Current Affairs Analysis

14th April 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Who is a Nihang?; Suggestion for creating guideline for institutionalising online access to justice; Floor test; Trust vote;Sovereign Gold Bond; About CollabCAD; How does COVID-19 infect someone? Suggestions for involvement of Private Sectors in battel against COVID-19; India Child Protection Fund; Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF); Baisakhi; Rongali Bihu; Poila Boishakh; Mahabishuva Sankranti; Puthandu; Vishu; Bikhoti; Jurshital; Aadi Perukku; How can supercomputers help in the fight against the novel coronavirus? B.R. Ambedkar; Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary; Virosome; Wormivet; Primordial Black Holes
By IASToppers
April 14, 2020

Contents

 

Polity & Governance

  • Accessing justice online
  • Floor test is Governor’s discretion: SC

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21
  • MGNREGA jobs crash to 1% of normal

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Launch of CollabCAD in ATL schools
  • How coronavirus attacks, step by step
  • Private sector has a key role in the battle

Social Issues

  • Online child porn traffic rises by 95%

Economy

  • Will mandates change fate of distributed renewables post COVID-19? 

Bilateral & International Relations

  • IUSSTF boosts Indo-US virtual networks to address COVID 19 challenges

Art & Culture

  • Spring Harvest Festivals in India
  • The Nihangs

Science & Technology

  • Supercomputers for preventing Covid-19

Persons in News

  • President’s greetings on the eve of Birth Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Virosome
  • Wormivet
  • Primordial Black Holes (PBH)

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Polity & Governance

Accessing justice online

With Indian courts too under a lockdown, citizens have severely restricted access to justice for this period. However, despite the inability of the conventional court system to deliver timely justice, Technology now provides us an opportunity to meet the challenge headlong.

  • The Kerala High Court on March 30, 2020 created history by not only conducting proceedings through video conferencing but also live streaming the proceedings.

Suggestion for creating guideline for institutionalising online access to justice

Creating a Task Force

The government must establish an effective task force consisting of judges, technologists, court administrators, skill developers and system analysts to draw up a blueprint for institutionalising online access to justice.

Such a task force must be charged with the responsibility of

  • establishing hardware, software and IT systems for courts;
  • examining application of artificial intelligence benefiting from the data base generated through e-courts projects;
  • establishing appropriate e-filing systems and procedures; and
  • creating skill training and recognition for paralegals to understand and to help advocates to access the system to file their cases

Once the blueprint is ready, the High Courts across the country may refer the same to the Rule Committee of the High Court to frame appropriate rules to operationalise the e-court system.

Awareness Generation through Legal Services Authorities Act

  • The Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 and the officers functioning under them can play a huge role in spreading awareness about various judicial schemes of government.
  • If there is difficulty in accessing these schemes, a system must be set in place for the applicant to lodge online complaints with the Legal Services Authorities who can then ensure effective implementation.
  • The local panchayat, municipal or corporation office, or any well-intentioned NGO can assist the complainant to make these online complaints to the Legal Services Authority if the complainant is unable to do so directly.
  • The officers under the Legal Services Authorities Act may then be authorised to hear the complaints online and to direct delivery of redress to the aggrieved complainant in accordance with the law in a time-bound manner.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Floor test is Governor’s discretion: SC

A Governor can call for a floor test any time he objectively feels a government in power has lost the confidence of the House and is on shaky ground, the Supreme Court held recently.

What is a floor test?

  • A floor test is a motion through which the government of the day seeks to know whether it still enjoys the confidence of legislature.
  • In this procedure, a CM appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • The chief minister has to move a vote of confidence and win a majority among those present and voting. If the confidence motion fails to pass, the chief minister has to resign. The idea behind a floor test is to ensure transparency in the constitutional process.

Trust vote

  • A ‘trust vote’ or confidence motion has to be moved by an MLA or an MP, and the objective is to find out whether or not the Chief Minister has the ‘trust’ or ‘confidence’ of the House.

What did the Supreme Court said?

  • It said “The idea underlying the trust vote is to uphold the political accountability of the elected government to the State legislature.
  • With this, court has made it clear that a Governor’s power to call for a floor test is not restricted only before the inception of a State government immediately after elections, but would continue throughout its five-year term.
  • The court clarified that the Governor’s requirement to have a trust vote does not “short-circuit” any disqualification proceedings pending before the Speaker.
  • It said a “Governor need not wait for the Speaker’s decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs before calling for a trust vote in the House.”
[Ref: The Hindu]

Government Schemes & Policies

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21

The Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds.

What is Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB)?

  • SGBs are government securities denominated in grams of gold.
  • They are substitutes for holding physical gold. Investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity.
  • The Bond is issued by Reserve Bank on behalf of Government of India.

About Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme

  • The SGB Scheme was notified by the Government of India on November 05, 2015 after due approval of the Cabinet.
  • The main objective of the scheme was to develop a financial asset as an alternative to purchasing metal gold.

Features

  • Eligibility: The bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable institutions.
  • Denomination: The bonds will be denominated in units of one gram of gold and multiples thereof.
  • Minimum size: Minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.
  • Maximum limit: 4 kg for individuals, 4 kg for Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) and 20 kg for trusts and similar entities notified by the government from time to time
  • Interest rate: The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 % per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value. The interest on Sovereign Gold Bonds is taxable as per the IT Act, 1961.
  • Tenor:  8 years with an exit option from 5th year onwards to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
  • Redemption: Redemption price shall be fixed in Indian Rupees and the redemption price shall be based on simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity of previous 3 business days from the date of repayment, published by the India Bullion and Jewelers Association Limited.
  • Sales Channel: The government sells bonds through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), and selected post offices as may be informed.
[Ref: PIB, Business Today]

MGNREGA jobs crash to 1% of normal

Employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has collapsed to just over 1% of the usual rate this month due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • The scheme, which guarantees 100 days of work per year at an average daily wage of ₹209, is key to providing livelihoods to poor villagers and is a backbone of the rural economy in difficult times.

Key Details

  • Less than 1.9 lakh families have been provided work under the scheme so far in April 2020, in comparison to almost 1.6 crore households which were provided work in March, and the 1.8 crore households in February before the lockdown began.
  • Chhattisgarh was the highest employment generator under the scheme in April (70,000 families), followed by Andhra Pradesh (53,000 households). However, these figures are a fraction of the usual employment provided in these States, and also raise concerns about COVID-19 infection being spread at worksites.
  • Overall, 7.6 crore families hold active job cards under the scheme, and almost 5.5 crore families found work under the scheme in 2019.
  • The crash in employment rates under the scheme is despite the fact that migrant workers returning to villages should have increased demand in rural areas.
  • While announcing the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana relief package last month, Union Finance Minister said MGNREGA daily wages would be increased by ₹20.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Issues related to Health & Education

Launch of CollabCAD in ATL schools

To provide students experience in creating and modifying 3D designs, CollabCAD is launced in ATL schools.

About CollabCAD

  • Launched by: Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and National Informatics Centre (NIC).
  • It is a part of ‘Tinker from Home’ campaign of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM).
  • It is a collaborative network, computer enabled software system, providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design.
  • The aim of this initiative is to provide a great platform to students of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) to create and modify 3d designs with free flow of creativity and imagination.
  • This software would also enable students to create data across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.

Key Facts

  • In light of the COVID-19, the ATL program has launched a ‘Tinker from Home’ campaign to harness the creativity and innovativeness of children by encouraging learning through self-initiation.
  • AIM also launched the Game Development module in partnership with DELL Technologies and Learning Links Foundation. It is an online platform where students can learn to create their own games and also share it with others.
[Ref: PIB]

How coronavirus attacks, step by step

In the search for a treatment for COVID-19 disease, researchers have been targeting specific behaviours of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) that causes the disease.

How does COVID-19 infect someone?

  • It begins with the “spike” that gives coronaviruses their name. A coronavirus is surrounded by a fatty outer layer (“envelope”) and on the surface of this layer is the “corona” (crown) of spikes made of protein.
  • Once inside, the virus replicates itself by using the cell’s molecular mechanism. All these stages involve various interactions between virus proteins and human proteins. Any treatment being developed will look to inhibit these activities at one stage or the other.

Which treatment specifically tries to inhibit which activity?

  • The Solidarity trials, a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative that includes India, are investigating four lines of treatment using existing drugs.

The Solidarity experiments are trying to find out if virus activity can be inhibited:

At reception stage:

  • This is the target of trials with a combination of anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. It was that found chloroquine prevented that virus’s ability to attach itself to the ACE2 receptors.
  • However, because chloroquine causes severe side effects, the current trials are being done with a combination with its less toxic derivative hydroxychloroquine.

At cell entry stage:

  • Many viruses enter a cell by acidifying compartments within the membrane at the cell surface, and then breaching the membrane itself.
  • When chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine enter the compartment, it loses part of its acidity; the aim of the trials is to hinder the virus at this stage.

At replication stage:

  • A number of trials are looking at obstructing replication at a key step during which the virus uses enzymes to break down proteins, leading to a chain of new viruses.
  • The drug lopinavir has been known to inhibit the enzyme used by HIV to split proteins, but because lopinavir itself tends to break down in the human body, it is used in combination with ritonavir, which allows it to last longer.
  • One set of Solidarity trials is looking at this combination of anti-HIV drugs, and another is investigating lopinavir-ritonavir combined with interferon-beta, a molecule that regulates inflammation in the body.
  • The Solidarity trials with the drug remdesivir, originally created to fight the Ebola virus, will seek to inhibit the novel coronavirus by targeting the action of a key enzyme that facilitates its replication.

What are other studies looking at?

Some studies are looking at the structure of the virus and its behaviour as a potential target for future drugs.

Structure:

  • Antibodies can recognise the spike protein, bind to it, and mark it as a target for immune cells. However, the virus also has a sugar coat that hides parts of its spike proteins from the immune cells.
  • Therefore, the researchers are analysing the sugar shield, and trying to calculate how the spike proteins move on the surface of the virus and how they change their shape.

Behaviour:

  • Researchers from Italy mapped the interactions between virus proteins and human proteins. When the virus attacks, the body responds by activating certain proteins and deactivating others to hinder it.
  • At the same time, the body has other mechanisms that the virus exploits. These were what the researchers mapped, identifying specific proteins.

Beyond the Solidarity trials, are there studies on specific drugs?

  • Recently, an international collaboration led by researchers at ShanghaiTech University reported six possible drug candidates. The project targeted SARS-CoV2’s main enzyme for splitting proteins, Mpro, which plays a key role in mediating viral replication. Researchers added drugs directly to the enzyme or to cell cultures growing the virus, assessing how much of each compound is required to stop the enzyme.

 

[Ref: Indian Express]

Private sector has a key role in the battle

According to the World Health Organization, a critical lesson from the 2014-16 West African Ebola crisis is that both the public and private sectors need to work in tandem in responding to large-scale epidemics.

Suggestions for involvement of Private Sectors in battel against COVID-19

Creation of a large and accessible testing infrastructure

  • Countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Germany and Japan have been successful in controlling its spread and reducing mortality through early detection and quick containment.
  • This has been possible only through widespread testing. India has opened testing up to private labs and payment for testing is covered under the ABPM-JAY as well.
  • There is need to substantially expand testing capacity, which is not possible without the active participation of the private sector.

Increase in quarantine units, isolation wards and ICU ward

  • The numbers of quarantine units, isolation wards and intensive care unit (ICU) beds in dedicated Covid-19 hospitals have to be rapidly increased.
  • It will also need to ensure increased and continued supply of essential medical products, from testing kits, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) items to oxygen and ventilators.
  • According to a recent Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)  study, around 5% of those infected will need intensive care and half of those in ICUs will need mechanical ventilation.
  • Private hospitals with adequate infrastructure will need to be converted into dedicated Covid-19 hospitals. This process will, of course, have to be steered by the government through a clear policy framework of designated hospitals and an appropriate payment system. The experience of purchasing health care services through the ABPM-JAY can be the template.
  • Some private hospitals can help in managing the treatment of non-Covid-19 patients. With many government facilities being converted into dedicated Covid-19 hospitals, a large number of non-Covid-19 patients will need facilities and providers to take care of their health care needs.

Prevent health care workers from getting infected

  • Ensuring the protection of doctors, nurses, paramedics, lab technicians and other health care facility staff from infection is of paramount importance.
  • Companies manufacturing essential medical products such as ventilators, masks and sterilisation equipment will need to crank up their production lines.

Support the large ecosystem that drives the health system

  • The private sector will need to vigorously support the large ecosystem that drives the health system, as the lockdown and ongoing epidemic restrict movement and normal economic activities. Support for community activities such as night shelters and community kitchens must be strengthened.

Collaboration

  • Government, private and not-for-profit research institutions need to collaborate to understand the nature of transmission of the virus, the factors that helps to slow down its spread, the most at-risk communities, or the optimal quarantine period.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Social Issues

Online child porn traffic rises by 95%

Consumption of child pornography after the lockdown in the country has gone up by 95% with online data monitoring websites showing an increase in demand for such searches.

Details:

  • In a survey conducted on demand for child pornography in 100 cities, the India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) found that on an average there were 5 million downloads per month. It also pointed out there was an increase in demand for violent content involving children.
  • As children spend more time online during the lockdown, international agencies like Europol, the United Nations and ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) have reported that paedophiles and child pornography addicts have increased activity to target children to lure them to perform sexual activities through photos and videos.

About India Child Protection Fund (ICPF)

  • The ICPF was set up in January 2020 and aims to support NGOs with funding resources for curbing exploitation of children.
  • The fund is managed by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s son, Bhuwan Ribhu.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

Will mandates change fate of distributed renewables post COVID-19? 

The worry of Distributed renewable energy (DRE), a part of the sector which includes solar rooftop, open-access solar and solar water pumps, has been aggravated by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

  • The combined installation under the segment is less than 10 gigawatt (GW). The SRT segment is faltering at about 5 GW of capacity, despite a target of 40 GW installation by 2022.

Among the measures taken by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on DRE include:

  • Improving consistency of policy and regulations: The Centre will issue an advisory to all states on solar rooftop (SRT) project targets. It will also propagate ideas of good business models to different states. Further, ‘must-run’ status is extended to SRTs and open-access projects.
  • Providing financial stimulus: MNRE will talk to states about open-access banking facilities and take suggestions of industry leaders. A six-month moratorium to the stressed RE sector on principal and interest will be granted to ensure working capital availability.
  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA): is considering facilitating working capital to the sector. MNRE is contemplating to develop a loan facility for SRT adoption in India through the World Bank and State Bank of India.
  • Increasing demand through RPOs: Ministry will come up with an ordinance to mandate Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs) for discoms and project a trajectory till 2030, which will be subject to penalties. This will create demand and will force states to come with suitable policies.
  • Mandates for government buildings: Cabinet note for directions to central government buildings to install SRT (estimated potential is about 5,600 megawatt; as of now installations are only 400-500 MW).
  • Exchange oriented market (EOM): Centre is planning to open EOMs to facilitate open-access.
  • Manufacturing policy: Basic Custom Duty will be imposed on all raw materials used in the RE industry.DRE developers will be encouraged to manufacture some of these raw materials.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Bilateral & International Relations

IUSSTF boosts Indo-US virtual networks to address COVID 19 challenges

The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) has invited Proposals for ‘COVID-19 Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks’ that would allow Indian and U.S. scientists currently engaged in COVID-related research to carry out joint research through a virtual mechanism.

About Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF)

  • The IUSSTF, established under an agreement between India and USA in March 2000, is a bilateral organization jointly funded by both the Governments.
  • It promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia, and industry.
  • The Department of Science and Technology, Governments of India, and the U.S. Department of State are respective nodal departments.
[Ref: PIB]

Art & Culture

Spring Harvest Festivals in India

The President of India greeted people on the occasion of Vaisakhi, Vishu, Rongali Bihu, Naba Barsha, Vaisakhadi, Puthandu, Pirappu, which are being celebrated in different parts of the country on 13th and 14th April, 2020.

About various Spring Harvest festivals

Baisakhi: 

  • Also known as Vaisakhi, it is celebrated in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
  • It is a spring harvest festival for the Sikhs.
  • Baisakhi also commemorates the formation of Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Rongali Bihu: 

  • Assam celebrates Bihu thrice in a year but Rongali Bihu is the biggest and most popular.
  • Rongali or the Bohag (spring) Bihu starts on the last day of the Assamese calendar month of Chot, which normally falls on April 13 or 14 annually.

Poila Boishakh: 

  • Also known as Pahela Baishakh or Bangla Nababarsha, it is the first day of Bengali Calendar.

Mahabishuva Sankranti: 

  • On the same day, Odisha celebrates Mahabisuha Sankranti, better known as Pana Sankranti.

Puthandu: 

  • Puthandu in Tamil Nadu marks the first day of the Tamil New Year.

Vishu: 

  • Vishu in Kerala marks the completion of the spring equinox. But unlike Onam, the other harvest festival, Vishu is a quieter affair, with Lord Vishnu in his Krishna avatar, the presiding deity of the festivities. Malayalis observe the ritual of ‘Vishukanni’.

Bikhoti: 

  • The Bikhoti Festival of Uttrakhand involves people taking a dip in holy rivers.

Jurshital: 

  • In the Mithal region of Bihar and Nepal, the New Year is celebrated as Jurshital.

Aadi Perukku

  • Commonly known as the Aadi monsoon festival, it is a Tamil festival celebrated to pay tribute to water’s life-sustaining properties.
[Ref: PIB]

The Nihangs

The Patiala incident in which a group of Nihangs attacked a Punjab police party and chopped off the hand of an assistant sub-inspector has put the spotlight on the Nihangs.

Who is a Nihang?

  • Nihang is an order of Sikh warriors, characterised by blue robes, antiquated arms such as swords and spears, and decorated turbans surmounted by steel quoits.
  • Etymologically the word nihang in Persian means an alligator, sword and pen but the characteristics of Nihangs seem to stem more from the Sanskrit word nihshank which means without fear, and indifferent to worldly gains and comfort.

When was the order formed?

  • It can be traced back to the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. The word nihang, also occurs in a hymn in the Guru Granth Sahib, where it alludes to a fearless and unrestrained person.
  • However, there are some sources which trace their origin to Guru Gobind Singh’s younger son, Fateh Singh (1699-1705), who once appeared in the Guru’s presence dressed in a blue chola and blue turban with a dumala (piece of cloth forming a plume). On seeing his son look so majestic, the Guru remarked that it shall be the dress of Nihangs.

How were Nihangs different from other Sikhs, and other Sikh warriors?

  • As per an account by the East India Company’s Colonel James Skinner (1778-1841), Khalsa Sikhs were divided into two groups: Those who put on blue attire which Guru Gobind Singh used to wear at the time of battle and those who “do not follow any restrictions on the colour of their dress.
  • Nihangs observe the Khalsa code of conduct in its strictest sense. They do not profess any allegiance to an earthly master. Instead of saffron, they hoist a blue Nishan Sahib (flag) atop their shrines.
  • Nihangs use the slogans ‘chhardi kala’ (forever in high spirits) and ‘tiar bar tiar’ (state of ever preparedness) for unforeseen events.
  • The Nihangs are fond of a popular drink called shardai or sharbati degh (sacrament drink). When a small measure of cannabis is added to it, it is termed sukhnidhan (treasure of comfort). A higher dose of cannabis in it was known as shaheedi deg. It was taken while battling enemies.

What is their role in Sikh history?

  • Nihangs had a major role in defending the Sikh panth after the fall of the first Sikh rule (1710-15) when Mughal governors were killing Sikhs, and during the onslaught of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Durrani (1748-65).
  • When the Khalsa army was divided into five battalions in 1734, one Nihang or Akali battalion was led by Baba Deep Singh Shahid.
  • Nihangs also took control of the religious affairs of the Sikhs at Akal Bunga (now known as Akal Takht) in Amritsar. They did not consider themselves subordinate to any Sikh chief and thus maintained their independent existence. At Akal Takht, they held the grand council (Sarbat Khalsa) of Sikhs and pronounced the resolution (Gurmata) passed.
  • Their clout came to an end after the fall of Sikh Empire in 1849 when the British authorities of Punjab appointed a manager (sarbrah) for the administration of the Golden Temple in 1859.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Science & Technology

Supercomputers for preventing Covid-19

These supercomputers can help in developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, by identifying the virus proteins that can help create immunity among humans.

How can supercomputers help in the fight against the novel coronavirus?

  • As COVID-19 cases have been mounting the world over, an abundance of data is being made available to researchers, which supercomputers are using for modelling and analysis.
  • To help find a drug that could work against the novel coronavirus, supercomputers are being employed to look through databases of existing drug compounds. 
  • The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has spikes on its surface, which it uses to invade cells in the human body. Supercomputers are looking for antiviral drugs that could potentially bind with those spikes, thus inhibiting the virus from infecting humans.
  • These computers can also help in developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, by identifying the virus proteins that can help create immunity among humans.
  • The other ways in which supercomputers are helping include studying the structure and origin of the novel coronavirus, analysing the spread of the virus in a population, as well as how it interacts with cells in the human body.

Where are supercomputers being used?

USA

  • In the US, a massive public-private effort called the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium has been launched, consisting industry players such as IBM, Google etc. The consortium provides scientists access to some of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources in support of COVID-19 research.

Japan

  • In Japan, the government and the country’s top research laboratory will be using the Fugaku supercomputer, a successor to the ‘K’ computer– which in the past was known to have the highest calculation speed in the world.

China

  • The Tianhe-1 supercomputer in China has been using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to diagnose COVID-19 patients from chest scans.

India

  • In India, the government owned Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has announced that it would collaborate with laboratories for performing drug repurposing simulations required towards the discovery of a new drug for COVID-19.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Persons in News

President’s greetings on the eve of Birth Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

The President of India greeted fellow-citizens on the eve of the 129th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

The President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind addressing the gathering after releasing the book titled ‘Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Vyakti Nahin Sankalp’, edited by Shri Kishor Makwana, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on April 14, 2018.

About Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

  • He was born in 1891 at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh.
  • He had to face severe discriminations from every corner of the society as his parents hailed from the Hindu Mahar caste. Mahar cast was viewed as “untouchable” by the upper class.
  • After coming back from US, Ambedkar was appointed as the Defence secretary to the King of Baroda, where he again faced discrimination.
  • In wake of reaching to the people and making them understand the drawbacks of the prevailing social evils, he launched a newspaper called “Mooknayaka” (leader of the silent) with the help of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Maharaja of Kolhapur.
  • He was elected as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly. He is called as the father of the Indian Constitution.
  • Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was the first organization formed by him in 1924.
  • He was appointed to the Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the Simon Commission in 1925.
  • He was invited to attend the Second Round Table Conference in London in 1932 but Mahatma Gandhi was opposed to a separate electorate for untouchables as this would split the nation.
  • By 1927, he decided to launch active movements against untouchability and espousing access to public drinking water resources and the right to enter Hindu temples. He led a satyagraha in Mahad to fight for the right of the untouchable community to draw water from the main water tank of the town.
  • In 1932, the British announced a Communal Award of a separate electorate. Gandhi ji protested by fasting. This resulted in an agreement known as the Poona Pact in which Gandhi ji ended his fast and Babasaheb dropped his demand for a separate electorate.
  • In 1936, he founded the Independent Labour Party. During this period, He wrote extensively on the condition of Dalits and the caste system in Hindu society. He also renamed his party as the Scheduled Castes Federation which later evolved into the Republican Party of India.
  • He was appointed as the first Law Minister of Independent India, but he resigned from the Cabinet on September 1951 due to differences with Nehru on the Hindu Code Bill.
  • He got himself converted to Buddhism in 1956.

Some of his famous books are:

  • ‘The Untouchable: Who are They and Why They Have Become Untouchables’
  • ‘Buddha and His Dhamma’
  • ‘The Rise and Fall of Hindu Women’
  • ‘Emancipation of Untouchables’
  • ‘The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India’
  • ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’
  • ‘Thoughts on Linguistic States’, etc.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Located in Kerala, it is bounded by protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the northeast, and on the southeast by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.
  • It is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
  • It was from this sanctuary that Pazhassi Raja fought valiantly against the British.
  • Established in 1973, it is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala State.
  • It comes under the Project Elephant jurisdiction, 1992 to protect wild elephant populations.
  • The flora in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary have the typical South Indian moist deciduous forests and West Coast semi-evergreen forests and plantations of teak, eucalyptus and oak.
  • It has 4 forest ranges: Muthanga, Tholpetty, Kurichyad and Sulthan Bathery.

Virosome

  • Virosomes are enveloped virus like particles.
  • They are lipid-based carriers (envelopes) containing the functional fusion viral proteins and natural membrane proteins of the natural virus.
  • These lipid-based viral envelopes can be combined with additional rationally designed antigens and adjuvants for each specifics vaccine or immunotherapies.
  • Virosomes based vaccines are designed to maintain the immunogenicity of a live-attenuated virus but with the safety of a killed virus.
  • The virosomes are devoid of the nucleocapsid and without the genetic material of the source virus, they are unable to replicate, cause an infection or a disease.

Wormivet

  • It is an indigenous herbal medication (dewormer).
  • It was recently brought out by National Innovation Foundation India (NIF) in form of commercial product for livestock owners as an alternate to chemical method of treatment of worm.

Primordial Black Holes (PBH)

  • PBH were formed during the Hot Big Bang phase.
  • It is believed that they are formed as a result of collapsing radiations as opposed to the collapse of massive stars, which is the case of any other black holes.
  • PBH can be massively large as 3000kms or be extremely tiny like nucleus of an atom.

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