Essential Facts (Prelims): 15 March, 2019

West Nile virus

Category: Science

  • Recently a 7-year-old boy from Kerala was found to be infected by the West Nile virus (WNV).
  • West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease.
  • It is mostly reported in continental United States.
  • WNV can cause neurological disease and death in humans.
  • The virus is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia. Humans, horses and other mammals can be infected.
  • Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet for humans.

Climate vulnerability index

Category: Environment

  • A climate vulnerability index for India on the anvil.
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be commissioning a study to assess the climate risks faced by States in India.
  • ‘Vulnerability index’ of States is prepared based on district-level data.
  • Vulnerability would be a measure of the inherent risks a district faces, primarily by virtue of its geography and socio-economic situation.
  • The scientists conducted workshops with the States and culled eight key parameters on the basis of which a vulnerability score could be generated. They included: percentage of area in districts under forests, yield variability of food grain, population density, female literacy rate, infant mortality rate, percentage of population below poverty line, average man-days under MGNREGA and the area under slope > 30%.
  • On a scale ranging 0-1, 1 indicating the highest possible level of vulnerability, at the top of the scale were Assam with a score of 0.72 and Mizoram at 0.71.

China’s ‘hold’ on Azhar

Category: International

  • China decided to place a “hold” on the UN Security Council listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
  • China’s hold does not automatically kill the current proposal to list Azhar.
  • China can maintain the hold for up to six months according to the guidelines of the 1267 ISIL and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee. After that, it can request one extension for up to three months.
  • This means, if India chooses to pursue the issue, it could use the time to convince China of the importance of the move.

Electoral bonds

Category: Polity & Governance

  • Electoral bonds have been introduced to promote transparency in funding and donation received by political parties.
  • The bonds can be encashed by an eligible political party only through their accounts with authorised banks.
  • The bonds do not have the name of the donor or the receiving political party and only carry unique hidden alphanumeric serial numbers as an in-built security feature.
  • The electoral bond can be bought for any value and has a life of only 15 days.
  • Bonds will be available for purchase only for 10 days in designated months.

Observer App

Category: Polity & Governance

  • The Election Commission has for the first time started using a mobile application that will help poll observers to submit reports.
  • The officials deployed for elections will get all the important notifications and alerts through the ‘Observer App’.
  • It will also help them get their deployment status and download the ID card.
  • As the observers will be involved in real-time disposal of cases of violation of the Model Code of Conduct and expenditure received through another mobile application ‘cVIGIL’, those details will also be available on the ‘Observer’.