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Current Affairs 24 January 2022 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

CONTENTS

  1. Omicron in community transmission: INSACOG
  2. A proposal for Indian Environmental Service
  3. PM Gati Shakti national master plan
  4. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
  5. Sri Ramanuja

Omicron In Community Transmission: INSACOG

Context:

Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said in its latest bulletin.

  • INSACOG, jointly initiated by the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, the Department of Biotechnology and others, is a consortium of 38 laboratories monitoring the genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19.
Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:
  • What is Community Transmission(CT)?
  • Significance of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus
  • Why is it named Omicron?
  • What do spike mutations do?
  • About the WHO advisory on Omicron variant

What is Community Transmission(CT)?

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), community transmission “is evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for a large number of cases, or by increasing positive tests through sentinel samples (routine systematic testing of respiratory samples from established laboratories)”.
  • In other words, a community transmission case is generally accepted as referring to an infected patient without any known contact with another confirmed case of viral infection or recent travel history to or from a country badly affected by a pandemic. Therefore, the community transmission of a virus essentially implies that a virus is moving freely in the community.
  • A state of community spread implies that the virus is now circulating in the community, and can infect people with no history of travel to or contact with affected people and areas. At this stage, it is theoretically possible for everyone in a community or country to catch the infection.
  • In the context of coronavirus, if a person is diagnosed with Covid-19, their infection is either linked to travel history to a country where the disease is widespread, or if that person has come in contact with someone already infected.
  • When the source of transmission for a large number of people is not traceable, it is called a community transmission.

Significance of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus

  • Omicron was first reported from South Africa and has since spread to more than a dozen countries. A few countries have begun imposing travel restrictions in a bid to counter the threat of spread of the new variant.
  • The Omicron variant is interesting due to the fact that it has a large number of mutations compared to other prevalent variants circulating across the world.
  • This includes 32 mutations in the spike protein.
  • Many of these mutations lie in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein, a key part of the protein required for binding to the human receptor proteins for entry into the cell.
  • It can thus play an important role in recognition by antibodies generated due to a previous infection or by vaccines.

Why is it named Omicron?

  • The WHO has been using Greek letters to refer to the most widely prevalent coronavirus variants, which otherwise carry long scientific names.
  • It had already used 12 letters of the Greek alphabet before the newest variant emerged in South Africa this week.
  • After Mu, the 12th named after a Greek letter, WHO selected the name Omicron, instead of Nu or Xi, the two letters between Mu and Omicron.
  • The WHO said Nu could have been confused with the word ‘new’ while Xi was not picked up following a convention.

What do spike mutations do?

  • Many of the mutations in the spike protein have been previously suggested to cause resistance to antibodies as well as increased transmission.
  • Thus, there is a possibility that this variant could be more likely to re-infect people who have developed immunity against previous variants of the virus.
  • The behavior of the virus is not yet accurately predictable based on the evidence on individual mutations.

About the WHO advisory on Omicron variant

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges.
  • The impact is likely to be more severe on vulnerable populations, particularly in countries with low vaccination coverage.
  • WHO has urged all the nations to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups and device plans to tackle any surge in infections from the new variant.

-Source: The Hindu


A Proposal for Indian Environmental Service

Context:

The Supreme Court has asked the Government if it will create an Indian Environmental Service (IES) as recommended by a committee headed by former Cabinet secretary T.S.R Subramanian in 2014.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance, GS III- Environment

Dimensions of the article:
  1. What is the T.S.R Subramanian committee report on environment?
  2. T.S.R Subramanian committee recommendations
  3. Government response

About T.S.R Subramanian committee report:

  • The Subramanian committee was set up in August 2014.
    • To review the country’s green laws and the procedures followed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • It suggested several amendments to align with the Government’s economic development agenda.
  • The report had suggested amendments to almost all green laws, including those relating to environment, forest, wildlife and coastal zone clearances.

T.S.R Subramanian committee recommendations:

  • The report proposed an ‘Environmental Laws (Management) Act’ (ELMA), that envisioned full-time expert bodies—
    • National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA)
    • State Environmental Management Authority (SEMA)
    • Aim: To evaluate project clearance (using technology and expertise), in a time bound manner, providing for single-window clearance.
  • It suggested a “fast track” procedure for “linear” projects (roads, railways and transmission lines), power and mining projects and for “projects of national importance.”
  • It suggested to subsume the Air Act and the Water Act within the Environment Protection Act.
  • It recommended to integrate the existing Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards into NEMA and SEMA once the new bodies come into existence.
  • It also suggested an appellate mechanism against the decisions of NEMA/SEMA or MoEF&CC, in respect of project clearance, prescribing a three-month deadline to dispose appeals.
  • The report also recommends that an “environmental reconstruction cost” should be assessed for each project on the basis of the damage caused by it to the environment and this should be added into the cost of the project.
  • This cost has to be recovered as a cess or duty from the project proponent during the life of the project.
  • It proposed a National Environment Research institute “on the lines of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education”
  • Finally it proposed, an Indian Environment Service to recruit qualified and skilled human resource in the environment sector.

Government response:

  • The Centre never formally accepted this report and neither constituted a new committee as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee rejected the report on the grounds that it ended up diluting key aspects of environmental legislation designed to protect the environment.
  • The committee suggested that another committee, with more expertise and time, be constituted to review the environmental laws.
  • Currently matters of environmental regulation rests on scientists of the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as bureaucrats from the Indian Administrative Services.
  • The apex court expressed reluctance at getting into administrative matters of the Government but nevertheless asked the Centre if it expects to go about constituting such a mechanism.

-Source: The Hindu


PM Gati Shakti national master plan

Context:

The Gati Shakti programme announced by Prime Minister last year envisages a digital platform for a national master plan of infrastructure projects in the country which will be ready by March 31, 2022, according to a senior government official.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Industrial Policy, Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About PM Gati Shakti Yojana 2021
  2. Significance of PM Gati Shakti

About PM Gati Shakti Yojana 2021

  • PM Gati Shakti Yojana 2021 is a 100 lakh crore national infrastructure master plan that would provide a leap to Atmnirbhar Bharat and provide multimodal connectivity to boost the infrastructure development of the country.
  • This Masterplan will bring together 16 Ministries and seven core infrastructure sectors, on a single platform in order to synergise project planning across stakeholder ministries for avoiding duplication, plug gaps and expedite clearances at the right time.
  • Gati Shakti Scheme was launched with the aim of achieving three basic goals namely:
    1. Seamless multimodal connectivity for facilitating easy movement of goods & people,
    2. Improved prioritisation, optimal usage of resources, timely creation of capacities, and
    3. Resolution of issues like disjointed planning, standardisation & clearances. This project would help in the improvement of National Infrastructure by lending them more money and providing them with more speed.
  • It seeks to attract investment from worldwide to improve the infrastructure in India and will provide new direction & fresh momentum for overall infrastructure development in India and the scheme will also create employment opportunities for the youth.
  • The projects under the $1.5 Trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline would be included under PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan.
  • Private players would also get a boost to invest in National infrastructure as easy clearances and monetary help would be available to them.
  • This project would also provide last-mile connectivity to economic zones in a definite timeframe.

Significance of PM Gati Shakti

  • India’s projects were earlier a victim of interministerial delays, multiple stakeholders and a culture to work in silos. This led to cost overruns and hampered decision making, in turn, delaying the projects and development for good. The Gati Shakti Master Plan would cut down such loopholes and consolidate the infrastructure projects in some specific corridors without getting into various long timed approval processes.
  • There would also be a geographic information system (GIS) enabled digital platform under Gati Shakti that would be useful for gathering relevant information on any regions topography, satellite images and physical features. This would help the ministries to save funds and approve projects timely as well.

-Source: The Hindu


Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Context:

Standing tall A hologram of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose unveiled by Prime Minister at India Gate in New Delhi on ‘Parakram Divas’, the birth anniversary of the freedom fighter.

Relevance:

 GS I- The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country

Dimensions of this article:

  1. About Subash Chandra Bose Ji
  2. About Subhash Chandra Bose Ji Role in Indian Independence Struggle and his Contributions

About Subash Chandra Bose Ji

  • Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945) Ji was a fierce nationalist and was famously called as Netaji because he led the country on the right path.
  • His defiant patriotism made him one of the greatest freedom fighters in Indian history.
  • He was highly patriotic, fiercely intelligent and extremely passionate about the development & future of India.
  • He was also credited with setting up the Indian Army as a separate entity from the British Indian Army –
  • He was Selected for the Indian Civil Services (ICS) but refused to take up service since he did not want to serve the British government.
  • He joined the Indian National Congress in 1921.
  • He was the President of the All India Youth Congress and also the Secretary of the Bengal State Congress.
  • In 1924, he became the CEO of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
  • In 1930, he became the Mayor of Calcutta.
  • Bose authored the book The Indian Struggle
    • Itcovers the Indian independence movement from 1920 to 1942, the book was banned by the British government.
  • He coined the term ‘Jai Hind’ and advocated complete Swaraj and was in favor of the use of force to gain it.
  • He had differences with Gandhi and he wasn’t keen on non-violence as a tool for independence.
  • He died of third-degree burns which he suffered in a plane crash in Taiwan on 18 August 1945.

About Subhash Chandra Bose Ji Role in Indian Independence Struggle and his Contributions

  • He was the Indian National Congress (INC) president twice.
    • Haripura session (1938)
    • Tripuri session (1939)
  • The Bose Ji ideology tilted towards socialism and leftist authoritarianism.
  • He formed the All India Forward Bloc in 1939
    • It is a faction within the Congress.
  • At the start of the Second World War, He protested against the government for not consulting Indians before dragging them into the war.
  • He was arrested when he organised protests in Calcutta for the removal of the monument memorializing the Black Hole of Calcutta.
  • He was released after a few days but was kept under surveillance and then made he escaped from the country in 1941 to Germany via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union.
  • He had previously travelled to Europe and met with Indian students and European political leaders.
  • In Germany, he met with the Nazi leaders and hoped to stage an armed struggle against the British to gain independence.
  • He hoped to befriend the Axis powers since they were against his ‘enemy’, the British.
  • He founded the Indian Legion out of about 4500 Indian soldiers who were in the British army and had been taken prisoners by the Germans from North Africa.
  • In 1943, he left Germany for Japan disillusioned with the lukewarm German support for Azad Hind.
  • Bose’s arrival in Japan revived the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) which had been formed earlier with Japanese help.
  • Azad Hind or the Provisional Government of Free India was established as a government-in-exile with Bose as the head.
  • Its headquarters was in Singapore, the INA was its military.
  • Bose motivated the troops with his fiery speeches. His famous quote is, “Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom!”
  • The INA supported the Japanese army in its invasion of northeast India and also took control of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • However, they were forced to retreat by the British forces following the Battles of Kohima and Imphal in 1944.

-Source: Indian Express


Sri Ramanuja

Context:

Work is going apace on the 216-ft tall statue of the 11th century reformer and Vaishnavite saint, Sri Ramanuja, to be unveiled by Prime Minister at the sprawling 40-acre ashram of Sri Tridandi Chinna Jeer Swamy in Muchintal on the outskirts of Hyderabad on February 5.

Relevance:

GS I- Art and Culture, History

Dimensions of the article:
  1. About Statue of Equality
  2. About Sri Ramanuja
  3. About Bhakti movement

About Statue of Equality

  • It is being installed to mark the 1,000th birth anniversary of Sri Ramanuja.
  • It was built of panchaloha, a combination of gold, silver, copper, brass and zinc, by the Aerospun Corporation in China and shipped to India.
  • It is the second largest in the world in sitting position of the saint.
  • The monument will be surrounded by 108 “Divya Desams” of Sri Vaishnavite tradition (model temples) like Tirumala, Srirangam, Kanchi, Ahobhilam, Badrinath, Muktinath, Ayodhya, Brindavan, Kumbakonam and others.
  • The idols of deities and structures were constructed in the shape at the existing temples.
  • The base building, which is 16.5 metres tall, has a meditation hall where a 54-inch statue of Sri Ramanuja made of 120 kg gold, representing the years he lived, will be inaugurated by President Ramnath Kovind by performing the first puja on February 13.
  • The deity at the inner sanctorum is meant for daily worship by people.

About Ramanuja (c. 1017 – 1137 CE)

  • Ramanuja, reformer and Vaishnavite saint was born at Sriperumbudur near modern Chennai.
  • He preached Vishista Advaitavada (qualified monism).
  • His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.
  • According to him, God is Saguna Brahman (with attributes) and the creative process including all the objects in creation are real and not illusory as was held by Shankaracharya. Therefore, according to Ramanuja, God, soul, and matter are real. However, God is the inner substance and the rest are his attributes. 
  • In Vishista Advaitavada, the universe and Brahman are considered two equally real entities, as in dualism, but here the universe is not separate from Brahman but is formed out of Brahman. The Brahman is considered as a personal god with omniscient qualities who has created the world out of his own self. Thus, the world bears to Brahman the relation of the part to the whole, or the relation of a ‘qualified effect’ to the base (hence qualified monism).
  • The difference between Dualism and Vishista Advaita is that “mankind enjoys higher status than in pure dualistic worship and is nearer to God”. In Vishista Advaita, both the world and Brahman are considered equally real; they are not considered to be two separate entities as in Dualism.
  • Ramanuja advocated prabattimarga or the path of self-surrender to God. He invited downtrodden people to Vaishnavism and advocated salvation by Bhakti.

Important writings include:

  • Vedarthasangraha (literally, “Summary of the Vedas meaning”),
  • Sri Bhashya (a review and commentary on the Brahma Sutras),
  • Bhagavad Gita Bhashya (a review and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita), and
  • The minor works titled Vedantapida, Vedantasara, Gadya Trayam (which is a compilation of three texts called the Saranagati Gadyam, Sriranga Gadyam and the Srivaikunta Gadyam), and Nitya Grantham.
Bhakti Movement
  • Bhakti movement took place in Tamil Nadu between the seventh and ninth centuries.
  • Bhakti saints looked upon religion as love between the worshipped and worshipper.
  • Bhakti was reflected in the emotional poems of the Nayanars (devotees of Shiva) and Alvars (devotees of Vishnu).
  • A more effective method for spreading the Bhakti ideology was the use of local languages. The Bhakti saints composed their verses in local languages.
  • They also translated Sanskrit works to make them understandable to a wider audience.
  • Examples include Kabir, Surdas , Tulsidas, Shankaradeva, Chaitanya Mirabai.

-Source: The Hindu


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