Current Affairs Oct 7

Map reconstructing solar magnetic field from 1915 to 1965

  • Scientists may soon be able to study the future magnetic activity of the sun with the understanding of its behaviour in the past.
  • A magnetic field map corresponding to the first half of the last century has been developed recently that can immensely improve that understanding.
  • Just like in case of climate studies, astronomers need information of the behaviour of the Sun in the past to predict how it will behave in the future.
  • A critical parameter of the behaviour is the magnetic field which keeps varying and governs the long-time changes in the Sun.
  • Technology today has enabled direct observations of magnetic field, but there are no direct observations of magnetic field recorded before 1960s.
  • Recently, Indian researchers have digitised the films and photographs of the sun taken at multiple wavelengths and corresponding to the past century as recorded from the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO) of Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA).
  • Scientists from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) and IIA, used this digitised data which they called the proxy data to develop the first magnetic field map of the Sun for the period 1915-1965.
  • The map of this period corresponding to the solar cycles 15 -19 will help us understand the magnetic variability and predict changes in the Sun in the future.
  • the digital data from KoSO is unique because this is the only observatory in the globe which provides the long-term uniform observations of the Sun in terms of the location and strength of its magnetic field as well as polarity.
  •  More than 15,000 digitised images of the Sun has helped develop the magnetic field map of the period.
  • The map will also help study with precision polar reversal, a unique feature of the Sun, which occurs every 11 years and shows distinct pattern that repeats over time.



National Awards for Science & Technology Communication

  • The National Council for Science & Technology Communications (NCSTC) Division of Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology Government of India,
  • has invited nominations for National Awards 2020 for Science & Technology Communication to recognize outstanding work in communication of science and technology.
  • The awards shall be presented at New Delhi at a special ceremony on the 28th February, on National Science Day, every year.
  • The awards carrying a citation, a memento, and cash award is presented every year to an individual or an institution for outstanding contribution in the field of science and technology communication and for promoting scientific temper, which has created significant impact in the country during the last five years in 6 categories:
  • The categories are
  • outstanding efforts in science & technology communication, which carries a cash award to of Rupees five lakh,
  • science & technology communication through print media including books and magazines,
  • science & technology popularization among children,
  • translation of popular science & technology literature,
  • science & technology communication through innovative and traditional methods,
  • science & technology communication in electronic medium with the last 5 categories having a cash amount of Rupees 2 lakhs each.
  • The awards are conferred annually and are open to all Indian citizens above 35 years of age as well as to institutions registered in India or created by the Central/ State governments/ Union Territories recommended in writing by a competent authority.


LEDs emitting high-quality white light

  • Colour quality is a key challenge faced in producing white Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) as a general light source.
  • Scientists in their search for methods to produce high-quality white light have unearthed crucial reaction insights that can help design white LEDs.
  • Scientists at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), found that though nanocrystals of inorganic chemicals caesium lead halide show the promise of white light emission, a very odd behaviour of the nanocrystals prevented them from keeping that promise.
  • The capability of white light emission rests in the fact that the emission from these crystals can be easily tuned over the entire visible spectrum by varying their halide compositions.
  • However, they failed to emit white light due to an interparticle mixing between the nanocrystals that resulted in a single emission.
  • White light needs the presence of red, green and blue spectra of light.
  • So, once the crystals give a single emission, they miss the chance of creation of white light.
  • The team of researchers found that halide ions of the crystals migrate from one particle to another even at room temperature and form an alloy of nanocrystals, which yield a single emission.
  • The understanding of this reaction kinetics will help in developing strategies to prevent interparticle mixing, and the team is pursuing research to create LED that produce good quality white light.

2020 Nobel prize in Physics

  • The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
  • With this award Professor Andrea Ghez becomes the fourth woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics after Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert-Meyer (1963) and Donna Strickland (2018).

What was Roger Penrose’s contribution?

  • Roger Penrose has been awarded the prize because of his theoretical work which showed that black holes can form and exist as solutions of Einstein’s field equations.
  • Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity on November 18, 1915.
  • Soon after that (January 13, 1916) German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild found a solution to these equations that showed a singularity – a point where physical quantities take infinitely large or infinitesimally small values and therefore are not realisable physically.
  • For a long time this was a bit of an embarrassment to Einstein as it appeared his equations had unphysical solutions and may not be correct.
  • In 1939, Robert Oppenheimer and his student Hartland Snyder came up with a paper where they identified and interpreted Schwarzschild’s result as a horizon beyond which the star closes off and can only be felt by its gravitational field.
  • However, Einstein did not agree with this yet.
  • Around the mid-1960s strange phenomena were being discovered experimentally by astrophysicists that led John Wheeler to reconsider the physics of gravitational collapse.
  • He suggested to Roger Penrose to revisit this concept.
  • Using novel mathematics and topology he built up the mechanism by which such a collapse can occur and a black hole can form.
  • This was the theoretical discovery that made “black hole” an accepted concept in physics.
  • The name was first used by American physicist Robert Dicke in 1960, it was popularised by John Wheeler.

What was the work done by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez?

  • Two independent groups of observational astrophysicists let by Prof Genzel and Prof Ghez respectively have been monitoring the centre of the Milky Way for nearly three decades.
  • They were studying the compact radio source Sagittarius A* near the galaxy’s centre which we now know to be a Supermassive Black hole. Saggittarius A* is 25,000 light years away.
  • The working hypothesis was this: The stars around the galactic centre appeared to be moving in orbits around some source.
  • If this source was pointlike, they will move in Keplerian orbits – that is orbits similar to what planets like earth mars etc have around their stars.
  • If the mass at the centre was spread out among many objects, the stars orbiting them will not have perfect keplerian orbits.
  • Just imagine their challenging experiment from this great distance of 25,000 light years.
  • They have to identify and track individual stars and not be distracted by interstellar dust.
  • Yet they managed to keep tracking the stars using near infrared light telescopes and successfully proved that the mass was indeed concentrated at a centre – Sagittarius A*.
  • They spotted stars which the teams named S2 and So2 which orbited Sagittarius A* in 16 years, taking elliptical orbit.
  • The interpretation of this was that Sagittarius A* is indeed a supermassive black hole.
  • The imaging of the black hole silhouette by the Event Horizon Telescope further establishes the existence of supermassive black holes, thereby validating the prize this year.


Centre to fix jurisdiction of river boards

  • The Centre will determine the jurisdictions of the Krishna and Godavari river management boards (KRMB and GRMB).
  • Union Water Resources Minister was speaking after convening an apex council meeting involving the Centre, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the second since 2016.
  • The meeting is primarily to resolve the conflict between the two States over executing irrigation projects and sharing water from the Krishna and Godavari rivers.
  • The headquarters of the KRMB would be located in Andhra Pradesh.
  • With regards to sharing of river waters, the Telangana Chief Minister agreed to withdraw the case filed in Supreme Court, to allow the Centre to refer water sharing issues to the Krishna Godavari tribunal.
  • Regarding the sharing of Godavari waters, both the States were asked to send in their requests to the Centre so that it could refer them to the tribunal, a statement from the Water Resources Ministry said.
  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao had taken tough stands on projects such as the Rayalaseema lift irrigation scheme and enhancement of the carrying capacity of the Pothireddypadu head regulator.

US imposes new curbs on H-1B visas

  • The Trump administration has announced new restrictions on H-1B non-immigrant visa programme which it said is aimed
  • at protecting American workers, restoring integrity and
  • to better guarantee that H-1B petitions are approved only for qualified beneficiaries and petitioners, a
  •  move which is likely to affect thousands of Indian IT professionals.
  • It will also require companies to make real offers to real employees, by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American workers.
  • And finally, the new rules would enhance the department’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during and after an H1-B petition is approved.
  • The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
  • The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
  • Such a decision by the Trump administration is likely to have an adverse impact on thousands of Indian IT professionals.
  • Already a large number of Indians on the H-1B visas have lost their jobs and are headed back home during the coronavirus pandemic that has severely hit the US economy.
  • The interim final rule to be published in Federal Register will be effective in 60 days.
  • According to the Department of Homeland Security, the H-1B programme was intended to allow employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain competitive in the global economy, however, it has now expanded far beyond that, often to the detriment of US workers.
  • Data shows that more than half-a-million H-1B nonimmigrants in the United States have been used to displace US workers, which has led to reduced wages in a number of industries in the US labour market and the stagnation of wages in certain occupations.


Delhi’s air quality drops to poor category

  • The air quality of the city recently dropped to “poor” category for the first time this season, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
  • The Air Quality Index (AQI) was 217 at 12 pm.
  • But this is the real time value and the not average of 24 hours, which is released at 4 pm every day by the CPCB and treated as the official figure.
  • An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

Operationalisation of Strategic Sittwe Port

  • Recently during the visit of the Indian army chief and foreign secretary to Myanmar, the two countries on agreed to work towards operationalising the Sittwe port in the first quarter of 2021.
  • The last time that India’s foreign secretary and army chief had travelled together was to Bhutan in 2018.
  • The ongoing India-assisted infrastructure projects such as the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project and trilateral highway were part of the bilateral discussions.
  • In 2010, India began work on the mega infrastructure project in Myanmar, which had several components.
  • This project would not only link India’s north east to the southeast region, but also allow for goods to be transported from Kolkata to Sittwe and then onwards by river and roads to Mizoram.
  • One of the key aspects was the construction of an integrated port and Inland Waterway Transport terminal at Sittwe, which was completed in 2018.
  • India had even signed an agreement with Myanmar government for operationalising the port in October 2018.
  • However, conflict between the insurgent group Arakan Army and the Myanmar military had impacted the operationalisation.
  • Last year, the Arakan Army had specifically targeted the Kaladan project, abducting Indian workers and officials.
  • In early 2019, Indian and Myanmar military had conducted a “coordinated operation” to avert an alleged threat from Arakan Army against the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project.
  • The last leg of the Kaladan project is a road from Chin state’s Paletwa in Myanmar to Mizoram, which is still under construction.
  • However, with the major part of the Kaladan project going through Rakhine province, India’s development assistance was largely concentrated in the volatile state.
  • It is also part of India’s policy to walk a balanced path between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.
  • Bangladesh has been pushing for an early repatriation of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who had fled from the security operations of the Myanmar military in 2017.
  • However, since the repatriation has to be voluntary, it has been difficult to convince Rohingya refugees to return to their former villages and towns.
  • Emphasis on socio-economic development
  • India’s strategy has been to emphasise the socio-economic development of Rakhine province, so that there is enough economic incentive for the refugees to return and to ameliorate the ethnic conflict.
  • In December 2017, India and Myanmar entered a Memorandum of Understanding on the Rakhine State Development Programme
  • Both sides noted the considerable progress made under the Rakhine State Development Programme (RSDP) and proposed finalizing projects under Phase-III of the Programme, including setting up of a skills training center.
  • As part of diplomatic efforts to help Myanmar contain COVID-19, India handed over 3,000 vials of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir to Aung San Suu Kyi.


Covid-19 management protocol based on Ayurveda, Yoga

  • Union health minister released a protocol for the clinical management of Covid-19, that lists dietary measures, yoga and Ayurvedic herbs and formulations such as
  • Ashwagandha and AYUSH-64 for prevention of coronavirus infection and treatment of mild and asymptomatic cases.
  • This protocol dealing with preventive and prophylactic measures is a significant step not only in management of Covid-19 but also in making traditional knowledge relevant to solving problems of the modern time.
  • The current understanding indicates a good immune system is vital for prevention of coronavirus infection and to safeguard from disease progression.
  • The protocol suggests use of medicines such as Ashwagandha, Guduchi Ghana Vati or Chyawanaprasha as prophylactic care for high risk population and primary contacts of patients.
  • The protocol also mentions the dose of these medicines that is to be taken.
  • The guidelines stated that in addition to these medicines, general and dietary measures have to be followed.
  • The document also listed Ashwagandha, Chyawanprasha or Rasayana Churna for post-Covid-19 management in order to prevent lung complications like fibrosis, fatigue and mental health.
  • Further, to improve respiratory and cardiac efficiency, to reduce stress and anxiety and enhance immunity, the ministry has listed Yoga Protocol for Primary Prevention of Covid-19.
  • Yoga Protocol for Post Covid-19 care (including care for Covid-19 patients) in order to improve pulmonary function and lung capacity, reduce stress and anxiety and improve muco-ciliary clearance.
  • Gargling with warm water added with a pinch of turmeric and salt, nasal instillation/application of medicated oil (Anu taila or Shadbindu taila), plain oil or cow’s ghee once or twice a day,
  • especially before going out and after coming back home, steam inhalation with Ajwain, Pudina or Eucalyptus oil once a day, moderate physical exercises and following Yoga protocol as general measures.
  • Three aspects — knowledge from Ayurveda classics and experience from clinical practices, empirical evidences and biological plausibility and emerging trends of ongoing clinical studies — were considered while preparing this protocol.



RBI monetary panel

  • The government has finally appointed three economists — PMEAC member Ashima Goyal, NCAER’s Shashanka Bhide and IIM-Ahmedabad professor Jayanth Varma — as new members of the RBI’s monetary policy committee (MPC) to decide on interest rates.
  • The central bank, which was forced to postpone the meeting in the absence of three external members, will announce fresh dates for the MPC meeting over the next few days.
  • The panel is chaired by RBI governor Shaktikanta Das.
  • The new members nominated have been given a four-year term.
  • While the task of the MPC is merely
  • to fix interest rates to keep inflation under check,
  • this policy was crucial as it has to do deal with unprecedented challenges,
  • which include inflation triggered by supply-side constraints,
  • a record fiscal deficit, an oversized government-borrowing programme, and uncertainty over how the deficit will be bridged.



Last Month Warmest September On Record Globally

  • Earth’s surface was warmer last month than during any September on record, the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme said.
  • This year has now seen three months of record warmth — January, May and September — with June and April virtually tied for first, the Copernicus Climate Change Service reported.
  • For the 12-month period through September, the planet was nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That is alarmingly close to the 1.5 degrees C threshold for severe impacts detailed in a major 2018 report by the UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC.
  • The Paris Agreement has enjoined nations to cap global warming at “well below” 2 degrees C, and 1.5 degrees C if feasible.
  • So far, Earth has warmed on average by one degree, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heatwaves, droughts and tropical storms made more destructive by rising seas. Climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels has picked up pace in recent decades.
  • Nineteen of the 20 last years are the warmest since accurate readings began in the late 19th century.
  • Since the late 1970s, the global thermometer has crept up 0.2 degrees C every decade, according to EU data.
  • September was warmer by 0.05 degrees C than September 2019, the previous warmest September.
  • Last month’s global record for heat was all the more remarkable because of the regional cooling effect of a naturally occurring La Nina weather event over the tropical Pacific.
  • Arctic sea ice, meanwhile, shrank to its second lowest extent last month, since satellite records began in 1978.
  • Climate change has also disrupted regional weather patterns, resulting in more sunshine beating down on the Greenland ice sheet, which is melting — and shedding mass into the ocean — more quickly than at any time in the last 12,000 years.



  • The Quadrilateral Initiative – informally named the Quad – first began in May 2007 with a meeting between the US, Japan, India and Australia in the Philippine capital Manila.
  • The informal grouping, championed by Japan’s then prime minister Shinzo Abe, was viewed by analysts as an attempt to step up co-operation in the face of a rapidly rising China.
  • However when Beijing sent formal protests about the Quad, its members said their “strategic partnership” was only aimed at maintaining regional security and was not targeting any particular country.
  • The Quad group then lost momentum and was only revived again a few years ago.
  • Latest meeting comes at a time when the US, India and Australia have all seen growing tensions in their relations with China.
  • Since 2018, the US and China have been locked in a bitter trade war and in recent months they have clashed over multiple issues including espionage arrests, the coronavirus pandemic and revoked Chinese student visas.
  • Australian ties with China have also been deteriorating.
  • And there have been growing tensions between Beijing and Delhi too along their disputed border in the Himalayan region.
  • Fighting in June saw the first fatal confrontation between the two sides since 1975.


Translational Health Science And Technology Institute (THSTI)

  • An autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology, has now been recognized by CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations ) as one of the Global network of Laboratories for centralized assessment of COVID 19 Vaccines.
  •  The CEPI network will initially involve six labs, one each in Canada, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and India.
    • Under the CEPI Global network the Laboratory will use the same reagents and follow a common set of protocols to measure the immune response of multiple vaccine candidates under development and trial.
  • This will greatly harmonize the Vaccine trial process and allow different vaccine candidates to be compared and speed up the selection of the most effective candidate.
  • The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology,  has been implementing the IndCEPI mission ‘India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development’.
  • The objectives of this mission are aligned with the Global Initiative of Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness for Innovation (CEPI ) and
  • aims to strengthen the development of vaccines and associated competencies/technologies for the diseases of epidemic potential in India.


India, Japan finalise text of cybersecurity pact

  • India and Japan welcomed the finalisation of the text of a cybersecurity agreement that will promote cooperation in key areas such as 5G network and Artificial Intelligence.
  • The announcement on the agreement followed the 13th India-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu in Tokyo.
  • The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others.

 Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • Minimum support price (MSP) is a “minimum price” for any crop that the government considers as remunerative for farmers and hence deserving of “support”.
  • It is also the price that government agencies pay whenever they procure the particular crop.
  • The Centre currently fixes MSPs for 23 farm commodities — 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, bajra, jowar, ragi and barley), 5 pulses (chana, arhar/tur, urad, moong and masur), 7 oilseeds (rapeseed-mustard, groundnut, soyabean, sunflower, sesamum, safflower and nigerseed) and 4 commercial crops (cotton, sugarcane, copra and raw jute).

Nobel chemistry prize 

  • Two women have been awarded the 2020 Nobel prize in chemistry for the discovery of the CRISPR genetic scissors used to edit the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision.
  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna will share the 10m Swedish kronor (£870,000) prize announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm – the first time that two women have shared the prize.
  • The researchers won the prize for “for the development of a method for genome editing”.

2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.
  • Using components of the CRISPR system, researchers can add, remove, or even alter specific DNA sequences. 
  • This technology has introduced new opportunities in cancer therapies, curing inherited diseases and also in plant inbreeding.

How did the researchers develop the scissors?

  • Emmanuelle Charpentier who was studying a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, noticed a previously unknown molecule called tracrRNA. 
  • Further studies revealed that this tracrRNA was part of the bacteria’s immune system and it helps the bacteria destroy viral DNA. 
  • She published this discovery in 2011.
  • The same year, along with Jennifer Doudnathey, she succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s scissors and reprogramming it. 
  • Charpentier and Doudna then proved that they can now use these scissors to cut any DNA molecule at a required site.

Why the name CRISPR/Cas?

  • CRISPR is an abbreviation for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.
  • These sequences are a part of the bacteria’s immune system. 
  • Bacteria that have survived a virus infection add a piece of the genetic code of the virus into its genome as a memory of the infection. 
  • In addition to these CRISPR sequences, researchers discovered special genes called CRISPR-associated, abbreviated as cas.

What was the controversy on CRISPR-Cas9 technology?

  • In 2018, a geneticist from China, He Jiankui claimed that he altered the genes of twin girls born this month to create the first gene-edited babies. 
  • He said that he used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to edit the genes of twin girls. The editing process, which he calls gene surgery, “worked safely as intended” and the girls are “as healthy as any other babies”.


SMART test

  • Recently, India successfully conducted the flight test of a Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

What is SMART system?

  • Torpedoes, self-propelled weapons that travel underwater to hit a target, are limited by their range. In the mid-2010s, DRDO undertook a project to build capacity to launch torpedoes assisted by missiles; recent test was the first known flight test of the system.
  • This SMART system comprises a mechanism by which the torpedo is launched from a supersonic missile system with modifications that would take the torpedo to a far longer range than its own. 
  • For example, a torpedo with a range of a few kilometres can be sent a distance to the tune of 1000 km by the missile system from where the torpedo is launched.
  • A number of DRDO laboratories including Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI), both in Hyderabad; 
  • Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) in Agra; and 
  • Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL) Visakhapatnam have developed the technologies required for SMART.

What happened at the test?

  • It was conducted from Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha.
  •  An anti-submarine torpedo of the lightweight category was used.
  • The test follows another crucial test two days ago of the nuclear-capable Shaurya missile. Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine-launched K-15 missile.

Why is it significant?

  • SMART is a game-changing technology demonstration in anti-submarine warfare. India’s anti-submarine warfare capacity building is crucial in light of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • The Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability got a boost in June after the conclusion of a contract for Advanced Torpedo Decoy System Maareech, capable of being fired from all frontline warships. 
  • The capability of launching nuclear weapons from submarine platforms has great strategic importance in light of the “no first use” policy of India. 
  • These submarines can not only survive a first strike by an adversary but also can launch a strike in retaliation. 
  • The nuclear-powered Arihant submarine and its class members in the pipeline are assets capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads.



 Keto Diet

  • Actor Mishti Mukherjee, 27, who had worked in Bangla, Telugu and some Hindi films, died on October 2 in a hospital in Bengaluru. 
  • Her family said Mukherjee suffered from kidney failure as she had been following a ketogenic diet.

What is a ketogenic, or ‘keto’ diet, and when can it turn unhealthy?

  • The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular weight loss diets the world over. 
  • It is a high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carb diet that helps in weight loss by achieving ketosis — a metabolic state where the liver burns body fat and provides fuel for the body, as there is limited access to glucose.

What constitutes a keto diet?

  • A classic keto requires that 90 per cent of a person’s calories come from fat, six per cent from protein and four per cent from carbs. 
  • But there are many versions doing the round, since this one was designed for children suffering from epilepsy to gain control over their seizures. 
  • Typically, popular ketogenic diets suggest an average of 70-80 per cent fat, 5-10 per cent carbohydrate, and 10-20 per cent protein.
  • Many versions of ketogenic diets exist, but all ban carb-rich foods. 

What are the food items that make the diet?

  • One can have eggs, chicken and turkey in poultry, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, full-fat dairy, nuts and seeds like Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and flaxseeds.
  • There is also nut butter like natural peanut, almond and cashew butters. 
  • It also consists of healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut butter and sesame oil. 
  • There are Avocados, and non-starchy vegetables like the greens, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers.

How does keto impact the body?

  • If we starve the body of carbohydrate, after burning out the glucose, the liver starts breaking down fats for energy. 
  • Ketosis is common in all kinds of fasting, but in a keto diet, when one is feeding it by giving a lot of fats from outside without carbs, it can become mildly toxic.
  • It may lead to many nutrient deficiencies such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin A, D, E, & K) and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, sodium. 
  • These are essential food groups, and their absence in the diet can be the cause of numerous deficiency diseases.
  • Extreme carbohydrate restriction can lead to hunger, fatigue, low mood, irritability, constipation, headaches, and brain fog, which may last days to weeks.

What impact does it have on our kidneys?

  • Even the moderate increase in protein needs to be carefully monitored, especially in those who are already suffering from a chronic kidney disease, as it could lead to kidney failure.
  • This diet could lead to increased stress on the kidneys and result in kidney stones, as they are made to work overtime.

How did the Keto diet become popular?

  • Keto had become popular as a therapy for pediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and 30s. 
  • But it gained considerable attention as a potential weight loss strategy when the low-carb diet craze started in the 1970s with the Atkins diet (a very low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, which was a commercial success and popularised low-carb diets to a new level).

Why is it so popular? 

  • Because it has turned out to be one of the quickest ways of losing weight. 
  • In the first few days after starting the diet, one experiences a significant loss of water weight, and to the average person, the diet appears to be working.


Air pollution particles in young brains linked to Alzheimer’s damage

  • Tiny air pollution particles have been revealed in the brain stems of young people and are intimately associated with molecular damage linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • If the groundbreaking discovery is confirmed by future research, it would have worldwide implications because 90% of the global population live with unsafe air. 
  • While the nanoparticles are a likely cause of the damage, whether this leads to disease later in life remains to be seen.
  • Higher exposure to air pollution increases rates of neurodegenerative diseases, but the significance of the new study is that it shows a possible physical mechanism by which the damage is done.
  • The nanoparticles were closely associated with abnormal proteins that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease. 
  • The research found the nanoparticles in the substantia nigra, a key brain area in Parkinson’s disease. 
  •  Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.
  • Air pollution is linked to many adverse health conditions and a growing body of evidence suggests this includes our risk of developing dementia. 
  • Proteins do build up in the brain years before we see visible dementia symptoms, but more research is needed before we can suggest air pollution drives brain changes associated with disease in children.


14 million tonnes of microplastics on sea floor

  • The world’s sea floor is littered with an estimated 14 million tonnes of microplastics, broken down from the masses of rubbish entering the oceans every year, according to Australia’s national science agency.
  • The quantity of the tiny pollutants was 25 times greater than previous localised studies had shown, calling it the first global estimate of sea-floor microplastics.
  • Researchers at the agency, known as CSIRO, used a robotic submarine to collect samples from sites up to 3,000 metres deep, off the South Australian coast.

What are microplastics?

  • Microplastics are small pieces of plastic 5mm wide or less, that mostly come from larger plastic items breaking apart into smaller pieces. Microplastics can be harmful to sealife.


ICG Vigraha

  • The seventh offshore patrol vessel of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), ‘Vigraha’ was formally unveiled at Kattupalli.

  • The vessel built by Larsen and Toubro, is the last in the series of seven OPVs contracted to the company by the Ministry of Defence in 2015. 

  • It was for the first time a private sector shipyard has undertaken the design and construction of offshore patrol vessel class of ships. 

  • It can attain a sustained speed of upto 26 knots.

  • Offshore Patrol Vessels are long range surface ships, capable of operation in maritime zones of the country including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities.

  • Some of the roles undertaken by the OPVs include coastal and offshore patrol, policing maritime zones of the country, surveillance, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations.

  • Larsen and Toubro has already designed and built ICGS ‘Vikram’, ICGS ‘Vijaya’ ICGS ‘Veera’, ICGS ‘Varaha’, ICGS ‘Varad’, ICGS ‘Vajra’. 


PARAM Siddhi – AI

  • NVIDIA said that the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) will commission India’s largest HPC-AI supercomputer, ‘PARAM Siddhi – AI’.
  • This initiative will put India among the top countries in global AI supercomputing research and innovation.
  • The initiative has been spearheaded by Abhishek Das, Scientist and Program Director (HPC-AI Infrastructure Development) at C-DAC, who conceived the idea and designed the architecture for the largest HPC-AI infrastructure in India.
  • The supercomputer will have 210 AI Petaflops (6.5 Petaflops Peak DP) and will be based on the NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD reference architecture.
  • It will play a pivotal role in developing a vibrant ecosystem for research and innovation in science and engineering. 
  • With three decades of expertise in AI and augmenting the AI and Language Computing Mission Mode Program of C-DAC, 
  • this infrastructure will accelerate experiments and outcomes for India specific grand challenge problems in Health Care, Education, Energy, Cyber Security, Space, Automotive and Agriculture. 

Novel Coronavirus Reverses The Sensation Of Pain

  • The novel coronavirus can relieve pain, according to a new study published in PAIN, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. 
  • The finding, the researchers say, may explain why so many people who get Covid-19 show few or no symptoms, although they are able to spread the disease.
  • It is well-known that SARS-CoV-2 spike protein uses the ACE2 receptor to enter the body. 
  • But in June, two papers pointed to neuropilin-1 as a second receptor for SARS-CoV-2.
  • One of the biological processes through which the body feels pain, one is through a protein named VEGF-A19. 
  • When VEGF-A binds to neuropilin, it initiates a series of events resulting in the hyper-excitability of neurons, which leads to pain.
  • The research team found that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds to neuropilin in exactly the same location as VEGF-A. 
  • The team used VEGF-A as a trigger to excite neurons, which creates pain, then they added the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
  • The spike protein completely reversed the VEGF-induced pain signalling. It didn’t matter if we used very high doses of spike or extremely low doses – it reversed the pain completely.
  • Scientist will examine neuropilin as a new target for non-opioid pain relief.
  • the researchers tested existing neuropilin inhibitors developed to suppress tumour growth in certain cancers, and found they provided the same pain relief as the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein when binding to neuropilin.

DNA barcoding

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister was apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in June, 2020 between 
  • Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), a subordinate organization under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and 
  • International Barcode of Life (iBOL), a Canadian not-for-profit corporation.
  • DNA barcoding, a methodology for rapidly and accurately identifying species by sequencing a short segment of standardized gene regions and comparing individual sequences to a reference database.  
  •  iBOL is a research alliance involving nations that have committed both human and financial resources 
  • to enable expansion of the global reference database, 
  • the development of informatics platforms, and/or 
  • the analytical protocols needed to use the reference library to inventory, assess, and describe biodiversity.  
  • The MoU will enable ZSI to participate at the Global level programmes like Bioscan and Planetary Biodiversity Mission.


 Seven Persistent Organic Pollutants

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Ratification of seven (7) chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). 
  • The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and environment from POPs, 
  • which are identified chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate in living organisms, adversely affect human health/ environment and have the property of long-range environmental transport (LRET).
  • Exposure to POPs can lead to cancer, damage to central & peripheral nervous systems, diseases of immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development. 
  • POPs are listed in various Annexes to the Stockholm Convention after thorough scientific research, deliberations and negotiations among member countries.
  • India had ratified the Stockholm Convention on January 13, 2006 as per Article 25(4), which enabled it to keep itself in a default “opt-out” position.
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had notified the ‘Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules, on March 5, 2018 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
  • The regulation inter alia prohibited the manufacture, trade, use, import and export seven chemicals namely 

(i) Chlordecone, 

(ii) Hexabromobiphenyl, 

(iii) Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa-BDE), 

(iv) Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE), 

(v) Pentachlorobenzene, 

(vi) Hexabromocyclododecane, and 

(vii) Hexachlorobutadiene, which were already listed as POPs under Stockholm Convention.

The ratification process would enable India to access Global Environment Facility (GEF) financial resources in updating the National Implementation Plan (NIP).

‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has approved ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’, taking another significant step to move towards gas based economy.
  • The objective of the policy is to prescribe standard procedure to discover market price of gas to be sold in the market by gas producers, 
  • through a transparent and competitive process, permit Affiliates to participate in bidding process for sale of gas and 
  • allow marketing freedom to certain Field Development Plans (FDPs) where Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.
  • The policy aims to provide standard procedure for sale of natural gas in a transparent and competitive manner to discover market price by issuing guidelines for sale by contractor through e-bidding. 
  • This will bring uniformity in the bidding process across the various contractual regimes and policies to avoid ambiguity and contribute towards ease of doing business.
  • The policy has also permitted Affiliate companies to participate in the bidding process in view of the open, transparent and electronic bidding. 


These reforms in gas sector will further deepen and spur the economic activities in the following areas:

  • The whole eco-system of policies relating to production, infrastructure and marketing of natural gas has been made more transparent with a focus on ease of doing business.
  • These reforms will prove very significant for Atmanirbhar Bharat by encouraging investments in the domestic production of natural gas and reducing import dependence.
  • These reforms will prove to be another milestone in moving towards a gas based economy by encouraging investments.
  • The increased gas production consumption will help in improvement of environment.
  • These reforms will also help in creating employment opportunities in the gas consuming sectors including MSMEs.
  • The domestic production will further help in increasing investment in the downstream industries such as City Gas Distribution and related industries.
  • The domestic gas production has complete marketing and pricing freedom. All discoveries and field development plans approved after 28 Feb, 2019 have complete market and pricing freedom.