Current Affairs Nov 3

Why Loan Waivers Do Not Curb Farmer Suicides

  • Farm loan waiver to provide relief to distressed farmers has become a common practice.
  • But the waiving of loans has not really addressed the predicament of the small farmers, if we compare farmer suicides in a State that also offered farm loan waiver.
  • Ninety per cent of farmer suicides in India during 2014-2018 took place in five States — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • Together, these States have waived farmer loans worth ₹93,614 crore — that is 59 per cent of the total agricultural loan waiver in India during this period.
  • Out of total farmer suicides during this period, 41 per cent suicides took place in Maharashtra, which has waived ₹36,914 crore.
  • Interestingly, loan waiver is among the popular schemes even in States that have seen fewer farmer suicides compared to the top five States that reported the highest number.
  • States including Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab reported less than 1,000 farmer suicides during this period.
  • But Uttar Pradesh waived ₹25,233 crore while Rajasthan waived ₹15,603 crore in this period.


Illegal credit system

  • Farmer leaders and activists have pointed out that loan waivers have largely benefited big farmers and not the small and marginal farmers (SMF), who don’t get loans from financial institutions.
  • These farmers turn to private moneylenders. For example, the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra, known as farmer suicide zones, have a strong illegal credit system where thousands of moneylenders provide loans to farmers, charging excessive interest rates.
  • Many of these farmers have extremely small holdings and hence cannot approach the formal lending system.
  • According to the Ministry of Agriculture, roughly 85 per cent of the total operational holding in the country (about 43 per cent of the gross cropped area) is with the SMF category.
  • The SMF are the most affected during times of floods, droughts, and other natural calamities and majority of them are more prone to commit suicide due to pressure from the moneylenders.
  • The Central government too started the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN).
  • The scheme aims to provide a payment of ₹6,000 per year, in three 4-monthly instalments of ₹2,000, to farmers’ families, subject to certain exclusions relating to higher-income groups.

The way out

  • But experts say that such financial aid and loan waivers are not a lasting solution to farmer distress.
  • The government had undertaken a study “Farmers Suicide in India: Causes and Policy Prescription” in 2016-17 through the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru.
  • The study covered 13 States and concluded that frequent crop failure due to the vagaries of the monsoon, absence of assured water resources and attack of pest and diseases are the most important causes of farmer distress.
  • The study suggested that there is need to bring individual farmers under the ambit of crop insurance and insisted that judicious use of available water is required.
  • Government intervention through MSP covering the cost of production plus reasonable profit margin will also help.
  • Risk-hedging through crop and enterprise diversification should be encouraged to reduce farmers’ distress, aiming at sustainable income, and regulation of the informal credit market is necessary.




Poverty Alleviation through Scheme For Street Vendors

  • In a new scheme called the Pradhan Mantri Street Vendors Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), the central government is extending Rs 10,000 loan as working capital to street vendors to restart their businesses which have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The scheme is already a hit; so far 25 lakh street vendors have come forward seeking the loan.
  • The next stage being contemplated is to make a first-of-its-kind database of the beneficiaries of this scheme.
  • The scheme plans to extend the microcredit to over 50 lakh street vendors across India.
  • The government wants to use the data for comprehensive poverty alleviation.
  • However, there is hardly any comprehensive structured data on the socio-economic profile of street vendors and the street vending economy in India, even in government surveys like the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and the Economic Survey.
  • The NSSO, for instance, has defined street vendors through a category of “enterprises without fixed premises” among “Unincorporated Non-Agricultural Enterprises (excluding construction)”, in its 67-68th round report published in 2011-12.
  • The NSSO data estimated that around 200,000 women and 21,500 children were engaged in street vending.
  • A Study of Seven Cities’ that hawkers made less than the minimum wage in most cases and were continuously harassed by authorities for bribes. The study was prepared for the National Alliance of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), the foremost organised union of street vendors in the country.
  • The study on street vendors in seven cities shows that the average earnings range between Rs. 40 and Rs. 80 per day. Women vendors earn even less.
  • As the PM SVANidhi scheme brings in financial mainstreaming of street vendors through loans and digital payments, the government wants to formalise its understanding of this sector, and, based on that understanding, bring them under various schemes.
  • One of the benefits the scheme has already shown is that it is helping in mainstreaming and legitimising genuine street vendors who have not got valid identity cards simply because local bodies have not updated their lists for years.

Will this actually work towards poverty alleviation?

  • Becoming formal beneficiaries of various government schemes works as a big step towards entering the policy intervention network.
  • The PMSVANidhi is incentivising digital transactions by street vendors.
  • They will soon be given QR codes to receive payments through the government’s BHIM UPI app.
  • They are given cash-back for digital transactions too.
  • The idea is that with a trail of digital transactions against their names, they will create a formal transaction history in banks and will slowly build their creditworthiness for the future.




Mission Sagar – II

  • As part of ‘Mission Sagar-II’, Indian Naval Ship Airavat entered Port Sudan.
  • The Government of India is providing assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries to overcome natural calamities and COVID-19 pandemic, and towards the same INS Airavat is carrying a consignment of 100 Tonnes of food aid for the people of Sudan.
  • Mission Sagar-II, follows the first ‘Mission Sagar’ undertaken in May-June 2020, wherein India reached out to Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, and provided food aid and medicines. 
  • As part of Mission Sagar-II, Indian Naval Ship Airavat will deliver food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.
  • Mission Sagar-II, is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region ‘SAGAR’ and highlights the importance accorded by India to relations with her maritime neighbours and further strengthens the existing bond.



Aero India 2021

  • The 13th edition of ‘Aero India 2021’ will be held at Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bengaluru, (Karnataka) from 03 to 07 February 2021.
  • The five-day event will combine a major trade exhibition of the aerospace and defence industries.
  • Besides global leaders and big investors in aerospace industry, the show will also see participation by think-tanks from across the world.
  • Aero India will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of information, ideas and new developments in the aviation industry.
  • In addition to giving a fillip to the domestic aviation industry it would further the cause of Make in India.
  • In Aero India, close to 500 companies, both Indian and foreign, are expected to participate.



Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme

  • The Union Government has extended the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) by one month till November 30th, 2020, or till such time that an amount of Rs. 3 lakh crore is sanctioned under the Scheme, whichever is earlier.
  • In view of the opening up of various sectors in the economy and the expected increase in demand during the ongoing festive season.
  • This extension will provide a further opportunity to such borrowers who have not availed of the Scheme so far, to obtain credit under the Scheme.
  • The ECLGS was announced as part of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP)
  • to provide fully guaranteed and collateral free additional credit
  • to MSMEs, business enterprises, individual loans for business purposes and MUDRA borrowers,
  • to the extent of 20 per cent of their credit outstanding as on 29.2.2020.
  • Borrowers with credit outstanding up to Rs. 50 crore as on 29.2.2020, and with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 250 crore are eligible under the Scheme. 
  • Interest rates under the Scheme are capped at 9.25 per cent for Banks and FIs, and 14 per cent for NBFCs.
  • Tenor of loans provided under the Scheme is four years, including a moratorium of one year on principle repayment.
  • As per data uploaded by Member Lending Institutions on the ECLGS portal, an amount of Rs. 2.03 lakh crore has been sanctioned under the Scheme to 60.67 lakh borrowers so far, while an amount of Rs. 1.48 lakh crore has been disbursed.




Forest Fresh Naturals and Organics Products Unveiled

  • 100 additional products in the Forest Fresh Naturals and Organics range were unveiled in Tribes India Product Range.
  • Since October 26, 2020, Tribes India has been expanding its product range and catalogue by including 100 new products/ produce on a weekly basis.
  • These produce/ products will be available in 125 Tribes India outlets, Tribes India mobile vans and also on online platforms such as the Tribes India E-marketplace ( and e-tailers. 
  • Sourced from different parts of the country, among them products launched, include
  • Gora rice, roast and plain Kurthi dal, the tribes of Jharkhand;
  • a new range of beeswax cosmetic products, a range of Ragi products from the tribes of South India;
  • dry chilli, black rice, magic rice, Assam tea from Assam and the North East;
  • beautiful bamboo products, like floor lamps, table mats and baskets, honey Gulkand from the tribes of Uttarakhand.
  • Fresh produce such as Kinnauri walnuts, almonds and Rajma have been procured from the Kinnaur tribes in Himachal Pradesh make for some ethnic, natural products now available.
  • Different forms of rice (magic, red, gora, and black) from various tribes of India have also been launched.




Artificial Intelligence To Detect Cannabis Cultivation

  • With illicit cannabis cultivation continuing to flourish in remote areas of the State, the Odisha Space Application Centre (OSAC) has proposed to help law enforcement agencies detect the activity using remote sensing and artificial intelligence technologies.
  • The proposal submitted to the State Excise Department says high resolution satellite imagery can be used for detecting cultivation of hemp, a variety of cannabis.
  • Apart from developing mobile-based applications for field level officials,
  • OSAC has proposed to create a mechanism for citizen reporting by which people can take images and video of any illegal hemp cultivation and report through application.
  • Odisha is one of the leading cannabis producing States in India.
  • Though law enforcement agencies have intensified their raids, it is difficult to trace the cultivation on a real-time basis.
  • Cannabis is widely grown in forested regions of Malkangiri, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Kandhamal, Boudh, Rayagada, Gajapati, Angul and Nayagarh districts.




Fortified Rice

  • Chhattisgarh Chief Minister launched a scheme for distribution of fortified rice through Public distribution System (PDS) and other welfare initiatives for the people of Kondagaon district of the State on a pilot basis.
  • It will help in checking malnutrition and anemia.
  • The fortified rice is a mixture of iron, Vitamin B-12 and folic acid enriched fortified rice kernel (FRK), which meet the nutritional requirements in the diet and thereby help in controlling malnutrition and anemia.
  • It will be distributed through fair price shops.


Malabar Navy Exercise

What is Malabar Exercise?

  • It is a multilateral naval exercise that includes simulated war games and combat manoeuvres.
  • It started in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the Indian and US navies. Japan joined in 2015.
  • This year the exercise will be held in two phases, the first from Tuesday off the coast near Visakhapatnam, and the second in the Arabian Sea in mid-November.
  • Last year it was held in early September off the coast of Japan.
  • This year’s Malabar Exercise has been planned on a “non-contact-at sea” format keeping Covid-19 protocols in mind.

What is the difference this year?

  • For the first time in over a decade, the exercise will see the participation of all four Quad countries.
  • This will be the second time Australia will participate.
  • In 2007, there were two Malabar Exercises. 
  • The first was held off Okinawa island of Japan in the Western Pacific — the first time the exercise was held away from Indian shores — and the second in September 2007, off Visakhapatnam, with the Indian, Japanese, US, Australian and Singapore navies.
  • The following year, Australia stopped participating. Japan became a regular participant only in 2015, making it a trilateral annual exercise since then.

Why is Australias participation important?

  • As the standoff in eastern Ladakh continues, the participation of four large navies from the Indo-Pacific region will send a message to China.
  • It was the possibility of riling up China that had prevented India from expanding the Malabar Exercise, and from Australia joining it.

Does India conduct any other naval exercises with these countries?

  • Over the last few months, the Indian Navy has conducted a number of Passage Exercises (PASSEX) with navies from Japan, Australia and the US.
  • But those were basic exercises to increase operability between the navies, while Malabar involves simulated war games.
  • In late September, the Indian Navy conducted PASSEX with the Royal Australian Navy. 
  • In July, India conducted a PASSEX with the US carrier strike group led by one of the largest warships in the world, USS Nimitz.
  • The carrier strike group had been passing through the Indian Ocean Region after completing a freedom of navigation exercise in the South China Sea, which China is quite sensitive about.
  • A similar exercise was conducted with Japan Maritime Self Defence Force in June.





Day of the Dead Celebration

  • Every year, Mexico and parts of Latin America observe November 1 and 2 as Día de los Muertos (Spanish for “Day of the Dead”) – a holiday with prehispanic roots in which families honour the dead.
  • The two-day remembrance stands out because of its festive nature, where celebrations are replete with food and drink, and family members decorate the grave sites of their loved ones with candles, flower petals and sweets.
  • Ever since Spanish colonisation in the 16th century, Día de los Muertos has been made to coincide with the Catholic solemnities of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2).
  • In 2008, the celebration was added by UNESCO to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Day of the Dead

  • Since pre-colonial times, Mexico’s indigenous communities commemorated the transitory return of their deceased family members to Earth around this time of the year, at the harvesting season of the maize crop– the chief produce of Central America.
  • As per tradition, the spirits of children can rejoin their families on November 1, after the gates of heaven open at midnight on October 31. On the next day, November 2, the souls of adults can visit.
  • As the visiting deceased are believed to bring prosperity and a good maize harvest.
  • Among the special offerings made is the Pan de Muerto or “bread of the dead”, a traditional sweet bread that is baked for this occasion.
  • The breads and sweets are made in the shape of skeletons and skulls– symbols of death.





Water Risk

  • Nearly a third of the 100 cities in the world susceptible to ‘water risk’ — defined as losses from battling droughts to flooding — are in India, according to the WWF Water Risk Filter.
  • This is an online tool, co-developed by the WorldWide Fund for Nature that helps evaluate the severity of risk places faced by graphically illustrating various factors that can contribute to water risk.
  • Jaipur topped the list of Indian cities, followed by Indore and Thane. Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi also featured on the list.
  • The global list includes cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Mecca and Rio de Janeiro. China accounts for almost half the cities.
  • According to the scenarios in the WWF Water Risk Filter, the 100 cities that are expected to suffer the greatest rise in water risk by 2050 are home to at least 350 million people as well as nationally and globally important economies.
  • Globally, populations in areas of high-water risk could rise from 17% in 2020 to 51% by 2050.

Restore wetlands

  • As India rapidly urbanises, cities will be at the forefront both for India’s growth and for sustainability.
  • For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions.
  • Other than droughts and floods, the city’s risk levels were scored by evaluating several factors, including aridity, freshwater availability, climate change impact, the presence of regulatory laws governing water use, and conflict.
  • The Smart Cities initiative in India could offer an integrated urban water management framework combining urban planning, ecosystem restoration and wetland conservation for building future- ready, water smart and climate resilient cities.
  • Urban watersheds and wetlands were critical for maintaining the water balance of a city, flood cushioning, micro-climate regulation and protecting its biodiversity.





Sri Lanka is sending back waste to the UK

  • Sri Lanka has started shipping about 240 containers of hazardous waste, which includes body parts from mortuaries, back to Britain, following a two-year court battle.

The case

  • Last year, the Sri Lankan government asked Britain to take back over 100 containers that the latter had exported to Sri Lanka.
  • The containers were shipped in 2017, and contained clinical waste, used cushions and mattresses, plant parts, plastic waste and other hazardous and uncategorised waste.
  • They were inspected last July, when some officials complained about a horrible smell emanating from them. After this, Sri Lanka’s Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) filed a writ application against the illegal activity.

What were the issues raised by CEJ in its writ application?

  • The petition included issues such as severe damage to the environment and severe threats to the health of the general public of the country.
  • The application also noted that the waste was imported without adhering to the terms of the BASEL Convention, as per which Sri Lanka has restricted the import of hazardous waste.

But why does Sri Lanka import waste?

  • Some wealthy western nations ship their waste to developing countries since it is cheaper, helps to meet their recycling targets and also reduces domestic landfill.
  • On the other hand, for developing countries, taking this waste acts as a source of income.
  • But oftentimes, contaminated plastic and rubbish gets mixed with material meant for recycling, which eventually ends up in illegal processing centres.
  • Previously, Cambodia has sent back containers of waste back to the US and Canada.
  • The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have also reported similar incidents.

Whats happening now?

  • On October 28, a consignment of 21 containers that were illegally exported to Sri Lanka was received by England.
  • The UK’s Environment Agency will now confirm the types of illegal waste that was exported and investigate who shipped it.
  • The responsible individuals could face a custodial sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine and the recovery of money and assets gained through the course of the illegal activity.




Maharani Jindan Kaur

  • Maharani Jindan Kaur, the last wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is in news for the auction of some of her jewellery at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London earlier this week.

Who was Rani Jindan?

  • She was the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh empire, whose boundaries stretched from Kabul to Kashmir and the borders of Delhi.
  • She was also the mother of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last ruler of the empire, who was raised by the British.

When did she become the regent?

  • Duleep Singh was five years old when he was placed on the throne in 1843 after the death of two heirs to Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
  • Since he was just a child, Maharani Jindan was made the regent.
  • Not a rubber stamp, she took an active interest in running the kingdom, introducing changes in the revenue system.

When did the British imprison and exile her?

  • The British declared war on the Sikh empire in December 1845. After their victory in the first Anglo-Sikh war, they retained Duleep Singh as the ruler but imprisoned Jind Kaur.
  • Jindan believed that if united, Indian rulers could oust the British.
  • She was in touch with Bhai Maharaj Singh, who tried to rebel against the British after the annexation of the Sikh empire.
  • Escaped from prison on April 19, 1849, from Chunnar Fort in Uttar Pradesh.

Where did she go after escaping from Chunnar fort?

  • Maharani Jind Kaur arrived at Kathmandu on April 29, 1849, where she was given asylum by Jung Bahadur, the prime minister.
  • She was given a house on the banks of river Bhagmati.
  • She stayed in Nepal till 1860, where she continued to reach out to rebels in Punjab and Jammu-Kashmir.
  • Her letters trying to contact rebels detained in Allahabad fort were intercepted by the British government.
  • She established contact with Bhai Maharaj Singh in Jammu and Kashmir. She also sent emissaries to Maharaj Gulab Singh of Jammu.
  • At one point, the British caught some funds she was sending to rebels. T
  • hings reached such a pass that the British asked the Nepal PM to rein her in.

Did she ever reunite with Duleep Singh?

  • Maharani Jindan met Duleep Singh at Calcutta in April 1861. The British, ever suspicious of the maharani’s machinations, ordered then that she leave for London in May.
  • It was due to her influence that Duleep Singh, who had converted to Christianity, returned to Sikhism.
  • The long exile took a heavy toll on Maharani Jindan’s health.
  • She passed away in her sleep on August 1, 1863, two years after she walked into the Kensington Gardens in 1861.





Confessions In Narcotics Cases

  • The Supreme Court has ruled on a long-pending question of law on whether statements recorded under Section 67 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act can be admissible as confessional statements during criminal trials.
  • The majority judgment ruled that statements recorded by officers under the NDPS Act cannot be treated as confessions. 

Why is the Supreme Court judgment significant?

  • For over 30 years, multiple court judgments have seen contrary opinion on this point of law – whether officers invested powers under the NDPS Act can be considered “police officers” and therefore, whether statements given to them by accused persons can be considered as confessions.
  • One argument was that since the officers under Section 53 of the NDPS Act are not defined as “police officers” but are given the powers of an “officer-in-charge of a police station”, confessions given to them should be admissible in evidence. 
  • The officers in the specialised anti-drug probe agency, NCB, can be deputed from various departments of the government including Central Excise, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Customs.
  • The contrary opinion states that safeguards available for accused in international and Indian law, including the Constitution also extend to accused under the NDPS Act.
  • This includes any statement given by a person to a police officer cannot be considered as a confession and cannot be enough to prove guilt.
  • In 2013, the Supreme Court in ‘Tofan Singh vs State of Tamil Nadu’ considered arguments on these points and referred the case to a larger bench for consideration.
  • Arguments were concluded on September 16, and the order was delivered recently with a 2:1 majority.
  • While Justices Nariman and Sinha ruled that such statements under the NDPS Act cannot be used as confessional statements, Justice Banerjee has given a dissenting view.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • The majority view by Justices Nariman and Justices Sinha held that confessional statements made before an officer under section 53 of the NDPS Act if held as the basis to convict a person would be “a direct infringement” of constitutional guarantees”.
  • While it was submitted to the court that confessional statements before police officers were considered admissible in other special acts
  • including the now repealed Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and
  • Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA),
  • the court said that they were used with several safeguards contained in the Acts themselves.
  • The court also held that when a reference is made to “police officers”, it does not only mean a police officer belonging to a state police force but includes officers who may belong to other departments.
  • Considered the illicit drug trafficking being an organised crime involving hardened criminals.
  • “Over-emphasis on the principles of natural justice in drug-trafficking cases can be a major hindrance to the apprehension of offenders”.
  • Her judgment said that guilty offenders should not be allowed to go scott-free by reason “overemphasis on technicalities”.




Cellular Immunity Against The Virus

  • A new study carried on 100 Covid-19 positive people showed that patients who recuperate from the infection maintain a form of immunity against the virus for at least six months after infection.
  • For the study, the researchers enrolled more than 2,000 people working for Public Health England and asked them to donate blood every month. Of them, a total of 100 tested positive for the virus but none of them was hospitalised.
  • More than half (56 per cent) had symptoms.

Role of T Cells

  • The study stressed the role of T cells, cells that induce immunity response, which are pivotal in fighting the Covid-19 infection.
  • The researchers noted that all 100 people involved in the study had detectable T cells after six months.
  • However, the level of antibodies in some participants had dropped below detectable levels.
  • The researchers stated in their findings that people who have already had the virus are less likely to get reinfected if they come into contact with the virus again.
  • Earlier studies have also suggested that immunity against the virus may last up to five to six months, especially for people who have borne the severe outcomes of the infection.




Dementia And Headers In Football

  • Recently the news that England World Cup winner Bobby Charlton, regarded England’s greatest, had developed dementia.
  • Former professional footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from dementia… five-fold increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s, a four-fold increase in motor neurone disease and a two-fold increase in Parkinson’
  • This was because of the damage to the brain due to repeated heading of the football over a period of time. But it was not conclusive.
  • It is argued that physical contact during a match – like an elbow to players’ head – can also be a factor along with a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors.

Is there any evidence to suggest headers increased dementia risk?

  • The first link was made in 2014. In 2002, former England international Jeff Astle, diagnosed with dementia, died aged 59.
  • As per reports,the damage to Astle’s brain was a result of repeated minor trauma, ‘probably caused by heading a heavy leather football’.
  • In 2014, there was a re-examination of Astle’s brain and it was revealed he had died from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

What is CTE?

  • It is a disease that causes severe damage to the brain because of repeated head injuries and is linked to memory loss, depression and dementia.
  • Former boxers are most commonly diagnosed with it, however, there have been instances of CTE in many other contact sports like pro wrestling, mixed martial arts, ice hockey, rugby, baseball, Australian rules football and, of course, football.

How did the football world responded to these studies?

  • In November 2015, the USA became the first country to ban headers for children under-11 to help reduce concussion.
  • In February this year, England, Scotland and Ireland also barred players aged under-12 from heading the ball during training. But they can still do that in games.
  • However, with no conclusive evidence linking heading to dementia, no uniform rule by FIFA exists.

Have players in India suffered from this?

  • Legendary Indian striker PK Banerjee was diagnosed with dementia before he passed away this year. 

About Dementia

  • Like heart disease — that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimers disease.
  • Disorders grouped under the general term “dementia” are caused by abnormal brain changes.
  • These changes trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function.
  • They also affect behavior, feelings and relationships.





  • Drug firm Zydus Cadila has filed the investigational new drug (IND) application for ZYIL1, positioned for management of critically ill Covid-19 patients.
  • The company is now focussing on cutting edge research to bring targeted therapies… it has filed the IND application of ZYIL1, a novel oral small molecule.
  • ZYIL1, has demonstrated promising efficacy in a number of validated pre-clinical models of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Sepsis and acute lung injury models of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).




A Secure Future For Platform Workers

  • The Code on Social Security Bill, 2020, for the first time in Indian law, attempted to define ‘platform work’ outside of the traditional employment category.
  • It says: “Platform work means a work arrangement outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship in which organisations or individuals use an online platform to access other organisations or individuals to solve specific problems or to provide specific services or any such other activities which may be notified by the Central Government, in exchange for payment.”
  • The Code has drawn criticism from platform workers’ associations for failing to delineate it from gig work and unorganised work.
  • A categorical clarification could ensure that social security measures are provided to workers without compromising the touted qualities of platform work: flexibility and a sense of ownership.
  • An ongoing global conversation on platform workers’ rights has been around the misclassification of platform workers as ‘independent contractors’;
  • adjudications and emerging amendments to labour laws in Ontario and California have shown a move towards granting employee status to platform workers, thus guaranteeing minimum wage and welfare benefits.
  • This is the view propagated by international agencies in the EU, including the European Trade Union.
  • The Code states the provision of basic welfare measures as a joint responsibility of the Central government, platform aggregators, and workers.
  • However, it does not state which stakeholder is responsible for delivering what quantum of welfare.
  • To mitigate operational breakdowns in providing welfare services, a tripartite effort by the State, companies, and workers to identify where workers fall on the spectrum of flexibility and dependence on platform companies is critical.




Treat Artificial Light Like Others Forms Of Pollution

  • Artificial light should be treated like other forms of pollution because its impact on the natural world has widened to the point of systemic disruption, research says.
  • Human illumination of the planet is growing in range and intensity by about 2% a year, creating a problem that can be compared to climate change.
  • Hormone levels, breeding cycles, activity patterns and vulnerability to predators are being affected across a broad range of species.
  • From reduced pollination by insects and trees budding earlier in spring, to seabirds flying into lighthouses and sea turtles mistakenly wandering inland to bright hotels in search of the dawn sun.
  • In all the animal species examined, they found reduced levels of melatonin – a hormone that regulates sleep cycles – as a result of artificial light at night.
  • Behavioural patterns were also disturbed in both nocturnal and diurnal creatures. Rodents, which mostly forage at night, were active for a shorter duration, while birds started singing and searching for worms earlier in the day.
  • The outcomes were not purely negative.
  • The scientists said certain species in certain locations benefited from night-time light: some plants grew faster and some types of bats thrived.
  • But they said the overall effect was disruptive, particularly to the insects drawn to singeing bulbs or fast-moving car lamps.
  • The effects were found everywhere – microbes, invertebrates, animals and plants,.
  • Satellite images of the Earth at night show how rapidly the problem is expanding geographically, but lights are also becoming more intense as expensive soft amber bulbs are replaced by greater numbers of cheap bright white LEDs.
  • This is biologically problematic because the white light has a wider spectrum, like sunlight.