Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) scheme
Why in News?
- To empower the farmers through Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) scheme, Government of India has released funds for various activities of Farm Mechanization like
- Establishment of Custom Hiring Centres, Farm Machinery Bank, High-tech Hubs and distribution of various agricultural machinery etc to different states.
- Agricultural Mechanization plays a vital role in optimizing the use of land, water energy resources, manpower and other inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc to maximize the productivity of the available cultivable area and make agriculture a more profitable and attractive profession for rural youth.
- Agricultural Mechanization is one of the key drivers for the sustainable development of the agriculture sector.
- Sustainable Agriculture mechanization growth will require appropriate and precision agricultural machinery adequately supported by the latest technology.
About Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)
- Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched a Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) in 2014-15 with the objectives of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions & difficult area where farm power availability is low.
- To boost up mechanization in the agriculture sector improved agricultural implements and machinery are essential inputs for modern agriculture that enhance the productivity of crops besides reducing human drudgery and cost of cultivation.
- For strengthening of agricultural mechanization in the country and to bring more inclusiveness Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) has been introduced with the main objectives of are to promote ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ and ‘Hi-tech Hubs of High-Value Machines’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small and fragmented landholding and high cost of individual ownership; Creating awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities and ensuring performance testing and certification of agricultural machines at designated testing centres located all over the country.
Rules for Accredited Driver Training Centers
Why in News?
- The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has notified rules mandatory for accredited Drivers Training Centers.
- These rules will come into effect from 01st July, 2021.
- This will help in imparting proper training and knowledge to candidates who enroll at such centers.
The salient features of Accredited Driver Training Centers are as under:-
- The centre shall be equipped with simulators and dedicated driving test track to provide high quality training to candidates.
- Remedial and refresher courses, as per the requirements under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, can be availed at these centers.
- The candidates, who successfully pass the test at these centers, will be exempted from the driving test requirement at the time of applying for driving license, which is currently being taken at the Regional Transport Office (RTO). This will help the drivers in getting the driving license after completing training from such accredited driving training centers.
- These centers are allowed to provide industry- specific specialized training as well.
- Shortage of skilled drivers is one of the major issues in the Indian roadways sector and a large number of road accidents occur due to lack of knowledge of road regulations.
- Section 8 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 empowers the Central Government to make rules regarding accreditation of Driver Training Centers.
Why in News?
- Deep down in the ocean, marine sediments move over the base of the ocean, shaping the probability of geohazards.
- Scientists have now used 3D seismic data to understand the interaction between bottom surface of marine sediments and the seafloor in the northern Taranaki basin offshore New Zealand. This can help apprehend the precursors of marine geohazards.
- Marine geohazards take place when the seafloor is unstable and is not able to withstand the transport processes of marine sediments from landwards deep into the ocean bottom. In such a situation, placement of drilling rigs becomes hazardous due to instability of the seabed.
- While understanding marine sediments’ interaction during their flow over the seabed is crucial to detect triggers of marine hazards like landslides, associated morphological investigation is a very challenging task, and geophysical/seismic prospecting methods are essential for it.
- Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) and scientists from Norway and Switzerland used high-resolution 3D seismic data to unravel geomorphology of recurrent cases of movement of soil, sand, regolith, and rock downslope like a solid in Taranaki basin off New Zealand. This is technically called mass wasting of sediments.
- With the help of 3D seismic data, the study offers a unique approach to comprehend the recurrent mass wasting processes and also understand how the seabed interacts with the bottom surface of marine sediments.
- The geological period between 23.03 and 2.5 Million years ago called Neogene succession preserves vertical stacks of mass transport deposits (MTDs) from the Miocene to Pliocene — different epochs that fall within the Neogene geological period.
- The study will help understand different flow mechanisms associated with sediment movement over the seafloor.
Why in News?
- Scientists tracing the concentration, size and evolution of aerosol particles smaller than 3 nanometres at an urban location in India have found frequent formation of sub-3nm aerosol particles in the atmosphere.
- This has critical importance as a major fraction of these newly formed particles can reach to sizes of cloud condensation nuclei where they have climatic impacts.
- The formation of small molecular clusters of sub-3nm size is technically called aerosol nucleation, and subsequent growth of these newly formed clusters to the large sizes is called atmospheric new particle formation (NPF).
- NPF occurs everywhere in the terrestrial troposphere, and therefore it is a large source of aerosol numbers to the atmosphere.
- Scientists from the University of Hyderabad used AIRMODUS nano Condensation Nucleus Counter (nCNC) to measure particle size distribution in the size range of 1 to 3 nm.
- The research showed that a pool of sub-3nm particles is often present in the atmosphere, but how fast these clusters grow depends on various factors.
- The scientists observed that only half of these events showed newly formed molecular clusters growing past 10 nm size.
- Thus particle size distributions display a conventional banana-shaped aerosol growth, which is indicative of regional NPF event.
- The team found a strong positive correlation between sub-3nm particle concentrations and sulphuric acid concentrations, confirming the potential role of sulfuric acid in the formation of sub-3nm particles.
- While NPF often starts with sulphuric acid in the atmosphere, sulphuric acid alone fails to explain observed particle formation and growth rates in the atmosphere.
- Other vapours such as ammonia, amines and organics play a crucial role in the growth of newly formed particles.
- Moreover, these newly formed particles did not always grow to large sizes, and the team hypothesized that the particle growth was limited by lower concentrations of condensable vapours such as organic compounds, calling for research using state-of-the-art instrumentation to understand the mechanisms driving NPF in diverse environments across India.
Joint R&D and technology transfer with Russia
Why in News?
- Three Indian S&T-led small-to-medium enterprises/ Start-ups have been selected to undertake joint R&D and technology transfer projects under the India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Program.
- Two of the selected companies – Prantae Solutions and Jayon Implants are being funded under joint R&D Projects, and the third company, Ananya Technologies, has been funded for technology adoption from Russia.
- The India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Program is a joint initiative of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India, and the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE).
- On the Indian side, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) is implementing this program on behalf of DST.
- The India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialization Program was launched in July 2020 as a bilateral initiative between India and Russia to foster collaboration in Science, Technology and Innovation.
Pharma Cluster in Uttar Pradesh
Why in News?
- CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow is committed to support Pharma Cluster in Uttar Pradesh and has tied up with UP-based Marc Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., India, a young progressive enterprise with operating base in 13 other states.
- It has signed an agreement for the development of a synthetic compound S-007-867 as modulator of blood coagulation cascade, in particular as inhibitor of collagen induced platelet aggregation. This may be helpful in treating patient population of coronary and cerebral artery diseases.
- Arterial thrombosis is an acute complication that develops on the chronic lesions of atherosclerosis leading to heart attack and stroke.
- Therefore, inhibition of platelet collagen interaction is anticipated to be a promising therapeutic strategy to treat intravascular thrombosis.
- The compound S-007-867 significantly inhibits collagen mediated platelet activation and subsequently reduces the release of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from dense granules and thromboxane A2 via COX1 activation.
- Thus, it effectively maintains blood flow velocity and delays vascular occlusion (blockage of the blood vessel, usually with a clot) and inhibits thrombogenesis (formation of blood clot) without compromising hemostasis.
- This drug has less bleeding risk as compared to presently existing therapies for coronary and cerebral artery diseases.
- Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an organic compound and hydrotrope that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells, such as muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, condensate dissolution, and chemical synthesis.
- Thromboxane A2 (TXA2) is a type of thromboxane that is produced by activated platelets during hemostasis and has prothrombotic properties: it stimulates activation of new platelets as well as increases platelet aggregation.
UNDP Report Lauds Aspirational Districts Programme
Why in News?
- In an independent appraisal report released recently, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India has lauded the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) as ‘a very successful model of local area development’ that ‘should serve as a best practice for several other countries where regional disparities in development status persist for many reasons’.
- Due to concerted efforts made under the ADP, previously neglected districts, including those in remote locations and those affected by Left Wing Extremism, ‘have experienced more growth and development in the last three years than ever before’.
- UNDP’s analysis across the 5 key sectors of the ADP—health and nutrition; education; agriculture and water resources; basic infrastructure; and skill development and financial inclusion—found that the programme has acted as a catalyst for expediting development in these districts.
- According to the report, while health and nutrition, education, and to a certain extent, agriculture and water resources, have registered massive improvements, the other indicators despite making significant strides offer scope for further strengthening.
The Aspirational Districts Programme
- It was launched by the Prime Minister in January 2018 as a part of the government’s effort to raise the living standards of its citizens and ensure inclusive growth for all, ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’.
- The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ Programme aims to expeditiously improve the socio-economic status of 117 districts from across 28 states.
- The three core principles of the programme are –
- Convergence (of Central & State Schemes),
- Collaboration (among citizens and functionaries of Central & State Governments including district teams), and
- Competition among districts.
- Driven primarily by the States, this initiative focuses on the strengths of each district, and prioritizes the attainable outcomes for immediate improvement.
- The programme focusses on 5 main themes – Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure, which have direct bearing on the quality of life and economic productivity of citizens.
Why in News?
- Fifteen books were recognized as winners or finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, in the categories of fiction, general history, biography, poetry and general nonfiction
- ‘The Night Watchman,’ by Louise Erdrich
- ‘Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America,’ by Marcia Chatelain
- ‘The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X,’ by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
- ‘Postcolonial Love Poem,’ by Natalie Diaz
- GENERAL NONFICTION
- ‘Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy,’ by David Zucchino
About Pulitzer Prize
- The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition.
- It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City.
- Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories.
- In twenty of these, each winner receives a certificate and a US$10,000 cash award.
Fall in e-waste generation
Why in News?
- Lower consumption of electronic and electrical devices in the first nine months of 2020 (compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario) led to a drop in e-waste generation by 4.9 million metric tonnes.
- But low- and middle-income countries reported a 30% fall in e-waste, compared to just 5% in high-income countries, according to a report, by the United Nations University and the UN Institute for Training and Research.
- The inequality in e-waste generation indicates a growing digital divide between rich and poor countries.
- The largest reductions were found in Northern Africa, Western Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia, that have inadequate e-waste management infrastructure.
- United Nations University (UNU) is an autonomous component of the UN General Assembly focusing on global issues of human security development and welfare.
- The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a training arm of the United Nations with a mission of developing the individual, institutional, and organisational capacity of countries and other United Nations stakeholders.
Cooperation on recruitment of domestic workers
Why in News?
- India and Kuwait have signed an MoU that brings Indian domestic workers in the Gulf nation within the ambit of a legal framework that streamlines their recruitment and provides them with the protection of the law.
- Indian External Affairs Minister arrived at Kuwait city on his first bilateral visit to the oil-rich Gulf nation.
- This will introduce an employment contract ensuring the rights and obligations of both the employer and the domestic workers.
- The MoU seeks to establish a mechanism for 24-hour assistance to domestic workers. It provides for the establishment of a joint committee for periodic review and assessment and to follow up the implementation of the MoU which will conduct annual meetings.
- Around one million (ten lakh) Indians reside in Kuwait. India is amongst the largest trading partners of Kuwait and the Gulf nation is a major supplier of oil to India.
Ghana plants 5 million trees in a single day
Why in News?
- Ghana aimed to plant at least 5 million trees in a single day to help regrow the country’s lost forests and curb the impacts of climate change.
- The expansion of farming, and to a lesser degree mining and logging, has led to high levels of deforestation in Ghana.
- Forest cover in the West African gold miner has dwindled to less than a fifth of what it was in the 1990s.
- Also planted a seedling of lignum vitae, one of the world’s strongest hardwoods. The species is locally referred to as the “Tree of Life” for its medicinal qualities.
- The government plans for Green Ghana Day to become an annual event, with an ambitious goal of expanding the day’s planting target from 5 million to 100 million trees by 2024.
EnVision mission to Venus
Why in News?
- The European Space Agency (ESA) announced that it has selected EnVision as its next orbiter that will visit Venus sometime in the 2030s.
- Recently NASA selected two missions to the planet Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbour. The missions called DAVINCI+ and VERITAS have been selected based on their potential for scientific value and the feasibility of their development plans.
- NASA is expected to allot $500 million to each of these missions that will launch between 2028-2030.
So what is EnVision?
- EnVision is an ESA led mission with contributions from NASA.
- It is likely to be launched sometime in the 2030s.
- The earliest launch opportunity for EnVision is 2031, followed by 2032 and 2033.
- Once launched on an Ariane 6 rocket, the spacecraft will take about 15 months to reach Venus and will take 16 more months to achieve orbit circularisation.
- To study the planet’s atmosphere and surface, monitor trace gases in the atmosphere and analyse its surface composition. A radar provided by NASA will help to image and map the surface.
- EnVision will follow another ESA-led mission to Venus called ‘Venus Express’ (2005-2014) that focussed on atmospheric research and pointed to volcanic hotspots on the planet’s surface.
- Other than this, Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has also been studying the planet’s atmosphere since 2015.
Protection of ‘heritage trees’
Why in News?
- The Maharashtra government will make amendments to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act of 1975, to introduce provisions for the protection of ‘heritage trees’.
What are heritage trees?
- Under the proposed amendment, a tree with an estimated age of 50 years or more shall be defined as a heritage tree. It may belong to specific species, which will be notified from time to time.
- In addition to the age, the state climate change department (which will be implementing the Tree Act), should also consider a tree’s rarity, its botanical, historical, religious, mythological and cultural importance in defining a heritage tree.
- The local Tree Authority will have to ensure tree census to be carried out every five years along with counting of heritage trees.
How is the age of the tree determined?
- The most common method of determining the age of the tree is Dendrochronology – or tree-ring dating also called growth rings.
- Each year, roughly a tree adds to its girth, the new growth is called a tree ring.
- By counting the rings of a tree, the age can be determined. However, the process is invasive. To analyse the rings, core samples are extracted using a borer that’s screwed into the tree and pulled out, bringing with it a straw-size sample of wood. The hole in the tree is then sealed to prevent disease.
Why was the concept of heritage tree introduced?
- A heritage tree will get special protection. Crucially, the tree’s age will determine the number of trees to be planted as part of the compensatory plantation – that is anyone cutting a heritage tree will need to plant trees in the same numbers as the cut tree’s age.
- The Group of 7 (G7) is an informal group of seven countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, the heads of which hold an annual summit with European Union and other invitees.
- Together the member countries represent 40% of global GDP and 10% of the world’s population.
- Unlike other bodies such as NATO, the G7 has no legal existence, permanent secretariat or official members.
- It also has no binding impact on policy and all decisions and commitments made at G7 meetings need to be ratified independently by governing bodies of member states.
- The G7 draws its roots from a meeting between the current G7 members, excluding Canada, that took place in 1975. At the time, the global economy was in a state of recession due to the OPEC oil embargo.
- As the energy crisis was escalating, US Treasury Secretary George Schultz decided that it would be beneficial for the large players on the world stage to coordinate with each other on macroeconomic initiatives.
- After this first summit, the countries agreed to meet annually and a year later, Canada was invited into the group which marked the official formation of the G7.
- The President of the European Commission was asked to join the meetings in 1977 and following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a subsequent thaw in relations between the East and West, Russia was also invited to join the group in 1998.
- Thereafter the group was named the G8 until 2014, when Russia was expelled for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
- The presidency of G7 meetings is held by each of the seven countries in turn, each year. The country holding the presidency is responsible for organising and hosting the meeting. The UK holds the G7 presidency for 2021.
- The G7 summit provides a forum for member countries to discuss shared values and concerns. While it initially focused on international economic policy, in the 1980s, the G7 extended its mandate to include issues related to foreign policy and security as well.
- In recent years, G7 leaders have met to formulate common responses to challenges encompassing counterterrorism, development, education, health, human rights and climate change.
Motor neurone disease (MND)
- Regular strenuous exercise raises the risk of developing motor neurone disease (MND) in people who are genetically predisposed to the condition, researchers say.
- The life-time risk of developing MND is about 1 in 400, but previous studies have suggested it is six times greater in professional football players compared with the general population.
- With vigorous exercise, activity levels changed for many of the genes linked to the condition, while individuals with a mutation that accounts for 10% of MND developed the disease earlier if they took part in regular, high-intensity exercise.
- MND, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
- As the disease progresses, messages from the nerves are disrupted and eventually stop reaching muscles, leading them to stiffen and waste.
- The disease can dramatically impair people’s ability to move their limbs, talk, eat and breathe.
- While about 10% of cases are inherited, the remainder are caused by a complex interaction between genes and the environment.