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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 10th May to 17th May – 2020

  • IASbaba
  • May 19, 2020
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IASbaba's Press Information Bureau, UPSC Articles
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IASBABA’S INTEGRATED LEARNING PROGRAMME (ILP)

Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 10th May to 17th May – 2020

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GS-2

Development of an online dashboard – National Migrant Information System (NMIS)

(Topic: Response to COVID-19 crisis)

In order to capture the information regarding movement of migrants and facilitate the smooth movement of stranded persons across States, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has developed an online Dashboard – National Migrant Information System (NMIS).

  • Maintain a central repository on migrant workers
  • Help in speedy inter-State communication/co-ordinationto facilitate their smooth movement to native places
  • Contact tracing, which may be useful in overall COVID-19 response work
  • Standardised key data pertaining to the persons migrating for uploading 

States will be able to visualize how many people are going out from where and how many are reaching destination States. The mobile numbers of people can be used for contact tracing and movement monitoring during COVID-19.


Launch of GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)

(Topic: Skill development)

By the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in partnership with Facebook where 5,000 young tribal entrepreneurs, professionals, artisans and artists will be trained on digital skills under digital entrepreneurship program

The digitally enabled program envisages to act as a catalyst to explore hidden talents of the tribal youth, which will help in their personal development as well as contribute to all-round upliftment of their society.

  • To upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths in the current phase to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international markets
  • Designed with a long term vision to develop the potential of tribal youth and women to help them acquire skills and knowledge through mentorship in various sectors including horticulture, food processing, bee keeping, tribal art and culture, medicinal herbs, entrepreneurship among others.
  • Demonstrates affirmative action which will go a long way to reduce the gap between tribal and non-tribal youth and will enlist participation of tribal youth in nation-building.

Special economic and comprehensive package of Rs 20 lakh Crore

(Topic: Response to COVID-19 crisis)

A clarion call for आत्मनिर्भर भारत अभियान or Self-Reliant India Movement was given; Outlined five pillars of Aatmanirbhar Bharat – 

  1. Economy
  2. Infrastructure
  3. System
  4. Vibrant Demography
  5. Demand

Free food grains supply to migrants for 2 months

  • For the migrant labour, additional food grain to all the States/UTs at the rate of 5 kg per migrant labourer and 1 kg Chana per family per month for two months i.e. May and June, 2020 free of cost shall be allocated. 
  • Migrant labourers not covered under National Food Security Act or without a ration card in the State/UT in which they are stranded at present will be eligible. States/UTs shall be advised to put a mechanism for targeted distribution as envisaged in the scheme. 
  • 8 Lakh MT of food-grain and 50,000 MT of Chana shall be allocated. The entire outlay of Rs. 3500 crore will be borne by Government of India.

Technology system to be used enabling Migrants to access PDS (Ration) from any Fair Price Shops in India by March, 2021-One Nation one Ration Card

  • Pilot scheme for portability of ration cards will be extended to 23 states. By that, 67 crore beneficiaries covering 83% of PDS population will be covered by National portability of Ration cards by August, 2020. 100% National portability will be achieved by March, 2021. 
  • This is part of PM’s Technology Driven System Reforms This scheme will enable a migrant worker and their family members to access PDS benefits from any Fair Price Shop in the country. This will ensure that the people in transit, especially migrant workers can also get the benefit of PDS benefit across the country.

Scheme for Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for Migrant Workers and Urban Poor to be launched

  • Central Government will launch a scheme for migrant workers and urban poor to provide ease of living at affordable rent. 
  • Affordable Rental Housing Complexes will provide social security and quality life to migrant labour, urban poor, and students etc. This will be done through converting government funded houses in the cities into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) under PPP mode through concessionaire; manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) on their private land and operate; and Incentivizing  State Govt agencies/Central Government Organizations on similar lines to develop Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) and operate. 

2% Interest Subvention for 12 months for Shishu MUDRA loanees- Relief of Rs. 1,500 crore

  • The current portfolio of MUDRA Shishu loans is around Rs 1.62 Lakh crore. This will provide relief of about Rs 1,500 crore to Shishu MUDRA loanee.

Rs 5,000 crore Credit facility for Street Vendors

  • A special scheme will be launched within a month to facilitate easy access to credit to Street vendors, who are amongst the most adversely impacted by the present situation for enabling them to restart their businesses. 
  • Under this scheme, bank credit facility for initial working capital up to Rs. 10,000 for each enterprise will be extended. This scheme will cover urban as well as rural vendors doing business in the adjoining urban areas. Use of digital payments and timely repayments will be incentivized through monetary rewards. 
  • It is expected that 50 lakh street vendors will be benefitted under this scheme and credit of Rs. 5,000 crore would flow to them. 

Rs 70,000 crore boost to housing sector and middle income group through extension of  Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for MIG under PMAY(Urban)

  • The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (annual Income between Rs 6 and 18 lakhs) will be extended up to March 2021. This will benefit 2.5 lakhs middle income families during 2020-21 and will lead to investment of over Rs 70,000 crore in housing sector. 
  • This will create significant number of jobs by giving boost to Housing sector and will stimulate demand for steel, cement, transport and other construction materials.

Rs 6,000 crore for Creating employment using CAMPA funds

  • Approximately Rs 6,000 crore of funds under Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA) will be used for Afforestation and Plantation works, including in urban areas, Artificial regeneration, assisted natural regeneration, Forest management, soil & moisture conservation works, Forest protection, forest and wildlife related infrastructure development, wildlife protection and management etc. 
  • Government of India will grant immediate approval to these plans amounting to Rs 6000 crore. This will create job opportunities in urban, semi-urban and rural areas and also for Tribals (Adivashis).

Rs 30,000 crore Additional Emergency Working Capital for farmers through NABARD

  • NABARD will extend additional re-finance support of Rs 30,000 crore for meeting crop loan requirement of Rural Cooperative Banks and RRBs. This refinance will be front-loaded and available on tap. 
  • This is over and above Rs 90,000 crore that will be provided by NABARD to this sector in the normal course. This will benefit around 3 crore farmers, mostly small and marginal and it will meet their post-harvest Rabi and current Kharif requirements.

Rs 2 lakh crore credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers  under Kisan Credit Card Scheme

  • A special drive to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan Credit Cards. Fisherman and Animal Husbandy Farmers will also be included in this drive.
  • This will inject additional liquidity of  Rs 2 lakh crore in the farm sector. 2.5 crore farmers will be covered.

Source: Click here 


Aadhar linking of ration cards

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

The government has clarified that ration cards not linked to Aadhaar cards will not be cancelled till September. There were reports that ration cards of those without Aadhaar number will be cancelled.

The ministry has issued clear instructions to all states and union territories (UTs) that no genuine beneficiary or household should be denied from entitled quota of food grains. Their names/ration cards should not be deleted/cancelled only on the ground of not possessing an Aadhaar number.

Further, instructions have been issued that food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) will not be denied due to failure of Aadhaar authentication of beneficiary because of poor biometrics of the beneficiary, issues with network/connectivity/linking or any other technical reasons.

  • Under the NFSA, the Centre provides 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month to around 80 crore people at a highly subsidised price of ₹2-3 per kg. 
  • To provide relief during the lockdown, the Centre is providing an additional 5 kg of foodgrains per month free of cost. This is for three months period till June.

But is it mandatory? Why?

The government has also started the implementation of the inter-state portability of NFSA ration card holders under ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ plan to protect the interest of poor and migratory beneficiaries.

To achieve seamless inter-state portability transactions of a ration card, it is essential to have a centralised repository for maintaining unique ration cards/beneficiaries’ data of all states and UTs covered under the NFSA. Therefore, the ministry said that the seeding of Aadhaar numbers becomes critical in establishing a unique record of each eligible ration card holder and beneficiary in the country, so that his or her entitlement is protected.

‘One Nation One Ration Card’ national portability platform:

  • Under this scheme, eligible beneficiaries would be able to avail their entitled food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from any fair-price shop in the country.
  • Ration cardholders eligible for subsidized food grains can buy up to 5 kilograms of rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grains at Rs 1/kg per month.

Solve: A pragmatic approach is needed now so that no poor or deserving person or family is denied access to food grains. Discuss.


Gujarat to pilot sensor-based service delivery monitoring system in rural drinking water sector under Jal Jeevan Mission

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

The monitoring system, comes under the Government of India’s Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) programme, is already underway in two districts on a pilot basis to monitor the functionality of water supply in the rural water sector regularly on a long-term basis.

Out of 93.6 lakh rural households in the state, 65 lakh (70%) are already having household tap connections. The state now plans to provide 11.15 lakh household tap connections in rural areas in 2020-21.

Aim: To monitor the functionality of water supply i.e. potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality being provided to every rural household on regularly on long-term basis.

Gujarat state has set the target year of 100% coverage by the year September, 2022. Gujarat, primarily a water stressed state, has dealt the crisis with a very strategic approach so far. 

  • Good community involvement in drinking water supply management, through Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO). 
  • Having strong foundation, the state recovers around 70% of annual O&M expenditure from the community in form of water service charges.
  • The state is giving substantial thrust on capitalising on ‘low-hanging fruits’ i.e. in the villages/ habitations where piped water supply schemes already exist, to yield the desired results. 
  • Plans to immediately provide FHTCs to all remaining households of weaker sections on priority. A defined roadmap is also charted for the effective implementation of Village Action Plan (VAP) with the active participation of the rural community.

Owing to the current situation of CoVid-19 pandemic, water has to be made available for all, for which Government of India has issued advisory to states to take up works related to water supply on priority. Henceforth, a proper plan by Gram Panchayats and Villages is needed to ensure that household taps are made available in rural households. This will ensure drinking water in household premises and also facilitate social distancing by minimising crowd in public stand-posts.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)

Government of India has restructured and subsumed the ongoing National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) into Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household i.e., Har Ghar Nal Se Jal (HGNSJ) by 2024.

Proposed Jal Jeevan Mission will be a decentralised, community-managed and sustainable water management scheme –

  • Out of 17.87 crore rural households in the country about 14.6 crore which accounts for 81.67 percent are yet to have household tap connections for water. 
  • JJM envisages a structural change in the provision of drinking water supply services. The service provision should change to ‘utility based approach’ centered on ‘service delivery’
  • The government had also integrated different ministries and departments dealing with water into one ministry — the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Work to be taken up under JJM: 

  • In-village water supply (PWS) infrastructure for tap water connection to every household
  • Reliable drinking water source development/ augmentation of existing sources
  • Transfer of water (multi-village scheme; where quantity & quality issues are there in the local water sources)
  • Technological intervention for treatment to make water potable (where water quality is an issue, but quantity is sufficient)
  • Retrofitting of completed and ongoing piped water supply schemes to provide FHTC and raise the service level
  • Grey water management
  • Capacity building of various stakeholders and support activities to facilitate the implementation

73rd Amendment of Constitution of India: Gram Panchayats or its sub-committees will play a crucial role in planning, designing, execution, operations and maintenance of the in-village infrastructure under the Jal Jeevan Mission – Every village is to prepare a village action plan (VAP) which will be essentially having three components namely:

  1. Water source & its maintenance
  2. Water supply and 
  3. Grey water management

Note:

SDG-6: Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 

Water-stressed districts: Districts with critical or over-exploited groundwater levels as per the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) 2017. For states without critical and over-exploited groundwater levels, districts with the least availability of groundwater in comparison to the rest of the districts in the state have been selected.

Water stress and water scarcity

  • Water stress is the difficulty of obtaining sources of fresh water for use during a period of time and may result in further depletion and deterioration of available water resources.
  • Water scarcity involves water stress, water shortage or deficits, and water crisis.
  • Water scarcity can be due to physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. Physical water scarcity refers to a situation where natural water resources are unable to meet a region’s demand and economic water scarcity is a result of poor water management resources.

Solve: 

  1. COVID-19 has given us lessons for the future of water
  2. Enlightened water policy needs infrastructure. But more than that, it requires institutions with local and village ownership. Analyse.

$1 Billion from World Bank to Protect India’s Poorest from COVID-19

(Topic: Response to COVID-19 crisis)

The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $750 million of $1 billion proposed for Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Programme to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This takes the total commitment from the Bank towards emergency COVID-19 response in India to $2 billion. A $1 billion support was announced last month towards immediate support to India’s health sector.

This new support will be funded in two phases – 

  • Phase I – An immediate allocation of $750 million for fiscal year 2020: The first phase of the operation will be implemented countrywide through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY). It will immediately help scale-up cash transfers and food benefits, using a core set of pre-existing national platforms and programmes such as the Public Distribution System (PDS) and Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT); provide robust social protection for essential workers involved in COVID-19 relief efforts; and benefit vulnerable groups, particularly migrants and informal workers, who face high risks of exclusion under the PMGKY.
  • Phase II – A $250 million second tranche that will be made available for fiscal year 2021: The programme will deepen the social protection package, whereby additional cash and in-kind benefits based on local needs will be extended through state governments and portable social protection delivery systems.

Why the social assistance?

Social protection is a critical investment since half of India’s population earns less than $3 a day and are precariously close to the poverty line. 

  • Over 90 per cent of India’s workforce is employed in the informal sector, without access to significant savings or workplace based social protection benefits such as paid sick leave or social insurance. 
  • Over 9 million migrants, who cross state borders to work each year, are also at greater risk as social assistance programmes in India largely provide benefits to residents within states, without adequate portability of benefits across state boundaries. 

Importantly, in an urbanising India, cities and towns will need targeted support as India’s largest social protection programmes are focused on rural populations. The programme will create a system that will strengthen the delivery of India’s safety nets program. It will:

  • Help India move from 460 plus fragmented social protection schemes to an integrated system that is fast and more flexible, acknowledging the diversity of needs across states;
  • Enable geographic portability of social protection benefits that can be accessed from anywhere in the country, ensuring food, social insurance and cash-support for all, including for migrants and the urban poor; and
  • Move India’s social protection system from a predominantly rural focus to a pan national one that recognizes the needs of the urban poor.

World Bank Project Agreement Signed to Reduce Flooding and Improve Irrigation in West Bengal

(Topic: International organisations)

The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the World Bank signed a loan agreement for a $145 million project to improve irrigation services and flood management in the Damodar Valley Command Area (DVCA) in West Bengal. India is adopting a strategic growth path that uses and manages its water resources more efficiently.

The West Bengal Major Irrigation and Flood Management Project will benefit about 2.7 million farmers from five districts of West Bengal across 393,964 ha area with better irrigation services and improved protection against annual flooding to mitigate the impact of climate change.

  • By optimizing the use of surface and groundwater
  • By strengthening flood management, which will help boost agricultural productivity and increase incomes in rural areas.
  • By investing in measures to reduce flooding, including strengthening of embankments and desilting.
  • By introducing institutional reforms
    • Introduction of a modern Management Information System (MIS)
    • Benchmarking and evidence-based decision making
    • Promotion of conjunctive use of surface and groundwater
    • Introduction of rational asset management
    • Improving transparency through citizen engagement
    • Irrigation Service Providers will be recruited on a performance basis to improve the quality of irrigation services.

To solve the following Challenges –

  • Degradation of infrastructure and inadequate irrigation management
  • Poor quality of service delivery
  • Inefficient irrigation and the failure to serve the middle and tail parts of the canal network with surface water. Tail end farmers are compelled to extract groundwater, which increases the costs of cultivation and undermines the sustainability of the scheme. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of semi-critical blocks increased from five to 19 (out of a total of 41 blocks).
  • The Lower Damodar basin area is historically flood-prone. On average, 33,500 hectares of the cropped area and 461,000 people are affected annually. This downstream part of the project area lacks the infrastructure to protect against recurrent flooding. 

India calls upon the G-20 nations to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices

(Topic: Response to COVID-19 crisis)

First priority should be saving lives

First focus on immediate and concrete actions that can ease the distress being faced by people all over the world due to Corona pandemic. The unprecedented situation calls for solidarity and a balanced, inclusive and calibrated response. An overriding priority for all countries at this time, is to save precious lives. India strongly called for 

  • Agreement to enable the use of TRIPs flexibilities to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices. 
  • Called upon the G-20 nations to also agree to provide diagnostic and protective equipment, and healthcare professionals across borders where they are most needed.

Secondly, ensuring food security

Doing away with the policy instrument of export restrictions is not a panacea that will guarantee access to medical products and food for all. In fact, such a step is likely to lead to a flight of these critical products to the highest bidder, making them inaccessible to the resource-poor. More effective and lasting way to ensure food security of the most vulnerable, would be by 

  • Agreeing to eliminate the historic asymmetries in the Agreement on Agriculture
  • Delivering on the long-standing Ministerial mandate to establish permanent, adequate and accessible disciplines on Public Stockholding for food security purposes by the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO

Learning from this extremely distressing experience, the world has to come together to build partnerships among like-minded nations with shared values of democracy, rules-based and transparent business models and concern for humanity as a whole.

India’s future will be crafted on five pillars – 

  1. A strong and vibrant economy
  2. Massive infrastructure development
  3. Building modern systems with stable and predictable regulatory practices,
  4. Leveraging the huge demographic dividend our democracy offers
  5. The growing demand for goods and services of 1.3 billion Indians

Widely regarded as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’, India is also proactively partnering in global efforts to develop vaccines and effective treatment for this disease. 

  • India has unconditionally provided medical supplies to over 120 countries to combat this disease, of which 43 countries received it as a grant. 
  • In addition, a USD 10 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund has been created and is being utilised to deliver urgent medical supplies, equipment and humanitarian assistance to our neighbours. 
  • Sharing our medical and public health expertise and capacity with them, using digital technologies

Thirdly, building digital skills than making binding rules on trade

Underscoring the wide digital divide between developed and developing countries, India stressed on the urgent need to build the digital skills and capacities of developing countries and LDCs, rather than rushing to make binding rules on digital trade and e-commerce, which will freeze the extremely non-level playing field against their interests, and deprive them of the opportunity to benefit from the immense potential in these areas. As a result of the pandemic, a large number of professionals, workers and students located overseas are facing difficulty in maintaining their visa status. We must allow suitable accommodation in their visa status and take other necessary steps to address their distress.


GS-3

Dealing with energy needs in the Context of Climate Crisis

(Topic: Energy and Climate Change)

National technology day is celebrated to commemorate the nuclear test that took place 22 years ago, that brought us national security. After that India has entered into many International agreements with various countries to promote nuclear commerce for peaceful purposes. The idea was to secure energy security through nuclear energy.

Correlation between Human Development Index (HDI) and Per Capita Energy Consumption all over the world: 

As per the statistics, countries with higher HDI where citizens enjoy high quality of life have higher per capita consumption of energy. However with the rising climate issues, a developing country like India faces the challenge where we are caught between energy security on one side and climate security on the other. 

The need of the hour is to strike a balance between enhancing the quality of human life as well as keeping a control over the climate crisis.

Studies undergoing on how to control CO2 emissions:

As per the report of Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, “staying below 1.5 degree increase in 2,100 will require cuts in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions of 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2050”; which means we have only 10 years left to realise deep CO2 emission cuts while ensuring development aspirations of many countries across the world.

To achieve this, the world has to act now by leveraging available/rapidly deployable technologies. This is where the requirement of nuclear energy, which can easily meet the ‘zero emission’ target, arises. With the contribution of nuclear energy, the cost of deep decarbonisation can be reduced. Decarbonising means reducing carbon intensity, i.e. reducing the emissions per unit of electricity generated (often given in grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour).

Decarbonisation of energy production in the country is essential since the demand for electric power from industries/commercial sector is high. Decarbonisation is possible by increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources, particularly renewables like solar, hydro and biomass together with nuclear which can greatly contribute in achieving zero emissions to a great extent.

Even when many countries are making active efforts in the field of energy efficiency the CO2 emission is still high when compared to preceding years. This shows we need better plans to control the same. 

In order to control CO2 emission, different levels of consumption strategy need to be observed by different countries based on their HDI. For example, those countries with high Human Development Index, should reduce their energy consumption since it may not affect their HDI, much. In addition to this they should also decarbonise their electricity generation. And the countries with moderate HDI should focus on non-fossil electricity consumption while countries with low HDI should be able to provide subsidised source of cleaner energy to their citizens. This way every country can actively contribute towards low / zero emission.

Japan is a country which has seen the brunt of the negatives of nuclear energy – the cruellest nuclear bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki that raised the global sensitivity of nuclear energy. But still the country has drafted an energy plan, to generate 20% to 22% of their total energy consumption as nuclear energy, to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030. Countries like Germany and Japan are already planning to cut GHG emission by 2020 and 2030 respectively which has allotted huge amount on production of renewable energy.

For a country like India, in order to decarbonise the energy consumption, we need a 30-fold increase in renewable energy, 30-fold increase in nuclear energy and doubling of thermal energy which would make 70% of energy carbon free. 

To meet the energy requirements of the country, currently there are 66 units with the capacity of 49180 MWe (including projects that are operating, under planning, under construction and those that are approved).

But how to manage the nuclear waste?

The major concern that pops up is of how to manage the nuclear wastes, that is produced during energy generation. India adopts the policy of ‘Nuclear Recycle Technology’ – where the nuclear fuel – Uranium, Plutonium etc, once used for generation of energy, is reused as a resource material by the commercial industries to be recycled. More than 99% of Nuclear waste is reused as the waste management program in India prioritises recycling.

Technology

A. Patenting of Innovative Low Cost PPE developed by Indian Navy Paves way for Rapid Mass Production: The low cost PPE has been developed by a Doctor of Indian Navy. It is made of a special fabric which affords high level of protection along with high ‘breathability’ as against other PPEs available in the market and is therefore more suitable for use in hot and humid weather conditions as prevalent in India. The technology has also been tested and validated by ICMR approved Testing Lab.

B. COBAS 6800 testing machine: This is the first such testing machine that has been procured by the Government for testing of COVID-19 cases and is installed at the National Centre for Disease Control.

  • A fully automated, high end machine for performing real time PCR testing COVID-19 
  • Provide quality, high-volume testing with a high throughput of test around 1200 samples in 24 hours
  • It will largely increase the testing capacity with reduction in pendency.

COBAS 6800 is a sophisticated machine enabled with robotics that minimizes the chance of contamination as well as the risk of infection to the health care workers since it can be operated remotely with limited human intervention. As the machine requires a minimum BSL2+ containment level for testing, it cannot be placed at just any facility. COBAS 6800 can also detect other pathogens like Viral Hepatitis B & C, HIV, MTb (both rifampicin and isoniazide resistance), Papilloma, CMV, Chlamydia, Neiserreia etc.

C. A novel tool to help gain deeper insight into Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disease that has no cure. 

It is believed that an aggregation of a protein called alpha synuclein (ASyn) plays a crucial role in the pathology of the disease. The aggregation is found in abundance in what is called the substantia nigra portion in the midbrain of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The Z-scan method could help in monitoring both the early and late stages of the aggregation of ASyn nicely. They found that the protein possesses nonlinearity starting from its monomeric state to the fibrillar structure. They made three particularly interesting observations: 

  • First, the strength of nonlinearity is relatively stronger in the case of fibrils when compared to other conformations of the protein
  • Second, each of the different conformers populated in the different stages of the aggregation landscape seems to have a specific nonlinear property that could be targeted. 
  • The third and the most important result was a switch in the sign of non-linearity when the late oligomers form at around 24 hours.

D. Development of Lightweight carbon foam that can replace lead batteries: It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.

The present grid-scale energy-storage sector is dominated by lithium-ion batteries, because of their higher energy density & specific power and long cycle life. However, there are some serious concerns regarding Li-ion batteries, such as safety risk, limited resource supply, high cost, and lack of recycling infrastructure. This necessitates the development of an alternative battery system with lower environmental concerns, economic and higher energy density. As a result, lead-acid batteries are still one of the most reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly options. However, electrodes in the lead-acid batteries suffer from the problem of heavyweight, corrosion, poor thermal stability, and diffusion of electrolytes in one dimension, which ultimately affects the output power.

E. Development of injectable Silk Fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained Insulin delivery in diabetic patients: Scientists have developed the silk fibroin (SF) formulation using biocompatible additives and prepared an injectable SF hydrogel (iSFH) that can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients.

The iSFH has proved to be an effective insulin delivery tool for diabetic patients with excellent mechanical strength, biocompatibility, encapsulation, storage, and demonstration of its sustained delivery of active insulin in the diabetic animal. The active encapsulation and delivery of insulin by iSFH may also have implications for the future development of formulations for oral insulin delivery.

Background:

Diabetes affects more than 70 million people in India, the second-highest in the world. It results from inadequate production of insulin due to loss of beta cells or insulin resistance within the body, which imbalances the glucose homeostasis is leading to an abrupt increase of blood glucose level.

The conventional and last resort of treatment involves repeated subcutaneous insulin injections to maintain the physiological glucose homeostasis. The multiple subcutaneous insulin injections are associated with pain, local tissue necrosis, infection, nerve damage, and locally concentrated insulin amyloidosis responsible for inability to achieve physiological glucose homeostasis. This problem can be overcome with controlled and sustained insulin delivery. Thus, encapsulation and sustained delivery of insulin in its active form (without loss of activity) is the key to the development of such controlled and sustained in vivo delivery of Insulin.

F. ARCI scientists develop next-generation biodegradable metal implants: Scientists have developed new generation Iron-Manganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans. Biodegradable materials (Fe, Mg, Zn, and polymer), which can participate in the healing process and then degrade gradually by maintaining the mechanical integrity without leaving any implant residues in the human body are better alternatives to currently used metallic implants which remain permanently in the human body and can cause long-term side effects like systemic toxicity, chronic inflammation, and thrombosis.


Development of indigenous IgG ELISA test

(Topic: Technology to solve COVID-19 Crisis)

The Centre announced that an IgG ELISA test for detection of antibodies to Covid-19 had been developed, and released a document outlining details of surveillance to be carried out in all districts to check for the prevalence of infection using the same.

Pune-based National Institute of Virology has developed an immunological assay — enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) — that can detect antibodies that are developed in response to the coronavirus infection. This the first test of the kind to be developed in India and it will play a critical role in surveillance of proportion of the population exposed to the virus.

ELISA-based tests are blood-based tests, which have high sensitivity and specificity. The sensitivity of a test refers to the percentage of results that will correctly find out the presence of infection in a person and specificity refers to the percentage of results that will correctly find out whether or not a person is infected. It has a sensitivity of 92% and its specificity is 97%.

  • The test involves drawing the blood of the person. 
  • The sample is then placed inside the small wells of an ELISA plate. These plates are coated with the antigen or the inactivated form of the virus. 
  • If the blood contains antibodies, it binds to the antigen and a substrate solution is added to the well. The reaction usually produces a colour change, thus detecting antibodies. 
  • ELISA tests can be done manually or in a semi-automatic and automatic way.

It is an IgG Elisa-based test. This means that the test will be done to detect the Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody.

Note: ELISA-based tests and point-of-care tests are not used for confirming Covid-19 infection and are only used for surveillance purpose.


DRDO lab develops automated UV systems to sanitise electronic gadgets, papers and currency notes

(Topic: Technology)

A. Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS): It has been designed to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks, paper, envelopes, etc.

The proximity sensor switches, clubbed with drawer opening and closing mechanism, makes its operation automatic and contactless. It provides 360 degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet. Once the sanitisation is done, the system goes in sleep mode hence the operator need not wait or stand near the device.

B. NOTESCLEAN: The RCI has also developed an automated UVC currency sanitising device, called NOTESCLEAN. Bundles of currency notes can be sanitised using DRUVS, however disinfection of each currency notes using it will be a time consuming process. For that purpose, a sanitising technique has been developed, where one has to just place the loose currency notes at the input slot of the device. It picks the notes one by one and makes them pass through a series of UVC lamps for complete disinfection.

C. BiPAP Non Invasive Ventilator SwasthVayu: BiPAP Non-Invasive ventilator is a microcontroller-based precise closed-loop adaptive control system with a built-in biocompatible “3D printed manifold & coupler” with HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particulate Air Filter). These unique features help to alleviate the fear of the virus spread. It has features like Spontaneous, CPAP, Timed, AUTO BIPAP modes with provision to connect Oxygen concentrator or Enrichment unit externally.  The system has been certified for safety and performance by NABL accredited agencies. It is simple to use without any specialized nursing, cost effective, compact and configured with majority of indigenous components. This is ideal for treating COVID -19 patients in Wards, Make shift Hospitals, dispensaries and home in current Indian COVID 19 scenario.

Please note:

May 12: International Day of the Nurse

PM CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund Trust : Allocated Rs. 3100 Crore for fight against COVID-19. Out of Rs 3100 crore, 

  • A sum of approximately Rs.2000 crore will be earmarked for the purchase of ventilators,
  • Rs. 1000 crores will be used for care of migrant labourers
  • Rs.100 crores will be given to support vaccine development

May 11: National Technology Day

In the COVID 19 crisis, technology has been at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic. As the world adjusts to its new normal, business leaders world over are rethinking and devising new strategies to harness technologies that would help drive resilience and make them emerge from the crisis stronger.

The day has a historical perspective as it was on May 11, 1998, that India achieved a major technological breakthrough by successfully carrying out nuclear tests at Pokhran. 

  • Further, the first indigenous aircraft “Hansa-3” was test flown at Bangalore on this day
  • India also performed successful test firing of the Trishul missile on the same day. 
  • Since 1999, the day is being celebrated as National Technology Day.

The celebration of Technology Day symbolizes India’s quest for scientific inquiry, technological creativity & innovations, and the integration of these developments into national socio-economic benefits and global presence.

KVIC’s Kumhar Sashaktikaran Program: 

  • An initiative aimed at strengthening the potters’ community across the country
  • The main objective of this mission is to bring back the potters’ community to mainstream by providing potters with modern equipment and training, thereby reconnecting them with the society and revive their art.
  • Under the scheme, the KVIC also provides equipment like blunger and pug mills for mixing clay for making pottery products. The machines have eliminated drudgery from the process of pottery making and resulted in higher income of potters by 7-8 times.

Launch of CHAMPIONS portal

By: Ministry of MSME

CHAMPIONS: Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength

It is a technology driven control room cum management information system. The system utilising modern ICT tools is aimed at assisting Indian MSMEs march into big league as National and Global CHAMPIONS.

The portal is basically for making the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping and handholding. It is a real one-stop-shop solution of MSME Ministry.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) Completes Five Years

  • The flagship social security scheme of Government of India ‘Atal Pension Yojana’ (APY) has completed five years of successful implementation. 
  • Launched on 9th May 2015 with an objective of delivering old age income security particularly to the workers in the unorganised sector and Government providing guarantee of minimum pension after 60 years of age, the scheme even after garnering 2.23 crores workers under the ambit of pension still remains unequivocally relevant for addressing the challenges of rapidly increasing aging population of India. 
  • Apart from remarkable enrolments, the scheme has been implemented comprehensively across the country covering all states and Union Territories with male to female subscription ratio of 57:43.
  • APY can be subscribed by any Indian citizen in the age group of 18-40 years having a bank account and its uniqueness is attributable to three distinctive benefits. First, it provides a minimum guaranteed pension ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000 on attaining 60 years of age, Secondly the amount of pension is guaranteed for lifetime to spouse on death of the subscriber and lastly, in the event of death of both the subscriber and the spouse, entire pension corpus is paid to the nominee.

MISSION SAGAR: As part of the Government of India outreach amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Naval Ship Kesari has departed for: Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros, to provide Food Items, COVID related Medicines including HCQ Tablets and Special Ayurvedic Medicines with Medical Assistance Teams embarked, on 10 May 20. This deployment as ‘Mission Sagar’, is in line with India’s role as the first responder in the region and builds on the excellent relations existing between these countries to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant difficulties.

Personality in News

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed 

  • Former 5th President of India
  • He joined the Indian National Congress and actively participated in the Indian Freedom Movement. In 1942 he was arrested during the Quit India Movement and sentenced to 3 1/2 years’ imprisonment.
  • He was a member of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee from 1936 and of AICC from 1947 to 1974, and remained the Minister of Finance, Revenue and labour in 1948 Gopinath Bordoloi Ministry.
  • Ahmed was chosen for the presidency by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974, and on 20 August 1974, he became the second Muslim to be elected President of India. He is known to have issued the proclamation of emergency by signing the papers at midnight after a meeting with Indira Gandhi the same day. He used his constitutional authority as head of state to allow him to rule by decree once the Emergency in India was proclaimed in 1975.

Why relatives of former president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed are not on Assam’s final NRC draft?

The family of Ziauddin Ali Ahmed, the late president’s nephew, was not able to apply to be included in Assam’s National Register of Citizenship, which is currently being updated for the first time since 1951 in a bid to detect undocumented migrants. This is because Ahmed said they could not find any of their ancestors, including the former president, on the 1951 National Register of Citizens or any of the electoral rolls up to 1971.

The rules of the National Register of Citizens require every individual to prove that they or their ancestors entered the country before the midnight of March 24, 1971. To do this, they must produce proof that the ancestor lived in the country before that date and link data proof that they are related to the ancestor. The 1951 NRC and all electoral rolls upto March 24, 1971, were digitised for the NRC updating exercise. Everyone who featured on those rolls was alloted a legacy code. Most people applying to be included on the list used these codes to draw connections to their pre-1971 ancestors.

Ziauddin claimed that he could not locate his legacy data in these digitised rolls.

Ziauddin is the son of the late president’s younger brother, Ehtramuddin Ali Ahmed. Ehtramuddin and Fakhruddin’s father, Zalnur Ali Ahmed, is thought to be the first Assamese person to obtain a medicine degree. He was employed by the Army and retired as a colonel.

Essay Topics:

  1. India: Net exporter of technology
  2. India’s welfare only through Farmers’ Welfare
  3. COVID-19 and the real estate sector

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