New Recommendations of NEGVAC on COVID-19 Vaccination has been accepted by Union Ministry of Health
(Topic: COVID-19 Management)
These recommendations have been based on the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging global scientific evidence & experience.
Deferring the COVID-19 vaccination in the following scenario:
- Individuals having lab test proven SARS-2 COVID-19 illness: COVID-19 vaccination to be deferred by 3 months after recovery.
- SARS-2 COVID-19 patients who have been given anti-SARS-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma: COVID-19 vaccination to be deferred by 3 months from the date of discharge from the hospital.
- Individuals who have received at least the 1st dose and got COVID-19 infection before completion of the dosing schedule: the 2nd dose should be deferred by 3 months after clinical recovery from COVID-19 illness.
- Persons with any other serious general illness requiring hospitalization or ICU care should also wait for 4-8 weeks before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
An individual can donate blood after 14 days of either receipt of COVID-19 vaccine or testing RT-PCR negative, if suffering from COVID-19 disease.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all lactating women.
There is no requirement for screening of the vaccine recipients by rapid antigen test (RAT) prior to COVID-19 vaccination.
Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination of pregnant women, the matter is under discussion and further deliberation by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).
Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Microsoft sign MoU on Joint initiative for Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools
Vision: To build an inclusive, skills-based economy
Under affirmative action initiative, Microsoft will make AI curriculum available to tribal students in both English and Hindi at all EMRS schools under the Ministry to skill educators and students in next-generation technologies including Artificial Intelligence.
- Under this program in the first phase, 250 EMRS schools have been adopted by Microsoft out of which 50 EMRS schools will be given intensive training and 500 master trainers would be trained in the first phase.
- Under the partnership, students from schools under the Ministry will be mentored on projects that involve AI applications for societal good and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students will also be trained and exposed to gamified environments on Minecraft to help build design thinking skills. To enable inclusion and access, Microsoft will make AI curriculum available to the schools and students in both English and Hindi.
- Teachers across states in India will be trained in a phased manner for using productivity technologies like Office 365 and AI applications in teaching, helping them deliver blended or remote learning experiences to students in a more personalized, productive and secure manner. Teacher trainings will introduce them to the world of virtual collaboration and how teaching can be augmented with virtual field trips or remote sessions with experts.
- The program will also offer opportunities for teachers to earn professional e-badges and e-certificates from the Microsoft Education Centre.
Amidst the pandemic, India achieved new milestones in Rural Development
(Topic: Rural Development)
Despite COVID pandemic, 1.85 crore persons have been offered work in May 2021 under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The work offered is 52% higher than the one offered during the same period in May 2019, which was 1.22 crore persons per day. As on 13th May, 2021, 2.95 crore persons have been offered work in FY 2021-22 completing 5.98 lakh assets and generating 34.56 crore person-days.
To fight against COVID-19 in rural areas, training has been provided to trainers on COVID-19 appropriate behaviours, vaccination and vaccine hesitancy and encourage good health-seeking behaviours and immunity building measures from 8-12th April 2021 under Deendayal Anyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). Under the initiative, 13,958 state, district and block level nodal persons trained as master trainers in 34 SRLMs, 1,14,500 Community Resource Persons (CRP) trained by master trainers and 2.5 Crore women SHG members trained by CRPs. State and district nodal persons have also been trained for capacity building and social development on COVID management under DAY-NRLM.
With an aim to provide relief and generate employment, Revolving Fund and Community Investment Fund amounting to approximately Rs. 56 Crore released to women Self Help Groups in FY 2021 as compared to approximately Rs. 32 Cr. in the same corresponding period in FY 2020. Online trainings have been continuing for the staff and community cadres on farm and non-Farm based livelihoods and promotion of Agri-Nutri gardens by SHG households has also been continued in this period.
Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin scheme like other rural development schemes has been severely affected by COVID-19 pandemic, however, due to streamlined workflows the Ministry has been able to log an expenditure of Rs. 5854 Cr in this financial year as compared to Rs. 2512 Cr. in 2020-21 and Rs. 1411 Cr. in 2019-20, which are 43% and 24% respectively of the 2021-22 expenditure in the comparable period.
Despite lockdown across over 20 States/UTs and resultant difficulties in availability and movement of men, machine and materials, this year highest length of road has been completed in the comparable period over the last 3 years.
Government releases Rs. 5,968 Crore Central grant to 15 States under Jal Jeevan Mission for financial year 2021-22
(Topic: Government Schemes and Programmes)
Government of India has released Rs. 5,968 Crore to 15 States for the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the financial year 2021-22. This is the first tranche of the four to be released in this financial year. Other 17 States/ UTs have been asked to send their proposals to National Jal Jeevan Mission for release of funds.
Out of the Central fund allocated under Jal Jeevan Mission –
- 93% of the fund is to be utilized on developing water supply infrastructure
- 5% on support activities
- 2% on water quality monitoring & surveillance activities
The Central funds are released by Government of India based on the output in terms of tap water connections provided in the States/ UTs and the utilization of available Central and matching State share.
The States have to transfer Central fund released along with matching State share to the single Nodal Account within 15-days of release of Central fund. The States have to make provision for matching State share and ensure that there is no shortage of funds to the implementing agencies, proper expenditure plan prepared so that expenditure is evenly spread throughout the year.
Increase in Budget
- The budgetary allocation of Jal Jeevan Mission has increased significantly to Rs. 50,011 Crore in 2021-22.
- In addition to this, 15th Finance Commission tied-grants of Rs. 26,940 Crore will also be available to PRIs for ‘water and sanitation’ services.
- In addition, fund is also available through matching State share and externally aided projects.
Thus, in 2021-22, more than Rs. 1 lakh Crore is planned to be invested in the country on ensuring tap water supply to rural homes. It is expected that this kind of investment is likely to continue over the next three years to achieve the goal of ‘Har Ghar Jal’.
This enhanced budgetary allocation will have huge impact on rural economy in terms of employment generation both skilled and unskilled required for creation as well as operation and maintenance of drinking water supply infrastructure, grey water treatment & its reuse.
- It will boost massive infrastructure creation activities leading to productive assets in the villages.
- Increase in demand for motors, faucets, taps, pipes, etc. under JJM will give huge push to manufacturing sector as work commences in all remaining villages.
- To develop and maintain in-village water supply systems, skilling of village people to prepare a cadre of masons, plumbers, pump operators, etc. taken up for providing huge employment opportunities.
Jal Jeevan Mission: Aims to provide assured tap water supply to every rural home by 2024
World Bee Day
(Topic: Agriculture and allied activities)
Celebrated on: 20th May
Launch of Honey Testing Laboratory Project at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, New Delhi for quality testing of honey and other products of beekeeping under the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission.
2021 theme: Bee Engaged – Build Back Better for Bees
Efforts by the Indian government
- Government is promoting Beekeeping as part of its aim to double farmers’ income.
- Rs. 300 crore has been approved for the overall promotion of National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM), development of scientific beekeeping and achieving the target of “sweet revolution”.
- 30 lakh farmers have been trained in beekeeping.
- Rs 500 crore has been allocated to NBHM by the Centre under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Campaign.
- A world-class state of art Honey Testing Lab has been established at National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Anand with the help of Rs 5 crore.
- Two more regional / big testing laboratories have been sanctioned with an amount of Rs. 8 crore each for honey and other products of beekeeping.
- Aiming at the development of this sector, 13 mini / satellite district level laboratories for honey and other products of beekeeping and projects related to online registration and development of traceability sources of honey and other products and other important projects have also been approved.
- The Madhu Kranti portal for online registration and traceability system to track the source of honey and other bee products has also been launched two months ago.
- Steps have also been initiated for making of FPOs of beekeepers alongwith other efforts to promote scientific beekeeping. Total 10 thousand FPOs are being made across the country.
Do you know?
- India is among the world’s top five honey producers.
- Compared to 2005-06 honey production has risen by 242% and exports have increased by 265%.
- As per Food and Agricultural Organization database, in 2017-18, India ranked 8th in the world in terms of honey production (64.9 thousand tonnes) while China stood first (551 thousand tonnes).
- Aim of the Honey Mission: Creating employment for farmers, Adivasis, women and unemployed youth by roping them with beekeeping and increasing India’s honey production.
- Launched by: KVIC 3 years ago
- Under the Honey Mission, KVIC provides training and 10 bee boxes with live colonies to beneficiaries including farmers, beekeepers and unemployed youth.
- KVIC also runs beekeeping training programmes and courses.
Kharif Strategy 2021
Aim: To achieve self-sufficiency in the production of oilseeds
Under the strategy, the Government of India has approved an ambitious plan for the free distribution of high yielding varieties of seeds to the farmers for the Kharif season 2021 in the form of mini-kits. The special Kharif programme will bring an additional 6.37 lakh hectare area under oilseeds and is likely to produce 120.26 lakh quintals of oilseeds and edible oil amounting to 24.36 lakh quintals.
To become Aatmanirbhar in oilseeds, emphasis is also being put on enhancing the productivity of oilseeds by increasing the availability of high yielding varieties of seeds for the farmers to use on their fields.
About National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm: The Government of India through the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm has the objective to augment the availability of edible oils and reduce the import of edible oils by increasing the production and productivity of oilseeds and oil palm. To this end a multi-pronged strategy is being adopted which includes the following:
- Increasing the seed replacement ratio with focus on varietal replacement
- Increasing irrigation coverage
- Nutrient management
- Intercropping with cereals/pulses/sugarcane
- Productivity improvement and adoption of proven and climate-resilient technologies
- Area expansion through diversification of low yielding food grains.
- Targeting rice fallow areas and high potential districts
- Promotion in non-traditional states
- Encouraging mechanization
- Research projects
- Training of farmers and extension officials
- Supporting cluster demonstrations for the adoption of good agricultural practices
- Creation of 36 oilseed hubs with a focus on regional approach for larger availability of quality seeds
- Post-harvest management at farm and village level
- Formation of Farmer Producer Organisations
As a result of the above efforts, the production of oilseeds has increased from 27.51 million tonnes in 2014-15 to 37.31 million tonnes in 2020-21 (2nd advance estimates), while the area has increased from 25.99 million hectares to 28.82 million hectares and yield from 1075 kg/hectares to 1295 kg/hectares during the same corresponding period.
BRICS countries underline importance of enhancing collaboration among astronomers
(Topic: Space and Technology)
Delegates from BRICS nations highlighted the importance of enhancing collaboration among astronomers from the countries at the seventh meeting of the BRICS Astronomy Working Group Meeting.
Under the Science, Technology, and Innovation track of the BRICS 2021 calendar, India hosted the seventh meeting of BRICS Astronomy Working Group (BAWG) meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, as well as astronomers from these countries in online mode from 19 to 20th May 2021.
The delegates deliberated on strategic and operational matters and recommended
- The networking of existing Telescopes in BRICS countries and create regional Data Network. They agreed to develop flagship project in this area.
- The members of the working group also indicated future directions of research in this area such as building network of intelligent telescope and data network, study of transient astronomical phenomena in universe, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning application to process the voluminous data generated now a days due to enhance multi-wavelength telescope observatory.
- The BAWG which provides a platform for BRICS member countries to collaborate in the field of astronomy recommended that the focal points in each country should present the scientific results of the work being carried out in each country.
- This will help seek funding support to realize the flagship project whenever funding opportunity announced by BRICS funding agencies. BAWG noted the importance of enhancing collaboration among astronomers from the BRICS countries.
Theory by Indian Scientists to shed light on mystery behind complex phenomena in Plasma– the fourth state of matter
(Topic: Science and Technology)
Indian Scientists have recently developed a theory that helps understand the complicated nature of Sun-Earth interaction’s happening in the magnetosphere– an area of space around Earth that is controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field. This new theory has opened up a plethora of opportunities to unlock the mysteries of the ion-hole structures (a localized plasma region where the ion density is lower than the surrounding plasma). They are now working towards a detailed study of the ion hole structures observed in various space and astrophysical environments using the developed theory.
They have completely ruled out the necessity of the upper limit in the temperature ratio between ions and electrons for the generation of a special kind of wave called Bernstein Green Kruskal (BGK) waves, named after the scientists who predicted this wave. They revealed that the electrons that are not part of ion hole dynamics also play a vital role.
On November 2, 2017, NASA’s latest expedition to unlock Sun-Earth interaction’s complicated nature, the MMS spacecraft, observed negative monopolar potential (electric field potentials which can be visualized in the form of single-humped pulse-type structures). The scientific community suddenly recognized its importance, and publications were presented. However, none of the available theories could explain the characteristics of these structures due to the exotic background conditions. The new theory developed by the IIG team provides a better understanding of their characteristics and sheds light on the generation of these structures leading to the unraveling of nature’s greatest mystery that causes phenomena —plasma transport and heating of plasma — the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas, which is the most natural and widely observed state of matter in the entire universe.
Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission: A NASA robotic space mission to study the Earth’s magnetosphere and theoretical predictions.
Scientists develop magnetometer for low cost, reliable & real-time measurements of magnetic fields
(Topic: Science and Technology)
Researchers have demonstrated a low-cost digital system to efficiently measure unknown magnetic fields.
Digital signals are the backbone of communication systems processed by hardware systems that transmit and receive the signals with the help of intermediate systems called ‘digital receiver systems’ or DRS. When magnetic matter creates signals, analysing them with DRS lets scientists study the magnetic fields. Analysing the properties of the signals, for example, how they vary with time, scientists can measure the fields and study their small fluctuations.
In a new study, scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have devised a more efficient, faster, and low-cost digital receiver system that can make precise measurements of magnetic fields.
The hardware of digital receiver systems are built with standard silicon-based memory devices. Computer codes are implemented that make these devices perform mathematical operations on the signal they receive, enabling DRS systems to measure fundamental properties of matter like ‘Spin’. The spin of electrons determines the magnetism of most of the objects around us.
The electrons’ spin is not constant at room temperatures. They fluctuate. These spin fluctuations cause what scientists call ‘spin-noise’. By measuring the tiny fluctuations in the magnetic field, the researchers can infer the spin-noise accurately.
One of them uses a widely-used mathematical function, the ‘Fourier transform’ of the signal, named after its inventor Joseph Fourier. The Fourier transform of the signal lets them calculate how the rubidium atom’s energies vary, from which they can directly infer the magnetic field. A standard method of measuring the magnetic field analyses small frequency ranges of the signal separately. The researchers showed that their method speeds up the calculations compared to the standard method. Their improved method also increased their confidence in how the electrons’ energies vary more than ten times.
Sometimes, while measuring magnetic fields, the DRS may receive signals only for a short time. In such scenarios, it is essential to record the signal as it gets created without losing any part of it. The researchers successfully implemented this ability with the help of a combination of standard hardware and computer codes. They measured a magnetic field of 800 microgauss –– roughly a thousand times smaller than the Earth’s magnetic field, within a tenth of a second.
International Museum Day 2021: 18th May
- To raise awareness about the fact that Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.
- Theme: The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine
India & Oman renew MoUs: On military cooperation & maritime issues
ELDERLINE (14567): Toll Free Helpline for elderly persons
SAMVEDNA: With an objective of providing psychological first-aid and emotional support to children affected during COVID-19 Pandemic, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)is providing Tele-Counselling to children through SAMVEDNA(Sensitizing Action on Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance) – a Toll-Free Helpline launched to provide psycho-social mental support for Children affected during COVID 19 Pandemic.
Government takes historic pro-farmer decision of hiking fertiliser subsidy
The price of fertilisers is undergoing an increase due to the rising prices of phosphoric acid, ammonia etc internationally. PM stressed that farmers should get fertilisers at old rates despite the international rise in prices.
A historic decision was taken to increase the subsidy for DAP fertiliser from Rs. 500 per bag to Rs. 1200 per bag, which is an increase of 140%. Thus, despite the rise in international market prices of DAP, it has been decided to continue selling it at the older price of Rs.1200 and the central government has decided to bear all the burden of price hike. The amount of subsidy per bag has never been increased so much at once.
Exports of GI certified Gholvad Sapota (chikoo)for Maharashtra to UK begins
In a major boost to exports of Geographical Indication (GI) certified products, a consignment of Dahanu Gholvad Sapota from Palghar district of Maharashtra was shipped to the United Kingdom.
- GI certification of Ghovad Sapota is held by Maharashtra Rajya Chikoo Utpadak Sangh and the fruit is known for its sweet and unique taste. It is believed that the unique taste is derived from calcium rich soil of Gholvad village.
- Currently in the Palghar district, around 5000 hectares of land is under sapota or plantation. Out of 5000 farmers who grow Sapota, 147 farmers are authorized GI users.
- Sapota is grown in many states- Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka is known to be the highest grower of the fruit, followed by Maharashtra. It can be used in fruit salads, blended into milk or yogurt, as a smoothie or processed to make a jam out of it.
Anti Covid drug 2-DG launched
- 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) developed by DRDO in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Lab
- The drug has the potential to become a game changer in our response against COVID pandemic as it reduces the dependence of patients on oxygen administration and has the potential of getting absorbed differentially and in a selected manner. In the COVID infected cells, it inhibits virus synthesis and energy production for the process.
- Drug to reduce average recovery time by 2.5 days and oxygen demand by 40%
DST funded start-up’s Electrochemical ELISA test would help rapid & accurate estimation of total antibody concentration of COVID 19: A Bangalore-based start-up has developed a novel, point-of-care Electrochemical ELISA test that enables fast and accurate estimation of total antibody concentration of COVID 19 in clinical samples.
- While Qualitative analysis detects constituent elements in the sample, semiquantitative analysis gives an approximate estimation of their concentrations.
- This novel technology and product was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, under its initiative on Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH).
- The novelty of the technology is based on the measurement of electrochemical redox activity of IgM and IgG antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein (S1). The S1 protein hosts the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD), which latches to the ACE2 receptors on the cells before infection. Hence the antibody tests targeting S1 spike protein are more representative of an immune response against infection compared to other antibody tests targeting Nucleocapcid (N) protein.
The Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY)
- It was launched in 2018. The scheme is run by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).
- It is an initiative targeting livelihood generation for tribals by harnessing the wealth of forest i.e. Van Dhan.
- The programme aims to tap into traditional knowledge & skill sets of tribals by adding technology & IT to upgrade it at each stage.
- The initiative shall provide enhanced livelihood to about 45 lakhs tribal gatherers in one year.
- Tribal community owned Minor Forest Produce (MFP)-centric multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (the Kendra) are set up.
- Essential Features of the PMVDY:
- The State Nodal Department will have the flexibility to appoint any State Implementing Agency / District Implementing Unit for implementation of the PMVDY in the State and District levels.
- The Kendras would act as common facility centres for procurement cum value addition to locally available MFPs.
- A typical Van Dhan Vikas Kendra shall constitute of 15 tribal Van Dhan Self Help Groups (SHG)
Launch of NMMS app and Area officer monitoring App: The NMMS App permits taking real time attendance of workers at Mahatma Gandhi NREGS worksites along with geotagged photograph, which will increase citizen oversight of the programme besides potentially enabling processing payments faster. Area Officer Monitoring App facilitates them to record their findings online along with time stamped and go-coordinate tagged photograph for all the schemes of Deptt of Rural Development- Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, PMAYG, PMGSY. This would also enable not only better record keeping of inspections by field and supervisory officials but also facilitate analysis of the findings for better programme implementation.
Personality in News
Late Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna – Chipko movement pioneer
A Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri awardee, he was a Gandhian to the core. A legend in his own right, he made conservation a people’s movement.
Chipko Movement: The environmentalist had fought for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas for years. He (along with local women), is hugely credited for the success of the Chipko movement that began in 1973 at the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand (then a part of Uttar Pradesh), to prevent the felling of trees in the ecologically sensitive zones.
- The movement’s success led to enactment of a law to ban the felling of trees in ecologically sensitive forest lands.
- He also coined the Chipko slogan: ‘ecology is permanent economy’.
- People associated with the movement hugged the trees (hence chikpo in Hindi) to prevent them from being axed.
His commitment to the cause was such that in 1981 he refused to accept the Padma Shri since the felling of trees was rampant in the Himalayas. He also undertook a near-5000 km march across the Himalayas where he saw the pace of deforestation and devastation brought by developmental projects and submitted his findings in reports to the United Nations.
Opposed the contruction of Tehri Dam: Mr. Bahuguna led the charge against the construction of big dams in the Himalayas in the 1980s. He was fervently opposed to the construction of the Tehri dam.
Referred to as a ‘Gentle Warrior’, Bahuguna undertook many fasts to protest construction of dams and felling of trees.
In a letter to worried friends, he wrote, “Himalaya is a land of penance. Nothing in the world can be achieved without penance. I am doing this on behalf of all who are striving to save our dying planet. Why should a river, a mountain and forest or the ocean be killed, while we cling to life?”
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Raja Rammohan Roy is rightly known as “the Father of Modern India” in recognition of his epoch making social, political and educational reforms.
(Though his father Ramakanto was very orthodox but he wanted his son to have higher education and after the basic formal education in Sanskrit and Bengali in the village school, Ram Mohan was sent to Patna to study Persian and Arabic in a madrasa. After that he went to Benares (Kashi) for learning the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scripture, including the Vedas and Upanishads. He learnt English language at the age of 22 years.)
Educational Reforms: Ram Mohan viewed education as a medium to implement the social reforms. He came to Calcutta and started an English college from his own savings. He was well aware that the students should learn the English language and scientific subjects and that’s why he criticized the government’s policy of opening only Sanskrit schools. According to him, Indians would lag behind if they do not get to study modern subjects like Mathematics, Geography and Latin. Government accepted this idea of Ram Mohan and also implemented it but not before his death. Ram Mohan was also the first to give importance to the development of the mother tongue. His ‘Gaudiya Byakaran’ in Bengali is the best of his prose works.
Political Reforms: Ram Mohan Roy was a staunch supporter of free speech and expression and fought for the rights of vernacular press. He also brought out a newspaper in Persian called ‘Miratul- Akhbar’ (the Mirror of News) and a Bengali weekly called ‘Sambad Kaumudi’ (the Moon of Intelligence). In those days, items of news and articles had to be approved by the government before being published. Ram Mohan protested against this control by arguing that newspapers should be free and that the truth should not be suppressed simply because the government did not like it.
Social Reforms: Among his efforts, the abolition of the sati-pratha-a practice in which the widow was compelled to sacrifice herself on the funeral pyre of her husband-was the prominent. His efforts were also instrumental in eradicating the purdah system and child marriage. In 1828, Ram Mohan Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj, a group of people, who had no faith in idol-worship and were against the caste restrictions.