Union HRD Ministry has launched the MANODARPAN initiative to provide psychological support to students for their Mental Health and well-being.
- MANODARPAN covers a wide range of activities to provide Psychosocial Support to students for their Mental Health & Well-being during the COVID outbreak and beyond.
- A Working Group, having experts from the fields of education, mental health and psychosocial issues as its members, has been set up to monitor and promote the mental health issues and concerns of students and to facilitate providing of support to address the mental health and psychosocial aspects during and after COVID-19 lockdown, through counselling services, online resources and helpline.
- The resources mobilised through the MANODARPAN initiative are envisaged to facilitate a sustainable psychological support system for students, families and teachers, and will be a great utility even in the post-corona times with proactive and preventive mental health and well-being services integrated into the mainstream of learning processes.
Recently, the results of the early human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca have shown promise.
How does it work?
- When someone is infected with the Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), the reason it spreads in the body easily is because of the spikes on its surface. These spikes, known as the ‘spike protein’, allow the virus to penetrate cells and, thereafter, multiply.
- The vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, which belongs to a category called non-replicating viral vector vaccines, tries to build the body’s immunity against this spike protein. The idea is to create antibodies to fight this spiked surface so that the virus does not even have the chance to penetrate the cells.
- The vaccine uses a different virus — in this case, a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that infects chimpanzees — to carry just the code to make the spike protein, like a Trojan horse. The adenovirus, genetically modified so that it cannot replicate in humans, will enter the cell and release the code to make only the spike protein. The body’s immune system is expected to recognise the spike protein as a potentially harmful foreign substance, and starts building antibodies against it.
- Once immunity is built, the antibodies will attack the real virus if it tries to infect the body.
As one ages, inflammation throughout the body reaches higher levels. Known as ‘inflammageing’, this can inhibit immunity.
Because the most severe Covid-19 cases have occurred mostly in older people, researchers are investigating whether inflammageing has a role. Is it the trigger that causes extreme inflammatory responses, which are common in the lungs of severe Covid-19 patients?
What does the research say?
- Researchers have discussed the impact of inflammageing on immunity in ageing individuals. They suggest that reducing inflammation using anti-inflammatory drugs may provide a therapeutic strategy, not only for enhancing immunity butalso for potentially improving Covid-19 outcomes in older patients.
- In an article introducing the Perspective, Science publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science explains how our immune system weakens with age. As this happens, our bodily defence systems respond more slowly to bacterial and viral infections, leaving the elderly more vulnerable.
How inflammageing is worsening COVID-19?
- In addition to the deterioration of immunity, another common condition of ageing is inflammageing. This is characterised by chronic low-grade inflammation, which occurs without an infection.
- While inflammation is essential to the immune response, inflammageing is not. Research has shown that this state of elevated inflammation can worsen many age-related diseases, and further inhibit the response from an already declining immune system.
- In the case of Covid, the Perspective suggests it could be the initial trigger that kicks off the extreme inflammatory responses seen in the most severely ill patients.
Elevate ties with the Arab World
In his recent article, C Raja Mohan has argued that the persistent enthusiasm for Iran in Delhi stands in stark contrast to the perennial under-appreciation of India’s much deeper and wider relationship with Iran’s Arab neighbours.
What does he argue?
- He favours “an extra-special relationship with Iran”. These include historical connections, civilisational bonds, energy supplies and regional security. But he points out that all these factors are of far greater import in India’s engagement with the Arabian peninsula.
- Millions of Indian immigrants in the Arab nations, massive hard currency remittances from them, and the density of commercial engagement with the Arab Gulf outweigh the relationship with Iran.
- The UAE and Saudi Arabia have, in recent years, extended invaluable support in countering terrorism and blocked attempts to condemn India in the Muslim world.
What should India do?
- He says that for both internal (repeated rebellions against the clerical regime) and external (the US sanctions etc) reasons, Iran will remain a difficult place to do business. Delhi must advance ties with it within the confines of that unfortunate but real constraint.
- Meanwhile, the Arab world has had its doors open for political, economic, and technological cooperation with India.
- This provides a solid basis for elevating India’s economic partnership with the Arab world to the next level. For India, the costs of neglecting the new possibilities for wide-ranging Arabian business are far higher than a lost railway contract in Iran.
Union Ministry of Power has recently launched the “Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency” (RAISE) national programme.
It is a joint programme of the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
- Poor air quality has been a concern in India for quite some time and has become more important in light of the COVID pandemic. As people return to their offices and public spaces, maintaining good indoor air quality is essential for occupant comfort, well-being, productivity and the overall public health.
- In that context, EESL has undertaken a retrofit of its office air-conditioning and ventilation system. This is a part of the larger initiative to “Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor air quality for Safety and Efficiency” developed for healthy and energy efficient buildings, in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID).
MAITREE programme –
- It is also a joint initiative of Ministry of Power and USAID which focuses on improving indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort, and energy efficiency (EE) in office’s air conditioning system.
- The project has been started at EESL’s office. As per EESL, pilot project has shown very impressive results – about 80% improvement in Air Quality parameters with almost no implementation hassles.
Recently, the Assam government has decided to upgrade the status of Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary to a National Park.
It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in the year 2004.
What does this upgraded status mean?
As a national park, its importance will increase and new rules will bring increased vigilance. While wildlife sanctuaries are protected areas which permit some activities such as grazing, national parks call for a complete protection status under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Some human activities can be allowed inside a wildlife sanctuary, but no human activity is allowed in a national park.
About Dehing Patkai –
- The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is also known as the Jeypore Rainforest.
- It is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam.
- Dehing is the name of the river that flows through this forest and Patkai is the hill at the foot of which the sanctuary lies.
- Fauna: Rare fauna found in the region include Chinese pangolin, flying fox, wild pig, sambar, barking deer, gaur, serow and Malayan giant squirrels. It is the only sanctuary in India which is home to seven different species of wild cats – tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, leopard cat, golden cat, jungle cat and marbled cat. Assamese macaque, a primate found in the forest, is in the red list of Near Threatened species.
- Flora: Dehing Patkai is a deciduous rainforest interspersed with semi-evergreen and lush green flora.