Daily Current Affairs : 16th July 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report
  2. Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine
  3. Lancet Report on Population
  4. Whitefly
  5. 15th Summit between India and the European Union (EU)
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report


Context: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report was released recently. It  presents the most recent and authoritative estimates of the extent of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition around the world.

About the report

  • The SOFI report 2020 was released on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development which tracks the progress of nations towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
  • The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is an annual flagship report jointly prepared by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO to inform on progress towards ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition and to provide in depth analysis on key challenges for achieving this goal in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The report targets a wide audience, including policy-makers, international organizations, academic institutions and the general public.
  • Its first edition was brought out in 2017

Findings of the report

  • The world is not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) by 2030
  • The number of people affected by hunger will surpass 840 million by 2030, or 9.8% of the population
  • The report underlines that in line with findings in the previous editions, hunger continues to be on the rise since 2014 and the global prevalence of undernourishment, or overall percentage of hungry people, is 8.9%.
  • Asia remains home to the greatest number of undernourished (38 crore). Africa is second (25 crore), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (4.8 crore).
  • According to current estimates, in 2019, 21.3% (14.4.crore) of children under 5 years were stunted, 6.9% (4.7 crore) wasted and 5.6% (3.8 million) overweight.
  • The report highlights that a healthy diet costs more than ₹143 (or $1.90/ day), which is the international poverty threshold.
  • The number of people globally who can’t afford a healthy diet is at 300 crore people, or more than the combined population of China and India.
  • Impact of COVID-19:
    • Between 8.3 crore and 13 crore people globally are likely to go hungry this year due to the economic recession triggered by COVID-19.
    • Covid-19 containment measures are limiting labour mobility in areas dependent on seasonal or migrant labour and making it difficult to access markets and transport food within and across countries.

2. Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine


Context : Market approval for Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine given by DCGI

Details of the Vaccine

  • Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has given approval to the first fully indigenously developed Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine.
  • This vaccine has been developed by M/s. Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd, Pune. Serum Institute first obtained the approval of DCGI to conduct Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical trials of Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine in India.
  • These trials have since been concluded within the country. The said Company has also conducted these clinical trials in another country i.e. Gambia.
  • Thereafter, the said Company applied for approval and permission to manufacture this vaccine. Upon review by the Office of Drug Controller General of India with the help of Special Expert Committee (SEC) for vaccines.  The Committee recommended for grant of permission of market authorization and granted permission to manufacture domestically developed first Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine.
  • This is the first indigenously developed vaccine in the field of pneumonia. Earlier the demand of such vaccine was substantially met by licensed importers in the country since the manufacturers were all vaccine companies based outside India.
  • This vaccine is used for active immunization against invasive disease and pneumonia caused by “Streptococcus pneumonia” in infants.  The vaccine is administered in a intramuscular manner.

About Pneumonia?

  • Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs.
  • The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.
  • A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.
  • Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems.

Causes of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is classified according to the types of germs that cause it and where you got the infection.

  • Community-acquired pneumonia: Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. It occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. It may be caused by:
    • Bacteria. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the U.S. is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had a cold or the flu. It may affect one part (lobe) of the lung, a condition called lobar pneumonia.
    • Bacteria-like organisms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae also can cause pneumonia. It typically produces milder symptoms than do other types of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is an informal name given to this type of pneumonia, which typically isn’t severe enough to require bed rest.
    • Fungi. This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems, and in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms. The fungi that cause it can be found in soil or bird droppings and vary depending upon geographic location.
    • Viruses, including COVID-19. Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia. Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 5 years. Viral pneumonia is usually mild. But in some cases it can become very serious. Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) may cause pneumonia, which can become severe.
  • Hospital-acquired pneumonia : Some people catch pneumonia during a hospital stay for another illness. Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria causing it may be more resistant to antibiotics and because the people who get it are already sick. People who are on breathing machines (ventilators), often used in intensive care units, are at higher risk of this type of pneumonia.
  • Health care-acquired pneumonia : Health care-acquired pneumonia is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, health care-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
  • Aspiration pneumonia : Aspiration pneumonia occurs when you inhale food, drink, vomit or saliva into your lungs. Aspiration is more likely if something disturbs your normal gag reflex, such as a brain injury or swallowing problem, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.

3 . Lancet Report on Population


Context : According to a Lancet report, by the end of century India may no longer be a country of a billion.

About the Report

  • At the current rate of growth, India’s population is likely to peak by 2047 at about 1.61 billion and then decline to 1.03 billion by 2100. However, were it to meet UN Sustainable Goal Development targets, the peak would be earlier and see a population decline to 929 million.
  • Conventional wisdom is that though a decline in population is expected, it is expected to begin only around 2046 and that fall, according to the latest 2019 assessment by the United Nations Development Programme calculation, is expected to see India’s population settle at a little over 1.4 billion, though this too ranges from 2.1-0.9 billion
  • India will remain the most populous country in 2100. The five largest countries in 2100 (are projected) to be India, Nigeria, China, the U.S. and Pakistan.
  • However, these forecasts showed different future trajectories between countries. “Nigeria is forecast to have continued population growth through 2100 and was expected to be the second most populous country by then. The reference forecasts for China and India peaked before 2050 and both countries thereafter had steep declining trajectories

Main Reason for decline in Population

  • The sharper fall, say the group of scientists who are affiliated to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, is due to the assumption that all women globally will have have much higher access to contraception and education.
  • This scenario will lead to a sharper reduction in the Total Fertility Rate, a metric that shows on average how many children a women must have to keep replenishing population. A TFR lower than 2.1, it is said, leads to a decline in a country’s population.
  • The UNPD forecasts assume that all countries mirror the trend in selected low-fertility countries in Europe, east and southeast Asia, and North America, where the TFRs converge towards a level of approximately 1·75.

Key facts about India

  • Trends in India’s total population and in the population of working age adults will follow similar trends
  • The total population will increase and peak just before mid-century, followed by significant declines.
  • Similarly, the working-age population will also increase in the first half of the century, and then decline in the second half. These declines are driven by fertility rates, which we will continue declining over the next few decades
  • India’s TFR was already below 2.1 in 2019. The TFR is projected to have a continue a steep decline until about 2040, reaching 1.29 in 2100.
  • The number of working-age adults (20–64 years) in India is projected to fall from around 748 million in 2017 to around 578 million in 2100. However, this will be the largest working-age population in the world by 2100. In the mid-2020s, India is expected to surpass China’s workforce population (950 million in 2017, and 357 million in 2100).
  • From 2017 to 2100, India is projected to rise up the list of countries with the largest GDP, from 7th to 3rd.
  • India is projected to have the second largest net immigration in 2100, with an estimated half a million more people immigrating to India in 2100 than emigrating out.
  • Among the 10 countries with the largest populations in 2017 or 2100, India is projected to have one of the lowest life expectancies (79.3 years in 2100, up from 69.1 in 2017).

Importance of the Study

  • It stresses the need for countries to address the potential catastrophic impact of a shrinking working-age population, and suggests measures such as incentives to increase TFR, and using artificial intelligence as a path towards self-sufficiency.
  • Wealthy countries such as the UK and the USA could counteract the impact of these changes through net migration of working-age adults from the countries with growing populations. Unfortunately, the election of nationalist rulers, associated decline in multilateralism, and increasing hostility to migration makes this option unlikely in the short term
  • Migration, rather liberal migration policies… could be a solution but not permanent. However, what is more important is to look to invest in technological advancements that can compensate for the human shortages. For example, Japan has managed the needs of its greying population with virtually no emphasis on migration
  • Effect of fertility decline on women’s reproductive health rights has to be accompanied by greater economic independence. This would allow women to negotiate with the system on their own terms and for better support services as well.

4 . Whitefly


Context: Three indigenous bugs found to be the biological weapons against a Caribbean-origin enemy of Indian fruit farmers — the woolly whitefly in which there are two types of ladybird beetles.

Background

  • According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), pests damage 30-35% of crops in the country annually.
  • Among the newest of 118 exotic pests troubling farmers in India, particularly fruit growers, is the woolly whitefly first described from Jamaica in 1896 and noticed in Florida, U.S. in 1909.

About the Whitefly

  • Whitefly (Aleurothrixus floccosus) is invasive and polyphagous, meaning a creature that feeds on various kinds of food.
  • According to ICAR’s National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources in Bengaluru these pests had spread from the Caribbean island through transportation of infested seedlings.
  • In 2019, the pest was recorded from guava plantations in Kozhikode district of Kerala, Ramanagara, Mandya and Bengaluru Rural districts of Karnataka and Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu
  • Also called citrus whitefly, the woolly whitefly of neo-tropical origin is found across the warmer parts of the world.
  • It has been found to attack some 20 plant families in India, exhibiting a strong preference for guava.

Ladybird beetles

  •  A team of entomologists from the Centre for Plant Protection Studies at the Coimbatore-based Tamil Nadu Agricultural University zeroed in on three indigenous bugs that can control the pest by devouring them.
  • Entomologists found some indigenous bugs feeding on this whitefly in a guava orchard near Coimbatore. The bugs were collected and studied in the laboratory.
  • “Two of these indigenous predators were ladybird beetles of the Coccinellidae family and one was the green lacewing fly from the Neuroptera order
  • These insects having four life stages — egg, grub, pupa and adult — complete their life cycle in 30-40 days. The bugs fed on the woolly whiteflies during the active grub stage for 10-12 days, devouring more of the flies as they grew.
  • A tiny predator can eat 200-300 woolly whiteflies throughout its growing stage.
  • Attempt has been made to multiply these insects for controlling the dominance of the invasive pest

Importance

  • Management of exotic pests is crucial for India’s farm economy, but it is important to employ economically viable and environmentally sound measures.

5 . 15th Summit between India and the European Union (EU)


Context: The 15th Summit between India and the European Union (EU) was held in virtual format on 15th July 2020. India was represented by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The EU was represented by Mr. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Important decisions taken in the summit

  • India and the European Union (European Union) have decided to strengthen the EU-India Strategic Partnership, based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, and respect for human rights, aiming at delivering concrete benefits for the people in the EU and India.
  • They affirmed their determination to promote effective multilateralism and a rules-based multilateral order with the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core.
  • They will bolster their cooperation in international fora to reinforce international security, strengthen preparedness and response for global health emergencies, enhance global economic stability and inclusive growth, implement the Sustainable Development Goals and protect the climate and the environment.
  • They have committed to a framework for strategic cooperation until 2025, and vowed to cooperate on their response to the coronavirus pandemic and at the United Nations Security Council.
  • Both sides have announced a “high-level dialogue” to try and take the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) forward.
  • The two sides issued a joint political statement, a five-year roadmap for the India-EU strategic partnership, a civil nuclear research and development cooperation agreement between EURATOM and the Department of Atomic Energy, a declaration on “resource efficiency and circular economy” to exchange best practices in range of areas and the renewal of their science and technology agreement for another five years.
  • Both sides stressed the importance of bilateral trade, as EU is India’s largest trading partner, while India is the EU’s ninth biggest trading partner.

About European Commission

  • The European Commission is the EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

What does the Commission do?

  • Proposes new laws : The Commission is the sole EU institution tabling laws for adoption by the Parliament and the Council that:
    • protect the interests of the EU and its citizens on issues that can’t be dealt with effectively at national level
    • get technical details right by consulting experts and the public
  • Manages EU policies & allocates EU funding
    • sets EU spending priorities, together with the Council and Parliament
    • draws up annual budgets for approval by the Parliament and Council
    • supervises how the money is spent, under scrutiny by the Court of Auditors
  • Enforces EU law : Together with the Court of Justice, ensures that EU law is properly applied in all the member countries
  • Represents the EU internationally : –
    • speaks on behalf of all EU countries in international bodies, in particular in areas of trade policy and humanitarian aid
    • negotiates international agreements for the EU

Composition

  • Political leadership is provided by a team of 27 Commissioners (one from each EU country) – led by the Commission President, who decides who is responsible for which policy area.
  • The College of Commissioners is composed of the President of the Commission, eight Vice-Presidents, including three Executive Vice-Presidents, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and 18 Commissioners, each responsible for a portfolio.
  • The day-to-day running of Commission business is performed by its staff (lawyers, economists, etc.), organised into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs), each responsible for a specific policy area.
  • Appointing the President : The candidate is put forward by national leaders in the European Council, taking account of the results of the European Parliament elections. He or she needs the support of a majority of members of the European Parliament in order to be elected.

6 . Facts for Prelims


Melghat Tiger Reserve

  • Melghat was declared a tiger reserve and was among the first nine tiger reserves notified in 1973-74 under the Project Tiger.
  • Situated in the Satpura hill ranges of Central India, Melghat Tiger Reserve lies in Melghat Forests of Amravati district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra bordering Madhya Pradesh in the North and East.
  • It was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1967.
  • Inhabitants of Melghat are predominantly scheduled tribes. These include ‘Korku’, ‘Gond’ and ‘Nihal’.

PM Kaushal Kendras

  • These are state-of-the-art Model Training Centres in every district of the country.
  • PMKK will be instrumental in achieving the vision of making India, the ‘Skill Capital of the World’ of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) along with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  • These centres will be exclusive, iconic and will be marketed as the best-in-class skill development centres. They will run industry-driven courses of high quality with a focus on employability. NSDC is the implementation agency for the project.

The model training centres envisage to:

  • Create benchmark institutions that demonstrate aspirational value for competency-based skill development training.
  • Focus on elements of quality, sustainability and Connection with stakeholders in skills delivery process.
  • Transform from a Mandate-driven footloose model to a sustainable institutional model.

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