16-05-2020: Current Affair Updates of 16 May 2020
Topics: Government Policies & Interventions
Context: Recently, the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs
launched “GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)”programme at a webinar in New
- GOAL is a joint initiative of Facebook and the Ministry of
- 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)
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.
- 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’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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
National Mission on Education through Information and Communication
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- The developed lightweight carbon foam has very less density
and high porosity.
- It also has a good mechanical strength and
is insoluble in water.
- 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
- 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)
- 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,
- The National Chambal Sanctuary is located along river
Chambal on the tri-junction of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar
- It is known for critically endangered gharials, the red-crowned
roof turtle, and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.
- 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,
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Kannadipuzha (Chitturpuzha),
- Kalpathipuzha (Korapuzha),
Recently, a webinar ‘Exploring River Nila’ was organized by Ministry