Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 (DDH2020)
•It is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and supported by partners like Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), MyGov and private players.
•The objective is to identify drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) by in-silico drug discovery.
[a first of its kind national initiative for supporting the drug discovery process.]
Italian Marines Case; India & Italy
•In 2012, Indian police had detained two Italian marines posted on oil tanker Enrica Lexie who had shot at two Indian fishermen on an Indian vessel, apparently mistaking them for pirates operating near the Kerala Coast.
•At that time, India had set up a specially designated court, as ordered by Indian Supreme Court, to determine the applicability of jurisdiction
•After three years, Italy moved the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) seeking for two italian marines to stay in their own country during the trial process and also to stop India from going ahead with its criminal prosecution.
•The ITLOS judgement of 2015 called on Italy and India to suspend all domestic prosecutions arising from the Enrica Lexie Case
•【Recently, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has published an extract of the final award of the ad-hoc tribunal constituted to settle disputes related to the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding Italian marine Case between India and Italy.】
•The tribunal held that the actions of the Italian military officers breached India’s freedom of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90.
•The tribunal also held that India is entitled for payment of compensation in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by captain and crew of ‘St Antony’, the Indian vessel.
Unusually fewer reporting of Diseases other than COVID-19 due to Pandemic
•Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) issues weekly reports on disease outbreaks across the country based on its surveillance network that spans at least 600 districts.
•The neglect of other diseases has been observed by a reduction in the notifications of fresh tuberculosis infections and a general decline in claims under the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme.
•The pandemic needs serious focus, but India cannot afford to ignore other diseases and infections
•The latest weekly report available on the IDSP website from Week 12 (March 16-22) of 2020 records a mere 6 disease alerts across the country.
[An alert is when a sizable number of cases from a region are reported.]
•In Week 11 of 2020, there were 28 alerts, 12 of which were for Covid-19
Request for Qualifications (RFQ) towards privatisation of railways
•Recently, the Ministry of Railways has taken the first step towards privatisation of railways by inviting Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to private players for operation of passenger train services
•Under this at least 151 modern trains will be introduced and 109 pairs of routes will be planned out for private train operations.
•Train sets have to be brought by private operators and maintained by them.
•Fares in private trains will be competitive and prices on other modes of transport like airlines, buses have to be kept in mind while fixing the fares
[The project will bring private sector investment of about Rs. 30,000 crore.]
•Induction of modern technology and reduction in transit time and the demand-supply deficit in train tickets among others
are reasons behind privatisation
Dharma Chakra Day; 4th July 2020
•Ministry of Culture, Government of India in partnership with International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) will celebrate the upcoming Asadha Poornima on 4th July, 2020 as Dharma Chakra Day.
•The day marks Buddha’s first teaching after attaining Enlightenment to the first five ascetic disciples (pañcavargika) on the full-moon day of Asadha at ‘Deer Park’, Ṛiṣipatana in the current day Sarnath, near Varanasi, India
•The auspicious day of Asadha Poornima falls on the first full moon day of the month of Asadha as per Indian sun calendar.
•It is also known as Esala Poya in Sri Lanka and Asanha Bucha in Thailand
•It is the second most sacred day for Buddhists after the Buddha Poornima or Vesak.
【The festivities would start off with chanting of prayers at Sarnath, Varanasi (U.P.) which will be livestreamed, following which the opening event will be shifted to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.】
Continuation of presidency by Vladimir Putin until 2036
•Russian citizens have supported a set of constitutional amendments including continuation of presidency by Vladimir Putin in a recently held referendum in the country
•The Russian Constitution bars more than two consecutive presidential terms.
•The new Constitution doesn’t change the two-term limit in theory, but in practice, it resets Mr Putin’s terms so that it will be the first election under the new Constitution for him, to be held in 2024
•According to the referendum, the current President of Russia Vladimir Putin can stay in power for two more six-year terms (until 2036) after his term expires in 2024.
【The preliminary results released by the Election Commission showed that almost 78% of voters endorsed the amendments, while 21% voted against them. Some 65% voters had turned up to cast their ballots】
•In the past two months, hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
•The cause of the deaths is yet to be established. (However, poaching has been ruled out since the dead elephants were found with tusks)
•Okavango Delta is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean
•The delta covers part of Kalahari Desert and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River.
•Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa.
[Its 70% territory is covered by Kalahari Desert.]
•Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated to be around 130,000.
•It is Africa’s oldest continuous democracy3