Daily Current Affairs May 20

Mains Topic – GS Paper III – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.


Why in News?

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), joint partners in the K-FON project with Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited, has begun the preliminary work setting up a robust fibre optic cable network across the State using KSEB posts and transmission towers.

About Kerala Fibre Optics Network (KFON)

Kerala Fiber optic Network (KFON) project is the Mega Infrastructure Project of the Government of Kerala. The scheme aims at creating an optic fibre network parallel to the distribution network of the KSEB. It will provide Internet connection to BPL families, government offices, hospitals and schools. About 20 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families will be given free Internet connection.

WiFi hotspots will be set up across the state to help connected-users in schools, hospitals, offices and houses. Under the WiFi scheme, around 30 million people will have free access to all websites and mobile applications of the state data centre.

Implementation of KFON

The scheme is being implemented with financial assistance from the KIIFB as part of an ambitious programme to ensure all citizens have access to Internet. It envisages a State-wide optical fibre network to be set up by Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB) and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited to link houses and offices. A consortium led by Bharat Electronics Limited had bagged the bid for the ambitious project to be completed by December 2020.

Benefits of KFON

  • Licenced Internet service providers and cable TV operators can utilise the optic fibre network to provide services to citizens.
  • The project would open the possibility for the State to take a giant leap in the IT sector, with major gains in the Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things and startup domains.
  • Government offices and educational institutions would be linked through the high speed network.
  • It will give a push to the digitalisation of government services like the e-health programme.
  • IT parks, airports and seaports will also benefit from the linkage.
  • Small scale enterprises using e-commerce platforms will benefit from K-FON.
  • The project will help in High quality video conferencing and transport management.
  • The network will also link all mobile towers in the State for better mobile Internet services.


Mains Topic – GS Paper III – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.


Why in News?

India and the U.S plan to work together on vaccine research and testing under the Vaccine Action Program (VAP) for COVID-19 pandemic.

About Vaccine Action Program

The Vaccine Action Program is an Indo-US bilateral program, which supports a broad spectrum of activities relating to new and improved vaccines. The programme was designed to encompass laboratory-based research, evaluation of candidate vaccines, testing for clinical development, vaccine quality control, delivery of vaccines and so on. The programme is under implementation since July, 1987 under the Gandhi-Reagan Science & Technology Agreement.

Major projects were initiated under VAP in the areas of rotaviral diarrhoea, dengue, viral hepatitis, acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, E. coli, leishmaniasis, pneumococcal, HIV/AIDS, etc.

Main Areas of Focus

  • Priorities under VAP currently include: dengue, enteric diseases, influenza (including avian influenza), malaria, and tuberculosis (TB).
  • The program has been further expanded to include initiatives focused on TB clinical research and human immunology.
  • Additional areas of interest include research on antimicrobial resistance, chikungunya vaccines, infant immunology and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


Mains Topic – GS Paper II – Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.


Why in news?

The Government of India has contributed US$ 2 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of the Agency’s core programmes and services, including education, health care, relief and social services. 


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is an UN agency created in December 1949 to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. The UNRWA definition of refugee covers Palestinian who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine War. 

Originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, today UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports. Aid is provided in five areas of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Aid for Palestinian refugees outside these five areas is provided by UNHCR.

UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR. (UNHCR is the main UN refugee agency, which is responsible for aiding other refugees all over the world.) 

UNHCR has a specific mandate to aid its refugees to eliminate their refugee status by local integration in current country, resettlement in a third country or repatriation when possible. UNRWA allows refugee status to be inherited by descendants of male refugee, including legally adopted children.

In 2007, UNRWA began a comprehensive reform programme to strengthen its management capacity and provide more effective and efficient services to Palestine refugees. This reform, known as organizational development, has focused on building capacity in four key areas:

  1. Human resources management
  2. Programme management
  3. Organizational processes
  4. Leadership and management

Way Forward

It is worth noting that India had increased its annual financial contribution to UNRWA from US $1.25 million in 2016 to US$ 5 million in 2018 and 2019, and pledged another US$ 5 million for 2020. With this year’s contribution to UNRWA, India opened the way to become a member of the Agency’s Advisory Commission.