GS PAPER II NEWS

World Social Report 2021

Why in News

The World Social Report 2021 has been released recently by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Highlights of the Report

  • An urgent reconsideration of rural development is needed for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The current strategies and patterns of rural development are failing to meet either the socio-economic or the environmental Goals of this Agenda.
  • Four out of every five people who face extreme poverty around the world live in rural areas.
  • Many rural areas are witnessing severe depletion and degradation of natural resources, contributing to climate change and the recurrence of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic, together with already persistent high levels of poverty and inequalities, are threatening to stall progress for the world’s rural populations.
  • Through response and recovery efforts, however, opportunities exist to build a greener, more inclusive and resilient future.
  • The experience of the pandemic has shown, for example, that where high-quality Internet connectivity is coupled with flexible working arrangements, many jobs that were traditionally considered to be urban can be performed in rural areas too.

World Social Report 2021

  • The World Social Report 2021 is a flagship publication of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) on major social development issues
  • It offers new strategies to ensure that the 3.4 billion people who live in rural areas are not left behind as global efforts focus on boosting socio-economic growth and tackling climate change in the middle of the COVID-19 recovery.
  • The report calls for an end to the rural-urban divide and offers new approaches to advance rural development that would allow rural populations to reach the urban standard of living without having to migrate to urban areas.
  • These include leveraging the rise of new digital technologies, boosting the non-farm economy and increasing investments in public services and rural infrastructure while protecting the health of the planet.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

  • The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) is part of the United Nations Secretariat.
  • It is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences, as well as services to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Second and Third Committees of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • UNDESA assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges.
  • It supports international cooperation to promote sustainable development for all, having as a foundation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015.

GS PAPER III

Sunderlal Bahuguna

Why in News

Well-Known environmentalist and Gandhian Sunderlal Bahuguna is no more.

About Sunderlal Bahuguna

  • Sunderlal Bahuguna died at the age of 94 due to COVID-19 related complications.
  • He manifested our centuries old ethos of living in harmony with nature. His simplicity and spirit of compassion will never be forgotten.
  • He was born on 9th January, 1927 in Maroda village in Tehri (now a district in Uttarakhand).
  • Bahuguna’s life was dedicated to social causes, activism, and writing. He participated in the Independence movement and was subsequently a part of Vinoba Bhave’s Sarvodaya movement.
  • He was one of the founders of the Chipko, or hug the tree movement, in the 1970s to save Himalayan forests.
  • He also led the charge against the construction of big dams in the Himalayas in the 1980s.
  • He was fervently opposed to the construction of the Tehri dam and sat on two long hunger strikes against the dam, which proved to be of no avail.
  • He inspired many young people by his passion for the environment. His ashram was open to young people, with whom he communicated with ease.
  • He wrote about the problems of deforestation for years — drawing a link between the lack of tree cover and the drying up of springs in the Himalayas.
  • He also led a movement of women’s groups, or mahila mandals, to enforce prohibition in Tehri Garhwal, which was then part of Uttar Pradesh.

Chipko Movement

  • Chipko movement was the non-violent social and ecological movement by rural villagers, particularly women which begun in India in the 1970s.
  • It is also called Chipko andolan which aimed at protecting trees and forests slated for government-backed logging.
  • The Hindi word Chipko means “to hug” or “to cling to” and reflects the demonstrators’ primary tactic of embracing the trees to impede the loggers.
  • It was originated in the Himalayan region of Uttar Pradesh (later Uttarakhand) in 1973 and quickly spread throughout the Indian Himalayas.
  • According to historian and environmentalist, the Chipko movement was started as an agitation against trees being felled by forest contractors.
  • The main demand of the people in these protests was that the benefits of the forests should go to local people.
  • The Chipko movement gathered momentum in 1978 when the women faced police firings and other tortures.

Results of Chipko Movement

  • In 1980, the government banning the felling of trees in the Himalayan forests of Uttar Pradesh for a period of 15 years.
  • Subsequently, the green-felling ban was also extended to forests in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas.
  • The movement’s biggest triumph was making people aware of their rights to forests, and how grassroots activism can influence policy-making regarding ecology and shared natural resources.
  • According to the biennial State of Forests Report 2017, India has registered a marginal increase in forest cover between 2015 and 2017.
  • It was found that the land under forest cover amounted to 21.53% of the geographical area of the country.

DIPCOVAN kit

Why in News

Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has developed an antibody detection-based kit ‘DIPCOVAN’.

About DIPCOVAN


  • The DIPCOVAN kit can detect both spike as well as nucleocapsid (S&N) proteins of SARS-CoV-2 virus with a high sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 99%.
  • The kit has been developed in association with Vanguard Diagnostics Pvt Ltd, a development and manufacturing diagnostics company based at New Delhi.
  • The DIPCOVAN kit was developed indigenously by the scientists, followed by extensive validation on more than 1,000 patient samples at various COVID designated hospitals in Delhi.
  • The antibody detection kit is approved by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in April 2021.
  • DIPCOVAN is intended for the qualitative detection of IgG antibodies in human serum or plasma, targeting SARS-CoV-2 related antigens.
  • It offers a significantly faster turn-around-time as it requires just 75 minutes to conduct the test without any cross reactivity with other diseases.
  • The kit will be very useful for understanding COVID‐19 epidemiology and assessing an individual’s previous SARS‐CoV‐2 exposure.

Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS)

  • The Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) is an Indian defence laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • It was founded on 20 September 1962.
  • It is located in Delhi and it conducts physiological and biomedical research to improve human performance in extreme and wartime environments.
  • DIPAS is organised under the Life Sciences Directorate of DRDO.
  • The present director of DIPAS is Dr. Bhuvnesh Kumar.

2-DG drug

  • DRDO also launched the 2-DG drug which was cleared by the DCGI for emergency use to treat moderate to severe Covid patients.
  • The drug has to be administered upon prescription to moderate to hospitalised Covid patients.
  • The 2-DG drug was developed by DRDO’s Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) in collaboration with Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical giant Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL).

Crocidura species

Why in News

A new species of mammal has been discovered in the Andaman island by scientists from the Zoological Survey of India.

Key Points

  • The latest discovery of shrew from the volcanic island increases the total number of catalogued Crocidura species in the Indian checklist of mammals to 12.
  • The discovery published in the journal Nature, stated that the analyses placed the newly discovered species within the Crocidura group.

About Crocidura group

  • Crocidura is a massive genetic group with 198 species found mostly in Africa, Europe and Asia making it the most species-rich group of mammals.
  • This species of animals has a small to medium-sized body with usually short dense grey fur
  • It has a first-unicuspidal tooth (canines) which is large, that protrudes forward and is hooked with a small cusp present behind the main cusp and unpigmented.
  • Due to their secretive behavior and conservative external morphological characters, shrews are regarded as the least studied mammal group.
  • Molecular studies were used to discriminate shrew species, detect cryptic diversity, and study further characteristics.
  • 24 Crocidura species have been newly discovered throughout the world in the last two decades between 2000 and 2020, of which 15 species were discovered in the Indo-Malayan region and Sundaland.

Newly discovered Mammal

  • The new species Crocidura narcondamica is of medium size and has a distinct external morphology with dark grey and dense fur.
  • It has a thick darker tail along with a rounded braincase, elevated with weak lambdoidal ridges in comparison to other close species.
  • DNA analysis was also conducted to identify the exact species of the mammal, which was found to be a female.
  • The new species is presently known only from its type locality, Narcondam Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago.

WhatsApp on privacy policy

Why in News

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology warned WhatsApp once again to roll back its latest update in privacy policy.

WhatsApp Privacy Policy

  • Under new privacy policy of WhatsApp, WhatsApp seeks to share commercial user data with its parent Facebook.
  • It has implemented the policy from 15th May.
  • However, account of those users who do not accept the new terms and conditions will not be immediately deleted.
  • Government has taken strong objection to the new policy as it feels it violates informational privacy, data security and users’ choice for Indian users.
  • The policy is applicable to only Indian users.
  • The policy has also been challenged in Delhi HC and Supreme Court.

Latest Notification

  • The new notice from the Ministry of tech and legal experts feel, may be challenged before a court of law.
  • It is the first time that the Ministry has warned WhatsApp of legal action, stated that it would pursue all legal options available to it “to protect the sovereign rights” of Indian citizens.
  • The Ministry has reiterated that the changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy and the manner of introducing them undermine the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users.

Option for WhatsApp in India

  • According to privacy activists and legal experts, with two government warnings and at least two court cases at its door, WhatsApp is likely to find it difficult to push through the latest privacy policy update.
  • Until May 25, WhatsApp will have to explain to the government why it wants to push the update before India comes out with its law on personal data protection.
  • Although WhatsApp has so far maintained that the app is end-to-end encrypted and it does not share any private data with Facebook.
  • It has said the latest update will enable it to use some of the “business conversations” hosted with Facebook for advertising.
  • This explanation, however, is unlikely to cut ice with the IT Ministry, experts believe, since the government has clearly said that the new privacy policy update is “invasive” in nature.