Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 25th August 2023



Today Topics List:

  1. Witch doctors for treatment – Odisha Villagers

  2. 15thBRICS summit.

  3. ICMR Covid study: Mortality rate and comorbidities

  4. What Chandrayaan – 3’s success means for India?



Witch doctors for treatment – Odisha Villagers

    • In the little known Kotinada village in Odisha’s Ganjam district, a significant number of residents made an intriguing request for police permission — to engage the services of witch doctors – Gunia, who, they believe, could ‘heal’ those afflicted with psychological turmoil.
      • This sheds light on the prevailing dominance of superstitions in the rural heartland of Odisha and awareness programmes failing to curb such behaviour among villagers.
    • Police even warned them that if anyone goes against our advice, they are liable to be punished as per Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2013.

Witchcraft related violence:

  • Ganjam, the home district of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is one of the worst-hit regions on account of witchcraft-related violence. 
    • Last year, 33 villagers including 20 women were arrested on allegations of beating a person to death in witchcraft-related attack in Madhurjhol village under Kabirsuryanagar police station limit of the district.
    • Odisha has witnessed around 600 murders in the past 10 years due to people’s belief on sorcery and other practices of blind beliefs. 
  • Now, the State is also recording human sacrifices. Hundreds of villagers have been rendered homeless after facing attack on allegation of practising black magic villagers must have faith in medical sciences not on witch doctors. The education and punitive action under Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2013 should go simultaneously. Moreover, scientific temper must be ingrained in children



15thBRICS summit.

Expansion of BRICS:

  • In a landmark decision, members of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on Thursday declared expansion of the grouping by welcoming six new countries into the fold.
  • At the end of the 15th BRICS summit at Johannesburg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said addition of new members would strengthen the outfit and increase confidence in the idea of multi polar world order.
  • The decision to expand BRICS was taken 13 years after the organisation was last expanded with the addition of South Africa in 2010. 
  • It has added six new countries:
    • Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and UAE.
  • Addition of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is of special significance as the three will represent both flanks of the energy-rich Gulf in the BRICS.
  • Joining the BRICS is also the first time that Iran and Saudi Arabia took a common diplomatic decision months after they normalised relation in April this year.
  • Originally consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, BRICS was envisioned as a global-level outfit of major economies that are playing an increasingly important role in the post-Cold War world order.

Johannesburg Declaration:

  • South Africa the current chair of BRICS, presented Johannesburg Declaration, which called for peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • It also reiterates commitment to inclusive multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 
  • Dilma Roussef, president of the New Development Bank established by BRICS, has submitted a report about the scope of the bank and its vision. 

Bilateral Meetings:

  • Apart from the main BRICS events, PM Modi held bilateral meetings with leaders from Senegal, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Iran.
  • He delivered a speech at BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus dialogue session where he invited the participant countries to join
    • International Solar Alliance, One Sun,
    • One World, One Grid;
    • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure;
    • One Earth, One Health;
    • Big Cat Alliance and
    • Global Centre for Traditional Medicine. 



ICMR Covid study: Mortality rate and comorbidities

    • Indian council of medical research (ICMR), recently published in a report said that nearly 6.5% people hospitalised with Covid-19 died in the following year.

The Study:

  • Based on the data of the hospitalised with moderate or severe disease since 2020 infected with original, delta, or omicron coronavirus variants.
  • The ICMR study defines “post Covid – 19 conditions “ as persistent or new onset of fatigue, breathlessness, or cognitive abnormalities.
    • It could not take the exact definition given by WHO or Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they came out after patient enrolment has already beagun.

The Major findings:

  • It is found that 17.7% of the participants experienced post covid – 19 conditions such as lethargy and breathlessness, and cognitive abnormalities like brain fog and difficulty in concentrating.
  • It is also said that people were nearly three times more likely to die if they experienced these post Covid-19 conditions.
  • Even a single dose of the vaccine before the infection reduced the number of deaths in the one-year period by 60%.

Who was at higher risk of mortality?

  • People with one comorbid condition were more than 9 times likely to die during the year following the infection.
    • Men were 1.3 times more likely to die and
    • Those above the age of 60 years 2.6 times more likely to die.
    • Children between the ages of 0 and 18 were at 5.6 times higher risk of death between the first follow up at four weeks and the follow up at one year mark.
    • The risk was 1.7-fold in the four weeks immediately after hospitalisation.
  • Comorbidities among admitted children are more severe such as malignancies, kidney disorders, haematological disorders and others.
    • Comorbidities are an important risk factors, and people with comorbidities must take all precautions because they are likely to get severe disease and complications.

Long Covid:

  • From the evidence so far, long Covid may happen even in people who have had bouts of mild Covid – 19.
    • The symptoms improve with therapy and pills.
  • It is also being seen as being over diagnosed, any symptoms for which a cause cannot be determined is being attributed to a previous Covid- 19 infection.

What Chandrayaan – 3’s success means for India?

    • Chandrayaan-3’s successful Moon landing is the culmination of a process set in motion years ago, and puts India on the path to having a greater say in space exploration policymaking.

Vikram Sarabhai, the Road to moon Missions:

  • Sarabhai saw space technologies as a tool to fulfil India’s developmental requirements, he forcefully argue that timely, accurate and precise information about our critical resources was essential.
    • Through his passionate advocacy, India became the only country—probably Japan was another— to start a space programme with an entirely peaceful approach to uses of space technology, focussed totally on developmental needs.
    • Though Mr. Sarabhai died in 1971, all his successors in ISRO continued to work on his vision.
    • ISRO built capabilities in remote sensing, communication, broadcasting, meteorology, earth observation, satellite technologies.
  • By the time URR ao left office (1994), much of Sarabhai’s vision had already been realised.
    • The obvious question was what next? How do we take the legacy of Sarabhai forward, and utilise the capabilities built over the previous three decades? It was then ISRO began discussing plans for planetary exploration, with the Moon being the obvious first choice.
    • It was Sarabhai who had insisted that ISRO must develop launch vehicle capabilities. Many countries send satellites these days, very few have launching capabilities. But even in those early days, Sarabhai did not want India to be dependent on others.
    • He argued that since India’s space programme was meant for developmental purposes, we must ensure uninterrupted services from our space assets

Chandrayaan – 3 ‘s Moon Landing: own capability

  • Being a handful of countries with this capability, we are at forefront of the technology and It gives us physical access to another planetary body.
  • We will be part of all decision making related to future planetary explorations and even extraction of resources from space.
    • We are naturally part of the club that formulates these policies. In the past we have suffered by being kept out of such clubs, which denied access to technology in atomic energy, space, and other critical areas


  • ISRO has demonstrated its ability to take the satellite right to the vicinity of the Moon, allow it to go around the Moon, and finally land on the Moon.
    • It becomes a total story in terms of planetary exploration strategy.
    • The one remaining step, of course, is to get a mission to return to earth, and we are already working on that.
    • Gaganyaan (the human spaceflight programme) would demonstrate that capability too.

Evolution of ISRO:

  • ISRO has do new ell to respond to the specific requirements of the times. Its objectives have always remained aligned with the emerging needs and interests of the country.
  • When it had proposed the first Moon mission to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was he who suggested that we name it Chandrayaan-1 and not Chandrayaan, because this should only be the first of the series.
  • Space will play an increasingly strategic role. There is areas on why Indian partnership is being sought after in matters of space.
  • Artem is Accords, the joint mission with NASA, joint missions with other countries like Japan are all happening because India has something meaningful to contribute

Space technologies area very important component of India’s diplomatic outreach. Chandrayaan-3 will reinforce these processes. That is why it is much bigger than a single event, even though it is very remarkable on its own.

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