Current Affairs Nov 6

Brown Carbon Tarballs


  • Nearly 28 per cent of particles collected from the air samples from a research station in the Himalaya-Tibetan Plateau were tarballs, a recent study has found.

What are Tarballs

  • Tarballs are small light-absorbing, carbonaceous particles formed due to burning of biomass or fossil fuels that deposit on snow and ice.

What they do

  • The percentage of the tarballs increased on days of higher levels of pollution and could contribute to hastening of glacial melt and global warming.

How they form

  • The data revealed that a dense array of active fire spots — corresponding to large-scale wheat-residue burning on the Indo-Gangetic Plain — occurred along the pathways of air masses that reached the Himalayan research station during sampling.
  • Tarballs are formed from brown carbon, emitted during the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Until now, black carbon was found to be transported long distances by wind to the Himalayan atmosphere; there was not sufficient direct evidence for primary BrC in the Himalayan atmosphere.
  • Primary brown carbon (BrC) co-emitted with black carbon (BC) from biomass burning is an important light-absorbing carbonaceous aerosol.
  • The black carbon from the Indo-Gangetic Plain can reach the Himalaya region and influence glacial melting and climatic change.
  • tarballs from long-range transport can be an important factor in the climatic effect and would correspond to a substantial influence on glacial melting in the Himalaya region.



Delhi Air Quality Slips To severe


  • The air quality index (AQI) in the national capital slipped to ‘severe’ for the first time this season.
  • While the AQI was 456 at 7 am, according to the data by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), it worsened to 471 by 11 am.

AQI Values Means

  • An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’;
  • 51-100 ‘satisfactory’; 101-200 ‘moderate’;
  • 201-300 ‘poor’; 301-400 ‘very poor’; and
  • 401-500 ‘severe’.
  • Above 500 is the ‘severe-plus or emergency’
  • The NCR towns of Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurugram and Faridabad were in the ‘severe’ category as well.

PM2.5 & PM10

  • The concentration of harmful and toxic pollutants — particulate matter 2.5 and PM10 — in Delhi’s air was around five-and-a-half times more than their prescribed value.
  • While PM2.5 was recorded at 358 microgramme per cubic metre (ug / m3), PM10 was at 535 ug / m3.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) prescribed standard is 60 and 100 ug / m3 respectively.

Role of Meteorological Condition

  • Wind speed was below five kilometre per hour and even the minimum temperature was below 10 degrees Celsius, which led to rapid accumulation of pollutants near the surface
  • The ventilation index (VI) was around 5,500 metre squared per second.
  • It depicts the ability of the atmosphere to dilute and disperse pollutants over a region.
  • VI lower than 6,000 m2 / s with an average wind speed less than 10 kmph is unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.

Role of Stubble Burning

  • Along with unfavourable meteorological conditions, unusually high fire counts from stubble burning also contributed to deteriorating air quality.
  • According to SAFAR (The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), stubble fire counts over Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and neighbouring areas increased significantly and were at 4,135 as on November 3, the highest of the season so far.
  • The stubble burning share of PM2.5 in Delhi’s air was estimated to be around 42 per cent on November 4; it was just five per cent a day earlier.
  • This happened also because the wind direction which was south-westerly on Wednesday morning shifted to north-westerly (from stubble burning side) later.
  • An unusually low day time boundary layer height (below 500 metres) prevailed Wednesday, which led to the trapping of intruded fire-related counts and local pollutants to a layer very close to the surface. 



All insults not offence under SC/ST Act


  • All insults or intimidations to persons belonging to Dalit or tribal communities will not be an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court said in a judgment.
  • An offence is made out under the statute only if the insults or intimidations were made on account of the victim belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
  • The court said the insult should be specifically intended to humiliate the victim for his caste.
  • The object of the Act is to punish the violators who inflict indignities, humiliations and harassment.



Vice President launches International Satavadhanam event


  • The Vice President has observed that ‘avadhanam’ as a literary feat has greatly contributed to the Telugu language’s glorious tradition. ‘Avadhanam’ is like a test of the poet’s literary prowess and scholarship.
  • The ‘International ‘Satavadhanam’’ program, was organized by Dr. Medasani Mohan under the auspices of Sri Krishnadevaraya Satsang in Tirupati.
  • ‘Avadhanam’ is an exciting literary performance that involves solving tricky literary posers, improvising poems and tests a person’s capability of performing such multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Observing that language is not just an expression of emotion, language conveys a person’s nationality and cultural heritage.
  • This will pave the way for more such “avadhanams’’ and encourage more Indian literary and language programmes to become global.



Pm Modi Chairs Global Investors Roundtable Meet


  • Prime Minister chaired the Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) 2020 conference in a bid to attract investments into the country.
  • Addressing the global investors virtually, PM highlighted India’s potential to attract huge investments in various sectors and invited them to be a part of India’s growth story.

Key points from PM address:

  • Today, investors are moving towards companies which have a high environmental, social & governance score. India already has systems and companies which rank high on this.
  • Our recent reforms in agriculture open up new exciting possibilities to partner with the farmers of India. With the help of technology and modern processing solutions, India will soon emerge as an agriculture export hub.
  • India’s quest to become AatmaNirbhar is not just a vision but a well-planned economic strategy; a strategy that aims to use the capabilities of our businesses and skills of our workers to make India into a global manufacturing powerhouse: PM Modi
  • India has shown remarkable resilience in this pandemic, be it fighting the virus or ensuring economic stability. This resilience is driven by the strength of our systems, support of our people and stability of our policies.
  • It is because of the strength of our system that we could provide foodgrains to around 800 million people, money to 420 million people and free cooking gas to around 80 million families.
  • A strong and vibrant India can contribute to stabilization of the world economic order. We will do whatever it takes to make India the engine of global growth resurgence.
  • If you want returns with reliability, India is the place to be. If you want demand with democracy, India is the place to be.
  • If you want stability with sustainability, India is the place to be. If you want growth with a green approach, India is the place to be.
  • A strategy that aims to use the capabilities of our businesses and skills of our workers to make India into a global manufacturing powerhouse.
  • India offers you democracy, demography, diversity for investments.
  • The conference is being attended by all the major global investors, including sovereign wealth funds and pension funds of the world.
  • It focuses on discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the government’s vision for making the country a $5 trillion economy.
  • The Indian side is being represented by business leaders, financial market regulators, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and RBI governor Shaktikanta Das.
  • The global institutional investors, representing key regions including the US, Europe, Canada, South Korea, Japan, the Middle East, Australia and Singapore, have participated in VGIR 2020. Some of these investors are engaging with the government for the first time.




Indian Armed Forces in 1971 Indo – Pak war


  • In December 1971, Indian Armed Forces achieved a stellar victory over Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
  • 16 December 2021 marks the 50th year of the famous victory and the year 2021 is being celebrated as the Swarnim Vijay Varsh.
  • Ministry of Defence proposes to commission a distinct Logo which will uniquely identify all events connected to the Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations.
  • Towards that end Ministry of Defence invites Logo Designs from Indian Citizens. Contestants may adhere to following guidelines while designing the logo:-

(a)  Logo should be so designed that participation of all three Services i.e Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force be depicted.

(b) Logo should commemorate achievements of our Armed Forces rather than mocking / maligning our adversary.

(c)  Weapon / equipment, if depicted in logo, should be the one in use by the Indian Armed Forces during 1971 War.

(d) All quotes used in logo to be bilingual (English and Hindi).

  • The winning logo will be awarded a cash prize of Rupees 50,000/-(Rs. Fifty thousand only).



Smart Water Supply Measurement and Monitoring System


  • The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims providing Tap Connection to every rural household by 2024 with particular focus on ‘service delivery’e. regular water supply in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality on long-term basis.
  • This necessitates the use of modern technology in monitoring of the programme and to capture service delivery data automatically for ensuring the quality of services.
  • Digitisation of water supply infrastructure has the potential to solve current problems as well as help anticipate and address future challenges. 
  • In order to harness the power of technology in water management which is the need of the hour,
  • the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology in partnership with National Jal Jeevan Mission
  • had announced an ICT Grand Challenge to develop a ‘Smart water supply measurement and monitoring system’.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission would be the user agent of the Grand Challenge and C-DAC, Bangalore is the implementing agency and would provide technical support for the challenge. 
  • C-DAC will also provide technical support for Proof of Concept (PoC) development to the shortlisted candidates. It would also provide mentoring support, technical guidance to them.
  • The challenge witnessed enthusiastic participation from all over India with a total of 218 applications.
  • The evaluation of the applications is currently in progress.
  • Way forward in the Grand challenge includes Ideation to Prototype Stage, Prototype to Product Stage, Product Deployment Stage, and announcement of three winners.
  • All these stages would be carried out with funding support from MeitY and National Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • Based on evaluation throughout these steps, one winner and two runners-up will be selected and awarded with Rs. 50 Lakh, for the winner and Rs. 20 Lakh of each runner-up.
  • This Grand Challenge will harness the vibrant IoT eco-systems of India for creating smart rural water supply eco-system to measure and monitor the service delivery of the water supply in rural areas.
  • This Challenge will provide an opportunity to work for Jal Jeevan Mission and to assure potable water supply through Functional Household Tap Connections to every rural household.







  • Ministry of Science & Technology gave away
  • Students Innovations for Advancement of Research Explorations – Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SITARE-GYTI) and
  • Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SRISTI-GYTI) awards.
  • Fourteen awards and eleven appreciation awards under SITARE-GYTI, and Seven awards and 16 appreciation awards under SRISTI-GYTI were given.
  • Gandhian Young Technological Innovation awards constitute two categories of awards,
  • SITARE–GYTI under Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and
  • SRISTI-GYTI given by SRISTI.
  • The awards and appreciations are given under these two categories to encourage technology students to move towards setting up Biotech and other start-ups.




Producing Suspects Before Media Violates Their Privacy


  • The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that producing suspects before the media violated their fundamental right under the Constitution.
  • By producing the victims and suspects before the media, the police not only violate the fundamental rights of the suspect as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India but also encourage media trials,” Justice G.S. Ahluwalia noted while hearing a petition.
  • Although the general public was entitled to know about the progress of an investigation, producing suspects or victims before the media had no foundation under any statutory provision of the law, including the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Even if a person is a hardcore criminal, his details/history sheet/surveillance have to be kept discreet and there is no question of posting the photographs of history sheeters even at police stations.
  • The court was examining whether the State government, through an executive order, could violate the privacy of an accused by publishing his photograph in the media or by parading him.
  • It noted that the police, instead of “tapping its own back” by disclosing the identity of the suspected persons in print, social or digital media, must concentrate on ensuring the timely appearance of the police witnesses before the Trial Court, so that the guilt of a person could be established.




Walk to Work concept


  • The Telangana government has come up with an elaborate policy for development of integrated, self-contained townships outside the Outer Ring Road providing office, residential, institutional and commercial facilities at one place, along with all the infrastructural amenities.

Rules and guidelines for the policy

  • The Telangana Comprehensive Integrated Township Policy Rules – 2020 — based on ‘Walk to Work’ concept, stipulate that
  • the townships should be developed in a minimum 100 acres, at least five kilometres away from the nearest outer boundary of the Outer Ring Road. 
  • The area identified should have an access road of minimum 30 metres width for area below 300 acres, and 36 metres if above.
  • In case it is not available, the developer should undertake to provide the access from the nearest 30-metre road.
  • A minimum of 25 % and up to 50 % of the net area of the township, after provision of facilities such as roads, green spaces and open spaces, should be utilised for setting up a Work Centre —
  • an all inclusive term for offices, commercial spaces, market, industry, transportation, and recreation spaces. Of the remaining portion, not less than 50 % of the net area should be set apart for residential purposes.
  • The township should also provide educational and healthcare facilities, public utilities, and public transport.
  • The norm for 10 % area for parks/gardens/playgrounds should be adhered to, and any allocation beyond will be exempted from the Change of Land Use charges.
  • Design efficiency should aim at eco-friendly building concepts, energy conservation, zero waste, and better management of stormwater.

All income groups

  • A minimum 10 % of the total dwelling units should be in the category of EWS and LIG. For all townships, there should be a Township Residents and Users Association (TRUA) to ensure maintenance and upkeep.
  • A range of concessions are on the platter for the developers, including partial/complete waivers of development fee and property tax.
  • Exemption will be 90 % on development charges on land, 100 % on built up area for EWS and LIG housing, 75 % for MIG, and 50 % for HIG dwelling units.
  • Cent percent rebate on property tax is applicable for common facilities, and 50 % for all other properties, for five years.
  • Five-year deferment is allowed on impact fee, while 100 % exemption is given on capitalisation charges.






Row Over Kartarpur Gurdwara


  • The Pakistan government’s decision to transfer the management and administrative control of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur from a Sikh body —
  • Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (PSGPC) —
  • to a trust under the Evacuee Trust Property Board, a non-Sikh body, h
  • as inviting sharp reactions from India, which termed the move “highly condemnable” and against the spirit of the Kartarpur Corridor.
  • The Shiromani Akali Dal has termed Pakistan’s decision as a move to take full control of the gurdwara, which is also the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev.
  • The PSGPC, however, claims that there is no change in the administration of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.

What is Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and what is its importance in Sikh religion?

  • The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, also known as Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across river Ravi, about five kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab.
  • Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru had arrived in Kartarpur between 1520 and 1522, as per historians, and spent the last 18 years of his life there.
  • It was in Kararpur that he laid the foundations of a Sikh religion.
  • At his final resting place stands the gurdwara.
  • It was one of the most significant historical and spiritual place for Sikhs till 1947.
  • Following the partition, no Sikh was left to take care of the gurdwara, which slowly turned into ruins and at one point of time was also used as a shelter by smugglers.
  • One such person smuggled the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib left behind in the gurdwara and brought it back to east Punjab in late 60s.
  • The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib got Pakistan government’s attention in early 90s, when a Jatha of Sikh pilgrims from India highlighted its historical and spiritual importance.
  • Pakistan government restored the main building of the gurdwara in 2004, after about decade-long repair works.
  • In the meantime, a demand to construct a visa-free corridor to the gurdwara was raised and soon became a movement among Sikhs across the world.
  • The Kartarpur Corridor was finally thrown open in 2019 with the two sides agreeing on visa-free travel for Indian pilgrims to the shrine.


Who looks after management of gurdwaras in Pakistan?

  • There were more than 176 gurdwaras of religious and historical importance in Pakistan.
  • Less than 20 of these gurdwaras have been opened so far by Pakistan government in last 73 years.
  • All such gurdwaras are under control of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) of Pakistan.
  • The Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (PSGPC) looks after the religious affairs of the gurdwaras. The PSGPC also keeps control of the donations made by devotees.

Why the fresh controversy?

  • A controversy has erupted following a recent notification by ETPB as per which a new body — Project Management Unit (PMU) — has been formed for the administrative control of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
  • Pakistan claims to have spent Rs 1,000 crore on the creating the Kartarpur Corridor infrastructure. It charges USD 20 from Indian pilgrims using the Corridor.
  • Shiromani Akali Dal’s allegation that the new government body for Darbar Sahib has no Sikh member in it, which was “ a grave attack on fundamental rights of Sikh minority in Pakistan.





Body Mass Index


  • India ranks third and fifth from the bottom respectively among countries where 19-year-old girls and boys have a low body mass index, according to a study in The Lancet.
  • The study provides new estimates for height and BMI trends in 2019 across 200 countries after analysing data from 2,181 studies.
  • BMI is measured as the weight in kg divided by the square of the height in metres.
  • World Health Organization guidelines define a normal BMI range as 18.5 to 24.9, overweight as 25 or higher, and obesity as 30 or higher.
  • The mean BMI of 19-year-old boys is 20.1 in India, compared to a high of 29.6 in the Cook Islands and a low of 19.2 in Ethiopia.
  • For Indian girls, the mean BMI is again 20.1, compared to a high of 29.0 in Tonga and a low of 19.6 in Timor-Leste.
  • The mean height of Indian 19-year-olds is 166.5 cm for boys and 155.2 cm for girls, well below the hight of Netherlands boys (183.8 cm) and girls (170 cm).
  • The 20 cm or higher difference between countries with the tallest and shortest mean height represents approximately 8 years of growth gap for girls and approximately 6 years for boys.
  • In developing countries like India, we have a dual burden i.e., overnutrition and undernutrition.
  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents of both Indian girls and boys is lower when compared to children of developed nations.
  • The reasons could be several, like variations in the epigenetic, dietary intakes, familial, psychosocial, parental education, occupations, income etc.
  • Overweight and obesity are mostly carried over to adult age and are causes for many metabolic disorders like insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, CVDs, stroke, and some cancers.





Women Hunters


  • About 9,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers buried a teenager with hunting tools in the Andes mountains of South America.
  • When researchers analysed the remains, unearthed in 2018, they found that the hunter was a female, aged between 17 and 19 at her death.
  • What they found goes against a widely held belief — that among early humans, the men hunted and the women gathered.
  • Between 30% and 50% of the hunters in these populations were female, the researchers concluded from an analysis of burial records in the Americas.

The discovery

  • During excavations at the high-altitude site Wilamaya Patjxa in Peru in 2018, archaeologists found five burial pits with six individuals.
  • Two of the individuals were associated with hunting tools.
  • Because many people are buried with the objects they used in life, the researchers concluded that the two were hunters.
  • One had been buried with 24 stone artefacts, including projectile points for hunting big game and scrapers for use on animal carcasses.
  • The team estimated that this individual was female.
  • Six months later, this was later confirmed by an analysis of dental protein. The other individual was male, aged 25-30.
  • It was the female hunter that got the researchers wondering.
  • Among them, 27 individuals were associated with big-game hunting tools — 11 female and 16 were male.
  • This level of participation is in stark contrast to recent hunter-gatherers, where hunting is a decidedly male activity with low levels of female participation.
  • The Wilamaya Patjxa female hunter has been identified as the earliest hunter burial found in the Americas.




Special Courts To Try Lawmakers


  • Justice N.V. Ramana, leading a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, said the court has only public interest and faith in judiciary in mind while pushing for the setting up of special courts to expeditiously try sitting and former MPs and MLAs accused of various crimes.
  • The purpose of this adjudication is in public interest and to maintain public faith in judiciary by making sure that long-pending cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs are decided without delay.
  • The Bench was considering a report filed by a committee of the Madras High Court that raised reservations over the setting up of special courts to exclusively try legislators for various offences.
  • The committee said that special courts cannot be “offender-centric”.
  • It reasoned, “An MP/MLA, who commits an offence under POCSO Act (or other Special Acts like Prevention of Corruption Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act) can only be tried by a Special Court created under the POCSO Act (PC Act, NDPS Act) and there cannot be another Special Court exclusively for trial of an MP/MLA, who commits POCSO offence”. 
  • The committee report, dated October 13, drew special attention from the Bench as it comes in the face of a 2017 Supreme Court order authorising the Centre to set up 12 Special Courts to exclusively try criminal politicians.
  • Over 4,400 criminal trials are pending against legislators. Of this over 2,500 trials involve sitting legislators.
  • The committee also raised strong reservations against setting up Special Courts in Tamil Nadu.


Telcos Resist Differential Licensing, Unbundling Of Layers


  • Telecom service providers Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have opposed the sector regulator’s idea of introducing differential licensing via unbundling of various layers.
  • They say any such move could lead to regulatory and investor uncertainty, in a rare display of unanimity on a sectoral issue.
  • Jio, in its submissions on the consultation paper released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), said a converged licence for network and service layer offers clarity and certainty to an operator making investments in the network.
  • The process of unification of licence is still not complete and unbundling of “network and service layers with a completely new type of licensing regime would introduce a great level of uncertainty in the system”, Jio said.
  • As per the current licensing regime, infrastructure, network and service layers are not segregated and are part of the unified licence.
  • Trai had asked the stakeholders about possible benefits and problems in having an unbundled licensing regime, and measures that can be taken to ease hurdles.
  • Vodafone Idea (Vi) said unbundling is neither necessary nor desirable. 
  • Any such changes in the licensing framework which require business models to be reconfigured would be counterproductive and harm the investments made by telcos over the years.
  • There is an urgent need to address the core issue of high regulatory levies, need for floor pricing or adopting the principles of input line credit to avoid double taxation.
  • Airtel, on its part, argued that priority areas such as strengthening of telecom infrastructure and broadband services would require enormous fund infusion.
  • The investment is estimated to be about `2 lakh crore over the next twothree years for spectrum, technology, equipment and fibre backbone.




PM Modi, Italian PM to hold Virtual Bilateral Summit


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte will hold a Virtual Bilateral Summit today.
  • The Summit will give an opportunity to the two leaders to comprehensively review the broad framework of the bilateral relationship and exchange views on major regional and global issues of mutual concern.
  • Several Government-to-Government and Private Sector agreements or MoUs are under finalization and will be concluded on this occasion.
  • India and Italy share a warm and multifaceted relationship based on strong historical ties, common democratic traditions, rule of law and a shared goal of international peace and stability.
  • Italy is India’s 5th largest trading partner in the EU, after Germany, Belgium, UK and France. Bilateral trade stood at 9.52 billion Euros in 2019.
  • Around 600 large Italian companies are active in India, covering varied sectors such as fashion and garments, textiles and textile machinery, automotive components, infrastructure, chemicals, energy confectionery and insurance. Several Indian companies are also active in Italy.



Bangladesh signs MoU with India


  • Bangladesh government signed an MoU with Pune-based SII and Bexmico Pharmaceuticals to procure 30 million doses of ‘Covishield’.
  • The Covid-19 vaccine candidate is being developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
  • Once the vaccine is developed, the Serum Institute will provide 30 million doses of vaccine in the first phase, and BPL will bring it to Bangladesh.
  • Developed by the University of Oxford, Covishield is undergoing Phase-2 of clinical trials.


CARAT Bangladesh 2020


  • The Bangladesh and US navies launched the ‘Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh 2020’ to expand relationships and broaden maritime awareness between the two countries.
  • The exercise demonstrates U.S.’s continuing commitment to work with the Bangladesh military to address shared maritime security concerns in the region and strengthen partnership to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
  • CARAT has become a unique forum to work with US Navy. Mutual cooperation and partnership is essential to make the maritime domain safe.
  • Historically, the CARAT exercises involve people to people interactions and a variety of professional exchanges.
  • The sea-phase of the exercise will take place in the Bay of Bengal with ships from both countries.
  • The events are designed to enhance interoperability between the two navies. U.S. and Bangladesh will work through coordinated deployment of surface ships, to include tactical maneuvers among other activities.
  • CARAT 2020 underscores the shared vision of US and Bangladesh for a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region.



NGT Committee Renders Entire Baghjan Oil Field Illegal


  • The Baghjan oilfield, along with 26 oil wells in Assam was operating without mandatory environmental clearances when one of the wells experienced a blowout May 27, 2020, followed by a fire, a National Green Tribunal (NGT) committee said.
  • The blowout site, located next to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park (DSNP) in Tinsukia district, has been burning for 160 days. It continues to impact an area of 10 kilometres around the controversial Baghjan 5 oil and gas rig.
  • NGT’s principal bench headed by AK Goel, constituted a committee led by former Judge BP Katakey June 26 to investigate the cause and the impact of the blowout.
  • This was after Kolkata-based activist, Bonani Kakkar and Wildlife and Environment Conservation Organization, an Assam-based non-profit, approached the tribunal.
  • The committee has recommended payment of Rs 25 Lakh to 173 families and Rs 20 lakh to 439 families identified by the district administration.
  • The committee found that a pregnant woman living in the vicinity had suffered a miscarriage. Similar instances of miscarriages were also reported among cattle and the endangered Hoolock Gibbon in the neighbouring forests. 

Violations galore

  • Katakey made interim recommendations in the status report submitted to the tribunal in which it sought legal action against Oil India Ltd (OIL) for violating the Air, Water and Environmental Protection Acts.
  • “On the day of the blowout of well Baghjan-5 May 27 and explosion June 9, OIL did not have the mandatory consents including the Consent To Establish / No Objection Certificate and / or the Consent To Operate under the Water Act, Air Act and / or the Hazardous Waste [Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement] Rules, 2016,” the committee said. 
  • On September 7, 2017, the Supreme Court permitted OIL to extract hydrocarbons from near the DSNP while delivering the landmark verdict of the TN Godavaram case.
  • The apex court granted a conditional approval to OIL, stating that the company should carry out a biodiversity impact assessment before commencing extraction of hydrocarbons.
  • The Katakey Committee found that OIL did not carry out the assessment nor did it approach the apex court, seeking a final clearance for its extraction activities near the DSNP. 

Endangering biodiversity

  • The committee also stated that OIL had violated the directives of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • On March 7, 2016, the CPCB classified both, on-shore and off-shore oil and gas extraction including coal bed methane red category industries and prohibited their operations in ecologically fragile areas / protected areas. The Assam government adopted these directions in 2019.
  • “Thus, the continuing extraction of hydrocarbons around the DSNP would qualify as a Red category project, having it been declared as an eco-sensitive zone would place it in clear violation of the [Assam Government’s] notification dated May 4, 2019,” the committee noted. 
  • The present violations by OIL will also impact future plans to extract hydrocarbons from underneath the DSNP through seven proposed oil wells. These are to be laid horizontally across Dangori river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra.
  • The committee has recommended that the PCBA should be directed to take legal action against OIL for violating various environmental as well as industrial regulations.




Funds To Avert Measles And Polio Epidemics


  • An emergency call to action has been issued by the UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) to avert major measles and polio epidemics as Covid-19 continues to disrupt immunisation services worldwide, leaving millions of vulnerable children at heightened risk of preventable childhood diseases.
  • The two organisations estimate that $655 million ($400 million for polio and $255 million for measles) are needed to address dangerous immunity gaps in non-Gavi eligible countries and target age groups.
  • Financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, enabled access to funding for outbreak response, preventive campaigns and routine immunisation strengthening, in eligible countries.
  • But financing gaps remain in middle-income countries that are not Gavi-eligible and the emergency call to raise funds and support would go to these regions.
  • There has been a global resurgence of measles with outbreaks in all parts of the world and gaps in vaccination coverage have only been exacerbated this year by the pandemic.
  • In 2019, measles climbed to the highest number of new infections in more than two decades.
  • At the same time, polio-virus transmission is expected to increase in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in many under-immunised areas of Africa.
  • Failure to eradicate polio now would lead to global resurgence of the disease, resulting in as many as 2,00,000 new cases annually, within 10 years.
  • New tools, including a next-generation novel oral polio vaccine and the forthcoming Measles Outbreak Strategic Response Plan are expected to be deployed over the coming months to help tackle these growing threats in a more effective and sustainable manner, and ultimately save lives. 
  • Measles, or rubeola, is a viral infection that starts in the respiratory system. It still remains a significant cause of death worldwide, despite the availability of a safe, effective vaccine.
  • There were about 110,000 global deaths related to measles in 2017, most of them in children under the age of 5, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  





Llama nanobodies potent tool to fight Covid-19


  • Researchers have found a new way to extract nano antibodies from llamas, a potent antibody that can fight the coronavirus, that can be fashioned into inhalable therapeutics to treat the Covid-19 infection.
  • To generate the nanobodies, researchers induced SARS-CoV-2 in a black llama and later retrieved the nanobodies generated by the animal to ward off the virus.
  • The researchers used a mass spectrometry-based technique that identified the nanobodies in llama’s blood that bind to SARS-CoV-2 most strongly.
  • The scientists again exposed those nanobodies to live SARS-CoV-2 virus and found that just a fraction of a nanogram could neutralize enough virus to spare a million cells from being infected.
  • The nanobodies can survive at room temperature for six weeks and tolerate being fashioned into an inhalable mist to deliver antiviral therapy directly into the lungs where they’re most needed.
  • Since SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus, the nanobodies could find and latch onto it in the respiratory system, before it even has a chance to do any damage.
  • Their nanobodies use a variety of mechanisms to block SARS-CoV-2 infection. This makes nanobodies potent for bioengineering.



A Method To Predict Covid-19 Outcomes


  • Researchers have found a new way to speculate the severity in coronavirus patients by measuring the C-reactive protein (CRP).
  • C-reactive protein is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation.
  • The researchers saw a rapid rise in CRP levels during the first 48 to 72 hours of hospitalisation. This was steadier in patients whose condition was relatively stable.
  • An increase in a cytokine called IL-6 during the first 24-48 hours was correlated to CRP levels and the progression of the disease.
  • The administration of immunomodulatory drugs after CRP level test can help control inflammation and reduce the severity of the disease “very, very early ― as early as hospital Day 1 and 2.”