Daily Current Affairs - 02-06-2021

CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune has launched a new technique called SWASTIIK to disinfect water by using natural oils. It was launched because, water-borne diseases have increased India’s disease burden.

How SWASTIIK is different from existing methods?

Background

This technology was developed in backdrop of National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM) which recently issued an advisory for states and Union territories to monitor and survey water quality and ensure potable water amid rising covid-19 cases.

About SWASTIIK Technology

This method can eliminate harmful bacteria and antibiotic-resistant strains, economically. It integrates Indian traditional knowledge of Ayurveda to disinfect water and offer possible health benefits of natural oils. It uses hydrodynamic cavitation; combines chemistry, biology, & chemical engineering along with natural resources like natural oils & plant extracts to disinfect water. Thus, method has increased the efficiency and reduced cost of water treatment.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued advisories on bonded labourers & migrant workers amid covid-19 cases.

What are those advisories?

  1. Right to mental health;
  2. Identifying, releasing and rehabilitating bonded labourers; and
  3. Safeguarding the rights of informal workers.

How centre and states will comply with advisories?

NHRC has asked to implement these recommendations given in advisories on which centre and state will have to report to NHRC within four weeks.

Why recommendations were made?

NHRC issued advisories after it observed that; covid-19 pandemic and covid-19 induced lockdown have led to “adverse mental health outcomes among vulnerable groups.

Advisory on Right to Mental Health

It focuses on 10 key areas including- mental healthcare, grievance redressal and review board, dissemination of information, awareness, support for special groups, suicide prevention, health insurance, extending outreach of mental health support and media sensitivity in reporting & promoting research.

NHRC on Informal Workers

NHRC observed, because of closure of employment opportunities in urban areas amid lockdowns, informal workers or unorganised sector workers, migrants into towns & cities have severely impacted. All these situations and evidence points towards deep economic crisis of job loss, reduced wages and shrinking of economy & manufacturing sector.

Union Cabinet approved Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Sustainable Urban Development between India and Japan by suspending the existing MoU of 2007 on Urban Development.

How MoC will be implemented?

To implement and strategize programmes on cooperation under MoC, a Joint Working Group (JWG) will be constituted. JWG will meet once in a year in Japan as well as in India, alternately. Cooperation under MoC will continue for a period of 5 years, which can be auto-renewed for 5 years at a time.

Significance of the MoC

It will promote strong, deep and long-term bilateral cooperation with respect to Sustainable Urban Development between India and Japan. It is expected to create employment opportunities in listed areas of sustainable urban development including Urban Planning, affordable housing, rental housing, Smart Cities Development, Urban Flood Management, water management, Sewerage & Waste Water Management etc.

Objective of MoC

It seeks to facilitate and strengthen India-Japan technical cooperation in field of Sustainable urban development and other listed areas which will be mutually identified by both the countries. It will also enable exchange of key learnings and best practices in listed areas.

Union Cabinet has approved “Model Tenancy Act” for circulation to all States and Union Territories for adaptation by enacting fresh legislation or amending existing rental laws as required.

Highlights

What is Model Tenancy Act?

Model Tenancy Act, 2019, a tenancy law in India, was designed to rebuild tenancy market. Creation of the act was first announced in budget speech of 2019 by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It seeks to replace archaic rental laws of India and to solve housing availability deficit. Act will help in achieving the target of “Housing for All by 2022”.

BRICS foreign ministers meeting was hold virtually on June 1, 2021.

Agenda of the meeting

Who hosted the meeting?

BRICS meeting was hosted by India in its capacity as chair of BRICS. It was attended by Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov; Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi; Minister of International Relations of South Africa, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor; and Foreign Minister of Brazil, Carlos Alberto Franco.

Significance of meeting

BRICS foreign ministers, for the first time, have agreed on common goal of “reforming the multilateral system”. They also agreed, such reform should cover all key multilateral institutions, including-

BRICS ministers agreed to bring in new life on discussions regarding reform of UN Security Council.

Key deliverables by India

India put forward four key deliverables including, reform of multilateral system, use of digital and technological solutions to achieve SDGs, counter-terrorism cooperation and enhancing people-to-people cooperation apart from BRICS cooperation on COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada has recommended “mixing and matching” of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.

NACI Guidelines

National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) had issued guidelines for provinces and territories on mixing and matching second doses of Covid-19 vaccines. It has advised Canadians to combine either “AstraZeneca-Oxford, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots” interchangeably for specific situations. NACI recommended it on the basis of early research from UK & Spain. Research highlights, mixing shots of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines was safe and effective in preventing the disease. It recommended, first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine can be followed by shots of Moderna or Pfizer.

Why mixing-matching was recommended?

Canadians who had a first dose of Moderna or Pfizer, they can now take any one of two shots as a second dose. This is so, because both the vaccines were prepared with similar mRNA technology.

National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI)

NACI is an external advisory body which is responsible for providing Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) with independent medical, scientific, and public health advice related to immunization. It comprises of experts from fields like paediatrics, pharmacy, infectious diseases, immunology, epidemiology, nursing, Pharmacoeconomics, social science etc.

United States has ended Migrant Protection Protocols which is also dubbed as “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Remain in Mexico Policy

Joe Biden Administration

Even since Biden took office, he has reversed many restrictive immigration policies by President Donald Trump as they were against US asylum laws.

Mexico–United States border

The international border separating Mexico and United States extends from Pacific Ocean in west to Gulf of Mexico in east. It traverses different terrains, from urban areas to deserts. This border is considered as most frequently crossed border across the world with about 350 million documented crossings each year.

US-Mexico Border Wall

In 2016, former President Donald Trump proposed to build a border wall to control immigration across the border. According to him, border wall would cost $8 to $12 billion. Trump signed Executive Order 13767, in 2017, that directed U.S. government to start wall construction along U.S.–Mexico border using federal funding but construction started in 2019. Barrier along 455 miles was built. However, newly elected U.S. president Joe Biden terminated national emergency and stopped construction of wall in January 2021.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has given approval for global use of covid-19 Vaccine by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Of China.

Highlights

What were the concerns?

Chinese shot was battling concerns about its efficacy because of divergent data. Chinese Shot, called as CoronaVac, has lowest efficacy rate as per the clinical trial report. It showed an efficacy rate of 50.7% in preventing symptomatic covid cases in Brazil.

Effectiveness of CoronaVac

Real world data shows that, it is 94% effective against symptomatic infection, 96% against hospitalization while 98% effective against death. Data also highlights, Infection rate is decreasing in some countries that rolled out Sinovac locally such as in Chile.

CoronaVac

CoronaVac or Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine is an inactivated virus COVID-19 vaccine. It was developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech. Phase III clinical trial for this vaccine was carried in Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines, and Turkey. It does not need to be frozen.

In the move of strengthening its position along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), People Liberation Army (PLA) of China has created an integrated or combined air defence system comprising air force and army for its western theatre command. This wing is involved in operations along LAC.

Combined Air Defence System

This system was put through paces during exercise conducted recently at an unknown location under western theatre command. In the exercise, army elements were jointly training with air force while air force was commanding and controlling it.  About 10 PLA army units under western theatre command have been integrated in reporting chain to share inputs on early warning and exercise participation.

Background

Relation between India and China plunged to an all-time low after a deadly clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020. It led to death of 20 Indian soldiers and several Chinese troops. It was the first fatalities on LAC since 1975.

Ground Situation as LAC

According to Satellite images of May 2021, China has withdrawn its forces from around Pangong Lake and has relocated a large section of troops and equipment to Rutog County, where new military barracks were built since 2019.

Gujarat government is all set to grant Centre of Excellence (CoE) status to seven private universities in state.

Who gave the approval?

In-principal approval was given by Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani, to make their mark globally. University Grants Commission (UGC) encourages higher education institutions to attain excellence in specific areas of academic as well as research work. CoE can an institute of strategic or security-relate importance, notified by state government. Institution of Eminence can also be given CoE tag.

Which Universities have been selected?

Seven Universities include- CEPT University, Nirma University, Pandit Deendayal Energy University, Ahmedabad University, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT), Marwadi University and Charotar University of Science & Technology.

Significance of CoE status

CoE tag to universities will help in bringing quality education and give them an international touch. Tag will also boost research, innovation and establish a culture of creating start- ups.

University Grants Commission (UGC)

UGC is a statutory body established by UGC Act 1956. It works under Ministry of Education to coordinate, determine and maintain standards of higher education. It gives recognition to universities in India, and disburse funds for recognized universities and colleges. It is headquartered New Delhi, along with six regional centres in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Microsoft has launched first ever “Asia Pacific Public Sector Cyber Security Executive Council”. It was launched with the aim of building strong communications channel to address cyber threats and to share best practices among participating countries.

Asia-pacific cybersecurity Council

Cybersecurity Council comprises of policy makers and influencers from countries like Indonesia, Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand. It is supported by cybersecurity professionals. Council was set up with the aim of accelerating public-private partnerships in cybersecurity, and share threat intelligence.

Why this council was set up?

Council was set up to build strong coalition and to strengthen cyber security defense. It was launched in the view that; these countries experience higher-than-average encounter rate of malware and ransomware attacks. They experience 1.6 times higher malware attacks and 1.7 times higher ransomware attacks as compared to other countries.

Function of Council

Council will meet virtually on a quarterly basis so as to continuously exchange information on cyber threats and related cybersecurity solutions. They will learn from Microsoft security certification trainings, hands on lab sessions and dedicated workshops to improve digital skills of workforce. It will in turn help in reducing talent gap in cybersecurity.

New Zealand has become the latest country to sign “space agreement with NASA” with the objective of boosting nascent space industry of New Zealand.

Key Points

Why New Zealand signed the accord?

New Zealand wants to ensure, future space exploration is conducted in a safe, sustainable and transparent manner in accordance with international law. New Zealand is also interested in ensuring that minerals taken from moon or elsewhere in space are used sustainably.

New Zealand Space industry

California-based company Rocket Lab started commercial launches for New Zealand in 2018. Company specializes in putting small satellites into orbit. It made history in 2017 by launching test rocket into space from remote Mahia Peninsula.

Artemis Accords

Artemis accords are an international agreement and American-led effort which seeks to relaunch humans to Moon by 2024. Agreement was signed by governments participating in Artemis programme with the objective of expanding and deepening space exploration. It was drafted under the aegis of NASA. It provides a framework for cooperation in civil exploration and peaceful use of Mars, Moon and other astronomical objects.  The accord was signed in October 13, 2020.

India’s Covid vaccination drive was started in January 2021 and is gaining momentum. About 21 crores doses have been administered till date including first and second doses; in which Gender gap is prevalent. As of May end, 871 women had been vaccinated for every 1000 men.

Gender Gap in India

Sex ratio in India is already skewed. There are 108.18 males per 100 females. Female population accounts for 48.04 percent of total population while male population accounts for 51.96 percent. This gender gap reflects at all levels in India, including in largest vaccination drive.

Gender-related Development Index (GDI)

GDI measures life expectancy, educational attainment and income.  According to it, closer the ratio to 1, smaller is gap between men and women. Human Development Report of 2019 reflects India’s GDI value as 0.892. It ranked India at 129th position out of 189 countries.

Gender Inequality Index (GII)

GII reflects gender-based disadvantage across three dimensions of reproductive health, labour market and empowerment. Countries having unequal distribution of human development experiences high inequality. As per UNDP report 2019, India’s GII is 0.0501 and was ranked at 122.  HDI for females in India is 0.549 while for male is 0.671 which clearly reflects disparity.

First Human case of H10N3 bird flu was reported in eastern province of Jiangsu in China.

Highlights

A 41-year-old man has become first human case of infection with H10N3 strain of bird flu. He was diagnosed of H10N3 avian influenza virus on May 28. It is still not confirmed how he was infected with virus.

What is H10N3 bird flu?

H10N3 is a low pathogenic or less severe strain of virus in poultry. The risk of it transmitting on a large scale is also very low. In about 40 years, only 160 isolates of this virus were reported, in wild birds or waterfowl across Asia and North America. It has not been detected in chickens.

What is Influenza?

It is commonly called as “the flu”. This infectious disease is caused by influenza viruses. Its symptoms include mild to severe fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, coughing, muscle pain and fatigue. Symptoms usually starts 1–4 days after exposure to virus and lasts for 2–8 days. It may also cause pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, encephalitis, meningitis, and worsening of pre-existing health problems like asthma.

Avian influenza or Avian flu or Bird flu

It caused by viruses adapted to birds.  It is similar to swine flu, horse flu, dog flu and human flu. Among three types of influenza viruses namely, A, B, and C; influenza A virus is zoonotic infection which entirely affects birds.