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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 14th June to 20th June – 2020

  • IASbaba
  • June 23, 2020
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IASBABA’S INTEGRATED LEARNING PROGRAMME (ILP)

Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 14th June to 20th June – 2020

ARCHIVES

GS-1

75th anniversary of the victory in the Second World War

(Topic: World History)

In News: India to send Tri-Service contingent to participate in 75th Victory Day Parade of World War II in Moscow.

World War II was different from World War I

  • Causes: WW-I was to gain more territory and colonial might. WW-II was to assert different ideologies.
  • Method: War was fought in the battle field and trenches during WW I, it was taken into the cities in WW II and many civilians died. Modern methods of warfare were used including weapons of mass destruction. And for the first time Nuclear weapon was used in war.
  • Area: WW I covered only Europe but WW II covered a much larger arena including Europe, Asia, North America and parts of Africa.
  • Outcome: Lead to the formation of League of Nations and sowed the seeds of WW II. WW II lead to the formation of UN and sowed the seed for the Cold War.
  • After WW II, the world got divided between two power blocks headed by USA and other capitalist countries and USSR and other communist countries. 
  • Much more participation of women in WW II than in WW I. WW-II indirectly led to women empowerment.

Many nations got decolonised post World War II

1) Colonial Education: Western education in colonies was crucial factor in rise of nationalism and subsequent decolonisation. Education shaped thoughts and made the people familiar with rights. Educated and focussed people led the struggle and fought on behalf of masses

2) Atlantic Charter: The Charter of 1941 that entailed the goals of allied powers after the war asserted that all the people had the right to self-determination.

3) Economic losses: Post Second World War 2 the European powers were economically devastated and exhausted with men and material

4) Assurance of independence to colonies: Many of the colonies gave resources and man power to their respective colonial powers during World War 2 in the hope of achieving autonomy or independence.

5) Cold war period: The rise of two powers USA and USSR also put pressure on European allies to grant independence as both were against colonial rule.

6) Declaration by UN: UN sharply condemned colonial rule as a denial of fundamental human rights.

7) Support of newly decolonised: There was mutual support among nations Ex: India supported the cause of African decolonisation.

However, the struggle for colonies to gain independence was not smooth

  1. Some European powers tried to regain colonies after world war 2 and left only much later due to continued struggle of colonies Ex: Dutch tried to regain Indonesia back
  2. The decolonisation of Africa was not smooth and  has led to long standing issues
  3. India though gained independence from British had to suffer the pains of partition

India and World War II

Role of Indian Army

  • Approximately 2.5 million Indian soldiers served in World War 2. Over 36,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives, 34,000 were wounded and 67,000 were taken prisoners of war. Indian soldiers of the British Army earned 17 Victoria Crosses, the highest military honour under the British.
  • Noor Inayat Khan –The well-known Spy was tortured and executed by Germans.
  • The Indian soldiers, on the ground, fought courageously in every battle and built an envious reputation which the Indian Army has carried forward to this day. Their exploits were seen in East and North Africa, Italy, Burma, and as far out as Singapore, Malay Peninsula, Guam, and Indo China. The role played by Air Force pilots from India are legendary and well documented. Pilots like MS Pujji and Prithpal Singh’s feats are among many who left their mark. The list of names and achievements is indeed long.
  • In the East, the Indian soldiers, as part of the British Indian Army, fought against the Japanese and were responsible for ultimately securing South East Asia that included Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and Burma.

Contributions beyond Army:

  • Indian doctors and nurses were deeply involved on the British soil and other countries. In 1939, the Indian Comforts Fund (ICF) was established at India House in Aldwych that was run by Indian and British women. Between 1939 and 1945, the ICF supplied over 1.7 million food packets to soldiers and Asian prisoners of war, besides putting together warm clothes and other supplies.
  • The nation contributed by collecting food and other material to support the war. Kolkata was the Allies’ Rest and Recreation point, where American and British soldiers stopped to rest and recuperate before heading back to war .
  • India was also home to Italian POWs. As early as 1941, a batch of Italian POWs, which included four Generals, arrived by ship at Mumbai. Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand today, had a camp where POWs were housed.

Nationalist leaders views during World War II

On 1 September 1939, 2nd World War broke out. The British Government without consulting the people of India involved the country in the war. The Congress vehemently opposed it.

As a mark of protest the Congress Ministries resigned in all the seven Provinces on 12 December 1939

  • The Indian National Congress, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Azad, denounced Nazi Germany but would not fight it or anyone else until India was independent.
  • Congress launched the Quit India Movement in August 1942, refusing to co-operate in any way with the government until independence was granted.
  • In Singapore, Bose formed the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army or INA) to conduct a military campaign for the liberation of India. 

Sanitary Napkins available for Rs. 1/- per pad at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras

(Topic: Women Empowerment)

Keeping in view the present scenario, as a social drive, Jan Aushadhi Suvidha  Sanitary Napkin is being made available in more than 6300 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushdhi Pariyojna – PMBJP Kendras across the country at a minimum price of Rs.1/-per pad. The market price of the similar Sanitary Napkins is around Rs. 3/- to Rs. 8/- per pad.   

Over 3.43 Crore pads have been sold till 10th June, 2020 at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras.

Menstruation and menstrual practices still face some social, cultural, and religious restrictions which are a big barrier in the path of menstrual hygiene management. In many parts of the country especially in rural areas girls and women do not have access to sanitary products or they do not opt for them as most of these items available in the market are bit costly. This step ensured ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’ for the underprivileged Women of India. Sanitary Napkins are environmental friendly, as these pads are made with Oxo-biodegradable material complying with ASTM D-6954 (biodegradability test) standards.


GS-2

Launch of Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

(Topic: Government schemes and policies for the vulnerable population)

Aim: To boost employment and livelihood opportunities for migrant workers returning to villages, in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak

Objectives

  • Provide livelihood opportunity to returning migrants and similarly affected rural citizens
  • Saturate villages with public infrastructure and create livelihood opportunities viz. Roads, Housing, Anganwadis, Panchayat Bhavans, various livelihood assets and Community Complexes among others
  • The basket of a wide variety of works will ensure that each migrant worker is able to get an opportunity of employment according to his skill, in the coming 125 days. The Program will also prepare for expansion and development of livelihoods over a longer term.

Features

  • Abhiyaan focuses on durable rural infrastructure and providing modern facilities like internet in the villages
  • Skill mapping of the rural migrant labour being done to help them work closer home
  • An amount of Rs 50,000 Crores would be spent for building durable rural infrastructure under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan.
  • 25 work areas have been identified for employment in villages, for development of various works. These 25 works or projects are related to meet the needs of the villages like rural housing for the poor, Plantations, provision of drinking water through Jal Jeevan mission, Panchayat Bhavans, community toilets, rural mandis, rural roads, other infrastructure like Cattle Sheds, Anganwadi Bhavans etc.
  • High speed and cheap internet be provided in every rural household to help the youth and children. Hence the laying of fibre cable and provision of internet are also made a part of the Abhiyan.
  • Farmers are being directly linked to the market and that the Government has provided an investment of Rs 1,00,000 Crore for linkages like cold storage etc. This Abhiyaan of 125 days, will work in mission mode, will involve focused implementation of 25 categories of works/ activities in 116 districts, each with a large concentration of returnee migrant workers in 6 states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha. Public works to be undertaken during this campaign will have a resource envelope of Rs. 50,000 crores.

The Abhiyaan will be a convergent effort between 12 different Ministries/Departments, namely; Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport & Highways, Mines, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Environment, Railways, Petroleum & Natural Gas, New & Renewable Energy, Border Roads, Telecom and Agriculture, to expedite implementation of 25 public infrastructure works and works relating to augmentation of livelihood opportunities.


Scheme of Special Micro-Credit Facility launched for Street Vendors 

(Topic: Government schemes and policies for the vulnerable population)

PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) – a Special Micro-Credit Facility for Street Vendors

Launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for providing affordable Working Capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to Covid-19 lockdown

  • This scheme targets to benefit over 50 lakh Street Vendors. 
  • Under the Scheme, the vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year. 
  • On timely/ early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy @ 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on quarterly basis. 
  • There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.
  • The scheme promotes digital transactions through cash back incentives up to an amount of Rs. 100 per month. 
  • Moreover, the vendors can achieve their ambition of going up on the economic ladder by availning the facility of escalation of the credit limit on timely/ early repayment of loan.

SIDBI will implement the PM SVANidhi Scheme under the guidance of MoHUA

  • Manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)
  • Develop and maintain a customized and integrated IT Platform providing end-to-end solutions, including documentation of all the processes and workflows for an end-to-end solution, through a Portal and a Mobile App, to ensure engagement and information flow between Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), Lending Institutions, Digital Payment Aggregators and other stakeholders.

India-China stand-off: Ladakh Border situation

(Topic: Border disputes)

The unresolved situation on the disputed Sino-Indian border in Ladakh has been ongoing for more than a month, and tensions have not subsided. The tragic deaths of 20 soldiers of the Indian Army on Monday in the Galwan Valley, the first casualties of conflict along the India-China border in 45 years, underline the scale of the problem and the challenge ahead.

  • The first official acknowledgment of tensions on the border came on May 10, when the Army issued a statement about clashes between Indian and Chinese patrols at two places.
  • In Naku La in Sikkim, on May 9, a Chinese patrol on the Indian side of the LAC was confronted by an Indian patrol which led to a clash. The Army also acknowledged a more serious incident that took place on the night of May 5-6 in the Pangong Tso lake area, during which soldiers from both sides were injured.

The Situation

  • There is a mobilisation of a significant number of Chinese soldiers and military equipment in some areas on the LAC in Ladakh.
  • The most serious issue is in the area of Pangong Tso and its northern banks, where Chinese soldiers have moved up to the line they perceive to be the LAC.
  • Satellite images show they have also undertaken some construction activities in the areas that are claimed by India. In the area of Hot Spring, Chinese soldiers have moved into three areas of PP14, PP15, and Gogra, backed by a large number of troops and heavy equipment on their side.
  • There are similar reports of a massive Chinese deployment on their side in the Galwan river valley area.

‘Indian side’ of the LAC

The border is not fully demarcated and the LAC is neither clarified nor confirmed by the two countries. Except for the middle sector, even the mutual exchange of maps about their respective perceptions has not taken place between India and China. This has led to different perceptions of the LAC for the two sides, and soldiers from either side try to patrol the area up to their perception of the LAC. Essentially, what Indians believe to be ‘their side’ is not the same as what the Chinese believe to be ‘their side’ – this is different from the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan where everything was agreed upon by the two armies following the 1971 War.

A higher number indicates that the Chinese soldiers are coming to the Indian side more often, and their movements are being observed and recorded by the Indian soldiers. This can be seen as an indicator of increased Chinese assertiveness, but as long as there are no major incidents, it means that the established border mechanisms between the two sides are working. So far, there has been no major standoff between the two sides after the 73-day Doklam standoff on Sikkim-Bhutan border in 2017.

What triggered China’s recent LAC moves?

China is responding to India’s efforts to bolster border-area infrastructure in Ladakh after the completion of the DSDBO road. After India’s move into Doklam in 2017, China is perhaps especially sensitive to Indian activity along the disputed border. Around Galwan, in particular, China may be seeking to pre-empt an Indian effort to improve its links to the LAC

Pattern change in Chinese behaviour on the border: 

  • They have reportedly come in large numbers into a new area (Galwan river valley) which had not been contentious in terms of the alignment of the LAC
  • They are staying put, dug down and in tents and not just as a short-term patrol
  • These incursions are happening in multiple locations
  • They have become more assertive and aggressive in their behaviour

This is part of a larger pattern of behaviour from the Chinese and should not be seen as localized and isolated incidents in pockets along the India-China border. 

  • It is reflective of increased Chinese assertiveness. The activation of border areas by China could also be part of its pressure tactics and its desire to gain leverage vis-a-vis India with regard to issues in bilateral relations and matters like Covid and WHO.
  • It is also quite possible that China is eyeing the waters of the Shyok, Galwan and Chang-Chenmo rivers, to divert them to the arid Aksai Chin and its Ali region.

Are all these areas on the LAC disputed?

In certain areas on the border, India and China have different “perceptions” of the LAC. These disputed areas are where both the armies try and patrol up to their LAC, often resulting in face-offs between soldiers.

Based on various inputs, India has identified 23 areas on the border which are disputed by both sides. India also records transgressions by the Chinese side, which are often in these disputed areas. Data for transgressions during the past five years, as reported by this paper, broadly conforms with the areas identified by the government.

As per both these data points, only Pangong Tso is an area where the two sides have different “perceptions” of the LAC. In Galwan and Hot Spring, China and India have in the past never disagreed on the location of the LAC.

Why Ladakh matters to India, China

Ladakh is of vital strategic importance. The Kargil conflict occurred here, the icy heights of the Siachen glacier are here. During the Congress regime led by Indira Gandhi, Indian forces had launched “Operation Meghdoot” in 1984 to capture the Siachen Glacier which has been playing a pivotal role in view of our security spectrum given the hostile terrain of the Himalayas. West of the Glacier lies Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan, East of it lies China-occupied Aksai Chin.

The strong presence of the Indian Army in the Glacier has ensured that this space is protected. Indeed, it was during the Kargil war when the Indian Army was busy driving out Pakistani intruders, that China exploited the situation to extend a 5-km road into Indian territory along the banks of Pangong Lake.

Conclusion

  • India should continue its endeavours to consolidate its solidarity and amity among neighbours and all democratic powers of the world. China is the only non-democratic major power in the world. It will leave no stone unturned in order to make India vulnerable both externally and internally.
  • Defence preparedness should be vigorously pursued to insulate us from unpleasant surprises. And powder must be kept dry to meet any eventualities, promptly. 
  • We should not budge even an inch from restoring status quo ante in east Ladakh where the transgressions have taken place. China must realise that there are limits to what fear and intimidation can achieve. 

India joins Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) as a founding member to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of AI

(Topic: Global partnerships and Convening)

India today joined the league of leading economies including USA, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore to launch the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI or Gee-Pay). 

Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)

GPAI is an international and multi-stakeholder initiative to guide the responsible development and use of AI, grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth. 

  • A first initiative of its type for evolving better understanding of the challenges and opportunities around AI using the experience and diversity of participating countries
  • In order to achieve this goal, the initiative will look to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.
  • In collaboration with partners and international organizations, GPAI will bring together leading experts from industry, civil society, governments, and academia to collaborate to promote responsible evolution of AI and will also evolve methodologies to show how AI can be leveraged to better respond to the present global crisis around COVID-19.

GPAI will be supported by a Secretariat, to be hosted by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, as well as by two Centers of Expertise- one each in Montreal and Paris

India and Artificial Intelligence

  • India has recently launched National AI Strategy and National AI Portal 
  • Has started leveraging AI across various sectors such as education, agriculture, healthcare, e-commerce, finance, telecommunications, etc. with inclusion and empowerment of human being approach by supplementing growth and development. 
  • By joining GPAI as a founding member, India will actively participate in the global development of Artificial Intelligence, leveraging upon its experience around use of digital technologies for inclusive growth.

Government of India & AIIB sign an Agreement for $750 Million for COVID-19 support for India

(Topic: India and Multilateral organisations)

The Government of India and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) here today signed a $750 million “COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme” to assist India to strengthen its response to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on poor and vulnerable households. This is the first ever budgetary support programme from the AIIB to India.

  • The Programme will provide the Government of India with budget support to mitigate the severe adverse social and economic impact of COVID-19. 
  • The current loan will be the second to India from AIIB under its COVID-19 crisis recovery facility apart from the earlier approved $500 million loan for the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project.
  • The Primary Programme beneficiaries would be families below the poverty line, farmers, healthcare workers, women, women’s self-help groups, widows, people with disabilities, senior citizens, low wage earners, construction workers and other vulnerable groups.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia, began operations in January 2016. AIIB has now grown to 102 approved members worldwide.


GS-3

Coal sector reforms 

(Topic: Energy)

India has taken a major decision to fully open the coal and mining sectors for competition, capital, participation and technology. Coal sector reforms will make eastern and central India, our tribal belt, into pillars of development – under AtmaNirbhar Bharat campaign

Coal sector committed to a massive capital expenditure and employment plan for coal bearing regions. State governments will get more revenue and a huge population of the country will get employment. There will be a positive impact on every sector.

Aspirational Districts have not been able to reach the desired level of progress and prosperity. 

  • 16 aspirational districts in the country have a huge stock of coal but people of these areas have not got adequate benefit of this. 
  • People from these places have to migrate to far-flung cities for employment. 
  • Steps taken towards commercial mining will be very helpful to eastern and central India by providing the local population with employment near their homes. 
  • Government has taken a decision to spend 50 thousand crore rupees on creating infrastructure for coal extraction and transportation, which will also create employment opportunities.

Indian Gas Exchange

(Topic: Energy)

Launch of: Indian Gas Exchange (IGX), first nationwide online delivery-based gas trading platform, in an e-ceremony

What is it:  A delivery-based trading platform for delivery of natural Gas

  • Incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the IEX – India’s energy market platform, IGX will enable market participants to trade in standardised gas contracts. 
  • The platform is fully automated with web-based interface to provide seamless trading experience to the customers.
  • Through IGX, India’s vision on mega investments on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, gas pipelines, CGD infrastructure and permission for market driven price mechanism will be materialized.

Significance: The launch of the new electronic trading platform for natural gas has opened a new chapter in the energy history of India and will help the nation move towards free market pricing of natural gas. With this landmark, India is joining the club of progressive economies. As there will be a market driven pricing mechanism, India Gas Exchange (IGX) will play a bigger role towards realizing a free market for gas.

The new electronic trading platform for natural gas is the biggest indicator of the centre’s progressive policy as it completes the entire energy value chain from gas production from multiple sources and imports of LNG from different parts of globe to having a transparent price mechanism.

Other initiatives taken to make India a gas-based economy:

  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is also working on rationalization of tariff to make natural gas affordable in every part of the country
  • Indian gas market has multiple price bands for assets including pre-NELP, NELP, High Temperature and High pressure (HTHP) and Deepwater and Ultra Deep Water blocks.
  • The country will soon have 50 MMT LNG terminal capacities
  • The country has long-term gas contracts with many countries like Qatar, Australia, Russia and the US, and has made investments abroad in strategic assets in Mozamibque, Russia and other countries. 
  • Various ongoing projects to strengthen the gas infrastructure in the country: Urja Ganga, Eastern India grid, Indradhanush project in the North-east, Dhamra-Dahej pipeline, coal gasification and CBM policy. 
  • India will have more than 30,000km of pipeline in next few years

Vision: To provide energy justice to the people of India – they must have universal access to clean, affordable, sustainable and equitable supply of energy.


SERB supported study shows that collapse of respiratory center in the brain may cause breakdown of COVID-19 patients

(Topic: Science and Technology)

After exploration of the neuro-invasive potential of SARS-CoV-2 scientists have suggested that the virus may infect respiratory centre of the brain and attention should be focused on the respiratory centre of the central nervous system to search for mortality due to COVID 19.

  • SARS-CoV-2 virus might enter the human brain through the nose and reaches the olfactory bulb of the brain. 
  • From there, SARS-CoV-2 virus might infect PreBötzinger complex (PBC), the primary center of the brain that controls the respiratory rhythm generation
  • PreBötzinger complex functions as the primary respiratory oscillator and it has been proposed as a center of respiration. It has been earlier shown that disruption of PBC causes lethality due to respiratory failure, suggesting its central role in respiratory rhythm generation. 
  • It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 may shut down respiratory center, and in turn breathing by infecting and destroying the PBC of the brainstem. Although this underline hypothesis needs to be validated for SARS-CoV-2, another recent study from a group of scientists at King’s College London, UK highlighting loss of smell was one of main symptoms of COVID-19 patients, hinting at the involvement of the same route through which SARS-CoV-2 may enter the brain.

For better understanding: Erebrospinal fluid of COVID-19 patients and postmortem brain of deceased patients should be assessed to better understand the route of SARS-CoV-2 entry and its spread to respiratory center of brain.


New drug for amoebiasis in the offing

(Topic: Science and Technology)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Entamoeba histolytica is the third-leading cause of morbidity and mortality due to parasitic disease in humans. It causes amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery, which is highly prevalent in developing countries. 

This protozoan is anaerobic or micro-aerophilic in nature such that it cannot survive high concentrations of oxygen. However, during infection, it faces a high surge of oxygen inside the human body. 

  • The organism synthesizes large amounts of cysteine to counter oxidative stress.
  • This pathogen deploys cysteine as one of the essential molecules in its defence mechanism against high oxygen levels. Entamoeba expresses two crucial enzymes for synthesizing cysteine.

A team of researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has developed new drug molecules against the protozoa that causes amoebiasis. Researchers from JNU has characterized and determined the molecular structures of both these crucial enzymes, and has also successfully screened for potent inhibitors for one of the enzymes, O-acetyl L-serine sulfhydrylase (OASS). Some of these inhibitors can check the growth of this organism with high efficacy.

Please Note

Bye-election: By-elections are elections conducted to fill elected offices that have become vacant between general elections. This may happen due to

  • Resignation
  • Death or dismissal of the person holding the office until then

Raja Parba

  • Odisha; also known as Mithuna Sankranti
  • A three-day-long festival celebrated in Odisha, India. The second day of the festival signifies beginning of the solar month of Mithuna from, which the season of rains starts.
  • It is believed that the mother Goddess Earth or the divine wife of Lord Vishnu undergoes menstruation during the first three days. The fourth day is called Vasumati Snana, or ceremonial bath of Bhudevi. The term Raja came from the Sanskrit word ‘Rajas’ which means menstruation and when a woman menstruates, she is called ‘Rajaswala’ or a menstruating woman, and in medieval times the festival became more popular as an agricultural holiday marking the worship of Bhudevi, who is the wife of lord Jagannath. A silver idol of Bhudevi is still to be found in the Puri Temple beside Lord Jagannath.

Annular Eclipse of the Sun- 21 June, 2020

The first solar eclipse of this year takes place on the summer solstice, which is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • A solar eclipse occurs on a new moon day when the Moon comes in between the Earth and the Sun and when all the three objects are aligned. 
  • When Moon comes between the Sun and Earth, the shadow falls on the surface of the Earth. The Sun is entirely covered by the Moon for a brief period. Those places that are engulfed by the dark, dense umbral shadow of the Moon experience the total solar eclipse.
  • When the three celestial bodies happen to be in a straight line, we have Total solar eclipse.
  • Annular solar eclipse is a particular case of the total solar eclipse. Like the total solar eclipse, the Moon is aligned with the Sun. However, on that day, the apparent size of the Moon happens to be a wee smaller than the Sun.  Hence the Moon covers the central part of the Sun, and the rim of the Sun appear like a ‘ring of fire’ in the sky for a very brief momen

The distance between the Earth and the Moon at the moment of the eclipse can dictate the type of eclipse that will take place. The distance between the Earth and the Moon is always changing due to the egg-shaped elliptical orbit of the Moon. This means that there are times where it is closer to the Earth and appears slightly bigger in the sky and times where it is farther away and appears somewhat smaller in the sky. Coincidentally, during the eclipse that takes place on June 21, 2020, the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun by 1%.

Eclipsed Sun should not be viewed with the naked eye, even for a very short time. It will cause permanent damage of the eyes leading to blindness even when the moon covers most portion of the Sun. Safe technique to observe the solar eclipse is either by using proper filter like aluminized Mylar, black polymer, welding glass of shade number 14 or by making projection of Sun’s image on a white board by telescope.  

Sickle Cell disease

Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. 

Normally, the flexible, round red blood cells move easily through blood vessels. In sickle cell anemia, the red blood are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These rigid, sticky cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape.

Anaemia: Sickle cells break apart easily and die, leaving you with too few red blood cells. Red blood cells usually live for about 120 days before they need to be replaced. But sickle cells usually die in 10 to 20 days, leaving a shortage of red blood cells (anemia). Without enough red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen, causing fatigue.

Episodes of pain: Periodic episodes of pain, called pain crises, are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia. Pain develops when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to your chest, abdomen and joints. Pain can also occur in your bones.

The pain varies in intensity and can last for a few hours to a few weeks. Some people have only a few pain crises a year. Others have a dozen or more pain crises a year. A severe pain crisis requires a hospital stay. Some adolescents and adults with sickle cell anemia also have chronic pain, which can result from bone and joint damage, ulcers, and other causes.

Swelling of hands and feet: The swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow to the hands and feet.

Frequent infections: Sickle cells can damage your spleen, leaving you more vulnerable to infections. Doctors commonly give infants and children with sickle cell anemia vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent potentially life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.

Delayed growth or puberty: Red blood cells provide your body with the oxygen and nutrients needed for growth. A shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.

  • Vision problems. Tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes can become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina — the portion of the eye that processes visual images — and lead to vision problems.

Treatment: 

Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA. The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic letters. In a sense, a genome sequence is simply a very long string of letters in a mysterious language.

The genetic maps form the basis of positional cloning, the ability to isolate disease genes based on patterns of inheritance. This will help in identification of genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anaemia. Using gene editing technique such diseases can also be treated.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (Ips Cells)

  • iPS are adult stem cells are adult stem cells, like in umbilical cord cells or bone marrow cells, that can be induced to show properties of stem cells.
  • They are mostly use in therapeutic cloning to treat degenerative diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzhiemers etc.
  • They are created by stimulating mature, already specialised cells back into a juvenile state without the need for an embryo.
  • These can be derived from the patient themselves, making them less likely to be rejected.
  • The cells can be transformed into a range of different types of cells, and their use is a key sector of medical research.
  • Further owing to ethical issues embryonic cells are banned in countries such as Ireland and in Latin America. Therefore use of iPS cells in therapeutic cloning is rather significant.

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