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Current Affairs – 21 June 2021

Current Affairs (21st June 2021)

Summer Solstice

Context:

  • The longest day of 2021 for those living north of the Equator is June 21. This day is referred to as the summer solstice, the longest day of the summer season.
  • It occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, or more specifically right over 23.5-degree north latitude.

About:

  • Since Earth rotates on its axis, the Northern Hemisphere gets more direct sunlight between March and September over the course of a day, which also means people living in the Northern Hemisphere experience summer during this time. The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more sunlight.
  • During the solstice, the Earth’s axis is tilted in a way that the North Pole is tipped towards the sun and the South Pole is away from it.
  • According to NASA, the solstice is that instant in time when the North Pole points more directly toward the sun that at any other time during the year. Solstice means “sun stands still” in Latin.
  • This day is characterised by a greater amount of energy received from the sun. According to NASA, the amount of incoming energy the Earth received from the sun on this day is 30 per cent higher at the North Pole than at the Equator.
  • Although June 21 will be the longest day in 2021, it does not necessarily mean that it brings the earliest sunrise or latest sunset. It depends on the latitudinal location of the country.
  • In contrast, the Southern Hemisphere receives most sunlight on December 21, 22 or 23 when the northern hemisphere has its longest nights– or the winter solstice.

 

Sickle Cell Anaemia

Context:

  • The Minister of Tribal Affairs inaugurated the Second National Sickle Cell Conclave on ‘Sickle Cell Disease’.
  • The Conclave is being held to mark the World Sickle Cell Day observed on 19th June 2021 every year.

About:

  • It is characterized by a modification in the shape of the red blood cell from a smooth, donut-shape into a crescent or half-moon shape.
  • These cells lack plasticity and can block small blood vessels, impairing blood flow.
  • This condition leads to shortened red blood cell survival, and subsequent anaemia, often called sickle-cell anaemia.
  • This leads to chronic acute pain syndromes, severe bacterial infections, and necrosis (tissue death).
  • Anaemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or hemoglobin is less than normal. Symtoms of anemia include Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Hair loss etc.
  • The National Family Health Survey – 5 (NFHS-5) data has shown that India’s anaemia situation has remained unchanged from the high prevalence of nearly 60% reported in the NFHS-4 survey (2015).
  • It indicated that there was a high anaemic population of Indian women and children that had not responded to the various iron supplementation and food fortification programs implemented in the last five years.
  • Currently, the WHO haemoglobin (Hb) diagnostic cut-off to diagnose anaemia is 12 gm/decilitre for women, and between 11 and 12 gm/decilitre at different ages for boys and girls.
  • Some researchers said that anaemia is being over-diagnosed in India due to an inappropriately high WHO cut-off, and they asserted the need for re-examining this Hb cut-off.
  • Currently, the WHO haemoglobin (Hb) diagnostic cut-off to diagnose anaemia is 12 gm/decilitre for women, and between 11 and 12 gm/decilitre at different ages for boys and girls.
  • Some researchers said that anaemia is being over-diagnosed in India due to an inappropriately high WHO cut-off, and they asserted the need for re-examining this Hb cut-off.
  • Treatment: It can be managed by simple procedures including:
    • High fluid intake
    • Healthy diet
    • Folic acid/Iron supplementation
    • Pain medication
    • Vaccination and antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections
    • Several other therapeutic measures.
  • Indian scenario:
    • Sickle cell disease (SCD), which is the most prevalent inherited blood disorder, is widespread amongst many tribal population groups in India.
    • The disease in India is prevalent predominantly in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, western Odisha, eastern Gujarat and in pockets of the Nilgiri Hills in north Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

 

Illegal sale of “HT Bt cotton”

Context:

  • The illegal cultivation of (Herbicide Tolerant) HT Bt cotton has seen a significant increase in recent years.
  • Similarly, the sale of HT Bt Cotton seeds has more than doubled from 30 lakh in 2020 to 75 lakh in 2021.
  • Due to this, the seed industries have asked the Ministry of Agriculture to stop such illegal sale of (Herbicide Tolerant) HT Bt Cotton as it may have severe environmental and economic consequences.

About Bt Cotton:

  • It is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Government of India for commercial cultivation.
  • It has been genetically modified to produce an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a common pest.
  • Bt cotton was created by genetically altering the cotton genome to express a microbial protein from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
  • In short, the transgene inserted into the plant’s genome produces toxin crystals that the plant would not normally produce which, when ingested by a certain population of organisms, dissolves the gut lining leading to the organism’s death.

Concerns regarding illegal cultivation of HT Bt Cotton: 

  • It has serious environmental and economic consequences. This is because there are fears that glyphosate has a carcinogenic effect.
  • Further, the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance is creating a variety of superweeds.
  • The illegal sale will eliminate small cotton seed companies and also threaten the entire legal cotton seed market in India.
  • There is no accountability of the quality of cottonseed as it is being sold illegally.
  • The industry is losing legitimate seed sales and the government is also losing revenue in terms of tax collection.

 

Rising Sea levels

Context:

  • Recently, a study has projected that sea levels will rise around Lakshadweep Islands due to the impact of global warming.It will affect airport and residential areas that are quite close to the present coastline.

About:

  • SLR is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming, induced by three primary factors: Thermal Expansion, Melting Glaciers and Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets.
  • Sea level is primarily measured using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters.
  • SLR can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer, and agricultural soil contamination with salt, and lost habitat for biodiversity.
  • Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons leading to loss of life and property.
  • Flooding in low-lying coastal areas is forcing people to migrate to the higher ground causing displacement and dispossession and in turn a refugee crisis worldwide.
  • The prospect of higher coastal water levels threatens basic services such as internet access.
  • Rising seas can contaminate soil and groundwater with salt threatening life farther away from coasts.
  • Tourism to coastal areas and military preparedness will also be negatively affected by an increase in SLR.

SLR is Linked to Three Primary Factors:

 

Flag Satyagraha

Context:

  • The Ministry of Culture on 18th June had organised a programme to observe the Flag Satyagraha in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

About:

  • The Flag Satyagraha movement by the freedom fighters shook the British government and it infused a new life into the freedom movement.
  • Also called the Jhanda Satyagraha, it was held in Jabalpur and Nagpur in 1923.
  • The news of flag hoisting in Jabalpur spread like fire in the country and after flags were hoisted at several places across the country.
  • It is a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience that focused on exercising the right and freedom to hoist the nationalist flag and challenge the legitimacy of the British Rule in India through the defiance of laws prohibiting the hoisting of nationalist flags and restricting civil freedoms.

 

Naval exercise

Context:

  • The Indian Navy and European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) exercise began in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Concurrently, a virtual “Information sharing Exercise” was conducted between the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region and Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa .

About:

  • It is the first joint naval exercise between the Indian Navy and European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), which is the EU’s counter-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia.
  • Countries participating in the exercise are India,Italy, Spain, and France.
  • The two-day exercise will see high tempo-naval operations at sea, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, cross deck helicopter operations, tactical manoeuvres, boarding operations, underway replenishment, Search & Rescue, Man Overboard drills, and other maritime security operations.
  • Five warships from four navies are participating in the exercise.
  • Indian Naval Ship Trikand– mission deployed for Anti-Piracy Operations is participating in the exercise.

Significance:

  • Ships of the four navies will endeavour to enhance and hone their war-fighting skills and their ability as an integrated force to promote, peace, security and stability in the maritime domain.
  • It also underscores the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive and a rules-based international order.
  • Under the charter of the World Food Programme (UN WFP), EUNAVFOR and the Indian Navy converge on multiple issues including counter-piracy operations and protection of vessels deployed.

EUNAVFOR and India:

  • Under the charter of the World Food Programme (UN WFP), EUNAVFOR and the Indian Navy converge on multiple issues including counter-piracy operations and protection of vessels deployed.
  • Indian Navy and EUNAVFOR also have regular interaction through SHADE (Shared Awareness and De-confliction) meetings held annually in Bahrain.
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