Current Affairs May 27

Ayush Clinical Repository (ACCR) portal & Ayush Sanjivani App

Why in News?

  • Union Minister of state (IC) for Ayush Shri Kiren Rijiju will launch the Ayush Clinical Case Repository (ACCR) portal and the third version of Ayush Sanjivani App.

About Ayush Clinical Repository (ACCR) portal

  • The Ayush Clinical Repository (ACCR) portal will serve as a platform to support both Ayush practitioners and general public.
  • This portal aims to aggregate information about clinical outcomes achieved by Ayush practitioners on a large scale.
  • It will facilitate not just dissemination of information but also further analysis and research.
  • The portal will not only benefit the practitioner community and the public but will also help widen the solid scientific base of all streams of Ayush.

Ayush Sanjivani App

  • The Ayush Sanjivani App (Third Version) facilitates a significant study/ documentation regarding the efficacy of selected Ayush interventions, including Ayush 64 and Kabasura Kudineer medicines in the management of asymptomatic & mild to moderate Covid 19 patients.




Toll Plazas

Why in News?

  • In order to ensure smooth and quick passage of vehicles at the toll plazas, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued guidelines to ensure service time of not more than 10 seconds per vehicle even during peak hours at the toll plazas on the National Highways.
  • The new guidelines will also ensure seamless flow of traffic at the toll plazas by not allowing vehicles to queue up more than 100 metres.
  • Although at most of the toll plazas, there is no waiting time after mandatory 100% Fastag, even then if there is queue of waiting vehicles of more than 100 metres due to some reason, the vehicles will be allowed to pass without paying toll till the queue comes within 100 metres from the toll booth.
  • For this purpose, a yellow line at a distance of 100 metres from toll booth will be marked in each toll lane.





How does our brain strengthen memories?

  • It is long known that while we sleep, our brain reactivates previously learnt information and solidifies memories in the neocortical long-term stores.
  • A new study has now shown an intricate interplay of brain activities that enables this reactivation.
  • They noted that two patterns (slow oscillations, sleep spindles) that occur during our non-rapid eye movement sleep play an important role.




New carbon

  • The quest for new carbon allotropes (different forms of the same element) other than graphene has kept scientists busy for years.
  • New carbon networks such as graphenylene and biphenylene have been predicted to have better mechanical, electronic, and transport properties.
  • An international team of researchers has now synthesised an ultra-flat biphenylene network made up of four-, six-, and eight-membered rings of carbon atoms.




Clownfish clues

  • Clownfish, dons an orange coat with white stripes.
  • A new study has now found how these stripes are formed.
  • The international team found that thyroid hormones regulate the white bar formation and the speed at which these bars are formed depends on the species of sea anemone in which the clownfish live.





Wallaby conservation

  • A novel conservation strategy known as ‘headstarting’ has saved the population of bridled nailtail wallabies from the brink of extinction.
  • In this method, young wallabies were isolated from their main predators – feral cats – during the critical early life stage before being returned to the wild.
  • This improves juvenile survival and this method can be recruited in populations facing a high level of threats.




Cocaine catastrophe

  • By giving small amounts of sucrose supplemented with cocaine to fruit flies, researchers have now decoded its effect on brain cells.
  • The team studied over 88,000 cells and gene expressions in the flies.
  • One of the corresponding authors of the study explains: “Now, we can see what genes are expressed when exposed to cocaine and whether there are Federal Drug Administration-approved drugs that could be tested, perhaps first in the fly model. This is a baseline. We can now leverage this work to understand potential therapy.”





Second wave threatens start-ups, MSMEs

  • Hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic, about 59% of start-ups and MSMEs are likely to either scale down operations, sell off, or completely shut in the next six months.
  • Only 22% of start-ups and MSMEs see growth in their business during this period.

Months of cash they had on hand

  • 33% of small businesses had only less than a month of cash remaining, whereas 8% were already out of funds.
  • About 37% had funds for 1-3 months, 22% have more than 3 months of runway and 11% said they had it for more than 6 months.




‘Exempt micro enterprises from GST

Why in News?

  • The Consortium of Indian Associations (CIA) has urged the Centre to increase the turnover threshold limit for micro enterprises to facilitate their exemption from the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • The second wave has wiped out more than 40% of MSMEs involved in various sectors.
  • Secondly, COVID-related materials such as hand sanitisers, masks, medicines, oxygen cylinders, medical treatments and PPE kits must be exempted from all forms of GST, both for input and output, till March 2022.




Smart window materials for automatic climate control of buildings

Why in News?

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati have developed a smart window material for automatic climate control of buildings.
  • The smart window material designed by them can effectively control the amount of heat and light passing through it in response to an applied voltage and would ultimately help in developing efficient automatic climate control.
  • Conventionally, window designs are static — they are predesigned for specific climatic conditions.
  • The emergent smart windows, on the other hand, can dynamically adjust the amount of light and heat radiation entering a building in response to external stimuli, thus conserving the building’s energy.
  • Proposed an electro-tuneable glass made of two ultra-thin metal layers sandwiching an electro-optic polymer whose refractive index can be changed by applying a small voltage, which allows filtering of visible and infrared radiation.
  • The researchers used this design to perform simulation studies to understand the light and heat transmission properties in response to the applied voltage.
  • They initially considered gold and silver as the metal layers, but later tested their model with cheaper alternatives such as copper, and transparent semiconductor such as indium tin oxide.




Nobel Laureate’s claim on variants

  • The controversy was triggered by a much-shared article in the last few days, that claimed the French 2008 Nobel Laureate, Luc Montaigner, to have said vaccination in a pandemic was lethal and there was an association between rising vaccinations and death rates. While it emerged that he did not explicitly say so, he did say that vaccinations were an “enormous mistake” as they were creating “the variants”.

Experts Says

  • Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE), when antibodies to an infection can sometimes aggravate infection or trigger a respiratory disease, is something that vaccine developers must watch out for.
  • However, there is no scientific case that such ADE may actually trigger newer virus variants.
  • Vaccination was a method to teach the immune system to trigger the antibodies and specialised immune-system cells in case of a future infection by an actual virus. There were both neutralising and non-neutralising antibodies produced.
  • In some individuals with a defective immune system, a viral infection could trigger a long bout of viral replication that could produce variants able to avoid the immune-system generated cells.
  • While relatively few of them could escape immunity, some could spread through populations, multiply and be more resilient to vaccines as evidenced by B.1.351 (South Africa variant) and B.1.617.2 (India variant) though two doses of vaccine continued to be effective against them.





Why in News?

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone has appointed a joint committee to look into allegations of unauthorised construction activity taking place in Mekedatu, where the Karnataka government had proposed to construct a dam across the Cauvery River.
  • The NGT also directed the joint committee to assess the damage caused to the environment in case of any construction made and determine the compensation payable by the respective authorities who are responsible.
  • Acting suo motu based on a media report, NGT has directed the panel to submit a report on or before July 5.




Low testosterone to severe Covid risk in men

  • Men with Covid-19 fare worse than women, on average.
  • One theory is that hormonal differences may make men more susceptible. And since men have more testosterone than women, some scientists have speculated that high levels of testosterone may be to blame.
  • But a new study, suggests that, among men, the opposite may be true: that low testosterone levels are linked to more severe disease.
  • Among men, only testosterone levels were linked to Covid-19 severity. The lower the levels, the more severe the disease.
  • For example, those with the lowest levels were at highest risk of going on a ventilator, needing intensive care or dying.




The Tulsa race massacre

Why in News?

  • US President Joe Biden will visit the city of Tulsa in Oklahoma state, in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, known among the worst incidents of racial strife in American history.
  • In 1921, from the evening of May 31 until the afternoon of June 1, a violent mob of Tulsa’s White residents attacked a prosperous Black neighbourhood, killing hundreds and leaving the locality in ashes.

What is the Tulsa race massacre?

  • The massacre took place in Greenwood, a thriving Black-dominated neighbourhood that had sprung up at the start of the 20th century on the northern side of Tulsa, separated by a railroad track from the city’s White-dominated part on the south.
  • Known as the “Black Wall Street”, Greenwood was a favoured destination for African Americans from the Southern US states– where laws actively upheld racism and disempowered Black people– to come and seek upward mobility.

What triggered the violence?

  • In May 1921, a series of events took place that “nearly destroyed” the entire Greenwood area
  • On May 30, 1921, a Black man named Dick Rowland was imprisoned for allegedly assaulting a White woman. After his arrest, an “inflammatory report” published in the May 31 edition of the Tulsa Tribune spurred a confrontation between Black and White armed mobs.
  • By the morning of June 1, 1921, heavily armed White rioters looted and burned down the Greenwood area, leaving over 300 dead in the violence.
  • Black people were indiscriminately shot on the streets, and planes are also said to have dropped dynamite over the neighbourhood.
  • Over 18 hours of destruction ravaged Greenwood’s hard-built prosperity as all of its 35 blocks were burned to the ground.




Reclining Buddha

Why in News?

  • On Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, or Vesak — India’s largest statue of the Reclining Buddha was to have been installed at the Buddha International Welfare Mission temple in Bodh Gaya.

The Reclining Buddha

  • A reclining Buddha statue or image represents The Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana, the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls.
  • The Buddha’s death came when he was 80 years old, in a state of meditation, in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, close to the state’s border with Bihar.
  • This also signifies the Buddha’s last deeksha — even while on his deathbed, he took a follower into the fold.

Iconographic representation

  • Statues and images of the Reclining Buddha show him lying on his right side, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow.
  • It is a popular iconographic depiction in Buddhism, and is meant to show that all beings have the potential to be awakened and be released from the cycle of death and rebirth.
  • The Reclining Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara art, which began in the period between 50 BC and 75 AD, and peaked during the Kushana period from the first to the fifth centuries AD
  • Since the Buddha was against idol worship, in the centuries immediately following his parinirvana (483 BC), his representation was through symbols.

Reclining Buddha outside India

  • in Sri Lanka and India, the Buddha is mostly shown in sitting postures, while the reclining postures are more prevalent in Thailand and other parts of South East Asia.
  • The largest Reclining Buddha in the world is the 600-foot Winsein Tawya Buddha built in 1992 in Mawlamyine, Myanmar.
  • In the late 15th century, a 70-metre statue of the Reclining Buddha was built at the Hindu temple site of Baphuon in Cambodia’s Angkor.
  • The Bhamala Buddha Parinirvana in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which dates back to the 2nd century AD, is considered the oldest statue of its kind in the world.
  • There are several statues of the Reclining Buddha in China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Reclining Buddha in India

  • Cave No. 26 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta contains a 24-foot-long and nine-foot-tall sculpture of the Reclining Buddha, believed to have been carved in the 5th century AD.
  • Kushinagar, where the Buddha actually attained parinirvana, has a 6-metre-long red sandstone monolith statue of the Reclining Buddha inside the Parinirvana Stupa.




The traceability clause in IT Rules 2021

Why in News?

  • Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp is taking the Indian government to court over the traceability clause in the new IT Rules 2021.
  • The new IT rules include a traceability clause that requires social media platforms to locate “the first originator of the information” if required by authorities.

What does WhatsApp’s lawsuit state?

  • WhatsApp is invoking the 2017 Justice K S Puttaswamy vs Union Of India case to argue that the traceability provision is unconstitutional and against people’s fundamental right to privacy as underlined by the Supreme Court decision.
  • The plea states that the court should declare the traceability clause as “unconstitutional” and should not allow it to come into force. It is also challenging the clause which puts “criminal liability” on its employees for non compliance, it is learnt.

What has WhatsApp said about ‘traceability’?

  • The platform will have to break end-to-end encryption, which is turned on by default for all messages.
  • End-to-end encryption ensures that no third-party, not even the messaging app itself can track or read messages.

Why is WhatsApp against finding the originator of a message?

  • End-to-end encryption ensures that no one can read the message, except for the sender and the receiver. This includes WhatsApp itself. Nor does the app keep a log of who is sending what message and to whom.
  • And given it cannot read the contents of a message, finding the originator is even harder. Further many of the messages are just copied or forwarded by users.
  • WhatsApp says that if it had to trace an originator, then it would have to “store information”. The argument is tracing even one message means tracing every single message on the platform.
  • In order to trace messages, WhatsApp will have to add some sort of “permanent identity stamp” or effectively ‘fingerprint’ each message, which it says will be like a mass surveillance program.

What is WhatsApp’s argument on why traceability won’t work?

  • WhatsApp too states that tracing messages will be “ineffective and highly susceptible to abuse.”
  • If one simply downloaded an image and shared it, took a screenshot and resent it, or sent an article on WhatsApp that someone emailed you, you would be determined to be the originator of that content.




Lab-grown human embryos

  • The ban on growing human embryos in the lab beyond 14 days has been relaxed by an international body of experts, paving the way for research that could help to unpick issues ranging from why recurring miscarriages occur to improving IVF.
  • The decades-old rule is laid down in the law in a number of countries and was previously stipulated in guidelines from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).
  • These guidelines set out standards that are used by scientists, journals and research bodies around the world, and can also influence policymakers.
  • When the 14-day rule was introduced it was difficult to culture human embryos beyond about five days.
  • But science has advanced: in 2016 researchers revealed they had managed to keep human embryos alive and active for 13 days.
  • Being able to study embryos beyond 14 days could bring a wealth of benefits, from validating the use of clumps of human cells to study early embryo development to aiding efforts to judge the safety of techniques such as mitochondrial replacement therapy, and providing new insights into recurring miscarriages and congenital abnormalities.