Daily Current Affairs : 5th August

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Kala Azhar
  2. Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
  3. Deep Sea Mining
  4. Wearable Device
  5. Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile
  6. Genome India Project
  7. Automobile Sales
  8. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

1 . Kala Azhar

Context : By encapsulating an antifungal drug in polymer nanofibres, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have been able to achieve controlled and sustained release of the drug for up to 10 days. As a result, no fungal growth was seen up to seven days when the drug (Amphotericin B) was encapsulated in the polymer. The encapsulated drug can also be used for treating kala-azar. As a result, no fungal growth was seen up to seven days when the drug (Amphotericin B) was encapsulated in the polymer. The encapsulated drug can also be used for treating kala-azar.

About Kala Azhar

  • Kala-azar is a slow progressing indigenous disease caused by a protozoan parasite of genus Leishmania
  • In India Leishmania donovani is the only parasite causing this disease
  • The parasite primarily infects reticuloendothelial system and may be found in abundance in bone marrow, spleen and liver.
  • Post Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) is a condition when Leishmania donovani invades skin cells, resides and develops there and manifests as dermal leisions. Some of the kala-azar cases manifests PKDL after a few years of treatment. Recently it is believed that PKDL may appear without passing through visceral stage. However, adequate data is yet to be generated on course of PKDL manifestation

What is Post Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL)?

  • Post Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis is a condition in which Leishmania donovani parasites are found in skin. PKDL develops in some of the Indian kala-azar patients usually 1-2 years or more following recovery of Kala-azar; less commonly without suffering from Kala-azar

Transmission of Kala Azar

  • Kala-azar is a vector borne disease
  • Sandfly of genus Phlebotomus argentipes are the only known vectors of kala-azar in India
  • Indian Kala-azar has a unique epidemiological feature of being Anthroponotic; human is the only known reservoir of infection
  • Female sandflies pick up parasite (Amastigote or LD bodies)while feeding on an infected human host.
  • Parasite undergo morphological change to become flagellate (Promastigote or Leptomonad), development and multiplication in the gut of sandflies and move to mouthparts
  • Healthy human hosts get infection when an infective sandfly vector bites them

Kala-azar Vector in India

  • There is only one sandfly vector of Kala-azar in India Phlebotomus aregentipes
  • Sandflies are small insects, about one fourth of a mosquito.  The length of a snadfly body ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 mm.
  • Adult is a small fuzzy, delicately proportionate fly with erect large wings. The entire body including wings is heavily clothed with long hairs.
  • Life cycle consists of egg, four instages of larvae, pupa and adult. The whole cycle takes more than a month, however, duration depends on temperature and other ecological conditions
  • They prefer high relative humidity, warm temperature, high subsoil water and abundance of vegetation.
  • Sandflies breed in favourable micro-climatic conditions in places with high organic matter that serve as food for larvae
  • These are ecologically sensitive insects, fragile and cannot withstand desiccation

Kala-azar Control Efforts in India

  • An organized centrally sponsored Control Programme launched in endemic areas in 1990-91
  • Government of India provided kala-azar medicines, insecticides and technical support and the State governments implemented the programme through primary health care system and district/zonal and State malaria control organizations and provided other costs involved in strategy implementation

2 . Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

Context : The Prime Minister’s announcement that tiger numbers have increased in the country may be good news. But the loss of habitat, a decline of prey and poaching continues to be a threat to tigers’ survival. Along with these, a potential virus — Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) — that can be transmitted from CDV-infected dogs living in and around wildlife sanctuaries has started to raise concern among wildlife biologists.

About Canine Distemper Virus

  • Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.
  • Canine distemper belongs to the Morbillivirus class of viruses, and is a relative of the measles virus, which affects humans, the Rinderpest virus that affects cattle, and the Phocine virus that causes seal distemper. All are members of the Paramyxoviridae family.
  • CDV also affects other wild carnivores, including wolves, foxes, raccoons, red pandas, ferrets, hyenas, tigers, and lions. 
  • Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) to the virus from an infected dog or wild animal.
  • The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months, and mother dogs can pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies. 
  • Because canine distemper also impacts wildlife populations, contact between wild animals and domestic dogs can facilitate the spread of the virus

3 . Deep Sea Mining

Context : India’s ambitious ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ is all set to be launched this year.

What will be mined from the deep ocean?

  • One of the main aims of the mission is to explore and extract polymetallic nodules. These are small potato-like rounded accretions composed of minerals such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper and iron hydroxide.
  • They lie scattered on the Indian Ocean floor at depths of about 6,000 m and the size can vary from a few millimetres to centimetres.
  • These metals can be extracted and used in electronic devices, smartphones, batteries and even for solar panels.

Area of mining

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, allots the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining. 
  • India was the first country to receive the status of a ‘Pioneer Investor ‘ in 1987 and was given an area of about 1.5 lakh sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for nodule exploration.
  • In 2002, India signed a contract with the ISA and after complete resource analysis of the seabed 50% was surrendered and the country retained an area of 75,000 sq km.
  • According to a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential in this area is 380 million tonnes (MT), containing 4.7 MT of nickel, 4.29 MT of copper, 0.55 MT of cobalt and 92.59 MT of manganese. Further studies have helped narrow the mining area to 18,000 sq km which will be the ‘First Generation Mine-site’.

Other Areas

  • Apart from the CIOB, polymetallic nodules have been identified from the central Pacific Ocean. It is known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.

Environmental impacts

  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these deep remote locations can be home to unique species that have adapted themselves to conditions such as poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures.
  • Such mining expeditions can make them go extinct even before they are known to science. The deep sea’s biodiversity and ecology remain poorly understood, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and frame adequate guidelines.
  • Strict guidelines have been framed, they are only exploration guidelines. A new set of exploitation guidelines are being worked out and discussions are on with the ISA. Environmentalists are also worried about the sediment plumes that will be generated as the suspended particles can rise to the surface harming the filter feeders in the upper ocean layers. Additional concerns have been raised about the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spills from the operating vessels.
Explained | What is India's Deep Ocean Mission

4 . Wearable Device

About Wearable Device

  • A wearable device is a technology that is worn on the human body. This type of device has become a more common part of the tech world as companies have started to evolve more types of devices that are small enough to wear and that include powerful sensor technologies that can collect and deliver information about their surroundings.
  • Wearable devices are also known as wearable gadgets, wearable technology or simply wearables.

5 . Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile

Context : The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) on Sunday successfully test-fired the indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur.

About the Missiles

  • Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile has a strike range of 25 km to 30 km. It uses solid-fuel propellant and has the capability of engaging multiple targets.
  • The system is being developed for the Army with search and track on move capability with very short reaction time.
  • The systems are equipped with indigenously developed phased array radar, inertial navigation system, data link and radio frequency seeker.

6 . Genome India Initiative

Context : India will launch its first human genome mapping project by October, a move that will help researchers get closer to developing effective therapies for treating diseases such as cancer. 

About the Process

  • The first phase involves sequencing the complete genomes of nearly 10,000 Indians from all corners of the country and capture the biological diversity of India
  • In the next phase, about 10,000 “diseased individuals” would have their genomes sequenced. These vast troves of data sets would be compared using machine learning techniques to identify genes that can predict cancer risk, as well as other diseases that could be significantly influenced by genetic anomalies.
  • While 22 institutions, including those from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the DBT would be involved in the exercise, the data generated would be accessible to researchers anywhere for analysis. This would be through a proposed National Biological Data Centre envisaged in a policy called the ‘Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy

About Genome Sequencing

  • A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all its genes. It contains all the information needed to build and maintain that organism. By sequencing the genome, researchers can discover the functions of genes and identify which of them are critical for life. 


  • Across the world, predictive diagnosis and precision medicine based on the genetic makeup of patients are emerging fields in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and other genetic disorders.
  • The Genome India project will aim to make predictive diagnostic markers available for some priority diseases such as cancer and other rare and genetic disorders 

7 . Falling Automobile Sales

Context : Leading automobile manufacturers announced a sharp decline of up to 50 per cent in their domestic sales in July with the market leader Maruti Suzuki reporting a 36.2 per cent drop in sales during the month. Hit by the liquidity crunch for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and a dip in consumer sentiment, July became the twelfth out of the last 13 months in which the auto sector has seen a decline in domestic sales.

About the decline

  • The drop in sales is happening across all segments. If passenger vehicles ales witnessed a fall of 18.4 per cent in the quarter ended June 2019, the commercial vehicle segment witnessed a 16.6 per cent decline. The two-wheeler segment too, saw a drop in sales by 11.7 per cent during the quarter.
  • Tractor sales have consistently fallen since March 2019, amidst weak farm sentiment; with volumes seeing a double-digit decline over the past three months, and the worst number of an over 32 per cent decline in production in June 2019.


  • Industry insiders feel that while the pressure on NBFCs and the liquidity squeezeing the market is a big factor, the decline in customer confidence is the other factor that is leading to a continuous slide in sales of passenger cars.
  • Tractor sales have been further hurt by weak farm sentiment, the slowdown in the rural economy, and fears of a worse than average monsoon this year. This comes amid the third advance estimates of crop production indicating a slide in rabi production. Kharif sowing has remained weak so far.
  • Truck sales have been hurt by changes made by the government in the axle load norms. Industry officials said that a significant decline in the sales of commercial vehicles has been visible ever since the increased axle load has become effective. The industry has been calling for a scrappage policy and other policy support measures to revive demand.


  • The sharp decline in sales numbers of the leading manufacturer shows the decline in consumer sentiment and indicates an overall slowdown in the economy.
  • The drop in sales over the last one year has led major manufacturers to cut production, and has put pressure on the overall automotive sector, including the automobile ancillaries.

8 . Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

Context : The Health Ministry may soon make it mandatory for companies to include codes to track-and-trace key ingredients used to make medicines in India, The Indian Express has learnt.

About Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

  • Active pharmaceutical ingredients or APIs can be defined as the chemicals used to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs.
  • The active ingredient (AI) is the substance or substances that are biologically active within the drug and is the specific component responsible for the desired effect it has on the individual taking it.
  • Any drug or medication is composed of two components. The first is the API – which is the central ingredient.
  • The second is known as the excipient, which is the inactive substance that serves as the vehicle for the API itself.
  • If the drug is in a syrup form, then the excipient is the liquid that has been used to make it as such.

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