Daily Current Affairs : 2nd November 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Plasmid DNA Vaccine
  2. Project-15B
  3. One Health approach
  4. Paris Rule Book
  5. Ganges River Dolphin
  6. Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)
  7. Facts for Prelims

1. Plasmid DNA Vaccine

Context : Zydus Cadila has received approval for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for ZyCoV-D

About Zycov -D

  • It is the world’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA based vaccine for COVID-19 to be administered in humans including Children and adults 12 years and above.
  • Developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’ and implemented by BIRAC, ZyCoV-D has been supported under COVID-19 Research Consortia through National Biopharma Mission for Preclinical studies, Phase I and Phase II Clinical Trials and under the Mission COVID Suraksha for Phase III Clinical Trial.
  • Most Covid-19 vaccines currently are given in two doses, with a couple of single-shot ones also available. ZyCov-D by contrast, will be given in three doses, with an interval of 28 days between the first and second and second and third shots.
  • The other unique thing about the vaccine is the way it is given. No needle is used — instead, a spring-powered device delivers the shot as a narrow, precise stream of fluid that penetrates the skin.
  • This 3 dose vaccine which when injected produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and elicits an immune response, which plays a vital role in protection from disease as well as viral clearance. The plug-and-play technology on which the plasmid DNA platform is based can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus, such as those already occurring.

About Plasmid DNA Vaccine

  • ZyCov-D is a “plasmid DNA” vaccine — or a vaccine that uses a genetically engineered, non-replicating version of a type of DNA molecule known as a ‘plasmid‘. The vaccine is produced on a DNA platform, and introduces a specific antigen-coding DNA sequence into the cells of an organism to induce an immune response.
  • A plasmid is a type of DNA that is found only in bacterial cells. They are distinct from the chromosomal DNA. The plasmid DNA, unlike the chromosomal DNA, does not carry hereditary information, but its genes give it advantages such as pesticide- and antibiotic-resistance.
  • A plasmid DNA vaccine works like this: A piece of DNA encoding the antigen (part of the disease-causing pathogen that induces an immunity response from our bodies) is inserted into a bacterial plasmid. The DNA plasmids carrying the antigen are injected into the muscle. Once the DNA gets inside our cells, they start producing antigens, which triggers an immune response.
  • The advantages are that (like the mRNA vaccines) the plasmid DNA vaccines can be easily manufactured, are inexpensive and safer.

2. Project-15B

Context : MAZAGON DOCK Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) has delivered the first ship of the Project 15B Class Destroyer Visakhapatnam to the Indian Navy.

About INS Visakhapatnam 

  • The destroyer, named Y12704 but to be christened the INS Visakhapatnam upon formal induction into the Navy later in November 2021, is the lead ship of the Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyers.
  • The stealth destroyer is 163 m long, with a displacement of 7400 tonnes and can speed up to 30 knots using the four Gas turbine configuration propulsion system. 
  • The ship is equipped with two helicopters on board to further extend its reach.
  • The ship is propelled by a powerful combined gas and gas (COGAG) propulsion plant, consisting of four reversible gas turbines, which enables it to achieve a speed of over 30 knots (approximately 55 km/hr).
  • The ship is built with DMR-249A grade steel developed by the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

About Project 15B?

  • Project 15B is a class of stealth guided missile destroyers currently under construction for the Indian Navy.
  • They are an improved variant of the Kolkata-class destroyers, are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) for the Indian Navy. They retain the hull design of the Kolkata-class destroyers but will incorporate advanced stealth features and a high degree of automation.
  • The Navy is set to receive a total of four of the Visakhapatnam class of destroyers as part of Project 15B
  •  A total of four vessels are being built under this class by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL).
    • Visakhapatnam,
    • Mormugao
    • Imphal 
    • Porbandar
  • INS Vishakhapatnam was the first Project 15B ship and was launched in April 2015, while the second ship, INS Mormugao, was launched in September 2016. The third ship Imphal was launched on April 20, 2019, and is at an advanced stage of outfitting. The fourth ship is under block erection and will be launched within the current financial year.
  • These “feature cutting-edge advanced technology and are comparable to the best ships of similar class anywhere in the world”.


  • With a state-of-the-art sensor package and weapons, the destroyers will be one of the world’s most technologically advanced guided missile destroyers
  • The ships run on four gas turbines and incorporate new design concepts for “improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and maneuverability”.
  • The ships also feature enhanced stealth features — which make them difficult to detect — that have been achieved through “shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings”.
  • The destroyers will feature multiple fire zones, battle damage control systems (BDCS) and distributional power systems for improved survivability and reliability in emergent conditions. The total atmospheric control system (TACS) on board the vessel will protect the crew from chemical, biological and nuclear threats.
  • With significant indigenous content, these ships are a true hallmark of self-reliance attained by India in warship design and shipbuilding, and a shining example of the ‘Make in India’ philosophy.

Project 15B weapon systems

  • The ship’s primary firepower will constitute vertically launched Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles (SAM), and BrahMos surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) for long-range engagement of shore and sea-based targets.
  • Towards undersea warfare capability, the destroyer is fitted with indigenously developed anti-submarine weapons and sensors, prominently the Hull mounted Sonar Humsa NG, heavyweight torpedo tube launchers and rocket launchers.

3 .One Health approach

Context: At G20 submit at Rome decision was made to pursue the recognition of more vaccines
by the World Health Organization under a “One Health approach” for the world, and providing finances and technology for vaccine production at “mRNA Hubs” in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, and to mobilise more international public private financing for “green” projects.


  • The term ‘One Health’ was first used in 2003–2004, and was associated with the emergence of severe acute respiratory disease (SARS) in early 2003 and subsequently by the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, and by the series of strategic goals known as the ‘Manhattan Principles’ derived at a meeting of the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2004, which clearly recognised the link between human and animal health and the threats that diseases pose to food supplies and economies.
  • These principles were a vital step in recognising the critical importance of collaborative, cross-disciplinary approaches for responding to emerging and resurging diseases, and in particular, for the inclusion of wildlife health as an essential component of global disease prevention, surveillance, control, and mitigation

What is ‘One Health’?

  • ‘One Health’ is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
  • The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever), and combatting antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat)


  • The One Health concept clearly focusses on consequences, responses, and actions at the animal–human–ecosystems interfaces, and especially on
    • emerging and endemic zoonoses, the latter being responsible for a much greater burden of disease in the developing world, with a major societal impact in resource-poor settings
    • antimicrobial resistance (AMR), as resistance can arise in humans, animals, or the environment, and may spread from one to the other, and from one country to another
    • food safety
  • However, the scope of One Health as envisaged by the international organizations (WHO, FAO, OIE, UNICEF), the World Bank, and many national organisations also clearly embraces other disciplines and domains, including environmental and ecosystem health, social sciences, ecology, wildlife, land use, and biodiversity. 

Why do we need a One Health approach?

  • Many of the same microbes infect animals and humans, as they share the eco-systems they live in.
  • Efforts by just one sector cannot prevent or eliminate the problem.
  • For instance, rabies in humans is effectively prevented only by targeting the animal source of the virus (for example, by vaccinating dogs).
  • Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics.
  • Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between animals and humans or through contaminated food, so to effectively contain it, a well-coordinated approach in humans and in animals is required.

mRNA hubs

  • World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting a South African consortium in establishing the first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, the UN agency announced on Monday. 
  • The facility will allow manufacturers from developing countries to receive training in how to produce vaccines, and the relevant licenses to do so, as part of global efforts to scale-up access to lifesaving treatments. 
  • The development follows WHO’s call in April for public and private companies to express their interest in creating technology transfer hubs so that low and middle-income countries could meet their urgent need for vaccines, amid critical shortages
  • The South African consortium involves a biotech company called Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, which will act as the hub by manufacturing mRNA vaccines and providing training to another manufacturer called Biovac.   
  • WHO’s role includes establishing the criteria for the technology transfer, assessing applications and developing standards, while the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, will provide guidance through the Partnership for African Vaccines Manufacturing. 
  • This initiative will initially prioritize the mRNA-vaccine technology but will expand this call to other technologies in the future, as appropriate.
  • WHO supporting South African consortium to establish first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub.
  • At the G20 submit, the nations decided for providing finances and technology for vaccine production at mRNA Hubs in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina

4 . Paris Rulebook

Context : Key demand of the BASIC countries in COP 26 is that the Paris Agreement Rulebook be concluded at COP26

About Paris rulebook

  • The Paris Agreement established a new international framework to accelerate efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. To promote the climate transformation needed, it articulates three core goals:
    • To keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial
      levels and to pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F);
    • To increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change; and
    • To make finance flows consistent with a low emissions and climate-resilient development
  • While the Paris Agreement has provided the framework for international action, the Rulebook will set this Agreement in motion by laying out the tools and processes to enable its full, fair, and effective implementation.
  • Countries agreed to develop and finalize the Paris Rulebook at COP24 (the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in December 2018.
  • Adopting the Rulebook will provide guidance for how countries should implement and strengthen their national climate plans under the Paris Agreement (known in the United Nations as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs), and create an institutional structure for doing so.
  • The 2018 Paris Rulebook governs how the world community of 191 countries must pledge emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement and report on their progress.
  • It also contains provisions for rich countries to provide climate action finance to developing countries.

Purpose Of the Paris Rulebook

  • The Rulebook’s purpose is to transform the relatively short Paris Agreement into a functioning system that mobilizes concrete climate action in every country around the world.
  • A robust Rulebook will spell out how countries plan their individual contributions, how they
    implement their efforts and how they review individual and collective progress to strengthen climate commitments over time.
  • The Rulebook will address how to track and mobilize finance and support for developing countries to curb emissions and adapt to increasingly severe climate impacts.
  • Importantly, an effective set of guidelines will enable countries to take these steps transparently and fairly while allowing the international community to hold countries accountable for their commitments.
    Clear, effective guidelines can help countries in the transformation to a low-emissions and climate resilient world at the pace and scale needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals.
  • The “rulebook tells how the commitments need to be implemented and what are the obligations of the country towards meeting their commitment. These include updating the NDCs every five years and rules on how to report on the steps taken to control climate change.

BASIC Nations

  • The BASIC countries (also Basic countries or BASIC) are a bloc of four large newly industrialized countries – 
    • Brazil
    • South Africa
    • India
    • China
  • The BASIC group was formed as the result of an agreement signed by the four countries on November 28, 2009.
  • The signatory nations, all recently industrialised, committed to acting together at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit, scheduled in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7-18 of that year.
  • These nations have a broadly common position on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and raising the massive funds that are needed to fight climate change.
  • The BASIC group wields considerable heft purely because of the size of the economies and populations of the member countries.
  • China, India, and Brazil are the world’s second, fifth, and ninth-largest economies.
  • “Brazil, South Africa, India and China put together has one-third of the world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population.

India’s Commitment

  • India will achieve net zero emissions latest by 2070. India was the only major emitter that had not committed to a timeline to achieve net zero, or a year by which it would ensure its net carbon dioxide emissions would be zero.
  • By 2030, India will ensure 50% of its energy will be sourced from renewable sources. India also committed to reduce its carbon emissions until 2030 by a billion tonnes.
  • India will also reduce its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by less than 45%. India would also install systems to generate 500 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2030, a 50 GW increase from its existing target

5 . Ganges River Dolphin

Context: The Jal Shakti Ministry on Monday released a guide for the safe rescue and release of stranded Ganges River Dolphins. The document has been prepared by the Turtle Survival Alliance, India Program and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department (EFCCD), Uttar Pradesh. The guide has been drawn from years of experience of the organisation while rescuing 25 Ganges River Dolphins (GRDs) stranded in irrigation canals.

About Ganges River Dolphin

  • The Ganges river dolphin, or susu , inhabits the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Karnaphuli, and Meghna rivers and their tributaries in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.
  • The Ganges river dolphin can only live in freshwater and is essentially blind.
  • They hunt by emitting ultrasonic sounds, which bounces off of fish and other prey, enabling them to “see” an image in their mind.
  • They are frequently found alone or in small groups, and generally a mother and calf travel together. Females are larger than males and give birth once every two to three years to only one calf.
  • The Ganges river dolphin has been recognized by the government of India as its National Aquatic Animal

IUCN Status

  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN): Endangered.
  • Its status of existence has become a matter of serious concern over the past few decades as this is an indicator species of health of the river ecosystem.

Major Threats

  • They are endangered due to pollution and overfishing for oil : Entanglement in fishing nets as bycatch can cause significant damage to local populations, and individuals are taken each year by hunters; their oil and meat are used as a liniment, as an aphrodisiac, and as bait for catfish.
  • Poisoning of the water supply from industrial and agricultural chemicals may have also be a contributing factor towards population decline, as these chemicals are biomagnified in the bodies of the dolphins.
  • An immediate danger for the species in National Chambal Sanctuary is the decrease in river depth and appearance of sand bars dividing the river course into smaller segments, as irrigation has lowered water levels throughout their range
  • Other reasons include shipping, climate change, habitat fragmentation by barrages, flow regulation and depletion from hydropower generation and diversions for irrigation

Conservation Initiatives activated by the Government of India

  • On the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, 15 August 2020, the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced ‘Project Dolphin’ to boost conservation of both river and oceanic dolphins
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in its efforts of biodiversity conservation in Ganga River basin has been working further on the Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Action Plan and has taken up steps to coordinate with various institutions to:
    • Build capacity for Ganga River Dolphin Conservation and Management;
    • Minimize fisheries interface and incidental capture of Ganga River Dolphins;
    • Restore river dolphin habitats by minimizing and mitigating the impacts of developmental projects;
    • Involve communities and stakeholders for sustainable efforts in Ganga River Dolphin conservation;
    • Educate and create awareness and Set off targeted research.

6 . Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)

About CBDR – RC

  • The principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) outlined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), recognises that countries (known as Parties) have different duties and abilities to address the negative impact of climate change, but all countries have an obligation to address the climate change.
  • It establishes the common responsibility of states for the protection of the global environment. In addition it also lays down different standards of conduct for developed and developing nations.
  • The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) has, from the inception of the climate dialogue, underpinned the efforts of the international community to address climate change.
  • At the Second World Climate Conference, 1990, countries recognized that the ‘principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility of countries should be the basis of any global response to climate change.
  • At the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, the CBDR-RC was officially enshrined in the UNFCCC treaty on Climate Change

How is it applied?

  • Provisions requires developed countries to take the lead in combating climate change it does not spell out their primary responsibility for changes in the climate system.
  • The CBDRRC is applied by dividing parties into different groups.
  • But only the UNFCCC preamble (noting that the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries, that per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low and will grow) contains a broad reference to the responsibility for greenhouse gas emission.


  • CBDR is not unanimously accepted among developed countries.
  • At the Rio negotiations it was rejected by the United States, which has since conditioned its participation in any restrictive scheme on a specific commitment from developing countries to participate as well (the 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution).
  • As a result of this lack of consensus, CBDR has been relatively sidelined in environmental governance debates.
  • The content of the CBDRRC principle and its application remain deeply contested.
  • Its legal status as well as its ability to guide the design of a future climate regime have been subject to significant academic and political debate.
  • The economic development of some developing nations such as India, China or Brazil has also led to calls from industrialised countries to gradually align the obligations of developed and developing country parties.

India’s stand

  • India firmly believes that the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities form the bedrock of parties’ efforts to address climate change.

7. Facts for Prelims

Polar bear

  • The largest bear in the world and the Arctic’s top predator.
  • Polar bears live in the Arctic, on ice-covered waters. Polar bears rely on sea ice to access the seals that are their primary source of food, as well as to rest and breed.
  • The total polar bear population is divided into 19 units or subpopulations. Sixty percent of the sub-populations are in Canada. There are 22,000-31,000 polar bears in the wild.
  • They have a thick layer of body fat and a water-repellent coat that insulates them from the cold air and water.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the polar bear as a vulnerable species since 2006, and the U.S. government has listed the polar bear as a threatened species since 2008, in large part because of the influence of global warming, which continues to reduce Arctic sea ice coverage.
  • Monitoring what polar bears eat can reveal facts about environmental shifts and distribution of marine mammal prey.
  • Researchers found by harvest-based sampling of polar bear in the Nunavut region that these were, in fact, flexible eaters, making them ideal as a monitoring tool to track environmental changes in the Arctic.

Bottom trawling

Bottom trawling is a fishing practice that herds and captures the target species, like ground fish or crabs, by towing a net along the ocean floor.

Bottom trawl illustration

It’s a favoured method by commercial fishing companies because it can catch large quantities of product in one go.

Why is bottom trawling destructive?

  • The problem with bottom trawling as a fishing method is that it’s indiscriminate in what it catches. When dragging the large, weighted nets across the seafloor, everything that happens to be in the way gets swept up in the net too.
  • For this reason bottom trawling has a large bycatch impact, with many non target species being fished in the process. 
  • This has an impact on the biodiversity of the ocean, and also means many species are being fished to the brink simply as a consequence of commercial activities, not as the target of them.
  • In addition to the turtles, juvenile fish and invertebrates that get swept up in trawling nets, deep sea corals are hidden victims of trawling.  
  • Deep sea coral forests, thought to be some of the most biodiverse ecosystems with high degree of endemism (species found only there), can take centuries to form. But when a trawler runs over them again and again to catch fish, they’re destroyed, and so is the whole community that had formed around them. 

Di ammonium Phosphate (DAP)

  • Diammonium phosphate (DAP) is the world’s most widely used phosphorus fertilizer. It’s made from two common constituents in the fertilizer industry, and its relatively high nutrient content and excellent physical properties make it a popular choice in farming and other industries.
  • DAP also acts as a fire retardant. For example, a mixture of DAP and other ingredients can be spread in advance of a fire to prevent a forest from burning. It then becomes a nutrient source after the danger of fire has passed.
  • DAP is used in various industrial processes, too, such as metal finishing. And, it’s commonly added to wine to sustain yeast fermentation and to milk to produce cheese cultures.

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