Daily Current Affairs - 03-05-2021

The World Health Organisation recently listed mRNA vaccine of Moderna for Emergency Use. This makes it the fifth vaccine to receive emergency use validation from WHO.

Why is Emergency Use Approval important?

The Emergency Use Listing of vaccines of the WHO assesses the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It is a prerequisite for COVAX facility vaccine supply.

The vaccines that are provided with Emergency Use Approval are reviewed by SAGE. SAGE is Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation. The Moderna vaccine was recommended by SAGE in January 2021. The USFDA (United State Food and Drug Administration) cleared the vaccine for Emergency Use in December 2020. The European Medicines Agencies granted marketing authorisation for the vaccine throughout European Union in January 2021. Japan is to approve the Emergency use of the vaccine in May 2021.

Current Scenario in India

The Government of India recently (on April 13, 2021) issued an order according to which the COVID-19 vaccines approved elsewhere in the world will be fast tracked in India. This is applicable mainly to those approved by USFDA, Japan’s Medical and Devices Agency and UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The first hundred recipients of the fast tracked COVID-19 vaccines will be monitored for side effects for seven days before they are opened up for public.

Moderna Vaccine

The Government of India recently appointed T Rabi Shankar as the fourth Deputy Governor.

About T Rabi Shankar

Structure

Logo of RBI

The official emblem of RBI has a palm tree and a tiger. It was derived from the original seal of East India Company. The seal of the East India company had a lion and a palm tree.

Monetary Policy Committee

The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lost in Nandigram. She lost the seat to her former protégé-turned-BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari by a margin of 1956 votes. Protégé is a person supported by a more experienced person. However, she can still take over as the Chief Minister of the State. This is permitted under Article 164 (4).

Article 164

The Article 164 lists the following:

Article 164 (1): The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor of the state.

Article 164 (2): The Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the state.

Article 164 (3): The Governor administers the oaths of the minister.

Article 164 (4): A Minister who is a not a member of the Legislative Assembly shall cease to be a minister at the end of six months.

Article 75

As that of the provisions provided for the State Legislature under Article 164, Article 75 provides the provisions for the Central Legislature.

Article 75 (1): PM and other ministers shall be appointed by the President.

Article 75 (2): Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.

Article 75 (3): The Ministers are collectively responsible to Lok Sabha

Article 75 (4): The President administers oaths to the ministers

Article 75 (5): A member who is not a member of both the houses for six months will cease to be a member of either of the house.

Chief Minister and Prime Minister

According to Article 164 (4) and Article 75 (5), the CM and PM shall hold their offices even if they are not members of their respective houses. By this law, Mamta is to be appointed as the Chief Minister of West Bengal even if she has lost the election. However, she has to become the member of the West Bengal State Legislature within six months.

On May 2, 2021, the votes of the recently held State Assembly Elections for Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal were counted. The Election Commission of India is yet to announce the results.

Election results

The following results were the outcomes of the counting:

Assam

The BJP led alliance in the state was called the “Mitrajot” (Alliance of friends) and the Congress led alliance is called “Mahajot” (Grand Alliance).

The Mitrajot was formed by BJP, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and Gana Suraksha Party (GSP).

The Mahajot was formed by Congress, Muslim backed AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front), BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council), Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).

Tamil Nadu

West Bengal

Kerala

The Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is leading. It has won 99 seats. The Chief Minster is likely to form the Government in state for the second time.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade recently notified that the import of oxygen concentrators shall be allowed for personal use. The Government of India has revised the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-2020 to permit the import.

About Oxygen Import

The new revision says that the imports of goods as “gifts’ is allowed through post or courier where customs clearance is sought except for medicines, oxygen concentrators and lifesaving drugs.

Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20

MEIS

The five schemes that were merged to form MEIS were Market Linked Focus Product Scheme, Focus Product Scheme, Focus Market Scheme, Agriculture Infrastructure Incentive Scrip and VKGUY.

The Ingenuity Helicopter of Mars 2020 project of NASA recently performed its fourth of its five planned flights successfully. With this, it has completed its month-long technology demonstration. Now, it is to begin its new phase. This new phase is called operation demonstration phase. So far it was in its technology demonstration phase.

What is the New Mission of Ingenuity?

Under this new phase, the Ingenuity helicopter is to explore how aerial scouting will benefit future explorations of Mars. Aerial Scouting is gathering information. This is to begin after two flights of the helicopter.

NASA had initially planned to conduct only five flights. This operation demonstration phase was planned after Ingenuity completed its flights successfully.

Under this phase, Ingenuity will support the Perseverance rover as it begins its flight. It will make aerial observations and help Perseverance rover in its mobility on the Martian surface.

Implications

About the fourth Flight

The fourth flight of Ingenuity helicopter was postponed to April 30, 2021 due to a software glitch. It was earlier planned to the be held on April 25, 2021. However, the fourth flight has now been completed successfully. In its fourth flight Ingenuity climbed five metres and crossed 84 metres of distance. During its flight, Ingenuity captured more images than its previous flights. The issue was around the watchdog timer. Watchdog timers are used to detect and recover from computer malfunctions.

Recent Developments of Ingenuity Mission

The United States Department recently approved the sale of P-81 Patrol aircraft to India.

About P-8I

India-US Defence Deals

India and US have signed five major defence deals. They are as follows:

GSOMIA

GSOMIA is General Security of Military Information Agreement. It was signed in 2002. The agreement was signed to facilitate sharing military intelligence between India and the US.

LEMOA

LEMOA is Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement. It was signed in 2016. According to the agreement, the countries can use each other’s military bases mainly to carry out repairs and resupplies.

COMCASA

COMCASA is Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement. Under the agreement, the countries share information during training exercise and operations.

BECA

BECA is Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. It was signed in 2020. According to the agreement, the countries can share geospatial information.

123 Agreement

Out of all the defence agreements signed between the countries, this agreement is considered as the most important. The agreement is also called 123 Agreement. Under the agreement, India agreed to place all its civilian nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

India-US Militay Exercises

Yudh Abhyas: Started in 2002

Tiger Triump

It is the major military exercise carried out by India with the US. All the three forces namely Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Indian Navy participate in the exercise.

Vajra Prahar

It is an exercise held between the Special Forces of US and India.

The Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards was recently presented.  They are also referred to as “Dadasaheb Phalke Awards”. These awards were introduced by Government of India in 1969.

2021 Awards

The late actor Sushant Singh Rajput won the “Critics Best Actor”. Actor Rajni Kanth is also being conferred with the award this year. He had already received Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. He has spent more than forty five years in the film industry.

Dadasaheb Phalke

Dadasaheb Awards

It was presented for the first time in 1969. The first recipient of the award was actress Devika Rani. It carries a prize money of ten lakh rupees and a Golden Lotus.

The award is often confused with other awards presented in his name such as Dadasaheb Phalke Film Foundation awards, Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Awards. However, the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards are the only awards presented by the Indian Government to the achievers in the film industry. These awards are presented by the Directorate of Film Festivals that operates under Information and Broadcasting Ministry. The Directorate should make sufficient rules to avoid the use of the legend’s name to prevent replications.

The Indian Navy recently launched Operation Samudra Setu II. The operation will aid in fulfilling oxygen requirements of the country.

About the operation

These seven ships that are currently deployed in Operation Samudra Setu II are said to be combat ready.

Operation Samudra Setu I

Operation Samudra Setu I was launched in May 2020. It was launched to repatriate Indian citizens from abroad during COVID-19. It successfully brought back 3,992 Indians to home safely.

Similar Evacuation programmes were undertaken by the Indian Navy in 2006 and 2015. In 2016, Operation Sukoon was launched to bring back Indians from Beirut. In 2015, Operation Rahat was launched to bring back Indians from Yemen.

Background

India has enough supplies of oxygen. The only challenge India is currently facing is transport of oxygen.

The Olive Ridley Turtles in 2021 are staying away from the Rushikulya river. Millions of Olive Ridley turtle nest near the mouth of Rushikulya river. The nesting time of Olive Ridley turtles is between January and May. This year, they are  yet to begin their nesting. In 2020, they began nesting in March.

What is the issue?

Though some of the scientists say that this delay of nesting is normal, the conservationists are worried. This is because, the atmospheric temperature is to reach its peak in May and the sand becomes very hot. It is likely that mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles might skip this year.

The nesting of the turtles has been skipped earlier in 2002, 2007, 2016 and 2019.

Olive Ridley Nests in India

In the Indian Ocean, majority of these turtles nest near the Gahirmatha of Odisha. The coast of Odisha is one of the largest mass nesting sites of the turtles. The Gahirmatha beach is now part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife sanctuary.

Other Nesting sites of Olive Ridley turtles

The other nesting sites of the turtles are coasts of Mexico, Costa Rica, Pacific Panama.

Protection

They have been categorised as “Vulnerable” under the IUCN Red List. The CITES has included them under Appendix I. The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 has included them under Schedule I.

Migration

These turtles migrate thousands of kilometres between feeding and mating period.

Rushikulya River

It is one of the major rivers of Odisha. It originates from Eastern Ghats and drains into Bay of Bengal.

The Ethiopian Government has recently added the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and OLF-Shene to its terror list. In 2020, Ethiopia launched a mass military operation against Tigray People Liberation Front.

Tigray People’s Liberation Front

It is a political party. It was founded in 1975 in Ethiopia. Also, TLPF is an armed ethnic nationalist insurgent group. This conflict between the State Government of Tigray and the Ethiopian Government is going on for thirty years now. These conflicts have huge impact on Horn of Africa.

What is the Tigray Crisis?

Ethiopia has had federal system since 1994. Under this system, different ethnic groups control the ten different regions in the country. Accordingly, TPLF controls Tigray.

In 1991, the military regime was ousted from power. Following this, a four-party coalition began to govern Ethiopia. This coalition is called “The Prosperity Party”.

Abiy Ahmed Ali was appointed as Prime Minister of Ethiopia under the coalition party Government. The liberalisation of politics eventually removed several key leader in Tigrayan Government accusing them of corruption. Abiy also ended the long-standing territory dispute with Eritrea. This earned him Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

According to the Tigrayan leaders, these reforms were seen as an attempt to centralise power. According to them, this will eventually destroy the federal system in the country.

In 2020, the feud bursted out in the open air as the Tigray leaders disagreed to abide by the Central Government order to postpone the regional elections due to COVID-19. They conducted the elections as per the due date instead of postponing it. Following this, the Central Government stopped its funds to the Tigrayan administration. In response, the Tigrayan Administration labelled it as “Declaration of war”.

There have been deadly fires in the hospital buildings of India. This includes hospitals treating COVID-19 as well. The recent fires in hospital buildings of Virar region of Mumbai, Bharuch in Gujarat and in Mumbra near Thane has brought the spotlight to the Public Building and Fire Safety rules.

Root Cause of the problems

The public building and fire safety rules are not abided during the construction of buildings. According to National Crime Records Bureau more than 330 people died in commercial fires in 2019.

Electrical faults have been identified as the main reason behind recent fires in the hospitals. The State Governments fail to implement building safety laws that make installation of modern technologies mandatory.

National Building Code of India

Recent measures

The World Health Organisation recently listed mRNA vaccine of Moderna for Emergency Use. This makes it the fifth vaccine to receive emergency use validation from WHO.

Why is Emergency Use Approval important?

The Emergency Use Listing of vaccines of the WHO assesses the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It is a prerequisite for COVAX facility vaccine supply.

The vaccines that are provided with Emergency Use Approval are reviewed by SAGE. SAGE is Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation. The Moderna vaccine was recommended by SAGE in January 2021. The USFDA (United State Food and Drug Administration) cleared the vaccine for Emergency Use in December 2020. The European Medicines Agencies granted marketing authorisation for the vaccine throughout European Union in January 2021. Japan is to approve the Emergency use of the vaccine in May 2021.

Current Scenario in India

The Government of India recently (on April 13, 2021) issued an order according to which the COVID-19 vaccines approved elsewhere in the world will be fast tracked in India. This is applicable mainly to those approved by USFDA, Japan’s Medical and Devices Agency and UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The first hundred recipients of the fast tracked COVID-19 vaccines will be monitored for side effects for seven days before they are opened up for public.

Moderna Vaccine

A recent study conducted by the American Geophysical Union has found that the melting glaciers have been increasing the shift of earth axis.

What is Earth Axis Shift?

The rotational axis of the earth is the axis around which it rotates as it revolves around the sun. The axis virtually is a line connecting the north and south poles of the earth. The location of these poles is not fixed as they tend to shift based on several factors. In the last 20 million years, the patterns of the pole has changed (or reversed) in every 200,000 years to 300,000 years.

The pole shifting has resulted in the migration of north pole towards Russia. This is also referred to as “Polar Wander”.

Movement of the Magnetic poles

The magnetic pole was in the Canadian Arctic in the end of twentieth century. It then moved ten degrees moving towards the true north pole. In 2001, the movement began to accelerate. In 2019, it had crossed the International Date Line. This is the fastest movement of the poles in human history.

Explanation by the New Study

The President of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi declared a “State of Siege” due to the increasing violence in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. The violence killed more than hundred people and displaced more than 1.5 million.

What is the issue?

A Ugandan Insurgent faction called Allied Democratic Forces is active in Congo since 1990s.These forces are being held responsible for the recent violence.

About Allied Democratic Forces

It is a rebel group operating in Congo and Uganda. It was established in 1995. It is one of the least understood extremist group in Congo. Their ideological inclination ranges from ethno-nationalism, Islamic extremism, secular nationalism and secessionism.

According to the United Nations, these forces have killed more than 850 people in 2020 since the army began operations against them.

The violence has displaced 1.6 million population and more than 2.8 million people are in need of emergency assistance.

State of Siege

It a situation where a Government puts restrictions on movement of people into or out of the country. Under this, the police could arrest suspects without warrants or charges.

Democratic Republic of Congo resources

The country is the wealthiest country in the world. The untapped resource wealth of Congo has been estimated as 24 trillion USD. It includes the world largest reserves of Coltan. Coltan is a mineral that is composed of tantalite and columbite. Coltan is refined to get Tantalum.

Rwanda is the biggest Tantalum producer. The other top producers of Tantalum are Nigeria, Brazil and China.

MONUSCO

MONUSCO is the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. India was the single largest contributor to the force in 2010. However, in 2011, India announced that it is withdrawing its forces.

The United States Trade Representative recently released the Special Report 301. According to the report, India has been put on the “Priority Watch List” along with eight other countries. Another twenty-three countries were also put on “Watch List”.

About 301 Report

The report is released annually by the United States Trade Representative. It is published under Section 301 of Trade Act of 1974 and hence the name. It is being published since 1989. The report basically lists the countries that do not provide sufficient IP rights to American companies.

What does the report say about India?

According to the report, India has been inconsistent in the progress of IP protection. Though the enforcement of IP has gradually improved, India lacks in providing benefits for innovators.

The patent issues are of great concern in India. The Indian Patent Law lacks patent validity and holds narrow patentability criteria. This burdens companies in different sectors. It leads to patent revocations. Revocation is official cancellation.

Patent applicants are facing issues with time consuming pre and post grant procedures. They face difficulties of long waiting periods to receive patent approval.

Stakeholders of India continue to express concerns over vagueness in the interpretation of Indian Patents Act.

Report about China

Lag B’Omer is an annual Jewish festival. It is celebrated in the Hebrew month of Iyar. The festival is celebrated on the thirtieth day of the Omer.

Lag B’Omer

Omer is the forty-nine days of time period between Passover and Shauvot. The Lag B’Omer day is special for the Jews because, in the forty-nine period of Omer, celebrations are allowed only on Lag B’Omer. The Jews schedule weddings on Lag B’Omer. The young boys who have reached the age of three are brought here (to Meron) for their first haircut.

The Lag B’Omer celebrations are associated with bonfires.

What are the two events commemorated by Lag B’Omer?

Lag B’Omer commemorates two historic events of the Jewish history. They are the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and also the death anniversary of 24,000 students of Akiva Ben Yosef. The students died of plague. Akiva Ben Yosef is another Rabbi who lived in the same period as that of Shimon Bar. It was Yochai who instructed to commemorate the death anniversary of 24,000 students of Yosef during Lag B’omer.

Rabbi

Rabbi is a Jewish teacher or scholar. He mainly teaches Jewish law. They are generally referred to Mishnaic sage.

Mishnah

Mishnah is the written collection of Jewish oral traditions. It is also called Oral Torah. Mishnah was one of the earliest works of Jewish. It was written in third century.