Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 1 May, 2021

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“Immunisation Agenda 2030 or IA2030” launched on World Immunisation Week.

What is the News?

Global agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, GAVI and others have launched the Immunisation Agenda 2030 or IA2030 during World Immunisation Week.

World Immunisation Week:

  • It is celebrated every year in the last week of April. It aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
  • The theme for 2021: Vaccines bring us closer.

About Immunisation Agenda 2030(IA2030):

  • The Immunisation Agenda 2030(IA2030) sets an ambitious, overarching global vision and strategy for vaccines and immunisation for the decade 2021–2030.
  • Vision: IA2030 envisions “A world where everyone, everywhere, at every age, fully benefits from vaccines for good health and well-being.”
  • Based on: The IA2030 is based on the learnings from Global Vaccine Action Plan(GVAP). IA2030 has a target to address the unmet targets of the GVAP.
    • The GVAP  was developed to help realize the vision of the “Decade of Vaccines(2011–2020)”.
    • GVAP was launched in 2012 with the aim to prevent millions of deaths by 2020. The GVAP aims to achieve this through more equitable access to vaccines for people in all communities.
  • Core Principles: The IA 2030 strategy is guided by four core principles: it puts people in the centre. The strategy is led by countries. They will implement the strategy through broad partnerships and data.

Key Features of Immunisation Agenda 2030:

  • The IA2030 will ensure the benefits of immunisation are shared equitably among and within countries.
  • It will focus on a bottom-up approach. This is in contrast to the GVAP’s ‘top-down’ approach.
  • It will give priority to people particularly, the most marginalised communities living in fragile and conflict-affected settings. It also gives priority to mobile populations such as people moving across borders.

Targets:

  • To avoid 50 million vaccine-preventable infections in this decade as part of this immunization program.
  • To reduce the number of zero-dose children by 50%. The programme hopes to do this by extending immunisation services to 13 million such children.
    • Zero-dose children are those who have received no vaccines through immunisation programs.
  • Achieve 90% coverage for essential vaccines given in childhood and adolescence
  • Completing 500 national or subnational introduction of new or under-utilized vaccines. This includes vaccines such as COVID-19, rotavirus, or human papillomavirus(HPV), etc.

Significance:

  • The agenda will help by contributing to the achievement of the UN-mandated sustainable development goals or SDGs, specifically SDG3. SDG 3 aims to“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

Source: Down To Earth


“Tianhe” – Chinese Space Station Core Module

What is the News?

China has launched the main module of its first permanent space station named Tianhe, or the “Heavenly Harmony” module.

About Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony module:

  • Tianhe is the core module of China’s permanent space station. The space station is named Tiangong Space Station.
  • The module was launched into space aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center in China.
  • The module consists of three sections:
    • The habitable living quarter,
    • The non-habitable service section,
    • A docking hub.
  • Functions of the Module:
    • The Module provides life support and living quarters for three crew members.
    • Further, the module also provides guidance, navigation and orientation control for the station.
    • It also provides the station’s power, propulsion and life support systems.
  • Significance: This module is the first of the 11 missions to build and supply the permanent space station.

About Tiangong Space Station:

  • It is a planned Chinese Permanent space station to be placed in Low Earth orbit.
  • The Space Station roughly will have one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station. Also, It will be the size of the decommissioned Russian Mir space station.
  • The operations of the station will be controlled by the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in China.

Source: The Hindu


Saudi Arabia joins “Net Zero Producers Forum” on climate change

What is the News?

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will be joining Canada, the US, Qatar and Norway in the formation of the Net Zero Producers Forum.

About Net Zero Producers Forum:

  • The Net Zero Producers Forum has been formed for the oil and gas producing countries. The Forum aims to discuss the ways to achieve net zero carbon emission targets to limit global warming.
  • The countries will also discuss ways to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  • Strategies: The Forum will consider strategies and technologies which include

Note: Qatar, the US, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Norway are collectively responsible for 40% of global oil and gas production.

Targets of Countries under Paris Climate Agreement:

  • US: It has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Canada: It has pledged to cut emissions by 40-45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Saudi Arabia has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by generating 50% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030.
  • EU: It has shown a commitment to reduce emissions by 55 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

 What is Net-Zero?

  • Net-zero is also referred to as carbon-neutrality.
  • It does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • Rather, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • Absorption of the emissions can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests
  • The removal of gases from the atmosphere requires futuristic technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

Source: AIR


“Oldest water on Earth” helps in the quest for life on Mars

What is the News?

According to Scientists, the findings of the “Oldest Water on Earth” could provide information about the nature of water and life on Earth and the possibility of finding life on Mars.

The Oldest Water on Earth:

  • In 2009, Geologist Dr Barbara Sherwood Lollar of the University of Toronto extracted water from a Canadian mine. That water was found to be 1.6 billion years old– the oldest to be found on our planet.
  • The discovery of water was at a depth of 2.4 kilometres in Kidd Creek Mine in Canada.
  • The sample of the oldest water was then sent to the UK’s Oxford University for further research.

What did the scientists find?

  • The oldest water on Earth was found to be highly saline. The oldest water was ten times saltier than seawater.
  • The chemolithotrophic microbes had been able to survive in this highly saline water
    • Chemolithotrophic microbes: These are bacteria that can thrive in the most extreme surroundings such as the absence of light, organic presence, etc.
  • Moreover, these microbes were found feeding on nitrogen and sulphate. The chemistry that supported them is similar to ocean beds that are known to support similar extreme life forms.
  • Hence, it was concluded that the Canadian Shield on which the Kidd Creek Mine is located used to form an ocean floor in the past.
  • However, due to millions of years of flux, the horizontal seabed became vertical from which the water sample was extracted.

Significance of these Findings:

 Possibility of Life on Mars:

  • The Canadian Shield which has the least tectonic activity is the closest analogue on Earth to the subsurface of Mars.
  • If the life-supporting water can be found at this Canadian Shield which is 2.4 km below the Earth.
  • Then, it may be possible that the same could be true in the case of the Red Planet.
  • Hence, this hypothesis provides help for Mars missions like Perseverance. As the Perseverance and other missions are looking for signs of present or past life on Mars.

Source: Indian Express


“Armenian Genocide” recognised by the US

What is the News?

US President has officially recognised the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915-16 as an act of genocide.

 What is Genocide?

  • Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer has coined the term “genocide” in 1943.
  • According to Article II of the UN Convention on Genocide of December 1948, Genocide has been described as carrying out acts intended to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

What is the Armenian Genocide?

  • The Armenian Genocide is often called the first genocide of the twentieth century.
  • It refers to the systematic annihilation of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917 i.e. during the First World War.
  • According to estimates, approximately 1.5 million Armenians died. This is due to genocide, either massacre and killings, or from ill-treatment, abuse and starvation.
  • The Armenian diaspora marks April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Significance of Acknowledgment by US:

  • The acknowledgement by the US government would have a little legal impact on Turkey. It will only cause an embarrassment for Turkey. The US acknowledgement perhaps provides impetus to other countries for acknowledging the genocide.

Turkey’s stand:

  • Turkey has acknowledged that atrocities were committed against Armenians. But Turkey denies it as a genocide. As genocide will come with legal implications. Further, Turkey also challenges the estimates that 1.5 million were killed.

India’s stand:

  • India has not formally recognised the Armenian Genocide. It has primarily adopted this stance because of India’s geo-political interests in the region.

Source: The Hindu


European Parliament approves “EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement(TCA)” 

What is the News?

European Parliament has approved the final ratification of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement(TCA) between the UK and the European Union.

About EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement(TCA)

  • It is a free trade agreement signed in December 2020 between the United Kingdom(UK) and European Union(EU).
  • The agreement had already been ratified by the UK parliament and conditionally came into force. But so far pending the European Parliament’s approval.

Key Features of EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement(TCA):

 Trade:

  • There will be no taxes on goods (tariffs) or limits on the amount that can be traded (quotas) between the UK and the EU from 1 January 2021.
  • However, some new checks will be introduced at borders, such as safety checks and customs declarations.

Services and Qualifications:

  • Businesses offering services such as banking, architecture and accounting will lose their automatic right of access to EU markets. Also, they will face some restrictions.
  • There will no longer be automatic recognition of professional qualifications for people such as doctors, chefs and architects.

 Travel:

  • UK nationals will need a visa for stays of longer than 90 days(in a 180-day period) in the EU.

Judicial Disputes:

  • There will be no role in the UK for the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
    • Note: The ECJ is the highest court in the EU.
  • Disputes that cannot be resolved between the UK and the EU will be referred to an independent tribunal.

Fishing:

  • Over the next five-and-a-half years, the UK will gradually gain a greater share of the fish from its own waters.
  • The UK could choose to ban EU fishing boats from 2026. But the EU can impose taxes on British fish in response.

Data:

  • The UK will no longer have automatic access to key security databases. Instead, the UK will get access based upon request.

Education:

  • The UK will no longer participate in the Erasmus exchange programme.
    • Erasmus exchange programme is an EU scheme that helps students to study in other countries.
  • Students at universities in Northern Ireland will continue to participate in Erasmus, as part of an arrangement with the Irish government.

Source: The Hindu


“Emergency Financial Powers” to Armed Forces to tackle pandemic

What is the News?

The Union defence ministry has granted emergency financial powers to the country’s armed forces. This is provided in order to empower their efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic.

About Emergency Financial Powers to Armed Forces:

  • The Emergency Financial Powers will allow armed forces to establish and operate quarantine facilities and hospitals.
  • Besides, it will also help them to operate and procure equipment and resources to perform any required urgent tasks.
  • The armed forces will be able to perform all these operations without the usual clearances.

Who all has been given these powers?

  • Vice Chiefs of the armed forces including the Chief Of Integrated Defence Staff, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee(CISC) and General Officer Commanding-in-Chiefs(GOC-in-Cs) have these powers. Further, similar equivalents of all three Services have been given full powers.
  • Further, Corps Commanders and Area Commanders have been delegated powers up to ₹50 lakh per case
  • Also, Division Commanders, Sub Area Commanders and equivalents have been delegated powers up to ₹20 lakh per case.

Duration:

  • These powers have been devolved initially for three months from May 1 to July 31, 2021.
  • These are in addition to the emergency powers delegated to the medical officers of the armed forces.

Other Organizations contribution during the pandemic:

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is arranging big size oxygen cylinders for fulfilling requirements of different hospitals.
  • The Navy has sent a 76-member medical contingent from five Naval hospitals to the 900-bed COVID hospital in Ahmedabad. This is to bolster the availability of trained manpower.
  • The Cantonment Boards have extended support to civil administration in various parts of the country to fight over the increase in Covid-19 cases.

Source: The Hindu


 

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