INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. AYUSH AAPKE DWAR CAMPAIGN
THE CONTEXT: Ayush Ministry launched the campaign “AYUSH AAPKE DWAR” from more than 45 locations across the country.
- Total 21 states are participating in the launch activities today in which more than 2 lakh saplings will be distributed.
- The campaign aims to distribute medicinal plant saplings to 75 lakh households across the country in one year.
- The medicinal plants include Tejpatta, Stevia, Ashoka, Jatamansi, Giloy/Guduchi, Ashwag.
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
2. EXPERTS FLAG DIVERSION OF FRESH WATER FROM BRAHMANI RIVER
THE CONTEXT: Environmentalists expressed concern over the massive diversion of fresh water from the Brahmani river basin, which could pose a grave threat to the famous mangrove vegetation in Odisha.
- Bhitarkanika – a notified Ramsar wetland – is spread over 195 sq. km and is home to 62 mangrove species.
- Besides, 1,600 salt water crocodiles crawl on the mudflats of the Bhitarkanika mangrove forest.
- Mangroves grow in brackish water. Proportionate fresh water flow from the Brahmani river basin and the Kharasrota River keep the salinity level of the water along the shore down.
- The Talcher-Angul coal mines, steel and power plants as well as the Kalinga nagar steel and power hub are drawing enormous quantities of fresh water from the Brahmani river.
- The lack of normal flow of fresh water would increase saline ingression upstream. It would affect the local flora and fauna as well as the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen.
- Besides, there could be a quantum increase in the man–crocodile conflict since the estuarine crocodiles would leave the core sanctuary area and migrate up-stream once salinity increases.
Reference: The Hindu
3. FOOTPRINTS OF 3 DINOSAUR SPECIES FOUND IN THAR DESERT
THE CONTEXT: In a major discovery, footprints of three species of dinosaurs have been found in the Thar desert in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, proving the presence of the giant reptiles in the western part of the State, which formed the seashore to the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic era.
- They belong to three species of dinosaurs — Eubrontes cf. giganteus, Eubrontesglenrosensis and Grallator tenuis.
- All the three species, belonging to the early Jurassic period, were carnivorous.
- Fieldwork in the Kutch and Jaisalmer basins has suggested that after the maintransgression during the early Jurassic period, the sea level changed several times.
Reference: The Hindu
4. TALE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
THE CONTEXT: Seventeen new species have been added to the moth fauna of India from Tale Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh, following moth biodiversity assessments that took place over 29 days in the months of April, May, August and September in 2011 and 2019.
- The study published in Tropical Lepidoptera Research, identifies 497 moth species of which 460 species are identified to species level, while 37 are identified to genus level.
- There are 17 species for which no published records exist from India and are additions to the known moth fauna of India, and more than a hundred species for which no published records exist from Arunachal Pradesh. Over 200 species still remain to be identified.
- Moths are highly diverse organisms and some scientists estimate there are between 1,50,000 to 5,00,000 moth species in the world.
- Their colours are either dazzling or so cryptic that easily camouflage with their surroundings. They vary in shapes and sizes. Most moths are nocturnal, while there are some that fly during the day.
Reference: The Hindu
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
5. BIOLOGICAL E JAB GETS NOD FOR TRIAL AMONG CHILDREN
THE CONTEXT:Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Biological E. Limited has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct further trials of its vaccine Corbevax on children and adolescents.
- Following Zycov-D by Zydus Cadilla and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, Corbevax becomes the thirdIndia-made vaccine that may be available for use in children.
- Zycov-D has already received authorisation for emergency use in children, who are over 12 years.
- Corbevax is based on a vaccine technology of a protein antigen, in this case the spike protein, which binds to the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor on the host cell membrane and facilitates virus entry.
- The body’s own cells then make more copies of this protein that then stimulates the immune system of the body to produce antibodies to protect against a potential, future infection.
Reference: The Hindu
6. THE MU VARIANT
THE CONTEXT: The WHO classified mu as a ‘variant of interest’. It was first found in Colombia in January and subsequently in 38 other countries.
- Mu has changes, called mutations, which mean it might be able to evade some of the protection we get from COVID-19 vaccines.
- But one reassuring element is that, despite being around since January 2021, it doesn’t seem to be outcompeting delta, the dominant variant across most of the world.
- If mu was truly a really bad variant, we would have expected to have started to see indications of this, and we haven’t yet.
WHAT’S A VARIANT OF INTEREST?
- An impressive element of our COVID-19 response has been frequent genomic sequencing, which we haven’t done before on this scale. This tracks and maps the evolution of the virus in real time, as it adapts and mutates.
- Some mutations will be detrimental to the virus, but some will be beneficial, allowing it to spread better, escape the protection offered by vaccines or even evade COVID-19 tests.
- If there are changes to the virus that mean it looks like it has the potential to do more harm, then we might designate it a “variant of interest”.
- Mu has mutations that might confer some of these properties, but evidence is still emerging.
- The four other variants of interest are eta, iota, kappa and lambda.
- If there’s good evidence mu is more serious and beginning to overtake other variants such as delta, it might be upgraded to a “variant of concern”. The four variants of concern are alpha, beta, gamma and delta.
CAN IT ESCAPE VACCINES?
- Most COVID-19 vaccines target the “spike protein” of the virus, which it uses to enter our cells. Our vaccines expose our bodies to a part of the virus, commonly the spike protein, so our immune system can learn to fight the virus off if it encounters it.
- If a variant has significant changes in the spike protein, this may decrease the effectiveness of our vaccines.
- The WHO said preliminary evidence suggests the mu variant could partially evade the antibodies we get from vaccination.
- But because this data is from lab studies, we can’t be sure how the variant will actually play out in the population.
- We need more research to be certain about how it behaves in humans, and work on this is ongoing.
- The good news is our vaccines currently protect well against symptomatic infection and severe disease from all variants of the virus so far.
Reference: The Wire
7. INDIA, U.S. SIGN PROJECT AGREEMENT ON AIR-LAUNCHED UAV
THE CONTEXT: India and the United States signed a project agreement (PA) for an Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV) under the ambit of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
- It was a significant step towards deepening technology collaboration between the two nations through the co-development of equipment, it stated.
- The DTTI’s main aim was to bring a sustained leadership focus on promoting collaborative technology exchange and creating opportunities for co-production and co-development of future technologies for the military forces of both nations.
- Under the DTTI, JWGs on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies had been established to focus on mutually agreed projects in the respective domains.
Reference: The Hindu
8. INDIA, RUSSIA FRIENDSHIP HAS STOOD TEST OF TIME: MODI
The context :The India-Russia friendship has “stood the test of time”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted while virtually addressing the Far Eastern Economic Forum 2021, currently under way in the Russian port city of Vladivostok.
- He mentioned a number of areas spanning connectivity, space research and ship-building, which, he stated, were redefining the strategic bilateral partnership.
- Modi announced that an energy and trade bridge from Vladivostok to Chennai was taking shape.
- The forum was set up by a decree of Mr. Putin in 2015 to support the economic development of Russia’s far east and expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Reference: The Hindu
Q1. Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is situated near the mouth of which of the following river?
- Damodar river
- Mahanadi river
- Brahmani river
- Rushikulya river
ANSWER FOR SEPTEMBER 02, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER RELEVANT ARTICLE)
Q1. Answer: b)
- Statement 1 is incorrect: Black softshell turtle is freshwater turtle.
- Statement 2 is correct: In India, it is found in HayagrivaMadhava Temple located in Assam, India.
- Statement 3 is correct: It is declared as critically endangered species by IUCN
Q2. Answer c)
- The ‘Eat Right Station’ certification is awarded by FSSAI to railway stations that set benchmarks in providing safe and wholesome food to passengers.
- The station is awarded a certificate upon a conclusion of an FSSAI-empanelled third-party audit agency with ratings from 1 to 5. The 5-star rating indicates exemplary efforts by stations to ensure safe and hygienic food is available to passengers.
- The certification is part of the ‘Eat Right India’ movement- a large-scale effort by FSSAI to transform the country’s food system to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable food for all Indians.
- Eat Right India adopts a judicious mix of regulatory, capacity building, collaborative, and empowerment approaches to ensure that our food is suitable both for the people and the planet.
- Chandigarh Railway Station becomes the fifth station in India to get this recognition. The other railway stations with this certification include Anand Vihar Terminal Railway Station; (Delhi), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus; (Mumbai), Mumbai Central Railway Station; (Mumbai) and Vadodara Railway Station.