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G.S II - Health

Disease X - Tracking the Next Pandemic

Why in news?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it is updating the list of priority pathogens that pose the greatest public health risk due to their epidemic potential.

What is Disease X?

  • Disease X is not a new disease. It is a potential disease that is yet to be discovered and can cause the next pandemic.
  • Disease X is a placeholder name adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018.
  • According to WHO, it represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.
  • It is part of WHO’s priority diseases list prepared for R&D in a public health emergency context.

pandemicHow is WHO tracking the next pandemic?

  • R&D Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics - In 2015, the WHO convened a network of experts to develop the R&D Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics in order to stop outbreaks from turning into public health emergencies.
  • The need to develop such a blueprint was sharply felt during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
  • Objective - The blueprint includes goals and research priority areas to accelerate the development of testing, vaccines and therapeutics of diseases caused by the listed priority pathogens.
  • Procedure - For each disease on the list of priority pathogens, an R&D roadmap and target product profiles (TPP) is created, to guide outbreak responses.
  • When an outbreak is recorded, the blueprint moves from R&D preparedness to an emergency R&D response plan.
  • The Blueprint also works with partners, including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R).
  • Significance - The R&D roadmap serve as important tool to identify effective health technologies and save lives by integrating research into response.
  • The WHO uses this blueprint to guide responses to outbreaks and improve global response for future epidemics.
  • The 2016 Zika outbreak emerged as a testing ground for the R&D Blueprint.

CEPI is an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations working to accelerate the development of vaccines against epidemic and pandemic threats.

What about the list of priority diseases?

  • It is a WHO tool that distinguishes the diseases posing the greatest public health risk due to their epidemic potential and/or whether there is no or insufficient countermeasures.
  • This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it indicate the most likely causes of the next epidemic.
  • Based on the priority diseases, WHO develops R&D roadmaps for each one.
  • WHO conducted its last prioritisation exercise in 2018 and a new updated list is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2023.


What is the new prioritisation exercise about?

  • Viral family approach - A viral family approach will be adopted by identifying representative viruses (or prototypes) within a viral family as a pathfinder that may be applied to other viruses of threat in the same family.
  • Experts will review the science related to around 25 viral family groups and shortlist viruses of concern.
  • One bacterial group will also be added to ensure that risks of naturally occurring bacterial threats are accounted for.
  • An independent Prioritisation Advisory Committee (PAC) will conduct the final prioritisation following a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach.
  • Significance - This approach allows for fast-track research on entire families of viruses instead of individual strains.
  • It broadens the knowledge of experts and improves response to unforeseen strains, including those that may cause Disease X.

Related linksLassa fever, Zika infection, Nipah infection, Rift Valley Fever, Marburg Virus, Types of Corona Viruses



  1. The Hindu│ Disease X: Tracking the next pandemic
  2. WHO│ Prioritizing diseases for research and development
  3. Business Today│ Disease X

G.S II - Polity

Settling the Language for Cooperative Federalism

Why in news?

The latest effort to impose Hindi raises once again the issue of cultural nationalism, quite retrogressively.

What is the issue?

  • Language is an essential ingredient of identity.
  • The question of expressing national identity in a linguistically diverse society anxious was debated by the Constitution-makers and even linked to national prestige.
  • The 11th volume of the official language committee recommended Hindi as the language of instruction and examinations in technical courses.
  • This touched off a debate on its implications and practicality in terms of the availability of course material and of teachers qualified to communicate it adequately.
  • Other issue is the competence of candidates undertaking examinations in Hindi language and competing in equal measure with those whose mother tongue it is.

What are the major provisions regarding languages?



Article 345

The State legislature may adopt any one or more of the languages or Hindi as the official language of that State.

Until the State Legislature otherwise provides, English shall continue to be used as official language of the State.

Article 348

Until Parliament by law otherwise provides, all proceedings in the Supreme Court and High Court, Bills, acts, amendments, ordinances, rules, etc. shall be in English.

Article 351

It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of Hindi as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.

The Eighth Schedule

It consists of the 22 languages and spells out the diversity of the language landscape.

The Official Languages Act, 1963 and its Rules

The Act provided for the continuation of English language for official purposes of the Union and for use in Parliament.

It recognizes the complexity of the language landscape in India.

Union List

Covers educational institutions of national importance, scientific and technical education financed by Government of India

Concurrent List

Covers education including technical, medical and universities

  • The Constituent Assembly debate covered language of legislatures, language of the courts and the judiciary, and language of the official work of the Union.

To know more about languages of India, click here

What about the origin of the dissent?

The Linguistic Provinces Commission (S K Dhar Commission) set up in 1948 argued against a linguistic basis of reorganisation of states, as it could lead to further division.

  • The dissent began with the appointment of the First Official Language Commission headed by B.G. Kher in 1955.
  • It assumed a violent form in 1965 in Tamil Nadu, where violent disturbances led to more than 50 deaths.
  • So far, only the recommendations of the official language committee reports up to the ninth have been forwarded to the Parliament.
  • The 10th and 11th reports have been submitted to the President and are not in the public domain.


What is the national language issue?

  • Linguistic chauvinism is the term that firmly exercises power and superiority of one language over others.
  • Excessive pride in one's own language breeds resentment and division.
  • There are multiple concerns about imposing Hindi, such as the implications for competitiveness in the job market.
  • Neither the chapter on Official Language nor Directive Principles of State Policy or Fundamental Duties, mention about national language.
  • The constitutional course would be to opt for the language of Article 345 that allows each Legislature to use Hindi or to choose its language, for all official purposes.

Quick Facts

Parliamentary Committee of Official Language

  • The Parliamentary Committee of Official Language was set up in 1976 under Section 4 of The Official Languages Act, 1963.
  • The Committee is chaired by the Union Home Minister and has 30 members - 20 MPs from Lok Sabha and 10 MPs from Rajya Sabha.
  • Purpose of the Committee
    • To review the progress made in the use of Hindi for official purposes, and
    • To make recommendations to increase the use of Hindi in official communications.
  • Under the provisions of the 1963 Act, the panel submits its report to the President, who shall lay the report before each House of Parliament and sent to all the State Governments.



  1. The Hindu│ Settling the language for cooperative federalism
  2. UTS│ A closer look at India’s language

G.S II - Polity

Entry of Women in Masjids

Why in news?

Recently, Delhi’s Jama Masjid, one of India’s biggest mosques, has prohibited the entry of solitary or group of girls into the mosque without the presence of a male companion.

What is the issue about?

  • The authorities reasoned that the ban is to stop some women who fail to respect the sanctity of the place of worship by making videos there.
  • The management clarified that the ban excluded those women coming for worship, or those accompanied by their husband or families.
  • Following a meeting with the Lieutenant-Governor, the mosque authorities withdrew the ban.
  • In 2019, the Jama Masjid administration had banned shooting videos with music inside the mosque.
  • Incidentally, the Jama Masjid is otherwise one of the few mosques to allow women worshippers to offer regular prayers.

What is the Islamic law on women’s entry?

  • Most Islamic scholars agree that a prayer can be offered at home but can only be established in a group.
  • Most of them also agree that women have been exempted, not prohibited from going to the mosque, keeping in mind their child-rearing and other domestic responsibilities.
  • The Quran at no place prohibits women from going to mosques for prayers.
  • Wherever the Quran talks of establishing prayer, it talks in gender neutral terms.
  • Before the five daily prayers, a prayer call or azaan is pronounced, inviting both men and women for prayers.
  • For Hajj and Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), Mecca and Medina have separate halls earmarked for men and women to pray.

What about the practice across the continent?

  • West Asia - There is no ban on women coming to the masjid for prayers.
  • U.S. and Canada - Women access mosques for prayers, and even gather there for special Taraweeh prayers in Ramzan.
  • India - Only a handful of mosques maintained or owned by Jamaat-e-Islami and the Ahl-e-Hadith sect have provisions for women worshippers.
  • Most mosques while not expressly forbidding women’s entry in masjids, have no provision or a separate prayer zone for women.
  • Under the circumstances, they are reduced to a ‘men only’ zone.

Have there been similar bans before?

  • In 2011, a grill was put up on the premises of the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, prohibiting the entry of women inside the sanctum sanctorum.
  • With the requests to enter being denied by the dargah management, a campaign, ‘Haji Ali for All’, was started.
  • The women approached the Bombay High Court which ruled in their favour in 2016.

A Dargah is a Sufi Islamic shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or dervish.

What is the legal issue?

  • According to the Constitution, there is complete equality between men and women.
  • In the Haji Ali Dargah case, the High Court quoted Articles 15, 16 and 25 of the Constitution to grant women the desired access to the dargah.
  • There are petitions filed before the Supreme Court wherein access has been sought for women in all mosques across the country.
  • The apex court has clubbed them with the Sabarimala case.



Article 15

 Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

Article 16

 Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment

Article 25

 Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion

Related links - SC Verdict on Women's Entry into Sabarimala Temple



  1. The Hindu│On the entry of women in masjids
  2. The Indian Express│ Restriction on the entry of women into masjids

Prelim Bits

Prelim Bits 30-11-2022 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

Volcanic Eruptions

Mauna Loa of Hawaii, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted after 38 years spewing ash and debris into the sky.

  • A volcano is a rupture in the Earth’s crust that allows hot ashes, gases, and magma (lava) to escape into the air and travel along the nearby land surface.

Process of Volcanic Eruption

  • Under the surface of the Earth, the amount that the Earth’s temperature increases with depth due to geothermal gradient.
  • Magma - At a certain depth, the heat high enough to melts rocks.
  • Magma is the molten rock which is lighter than solid rock and hence it rises, collecting in magma chambers.
  • Magma chambers - are found at a relatively shallow depth (upper mantle).
  • These magma chambers have the potential to cause volcanic eruptions.
  • As magma builds up in these chambers, it forces its way up through cracks and fissures in Earth’s crust.
  • This upwelling of magma is called as volcanic eruption.
  • Lava – It refers to the magma that surfaces on the Earth’s crust.

Types of Explosive Eruptions

  • The intensity and explosiveness of a volcano depends upon the composition and viscosity of the magma.

Less Explosive

More Explosive

Magma should be thin and runny.

Magma should be thick and sticky.

Gasses are able to escape gradually in runny magma.

Thick magma makes it harder for gasses to escape on a consistent basis.

The flow of lava out of the mouth of the volcano is steady but relatively gentle.

Unescapable gases build-up pressure until a breaking point is reached.

When the gasses escape violently, all at once, it causes an explosion.

Typically less explosive volcanic eruptions are less dangerous.

Explosive sort of eruption can be deadly.

Example: Mauna Loa

Example: Mount Vesuvius

Dangers of Explosive Volcano

  • Tephra - In an explosive volcanic eruption, lava blasts into the air, it ejects fragments of volcanic rock and lava called tephra.
  • These tephra can be extremely dangerous, depending on their size ranging from tiny particles to massive boulders.
  • When thick clouds of tephra race down the side of the volcano, they destroy everything in their path.
  • Ash Falls - Ash erupted into the sky falls back to Earth like powdery snow. If thick enough, blankets of ash can suffocate plants, animals, and humans.
  • Mudflows (lahars) - When the hot volcanic materials mix with nearby sources of water, they can create mudflows which are capable of burying entire communities alive.
  • Pyroclastic flows – It is a fluidized emulsion of volcanic particles, eruption gases, and entrapped air, resulting in a flow of viscosity low enough to be mobile and high enough to fall back on the ground.
The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a scale used to measure the explosivity of a volcano. It has a range of 1 to 8 with a higher VEI indicating more explosivity.


  1. Indian Express - What is the science behind volcanic eruptions?
  2. Down to Earth - Mauna Loa wakes up after almost 40 years

CITES Big Cat Task Force

CITES COP19 has proposed a tentative budget of $150,000 for the Task Force which will be secured by external funding from the United States.

  • The 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to CITES adopted the decision on a Big Cat Task Force from the previous COP (CoP18-Geneva, 2019) with a few amendments.
  • The Task Force is a forum to discuss challenges that affect enforcement and implementation of laws regarding illegal trade in big cats.
  • Participation of these Parties in the Task Force could facilitate and promote exchanges concerning possible best practices and solutions.


Functions of Big Cats Task Force

  • Discuss enforcement and implementation issues related to the illegal trade in specimens of big cats.
  • Exchange intelligence and other information (like status, scale, and dynamics) on the illegal trade in big cats, especially those listed in the CITES appendix.
  • Share information about techniques and tools for identifying big cat specimens in trade, and identify needs and knowledge gaps.
  • Develop strategies and make recommendations to improve international cooperation regarding the enforcement of CITES concerning illegal trade in specimens of big cats.

Membership of the Task Force

  • Parties most affected by illegal trade in big cats which include 44 countries across the world.
  • Representatives from the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) partner organizations.
  • Other Parties and organizations and experts who could contribute.
  • Species of priority concern of Big Cats Task Force


  1. Down To Earth - CITES COP19 adopted Big Cat Task Force
  2. CITES - Big Cats Task Force

Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage

NITI Aayog released a study report on the Policy Framework of Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS).

  • The report is titled 'Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) Policy Framework and its Deployment Mechanism in India',
  • The report suggests CCUS technology for decarbonising carbon dioxide (CO2) from high polluting sectors such as steel, cement, oil, gas, petrochemicals, chemicals and fertilisers.
  • The report says CCUS has a critical role to play for the country to halve CO2 emissions by 2050.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and CCUS are technologies that help in promoting the low carbon-hydrogen economy and in removal of the CO2 stock from the atmosphere.
  • CCS - Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a way of reducing carbon emissions from power generation or industrial activity, such as steel or cement making.
  • It’s a three-step process, involving:
    1. Capturing the CO2 produced.
    2. Transporting the captured CO2.
    3. Storing it deep underground.
  • CCUS - Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) is a related concept of CCS and follows similar steps in the process.
  • It is a way to reduce carbon emission by either storing or reusing it so that captured carbon dioxide does not enter the atmosphere.
  • The difference between CCS and CCUS is that the captured carbon could be re-used instead of storing.
  • The captured carbon could be used in industrial processes by converting it. For example, plastics, concrete or biofuel.


  1. The Hindu - NITI Aayog proposes CCUS to industrial emissions
  2. Economic Times - Carbon capture key for sustainable development
  3. Department of Science and Technology - CCUS

Tribal Development Report 2022

The Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation, released a first-of-its-kind Tribal Development Report-2022.

  • Tribal Development Report-2022 was released in two volumes by the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF).
    1. Volume I: Livelihoods
    2. Volume II: Human Development and Governance
  • The report looks at the status of tribal communities at an all-India level and in central India.
  • The goal of the report is to inform stakeholders, including key policymakers, practitioners, activists, and academics, to help understand the scope of tribal issues.
  • It highlights the need for a paradigm shift to agroecology-based, nature-positive farming and sustainable water use driven by local institutions.
  • It also presents a progress report on the implementation Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (or PESA), 1996, and the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

Central India is home to 80% of the tribal communities in the country.

Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF)

  • BRLF was set up by the Government of India as an independent society under the Ministry of Rural Development, to scale up civil society action in partnership with the central and state governments.


  1. Down To Earth - Adivasis at bottom of India’s development pyramid
  2. The Hindu - Study on status of tribal communities in India
  3. East Mojo - First-of-its-kind Tribal Development Report

Samanvay 2022

Indian Air Force conducted the Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise ‘Samanvay 2022’.

  • Samanvay is an annual multi-agency Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise.
  • The 2022 Samanvay exercise was conducted by the Indian Air Force at the Agra Air Force Station.
  • Representatives from ASEAN nations and the national and regional stakeholders involved in disaster management attending the exercise
  • The aim of the exercise includes assessing the efficacy of institutional Disaster Management structures and contingency measures.
  • The exercise promotes a synergistic approach by involving various stakeholders involved in Disaster Management.
  • The exercise would aid in the evolution of institutional frameworks for effective communication, interoperability, cooperation in HADR.
  • The exercise also aims to provide a unique platform for the exchange of domain knowledge, experience and best practices with the participating ASEAN member countries.

Disaster Management in India

In India, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is the apex statutory body for disaster management.

It was formally constituted on 27th September 2006, in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with Prime Minister as its Chairperson.


  1. PIB - HADR exercise ‘Samanvay 2022’
  2. The Hindu - Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief 2022
  3. News On Air - Samanvay 2022: Annual Joint HADR exercise


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