Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 24 Apr, 2021

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WEF Releases “Energy Transition Index 2021”

What is the News?

The World Economic Forum(WEF) has released the Energy Transition Index, 2021.

About Energy Transition Index(ETI), 2021:

  • Energy Transition Index is an annual report by the World Economic Forum (WEF). It prepares the report in collaboration with Accenture.
  • Purpose: The ranking aims to enable policy-makers and businesses to plan for a successful energy transition.
  • ETI checks the readiness of countries for transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems.
  • Parameters: The index ranks 115 countries on the basis following three dimensions:
    • Economic development and growth,
    • Environmental sustainability and
    • Lastly, Energy security and access;

Key Findings Related to India:

  • India ranks at the 87th position among 115 countries in the Energy Transition Index (ETI).
  • The report also says India improved in energy transition through the subsidy reforms and by increasing energy access with a regulatory environment and strong political commitment.

Other Key Takeaways:

  • Further, Sweden tops the index. It is followed by Norway and Denmark.
  • China has been ranked 67th on the index. India and China collectively account for a third of global energy demand. However, their improvement level is strong over the past decade even though coal continues to play a significant role in their energy mix.

Source: Economic Times

WMO Releases “State of the Global Climate Report 2020”

What is the News?

The World Meteorological Organization(WMO) has released its annual State of the Global Climate Report 2020.

Key Findings of annual State of the Global Climate Report 2020:

  • Temperature: 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña. The other two warmest years were 2016 and 2019.
    • Moreover, the six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record. Further, 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.
  • Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic: Extreme weather combined with COVID-19 is a double blow for millions of people in 2020. However, the pandemic-related economic slowdown failed to slow down climate change and its impacts.
  • Greenhouse Gases: Concentrations of the major greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2019 and 2020 despite a temporary reduction in emissions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 response.
  • Oceans: In 2020, the oceans had the highest heat content on the record. Over 80% of the ocean services area experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2020.
  • Sea-level rise: Sea level has recently been rising at a higher rate partly due to the increased melting of the ice sheets.
  • Arctic Region: In 2020, the Arctic sea-ice extent came down to second-lowest on record.
  • Antarctica Region: Antarctic ice sheet has exhibited a strong mass loss trend since the late 1990s. This trend accelerated around 2005.

Findings Related to India:

  • India experienced one of its wettest monsoons since 1994, with a seasonal surplus of 9% that led to severe floods and landslides.
  • Cyclone Amphan which hit Kolkata in May 2020 was the costliest tropical cyclone for the North Indian Ocean region. It brought about an estimated loss of USD 14 billion.

About World Meteorological Organization (WMO):

  • WMO is an intergovernmental organization established by the ratification of the WMO Convention in 1950.
  • Origin: WMO originated from the International Meteorological Organization(IMO) which was established after the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.
  • Members: 193 Member States and Territories.India is one of the members.
  • Significance: It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Source: Down To Earth

Zydus Cadila’s antiviral drug “Virafin” gets emergency use nod

What is the News? 

Drug Controller General of India(DCGI) has granted emergency use approval for pharma major Zydus Cadila’s antiviral drug ‘Virafin’ to treat moderate COVID-19 in adults.

About Virafin Drug:

  • Virafin is an antiviral drug that is subcutaneously administered (injected under the skin). It is manufactured by a pharma major named “Zydus Cadila”.
  • The drug was originally approved for the treatment of liver disease caused by the hepatitis B and C virus.
  • The drug has now been repurposed for treating the moderate COVID-19 disease.
  • It has been found that when the drug was given to Covid patients in the early stage, it has shown significant improvement in moderate Covid cases.
  • The drug was also found to reduce hours of supplemental oxygen required by patients.
  • Moreover, patients who were treated with the drug ‘Virafin’ were tested Covid negative within 7 days.
  • Hence, after the emergency approval, the drug will now be available on the prescription of a medical specialist for use in hospital/institutional setup.

Source: The Hindu

UK Variant Behind current COVID-19 surge in Delhi: NCDC chief

What is the News?

The National Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) has released data obtained from the ‘Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-19’ Samples in India. UK Variant is the cause of Current COVID-19 surge in Delhi.

Who conducted the study?

Key Findings from the study:

  • Variants of Concern(VoC): The relative proportion of known Variants of Concern or VoC (the U.K., South Africa, Brazil variants) is around 11% of the sequenced samples.
    • VoC is a category used during the initial assessment of a newly emerged variant of a virus. Before this, an emerging variant may have been labeled a “variant of interest”.
  • The proportion of the UK. variant (B.1.1.7) in the samples sequenced from Delhi increased to 50% from 28% in the 2nd week of March.
    • The UK variant has a mutation N501Y. It increases the transmission of the virus leading to increased disease severity and mortality.
  • There was also a rise in the Indian variant (B.1.617). The Indian Variant possesses two mutations “E484K and L245R” that are associated with increased efficacy and decreasing the potency of vaccines.
  • Vaccines Effectiveness: According to a Preliminary report by the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, Covaxin and Covishield appeared to be effective against the Indian variant.

Source: The Hindu

“Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” – Centre to give 5 kg food grains free to poor

What is the News? The Union government announced that 5 kg of food grains would be provided to 80 crore beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for the months of May and June 2021.

About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana(PMGKAY):

  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana was announced as part of the relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Aim: To ensure sufficient food for the poor and needy during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Ministry: The department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
  • Features: Under the scheme, about 80 Crore National Food Security Act(NFSA) beneficiaries are eligible for an additional quota of free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) at a scale of 5 Kg per person per month over and above their regular monthly entitlement.
  • Duration: The scheme was announced in 2020 for three months till July. Later it was extended till November 2020 to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor.
    • However, the scheme is functional once again. As many States are undergoing curfews and the high rates of coronavirus infections, leading to a slowdown in economic activity.

Other Key Announcements:

  • Indian Railways and the Indian Air Force(IAF) are being deployed to provide oxygen to different States.
  • The Central government would be providing Covid-19 vaccines acquired by it to the States for free as in the past.

Source: The Hindu

“Harlequin Ichthyosis” – Odisha’s First Case

What is the News?

Odisha reported its first-ever case of a baby born with harlequin ichthyosis. It is a rare genetic condition.

Note: India’s first recorded case of a baby born with harlequin ichthyosis was in 2016, at a private hospital in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Such cases were also reported in Delhi, Patna, and West Bengal.

About Harlequin ichthyosis:

  • Harlequin ichthyosis is a severe genetic disorder that mainly affects the skin.
  • Cause: The disease is caused due to mutations in the ABCA 12 gene inherited from the parents.
    • The ABCA12 protein plays a major role in transporting fats in cells that make up the outermost layer of skin.
  • Severe mutations in the ABCA12 gene lead to the absence or partial production of the ABCA12 protein.
    • This results in a lack of lipid transport. As a result, skin development is affected, according to the severity of the mutation.
  • Impact on Skin: The disease creates large diamond-shaped plates across the body that are separated by deep cracks (fissures). The skin becomes dry and scaly almost like fish skin and hence the term ‘icthyosis’, derived from ‘ikthus’, Greek for fish.
  • Cases: The disease affects one in three million births.
  • Treatment: There is no cure for harlequin ichthyosis and treatment is centred around protecting the skin and preventing infection.

Source: Down To Earth

“Disaster Management Act, 2005” Invoked to facilitate supply of Medical Oxygen 

What is the News?

The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005 once again. This time to issue an order to ensure that the inter-state supply of medical oxygen is not obstructed for any reason whatsoever.

What does the order say?

  • There will be no restriction on the movement of medical oxygen between the States.
  • No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers. Especially to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state/UT in which the manufacturer/Supplier located.
  • No authority shall force the oxygen-carrying vehicles passing through the district or areas to make supplies to any particular district(s) or area.
  • The supply of oxygen for industrial purposes except those exempted by the Government is prohibited.
  • District magistrates and senior superintendent of police will be personally liable for the implementation of these directions.

About National Disaster Management Act, 2005:

  • The purpose of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 is to manage disasters. The Act includes the preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.
  • NDMA: The Act calls for the establishment of a National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson.
  • National Executive Committee(NEC): The Act provides the Central Government to constitute a National Executive Committee(NEC). This committee will assist the NDMA. The NEC is headed by the Union Home Secretary.

Relevant Sections of the Act:

  • Section 6: It gives NDMA the powers to prepare national plans for disaster management. It also ensures the implementation of the plan through the state disaster management authorities.
  • Section 10: It allows the NEC to give directions to governments regarding measures to be taken by them.
  • Section 33: It says that the District Authority may order any officer or any Department at the district level or any local authority to take such measures for the prevention or mitigation of disaster. Such officer or department shall be bound to carry out such order.
  • Penal Provisions: Sections 51 to 60 of the Act lay down penalties for specific offenses. Anyone found obstructing any officer or employee from performing their duty will be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year or fined, or be both.
    • Further, if such an act of obstruction leads to loss of lives or imminent danger, then the person can be jailed for up to two years

Note: The DM Act, 2005 came into being in the wake of the Tsunami disaster in 2004.

Section 188 of Indian Penal Code(IPC): It states that any person who disobeys an order given by a public servant will be punished with imprisonment upto 1 month. If such disobedience causes danger to human life, the term may extend to six months.

Source: The Hindu

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