Visit of Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh
Why in News?
- At the invitation of Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be visiting Bangladesh on March 26 & 27, 2021.
- This visit is in connection with the commemoration of three epochal events –
- Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman;
- 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh; and
- 50 years of Bangladesh’s war of liberation. Prime Minister had last visited Bangladesh in 2015.
- During the visit, Prime Minister will attend the National Day programme of Bangladesh on March 26, as the guest of honour.
MoU between India and Maldives
Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister was apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment of the Republic of Maldives for cooperation in Sports and Youth Affairs.
- Bilateral exchange programmes in the field of sports and youth affairs between India and Maldives will help in expanding knowledge and expertise in the area of sports science, sports medicine, coaching techniques, participation in youth festivals and camps which would result in improvement in performance of our sportspersons in international tournaments and strengthening of bilateral relations between India and Maldives.
- Benefits arising from bilateral cooperation in the field of sports and youth affairs with Maldives would be equally applicable to all sportspersons irrespective or their caste, creed, region, religion and gender.
Closure of Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation of India Limited
Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the closure of Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation of India Limited (HHEC), the Corporation, a Government of India undertaking under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles.
- The approval will benefit the Government exchequer in reducing recurring expenditure on salary/wages of sick CPSE which is not in operation and earning no income.
- The Corporation has been continuously incurring losses since financial year 2015-16 and not earning sufficient income to meet its running expenses. There is little scope for its revival, necessitating closure of the Company.
Strengthening of Transmission and Distribution in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim
Why in News?
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister, in a major step towards economic development of the States of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim through strengthening of Intra – State Transmission and Distribution systems has approved the Revised Cost Estimate (RCE) of Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening of Transmission & Distribution in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim .
- The scheme is being implemented through POWERGRID, a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).
- Government commitment for the total economic development of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and to strengthen the Intra-State Transmission & Distribution Infrastructure in the states by providing grid connectivity to remote distant locations.
130mm Self Propelled Catapult Guns and 160mm Tampella Mortars
Why in News?
- Two of the longest serving Artillery systems, the 130mm Self Propelled M-46 Catapult Guns and the 160mm Tampella Mortars were decommissioned at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges.
- The 130mm Catapult, with a range of more than 27 km, was a successful merger of two existing weapon systems: Vijayanta tanks and 130mm M-46 guns.
- This hybrid platform was a response to the need for a mobile Artillery gun system to support strike formations on the Western borders, after the 1965 and 1971 wars.
- The guns were inducted in 1981 and were employed successfully during a number of operations.
160mm Tampella mortars
- The 160mm Tampella mortars, with a range of 9.6km, were inducted after the 1962 war with China to fulfill the need for a weapon system to clear high crests of the Northern borders.
- Originally an import from the Israeli Defence Forces, this mortar was successfully deployed on the Line of Control in the Leepa valley and the Hajipir Bowl and played a crucial part in maintaining the sanctity of the Line of Control.
- The mortars also played a significant part in the 1999 Kargil war.
Why in News?
- India collaborates with Norway and Japan in Antarctic Research.
- A major Indo-Norweigian collaborative field campaign, near Indian Maitri station, was undertaken during 2016–2019 to understand the ice shelf dynamics, mass balance and reconstruct past changes in atmospheric and sea ice dynamics under the joint project “Mass balance, dynamics, and climate of the central Dronning Maud Land coast, East Antarctica (MADICE)”.
- Under this project, geophysical field measurements, ice core drilling, snow core drilling, ice-sheet modelling and satellite remote sensing-based studies were conducted to understand the future Antarctic contribution to the global sea-level rise.
- An Indo-Japanese project “Schirmacher Oasis Nippon (Japan) India Coring (SONIC)”was initiated during 2019 to reconstruct the past-climate.
“National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly” (NPHCE)
- National Policy for Older Person (NPOP)-1999 was formulated with the goal of ensuring well-being of older persons.
- There are 14 Principle Areas of Intervention are Under NPOP-1999, of which one of the principle areas of intervention is Health Care & Nutrition.
- The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had launched the “National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly” (NPHCE) during 2010-11 to address various health related problems of elderly people.
- The National Programme for the Health Care for the Elderly (NPHCE) is an articulation of the International and national commitments of the Government as envisaged under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) adopted by the Government of India in 1999 & Section 20 of “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007” dealing with provisions for medical care of Senior Citizen.
- The programme is State oriented and basic thrust of the programme is to provide dedicated health care facilities to the senior citizens (>60 year of age) at various level of primary, secondary and tertiary health care.
- To provide accessible, affordable, and high-quality long-term, comprehensive and dedicated care services to an Ageing population;
- Creating a new “architecture” for Ageing; to build a framework to create an enabling environment for “a Society for all Ages”;
- To promote the concept of Active and Healthy Ageing;
- Convergence with National Rural Health Mission, AYUSH and other line departments like Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Why in News?
- Researchers have recently developed a molecular sensor, which can identify cancer drugs by detecting how such chemicals modify microtubules inside living cells.
- Microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton, a structural network within the cell’s cytoplasm, and they alter in response to several chemicals.
- Understanding tubulin modifications has remained a challenge till date because of unavailability of tools that can mark them in living cells.
- The researchers devised a method to design synthetic proteins, known as nanobodies, which can bind specifically to modified microtubules.
- These nanobodies are similar to antibodies made in our body as a defense mechanism against pathogens.
- However, unlike antibodies, the nanobodies are smaller in size and easily amenable for protein engineering.
- The nanobody was then coupled with a fluorescent molecule to serve as a detection tool, called sensor.
- They developed and validated a live cell sensor against a unique microtubule modification called tyrosinated form of microtubules that is already known to be important for cell division and intracellular organization.
- The tyrosination sensor is the first tubulin nanobody – or sensor – that can be used to study the dynamics of microtubule modifications in living cells.
- These chemicals are frequently used as anti-cancer drugs. Thus, the tyrosination sensor will facilitate studying microtubule functions for many researchers and will aid identifying new drugs of therapeutic value.
New state of the materials discovered
Why in News?
- Scientists have discovered a new exotic, strange state of materials in contact with an environment that alters its physical properties in the presence of an electromagnetic field, leading to better quantum technologies, which are tunable and controllable as per the user requirements.
- In an external electromagnetic field, geometric properties of a crystalline solid with lattices arranged in a one-dimensional periodic manner can display phase transitions, thereby altering its physical properties.
- The 2016 Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to the theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter, which have played a significant role in the modern understanding of materials and their applications.
- Topology is concerned with the properties of a geometric object preserved under continuous deformations, such as stretching and twisting.
- Researchers explored ways to control the topological phase transitions of matter in contact with an environment by an external periodic perturbation such as laser light in their present work.
- While studying the geometric phase in systems in contact with an environment and examining the environment’s consequence on the band-structure topology of the systems, they discovered a new metallic state of the materials coupled to an environment.
Predict progression of breast cancer
Why in News?
- Scientists have developed a classification method based on Deep Learning (DL) network to evaluate hormone status for prognosis of breast cancer.
- The proposed framework is a reliable alternative to manual methods for automatic grading systems used to determine scoring of estrogen receptor status for predicting progression of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Data
- Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer, which accounts for 14% of cancers amongst Indian women, both in rural and urban India.
- In India, post-cancer survival rate related to breast cancer was reported to be 60% which is approximately 80% of Indian patients younger than 60 years of age. Such alarming numbers could be reduced if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage.
- A team from the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), have presented the novel Deep Learning (DL) based quantitative evaluation of estrogen or progesterone status with the help of Immunohistochemistry (IHC) specimen to grade for prediction of breast cancer.
- IHC strain is used as a prognostic marker in breast cancer pathology and involves a special kind of colour staining for identifying malignant nuclei.
- Hormone receptors, namely estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) contribute to predicting cancer progression and associated risk of late recurrence of the disease.
- The team developed an algorithm that indicated whether or not the cancer cells have hormone receptors on their surface.
- This study proposed a new method based on deep learning network for precisely segmenting out the stained nuclei region from breast tissue images.
- The proposed architecture, namely IHC-Net, can semantically segment the exact positive and negative nuclei from tissue images.
- Finally, an ensemble method is used, which integrates the decision of three machine learning (ML) models for the final Allred cancer score.
India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Women’s Forum
Why in News?
- The Sixth India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Women’s Forum meeting was held.
- The India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Cooperation Forum is a unique platform which brings together India, Brazil and South Africa, three large democracies and major economies from three different continents.
- All three partners are developing pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nations.
- IBSA is committed to inclusive sustainable development, in pursuit of the well-being for their citizens and those from the other developing nations.
- The principles, norms and values underpinning the IBSA Dialogue Forum are participatory democracy, respect for human rights, the Rule of Law and the strengthening of multilateralism.
- IBSA lays efforts in the South-South cooperation beyond the conventional areas of exchange of experts and training.
- The Forum discussed key issues that contribute towards the transformation of women’s lives; by highlighting initiatives, policies and best practices for gender inclusive economy for transformation as well as for elimination of gender based discrimination and violence against women.
- The Forum emphasized on the necessity to raise voice on various multilateral fora to highlight the development priorities of the associate countries and emphasized how gender equality makes sound economic sense.
Delhi is the most polluted capital city globally
- Delhi remained the most polluted capital city in the world but India, on the whole, had improved its average annual PM 2.5 (particulate matter) levels higher in 2020 than in 2019.
- According to a report from IQ Air, a Swiss air quality technology company, specialising in protection against airborne pollutants, and developing air quality monitoring and air cleaning products.
- Average pollution levels were 51.9 µg/m³ in 2020 compared with 58.1 µg/m³ in 2019, making India only the third most polluted country in 2020, unlike in 2019, when its air was the fifth most noxious.
- Bangladesh and Pakistan were the countries in 2020 with worse average PM 2.5 levels than India.
- China ranked 11th in the latest report, a deterioration from the 14th in the previous edition of the report.
- In 2020, 84% of all monitored countries observed air quality improvements. Other improvements in major cities over 2019 included a 11% drop in Beijing, a 13% drop in Chicago, a 17% drop in Paris and a 16% drop in London and Seoul.
- However, of the 106 monitored countries, only 24 met the World Health Organization annual guidelines for PM 2.5.
- When ranked by cities, Hotan in China was the most polluted, with an average concentration of 110.2 µg/m³, followed by Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh at 106. Of the 14 most polluted cities, 13 were in India.
- Air pollution constitutes the world’s biggest environmental health hazard, contributing to as many as 7 million premature deaths globally per year (more than three times higher than deaths associated with COVID-19).
World Energy Transitions Outlook report
- The COVID-19 crisis offers an unexpected opportunity for countries across the world to decouple their economies from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources, says the World Energy Transitions Outlook report, brought out by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
- Previewed at the virtual Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD 2021), the report proposes energy transition solutions for the narrow pathway available to contain the rise of temperature to 1.5°C and halt global warming.
- The document highlights the need for countries around the world to accelerate their efforts toward the energy transition without delay.
- The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C released in 2018 clearly indicates that a 45% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 levels is required by 2030. However, emissions have continued to increase, except in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a dramatic economic slowdown.
- IRENA observes the emergence of a new energy system based on renewable technologies and complemented by green hydrogen and modern bioenergy.
- It estimates that by 2050, 90% of total electricity needs would be supplied by renewables, followed by 6% from natural gas and the remaining from nuclear.
- The agency has identified 30 innovations for the integration of wind and solar PV in power systems. It stresses the need to focus on the expansion of emerging technologies such as green hydrogen.
‘Malnutrition Eradication Authority’
Why in News?
- The government must identify districts with high prevalence of malnourishment to ensure concrete actions on the ground, a parliamentary panel report has urged.
- It has also recommended establishing a ‘Malnutrition Eradication Authority’, latest by June 30, 2021.
- In order to ensure that food packets and hot cooked meals under the anganwadi scheme reach the intended beneficiaries, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women and Children, Youth and Sports has mooted that the Ministry “set up a vigilant monitoring mechanism”.
- The report also noted that the government is introducing a new technology to improve deliverables under the Poshan Abhiyan, called the Poshan Tracker.
- This will replace the previous technology being implemented by the government since 2017 with the help of a loan from World Bank.
- “The POSHAN Tracker will enable real-time monitoring and tracking of all AWCs, AWWs and beneficiaries on defined indicators for prompt supervisions. For Take Home Rations (THR), QR Code based check will be introduced while distributing packets and maintaining inventory to tackle pilferages.”
Rule curve for Mullaperiyar
Why in News?
- The Supreme Court said o that the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary shall be “personally responsible” and “appropriate action” will be taken on failure to give information on the rule curve for Mullaperiyar dam to the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee.
What is Rule Curve in a Dam
- Rule curve in a dam decides the fluctuating storage levels in a reservoir.
- The gate opening schedule of a dam is based on the rule curve. It is part of the “core safety” mechanism in a dam.
- SC directed the Supervisory Committee to issue directions or take steps to address the three core safety issues — the monitoring and performance of the instrumentation of the dam, finalising the rule curve and fixing the gate operating schedule — and submit a compliance report in four weeks.
Why do certain smells trigger powerful memories?
- The researchers show that in humans there is unique connectivity between the hippocampus in the brain which plays a major role in learning and memory and the olfactory system (the sensory system used for smelling).
- During evolution, primate brains (including humans) massively expanded, developing the neocortex. Due to this expansion, direct connections between sensory areas and the hippocampus also expanded.
- Olfaction had stronger functional connectivity with the hippocampus than these other sensory systems.
- The team writes that this strong connectivity is like a superhighway from smell to the hippocampus and may be the reason why odours can powerfully elicit memories.
- With every inhale, connections to our brain’s memory centres strengthen, the connectivity between the olfactory cortex and hippocampus changes rhythmically with natural breathing. This is interesting because it shows that something as fundamental and natural as breathing is intimately connected with how memory works in our brain.
Non-invasive skin swab tests
- Non-invasive skin swab samples may be enough to detect the novel coronavirus quickly, according to a study.
- Sampling sebum — an oily, waxy substance produced by the body’s sebaceous glands — has the potential to support both needs by looking at what the virus does to us, rather than looking for the virus itself.
- The most widely used approach to testing for COVID-19 requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and far inside the nose.
- The sebum samples were collected by gently swabbing a skin area rich in sebum such as the face, neck or back.
- The team analysed the samples by using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and a statistical modelling technique to differentiate between the COVID-19 positive and negative samples.
- Patients with a positive COVID-19 test had lower lipid levels — or dyslipidemia — than their counterparts with a negative test.