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Daily Current Affairs

3-October-2023

1. Medicine Nobel 2023 goes to duo who paved the way for mRNA COVID vaccines.

Topic: GS3.

Context:

  • The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their discoveries related to nucleoside base modification, enabling the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
  • Katalin Karikó is the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

What are mRNA vaccines:

  • mRNA vaccines are a type of vaccine that use messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules to trigger an immune response in the body.
  • mRNA carries genetic instructions from DNA to the cell’s machinery for protein production.
  • The immune system recognizes this foreign protein as a threat and mounts an immune response against it.
  • This immune response includes the production of antibodies and the activation of immune cells, preparing the body to fight the virus if it encounters it in the future.
  • mRNA vaccines do not contain live or weakened viruses, making them safer in terms of not causing the disease they protect against.
  • The mRNA used in these vaccines is synthetic and does not integrate into the recipient’s DNA.
  • mRNA vaccines have been particularly effective in rapidly developing COVID-19 vaccines, showcasing their potential in pandemic response.

2. Counting deaths in India’s prisons

Topic: GS2 – prison reforms.

Context:

  • Suicide has become the leading cause of ‘unnatural’ deaths among Indian prisoners, as per the Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms, with U.P. recording the highest number of suicides between 2017 and 2021.
  • Prison deaths are classified as ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ in the Prison Statistics India (PSI) report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
  • ‘Natural’ deaths in prisons are typically due to ageing and illnesses, while ‘unnatural’ deaths encompass a range of causes, including suicides, assaults, negligence, and accidents.

Reasons for high death rate in Indian prisons:

  • High Suicide Rates: Mental health issues and neglect contribute to a significant number of suicides among inmates.
  • Overcrowding: Prisons often operate beyond capacity, leading to poor conditions and increased tensions.
  • Inadequate Healthcare: Lack of medical facilities and trained staff results in preventable deaths.
  • Neglect: Delayed medical attention and poor care contribute to avoidable deaths.
  • Violence and Assaults: Inmate-on-inmate and staff violence can lead to fatalities.
  • Mental Health Neglect: Insufficient mental health services and stigma contribute to deaths, especially by suicide.
  • Limited Legal Aid: Difficulty accessing legal aid affects medical care and outcomes.
  • Poor Infrastructure: Lack of safety measures and infrastructure increases risks.
  • Inadequate Monitoring: Insufficient oversight contributes to the problem.

What can be the possible solutions?

  1. Recommendations of the Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms:
    • Healthcare Improvement: Invest in healthcare infrastructure within prisons, ensure regular medical check-ups, and increase the number of trained medical staff.
    • Overcrowding Reduction: Implement measures to reduce overcrowding, such as building new facilities, expanding parole and probation programs, and revising sentencing guidelines.
  1. Other reforms required:
    • Mental Health Support: Provide mental health screening and counseling services to inmates to address underlying mental health issues and prevent suicides.
    • Training and Staffing: Recruit and train sufficient staff, including medical personnel, psychologists, and correctional officers, to provide adequate care and support to inmates.
    • Legal Aid: Ensure inmates have access to legal aid to expedite legal processes and improve their overall well-being.
    • Infrastructure Upgrade: Improve prison infrastructure, including safety measures, to minimize risks to inmates.
    • Reporting Transparency: Establish transparent and accurate reporting mechanisms for prison deaths to identify and address issues promptly.
    • Equality and Non-Discrimination: Promote equality and non-discrimination in the criminal justice system to ensure fair treatment for all inmates.
    • Rehabilitation Programs: Implement effective rehabilitation programs to prepare inmates for reintegration into society, reducing their time in prison.
  • Prakash Singh committee recommendations on prison reforms:
    • Separation of Functions: Separate investigative and law and order functions of the police to reduce wrongful arrests.
    • Use of Technology: Implement modern technology for prison management, including CCTV cameras and computerized records.
    • Human Rights Training: Provide human rights training to all prison staff.
    • Adequate Staffing: Recruit sufficient prison staff, including medical personnel and vocational trainers.Rehabilitation and Skills: Focus on rehabilitation and skill development programs for inmates.
    • Legal Aid and Counseling: Offer legal aid and counseling services to inmates.
    • Visiting Committees: Form independent visiting committees to inspect prisons regularly.
    • Revision of Laws: Review and update outdated prison laws.

Mains question: Examine the causes of high death rate in Indian prisons. Suggest comprehensive reforms and strategies to address these issues.

3. IAF likely to induct Astra BVR air-to-air missile by year-end

Topic: GS3 – defence modernisation

Context:

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) has placed contracts with Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) for the indigenous Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air Missile.
  • The first batch of Astra missiles is expected to be inducted by the end of the year.
  • Development is underway for the more advanced Astra-Mk2, which has a longer range.

About Astra BVR air-to-air missile:

The Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile is an indigenous missile developed for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Here are some key points about the Astra missile:

  • Origin: The Astra missile is designed and developed in India, showcasing the country’s indigenous missile technology.
  • Purpose: It is an air-to-air missile designed for Beyond Visual Range engagements, meaning it can target and engage enemy aircraft at considerable distances.
  • Variants: There are different variants of the Astra missile, with Astra-MK1 and Astra-MK2 being prominent versions. Astra-MK2 is known for its advanced features and longer range.
  • Integration: The Astra missile is integrated into various aircraft of the Indian Air Force, including the Su-30MKI and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
  • Reduction of Import Dependency: The IAF aims to equip its fighter aircraft with Astra missiles to reduce dependency on imported missile systems.

4. WHO approves use of malaria vaccine with adjuvant tech

Topic: GS3 – health sector

Context:

  • The R21/Matrix-Mmalaria vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India, leveraging Novavax’s adjuvant technology, was recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

More Information on the news:

  • The vaccine was developed by the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India with support from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
  • The Matrix-M component is a proprietary saponin-based adjuvant from Novavax, which is licensed to the Serum Institute for use in endemic countries, while Novavax retains commercial rights in non-endemic countries.
  • The vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children in clinical trials conducted in Africa.
  • The Serum Institute has already established production capacity for 100 million doses a year, which will be doubled over the next two years.
  • Additional regulatory approvals are expected to follow shortly and vaccine doses could be ready to begin wider roll-out as early as next year.

5. What are the Lagrange points and why is Aditya-L1 headed to one?

Topic: GS3 – Science and technology.

What Are Lagrange points?

  • Lagrange points are regions in space where the gravitational forces of two celestial bodies cancel each other out, allowing a third body to remain relatively stationary.
  • Named after mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Lagrange points are crucial for positioning satellites and observatories in space.
  • Lagrange points exist throughout the solar system due to the gravitational interaction between celestial bodies.
  • There are five Lagrange points, with L1, L2, and L3 being unstable positions along an imaginary line connecting two larger bodies, and L4 and L5 being stable locations forming equilateral triangles with the two larger bodies.
  • L4 and L5 points tend to accumulate interstellar dust and asteroids known as Trojans.
  • Objects at L1, L2, and L3 are unstable and can easily drift away without constant adjustments.
  • Lagrange points play a vital role in space exploration and satellite placement, reducing the challenges of orbital perturbations.
  • Future space colonization and space stations are also being considered at L4 and L5 points due to their stable characteristics.
  • Multiple space missions and observatories are located at various Lagrange points for scientific research and observation.

6. Bihar Caste Census

Topic: Polity and governance

Context:

  • Choosing Gandhi Jayanti to make the announcement, the Bihar government revealed the results of its caste survey, putting the combined OBC strength in the state at 63% which is a 10% leap over their share estimated by the 1931 census, the last time caste enumeration was done in the country.

Details of the census:

  • The Bihar government conducted the caste survey over two phases, after it had to be discontinued in May this year following a set of PILs. The go-ahead finally came in August.
  • According to the data released Bihar’s total population now stands at a little over 13.07 crore, up from 10-odd crore in the 2011 Census.
  • The EBCs makeup 36.01% of this, and OBCs an additional 27.13%.
  • The survey also found that Yadavs are the largest group, accounting for 14.27 % of the total population.
  • The Dalits, or Scheduled Castes, account for 19.65%, higher than expected, while STs comprise 1.68%.
  • Those belonging to the unreserved” category, or the “upper castes”, comprise 15.52 % of the total population.
  • The Muslims, comprise 17.70 % of the population while the other religious minorities have a minuscule presence.

7. Indian scientists hail Nobel for medicine, say mRNA vaccines possible for TB, others.

Topic: Science and tech

Context:

  • Two Scientists, Hungarian born American Katalin Karikó and American Drew Weissman, won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries that enabled the creation of mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 and that could be used to develop other shots in the future.

How this could be useful?

  • Welcoming the news, scientists in India said this approach could be used for the development of vaccines and therapeutics for a variety of other diseases including tuberculosis or dengue.
  • The manner in which cells respond and recognize different mRNA, it can be used to activate the immune system.

Differences in mRNA were attributed to chemical modifications by nucleoside and this differential property was utilised for the development of vaccines during Covid-19

8. Indra Sawhney Case

Topic: Society

Context:

  • The caste survey data released by the Bihar government, which puts the general category population at 15.52%, could once again reopen the debate on the Indra Sawhney ceiling.

About Indra Sawhney case:

  • Indra Sawhney case 1992 ruled that the total reservation for backward classes cannot go beyond the 50% mark.
  • Not only Maharashatra but Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Telangana also exceed the reservation quota above 50%.
  • In 1990, when the V P Singh led-government set out to implement the Mandal report and it was challenged in court.
  • The court in this judgment upheld the 27 % quota that was provided to the Socio-economic Backward classes.
  • The advanced sections among the OBCs (the creamy layer- Economically well-off) should be excluded from the list of beneficiaries of reservation.
  • Limit should not cross 50% except in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, this limit can be crossed.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The State and Central Governments were permitted to reserve seats in government services for SC and ST members thanks to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution.
  • Through the reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies, respectively, Articles 330 and 332 provide for particular representation.
  • In every Panchayat, seats are reserved for SCs and STs under Article 243D.
  • In every Municipality, seats are reserved for SCs and STs under Article 233T.
  • According to article 335 of the constitution, the claims made by STs and STs must be taken into account while maintaining the administration’s effectiveness.

9. WHO approves R21 malaria vaccine for use

Topic: Prelims, GS3-Science and Tech

Context:

  • The R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India, leveraging Novavax’s adjuvant technology, has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO) after meeting required safety, quality and effectiveness standards.

Details:

  • The vaccine was developed by the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and Serum Institute of India with support from European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (‘EDCTP’), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank(‘EIB’).

About Adjuvant Technology:

  • A chemical known as an adjuvant is one that boosts or modifies the immune response to a vaccine.
  • The Latin word adiuvare, which means to help or aid, is where the word “adjuvant” originates.
  • Any agent that, when combined with particular vaccination antigens, acts to hasten, extend, or augment antigen-specific immune responses is referred to as an immunologic adjuvant.
  • For more than 70 years, aluminum salts, including aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, and aluminum potassium sulfate, have been used in vaccinations without harm.

10. China’s lunar mission to carry payload from Pak

Topic: Prelims

Context:

  • China’s next lunar mission scheduled for 2024 will also carry a payload from Pakistan, as the two all-weather friends step up cooperation in the space sector.

About Chang’e-6 Lunar mission:

  • The Chang’e-6 lunar mission is currently undergoing research and development work as planned.
  • The Chang’e-6 mission, with the launch scheduled for 2024, is tasked with bringing back samples from the far side of the moon.
  • Till date, all 10 lunar sampling missions conducted by humans have taken place on the near side of the moon.

What is the far side of the moon?

  • The far side is generally older and contains the Aitken Basin, one of the three major lunar landforms, making it of scientific value.
  • The Chang’e-6 mission aims at landing on the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side to explore and collect lunar samples from different regions and ages.

Payloads and Satellites of other countries:

To promote international cooperation, the Chang’e-6 mission will carry payloads and satellite projects from different countries and regions:

  • France’s DORN radon detection instrument,
  • European Space Agency’s negative ion detector,
  • Italy’s laser retro reflector,
  • Pakistan’s CubeSat

 

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