UPSC CA: 4th November 2020

SARS-Cov-2 can not penetrate through Cornea of Eyes, says study

Context: 

  • The researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in their recent study have reported that the novel coronavirus can not penetrate through the eye’s cornea. 

Key Highlights:

  • The findings were published in the journal Cell Reports.
  • The study further says that the herpes simplex virus can infect the cornea and spread to other parts of the body in patients with weak immune systems.
  • Researchers noted that, though Zika virus has been found in tears and corneal tissue. But, COVID-19 causing a virus called SARS-CoV-2 can not replicate in the human cornea.
  • However researchers have not yet determined whether other tissues around the cornea, like tear ducts and the conjunctiva, are vulnerable to the virus or not.

Coronaviruses:

  • Corona Viruses are a group of RNA viruses. It causes diseases in mammals and birds. They cause respiratory tract infections in humans and birds. 
  • Mild illnesses in humans cause the common cold  while lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. 
  • In cows and pigs they are responsible for causing diarrhea. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs available to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.
  • Coronaviruses subfamily- Orthocoronavirinae:
    • Corona belongs to the subfamily- Orthocoronavirinae in the family of Coronaviridae. They are enveloped viruses that contain a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome.
    • The earliest reports of a coronavirus infection dates back to the 1920s. Then, an acute respiratory infection of domesticated chickens was reported in North America. However, Human coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s.
    • Coronaviruses primarily target the epithelial cells. 
    • These viruses are transmitted from one host to another host either by an aerosol, fomite, or fecal-oral route. 
    • Human coronaviruses infect the cells of the respiratory tract while animal coronaviruses infect the cells of the digestive tract. 
    • For instance, SARS coronavirus transmit through aerosol and infect the human cells of the lungs by binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor.

 

More children to get fortified rice

Context:

  • The government is planning to distribute fortified rice to children in anganwadis and government schools.

Key points:

  • The rice would be infused (fortified) with iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12.
  • The government is planning to distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal schemes across the country.
  • An existing pilot scheme to distribute fortified rice through the Public Distribution System in 15 districts has only been implemented in five districts so far, despite the lapse in more than half the project duration.
  • The Centrally sponsored pilot scheme was approved in February 2019.
  • Only Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh have started distribution of fortified rice in their identified pilot districts.
  • The food ministry said that it would lay special focus on 112 aspirational districts.
  • The Food Corporation of India has been asked to come up with a comprehensive plan to scale up the annual supply of fortified rice from the current 15,000 tonnes to at least 1.3 lakh tonnes.

About Fortification of Rice:

  • Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply.
  • Generally, fortified rice contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.
  • Fortifying rice involves grinding broken rice into powder, mixing it with nutrients, and then shaping it into rice-like kernels using an extrusion process.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.
  • Currently, there are only 15,000 tonnes of these kernels available per year in India.

 

Ganga Utsav 2020

Context: 

  • Recently, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has inaugurated Ganga Utsav 2020.

Key points:

  • It is a three-day festival aimed to promote stakeholder engagement and ensure public participation.
  • It celebrates mystical and cultural river Ganga through
    • Storytelling,
    • Folklores, and dialogues with eminent personalities,
    • Displaying traditional art forms, dance and music performance by renowned artists,
    • Ganga Task Force (GTF) conducted an afforestation drive with National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets and educational tour for youth.

About River Ganga:

  • It is the longest river of India flowing over 2,510 km of mountains, valleys and plains and is revered by Hindus as the most sacred river on earth.
  • It originates in the snowfields of the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas as the Bhagirathi River and is joined by other rivers such as the Alaknanda, Yamuna, Son, Gumti, Kosi and Ghagra.
  • The Ganga river basin is one of the most fertile and densely populated areas of the world and covers an area of 1,000,000 sq. km.
  • The Ganges River Dolphin is an endangered animal that specifically habitats this river.
  • The Ganga widens out into the Ganges Delta in the Sundarbans swamp of Bangladesh, before it ends its journey by emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Ganga was declared as the National River of India on 4th November 2008.

 

Mallakhamb

Context: 

  • PM has recently mentioned about this game in his “Mann Ki Baat” Program.  

Key points:

  • Mallakhamb is one of the few ancient games that is played against gravity.
  • The origin of this ancient Indian sport can be traced to the earlier part of the 12th century.
  • A mention of wrestlers exercising on wooden poles is found in the Manasholas, written by Chalukya, in 1153 AD.
  • It was revived late in the 19th century by Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, physical instructor to Bajirao Peshwa II.
  • The word malla means a wrestler or an athlete in Sanskrit and can also indicate a verb, such as strong or good.
  • Khamb or kham, in spoken Marathi, means a pole.
  • Therefore, Mallakhamb has come to be known as wrestling against a pole.
  • It functions on a synergy of mind and body, employing every muscle in a way that enables a person to develop speed, stamina and better health.
  • In recent times Mallakhamb has developed an identity that is separate from wrestling or kushti.
  • There are two other Mallakhamb styles such as ‘rope mallakhamb’ and ‘hanging mallakhamb’.

 

Cold wave

Context: 

  • The nights in New Delhi are getting cooler with the minimum temperature settling at 10 degrees Celsius (lowest for the season so far). 

Key  points:

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that it may consider declaring a cold wave if the temperature continues to stay the same for another day.
  • According to IMD, the temperature was five degrees below the normal temperature.

About cold wave:

  • A cold wave is a weather phenomenon that is distinguished by a cooling of the air, marked by a rapid fall in temperature.
  • In plains, a cold wave is declared when the minimum temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or below and is 4.5 degrees Celsius less than normal for two consecutive days.
  • A cold wave can cause death and injury to livestock and wildlife.
  • Cold waves are associated with increased mortality rates in populations around the world.

About India Meteorological Department (IMD):

  • Formed in 1875, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the national meteorological service of the country and it is the chief government agency dealing in everything related to meteorology, seismology, and associated subjects. 
  • The administrative responsibilities of the Department are under the supervision of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Indian Government. 
  • The IMD is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • IMD Mandate:
    • Taking meteorological observations and providing current information and forecasting information for the most favorable operation of weather-dependent activities such as irrigation, agriculture, aviation, shipping, offshore oil exploration, and so on.
    • Giving warnings against severe weather phenomena such as tropical cyclones, dust storms, heat waves, cold waves, heavy rains, heavy snow, etc.
    • Providing met-related statistics needed for agriculture, industries, water resources management, oil exploration, and any other strategically important activities for the country.
    • Engaging in research in meteorology and allied subjects.
    • Detection and location of earthquakes and evaluation of seismicity in various parts of the country for developmental projects.

 

Nuclear disarmament resolutions

  • The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the two resolutions on nuclear disarmament.

Key Highlights:

  • The resolutions that have been sponsored by India include ‘Reducing Nuclear Danger’ and ‘Convention on Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons’.
  • These resolutions show India’s commitment to achieve the goal of nuclear disarmament.
  • One of the committees of the UNGA deals with the issue of disarmament. This very first committee  works in close cooperation with the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament and UN Disarmament Commission.
  • The two other bodies of the UNGA  deal with nuclear issues.

Resolution on Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons:

  • The resolution of the Convention on Prohibition to Use the Nuclear Weapons was initiated and tabled to UNGA by India in 1982.  
  • This resolution comprises the provision of calling for the Conference on Disarmament. The call for the conference is put forward in order to start negotiations on an international convention prohibiting  the threat to use or use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. 
  • The resolution by India has also been backed by the majority of United Nations members. 
  • The primary aim of the resolution is that this legally and universally binding agreement would generate the necessary political will globally that will eliminate the use of nuclear weapons completely.

Resolution for Reducing Nuclear Danger:

  • The resolution on reducing the nuclear danger was tabled in 1998. 
  • This resolution was put forward with the primary focus on accidental use or unintentional use of the nuclear weapons. 
  • It also underlines the need for a review of nuclear doctrines. The resolution further asks for strict steps so as to reduce risks through the-targeting of nuclear weapons.0

 

Rise in PMI

Context:

  • Recently India’s PMI rose from 56.8 in September to 58.9 in October 2020.

Key points:

  • Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity, both in the manufacturing and services sectors.
  • It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is also constructed.
  • The PMI summarizes whether market conditions as viewed by purchasing managers are expanding, neutral, or contracting.
  • PMI Data means the following
    • The headline PMI is a number from 0 to 100.
    • PMI above 50 represents an expansion when compared to the previous month;
    • PMI under 50 represents a contraction, and
    • A reading at 50 indicates no change.
    • The PMI is usually released at the start of every month.
  • PMI is compiled by IHS Markit for more than 40 economies worldwide.
  • IHS Markit is a global leader in information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide.

About Nomura India Business Resumption Index:

  • Nomura India Business Resumption Index (NIBRI) is Japanese brokerage’s weekly tracker of the pace of normalisation of economic activity.
  • Recently India’s NIBRI improved to 82.4 in October, a rise of 2.1 points from 80.3 in September and 73.6 in August.