- The G20 is the international forum that brings together the world’s major economies. Its members account for more than 80% of world GDP, 75% of global trade and 60% of the population of the planet.
- The forum has met every year since 1999 and includes, since 2008, a yearly Summit, with the participation of the respective Heads of State and Government.
- In addition to the Summit, ministerial meetings, Sherpa meetings (in charge of carrying out negotiations and building consensus among Leaders), working groups and special events are organized throughout the year.
- The working meetings of Heads of State and Government are held at the Rome Convention Centre ‘La Nuova’, in the city’s EUR district ITALY
- No time-bound agreements were reached as leaders of the world’s top economies ended the summit in Rome, recommitting to providing $100 billion a year to counter climate change, and pushing for greater vaccine equality to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
- G-20 countries also committed to ending international financing for all new coal plants by the end of 2021, but made no mention of domestic commitments on ending coal power generation.
- The final communique, agreed upon after negotiations overnight, spoke only of the “key relevance of achieving global net zero” on carbon emissions “by or around mid-century”.
- Amongst the other highlights of the statement was a decision to pursue the recognition of more vaccines by the World Health Organization under a “One Health approach” for the world,
- Providing finances and technology for vaccine production at “mRNA Hubs” in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, and to mobilize more international public private financing for “green” project
Nutrition in children
- We, as a society, must focus on the nutrition of children to ensure they are armed with good immunity as they get ready to take on new challenges especially after emerging from the confines of their homes.
- India faces multiple problems of under-nutrition and overweight/ obesity coexisting with deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium and several vitamins.
- This triple burden of malnutrition has to be identified, understood and addressed
- In urban as well as among middle class and affluent communities, restricted movement, constrained socialization and even dwindling physical contact have become the new normal.
- COVID-19 isolation and fatigue have led to generalized stress, adding to the immunity challenge for children.
- These challenges coupled with a lack of diet diversity leading to imbalanced micronutrient intake or consumption of high carbohydrate and high sugar foods, endanger the child’s health by compromising their immunity and making them vulnerable to infections
- Providing children with a balanced diet packed with all the necessary nutrients provides them with a solid foundation for an active and healthy life.
- Often overlooked, micronutrients are essential for production of enzymes, hormones and other substances for good immune function, healthy growth and development.
- Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients.
- To combat hidden hunger, affordable, accessible and diverse food sources must be made available across India.
- Micronutrients that are primarily available in fruits, vegetables, greens, nuts, legumes and whole grains play a crucial role in enhancing the native and adaptive immune function and also aid ‘immune memory’ formation
- The Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman Yojana (PM POSHAN) the mid-day meal programme in its new avatar is all set to broad base itself even to students of pre-primary levels or BAL Vatikas of government and government-aided primary schools along with primary and upper primary schoolchildren who are already within the ambit of the mid-day meal programme.
- The PM POSHAN envisages providing 450 Kcal energy and 12g of protein for primary; 700 Kcal and 20g protein for upper primary children through diet diversity.
- In addition, monitoring haemoglobin levels of schoolchildren, appointment of nutritional experts to ensure the haemoglobin and growth status are continuously monitored.
- Focus on nutrigardens are all welcome steps as we prepare to reopen schools.
- Moreover, special provisions for nutritional items for children in districts with high prevalence of anaemia and the involvement of farmer producer organisations and self-help group women will strengthen linkages and convergence for promoting children’s nutrition.
Virus and gene mutation
- Our genes were handed down to us from our ancestral ape, monkey, pig, shrew, gecko, fish, worm, grass, moss and bacterium, with several other creatures in between.
- Without genetic mutations, there would be no humans or, for that matter, any other life form that we see around us.
- These mutations tiny errors in replicating the genetic code occur randomly each time a cell (or virus) makes copies of itself, thereby becoming the starting point for an unexpected evolutionary journey.
- A very tiny number of mutations successfully create variation in a population.
- Natural selection then amplifies traits and creates variants which eventually can evolve into distinct species.
- These changes could be anything that confers an ability to thrive better in an evolving environment blending a chameleon more effectively into a forest that is drying up;
- extending the necks of okapis and gerenuks so they can more easily nibble on the overhanging foliage of tall trees; or simply helping microbes evade a strong immune response and allowing them to attach themselves to a cell
- Viruses together with other microbes speed up the gene exchange between similar and often unrelated life forms.
- From a virus’s perspective, all living creatures are genetic Frankenstein’s monsters that they have stitched together.
- Nearly 8% of our genes, for instance, are uniquely viral in origin, and despite thousands and millions of years of adding, editing and deleting genes, we remain genetically similar in many ways.
- A virus is capable of crossing over into us to cause infection because some of our shared genes, proteins and common cellular components enable it to establish itself.
- Take SARS-CoV-2, one of our most recent chance encounters. A few generations ago, a population of viruses acquired changes in their genes (and proteins) from an animal host which provided them with the ability to infect humans.
- The virus binds to a protein receptor, ACE2 (or Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2.
- angiotensin is a protein hormone that causes blood vessels to become narrower and is vital for maintaining blood pressure and fluid balance in the body), which it recognizes in us.
- Viruses cause a billion infections a second.
- They tinker and shuffle genes at great speed, creating possibilities of making new varieties of life.
Report on mental health and death penalty
- ‘Death worthy: A Mental Health Perspective of the Death Penalty’, an important report by Project 39A, based at the National Law University, Delhi, was published.
- It explores the mental health concerns of death row prisoners, the intellectual disabilities they have, and the psychological impact of being on death row
- The United Nations Commission on Human Rights calls upon countries “not to impose the death penalty on a person suffering from any form of mental disorder or to execute any such person”. Yet, the laws of most countries don’t explicitly prohibit this.
Mental illness and intellectual disabilities complicate the death penalty
- Persons with mental illness and intellectual disabilities may not be able to instruct their lawyers to mount a robust defense, thus jeopardizing the right to a fair trial enshrined in our Constitution.
- In Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India (2014), the Supreme Court had said that mental illness should warrant the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment
- The report also highlights another important and neglected aspect of mental illness: the social determinants of mental illness.
- Mental illness is more common among the poor and those with mental illness are more likely to end up in poverty.
- Those who have experienced childhood abuse are significantly more likely to experience mental illness in adulthood than those who did not
- In Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980). The apex court had laid down guidelines that courts should take into consideration before imposing the death penalty.
- These include mental health issues such as “extreme mental or emotional disturbance” at the time of the incident and acting under “duress”.
- A psycho-social approach will allow courts to take into account the life history of an individual and relate this to the mental state of the individual.
Indus dolphin conservation
- The census of one of the world’s most threatened cetaceans, the Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) a freshwater dolphin that is found in river Beas, is all set to commence in the winter as part of a project by the Centre.
- However, Punjab’s wildlife preservation wing has gone a step ahead to not only protect the dolphins but also their natural habitat.
- The Indus river dolphin is classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and, until recently, it was believed that these dolphins were endemic to Pakistan.
- But in 2007, a remnant but viable population of Indus dolphins was discovered in Punjab’s Harike wildlife sanctuary and in the lower Beas River.
- “Alongside research, importance will be on engaging the riparian communities by encouraging community-led biological monitoring. Villages around the hot spot sites of dolphin occurrence will be developed as models for community-led conservation.
- Extension programme will be held to develop a group of dedicated individuals, called ‘Beas-Dolphin Mitras’ [friends and protectors] of the river Beas.
- The project also will embark on dolphin eco-tourism.
- We will adopt a participatory process to address various water conservation-related issues, including protection of freshwater habitats,”