|GS-II||CHRI Report on Slavery||Governance|
|India Report on Digital Education, 2020||Governance|
|Protesting is a Fundamental Right||Governance|
|GS-III||Hiroshima Black Rain|
|AIM-iCREST: NITI Aayog|
|WTO: Dispute Panels against India||Economic Issues|
|Higher Food Prices||Economic Issues|
|Aerial Seeding in Haryana|
|Antibiotic Use in Dairy Sector|
|Ammonia in Yamuna|
|PT Pointer||Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar|
|Important GS Topics||Antibiotic resistance analysis (RS TV)|
Hiroshima Black Rain
GS-Paper-3 Environment (PT)
Recently, a district court of Hiroshima (Japan) has recognised 84 survivors of the post-nuclear explosion “black rain” as the atomic bomb survivors enabling them to avail benefits like free medical care.
Nuclear Explosion: In 1945, the USA dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August respectively, which marked the end of World War II. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the incident.
The explosion and resultant firestorms are believed to have killed around 80,000 people in Hiroshima and around 40,000 people in Nagasaki. Thousands more died in the following years due to the exposure to radiation from the blast and also from the black rain that fell in the aftermath of the explosions.
Black Rain: The debris and soot from the destroyed buildings in Hiroshima (estimated 69% of the buildings was destroyed) mixed with the radioactive fallout from the bomb, rose high into the atmosphere in the form of a mushroom cloud. This material combined with the vapour in the atmosphere and came down as dark drops of liquid that have been called black rain.
Survivors describe it as consisting of large, greasy drops that are much heavier than normal raindrops. Nagasaki witnessed less black rain despite the fact that the nuclear bomb dropped on it was more powerful than Hiroshima’s. It killed fewer people and its effects were confined to a smaller area because of Nagasaki’s geographical position between hills. The blast did not produce firestorms and the material contributing to black rain was less.
Black rain is full of highly radioactive material and exposure to it can result in serious illnesses. A study conducted in 1945 showed that black rain had come down as far as 29 km away from ground zero. In relation to nuclear explosions and other large bombs, ground zero is the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation.
In the case of an explosion above the ground, ground zero is the point on the ground directly below the nuclear detonation and is sometimes called the hypocenter. The rain contaminated everything it came in contact with. Dead fish were reported floating in water bodies and severely ill cattle were seen lying in the fields.
Black rain caused Acute Radiation Symptoms (ARS) in many who were exposed to it. These symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, fever, sore throat and loss of hair. Over time, many people who were exposed to black rain have developed cancer as well.
Effects of the Ruling:
The Hiroshima District Court ruling recognises the plaintiffs as Hibakusha (Japanese term for the survivors of the nuclear blasts). It gives hope to many others because the decision may pave the way for the government to reconsider the limits it has set on who can be considered a survivor of the atomic bomb.
AIM-iCREST: NITI Aayog
GS-PAPER- 3 S&T (PT-MAINS)
Recently, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has launched an incubator capabilities enhancement program ‘AIM-iCREST’. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
AIM’s Atal and Established Incubators:
Business incubators are institutions that support entrepreneurs in developing their businesses, especially in initial stages. Incubation is usually done by institutions which have experience in the business and technology world.
Atal Incubation Centres: AIM intends to support the establishment of new incubation centres called Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) that would nurture innovative start-ups in their pursuit to become scalable and sustainable business enterprises.
Established Incubation Centres: In recent years, academia, industry, investors, small and big entrepreneurs, government organizations, and non-governmental organizations have taken an initiative to set up incubation centres across the country. AIM envisages to upgrade these Established Incubation Centres (EICs) to world-class standards.
Atal Innovation Mission
GS-Paper-3 WTO- Dispute redressal mechanism (MAINS)
Recently, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has set up two dispute settlement panels targeting import duties imposed by India on a number of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products including mobile phones. It was done on the request of Japan and Taiwan, taking up the number of panels constituted to examine the same tariff-related issue to three. In June 2020, the European Union (EU) had a panel established against India on the same issue.
India managed to block Japan’s first request for a panel on the grounds that the complaint undermined India’s sovereignty. India also rejected the EU’s suggestion of agreeing to one consolidated panel combining complaints from all three of them and saving time and resources. India argued that all three complainants are seeking to get the country to take on commitments under the Information Technology Agreement-II (ITA-II) which it never agreed to.
Information Technology Agreement
Information Technology Agreement-II
GS-Paper-3 Economy Inflation (Mains)
Recently, the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition in New York conducted a study titled “Pandemic Prices: Covid-19 Price Shocks and their Implications for Nutrition Security in India”. It analysed prices of cereals (wheat and rice) and non-cereals (onion, tomatoes, potatoes, five pulses and eggs) in 11 tier-1 and tier-2 cities from 1st March-31st May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
Concerns: The relative stability in cereal prices and enhanced prices of pulses will most likely distort spending and consumption decisions resulting in a staple-based, protein-deficient diet hampering the food security in the country. The relatively higher prices of more nutritious food make it difficult for the poor and marginal population to access such nutrient-rich food. As a result, the proportion of such foods in the diets goes further down and is replaced by less nutritious and calorie-dense foods. It will worsen the nutritional status of women and children across India, and more so in the impoverished regions of the country. The study also criticised the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act,1955 which deregulated cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes.
Food and nutrition security is ensured if all of the citizens of a nation have enough nutritious food available, all of them have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and there is no barrier to access to food. The right to nutritious food is a well-established principle of international human rights law. It has evolved to include an obligation for state parties to respect, protect and fulfil their citizens’ right to food and nutrition security.
Aerial Seeding in Haryana
GS-Paper-3 Biodiversity (PT-MAINS) IFS EXAM
Recently, the Haryana government has employed aerial seeding techniques to improve green cover in the Aravalli area of the state. The project is being carried out on a pilot basis to regenerate the low vegetation density or denuded areas on inaccessible or difficult sites of Aravalli and Shivalik hills.
Aerial Seeding is a plantation technique wherein seed balls — seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components — are sprayed using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.
Working: Seeds balls/pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by low-flying drones, with the coating providing the required weight for seeds to airdrop on a predetermined location rather than getting deterred by the wind. These pellets sprout when there is enough rain, with nutrients present within them helping in initial growth.
Areas that are inaccessible, having steep slopes or no forest routes, can be targeted using this method.
The process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed and thus seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of plantation.
They eliminate any need for ploughing and do not need to be planted since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms. The clay shell also protects them from birds, ants and rats.
Species to be Used for Aerial Seeding: The plant species which are native to the area and hardy, with seeds that are of an appropriate size for preparing seedballs are usually used for aerial seeding, with a higher survival percentage.
Use of Seeding Drone:
The method involves spraying seed balls or seed pellets from the air using seeding drones. It is equipped with a precise delivery mechanism for seeds of different sizes from a height of 25 to 50 metres. A single drone can plant 20,000-30,000 seeds a day.
The method is being implemented on 100 acres of land to test efficacy of the seed dispersal mechanism and review the success rate.
The species that will be planted through aerial seeding include Acacia senegal (Khairi), Ziziphus mauritiana (Beri), and Holarrhena spp (Inderjo), all of which have a higher chance of survival in these areas.
Also, site specific grass seeds will also be added to the mix as they serve as good soil binders.
It will provide work opportunities to the local community, especially women, who can prepare the seed balls. The method will be useful since there are many areas that are either difficult to reach or inaccessible altogether, making traditional methods of plantation difficult.
Antibiotic Use in Dairy Sector
GS-PAPER-3 Health (Mains)
Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) held an online meeting on antibiotic use in the dairy sector. The meeting was attended by experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying), the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, (CDSCO) etc. The meeting highlighted that the milk sold directly to consumers and the processed milk sold in packets are not tested and stay largely unchecked for antibiotic residues.
Inadequate Focus on Testing: There is an inadequate focus on testing for antibiotic residues in the milk collected by State federations, which process it and sell it as packaged milk.
Easy Availability: The antibiotics are easily available without the prescription of a registered veterinarian and stocked at farms.
Ammonia in Yamuna
GS-PAPER-3 Environment Pollution (PT-MAINS)
Recently, high levels (around 3 parts per million) of ammonia in the Yamuna river has been detected in Delhi which led to the disruption of water supply in Delhi. As per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water is 0.5 parts per million (ppm)
Effect of High Level of Ammonia:
Ammonia reduces the amount of oxygen in water as it is transformed to oxidised forms of nitrogen. Hence, it also increases Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). If the concentration of ammonia in water is above 1 ppm it is toxic to fishes. In humans, long term ingestion of water having ammonia levels of 1 ppm or above may cause damage to internal organs.
Mixing of freshwater with ammonia polluted water.
Chlorination: Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine or chlorine compounds such as sodium hypochlorite to water.
This method is used to kill certain bacteria and other microbes in tap water. However, chlorine is highly toxic.
Long Term Solution: Stringent implementation of guidelines against dumping harmful waste into the river. Making sure untreated sewage does not enter the water. Maintain a sustainable minimum flow, called the ecological flow.
******Ecological flow is the minimum amount of water that should flow throughout the river at all times to sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods, and for self regulation.
The Government of India has invited nominations for the ‘Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar’. Applications for the year 2021 would be accepted till 31st August 2020.
Recently, researchers from the S.N. Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata have developed a device called “AJO-Neo '' to measure the neonatal bilirubin levels. SNBNCBS is an autonomous research Institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
AJO-Neo is a non-contact and non-invasive spectrometry-based technique for the measurement of neonatal bilirubin levels without limitations of other available bilirubin meters. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance in the blood. It forms after red blood cells break down, and it travels through the liver, gallbladder, and digestive tract before being excreted.
It is a necessary process in the body's clearance of waste products that arise from the destruction of aged or abnormal red blood cells.
Significance: The screening of bilirubin levels in newborns is necessary to reduce incidents of a type of brain damage called kernicterus that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby's blood. Kernicterus leads to Neuropsychiatry problems in neonates.
Advantages: It is reliable in measuring bilirubin levels in preterm, and term neonates irrespective of gestational or postnatal age, sex, risk factors, feeding behaviour or skin colour. The device delivers an instantaneous report (about 10 seconds) to a concerned doctor. The conventional “blood test” method takes more than 4 hours to generate the report.
According to a new study on Covid-19, pharmacological inhibition of PLpro blocks virus replication and also strengthens immune response in humans. Usually, when a virus attacks human cells, the infected body cells release messenger substances known as ‘type 1 interferons’ which attract the killer cells in human bodies. These killer cells kill the infected cells and save humans from getting sick.
When the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) enters a human cell, it hijacks the cell mechanism and fights back by letting the human cell produce PLpro. PLpro is a protein which suppresses the development of type 1 interferons. Due to this, killer cells are not informed about the infection. Hence, PL pro plays a crucial role in the replication of the virus.
Significance of the Research: Researchers can now monitor these processes in cell culture (artificial environment). By blocking PLpro, virus production can be controlled. In the absence of the PLpro, type 1 interferons will be released informing the killer cells and thus, strengthening the innate immune response of the human cells.
Antibiotic resistance analysis (RS TV)
GS-PAPER-3 Health (PT-MAINS)
Antibiotics are life saving medicines. But these very same medicines can threaten our lives, if used indiscriminately. Already, seven lakh people around the world die due to drug-resistant diseases each year. And if no radical changes are made, these drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million people a year by 2050.
It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.
The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics are medicine used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotic Resistance refers to resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotics or the ability of bacteria to mutate or change so as to resist the effects of antibiotics. The more we use them, and the more we abuse them, the less effective they become.
Antibiotics are unquestionably useful against bacterial infections. However, indiscriminate use has resulted in development of resistance in patients with bacterial infections thereby leading to long lasting illnesses.
Thanks to that annoying thing called evolution, bacteria are constantly adapting to counter-attack antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately.
Therefore, rational use of antibiotics is essential in order to minimize antibiotic resistance.
Antimicrobial Resistance in India
AMR is of particular concern in developing nations, including India, where the burden of infectious disease is high and healthcare spending is low. The country has among the highest bacterial disease burden in the world. Antibiotics, therefore, have a critical role in limiting morbidity and mortality in the country. The 2015 WHO multi-country survey revealed widespread public misunderstanding about antibiotic usage and resistance.
This tussle — between increasing antibiotic use among those who really need them, and decreasing misuse among the irresponsible — has kept India from imposing blanket bans on the non-prescription sale of these drugs.
When policymakers did propose such a ban in 2011, it was met with strong opposition. Instead, India turned to fine-edged tools such as the Schedule H1, a list of 24 critical antibiotics such as cephalosporins and carbapenems, whose sale is tightly controlled.
How can we prevent antibiotic resistant infections?
It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or the flu.
Why is antibiotic resistance one of the biggest health challenges:-
Excessive use of medicines in poultry:-
Unregulated sale of the drugs for human or animal use accessed without prescriptionor diagnosis has led to unchecked consumption and misuse. Of tested birds destined for meat consumption, 87% had the super germs based on a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The mutated robust microbe strain can invade the body and cause diseases that are difficult to treat. Even mild infections require stronger dosage. Annual healthcare cost due to antibiotic resistanceis estimated to be as high as $20 billion, with an additional productivity loss of up to $35 billion in the US.
Poultry:- Ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and mass disease prevention. It should only be used to cure the sick animals based on prescription of veterinarians. There is a need to introduce a labelling system wherein poultry raised without use of antibiotics should be labelled through reliable certified schemes to facilitate consumer choice.
Rationalizing antibiotic use to limit antibiotic resistance in India. Improving regulation of drug production and sale. Encouraging behavior change among doctors and patients are of immediate priority.
Regulation of the medical sector, particularly in the prescription of medicines. Improved management of the health care delivery systems, both public and private, will minimize conditions favourable for the development of drug resistance.
Improved awareness of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication. WHO’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is one such event. Reducing the incidence of infection through effective infection prevention and control. As stated by WHO, making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.
Discourage non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary, agriculture and fishery practices as growth-promoting agents. Promoting investments for antimicrobial resistance activities, research and innovations Strengthening India’s commitment and collaborations on antimicrobial resistance at international, national and sub-national levels. Regulate the release of antibiotic waste from pharmaceutical production facilities and monitoring antibiotic residues in wastewater.
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