COVID Vaccine: the UK approves Oxford vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccine by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has been approved for emergency supply in the U.K.
This is significant for India, as the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has tied up with AstraZeneca to deploy the vaccine in the country.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine which needs to be stored at -70 and -80 degree Celsius, Oxford can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
Mr Poonawala said the Oxford vaccine will be priced at a m
Akash missile to be exported
As part of efforts to boost defence exports, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the export of the indigenously developed and manufactured Akash short-range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system. It also approved the high-level committee formed to expedite the clearance of such exports.
Besides Akash, there was interest coming in for other major platforms such as the Coastal Surveillance System, radars and air platforms, the
China to launch 3rd Aircraft carrier in 2021
The launching of China’s third and largest aircraft carrier is likely to take place next year, with a renewed push to take forward military modernisation plans amid a number of territorial and maritime disputes.
China one year ago launched its second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, which was the first to be built at home. It joined the Liaoning, which was developed by retrofitting a Soviet-era cruiser and commissioned in 2012.
Deep Sea Ports of India - UPSC
West Bengal cabinet approves construction of 'state's first deep sea port in Tajpur. West Bengal's main port is Kolkata Port (including Haldia Port), but because of the shallow depth of the Hooghly river, it is impossible to anchor ocean-going vessels there.
The Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport, also known as the Vizhinjam International Seaport and the Port of Trivandrum, is a port that as of 2020 is under construction on t
Presiding Officers of State Legislature
The Speaker is elected by the assembly itself from amongst its members and remains in office during the life of the assembly.
However, he may vacate his office by writing to the Deputy Speaker or be removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then members of the assembly or he ceases to be a member of the assembly. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days' prior notice.
Powers and Duties of Speak
Pierre Cardin, the iconic French fashion designer passes away at 98
Pierre Cardin, a renowned fashion designer, who was celebrated for his avant-garde styles in the 1960s and 70s passed away on December 29, 2020, at the age of 98. He was born in Venice, Italy on July 7, 1922, but was raised in Central France.
Pierre Cardin had established his own company and designed costumes and masks for the theatre before he launched a line of women’s clothing in a department store which was then
Rollout of COVID vaccine
Context: UPSC GS Paper III S&T Health COVID (Prelims cum Mains)
The dry run to test preparedness for the nationwide roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine kicked off in four States — Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab.
The two-day, end-to-end dry run was carried out in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh; Rajkot and Gandhinagar in Gujarat; Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr) in Punjab; and Sonitpur and Nalbari districts of Assam.
New species of the sun rose found in the Eastern Ghats
Botanists have discovered a new species of the wild sun rose from the Eastern Ghats in India.
The new species, named Portulaca laljii, discovered in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh has unique features such as a tuberous root, no hair in its leaf axils, a reddish pink flower, prolateshaped fruits, and copper brown seeds without lustre.
These morphological features distinguish the species from other species of genu
How do conifers keep their green needles over the boreal winter?
During boreal winter most trees shed their leaves. However, conifers such as Christmas trees keep their green needles intact.
Scientists believe that a phenomenon called sustained quenching offers photoprotection and enables their survival, but its precise molecular and physiological mechanisms are not understood.
Researchers have now found that the photosynthetic apparatus is wired in a special way which allows pin
Urdu Author S R Faruqi passes away
Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, one of the greatest modern Urdu writers, died Friday morning due to complications from Covid-19, at his residence in Allahabad. He was 85.
Faruqi was not only a celebrated writer and poet but also a critic who formulated a modernist framework for evaluating Urdu literature.
A recipient of numerous awards, he was honoured with the prestigious Saraswati Samman for ‘She's-e Shor-Angez’, a four-volume study of the 1
Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) by WHO
Launched in October 2015, the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) is being developed to support the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. The aim is to support global surveillance and research in order to strengthen the evidence base on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and help informing decision-making and drive national, regional, and global actions.
New strain of COVID-19 in Nigeria
GS Paper III - S&T Coronavirus (PT-Mains-Interview)
Context: Coronavirus is a highly important topic for UPSC Mains and Prelims examination 2021. It is a part of GS Paper II and GS Paper III under Science and Technology.
Another new variant of the novel coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria.
The news comes after Britain and South Africa both reported new variants of the SARSCoV2 virus that appear to be more contagious
AUSTRALIAN SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY PATHFINDER:
Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a new type of radio telescope developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Recently, this telescope helped map around 300 million galaxies in approximately 300 hours to create a ‘new atlas of the universe.
Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder
The first light of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder was in Oct
Union Cabinet permits the merger of four government films media units with NFDC
The Union Cabinet on December 23, 2020, approved the merger of four of its media units- Directorate of Film Festivals, Films Division, Children’s Film Society, and National Film Archives of India with the National Film Development Corporation- NFDC.
The vision of the new entity will be to ensure the focused and balanced development of Indian Cinema in all genres- children’s content, feature films, f
HAYABUSA2 SPACECRAFT OF JAPAN:
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft of Japan is nearing the earth after a year-long journey from the asteroid Ryugu.
The spacecraft is to reach the earth in Southern Australia on carrying precious samples from the asteroid.
The entire operation is being held by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace exploration agency.
This mission follows Hayabusa's mission which returned asteroid samples of asteroid Ryugu for a year and a half.
Great India Bustard (GIB) or Godawan
Context: Great Indian Bustard is an important topic for UPSC Prelims Examination 2021. It is one of the most repeated questions in the UPSC Prelims Examination.
It is one of the heaviest Flight birds. They have weak eyesight. Habitat is grassland (not covered under Forest Conservation Act, 1980).
It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent found in Central India, west India and eastern Pakistan.
Bustard species found in India: Gr
The Status of Leopards in India 2018 Report
Context: Leopard is an important topic for UPSC Prelims Examination 2021. It is one of the most repeated questions in the UPSC Prelims Examination.
It revealed that the Western Ghats was home to close to 3,387 leopards.
The population of leopards in India has gone up by 60 %, as per the ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’ report.
India now has 12,852 leopards, witnessing a substantial increase in comparison to the 2014 data.
What is a Christmas Star?
After nearly 400 years, Saturn and Jupiter will be brought closest in the night sky by an astronomical event called the “great conjunction” popularly referred to as the “Christmas Star”.
A conjunction is a name given to any event where planets or asteroids appear to be very close together in the sky when viewed from the Earth.
Astronomers use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest planets in the solar sys
Shaheen IX Exercise
The air forces of Pakistan and China on Wednesday commenced a joint exercise designed to deepen practical cooperation and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides.
The joint air force exercise "Shaheen (Eagle)-IX" started on Wednesday at an operational air base of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Sindh province.
Shaheen-IX is the ninth in the series of Joint Air Exercises which is conducted each year in both countries on an alternate
Information Fusion Center - Indian Ocean Region (IFC - IOR)
IFC IOR was set up by the Indian Navy in 2018 within the premises of the Information Management and Analysis Center (IMAC), Gurugram to track maritime movements in the region. It is for coastal surveillance and monitoring.
It is a single-point centre linking all coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the 7500 km coastline. France is the 1st country to deploy LO at IFC-IOR followed by the
What is Chillai Kalan?
The most severe part of the winter in Kashmir consists of three months. It is divided into three parts called the Chilas:- The Chillai Kalan, the Chillai Khurd, and the Challai Bache.
Chillai-Kalan is the 40-day period of harsh winter. Chillai-Kalan begins on December 21 and ends on January 31 next year.
Chillai-Kalan is followed by a 20-day long Chillai-Khurd (small cold) that occurs between January 31 and February 19 and a 10-day long Chillai-Bachha (baby
New variant of Coronavirus in UK?
Coronavirus is a highly important topic for UPSC Mains and Prelims examination 2021. It is a part of GS Paper II and GS Paper III under Science and Technology.
The first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020 (VUI – 202012/01), also known as lineage B.1.1.7, is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in October 2020 from a sample taken the previous month, and it quickly b
Super Hornet fighter jets being tested for Navy use
The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet is the world’s most lethal, advanced, combat-proven, multi-role frontline fighter jet.
The Block III version which is currently being manufactured for the United States Navy will enable the Indian armed forces to challenge the next generation of adversaries.
Hornet would do well with the Indian Navy’s Short Takeoff but Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) system and validate earlier simulation studies done
India-Japan Samvad conference 2020: PM Narendra Modi proposes a library of traditional Buddhist literature
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 6th India-Japan Samvad conference on December 21, 2020, through video conferencing. PM Modi began by thanking the Japanese government for its constant support of the India-Japan Samvad.
He stated that the forum has done great work to ensure promote the ideas and ideals of Lord Buddha, especially among the youth. He said that historically, the
TROPICAL MONTANE GRASSLANDS (TMG)
Tropical montane grasslands (TMG) in the Shola Sky Islands of the Western Ghats have suffered big reductions due to invasions by exotic trees. But researchers have now identified areas suitable for grassland restoration and conservation to reverse the decline.
TMG are high elevation grasslands forming only 2% of all grasslands in the world.
Among their functions is regulating the global carbon cycle and serving as a source of water to downstream c
ADVANCED TOWED ARTILLERY GUN SYSTEMS (ATAGS)
User trials of the indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) jointly with private industry are scheduled to be resumed later this month and the trials will be completed by mid-2021.
The ATAGS is a 155-mm, 52-calibre artillery gun jointly developed by the DRDO in partnership with Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group and the Tata Power SED.
In August 2018, the
Right to Protest
The Supreme Court said farmers have a constitutional right to protest as long as their opposition against the three agricultural laws did not slip into violence.
But the CJI said whether the farmers should be allowed into the city or not was a question best left to the police and not the court.
The court reiterated its suggestion of forming a committee of experts in agriculture to hear both farmers and the Union government on the laws.
The right to protest is a
Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the moon has begun its journey back to Earth, putting China on course to become the first country to successfully retrieve lunar samples since the 1970s.
About the Chang'e-5 probe:
The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.
The rocket is comprised of four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.
The objective of the mission is to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any na
Covid-19 has triggered Mucormycosis or black fungus in some patients. Mucormycosis is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of moulds called mucormycetes which exist in the environment.
Symptoms include face numbness, one-side nose obstruction, swelling in the eye or cheeks, and black dry crusts in the nose. Early detection can prevent loss of eyesight, nose or jaw, and 50% mortality in cases where it affects the brain.
It mainly affects people who have
Ethereum is a cryptocurrency.
Recently, it was launched in a faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly platform, as the upgraded version called ‘Ethereum 2.0’.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is a decentralised and open-source blockchain platform, which is a growing list of cryptographic blocks.
It is the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, only after bitcoin.
It is also the world’s most actively used bl
Protected Special Agriculture Zone - Cauvery Delta
GS-Paper-1 Geography (PT-MAINS)
Tamil Nadu government has declared the Cauvery delta region as a Protected Special Agriculture Zone.
What is a Protected Agriculture Zone?
Declaring as a Protected Special Agriculture Zone ensures that a particular region will not be granted permission for any new projects like those related to hydrocarbons. Only Agro-based Industries would be given permission to be b
National Family Health Survey- 5
GS-Paper-3 Application-based topic and PT
The National Family Health Survey is a survey carried out on a massive scale across the country to collect information on many parameters which would ultimately help the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) to frame policies and programs to help in the upliftment of the vulnerable groups in India. The first round of the National Family Health Survey was conducted in 1992-92. Subsequently, four other rou
An Indian Bison, or Gaur, in Pune’s urban landscape, died due to human-animal conflict. It is mainly found in South and Southeast Asia.
Location: Native to South and Southeast Asia in India, they are found in Nagarhole, Bandipur, Masinagudi National Parks and BR Hills.
Conservation Status: Vulnerable in IUCN Red List. Included in the Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.
Important Facts: It is the tallest spec
TWG Meeting on Chabahar Port
The first Trilateral Working Group Meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on the joint use of Chabahar Port was held virtually. The participants discussed the joint use of Chabahar Port for trade and transit purposes and enhanced regional connectivity. India has proposed to hold "Chabahar Day” on the sidelines of the International Maritime Summit to be hosted by India in January 2021.
Past related news
Chabahar Port: It is located on the&n
In Avalapandi, a village in Kerala, an aquatic plant forked fanwort has painted the water bodies pink, which led to the ‘pink phenomenon’. This plant comes from the family of Red Cabomba (Cabomba furcata).
Cabomba is a submerged perennial aquatic plant that grows in stagnant to slow-flowing freshwater. It is an invasive species that belongs to Central and South America.
It requires a huge amount of oxygen to grow and that could badly affect freshwater bio
Himalayan Griffon Vulture
It is a migratory bird species native to the Himalayas, has been spotted in Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. It is usually found in high-altitude regions.
They originate from the Himalayan Chain and Plateau of Tibet. The IUCN status of the bird is Near-threatened. It is listed in Appendix II of the CITES.
Vijay Diwas-50 years celebration
India will celebrate 50 Years of the Indo-Pak War, also called Swarnim Vijay Varsh on 16th December 2020. The inaugural event of the celebration will be held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi which will be attended by the Prime Minister. The National War Memorial is a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence it also commemorates t
UN Investment Promotion award to Invest India
Context in Current Affairs: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently declared “Invest India” as the winner of the United Nations Investment Promotion Award, 2020.
The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of investment promotion agencies spread all over the world. Around 180 such agencies were shortlisted for the award in 2020.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Preeti Sinha- To lead United Nations Capital Development, Fund
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has appointed Preeti Sinha as its Executive Secretary. She is an Indian-origin investment and development banker.
The executive secretary will work with her focus on providing micro-finance assistance to women, youth, and small and medium-sized enterprises belonging to the underserved communities.
The Executive Secretary is the highest leadership rank i
Subramanya Bharati: Greatest Tamil literary figure and Social Activist
Prime Minister Modi on December 11, 2020, virtually addressed the International Bharat Festival, 2020. The event was organized by the Vanavil Culture Centre in Chennai and saw the participation of several international and national poets and artists.
International Bharati Festival was held to honour the national poet, Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati on his 138th birth anniversary. PM Modi also conferred Bharati Award 2020 vir
Gwalior, Orchha included in world heritage cities list of UNESCO
Madhya Pradesh state government informed on December 7, 2020, that the historical fort cities of Orchha and Gwalior have been included in the world heritage cities list of UNESCO under its urban landscape city programme.
The project by UNESCO will be an example for South Asia. Under the plan, UNESCO will also be providing and guiding with perfect measures and resources for the development of Orchha and Gwalior under the Histo
LAB-GROWN MEAT: CLEARED IN SINGAPORE, EMERGING ALTERNATIVE WORLDWIDE:
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) approved this week the sale of a lab-grown meat product.
How is lab-grown or cultured meat different from plant-based meat?
The latter is made from plant sources such as soy or pea protein, while cultured meat is grown directly from cells in a laboratory.
Objective: to offer alternatives to traditional meat products that could feed a lot more people, reduce the
LIGHT DETECTION AND RANGING SURVEY (LIDAR) TECHNIQUE:
National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited will be adopting Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique using Laser enabled equipment mounted on a Helicopter for conducting the ground survey for the preparation of a Detailed Project Report for the proposed Delhi-Varanasi HSR corridor.
What is LiDAR?
It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to t
What is Quantum Supremacy?
It describes the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers cannot.
Superposition and entanglement are what give quantum computers the ability to process so much more information so much faster.
Differences between a standard computer and a quantum computer:
A classical computer performs calculations using bits that is 0 (representing off )and 1 (representing on).
It uses transistors to
Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska institute have tried to answer why influenza infections lead to an increased risk of bacterial pneumonia. They have described findings leading to so-called “superinfections”.
They cite the example of Spanish flu, which was an influenza pandemic that swept across the world in 1918–20. Unlike many other pandemics, the Spanish flu hit young healthy adults, due to the superinfections caused by bacteria, in particul
Arunachal Kiwi got organic certification for Kiwi under Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER). [MOVCD-NER is a scheme for the north-eastern states by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare under the Central government.]
Arunachal Pradesh is the first in the country to get this certification for Kiwis. These kiwis have grown Ziro Valley located in the Lower Subansiri district in Arunachal. An agricultural practice
Zebrafish Gene-Heart regeneration
Scientists at Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute have identified Zebrafish’s genes that can promote heart regeneration. They have sought to decode the heart regeneration processes, which can illuminate strategies to improve human cardiac regeneration.
Zebrafish is a tiny freshwater fish found in tropical and subtropical regions. It is native to South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and
Peacock soft-shelled turtle
Peacock soft-shelled turtle - vulnerable species have been rescued from a fish market in Assam’s Silchar. Scientific Name: Nilssonia hurum.
They have a large head, downturned snout with a low and oval carapace of dark olive green to nearly black, sometimes with a yellow rim.
The head and limbs are olive-green; the forehead has dark reticulations and large yellow or orange patches or spots,