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Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 8 May, 2021

Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

1. Pune Metro Rail project

Why in news?

The Government of India (GoI) and European Investment Bank (EIB) on 7 May, 2021 signed the finance contract for the second tranche of Euro 150 million for the Pune Metro Rail project through a virtual signing ceremony.

Key points are:

– The signing ceremony was held in the presence of H.E. Mr. Francisco Andre, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Portugal and H.E. Mr. Werner Hoyer, President EIB.

– K. Rajaraman, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, signed the loan on behalf of the Government of India, and Mr. Christian Kettel Thomsen, a Vice-President, signed the loan on behalf of EIB.

– EIB had approved the total loan of Euro 600 million to fund the Pune Metro Rail project. The Finance Contract for the first tranche of Euro 200 million was signed between GoI and EIB on 22.7.2019.

– The project aims to provide an efficient, safe, economic, and pollution-free Mass Rapid Transit System in a densely populated areas in the city of Pune served with heterogeneous traffic options.

– The financing from EIB will help to fund the construction and operation of Corridor 1 (North-South) – Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to Swargate and Corridor 2 (West-East) –Vanaz (Kothrud) to Ramvadi, totaling about 31.25 kilometers (km) and related purchase of a related fleet of metro cars.

– Further, the project will serve a large population consisting working class in providing urban mobility for their livelihood. The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MAHAMETRO) is the implementing agency for this project.

Daily Gist of 'The Hindu', 'PIB', 'Indian Express' and Other Newspapers: 8 May, 2021_40.1

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2. DCGI approves anti-COVID drug developed by DRDO for emergency use

Why in news?

An anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad.

Key points are:

– Clinical trial results have shown that this molecule helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence.

– Higher proportion of patients treated with 2-DG showed RT-PCR negative conversion in COVID patients. The drug will be of immense benefit to the people suffering from COVID-19.

– Pursuing Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s call for preparedness against the pandemic, DRDO took the initiative of developing an anti-COVID therapeutic application of 2-DG.

– In April 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, INMAS-DRDO scientists conducted laboratory experiments with the help of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and found that this molecule works effectively against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and inhibits the viral growth.

– Based on these results, the Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI) Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) permitted a Phase-II clinical trial of 2-DG in COVID-19 patients in May 2020.

– The DRDO, along with its industry partner DRL, Hyderabad, started clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in COVID-19 patients. In Phase-II trials (including dose-ranging) conducted from May to October 2020, the drug was found to be safe in COVID-19 patients and showed significant improvement in their recovery.

– Phase IIa was conducted in six hospitals and Phase IIb (dose-ranging) clinical trial was conducted at 11 hospitals all over the country. Phase-II trial was conducted on 110 patients.

– Inefficacy trends, the patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than Standard of Care (SoC) on various endpoints.

– A significantly favourable trend (2.5 days difference) was seen in terms of the median time to achieving normalisation of specific vital signs parameters when compared to SoC.

– Based on successful results, DCGI further permitted the Phase-III clinical trials in November 2020. The Phase-III clinical trial was conducted on 220 patients between December 2020 to March 2021 at 27 COVID hospitals in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.

– The detailed data of the phase-III clinical trial was presented to DCGI. In the 2-DG arm, a significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence (42% vs 31%) by Day-3 in comparison to SoC, indicating an early relief from Oxygen therapy/dependence.

– The similar trend was observed in patients aged more than 65 years. On May 01, 2021, DCGI granted permission for the Emergency Use of this drug as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.

– Being a generic molecule and analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in plenty in the country.

– The drug comes in powder form in sachet, which is taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.

– In the ongoing second COVID-19 wave, a large number of patients are facing severe oxygen dependency and need hospitalisation. The drug is expected to save precious lives due to the mechanism of operation of the drug in infected cells. This also reduces the hospital stay of COVID-19 patients.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 7 May, 2021

3. Indo-US Dialogue on Public Health

Why in news?

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally interacted with Mr. Xavier Becerra, US Secretary of Health & Human Services on 7 May, 2021.

Key points are:

– In agreement with Mr. Becerra’s propositions, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Both nations have developed a strong collaboration in the area of public health which extends to build and enhance the co-operation and support in the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

– In this regard, he also observed, “It is highly appreciable to learn that the statements of solidarity between us are quickly manifesting as practical forms of support to enhance healthcare support and fight the pandemic. We are thankful and highly appreciate the support of the United States of America for medical supply.”

– Secretary Becerra recounted the crisis in his country brought about by COVID-19 and expressed his empathy towards the suffering of Indians. He also assured of President Biden’s unwavering commitment to engage, collaborate and fight COVID-19 together.

– Shri Lav Agarwal, Jt. Secretary (International Health Co-operation), India, Dr. Rochelle Paula Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Administrator, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, USA, Dr. Loyce Pace, Executive Director of the Global Health Council and Member, President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, USA, Ms. Sarah Desperes, Counsellor to the Health Secretary, USA, Dr. Preetha Rajaraman, U.S. Health Attaché for India were also present at the meeting.

What is 5G, its testing and claims linked with COVID-19?

4. Global Methane Assessment

Why in news?

The United Nations recently launched the Global Methane Assessment. It was released by Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme. The Climate Clean Air Coalition is a global partnership of governments and non-state partners

Key points are:

– The report says that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by 45% in 2020-30. These reductions will help to avoid 0.3 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2045.

– The Global Methane Assessment identifies solutions that is capable of reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. These solutions mainly target the fossil fuel sector. They are as follows:

– The potential to reduce methane levels are the highest in the waste sector in India and Europe.

– In China, the potential is in livestock and coal production.

– In Africa, it is in livestock and oil and gas.

– Apart from these targeted measures, additional measures such as renewable energy, reduction in food loss and waste, increasing residential and commercial energy efficiency will help to reduce methane emissions

– Methane is responsible for 30% of warming since the pre-industrial era.

– The human-caused methane emissions come from oil and gas processing, fossil fuels, landfills and waste, and agriculture.

– In spite of the economic slow down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that the amount of methane in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2020.

– Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries. Unlike Carbon Dioxide, methane breaks down quickly. Meaning, very few actions can rapidly reduce the rate of global warming caused by methane.

– Methane accounts to one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Daily Gist of 'The Hindu', 'PIB', 'Indian Express' and Other Newspapers: 8 May, 2021_50.1

5. NPCI refuses to ban cryptocurrency trades in India

Why in news?

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has refused to ban cryptocurrency transactions. Further, it has put the onus on banks whether to ban transactions of cryptocurrency trades or not. It told banks to take a decision based on the advice of their legal and compliance departments.

Key points are:

– The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) serves as an umbrella body for the operation of retail payment in India.

– This organization was established by the Reserve Bank of India along with the Indian Bank’s Association under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

– Presently, NPCI is promoted by ten major promoter banks.

NPCI can operate the following payment systems:

National Financial Switch (NFS).

Immediate Payment System (IMPS).

Affiliation of RuPay Cards (debit cards/ prepaid cards) issued by banks and co-branded credit cards issued by non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) or any other entity approved by the RBI.

National Automatic Clearing House (ACH).

Aadhaar Enabled Payments System (AEPS).

Operation of Cheque Truncation System.

– NPCI’s decision is based on the Supreme Court’s March 2020 ruling which set aside a directive by the Reserve Bank of India from April 2018 to ban banks and finance companies for “dealing in virtual currencies or providing services to facilitate” anyone trading in crypto.

– NCPI has not blocked the trades given that the RBI did not come out with any directive following the Supreme Court ruling.

It is in demand because:

– Funds transfer between two parties will be easy without the need of third party like credit/debit cards or banks.

– It is a cheaper alternative compared to other online transactions.

– Payments are safe and secured and offer an unprecedented level of anonymity.

– Modern cryptocurrency systems come with a user “wallet” or account address which is accessible only by a public key and pirate key.

– The private key is only known to the owner of the wallet.

– Funds transfer are completed with minimal processing fees.

6. G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meet

Why in news?

Recently, Foreign Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries (USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) held a meeting in London, UK. The 47th G7 Summit will be held in June 2021. The UK is the host country.

Key points are:

– Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa, and the Chair (Brunei Darussalam) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa will also join the G7 Summit in June.

– Russia’s Irresponsible and Destabilising Behaviour: This includes the large build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally annexed Crimea.

– Related to China: Human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and in Tibet, especially the targeting of Uyghurs, members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.

– Called on China to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms (Basic Law).

– Condemned the military coup in Myanmar.

– Support for the centrality of ASEAN on the Indo-Pacific.

– Reiterated the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific which is inclusive and based on the rule of law, democratic values, territorial integrity, transparency, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

– International Rules-based Order: This can be described as a shared commitment by all countries to conduct their activities in accordance with agreed rules that evolve over time, such as international law, regional security arrangements, trade agreements, immigration protocols, and cultural arrangements.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

Cryptocurrency work on blockchain technology. Examples are Bitcoin, Ethereum etc.

IAS Prelims Mock-Test 2021 – Set 144, 7th May

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