A3i: Unique Trait in Covid-19 in India
Recently, scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratories have identified a coronavirus type (A3i) that may be the second most prevalent in India and may comprise 3.5% of the genomes globally.
The scientists analysed 213 genomes and found that 62% of them were A2a, making it the most dominant coronavirus clade in India.
The newly identified A3i or Clade I/A3i comprised 41%, making it the second most common coronavirus type in India.
The A3i clade stood out from other clades due to differences at four different places in its sequence.
According to scientific analysis, the A3i clade mutates slowly compared to the A2a which is often disadvantageous for the virus.
So far, there is no evidence of whether A3i is more virulent and linked to more deaths.
Global Economic Prospects
Recently, the World Bank has released a part of the Global Economic Prospects (GEP) June 2020 report.
The report highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic will be having a “severe” short and long term effects on economic growth.
It has been estimated that 60 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020. These estimates are likely to rise further, with the reopening of advanced economies.
EMDEs are most vulnerable and may face health crises, restrictions and external shocks like falling trade, tourism and commodity prices, as well as capital outflows.
Earlier, G20 countries and commercial creditors had agreed to freeze loan repayments for low income countries (starting 1st May) till year-end. But these creditors had not yet implemented the same.
The collapse in oil demand due to the economic lockdowns and a surge in oil inventories have made steepest one-month decline in oil prices on record.
MoU between India and Bhutan
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bhutan for cooperation in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources.
The MoU will enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term cooperation in environment protection and management of natural resources on the basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the laws and legal provisions in each country.
Details of the New MoU:
Time Period: The MoU shall enter into force on the date of signature and shall continue to remain in force for a period of ten years.
Areas of Cooperation: Air, Waste, Chemical Management, Climate Change and Any other areas jointly decided upon.
Exchange of Best Practices:
The MoU shall facilitate exchange of experiences, best practices and technical knowledge through both public and private sectors and research institutions.
SWADES: Skill Mapping Exercise for Returning Citizens
Recently, the Government has launched an initiative ‘SWADES – Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support’.
The initiative, undertaken as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, aims at empowering the returning citizens with relevant employment opportunities.
Vande Bharat Mission is an evacuation exercise to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad amidst the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.
It is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs.
It aims to create a database of qualified citizens based on their skill sets and experience to tap into and fulfil demand of Indian and foreign companies.
The collected information will be shared with the companies for suitable placement opportunities in the country.
June 7: World Food Safety Day
Every year, on June 7, the World Food Safety Day is celebrated. This World Food Safety Day being celebrated on June 7, 2020 is the second World Food Safety Day.
The World Food Safety Day was launched by the United Nations in 2019. The day is celebrated to reinforce the call made by the Geneva Conference and Addis Ababa Conference in 2019 on “The Future of Food Safety”. This year the day is celebrated under the theme
Theme: Food Safety, Everyone’s Business
This year, under the theme, the United Nations is to promote global food safety awareness. Campaigns are to be conducted to call upon decision makers, UN Organizations, general public and civil societies to take action.
Addis Ababa Conference:
The Addis Ababa Conference was the first International Conference on Food Safety. The Conference discussed priorities to reach Sustainable Development Goals and also support UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.
UN Decade of Action on Nutrition:
The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition is a commitment of United Nations for the years 2016-25. The decade will receive increased nutrition actions from the world organization.
Spandan Campaign of Chhattisgarh
The Chhattisgarh Government recently launched Spandan Campaign. The campaign aimed to contain fratricide and suicide involving police personnel.
Under the campaign, the superintendents of police associated with the Chhattisgarh Government will start a parade in their districts every Friday. After the event, the grievances of the personnel are to be addressed. Also, the campaign has made medical treatment and counselling of depressed officers mandatory.
The campaign will also make arrangements for yoga classes for the police personnel at all the district head quarters. Cooperation of local yoga teachers have been sought to conduct these classes.
Also, the police officers have been instructed to the redress grievances of police personnel in regular intervals. The superintendents have been instructed to visit police stations regularly and make arrangements for recreational activities.
Around 50 police personnel in the state including paramilitary forces committed suicide in the state of Chhattisgarh in the last two years. Of these 18 were reported from seven districts that are affected by Maoists.
Also, in December 2019, around 6 ITBP personnel were killed at an incident of fratricide (killing of one’s brother or sister).
India-China Dispute: Pangong Lake
The current eye-to-eye confrontation between China and India is at the Pangong Tso site. The countries have ramped up their troops in the region since May.
India recently set up twin commands headquartered at Chandigarh and Guwahati and has deployed 90,000 troops. The troop personnel are all well trained mountaineers. The issue began in the patrolling of Indian troops in the border. This is an on and off issue where one country crosses the border while patrolling. This happens as the border dispute is unsolved and certain border areas are not yet demarcated.
What is the issue?
The disputed area between India and China mostly passes in the land. However, the Pangong Tso lake is unique where the disputed border passes through the water.
The lake does not have major tactical significance. However, the lake lies in the path of Chushul approach. It is the approach that China uses to offend territories held by India.
What are the Fingers of the Lake?
The barren mountain called Chang Chenmo has palm like formations called ‘fingers’. India claims that LAC (Line of Actual Control) starts from Finger 8. On the hand, China claims that it starts from Line 2. India physically controls up to Finger 4.
About the lake:
The Pangong Tso lake is a long deep narrow lake that is situated at a height of 4,350 metres in the Ladakh region. The lake is 134 km long and 5 km broad. It is a brackish water lake. It freezes in winter and is ideal for polo and ice skating. It is not a part of the Indus river basin. Also, it is not a Ramsar site yet. However, the process to identify it under Ramsar Convention is on.
CeNS: Low cost Catalyst for Hydrogen Generation
The scientists and researchers at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences operating under Department of Science and Technology have invented a low cost effective way to generate hydrogen from water using Molybdenum dioxide.
Key Findings of the Study:
The study says that Molybdenum dioxide can act as efficient catalyst to reduce energy used in splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The process is called electrolysis.
About Molybdenum Dioxide:
Molybdenum Dioxide has the potential to replace the catalyst that is being used currently, that is, Platinum. Platinum is highly expensive and also is available as limited resource on the earth.
About the Study:
The researchers grew Molybdenum Dioxide on tin oxide substrates.
The splitting of water is important to obtain hydrogen. Hydrogen is lately becoming a popular clean fuel. Hydrogen is predominantly used to make fuel cells. In a fuel cell, the chemical energy, that is hydrogen is converted into electricity.
Hydrogen Energy in India:
The Ministry of Renewable Energy is supporting Research and Development on Hydrogen Energy and Fuel greatly. The projects of hydrogen transportation is being conducted by Mahindra and Mahindra, Banaras Hindu University and IIT Delhi currently.