Daily IAS Current Affairs March 16, 2020 | PendulumIAS

2020-03-16 | 5 minutes

General Studies-III- Disaster and Disaster Management

1. COVID-19 declared as national disaster


The government decided to treat COVID-19 as a notified disaster so as to utilize the funds under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).


  • The move came after the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic and due to the increase in the number of positive cases in India.
  • US President also declared a national emergency by invoking Stafford Act. The federal government will provide about 75% of the cost of relief for states.

What is a disaster?

According to the Disaster Management Act, a disaster is any calamity, mishap, catastrophe or grave occurrence in any region, which can be natural or man-made, or accidental, and has resulted in substantial loss of life or damage to property, degradation of environment, and is of such nature as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.

State Disaster Response Fund

  • It was constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and is utilized by the state governments for responses to notified disasters.
  • The contribution of Centre and State in this fund is 75:25 for general category states and 90:10 for special category states (HP, Sikkim, Other NE States)
  • The funds for SDRF are released by Centre in two equal installments based on the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  • In case of a distance of severe nature, the National Disaster Response Fund supplements SDRF if adequate funds are not available in SDRF of a state.
  • Disaster for which SDRF can be utilized are cyclones, earthquakes, frosts, pest attacks, and cold waves.
  • CAG audit the SDRF every year.


General Studies-III- Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

2. Soap v/s Sanitizers


WHO guidelines specify that cleaning hands regularly with alcohol based hand rub or washing with soap is one of the ways to reduce the risk of infection.

How effective is soap in removing microbes?

  • Viruses like Zika, Ebola, H1N1, etc. have their genetic material enclosed in a layer of fat called the lipid envelop.
  • Soap molecules have a head part, which is water-loving (hydrophilic) and a tail part, which is oil-loving (oleophilic).
  • The tail part completes with lipids in the virus envelop. It gets inserted into the envelop due to less strong chemical bonds that hold the virus together. The tail part has a 'crowbar effect' that breaks the lipid envelop of the virus.
  • The tail also completes with bonds binding RNA and the lipid envelop, thereby dissolving the virus into its components, which are easily removed by water.
  • Some viruses like rotavirus, human papillomavirus, etc. do not have the lipid envelop. The tail part of the soap molecules also destroys the bond that binds the dirt part and such viruses to the hand.

How effective is using alcohol-based hand sanitizers?

  • The alcohol present in sanitizers dissolves the lipid envelop same as soap.
  • Alcohol is capable of changing the shape of mushroom-shaped protein structures stuck with lipid envelop. These mushroom-shaped protein structures help the virus to bind with special structures present on human cells, thus, entering the cells.
  • The sanitizers containing more than 60% alcohol are effective.
  • Alcohol does not remove dead viruses, while a sanitizer can decrease the number of microbes quickly but not all types of germs.
  • WHO has also stated that using mash alone will not ensure an adequate level of protection. It should be complemented with regular hand washing to prevent transmission of the virus.


General Studies-II- Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

3. UP Property Damage Ordinance


The Uttar Pradesh cabinet approved UP Property Damage Ordinance to recover the cost of damages caused during the protest of CAA.


  • The ordinance has granted sweeping powers to a new claims tribunal.
  • The tribunal's compensation award will be final and no appeal can be made against this before any civil court.
  • One or more claim tribunals can be set up to investigate the damage caused and award compensation and to cover the cost of action taken by police and administration in preventing damage to public properties.
  • The proof of burden lies on the individual that one has no 'nexus' to a protest, hartal, etc. during which destruction to public or private property was caused.
  • Under Section 21(2), the liability will be borne by the actual perpetrators of the crime, one who 'instigates' or 'incites' the crime would share the liability as per tribunal's decision.
  • The tribunal will be headed by a retired district judge appointed by the state government.

Prelims Facts


  • President has the power to promulgate the ordinance under Article 123 of the Constitution while Governor of a state is empowered to promulgate the ordinance under Article 213.
  • Ordinance is promulgated on any urgent matter when one or both the Houses of Parliament or the legislature is not in session.


General Studies – III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

4. Excise Duty hiked on petrol and diesel


The government has increased excise duty on petrol and diesel by ₹3 each while there will not be any impact on retail prices.

Prelims Facts

Excise Duty:

  • It is a tax that is levied by the government on goods produced within the country. It is an indirect tax.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced on 1st July 2017 and subsumed many of the indirect taxes, including excise duty. But the items like alcohol and petroleum are out of the purview of GST. Therefore, on such items, excise duty exists.
  • Excise Duty is collected by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBEC).

Mains Question

  1. What is a disaster? What is the responsibility of the State Disaster Response Force in case of a calamity? (150 words)
  2. What is an ordinance? Discuss the legislative powers of the President and Governor. (200 words)