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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 22 May 2021

Contents

  1. Kyasanur forest disease: ICMR develops new test
  2. Social Justice Ministry: Financial aid to transgender people
  3. Declare mucormycosis an epidemic, Centre tells States
  4. Israel-Hamas reach truce after 11 days of fighting

Kyasanur forest disease: ICMR develops new test

Context:

A new point-of-care test developed by ICMR-National Institute of Virology has been found to be highly sensitive in the rapid diagnosis of Kyasanur forest disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever, which is an emerging public health problem in the country.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology, GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Kyasanur Forest disease
  2. About the new Point-of-care Test by ICMR-NIV

About the Kyasanur Forest disease

  • Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) is a tick-borne viral haemorrhagic (accompanied by or produced by loss/escape of blood from a broken blood vessel, either inside or outside the body) fever ENDEMIC TO SOUTH-WESTERN PART OF INDIA.
  • The disease is caused by a virus belonging to the family Flaviviridae.
  • KFDV is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected hard ticks (Haemaphysalis spinigera) which act as a reservoir of KFDV.
  • Patients may experience abnormally low blood pressure, and low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell count.
  • A variety of animals are thought to be reservoir hosts for the disease, including porcupines, rats, squirrels, mice, and shrews.
  • Monkeys are the main amplifying hosts for KFD virus and they are also sufferers, hence, the name Monkey Fever.
  • Man is a terminal host and there no human-to-human transmission because the human domestic environment does not sustain the ticks.
  • Prevention is by vaccination, as well as preventive measures such as protective clothing and tick population control.

About the new Point-of-care Test by ICMR-NIV

  • A new point-of-care test, developed by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology, is made for diagnosis of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD).
  • It would be beneficial for the diagnosis of KFD as the outbreaks mainly happen in remote areas, where there is lack of well-equipped sample handling and laboratory testing facilities.
  • It would be useful in quick patient management and controlling further spread of the virus.
  • It includes a battery-operated Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analyser, which is a portable, lightweight and universal cartridge-based sample pre-treatment kit and nucleic acid extraction device that aid in sample processing at the point of care.

-Source: Indian Express


Social Justice Ministry: Financial aid to transgender people

Context:

  • The Social Justice Ministry would give transgender persons a one-time financial assistance of ₹1,500 at a time that livelihoods have been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Immediate subsistence assistance to trans persons would be given through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), for which beneficiaries can register with the National Institute of Social Defence (NISD).

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Government Intervention and Policies), GS-I: Indian Society (Issues in Indian Society, Social Issues related to Gender Discrimination and Developments in Indian Society)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are Transgenders?
  2. Major Initiatives Related to Transgenders
  3. National Institute of Social Defence (NISD)

Who are Transgenders?

The term ‘Transgender’ refers to those who don’t identify themselves completely with either of the dichotomous genders – male/female.

The American Psychological Association and World Professional Association for Transgender Health define them as ‘people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as man or woman) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex.

This grouping constitutes a significant minority, estimated to be around 25 crores globally in number.

They are non-heterosexual individuals.

What is the difference between Sex and Gender?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has clearly demarcated the difference between these often interchangeably used terms.

According to WHO, Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women while Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behavior, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

Major Initiatives Related to Transgenders

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act

  • The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes transmen and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.
  • According to the Act, a Certificate of identity for Transgender persons can be obtained by the transgender person by making an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
  • The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to:
    1. Education, employment, healthcare.
    2. Access to or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public.
    3. Right to movement, right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property.
    4. Opportunity to hold public or private office.
    5. Access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
  • The Bill also seeks to provide rights of health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centers, and sex reassignment surgeries.
  • It also states that the government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
  • It calls for establishing a National Council for Transgender persons (NCT).
  • It states that the offences against transgender persons will attract imprisonment between six months and two years, in addition to a fine.

National Council for Transgender Persons

  • The National Council for Transgender Persons is India’s First and is a Statutory Body since it is formed under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
  • It is constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The main aim of the National Council for Transgender Persons is to mainstream the transgender community’s concerns, focusing on livelihood issues as well as to raise awareness about the trans community, so that transgender persons are accepted within families and in the larger society.
  • Another aim is to ensure that transgender welfare boards are set up in all States and essential needs of the transgender community, like housing, food, healthcare and education are met.
  • Functions of the National Council for Transgender Persons are:
    1. Advising the Central government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons.
    2. Monitoring and evaluating the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons.
    3. Reviewing and coordinating the activities of all the departments.
    4. Redressing grievances of transgender persons.
    5. Performing such other functions as prescribed by the Centre.

Judgements of the Supreme Court:

  1. National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) v. Union of India, 2014: The SC declared transgender people to be a ‘third gender’.
  2. Read down the Provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (2018): The SC decriminalised same-sex relationships.

National Institute of Social Defence (NISD)

  • National Institute of Social Defence (NISD) is an Autonomous Body and is registered under Societies Act XXI of 1860 with the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT), Delhi.
  • It is a central advisory body for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • It is the nodal training and research institute in the field of social defence.
  • It currently focuses on human resource development in the areas of drug abuse prevention, welfare of senior citizens, beggary prevention, transgender and other social defence issues.

-Source: The Hindu


Declare mucormycosis an epidemic, Centre tells States

Context:

The Union government has asked the States to declare mucormycosis, the fungal infection being reported in COVID-19 patients, an epidemic.

An infection called white fungus or Candidiasis has also been found to affect some people and Covid-19 patients are more prone to white fungus as it affects the lungs and similar symptoms are created like that of coronavirus.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology, GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Endemic, Epidemic and Pandemic?
  2. About Black Fungus
  3. About White Fungus

What is Endemic, Epidemic and Pandemic?

  1. Endemic: a disease that exists permanently in a particular region or population. Malaria is a constant worry in parts of Africa.
  2. Epidemic: An outbreak of disease that attacks many peoples at about the same time and may spread through one or several communities.
  3. Pandemic: When an epidemic spreads throughout the world.
  4. Sporadic: Refers to a disease that occurs infrequently and irregularly.

About Black Fungus

  • Mucormycosis, also known colloquially as “black fungus”, a rare but serious fungal infection, is being detected relatively frequently in Covid-19 patients across India.
  • It is caused by a group of moulds (fungus) known as mucormycetes present naturally in the environment.
  • It mainly affects people who are on medication for health problems that reduces their ability to fight environmental pathogens, say experts from the Covid-19 task force task force.
  • Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after they inhale fungal spores from the air.
  • Warning signs include pain and redness around the eyes or nose, with fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits, and altered mental status.
  • While it is treated with antifungals, mucormycosis may eventually require surgery. Doctors have said that it is of utmost importance to control diabetes, reduce steroid use, and discontinue immunomodulating drugs.

About White Fungus

  • White Fungus or Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by a yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida. The most common species that causes infection is Candida albicans.
  • Candida normally lives on the skin and inside the body, in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina, without causing any problems.
  • Candida can cause infections if it grows out of control or if it enters deep into the body (for example, the bloodstream or internal organs like the kidney, heart, or brain).
  • This infection can be caused due to low immunity, or if people come in contact with things that contain these moulds like water, etc.
  • Children and women are more at risk of contracting the fungal infection.
  • Like the black fungus, white fungus is also more likely to afflict people with compromised immune systems, pre-existing medical conditions, AIDS, a recent kidney transplant or diabetes.
  • People experience symptoms similar to Covid if it reaches the lungs such as chest infection, despite testing negative for the virus.
  • White fungus affects the lungs as well as other parts of the body including the nails, skin, stomach, kidney, brain, private parts and mouth.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu


Israel-Hamas reach truce after 11 days of fighting

Context:

A truce between Israel and Hamas took hold on 21 May 2021, after the worst violence in years, with U.S. President Joe Biden pledging to salvage the devastated Gaza Strip and the UN urging new Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

 

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Developments in the International Stage)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What led to the ceasefire?
  2. Did Israel achieve its goals?
  3. What was Hamas’s strategy?
  4. What does the future hold?

Click Here to read all about the Israel-Palestine conflict and India’s stand on the Conflict

Click Here to read more about the understanding the territory of the region: West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem

What led to the ceasefire?

  • Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and militant rocket attacks on Israeli towns ceased after 11 days under an agreement mediated by Egypt but with negotiations to maintain stability still to be held, it was unclear how long it would last.
  • Unlike in 2014, when the last major fighting between Israel and Hamas occurred, the Israeli troops were wary of launching a ground invasion this time and this time, the focus of Israel’s military campaign, which started on May 10, was on leaving maximum damage to Hamas’s militant infrastructure through airstrikes.
  • In the first 10 days of the fighting, Israel carried out more than 1,800 airstrikes on Gaza, according to the UN. But one issue with offensives that are heavily focused on air power is that they need a quicker exit strategy.
  • Airstrikes will leave disproportionate civilian casualties. And disproportionate airstrikes, which was Israel’s strategy, will have even greater damage, inviting international pressure.
  • While Israel tried to sell the narrative that it’s a victim of terror (which has buyers), the fact remains that Israel is the only sovereign power in this conflict, which continues the occupation of Palestinian territories in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, international laws and norms.
  • So, when civilian casualties mounted in Gaza, even those countries that initially supported Israel’s “right to defend itself” started calling for a ceasefire.

Did Israel achieve its goals?

  • During the course of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there were two ways to deal with Hamas — one, to conquer Hamas and the other to establish deterrence. The Prime Minister said his aim was “forceful deterrence”, but conquering was “an open possibility”.
  • Israeli military leaders have claimed that they have killed more than 200 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. However, Gaza Health Ministry says more than 200 civilian Gazans were killed in Israeli strikes, including 66 children.
  • Israel has also claimed that it has destroyed Hamas’s elaborate tunnel network and military and intelligence infrastructure.

What was Hamas’s strategy?

  • As soon as the ceasefire was announced, Palestinians took to the streets “celebrating the resistance”.
  • Militarily, Hamas, despite the heavy losses it suffered, demonstrated its growing rocket fire capabilities as Hamas launched at least 4,000 rockets in 11 days.
  • By launching barrages of rockets within minutes, it also managed to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.

What does the future hold?

  • In 2014, after the ceasefire was announced, Israel attempted to assassinate Hamas’s shadowy military commander Mohammed Deif, but failed. It was followed by more rocket attacks.
  • Ceasefires can be fragile and this time too, the truce is tenuous.
  • Hamas says it accepted truce after Israel promised “to lift their hands off Sheikh Jarrah (where Palestinians face eviction from their houses) and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli side has denied any such promise and emphasised that the ceasefire was unconditional.
  • The Supreme Court of Israel is supposed to give a final ruling on the eviction of Palestinians in the neighbourhood. If Israel goes ahead with the eviction process, there could be more protests and violence.
  • Israeli leaders say there won’t be lasting peace as long as Hamas has rockets. Hamas says there will be rockets as long as the occupation continues.

-Source: The Hindu

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