Daily Current Affairs | 20th May 2020

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan takes charge as WHO Executive Board chairman

Recently, India has been elected to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Executive Board. It will also be holding a Chairmanship of the Executive Board for the next one year (from May 2020- May 2021).

  • Currently, the chairmanship of the WHO Executive Board is being held by 
  • The proposal to appoint India’s nominee to the executive board was signed by the 194-nation at the 73rd World Health Assembly between 18-19 May, 2020.
  • In 2019, WHO’s South-East Asia group had unanimously decided that India would be elected to the executive board for a three-year-term beginning from May, 2020.
    • WHO Member States are grouped into 6 WHO regionsnamely, African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Western Pacific Region.
  • India has been elected along with 10 other countries including Botswana, Colombia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Oman, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

WHO Executive Board

  • Composition:The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a member state elected to do so by the World Health Assembly.
    • Member States are elected for three-year
  • Chairman:The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups.
    • It is not a full time assignment and the chairman is just required to chair the Executive Board’s meetings.
  • Meeting:The Board meets at least twice a year.
  • Functions:The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.

World Health Assembly

  • The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO.
  • It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
  • The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.
  • The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Covid-19 lockdowns have impacted the global energy sector

Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a report namely, Global Energy Review:2020 which also includes the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions.

  • The imposition of lockdownin several countries has largely restricted transportation such as road and air travel. In turn, the drastic reduction in the global energy demands has been observed.

Global Energy Demands

  • The countries infull lockdown are experiencing an average decline of 25% in energy demand per week, while in those with a partial lockdown, the fall in energy demand is about 18% per week.
  • Global energy demanddeclined by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019.
  • Further, it is expected that the impact of Covid‑19 on energy demand in 2020 would be more than seven times largerthan the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on global energy demand.
  • Considering the above scenario the global demand of various energy sources can be analysed as given below:
    • Coal Demand:
      • It has been declined by 8% compared with the first quarter of 2019.
      • The reasons for such decline include, China – a coal-based economy – was the country hardest hit by Covid‑19 in the first quarter and cheap gas and continued growth in renewables elsewhere challenged coal.
    • Oil Demand:
      • It has declined by 5% in the first quarter, majorly due to curtailment in mobility and aviation, which account for nearly 60% of global oil demand.
      • The report also estimates that the global demand for oil could further drop by 9% on average in 2020, which will return oil consumption to 2012 levels.
    • Gas Demand:
      • The impact of the pandemic on gas demand has been moderate, at around 2%,as gas-based economies were not strongly affected in the first quarter of 2020.
    • Renewables Energy Resources Demand:
      • It is the only source that has registered a growth in demand,driven by larger installed capacity.
      • Further, the demand for renewables isexpected to rise by 1% by 2020 because of low operating costs and preferential access for many power systems.
    • Electricity Demand:
      • It has been declined by 20%during periods of full lockdown in several countries.
      • However, the residential demand is outweighed by reductions in commercial and industrial operations.

Covid-19 and CO2 Emissions

  • Overall, the emissions decline in 2020 could be8% lower than in 2019, which would be the lowest level of emissions since 2010.
  • It is also the largest level of emission reduction — six times larger than witnessed during the 2009 financial crisis,and twice as large as the combined total of all reductions witnessed since World War II.
  • In the first quarter of 2020, the decline in CO2emissions is more than the fall in global energy demand.

India’s Energy Demands

  • India, which is one of the IEA association countries,has experienced a reduction in its energy demands by 30% as a result of the nation-wide lockdown.
  • Moreover, in India, where economic growth and power production are slowing significantly, the demand for coal is expected to decline steeply.
    • China and India are the largest and third-largest electricity users in the world respectively, and coal use is dominant in both these countries shaping the global demand for this fuel.

International Energy Agency

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy.
  • It was established in the wake of 1973 (set up in 1974) oil crisis after the OPEC cartel had shocked the world with a steep increase in oil prices.
  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.
  • World Enegry Outlook reportis released by IEA annually.
  • India became an associate member of the International Energy Agency in 
  • Mexico officially became the International Energy Agency’s 30th member country in February 2018, and its first member in Latin America.

Center for International Climate and Environmental Research

  • It is Norway’s foremost institute for interdisciplinary climate research.
  • It has played an active role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), since 1992.
  • CICERO has a national role in promoting knowledge about climate change and is internationally recognised as a driving force for innovative climate communication.

 

Andhra Pradesh to have Coir Geotextiles roads in rural areas under PMGSY-III 

Recently, the National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency (NRIDA) has announced that coir geo textiles will be used for construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY-III).

  • This would give aboost to the Coir industry hit due to Covid-19
  • NRIDA is an agency under the Ministry of Rural Development.

Geo Textiles

  • These aresynthetic including polyester and polypropylene or man-made materials that have varying degrees of 
    • Permeability means their surfaces have very small openings that allow liquid or gases to pass through.
  • Characteristics of Geo Textile Fabrics:
    • It has the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect and drain when used in association with soils.
    • It drains areas where water pools while keeping soil in place.
    • It serves as effective filters, catching some materials to prevent drains from clogging.
    • It reinforces earthen structures like drains by holding layers in place.
    • It protects against erosion in places like roads and beaches.
  • These functions make Geo Textile fabrics useful in manyindustries, especially construction and civil engineering.
  • Coir Geo Textile:
    • Coir is a 100% natural fiber, obtained from a renewable source – the coconut husk.
    • Coir Geo Textile is naturally resistant to rot, molds and moisture,and free from any microbial attack hence it needs no chemical treatment.
    • It has apermeable, natural and strong fabric with high durability.
    • It protects the land surface and promotes quick vegetation.
    • It is totally biodegradable,and helps in soil stabilisation.
    • It can dissipate the energy of flowing water and absorb the excess solar radiation.
  • PMGSY New Technology Guidelines:
    • The new guidelines encourage locally available materialsand use of green technologies for construction of roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
    • The State Governments are required to propose a minimum 15%of total length of annual road proposals under new technologies such as cement stabilization, Lime stabilization, cold mix, waste plastics, cell filled concrete, paneled cement concrete pavement, fly ash etc.
    • Out of this, 5% roadsare to be constructed using Indian Road Congress (IRC) accredited technology. The IRC has now accredited coir Geo textiles for construction of rural roads.
    • Thus, 5% length of the rural roads under PMGSY-III will be constructed using coir geo textiles.
    • 1674 km roadwill be constructed using Coir Geo textiles in 07 states i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamilanadu and in
    • There will be a requirement ofOne Crore Sq. mtrs of coir geo textiles, estimated cost of which would come to 70 Crore.

Indian Road Congress

  • The Indian Roads Congress (IRC) is the apex body of Highway Engineersin the country.
  • It was set up in December, 1934 on the recommendations of the Indian Road Development Committee also known as Jayakar Committee (under the Chairmanship of Shri M.R. Jayakar) with the objective of road development in India.
  • It works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • It is committed to utilise global best practices and promote the use of cutting edge technologies for construction for the maintenance of roads, bridges and road transportation.
  • It promotes environmental strategy for promotion of cleaner, less energy intensive and less polluting construction techniquesand use of recycled wastes.
  • Indian Road Congress (IRC) accredited technology:
  • The Committee for Accreditation of New Materials and Techniques formed under the aegis of Highway Research Board of Indian Roads Congress gives accreditations to patented or new materials, techniques developed in India and abroad and evaluated as per recognized National/ International Specifications.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana – III

  • The Phase III of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched in 2019.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched to provide connectivity to unconnected habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy.
  • The National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency works to implement the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana across states.
    • The Ministry of Rural Development along with state governments is responsible for the implementation of PMGSY.
  • Under the PMGSY-III Scheme, it is proposed to consolidate 1,25,000 Km road length in the States.
    • It involves consolidation through routes and major rural links connecting habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals.
  • The duration of the third phase is 2019-20 to 2024-25.
  • The funds are shared in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern states and Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand for which it is 90:10.

 

Tripura gets its first international waterway with River Gomti approved as Indo-Bangla protocol route

Recently, the second Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was signed between India and Bangladesh.

  • The Protocol will further facilitate the trade between two countries withimproved reliability and cost effectiveness.
  • Protocol on Transit and Trade:Bangladesh and India have a long standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways.
    • This Protocol was first signed in 1972.
    • It was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years.
  • Second Addendum to the Protocol:The second addendum includes new Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes and declaration of new Ports of Call to facilitate trade between the two countries.
    • Routes:
      • As per the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, inland vessels of one country can transit through the specified routes of the other country. Under the Protocol, 50:50 cargo sharing by Indian and Bangladeshi vessels is permitted both for transit and inter country trade.
      • The number of IBProutes has been increased from 8 to 10.
      • Inclusion of Sonamura-Daudkandi stretch of Gumti river in the Protocol will improve the connectivity of Tripura and adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh’s economic centres.
      • The operationalization of Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi Routeand its extension up to Aricha, Bangladesh will help the augmentation of infrastructure in Bangladesh. It will also decongest the Land Custom Stations on both sides.
    • Port of Call:
      • A port of call is anintermediate port where ships customarily stop for supplies, repairs, or transshipment of cargo.
      • There were six Ports of Call each in India and Bangladesh under the Protocol. These are Kolkata, Haldia, Pandu, Karimganj, Silghat and Dhubari in India and Narayanganj, Khulan, Mongla, Sirajganj, Ashuganj and Pangaon in Bangladesh.
      • Five new ports of call:Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha are on the Indian side while Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad are on the Bangladesh side.
      • Two extended Ports of Calle. Tribeni (Bandel), West Bengal and Badarpur, Assam on Indian side and Ghorasal and Muktarpur on the Bangladesh side.
      • Inclusion of Jogighopa in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan.
      • Multimodal Logistics Park is proposed to be established in Jogighopa.
    • Movement on shallow draft mechanized vessels:
      • It would introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India)through the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels.
      • This would allow export of stone chips and other Bhutanese and North East cargo to Bangladesh.
      • It would give an easy access for the traders to the hinterland of Bangladesh, enhancing the local economy in Bangladesh and the lower Assam region of India.
    • New opportunities on cargo movement:
      • Under this Protocol, Inland vessels of both the countries can work on the designated protocol route and dock, notified for loading/unloading of cargo.
      • The Indian transit cargo is mainly coal, fly-ash, Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) for power projects in North East region.
      • The other potential cargo for movement is fertilizers, cement, food grains, agricultural products, containerized cargo etc.

 

Asia-Pacific drug trade thrives amid the COVID-19 pandemic -UNODC

Recently, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report on ‘Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia: Latest Developments and Challenges’.

  • According to this report, Covid-19induced lockdowns and movement restrictions may lead to an initial statistical reduction in drug seizures, but without a real change in terms of supply.
  • In other words, Covid-19 is unlikely to have any effect on illicit drug supply.
  • Shifting of Priorities:Rearrangement of governments’ priorities and resources to tackle the pandemic could threaten the efforts to strengthen drug prevention and treatment
  • No Direct Correlation: Not every fluctuationin terms of drug seizures, prices, drug-related arrests or deaths in the coming months would be a direct or indirect consequence of the outbreak.
  • Quick and Flexible Response:Active organised crime groups have shown flexibility to respond to shortages of supplies and have raised risk levels on certain trafficking routes.
  • Local Capacities:Main synthetic drug of concern in the region, Methamphetamine (also called meth), was manufactured, trafficked and consumed without the need for globalised supply chains.

Indian Context

  • India reported a substantial increase in seizures of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), most of which are suspected to be meth.
  • The reasons behind the spike are:
    • Growth in trafficking of meth from the Golden Triangle overland to Bangladesh, with some routes crossing India.
    • The Golden Triangle represents the region coinciding with the rural mountains of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.
    • It is Southeast Asia’s main opium-producingregion and one of the oldest narcotics supply routes to Europe and North America.
    • Use of maritime trafficking routes from Myanmar along the Andaman Sea, some of which cross Indian territorial waters.
  • India is in the middle of two major illicit opium production regions in the world, the Golden Crescent in the west and the Golden Triangle in the east.

Golden Crescent

  • This region of South Asia is a principal global site for opium production and distribution.
  • It comprises Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

Challenges

  • Easy Borders:The borders are porous and difficult to control in the lower Mekong region so cross-border movements in many places are not significantly hindered by Covid-19 measures.
  • Evolving Ways of Trafficking:The methods of containerised trafficking, couriers and body-packing have reduced due to shutting down of borders and trade. However, dealers might come up with other ways limiting the impact of reduced trade.
  • Limited Control:There is limited government control in the Golden Triangle, trafficking would continue at high volumes.
  • Unaffected Supply:The supply of precursor chemicals is not likely to be disrupted because major organised crime groups source chemicals through direct diversion from industry and not diversion from illicit overseas trade channels.
  • Lowest Price Level:The price of meth has dropped to the lowest level in a decade with the surge of supplies. This has in turn increased its affordability and, therefore, use.
  • Increased Crime:Changed methods to access drugs and economic hardship might reduce the disposable income of some drug users, and result in increased crime.
    • Street dealing of drugs might be significantly impacted and altered due to movement restriction and social distancing.
  • Additional Risks:Vulnerable populations of drug users may be exposed to additional risks as funding is re-prioritised, access to programmes and services becomes difficult and activities of treatment providers are hampered as they are dealing with the pandemic.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

  • Established in 1997 and was named UNODC in 
  • It acts as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining theUnited Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division of the United Nations Office at Vienna.
  • UNODC publishes the World Drug Report.

Road ahead

  • Additional effortswould be required at the national, regional, and international level to carefully analyse methods and trends to understand changes to drug markets in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Moreover,methods or procedures to deal with illicit drug supply, their usage must be institutionalised in order to ensure that fight against this menace is not compromised in face of a pandemic or any other crisis.

 

GST waiver will make domestic PPEs costlier than Chinese products, advise tax experts

The Ministry of Finance is not in favour of granting Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemption, as has been demanded by various sections of the industry.

  • Providing GST exemption will have serious adverse implications on state finances,also businesses would suffer and consumers would be hit by price rise.
  • Exemption would block Input Tax Credit (ITC)as manufacturers will pay GST on inputs but cannot claim ITC because the final product is tax-free. Thus, it will increase the cost of manufacturing, which will lead to increase in cost of products.
  • The GST exemption will alsoincrease compliance burden for manufacturers who would be required to maintain separate accounts for inputs and goods used for the production of the item.
  • Further, the GST exemption provides incentive for imports,which do not have input taxes as compared to domestic supplies.
    • This makes imported goods cheaper than locally produced goods.
  • In the past when the GST exemption on sanitary napkins was allowed, it had led to similar hardship for domestic manufacturers of sanitary napkins.

Goods and Services Tax

  • Goods and Service Tax (GST) is an indirect taxlevied on the supply of final goods and services. The GST has subsumed indirect taxes like excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT), service tax, luxury tax etc.
  • It is essentially aconsumption tax and is levied at the final consumption point.
  • It is levied only on the value additionand is collected on goods and services at each point of sale in the supply line.
  • The GST that a merchant pays to procure goods or services (i.e. on inputs) can be set off lateragainst the tax applicable on supply of final goods and services. The set off tax is called input tax credit.
  • The GST avoids the cascading effect or tax on taxwhich increases the tax burden on the end consumer.

Benefit of Input Tax Credit

  • Imagine a manufacturer of shirts. He buys raw material or inputs — cloth, thread, buttons, tailoring equipment — worth Rs 100, a sum that includes a tax of Rs 10. With these raw materials, he manufactures a shirt.
  • In the process of creating the shirt, the manufacturer adds value to the materials he started out with. Let us take this value added by him to be Rs 30. The gross value of his good would, then, be Rs 100 + 30, or Rs 130.
  • At a tax rate of 10%, the tax on output (this shirt) will then be Rs 13. But under GST, he can set off this tax (Rs 13) against the tax he has already paid on raw material/inputs (Rs 10).
    • Therefore, the effective GST incidence on the manufacturer is only Rs 3 (13 – 10).
    • 10 is the input tax credit for the manufacturer.

 

UNRWA Calls Indian Aid Of $2 Million For Palestinian Refugees “Commendable”

Recently, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has applauded India’s financial support to keep its basic services operating, under the Covid-19 crisis.

  • The Government of India provided USD 2 millionto the UNRWA in support of its core programmes and services, including education and health.
  • India had increased its annual contribution to the UNRWA from USD 1.25 millionin 2016 to USD 5 million in 2019.
  • It pledged another USD 5 million for 2020 which opens its way to become a member of the agency’s advisory commission.
  • It is also preparing medical supplies for the Palestinians.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency

  • It is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949.
  • It supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees across its five fields of operation.
    • Its services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
  • Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
  • It is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support
  • Palestine refugees are defined as persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.
  • 17 agreements have been signed under an India-Palestine development partnership between the two sides in the fields of agriculture, health care, information technology, youth affairs, consular affairs, women empowerment and media.
    • India would provide an assistance of around USD 72 million through these agreements in projects like the post-2014 war reconstruction efforts in Gaza, construction of schools, setting up a centre of excellence for information and communication technologies at Al-Quds University and developing a satellite centre in Ramallah.
  • In March 2020, a delegation ofUnited Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) visited india intended to engage India in the settling of the question of Palestine.
    • India has reiterated its stand and supported the Two-State solution for the Israel-Palestine issue.
  • In June 2019, India voted in favour of a decision introduced by Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that objected to granting consultative status to a Palestinian non-governmental organization.
  • In June 2018, India had voted in favour of Palestine on the UN General Assembly(UNGA) resolution to investigate an indiscriminate force usage by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians.
  • As a part of Link West Policy, India has de-hyphenated its relationship with Israel and Palestine in 2018 to treat both the countries mutually independent and exclusive.
  • In December 2017, India had criticised the United States vote for recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital at the UNGA vote.
  • In 2014, India favoured UNHRC’s resolution to probe Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza. Despite supporting the probe, India abstained from voting against Israel in UNHRC in 2015.

 

Cyber Virus Stealing Credit Card Details Using COVID-19 Information: CBI

Recently, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent alerts to all the States, Union Territories and the central agencies on a malicious software (cerberus) threat that is taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • The cyber alert related to Cerberus has been sent on the basis of inputs received from the Interpol.
  • Cerberus:It is a Banking Trojan. It is primarily used to steal financial data, such as credit card numbers.
  • Trojan:
    • Trojan is a type of malicious code or software to damage, disrupt, steal, or inflict harmful action on data or network.
    • The Trojan can also use overlay attacks to trick victims into providing personal information and can capture two-factor authentication.
      • Overlay attacks:An overlay attack happens when an attacker places a window over a legitimate application on the device. When the target application is running, the overlay opens messages or data input forms identical to the real ones. Victims enter information (E.g. login credentials or bank card numbers), believing that they are dealing with the original program.
      • Two-factor authentication:It is a two step verification security process in which users go through two authentication processes to verify themselves.
    • Banking Trojan is a malicious program used in an attempt to obtain confidential information about customers and clients using online banking and payment systems.
  • Working of Cerberus
    • It takes advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and sends SMS to lure a user to download the link containing the malicious software.
    • It deploys its malicious application usually spread via phishing campaigns to trick users into installing it on their smartphones.
    • Phishing:The email or text message carrying a link appears to come from a trusted source like a bank.
      • The link takes to a fake website and once details like login name and passwords are entered, the login credentials reach the hacker.

 

IIT Guwahati researchers claim new method to delay onset of Alzheimer’s 

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) have found methods for preventing the accumulation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

  • The cause of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of amyloid-beta peptides(neurotoxic molecules) in the brain.
    • Peptideis similar to the plaque that blocks arteries and affects blood supply, leading to cardiovascular diseases.
    • Peptide aggregation/accumulation means their formation of one over the other, deforming the cortex of the brain which leads to Alzheimer’s.
    • The peptide molecules need to have a certain structure to aggregate.
  • Preventive Methods:
    • Use of Trojan Peptides:
      • In this approach, the purpose is to design a deceitful peptide with “negative syncretical points” for checking the plaque formation.
      • Trojan peptide(deceitful peptide) has the same structure as the peptide in the body but its function is contrary to aggregation.
      • It adopts a similar approach of deceit to impede the aggregation of the amyloid peptide, and reduce poisoning of nerve cells that leads to memory loss.
      • The degeneration of poisoned cells can be delayed by intravenous injection of the trojan peptide, which in turn, can delay the onset of disease by 10 years.
    • Application of a low-voltage electric field:
      • The electric field can prevent amyloid plaques from aggregating.
      • The use of an external electric or magnetic field modulates peptide molecules to pull back the possibility of Alzheimer’s to a certain extent.
    • Earlier Discoveries:
      • In July 2019,an Indian-American scientist at the University of New Mexico developed an early version vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease.
        • Vaccine intervention could rescue memory impairments and prevent neurons from dying by reducing tau tangles.
      • In November 2019, China approved the world’s first multi-targeting and carbohydrate-based drug GV-971 for Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • It is a neurological disorder which causes brain cells to degenerate and die. This leads to loss of memory, problems with words in speaking or writing, poor judgment, changes in mood and personality, confusion with time or place, etc.
    • At the first stage,these symptoms are mild but they become more severe with time.
  • Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
    • Dementiais a group of brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills.
  • Alzheimer’s is caused by the build-up of proteins known as tau tangles or plaques within the brain and is also known as the third type of diabetes.
    • Tauis a protein that when it occurs in tangled formations in the brain of Alzheimer patients, disrupts the ability of neurons to communicate with one another in the brain.
  • Alzheimer’s is anincurable disease, as the death of brain cells cannot be reversed.
  • Women have a higher riskof having Alzheimer’s disease than men.

Road Ahead

  • Around 100 potential drugsfor the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease failed between 1998 and 2011 and now these developments are a big step in the direction.
  • The cure is important forIndia because it stands at the third position after China and the USA in the number of Alzheimer’s patients. Along with cure, India also needs to clearly define public health strategy with a significant focus on research into degenerative diseases and investment in the training of healthcare personnel.

 

Prey, predator estimation: Presence of 115 tigers, 151 leopards in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR)

Recently, a new prey and predator estimation in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra found the presence of 115 tigers and 151 leopards.

  • The estimation was done as part of the long-term monitoring of tigers, co-predators and prey species in TATR inside the core and buffer areas of the reserve.
    • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
    • The Project Tiger aims to foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.
    • The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.
  • The tiger numbers appear to be up but the population density shows a decline
    • Population Density represents the number of animals residing in per unit area.
  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
    • It is located in Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.
    • It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.
    • It is one of India’s 50 “Project Tiger” reserves.
      • Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve was established as the second Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra in 1993-94.
      • The first Tiger Reserve established in the State is Melghat Tiger Reserve(1973-74).
    • It represents Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Teak Forests in the Tiger habitat and has a viable tiger population.
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