Daily Current Affairs : 3rd June

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Generalized System of Preference
  2. Rice blast disease resistance
  3. How does going out into space affect the human body
  4. Gene Editing rules of China
  5. Article 370 and 371 A
  6. Heat wave
  7. Body scanners
  8. Facts for Prelims : Central Water Commission, Mission based deployment

1 . Generalized System of Preference

Context : U.S. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation ending the trade benefits effective June 5.


  • India’s termination from GSP follows its failure to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors

What is GSP programme

  • The GSP, the largest and oldest US trade preference programme, allows duty-free entry for over 3,000 products from designated beneficiary countries. It was instituted on January 1, 1976, and authorised under the US Trade Act of 1974.
  • India has been the biggest beneficiary of the GSP regime and accounted for over a quarter of the goods that got duty-free access into the US in 2017.
  • Exports to the US from India under GSP — at $5.58 billion — were over 12% of India’s total goods exports of $45.2 billion to the US that year. The US goods trade deficit with India was $22.9 billion in 2017.

Possible impact

  • India’s Department of Commerce feels the impact is “minimal”, given that Indian exporters were only receiving duty-free benefits of $190 million on the country’s overall GSP-related trade of $5.6 billion.
  • Some experts feel the move will not have a major impact on India also because it has been diversifying its market in the Latin American and the African region and its trade with countries of the Global South has also been expanding at a “very competitive pace”.
  • At the same time, the move could hit Indian exporters if it gives an edge to competitors in its top export categories to the US. The amount of price advantage India has versus competitor countries and what happens to their GSP privileges will determine the extent to which India’s exports will be impacted

2 . Rice blast disease resistance

Context : Rice blast, caused by a fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, is one of the major diseases of the rice crop. Now, researchers from ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), Odisha have mapped out the diverse genes in rice that help in disease resistance.

About Rice Blast Disease

  • Rice blast caused by fungus Magnaporthe oryzae,is generally considered the most important disease of rice worldwide because of its extensive distribution and destructiveness under favourable conditions.
  • Rice blast can affect most of the rice plant with the exception of the roots. The fungus can infect plants at any growth stage.
  • Symptoms can be either lesions or spots. Their shape, colour and size vary depending on varietal resistance, environmental conditions and the age of the lesions.
  • Rice blast is the most important disease of rice worldwide. Under favourable conditions, the disease can results in total crop failure.


  • From 1980-1987, seven blast endemics have occurred in India causing severe losses. Fungicides are very expensive, harmful for the environment and inappropriate application can cause health issues.
  • Researchers around the globe have been on a hunt for resistant genes against the pathogen and so far, more than 100 resistance (R) genes in the rice genome have been identified.
  • The rapid changes in pathogen virulence pose a constant challenge to the success of existing blast-resistant rice varieties.
  • Therefore, there is always a need to identify new broad-spectrum blast resistant genes/alleles in rice germplasm such as landraces, wild rice, etc,

About the Finding

  • Researchers from ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), Odisha have mapped out the diverse genes in rice that help in disease resistance.
  • The present study showed that the rice landraces collected from north-eastern states of India had the highest resistance.
  • The researchers found the presence of 24 previously pin-pointed resistant genes in the 161 rice landraces. The landraces were found to harbour 5-19 resistant genes.
  • The landraces from Tripura had the highest number of resistant genes, followed by those from Maharashtra.
  • The study also pointed out that rice varieties in the same ecological conditions can have different resistant/susceptible behaviours.

3 . How does going out into space affect the human body

Context : NASA placed an astronaut named Scott Kelly on the ISS for a year, measured many biological parameters there as he was in flight. For comparison, as “control” they chose his genetically identical twin Mark Kelly, kept him on earth and did the same set of measurements on him. This case–control study was a brilliant strategy, since whatever changes they monitor in Scott vis -à-vis Mark can be attributed to the effects of space-stay.

Factors that may go to affect the body biology in space in contrast to these on Earth?

  • Zero gravity or micro-gravity : Out in space, the individual feels weightlessness, which will affect his body. On the earth, gravity allows us to stay erect. While standing or walking, our body fluids flow downwards (we have body pumps and valves built in, so as to maintain our circulation against the natural downward flow). In space with microgravity, such fluid movements will be affected.
  • Exposure to ionising radiation or IR : This arises from cosmic rays, solar flares and such, which will affect the circumnavigating astronaut. On Earth, the atmosphere and the magnetic field of Earth protect us earthlings reasonably efficiently. The terrestrial twin is thus better protected from IR than the space twin.

Findings of the Study

  • Some biological functions such as immune response (T cells), the body mass, the microbial content in the gut and a few others were in the “low risk” category.
  • Some others, such as the fluids in the vasculature were of mid-level risk.
  • High risk in space flight had to do with the telomeres at the chromosome ends- they shortened. This appears to suggest that IR had an effect on him in flight.
  • The effect of microgravity was felt in a head-ward shift of fluids, thickening of the carotid wall and hence cardiovascular and cerebro-vascular changes. The blood flow around the retina of the eye and the thickening of the choroid was noticed, making his vision a bit blurred.
  • After he returned from ISS, they found much of the in- flight changes reverted to pre- flight levels. Hence it becomes clear that long time space travel may affect biological and physiological levels and that, the longer the travel the more the effect.

4 . Gene Editing rules of China

Context : In a bid to make babies immune to infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), He Jiankui, a researcher from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, used a clinically untested gene editing tool (CRISPR-Cas9) to modify a particular gene.The announcement of the birth of gene-edited twin girls late last year set off an international furore.

How does it work?

  • Unusual but repeated DNA structures that scientists had been observing were given a name — Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats or CRISPR.
  • In 2012, scientists discovered that CRISPR is a key part of the “immune system”. For instance, when a virus enters a bacterium, it fights back by cutting up the virus’s DNA. This kills the virus but the bacterium store some of the DNA.
  • The next time there is an invasion, the bacterium produce an enzyme called Cas9 which matches the stored fingerprints with that of the invader’s. If it matches, Cas9 can snip the invading DNA.
  • The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool thus has two components — a short RNA sequence that can bind to a specific target of the DNA and the Cas9 enzyme which acts like a molecular scissor to cut the DNA.
  • To edit a gene of interest, the short RNA sequence that perfectly matches with the DNA sequence that has to be edited is introduced.
  • Once it binds to the DNA, the Cas9 enzyme cuts the DNA at the targeted location where the RNA sequence is bound.
  • Once the DNA is cut, the natural DNA repair mechanism is utilised to add or remove genetic material or make changes to the DNA.
  • Dr. He used the CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technique in the twin girls to disable a gene called CCR5, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter and infect cells

Issues with gene tool?

  • There is a general consensus in the scientific and ethics communities that the CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing technique should not be used clinically in embryos
  • There is also consensus that gene editing can be potentially used only to prevent serious genetic disorders that have no alternative treatment. While HIV cannot be cured, medicines can keep the virus under check.
  • Importantly, human clinical trials have not been carried out anywhere in the world to test whether disabling the gene completely prevents HIV infection and what the side-effects of doing so would be. In the absence of any clinical trial data as well as consensus to use this tool to prevent HIV infection, performing it on babies as a form of medical intervention is unethical.
  • Dr. He used the CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technique in the twin girls to disable a gene called CCR5, which encodes a protein that allows HIV to enter and infect cells.

Can disabling the CCR5 gene prevent HIV?

  • While it is generally believed that babies without a functional CCR5 gene will become resistant to HIV infection, certain other strains of HIV use another protein (CXCR4) to infect cells. Hence, even people who are born with two copies of the non-functional CCR5 gene are not completely protected or resistant against HIV infection.
  • There is also the possibility that the gene editing tool could have caused unintended mutations in other parts of the genome, which may lead to unpredictable health consequences.
  • Most importantly, medicines and delivery through caesarean section and avoiding breast feeding can prevent vertical viral transmission from mother to foetus. While women with HIV have greater chances of passing the virus to the foetus, in this case, the mother was HIV-free; the father was HIV positive.

Protective role of CCR5 Gene?

  • The CCR5 gene’s protective role against the West Nile virus is well established, the CCR5 gene can also helps to protect the lungs, the liver and the brain during certain serious infections and chronic diseases.
  • The gene is known to prompt the immune system to fight the influenza virus in the lungs. Without this gene the defence system would fail. In the case of people with multiple sclerosis, absence of this gene makes them twice as likely to die early.

Was the gene removed in both babies?

  • There are two copies of the gene in every person. In the case of one baby girl both the copies of the gene were disabled but in the other baby, only one copy was disabled.
  • So the baby with one functional copy of the gene might still be susceptible to HIV infection.
  • The decision to implant the embryo with only one disabled copy makes the work all the more unethical.

Steps taken by China to prevent misuse?

  • Dr. He’s experiment violates the 2003 guidelines that prohibits the use of gene-manipulated embryos for reproductive purposes.
  • In February China posted the draft regulation requiring researchers to obtain prior approval from the government before undertaking clinical trials.
  • Those found violating the rules will be punished and this includes a lifetime ban on research. China is now all set to introduce gene-editing regulation.

5 . Article 370 & 371 A

Context : Neikiesalie Nicky Kire of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) had a few days ago attributed the lack of development in Nagaland to Article 371(A) that safeguards the customary rights of the Nagas.

About Article 370

What is Article 370?

  • Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Article 370.
  • All the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K.
  • For example, till 1965, J&K had a Sadre-Riyasat for governor and prime minister in place of chief minister.

Background of Article 370

  • The provision was drafted in 1947 by Sheikh Abdullah, who had by then been appointed prime minister of Jammu & Kashmir by Maharaja Hari Singh and Jawahar Lal Nehru.
  • Sheikh Abdullah had argued that Article 370 should not be placed under temporary provisions of the Constitution. He wanted ‘iron clad autonomy’ for the state, which Centre didn’t comply with.

Provisions of Article 370

  • According to this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws.
  • Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
  • As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state.
  • It can declare emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore cannot declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government.

About Article 371 A

  • Act of parliament relating to following matters would not apply to Nagaland unless state assembly so decides:
    • Religious & social practices of Nagas
    • Nagas customary law & procedure
    • Administration of civil or criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law
    • Ownership & transfer of land & its resources
  • The Governor of Nagaland shall have special responsibility with respect to law and order in the State of Nagaland for so long as in his opinion internal disturbances occurring in the Naga Hills-Tuensang Area immediately before the formation of that State continue therein or in any part thereof and in the discharge of his functions in relation thereto the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken

6 . Heat Wave

Context : Severe heat wave conditions will continue in many parts over the next couple of days, especially in Rajasthan and several parts of north and central India

What is Heat Wave

  • A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India.
  • Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July. The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) criteria for Heat Waves

  • Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches atleast 40*C for Plains and atleast 30*C for Hilly regions
  • When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40*C :- Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5*C to 6*C, Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7*C or more
  • When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40*C :- Heat Wave Departure from normal is 4*C to 5*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 6*C or more
  • When actual maximum temperature remains 45*C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared.


  • A heat wave is caused by a high pressure system that hovers over an area. It traps heat beneath it like an oven. High-pressure systems force air downward. Hot air on the ground cannot escape into higher levels. Without rising air, there are no rain or clouds. The sun just bakes the area until a new pressure system is strong enough to push the high-pressure system away.


  • Heat stress causes dehydration and loss of body salt.
  • It can also lead to failure in people with heart conditions.
  • When the core body temperature rises beyond 104 F, organs fail. The gut leaks toxins into the body, creating an inflammatory response called heat stroke.


  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.
  • India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.

7 . Body Scanners

Context : The government has made it mandatory for 84 airports in the country to install full-body scanners to screen air travellers within a year and issued a standard operating procedure for their use.

About the News

  • This will replace walk-through metal detectors and passengers will have to remove shoes, belts, jackets, thick clothing and be “divested” of all metallic items, which is a practice at most prominent airports across the world, according to the SOP laid down by a Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) 
  • Walk-through metal detectors and hand-held metal detectors cannot detect non-metallic weapons and explosives. Body scanners detect both metallic and non-metallic items concealed on the body,” reads the circular on reasons for the change.

How it works

  • Following concerns over these machines generating naked images of passengers, the BCAS has mandated privacy filters.
  • As a result, these scanners will produce only an outline or a mannequin-like image, which is same for all genders.
  • A yellow box appears on the body image to highlight areas that may need further screening.
  • These scanners use millimetre wave technology, which means passengers will not be subjected to harmful X-ray radiation, and the machine is safe for use by all, including pregnant women.

8 . Facts for Prelims

Central Water Commission

  • Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
  • The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development. It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.
  • Central Water Commission CWC is headed by a Chairman, with the status of Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India.

Mission based deployment

  • In an expansion of its Mission Based Deployments (MBD) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Navy deployed its P-8I long-range maritime surveillance aircraft for anti-piracy sorties from Salalah in Oman to patrol the Gulf of Aden
  • Mission based deployment : Mission-based deployment plan involves deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications. Under the MBD concept, the Navy now maintains a ship at every choke point in the IOR at any point of time.  

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