Daily Analysis: 6th October 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

1. Responsible AI for Youth (PIB)

B) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

2. National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) (PIB)

3. Recommendations of the 42nd GST Council Meeting (PIB)

C) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

4. Election Observers: Roles and Duties (PIB)

D) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

5. Ind-CEPI mission (PIB)

6. Successful Flight Test of SMART (PIB)

7. All about Fats (TH, pg 4)

8. Nobel Prize in Medicine for Discovery of Hepatitis C Virus (IE)

9. Joker Malware

E) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

10. Separate Emission norms for agricultural machinery, construction equipment vehicles (PIB)

F) International Relations

11. Agenda for the upcoming Quad meeting (TH, pg 10)

G) Miscellaneous

12. KV Kamath Committee (IE)

13. UN Resident Coordinator (TH, pg 9)

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

1. Responsible AI for Youth (PIB)

Context: National e-Governance Division, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India and Intel India have designed a National Program for Government Schools: Responsible AI for Youth.

  • The aim of this program is to empower youth to become ‘AI ready’ and help reduce the AI skill gap in India.
  • The Program is designed to reach out to students from the government schools pan India and provide them with an opportunity to become part of the skilled workforce in an inclusive manner.

The key objectives of the program are:

  1. To demystify AI for youth and equip them with the skill sets and the mind-set required for AI readiness.
  2. To democratize access to AI tools and train youth to use them skillfully.
  3. To enable youth to create meaningful social impact solutions as evidence of achievement.
  • The Program will be open to students from Government Schools, classes 8 – 12 across the country.

Applications

  • AI is empowering Agriculture, healthcare.  Creating next generation urban infrastructure. And, addressing urban issues like: reducing traffic jams. Improving sewage systems and Laying our energy grids. 
  • It can be used for making our disaster management systems stronger. It can even be used to solve the problem of climate change.

Analysis

NITI Aayog and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • NITI Aayog has brought out a discussion paper to chalk out an ambitious strategy for India to become an artificial intelligence (AI) powerhouse.
  • AI is the use of computers to make decisions that are normally made by humans.

Many forms of AI surround us already, including

  1. Chatbots* on retail websites and
  2. Programs that flag fraudulent bank activity.
  • *Chatbots – also known as “conversational agents” – are software applications that mimic written or spoken human speech for the purposes of simulating a conversation or interaction with a real person.
  • At the heart of chatbot technology lies natural language processing or NLP, the same technology that forms the basis of the voice recognition systems used by virtual assistants such as Google Now, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

NITI Aayog wants to use AI solutions for India especially in five key sectors:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Healthcare
  3. Education
  4. Smart cities and infrastructure, and
  5. Transport
  • Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
  • Virtual reality uses a computer to create a simulated three-dimensional world.
  • Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

Key differences between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML):

Artificial IntelligenceMachine learning
The goal of AI is to make a smart computer system like humans to solve complex problems.The goal of ML is to allow machines to learn from data so that they can give accurate output.
In AI, we make intelligent systems to perform any task like a human.In ML, we teach machines with data to perform a particular task and give an accurate result.
Deep learning is a main subset of machine learning.
AI has a very wide range of scope.Machine learning has a limited scope.
AI is working to create an intelligent system which can perform various complex tasks.Machine learning is working to create machines that can perform only those specific tasks for which they are trained.
The main applications of AI are Siri, customer support using chatbots, Expert System, Online game playing, intelligent humanoid robot, etc.The main applications of machine learning are Online recommender systemGoogle search algorithmsFacebook auto friend tagging suggestions, etc.
It includes learning, reasoning, and self-correction.It includes learning and self-correction when introduced with new data.
AI completely deals with Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data.Machine learning deals with Structured and semi-structured data.
  • Deep Learning is a subfield of machine learning concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks.
  • Internet of things is the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
  • is the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics.

B) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

2. National Educational Technology Forum (NETF)

  • The new National Education Policy (NEP) suggests the formation of National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
  • The NEP 2020 has set out to produce e-content in eight regional languages (Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Malyalama, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya) to encourage digital content and technology.
  • The sectors in which AI can play a big role are: agriculture; creating next generation urban infrastructure; addressing urban issues like: reducing traffic jams, improving sewage systems and laying energy grids; making disaster management systems stronger; solving the problem of climate change; seamlessly bridge language barriers and preserve the diversity of languages and dialects; knowledge sharing etc.

3. Recommendations of the 42nd GST Council Meeting (PIB)

Context: The 42nd GST Council met under the Chairmanship of Union Finance Minister.

Analysis

  • The GST Council recommended the extension of Compensation Cess beyond the transition period of five years i.e. beyond June, 2022, for such period as may be required to meet the revenue gap.
  • To encourage domestic launching of satellites particularly by young start-ups, the satellite launch services supplied by ISRO, Antrix Corporation Ltd. and NSIL would be exempted.

Goods & Services Tax Council {GST Council}

  • The GST Council has been created in September 2016 under Article 279-A of the Constitution of India.
  • The main objective of GST is to develop a harmonized national market of goods and services.
  • It has its Secretariat office in New Delhi.

Composition of GST Council

GST Council is a federal forum with both centre and states in India on board. It is made of:

  1. The Union Finance Minister (as Chairman),
  2. The Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance, and
  3. The Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister, nominated by each state government.
  4. The Secretary (Revenue) will be appointed as the Ex-officio Secretary to the GST Council.
  5. The Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), will be included as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council.
  • The decisions of the GST Council are made by three-fourth majority of the votes cast.
  • The centre has one-third of the votes cast, and the states together have two-third of the votes cast.
  • Each state has one vote, irrespective of its size or population.
  • One-half of the total number of Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall constitute the quorum at its meetings.
  • The Goods and Services Tax Council shall recommend the date on which the goods and services tax be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel.

Functions of GST Council

  • Taxes, cesses, and surcharges to be subsumed under the GST;
  • Goods and services which may be subject to, or exempt from GST;
  • The threshold limit of turnover for application of GST;
  • Rates of GST;
  • Model GST laws, principles of levy, apportionment of IGST (Integrated Goods and Service Tax) and principles related to place of supply;
  • Special provisions with respect to the eight north eastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand.

Disputes Resolution Mechanism

  • The decisions of the Council are defined as ‘recommendations’, they are not binding on the States.
  • Clause 11 of Article 279A mentions that the GST Council shall establish a mechanism to adjudicate any dispute arising out of the recommendations of the Council or its implementation. Thereby it is providing for a dispute settlement mechanism to be constituted by the GST Council.
  • So, the question here is if the Councils decisions are advisory in nature then why the need of a dispute settlement mechanism.

C) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

4. Election Observers: Roles and Duties (PIB)

  • Observers of the Election Commission of India (ECI) are appointed under the powers conferred on it by Section 20B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the plenary powers available to the Commission under the Constitution of India.
  • They are the appointees of the Commission working under the superintendence, control and discipline of the Commission for the period from their appointment until the process of election is completed.
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951 was amended in August 1996 to add a new Section 20B.
  • This provides statutory powers to the Observers to watch the conduct of elections and especially in respect of counting of votes.
  • The observers are drawn from various central services, such as the Indian Revenue Service, the Indian Administrative Service, and the Indian Police Service.
  • They are considered to be on EC duty till the elections process ends.
  • They provide direct inputs to the Commission from the field as an interface with the election machinery, the candidates, political parties etc.
  • No Observer is allowed to go on a foreign trip during the period intervening between the briefing session and the completion of the election process.
  • Moreover, no officer appointed as Observer or kept in Reserve List shall proceed on any kind of leave without prior approval of the Commission till the completion of the election in Constituency (ies) in which officer has been appointed as Observer or for which Observer has been kept in reserve.

Specific roles of observers

  • Observing the processes of scrutiny of nominations and withdrawal of candidature by the Returning Officer;
  • Making a proper investigation on the complaints received in connection with the process of nomination;
  • Examining the unresolved grievances by the candidate/ political parties about the allotment of symbols;
  • Monitoring of the implementation of MCC and, if needed, even by visiting important rallies to get first-hand input etc.
  • Though checking the account of the expenditure of the candidates is entrusted to Expenditure Observers, however, General Observer is also required to do so, in case of exigencies, if directed by the Commission;
  • Tracking dispatch of postal ballot papers to the service voters;
  • Observing and regulating the counting process.
  • The observer has to sign the round wise counting sheets as proof of his/her satisfaction.
  • She/he can direct the Returning Officer to stop the counting of votes or declaration of result, if she/he notices any irregularities and bring the matter to the notice of the Commission for further directions.

D) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

5. Ind-CEPI mission (PIB)

  • The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, and Government of India has been implementing the Ind-CEPI mission ‘India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development’.
  • The objectives of this mission are aligned with the Global Initiative of Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness for Innovation (CEPI) and aims to strengthen the development of vaccines and associated competencies/technologies for the diseases of epidemic potential in India.
  • Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology, has now been recognized by CEPI as one of the Global Network of Laboratories for centralized assessment of COVID 19 Vaccines.
  • The CEPI network will initially involve six labs, one each in Canada, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and India. 
  • Under the CEPI Global network the Laboratory will use the same reagents and follow a common set of protocols to measure the immune response of multiple vaccine candidates under development and trial.
  • This will greatly harmonize the Vaccine trial process and allow different vaccine candidates to be compared and speed up the selection of the most effective candidate.
  • CEPI is an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.

6. Successful Flight Test of SMART (PIB)

  • Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) has been successfully flight-tested Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha.
  • SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo System for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations far beyond Torpedo range.

7. All about Fats (TH, pg 4)

Context: Despite an increase in cardiovascular diseases in the rural areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, 61% of consumers in the villages in Rajasthan are unaware of the hazards of trans fats, which are responsible for heart ailments by raising the cholesterol levels.

Analysis

  • The awareness level was a little higher when the correlation of trans fats was made with ‘Dalda’, which is a brand name of vansapati ghee, but not much of the consumers were aware of the margarine and bakery shortenings.
  • The survey was taken up in the backdrop of the release of World Health Organisation’s second progress report on global trans fat elimination, which had reminded India of its commitment to eliminate trans fats from food supply by 2022.
  • When the World Health Organisation called for a global ban on transfats by 2023, India announced that it would it do this a year before the deadline, by 2022.
  • Subsequently, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India issued two drafts capping trans fats to two per cent, but they are yet to be notified into law.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has also launched a new mass media campaign, called “Heart Attack Rewind”, the 30 second public service announcement (PSA), calling for the elimination of industrially produced trans fatty acids to less than 2% by the year 2022 in a phased manner.
  • “Heart Attack Rewind” warns citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fat and offers strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives.

What are Fats?

  • Fat is a nutrient. It is crucial for normal body function, and without it, we could not live.
  • Fats, which consist of a wide group of compounds, are usually soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water.
  • All types of fats, regardless of whether they are liquid or solid are called lipids.
  • Not only does fat supply us with energy, it also makes it possible for other nutrients to do their jobs.
  • It helps to absorb some vitamins and minerals.
  • Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves.
  • Fats also play an important role in the regulation of body temperature, the reduction of inflammation, muscle movement, blood clotting and brain development.
  • Protein, carbohydrates and fats are the three essential nutrients that provide the body with caloric energy.
  • Although carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, fats are the most energy dense of these nutrients.
  • Containing 9 kcal per gram, fats provide roughly twice as much energy and calories as proteins and carbohydrates which only provide 4 kcal per gram.
  • Vitamins and minerals do not provide energy (calories), but they help to release energy from carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
  • To date, there are 13 essential vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and 8 B vitamins.
  • Any calories that are not immediately metabolized for energy are stored in the body as fat for future use.
  • Fat is stored throughout the body in fat cells known as adipocytes.
  • However, fat cells can increase and decrease in size depending on the amount of fat that the body is storing.

Types

  • All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms.
  • What makes one fat different from another is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon atoms.
  • Seemingly slight differences in structure translate into crucial differences in form and function.

Saturated fats

  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.
  • They are totally saturated, meaning that each molecule of fat is covered in hydrogen atoms.
  • A large intake of saturated fats may eventually raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • A healthy diet includes less than 10 percent of its calories from saturated fats.
  • It is mostly found in meat and milk products.
  • However, unprocessed saturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet and can be regularly consumed.
  • An important and beneficial saturated fat is coconut oil, which has scientifically demonstrated health benefits.

Unsaturated fats

  • Unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are liquid at room temperature.
  • They are mostly derived from plant oils and are classed as “good” fats:

Monounsaturated fats

  • Monounsaturated fat molecules are not saturated with hydrogen atoms – each fat molecule has only the space for one hydrogen atom.
  • Monounsaturated fats may lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein – bad) cholesterol, and keep HDL (high-density lipoprotein – good) cholesterol at higher levels.
  • For instance, the Mediterranean diet, a well-researched and chronic disease-risk lowering diet, is full of monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats

  • In polyunsaturated fats, there are a number of spaces around each polyunsaturated fat molecule – they are not saturated with hydrogen atoms.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. That means they’re required for normal body functions but your body can’t make them. So you must get them from food.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
  • Monounsaturated fats are relatively stable, but they’re not quite as stable as saturated fats.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are the least stable fats as polyunsaturated fats have multiple binding sites exposed, making them particularly open to oxidation.
  • It’s important to note that just because a fat is unstable doesn’t mean it’s bad for us.
  • We should just handle less stable fats more carefully to make sure they don’t oxidize or spoil.
  • That means avoiding ones that are heavily processed or exposed to high heat.

Omega 6 and Omega 3

  • A polyunsaturated fat has two or more double bonds in its carbon chain.
  • There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • The numbers refer to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond. Both types offer health benefits.
  • As they are polyunsaturated, our body can’t produce omega 3s and omega 6s on its own; we get them from food. 
  • Polyunsaturated fats are good for our health, especially those from fish, known as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels and possibly inflammation.
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may also help reduce the symptoms experienced by people who suffer from arthritis, joint problems in general, and some skin diseases.
  • Vegetable sources of omega 3s include cauliflower, walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids are mostly found in vegetable oils.
  • An excessive intake of omega-6’s may lead to increased inflammation.

What are trans fats?

  • The worst type of dietary fat is the kind known as trans fat.
  • It is a by-product of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid.
  • Trans fats have no known health benefits and that there is no safe level of consumption.
  • There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats.
  • Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products).
  • Artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils. They are also known as partially hydrogenated oils.

Why do some companies use trans fats?

  • Trans fats are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time (give longer shelf-life to the items prepared by them). 
  • Trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture.
  • Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.

How do trans fats affect health?

  • Trans fats raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  • Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
  • They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even small amounts of trans fats can harm health.

Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.”
  • Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
  •  LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of our body’s cholesterol.
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol raise our risk for heart disease and stroke.
  •  HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body.
  • High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower our risk for heart disease and stroke.

Conclusion: Avoid the trans fats, limit the saturated fats, and replace with essential polyunsaturated fats.

Nobel Prize in Medicine for Discovery of Hepatitis C Virus (IE)

Context: The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

Analysis

  • The announcement was made by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, kicking off the 2020 Nobel Prizes award ceremony.
  • Blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world.
  • Prior to their work, the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses had been critical steps forward, but the majority of blood-borne hepatitis cases remained unexplained.
  • The discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.
  • The Nobel award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1,118,000).

What is hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.
  • The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
  • Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

What are the different hepatitis viruses?

  • Scientists have identified 5 unique hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. While all cause liver disease, they vary in important ways.

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) 

  • It is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food.
  • Certain sex practices can also spread HAV.
  • Infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further HAV infections.
  • There is no chronic stage in Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) 

  • It is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids.
  • HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood.
  • Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV, and also by sexual contact.
  • This infection is spread much like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Hepatitis B is easier to catch than HIV because it can be 100 times more concentrated in an infected person’s blood.
  • When an infant becomes ill with hepatitis B, there is a 90% chance he will become chronic.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) 

  • It is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood.
  • This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use.
  • Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) 

  • These infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV.
  • The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome.
  • Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) 

  • It is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food.
  • HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world.
  • Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.
  • Hepatitis A, B and C are all caused by viruses.
  • Hepatitis C is considered to be the most serious of the hepatitis viruses.
  • There are preventive vaccines for hepatitis A, B, D and E but not for C.
  • In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
  • Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
  • Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the ‘National Viral Hepatitis Control Program’, with the goal of ending viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 in the country.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand successfully controlled hepatitis B

  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand became the first four countries in the World Health Organization’s southeast Asia region to have successfully controlled hepatitis B.
  • The virus is said to be controlled when the disease prevalence is reduced to less than 1% among children less than five years of age.
  • Despite the introduction of hepatitis B vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme in 2002 and scaling-up nationwide in 2011, about one million people in India become chronically infected with the virus every year.
  • Hepatitis B infection at a young age turns chronic, causing over 1,00,000 premature deaths annually from liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Despite the high vaccination coverage, disease prevalence in children aged less than five years has not dropped below 1%.
  • One of the reasons for this is the sub-optimal coverage of birth dose in all infants within 24 hours of birth.
  • Hepatitis B birth dose, given in the first 24 hours, helps prevent vertical transmission from the mother to child.
  • The compulsion to increase birth dose to cut vertical transmission arises from two important reasons — about 70-90% newborns infected this way become chronic carriers of hepatitis B, and about 20-30% carriers in India are due to vertical transmission.
  • But even seven years after the Health Ministry approved the birth dose in 2008, its coverage remained low.
  • What is indeed puzzling is that even in the case of institutional delivery, the birth dose vaccine coverage is low — 76.36% in 2017.
  • Incidentally, institutional delivery accounts for about 80% of all deliveries in the country.
  • One of the reasons for the low coverage is the fear of wastage of vaccine when a 10-dose vial is used.
  • Unfortunately, health-care workers are very often unaware of the WHO recommendation that allows hepatitis B open-vial policy.
  • Opened vials of hepatitis B vaccine can be kept for a maximum duration of 28 days for use in other children if the vaccine meets certain conditions.

More about Nobel Prizes

  • The Nobel prizes, as designated in the Will of Alfred Nobel, are in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.
  • Only once during these years has a prize been added – a Memorial Prize – the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, donated by the Bank of Sweden to celebrate its tercentenary in 1968.
  • The Board of Directors later decided to keep the original five prizes intact and not to permit new additions.

Who selects the Nobel Laureates?

  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry;
  • Karolinska Institutet for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine;
  • The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature; and
  • A Committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was given the task to select the Laureates in Economic Sciences starting in 1969.

Why is the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in Oslo and all the other Nobel Prizes in Stockholm?

  • Alfred Nobel left no explanation as to why the prize for peace was to be awarded by a Norwegian committee (The King of Norway is present, but it is the Chairman of the Nobel Committee who hands over the Prize to the laureate/s) while the other four prizes were to be handled by Swedish committees (The King of Sweden hands over these Prizes to the laureate/s).

Is it possible to revoke a Nobel Prize?

  • No, it is not possible according to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation.

Why do you use the word Nobel Laureate and not Nobel Prize Winner?

  • The awarding of the Nobel Prizes is not a competition or lottery, but a recognition of the achievements in selected fields and therefore there are no winners or losers.
  • Its members are elected for life and statutes can be changed only with the approval of Sweden’s king.
  • A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize.
  • If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly.
  • In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.
  • A small number of individuals and organizations have been honoured more than once, which means that 904 individuals and 24 unique organizations have received the Nobel Prize in total.
  • Individual persons connected to or working for a Nobel Prize awarded organisation cannot in any way describe him or herself personally as a Nobel Laureate.

Multiple Nobel Laureates

  • The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honoured by a Nobel Peace Prize three times.
  • Besides, the founder of the ICRC, Henry Dunant, was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
  • Linus Pauling is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes – the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize.
J. Bardeen
Physics 1956
Physics 1972
M. Curie
Physics 1903
Chemistry 1911
L. Pauling
Chemistry 1954
Peace 1962
F. Sanger
Chemistry 1958
Chemistry 1980
ICRC logo
Peace 1917
Peace 1944
Peace 1963
UNHCR logo
Peace 1954
Peace 1981

Posthumous Nobel Prizes

  • From 1974, the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a Prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize.
  • Before 1974, the Nobel Prize has only been awarded posthumously twice: to Dag Hammarskjöld (Nobel Peace Prize 1961) and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931).

The Nobel Foundation

  • The Nobel Foundation, a private institution established in 1900, has ultimate responsibility for fulfilling the intentions in Alfred Nobel’s will.

Nobel Laureates from India

Amartya Sen:

  • Prof. Amartya Sen is the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics for the year 1998, becoming the first Asian to have been honoured with the award.
  • The ‘impossibility theorem’ suggested earlier by Kenneth Arrow states that it was not possible to aggregate individual choices into a satisfactory choice for society as a whole. Prof. Sen, a pioneer in Welfare Economics, showed mathematically that societies could find ways to alleviate such a poor outcome.

Subramanian Chandrashekhar: 

  • The Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983 was awarded to Dr S. Chandrashekhar, an Indian-born astrophysicist.
  • Educated in Presidency College, Chennai, Dr Chandrashekhar happened to be the nephew of his Nobel forbear, Sir C.V. Raman.
  • He later migrated to the United States where he authored several books on Astrophysics and Stellar Dynamics.
  • He developed a theory on white dwarf stars which posts a limit of mass of dwarf stars known also as Chandrashekhar Limit.
  • His theory explains the final stages of stellar evolution.

Mother Teresa: 

  • The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Mother Teresa in 1979.
  • Having become an Indian citizen, Mother Teresa served the cause of dying destitutes, lepers and drug addicts, through Nirmal Hriday (meaning Pure Heart), the main centre of her activity.
  • Her selfless service and unique devotion, not only to helpless fellow-Indians but also to the cause of world peace, earned her and India the first Nobel Peace Prize.

Hargobind Khorana:

  • Hargobind Khorana was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1968.
  • His major breakthrough in the field of Medicine -interpreting the genetic code and analysing its function in protein synthesis- fetched him the Nobel Prize.

Sir Chandrashekhar Venkataraman: 

  • India’s first Nobel Prize for Physics was claimed in 1930 by the renowned physicist Sir C.V. Raman.
  • Sir C.V. Raman received the Nobel Prize for an important optics research, in which he discovered that diffused light contained rays of other wavelengths-what is now popularly known as Raman Effect.
  • His theory discovered in 1928 explains the change in the frequency of light passing through a transparent medium.

Rabindranath Tagore: 

  • Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian ever to receive a Nobel Prize.
  • He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his work Geetanjali, a collection of poems, in 1913. Tagore wrote many love lyrics. Geetanjali and Sadhana are among his important works.
  • The poet, dramatist and novelist is also the author of India’s National Anthem.
  • In 1901 he founded the famous Santiniketan which later came to be known as Vishwabharati University.

Kailash Satyarthi:

  • He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.         

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan:          

  • He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.

Mahatma Gandhi and Nobel Prize

  • Despite being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on five occasions – 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and a few days before he was assassinated in 1948 – Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded the prize.

Do you know?

  • Carlos Saavedra Lamas (Argentina): First winner outside Western Europe and the U.S.
  • Albert John Lutuli (South Africa): First African winner
  • In 1973 Le Duc Tho (from Vietnam) became the first and only person ever to voluntarily refuse a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Asians have been the recipients of all six award categories: Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economics.
  • The first Asian recipient, Rabindranath Tagore, was awarded the Literature Prize in 1913.
  • The most Nobel Prizes awarded to Asians in a single year was in 2014, when five Asians became laureates.
  • The most recent Asian laureates, a Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo and Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad were awarded their prizes in 2018.
  • To date, there have been seventy-four Asian winners of the Nobel Prize, including twenty-seven Japanese, twelve Israeli, eight Indian (not including non-Indian Laureates born in India) and eight Chinese (not including non-Chinese Laureates born in China).

9. Joker Malware (TH, pg 11)

Context: Joker malware, also known as Bread, has appeared on multiple security reports recently from security firms such as Zscaler etc.

  • Another report found 64 new variants of Joker.
  • The malware is known for subscribing users to premium services without their knowledge or consent.
  • Earlier this year,Joker malware  had infected several apps which later Google removed from the Play store.

Analysis

  • The Joker malware steals money from users by subscribing them to paid subscriptions without their consent.
  • It first simulates interaction with ads without users’ knowledge and then steals the victim’s SMS messages including OTP to authenticate payments.
  • This means that the affected user might not know that they have been signed up for a paid subscription service and that their money has been deducted from their account unless they receive a message or notification stating their credit card statements, etc.

 E) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

10. Separate Emission norms for agricultural machinery, construction equipment vehicles (PIB)

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has deferred the applicability date for implementing the next stage of emission norms for tractors (TREM Stage-IV) from Oct this year to 1st Oct next year.
  • For the Construction Equipment Vehicles, the applicability of next phase of emission norms are proposed to be applicable w.e.f. 1st April 2021, providing a deferment of six months.
  • The amendment also attempts to avoid confusion between the emission norms of other Motor vehicles which has BS as norms and those for agricultural machinery, construction equipment vehicles and such other equipment.

The amendment includes:

(i) separate the emission norms for Agricultural machinery (agricultural tractors, power tillers and combined harvesters) and Construction Equipment Vehicles, and

(ii) Change in the nomenclature of emission norms from Bharat Stage (CEV/TREM)–IV and Bharat Stage (CEV/TREM) –V to

a. TREM Stage-IV and TREM Stage-V for Agricultural Tractors and other Equipments..

b. CEV Stage – IV and CEV Stage-V for the Construction Equipment Vehicles.

F) International Relations

11. Agenda for the upcoming Quad meeting (TH, pg 10)

Context: External Affairs Minister of India will meet his counterparts in the Australia-India-Japan-United States Quadrilateral or Quad in Tokyo, which is seen as a significant turning point for the grouping, led by growing concerns over China in the region.

Analysis

  • Officials aware of the agenda say that cooperation on 5G connectivity, cybersecurity, a supply chain initiative for manufacturing, maritime cooperation and infrastructure and connectivity, as well as distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccine are all areas where alternatives to Chinese initiatives will be discussed.
  • Beijing has already criticised the meeting as an “exclusive clique”, “an anti-China frontline” and even a “mini-NATO” led by the U.S.’s “Cold War mentality.”
  • The meeting will begin with a “regional assessment”, including developments in the South and East China Sea, the six-month stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Hong Kong and Taiwan, where China’s aggressive moves have been most marked.
  • The four Ministers will also discuss the issue of including Australia in the next edition of the Malabar naval exercises, scheduled to be held in November.
  • Building trade ties is also on the agenda, as Japan is keen to push a plan for a trilateral “Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI)” with India and Australia to reduce dependence on Chinese manufacturing, especially as India has refused to be a part of the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • India will also discuss how other Quad countries can help with building “East-West” connectivity from India to ASEAN countries, to counter the “North-South connectivity” from China, as well as joint funding for infrastructure and connectivity projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • A U.S. plan for a “Blue Dot Network” to rate infrastructure projects for funding, announced in January, is likely to be discussed as well.

F) Miscellaneous

12. KV Kamath Committee (IE)

  • The Supreme Court (SC) asked the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) what follow-up action has been taken on proposals of the K V Kamath committee.
  • The court was referring to the government decision to waive off interest on interest with respect to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and other personal loans of up to Rs 2 crore during the six-month moratorium period.
  • RBI had formed a five-member committee under the chairmanship of KV Kamath to make recommendations on the financial parameters to be considered for the one-time restructuring of loans impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic.
  • Committee had recommended to take into account specific financial ratios and sector-specific thresholds in respect of 26 sectors while finalising the resolution plans.

13. The Resident Coordinator (TH, pg 9)

Context: The government reacted sharply to a statement by the UN resident coordinator in India, who had expressed concern over the cases of alleged rapes of young girls in Hathras and Balrampur, calling the statement ‘unwarranted’.

Analysis

  • The UN Resident Coordinator (RC) is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level.
  • RCs lead UN Country Teams and coordinate UN support to countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
  • The Resident Coordinator is the designated representative of – and reports to – the UN Secretary-General.

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