SeHAT OPD portal
Why in News?
- Raksha Mantri launched ‘Services e-Health Assistance & Tele-consultation (SeHAT) OPD portal.
- The portal provides tele-medicine services to the serving Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families.
- Its a great example of innovation, especially at a time when the nation is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The portal will help reduce the load on hospitals and patients will be able to get contactless consultations in an easy and effective manner.
Women-centric Documentary Films
Why in News?
- The thematically curated festival series of women-centric documentary films will be kick-started by Films Division with The Eclipse and After, a festival of films on women by women.
- The package of ten films made by women film makers tells stories of women coming out from the shadows of inequality and injustice and also inspiring stories of strong-willed women who dared to break conventions to lead a life of self worth and accomplishment.
Why in News?
- A N95 Mask/PPE disinfection system developed by Mumbai-based start-up, Indra Water, has been installed at multiple Government hospitals across Maharashtra & Telangana.
- The disinfection system called Vajra Kavach is significantly decreasing the cost of combating the pandemic by making PPE, medical, and nonmedical gear reusable and reducing the generation of excessive COVID 19 related bio-medical waste, thereby helping the environment.
- Also making personal protective equipment more available, affordable, and accessible.
- The product uses a multistage disinfection process with advanced oxidation, corona discharge, and UV-C light spectrum to inactivate the viruses, bacteria, and other microbial strains present on the PPE with more than 99.999% efficiency.
- Indra Water, the startup which was initiated with the NIDHI-PRAYAS grant from DST (through SINE- IIT Bombay)
- for innovations in the water sector, used the Center for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) grant of the Department of Science & Technology (DST),
- To modify their technology to make it suitable for combating the COVID 19 infection.
MV X-Press Pearl
Why in News?
- Indian Coast Guard Ships Vaibhav and Vajra continue efforts to douse the intense fire onboard container vessel MV X-Press Pearl off Colombo.
- ICG Dornier aircraft has undertaken air reconnaissance of the area for assessment and support. No oil spill has been reported.
- ICG ship Samudra Prahari, a specialised Pollution Response (PR) vessel has also been despatched in PR configuration to augment the firefighting efforts and respond to oil spill, if occurred.
- The distressed vessel MV X-Press Pearl was carrying 1486 containers with nitric acid and other hazardous IMDG code chemicals.
Emerging Issues In Biotechnology And Biomedicine
Why in news?
- Experts deliberated on emerging issues in the various fields of Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the fourth BRICS Working Group meeting on the subject area.
- The members of the working group on Biotechnology and Biomedicine suggested future directions of research collaboration among BRICs countries in the areas such as Antimicrobial Resistance, Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health Medicine, Non-Communicable Diseases, Neurological Disorders, Agro-biotechnology, Food and Nutrition, Cancer, long Post-Covid Challenges and Complications including Molecular Pathogenesis of COVID-19 virus.
- The meeting was sponsored by, Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), China and was organized by the China National Center for Biotechnology Development.
- India proposed BRICS Consortium to address Post Covid challenges, tackling Non-Communicable Diseases as Flagship Programme whereas Russia proposed Sustainable Agro-biotechnology for Healthy Food & Nutrition, advanced Virtual Reality assisted technology for neurorehabilitation. China proposed flagship on Cancer research as Flagship Programme.
- This meeting is part of BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Calendar of Activities 2020-21 adopted by all BRICS countries. India has assumed the BRICS Presidency from January 2021.
Eni International Award
Why in News?
- Bharat Ratna Professor C.N.R. Rao has received the International Eni Award 2020 for research into renewable energy sources and energy storage, also called the Energy Frontier award.
- This is considered to be the Nobel Prize in Energy Research.
- Professor Rao has been working on hydrogen energy as the only source of energy for the benefit of all mankind.
- Hydrogen storage, photochemical and electrochemical production of hydrogen, solar production of hydrogen, and non-metallic catalysis were the highlights of his work.
- The Energy Frontiers award has been conferred for his work on metal oxides, carbon nanotubes, and other materials and two-dimensional systems, including graphene, boron-nitrogen-carbon hybrid materials, and molybdenum sulfide (Molybdenite – MoS2) for energy applications and green hydrogen production.
- The latter can, in fact, be achieved through various processes, including the photodissociation of water, thermal dissociation, and electrolysis activated by electricity produced from solar or wind energy.
- The Eni Awards 2020 will be presented on 14 October 2021, during an official ceremony held at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, attended by the President of the Italian Republic.
- The award, which has become internationally recognized over the years in the field of energy and environmental research, aims to promote better use of energy sources and encourage new generations of researchers in their work.
- It includes a cash prize and a specially minted gold medal.
Why in news?
- Ending weeks of unrest and farmers’ protests, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra formally scrapped the move to lift 5 tmc ft water from the Ujani dam in Solapur for irrigation purposes in Indapur, part of the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency.
Why Farmers protest in Solapur?
- Opposed the diversion of the Ujani dam water to Indapur in Baramati, which is the stronghold of the Pawar clan.
Why this Happen?
- Ujani dam water row erupted after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Minister of State Dattatreya Bharne, who is also the MLA from Indapur, decided to use some of the dam water for his own constituency.
Lunar Rover To Explore Moon’s South Pole
Why in News?
- Lockheed Martin and General Motors(GM) are partnering to develop a lunar vehicle for NASA’s first excursions on the moon’s south pole.
- It will be used in NASA’s upcoming Artemis programme to send humans to the unexplored part of the moon.
- Unlike the Apollo rovers, that only traveled 7.6 kilometers from the landing site, the new lunar vehicles is said to traverse farther distances to explore the moon’s south pole, which is cold and dark with more rugged terrain.
- Autonomous, self-driving systems will allow the rovers to prepare for human landings, provide commercial payload services, and enhance the range and utility of scientific payloads and experiments.
- GM has a history of developing navigation systems for Space explorations. It has also helped develop the electric Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) used on Apollo’s 15-17 missions.
Rising global temperatures
- There is now a 40% chance that global temperatures will temporarily reach 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels in the next five years — and these odds are rising, a U.N. report said.
- This does not yet mean that the world would already be crossing the long-term warming 1.5-degree threshold set by the Paris Climate Accord, which scientists warn is the ceiling to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
- The Paris Accord target looks at temperature over a 30-year average, rather than a single year.
- But it does underscore that “we are getting measurably and inexorably closer” to that threshold.
- Every year from 2021 through 2025 is likely to be at least 1℃ warmer, according to the study.
- The report also predicts a 90% chance that at least one of those years will become the warmest year on record, topping 2016 temperatures.
- In 2020 – one of the three warmest years on record – the global average temperature was 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline.
- Almost all regions are likely to be warmer in the next five years than in the recent past.
- Warming temperatures also affect regional and global precipitation. As temperatures rise, evaporation rates increase and warmer air can hold more moisture. Climate change also can shift circulation patterns in the atmosphere and ocean.
- The WMO report predicts an increased chance of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, that Africa’s Sahel and Australia will likely be wetter, and that the southwest of Northern America is likely to be drier.
Currency swap Bangladesh has approved for Sri Lanka
Why in News?
- Bangladesh’s central bank has approved a $ 200 million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka.
What is the arrangement?
- Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh’s central bank, has in principle approved a $200 m currency swap agreement with Sri Lanka, which will help Colombo tide over its foreign exchange crisis.
What is a currency swap?
- In this context, a currency swap is effectively a loan that Bangladesh will give to Sri Lanka in dollars, with an agreement that the debt will be repaid with interest in Sri Lankan rupees.
- For Sri Lanka, this is cheaper than borrowing from the market, and a lifeline as is it struggles to maintain adequate forex reserves even as repayment of its external debts looms.
- The period of the currency swap will be specified in the agreement.
Isn’t it unusual for Bangladesh to do this?
- Bangladesh has not been viewed so far as a provider of financial assistance to other countries. It has been among the most impoverished countries of the world, and still receives billions of dollars in financial aid.
- But over the last two decades, its economy has pulled itself up literally by the bootstraps, and in 2020, was the fastest growing in South Asia.
- Bangladesh’s economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2020, and is expected to grow by 6.8 per cent in 2021. The country has managed to pull millions out of poverty. Its per capita income just overtook India’s.
- This may be the first time that Bangladesh is extending a helping hand to another country.
- It is also the first time that Sri Lanka is borrowing from a SAARC country other than India.
UAE’s Golden Visa
Why in News?
- In 2019, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) implemented a new system for long-term residence visas, thereby enabling foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business.
- Recently Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt received his golden visa from the UAE government.
So, what does the Golden Visa offer?
- The Golden Visa system essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to the following groups: investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talents the likes of researchers, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students.
- The main benefit of the visa will be security as through the issuance of the Golden Visa, the UAE government has made it clear that they are committed to providing expatriates, investors and essentially everyone looking to make the UAE their home an extra reason to feel secure about their future.
Why Switzerland rejected an overarching EU treaty
Why in News?
- Switzerland recently said goodbye to years of negotiations with the European Union over a proposed overarching agreement that would have upgraded its relations with the bloc – which are currently governed by a patchwork of more than 120 bilateral deals.
- The talks failed after the two sides could not agree over issues such as full access for EU citizens to the Swiss labour market, and the collapse is expected to hamper future ties as the multiple existing agreements become outdated or lapse.
Ties between Switzerland and the EU
- Switzerland is the EU’s fourth-largest trading partner, and is surrounded by EU countries.
- Around 14 lakh EU citizens live in Switzerland, which has a total population of about 85 lakh. Some 3.4 lakh travel across the border to work in Swiss industries.
- The EU is Switzerland’s biggest trading destination, with the country exporting goods and services worth 160 billion euros to the bloc in 2020.
- Unlike the UK, Switzerland has access to the EU single market and maintains open borders.
So, what caused the talks to fail?
- The EU had been demanding full access for its citizens to Switzerland’s labour market, including for those seeking work.
- The Swiss federal council was against this happening, as it would have given non-Swiss citizens social security rights– something that Cassis called an unwanted “paradigm shift”.
- In 2014, the Swiss people approved a referendum called “Stop mass migration” aimed at limiting EU citizens in the country.
Largest Map Of The Universe’s Dark Matter
Why in News?
- Dark matter makes up about 27% of the universe, and its gravitational force is enough to mesh entire galaxies together in a structure known as the cosmic web.
- Now, scientists have created the largest ever map of this mysterious substance – and it could imply that there’s something wrong with Einstein’s theory of relativity.
- A map that covers a quarter of the sky of the southern hemisphere (an eighth of the total night sky visible from Earth).
- They have also mapped the location of vast cosmic voids where the conventional laws of physics may not apply.
- Astronomers are able to map the existence of dark matter by looking at light travelling to Earth from distant galaxies; if the light has been distorted, this means there is matter in the foreground, bending the light as it comes towards us.
- The map also brings us closer to understanding what the universe is made of and how it has evolved.
- According to the standard model of cosmology, the universe started with the big bang, and then it expanded and matter evolved according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which describes gravity.
- These gravitational forces are what created the clumps and voids of matter, which constitute the cosmic web.
Investing 0.1% of global GDP could avoid breakdown of ecosystems
- The world needs to quadruple its annual investment in nature if the climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises are to be tackled by the middle of the century, according to a new UN report.
- Investing just 0.1% of global GDP every year in restorative agriculture, forests, pollution management and protected areas to close a $4.1tn (£2.9tn) financial gap by 2050 could avoid the breakdown of natural ecosystem “services” such as clean water, food and flood protection.
- More than half of global GDP relies on high-functioning biodiversity but about a fifth of countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing due to the destruction of the natural world.
- Australia, Israel and South Africa were among the most threatened.
- The UNEP report, which looked at terrestrial nature-based solutions, urges governments to repurpose billions of dollars of damaging agricultural and fossil fuel subsidies to benefit nature and integrate the financial value of nature in decision-making.
- By 2050, governments and the private sector will need to spend $203bn on the management, conservation and restoration of forests around the world.
- About $133bn is invested in nature every year, often by national governments. Nearly two-thirds of that is spent on forest and peatland restoration, regenerative agriculture and natural pollution-control systems.
- Private investment in nature-based solutions accounts for only about 14% of the current total, according to the report, which said it needed to be scaled up through carbon markets, sustainable agricultural and forestry supply chains, and private finance.
Rapid heating of Indian Ocean worsening cyclones
- India’s cyclone season is being made more intense by the rapidly heating Indian Ocean, scientists have warned.
- Recently India was battered by Cyclone Tauktae, an unusually strong cyclone in the Arabian Sea, resulting in widespread disruption. Now another severe storm, Cyclone Yaas, formed in the Bay of Bengal.
- The Indian subcontinent has been facing the brunt of costly and deadly tropical cyclones for decades.
- But scientists say global heating is accelerating the rate of ocean warming, leading to an increased number of cyclones and rapid intensification of weak storms, with severe repercussions for the country.
- Cyclones are much more likely to gather intensity over warmer waters.
- The Arabian Sea, part of the west Indian Ocean, generally has a sea surface temperature of below 28C (82F), and recorded just 93 cyclones between 1891 and 2000.
- By comparison, the warmer Bay of Bengal in the east Indian Ocean, where temperatures are permanently above 28C, recorded 350 cyclones over the same period.
- Between 2001 and 2021, 28 cyclones formed in the Arabian Sea, along with a marked increase in storm intensity, fuelled by rising sea surface temperatures which reached as high as 31C (88F).
- The entire Indian Ocean is warming at a faster rate compared to the Atlantic or Pacific. And within the Indian Ocean, the western parts of the Indian Ocean are warming much more.
- The rapid intensification of weak storms into severe cyclones has been observed in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal over recent years. But the current forecasting models do not pick up rapid intensification in advance.
- India is especially vulnerable as 14% of its 1.3 billion population live in coastal districts, and the number living in coastal areas below 10 metres elevation is forecast to rise threefold by 2060.