Daily Current Affairs : ALL Components

1.

16-05-2020: Current Affair Updates of 16 May 2020

Topics: Government Policies & Interventions

 

1.

Context: Recently, the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs launched “GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)”programme at a webinar in New Delhi.

  • GOAL is a joint initiative of Facebook and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • The GOAL programme is designed to provide mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode.
  • The program will focus on three core areas - Digital Literacy, Life Skills and Leadership and Entrepreneurship.
  • The program intends to upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths in the current phase to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international markets.
  • The programme has been designed with a long term vision to develop the potential of tribal youth and women to help them acquire skills and knowledge through mentorship in various sectors including horticulture, food processing, bee keeping, tribal art and culture, medicinal herbs, entrepreneurship among others.
  • The program aims to enable Scheduled Tribe (ST) youth in remote areas to use digital platforms for sharing their aspirations, dreams and talent with their mentors.
  • All the mentees will be provided with smartphones and Internet access (for one year) by Facebook along with exposure to various external forums that will give opportunity to the participants to showcase their entrepreneurial skills and leadership abilities.
  • The program will also create awareness amongst tribal beneficiaries about various schemes initiated by Central and State Governments for welfare of STs as well as their fundamental duties.

 

 

 

(GS PAPER - 2)

Topics: Health

 

2.

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted that novel coronavirus could become endemic to the world.

  • The rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world has been characterised as Pandemic by the WHO.
  • Though India has made great efforts in containing the spread of the virus, the probability of its conversion into the category of endemic would be a great vulnerability.

 

Endemic Disease:

  • A disease is called endemic when the presence or usual prevalence of its infectious agent is constant within a given geographical area or population group.
  • When the cases begin to rise, it is classified as an epidemic. If this epidemic has been recorded in several countries and areas, it is called a pandemic.
  • Some examples of endemics include chicken pox and malaria, where there are a predictable number of cases every year in certain parts of the world.
  • According to the WHO, the novel coronavirus may become just another endemic virus in communities, and may never go away.

 

R0 and Spread of the Disease:

  • The mathematical figure‘R0’ (pronounced “R-naught”) indicates how fast an infection is spreading.
  • It is called the basic reproduction number and indicates the average number of people who will contract the virus from a person who has already been infected, in a population that does not have immunity for the said disease.
  • If R0=1, then the disease is endemic.
  • When R0>1, it implies that the cases are increasing and that the disease will eventually become an epidemic.

 

Parkinson Disease

  • Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system.
  • It damages nerve cells in the brain dropping the levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that sends behavioral signals from the brain to the body.
  • The disease causes a variety of "motor" symptoms (symptoms related to movement of the muscles), including rigidity, delayed movement, poor balance, and tremors.
  • Medication can help control the symptoms of the disease but it can't be cured.
  • It affects the age group from 6 to 60 years.

 

ASyn

  • An aggregation of a protein called Alpha-synuclein (ASyn) plays a crucial role in the development of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Protein aggregation is a biological phenomenon in which destabilized proteins aggregate (i.e., accumulate and clump together) leading to many diseases.
  • Alpha-synuclein is a protein found in the human brain, while smaller amounts are found in the heart, muscle and other tissues.
  • In the brain, alpha-synuclein is found mainly at the tips of neurons in specialized structures called presynaptic terminals.
  • Presynaptic terminals release chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters.
  • The release of neurotransmitters relays signals between neurons and is critical for normal brain function.
  • Until now, worldwide studies could not establish any strong relation between ASyn aggregations and subsequent death of neuronal cells observed in Parkinson’s disease.

 

(GS PAPER 2)

 

Topics: Education and Human Resources

 

3.

National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology

  • The Mission, launched in 2009, is a landmark initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), with the objective of seamlessly providing quality educational content to all the eligible and willing learners in India.
  • It has been envisaged to leverage the potential of ICT, in the teaching and learning process for the benefit of all the learners in Higher Education Institutions.

 

Initiatives under the Program

  • SWAYAM: The Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds' (SWAYAM) is an integrated platform for offering online courses, covering school (9th to 12th) to Postgraduate Level.
  • SWAYAM Prabha - It is an initiative to provide 32 High Quality Educational Channels through DTH (Direct to Home) across the length and breadth of the country on a 24X7 basis.
  • National Digital Library of India (NDL) - It is a project to develop a framework of virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility.
  • Spoken Tutorial - They are 10-minute long, audio-video tutorials, on open source software, to improve employment potential of students.
  • Free and Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE) - It is a project promoting the use of open source software in educational institutions.
  • E-Yantra - It is a project for enabling effective education across engineering colleges in India on embedded systems and robotics.

 

 

 

(GS PAPER - 3)

Topics: Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology

 

4.

Recently, scientists (including a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty award) from the CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (Bhopal) have developed the ‘lightweight carbon foam’ which has the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries.

 

Background

  • Currently, the large-scale energy-storage sector is dominated by Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, because of their higher energy density and long cycle life.
  • Energy density is the amount of energy that can be stored in a given mass of a substance or system, i.e. a measure of storage of energy.
  • However, there are some concerns regarding Li-ion batteries, such as safety risk, limited resource supply, high cost, and lack of recycling infrastructure.
  • As a result, lead-acid batteries are still one of the most reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly options.
  • The Lead-acid battery is one of the oldest types of rechargeable batteries and was invented in 1859 by the French physicist Gaston Plante.
  • However, electrodes in the lead-acid batteries suffer from the problem of heavyweight, corrosion, poor thermal stability, and diffusion of electrolytes in one dimension, which ultimately affects the output power.
  • The above issues necessitated the development of an alternative battery system with lower environmental concerns, economic and higher energy density.
  • Thus, currently developed lightweight carbon foam can replace the lead-acid batteries as the foam is highly resistive to corrosion, has good electrical and thermal conductivity with high surface area.

 

Key Points

 

Properties:

  • The developed lightweight carbon foam has very less density and high porosity.
  • It also has a good mechanical strength and is insoluble in water.

 

Uses:

  • It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage, electrodes for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.
  • In the case of water purification systems it is cost-effective for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water.

 

Benefits:

  • These carbon foams are non-toxic, easy to fabricate and affordable.
  • The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available and there is no requirement of any costly equipment for the fabrication of carbon foam and filtration.
  • Such materials can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.

Recently, a group of researchers (including a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award) have also made significant achievements in developing nanomaterials based supercapacitors to achieve high energy density and power density of supercapacitors.

 

 

 

(Facts for Prelims)

 

5.

Chambal River

  • The Chambal originates at the Singar Chouri peak in the northern slopes of the Vindhya Mountains (Indore, Madhya Pradesh).
  • It joins the Yamuna River in Etawah District of UP.
  • Tributaries - Banas, Kali Sindh, Parbati.
  • The National Chambal Sanctuary is located along river Chambal on the tri-junction of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is known for critically endangered gharials, the red-crowned roof turtle, and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.

 

6.

Quinine Nongladew

  • Quinine Nongladew is a village named after the alkaloid quinine extracted from the bark of cinchona.
  • Quinine, its most primitive antimalarial avatar.
  • Cinchona is a plant belonging to the Rubiaceae family and classified as either a large shrub or a small tree.
  • The village, is about 70 km south of Guwahati, is on the highway to Meghalaya capital Shillong.
  • Meghalaya’s Forests and Environment Department has no records on the Quinine Garden.
  • The cinchona nursery was raised in the 19th century, probably around 1874, when Shillong became the British administrative headquarters for Assam Province.
  • The nursery on an unknown area fell into disuse by the mid-1950s, the plantation was not much of a success at it involved an exotic species brought from South America.
  • Large swathes of Meghalaya used to be, and still are, malaria-prone.
  • The British had the foresight to start the plantation to combat malaria and other diseases caused by mosquitoes.
  • One of the reasons is that the Forest Department has no control over the area where a few cinchonas grow uncared for.
  • According to the Indian State of Forest Report 2019, Meghalaya has a forest cover of 76.32% of its geographical area.
  • But the department lords over only 1,113 sq km forest area while the remaining 16,005.79 sq km is under community and private ownership.
  • Forest Department have no jurisdiction over Quinine Garden or whatever is left of it.
  • Recently the COVID-19 pandemic has generated interest among locals in the cinchona tree.
  • The villagers also sniff commercial gain if quinine goes on to become a source of cure for the disease, which is incurable for now.    

 

7.

Z-Scan Method

  • Recently, scientists from IIT (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Kolkata) have developed the Z-scan method to monitor the origin as well as the progression of Parkinson's disease in human beings.
  • The discovered Z-scan method is expected to help in monitoring both the early as well as late stages of the aggregation of ASyn and death of neuronal cells.

 

8.

River Nila

  • River Nila is also known as Bharathapuzha and Ponnani.
  • Amaravathipuzha originating from Thrimoorthy Hills of Anamalais in Tamil Nadu joins with Kalpathipuzha at Parali in Palakkad District and forms Nila.
  • It drains in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • Malampuzha dam is the largest among the reservoirs built across Bharathapuzha.
  • It flows westward through Palakkad Gap (most prominent discontinuity in the Western Ghats) and drains into the Arabian Sea.

 

Main Tributaries:

  • Kannadipuzha (Chitturpuzha),
  • Kalpathipuzha (Korapuzha),
  • Gayathripuzha
  • Thuthapuzha

 

Recently, a webinar ‘Exploring River Nila’ was organized by Ministry of tourism.

 

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