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19th October Current Affairs

‘Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) scheme

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the physical distribution of property cards under the scheme.

This launch will enable nearly one lakh property holders to download their property cards through SMS on their mobile phones and pave the way for villagers to use property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.

About SVAMITVA scheme:

Launched by PM Modi in April this year with the aim to update rural land records, providing record of rights to village households and issue property cards.

It is a central scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development.

The scheme focuses on mapping rural-inhabited lands using drones as land records are inaccurate or do not exist for vast areas across India.

Property cards:

Property card for every property in the village will be prepared by states using accurate measurements delivered by drone-mapping. These cards will be given to property owners and will be recognised by the land revenue records department.

World Bank “Beaten or Broken? Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia” report:

In News:

The Report has Released recently.

Details:

The report analyses the impact of school closures because of Covid on children.

Key findings:

South Asia region stands to lose USD 622 billion from the school closures in the present scenario or up to USD 880 billion in a more pessimistic scenario.

While the regional loss is largely driven by India, all countries will lose substantial shares of their GDP.

South Asia is set to plunge into its worst-ever recession in 2020 as the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the region’s economies linger.

Temporary school closures in all South Asian countries have kept 391 million students out of school in primary and secondary education, further complicating efforts to resolve the learning crisis.

The pandemic may cause up to 5.5 million students to drop out from the education system and cause substantial learning losses, which will have a lifetime impact on the productivity of a generation of students.

The projected learning loss for the region is 0.5 years of learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS), falling from 6.5 LAYS to 6.0 LAYS, an enormous setback from recent advances in schooling.

Based on country data on household labor incomes, the average child in South Asia may lose USD 4,400 in lifetime earnings once having entered the labour market, equivalent to 5 percent of total earnings.

What is the ‘Learning Adjusted Year of Schooling” (LAYS) concept?

Introduced by the World Bank, it seeks to combine access and learning outcomes into a single measure.

It combines quantity (years of schooling) and quality (how much kids know at a given grade level) into a single summary measure of human capital in a society.

How Covid 19 will affect labour productivity?

Increased integration of the global economy will amplify the adverse impact of COVID-19.

Contagion prevention and physical distancing may render some activities, for example the hospitality sector, unviable unless they are radically transformed, which will take time.

Disruptions to training, schooling and other education in the event of severe income losses, even once restrictions are lifted, will also lower human capital and labour productivity over the long term.

Indian scenario:

The prolonged closure of schools may cause a loss of over USD 400 billion in the country’s future earnings, besides substantial learning losses.

China’s Debt-trap diplomacy

In News:

China has announced that it is providing a $90 million grant to Sri Lanka.

Details:

This announcement comes after Sri Lankan President sought help from a visiting Chinese delegation in disproving a perception that China-funded megaprojects are “debt traps.”

What’s the issue?

China has been using the financial tool of debt to gain influence across the world and grab considerable power in India’s neighbouring countries, thereby increasing the amount of political and security threats the nation is exposed to.

How does China’s debt trap diplomacy work?

In a push to gain rapid political and economic ascendency across the globe, China dispenses billions of dollars in the form of concessional loans to developing countries, mostly for their large-scale infrastructure projects.

These developing nations, which are primarily low- or middle-income countries, are unable to keep up with the repayments, and Beijing then gets a chance to demand concessions or advantages in exchange for debt relief.

How countries are being trapped?

There are several advantages or concessions that China asks for in exchange for debt relief.

Sri Lanka was forced to hand over control of the Hambantota port project to China for 99 years, after it found itself under massive debt owed to Beijing. This allowed China control over a key port positioned at the doorstep of its regional rival India, and a strategic foothold along a key commercial and military waterway.

In exchange for relief, China constructed its first military base in Djibouti. Whereas Angola is replaying multibillion-dollar debt to China with crude oil, creating major problems for its economy.

What is the ‘Feluda’ test for Covid-19?

Feluda is the acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay.

It is an accurate and low-cost paper-based test strip to detect Covid-19 in less than 30 minutes.

It has been approved for commercial launch by the Drugs Controller General of India.

Developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Tata Group.

How it works?

It uses indigenously developed CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Significance:

According to CSIR, the test matches accuracy levels of RT-PCR tests.

It has a quicker turnaround time and requires less expensive equipment.

‘Feluda’ is also the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus.

Delhi issues notification on tax waiver for battery vehicles

In News:

Delhi Transport Department has issued a gazette notification stating full waiver on road tax on the battery-operated vehicles under the Electric Vehicle [EV] policy.

Overview of Delhi EV Policy:

Delhi EV Policy 2020 was unveiled last month with a focus to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in Delhi by incentivising the purchase and use of the EVs.

The policy aims to register 5 lakh electric vehicles in the city by 2024.

Highlights of the policy:

Aims to constitute 25% electric vehicles by 2024, which is currently just 0.29% in the in the national capital.

The government will give low-interest loan on electric commercial vehicles.

An ‘EV Cell’ will be established to implement the Policy.

The government will also set up a ‘State Electric Vehicle Board’.

200 charging stations will be set up in a year to ensure that people driving these vehicles can get a charging station within the radius of three kilometers.

The Delhi government will give a ”scrapping incentive” under the policy, which will be first-of-its-kind in the country.