Current Affairs Summary 15 May 2021

Preparation with Monthly Current Affairs 2021 will be very fruitful for the banking aspirants. Many bank exams either in Prelims or Mains, consists of questions from Current Affairs. Generally, six months of current affairs are advised to prepare to crack the upcoming bank exams. Here, we are providing you with the monthly current affairs pdf. In this pdf, you will get Current Affairs Summary ebooks for quick revision. Ebooks will give you the best way to read and revise important monthly current affairs before the exam in a short period. Monthly Current Affairs PDF can help you to score better in the general awareness section of various banking exams.

Content:

  1. PM orders Audit of Ventilators provided by the Centre
  2. Assam Elephants Death-Report indicates Lighting
  3. International Day of Families: May 15
  4. World Agri-Tourism Day: May 16
  5. Punjab to join COVAX facility
  6. 2DG- DRDO’s Anti-Covid Drug
  7. Mixing Covid-19 vaccines increase Vaccine Reactogenicity
  8. Mice Rain in Australia
  9. Tianwen-1: Chinese Rover lands on Mars
  10. Maratha Quota Issue: Centre file Case in SC

PM orders Audit of Ventilators provided by the Centre

On May 15, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered an audit of ventilators provided by the Central Government to the State Government and the Union Territories.

Why the audit?

It has come to the notice of the PM that several ventilators issued to the States are lying in the storage unutilized. Thus, an audit is being launched to check the installation and operation of the ventilators. The Prime Minister has also suggested that proper training should be provided to the health workers in operating the ventilators.

What is the issue?

The Punjab Government has been complaining that out of 320 ventilators received under the PM CARES Fund, 237 are defective.

The Maharashtra Congress Spokesperson was claiming that there is a big scam in the ventilator provided under PM-CARES Fund.

There have been several media reports that the ventilators have technical glitches.

There are accusations that the technical complaints after installation are not been resolved due to poor after-sales support by the manufacturers.

There are reports that the bacteria fillers, flow sensors and HME filters are not being changed by the hospital authorities as per the prescribed norms.

Lack of knowledge

The user manual, detailed instructions and guidelines have been issued along with the ventilator. However, the hospital workers are not able to follow the usage instructions.

Help from Health Ministry

The Health Ministry had created state-wise WhatsApp groups with the concerned nodal officers. Through this group, the ministry is passing information about the usage and is answering the queries being raised. Still, the issue remains unsorted.

Assam Elephants Death-Report indicates Lighting


Around eighteen Asian elephants died in the Nagaon district of Assam recently. It is a proposed reserve forest. Prior to this, such mass death of elephants occurred in 2001. Around 21 elephants were poisoned to death in 2001 in the adjoining tiger reserves of Pakke and Nameri across Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

What happened?

  • On the night of May 12, 2021, eighteen elephants died in the Kundoli proposed Reserve Forest located in Bamuni hillock.
  • The elephants were buried in the same spot after post mortem.
  • The samples of the elephants were sent for microbiological and toxicological examination. This was because there were claims that the elephants may have died due to poisoning of pesticides and insecticides used in Tea gardens.

Conclusion

It has now been concluded that the elephants died of lightning. A burnt tree was found split down in the middle indicating that the region was stuck by lightning. The elephants had charred bellies, burnt ears and burn marks on the scapular region.

How many elephants died?

Around ten females and eight females died in the incident. They were all found on the hilltop within a radius of hundred to 150 metres.

Why did this happen?

The Barmuni hill, where the lightning stuck and killed the elephants do not have thick vegetation. It is barren. There is no single tall tree to take the lightning.

How did the lightning kill the elephants?

The lightning strikes in different ways. Apart from direct strike, there are other ways by which the lightning strikes the ground. It can be through a side flash, ground current. In this case, the lightning current passed through the ground surface and killed even those who were outside the area.

In a side flash, the current bounces off bigger object.

International Day of Families: May 15


Every year, International Family Day is celebrated on May 15. It is also called World Family Day. This year, the day is celebrated under the following theme

Theme: Families and New Technologies

History

The World Family Day was introduced in the United Nations in 1993. This was done to emphasis the role of the families in shaping the individuals.

Significance

There is a need to explain about the importance of families to the global citizens in the current scenario. The current scenario is as follows:

  • Family homelessness is increasing. In the European countries the total homeless population is more than 20%.
  • Only 57% of married women in the world are able to make decisions about sexual relations, reproductive health services and use of contraceptives.

These are issues related to families. The International Day of Families help to address these issues and increase the knowledge of demographic, social and economic processes affecting families.

International Year of Families

The United Nations is to celebrate International Year of Families in 2024.

Family Homelessness

It is caused by the lack of affordable housing, decreasing government supports, changing demographics, fractured social supports, domestic violence.

In the US, there are about 580 homeless people as of 2020.

Family Homelessness in India

  • There is a shortage of 18.78 million houses in India.
  • Around 78 millions live in slums. 17% of world slum dwellers are in India.
  • The main reason behind homelessness in India is migration from rural to urban. Other reasons are disability, unemployment, lack of affordable housing.
  • Only 3% of the homeless people in India possessed an ID card.

World Agri-Tourism Day: May 16

Every year the World Agri-Tourism Day is celebrated on May 16. This year, on the fourteenth World Agri-Tourism Day, Government of Maharashtra, Agri-Tourism Development Corporation is to organise International Conference on Agri-Tourism.  In 2021, the day is to be celebrated under the following theme

Theme: Rural Women Sustainable Entrepreneurship Opportunities through Agri Tourism

Agri Tourism Development Corporation

  • It was established in 2005.
  • It mainly implements the Agri Tourism Project. The project is implemented in a village near Pune in about 28 acres.

What is Agri-Tourism?

In Agri-Tourism the urban tourists stay in farmers home. During their stay they engage in farming activities, tractor ride, bullock cart ride. Also, they enjoy folk songs and dances. They buy fresh farm produce.

In return, the farmers greet the tourists, provide accommodation and entertain them during their stay. This acts as an additional income for the farmers. Also, it employs the local youths as tourist guides. This way the programme provides employment opportunities as well.

Survey

The Agriculture Tourism Development Corporation survey says that around 0.56 million tourists visited the Agri-Tourism Centres. This increased to 0.61 million in 2019 and 0.78 million in 2020.

About the conference

This year, National and international stakeholders from South Africa, Scotland and Philippines are to participate in the conference. They are to discuss on agri-tourism, sustainable opportunities for women, etc.

Background

  • Maharashtra is the pioneer state to develop and promote agri-tourism in the country.
  • In September 2020, Maharashtra passed Agro-Tourism policy. This aims to provide the tourists the pleasure of farming and also help increase farmer income.

Punjab to join COVAX facility

The Punjab Government recently announced that it is to join COVAX facility in order to increase its COVID-19 supplies.

Why is Punjab joining COVAX facility?

There is a huge vaccine shortage in India. This is slowing the vaccination efforts of the country. Thus the State Government of Punjab is planning to join COVAX facility.

What is the issue in Punjab joining COVAX facility?

The COVAX facility has so far been operating only at the level of nations. The facility works to prevent vaccine nationalism. It aims to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines reach both low-income level and high-income level countries. It is not even clear if a State can join the facility.

The bigger view of the problem

  • Punjab is not eligible to get access to COVAX Facility. Above all, currently COVAX itself is struggling to get vaccine supplies.

Why did the problem arise?

  • This has come up mainly because India is administering only three vaccines currently. Of this, the administration of the Russian Sputnik V was recently begun. In this situation, there is a high shortage of vaccine in the country.
  • This is because the rich economies such as USA, UK, and the others in the European Union have made early bookings with vaccine developers. The US has spent 10 billion USD as advance payments to six manufacturers. Such moves were not initiated in India. Neither the State Government nor the Central Government made initiatives to make advance payments in buying vaccines.

Have any states received vaccines from COVAX?

So far, more than 59 million vaccine doses have been provided to 122 countries. However, there was no sub-national entity so far.

2DG- DRDO’s Anti-Covid Drug


The DRDO recently announced that the 2-DG drug is to be launched next week. The 2-DG was developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation for Emergency Use. 2-DG is 2-Deoxy – D – Glucose. It is to be provided as a supplementary. Around 10,000 doses are to be launched first. It was developed in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories had partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to conduct clinical trials of the Sputnik vaccine in India. It will soon distribute the Russian vaccine in the country.

About 2-DG drug

  • The drug ensures faster recovery of hospitalised patients and will reduce supplemental oxygen dependence during clinical trials.
  • It accumulates in infected cells and stops viral synthesis. This accumulation makes the drug unique.
  • The drug comes in a powdered form in sachets. It is consumed orally after dissolving in water.
  • It was developed by Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS). INMAS is a laboratory operating under DRDO.
  • The DGCI has granted permission for emergency use of the drug in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.
  • 2-DG is a generic molecule and thus can be easily produced and made available in plenty in the country.

How are 2-DG accumulated in the cells?

The 2-DG is a glucose molecule. It cannot undergo further glycolysis. Glycolysis is the process in which free energy is released. The 2-DG molecules are up taken by the glucose transporters of the cell. The glucose transporters are membrane proteins that facilitate the transport of glucose across plasma membrane. This is how the drug reaches the cells. As it cannot undergo glycolysis it simply stays in the cells. Continuous intake of the drug thus leads to accumulation in the cell.

2-DG as Tumour therapeutic

The cancer cells have higher glucose uptake. Thus, when 2-DG is injected into cancer patients, it acts as a good marker for cancer cells.

Mixing Covid-19 vaccines increase Vaccine Reactogenicity

The researchers in the University of Oxford recently launched “Com-COV Study “. The study was launched to investigate alternate doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine. The researchers have concluded that mixing the administration of these doses in a more frequent mild to moderate reactions will increase the reactogenicity of the vaccine.

What are the researchers saying?

If the doses of Pfizer-Biotech and Oxford-AstraZeneca are administered at a four-week interval, one after the other, the reactogenicity of the vaccine increases.

What is Reactogenicity?

Reactogenicity of the vaccines refer to the property of the vaccine to produce expected adverse reactions. This may be fever, redness or soreness or swelling at the site of the jab.

Inference from the study

  • Mixing doses might increase work absences the day after immunisation.
  • According to the study, at least 10% of the participants who got mixed doses reported severe fatigue as compared to that of 3% of those who were inoculated with one dose.

Why did vaccine mixing come up?

  • As there were vaccine shortages all over the world and supply chain issues, the scientists explored the idea of mixing and matching vaccines.
  • Also, the situations such as rare blood clots in Johnson and Johnson vaccines and Astra Zeneca vaccines are forcing people to have second thoughts of taking their second doses. They are therefore shifting to some other vaccine after taking the first dose of these.
  • The researchers believe that the mixing is done with the vaccines that share the same target. For instance, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca target spike protein.
  • Some researchers in the UK, believe that the efficiency of the vaccines increase when they are mixed up. This is because, two different vaccines are created based on two different methods. For instance, AstraZeneca uses Adeno virus found in Chimpanzees and on the other hand Pfizer mRNA vaccine delivers genetic instructions human cells. It directs them to make spike proteins and then teaches the human cells to kill them.

The mixed vaccine is called heterologous boost.

Mice Rain in Australia


The mice population in Australia has increased exponentially. The mice are causing extensive damages to the cultivated crop and stored food grains. This is being referred to as Mice Rain. Also, the plague in the country has increased.

Why is the situation called “Mice Rain”?

In some places, the mice are pouring out like a rain as the farmers are cleaning their silos. They  are running out every where. Recently, a video released in the social media showed mice pouring out of a machine while cleaning. Thus, the name “Mice Rain” came into practice. This huge population increase of mice is causing severe damages to the stored food grains.

What is happening?

  • The Australians are facing severe attack from millions of mice. The mice are destroying crops and stored cereals. They have even made their way into rural hospitals and bit patients.
  • Above all, a mouse plague is spreading across New South Wales.
  • Tonnes of grains are becoming contaminated with mice droppings.

Reasons for Mice Rain

According to the scientists, the rodents are the most successful mammals in the planet after humans. A pair of breeding mice can give birth to new litter every twenty days.

Is the Plague due to Mice Rain?

Plague is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by rod shaped bacteria called Yersinia pestis. It is found in animals such as rodents. As their population is increasing, the spread of the disease is also increasing. This means, Yes, the plague is increasing due to Mice rain.

  • In the 13th century, the disease killed millions of lives in the Europe and hence has got its name “Black Death”.
  • It is mainly caused by sneezing, consumption of contaminated food and water, touching a surface that is contaminated with Y Pestis. It also spreads through direct physical contact with the infected person.

When did the plague begin?

It began in mid March in the eastern Australian states. The Government of New South Wales recently extended a support package of 50 million USD to farmers to deal with the mouse plague affecting the farmers, residents. The Government has also authorised the outlawed poison called Bromadiolone. All these measures are being done to control the “Mice Rain” in the country.

Tianwen-1: Chinese Rover lands on Mars

On May 14, 2021, the Chinese Spacecraft Tianwen 1 landed on Mars successfully. It was launched in July 2020 on a Long March 5 rocket.

About the landing

  • Tianwen 1 has been orbiting Mars for three months now. The lander that carried the Zhurong rover touched down the Martian surface successfully.
  • It landed in the Utopia Planitia region.
  • However, when the lander entered the Martian atmosphere, the spacecraft endured “Seven Minutes of Terror” as that of the Mars Perseverance rover of NASA.

Utopia Planitia of Mars

  • It is a plain in the northern hemisphere of the planet. The region is mostly flat and smooth but has craters. Also, the region has Aeolian ridges. Aeolian means wind sculpted.
  • Scientists have observed that the region is covered by mud flows. Some even believe that groundwater may have existed long back.

What is the Seven Minutes Terror faced by the landers?

The EDL phase, called the Entry Descent Landing is called the “Seven Minutes Terror” phase. The phase happens faster than the time taken by the radio signals to reach the Earth from Mars. This means that the spacecraft is on its own during this phase and is thus called the “”seven minutes of terror. The phase begins as the lander enters the Martian atmosphere and thus the name of the phase is prefixed with ‘Entry’.

The EDL phase ends when the rocket powered sky crane lowers the lander safely to the martian surface. During this seven minutes several crucial things occur.

Zhurong rover

It is to investigate surface soil characteristics and potential water ice distribution.

Maratha Quota Issue: Centre file Case in SC

The Government of India recently filed a review petition in the Supreme Court over its judgement on Maratha reservation in the State of Maharashtra. The Supreme Court had pronounced that the Maratha reservation under the Maharashtra law breaches the 50% ceiling of reservation. Thus, the apex court struck down the Maharashtra law.

What is the Central Government saying?

According to Government of India, only the Union Government has the power under the 102nd Constitutional Amendment to identify and list the socially and economically backward classes.

What is the State Government saying?

The population of the backward classes in Maharashtra constitutes to 85% of the state’s population. However, the reservation limit is only 50%. Thus, the socially and economically backward communities should be provided reservation.

102nd Constitutional Amendment

The amendment inserted Article 338B and Article 342A in the Constitution.

Article 338B: The amendment provided constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.

Article 342A: It gives the President powers to notify backward classes.

Supreme Court Judgement

After the amendment was passed, several state governments filed cases in the Supreme Court. This was because, the State Government had lost its power to identify the backward classes under the amendment.

To this the Supreme Court interpreted the amendment in its verdict as follows:

  • Only the president is empowered to identify the Socially and Economically Backward Classes.
  • The States can only make recommendations.

What is the issue?

The recent striking of Maharashtra law contradicts the SC verdict pronounced earlier.

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