Essential key terms from the last week’s news categorised as per the relevance in the UPSC-CSE syllabus. Solve the MCQs below.
Why in news?
— The 75th Independence Day coincides with another milestone in the country’s history — it was on August 15, 1972, that the Postal Identification Number (PIN) was introduced in India. As the PIN code turns 50 on Monday, we look at its history and evolution.
— According to the Department of Posts, there were 23,344 post offices, primarily in urban areas, in India at the time of Independence. However, the country was growing rapidly and the postal network had to keep pace.
— The PIN code was meant to ease the process of mail sorting and delivery in a country where different places, often, have the same or similar names, and letters are written in a wide variety of languages.
— The PIN is made up of six digits. The first number indicates the postal region — Northern, Eastern, Western, Southern; and number 9, which signifies the Army Postal Service. The second number denotes a sub-region, and the third represents the sorting district. The remaining numbers narrow the geography further to the specific post office making the delivery.
— The person behind the initiative was Shriram Bhikaji Velankar, additional secretary in the Union Ministry of Communications and a senior member of the Posts and Telegraphs Board.
— Velankar was also a Sanskrit poet of eminence who had been conferred the President’s Award for Sanskrit in 1996, three years before he died in Mumbai. Among Velankar’s 105 books and plays in Sanskrit was the Viloma Kavya, which is considered a literary masterpiece because it comprises verses in praise of Lord Rama when read from one side and, when read backwards, it transformed into verses dedicated to Lord Krishna.
— He had set up a cultural group in Mumbai, called the Dev Vani Mandiram, which worked to create awareness about Sanskrit in India and foreign countries. Velankar was also the chairman of the World Philatelic Exhibition, called Indipex, which was held in New Delhi in 1973 and featured 120 countries. He retired from his government service on December 31, 1973.
(source: Explained: History of the PIN code, which turns 50 this Independence Day written by Dipanita Nath)
Which of the following statement is not true?
a) The person behind the initiative of India Post after independence was Shriram Bhikaji Velankar.
b) Lord Dalhousie recognized the Indian Post Offices as separate organization of national importance.
c) The site where the Calcutta GPO is now located was actually the site of the first Fort William.
d) IN 1794 Bombay GPO was established which is modelled on the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka.
Why in news?
— US firm Microsoft has become the first big tech company to join the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), a government-backed project which is aimed at enabling small merchants and mom-and-pop stores in parts of the country to access processes and technologies that are typically deployed by large e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart.
— Microsoft getting on board the the ONDC wagon means the project gets its first international marquee name ahead of its Bengaluru launch.
— A number of participants are currently live on the ONDC network, offering a number of services in the e-commerce supply chain such as buying, selling and offering logistics services. Among those that are live are Paytm, which has joined the platform as a buyer, and Reliance-backed Dunzo, which is offering logistics services for hyperlocal deliveries.
— The ONDC platform lies in the middle of the interfaces hosting the buyers and the sellers. So far, the buyer side interface is being hosted by Paytm, whereas the seller side interface is being hosted by other players like GoFrugal, etc.
— When a buyer searches for an item on the Paytm app, from where ONDC has gone live, the app will connect to the ONDC platform, which will connect it to seller side interfaces that will list all the companies from where you can buy the particular item.
— On ONDC, there will be several other backend partners such as logistics service providers, enterprise resource planners, e-commerce store hosting service providers, etc.
— An ONDC strategy paper published earlier this year has flagged the rising dominance of global players in India’s e-commerce ecosystem, pointing out that the large quantum of investment required to build competitors to the integrated solutions offered by the big players has become an entry barrier for digital marketplaces.
— It also flagged the inability of marketplace sellers to move out of the platform ecosystem, given that the value created by these small players is stored with the larger platforms. With this in mind, ONDC aims to transform the marketplace ecosystem from an operator-driven platform-centric model to a facilitator-driven interoperable decentralised network.
— ONDC is being seen as the UPI-moment for the e-commerce market, and its whole claimed value proposition lies as “democratising” digital commerce, taking it away from the clutches of a handful of deep-pocketed companies, as is the case currently – a number of sellers can offer their goods and services on the network which could be accessed from different platforms, with the delivery and payments infrastructure being handled by different companies.
— In theory, ONDC may enable more sellers to be digitally visible, which means that for online buyers, it could present increased options at a number of different price points.
(source: Explained: Govt’s Open Network for Digital Commerce, and what Microsoft joining it means written by Soumyarendra Barik .)
With reference to foreign-owned e-commerce firms operating in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. They can sell their own goods in addition to offering their platforms as market-places.
2. The degree to which they can own big sellers on their platforms is limited.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Why in news?
— Langya Henipavirus: Almost three years after the novel coronavirus was detected in China, a new zoonotic virus has been discovered in the country’s two eastern provinces with 35 infections identified so far. This new type of Henipavirus is also being called Langya Henipavirus or the LayV.
— Henipaviruses are classified as biosafety level 4 (BSL4) pathogens. They can cause severe illness in animals and humans, and as of now there are no licensed drugs or vaccines meant for humans.
— The newly discovered virus is a “phylogenetically distinct Henipavirus”, according to a recent study — A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China — published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
— The types of Henipaviruses that had been identified prior to this included Hendra, Nipah, Cedar, Mojiang and the Ghanaian bat virus. According to the US CDC, the Cedar virus, Ghanaian bat virus, and Mojiang virus are not known to cause human disease. But Hendra and Nipah infect humans and can cause fatal illness.
— Langya, meanwhile, is known to cause fever, with the NEJM study calling for a deeper investigation of associated human illness.
— The study adds that Langya’s genome organization is “identical to that of other Henipaviruses”, and that it is closely related to the “Mojiang Henipavirus, which was discovered in southern China”.
— The study looked at the 26 patients with only LayV infection to identify the associated symptoms. While all 26 had fever, 54 per cent reported fatigue, 50 per cent had cough, 38 per cent complained of nausea. Also, 35 per cent of the total 26, complained of headache and vomiting. The study found that 35 per cent had impaired liver function, while 8 per cent had their kidney function impacted.
— The patients were accompanied by abnormalities of “thrombocytopenia (35 per cent), leukopenia (54 per cent), impaired liver (35 per cent) and kidney (8 per cent) function”, the study noted. Thrombocytopenia is low platelet count, while leukopenia means a fall in the white blood cell count, in turn reducing the body’s disease-fighting capability.
— In all likelihood, the new virus has jumped from an animal to humans. The LayV virus RNA has been predominantly found in shrews, which may be its natural hosts. The study zeroed in on shrews after conducting a serosurvey of domestic and wild animals. Among domestic animals, seropositivity was detected in goats and dogs.
— The authors of the study have underlined that the sample size of their investigation is too small to determine human-to-human transmission. However, they point out that among the 35 patients infected by LayV, there was “no close contact or common exposure history”, which suggests that the “infection in the human population may be sporadic”.
(source: Explained: What is Langya, a new zoonotic virus that has infected 35 people in China? written by Saurabh Kapoor)
Which of the following pairs are not correctly matched?
a) Langya- zoonotic virus
b) Vasculitis– inflammation of blood vessels
c) Myalgic encephalomyelitis – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
d) Osgood Schlatter disease– bacterial infection
Why in news?
— Authorities in Norway on Sunday (August 14) said they had killed a 600-kg young female walrus that had taken to hanging out in the waters off Oslo, because she was a “threat to human security”.
— The five-year-old animal that was first spotted in Oslofjord on July 17 had become a huge favourite of crowds, who had named her Freya after the Norse goddess of beauty and love.
— “The decision to euthanise (the walrus) was taken on the basis of a global evaluation of the persistent threat to human security,” the head of Norway’s fisheries directorate, Frank Bakke-Jensen, said in a statement, The Guardian reported.
— “We carefully examined all the possible solutions. We concluded that we could not guarantee the wellbeing of the animal by any of the means available,” he said.
— A report in The New York Times quoted Olav Lekver, a spokesperson for the fisheries directorate, as saying they had no option. “She (Freya) was in an area that wasn’t natural for her.” The animal was killed “according to regulations”, the spokesperson said, without giving details.
— Walrus are not aggressive usually — unless it is a young bull trying to assert himself, or a protective cow with her calf that we are talking about. That said, they are wild animals — the males can weigh a tonne and a half, females up to 900 kg, and they have tusks that in the bigger bulls can reach up to a metre in length and up to several kilogrammes in weight — and are best not startled or provoked.
— Walrus watchers in the Arctic are typically cautioned to stay at least 150 metres away from a herd on land, to not approach the animals from multiple directions in order to ensure they don’t feel threatened, to walk slowly, and to always keep safe passage between the herd and the sea. In water, swimmers and paddlers are told to stay away from the animals that can sometimes attack with their tusks.
(source: Explained: Why has Norway killed Freya, a walrus that had won people’s hearts?)
Point to ponder: Do you think that the method of Euthanasia for animals is humane?
Consider the following statements and answer the question below:
1) Walruses live in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world near the North Pole.
2) Both male and female walruses have large tusks which distinguish them from other marine mammals.
3) Walruses are terrestrial as well as marine mammals.
Which of the following statements is/are correct?
a) only 1 b) only 1 and 2
c) only 1 and 3 d) 1, 2 and 3
Why in news?
— India is commemorating Sunday, August 14, as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day. The commemoration was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this date last year. In a tweet, he had said that “Partition’s pain can never be forgotten.
— Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence”, and that the day would be marked “in memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people”.
— The partition of India into India and Pakistan led to grave violence and communal riots, loss of property, and extreme upheaval in the weeks and months around August 15, 1947. The Partition is acknowledged as one of the most violent and abrupt displacements in the recent history of the world.
— An official document released by the government to mark Partition Horrors Remembrance Day says: “More than being a story of a violent divide based on faith and religion it is also a story of how a way of life and ages of co-existence came to a sudden and dramatic end.”
— Estimates of the numbers of those killed vary; according to the official document, it could be between 500,000 to over a million, but “the generally accepted figure stands at around 500,000”.
— Just this year, Indian author Geetanjali Shree won the International Booker Prize for the English translation of her Hindi book ‘Ret Samaadhi’ or Tomb of Sand, a novel that features an Indian woman in her eighties who attempts to journey to Pakistan, where she lived before Partition.
(source: Explained: Why India is commemorating Partition Horrors Remembrance Day on August 14 written by Rishika Singh)
Point to ponder: More than being a story of a violent divide based on faith and religion it is also a story of how a way of life and ages of co-existence came to a sudden and dramatic end. Comment.
The plan of Sir Stafford Cripps envisaged that after the Second World War
(a) India should be granted complete independence
(b) India should be partitioned into two before granting independence
(c) India should be made a republic with the condition that she will join the Commonwealth
(d) India should be given Dominion status
Answers to MCQs: 1 (a) , 2 (b) , 3 (d) , 4 (d) , 5 (d)