27 Mar, 2020
44 Min Read
|GS-II||International efforts to Fight Coronavirus|
|GS-III||Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus||Economic Issues|
|Humanoid robot and application|
|Pandemics of the world|
|PT Pointer||Laser Surface Micro-Texturing|
|107th Indian Science Congress|
International efforts to Fight Coronavirus
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR
I. Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, G20 summit was held through video conferencing, recently.
COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
International Monetary Fund
II. The UNICEF recently appealed to the governments worldwide to not to ignore life-saving health interventions such as immunisation in their efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) (PT SHOT)
III. US’s historic $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package
What does the US’s $2 trillion package aim to do?
Quarantine orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of the US have caused a serious downturn in the country’s economy.
Main provisions of the $2 trillion package
1.Individuals and Families
Jai Hind Jai Bharat
Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Health
I. Recently, the Government has developed a platform which will host webinars by All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) doctors for healthcare workers across the country.
Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana
All India Institutes of Medical Sciences
II. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited manufacturers to supply 5 lakh antibody kits for diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.
Indian Council of Medical Research
III. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a ventilator and plans to produce 5,000 of them per month to treat COVID-19 patients.
Defence Research and Development Organisation
Society for Biomedical Technology
It is an inter-ministerial initiative of the Government of India established to promote healthcare by providing indigenous solutions in the field of medical equipment and devices.
Ordnance Factory Board
IV. The Supreme Court has issued a circular informing that it would continue to hear cases of extreme urgency through videoconferencing during the lockdown, keeping in mind physical distancing norms.
V. In view of prevailing sensitive health conditions affecting community health due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has asked State Governments for rescheduling of holidays in Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) and Eklavya Model Day Boarding Schools (EMDBS).
Eklavya Model Residential Schools
Eklavya Model Day Boarding Schools (EMDBS)
VI. RBI cuts rates, allows loan moratorium
Reduction in key interest rates:
Marginal Standing Facility:
Long-term repo operations:
Indian Banks in offshore NDF markets:
Economic Impact of the Pandemic
VII. The Centre has announced a ?1.7 lakh crore relief package – Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan (PMGK) Yojana in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and countrywide lockdown, providing free food and cash transfers to support the poorest and most vulnerable citizens during the crisis.
What does the PM Garib Kalyan package entail?
There are five elements to the PMGK package:
How does it benefit the health workers?
What help is being provided to poor and those in unorganised sector?
The help is in two ways — free food grains and cash transfers.
What help is being provided to poor in organised sector?
This help essentially relates to the Employees’ Provident Fund. There are two initiatives announced by the government.
What about construction workers?
The announcements related to the provisioning of food grains via PDS will be especially helpful. However, a few points need to be flagged.
Humanoid robot tested
Part of: GS Prelims and GS III – Science and Technology
A series of trials were conducted on a humanoid robot at a government hospital in Jaipur.
More PICK Ups
1. Vyommitra, a half-humanoid is being developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for an unmanned space mission later in 2020.
Who is Vyommitra?
What is a half-humanoid?
Why is ISRO developing a humanoid?
What are the tasks that Vyommitra will perform in space?
PT SHOT: Fedor is not the first robot to go into space.
In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot developed with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.
In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS’s first Japanese space commander.
3. Recently an exhibition of art created by a humanoid AI robot, named Ai-da was held at University of Oxford.
4. Sophia is a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong based company Hanson Robotics. Sophia was activated on February 14, 2016, and made her first public appearance at South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in mid-March 2016 in Austin, Texas, United States. She is able to display more than 60 facial expressions.
Sophia has been covered by media around the globe and has participated in many high-profile interviews. In October 2017, Sophia became a Saudi Arabian citizen, the first robot to receive citizenship of any country. In November 2017, Sophia was named the United Nations Development Programme first ever Innovation Champion, and is the first non-human to be given any United Nation title.
Jai Hind Jai Bharat
Pandemics of the world
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Health
COVID-19 is the most recent disease which was declared as pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Difference between Epidemic Vs Pandemic
Epidemic is a term that is often broadly used to describe any problem that has grown out of control. An epidemic is defined as "an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population."2?
An epidemic is an event in which a disease is actively spreading. In contrast, the term pandemic relates to geographic spread and is used to describe a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world.3?
While casual use of epidemic may not require such nuance, it's important to know the differences between these two terms (and similar ones like outbreak and endemic) when considering public health news. In addition, from an epidemiologic standpoint, terms like these direct the public health response to better control and prevent a disease.
A glimpse through major pandemics of the world which caused huge loss to life:
The Plague of Justinian
It killed between 30 million and 50 million people. The cause of the Plague of Justinian was infectious fever caused by Yersinia pestis.
Between 1347 and 1351, it spread throughout Europe, killing approximately 25 million people. It is believed to have been the result of plague – an infectious fever caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis. It was likely transmitted from rodents to humans by the bite of infected fleas.
Smallpox (15th – 17th centuries)
Smallpox claimed the lives of approximately 20 million people, close to 90% of the population, in the Americas. The pandemic helped Europeans colonize and develop the newly vacated areas. Smallpox is caused by infection with the variola virus transmitted through various ways.
Cholera (1817 – 1823)
The first cholera pandemic began in Jessore, India. It was the first of 7 major cholera pandemics that have killed millions of people. The World Health Organization has called cholera “the forgotten pandemic”. Its seventh outbreak, which began in 1961, continues to this day. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholera.
Spanish Flu or H1N1 (1918 – 1919)
It is caused due to H1N1 virus. It infected around 500 million people, or a third of the world’s population, of that time. The pandemic was responsible for killing over 50 million people globally.
Hong Kong Flu or H3N2 (1968 – 1970)
Global fatalities were around one million. It was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza a virus. It is believed that the virus responsible for the Asian flu evolved and re-emerged 10 years later into this so-called “Hong Kong flu”. H3N2 was exceptionally contagious.
HIV/AIDS (1981 – present)
Since 1981, 75 million people have had the HIV virus and approximately 32 million have died as a result.
HIV/AIDS is a persistent epidemic that continues to impact millions of people every year. The HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids.
SARS (2002 – 2003)
SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is an illness caused by one of the 7 coronaviruses that can infect humans. In 2003, an outbreak that originated in the Guangdong province of China became a global pandemic. It infected around 8,000 people and killing 774 of them. The consequences of the 2003 SARS pandemic were largely limited due to an intense public health response by global authorities.
Swine Flu or H1N1 (2009 – 2010)
It was a new form of the influenza virus which emerged in 2009. It infected approximately millions of people with global deaths in the range of 151,700 to 575,400. It is called the “swine flu” because it appeared to cross over from pigs to humans in transmission. 80% of the virus-related deaths occured in people younger than 65.
Ebola (2014 – 2016)
It began in a small village in Guinea in 2014 and spread to a handful of neighbouring countries in West Africa. It is caused by infection with a virus of the Filoviridae family, genus Ebolavirus. The virus killed 11,325 of the 28,600 infected people, with most cases occurring in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Zika Virus (2017)
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Its name comes from the Ziika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Zika virus is related to the dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses. Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015–2016 Zika virus epidemic.
The infection, known as Zika fever or Zika virus disease, often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. While there is no specific treatment, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and rest may help with the symptoms. As of 2016, the illness cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines. Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby. This can result in microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects. Zika infections in adults may result rarely in Guillain–Barré syndrome.
Coronavirus, or COVID-19 (2019 – present)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Worldwide cases have surpassed 500,000 with more than 24,000 deaths globally. It is believed to be transmitted from animals to humans. The vast majority of cases are reported from USA now. On March 11, the WHO characterized the outbreak as a pandemic. Estimates indicate that Coronavirus could eventually infect 40% to 70% of the global population. Practicing social distancing is recommended. The damage to the world economy threaten the worst recession since the Great Depression or the “panics” of the 1800s, depending on the scale of government responses.
Jai Hind Jai Bharat
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T
The International Advanced Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) has developed ultrafast laser surface texturing technology, which can improve the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines.
International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T
Recently, the Prime Minister has inaugurated 107th Indian Science Congress.
Indian Science Congress
G20 pledges $5 trillion to defend global economy against COVID-19 Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IO In a show of crisis unity, leaders commit to implement and fund all health measures needed to stop the virus's spread. Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies pledged to inj
RRB and COVID-19 Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economics Recently, the Centre has approved a ?1,340-crore recapitalisation plan for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs). The move is crucial to ensure liquidity in rural areas during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis. Key Points
Economic package during COVID-19 Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economics The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona
Japan and Russia - Kuril Islands Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR Historical Background Sovereignty Issue of South Kuril Islands: The Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia is over the sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands. The South Kuril Islands com
Waste management and Legacy Waste Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment The Environment Ministry has revised Solid Waste Management Rules after 16 years. The Rules are now applicable beyond municipal areas and will extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notifi
Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the continuation of the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) from 1st April 2020 onward until it is merged with the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Ex
Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub – Antibiotic resistance Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Health (S&T) Antibiotic resistance is not a problem that can be solved by any one country or even one region. Since, we live in a connected world, where people,
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