“Life in Miniature” project
- Ministry of Culture launched “Life in Miniature” project, a collaboration between the National Museum, New Delhi, Ministry of Culture, and Google Arts & Culture.
- Hundreds of miniature paintings from the National Museum’s collections can now be seen through the Google Arts & Culture app.
- The project uses technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality and digitisation with high-definition robotic cameras, to showcase these special works of art in a magical new way.
- On the Google Arts & Culture app, online viewers can experience the first augmented reality-powered art gallery designed with traditional Indian architecture, and explore a life-size virtual space where you can walk up to a selection of miniature paintings.
- The paintings selected for the project are on the themes of nature, love, celebration, faith and power.
- Among the collections included are Ramayana, Royal Saga and Pahari-style paintings. The app allows users to magnify the paintings to see the details.
First Batch Of Women Pilots
- The first batch of women pilots of Indian Navy have been operationalised on Dornier Aircraft by the Southern Naval Command at Kochi.
- The three women pilots were part of the six pilots of the 27th Dornier Operational Flying Training (DOFT) course, who graduated as ‘Fully operational Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) Pilots at a passing out ceremony held at INS Garuda.
- The three women pilots of first batch are Lieutenant Divya Sharma (from Malviya Nagar, New Delhi), Lieutenant Shubhangi Swaroop (from Tilhar, Uttar Pradesh) and Lieutenant Shivangi (from Muzaffarpur, Bihar).
- Amongst the three women pilots operationalized for MR flying, Shivangi was the first to qualify as a naval pilot on December 2, 2019.
- The course comprised of one month of ground training phase, which was conducted at various professional schools of SNC and eight months of flying training at the Dornier Squadron of SNC, INAS 550.
- Divya Sharma and Shivam Pandey were adjudged ‘First in Flying’ and ‘First in Ground’
Nag Undergoes Final User Trial
- The long-awaited third-generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), Nag, successfully underwent its final user trial in Pokhran range in Thar desert.
- Nag is now one step closer to being inducted into the Army following its successful winter and summer user trials in 2019.
- With this final user trial, Nag will enter the production phase.
- The missile will be produced by Defence Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), whereas Ordnance Factory, Medak, will produce the NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier).
- The trial was in continuation of a series of missile tests conducted by the DRDO in the last one-and-a-half months, which, is going to be on for a while.
- Among these trials were two other ATGMs — the Laser-Guided ATGM, which was successfully tested twice at a field range at Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, and the Stand-Off Anti-Tank Missile (SANT), which was tested off the east coast on October 19.
- Nag, developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme of the DRDO, suffered a setback in 2012 after it failed in some field flight tests.
- A group of DRDO facilities continued to work on the project and in February 2018, Nag was successfully tested twice when it accurately struck two targets placed at different ranges.
- In February 2019, the missile underwent successful winter trials and in July, the Indian Army successfully carried out summer trials of Nag in Pokhran.
- In 2019, the government had issued the ‘Acceptance of Necessity’ for the induction of Nag.
- The Nag missile has been developed to strike and neutralise highly-fortified enemy tanks.
- It also has night strike capabilities.
- It has a minimum range of 500 metres and maximum range of four km.
- A third-generation ‘fire and forget’ category system, Nag uses an imaging infra-red seeker to lock on to the target before launch.
- The missile is launched from the Nag missile carrier (NAMICA), a modified BMP infantry combat vehicle with amphibious capabilities, which is capable of carrying up to six combat missiles.
- DRDO is also currently in the final stages of the development of the helicopter-launched version of Nag ATGM, called the Helina, which has undergone successful tests in 2018.
Revised Base year of Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers
- The Labour and Employment Ministry revised the base year of the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) from 2001 to 2016 to reflect the changing consumption pattern, giving more weightage to spending on health, education, recreation and other miscellaneous expenses, while reducing the weight of food and beverages.
- Earlier to this revision, the series were also revised from the year 1944 to 1949;1949 to 1960; 1960 to 1982 and 1982 to 2001 since inception of Labour Bureau.
- The new series would not have an impact on the dearness allowance (DA) given to government employees for now.
- Bureau was expected to bring out the new series of the CPI for agriculture workers, which currently has the base year of 1986-87) by August next.
- In the future, the Bureau would work towards revising the index every five years.
- The reduction in weight to spending on food and beverages indicated an increase in disposable income.
- The weight to food and beverage was reduced from 46.2% to 39%, while spending on housing increased from 15.2% to 17%.
The important improvements made under the new series of CPI-IW (2016=100) vis-à-vis old series (2001=100)which are as under:
- A total of 88 centers have been covered in the 2016 series as against 78 centers in the 2001 series.
- The sample size for the conduct of Working Class Family Income and Expenditure Survey, on the basis of which weighting diagrams have been derived, was increased to 48384 families from 41040 in the 2001 series.
- The number of selected markets for collection of retail price data has also been increased to 317 markets under the 2016 series as against 289 markets covered in the 2001 series.
- The number of items directly retained in the index basket has increased to 463 items as against 392 items in the 2001 series.
- The number of States/UTs has increased to 28 under 2016 series as against 25 in the 2001 series.
- In the new series, as per the direction of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on Statistics of Prices and Cost of Living (SPCL), the Geometric mean based methodology (GM of Price Relatives) is used for compilation of indices as againstArithmetic mean used in 2001 series.
The group level weights under new series has changed in comparison to earlier series (1982 and 2001).
The weight of Food & Beverages has declined over time whereas the weight of Miscellaneous group (Health; Education & Recreation; Transport & Communication; Personal Care & Effects; Household Goods & Services etc.) has increased substantially under 2016 series vis-à-vis earlier series.
The weight of Housing Group has reported an increasing share over period of time.
Fellow of Indian National Science Academy
- Saman Habib, Chief Scientist and Professor (AcSIR) in Molecular Biology Division, CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow brought the laurels to the Institute again through her outstanding work for understanding the malaria parasite.
- She is elected as fellow of Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.
- Her research group’s interest in the malaria parasite is driven by the desire to understand
(a) the molecular workings and functions of the relict plastid (apicoplast) of Plasmodium,
(b) mechanisms of protein translation employed by Plasmodium organelles and
(c) human genetic factors and susceptibility to severe P. falciparum malaria in endemic and non-endemic regions of India.
The Indian National Science Academy
- The Indian National Science Academy was established in January 1935 with the object of promoting science in India and harnessing scientific knowledge for the cause of humanity and national welfare.
- Promotion of scientific knowledge in India including its practical application to problems of national welfare.
The major objectives of Indian National Science Academy are:
- Coordination among Scientific Academies, Societies, Institutions, Government Scientific Departments and Services.
- To act as a body of scientists of eminence for the promotion and safeguarding of the interests of scientists in India and to present internationally the scientific work done in the country.
- To act through properly constituted National Committees, in which other learned academies and societies may be associated, for undertaking scientific work of national and international importance which the Academy may be called upon to perform by the public and by the Government.
Ministry of Shipping amends Right of First Refusal (ROFR) licensing conditions
- In pursuance of ‘Make in India’ policy of the Government of India, Ministry of Shipping has reviewed the ROFR (Right of First Refusal) licensing conditions for chartering of vessels/Ships through tender process for all types of requirements.
- To promote the demand of the ships built in India, priority in chartering of vessels is given to vessels built in India, flagged in India and owned by Indians under the amendments in the guidelines of ROFR(Right of First Refusal).
- Now it has been decided that for any kind of charter of a vessel undertaken through a tender process, the Right of First Refusal (RoFR) would be exerted in the following manner:
- Indian built, Indian flagged and Indian owned
- Foreign built, Indian flagged and Indian owned
- Indian built, foreign flagged and foreign owned
- All vessels flying the flag of India (i.e. registered in India) up to the date of issue of new circular by the Director General of Shipping shall be deemed to be Indian built vessels and will fall in category (i) above and
- The foreign flagged vessels permitted by DG (Shipping) under Section 406 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 for chartering by an Indian citizen/company/society, who is building a ship in an Indian shipyard for registration under the Indian flag, as a temporary substitute for the Indian ship under construction, meeting the following two conditions shall be deemed to fall under Category (i) above.
- 25% of the contract money has been paid to the Indian shipyard
- 50% of the hull fabrication has been completed, as certified by Recognised Organisation.
- Ministry of Shipping has made provision for long-term subsidy for shipbuilding activities under shipbuilding financial assistance policy (2016-2026).
- The revised guidelines will give a boost to the domestic shipbuilding and shipping industries.
- It will encourage the domestic shipping industry to support the domestic shipping industry.
Britain’s Major post-Brexit trade deal
- Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement, marking the UK’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade, as it continues to struggle to agree on a deal with its closest trading partners in the European Union.
- This is the first new free trade deal to be agreed since the UK once again became an independent trading nation.
- Britain has said the deal meant 99% of its exports to Japan would be tariff-free, and that it could increase trade by 15.2 billion pounds ($19.9 billion) in the long run, compared with 2018.
- The deal removes Britain’s tariffs on Japanese cars in stages to zero in 2026, which is the same as in the Japan-EU trade agreement.
- Japan welcomes Britain’s interest in joining the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade deal, and intends to provide necessary support.
- Japan is already a member of the CPTPP, which also links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Joint Rivers Commission
- India and Bangladesh are negotiating the modalities for hosting the long-delayed meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission,.
- During the recently held Joint Consultative Commission meeting between the two Foreign Ministers, they urged the concerned authorities to consider convening the ministerial level JRC meeting.
- The Joint Rivers Commission was created as one of the earliest bilateral mechanisms over water resources.
- India and Bangladesh are geared for early conclusion of the Framework Agreement for sharing of waters of six joint rivers like Manu, Muhuri, Gomti, Dharla, Dudhkumar and Khowai.
- That apart, both sides are also in talks on sharing the waters of the Teesta which has not made forward movement despite repeated show of support by the top leaders from both sides.
- The Prime Ministers are scheduled to meet for a virtual summit in December and it is expected that the JRC will be convened ahead of the exchange.
U.S. gives full approval to antiviral remdesivir to treat COVID-19
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19, after conditional authorization was given in May.
- The drug, sold under the brand name Veklury, was the only specific treatment for COVID-19 approved so far under a more rigorous process.
- However, other treatments have received authorization for emergency use, though that approval can be revoked once the public health emergency sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is over.
- Other medications, like the steroid dexamethasone, are also being used in the fight against Covid-19.
- Europe and other countries such as Canada also have granted temporary approval for the use of remdesivir.
- Remdesivir, which is administered by an injection, was one of the first drugs to show relative promise in shortening the time to recovery in some coronavirus patients.
- But its efficacy in reducing the mortality rate is unproven.
- Emergency approval has been granted for its use on pediatric patients under the age of 12 weighing at least 3.5 kilos.
- The drug was first developed to treat Ebola, a viral hemorrhagic fever.
Sri Lanka: Controversial 20th Amendment passed
- The controversial 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority, following a two-day debate.
- The 20th Amendment rolls back Sri Lanka’s 19th Amendment, a 2015 legislation passed with wide support from the Rajapaksa camp — then in Opposition — that sought to clip presidential powers, while strengthening Parliament.
- The new legislation in turn reduces the Prime Minister’s role to a ceremonial one.
- In the two-day debate, opposition MPs broadly argued that the Amendment threatened to take the country on the path of authoritarianism, giving the President unbridled powers, while government MPs emphasised the need for centralised power for better governance.
- With the change, President will be able to hold ministries as well as appoint and fire ministers.
- He will also be the appointing authority of the elections, public service, police, human rights, and bribery or corruption investigation commissions.
- These commissions were perceived independent with a constitutional council comprising legislators from different political parties and civil personalities making the appointments.
- With the amendment, the constitutional council is abolished for a parliamentary council whose observations the president is not bound to implement.
- The president can also dissolve Parliament after two years and six months of it being elected instead of the previous law that prohibited him from dissolving Parliament until six months before its five-year term ends.
- This will pave the way for a sibling to enter Parliament, further strengthening the Rajapaksa family’s hold on Sri Lanka’s political power.
- Currently, Rajapaksa’s older brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is prime minister. Another older brother and three nephews are also legislators – three of them ministers.
- Rajapaksa renounced his US citizenship last year to run for president.
- The amendment was passed with several changes because the Supreme Court earlier determined certain clauses in the original proposals were against people’s sovereignty and they needed approval in a public referendum to become law.
- Sri Lanka has been ruled under a powerful executive presidential system since 1978, but a reformist government in 2015 clipped much of the president’s powers and gave them over to the parliament and independent commissions, saying successive presidents had been more authoritarian.
ICMR issues advisory for use of Feluda paper strip test
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued an advisory for the use of indigenously developed Feluda paper strip test, which is based on CRISPR-Cas9 technology for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2, by laboratories.
- The paper-strip uses cutting-edge CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in less than an hour.
- As claimed by the manufacturer, no further RT-PCR based confirmation is required for samples that are confirmed as positive or negative by the CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 test, the advisory issued stated.
- The test has been developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIRs) Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, and has been validated by the National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
- The test has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for use in the country.
- The test works by identifying SARS-CoV-2 virus strain and uses a Thermal Cycler instead of a qPCR machine for conducting the test.
- No further approval is required from the ICMR for existing laboratories.
- Any prescription for RT-PCR, CRISPR, TRUENAT, CBNAAT may be considered equivalent.
Regional Raw Drug Repository (RRDR)
- The Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH inaugurated the Regional Raw Drug Repository (RRDR) at All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi.
- This RRDR is the second in the series of repositories proposed by National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH and will be dedicated to the Trans-Ganga Plain Region.
- There is an increased demand for the natural healing and herbal products across the globe.
- COVID has further pushed the demand and many of the key herbs like Asvagandha, Giloi, Tulsi, Kalmegh, Mulethi are on high demand.
- With the increasing demand for the herbal medicines, the NMPB which is already engaged in the development of a mechanism to ensure supply of quality raw material to the AYUSH industry as well as consumers expedited the process of establishing the Raw Drug Repositories.
- In order to document the diversity in the genetics and chemistry of medicinal plants, eight RRDR and one NRDR have been proposed by Ministry of AYUSH. Out of them, three Regional Raw Drug Repositories are ready.
- RRDR for Trans- Ganga Plain Region covers four states -Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Punjab.
PM to inaugurate projects in Gujarat
- Prime Minister will inaugurate three key projects in Gujarat on October 24.
- The three projects are
- ‘Kisan Suryodaya Yojana’ for the farmers of Gujarat;
- inauguration of Paediatric Heart Hospital attached with UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre and
- a Mobile Application for tele-cardiology at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad.
- He will also inaugurate the Ropeway at Girnar on the occasion.
Kisan Suryodaya Yojana
- To provide day-time power supply for irrigation, the Gujarat government under Chief Minister had recently announced the ‘Kisan Suryodaya Yojana’.
- Under this scheme, farmers will be able to avail power supply from 5 AM to 9 PM.
- The State government has allocated a budget of ₹3,500 crore for installing transmission infrastructure under this scheme by 2023.
Paediatric Heart Hospital
- UN Mehta Institute will now become India’s biggest hospital for cardiology in addition to being one of the select few hospitals in the world with a world-class medical infrastructure and medical facilities.
- The Institute will also become the biggest single super speciality cardiac teaching institute in the country and one of the biggest single super speciality cardiac hospitals in the world.
- Vodafone Idea Foundation, the CSR arm of Vodafone Idea Ltd, in partnership with NASSCOM Foundation, Sayfty Trust, and UN Women has launched a new app for women called ‘MyAmbar’.
- The app has been designed and developed for the safety and empowerment of women in India under the ‘Connecting for Good’
- It aims to help women understand and stand against violence.
- The app contains a directory of important helpline numbers and service providers across the country.
- It also provides a step-by-step risk assessment tool to help them self-assess and understand their physical and emotional state along with recommendations for further course of action.
- The upfront SOS button within the app is meant to help them send their location to their emergency contacts in case of any danger.
- Survivors and high-risk victims can also log in their complaints and seek help through the app.
- The app is available in English and Hindi.
Cbse Introduces Facial Recognition System
- The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced ‘facial recognition system‘ which will enable students to download their digital academic documents of classes 10, 12.
- This computer application matches human face from a digital image already stored in the database. The computer and the human interact to map facial features.
- A live image of the student will be matched with the photograph on the CBSE admit card already stored in the repository, and once successful, the certificate will be emailed to the student, as per board.
- This application is now available on “Parniaam Manjusha” and Digi Locker at https://digilocker.gov.in/cbse-certificate.html for all 2020 records.
- CBSE has already pushed 12 crore digital academic documents in Digi locker which can be opened by a student to access mark sheets, pass and migration certificates.
- The latest facility of face matching will immensely help foreign students and those who are unable to open Digi locker account for any reason such as Aadhaar card or wrong mobile numbers.
Were Indians making cheese 4,500 years ago?
- A study published last month in the journal Nature presents what could be the earliest evidence of cheese-making in South Asia.
- The study is based on archaeological finds from the Kotada Bhadli settlement –– located in modern day-Gujarat’s Kutch district –– which was an agro-pastoral settlement in the Indus Valley civilisation, occupied from the mid to the late third millennium BCE.
What is the evidence?
- The findings are based on analysis of the absorbed lipid residues in unglazed ceramic vessels.
- In simpler terms, this means that residues of fatty acids –– organic compounds found in plant and animal products ––which had been absorbed into pottery remnants found at archaeological sites were extracted and analysed to identify what the people who used these vessels might have eaten.
- Among other types of food is evidence of dairy processing, that is, the preservation of milk through fermentation and other techniques.
Why is this important?
- The significance of the finding lies in the revelation that cheese was very likely made and consumed in the subcontinent during what is known as the Mature Harappan period.
- This would make it the earliest evidence of cheese-making in the region.
- Until now, there has only been speculation about when cheese was first made in the subcontinent, with food historian KT Achaya noting in his book, Indian Food: A Historical Companion (1994), that references to what may be cheese appear during the Vedic period.
‘e-Dharti Geo portal’
- Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister has launched the ‘e-Dharti Geo Portal’ that will integrate legacy drawings such as maps and lease plans in the management information system and make it geographic information system (GIS)-enabled.
- The land & development office (L&DO) is dealing with around 60,000 properties that are commercial, residential, industrial as well as institutional.
- The L&DO has devised a property certificate incorporating details and the outline map of the property which is available online on the portal.
- The property certificate, which will give all the relevant details about the property to the lessee as well as prospective purchaser, will be available by paying a nominal fee of ₹1,000 and can be accessed by the public by visiting the L&DO website – www.ldo.gov.in.
- This measure will benefit the general public, particularly the elderly, and the move will also help in avoiding unnecessary litigations.
- Through the certificate, the lessee of the property will be able to get the basic details of his/her property along with the map showing its location.
- This measure will also help a prospective purchaser to ascertain the details of the property as well as whether any suit or proceeding is pending in respect of the property.
Smart Black Board scheme
- Tamil Nadu government is implementing the Smart Black Board scheme in 80,000 government schools to ensure better teaching environment.
- Smart Black Board scheme envisages usage of audio visual teaching material that can be fed into the computer screens in classes using widely available pen drives.
- At present there are 7500 teaching as well as 2400 non-teaching posts lying vacant in the state and that necessary steps for filling up these posts at the earliest are being taken.
Arctic Sea Ice Not Yet Freezing At Latest Date On Record
- For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October.
- The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region.
- Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5C above average, following a record breaking heatwave and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice.
- The trapped heat takes a long time to dissipate into the atmosphere, even at this time of the year when the sun creeps above the horizon for little more than an hour or two each day.
- This year’s Siberian heatwave was made at least 600 times more likely by industrial and agricultural emissions.
- The warmer air temperature is not the only factor slowing the formation of ice.
- Climate change is also pushing more balmy Atlantic currents into the Arctic and breaking up the usual stratification between warm deep waters and the cool surface.
- This also makes it difficult for ice to form.
- It is already well known that a smaller ice sheet means less of a white area to reflect the sun’s heat back into space.
- But this is not the only reason the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the global average.
- The Laptev Sea is known as the birthplace of ice, which forms along the coast there in early winter, then drifts westward carrying nutrients across the Arctic, before breaking up in the spring in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard.
- If ice forms late in the Laptev, it will be thinner and thus more likely to melt before it reaches the Fram Strait.
- This could mean fewer nutrients for Arctic plankton, which will then have a reduced capacity to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- More open sea also means more turbulence in the upper layer of the Arctic ocean, which draws up more warm water from the depths.
Protected Areas Can Help Water Birds Adapt To Climate Change
- Protected areas can help water birds adapt to climate change by advancing shifts in their range northwards, according to a study.
- Climate change usually pushes the distribution areas of species northward.
- However, the expansion of species ranges is not self-evident due to habitat degradation and unsustainable harvesting caused by human activities.
- Researchers found that the shift in ranges of the birds had been over 40 per cent faster inside protected areas, compared to outside areas.
- On average, species communities shifted 90 kilometres inside protected areas over 25 years.
- Protected areas not only increased the colonisation towards northern areas, but also prevented local extinctions on the southern range of species compared to non-protected areas.
- Protected areas could thus contribute to expanding the overall range of species.
- Protected area networks also influenced the spread of water bird species, in addition to single protected areas.
- Shifts in species communities were faster in areas with a dense protected area network compared to areas where the network was sparse.
Gender gap in labour market stagnant since 1995
- Gender equality across the world remains a far-fetched goal and no country has achieved it so far, according to the 2020 edition of the United Nations report on the state of gender equality in the world.
- The attitudes of discrimination, however, have slowly changed in the last two decades.
- But there are plenty of challenges: Gender gap in the labour market, for example, has not budged a bit since 1995, the report titled World’s Women: Trends and Statistics
- While the status of women has improved with regard to education, early marriage, childbearing and maternal mortality, the progress has stagnated in other areas.
- The report provided a reality-check on the global status of women 25 years since the world adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
- It also showed how the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic impacted the lives of women and deepened underlying inequalities in societies around the world.
- It presented the global state of gender equality in six critical areas:
- Population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child as well as the impact of COVID-19.
Participation in labour market
- Only 47 per cent women of working age participated in the labour market, compared to around 74 per cent men.
- The regional analysis in the report showed that the gender gap in labour force participation was the largest in Southern Asia (54 percentage points), followed by Northern Africa (47 percentage points) and Western Asia (47 percentage points), where women’s labour participation rates were below 30 per cent.
- The largest gender gap in labour force participation was observed in the prime working age (25-54). This gap has remained unaddressed since 1995 and was at 32 percentage points as of 2020.
- In India, the ratio of female-to-male labour force participation rate was 29.80 in 2019 as against the desired ratio of 50 per cent.
Working for free
- The data in the interactive UN report showed how women remained under the burden of unpaid domestic and care work.
- On an average day, women globally spent about three times (4.2 hours) as many hours on unpaid domestic and care work as men (1.7 hours).
- The inequality was the highest in Northern Africa and Western Asia, with women spending at least seven times (four hours) as much as men (54 minutes) on these activities.
- A country-wise analysis presented in the report showed that in Pakistan, women spent 11 times (five hours) more time on domestic work than men (30 minutes).
- This inequality between men and women in employment and share in unpaid work may disrupt the 2030 agenda of inclusive growth and ensuring economic equality.
Family responsibilities, unpaid work
- Family responsibilities and unequal distribution of unpaid domestic and care work were among primary reasons for women not joining the labour force.
- Their participation depended on their liabilities and responsibilities in their household, noted UN.
- It found that women living alone were more likely to be in the labour market.
- On an average, 82 per cent women of prime working age living alone were in the labour market, compared to 64 per cent women living with a partner and 48 per cent living with a partner and children.
- The report warned that the pandemic may widen gender disparities in labour market outcomes as many women work in the sub sectors comprising human health and social work; education; private households; and accommodation and food service activities.
Covid-19 Blood Plasma Therapy Has Limited Effect
- A study suggests “convalescent plasma” has only limited effectiveness and fails to reduce deaths or stop the progression to severe disease.
- Plasma is the clear, yellowish liquid part of the blood which carries red and white blood cells and platelets around the body.
- After an infection, plasma is often packed with antibodies generated by the immune system.
- As such, it is sometimes harvested from people who have recovered from a disease and transfused into patients who are fighting it.
- This convalescent plasma therapy was used during the 1918 flu pandemic, as well as during more recent global health emergencies, treating patients with Sars or Ebola.
- Despite the findings of the latest published study, convalescent plasma may yet prove to be effective against Covid-19.
Fukushima reactor water could damage human DNA if released
- Contaminated water that will reportedly be released into the sea from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contains a radioactive substance that has the potential to damage human DNA, a Greenpeace investigation has said.
- The environmental group claims the 1.23m tonnes of water stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the plant contains “dangerous” levels of the radioactive isotope carbon-14, in addition to quantities of tritium .
- Carbon-14 has a half life of 5,370 years and becomes incorporated into all living matter.
- It concentrates in fish at a level thousands of times higher than tritium. Carbon-14 is especially important as a major contributor to collective human radiation dose and has the potential to damage human DNA.
- Tepco’s advanced liquid processing system removes highly radioactive substances from the water but is unable to filter out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that nuclear power plants routinely dilute and dump along with water into the ocean.