News: June 30, 2020

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

 

News: 1/6

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: Economics
Topic: Development Energy and Resources
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 2/6

Electricity

Acts

Electricity Act, 2003

  • The Act delicenses power generation completely (except for all nuclear and hydro-power projects over a certain size).
  • As per the Act, 10 per cent of the power supplied by suppliers and distributors to the consumers has to be generated using renewable and non-conventional sources of energy so that the energy is reliable.
  • Setting up State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) has been made mandatory
  • Central government to prepare National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy.

Draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • Power tariff to be determined with no subsidy component
  • Opens power distribution to franchisee and sub-licensee business
  • Setting up a new regulatory body, Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority, for resolving disputes. Also Appellate Tribunal of Electricity to have powers similar to that to a Civil Court

Bodies

Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC)

CERC is a statutory body under Ministry of Power, functioning as per Electricity Act 2003.

 

Power projects in focus

Hydro project

  • Kholongchu Hydro Enery project - First ever 50:50 joint venture project between India and Bhutan in Trashiyangtse, Bhutan, to be completed by 2025
  • Etalin Hydropower Project - On going project in dibang valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Solar project

  • Rewa Ultra Mega Solar - 750 MW solar power project in Rewa district, Madhya Pradesh

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • States and power sector workforce protesting against privatisation and subsidy removal in new Draft Electricity Amendment Bill
  • July, 20
    • CERC proposes to ease norms for renewable energy projects

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

 

News: 3/6

Bretton Woods Twins

In 1944, after second world war, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were set up, together called Bretton Woods Twins

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

  • Set in 1945 with the main functions as exchange rate regulation, purchasing short-term foreign currency liabilities of the member nations, allotting special drawing rights (SDRs) to the member nations, and to act as the bailor to the member economies in the situation of any BoP crisis.
  • The Board of Governors of the IMF consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor from each member country. For India, Finance Minister is the Ex-officio Governor, and RBI Governor is the Alternate Governor on the Board.

IMF publications

  • World Economic Outlook
    • India GDP to contract 4.5%, and world GDP to contract to 4.9%
  • Global Financial Stability Report
  • Fiscal Monitor Report
  • Global Policy Agenda

World Bank 

World Bank is a provider of financial and technical assistance to individual countries around the globe. Currently, the World Bank has two stated goals that it aims to achieve by 2030.

  • The first is to end extreme poverty by decreasing the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day to below 3% of the world population.
  • The second is to increase overall prosperity by increasing income growth in the bottom 40% of every country in the world. 

World Bank and India

  • Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS) project : $500 million to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states - Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
  • Prior to STARS, World Bank has provided assistance of more than 3 billion towards "Education for All"

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • STARS

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

 

News: 4/6

Food Bodies And Initiatives

Global Bodies

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  • FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. 
  • Report
    • Global report on food crises 2020
      • Global Report on Food Crises is prepared by 16 leading global and regional organizations belonging to the Global Network Against Food Crises, and released annually by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and IFPRI.
      • An estimated 135 million people in 55 countries around the world faced acute levels of hunger in 2019
      • An estimated 75 million stunted children were living in the 55 food-crisis countries 
      • Around 183 million people in 47 countries were classified in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2) conditions, at risk of slipping into Crisis or worse 
    • State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI)
      • Number of people affected by hunger in the world continues to increase slowly. This trend started in 2014 and extends to 2019.
      • Much of the recent increase in food insecurity can be attributed to the greater number of conflicts, often exacerbated by climate-related shock.
      • World is not on track to achieve the SDG 2.1 Zero Hunger target by 2030.
  • Initiatives
    • Helping nations with advice and funding to fight locust attacks

Indian Initiatives

National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA)

The Act envisaged to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people, to live a life with dignity.

  • The Act provides for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population
  • The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains. In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance
  • The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.
  • Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
  • Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
  • The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. 

One Nation One Ration Card (ONOC)

  • Launched by Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution 
  • Under ONOC, a beneficiary can receive ration entitlements as under the National Food Security Act from any fair price shop in the country using her/his Aadhaar number and biometric authentication
  • Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal will be used for inter-state portability of ration cards
    • As on Aug 2020, 24 states/UTs had become part of portal
  • Annavitran portal to host the data of distribution of foodgrains through E-PoS devices within a state.

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • Glibal report on food crisis
  • Aug, 20
    • One Nation One Ration Card facility available in 24 states now.
    • Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday, reviewed the progress of 'One Nation One Ration Card' 

Sub: International Relations
Topic: Internal Security Defence
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 5/6

Extremism And Insurgency

Agreements

Nagaland Peace Accord

  • Ongoing agreement between government of India and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) to end insurgency
  • The accord was first signed in 1975 with Naga National Council (NNC) to give up arms. Some senior leaders rebelled and formed their own groups
  • In 1997, a ceasefire agreement was signed between NSCN(I-M) and government
  • In 2015, Nagaland Peace Accord was signed, the talks have since then stalled, with NSCN asking for greater share of land, separate constitution and flag.

[In News]

  • Aug, 20
    • Naga peace talks hits a road bump with NSCN-IM wanting to remove interlocutor.

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Research and Technology Information Technology
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 6/6

IT Acts And Bodies

Acts

Information Technology Act, 2000

  • Provisions
    • Allows authentication by electronic signature, giving them legal recognition
    • Provides recognition to foreign Certifying Authorities
    • Dispute resolution by Appellate Tribunal set up under TRAI Act and Finance Act. Appeals can be made in High Court.
  • Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA)
    • Under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
    • Give license and regulate the working of Certifying Authorities (CAs). The Certifying Authorities (CAs) issue digital signature certificates for electronic authentication of users.
  • Sections
    • 66A : Punishment for sending offensive messages
      • Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, 2015 - Supreme court made Section 66A unconstitutional on grounds of violating the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a)
    • 66F : Punishment for cyber terrorism.
    • 67 : Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material
    • 69 : Power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information
    • 69A : Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information
  • Rules
    • Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009
      • Gets exercising powers under Section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000
      • Central Government shall designate an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary  for the the purpose of issuing direction for blocking access.
      • Every organisation shall designate a Nodal officer and intimate Department of Information Technology under Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), 2012

  • To facilitate the access to Government of India owned shareable data and information
  • NDAP applies to all data and information created and archived using public funds provided by Government of India directly or through authorized agencies
  • A state-of-the-art data warehouse and data archive with online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities, which includes providing, a multi-dimensional and subject oriented view of the database needs to be created.
  • Department of Science & Technology to be the nodal agency, and NIC to create data.gov.in under Open Government Data (OGD) Platform
    • Open Government Data (OGD) : A platform for supporting Open Data initiative of Government of India. It facilitates Government Organizations to publish their datasets in open formats for free public use. OGD is also available as Software as a Service (SaaS).

Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019

  • The Bill seeks to provide for protection of personal data of individuals, and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same. 
  • Obligations of data fiduciary: A data fiduciary is an entity or individual who decides the means and purpose of processing personal data.
  • The Bill allows processing of data by fiduciaries only if consent is provided by the individual. However, in certain circumstances, personal data can be processed without consent.  These include: (i) if required by the State for providing benefits to the individual, (ii) legal proceedings, (iii) to respond to a medical emergency.
  • The Bill amends the Information Technology Act, 2000 to delete the provisions related to compensation payable by companies for failure to protect personal data

Bodies

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

  • Umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007
  • NPCI is a 'Not for Profit' Company registered under the provisions of Section 8 of Companies Act 2013
  • RuPay : an Indigenously developed Payment System 
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) :  One-stop bill payment solution for all recurring payments
  • National Automated Clearing House (NACH) : For Banks, Financial Institutions, Corporates and Government a web based solution to facilitate interbank, high volume, electronic transactions which are repetitive and periodic in nature.
  • National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) : Toll collection through FASTag. FASTag are Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) stickers which are affixed on the vehicle windshield

Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)

  • CERT-In is a functional organisation of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology with the objective of securing Indian cyber space
  • Provides a single point of contact for reporting local problems
  • Provides a 24 x 7 security service. 

Miscellaneous

  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C):
    • Set up in 2018 deal with all types of cybercrimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
    • Functions under Ministry of Home Affairs, and to act as a nodal point in the fight against cybercrime
    • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal: cybercrime.gov.in ,is a citizen-centric initiative that enables citizens to report cybercrimes online through the portal
  • Cyber Prevention, Awareness & Detection Centre (CyPAD) -  CyPAD is the nodal Cyber Crime Unit of Delhi Police.

Global

Group of Governmental Experts (GGE)

The issue of ICT security has been on the UN agenda since 1998, when Russia introduced a draft resolution on the subjec.

  • UN GGE process has been the primary avenue for inter-state dialogue about the international legal regulation of cyberspace
  • The first Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) was established in 2004 but it did not agree on a substantive report
  • Till now there have been 6 GGE meetings with two year terms; India being member in 5 of them.
  • GGE has limited membership based on equitable geographical distribution. Current GGE with 25 members was set in 2019, and will give its report in 2021

Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) for security in ICT

  • Set up in 2019, similar to Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) with membership open to all. The group will report back to Assembly in 2020

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • NPCI denies breach in BHIM app leak
  • July, 20
    • MeitY bans 59 Chinese apps, under Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules exercising authority under Section 69A of IT Act, to safeguard the "sovereignty and integrity of India"
    • CERT-In received concerns from citizens about privacy in these apps.
    • Environmental website www.fridaysforfuture.in protesting EIA 2020 notification was blocked by Union Environment Ministry under section 66 of IT Act
    • Growing cyber attack in pandemic and call for order
  • Aug, 20
    • CyPAD asked to submit report by high court on plea from a student about misuse of her photographs on social media

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