Daily Current Affairs: 15th February 2020: The Hindu+PIB

The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The HinduThe Indian ExpressBusiness Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.

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As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.

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    Context: Political commitment at the highest levels of the Government, led by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is leading the government’s response against Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID2019)

    COVID 19

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially named the deadly novel Coronavirus as COVID-19.  BACKGROUND It was on 31 December 2019, when  WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. To a surprise, the virus did not match any other known virus which raised concern because when a virus is new, we do not know how it affects people. After a week, on 7 January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed that a new virus has been identified by them. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.” Because this was a coronavirus, which usually causes respiratory illness, WHO had advised to people on how to protect themselves and those around them from getting the disease. As of today, 43,100 cases have been reported and the death toll has reached 1,100. The number of infected is increasing in thousands of numbers within a span of a month.  WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS? Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness which ranges from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). They were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans. However, a novel coronavirus (n-CoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.   Basically, the Coronaviruses (CoVs) are zoonotic, i.e., they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. SYMPTOMS: The most common signs of infection from coronavirus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. VACCINE: There is no vaccine for coronavirus. To help prevent a coronavirus infection, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold. Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. WHY THERE IS A CHANGE IN NAME BY WHO? The name is important to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate and which also might stigmatise the disease. Also the renaming is done to make sure that the name is not to be known with geographical location, animals, an individual or a group of people which they fear ends up in stigmatising or isolating the group concerned. In COVID-19 , CO stands for CoronaVI stands for VirusD stands for Disease and 19 describes the year the virus first was identified. INDIA’S VULNERABILITY TO CORONAVIRUS India is the 17th most vulnerable country to importing of novel Coronavirus (nCov), according to a global import risk assessment model developed by researchers from the Humboldt University and Robert Koch Institute in Berlin.  Apart from China, ThailandJapan and South Korea imported the infection and all these countries have seen the cases of coronavirus.  Indian Council of Medical Research laboratories have tested 1,486 samples and only three have tested positive. All three patients from Kerala have recovered from the disease, confirmed health ministry officials. However, they will be kept in isolation for 28 days. Many Indians were stranded in Wuhan which is the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak and 15 students returned to Kerala and were screened at the airport.



    Context: Tulasi Gowda, at the age of 72, earned India’s fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri this year for her tremendous work. 


    Due to her impeccable knowledge about the environment, she is known as ‘Encyclopedia of Forest’. KEY INFORMATION

    Tulsi Gowda is an Indian environmentalist from Honnali village, Ankola taluk in Karnataka state

    In the past 60 years, she was involved in environmental issues and planted thousands of trees to nurture natural life. She planted a record of 40,000 trees and have been taking care of it. 

    She had been doing this despite the fact that her only source of livelihood is her pension. Due to her active role in the reforestation process, the forest department regularised her service and she had been working for 14 days.

    She has knowledge of the species of each sapling she has planted, the benefits of each plant and the quantum of water required to grow them. Her knowledge of plants is no less than any botanist. She is leaving no stone unturned to create awareness among people about the conservation of forests. The saplings she had planted while working in the department in Ankola, Yellapur and Sirsi taluks have become huge trees now.


    Context: The Department of Sports organised Nine events in the month of January 2020 under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Programme (EBSB) in various parts of the country to promote the spirit of National integration through sports.


    Till  January 31, 2020 Department of Sports conducted Nineteen events across the country, with participation of around 1200 players. ABOUT EK BHARAT SHRESTHA BHARAT “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” Programme was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 31st October, 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subsequently, the Finance Minister announced the initiative in his Budget Speech for 2016-17.

    • All States and UTs will be covered under the programme. 
    • There will be pairing of States/UTs at national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings. 
    • The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state level activities. 
    • District level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings. 

    The broad objectives of the initiative are as follows:-

    (i) CELEBRATE the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country; (ii) PROMOTE the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all Indian States and Union Territories through a year-long planned engagement between States; (iii) SHOWCASE the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either State for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity; (iv) ESTABLISH long-term engagements (v) CREATE an environment which promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences. Engagement matrix between states and UTs

    • Jammu & Kashmir
    • Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh
    • Himachal Pradesh & Kerala
    • Uttarakhand & Karnataka
    • Haryana  & Telangana
    • Rajasthan  & West Bengal
    • Gujarat & Chhaftisgarh
    • Maharashtra & Odisha
    • Goa & Jharkhand
    • Delhi  & Sikkim & Assam
    • Madhya Pradesh & Manipur & Nagaland
    • Uttar Pradesh & Arunachal Pradesh & Meghalaya
    • Bihar & Tripura & Mizoram
    • Chandigarh & Dadra & Nagar Haveli
    • Puducherry & Daman & Diu
    • Lakshadweep & Andaman & Nicobar 



    Context: The ESI Corporation during its 181st meeting has taken some important decisions towards improvements in its functioning and service delivery mechanism.


    WHAT ARE THE KEY DECISIONS TAKEN DURING THE MEETING? Firstly, Keeping in view the rise in the cost of living index resulting increase in expenditure related to confinement, existing amount of confinement expenses has been increased from Rs. 5000/- to Rs. 7500/-. This facility is for pregnant ladies who are not able to avail maternity services of ESIC dispensaries/ hospitals due to unavoidable reasons and take treatment in other hospitals. Secondly, ESIC has approved the operationalization of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Quota & Admissions to ESIC Medical Institutions from Academic year 2020-21. Besides this, provisional Admission Policy-2020 for Admission to MBBS/BDS Seats under Insured Persons’ (IPs) Quota in ESIC Medical Colleges has also been approved. Thirdly, the Revised Estimates for the current year (i.e. 2019-20) and Budget Estimates for the following year (i.e. 2020-21) have been adopted and approved during the meeting of ESIC. ABOUT ESIC Employee’s State Insurance Corporation is a Statutory Body and Administrative Ministry is Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India. The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation is a pioneer Social Security organization that provides comprehensive social security benefits like reasonable Medical Care and a range of Cash Benefits in times of need such as employment injury, sickness, death etc.   The ESI Act applies to premises/precincts where 10 or more persons are employed.  The employees drawing wages up to Rs.21,000/- a month are entitled to health insurance cover and other benefits, under the ESI Act. The Act now applies toover 12.11 lakh factories and establishmentsacross the country, benefiting about3.49 crore family unitsof workers.  As of now, the total beneficiary population of ESI Scheme stands over 13.56 crore. Ever since its inception in 1952, the ESI Corporation has, so far, set up 159 Hospitals, 1500/148 Dispensaries / ISM Units, 793 Branch/Pay Offices, 43 DCBOs and 63 Regional & Sub-Regional Offices.


    Context: Union Minister for Culture & Tourism Shri Prahlad Singh Patel and President of the Portuguese Republic Mr. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa jointly inaugurated the Cha-Chai, an installation of art work of Joana Vasconcelos at National Museum in New Delhi.


    WHAT IS IT?: It is an artwork of Joana Vasconcelos at National Museum in New Delhi. It is a wrought-iron sculpture which is shaped like a tea-pot. The ‘Tea-Pot’ and its iron-railings represents the bridge between urban and rural landscapes. The installation by Vasconcelos represents the tradition of serving tea in Portugal that originated in the 17th century. WHO IS JOANA VASCONCELOS?: Joana Vasconcelos (born 1971 Paris, France) is a Portuguese artist who is known for her large-scale installations. WHY SUCH AN INSTALLATION?: According to an official release, India and Portugal are jointly collaborating to develop various cultural projects in India.



    Context: First consignment of Nagpur oranges was flagged off to Dubai on 13th February 2020 from Vashi, Navi Mumbai.


    KEY DETAILS Nagpur mandarin is one of the best mandarins in the world. Production of this fruit crop in central and western part of India is increasing every year. Mrig crop (monsoon blossom), which matures in February – March, has great potential for export since arrivals of mandarin fruit in international market are less during this period.

        Approximately, 40 lakh hectare land is under orange cultivation in Nagpur District and major orange growing pockets are Warud, Katol, Saoner, Kalameshwar and Narkhed in Nagpur and Amravati districts. In the whole region only one variety Nagpur Mandarin is grown. IMPLEMENTATION: For the implementation of the Agriculture Export Policy, (AEP) Nagpur District is being developed as a cluster for Nagpur Orange by APEDA. The APEDA officer in Mumbai has been nominated as a nodal officer for implementation of AEP and cluster development of Nagpur orange. ABOUT AGRICULTURE EXPORT POLICY The Agriculture Export Policy is framed with a focus on agriculture export oriented production, export promotion, better farmer realization and synchronization within policies and programmes of Government of India.  VISION: To harness the export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers income. OBJECTIVES:Following are the key objectives of this policy:

        • Double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
        • Diversify the export basket, destinations and boost high value and value-added agricultural exports including a focus on perishables.
        • Promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
        • Provide an institutional mechanism to pursue market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues.
        • Enable farmers to get the benefit of export opportunities in the overseas market.


        • The policy can help address challenges to exporting agricultural products from India like low farm productivity, poor infrastructure, global price volatility to market access.
        • India’s share in global exports of agriculture products was merely 2.2 % in 2016.
        • Given that the majority of India’s exports are low value, semi-processed and marketed in bulk,India has remained at the lower end of the global agriculture export value chain.  The share of India’s high value and value-added agriculture produce in its agri-export basket is less than 15% compared to 25% in the US and 49% in China.
        • Due to lack of uniformity in quality, standardization and its inability to curtail losses across the value chain, India is unable to export its vast horticultural produce.  
        • The vision of doubling farmers income by 2022 will require a series of interventions to improve production and productivity along with economizing the cost of production. This would also require India to augment its exports to the global market. Hence, it is necessary to have an agriculture export policy in place.

        ABOUT APEDA Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is an apex body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products. It was created under APEDA Act, 1985, to promote exports of agricultural and processed food products Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC) is its predecessor and it has its headquarters in New Delhi.  Pawan Kumar Borthakur is the present Chairman of APEDA.


        Context: Union Minister for Commerce & Industry & Railways and Union Minister of Tribal Affairs chaired a Multi Stakeholders Workshop on ‘Strategies for Promoting and Marketing of Tribal Products’ organised by TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs.



        • Various stakeholders including officials from many Ministries, Industry associations viz. FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM, DICCI, top advertising consultants, top Designers, Social Sector, ecommerce groups like Wallmart, Snapdeal, Flipkart, etc. for deliberating and finalizing a Plan of Action to revamp and expand the Tribes India #GoTribal campaign participated in the workshop.
        • TRIFED has charted out a comprehensive plan of action for realizing its goals. Representatives from FICCI, ASSOCHAM, DICCI, CII, expressed their support for TRIFED and said that their collaborative efforts will further steer the popularity of Tribes India products by Corporate Gifting, getting promotional space for tribal murals/displays in their corporate offices, rack-space in their retail outlets, franchise partnerships, etc.
        • TRIFED also aims to establish Tribes India kiosks in international airports, partner with PSUs, and government departments for gifting to boost the popularity of tribal handicrafts & handlooms across the nation and beyond.
        • TRIFED over the last three years has revamped itself as a network of 120 outlets across the country of which 72 are owned and operated by TRIFED themselves. 
        • Tribes India outlets are already operational at the airports of Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Udaipur, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Pune, Goa, Kolkata.


        TRIFED or The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India came into existence in 1987 as a national-level apex organization functioning under the administrative control of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India. 

        TRIFED has its registered and Head Office located in New Delhi and has a network of 13 Regional Offices located at various places in the country.

        OBJECTIVES: The ultimate objective of TRIFED is socio-economic development of tribal people in the country by way of marketing development of the tribal products such as metal craft, tribal textiles, pottery, tribal paintings and pottery on which the tribals depends heavily for major portion of their income. 

        • TRIFED acts as a facilitator and service provider for tribes to sell their product. 

        • The approach by TRIFED aims to empower tribal people with knowledge, tools and pool of information so that they can undertake their operations in a more systematic and scientific manner. 

        • It also involves capacity building of the tribal people through sensitization, formation of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and imparting training to them for undertaking a particular activity.

        FUNCTIONS: TRIFED mainly undertakes two functions viz. Minor Forest Produce (MFP) development and Retail Marketing and Development.

        Minor Forest Produce (MFP) development

        • An important source of livelihood for tribal people are non-wood forest products, generally termed ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP)’. This includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and include bamboo, canes, fodder, leaves, gums, waxes, dyes, resins and many forms of food including nuts, wild fruits, honey, lac, tusser etc.

        • The Minor Forest Produces provide both subsistence and cash income for people who live in or near forests. They form a major portion of their food, fruits, medicines and other consumption items and also provide cash income through sales.

        • MFP has significant economic and social value for the forest dwellers as an estimated 100 Million people derive their source of livelihood from the collection and marketing of Minor Forest Produce (Report of the National Committee on Forest Rights Act, 2011).

        • Around 100 million forest dwellers depend on Minor Forest Produces for food, shelter, medicines and cash income. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from Minor Forest Produce on which they spend major portion of their time.

        • To cope with the above problem, Govt. of India has decided to introduce the scheme of “Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and development of value chain”.

        Retail Marketing and Development

        • TRIFED aims to improve the livelihood of the tribal communities by creating a sustainable market and create business opportunities for tribal people.

        • It has a network of 13 regional offices across the country which identifies and source tribal products for marketing through its retail marketing network of TRIBES INDIA outlets.

        • TRIFED has been undertaking sourcing of various handicraft, handloom and natural & food products through its empanelled suppliers across the country. The suppliers comprise of individual tribal artisans, tribal SHGs, Organisations/ Agencies/NGOs working with tribals. The suppliers are empanelled with TRIFED as per the guidelines for empanelment of suppliers.

        • TRIFED has been marketing tribal products through its Retail Outlets located across the country and also through exhibitions. It has established a chain of 35 own showrooms and 8 consignment showrooms in association with State level Organisations promoting tribal handicrafts.



        Context: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) organised a training and orientation programme for Resource Persons for competition advocacy to sensitize them on competition law.


        Resource persons from Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and UT Puducherry particiapted. ABOUT COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA  Competition Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India. 

        It was established on 14 October 2003. 3

        It became fully functional in May 2009 with Dhanendra Kumar as its first Chairman.

        BACKGROUND: The idea of Competition Commission was conceived and introduced in the form of The Competition Act, 2002 by the Vajpayee government. The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

        COMPOSITION: The Commission comprises a Chairperson and 3 members


        • In May 2017, CCI ordered a probe into the functioning of the Cellular Operators Association of India following a complaint filed by Reliance Jio against the Cartelization (Cartelization is when enterprises collude to fix prices, indulge in bid rigging, or share customers, etc. But when prices are controlled by the government under a law, that is not cartelization.) by its rivals Bharati Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea cellular.

        • On 8 February 2018, it had fined Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. for 135.86 crore rupees for ‘search bias’.

        • On August 12, 2018, the CCI approved the Disney-Fox deal.

        • In July 2018 the Commission imposed fines on the Federation of Gujarat State Chemists and Druggists Association, the Amdavad Chemist Association, the Surat Chemists and Druggists Association, the Chemists and Druggists Association of Baroda, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Healthcare Ltd, Divine Saviour and their staff and officers for breaches of the Competition Act 2002 by requiring No Objection Certificates before appointing stockists.

        • In May 2019, the commission ordered an anti-trust probe against Google for abusing its dominant position with Android to block market rivals. This probe was ordered on basis of the analysis of a similar case in the EU where Google was found guilty and fined.

        • In June 2019, CCI issued letters to handset makers seeking details of terms and conditions of their agreement with Google. This is to ascertain if Google imposed any restrictions on them for using the company’s apps in the past 8 years from 2011.

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