According to Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, COVID-19 in India may be entering the stage of endemicity where low or moderate level of transmission will go on.
On the clearance of India’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine ‘COVAXIN’, she was confident that the technical team of WHO will be satisfied to give clearance to be its authorized vaccines.
Chief Scientist noted that, due to size, heterogeneity of population and immunity status across the country, it is feasible that this situation in India may continue with ups and downs in various parts of India. India may be entering the stage of endemicity where moderate or low level of transmission will continue to happen however, no exponential growth or peaks will be there.
On the issue of prevalence of COVID-19 among children, she notes that, according to Sero Survey, it is possible that children can get infected and transmit. But they will be having mild illness most of the time. Very small percentage will get sick & inflammatory complications and few will die. But the number will be much less than the adult population.
On the topic of using drugs like HCQ, Remdesivir or Ivermectin, she notes that, as of now there are no evidence of role of Ivermectin or HCQ in reducing mortality or morbidity in people infected with the COVID-19 virus. These drugs also have no role in preventing the infection.
Union cabinet has approved the highest ever fair & remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane farmers on August 25, 2021.
Use of ethanol is increasing fast in the recent years. Currently, 7.5-8% ethanol is blended into petrol. Percentage of ethanol blended in petrol is likely to increase over 20% in next 2-3 years.
FRP is the minimum price at which sugarcane is purchased by sugar mills from farmers. This price is fixed by Union government based on the recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). It is determined under Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966. FRP is determined by considering various factors like cost of production, domestic & international prices, demand-supply situation, inter-crop price parity etc.
FRP provides margins to farmers irrespective of the facts that sugar mills are generating a profit or not. This price is applicable across the country uniformly. However, some states namely Haryana, Punjab, UP, Uttarakhand, and TN announce a State Advised Price, which is usually higher than the FRP.
According to Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, India is likely to export USD 46 billion to ASEAN in financial year 2022.
India and ASEAN have large share of skilled population, robust service as well as manufacturing sectors. They also have several complementary sectors and products that can help in greater cooperation. Both India and ASEAN have a combined economy of around USD 5.8 trillion. Thus, there is significant potential to enhance trade and investment partnership.
For the fiscal year 2021-22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of USD 400 billion of merchandise exports. He has also envisioned a roadmap to achieve this target. Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, Central government recently approved a USD 26 billion Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme. It covers 13 sectors like pharmaceuticals, electronics, solar modules, automobiles, speciality steel, and medical devices to attract investment and enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities.
Havana Syndrome was first reported in diplomats who were stationed in Cuba in 2016. They experienced a strange set of symptoms that prompted a series of government and scientific investigations. Some officials called it anomalous health incidents while some called attacks. Most recent cases were reported in Asia in 2018 and in central Europe in 2021.
This syndrome is a series of unexplained medical symptoms that were first experienced by U.S. State Department personnel who were based in Cuba in 2016. State department also reported such cases in 2018 in China.
Symptoms associated with the syndrome includes headache, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, cognitive difficulties and memory loss of varying severity.
Initially, it was believed that the syndrome is the result of an attack by a sonic or acoustic weapon. But later a comprehensive analysis by a U.S. scientific panel pointed that exposure to a type of directed energy is the main culprit. A different medical assessment conducted in 2018 noted that exposure to microwaves is the main cause.
Former President Donald Trump had directly blamed Cuba for initial wave of the syndrome. However, Havana denied this accusation. Now, State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have established an internal task force to investigate the matter. Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act was also passed unanimously in Congress. It will authorize additional medical and financial support to the intelligence officers and diplomats affected by the bill. Bill has also been introduced in the House.
World’s largest and tallest observation wheel, called Ain Dubai, will be opened in the UAE on October 21, 2021.
Private cabins can be customised in order to get all sorts of events like intimate celebrations and cultural festivities to treat VIP guests.
This 250 m high observation wheel at Bluewaters Island was announced in February 2013. Primary design and construction contractors were Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Starneth Engineering. Its construction was started in May 2015.
According to a new report titled “Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2021” released by Asian Development Bank (ADB), COVID-19 pandemic has pushed an estimated 75 million to 80 million people in developing Asia into extreme poverty as compared to what would have happened without COVID-19.
Report highlights that, in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, decision makers are required to harness high-quality and timely data as guided actions in order to ensure that the recovery leaves no one behind, including the poor and vulnerable sections.
Pakistan conducted a successful test flight of Fatah-1 on August 24, 2021.
This was the second test of Fatah-1. Pakistan had conducted test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1 in January 2021.
Pakistani army had conducted a successful test launch of Shaheen 1-A medium-range ballistic missile, in March 2021. It has a range of 900 kilometers. This test flight was conducted with the aim of re-validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system comprising of an advanced navigation system. Pakistan army also launched the Shaheen-3, Ghaznavi, Babur cruise missile in 2021.
It is land-based, surface-to-surface, medium range ballistic missile of Pakistan. It was test fired on March 9, 2015 for the first time by military service. Its development started in secrecy in 2000s to respond to India’s Agni-III. It was tested with a range of 2750 km. This enables the missile to reach all corners of India and Middle East parts of North Africa. It is composed of solid-fuel system. This missile is the longest-range missile that was launched by the military.
India and the Philippines conducted a naval exercise in the South China Sea on August 23, 2021.
This bilateral exercise was conducted with the objective of strengthening bilateral collaboration in maritime domain in order to ensure a stable, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
This military drill is significant considering the fact that, the Philippines government call the eastern parts of South China Sea as West Philippine Sea. On the other hand, China claims sovereignty over all South China Sea as it is a huge source of hydrocarbons.
The marginal sea in Western Pacific Ocean is bounded by the shores of South China, Indochinese Peninsula, Islands of Taiwan, Islands of Philippines, and Borneo, eastern Sumatra and Bangka Belitung Islands. It is a region of huge economic and geostrategic importance. One-third of the world’s maritime shipping passes through the region. It is believed that, huge oil and natural gas reserves lie beneath its seabed.
Under the government’s target of monetising “under-utilized public sector assets”, ‘The Ashok’ 5-star hotel will be leased out to private operators in four years.
ITDC is a PSU under the Tourism Ministry. It runs hotels and restaurants at various places for tourists and also provide transport facilities. Present network of ITDC comprises of:
All the 8 hotel assets of ITDC will be considered for monetisation during financial year 2022 to 2025.
These are the flagship hotel chain under ITDC, having a brand value developed in last 40-50 years. These hotels been the centre stage for all government events that are organised by various ministries and public sector entities.
The labour ministry is set to launch a National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) or e-Sharm portal on August 26, 2021.
This portal will be available in public for open access. Using the platform, workers can self-enrol using their Aadhaar and mobile number. Besides, the common service centres and selected post offices will also help in registration process, where workers can visit and register themselves at no cost.
Work on the portal for unorganised workers was fast-tracked when millions of workers had returned to their hometowns amid nationwide lockdown in April-May 2020 because of covid-19. It had resulted in loss of jobs and livelihood for millions.
As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 90% of the workers in India are in informal sector. It amounts to 419 million of out of 465 million workers.
According to head of United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) of Russia, first of two additional Krivak class stealth frigates, which are being built by Russia, is likely to be delivered to India by 2023.
India and Russia had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in October 2016 for four Krivak or Talwar class stealth frigates. Under this agreement, two frigates were to be procured directly from Russia while two to be built by the Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). Following it, a $1-billion deal was signed for the direct purchase. In November 2018, GSL had also signed a $500 million deal with Rosoboronexport of Russia to procure material, design and specialist assistance in order to locally manufacture the frigates. Following this, contract was signed between Ministry of Defence and The GSL in January 2019.
Indian Navy currently operates six Krivak class frigates that weight about 4,000 tonnes.
Frigate is a type of warship that was built for speed and maneuverability. These could be warships that carry their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or two decks.
Operation Devi Shakti name has been given by India to its operation of evacuating its citizens from war-torn Afghanistan.
India has been carrying out the evacuation missions in coordination with the US and other countries. India has evacuated more than 800 people so far ever since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. About 200 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are still stranded in the war-torn country and have taken shelter at the Karte Parwan gurdwara in Kabul.
The Taliban and its allied militant groups started a widespread offensive on May 1, 2021, after the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Taliban took over the country after capital city of Kabul fell to Taliban resulting into collapse of Afghan government.
It is an unrecognized Islamic state that was first established in September 1996 by the Taliban. Taliban is a Deobandi Islamist militant organization that started its governance of Afghanistan after fall of Kabul in 1996 and stayed in power until 2001. In 2001, it was toppled by United States-led military coalition. The Taliban has again returned to power and re-established the Islamic Emirate in 2021 and has since had de facto control over most of the Afghanistan.
According to real estate consultant Cushman amp, Wakefield, India has overtaken the United States (US) to become second-most attractive manufacturing destination internationally.
Improvement in India’s ranking indicates that manufacturers are showing growing interest in India as a preferred manufacturing hub as compared to other countries, including the US and countries in APAC region.
Focus is shifting towards India because of its operating conditions and cost competitiveness. Furthermore, India’s proven success in meeting outsourcing requirements has helped in improving the ranking year on year.