THE FOLLOWING CONTENT CONTAINS ALL RELEVANT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RELATED CURRENT AFFAIRS FROM 2018 WHICH ARE REQUIRED FOR UPSC CS(P) EXAM 2018.
- Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) has announced a program for training life science graduates to work in food and allied industries.
- The Mysore based institute is a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
- It came into existence during 1950.
- The Research focus of CSIR-CFTRI has been revolved around broadly into the following areas:
- Engineering Sciences
- Technology Development
- Translational Research
- Food Protection and Safety
Space Missions to study Asteroids
- In 2001, the NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) Shoemaker spacecraft by NASA landed on Eros, an asteroid near Earth.
- In 2011, the Dawn spacecraft entered Vesta’s orbit which successfully completed a 14-month survey of the large asteroid.
- NASA researchers announced plans for a spacecraft called HAMMER that would collide and knock incoming asteroids in another direction or simply blow them up into tiny pieces.
- In 2016, NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to study a near-Earth asteroid, Bennu.
- In 2005, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa landed on the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa and in 2010, it successfully returned to Earth.
- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Hayabusa 2 probe in December 2014, and plans to return samples from Ryugu in December 2020.
- Colistin-resistance bacteria in food
- An investigation was led by an expert to look for evidence for strains of bacteria that are resistant to the most powerful antibiotics in everyday food.
- The investigation discovered a mutation called mgrB that makes the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae resistant to colistin and helps them make their way into people.
- Colistin is a last-resort antibiotic, a life-saver for humans.
- Even if the food is cooked, thereby killing the bacteria, storage and handling of the food products are processes by which it is passed on to people.
- It renders them helpless if they should ever need the colistin antibiotic to save their lives.
- It also revealed colistin-resistance in humans is not so much because of indiscriminate use of the antibiotic in hospitals, as it is because of its use in veterinary feed.
- China has banned the use of colistin in veterinary use and similarly the use of antibiotic growth promoters in animals is banned in the European Union since 2006.
It is a multi-nation counter-terror exercise that will take place under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The 2018 edition will be held in the Ural mountains of Russia.
Significance of this edition: In a first, India and Pakistan will be part of this exercise. It will be for the first time since Independence that India and Pakistan will both be part of a military exercise, though the armies of the two nations have worked together in UN peace keeping missions.
- The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
- India and Pakistan were admitted as observers of the grouping in 2005. Both the countries were admitted as full members of the bloc last year.
- NASA is set to launch Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) on May 5, the first-ever mission to study the heart of Mars.
It will be the first mission to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, which are seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth.
It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet’s deep interior.
- The rocket that will loft InSight beyond Earth will also launch a separate NASA technology experiment: two mini-spacecraft called Mars Cube One, or MarCO. These briefcase-sized CubeSats will fly on their own path to Mars behind InSight.
- The European Union has successfully managed to launch its new, highly-advanced Sentinel Earth observation satellite into space. The earth observing satellite is called Sentinel-3B and it flew to space atop a Russian Rockot launcher.
- The main aim of the Sentinel-3B satellite is to monitor the Earth’s ocean. Along with that it will map the vegetation growth on the earth surface and will measure the thinning ice sheets.
- The Sentinel-3B was the seventh rocket that was launched by the European Union for its ambitious Copernicus mission.
About Copernicus programme:
- Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
- Sentinel: ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images.
- In a boost to indigenisation and in realisation of India’s growing technological prowess, the DAC has approved procurement of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) designed and developed NAG Missile System (NAMIS) at the cost of Rs 524 crore.
About NAG missile and the system:
- The NAG missile is a third generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night.
- The system includes a third generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile, the NAG, along with the Missile Carrier Vehicle (NAMICA).
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC):
What is it? To counter corruption and speed up decision- making in military procurement, the government of India in 2001 decided to set up an integrated DAC. It is headed by the Defence Minister.
Objective: The objective of the DAC is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces, in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.
Functions: The DAC is responsible to give policy guidelines to acquisitions, based on long-term procurement plans. It also clears all acquisitions, which includes both imported and those produced indigenously or under a foreign license.
- NASA has cancelled Resource Prospector Mission, a mission to assay the resources that may be available to humans on the moon.
About the Resource Prospector Mission:
- The Resource Prospector mission would have sent a rover to the moon’s polar regions to learn about water and other deposits on and just beneath the lunar surface.
- World Immunization Week is celebrated from 24th- 30th of April by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to increase awareness about vaccination.
Aim: It aims to highlight the collective action needed to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine- preventable diseases.
Theme: “Protected together, #VaccinesWork”
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) – endorsed by 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly in May 2012 – aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunization. Despite improvements in individual countries and a strong global rate of new vaccine introduction, all of the GVAP targets for disease elimination—including measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus—are behind schedule.
- Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) granted First Licence to M/s Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd for Liquid Chlorine on All India basis. This is the First Licence granted on All India basis. License for Liquid Chlorine will facilitate industry to get a quality product with Standard Mark under BIS Certification Marks scheme.
About Liquid Chlorine:
The product is in liquid form and stored in metal containers. It is usually used as a gas obtained by evaporating the liquid from the metal container. It is used mainly in paper, pulp, textile bleaching, water sterilization and manufacture of chemicals.
- The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India is a statutory organization under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. The organisation was formerly the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), set up under a Resolution.
- It works under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India.
- The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
- As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
- ESA’s Gaia mission has produced the richest star catalogue to date, including high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and revealing previously unseen details of our home Galaxy.
- Preliminary analysis of this phenomenal data reveals fine details about the make-up of the Milky Way’s stellar population and about how stars move, essential information for investigating the formation and evolution of our Galaxy. Launched on December 19, 2013, the Gaia satellite both rotates and orbits around the Earth, while surveying the sky with its two telescopes.
- The Union Government has entered into agreement with World Bank for flexible financing arrangement to accelerate research towards early development for biopharmaceuticals under National Biopharma Mission.
The agreement was signed between the project implementing agency – BIRAC a PSU of DBT, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (on behalf of World Bank).
About National Biopharma Mission:
- The National Biopharma Mission is being implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) – a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
- It aims to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products such as vaccines, biologics and medical devices for combating public health concerns.
Significance of the programme:
- The programme will specifically focus on the development of new vaccines, bio-therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices to better address the rising burden of diseases in the country.
- It will also bring isolated centres of excellence together, enhance regional capabilities and strengthen the current bio-clusters network in terms of capacities as well as quantity and quality of output.
- This would strengthen translational capability of academic researchers; empower bio-entrepreneurs and SMEs by decreasing the cost and risk during early stages of product development and also elevate the innovation quotient of the industry.
Context: As part of ongoing Indo-Malaysian defence cooperation, a joint training exercise HARIMAU SHAKTI is being conducted in Malaysia.
It is an armour panel developed by BARC which gives personal protection against bullets of different threat levels. Bhabha Kavach made up of BARC Nano-Sheets are lighter in weight with reduced trauma level with respect to the existing jackets.
- The jacket is made using extremely hard boron carbide ceramics that is hot-pressed with carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer.
- In a significant defence policy reform, the government has revamped the existing defence planning system by establishing a Defence Planning Committee (DPC)under the chairmanship of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
This new institutional mechanism, set up as a permanent body, is intended to “facilitate a comprehensive and integrated planning for defence matters” – a vital ingredient in defence preparedness.
The committee, which will be a permanent body, will prepare a draft national security strategy besides undertaking a strategic defence review and formulating an international defence engagement strategy.
The committee will comprise:
- National Security Advisor (NSA).
- Foreign secretary.
- Chairman of chiefs of staff committee.
- The Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
- Secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
The chairman of the DPC can co-opt experts into it depending on requirement.
The new measure, arguably the boldest defence reform in decades, is likely to have a far reaching consequence on the way defence planning is undertaken and on defence preparedness.
Aim of the Defence Planning Committee:
The aim is to leverage this cross-governmental body—comprising the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, three service chiefs, the defence, expenditure and foreign secretaries—to enhance India’s ability to do some long-term strategizing.
The DPC is being tasked with drafting reports on “national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, road map to build a defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans”.
The charter of duties of the DPC :
- To analyse and evaluate all relevant inputs relating to defence planning, which includes- the national defence and security priorities, foreign policy imperatives, relevant strategic and security-related doctrines, defence acquisition and infrastructure development plans, including the 15-year Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), defence technology and development of the Indian defence industry and global technological advancement.
- To prepare at least five different sets of draftsincluding:
- National security strategy, strategic defence review and doctrines;
- International defence engagement strategy;
- Roadmap to build defence manufacturing eco-system;
- Strategy to boost defence exports; and
- Prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces over different time-frames in consonance with the overall priorities, strategies and likely resource flows.
- With viral hepatisis becoming as serious health problem as the “big three” communicable diseases — HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis — in the country, the Union Health Ministry is ready to roll out a Rs 500 crore-three-year comprehensive integrated national action plan to check morbidity and mortality due to the disease that inflicts the liver.
- The action plan has been developed with the key objective to provide an actionable framework of evidence based, priority interventions to support the national response for prevention, control and management of viral hepatitis in the country.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already recognised viral hepatitis as a serious public health problem in India which is home to over 52 million people infected with chronic hepatitis. This is placing a huge disease, social and economic burden on the affected families as well as the health system, as per the UN agency.
Latest assessment by WHO shows that in 2016, of the 400 million people infected by viral hepatitis globally, about 13% were Indians. A bigger concern is that most people infected with the virus are unaware and experts points out that with challenges such as awareness, accessibility, compliance and affordability, India can only eradicate hepatitis by 2080 (as against global goal of 2030) if they start acting now.
What is viral hepatitis?
Inflammation of liver is usually referred as hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is a widespread infectious disease normally caused by the hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E. The condition can progress to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. It can be caused by any of the known five hepatotropic viruses, namely — hepatitis A, B, C, D and E which are highly divergent in their structure, epidemiology, mode of transmission, incubation period, signs/symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment options.
- TESS, NASA’s planet-hunting satellite was recently launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
About TESS mission:
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a NASA mission that will look for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky.
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) is planning to award its first contract for the lunar “Gateway” program in 2019.
About the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway:
- The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is Nasa’s planned “staging” area intended for studies of the moon and the deep-space environment. Eventually, it will function as a way station for astronauts travelling to and from Mars.
- The Gateway would also further Nasa’s goal of another human landing on the moon and will help determine whether water near the surface could be used to manufacture propellant for deep-space missions.
- The moon’s gravity could also help a spacecraft reduce the blistering speeds used for six-month voyages back-and-forth to Mars, thus facilitating re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.
- Dozens of major technology companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, and SAP have signed onto a pledge, known as Cybersecurity Tech Accord, to protect their users around the globe against cybersecurity threats and to abstain from helping any government launch a cyber attack. This is hailed as a “watershed agreement” among companies representing every layer of internet communication.
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to map the contours of the area around the Bagh-e-Naya Qila excavated garden inside the Golconda Fort. It has roped in the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) to carry out the mapping.
About Bagh-e-Naya Qila:
- The Naya Qila garden inside Golconda Fort was built by successive rulers of the Deccan and is one of the few symmetrical gardens extant.
- There are strange figures and animals worked out of stone and stucco on the walls of the outer fort facing the Naya Qila.
- In 2014, when the ASI excavated the area after diverting the water flow, it discovered water channels, settlement tanks, walkways, fountains, gravity pumps, and a host of other garden relics.
What is Ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology?
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface. This nondestructive method uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band (UHF/VHF frequencies) of the radio spectrum, and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures.
How it works?
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) uses a high frequency radio signal that is transmitted into the ground and reflected signals are returned to the receiver and stored on digital media. The computer measures the time taken for a pulse to travel to and from the target which indicates its depth and location. The reflected signals are interpreted by the system and displayed on the unit’s LCD panel.
GPR can have applications in a variety of media, including rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements and structures. In the right conditions, practitioners can use GPR to detect subsurface objects, changes in material properties, and voids and cracks.
- The ATL Community Day was held across India, over the course of April 13 – 16. The initiative is an effort to spread awareness as well as engage the local communities in the neighbourhood of an Atal Tinkering Lab, to come and experience the exciting new world of science and future technologies.
AIM has selected more than 2400 schools in 2017 for establishing Atal Tinkering Labs.
What are ATLs?
With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
Objective: The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society can set up ATL.
Significance of ATLs:
- Atal Tinkering Labs have evolved as epicenters for imparting these ‘skills of the future’ through practical applications based onself-learning.
- Bridging a crucial social divide, Atal Tinkering Labs provide equal opportunity to all children across the spectrum by working at the grassroot level, introducing children to the world of innovation and tinkering.
As the world grapples with evolving technologies, a new set of skills have gained popular acceptance and have come to be in high demand. For India to contribute significantly during this age of raid technological advancement, there is an urgent need to empower our youth with these ‘skills of the future’.
Equipped with modern technologies to help navigate and impart crucial skills in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the ATLs are at the vanguard of the promoting scientific temper and an entrepreneurial spirit in children today.
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) endeavours to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Its objective is to serve as a platform for promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.
The Atal Innovation Mission shall have two core functions:
- Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs.
- Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.
- India’s downstream oil and gas regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is set to take up the role of the market regulator for the natural gas sector, when the planned natural gas trading hub comes into being, much on the lines of the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Need for a natural gas trading platform:
The plan to establishing a natural gas trading platform is part of a larger effort by the government to build a vibrant and transparent gas market in India. The idea is to create an ecosystem where the competing buyers would be able to buy gas from competing sellers and transport the same from gas source to the place of their requirement by getting a non-discriminatory access to the pipeline capacity. This end-to-end solution would reduce customer risk and enhance customer confidence on gas as an alternate fuel and feed.
- The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) was constituted under The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006.
- The Act provide for the establishment of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to protect the interests of consumers and entities engaged in specified activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas and to promote competitive markets and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- The board has also been mandated to regulate the refining, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas excluding production of crude oil and natural gas so as and to ensure uninterrupted and adequate supply of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas in all parts of the country.
Facts for Prelims:
The world’s biggest natural gas hub is the Henry Hub in the US state of Louisiana. Gas delivered at this point is the basis of most US natural gas futures.
- India is planning to coordinate with China and other Asian countries to voice against the “Asian Premium” being charged by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Soon, the countries will chalk out the strategy that would result in getting better price from OPEC countries.
What is Asian premium?
Asian Premium is the extra charge being collected by OPEC countries from Asian countries when selling oil. The premium is determined in large part by the official selling prices (OSPs) set by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait, which supply about 15 percent of the world’s crude among them. They set differential prices against benchmarks on a monthly basis, adjusting them to account for regional variations.
- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental Organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in September 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
- Currently, the Organization has a total of 14 Member Countries.
- OPEC had its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in the first five years of its existence. This was moved to Vienna, Austria, on September 1, 1965.
- India Mobile Congress will be held in October 2018, at Aerocity, New Delhi.
Theme: “NEW DIGITAL HORIZONS: Connect. Create. Innovate.”
About IMC: The India Mobile Congress 2018, hosted by the Department of telecommunications and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), is an excellent platform for policy makers, industry and regulators to engage in meaningful deliberations to drive the future direction of this important sector.
- In order to address rising incidence of Vitamin ‘D’ Deficiencies (VDD), particularly amongst the young people, FSSAI has launched a unique initiative, ‘Project Dhoop’ in association with NCERT, NDMC and North MCD Schools.
About Project Dhoop:
Project Dhoop urges schools to shift their morning assembly to noon time, mainly between 11am and 1pm to ensure maximum absorption of Vitamin D in students through natural sunlight.
Significance of micronutrients for the body:
Micronutrients including vitamins are needed by people in only very small amounts, but these are the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development. As tiny as the amounts are, the consequences of their absence are severe. Vitamin A, D, B12, Iron, Folic Acid and Iodine, are the most important; their lack represents a major threat to the health and development of populations the world over, particularly children and pregnant women in countries like India.
Most parts of India receive abundant sunshine all the year through. Yet shockingly, studies have found that more than 90% of boys and girls across various Indian cities are deficient in Vitamin D. In Delhi alone, 90-97% of school children (aged 6-17 years) have Vitamin ‘D’ Deficiencies (VDD) and around 10-11% of these children exhibit signs of VDD.
How to prevent Vitamin D deficiency in school children?
Vitamin D deficiency occurs due to overuse of sunscreen, wearing clothes that cover most of the skin, working all day in an air-conditioned atmosphere, and other factors. Also, the school uniforms needs to be designed in a way that at least face and arms are exposed to sunlight, which would be equivalent to 18 per cent of body surface, and the exposure has to be at least for 30-40 minutes.
Additionally, opting for fortified foods (with +F symbol) is a simple and inexpensive way to address micronutrient deficiencies without any radical change in behaviour or eating patterns.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.
- It was created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
- Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the Administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI.
- The Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are appointed by Government of India.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have issued a new 10-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services, which provide the immediate health system platform to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and breastfeed exclusively for six months.
- The guidelines describe how hospitals should have a written breastfeeding policy in place, required staff competencies, and antenatal and post-birth care, including breastfeeding support for mothers.
- It also recommends limited use of breast milk substitutes, rooming-in, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers, and support when mothers and babies are discharged from hospital.
Significance of breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is an important efficient and cost-effective intervention promoting child survival and health. Breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20% of the newborn deaths. Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pnuemonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than children who are exclusively breastfed, which are two leading causes of death in children under-five years of age. In addition, children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome etc. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits, breastfeeding also has tremendous impact on improved IQ.
To intensify the efforts further for promotion of breastfeeding, the Health Ministry has initiated a nationwide programme called “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of services towards supporting breastfeeding, along with ongoing efforts of routine health systems.
- The key components of the MAA programme are awareness generation, promotion of breastfeeding & inter personal counselling at community level, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points and monitoring and Award/ recognition of health facility.
- Under this programme, ASHA has been incentivized for reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers and provide information on benefits and techniques of successful breastfeeding during interpersonal communication. ANMs at all sub-centres and health personnel at all delivery points are being trained for providing skilled support to mothers referred with issues related to breastfeeding.
- Under NHM, funding support has been recommended for all States and UTs for successful implementation of the MAA programme.
- To equip the children with the information regarding the possible modes of protection/complaints, the National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has published the information regarding Childline (1098) 24×7 Helpline for children and POCSO e-box on the back side of the front cover of all course books from Class 6 to Class 12.
About POCSO e- Box:
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), e-Box, is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012. E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint.
Sexual offences against children are rampant but only a small percentage gets reported. According to a study, about 53% of children surveyed, reported having faced one or the other form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. In most cases, the offender is a family member/near relative or an acquaintance. The child victim in such cases generally does not report these offences. Sexual abuse scars the psyche of the affected child for entire life. A child who is sexually abused has to face very serious consequences such as cognitive impairment, violent and risk behaviour including depression and anxiety. Feeling shame and guilt with poor interpersonal relationship & self esteem are other consequences of sexually abused children.
About POCSO Act:
Being concerned about offences against children, the Government enacted POCSO Act, 2012 to protect them from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
- This is achieved by incorporating child friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
- Any human being up to the age of 18 years is recognised as a child under the POCSO Act.
- In line with the Government initiative of ease of doing business, the Union Cabinet has given its approval for delegating the powers to Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Finance Minister to award the Blocks/Contract Areas to successful bidders under Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) after International Competitive Bidding (ICB) based on the recommendations of Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS).
Significance of this move:
Under HELP, Blocks are to be awarded twice in a year. Therefore, this delegation of powers will expedite the decision making process on awarding blocks and give a boost to the initiative of ease of doing business.
About Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP):
- Government of India launched a new policy regime for Exploration & Production (E&P) sector namely Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) in 2016 which is paradigm shift from earlier policy regime.
- The main features of new Policy regimeare Revenue Sharing Contract, single Licence for exploration and production of conventional as well as unconventional Hydrocarbon resources, marketing & pricing freedom, etc.
- Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)under HELP, is main innovative feature wherein investor can carve out Blocks of their own interest and submit an Expression of Interest (Eol) throughout the year. Based on the areas for which expression of interest has been expressed bidding will be conducted every 6 months.
What was the need for the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)?
India is the 3rd largest consumer of crude oil and petroleum products with oil and gas contributing 34.4% to primary energy consumption. In 2015-2016, India’s crude oil import dependence rose to 81% from 78.5%. In last five years, India has seen overall decline in exploration and production of conventional resources. New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) created in 1997 ended the state dominance and created a competitive environment leading to liberalization of oil and gas exploration and production industry. However, it failed to keep the momentum of production growth and attracting the foreign investment.
Bureaucratic hurdles like multiple approvals and sanctions, cost overruns, and disputes led to some oil majors leaving their awarded blocks and exit from the space.
- In an effort to establish India as a key global player in the standardisation, research and development and manufacturing of 5G equipment, a Massive MIMO radio laboratory has been set up at IIT Delhi. This will be the first such lab in India.
What is MIMO Technology?
Multiple-input multiple-output, or MIMO, is a radio communications technology or RF technology that is being mentioned and used in many new technologies these days.
Wi-Fi, LTE; Long Term Evolution, and many other radio, wireless and RF technologies are using the new MIMO wireless technology to provide increased link capacity and spectral efficiency combined with improved link reliability using what were previously seen as interference paths.
How it works?
MIMO technology uses a natural radio-wave phenomenon called multipath. With multipath, transmitted information bounces off walls, ceilings, and other objects, reaching the receiving antenna multiple times at different angles and slightly different times. In the past, multipath caused interference and slowed down wireless signals. With multipath, MIMO technology uses multiple, smart transmitters and receivers with an added spatial dimension, increasing performance and range.
Significance of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology:
In Massive MIMO technology, several antennas are deployed at the base station as compared to only a few antennas in 3G/4G. This large antenna array at the base station allows the network to communicate reliably with a very large number of mobile terminals simultaneously at the same time and on the same frequency channel.
Benefits: It will help curb the emittance of radiation harmful to our health and also will allow less radio interference for better communication.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched the IRNSS-1I satellite through its PSLV-C41. It was the 20th flight of PSLV-XL version. This satellite will transmit signals for the accurate determination of position, navigation and time.
- Like all other IRNSS satellites, IRNSS-1I will also carry two payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload – the former to transmit signals for determining position, velocity and time and the latter for determining the frequency range of the satellite.
Navigation satellite IRNSS-1I has been launched to replace India’s first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A, whose three Rubidium atomic clocks had stopped working two years ago. The malfunctioning of the Europe-imported atomic clocks in IRNSS-1A made it difficult to measure precise locational data from the satellite. When the time signal is missing, getting true positional accuracy becomes a problem. Therefore, Isro felt a need to replace faulty satellite IRNSS-1A.
What is IRNSS?
IRNSS stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. It is a set of satellites which together can provide India a regional positioning system similar to the GPS. According to the ISRO website, the system is designed to give position accuracy better than 20 metres to users in its primary coverage area. It can also service regions extending up to 1500 km around India’s boundary. NavIC is the operational name for the IRNSS.
How many IRNSS satellites are up there now?
There are currently seven IRNSS satellites (1A to 1G) in orbit. A, B, F, G are placed in a geosynchronous orbit, which means they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth and they orbit along with the Earth. The remaining three, C, D, E, are located in geostationary orbit-they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth along the equator and orbit along with the Earth.
The last IRNSS, 1H, which was launched on August 31, 2017 was unsuccessful as the satellite did not come out of its heat shield.
What are the applications of IRNSS?
These satellites help not just in land navigation but also in marine and aerial navigation. The data from these satellites can be used to give vehicle drivers visual and voice navigation assistance. They also help in disaster management and in proper time-keeping.
Which Other Countries / Space Agencies Have Similar Navigational Systems?
India’s (ISRO’s) NavIC joined the elite league of four countries / space agencies which have similar navigation capabilities. These include GPS (United States), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), BeiDou (China). Japan is also planning a similar project with three of its own satellites. Japan’s system will be called the QZSS.
- Exercise Gaganshakti-2018:
What is it? An all encompassing coordinated and composite exercise named Gaganshakti is being conducted by the IAF.
The aim of this exercise is real time coordination, deployment and employment of Air Power in a short & intense battle scenario. This exercise will hone the war fighting skills of the air warriors in a real time scenario thus affirming the IAF’s role as the cutting edge of our nation’s military capability.
- Defence, aerospace SME fund:
Context: Department of Defence Production has announced the creation of a dedicated defence and aerospace small and medium enterprises (SME) fund.
- The fund will be registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), where a minority stake could be taken by investors.
- This fund would help channelise investments into the two defence corridors announced by the Government in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
- The Union Health Ministry has banned over-the-counter sale of around 14 creams containing steroids and antibiotics under the Schedule H categoryby making amendments to certain Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
The decision was made following consultation with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board which recommended a ban on the sale of such creams without prescription and had also submitted their recommendations to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation.
What necessitated this move?
The move comes in the wake of dermatologists’ complaints that pharmaceutical companies were selling steroid-based creams and ointments without medical guidance.
- The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
- Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
- Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.
- Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) is the highest decision-making body under the Union health ministry on technical matters.
- Director General of Health Services (DGHS) is the ex-officio chairman of this statutory body which is constituted by the ministry under section 5 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
What are Schedule H drugs?
Schedule H is a class of prescription drugs listed under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 which governs manufacture and sale of all drugs in India. These drugs cannot be purchased over counter without the prescription of a doctor.
- An Indian-origin scientist in Australia has launched the world’s first microfactory that can transform the components from electronic waste items such as smartphones and laptops into valuable materials for re-use.
What is a microfactory? A microfactory is one or a series of small machines and devices that uses patented technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products into new and usable resources. The e-waste microfactory that reforms discarded computers, mobile phones and printers has a number of small modules for this process and fits into a small site.
- Parker Solar Probe, which is humanity’s first mission to the Sun, has begun final preparations for its launch in July. After launch, it will orbit directly through the solar atmosphere – the corona – closer to the surface than any human-made object has ever gone.
About the Parker solar probe:
What is it? NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
- India will build a strategic railway link between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu in Nepal to facilitate people-to-people contact and bulk movement of goods.
Significance: The proposal to link Raxaul to Kathamandu gains significance as it comes nearly two years after China, in March 2016, agreed to construct a strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with an apparent aim of reducing Kathmandu’s dependence on India. It also comes in the backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020.
- The sugar tax has come into force in the UK placing a levy on soft drink manufacturers. The money from the tax will go to the Department for Education.
What necessitated this move? The move aims to help tackle childhood obesity. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of dietary sugar for children and teenagers.
Where else has it been tried? A similar scheme has been tried in a handful of Scandinavian countries as well as France and Hungary. Mexico and Norway have shown positive outcomes.
Context: The government has imposed anti-dumping duty on import of Phosphorus pentoxide from China to protect the domestic manufacturers from cheap shipments.
- Phosphorus Pentoxide is used as a powerful desiccant and dehydrating agent and is a useful building block and reagent in the chemical industry.Phosphorus pentoxide is not flammable.It reacts vigorously with water and water-containing substances like wood or cotton, liberates much heat and may even cause fire. It is corrosive to metal.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has made total payment of Rs. 271.66 crores to beneficiaries under PradhanMantriMatruVandanaYojana (PMMVY). The payment has been made to 11,47,386 beneficiaries across the country.
PradhanMantriMatritvaVandanaYojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit rechristened from erstwhile Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyogYojana (IGMSY). The IGMSY was launched in 2010.
The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first two live births.
Exceptions: The maternity benefits under PradhanMantriMatruVandanaYojana (PMMVY) are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.
Funding: The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
- A Parliamentary Consultative Committee recently reviewed the activities of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and laid emphasis on easy redressal mechanism of complaints, mandatory certification, enhancing consumer confidence through publicity and various other interactive measures. It also stressed on the effective implementation of the provisions of new BIS Act 2016.
BIS Act 2016:
Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 which was notified on 22nd March, 2016, came into force with effect from 12th October, 2017. Parliament had in March 2016 passed the law to replace the BIS Act of 1986.
Highlights of the act:
National standards body: The Act establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.
Compulsory certification: The Act has enabling provisions for the Government to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security.
Hallmarking: Enabling provisions have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory.
Simplified conformity: The new Act also allows multiple type of simplified conformity assessment schemes including self-declaration of conformity against a standard which will give simplified options to manufacturers to adhere to the standards and get certificate of conformity.
Authority for verification: The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate of conformity.
Repair or recall: There is also a provision for repair or recall, including product liability of the products bearing Standard Mark but not conforming to the relevant Indian Standard.
- The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
- The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
- As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.It also works as WTO-TBT enquiry point for India.
- The world’s chemical watchdog is meeting after a British laboratory said it had not proved that Russia manufactured a deadly nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy.
The talks at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have been requested by Moscow which said it wanted to “address the situation around the allegations in regards to the incident in Salisbury.”
- The OPCW is an independent, autonomous international organisation with a working relationship with the United Nations.
- The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.
- As of today OPCW has 192 Member States, who are working together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.
- The organisation was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.
The OPCW Member States share the collective goal of preventing chemistry from ever again being used for warfare, thereby strengthening international security. To this end, the Convention contains four key provisions:
- Destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW.
- Monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging.
- Providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats.
- Fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.
The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits:
- Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.
- The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.
- Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.
- Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.
The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”
- A supersonic parachute that will help NASA missions to land on Mars, was successfully launched into the sky during a key test designed to mimic the conditions of entering the red planet. The Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) was launched aboard a sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the US.
An ambitious NASA Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020 will rely on a special parachute to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere at over 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second). The Mars 2020 mission will seek signs of ancient Martian life by investigating evidence in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth.
- Scientists were initially planning to push the Tiangong-1 satellite to Point Nemo. However, they could not do so as they lost control of it. China’s defunct Tiangong-1 space lab mostly broke up on re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere above the South Pacific.
About Point Nemo:
Point Nemo, or “ocean point of inaccessibility,” is a region in the South Pacific that is the loneliest place on the planet. It is used as a graveyard for controlled re-entries and a place where space junk can be dropped safely.
Where is it located?
Point Nemo, named after the submarine captain in Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, is about 2,688 kilometers from the nearest land – Pitcairn Islands – which lies to the north of this point. Also, Motu Nui — one of the Easter Islands — lies to the northeast and Maher Island, part of Antarctica, to the south.
Why this place?
The region is safe to land all kinds of waste because there is also not much life in the water here. Coincidentally, it is also biologically not very diverse. So it gets used as a dumping ground — ‘space graveyard’ would be a more polite term — mainly for cargo spacecraft.
What is China’s Tiangong 1?
The Tiangong 1 module is China’s first spacecraft designed for orbital docking tests and space research. It’s name translates to “Heavenly Palace” in English. The Tiangong 1 space lab intended to serve as a space station module prototype for China, which is the third country (after Russia and the United States) to develop the capability to launch astronauts into space and return them safely to Earth.
India’s longest elevated road was recently inaugurated in Uttar Pradesh.
- The expressway is a 10.3 km long elevated road, making it the longest elevated road in the country.
- The Hindon Elevated Road will be connecting Raj Nagar Extension in Ghaziabad to UP Gate.
- India is now second largest mobile phone producer:
Context: India has emerged as the second largest mobile phone producer in the world after China.
- According to the data shared by ICA, annual production of mobile phones in India increased from 3 million units in 2014 to 11 million units in 2017.
- India replaced Vietnam to become second largest producer of mobile phones in 2017.
- With the rise in mobile phone production, imports of the devices in the country also reduced to less than half in 2017-18.
“Thank You India” Campaign 2018:
What is it? The exiled government of Tibet has launched a year-long ‘Thank you India” campaign to mark the 60th year of the arrival of the spiritual leader Dalai Lama to India.
Context: Indian troops have increased their patrolling at a tri-junction of India, China and Myanmar to prevent a repeat of a Doklam-like standoff.
Where is it? The tri-junction is located around 50 km from Walong, India’s easternmost town in Arunachal Pradesh, near the Tibet region. It is situated on the bank of Lohitriver.
- Scientists have discovered a new organ in the human body which they have dubbed the ‘interstitium’.
The new organ is known as the Interstitium and it is found everywhere in our bodies, acting as a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
- It lies beneath the top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining the gut, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles. The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body.
- Scientists say, it may even be one of the largest organs in the body. The organ acts like a shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
WHAT IS THE ORGAN MADE OF?
The organ is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body and is made up of both strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, with interstitial fluid moving throughout.
Functions of the organ:
- Interstitial spaces are organized by a collagen “mesh”, can shrink, expand, and “may thus serve as shock absorbers.”
- These “dynamically compressible and distensible sinuses” act as thoroughfares to transport critical fluids within organs and around the body.
- The Interstitium plays an important role in carrying lymph, the clear fluid that also travels through lymphatic vessels and supports immunity.
Significance of the discovery:
The discovery of the fluid ‘highway’ could help to explain how cancer spreads in the body, and pave the way for new ways to detect and treat the disease.
- China has successfully launched two satellites with a single rocket to strengthen its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). The two satellites are coded as the 30th and 31st members in the BDS.
About BeiDou Satellite System:
Named after the Chinese term for Big Dipper, the BeiDou system started providing independent services over China in 2000. It is being projected by Beijing as a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).
- It has total 22 Operational satellites in orbit and the full constellation is scheduled to comprise 35 satellites.
- BeiDou has two separate constellations, BeiDou-1 and BeiDou-2. BeiDou-1 also known as first generation was a constellation of three satellites.BeiDou-2, also known as COMPASS, is the second generation of the system. It became operational in the year 2011.
What are the various GNSS systems?
The four global GNSS systems are – GPS (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU), BeiDou (China). Additionally, there are two regional systems – QZSS (Japan) and IRNSS or NavIC (India).
- Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi? She was India’s first female doctor and first woman to obtain a degree in western medicine. Google Doodle celebrated her 153rd Birthday on March 31st. Anandi Joshi was born on 31st March 1865 in Maharashtra.
It is Russia’s most advanced nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile. It was flight-tested recently.
The Sarmat is a heavy ICBM intended to replace Russia’s aging, Soviet-era missiles that form the basis of its nuclear deterrent.The chief innovation of the Sarmat is its ability to carry a large number of guided warheads.The missile is believed to be able to fly 16,000 miles and is capable of flying over the South Pole to strike the U.S.NATO has named this missile as ‘Satan 2’.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has successfully launched communication satellite GSAT-6A, on board its geosynchronous rocket GSLV-F08, at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.This is the 12th flight of the GSLV rocket and the sixth with and indigenous cryogenic upper stage.
About GSAT- 6A satellite:
- The GSAT-6A is a high power S-band communication satellite with a mission life of about 10 years.
- A key feature of the satellite is to provide mobile communication to India through multi beam coverage facility.
- The satellite will also provide a platform for developing technologies such as demonstration of 6 m S-Band Unfurlable Antenna, handheld ground terminals and network management techniques that could be useful in satellite based mobile communication applications.
- The satellite is expected to be heavily used by security forces which are stationed in the remotest areas of the country.
The GSLV is a three stage/engine rocket. The core of first stage is fired with solid fuel while the four strap-on motors by liquid fuel. The second stage is the liquid fuel-propelled and the third is the cryogenic engine.
GSLV-F08, weighing 415.6 tonnes with a height of 49.1 meters comes with notable improvements like induction of High Thrust Vikas Engine, electromechanical actuation system in place of electro-hydraulic actuation system.
What Is An ‘Unfurlable Antenna’? What Does It Do?
ISRO’s ‘unfurlable antenna’ is a six-meter-wide antenna which looks somewhat like an umbrella. This will be ‘unfurled’ once the GSAT-6A satellite has been put in orbit. This antenna, specially designed for the mission, is three times as broad as the antennas that are usually used by ISRO. This antenna will allow mobile communication from anywhere via hand-held ground terminals. Apart from communications, the GSAT-6A satellite is believed to be designated for military use as well.
What Is S-Band? How Is It Useful?
S-band is an electromagnetic spectrum covering frequencies from 2 to 4 gigahertz (GHz). It crosses the conventional boundary between the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Super High Frequency (SHF) bands at 3.0 GHz. S-band is used by weather radars, surface ship radar, and some communications satellites. S-band is very useful because the 2.5 Ghz band is used globally for 4G services, and is worth billions of dollars. The S-band spectrum is extremely valuable for mobile broadband services.
- NASA has delayed the launch of its much awaited, $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope — set to be the world’s biggest space observatory — until at least May 2020.
What is the James Webb Space Telescope?
The James Webb Space Telescope, also called Webb or JWST, is a large, space-based observatory, optimized for infrared wavelengths, which will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.
It will cover longer wavelengths of light than Hubble and will have greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable JWST to look further back in time to see the first galaxies that formed in the early universe, and to peer inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.
Why is Webb an infrared telescope?
By viewing the universe at infrared wavelengths Webb will show us things never before seen by any other telescope. It is only at infrared wavelengths that we can see the first stars and galaxies forming after the Big Bang. And it is with infrared light that we can see stars and planetary systems forming inside clouds of dust that are opaque to visible light.
Who is James Webb?
This space-based observatory is named after James E. Webb (1906- 1992), NASA’s second administrator. Webb is best known for leading Apollo, a series of lunar exploration programs that landed the first humans on the Moon. However, he also initiated a vigorous space science program that was responsible for more than 75 launches during his tenure, including America’s first interplanetary explorers.
- WHO has released a report on E- Cigarettes and its effects on health.
Highlights of the report:
- As per the report, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) (also known as e-cigarettes) emits nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products. In addition to dependence, nicotine can have adverse effects on the development of the foetus during pregnancy and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
- The WHO report further says that although nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, it may function as a “tumour promoter” and seems to be involved in the biology of malignant disease, as well as of neurodegeneration.
- Foetal and adolescent nicotine exposure may have long-term consequences for brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders.
- The evidence is sufficient to warn children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age against ENDS use and nicotine.
What are e-cigarettes?
An electronic cigarette (or e-cig) is a battery-powered vaporizer that mimics tobacco smoking. It works by heating up a nicotine liquid, called “juice.”
- Nicotine juice (or e-juice) comes in various flavors and nicotine levels. e-liquid is composed of five ingredients: vegetable glycerin (a material used in all types of food and personal care products, like toothpaste) and propylene glycol (a solvent most commonly used in fog machines.) propylene glycol is the ingredient that produces thicker clouds of vapor.
- Proponents of e-cigs argue that the practice is healthier than traditional cigarettes because users are only inhaling water vapor and nicotine.
Why its hard to regulate them?
As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco, they do not fall within the ambit of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), which mandates stringent health warnings on the packaging and advertisements of tobacco products.
- National Conference on Down Syndrome was recently inaugurated in New Delhi. The objective of this conference was to provide excellent opportunities to the parents to obtain information about latest development in education and skilling and inclusive living of persons with Down Syndrome.
- The Conference was organized by National Trustfor the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities under M/o SJ&E in collaboration with Muskaan, a registered organisation of the National Trust.
- On 19th December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared to observe 21st March as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD)and since then every year, this day is officially observed by UN to create awareness about people with Down Syndrome.
About Down Syndrome:
Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition associated with intellectual and learning disabilities.
Causes: Persons with Down Syndrome have 47 chromosomes as compared to 46 in majority of people.
Impacts: This one Extra chromosome causes its own impact and slows down learning process. It impacts neurological functioning causing impairment of intellectual functions e.g. analytical thinking, complex abstractions and judgement etc.
Treatment: Good schooling, loving family, learning and work opportunities make them grow up to be responsible, loving and cheerful persons. Their emotions and needs are like any other person of the same age. Accepting and respecting family/community is a big support to their growth and development.
About National Trust:
What is it? The National Trust is a Statutory Body under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. The National Trust was envisaged with a core mission of providing opportunities for capacity development of Persons with Disabilities and their families, fulfilling their rights, facilitating and promoting the creation of an enabling environment and an inclusive society.
Functions: The National Trust has been set up to discharge two basic duties – legal and welfare. Legal duties are discharged through Local Level Committee (LLC) set up at district level under the chairmanship of the District Collector / District Magistrate and providing legal guardianship. Welfare duty is discharged through the schemes and activities. The schemes and activities of the National Trust inter-alia include training, awareness and capacity building programmes and shelter, care giving and empowerment.
- All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)under the aegis of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is organizing Smart India Hackathon 2018.
- Smart India Hackathon 2018 is a non-stop digital product development competition, where problems are posed to technology students for innovative solutions. It will harnesses creativity & expertise of students and sparks institute-level hackathons.
- It builds funnel for ‘Startup India’ campaign and crowdsources solutions for improving governance and quality of life. It also provides opportunity to citizens to provide innovative solutions to India’s daunting problems
- Smart India Hackathon 2018 would be the second massive scale hackathon initiative in India following Smart India Hackathon 2017.
- Winners stand to get cash prizes and a chance to be part of the NASSCOM’s 10,000 Startups program.
- Surat becomes first district to have 100% solar powered health centres:
- Context: Surat has become the first district in the country to have 100% solar powered Primary Health Centers (PHC). There are a total of 52 PHCs in the district and all of them are now powered by solar system.
- A National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement was recently organized by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
Need for prevention of drug abuse:
India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking as it is located between two largest Opium producing regions of the world i.e. Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east. Drug trafficking and abuse also pose serious threat to our societies.
Involvement of foreign nationals in drug peddling poses another significant challenge of drug trafficking in India. During 2017, 332 foreign national have been arrested in drug cases in India.
What has the government done in this regard?
The Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem. It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
The Narcotics Control Bureau is the apex coordinating agency. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 which came into effect from the 14th November, 1985 made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act.
- An instrument to measure traces of uranium in water has been developed by a unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
- The instrument, “Fluorimeter”, has been developed by the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), an Indore-based unit of the DAE.
- The device, costing Rs 1 lakh, would help in detecting traces of uranium in water.
- The instrument is capable of examining traces of uranium in a sample of water from 0.1 PPB (Parts-per-billion) unit to 100 PPB.
Uranium: Uranium is a radioactive element. If in any source of water it’s quantity is more than the permissible limit, then use of such water may cause thyroid cancer, blood cancer, depression and other serious ailments. Notably, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has fixed the permissible radiological limit to 60 PPB of uranium concentration for drinking water.
- BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile:
Context: Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was recently successfully flight-tested for the first time with an indigenous seeker. So far, the seeker, a critical technology in missiles, had come from Russia. The seeker technology determines the accuracy of a missile.
- The BrahMos is the fastest cruise missile of its class in the world.
- BrahMos missile flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km.
- The missile has been jointly developed with Russia and is named after the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva in Russia.
- BrahMos missile is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft.
- Since India’s entry into the MTCR, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.
- The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) is celebrating its 18th Foundation Day.
The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) was established in 2000 under an agreement between the Governments of India and United States of America.
- It has a mandate to promote, catalyze and seed bilateral collaboration in science, technology, engineering and biomedical research through substantive interaction amongst government, academia and industry.
- As an autonomous, not-for-profit society, IUSSTF has the ability, agility and flexibility to engage and involve industry, private R&D labs; and non governmental entities in its evolving activity manifold.
- This operational uniqueness allows the IUSSTF to receive grants and contributions from independent sources both in India and USA, besides the assured core funding from the two governments.
- IUSSTF currently implements a portfolio of “four” broad program verticals– Scientific Networks, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Research and Development and Visitation Programs.
- The Cabinet has approved setting up of a US subsidiary of the state-run telecom consultancy company TCIL for providing techno-commercial and logistic support for three Google projects for America.
TCIL is one of the few companies, which have been roped in to execute “Google Fiber”, Google’s “Fiber-to the-Premises Project” in the US for providing high capacity broadband internet and cable television to all the cities.
Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd.(TCIL) is a leading IS/ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 certified Govt. of India Undertaking incorporated in 1978 under the Administrative control of Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Govt. of India.
- It is a Miniratna company. It was set up to give consultations in fields of Telecommunications to developing countries around the world.
TCIL has been undertaking various projects in all fields of telecommunications and information technology and also continuously deploying new technologies in the field of Telecom Software, Switching and Transmission Systems, Cellular Services, Rural Telecommunications, Optical Fiber based Backbone Transmission Systems etc.
- TCIL has diversified its operation and has been executing turnkey projects of Power Transmission, Rural Roads and Civil Construction.
Google Fiber is part of the Access division of Alphabet Inc. It provides fiber-to-the-premises service in the United States, providing broadband Internet and IPTV to a small and slowly increasing number of locations.
Services: Google Fiber offers five options, depending on location: a free Internet option, a 100 Mbit/s option, a 1 Gbit/s Internet option, and an option including television service (in addition to the 1 Gbit/s Internet) and an option for home phone.
The service was first introduced to the Kansas City metropolitan area.
- The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) celebrated its 6th Foundation Day on 20thMarch, 2018.
Theme: ‘Sustaining Innovation – A Market Driven Pathway’.
The event saw the announcement of the preliminary winners of the SoCH (Solutions for Community Health) awards.
What is it?
- This award is an innovation challenge award which was launched on the MyGov portal in September 2017.This challenge has two themes, platform technologies for reducing disease burden (communicable and noncommunicable diseases) and sanitation and waste recycling.
- The winners will now have 6 months and rupees 15 lakhs to develop a minimal viable prototype and will then compete for the larger rupees 50 lakh award within their categories.
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India, to empower the emerging biotech industry to undertake strategic research and innovation.
BIRAC is a new industry academia interface and implements its mandate through a wide range of impact initiatives, be it providing access to risk capital through targeted funding, technology transfer, IP management and handholding schemes that help bring innovation excellence to Indian biotech firms and make them globally competitive.
- India has joined Europe’s mega global arrangement of sharing data from Earth observation satellites, called Copernicus.
- Under this arrangement, the European Commission intends to provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections.
- Reciprocally the DoS will provide the Copernicus programme and its participating states with a free, full and open access to the data from ISRO’s earth observation satellites, including historical data sets.
- It is intended that ISRO’s satellite data would be made available for distribution on the European ‘Copernicus hub’.
- This comprises land, ocean and atmospheric series of ISRO’s civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Megha-Tropiques, Scatsat-1, SARAL, INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR) with the exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data.
About Copernicus programme:
Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
- Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
- This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
- ESA coordinates the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites. The EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, setting requirements and managing the services.
- Services provided by Copernicus:land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.
- Sentinel:ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images.
- The government has launched the #YesIBleed menstrual hygiene campaign.
“#Yes I Bleed” aims to create a holistic approach to the issue of menstruation, which is an experience that transcends culture, class, and caste. The campaign has been initiated formally across all multi-media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube to spread awareness about the issue.
The United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and a human rights issue yet across the globe. “Period poverty” as some call it, is a reality for millions of women and girls.
- The Union Health Ministry has announced the launch of LaQshya, a programme aimed at improving quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatre.
About the Programme:
What is it? It is an initiative to improve the quality of care in the labour rooms, operation theatres and other mother and child areas in public health facilities across the country.
Aim: The programme aims at implementing ‘fast-track’ interventions for achieving tangible results within 18 months.
There were reports that Earth will be hit by a massive magnetic storm on March 18. However, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found that there was no basis for recent reports saying Earth would be hit by a massive geomagnetic storm.
What are Geomagnetic Storms?
Geomagnetic storms are caused when events such as solar flares can send higher than normal levels of radiation towards Earth. This radiation interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field causing a geomagnetic storm.
Effects of Geomagnetic storms:
Effects from the geomagnetic storm can range from the appearance of auroras or the northern and southern lights to disruptions in communications systems due to high radiation.
This would make it difficult to communicate with others on Earth.
Classification of Geomagnetic storms:
Geomagnetic storms are classified according to a scale that measures the effect that storms will have.
o At its safest level, a G1 storm affects power grids by causing weak fluctuations, minor impacts on satellite operations, and causes the northern and southern lights to occur.
o At its most extreme, G5, there would be voltage control problems with some grid system collapses or blackouts, radio waves wouldn’t be able to travel for one to two days, low-frequency radio would be out for hours, and the auroras would be able to be seen at lower latitudes than usual.
India and Vietnam have signed an MoU on Cooperation between the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM).
The two countries had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2016 and the MoU will enhance training and research collaboration possibilities.
The headquarters of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has been shifted from Chennai to Haryana’s Ballabhgarh for “better coordination” between the environment ministry and the board.
The Union environment ministry has asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to stop imports of genetically modified (GM) soybean for food or feed without the approval of the regulator for transgenic products.
GEAC, which is the regulatory body for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and products thereof, has not authorized or approved GM soybean or any other products derived from GM soybean seeds for import or cultivation in India.
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS)
CCRAS has developed and commercialized the following two drugs:
- AYUSH 82 An Anti Diabetic Ayurvedic Formulation.
- AYUSH SG An Anti-Rheumatoid Arthritis preparation.
CCRAS is actively involved in scientific process of drug development adopting prevalent guidelines such as Good Clinical Practices Guidelines for ASU drugs (GCP-ASU), Ministry of AYUSH and National ethical guidelines for Bio-Medical Research (ICMR), WHO guidelines for traditional medicines etc. as per requirement and as feasible through its peripheral institutes.
The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) is an autonomous body of the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy), Government of India.
o It is an apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, development and promotion of research on scientific lines in Ayurveda and Sowa-Rigpa system of medicine.
o Research activities of the Council include Medicinal Plant Research (Medico-Ethno Botanical Survey, Pharmacognosy and Tissue Culture), Drug Standardization, Pharmacological Research, Clinical Research, Literary Research & Documentation and Tribal Health Care Research Programme.
Diabetes has five types, say scientists
Scientists have unveiled a revised classification for diabetes. There are five distinct types of diabetes that can occur in adulthood, rather than the two currently recognised.
Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types:
With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood. This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.
The new clusters are:
Cluster 1 – severe autoimmune diabetes is broadly the same as the classical type 1 – it hit people when they were young, seemingly healthy and an immune disease left them unable to produce insulin
Cluster 2 – severe insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in cluster 1 – they were young, had a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the immune system was not at fault
Cluster 3 – severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were generally overweight and making insulin but their body was no longer responding to it
Cluster 4 – mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those in cluster 3
Cluster 5 – mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder.
People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food.
Some 420 million people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Today, Diabetes has become a major public health concern in India.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, over 66 million people in India live with this metabolic disease; an almost equal number has pre-diabetes which is an immediate precursor to diabetes.
It is predicted that by 2030 diabetes mellitus may afflict up to 79.4 million individuals in India.
India currently faces an uncertain future in relation to the potential burden that diabetes may impose upon the country.
If this continues unchecked, an already overloaded and inefficient health system will run out of solutions.
Many influences affect the prevalence of diabetes throughout a country, and identification of those factors is necessary to facilitate changes in the healthcare system.
In a major boost for research and innovation in the country, the Central Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1000 crore for the phase two of the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India programme.
o Under the IMPRINT-II, a fund is being created by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Human Resource Development together, in which participation will come from industry and other interested Ministries. The project will be run as a separate vertical in coordination with the DST.
The Supreme Court has delivered a landmark judgment allowing “living will” where, an adult in his conscious mind, is permitted to refuse medical treatment or voluntarily decide not to take medical treatment to embrace death in a natural way.
In Its judgment, the court has laid down a set of guidelines for “living will” and defined passive euthanasia and euthanasia as well.
Guidelines laid down by the court:
What is advance medical directive or living will?
It is a medical power of attorney that allows an individual to appoint a trusted person to take health care decisions when the patient is not able to take such decisions.
The trusted person is allowed to interpret the patient’s decisions based on their mutual knowledge and understanding. The trusted person can decide on the patient’s behalf how long the medical treatment should continue when
the patient in unconscious or in a coma state is not in a position to decide.
- The burden of yellow fever in any given area is known to be heavily dependent on climate, particularly rainfall and temperature which can impact both mosquito life cycle and viral replication.
Now, researchers from Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed a new model to quantify yellow fever dynamics across Africa using not only annual averages of these climatic measures, but seasonal dynamics.
About the new model:
The new model integrated the effects of temperature on mosquito behavior and virus transmission, and looked at monthly variation in temperature rainfall, and vegetation throughout the year across Africa.
The model confirmed and quantified that, even in areas with high transmission potential for yellow fever, the risk varies throughout the year.
Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by the aedes and Haemogogus mosquitoes.
It is not always easy to diagnose, especially at the beginning, since its symptoms can often be confused with those of malaria, dengue fever, or other haemorrhagic fever. However, some patients will suffer from a jaundice specific to the disease, which explains why the term “yellow” is used.
To date, there is no treatment against yellow fever. Water and medicines can be given to target the symptoms, such as fever or dehydration. Vaccination is the best option to prevent outbreaks of the disease and to protect people against it.
Other strategies to combat the disease include mosquito population control, with the large scale use of pesticides and mosquito nets, as well as the treatment of stagnant water sources.
The Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship was recently inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind.
It is being organised by Rashtrapati Bhavan in association with the Department of Science and Technology and the National Innovation Foundation-India.
About the Festival Of Innovation And Entrepreneurship:
It is a celebration of country’s Innovation potential, particularly those ideas which stem from grassroots level including the citizen at the last mile and also a reflection of power of children’s creativity.
It is an initiative to recognise, respect, showcase, reward innovations and to foster a supportive ecosystem for innovators.
Significance of the Festival:
FINE would provide an excellent platform to the innovators for building the linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve their prospects in coming years for the larger social good.
It will also help in promoting lateral learning and linkages among the innovators to enrich the ecosystem for new India.
The Union Cabinet has approved the launch of a new Centrally Sponsored Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the MoHFW.
It will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes -Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).
Highlights of the scheme:
Coverage: The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and elderly) there will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme. The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.
Target: The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on SECC database. Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.
Role of state governments: State Governments will be allowed to expand AB-NHPM both horizontally and vertically. States will be free to choose the modalities for implementation. They can implement through insurance company or directly through Trust/ Society or a mixed model.
Council: For giving policy directions and fostering coordination between Centre and States, it is proposed to set up Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) at apex level Chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.
Who is eligible?
It will be an entitlement based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database.
o The different categories in rural area include families having only one room with kucha walls and kucharoof; families having no adult member between age 16 to 59; female headed households with no adult male member between age 16 to 59; disabled member and no able bodied adult member in the family; SC/ST households; and landless households deriving major part of their income from manual casual labour.
o Also, automatically included families in rural areas having any one of the following: households without shelter, destitute, living on alms, manual scavenger families, primitive tribal groups, legally released bonded labour. For urban areas, 11 defined occupational categories are entitled under the scheme.
At the national level to manage, an Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Agency (AB-NHPMA) would be put in place. States/ UTs would be advised to implement the scheme by a dedicated entity called State Health Agency (SHA).
The Centre has set up a steering committee to go into various issues relating to Fintech space in India. The committee will be headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.
Terms of reference:
The committee will work with government agencies such as UIDAI to explore creation and use of unique enterprise identification number.
It will also look into the possibility of international co-operation opportunities in Fintech with countries such as Singapore, the U.K., China and others.
The committee will consider means of using data with GSTN and data residing with information utilities such as credit information companies (CICs) and others in open domain with a view to developing applications for financing of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
It will also develop regulatory interventions e.g., regulatory sandbox model, that will enhance the role of Fintech in sectors identified for focused interventions. The ideas is to facilitate ease of doing business in the Fintech sector.
What is Fintech?
Fintech Or financial technology is the industry known for championing software and technology in the financial sector. A very broad term, it includes anything from a bank ATM, to software used to help spot manipulation of securities markets.
Why is it important?
India has a large population of non-city folk, many million small enterprises and any number of small borrowers without any credit history, who today cannot knock at the banks’ doors for loans.
It is therefore said to be just ripe for a Fintech revolution. To help things along, the Government is expediting this by promoting the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile).
The reason why banking bigwigs are watching these developments like hawks is that Fintech has enormous power to disrupt old-world banks.
They mostly function as online bazaars that simply put borrowers in touch with lenders or entrepreneurs with investors, while they pocket a fee on each transaction.
The first ever Indo-French Knowledge Summit was held recently at New Delhi. The summit coincided with the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India.
Outcomes of the summit:
The summit ended with a landmark agreement on mutual recognition of educational qualifications between the two countries and a record 15 other MoUs between universities and research institutions on joint initiatives and partnerships.
Significance of mutual recognition of educational qualifications:
Agreement on mutual recognition of academic qualifications will go a long way in boosting the educational relationship between the two countries and will encourage mobility of students from both the countries by facilitating possibilities for them to continue their studies in the other country and would also promote excellence in higher education through cooperation, university and research exchanges.
Franco-Indian Education Trust:
A Franco-Indian Education Trust was also unveiled at the closing session of the summit. It will be funded by the Indian industry and French Companies in India to offer educational scholarships and merit based financial support to Indian students.
Researchers have developed silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), a novel compound that exhibits poor thermal conductivity in the 25-425 degree C range but shows good electrical conductivity.
The new material made from silver, copper, and tellurium shows high levels of thermoelectric performance that the scientists are hoping could some day be harnessed to extract electricity from waste heat of chemical, thermal, or steel power plants.
Due to the low thermal conductivity of AgCuTe, one end of the 8 mm-long rod that is contact with waste heat remains hot while the other end maintains cold temperature. The temperature difference is essential for the generation of electrical voltage. At the same time, the material exhibits good electrical conductivity like metal.
The compound, silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), shows promise as a thermoelectric material for converting waste heat into electricity.
Potential applications of the thermoelectric technology are in automobile industry, chemical, thermal and steel power plants where large quantities of heat are wasted.
Scientists have found that the mineral vaterite, a form (polymorph) of calcium carbonate, is a dominant component of the protective silvery-white crust that forms on the leaves of a number of alpine plants.
Significance of this discovery:
Naturally occurring vaterite is rarely found on Earth. Small amounts of
vaterite crystals have been found in some sea and freshwater crustaceans, bird eggs, the inner ears of salmon, meteorites and rocks.
This is the first time that the rare and unstable mineral has been found in such a large quantity and the first time it has been found to be associated with plants.
Potential uses of vaterite:
Vaterite has special properties that make it a potentially superior carrier for medications due to its high loading capacity, high uptake by cells
An international team of physicists have successfully created a “giant atom” and filled it with ordinary atoms, creating a new state of matter termed “Rydberg polarons”.
These atoms are held together by a weak bond and is created at very cold temperatures.
How was the new polaron created?
It uses ideas from two different fields: Bose Einstein Condensation and Rydberg atoms.
A BEC (Bose Einstein Condensate) is a liquid-like state of matter that occurs at very low temperatures. A BEC can be perturbed to create excitations which are akin to ripples on a lake. Here, researchers have used a BEC of strontium atoms.
Electrons in an atom move in orbits around the nucleus. A ‘Rydberg atom’ is an atom in which an electron has been kicked out to a very large orbit. These have interesting properties and have been studied for a long time.
In this work, researchers used laser light on a BEC of strontium atoms so that it impinges on one strontium atom at a time. This excites an electron into a large orbit, forming a Rydberg atom. This orbit is large enough to encircle many other strontium atoms inside it.
As the electron moves around many strontium atoms, it generates ripples of the BEC. The Rydberg atom becomes inextricably mixed with these ripples and forms a new super-atom called a ‘Rydberg polaron’.
What will be the use of these Rydberg polarons?
A particularly interesting implication is for cosmology. Our universe is believed to be filled with a mysterious ‘dark matter’ which exerts a gravitational force on other matter.
Some theories of dark matter postulate that it is a cosmic Bose Einstein Condensate, perhaps composed of an as-yet-unknown type of particle. If we are indeed living in an invisible all pervading Bose Einstein Condensate, this experiment can suggest ways to detect it.
Department of Biotechnology in the Ministry of Science and Technology has constituted a Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) to investigate the matter of illegal cultivation of HT cotton.
What’s the issue?
The cultivation of BG-III or HT cotton has not been approved by Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of Ministry of
However, there are several media reports and complaints regarding the illegal or unauthorized cultivation of HT cotton in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Why HT Cotton is gaining popularity?
In normal cotton, spraying of herbicide is not possible once the plant has emerged out of the soil, as the chemical cannot distinguish between weeds and the crop itself.
But with cotton that is genetically engineered to ‘tolerate’ herbicide application – through introduction of another alien gene, this time coding for a protein inhibiting the action of that chemical – only the weeds, not the crop, get killed.
As the unapproved cotton variety is claimed to be herbicide tolerant, farmers resort to indiscriminate use of glyphosate, a herbicide, causing health hazards to humans and cattle, apart from affecting the yield of cotton.
The herbicide-resistant gene could spread through pollen into
the biodiversity system leading to transformation of weeds into super weeds on a large-scale. It would not only threaten the growth and yields of all crops in future, but also could increase cultivation costs and lead to health hazards.
As the herbicide tolerant cotton is not approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for commercial cultivation in India, its sale, cultivation and seed production is also punishable offence under Seeds Act 1966, Seed Rule 1968, Seeds (Control) Order 1983 with regard to Environmental Protection Act 1986 and Environmental Protection Rules, 1989.
About HT Cotton:
BG Cotton – III, also known as Herbicide-Tolerant Cotton, contains Round-up Ready and Round-up Flex (RRF) gene.
HT cotton in an innovation in Bt cotton as it takes care of the weeds problem at a much lower cost than the labour farmers have to engage for weeding.
Who developed it?
Monsanto, a US-based multinational seed giant, has developed herbicide-tolerant trait (BG-III) and commercialised it as ‘Round-up Ready Flex (RRF)’ in USA.
The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project has got a fresh lease of life with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) taking it up as a special case and granting it environmental clearance to set up the lab in Bodi West hills.
While granting EC, the committee stipulated specific conditions, of which two are key for the project to take off.
One is the consent to establish and operate to be obtained from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
Also, the INO team has to obtain the necessary forest and National Board for Wild Life clearances as per law. The Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district, Kerala, is situated within five km from the project site.
105th Indian Science Congress was recently held in Manipur. It focussed on translational science for promoting affordable sustainable innovation.
Indian Science Congress was organized by the Indian Science Congress Association.
Theme: “Reaching the Unreached Through Science & Technology”.
Women Science Congress:
7th Women Science Congress was also held at the 105th session of Indian Science Congress in Imphal. The first Women Science Congress was held in 2012.
Airbus, an aeronautics company based in Netherlands, is developing CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN), an AI-based space assistant for Germany’s DLR Space Administration.
Described by its creators as a “flying brain”, this 3D-printed artificial intelligence system will soon join the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to assist astronauts. It will tested during the European Space Agency’s Horizons mission between June and October this year.
CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system. The entire structure of CIMON is made up of plastic and metal, created using 3D printing.
CIMON has a brain-like AI network and is designed to support astronauts in performing routine work, for example by displaying procedures or offering solutions to problems. With its face, voice and artificial intelligence, becomes a genuine ‘colleague’ on board.
Applications: With CIMON, crew members can do more than just work through a schematic view of prescribed checklists and procedures; they can also engage with their assistant. CIMON makes work easier for the astronauts when carrying out every day routine tasks, helps to increase efficiency, facilitates mission success and improves security, as it can also serve as an early warning system for technical problems.
The Marshall Islands will launch the world’s first legal tender cryptocurrency. A law in this regard has been passed by the parliament.
The Marshall Islands has partnered with Israeli company Neema to issue 24 million units of the Sovereign (SOV) digital currency.
The SOV will require users to identify themselves, thus avoiding the anonymity that has kept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from gaining support from governments.
How is it different from ‘Petro’ cryptocurrency?
Venezuela had launched the Petro cryptocurrency in February. Unlike the Petro, the Sovereign (SOV) will be recognized in law as legal tender, holding equal status as the US dollar, which is the Pacific island nation’s current currency.
Plans for possible sovereign cryptocurrencies have gained momentum in recent months, as digital tokens launched by private companies have jumped in value. Several governments, including China, Estonia, and Iran, have discussed plans for their own digital currency.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is building Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET) that can possibly extend the working life of satellites by years and even help with interplanetary travel using just the air around it as a propellant.
About Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET):
How it works? An air-breathing engine works by collecting the sparse air at the edge of the atmosphere and compresses it to a point that it becomes thermalised ionised plasma. It then fires out the plasma using an electric charge to achieve thrust. An air breathing thruster could keep a satellite operational for extended periods of time if it only uses the air around it for fuel instead of propellants.
This Air-Breathing Electric Thruster (ABET) does not operate in complete vacuum, but works in low Earth orbit (LEO) – altitude of 2,000 km or less– notes the ESA. At LEO, the air is scarce, but not entirely absent. In fact, there is enough air to cause a drag on spaceships and satellites. This is why there are on-board engines installed on satellites to correct course every time it moves out of position.
Scientists have found the first ever samples of naturally occurring ice-VII on Earth. The samples were found in a diamond.
Unique features of Ice-VII:
Ice-VII, with its cubic crystals, is unique in that it remains stable even as pressure increases dramatically. It’s 1.5 times more dense than ice-I as well.
There’s (almost) nowhere on Earth for ice-VII to form,
because it requires both low temperatures and high pressure exceeding 30,000 atmospheres (3 gigapascals). The only place you can reach that pressure is deep in the Earth’s mantle, but it’s too hot for ice to form there.
The formation of ice-VII doesn’t require freezing temperatures — as long as the pressure is high enough, ice-VII can form at room temperature.
How Ice-VII is formed in diamond?
Diamonds often pick up molecules during their formation deep in the Earth. These so-called inclusions can affect the quality or color of the diamond, but sometimes the inclusion is just water.
One interesting property of diamonds is the internal structures don’t relax when they leave the high-pressure mantle. So, the water inside a diamond remains compressed, even though it’s technically in
a liquid state.
Various forms of ice:
Commonly used is called as ice-I. When water freezes, the oxygen atoms move into a hexagonal arrangement. That’s why ice expands and has lower density than water.
Compressing ice can change the shape of the crystals, turning ice-I into ice-II (rhombus-shaped crystals), ice-III (tetragonal crystals), and so on.
Researchers have isolated a 2D form of the soft metal gallium, dubbed “gallenene,” which could make for efficient, thin metal contacts in electronic devices.
Gallium is a metal with a low melting point. It has a low melting point of just below 30° C (86° F). That makes it a great candidate for applications that need liquid metals at roughly room temperature.
Unlike graphene and many other 2-D structures, it cannot yet be grown with vapor phase deposition methods.
It also has a tendency to oxidize quickly.
Gallenene comes in zigzag and hexagonal structures, and has the unusual ability to change the properties of its solid support material, making it promising as a contact material in 2D devices.
Gallenene strongly interacts with its solid support and even converts semiconducting molybdenum disulfide into a fully conducting metal. This could make it useful as electrical connector in ultra-flat electronics.
Significance of Gallenene:
Near 2D metals are difficult to extract, since these are mostly high-strength, nonlayered structures, so gallenene is an exception that could bridge the need for metals in the 2D world.
Preparing itself to deal with a potential asteroid impact, NASA has drawn up plans to build a huge nuclear spacecraft, named Hammer spacecraft, that is capable of shunting or blowing up dangerous space rocks and safeguarding life on Earth.
About the Hammer spacecraft:
The spacecraft named Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response)
is an eight tonne spaceship which could deflect a giant space rock, if it happens to hit Earth.
It was devised by top experts, including Nasa, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and two Energy Department weapons labs.
How it works?
The spacecraft has two ways of dispatching an asteroid collision threat. The first involves hitting the asteroid, and then steering it off-course so it doesn’t end up hitting Earth.
The second – and more dangerous – would see the HAMMER detonating its on-board nuclear warhead to change the asteroid’s course.
Scientists at the ICAR-Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) have produced cloned calf ‘HISAR GOURAV’.
India is taking tentative steps towards restarting research into Cold fusion, some 25 years after it was shut down at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) following global criticism heaped on the idea. Three research groups have taken up the theme.
How it works?
When hydrogen, the main element of water, is introduced to a small piece of the metal nickel or palladium, a reaction occurs that can create excess heat and transmutation products.
Excess heat means more heat comes out of the system than went in to the system. The excess heat can make hot water and useful steam to turn a turbine and produce electricity.
Advantages of cold fusion:
No radioactive materials are used in cold fusion. It occurs as the tiny protons, neutrons and electrons of hydrogen interact, releasing energy slowly, through heat and photons, without the dangerous radiation associated with conventional nuclear reactions, and cold fusion makes no radioactive waste.
What is cold fusion?
Cold fusion describes a form of energy generated when hydrogen interacts with various metals like nickel and palladium.
o Cold fusion is a field of condensed matter nuclear science CMNS, and is also called low-energy nuclear reactions LENR, lattice-assisted nuclear reactions LANR, low energy nanoscale reactions LENR, among others.
o Cold fusion is also referred to as the Anomalous Heat Effect AHE, reflecting the fact that there is no definitive theory of the elusive reaction.
What is it?
It is the joint military exercise between the Indian Army and Seychelles People’s Defence Forces.
This exercise is the eighth in the series of bilateral exercises being conducted in the beautiful island nation.
The exercise is named “Lamitye” which in the local dialect ‘Creole’, means friendship.
India, Bangladesh and Russia have signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the construction of the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.
Russia is building the nuclear power plant in Bangladesh on a turnkey basis. Indian companies can be involved in construction and installation works and in the supply of equipment of a non-critical category.
What is it? It is a new malware detected by cybersecurity agencies.
How it affects? It is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into ‘bots’, which can then be used for any purpose, including a Distributed Denial of Service attack which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.
- INDIAN SCIENTISTS HAVE DEVELOPED A SUPER CRITICAL CARBON DI OXIDE BRAYTON TEST LOOP facility that would help generate clean energy from future power plants including solar thermal.
This next generation technology loop was developed indigenously by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
The facility is part of the Indo-US consortium — Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS).
What is super critical carbon dioxide?
The term “supercritical” describes the state of carbon dioxide above its critical temperature of 31°C and critical pressure of 73 atmospheres making it twice as dense as steam.
About the technology:
This is India’s first test-bed for next generation, efficient, compact, waterless super critical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle test loop for power generation. The technology is perhaps the first test loop coupled with solar heat source in the world.
This test loop is designed to generate the necessary data for future development of scaled up S-CO2 power plants, which would require overcoming several technological challenges –developing critical components such as the turbine, compressor and heat exchangers that can work at the desired pressure and temperature ranges and using materials that can withstand these conditions.
Significance of this technology:
The efficiency of energy conversion could be significantly increased by as much as 50% or more if S-CO2 is operated in a closed loop Brayton cycle.
Besides increasing power generation and making the process more efficient, there are other advantages of using this new technology.
Smaller turbines and power blocks can make the power plant cheaper, while higher efficiency would significantly reduce CO2 emissions for fossil fuel based plants.
- National Science Day is celebrated on 28th of February every year in order to commemorate the invention of the Raman Effect in India by the Indian physicist, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman on the same day in the year 1928.
- Regulators in the United Kingdom have given doctors the green light to perform mitochondrial donation therapy on two British women. The controversial form of IVF results in “three-parent babies,” and the women will be the first in the U.K. to undergo the procedure.
What are mitochondria?
Mitochondria are tiny rod-like structures in cells which act as power houses, generating the energy that allows our bodies to function. Unusually, they have their own DNA, distinct from the genetic material within the cell nucleus.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) makes up about 0.1% of a cell’s total DNA and does not affect individual characteristics such as appearance and personality.
- The White House budget proposal has called for the cancellation of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a move that could be interpreted as a warning to the mission’s leaders to rein in the program’s expanding costs. But if the cancellation goes through, some scientists worry it could hurt the international standing of the U.S. astrophysics community.
WFIRST was tentatively scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, to become NASA’s next “flagship mission,” a classification applied to large-scale missions with broad science objectives. Other NASA flagship missions include the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Telescope, and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.
WFIRST, the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope, is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics. The telescope has a primary mirror that is 2.4 meters in diameter (7.9 feet), and is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope’s primary mirror.
WFIRST will have two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument, and the Coronagraph Instrument.
The Wide Field Instrument will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument, capturing more of the sky with less observing time.
As the primary instrument, the Wide Field Instrument will measure light from a billion galaxies over the course of the mission lifetime.
It will perform a microlensing survey of the inner Milky Way to find ~2,600 exoplanets.
The Coronagraph Instrument will perform high contrast imaging and spectroscopy of dozens of individual nearby exoplanets.
- The search for Earth-like planets just got a major upgrade: The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile successfully integrated the light from all four of its 8.2-meter (27 feet) unit telescopes into a new instrument, making VLT the optical telescope with the largest collecting area in the world. The instrument is called ESPRESSO (Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations). The upgrade will make it easier for scientists to use the observatory to search for faint, rocky planets around distant stars.
- ‘Paschim Lehar’, a tri-service maritime exercise, is being held off India’s western coast. The objective of the exercise is to build interoperability. This exercise includes participation of a large number of ships, submarines and aircraft from the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy. Units from Eastern Naval Command, Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Coast Guard are also participating to build interoperability.
- National Banana Festival (NBF) 2018 is being held at Kalliyoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The festival plays host to a buyer-seller meet, training programmes, documentary screenings, photography contest etc. The festival also includes a national seminar, exhibition, training programmes, farmers’ meet and a host of other activities. The festival is organised by Centre for Innovation in Science and Social action (CISSA) in partnership with Kalliyoor Grama Panchayat and a host of National and State organisations.
- 5th international data science summit was recently held in New Delhi.
The conference was attended by around 130 delegates from Corporate Officers and executives involved in strategy, Government Policy Planners, Academic institutions, Electrical utilities, Researchers and Developers along with Standards Development Organizations.
Organizer: Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India, in association with Data Science Foundation organized the summit.
- Nuclear-capable ‘Dhanush’ ballistic missile was recently test fired.
It is a surface-to-surface missile. It has a strike range of 350 km.
It is a naval variant of the indigenously-developed ‘Prithvi’ missile.
It is capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and hitting both land and sea-based targets.
The single-stage, liquid-propelled ‘Dhanush’, has already been inducted into the defence services. It is one of the five missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
- Researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics, which they have named malacidins, which can be extracted from soil bacteria that are notoriously difficult to culture in labs and study
- Punjab government has launched the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), a project to keep digitised records of FIRs and information on crimes and criminals.
FIRs and General Diaries can now be updated online by police officials on CCTNS ‘Go-Live’. They would be provided Tablets for this purpose
Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level.
- Over 53, 000 cyber security incidents like phishing, website intrusions and defacements, virus and ransomware attacks were observed in the country during 2017, as per CERT- In data.
The types of cyber security incidents included phishing, scanning/probing, website intrusions and defacements, virus/malicious code, ransomware and denial of service attacks etc.
What has the government done to prevent such attacks?
The government has taken a number of legal, technical and administrative measures to prevent incidents of cyber crime.
These include enactment of the IT Act, 2000 that has adequate provisions for dealing with prevalent cyber crimes and establishment of National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) for protection of critical infrastructure in the country. Besides, cyber crime cells have been set up in all states and union territories for reporting and investigation of cyber crime cases.
National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) is an organisation created under Sec 70A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It is designated as the National Nodal Agency in respect of Critical Information Infrastructure Protection.
- ISRO recently launched (jan 10 2018) its 100th satellite Cartosat-2, a weather observation satellite in sun- synchronous orbit.
The PSLV carried along with this, 30 other satellites from its spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. They include two satellites from India and 28 satellites from six countries – Canada, Finland, France, Korea, the UK and the US.
The mission is a unique one, since the satellites were launched in two orbits. Thirty of the satellites were launched in an orbit 550 km about, and one 359-km above the Earth. This was done through what scientists call the “multiple burn technology” under which the rocket’s engine is switched off and then switched on to control its height.
magnetic equator is defined as the line around the earth where the magnetic field is horizontal, or parallel to the earth‘s surface. It does not circle the earth as a smooth line like the geographic equator, but instead it meanders north and south.
SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is the largest airborne observatory in the world. It consists of an extensively modified Boeing aircraft carrying a reflecting telescope with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters. The project is implemented by NASA and German Aerospace Center (DLR). Many objects in space emit almost all their energy at infrared wavelengths. Often, they are invisible when observed in ordinary visible light. Thus SOFIA observes universe in infrared wavelengths to get the expanded views. It is preparing for its 2018 campaign for observing Saturn‘s giant moon Titan.
- Tabby’s StarTabby‘s star is the ―most mysterious star in the universe as it kept dimming and brightening irregularly, following no pattern. Officially called KIC 8462852, the star is 1,000 light years away from the Earth and 1,000 degrees hotter than the Sun.
- NASA‟s Mission to Explore Ionosphere NASA has announced two missions to explore the little-understood area of 96 km above Earth‘s surface. The two missions Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) and Ionospheric Connection Explorer(ICON) will team up to explore the ionosphere. ICON will be in low-Earth orbit, at 560 km above Earth, while GOLD will be in a geostationary orbit over the Western Hemisphere, about 35,398 km above the planet‘s surface. It will help in full-disk view of the ionosphere and the upper atmosphere beneath it every half hour.
- Farthest known Galaxy NASA has spotted the farthest known galaxy in the universe, a primitive cluster of stars just 500 million years old. The galaxy was named SPT0615-JD. Preliminary analysis suggests that the galaxy is less than 2,500 light-years across.
- NASA‟s Kilopower Project NASA has invented a small nuclear reactor Kilopower, It can generate a reliable power supply by using uranium-235 reactor core. This power system could provide up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power enough to run two average households continuously for at least 10 years. This reactor will be used for electronic propulsion systems and for providing safe and plentiful energy for future robotic and human missions for Mars and beyond.
- Spike Missile India has cancelled a $ 500 million deal to buy 1,600 Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel. This is because of decision of defence ministry to procure world-class missile from state owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) by 2021.
- Barak Missile India is now planning a deal for 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles from the Israeli firm coasting around $70 million. These missiles are surface to air missiles designed to be used as a ship-borne anti-missile defence system against anti-ship missiles. Barak also known as LR-SAM or as MR-SAMis an Indian-Israeli surface-to-air missile (SAM), both maritime and land-based versions of the Barak exist. Barak 8 was jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), India’s Defence Research &Development Organisation (DRDO).
- KAB-1500 bombs India has announced its first proposal for procurement of 240 KAB-1500 bombs,from Russia. It is a precision guided weapon which uses laser for precision guidance. It will be used in IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets. It is designed to destroy ground targets such as railway lines, ammunition depots, bridges, military facilities and ships. The bomb has folding fins that allow it to manoeuvre while being guided to the target.
- AGNI- V Recently India test-fired Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile in its final operational configuration.
- Largest prime number A very big number over 23 million digits long has discovered to be the ―largest known prime number‖. Prime number are used in Cryptography
- Pratyush Pratyush is an array of computers recently unveiled in India. It can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops. One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system. The machines will be installed at two government institutes: 4.0 petaflops HPC facility at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune & 2.8 petaflops facility at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, Noida Pratyush is also the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world dedicated for weather and climate research. A key function of the machine‘s computing power would be monsoon forecasting using a dynamical model. With the new system, it would be possible to map regions in India at a resolution of 3 km and the globe at 12 km.
- Mihir Mihir‘ (meaning ‗Sun‘) a High Performance Computer (HPC) System has been installed at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF). This HPC facility will be India‘s largest HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance. The new HPC facility is expected to improve the following services: 1. Weather forecasts for predicting extreme weather events. 2. High resolution seasonal/extended range forecasts of active/break spells of Monsoon. 3. Very high resolution prediction of cyclones with more accuracy and lead time. 4. Ocean state forecasts like marine water quality forecasts and Tsunami forecasts. 5. Air quality forecasts for various cities.
- International Termination Charges (ITC) The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) cut termination charges for international incoming calls to Land line and wireless connections. International termination charges (ITC) are payable by an international long-distance operator (ILDO), which carries calls from outside the country, to an access provider in the country in whose network the call terminates. ITC is one of the source of foreign earnings for the country.
India has missed the 2017 deadline for elimination of Kala Azar. Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.
- Funaria Hygrometrica Scientists have identified a type of moss that can efficiently absorb a large amount of lead, providing a green alternative for decontaminating polluted water and soil. Funaria hygrometrica is the moss which uses phytoremediation, it is known to grow well in sites contaminated with metals like copper, zinc, and lead. Phytoremediation is a method that uses photosynthesising organisms to clean up soil or water contamination. The Moss cells can absorbed lead up to 74 per cent of their dry weight.
Bharat Biotech‘s diarrhea vaccine ROTAVAC gets WHO pre-qualification The WHO pre-qualification paves the way for health and humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF to procure it for public health vaccination programs across the world. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea and kills more than 200,000 children every year. ROTAVC is also included in the Universal Immunization Program .
- Pulse Polio Immunisation (PPI) As part of the National Immunization Day observed on 28 January, PPI programmed for 2018 was launched. More than 17 crore children of less than 5 years across the country will be given polio drops. The polio virus causes paralysis, known as an acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). This is characterized by sudden muscle weakness, and fever in one or more limbs. India reported its last polio case in 2011 and is also declared polio-free by WHO in 2014.
However, the immunization drive continues as polio virus is still circulating in other parts of the world. The injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) has also been introduced recently into the Universal ImmunizationProgrammed. IPV is an injectable form of polio vaccine administered alone or in combination with other vaccines including the OPV (oral polio vaccine).
- The Rajasthan government has sounded an alert in the State after more than 400 people were diagnosed positive for the swine flu virus. Nearly 11,721 people were tested for swine flu between January 1, 2017 to December 19, 2017, of which 3,214 were confirmed positive. Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. H1N1 is a flu virus. When it was first detected in 2009, it was called “swine flu” because the virus was similar to those found in pigs.
- Typbar TCV is reportedly the world’s first typhoid vaccine clinically proven for use on recipients who can be as young as six months. A single dose offers 87% protective efficacy against typhoid. Typhoid fever is caused by food and water contaminated by Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) bacteria. The symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation and sometimes diarrhoea. According to the World Health Organisation, typhoid affects about 21 million people per year and kills around 222,000.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pre-qualified its typhoid conjugate vaccine. The new vaccine was found to have given a longer immunity from typhoid than older vaccines and it required fewer doses for childhood immunisation.
The pre-qualification by WHO allows for the sale of the vaccines to UN agencies such as UNICEF and GAVI. Created in 2000, Gavi is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. Gavi brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.
- An outbreak of H5 Avian Influenza has been reported from Dasarahalli village from Bengaluru Urban District in Karnataka. On the directions of the Centre, the Karnataka Government has notified the outbreak and initiated the control and containment operations.
Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds with a tendency of causing large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. Although most influenza viruses do not infect humans, A (H5N1) and A (H7N9) have caused serious infections in people.
Symptoms: Fever, cough, sore throat, muscle, body aches, nausea can lead to severe breathing problems, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Treatment: Human infections with bird flu viruses usually can be treated with the same prescription drugs that are used to treat human seasonal flu viruses.
Risk factors involved: According to WHO, a few A (H5N1) human cases have been linked to consumption of dishes made of raw, contaminated poultry blood. However, slaughter, handling carcasses of the infected poultry, and preparing poultry for daily consumption in households are likely to be risk factors.
- Tourette’s syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder that causes people to make sudden repetitive movements or sounds which aren’t controlled (known as tics). For example, an individual with Tourette’s syndrome may blink rapidly, clear their throat, shrug, turn heads and make controllable hand movements or blurt out words they don’t intend to. Though these tics can be suppressed, it is often physically exhausting to do so. One, in hundred children suffers from Tourette’s, which is the same as the number of children with autism.
Causes: Though the exact cause of the Tourette’s syndrome is unknown, it is believed to be caused both by genetic and environmental factors.
For patients with Tourette syndrome, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is associated with symptomatic improvement, according to a study. The procedure, called deep brain stimulation (DBS), improved tic severity by nearly half in 171 patients with uncontrolled Tourette symptoms at 31 hospitals in 10 countries.
With DBS, brain surgeons run thin electric leads to specific regions of the basal ganglia, a cluster of nerves in the brain related to motor control and behaviour. Doctors then apply electricity to the brain circuits they’ve most closely linked to Tourette, to try to control the patient’s tics. However, the procedure still needs more work. More than a third of patients experienced adverse events, most often slurred speech or a pins-and-needles sensation.
- According to a recent study, in India, more than 10 million people suffer from a self-diagnosable ailment called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Its milder version usually resolves itself within months.
SAD occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. Sometimes, it is mistaken to be a “lighter” version of depression, which is untrue. It is a different version of the same illness and people with SAD are just as ill as people with major depression, according to psychiatrists.
Symptoms include fatigue, depression, a feeling of hopelessness and social withdrawal.
Women are overwhelmingly more susceptible to SAD than men. Statistics released by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) show that SAD occurs four times more often in women than in men. The age of onset is estimated to be between 18 and 30 years but can affect anyone irrespective of age.
- NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission(2018) will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
- Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have for the first time identified microbes in space without having to samples back to Earth for tests.
The ability to identify microbes in space could aid in the ability to diagnose and treat astronaut ailments in real time, as well as assisting in the identification of DNA-based life on other planets.
China announced its plans to launch a lunar probe in 2018 to achieve the world’s first soft landing on the far side of the moon to showcase its ambitious space programme. The mission is called Chang’e 4 project.
Chang’e 4 is the fourth mission in the country’s lunar mission series which is being named after the Chinese moon goddess.According to experts, landing on the far side of the moon is undoubtedly one of the most challenging missions ever launched by any of the world’s superpowers. The far side of the moon known as ‘South Pole-Aitken Basin’ still remains a mystery among space scientists and by sending a probe there, China will outdo the historical achievements of the US and USSR.
Communication difficulties will be the main problem faced by the Chinese team as they try to land on the other side of the moon. China is expected to consider using options like radio telescopes developed by Heino Falcke of Radboud University to communicate in the absence of a transmitting medium.
Ethereum has hit $1,000 for the first time, while investors eye at alternative currencies such as ripple, ethereum and litecoin besides bitcoin. Earlier Ethereum was the second-most valued currency after bitcoin, but now ripple has outpaced it lately. Bitcoin, still rules the world of digital currencies with a whopping market cap of $280 billion. Unlike most blockchains, Ethereum’s has an added component that’s particularly attractive to enterprise clients: smart contracts. These protocols help to verify, facilitate, or enforce the negotiation of a contract in an efficient and secure manner.
- Health issues for astronauts to overcome:
The rapid change of gravity in space can cause a loss of bone density of up to 1% a month. This could lead to osteoporosis-related fractures and long-term health problems.
Lack of gravity can also cause body fluids to shift upwards, which may cause swelling, high-blood pressure and vision and organ problems.
Living in isolation and confinement can cause behavioural and psychological issues. Without a natural body clock, depression and sleep disorders can develop.
A closed environment also means microbes in the body can transfer more easily.
Radiation exposure is far higher in space than it is on Earth. Space radiation can also cause sickness and fatigue. The ISS sits just within the protective field on Earth to reduce risks, but missions further afield will need to overcome this.
- Increase in height : temporarily due to stretching of back bone.
- NASA is planning to launch a small telescope into the Earth’s orbit that will monitor the flares and sunspots of small stars to assess how habitable the environment is for planets orbiting them. The spacecraft is known as the Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat, or SPARCS.
- James webb space telescope:
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest space telescope ever built. It is an international collaboration between of about 17 countries including NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). When it is launched in 2019, it will be
the world’s biggest and most powerful telescope. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope the world’s premier infrared space observatory of the next decade — has successfully completed critical testing in a massive thermal vacuum chamber, enabling it to function properly in the extremely cold and airless environment in space in 2019.
- NASA has invented a new type of autonomous space navigation that could see human-made spacecraft heading into the far reaches of the Solar System, and even farther – by using pulsars as guide stars. It’s called Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology, or SEXTANT (named after an 18th century nautical navigation instrument).
SEXTANT could be used to calculate the location of planetary satellites far from the range of Earth’s GPS satellites, and assist on human spaceflight missions, such as the space agency’s planned Mars mission.
The technology uses X-ray technology to see millisecond pulsars, using them much like a GPS uses satellites. The electromagnetic radiation beaming from pulsars is most visible in the X-ray spectrum, which is why NASA’s engineers chose to employ X-ray detection in SEXTANT.
- Intellectual Property (IP) Competition (IPrism) for college and university students. The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), in collaboration with ASSOCHAM and ERICSSON India, has launched this competition.
- Maharashtra has unveiled a public cloud policy, virtually mandating its departments to shift their data storage onto the cloud, which intends to make them available for free to the general public. The policy, a first by any State, will create a $2 billion opportunity for the industry. Under the framework, the government will make it mandatory for the data to be stored within the country.
- iCreate is an independent centre
created with the objective of facilitating entrepreneurship through a blend of creativity, innovation, engineering, product design and leveraging emerging technologies to deal with major issues such as food security, water, connectivity, cybersecurity, IT and electronics, energy, bio-medical equipment and devices etc.
Aim: iCreate aims to develop an ecosystem in India to generate quality entrepreneurs.
is a near-term technology effort to develop preliminary concepts and technologies that could be used for an affordable fission nuclear power system to enable long-duration stays on planetary surfaces.
- Ind AS or Indian Accounting Standards
govern the accounting and recording of financial transactions as well as the presentation of statements such as profit and loss account and balance sheet of a company. For long, there has been a heated debate about Indian companies moving to the globally accepted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for their accounts. But firms have resisted this shift, stating that this will lead too many changes in the capture and reporting of their numbers. Ind AS has been evolved as a compromise formula that tries to harmonise Indian accounting rules with the IFRS.
The implementation of IndAS for public sector banks requires an amendment to the Banking Regulation Act. The schedule in BR Act relating to financial statement disclosures needs to be changed to the IndAS format.
Section 29 of the BR Act deals with the accounts and balance sheets of public sector banks. Private sector banks are covered by the Companies Act, which is based on the new accounting standards.
Banks and non-banking financial companies currently follow Indian generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) standards. Other corporate entities started complying with IndAS with effect from 1 April 2016. The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may postpone the implementation of new accounting standards for banks because of the legislative changes and additional capital requirements the process would entail.
- Shanghai scientists have created two genetically identical long-tailed macaques. The monkeys are named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, a version of the Chinese adjective Zhonghua which means the “Chinese nation” or “people.” This is for the first time that scientists have created cloned primates using the same complicated cloning technique that made Dolly the sheep in 1996. The technique is called somatic cell transfer, or SCNT. Under this technique, scientists reconstruct an unfertilized egg. The researchers remove the egg’s nucleus — the part of the cell that contains most of its genetic information– and replace it with the nucleus from another cell. It’s then stimulated to develop into an embryo, which is transplanted into a surrogate mother.
- RemoveDEBRIS is aimed at performing key Active Debris Removal (ADR) technology demonstrations (e.g capture, deorbiting) representative of an operational scenario during a low-cost mission using novel key technologies for ADR. The project is co-ordinated by the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, UK, and involves the
collaboration of a number of mission partners
- Explorer 1, a two-metre long satellite carrying a scientific instrument, was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on 31 January 1958. Explorer 1 was around two metres in length. United States is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the launch of the first spacecraft sent into space. Explorer 1 was not the first object launched into space, as almost a year earlier the USSR successfully put a small metal satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit. A month later, they also successfully launched a second, Sputnik 2.
- Retrotransposons: They are the recently identified special genes which could help Symbiodinium adapt more rapidly to heat stress. Symbiodinium is a unicellular algae that provides its coral host with photosynthetic products in return for nutrients and shelter.
- Arunachal Pradesh would get its first Film and Television Institute, being set up by the Union Government as part of tapping the potential of the Northeastern region. This would be the second such one in the country. The first Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) was set up in Pune, an autonomous institute operating under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
- Zuma Mission: It is the US government’s secret satellite mission. SpaceX has successfully launched the secretive Zuma mission from Cape Canaveral.
- Matunga Railway Station in Mumbai Division of Central Railway has entered Limca Book of Records 2018 for posting all women staff on the station.
- Charlie-435 It is the state-of-the-art patrol vessel of the Indian Coast Guard which was commissioned at Karaikal in the Union Territory of Puducherry recently. The patrol vessel is equipped with modern navigation and communication systems.
- The Indian Naval Ships Nirbhik and Nirghat have been decommissioned at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, after a glorious 30 and 28 years respectively in the service of the nation.
- The Energy Globe World Award is an international award in the field of environment instituted by the Energy Globe Foundation annually to recognise projects that make careful and economical use of resources and employ alternative energy sources. Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has won the 18th Energy Globe World Award -2017 as the one and only organisation from India. KISS won the award in ‘Fire’ Category for green initiatives undertaken by this institute that reduces the ecological footprint for large scale cooking.
- China has built the world’s largest air purifier in an attempt to curb the air pollution. The 100 meters high tower is located in the city of Xian in Shaanxi province of northern China. In the initial experiments, the tower was successful in reducing the smog on severely polluted days to moderate levels.
- Rocker Lab, a U.S. space startup, has become the first ever private company to successfully send satellites into orbit without the help of a government agency, paving the way for a “new era” of commercial access to space. Rocket Lab, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, deployed three satellites on only the second test launch of its Electron orbital launch vehicle, Still Testing.
- Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference was recently held under the auspices of the 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Germany. The conference affirmed to the role of ICT technologies as an important tool to agriculture, for example in improving water-use efficiency.
- SARAS PT1N
It is the new upgraded version of the Saras plane. It is a 14-seater plane developed by the National Aeronautics Laboratories (NAL). The flight recently completed a successful first flight in its new avatar
- India’s first floating market is now open in Kolkata’s Patuli area in West Bengal. Set up by the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), the market functions solely on boats at the lake in Patuli, where shopkeepers sell fruits, vegetables, fish among other produce.
- The Sunjwan Army camp near Chenni in Jammu was recently attacked suspectedly by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants.
- SpaceX Falcon Heavy
- SpaceX‘s big new rocket Falcon Heavy, carrying a red sports car was launched successfully on its first test flight. Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket in the world. • It can lift about twice the payload at one third of the cost by Delta 4 rocket which was the most powerful rocket till now.
- The US Chamber of Commerce’s intellectual property rights advocacy arm, Global Innovation Policy Centre, has released Intellectual Property Index. The index ranks economies based on 40 unique indicators that benchmark activity critical to innovation development surrounding patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets protection. The US tops the list with 37.98 points, followed by United Kingdom (37.97) and Sweden (37.03). New Delhi, however, gives no formal recognition to such rankings and has in the past even dismissed criticism heaped on its IPR regime by the US government as part of its annual US 301 report.
Performance of India:
India has improved its performance both in relative and absolute terms. The index showed that India ranked 44th of 50 economies — a jump from 43rd of 45 economies one year ago — improving its performance both in
relative and absolute terms.