Current Affairs Mar 8

Aromatic Plants

Why in News?

  • Farmers in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, keen for new livelihood options to supplement their income from traditional crops like maize, paddy, and wheat, have found a new lease of life.
  • Cultivation of aromatic plants has given them additional income.
  • They have extracted essential oil from the improved variety of wild marigold (Tagetes minuta) that has been introduced, and the profit from wild marigold oil has doubled the income of farmers as compared to traditional maize, wheat and paddy crops.

Mud Hive Beekeeping

  • In another initiative, farmers have improved pollination by adopting mud hive beekeeping technology which has enhanced apple production resulting in an increase in the income of apple growers 1.25 times.
  • Mud Hive Technology is a combination of wall hive & wooden hive technology, with a habitat like wall hive.
  • It has inbuilt provision for putting frames inside the mud hive and more favorable conditions, especially temperature for bees throughout the year as compared to wooden hives.
  • The technology has brought about better colony growth & less swarming as compared to earlier used wooden boxes because of the favourable conditions they created.




India Science Research Fellowship (ISRF) 2021

Why in News?

  • Forty scholars from six countries have been awarded with the opportunity to carry out their research in Indian Institutes and Universities using state of the art facilities in these places.
  • These scholars have been selected based on research proposal, experience, academic merit and publication record and recommended for the award of India Science and Research Fellowship (ISRF) 2021.

About ISRF

  • As a part of India’s initiatives to engage with neighbouring countries to develop S&T partnerships, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has launched ISRF Programme for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand researchers to work in Indian Universities and Research Institutions.
  • It has been implemented since 2015, and as of now, 5 calls have been announced in this programme with participation of young researchers from these countries.
  • ISRF programme has provided an opportunity to the young researchers from neighbouring countries to get access to the state of art facilities available in the Indian institutes/universities.
  • This fellowship is a platform to establish research cooperation with neighbouring countries of India, which is one of the mandates of DST’s International Science and Technology Cooperation.




 Effect of prolonged alcohol exposure on Red Blood Cells

Why in News?

  • Scientists have custom-made a platform to detect the effect of prolonged alcohol exposure on Red Blood Cells (RBC) through high-resolution measurements of their size.
  • The high-resolution platform that shows the reduction in size of RBCs on alcohol exposure can be tuned for a point-of-care screening of multiple conditions that alter the size and count of RBCs in blood.
  • Although it is known that alcohol affects RBCs, the exact physiological changes are very subtle and difficult to measure.
  • In order to overcome this challenge, scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI), have developed custom-made electro-fluidic platform that can detect the change by measuring the cell size in enhanced resolution.

How Device Worked?

  • The device made in RRI relies on the resistive pulse sensing principle.
  • The team first developed techniques for making tiny micron (1/1000th of a millimetre) sized holes or micro-pores at the tip of a glass capillary with careful fabrication, flame polishing, and image verification.
  • Cells passing through the pore created very tiny electrical pulses, which give direct and most sensitive information of cell count and volume.
  • These results may also be used to explain the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of RBC under alcohol exposure leading to blurred vision, muscular in coordination, and altered mental states from alcohol abuse.




‘Maitri Setu’ between India and Bangladesh

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister will inaugurate ‘Maitri Setu’ between India and Bangladesh on 9th March 2021.


  • The bridge ‘Maitri Setu’ has been built over Feni River which flows between Indian boundary in Tripura State and Bangladesh.
  • The name ‘Maitri Setu’ symbolizes growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between India and Bangladesh. The construction was taken up by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.
  • The 1.9 Km long bridge joins Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • With this inauguration, Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is just 80 Kms from Sabroom.




Promotion of Agroforestry in Silk Sector

Why in News?

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Silk Board under the Ministry of Textiles on a convergence model for the implementation of Agroforestry in the silk sector under the ongoing Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme.
  • The signing of this MoU aims to incentivize the farmers to take up sericulture based Agroforestry models.


  • This linkage will add another dimension to agroforestry for faster returns to the growers as well as support the production of the range of silks that India is famous for.
  • The Central Silk Board (CSB), Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India will act as a catalyst to promote Agroforestry in the silk sector.
  • The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW) has been implementing the Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) since 2016-17 as part of the recommendation of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014.
  • India was the first country to have such a comprehensive policy which was launched at the World Agroforestry Congress held in Delhi in February 2014. At present, the scheme is being implemented in 20 States and 2 UTs.
  • SMAF aims to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income to the farmers, as well as enhanced feedstock to inter alia wood-based and herbal industry.




FDI in Computer Software, Hardware

Why in News?

  • Foreign direct investments (FDI) in the computer software and hardware sector jumped nearly four-times to $ 24.4 billion during April-December 2020-21, according to the latest data of DPIIT.


  • The accelerated digitalisation and increased use of artificial intelligence due to the pandemic led work-from-home scenario have all resulted in a huge opportunity for the computer software and hardware sector.
  • The other sectors which recorded significant growth in foreign inflows during the nine-month period of 2020-21 include construction (infrastructure) activities ($ 7.2 billion), and pharmaceuticals ($ 1.24 billion).
  • FDI in telecommunication dipped to $ 357 million from $ 4.3 billion during April-December 2019-20.
  • Automobiles too witnessed a slowdown with $ 1.18 billion in April-December 2020-21 as against $ 2.5 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
  • Key sectors which have potential to attract more FDI include IT, telecom, pharma and electronics manufacturing.
  • During April-December 2020-21, India attracted maximum FDI from Singapore ($ 15.71 billion) followed by the US ($ 12.82 billion), the UAE ($ 3.91 billion), Mauritius ($ 3.47 billion), and Cayman Islands ($ 2.53 billion).
  • Overall FDI equity inflows into the country jumped 40 % to $ 51.47 billion.




India’s Power Grid

Why in News?

  • Recently, Maharashtra Power Minister announced that a State Cyber Cell probe had found 14 Trojan horses in the servers of the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company. These malwares had the potential to disrupt power distribution in the State.
  • A report from Recorded Future, a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, stating that a group linked to the Chinese government, which it called ‘Red Echo’, had targeted 10 vital nodes in India’s power distribution system and two seaports.

What is ShadowPad?

  • ShadowPad is a backdoor Trojan malware, which means it opens a secret path from its target system to its command-and-control servers.
  • Information can be extracted or more malicious code delivered via this path.
  • ShadowPad is built to target supply-chain infrastructure in sectors like transportation, telecommunication, energy and more. It was first identified in 2017, when it was found hidden in a legitimate software produced by a company named NetSarang.
  • Trojanised softwares, or softwares that have dangers hidden in them, like the eponymous Trojan horse from Greek mythology, are the primary mode of delivery for ShadowPad.




First Downstream Dams on Brahmaputra

Why in News?

  • A draft of China’s new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), which is set to be formally approved on March 11, has given the green light for the first dams to be built on the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river, as the Brahmaputra is known in Tibet, before it flows into India.
  • Other major projects include the construction of coastal nuclear power plants and power transmission channels.

Infrastructure strategy

  • The high importance given to building dams on the “lower reaches” of the Yarlung Zangbo is underlined in the plan, where it is also mentioned in the document among significant planned investments in infrastructure that serve major national strategies.
  • The project is also listed along with the Sichuan-Tibet railway and the national water network.
  • State-owned hydropower company POWERCHINA had signed “a strategic cooperation agreement” with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government to “implement hydropower exploitation in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River”.
  • In 2015 China operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu in Tibet, while three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed, all on the upper and middle reaches of the river.
  • Four planned dams on the upper and middle reaches are not likely to greatly impact the quantity of the Brahmaputra’s flows in India because they are only storing water for power generation, and the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows with an estimated 35% of its basin in India.
  • Dams on the lower reaches and at the Great Bend would, however, raise fresh concerns because of the location across the border from Arunachal Pradesh and the potential impact downstream.





Why in News?

  • India plans to launch on March 28 an earth observation satellite that will provide it near real-time images of its borders and also enable quick monitoring of natural disasters.
  • GISAT-1 is slated to be lofted into space by GSLV-F10 rocket from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district.
  • The rocket will place the spacecraft in a geosynchronous orbit.
  • It will be subsequently positioned in geostationary orbit, about 36,000 kms above earth’s equator, using its onboard propulsion system.


  • With onboard high resolution cameras, the satellite will allow the country to monitor the Indian land mass and the oceans, particularly its borders continuously.
  • It would help in quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic and any short-term events.
  • To obtain spectral signatures of agriculture, forestry, mineralogy, disaster warning, cloud properties, snow and glacier and oceanography.
  • GISAT-1 will facilitate near real-time observation of the Indian sub-continent, under cloud-free condition, at frequent intervals.




International Women’s Day 2021

  • International Women’s Day is observed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
  • Every year, the day is observed on March 8 with the purpose to support a platform that helps forge positive change for women.

How did it start?

  • International Women’s Day, also known as IWD for short, grew out of the labour movement to become a recognised annual event by the United Nations (UN).
  • The seeds of it were planted in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. It was the Socialist Party of America who declared the first National Woman’s Day, a year later.
  • The idea to make the day international came from a woman called Clara Zetkin. She suggested the idea in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.
  • It was first celebrated in 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The centenary was celebrated in 2011.
  • Things were made official in 1975 when the United Nations started celebrating the day. The first theme adopted by the UN (in 1996) was “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future”.

When is IWD

  • It’s on 8 March. Clara’s idea for an International Women’s Day had no fixed date.
  • It wasn’t formalised until a war-time strike in 1917 when Russian women demanded “bread and peace” – and four days into the women’s strike the Tsar was forced to abdicate and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.
  • The date when the women’s strike commenced on the Julian calendar, which was then in use in Russia, was Sunday 23 February. This day in the Gregorian calendar was 8 March – and that’s when it’s celebrated today.

Is there an International Men’s Day?

  • There is indeed, on 19 November.
  • But it has only been marked since the 1990s and isn’t recognised by the UN.

What is the IWD 2021 theme?

  • The UN announced their theme for 2021 as “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”.




New Rule on Airbags

Why in News?

  • The central government has made front passenger airbags mandatory for all vehicles.
  • This has been mandated as an important safety feature and is also based on suggestions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.
  • The Ministry has mandated that “Vehicles manufactured on and after the April 1, 2021, in the case of new models, and August 31, 2021, in the case of existing models, shall be fitted with airbags for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver.”
  • India accounts for 10% of all road crash victims in the world, as per a recent World Bank report. The second airbag in front will improve safety levels by reducing the intensity of the impact in case of a mishap, and will provide added protection for the passenger sitting next to the driver.