Current Affairs Feb 3

Chauri Chaura centenary celebrations

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister will inaugurate the ‘Chauri Chaura’ centenary celebrations at Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh on February 4.
  • The day marks the beginning of the 100th year of the ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident, a landmark event in the country’s fight for Independence.
  • Also release a postal stamp dedicated to the centenary during the event.
  • The centenary celebrations and various events planned by the state government will begin in all 75 districts of the state from February 4 and will continue till February 4, 2022.

About Chauri Chaura Incident

  • A group of freedom fighters participating in the non-cooperation movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1922 were fired upon by police, leading to death of many of them.
  • In retaliation, protestors attacked and set fire to the Chauri Chaura police station, killing many of its occupants.
  • The colonial administration tried a large number of people, with many of them executed and many more condemned to life in prison for the incident.
  • Gandhi had called off the movement due to the violence.




Consumer Welfare Fund

Why in News?

  • Under the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, 1917, Government has set up the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF) to promote and protect the welfare of the consumers.
  • It has worked successfully under the extant Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF) Guidelines, 2019 and achieved the objective for which it has been set up. The Government has not revised these guidelines.
  • The Government has taken following other steps to promote and protect the welfare of the consumers by creating awareness and strengthening consumer movements in the country:
    1. A Pan-India consumer awareness campaign “JagoGrahakJago” through print, electronic, outdoor and social media through various agencies/ organizations/ Ministries like All India Radio, Doordarshan, National Film Development Corporation, Bureau of Outreach & Communication, Department of Posts, etc.
    2. Participation in various fairs/festivals/events to generate awareness among the consumers living in rural and backward areas of the country.
    3. Providing grant-in-aid to States/UTs to generate awareness in regional languages.
    4. Dissemination of consumer awareness messages through social media.
    5. Celebration of World Consumer Rights Day/National Consumer Day.
    6. Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) Mobile Care App.
    7. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (CP Act 2019) has been implemented w.e.f. 20th July, 2020. The new Act covers e-commerce transactions.
    8. Government has set up a National Consumer Helpline (NCH) with toll free number 1800-11-4000 or short code 14404 to handle the consumer grievances. Further, to cater to the needs of consumers of different regions, six Zonal Consumer Helplines have been set up each at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Jaipur, Guwahati & Patna.
    9. Consumer awareness programmes are organized through the network of BIS Offices across the country for promoting the concept of standardization, certification and quality consciousness among consumers as well as manufactures.




World Wetland Day 2021

Why in News?

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Ministry of Jal Shakti and India Water Foundation (IWF), celebrated World Wetland Day 2021, to raise awareness about conservation and rejuvenation of Wetlands.
  • This year’s World Wetland Day theme shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss.
  • On the occasion of Wetland Day, a massive scientific and community-based program to develop Health card and management of 10 wetlands in each of the 50 plus Ganga districts was launched.
  • World Wetlands Day is observed every year on 2 February to raise global awareness about the important role of wetlands for our planet.
  • The day also marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

What are wetlands?

  • An area is called a wetland if it is saturated or flooded with water permanently or seasonally. It is a distinct ecosystem that stands out from other landforms or water bodies due to its characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants.
  • Coastal wetlands are saltwater marshes, mangroves, lagoons, and coral reefs. Inland wetlands are ponds, lakes, marshes, and swamps.
  • Although World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February, the day was not observed until 1997.
  • World Wetlands Day serves as a reminder to people to recognise the positive influence that wetlands have on Mother Nature.

Theme of the year

  • A theme is selected every year to focus attention on a specific area that eventually leads to public awareness about wetlands.
  • The theme for World Wetlands Day in 2021 is “Wetlands and Water”. It is based on the positive contribution wetlands have made to people.
  • Last year’s theme was ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.




 Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management

  • On the occasion of the World Wetland Day and as a part of its commitment towards conservation, restoration and management of India’s wetlands, the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced the establishment of a Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM), as a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai.
  • India has nearly 4.6% of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares and has 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1.08 million hectares.
  • The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, celebrated annually as World Wetlands Day.




U.K. reports new COVID-19 mutation

Why in News?

  • The United Kingdom has reported a key mutation in the coronavirus variant called B.1.1.7—or more colloquially the ‘U.K. variant’- that studies say makes it more infectious, better equipped to thwart immune systems and slightly reduce the potency of vaccines.
  • The mutation, called E484K, has been reported previously in South Africa in a coronavirus lineage called B.1.135.
  • These mutation have, however, not shown to be linked to increased severity of disease.

Variants B.1.1.7 and B.1.135

  • Variants B.1.1.7 and B.1.135 have common links. B.1.1.7 was linked to increased infectivity because of the presence of a key mutation called N501Y that allowed the coronavirus to better infiltrate healthy cells.
  • However, B.1.135 possesses N501Y as well as E484K among others. In ways that aren’t yet fully understood, these combination of mutations enable them to evade antibodies to some extent due to which scientists also refer to them as ‘escape mutants.’
  • The World Health Organisation, in a report last week, said that B.1.135 had now been identified in 31 countries and B.1.1.7 in 70 countries.




Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

  • An interim analysis of a Phase-3 trial of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 shows the vaccine is safe and has 91.6% efficacy.
  • The 91.6% efficacy was seen 21 days after the first dose.
  • Storage at 2-8°C, a favourable temperature profile for global distribution.


  • The Sputnik V vaccine uses an approach slightly different from the one used by Oxford-AstraZeneca.
  • While AstraZeneca uses the same adenovirus vector to ferry the genetic material into cells, the Sputnik V vaccine uses two different adenovirus vectors – adenovirus 26 (Ad26) for the first dose and adenovirus 5 (Ad5) for the second dose – to carry the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
  • Using two varying serotypes of adenovirus,is intended to overcome any pre-existing adenovirus immunity in the population.




Oxford Hindi word of 2020

  • ‘Aatmanirbharta’ implying self-reliance has been named by Oxford Languages as its Hindi word of the year 2020 as it “validated the day-to-day achievements of the countless Indians who dealt with and survived the perils of a pandemic”.
  • The word was chosen by an advisory panel of language experts.
  • The Oxford Hindi word of the year is a word or expression that is chosen to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.
  • There was a massive increase in the usage of ‘aatmanirbharta’ following the Prime Minister’s address, highlighting its increased prominence as a phrase and concept in the public lexicon of India.
  • Previous Hindi words of the year are Aadhar (2017), Nari Shakti (2018) and Samvidhaan (2019).
  • While the Hindi word of the year has great resonance for the year in which it was chosen, it doesn’t mean that the word will automatically go into any Oxford dictionaries.




Novel Biosensors Quickly Detect Coronavirus Proteins, Antibodies

Why in News?

  • Scientists have developed new protein-based biosensors that glow when mixed with components of the novel coronavirus or specific COVID-19 antibodies, a breakthrough that could enable faster and more widespread testing for the disease.
  • When mixed with fluid from a nasal swab or blood sample, these protein sensors emit light within minutes.
  • Current coronavirus diagnosis relies mostly on a technique called RT-PCR, which amplifies genetic material from the virus so that it can be seen.
  • This technique requires specialised staff and equipment, and also consumes lab supplies that are now in high demand all over the world.
  • In order to directly detect coronavirus in patient samples without the need for genetic amplification, researchers used computers to design new biosensors.
  • These protein-based devices, recognise specific molecules on the surface of the virus, bind to them, then emit light through a biochemical reaction.
  • Antibody testing can reveal whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past.
  • It is being used to track the spread of the pandemic, but it too requires complex laboratory supplies and equipment.
  • Also created biosensors that glow when mixed with COVID-19 antibodies.
  • Showed that these sensors do not react to other antibodies that might also be in the blood, including those that target other viruses.
  • This sensitivity is important for avoiding false-positive test results.




How Coronavirus Quickly Damages Lung Cells

Why in News?

  • Scientists have created one of the most comprehensive maps to date of the molecular activities that are triggered inside these lung cells at the onset of the viral infection, an advance that may lead to the development of new drugs to combat COVID-19.
  • From their analysis, the scientists, discovered close to 18 existing drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that could potentially be repurposed to combat COVID-19 soon after a person becomes infected.
  • They said five of these drugs could reduce the spread of the coronavirus in human lung cells by more than 90%.
  • These engineered cells are not completely identical to the living, breathing cells inside our bodies, but are the “closest thing to it.”
  • According to the researchers, “the virus does wholesale remodeling of the lung cells.”
  • Since viruses cannot replicate themselves, they hijack the host cell machinery to make copies of its genetic material.
  • In the study, the scientists found that when SARS-CoV-2 takes over, it completely changes the cells’ metabolic processes.
  • The virus even damages the cells’ nuclear membranes within three to six hours after infection.
  • In contrast, “cells infected with the deadly Ebola virus don’t show any obvious structural changes at these early time points of infection, and even at late stages of infection, the nuclear membrane is still intact”.
  • The cell’s nuclear membrane surrounds the nucleus, which holds the majority of the genetic information, and controls and regulates normal cellular functions.
  • The lung cells — which normally play a role in maintaining the essential gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that occurs when we breathe —die under this siege.
  • The cells also emit distress signals which boost inflammation as they die, triggering a cascade of biological activity that accelerates more cell death.
  • This eventually leads to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and lung failure.





Groundhog Day

Why in News?

  • February 2, the United States and Canada marked Groundhog Day, an annual tradition in which a groundhog predicts whether winter will continue or give way to spring soon.
  • In the US, the most famous such prognostication is held at Punxsutawney town (pronounced “punks-uh-taw-nee”) in Pennsylvania state.
  • This year, the groundhog, called “Punxsutawney Phil”, has predicted a longer winter.
  • Groundhog Day got a boost of popularity after a 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

The rodent and its shadow

  • If on February 2, the day is sunny and the groundhog (a rodent native to North America) emerges from its burrow and sees its own shadow, it is said to predict six more weeks of winter.
  • On the other hand, if the day is cloudy and the animal’s shadow can’t be seen, it is taken to be a sign of milder weather in the following weeks, indicating an early spring season.
  • On 2nd February morning, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil spotted its shadow in Punxsutawney, predicting another month and a half of winter — for the benefit of those who trust the prediction made by a large rodent.




Colombo Terminal Project

Why in News?

  • After the strong opposition from trade unions across the country, the Sri Lankan government was forced to renege on a 2019 agreement with India and Japan to develop the strategic East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port.
  • The operation of the east terminal would be done by Sri Lanka Ports Authority on its own, a cabinet meeting approved a proposal to develop the West Terminal at the Colombo Port as a Public Private Partnership with India and Japan, which was seen as a bid to compensate India.

What is Sri Lanka’s compensatory offer to India?

  • After the Sri Lankan decision reneging on the 2019 agreement, the country’s cabinet has now approved a proposal to develop the west terminal of the Colombo port as a Public Private Partnership with Japan and India.



Stardust 1.0

Why in News?

  • Recently, Stardust 1.0 was launched from Loring Commerce Centre in Maine, US, a former military base, becoming the first commercial space launch powered by biofuel, which is non-toxic for the environment as opposed to traditionally used rocket fuels.
  • Marks another historic first for Maine since Stardust 1.0 has become the first commercial rocket launch for the state located in northeastern US.

So, what is Stardust 1.0?

  • Stardust 1.0 is a launch vehicle suited for student and budget payloads.
  • The rocket is 20 feet tall and has a mass of roughly 250 kg.
  • The rocket can carry a maximum payload mass of 8 kg and during its first launch carried three payloads.
  • The rocket is manufactured by bluShift, an aerospace company based in Maine that is developing rockets that are powered by bio-derived fuels.
  • These rockets will help to launch small satellites called cubesats into space in a way that is relatively cheaper than using traditional rocket fuel and is less toxic for the environment.
  • Other rockets being developed by the company include Stardust Gen. 2, Starless Rouge and Red Dwarf, which is a low-Earth orbit (LEO) vehicle and is designed to fly a maximum payload of 30 kg.

What is biofuel?

  • Biofuels are obtained from biomass, which can be converted directly into liquid fuels that can be used as transportation fuels.
  • The two most common kinds of biofuels in use today are ethanol and biodiesel and they both represent the first generation of biofuel technology.
  • Ethanol, for instance, is renewable and made from different kinds of plant materials.
  • Biodiesel on the other hand is produced by combining alcohol with new and used vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled cooking grease.




Two Psu Banks, One Insurance Firm to Be Privatised

Why in News?

  • The government announced that two public sector banks and one general insurance company will be privatised and LIC will be listed on the bourses in the financial year 2021-22 as part of the consolidation in the banking and insurance sectors. It has also announced Rs 20,000 crore recapitalisation of PSU banks.

What privatisation of PSU banks means?

  • The government will start the process of privatisation for two public sector banks in the coming financial year, Finance Minister Finance Minister said in her budget speech.
  • However, the Minister did not disclose the names of the banks. The government currently holds majority stake in PSU banks.
  • The government is expected to bring down the stake in the two PSU banks below 51 per cent or sell the entire stake to private ownership.

What does LIC IPO mean for the government?

  • Finance Minister has said Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) will go for an initial public offering in 2021-22.
  • This is likely to be a mega IPO going by the Rs 32 lakh crore assets under management of LIC.
  • The government is expected to mop up a sizeable amount from the LIC IPO, making the life insurer one of the largest firms in market capitalisation. LIC has already started the spadework for the IPO.