Two new species of pipeworts
- Two new species of a plant group known for their varied medicinal properties have been discovered in the Western Ghats – one of the thirty-five hot-spots of biological diversity in the world.
- The plant group known as pipeworts (Eriocaulon), which completes their life cycle within a small period during monsoon, exhibits great diversity in the Western Ghats, having around 111 species in India.
- Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas, and around 70% of them are endemic to the country.
- One species, Eriocaulon cinereum, is well known for its anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. E. quinquangulare is used against liver diseases. E. madayiparense is an anti-bacterial from Kerala.
- The medicinal properties of the newly discovered species are yet to be explored.
- Scientist wanted to trace the evolutionary history of the genus Eriocaulon and made extensive efforts to collect as many species as possible from India, especially from the Western Ghats.
- Identification of the species belonging to Eriocaulon is very difficult as they all look similar, which is why the genus is often referred to as ‘Taxonomist’s nightmare’.
- Its tiny flowers and seeds make it difficult to distinguish between different species.
- The one reported from Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra was named as Eriocaulon parvicephalum (due to its minute inflorescence size), and
- the other reported from Kumta, Karnataka was named as Eriocaulon karaavalense (named after Karaavali = Coastal Karnataka region).
SRC : PIB
A Vaccine To Reduce Yield Loss Due To Diseases In Rice
- A scientist has uncovered the mechanism by which a bacterium called Xoo (Xanthomonas oryzaepv. oryzae) that causes a serious bacterial leaf blight disease in rice interacts with rice plant and cause disease.
- Scientist are working to identify and develop few molecules which are derived from either the Xoo bacterium or from the infected rice cell walls.
- The team is developing new disease control strategies which they can use as vaccines that activate the rice immune system and provide resistance to rice plants from subsequent infections by pathogens.
- Xanthomonas oryzaepv. oryzae, or commonly known as Xoo infection, cause huge yield losses to rice cultivation throughout the world.
- Treatment of rice with cellulase, a cell wall degrading enzyme secreted by Xoo induces rice immune responses and protects rice from subsequent infections by Xoo.
- Carried out biochemical and functional studies on plant cell wall degrading enzymes secreted by Xoo, which has provided key insights into the mechanisms by which the Xoo pathogen interacts with rice plant and cause disease.
- The group is working on a cellulase protein secreted by Xoo.
- This cellulase protein has the features of a typical vaccine as it is a potent elicitor of rice immune responses.
- Pre-treatment of rice plants with this protein provides resistance to rice against subsequent Xoo infection.
- In order to study how exactly this protein induces the rice immune system, the group is testing whether any surface exposed peptide of this cellulase protein is being recognized by the rice immune system leading to the activation of immune responses.
- They are also exploring whether the rice cell wall degradation products (sugars) that are released by the activity of this cellulase protein on rice cell walls elicit rice immunity.
- The elicitor molecules (peptide/sugars), once identified, will be used as a vaccine to activate the rice immune system and induce resistance in rice plants to subsequent infections by pathogens.
- So far, improving the resistance of rice plants by introducing Resistance “R” genes has been the best way to control this disease which involves breeding or gene manipulation techniques that are laborious and time-consuming.
- Also, the introduced of “R” genes provide only race-specific resistance that will prevent infections by only specific strains of Xoo.
- But the elicitor molecule that will be identified in this work will have the potential to induce a broad-spectrum resistance, which will be effective not only against Xoo but also against other pathogens.
Successful Flight Test of Smart
- Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) has been successfully flight tested from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha.
- All the mission objectives including missile flight upto the range and altitude, separation of the nose cone, release of Torpedo and deployment of Velocity Reduction Mechanism (VRM) have been met perfectly.
- SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo System for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations far beyond Torpedo range.
- This launch and demonstration is significant in establishing Anti-Submarine warfare capabilities.
- A number of DRDO laboratories including DRDL, RCI Hyderabad, ADRDE Agra, NSTL Visakhapatnam have developed the technologies required for SMART.
- SMART is a game changer technology demonstration in the Anti-Submarine Warfare.
World Habitat Day 2020
- World Habitat Day is marked on the first Monday of October each year, and is recognised by the United Nations to reflect on the situation of towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
- It is intended to remind the world that everyone has the power and responsibility to shape the future of our surroundings.
- World Habitat Day 2020 theme is ‘Housing For All — A Better Urban Future’.
- An estimated 1.8 billion people live in slums in our cities worldwide before the pandemic began and some three billion people lack basic hand-washing facilities.
- This means millions of people are more likely to experience poor health due to the absence of basic services and exposure to multiple socio-economic and environmental hazards.
- The UN’s World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”.
- An important highlight of the day is the “Habitat Scroll of Honour” award, which was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHSP) in 1989.
- This year the underlying motto is to tell highlight that housing is a human right and a catalyst for all other fundamental rights.
- It is the only way to ensure the “Right to the City for All”.
World Teacher’s Day 2020 – 5th October
- UNESCO announced October 5 as World Teachers’ Day in 1994.
- The day is celebrated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) along with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Education International.
- The theme for World Teachers’ Day 2020 is ‘Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future’.
- World Teacher’s Day is a big step made for teachers on October 5, 1966, during a special intergovernmental conference summoned by UNESCO in Paris.
- It adopted the UNESCO/ILO recommendation regarding the status of teachers in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
- The UNESCO/ILO recommendation describes the rights and responsibilities of teachers.
- It also puts forth the authority and obligations of international standards in the initial preparation, education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions.
- In India however, Teachers’ Day is celebrated every year on September 5 to mark the birthday of the country’s former President, scholar, philosopher and Bharat Ratna awardee, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was born on this day in 1888.
- When Dr Radhakrishnan took the office of the second President of India in 1962, his students approached him asking for permission to celebrate September 5 as a special day for him.
- Dr Radhakrishnan instead made a request of them to observe September 5 as Teachers’ Day, to recognise the contribution of teachers to the society.
SRC : Times Now
- The chairman of a Supreme Court-appointed expert committee has alleged violations of the court orders in the execution of the Chardham road project — a 900-km, ₹12,000-crore enterprise to connect pilgrimage spots in Uttarakhand.
- A controversial aspect was the proposed width of the two-line highways envisaged.
- The SC committee was divided over the width with one set of members saying it only be 5.5-metre-wide and another plumbing for a higher road width.
- The SC ruled last month that a 5.5-metre width be enforced as it was in conformity with a 2018 recommendation by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for mountain roads.
- The MoRTH is also the key coordinator of the Chardham project. Prior to this, the government had sanctioned a road width of 10-12 metres.
- Ravi Chopra, Chairman of the High Powered Committee (HPC), monitoring the Chardham Project.
- The 900-km stretch has been broken up into 53 contracted road projects.
- MoRTH has allowed the 700 km-road projects to continue with the old 10-metre width and only in the remaining 200 km roads would the new narrow width apply.
- This is a clear contravention of the Supreme Court orders which said that the road width must apply in the entire stretch.
SRC: THE HINDU
Paytm to open ‘mini app’ store for Indian developers
- In the fight against Google, Paytm has announced the launch of its “mini app” store to “support Indian developers” in taking their products to the masses.
- The mini apps are a custom-built mobile website that give users app-like experience without having to download them.
- Paytm will add a new section on its main application wherein these mini apps will be listed and can be accessed by Paytm app users.
- Last month, Google had also briefly removed Paytm from its Play Store, citing a violation of its policy on gambling. Paytm had at the time called upon the Indian start-up ecosystem and developers to “think the bigger question”.
SRC: THE HINDU
New family of bony fish discovered in Western Ghats
- Scientists from India, Germany, United Kingdom and Switzerland have discovered a new family of bony fish from the Western Ghats, and named it Aenigmachannidae.
- A year after the discovery of the enigmatic Gollum Snakehead, Aenigmachanna gollum from the rice fields of northern Kerala, scientists have now conducted detailed studies on its skeleton and genetic assembly.
- The study led to the recognition that this species, and its congener Aenigmachanna mahabali, represents a new family different from Channidae, in which both species were initially placed.
- Rendered images obtained from high-resolution CT scans revealed that Aenigmachanna gollum has a surprisingly large number of primitive characters, and detailed molecular phylogenetic analyses including of its mitogenome, suggested an ancient separation from Channidae.
- These suggest that members of Aenigmachannidae are “living fossils” and comprise an ancient gondwanan lineage that survived the break-up of the supercontinent and the northward drift of the Indian subcontinent, about 100 million years ago.
- The recognition of Aenigmachannidae as a new family of bony fishes comes six years after the description of Kryptoglanidae, another unique family of freshwater fish endemic to Kerala.
- According to scientists, the subterranean ecosystems of Kerala harbour some of the planet’s most bizarre species such as Horaglanis krishnaii, Kryptoglanis shajii, Aenigmachanna gollum and Monopterus digressus.
- Many of these species are blind, pigment-less, and have peculiar morphological characters that are otherwise not seen in species occurring in surface waters.
- Around 10 such enigmatic species of subterranean fish are currently known from Kerala.
SRC :THE HINDU
Sexual violence against women and girls
- The UN in India has expressed concern over the continuing cases of sexual violence against women and girls in the country, stating that it is essential for the authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily.
- The recent cases of alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balarampur are another reminder that despite the impressive progress made on a number of social indicators, women and girls from disadvantaged social groups face additional vulnerabilities and are at greater risk of gender-based violence.
- It is essential that authorities ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily, and that families be empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counselling, healthcare and rehabilitation.
- Entrenched social norms and behaviour of men and boys that lead to gender based violence must be addressed.
- The UN stands committed to providing continued support to the Government and civil society to address violence against women.
Election Commission makes procedure to opt for postal ballot
- Seeking to make the procedure to opt for postal ballot more convenient for those above 80 years of age and people with disabilities, the Election Commission (EC) has come out with a set of new instructions.
- The form required to opt for the postal ballot would be delivered at the residence of all those above 80 years of age and people with disabilities by the booth level officer under his polling station.
- It would be up to these two category of voters to opt for postal ballot.
- If he/she opts for postal ballot, then the booth level officer will collect the filled-in form 12-D from the house of the elector within five days of the notification and deposit it with the returning officer forthwith.
- The fresh instructions would be applicable to all elections and by-elections, including the bypolls announced last week to 56 assembly and one Lok Sabha seat.
- This postal ballot facility is different from the one extended to service voters.
- Here, those willing to use the facility have to fill up a form.
- Officials then carry the ballot to the residence of such voters and videograph the voting to ensure transparency.
Low pressure area likely to form over Andaman Sea next week: IMD
- A fresh low pressure area is very likely to form over the north Andaman Sea on October 9 and move towards Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast after its intensification into a depression, the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD said.
- Under the influence of the fresh low pressure area, rainfall activity is very likely to increase over Odisha and coastal Andhra Pradesh during October 11-13.
- A low pressure area is the first stage of any cyclone. It is, however, not necessary that every low pressure area intensifies into a cyclonic storm.
- October often witnesses cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.
- The October of 2013 and 2014 saw Phailin and Hudhdud, both extremely severe cyclonic storms, ravaging the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coasts.
SRC: THE HINDU
‘Diffie-Hellman key exchange’
- Since 2016, WhatsApp has installed an end-to-end encryption system.
- The technology that forms the basis for this is called the ‘Diffie-Hellman key exchange’.
- In a 1976 paper titled, New Directions in Cryptography, Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman saw the futility of the old ways of sharing a key securely (say, by “sending the key in advance over some secure channel such as private courier or registered mail”) in the emerging digital world.
- They proposed a way for secure communication via a method of a shared secret key, and that too when the communication is over a not-so-secure channel.
- In the world of imagination, a shared secret colour is the shared secret key between two communicators, who we will call A and B.
- A and B need to communicate without anyone eavesdropping.
- They first agree on a public colour (say, yellow). The two communicators then choose their own private colour, which is not to be shared with anyone.
- Say A chooses red and B, blue.
- They then individually mix their private colour with the public colour and send the mixture to each other.
- Note that the eavesdroppers can figure out the public colour and the mixtures.
- But there is one more step.
- B’s mixture (some sort of green) at A’s end is added with A’s private colour (red), and A’s mixture (some sort of orange) at B’s end is added with B’s private colour (blue).
- They both arrive at the same secret colour after the final step.
- There is now a shared secret colour key.
- The message that also needs to be understood is that while it is easy to add colours, it is difficult to figure out the original colours that contributed to a mixture.
- In the math world, that is called a one-way function.
- Imagine the difficulty in figuring out a key from complex mathematical computations.
- The Diffie-Hellman paper said: “A third party eavesdropping on this exchange must find it computationally infeasible to compute the key from the information overheard.”
- End-to-end encryption cannot prevent leaks from happening if a third party has access to a device which contains these messages.
- Encryption also does not help in cases wherein the sender or the receiver of a message shares it with others, a member of a group shares it with others, or messages are stored in a different format on a different application or platform open to others.
SRC: THE HINDU
Dhaulasidh Hydro Project at Hamirpur
- Prime Minister participated in the Abhinandan program in Solang Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
- The Prime Minister announced the construction of 66 MW Dhaulasidh Hydro Project at Hamirpur.
- He added not only will it provide electricity but also several employment opportunities to youth of the region.
- Himachal Pradesh is an important stakeholder in the Government’s efforts to build modern infrastructure across the country especially rural roads, highways, power projects, rail connectivity and air connectivity.
India’s K missile family
- A successful trial of the nuclear capable Shaurya missile was conducted by India.
- Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine launched K-15 missile.
- These ballistic weapons belong to the K missile family — codenamed after late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam — which are launched from Arihant class of nuclear submarines.
The K Family of missiles
- The K family of missiles are primarily Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), which have been indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and
- Are named after Dr Kalam, the centre figure in India’s missile and space programmes who also served as the 11th President of India.
- The development of these naval platform launched missiles began in the late 1990s as a step towards completing India’s nuclear triad — the capability of launching nuclear weapons from land, sea and air based assets.
- Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, smaller and stealthier than their land-based counterparts, the Agni series of missiles which are medium and intercontinental range nuclear capable ballistic missiles.
- While K family are primarily submarine-fired missiles to be fired from India’s Arihant class nuclear powered platforms, the land and air variants of some of its members have also been developed by the DRDO.
- Shaurya, whose user trial was conducted recently, is a land variant of short range SLBM K-15 Sagarika, which has a range of at least 750 kilometers.
- India has also developed and successfully tested multiple times the K-4 missiles from the family which has a range of 3500 km.
- It is reported that more members of K-family — reportedly to have been codenamed K-5 and K-6 — with ranges of 5000 and 6000 km are also under development.
- The early development trials of K-15 and K-4 missiles had begun in the early 2010s.
2020 Nobel Prize for Medicine
- Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
- Announcing the prize in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee noted that the trio’s work helped explain a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn’t be explained by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
- Their work make possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.
- For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating hepatitis C virus from the world population.
- The World Health Organisation estimates there are over 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide and 400,000 deaths each year.
- The disease is chronic and a major cause of liver inflammation and cancer.
- The prestigious Nobel award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (over USD 1,118,000), courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
SRC : THE HINDU
What is Hepatitis C virus?
- Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus and causes Hepatitis C disease which affects the liver. According to WHO, “globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection and a significant number develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.”
- In 2016, it was estimated that approximately 3,99,000 people died globally from hepatitis C.
How did they discover a new virus?
- Harvey J. Alter who was studying hepatitis in patients who had received blood transfusions, found many unexplained infections.
- Tests for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B virus infection showed that they were not the cause.
- His team demonstrated that blood from these patients could transmit the disease to chimpanzees, and more studies showed that an unknown infectious agent was behind this.
- The mysterious new illness was termed “non-A, non-B” hepatitis.
- This new virus could not be isolated for several years using the traditional techniques for virus isolation.
- Michael Houghton and his team created a collection of DNA fragments from the blood of an infected chimpanzee and thoroughly searched it.
- They found a novel RNA virus belonging to the Flavivirus family and named it the Hepatitis C virus.
- To understand if this new virus alone could cause hepatitis, Charles M. Rice used genetic engineering, generated an RNA variant of the virus and injected it into the liver of chimpanzees.
- The virus was detected in the blood and the chimpanzees exhibited changes similar to those seen in humans with the disease.
- This was the final proof that the virus alone was the cause behind the unexplained cases of transfusion-mediated hepatitis.
Why does this discovery matter?
- The discoveries by the three Nobel laureates have helped design sensitive blood tests that have eliminated the risk of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis.
- Their discovery also helped develop antiviral drugs directed at hepatitis C.
- This has now raised hopes of eradicating the virus from the world population.
- The medicine prize carried particular significance this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the importance that medical research has for societies and economies around the world.
- The award is the first of six prizes being announced through October 12.
- The other prizes are for outstanding work in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.
SRC: THE HINDU
National Startup Awards 2020
- The Results of the first edition of National Startup Awards will be released by Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, on 6th October, 2020.
- The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has conceived the first ever National Startup Awards
- to recognize and reward outstanding Startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises,
- with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact.
- The measure of success is not only the financial gains for the investors but also the contribution to the social good.
- The first edition of the Awards invited applications across 12 sectors which were further sub-classified into a total of 35 categories.
- These 12 sectors are Agriculture, Education, Enterprise Technology, Energy, Finance, Food, Health, Industry 4.0, Space, Security, Tourism and Urban Services.
- Apart from these, startups are to be selected from those which create impact in rural areas, are women-led and founded in academic campuses.
- The winning Startups will get cash prizes of Rs 5 lakh each, along with opportunities to present their solutions to relevant public authorities and corporates, for potential pilot projects and work orders.
- As key building blocks of a robust Startup ecosystem, one exceptional Incubator and one Accelerator each will get a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh.
How EMIs are affected by the govt waiver on levy of compound interest
- A waiver on levy of compound interest, or interest on interest, on MSME and personal loans of up to Rs 2 crore
- may come as a major relief to borrowers, especially those whose loans are in initial years of repayment as their interest component is a major chunk.
- Since the moratorium on loan repayments announced by the Reserve Bank of India was not a waiver, borrowers are liable to pay interest and interest on interest on the accumulated amount.
- While the central government has announced that it will foot the bill for compound interest, customers still have to bear the liability of interest accumulated in during the six of the moratorium period.
- Sources said this waiver is expected to cost the government around Rs 6,000-7000 crore.
What has to be paid?
- The difference between interest and interest on interest.
- It must be clear that customers will have to pay the interest on their outstanding loan for the period for which they opted the moratorium.
- So, if one had a loan outstanding of Rs 50 lakh for a remaining term of 19 years (228 months) at the beginning of the moratorium period and your interest rate was 8 per cent, the interest cost for the six-month period of the moratorium would come at close to Rs 2 lakh.
- This will have to be paid.
What gets waived?
- Continuing with the above example, banks will not charge interest on this Rs 2 lakh interest amount from the customers and the government has proposed to pay it.
- So, the banks would not be adding the interest amount of Rs 2 lakh to your principal outstanding of Rs 50 lakh and will not calculate a fresh EMI at the prevailing interest rate.
So how will one pay the interest amount accumulated during moratorium period?
- Since, the government has offered to pay the interest on interest component, banks and housing finance companies can simply divide the interest component — Rs 2 lakh in this case over 228 monthly instalments.
- Which means the EMI may get increased by Rs 877 per month.
How much do one save?
- Continuing with the above example, if the bank had added the interest component to principal outstanding and charged 8 per cent for 228 months, EMI would have increased by Rs 1,709 per month.
- However, since now there is no interest to be charged on that (as the government has proposed to pay it), EMI may only go up by Rs 877 per month.
- So a monthly saving of Rs 832 for the period of 228 months in this case (on account of waiver on interest on interest).
New Caledonia rejects independence from France for second time
- Voters in the French territory of New Caledonia in the south Pacific have narrowly rejected – for a second time – a proposal to break away from Paris, choosing to remain loyal to the French republic in a nationwide referendum.
- As it had in 2018, the “no” vote for independence prevailed, this time 53.3% to 46.7%.
- But a significantly improved “yes” vote, up from 43% last referendum and now approaching the simple majority needed for secession, has given a massive fillip to the independence campaign, and laid the foundations for a third and final referendum on the question in two years’ time.
- The push for independence – overwhelmingly supported by New Caledonia’s indigenous Kanak population, who make up about 40% of the population – now appears a real possibility for 2022.
- First colonised by France in 1853, the islands of New Caledonia – just 1,500km off the coast of Australia – remain a French colonial dependency.
- This was the second of potentially three national referendums agreed under the 1998 Nouméa Accord,
- a carefully negotiated de-colonisation plan brokered to end a deadly conflict between the mostly pro-independence Kanak population and the descendants of European settlers, known as Caldoches, in the 1980s.
- That violence culminated in a bloody, drawn-out hostage crisis in 1988 that saw 19 separatists killed on one side, and six police and special forces soldiers on the other.
- A third referendum can be held within two years if a third of the local assembly votes in favour of it.
SRC: THE GUARDIAN
‘Daring Cities 2020’ conference
- Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will be among the five urban leaders from around the world to speak at the prestigious ‘Daring Cities 2020’ conference on October 7.
- The conference is being hosted by the ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) and the City of Bonn, Germany, with the support of the German government.
- ‘Daring Cities’ is a global forum on climate change for urban leaders tackling climate emergency, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The distinguished urban and sub-national leaders from Latin America, Africa, North America, and Asia will also present their thoughts
- on the most essential changes that should be achieved in their respective city/region in the next five years so that their plans to tackle climate emergencies are accelerated.
SRC : THE HINDU
Section 29 of POCSO Act applicable only after trial begins
- The Delhi High Court has ruled that the presumption of guilt engrafted in Section 29 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act
- gets triggered and applies only once trial begins, that is after charges are framed against the accused.
- Section 29 of the POCSO Act says that when a person is prosecuted for committing an offence of sexual assault against a minor, the special court trying the case “shall presume” the accused to be guilty.
- This reverse burden on the accused to prove his innocence was incorporated in the POCSO Act keeping in view the low conviction rate of sexual offences against children.
- The question of whether the presumption of guilt applies only at the stage of trial or does it also apply when a bail plea is being considered cropped up while hearing the bail plea of a 24-year-old man arrested for alleged sexual assault of a minor.
Amazon near tipping point of switching from rainforest to savannah
- Much of the Amazon could be on the verge of losing its distinct nature and switching from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savannah with far fewer trees as a result of the climate crisis, researchers have warned.
- Rainforests are highly sensitive to changes in rainfall and moisture levels, and fires and prolonged droughts can result in areas losing trees and shifting to a savannah-like mix of woodland and grassland.
- As much as 40% of the existing Amazon rainforest is now at a point where it could exist as a savannah instead of as rainforest.
- Any shift from rainforest to savannah would still take decades to take full effect, but once under way the process is hard to reverse.
- Rainforests support a vastly greater range of species than savannah and play a much greater role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Parts of the Amazon are receiving much less rain than they used to because of the changing climate.
- Forests create their own rain because leaves give off water vapour and this falls as rain further downwind.
- Rainfall means fewer fires leading to even more forests.
- But if large areas of rainforest are lost, rainfall levels in the region decline accordingly.
- This reduced level of “atmospheric moisture recycling” was simulated in the computer models used in the study.
- Drier conditions make it harder for the forest to recover and increase the flammability of the ecosystem.
India, South Africa ask WTO to waive IP obligations
- To ensure adequate production, availability and distribution of crucial medicines and vaccines globally during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic,
- India and South Africa have asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to provide members with a waiver from intellectual property obligations
- under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for a limited period.
- The waiver should continue until widespread vaccination is in place globally, and the majority of the world’s population has developed immunity.
- The TRIPS agreement is the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property providing a wide range of protection including patents, trademark, copyright, geographical indication, industrial designs.
- Although during emergencies the TRIPS Agreement provides flexibilities such as allowing countries to issue compulsory licences to generic producers to manufacture patented drugs, the joint paper pointed out that the processes were difficult for many countries to follow.
- Some WTO members had carried out urgent legal amendments to their national patent laws to expedite the process of issuing compulsory licenses.
- Effective response to Covid-19 pandemic requires rapid access to affordable medical products including
- diagnostic kits, medical masks, other personal protective equipment and ventilators, as well as vaccines and medicines for the prevention and treatment of patients in dire need,
- a waiver from IP obligations could help achieve that.
- Ministry of Electronics and Information technology ( MEITY) and NITI Aayog are organising the Mega Virtual Summit AI, RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020,’ from October 5-9, 2020.
- The summit, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, will witness participation from global experts in the field.
- The aim of the summit is to kick-start discussion on the creation of robust AI-powered public infrastructure that benefits all,
- not just in India but across the world.
- India, one of the founding members of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence,
- aims to implement AI-based solutions not just domestically but in countries around the world
- so that these lead to widespread social empowerment and prosperity.
- Over the course of the five-day summit, several leading AI experts from across the world will deliberate over topics of vital importance like
- strategies for using AI for social benefit, the importance of creating reliable AI infrastructure and the transformative effect of AI in empowering communities.
About RAISE 2020:
- RAISE 2020 is a first-of-its-kind global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence to drive India’s vision and roadmap for social transformation, inclusion and empowerment through responsible AI.
- Organized by Government of India along with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and NITI Aayog,the event will witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives and academia.