Current Affairs : 18 June 2021

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  • Jun 18, 2021
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Current Affairs : 18 June 2021

New Covid-19 variant ‘Lamda’ found in 29 countries

On June 16, 2021, the World Health Organization announced that a new COVID-19 variation, Lambda, had been discovered in 29 nations, most notably in South America, where it is thought to have originated. 

According to WHO, the Lambda lineage was initially found in Peru and was categorised as a worldwide Variant of Interest on June 14 due to its “elevated presence” in South America. 

Highlights

  • The lambda variation has been prevalent in Peru, where it has been linked to 81 percent of COVID-19 cases since April 2021. 
  • The Lambda variant was found in 32 percent of all submitted sequences in Chile in the last 60 days, trailing only the Gamma variant, which was initially discovered in Brazil.
  • Argentina and Ecuador, among other South American countries, have found high incidence of the novel COVID-19 variation. 
  • The Lambda lineage, according to the World Health Organization, has changes that could boost the virus’s transmissibility or strengthen its resistance to antibodies.
  • However, according to the Geneva-based organisation, evidence on how effective this new variant will be is now insufficient, and further research is needed to better comprehend the Lambda variant.
  • Unlike the Variant of Concern, which has already made headlines around the world, the Variant of Interest is watched by health organisations but has yet to be proven to pose a serious hazard to public health. 
  • Variant of Concern, on the other hand, is one that has been identified as a major threat capable of spreading quickly and infecting a big number of people. 
  • The Delta variety, which was discovered in India, is the most recent example.
  •  It was initially classified as a ‘Variant of Interest’ until May 11, 2021, when the World Health Organization classified it as a ‘Variant of Concern’ due to its rapid spread over the globe.

China launches three men crew into space after five years

On June 17, 2021, China successfully launched the first three men crew to its new space station, marking the country’s first crewed mission in five years. China’s latest human spaceflight took place in 2016. 

The three astronauts are aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, which was propelled into orbit by a Long March-2F Y12 rocket. 

Highlights

  • It launched from the Jiuquan launch complex in Northwestern China shortly after 9.22 a.m., as planned. 
  • Shenzhou-12, which means “Divine Vessel,” will launch the third of 11 trips needed to finish China’s space station by 2022. Four of them will have humans on board, with the potential to launch up to 12 Chinese astronauts into space, more than the 11 men and women who are now in space.
  • Two senior astronauts and one novice will travel to Tianhe Station for a three-month stay in the station’s primary living area. 
  • The astronauts will conduct experiments, test equipment, maintain the station, and prepare it for the arrival of two more modules in 2022. 
  • The three individuals from China’s first and second groups of astronauts will be on this trip, according to Yang Liwei, Director of China Manned Space Engineering Office and China’s first astronaut. 
  • Deng Qingming, 55, Nei Haisheng, 56, who will be the oldest Chinese astronaut into space, and Ye Guangfu, 40, are among the astronauts speculated by space bloggers.
  • While Yang Liwei stated that no women are intended to participate in the Shenzhou-12 mission, he also stated that they are expected to participate on all subsequent missions.
  •  After the initial batch of 14 guys in the mid-1990s, China’s second cohort, Wang Yaping and Liu Yang, were chosen in 2011. 
  • In 2012, Liu Yang became China’s first woman in space, and Wang Yaping, at the age of 33, became the world’s youngest astronaut.
  • The Chinese astronauts have a low profile in the international community. 
  • Because of a US government legislation prohibiting NASA from having any kind of relationship with China, its astronauts have never visited the International Space Station (ISS), which is usually visited by more than 240 men and women of all nationalities.
  • Tianhe, the first and largest of China’s three space station modules, was launched in April 2021, marking the start of the country’s space station construction. 
  • The government plans to send a robotic cargo resupply vehicle and three more humans to the International Space Station for a six-month stay in 2021. 
  • China, which hopes to become a major spacefaring power by 2030, became the second country to land a rover on Mars in May 2021, two years after the first spacecraft landed on the moon’s far side. 
  • The Chinese Space Agency intends to send astronauts to the moon as well.

What is Green Fungus?

Aspergillosis, or green fungus, is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mould that can be found both indoors and outdoors. Aspergillosis is caused by inhaling tiny Aspergillus spores from the environment. 

The first case of green fungus was discovered when the COVID-19 patient was tested after he was suspected of having mucormycosis, or black fungus. 

Highlights

  • People with weakened immune systems or lung disorders are more likely to experience health problems as a result of Aspergillus. 
  • Most people can inhale Aspergillus spores without becoming ill, but those with compromised immune systems or lung disorders such as tuberculosis are at greater risk.
  • Mucormycosis and Black Fungus are not the same fungal infection. 
  • This could be the country’s first occurrence of green fungus, however the medical community isn’t sure about other cases.
  • Those who have undergone a stem cell or organ transplant, or who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy, are also at a significant risk. 
  • Aspergillus causes lung infections, allergic reactions, and infections in other organs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Aspergillosis, or green fungus, is not contagious and cannot spread from the lungs to other people or animals.
  • The sole feature that distinguishes a fungal infection is that it is caused by the aspergillus fungus and causes mucormycosis. 
  • The naming of the fungus is done due to the colour it exhibits in lab culture. 
  • Colour is present in the culture of the fungus. 
  • According to medical authorities, all of them — black, yellow, green, and white fungus — are cinderella, mucormycosis, and aspergillus specimens. 
  • Mucormycosis has a black appearance, cinderella has a white appearance, and aspergillus has a green and yellow appearance.

Bharat Biotech’s pre-submission meeting for COVAXIN’s approval to be held

The World Health Organization (WHO) has arranged a pre-submission meeting for Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech on June 23 to evaluate its indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. The meeting is about COVAXIN for WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL). 

Bharat Biotech said in May 2021 that it expects to receive the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing for its COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN. Bharat Biotech had submitted 90% of the documentation needed for WHO’s Emergency Use Listing of COVAXIN last month. In June, the remaining papers will be due. The External Affairs Ministry and Bharat Biotech are working together to get the COVID-A vaccine included to the WHO’s Emergency Use List.

Highlights

  • COVAXIN is one of three vaccinations currently being delivered in India as part of the COVID-19 pandemic vaccination campaign.
  •  Emergency Use Listing, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a risk-based system for evaluating and listing three product categories: unlicensed vaccines, in vitro diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals. 
  • The designation permits countries to expedite their own regulatory approval for COVID-19 vaccine import and administration.
  • COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, safety, and quality, as well as cold chain requirements and risk management strategies, are evaluated in the Emergency Use Listing.
  • The product evaluation group, which includes regulatory specialists from throughout the world as well as a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), conducts this evaluation. 
  • Experts and TAG members conduct a risk assessment to determine whether a vaccination can be administered in an emergency. 
  • The purpose of Emergency Use Listing is to make vaccinations, diagnostics, and medications available while maintaining strict efficacy, safety, and quality standards for innovative health goods.
  • Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Two AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine are currently listed for Emergency use. 

Eligibility

To be eligible for the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing, unlicensed vaccines, in vitro diagnostics, and medicines must meet the following criteria: 

  • The disease for which the health goods will be certified must be life-threatening or serious, and it must have the potential to cause an outbreak, pandemic, or epidemic. 
  • Other health treatments on the market have either failed to eradicate the disease or are ineffective in avoiding outbreaks.

ADB to provide $484 million loan for Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor

The Asian Development Bank will provide a $484 million loan (about Rs. 3,500 crores) to the Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor (CKIC) in Tamil Nadu. The objective behind it is  to strengthen transportation connections and support industrial development. 

The Asian Development Bank is India’s major partner in developing the East Coast Economic Corridor, which includes the CKIC. An agreement between the ADB and the government has been struck on the loan.

Highlights

  • According to the official release, the latest project prioritises climate change resilience, sustainability, and road safety features in keeping with ADB’s long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2030. 
  • Long-term maintenance of road improvements is covered by seven-year contracts. 
  • The money will be used by the Asian Development Bank to upgrade around 590 kilometres of state highways in the Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor Influence regions.
  • This would span 23 of Tamil Nadu’s 32 districts between Chennai and Kanyakumari. Improved connection between industrial centres, the hinterland, and ports.
  • This in turn would aid in growing Indian manufacturing’s participation in global production networks and value chains, resulting in job creation along the corridor.
  • The roadway renovations will include climate change adaptation measures as well. 
  • Through modern technologies for road monitoring and enforcement, the initiative will also aid in the strengthening of road safety improvement programmes. 
  • It would also aid in the development of Tamil Nadu’s Highways and Minor Ports Department’s planning capabilities.
  • The East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), which runs from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu in India, includes CKIC. 
  • It also connects India to the Southeast, South, and East Asian production networks.

Japan to issue Covid vaccine passport

Japan will begin distributing vaccine passports by the end of July 2021, according to a top government official. This step has been taken as many people are looking forward to the prospect of overseas travel because of the rapid rate of inoculation implementation. 

Personal passports will be issued in the form of paper documents by municipalities in charge of administering a vaccination programme and maintaining track of vaccination data, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato.

Highlights

  • Residents who have been immunised in Japan may be able to go overseas without facing limitations at border crossings.
  • According to the Cabinet Secretariat, these will be available to non-Japanese citizens who have been vaccinated, but it is unclear which nations will accept the documents.
  •  The passports will include information such as the date of the holder’s vaccination and the manufacturer of the shot they received.
  • They will be available in both English and Japanese. 
  • However, Japan has no plans to implement a system that would allow foreign-issued vaccine passports to be accepted when entering the country.
  • Kato stated that the cost of the certificates has yet to be determined.
  • The revelation comes as the European Union prepares to send out its digital certificates to member states on July 1st, allowing for unrestricted cross-border travel. 
  • The passport is seen as a critical milestone in Japan’s recovery from the pandemic, since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Liberal Democratic Party have made resuming regular economic operations one of their top priorities.
  • With a team of ten officials from several government departments, including the health and foreign ministries, Kato has been conducting vaccine passport discussions. 
  • Lobby groups such as Keidanren have urged the government to implement the programme quickly so that Japanese firms are not harmed.
  • Japan is lagging behind many developed countries in terms of vaccination adoption, but has been gaining up in recent weeks. 
  • According to Our World in Data, 15.2 percent of the population had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot as of Monday. 
  • On May 13, just over a month ago, the percentage was only 3.2 percent. 
  • According to the Prime Minister’s Office, approximately 27.66 million doses had been administered throughout Japan as of July 17, 2021. 
  • While the central government is preparing the passport system, it is also attempting to find a balance between the need to restart the economy through the use of vaccines and fears of discrimination against people who refuse to receive the vaccines.

‘Juneteenth’, a new holiday declared in The United States of America

President Joe Biden is likely to sign legislation designating June 19, or “Juneteenth,” a federally recognised national holiday marking the end of slavery following the American Civil War (1861-65). 

A bill to make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday garnered bipartisan support in both houses of Congress and now awaits White House approval to become law.

Highlights

  • The bill comes a year after the assassination of George Floyd sparked nationwide anti-racism rallies and forced a national reckoning on institutional racism.
  • Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, is the oldest and most widely recognised celebration of the abolition of slavery in the United States, held every year on June 19. 
  • It is now observed as a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. Juneteenth Independence Day is another name for Emancipation Day. 
  • In 2020, legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate after Ron Johnson.
  • He objected, claiming that adding another federal holiday would cost taxpayers millions of dollars in paid leave for federal employees. The law has been passed this time around.

Significance

  • Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and declared the Civil War and slavery to be over. 
  • Since then, Juneteenth has become a mostly symbolic date for African Americans, symbolising their liberation. 
  • The bill was passed overwhelmingly by the powerful 100-member chamber this time. The Emancipation Proclamation, signed by then-President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, declared that “all individuals held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” 
  • Even so, according to the Congressional Research Service, many slave owners continued to retain their slaves captive for more than two years after Lincoln’s proclamation by concealing this information from them and keeping them for one more harvest season (CRS).
  • The first Juneteenth celebration in Texas took place in 1866, and featured community-focused activities including parades, cookouts, prayer sessions, historical and cultural readings, and musical performances. People and communities have developed their own traditions and rituals as the day has progressed. 
  • Some towns, like Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas, purchased land to commemorate the day. 
  • Juneteenth was declared an official federal holiday. 
  • The “Modern Juneteenth Movement” began in 1994, according to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), when a group of Juneteenth leaders from throughout the country assembled in New Orleans, Louisiana, to campaign toward broader acknowledgment of Juneteenth.

Cabinet approves Deep Ocean Mission to explore deep ocean for resources

The Rs 4,077-crore Deep Ocean Mission, which will be led by scientists from the Ministry of Earth Sciences, was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

Researchers and experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Development and Research Organisation, Department of Atomic Energy, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology, and the Indian Navy will participate in the five-year inter-ministerial and inter-departmental mission.

Highlights

  • India will join a select group of powerful nations that have dedicated ocean studies and missions, including the United States, Japan, France, Russia, and China. 
  • The expedition also gives a boost to India’s Blue Economy ambitions, which are set to run from 2020 to 2030 and include a number of studies into the oceans, about which little is known. 
  • The Deep Ocean Mission has five thrust areas: deep sea mining, manned submersibles, ocean climate change advisory services, deep ocean exploration and conservation, deep ocean survey, and the establishment of a marine station for Ocean Biology. 
  • During the mission’s first phase, which runs from 2021 to 2024, an estimated Rs 2,823.4 crore will be invested. 
  • India is surrounded on three sides by the sea, with a coastline of almost 7,500 kilometres. There are nine coastal states and 1,382 islands in the country. 
  • Given India’s strategic importance in the Indian Ocean region, the mission will assist the country in tightening its grip on the region.
  •  Despite the fact that several organisations under the Ministry of Earth Sciences have their own research vessels, India will construct a research vessel exclusively for deep ocean investigations, which will be built in an Indian shipyard.
  • MSMEs and start-ups are projected to benefit from the design, development, and manufacture of specialised equipment, ships, and the installation of essential infrastructure. 
  • A manned-submersible with a carrying capacity of three people will also be constructed.
  •  The submersible, which is outfitted with scientific sensors and tools, will sample at a depth of 6000 metres. 
  • An integrated mining system is intended to mine polymetallic nodules from the central Indian Ocean regions at this depth. 
  • This could pave the path for commercial exploitation of ocean mineral resources.

18 June,2020: Autistic Pride Day

Autistic Pride Day is observed on June 18th. The primary purpose of commemorating this day is to raise autism awareness among the general population. Autism affects one out of every 160 children, according to the World Health Organization. 

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak and interact. The illness has a direct impact on a person’s neurological system and has a detrimental impact on their emotional, social, and physical well-being. 

Highlights

  • The day is symbolised with a rainbow endless sign, which effectively depicts autistic people’s limitless possibilities. 
  • Although there is no cure for Autism, frequent therapy can improve the patient’s quality of life.
  • Aspies for Freedom (AFF) initially commemorated Autistic Pride Day in 2005, choosing June 18 as the date because it was the birthday of the group’s youngest member at the time. 
  • The festival was based on the homosexual pride movement, according to AFF. 
  • Autistic Pride Day is observed by organisations around the world with events to connect autistic people with one another through autistic events and to demonstrate to allistic people (those who are not on the autism spectrum) that autistic people are unique individuals who should not be treated as cases.
  • Autism campaigners have gotten more professionalised as autistic pride has grown, with Autistic Pride Reading incorporating as a charity in 2018 and hosting a pride event that drew over 700 individuals.

Global Peace Index, 2021

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) Sydney has released the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI). The GPI is the world’s premier gauge of global peacefulness. The index assigns a score to 163 independent nations and territories based on their peacefulness. This paper is the most thorough data-driven analysis of peace trends, economic value, and how to promote peaceful communities that has ever been published.

Highlights

  • For the fourth year in a row, Afghanistan is the world’s least peaceful country, but Burkina Faso saw the greatest decline in the Global Peace Index 2021. 
  • Yemen has surpassed Syria as the least tranquil country in the MENA area, a position it has held since 2014. 
  • Since 2008, Yemen’s peace has been deteriorating year after year. 
  • Civil disturbance increased by 10% worldwide as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. In 2020, there were 14,871 violent protests, riots, and demonstrations around the world.
  • Covid was described as a “multiplying force” in future political instability and civil unrest, according to the research. 
  • It went on to say that the level of disturbance in the future will likely be determined by the pace and efficacy with which the economy recovers. 
  • Countries with lower debt and higher levels of positive peace had a better chance of recovering faster. 
  • The top ten most peaceful countries index for 2021 is nearly equal to the rankings for 2020. 
  • Only Singapore has been removed from the list after its political terror indicator increased. 
  • The top ten is dominated by European countries, while Ireland’s debut at number eight, up three places from its position at number eleven in 2020, knocked Singapore out of the top ten.
  • New Zealand (2) and Canada are the only non-European countries to appear (10). 
  • The index’s top ten least peaceful countries haven’t moved since last year. Yemen (162) fell three places to second worst in this group, whereas Iraq (159) rose two spots, continuing a recent trend in which the country has improved in three of the last ten years. 
  • The category “Neighboring Countries Relations” suffered a setback as a result of Taiwan. 
  • The passage of China’s Coast Guard Law in February 2021 heightened tensions by authorising the deployment of “all necessary means” to repel dangers posed by foreign vessels in seas “under China’s protection.”
  • Civil upheaval has increased in a number of other nations around the region, although more than half of respondents believe they are safer now than they were five years ago. 
  • China had the greatest performance in the area, with 63 percent of individuals saying they felt safer. 
  • South Asia was one of only three regions to have an increase in peacefulness over the previous year, despite the fact that it is still the least peaceful region in the world.
  • The average degree of peacefulness in the region increased by 0.1 percent, with gains in five of the region’s seven countries.

18 June,2021: International Picnic Day

International Picnic Day is celebrated on June 18th to encourage people to get outside and enjoy one other’s company. The origins of International Picnic Day are unknown, but it is thought to have occurred near the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of the Victorian Era. 

By the twentieth century, picnics in the open air had grown popular in England. International Picnic Day has no recorded roots, although it is widely recognised as an informal eating celebration that serves as a break from formalities. Individuals are encouraged to spend time outside and in the company of others on this day.

Highlights

  • Many humanitarian events take place on this day, and schools use it to arrange picnics for their students. 
  • Picnics are held around the world to bring friends and family together. 
  • They used to carry snacks, games, soft drinks, juices, and other necessities to share with their travel companions. 
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest picnic took place in Portugal. 
  • Every year on the first Monday in August, the Northern Territory of Australia celebrates International Picnic Day.
  •  It is a well-known concept in the area, and the entire populace is given the day off. Schools and universities are also closed on this day.

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