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27th October Current Affairs

Ay.4.2: All You Need To Know About Delta Covid Strain’s Subvariant

(GS-II: Issues related to Health)

In News:

AY.4.2 is a descendant of the Delta variant of COVID-19. The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first identified in India in October 2020.

Details:

The AY.4.2 (dubbed “Delta Plus” and now named VUI-21OCT-01 by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)) sub-lineage contains 2 mutations in its spike protein — A222V and Y145H.

Spread:

Presently, the United Kingdom accounts for 96 per cent cases of AY.4.2, followed by Denmark and Germany at 1 per cent each. It has also been reported in the US, Israel, and Russia.

In India, cases have been detected in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

How dangerous is AY.4.2?

The UKHSA stated that though evidence on AY.4.2 is still emerging, as of now, it doesn’t appear to cause more severe diseases. In terms of COVID-19 jabs, the sub-lineage does not render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective against it.

How do variants of a virus emerge and why?

Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.

Essentially, the goal of the virus is to reach a stage where it can cohabitate with humans because it needs a host to survive.

Errors in the viral RNA are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants. Variants could differ by a single or many mutations.

What is a mutation?

A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.

A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

AIIB has said that it would look to fund both social as well as climate-resilient infrastructure in India in the coming years.

Details:

Meanwhile, it has also asked India to strike a balance between ramping up physical infrastructure and the social infrastructure such as healthcare systems.

What is AIIB?

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond.

The Parties (57 founding members) to agreement comprise the Membership of the Bank.

It is headquartered in Beijing.

The bank started operation after the agreement entered into force on 25 December 2015, after ratifications were received from 10 member states holding a total number of 50% of the initial subscriptions of the Authorized Capital Stock.

Aim:

By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, it aims to connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.

Membership:

There are more than 100 members now.

Voting Rights:

China is the largest shareholder with 26.61 % voting shares in the bank followed by India (7.6%), Russia (6.01%) and Germany (4.2 %).

The regional members hold 75% of the total voting power in the Bank.

Various organs of AIIB:

Board of Governors: The Board of Governors consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each member country. Governors and Alternate Governors serve at the pleasure of the appointing member.

Board of Directors: Non-resident Board of Directors is responsible for the direction of the Bank’s general operations, exercising all powers delegated to it by the Board of Governors.

International Advisory Panel: The Bank has established an International Advisory Panel (IAP) to support the President and Senior Management on the Bank’s strategies and policies as well as on general operational issues.

National Population Register

(GS-III: Internal security related issues)

In News:

The latest form of the National Population Register (NPR) appears to have retained contentious questions such as “mother tongue, place of birth of father and mother and last place of residence”, according to a document compiled by a committee under the Registrar General of India.

What’s the issue?

Though NPR was first compiled in 2010 and updated in 2015, the new questions were part of a trial exercise involving 30 lakh respondents in September 2019.

The exercise has been opposed by some States and citizen groups as NPR is the first step toward compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRC) according to Citizenship Rules, 2003.

How is NPR different from Census?

The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country and it is “mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.”

While similar data is collected through Census, according to Section 15 of the Census Act, 1948, all individual level information collected in Census is confidential and “only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.”

Criticisms surrounding NPR:

Many Opposition-ruled States have opposed the updation of the NPR due to its link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the yet to be implemented Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

According to Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003, NPR is the first step towards compilation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC.

What is NPR?

The NPR is a register of usual residents linked with location particulars down to the village level and is updated periodically “to incorporate the changes due to birth, death and migration”.

The next phase was to be simultaneously updated with the 2021 House Listing and Housing Census but has been indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is a usual resident?

A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

Framework for traffic management of drones

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Civil Aviation Ministry has notified a traffic management framework for drones.

The framework has been issued under the Drone Rules 2021.

Overview of the framework:

Public and private third-party service providers will manage their movement in the airspace under 1,000 feet.

The framework allows third-party service providers to give services such as registration, flight planning, dynamic deconfliction and access to supplementary data like weather, terrain and position of manned aircraft.

Also, a set of supplementary service providers will also be permitted under the framework to provide services such as insurance and data analytics to support the UAS (unmanned aircraft system) Traffic Management (UTM) ecosystem.

All drones (except Nano drones operating in the green zone) shall be required to mandatorily share their real-time location through the network to the Centre either directly or through third-party service providers.

Service providers will be permitted to charge drone operators a service fee and a small portion of it might have to be shared with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which manages the ATM.

What necessitated a separate framework for drones?

Current air traffic management (ATM) systems have not been designed to handle the traffic from unmanned aircraft.

Also, Integration of unmanned aircraft in the Indian airspace using conventional means may require unmanned aircraft to be equipped with bulky and expensive hardware, which is neither feasible nor advisable.

Moreover, traditional traffic management services provided by ATCs (air traffic controllers) for manned aircraft cannot be scaled for managing drone traffic which is expected to become at least 100 times higher since the traditional ATM is manual and requires human intervention.

Drone management in India:

The Union government had on September 15 approved a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components with an allocation of Rs 120 crore spread over three financial years.

The ministry had on August 25 notified the Drone Rules, 2021 that eased the regulation of drone operations in India by reducing the number of forms that need to be filled to operate them from 25 to five and decreasing the types of fees charged from the operator from 72 to four.

Need for stricter rules and regulations:

Recently, Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.

Over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs into Indian territory.

According to government figures, 167 drone sightings were recorded along the border with Pakistan in 2019, and in 2020, there were 77 such sightings.

With the rapid proliferation of drone technology and exponential growth of its global market in recent years, the possibility of a drone attack cannot be ruled out even in the safest cities in the world.

Drones are becoming security threats particularly in conflict zones where non-state actors are active and have easy access to the technology.