Daily Current Affairs - 28-05-2021

Dharavi is a slum in Mumbai that reported some 99 COVID-19 cases every day in April 2021. But, in last some days, number of cases is declining gradually. According to officials, ‘Dharavi model’ of COVID-19 management and vaccination drive have helped in containing second wave in the slum.

Cases in Dharavi

What is Dharavi Model?

Rise in initial phase of second covid wave pushed civic authorities to once again to initiate the “Dharavi model”. The model involves 4Ts which stands for “tracing, tracking, testing and treating”. This strategy was also praised by World Health Organisation (WHO) during first wave of COVID-19. This model was activated in February 2021 again as the second wave started. Under the model, Door-to-door screening of people is conducted with symptoms, aggressive testing and regular screening.

About Dharavi

Dharavi is a slum cluster with a population of 6.5 lakh. Thus, about 2,27,136 people living per sq km. As a result, social distancing was not impossible in Dharavi as families of 8 to 10 people live in 10×10 hutments. Apart from congested pockets, area is home to small-scale leather, pottery and textile manufacturing units. It has 5,000 GST-registered enterprises and 15,000 single-room factories.  It is also a hub of international exports with an annual turnover of $1 billion.

Union Education Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, has approved proposal to provide monetary assistance through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to students under Mid-Day meal scheme.

Who will benefit?

Direct benefit Transfer of cooking cost component if Mid-Day-Meal scheme will benefit 11.8 crore eligible students. This will provide a boost to Midday Meal programme. Monetary assistance will help to safeguard nutritional levels of children and aid in protecting their immunity.

Allocated Funds

Central government will provide additional funds of Rs 1200 crore to State Governments and UT Administrations to implement the monetary assistance programme. It will be a one-time special welfare measure to benefit children studying in class I to VIII across 11.20 lakh Government and Government aided schools in India.

Midday Meal Scheme

It is school meal programme designed to ensure a better nutritional standing of school-age children in India. Under the initiative, free lunches are supplied on working days for children studying in primary and upper primary classes of local body, government, government aided, Education Guarantee Scheme, alternate innovative education centres, Maktab and Madrasa. This scheme is in line with Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party. Under the convention, India has committed to yield “adequate nutritious food” for children. The scheme is a covered by National Food Security Act, 2013.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed every year on May 28. The day is marked across the globe to address societal stigma and to raise awareness on maintaining menstrual hygiene.

Who launched the day?

Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global movement which seeks to normalise menstruation. It was initiated by German non-profit organisation “WASH United” which is also a global coordinator for this day.  It was first launched in 2014.

Significance of the day

Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global advocacy platform which brings together voices and actions of individuals, government agencies, non-profits, private sector and media on promotion of good menstrual health and hygiene menstrufor women and girls across the world.

Why this date was chosen?

28 May (28/5) was chosen as the date because it highlights average menstrual cycle. Women start menstruating after every 28 days and it lasts for 5 days on average.

Aim of the day

The day aims to shed taboos associated menstruation, to break the silence and to change negative social norms.

Theme of year 2021

This year, day is being observed under the theme- “Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health”.

Hong Kong mountaineer, Tsang Yin-hung, recorded “world’s fastest ascent of Everest by a woman” in just 26 hours.

Highlights

Mount Everest

The highest mountain above sea level, in world, is located in Mahalangur Himal sub-range of Himalayas. China–Nepal border runs across its summit point. Its snow height is of 8,848.86 m recorded recently in 2020 by Nepali and Chinese authorities.

Climbing on Mount Everest

Mount Everest is a famous climbing spot which attracts experienced mountaineers. It has two main climbing routes. One is from southeast in Nepal called as “standard route” while other is from north in Tibet. Mountain presents dangers including weather, winds, altitude sickness and significant hazards from avalanches and Khumbu Icefall. About 300 people have died on Everest, as of 2019, many of whose bodies remain on mountain.

Mahalangur Himal

It is a subsection of Himalayas on northeast Nepal and south-central Tibet of China. It extends from Nangpa La pass between Rolwaling Himal and Cho Oyu. This range includes Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu which are four among six highest peaks on Earth.

Researchers from Taiwan developed a vaccine using DNA of coronavirus spike protein and tested its efficacy on Mice and Hamsters. This technique is different than mRNA vaccines.

Highlights

What is DNA Vaccine?

DNA vaccine is thermally stable and no cold chain-needed in such vaccines. It can induce high levels of long-lasting neutralising antibody against SARS-CoV-2.  It can be produced quickly at lower cost. Several clinical trials have indicated the efficacy of DNA vaccines in treating infections like Zika, HIV-1, Ebola and influenza viruses.

What is mRNA-based vaccines?

Most of the available Covid-19 vaccines is based on mRNA strands. Such vaccines teach human immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Similarity between both vaccines

Both DNA based and mRNA-based vaccines use genetic material encoding part of virus to draw out an immune response.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, chaired a high-level meeting and reviewed the progress of National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). It was highlighted, a Unified Health Interface (UHI) will be rolled soon.

Background

Prime Minister announced the launch of NDHM on 74th Independence Day. Mission is a part of three digital announcements including a new cyber security policy and optical fibre connectivity to six lakh villages in India

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

NDHM is a complete digital health ecosystem having four key features — health ID, Digi Doctor, personal health records and health facility registry. Later it will also include e-pharmacy & telemedicine services. It will be implemented National Health Authority (NHA) under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. App version as well as website version of NDHM platform will be available.

Digi Doctor

It will allow doctors to enrol and their details, as per their consent, will be made available. Doctors will also be assigned a digital signature for free for writing prescriptions.

Unique Health ID

This ID will be a repository of all health-related information of citizens. Various healthcare providers including hospitals, laboratories, online pharmacies, telemedicine firms etc will participate in health ID system. Patient who wants their health records available digitally will require to create unique Health ID using their basic details, mobile or Aadhaar card.

Part of structure of a key protein in COVID-19 virus was revealed by researchers from Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi.

How this study is significant?

Structure of virus

This virus comprises of 16 non-structural proteins (NSP1-NSP16). Out of them, NSP1 plays a significant role in pathogenicity, that is, ability of virus to cause disease. NSP1 disrupts proteins of host cell and suppresses immune functions. NSP1 is also called as ‘host shutoff factor’.

Which Virus causes Covid-19?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS‑CoV‑2 virus causes COVID-19. It is also called as coronavirus. Covid-19 was declared Public Health Emergency of International Concern by World Health Organisation in January 2020 later in March 2020 it was declared pandemic. Virus causing covid-19, SARS‑CoV‑2, is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus. It is the successor to SARS-CoV-1, that caused 2002–2004 SARS outbreak. It has zoonotic origin and it is genetically similar to bat coronavirus.

Bashar al-Assad was re-elected as President for a fourth term in war-ravaged Syria, amid accusations that polls were “neither free nor fair”.

Highlights

Parliamentary speaker announced, Assad got 95.1 percent of votes cast. In last multi-candidate poll of 2014, he had won 88 percent of vote.

Who is Bashar al-Assad?

A Syrian politician, who is the 19th president of Syria since 2000, succeeding his father who served from 1971 to 2000. He also served as commander-in-chief of Syrian Armed Forces and regional secretary of Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Syria. He started to work as doctor in Syrian Army.

Where is Syria located?

Syria is located in Western Asia. It shares border with Mediterranean Sea in west, Turkey in north, Iraq in east, Jordan in south, and Israel & Lebanon in southwest. Known for fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Country is home to ethnic & religious groups such as Kurds, Syrian Arabs, Turkmens, Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians, Mandeans and Greeks. Major religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Salafis, and Yazidis. Arabs are largest ethnic group while Sunnis are largest religious group on the Syrian land.

Polity of Syria

Syria is a unitary republic comprising of 14 governorates. It is the only country which politically espouses Ba’athism. It is a member of United Nations and Non-Aligned Movement. Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had suspended Syria in November 2011.

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) issued guidelines for Toll centres to reduce waiting time to 10 seconds per vehicle at any point of time.

What is yellow line?

According to the guidelines, yellow lines at toll plazas will reduce the waiting queue of vehicles to 100 metres even during peak hours. If queue is beyond 100 metres, vehicles at the front will pass without paying toll.

Background

NHAI highlights, it has successfully transitioned to 100 per cent cashless tolling from February 2021. Overall FASTag penetration has reached to 96 per cent to 99 per cent penetration. As the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) penetration is increasing in India, NHAI is emphasising to have a new design and construct upcoming toll plazas based on traffic projections for next 10 years.

What is electronic toll collection?

It is a wireless system that automatically collect usage fee or toll charged to vehicles using toll roads, toll bridges, HOV lanes and toll tunnels. It is a faster alternative unlike toll booths, where vehicles stop and driver manually pays toll with cash or card.  FASTag is one such example.

About FASTag

This electronic toll collection system in India is operated by NHAI. It uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to make toll payments directly from prepaid or savings account linked to it. The tag is affixed on windscreen of vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without stopping for transactions. State-run oil marketing companies like IOC, BPCL and HPCL signed MoUs in 2019 to enable use of FASTag to do purchases at petrol pumps.

Government has constituted a panel of state ministers to examine valuation of services by online gaming to levy goods and services tax (GST). They will also examine services by casinos and race courses.

About Panel

Panel comprises of seven-members, was convened by Gujarat Deputy Chief, Minister Nitin Patel. Other members include- Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister P Thiagarajan, Goa Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho, and Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

Function of the Panel

Panel will examine “valuation of services” as well as examine if any alternate legal provision is required to provide a better means of valuation for these services. It will also examine impact of such valuation on other services like lottery.

Whom to submit report?

Panel will submit its report, in six months, to GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister and comprising state Finance Ministers.

What was the need of panel?

In India, Online gaming is currently in nascent stages which thus leads to issues revolving around taxation and valuation. Thus, the panel has been set up to understand, examine and resolve uncertainty on valuation of services by these companies.

GST on Services

Presently, 18 percent GST is levied on services like casinos, horse racing and online gaming. Now, panel will decide method of valuing these services.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has designed clothing which use special fibres to sense movement of person via touch.

Highlights

Researchers from MIT also showed their clothes determined things such as if the person is sitting, walking, or doing any particular pose. Group from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) highlighted, their clothes can be used for athletic training and rehabilitation. These clothes can even help in monitoring health of residents in assisted-care facilities, with the permission of patients, and can determine things like- if the person has fallen or is unconscious.  

What researchers have developed?

Researchers have developed prototypes ranging from socks and gloves to a full vest. It uses a mix of more typical textile fibres and a small amount of custom-made functional fibers which can sense pressure from person wearing the cloth. Socks predict motion by examining different sequences of tactile footprints related to different poses when user transitions from one to another pose. Similarly, full-sized vest can determine wearers’ pose, activity and texture of contracted surfaces.

Significance of development

Unlike existing wearable electronics, smart cloth can be incorporated into traditional large-scale clothing production. These machine-knitted tactile textiles are soft, breathable, stretchable and can any forms.

Global Annual to Decadal 10-year Climate Update was released by United Kingdom’s Met Office led by World Meteorological Organisation.

Key Findings

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

WMO, a specialized agency of United Nations, promote international cooperation on atmospheric science, hydrology, climatology and geophysics. WMO was originated from International Meteorological Organization to exchange weather data and research. During the World Meteorological Convention of 1947, proposals to reform status and structure IMO was proposed. This Convention came into force in 1950 after which WMO started its operations as an intergovernmental organization within United Nations.

International Meteorological Organization (IMO)

IMO was the first organization established with the objective of exchanging weather information among countries. It was formed after realizing that weather systems move across country boundaries. IMO was superseded the World Meteorological Organization in 1951.

Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, launched 60 Starlink Broadband Satellites with Falcon 9 first stage booster into the orbit. Satellites were launched from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.

Background

This two-stage-to-orbit had also launched Sentinel-6A mission earlier.

Highlights

It was 13th Starlink launch in 2021 for SpaceX.  70 meters tall, Falcon 9 rocket was successfully lift-off marking the fourth time SpaceX launched a batch of Starlink satellites in a bid to expand flourishing broadband constellation. SpaceX will launch its next mission dubbed as “space station resupply mission” on June 3, 2021.

SpaceX’s reusable Space vehicles

It was 85th landing by SpaceX’s reusable launch system development program. SpaceX has been developing technologies since several years to provide a system of rapid reusable launch of space vehicles. Usually, first stage of Vehicle does not return after a launch but SpaceX has developed a technology through which vehicle returns, few hours after mission is launched, for reuse.

Starlink Satellites

Starlinks are satellite internet constellation, constructed by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access. Constellation comprise of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). These satellites communicate with designated ground transceivers. Development of starlink started in 2015 and its Two prototype test-flight satellites were launched in 2018. In May 2019, it deployed 60 operational satellites.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) published its annual report and highlights “asset quality of banks and their preparedness requires close monitoring for higher provisioning for upcoming quarters.

Background

RBI in its semi-annual financial stability report earlier highlighted, bad loan ratio of banks could rise to 13.5% under baseline stress scenario by September 2021.

Key findings of report