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31st August Current Affairs

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination

(GS-II: Issues related to Health)

In News:

100years has passed since the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine was introduced to combat tuberculosis (TB) on 18 July, 1921.

What is BCG Vaccine?

Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine is a vaccine primarily used against tuberculosis (TB).

BCG was developed by modifying a strain of Mycobacterium bovis (that causes TB in cattle). It was first used in humans in 1921.

Currently, BCG is the only licensed vaccine available for the prevention of TB.

It is the world’s most widely used vaccine with about 120 million doses every year and has an excellent safety record.

In India, BCG was first introduced in a limited scale in 1948 and became a part of the National TB Control Programme in 1962.

In children, BCG provides strong protection against severe forms of TB. This protective effect is far more variable in adolescents and adults, ranging from 0–80%.

BCG also protects against respiratory and bacterial infections of the newborns, and other mycobacterial diseases like leprosy and Buruli’s ulcer.

It is also used as an immunotherapy agent in cancer of the urinary bladder and malignant melanoma.

Varying Efficacy of BCG:

BCG works well in some geographic locations and not so well in others. Generally, the farther a country is from the equator, the higher is the efficacy.

It has a high efficacy in the UK, Norway, Sweden and Denmark; and little efficacy in countries on or near the equator like India, Kenya and Malawi, where the burden of TB is higher. These regions also have a higher prevalence of environmental mycobacteria.It is believed that these may interfere with the protective effect against TB.

What is tuberculosis (TB)?

TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, belonging to the Mycobacteriaceae family.

In humans, TB most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB), but it can also affect other organs (extra-pulmonary TB).

Unlike other historically dreaded diseases like smallpox, leprosy, plague and cholera that have been either eradicated or controlled to a large extent, TB continues to be a major public health problem in the world.

According to the WHO’s Global TB Report, 10 million people developed TB in 2019 with 1.4 million deaths. India accounts for 27% of these cases.

Way Forward:

India is committed to eliminate TB as a public health problem by 2025. To achieve this goal, we would not only need better diagnostics and drugs but also more effective vaccines.

We need to build on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, and replicate the successes achieved especially in vaccine development and prepare to address the challenges faced in ensuring vaccine equity.

Renovated Jallianwala Bagh Complex

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present)

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the renovated Jallianwala Bagh complex in Amritsar on August 28, 2021.


The monument was first opened by then President Dr Rajendra Prasad on April 13, 1961, as a tribute to the victims of the massacre on April 13, 1919.

The central government set up the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust on May 1, 1951. The Prime Minister is the chairman, and permanent members include the president of Indian National Congress, Chief Minister of Punjab, Governor of Punjab, Union Minister in charge of Culture, and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

What’s new at Jallianwala Bagh?

A 28-minute Sound and Light show re-enacting the events of April 13, 1919, will be shown every evening. A Salvation Ground has been built for visitors to sit in silence to honour the martyrs.

Several new sculptures of martyrs have come up.

Four new galleries have been created through adaptive re-use of underutilised buildings in the complex. The galleries depict the history of Punjab, history of the freedom movement, and the Gadhar movement.

It also has a sculpture of Guru Nanak Dev, Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur, and a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Why is there a controversy regarding the latest revamp?

The Jallianwala Bagh has undergone several repairs and touch-upsover the years. But the narrow passage leading to the Bagh, had remained untouched for almost 100 years. While many other things changed, the thin entrance made of Nanakshahi bricks through which Dyer’s soldiers marched into the Bagh, continued to evoke the horrors of that day. In July 2020, it was rebuilt into a gallery with murals, leaving no trace of the old passage.

The famous ‘Shahidi Khu’ or Martyrs Well, into which people jumped to escape the hail of bullets, is now enclosed in a glass shield — the decision has been criticised since it is perceived to restrict the view.

About the incident:

April 13, 1919, marked a turning point in the Indian freedom struggle. It was Baisakhi that day, a harvest festival popular in Punjab and parts of north India. Local residents in Amritsar decided to hold a meeting that day to discuss and protest against the confinement of Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew, two leaders fighting for Independence, and implementation of the Rowlatt Act, which armed the British government with powers to detain any person without trial.

The crowd had a mix of men, women and children. They all gathered in a park called the Jallianwala Bagh, walled on all sides but for a few small gates, against the orders of the British. The protest was a peaceful one, and the gathering included pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple who were merely passing through the park, and some who had not come to protest.

While the meeting was on, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, who had crept up to the scene wanting to teach the public assembled a lesson, ordered 90 soldiers he had brought with him to the venue to open fire on the crowd. Many tried in vain to scale the walls to escape. Many jumped into the well located inside the park.


Considered the ‘The Butcher of Amritsar’ in the aftermath of the massacre, General Dyer was removed from command and exiled to Britain.

Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, as a sign of condemnation, renounced their British Knighthood and Kaiser-i-Hind medal

In 1922, the infamous Rowlett Act was repealed by the British.

Indian supports Palestine peace process

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

In News:

India extended its support to restart the peace process between Israel and Palestine in a recent UN Security Council meeting.

More on this news:

India reiterated its commitment to ‘the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine, within secure, recognised and mutually agreed borders, living side by side with Israel in peace and security’

The issue of Afghanistan was also taken up at the meeting. A draft resolution is set to be taken up which seeks protection of civilians and security guarantees for humanitarian access from Taliban. The resolution will also be used to enforce a window of evacuation for foreign nationals who continue to remain stuck in Kabul.

India’s presidency of the UN Security Council is set to end this month. The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States names.

Israel- Palestine conflict– Historical Background:

The conflict has been ongoing for more than 100 years between Jews and Arabs over a piece of land between Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

It was between 1882 to 1948, when the Jews from around the world gathered in Palestine. This movement came to be known as

Then in 1917, Ottoman Empirefell after World War 1 and the UK got control over Palestine.

The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.

The Balfour Declarationwas issued after Britain gained control with the aim of establishing a home for the Jews in Palestine. However during that period the Arabs were in majority in Palestine.

Jews favored the idea while the Palestinians rejected it. Almost 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaustwhich also ignited further demand of a separate Jewish state.

Jews claimed Palestine to be their natural home while the Arabs too did not leave the land and claimed it.

The international community supported the Jews.

In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.

That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.

The creation of Israel and the ‘Catastrophe’:

It was in the year 1948 that Britain lifted its control over the area and Jews declared the creation of Israel. Although Palestinians objected, Jews did not back out which led to an armed conflict.

The neighboring Arabs also invaded and were thrashed by the Israeli troops. This made thousands of Palestinians flee their homes. This was called Al-Nakba, or the “Catastrophe”.

Israel had gained maximum control over the territory after this came to an end.

Jordanthen went on a war with Israel and seized control over a part of the land which was called the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza.

Jerusalem was divided between Israel in the West and Jordan in the East.However, no formal peace agreement was signed, each side continued to blame each other for the tension and the region saw more wars.

Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank, various areas of Syrian Golan Heights, Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in the year 1967.

Present scenario:

Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.

Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Tensions escalated in recent month over Israel’s actions concerning Al-Asqa mosque in East Jerusalem.

Leaded petrol eradicated, says UNEP

(GS-III: Environmental conservation)

In News:

The use of leaded petrol has been eradicated from the globe as per the observation made by UNEP.

More on this:

Achieving of this milestone will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths and save world economies over $2.4 trillion annually.

Algeria — the last country to use the fuel — exhausted its supplies last month.

India banned leaded petrol in March 2000.

Harmful effects of leaded petrol:

Lead exposure can have serious consequences for the health of children. At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may be left with mental retardation and behavioral disorders.

Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated that in 2017, lead exposure accounted for 1.06 million deaths and 24.4 million years of healthy life lost (disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)) worldwide due to long-term effects on health.

Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage.

About UNEP:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

It aims to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

The broad areas where UNEP focuses are:  climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, chemicals and waste, resource efficiency, and environment under review.

The UNEP is funded by voluntary contributions of its members.

It hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies, bringing together nations and the environmental community to tackle the greatest challenges of our time. These include the following:

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury
  • The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
  • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol
  • The Convention on Migratory Species
  • The Carpathian Convention
  • The Bamako Convention
  • The Tehran Convention