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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19 (ISRC) GroupPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19 (ISRC)

Mains level : Not Much


Several Indian scientists have come together to form a Google group to address some of the concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak has thrown up.

Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19 (ISRC)

  • It is a voluntary group of scientists who regularly discuss the rapidly evolving situation with its dire need for science communication.
  • With nearly 200 members, the group has scientists from institutions such as the NCBS, the IISc, the TIFR, the IITs, the IISERs and many others.
  • The group aims to study existing and available data to bring out analyses that will support the Central, State and local governments in carrying out their tasks.

Self-assigned tasks

  • Several working groups have been formed by scientists.
  • They include one on hoax busting to address disinformation spreading with respect to the coronavirus and one on science popularization to develop material that explains concepts such as home quarantine.
  • Other groups work on resources in Indian languages, mathematical models and apps.

Why such a group?

  • The scientific community has realized their social and democratic responsibility in the current situation, both in terms of analysing the situation and reaching out to the public.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Serological test for COVID-19Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : COVID 19 diagnosis

Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak and its mitigation


The ICMR invited bids for an estimated 10 lakh antibody kits (for serological tests) for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

What are serological tests?

  • Viral infections are mainly identified by two kinds of tests– genetic and serological.
  • Genetic tests can identify infections that are active but cannot be used to detect past infections.
  • To trace how infections like the novel coronavirus have spread so far, it is important to detect people who contracted the disease in the past and have recovered.
  • This is what serological tests seek to determine.

How are the two different?

  • The genetic test is conducted on a swab collected from the back of the throat, a liquid sample from the lower respiratory tract, or a simple saliva sample.
  • For SARS-COV-2, the virus’s RNA is first converted into DNA.
  • By a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA fragments in the sample are copied exponentially — one is copied into two, the two are copied into four, and so on.
  • Unlike genetic tests, which look for RNA in swab samples, serological tests work on antibodies in blood samples. Hence, they are also called ‘antibody tests’.

How serological tests work?

  • Antibodies, or protective proteins produced by the immune system to neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, are present in one’s bloodstream for a considerable period of time after the infection has gone.
  • To disable a pathogen, the antibody latches to a unique protein molecule on pathogen’s surface, called an antigen.
  • Serological tests use antigen molecules to detect the presence of antibodies relevant to the infection.
  • Generally, a blood sample is placed in a test tube that is lined with antigens on the inside. If the relevant antibodies are present, they latch on to the antigens.
  • Such tests are relatively inexpensive, and can display results within a few minutes.
Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

What is Keqiang Index’?Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Keqiang Index

Mains level : NA


China’s GDP numbers which are preferably represented by Keqiang Index has been recently seen in news amid coronavirus outbreak.

Keqiang Index

  • Li Keqiang index or Keqiang index is an economic measurement index created by The Economist to measure China’s economy using three indicators, as reportedly preferred by Li Keqiang.
  • It uses three other indicators:
  1. the railway cargo volume,
  2. electricity consumption and
  3. loans disbursed by banks
  • Li Keqiang currently the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, suggest the index as better economic indicator than official numbers of GDP.
River Interlinking

Danube-Oder-Elbe CanalPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rivers mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Not Much


 

Environmental organisations from across central and Eastern Europe have criticised a major project intending to link three rivers and provide seamless navigation between three of Europe’s peripheral seas, according to a statement.

Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal

  • For centuries Europe’s rulers have dreamed of construction of a huge Y-shaped canal connecting the Elbe, Oder and Danube rivers, most of which would be on Czech territory.
  • The Canal intends to connect the Danube, Oder and Elbe rivers and thus provide another navigable link from the Black Sea to the North and Baltic Seas.
  • The Main-Danube Canal already provided a navigable connection between the Black Sea and the North Sea.
  • Several hundred kilometres of artificial waterways would have to be built for the canal, according to the statement.
  • Critics have called on the European Commission to ensure that the project be excluded from EU funding, and not be included as part of the Trans-European Transport Network.
History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Sheikh Mujibur RahmanPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sheikh Mujib and his legacy

Mains level : NA


March 17 is the birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975), the founding leader of Bangladesh and the country’s first Prime Minister.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1950.jpg

  • Before joining politics, Rahman studied law and political science in Kolkata and Dhaka and agitated for Indian independence.
  • He is referred to as Sheikh Mujib or simply Mujib, the title ‘Bangabandhu’ meaning ‘friend of Bengal’.
  • In 1949, he joined the Awami League, a political party which advocated greater autonomy for East Pakistan.
  • A popular leader in East Pakistan, Rahman played an important role in the six-point movement and the Anti-Ayub movement.

Role in Bangladesh liberation

  • In 1970, his party secured an absolute majority in the Pakistani general elections; the country’s first, winning more seats than all parties in West Pakistan, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.
  • The election results were not honoured; leading to a bloody civil war, and Sheikh Mujib declared Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971.
  • The declaration coincided with a ruthless show of strength by the Pakistani military, in which tanks rolled out on the streets of Dhaka and several students and intellectuals were killed.
  • India under then PM Indira Gandhi provided full support to Rahman and Bangladesh’s independence movement, resulting in the creation of a sovereign government at Dhaka in January 1971.

His legacy

  • Rahman, who had been arrested and taken to West Pakistan, returned to Bangladesh after being freed in January 1972.
  • For the next three years, Rahman held the new country’s prime ministerial post, and became a celebrated icon in India as well, admired for his moving speeches and charismatic personality.
  • On 15 August 1975, Rahman was killed in a military coup along with his wife and three sons, including 10-year-old Sheikh Russel.
  • His daughters, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, survived as they were abroad at the time.
Tax Reforms

Excise Duty on Petrol and DieselPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Excise duty

Mains level : Changes in taxation after GST regime


The Central levies on petrol and diesel were hiked amid sliding global crude oil prices. But the price of petrol and diesel registered a decline after oil companies further cut auto fuel prices in light of the substantial fall in global crude oil prices.

What is Excise Duty?

  • Excise duty is a form of tax imposed on goods for their production, licensing and sale.
  • It is the opposite of Customs duty in sense that it applies to goods manufactured domestically in the country, while Customs is levied on those coming from outside of the country.
  • At the central level, excise duty earlier used to be levied as Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duty, etc.
  • Excise duty was levied on manufactured goods and levied at the time of removal of goods, while GST is levied on the supply of goods and services.

Purview of excise duty

  • The GST introduction in July 2017 subsumed many types of excise duty.
  • Today, excise duty applies only on petroleum and liquor.
  • Alcohol does not come under the purview of GST as exclusion mandated by constitutional provision.
  • States levy taxes on alcohol according to the same practice as was prevalent before the rollout of GST.
  • After GST was introduced, excise duty was replaced by central GST because excise was levied by the central government. The revenue generated from CGST goes to the central government.

Types of excise duty in India

Before GST kicked in, there were three kinds of excise duties in India.

Basic Excise Duty

  • Basic excise duty is also known as the Central Value Added Tax (CENVAT). This category of excise duty was levied on goods that were classified under the first schedule of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985.
  • This duty was levied under Section 3 (1) (a) of the Central Excise Act, 1944. This duty applied on all goods except salt.

Additional Excise Duty

  • Additional excise duty was levied on goods of high importance, under the Additional Excise under Additional Duties of Excise (Goods of Special Importance) Act, 1957.
  • This duty was levied on some special category of goods.

Special Excise Duty

  • This type of excise duty was levied on special goods classified under the Second Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985.
  • Presently the central excise duty comprises of a Basic Excise Duty, Special Additional Excise Duty and Additional Excise Duty (Road and Infrastructure Cess) on auto fuels.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Role of Glucose in Regulating Liver FunctionsPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SIRT1

Mains level : NA


A study by researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (TIFR) has revealed that glucose in the body controls the function of SIRT1 enzymes directly.

What is SIRT1?

  • SIRT1 is an enzyme that deacetylates (removal of acetyl) proteins which contribute to cellular regulation.
  • A shortage or absence of the control by glucose may lead to a diabetic-like state, while excess feeding and sustained low levels of SIRT1 can lead to obesity and enhanced ageing.
  • This information is expected to tackle lifestyle disorders and ageing-related diseases.

How do they function?

  • In normal healthy individuals, SIRT1 protein levels are known to increase during fasting and decrease during the feed, which is essential to maintain a balance between glucose and fat metabolism.
  • The glucose controls the functions of a protein SIRT1 which in turn maintains everyday feed-fast cycles and is also associated with longevity.
  • The feed-fast cycle is a basic pattern and the metabolism-related to this is largely taken care of by the liver.
  • Thus, the study shows that both over-activation and under-activation of SIRT1 can lead to diseases.
  • Glucose puts a check on the activity of SIRT1 in the fed state. In the absence of this check, SIRT1 activity increases and results in hyperglycemia in a fasted state, mimicking diabetic state.
  • The constant feeding or high-calorie intake that leads to a sustained reduction in the levels of SIRT1 by glucose which is associated with ageing and obesity.
New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Oculudentavis khaungraaePrelims OnlyPriority 1


Scientists have found the skull of a 99-million-year-old flying dinosaur that is tinier than the tiniest bird known to humans.

  • The bird-like dinosaur was found stuck in a gob of tree resin that eventually hardened into amber, preserving it for millions of years to come.
  • The fossil was dug up in 2016 from a mine in Myanmar. It was so slight; it likely weighed just 2 grams.
  • The dinosaur skull holds around 100 sharp teeth, which hints at its ferocious nature despite its small size.
  • It even had teeth in the back of its jaw, under its eye.

 

Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

Sahyadri MeghaPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sahyadri Megha

Mains level : Not Much


The University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga (K’taka) has developed ‘Sahyadri Megha’, a new red variety of paddy that is resistant to blast (a fungal disease) and rich in nutrients.

Sahyadri Megha

  • It is a red variety of paddy that is resistant to blast disease and rich in nutrients.
  • It was developed under the hybridization breeding method by cross-breeding the best among the ‘Jyothi’ variety with that of ‘Akkalu’, a disease-resistant and protein-rich paddy variety.
  • The new variety will be notified under the Indian Seed Act 1966 shortly after which it will become part of the seed chain.

Key features

  • The protein content in it is 12.48%, higher than the other red rice varieties grown.
  • The yield per hectare from ‘Sahyadri Megha’ is around 65 quintals, substantially higher than other red paddy varieties.
  • It is a medium-term paddy that can be grown when there is a delay in the onset of monsoon. It can be harvested after 120 days of sowing.

Changes in SDGsPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SDGs, SDG India Index

Mains level : Ensuring sustainable development worldwide


Thirty-six major changes to the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved and adopted by the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC).

Sustainable Development Goals

  • The UN General Assembly in its 70thSession considered and adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years.
  • The 17 SDGs came into force with effect from 1stJanuary, 2016.
  • Though not legally binding, the SDGs have become de facto international obligations and have potential to reorient domestic spending priorities of the countries during the next fifteen years.
  • Countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving these Goals.
  • Implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes.

About the changes

  • These changes are based on the ‘2020 comprehensive review’ conducted by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs).
  • The revised global framework will have 231 indicators, approximately the same number as in the original framework, the statement said.
  • The global indicator framework was adopted by the UN General Assembly on July 6, 2017.

Eight additional indicators were added across six SDG goals — 2, 3, 4, 10, 13 and 16.

These include:

  • Indicator 13.2.2 on the total greenhouse gas emissions per year for the SDG target 13.2 to integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
  • Prevalence of anaemia in women aged 15-49 years, by pregnancy status (percentage) under the target 2.2 to end forms of malnutrition by 2030.
  • A new indicator on reducing the percentage of bloodstream infections due to selected antimicrobial-resistant organisms has been added under the Global health goal (SDG 3).
  • Indicator 10.7.3 on the number of migrants killed while attempting to cross maritime, land and air borders.
  • Indicator 10.7.4 on the proportion of the population who are refugees, by country of origin.

Six indicators across six SDG goals — 1, 4, 8, 11, 13 and 17 — have been deleted.

 These include:

  • Indicator 1.a.1 on the proportion of domestically-generated resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes.
  • Indicator 4.2.1 on the proportion of children under five years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex.
  • The portion of the indicator that measures progress for children between 0 and 23 months of age, which is currently in tier III was proposed for deletion by the IAEG.
  • Under the SDG goal on combating climate change, the indicator 13.3.2, quantifying the number of countries that have communicated the strengthening of capacity-building for implementing adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer, and development actions has been deleted.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

AT-1 bondsPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AT-1 Bonds

Mains level : Read the attached story


India’s fourth-largest private lender YES bank was placed under a moratorium by RBI and its perpetual debt additional tier-1 (AT1 bonds) would become worthless if RBI does ask mutual funds to write down their value.

What are AT1 bonds?

  • AT-1, short for Additional Tier-1 bonds, are a type of unsecured, perpetual bonds that banks issue to shore up their core capital base to meet the Basel-III norms.
  • AT-1 bonds are complex hybrid instruments, ideally meant for institutions and smart investors who can decipher their terms and assess if their higher rates compensate for their higher risks.
  • They carry a face value of ₹10 lakh per bond.
  • There are two routes through which retail folk have acquired these bonds — initial private placement offers of AT-1 bonds by banks seeking to raise money; or secondary market buys of already-traded AT-1 bonds based on recommendations from brokers.

Why are they important?

AT-1 bonds have several unusual features lurking in their fine print, which make them very different from plain bonds.

  • One, these bonds are perpetual and carry no maturity date. Instead, they carry call options that allow banks to redeem them after five or 10 years. But banks are not obliged to use this call option and can opt to pay only interest on these bonds for eternity.
  • Two, banks issuing AT-1 bonds can skip interest payouts for a particular year or even reduce the bonds’ face value without getting into hot water with their investors, provided their capital ratios fall below certain threshold levels. These thresholds are specified in their offer terms.
  • Three, if the RBI feels that a bank is tottering on the brink and needs a rescue, it can simply ask the bank to cancel its outstanding AT-1 bonds without consulting its investors. This is what has happened to YES Bank’s AT-1 bond-holders who are said to have invested ₹10,800 crore.
History- Important places, persons in news

Pyramid of DjoserPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pyramid of Djoser

Mains level : NA


 

 

Last week, Egypt reopened the Pyramid of Djoser, the first pyramid ever built, after a 14-year restoration. The structure is believed to be designed by Imhotep, described by some as the first architect of the world.

The Pyramid of Djoser

  • The 4,700-year-old pyramid is 60 metres tall, and consists of six stacked steps over a burial shaft tomb 28 metres deep and seven metres wide.
  • It is located at the Saqqara archaeological site, 24 km southwest of Cairo, outside the royal capital of Memphis. A complex of halls and courts is located around the pyramid.
  • It is the world’s oldest monumental stone building.
  • Today a UNESCO world heritage site, the pyramid was constructed during the era of Pharaoh Djoser, the second king of Ancient Egypt’s Third Dynasty (2650 BC– 2575 BC).
  • The Pharaoh’s 19-year reign saw significant technical innovations in stone architecture.
  • The pyramid’s architect, Imhotep, was also a physician and astrologer, and served as Djoser’s minister.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Red PandaPrelims OnlySpecies in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SAWEN, TRAFFIC, Red Panda

Mains level : Not Much


 

 

According to a report by the TRAFFIC report, there has been a considerable reduction in the poaching of Red Panda (ailurus fulgens). The report also recommended trans-boundary law enforcement co-operation through the use of multi-government platforms like SAWEN (South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network).

Red Panda

IUCN Red List Status: Endangered

  • The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.
  • Its wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
  • Despite its name, it is not closely related to the giant panda
  • The animal has been hunted for meat and fur, besides illegal capture for the pet trade.
  • An estimated 14,500 animals are left in the wild across Nepal, Bhutan, India, China and Myanmar.
  • About 5,000-6,000 red pandas are estimated to be present in four Indian states – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and West Bengal.
  • The diminishing habitat is a major threat to the species which is a very selective feeder and survives on selected species of bamboos.

About South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN)

  • SAWEN is a Regional network is comprised of eight countries in South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • It aims at working as a strong regional intergovernmental body for combating wildlife crime by attempting common goals and approaches for combating illegal trade in the region.
  • The South Asia region is very vulnerable to illegal traffic and wildlife crimes due to the presence of precious biodiversity and large markets as well as traffic routes for wildlife products in the south East Asian region.
  • The collaboration in harmonizing as well as enforcing the wildlife protection in the region is considered very important for effective conservation of such precious biodiversity.
  • India adopted the Statute of the SAWEN and became its formal member in 2016.

Back2Basics

TRAFFIC

  • The TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, is a leading non-governmental organisation working on wildlife trade in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
  • It is a joint program of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the IUCN.
  • It aims to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
  • The TRAFFIC is governed by the TRAFFIC Committee, a steering group composed of members of TRAFFIC’s partner organizations, WWF and IUCN.
  • TRAFFIC also works in close co-operation with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
History- Important places, persons in news

Who were the Marakkars?Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Marakkars

Mains level : Various conquests during colonial expansion


The big-budget Malayalam film Marakkar: The Lion of the Arabian Sea is set to be released. It is a war film depicting the heroics of the Marakkar clan, whose leaders were naval chieftains of the Zamorin of Calicut during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Who were the Marakkars?

  • By some accounts, they were of Arab origin and had migrated from Tunisia to Panthalayani near Koyilandy in present-day Kozhikode, and later moved to the region around present-day Kottakkal and Thikkodi near Payyoli.
  • By other accounts, the Marakkars were descendants of affluent businessman from the Cochin kingdom who migrated later to Calicut.
  • Historians say the name ‘Marakkar’ could have originated from maram or marakkalam, meaning ship, as these families lived along the coast and used ships.
  • Alternatively, it could have originated from the Arabic word markaba, meaning those who migrated via ships.
  • The Marakkars were mostly Muslims, but in some parts, they have been found to be Hindus as well.

What was the war against the Portuguese about?

  • The Zamorin, Samoothiri in Malayalam, was the title given to rulers of the Calicut kingdom on the Malabar coast.
  • Faced with invading Portuguese ships, the Zamorin reached out to the Marakkars to defend the coast. The Marakkars fought against Portuguese invaders for nearly a century.
  • They were led in succession by four Marakkars, chief admirals who were appointed by the Zamorin with the title of Kunjali.
  • Related by bloodline, they were Kuttyali Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar I, appointed in 1507), Kutty Pokker (Kunjali Marakkar II), Pathu Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar III) and Muhammad Ali Marakkar (Kunjali Marakkar IV, appointed in 1595).
  • Their strategy was similar to guerrilla warfare. The Portuguese had massive ships which could not make easy manoeuvres in the sea.
  • The Marakkars used small ships which could easily surround the Portuguese ships, enabling the fighters to attack at will.

Who is depicted the ‘Lion of the Arabian Sea’?

  • Kunjali Marakkar IV earned his reputation with his fierce onslaught on Portuguese ships, the favours he gave those who fought against the Portuguese, and his efforts to strengthen the fort at Kottakkal.
  • When he took charge in 1595, relations between the Zamorin and the Marakkars were deteriorating.
  • The Zamorin was feeling threatened by Kunjali Marakkar IV’s popularity, and by reports (said to be spread by the Portuguese) that he was planning to create a Muslim empire.
  • In 1597, the Zamorin signed a peace treaty with the Portuguese and attacked Kottakkal fort. For months, the Marakkars resisted the attack by the Zamorin’s Nair soldiers and the Portuguese fleet.
  • Eventually, as Portugal sent more forces and the Zamorin mounted his effort, Marakkar surrendered to the Zamorin on the assurance that their lives would be spared. But the Portuguese violated the terms, arrested him, took him to Goa and beheaded him.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

N95 maskPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : N95 Masks

Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak


In a new mandate to curb unnecessary demand, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration said that chemists cannot sell N95 masks without a doctor’s prescription. The FDA also warned that serious action would be taken against those who are found selling masks at high prices or hoarding them.

Why such a move?

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and N95 masks are being sold at very high prices in medical shops. The State has received many complaints about the same.
  • It has also been found that many are making bulk purchases and hording PPE kits and N95 masks.
  • Since the COVID-19 outbreak in China, shortage of PPE gear and masks has been reported from across the world.
  • While the Indian government has currently banned exports of N95 masks, the manufacturers are focussed on making other surgical marks to get good returns from exports.

N95 mask

  • A disposable N95 mask (respirator) is a safety device that covers the nose and mouth and helps protect the wearer from breathing in some hazardous substances.
  • An N95 respirator is designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles.
  • The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.
  • If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.
History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Rajkumari Amrit KaurPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Amrit Kaur

Mains level : Not Much


 

 

Former PM Indira Gandhi and freedom fighter Rajkumari Amrit Kaur are mentioned in TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful women who defined the last century in a new project that aims to feature those women who were “often overshadowed”.

Who was Amrit Kaur?

  • Amrit Kaur was the first woman in independent India who joined the Cabinet as the Health Minister and remained in that position for 10 years.
  • Born into the Kapurthala royal family, she was educated in Oxford and returned to India in 1918, and began to be drawn towards the work and teachings of MK Gandhi.

Her contributions

  • Before taking up the position of a Health Minister, Kaur was Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary.
  • During these 10 years, she founded the Indian Council for Child Welfare.
  • She also laid the foundation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Lady Irwin College in Delhi in the following years.
  • Apart from joining the nationalist freedom struggle, Kaur also began work on a number of other social and political issues such as the purdah system, child marriage and the Devadasi system.
  • She passed away in 1964, at the age of 75.

Role in the freedom struggle

  • In 1936, hoping that more women would join the freedom struggle, Gandhiji invited her.
  • In the following years, as Kaur started interacting with other freedom fighters such as Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi, she gave up her princely comforts and began to discipline herself by responding to the Gandhian call.
  • When the civil disobedience movement took off in the 1930s, Kaur dedicated her life to it.
  • Kaur was jailed after the Quit India movement and carried to the jail a spinning wheel, the Bhagwat Gita and the Bible.
  • Further, while Kaur advocated for equality, she was not in favour of reservations for women and believed that universal adult franchise would open the doors for women to enter into the legislative and administrative institutions of the country.
  • In light of this, she believed that there was no place left for reservation of seats.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

NASA’s new Mars rover: PerseverancePrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Perseverance rover

Mains level : Not Much


NASA has named its next Mars rover ‘Perseverence’.

About Perseverance

  • The Perseverance rover weighs less than 2,300 pounds and is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.
  • The rover’s mission will be to search for signs of past microbial life. It will also collect samples of Martian rocks and dust, according to the release.
  • The rover will also be tasked with studying the red planet’s geology and climate.
  • All of NASA’s previous Mars rovers — including the Sojourner (1997), Spirit and Opportunity (2004) and Curiosity (exploring Mars since 2012) — were named in this way.
History- Important places, persons in news

Biju Patnaik: The flying ace who helped Indian and foreign freedom movements Prelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Biju Patnaik

Mains level : Not Much


 

 

Recently, 104th birth anniversary of former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik was celebrated. He was a decorated freedom fighter. PM tweeted an Intelligence Bureau document from 1945 to show how Patnaik bravely lent his flying skills to rescue freedom fighters like Ram Manohar Lohia.

Biju Pattnaik

  • Bijayananda Patnaik (1916-1997), popularly known as Biju Patnaik, was an Indian politician, aviator and businessman. As politician, he served twice as the Chief Minister of the State of Odisha.
  • It is well known that Biju Patnaik actively helped freedom fighters in the 1940s.
  • His daring was evident as he actively joined the Quit India movement in 1942 and collaborated with the underground leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asif Ali and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, even while in the British service.
  • Patnaik was imprisoned by the British Government for three years later.

Role in foreign freedom struggles

  • As an officer in the Royal Indian Air Force in the early 1940s, Patnaik flew innumerable sorties to rescue British families fleeing the Japanese advance on Rangoon, the capital of Burma.
  • He also dropped arms and supplies to Chinese troops fighting the Japanese and later to the Soviet army struggling against Hitler’s onslaught near Stalingrad.
  • On the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, Patnaik was honoured by the Russians for his help,” the obit noted.
  • Interestingly, Nehru entrusted Patnaik with rescuing Indonesian resistance fighters who were fighting their Dutch colonisers.
  • Accompanied by wife Gyanwati, “the lanky pilot flew an old Dakota aircraft to Singapore en route to Jakarta where the rebels were entrenched” in 1948.
  • Dodging the Dutch guns, he entered Indonesian airspace and landed on an improvised airstrip near Jakarta.
  • Using left-over fuel from abandoned Japanese military dumps, Patnaik took off with prominent rebels, including Sultan Shariyar and Achmad Sukarno, for a secret meeting with Nehru at New Delhi.
Internal Security Trends and Incidents

Media Access Control (MAC) BindingPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Media Access Control (MAC) Binding

Mains level : Internet shutdown as an infringement of FR


After seven months, the use of social media was allowed in Jammu and Kashmir with an order laying down the latest rules for the use of the Internet in the UT.  Among various conditions, the order says Internet connectivity will be made available “with mac-binding”.

What is Mac-binding?

  • Every device has a Media Access Control (MAC) address, a hardware identification number that is unique to it. While accessing the Internet, every device is assigned an IP address.
  • Mac-binding essentially means binding together the MAC and IP addresses, so that all requests from that IP address are served only by the computer having that particular MAC address.
  • In effect, it means that if the IP address or the MAC address changes, the device can no longer access the Internet.
  • Also, monitoring authorities can trace the specific system from which a particular online activity was carried out.

Permitted connections

  • The Internet can be accessed on all postpaid devices, and those using Local Area Networks (LAN).
  • While the postpaid SIM card holders shall continue to be provided access to the Internet, these services shall not be made available on prepaid SIM cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for postpaid connections.
  • Apart from this, special access terminals provided by the government will continue to run.
  • It is further directed that the access/communication facilities provided by the government, viz. e-terminals/Internet kiosks apart from special arrangements for tourists, students, traders etc shall continue.

Only 2G permitted

  • Internet speed in J&K is still restricted to 2G.
  • This means very slow services — pictures will take a long time to be sent or downloaded, videos will be nearly impossible to share, and there will be a long loading time for most websites.
  • It also means that although in theory, the “whitelist system” — where people could only access some websites pre-approved by the government — has been removed, some sites designed for a 4G Internet experience will hardly work.

Have curbs been lifted?

  • Not exactly. The latest order is to remain in force till March 17 unless modified earlier.
  • The government has been relaxing Internet and phone usage in the UTs in phases.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Unguarded X hypothesisPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Unguarded X hypothesis, Chromosomes

Mains level : NA


Men outnumbered women by 37 million in the 2011 Census of India, but among those over the age of 60, there were more than 1 million more women than men. In general, men live shorter lives than women worldwide. This is due to the chromosomal differences between the two, points’ new study.

What are Chromosomes?

  • The human body is made up of cells, and in the centre of each cell is the nucleus. Chromosomes, which are located inside the nucleus, are structures that hold the genes.
  • It is the genes that determine the various traits of an individual including eye colour, blood type — and sex.
  • The human cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes. One pair is of the sex chromosomes, named X and Y, which determine whether an individual is male or female.
  • A female has two X chromosomes (XX) while a male has one X and one Y (XY).

Unguarded X hypothesis

  • This hypothesis suggests that the Y chromosome in XY is less able to to protect an individual from harmful genes expressed on the X chromosome.
  • In a male, as the Y chromosome is smaller than the X chromosome, it is unable to “hide” an X chromosome that carries harmful mutations, which may later expose the individual to health threats.
  • On the other hand, the hypothesis goes, there is no such problem in a pair of X chromosomes (XX) in a female.
  • If one of the X chromosomes has genes that have suffered mutations, then the other X chromosome, which is healthy, can stand in for the first, so that the harmful genes are not expressed.
  • This maximizes the length of life, according to the hypothesis. And this is what the UNSW researchers set out to examine.

Testing the hypothesis

  • In a statement issued by UNSW, PhD student and study first author Zoe Xirocostas said the
  • Unguarded X hypothesis appears to stack up, after examining the lifespan data available on a wide range of animal species.
  • Researchers studied lifespan data in not just primates but mammals and birds, but also reptiles, fish, amphibians, arachnids, cockroaches, grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies and moths among others.
  • It was found that across that broad range of species, the heterogametic sex (XY in humans) does tend to die earlier than the homogametic sex (XX in humans).