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Monthly DNA

12 May, 2020

55 Min Read

Polar vortex brings spring snow

GS-I : Human Geography Climatology

The polar vortex brings spring snow to parts of North America


Winter in May - snowfall covers parts of the northeast United States and Canada. A polar vortex has brought cold weather and springtime snow to parts of the northeast United States and Canada.
The stream of arctic air slipped south on Saturday, bringing the unusual weather. In many areas, snow flurries fell against a backdrop of sunny skies, green trees and flowers. The US National Weather Service issued a freeze warning extending into early Sunday for most of the country's northeast.
Parts of New Jersey woke up to a rather cold surprise on Saturday with a dusting of snow as temperatures in some areas of the US state dropped to below zero degrees Celsius.

What it is?

Recently, the United States is grappling with extreme cold with temperature reaching to -30°C in cities like Chicago and Dakota.

  • This is caused by a blast of Arctic air, which is a result of a “polar vortex” event.
  • The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It was also known as the Polar Pig.
  • The term "vortex" refers to the counterclockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles. It always exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter.
  • However, many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward. This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States and portions of Europe and Asia.
  • It is also not a feature that exists at the Earth’s surface, rather it exists tens of thousands of feet up in the atmosphere.
  • By itself, the only danger to humans is the magnitude of how cold temperatures will get when the polar vortex expands, sending Arctic air southward into areas that are not typically that cold.

How is it Linked to Global Warming

  • The global temperature has risen by 0.8°C since 1880.
  • The Arctic has warmed over twice the average.
  • The temperature difference between North Pole and regions like North America has reduced.
  • The energy generated by the jet stream travels upward and disrupts the polar vortex, causing it to split.
  • One of these two "child" vortices has visited North America this week, causing the record temperatures.

Source: AIR

Toda artisans

GS-I :

Toda artisans


Toda artisans from the Nilgiris have come forward to use their traditional skills in making face-masks and to help people ward off the infection and also provide Todas with livelihood.

  • Toda Tribe is a pastoral tribe of the Nilgiri Hills of southern India.
  • The Toda language is Dravidian but is the most unusual and different among the languages belonging to the Dravidian family.
  • They live in settlements of from three to seven small thatched houses.
  • They traditionally trade dairy products, as well as cane and bamboo articles, with the other Nilgiri peoples.

Toda Embroidery

  • In the Toda language it is called pohor.
  • The traditional Toda dress is a distinctive shawl which is called putukuli. Considered a grand garment, it is only worn for special occasions like visits to the temple, festivals and finally as a shroud.
  • The embroidery is done by Toda women and has distinctive red and black (and occasionally blue) thread work in geometric designs on unbleached white cotton fabric.
  • It has got a Geographical Indications (GI) Tag.

For GI read: https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Bangalore-Blue-for-Karnatakas-and-GI-analysis

Source: TH

National Technology Day-Technology Development Board


National Technology Day


Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today paid tributes to all the scientists in the country who are using science and technology to bring a positive difference in the lives of others.

On National Technology Day (May 11th), our nation salutes all those who are leveraging technology to bring a positive difference in the lives of others.

About National Technology Day

India is observing its 29th National Technology Day on May 11,2020. The day, which was first observed on May 11, 1999, aims to commemorate the scientific and technological achievements of Indian scientists and engineers.

1. May 11 is also the day when India conducted its first successful test in Pokhran. On May 11, 1998, India successfully fired the Shakti-I nuclear missile at an Army test range in Rajasthan’s Pokhran. Two days later, the country conducted two more nuclear tests as a part of the same operation, following which India joined the elite club of nuclear power nations.

2. The day also marks the flight of indigenously developed Hansa-3. It was developed jointly by National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab.

3. On the same day, that is, May 11, 1988, the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) completed the final test fire of the surface-to-air Trishul missile.

4. Former Indian PM Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee coined this term to celebrate the contributions made by Indian scientists.

5. Every year since 1999, the Technology Development Board (TBD) celebrates this day by awarding individuals for their scientific contributions to India.

About Technology Development Board

The Government of India constituted the Technology Development Board (TDB) in September 1996, under the Technology Development Board Act, 1995, as a statutory body, to promote development and commercialization of indigenous technology and adaptation of imported technology for wider application. The board consists of 11 Board members.

The TDB is the first organization of its kind within the government framework with the sole objective of commercializing the fruit of indigenous research. The Board plays a pro-active role by encouraging enterprises to take up technology oriented products.

Provides equity capital or loans to industrial concerns and financial assistance to research and development institutions.

Funding pattern

The Fund has been receiving grants from the Government of India out of the cess collections from the industrial concerns under the provisions of the Research and Development Cess Act, 1986, as amended in 1995. Any income from investment of the amount of the Fund and the recoveries made of the amounts disbursed from the Fund are credited for building up the Fund. The finance Act, 1999, enabled full deductions to the donations made to the fund for income tax purposes.

The objectives are to:

  • promote new ideas from small enterprises even at the risk of failures;
  • encourage production of competitive consumer products;
  • motivate industries and R&D institutions for product innovation;
  • develop socially relevant and profitable technologies;
  • identify and act in areas requiring strategic interventions;
  • Invest in core Technological Strengths to Enable India Industry to Stand-up to the competitive Pressure and Become a global Player.

The board:

  • Facilitates interaction between industry, scientists, technocrats and specialists;
  • Facilitates the creation of new generation of entrepreneurs;
  • Assists partnerships with other, similar technology financing bodies;
  • Creates new job opportunities.

Source: PIB

One Nation One Ration Card system.


One Nation One Ration Card system.


The timeline given to all States/UTs, under the Aadhaar notification of the Department of Food and Public Distribution dated 07.02.2017 (as amended from time-to-time) to complete the seeding of Aadhaar numbers with all ration cards/beneficiaries, has been extended up to 30/09/2020 by the Department.

Further, instructions are also issued that food grains under NFSA shall not be denied due to failure of biometric / Aadhaar authentication of beneficiary because of poor biometrics of the beneficiary, issues with network/connectivity/linking or any other technical reasons. During the current crisis situation, a pragmatic approach is needed so that no poor or deserving person or family is denied access to food grains.

About Integrated Management of PDS

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has launched a new central sector scheme- Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IMPDS). It will be implemented during 2018-19 and 2019-20.

To sustain the reforms brought in by scheme on ‘End to End Computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) Operations’ the Department has launched a new scheme namely “Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS)” for implementation during 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The main objective of the scheme is to introduce nation-wide portability of ration card (One Nation-One Ration Card) holders under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), to lift their entitlement foodgrains from any FPS of their choice in the country without the need of obtaining a new ration card, by integrating the existing PDS systems/portals of States/UTs with the Central systems/portals under Central Repository of all NFSA ration cards/beneficiaries thereby enabling One Nation One Ration Card system.

The central repository also ensures that no duplicate ration card/beneficiary exist in any State/UT under NFSA

With a view to address challenges such as leakage and diversion of foodgrains, inclusion/exclusion errors, fake and bogus ration cards, Government is implementing a scheme on “End-to-End Computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) Operations”.

The scheme comprises digitization of ration cards/beneficiary and other databases, online allocation, computerization of supply-chain management, setting up of transparency portal and grievance redressal mechanisms

Source: PIB

ICMR's clearance on using convalescent plasma therapy


ICMR's clearance on using convalescent plasma therapy


The U.S. FDA and India’s ICMR have approved the use of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients only for trial purposes.

With the ethics committee approval in hand on May 8, the ICMR cleared the last hurdle to conduct a multicentric phase-2 trial using convalescent plasma on COVID-19 patients with moderate illness.

Phase 2 trial- to check the efficacy of Plasma therapy

  • Its three feasibility studies in about 20 severely ill patients found the therapy to be safe and able to resolve illness or improve the clinical symptoms.
  • Since safety of convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 illness is not a huge concern, the first stage of the human clinical trial has been skipped; the ICMR will instead study plasma safety and efficacy in a phase-2 trial with 452 patients.
  • The patients with moderate COVID-19 illness will be randomly assigned to receive either convalescent plasma (226 participants) or only standard of care (control group).
  • The primary outcomes of the trial in 21 hospitals that will be studied include prevention of illness from progressing to a severe form, and avoidance of deaths from all causes at 28 days after plasma infusion.
  • And key secondary outcomes will include resolution of symptoms, reduction in hospital stay and respiratory support.
  • Plasma will be collected from donors 28 days after they make a complete recovery from illness or are symptom-free and have more than the required level of antibodies against the novel coronavirus.
  • Molecular and also other routine tests will be done before plasma use.

Convalescent plasma therapy

Convalescent plasma therapy, about a century old, has shown some benefit in treating measles, chickenpox and rabies.

Small studies have shown faster clearance of virus in the case of MERS and SARS if given early in the course of the disease .

Issues in Convalescent plasma therapy

  • No randomised controlled studies have been carried out.
  • No benefit was seen in 2015 on some Ebola patients treated with convalescent plasma in Guinea.
  • Only three small studies involving 21 COVID-19 patients have been carried out but not in trials where the participants were randomised with a control arm.
  • Till date, there is a dearth of randomised controlled trials that clearly demonstrate the efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy for any infectious disease, including COVID-19.

Way Ahead

Even in the absence of any effective treatment or a vaccine, the pandemic provides an opportunity to ascertain the clinical benefits of plasma therapy through randomised controlled trials.

The ICMR’s insistence on an evidence-based approach to plasma therapy is in contrast to the cavalier manner in which it approved the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, as a prophylaxis(treatment given or action taken to prevent disease) for coronavirus without carrying out any trial and relying on evidence that was slim and intended only for treatment, and also when the risks were unknown.

If the trial outcomes are overwhelmingly positive, the agency would be ethically obliged to recommend plasma therapy as a standard of care for COVID-19 patients.

Source: TH

Feluda Test


Feluda Test


Recently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) has developed India’s first paper strip test for Covid-19 namely, ‘Feluda’.

Imp Points

  • Description:
    • The Feluda is a paper strip test that detects the coronavirus in an hour.
    • Feluda is an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection.
    • It is expected to help to fulfil an urgent need of the rapid testing in India.
    • It is the first such indigenous test kit to be developed in India based on Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technology.
      • CRISPR is a gene editing technology, which replicates natural defence mechanisms in bacteria to fight virus attacks, using a special protein called Cas9.
      • CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information. The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or edited, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand.
      • A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself. Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.
  • Comparison to the RT-PCR Test:
    • Working Principle: The Feluda test uses the gene-editing tool-Crispr-Cas9 to target and identify genomic sequences of the novel coronavirus in suspected individual samples.
      • RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) detects the virus genetic material, which is the Ribonucleic acid (RNA) .
    • Cost: The Feluda test will cost less than Rs.500 compared to Rs. 4500 for the real-time PCR test which is currently being used for Covid-19 diagnosis in India.
    • Required Medical Machinery: The Feluda test also does not rely on expensive real-time PCR machines for RNA isolation, DNA conversion, and amplification which are already in limited supply in the country.

Source: FE

National Technology Day


National Technology Day

India is observing its 29th National Technology Day on 11th May, 2020.

  • The day which was first observed on 11 May, 1999, aims to commemorate the scientific and technological achievements of Indian scientists, engineers. The day was named by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • Every year, the Technology Development Board of India (a statutory body under the Ministry of Science and Technology) celebrates the day by awarding individuals with National Award for their contribution to science and technology in India.
  • The focus this year is ‘Rebooting the economy through Science and Technology.’


  • It is the day India successfully tested nuclear bombs in Pokhran on May 11, 1998.
    • India successfully test-fired its Shakti-1 nuclear missile in operation called Pokhran-II, also codenamed as Operation Shakti.
    • The nuclear missile was tested at the Indian Army's Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. This was the second test which was conducted after Pokhran-I codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha, in May 1974.
  • On the same day, India performed a successful test firing of the Trishul Missile (surface to air short range missile) and had test flown the first indigenous aircraft – ‘Hansa – 3’.

Source: PIB

Gandhi Peace Prize

GS-I :

Gandhi Peace Prize


The Ministry of Culture invites nominations for awarding Gandhi Peace Prize every year. The nominations are to be made in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Procedure for the Gandhi Peace Prize which is available in the Ministry of Culture.

About the Gandhi Peace Prize

  • The Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted in the year 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • This annual award is given to individuals and institutions for their contributions towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods.
  • The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 crore, a citation and a Plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item.
  • The Award for every year is selected by a Jury under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister.
  • Julius K Nyerere, former Tanzanian President, was the first recipient of the award in 1995.
  • The recipient is selected by a Jury, headed by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and consisting of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India and two other eminent persons. The prize is open to all the individuals regardless of their nationality.
  • Only achievements within the last 10 years or the older works, significance of which has become apparent recently will be considered.

About Indira Gandhi Prize

  • The Indira Gandhi Prize or the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize or the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is the prestigious award accorded annually by Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust to individuals or organisations in recognition of creative efforts toward promoting international peace, development and a new international economic order; ensuring that scientific discoveries are used for the larger good of humanity, and enlarging the scope of freedom.
  • The prize carries a cash award of 2.5 million Indian rupees and a citation.
  • A written work, in order to be eligible for consideration, should have been published. The panel constituted by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust consists of prominent national and international personalities including previous recipients. The recipients are chosen from a pool of national and international nominees.

Source: PIB

MERIT Portal


MERIT Portal

  • ‘MERIT’ - Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency.
  • The portal has been developed by Ministry of Power in association with POSOCO and Central Electricity Authority.
  • It displays extensive array of information regarding the merit order of Electricity procured by States such as daily source-wise power purchases of respective states/UTs.
  • Information available in the Portal shall help State Discoms to optimize their power procurement in more efficient way leading to lower cost of power to consumers.

Source: Web

City Liveability Index

GS-I : Human Geography Urbanisation

City Liveability Index

  • The index was launched by the Ministry of Urban Development.
  • The index is for measuring the quality of life in 116 major cities including smart cities, capital cities and cities with a population of above one million each.
  • It accesses cities on a comprehensive set of 79 parameters to capture the extent and quality of infrastructure including the availability of roads, education and health care, mobility, employment opportunities, emergency response, grievance redressal, pollution, availability of open and green spaces, cultural and entertainment opportunities etc.

Source: AIR

SwasthVayu ventilator


SwasthVayu ventilator


CSIR - National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) Bangalore, a constituent of the lab of CSIR has developed a Non-Invasive BiPAP Ventilator in a record time of 36 days to treat COVID-19 patients.

About BiPAP Non-Invasive ventilator

  • BiPAP Non-Invasive ventilator is a microcontroller-based precise closed-loop adaptive control system with a built-in biocompatible “3D printed manifold & coupler” with HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particulate Air Filter).
  • These unique features help to alleviate the fear of the virus spread.


  • It has features like Spontaneous, CPAP, Timed, AUTO BIPAP modes with provision to connect Oxygen concentrator or Enrichment unit externally.


  1. The system has been certified for safety and performance by NABL accredited agencies. The system has undergone stringent biomedical tests and beta clinical trials at NAL Health Centre.
  2. The major advantage of this machine is that it is simple to use without any specialized nursing, cost effective, compact and configured with majority of indigenous components.
  3. This is ideal for treating COVID -19 patients in Wards, Make shift Hospitals, dispensaries and home in current Indian COVID 19 scenario.

Source: PIB

Bright nights

GS-I : Human Geography Structure of Atmosphere

Bright nights

  • It is a phenomenon in which the night sky is bright enough to read a book even in the absence of moonlight.
  • A new theory says it is due to slow-moving, high-altitude atmospheric waves merging together and amplifying the light from the naturally occurring airglow.
  • The theory says that for every seven nights out of 100 there is a bright night somewhere on the earth.

Source: WEB

VAJRA scheme


VAJRA scheme

  • Recently, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched a scheme named 'Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty (VAJRA).
  • Under this scheme, scientists or senior researchers abroad of Indian origin or otherwise can collaborate with Indian faculties for conducting joint research in India.
  • The foreign researchers would receive endowments at par with those in their own countries.
  • The broad areas of research like energy, health, advance material and others would be promoted under the scheme.

Source: PIB




  • NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite (NISAR) is the world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite.
  • NISAR is dual frequency RADAR, it is an L-band and S-band RADAR. It is the first such satellite using dual frequency RADAR.
  • The S-band is being built by ISRO and L-band by NASA.
  • It is expected that the NISAR satellite will be launched in 2021 from India using the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
  • One of the main purposes of the mission is to observe Earth and establish a general pathway for future joint missions for Mars exploration
  • It will take weekly snapshots of earth that will provide time lapse images of the motion of tectonic plates, ice sheets and changes in vegetation over land in agriculture and forests.
  • NISAR will provide a means of resolving highly spatial and temporally complex processes ranging from ecosystem disturbances, to ice sheet collapse and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides.

Source: PIB

Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI)

GS-III : Economic Issues Terminology

Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI)

  • MSCI is the world’s biggest index compiler, with more than $10 trillion in assets benchmarked to its products.
  • Recently it said, China’s local currency shares referred to as China ‘A’ shares would be added to the index.
  • MSCI is closely tracked by global investors and the inclusion of china’s shares will open up investment interest from foreign investors and adds financial credibility.
  • If china continues to gain more weightage on the index, more money could flow out of India.

Source: TH

CHESS rocket


CHESS rocket

  • NASA is launching a new CHESS-sounding rocket which will study vast interstellar clouds to understand the earliest stages of star formation.
  • Deep in space between distant stars, vast clouds of neutral atoms and molecules, as well as charged plasma particles called the interstellar medium that may evolve into new stars and even planets.
  • It will measure light filtering through the interstellar medium to study the atoms and molecules within, which provides crucial information for understanding the life-cycle of stars.

Source: Web

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