National Police K-9 Journal
Why in News?
- Union home minister released the inaugural issue of “National Police K-9 Journal”.
- It is the first such publication in the country on the subject of Police Service K9s (PSKs) i.e. Police Dogs.
- This is a unique initiative which will further enrich the subjects related to Police Service Canine (K-9) (PSK) teams in the country.
- The police dog squad can act as a force multiplier to ensure the safety of society, much like the way drones or satellites are being used in the country.
- A special ‘Police K9 Cell’ was established in November 2019 under the Police Modernisation Division of the ministry of home affairs with the mandate of ‘Mainstreaming and Augmentation of Police Service K9s in the country’.
- It is a biannual journal which will be released in April and October every year.
International Film Festival of India (IFFI)
Why in News?
- 51st International Film Festival of India will open on 16th January, 2021, with the Indian premiere of the movie ‘Another Round’ by Thomas Vinterberg.
- It is Denmark’s official entry for Oscars 2020.
- The festival will also witness the World Premier of ‘Mehrunisa’. The film by Sandeep Kumar will premier mid-fest.
- The festival will close on 24th January, 2021 with the India Premier of the historical drama ‘Wife of a Spy’ by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The Japanese film bagged Silver Lion for Best Director at Venice International Film Festival.
- 51st IFFI is being organised from 16th to 24th January, 2021 in Goa. This edition is being organised in a hybrid mode for the first time and will comprise of both online and in-person experience.
- The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is reckoned as one of Asia’s oldest and India’s biggest film festival.
- Since its inception in 1952, IFFI has aimed to nurture and inspire Indian cinema and introduce it to the world outside as well as the many audiences that coexist in this vast and diverse country.
- The glorious state of Goa has hosted this esteemed festival since 2004, through the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), the nodal agency appointed by the Government.
- Although the festival itself is organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Government of India, it is done in collaboration with the State Government of Goa and the Indian Film Industry.
- IFFI is also recognized by the International Federation of Film Producer’s Association (FIAPP).
Manufacturing Sector, Mining Sector and Service Sector
Why in News?
- Pursuant to section 29 of the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, The Union Labour and Employment Ministry has sought comments and objections on the draft Model Standing Orders, which are the legally-binding documents that govern service conditions of workers, for the service, manufacturing and mining sectors.
- Keeping in view the needs of the services sector, a separate Model Standing Orders for Services Sector has been prepared first time.
The salient features of these Model Standing Orders are as follows:-
- Where Standing Orders of the Central Government with respect to matters relevant to his industrial establishment or undertaking, then, such model standing order shall be deemed to have been certified.
- The model standing orders adopted in respect of an industrial establishment shall also be applicable to all other industrial units of the industrial establishment irrespective of location.
- Uniformity has been maintained in all the three Model Standing Orders while providing some flexibility considering the sector-specific requirements.
- All the three Model Standing Orders encourage employer for use of information technology in dissemination of information to the workers through electronic mode.
- To provide safeguard to IT industry, “Involvement in unauthorized access of any IT system, computer network of the employer/ customer/client” has been prescribed as a misconduct.
- The concept of “Work from home” has been formalized in the Model Standing Orders for Service Sector.
- The Model Standing Orders for Services Sector inter alia provides that in case of IT Sector, the working hour shall be as per agreement or conditions of appointment between employer and workers.
- “Habitual” with respect to indiscipline has been defined if the worker found guilty of any misconduct three or more times in preceding twelve months.
- Rail Travel Facility has been extended to the workers in the mining sector. Presently, it is being availed by the workers in coal mines only.
Kochi – Mangaluru Natural Gas Pipeline
Why in News?
- Prime Minister will dedicate the Kochi – Mangaluru Natural Gas Pipeline to the nation on 5th January 2021.
- The event marks an important milestone towards the creation of ‘One Nation One Gas Grid’.
About the Pipeline
- The 450 km long pipeline has been built by GAIL (India) Ltd.
- It will carry natural gas from the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Regasification Terminal at Kochi (Kerala) to Mangaluru (Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka), while passing through Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts.
- Laying of the pipeline was an engineering challenge as the route of the pipeline necessitated it to cross water bodies at more than 100 locations. This was done through a special technique called Horizontal Directional Drilling method.
- The pipeline will supply environment friendly and affordable fuel in the form of Piped Natural Gas (PNG) to households and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to the transportation sector.
Why in News?
- The Nation’s first indigenously developed DNA vaccine candidate against COVID-19, ZyCoV-D, by M/s Zydus Cadila has been approved by Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), for conduct of the Phase III clinical trials.
- The candidate has been supported by the National Biopharma Mission (NBM) under the aegis of BIRAC and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
In Earlier Trials
- ZyCoV-D was found to be safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic in phase I and II clinical trials.
- The trial has reviewed by an independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) and reports were submitted to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) regularly for the update on safety outcome.
Chennai tops the world in CCTV surveillance
Why in News?
- Chennai has the maximum CCTV coverage per square kilometre and per 1,000 population among the 130 cities studied worldwide, according to a recent report published in South Asia Journal.
According to the report
- The world’s first CCTV camera was installed in Germany in 1942, and now there are nearly one billion devices.
- The report maps out how prevalent the CCTV cameras are in 130 of the world’s most populous cities.
- China and India are the countries with the highest densities of CCTV surveillance cameras in urban areas.
- Chennai, India, has 657 cameras per sq km, making it the number one city in the world in terms of surveillance.
Trans Fat Levels in Foods
Why in News?
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissible limit of 5% through an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations.
- The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydrogenated oils), margarine, bakery shortenings, and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.
What is trans-fat?
- Trans fat, or trans-fatty acids, are unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources.
- Naturally-occurring trans-fat come from ruminants (cows and sheep).
- Industrially-produced trans-fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil converting the liquid into a solid, resulting in “partially hydrogenated” oil (PHO).
- Trans fats are associated with increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease.
WHO on Trans Fat
- As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of intake of industrially produced trans fatty acids. The WHO has also called for global elimination of trans fats by 2023.
- It was in 2011 that India first passed a regulation that set a TFA limit of 10% in oils and fats, which was further reduced to 5% in 2015.
Why in News?
- From the spirit of the Ghadarites to the sacrifice of Durga ‘Bhabhi’, a section of historians and the political class feel that the contribution of revolutionaries to the Indian freedom movement has not been well-documented.
- In a bid to strike a balance, the Allahabad Museum is in the process of creating a “one of its kind” Azad Gallery, where the story of the revolutionary struggle of the Indian freedom movement would be told through artefacts and interactive displays.
Chandra Shekhar Azad Museum
- Named after Chandra Shekhar Azad, who attained martyrdom at about 300 metres from the museum, the gallery is expected to be complete by July 23, 2021, the 115th birth anniversary of the revolutionary.
- Multi-pronged project where the revolutionary struggle will be specially depicted, starting with 1857’s First War of Independence to the Azad Hind Fauj.
- Durga (Devi Vohra) ‘Bhabhi’, who assumed the identity of Bhagat Singh’s wife to help him escape from Lahore after Saunders’ assassination, grew up in Kaushambi near Allahabad before being married to revolutionary Bhagwati Charan Vohra.
- He was no less than Bhagat Singh. A day after Bhagat Singh and his associates were sentenced to death, she fired at a British police officer and his wife from a moving car in Bombay.
- She almost remained incognito till she died in 1999. She ran a small school in Lucknow.
Maulvi Liaquat Ali
- The museum also has a kurta-pyjama and sword of Maulvi Liaquat Ali, who was the leader of revolutionaries in 1857 in Allahabad. “Under him, Allahabad was liberated for at least 10-15 days. His headquarters was the historic Khusro Bagh, where he unfurled the flag of the Mughal emperor.
Tide–Rainfall Flood Quotient
Why in News?
- The C40 Cities report of 2018 notes that by 2050, over 570 low-lying coastal cities will face projected sea level rise by at least 0.5 meters, putting over 800 million people at risk from the impacts of rising seas and storm surges.
- While the inland areas can be flooded due to the heavy rainfall, the coasts are threatened by the impact of tidal surges.
Tide–Rainfall Flood Quotient
- To understand if a coastal city is more prone to floods caused by tidal events or extreme rainfall, a team from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay devised a new metric or measure called the Tide–Rainfall Flood Quotient.
- Using the past rainfall data, tidal data, and topography of the region one can apply this framework to pinpoint the major factor at play.
Selected Regions for study
- The team selected three geographically diverse flood-prone coastal regions – Mithi Catchment in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Jagatsinghpur District in Odisha, and Greater Chennai Corporation in Tamil Nadu to test their new metric.
- The new method helped classify these regions into ‘storm-tide dominated’ or ‘pluvial (rainfall) dominated’ regions.
What they Find?
- In Mithi, they found a devastating impact of storm-tide reaching even up to a distance of 7 km from the coastal boundary.
- With Jagatsinghpur, high rainfall inundated several areas in the central region and the flatness of the terrain prevented easy drainage of the flood-water into the Bay of Bengal, which further increased the flooding.
- The flood maps for Chennai showed that rainfall contributed to the flooding, especially in the northern and central regions. Though there was storm-tide in the eastern coastal region, it was in the ‘low’ hazard category.
- They concluded that Mithi catchment was ‘storm-tide dominated’, while Jagatsinghpur and Chennai were ‘pluvial dominated’.
- The metric can help disaster management experts in framing better flood risk management systems directed towards long term planning.
- For storm-tide dominated regions, severe flood hazard can be alleviated by building coastal defence structures such as closure dams, tide breakers, and storm-surge barriers at appropriate locations.
- For pluvial dominated regions, structural measures such as rainwater storage structures, lakes, and detention basins should be prioritised in the flood management plans.
India and the Race for Vaccine Development
- The COVID-19 pandemic began in January 2020.
- Italy, France and the U.S. had the novel coronavirus importation in November–December of 2019, but it had remained unrecognised until laboratory test for diagnosis became available in mid-January 2020.
- Advanced biotechnology laboratories and large-scale vaccine manufacturing facilities made India a front runner, if not the best bet, to win the vaccine race in the world outside of China.
- India had two more advantages: representation in two global initiatives– the Global Pandemic Preparedness Monitoring Board and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the latter advising the world to prepare for vaccine development.
- The Prime Minister promised to lead SAARC countries in pandemic response.
- A mammoth market for vaccines was readymade for India as SAARC countries represent 21% of world’s population. India had the capability to manufacture vaccine on a large scale.
- India’s vaccine manufacturing facilities are highly rated, globally.
- They have in-house research and development laboratories.
- However, they are concerned with research of a practical nature, for refining processes and products, rather than basic and fundamental research necessary for designing new vaccine candidates.
- Unfortunately, during January through March there was no guidance or leadership from the Government of India for vaccine development.
- The expertise of the two global initiatives was not adapted for meeting India’s needs or for asserting India’s global leadership.
- Filling the vacuum, a few private companies, on their own initiative, invested heavily in vaccine development and up-scaling of vaccine production.
- Two made-in-India vaccines are now under the national regulatory agency’s assessment for suitability for emergency use authorisation.
- China, by political decision and Russia, by temporary registration, initiated a national vaccination programme with indigenous vaccines by or before September, even before Phase 3 trials were completed.
- By the end of December 2020, thirty-three countries other than China and Russia had already started vaccinating their citizens with vaccines with proper regulatory agency approvals after they had completed very large Phase 3 trials.
- Four countries began vaccinations in the first half of December and twenty-nine countries began the process in the second half of December.
- India had the unique opportunity not only to lead the world in vaccine development and supply, but also in designing a vaccination strategy and platform for rolling out vaccine to the public.
- India’s model would have been a guide not only for SAARC countries but also for many Asian and African countries with rather weak health management systems.
- That opportunity was entirely in the hands of the government. Utilising these two opportunities, India could have partly overcome the economic downturn due to the pandemic.
- The Government of India, Science Advisory bodies, economic advisors, Academia, Medical and Science Academies and Biotechnology experts ought to do some serious introspection now, and analyse how and why India missed this opportunity, in spite of the Prime Minister’s exhortation to scientists and entrepreneurs to “Make in India” for wealth creation and prosperity.
New Anti-counterfeiting Technique
Why in News?
- A new anti-counterfeiting technique uses two dimensional (2D)-material tags along with artificial intelligence (AI)-driven authentication software, and promises to deliver faster, more accurate results even under extreme conditions.
- The new method called ‘DeepKey’ was developed by an international team of researchers, led by the National University of Singapore (NUS).
- The 2D-material secure tags have randomly generated ‘Physically Unclonable Function’ (PUF) patterns, which can be categorised and validated by a deep learning model.
- The authentication process takes under 3.5 minutes to complete, and involves scanning the tags under an electronic microscope to obtain the PUF pattern, which is sent to the AI-driven software for validation.
- The new technology can be used with valuable products such as jewellery, and electronics as it “reaches nearly 100% validation precision.”
- Also, the tags can be applied on COVID-19 vaccines for authentication, including the ones that are stored at very low temperatures.
PUF key-based technologies
- It generally offer high encoding capabilities as they can be used to produce numerous dissimilar patterns. Although, it makes the pattern authentication process longer, when performed within a large database.
Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act
Why in News?
- The U.S. Congress has passed the ‘Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act’ which will expand the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women to receive higher education under a merit and needs-based programme.
- The bill requires the U.S. Agency for International Development to award at least 50% of scholarships under a Pakistan-based higher education scholarship programme to Pakistani women, from 2020 to 2022, across a range of academic disciplines and in accordance with existing eligibility criteria.
- The bill requires USAID to consult with and leverage investments by the Pakistani private sector and Pakistani diaspora in the United States to improve and expand access to education programmes in Pakistan.
- It requires USAID to brief Congress annually on the number of scholarships awarded under the programme, including breakdowns by gender, discipline, and degree type; the percentage of recipients who were involuntarily pushed out of the programme for failure to meet programme requirements; and the percentage of recipients who dropped out of school, including due to retaliation for seeking education.
- On October 10, 2014, Malala shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.
- In October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by Pakistani Taliban on her way home from school.
- In late 2008, she began making the case for access to education for women and girls despite objections from the Pakistani Taliban.
- According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide and the number of malaria deaths stood at 4,09,000.
- Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites and is carried to humans via the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Findings of New study
- A new study (PLOS Pathogens) has shown that if a mosquito has multiple bouts of blood meal, it can shorten the incubation period of the parasites and increase the malaria transmission potential.
- This poses new challenges to the current malaria elimination strategy.
- It also makes us rethink malaria research which is usually carried out by giving a single blood meal to the mosquitoes.
- Malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in endemic regions feed on blood roughly every two to three days and the study shows that this natural behaviour strongly promotes the transmission potential of malaria parasites, in previously unappreciated ways.
- The study found that malaria transmission potential in the sub-Saharan Africa region is higher than previously thought, making disease elimination even more difficult.
- Also noted that parasites can be transmitted by younger mosquitoes, which are less susceptible to insecticides.
Why in News?
- Scientists at the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) at Pappanamcode in Kerala have come up with a new product, Banana Grit.
- Developed from raw Nendran bananas.
- Ideal ingredient in a healthy diet
- Used for making a wide range of dishes.
- It bears a resemblance to ‘rava’ and broken wheat.
About the Concept behind this
- To utilise the presence of resistant starch in bananas, which is reported to improve gut health.
- The dishes prepared with Banana Grit and its byproduct banana powder incline to the new focus on gut health, which the scientific community is widely discussing now to maintain health and well-being.
- Generally consumed ripe, Nendran banana also finds use in typical Kerala dishes such as ‘avial’ and ‘thoran’.
- The grit, or granules, can be used for making upma, or it can be mixed with banana powder for making porridge with milk or coconut milk for use as a health drink.
- Banana powder can be used in cake and bread preparation, along with refined wheat flour.
- Comes as a boon to farmers who have often been struggling against falling prices.
Why in News?
- More than 1,400 migratory birds were found dead recently due to an unexplained cause in the Pong Dam area of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh.
- The local administration has suspended all tourism activities in the reservoir’s precincts.
- Wildlife authorities have sent samples taken from the carcass of the birds for testing at the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal to ascertain the cause of death.
About Pong Dam
- The Pong Dam, also known as the Beas Dam, is an earth-fill embankment dam on the Beas River in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India, just upstream of Talwara.
- The purpose of the dam is water storage for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
- As the second phase of the Beas Project, construction on the dam began in 1961 and was completed in 1974. At the time of its completion, the Pong Dam was the tallest of its type in India.
- The lake created by the dam, Maharana Pratap Sagar, became a renowned bird sanctuary.
National Metrology Conclave
Why in News?
- Prime Minister will deliver the inaugural address at the National Metrology Conclave.
- The theme of the conclave is ‘Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation’.
- PM will also dedicate ‘National Atomic Timescale’, and ‘Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya’ to the nation, and lay the foundation stone of the ‘National Environmental Standards Laboratory’.
National Atomic Timescale
- It generates Indian Standard Time with an accuracy of 2.8 nanoseconds.
Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya
- Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya is supporting testing and calibration of laboratories for quality assurance, at par with international standards.
- The National Environmental Standards Laboratory will aid self-reliance in the certification of ambient air and industrial emission monitoring equipment.
- National Metrology Conclave 2021 is being organised by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), New Delhi, which is entering into its 75th year of inception.