Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters
Why in News?
- The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister, has approved the signing and ratification of an Agreement between the Government of Republic of India and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters.
- The Agreement will help in the availability of relevant information for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences.
- The Agreement is also expected to facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between the countries.
Implementation strategy and targets:
- The Agreement will be signed on behalf of the Governments of the two countries after it is approved by the respective Governments.
- This Agreement shall enter into force from the first day of the month following signature by duly authorised representative of both parties.
- The Agreement would provide a legal framework for sharing of information and intelligence between the Customs authorities of the two countries and help in the proper application of Customs laws, prevention and investigation of Customs offences and the facilitation of legitimate trade.
- The Agreement takes care of Indian Customs’ concerns and requirements, particularly in the area of exchange of information on the correctness of the Customs value, tariff classification and origin of the goods traded between the two countries.
Python-5 Air to Air Missile
Why in News?
- Tejas, India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, added the 5th generation Python-5 Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) in its air-to-air weapons capability.
- The test firing at Goa completed a series of missile trials to validate its performance under extremely challenging scenarios.
- Trials were also aimed to validate enhanced capability of already integrated Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM on Tejas.
- Derby missile achieved direct hit on a high-speed maneuvering aerial target and the Python missiles also achieved 100% hits, thereby validating their complete capability.
- The missiles were fired from Tejas aircraft of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) Test pilots belonging to National Flight Test Centre (NFTC).
Medical Oxygen Plants
Why in News?
- DRDO to set up 500 Medical Oxygen Plants within three months under PM CARES Fund.
- The Medical Oxygen Plant (MOP) technology, developed by DRDO for On‐Board Oxygen Generation for LCA, Tejas by DEBEL, DRDO will now help in fighting the current crisis of oxygen for COVID-19 patients.
- The oxygen plant is designed for a capacity of 1,000 litres per minute (LPM).
- The system can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of 5 LPM and charge 195 cylinders per day.
- Oxygen is a very important clinical gas in health care centres and hospitals for treatment of COVID‐19 Patients. Medical Oxygen Plant (MOP) technology is capable of generating oxygen with 93±3% concentration which can be directly supplied to hospital beds or can be used to fill medical oxygen cylinders.
- It utilizes Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technique and Molecular Sieve (Zeolite) technology to generate oxygen directly from atmospheric air.
- Hospitals will be able to generate on site medical oxygen, in a cost-effective manner with this oxygen plant rather than depending upon sourcing it from other places.
Explosion Mechanism Of Supernovae
Why in News?
- In 2011, the Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists for discovering that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate through observations of distant supernovae.
- Now a team of Indian astronomers observing such distant supernovae have narrowed down the possible mechanisms of explosion of such supernovae which provide key measures of cosmological distances.
- Their detailed study of a supernova called SN 2017hpa, a particular type of supernovae called I a supernova, which exploded in 2017 helped narrow down the explosion mechanism of the supernovae by observations of unburned carbon in the early phase spectra.
- Type Ia supernovae are the result of explosions of white dwarfs that exceed their mass beyond the Chandrasekhar limit through accretion of matter.
- Their homogeneous nature makes them extremely good standardizable candles to measure cosmological distances.
- However, the explosion mechanisms which create these supernovae (SNe), and the exact nature of their progenitor systems (star which is at the origin of a supernova phenomenon) are still not yet clearly understood.
- While most SNeIa are homogeneous, a good fraction of these events show diversity in both their light curve as well as spectral properties.
- The study by Anirban Dutta, PhD student at Indian Institute of Astrophysics will help in understanding the diversity as a function of the progenitor as well as its properties and the explosion mechanism of such supernovae.
- The burning front in the white dwarf moves or propagates at speeds less than speed of sound which leaves behind unburned material.
- The expansion velocity calculated using these unburned features can provide an essential hint towards the velocity structure of the ejected material.
- It is generally expected that the unburned material will be present in the outermost layers of the ejecta and expand with velocity higher than velocity of the outer most layer of the star called photospheric velocity.
- In this study, the authors have shown that the unburned layer is moving with photospheric velocity indicating that mixing of the explosion materials is dominant within the ejected material.
- The Red Sea is no longer a baby ocean.
- It is a young adult with a structure similar to the young southern Atlantic some 120 million years ago, notes a new study.
- By studying high-resolution seafloor maps and also investigating the chemical makeup of rock samples, the international team was able to arrive at this conclusion.
- It’s time to lose your leather racing suits and buy an advanced version made of zeolite.
- Researchers at the University of Birmingham have developed a new material using zeolitic imidazolate frameworks which can be used to develop shock and impact resistant clothing for soldiers, athletes, and motorists.
- Parascedosporium putredinis, a fungus that has given the world a new enzyme.
- Researchers noted that the enzyme can act as a catalyst to break down lignocellulose.
- This discovery is important as there is much interest in using lignocellulose as a renewable and sustainable resource for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals.
HIV’s favourite targets
- It is well known that HIV attacks and destroys our CD4+ T cells.
- CD4+ T cells orchestrate the immune response against all kinds of pathogens, so we can’t just eliminate them to prevent HIV infections.
- But if we can find the more specific subsets of CD4+ T cells that are highly susceptible to HIV infection, we may be able to specifically target those cells without detrimental side effects.
- Using new technologies the team has now established a detailed atlas of the CD4+ T cells, which can help scientists determine whether some subsets are more susceptible to infection than others.
Plastic to fuel
- Researchers from the University of Delaware have developed a new direct method to convert single-use plastic waste to molecules that can be used for jet fuels.
- The process can be tuned to convert different common plastic wastes, including low- and high-density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, everyday polyethylene bottles and bags, and composite plastics to desirable fuels and light lubricants.
Protection Against Double Mutant Variant
Why in News?
- A study has found that people who have been vaccinated with Covaxin have protection against the double mutant (B.1.617) variant first found in India.
- So far, 21 countries have detected the B.1.617 variant. Of those, the majority of cases has been reported from India.
- The study found that the neutralising capacity against the double mutant (B.1.617) variant was found to be good in both groups — people who have received the vaccine and those who have recovered from COVID-19.
- Compared with people who have recovered from COVID-19, the ability of the sera of vaccinated people to neutralise the B.1.617 variant was found to be two-fold less.
- The B.1.617 variant has two mutations — E484Q and L425R — of concern. These mutations are found in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein.
- Though how the two mutations behave individually is well known, the combined effect of these mutations when present together is not known.
Why in News?
- Several houses and buildings were damaged after an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale hit Assam recently.
- The epicentre was in Dhekiajuli town in the state’s Sonitpur district.
On a fault line…
- The primary earthquake had its epicentre at latitude 26.690 N and longitude 92.360 E, about 80 km northeast of Guwahati, and a focal depth of 17 km.
- The preliminary analysis shows that the events are located near to Kopili Fault closer to Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT).
- The area is seismically very active falling in the highest Seismic Hazard zone V associated with collisional tectonics where Indian plate sub-ducts beneath the Eurasian Plate.
- HFT, also known as the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT), is a geological fault along the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The Kopili Fault is a 300-km northwest-southeast trending fault from the Bhutan Himalaya to the Burmese arc.
- The United States Geological Survey (USGS), a scientific agency of the US federal government, defines a fault as “a fracture along which the blocks of crust on either side have moved relative to one another parallel to the fracture”.
- When an earthquake occurs on one of these faults, the rock on one side of the fault slips with respect to the other. The fault surface can be vertical, horizontal, or at some angle to the surface of the earth.
- The Northeast is located in the highest seismological zone, so must have constant earthquake preparedness at all levels.
- Continuous tectonic stress keeps building up particularly along the faultlines.
- Recent earthquake was an instance of accumulated stress release — probably, stress was constrained for a fairly long time at this epicentre, and hence the release was of relatively higher intensity.
Maharashtra’s two-child norm for government employees
Why in News?
- A woman officer from the Maharashtra Prison Department was dismissed from service after an inquiry revealed that she violated the Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) rules because she suppressed the information from the authorities that she has three children.
- The Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rule of 2005 defines a small family as wife, husband and two children and stipulates that a person is not eligible for a job with Maharashtra Government if he or she has more than two children after 2005.
What is the ‘children norm’ or Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005?
- Maharashtra is one of the few states in the country that have a ‘two children’ policy for appointment in government jobs or even for the elections of some local government bodies.
- Other states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Gujarat, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Assam being the latest addition to the list in 2019.
- The set of norms came into force in Maharashtra as Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules on March 28, 2005.
- The rules mandate filing a small family declaration at the time of applying for a government job. The definition of child under these rules does not include adopted children.
SARS coronaviruses use host cells to produce proteins and replicate
- Coronavirus researchers have discovered how SARS viruses enhance the production of viral proteins in infected cells, so that many new copies of the virus can be generated.
- Notably, coronaviruses other than SARS-CoV (which causes SARS) and SARS-CoV-2 (which causes Covid-19) do not use this mechanism.
- This may therefore provide a possible explanation for the much higher pathogenicity of the SARS viruses.
- Coronaviruses that cause harmless colds in humans were discovered more than 50 years ago.
- When it emerged in 2002-03, the SARS coronavirus was the first coronavirus found to cause severe pneumonia in infected people.
- From comparisons of the RNA genomes of innocuous coronaviruses with those of the SARS coronavirus, researchers identified a region that only occurred in the latter, and was called the “SARS-unique domain” (SUD).
- Such genomic regions and their protein products might be linked to the extraordinary pathogenicity of SARS coronavirus and its cousin, SARS-CoV-2.
- The SUD proteins of these two viruses interact with a human protein called Paip-1, which is involved in the first steps of protein synthesis.
- Together with Paip-1 and other proteins in human cells, SUD apparently binds to the ribosomes, the molecular machines that are responsible for protein synthesis in cells.
- This would lead to an enhancement of the production of all proteins, both those of the host cell and those of the virus.
- However, in cells infected with SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-2, the messenger RNA molecules that code for host proteins are selectively destroyed by a viral protein named Nsp1.
- As a result of this complicated process, the infected cell predominantly produces viral proteins, so that many new copies of the virus can be created.
Why in News?
- Researchers have identified a psychedelic that doesn’t trigger hallucinations, a key discovery that could allow scientists to accelerate the development of easy-to-use treatments for mental health and neurological conditions.
- Researchers are racing to harness the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for poorly treated conditions such as depression and PTSD. While antipsychotics typically work by altering brain chemistry, psychedelics appear to promote neural plasticity, essentially allowing the brain to rewire itself.
- But the psychedelics being tested as treatments currently require supervision before, during and after administration, due to their hallucinogenic properties. Critics also worry that the medical use of psychedelics could promote the recreational use of these drugs.
- Using their sensor, the researchers have homed in on hallucinogenic and non-hallucinogenic psychedelics. Of particular interest is a previously unstudied non-hallucinogenic compound, AAZ-A-154, that has so far produced encouraging results in animal studies, similar to the impact seen with hallucinogenic psychedelics.
- The importance of the hallucinogenic effects in the therapeutic properties of psychedelics is highly debated; some scientists think they are essential to the compounds’ perceived therapeutic benefit. If that’s the case, then the sensor can be really useful for drug discovery efforts to identify new hallucinogenic psychedelic compounds.
- But non-hallucinogenic compounds are a particularly seductive notion because they could allow for medicines to be self-administered the way aspirin is.
Way To Remove Polluting Microplastics With Bacteria
- Microbiologists have devised a sustainable way to remove polluting microplastics from the environment – and they want to use bacteria to do the job.
- Bacteria naturally tend to group together and stick to surfaces, and this creates an adhesive substance called “biofilm” – we see it every morning when brushing our teeth and getting rid of dental plaque.
- Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) want to use this sticky bacteria property and create tape-like microbe nets that can capture microplastics in polluted water to form an easily disposable and recyclable blob.
- This invention could pave the way for sustainably lowering plastic pollution levels in the long run by simply using something found in nature.
- Microplastics are the plastic fragments, usually smaller than 5mm, which are accidentally released into the environment during production and breakdown of, for example, grocery bags or water bottles – or during everyday activities such as washing synthetic clothes such as nylon or using personal care products with scrubbing microbeads in them.
- Although they are tiny, the risk they post to the environment is huge. Microplastics are not easily biodegradable, so they stick around for long periods of time and they also absorb and accumulate toxic chemicals.
- They disperse into wastewater and into the oceans, endangering marine animals who end up eating them and eventually trickling into the food chain and harming human health too.
- Microplastics had been found in more than 114 aquatic species in 2018, according to the International Maritime Organization, and they have been found in salt, lettuce, apples, and more.
- Yet, there are not any sustainable, one-size-fit-all ways to eliminate microplastics.