National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 19th March 2020
In News: The UK’s Government Chief Scientific Adviser hinted at a strategy that would allow the novel coronavirus to infect 60% of the country’s population so that a degree of “herd immunity” could be achieved.
More on the Topic:
- Following widespread criticism, and with Imperial College London projecting a dire scenario if the pandemic remains uncontrolled, the UK has now retracted — and is looking at self-isolation for the elderly.
What does herd immunity mean?
- Herd immunity refers to preventing an infectious disease from spreading by immunising a certain percentage of the population. While the concept is most commonly used in the context of vaccination, herd community can also be achieved after enough people have become immune after being infected.
- The premise is that if a certain percentage of the population is immune, members of that group can no longer infect another person. This breaks the chain of infection through the community (“herd”), and prevents it from reaching those who are the most vulnerable.
When do we know that a population has achieved herd immunity?
- It depends on multiple factors: how effective the vaccine for a given disease is, how long-lasting immunity is from both vaccination and infection, and which populations form critical links in transmission of the disease.
- Mathematically, it is defined on the basis of a number called “herd immunity threshold”, which is the number of immune individuals above which a disease may no longer circulate. The higher the R0, the higher the percentage of the population that has to be immunised to achieve herd immunity.
- Polio has a threshold of 80% to 85%, while measles has 95%. With the current data for COVID-19, experts have estimated a threshold of over 60%. That means more than 60% of the population needs to develop immunity to reach the stage of herd immunity.
National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2019
In News: Rajya Sabha passed both the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill 2019.
More on the topic:
- The bill aim at providing a quality and affordable medical education system ensuring high quality medical professionals in Indian System of Medicine, in all parts of the country.
- The Commission will also ensure adoption of latest medical research in the work of such professionals.
Key Features of the Bill:
- Constitution of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine:
- The NCISM will consist of 29 members, appointed by the central government.
- Functions of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine:
- Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine.
- Ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of Indian System of Medicine to the regulations made under the Bill.
- Ensuring coordination among the autonomous boards set up under the Bill.
- Constitution of Autonomous Boards:
- Board of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Sowa-Rigpa responsible for formulating standards, curriculum, guidelines for setting up of medical institutions, and granting recognition to medical qualifications at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in their respective disciplines.
- Board of assessment and rating to assess as well as to grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of medicine.
- Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain a National Register and deal with ethical issues.
- Entrance Exams:
- In order to ensure transparency it also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam that all graduates will have to clear to obtain their license to practice Indian medicine.
- Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
- Advisory Council for Indian System of Medicine:
- The Advisory Council for Indian System of Medicine will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NCISM.
- Further, the Council will advise the NCISM on measures to determine and maintain the minimum standards of medical education.
In News: The Ministry of Railways presented the details of Greenco System in the country in Lok Sabha.
More on the Topic:
- It is the assessment of major workshops and production units in various industries based on their ecological sustainability.
- The assessment helps the companies in resource conservation and reduction. It also helps to track the environmental impact caused by the infrastructural projects undertaken.
· The Greenco Certification or rating is provided by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
· The factors considered while providing the certification is greenhouse gas mitigation; zero waste; recycling and material conservation; world class energy efficiency and toxicity reduction.
· The Greenco rating was acknowledged in the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) submitted by India to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015.
Topic: Polity and Governance
In News: The Supreme Court removed Manipur Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh, against whom disqualification petitions were pending before the Speaker since 2017, from the state cabinet and restrained him “from entering the Legislative Assembly till further orders”.
More on the Topic:
- The apex court’s ruling came on an appeal against a Manipur High Court order on a petition seeking directions to Speaker Y Khemchand to decide the disqualification pleas within a reasonable period of time. (Based on Schedule 10 of the constitution)
- The court opinioned that the Speaker, in acting as a Tribunal under the Tenth Schedule, is bound to decide disqualification petitions within a reasonable period which will depend on the facts of each case.
Court’s exceptional power:
- Article 212 of the Constitution bars courts from inquiring into proceedings of the Legislature.
- In this case, however, prompted by the fact that the Speaker’s conduct has been called into question on several occasions, the court invoked Article 142, which allows the Supreme Court to pass any order necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter.
|Anti Defection Law:
· The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.
· It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
· The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.
· The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
· If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
· Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
· Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
· If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
· If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
Exceptions under the law:
· Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances.
· The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.
· In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.
Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:
· The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: Scientists from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) (under department of S&T) have developed a starch-based ‘hemostat’ material that concentrates the natural clotting factors in blood by physically absorbing excess fluid.
More on the Topic:
- The product is made by micro particles known as ‘calcium-modified carboxymethyl-starch’.
- Starch is a carbohydrate extracted from agricultural raw materials, starch molecule consists of a large number of glucose units joined by glycosidic bonds.
- When the microparticles combine, they create an adherent gel that can remain on the wound until slowly dissipating as healing proceeds.
- These microparticles are prepared by modifying some of the chemical hydroxyl groups on starch to carboxymethyl groups while also incorporating the beneficial calcium ions, which encourages the aggregation of red blood cells and platelets and their activation to generate the fibrin protein network that forms a stable blood clot.
- This modification increases the ability of the molecules to interact with water.
- This is the basis of its impressive ability to absorb fluid from the blood and hence concentrate the clotting factors.(Hemostat materials absorb excess fluid by concentrating the natural clotting factors in the blood that are critical for stopping the blood flow)
- The product has increased absorption capacity and adhesion, it is inexpensive, non-toxic, biocompatible as well as biodegradable.
- Presently, no single hemostatic agent exists that can work in all situations and current hemostat materials are very expensive and available mostly in developed countries.
· Clotting is an inevitable process needed to prevent blood loss when there is cut or injury.
· A blood clot is a clump of blood that has changed from a liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state.
· Blood clots are healthy and lifesaving when they stop bleeding, however unnecessary clotting causes serious medical problems which include a heart attack, stroke, etc.
Topic: Defence Sector
In News: The Ministry of Defence gave the go-ahead for the purchase of 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
More on the Topic:
- LCA Tejas is a single-engine multirole light combat aircraft. It replaced the aging Mig 21 fighter planes.
- It is the second supersonic fighter jet that was developed by HAL (the first one being HAL HF-24 Marut).
- Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the autonomous society of DRDO is the design agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the manufacturer.
- It is the lightest and smallest multirole supersonic fighter aircraft in its class. It can attend the maximum speed of Mach 1.8.
- It is designed to carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided and standoff weaponry.
- It is a single pilot aircraft that has a maximum takeoff weight of 13,300 kg. It has a general range of 850 km and a combat range of 500 km.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: The Real-time Train Information system is being installed in locomotives to enable better tracking of train movement.
More on the Topic:
- The RTIS Project is being executed by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- It has been entirely designed, developed and manufactured within the country.
- RTIS enables automatic acquisition of train movement timings at the stations, including that of arrival & departure or run-through.
- It also helps in automatic plotting of control charts in ICT based Control Office Application (COA) on all divisions of Indian Railways.
- It also enables the train controllers to track the location and speed of locomotives/trains more closely, without any manual intervention, which helps in improving the efficiency of train control.
- Further, it is extremely handy for emergency messaging from locomotive to control centre, helping in faster response in case of any breakdown or disaster.
- The real time data of RTIS is also linked with the National Train Enquiry System (NTES). Thus, more accurate train running information is being passed to the passengers, which helps them to conveniently plan their arrival at the stations.