Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Jul 08, 2020

Current Affair 1:
UN Report on Zoonotic Diseases

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According to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), about 60% of known infectious diseases in humans and 75% of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. The title of the report: Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic disease and how to break the chain of transmission.

We will cover few important points and diagrams important for you. Nothing will be asked beyond this.

As the UN Framework for the Immediate Socio-economic Response to COVID-19, published in April 2020, says:

“The success of post-pandemic recovery will also be determined by a better understanding of the context and nature of risk. In view of the COVID-19 crisis, this includes developing and maintaining a global mapping of encroachment, illegal trade, wet markets, etc. that are pathways for future pathogen transmission and thus potential future zoonoses identified. It will also mean supporting efforts to arrest ecosystem encroachments and harmful practices, restore degraded ecosystems, close down illegal trade and illegal wet markets, while protecting communities that depend on these for their food supply and livelihoods.

This report (Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic disease and how to break the chain of transmission) is one of the first that specifically focuses on the environmental side of the zoonotic dimension of disease outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic. It tries to fill a critical knowledge gap and provide policymakers with a better understanding of the context and nature of potential future zoonotic disease outbreaks. A zoonosis is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. Animals thus play an essential role in maintaining zoonotic infections in nature.

When do zoonoses become human disease outbreaks?

Historically, the emergence of new human diseases from animals has been associated with major societal change. For example, during the Neolithic transition from hunter-gathering to agricultural societies, humans lived shorter lives, ate less and poorer-quality foods, were smaller in size and were sicker than their hunter-gatherer ancestors. With the advent of agriculture, the dramatic rise in population and the settlement of people in close proximity to their waste led to increases in human disease; the domestication of animals led to livestock pathogens jumping species into people, where they became the probable cause of diseases such as diphtheria, influenza, measles and smallpox.

Some zoonotic diseases damages in the past:

  1. The true zoonotic bubonic plague or pest (Black Death caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis) of the mid-fourteenth century killed millions in Eurasia and North Africa, wiping out a third of Europe’s population.
  2. The tuberculosis outbreak of the nineteenth century, associated with the industrialization in Western Europe and over-crowding, killing up to one in four people.
  3. The expansion of colonial rule in Africa facilitated outbreaks of zoonotic sleeping sickness that killed one third of the population in Uganda and up to one fifth of the people living in the Congo River Basin in the first decade of the twentieth century.
  4. The 1918 influenza pandemic killed some 40 million people in the last months of World War I and the following years (1918–1921).

Seven major anthropogenic drivers of zoonotic disease emergence. Very important points. You will use them in answer for any disease. Do remember.

  1. Increasing demand for animal protein
  2. Unsustainable agricultural intensification
  3. Increased use and exploitation of wildlife
  4. Unsustainable utilization of natural resources accelerated by urbanization, land use change and extractive industries
  5. Changes in food supply chains
  6. Travel and Transportation
  7. Climate change

Now, we will learn about Coronavirus.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that infect many animals and humans and are responsible for numerous diseases. They are named “corona” for the crown-like arrangement of the spike-shaped proteins on the surface of their membranes.


Current Affair 2:
Biodiversity Heritage Sites

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We will try to connect points. Read complete document. Start with Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adopted at the Rio Earth Summit, 1992 is based on three-fold objectives: conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

The primary requirement for the first objective, as noted by CBD, is the in-situ conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats. To ensure in-situ conservation of biological diversity, every contracting party to the CBD is required to establish a system of Protected Areas (PA). PAs are geographical defined areas which are designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives. The CBD also mandates parties to develop guidelines for selection, establishment and management of such areas.

So, what India did after reading CBD objective?

In order to fulfill the objectives of CBD, India enacted the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BD Act, 2002).

For its implementation, the BD Act, 2002 institutes a three-tier structure: National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at the apex level, State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) at state level and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) at local body level. One of the salient features of the Act with respect to in-situ conservation is conserve and develop areas of importance from the standpoint of biological diversity by declaring them as biodiversity heritage sites (BHS). The Act grants State Governments the power to notify areas of biodiversity importance as BHS and in consultation with the Central Government to frame rules for their management and conservation.

BHS are well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems which may be terrestrial, coastal or spread over inland /marine waters.

Important concept here now,

The existing legally defined Protected Areas network in India consist of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves as notified under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. However, the purpose of the BHS provision is to as far as possible cover those sites which are not covered under the already existing PA network. The guidelines on BHS clarify that areas which have been designated, identified or notified (for example as PA, biosphere reserve etc.) under Acts or programmes may not be considered under this provision. The basic idea is to identify those areas important from biodiversity point of view which do not enjoy protection/ support under any other Act or programme.

Status of Biodiversity Heritage Sites in India

                   Name of Site


  1. Nallur Tamarind Grove


  1. Hogrekan


  1. University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK Campus


  1. Ambaragudda


  1. Glory of Allapalli


  1. Tonglu Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA)

    West Bengal

  1. Dhotrey Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA)

    West Bengal

  1. Chilkigarh Kanak Durga Sacred Grove

West Bengal

  1. Ameenpur Lake


  1. Longku Forest, Dialong Village


  1. Majuli River Island


  1. Ghariyal Rehabilitation Centre

  Uttar Pradesh

It is clear that even after 15 years of the promulgation of the BD Act, 2002 only 12 sites have been notified as BHS, which is grossly inadequate. Yet, it is significant that the provision of BHS is not just being to strengthen biodiversity conservation but is also being seen as a way to stem loss of biodiversity from ecosystems facing threat.

Other Important Provisions of National Biodiversity Act 2002.

Current Affair 3:
Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to a new pan India Central Sector Scheme- Agriculture Infrastructure Fund. Read all important points.

  1. The scheme will provide a medium- and long-term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
  2. Under the scheme, one lakh crore rupees will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies, Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producers Organizations, Self Help Group, Farmers, Startups and Centre and State agency among others.
  3. The duration of the Scheme will be for ten years from Fiscal year 2020 to 2029. Under it, loans will be disbursed in four years starting with sanction of 10 thousand crore rupees in the current year and 30 thousand crore rupees each crore in next three financial years.
  4. All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3 per cent per annum up to a limit of two crore. rupees and this subvention will be available for a maximum period of seven years.
  5. Further, credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan up to two crore rupees.
  6. The Project by way of facilitating formal credit to farm and farm processing-based activities is expected to create numerous job opportunities in rural areas.
  7. Agri Infra fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform. It will enable all the qualified entities to apply for loan under the fund.
  8. The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.

Current Affair 4:
Sun like stars in their later life hold key for Li increase in the Universe

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News from PIB.

In a study recently published in Nature Astronomy (On 6th July 2020)scientists from Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India along with their international collaborators have provided a robust observational evidence for the first time that Li production is common among low mass Sun-like stars during their He-core burning phase.

Findings of the Study:

  1. Scientists performed a large-scale systematic investigation of the ‘He-flash’ (on-set of He-ignition at the star's core via violent eruption), at the end of the star’s core hydrogen-burning phase.
  2. This He-flash has been identified as the source of Li production suggesting that all low-mass stars undergo Li production.
  3. The study challenges the long-held idea that stars only destroy lithium and indicates that there is some physical process missing in stellar theory.

Origin of Lithium:

  1. The origin of much of the Li can be traced to the Big-Bang that happened about 13.7 billion years ago.
  2. Over the course of time, Li content in the physical universe has increased by about a factor of four, which is meagre compared to the rest of the elements which grew about a million times.
  3. Stars are primary contributors to the significant enhancement of heavier elements through mass ejections and stellar explosions. Li, however, was thought to be an exception till now.

IIA is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.


Current Affair 5:
Britain and India’s Bharti Win Auction to Buy Collapsed Satellite Company OneWeb

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As India is involved, so need to know this.

Britain has joined forces with India’s Bharti Global to buy the collapsed satellite operator OneWeb, with the two sides pledging $1 billion between them to develop a constellation that could boost broadband and other services.

Under the deal announced, Britain will invest $500 million and take a significant equity share in OneWeb while Bharti will invest the same amount and provide commercial and operational leadership.

The deal means the two sides will be pitted against Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the race to build low earth orbit satellites to provide high-bandwidth and low-latency communications services.

Current Affair 6:

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Recently, reports of an outbreak of bubonic plague in Mongolia, China and far east Russia have emerged, caused mainly by Tarbagan Marmot (a species of Marmot).

Marmot (genus Marmota) belongs to the squirrel family (Sciuridae) within the order Rodentia. Marmots are well suited for life in cold environments and have small fur-covered ears, short, stocky legs, and strong claws for digging.

They are found primarily in the continents of Europe, Asia and North America.

South Asia or the Indian Subcontinent is home to the Himalayan Marmot and the Long-tailed Marmot (both are Least Concerned in the IUCN Red List).

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