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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 21st June to 27th June – 2020

  • IASbaba
  • July 2, 2020
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IASBABA’S INTEGRATED LEARNING PROGRAMME (ILP)

Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 21st June to 27th June – 2020

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GS-1

Gravel geometry of the Indus river unravel its paleoclimatic history

(Topic: Indian geographical phenomena)

Researchers have traced the paleoclimatic history of the Indus River in Ladakh Himalaya with the help of geometric data from overlapping gravels of channel fills. They studied the discharge during periods in which the river experienced an increase in land elevation, due to the deposition of sediment) and its incision.

River Terraces are ubiquitous in mountains that nourish and help sustain past, present, and future human societies. These terraces are part of valley-wide aggradations, which has been studied extensively in Himalaya to understand the processes driving such a periodic increase in river valley land elevation and incision. Scientists are still debating whether wetter climate intervals with increased rainfall and glacial melting promote river aggradation through increased discharge and enhanced sediment load, or instead, is it during drier conditions when aggradation occurs through increased sediment to water ratio.

The researchers observed that the aggradation in the Himalayan rivers occurred in glacial-interglacial transient warm climatic conditions (33–21 ka and 17–14 ka) when the sediment budget in the rivers increased just after the glacial events.

Aggradation took place in the Indus River when sediment to water ratio was higher during MIS-3 (Marine isotope stages (MIS), marine oxygen-isotope stages, are alternating warm and cool periods in the Earth’s paleoclimate, deduced from oxygen isotope data reflecting changes in temperature derived from data from deep-sea core samples) and incision initiated when sediment to water ratio reduced during post-glacial climatically wet phase (early Holocene).


The once-most famous pottery of Pokhran

(Topics: Indian culture – handicrafts)

Seeking to restore the lost glory of the once-most famous pottery of Pokhran, a small town in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan where India conducted its 1st nuclear test, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has distributed 80 electric potter wheels to 80 potter families in Pokhran which has a rich heritage in terracotta products. 

Pokhran has over 300 potters’ families that are engaged with pottery for several decades, but potters started looking for other avenues due to heavy drudgery in the work and no market support.

Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana

  • To bring back the potters’ community to the mainstream by providing potters with modern equipment and training. This will help to reconnect 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 to 8 times.

Pokhran is also one of the aspirational districts identified by the NITI Aayog.


70th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the Korean War

(Topic: World History)

The Korean War was a war between North Korea (with the support of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations, principally from the United States). The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States liberated Korea from imperial Japanese colonial control on 15 August 1945. After the war had ended, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation, the Soviets administered the northern half and the Americans administered the southern half. With the border set at the 38th parallel in 1948, two sovereign states were established as a result of geopolitical tensions of the Cold War (between the Soviet Union and the United States). A socialist state was established in the north under the communist leadership of Kim Il-sung and a capitalist state in the south under the anti-communist leadership of Syngman Rhee. Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.

The conflict escalated into warfare when North Korean military (Korean People’s Army, KPA) forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—crossed the border and advanced into South Korea on 25 June 1950. The United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel

What factors led to the division of Korea into South and North Korea?

The Division of Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. With the defeat of Japan, the Soviet Union occupied the north of Korea, and the United States occupied the south, with the boundary between their zones being the 38th parallel.

Japanese Rule: Since Russio-Japanese war ended in 1905, Korea was under Japanese control till 1945. During this period, nationalist and radical groups emerged, mostly in exile, to struggle for independence.

World War II and defeat of Japan: As war began, Russia took benefit of resentment rising in Korea against Japanese rule. Russia called on Koreans to rise up against Japan. US became anxious that Russia would occupy the whole of Korea, thus they hurriedly decide on the south of 38th parallel as American occupation. They chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would place the capital Seoul under American control. During the process no one from Korea were consulted.

Cold war: Soon after WWII, cold war between US and USSR started. USSR started to establish communism in Northern part of Korean peninsula. With the fear of Soviet expansion, US occupied South Korea and established anti-communist government there.

UN intervention and the formation of separate governments: UN decided to hold elections in Korea to establish an independent government there, but Soviet Union boycotted the elections because it was perceived that UN is under US influence. Therefore UN decided to go-ahead with election only in South. The decision to proceed with separate elections was unpopular among many Koreans, who rightly saw it as a prelude to a permanent division of the country.

Korean War: It was final nail in the coffin of United Korea. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. United Nations intervened to protect the South, sending a US-led force. Both the sides tried to unify Korea under their influence, communist and anti-communist.

Armistice: The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed after three years of war. The two sides agreed to create a four-kilometer-wide buffer zone between the states, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This new border, reflecting the territory held by each side at the end of the war, crossed the 38th parallel diagonally. And Korea stood formally divided.


GS-2

India prepares for a change in Electricity sector through Proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020

(Topic: Government schemes and policies)

Electricity is one of the most critical components of infrastructure which is essential for sustained growth of the economy of the country. While we have made significant improvements in the electricity generation and transmission segments, the distribution segment, having achieved 100% village electrification and near-universal access to electricity, is beset with problems of operational inefficiencies, liquidity, and financial solvency.

Proposed power reforms are aimed at introducing transparency and accountability to protect the interest of consumers and ensuring healthy growth of the power sector.

There is no restrictions on States for providing subsidy as  States can give as much subsidy as they want but they must pay it upfront through Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) so that Discoms remain healthy and are able to maintain and improve distribution infrastructure like transformers and distribution lines, pay for power purchased and are able to provide quality electricity to the people.

Objectives

  • Ensure consumer centricity
  • Promote Ease of Doing Business
  • Enhance sustainability of the power sector
  • Promote green power

Criticisms

  • Firstly, the bill has been criticized for giving the Central Government more power to determine tariff and regulations in the power sector, in spite of it falling under the concurrent list. Cost reflective tariff has raised concerns for states like Telangana which provide free electricity to the farming sector. However, supply of free electricity to the agricultural sector has been a point of debate for a long time since there is no upper limit for consumption, which can result in exploitation of the benefit, by even industries.
  • Secondly, formation of ECEA has also been criticized as a move towards centralization of power. Furthermore, multiple selection committees will be replaced by a single committee if the bill becomes an act, which can possibly result in states not having adequate representation and the centre exercising more power in these appointments.
  • Thirdly, recognition of franchisees and sub- licensees, even though it supports DISCOMs, is also a bone of contention as it might open the sector to private players.  
  • The key to achieve these objectives of contract enforcement lies in enhancing the capacity of stakeholders to plan, design, implement and monitor contracts. Similarly, the abolishment of subsidized tariff has political and social implications. The states may perceive it as a threat for their political strategy of promising power at subsidized rates or for free. On the other hand, consumers may perceive it as a threat to their cash flows, resulting from inefficiencies or delays in direct transfer ..
  • Finally, to give clean energy a greater push, there is a mention of a national renewable energy policy in the legislation itself. This will certainly provide a policy preference to India’s clean energy ambitions but more clarity is needed in this regard.

Launch of Distressed Assets Fund–Sub-ordinate Debt for MSMEs

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

Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) launched another funding scheme to help the distressed MSME sector – the Credit Guarantee Scheme for Sub-ordinate Debt (CGSSD) which is also called “Distressed Assets Fund–Sub-ordinate Debt for MSMEs”.

Objective: The biggest challenge for stressed MSMEs was in getting capital either in the form of debt or equity. Therefore, as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat package, Finance Minister had announced this scheme of sub-ordinate Debt to the promoters of operational but stressed MSMEs.  

As per the Scheme, the guarantee cover worth Rs. 20,000 crores will be provided to the promoters who can take debt from the banks to further invest in their stressed MSMEs as equity.

  • This Scheme seeks to extend support to the promoter(s) of the operational MSMEs which are stressed and have become NPA as on 30th April, 2020;
  • Promoter(s) of the MSMEs will be given credit equal to 15% of their stake (equity plus debt) or Rs. 75 lakh whichever is lower;
  • Promoter(s) in turn will infuse this amount in the MSME unit as equity and thereby enhance the liquidity and maintain debt-equity ratio;
  • 90% guarantee coverage for this sub-debt will be given under the Scheme and 10% would come from the concerned promoters;
  • There will be a moratorium of 7 years on payment of principal whereas maximum tenor for repayment will be 10 years.

Key benefits:

  • Provide much required support to around 2 lakh MSMEs
  • Help in reviving the economic activity in and through this sector
  • Help in protecting the livelihoods and jobs of millions of people who depend on them.

GS-3

Purchasing Power Parities and the size of Indian Economy: Results from the 2017 International Comparison Program by World Bank

(Topic: Indian economy)

The World Bank has released new Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) for reference year 2017, under International Comparison Program (ICP), that adjust for differences in the cost of living across economies of the World. Globally 176 economies participated in 2017 cycle of ICP.

The International Comparison Program (ICP) is the largest worldwide data-collection initiative, under the guidance of UN Statistical Commission (UNSC), with the goal of producing Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) which are vital for converting measures of economic activities to be comparable across economies. Along with the PPPs, the ICP also produces Price Level Indices (PLI) and other regionally comparable aggregates of GDP expenditure.

India has participated in almost all ICP rounds since its inception in 1970. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is National Implementing Agency (NIA) for India, which has the responsibility of planning, coordinating and implementing national ICP activities. India is also proud to have been a co-Chair of the ICP Governing Board along with Statistics Austria for the ICP 2017 cycle.

  • The Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) of Indian Rupee per US$ at Gross Domestic Product (GDP) level is now 20.65 in 2017 from 15.55 in 2011. 
  • The Exchange Rate of US Dollar to Indian Rupee is now 65.12 from 46.67 during same period.
  • In 2017, India retained and consolidated its global position, as the third largest economy, accounted for 6.7 percent ($8,051 billion out of World total of $119,547 billion) of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in terms of PPPs as against China (16.4%) and United States (16.3%), respectively. 
  • India is also third largest economy in terms of its PPP-based share in global Actual Individual Consumption and Global Gross Capital Formation.

President Promulgates Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020

(Topic: Indian Economy)

In pursuance of the commitment to ensure safety of depositors across banks, the President has promulgated the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. 

The Ordinance amends the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 as applicable to Cooperative Banks. 

  • The Ordinance seeks to protect the interests of depositors and strengthen cooperative banks by improving governance and oversight by extending powers already available with RBI in respect of other banks to Co-operative Banks as well for sound banking regulation, and by ensuring professionalism and enabling their access to capital. 
  • The amendments do not affect existing powers of the State Registrars of Co-operative Societies under state co-operative laws. 
  • The amendments do not apply to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) or co-operative societies whose primary object and principal business is long-term finance for agricultural development, and which do not use the word “bank” or “banker” or “banking” and do not act as drawees of cheques.
  • The Ordinance also amends Section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, to enable making of a scheme of reconstruction or amalgamation of a banking company for protecting the interest of the public, depositors and the banking system and for securing its proper management, even without making an order of moratorium, so as to avoid disruption of the financial system.

Sanctions under Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) cross Rs. 79,000 crore 

(Topic: Economic reforms under COVID-19)

Under the Emergency Credit Line backed by a Government guarantee, Banks from Public & Private Sectors have so far already sanctioned loans worth over Rs. 79,000 crore as of June 20, 2020, of which more than Rs. 35,000 crore has already been disbursed.

The top lenders under the scheme are SBI, HDFC Bank, Bank of Baroda, PNB & Canara Bank. This has helped 19 lakh MSMEs & other businesses restart their businesses post the lockdown. 

As part of the Aatmanirbhar package, Government had announced its plans for Rs. 3 lakh crore as additional credit to MSMEs and small businesses. Such enterprises were to be eligible to receive upto 20% of their existing borrowing as additional loans at interest rates which were capped.

Separately, under RBI’s Special Liquidity Facility announced in March-April, 2020, SIDBI has sanctioned over Rs. 10,220 crore to NBFCs, Micro Finance Institutions & Banks for lending to MSME& small borrowers.  National Housing Bank (NHB) has sanctioned its entire facility of Rs. 10,000 crore to Housing Finance Companies.  This refinance by SIDBI & NHB is in addition to ongoing schemes through which over Rs. 30,000 crore has been sanctioned. NBFCs & MFIs are being further helped under the Extended Partial Guarantee Scheme where approvals have crossed Rs. 5500 crore. Transactions for another Rs. 5000 crore are under process of approval while certain other deals are currently under negotiation.


Cabinet approved setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF)

(Topic: Animal Husbandry)

Government had earlier approved the Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) worth Rs. 10,000 crores for incentivizing investment by cooperative sector for development of dairy infrastructure. However, the MSMEs and Private companies also need to be promoted and incentivized for their participation in processing and value addition infrastructure in the animal husbandry sector. The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) approved would incentive infrastructure investments in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants.

The AHIDF with the interest subvention scheme for private investors will ensure availability of capital to meet upfront investment required for these projects and also help enhance overall returns/ pay back for investors. Such investments in processing and value addition infrastructure by eligible beneficiaries would also promote exports.

Since almost 50-60% of the final value of dairy output in India flows back to farmers, the growth in this sector can have significant direct impact on farmer’s income. Size of dairy market and farmers’ realization from milk sales is closely linked with development of organized off-take by cooperative and private dairies. Thus, investment of Rs. 15,000 crores through AHIDF would not only leverage several times more private investment but would also motivate farmers to invest more on inputs thereby driving higher productivity leading to increase in farmers income. The measures approved today through AHIDF would also help in direct and indirect livelihood creation for about 35 lakh persons.


Decline in Arctic sea ice does not sound good for the environment

(Topic: Climate Change)

The National Centre of Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) has found a dramatic decline in the Arctic sea ice due to global warming. The decline of sea ice has led to localized increase in evaporation, air humidity, cloud cover, and rainfall.

Arctic sea ice is a sensitive indicator of climate change and has strong retaliatory effects on other components of the climate system.

The largest decline in Arctic sea ice in the past 41 years happened in July 2019. In the last 40 years (1979-2018), the sea ice has been declining at a rate of ‘-4.7%’ per decade, while its rate was found to be ‘-13%’ in July 2019. If this trend continues, there would be no ice left in the Arctic sea by 2050, which would be dangerous for humanity and the entire environment.

  • Being a sensitive indicator of climate change, the loss of ice cover in the Arctic sea has had strong feedback effects on other components of the climate system such as prevention or reduction of heat and momentum, water vapour, and other material exchange between the atmosphere and the sea. 
  • The worrying element to note is that the volume of ice formation during winters is unable to keep pace with the volume of ice loss during summers.

Role of ancient algae in building a healthy global marine ecosystem

(Topic: Climate Change)

A study of a microscopic ancient marine algae (Coccolithophores) led by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) has found that there is a decrease in the concentration of oceanic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the Southern Indian ocean. 

This decrease in CaCOis attributed to the increase in the concentration of another single-celled algae known as diatoms. This, in turn, will affect the growth and skeleton structure of coccolithophores, with potential significance for the world ocean ecosystem.

Coccolithophores are single-celled algae living in the upper layers of the world’s oceans. 

  • They have been playing a key role in marine ecosystems and the global carbon cycle for millions of years. 
  • Coccolithophores calcify marine phytoplankton that produces up to 40% of open ocean calcium carbonate and responsible for 20% of the global net marine primary productivity.
  • Coccolithophores build exoskeletons from individual CaCO3 plates consisting of chalk and seashells building the tiny plates on their exterior. 
  • Though carbon dioxide is produced during the formation of these plates, coccolithophores help in removing it from the atmosphere and ocean by consuming it during photosynthesis. 
  • At equilibrium, coccolithophores absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce, which is beneficial for the ocean ecosystem.
  • The reduction of coccolithophore diversity in the early summer and late summer periods is due to an increase in the presence of diatom algae, which occurs after sea ice breakdown with climate change and ocean acidification, and increases the silicate concentration in the waters of the Southern Ocean.

Why is the study important: The results of the study point to climate change as a major reason for the altered coccolithophore calcification rate. Different environmental factors and the ability of the species to adapt to those environmental changes would ultimately determine the future coccolithophore calcite production. These investigations are important for future intervention to bring positive changes in the marine ecosystem and global carbon cycle.


Historic reforms initiated in the Space sector

(Topic: Science and Technology – Space)

Aim: Boosting private sector participation in the entire range of space activities.

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure. It will also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.

The Public Sector Enterprise ‘New Space India Limited (NSIL)’ will endeavour to re-orient space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of our space assets.

Key benefits

  • Allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme. 
  • Some of the planetary exploration missions will also be opened up to private sector through an ‘announcement of opportunity’ mechanism.
  • Space sector can play a major catalytic role in the technological advancement and expansion of our Industrial base.
  • Will enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including through improved access to space assets, data and facilities

Developments in Space

(Topic: Science and Technology – Space)

Study showing stars of varied ages can co-exist in open clusters, provides clue to stellar evolution in the Milky Way Galaxy

Stars in our Galaxy are formed from the molecular clouds present in the Galaxy. It is believed that the majority of stars in our Galaxy are formed in the star clusters making them important clues to understand the star formation mechanism. Open star clusters are a system of stars bound by gravity in which stars are born from the same molecular clouds. All the stars in a cluster follow the evolutionary sequence as per their initial masses at the time of formation of these stars.  Open clusters are also important in probing formation and evolution of Milky Way Galaxy as they are distributed throughout the Galactic disk.

  • Astronomers at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous science institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Govt. of India, have found that stars of varied ages can co-exist in open clusters. This challenges earlier understanding that stars in an open cluster have the same age.
  • The scientists measured the light from three poorly studied open clusters NGC 381, NGC 2360, and Berkeley 68 observed using the 1.3-m telescope at Devasthal situated in the lap of the Himalaya for studying the evolution of stars in these clusters. They found two different stellar evolutionary sequences in the cluster NGC 2360, which has been observed in very few open clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy until now. The clusters are found to be relatively older, having ages between 446 Million years to 1778 million years.
  • Other than the stellar evolution, the researchers also studied the dynamical evolution of these clusters for the first time. The mass distributions of stars belonging to the clusters have shown the preferential distribution of massive stars in the inner part of the clusters while low mass stars are found towards outer region of the clusters.
  • It is believed that some of the very low mass stars have in fact, left their parent clusters and may be roaming as a free star like our own Sun. Their study lent important insight about the stellar and dynamical evolution of these clusters. These scientists are further aiming to do an in-depth analysis of many more open star clusters in near future using the observational facilities available at their institute along with the supplementary data provided by the space missions.

Detection of fluorine in hot Extreme Helium Stars solves their evolution mystery

An extreme helium star or EHe is a low-mass supergiant that is almost devoid of hydrogen, the most common chemical element of the universe. There are 21 of them detected so far in our galaxy. The origin and evolution of these Hydrogen deficient objects have been shrouded in mystery. Their severe chemical peculiarities challenge the theory of well-accepted stellar evolution as the observed chemical composition of these stars do not match with that predicted for low mass evolved stars.

A study by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) an autonomous institute of Department of Science and Technology which detected the presence of singly ionised fluorine for the first time in the atmospheres of hot Extreme Helium Stars makes a strong case that the main formation of these objects involves a merger of a carbon-oxygen (CO) and a Helium (He) white dwarf.

Black Holes and Gravitational Waves

The recent progress in gravitational wave astronomy and black hole shadow measurement can be exploited to understand gravitational theories better. 

  • Provide bounds on the parameter space
  • Act as a guiding principle for subsequent analysis

Study of optical properties of super-massive black-hole can provide clue to emission mechanism from its close vicinity

Through 153 nights, 17 scientists from 9 countries in Europe and Asia including researchers from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India took 2263 image frames and observed the changes in a very high energy gamma-ray emitting blazar ‘1ES 0806+524’ using seven optical telescopes in Europe and Asia.

A blazar is a feeding super-massive black-hole (SMBH) in the heart of a distant galaxy that produces a high-energy jet viewed face-on from Earth. Blazars are one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the known universe with a jet composed of ionized matter traveling at nearly the speed of light directed very nearly towards an observer.

The large flares are the result of propagation of a shock in the relativistic jet that accelerates electrons to high energies followed by subsequent cooling. According to their study, the small amplitude changes can be understood to arise from small variations in the viewing angle, and hence in the Doppler factor, caused by either wiggling or helical jets or the motion of the most intense emitting region on a roughly helical trajectory within the jet. Variations on intra-day timescales can be explained by the turbulence expected in a relativistic plasma jet according to the study.

Blazars are among one of the most favourite astronomical transient objects because they emit radiation in the complete EM spectrum, and their flux and polarization are highly variable.


Scientists detect ionospheric irregularities during major space weather events that influence communication & navigation systems

(Topic: Science and Technology)

The Earth’s magnetic field lines are nearly horizontal over magnetic equator due to which equatorial ionosphere is a bed for a variety of plasma instabilities to cause plasma disturbances and plasma irregularities. These plasma irregularities pose severe problems to the communication and navigation systems and interfere with surveillance operations as well as disruption in detection and tracking of aircraft, missiles, and satellites.

A multi-instrument based ionospheric study of space weather storms over India by the Scientists from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST) have found that 

  • The occurrence of equatorial spread F (ESF) irregularities and GPS scintillations are significantly affected by the geomagnetic storms depending upon the time of the onset of the geomagnetic storm. 
  • The Equatorial Spread-F (ESF) caused due to the F region plasma irregularities is a complex phenomenon encompassing a wide range of scale sizes of irregularities in electron and ion densities as well as in electric fields. 
  • They also produce ionospheric scintillations in VHF and GPS receivers when radio wave traverses through the ionosphere.
  • During geomagnetic storms, partial enhancement in pre reversal enhancement (PRE) (an eastward electric field enhancement before turning the westward near the sunset hours in the equatorial ionosphere) in the zonal eastward electric field occurs during post-sunset resulting in around 30% increase in spread F instead of total inhibition during equinox and winter seasons. 
  • The PRE is believed to be produced by F region dynamo, where it causes F region of the ionosphere to rise to very high altitude due to sudden increase of the eastward electric field. 

Importance of the Study: Understanding the thermosphere‐ionosphere-magnetosphere interactions that control the electrodynamics behind dynamical evolution of ionospheric irregularities under disturbed periods like geomagnetic storms is most important in developing and maintaining communication and navigation systems.


New biomolecules to fight drug resistance in Kala- azar

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India. It is caused by a parasite called Leishmania, which is transmitted through the bite of sand flies.

There are three main forms of leishmaniasis – 

  • Visceral, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease,
  • Cutaneous, which causes skin sores and is the most common form); and
  • Mucocutaneous, which causes skin and mucosal lesion

Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India, is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated. The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite, which is necessary for the drug to kill the parasite.

What is going wrong exactly?

  • Specific types of protein molecules, called transporter proteins, play a major role in carrying miltefosine into and out of the parasite’s body, which comprises a single cell. 
  • A protein called ‘P4ATPase-CDC50’, is responsible for intake of the drug by the parasite, and another protein, called ‘P-glycoprotein’, is responsible for throwing this drug out from within the parasite’s body.
  • A decrease in the activity of the former protein, and an increase in the activity of the latter results in less amounts of miltefosine being accumulated inside the parasite’s body, thus causing it to become resistant to the drug

The research

  • A team of researchers have been exploring ways to tackle miltefosine resistance. 
  • The researchers worked with one of the species of Leishmania that causes infection, called Leishmania major. 
  • They tried to manipulate these transporter proteins in the species in a manner that would result in increased uptake of the drug and decrease in its being thrown out of the parasite’s body.

Please Note

Rath Yatra: Odisha

Ashadhi Bij: Kutchi New Year

Financing for Compressed Bio-Gas plants to be brought under Priority Sector Lending

  • The Government is in the process of including Compressed Bio-Gas under Priority Sector Lending.  This will provide ease in the financing of CBG Plants.
  • The ‘SATAT’ (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation) scheme on CBG: Envisages targeting production of 15 MMT of CBG from 5000 plants by 2023.
  • Government of India has been promoting Biofuels including CBG to increase the green-energy mix, reduce import dependence, create employment especially in semi-urban & rural areas and reduce pollution. 
  • Usage of CBG shall assist in achieving climate change goals of India as per the Paris Agreement 2015. This shall also be in alignment with schemes of Government of India like Swachh Bharat, Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India.

Dr. V.K. Paul Committee on containment strategy of COVID-19 in Delhi

  • Revised demarcation of containment zones and a strict monitoring and control of activities in such containment zones.
  • Contact Tracing and Quarantining of Contacts of all infected persons, with the help of Aarogya Setu and Itihas Aap.
  • Listing and monitoring of each household even outside containment zones, which will help in getting comprehensive information about Delhi.
  • Keep the COVID19 positive cases in hospitals, Covid care centres or home isolation. Proper functioning of Covid care centres and taking the help of voluntary organizations/NGOs in this regard.

As per the plan proposed by Dr. V.K. Paul every district in Delhi will be linked to a major hospital, which will provide adequate help.

Immunity booster Herbal Tea from NIPER Mohali

National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) have introduced many   innovative products like safety devices, sanitizers and masks to fight COVID epidemic. At the same time it has also come up with an immunity booster Herbal Tea to strengthen physical resistance to infection. 

  • This Herbal Tea is aimed at modulating immune response in body so that it may be used as a preventive remedy against covid-19 viral infection. The tea is a combination of 6 locally available herbs like Aswagandha, Giloe, Mulethi, Tulsi and Green Tea that are mixed in carefully selected proportion keeping in mind their action as immunity enhancer, sensory appeal, ease of preparation and acceptable palatability. 
  • The selection of Herbs was based on RASAYANA concept described in Ayurveda. Rasayana means rejuvenation. These Herbs have long been used in various Ayurvedic formulations and are known for their immunomodulatory effects. 
  • These Herbs act at the cellular immunity level and boost the immune response generated by our body to fight  viral/bacterial diseases. The formula has been designed in a way to achieve maximum immune boosting effect.

CBIC Enables End to End Paperless Exports under Turant Customs

A secure QR coded Shipping Bill would be electronically sent to exporters after the Customs allows export. 

  • Eliminates in one stroke the requirement of the exporters having to approach the customs officers for proof of export
  • Makes the end to end customs export process fully electronic, from the filing of the Shipping Bill to the final order to allow export

It is another step taken by CBIC for fulfilling its commitment to a Faceless, Paperless, and Contactless Customs under the umbrella of its “Turant Customs” programme. These reforms are based on enhanced use of digital technology to reduce the time and costs for the importers, exporters and other stakeholders, thereby improving India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Trading Across Borders parameter of its Doing Business Report.

Navy Inducts Indigenously Developed Torpedo Decoy System

  • Capable of being fired from all frontline warships
  • Design & Development of this anti-torpedo decoy system has been undertaken indigenously DRDO labs (NSTL and NPOL).
  • Has given a major fillip to the Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and the country’s resolve to become ‘Atmanirbhar’ in niche technology.

Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee

  • An Indian politician, barrister and academician, who served as Minister for Industry and Supply in Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet.
  • After falling out with Nehru, Mukherjee quit the Indian National Congress and founded the right wing nationalist political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a predecessor to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in 1951.
  • Since BJP is the successor party of Bhartiya Jana Sangh, Mookerjee is regarded as the founder of BJP too

Shri Narasimha Rao 

  • The Prime Minister from 1991 to 1996 and has been credited for bringing reform in the country during his leadership.
  • Credited for introducing major economic reforms in the country by ending the license raj – laid the foundation for trade liberalisation and the re-integration of the Indian economy with the global economy, especially East Asian economies

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