Insights Daily Current Events, 21 March 2016
Paper 3 Topic: biotechnology.
Dept. of Biotechnology launches fund to tackle anti-microbial resistance
To tackle the threat faced by India from resistance to antimicrobial drugs, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) — through the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) — has launched a fund.
About the Fund:
- This is an India-focussed seed fund.
- DBT has invested an initial $1,00,000 in this fund.
Significance of this fund:
- This fund helps groups in India compete for the Longitude Prize(This is a £ 10 million prize offered by Nesta, a U.K. charity, to any individual group anywhere in the world that develops an affordable, effective diagnostic test to detect resistance to microbes)
- This is also expected to encourage biotechnology start-ups in the country.
Why research in this field is necessary?
India faces increasing instances of tuberculosis patients being resistant to front line drugs. Experts say this is due to lax monitoring and profligate prescription by medical authorities that allow these drugs to be easily available. Indiscriminate usage means that bugs are, overtime, able to resist these medicines.
- The World Health Organisation statistics for 2014 give an estimated incidence figure of 2.2 million cases of TB for India out of a global incidence of 9 million, with instances of drug-resistant TB rapidly rising.
It can be noted here that, in December 2015, the DBT laid out a strategy, called the National Biotechnology Development Strategy, whereby biotechnology would be at the foundation of a $100-billion industry by 2025, rising from the current $7-$10 billion.
- The National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-20 aims to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub. It intends to launch a major mission, backed with significant investments, for the creation of new biotech products, create a strong infrastructure for R&D and commercialization, and empower India’s human resources scientifically and technologically.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Japan says India’s nuclear MoU “legally binding”
A senior Japanese diplomat recently told that India had committed to adhere to the “control of nuclear material, traceability [of nuclear fuel] and consequence in case of a nuclear accident” under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on civil nuclear cooperation with Japan signed during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India in 2015.
- The Japanese diplomat pointed out that so far, the world had to rely on India’s verbal commitments on nuclear non-proliferation, but the India-Japan MoU marked the first occasion when India came under legal obligation to uphold non-proliferation concerns.
This statement has given rise to many concerns:
- Though the bilateral agreement leaves out India’s military nuclear programme, experts warn that the agreed principles impinge on India’s independent nuclear programme as they imply intrusive inspection of civilian nuclear reactors as warranted under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).
- The Japanese diplomat has also indicated that India will be financially accountable if it is found to be violating the principles.
- The MoU may also destabilise India’s established nuclear deals with Russia and France as they too may demand similar commitments previously denied to them.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
National Green Tribunal seeks Centre’s response on ban of microplastics
The National Green Tribunal has sought response from the Centre on a plea seeking ban on use of micro-plastics in cosmetic and bodycare products in India alleging their use is extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.
- The NGT, in this regard, has issued notice to the ministry of environment and forests and the ministry for water resource and sought their reply on next date of hearing.
What are ‘Microplastics’?
Microplastics are plastic pieces or fibres which are very small and according to recent United Nations reports, these are dangerous for the aquatic life and environment. Microplastics measure less than five milimetres.
Need for ban:
- The microplastics or microbeads found in personal care products are always smaller than one milimetre.
- Due to the unregulated production and usage of plastics in microbeads in various cosmetic products available in the market and the excessive usage of such products by the end users is leading to water pollution across the globe.
- Besides, after being washed down the drain, microbeads flow through sewer systems around the world before making their way into rivers and canals and ultimately, straight into the seas and oceans, where they contribute to the huge chunk of plastic soup in the environment.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: art and culture.
Sculpture of Chandesvarar
A sculpture of Chandesvarar, believed to belong to 10th century AD, has been found at Sundaikkai village near Umaiyalpuram in Tamil Nadu. The sculpture was an early Chola icon.
- Chandesvarar is one of the 63 Nayanmars of the Saivite sect and was the first among them to find a place in temples. He is housed in a separate shrine on the northern side of all the Saivite temples, facing the presiding deity.
- He is the only devotee to have the credit of getting announced as His son by the Lord Himself and is given the very high rank of Chandesapatham.
- The most distinguished shrine of Chandesvara was built by Rajaraja I at the Rajarajesvaram at Thanjavur.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday.
Solar for Refrigerator and air conditioner
A Chennai-based company has showed that solar power can be used to power air conditioner and refrigerator.
- This has been made possible by the use of thin film solar panels. The company has replaced the conventional silicon crystalline panels with thin film solar panels.
- Though efficiency of thin film panel is the same as silicon panel at 25 degree C, the energy yield of thin film is higher than silicon panel. This is because power rating is done at 25 degree C. In India, the outside temperature far exceeds 25 degree C, especially during summer. And for every 1 degree C increase in temperature, the loss in power rating is 0.5% in the case of silicon panels; it is only 0.25% with thin films. So 5% more energy output is achieved by thin film panels.
- Another advantage with the thin film panel is that unlike silicon panels where power production gets completely cut off even if a small part of the panel is covered by shade, only that part of the thin film panel that is not exposed to sunlight stops producing power.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:
- In a report prepared by experts on the initiative of the Tamil Progressive Alliance, Hill-country Tamils in Sri Lanka have suggested that the community be called “Indian-Origin Malayaha Thamilar (IOMT).” They do not want to be called “Indian Tamils” anymore. This nomenclature of theirs has been a source of political and administrative discrimination and social antipathy, besides carrying a historical baggage.
- Astronomers working with data from the NASA/Hubble space telescope have identified nine massive monster stars, each of which is more than 100 times the mass of the sun. These massive stars are located in the Tarantula Nebula, within the Large Magellanic Cloud. This structure is 1,70,000 light years away.
- The ‘miracle drug’ to battle multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively-drug resistant TB (XDR-TB)-Bedaquiline– has been rolled out in six public hospitals across the country. It is perhaps the first drug ever that has the potential to dramatically improve MDR-TB treatment outcomes. The drug test is part of a co-ordinated programme between the government and Johnson & Johnson. The drug can be a game changer in the battle against the disease in India, the world’s TB epicentre. India accounts for 23% of global cases and the most deaths – 220,000 in 2014.
- Indian student, Geetakshi Arora, has won the first Noor Inayat Khan prize for 2016. Arora has won the prize — which consists of £1,000 and a certificate — for her dissertation on “Goddess Myths in Graphic Novels: Reimagining Indian Feminity.” The award is given by London-based Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust. The Trust awards the annual prize to a post-graduate student from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, working in the area of gender studies and South Asian history.
Who was Noor Inayat Khan?
She is an Indian descent and was a secret agent in the Second World War, who was sent to Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943 from where she worked as a wireless operative sending intelligence reports to the Allies. Noor Inayat Khan’s great-great-great-grandfather was Tipu Sultan, an 18th Century Muslim ruler of Mysore.