Daily Current Affairs : 24th June 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Government e – Marketplace
  2. India – Pakistan Relationship
  3. H1B Visa
  4. Bilateral Bubbles
  5. Feluda Kit
  6. Victory day
  7. India – China Relationship
  8. Facts for Prelims

1 . Government e – Marketplace

Context: In a push to promote local products, the Union government has made it mandatory for all sellers on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), a platform for public procurement, to list the country of origin while registering new products.

About the News

  • Online trading platform for state-run agencies – Government e-Marketplace (GeM), has made it mandatory for sellers to mention ‘country of origin’ on products they wish to sell through the platform.
  • Further, sellers, who had already uploaded their products before the introduction of this new feature on GeM, are being reminded regularly to update the Country of Origin, with a warning that their products shall be removed from GeM if they fail to update the same.

Significance of the Move

  • Changes to the GeM are in line with the Centre’s Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India policies.

How it will benefit buyers

  • Buyers on the platform can now see the percentage of local content in various products.
  • They can also switch on a new Make in India filter to see products that match their preferences on local content. For example, buyers can choose to buy only those products that meet a minimum 50% local content criteria.
  • In case of bids, buyers can now reserve any bid for Class I local suppliers (local content > 50%). For those bids below INR 200 crore, only Class I and Class II local suppliers (local content > 50% and > 20% respectively) are eligible to bid, with Class I supplier getting purchase preference,” said the statement.

About Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

  • Government e-Marketplace (GeM) facilitates online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organisations / PSUs.
  • GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users, achieve the best value for their money.
  • It is hosted by Directorate General of Supplies & Disposal
  • GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.
  • The portal was launched on 9th August 2016 by the Commerce & Industry Minister.
  • Government e-Marketplace owes its genesis to the recommendations of two Groups of Secretaries made to the Prime Minister in January 2016. They recommended setting up of a dedicated e-market for different goods & services procured or sold by Government/PSUs besides reforming DGS&D.


  • To affect an evolution in public procurement promoting a transparent, efficient and inclusive marketplace.


  • Institute a unified procurement policy to encourage behavorial change and drive reform.
  • Establish a lean, dynamic organization capable of continuous innovation and market driven decision making.
  • Build an easy to use, fully automated platform to ensure transparency and efficiency in procurement
  • Demonstrate commitment to delivering value by ensuring right quality at right price
  • Create a sustainable ecosystem covering all stakeholders and driving inclusive development in India

GeM facilities

  • Listing of products for individual, prescribed categories of Goods/ Services of common use
  • Look, estimate, compare and buying facility on dynamic pricing basis.
  • Market place buying of majority of common User Items.
  • Buying Goods and Services online, as and when required.
  • Single window system for aggregating demands and ordering
  • Transparency and ease of buying
  • Useful for low value buying and also for bulk buying at competitive price using Reverse Auction/ e-bidding.
  • Continuous vendor rating system.
  • User friendly dash board for buying and monitoring supplies and payments
  • Return policy

GeM features

  • Transparency- GeM eliminates human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment processing, to a great extent. At every step, SMS and e-Mail notifications are sent to both buyer, his/her head of organization, paying authorities as well as sellers. Online, cashless and time bound payment on GeM is facilitated through integration with PFMS and State Bank Multi Option System (SBMOPS); web-services integration is being extended to payment systems of Railways, Defence, major PSUs and State Governments. Seamless processes and online time-bound payment, which is also mandated by the Department of Expenditure, has given confidence to the vendors and reduced their ‘administrative’ cost involved in pursuing officers for timely payment.
  • Efficiency – Direct purchase on GeM can be done in a matter of minutes and the entire process in online, end to end integrated and with online tools for assessing price reasonability. For procurements of higher value, the bidding/Reverse Auction (RA) facility on GeM is among the most transparent and efficient.
  • Secure & safe- GeM is a completely secure platform and all the documents on GeM are e-Signed at various stages by the buyers and sellers. The antecedents of the suppliers are verified online and automatically through MCA21, Aadhar and PAN databases. In addition, SEBI empaneled credit rating agencies are also being used for conducting third-party assessment of suppliers. GeM does a 100% online verification of all vendors irrespective of the value of procurement.
  • Potential- On GeM, the filters for selecting goods which are Preferential Market Access (PMA) compliant and those manufactured by Small Scale Industries(SSI), enables the Government buyers to procure Make in India and SSI goods very easily. Easily accessible MIS also enables the administrators and policy makers to easily and effectively enforce the Government regulations on PMA and SSI sourcing.
  • Savings- The transparency, efficiency and ease of use of the GeM portal has resulted in a substantial reduction in prices on GeM. The average prices on GeM are lower by atleast 15-20%, and in some cases even upto 56%.


  • If pursued to its logical conclusion, GeM would eventually emerge as the National Public Procurement Portal, keeping in tune with the Global best practices; most of the OECD countries, like USA, South Korea, UK, Singapore etc, have a single NPPP and as a result annual savings of billions of dollars are made in public procurement, besides giving a fillip to the domestic industry.

2 . India – Pakistan Relationship

Context: Protesting “espionage” and “terrorism-related” activities by officials of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi as well as the “ill treatment” of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad, the government has decided to reduce the staff strength at both missions by half.


  •  In the past year both sides have snapped trade ties, reduced visas to a minimum and cancelled overflight rights for a few months.
  • In August last year, Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, and both missions have functioned without a High Commissioner since then.

Reasons for reduction in staff strength

  • The government’s decision will bring down Indian staff strength in Pakistan to 55
  • According to India the behaviour of Pakistan and its officials is not in conformity with the Vienna Convention and bilateral agreements on the treatment of diplomatic and consular officials.
  • On the contrary the officials in Pakistan high commission in India is supporting the policy cross-border violence and terrorism, referring both to the arrest and expulsion of two Pakistan High Commission officials on May 31 for suspected spying activities and attempting to recruit an agent.
  • Pakistan has in parallel engaged in a sustained campaign to intimidate the officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad from carrying on their legitimate diplomatic functions
  • Officials who have returned to India on June 22, 2020 have provided graphic details of the barbaric treatment that they experienced at the hands of Pakistani agencies


  • According to diplomats, the impact of the staff reduction will not be felt in any major way on either side, since there are very limited activities being undertaken by both missions at present.
  • However, this is a symbolically strong message, in line with the decision of the government in December 2001, when it protested the Parliament attack, amidst the mobilisation of troops on both sides of the border and LoC in what was called Operation Parakram.

3 . H-1B visas

Context: Tech workers in India hoping to move to the U.S. for work suffered a setback with U.S. President Donald Trump signing an executive order (EO) pausing new H-1B visas effective June 24 through the end of the year.

About the News

  • H4 visas (H-1B dependents), L visas (intra-company transfers), as well as H-2B (non-agricultural workers) and J visas will be on pause through the year-end.
  • Order was issued ostensibly to protect American jobs during the ongoing pandemic but it has been criticised by the tech industry as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle as damaging to the U.S. economy.
  • The order does not apply to existing green card holders, spouses and children of U.S. citizens, those already in the U.S. on temporary work visas (such as H-1Bs) or their derivative visas.
  • Also exempt are those outside the U.S. who have valid non-immigrant visas issued before June 24. Individuals may still apply from within the U.S. for H-1B transfers, but if these are denied for any reason, such individuals could fall out of status.


  • The proclamation is expected to impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas by the U.S. government for the fiscal year 2021 beginning October 1.
  • They would now have to wait at least till the end of the current year before approaching the U.S. diplomatic missions to get stamping. It would also impact a large number of Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.

What is an H-1B visa

  • H-1B visas are a category of temporary visas issued by the US government to corporations that hire foreign workers for so-called specialized roles and skills.
  • Critics of the H-1B programme have long argued it discriminates against American workers, while proponents argue it is essential to preserve a culture of innovation, as it allows companies to hire talent they say is not available in the country.

Have companies ever misused the H-1B programme in the past?

  • Critics of the H-1B programme have long argued that companies have deliberately hired more foreign workers at far lower salaries than what they would have had to pay out to local American workers, adding that the programme has contributed to an exponential increase in outsourcing from the US. American corporations have argued that the H-1B programme only looks to address the talent shortage in the US.

Who all does it impact?

  • Since the ban is effective immediately, the processing of all new H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories stand suspended.
  • This means those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa as of June 23, and are outside of the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until December 31. Workers in essential services in the food sector have been given some reprieve, and their entry shall be decided by the consular officer of immigration services.
  • H-1B, H-2B, J and L visa holders, and their spouse or children already present in the US shall not be impacted by the new worker visa ban.

How does it impact Indian IT companies?

  • Indian IT companies are amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime, and have since 1990s cornered a lion’s share of the total number of visas issued each year.
  • As of April 1, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received about 2.5 lakh H-1B work visa applications, according to official data. Indians had applied for as many as 1.84 lakh or 67 per cent of the total H-1B work visas for the current financial year ending March 2021.
  • Apart from the suspension of these work visas, the executive order signed by Trump has also made sweeping changes to the H-1B work visa norms, which will no longer be decided by the currently prevalent lottery system. The new norms will now favour highly-skilled workers who are paid the highest wages by their respective companies.
  • This could result in a significant impact on margins and worker wages of Indian IT companies which send thousands of low-cost employees to work on client sites in the US. Though the large Indian IT companies have cut down their dependency on H-1B and other worker visas by hiring as much as 50 per cent of staff locally, they still rely on these visas to keep costs in check.
  • Indian IT companies also offer subcontracts to Indian nationals already present in the US with valid H-1B visas. Bangalore-based Wipro spends as much as 20 per cent of its revenue to subcontract Indian workers with valid H-1B visas.

4. Bilateral Bubbles

Context: India is likely to enter into bilateral agreements with the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany to restart international air travel.

About the News

  • The government is discussing a template known as “travel bubble”, which permits relatively unrestricted and risk-free travel between two countries positioned similarly vis-a-vis the spread of COVID-19.
  • India is looking at the prospect of establishing individual bilateral bubbles — India-U.S., India-France, India-Germany, India-U.K. These are all destinations where demand for travel has not diminished.

What is a travel bubble?

  • The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to help put their economies back on track post-Covid lockdowns have started with what is being referred to as a ‘travel bubble’.
  • ‘Travel bubbles’ are now being recommended to keep at least parts of the global economy afloat with tourism.
  • Creating a travel bubble involves reconnecting countries or states that have shown a good level of success in containing the novel coronavirus pandemic domestically.
  • Such a bubble would allow the members of the group to rekindle trade ties with each other, and kickstart sectors such as travel and tourism.

5 . FELUDA kits

Context : CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) announced a collaboration with Tata Sons Ltd. to develop a paper-based test, called FELUDA, that could detect the presence of the virus.

About Feluda Kit

  • The ‘Feluda’ test strip was invented by a team led by two Bengali-origin scientists — Dr Souvik Maiti and Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty — at CSIR-IGIB.
  • The simple paper-based test strip could reduce Covid-19 testing costs — the real-time polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) used currently requires machinery worth lakhs of rupees and its price is capped at Rs 4,500 in private labs, but the ‘Feluda’ test could cost as little as Rs 500.
  • FELUDA (FNCas-9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay), is relatively more adaptable and could be used in conventional pathology labs that didn’t have a PCR machine. The results would also be available in one hour.
  • The FELUDA kit, which uses a CRISPR-cas9 gene editing system to detect the coronavirus, was developed completely in-house.
  • It can be used in a way similar to pregnancy test strips widely available over the counter.
  • This strip will just change colour, and can be used in a simple pathological lab. The most important part is it will be 100 per cent accurate

6 . Victory Day

Context: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is on a three-day trip to Russia to attend the 75th Victory Day. India has sent a tri-services contingent to participate in the Victory Day Parade on Wednesday. China’s Defence Minister and troops will also be present.

What is Victory Day?

  • Victory Day marks the end of World War II and the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945.
  • Adolf Hitler had shot himself on April 30. On May 7, German troops surrendered, which was formally accepted the next day, and came into effect on May 9.
  • In most European countries, it is celebrated on May 8, and is called the Victory in Europe Day.

Why does Russia not celebrate Victory Day on the same date?

  • The erstwhile Soviet Union had not wanted the surrender to take place in the west, and wanted that such a significant event should reflect the contribution of the Red Army and the Soviet population.
  • According to military historian Antony Beevor’s definitive book on World War II, Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union, wanted Germany to also sign a surrender in Berlin.
  • The Act of Military Surrender was signed in the early hours of May 7 in France at Rheims, which was the headquarters of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). The surrender was to come into effect a minute past midnight on May 9.
  • But Stalin could not let the final ceremony take place in the west, so he insisted that the Germans sign another surrender in Berlin, at one minute past midnight on 9 May, the moment the capitulation agreed at Rheims came into effect”. Though the document was signed, Beevor says that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill “cabled Stalin to explain that, since crowds were already gathering in London to celebrate, Victory in Europe Day celebration in Britain would take place on 8 May, as they did in the United States”.
  • This did not convince Stalin, who argued that “Soviet troops were still fighting” the German forces in many areas. German soldiers did not surrender in East Prussia, Courland Peninsula, Czechoslovakia till later. “Victory celebration could therefore not begin in the Soviet Union till 9 May. Since then May 9 has been celebrated at Victory Day in Russia.

If May 9 is Victory Day, why is it being celebrated on June 24?

  • This year, the celebrations this year were pushed to June because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Is the June 24 date particularly significant?

  • First Victory Day Parade took place on June 24 in Moscow. However, since then, the Victory Day Parades have taken place on May 9.

7 . India – China Relationship

Context: India and China have arrived at a “mutual consensus” to disengage on their disputed eastern Ladakh boundary.

Details of the Disengagement

  • The roadmap discussed at the meeting was the one being followed earlier before “it was disrupted by that unfortunate incident” – a reference to the Galwan Valley incident. It means a sector-wise disengagement, starting from one of three friction areas and then moving on to other areas.
  • Within each sector, there will be stage-wise disengagement where soldiers from both sides will move back by a certain distance. This means that a de facto ‘buffer zone’ will be created by both sides in these areas on the LAC. It was during this stage-wise process of vacating a de facto ‘buffer zone’ in the Galwan Valley that soldiers of both sides clashed.
  • The stage-wise disengagement process will also involve shifting of military camps and reduction in strength of soldiers on both sides.

8 . Facts for Prelims

Advertisements of Drugs

  • Advertisements of drugs, including Ayurvedic medicines, are regulated under the provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, and Rules thereunder and the directives issued by the Central government in the wake of COVID outbreak.
  • The Act prohibit the advertisement for certain purposes of remedies alleged to possess magic qualities and it also prohibits of misleading advertisements relating to drugs.
  • Magic remedy‟ includes a talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals

Leave a comment

error: Content is protected !! Copying and sharing on Social media / websites will invite legal action