News: The World Health Organization(WHO) has declared that Togo has become the first country in Africa to eliminate human African Trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness.
- Sleeping Sickness or Human African trypanosomiasis: It is a vector-borne parasitic disease.
- Caused by: It is caused by infection with protozoan parasites belonging to the genus Trypanosoma.
- Transmission: They are transmitted to humans by tsetse fly (Glossina genus) bites which have acquired their infection from human beings or from animals harbouring human pathogenic parasites.
- Endemic: The disease is currently found in 36 sub-Saharan African countries.According to WHO, If untreated, the disease can become fatal.
- Togo: It is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north.The country extends south to the Gulf of Guinea where its capital Lomé is located.
News: German government has said that Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny has been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
- Novichok: The name Novichok means “newcomer” in Russian and applies to a group of advanced nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.
- How was it developed? Novichok was developed under a Soviet programme codenamed Foliant.It can be delivered as a liquid, powder or aerosol and is said to be more lethal than nerve agents that are better known in the West, like VX and sarin.
- How does it work? The poison causes muscle spasms that can stop the heart, fluid buildup in the lungs that can also be deadly and damage to other organs and nerve cells.
- Is this chemical banned? Russia is believed to have never declared Novichok or its ingredients to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW) which oversees a treaty banning their use.
- OPCW: It is the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention(1997).It has 193 members including India.
- Aim: To promote and verify the adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention which prohibits the use of chemical weapons and requires their destruction.
- Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands.
- Significance: The organisation was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
News: World Wildlife Fund(WWF), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), EAT and Climate Focus has released a report titled “Enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Food Systems”.
- Aim: To help policymakers adopt food systems solutions and set more ambitious targets and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius which will in turn improve biodiversity, food security and public health.
- WWF: It is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Headquarters:Gland, Switzerland.
- Climate Focus: It is a pioneering international advisory company committed to the development of policies, methodologies, programmes and projects that mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- EAT: It is a non-profit startup dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.
- Paris agreement: It was adopted at the UNFCCC COP21 held in Paris in 2015.It aims to keep global temperature rise in the 21st century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
News: India has attended a Senior Officials Meeting(SOM) of BIMSTEC under the chairmanship of Sri Lanka to discuss ways to deepen cooperation among the member nations and holding of the next summit of the grouping.
- Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC): It is a regional organization founded in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- Aim: To create an enabling environment for economic development; accelerate social progress and promote collaboration on matters of common interest in the region.
- Members: It comprises seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
- Headquarters: Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- First Summit: The First Summit Meeting of the Heads of the BIMSTEC Countries was held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2004.
- The Fourth Summit was held in Kathmandu,Nepal in 2018.
News: Indian Prime minister has delivered a special keynote address at the US-India 2020 Summit.
- US-India 2020 Summit: The summit was organized by the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum(USISPF).
- Aim: To focus on key areas of India-US bilateral cooperation including strategic energy ties, trade and investment, healthcare, collaboration in fintech, technology and India’s position in the global supply chain.
- Theme: US-India: Navigating New Challenges.
- USISPF: It is a non-profit organization established in 2017.
- Objective: To strengthen India-US bilateral and strategic partnership through policy advocacy in the fields of economic growth, entrepreneurship, employment-creation and innovation.
News: Government of India has launched eight immunity boosting nutraceutical products under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana(PMBJP), which will be sold through Janaushadhi Kendras across the country.
- Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana(PMBJP): It was launched in 2008 by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
- Aim: To bring down the healthcare budget of citizens of India by providing generic quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.
- Implementation: Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency.
- Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India(BPPI): It was established in 2008 under the Department of Pharmaceuticals,Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.It got registered as an independent society in 2010 under the Societies Registration Act,1860.
News: The Times Higher Education has announced the results of World University Rankings,2021.
- About the Rankings: The ranking includes more than 1,500 universities across 93 countries and regions making them the largest and most diverse university rankings to date.
- Parameters: The universities were ranked based on 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators that measure an institution’s performance across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
- Topped by: Oxford University(U.K) has topped the ranking followed by Stanford University(U.S) and Harvard University(U.S).
- China’s Tsinghua University becomes the first Asian university to break into the top 20.
- India: A total of 63 universities from India qualified for the ranking, however none could make it to the top 300.
- Indian Institute of Science(IISc),Bengaluru has been placed in the 301-350 category in overall global rankings.On the other hand,IIT Ropar has been placed in the 351-400 bracket.
News: Government of India has decided to cap export incentives under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme(MEIS) at Rs.2 crore per exporter on outbound shipments made during September-December, 2020.
- Merchandise Exports From India Scheme(MEIS): It was introduced in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20.
- Objective: To offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in exporting goods which are manufactured in India including products manufactured by the MSME Sector.
- The Government of India has announced a new WTO-compliant scheme called Remission of Duties or Taxes On Export Product (RoDTEP) which will replace MEIS scheme starting 1 January, 2021.
- Remission of Duties or Taxes On Export Product (RoDTEP): The scheme aims to reimburse taxes/ duties/ levies at the central, state and local level which are currently not being refunded under any other mechanism, but which are incurred in the process of manufacture and distribution of exported products.
- Finance ministry has set up a committee under the chairmanship of former commerce secretary GK Pillai to finalise the rates under RoDTEP that will allow reimbursement of all embedded taxes including local levies paid on inputs by exporters.
News: Billions of years ago, collision between two black holes sent gravitational waves rippling through the universe.In 2019,signals from these waves were detected at the gravitational wave observatory LIGO (United States) and the detector Virgo(Italy).
- GW190521: It is a gravitational wave signal resulting from the merger of two black holes near a third supermassive black hole.The event was observed by the LIGO and Virgo detectors on 21st May,2019.
- Researchers say that the single entity produced from the colliding of two black holes has a mass 142 times that of our Sun.
- Gravitational waves: These are ‘ripples’ in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe.They are formed when a star explodes in a supernova; when two big stars orbit each other; and when two black holes merge.
- Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.In 2015, the first gravitational wave was detected — by LIGO.
- Black Hole: It is a region of space where matter has collapsed in on itself.The gravitational pull is so strong that nothing not even light can escape
- Black holes emerge from the explosive demise of certain large stars.But some are truly gargantuan and are billions of times the mass of our Sun.They are detected from the way they influence their surroundings.They produce observable gravitational waves as they spiral into each other.
- Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory(LIGO): It is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.
- Locations: Hanford Site, Washington(US) and Livingston, Louisiana(US).
- Virgo interferometer: It is a large interferometer designed to detect gravitational waves.It is a part of a scientific collaboration of laboratories from six countries: Italy and France, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary and Spain.
- Location:Santo Stefano a Macerata, near the city of Pisa, Italy.
News: The UN Security Council blocked an attempt by Pakistan to list two Indians under a UN Security Council regime targeting international terrorism.
- UNSC 1267 Committee: It was established as a result of resolution 1267 (in 1999).It is also known as the Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
- Composition: The Committee comprises all 15 members of the UNSC which makes its decision by consensus.
- Mandate: The Committee is mandated to:
- oversee the implementation of the sanctions measures
- designate individuals and entities who meet the listing criteria set out in the relevant resolutions among others.
- Sanction measures: If an individual or an organisation is included in the list, it leads to:
- countries to freeze the targeted groups or individual’s assets
- ban designated individuals from travelling and
- prevent the supply of weapons, technology and other aid.
- Process by which people are listed under UNSC 1267:
- Any member state can submit a proposal for listing an individual, group, or entity.
- The 1267 Committee, which comprises all permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC, meets as required with a notice of four working days.
- Decisions on listing and de-listing are adopted by consensus.
The UN Security Council
- It was established by the UN Charter in 1945.It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.
- The other 5 organs of the United Nations are—the General Assembly, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat.
- The primary responsibility of UNSC is to work to maintain international peace and security.
- The Council consists of ten elected members and five permanent members who have veto power (P-5) – China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia.
- The ten non-permanent members are elected on a regional basis by the General Assembly, (from five areas- five from Asia and Africa, one from Eastern Europe, two from Latin America, two from Western Europe) to serve two-year terms.
- The council’s presidency is a capacity that rotates every month among its 15 members.
News: India proposed development of voluntary ‘G-20 Principles on Coordinated Cross-Border Movement of People’ at the virtual G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia.
- ‘G20 Principles on Coordinated Cross-Border Movement of People’ will have three elements:
- Standardisation of testing procedures and universal acceptability of test results;
- Standardisation of ‘Quarantine procedures;
- Standardisation of ‘movement and transit’ protocols.
- It is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
- It was initially founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis. However after the 2008 Financial Crisis, the meeting has been held annually since 2010.
News: Indian Prime Minister delivered his keynote address at the third leadership summit of the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF)
- The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is a non-profit organization that works for the partnership between India and the U.S.
- The Theme of the 3rd Summit is “US-India Navigating New Challenges”. It covers various subjects such as India’s potential in becoming a global manufacturing hub, opportunities in India’s gas market, ease of doing business to attract FDI in India, common and challenges in tech space, Indo-Pacific economic issues, innovation in public health.