Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
1. What is pool testing of Corona?
GS Paper : 1
Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Their origin, how are they different from other sects and their contributions.
Why in News?
Recent Patiala incident in which a group of Nihangs attacked a Punjab police party and chopped off the hand of an assistant sub-inspector when stopped for a curfew pass, and the subsequent seizure of weapons and narcotics, has put the spotlight on the Nihangs.
Who is a Nihang?
Nihang is an order of Sikh warriors.
They are characterised by blue robes, antiquated arms such as swords and spears, and decorated turbans surmounted by steel quoits.
What does the word ‘Nihang’ mean?
Etymologically the word nihang in Persian means an alligator, sword and pen but the characteristics of Nihangs seem to stem more from the Sanskrit word nihshank which means without fear, unblemished, pure, carefree and indifferent to worldly gains and comfort.
Sources trace their origin to Guru Gobind Singh’s younger son, Fateh Singh (1699-1705), who once appeared in the Guru’s presence dressed in a blue chola and blue turban with a dumala (piece of cloth forming a plume).
On seeing his son look so majestic, the Guru remarked that it shall be the dress of Nihangs, the reckless soldiers of the Khalsa
How were Nihangs different from other Sikhs, and other Sikh warriors?
- Nihangs observe the Khalsa code of conduct in its strictest sense. They do not profess any allegiance to an earthly master. Instead of saffron they hoist a blue Nishan Sahib (flag) atop their shrines.
- Nihangs use the slogans ‘chhardi kala’ (forever in high spirits) and ‘tiar bar tiar’ (state of ever preparedness) for unforeseen events.
- The Nihangs are fond of a popular drink called shardai or sharbati degh (sacrament drink) which contains grounded almonds, cardamom seeds, poppy seeds, black pepper, rose petals and melon seeds.
- When a small measure of cannabis is added to it, it is termed sukhnidhan (treasure of comfort).
- A higher dose of cannabis in it was known as shaheedi deg, sacrament of martyrdom. It was taken (while) battling enemies.
What is their role in Sikh history?
- Nihangs had a major role in defending the Sikh panth after the fall of the first Sikh rule (1710-15) when Mughal governors were killing Sikhs, and during the onslaught of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Durrani (1748-65).
- Nihangs also took control of the religious affairs of the Sikhs at Akal Bunga (now known as Akal Takht) in Amritsar. They did not consider themselves subordinate to any Sikh chief and thus maintained their independent existence.
- Their clout came to an end after the fall of Sikh Empire in 1849 when the British authorities of Punjab appointed a manager (sarbrah) for the administration of the Golden Temple in 1859.
- What is Khalsa code of conduct?
- Who helped Ahmed Shah Durrani invade India?
- What is the difference between Shardai, Sukhnidhan and Shaheedi deg?
- Who was Guru Gobind Singh? His contributions to Sikh community?
Who are Nihangs? How are they different from other Sikhs, and other Sikh warriors? Discuss.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
What to study?
For Prelims: What is it? How is it carried out?
For Mains: Significance and the need for this procedure.
Context: The Supreme Court has upheld Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon’s March decision asking the then Kamal Nath led-Congress government to prove majority by holding a floor test in the Legislative Assembly after the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs.
Observations made by the Court:
- In a situation where the governor has reasons to believe that the council of ministers headed by the chief minister has lost the confidence of the House, constitutional propriety requires that the issue be resolved by calling for a floor test.
- The governor in calling for a floor test cannot be construed to have acted beyond the bounds of constitutional authority. This means, while directing a trust vote, the Governor should not favour a particular political party.
- A Governor’s power to call for a floor test is not restricted only before the inception of a State government immediately after elections, but continues throughout its term.
- The Governor’s requirement to have a trust vote does not “short-circuit” any disqualification proceedings pending before the Speaker. A Governor need not wait for the Speaker’s decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs before calling for a trust vote.
What is a “floor test”?
A floor test is the determination on the floor of the House (in this case, the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha) whether the Chief Minister commands the support of the majority of the MLAs.
This can be done by means of a voice vote, or by recording the vote of each MLA in the House. This determination of majority is done in a sitting of the legislature, for which the legislature has to be convened.
How it takes place?
- This voting process happen in the state’s Legislative Assembly or the Lok Sabha at the central level.
- Technically, the chief minister of a state is appointed by the Governor. The appointed chief minister usually belongs to the single largest party or the coalition which has the ‘magic number’. The magic number is the total number of seats required to form a government, or stay in power. It is the half-way mark, plus one. In case of a tie, the Speaker casts the deciding vote.
- However, at times, a government’s majority can be questioned. The leader of the party claiming majority has to move a vote of confidence.
- If some MLAs remain absent or abstain from voting, the majority is counted on the basis of those present and voting. This effectively reduces the strength of the House and in turn brings down the majority-mark.
- The voting process can happen orally, with electronic gadgets or a ballot process.
- The Governor can also ask the Chief Minister to prove his or her majority in the House if the stability of the government comes into question.
- Floor test vs Composite floor test.
- Majority required to form the govt.
- Voting during floor test.
- Appointment of Chief Minister when there is clear majority vs Hung assembly.
- Can speaker cast his vote?
Ambiguity in the law on conducting floor tests often lead to abuses and misuses. Comment.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Measles- causes, symptoms, spread and vaccines.
Context: As per UNICEF and WHO, around 117 million children worldwide risk contracting measles because dozens of countries are curtailing their vaccination programmes as they battle COVID-19.
What’s the issue?
Currently 24 countries, including several already dealing with large measles outbreaks, have suspended widespread vaccinations.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has necessitated many prevention measures including strict lockdowns, has kept infants from getting routine immunisation services from some other diseases such as polio, yellow fever and cholera.
What is It?
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Spread: Measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
- Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
- The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.
Routine measles vaccination for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with low routine coverage, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.
Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020. WHO is the lead technical agency responsible for coordination of immunization and surveillance activities supporting all countries to achieve this goal.
What is Rubella?
Also called German Measles, Rubella is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.
- Difference between Measles and Rubella?
- What is Global Vaccine Action Plan?
- Difference between contagious and non contagious viral infection?
- How vaccination works?
- Composition of UNICEF.
Where does India stand in battle against Measles? Do you think India can achieve its 2020 target? Discuss the status of MR in India and the challenges it has been facing in eliminating the same.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: ASEAN- objectives, members and functions.
For Mains: Significance of the group, challenges present and ways to make it more effective.
Context: In an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held online recently, leaders of the virus-hit region warned of the crippling economic cost of COVID-19, calling for trade routes to reopen to protect jobs and food supplies, as well as the stockpiling of medical equipment.
What is ASEAN?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization which was established to promote political and social stability amid rising tensions among the Asia-Pacific’s post-colonial states. The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”. ASEAN Secretariat – Indonesia, Jakarta.
Established in 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers. Founding Fathers of ASEAN are: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
ASEAN Summit: The supreme policy making body of ASEAN. As the highest level of authority in ASEAN, the Summit sets the direction for ASEAN policies and objectives. Under the Charter, the Summit meets twice a year.
ASEAN Ministerial Councils: The Charter established four important new Ministerial bodies to support the Summit.
- ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC).
- ASEAN Political-Security Community Council.
- ASEAN Economic Community Council.
- ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council.
Significance of the grouping:
3rd largest market in the world – larger than EU and North American markets. 6th largest economy in the world, 3rd in Asia. Free-trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Fourth most popular investment destination globally.
- Geographical location of asean countries.
- Total population of asean countries.
- Chairmanship of ASEAN.
- When and where Asean summits are held?
- What are Free-trade agreements (FTAs)?
Examine the significance of ASEAN for India’s economic, geo-strategic and security imperatives?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: What is it? How it is carried out? Significance and challenges?
Context: Stating that the number of COVID-19 cases in India is rising, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is now advising the feasibility of using pooled samples for molecular testing of patient samples. The council has said that it is critical to increase the numbers of tests conducted by laboratories. The advisory is aimed at increasing capacity of the laboratories to screen increased numbers of samples using molecular testing for COVID-19 for the purpose of surveillance.
How does it work?
A pooled testing algorithm involves the PCR screening of a specimen pool comprising multiple individual patient specimens, followed by individual testing (pool de-convolution) only if a pool screens positive. As all individual samples in a negative pool are regarded as negative, it results in substantial cost savings when a large proportion of pools tests negative.
What the ICMR has recommended?
- As per ICMR, preferable number of samples to be pooled is five, though more than two samples can be pooled, but considering higher possibility of missing positive samples with low viral load, it is strongly discouraged to pool more than five samples, except in research mode.
- Also, the study has recommended that it should be used only in areas with low prevalence of COVID-19 (initially using proxy of low positivity of less than 2% from the existing data).
- In areas with positivity of 2-5%, sample pooling for PCR screening may be considered only in community survey or surveillance among asymptomatic individuals, strictly excluding pooling samples of individuals with known contact with confirmed cases and health care workers (in direct contact with care of COVID-19 patients).
- Sample from such individuals should be directly tested without pooling.
Why we need pool testing?
- This will reduce the total test kits used to examine patients and treat them.
- It is also expected to trim the work at the laboratories testing these samples.
- International researchers suggest that pooling test samples is cost effective, especially for the countries with limited resources.
- It can be used to prevent community spread of the disease.
Sources: the Hindu.
Insights Current Affairs Analysis (I–CAN) by IAS Topper