- Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease – it’s caused by a virus transmitted from animals to humans. The natural host of the virus remains undefined.
- But the disease has been reported in many animals. It was first reported in 1958, in monkeys in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in humans in 1970, also in the DRC. Subsequently, the disease has been reported in many West and Central African countries.
- The virus was first identified during an investigation into a pox-like disease among monkeys. Hence its name.
- Infected people break out in a rash that looks a lot like chicken pox.
- Monkeypox can easily be confused with other rash illnesses such as smallpox, chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis, and medication-associated allergies. This makes it difficult to diagnose it easily.
- Primary infection is through direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of an infected animal. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is also a risk factor.
- Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials.
Accounting of ecosystem services
Why in News?
- The Uttarakhand government recently announced it will initiate valuation of its natural resources in the form of ‘Gross Environment Product’ (GEP), said to be along the lines of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- The Himalayas contribute substantially to the sustainability of the Gangetic Plains where 500 million people live.
- It may be pointed out that on the recommendation of the ecologists l, the Union government incorporated the value of ecosystem services of its states in national accounting.
- According to the recommendation of 12th and 13th Finance Commissions, grants were transferred to forest rich states in amounts corresponding to their forest covers.
- However, considering only the forest cover in transferring funds to states is inadequate.
- Ecosystem services represent the benefits humans get: Forests, lakes and grasslands; timber and dyed; carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling; soil formation and productivity; and tourism.
- If the payments are to reflect the true value of the services provided, then these services need to be measured and assigned unit values, which would require two separate types of analysis. Singh introduced the concept of service providing (example, the Himalayas) and receiving zones (example, the Gangetic Plains).
- Ecosystem services of a state benefiting the rest of the country and world should be valued, and these values should be incorporated into national accounting.
- The main argument is that since the market does not perform money transfer from regions that benefit from ecosystem services to regions which produce them, the central government should perform this transfer.
China -Pak on Afghanistan
- “Both China and Pakistan are most directly affected by the situation in Afghanistan” as its neighbours and it was “necessary for both sides to strengthen cooperation to cope with the change”
- Joint actions” in five areas, starting with “the immediate priority of avoiding the expansion of war and preventing Afghanistan from falling into a full-scale civil war.”
- The second focus would be to promote the intra-Afghan negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban and establish “a broad and inclusive political structure
- Third joint action would be “to resolutely combat terrorist forces”
- The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which China has blamed for attacks in its western Xinjiang region, underlining China’s concern that instability in Afghanistan could spill over into Xinjiang
- The fourth joint action would be to “promote cooperation among Afghanistan’s neighbours” and “explore the construction of a platform for cooperation among them”
- “reaffirmed their commitment to facilitate and support ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace and reconciliation process” and “their support for the peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan”.
- “Afghanistan has imported and exported related goods through the Gwadar Port and Karachi Port. China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are discussing issues related to extending roads and expressways in Pakistan to Afghanistan,”.
Wolf warrior diplomacy
- Wolf warrior diplomacy describes an aggressive style of diplomacy adopted by Chinese diplomats in the 21st century under Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s administration. The term was coined from a Rambo-style Chinese action film, Wolf Warrior 2.
- This style contrasts to prior Chinese diplomatic practices that were maximized as taoguang yanghui by Deng Xiaoping, which had emphasized the avoidance of controversy and the use of cooperative rhetoric.
- This chengyu is an abbreviation of Deng’s strategy “observe calmly, secure our position, cope with affairs calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership.”
- Wolf warrior diplomacy is confrontational and combative, with its proponents loudly denouncing any criticism of China on social media and in interviews.
- Although the phrase “wolf warrior diplomacy” was only popularized as a description of this diplomatic approach during the COVID-19 pandemic, the appearance of wolf warrior-style diplomats had begun a few years prior.
Fake news and Historical thinking
- Fake news and its associated social problems have been a major concern
- Social media companies, too, are investing billions of dollars into technological solutions such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify fake news and its proliferation.
- Fake news is disinformation that has no basis in reality, but is presented as fact.
- Being designed to manipulate both the intellect and emotions of a person, it can evoke strong emotional reactions in its reader, which could sometimes result in violence.
- India’s diversity is its strength, but also the source for numerous conflicts that have persisted over the decades.
- These conflicts, being rooted in historical claims around politics, culture and religion, will intensify if the historical assumptions and data behind related fake news are not contextually analysed.
- The problem is aggravated with the decline in history learning programmes worldwide
- The Constitution of India provides a long-term solution under Article 51A (h), which says, “It shall be the duty of every citizen to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.”
- While the National Education Policy, 2020, captures the needs of the nation, it misses out on historical thinking.
- Historical thinking is the set of thinking skills required for learning history.
- It consists of concepts like points of view, evidence, validity and reliability of the source, contextualisation, and corroboration, apart from other skills.
- Historical thinking skills can also be applied to law, forensic science, politics and research, and dealing with ‘fake news.
Digital currency of India
- In recent years, the significant rise of private cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether has spooked central banks throughout the world, and pushed the case for official digital currencies
- China, having already engaged in pilot projects for its digital RMB, is in fact planning a major roll-out soon. There has been little doubt, therefore, that India needs a digital rupee.
- There are crucial decisions to be made about the design of the currency with regards to how it will be issued, the degree of anonymity it will have, the kind of technology that is to be used, and so on.
- While official digital currencies can borrow the underlying technology feature of private cryptocurrencies, they significantly diff- er from the latter in their philosophy and goals.
- Also to be considered are possible impacts of the introduction of an official digital currency on people, the monetary policy, and the banking system.
- There are risks to be considered as well, not the least of which will be those emerging from cyberattacks. What is more, many laws need to be amended to make the digital rupee a reality
Food security in pandemic
- There was a ‘dramatic worsening’ of world hunger in 2020, much of it likely related to the fallout of COVID-19
- ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’, estimates that around a tenth of the global population – up to 81.1 crore persons – were undernourished last year.
- In 2020, India produced over 30 crore tonnes of cereals and had built up a food stock of 10 crore tonnes.
- The country has registered record harvests over the last few years. India exported a record 1.98 crore tonnes of rice and wheat in FY21.
- Key measures initiated by the Union government included allowing the States to lift their allocations for six months in one go, in anticipation of a surge in demand for foodgrains through the public distribution system.
- under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), 81.3 crore NFSA beneficiaries received an additional 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month and 1 kg of pulses per family per month, free of cost, for eight months from April to November 2020.
- Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package, 8 crore migrants were provided 5 kg of foodgrains per month, free of cost.
- Ensuring that food support focuses on at-risk groups, including persons with disabilities, the elderly, single women-led households, transgender persons, HIV-affected persons, displaced persons, refugees and orphan children, is at the heart of ‘Leave No One Behind’.
- First, the introduction of the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme is an innovation that can be a game changer, allowing beneficiaries to access their food entitlements from anywhere in the country.
- Second, climate change will continue to affect agriculture and food security, and the impact on the poor and vulnerable can be devastating.
- Massive efforts are needed towards programmes that focus on building resilient agriculture that is adaptive to changing weather and needs through the introduction of newer varieties of crops, efficient irrigation systems, and the promotion of crops as per the agro-climate zones
- Finally, 2021 offers a unique opportunity for advancing food security and nutrition through transforming food systems with the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit, the Nutrition for Growth Summit and the COP26 on climate change.
- In a major diplomatic triumph, the 13th century Ramappa temple in Palampet, Telangana, was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Sunday
- Built by Racherla Senapati Rudrayya, a general of Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva, in the 13th century
- The foundation is built with the “sandbox technique”, the flooring is granite and the pillars are basalt.
- The lower part of the temple is red sandstone while the white gopuram is built with light bricks that reportedly float on water.
- The Rudreswara temple was constructed in 1213 AD during the reign of the Kakatiya Empire by RecharlaRudra, a general of Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva.
- The presiding deity here is RamalingeswaraSwamy. It is also knownas the Ramappa temple, after the sculptor who executed the work in the temple for 40 years.
- The temple complexes of Kakatiyas have a distinct style, technology and decoration exhibiting the influence of the Kakatiyan sculptor.
- The Ramappa Temple is a manifestation of this andoften stands as a testimonial to the Kakatiyan creative genius.
- The temple stands on a 6 feet high star-shaped platform with walls, pillars and ceilings adorned with intricate carvings that attest to the unique skill of the Kakatiyan sculptors.
- The sculptural art and decoration specific to the time and Kakatiyan Empire have an outstanding universal value.
- The distinct style of Kakatiyas for the gateways to temple complexes, unique only to this region confirm the highly evolved proportions of aesthetics in temple and town gateways in South India.
- European merchants and travelers were mesmerized by the beauty of the temple and one such traveler had remarked that the temple was the “brightest star in the galaxy of medieval temples of the Deccan”.