Shanghai Cooperation Summit | National Security
Delta Plus Variant | Covid 19
Kabir Das Jayanthi
#GS2 #Civilservices #E-Governance
Context: Former Infosys CEO S D Shibu Lal has been appointed chairperson of a three-member task force formed to help the government in bringing major bureaucratic reforms through its ambitious “Mission Karmayogi”.
- The task force has been constituted to draw a clear road map for the guidance and operationalization of the ‘Karmayogi Bharat’ and the constitution of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
- It will be set up under section 8 of Companies Act, 2013 as a 100% government-owned entity.
- The SPV will be responsible to deliver and manage design, implement, enhance and manage a digital platform and infrastructure, manage and deliver competency assessment services, and manage governance of telemetry data and ensure provision of monitoring and evaluation.
- The task force shall submit its recommendations on organizational structure for the SPV aligning its vision, mission and functions.
About Mission Karmayogi:
- It is aimed at building a future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of New India.
- It aims to prepare Indian civil servants for the future by making them more creative, constructive, imaginative, proactive, innovative, progressive, professional, energetic, transparent, and technology-enabled.
Features of the scheme:
- Tech-Aided: The capacity building will be delivered through iGOT Karmayogi digital platform, with content drawn from global best practices.
- Coverage: The scheme will cover 46 lakh central government employees, at all levels, and involve an outlay of Rs. 510 crores over a five-year period.
- Shift from Rules to Roles: The programme will support a transition from “rules-based to roles-based” Human Resource Management (HRM) so that work allocations can be done by matching an official’s competencies to the requirements of the post.
- Integrated Initiative: Eventually, service matters such as confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignments and notification of vacancies will all be integrated into the proposed framework.
Institutional framework and implementation of the programme:
- PM led Public Human Resources (HR) Council to approve and monitor Civil Service Capacity Building Plans.
- Capacity Building Commission to harmonize training standards, create shared faculty and resources, and have supervisory role over all Central Training Institutions.
- Wholly owned Special Purpose Vehicle to own and operate the online learning platform and facilitate world-class learning content market-place.
- Coordination Unit headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
iGOT- Karmayogi platform:
- iGOT stands for Integrated Govt. Online training’ (iGOT).
- It is a portal on the Ministry of HRD’s DIKSHA platform for the purpose of capacity building.
- iGOT-Karmayogi is a continuous online training platform, which would allow all government servants from assistant secretary to secretary level to undergo continuous training, depending on their domain areas.
- All kinds of Courses from international universities will be made available on the platform for officers to take.
- The platform is expected to evolve into a vibrant and world-class market place for content, where carefully curated and vetted digital e-learning material will be made available.
- Besides capacity building, service matters like confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignment and notification of vacancies etc. would eventually be integrated with the proposed competency framework.
Shanghai Cooperation Summit | National Security Advisor(NSA)
#GS2 #International Organizations #GS3 Security
Context: National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has proposed an action plan against terrorist groups in Shanghai Cooperation organization’s NSAs meet.
- He attended an in-person meeting of top security officials of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on Wednesday.
- Where he pitched for an “action plan” against Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed under the framework of eight-nation grouping SCO and called for expeditiously bringing the perpetrators of terror attacks to justice.
Action Plan Proposed:
- He underlined the need to monitor new technologies used by terrorists, including drones, for smuggling of weapons and misuse of dark Web, artificial intelligence, blockchain and social media.
- Adoption of international standards to counter terror financing including an MOU between SCO and Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
- He pushed for greater connectivity that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity through initiatives like Chabahar (port in Iran), the INSTC (International North South Transport Corridor), Regional Air Corridors, Ashgabat Agreement (on connectivity between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf) which will always leads to economic gains and building trust.
- He also strongly condemned terrorism in all forms and manifestations and emphasised on the need for the full implementation of UN resolutions and targeted sanctions against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities.
- He demanded that perpetrators of terrorism including cross-border terror attacks should be expeditiously brought to justice.
- He advocated for top priority to the welfare of Afghans and pledged India’s support to SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):
- It is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation.
- It’s a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
- It’s creation was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
- It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St.Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003.
- The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.
- The Chairmanship of SCO is by rotation for a year by Member States.
- The organisation has two permanent bodies:
- The SCO Secretariat based in Beijing.
- The Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
- The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.
- Eight member states: India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- Four observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia
The SCO’s main goals are as follows:
Strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
#GS2 #Government Policies and Intervention
Context: Recently, the Prime Minister of India interacts with Toycathon 2021 participants through video conference and urged people to be “Vocal for local toys”
Highlights of Prime minister’s address:
- He urged people to promote local toys as global toy market is worth nearly $100 billion, of which, India contributes only around $1.5 billion and India imports around 80 per cent of our toys from abroad.
- Emphasizing on the importance of toys, the prime minister suggested “we should focus on developing games, which present every aspect of Indianness in interesting, interactive ways”.
- The Prime Minister also made an appeal to the country’s youth with regard to self-reliance and coming up with local solutions in the world of toys and digital gaming.
- It was jointly launched by the Education ministry, Women and child development, Textile ministry, Department for promotion of textile and internal trade, Information and broadcasting ministry, MSME ministry and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on January 5 this year to crowd-source innovative toys and game ideas.
- Main aim was to conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate positive behaviour and good value among the children.
- To promote India as a global toy manufacturing hub (Atmanirbhar Bharat).
- Based on: Indian culture and ethos, local folklore and heroes, and Indian value systems.
- Participants: Students, teachers, start-ups and toy experts.
- Prize: Participants can get prizes upto Rs. 50 lakhs.
Some Interesting Ideas presented:
- Team Eyecognito’s Aura AI – gamifies the ancient art of Yoga using VR and AR technology.
- Another team, Heritage Race, presented a game which creates a virtual environment where the participant can cycle through the heritage paths such as Taj Mahal while using a steady cycling machine at home.
- Students of Delhi Public School, Miyapur, Hyderabad, came up with Kreedavyuh, a board game that combines concepts of modern and Vedic math for students of all ages and visually impaired students.
- Toys can play a big role in highlighting India’s capabilities, art and culture and society to the world.
- India’s domestic market as well as the global toy market offers a huge opportunity to our manufacturing sector.
- It is aimed at boosting the Toy Industry in India to help it capture a wider share of the toy market,
- Toys can be an excellent medium to further the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’.
- It will help reduce imports.
- Toy industry has its own small-scale industry, artisans comprising rural population, dalits, poor people and tribal population. In order to take the benefits to these segments, we need to be vocal for local toys.
- There is a need for new ideas to be incubated, new start-ups promoted, taking new technology to traditional toy makers and creating new market demand.
- The 75th anniversary of India’s Independence is a huge opportunity for the innovators and creators of the toy industry. Many incidents, stories of our freedom fighters and their valour and leadership can be created into gaming concepts.
- There is a need to create interesting and interactive games that ‘engage, entertain and educate’.
Delta Plus Variant | Covid 19
#GS1 #Health #GS3 #Science and technology
Context: The Health Ministry has categorised Delta Plus variant of coronavirus as a ‘variant of concern’.
- It has been detected in many states.
- There is fear that this new variant may spark the third wave of Covid-19.
- Delta plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1) is a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus formed due to a mutation in the Delta strain of the virus (B.1.617.2 variant). It is technically the next generation of SARS-COV-2.
- This mutant of Delta was first detected in Europe in March 2021.
- It is resistant to monoclonal antibodies cocktail. Since it’s a new variant, its severity is still unknown.
- People reported symptoms like headaches, sore throats, runny noses, and fever.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) is tracking this variant as part of the Delta variant, it is doing so for other Variants of Concern with additional mutations.
3 Key characteristics of Delta Plus Variant:
- Increased transmissibility: One potential risk that has sparked unease among the medical community is that the new variant may be able to bypass immunity provided by both vaccine and earlier infection.
- Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells: The K417N mutation is within the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein, and this change is noteworthy because this mutation is also found in the B.1.351 or Beta variant of concern, says Prof Shahid Jameel, former INSACOG member and one of the premier virologists in the country.
- Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response: Experts are of the opinion that Delta Plus may show resistance against monoclonal antibody cocktail treatments such as the Roche and Cipla ones being marketed in India at steep prices.
- Multiple studies are ongoing in India and globally to test the effectiveness of vaccines against the Delta plus Covid-19 mutation.
- India’s health ministry warned that regions where it has been found “may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing, and priority vaccination.”
- There are worries Delta Plus would inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases only recently.
- Just over 4% of Indians are fully vaccinated and about 18% have received one dose so far.
- Delta Plus variant has been found in nine countries: USA, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China, and Russia
What is a ‘variant of concern’?
- According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US government interagency group developed a variant classification which includes the following three categories: variant of interest, variant of concern and variant of high consequence
- Variant of Concern is one for which there is evidence of:
- An increase in transmissibility.
- More severe diseases that require hospitalization or death
- A significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination
- Reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.
- In the case of the Delta Plus variant, the Health Ministry identified three characteristics — increased transmissibility; stronger binding in receptors of lung cells; and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
Variants of Concern so far:
- ‘Variants of concern’ include B.1.1.7 or Alpha first identified in the UK, B.1.351 or Beta first identified in South Africa, and B.1.427 or Epsilon first identified in the US.
- Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified the Delta variant or B.1.617.2, first found in India, as a ‘variant of concern’.
How do variants of a virus emerge and why?
- Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.
- Essentially, the goal of the virus is to reach a stage where it can cohabitate with humans because it needs a host to survive.
- Errors in the viral RNA are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants. Variants could differ by a single or many mutations.
What is a mutation?
- A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.
- In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.
- A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.
How can a variant of concern be controlled?
- They require appropriate health actions like increased testing or “research to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against the variant”.
- Based on the characteristics of the variant, additional considerations may include the development of new diagnostics or the modification of vaccines or treatments.
Kabir Das Jayanthi
#GS1 #Culture #Bhakthi Movement
Context: Recently, Sant Kabir Das Jayanti was observed on 24th June, 2021 to mark the birth anniversary of Sant Kabir das.
About Kabir das:
- Sant Kabir Das was a very renowned saint, poet and social reformer of India who lived during the 15th century. His esteemed works and poems describe the greatness and oneness of the Supreme Being.
- He was born in the city of Varanasi.
- A religious community known as ‘Kabir Panth’ was founded by him and the members of this forum are referred as ‘Kabir Panthis’, implying the followers of Kabir Das. He was admired by individual of all faiths and his teachings are still alive and passed from generations.
- Kabir Das’ ideologies were greatly influenced by Vaishnava saint Swami Ramananda who accepted Kabir as his disciple.
- Kabir Das’ writings had a great influence on the Bhakti movement and includes titles like Kabir Granthawali, Anurag Sagar, Bijak, and Sakhi Granth.
- His verses are found in Sikhism’s scripture Guru Granth Sahib.
- The major part of his work was collected by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev.
- He was best known for his two-line couplets, known as ‘Kabir Ke Dohe’.
- Kabir’s works were written in the Hindi language which was easy to comprehend. He used to write in couplets to enlighten people.
- Kabir das Jayanti is celebrated on the Jyeshtha Purnima tithi, as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
Key Teachings and Philosophies of Kabir:
- Kabir believed that God is uni-present
- He did not advocated idol worship
- According to him true dedication is way to realize the one own-self & hence the supreme power called God
- Kabir did not supported asceticism and believed that one can find God without leaving the materialistic world & its obligations.
- Kabir saw all the religions in the same light & considered religions merely different means to reach same God.
- He strictly criticized those who divides society on religious and caste grounds.
- Kabir was the first saint to reconcile Hinduism with Islam.
- Kabir took good things from all religions while filtered out orthodox practices & meaningless rituals.
Relevance of Kabir in present time:
- His dohas are still relevant today as they were when he wrote them, transcending the bounds of time.
- His secular perspective on religion is evergreen.
- Kabir’s teaching are in perfect harmony with the social and religions needs of the present times;
- He identified himself completely with the concept of an integrated Indian society and won the hearts of millions. This is the need of the hour right now.
- Technology like social media is supposed to unite people. But we are actually using the same technology to create a divisive culture and we have been hating people we don’t know and have never met. Kabir has always advocated direct experience and this will be handy in present conditions.
- Acceptability of multiple narratives and the room for dissent are missing today. Kabir’s teaching to express themselves freely and habit to accommodate those thoughts are much needed now.
- His idea of casteless society which is based on rationality is the answer to the creeping casteism and superstitions in the modern society.
- Kabir had a clear vision and approach towards social equality. He created awareness to end discrimination in the society. Society needs that awareness even now.
- In the present communaly polarised world, Kabir’s idea of unity seems almost prophetic.
- Sant Kabir continues to inspire people world over even after 500 years of his death. People still find his couplet relevant in today’s context which is gradually being engulfed by consumerism, urbanization and globalization
- Hence, Kabir’s dohas are rooted in basic philosophy with ability to stand the test of time. This makes the teaching of sant kabir immortal.
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