News: June 14, 2020

Sub: Geography
Topic: India Physical Setiings
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 1/6

Mountain Passes In Focus

Passes sorted by states

  • Arunachal Pradesh
    • Bum La
    • Tulung La
  •  Sikkim
    • Naku La
  •  Uttarakhand
    • Lipulekh pass - At trijunction of China, India and Nepal

[In News]

  • June 20
    • Last time shots were fired in 1975 at Tulung La

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Physics And Chemistry
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 2/6

COVID Control

Drugs

  • Dexamethasone
    • Is an anti-inflammatory drug, and has gained traction for its success against corona virus
    • UK's 'RECOVERY Trial' study showed success with low doses of Dexamethasone to target lung inflammation
    • As per Clinical Management Protocol, it can be used as an alternative to methylprednisolone for managing moderate to severe cases.
    • Dexamethasone is part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)
    • Anti-malarial drug, which was seen as part of preventive treatment against COVID
      • WHO in June said HCQ shows very limited success in reducing mortality rate of COVID patients. Following this, India lifted all bans on its export.
    • Cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use
  • Methylprednisolone - anti-inflammatory drug used in COVID-19 treatment
  • Favipiravir
    • Sold under brand FabiFflu, is an anti-viral drug for COVID-19 patients from age group 18-75 with mild to moderate symptoms
    • Originally developed to treat influenza
  • Itolizumab 
    • From biocon, approved by ICMR for patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress
    • Normally used to cure skin ailment psoriasis
  • Remdesivir
    • Antiviral drug, cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use for patients in moderate stage requiring oxygen support
    • As part of the agreements, the drugmakers will receive technology transfer of the manufacturing process for Remdesivir, and get to set their own prices for the generic product they produce.
    • The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19 or until an alternative is approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, whichever is earlier.
  • Tocilizumab
    • Antiviral drug, cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients with moderate disease with progressively increasing oxygen requirements and in mechanically ventilated patients not improving despite use of steroids
    • Thwarts pro-inflammatory cytokines released by immune system
  • Covaxin
    • Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) has permitted phase-I and II of human clinical trials of ‘Covaxin’, the country’s first vaccine candidate for COVID-19, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR-National Institute of Virology
    • It is an inactivated vaccine, wherein a dead virus is injected into the body to generate an antibody response
  • Sputnik V
    • The vaccine is based on an adenoviral vector which normally causes respiratory viral infections. Vectors are vehicles, which can induce a genetic material from another virus into a cell.
    • The gene from adenovirus, which causes the infection is removed, while a gene with the code of a protein from another virus spike is inserted. This inserted element is safe for the body but still helps the immune system to react and produce antibodies, which protect us from the infection.
    • Sputnik V uses two vaccines using two different vectors, the second vaccination takes place in 21 days for long lasting immunity

Initiatives

  • Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19
    • By Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
    • Symptoms - fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat and diarrhoea. They have also complained of loss of smell (anosmia) or loss of taste (ageusia)
    • Risk factors - For ages more than 60 years, and in those with underlying non-communicable disease like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac arrest, etc.
    • Treatment
      • Mild COVID-19 cases - may be given symptomatic treatment such as antipyretic (Paracetamol) for fever and pain.
      • Moderate COVID019 cases - patients will be isolated in Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) or District hospital or Medical College hospitals.
      • Severe - Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) may be considered for any of those having high risk features for severe disease
  • Policy Responses to COVID19: Policy tracker by International Monetary Fund, summarizes the key economic responses, governments are taking to limit the human and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Index (CESI)
    • By Columbia University and World Bank, the index standardises the economic responses taken by governments, thus allowing use to study cross-country differences in policies
    • The two main components of index are: fiscal stimulus package (as a percentage of GDP) and the interest rate cut by the monetary policy authority 

Terminology

  • Pre-symptomatic spread - Pre-symptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who don't look or feel sick, but will eventually get symptoms later. 
  • Asymptomatic spread  - Asymptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who do not have symptoms and will never get symptoms from their infection.
  • Spike protein / S protein - A protein that protrudes from the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus that attaches it to human enzyme ACE2 receptor, after which the virus enters the cell and makes multiple copies of itself.

Tests

  • Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay antibody test (ELISA)
    • developed by National Institute of Virology in Pune along with Zydus Cadila. 
    • The blood sample is placed inside the small wells of an ELISA plate. These plates are coated with the antigen or the inactivated form of the virus. If the blood contains antibodies, it binds to the antigen and a substrate solution is added to the well. The reaction usually produces a colour change, thus detecting antibodies.
    • In India, the ELISA test for Covid-19 is only approved for serosurveys - which estimate the proportion of the population exposed to infection, and for surveys in high-risk areas and segments like containment zones
  • Rapid Antigen Detection Test (RADT)
    • Approved by ICMR. RADT checks for antigen production from a nasal swab.
      • An antigen means any toxin in the body which produces an immune response.
    • It takes about 30 minutes to give result. However rapid test has been found to have a higher chance of false negatives.
  • Real Time Reverse Transcription–Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)
    • Real time RT–PCR is one of the most precise (and expensive) laboratory methods for detecting the COVID-19 virus.
    • Cleared by ICMR, it takes about 1 day to get result
    • Once the swab is taken, RT–PCR checks for virus's RNA
    • RT–PCR cannot be used for detecting past infections, only for active infections.
  • TrueNat
    • Commonly used for tuberculosis and HIV 
    • Cleared by ICMR, it works on same principle of RT-PCR. It involves taking nasal or oral swabs
    • The TrueNat machine is small and portable, mostly running on batteries, and provides result within 60 minutes.

A positive result from ELISA or rapid antibody test may not mean the person needs isolation or is infectious; it may simply mean the person was exposed to the virus and has developed antibodies. These two tests, being cheaper than RT-PCR, are employed in large-scale population surveys

Treatment

  • Convalescent plasma therapy
    • Convalescent plasma therapy is a passive immunisation process. It is simply the transfusion of plasma containing antibodies from immune survivors of infectious diseases to the affected individuals
    • As per protocol by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare , Convalescent plasma therapy may be considered for patients with moderate illness with no improvement in condition despite the use of steroids.

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • SARS-COVID 2, COVID-19
    • Drug approvals
  • July, 20
    • Russian vaccine clears first phase clinical trial.
    • ICMR cautions itolizumab, tocilizumab over claims of significantly reducing mortality rates
    • A new research shows spike protein changing its shape to hairpin form after attaching to ACE2 receptors
  • Aug, 20
    • Russia registers first COVID-19 vaccine

Sub: Society
Topic: Human Development Education
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 3/6

Higher Study Bodies And Surveys

Bodies

School education is on the State list, and higher education is on the concurrent list

University Grants Commission (UGC)

  • UGC is a statutory body set up in 1956, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
  • University Grants Commission provides recognition to universities and disburses funds to them.
  • In 2019 a Bill was proposed to replace UGC but was scrapped later

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

  • AICTE is a statutory body under the aegis of Department of Higher Education, MHRD.
  • It is a national-level council for technical education responsible for planning and coordination of technical education and management of education system in the country.
  • It accredits graduate and post graduate programs at Indian institutions.
  • AICTE acts more as a guidance board

National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE)

  • For planned and coordinated development of the teacher education system throughout the country
  • Statutory body under National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993
  • It lay down guidelines for minimum qualifications and fees charged by recognised institutions
  • Suitable performance appraisal system, norms and mechanism for enforcing accountability on recognised institutions
  • Take all necessary steps to prevent commercialisation of teacher education

Surveys

  • National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
    • Launched in 2015, is a methodology adopted by the MHRD to rank institutions of higher education in India.
    • The parameters give higher weightage to Teaching, Learning and Resources, Research and Professional Practices, Graduation Outcomes, Outreach and Inclusivity; and low weightage to Perception. 

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • NIRF: IIT-M tops India Rankings in 2020
  • July, 20
    • Students in limbo as UGC yet to decide on final year exams
    • UGC to take action if States cancel exams

Sub: Geography
Topic: Environment Pollution
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 4/6

Indian pollution initiatives in focus

Bodies

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organisation constituted in 1974 under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • CPCB is entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
  • Its primary functions include -  (i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and (ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
  • National Air Monitoring Programme  (NAMP): For determining present air quality status and trends, and to regulate pollution from industries and other source to meet the air quality standards
  • National Water Quality Monitoring (WQM):  Monitoring stations established by CPCB on aquatic resources across the country.

Policies

Bharat stage emission standards (BSES)

Bharat stage emission standards are the standards set up by the Indian government which specify the amount of air that vehicles can emit. If these emit more pollutants than the prescribed limit, they don’t get a clearance to be sold in an open market.

  • Bharat Stage Emission Standards have been instituted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), under Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change. 
  • History - Vehicle emission norms were introduced in India in 1991 for petrol and in 1992 for diesel vehicles. Since 2000, Euro norms are followed in India under the name Bharat Stage

Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI)

  • Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norm came into force from April 1, 2020 across the country. 
  • While the BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, the BS-VI grade fuel only has 10 ppm sulphur content.
  • Also, the harmful NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars can be brought down by nearly 70%. In the petrol cars, they can be reduced by 25%.
  • However, when we talk air pollution, particulate matter like PM 2.5 and PM 10 are the most harmful components and the BS VI will bring the cancer causing particulate matter in diesel cars by a phenomenal 80%. 

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission date extension
  • Aug, 20
    • CPCB: Delhi’s air quality have started deteriorating again as lockdown eases.

Sub: Geography
Topic: Environment
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 5/6

Environmental Bodies In India

Acts

Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA)

  • EPA was introduced as an umbrella legislation that provides a holistic framework for the protection and improvement to the environment.
  • Environment Protection Act, 1986 was passed and enacted under Article 253 of constitution
  • It clearly defined the term ‘environment’ as a reference for all undertakings that were concerned with the environment 
  • EPA allowed for formulation of guidelines for the management of hazardous substances and national environmental standards.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Environmental impact assessment is a planning process to predict, assess, and mitigate the potential impacts of project development on the biophysical and human environment. In 1994, the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), under the Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, promulgated EIA notification, making Environmental Clearance (EC) mandatory for expansion or modernization of any activity or for setting up new projects listed in Schedule 1 of the notification. An EIA notification is issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act.

draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2020

Released by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), EIA Notification 2020 is to replace and supersede EIA Notification 2006.

  • Categorization of projects and activities: All projects are divided into three categories
    • Category ‘A’: Category ‘A’ projects, including expansion and modernization shall require prior Environment Clearance from the Ministry
    • Category ‘B1’: Category ‘B1’ projects, including expansion and modernization of existing projects, excluding those near sensitive or protected zones (Polluted areas, protected areas, inter state boundaries, etc), shall require prior Environment Clearance from State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) or Union Territory Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (UTEIAA)
    • Category ‘B2’: Category ‘B2’ projects that are required to be placed before Appraisal Committee as specified in the Schedule, shall require prior Environment Clearance from SEIAA or UTEIAA. Such projects shall not require any Scoping
  • Linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas (100km from boundary) will not require any public hearing
  • All inland waterways projects and expansion/widening of national highways will be exempted from public clearance.
  • Post-facto clearance: Starting a project before obtaining environmental approvals will no longer be a violation, and it can be regularised post-facto. 
  • Reduces public consultation hearings to a maximum of 40 days, and reduces response submission during public hearing to 20 days
  • For environment assessment, baseline data will be collected once (twice for river valley projects)
  • Section 14 provides exemption from public consultation, also limiting the scope of public involvement to the districts concerned, in the case of national parks and sanctuaries where pipeline infrastructure will pass.
  • Section 26 provides a list of projects that would not attract environmental clearance or permission, including coal mining and seismic surveys for oil, methane and shale gas on some lands

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

To provide for prevention, control and abatement of water pollution and the maintenance or restoration of the wholesomeness of water. The Act provides for constitution of central and State Boards for preventing water pollution

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

  • CPCB is a statutory organisation, constituted in 1974, under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. 
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
  • CPCB is under mandate - to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution; and to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution.
  • Recent Initiatives
    • CPCB will classify railway stations under the red, orange and green categories based on the quantity of waste water generated.

Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • National Green Tribunal was set under National Green Tribunal Act 2010, for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources
  • NGT is guided by principles of natural justice. NGT is vested with the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure for discharging its functions. NGT does not have suo moto power to take a case.
  • NGT has original jurisdiction over all civil cases involving a substantial question relating to environment 
    • Substantial questions are those which affect the community at large, and not just individuals or groups of individuals.
  • NGT consist of both judicial and expert members. Judicial members must have been judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts. Chairperson should either be a judge of Supreme Court or Chief Justice of High Court
  • NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These are:
    1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
    2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
    3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
    4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
    5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA)
    6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
    7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • EPA, TERI - Baghjan oil field fire in Tinsukia district, Assam
    • NGT imposes fine on Karnataka government over pollution in Kithiganahalli Lake
    • NGT imposes fine on LG chem for Visakhapatnam gas leak
  • July, 20
    • Parliamentary panel to discuss draft EIA
  • Aug, 20
    • NGT orders OIL to disburse compensation ranging from ₹2.5 lakh to ₹25 lakh to those affected by the oil well blowout in Assam’s Tinsukia

Sub: Geography
Topic: India Physical Setiings Resources
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 6/6

Water Resource Management Initiatives

National Mission for Clean Ganga / Namami Gange, 2014

  • Under Department of Water Resources,River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti
  • Its implementation has been divided into Entry-Level Activities (for immediate visible impact), Medium-Term Activities (to be implemented within 5 years of time frame) and Long-Term Activities (to be implemented within 10 years).
  • Ganga Gram - To develop model villages on banks of ganga. Focus to be on ODF, waster management, water conservation, tourism, etc.
  • UNDP to be executive agency for rural sanitation programme.

Jal Jivan Mission (JJM)

  • JJM, with moto  'Har Ghar Jal', aims to provide tap water to every rural household through Freshwater Household Tap Connection (FHTC) by 2024.
  • It is administered by Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, under Ministry of Jal Shakti 

Manipur Water Supply Project

  • The mission aims to provide FHTCs, giving clean drinking water to Greater Imphal and 1,700 villages in Manipur
  • The project is funded by the Central Government under 'Jal Jeevan Mission', with loan from New Development Bank 

[In news]

  • June, 20
    • Ministry of Jal Shakti wants control of finance panel’s panchayat grants for water
    • Returning labourers may be deployed for Jal Jeevan Mission
  • July, 20
    • World Bank has approved a five-year loan to the Namami Gange project worth ₹3,000 crore
    • Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation of the Manipur Water Supply Project via video conferencing

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