Current Affairs & General Studies For UPSC Prelims & Manis: June 15-13

3 States Yet To Reply On Labour Law Changes

More than a month after the Parliamentary Committee on Labour wrote to eight State governments seeking explanation on the changes brought to the labour laws during the extended lockdown, three BJP-ruled States — Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — have not responded, despite two reminders from the committee.

The three States have effected the most significant changes, suspending the majority of the labour laws for a period of up to three years.

A total of 13 State governments had diluted the labour laws in May, with eight of them raising the daily working hours from eight to 12.

Source: The Hindu (June 15)

Nepal Passes Amendment On New Map

The Lower House of Nepal’s Parliament on June 13 unanimously voted for the Second Constitution Amendment Bill, which guarantees legal status for the new political map of the country that includes part of Indian territory in Uttarakhand.

The territorial dispute stems from the fact that Nepal claims the land to the east of river Kali, which forms the country’s western border. As per Kathmandu’s understanding, the river originates from Limpiyadhura in the higher Himalayas, giving it access to a triangular-shaped land defined by Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh and Kalapani. India opposes the notion and says the origin of the river is much further down, which reduces Nepal’s territorial demand.

Source: The Hindu (June 14)

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

Line of Actual Control (LAC) involves India and China. It is different from Line of Control (LoC) that separates India and Pakistan. They are different in one crucial way. With Pakistan, India has an international boundary, which has been agreed upon, and the LoC, which has been delineated on a map by both sides. In contrast, the alignment of the LAC has never been agreed upon, and it is has neither been delineated nor demarcated. There is no official map in the public domain that depicts the LAC.

When India and China signed the landmark Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA) in 1993, the first legal agreement that recognised the LAC, they avoided this problem by referring to the LAC at the time, and not the LAC of 1959, 1960 or 1962, all of which had different meanings.

Source: The Hindu (June 14)

Vaccine Technology

Vaccine technology has significantly evolved in the last decade, including the development of several RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA vaccine candidates, licensed vectored vaccines, recombinant protein vaccines and cell-culture-based vaccines.

The core principles of ensuring safety and efficacy of the vaccine for use in humans remain unchanged. While technology might have quickened some of the processes, the trials for the vaccine need to stick by these principles.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the general stages of the development cycle of a vaccine are: exploratory stage, pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control. If vaccine candidates do make it to the third stage, clinical development is a three-phase process.

It says: “During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety.”

If a vaccine is approved by a licensing agency, then it can move into the manufacturing stage, but constant monitoring of the process and quality control measures must be put in place.

Source: The Hindu (June 14)

Rattans

Rattans are climbing spiny palms, with about 600 species belonging to 13 genera, that are distributed all over the world. They are found in a number of countries and regions ranging from Australia to West Africa.

Rattans are an integral part of the tropical forest ecosystem. The numerous pinnate leaves (leaves growing on both sides of a common axis), with a length of about two metres, intercept the splash effect of rains and improve the water-holding capacity of the soil. They play a key role in enriching the soil through their leaf litter.

  • The fruits are also relished by monkeys, squirrels and birds.
  • Rattans are important in handicraft and furniture-making because of their unique characteristics such as strength, durability, looks and bending ability. As they possess high value and social and economic importance, they are regarded as ‘Green Gold’.
  • Tamil Nadu is home to a number of rattan species of which Calamus rotang is found in all districts of the state. Other species grow only in the Western Ghats spread over the districts of Coimbatore, Dindigul, Kanyakumari, Nilgiri and Tirunelveli.  

Source: Down To Earth Scan

Muskrat Decline In North America

  • Many factors may have caused the decline of muskrats across North America, a new study by Pennsylvania State University has said.
  • The muskrat is a species of semiaquatic rodent native to North America and has also been introduced to other continents.

Source: Down To Earth Scan

International Albinism Awareness Day

International Albinism Awareness Day is observed every year on June 13 to highlight the rights of those born with albinism and increase awareness of the genetic condition. The theme gains significance this year since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in the spread of misinformation against those who have albinism.

The physical appearance of those with albinism is often conflated with erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, something that furthers marginalisation and social exclusion, leading to stigma and discrimination.

  • Albinism — a rare disease, according to the National Institutes of Health — is characterised by a lack of melanin pigment in skin, hair and eyes. Those with albinism are vulnerable to sun exposure, something that increases chances of skin cancer and severe visual impairment.
  • Albinism is widespread among animals as well and is caused by the absence of melanin in their bodies.

Source: Down To Earth Scan

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