Daily Current Affairs : 24th and 25th October 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. FATF Grey List
  2. International Labour Organisation
  3. South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS)
  4. Integrity Pact
  5. National Supermodel
  6. Diary Farming in Indus Valley
  7. Kisan Suryodaya Yojana
  8. Facts for Prelims

1 . FATF Grey List

Context : The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep Pakistan on the “greylist” till the next review of its compliance to the recommendations in February next year.

About the News

  • According to the FATF Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of 27 action items.
  • As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021
  • The points on which Pakistan failed to deliver included its lack of action against the charitable organisations or non-profit organisations linked to the terror groups banned by the UN Security Council; and delays in the prosecution of banned individuals and entities like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and LeT operations chief, Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi, as well as Jaish-e- Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
  • At the FATF Plenary, Turkey proposed that the members should consider Pakistan’s good work and instead of waiting for completion of the remaining six of the 27 parameters, an FATF on-site team should visit Pakistan to finalise its assessment.

On site Team Visit

  • On-site teams are permitted only after jurisdictions complete their Action Plans. Normally such a visit is a signal for exit from the grey or black list.
  • When the proposal was placed before the 38-member Plenary, no other member seconded the move. It was not supported by even China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, according to the sources.

About FATF and related Issue has been Covered under Daily Current Affairs 25th June 2020

2 . International Labour Organisation

Context : India assumed the role of chair of the International Labour Organisation’s governing body for the period of October 2020 till June 2021. It is taking up the role after a gap of 35 years.

About ILO

  • The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
  • It sets international labour standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.
  • The ILO has a unique structure, bringing together governments, employers’ and workers’ representatives.
  • The unique tripartite structure of the ILO gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes.
  • The ILO has 187 member States and is one of the oldest UN agencies. The ILO’s Secretariat has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and a global network of technical experts and field offices in more than 40 countries.
  • The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.
  • The International Labour Conference (ILC) meets once a year to adopt new international labour standards and to approve the ILO’s work plan and budget.
  • The Governing Body is the executive council of the ILO and meets three times a year in Geneva.
  • In 1969 the Organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

ILO’s Governing Body

  • The ILO’s governing body is its apex executive body that decides on matters of policy, agenda and budget as well as elects the Director-General


  • Role will help India to appraise participants of the transformational initiatives taken by the government in removing the rigidities of the labour market besides making its intention clear about universalisation of social security to all workers whether in the organised or unorganised sector

3 . South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS)

Context : The India Meteorological Department (IMD) launched the South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS)

About South Asian Flash flood Guidance System

  • South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) is aimed at helping disaster management teams and governments make timely evacuation plans ahead of the actual event of flooding.
  • India is leading a delegation of nations, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, in sharing hydrological and meteorological data towards preparing flash flood forecasts. India’s National Disaster Management Authority and the Central Water Commission have also partnered in this system.
  • A dedicated FFGS centre will be established in New Delhi, where weather modelling and analysis of rainfall data observations from member countries will be done.
  • Based on the rainfall and potential flooding scenario, flash flood warnings will be issued to respective nations. Flash flood threat warning will be issued six hours in advance, whereas flood risk warning will be issued 24 hours in advance. Warnings about watershed level will be issued 12 hours in advance

About Flash Floods

  • Flash floods are sudden surges in water levels during or following an intense spell of rain, occuring in a short time duration over a localised area.
  • The flood situation worsens in the presence of choked drainage lines or encroachments obstructing the natural flow of water.
  • Forecasting flash floods is very difficult as an event can occur within three to six hours over a localised area and the water run-off quantity is very high. Flash floods can occur in cities and hilly regions
  • Data from World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) suggest that across the world, about 5,000 people die annually due to flash floods. Despite such high mortality, there is no robust forecasting or warning system for flash floods, noted the Asian experts.

4 . Integrity Pact

Context : The Central Vigilance Commission has amended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of “Integrity Pact” in government organisations for procurement activities, and restricted the maximum tenure of Integrity External Monitors (IEMs) to three years in an organisation.

Changes in SOP

  • The amended provision states that the choice of IEM should be restricted to officials from the government and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) who have retired from positions of the level of Secretary to the Central government or of equivalent pay scale.
  • Such officials who retired as Chairman and Managing Directors (CMDs) of PSUs — Schedule ‘A’ companies and CMD/Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer levels in the Public Sector Banks (PSBs), insurance companies and financial institutions — should be at least of the level of Additional Secretary or its equivalent.
  • Officers of the Armed Forces who have retired from the rank equivalent of General may also be considered for appointment. Preference would be given to persons who have worked in any other sector, other than their own, or have worked as CVO [Chief Vigilance Officer] in any organisation,” says the order.
  • For appointment as IEM, the Ministry, department or organisation concerned has to forward a panel of suitable persons to the CVC, of those persons who are in the panel maintained by the Commission. The previous corresponding provision stated that the panel could include those already in the panel maintained by the Commission, or they could propose names of other suitable persons.
  • The latest orders provides that the IEM will be appointed for a period of three years in an organisation.

Integrity Pact of vigilance

  • An Integrity Pact is a tool developed by Transparency International back in the 1990s as a method for preventing corruption in public contracting.
  • It is essentially a document signed between a contracting authority, bidders and an independent monitor. Legally binding, it commits all parties to comply with anti-corruption best practice and allows the monitor to make sure this happens.
  • Monitors follow the whole procurement process – from design to implementation. They commit to maximum transparency and all monitoring reports and results are made available to the public on an ongoing basis.

Integrity External Monitors (IEMs)

  • IEM’s are a third person who monitors the process and commitments made. They independently and objectively review the documents to determine if the parties have complied with their obligations under the pact.
  • They may submit a report to the chief executive of the organisation concerned or directly to the CVO and the CVC, if they find serious irregularities attracting the Prevention of Corruption Act provisions.

5 . National Supermodel

Context : The India National Supermodel Committee, constituted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and consisting of mathematicians, computer scientists and medical professionals, recently announced that India had passed its ‘COVID-19 peak’ in September and that active infections by the SARS-CoV-2 virus would fall to a ‘minimal’ level by February. The conclusions were arrived at with the help of a mathematical model.


  • We predict the future by extrapolating from the present, based on what we’ve learnt from the past.
  • To estimate how many cases of COVID-19 will be seen in India two months from now, we must have an idea of the number of people who are currently infected. For this, we must know the trajectory of the disease in the past as well as understand how infected people spread the disease to those as yet uninfected.
  • Mathematical models describe this understanding in terms of equations, using input from epidemiologists. These can be used to make predictions for the future.
  • Recently, the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), decided that it would support the development of a single “supermodel” for COVID-19 in India.
  • This would combine the best features of models from India and worldwide. A high-level committee was set up to do this, composed of eminent scientists, including several epidemiologists.

What is the ‘National Supermodel’?

  • From February to March, when the relative numbers of infections were low everywhere in the world except China, scientists began estimating the beginning and the course of the pandemic in their countries through mathematical modelling.
  • Using differential equations, that show how multiple variables, such as infections and deaths vary with respect to one another on different parameters, modellers try to estimate the fraction of the population which is infected at a particular point in time.
  • Supermodel is one that would aggregate the ‘best of’ existing mathematical models

How are the predictions arrived at?

  • One of the models used is the susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) model, which divides a given population into three groups: ‘susceptible’, ‘infectious’, and ‘recovered’. Over time, the number of people in each group change.
  • The number of ‘susceptible’ people is highest at the beginning of the pandemic, for example, since everyone who is not infected is considered susceptible in most cases. At this point, the number of infectious individuals is at its lowest.
  • As time passes, the number of susceptible people decreases, the number of infectious people increases. This model assumes that at any given point of time, an individual in a defined population will be a part of one of these groups.
  • The model’s output is dependent on what is fed into it. In the early months, little was known about the incubation period of the virus, the reproduction number (how many people an individual could infect), how lethal it was, etc. These led to oversimplified projections. With time, data accumulated and improved the models.
  • In the absence of cold numbers, modellers are forced to draw assumptions — on how quickly the disease spreads, the varying susceptibility of adults as opposed to children, for instance — which are a mix of judgment and luck.
  • A key differentiator in the ‘supermodel’ was that it purported to account for asymptomatics.

Details of the Report

  • Report can be divided into two parts
  • The first contains general recommendations for India. The eminence of the panel adds weight.
  • It warns that the gains of the past several months can be dissipated if distancing measures are reduced in the upcoming festival season. It stresses that continued attention to masking is critical. It suggests that, provided we pay attention to these, India may hope to enter the new year without seeing any further sustained increase in the number of cases. All these points are almost certainly valid. All the members of the supermodel committee have signed on to this part of the report.
  • The second is the work described in the published paper about the supermodel. Only three members of the committee are authors of this paper. The authors are an eminent computer scientist, an applied mathematician famous for work in control theory and a distinguished ex-army officer with a medical background. All are well known. None are epidemiologists, even though the committee as a whole possessed this expertise.

What are the major findings?

  • The modelling exercise attempted to hypothesise on what India’s caseload would have been in the absence of a lockdown, or if it were delayed by a few weeks or a month after March 23.
  • If there were no lockdown, the number of active infections would have peaked at 14+ million and the peak would have arrived by mid-May. “There was little qualitative difference between two lockdown timings of April 1 and May 1, 2020. This would have resulted in a peak between 0 and 5 million active infections by mid-June.
  • If there was no lockdown, it would have resulted in more than 2 million deaths. The two lockdowns (April 1 and May 1, 2020) would have resulted in 0.5-1 million deaths. The number of deaths with current trends is projected to be less than 0.2 million

Is it credible?

  • The model’s declaration of India having passed its peak comes nearly a month after the reported date — September 17 — from when the national caseload started to decline.
  • From adding nearly 90,000 cases every day in early September, India is now adding around 55,000 cases daily. It is not clear whether, or how often, the mathematical curve that shows the modelled rise and peak of the number of cases has been adjusted to fit the actual number of cases.
  • The authors say the model expects a decline and virtual extinguishing of the pandemic by February, on the assumption that existing guidelines on restricting public gatherings, wearing masks, etc., continue and no major mutations making the virus more infectious take place.
  • The authors have relied on data from a popular, crowd-sourced database, ‘covid19india.org’, and acknowledge that “…the major limitation in their model was the non-availability of accurate data”. Officials from the Health Ministry have been non-committal about India passing the peak, but admit that mathematical models have their utility in terms of planning.

How have similar mathematical models of the pandemic fared?

  • The United Kingdom adopted a policy of not imposing movement restrictions, except on the elderly, and letting the virus run wild through the population to acquire ‘herd immunity’. This changed after an epidemiological model said that one in two Britons would die with such a policy.
  • India, too, relied on a rudimentary model in April to estimate that the pandemic would die out by May 16 because of the first lockdown. Mathematical forecasts, unlike, say, climate modelling, once publicised, can influence behavioural change, and this affects the model’s prediction.
  • It derives from a standard aphorism in statistics that “all models are wrong, but some are useful”. Independent critics have said such models, at best, lay out what could happen in the next two weeks and it would be foolhardy to foresee months ahead.

6 . Main Cause of High level Child Stunting and Wasting in India

Context : India has been ranked 94 on the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI), lower than neighbours like Bangladesh and Pakistan. The GHI showed that nearly 690 million people in the world are undernourished; 144 million children suffer from stunting, a sign of chronic undernutrition; 47 million children suffer from wasting, also a sign of acute undernutrition. The number of young children in India who are very short and thin, reflecting severe undernutrition, puts it alongside the poorest African nations, with some indicators showing actual declines over the last five years.

What is the main cause for such high levels of child stunting and wasting in India?

  • There is an interesting difference observed between child wasting in South Asia and the poorer nations of Africa, according to researchers.
  • African babies are usually healthy at birth, but as they grow up into their toddler years, undernourishment starts to kick in. South Asian babies, on the other hand, show very high levels of wasting very early in their lives, within the first six months. This reflects the poor state of maternal health. To talk about solutions, we must recognise that this is the root cause.
  • Mothers are too young, too short, too thin and too undernourished themselves, before they get pregnant, during pregnancy, and then after giving birth, during breast-feeding. It is more than a health issue, there are social factors like early marriage. If so many young women are starting their pregnancies so badly, then everything else you may do to help child nutrition later is like simply putting a band-aid on a serious wound.”
  • Almost 42% of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have a low body mass index (BMI), while 54% have anaemia. Almost 27% of girls are married before they reach the legal age of 18 years, and 8% of adolescents have begun child bearing in their teens. Almost half of all women have no access to any sort of contraception. These poor indicators of maternal health have dire consequences for the child’s health as well.
  • Poor sanitation, leading to diarrhoea, is another major cause of child wasting and stunting. At the time of the last NFHS, almost 40% of households were still practising open defecation. Only 36% of households disposed of children’s stools in a safe manner. One in ten children under the age of five suffer from diarrhoea.

How do different Indian States compare?

  • The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey shows wide variability across States.
  • Almost one in three children in Jharkhand show acute undernutrition, with a 29% rate of wasting. Although this is the worst State by far, other large States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka also have one in five children who are wasted.
  • Other States that usually fare poorly on development indices, such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha, actually do better than the national average, with 13-14% rates of wasting. Uttarakhand and Punjab, along with several north-eastern States, have levels of child wasting below 10%.
  • In terms of stunting, Bihar performs the worst, with 42% of children too short for their age. Other populous States like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh also have stunting rates just below 40%, and so does Gujarat. At the other end of the scale, Jammu and Kashmir has only 15% stunted children, while Tamil Nadu and Kerala are around the 20% mark.

What needs to be done?

  • Food insecurity, poor sanitation, inadequate housing, limited access to healthcare — all result in maternal distress that leads to the kind of slow, chronic wasting seen in Indian children.
  • Although India has overall food security with record levels of foodgrain production in recent years, access to healthy food is still difficult for poor households. A recent study showed that three out of four rural Indians cannot afford the cheapest possible diet that meets the requirements set by the government’s premier nutrition body.
  • Over the last five years, the Swachh Bharat Mission’s push for toilets for all and ending open defecation may have resulted in better sanitation outcomes which could reflect in better maternal and child health in the NFHS round five, which started collecting field data in 2018-19. The Integrated Child Development Services programme aims to provide food, primary healthcare and immunisation services to young children and mothers.
  • There is no single solution. Every kind of household deprivation that makes life difficult for women needs to be dealt with.

7 . Diary Production in Indus Valley Civilisation

Context : The year 2020 marks 100 years of discovery of Indus Valley Civilisation, and a new study has shown that dairy products were being produced by the Harappans as far back as 2500 BCE.


  • Harappan civilization is mainly known for the metropolitan cities and the big towns.
  • Still there is a lack of clarity about the parallel economy — agro-pastoral or rural during these times. We know they had great urban planning, trading systems, jewellery making.
  • There is no idea how the common masters were living during the Harappan times, their lifestyle and how they were contributing in the larger network

Current Study

  • Researchers analysed residues on ancient pots, researchers show the earliest direct evidence of dairy product processing, thus throwing fresh light on the rural economy of the civilisation.
  • The studies were carried out on 59 shards of pottery from Kotada Bhadli, a small archeological site in present-day Gujarat.

Details of the Study

  • The team used molecular analysis techniques to study the residues from ancient pottery. “Pots are porous. So as soon as we put any liquid form of food, it will absorb it. The pot preserves the molecules of food such as fats and proteins. Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis lipids can be identified.
  • Traces were seen in cooking vessels indicating that milk may have been boiled and consumed. Researchers also found residues in a bowl showing that either heated milk or curd could have been served. There are also remains of a perforated vessel, and similar vessels were used in Europe to make cheese. So it is possible that they were further processing milk into different forms.
  • The team was also able to show which type of animals were being used for dairy production. They studied the tooth enamel from fossils of cattle, water buffalo, goat and sheep found in the area. Cows and water buffalo were found to consume millets, while sheep and goats ate nearby grass and leaves. A preliminary study suggested that most of the cattle and water-buffalo died at an older age, suggesting they could have been raised for milk, whereas the majority of goat/sheep died when they were young, indicating they could have been used for meat.
  • The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged and there could have been some kind of trade between settlements. This could have given rise to an industrial level of dairy exploitation
  • The most fascinating thing about the Indus Valley Civilisation is that it is faceless — there is no king, no bureaucratic organisations, but there are these very close regional interactions between settlements, a symbiotic relationship of give and take that helped the civilisation survive for so long.”

8 . Facts for Prelims

Kisan Suryodaya Yojana

  • Kisan Suryodaya Yojana is aimed at providing day-time electricity to farmers in the State for irrigation and farming. 

Himalayan Brown Bear

  • The Himalayan brown bear is one of the largest carnivores in the highlands of the Himalayas.
  • It is ‘Endangered’ in the Himalayas and Critically Endangered in the Hindu Kush.
  • A recent study on the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) has predicted a significant reduction in suitable habitat and biological corridors of the species due to climate change, prompting scientists to suggest an adaptive spatial planning of the protected area network in the western Himalayas for conserving the species.
  • The study carried out in the western Himalayas by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) predicted a massive decline of 73% of the bear’s habitat by the year 2050.
  • Himalayan brown bear is taken for the study because it is a top carnivore of the high-altitude Himalayan region. The elevation gradient in which the brown bear is distributed is most vulnerable to global warming as this elevation belt is getting warmer faster than other elevation zones of Himalayas,” he added.

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