Bharat Biotech starts human trial of anti-COVID vaccine
MAINS: General Studies Paper IIIScience and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Why in News?
Three volunteers were administered “Covaxin”, the corona vaccine of Bharat Biotech, at Post-Graduate Institute (PGI) of Medical Sciences in Rohtak, as part of the first phase of clinical trial on the humans. All three tolerated it well without any initial adverse effects.
- Senior Professor and Head, department of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Dhruva Chaudhry, also the co-principal investigator, told that the three volunteers were short-listed out of the total eight after health checks to ensure proper liver function and absence of infection and were administered the vaccine.
- “All three tolerated it well. There were no complaints. We observed them for two hours before releasing them. The immediate component of allergic reaction has been taken care of. We will now look for any soreness at the local site over the next 24-48 hours,” said Dr. Dhruv, taking care of clinical aspect of the process at the institute. Dr. Savita Verma, the principal investigator, takes care of logistics and control, and Dr. Rakesh Verma is responsible for the vaccination aspects of the process.
- Chaudary said the vaccine had been tested successfully on the animals for safety and response and the process had not entered the first phase of clinical trial on the humans. He said the process might take six months and the final assessment on the safety and the anti-bodies produced would be made by the safety board.
- Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij also tweeted about the trial: “Human trial with Corona vaccine (COVAXIN) of Bharat Biotech started at PGI Rohtak today. Three subjects were enrolled today. All have tolerated the vaccine very well. There were no adverse efforts (sic).”
Nepal’s archaeologists to study possible Ramayana site
MAINS: General Studies Paper I, Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Why in News?
Nepal’s Department of Archaeology is holding cross-ministerial meetings to explore an archaeological site in Thori near the border town of Birgunj, officials in Kathmandu have said.
- The development comes four days after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said the real birthplace of Lord Ram is located in Thori village around Birgunj, a major border town.
- Thori is known to have a cluster of ancient Hindu religious sites that draw pilgrims from different parts of Nepal.
- “The department has been holding several meetings with different ministries to discuss the possibility of starting archaeological studies in Thori”, Ram Bahadur Kunwar, spokesperson for the Department of Archaeology, was quoted by a news outlet as saying.
- Nepalese historian Jagman Gurung, said that according to the geographical descriptions in Valmiki’s Ramayana, it appears that Lord Ram’s Ayodhya was located nearer to Janakpur. “The travel time in a chariot from India’s Ayodhya to Janakpur is around seven days. But Ramayana says Ram arrived in Janakpur [of Nepal] in a day. Is it possible?”, he said, adding that the location of the ancient city of Ayodhya required to be studied further.
- Oli’s remarks have drawn strong reaction from Indian civil society, including former parliamentarian Karan Singh, who termed the claim bizarre.
- Nepal’s foreign ministry claimed that Mr. Oli’s comments were not aimed to hurt anyone’s sentiment.
- India, in response to Mr Oli’s claim, said the world was aware of India’s deep cultural heritage.
Nepal embassy’s plea
- The Nepal embassy here has taken up the safety and security of Nepalese citizens in Uttar Pradesh after a group of miscreants assaulted a Nepalese person and posted a video online. It showed a group of youngsters chanting anti-Oli slogans while shaving the head of a person.
- Nepal’s ambassador Nilambar Acharya said through his social media account, “We are holding discussion with the government of Uttar Pradesh”.
- The video, which came on Nepali social media accounts, has drawn strong response, with people seeking protection for the Nepalese in India, especially in view of a strong social media campaign against Mr. Oli and Nepalese who reside in India.
- Rama (or Ramacandra) is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. His adventures, notably the slaying of the demon king Ravana, are recounted in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata and in the Ramayana, the oldest Sanskrit epic, written sometime in the 5th century BCE but with some later additions.
- Lord Rama, considered by many Hindus to be based on an historical figure, is perhaps the most virtuous hero from Hindu mythology and he, along with his wife Sita, are a picture of purity and marital devotion. Further, the adventures of Rama illustrate above all the importance and rewards of fulfilling one’s pious duty or dharma.
An ancient town, Ayodhya is regarded as one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus, revered because of its association in the great Indian epic poem Ramayana with the birth of Rama and with the rule of his father, Dasharatha. According to this source, the town was prosperous and well fortified and had a large population.
Nine parties oppose Election Commission of India plan for digital campaign in Bihar
MAINS: General Studies Paper II, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why in News?
A day after the Election Commission (EC) reversed its decision to extend postal ballot facility to voters above 65 years of age, nine Opposition parties met in Delhi to oppose the panel’s move to hold only a digital campaign for the upcoming Bihar Assembly election in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Bihar in-charge for Congress Shaktisinh Gohil, RJD RS MP Manoj K. Jha, CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharjee, RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha, CPI general secretary D. Raja, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, among others, were present at the meeting.
- Together, the parties came up with a joint memorandum opposing the EC’s decision to prohibit the traditional mode of campaign and allow only a ‘virtual election campaign’.
- The memorandum pointed out that as per TRAI, only 34% of Bihar voters had a smart phone.
- “It will be a travesty of unparalleled proportion to officially legitimise a mode of election campaign which is not only severely limiting by its reach but exclusionary by design,” the Opposition parties’ memorandum said.
- The parties pointed out that almost 2/3rd of the electorate would be left out. The election, they argued, would end up being a mere formality and it would be a ‘travesty of democratic processes’.
- The parties also urged the EC to clarify how exactly it would ensure that the election did not end up being a “super-spreader event”.
- “How does the EC plan to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres recommended by WHO and ICMR and reportedly advocated by the Prime Minister himself?” the parties wrote.
- The parties had earlier written to the EC, opposing the extension of postal ballots to those above 65.
- The Left parties so far do not have a place in the Opposition alliance, Mahagatbandhan. Sources said that they did not press for their inclusion.
Flood-hit Assam needs our attention and assistance
MAINS: General Studies Paper I & III, geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps), environmental impact assessment.
Why in News?
The flood-hit northeastern state of Assam needs immediate attention and assistance as it battles loss of lives and displacement of people in many of its submerged districts.
- The floods have so far claimed more than 70 lives and displaced nearly 40 lakh people in 26 districts of the state.
- Nearly 90% of the Kaziranga National Park is reportedly submerged.
- Seeking to draw the country’s attention to the disaster that has hit the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Chhetri wrote on his twitter handle, “Along with the prayers, Assam needs as much attention and help as possible to recover from the floods it is under.”
- “There’s been considerable loss of life – both man and animal, and I can only sincerely hope that the numbers don’t rise.”
- Floods are a recurrent feature during the monsoons in Assam and have claimed many lives over the last many years as the government — both past and present — struggle to find ways to control the raging waters and bring down the death toll.