Why in News?
- National Informatics Centre (NIC), MeitY along with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Ministry of Education is jointly launching CollabCAD Software.
What is it?
- A collaborative network, computer-enabled software system, providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design for students and faculty of Engineering Graphics Curriculum.
- National Informatics Centre (NIC), CBSE, and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog will also jointly release a comprehensive e-book on CollabCAD 3D modeling.
- This e-book 1.0 is ready for public release through the CollabCAD portal and will guide CAD students, beginners, and professionals in understanding and using CollabCAD Software.
- This initiative aims to provide a great platform to students across the country to create and modify 3D digital designs with a free flow of creativity and imagination.
- This software would also enable students to collaborate over designs across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.
- CollabCAD software will be used for Practical assignments as part of the subject curriculum for making different types of 3D designs and 2D Drawings.
- NIC and CBSE will be signing an MOU for ‘CollabCAD Software Support and Training for Students and Faculty of Engineering Graphics in CBSE affiliated Schools’ for a period of 10 (ten) years.
- This MOU aims to develop human resources and skills around CollabCAD software and popularize CollabCAD among the students and faculty.
Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA) ‘Tejas’
Why in News?
- The Cabinet met under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister has approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircrafts and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircrafts along with Design and Development of Infrastructure sanctions worth Rs.1,202 Crore.
- Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft.
- This aircraft is equipped with critical operational capabilities of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite and Air to Air Refuelling (AAR).
- It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircrafts with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme.
- The Cabinet has also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable them handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission critical systems and would lead to increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation.
- This would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.
MoU between India and UAE
Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Scientific and Technical Cooperation between National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) India.
- The MoU provides for sharing of knowledge, data and operational products for meteorological, seismological and oceanic services, such as Radar, Satellite, Tide gauges, seismic and Meteorological stations.
- Exchange of experience/visits in term of scientists, research scholars and specialists, etc. for the purpose of research, training, consultation, focused on climatic information services, satellite data utilization for now casting and tropical cyclones forecasting.
- Exchange of scientific and technical information related to common interest activities.
- Organization of bilateral scientific and technical seminars/ workshops/ conferences and training courses on problems related to the fields of cooperation mentioned in the MoU and of interest to both countries.
- Other fields of cooperation as may be mutually agreed upon by the parties.
- Deployment of Meteorological observation networks on mutual agreement over Ocean waters.
- Cooperation in the development of special capacities of Tsunami models researches for faster and more reliable forecasts of Tsunamis propagating through the Oman Sea and Arabian Sea which affect the coastal areas of India and North East of UAE.
- Cooperation to support the Tsunami Early Warning Centre (TEWC) in the form of forecast modelling software, specifically designed to support the Tsunami forecasting operations.
- Sharing the real-time seismic data of some of Seismic stations situated in south and west of India and North of the UAE for monitoring the seismic activities which may generate Tsunami in Arabian Sea and Sea of Oman.
- Cooperate at the field of Seismology which includes the study of Seismic activities having the potential to generate Tsunami waves in Arabian Sea and Oman Sea.
- Cooperation in Early warnings of Sand and Dust storms through the exchange of knowledge.
Promotion of Millet Products
Why in News?
- The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in association with Andhra Pradesh Drought Mitigation Project (APDMP), an externally aided project funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), organized a Virtual Buyer Seller Meet with Millet Exporters and FPOs of Millet for establishing marketing linkages.
- Considering the potential of increasing exports of Millets and Millet products and the focus given by Government for development of Millet sector of Nurti Cereals,
- APEDA is closely interacting with Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR) and other stakeholders
- Like National Institute Nutrition, CFTRI and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)
- For perspective planning of five years for promotion of Millets and Millet products.
- This platform has provided an opportunity to the exporters and FPOs to interact with each other for supply and sourcing of products.
- Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals, and includes Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Ragi, Small Millet, Foxtail Millet, Proso Millet, Barnyard Millet, Kodo Millet and other millets.
- Millets are the cereal crops generally small-seeded and known for high nutritive value.
New Education Policy- 2020
Why in News?
- Union Education Minister reviewed implementation of New Education Policy- 2020 with the senior officials of the ministry
- The constitution of a Task Force for coordinating of NEP implementation between higher education and school education departments of the Ministry of Education to facilitate the smooth transition of students from school education to higher education.
- The Minister suggested that a Review Committee and an Implementation Committee headed by Secretary, Higher Education be formed to ensure speedy implementation of NEP.
- The need for shifting the focus from package culture to patent culture.
- The National Education Technology Forum (NETF) and National Research Foundation (NRF) are critical for the success of policy so they should be established in the year 2021-2022.
- Linkages between the industry and academia for better results.
Textbook Reforms Meet
Why in News?
- At its meeting on textbook reforms, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education heard presentations from right-wing organisations and educationists, including the man at the centre of a debate on the “saffronisation” of textbooks under the Vajpayee government.
- They argued that Mughal history is being whitewashed in Indian textbooks, and crowding out space for history from the Vedic era.
Agenda for Meeting
- The panel’s agenda for the meeting was to remove “references to un-historical facts and distortions about our national heroes”, to ensure “equal or proportionate references to all periods of Indian history” and to highlight the role of great women in Indian history.
From 1999 to 2004
- Rajput was director of the body responsible for drafting school textbooks and setting the national curricular framework, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
- During his tenure, he spearheaded a process of controversial textbook revision, which critics have slammed as a communalisation of Indian history.
- Both Mr. Rajput and Mr. Saran argued that the amount of space given to the Mughal era versus the reign of Hindu kings needed to be balanced.
- They argued that Indian history was falsely written as though foreign rule existed only for 200 years of the British raj, without taking into account the 1,000 years before that. The Mughal era had been whitewashed, and their role as invaders had been muted.
- There was need for children to be taught “Indian Culture” from Vedic era onwards.
- The influence of Marxist historians on the Indian textbooks needed to be corrected.
NCERT revising textbooks
- NCERT is currently in the process of revising textbooks, and is likely to complete the process by 2024. Some members of the committee suggested that it should be speeded up to 2022 instead.
Green Energy Cities
What is it & Why in News?
- All the 33 district headquarters and select cities in Rajasthan will be developed as “green energy cities” with the emphasis on promoting the renewable energy sector.
- The State would make a significant contribution to the achievement of the target set for producing 450 gigawatts by 2030.
- “Rajasthan will install 30,000 MW power production capacity through solar energy by 2024-25.”
- The renewable energy policies of 2019 had provided concessions to the investors and facilities such as electric vehicle charging stations, conversion of agricultural pumps into solar ones, storage technology for renewable energy and replacement of wind turbines with new ones.
- The State government was encouraging the installation of rooftop solar system in the cities and installation of solar energy plants on barren lands in the rural areas.
- The solar projects for installation of reservoir panels on the irrigation canals would also be encouraged.
Special Marriage Act
Why in News?
- In a significant judgment affecting inter-faith couples seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the Allahabad High Court has ruled that it would be optional and not mandatory for them to publish a notice about their intended marriage.
- The provision for mandatory publication of notice, derived through “simplistic reading” of the particular law, “would invade in the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy, including within its sphere freedom to choose for marriage without interference from state and non-state actors, of the persons concerned”.
- High Court mandated that while giving notice under Section 5 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 it shall be optional for the parties to the intended marriage to make a request in writing to the marriage officer to publish or not to publish a notice under Section 6 and follow the procedure of objections as prescribed under the Act.
‘Requirement of publication of notice directory’
- “In case they do not make such a request for publication of notice in writing, while giving notice under Section 5 of the Act, the Marriage Officer shall not publish any such notice or entertain objections to the intended marriage and proceed with the solemnisation of the marriage”.
- The requirement of publication of notice under Section 6 and inviting or entertaining objections under Section 7 can only be read as directory in nature, to be given effect only on request of parties to the intended marriage and not otherwise.
- The interpretation of Sections containing the procedure of publication of notice and inviting objections to the intended marriage has to be such that would uphold the fundamental rights and not violate them.
- The court was disposing of a habeas corpus writ filed by a Muslim woman who married a Hindu man after converting to his religion and as per Hindu rituals.
- Court noted that marriages under personal laws were performed by a religious head and did not require publication of any notice or calling for objections with regard to such a marriage. However, under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 any person can object to the marriage on the ground that it violates any of the conditions of Section 4.
- However, if individuals opt for the publication of the notice of their own free will under theSpecial Marriage Act, 1954, such a publication and further procedure would not be violative of their fundamental rights.
Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific
Why in News?
- The newly declassified 2018 Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific, made public by the Trump administration, underlines how prominently what it describes as “strategic competition between the U.S. and China” set Washington’s regional policy over the past four years, as well as President Donald Trump’s mixed record in effectively addressing that challenge.
Objectives outlined in the Document
- Promoting American values throughout the region to “counterbalance” the values being promoted by China,
- Deterring China from using force or threats against U.S. allies and partners, and
- Building a credible economic response and advancing “U.S. global economic leadership” to counter China’s influence, as well as its major regional projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative.
- Trump’s inconsistent approach to many of America’s own allies and partners, particularly on the trade front, has been one major obstacle.
- One of his first acts in office was to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which would have created the world’s biggest trading bloc, without China. The agreement was later concluded without the U.S.
- The end of his term, meanwhile, saw the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement come into force, which includes Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – countries that the U.S. had hoped to align with to offer a robust economic response to China.
- The document notes China’s aims “to dissolve U.S. alliances and partnerships in the region” and “exploit vacuums and opportunities created by these diminished bonds”.
Relations with India
- Emerge as one major positive. The framework describes as one of its “desired end states” the U.S. becoming India’s “preferred partner on security issues” – a trend that the past four years has seen – as well as the two countries cooperating to counter Chinese influence in South and Southeast Asia – which, however, remains a work-in-progress.
Archaeological excavations in Tamil Nadu
Why in News?
- Encouraged by the archaeological findings in Keeladi that testified to the existence of an ancient urban Tamil civilisation, the Department of Archaeology has decided to launch excavations at seven more sites and field studies in two places.
- The Central Advisory Board for Archaeology (CABA) granted permission for the projects.
- Excavations would be carried out in Keeladi and surrounding areas in Sivaganga district, Adichanallur and surrounding areas, Sivakalai and surrounding areas and Korkai and surrounding areas in Thoothukudi district, Kodumanal in Erode district, Mayiladumparai in Krishnagiri district as well as Gangaikondacholapuram and Maligaimedu in Ariyalur district.
- One field study will be conducted to find new Stone Age sites in Krishngiri, Vellore, Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai and Salem districts.
- Another field study will be done in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts to find the Thamiraparani river civilisation.
Kolkata’s Iconic Tram
Why in News?
- The concept of converting waste into art has assumed a new meaning in Kolkata with transformation of a neglected tram depot into a cultural centre that is being planned as a counterpart of Kala Ghoda in Mumbai and the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
- Kolkata, the capital of British India until 1911, has been notorious for its neglect of heritage and it is only in recent years that awareness has been growing about preserving the past.
- The tram — which has regained importance as a mode of transport in the developed world, considering it is economical and non-polluting — has seen a rapid and steady decline in Kolkata, the only city in India where it still runs.
- After an experimental run in the early 1870s, the tram was formally introduced in Kolkata in 1880 with the setting up of Calcutta Tramways Company.
Free Power to Farm Sector
Why in News?
- The Andhra Pradesh government is initiating measures to make the nine-hour supply of power to the farm sector free of cost a permanent scheme.
- It has instructed the power utilities to focus on building a permanent and robust system for supply of free power to the agricultural connections across the State on a permanent basis, making it clear that it is ready to bear the cost required to strengthen the free power scheme.
Solar power plant
- The State has embarked on installation of a 10,000 MW solar power plant for supply of free power to the farm sector for the next 30 years.
- Plans are also afoot to implement the free power scheme through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) under which the entire amount will be deposited in the accounts of farmers who will pay it to the Discoms.
- “The DBT scheme will enable farmers to question the Discoms on the quality of the power supplied to them, thereby improving the accountability factor.
Decoding platypus DNA
- Australia’s duck-billed platypus are the perfect example of weird – they lay eggs, nurse their young ones, are toothless with webbed feet, and most interestingly, have 10 sex chromosomes.
- Belonging to an ancient group of mammals called monotremes, platypus have always confused scientists.
- Now, by mapping the complete genome of the mammal, team explains that they are a mixture of mammals, birds and reptiles and have preserved many of their ancestors’ original features which help in adapting to the environment they live in.
- One particular type of rice plant grown in Zhejiang,China was found to be resistant to the plant pathogen Burkholderia plantarii.
But how and why?
- Researchers who studied the seed of the plant found that a bacteria called Sphingomonas meloni that lived inside the seed helped the plant gain this resistance.
- The bacteria produce an acid called anthranilic acid which inhibits the pathogen thus saving the crop.
Pocket-sized DNA sequencer
- Weighing just 450gm and measuring 14cm, Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ MinION device has helped sequence DNA on the go.
- Now, using special molecular tags, a team from the University of British Columbia has reduced the error rate to less than 0.005%.
- It is applicable to any gene of interest that can be amplified…it can be very useful in any field where the combination of high-accuracy and long-range genomic information is valuable, such as cancer research, human genetics and microbiome science.
- By the late 21st century, the population facing extreme droughts could more than double – from 3% ( from 1976 to 2005) to 8% by 2099.
- The team notes that this could heighten human migration and conflict.
- The paper, based on 27 global climate-hydrological model simulations spanning 125 years, also stresses the urgent need for water resources management.
- Researchers have now found that viruses play an important role in microalgae evolution by whole-genome sequencing 107 different species of microalgae from different ecosystems.
- They compared the genomes of salt-water (marine) and fresh-water microalgae and found that the marine species contained more viral-origin genes.
- Sequences from Chlorovirus, Coccolithovirus, Pandoravirus, Marseillevirus, Tupanvirus, and other viruses were found integrated into the genomes of algal from marine environments.
Colombo Port terminal
Why in News?
- In the Srilankan government’s first admission yet of Indian involvement in developing a container terminal at the strategically coveted Colombo Port, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said 49% of the investment will come from the “Adani Group and other stakeholders”.
- President was addressing representatives of the Port’s worker unions, amid their persisting resistance to any foreign involvement in the proposed project to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT).
- While 66% of the transhipment business at the terminal is linked to India, India’s strategic interest in having a presence at the Port, located along one of the world’s shipping lanes, is no secret.
- In May 2019, the predecessor government — led by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe — signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with India and Japan for the project.
- The three countries agreed that the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) would retain 100% ownership, while a jointly-owned Terminal Operations Company — 51% stake with Sri Lanka, and 49% with India and Japan — would run the terminal.
- Two Cabinet-appointed committees were tasked with looking into the specifics of the project and negotiating the new agreement.
Pneumonia in Covid-19
Why in News?
- Bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia can spread across large regions of the lung within hours. But Covid-19 pneumonia is different.
- In pneumonia caused by bacteria and viruses like influenza, these agents can usually be controlled by antibiotics, or by the body’s immune system, within the first few days of the illness.
- The virus responsible for Covid-19, however, does not rapidly infecting large regions of the lung like other viruses. Instead, SARS-CoV-2 sets up shop in multiple small areas of the lung.
- The virus then hijacks the lungs’ own immune cells and uses them to spread across the lung over a period of many days or even weeks.
- And as the infection slowly moves across the lung, it leaves damage in its wake and continuously fuels the fever, low blood pressure and damage to the kidneys, brain, heart and other organs in patients with Covid-19.
- The severe complications of Covid-19 compared with other pneumonias might be related to the long course of disease rather than more severe disease.
- This is the first study in which scientists analysed immune cells from the lungs of Covid-19 pneumonia patients in a systematic manner and compared them to cells from patients with pneumonia from other viruses or bacteria.
- As a result of the detailed analysis, researchers identified critical targets to treat severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia and lessen its damage. The targets are the immune cells: macrophages and T cells.
- The study suggests that macrophages – cells typically charged with protecting the lung – can be infected by SARS-CoV-2 and can contribute to spreading the infection through the lung.
- The study also found reasons why the mortality among patients on a ventilator for Covid-19 was lower than patients on a ventilator due to regular pneumonia.
- An intense conflagration in the lungs (regular pneumonia) has a higher risk of death. Those with Covid-19 pneumonia are sick for a long time, but the inflammation in their lungs is not as severe as regular pneumonia.
Why in News?
- Indonesian authorities have retrieved one of two black boxes, the Flight Data Recorder, from a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 that crashed into the Java Sea recently.
What are black boxes?
- They are not actually black but high-visibility orange.
- Experts disagree how the nickname originated but it has become synonymous with the quest for answers when planes crash.
- Many historians attribute their invention to Australian scientist David Warren in the 1950s. They are mandatory. The aim is not to establish legal liability, but to identify causes and help prevent future accidents.
How have they involved?
- The earliest devices recorded limited data on wire or foil. Models like those typically found on the 1980s-designed Boeing 737-50 use magnetic tape.
- Modern ones use computer chips. The recordings are housed inside crash-survivable containers able to withstand 3,400 times the force of gravity on impact.
What is the houbara bustard?
- The houbara bustard — a large terrestrial bird found in parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa — is known to migrate in thousands to the Indian subcontinent every winter. In fact, it is similar to the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard, which is native to India.
- After breeding during the spring season, the Asian bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia.
- Some Asian houbara bustards live and breed in the southern part of their ranges including parts of Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
- According to the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), roughly 33,000 Asian houbara bustards and over 22,000 of the North African houbara bustards remain today.
- The main reasons for the decline in the species’ population are poaching, unregulated hunting and the degradation of its natural habitat.
Why is the houbara bustard hunted in Pakistan?
- Vast swathes of land in Pakistan are allocated in blocks to wealthy dignitaries from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, who arrive in the country to hunt down the birds using hunting gear and falcons every winter.
- They kill the birds for sport and also because its meat is supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
- Media coverage is not permitted at these cloak and dagger hunting expeditions, but the scale of each hunt is believed to be considerable.
Why does Pakistan allow Arab royalty to hunt the houbara bustard?
- For over four decades, the Pakistan foreign ministry has been extending yearly invitations to wealthy and powerful Arabs for hunting houbara bustards in the deserts of Balochistan and Punjab, in an attempt to strengthen the country’s diplomatic relations with Gulf nations.
- Arab hunters first started coming to Pakistan to hunt in the 1960s after the houbara population in the Arabian peninsula began to dwindle.
- Similar hunting expeditions also took place across the border in Rajasthan, where Arab royalty ruthlessly hunted the Great Indian bustard until the practice was banned in 1972 following widespread backlash.
- In Pakistan, too, the Supreme Court imposed a ban on hunting the houbara bustard in 2015. However, the ban was lifted the next year and the government continued to issue special permits to Arab royalty to hunt the birds during the winter.
- Challenging the ban, the government had argued that wealthy Arabs brought prosperity to under-developed areas surrounding the hunting fields and the ban would have a negative impact on Pakistan’s relations with Middle Eastern nations.
- Each permit allows the individual to hunt a total of 100 bustards in a designated area during a 10-day safari.
- But the Arab VIPs are known to violate the terms of the permit and kill far more bustards than agreed upon.
- In 2014, a Saudi Arabian prince and his entourage allegedly shot down 2,100 houbara bustards during a three-week hunting safari, sparking nationwide outrage.