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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 24th May to 31st May – 2021

  • IASbaba
  • June 1, 2021
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GS-2

PM CARES For Children- Empowerment of COVID Affected Children

(Topic: Governance)

All children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to Covid 19 will be supported under ‘PM-CARES for Children’ scheme.

  1. Fixed Deposit in the name of the child: PM CARES will contribute through a specially designed scheme to create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age. This corpus:
  • Will be used to give a monthly financial support/ stipend from 18 years of age, for the next five years to take care of his or her personal requirements during the period of higher education and
  • On reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use.
  1. School Education: For children under 10 years
  • The child will be given admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.
  • If the child is admitted in a private school, the fees as per the RTE norms will be given from the PM CARES.
  • PM-CARES will also pay for expenditure on uniform, text books and notebooks.
  1. School Education: for children between 11-18 years:
  • The child will be given admission in any Central Government residential school such as Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc.
  • In case the child is to be continued under the care of Guardian/ grandparents/ extended family, then he or she will be given admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.
  • If the child is admitted in a private school, the fees as per the RTE norms will be given from the PM CARES.
  • PM CARES will also pay for expenditure on uniform, text books and notebooks.
  1. Support for Higher Education:
  • The child will be assisted in obtaining education loan for Professional courses / Higher Education in India as per the existing Education Loan norms. The interest on this loan will be paid by the PM CARES.
  • As an alternative, scholarship equivalent to the tuition fees / course fees for undergraduate/ vocational courses as per Government norms will be provided to such children under Central or State Government Schemes. For children who are not eligible under the existing scholarship schemes, PM CARES will provide an equivalent scholarship.
  1. Health Insurance
  • All children will be enrolled as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs.
  • The premium amount for these children till the age of 18 years will be paid by PM CARES.

BRICS meeting deliberated on emerging issues in Biotechnology and Biomedicine

(Topic: India and international organisations)

Experts deliberated on emerging issues in the various fields of Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the fourth BRICS Working Group meeting on the subject area.

The members of the working group on Biotechnology and Biomedicine suggested future directions of research collaboration among BRICs countries in the areas such as Antimicrobial Resistance, Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health Medicine, Non-Communicable Diseases, Neurological Disorders, Agro-biotechnology, Food and Nutrition, Cancer, long Post-Covid Challenges and Complications including Molecular Pathogenesis of COVID-19 virus.

  • India proposed BRICS Consortium to address Post Covid challenges, tackling Non-Communicable Diseases as Flagship Programme
  • Russia proposed Sustainable Agro-biotechnology for Healthy Food & Nutrition, advanced Virtual Reality assisted technology for neurorehabilitation
  • China proposed flagship on Cancer research as Flagship Programme.

India has assumed the BRICS Presidency from January 2021; about 100 events, including Ministerial level meetings, Senior Official meetings, and sectorial meetings/ conference, will be organized as part of BRICS 2021 Calendar.


India and Israel sign a three-year work program for cooperation in Agriculture

(Topic: India and Israel)

Taking forward the ever-growing partnership in agriculture between Israel and India, the two governments have agreed to enhance their cooperation in agriculture and signed a three-year work program agreement for development in Agriculture cooperation, while affirming the ever-growing bilateral partnership and recognizing the centrality of agriculture and water sectors in the bilateral relationship.

India and Israel are implementing the “INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence” and “INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”.

The “INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”, is a new concept aimed at creating a model ecosystem in agriculture across eight states, alongside 13 Centers of Excellence within 75 villages. The program will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms based on IIAP standards. Large-scale and complete value chain approach with economic sustainability, embedded with Israeli novel technologies and methodologies will be tailored to local conditions. The IIVOE program will focus on: (1) Modern Agriculture infrastructure, (2) Capacity Building, (3) Market linkage.

INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence

  • The COEs established under these Israeli-based action plans are playing an important role in doubling farmers’ income. 
  • The exchange of technology between India and Israel will greatly improve the productivity and quality of horticulture, thereby increasing the income of farmers.
  • These Centers of Excellence established under Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan (IIAP) have become epicentres of transformation in horticulture sector. The focus will be to convert the villages surrounding these COEs into Villages of Excellence through massive outreach programmes.

GS-3

Mucormycosis

  • Mucormycosis is an aggressive and invasive fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. 
  • It can affect various organs but is currently manifesting as an invasive rhino-orbito-cerebral disease, crawling through the sinus and working its way to the brain, affecting the ear, nose, throat, and mouth. 
  • While it is not contagious, it can cause a lot of damage internally and can be fatal if not detected early.
  • While mucormycosis is an old disease, what is perhaps new and concerning is the sudden increase in the invasive form of the sinus variant, which involves the orbit, and at times the brain, leading to blindness, stroke or death.
  • In common parlance, it also goes by the name ‘black fungus’, a direct reference to the blackening that is characteristic of the disease.
  • Distinct Symptoms: The signs to watch out for are a stuffy nose, bloody, blackish, or brown discharge from the nose, blackish discolouration of the skin, swelling or numbness around the cheek, one-sided facial pain, toothache or jaw pain, drooping of the eyelids or eyelid swelling, double vision, redness of eyes, and sudden decrease in vision.

Types of Mucormycosis: Mucormycosis can be categorized depending on which organ of the human body it attacks.  Signs and symptoms of the infection also vary depending on the affected body part.

Rhino orbital cerebral Mucormycosis: It infects the nose, orbit of eye / eye socket, oral cavity and can even spread to the brain. Symptoms include headache, nasal congestion, nasal discharge (green colour), pain in sinus, bleeding nose, swelling on face, lack of sensation on face and skin discoloration.                                         

Pulmonary Mucormycosis: This fungal infection affects the lungs. Causes fever, chest pain, cough and coughing of blood.

The fungus can also infect the gastrointestinal tract.

Why has it become a cause of concern in recent days?

  • Hospitals across the country have started to report a number of cases of mucormycosis, affecting patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19. 
  • While no studies exist on the current prevalence, the infection remained a possibility for one in 10,000 persons who recovered from COVID-19. It is predicted that the figure may go up as the number of COVID-19 cases escalates.

What causes the disease?

  • Diabetes mellitus is the most common underlying cause, followed by haematological malignancies and solid-organ transplants. Diabetes mellitus was reported in 54% to 76% of cases, according to a report.
  • What seems to be triggering mucormycosis in patients post COVID-19 is indiscriminate use of a high dose of steroids in COVID-19 patients, sometimes even in minimally symptomatic patients. This leads to spikes in the sugar level among diabetics, which, in turn, renders them vulnerable. 
  • Rational use of steroids is necessary, and constant monitoring of sugar levels and resorting to insulin use to control these levels if required, is essential.
  • The use of monoclonal agents like Tocilizumab may be a factor, too. 
  • Experts also opine that while the fungi are present in the environment, the use of nasal prongs and other devices for oxygen delivery and possible breach of sterile conditions can possibly lead to cross-infection and hospital-acquired infection

How can mucormycosis be prevented?

  • The main line of treatment is an anti-fungal drug called amphotericin B, which is given over an extended period of time under the strict observation of a physician. Surgery to remove the fungus growth might also be warranted.
  • Following appropriate treatment protocols as recommended by WHO for COVID-19, including rational use of steroids and monoclonal antibodies only when they can help a patient, is important.
  • It is important to keep blood sugar levels under control and ensure that appropriate calibration of oral drugs or insulin is done from time to time.
  • Further, recognising the symptoms and seeking treatment early if there are two or three symptoms at a time is key. Like most illnesses, if detected early, mucormycosis can be cured.

National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants

(Topic: Energy)

In order to address the issue of air pollution due to farm stubble burning and to reduce carbon footprints of thermal power generation, Ministry of Power has decided to set up a National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants. This would further support the energy transition in the country and our targets to move towards cleaner energy sources.

The National Mission on use of biomass in thermal power plants will have the following objectives;

  1. To increase the level of co-firing from present 5% to higher levels to have a larger share of carbon neutral power generation from the thermal power plants.
  2. To take up R&D activity in boiler design to handle the higher amount of silica, alkalis in the biomass pellets.
  3. To facilitate overcoming the constraints in supply chain of bio mass pellets and agro- residue and its transport upto to the power plants.
  4. To consider regulatory issues in biomass co-firing

The duration of proposed National Mission would be a minimum 5 years. The following Sub-Groups are also proposed to be formed under the Mission:

Sub-Group 1 : to be responsible to carry out research on properties/ characteristics of biomass.

Sub-Group 2 : to carry out technical specification and safety aspects including research in boiler design etc. to handle the pilot project for higher amount of co-firing of biomass with coal in pulverized coal (PC) fired boilers.

Sub-Group 3: for resolving the issues of supply chain during the mission period and sensitization programme.

Sub-Group 4 : to select designated labs and certification bodies for testing of Agro-based biomass pellets and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) pellets

Sub-Group 5: be formed on regulatory framework and economics of biomass co-firing in coal based Thermal power plants.

The proposed National Mission on biomass will also contribute in the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).


A natural dye extract may protect our eyes from harmful laser

(Topic: Science and Technology)

Scientists have found that the natural indigo dye extracted from leaves of a plant of the bean family is capable of protecting human eyes from harmful laser radiation. It could be used to develop optical limiters useful in weakening the potentially harmful radiation and protecting the human eyes or other sensitive optical devices from accidental damage in an environment where such lasers are in use.

The blue dye extracted from Indigoferatinctoria or the famed Indigo plants has been used over the years to colour clothes and clothing materials. Although synthetic indigo dyes are now available, the natural variety also is in common use. It is extracted from the leaves of the plant, following standard protocols in scientific laboratories.


Conversion of CO2 to chemicals and fuels

(Topic: Science and Technology)

A Bangalore based startup has received the National Award 2021 from Technology Development Board (TDB) for developing a commercial solution for conversion of CO2 to chemicals and fuels.

Developed efficient catalysts and methodologies for the conversion of CO2 to methanol and other chemicals: It has led to improvisation of process engineering to enhance the production of chemicals and fuels from anthropogenic CO2 generated from various sources including coal and natural gas power generation sectors, steel industry, cement industry, and chemical industries and integrating multiple components involved in the CCUS (Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration) to develop a complete solution for the environmental issues due to global warming.


Three-dimensional distribution of molecular & atomic hydrogen in galaxies can give clues to star formation and galaxy evolution

(Topic: Space)

A scientist has estimated the three-dimensional distribution of molecular and atomic hydrogen in a nearby galaxy which can help lead to clues to the star formation processes and the evolution of the galaxy.

Galaxies like the one we reside in, the Milky Way, consist of discs containing stars, molecular and atomic hydrogen, and helium. The molecular hydrogen gas collapses on itself in distinct pockets, forming stars, its temperature was found to be low –close to 10 kelvin, or -263 ºC and thickness is about 60 to 240 light-years. The atomic hydrogen extends both above and below the discs.

However, more sensitive observations in the past two decades have surprised astronomers. They have estimated that molecular hydrogen extends farther from the disc in both directions, up to about 3000 light-years. This gaseous component is warmer than the one straddling the disc and has comparatively lesser densities, thus escaping earlier observations. They called it the ‘diffuse’ component of the molecular disc.

The molecular hydrogen gas converts to individual stars under the pull of gravity, thus holding clues to the star formation processes and the evolution of the galaxy. If a significant part of the gas extends beyond the thin disc of a few hundred light-years, it may explain why astronomers also observe stars at a few thousand light-years perpendicular to the galactic disc. It is also essential to understand why the gas has two components and maybe tell-tale signatures of supernovae or exploding stars.

Prelims-oriented News

World No Tobacco Day 2021: 31st May; Theme: Commit to Quit

Cyclone Yaas: A Very Severe Cyclonic Storm across Northwest Bay of Bengal near north Odisha and West Bengal

International Day of Biological Diversity: 22nd May

  • Slogan: “We’re part of the solution #ForNature”
  • A United Nations-sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues held on May 22 annually which falls within the scope of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals.

FDI inflows into the country: India attracted highest ever total FDI inflow of US$ 81.72 billion during 2020-21, 10% more than the last financial year

  • In terms of top investor countries, ‘Singapore’ is at the apex with 29%, followed by the U.S.A (23%) and Mauritius (9%) for the F.Y. 2020-21.
  • ‘Computer Software & Hardware’ has emerged as the top sector during F.Y. 2020-21 with around 44% share of the total FDI Equity inflow followed by Construction (Infrastructure) Activities (13%) and Services Sector (8%) respectively.

Recipient of International Eni Award 2020 (considered to be the Nobel Prize in Energy Research): Bharat Ratna Professor C.N.R. Rao for research into renewable energy sources and energy storage, also called the Energy Frontier award.

  • Hydrogen storage, photochemical and electrochemical production of hydrogen, solar production of hydrogen, and non-metallic catalysis were the highlights of his work.
  • The Energy Frontiers award has been conferred for his work on metal oxides, carbon nanotubes, and other materials and two-dimensional systems, including graphene, boron-nitrogen-carbon hybrid materials, and molybdenum sulfide (Molybdenite – MoS2) for energy applications and green hydrogen production. The latter can, in fact, be achieved through various processes, including the photodissociation of water, thermal dissociation, and electrolysis activated by electricity produced from solar or wind energy. Professor Rao has worked in all three areas and developed some highly innovative materials.
  • The same or related materials have also been shown to have beneficial properties for the construction of hydrogen storage systems and supercapacitors with high specific power and an increased number of charge-discharge cycles. The latter are energy storage devices, similar to batteries, which will become an increasingly important part of the renewable energy sector.

GI certified Shahi Litchi: Bihar

  • Shahi litchi was the fourth agricultural products to get GI certification from Bihar in 2018, afterJardalu mango, Katarni rice and Magahi paan.  
  • GI registration for Shahi Litchi is held with the Muzaffarpur-based Litchi Growers Association of Bihar.
  • Muzzafarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur, Champaran, Begusarai districts and adjoining areas of Bihar have favorable climate for growing Shahi Litchi.
  • India is the second largest producer of litchi (Litchi chin) in the world, after China. 
  • The translucent, flavoured aril or edible flesh of the litchi is popular as a table fruit in India, while in China and Japan it is preferred in dried or canned form. Bihar tops in terms of production of litchi.

National AI Portal (INDIAai)

  • A joint initiative by Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and NASSCOM
  • Serves as a central hub for AI related news, learning, articles, events and activities etc., in India and beyond

Launch of YUVA – Prime Minister’s Scheme For Mentoring Young Authors

  • By The Ministry of Education, Department of Higher Education
  • An Author Mentorship programme to train young and budding authors (below 30 years of age) in order to promote reading, writing and book culture in the country, and project India and Indian writings globally.
  • YUVA is a part of India@75 Project (Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav) to bring to the fore the perspectives of the young generation of writers on themes like Unsung Heroes, Freedom Fighters, Unknown and Forgotten Places and their role in National Movement, and other related themes in an innovative and creative manner. This scheme will thus help to develop a stream of writers who can write on a spectrum of subjects to promote Indian heritage, culture and knowledge system.

Low-chilling apple variety developed by Himachal farmer: A farmer from Himachal Pradesh has developed an innovative self-pollinating apple variety that does not require long chilling hours for flowering and fruit setting. This has spread to plain, tropical, and subtropical areas in various parts of India, where the temperature is as high as40 -45 ºC during summer.

  • Commercial cultivation of this apple variety has been initiated in Manipur, Jammu, low lying areas of Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka Chhattisgarh, and Telangana, and fruit setting has been expanded to 23 states & UTs so far.
  • It is bigger in size as compared to other varieties, with very soft, sweet, and juicy pulp and striped red over yellow skin colour during maturity.

Buddha Purnima

About: The Buddha Jayanti falls on the Vaisakha Purnima, that is, on the full moon day of the month of Vaisakha according to the Indian lunar calendar. This is the most important occasion for Buddhists celebrating the Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana on the same day.

In the first meeting of “World Fellowship of Buddhist” held at Colombo, Sri Lanka in May 1950, it was decided to commemorate Vaisakha Purnima as the Buddha’s thrice blessed day. Buddha Purnima is also celebrated as Waisak Day or Vesak Day.

  • According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures (from Pali, meaning “three baskets“), Gautama was born c. 563/480 BCE in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, in the present day Tilaurakot, Nepal.
  • At the age of thirty five, he attained enlightenment (nirvana) underneath a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya (modern day India).
  • He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, India.
  • At the age of eighty, he died at Kushinagar, India.

A brief look

  • India is the origin of many world religions including the Buddhism. Buddha’s entire events of like took place in India.
  • The advent of the Buddha Sakyamuni in 6th century BCE brought a radical reformation in the culture of philosophy and spirituality in the India.
  • His teaching of Karuna, compassion, and Maitri, loving kindness, give an equal perspective towards all sentient beings including human beings within which no classes are allowed.
  • With the philosophy of dependent origination and practice of non-violence rooted in love and compassion, Buddhism made immense contribution to the culture of peace.
  • To promote Buddhism, GoI organized the 2500th anniversary of Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana as international mega event in 1956.
  • Nava Nalanda Mahavihara was established in 1951 in Nalanda, Bihar to revive the ancient seat of learning in Nalanda.
  • In 1959, Central Institute of Buddhist Studies was established in Leh, Laddhak.
  • In 1968, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies was established for the promotion of Buddhist and Tibetan studies.
  • Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies, Dahung, Arunachal Pradesh was established in 2003.
  • In 2010 Nalanda University was established at Rajgir to recreate the Ancient centre of Wisdom. India has enshrined the dharma wheel of Buddhism on the national flag. Celebrations around the world Home to 255 million Buddhists — the world’s largest Buddhist population — China sees one of the most widespread celebrations. Most of the action revolves around Buddhist temples, where people light incense and leave offerings.
  • In South Korea, the holiday comes to life in a Lotus Lantern festival, best viewed at Seoul’s Jogyesa Temple.
  • In Sri Lanka, people decorate their homes with paper lanterns. Colombo’s Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple hosts a colorful Vesak Day festival.
  • In Ipoh, Malaysia, Buddhist devotees practice the ritual of “Sunning Buddha.” Also at Enlightened Heart Tibetan Buddhist temple, monks place a sacred Tibetan Buddhist painting — called a “Thangka” — in the sun to absorb its powers.
  • In Nepal, thousands of Buddhists flock to Lumbini, his birthplace, where they donate supplies to disadvantaged communities and pay tribute to monasteries.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 

Period: 28 May 1883 – 26 February 1966

Cause of Death: Fasting (Sallekhana Prayopavesa)

He was commonly known as Veer Savarkar (“brave” in his native Marathi language)

  • An Indian independence activist, politician, lawyer, writer, and the formulator of the Hindutva philosophy
  • Championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious. Savarkar was a radical and his Hindutva too was a radical break in the Hindu thought: anti-caste, reformist, modernist and futuristic. It was a modern Hindu response to the modern world
  • Organised a youth group named ‘Mitra Mela’
  • In London, Veer Savarkar inspired his fellow Indian students and formed an organisation ‘Free India Society’ to fight against Britishers for freedom.
  • Was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
  • Provided legal defence to Madan Lal Dhingra, who was accused in a murder case of a British Indian army officer named Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie.
  • Veer Savarkar also founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution. In 1937, he also became the president of ‘Hindu Mahasabha’.
  • A fierce critic of the Indian National Congress (INC) and Mahatma Gandhi; opposed the ‘Quit India Movement’ and later objected to INC’s acceptance of Indian partition. He proposed the co-existence of two nations in one country.

Hindutva

The main challenge thrown by the British rule and colonial modernity under the pale of capitalism was for Hindus to justify their existence as a society. Who were they? Could Hindus survive in a modern world dominated by the expansionist organised religions, nations and nation-state?

Savarkar responded to these challenges. The coming together of various pagan traditions as Hinduism to meet the challenge of the Abrahamic monotheism is a centuries-old process. Savarkar consolidated it under a new ideological construct. He wielded it into a coherent political construct, Hindutva that aimed to answer the challenges of the modern world, especially the charge of the colonialists that India is not a nation and hence unworthy of self-rule.

For India to be able to resist imperialism, a nation had to be born. For Savarkar, that nation was a Hindu Rashtra. Only a Hindu nation transcending caste, regional and linguistic barriers was capable of resisting imperialism. No longer would invading armies roam around the countryside; no longer would India be a playground for colonial powers; no longer would its people and cities be pulverised by warlords for they would have to face a powerful Indian state created on the foundation of a Hindu nation. And the foundation of this Hindu nation was Hindutva.

Savarkar was a radical and his Hindutva, too, was a radical break in Hindu thought: anti-caste, reformist, modernist and futuristic. It was a modern Hindu response to the modern world.

50 years of imprisonment – Kaala Paani

  • Savarkar wrote a book titled “The History of the War of Indian Independence”- wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. 
  • While the book was banned by Britishers, Madama Bhikaji Cama published the book in Netherlands, Germany and France, which eventually reached many Indian revolutionaries.
  • Savarkar was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto reform. He also tried to escape by diving in the water but was arrested. He was sentenced to two life sentences i.e. 50 years in the cellular jail of Andamans, also known as Kala Pani, in 1911.

Death – 1964: Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started hunger-strike on February 1, 1966 and passed away on February 26, 1966. He believed that his purpose of life is solved as India has gained Independence.

In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.

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