Current Affairs Oct 13

Johnson & Johnson pauses Covid vaccine trial over participant’s ‘unexplained illness’

  • Johnson & Johnson has paused its Covid-19 vaccine trial due to an “unexplained illness” in a participant.
  • The pharmaceutical giant was unclear if the patient was administered a placebo or the experimental vaccine.
  • Nevertheless, with several drug companies racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, facilitated by Operation Warp Speed, the US government effort to speed up development the news of any setbacks are being closely watched by politicians and Americans.
  • In September, another trial for a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was paused for a second time since trials began in April after a suspected adverse reaction in a patient.
  • The Johnson & Johnson trial, which was meant to yield results early next year, is one of four vaccine trials in the most advanced, phase 3 stage, and one of six coronavirus vaccines being tested in the US.



Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Indian-origin philanthropist Harish Kotecha has been awarded the prestigious Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his work in the U.S. for meeting the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
  • The lifetime achievement award from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) was presented to Kotecha, who is founder and president of Hindu Charities for America (HC4A).
  • Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to honour people who have tirelessly worked to ensure that all children may have what most take for granted:
  • safety, shelter, and a future and that young people without shelter may find the promise of tomorrow.


  • Hindu Charities for America has programmes for homeless or near-homeless students, provide school supplies at the start of the school year.
  • To date, over 11,000 low income children have been gifted with backpacks at the onset of the school year.
  • It also awards vocational training scholarships to low-income, nontraditional students.



Bangladeshs Cabinet approves death penalty in rape cases

  • Bangladesh introduced the death penalty for rape after days of protests sparked by a string of sexual assaults.
  • Demonstrations have broken out across the country after harrowing footage of a group of men stripping and attacking a woman went viral on social media. The clip sparked outrage in the South Asian country, where activists say only a tiny percentage of sexual assault victims see justice.
  • Previously, the maximum punishment for rape was life imprisonment.
  • Bangladesh has hanged 23 people since 2013 while at least another 1,718 are on death row, according to a local rights group.


Cow dung-based anti-radiation chip, diyas, idols, incense sticks

  • The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog is targeting production of 33 crore eco-friendly earthen lamps (diyas)made from cow dung during Diwali next month, in order to counter Chinese products.
  • The Aayog, set up in 2019 for the protection, promotion and conservation of indigenous cattle in the country, has started a nation-wide campaign to encourage use of cow dung-based products during the forthcoming festival.
  • Rejecting China-made diyas, the campaign will boost ‘Make in India’ concept of the Prime Minister and swadeshi movement.
  • About 192 crore kilo of cow dung per day is produced in India at present. There is huge untapped potential in cow dung-based products.
  • The Aayog said though it is not directly involved in production of cow dung-based products, it is facilitating and offering training to self help groups and entrepreneurs seeking to set up business.

Besides diyas, the Aayog is promoting production of other products made from dung, urine and milk such as

  • anti-radiation chip,
  • paper weights,
  • Ganesha and Lakshmi idols,
  • incense sticks,
  • candles among others.



Dr Balasaheb Vikhe Patil

  • Prime Minister released the autobiography of late multiple term Lok Sabha MP Dr Balasaheb Vikhe Patil.
  • The autobiography is titled ‘Deh Vechava Karani’ or dedicating one’s life for a noble cause.
  • He dedicated his entire life to the benefit of society through his path-breaking work in various fields, including agriculture and cooperatives.
  • The prime minister also renamed the Pravara Rural Education Society to ‘Loknete Dr Balasaheb Vikhe Patil Pravara Rural Education Society.’
  • Pravara Rural Education Society was established in 1964 at Loni in Ahmednagar district, with the aim to provide world class education to the rural masses and empower the girl child.
  • The Society is currently serving with the core mission of educational, social, economical, cultural, physical and psychological development of students.



India set to achieve Self Reliance in Supercomputing

  • Several premier academic institutions in India will soon partner in indigenous assembling and manufacturing to establish supercomputing infrastructure in the country and make the facilities available at an affordable cost.
  • Centre for Development of Advanced Computing(C-DAC) signed a total of 13 MoUs with the premier academic and R&D institutions of India for establishing Supercomputing Infrastructure with Assembly and Manufacturing in India and Critical Components of National Supercomputing Mission.
  • National Supercomputing Mission was set up to provide necessary computational power to the Academia, Industry, Scientific and Research Community, MSME and the Start-ups to solve India specific grand challenges and complex real life problems in Science and Engineering.
  • Supercomputing is the key to so many areas like
  • Computational Biology, Molecular Dynamics, National Security, Computational Chemistry, Cyber-Physical Systems, Big Data Analytics, Government Information Systems, and so on. Armed with artificial intelligence and machine learning makes it a formidable tool.


  • Progress in this mission will break silos to empower people and make India future-ready and tackle future challenges
  • C-DAC has already established Supercomputing Ecosystem at IIT BHU, IIT Kharagpur, IISER Pune and JNCASR Bangalore.
  • And now accelerating the pace of research and innovation using computational science techniques
  • with manufacturing in India Critical Supercomputing components
  • like the Server Board, Interconnect, Rack power controllers and Hydraulic controllers, Direct Liquid Cooled Datacenter, HPC Software Stack is a step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.



Jal Jeevan Mission: Lab on wheels!

  • The supply of clean and safe water is essential for public health therefore, ensuring supply of water along with regular testing is imperative.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission of the Ministry of Jal Shakti aims to provide tap water connection to every rural home by 2024.
  • Taking cognizance of the pressing need for water testing, Govt. of Haryana has come up with a novel approach by launching
  • a State of the Art Mobile Water Testing Laboratory Van, fully equipped with multi-parameter system containing analyzers/ sensor/ probes/ instruments meant for water testing.


  • Water Quality in State of Haryana is mainly affected by constituents like total dissolved solids (TDS), Fluoride, nitrate, iron and alkalinity.
  • It is GPS enabled for location tracking and the analyzed sample data can be transmitted to a centralized PHED server via GPRS/ 3G connectivity with power backup.
  • It also provides On-site recording and reporting of results through a smart phone or similar device with the ability to send results direct to a web based secure central server.
  • This mobile van also has a fully automated sensor-based analysis controlled by centrally commanded software.
  • The LED display unit in the mobile lab gives an instant display of the results immediately after analysis.
  • The lab is capable of measuring different water quality parameters like pH, alkalinity, TDS, hardness, residual chlorine, zinc, nitrite, Fluoride, turbidity and micro-biological test of water samples.
  • The mobile testing van will be stationed at State Water Testing Laboratory, Karnal and its area of operation will be throughout the State.


Governing Structure of India Energy Modelling Forum

  • Further to the constitution of the India Energy Modelling Forum (IEMF)—jointly launched by NITI Aayog and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the US–India Strategic Energy Partnership—on 2 July, NITI Aayog recently announced its governing structure.
  • Part of the Sustainable Growth pillar of the US–India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP),
  • IEMF aims to engage Indian researchers, knowledge partners, think tanks and national and international government agencies and departments for modelling and long-term energy planning.
  • The governing structure of IEMF will consist of an inter-ministerial and a steering committee.
  • The inter-ministerial committee will be convened by NITI Aayog and headed by its CEO, and comprise senior officials from the ministries of petroleum and natural gas; power; new and renewable energy; coal; environment, forest and climate change; and department of science and technology.
  • This committee will review the studies/modelling activities and provide directions and new areas of research.


The steering committee will comprise representatives of the:

  • Government (ministries of environment, forest and climate change; new and renewable energy; statistics and programme implementation; Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council; Coal Controller’s Organization; Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell; Central Electricity Authority; and NITI Aayog)
  • Industry Associations(FICCI and CII)
  • Academia(IIT Bombay, Ahmedabad, and Delhi)
  • Policy research organizations, think tanks and funding agencies(Prayas Energy Group; Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, CEEW, CSTEP, IRADe, TERI, GIZ, DFID, WRI, PNNL, IIASA).
  • This committee will shortlist policy issues to be taken up for study and might form various task forces depending on the specific studies/modelling exercises to be carried out.
  • The convener of this committee will be selected on a rotational basis for two years and will act as the interface between the inter-ministerial and steering committees and the working groups/taskforces.
  • Prayas Group, Pune, will be the first convener of the steering committee.
  • India and the US have a long-standing collaboration on energy.
  • The Sustainable Growth pillar, one of the four of the US–India SEP, is being chaired by NITI Aayog and USAID.
  • This pillar brings together Indian and US researchers and decision-makers to collaborate in three focal areas:
  • energy data management; energy modelling, and promotion of low carbon technologies.
  • IEMF was launched under the area of energy modelling.
  • Through collaborations with global energy modelling forums, such as Stanford Energy Modelling Forum and Energy Modelling Platform for Europe, IEMF hopes to share and learn from best practices.



Pakistan action on terror funding insufficient

  • Noting that Pakistan’s measures against money laundering and terror financing “are not yet sufficient to justify a re-rating”,
  • a regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force retained the country on its “Enhanced Follow-up”
  • The development came only a few weeks ahead of the meeting of the FATF — the Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog — to decide on Pakistan’s grey list status.
  • The first Follow-Up Report on Mutual Evaluation of Pakistan released by the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) underlined that
  • the country’s progress on the 40 FATF recommendations on the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/CFT) system largely remained unchanged —
  • non-compliant on four counts, partially compliant on 25 counts and largely compliant on nine recommendations.
  • Pakistan has improved its full compliance on only two of the 40 FATF recommendations.
  • Pakistan will remain in enhanced (expedited) follow up and will continue to report back to the APG on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures.
  • Pakistan had requested for re-ratings on three areas declared partially compliant by the APG in October last year.
  • The request was accepted on one count and rejected on two due to ‘insufficient’ progress to the satisfaction of international experts.
  • The 41-member APG in August last year had downgraded Pakistan’s status to “Enhanced Follow-up” category from “Regular Follow-up” over technical deficiencies to meet normal international financial standards by October 2018.

  What Is The Asia Pacific Group (APG)?

  • The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering is an inter-governmental organization working to implement international standards for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing in the Asia Pacific region.
  • The Asia Pacific Group (APG) is an evolution of the FATF-Asia Secretariat, which was originally formed in 1995.
  • After the last meeting of the secretariat in 1997, the APG was established with 13 founding members and a goal to ensure AML compliance across the region.
  • After September 11, that goal expanded to include countering terrorist financing.
  • Today, the APG has grown to include 41 member-states along with 8 observer states, and a number of observer organizations, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and the World Bank.
  • Part of a network of FATF-style regional bodies (FSRB), the APG is the largest of its type both by geographic and membership size.
  • The APG’s activities are supported and coordinated by its Secretariat, headquartered in Sydney, Australia.



Quashing Notification On Groundwater Extraction

  • The National Green Tribunal Tuesday issued notice to the Centre and the CPCB on a plea seeking quashing of a notification on groundwater extraction on the grounds that
  • its commercial use was adversely affecting the flow of rivers and availability of drinking water in the country.
  • Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) was repeatedly issuing notification liberalising ground water extraction in water scarcity areas in spite of the need for stringent action, contrary to the very purpose for which it was setup.
  • There was no effective mechanism to check violation by recovery of adequate compensation which was laid down by this tribunal based on expert studies.
  • They find that the impugned order is statutorily appealable under Section 16 (g) of the NGT Act, 2010.
  • Thus, instead of an application, proper remedy of the appellant is an appeal.
  • The tribunal also issued notice to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and said water is a scarce resource on which life is dependent and its extraction has to be duly regulated.
  • In areas where there is water scarcity, extraction can be allowed on stringent conditions of ensuring recharge.
  • The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environmentalist Devi Das Khatri challenging the notification issued by CGWA which issued guidelines
  • to regulate and control the groundwater extraction in the country under Section 3 (3) read with Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The plea said that extraction in scarce water areas for commercial purposes was against the principle of ‘Sustainable Development’.
  • The applicant has pointed out that without any study of carrying capacity, the policy allows concession to micro and small enterprises drawing groundwater less than 10 cubic metre per day as well as for bulk water supply.
  • There is no uniform policy for monitoring ground water recharge mechanism and to check the depleting groundwater levels in the country.
  • Extraction for commercial purposes was adversely affecting not only the river flow but also availability of water for drinking purposes.



Govt targets Rs 1 lakh crore spend by March-end

  • To stimulate growth in the economy, the government announced a twin set of measures to boost consumption demand and capital expenditure, which along with participation of the private sector, are estimated to result in quick spending of more than Rs 1 lakh crore by March-end.
  • Through the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) voucher scheme, which can be availed by private sector employees as well, and a festival advance for government employees,
  • the Finance Ministry has tried to advance consumption of non-essential, relatively high-value goods and services in the economy.
  • Supply constraints in the economy had eased over recent months, but consumer demand remained affected — and these measures were aimed at advancing consumer spending and capex in a “fiscally prudent way”.
  • Capital expenditure steps are “directly linked to increase in economic output (GDP), given their high multiplier effect”.
  • An additional Rs 25,000 crore is being provided for capital expenditure on roads, defence infrastructure, water supply, urban development, and domestically produced capital equipment. This is expected to come through re-allocation of resources.


  • Special assistance will be provided to states in the form of interest-free 50-year loans of Rs 12,000 crore, which can be used only for capex purposes, with certain conditions.
  • Central government employees will be provided tax benefits on LTC component without having to actually travel.
  • The employees would be required to spend three times the LTC fare component to purchase items that attract 12% or more Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • What this effectively means is that if fare component of LTC is Rs 40,000, one need to spend Rs 1.2 lakh on goods that fall in the 12% or more GST slab in order to save tax on Rs 40,000.
  • As for the leave encashment component of LTC, the employee will have to spend an equivalent amount towards purchase of goods that attract GST of 12% or more.
  • Through the LTC consumption boost plan, the government expects a demand generation of Rs 28,000 crore in the economy.
  • Under the festival advance scheme, all central government employees will get interest-free advance of Rs 10,000 that will be recovered in 10 instalments.
  • It will be given in the form of a pre-loaded RuPay card of the advance value.
  • The government expects to disburse Rs 4,000 crore under the scheme by March 31.


  • For the 50-year interest-free loans to boost capex, states have been categorised into three groups:
  • Group 1, which includes the Northeastern states (Rs 1,600 crore) and Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh (Rs 900 crore);
  • Group 2, which has other states which will get Rs 7,500 crore in proportion to their share as per the Finance Commission devolution; and
  • Group 3, having states which will get a total Rs 2,000 crore if they meet three out of four reforms, including One Nation One Ration, outlined in the government’s AtmaNirbhar package.


  • The funds, which need to be spent by March 31, 2021, can be used by states for ongoing and new projects and settling contractors’ bills on such projects.
  • The funds provided to states will be over and above their borrowing ceilings.



The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019 Report

  • Climate change is largely to blame for a near doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years, the United Nations said.
  • The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.
  • The figure far outstrips the 4,212 major natural disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999, the UN office said in a new report entitled “The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019”.
  • The sharp increase was largely attributable to a rise in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events like floods, drought and storms.
  • Extreme heat is proving especially deadly.
  • Accused governments of not doing enough to prevent climate hazards and called for better preparation for looming disasters.
  • The report did not touch on biological hazards and disease-related disasters like the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Report showed 6,681 climate-linked events had been recorded since the turn of the century, up from 3,656 during the previous 20-year-period.
  • While major floods had more than doubled to 3,254, there had been 2,034 major storms up from 1,457 in the prior period.
  • The report relied on statistics from the Emergency Events Database, which records all disasters that kill 10 or more people, affect 100 or more people or result in a state of emergency declaration.
  • The data showed that Asia has suffered the highest number of disasters in the past 20 years with 3,068 such events, followed by the Americas with 1,756 and Africa with 1,192.
  • In terms of affected countries, China topped the list with 577 events followed by the United States with 467.



Biggest-Ever Arctic Science Mission Ends

  • After a year spent drifting across the top of the world, frozen in sea ice, a German research ship returned home, ending the largest Arctic science expedition in history,
  • one aimed at better understanding a region that is rapidly changing as the world warms.
  • The ship, the Polarstern, docked at its home port of Bremerhaven nearly 13 months after it left Norway.


  • The expedition, with a rotating contingent of about 100 scientists, technicians and crew, encountered nosy polar bears, fierce storms that damaged equipment, changing ice conditions and, most critically, the coronavirus pandemic that scrambled logistics.
  • There were also accusations of sexual discrimination and harassment aboard a Russian support ship that accompanied the Polarstern for the first month.
  • But the leaders of the $150 million project, known as Mosaic and organized by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany with participants from 19 other countries, noted it as a success.


  • They said the information collected about the ocean, ice, clouds, storms and ecosystems of the Arctic would prove invaluable in helping scientists understand the region, which is warming faster than any other part of the planet.
  • The region’s sea ice has been steadily shrinking in recent decades, and summer ice coverage this year was the second lowest since satellite measurements began in 1979.
  • Warming has also caused sharp declines in older, thicker ice.



Worlds First Internet From Above 62,000 Feet

  • Google’s parent Alphabet and Soft Bank successfully tested the world’s first LTE internet connectivity from a solar-powered unmanned aircraft flying above 62,000 feet.
  • This technology holds great promise for the future of connectivity, especially as part of efforts to expand internet access to places that don’t yet have it.
  • SoftBank’s HAPSMobile and Alphabet’s Loon LLC jointly conducted the test on High Altitude Platform Station’s (HAPS) autonomous aircraft.
  • It enabled LTE connectivity for about 15 hours during the test flight, despite demanding conditions in the stratosphere, where wind speed crossed 30 meters per second and temperature was as low as negative 73 degree Celsius.
  • Smooth operations and connection speeds during the test flight enabled high-definition low-latency video calls.
  • The teams could participate in the video call using regular smartphones, as the radio waves transmitted and received by the aircraft operated on the same frequencies as existing smartphones.
  • The test provided insight into how HAPS could be used in disaster management and lifesaving technologies.



Kerala 1st in country with high-tech classrooms in govt, aided schools

  • Kerala has become the first state in the country to have high-tech classrooms or high-tech labs in all government-run and aided schools.
  • Under the state government’s high-tech classroom scheme, 16,027 schools from primary to higher secondary level have been equipped with 3.74 lakh digital gadgets.
  • As part of this flagship project, high-tech labs have been set up in primary and upper primary schools and 40,000 classrooms in high school and higher secondary schools have been converted into smart classrooms.
  • High speed broadband internet has been ensured in 12,678 schools.
  • In reviving the state’s public education, the government has ensured people’s participation.
  • The three-tier local bodies have been entrusted with the task of reviving the public education system.
  • Several government schools on the verge of closure have been revived.
  • Kerala schools now have world-class facilities and this has brought in changes in the academic sector also.
  • The project was implemented by the state education department’s Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education with financial aid from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
  • Also, legislators and MPs have contributed from their local area development fund.



Ultrafine Particles

  • Ultrafine particles suspended in the air constitute more than 50% of the total particulate matter of 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) size around the year in Delhi, and are associated with higher cytotoxicity in human lung cells, a new study from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi shows.
  • Data from the study sheds light on the necessity of routine monitoring of ultrafine particles that are below PM2.5 micrometres in size, and particularly PM size lower than 0.25, which is linked with more cytotoxicity — the quality of being toxic to the body’s cells.
  • A decrease in total PM2.5 levels may not be associated with a decrease in PM<0.25 levels… These findings unequivocally suggest that total PM2.5 levels are not good indicators of PM<0.25 levels.
  • While the adverse impact on health from chronic exposure to PM2.5 is well established — including stroke, lung cancer, and other heart and lung related problems — different size fractions within PM2.5 have not been well studied.
  • It adds that the National Ambient Air Quality Standard has fixed a threshold for PM2.5 at 60 µg/m3 for 24 hours and 40 µg/m3 annually, but it does not have specific policies for ultrafine particles.


  • High levels of PM2.5 are recorded in Delhi every year during post-monsoon and winter months, which in the past have led authorities to declare a public health emergency on some days and close schools.
  • Data for the study was collected six times every month between January and December 2017, through a cascade impactor measurement device installed at the main gate of IIT Delhi, at the height of human breathing zone — 1 to 1.5 metre.
  • Airborne particles in five sizes —5, 1, 0.5, 0.25 and below 0.25 micrometres — were collected through the filters. Human lung carcinoma epithelial cells were used for cytotoxicity assessment.
  • For PM particles of size up to 2.5 µm, 1.0 µm, 0.5 µm and <0.25µm, the cumulative average mass concentration values were found to be highest for the post-monsoon season (October-December), followed by winter (January-February).
  • It may be partially explained by celebration of Diwali, agricultural residue burning in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, and secondary formation of particles due to favourable meteorological conditions.
  • The low temperature and high humidity during winter nights enhance the fog-smog-fog cycle and result in 2-3-fold increase in PM concentration compared to pre-monsoon and South-West monsoon season.


  • Findings also show particulate matter of below 0.25 micrometres constituted the highest share in the composition of PM2.5 around the year as compared to particles of other sizes.
  • The PM<0.25 particles constituted over 40% of PM2.5 levels during post-monsoon season, and over 30% during winters and pre-monsoon period between March and May.
  • Their concentration was highest during the monsoon between June and September, constituting over 50% of PM2.5 levels.
  • Exposure to ultrafine particles of below 0.25 micrometres was also associated with over two-fold higher cytotoxicity, as compared to exposure to other sizes.



U.N. climate report

  • In the wake of heat waves, global warming, forest fires, storms, droughts and a rising number of hurricanes,
  • the U.N. weather agency is warning that the number of people who need international humanitarian help could rise 50% by 2030 compared to the 108 million who needed it worldwide in 2018.
  • In a new report released with partners, the World Meteorological Agency says more disasters attributed to weather are taking place each year.
  • It said over 11,000 disasters have been attributed to weather, climate and phenomena like tsunamis that are related to water over the last 50 years – causing 2 million deaths and racking up $3.6 trillion worth of economic costs.
  • In one hopeful development over that period, the average number of deaths from each separate weather disaster per year has dropped by one-third, even as the number of such events and the economic costs from them have both surged.
  • The 2020 State of Climate Services report, compiled by 16 international agencies and financing institutions, calls on governments to put more money into early-warning systems that can improve countries’ ability to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the impact of such natural disasters.



Sujal- Drink from Tap Mission

  • ODISHA Chief Minister launched the ‘Sujal- Drink from Tap Mission’ here, making Odisha “the first State in the country to provide quality drinking water, fit for direct consumption, in urban areas”.
  • The initiative aims to benefit more than 15 lakh people in the cities.
  • The project, in its first phase, will supply drinking water to Bhubaneswar and Puri.
  • The initiative, for which the state is spending ₹1,300 crore, will be extended in a phased-manner to other districts.
  • Bhubaneswar, with over 10 lakh population, is the first city in India to have 100% piped-water facility.
  • By March 2022, all households in all urban areas will have the connection. The Drink from Tap Mission will be executed in 15 cities, benefitting over 15 lakh people.



Regional Raw Drug Repository for AYUSH Systems launched at Chennai

  • Regional Raw Drug Repository, RRDRs are important components of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission, which plays an important role in medicinal plants cultivation.
  • Ministry of AYUSH, through the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), initiated establishment of National Raw Drug Repository and Regional Raw Drug Repositories.
  • NMPB have identified National Institute of Siddha as the lead Institute with the Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Chennai and the Siddha Central Research Institute, Chennai as the Collaborating Institutes.
  • This RRDR would play a stellar role in collection, documentation, and authentication of raw drugs collected from the agro-climatic region, that is, the Southern Plateau Region.
  • Medicinal Plants form the major resource base of our indigenous health care traditions.
  • The growth and acceptability of traditional systems require robust infrastructure of hospitals, dispensaries, pharmacies and manufacturing units so as to manufacture and dispense quality medicine.


  • The country has more than 9000 manufacturing units for Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy medicine.
  • However, the quality of medicines produced by these units critically depend upon the manufacturing process followed as well as the quality of raw material.
  • The Government has made it mandatory for all manufacturing units to adhere to the Good Manufacturing Practices as notified under Schedule T of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940.
  • However, since more than 90% of the formulations under these systems of medicine are plant based, what is critical is to ensure sustained availability of quality raw material.
  • This RRDR will not only act as collection centers of raw drugs available and used in southern region but also
  • as an accredited reference library for authentication of raw drugs and
  • establish standard protocols and
  • keys for authentication of raw drug used in the herbal industries.



Solution For Nuclear Weapons In Dust Particles

  • Dust can reduce the effect of nuclear weapons.
  • This has been proved by a woman scientist who came back to science after a hiatus of one year.
  • The Women Scientist Scheme (WOS A) fellowship of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) provides opportunities to women scientists and technologists who had a break in their career but desired to return to the mainstream.


  • Dr Meera Chadha from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, New Delhi, availed this opportunity not only to return back to mainstream science after a career gap but also to show for the first time,
  • through mathematical modelling, that the deadly effects of nuclear weapons can be partially mitigated or reduced with the help of dust particles.
  • Her recent study illustrates the reduction in energy released and damage radius from an intense explosion (nuclear explosion in particular) by introduction of dust particles. She has shown how the blast waves from the explosion decayed in the process.



Tech for Tribals Initiative

  • “Tech For Tribals” initiative was e-launched by TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs in association with Chhattisgarh MFP Federation and IIT Kanpur.
  • TRIFED, in collaboration with Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) under the ESDP (Entrepreneurship Skill Development Programme) programme
  • commenced the ‘Tech for Tribals’ programme
  • that aims at the holistic development of tribals with a focus on entrepreneurship development, soft skills, IT, and business development
  • through SHGs operating through Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs).
  • During the 6 weeks training from 13th October to 7th November 2020, Van Dhan beneficiaries across all districts of Chhattisgarh State are being trained on various facets of micro-enterprise creation, management and functioning.
  • The training module has been developed by IIT, Kanpur and will be disseminated among beneficiaries in a phased manner
  • through various modes like online lectures and trainings, online activities and will gradually move to face to face interactions in class rooms, practical, onsite visits and exposure visits.
  • The programme aims to tap the traditional knowledge and skills of tribals and add branding, packaging and marketing skills to optimize their income through a market led enterprise model by setting up of Van Dhan Kendras (VDVKs).