Indian Express Explained-06/07/2020

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1) Explained: Covid’s Kawasaki symptoms

Central Theme- In India and elsewhere, a new illness, with some symptoms common with the rare Kawasaki disease, has been affecting children with Covid-19.

Around the world, including in India since recently, children with Covid-19 infection have often shown some symptoms similar to those associated with a rare illness called Kawasaki disease — such as rashes and inflammation — while other symptoms of Kawasaki disease have been absent. In fact, such symptoms have also shown in children who tested negative for Covid-19.

What is Kawasaki disease?

  • It affects children. Its symptoms include red eyes, rashes, and a swollen tongue with reddened lips — often termed strawberry tongue — and an inflamed blood vessel system all over the body. There is constant high fever for at least five days. The disease also affects coronary functions in the heart.
  • The disease derives its name from a Japanese paediatrician, Tomisaku Kawasaki, who reported the first case in 1961 — a four-year-old boy — and later found similar cases in other children. The doctor, 95, died on June 5 this year in Tokyo.
  • What causes Kawasaki disease is not yet known.

What is the link with Covid-19?

  • Children with Covid-19 are mostly asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms. It has been in rare cases that children with Covid-19 have shown symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease, 2-3 weeks after getting infected with coronavirus.
  • In India, too, the cases (including some children who tested negative for Covid-19) that have been coming up have shown some of the symptoms associated with Kawasaki disease, but with some differences.

2) Explain: Both New Delhi and Beijing are weighing their options – what can they be?

Central Theme- As things stand today, this crisis appears set to surpass the nearly two-and-a-half-month stand-off at Doklam in 2017. It also threatens to sink the dictum of “differences should not become disputes” that was reached between PM Modi and Xi Jinping after Doklam.


It has been two months since clashes between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in Ladakh resulted in a military standoff. The first clashes took place during the night of May 5-6 at Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley, and there are now not only more friction points but also a a bigger military build-up by both sides.

Steps taken by India

  • The military talks don’t seem to heading anywhere.
  • The veiled economic threats – banning Chinese apps like TikTok and WeChat,
  • obstructing Chinese firms from bidding for Indian contracts in telecom, infrastructure or power projects – from New Delhi do not seem to have had much impact in Beijing so far.
  • With differences on the build-up having escalated into a dispute now, the reliance on the diplomatic dialogue crafted for differences appears gasping for breath.

What to do next

  • It may now be the time for both capitals to look at their strategic calculations again. For New Delhi, the nature (economic, military or diplomatic) and intensity of escalation to press its point remains the moot question, while Beijing has to weigh its calculations on precipitating a permanently disputed relationship.
  • The next steps from both sides this week may offer a window into these calculations. No change will mean a protracted stand-off with the risks associated with militaries standing eyeball-to-eyeball.

3) Explained: Why Trump chose Mt Rushmore for US Independence Day speech

Central Theme- Mount Rushmore is a symbolic site rich in legacy, frequently part of popular American culture, and also marked by controversy.

US president Donald Trump chose Mount Rushmore for his Independence Day speech this year. It was symbolic at a time when the country has been rocked by anti-racism protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

What is Mount Rushmore?

  • It is a memorial situated in South Dakota. It features 60-foot face carvings of four US Presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
  • The idea to carve the granite face of Black Hills was conceived by historian Doane Robinson in 1923, who thought it could promote tourism in the region.
  • The carving began in 1927 and was complete in 1941. Why is it important?
  • The US National Parks Service says that over the years, Mount Rushmore “has grown in fame as a symbol of America — a symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds”.
  • It is so familiarly associated with the United States that it has featured repeatedly in popular culture.

But why is it criticised?

  • Trump’s choice of venue came at a time when activists of the Black Lives Matter protests have pulled down statues of several figures who were associated with racism.
  • Indeed, some activists have been calling for pulling down the monument because it was built on Native American land.
  • The Native Americans view the memorial as a symbol of desecration of land considered sacred by the Lakota Sioux tribe.

4) Explained : What Aatma Nirbhar Bharat slogan means for Indian agriculture

Central Theme- If the government wants “aatma nirbharta” in agriculture, oil palm is a crop to work on.

With global supply chains being disrupted because of the COVID-19 crisis and the country embroiled in a border standoff with China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat”.

But what does it mean for Indian agriculture?

  • India is already a net exporter of agri-produce. It has been so ever since the economic reforms began in 1991.
  • On the agri-imports front, Author finds that the biggest item is edible oils — worth about $10 billion (more than 15 mt).
  • This is where there is a need to create ‘aatma nirbharta’, not by levying high import duties, but by creating a competitive advantage through augmenting productivity and increasing the recovery ratio of oil from oilseeds and in case of palm oil, from fresh fruit bunches
  • While mustard, sunflower, groundnuts, and cottonseed have the potential to increase oil output to some extent, the maximum potential lies in oil palm. This is the only plant that can give about four tonnes of oil on a per hectare basis.
  • India has about 2 million hectares that are suitable for oil palm cultivation — this can yield 8 mt of palm oil. But it needs a long term vision and strategy. If the Modi government wants “aatma nirbharta” in agriculture, oil palm is a crop to work on.

5) Explained: The difference between a locust plague, upsurge and outbreak

Central Theme- The FAO has three categories of Desert Locust situations: outbreak, upsurge, and plague.

FAO Classification

  • The FAO has three categories of Desert Locust situations: outbreak, upsurge, and plague.
  • The current locust attack (2019-2020) has been categorised as an upsurge.
  • Outbreaks are common, but only a few result in upsurges. Similarly, few upsurges lead to plagues.
  • The last major plague was in 1987-89 and the last major upsurge was in 2003-05.
  • Upsurges and plagues do not occur overnight; instead, they take many months to develop.

Locust outbreaks

  • Before the outbreak stage, the FAO first issues ‘Desert Locust threats’ that are determined from an analysis of national survey and control data combined with remote sensing imagery and historical records.
  • When there are good rains and green vegetation develops, Desert Locusts – which are always present somewhere in the deserts between Mauritania and India – can rapidly increase in number and within a month or two, start to concentrate, gregarise which, unless checked, can lead to the formation of small groups or bands of wingless hoppers and small groups or swarms winged adults.
  • Such a situation is called an ‘outbreak’, and usually occurs with an area of about 5,000 sq. km (100 km by 50 km) in one part of a country. The FAO website lists nine outbreaks: 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006.

Locust upsurge

  • This is a more serious Desert Locust situation and generally affects an entire region.
  • An ‘upsurge’ is formed when an outbreak or contemporaneous outbreaks are not controlled and if widespread or unusually heavy rains fall in adjacent areas, several successive seasons of breeding can occur that causes further hopper band and adult swarm formation.
  • There FAO website records the upsurges of 2004-2005, 1996-1998, 1994-1996, 1992-1994, and 1972-1974.
  • The upsurge of 1992-1994 affected India after Desert Locusts that bred for several generations along the Red Sea coastal plains in the winter of 1992 moved via the Arabian interior to India and Pakistan.

Locust plague

  • The most serious category, a ‘plague’ can develop when an upsurge is not controlled and ecological conditions remain favourable for breeding, locust populations continue to increase in number and size, and the majority of the infestations occur as bands and swarms.
  • This does not happen overnight; instead, it takes at least one year or more for a plague to develop through a sequence that commences with one or more outbreaks and followed by an upsurge. A major plague exists when two or more regions are affected simultaneously.
  • The area in which plagues occur covers about 29 million sq. km and can extend across 58 countries.
  • There have been six major plagues in the 1900s, one of which lasted almost 13 years, the FAO website notes.

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