Daily Current Affairs - 15-05-2021

On May 15, 2021, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered an audit of ventilators provided by the Central Government to the State Government and the Union Territories.

Why the audit?

It has come to the notice of the PM that several ventilators issued to the States are lying in the storage unutilized. Thus, an audit is being launched to check the installation and operation of the ventilators. The Prime Minister has also suggested that proper training should be provided to the health workers in operating the ventilators.

What is the issue?

The Punjab Government has been complaining that out of 320 ventilators received under the PM CARES Fund, 237 are defective.

The Maharashtra Congress Spokesperson was claiming that there is a big scam in the ventilator provided under PM-CARES Fund.

There have been several media reports that the ventilators have technical glitches.

There are accusations that the technical complaints after installation are not been resolved due to poor after-sales support by the manufacturers.

There are reports that the bacteria fillers, flow sensors and HME filters are not being changed by the hospital authorities as per the prescribed norms.

Lack of knowledge

The user manual, detailed instructions and guidelines have been issued along with the ventilator. However, the hospital workers are not able to follow the usage instructions.

Help from Health Ministry

The Health Ministry had created state-wise WhatsApp groups with the concerned nodal officers. Through this group the ministry is passing information about the usage and is answering the queries being raised. Still the issue remains unsorted.

Around eighteen Asian elephants died in Nagaon district of Assam recently. It is a proposed reserve forest. Prior to this, such mass death of elephants occurred in 2001. Around 21 elephants were poisoned to death in 2001 in the adjoining tiger reserves of Pakke and Nameri across Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

What happened?

Conclusion

It has now been concluded that the elephants died of lightning. A burnt tree was found split down in the middle indicating that the region was stuck by lightning. The elephants had charred bellies, burnt ears and burn marks on the scapular region.

How many elephants died?

Around ten females and eight females died in the incident. They were all found on the hilltop within a radius of hundred to 150 metres.

Why did this happen?

The Barmuni hill, where the lightning stuck and killed the elephants do not have thick vegetation. It is barren. There is no single tall tree to take the lightning.

How did the lightning kill the elephants?

The lightning strikes in different ways. Apart from direct strike, there are other ways by which the lightning strikes the ground. It can be through a side flash, ground current. In this case, the lightning current passed through the ground surface and killed even those who were outside the area.

In a side flash, the current bounces off bigger object.

Every year, the International Family Day is celebrated on May 15. It is also called the World Family Day. This year, the day is celebrated under the following theme

History

The World Family Day was introduced in the United Nations in 1993. This was done to emphasis the role of the families in shaping the individuals.

Significance

There is a need to explain about the importance of families to the global citizens in the current scenario. The current scenario is as follows:

These are issues related to families. The International Day of Families help to address these issues and increase the knowledge of demographic, social and economic processes affecting families.

International Year of Families

The United Nations is to celebrate International Year of Families in 2024.

Family Homelessness

It is caused by the lack of affordable housing, decreasing government supports, changing demographics, fractured social supports, domestic violence.

In the US, there are about 580 homeless people as of 2020.

Family Homelessness in India

The Black Fungus disease has been declared as notified disease in Haryana. This means that the Government Authorities have to be informed about each case of Black Fungus Disease.

What happens when a disease is put under “Notified” Category?

What is a notified disease?

Notified diseases are also called Notifiable diseases. It is any disease whose occurrence has to be reported to the Government by law.

WHO on Notifiable Diseases

The WHO International Health Regulations, 1969 has made disease reporting mandatory. This will help WHO in its global surveillance and advisory role. Currently the list is limited only to three main disease namely yellow fever, cholera and plague. And of course COVID-19.

OIE on Notified diseases

The OIE, World Organisation for Animal Health monitors diseases of animals at global level. It holds a list of notifiable diseases.

Can Central Government declare notified disease?

No. As Health is a State subject, only the State Governments have powers to declare notified diseases. However, the Central Government maintains a list of Notified diseases.

List of Notified Diseases in India

AIDS, Hepatitis B, Dengue Fever, Malaria, Whooping cough, Anaemia, Measles, Rabies, Vitamin A deficiency, typhoid, scarlet fever, polio, cerebro spinal fever, leprosy, hepatitis, Cholera, Iodine deficiency, malnutrition, tuberculosis, small pox, plague, measles, influenza, diphtheria, chicken pox.

Every year the World Agri-Tourism Day is celebrated on May 16. This year, on the fourteenth World Agri-Tourism Day, Government of Maharashtra, Agri-Tourism Development Corporation is to organise International Conference on Agri-Tourism.  In 2021, the day is to be celebrated under the following theme

Agri Tourism Development Corporation

What is Agri-Tourism?

In Agri-Tourism the urban tourists stay in farmers home. During their stay they engage in farming activities, tractor ride, bullock cart ride. Also, they enjoy folk songs and dances. They buy fresh farm produce.

In return, the farmers greet the tourists, provide accommodation and entertain them during their stay. This acts as an additional income for the farmers. Also, it employs the local youths as tourist guides. This way the programme provides employment opportunities as well.

Survey

The Agriculture Tourism Development Corporation survey says that around 0.56 million tourists visited the Agri-Tourism Centres. This increased to 0.61 million in 2019 and 0.78 million in 2020.

About the conference

This year, National and international stakeholders from South Africa, Scotland and Philippines are to participate in the conference. They are to discuss on agri-tourism, sustainable opportunities for women, etc.

Background

The Punjab Government recently announced that it is to join COVAX facility in order to increase its COVID-19 supplies.

Why is Punjab joining COVAX facility?

There is a huge vaccine shortage in India. This is slowing the vaccination efforts of the country. Thus the State Government of Punjab is planning to join COVAX facility.

What is the issue in Punjab joining COVAX facility?

The COVAX facility has so far been operating only at the level of nations. The facility works to prevent vaccine nationalism. It aims to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines reach both low-income level and high-income level countries. It is not even clear if a State can join the facility.

The bigger view of the problem

Why did the problem arise?

Have any states received vaccines from COVAX?

So far, more than 59 million vaccine doses have been provided to 122 countries. However, there was no sub-national entity so far.

The researchers in the University of Oxford recently launched “Com-COV Study “. The study was launched to investigate alternate doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine. The researchers have concluded that mixing the administration of these doses in a more frequent mild to moderate reactions will increase the reactogenicity of the vaccine.

What are the researchers saying?

If the doses of Pfizer-Biotech and Oxford-AstraZeneca are administered at a four-week interval, one after the other, the reactogenicity of the vaccine increases.

What is Reactogenicity?

Reactogenicity of the vaccines refer to the property of the vaccine to produce expected adverse reactions. This may be fever, redness or soreness or swelling at the site of the jab.

Inference from the study

Why did vaccine mixing come up?

The mixed vaccine is called heterologous boost.

The mice population in Australia has increased exponentially. The mice are causing extensive damages to the cultivated crop and stored food grains. This is being referred to as Mice Rain. Also, plague in the country has increased.

Why is the situation called “Mice Rain”?

In some places, the mice are pouring out like a rain as the farmers are cleaning their silos. They  are running out every where. Recently, a video released in the social media showed mice pouring out of a machine while cleaning. Thus, the name “Mice Rain” came into practice. This huge population increase of mice is causing severe damages to the stored food grains.

What is happening?

Reasons for Mice Rain

According to the scientists, the rodents are the most successful mammals in the planet after humans. A pair of breeding mice can give birth to new litter every twenty days.

Is the Plague due to Mice Rain?

Plague is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by rod shaped bacteria called Yersinia pestis. It is found in animals such as rodents. As their population is increasing, the spread of the disease is also increasing. This means, Yes, the plague is increasing due to Mice rain.

When did the plague begin?

It began in mid March in the eastern Australian states. The Government of New South Wales recently extended a support package of 50 million USD to farmers to deal with the mouse plague affecting the farmers, residents. The Government has also authorised the outlawed poison called Bromadiolone. All these measures are being done to control the “Mice Rain” in the country.

On May 14, 2021, the Chinese Spacecraft Tianwen 1 landed on Mars successfully. It was launched in July 2020 on a Long March 5 rocket.

About the landing

Utopia Planitia of Mars

What is the Seven Minutes Terror faced by the landers?

The EDL phase, called the Entry Descent Landing is called the “Seven Minutes Terror” phase. The phase happens faster than the time taken by the radio signals to reach the Earth from Mars. This means that the spacecraft is on its own during this phase and is thus called the “”seven minutes of terror. The phase begins as the lander enters the Martian atmosphere and thus the name of the phase is prefixed with ‘Entry’.

The EDL phase ends when the rocket powered sky crane lowers the lander safely to the martian surface. During this seven minutes several crucial things occur.

Zhurong rover

It is to investigate surface soil characteristics and potential water ice distribution.

The Government of India recently filed a review petition in the Supreme Court over its judgement on Maratha reservation in the State of Maharashtra. The Supreme Court had pronounced that the Maratha reservation under the Maharashtra law breaches the 50% ceiling of reservation. Thus, the apex court struck down the Maharashtra law.

What is the Central Government saying?

According to Government of India, only the Union Government has the power under the 102nd Constitutional Amendment to identify and list the socially and economically backward classes.

What is the State Government saying?

The population of the backward classes in Maharashtra constitutes to 85% of the state’s population. However, the reservation limit is only 50%. Thus, the socially and economically backward communities should be provided reservation.

102nd Constitutional Amendment

The amendment inserted Article 338B and Article 342A in the Constitution.

Article 338B: The amendment provided constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.

Article 342A: It gives the President powers to notify backward classes.

Supreme Court Judgement

After the amendment was passed, several state governments filed cases in the Supreme Court. This was because, the State Government had lost its power to identify the backward classes under the amendment.

To this the Supreme Court interpreted the amendment in its verdict as follows:

What is the issue?

The recent striking of Maharashtra law contradicts the SC verdict pronounced earlier.