GS PAPER II
Report of National Clinical Registry for COVID-19
Why in News
According to the Clinical profile of hospitalised COVID19 patients in first and second wave of the pandemic: insights from an Indian registry based observational study, the ongoing second COVID19 wave had a lower mean age of patients, higher percentage of hospitalisations despite fewer comorbidities and patients with breathlessness in greater frequency, says a new government study.
- The study, recently published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, was jointly conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), using data collected under the National Clinical Registry for Covid19 (NCRC).
- The study looked at data from patients enrolled in 40 hospitals between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, and then February 1 and May 11, 2021. It took into account 18,962 individuals — 12,059 hospitalised patients from the first and 6,903 second COVID wave — enrolled in the NCRC.
- Doctors and researchers across the country have expressed concern about the fact that the study found a greater percentage of younger patients being more affected during the second wave and worse, mortality increased for all age groups except in the under20 age group.
- The study says mortality among hospitalised patients increased by 3.1% in the second wave. Also, a higher proportion of patients complained of shortness of breath, developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and required oxygen support and ventilators in the second wave.
- The study analyses the characteristics of the first wave (from April 2020 to January 2021) and the second wave (which started around February-March 2021).
- In both the waves, people above 60 years were mostly affected, but the second wave also affected a significantly younger population under 40 years and many had no comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension and diminished immunity status.
- Most of the people had fever as the commonest symptom in both cases, but in the second wave, a greater number of affected people had chest problems such as difficulty in breathing, oxygen need and pneumonia.
- Fatalities have also been higher in the second wave.
- Higher usage of healthcare facilities (ICU, oxygen beds) is hence projected in the anticipated third wave of the pandemic.
Third wave different
- The second wave was worse in terms of outcomes of treatments with several young and middle-aged patients requiring high oxygen and ventilation support and showing different symptoms.
- It is expected that the third wave will be different from the second wave, as a lot of the active working population has had exposure to the disease, thereby developing immunity to the disease.
- As per scientific estimates, the third wave might be shorter and milder, in lieu of mortality and morbidity, just like the Spanish flu.
- With the advancements in treatments and preparedness of the healthcare sector, we can fight against the third wave effectively.
- ICMR noted that this study presents a comparison of information collected during two different phases of the COVID19 epidemic in India and these are the findings obtained from inpatient facilities.
- The proportion of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic infections occurring in the community during these two waves should also be taken into consideration while discussing such issues.
- Multiple factors such as heterogeneity between patient groups, immunity developed at the community level from earlier two waves of SARSCoV2 infection in India, vaccination coverage as well as the characteristics of the infecting viral variant will be the determinants of clinical manifestation of COVID19 disease in future.
- There is no scientific basis, as yet, to be alarmed and to think that the third wave is going to be presenting with clinically more severe diseases.
GS PAPER II
National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat)
Why in News
The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education will launch National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) on July 5, 2021.
- The vision of NIPUN Bharat Mission is to create an enabling environment to ensure universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy, so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.
- NIPUN Bharat will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy and a five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at the national- state- district- block- school level in all states and UTs, under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.
- The School Education Department says no additional funding is being allocated for the National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat).
- NIPUN Bharat is likely to emphasise goal setting and accountability for State governments, and provide guidelines for teacher training, assessment and the creation of printed resources.
- It will be funded through Samagra Shiksha itself.
Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan
- Samagra Shiksha is an umbrella scheme, and in 2021 it has been revised.
- According to that revision, a provision has been kept for FLN (foundational literacy and numeracy).
- For 2021-22, the budget estimate for Samagra Shiksha was ₹31,050 crore, a 20% drop from the previous year’s estimate of ₹38,750 crore, although the revised estimate for 2020-21 was just ₹27,957 crore, with poor utilisation due to COVID-19 disruptions.
- Central Square Foundation, a non-governmental organisation with a focus on foundational literacy and numeracy, has provided inputs and technical support to the Centre in the development of this mission.
- The major objectives of the Scheme are:
- Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students;
- Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education;
- Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education;
- Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions;
- Promoting Vocationalisation of education;
- Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009; and
- Strengthening and up-gradation of SCERTs/State Institutes of Education and DIET as a nodal agency for teacher training.
GS PAPER III
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)
Why in News
Five federations of employees of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have issued a resolution condemning the government’s promulgation of the “draconian” Essential Defence Services Ordinance (EDSO), 2021, which bans civilian defence employees from going on strike, and urged its withdrawal.
- The Ordinance came ahead of the planned indefinite strike by employees of the OFB against the decision to convert its 41 factories into seven government owned corporate entities.
- The draconian steps taken by the Government to suppress and crush the democratic rights of the defence civilian employees is retrograde, undemocratic, antiworker and is totally unacceptable to the trade unions and the entire workforce of the defence industry.
- The meeting also unanimously resolved to observe July 8 as an “All India Black Day”.
- The resolution was sent to Defence Ministry and Secretary of defence production which appealed for “withdrawing the EDSO and starting immediate negotiations” with them on the corporatisation of the OFB.
- The joint meeting of the five federations condemned provisions such as the dismissal of employees without holding an inquiry, arresting employees who call the strike and participate in the strike, and punishing employees with imprisonment of up to two years.
Essential Defence Services Ordinance (EDSO), 2021
- The Essential Defence Services Ordinance, 2021 was implemented on June 30, 2021.
- The Ordinance allows the central government to prohibit strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs in units engaged in essential defence services.
Key features of the Ordinance
- Essential defence services:
- Any establishment or undertaking dealing with production of goods or equipment required for defence related purposes, or
- Any establishment of the armed forces or connected with them or defence. These also include services that, if ceased, would affect the safety of the establishment engaged in such services or its employees. The government may declare any service as an essential defence service if its cessation would affect the:
- production of defence equipment or goods,
- operation or maintenance of industrial establishments or units engaged in such production, or
- repair or maintenance of products connected with defence.
- Under the Ordinance, strike is defined as cessation of work by a body of persons acting together.
- It includes:
- Mass casual leave,
- Coordinated refusal of any number of persons to continue to work or accept employment,
- Refusal to work overtime, where such work is necessary for maintenance of essential defence services, and
- Any other conduct which results in, or is likely to result in, disruption of work in essential defence services.
- Prohibition on strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs:
- Under the Ordinance, the central government may prohibit strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs in units engaged in essential defence services.
- The government may issue such order, if necessary, in the interest of:
- Sovereignty and integrity of India,
- Security of any state,
- Public order,
- Decency, or
- The prohibition order will remain in force for six months, and may be extended by six months.
- Strikes and lock-outs that are declared after the issue of the prohibition order, or had commenced before the prohibition order was issued will be illegal.
- The prohibition will not apply to lay-offs made due to power shortage or natural calamity, or lay-offs of temporary or casual workmen.
- Punishment for illegal lock-outs and lay-offs: Employers violating the prohibition order through illegal lock-outs or lay-offs will be punished with up to one year imprisonment or Rs 10,000 fine, or both.
- Punishment for illegal strikes:
- Persons commencing or participating in illegal strikes will be punished with up to one year imprisonment or Rs 10,000 fine, or both.
- Persons instigating, inciting, or taking actions to continue illegal strikes, or knowingly supplying money for such purposes, will be punished with up to two years imprisonment or Rs 15,000 fine, or both.
- Further, such an employee will be liable to disciplinary action including dismissal as per the terms and conditions of his service.
- In such cases, the concerned authority is allowed to dismiss or remove the employee without any inquiry, if it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry.
- All offences punishable under the Ordinance will be cognisable and non-bailable.
- Public utility service:
- The Ordinance amends the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 to include essential defence services under public utility services.
- Under the Act, in case of public utility services, a six-week notice must be given before:
persons employed in such services go on strike in breach of contract or (ii) employers carrying on such services do lock-outs.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)
- Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is a government agency under the control of department of defence production (DDP) Ministry of Defence (MoD).
- The first Indian ordnance factory can trace its root in 1712 when the Dutch Ostend Company established a Gun Powder Factory in Ichhapur.
- Every year, 18th March is celebrated as the Ordnance Factory Day in India.
- It is engaged in research, development, production, testing, marketing and logistics of a product range in the areas of air, land and sea systems.
- It comprises forty-one ordnance factories, nine training institutes, three regional marketing centres and four regional controllerates of safety, which are spread all across the country.
GS PAPER III
Tiangong space station
Why in News
Two astronauts completed the first spacewalk outside China’s new orbital station to set up cameras and other equipment using a robotic arm.
- Tiangong’s construction is a major step in China’s ambitious space programme, which has seen the nation land a rover on Mars and send probes to the moon.
- Three astronauts blasted off in June to become the station’s first crew, where they are to remain for three months in China’s longest crewed mission to date.
- The safe return of astronauts Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo to the Tianhe core module marks the complete success of the first spacewalk in China’s space station construction.
- Their tasks involved elevating a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module, as well as testing the station’s robotic arm which will be used to transfer future modules around the station.
- The astronauts installed foot stops on the robotic arm and, with its support, carried out other assembly work.
Tiangong space station
- Tiangong is the successor to China’s Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space laboratories, launched in 2011 and 2016, respectively.
- It will be built on a modular design, similar to the International Space Station operated by the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency.
- When complete, Tiangong will consist of a core module attached to two laboratories with a combined weight of nearly 77 tons (70 tonnes).
- The core capsule, named Tianhe is about the size of a bus. Containing life support and control systems, this core will be the station’s living quarters.
- At 25 tons (22.5 metric tonnes), the Tianhe capsule is the biggest and heaviest spacecraft China has ever constructed.
- The capsule will be central to the space station’s future operations. In 2022, two slightly smaller modules are expected to join Tianhe to extend the space station and make it possible to carry out various scientific and technological experiments.
- Ultimately, the station will include 14 internal experiment racks and 50 external ports for studies of the space environment.