

-        The first T is testing, which when done on a mas scale enables the actual data of people affected by novel coronavirus. Through rapid testing, the government will also be able to identify COVID­19 hotspots and take necessary action.

-        The second T is tracing, which involves identifying and quarantining people who have come in contact with infected persons.

-        The third component is treatment. The LNJP and GB Pant hospitals had been declared primary hospitals for COVID­19 treatment with 1,500 and 500 beds respectively.

-        The fourth element is teamwork and collective efforts are being made to fight the virus. All State governments, he said, must learn from each other and work together.

-        The fifth T is tracking and monitoring.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhis-5t-war-against-virus/article31284152.ece


3.A script of action, responsibility and compassion

-        This is the time to start improving our health­care management, formulating a cooperative Centre­State relationship to build a health­care network, and ensuring that equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to all practitioners.

-        The Corona Containment Programme in Rajasthan has been the most intense and proactive.

-        What all the programme entails?

--Rapid response teams have been monitoring all the hotspots, tracing contacts and working to isolate cluster zones.

--Door­to­door screening has been the hallmark of our COVID Containment programme.

-- Bhilwara: Once the epicentre of COVID­19 infections has now become a case study in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

--An uncompromising and firm approach towards lockdown of the district along with a specific structural standard operating procedure was worked out.

--The Triple­T method, i.e. ‘Tracing, Testing and Treatment’ was made mandatory.

--Strict adherence to quarantine norms and meticulous screening of more than 32 lakh people.

-- “Unity of Command and Unity in Communication” system, which is very useful in dealing with crises, has been implemented.

--An emergency war­room, with deployment of senior IAS officers and officials from multiple departments, has been activated at the State­level for round­the­clock monitoring.

-- Cooked food packets for daily wagers, street vendors and needy people who are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), are being provided free of cost.

--A relief package of ₹2,500 crore for the weaker sections and sustenance grants of ₹2,500, for 31 lakh construction workers, factory workers and street vendors, and destitutes have been disbursed sent to every gram panchayat.

-- Home delivery of essential commodities is being facilitated.

--Pregnant and lactating women are being tracked to ensure institutional delivery, immunisation and essential food and nutrition.

--A helpline has been created to ensure food and fodder for stray animals and birds and teams are working in close coordination with non­governmental organisations and Gaushalas.

-- Distribution of free food grains to all beneficiaries of the NFSA is being done in the State.

-- Fifteen lakh small and marginal farmers and the Scheduled Tribe farmers would be given free hybrid seeds (maize and bajra) for the coming kharif crop.

-- Farmers are being provided tractor and farm equipment for harvesting, threshing and other agriculture­related activities free of cost or on very nominal rent.

--Fixed charges in the electricity bills of establishments are being deferred.

- The Prime Minister’s package of ₹1.7­lakh crore is a welcome step.

- Way Forward

-- The GoI should establish standard protocol to ensure transportation of essential commodities so that the supply chain of essential items is maintained during the lockdown.

-- One­stop shop solution should be made available by the government of India to States for the procurement of medical equipment such as ventilators and PPE kits.

-- The government of India needs to facilitate sufficient health infrastructure and PPE kits for doctors and medical staff.

-- The Central Health Ministry needs to make it easier to procure them by issuing suitable standardisation and pricing.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/coronavirus-chief-minister-ashok-gehlot-writes-on-rajasthans-fight-against-covid-19-a-script-of-action-responsibility-and-compassion/article31283443.ece



1.Amid lockdown in Russia, Gaganyaan trainees healthy

-        The four Indian astronaut candidates training in Moscow are healthy as of now.

-        All of them are Pilots in the Indian Air Force. They started their year­long general training programme in early February.

-        The finalist/s will circle Earth for a few days as part of the first Indian human space mission, Gaganyaan, which is planned for the year 2022 by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-outbreak-amid-russian-lockdown-gaganyaan-trainees-healthy/article31283578.ece


2.Loss of smell may be linked to cells: study

-        Multiple reports have surfaced, primarily from Europe and the United States, from physicians and ear, nose and throat specialists, of COVID­19 patients complaining of an inability to smell — or anosmia.

-        However, it is not clear whether neurons in the brain that are responsible for recognizing various odours are damaged, or whether other cells may be involved.

-        Researchers at Delhi’s Indrapastha Institute of Information Technology report that it is not neurons but a class of cells in the upper regions of the nasal cavity that may be involved: these are called sustentacular cells and horizontal basal cells.

-        Crucially, both are not directly involved in helping us smell, but nourish and support the cells that help us do, and so the virus may be inflicting an indirect attack on the olfactory sensory cells.

-        While research on this aspect of the disease is emerging, studies say the loss of smell is different from diminished smell or a lack of perceiving flavour in food when one is afflicted with a cold or stuffy nose.

-        Researchers inferred this by bio­informatics tools and estimating the presence of a key enzyme — called ACE 2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) — in these olfactory cells.

-        The coronavirus has spike proteins that bind to ACE 2 receptors on human cells and the enzyme’s presence is a proxy to revealing the signature of the virus in the body’s cells.

-         Clinical symptoms Research so far suggests that it take between 5­14 days for clinical symptoms of the virus — dry cough, labored breathing and fever — to show and unless this manifested, those infected are likely to continue socializing and spreading the virus.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-researchers-find-cells-that-may-explain-loss-of-smell-in-covid-19-patients/article31282353.ece


3.Hospitals warned of cyberattacks

-        The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has warned member countries that cybercriminals were attempting to target major hospitals and other institutions on the front lines of the fight against COVID­19 with ransomware

-        Ransomware attacks are “designed to lock targets out of their critical systems in an attempt to extort payments”.

-        The agency’s Cybercrime Threat Response Team had detected an increase in the number of attempted ransomware attacks against key organisations and infrastructure engaged in the virus response.

-        Interpol also issued a ‘Purple Notice’. At this point, the ransomware appears to be spreading primarily via e­mails —often falsely claiming to contain information or advice regarding the coronavirus from a government agency, which encourages the recipient to click on an infected link or attachment.  

-        It added that prevention and mitigation efforts were crucial to stopping the attacks.

-        About Interpol : The International Criminal Police Organisation, more commonly known as INTERPOL, is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control.

Headquarters: Lyon, France

Governing body: INTERPOL General Assembly

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/interpol-warns-of-cyberattacks-on-hospitals/article31281509.ece


4.Two CSIR labs start virus sequencing

-        As on April 7, India has shared nine whole genome sequences of the novel coronavirus (SARS­CoV­2) with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).

-        All these have been shared by the Pune­based National Institute of Virology.

-        On April 2, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) allowed all national research laboratories including those under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to conduct testing for the novel coronavirus.

-        About GISAID— It is a public platform started by the WHO in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences.

-        About CSIR: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research abbreviated as CSIR was established by the Government of India in September 1942 as an autonomous body that has emerged as the largest research and development organisation in India.

-- Although it is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

--The research and development activities of CSIR include aerospace engineering, structural engineering, ocean sciences, life sciences, metallurgy, chemicals, mining, food, petroleum, leather, and environmental science.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/two-csir-labs-start-sequencing-novel-coronavirus/article31282975.ecehttps://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-special-session-of-the-un-security-council-likely-on-april-9/article31283742.ece



1.Special UN session likely tomorrow

-        India is gearing for diplomatic activities as the U.N. Security Council appears set for a special session over the COVID­19 pandemic.

-        A special closed session of the UNSC is to be held as early as on April 9 when all 15 members of the highest U.N. body are likely to discuss the situation on the intensifying crisis that has disrupted life and economy in India as well.

-        The session will draw statements from all the member­countries with interested non­members participating as observers.

-        A meeting of the UNSC had been talked about since the beginning of the pandemic in China in December 2019, but the process seems to have taken off with the arrival of the Dominican Republic as the president of the body

-        About UNSC: The United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with ensuring international peace and security, recommending that the General Assembly accept new members to the United Nations, and approving any changes to its charter.

--Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions – it is the only body of the United Nations with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

--The great powers that were the victors of World War II – the Soviet Union (now represented by Russia), the United Kingdom, France, the former Republic of China (now represented by the People's Republic of China), and the United States – serve as the body's five permanent members.

--These can veto any substantive resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or nominees for the office of Secretary-General.

--In addition, the council has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve a term of two years. The body's presidency rotates monthly among its members.

--Headquarters: New York, New York, United States

--Founded: 24 October 1945

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-special-session-of-the-un-security-council-likely-on-april-9/article31283742.ece


2.Gender violence is a shadow pandemic: UN

-        The UN Women has urged member­states to include prevention of violence against women in their action plans on COVID­19 and consider shelters and helplines essential services, calling the rise in gender-based violence a “shadow pandemic”.

-        Helplines, psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted, using technology­based solutions such as SMS, online tools and networks to expand social support, and to reach women with no access to phones or Internet.

-        Police and justice services must mobilise to ensure that incidents of violence against women and girls are given high priority with no impunity for perpetrators.

-        According to UN Women, globally 243 million women and girls aged 15­49 have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months.

-        As per data compiled by the U.N. body, France has seen a 30% increase in domestic violence since the lockdown on March 17.

-        In Argentina, emergency calls for domestic violence cases have increased by 25% since the lockdown on March 20 and Cyprus (30%), Singapore (33%) have also registered an increase in calls.

-        Canada, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. have also registered an increase in cases of domestic violence and demand for emergency shelter.

-        About UN Women: It is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/with-lockdown-gender-violence-is-a-shadow-pandemic-un-women/article31282619.ece



1.Ministry’s move could lead to sex determination: Brinda

-        Brinda Karat, CPI(M) polit bureau member, has raised concern over the suspension of certain provisions under the Pre­Conception and PreNatal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) by the Union Health Ministry citing the COVID­19 pandemic.

-        The suspension of Clause 9(8) is of particular concern.

-        The Rule reads: “Every Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory, Genetic Clinic, Ultrasound Clinic and Imaging Centre shall send a complete report in respect of all pre­conception or pregnancy related procedures/techniques/tests conducted by them in respect of each month by 5th day of the following month to the concerned Appropriate Authority.”

-        Since the medical facilities come under essential services and thus are exempted from the lockdown, Ms. Karat said if the clinic is open and conducting tests it should be duty­bound to keep a register of such tests and suspension of the rule could lead to illegal procedures.

-        About PCPNDT Act: Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. The act banned prenatal sex determination.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/suspension-of-clause-in-pcpndt-act-could-lead-to-illegal-sex-determination-brinda-karat/article31282378.ece


2.States pick up huge haul of grains

-        Several states, led by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have begun lifting additional food grain from the Food Corporation of India (FCI), in order to provide the extra free ration of 5 kg per person promised under the Centre’s COVID­19 welfare package.

-        However, only a few States have begun offering the scheme to beneficiaries as yet.

-        FCI has sent enough stocks to States throughout the country to implement the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) wherein 5 kg foodgrain per person per month for next three months has to be distributed free to all National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries.

- About Food Corporation of India: It is an organization created and run by the Government of India. It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India. Its top official is designated as Chairman. It w