Daily Current Affairs : 6th & 7th October 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Nobel Price in Medicine
  2. Kamath Panel
  3. Nobel Prize in Physics
  4. SMART system
  5. Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Nobel Prize in Medicine

Context : This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine rewards an effort that eventually made blood transfusion safer for everyone. American scientists Harvey Alter and Charles Rice, and Michael Houghton of the UK, have been recognised for their contributions to the discovery of a new virus that was the cause of a vast majority of chronic hepatitis cases, or cases of serious liver inflammation, in patients who required blood transfusion. This virus was eventually called Hepatitis C virus.

What is hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
  • There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
    • Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
    • Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.
    • Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact. 
    • Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. 

What are the different hepatitis viruses?

Scientists have identified 5 unique hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. While all cause liver disease, they vary in important ways.

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Certain sex practices can also spread HAV. Infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further HAV infections. However, HAV infections can also be severe and life threatening. Most people in areas of the world with poor sanitation have been infected with this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.
  • Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.
  • Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of disease in developed countries. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available. 

What was known about hepatitis before the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus?

  • Before the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, two other viruses were known to cause hepatitis in patients.
  • The Hepatitis A virus was known to spread mainly through contaminated food and water, and caused a relatively milder form of liver inflammation.
  • Hepatitis B, discovered in the 1960s, was known to transmit mainly through infected blood, and caused a more serious form of the disease.
  • The discovery of the Hepatitis B virus too was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Medicine, given to Baruch Blumberg in 1976. There are vaccines available for this disease now.
  • The discovery and identification of Hepatitis B virus facilitated the development of a diagnostic test to detect its presence in blood. Thereafter, only blood sanitised from this virus would be given to patients, but it was observed that even this sanitised blood was able to prevent only 20% of the blood-borne hepatitis cases. It was then that the search for the new virus began.

How was it found, and what was the contribution of each Nobel winner?

  • In the 1960s, Alter had a collaborated with Blumberg, the 1976 Nobel winner. Alter later moved to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he continues to work. At NIH, Alter worked at the blood bank and had access to a large collection of blood samples which facilitated his investigations into cases of hepatitis caused after blood transfusion. It was Alter, along with some of this colleagues, who was able to define the characteristics of the then unknown virus.
  • But despite over 10 years of effort, Alter and his collaborators were not able to establish the identity of the virus.
  • That work was accomplished by Houghton, who was working independently at Chiron Corporation, a US biotechnology firm. After painstaking work screening over a million DNA sequences, Houghton was able to identify the new virus in 1982, after which it was named Hepatitis C.
  • In 1997, Rice, then working at Washington University, was able to conclusively show that it was indeed this virus that was causing chronic hepatitis in human beings.

Why is it significant?

  • The Nobel Prize website said the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was one of the important milestones in improvement in public health that had raised hopes for eliminating the disease.
  • The discoveries of HBV and HCV, and the establishment of effective screening routines, have virtually eliminated the risk of transmission via blood products in many parts of the world.
  • With the development of highly effective drugs against HCV, it is now possible, for the first time in human history, to foresee a future where the threat of this virus infection is substantially reduced and hopefully soon eliminated
  • Blood that is given to all kinds of patients has now become a lot safer. “Three main causes of blood-borne infections — Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV — all have been identified, and they no longer infect the blood that is required by patients.

2 . Kamath Panel

Context : The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Union government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) about the steps taken to implement the K.V. Kamath Committee report on recommendations to bail out sectors affected by the COVID-19 stress.


  • The RBI had formed a five member committee under the chairmanship of former ICICI Bank CEO KV Kamath to make recommendations on the financial parameters to be considered in the restructuring of loans impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic. The committee will also scrutinize restructuring of loans above Rs 1500 crore.
  • The committee recently submitted the report and RBI accepted the recommendations of the committee.

Recommendations made by the committee

  • Sector Specific Thresholds for 26 sectors : The committee has recommended sector-specific thresholds for each ratio in respect of 26 sectors to be taken into account while finalizing the resolution plans. The plan has to be prepared based on the pre-Covid-19 operating and financial performance of the borrower and impact of Covid-19 on its operating and financial performance in the first and second quarter of this fiscal and to assess the cash-flows for this, next and subsequent years.
  • Kamath committee has identified four financial parameters including
    • Total outside liabilities /adjusted tangible net worth
    • Total debt/Ebitda Current ratio
    • Current Ratio
    • Debt service coverage ratio
    • Average debt service coverage ratio
  • The sector-specific thresholds (ceilings or floors, as the case may be) for each of the above key ratios should be considered by the lending institutions in the resolution assumptions with respect to an eligible borrower
  • In its report the five-member committee said power, construction, iron and steel, roads, real estate, wholesale trading, textiles, consumer durables, aviation, logistics, hotels, restaurants and tourism, mining are among the sectors that will need restructuring.
  • The ratios prescribed are intended as floors or ceilings. In these financial projections, the threshold total outside liability to adjusted tangible net worth and debt to EBIDTA ratios should be met by fiscal 2023. The other three threshold ratios should be met for each year of the projections starting from fiscal 2022. The base case financial projections need to be prepared as part of resolution plan
  • Automobile Sector: The committee has not prescribed any threshold for current ratio for the automobile sector due to the “just in time inventory” business model for raw materials and parts, and finished goods inventory being funded by channel financing available from the dealers.
  • Aviation: For aviation the committee has kept current ratio at 0.40 and above because its cash and carry model and higher current liabilities in form of advance received from customers which are approximately two

3 . Nobel Prize in Physics

Context : The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez. With this award Professor Andrea Ghez becomes the fourth woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics after Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert-Meyer (1963) and Donna Strickland (2018).

What was Roger Penrose’s contribution?

  • Roger Penrose has been awarded the prize because of his theoretical work which showed that black holes can form and exist as solutions of Einstein’s field equations.
  • Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1915. Soon after that German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild found a solution to these equations that showed a singularity – a point where physical quantities take infinitely large or infinitesimally small values and therefore are not realisable physically. For a long time this was a bit of an embarrassment to Einstein as it appeared his equations had unphysical solutions and may not be correct.
  • In 1939, Robert Oppenheimer and his student Hartland Snyder came up with a paper where they identified and interpreted Schwarzschild’s result as a horizon beyond which the star closes off and can only be felt by its gravitational field. However, Einstein did not agree with this yet.
  • Around the mid-1960s strange phenomena were being discovered experimentally by astrophysicists that led John Wheeler to reconsider the physics of gravitational collapse. He suggested to Roger Penrose to revisit this concept. Using novel mathematics and topology he built up the mechanism by which such a collapse can occur and a black hole can form.
  • This was the theoretical discovery that made “black hole” an accepted concept in physics. The name was first used by American physicist Robert Dicke in 1960, it was popularised by John Wheeler.

What was the work done by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez?

  • Two independent groups of observational astrophysicists let by Prof Genzel and Prof Ghez respectively have been monitoring the centre of the Milky Way for nearly three decades. They were studying the compact radio source Sagittarius A* near the galaxy’s centre which we now know to be a Supermassive Black hole. Saggittarius A* is 25,000 light years away
  • The working hypothesis was this: The stars around the galactic centre appeared to be moving in orbits around some source.
  • If this source was pointlike, they will move in Keplerian orbits – that is orbits similar to what planets like earth mars etc have around their stars. If the mass at the centre was spread out among many objects, the stars orbiting them will not have perfect keplerian orbits.
  • Just imagine their challenging experiment from this great distance of 25,000 light years. They have to identify and track individual stars and not be distracted by interstellar dust.
  • Yet they managed to keep tracking the stars using near infrared light telescopes and successfully proved that the mass was indeed concentrated at a centre – Sagittarius A*.
  • They spotted stars which the teams named S2 and So2 which orbited Sagittarius A* in 16 years, taking elliptical orbit.
  • The interpretation of this was that Sagittarius A* is indeed a supermassive black hole.
  • The imaging of the black hole silhouette by the Event Horizon Telescope further establishes the existence of supermassive black holes, thereby validating the prize this year.

4 . SMART system

Context : Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired a missile assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo system for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART).

What is SMART system?

  • Torpedoes, self-propelled weapons that travel underwater to hit a target, are limited by their range. In the mid-2010s, DRDO undertook a project to build capacity to launch torpedoes assisted by missiles; Monday’s was the first known flight test of the system.
  • This SMART system comprises a mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from a supersonic missile system with modifications that would take the torpedo to a far longer range than its own. For example, a torpedo with a range of a few kilometres can be sent a distance to the tune of 1000 km by the missile system from where the torpedo is launched.
  • The system also gives flexibility in terms of the missie system’s launch platform, DRDO officials said. A number of DRDO laboratories including Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI), both in Hyderabad; Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) in Agra; and Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL) Visakhapatnam have developed the technologies required for SMART.

What happened at the test?

  • It was conducted from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha around noon. DRDO has said all mission objectives including the missile’s flight up to the designated range and altitude, separation of its nose cone, release of the torpedo and deployment of Velocity Reduction Mechanism (VRM) were met perfectly. An anti-submarine torpedo of the lightweight category was used.
  • The test follows another crucial test two days ago of the nuclear-capable Shaurya missile. Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine-launched K-15 missile.

Why is it significant?

  • SMART is a game-changing technology demonstration in anti-submarine warfare. India’s anti-submarine warfare capacity building is crucial in light of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Assets of such warfare consist of deployment of submarines, specialised anti-submarine ships, air assets and state-of-the-art reconnaissance and detection mechanisms.
  • The Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability got a boost in June after the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Torpedo Decoy System Maareech, capable of being fired from all frontline warships. India has been indigenously developing and building several anti-submarine systems and vessels in the recent past.
  • In January, DRDO conducted two successful tests of the K Family’s K-4 missiles. The capability of launching nuclear weapons from submarine platforms has great strategic importance in light of the “no first use” policy of India. These submarines can not only survive a first strike by an adversary but also can launch a strike in retaliation. The nuclear-powered Arihant submarine and its class members in the pipeline are assets capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads.

5 . Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme

Context : The Ministry of Electronics and IT said it had approved 16 proposals by electronics manufacturers, including Samsung, Foxconn, Lava and Micromax, entailing an investment of ₹11,000 crore under its Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme.


  • The domestic electronics hardware manufacturing sector faces lack of a level playing field vis-à-vis competing nations. The sector suffers disability of around 8.5% to 11% on account of lack of adequate infrastructure, domestic supply chain and logistics; high cost of finance; inadequate availability of quality power; limited design capabilities and focus on R&D by the industry; and inadequacies in skill development. 
  • The vision of National Policy on Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019) is to position India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country for developing core components and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally. 

About Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme

  • Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing offers a production linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in mobile phone manufacturing and specified electronic components, including Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units.
  • The Scheme would tremendously boost the electronics manufacturing landscape and establish India at the global level in electronics sector. 
  • The scheme shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five (5) years subsequent to the base year as defined. 
  • The Scheme is open for applications for a period of 4 months initially which may be extended. Support under the Scheme shall be provided for a period of five (5) years subsequent to the base year 
  • The Scheme will be implemented through a Nodal Agency which shall act as a  Project Management Agency (PMA) and be responsible for providing secretarial, managerial and implementation support and carrying out other responsibilities as assigned by MeitY from time to time.


  • The companies would bring additional investment in electronics manufacturing to the tune of ₹11,000 crore and generate more than two lakh direct employment opportunities in the next five years, along with the creation of additional indirect employment of almost three times the direct employment.
  • Over the next five years, the approved companies under the PLI Scheme are expected to lead to total production of more than ₹10.50 lakh crore, of which around 60% will be exports.
  • Further, the government expects domestic value addition to grow from the current 15-20% to 35-40% in case of mobile phones and 45-50% for electronic

6 . Facts for Prelims

Translational Health Science And Technology Institute (THSTI)

  • The Translational Health Science And Technology Institute (THSTI) is an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
  • It has been chosen by the international non-profit, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), as one of the ‘Global network of Laboratories for centralized assessment of COVID-19 Vaccines’.
  • The CEPI network will initially involve six labs, one each in Canada, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and India.
  • The Ind-CEPI mission for the establishment of BSL-3 (Bio-safety level 3) facility, is a translational laboratory for platform technologies and a Bioassay laboratory for development of assays to measure clinical immunogenicity.
  • The mandate of the bioassay laboratory at the THSTI is to provide validated assays for vaccine development on a par with global standards.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

  • CEPI is an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations launched in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.
  • Mission of CEPI is to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks

 Gupkar Declaration II

  • Six political parties of Jammu and Kashmir signed a statement titled as ‘Gupkar Declaration II’ to collectively fight against the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2019, first Gupkar declaration was signed.

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