Facts Corner-Part-145

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Pinwheel star system

  • An international team of researchers has now discovered a new, massive star system with the help of European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.
  • Named Apep, this star system is about 8,000 light years away from Earth and has “pinwheel” shaped dust winds around it.
  • The researchers note that the dust pinwheel is moving slower than the wind in the system, raising more questions about stars and star deaths, as we know it.

Impact Based Forecasting Approach

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has developed a new technology to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain.
  • The technology, called ‘Impact Based Forecasting Approach‘, which shows pre-event scenario, can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rain and take real-time decisions.
  • Impact-based forecasting Approach and warning services aim to improve the synergy between stakeholders and citizens that play a role in an (e.g. flood) crisis.
  • It will help by bridging the gaps between the four components for an effective early warning system:
    • Risk knowledge,
    • Monitoring and warning service
    • Dissemination and communication and
    • Response capability

DIVA vaccine

  • Researchers from the UK and India, including a team from the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, have jointly developed a ‘smart’ vaccine which has the potential to help eradicate goat plague.
  • The major contribution from British scientists were providing a template for developing a smart vaccine, which is also called DIVA vaccine.
  • It is one of the first smart Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccines that help distinguish between animals which are vaccinated and infected, which is impossible with conventional live or killed virus vaccines.
  • These vaccines induce the immune response which is different from that induced by natural infection.
  • Goat plague or Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), is a highly contagious viral disease that afflicts goats and sheep in many parts of the country.
  • The disease kills small ruminants in large numbers unless they are vaccinated.
  • Apart from India, goat plague is prevalent in many African countries, West Asia, China and Mongolia.

India Skills Report 2019

  • It is a joint initiative of Wheebox, a Global Talent Assessment Company, PeopleStrong, a leading HR Tech Company and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and supported and backed by renowned partners like United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Association of Indian Universities (AIU).
  • Andhra Pradesh has topped the list of states with the highest employability in India.
  • India skills report also stated that Andhra Pradesh is one of the preferred hiring destination and one of the most preferred state of work by both Male and female workforces.

Sangai Festival

  • Sangai Festival showcasing Manipur’s rich cultural heritage, adventure activities inaugurated at Hapta Kangjeibung which is the historic palace compound in Imphal.
  • It is the grandest festival of state named after state animal, Sangai.
  • The festival aims to promote Manipur as a world-class tourism destination.
  • The focus areas of the festival are Manipur’s rich cultural heritage and love for the art of various tribes inhabiting the state.
  • It also showcases ‘Ras Leela’, state’s classical dance form along with various other folk dance performances like Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Kabui Naga dance, Lai Haraoba dance, Khamba Thoibi dance etc.

Mining metals

  • India has obtained a licence from International Seabed Authority, an inter-governmental body which regulates all minerals (non-living resources), to mine these metals in 18,000 sq km area. 

Vanuatu

  • The Vanuatu has warned that the island nation could initiate legal action against fossil fuel companies that continue to exploit the environment.
  • The legal action is also taken for those countries that facilitate the industry for failing to stop environment exploitation and the subsequent impacts of climate change.
  • Vanuatu is a Pacific island country located in the South Pacific Ocean, with a population of roughly 260,000.
  • The nation comprises 82 volcanic islands dispersed across 1,280 km of sea.

Nari Sashaktikaran Sankalp Abhiyan

  • Recently Nari Sashaktikaran Sankalp Abhiyan or Women Empowerment campaign was launched by Uttar Pradesh government.
  • The campaign is aimed to empower women in the state through various programmes.
  • It includes many issues like education, self-employment, health, cleanliness, nutrition.
  • During the campaign, women officers and female staff of the state government will go door-to-door in villages of their respective blocks in every district and inform and educate women about the schemes being run by central and state governments for their welfare and security.

Drug Control General of India

  • DCGI under gamut of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is responsible for approval of licenses of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, vaccines, IV fluids and sera in India.
  • DCGI lays down standards and quality of manufacturing, selling, import and distribution of drugs in India.
  • It acts as appellate authority in case of any dispute regarding quality of drugs.
  • It prepares and maintains national reference standard.
  • It brings about uniformity in enforcement of Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • It trains Drug Analysts deputed by State Drug Control Laboratories and other Institutions.

Ortolan bunting

  • Ortolan bunting is a small bird which breeds from Mongolia to Europe and migrates to Africa via the Middle East.
  • These birds are native to most European countries and western Asia.
  • It reaches as far north as Scandinavia and beyond the Arctic Circle, frequenting cornfields and their neighbourhoods.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species has placed Ortolan bunting in 2018 at the “Least Concern” category.

Virtual Climate Summit

  • It is an innovative climate summit which is an entirely online event to be a carbon neutral event.
  • It is the world’s first ever political global meeting to be held in online.
  • Its focus is on to renew political momentum in tackling climate change.
  • It was announced in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) assembly recently held in Vietnam.
  • It is the brainchild of Marshall Islands President who insisted upon such summit in the GEF assembly.
  • The summit is convened by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in its capacity as the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) chair.
  • Its main aim is to encourage the international community to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Climate Vulnerable Forum

  • The climate vulnerable forum is an international partnership of countries highly vulnerable to a warming planet.
  • The Forum serves as a South-South cooperation platform for participating governments to act together to deal with global climate change.
  • It brings together climate vulnerable developing countries from across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.
  • The forum held its first meeting in Maldives in the year 2009.
  • CVF High-level meeting was last convened during the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21).
  • The Manila-Paris Declaration and the 2016-2018 Roadmap of the CVF, adopted at this meeting, spell out the CVF’s planned efforts during this time period.
  • The forum has a rotating chairmanship that has been held by Maldives, Kiribati, Bangladesh, Costa Rica and Philippines, Ethiopia and currently held by Republic of Marshall.

What are Hantaviruses?

  • First identified in 1993, hantaviruses cause severe and sometimes fatal respiratory infections and are known to infect lung cells.
  • Though relatively rare, infections caused by them are expected to increase in the coming decades as temperatures across the globe rise due to climate change.
  • The danger is that we are totally unprepared for this possibility.
  • Hantavirus is transmitted to humans who inhale the virus from the urine, faeces, or saliva of infected rodents.
  • Infection with hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
  • Early HPS symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, followed after a week or so by coughing and shortness of breath.
  • HPS has a mortality rate of around 40%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No treatments or vaccines are available. 

UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

  • Recently the Australian government has recently decided to withdraw from the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
  • Earlier, USA, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland had withdrawn from the agreement.
  • The agreement was signed in the UNGA by adopting a political declaration “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” in 2016.
  • The declaration pledged to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education.
  • The pact is not binding on member countries.
  • It is aiming to make migration all over the world safer.
  • It addresses issues such as how to protect migrants and how to integrate them into new countries or how to return them to their original home countries.
  • Under the agenda, member States committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration.

Data City Programme

  • The programme was launched by the State government of Karnataka in Bengaluru.
  • The programme aims at solving burning issues of the city using innovative solutions developed by startups from a pool of applications.
  • It is a 7 month long programme where the corporates, startups, government agencies and citizens will work closely to find solutions of city’s growing issues.
  • It is the first Data City programme launched in Asia.
  • The State government has entered into a partnership with NUMA, an international innovation and learning hub, and SUEZ, a France based utility company for this project.

CRISPR

  • CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.
  • CRISPR – Cas9 is the most prominent genome editing technique .
  • It allows researchers to permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms.
  • This can be used to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome to treat genetic causes of diseases.
  • Correcting the mutation in an embryo ensures that the child is born healthy and the defective gene is not passed on to future generations.
  • The gene editing tool has two components  –
  1. A single-guide RNA (sgRNA) that contains a sequence that can bind to DNA.
  2. The Cas9 enzyme which acts as a molecular scissor that can cleave DNA.

The Indian star tortoise

  • Indian Star Tortoises is categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ in the red list of endangered species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
  • The species are also listed in the Schedule IV of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and prohibited from export under the Foreign Trade Policy.
  • The species are liable for confiscation under the Customs Act, 1962. 
  • The CWS is the only place in Kerala where star tortoises are known to occur in the wild. 
  • An ambitious project of the Kerala Forest Department at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) to rehabilitate Indian star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) seized from smugglers has turned into a major success. This makes the CWS the only rehabilitation centre for star tortoises in the country.