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17 June Current Affairs

Bhutan PM says China must maintain status quo on Doklam

In News:

Calling for China to maintain status quo in the Doklam region, Bhutan’s Prime Minister said “no side” should do anything near the trijunction point between India, China and Bhutan “unilaterally”.


Doklam issue had seen a near conflict between the Indian and Chinese armies in 2017.

Doklam plateau has been part of a boundary dispute between Bhutan and China.

Talks between two sides:

The boundary talks between the two sides had made good progress, however, with 25 rounds completed. Asked whether the talks could lead to diplomatic ties being established, he reiterated Bhutan’s policy of not establishing ties with any permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister also called on India and Pakistan to work together for the growth of South Asia and said it was “too early” to call the SAARC unviable. His comments follow calls by Sri Lanka’s President and Nepal’s Prime Minister to revive the SAARC, which hasn’t held a summit since 2014.

Status quo:

The existing state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues.

Vardhan reviews situation as encephalitis toll touches 83

In News:

The death toll of children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur rose to 83.


Encephalitis is an inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the brain. In most cases, a virus causes this inflammation. Encephalitis is also called acute viral encephalitis or aseptic encephalitis.

Who Gets Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is a rare disease. Most cases happen in children, the elderly, and people with a weakened immune system (from HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.).

Several thousand cases of encephalitis are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year. But health experts think that many more cases happen that aren’t reported because symptoms vary and can be mild.

Signs & Symptoms of Encephalitis:

Symptoms in mild cases of encephalitis usually include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • poor appetite
  • loss of energy
  • a general sick feeling

Serious cases of encephalitis can cause:

  • a high fever
  • severe headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • personality changes
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • problems with speech or hearing
  • hallucinations
  • memory loss
  • drowsiness
  • coma

It’s harder to spot some of these symptoms in infants. Important signs to look for include:

  • vomiting
  • a full or bulging soft spot (fontanel)
  • crying that doesn’t stop or that seems worse when the baby is picked up or handled
  • body stiffness

Because encephalitis can happen during or after common viral illnesses, symptoms of these illnesses can start before encephalitis happens. But often, it appears without warning.

What Causes Encephalitis?

Three groups of viruses are common causes of encephalitis:

  1. Herpes viruses, such as chickenpox, EBV (Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono), and herpes simplex (which causes cold sores).
  2. Viruses and other germs transmitted by insects, like West Nile virus (spread through a mosquito bite) and the germs that cause Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (spread through tick bites).
  3. Viruses that cause once-common childhood infections, such as measles, mumps, and German measles. Thanks to immunizations, it’s rare today for someone to develop encephalitis from these illnesses.

Is Encephalitis Contagious?

Brain inflammation itself is not contagious. But the viruses that cause encephalitis can be. Of course, getting a virus does not mean that someone will develop encephalitis.

PM calls meet on ‘one nation, one poll’

In News:

Prime Minister invited heads of all parties in Parliament to a meeting to discuss “one nation, one election”.


Ahead of the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, Mr. Modi addressed leaders of the Opposition at an all-party meeting where he asked them to introspect and urged Parliament to “reflect upon a new way of thinking along with new faces who have entered the august House”.

“We are for the people, we cannot win hearts by disrupting the functioning of Parliament. All parties must keep political differences aside and commit themselves to tirelessly work in the direction of nation’s progress”.

After the first three days of oath taking, President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of Parliament on June 20 and on July 5, the government will announce the Budget for 2019-2020.

The Opposition raised issues such as unemployment, farmers’ distress, drought, press freedom, women’s safety and price rise.

Eco-friendly flats for MPs

With the first round of redevelopment of flats for MPs on North Avenue complete, the remaining flats on the North and South Avenues here are also likely to be demolished and re-constructed using fly ash and construction and demolition (C&D) waste bricks.

Around 400 flats on North Avenue and South Avenue are likely to be rebuilt along the lines of the 36 flats on North Avenue that have just been rebuilt after being demolished in 2017.

Fly ash bricks were used for the construction of the structure, while C&D waste bricks were used for the external walls. There are also five rainwater harvesting pits on the premises, the official added. The project cost, according to the tender, was around Rs. 57.32 crore.

The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha House Committees would allot the homes and finalise the plans. With the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha starting, the allotment and the future plans would be decided by the new Speaker and the committees.

‘It’s too early to call off SAARC and say it isn’t relevant or viable’

In News:

Bhutan PM says that if India and Pakistan don’t work together for the region, nothing can move ahead; we must march together without countering each other.


Bilateral agreements with Bhutan:

Mangdechhu hydropower project

South Asia Satellite programme

A stand-alone, multi-disciplinary hospital outside of the planned expenses

Government-to-government mega-hydropower project on the Sankosh river

Pharma firms found substandard

In News:

Drugs of 18 pharma firms found substandard since 2018.


The Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), which implements the Centre’s flagship affordable medicine scheme PMBJP, has found 25 batches of drugs of 18 pharmaceutical companies to be of substandard quality since January 2018.

While 17 out of the 18 companies are private, one is a public sector unit (PSU), the Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited (IDPL).

Both the BPPI and the IDPL work under the Department of Pharmaceuticals of the Central government.

Janaushadhi Kendras:

Once the affordable generic drugs are procured from the pharmaceutical companies by the BPPI, they are supplied to various Janaushadhi Kendras that are managed under the Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

There are 4,677 Janaushadhi Kendras functional in the country, as on December 31, 2018.

Measures Taken:

“Stringent action has been taken against the suppliers whose products were declared ‘Not of Standard Quality’.”

A list of companies debarred or blacklisted for selling “not of standard quality” products.

Seven companies — Overseas Health Care, Hanuchem Laboratories, Legen Healthcare, AMR Pharma India Private Limited, Jackson Laboratories, Mascot Health Series and Terrace Pharmaceuticals — have been blacklisted for two years.

Vayu may turn into a depression

In News:

The very severe cyclonic storm Vayu is expected to “recurve” and make landfall as a “depression” near Porbandar in coastal Gujarat, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast.


“The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards for about 06 hours and gradually recurve north-eastwards thereafter and cross the north Gujarat coast, as a depression,”.

A map of the tropical storm’s trajectory shows it is likely to make landfall in a swathe of area adjoining Porbandar and Junagadh districts.

A depression is the lowest grade of a cyclonic storm and brings wind speeds of 28-33 knots (or 55-65 kmph).

Climate trends say that while there has been an increase in the number of tropical cyclones in India’s neighbourhood, there is no clear trend in recurving ones. While the typical cyclone in the southern hemisphere tends to have a westward slant, the recurving ones can suddenly incline east. That makes them harder to predict, according to meteorologists.

While recurving cyclones don’t usually threaten Indian coasts, Ockhi — that skirted through Kerala’s and Tamil Nadu’s coasts in 2017 — was a notable re-curving cyclone.

Cyclone Fani dealt a big blow to honeybees in coastal Odisha

In News:

Cyclone Fani has caused substantial damage to honeybees living in the natural environment as well as farms and homes in coastal Odisha.


The loss of pollinators is set to affect production of fruits and vegetables in the storm-hit areas.

Thousands of bee colonies on trees and buildings are believed to have been damaged by wind with speeds of up to 200-220 kmph.

Honey production will remain low at least for two years in the five affected districts.

‘Nectar Odisha’: The bee keepers in the State have formed a WhatsApp group ‘Nectar Odisha’ to keep track of damages and restoration of hives in farms and individual homes.

Apart from honeybees, the storm also badly hit the butterfly population in the State’s coastal belt. But with the trees slowly turning green, things are likely to improve by next year.

In such a situation, extensive plantation of bee-friendly plants such as karanja , neem , jamun , polanga , boula and tamarind should be planted along the roads, apart from restoration of coconut and mango orchards.

Assam temple bids adieu to turtle hatchlings

In News:

For the first time since it was established 294 years ago, a temple in Guwahati has let its presiding deity play second fiddle to the offspring of its resident reptiles — the rare black softshell turtle (Nilssonia nigricans).


The Ugratara Temple, one of the city’s landmarks, organised a special darshan of 34 hatchlings of the freshwater turtle. Members of the temple committee and devotees turned up for what was essentially a ceremony to welcome and bid goodbye to these hatchlings.

The welcome was because the eggs of black softshell were collected from temple ponds for incubation at the Assam State Zoo. And the goodbye was because these hatchlings will be reintroduced in the wild, never to return.

“It was a sort of homecoming for the progeny of the turtles that have been part of our lives in Jorpukhuri”.

Jorpukhuri translates into twin tanks, one of which abuts Ugratara Temple that is dedicated to Goddess Tara, a ‘fiery’ avatar of Kali.

“The black softshell turtle is extinct in the wild. The few that remain are in the ponds of some temples in Assam”.

Target 1,000:

A similar homecoming of 11 hatchlings of the equally endangered Indian roofed turtle ( Pangshura tecta ) and the Indian tent turtle ( Pangshura tentoria ) was organised at the Hayagriv Madhab Temple in Hajo. Help Earth members had collected 150 eggs of these two turtle species a few months ago.

“We have identified 18 temple ponds and we can hope to reintroduce 1,000 freshwater turtles into the wild every year if we can have a nodal network of at least 15 of these ponds. Incubating the eggs away from the ponds was necessary because of the low hatching rate in the ponds”.

The eggs of the freshwater turtles have a soft shell. Unlike rivers or natural water bodies where they lay eggs a foot under silt, the clayey bottom of the ponds forces the turtles to lay eggs on the surface. Only about 20% of the eggs laid in these ponds hatch because of other factors such as shallowness and resultant water temperature.

50th birthday party

In News:

Paris zoo gives orangutan Nenette a 50th birthday party.


Nenette, one of the world’s oldest Borneo orangutans in captivity, celebrated her 50th birthday at a zoo in Paris, where she has lived almost all her life.