News: June 19, 2020

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

 

News: 1/7

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: International Relations
Topic: International institutions, Agencies and Fora
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 2/7

United Nations

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945.  It is currently made up of 193 Member States. The UN also provides a forum for its members to express their views in the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and other bodies and committees. By enabling dialogue between its members, and by hosting negotiations, the Organization has become a mechanism for governments to find areas of agreement and solve problems together.

The main organs of the UN are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat.

United Nation's Security Council (UNSC)

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security

  • UNSC held its first session in 1946, India was first elected as non-permanent member of the Council in 1950-51.
  • UNSC consists of 15 members- 5 permanent, and 10 non-permanent who serve for a term of two years. 
  • Only UNSC can issue binding resolutions on its state members as per Article 25 of UN Charter.
    • UN General Assembly resolutions are recommendatory in nature, and can issue binding resolution but only on its internal functioning.
  • Every member-country of the council, including the non-permanent members, assume the presidency of the council every month. The presidency is determined in an alphabetical order.
  • To be elected as a non-permanent member of the council, each member-country requires a two-third majority of the entire assembly. The veto does not apply to procedural style (functioning of ) of council, which needs support from 9 members
  • Permanent members have veto power but they can not prevent or end a debate through this power. Non permanent members have a sort of "collective right of veto" wherein a resolution can not pass if more than six members vote against it, as a resolution needs 9 votes for majority
  • UNSC can set up subsidiary bodies called "Committees" as needed. Currently there are four committees - Counter-Terrorism Committee, Non-Proliferation Committee, United Nations Military Staff Committee, ans Sanctions Committee

International Court of Justice

  • The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands).
    • It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions
  • It has no jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. As it is not a criminal court, it does not have a prosecutor able to initiate proceedings
  • Its decisions are final and binding on UN members, however there is no mechanism of enforcing them.

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • India has been formally elected as non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term.
  • Aug, 20
    • India hints it can take Jadhav case to ICJ again
    • China prompted the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the Kashmir issue in a closed-door meeting

Sub: Politics
Topic: Constitution Constitutional and Statutory bodies
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 3/7

Ministry of Women and Child Development

[In News] Twitter has launched search prompts that will direct users, seeking information on domestic violence to NCW and Ministry of Women and Child Development pages

Ministry of Women and Child Development

  • The ministry came into existence as a separate Ministry in 2006, earlier it was under the Ministry of Human Resources Development
  • The Ministry has 6 autonomous organisations viz.
    • National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD)
    • National Commission for women (NCW)
      • Statutory body
      • Consists of
        • Chairperson
        • five members nominated by Central Government, provided at least one member each belongs to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes respectively
    • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
    • Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA)
    • Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB)
    • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK)

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

 

News: 4/7

Disease Handling And Prevention

Organizations

National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

  • NCDC, erstwhile National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), was established to function as a national centre of excellence for control of communicable diseases
  • The Institute is under administrative control of the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC)

  • Established in 1953 by the Government of India, with the primary objective to promote, develop and commercialise the technologies 
  • Under the administrative control of the Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology
  • NavRakshak - NRDC has licensed the manufacturing know-how of a PPE (personal protective equipment) suit named - ‘NavRakshak’ - to five MSME clients to meet the demand for quality PPE kits.

Initiatives

Infectious disease diagnostic lab (I-Lab)

  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched the country’s first mobile I-Lab (Infectious disease diagnostic lab) for last mile COVID-19 testing access.
  • It will be deployed in remote, interior and inaccessible parts of the country and have the capability to perform COVID-19 RT-PCR tests, ELISA tests, additional tests for TB, HIV etc. as per CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) rates.
  • I-LAB is supported by the Department of Biotechnology and Ministry of Science & Technology under the COVID Command strategy.

Sero prevalence surveys

  • Sero prevalence surveys are designed to look for the presence of antibodies in the blood, produced in response to the coronavirus.
    • The coronavirus, in general, diminishes after 21 days. Antibodies, for a host of other viral infections, are normally expected to linger for many months.
    • It is different from RT-PCR tests or antigen tests which scan for the presence of the coronavirus in the body
    • The results of surveys are only for surveillance purposes and not for diagnosis of individual patients. 
  • The surveillance is conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in collaboration with key stakeholders and state health departments. 
  • The agencies use a combination of RT-PCR and Elisa antibody kits for these surveys. Throat and nasal swabs are collected for RT-PCR tests. In addition to RT-PCR tests, blood samples are collected for detecting IgG antibodies for Elisa testing
  • Results
    • In first sero survey across country, it was found that 0.73% of surveyed population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2
    • In second sero survey across vulnerable spots in Delhi, it was found that 9-11% of surveyed population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • NCDC to conduct a serological survey to analyze spread of COVID-19 in Delhi
  • July, 20
    • HC tells NCDC to submit results, analysis of sero-survey

Sub: History
Topic: Art & Culture
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 5/7

Vaishnavism

Vaishnavism is one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. The tradition is notable for its avatar doctrine, wherein Vishnu is revered in one of many distinct incarnations.  The tradition has traceable roots to the 1st millennium BCE, as Bhagavatism, also called Krishnaism. Later developments led by Ramananda created a Rama-oriented movement. The Vaishnava tradition has many sampradayas (denominations, sub-schools) ranging from the medieval era Dvaita school of Madhvacharya to Vishishtadvaita school of Ramanuja

Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya (Sri Vaishnavism)

Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya is a contemporary sampradaya(denomination) within the Vaishnavism tradition. It was founded by Nathamuni, and its central philosopher has been Ramanuja who developed Vishishtadvaita vedanta 

Nathamuni (823 CE–951 CE)

Nathamuni (823 CE–951 CE) was a Vaishnava theologian who collected and compiled the Divya Prabandham (a collection of tamil verses). Considered the first of Sri Vaishnava acharya, Nathamuni is also the author of 'Yoga rahasya' and 'Nyaya tattva'.

Alavandar (Yamunacharya , Periya Mudaliar)

He was a Vishistadvaita philosopher in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu in early 10the century. He was the grandson of Nathamuni, and Ramanuja was his disciple. His important works were

  • Stotraratnam - a prayer in praise of Narayana
  • Siddhitrayam - which describe the Vishistadvaita school of thought, describing a relation between the soul, god and the universe
  • Agama Pramanya - stating the authority of Pancharatra agama

Ramanuja (Ramanujacharya) 1017–1137 CE

He was a Tamil Brahmin and one of the most important exponents of Vaishnavism. He wrote Sri Bhasya and Gita Bhasya. His disciple Ramananda spread his guru’s message in the northern parts of India. He was the founder of Vishishtadvaita (Vishist Advaita) philosophy that competed with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvacharya, and Advaita (non-dualism) philosophy of Adi Shankara, together the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium.

Vishishtadvaita (Vishist Advaita)

Vishishtadvaita (Vishist Advaita) is one of the most popular schools of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. It is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy. It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterized by multiplicity.  Tt has been key to the spread of the Bhakti movement in South Asia. Key texts in Vaishnavism include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pancharatra (Agama) texts, divya prabhadam, and the Bhagavata Purana.

There are three key principles of Vishishtadvaita:

  1. Tattva: The knowledge of the 3 real entities namely, jiva (living souls; the sentient); ajiva (the nonsentient) and Ishvara (Vishnu-Narayana or Parahbrahman, Supreme-self and the cause of all manifestations and in-dwelling giver of grace based on Karma).
  2. Hita: The means of realization, as through bhakti (devotion) and prapatti (self-surrender).
  3. Purushartha: The goal to be attained, as moksha or liberation from bondage.

Sub: History
Topic: Art & Culture
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 6/7

Visual Arts In Focus

Handicrafts in focus

  • Embroidery
    • Chikankari
      • the culture and cloth making process of Lucknow.
      • Has GI status

Paintings in focus

  • Madhubani paintings / Mithila paintings
    • Traditional religious painting done in Bihar and Terai regions of Nepal
    • Has GI status

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • Chikankari exhibition in Chennai
  • July, 20
    • Madhubani artists painting face mask during pandemic

Sub: Politics
Topic: Governance Policies and Welfare schemes
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 7/7

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan or Self-Reliant India Movement, is a campaign launched by the Central Government with an economic stimulus package of 20 lakh crores, equivalent to 10% of India's GDP.

  • It has five pillars - Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography, and Demand.
  • The package emphasises on land, labour, liquidity and laws.
  • The package is aimed at providing the much needed financial & policy support to the cottage industry and MSMEs in India.Startups were not specifically covered under it.

Following key measures were proposed under the economic package

Government Reforms

  • Increase in borrowing limits:  The borrowing limits of state governments will be increased from 3% to 5% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for the year 2020-21.
  • Privatisation of Public Sector Enterprise (PSEs): A new PSE policy has been announced with plans to privatise PSEs, except the ones functioning in certain strategic sectors which will be notified by the government.  In strategic sectors, at least one PSE will remain, but private sector will also be allowed.

Measures for businesses (including MSMEs)

  • Collateral free loans for businesses: All businesses (including MSMEs) will be provided with collateral free automatic loans of up to 3 lakh crore rupees.
  • Corpus for MSMEs: A fund of funds with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore will be set up for MSMEs
  • Schemes for NBFCs: A Special Liquidity Scheme was announced under which Rs 30,000 crore of investment will be made by the government in both primary and secondary market transactions in investment grade debt paper of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).  The central government will provide 100% guarantee for these securities.  
  • Disallowing global tenders: To protect Indian MSMEs from competition from foreign companies, global tenders of up to Rs 200 crore will not be allowed in government procurement tenders.
  • Ease of doing business for corporates: Direct listing of securities by Indian public companies in permissible foreign jurisdictions will be allowed.  Private companies which list Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) on stock exchanges will not be considered listed companies.  
  • Definition of MSME: The definition of MSMEs will be changed by amending the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006.  As per the proposed definition, the investment limit will be increased from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore for micro enterprises, from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore for small enterprises, and from Rs 10 crore to Rs 20 crore for medium enterprises. The turnover limit for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises will be Rs 5 crore, Rs 50 crore, and Rs 100 crore, respectively.
  • Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi Scheme (PM SVANIDHI) - By Minsitry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Vendors will be able to apply for a working capital loan of up to ₹10,000, which is repayable in monthly installments within a year.
  • Initiation of insolvency proceedings: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 will be amended, with minimum threshold to initiate insolvency proceedings to be increased from one lakh rupees to one crore rupees

Agriculture and Allied sectors

  • Agri Infrastructure Fund: A fund of one lakh crore rupees will be created for development of agriculture infrastructure projects 
  • Emergency working capital for farmers: An additional fund of Rs 30,000 crore will be released as emergency working capital for farmers. This fund will be disbursed through NABARD to Rural Cooperative Banks (RCBs) and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for meeting their crop loans requirements.
  • Support to fishermen: The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) will be launched for integrated, sustainable, and inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries.
  • Employment push using CAMPA funds: The government will approve plans worth Rs 6,000 crore under the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to facilitate job creation for tribals/adivasis
  • Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowers the central and state governments control the production, supply and distribution of certain commodities to avoid scarcity in the country. The Act will be amended to deregulate food items including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato. 

Migrant Workers

  • One Nation One Card: Migrant workers will be able to access the Public Distribution System (Ration) from any Fair Price Shop in India by March 2021 under the scheme of One Nation One Card. 
  • Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) for Migrant Workers / Urban Poor: The migrant labour/urban poor will be provided living facilities at affordable rent under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). This will be achieved by: (i) converting government funded housing in the cities into ARHCs through PPPs, and (ii) incentivising manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop ARHCs on their private land and operate them.  

Defence

  • FDI limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route will be increased from 49% to 74%.

Energy

  • Privatisation of power distribution: Power departments/utilities in union territories will be privatised
  • Commercial coal mining: In March 2020, the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed, which opened up the coal sector for commercial mining.  Auctions will be conducted for allocation of coal mines.  Any party can bid for a coal block and sell in the open market. 

Social Sector

  • Public health: The National Digital Health Blueprint will be implemented, which aims at creating an ecosystem to support universal health coverage in an efficient, inclusive, safe and timely manner using digital technology.
  • Allocation for MGNREGS: To help boost rural economy, an additional Rs 40,000 crore will be allocated under MGNREGS taking it to Rs 1,01,500 crore (65% increase) for 2020-21
  • Technology driven education: PM eVidya will be launched for multi-mode access to digital/online education.  This program will include facilities to support school education in states/UTs under the DIKSHA scheme (one nation, one digital platform).  National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission will be launched by December 2020 to ensure that every child attains learning level and outcomes in grade 5 by 2025.

 

[Source] https://www.prsindia.org/report-summaries/summary-announcements-aatma-nirbhar-bharat-abhiyaan

[In News]

  • July, 20
    • Coal India Ltd. (CIL) introduces a new category of spot e-auction for importers only, and aimed at replacing 150 million tonne of imported coal with domestic supply.

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