Daily Current Affairs for 21st August 2020

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FIAPO, PETA to be part of study on circus animals


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

The Delhi High Court permits FIAPO, PETA to be part of AWBI’s survey of circuses to examine animals condition.

Key details:

  • The Delhi High Court allowed the Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to be part of a nationwide survey being conducted by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) on the conditions of animals in circuses.
  • A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar said the Board and two organisations can give medicines, food and nourishment to the animals, if they are found ill or malnourished, at the circus.
  • The petition has sought a direction to the Centre to immediately notify the Performing Animals (Registration) Amendment Rules of 2018, which expressly prohibit training and exhibition of performing animals in circuses and “mobile entertainment facilities”.


  • The court asked the Board to submit a report based on the survey and asked the circus officials to cooperate.
  • The court was hearing two separate pleas by FIAPO and PETA.
  • During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Great Bombay Circus and Jumbo Circus stated that the animals are kept properly.
  • The counsel said that the officials come and take away animals saying they require private care and treatment even when the circuses have their own veterinarians.

FIAPO and PETA pleas:

  • FIAPO has challenged the Performing Animal Rules, 1973 and Performing Animal (Registration) Rules, 2001, to the extent that they allow registration of animals as ‘performing animals’ for circuses as against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Constitution of India.
  • Their plea stated that on account of COVID-19 pandemic, there have been numerous reports of animals being stranded as part of these circuses all over the country and being abandoned by their owners.
  • This will lead to numerous animals perishing on account of starvation and unsanitary conditions.
  • PETA India has claimed that due to the COVID-19 outbreak and resultant lockdown, circuses are finding it difficult to feed the animals who are at various stages of starvation.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI):

  • The Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country.
  • Established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960,
  • It was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, well known humanitarian.
  • From ensuring that animal welfare laws in the country are diligently followed, to provide grants to Animal Welfare Organizations and advising the Government of India on animal welfare issues,
  • The Board consists of 28 Members. The term of office of Members is for a period of 3 years.

Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organizations (FIAPO):

  • FIAPO is India’s apex animal rights organization.
  • FIAPO is the catalyst that protects the rights and interests of animals at local and national levels.
  • FIAPO is India’s only federation with more than 120 members and 200 supporter organizations, nationally.
  • Its Mission is to connect and empower animal protectors to achieve animal rights by advocacy, networking, and capacity building; to create a high-impact, well-connected movement at all levels which will continually address ongoing animal issues.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):

  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters.
  • PETA India, based in Mumbai, was launched in January 2000.
  • It operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Sputnik V is safe and effective


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that created the vaccine Sputnik V says it is the “safest” vaccine under trial at present.

Key details:

  • The concerns raised in several countries over the efficacy of the vaccine, which has been produced in a very short span,
  • Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF, said that his own parents had been tested with the vaccine and had not shown any side effects.
  • He didn’t confirm specific plans to collaborate with Indian companies but says that the Russian vaccine will be made available to Indians.


  • Previously Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia registered the world’s first vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and after that, the Russian Health Ministry said the vaccine would go into production soon,
  • The vaccine received a registration certificate from the Russian Ministry of Health on August 11.
  • Russia got a head start because its MERS vaccine was actually ready.
  • The Russian vaccine is based on the already existing human adenoviral-vector platform where inactivated adenoviruses act as vectors or vehicles, delivering genetic material from S-protein, which forms the spike of coronavirus into a human cell to induce an immune response.
  • Сlinical trials demonstrated that 100% of volunteers developed immunity within 21 days.
  • After the second vaccination, the immunity response was further boosted and provided for long-lasting immunity.
  • All the volunteers are feeling well, no unforeseen or unwanted side effects were observed. Not a single participant of the clinical trials has caught COVID-19 after being administered with the vaccine.

Efficacy of the vaccine

  • The high efficacy of the vaccine was confirmed by high precision tests for antibodies in the blood serum of volunteers (including an analysis for antibodies that neutralize the coronavirus),
  • As well as the ability of the immune cells of the volunteers to activate in response to the spike S protein of the coronavirus, which indicates the formation of both antibody and cellular immune vaccine response.
  • Post-registration research based on top international standards is involving thousands of people in Russia and abroad.
  • Compared to other candidate vaccines, human adenoviral vectors tested on tens of thousands of people worldwide do not have an impact on fertility and carcinogenic effects. Many novel approaches are not tested on those effects.

How its work:

  • This is the safest mechanism for introducing the genetic code of the virus spike into the human body, and it has been thoroughly studied not only in Russia but also internationally.
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian researchers have focused on extracting a spike-coding gene from the novel coronavirus and implanting it into a familiar adenovirus vector for delivery into a human cell.
  • They also proposed using two different types of adenoviral vectors (Ad5 and Ad26) for the first and second vaccination, boosting the effect of the vaccine. The vaccine thus “tricks the body,” which develops some immunity to one type of vector after the first intake.

India as part of the trials and vaccine production

  • Historically, India has been a strategic partner for Russia across many sectors.
  • The Russian Direct Investment Fund has been collaborating with Indian companies and organisations since 2012, developing joint investment projects aimed at supporting the national economies and fostering economic ties between the two countries.
  • India has a great programme, Make in India, started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • It has strongly developed the local pharma industry and let Russia and other countries see India as a potential hub for vaccine production. So, Russian will make the vaccine available for India and other countries as well.

Way forward:

  • The registration of Sputnik V, the first vaccine against COVID-19 in the world, is a milestone in the global efforts to protect people against coronavirus. Not only will the vaccine protect people, but it will also help the global economy recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic faster.
  • The vaccine has already been proved to be safe and effective and we will aim to make it available for use in countries all around the world and create strategic partnerships for vaccine production in all parts of the world, including India.

India, Bangladesh to set up mechanism to monitor bilateral projects


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India and Bangladesh will set up a mechanism to monitor bilateral projects.

Key details:

  • The announcement came a day after Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla returned after holding talks with the leadership of Bangladesh in Dhaka, where both sides agreed to jointly deal with the border killings and establish a closer partnership to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
  • The two countries also proposed that a high-level monitoring mechanism be set up to regularly review the progress of the ongoing projects
  • The Spokesperson reiterated that the Joint Consultative Commission led by the Foreign Ministers of India and Bangladesh will be convened “shortly” and it will “review the entire gamut of bilateral relationship, including the projects”.


  • The monitoring mechanism is expected to assist in timely completion of several ongoing projects,
  • Including the Rampal Maitree Power Plant, India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, and rail links between Akhaura-Agartala, Chilahati-Haldibari and Khulna-Mongla rail line that are to be completed by 2021.


  • The announcement comes weeks after it was alleged that India-backed projects had slowed down in Bangladesh, where Chinese-financed initiatives were going ahead briskly.
  • Bangladesh maintained that joint projects with India were not running behind schedule and cleared the ₹1,000 crore Baraiyarhat-Heyanko-Ramgarh connectivity project in northern Chittagong region before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sat down for a discussion with Mr. Shringla.

Way forward:

The development projects that are on way to completion in the next few months are also crucial as this year marks the centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the ‘Father of the Nation of Bangladesh’ as well as 50th year of establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two sides.

India plans to issue a commemorative stamp on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during this year, which is officially known as ‘Mujib Barsho’. Prime Minister Modi’s March visit to Dhaka to inaugurate ‘Mujib Barsho’ celebrations was cancelled because of the spread of the pandemic in South Asia, but both sides continued consultation on measures to counter the threat.

Private firms employ more women in R&D


Mains: General Studies-I & III: Indian society and Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

India’s private sector research companies appear to employ a larger proportion of women in core research and development activities than government-funded major scientific agencies do, according to data in the Science and Technology Indicators (STI), 2018, a periodic compendium of the state of scientific research in India, released this month.

Key details:

  • Of the 20,351 women employed in private R&D companies, 15,011 or about three in four were involved in “R&D activities” and the rest in “auxiliary or administrative activities”.
  • the 23,008 women in “major scientific agencies”, fewer than half or 10,138 were in the same ‘R&D activities’ category.
  • private sector companies had a greater commitment to ensuring that women scientists were fairly represented in recruitment, promotions and appraisal processes than in many scientific organisations.

The Science and Technology Indicators (STI):

  • The STI is prepared by a division of the Department of Science Technology, the National Science and Technology Management Information System, and is based on data provided by a range of scientific establishments across the country.


  • The 2018 indicators reiterate the historic trend of India’s scientists being overwhelmingly men.
  • For every one of the 15,011 women counted earlier, there are six male scientists in private sector R&D establishments, or about 92,000.
  • That proportion improves to about one in four in major scientific agencies where there are 43,753 male scientists in ‘R&D’ for the 10,138 women equivalent.
  • Overall, India had 341,818 scientists in R&D with nearly 2,03,759 employed by government institutions or in the higher education sector.
  • The bulk of scientists (in private and publicly funded organisations included) were in ‘Engineering Technology’ (1,21,531) followed by the Medical Sciences (32,143) and Natural Sciences (32,092).

Reason behind:

  • Inquiries have been launched by independent commissions as well as the NITI Aayog to ascertain causes for the inadequate representation of women scientists.
  • The large drop in the number of women between the doctoral and professional stages appears to be in part due to social pressure on women to have a family which is seen as incompatible with a professional career.
  • There are also patriarchal attitudes in hiring practices, so many women are discriminated against at this stage as well, with administrators deciding that women ‘should’ be opting for family over a career,”according to a detailed investigation by Rohini Godbole of the Indian Institute of Science, and Ramakrishna Ramaswamy of Jawaharlal Nehru University, for the Indian Academy of Sciences.

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