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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Covid-19: Software vendors focus on big data, AI despite fall in IT spending

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Leveraging AI and Big data for dealing with Covid-19, and how the IT industry could turn the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity?

The article discusses how COVID-19 has prompted the software companies to focus on technologies that are still in demand. The IT companies have started to focus on ways to leverage the potential of AI and the Big data to deal with the pandemic.

Impact on IT companies and how they are planning to cope with it?

  • Fall in spending: Spending on information technology (IT) globally is expected to shrink by 3-4% by the end of 2020.
  • Impact: That would have a severe impact on hardware and slowdown in the software and service businesses.
  • How companies are planning to deal with the situation? Software vendors such as IBM, SAP Software Solutions and Microsoft Corporation plan to make use of emerging technologies to become more relevant to their customers.
  • IBM has created an AI platformWatson Assistant for Citizens’ on its public cloud.
  • The platform helps citizens understand and respond to common questions about covid-19, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
  • While the ongoing pandemic is having a dreadful impact on companies at scale, matured ones are taking a pause and rethinking their analytics approach.
  • Using data analysis to prepare contingency plan: Data science teams are being called into action to crunch petabytes of data and build best business models on trusted data for decision-makers to quickly prepare contingency plans.
  • This is where we are seeing enterprises using AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to mine the data and build predictive or prescriptive models in IBM Cloud Pack for Data.

UPSC could ask question connecting the use of IT and its potential to deal with the pandemics. And it could also be other way round you can cite the example of use of IT in the health sector.

Adoption of the AI by various sectors

  • The government and public service agencies as well as healthcare and research companies urgently need AI solutions and analytics as they are in a race to find a treatment for the deadly disease.
  • Other industries with high end-user touch-points like banks, insurance, retail, etc. are also in urgent need to use AI/ML-driven analytics and cognitive technologies to automate their communications, streamline predictions, decision making, etc.

AI and Big data could be a game-changer across the various sectors, health being one of them. As among the buzzwords in technologie today UPSC could ask about AI and Big data.

Covid-19 as an opportunity for the IT industry

  • The covid-19 crisis is an opportunity for IT vendors to build and improve on their capabilities on AI and big data.
  • Leveraging AI: They are also keeping an eye on emerging uses cases in AI for disease detection, tracking, and prevention.
  • Relatively smaller companies are also launching dedicated AI-based apps to assist people amid the covid-19 crisis.
  • Eka Software Solutions recently released ‘COVID-19 Risk Monitoring’, it help customers quickly gain visibility in supply chain risks by showing a company’s contract position across countries with reported cases of the virus.
  • Based on company data, the app instantly visualises contracts at risk and provides businesses with the ability to identify alternate suppliers to maintain business continuity.

Conclusion

As the epidemic is far from being tamed, various sectors are likely to feel the existential crisis and IT could be one of them. But they can also turn this crisis into an opportunity by leveraging the AI and Big data in tackling the epidemic at various levels.

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

COVID-19 and the crumbling world order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- What factors led to the failure of global world order in dealing with Covid-19, what would be the impact of Covid19 on the globalisation?

Theme of this article is the failure of the world order in mounting a collective fight against the epidemic that has become the global problem. Role of WHO has also come under the scanner. Functioning and reluctance of UNSC to discuss the pandemic have raised questions over its relevance. The issue of China’s growing influence and implications for the rest of the world are being discussed. In the past week, some newspaper articles have covered the same issue for instance-“The deep void in global leadership” in the Hindu.

Failure of the world order and global institutions

  • The contemporary global order and institutions were a hegemonic exercise meant to deal with isolated political and military crises and not serve humanity at large.
  • COVID-19 has exposed this as well as the worst nativist tendencies of the global leadership in the face of a major crisis.
  • That the United Nations Security Council took so long to meet (that too inconclusively) to discuss the pandemic is a ringing testimony to the UN’s insignificance.

The above para. indicates that global order we are living in was made for entirely different purpose i.e. to maintain the peace and they are not capable to deal with the Covid-19  like challenges. So, from UPSC mains point of view you must take note of this.

Failure of regional groupings

  • Regional institutions haven’t fared any better.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s SAARC initiative, curiously resurrecting a practically dead institution, was short-lived.
  • The EU, the most progressive post-national regional arrangement, stood clueless when the virus spread like wildfire in Europe.
  • Its member states turned inward for solutions: self-help, not regional coordination, was their first instinct. Brussels is the loser.

What these failures indicate?

  • These failures are indicative of a deeper malaise: the global institutional framework is unrepresentative, a pawn in the hands of the great powers, cash-strapped, and its agenda is focused on high-table security issues.
  • The global institutional architecture of the 1940s cannot help humanity face the challenges of the 2020s.
  • What can be the solutions? Nothing less than a new social contract between states and the international system can save our future.

Here we come across  the reasons for the failure of the world order and institutions. UPSC has asked questions related to UNESCO in 2019, who knows next could be the WHO.

Factors that will help China come out stronger from the pandemic

  • Reports indicate that China has now managed the outbreak of COVID-19, and its industrial production is recovering even as that of every other country is taking a hit.
  • The oil price slump will make its recovery even faster.
  • When the greatest military power found itself in denial mode and the members of the EU were looking after their own interests, China appeared to use its manufacturing power to its geopolitical advantage.
  • Beijing has offered medical aid and expertise to those in need; it has increased cooperation with its arch-rival Japan.
  • This will aid Beijing’s claims to global leadership, push Huawei 5G trials as a side bargain, and showcase how the Belt and Road Initiative is the future of global connectivity.
  • COVID-19 will further push the international system into a world with Chinese characteristics.

As China comes to dominate the emerging world order, we must pay attention to things related to China. Here, we can note down the factors that could help China emerge out stronger from the corona crisis.

Implications for globalisation: the rise of protectionism and hypernationalism

  • Neoliberal economic globalisation will have taken a major beating in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Economists are warning of a global recession.
  • How the world reacted? The first instinct of every major economy was to close borders, look inwards and
  • The pre-existing structural weakness of the global order and the COVID-19 shock will further feed states’ protectionist tendencies fueled by hypernationalism.
  • A more inclusive global political and economic order is unlikely any time soon, if ever.
  • Instead, as former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon warns, “we are headed for a poorer, meaner, and smaller world.”
  • How this epidemic impact big corporations? The ability of big corporations to dictate the production, stocks, supply chains and backup plans will be limited by increased state intervention to avoid unpredictable supply sources, avoid geopolitically sensitive zones, and national demands for emergency reserves.
  • The profits of big corporations will reduce, and the demand for stability will increase.
  • Will the world after Covid-19 be more balance? State intervention in economic matters and protectionism are the easy way out, and that’s precisely what states will do once the crisis is over.
  • It would be a return of the ‘Licence Raj’ through the backdoor, not a push for inclusive and responsible globalisation with its associated political benefits.

It is clear now that post-Covid-19 world would be different from the world we know today. Globalisation would take a significant beating. And globalisation is important topic from mains point of view. So, pay close attention to the points mentioned here.

Will post-Covid-19 world lead to some positive controls?

  • Rise of state-led models: With the severe beating that globalisation has taken, state-led models of globalisation and economic development would be preferred over (big) corporates-led globalisation.
  • Will this enable some positive controls over the inherent deficiencies of globalisation? We will have to wait and see.
  • The relation between capitalists and the states: But the more important question is whether the state has any incentive to take on big capital.
  • Given the symbiotic relationship between the state and big capital, states have become used to protecting the interests of their corporations, often at the cost of the general public.
  • States preferred capital over health: Consider, for instance, that the first response of many Western states was to protect their capital markets than be concerned about public health.

Rise of racism in post-Covid-19 world

  • Yet another undesirable outcome of the pandemic would be a spike in various forms of discrimination.
  • Globally, societies could become more self-seeking and inward-looking leading to further pushback against liberal policies regarding migration and refugees.
  • Implications for world trade: New questions are likely to be asked about the source of goods. More stringent imposition of phytosanitary measures by advanced states on products emanating from the less developed countries might become the new normal.
  • Lockdowns and travel restrictions could potentially legitimise the rhetoric around border walls in more conservative countries.
  • Tragically, therefore, while one answer to global pandemics is political globalisation, COVID-19 might further limit it.

Conclusion

The world order needs to wake up to new reality take measures to avoid the above listed undesired fallouts that could emerge in the post-Covid-19 world, and before that there is an urgent need for the global coalition to deal with the pandemic.

 

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Use the COVID crisis to transform the agri-marketing system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- What are the issues in agri-marketing and suggestions to deal with them.

This article discusses the impact of lockdown on farmers and how the disruption of the supply chain is adding to their difficulties in selling their produce in the markets.

In the last two weeks or so, we have been reading about farmers and issues around the agri-marketing supply chain. If you have been following the story on Agriculture Marketing Reforms, you would remember us talking about it in the op-ed titled “A smarter supply line”

There are 6 suggestions to overhaul our agri-marketing system. These are-

1. Abolish/reframe the APMC Act

  • There is an urgent need for abolishing or reframing the APMC Act and encourage direct buying of agri-produce from farmers/farmer producer organisations (FPOs).
  • The companies, processors, organised retailers, exporters, consumer groups, that buy directly from FPOs need not pay any market fee as they do not avail the facilities of APMC yards.

APMC Act restrict the farmers from selling their produce outside the market yard, so in the present context of Covid-19 this is a counterproductive restrictions. UPSC asked question on in in 2014.

2. The warehouses can also be designated as markets.

  • The warehouse receipt system can be scaled up.
  • The private sector should be encouraged to open mandis with modern infrastructure, capping commissions.

3. The futures trading should be encouraged by allowing banking finance to hedge for commodity price risks.

A futures contract is a standardized legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future, encouraging this would help farmers assurance of price and help in making decion for the sowing based on price signal from he markets.

4. Promote e-NAM through proper assaying and grading the produce and setting up dispute settlement mechanism; rope in major logistics players for delivery of goods.

5. Avoiding rush in the markets: Procurement must be staggered through coupons and incentives that give farmers an additional bonus for bringing the produce to the market after May 10, or so.

6. The amount provided under PM Kisan should be increased from Rs 6,000 to at least Rs 10,000 per farming family to partially compensate them for their losses.

Way forward

  • Besides these, Prime Minister would benefit by taking a leaf out of the book of President Donald Trump. Modi should lead from the front by holding daily press briefings and announce a country-wide relief package amounting to around 8-10 per cent of GDP.
  • Whatever the causes of this disaster are, it is clear that the WHO failed in its duty to raise the alarm in time. India must ask for fundamental reforms in the UN System, including the WHO, making it more transparent, competent, and accountable.

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Taiwan: a role model for pandemic management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Successful models for covid-19 containment

As many nations struggle to keep COVID-19 infection numbers down, the island of Taiwan presents an example of how to be prepared in the event of a pandemic. As the global total of infections has neared 700,000, with over 30,000 deaths, Taiwan’s count stood at 300, with only 5 deaths.

When you read through this article, try and map the best practices which could be incorporated in India. You might have to tweak a few. UPSC Mains may ask a question on “what could be done better etc.” and this is where you shine!

Taiwan Model of Healthcare Management

  • Located less than 150 kilometres from the original viral source – China – Taiwan has seen far fewer cases of the coronavirus in the past month, with a much lower infection rate.
  • It is also worth noting the practices utilized by Taiwan’s hospitals as they seek to curb the virus and protect patients and medics.

Following were the not so exceptional measures which helped Taiwan authorities contain coronavirus:

1) Smaller staff groups

  • One of the early steps taken was the reduction of the workgroup sizes within medical facilities.
  • This reduces the risk of a community spread within the hospital emerging from infected patients being treated.
  • Depending on the size of the staff handling an area of the hospital, and the number of patients being overseen there, one infection could jeopardize the safety of an entire ward.

2) Traffic control in hospitals

  • Hospitals were establishing separate entrances and exits for in- and out-patients to help prevent the spread of infection via regular hospital traffic.
  • In effect, hospital entry began to resemble airport customs, with visitors passing through a temperature checkpoint and showing IDs before admittance.

3) Maintaining a high bed-per-capita ratio

  • Many countries have found that they do not have nearly enough hospital beds to care for patients suffering from a highly infectious disease like COVID-19.
  • In response, Taiwan has nearly 1,000 negative pressure isolation rooms (an isolation technique used in hospitals to prevent cross-contamination from room to room) available, with the capacity to add significantly more through room reconfigurations.
  • This is a remarkably high number, given the relatively small population of the island, and speaks to the country’s preparedness and advanced medical infrastructure.

4) Best public health policy

  • Finally, Taiwan has benefited greatly from the close coordination between its hospitals and central government.
  • Within the country’s nationalized healthcare system, every citizen and resident is assigned a health card, embedded with a computer chip reflecting their identity and medical history.

Significance of the Taiwanese model

  • Taiwan’s biggest success can be attributed to how ready the country and its hospitals were from Day-1, while other states were still assessing whether the virus was a threat to them at all.
  • Many of these countermeasures can be easily duplicated by India.
  • However, the willingness and effectiveness with which doctors and medical officials have worked to cooperate with each other and the public is a testament to the country’s smart and rational approach to healthcare and disease prevention.

Global Geological And Climatic Events

Earth’s seismic noise levels

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Seismic noise

Mains level : Seismic activity and thier monitoring

Scientists at the British Geological Survey (BGS) reported a change in the Earth’s seismic noise and vibrations amid the coronavirus lockdown. This change has been monitored through a space-based seismograph.

Ever heard of space-based monitoring of seismic activities?  This topic creates a scope for potential prelims question…

What is seismic noise?

  • In geology, seismic noise refers to the relatively persistent vibration of the ground due to a multitude of causes.
  • It is the unwanted component of signals recorded by a seismometer– the scientific instrument that records ground motions, such as those caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and explosions.
  • This noise includes vibrations caused due to human activity, such as transport and manufacturing, and makes it difficult for scientists to study seismic data that is more valuable.
  • Apart from geology, seismic noise is also studied in other fields such as oil exploration, hydrology, and earthquake engineering.

How are vibrations generated?

  • We measure ground vibrations from earthquakes using seismometers.
  • These are incredibly sensitive so they also pick up other sources of vibration too, including human activity, such as road traffic, machinery and even people walking past.
  • All these things generate vibrations that propagate as seismic waves through the Earth.

Reasons for the decline

  • Due to the enforcement of lockdown measures around the world to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Earth’s crust has shown reduced levels of vibration.

How do the reduced noise levels help scientists?

  • The seismic noise vibrations caused by human activity are of high frequency (between 1-100 Hz), and travel through the Earth’s surface layers.
  • Usually, to measure seismic activity accurately and reduce the effect of seismic noise, geologists place their detectors 100 metres below the Earth’s surface.
  • However, since the lockdown, researchers were able to study natural vibrations even from surface readings, owing to lesser seismic noise.
  • Due to lower noise levels, scientists are now hoping that they would be able to detect smaller earthquakes and tremors that had slipped past their instruments so far.

 

Global Geological And Climatic Events

What are Primordial Black Holes (PBH)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Primordial Black Holes, Big Bang

Mains level : Black Holes

A scientist duo from Pune has studied primordial black holes that were born as a result of a tiny bump in the potential energy levels of the universe, at a time when it was expanding rapidly.

Strange space events are known to be the favourites of UPSC 🙂

Primordial Black Holes (PBH)

  • PBH are a hypothetical type of black hole that formed soon after the Big Bang
  • It is believed that they are formed as a result of collapsing radiations as opposed to the collapse of massive stars, which is the case of any other black holes.
  • PBH can be massively large as 3000kms or be extremely tiny like nucleus of an atom.

What did the study conclude?

  • The study has confirmed that this marginal rise in potential energy resulted in birth of several PBHs and also emitted very powerful gravitational waves.
  • Approximately 14 billion years ago before the commencement of the Hot Big Bang phase, the very young universe was found to be active and expanding at a highly accelerated rate.
  • This exponential growth in its size was fuelled by the presence of uniform energy field and density as the universe passed through the Cosmic Inflation phase.
  • According to the scientists, as time passes, this uniform energy prevailing in the Inflation Field wanes out.
  • As a result, the universe resumes its normal decelerating rate.

Expansion of universe

  • Gravity is normally attractive in nature. The PBH did undergo rapid expansion due to the Inflation field which contrarily possessed repulsive gravity.
  • This pushed the universe to expand at a much faster rate than normal.
  • The universe had expanded to nearly 10^27 times its original size, that too, within just fraction of a second by the time Cosmic Inflation phase concluded.
  • Thereafter, the remnant energy possessed by this gravitational force got converted mainly into photons (light) in addition to protons, electrons, neutrons and other particles.
  • As the universe continued to grow exponentially during the Cosmic Inflation phase, it sent across tiny quantum jitters.
  • These fluctuations, released in a specific fashion, when sufficiently large, slowly give birth to galaxies and stars. Among those that were significantly large, helped form PBHs.

 

Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

What is Contact Tracing Technology?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Contact Tracing Technology

Mains level : ‘Contact tracing’ and its significance to control disease outbreaks

Global technology giants Apple and Google have announced that they are partnering on developing contact tracing technology to help governments and health authorities tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

What did tech-giants announce?

  • Contact tracing is considered essential for bringing epidemics under control and is expected to help governments in relaxing lockdown orders.
  • The tech companies announced that they would build a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.

What is contact tracing?

  • The WHO defines contact tracing as the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission.
  • Via contact tracing, people who have come into contact with a person carrying a disease are alerted and identified.

Importance of contact tracing

  • Identifying people at the onset of symptoms and promptly isolating them reduces exposure to other persons, preventing subsequent EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) infections.
  • Additionally, prompt isolation and admission of the symptomatic person to a treatment facility decreases the delay to supportive treatment, which improves the likelihood of survival.

How will the new technology by Google and Apple work?

  • Google and Apple are the developers of the Android and iOS platforms respectively, which together power most of the world’s smartphones.
  • Both companies will release application programming interfaces (APIs) that would enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities.
  • The official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores, as per the press release.
  • When this step is realized, phone-based matching via official apps will help alert people if they have come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Actual working

  • For this to work, COVID-19 patients would have to declare their status to the respective apps voluntarily.
  • Following this, all people whose Android/iOS smartphones were detected nearby such patients, would get notified.
  • This means the user will be notified even if he/she was around a stranger who has tested positive for the disease.

Issues with contact tracing

  • Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort.
  • The tech giants should look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders.

Note: How is our Aarogya Setu app different from the technology mentioned in the newscard?

Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

How a dollar swap line with US Fed can help in uncertain times?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Currency Swap

Mains level : Currency Swap and its significance

India is working with the US to secure a dollar swap line that would help in better management of its external account and provide an extra cushion in the event of an abrupt outflow of funds.

What are Currency Swaps?

  • A currency swap, also known as a cross-currency swap, is an off-balance sheet transaction in which two parties exchange principal and interest in different currencies.
  • The purpose of a currency swap is to lower exposure to exchange rate risk or reduce the cost of borrowing a foreign currency.

Why do we need dollars?

  • According to RBI data, 63.7% of India’s foreign currency assets — or $256.17 billion — are held in overseas securities, mainly in the US treasury.
  • While FPIs investors looking for safer investments, the current global uncertainty over COVID outbreak have led to a shortfall in Indian stock markets.
  • This has pulled down India’s foreign exchange reserves.
  • This means that the government and the RBI cannot lower their guard on the management of the economy and the external account.

How does a swap facility work?

  • In a swap arrangement, the US Fed provides dollars to a foreign central bank, which, at the same time, provides the equivalent funds in its currency to the Fed, based on the market exchange rate at the time of the transaction.
  • The parties agree to swap back these quantities of their two currencies at a specified date in the future, which could be the next day or even three months later, using the same exchange rate as in the first transaction.
  • These swap operations carry no exchange rate or other market risks, as transaction terms are set in advance.

Benefits of currency swap

  • The absence of an exchange rate risk is the major benefit of such a facility.
  • This facility provides India with the flexibility to use these reserves at any time in order to maintain an appropriate level of balance of payments or short-term liquidity.
  • currency swaps between governments also have supplementary objectives like promotion of bilateral trade, maintaining the value of foreign exchange reserves with the central bank and ensuring financial stability (protecting the health of the banking system).

Recent examples

  • India already has a $75 billion bilateral currency swap line with Japan, which has the second-highest dollar reserves after China.
  • The RBI also offers similar swap lines to central banks in the SAARC region within a total corpus of $2 billion.

Note: Relate all other terminologies related to USD-INR convertiblity viz. Current Account, BoP etc.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Issues & Development

Covid-19 donations to CM Relief Fund won’t qualify as CSR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CSR and its regulation

Mains level : CSR/SSR activities and their impacts on social transformation

The corporate affairs ministry has clarified that COVID-19 donations to CM Relief Fund won’t qualify as CSR contributions.

Contributions considered under CSR

  • According to the ministry, contributions made to the State Disaster Management Authority to combat COVID-19 would qualify as CSR expenditure.
  • The contributions by companies to PM-CARES Fund to tackle the pandemic would be considered as CSR.
  • Ex-gratia payments made to temporary, casual and daily wage workers by companies will be considered as CSR expenditure under the company’s law, provided that such payments are over and above disbursement of wages.
  • The contribution towards ‘Chief Minister’s Relief Fund’ or ‘State Relief Fund for COVID-19’ would not be considered as spending towards CSR work.

Note: Please remember or make note of the various contributions complying for CSR.


Back2Basics: CSR in India

  • India is the first country in the world to make corporate social responsibility (CSR) mandatory, following an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013 in April 2014.
  • Prior to that, the CSR clause was voluntary for companies, though it was mandatory to disclose their CSR spending to shareholders.
  • Businesses can invest their profits in areas such as education, poverty, gender equality, and hunger as part of any CSR compliance.
  • Under the Companies Act, 2013, certain classes of profitable entities are required to spent at least 2 per cent of their three-year average annual net profit towards CSR activities.
  • Under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, every company having net worth of at least ₹500 crore, turnover of ₹1,000 crore or more, or a minimum net profit of ₹5 crore during the immediately preceding financial year, has to make CSR expenditure.

Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

[pib] Diverse names of harvesting festival

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Harvesting festivals across India

Mains level : Not Much

The nation today celebrates the festival of harvest, Vaishakhi under diverse names. Vaisakhi celebrates the solar new year, based on the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar.

Vaishakhi

  • Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi is a historical and religious festival in Sikhism.
  • It is usually celebrated on 13 or 14 April every year which commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
  • In Sikhism, Vaisakhi marks the start of the Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh.

Other names

  • Maha Bishuba Pana Sankranti (Odisha)
  • Bikhu or Bikhauti (Kumaon region of Uttarakhand)
  • Bisu (Tulu region of Karnataka)
  • Bohag Bihu (Assam)
  • Puthandu (Tamil Nadu)
  • Vishu (Kerala)

Note: Harvest festivals are significant events. Do try to remember their names as one can expect a match the pair question.

Coronavirus – Economic Issues

[pib] Operation Lifeline UDAN

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Operation Lifeline UDAN

Mains level : Not Much

To ensure a steady supply of essentials, even in the most remote locations, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry launched ‘Lifeline Udan’.

Don’t get confused or correlate this with Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) Scheme. The name clearly indicates that it is an HADR like operation. Whats HADR? Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Op. Lifeline Udan

  • Under this operation, flights are being operated to transport essential medical cargo to remote parts of the country amid the lockdown to support India’s fight against Covid-19.
  • The flights have been operated by Air India, Alliance Air, Indian Air Force, Pawan Hans and private carriers.
  • The cargo compulsorily supplies goods such as regents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits and PPE, masks, gloves and other essential items as applicable by the State and UT Governments.
  • Air India is shouldered to operate dedicated scheduled cargo flights to other countries for transfer of critical medical supplies, as per the requirement.

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

[pib] YUKTI web-portal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : YUKTI portal

Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak and its mitigation

Union Ministry for HRD has launched a web-portal YUKTI (Young India Combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation).

There are various web/portals/apps with peculiar names, ex. DISHA, SWAYAM. Note them down with their one line purpose. UPSC Prelims may quiz you on these.

YUKTI web-portal

  • YUKTI is a unique portal and dashboard to monitor and record the efforts and initiatives of MHRD.
  • The portal intends to cover the different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges in a very holistic and comprehensive way.
  • The primary aim of the portal is to keep academic community healthy, both physically & mentally and to enable a continuous high-quality learning environment for learners.

Utility of the portal

  • The portal allows various institutions to share their strategies for various challenges which are there because of the unprecedented situation of COVID-19 and other future initiatives.
  • It will give inputs for better planning and will enable MHRD to monitor effectively its activities for coming six months.
  • It will establish a two-way communication channel between the Ministry of HRD and the institutions so that the Ministry can provide the necessary support system to the institutions.