Daily Current Affairs - 13-05-2021

The Government of India recently increased the gap between the two doses of the COVISHIELD Vaccine. The gap was increased from six to eight weeks to twelve to sixteen weeks. This is the second time in three months, the gaps between the doses of COVISHIELD have been widened. In March 2021, the Union Territories and State Governments were asked to increase the gap from twenty-eight days to six to eight weeks.

Why was the gap increased?

The COVID-19 Working Group recommended to increase the gap based on the real-life evidences from the UK. The recommendations were agreed by NEGVAC (National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration). Currently, the gap between the doses are four to six weeks.

The protection against the vaccines increased if the gap between the doses are increased. In Canada the gap between the doses are three to four months.

A Lancet study says that the protection (efficacy) against COVID-19 increased from 55.1% to 81.3% if the gap between the doses was increased from six to eight weeks to twelve to sixteen weeks.

Why two doses?

The immunity to COVID-19 plateaued after the first dose. Thus, the second dose is essential to boost the immunity to higher levels. The COVID-19 recovered people should get booster dose after six months.

The time gap between doses of COVAXIN has not been altered. This is because COVAXIN was completely developed in a different way. It is an inactivated vaccine that contains dead COVID-19 virus. It teaches the immune system how to defend the body against the virus. On the other hand, the COVISHIELD was developed using a vector called Adeno virus.

A private firm Verisk Maplecroft has found that the Asian cities face the greatest risk from environmental issues. This includes natural disasters and air pollution.

Key Findings of the report

Glasgow was ranked as the safest city.

About the report

Around 576 cities in different parts of the world were scored based on the following factors:

Why do Asian cities face more risks than the rest?

The report says that Asia is the most densely populated region in the world. This puts pressure on water sources. Also the air in the region is polluted due to burning of coal and biomass fuels. There are large number of natural hazards that are built into its Geography. This why the risks due to environmental issues are the highest in these cities.

The first BRICS Employment Working Group was held virtually. It was hosted by India. India assumed BRICS Presidency in 2021.

Outcomes of the meet

Social Security Agreement

The members agreed to conduct dialogues and discussions with each other to solve the issue of Social Security Agreement. Upon reaching into conclusions, they will take it forward to signing agreements. The ILO and the ISSA are to provide technical support.

The member countries also agreed to create a multilateral framework for the same.

Formalisation of Labour Market

The countries discussed on how COVID-19 has informalized the labour market.

Women in Labour Market

The counties agreed to promote women in productive and decent work. They also agreed to extend the social security cover to women workers in informal sector. They also discussed on the participation of women in labour force.

What is Social Security Agreement?

It is an agreement signed by a country to regulate the procedure of providing social security for its citizens who are permanently or temporarily residing in another country.

India’s Social Security Agreements

India till date has Social Security Agreements with South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Netherlands, Japan, Hungary, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Australia.

India signed Social Security Agreement with Brazil in 2018.

India has not yet signed SSA with US!

The World Bank recently released its “Migration and Development Brief”. The report said that the remittance flows to the low-income and middle-income countries were 1.9% lower in 2020 as compared to that of 2019. It was 540 billion USD in 2020 and 548 billion USD in 2019.

Key Findings

India and its Neighbourhood

What is Remittance?

It is a sum of money sent from one country to other country. It can be business payments or remittances paid to a family member, friends.

How are remittances important?

The Reserve Bank of India recently announced that the second tranche of open market purchase of Government Securities is to be held on May 20, 2021. This is to be held under G-Sec Acquisition Programme. This second tranche is to be conducted for Rs 35,000 crores.

Background

A detailed announcement

Though RBI had announced about the second Tranche earlier, it has now said that it will purchase seven Government Securities of different maturities. Also, the apex bank announced that there will be not security-wise notified amount.

What is Security-wise Notified amount?

It includes details such as source securities, destination securities, amount of source securities and also the maturing date. These details are usually published by RBI.

E-Kuber

The Government Securities are issued through auctions conducted by the apex bank. These auctions are conducted on the electronic platform called E-Kuber.

Why should one invest in Government Securities?

This is because holding cash in hand does not give any returns. On the other hand, the investment in gold and Government securities increases the returns over the period of time.

Different types of Auctions of Government Securities

China recently launched Changsei 2C rocket from the Xichang satellite launch centre. It is a Yaogan satellite. This satellite has joined the previous seven groups in orbit that were launched after 2017. The satellite is to be used for electromagnetic environmental surveys and other related technical tests.

About the launch

Yaogan satellites

It is a series of Chinese Reconnaissance satellites. Reconnaissance satellite is a spy satellite deployed for military or intelligence applications. However, Chinese claim that Yaogan satellites are launched for land survey, crop yield assessment, scientific experiment and disaster monitoring.

Recent Developments

Several countries raised concerns against this as the track of the falling rocket was not tracked properly. China was not transparent in informing the world about its falling rocket. The rocket fell in the Indian Ocean near Maldives. It was one of the heaviest satellites lanunched in the world.

Tiangong Programme

It is a Chinese programme that aims to create modular space station. Tiangong-1 was the first space laboratory launched by the Chinese in 2011. Later Tiangong-2 was launched in 2016.

The Israeli Armed forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque recently. The fight in the country has been increasing since mid-April. The Hamas in the Gaza Strip attacked Israel for its actions. They were engaged in Air strikes. During the air strikes, Israel used IRON DOMES to defend itself from the missiles launched from Gaza. It was as if some kind of shield protecting the city from missiles. It was spoken about widely all over the world.

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Jews

The Jews worship the Temple Mount because it was the site where two Ancient Temples stood. The first ancient temple was built by King Solomon. It was destroyed by the Babylonians. The second temple was constructed before 600 years and was destroyed by the Romans.

In Hebrew it is called Har Habayit.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has classified the mosque as the World Heritage Site. This means that the mosque is of international importance and deserves special protection.

Control of the Mosque

The mosque is currently controlled by an Islamic trust called Waqf. The Waqf trust is currently funded and controlled by Jordan. So, it is ultimately Jordan controlling the Mosque!

The Waqf also controls the Dome of the Rock.

Jews and Christians are not allowed to pray on the grounds. Only Muslims can pray on the ground. Jews can pray just below the sacred plateau at the Western Wall. It is the remnants of the wall that once surrounded Temple Mount.

The State Government of Maharashtra has recently launched the “Maharashtra Mission Oxygen”. Under the mission, the daily production of the state is to be increased to 3,000 tonnes. The State Government has allocated Rs 200 crores to the mission. It will provide special incentives to the private players who are willing to being oxygen generation units.

What is the plan?

Current Scenario

There are six major players in the state such as Inox Air Products, Linde India, Praxair, Air Liquid India Holdings, JSW Steel and Taiyo Nippon Sanso India. They produce most of the current day oxygen requirement which is 1,295 metric tonnes. The actual demand of oxygen in Maharashtra is 1,800 metric tonnes per day. However, it is predicted that the demand is to increase to 2,300 metric tonnes as the COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing in the state.

The United Kingdom recently unveiled an Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

Key Features of the Plan

About the Plan

Ivory Act

The UK is to implement Ivory Act in 2021 to ban the trade on elephant ivory.

Other key features of the plan

Vineyard Wind Project is the first major Offshore wind farm that is to power 400,000 homes. The project aims to install 84 turbines in the Atlantic Ocean. It is to be set up 12 Nautical miles off the coast of Matha’s Vineyard.

About the Project

Future Target

What is the plan?

Recent Developments

The Pacific Football Fish was recently washed ashore on a California coast. It is usually found in deep sea. Black in colour, it is usually addressed to as “Monster looking fish”. It is very rare to find the fish near the coast or washed away in coastal areas as they live in deep seas.

About Pacific Football Fish

Bioluminescence

It is the production and emission of light by a living organism. It occurs in vertebrates, invertebrates, bioluminescent bacteria and terrestrial anthropod.

Usually, this bioluminescence involves a light emitting molecule called luciferin and an enzyme called luciferase. The Enzyme catalyses oxidation of luciferin.

IUCN

It is listed under Least Concern in IUCN list of threatened species.

Why is the fish called a monster?

Males latch onto the females with their teeth and become “sexual parasites”. Eventually they coalesce (come together to form one mass or whole). This happens with the female till nothing is left of their form except tested for reproduction.

The scientists have recently found out a new way to block the attachment of HPIV (Human Para Influenza Viruses).

HPIV

The HPIV is the leading cause of death in childhood respiratory infections. More than 30% to 40% of children die due to respiratory illness.

The HPIV latches on to the cells and injects genetic materials into the cells. This is done so that the genetic material injected starts making new viruses. The scientists have now found a way to block this entry. This method is highly efficient in blocking HPIV-3.

How is HPIV blocked?

The virus uses a specialised fusion proteins that resembles three sided corkscrew to enter human cells. Earlier cholesterol and beta amino acids were found to block the HPIV. However, they were not efficient. The scientists have now created a new peptide combining the previously found cholesterol and beta amino acids.

Gellman lab discovered that modified beta amino acids containing peptides can block the viruses.

Moscona Protto lab earlier hooked the peptide to a molecule of cholesterol. This created a greasy cell membrane that blocked the virus.

When the above two methods were combined, the anti-viral efficacy tripled.

Peptides

Peptides are short chain of amino acids. They are connected with one another in a sequence of peptide bonds. They are distinguished from proteins by shorter length. Peptides help human body to fight against microbes.

About HPIV

It Is a single stranded RNA virus. The different strains of HPIV are as follows:

Croup is the swelling inside trachea. It interferes with normal breathing.

Sachin Waze, a police officer was dismissed from service by the Mumbai Police Commissioner under Article 311 (2) (b).

What is Ambani Terror Scare case?

On February 25, 2021, twenty Gelatin sticks were found in a vehicle parked outside the residence of Mukesh Ambani residence, Antilia. He was provided Z-plus security cover, the highest protection cover GoI provides to individuals facing threats. Sachin Vaze was the first investigating officer in the Ambani Terror Scare case.

About Sachin Waze

He is an encounter specialist. He is involved with deaths of 63 alleged criminals. He was suspended for 17 years after his arrest in the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus. He was later granted bail and was reinstated in June 2020.

He led the police team in the arrest of Republic TV Chief Arnab Goswami.

What is Article 311?

It speaks about the removal or reduction in rank of person employed under Government of India in civil capacities. It acts as a safeguard for civil servants. It gives them chances to respond to charges filed against them.

Article 311 (1)

The article says that a person who is a member of civil service of the GoI (Union or state) shall only be removed by the authority who appointed him or her.

Article 311 (2)

He or she should be informed about the charges filed against him. He should be given opportunity to explain his or her side of argument.

When is inquiry prescribed under Article 311 (2) not required?

It is not applicable when

Recently, Israel and Palestine engaged in air strikes. It all began with Israeli Police installing a barricade at the Damascus Gate. Later the tensions escalated due to the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli police.

What is Iron Dome?

Birth of Iron Dome

In 2006, during the Israeli-Lebanon war, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets in to Israel. Following this, Israel announced that the Rafael Advance System run by the Government of Israel will develop an air defence system to protect its people and cities. Thus Iron Dome was developed by Israel.

About Iron Dome

Working of Iron Dome

When the interceptor sensor of the iron dome senses an incoming rocket, it detonates its own rocket and sends out fragments. If the timing is right, then the fragments of the detonated rocket will hit the rocket warhead. However, the interceptor approaches the rocket is critical. It intercepts missiles in all directions. That is, Front Approach, Rear Approach and Side Approach.

It has three main systems. All the three systems act together to provide a shied over a defined area. The three systems are as follows:

It establishes a working relationship between interceptor missile and radar.