Daily Current Affairs : 6th January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Purchasing Managers Index
  2. Traditional and mRNA vaccines
  3. Sikh Takht
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Purchasing Managers Index

Context : India’s services sector activity moderated in December as business activity and sales rose at a softer pace, while price pressures and the possibility of new waves of COVID-19 affected business sentiment, a monthly survey said on January 5.

About the News

  • The seasonally adjusted India Services Business Activity Index fell from 58.1 in November to a three-month low of 55.5 in December.
  • The rates of expansion moderated but were nevertheless ‘marked’ by historical standards, according to the survey.
  • For the fifth straight month, the services sector witnessed an expansion in output. In Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below 50 denotes contraction.

What does the PMI index mean?

  • Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is a survey-based economic indicator designed to provide a timely insight into business conditions.
  • The PMI is widely used to anticipate changing economic trends in official data such as GDP, or sometimes as an alternative gauge of economic performance and business conditions to official data, as the latter sometimes suffer from delays in publication, poor availability or data quality issues.
  • The PMI is produced globally by IHS Markit although a small number of trade associations also produce local PMIs in certain markets, such as the ISM in the United States.

What does the Purchasing Managers’ Index measure?

  • The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is a survey-based indicator of business conditions, which includes individual measures (‘sub-indices’) of business output, new orders, employment, costs, selling prices, exports, purchasing activity, supplier performance, backlogs of orders and inventories of both inputs and finished goods, where applicable.
  • The surveys ask respondents to report the change in each variable compared to the prior month, noting whether each has risen/improved, fallen/deteriorated or remained unchanged.
  • These objective questions are accompanied by one subjective ‘sentiment’ question asking companies whether they forecast their output to be higher, the same or lower in a year’s time.
  • Originally compiled for manufacturing, IHS Markit pioneered the extension of coverage to other sectors in the 1990s, including services, construction and retail.
  • The PMI and its sub-indices are widely used to anticipate changing economic trends in official data such as GDP, or sometimes as an alternative gauge of economic performance and business conditions to official data, as the latter sometimes suffer from delays in publication, poor availability or data quality issues.

What is a services PMI?

  • The services PMI was introduced in 1996 by IHS Markit’s economists (known as NTC Research at the time) to accompany the existing manufacturing PMI.
  • With the service sector accounting for a larger proportion of GDP than manufacturing for most developed economies, the services PMI was born out of a need for analysts (and in particular central bank policymakers) to better understand changing business conditions in the wider economy.
  • The services PMI has fewer questions than the manufacturing PMI due to some questions, such as inventories, not being relevant to many service providers.
  • Coverage includes financial services, consumer services and all other business services.

Composite Purchasing Managers Index

  • The composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of economic health for manufacturing and service sectors.
  • The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current business conditions to company decision makers, analysts and purchasing managers.
  • Each country PMI survey for the manufacturing or service sector is based on questionnaire responses from panels of senior purchasing executives (or similar) at over 400 companies.
  • The composite PMI is a number from 0 to 100. A PMI above 50 represents an expansion when compared with the previous month.
  • A PMI reading under 50 represents a contraction, and a reading at 50 indicates no change

2 . mRNA Technology & Traditional Vaccine

Context : Vaccines like Biological E’s Corbevax and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin that are made by traditional methods are “just as effective” as the latest mRNA technology-based vaccines, says U.S. scientist and vaccine developer Dr. Peter Hotez.

About mRNA Vaccine

  • mRNA technology makes use of the messenger RNA molecules that tell cells what proteins to build. mRNA, in this case, is coded to tell the cells to recreate the spike protein of the novel coronavirus.
  • Once the mRNA is injected into the body, the cells will use its instructions, creating copies of the spike protein, which is in return expected to prompt the immune cells to create antibodies to fight it.

How M-RNA Vaccine Works

  • An m-RNA or simply “RNA vaccine” uses the genetic sequence of a portion of the virus that can be injected into the body. Once taken in by the body’s cells, the hope is that it makes an antigen to which the immunity machinery can manufacture antibodies.

Advantages of m-RNA Vaccine

  • Unlike several other vaccine candidates, mRNA vaccines are synthetically developed — they don’t need the virus to be cultivated and replicated, just the code for the most crucial part that the body’s immune system is to target.
  • Another advantage is that they can be manufactured at a large scale in large vats called bioreactors.
  • m-RNA vaccines can be made in large quantities quicker than traditional vaccines as they don’t need to be cultured in chicken or mammalian cells.
  • After getting the code for the virus, it is possible to develop the vaccine within weeks for pre-clinical testing, compared with months taken for more traditional platforms.

Traditional Vaccines

  • Traditional Vaccines can be Inactivated, live attenuated vaccines or Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines
  • Inactivated vaccines use the killed version of the germ that causes a disease. Inactivated vaccines usually don’t provide immunity (protection) that’s as strong as live vaccines. So you may need several doses over time (booster shots) in order to get ongoing immunity against diseases.
  • Live vaccines use a weakened (or attenuated) form of the germ that causes a disease. Because these vaccines are so similar to the natural infection that they help prevent, they create a strong and long-lasting immune response. Just 1 or 2 doses of most live vaccines can give you a lifetime of protection against a germ and the disease it causes.
  • But live vaccines also have some limitations.
    • Because they contain a small amount of the weakened live virus, some people should talk to their health care provider before receiving them, such as people with weakened immune systems, long-term health problems, or people who’ve had an organ transplant.
    • They need to be kept cool, so they don’t travel well. That means they can’t be used in countries with limited access to refrigerators.
  • Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines use specific pieces of the germ—like its protein, sugar, or capsid (a casing around the germ). Because these vaccines use only specific pieces of the germ, they give a very strong immune response that’s targeted to key parts of the germ. They can also be used on almost everyone who needs them, including people with weakened immune systems and long-term health problems.
  • One limitation of these vaccines is that you may need booster shots to get ongoing protection against diseases.

3 . Sikh Takht

Context : Ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP)-led Delhi Assembly on Monday passed an amendment Bill to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971, recognising Takht Damdama Sahib as the fifth Takht of Sikhs.

What is a Sikh Takht?

  • A Takht, which means a throne, is a seat of temporal authority for Sikhs.
  • There are five Sikh Takhts, three in Punjab and one each in Maharashtra and Bihar.
  • Akal Takht: Located in Amritsar, it is the oldest of the Takhts, and considered supreme among the five. It was set up in 1606 by Guru Hargobind, whose succession as the sixth Guru after the execution of his father, Guru Arjan Dev, is considered a turning point in Sikh history. The Akal Takht, a raised platform that he built in front of the causeway leading to the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), symbolised the coming together of the temporal authority and the political sovereignty of the Sikh community (miri) with the spiritual authority (piri). It is seen as the first marker of Sikh nationalism. The Akal Takht is a five-storey building today; the first storey houses the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • The other four Takhts are linked to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.
    • Takht Keshgarh Sahib: Located in Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. It was here that Guru Gobind Singh raised Khalsa, the initiated Sikh warriors, in 1699.
    • Takht Patna Sahib: Guru Gobind Singh was born here in 1666.
    • Takht Hazur Sahib: In Nanded, where Guru Gobind Singh spent time and where he was cremated in 1708.
    • Takht Damdama Sahib: In Talwandi Sabo of Bathinda. Guru Gobind Singh spent several months here

Is it the first time it has been recognised as the fifth Takht?

  • No. It was back in 1999 that Takht Damdama Sahib was recognised as the fifth Sikh Takht by the Union Home Ministry, which included it as such in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 (Punjab Act VIII of 1925) with a notification dated April 23, 1999. Before that, an SGPC sub-committee had declared it the fifth Takht of Sikhs back in November 1966 after Punjab was carved out as a separate state through the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
  • Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said it was already recognised as the fifth Takht, and the amendment appeared only to be aimed at recognising it in consonance with the earlier amendment to the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925.

What is the role of the Sikh Takhts?

  • The Takhts are known to issue hukumnamas from time to time on issues that concern the Sikh community.
  • Akal Takht is supreme among them because it is the oldest and was created by a Sikh Guru himself, say Sikh scholars. Any edict or order concerning the entire community is issued only from Akal Takht.
  • Also, it is from Akal Takht that Sikhs found to be violating the Sikh doctrine and code of conduct are awarded religious punishment (declared tankhaiya) and even excommunicated, depending on the degree of violation and failure of adherence to directives of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs. Scholars say the first hukamnama was issued by Guru Hargobind from Akal Takht.
  • Today, the Akal Takht jathedar issues edicts for the community after deliberations with the chiefs of the other Takhts. A seal believed to have been used by Guru Gobind Singh for his edicts is preserved at Damdama Sahib.

Who appoints the jathedars of the Takhts?

  • The three Takhts in Punjab are directly controlled by the SGPC, which appoints the jathedars. The SGPC is dominated by SAD members. It is widely understood that SAD puts the final seal on the appointment of these three jathedars. The two Takhts outside Punjab have their own trusts and boards.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Pangong Tso

  • Pangong Tso is an endorheic lake (landlocked) that is partly in India’s Ladakh region and partly in Tibet. The name reflects the mixed heritage of the lake: Pangong in Ladakhi means extensive concavity, the word Tso is Tibetan for lake.
  • Situated at an elevation of about 4,270 m, it is a nearly 135-km long, narrow lake — 6 km at its widest point — and shaped liked a boomerang. Its total area is over 600 sq km.
  • The Karakoram Mountain range, which crosses Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India, with heights of over 6,000 metres including K2, the world’s second highest peak, ends at the north bank of Pangong Tso. Its southern bank too has high broken mountains sloping towards Spangur Lake in the south.
  • The lake’s water, while crystal clear, is brackish, making it undrinkable. The lake freezes during the winter, allowing some vehicular movement on it as well.

Article 348 (1)

  • Article 348 (1) of the Constitution of India provides that all proceedings in the Supreme Court and in every High court shall be in English Language until Parliament by law otherwise provides.

SPGs Blue Book

  • Planning of the PM’s security during any visit is an elaborate exercise that involves both central agencies and state police forces. Broad guidelines are laid down in what is called the SPG’s ‘Blue Book’.

38th parallel

  • 38th parallel, popular name given to latitude 38° N that in East Asia roughly demarcates North Korea and South Korea

Chilika Lake

  • Situated on the east coast of India, and connected to the Bay of Bengal through a narrow sea mouth, Chilika is also a lagoon. And like all coastal lagoons, its waters are rich with life.
  • It is the largest brackish Water Lagoon with estuarine character that sprawls along the east coast.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
  • It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for atleast part of their life cycle.
  • A survey of the fauna of Chilika carried out by the Zoological Survey of India in 1985-87 recorded over 800 species in and around the lagoon. This list includes a number of rare, threatened and endangered species, including the Barakudia limbless skink.
  • On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
  • The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management.
  • The Lagoon is a highly productive ecosystem, with rich fishery resources. The rich fishing ground sustain the livelihood of more than 0.15 million fisherfolk who live in and around the Lagoon.
  • The lagoon itself can be broadly divided into four ecological sectors based on salinity and depth: the southern zone, central zone, northern zone and the outer channel. A number of islands are present in the lagoon with habitation and without the habitation, prominent among which are Krushnaprasad, Nalaban, Kalijai, Somolo, Honeymoon, Breakfast and Birds Island.
  • Chilika supports some of the largest congregation of migratory birds in the country, particularly during the winter. Flocks of migratory waterfowl arrive from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas, to feed and breed in its fertile waters.

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