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Here are the topics covered for 3rd October 2023: India Maldives Relations, Bihar caste survey, mRNA vaccines, Cholera situation, Astra missiles, Wildlife Week
Table of Content
- India Maldives Relations
- Bihar caste survey
- mRNA vaccines
- Cholera situation
Facts for Prelims
- Astra missiles
- Wildlife Week
India Maldives Relations
- In a recent election in Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu secured victory as the newly elected President, defeating the incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who had enjoyed a friendly relationship with India.
- This election result marks a significant political shift in Maldives’ leadership.
- Muizzu’s electoral win is perceived as a setback for India, given Solih’s previously pro-India stance.
- The Maldives, situated in this geopolitically sensitive region, is tasked with the challenge of stabilising its economy amidst mounting debt repayment obligations, drawing lessons from the economic crisis faced by neighbouring Sri Lanka.
- Maintaining a delicate equilibrium in relations with major global players like India, China, and the United States is of paramount importance due to the Maldives’ strategic location.
- It is imperative to steer clear of a zero-sum approach in these diplomatic ties to avert any potential resurgence of historical tensions.
- The Maldives is of strategic importance to India due to its location in the Indian Ocean, which has significant implications for maritime security and regional stability.
- The two nations have a history of cultural, economic, and people-to-people exchanges, which form the foundation of their diplomatic relationship.
- India is one of the largest trading partners of the Maldives. Both countries engage in various economic activities including trade, tourism, and infrastructure development.
Economic Cooperation and People-to-People Ties:
- people-to-people connections through visa-free travel, improved air connectivity, and cultural and economic links.
- India is a leading source of tourism for the Maldives, contributing to economic resilience.
- Ongoing efforts to use Rupay Cards in the Maldives were welcomed.
China’s expanding strategic influence in India’s neighbouring regions has become a noteworthy concern.
The Maldives, a key component in China’s broader South Asian strategy known as the “String of Pearls,” has gained particular significance.
There are conjectures that China might be working to establish pivotal bases in the Maldives, drawn by its advantageous position within the Indian Ocean.
- The India-Maldives relationship is pivotal for Indo-Pacific stability and maritime security.
- India remains steadfast in its commitment to being a reliable development ally, aligning with the “Neighbourhood First” approach.
- Simultaneously, the Maldives’ adherence to an “India First” policy is crucial in sustaining a strategically comfortable dynamic between the two nations.
Bihar caste survey
- The Bihar government has released the results of its survey of castes in the state, which puts the share of Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) cumulatively at more than 63%. The “unreserved” category of so-called “forward” castes is about 15.5%.
- A caste survey in India refers to a comprehensive government-led effort to gather demographic and socio-economic data related to various castes and communities in the country.
- These surveys aim to provide a detailed understanding of the distribution, composition, and socio-economic conditions of different caste groups.
- To identify marginalized and disadvantaged communities, and implement targeted policies for their upliftment.
- To develop and refine policies related to reservations, affirmative action, and social welfare programs.
- To ensure equitable distribution of resources and benefits among different caste groups.
- To facilitate research on social and economic disparities, and inform evidence-based policy decisions.
What are the key findings of the Bihar caste survey?
- The EBCs are the biggest social group comprising 36.01% of the state’s population. The OBCs (27.12%), Scheduled Castes (SCs) (19.65%), Scheduled Tribes (STs) number only (1.68%) and the “unreserved” category comprises (15.52%).
- The survey results will amplify the clamour for increasing the OBC quota beyond 27% and for a quota within the quota for the EBCs.
- The survey data will also reopen the longstanding debate over the 50% ceiling on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court in its landmark ruling in Indra Sawhney v Union of India (1992).
- The ceiling was imposed to ensure “efficiency” in administration, and courts have since blocked several attempts by states to breach it.
- Recently Dr. Karikó and Dr. Weissman were awarded the Nobel Prize for their “discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19”.
- The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their research that enabled the development of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. The Royal Swedish Academy of Science announced the prize.
- The first vaccines to use the mRNA technology were those made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna against COVID-19.
What are mRNA vaccines?
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a type of nucleic acid responsible for carrying genetic instructions.
- Like conventional vaccines, mRNA vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to generate antibodies that can combat an infection caused by a live virus.
- However, unlike most vaccines which use weakened or inactivated pathogens to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines only introduce a segment of the genetic material that encodes a specific viral protein, typically the spike protein located on the virus’s membrane.
- Consequently, mRNA vaccines do not subject individuals to the actual virus.
- A major advantage of mRNA and DNA vaccines is that because they only need the genetic code, it is possible to quickly update vaccines to emerging variants and even use them for a variety of diseases.
How do mRNA vaccines work?
- The vaccine contains a synthetic mRNA sequence that encodes the genetic information for a specific viral protein, usually the spike protein of the virus causing the disease.
- After injection, the mRNA is taken up by cells near the injection site. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, this often occurs in muscle cells.
- Once inside the cell, its machinery reads the mRNA and uses it as a template to produce the viral protein specified by the mRNA.
- The newly produced viral protein is then displayed on the surface of the cell.
- The immune system identifies the foreign protein, triggering the production of specific antibodies that neutralize it.
- The immune system creates memory cells (B and T cells) that remember the viral protein, providing long-term immunity.
- If exposed to the actual virus, the immune system swiftly recognizes the spike protein and prevents a severe infection.
- A challenge with mRNA vaccines is that they need to be frozen from -90 degrees Celsius to -50 degrees Celsius.
- They can be stored for up to two weeks in commercial freezers and need to be thawed at 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius at which they can remain for a month.
- As per the latest report by WHO, the World reported twice as many cholera cases in 2022 as in 2021.
- Since 2021, there has been an increase in cholera cases and their geographical distribution globally.
- In 2021, 23 countries reported cholera outbreaks, mainly in the WHO Regions of Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Many of those countries reported higher case numbers and case fatality ratio (CFR) than in previous years.
- This year the number of cholera cases and cholera-associated deaths have surged globally following years of decline.
- The concurrent occurrence of multiple cholera outbreaks, particularly in nations grappling with intricate humanitarian crises and vulnerable healthcare systems exacerbated by climate changes, presents significant challenges for containing these outbreaks.
- Responding effectively is hindered by limited global resources, including shortages of oral cholera vaccine. Additionally, healthcare workers, already stretched thin, often find themselves managing numerous disease outbreaks simultaneously, further straining response capabilities.
- Cholera is a rapid-onset diarrheal illness characterized by severe watery diarrhea and potentially life-threatening dehydration.
- It is caused by consuming contaminated food or water containing the Vibrio cholerae bacterium.
- The incubation period is short, ranging from two hours to five days. While most individuals experience mild or no symptoms, less than 20% develop intense watery diarrhoea with significant dehydration, putting them at risk of rapid fluid loss, dehydration, and even death.
- Despite being easily treatable with rehydration solutions, cholera remains a global concern, especially in vulnerable populations with limited access to adequate healthcare, due to its high rates of illness and death.
some strategies and potential advancements that can contribute to the future control of cholera:
- Strengthening and expanding access to clean and safe drinking water sources.
- Upgrading and maintaining sanitation facilities to prevent contamination of water supplies.
- Conducting public awareness campaigns on proper hygiene practices, including handwashing and safe food handling.
- Educating communities on the importance of water treatment and safe storage.
- Implementing robust surveillance systems to detect cholera outbreaks early.
- Utilizing technology and data analysis for real-time monitoring and rapid response.
- Large-scale investments in water and sanitation infrastructure have largely led to the elimination of cholera in Europe and the Americas.
- Controlling cholera requires a multi-faceted approach involving various stakeholders, including governments, international organizations, healthcare professionals, and communities.
- It requires a combination of technical innovations, community empowerment, and policy support to ultimately eliminate cholera as a public health threat.
Facts for Prelims
- Astra is a Beyond Visual Range(BVR) air-to-air missile to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aerial targets, designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and other laboratories of the DRDO.
- It uses sophisticated guidance systems, including inertial navigation, mid-course updates, and an active radar seeker for terminal guidance. This allows it to autonomously lock onto and track its target.
- The missile is designed for engagements beyond visual range, with reported ranges of over 160 kilometres for the Astra Mk-II variant.
- It is a supersonic missile, capable of reaching speeds of Mach 4 to Mach 4.5, making it extremely fast and difficult for enemy aircraft to evade.
- The missile is designed to counter electronic countermeasures (ECM) and employs electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) to ensure target acquisition and successful engagement.
- National Zoological Park kick-started the celebration of 69th Wildlife Week with the theme “Partnerships for wildlife conservation“.
- Wildlife Week is celebrated every year to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and to follow his principles of Ahinsa and Compassion for all living beings.
- The National Zoological Park celebrates “Wildlife Week – 2023” from 02.10.2023 to 08.10.2023.