Current Affairs : 20 June 2021

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  • Jun 20, 2021
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Current Affairs : 20 June 2021

Zydus Cadila to solicit emergency authorization for ZyCoV-D vaccine

On June 18, 2021, an Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company, Zydus Cadila is expected to petition the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D.

ZyCoV-D will be the world’s first DNA plasmid-based vaccine against COVID-19, if authorised and would become India’s fourth vaccine joining the COVAXIN, COVISHIELD, and SPUTNIK V vaccines now in use.

Highlights

  • Zydus will have adequate data on whether the vaccine can be delivered to children aged 12 to 18 years soon, according to the company’s official source.
  • According to Dr VK Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog, Zydus Cadila has enlisted over 28,000 volunteers for their phase three study (Health). 
  • ZyCoV-D will be the world’s first COVID-19 DNA plasmid-based vaccination. 
  • The vaccine contains the genetic information for making COVID—19 antigen in human cells. 
  • The ZyCoV-D vaccine, the second indigenous vaccine, is also the first to be administered intradermally by a needle-free device in a three-dose regimen. 
  • The vaccination can be kept at a temperature of 2 to 4 degree Celsius and does not require refrigeration.
  • The National Biopharma Mission (NBM) of the Centre is supporting the development of the ZyCoV-D COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, Department of Biotechnology. 
  • The phase 1 and phase 2 trials conducted by Zydus on over 1,000 healthy humans were determined to be safe and immunogenic. 
  • More than 28,000 people have signed up for the company’s phase-3 trials. The outcomes are expected. 
  • In April 2021, Zydus Cadila began the manufacture of the ZyCoV-D vaccine. 
  • The company wants to make 240 million doses per year.

India and Bhutan ink MoU for developing cooperation in the areas of Environment

On June 18, 2021, India and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand environmental cooperation between the two countries.

Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change signed the pact virtually on behalf of India, while Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji, Chairperson of the National Environment Commission signed it on behalf of Bhutan.

Highlights

  • The Memorandum of Understanding serves as a foundation for furthering Indian and Bhutanese cooperation and assistance. 
  • Best practises in waste management, air pollution, climate change, chemical management, and other sectors will be shared. 
  • The linked Memorandum of Understanding will also allow for cooperative projects in areas of mutual interest. 
  • It will improve the scientific, technological, and management capacities of the country. 
  • The MoU will also aid in the expansion of areas of environmental cooperation, promoting a mutually beneficial partnership between India and Bhutan.
  • The linked Memorandum of Understanding, according to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, will offer new vistas of bilateral collaboration in sectors such as waste management, climate change, and others.
  • The Union Minister described the connection between India and Bhutan as symbiotic, adding that India wishes to work with Bhutan on environmental challenges such as climate change.

Global Peace Index 2021

The 15th edition of the Global Peace Index has been released that ranks 163 countries and includes about 99.7% of the world population. A total increase of 10% in civil unrest was observed with the major contributor being the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first 10 spots were almost unchanged from 2020, primarily dominated by the European countries except New Zealand and Canada while the last 10 spots were absolutely unchanged. A rise of 244% in global riots and general strikes was also observed between 2011 and 2019. Nearly 18% of the world population has experienced violence while about 75% feel that the world is becoming a safer place.

Highlights

  • Iceland topped the list with an index score of 1.1 followed by New Zealand and Denmark.
  • India has ranked 135 out of 163 countries as compared to its ranking of 137 in the previous edition. It has been ranked 5th in the South Asia region.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been the least peaceful region.
  • Bangladesh has jumped 7 spots from its previous ranking standing at 91, also being the third most peaceful country in South Asia following Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan remain the least peaceful countries at 161,162 and 163 respectively.
  • There is an improvement in peacefulness in European countries for the sixth consecutive year.
  • The North American Region has  experienced a huge deterioration in the index due to political instability.
  • The Central American Region and the Caribbean faced a slight deterioration in their index of peacefulness.
  • South America has been observed to have the highest deterioration among the regions.
  • For the first time in 5 years, Russia and Eurasia experienced a deterioration in their index.

About Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index (GPI) is a report that evaluates the index of the peacefulness of nations and regions. The report is prepared by the Institute of Economics and Peace. The GPI has shown an increase in violence in the past decade. There are 23 indicators (qualitative and quantitative) that help to assess the peacefulness of a country or region.

World Father’s Day, 2021

Father’s day is a day meant to honour fatherhood and their influence in the society. It is celebrated on the third Sunday in the month of June every year. This year, it is being celebrated on 20th June.

Highlights 

  • Since the middle ages, it has been celebrated in the European Catholic countries as Saint Joseph’s Day on March 19.
  •  In 1910, for the first time in the United States, Father’s Day was celebrated on the third Sunday of June. 
  • Several traditions celebrate this day on different dates to pay homage to fatherhood.
  • The celebration of fatherhood is also observed on St Joseph’s Day in the Coptic Orthodox Church, but observed on July 20. This celebration dates back to the 20th Century.
  • It is celebrated on the third Sunday of June every year in India.
  • In Hindu traditions, ‘Pitru Paksha’ puja is done to pay obeisance to the ancestors, generally done at the end of August or at the beginning of September.

World Refugee Day

An international day to pay homage to the refugees around the world, that is designated by the United Nations. It is celebrated on 20th June every year in order to celebrate the courage and strength of the people who were pressured to leave their homeland and flee to avoid persecution or any kind of conflict.

Highlights

  • World Refugee Day is celebrated in order to empathise with the refugees around the globe and appreciate their plight and perseverance to build their lives again.
  • It emphasises on the rights of the refugees, their aspirations and desires. It helps us to recognise the sacrifices of the refugees and the amount of hardships they had to go through over the years.
  • In order to extend the support towards the refugees, a lot of activities are conducted.
  • There should be constant assistance provided to them to realise that they can not only survive but also thrive in their lives. World Refugee Day is celebrated to bring this aspect to light.
  • It was celebrated for the first time on June 20, 2001 in order to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of 1951 Convention relating to the status of the refugees.
  • Before it was designated as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2000, it was known as Africa Refugee Day.

Quality Council of India launches Indian Certification of Medical Devices (ICMED) Plus Scheme 

A few features have been added to the existing features of the ICMED Scheme which was launched in 2016. The addition has been done by the Quality Council of India (QCI) and Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AiMeD). 

The new ICMED 13485 Plus Scheme was launched digitally on 18th June, 2021. It was undertaken to attest to the quality and safety standards of medical devices.

Highlights

  • This scheme is designed to assess the quality standards of products with respect to defined product specifications and standards.
  • Dr. Ravi P. Singh emphasised on the fact that there would still be a regulatory gap in the coming 23 months that were at large prior to 2017.
  • Mr. Jitender Sharma, MD, AMTZ, Andhra Pradesh stated that it was ironical that medical devices were not regulated while pharmaceuticals were, prior to 2017.
  • Mr. Rajiv Nath, Forum Co-ordinator of AiMeD said ‘The need for an Indian Quality Certification System was never felt as strongly as during the current pandemic. Access to affordable and quality medical devices can be realised through ICMED Plus certification’.
  • K L Sharma, Chair of the ICMED Steering Committee said “The launch of ICMED Plus is a watershed moment. Coming, as it does, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and at a geostrategically crucial time when the world looks beyond a few monopolistic countries, it could shepherd India to be one of the leading global manufacturers of quality medical devices.”
  • The Scheme will further play a huge role in eliminating the circulation and consumption of sub-standard devices and products that have suspicious origins which could prove to be hazardous.

About Quality Council of India (QCI)

The Quality Council of India (QCI) was originally set up as a public- private partnership where the NAB was just supported but not owned by the government. It was used as a third-party in order to improve the quality of the departments and the industry. It eventually came to be known as an independent autonomous body that worked to reassure the quality and standards of all social and economic activities.

The main association bodies are Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry(CII). The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) became the promoters of the organizers and QCI was established under the Societies Registration Act, 1997 to provide approval services in various sectors for product and services.

India Post will issue a special stamp for International Yoga Day

The  AYUSH Ministry announced that a special cancellation stamp would be issued by India Post in order to memorialise the International Yoga Day.

Highlights

  • International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21st June every year.
  • This special cancellation stamp will be put by all delivery and non-delivery head post offices on all mail booked in the office on June 21.
  • There will be a pictorial representation of a graphical design along with ‘International Yoga day’ printed on it both in English and Hindi.
  • A cancellation is known to be a postal marking used to deface a stamp in order to prevent its reuse. These cancellations are valued collectibles and serve as an article of philatelic studies.

About Ministry of AYUSH 

The Ministry of AYUSH ( Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homeopathy) is entrusted with developing education and research along with the propagation of indigenous alternative medicine systems in India. It is headed by a Minister of State ( Independent Charge) and is currently held by Shripad Yesso Naik

Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Special Report on Drought 2021

The ‘Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Special Report on Drought 2021’ was published by UNDRR ( United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction) on 18th June, 2021. UN Climate Talks would include this report into their topic of discussion which is going to be held at Glasgow in November, 2021.

Highlights

  • According to the report, around 1.5 billion people have been affected due to droughts since 2000.
  • The drought can be the reason for an upcoming disaster if no corrective measures are taken on water & land management and tackling climate emergencies.
  • In the next few years, most of the countries would suffer from water stress and the demand would surpass the supply in certain time periods.
  • Drought is becoming widespread  and almost every country would experience problems arising due to droughts in some shape or form.
  • It is being speculated that the true economic cost is much higher than the estimated cost of $124bn as it does not include any impact on the developing countries.
  • Developed countries like the US, Australia and Southern Europe have experienced droughts in the recent past which emphasises on the fact that they are not immune to this problem.
  • The primary reason for droughts is the change in the rainfall pattern due to climatic change.
  • Degradation in the quality of land due to intensive agriculture, inefficient use of water resources also contributes to the crisis.
  • Over usage of fertilizers and deforestation are believed to be other factors.

Government Plans To Reduce Road Accidents by 2024

Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, has stated that the Central Government has set a target to reduce the amount of road accidents by 50% by the year 2024.

Highlights 

  • It was a major highlight of a virtual session on ‘Role of Corporates in Arresting Road Fatalities’  organised by FICCI.
  • There was an emphasis on the need to identify the ‘black spots’ in every district, city and state.
  • The World Bank and ADB have sanctioned a scheme under which there will be an allocation of Rs. 14000 crores for the states, NHAI and the rest of the shareholders  in order to eliminate the black spots that are vulnerable to accidents.
  • The Ministry of Road and Transport is making significant efforts to reduce the amount of road accident deaths by strengthening the four Es that include Economy, Enforcement, Engineering and Education.
  • In India, road accidents are a major cause for deaths, injuries and property damage.
  • According to the World Bank data, India accounts for 11% of global deaths in road accidents even though it accounts for 1% of the world’s vehicles which is the highest.
  • Every year, there are about 1.5 lakh deaths out of 4.5 lakh road crashes.
  • Road accidents cost about Rs. 5.96 lakh crore or 3.14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as stated by reports.

National Strategies for Development of Rural Tourism

The Ministry of Tourism has released three draft strategies which would boost the tourism sector that was affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft strategies were put forward with tactical roadmaps that would promote India as a medical and rural tourism destination.

Highlights

  • It will help in the reduction of migration from rural areas, poverty alleviation and  would promote sustainable development.
  • It envisions to position India as a destination for conferences, exhibitions and meetings.
  • It targets to develop and promote local products through tourism that would generate income and jobs in rural areas and uplift local communities.
  • This draft is in correspondence with the government’s recognition of wellness tourism and medical value travel as a significant sector which has the potential of accelerating India’s rural development & attaining the objective of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • The draft also put forward the idea of promoting India as a MICE ( Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination that is already recognised as a major contributor to national economies.
  • The national strategy was released with the target to provide an institutional and functional framework. It will boost the ecosystem for medical and wellness tourism and ensure quality as well.

About the Ministry of Tourism

The Ministry of Tourism is a branch of the Indian Government that is at the helm and the apex body that formulates and administers the laws, rules and regulations that pertain to the development and promotion of tourism in India. 

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