Current Affairs Jun 28

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Why in News?

  • The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on 26 June every year with the aim to create awareness about issues related to drugs and strengthening action and cooperation in order to make the world free of drug abuse.
  • Every year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) prepares the World Drug Report which contains factual data and statistics to address the current drug problem.

Theme

  • The theme this year is “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives”. The theme promotes combating misinformation and sharing drugs-related facts as well as solutions for treatment to fight against the problem all over the world.
  • It aims to accomplish a vision of health for all based on science and highlights important statistics from the yearly World Drug Report.

History

  • The General Assembly, on 7 December, 1987, decided to mark 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking by resolution 42/112.
  • The assembly made the decision to observe this day as an expression of its resolution to make the international society free of drug abuse.

FirstPost

 

 

INS TABAR

Why in News?

  • Towards enhancing military cooperation with friendly nations, Indian Naval Ship Tabar commenced her prolonged deployment on 13 June and will visit a number of ports in Africa and Europe till end September.
  • During port visits, Tabar will conduct professional, social and sporting interactions. The ship will also participate in a number of joint exercises with friendly navies.
  • During the deployment, INS Tabar will transit across the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea and Baltic Sea while making port calls at Djibouti, Egypt, Italy, France, UK, Russia, Netherlands, Morocco, and Arctic Council countries like Sweden and Norway.
  • In addition to PASSEX with host navies of countries being visited, the ship is also scheduled to participate in bilateral exercises like Ex Konkan with Royal Navy, Ex Varuna with French Navy and Ex Indra with Russian Federation Navy.

About

  • INS Tabar, is a Talwar-class stealth Frigate built for Indian Navy in Russia.
  • The ship is equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors and is among the earliest stealth frigates of the Indian Navy.
  • The ship is part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet which is based at Mumbai under Western Naval Command.

PIB

 

 

Cost-effective, bio-compatible nanogenerators

Why in News?

  • Scientists have fabricated a simple, cost-effective, bio-compatible, transparent nanogenerator that can generate electricity from vibrations all around for use in optoelectronics, self-powered devices, and other biomedical applications.

Necessity?

  • Searching for renewable energy resources with reduced carbon emissions is one of the most urgent challenges due to the increasing threat of global warming and energy crisis.
  • Some of the unconventional methods to generate electricity include piezoelectric, thermoelectric, and electrostatic techniques used in devices like touch screens, electronic displays, and so forth.

How it works?

  • The triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) make use of mechanical energy in the form of vibrations present everywhere in different forms to generate electricity.
  • The energy harvesting TENG works on the principle of creation of electrostatic charges via instantaneous physical contact of two dissimilar materials followed by generation of potential difference when a mismatch is introduced between the two contacted surfaces through a mechanical force.
  • This mechanism drives the electrons to move back and forth between the conducting films coated on the back of the tribo layers.
  • The method employed till date to design TENG use expensive fabrication methods like photolithography or reactive ion etching, and additional process like electrode preparation and so on.
  • Researchers have designed a transparent TENG, using thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) either in the form of electrospun nanofibers or as a flat film using the simpler Doctor’s blade technique, along with Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as tribo layers.
  • TPU nanofibers are obtained from the electrospinning (ES) technique.
  • The Doctor’s blade technique, a routine procedure adapted in a variety of situations, squeezes the material through a blade and the substrate yielding a uniform thin layer.
  • The easy availability of the active material and the simplicity of the fabrication process make it cost-effective over currently available fabrication techniques.
  • The resulting device is also highly efficient, robust, and gives reproducible output over long hours of operation.

PIB

 

 

NTPC Declares its Energy Compact Goals

Why in News?

  • NTPC Limited, India’s largest power generating company under Ministry of Power has become first energy company in energy domain in India to declare its Energy Compact goals as part of UN High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE).
  • NTPC has set a target to install 60 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2032.
  • India’s largest power producer is also aiming at 10% reduction in net energy intensity by 2032.
  • NTPC is among the few organisations globally to declare its Energy Compact goals.
  • NTPC has declared that it will form at least 2 international alliances/groups to facilitate clean energy research and promote sustainability in energy value chain by 2025.
  • United Nations is set to convene a high-level dialogue in September, 2021 to promote the implementation of the energy-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

PIB

 

 

Do insects migrate? Which insect has the longest migration route?

  • Many dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, locusts and moths are known to migrate during the breeding season and the distance travelled varies with species. Most insects travel in large groups and scientists have been studying these movements for several years.
  • A recent study noted that the painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) can make 12,000 to 14,000 kilometre round trips.
  • This is the longest annual insect migration circuit so far known.
  • Found in sub-Saharan Africa, the butterfly is able to travel to Europe, crossing the Sahara Desert when weather conditions are favourable.
  • The caterpillars thrive in wetter winter conditions of sub-Saharan Africa and the adults migrate to North Africa during wet spring. They then cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.
  • Favourable tailwinds between Africa and Western Europe help these insects in transcontinental travel.
  • They fly about one to three kilometres above sea level with a maximum speed of around 6 metres per second.
  • The researchers studied a similar butterfly species and calculated that the painted lady may have enough body fat to sustain 40 hours of non-stop flying.

THE HINDU

 

 

Blindness burden in India

  • About 9.1% of the world’s population in 2019, 703 million people, were 65 and over: the result of an acceleration in the ageing of the world populace.
  • By 2050 it is estimated that this will rise to 1.5 billion (15.3%).
  • As populations age, there is an increasing disease burden of vision-related disorders.
  • Several of the most common reasons for blindness or moderate-to-severe visual impairment – cataract, under-corrected refractive error, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are avoidable if there are mechanisms available for early detection and intervention.
  • There are over 1.5 crore people over the age of 50 with cataracts in the world today. A further 8.6 crores have severe refractive errors which can be corrected by properly prescribed spectacles.
  • Peninsular India, comprising Karnataka, some eastern parts of Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Puduchery, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, has a population of about 36 crores. About 13 lakhs of these are blind, with 76 lakhs suffering from easily correctable cataracts and refractive errors.

THE HINDU

 

 

U.S. readying new rules for the tech giants

Why in News?

  • Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to advance six Bills outlawing business practices that sit at the core of tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
  • These Bills constitute the biggest action to come out of the anti-trust scrutiny these companies have been facing in the U.S. over the last few years.
  • While many nations have taken legal or legislative routes to limit the influence of the Big Four, this is the first major move on their home turf.

What is anti-trust?

  • Anti-trust is an American term for laws meant to prevent unfair business practices such as monopolisation, which leads to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices.
  • A prime example of anti-trust law in action is when Microsoft was sued in 1998 for giving away the Internet Explorer web browser for free with its Windows operating system, which led to the collapse of browser-maker Netscape.
  • Microsoft was found guilty of using its market dominance in operating systems to build a monopoly in browsers and was forced to open up Windows to other developers.
  • The major anti-trust laws in the U.S. are the Sherman Act of 1890 and the Clayton Act of 1914, with the Federal Trade Commission charged with upholding them.
  • A report submitted recently stated that since rise in consumer prices is the currently accepted indicator of unfair practices, it is difficult to gauge the actions of companies like Google and Facebook that make money off advertising and give many products away for free.
  • The new package of six Bills that is now in Congress is an attempt to add more teeth to anti-trust proceedings against new-age tech firms.

What’s in the Bills?

  • The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act would prevent big tech companies from nipping competition in the bud by buying up smaller rivals, like what Facebook had done by buying up Instagram for $1 billion.
  • The Ending Platform Monopolies Act would prevent companies from becoming players on their own platforms, like how Amazon sells its own brands, competing with smaller retailers that use its e-commerce platform; Apple’s chokehold over developers on App Store is another example.
  • The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act promotes interoperability, forcing platforms to let users take data such as contacts lists and profile information with them while migrating to other platforms.
  • The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act increases the government fee on large corporate mergers to help fund anti-trust law enforcement.
  • The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would prevent companies from giving preferences to their own products in the marketplaces they run, such as Google search results prioritising YouTube videos or Amazon highlighting its own brands.
  • The State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act would prevent companies from shifting anti-trust cases to courts that could be favourable to them.

How will the move impact India?

  • Any behavioural change that these companies may be forced to adopt in the U.S, which is their largest market, would likely be adopted in all their global markets as well.
  • India already has versions of some of these laws, such as the one that prevents Amazon from selling brands that it owns on its platform.
  • If implemented globally, a level playing field for brand visibility on Google and Amazon will benefit retailers in India.

THE HINDU

 

 

Meteorite provides clues to Earth’s mantle

  • On November 13, 2015, a meteorite fell near the town of Kamargaon in Assam, India. It weighed a little over 12 kg and scientists decoded its mineral composition and classified it as a chondrite, a variety of stony meteorite.
  • A new study has now shown that by studying this meteorite and its minerals we may find new clues about the Earth’s lower mantle.
  • The Earth has different layers – the upper, very thin crust, followed by the intermediate silicate mantle which starts from 30 km to 2,900 km depth, and then the centre iron-nickel alloy core.
  • The mantle faces high temperature and pressure.
  • So by studying these meteorites which may have experienced similar high pressure and temperature conditions, can understand the inaccessible mantle layer in detail.
  • Previous studies had noted that the Kamargaon meteorite contains minerals such as olivine, pyroxene, plagioclase and chromite.
  • Olivine is also found in Earth’s upper mantle. It is known to break down into bridgmanite and magnesiowustite in Earth’s lower mantle conditions.
  • This breaking down is an important reaction that controls the physical and chemical properties of the Earth’s interior.
  • This meteorite originated from the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, and was somehow sucked by Earth’s gravity.
  • By studying different meteorites, we can understand in detail about their parent body and in the process understand our own planet and its formation

THE HINDU

 

 

Why only some bacteria develop multi-drug resistance

  • It is not clear why some bacteria evolve multi-drug resistance while others do not. New research from the Population Biology Lab at IISER Pune could hold a key to this and a similar class of puzzles.
  • Multi-drug resistance is a menace in public health, however it is a fascinating problem to an evolutionary biologist who sees it from this angle: possessing multi-drug resistance implies that the bacteria is adept at handling multiple antibiotics simultaneously.
  • This would increase its fitness appreciably. Given that antibiotics exert a very strong selection pressure, it would appear that every bacteria in nature can become multi-drug resistant, which is not the case.
  • When bacteria become fit in one environment, they either lose fitness or fail to increase fitness in other environments.
  • Study is showing that when the environment is fluctuating, large (but not small) populations can by-pass this effect.
  • Small populations acquire a certain set of mutations which allow them to survive in one environment while paying a cost in others.
  • Large populations also develop these mutations but, in addition, have certain compensatory mutations that together give them fitness to survive in different environments.
  • Thus, population size determines the kind of mutations available to the bacteria, which in turn, leads to the type of fitness costs they evolve.
  • The larger populations contained greater number of mutations.
  • The smaller populations only had mutations related to metabolism of one kind of carbon source whereas the larger populations had known mutations for metabolism of multiple types of carbon sources.

THE HINDU

 

 

DMCA notices

Why in News?

  • Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology and for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad was locked out of his Twitter account for an hour allegedly over a notice received for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
  • The DMCA oversees the implementation of two 1996 treaties signed by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) member nations.

What is the DMCA and how does it ensure implementation of the WIPO treaties?

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a 1998 law passed in the US and is among the world’s first laws recognising intellectual property on the internet.
  • Signed into law by the then US President Bill Clinton, the law oversees the implementation of the two treaties signed and agreed upon by member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 1996.
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a 1998 law passed in the US and is among the world’s first laws recognising intellectual property on the internet.
  • Signed into law by the then US President Bill Clinton, the law oversees the implementation of the two treaties signed and agreed upon by member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 1996.

What is WIPO and how does it ensure protection of content on the internet?

  • With the rapid commercialisation of internet in late 1990s which started with static advertisement panels being displayed on the internet, it became important for website owners to get the user to spend more time on their webpage.
  • For this, fresh content was generated by creators and shared over the Internet.
  • The problem started when the content would be copied by unscrupulous websites or users, who did not generate content on their own.
  • Further, as the Internet expanded worldwide, websites from countries other than the one where the content originated, also started to copy the unique content generated by the websites.
  • To avoid this and bring to task the unauthorised copiers, the members of WIPO, which was established in 1967, also agreed to extend the copyright and intellectual property protection to digital content.
  • As of date, 193 nations across the world, including India, are members of WIPO.

Who can generate a DMCA notice and how are they sent to companies or websites?

  • Any content creator of any form, who believes that their original content has been copied by user or a website without authorisation can file an application citing their intellectual property has been stolen or violated.

About The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

  • It is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN) Pursuant to the 1967 Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO was created to promote and protect intellectual property (IP) across the world by cooperating with countries as well as international organizations.
  • It began operations on 26 April 1970 when the convention entered into force.
  • WIPO’s activities include hosting forums to discuss and shape international IP rules and policies, providing global services that register and protect IP in different countries, resolving transboundary IP disputes, helping connect IP systems through uniform standards and infrastructure, and serving as a general reference database on all IP matters; this includes providing reports and statistics on the state of IP protection or innovation both globally and in specific countries.

IE

 

Gujarat’s Prohibition Law

Why in News?

  • The Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949 is being challenged before the Gujarat High Court, more than seven decades after it came into effect as the Bombay Prohibition Act.

What is the origin of the prohibition law in western India and what was the rationale?

  • The first hint at the prohibition of liquor was through the Bombay Abkari Act, 1878.
  • This Act dealt with levying of duties on intoxicants, among other things and aspects of prohibition via amendments made in 1939 and 1947.
  • As per the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ published in the Bombay Government Gazette on December 28, 1948, the policy of prohibition was initiated in 1939 and soon after its initiation “the popular government went out of office and for various reasons the enforcement of the policy remained dormant”.
  • Then in 1940, the government reconsidered the question of prohibition and it was decided to undertake and enforce a policy of “total prohibition” in the whole of the Province of Bombay on the basis of a four-year plan.
  • As per this document, it was stated that there were “many lacuna” in the Bombay Abkari Act, 1878, from the point of view of the government’s decision to enforce prohibition.
  • The government deemed it fit to “remove the defects and bring within the orbit of the Act many offences which went unpunished under the law,” and in order to enforce the policy of total prohibition “effectually,” it was considered to “overhaul the law relating to intoxicating drugs and narcotics and to embody the same into one legislative enactment,” leading to the birth of Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949.
  • However, the statement does not explain why such a prohibition law was deemed to be necessary in the first place.
  • While following the reorganisation of Bombay province into the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960 there was continued amendment and liberalisation in the state of Maharashtra, especially in 1963, on the ground that liberalisation of the law was necessary to check the business of illicit liquor, Gujarat adopted the prohibition policy since 1960 and subsequently chose to enforce it with greater rigidity, but also made processes easier for foreign tourists and visitors to get liquor permits.

IE

 

 

Vaccine hesitancy

Why in News?

  • In rural India concerns about COVID-19 vaccines are now increasingly commonplace.
  • People voice their concern about what will happen to them if they get vaccinated and have doubts that the government is sending inferior quality vaccines to them.
  • In contrast, urban vaccination sites face increased demand, especially in the 18-45 age group, and vaccine shortage is a major issue.

Vaccine hesitancy

  • Vaccine hesitancy is not a recent phenomenon. It is neither limited to a particular community or country, nor have we seen it only in the context of COVID-19.
  • Various studies have shown that the acceptance of vaccines among African-American communities is relatively low in the U.S. Polls have also shown significant hesitancy among Hispanics and people in rural areas.

Tuskegee experiment

  • This public health study which began in 1932 tested the progression of syphilis, while leaving many African-American participants without treatment for 40 years.
  • Several participants experienced health complications, infected their partners and died due to their untreated syphilis.
  • This experiment is believed to have left an indelible scar in the minds of many people of colour who now continue to carry deep mistrust for public health functionaries and vaccines.

THE HINDU

 

 

New Zealand to ban most single-use plastics by 2025

  • Currently one of the top 10 per-capita producers of landfill waste in the world, New Zealand has announced it will ban a swathe of single-use plastics, including cotton buds, bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws and fruit labels.
  • Every day, New Zealanders throw away an estimated 159g of plastic waste per person, making some of the highest waste generators in the world.
  • New Zealand had already banned most single-use plastic bags in 2019, but the changes will include packaging for produce, as well as a range of other items.
  • These steps follow similar bans overseas: outlawing plastic bags is now common around the world, and the UK introduced a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in 2020.
  • The EU has voted for a similar ban to be introduced this year.

THE GUARDIAN

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