Current Affair – May 15, 2021

The threat from Red-eared slider turtle 

  • A ‘cute’ American turtle popular as pet is threatening to invade the natural water bodies across the Northeast, which is home to 21 of the 29 vulnerable native Indian species of freshwater turtles and tortoises.
  • Between August 2018 and June 2019, a team of herpetologists from the NGO ‘Help Earth’ found red­ eared sliders in the DeeporBeel Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ugratara temple pond — both in Guwahati.
  • H.T. Lalremsanga and eight others from Mizoram University’s Department of Zoology published another report in April this year.

Report Findings                                                                                                               

  • A red­-eared slider was collected from an unnamed stream, connected to the Tlawng River, on a farm near Mizoram capital Aizawl.
  • Red-eared slider grow fast and virtually leave nothing for the native species to eat.
  • People who keep it as pets become sensitive about turtle conservation but endanger the local ecosystem, probably unknowingly, by releasing them in natural water bodies after they outgrow an aquarium, tank or pool at home.
  • Preventing this invasive species from overtaking the Brahmaputra and other river ecosystems in the Northeast is crucial because the Northeast is home to more than 72% of the turtle and tortoise species in the country, all of them very rare.

About red-eared turtle

  • The red­ eared slider (Trachemysscriptaelegans) derives its name from red stripes around the part where its ears would be and from its ability to slide quickly off any surface into the water.
  • It is native to the U.S. and northern Mexico.
  • It is an extremely popular pet.
  • On the flip side Much like the Burmese python that went to the U.S. as a pet to damage the South Florida Everglades ecosystem, the red­ eared slider has already affected States such as Karnataka and Gujarat, where it has been found in 33 natural water bodies.
Source: The Hindu

National Commission for Scheduled Caste

  • A team of National Commission of Scheduled Caste (NCSC)  led by its chairperson visited violence affected areas in Bardhaman and South 24 Parganas.

About NCSC

  • NCSC is a constitutional body that works to safeguard the interests of the scheduled castes (SC) in India.
  • Till 2018, the commission was also required to discharge similar functions with regard to the other backward classes (OBCs). It was relieved from this responsibility by the 102nd Amendment Act of 2018.

Article 338 of the constitution:

  • It provides for a National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with duties to investigate and monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided for them, to inquire into specific complaints and to participate and advise on the planning process of their socio-economic development etc.


Special Officer

  • Initially, the constitution provided for the appointment of a Special Officer under Article 338.The special officer was designated as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

65th Amendment, 1990

  • It replaced the one-member system with a multi-member National Commission for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

89th Amendment, 2003

  • National Commission for SC and ST was replaced by two separate Commissions from the year 2004: National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)- under Article 338-A.




Three other members.

Source: The Hindu

Elephants death 

  • A total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009­ 10 and 2020­21, according to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Ben­ gal (57), and Odisha (27). Ut­tar Pradesh saw just one death.
  • Trains claimed the highest number of pachyderms in 2012­13, when 27 elephants were killed in 10 States

Measures taken

  • Permanent Coordination Committee was constituted between the Ministry of Rail­ ways (Railway Board) and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.
  • Formation of coordina­tion committees of officers of Indian Railways and State Forest Departments.
  • Clear­ing of vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots, using sig­nage boards at suitable points to alert loco pilots about elephant presence.
  • Moderating slopes of elevat­ed sections of railway tracks, setting up underpass/over­ pass for safe passage of ele­phants, regulation of train speed from sunset to sunrise in vulnerable stretches, and regular patrolling of vulnera­ble stretches of railway tracks by frontline staff of the Forest Department and wil­dlife watchers are among other initiatives the Ministry has undertaken.
  • The MoEFCC released ₹212.49 crore to elephant range States un­der Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) of Project Ele­phant to protect elephants, their habitat and corridors, to address man­-elephant conflicts, and for the welfare of captive elephants, bet­ween 2011­-12 and 2020­-21.
  • Kerala stood at the top in getting CSS funds of ₹35.39 crore during the period. Punjab received the lowest of the funds — ₹1.82 lakh.
Source: The Hindu


  • With the second wave of CO­ VID­19 sweeping across the rural heartland of Odisha, in­fections are being reported among the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • As many as 21 tribals across eight different PVTGs in the State have so far tested positive, including two from the Bonda tribe, known for its secluded lifestyle. Bonda people live in highlands, 3,500­feet above sea level, in Malkangiri, the southern­ most district of Odisha.
  • 4 members of Dongria Kondh, another PVTG, have tested positive.

Steps taken

  • To keep tribal communi­ties safer during the pan­demic, the State government had earlier stopped weekly markets where tribals come in contact with outside world.
  • Help of community leaders to convey messages on CO­ VID­19 appropriate beha­viour in their own dialects.

Odisha tribal population

  • Odisha has among the lar­gest and most diverse tribal populations in the country. Of the 62 tribal groups resid­ing in Odisha, 13 are recog­nised as PVTGs.
  • According to the 2011 Census, Odisha’s share of the country’s total tribal population was 9%. Tribals constitute 22.85% of State’s population.
  • The PVTGs such as Bon­da, Birhor, ChuktiaBhunjia, Didayi, Dongaria Kandha, Hill Kharia, Juang, Kutia Kondh, LanjiaSaora, Lodha, Mankirdia, Paudi Bhuyan and Saorahave been identi­fied on the basis of stagnant or diminishing populations, subsistence level of economy associated with pre­agri­cultural stages of hunting, food gathering and shifting cultivation, and relative physical isolation.

About PVTGs

  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
  • They have declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward.


  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, 23 groups were added in 1993.
  • The total of 75 PVTGs are spread over 18 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands) in the country (2011 census).
  • Odisha (13) has the highest numbers of PVTGs,  followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
  • In 2006, the PTGs were renamed as PVTGs.

Scheme for development of PVTGs

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them.
  • Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry.
  • Priority is also assigned to PVTGs under the schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme (TSS), Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare of Schedule Tribes and Strengthening of Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts.
Source: The Hindu


  • It is a serious, but rare, fungal infection caused by a group of fun­gi known as mucormycetes.


  • Mu­cormycosis usually affects people who have poor immunity and those with uncontrolled diabetes highest risk of developing it. 
  • Other risk factors include steroid treatment, those who have malignancies, HIV/AIDS and those who have been treated with medicines such as deferoxamine for iron overload conditions.

Use of Steroids 

  • When the COVID­19 in­fection takes a more serious turn, heavy doses of steroids are given to the patient as a life­saving mea­sure. This can pre­cipitate new onset diabetes in those who do not have diabetes, or substantially raise blood glucose levels in those persons who alrea­dy have diabetes. This sets the scene for the development of mu­cormycosis.
  • Steroids do not have any role in the prophylax­is or the prevention of COVID­19. Indeed, steroids reduce one’s im­munity and may actually increase the risk of developing COVID­19.
  • Also, in the initial phase of viremia (medical term for viruses present in the bloodstream), the use of ste­roids can actually disseminate the virus widely, thereby worsening the COVID­19 infection.
  • It is only when the cytokine storm is sus­pected, (which usually occurs in the second week of the COVID­19 infection) that steroids should be used, and that too with discretion


  • Those with diabetes to keep their sugar levels under very good control.
  • Judicious use of steroids.
  • Meticulous hygiene and care of the equipment inside the ICU including oxygen tubes and ventilators should be done in or­ der to reduce the risk of fungal and other infections.

Blood glucose

  • Many patients who were put on steroids for COVID­19, their blood glucose levels are not adequately monitored, leading to extremely, and often dangerously, high blood glucose levels. This can also precipitate diabetic ketoaci­dosis — a classic situation where the more dangerous forms of mu­cormycosis occur.
  • Treatment must give equal importance to the con­trol of diabetes.


  • Healthy diet which has a lot of ve­getables and less cereals (rice or chapati) and include more protein in the form of bengal gram, green gram, black gram, or mushroom.
  • Active and regular exercise programme. It is very important for them to have their medicines regularly and if the sugars are not under control, to switch over to insulin if needed, at least for a short period. 
  • Frequent monitoring of sugar levels should be done by us­ing a hand­held, blood glucose meter. It is possible to wear a small sensor patch on the upper arm which can continuously monitor a person’s blood glucose levels and thus keep it under good control throughout the day.
  • It is also very important to get oneself fully vaccinated.
Source: The Hindu

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