Current Affairs Analysis

21st August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre; Swachh Survekshan Survey 2020; TRIFOOD Project; TRIFED; Online pharmacy in India; Flavonoids; Tuberculosis; Chikungunya; India Development Update 2020; Why does a Zebra have stripes; Puma; Lingaraj Temple; Research on Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage; The Corona Fighters; Chemosynthesis; Indian Bison; etc.
By IASToppers
August 21, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Swachh Survekshan Survey 2020
  • TRIFOOD Project

Issues related to Health & Education

  • How Online pharmacy space is regulated in India?
  • Synthetic path to extract Flavonoids

Economy

  • India Development Update 2020

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Why does a Zebra have stripes?
  • Pumas adapt behaviour to save energy

Art & Culture

  • Odisha to give facelift to Lingaraj Temple

Science & Technology

  • Research on Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage

Key Facts for Prelims

  • India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre
  • The Corona Fighters
  • Chemosynthesis
  • Indian Bison

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Government Schemes & Policies

Swachh Survekshan Survey 2020

As per the Swachh Survekshan 2020 survey results, Indore in Madhya Pradesh retained its position as the cleanest city in India for the fourth consecutive year.

Major Highlights:

  • This is the fifth edition of the survey which was introduced by PM Modi in January 2016.
  • The survey was held by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • The survey of sanitation in over 4,000 cities was carried out earlier this year over 28 days.
  • A total of 1.9 crore citizens across 4,242 cities of the country participated in the survey.

Rankings:

  • Among large cities having population of more than 1 lakh:
  • 1st: Indore, Madhya Pradesh
  • 2nd: Surat, Gujarat
  • 3rd: Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Among smaller cities, with population under 1 lakh: Top three cities – Karad, Sasvad and Lonavala (all from Maharashtra).
  • Varanasi: the best Ganga town.
  • Chhattisgarh was ranked the cleanest State out of those with over 100 cities.
  • Jharkhand was the cleanest among those with less than 100 urban local bodies (ULBs) or cities.

About Swachh Survekshan:

  • The Swachh Survekshan is conducted to study the progress of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) and rank cities based on cleanliness and sanitation parameters.
  • Four parameters were used for arriving at the overall ranking of a city – certifications (1,500), direct observation (1,500), service level progress (1,500) and citizen feedback (1,500).

 [Ref: Indian Express; The Hindu]

TRIFOOD Project

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs have e-launched the tertiary processing centres of TRIFOOD Project of TRIFED.

Aim:

  • To enhance the income of tribals through better utilization and value addition to the Minor Forest Produce (MFPs) collected.

Major Highlights:

  • The initiative is being implemented by TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs in association with Ministry of Food Processing (MoFPI),
  • To achieve the aim of TRIFOOD, two Minor Forest Produce (MFP) processing units will be set up.
  • The two units in Raigad, Maharashtra and Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh will be used for value addition to mahua, amla, custard apple and jamun and will produce mahua drink, amla juice, candy, jamun juice and custard apple pulp.
  • These would be made into mahua drink, amla juice, candy, pure honey, ginger-garlic paste and fruit and vegetable pulp.
  • The fully processed products will be sold across the country in Tribes India outlets, and franchisee stores.

Significance:

  • This will significantly help in reviving the economic conditions of tribal food gatherers.
  • This will help in the further conservation of the biodiversity of tribal life.
  • The project will help in promoting tribal entrepreneurship.

TRIFED:

  • TRIFED is the nodal agency for the upliftment of the tribals.
  • TRIFED stands for Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India.
  • It was established in 1987 and became operational from April 1988.
  • The basic objective is to provide good price of the Minor Forest Produce collected by the tribes of the country.
  • It is a national level apex organization functioning under administrative control of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Initiatives:

  • TRIFED works on the following initiatives: Van Dhan Yojana, Van Dhan Internship Programme, Tech For Tribals program, TRIFOOD Scheme, Development of Value Chain, Tribal fairs etc.
  • TRIFED started the procurement and marketing of tribal art and craft items through its first retail outlet called TRIBES INDIA in New Delhi in 1999.
  • TRIFED has launched its own Virtual office on its Foundation Day, August 6, 2020.
  • The TRIFED Virtual office network has 81 online workstations and 100 additional converging State and agency workstations.
  • It will help the team of TRIFED to work on Mission-mode towards bringing the tribal people closer to mainstream development.

 [Ref: PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

How Online pharmacy space is regulated in India?

India’s online pharmacy market has recently witnessed Reliance Retail picking up majority stake in Netmeds, and PharmEasy merged with Medlife.

  • And the launch of e-commerce giant Amazon’s online drug delivery services.

E-pharmacies:

  • E-pharmacy, or online pharmacy takes an order of medicines over the Internet and then delivers it to a patient through dedicated delivery companies.
  • From the first pioneering steps in 2015, the e-pharmacy industry has crossed Rs 3500 Cr in 2018 and is estimated to touch Rs 25000 Cr in 2022.
  • The growth is mainly on account of the challenges faced by physical pharmacies.
  • To require a large-scale presence, E-pharmacies need either huge investments or consolidation.

Pharmacy market in India:

  • India’s is a fragmented market with over 8 lakh pharmacies.
  • Traditional retailers account for almost 85% of the country’s total pharmaceutical sales.
  • Currently, companies in Indian e-pharmacy space mainly operate three business models – marketplace, inventory-led hybrid (offline/online) and franchise-led hybrid (offline/online) depending on the way the supply chain is structured.

Rules governing the pharmacy sector:

  • The government had floated draft regulations for e-pharmacies but were never structured.
  • The lack of proper rules governing the online pharmacy space has kept large investments at bay.
  • However, it has allowed the existing players in the market to grow and overcome the challenges faced by traditional retailers.
  • India’s drug regulations require retailers to get a licence to dispense medicines from the state in which they are being sold.

What do the draft e-pharmacy regulations propose?

  • In the absence of clear regulations, online pharmacies currently operate as marketplaces and cater to patients as a platform for ordering medicines from sellers that adhere to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules of India.
  • Other regulations, like the Information Technology Act and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, also apply.
  • Regulations for online pharmacy players have been in the works since 2016 but are yet to come out.
  • The draft had proposed to allow e-pharmacies to get a central licence to operate from the country’s apex drug regulator, which could be used to allow it to operate across the country.
  • The draft defined e-pharmacies to distribute, sell and stock medicines.
  • The proposed regulations prevent them from selling habit-forming drugs like cough syrups specified in Schedule X of Indian drug regulations.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Synthetic path to extract Flavonoids

Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute Pune have come up with first synthetic route for producing flavonoids molecules related to the treatment of Tuberculosis and Chikungunya.

Major Highlights:

  • Flavonoid molecules are found to inhibit tuberculosis and chikungunya.
  • So far they have been isolated from plants.
  • For the first time, scientists have synthesized the molecules in the lab.
  • This paves the path for ensuring their availability at all seasons without overexploiting the medicinal plants that contain them.

Flavonoids:

  • Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites that provide health benefits through cell signalling pathways and antioxidant effects.
  • These molecules are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Flavonoids are mostly present in tomato, onion, lettuce, grape, apple, strawberry, peach, and other vegetables.
  • A diet rich in flavonoids protects us from diseases related to heart, liver, kidney, brain, and other infectious diseases.

Tuberculosis:

  • Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that affects the lungs.
  • TB is spread from person to person through the air.
  • Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.
  • Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death.
  • 7.9% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.
  • Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
  • Sustainable Development Goal 3.3 includes a target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030.
  • National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Tuberculosis Elimination seeks to eliminate TB in India by 2025.

Chikungunya:

  • Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus caused by the bite of Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
  • It causes a disease characterised by fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet.
  • Symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
  • It has frequent outbreaks in tropical countries of Africa and Southeast Asia.

 [Ref: PIB]

Economy

India Development Update 2020

The World Bank has projected a steeper contraction in India’s economy than the 3.2% it had forecasted for the current financial year 2020-21.

Major Highlights:

  • In May, the World Bank had projected Indian economy to contract by 3.2% in FY 2020-21, and predicted rebound slowly in the next fiscal.
  • It noted that although a rebound is expected in FY 2021-22, it will take place very slowly.
  • It reflected the impact of the crisis not only on India’s current growth but also on potential output, which is expected to return to trend only over the next several quarters.
  • As per the report, countries that invest in sectoral reforms — infrastructure, labour and land, human capital — and ensure that their national systems are connected to the global value chains, are more likely to respond to uncertainties and are better placed to take advantage of any global shifts.
  • The disinvestment plans of Indian government in the given unprecedented financial market volatility are expected to proceed more slowly in the near-term.
  • As a result, the fiscal deficit and debt of the central government are likely to increase sharply over the next two years.
[Ref: Times Now]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Why does a Zebra have stripes?

A recent study extensively looks into one possible reason why a zebra has stripes is that these help confuse blood-sucking parasites.

Major ideas proposed over the years:

1. Camouflage:

  • The stripes provide the zebra with camouflage from predators by creating a kind of optical illusion.
  • The stripes on a zebra blends with the lines of the tall grass around it.
  • This might not work for a human observer, but zebra’s main predator, lion is colour-blind.
  • A lion would not be able to differentiate between zebra stripes and lines of grass.

2. Temperature regulation:

  • By this theory, the stripes help a zebra keep cool in the heat.
  • The temperature of the black stripes is considerably warmer than that of the white stripes.
  • These temperature differences cause air flows between the black and white stripes, which could help cool the zebras by speeding up evaporation of sweat.

3. Mutual recognition:

  • Every individual zebra has a unique pattern of stripes, just like every human has a unique set of fingerprints.
  • This hypothesis goes that the unique stripes help individual zebras recognise one another.

4. Confusing bloodsuckers:

  • According to the latest theory, the black and white stripes create an optical illusion (barber-pole effect) for flies and other parasites that would have sucked on the zebra’s blood.
  • Because of the stripes, flies miscalculate the moment when and speed at which they should land on the zebra.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Pumas adapt behaviour to save energy

As per a new study, Pumas have an ability to assess their surrounding terrain and accordingly use a suitable walking gait to conserve energy.

  • The cats travel more slowly while ascending or descending mountains to conserve energy.

Puma:

  • Puma is also known as mountain lions or cougars.
  • It is the top feline predator, native to North and South Americas.
  • Its native range is diminishing due to increasing agriculture and urbanisation.
  • Threats: Road collisions, fires and poaching of their wild prey.
  • IUCN status: Least Concern
[Ref: DownToEarth]

Art & Culture

Odisha to give facelift to Lingaraj Temple

The Odisha government has announced to give a facelift to the 11th century Lingaraj Temple, akin to its pre-350-year structural status.

Major Highlights:

  • A high-level committee has approved the redevelopment plan of peripheral area of the 55-metre-tall temple, known as Ekamravan Kshetra in Bhubaneswar.
  • The redevelopment will take place over 66 acres of land surrounding the temple.
  • At present, space in front of the temple could barely accommodate 10,000 to 15,000 devotees during Shivratri congregation.
  • Upon revamping of adjoining areas of temple, 2 lakh devotees could easily congregate in the space.
  • The State government had proposed to spend a total of ₹700 crores for the temple project.

Lingaraj Temple:

  • Lingaraja Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
  • the 11th century temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • The masterpiece in Kalinga Architecture is believed to be built by King Yayati I from Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  • The temple is built in Deula style (local style of Odisha temple in Eastern India).
  • It has four components: Vimana (structure containing sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), Natamandira (festival hall) and Bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.
  • The presiding deity of the temple is called Hari-Hara (means Vishnu-Shiva) which represents the reconciliation of Shaivism and Vaishnavism.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Science & Technology

Research on Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has invited proposals from Indians for research in the area of carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS).

Aim:

  • To give a boost to a global initiative on clean energy innovations.

Major Highlights:

  • The DST has invited proposals from Indian researchers in the area of CCUS under Accelerating CCUS Technologies (ACT) in collaboration with other ACT member countries.
  • The ACT is seeking innovative projects that range from smaller research projects to new or already existing pilot and demonstration facility sites.
  • Each project’s consortium must have the required expertise to undertake research and development within the specified themes.
  • The intention of ACT is to facilitate the emergence of CCUS by accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted financing of innovation and research activities.
  • ACT will address the technological, environmental, social, and economic challenges required to accelerate CCUS.

Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage:

  • CCUS is one of the identified innovation challenges in the Mission Innovation Programme.
  • It is a global initiative of 24 countries and European Union to accelerate global clean energy innovation in DST is an active partner.
  • The DST has already funded 19 R&D projects in the area of CCUS under the MI umbrella, partnering with 13 MI countries.
[Ref: TOI]

Key Facts for Prelims

India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre

Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and India Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre are collaborating to promote the disruptive potential of Indian entrepreneurs, and boost the vibrant start-up ecosystem across the country.

About ISHIC:

  • India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre is a collaboration between AIIMS Delhi, AIIMS Jodhpur and Business Sweden.
  • Aim: To create an ecosystem of open innovation.
  • It is built under strategic guidance from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Sweden’s Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and Embassy of Sweden in India.
  • The Innovation centre has launched its first healthcare innovation challenge to collaborate with partners on the Innovation Centre platform.
  • It aims to solve some of the problems in the healthcare delivery landscape of India.

The Corona Fighters

  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare launched an interactive first-of-its-kind game on COVID-19 -The Corona Fighters.
  • The uniquely designed game presents a new and extremely creative way to teach people the right tools and behaviours to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It was designed to influence the players’ actions in the real world, reminding them to take the right precautions and escape infection.
  • Till we get a vaccine for COVID-19, the appropriate behaviours will serve as a potent social vaccine and keep us protected and safe.

Chemosynthesis

  • A study found that target genes responsible for atmospheric chemosynthesis were abundantly distributed in polar soils of the Antarctic, the Arctic and Tibetan Plateau in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas.
  • Chemosynthesis is the process through which bacteria or other living organisms derive energy — from reactions involving inorganic chemicals — typically in the absence of sunlight.
  • This process is also called carbon fixation, through which inorganic carbon is converted to organic compounds by living organisms and stored as a form of energy.

Indian Bison

  • Gaur or Indian bison is the largest extant bovine native to South and Southeast Asia.
  • They are heavily built with body weight varying between 400 and 1,200 kilograms.
  • Their population has declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extinct in Sri Lanka and probably in Bangladesh also.
  • The first population estimation exercise of the bison was carried out in the Nilgiris Forest Division in February 2020.
  • It has revealed that more than an estimated 2,000 Indian gaurs inhabit the entire division.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable
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