Current affairs Oct 3

VAIBHAV 2020 Summit

  • Prime Minister inaugurated the Vaishvik Bhartiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) Summit, a global virtual summit of overseas and resident Indian Researchers and Academicians.
  • VAIBHAV Summit 2020 celebrates Science and Innovation from India and World.
  • He mentioned mission to eliminate tuberculosis in India by 2025, which is five years before the global target.
  • VAIBHAV presents a great opportunity to connect and contribute; when India prospers, the world also takes a lead.  
  • Calling VAIBHAV as a confluence of great minds, he said that these efforts will help create an ideal research ecosystem, merging tradition with modernity to create prosperity. 
  • These exchanges will certainly be useful and will also lead to useful collaborations in teaching and research. 
  • These efforts of the scientists and researchers will help create an ideal research ecosystem. 
  • Realising the dream of building a secure and prosperous future for the coming generations. India wants top-class scientific research to help our farmers.
  • The deliberations will be held from 3rd October to 25th October 2020, with consolidation of outcomes on 28th October. 
  • The summit will conclude on the occasion of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Jayanti i.e. 31st October 2020. 
  • The initiative involves multiple levels of interactions among the overseas experts and Indian counterparts over a month-long series of webinars and video conferences. 
  • The broad S&T areas that will be discussed during the summit includes 
  • computational sciences, electronics & communication, quantum technologies, photonics, aerospace technologies, medical sciences, biotechnology,
  •  agriculture, material & processing technologies, advanced manufacturing, earth sciences, energy, environmental sciences, and management.
  • The aim of the summit is to bring out a comprehensive roadmap leveraging the expertise and knowledge of global Indian researchers for addressing emerging challenges for universal development. 
  • The summit will reflect on the collaboration and cooperation instruments with academia and scientists in India and abroad. 
  • The goal is to create an ecosystem of Knowledge and Innovation in the country through global outreach.


Ayush Grid

  • The operational integration of Ayush Grid, the emerging IT backbone for AYUSH Sector with the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), was endorsed at a high level meeting at Ministry of AYUSH recently. 
  • This integration will be immensely beneficial to the public for availing varied options for their health needs. 
  • The integration will also accelerate the mainstreaming of Ayush disciplines of healthcare.
  • It was observed that in the last two years Ayush Grid project succeeded in bridging the digital gap in the Ayush Sector and also in implementing various critical healthcare IT projects.
  • The Ayush Grid project was initiated by the Ministry in 2018 for creating a comprehensive IT backbone for the entire sector. 
  • Digitalization of the entire Ayush Sector will lead to its transformation in fields of health care delivery at all levels, including research, education, various health programmes and drug regulations. 
  • This will be beneficial for all stakeholders of Ayush including citizens of the country and in turn will help to achieve various national and global goals in healthcare.
  • The most significant among the different initiatives implemented so far in the project is the AYUSH Health Management Information System (AHMIS).
  • The Ministry is also preparing to deploy AHMIS to Ayush units outside the Central Government umbrella, so that the entire Ayush Sector can make use of it.
  • Another success of Ayush Grid is the development and implementation of the Ayush Sanjivani mobile app and the Yoga locator mobile app.
  • The Ayush Grid project was able to support such critical initiatives related to managing the health crisis, despite various lock down related constraints.
  • Under the Ayush Grid, a customised IT course for Ayush Professionals was developed in collaboration with C-DAC, Pune. 
  • The other successful projects implemented as part of Ayush Grid include the Telemedicine programme launched with C-DAC on 1st November 2019 as a pilot project in Siddha system. 
  • Since lock down, it is functional for Homoeopathy and Ayurveda systems also.
  • An ambitious project to support Ayush education is being launched with the name Ayush Next. This has been developed, and is expected to go online soon.
  • The components of Ayush Grid initiative will cover all the verticals of the Ayush Sector, like Health Services, Education, Ayush Research, Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes, Training Programmes, Citizen Centric Services, Drug Licencing Portal, and Media Outreach.

Data Governance Quality Index

  • Department of Fertilizers under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has been ranked 2nd amongst the 16 Economic Ministries / Departments and 3rd out of the 65 Ministries / Departments with a score 4.11 on a scale of 5 on Data Governance Quality Index (DGQI),
  • A Survey conducted by Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), Niti Aayog to assess different Ministries /Departments’ performance on the implementation of Central Sector Schemes (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
  • The DMEO, Niti Aayog has undertaken DGQI exercise: Self-assessment based review of data preparedness levels across Ministries / Departments to produce a DGQI score card. 
  • Accordingly a survey was initiated with the objective of assessing data preparedness of Ministries / Departments on a standardized framework to drive healthy competition among them and promote cooperative peer learning from best practices. 
  • In this survey, an online questionnaire was prepared under six major themes of DGQI: 
  • Data Generation; 
  • Data Quality; 
  • Use of Technology; 
  • Data Analysis, Use and Dissemination; 
  • Data Security and HR Capacity and 
  • Case Studies. 
  • Weightages were assigned to the themes and sub-weightages to each question within every theme to arrive at final DGQI scores ranging between 0 to 5 for every scheme. 
  • To avoid straight-forward irrelevant comparisons, Ministries / Departments were classified in 6 (six) categories: Administrative, Strategic, Infrastructure, Social, Economic and Scientific.



  • The second edition of Indian Navy (IN) – Bangladesh Navy (BN) Bilateral Exercise Bongosagar, held in Northern Bay of Bengal on 03 October 2020. 
  • Exercise Bongosagar, whose first edition was held in 2019, is aimed at developing inter-operability and joint operational skills through conduct of a wide spectrum of maritime exercises and operations. 
  • In this edition of Exercise Bongosagar, ships from both navies were participated in surface warfare drills, seamanship evolutions and helicopter operations. 
  • This exercise will be followed by the 3rd edition of IN – BN Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) in Northern Bay of Bengal from 4 to 5 October 2020, 
  • wherein IN and BN units will undertake joint patrolling along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). 
  • Conduct of CORPATs has strengthened understanding between both the navies and instituted measures to stop conduct of unlawful activities.
  • Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kiltan, an indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette and INS Khukri, an indigenously built Guided-Missile Corvette are participating 
  • along with Bangladesh Naval Ship (BNS) Abu Bakr, a Guided-Missile Frigate and BNS Prottoy, a Guided-Missile Corvette. 
  • In addition to ships, Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies and integral helicopter(s) would also be participating in the exercise.
  • This edition of Exercise Bongosagar assumes greater significance since it is being conducted during Mujib Barsho, the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • Exercise Bongosagar  and IN – BN CORPAT will be undertaken over three days and reflects the priority that 
  • Indian Navy accords to Bangladesh Navy as part of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region).

Telemedicine for Corona Care from Home

  • The researchers at IIT Kharagpur’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering have developed a telemedicine system, iMediX.
  • The system integrates homecare with healthcare services from the hospital. 
  • Considering the emergent needs due to the pandemic, the system facilitates critical health care support to the patients at their doorsteps through remote consultation by a physician. 
  • The system is accessible by any standard internet browser and also from a mobile device.
  • In this system, a patient signs up to get an account by providing his/her Email ID or Mobile number. 
  • Then the patient can make a request for consultation by choosing a Department of the hospital, entering the chief complaints and uploading necessary scanned medical records. 
  • The hospital administration processes the request and assigns a doctor.
  • Doctor consults the patient using video conferencing and advises the patient by writing a prescription, which is sent by Email to the patient.
  • iMedX is being adopted for public use right at its home, IIT Kharagpur on-campus healthcare system.



  • In a move to help geriatric care, students of IIT Kharagpur have built an app which will inform the caregiver when the elderly person falls down with the exact location.
  • Named ‘CARE4U’ the android-based app will connect the caregiver to the elderly person.
  • The network-based fall detection algorithm in the app installed on the phone of the elderly can detect whether the elderly has fallen down.
  • If there is a fall, it automatically calls the caregiver and emergency services along with the exact location of the elderly person.
  • CARE4U can also detect emotions and whenever the elderly opens the app, the phone takes his picture and a mood index is calculated.
  • This detects whether the person is sad or not and automatically updates the caregiver with the time stamp. 
  • The caregiver can check what mood the senior citizen has been through in the day.
  • To make this feature more effective the team has developed a cognitive intelligent chatbot for the elderly person to engage with.
  • Except for the chatbot, all other machine learning models run on the mobile itself, so no cloud service is needed. 
  • Even if there is no internet connection, all other features such as fall detection, emotion detection will work.
  • It can also do a plethora of other day-to-day activities like make a call, send a text, book a cab and so on.
  • It has a ‘Medicine Reminder’ feature to remind both the elderly as well as the caregiver that it is time for the former to take medicine.

Additional borrowing permission to two more States

  • Ministry of Finance has granted additional borrowing permission to two more States, Uttar Pradesh & Andhra Pradesh for successfully undertaking reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS) and Ease of Doing Business. 
  • This will make an additional amount of Rs. 7,376 crore available to these States.
  • Uttar Pradesh has become the 6th State to complete the reform process in PDS to implement One Nation One Ration Card System. 
  • One Nation One Ration Card System ensures availability of ration to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other welfare schemes, 
  • especially to the migrant workers and their families, at any Fair Price Shop (FPS) across the country. 
  • It also enables better targeting of beneficiaries, elimination of bogus/ duplicate/ineligible card holders. 
  • Thus,One Nation One Ration Card enhances welfare and reduces leakage.
  • Department of Food and Public Distribution is the nodal Ministry to assess reform claims of the States and recommend release of additional borrowing limit of 0.25 percent of GSDP.
  • The Department of Food and Public Distribution has confirmed that the States of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Goa, Karnataka and Tripura have successfully carried out aforesaid reforms in PDS and implemented One Nation One Ration Card System.
  • Andhra Pradesh has became the 1st State in the country to successfully undertake “Ease of Doing Business”reforms.
  • Ease of Doing Business is an important indicator of an investment friendly business climate in the country. 
  • Improvement in the ease of doing business will enable faster future growth of the state economy. 

100-days Mission Mode Campaign to provide potable piped water supply

  • A special 100-days campaign to provide potable piped water supply in all schools, ‘Anganwadi’ centres and other public institutions across the country was launched by the Centre on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.
  • These facilities, under the ongoing national ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ (JJM), will be operated and maintained by the Gram Panchayat or its sub-committee — village water and sanitation committee or ‘Paani Samiti’.
  • As a nodal agency, the public health engineering department of states will spearhead the campaign by involving 
  • Gram Panchayats and connect all public institutions including schools, health centres and Anganwadi centres in villages with potable piped water supply within 100 days.
  • The Prime Minister had on September 29 appealed to the states to make best use of this campaign to ensure provision of potable piped water supply in these public institutions.
  • The JJM, launched in August last year, aims at universal coverage of provision of tap water connection to every rural household in the country by 2024. 


Swachh Bharat Puraskar

  • The Swachh Bharat Diwas, 2020 was celebrated on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti with the distribution of Swachh Bharat Puraskar by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Top Awards were conferred upon Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab & others. 
  • Gujarat was felicitated with the first prize in the state category, 
  • Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu as best district, 
  • Khachrod, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh as best block and 
  • Chinnaur, (Salem) as the best Gram Panchayat for Swachh Sundar Samudayik Shauchalaya (SSSS) campaign organized from 1st Nov 2019 to 30th April 2020.
  • For Samudayik Shauchalaya Abhiyan (SSA) held from 15th June to 15th Sep 2020, 
  • top awards went to Uttar Pradesh (GKRA- Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan) and 
  • Gujarat (Non-GKRA) in State category, 
  • Prayagraj (GKRA) and Bareilly (Non-GKRA) in district category and Borigaon, Bongaigaon, Assam received the best GP award.
  • For the week-long Gandagi Se Mukt (GMB) campaign launched by Prime Minister, on 8th August 2020, 
  • Telangana received the top award for maximum Shramdaan participation, 
  • Haryana was felicitated with the top award for declaring maximum ODF (‘Open defecation free) Plus villages and Moga district, 
  • Punjab received the top award for maximum IEC (Information, Education and Communication) messages through wall paintings.
  • The occasion observed the screening of Swachh Bharat Diwas 2020 short film and launch of the e-book on Samudayik Shauchalaya Abhiyan (SSA) & Swachh Sundar Samudayik Shauchalaya (SSSS) campaign, followed by the Swachh Bharat Diwas Awards distribution.


Atal Tunnel at Rohtang

  • Prime Minister, while inaugurating the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh, said it would provide new force to the country’s border infrastructure and hit out at previous governments for not paying heed to border development projects.
  • In 2002, Atalji laid the foundation stone for the approach road of this tunnel.
  • There was a direct relationship between connectivity and the country’s development. 
  • More connectivity means more development. Especially in border areas, the development of connectivity is related to the nation’s security needs.
  • The 9.02-km-long tunnel built by the BRO connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti Valley, providing all-weather connectivity to the landlocked district, which remains closed for nearly six months in a year due to the Rohtang Pass being completely snow-clad between November and April.
  • Before the construction of the tunnel, the Lahaul Valley remained closed for vehicular movement due to bad weather conditions, but now the people of Lahaul Valley will get access to round-the-year transport.
  • The tunnel reduces the road distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the time by four to five hours. It is expected to boost tourism and winter sports in the region.
  • The tunnel is also significant from the military logistics point of view and will provide better connectivity to Ladakh for the armed forces.
  • The tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3,000 m (10,000 feet) from the mean sea level.
  • The South Portal of the tunnel is located at a distance of 25 km from Manali at an altitude of 3,060 m, 
  • while the North Portal is located near village Teling at Sissu in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3,071 m. 
  • It is a horseshoe-shaped, single-tube, double-lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 m. 
  • The Union Cabinet in 2019 decided to name it ‘Atal Tunnel’ to honour the contribution made by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 
  • The decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken in 2000, when the late Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. 
  • The foundation stone for the tunnel was laid by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on June 28, 2010.

CBD oil

  • Earlier this week, late actor Irrfan Khan’s wife Sutapa Sikdar made an appeal to legalise CBD oil in India. 
  • Her appeal followed the criticism of actor Rhea Chakrabaorty after it was reported that she had administered CBD oil, used as a pain reliever for some, to Sushant Singh Rajput when he was alive. 

What is CBD oil?

  • CBD oil is an extract from the cannabis plant. 
  • The two main active substances in it are cannabidiol or CBD and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. 
  • The high that is caused by the consumption of cannabis is due to THC. 
  • CBD, however, does not cause a “high” or any form of intoxication. 
  • CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.

What are the effects of Cannabidiol?

  • Cannabidiol has effects on the brain, preventing the breakdown of a chemical that aggravates pain and affects mood, and mental function. 
  • It can reduce pain and anxiety. It also reduces psychotic symptoms associated with conditions such as schizophrenia as well as epilepsy.

How is CBD oil used?

  • CBD is extracted from marijuana plants as either an oil or powder. 
  • These can be mixed into creams or gels. 
  • They can be put into capsules and taken orally, or rubbed on your skin. 
  • All topicals (cannabis-infused products) should be applied directly to the site of inflammation or pain to work in a specific area.

Is CBD oil helpful in the treatment of cancer?

  • There is not enough robust scientific evidence to prove that CBD oil can safely and effectively treat cancer. 
  • A study from the European Journal of Pain showed that CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. 
  • CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain associated with cancer.

Is CBD oil legal in India?

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) outlaws the recreational use of cannabis. 
  • The NDPS Act, however, does not apply to the leaves and seeds of cannabis plants.
  • In case the CBD is extracted from the leaves of the cannabis, then technically it is not illegal. 
  • CBD oil manufactured under a licence issued by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 can be legally used. 
  • However, the use of cannabis as a medicine is not much prevalent in India.



Assam Gurkhas seek gazette notification for safeguards

  • The Gurkha community in Assam has sought gazette notification on the issue of including it for constitutional safeguards according to Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord.
  • Clause 6 of the Accord that ended the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation from 1979-1985 envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for protecting, preserving and promoting the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
  • A 14-member panel headed by retired judge Biplab Kumar Sharma had defined “Assamese people” as those who have been citizens of India residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951.
  • The Clause 6 committee report did not mention anything about the constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards of local Gorkhas who fought for Assam against the Burmese invaders in 1826 resulting in the Treaty of Yandaboo.
  • The Gurkhas were permanently settled in the scheduled areas in the last part of the 18th century as grazers and cultivators and were accordingly given permits. 
  • They were declared as protected class by the British in the tribal belts and blocks according to the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886.
  • In January 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs formed the Clause 6 panel headed by retired bureaucrat M.P. 
  • Bezbaruah but six of the nine members named quit. 
  • The panel was reconstituted almost six months later, on July 16.
  • On February 25, the committee submitted the report to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for handing it over to Union Home Minister.
  • But some members of the committee on August 11 made their “confidential” report public because of the government’s “disinterest” in processing their recommendations.
  • Among the suggestions made by the panel were sealing of the India-Bangladesh border, reservation of 80-100% of the seats in Parliament from Assam for the Assamese people and the creation of an Upper House in the Assembly.


No police officer can force ‘Good Samaritan’ to disclose identity

  • No police officer or any other person shall compel a Good Samaritan to disclose his/her name, identity, address or any such other personal details, says the rules notified by the Centre to protect people who help accident victims.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified the rules for the protection of Good Samaritans. 
  • A ‘Good Samaritan’ is a person who voluntarily comes forward to administer immediate assistance or emergency care to a person injured in an accident.
  • However, he may voluntarily choose to disclose the same.
  • The rules also provide that every public and private hospital should publish a charter in Hindi, English and vernacular language, at the entrance or other conspicuous location, and on their website, stating the rights of Good Samaritans under the Act and the rules made thereunder.
  • The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, inserted a new section 134A, viz. 
  • “Protection of good Samaritans” which provides that a Good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of the victim of an accident involving a motor vehicle, where such injury or death resulted from the Good Samaritan’s negligence in acting or failing to act while rendering emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance.


International Day of Non-Violence – 2 October

  • The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.
  • According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. 
  • The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.


Jail period or gravity of crime alone can’t decide early release denial

  • The length of a prison sentence or the gravity of the crime cannot be the sole basis for denying a convict premature release from jail, the Supreme Court has held in a judgment.
  • A three-judge Bench said the proclivity to commit a crime upon release “must be based on antecedents as well as the conduct of the prisoner while in jail, and not merely on his age or apprehensions of the victims and witnesses”.
  • Society has a right to lead a peaceful and fearless life, without free-roaming criminals creating havoc in the lives of ordinary peace-loving citizens. 
  • But equally strong is the foundation of reformative theory which propounds that a civilised society cannot be achieved only through punitive attitudes and vindictiveness.
  • The court said reformative justice should not merely focus on public harmony, but should foster brotherhood and mutual acceptability. 
  • First-time offenders should especially be given a second chance at life.


Issues of consent, reliability in narco and polygraph tests

What are polygraph and narcoanalysis tests?

  • A polygraph test is based on the assumption that physiological responses that are triggered when a person is lying are different from what they would be otherwise.
  • Instruments like cardio-cuffs or sensitive electrodes are attached to the person, and variables such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, change in sweat gland activity, blood flow, etc., are measured as questions are put to them.
  • A numerical value is assigned to each response to conclude whether the person is telling the truth, is deceiving, or is uncertain.
  • A test such as this is said to have been first done in the 19th century by the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, who used a machine to measure changes in the blood pressure of criminal suspects during interrogation.
  • Narcoanalysis, by contrast, involves the injection of a drug, sodium pentothal, which induces a hypnotic or sedated state in which the subject’s imagination is neutralised, and they are expected to divulge information that is true.
  • The drug, referred to as “truth serum” in this context, was used in larger doses as anaesthesia during surgery, and is said to have been used during World War II for intelligence operations.
  • However, neither method has been proven scientifically to have a 100% success rate, and remain contentious in the medical field as well.

Are Indian investigators allowed to put accused through these tests?

  • In ‘Selvi & Ors vs State of Karnataka & Anr’ (2010), a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal ruled that no lie detector tests should be administered “except on the basis of consent of the accused”.
  • Those who volunteer must have access to a lawyer, and have the physical, emotional, and legal implications of the test explained to them by police and the lawyer.
  • It said that the ‘Guidelines for the Administration of Polygraph Test on an Accused’ published by the National Human Rights Commission in 2000, must be strictly followed. 
  • The subject’s consent should be recorded before a judicial magistrate.
  • The results of the tests cannot be considered to be “confessions”, because those in a drugged-induced state cannot exercise a choice in answering questions that are put to them.
  • However, any information or material subsequently discovered with the help of such a voluntarily-taken test can be admitted as evidence.
  • Thus, if an accused reveals the location of a murder weapon in the course of the test, and police later find the weapon at that location, the statement of the accused will not be evidence, but the weapon will be.
  • A forcible intrusion into a person’s mental processes is also an affront to human dignity and liberty, often with grave and long-lasting consequences.
  •  forcing an individual to undergo these tests amounts to an “unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty”, but had left scope for “voluntary administration” of these techniques if the individuals gave consent.
  • The court examined the scope of Article 20(3), the right against self-incrimination, which states that no accused can be compelled to be a witness against himself.


Why do some people with Covid-19 develop severe inflammation?

  • A new study addresses this question by looking at the molecular structure and sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the key part of the virus that causes Covid-19.
  • Symptoms of a newly identified condition in paediatric Covid-19 patients, known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MISC), include persistent fever and severe inflammation that can affect a host of bodily systems. 
  • While rare, the syndrome can be serious or even fatal.
  • Researchers created a computer model of the interaction between the SARS-CoV2 spike protein and the receptors on human T cells. 
  • These T cells are part of the immune system and normally help the body fight off infection, 
  • but when they are activated in abnormally large quantities, they produce massive amounts of inflammatory cytokines, leading to a “cytokine storm“.
  • The computer model identified a specific region on the spike protein with super-antigenic features — which can lead to an abnormal immune response. 
  • The researchers compared this region to a bacterial protein that causes toxic shock syndrome and found striking similarities in both sequence and structure.
  • Also, the proposed SARS-CoV-2 super-antigen showed a high affinity for binding with T cell receptors — the first step towards a runaway immune response.
  • The discovery of protein-level similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and the bacterial structure that causes toxic shock syndrome, the researchers said, may have opened up new avenues for treating not only MIS-C patients, but also adults with Covid-19 infection experiencing cytokine storm.


What Happens If Donald Trump Becomes Seriously Ill?

  • President Donald Trump  announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19. 
  • The 25th amendment of the US constitution lays down a clear succession plan if a president suddenly dies, resigns or is incapacitated while still in office. 
  • The amendment was ratified by Congress in 1963 following the assassination of former President John F Kennedy.
  • As per Section 3 of the 25th amendment, if Trump’s condition were to deteriorate to a point where he is unable to carry out his responsibilities as President, his Vice President Mike Pence can temporarily assume office. 
  • Once Trump recovers, he can then reclaim his position.
  • In order to hand over power to the vice president while he is recovering, Trump will have to send a written declaration stating that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” to the Senate’s President as well as speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Under Section 4 of the 25th amendment, the Vice President and a majority of either the Cabinet or any other body established by law, can also 
  • declare the president as “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” by sending a written declaration to Senate’s President as well as speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • The 25th amendment has been invoked only three times in US history by two different presidents but for the same reason — a colonoscopy.
  • In a highly unlikely scenario where both the President and Vice President were to contract the illness and pass away, the constitution also lays down a clear line of succession. 
  • According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, if both Trump and Pence are suddenly incapacitated, US House of Representatives Speaker and California Democrat Nancy Peolosi will take over as commander-in-chief of the United States.
  • If Donald Trump or any other candidate were to pass away before the election then it would be up to their political party to choose their successor.
  • While the party is highly likely to choose the vice presidential candidate as the new presidential nominee, the procedure is not set in stone and the party also has the option of choosing someone else entirely.


New Version Of Nuclear-capable Shaurya Missile

  • India successfully test fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable hypersonic missile ‘Shaurya’ with a strike range of around 1,000 km from a test range in Odisha.
  • ‘Shaurya’, which is the land variant of India’s K-15 missile, has a strike range of 700 km to 1000 km and is capable of carrying payloads of 200 kg tO 1000 kg.
  • The surface-to-surface tactical missile.
  • Its two stages use solid propellants.
  • Its first stage ignited then and fell off. The second stage went into action after this.
  • The missile can be launched from silos and canisters mounted on a truck and fixed on the ground.
  • Shaurya” missiles can kept in locations where the enemies would not be able to detect them. Besides, it cannot be detected by satellite imaging.
  • India also successfully test fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile which can hit targets at over 400 km strike range which is at least more than 100 kms from the previous capability of the missile.


Kalpana Chawla Cygnus spacecraft

  • The International Space Station (ISS) is gearing up to receive the flight which will supply thousands of kilograms essential space supplies and related-equipments to the astronauts. 
  • Northrop Grumman launched another flight to the International Space Station, this time named after late astronaut ‘Kalpana Chawla’.
  • The Cygnus vehicle S.S Kalpana Chawla along with Antares rocket for NG-14 mission was launched.
  • Northrop Grumman further affirmed that they wanted to name their next Cygnus vehicle after someone who has played an instrumental role in space exploration and then decided to name it after Kalpana Chawla on her family’s permission.
  • The Cygnus vehicle will make an approach towards the space station from 10 meters below. 
  • Thereafter, the astronauts will connect the Cygnus to International Space Station through its robotic arm of Candarm2.
  • This space vehicle is also carrying ‘SharkSat’ which will test emerging technologies for 5G networks.
  • In the end Cygnus will be detached through Candarm2 and will be going to conduct a ‘Sapphire’ experimentation for several weeks. 
  • As a part of the experiment, it will purposely initiate a fire in a safe and contained manner. 
  • The aim behind the experiment is to understand and infer the nature of fire and its behavior in Space.
  • S.S Kalpana Chawla Cygnus spacecraft is made by Thale Alena Space in Turin, Italy and has a composition of pressurized cargo module. 
  • The vehicle consists of two solar arrays, navigation equipment and propulsion element. 
  • The launch of the vehicle was carried out by Antares 230+ rocket, parts of which have been built by Yuzmash factory in Ukraine.


 Purified Antisera

  • The ICMR in collaboration with a Hyderabad-based biopharmaceutical company has developed “highly purified antisera” prepared by injecting inactivated SARS-CoV2 in horses, which can be a potential treatment for COVID-19.
  • The ‘antisera’ is yet to undergo human clinical trials to establish its safety and efficacy and Drugs Controller General of India would be approached soon in this regard.
  • Antisera are blood serum high in antibodies against specific antigens and are injected in humans to help kickstart the immune system to fight specific infections.
  • Antisera are blood serum high in antibodies against specific antigens and are injected in humans to help kickstart the immune system to fight specific infections.
  • Further, in-vivo testing for efficacy of this indigenously developed, cost effective product will pave the way to clinical evaluation.
  • Additionally, being a donor independent method, this may prove as an efficient alternative to convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
  • Earlier such measures were used for controlling several viral and bacterial infections.  
  • Although, plasma recovered from patients experiencing COVID-19 could serve similar purpose, the profile of antibodies, their efficacy and concentration keep varying from one patient to another and therefore make it an unreliable clinical tool for patient management,” the ICMR said.
  • “Standardization achievable through equine sera based treatment modality thus stands out as yet another remarkable public health initiative supported by ICMR in the time of COVID-19,” it said.
  • As part of the study, 10 healthy horses were immunized with inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus and after 21 days of immunization, plasma samples were tested.
  • The results of the plasma samples indicated presence of indicated the presence of SARS-Co-V2 specific IgG antibodies as detected in ELISA with neutralizing capacity.

State can’t term economic decline due to pandemic a ‘public emergency’

  • The State cannot declare the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic a “public emergency”to curtail the rights of people, the Supreme Court said.
  • The pandemic had not resulted in an ‘internal disturbance’ of a nature that posed a ‘grave emergency’ whereby the security of India was threatened.
  • The sweeping powers of the State to declare a public emergency could only be wielded in case of “threat to the security of India or a part of the territory must be caused by war, external aggression or an internal disturbance.
  • The economic slowdown created by the COVID-19 pandemic does not qualify as an internal disturbance threatening the security of the State…
  • Unless the threshold of an economic hardship is so extreme that it leads to disruption of public order and threatens the security of India or 
  • of a part of its territory, recourse cannot be taken to such emergency powers which are to be used sparingly under the law.
  • The verdict dealt with blanket notifications issued by the Gujarat government denying factory workers overtime wages during the lockdown period from April to July. 
  • It did this by invoking its powers of declaring a public emergency under Section 5 of the Factories Act. The trade unions appealed to the Supreme Court for relief.
  • The emergency powers under Article 352 of the Constitution had been only used thrice before. 
  • During the Chinese aggression in 1962, when hostilities broke out with Pakistan in 1971 and in 1975 when the Indira Gandhi government declared that a 
  • “grave emergency exists whereby the security of India is threatened by ‘internal disturbance’.”
  • The court said the post Emergency days saw the enactment of the 44th Amendment to the Constitution, 
  • which mandated that “internal disturbance” should reach the stage of “armed rebellion” threatening national security in order to declare a state of public emergency.
  • The sharp economic decline posed no such threat, the court concluded. 
  • It used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to direct the payment of overtime wages to all eligible factory workers.



Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s Titan moon

  • Nasa has delayed the launch of its Dragonfly rotorcraft by 12 months. 
  • Citing budget pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the agency’s planetary science division will now target 2027 to launch the mission to Titan, Saturn’s mysterious moon.
  • Titan is unique because it is the only moon in the solar system to possess a dense atmosphere. 
  • Its nitrogen-rich atmosphere contains clouds of methane, which can fall as rain or even snow.. It is now expected to arrive in 2036.
  • Other organic molecules in its atmosphere have led researchers to think Titan may resemble the Earth billions of years ago, before life began. 
  • Dragonfly is designed to investigate Titan to perhaps shed light on the origin of life on Earth.
  • It will land in the equatorial dune fields of the moon, known as the Shangri-La region. 
  • Using its eight rotor blades, it will then fly to dozens of locations over 2.7 years, covering a distance of more than 109 miles (175km) – nearly double the distance travelled by all the Mars rovers combined.
  • Dragonfly was selected for implementation in June 2019. 
  • At the time, the launch was scheduled for 2026, which meant arrival in 2034


kharai camels

  •  Their name is derived from the local word khara, meaning saline. 
  • During the rainy season, they swim along the Gulf of Kutch, an inlet of the Arabian Sea, to small forest islands and graze on mangroves and other saline-loving plants.
  • Their gently padded hooves help them navigate the wet and salty coastal land with ease and they can swim up to three kilometres (1.8 miles). 
  • Immediately after grazing, they drink the rainwater collected in the depressions of the islands. 
  • But kharai camels are disappearing. 
  • Although exact numbers are hard to find – kharai camels were only recognised as a separate breed in 2015 – local nonprofit Sahjeevan estimates that there were more than 10,000 in Gujarat about a decade ago. 
  • Now there are fewer than 4,500. 
  • Rapid industrialisation in the mangrove swamps and erratic rainfall are destroying the habitat kharai camels rely on for food, and pushing this unique breed to extinction, warn conservationists.
  • The companies create salt pans by restricting the entry of tidal water in the mangroves. 
  • This dries up the plants and eventually kills them. Power plants, ports and other industries are also responsible for the loss of the camels’ habitat.
  • The Indian government has taken notice of the camels’ decline and in 2015 designated them endangered. 
  • “Health camps” for the camels were set up, and nonprofit organisations were given funds to provide breeding and veterinary support to herders.
  • In September last year, herders also won a reprieve from India’s National Green Tribunal, which handles environmental disputes. 
  • It asked the Gujarat authorities to check any kind of obstruction in the flow of tidal creeks, and restore mangroves. 
  • t also warned against any kind of salt manufacturing activity in certain areas.