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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 21 July 2020


  1. NSO Survey: On Immunization and Education
  2. US & India conduct joint naval exercise
  3. Oxford Vaccine for COVID: A ray of Hope
  4. UK suspends HK extradition treaty, blocks sale of arms
  5. Govt.: Workers must be paid for extra hours


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Around 60% of children under five years of age were fully immunized and Right from literacy, accessibility to schools and household expenditure on education, the rural-urban gap remains significant., a survey conducted by National Statistical Office (NSO) shows.

Details regarding Immunisation

  • About 59% of boys and 60% of girls across the country have been fully immunised with all eight prescribed vaccinations – BCG, OPV- 1, 2,3, DPT – 1,2,3 and measles.
  • In rural India, about 58% children under five years, and about 62% children in urban India had been fully immunised. (Hence, there is a difference of about 5% between the two.)
  • The survey shows majority of the children received vaccination from government hospitals or clinics. – About 95% of children in rural India and 86% of children in urban India had received some vaccination from government hospitals including primary and community health centres or even Anganwadi centres.
  • Average medical expenditure for hospitalisation in government hospitals has decreased in the National Sample Survey (NSS) compared to the last round.

What is being done?

  • While India has achieved substantial decline in maternal and child mortality rate since 1990, the government’s immunsation drive and campaign to increase awareness and coverage has played a very significant role.
  • The Intensified Mission Indradhanush, launched by PM Narendra Modi in 2017, aims to reach each and every child under two years of age and all pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme.

Details on Education

  • Just 4% of the Rural Households have access to computers as compared to 23% in urban areas.
  • 92.7% of the rural households have a primary school within 1 km as compared to 87.2% in urban areas.
  • However, the situation gets skewed as only 38% of the rural household have access to secondary school as compared to 70% in the urban areas on similar parameters.
  • While accessibility to a neighbourhood school at primary level is not an issue in rural areas, the gross attendance ratio is also satisfactory with nearly 100% of boys and girls in rural as well as urban areas attending classes.
  • There is also a big gap in expenditure in education, especially at school level.

-Source: Times of India


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

A US carrier strike group led by aircraft carrier USS Nimitz conducted a “cooperative” exercise with Indian warships in the Indian Ocean.


  • The USS Nimitz, along with guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton, missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Ralph Johnson, participated in what the US described as a “cooperative exercise” with Indian destroyer INS Rana, stealth frigates INS Sahyadri and INS Shivalik and missile corvette INS Kamorta.
  • This U.S. India Joint Naval Exercise sent a strong strategic signal to China amid the military confrontation in eastern Ladakh.
  • A hard-nosed display of military intent by India, which has now deployed around 10 Jaguar maritime strike fighters, armed with deadly anti-ship Harpoon missiles, at its Car Nicobar airbase in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago – has amplified the message to China.
  • Situated over 1,200km from India’s eastern coast, the A&N Islands overlook the maritime boundaries of southeast Asia and dominate China’s critical sea trade routes passing through the Strait of Malacca.
  • Though it was largely a ‘Passex’ (passing exercise), the mammoth nuclear-powered USS Nimitz and her accompanying three warships were significantly transiting through the Indian Ocean Region after completing a “freedom of navigation” operation in the South China Sea, where an expansionist and aggressive China is strongarming its neighbours.
  • The IAF has already forward deployed Sukhoi-30MKIs, Mirage-2000s and MiG-29s as well as Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters along the land border with China, especially in eastern Ladakh.

Recently in News: Andamans build-up plans

  • India is now looking to fast-track plans for basing additional military forces in the strategically-located Andaman & Nicobar archipelago, along with the requisite development of infrastructure, as an effective counter to China’s expanding strategic presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Defence sources on Friday said the long-pending plans for “force accretion” and “military infrastructure development” at the A&N Islands have “gained a sense of urgency” with China’s aggressive and expansionist moves both along the Line of Actual Control as well as the IOR.
  • The Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) was set up in 2001 as the country’s first — and till now the only — “theatre” command with all land, sea and air forces under one operational commander.

-Source: Times of India


Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.

What is the Oxford Vaccine?

  • The AZD1222 coronavirus vaccine candidate, formerly known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is made from a virus (ChAdOx1), which is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees, that has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.
  • Genetic material has been added to the ChAdOx1 construct, which is used to make proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus called Spike glycoprotein (S).
  • This protein is usually found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 and plays an essential role in the infection pathway of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • This vaccine is intended to induce both ways of finding and attacking pathogens: antibody and T cell responses – so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells.

Results of the Testing

  • 1,077 healthy adults who were given the AZD1222 vaccine did not develop any serious side effects, and their bodies developed an immune response that could protect people for a significant amount of time.
  • There’s increasing evidence that having a T-cell response as well as antibodies could be very important in controlling COVID-19.
  • Phase 2 is underway in the UK only and phase 3 trials to confirm whether it effectively protects against Sars-CoV-2 infection are happening in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

Click Here to read more about Human Trial Phases

-Source: The Hindu, Times of India


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The UK escalated its ennui with China following Beijing’s recent enactment of a security law for Hong Kong by suspending the extradition treaty with it “immediately and indefinitely” and banned the export of items related to suppressing riots.

This action follows:

  1. Recent ban on Chinese company Huawei,
  2. High-profile expression of concern over the reportedly repressive treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province of China, and
  3. Previous offer of a path to UK citizenship to Hong Kong citizens holding the British National (Overseas) passports.


  • UK followed the example of the US, Australia and Canada by suspending extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.
  • The arms embargo extends a measure in place for China since 1989, meaning that Britain will allow NO exports of potentially lethal weapons, their components or ammunition as well as equipment that might be used for internal repression such as shackles, firearms and smoke grenades.
  • The review of the extradition measures comes only days after Britain backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a role in the UK’s new high-speed mobile phone network.
  • UK has already criticised China’s decision to impose a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong.
  • The UK has accused China of a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration under which the UK returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and announced it would open a special route to citizenship for up to 3 million eligible residents of the community.

Related News from Other Countries

  • Japan has protested to Beijing over a Chinese survey ship that operated for 10 days inside the exclusive economic zone claimed by Japan around Okinotorishima.
  • Australia is scrutinising Chinese-owned TikTok for any risks it may pose to users from potential foreign interference and data privacy issues, following India’s Ban on several Apps (most of which are Chinese).

-Source: Hindustan Times, Times of India, The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The union labour ministry informed a Parliamentary panel that it will insist on appropriate compensation for workers in states which diluted factory laws to allow longer shifts.


  • As the demand for workers in factories jumped after production lines restarted many states relaxed labour laws to extend daily shifts from 8 hours to 12 hours to help industries cope up with the shortage of staff.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal have relaxed labour laws.
  • Deposing before the parliament’s standing committee on labour labour secretary, said that if an industry makes workers slog for extra hours, then it has to pay 200% of daily basic pay—as stipulated in the law—for each extra hour, and if the worker is on duty in a holiday, then he has to be paid 300% of his basic.
  • The panel also insisted that the ministry must come up with special social security card for all migrant workers—those coming through agencies, self-employed or joining factories directly—that will help them getting social security coverage.
  • The panel said that as migrant workers have started returning to cities, the receiving states must make the social security cards.

Click Here to read more about Labour Law Reforms and Impact

-Source: Hindustan Times

February 2024