Current Affairs Analysis

15th October 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Bar-tailed godwit; National Awards for Excellence – PSU; Van Dhan Yojana; Gupkar Declaration; TRIFED; Gov Tech-Thon 2020; SILAM and ENFUSER Model; Holography; New Shephard; Karman Line; Stevie Awards for Women in Business; POWERGRID; Zozila Tunnel; Amendments to Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act; Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna; Thalassemia; Sickle Cell disease; Haemoglobinopathies; World Bank-aided STARS project; Hydrogen fuel; World Economic Outlook Reports; LAIRCM-SPS technology; Stock delisting; Epigenetics; Gausatva Kavach; 75th Anniversary of FAO; FAO; India and FAO; Nutri-Sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations; etc.
By IASToppers
October 15, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • New amendments to Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Second phase of Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna
  • Gov Tech-Thon 2020

Issues related to Health & Education

  • World Bank-aided STARS project

Economy

  • 75th Anniversary of FAO
  • How does delisting work?
  • How Covid-19 pandemic has hit GDP growth?

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Bar-tailed godwit
  • SC orders eviction of resorts in Nilgiris elephant corridor
  • SILAM and ENFUSER Model

Defence & Security Issues

  • LAIRCM-SPS technology

Art & Culture

  • Brokpa community
  • National Awards for Excellence – PSU

Science & Technology

  • India Country Status Report on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
  • Using Holographic Imaging to Detect Viruses
  • New Shephard

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Stevie Awards for Women in Business
  • Gupkar Declaration
  • Epigenetics
  • Gausatva Kavach
  • Zozila Tunnel

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Polity & Governance

New amendments to Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act

President of India has given his assent to a Bill passed by the Gujarat Assembly in 2019, which made some amendments to The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act.

  • The law that is popularly known as the ‘Disturbed Areas Act’.

Disturbed Areas Act

  • Under the Disturbed Areas Act, a district Collector can notify a particular area of a city or town as a “disturbed area”.
  • This notification is generally done based on the history of communal riots in the area.
  • The transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area can take place only after the Collector expressly signs off on an application made by the buyer and the seller of the property.
  • In the application, the seller has to attach an affidavit stating that she/he has sold the property of her/his free volition, and that she/he has got a fair market price.
  • Property in a notified disturbed area is transferred without the Collector’s permission, invites imprisonment and a fine.
  • The state government claims it is aiming to check communal polarisation of various parts of the state through the Act.
  • In the earlier version of the Act, the district Collector had to ensure, on the basis of an affidavit by the seller, that she/he had sold the property of her/his own free will, and that she/he had got the fair market price for it.

Need for the amendment

  • The Bill to amend the Act was brought in after a large number of complaints were received about individuals who had skirted the provisions of the Act by taking advantage of legal loopholes in it.
  • It was argued that this could potentially lead to the communal polarisation of a particular locality.
  • Transfer deed registered under the provisions of The Registration Act, in which the Collector’s prior sanction under The DA Act was not required had resulted in clustering or polarisation of localities.

Key provisions in the Amended Act

  • The amended Act gives the Collector more powers to ascertain if there is a likelihood of “polarisation” or “improper clustering” of persons belonging to a particular community.
  • Also, the state government is now authorised to review a decision taken by the Collector.
  • A provision has been made for the creation of a special investigation team (SIT) or committee to probe these aspects.
  • The amended Act enables the state government to form an advisory committee that will advise it on various aspects of the DA Act, including adding new areas to the ‘disturbed areas’ list.
  • A provision to the original Act has been added that gives the state government supervisory authority to review the Collector’s decision related to the Act, even if there is no appeal filed against the same.
  • Redevelopment of the property is allowed only if it is for the owner’s purpose. But if the owner is planning to bring new people on the redeveloped property, she/he has to take the permission of the Collector.
  • The provisions of the Act will not be applicable to the government’s rehabilitation schemes in a disturbed area, where it resettles displaced people.
  • As per the government, earlier only those areas which had witnessed (communal) riots would be notified as ‘disturbed areas’. However, now, the government can notify any area as ‘disturbed area’ where it sees the possibility of a communal riot, or where it sees the possibility of a particular community’s polarization.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Government Schemes & Policies

Second phase of Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna

The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the second phase of Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna for the underprivileged Thalassemic patients.

Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna:

  • The scheme is a Coal India CSR funded Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) program launched in 2017.

Aim:

  • To provide a one-time cure opportunity for Haemoglobinopathies like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease for patients who have a matched family donor.

Details:

  • The Corporate Social Responsibility initiative was targeted to provide financial assistance to a total of 200 patients by providing a package cost not exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs per HSCT.

Thalassemia disease:

  • Thalassemia is a chronic blood disorder due to which a patient cannot make enough hemoglobin found in Red Blood Cells (RBC’s).
  • This leads to Anaemia and patients also require blood transfusions every two to three weeks to survive.
  • These Thalassemia syndromes are caused by inheritance of abnormal (beta) Thalassemia genes from both parents or abnormal beta-Thalassemia gene from one parent and abnormal variant haemoglobin gene from the other parent.

Types of Thalassemia:

1. Thalassemia Minor:

  • The hemoglobin genes are inherited during conception, one from the mother and one from the father.
  • People with a Thalassemia trait in one gene are known as carriers or are said to have thalassemia minor.
  • Thalassemia minor is not a disease and they have only mild anaemia.

2. Thalassemia Major:

  • This is the most severe form of Thalassemia.
  • This occurs when a child inherits two mutated genes, one from each parent.
  • Patients Children with thalassemia major develop the symptoms of severe Anaemia within the first year of life.

Prevalence:

  • There are around 270 million Thalassemia patients in the world.
  • India has the largest number of children with Thalassemia major in the world (about 1 to 1.5 lakhs).
  • The only cure available for such children is bone marrow transplantation (BMT).
  • BMT is difficult and not affordable by the parents of all these children.
  • Hence, the mainstay of treatment is repeated blood transfusions, followed by regular iron chelation therapy to remove the excessive iron overload, consequent to the multiple blood transfusions.

Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre:

  • A Thalassemia Screening and Counselling Centre inaugurated at Indian Red Cross Society’s National Headquarters (IRCS NHQ) Blood Bank on August 2020.
  • The new initiative of IRCS will provide adequate therapy and prevent the birth of children affected with hemoglobinopathies.
  • It will be done through carrier screening, genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis.

Haemoglobinopathies:

  • Haemoglobinopathies are inherited disorders of globin, the protein component of haemoglobin (Hb).
  • It is a genetic defect that results in abnormal structure of one of the globin chains of the haemoglobin molecule.
  • Defects in these genes can produce abnormal haemoglobin, Anaemia and thalassemia syndromes.

Sickle Cell Disease:

  • Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affect red blood cells.
  • SCD cause a person’s normally round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and sickle shaped, stopping them and the oxygen they carry from moving freely around the body.
  • This can cause episodes of severe pain, referred to as sickle cell crises.
  • The cells die early, leaving a shortage of healthy RBC and can block blood flow causing pain, severe bacterial infections, and necrosis (tissue death).
  • People with SCD are at a risk of complications: Stroke, acute chest syndrome, blindness, bone damage and priapism.

Prevalence:

  • The disease in India occurs predominantly in eastern Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarhwestern Odisha and in pockets of the Nilgiri Hills in north Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • In Odisha, the disease is prevalent among tribal communities.
  • The disease is widespread amongst many tribals in India, posing a considerable health burden in several states.

India’s first-ever saviour-sibling through ART:

  • India has experimented to bring in life the first saviour sibling to save her sibling from Thalassemia.
  • The baby girl was conceived by her parents through invitro fertilisation to save her brother by donating her bone marrow.
  • The patient wanted a bone marrow which could match his human leukocyte antigen (HLA).
  • The experiment was started using the assisted reproductive therapy, called pre-implantation genetic testing, for monogenic disorder with HLA matching.
  • The couple underwent cycles of IVF and an embryo was created that perfectly matched the elder sibling’s HLA and later the bone marrow was drawn and transplanted in the patient.
[Ref: PIB; the Hindu]

Gov Tech-Thon 2020

Gov Tech-Thon 2020 is a pan-India 36 hours virtual hackathon.

  • Launched with an aim to incubate new ideas, boost innovation and use technology in agriculture and allied sectors.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), National Informatics Centre (NIC), IEEE Computer Society and Oracle are collaborating for this event.
  • The hackathon is open to students, working professionals, startups, freelance technologists, faculty, and other IT service firms in India.
[Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

World Bank-aided STARS project

The Union Cabinet approved the STARS project under the new National Education Policy to support states in strengthening the school education system.

  • The government has started implementing the new National Education Policy (NEP) and as part of the process it has approved the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project.

About Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project

  • The STARS program builds on the long partnership between India and the World Bank (since 1994), for strengthening public school education and to support the country’s goal of providing ‘Education for All’.
  • Prior to STARS, the Bank had provided a total assistance of more than $3 billion towards this goal.
  • STARS project would be implemented as a new centrally sponsored scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education (MoE).
  • The project covers six states, namely Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha.
  • The STARS project seeks to support the states in developing, implementing, evaluating and improving interventions with direct linkages to improved education outcomes and school to work transition strategies for improved labor market outcomes.
  • The overall focus and components of the STARS project are aligned with the objectives of National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 of Quality Based Learning Outcomes.
  • The project includes an emergency response component to help the government respond to disaster situations which lead to school closures and loss of learning, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • STARS will assist India’s participation in PISA (2022) is a historic strategic decision by the Government of India to obtain data on how India’s learning levels compare globally.
  • Besides this project, it is also envisaged to implement a similar ADB-funded project in five states — Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam.

PARAKH

  • Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development is a major component of the project.
  • It is an independent and autonomous institution, will be set up under the ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy.
  • It will act as a National Assessment Centre.
  • It will also guide standardised testing to monitor learning outcomes at the State and national levels.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

75th Anniversary of FAO

The 75th Anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will be observed on 16th October 2020.

  • PM Modi will release a commemorative coin of Rs 75 denomination to mark the long-standing relation of India with FAO.
  • PM will also dedicate to the Nation 17 recently developed biofortified varieties of 8 crops.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):

  • The FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.
  • It was founded in October 1945 and is composed of 197 member states.
  • It serves both developed and developing countries and acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.
  • It helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.
  • FAO’s overall programme of work is funded by assessed and voluntary contributions by member countries and intergovernmental organizations.
  • Member countries’ assessed contributions comprise the regular budget, set at the biennial FAO Conference.
  • HQ: Rome, Italy.

India and FAO:

  • India is one of the founding members of FAO, it joined FAO in 1945 as a low-income food-deficient country.
  • India’s proposals for the International Year of Pulses in 2016 and the International Year of Millets 2023 have also been endorsed by FAO.
  • With collective efforts of Indian govt. and FAO India’s food grain production rose more than five times from 50 million tons in 1950 to over 257 million tons in 2014-15.
  • Oilseeds production is expected to reach 40 MT soon.
  • India is the world’s largest milk producer, producing over 130 million tons annually.
  • The dairy sector is also one of the largest employers of rural people, especially women.
  • With an annual production of over 10 million tons, India ranks second in global fish production and aquaculture, next only to China.

World Food Day 2020:

  • It is an international day celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honor of the date of the founding of FAO.
  • The main objective of World Food Day is to consider food as a basic and fundamental human right.

Biofortified varieties of crops:

  • The 17 recently developed biofortified varieties of 8 crops to be dedicated to the nation by the PM will have up to 3.0-fold increase in nutritional value.
    • The rice variety CR Dhan 315 has high zinc.
    • Wheat variety HI 1633 rich in protein, iron and zinc.
    • HD 3298 rich in protein and iron.
    • DBW 303 and DDW 48 rich in protein in wheat.
    • Ladhowal Quality Protein Maize Hybrid 1, 2 and 3 rich in lysine and tryptophan.
    • CFMV1 and 2 of finger millet rich in calcium, iron and zinc.
    • CLMV1 of little Millet rich in iron and zinc.
    • Pusa Mustard 32 with low erucic acid.
    • Girnar 4 and 5 of groundnut with enhanced oleic acid.
    • Yam variety Sri Neelima and DA 340 with enhanced zinc, iron and anthocyanin content.
  • These varieties, along with other food ingredients, will transform the normal Indian thali into nutri-thali.
  • The National Agricultural Research System under the leadership of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) developed 53 such varieties during the last five years. 
  • The high zinc rice has been developed from landraces of Assam rice collected from Garo hills and finger millets from Gujarat collections of Dang district.

Nutri-Sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations:

  • ICAR has started Nutri-Sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations (NARI) programme.
  • It is aimed for promoting family farming linking agriculture to nutrition, nutri-smart villages for enhancing nutritional security and location specific nutrition garden models are being developed.
  • It is being done to ensure access to locally available, healthy and diversified diet with adequate macro and micronutrients.

Significance:

  • The production of bio-fortified crop varieties will be upscaled and linked with government programmes of mid-day meal, Anganwadi etc.
  • This will reduce malnutrition and make India Kuposhan Mukta through naturally enriched food ingredients.
  • This will also usher in higher income of farmers and will open new avenues of entrepreneurship development.

Key Facts:

  • Nearly 45% of deaths among children are linked to malnutrition in India.
  • Eliminating malnutrition is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

 [Ref: PIB; FAO]

How does delisting work?

Vedanta has recently announced that it had failed to garner the number of shares required to complete its delisting process from the stock market.

  • Vedanta fell short of garnering the threshold amount of 90% of shares of the company, even after the public records initially showed that offers by shareholders had crossed that threshold.

Delisting process of stocks:

  • Share delisting is the removal of a listed stock from a stock exchange platform, and thus it would no longer be traded on the bourse.
  • Delisting means the permanent removal of a stock from stock exchange.
  • The delisting of a security can be either voluntary or involuntary.
  • In case of involuntary delisting, no opportunities are left for investors.

Key factors that lead to delisting:

  • Bankruptcies, failure to maintain the requirements set by the exchange, takeovers or mergers, stock performance.

How does the delisting process work?

  • The promoters of a company launch a reverse book building process in which shareholders can tender their shares for purchase by promoters at a set price.
  • The discovered price is the price tendered by shareholders at which the company is able to cross the threshold of 90% stake required to complete the delisting process.
  • Therefore, the lowest price at which the company can complete the acquisition of 90% of shares is the discovery price.

Problems in the Vedanta delisting:

  • Vedanta announced that it was able to garner offers for only around 125 crore shares instead of the 134 crore shares required for the delisting process to go through.
  • This discrepancy was a result of certain offers of share sales not being confirmed by foreign shareholders.
  • Foreign shareholders hold shares through a custodian, but custodians are not allowed to participate in the secondary market and therefore bids are tendered by brokers.
  • Therefore, any bids placed by the broker were required to be confirmed by the custodians and in this case there were an unusually large number of unconfirmed bids leading to the company not meeting the 134 crore share threshold.

How can the issue of unconfirmed bids be resolved?

  • SEBI should consider allowing custodians of shares held by foreign investors to bid directly in the reverse book building process, eliminating the issue of needing bids by brokers to be confirmed by custodians.
  • Under the current process, a single large investor may have too much influence over the reverse book building process and SEBI could consider setting price bands to restrict the prices at which shareholder can offer shares in the process.
  • Such a change would require adequate safeguards to ensure that promoters were not able to take advantage of a depressed market situation to delist their companies.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

How Covid-19 pandemic has hit GDP growth?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its World Economic Outlook (WEO) report which stated that Indian economy is projected to contract by a massive 10.3 per cent this year.

Highlights of the report

  • The report gives the economic forecast on a host of indicators up to 2025.
  • It is worth comparing India’s post-pandemic economic trajectory with that of other South Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Pakistan — and with China, the only emerging market economy that is bigger than India.

India’s post-Covid losses the biggest in South Asia

  • India’s GDP will contract by 10.3% this fiscal year. This is the biggest contraction among the countries which have been selected here.
  • Three other countries, Afghanistan (5%), Pakistan (0.4%) and Sri Lanka (4.6%) will also experience a contraction in GDP this year.
  • India will only be the second country apart from Afghanistan, which will not be able to regain its 2019 GDP level even in 2021.
  • IMF’s WEO database also notes India’s economic contraction this year will be its worst since the 1990-91 economic crisis.

Per capita GDP

  • While India’s per capita GDP will fall below Bangladesh’s in 2020-21, it will overtake it marginally once again in 2021-22.
  • India’s per capita GDP is significantly less than that of Bhutan and Sri Lanka in the South Asia region.
  • With a dip in India’s per capita GDP trajectory, Bangladesh will enjoy almost similar per capita GDP levels as India’s up to 2025.
  • In 2021, India’s per capita GDP is predicted to grow at 8.2 percent to USD 2030, as against Bangladesh’s expected growth of 5.4 per cent to USD 1990.

World Economic Outlook Reports:

  • World Economic Outlook Report is a Survey by the IMF, usually published twice a year.
  • It presents IMF economists’ analyses of global economic developments during the near and medium term.
  • The report gives:
    • An overview as well as more detailed analysis of the world economy
    • Consider issues affecting industrial countries, developing countries
    • Economies in transition to market
    • Address topics of pressing current interest
  • The database is created during the biannual WEO exercise, which begins in January and June of each year and results in the April and September/October WEO publication.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Bar-tailed godwit

A bar-tailed godwit has been tracked flying non-stop for more than 12,000km from Alaska to New Zealand in 11 days, setting an astonishing world record for non-stop flight by a bird.

The male bird named 4BBRW in reference to the blue, blue, red and white rings (satellite tag) fitted on its legs flew at speeds of up to 88kmph.

  • The bar-tailed godwit is a large wader which habitats on coastal mudflats and estuaries.
  • It has distinctive red breeding plumage, long legs, and a long upturned bill.
  • Bar-tailed godwits weigh between 190gm and 400gm.
  • They have the aerodynamic build of a jet fighter.
  • They breed on Arctic coasts and tundra from Scandinavia to Alaska, and overwinter on coasts in temperate and tropical regions of the Old World, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The migration of the species across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird.
  • It is also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal.

 [Ref: Hindustan Times]

SC orders eviction of resorts in Nilgiris elephant corridor

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India said it is the state’s duty to protect a “keystone species” like elephants, which are immensely important to the wildlife ecosystem.

The reason for such verdict

  • The elephant corridor is situated in the Masinagudi area near the Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgris district.
  • The apex court directed eviction of 39 resorts in the reserve forest area which were falling in the elephant corridor.
  • The resorts obstructed the free movement of the animals through the passage.
  • According to SC: the precautionary principle makes it mandatory for the state government to anticipate, prevent and attack the causes of environmental degradation.
  • The elephant’s movement have been disrupted in ‘Sigur Plateau’ region.
  • The bench noticed variance in the areas to be freed of encroachments to provide unhindered passage to migrating elephants and appointed a three-member committee to identify areas for securing the corridors.

What is Keystone Species

  • A keystone species is a species which has a disproportionately large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance.
  • It is a concept introduced in 1969 by the zoologist Robert T. Paine.
  • Such species plays a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and numbers of various other species in the community.
  • Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.

Mudumalai National Park

  • The Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also a declared tiger reserve, lies on the northwestern Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains), Tamil Nadu.
  • It shares its boundaries with the states of Karnataka and Kerala.
  • The sanctuary is divided into five ranges – Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.
  • The protected area is home to several endangered species including Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, gaur and Indian leopard.
  • There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered Indian white-rumped vulture and long-billed vulture.
  • In April 2007, the Tamil Nadu state government declared Mudumalai to be a tiger reserve, under section 38V of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • The dominant type of forest found in the Mudumalai National Park is Tropical moist forest habitat. Tropical dry forest and scrub forests are also found here.

Blue Mountains:

  • Situated at a height of approximately 2,500 meters, the Nilgiri Mountain Range, or the “Blue Mountains” is at the junction of the two ghat ranges of the Saharvadi Hills in Tamil Nadu.
  • With Kerala on the west, Mysore on the north and the Coimbatore district on the east and south, Udhagamandalam forms the headquarters of the Nilgiris, popularly known as Ooty.
[Ref: Times of India]

SILAM and ENFUSER Model

New improved air quality models such as System for Integrated modelling of Atmospheric composition (SILAM) and ENFUSER (ENvironmental information FUsion SERvice) of Indian Meteorological Department are able to capture air pollution spike in Delhi and other areas with higher accuracy and at a granular level.

  • Both SILAM and ENFUSER have been developed in technical collaboration with Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

About SILAM Model

  • The SILAM models have been extensively validated against observations over the Indian region.
  • Improved by implementing global emission inventories CAMS-GLOB v2.1 supplemented with EDGAR v4.3.2
  • It has been improved by implementing global emission inventories for the coarse and fine particulate matter at 10 km resolution.
  • The model can provide information about quality atmospheric composition and Wildfire smoke.

About ENFUSER Model

  • ENFUSER model was operationalized to identify pollution hotspots in Delhi and the national capital region.
  • The speciality of the ENFUSER is the high utilization of measurement data such as air quality observations, a detailed description of the road network, buildings, land-use information, high-resolution satellite images, ground elevation and population data.
[Ref: The Hindustan Times]

Defence & Security Issues

LAIRCM-SPS technology

Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) is a programme meant to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles.

  • It increases crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced infrared missile systems.
  • LAIRCM consists of missile warning sensors (MWS), a laser transmitter assembly, control interface unit (CIU) and processors to detect, track, jam and counter incoming infrared missiles.
  • The system detects incoming threats then dispenses flares to distract a missile’s sensors.
  • The number of sensors and transmitter assemblies per aircraft is determined by the size and signature of the aircraft.
  • Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self-Protection Suites (SPS) is installed in Boeing 777 aircraft that Air India has received will be used to fly the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister of India for their international state visits.
  • The prime contractor under the deal was Boeing Company, based in Oklahama.
  • The arrival of these new aircraft will phase out Boeing 747 aircraft.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Art & Culture

Brokpa community

The community calls itself Minaro (meaning Aryan), but are popularly known as Brokpa.

  • Brokpas have maintained their purity of race and culture.
  • Strong social rules and a pride in their ancestry has helped preserve their way of life and genetic uniqueness.
  • Brokpas are practicing Buddhists, but retain concurrent belief in God Lha, to whom they sacrifice goats during their festivals.
  • Brokpa have almost a fanatical attachment to purity. Mountains, trees, water and flowers are considered very pure. Thus, every Brokpa household grows flowers.

Broksarthang

  • Broksarthang is a small village of West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, which is situated at the international border between India and Bhutan.
  • It has 22 households belonging to ‘Brokpa’ community.
  • Brokpasare well known for their Yak rearing and nomadic lifestyle.

Why in news?

  • Until 2019, the Broksarthang village was facing acute shortage of water supply, but under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the State provided treated water supply to all the households of the village in 2020.
  • The scheme is based on piped gravity system.
[Ref: PIB]

National Awards for Excellence – PSU

The Virtual Edition of National Awards for Excellence – PSU held on October 14, 2020.

Highlights of Award

  • The awards were hosted by the World HRD Congress.
  • It recognizes the outstanding initiatives taken by government departments, Public Sector units and industry leaders as they continue playing important roles in realising the country’s vision of a self-reliant economy and Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
  • The awards are a recognition of Shri Pravir Krishna’s contribution towards livelihood generation of the entire tribal community and making them self-reliant – a mission right from his days as a district collector in Bastar, Madhya Pradesh and of the commitment of the team of TRIFED Warriors.
  • The TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd) Warrior won three Awards: two individual awards for the exemplary and inspirational leadership of Shri Pravir Krishna in the CEO of the Year and Visionary Leadership Award categories and a collective award in the Investment in Start-Ups Category.
  • The entire team at TRIFED has been working the past year towards the implementation and success of the Van Dhan Yojana, especially more so during this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. 
  • The mission is to create an Atmanirbhar Tribal India
  • The e-marketplace (market.tribesindia.com) launched on October 2, 2020, that showcases the produce and handicrafts of tribal enterprises from across the country and help them market their produce/ products directly.
  • Connecting 5 lakh tribal enterprises to national and international markets, this is a major leap towards the digitisation of tribal commerce.
[Ref: PIB]

Science & Technology

India Country Status Report on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

The compilation titled ‘India Country Status Report on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells’ was launched by Department of Science and Technology, recently.

  • The compilation was an outcome of a discussions and presentations on various issues for developing programmes and strategies to accelerate the ushering in of hydrogen economy as part of India’s commitment as a participating country in Mission Innovation Renewable and Clean Hydrogen Challenge.
  • Two key developments have contributed to the growth of hydrogen in recent years:
    • Cost of hydrogen supply from renewables has come down and continues to fall, while the urgency of greenhouse gas emission mitigation has increased
    • Many countries have begun to take action to decarbonise their economies

Key facts on Hydrogen fuel

  • Hydrogen has high energy content per unit mass, which is three times higher than gasoline.
  • Since hydrogen technologies can help to reduce global warming, further acceleration of efforts is critical to ensuring a significant share of hydrogen in the energy system in the coming decades.
  • Hydrogen is being used for energy applications with suitable fuel cells. However, in order to make renewable hydrogen a viable option, several key challenges related to materials, including new material development, electrolytes, storage, safety, and standards, need to be addressed.
  • Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges, decarbonise a range of sectors including intensive and long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel, where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions and also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security.
  • In addition, it increases flexibility in power systems.
  • It is one of the best options for storing energy from renewables and looks poised to become the lowest-cost option for storing large quantities of electricity over days, weeks, or even months.
[Ref: PIB]

Using Holographic Imaging to Detect Viruses

Scientists from New York University have proposed a method which uses holographic imaging to detect both viruses and antibodies.

  • The method uses laser beams to record holograms of their test beads.
  • The proposed method is highly accurate, swift as the test can be carried out in under 30 minutes and is highly accurate.
  • Moreover, it can be performed by minimally trained personnel.

Holography

  • Holography is a process that creates three-dimensional images called holograms using laser beams, the properties of interference and diffraction, light intensity recording, and illumination of the recording.
  • Two types of holography are available: Conventional and dynamic.
    • Conventional holography represents static images of 3D objects whereby a change in viewing angle of the viewer results in a change of perspective of the holographic object.
    • Dynamic holograph, meanwhile, adds motion to the 2D or 3D object.

Applications:

  • Used in the education field, where images can be provided richly and interactively.
  • Can be used in 3D Printing.
  • Development of low-cost depth scanners
  • In the field of medicine, holography can be used in CT, MRI and ultrasound scanners.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

New Shephard

New Shephard is a rocket system built by Blue Origin, a company owned by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

  • Named after the astronaut Alan Shephard, the first American to go to space.
  • The system is a fully reusable, vertical takeoff and vertical landing space vehicle.
  • The system consists of two parts, the cabin or capsule and the rocket or the booster.

Karman Line:

  • Karman Line is an internationally recognized, imaginary boundary 100 kilometres (62 miles) above mean sea level which delineates Earth`s atmosphere and space.
[For additional information, please also refer to]
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Mrs Seema Gupta, Director (Operations), Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, under Ministry of Power, has been named the winner of GOLD Stevie® Award in the Lifetime Achievement- Business category in the 17th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

About Stevie Awards for Women in Business

  • The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honour women executives, entrepreneurs, employees, and the companies they run– worldwide. 
  • Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Awards were the different categories under which winners were picked.

About Stevie Award

  • The Stevie® Awards are the world’s premier business awards, created in 2002.
  • There are eight Stevie Awards programs:
    • The American Business Awards
    • The International Business Awards
    • The Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards
    • The German Stevie Awards
    • The Middle East Stevie Awards
    • The Stevie Awards for Great Employers
    • The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service
    • The Stevie Awards for Women in Business
  • Stevie Award judges include many of the world’s most respected executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and business educators. 
  • Sponsors of Stevie Awards programs include many leading B2B marketers, publishers, and government institutions.

About POWERGRID

  • POWERGRID, one of the largest power transmission companies globally, is a Maharatna CPSE under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, Govt. of India.
  • It is the Central Transmission Utility of India.
  • As on September 30, 2020, the Company’s countrywide transmission network comprised of 168,140 km of transmission lines, 252 substations with 419,815 MVA transformation capacity.
  • The vast network has been consistently maintained at >99.5% availability over the years.
[Ref: PIB]

Gupkar Declaration

  • The Declaration was signed by six political parties, including Congress, on August 4, 2019, just a day before the abrogation of J&K’s special status.
  • It called for a joint fight to “safeguard J&K’s special status, Article 370 and 35A”.
  • The declaration was issued at the Gupkar residence of the National Conference chief.
  • The parties had met again in August this year and vowed to fight for restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Epigenetics

Epigenetics researchers have found that a blood test commonly used to detect foetal genetic abnormalities may help predict complications associated with pregnancy even before the symptoms develop.

  • Their preliminary study links certain cell-free DNA signatures to adverse outcomes in pregnancy, including ischemic placental disease and gestational diabetes.
  • The findings show that genetic material shed from the placenta into the mother’s blood (circulating cell-free nucleic acids) during the first trimester of pregnancy could potentially be used to predict these complications.

What is epigenetics?

  • Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work.
  • Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence.
  • While genetic changes can alter which protein is made, epigenetic changes affect gene expression to turn genes “on” and “off.”
  • Example: Your environment and behaviors such as diet and exercise can result in epigenetic changes, it is easy to see the connection between the genes and your behaviors and environment.

Gausatva Kavach

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog unveiled a ‘chip’ made of cow dung which is claimed to reduce radiation from mobile handsets and a safeguard against diseases.

  • The chip named Gausatva Kavach is manufactured by Rajkot-based Shrijee Gaushala.

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog:

  • RKA was set up in 2019 and aimed at the conservation, protection, and development of cows and their progeny.
  • The Aayog comes under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
  • It has started a nation-wide campaign to encourage the use of cow dung-based products during festivals.
  • The campaign launched by the RKA will also boost the Make in India concept and the swadeshi movement.

Zozila Tunnel

  • The Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways will initiate the first blasting for construction-related work at the 14.15 km Zojila tunnel.
  • Located near the Zojila Pass.
  • It is Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel providing connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh.

Significance:

  • Will provide all-weather safe connectivity -earlier was closed for 6 months due to heavy snowfall- between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh regions.
  • Reduce travel time from more than 3 hours to 15 minutes.
  • Make the travel on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches.
  • Facilitate military and civilian movement.
  • The project will generate employment to the locals.
  • All-round economic and socio-cultural integration of the region.

Key Facts:

  • Banihal Pass, Khardung La, Fotu La Pass are some of the important passes in the region.
  • The famous Amarnath shrine is located near the vicinity of Zojilla Pass.
[Ref: PIB]
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