In a bid to fulfil the international calls for vaccine solidarity, American pharmaceutical company, Pfizer and German company, BioNTech have pledged to provide 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to poor countries in middle-income and low-income countries in next 18 months. This announcement was made at the global health summit hosted by Italy.
Both the companies developed first vaccine which was authorised for use in United States and Europe. Pfizer announced that, it is expecting to provide a billion of doses in 2021 and another billion in 2022. However, it was not clear whether the companies would deliver vaccines through COVAX program or not.
It is an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation established in New York City. It has been named after its co-founder, Charles Pfizer. Company develops and produces medicines and vaccines for immunology, cardiology, oncology, neurology and endocrinology. It is ranked at 64th position on Fortune 500 and at 49th place on Forbes Global 2000.
It is a German biotechnology company based in Mainz. It develops and manufactures active immunotherapies for patient-specific approaches. It also develops pharmaceutical candidates on the basis of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) for use as vaccines against infectious diseases & as protein replacement therapies for rare diseases.
The vaccine is sold under brand name Comirnaty. It is an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. It is authorized for use on people over 12 years to protect against SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19.
Governor of Gujarat, Acharya Devvrat, has given his assent to Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021 along with 7 other bills. These bills were passed in March 2021 during the budget session of the state assembly.
This bill is being also called as “anti-love jihad” Bill. It provides for punishment of 3-10 years in jail for forcible and fraudulent religious conversions by marrying the person. It amends the 2003 Act.
This bill was passed considering the fact that, there are increasing instances of religious conversions promising a better lifestyles, divine blessings and impersonation. There is an increasing trend where women are lured to marriage for religious conversions.
Love Jihad is also known as Romeo Jihad. It is a conspiracy theory which was developed by proponents of Hindutva. The theory is used to invoke prejudice against Muslims. The theory maintains that, Muslim men target Hindu women for conversion to Islam by means of feigning love and marriage.
Earlier, Uttar Pradesh has enacted the “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020” which is unofficially called as ‘love jihad law’. This law makes conversion a non-bailable offence with up to 10 years of jail time if it is undertaken unlawfully or forcefully.
The Global G20 Health Summit was co-hosted by European Commission along with Italy as part of its G20 presidency amid the surge and spread of the coronavirus cases.
The summit adopted the agenda to overcome Covid-19 pandemic. It also decided to develop and endorse a Rome Declaration of principles.
Summit noted, risk of more transmissible variants has increased with nine people losing their lives to Covid-19 per minute. As per WHO officials, future of pandemic is in hands of G20 leaders. G20 has also contributed in the launch of ACT-Accelerator as it was launched after G20 called for a global mechanism to accelerate development of tests, treatments and vaccines.
ACT-Accelerator is used for “Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator”. It is also called as Global Collaboration to Accelerate Development, Production and Equitable Access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. This initiative was announced and started by G20 grouping in April 2020. ACT Accelerator acts as a cross-discipline support structure which enable the partners to share resources and knowledge.
ACT-Accelerator has four pillars which is managed by collaborating partners. Four pillars are Vaccines, Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Health Systems Connector.
President of Nepal, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, dissolved the House of Representatives on May 22, 2021. The decision was taken on the recommendations of cabinet headed by caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Fresh elections will be held in November 2021.
President gets power to dissolve House of Representatives or Parliament from Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal.
Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal states, Prime Minister can dissolve the house of representatives and announce a new date to conduct election within six months when the Prime Minister appointed under Clause (5) fails to own vote of confidence or when no member can be appointed as Prime Minister.
Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved the parliament after considering the claims of support by both the sides. KP Sharma Oli had claimed of having support of 153 lawmakers including members of Janata Samajbadi Party. On the other hand, Nepali Congress President Deuba claimed to have the support of 149 parliamentarians. Both the claims did not comply because, Nepal’s house of representatives is constituted of 275 members.
The political crisis in Nepal started in May 2018 when KP Sharma Oli-led CPN-UML & National Communist Party got merged and decided to serve as joint chairmen of ruling party. CPN-UML was the largest party in House of Representatives but increasing disputes within the ruling part resulted in split again. Following the split, in December 2020, Prachanda-led party expelled Prime Minister Oli as co-Chair and Prachanda was made the first Chairman. After that, house of representatives was dissolved in 2020 which was reinstated again following the order of supreme court in 2021. But, recently on May 10, Prime Minister Oli has lost the vote of confidence and the house stands dissolved.
Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO) of China has recently detected dozen sources of ultra-high-energy gamma rays.
LHAASO cosmic ray observatory has discovered 12 sources of ultrahigh-energy photons. It has also detected a photon with energy level of 1.4 peta-electron volt. All these sources are located at positions in milky way galaxy and it can be measured with an accuracy of greater than 0.3°. They are the brightest Milky Way gamma ray sources discovered till date.
LHAASO is a gamma-ray and cosmic-ray observatory located at Daocheng in Sichuan province of China. The observatory has been designed to observe air showers that are triggered by gamma rays and cosmic rays. It has been set at the altitude of 4,410 metres above sea level. It started observation in April 2019 over an area of 145 hectares.
The observatory comprises of three underground observing pools. One of the pools is designed to comprise 100,000 tonnes of water. All the pools comprise of 12 telescopes which helps in capturing high-energy photons.
It is a landlocked province located in Southwest China. It occupies most of Sichuan Basin and easternmost part of Tibetan Plateau. Capital city of Sichuan is Chengdu. Sichuan has the population of about 81 million
Air India has recently announced that, ten years’ worth of Air India customer data such as credit cards, passports and phone numbers were leaked in a cyber-attack on its data processor in February 2021. Cyber-attack has affected about 45 lakh customers who got registered between August 26, 2011 to February 3, 2021.
Cyber-attack has also compromised names, date of birth, contact information and ticket information of the customers. This was a ‘highly sophisticated’ attack which targeted Geneva-based passenger system operator called SITA. SITA served the Air India apart from Star Alliance of airlines including Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.
Cyber-attack is an online attack, launched by cybercriminals using one or more computers against single or multiple computers or networks and other such information systems. It maliciously disables computers and steal data. It also uses a breached computer as a launch point for other such attacks. Methods like malware, ransomware, phishing, denial of service are used to attack the computers or networks.
Frequent causes of cyber-attacks include- Spear Phishing, Phishing and Social Engineering, Malware, Out of Date Software, Denial of Service and Ransomware. Most recent attack was witnessed by Microsoft which reported that, cyber crooks are using Covid-19 situation in 2020 to defraud people using the methods of phishing and ransomware in India and other countries.
Amid the second wave of Covid-19 and mass vaccination programme across the world a term “Vaccine Tourism” is gaining momentum. Vaccine Tourism has come to limelight after draft of a vaccine tour package by Dubai-based travel agency called ‘Arabian Nights Tours’ for Delhi-Moscow.
Vaccine Tourism can be defined as “travelling to different country for sightseeing with an additional benefit of getting the jab there”. The Vaccine tourism package is gaining popularity because many countries have banned travel from India and for Indians because of rising corona cases. Russia is one of few countries which is currently allowing entry to Indians with a negative PCR report.
The vaccine tourism package comprises of 20 days accommodation in a hotel, all meals, flights and a few days of sightseeing. Total cost of the package is Rs 1.3 lakh. Countries like Maldives and US are also working on similar programme so as to allow people abroad to get vaccinated during their visit.
Government of India is making all its efforts to ensures that no one has to go abroad to take the jab. It is estimated that, everyone will get their jab by end of 2021. But, there is shortage of vaccines in India currently. As a result, many Indians are wondering if they can go abroad to get the jab. Few countries like US & Russia are allowing vaccination for other residents as well. So, if the air travel is allowed, it will not be illegal to get vaccine aboard.
Recently, US space agency NASA has announced to send its first mobile robot to the Moon in 2023. Mobile robot will search ice and other resources on and below the surface of moon. This mission is an example showing “robotic science mission” and “human exploration” go hand in hand.
Mobile robot is a part of Artemis programme. It will collect data from Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) and help scientists in mapping the resources at South Pole of the lunar which have the potential to be harvested for long-term human exploration. Data obtained from VIPER can aid the scientists to determine precise locations and concentrations of ice on the lunar surface. They can also evaluate environment and potential resources at south pole.
VIPER stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. It is a lunar rover which NASA has developed to explore south pole of the moon. It will be delivered to surface of Moon in November 2023. The rover will explore the lunar resources in permanently shadowed areas of south pole region of Moon. It will help in mapping water ice distribution and concentration. This mission is based on previous cancelled NASA rover concept called Resource Prospector. The rover will be carried through Griffin lander of Astrobotic under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative of NASA.
South Pole of Moon attracts most of the scientists because of occurrence of water ice in permanently shadowed areas. The region features unique craters because near-constant sunlight does not reach to their interior. These craters are cold traps comprising of fossil record of hydrogen, water ice, and other such volatiles.
Recent study shows that, Invasive species are costing African agriculture about $3.66 trillion per year. It equals to 1.5 times of the combined gross domestic product of all African countries.
The researchers also found that, there were variation among countries. Worst affected nation was Nigeria with the estimate lose of around $1 trillion annually due to invasive species. While, Democratic Republic of Congo incur the loss of $317 billion per year.
It was found that, a moth known as Phthorimaea absoluta caused most of the losses. This moth affects tomato plants and incur an estimated cost of $11.4 billion each year. Other insects inflict about $21.5 billion worth of crop losses per year to mango, maize, cassava and citrus crops.
It is an introduced organism which negatively affects the new environment. Their spread can have beneficial aspects but they can adversely affect invaded habitats and bioregions. They cause ecological, environmental or economic damage. They are become serious economic, social, and environmental threat in the 21st century. kudzu vine, English ivy, Andean pampas grass, Japanese knotweed etc are some of the examples of invasive plant species.
Union Ministry of road and transport has recently notified about the draft rules for 4-wheeler tyres to raise the fuel efficiency. Norms for new model tyres will come in effect from October 1, 2021 while for the existing model, from October 1, 2022. Norms have been prepared on the line of norms followed in Europe.
As per the draft norms, tyres of cars, buses and trucks should meet requirement like wet grip, rolling resistance and rolling sound emissions. New norms have been proposed with the aim of ensuring quality and reliability of tyres. New norms were proposed in accordance with the rules specified in Stage-II of Automotive Industry Standards (AIS) 142:2019.
As per the standards, rolling resistance of tyres has its influence on fuel efficiency. Wet grip helps in better braking performance of the tyres under wet conditions. While, the Rolling sound emission standards will reduce the sound emitted from contact between tyres in motion and road surface. It will also help user to take informed decision.
AIS are automotive technical specifications followed in India and are drafted based on UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) norms.
India Meteorological Department has informed that, Cyclone Yaas is likely to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm, week after cyclone Tauktae had its landfall on the western coast of India. Cyclone Yaas is likely to affect the coastal parts of Odisha and West Bengal on May 26, 2021.
IMD has issued waning in the aftermath of a low-pressure area forming over the east-central Bay of Bengal and adjoining north Andaman Sea. Formation of low area is the first stage of formation of cyclone. Thus, IMD also informed, it is not necessary that all low-pressure areas will intensify into cyclonic storms. The cyclone is likely to move north-westwards and intensify into a cyclonic storm.
The Andaman Sea, Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas of east-central is experiencing favourable Atmospheric and oceanic conditions such as conducive environment for convection and sea surface temperatures. This is result into persistent cloudiness over these areas. IMD has informed, the surface temperature of Bay of Bengal has increased and it could thus provide favourable weather system to turn the storm into a cyclone. If the cyclone is formed, it will be named as “Yaas”. This name has been given by Oman.
Bay of Bengal is warmer than the Arabian Sea. This provides sufficient and continuous heat energy which is required to create and sustain a low-pressure system. Higher sea surface temperatures and humidity is directly related with the chances of formation of cyclone. Apart from that, Bay of Bengal receives higher rainfall and experience constant influx of fresh water from Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers. As a result, surface water keeps on getting refreshed. Thus, it is almost impossible for warm water to mix with cooler water beneath. It is an ideal situation for the formation of depression.
The IMF (International Monetary Fund) proposed a USD 50 billion global vaccination plan which will cover about 40 percent of global population by the end of 2021. It also seeks to cover at least 60 percent of the population by first half of 2022.
This plan was proposed on the line of work of the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, Gavi and African Union. IMF have proposed targets, and has estimated the financing requirements. It has laid down the three broad elements under its action plan:
IMF has estimated that, this plan will cost around USD 50 billion apart from combination of grants, national government resources and other concessional financing. IMF estimates to get a grant financing of about USD 35 billion. G20 members will also help in addressing the USD 22 billion grant funding gap.
COVAX stands for COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access. It is a worldwide initiative which was launched with the aim of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. It is directed by Vaccine Alliance, GAVI; Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and World Health Organization. It is a pillar of Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative. COVAX initiative helps in enabling the low-to-middle-income countries to get equitable access to COVID-19 tests, therapies, and vaccines.
National Mobile Monitoring Software (NMMS) app and Area officer monitoring App was launched by Rural Development Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar on May 22, 2021. These apps are a big step towards bringing the transparency and proper monitoring of the schemes.
NMMS App has been launched to take real time attendance of workers at Mahatma Gandhi NREGA worksites. It will also take their geotagged photograph. Thus, the app will help in increasing citizen oversight of the programme and potentially enable processing of payments in a faster manner.
This app was launched in a bid to facilitate the authorities to record their findings online. It will also help in recording time stamped and go-coordinate tagged photograph for all the schemes launched by Department of Rural Development. Thus, the app will enable a better record keeping of inspections by field and supervisory officials and it will also facilitate analysis of findings which in turn help in implementation of programme in a better manner.
This act was renamed as “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It is an Indian labour law and social security measure. It was enacted with the aim of ensuring the ‘right to work’. It was passed in September 2005 by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The act provides at least 100 days of wage employment to every household. This, it enhances the livelihood security in rural areas. World bank calls the act a ‘stellar example of rural development’.
India is all set to host “2022 FIFA under-17 Women’s World Cup” from October 11 to 30, 2022. It will be the second FIFA tournament to be hosted by India.
Earlier, India had to organise 2021 Under-17 Women’s World Cup but it was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic. India had also hosted FIFA under-17 World Cup in 2017. The 2017 event has set a record for being most attended youth World Cup in the history.
FIFA Women’s World Cup is a soccer competition which is contested Internationally by senior women’s national teams of members of International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). The competition was started in 1991 and it is held every four years since then. The 1991 tournament was held in China.
As per the current format of the tournament, national teams contest for 23 slots for three-year qualification phase while the team of host nation is automatically entered as 24th slot. The tournament proper is contested at venues in about one month.
Till date, eight FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments have been organised and four national teams have won it. United States have won the tournament four times. France is the current champions after winning in 2019
Women’s World Cup has been hosted by six countries. China and United States have hosted twice. On the other hand, Canada, France, Germany, and Sweden have hosted it once.
It is a non-profit organization and a highest international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. It was founded in 1904 to organise and look after the international competition among national associations of Belgium, France, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Switzerland. It is Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and currently, 211 national associations are its member.
Recently, City of Ceuta witnessed an unprecedented influx of about 8,000 people from Morocco by swimming around breakwaters, separating both the countries, to reach city of Ceuta. Influx has tensed relations between Spain and Morocco.
Influx of Migrants in Spain from Morocco is a regular business but in small numbers. This time, the scale of crossings has increased exceptionally. In an answer, Spain has deployed troops and armoured vehicles across the border to round up migrants and sending them back to Morocco through the border gate.
Influx of people from Morocco to Spain is increasing even since, Morocco has relaxed the border controls for unknown reasons. However, experts say, it was done in retaliation against Spain after it allowed leader of militant group named Brahim Ghali to receive medical treatment in a hospital of Spain.
Brahim Ghali is the head of Polisario Front. This front is fighting to establish an independent Western Sahara, which happens to be an ex-Spanish colony which Morocco had annexed in 1970s.
Developments in the city of Ceuta is one of biggest crisis affecting the relation between both the countries since 2002. In the year 2002, a territorial dispute occurred over an uninhabited island on Moroccan coast.
It a coastal city of North Africa. It belonged to Spain since 16th century. The city is a Spanish possession on Moroccan coast. It has become a flashpoint, in recent years, for migrants from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa who wants to enter Europe.