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21 June, 2020

96 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019
GS-III COVID poses trying times for Diabetics
Ship owners worldwide invited to now flag their ships in India
Atal Innovation Mission partners with Coal India Ltd
National Auto Fuel Policy,2015
PT Pointer Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan
Antibodies against coronavirus start to decrease in 2-3 months,
Water worlds Human Geography
Mussaurus and Protoceratops-Dinosaurs Human Geography
Wild animals in urban clusters-COVID-19 lockdown
COVID19-Plasma therapy
Climate change impact on Ungulates
Juneteenth World History
Automated lung ultrasound (LUS)
GS-II :
Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

Suggestions invited for amending Motor Vehicle Rules for facilitating MOUs with neighbouring countries involving movement of passenger or goods vehicles

Context

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has invited suggestions and comments from all stake holders including general public on the proposed amendment in the Motor Vehicle Draft rules for facilitating MOUs with neighbouring countries involving movement of passenger or goods vehicles.

About Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

  • The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 15, 2019 by the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Mr. Nitin Gadkari. The Bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to provide for road safety. 
  • The Act provides for grant of licenses and permits related to motor vehicles, standards for motor vehicles, and penalties for violation of these provisions.

Compensation for road accident victims:

  • The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour
  • The Bill defines golden hour as the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest. 
  • The central government may also make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance. 
  • The Bill increases the minimum compensation for hit and run cases as follows: (i) in case of death, from Rs 25,000 to two lakh rupees, and (ii) in case of grievous injury, from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000.

Compulsory insurance:

  • The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India. 
  • It will be utilised for:
  1. treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme,
  2. compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident,
  3. compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident, and
  4. compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government. 
  • This Fund will be credited through: (i) payment of a nature notified by the central government, (ii) a grant or loan made by the central government, (iii) balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), or (iv) any other source as prescribed the central government.

Good samaritans:

  • The Bill defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident. 
  • The assistance must have been (i) in good faith, (ii) voluntary, and (iii) without the expectation of any reward. 
  • Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.

Recall of vehicles:

  • The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users. 
  • The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to: (i) reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or (ii) replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications. 

National Transportation Policy:

  • The central government may develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with state governments.  The Policy will: (i) establish a planning framework for road transport, (ii) develop a framework for grant of permits, and (iii) specify priorities for the transport system, among other things.

Road Safety Board:

  • The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification
  • The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including: (i) standards of motor vehicles, (ii) registration and licensing of vehicles, (iii) standards for road safety, and (iv) promotion of new vehicle technology.

Offences and penalties:

  • The Bill increases penalties for several offences under the Act.  For example, the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000. 
  • If a vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with motor vehicle standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. 
  • If a contractor fails to comply with road design standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to one lakh rupees. 
  • The central government may increase fines mentioned under the Act every year by up to 10%.

Taxi aggregators:

  • The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services). 
  • These aggregators will be issued licenses by state 
  • Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000
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GS-III :
COVID poses trying times for Diabetics

COVID poses trying times for Diabetics

Context

  • Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also a renowned Diabetologist, said here today that COVID poses trying times for Diabetics. Delivering the inaugural address, as chief guest, at the "World Congress of Indian Academy of Diabetes" being held for the first time on Virtual platform under the name “Dia-V Con 2020”.

Diabetes and COVID19

  • Those suffering from Diabetes have an immuno-comprised status, which tends to reduce their resistance and make them more vulnerable to Corona like infections as well as consequent complications.
  • This, he said, leads to an even more vulnerable situation when a patient suffering from Diabetes also has kidney involvement or diabetic-nephropathy, chronic kidney disease etc.
  • In a situation like this, the Diabetologists owned a special responsibility towards their patients in keeping their blood sugar level strictly under control to avoid infection and at the same time educating them about precautions to be exercised.
  • He said, even though the COVID related death rate in India has been low as compared to other countries, most of the deaths occurred here were among those Corona positive patients who were also suffering from co-morbidities or chronic disorders like Diabetes.
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GS-III :
Ship owners worldwide invited to now flag their ships in India

Ship owners worldwide invited to now flag their ships in India to take advantage of the Make in India policy of the Government

  • Government of India has recently revised its Make in India Policy for public procurement, among others, of all services. 
  • Under the revised policy, no global tender enquiry shall be issued, except with the approval of the Competent Authority, for the procurement of all services with estimated value of purchases less than Rs. 200 crores.
  • Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Shipping reviewed the readiness of Indian shipping for implementation of the Government’s Cargo Transportation Policy.
  • It is estimated that the Make in India policy will provide an opportunity to at least DOUBLE the number of Indian flag vessels in the immediate term - from the present approximately 450 to at least 900 and more over a period of 3 years - leaving further scope for additional investment in the Indian flag tonnage.
  • With a modern maritime administration, continuous supply of trained seafarers, ship management skills already available, ship owners worldwide are invited to now flag their ships in India to take advantage of the Make in India policy of the Government in respect of transportation of Government cargoes.
  • Singapore-based container shipping company Pacific International Lines Pte Ltd is the first to convert one of its container ships registered in Singapore to the Indian flag to run a service linking Mundra port in Gujarat with the container transhipment terminal at Vallarpadam in Cochin port.

 

Indian Flag vessel

 

  • A ship entitled to fly the flag of a country needs to be registered in that country.
  • The object of registration is to ensure that persons who are entitled to the privilege and protection of the Indian flag get them.
  • The registration affords evidence of title off the ship to those who deal with the property in question.
  • It also gives protection to the members of the crew in case of casualties involving injuries and/or loss of life to claim compensation under the provisions of the Indian Acts in Indian courts.
  • Indian Merchant Shipping Act of 1958, for the first time, dealt with registration of ships

 

Cabotage

  • Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a transport operator from another country.
  • It originally applied to shipping along coastal routes, port to port, but now applies to aviation, railways, and road transport as well.

Cabotage rule

  • In shipping, a ship flies the flag of the country where it is registered and is subjected to the tax jurisdiction of that nation. Only Indian registered ships are allowed to carry cargo on local routes, according to a so-called cabotage rule.
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GS-III :
Atal Innovation Mission partners with Coal India Ltd

Atal Innovation Mission partners with Coal India Ltd to boost its Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiatives

  • Coal India Limited (CIL) has agreed to partner with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog to support proactively the flagship mission’s innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives across the country.
  • A Statement of Intent (SoI) of a strategic partnership between AIM and Coal India Limited was signed and exchanged in a virtual e-summit for the same on Friday June 19.

Atal Innovation Mission

  • AIM has various innovation programs and entrepreneurial ecosystem building initiatives such as Atal Tinkering Labs ( ATL) at a school level, Atal Incubation Centres ( AIC) at institutional levels, Atal Community Innovation Centres ( ACIC) for Tier-2, Tier3 cities and rural India, Atal New India Challenges ( ANIC) at industry level and Applied Research and Innovation ( ARISE) for stimulating innovations in the MSME industry.
  • The collaboration between CIL and AIM intends to conduct various activities / programs to support greater awareness and promotion of the innovation ecosystem through the above mentioned AIM programmes and newer initiatives.
  • The partnership has been categorised program wise where in under Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) CIL has agreed for adoption of select ATLs Schools, help in conducting teacher training sessions and providing mentoring support to ATL students via Mentors of Change.
  • Similarly, under Atal Community Innovation Centres (ACICs), CIL has agreed for adoption and support of ACICs close to their areas of operation, supporting the youth in their journey of societal innovation, hosting community innovation challenges and other innovation based events to spread the impact of the innovation ecosystems being built in the under-served regions of the country.

 

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GS-III :
National Auto Fuel Policy,2015

National Auto Fuel Policy,2015

  • The Auto Fuel Policy, 2003 aims at addressing issues of vehicular emissions and vehicular technologies by applying fuel quality standards
  • An Expert Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Saumitra Chaudhari was set up to review the Auto Fuel Policy, 2003. 
  • Further, the objective of the Expert Committee was to draw a roadmap for the auto fuel quality till 2025.  The Standing Committee made observations and recommendations on the Expert Committee report and the Auto Fuel Policy, 2003.
  • In order to achieve the unified fuel norm, the Ministry should implement the less polluting Bharat Stage (BS)-IV quality of fuel standard across the country by 2017. 
  • Further, the Standing Committee recommends the implementation of the BS-VI quality of fuel standard by 2020.
  • Some public sector refineries do not produce BS-IV quality of fuel.  Hence, the Standing Committee recommends all refineries be upgraded in a phase wise manner to produce BS-IV quality of fuel.
  • The Expert Committee recommended levying a high sulphur cess on high polluting BS-III automotive fuels. 
  • The Expert Committee also recommended a special fuel up-gradation Cess on all gasoline and diesel sold. 
  • The Standing Committee recommends the Ministry to decide on the levy of cess at the earliest.  The sum generated must be utilised for fuel up-gradation projects.
  • As fossil fuel reserves are depleting, the Ministry must assess the commercial viability of non-conventional fuels.
  • In terms of usage, the share of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is low.  Therefore, the Standing Committee recommends the Ministry to give high priority to coverage of more areas under CNG.
  • The establishment of a centralised national data centre for collecting information regarding polluting vehicles is recommended.  In order to achieve this objective, if required, formulating a plan scheme and specific fund allocation has been recommended by the Standing Committee.
  • The constitution of an inter-ministerial committee of secretaries of the concerned Ministries is required. 
  • The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas is the nodal agency and is expected to constitute the same.
  • The Inspection and Maintenance System that enhances the safety and emission performance of vehicles has not been implemented.  Therefore, it is recommended that the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas impresses upon the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to implement the same.
  • Formulation of a vehicle retirement policy will improve air quality. 
  • The Ministry should apply the provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to formulate an age limit for retirement of vehicles.
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GS-III :
Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a massive employment -cum- rural public works Campaign named ‘Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan’ to empower and provide livelihood opportunities in areas/ villages witnessing large number of returnee migrant workers affected by the devastating COVID-19.

Need for Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

  • The Abhiyaan was flagged off from village Telihar, Block Beldaur, district Khagaria, Bihar on June 20 .
  • Right from the time when lockdown was announced, the problems being faced by villagers, poor people, farmers and workers have been one of the priority focus areas .
  • A package of Rs. 1,70,000 crores was announced to take care of essential requirements of the people, which went a long way in mitigating the difficulties of the people.
  • Later, the Prime Minister announced a package of Rs 20 lakh crores on 12th May 2020 whose main objective was to give economic stability.
  • It sought to include agriculture, rural development, employment and creation of new employment opportunities within its ambit.
  • The government has taken cognizance of its responsibility to provide employment to the migrant workers who have returned to their native villages, there itself.

About Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

  • Giving details, the Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Minister said that the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan is being undertaken in 116 districts of 6 states.
  • It will be implemented at the grassroots level with active coordination between 11 ministries of the Central Government.
  • The Abhiyaan will continue for 125 days, and 25 works have been identified which will be taken up for completion.
  • As a result, employment will be rapidly generated. It is an important step towards providing employment to the people on a mission mode.
  • The Abhiyaan will be a convergent effort between different Ministries/Departments, namely; Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport & Highways, Mines, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Environment, Railways, Petroleum & Natural Gas, New & Renewable Energy, Border Roads, Telecom and Agriculture, to expedite implementation of 25 public infrastructure works and works relating to augmentation of livelihood opportunities.

The major objectives of the initiative include:

  • Provide livelihood opportunity to returning migrants and similarly affected rural citizens
  • Saturate villages with public infrastructure and create livelihood opportunities viz. Roads, Housing, Anganwadis, Panchayat Bhavans, various livelihood assets and Community Complexes among others
  • The basket of a wide variety of works will ensure that each migrant worker is able to get an opportunity of employment according to his skill, in the coming 125 days.
  • The Program will also prepare for expansion and development of livelihoods over a longer term.

 The Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal Ministry for this campaign and the campaign will be implemented in close coordination with the State Governments.

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GS-III :
Antibodies against coronavirus start to decrease in 2-3 months,

Antibodies against coronavirus start to decrease in 2-3 months, study finds

Context

  • A few countries, including the U.K., were toying with the idea of issuing some form of a certificate to people who have been infected with novel coronavirus and recovered subsequently, as such people were assumed to be resistant to reinfection.

Study reveals

  • Now, a study published in Nature Medicine suggests that antibodies formed against SARS-CoV-2 begin to decrease in number, just two-three months after infection.
  • “We observed that IgG levels and neutralizing antibodies in a high proportion of individuals who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection start to decrease within two-three months after infection,” Quan-Xin Long from Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China and others write.
  • In contrast, circulating antibodies against 2002-2003 SARS and MERS coronavirus were found to last more than one year.
  • In the case of the 2002 SARS, sustained IgG levels were seen for more than two years after infection, while antibody response lasted for nearly three years in the case of MERS.

Is re-infection possible?

  • This does not necessarily mean that people previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 can be reinfected soon after.
  • Even if the antibody level decreases, it might be protective.
  • A person with low antibody level can get reinfected but the viral load will be low, infectivity will be less and he/she may not progress to a diseased state.
  • Antibodies specific to a virus even when present in low levels will be protective against disease.
  • Besides inducing neutralising antibodies, novel coronavirus has also been found to induce cellular immunity.
  • As a result, the immune system’s T cells and B cells are elevated in an infected person. “Generally, when antibody levels are high, the T cells are low and vice versa,” says Dr. John.
  • When infected by a virus, non-specific immune response in the form of macrophages, neutrophils and other cells tend to prevent the virus from causing symptoms.
  • Soon after, the body makes antibodies specific to the virus called the immunoglobulins — IgG and IgM, called the adaptive response.
  • In addition, the cellular immunity kicks in when the body makes T cells that destroy cells that have been infected by the virus.
  • The combination of adaptive response and cellular immunity “may prevent progression to severe illness or re-infection by the same virus. This process is often measured by the presence of antibodies in blood,” WHO says.
  • They found that asymptomatic people were eliciting a weaker immune response to the virus compared with those who developed symptoms.
  • As a result, 40% of asymptomatic individuals had antibody levels at undetectable levels compared with nearly 13% in the case of symptomatic individuals.
  • Nearly 80% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 show no or very mild symptoms.

Implications

  • The reduction in IgG and neutralizing antibody levels in the early convalescent phase might have implications for immunity strategy and serological surveys.
  • These data might indicate the risks of using COVID-19 ‘immunity passports’ and support the prolongation of public health interventions, including social distancing, hygiene, isolation of high-risk groups and widespread testing.
  • Besides T cells, people infected with coronavirus also make memory B cells, which rapidly produce antibodies when required.
  • If they find the virus again, they remember and start to make antibodies very, very quickly.
  • Another paper published in Nature found that even when the antibodies were present at low levels, it was sufficient to neutralise the virus.
  • The authors say that “most convalescent plasmas obtained from individuals who recover from COVID-19 do not contain high levels of neutralizing activity” yet antibodies with “potent antiviral activity” were found in all these individuals.
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GS-I : Human Geography
Water worlds

Water worlds

  • Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa are still interesting as candidates that may support life, because scientists have spotted water plumes bursting from their icy shells.
  • NASA guesses that more than many exoplanets could be ‘water worlds’.
  • This includes some members of the Trappist-1 system which is 40 light years away.
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GS-I : Human Geography
Mussaurus and Protoceratops-Dinosaurs

Mussaurus and Protoceratops

  • These are the earliest dinosaurs.
  • Their eggs are soft-shelled.
  • The embryo-containing eggs were leathery on the outside rather than hard and calcified on outside.
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GS-III :
Wild animals in urban clusters-COVID-19 lockdown

Wild animals in urban clusters

Context

  • During these days of lockdown across various parts of India, we see reports of ‘wild’ animals coming over to the cities, towns and urban clusters.
  • In Uttarakhand, an elephant was reported to come down unusually near Hari ki Pauri in Haridwar. A leopard was sighted in Almora. In Karnataka, elephants, spotted deer and sambar deer had transgressed into towns, while in Maharashtra, people spotted scores of civet cats, mongooses and porcupines in communities.
  • All these ‘trespasses’ have been happening not only in India but across the world, wherever lockdowns took place and regular human activities have been curtailed. Once these lockdowns are lifted, animals are expected to retire back to their wild environment – wherever and however limited they are.

Wild land to Civilised land

  • To get a perspective of this, note that of the total land area of the world, which is about 510 million square km, 30% is desert and 24% mountainous, leaving us humans to occupy about 45-50% of the remaining area when we started to live as communities about 17,000 years ago. (Prior to that, humans lived in the wild, along with animals and plants, as hunter gatherers).
  • And over these millennia, particularly during the present one, we have built cities and urban clusters, thus making what was ‘wild’ land into ‘civilised’ land.
  • Indeed, geo-zoologists have argued that it is we humans who have transgressed and changed the landscape of Mother Earth.
  • Incidentally, this appears to be true of not only on land, but in water as well.
  • BBC news reported how with a lull in traffic in the Bosphorus marine route during lockdown in Istanbul, dolphins are increasingly sighted near the shores of the city.
  • Likewise, as the Ganga became less polluted in recent days due to decreased industrial and human waste during lockdown, the Ganges dolphins and gharials (fish-eating crocodiles) have been sighted in larger numbers.
  • COVID-19 could infect mountain gorillas which are likely to be particularly vulnerable as they share about 98% of their DNA with humans.
  • They, like all great apes, are already endangered due to habitat loss, poaching and diseases – only 900 remain in the mountains of Central Africa.

Five reasons for increase in wild life along urban clusters

  • Five reasons you might be seeing more wildlife during the COVID-19 pandemic.These are:
  1. since restaurants are closed and trash collections have moved elsewhere, this ‘human handout’ causes rats and insects to invade towns in search of food;
  2. since there are not many humans and their pets are around, the fear that predatory animals and us, ‘super-predators’, are not there; this has caused the increase of wild animals in urban areas;
  3. common birds are not scared of us. We see and hear them chattering and singing. During the lockdown, it is nice and quiet and it appears that birds adjust their songs and the times they sing. (The ongoing study called The Sounds of the City supports this idea);
  4. the seasons play a role too. In the U.S., springtime occurs during March through May, and birds start migrating, snakes come out of hibernation and look for food and for mates. (In India, the seasonal farming starts around this time as well) and
  5. we ourselves are (finally) paying more attention to all these features during lockdown than at other times, and exchange all these observations through social media.

 

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GS-III :
COVID19-Plasma therapy

Antibodies from convalescent plasma protect against COVID-19

  • A team of scientists led by Dennis R. Burton from the Scripps Research Institute has discovered that neutralising antibodies present in the blood of COVID-19 infected who have recovered offers powerful protection against novel coronavirus in animals.

Role for antibodies

  • The small animals that received high dose of antibodies did not lose weight and the amount of virus in the lungs was low compared with those that received low dose of the antibodies and the control group.
  • The study suggests a role for neutralising antibodies in prophylaxis(treatment given to prevent a disease), and potentially therapy, of COVID-19.
  • Prior to transferring and testing the ability of the antibodies to protect the animals from the virus, the researchers tested it on human cell cultures and found the antibodies to have superior ability to protect against the virus.
  • Two different antibodies in five different concentrations were tested on the small animals to evaluate dose-dependent protection.
  • The highest dose tested was 2 mg/animal and the lowest dose was 8 microgram/animal.
  • The animals were challenged with the virus 12 hours after the antibodies were transferred. Lung tissues were collected to measure viral load on day 5 post virus challenge.
  • In contrast to the antibody to receptor-binding domain(RBD) of the virus, the less potent and incompletely neutralising antibody showed no evidence of protection at any concentration compared to the control animals.

Promising study

  • The authors state that the efficacy of the antibodies in Syrian hamsters is “promising” and suggest that human studies be undertaken based on animal trial results.
  • Incidentally, the researchers also identified one antibody that can neutralise the 2002 SARS virus.
  • According to the release, the antibodies can be injected into patients in the early stage of the disease to reduce the viral load and thus protect the patient from progressing to the severe form of the disease.
  • The antibodies also may be used to provide temporary, vaccine-like protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection for healthcare workers, elderly people and others who respond poorly to traditional vaccines or are suspected of a recent exposure to the coronavirus.
  • The antibodies can then be mass-produced either as a treatment to prevent deterioration of the disease and as a preventive vaccine, as in the case of Ebola virus, the release notes.
  • More than 1,000 antibody-producing immune cells called the B cells were first isolated. These antibodies were isolated based on their ability to bind to the virus and prevent it from infecting the test cells.

Gene sequence

  • Each of the 1,000 immune B cells produced a distinct antibody against the virus. In order to mass-produce the antibody, the scientists obtained the gene sequence of each antibody.
  • They then screened each antibody and 33 antibodies that could block the virus from binding to the test cells were identified.
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GS-III :
Climate change impact on Ungulates

A struggle to co-exist with humans

  • Today, the whopping 750 crore human population has made an impact on most flora and fauna.
  • Taking into consideration this lack of abatement in human population growth, an international team of researchers observes how these ecological disruptions affect the life of ungulates (hoofed large mammals).
  • The team notes that humans have brought about changes in the Himalayan realm – there is an increase in cashmere goats, and also, stray dogs have started hunting ungulates including threatened, endangered, and rare ones such as kiang, chiru, saiga and takin.

Himalaya and Andes

  • The team also draws similarities between the two giant mountain ranges – the Himalaya and the Andes, both homes to unique ungulate fauna.
  • Both are currently experiencing increased deglaciation, human colonisation, climate alteration, livestock and tourism-induced changes.
  • A paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution stresses that the “world’s 400 million free-ranging dogs – through disease, predation, and displacement – have changed the face of ungulate communities on every continent.”
  •  Dogs prey on saiga, blue sheep, argali, chiru, kiang, goral, ibex, sambar, chital and blackbuck.
  • The high elevation dogs of Bhutan also harbour tapeworms which when consumed via grasses by yaks can cause coenurosis, a neurological disease that may result in about 10% mortality of young yaks.
  • Human activities such as the seasonal relocation of agro-pastoralists to collect the worm fungus Cordyceps can also have an impact on the ungulates.
  • These high-elevation environments have experienced minimal direct human disturbance, and this movement can lead to the displacement of native species.
  • Previous studies have shown that many apex predators have been lost due to fear, habitat conversion and loss of prey.

Key issues

  • Issues of the 19th and 20th century, overharvest, poaching, and wildlife slaughter will not be the most pressing in the 21st century.” Climate change and rapid destruction of habitat will be key.
  • High-elevation ungulates have been known to be affected through changes in ice and snow and the availability of snow patches.
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GS-I : World History
Juneteenth

Juneteenth

  • Juneteenth also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.
  • Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition.
  • Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free.
  • President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation,1865 had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and the other states in rebellion against the Union almost two and a half years earlier.
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GS-III :
Automated lung ultrasound (LUS)

IIT-Palakkad develops ultrasound for COVID-19 screening

  • The IIT, Palakkad, has developed an automated lung ultrasound (LUS) for COVID-19 screening and monitoring through cloud-based image analysis and scoring system.
  • The app, the first of its kind in India, is now available for clinicians to perform automated analysis by just uploading the ultrasound video.
  • Motivated by the promising results that showed the relevance and importance of LUS in COVID-19 patients, the IIT team conducted LUS analysis of normal, viral, and bacterial infected lungs, using image processing and neural networks and developed an automated LUS analysis tool.
  • Following a simple protocol of LUS, acquires the lung images and transfers the images to the cloud (pulseecho.in/alus/). The images are analysed over the cloud and scores are assigned according to certain criteria either for the type of infection or its severity.
  • He says the methodology will be extremely useful in time-critical COVID-19 working conditions where clinicians have time limitations in manually evaluating ultrasound videos of all patients.
  • According to Dr.Panicker, the approach is not only restricted to COVID-19 detection but also to identifing other lung infections such as pulmonary oedema, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, pneumothorax, COPD or asthma with the availability of clinical data.
  • Also, early chest computerised tomography (CT) has been recommended for screening suspected COVID-19 patients.
  • However, the high contagiousness of COVID-19 and the risk of transporting unstable patients make chest CT a limited option for those who have contracted the disease.
  • LUS has the added advantage of ease of use at point-of-care (portability), repeatability, absence of radiation exposure, and low cost.
  • In the past few weeks, he says LUS has been proposed as the single imaging-based screening and monitoring approach for the safety of healthcare practitioners.
  • However, LUS is not very commonly adopted in India and ultrasound, by nature itself, requires specific experience and skill.
  • Dr. Prasad says the uploaded images are classified into healthy lung, viral infection, and bacterial infection. But in the case of severity of infection, the images have been classified into levels of increasing severity such as normal lung characterised by A lines and healthy pleura, slightly infectious lung with A + B lines, infectious lung with only B lines or heavy B patch, and serious lung infection characterised by lung consolidations and air bronchograms.
  • Currently, the classification of infection type has an accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of 96%, 95% and 97% respectively, whereas the severity classification has accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of 97 %, 92% and 98% respectively.
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