Current Affairs Weekly (3-9 May 2021)

National

SC sets up 12-member national task force to streamline oxygen allocation across country

  • The Supreme Court has constituted a 12-member task force to assess availability and distribution of medical oxygen – on scientific, rational and equitable basis – across the country.
  • The task force will also suggest measures to ensure availability of medicines needed to treat COVID-19.
  • The Task Force is to start work immediately and has an initial life-span of six months.

DCGI gives emergency approval to anti-Covid oral drug (2-deoxy-D-glucose) developed by DRDO

  • In a major breakthrough against the corona virus infection, a drug developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO got the approval for emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India, DCGI.
  • The drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose comes in powder form in sachet, which needs to be taken orally by dissolving it in water.
  • It accumulates in the virus infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production.
  • Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.
  • The drug has been developed by one of the DRDO labs, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, INMAS in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.

Second World War airport in Assam takes commercial wings

  • An airport built for warplanes in 1939 took commercial wings recently for western Assam’s Dhubri district during the worst of times.
  • Rupsi airport was one of South Asia’s largest airports with a 1.8 km runway used by Allied aircraft for supplying arms, manpower and ammunition to forces in Burma and China during World War II.
  • Rupsi is Assam’s 7th airport and 15th in the northeast including Pakyong in Sikkim.
  • It was abandoned after the last flight — a Vayudoot from Dhubri to Guwahati — took off in 1983.

Army inducts women as soldiers for the first time

  • The first batch of 83 women soldiers was inducted into the Indian Army’s military police by the Corps of Military Police Centre and School (CMP C&S) at the Dronacharya Parade Ground in Bengaluru.
  • Until now, the army had women officers only in certain streams and this is the first time that women have been inducted in the non-officer category.

Centre alone can identify socially and educationally backward classes: Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court said recently that after the insertion of Article 342A in the Constitution, the Centre alone is empowered to identify Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC).
  • It emphasised that the Centre could include a community in a list, which is supposed to be published under Article 342A (1), specifying the SEBCs in each state and Union Territory.
  • The Apex court said that the 102nd constitutional amendment has taken away the powers of state governments to designate Socially and Economically Backward Classes.
  • The State Government has full powers to only identify a backward class.
  • The 102nd Constitutional Amendment inserted Articles 338 B and Article 342 A.
  • The Article 338 B deals with the structure, powers and duties of National Commission for Backward Classes and the Article 342 deals with the power of the president to notify a particular caste as Socially and Economically Backward.

Mandatory online certification of disability through UDID portal from June 1

  • The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Government of India has issued Gazette notification making it mandatory for all States/UTs to grant certificate of disability through online mode only using UDID portal with effect from 1 June 2021.
  • The UDID project is under implementation since 2016. Concerned authorities of all States/UTs have been imparted training by DEPwD for working on the UDID portal.

State

Telangana Govt bans controversial herbicide glyphosate

  • The Telangana Government has imposed a total ban on glyphosate, a controversial herbicide that is used in cotton farms to kill weeds.
  • The reason for the ban is that the excess use of this herbicide by farmers is causing harm to soil and human health.
  • As per a notice issued by the state government, anybody violating the ban will be punished under the Insecticide Act 1968.

Himanta to take over as Assam CM

  • HimantaBiswaSarma, the face of the BJP in Northeast India, will be sworn in as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam.
  • Earlier, Mr. Sonowal submitted his resignation to the Governor, paving the way for his younger colleague to succeed him.
  • Both leaders had cut their political teeth in the All Assam Students’ Union.
  • The BJP won 60 of the 126 seats in the Assam Assembly election.
  • Its allies, AsomGana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), won nine and six seats, respectively.

International

WHO approves China’s Sinopharmvaccine

  • The World Health Organization has approved the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — the first Chinese jab to receive the WHO’s green light.
  • WHO gave emergency use listing to Sinopharm Beijing’s Covid-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality.
  • The vaccine’s efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalised cases of COVID-19 was estimated to be 79% when all age groups are combined.

China rocket debris falls in Indian Ocean near Maldives

  • Recently, Debris from the last stage of China’s Long March rocket that had last month carried a key component of its under-construction space station fell into the waters of the Indian Ocean west of the Maldives.

E.U., India relaunch FTA talks, sign connectivity partnership

  • India and the European Union agreed to relaunch free trade negotiations by resuming talks that were suspended in 2013 for the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently interacted virtually from Delhi with President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen and E.U. Council President Charles Michel along with 27 European leaders gathered in Porto, Portugal
  • The partnership is seen as a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and comes as the E.U.’s negotiations with China on their Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) have run into trouble.

INTERPOL launches “ID-Art app” to better protect cultural heritage

  • An applaunched by INTERPOL will help identify stolen cultural property, reduce illicit trafficking, and increase the chances of recovering stolen works and artefacts.
  • INTERPOL’s ID-Art app enables users ranging from law enforcement to the general public to get mobile access to the INTERPOL database of stolen works of art, create an inventory of private art collections and report cultural sites potentially at risk.

Bill on act on screening of foreign direct investments in Denmark

  • Denmark has made law for screening the FD in The country.
  • The title of the bill is “Bill on Act on screening of certain foreign direct investments etc. in Denmark (Investment Screening Act)”.
  • The bill is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2021.
  • The purpose of the bill is to ensure that foreign direct investments etc. do not constitute a threat to national security or the public order in Denmark.

SpaceX successfully lands its Starship rocket

  • The SpaceX of Elon Musk recently launched SN15, an Starship rocket.
  • The first two prototypes of Starship rockets that were launched in December 2020 and February 2021 failed to land properly and exploded.

Economy

RBI constitutes S Janaki Raman committee

  • The Reserve Bank has constituted a committee to assist the second Regulatory Review Authority (RRA 2.0) which was constituted by the central bank earlier this month to streamline regulations and reduce the compliance burden of regulated entities.
  • Headed by SBI Managing Director S Janakiraman, the advisory group will assist the RRA by identifying regulations, guidelines, and returns that can be rationalised.
  • The RBI has set up the second Regulatory Review Authority (RRA 2.0), initially for a period of one year from May 01, 2021.

TRIPS waiver will facilitate timely availability of affordable COVID-19 vaccines: India at UNSC

  • India has welcomed the US support for a relaxation in the norms of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement to ensure quick and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines and medicines for developing countries.
  • In view of the global health crisis and the need to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, India and South Africa in 2020 had proposed in WTO a relaxation in the norms of the agreement on TRIPS.
  • The proposal has received the support of over 120 countries.

Meeting of Group of 7 countries concludes in London

  • The meeting of the Group of Seven countries concluded in London with the pledge to work for more affordable COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On the coronavirus pandemic, the G7 pledged to work with the industry to expand the production of affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
  • This week’s meeting set the tone for the G7 leaders’ meeting in Cornwall, southwest England, next month, at which US President Joe Biden will make his international appearance for the first time after becoming the President.

Area of summer crops expands by 21.58%

  • As per the data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, the area under cultivation of summer crops has gone up by 21.58% from last year to 80.02 lakh hectares.
  • The rise is primarily due to sharp increase in pulses area, which has gone up by almost 70% from last year, raising hopes of a good harvest and extra income for farmers.
  • The pulses area has expanded to 17.75 lakh hectares as against 10.49 lakh hectare, last year.
  • Similarly, there is increase in oilseeds area also, which has seen a surge of 12.05%.
  • The main crop rice has also witnessed a rise in area by 15.52%.

World food price index climbs in April, highest since mid-2014 -FAO

  • According to the FAOWorld food prices increased for a 11th consecutive month in April, hitting their highest level since May 2014, with sugar leading a rise in all the main indices.
  • The Food Price Index measures monthly changes of a basket of food grains such as oil seeds, cereals, dairy products, sugar and meat.

Science and Environment

Mucormycosis-Black Fungus Infection

  • The National COVID Task Force recently issued an advisory against Mucormycosis.
  • Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus infection is increasing among the COVID patients.
  • The disease mainly affects the skin, lungs and brain.
  • It is rare. But has been increasing among COVID patients in Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

 

Centre notifies 48.32 sq km around TCFS as eco sensitive zone

  • The ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified 48.32 sq km around the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).
  • The ESZ is meant to act as a buffer for protected areas and reduces developmental pressures around a wildlife sanctuary or national park.
  • A 48.32 sq km area, extending from 0 km to 3.89 km from the boundary of the sanctuary – located in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai – has been notified as ESZ.
  • Spread across 1690.5 hectare in Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Kanjur, TCFS is home to 12 mangrove species, 39 categories of mangrove species, 167 species of birds like flamingos, 45 fish species, 59 species of butterflies, 67 insect species and mammals like jackals among others.

CoWIN Gets 4-Digit Security Code

  • In view of complaints by several users that they received notification of vaccination dose administered to them irrespective of missing their appointments made on CoWIN, the Union Health Ministry has introduced a new 4-digit security code feature in the CoWIN portal.
  • The ”4-digit security code” to minimise errors for online bookings/appointments will become operational from May 8.

Oldest Human burial in Africa discovered

  • The scientists have found the oldest human burial in Africa.
  • The site is 78,000 years old.
  • The cave site was discovered near Kenyan coast.
  • The site is called “Panga yaSaidi” where the remains of a child whose age was two to three years led to the discovery of the cave.

INS Kolkata reaches Kuwait to bring liquid medical oxygen (LMO)

  • As a part of Operation Samudra Setu II, INS Kolkata has reached Kuwait to collect Liquid Medical Oxygen from the country.
  • Earlier it embarked 43 oxygen concentrators and two hundred bottles of oxygen from Qatar.
  • It is a stealth guided missile destroyer.
  • In 2015, BrahMos missile and Barak 8 missiles were test fired from INS Kolkata.

Asiatic lions test COVID positive

  • Around eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for COVID-19 at Hyderabad Nehru Zoological Park.
  • This is the first time that transmission of virus to animal has been detected in India.
  • Asiatic Lions are one of the five Pantherine cats that are native to India. The other four are Indian Snow Leopard, Bengal Tiger, Clouded Leopard and Indian Leopard.
  • The range of a male Asiatic lions varies between 144 kilometres and 230 kilometres.
  • Gir National Park is the only known habitat for the Asiatic lions in the world.

N protein of Coronavirus

  • The researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research recently showed that apart from spike proteins, the other proteins in the COVID-19 virus such as the Nucleocaspid protein or the N protein also play significant role in transmission (or infectivity) of the virus.
  • Thus, it is not enough to develop antibodies, therapeutic drugs and entry inhibitors based on spike protein alone.

SUTRA

  • SUTRA stands for Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive) and Removed Approach.
  • SUTRA is used to chart the trajectory of COVID-19.
  • It is used to predict the future of COVID-19 infections, susceptibility, undetected and positive persons in the country.
  • This SUTRA Model is backed by GoI and was developed by professors from IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad.

Indian Army’s First Green Solar Energy plant in Sikkim

  • The Indian Army recently launched the first Green Solar Energy harnessing plant in Sikkim.
  • It was launched to benefit the troops of the Indian army.
  • The plant uses Vanadium based battery technology.
  • It was built at an altitude of 16,000 feet.
  • The capacity of the plant is 56 KVA.

Sports

P.V. Sindhu for ‘Believe in Sports’ campaign

  • World badminton champion P.V. Sindhu, along with Canada’s Michelle Li, has been nominated as an athlete ambassador for the International Olympic Committee’s ‘Believe in Sport’ campaign aimed at preventing competition manipulation.
  • The pair have been global ambassadors for BWF’s ‘i am badminton’ campaign since April 2020.

Seema Bisla seals Olympic quota with semifinal win at World Qualifiers

  • Indian wrestler Seema Bisla has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after beating Poland’s Anna Lukasiak in the 50kg semifinal at the World Olympic Wrestling Qualifiers in Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Seema is the fourth Indian woman wrestler to book an Olympic slot.
  • At 50kg, Seema Bisla finally worth her weight in gold.
  • She also became the second Indian wrestler to earn an Olympic quota in two days after Sumit Malik qualified in the men’s 125kg category

Laureus sports awards

Recently, 2021 Laureus World Sports Awards were announced. Here is the list of winners:

  • Sportswoman of the Year: Naomi Osaka (tennis, Japan)
  • Sportsman of the Year: Rafael Nadal (tennis, Spain)
  • Lifetime Achievement: Billie Jean King (tennis, USA)
  • Team of the Year: FC Bayern (football, Germany)
  • Breakthrough of the Year: Patrick Mahomes (American Football, USA)
  • World Comeback of the Year: Max Parrot (Snowboarding, Canada)
  • Sport for Good: Kickformore by Kickfair (football, German)
  • Sporting Inspiration Award: Mo Salah (football, Liverpool & Egypt)
  • Athlete Advocate of the Year: Lewis Hamilton (Formula One, Mercedes & UK)

Mountaineer Kami Rita Sherpa creates new record

  • A 52-year-old Nepali Sherpa climbed the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest, for the 25th time, breaking his own record for summiting the mountain most number of times.
  • Kami had climbed Mt Everest for the 24th time in 2019.
  • In 2019, he had reached the summit of Mt Everest twice in one month.
  • Kami had climbed Mt Everest for the first time in May 1994.

Former India hockey players MK Kaushik, Ravinder Pal Singh die due to Covid-19

  • MK Kaushik, a key member of India’s last Olympic gold-winning team and later a successful coach of the national side, died recently due to Covid-19.
  • Tragically, his 1980 teammate Ravinder Pal Singh also died from the same causes.
  • Under his coaching, the men’s team won a gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, while the women’s team won bronze at the Doha Asian Games in 2006.
  • Singh, who also played at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Stop Tokyo Olympics

  • The Stop Tokyo Olympics is an online campaign that is wanting to stop the Tokyo Olympics Games.
  • However, the organisers of the Olympic Games are to go ahead in conducting the games.

World Snooker Championship in Sheffield (UK) 2021

  • In Snooker, English professional player Mark Selby has become the World Snooker Champion for the fourth time.
  • He won the Championship title after defeating fellow mate Shaun Murphy by 18-15 victory at a professional snooker tournament, that took place from 17 April to 3 May 2021 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.

BCCI suspends IPL 2021 due to Covid-19

  • Indian Premier League Governing Council and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has postponed the 14th edition of Indian Premier League in view of surge in covid cases in the country.

Award/Honour

UN annual Memorial Service 2021

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres honoured Indian UN Peacekeeping officer Yuvraj Singh, who died in line of duty in 2020, during the UN annual Memorial Service 2021.

15th Sheikh Zayed Book Award

  • Mumbai-born academician Dr.Tahera Qutbuddin, a professor of Arabic Literature, Department of NELC, University of Chicago, has been adjudged the winner of the 15th Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
  • She won the award for her recent book Arabic Oration: Art and Function, published by Brill Academic Publishers of Leiden in 2019.

Persons/places

Jurgen Habermas: German philosopher Jurgen Habermas has rejected a literary award by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over human rights concerns in the Gulf country.Earlier, Habermas had accepted the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the Arab World’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes, but then reversed the decision after reactions from the German media.

 

Al-Aqsa Mosque: More than 160 people were wounded when Israeli riot police clashed with Palestinians at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque capping a week of violence in the Holy City and the occupied West Bank.Al-Aqsa Mosque, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Islam.

Vanraj Bhatia: Music composer Vanraj Bhatia died at 94. Hehad won National Film Award for Best Music Direction for TV series Tamas (1988), Sangeet NatakAkademi Award (1989) and Padma Shri (2012).

Prateek Chaudhuri: Renowned sitar player Prateek Chaudhuri died due to Covid-related complications, almost a week after his father, music maestro Pandit Devbrata Chaudhuri, succumbed to the virus.

MK Stalin: DMK president MK Stalin was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu at Raj Bhavan in Chennai. The newly appointed CM will head a cabinet of 34 ministers, who also took oath at the small ceremony that was presided over by the governor, Banwarilal Purohit.

Chaudhary Ajit Singh:The founder and chief of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), was the son of the late Chaudhary Charan Singh, former Prime Minister of India. Ajit Singh passed away of Covid-19 at the age of 82.

 

 

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