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Insights Daily Current Events, 02 June 2015

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Insights Daily Current Events, 02 June 2015

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Core industries’ output dips 0.4 % in April

A recently released official data shows that output of the eight core industries shrunk 0.4% in April against growth of 5.7% during the same month last year. Growth in production has declined every month since November 2014.

  • The contraction in April, mainly on account of the poor generation of electricity and declining output of cement, refinery products and fertiliser, came on the back of March’s marginal decline of minus 0.1%.

Performance of various sectors:

  • Coal and steel were only two sectors in which output grew.
  • Coal production grew 7.9%, steel output grew but at 0.6% in April as against 6.9% in the same month last year.
  • The output of crude oil declined 2.7% in April.
  • Natural gas production was 3.6% lower.
  • Electricity generation shrank 1.1% and cement output fell 2.4%.
  • The production of refinery products declined 2.9% and fertiliser output shrunk marginally by 0.04%.

Core Sector Industries:

  • The eight core sector industries are— coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity.
  • The eight sectors contribute 38% to the overall industrial production.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

 

Mauritius’ first woman President

The government of Mauritius recently designated Ameenah Gurib-Fakim as the new President, making her the first woman to hold the ceremonial position.

  • Gurib-Fakim is an internationally-renowned scientist and biologist.
  • She will be the first female president of the island, which gained independence from Britain in 1968 and which replaced Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state in 1992.

Quick facts:

  • The President of the Republic of Mauritius is the Head of State of the Republic of Mauritius and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Mauritius.
  • The minimum age of the President shall be 40 years and should have resided in Mauritius for at least 5 years immediately preceding the election.
  • The President shall be elected by the National Assembly on a motion made by the Prime Minister and supported by the votes of a majority of all the members Assembly.
  • The term of office is 5 years and the President shall be eligible for re-election.
  • Mauritius is a parliamentary republic, and the President functions as a ceremonial figurehead, elected by the National Assembly as set out by the Constitution of Mauritius.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

Bangladesh Liberation War award for Vajpayee

Bangladesh is set to honour former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his outstanding support for the country’s independence from Pakistan in 1971 when he was a Lok Sabha member.

  • Bangladesh is all set to hand over Vajpayee’s “Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War Award” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the country from June 6.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also approved a proposal to honour the families of the members of Indian armed forces for sacrificing their lives for the cause of Bangladesh’s independence.

The award is bestowed upon individuals and organizations who had extended support to Bangladesh during it’s independence struggle. The then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was the first “foreign friend” to be conferred with the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award’. Most of the subsequent recipients were also from India which extended the most crucial support for Bangladesh’s independence with incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee being one of them.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

The puzzle of Pattanam’s tubular jars

Excavation being conducted by the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) at Pattanam, 25 km from Kochi, has continued.

Recent findings:

  • During the ninth season of excavation this year, a row of eight tubular jars without bottom portions was found. The potter had deliberately left them open at both ends.
  • Altogether, 12 such tubular jars were found, eight in a vertical position, three that have fallen down and one with the portion broken.
  • The jars are 40-cm tall, and the diameter of their rim is about 13 cm. They were found in the 61st trench, the latest to be excavated.
  • The neck and rim of these jars resembled the torpedo jars found in the Mesopotamian and south Arabian regions with which Pattanam, or the ancient Muciri Pattinam, had trade links. But unlike the torpedo jars, the bottom of all these jars is open.
  • Researchers estimated that these jars, stratigraphically, belonged to the Early Historic period (fourth century CE) when the Indian Ocean transformed into a trade lake with links to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean littoral.
  • On the context in which these jars were found, scientists say the initial guess was that they were meant for rituals or storage. But it could not be proved. There was intense burning activity around the place where they were found.

Pattanam:

Pattanam is a village located in the Periyar delta in Eranakulam district in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is located 2 km north of North Paravur, 9 km south of Kodungallur (Cranganore) and 25 km north of Kochi (Cochin). A branch of the Periyar river, called the Periyar Thodu (Periyar canal), runs close to Pattanam.

  • Pattanam is identified as the legendary port Muziris mentioned in the Greeco-Roman classical sources.
  • Many poems in the Tamil Sangam literature (third century BCE to third century CE) celebrate it as Muciri. The poet Tayankannanar describes the port on the banks of the Culliyam Periyar thus: “In Cheran’s prosperous Muciri town, the huge and beautiful Culli river flows, muddied with white foam. The Yavanas come with their fine ships, bearing gold, and leave with pepper.”

Archaeological investigations conducted recently have also unearthed a Chera coin, Amphora and semi-finished beads from the area. Foundation of a brick structure possibly used by artisans as their workshop is also found there. Oxford archaeologists have confirmed that Pattanam was an Indian port frequented by Romans and have put to rest doubts about the antiquity of the site.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

1000 more stores to be opened under ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme”

The Government has proposed to soon open 1000 more stores under the ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ to make available quality generic medicines at affordable prices through these special outlets. These stores will be opened for the underprivileged who would be provided medicines at a price of 60-70% less than the market price.

What is Jan Aushadhi Scheme?

It is a scheme which seeks to make available quality medicines at affordable prices for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.

  • Under this, less priced quality unbranded generic medicines will be made available through Jan Aushadhi stores which inherently are less priced but are of same and equivalent quality, efficacy and safety as compared to branded generic medicines.
  • Under this Scheme, the State Government has to provide space in Government Hospital premises for the running of the outlets (JAS). Government hospitals, NGOs, Charitable Organisations and public societies like Red Cross Society, Rogi Kalyan Samiti typically constituted for the purpose can be operating agencies for the JAS.
  • The operating agency for JAS is nominated on the basis of the recommendations of the State government. Operational expenditure is met from trade margins admissible for the medicines.
  • The State Government has to ensure prescription of unbranded generic medicines by the Government doctors.
  • The Jan Aushadhi Programme is accordingly a self sustaining business model not dependent on government subsidies or assistance. It is run on the principle of “Not for Profits but with Minimal Profits”.

Benefits of the Scheme:

The Jan Aushadhi Campaign will help:

  • Improve access to healthcare in as much as cost of treatment would come down substantially. This would enable the Public Health System to increase the coverage.
  • Secure a socio-economically viable mechanism/institutional arrangement for efficacious sales of Pharma CPSU products, thereby improving their viability.
  • Promote & encourage private industry to sell their quality unbranded generic products through these retail outlets.
  • Educate doctors that unbranded generic medicines provide a better option that branded products since quality of generic medicines can be equally efficacious and safe at much lower prices.
  • Create consumer awareness by involving private, charitable bodies and NGOs by making them part of the campaign.
  • Reduce promotional cost and profits for the benefit of patients.

Ensuring successful implementation of the Jan Aushadhi campaign would dispel the myth that quality of medicines is linked to price and demonstrate that quality medicines can be sold at substantially lower prices.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

 

CSIR succeeds in Whole Genome Sequencing of Holy basil (Tulsi)

CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow, has published whole genome sequence of Ocimum sanctum, the wonder plant ‘Holy basil’ or ‘Tulsi’.

  • This is the first report of complete genome sequence of a traditional and most respected medicinal plant of India, using a composite next generation sequencing technologies.

Whole genome sequencing is a laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome at a single time.

Benefits of Whole genome sequencing:

  • Considering the metabolic and therapeutic potential of this revered plant, the availability of whole genome sequence is the first step to understand and unravel the secrets of this ‘mother of all herbs’ and to provide scientific validity to the traditional claims of its utility in diverse medicinal usage.
  • The availability of the genome sequence now opens the possibility to identify genes involved in producing therapeutic molecules and to produce them in vitro.
  • This will also facilitate identification of not yet identified genes involved in the synthesis of important secondary metabolites in this plant.
  • Specific pathway related genes identified or mined in this genome could be used for the production of secondary metabolites following synthetic biology approaches.
  • The development of molecular tools and genomic resources will accelerate molecular breeding and ultimately the utility of Holy basil in medical community.

About Ocimum sanctum:

  • It is also revered as ‘Vishnupriya’ and worshipped for over more than 3000 years through the sacred traditions of Hindu culture.
  • It is traditionally used for the cure of several ailments.
  • This herb is described as “The Queen of Herbs,” “The Incomparable One” and “The Mother Medicine of Nature” in the Ayurvedic text of Charaka Samhita.
  • All parts of this legendary, divine and most cherished ancient herb (dried leaf, dried seed, and dried whole plant) are used in several systems of traditional medicine, including Ayurveda, Greek, Roman, Siddha, and Unani.
  • It is used in the preparations to cure various diseases like bronchitis, bronchial asthma, malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, skin diseases, arthritis, painful eye diseases, chronic fever, insect bite etc.
  • It has also been described to possess anti-fertility, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, anti-emetic, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, adaptogenic and diaphoretic actions.
  • Many of the basil oil constituents have found applications as medicinal ingredients, flavors, fragrance, etc.

Sources: PIB.

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