Daily Current Affairs : 10th June 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. Social Vaccine
  2. India – China Face off
  3. Credit Guarantee Scheme
  4. QS World University Ranking
  5. Section 51 of Disaster Management Act
  6. Forex Reserves
  7. Clinical Trials
  8. Facts for Prelims

1 . Social vaccine

Context: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday said that social vaccine”— strict adherence to physical distancing, hand hygiene and using mask/face covers — is the need of the hour as India enters the Unlock 1.0 phase where restrictions have been eased.

What is Social Vaccine

  • A social vaccine is a metaphor for a series of social and behavioural measures that governments can use to raise public consciousness about unhealthy situations through social mobilisation.
  • Social mobilisation can empower populations to resist unhealthy practices, increase resilience, and foster advocacy for change. This can drive political will to take action in the interests of society and hold governments accountable to address the social determinants of health by adopting progressive socio-economic policies and regulatory mechanisms that promote health equity and reduce vulnerability to disease.


  • When applied to pandemics, the effectiveness of a social vaccine is determined by the extent of dissemination and uptake of accurate information about personal infection risk and methods to reduce the risk through consistent core messages disseminated through a variety of means.
  • A social vaccine addresses barriers and facilitators of behaviour change, whether attitudinal, social, cultural, or economic, and supplements information, education, and communication (IEC) with targeted social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) strategies.
  • Uganda and Thailand used these strategies effectively during the HIV/AIDS pandemic to bring down the incidence of HIV infection, before highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) was introduced in 1995. They demonstrated how an effective social vaccine helped “flatten the curve” till effective treatments were discovered that dramatically reduced mortality, viral loads and infection transmission.

2 . India, China agree to ease stand-off

Context: Indian and Chinese troops began a partial “disengagement” from some of the stand-off points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. It can be considered as the first sign of moving towards resolution of the month long stand-off between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army there.

Why do face-offs occur?

  • Face-off and stand-off situations occur along the LAC in areas where India and China have overlapping claim lines. The LAC has never been demarcated. Differing perceptions are particularly acute in around two dozen spots across the Western (Ladakh), Middle (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), Sikkim, and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors of the India-China border.
  • The boundary in the Sikkim sector is broadly agreed, but has not been delineated. Face-offs occur when patrols encounter each other in the contested zones between overlapping claim lines. Protocols agreed to in 2005 and 2013 detail rules of engagement to prevent such incidents, but have not always been adhered to.

What is behind the latest tensions?

  • The stand-off in Galwan valley, according to reports, was triggered by China moving in troops and equipment to stop construction activity by India. Delhi says this was well within India’s side of the LAC.
  • The LAC was thought to be settled in this area which has not seen many incidents in the past, but China now appears to think otherwise. The northern bank of Pangong lake has, however, been a point of contention where there are differing perceptions of the LAC.
  • The incident in Sikkim is somewhat unexpected as the contours of the LAC are broadly agreed to in this sector. The broader context for the tensions appears to be a changing dynamic along the LAC, as India plays catch-up in improving infrastructure there. China has enjoyed an advantage in infrastructure as well as terrain that is more favourable to mobilisation.
  • Previous agreements between the two countries have recognised both sides’ need for “mutual and equal security”, implicitly taking into consideration the different — and more difficult — terrain on India’s side that hinders mobilisation from depth.

Why has not the LAC been clarified?

  • India has long proposed an exercise to clarify differing perceptions of the LAC to prevent such incidents. Maps were exchanged in the Middle Sector, but the exercise fell through in the Western Sector where divergence is the greatest.
  • China has since rejected this exercise, viewing it as adding another complication to the on-going boundary negotiations. India’s argument is rather than agree on one LAC, the exercise could help both sides understand the claims of the other, paving the way to regulate activities in contested areas until a final settlement of the boundary dispute.

What is the state of boundary negotiations?

  • The 22nd round of talks between the Special Representatives, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China’s State Councillor Wang Yi, was held in Delhi in December 2019.
  • Both “agreed that an early settlement of the boundary question serves the fundamental interests of both countries” and “resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution”.
  • In 2005, an agreement on political parameters and guiding principles completed the first of three stages of the talks. The current, and most difficult, stage involves agreeing a framework to resolve the dispute in all sectors. The final step will involve delineating and demarcating the boundary in maps and on the ground.

Current Status of the standoff

  • Partial deinduction has happened from some points in the Galwan and Hot Springs areas. Chinese side removed some of the tents and some troops and vehicles have been moved back, and the Indian side, too, has reciprocated.
  • At some points in the Galwan Valley, Chinese troops have moved back 2-3 km. However, there is no change on the ground situation at Pangong Tso.
  • This is also the first time senior government officials have acknowledged the continued presence of Chinese troops in these areas where India patrols, and the heavy build-up of vehicles and firepower behind the LAC lines.
  • However, major worries remain at the Pangong Tso (lake), where territory is marked by ridges or “Fingers” in increasing serial order towards Chinese territory.
  • India claims up to Finger 8 and patrols up to Finger 4, but after a skirmish on May 5, Chinese troops have dug in at Finger 4. No mention was made of the situation at Naku La in Sikkim, where the stand-off continues, as the focus for these talks was the Ladakh situation.
  • At the meeting, both sides agreed and identified five locations of conflict currently — PP 14, 15 and 17, North bank of Pangong Tso and Chushul.

India’s Stand

  • India is “firm” on restoring the status quo to pre-May 5 positions.
  • India will continue to have a major build-up until China withdraws the build-up done there.
  • Indian side told the Chinese counterparts that it would not stop construction, including the DBO road, as it is well within Indian territory.

3 . Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises

Context: While public sector banks (PSBs) have stared sanctioning loans under the credit guarantee scheme for micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs), the government now wants to know if private lenders are also participating in the scheme.This is because the private sector banks have a significant exposure to MSME credit. With the total loan outstanding to the MSMEs at ₹17.75 lakh crore, India’s largest private lender HDFC Bank’s share is about 13%. The balance is shared between other private lenders, PSBs and NBFCs.


  • The government on May 26 notified the Rs 3 lakh crore Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to help them tide over the economic distress being faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL)?

  • The GECL is a loan for which 100 percent guarantee would be provided by National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company (NCGTC) to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), and which will be extended in the form of additional working capital term loan facility in case of Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) and Financial Institutions (FIs), and additional term loan facility in case of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), to eligible MSMEs/ Business Enterprises and interested Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) borrowers.
  • Credit under GECL would be up to 20 percent of the borrower’s total outstanding credit up to Rs 25 crore, excluding off-balance sheet and non-fund based exposures, as on February 29, 2020, i.e., additional credit shall be up to Rs 5 crore.

Objectives of the Scheme?

  • The Scheme is a specific response to the unprecedented situation COVID-19.
  • It seeks to provide much-needed relief to the MSME sector by incentivizing MLIs to provide additional credit of up to Rs 3 lakh crore at low cost, thereby enabling MSMEs to meet their operational liabilities and restart their businesses.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme?

  • The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme provides 100 percent guarantee coverage by NCGTC to MLIs on GECL of up to Rs 3 lakh crore to eligible MSMEs.
  • MSMEs for the purpose of this Scheme will include MSMEs/ Business Enterprises which are constituted as Proprietorships, Partnerships, Registered Companies, Trusts and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), and also interested borrowers under PMMY.
  • Under this scheme, MSMEs borrowers with up to Rs 25 crores of total borrowing can avail an additional 20 percent of the loan outstanding from banks, NBFCs, and other financial institutions (FI).
  • This incremental lending by banks and financial institutions of up to Rs 3 lakh crore in total will be 100 percent guaranteed by the Government of India.
  • Borrowers will have a one-year moratorium of repayment, and the interest rate charged by banks/FIs will be capped 9.25 percent, and at 14 percent in the case of NBFCs.
  • The scheme is also aimed at helping stressed borrowers who are not in default, therefore borrowers with standard accounts (with timely repayment), SMA-0 (with overdue of up to 30 days) and SMA-1 (with overdubs of up to 60 days) are eligible to take these loans.
  • The government will set up a Rs 41,600 crore fund under National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Limited (NCGTC) for this scheme.
  • It is a pre-approved loan

Member Lending Institutions

  • All Scheduled Commercial Banks are eligible as MLIs.
  • NBFCs which have been in operation for at least 2 years as on February 29, 2020
  • Financial Institutions will also be eligible as MLIs under the Scheme.

Eligibility criteria under the Scheme

  • All MSME borrower accounts with combined outstanding loans across all MLIs of up to Rs 25 crore as on February 29, 2020, and annual turnover of up to Rs 100 crore in FY 2019-20. In case accounts for FY 2019-20 are yet to be audited/finalized, the MLI may rely upon the borrower’s declaration of turnover.
  • The Scheme is valid only for existing customers on the books of the MLI.
  • Borrower accounts should be classified as regular, SMA-0 or SMA-1 as on February 29, 2020. Accounts classified as NPA or SMA-2 as on February 29, 2020 will not be eligible under the Scheme.
  • The MSME borrower must be GST registered in all cases where such registration is mandatory. This condition will not apply to MSMEs that are not required to obtain GST registration.
  • Loans provided in individual capacity will not be covered under the Scheme.

4 . QS World University rankings

Context: The top five Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science have all dropped in this year’s QS World University rankings.

Details of the rankings

  • IIT-Bombay still maintains its position as the top institution in India in the QS rankings, but has slipped 20 places from 152 to 172 in the global list. IISc overtook IIT Delhi to make it to the second place, but still dropped a rank to 185. IIT Delhi fell more than 10 places in the rankings to 193 rank, while IIT Madras is at 275. Both IIT Kharagpur and IIT Kanpur crashed out of the top 300. IIT Roorkee maintained its ranking at 383, while IIT Guwahati improved from 491 to 470. IIT Hyderabad entered the top 1,000 for the first time.
  • Only the newer IITs in Guwahati and Hyderabad were able to show improvement.
  • The total number of Indian institutions in the top 1,000 global list has fallen from 24 to 21, despite the Centre’s flagship Institutes of Eminence scheme, launched two years ago in a bid to boost the Indian presence in these global rankings.

Reasons for drop in Ranking

  • According to HRD Ministry the slight drop in rankings of some institutes is because of the parameter of internationalisation. India performs poorest on this parameter, while scoring well on research impact, measured through citations per faculty.
  • Out of the six parameters, Indian institutions get zero score on ratio of international faculty and students.
  • India has scored poorly on faculty-student ratio, because India only counts full time faculty, whereas American universities include Ph.D. students who are teaching or research assistants.

Way forward

  • Indian higher education must find ways of increasing teaching capacity, and of attracting more talented students and faculty across the world to study in India.”

QS World University Rankings

  • QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • Previously known as Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings, the publisher had collaborated with Times Higher Education (THE) magazine to publish its international league tables from 2004 to 2009 before both started to announce their own versions.
  • QS then chose to continue using the pre-existing methodology while Times Higher Education adopted a new methodology to create their rankings.
  • In partnership with Elsevier, the QS system now comprises the global overall and subject rankings (which name the world’s top universities for the study of 48 different subjects and five composite faculty areas), alongside five independent regional tables (Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the Arab Region, and BRICS)
  • Being the only international ranking to have received International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approval, the QS ranking is viewed as one of the three most-widely read university rankings in the world, along with Academic Ranking of World Universities and Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  • QS designed its rankings in order to assess performance according to the following parameters :
    • Academic Reputaon (40%)
    • Faculty/Student Rao (20%)
    • Citaons per faculty (20%)
    • Employer Reputaon (10%)
    • Internaonal Faculty Rao (5%)
    • Internaonal Student Rao (5%)

5 . Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act

Context : Migrant workers should not be prosecuted for trying to reach home amid the national lockdown : Supreme Court


  • A migrant worker who walked home would have faced a year in prison or been fined or suffered both if found guilty of obstructing the law under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act.

Section 51 of Disaster Management Act

  • Punishment for obstruction, etc.—Whoever, without reasonable cause—
    • Obstructs any officer or employee of the Central Government or the State Government, or a person authorised by the National Authority or State Authority or District Authority in the discharge of his functions under this Act; or
    • Refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Central Government or the State Government or the National Executive Committee or the State Executive Committee or theDistrict Authority under this Act,
    • Shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both, and if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.

6 . FOREX Reserves

Context : While the situation is gloomy on the economic front with the GDP growth in the contraction mode for the first time in 40 years and manufacturing activity and trade at standstill, there’s still some reason to cheer about amidst the raging Covid-19 pandemic: India’s foreign exchange reserves are rising and are slated to hit the $500 billion mark soon.

What are forex reserves?

  • Forex reserves are external assets in the form gold, SDRs (special drawing rights of the IMF) and foreign currency assets (capital inflows to the capital markets, FDI and external commercial borrowings) accumulated by India and controlled by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The International Monetary Fund says official foreign exchange reserves are held in support of a range of objectives like supporting and maintaining confidence in the policies for monetary and exchange rate management including the capacity to intervene in support of the national or union currency.
  • It will also limit external vulnerability by maintaining foreign currency liquidity to absorb shocks during times of crisis or when access to borrowing is curtailed.

Why are forex reserves rising despite the slowdown in the economy?

  • The major reason for the rise in forex reserves is the rise in investment in foreign portfolio investors in Indian stocks and foreign direct investments (FDIs).
  • Foreign investors had acquired stakes in several Indian companies in the last two months.
  • Forex inflows are set to rise further and cross the $500 billion as Reliance Industries subsidiary, Jio Platforms, has witnessed a series of foreign investments totaling Rs 97,000 crore.
  • Fall in crude oil prices has brought down the oil import bill, saving the precious foreign exchange.
  • Overseas remittances and foreign travels have fallen steeply – down 61 per cent in April from $12.87 billion. The months of May and June are expected to show further decline in dollar outflows.

What’s the significance of rising forex reserves?

  • The rising forex reserves give a lot of comfort to the government and the Reserve Bank of India in managing India’s external and internal financial issues at a time when the economic growth is set to contract by 1.5 per cent in 2020-21.
  • It’s a big cushion in the event of any crisis on the economic front and enough to cover the import bill of the country for a year.
  • The rising reserves have also helped the rupee to strengthen against the dollar. The foreign exchange reserves to GDP ratio is around 15 per cent.
  • Reserves will provide a level of confidence to markets that a country can meet its external obligations, demonstrate the backing of domestic currency by external assets, assist the government in meeting its foreign exchange needs and external debt obligations and maintain a reserve for national disasters or emergencies.

What does the RBI do with the forex reserves?

  • The Reserve Bank functions as the custodian and manager of forex reserves, and operates within the overall policy framework agreed upon with the government.
  • The RBI allocates the dollars for specific purposes. For example, under the Liberalised Remittances Scheme, individuals are allowed to remit up to $250,000 every year.
  • The RBI uses its forex kitty for the orderly movement of the rupee. It sells the dollar when the rupee weakens and buys the dollar when the rupee strengthens.
  • Of late, the RBI has been buying dollars from the market to shore up the forex reserves. When the RBI mops up dollars, it releases an equal amount in the rupees. This excess liquidity is sterilized through issue of bonds and securities and LAF operations.

Where are India’s forex reserves kept?

  • The RBI Act, 1934 provides the overarching legal framework for deployment of reserves in different foreign currency assets and gold within the broad parameters of currencies, instruments, issuers and counterparties.
  • As much as 64 per cent of the foreign currency reserves is held in the securities like Treasury bills of foreign countries, mainly the US, 28 per cent is deposited in foreign central banks and 7.4 per cent is also deposited in commercial banks abroad, according to the RBI data.
  • India also held 653.01 tonnes of gold as of March 2020, with 360.71 tonnes being held overseas in safe custody with the Bank of England and the Bank for International Settlements, while the remaining gold is held domestically.
  • In value terms (USD), the share of gold in the total foreign exchange reserves increased from about 6.14 per cent as at end-September 2019 to about 6.40 per cent as at end-March 2020.

7 . Clinical Trials

Context: Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd. (BSVL) has received approval from DCGI to conduct phase III clinical study on Ulinastatin for mild to moderate Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) patients with COVID-19, the company said in a statement.

About Clinical Trials

  • A clinical trial is a systematic study to generate data for discovering or verifying the clinical and pharmacological profile (including pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic) or adverse effects of a new drug on humans.
  • It is the only way of establishing the safety and efficacy of any drug before its introduction in the market for human use and is preceded by animal trials where the efficacy and side effects are observed in animals and an estimated drug dose is established.

Phases of clinical trials

  • Clinical trials are carried out in four phases. Clinical trials of drugs developed in India have to undergo all four phases of trials in India.
  • Phase I or clinical pharmacology trials or “first in man” study : This is the first time where the new drug is administered to a small number, a minimum of 2 healthy, informed volunteers for each dose under the close supervision of a doctor. The purpose is to determine whether the new compound is tolerated by the patient’s body and behaves in the predicted way.
  • Phase II or exploratory trials : During this phase, the medicine is administered to a group of approximately 10-12 informed patients in 3 to 4 centers to determine its effect and also to check for any unacceptable side effects.
  • Phase III or confirmatory trials: Purpose is to obtain sufficient evidence about the efficacy and safety of the drug in a larger number of patients, generally in comparison with a standard drug and/or a placebo as appropriate. In this phase, the group is between 1000-3000 subjects. If the results are favorable, the data is presented to the licensing authorities for a commercial license to market the drug for use by the patient population for the specified and approved indication.
  • Phase IV trials or post-marketing phase : Phase of surveillance after the medicine is made available to doctors, who start prescribing it. The effects are monitored on thousands of patients to help identify any unforeseen side effects.

8 . Facts for Prelims

Cova app and GPS bands

  • Cova app is a mobile application of the Punjab government on coronavirus pandemic. All home quarantined persons are supposed to install the Cova app, keep the GPS and Bluetooth on in the phone round the clock so that their movement could be tracked by the app.
  • The GPS wrist bands are primarily for people who did not install the Cova app as they did not have smart phone. The wearer would not be able to unlock the band. The band would be reusable

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