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Special Issue Current Affairs UPSC CSE Sept Week 2

Current Affairs UPSC CSE

Special Issue Current Affairs UPSC CSE -Sept Week 2

Bombay blood group

Over the last some weeks, the “Bombay blood group”, a rare blood type, has been at the centre of attention in Mumbai’s healthcare scene. Demand for the blood type has coincidentally spiked at hospitals, but supply has been scarce.

Blood types – Common and rare

  • The four most common blood groups are A, B, AB and O.
  • The rare, Bombay blood group was first discovered in Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1952 by Dr Y M Bhende.
  • Each red blood cell has antigen over its surface, which helps determine which group it belongs to.
  • The Bombay blood group, also called hh, is deficient in expressing antigen H, meaning the RBC has no antigen H.
  • For instance, in the AB blood group, both antigens A and B are found. A will have A antigens; B will have B antigens. In hh, there are no A or B antigens.

Rare in India, rarer globally:

  • Globally, the hh blood type has an incidence of one in four million.
  • It has a higher incidence in South Asia; in India, one in 7,600 to 10,000 are born with this type.
  • Dr Arun Thorat, in-charge of Maharashtra State Blood Transfusion Council, said this blood type is more common in South Asia than anywhere else because of inbreeding and close community marriages.
  • Shared common ancestry among Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis has led to more cases of hh blood phenotype in this region.

Testing:

  • To test for hh blood, an Antigen H blood test is required. Often the hh blood group is confused with the O group.
  • The difference is that the O group has Antigen H, while the hh group does not.
  • If anyone lacks Antigen H, it does not mean he or she suffers from poor immunity or may be more prone to diseases.
  • Their counts for haemoglobin, platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells are similar to the count of others based on their health index.
  • Because of rarity, however, they do face problems during blood transfusion.

Transfusion limitation:

  • A 2015 study in the Asian Journal of Transfusion Science observed: “The individuals with Bombay blood group can only be transfused autologous blood or blood from individuals of Bombay hh phenotype only which is very rare.”
  • Rejection may occur if they receive blood from A, B, AB or O blood group. In contrast, hh blood group can donate their blood to ABO blood types.
  • An unofficial registry for Bombay blood group lists over 350 donors across India.
  • This group is generally not stored in blood banks, mainly because it is rare and the shelf life of blood is 35-42 days.
  • So, whenever there is a demand for a Bombay blood group patient, a donor is required very urgently.
  • Sometimes, facilities need to be created for transporting the donated blood from one city to another.
  • Two weeks ago, a patient in Kota got hh blood from a Pune-based donor. The blood was flown to Jaipur and taken to Kota hospital by road.

Shortage:

  • The spike in demand is coincidental.
  • Patients of this blood group could die for want of blood.
  • In Sri Lanka in 2017, a cancer patient died for want of hh blood group negative.

Ranjhi Trophy

September 10 is the birth anniversary of cricketing legend Ranjitsinhji, who was considered among the world’s finest batsmen at the turn of the 19th century. He was known to his fans both in India and abroad as ‘Ranji’.

The Trophy

  • The Ranji Trophy is named after him and was started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 1934 after his death in 1933.
  • Ranjitsinhji was also the ruler of the Nawanagar princely state in Gujarat, where he embarked upon progressive reforms.

A cricket Titan

  • After graduating from Cambridge University in 1893, Ranjitsinhji played first-class county cricket in England. He was part of the Sussex team, playing for a number of years until 1912, and was team captain between 1899 and 1903.
  • Ranjitsinhji scored a total of 3,000 runs for two years in a row — 1899 and 1900. He played 15 Test matches for England between 1896 and 1902.
  • Ranjitsinhji is credited with introducing the ‘leg glance’ shot in cricket.
  • On Ranjitsinhji’s death, a report in the New York Times on April 3, 1933, said: “To an Englishman his Highness Kumar Shri, Maharaja of Nawanagar, GSCI, GBE, KCSI, will always be ‘Ranji,’ at least as long as cricket is the national game of England. And many will contend the GBE stands for “Greatest Batsman Ever,” not for the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire”.

As the ‘Jam’ of Nawanagar

  • After returning from England, Ranjitsinhji fought a protracted battle to claim the title of ‘Jam Sahib’, or ruler, of the Nawanagar princely state. After finally assuming the throne in 1907, Ranjitsinhji set out to modernise Nawanagar, which at the time was stricken by continued drought.
  • In the 25 years of his rule, Ranjitsinhji expanded public works such as roads and railways, built the Bedi seaport, and made improvements to the capital Jamnagar.
  • Ranjitsinhji served in the British army during World War I and was one of India’s representatives at the League of Nations in 1920.
  • In India, he played an active role in politics and was a member of the Chamber of Princes, the legislative chamber representing India’s princely states.
  • Ranjitsinhji urged fellow princely state rulers not to accept any scheme of federation within the British Raj.
  • This view prevailed among the princes even after Ranjitsinhji’s death in 1933, as they ensured the failure of the federal scheme of the Government of India Act of 1935.

UNHRC

The United Nations High Comissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed concern over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, and the communications blackout and detention of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir. Bachelet was speaking at the opening of the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

The UNHRC

  • The Human Rights Council decribes itself as “an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them”.
  • The UNHRC has “the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year”.
  • The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).

HRC Meetings

  • The Human Rights Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least 10 weeks.
  • The meetings take place for four weeks in in March, for three weeks in June, and for another three weeks in September. The sessions are held at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The first session took place from June 19-30, 2006, three months after the Council was created by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/251 on March 15 that year.
  • If one-third of the Member States so request, the HRC can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.

Membership

  • The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States, which are elected by the UNGA through a direct and secret ballot.
  • The General Assembly takes into account the contribution of the candidate states to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.

Distribution of Seats:

African States: 13 seats
Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
Western European and other States: 7 seats
Eastern European States: 6 seats

  • Members of the Council serve for a period of three years, and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • As of January 1, 2019, 114 UN Member States have served on the HRC. Both India and Pakistan are on this list.
  • The HRC has a Bureau of one President and four Vice-Presidents, representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.

Zero Budget Farming

Addressing the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that India was “focusing on Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)”.

In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had spoken of the need to “go back to basics”, and to “replicate this innovative model (that) can help in doubling our farmers’ income”.

The National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), India’s premier academic body of agricultural scientists has, however, criticised the “unproven” technology of ZBNF, which it says brings no incremental value gain to either farmers or consumers. NAAS has written to the Prime Minister, expressing the scientific community’s reservations.

What is ZBNF?

  • ZBNF is a farming technique that seeks to bring down input costs for farmers by encouraging them to rely upon “natural products”, rather than spending money on pesticides and fertilisers.
  • Proponets claim this system is also more environment-friendly, since it does not require chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
  • The concept behind ZBNF is that over 98 per cent of the nutrients required by crops for photosynthesis — carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water, and solar energy — are already available “free” from the air, rain, and Sun.
  • Only the remaining 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent nutrients need to be taken from the soil, and converted from “non-available” to “available” form (for intake by the roots) through the action of microorganisms.
  • To help the microorganisms act, farmers must apply ‘Jiwamrita’ (microbial culture) and ‘Bijamrita’ (seed treatment solution), and take up ‘mulching’ (covering plants with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves) and ‘waaphasa’ (giving water outside the plant’s canopy) to maintain the right balance of soil temperature, moisture, and air.
  • To manage insects and pests, ZBNF recommends the use of ‘Agniastra’, ‘Brahmastra’ and ‘Neemastra’, which, like ‘Jiwamrita’ and ‘Bijamrita’, are based mainly on urine and dung of Indian cow breeds.
  • The idea is that since these too, need not be purchased, farming remains practically “zero-budget”.
  • Proponents of ZBNF say that apart from increasing crop yield and leading to healthier produce, this model can also help prevent farmer suicides. Farmers fall into the debt trap mainly because input cost of agriculture is high, they claim, and ZBNF brings it down.

The idea behind it:

  • The creator of the ZBNF model currently being practised in India is 70-year-old Subhash Palekar, a B.Sc in Agriculture, who has farmed his own land for decades in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha, and has also worked with farmer organisations in Karnataka and other states.
  • In 2016, the Indian government honoured him with the Padma Shri. A year later, then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu appointed him an adviser, and allocated Rs 100 crore to promote ZBNF in the state.
  • Palekar says that in ZBNF, farmers use only local seeds, and need around 10% of the water required in conventional farming.
  • He says his experience in his own fields — where he saw the yield depleting due to use of chemical fertilisers, modified seeds and pesticides — led him to develop this model, which he now calls “Zero Budget Spiritual Farming”.

Criticism

  • Scientists say there isn’t much evidence to support Palekar’s claims of the efficacy of ZBNF, and that giving up modified high-value seeds and fertilisers can actually hurt agriculture.
  • Panjab Singh, president of the NAAS, says: “We reviewed the protocols and claims of ZBNF and concluded that there is no verifiable data or authenticated results from any experiment for it to be considered a feasible technological option.”
  • Another scientist from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) told, “78 per cent of air is nitrogen, but it is not freely available to plants.
  • Being non-reactive, atmospheric nitrogen has to be fixed into a plant-usable form such as ammonia or urea.
  • He (Palekar) is saying that ZBNF is effective only if dung and urine from black-coloured Kapila cows is used, and farmers sow traditional varieties/landraces.
  • It means that all the high-yielding varieties and hybrids developed by us, which have trebled India’s rice production to 116 million tonnes, and increased it more than eight times to 102 million tonnes for wheat in the last 50 years, are useless.”

Way Ahead:

  • ICAR, India’s national network of agricultural research and education institutes, has appointed a committee under Praveen Rao Velchala, Vice-Chancellor of the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University to study the viability of ZBNF.
  • Currently, experiments in growing crops using ZBNF are taking place in five research station locations.
  • All this can be confirmed through analysis of soil data and fertility status.

Adverse List

Being on the Adverse List meant that these people, who have now either taken asylum in foreign countries or are their citizens, could not get a visa to visit India.

The Center has removed from its blacklist — or the Central Adverse List as it is officially known — names of 312 Sikh foreign nationals involved in anti-India activities and only two persons figure in the list now.

Central Adverse List

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs maintains a list of individuals who supported the Khalistan movement in 1980s and 90s but left India to take asylum in foreign countries.
  • This list included the name of “hardliners” who were in favour of a separate Sikh state and had opposed the Operation Blue Star.
  • Many of the Sikhs on this list fled India to escape the authorities, acquired foreign nationality and took asylum outside India.
  • This list is not restricted to Punjab or the Khalistan movement.
  • The list has names of those individuals who are suspected to have links with terrorist outfits or have violated visa norms in their previous visit to India.
  • The list also includes the names of those persons who have indulged in criminal activities or have been accused of sexual crimes against children in their respective countries.
  • It has more than 35,000 names on it.

Purpose of this list:

  • This list is constantly used by all Indian Missions and Consulates to stop the individuals named in it from entering India.
  • This is done by not granting visa to such persons. It is a step taken by the Indian government to maintain internal security.
  • The list is also used to keep serious offenders outside India as somebody may commit a crime in his native nation and then apply for an Indian visa to escape prosecution.

Who maintains this list?

  • The list is maintained by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs with inputs from all the state governments.
  • Various intelligence agencies constantly review this list and add new names to it.
  • Central intelligence agencies as well as the state-level intelligence contributes to the information determining the inclusion of a person in this list.
  • Since law and order is a state subject, the state police is also utilised for intelligence gathering in order to update the list.

Way Ahead:

  • The 312 Sikhs whose names have been removed from the Central Adverse list can now visit India and meet their families here.
  • Most of these Sikh nationals have remained outside country since the 1980s and have not visited their families since then.
  • Majority of these people are aged. With this decision of the government, they will now get access to consular services as well as an Indian visa.
  • This list had a multiplier effect in denying visas as the family members of the persons on this list were also denied visas to other countries.
  • Such a practice will no longer be carried forward.
  • There was no direct judicial pronouncement on this list but the Punjab and Haryana High Court on May 29, 2001 had directed the Government of India to issue a passport to Jagjit Singh Chauhan who was a Khalistan supporter.
  • According to the HC it was a violation of fundamental rights to deny Jagjit entry into India.
  • This gains significance as the present government will finally allow entry of persons excluded from that list.

Memorial to Polish refugees

  • When Poland was caught between Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Josef Stalin’s Russia during the Second World War, a stream of refugees made their way to Valivade village in Kolhapur district, 235 km from .
  • Here, they tasted freedom after having endured the living hell of Soviet camps following their deportation by the dreaded NKVD or the Soviet secret police.
  • Recently a commemorative pillar in memory of these Polish families and individuals who lived in Valivade between 1942 and 1948 will be unveiled by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Polish Republic Marcin Przydacz, Polish Ambassador to India Adam Burakowski and Guardian Minister of Kolhapur Chandrakant Patil, said Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament from Kolhapur, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje.
  • A permanent museum dedicated to the memory of the 5,000 Polish people who lived in the Valivade camp will come up within a year, he said.
  • A 29-member Polish delegation, which included those who had lived at the camp as well as their relatives, recalled their association with Kolhapur after 72 years during a tour of the historic Panhala fort.
  • They reminisced, too, their journey to India through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan from the Soviet camps in Siberia and the Urals.
  • They first reached Jamnagar in Gujarat, where the ruler, Jam Saheb Digvijayasinhji Jadeja, in a noble gesture, took the refugees under his wing.
  • From there, some of the migrants proceeded to Kolhapur.
  • Poland was dismembered by the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Union pact or ‘the Devil’s Alliance’, with the cream of Poland’s officer corps, which included several members of the country’s intelligentsia, massacred by the NKVD in the Katyn Forest in 1940.
  • The refugees, who were deported and lodged in Stalin’s camps and finally made it to India, were the fortunate ones to flee Europe’s bloodlands after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
  • With the cooperation and affection of the citizens of Kolhapur, Valivade soon transformed into a ‘mini Poland’, with its own church, schools and even a cinema.
  • Today, several members of the delegation recalled their visits to the Panhala fort, their swim in the nearby river and the warmth of the people of Kolhapur.

Athi Varadar

  • The celebrations of the once-in-40 years Athi Varadar festival held at the Sri Varadaraja Swamy temple in Kancheepuram have been chronicled in book form by The Hindu Group for devotees to cherish for a lifetime.
  • The comprehensive book traces the 1,300-year history of the Sri Varadaraja Swamy temple and the devotees’ tryst with the Athi Varadar idol, which is made of fig wood, during the 48-day celebrations held from July 1 to August 17 this year.
  • More than a crore of devotees from various parts of Tamil Nadu and the rest of the country are said to have attended.

Embellished with details

  • The book, The Awakening: Athi Varadar 2019 is a rich cornucopia of historical details embellished by several colour photos of the Athi Varadar idol, in both lying and standing postures.
  • For devotees, this will be a collector’s item.
  • The book not only has details of Athi Varadar but also valuable historical information, including the temple’s origin during the Pallava period, its development in the Chola era and its pinnacle during the Vijayanagara period.
  • Comprising a compilation of articles by several writers, the book takes the reader on a tour of the various shrines, mantapas, sculptures, inscriptions, murals, and carvings in the famous temple.

 

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