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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 20 April 2020

Contents

  1. E-commerce can’t supply non-essentials; Goa is first to turn Virus Free
  2. COVID-19: Projected Paths of the Pandemic
  3. Islamophobia is rising in India: OIC
  4. Karzai welcomes India’s involvement in talks
  5. Preventing food shortages is high priority for South Asia
  6. Concerns over China’s measures to prevent illegal wildlife trade

E-COMMERCE CAN’T SUPPLY NON-ESSENTIALS; GOA IS FIRST TO TURN VIRUS FREE

Focus: GS-III Disaster Management

Why in news?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 19th April 2020 clarified that supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies will remain prohibited during the lockdown.

Goa, on 19th April 2020, became the first zero COVID-19 State in the country with the last seven positive cases also turning negative.

What did the ministry say?

  • The Ministry issued guidelines for the movement of migrant labourers living in relief camps to their workplace, within the boundaries of a State, in areas where the lockdown will be relaxed from April 20.
  • On April 15, the MHA had revised its guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to allow the States to decide on the additional public activities to be allowed from April 20 in non-hotspot zones. It said the additional facilities would have to be based on strict compliance with the existing guidelines on lockdown measures.
Coronavirus lockdown | E-commerce firms can’t supply non-essential goods, says government

What about the Migrant Labourers?

  • The Ministry asserted that there will be no inter-State movement of labourers.
  • The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for stranded migrant labourers issued on 19th April said that due to the spread of COVlD-19 virus, workers employed in industry, agriculture, construction and other sectors have moved from their respective places of work and are housed in relief camps run by State governments.
  • Since additional new activities, outside the containment zones have been permitted in the consolidated revised guidelines with effect from April 20, these workers could be engaged in industrial, manufacturing, construction, farming and MGNREGA works.

COVID-19: PROJECTED PATHS OF THE PANDEMIC

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology, Disaster Management

Different Types of Projected curves of the COVID-19 Spread

Source: How will country-based mitigation measures influence the course of the COVID-19 epidemic?, published in The Lancet on March 9, 2020

Exponential Curve

  • This offers the worst-case scenario, where the virus spreads uncontrollably.
  • The curve suggests a rapid increase of the infected, as is typical of exponential growth.
  • The infection rate, though varies from country to country, is higher for COVID-19, suggesting a steeper infection curve.
  • During this rapid infection growth phase, the number of people needing hospitalization can grow in leaps and bounds, overwhelming the local healthcare system.
  • More hospitals may run out of basic supplies they need to respond to the outbreak.

Flattened curve

  • Since there is no vaccine to medicine to treat COVID-19 and only limited testing kits to diagnose the virus, flattening the curve is the only effective intervention to limit the spread of the virus.
  • The infection rate can be reduced through a combination of collective actions, such as social distancing of the entire population, case isolation, household quarantine and school and university closure.
  • Though the same number of people may get infected in a flatter-curve scenario as in the exponential-curve scenario, a slower infection rate ensures a less stressed healthcare system, fewer hospital visits on any given day and fewer sick people being turned away.

Sine curve

  • This is the basic example of a periodic curve, a graph that keeps repeating.
  • Flattening the curve can help reduce the rate of transmission.
  • But there will still be the risk of resurgence once interventions are relaxed.
  • Interventions like social distancing may thus need to be in place until a vaccine is developed—after 18 months or longer.

ISLAMOPHOBIA IS RISING IN INDIA: OIC

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Calling on the Indian government to take steps to protect Muslim minorities who are being “negatively profiled,” facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has criticised what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India.
  • Recently the Ministry of External Affairs had reacted sharply to two similar statements on religious “stigmatisation” of minorities in India by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

OIC Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Countries in The World Map
  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states, with a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015 with 53 countries being Muslim-majority countries.
  • The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
  • The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
  • Some members, especially in West Africa and South America, are – though with large Muslim populations – not necessarily Muslim majority countries.
  • A few countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Russia and Thailand, sit as Observer States.

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

  • The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
  • USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives
  • USCIRF researches and monitors international religious freedom issues.
  • The Commission is authorized to travel on fact-finding missions to other countries and hold public hearings

KARZAI WELCOMES INDIA’S INVOLVEMENT IN TALKS

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed the American gesture to bring in India into the ongoing negotiation for sustained peace in the war-torn country.
  • The Afghanistan President said that he hopes India will join the peace process in support of a sovereign and united Afghanistan with a strong government, in keeping with the traditional friendship between India and Afghanistan.
  • During his visit to Delhi in January, Mr. Karzai had also pitched for India’s support to the U.S.-Taliban and intra-Afghan dialogue process in meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
  • During his visit to Delhi in January, Mr. Karzai had also pitched for India’s support to the U.S.-Taliban and intra-Afghan dialogue process in meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
  • The conversation is important as India was left out of a multi-nation dialogue held on 16th April which focused on comprehensive peace process in Afghanistan through intra-Afghan negotiations and on the importance of regional cooperation in support of Afghanistan.
  • India has maintained that it wants the intra-Afghan dialogue to be conducted on the basis of “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led” process though it has not yet formally opened up to Taliban.

India’s Concerns regarding the U.S. Taliban Deal

  • In the Doha agreement, The U.S. appears to submit to the possibility of a Taliban-led government, by extracting promises that the Taliban will not provide “visas, passports, travel documents or asylum” to those threatening the U.S. and its allies.
  • This sidelines the “Intra-Afghan” dialogue, and India’s support for the election process for leadership in Afghanistan.
  • India cannot look at the agreements or the route to Kabul via Washington’s view the
  • Ghani government, which India has recognised as winner of the 2019 election, will only serve for an interim period.
  • This also raises a big question mark on the future of Afghanistan’s government, and whether it will remain a democracy.
  • The Afghanistan-Pakistan dialogue facilitated by the U.S. on cross-border terrorism and mechanisms must not cut India out of the region’s security architecture.

Read More about the U.S. Taliban Deals here:

https://www.legacyias.com/us-deal-with-taliban/
https://www.legacyias.com/a-big-bad-deal/


PREVENTING FOOD SHORTAGES IS HIGH PRIORITY FOR SOUTH ASIA

Focus: GS-III Disaster Management

Adverse Impacts of the World Bank’s Forecast

  • The forecasted scenarios translate for South Asia into sharp declines in exports, disruptions in global value chains, deterioration of investment sentiment, reversal of capital flows, and reduced remittances.
  • An extended lockdown for three months and a more partial lockdown in subsequent quarters would lead to a negative growth for the region, a contraction of 1%.

On Lockdown in India

  • The lockdown is necessary, but not sufficient. It has to be complemented with food distribution, temporary work programmes and a system of testing and tracing, which is needed to reopen the economy.
  • The temporary work programme could focus on food delivery, production of protective equipment, disinfection of public spaces and on the testing and tracing system.

Layoffs Abroad and Domestic Migrant Labour Crisis

  • It is likely that migrant workers, especially in the Gulf countries, will return home, even if many are still stuck abroad at the moment. It is the consequence of the global recession and the sharp drop in oil prices.
  • They will need to find work at home and will indeed compete with domestic migrant workers.
  • That is why the government should create conditions under which the economy can be reopened and should play an active role in job creation.

Food Shortages and Tourism

  • Food Shortage is one of the big concerns.
  • Disruptions in the supply chain and panic buying can lead to price spikes. That, together with loss of income of many informal workers, can lead to food shortages for the most vulnerable.
  • Releasing strategic reserves is one tool in the toolbox. Work programmes and food deliveries are other tools.
  • Export bans will backfire as they will disrupt food supply chains in the region further.
  • Tourism will not return to normal till effective vaccines become widely available. There will be demand for safe tourism.
  • That might be an opportunity for Maldives that with its many atolls and high-end tourism has an opportunity to test tourists and keep them away from large crowds.
  • There might be also more demand for digital services like remote learning or other remote services and for delivery of e-commerce sales. It is likely that more jobs outside the tourism industry can be created.

CONCERNS OVER CHINA’S MEASURES TO PREVENT ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • China recently started a process to classify a step to rein in animals and birds from illegal trading in wildlife.
  • China has drawn criticism from several quarters over its handling of wet animal markets after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
  • China on April 8, 2020, circulated a list of animals that could be traded legally, seeking comments from the public.
  • The Notification was drafted for “eliminating the bad habit of excessive eating of wildlife and effectively safeguarding the lives and health of the public.”

Details

  • The new catalogue included traditional livestock like pigs, cattle, sheep and goats, horses, donkeys, camels, rabbits and poultry.
  • It also included a category of special livestock of local, cultivated or introduced breeds.
  • The sika deer, red deer, reindeer, alpacas, guineafowls, ring-necked pheasants, partridges, mallard ducks, ostriches, rheas and emus were classified as special livestock.
  • Animals harvested for their fur — including minks, silver foxes, Arctic foxes and raccoon dogs — were also categorised as special livestock, with the caveat that they were not for consumption.

Criticisms

  • Experts, however, criticised China’s measures and said the measures were only broad strokes.
  • The government was silent on aquatic species, with the decisions only applying to terrestrial species.
  • While some species were categorised as special livestock, the exemptions were technically only for captive-bred populations.
  • Hunting and sale of wild populations of these species would not be allowed, but that depends on effective enforcement.
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