ias-toppers-cambrian-explosion
Current Affairs Analysis

1st & 2nd January 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Cambrian explosion; Key announcements of PM's new year eve's speech; Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations; Agreement on consular access; What are G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)? Shankar Balasubramanian; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 02, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Key announcements of PM Narendra Modi’s new year eve’s speech
  • Decide on safety sealing in six months: HC to Centre

Environment & Ecology

  • Fossil fuel formation linked to rise in atmosphere’s oxygen

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear sites

Science & Technology

  • Drug discovery for GPCR signalling made easy by IIT Kanpur

Key Facts for Prelims

  • British-Indian professor Shankar Balasubramanian knighted

 

Polity & Governance

Key announcements of PM Narendra Modi’s new year eve’s speech

On his New Year eve address to Nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a number of welfare sops to help the poor, the rural sector, small businesses and other citizens to lighten the burden of demonetization.

  • He thanked people for their support and cooperation to his demonetisation drive.

Key announcements:

For the poor:

  • Two new schemes under PM Awaas Yojna. Home loans for poor and middle class people up to Rs 9 lakh will get 4% exemption on interest and 3% for up to Rs 12 lakh loans.

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For farmers:

  • The government will convert 3 crore Kisan Credit cards to RUpay Credit cards.
  • Sixty days interest waiver for farm loans taken from district co-operative banks and co-operative societies.

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For small businesses:

  • Credit guarantee for micro small and medium enterprises to be raised to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore.
  • Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit for small businesses to 25% from 20%.

ias-toppers-for-small-businesses

For senior citizens:

  • 8% interest up to Rs 7.5 lakh deposit by senior citizens in banks.

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For women:

  • Pregnant women across India will be given Rs 6,000 in their bank accounts to take care of initial medical needs.

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[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Decide on safety sealing in six months: HC to Centre

The Bombay High Court has given the Union government six months’ time to take a decision on making safety sealing mandatory for healthcare and hygiene products.

ias-toppers-safety-sealing

  • The court passed the directive while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).
  • The PIL is about pilferage of cosmetics, child care, healthcare and hygiene products.

Concerns:

  • The PIL states that while in transit from manufacturer to consumer, there is a possibility of contamination and adulteration of the products due to the absence of a seal.
  • It also highlights that at present, there are no mandatory provisions to put the seal.

Background:

  • Previously, the State had said that there are no mandatory provisions under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, and hence the sealing of the products cannot be done.
  • However, in October 2014, the Centre said that it is awaiting recommendations from a committee constituted to look into the matter.
  • The government had also said that all creams and lotions are mandatorily sealed under the amended Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 2013.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment & Ecology

Fossil fuel formation linked to rise in atmosphere’s oxygen

A latest study has linked the rapid rise in the atmospheres oxygen roughly 500 million years ago which made advanced animal life possible on Earth to the process that led to the formation of fossil fuels.

Cambrian explosion:

ias-toppers-cambrian-explosion

  • Multicellular life is largely a creation of the “Cambrian explosion”, which coincided with a spike in atmospheric oxygen roughly 500 million years ago. It was during the Cambrian explosion that most of the animals appeared and evolved.

About the study:

  • The new study suggests that the rise in oxygen was associated with a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter – the raw material of coal, oil and natural gas.
  • The study linked the rise in oxygen to a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter.
  • The key is to recognise that sediment storage blocks the oxidation of carbon. Without burial, this oxidation reaction causes dead plant material on Earth’s surface to burn.
  • That causes the carbon it contains, which originated in the atmosphere, to bond with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. And for oxygen to build up in our atmosphere, plant organic matter must be protected from oxidation.
  • And that is exactly what happens when organic matter — the raw material of coal, oil and natural gas — is buried through geologic processes.

Concerns:

  • The researchers warned that today, burning billions of tonnes of stored carbon in fossil fuels is removing large amounts of oxygen from the atmosphere, reversing the pattern that drove the rise in oxygen. And so the oxygen level in the atmosphere falls as the concentration of carbon dioxide rises.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear sites

India and Pakistan recently exchanged for the 26th consecutive year the list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.

INDIA-PAKISTAN-DIPLOMACY

  • Both countries also exchanged the lists of nationals (including civil prisoners and fishermen) of each country lodged in their respective jails as per provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access.

Key facts:

  • The exchange was carried out under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan.
  • This is the 26th consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries after the first list was exchanged on 1 January 1992.
  • This exchange is done every year on 1st of January between them to prevent them from attacking each other’s nuclear facilities.

About Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations:

  • It is bilateral agreement signed between India and Pakistan that bars them from carrying out any surprise attack (or to assist foreign power to attack) on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.
  • Under it, both countries inform each other about their nuclear installations and facilities that need to be covered under the Agreement on 1 January every year.
  • It was signed by then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Pakistani counterpart Benazir Bhutto on 31st December 1988 and entered into force on 27 January 1991.

Agreement on consular access:

  • It was signed between India and Pakistan on May 21, 2008.
  • It facilitates exchange of a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in their jails twice each year on January 1 and July 1.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Science & Technology

Drug discovery for GPCR signalling made easy by IIT Kanpur

A research team from IIT Kanpur has discovered new drugs that bind to G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), which are central to almost every physiological process in our body such as vision, taste, immune response and cardiovascular regulation.

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  • As per the study, the regulation of GPCRs by new drugs can be simpler than generally thought.
  • It can be mediated by engaging only the end of the receptor, which is called the tail of the receptor.

Background:

  • Nearly 50% of prescription drugs currently available in the market for the treatment of blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, obesity, cancer and many other human diseases target GPCR receptors.
  • All these drugs bind to their respective receptors and either activate or stop their signalling.

What are G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)?

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) constitute a large and diverse family of proteins whose primary function is to transduce extracellular stimuli into intracellular signals.

ias-toppers-g-protein-coupled-receptors

  • They are among the largest and most diverse protein families in mammalian genomes.
  • These cell surface receptors act like an inbox for messages in the form of light energy, peptides, lipids, sugars, and proteins. Such messages inform cells about the presence or absence of life-sustaining light or nutrients in their environment, or they convey information sent by other cells.
  • GPCRs are found in the cell membranes of a wide range of organisms, including mammals, plants, microorganisms, and invertebrates.
  • There are numerous different types of GPCRs—some 1,000 types are encoded by the human genome alone—and as a group they respond to a diverse range of substances, including light, hormones, amines, neurotransmitters, and lipids.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

British-Indian professor Shankar Balasubramanian knighted

ias-toppers-shankar-balasubramanian

  • An Indian-origin British professor of chemistry and DNA expert at Cambridge University Shankar Balasubramanian received Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for their contributions.
  • He was recognised for his work as a co-inventor of Next Generation DNA sequencing (also known as Solexa sequencing), described as the most transformational advance in biology and medicine for decades.
  • More recently, he has made major contributions to understanding the role of DNA-quadruplexes in cancer and invented a method for the sequencing of epigenetic modifications.
  • Solexa sequencing is an individual genome to be sequenced in a day or two at a cost of less than 1,000 pounds. Previously, sequencing the human genome took years of work and cost billions.
  • Knighthood is one of the highest honours bestowed upon an individual in the UK and it doesn’t carry any military obligations to the sovereign. Persons receiving it are entitled with title ‘Sir’ before their name.
  • The knighthoods are conferred by the Queen or a member of the Royal Family acting on her behalf in Britain.

 

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