6thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs 

Daily Current Affairs   Date :6thFebruary,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint


  • Role of Primers in COVID-Testing (TH, pg 10)
  • Solar Storms and Cosmogenic Radionuclides (TH, pg 10)
  • Vande Bharat Trains (TH, pg 11)
  • India’s Rising Imports from China (TH, pg 11)
  • U.S. Restores Sanction Waiver to Iran(TH, pg 9)
  • African Union (AU) and Israel’s Accreditation(TH, pg 9)
  • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS)(TH, pg 5)
  • UdeDesh Ka Aam Nagrik(UDAN)(TH, pg 8)
  • Havana Syndrome (TH, pg 11)
  • Separate Agriculture Budget (TH, pg 3)


  1. Role of Primers in COVID-Testing (TH, pg 10)

  • Context:The Delhi-based CSIR lab, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), has successfully developed a unique pool of primers and kits to be used in RT-PCR testing of SARS-CoV-2 virus.


  • The most distinguishing aspect of the work was developing primers that will not be affected by mutations seen in SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • This may allow the primers to detect any new SARS-CoV-2 variants that might emerge immaterial of the novel mutations that the variants might have.
  • The pool of primers has been developed by the IGIB to target regions of the virus which are unlikely to undergo mutations.
  • So, the primers developed for RT-PCR tests will perform very well when new variants emerge.
  • Each new variant that emerges develops a unique set of mutations that makes it more transmissible and/or causes severe disease.
  • The high number of variants seen is because SARS-CoV-2 is a rapidly mutating virus and tends to collect mutations during infection.
  • The SARS-CoV-2 is naturally endowed to collect about one mutation every 10-14 days.

What is PCR?

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)is a common laboratory technique used in research and clinical practices to amplify, or copy, small segments of genetic material.
  • PCR is sometimes called “molecular photocopying,” and it is incredibly accurate and sensitive.
  • Short sequences called primers are used to selectively amplify a specific DNA sequence.
  • PCR is now used in a variety of ways, including DNA fingerprinting, diagnosing genetic disorders and detecting bacteria or viruses.
  • Because molecular and genetic analyses require significant amounts of a DNA sample, it is nearly impossible for researchers to study isolated pieces of genetic material without PCR amplification.
  • COVID-19 testing uses a modified version of PCR called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).
  • This method adds fluorescent dyes to the PCR process to measure the amount of genetic material in a sample.
  • The testing process begins when healthcare workers collect samples using a nasal swab or saliva tube.
  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the pathogen that causes COVID-19, uses RNA as its genetic material.
  • First, the single-stranded RNA is converted to double-stranded DNA in a process called reverse transcription.
  • The two DNA template strands are then separated and the DNA is multiplied using primers and fluorescent dyes attach to the DNA, providing a marker of successful duplication.
  • Primers are small pieces of DNA designed to only connect to a genetic sequence that is specific to the viral DNA, ensuring only viral DNA can be duplicated.
  • The cycle is then repeated 20-30 times to create hundreds of DNA copies corresponding to the SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA.

What do results mean for a COVID-19 PCR test?

  • A positive resulthappens when the SARS-CoV-2 primers match the DNA in the sample and the sequence is amplified, creating millions of copies. This means the sample is from an infected individual.
  • The primers only amplify genetic material from the virus, so it is unlikely a sample will be positive if viral RNA is not present. If it does, it is called afalse positive.
  • negative resulthappens when the SARS-CoV-2 primers do not match the genetic material in the sample and there is no amplification. This means the sample did not contain any virus.
  • false negativeresult happens when a person is infected, but there is not enough viral genetic material in the sample for the PCR test to detect it. This can happen early after a person is exposed.
  • Overall, false negative results are much more likely than false positive results.




  1. Solar Storms and Cosmogenic Radionuclides (TH, pg 10)

  • Context: Through analysis of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, a research team has found evidence of an extreme solar storm that occurred about 9,200 years ago.


  • What puzzles the researchers is that the storm took place during one of the sun’s more quiet phases — during which it is generally believed our planet is less exposed to such events.
  • It is currently believed that solar storms are more likely during the so-called sunspot cycle. Research now shows that this may not always be the case for very large storms.
  • The enhanced flux of relatively lower energy particles during a solar energetic particle event (SEP) can trigger additional production of cosmogenic radionuclides (carbon-14, beryllium-10 and chlorine-36), leaving an imprint in environmental archives.


  1. Vande Bharat Trains (TH, pg 11)

  • Context: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has in the Union Budget for 2022-2023 proposed the development and manufacture of 400 new Vande Bharat trains in the next three years.
  • In her speech, Ms. Sitharaman said these would be “new generation” trains with better energy efficiency and passenger riding experience.


  • The Vande Bharat train is an indigenously designed and manufactured semi high speed, self-propelled train.
  • These trains, dubbed as Train 18 during the development phase, operate without a locomotive and are based on a propulsion system called distributed traction power technology, by which each car of the train set is powered.
  • The Vande Bharat coaches incorporate passenger amenities including on-board WiFi entertainment, GPS-based passenger information system, CCTVs, automatic doors in all coaches, rotating chairs and bio-vacuum type toilets like in aircraft.
  • The first Vande Bharat was manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, in about 18 months as part of the ‘Make in India’ programme, at a cost of about ₹100 crore.
  • It can achieve a maximum speed of 160 kmph due to faster acceleration and deceleration, reducing journey time by 25% to 45%.
  • It also has an intelligent braking system with power regeneration for better energy efficiency thereby making it cost, energy and environment efficient.
  • The Vande Bharat was India’s first attempt at adaptation of the train set technology compared with conventional systems of passenger coaches hauled by separate locomotives.
  • The train set configuration though complex is faster, easier to maintain, consumes less energy, and has greater flexibility in train operation.
  • The Railways is also said to be considering the use of aluminium instead of steel in the construction of the coaches as this would help make the trains much lighter thereby improving energy efficiency, and also making the trains faster.


  1. India’s Rising Imports from China (TH, pg 11)

  • Context:While many countries, including India, have spoken of the need to reduce reliance on China particularly in the wake of COVID-19 and disruption to supply chains, trade figures released last month showed imports have only continued to surge in 2021, rebounding after a fall in trade in 2020 because of the pandemic.
  • This is despite the fact that in the wake of the LAC crisis starting April 2020, the message from New Delhi was that it cannot be business as usual while there are tensions along the border.


What did India import from China in 2021?

  • India’s trade with China in 2021 reached $125.6 billion.
  • This was the first time that trade crossed the $100 billion mark. India’s imports from China accounted for $97.5 billion, while exports reached $28.1 billion, both records.
  • The trade deficit, a long-term source of concern for India, is up by 22% since 2019, having declined last year.

What does the recent trend of trade figures suggest?

  • Experts say India’s dependence on China for finished goods has shown no signs of easing, which is a cause for concern.
  • The rise in intermediate imports is, however, less of a concern as it is a sign of industrial recovery and greater demand for inputs.
  • While Indian exports to China have also grown, up by more than 50% in the last two years, these are mostly raw materials such as ores, as well as cotton and seafood, and not finished products.
  • The five-year trend shows the trade deficit continues to widen. The deficit has grown from $51.8 billion in 2017 to $69.4 billion in 2021.
  1. U.S. Restores Sanction Waiver to Iran(TH, pg 9)

  • Context:The U.S. State Department is waiving sanctions on Iran’s civilian nuclear programme in a technical step necessary to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).


  • The waiver allows other countries and companies to participate in Iran’s civilian nuclear programme without triggering U.S. sanctions on them, in the name of promoting safety and non-proliferation.
  • The civilian programme includes Iran’s increasing stockpiles of enriched uranium.
  • The Vienna talks, which include Iran, the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, are at a key stage where the parties have to make “critical political decisions.”
  1. African Union (AU) and Israel’s Accreditation(TH, pg 9)

  • Context:Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh urged the African Union to withdraw Israel’s accreditation as the 55-member bloc opened a two-day summit in Addis Ababa.
  • The dispute began in last July when Commission chair accepted Israel’s accreditation to the bloc.


  • AU is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent.
  • It was officially launched in 2002 in Durban, South Africa as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).
  • African Union Headquarters is situated at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • The work of the AU is implemented through several principal decision making organs: The Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the Executive Council, the Peace and Security Council and The African Union Commission.
  • The AU structure promotes participation of African citizens and civil society through the Pan-African Parliament and the Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).

Agenda 2063

  • Agenda 2063 calls for greater collaboration and support for African led initiatives to ensure the achievement of the aspirations of African people.


  1. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS)(TH, pg 5)

  • Context:With the onset of summer, the seasonal migration of wild animals has begun from the adjacent wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS).
  • Mammals such as elephants and gaurs migrate to the sanctuary from the adjacent Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks in Karnataka and the Mudumalai national park in Tamil Nadu in search of food and water.


  • The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary Divisioncovers parts of the Wayanad Plateau (about 3000 km2) situated at the confluence of three biologically distinct and diverse regions- the main Western Ghat Mountains, the Nilgiri Hills and the Deccan Plateau.
  • The protected areas in WWS share their boundaries with the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur Tiger Reserves of Karnataka in the northeast and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu in the southeast and thus due to ecological and geographical contiguity offers natural corridors for the seasonal migration of long ranging animals within the greater conservation unit.
  • The sanctuary is a component of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (5,520 km2) and of the Elephant Reserve No. 7 of South India.
  • The habitat of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary along with other forest regions in elephant reserve No.7, shelter world’s largest recorded population of Asian Elephants and Tigers.
  • It is the only sanctuary in Kerala where sightings of four-horned antelope (Ullaman) are reported.
  • The four-horned antelope or chousingha which is known as ‘ullaman’ in Malayalam, is a small antelope found in India and Nepal.
  • This antelope has four horns which distinguish it from most other bovid, which have two horns.
  • It is included in schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and categorized as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The most remarkable thing about the sanctuary is that it is the only remaining habitat of the critically endangered vulture population in Kerala.
  • Two species of vultures, viz., Red-headed and white-backed vultures are a common sight in the sanctuary.
  • Kuruma, Paniya, Kattunaicka, Urali, Kurichiar and Adiyar are some of the tribal communities that inhabit this area.
  • Interestingly, it was from here that Pazhassi Raja fought valiantly against the British.


  1. UdeDesh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN)(TH, pg 8)

  • Context:Only one out of four routes under the low-cost flying scheme called UDAN have survived after completing the government’s subsidy period of three years.
  • The aim of the scheme was to take flying to the masses and improve air connectivity to tier-2 and -3 cities.
  • Under the scheme, airlines have to cap fares at ₹2,500 per seat per hour of flight for 50% of the seats in a plane for which they receive a viability gap funding (subsidy) from the government along with some other benefits.
  • The government expected that after the expiry of the three-year subsidy period, airlines would be able to sustain the routes without outside support.


  • The Scheme has been launched by the Civil Aviation Ministry.
  • Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the implementing agency of UDAN.
  • It envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
  • The scheme aims to stimulate regional connectivity with flights covering distances between 200 to 800 km, with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, island and security sensitive regions, through a market-based mechanism.

How it works

  • Interested airline and helicopter operators can start operations on hitherto un-connected routes by submitting proposals to the Implementing Agency.
  • The operators could seek a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) apart from getting various concessions.
  • Viability Gap Finance means a grant to support projects that are economically justified but not financially viable.
  • The States will have to bear 20% towards VGF. The share will be 10% for North Eastern States and Union Territories.
  • All such route proposals would then be offered for competitive bidding through a reverse bidding mechanism (bidders who offer the least bid wins) and the route would be awarded to the participant quoting the lowest VGF per Seat.
  • The successful bidder would then have exclusive rights to operate the route for a period of three years.
  • Government support would be withdrawn after a three-year period, as by that time, the route is expected to become self-sustainable.
  • The selected airline operator would have to provide a certain minimum/maximum UDAN Seats (subsidized rates) on the UDAN Flights for operations through fixed wing aircraft/helicopters.
  • The fare for a one hour journey of appx. 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would now be capped at Rs. 2,500.
  • The passenger fares are kept affordable through:
  • Central Government would provide concessions in the form of reduced excise duty, service tax etc. and freedom to enter into code sharing arrangements with domestic as well as international airlines
  • State governments will have to lower the VAT on Aviation Turbine Fuel to 1% or less, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.
  • Airport operators shall not impose Landing and Parking charge and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges in addition to discounts on Route Navigation Facility Charges.
  • A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) would be created to meet the viability gap funding requirements under the scheme.
  • The RCF levy per departure will be applied to certain domestic flights. 
  • The partner State Governments (other than North Eastern States and Union Territories where contribution will be 10 %) would contribute a 20% share to this fund.
  • Priority areas for improving connectivity are the North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshdweep.
  • Helicopter operations under the Scheme are limited to Priority Areas only.

UDAN Round 2

  • It allowed the state governments to provide subsidy for international flights to be launched from their states.

UDAN Round 3

  • Key Features of UDAN 3 included:
  • Inclusion of Tourism Routes in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism
  • Inclusion of Seaplanes for connecting Water Aerodromes, and
  • Bringing in a number of routes in the North-East Region under the ambit of UDAN.

UDAN Round 4

  • Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopter and seaplanes is also been incorporated.


  1. Havana Syndrome (TH, pg 11)

  • A recent U.S. intelligence report says that ‘Havana Syndrome’ —a collection of symptoms (such as dizziness, hearing loss, headaches, vertigo, nausea, memory loss and possible brain injuries) and related brain injuries, reported by U.S. officials, particularly diplomats in embassies —could be caused by pulsed electromagnetic energy or close-range ultrasound.


  1. Separate Agriculture Budget (TH, pg 3)

  • Preparations are in full swing for the first separate Agriculture Budget to be presented in the Rajasthan Assembly session starting on February 9, with the emphasis on welfare measures for farmers and innovations for the benefit of cultivators.

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