Press Information Bureau for IAS/UPSC Exam
Weekly Analysis May 15-21 2020
Protocol on Transit and Trade
- Recently Bangladesh and India have added new ports and routes under have a long standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways of both countries.
- This Protocol, which was first signed in 1972 (immediately after independence of Bangladesh).
- It was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years giving long term assurance to various stakeholders.
Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes
- The number of Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes are being increased from 8 to 10
- New locations are also added to the existing routes.
- Inclusion of Sonamura– Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti river.
- Operationalization of Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi Routes and their extension up to Aricha which will help the augmentation of infrastructure in Bangladesh
- Kolaghat in India and Ghorasal in Bangladesh has also been added.
Ports of Call (An Intermediate Stop for ship on its scheduled journey for cargo operation)
- Presently there are six Ports of Call each in India and Bangladesh under the Protocol.
- Inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan.
- Jogigopha also becomes important, since, a Multimodal Logistics Park is proposed to be established there.
- Both sides have agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India) through the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels.
- The Indian transit cargo is mainly coal, fly-ash, Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) for power projects in North East region.
Coir Geo Textiles
- National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency(NRIDA) has announced that coir geo textiles will be used for construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY-III).
What is Coir geotextiles?
- a woven net material made of coconut husk.
- used to check soil erosion, road-building and renovation of water bodies and landfills.
- It is naturally resistant to rot, molds and moisture
- free from any microbial attack
- it needs no chemical treatment.
- It has the right strength, permeability and durability to protect the slopes from erosion while allowing vegetation to flourish.
- It has apermeable, natural and strong fabricwith high durability.
- It protects the land surface and promotes quick vegetation.
- It is totally biodegradable,and helps in soil stabilisation.
- It can dissipate the energy of flowing water and absorb the excess solar radiation.
Inputs– Geotextile: It refers to a permeable synthetic textile material. Generally it is produced from polyester or polypropylene polymers. They are used to increase soil stability, provide erosion control or aid in drainage.
100% solarisation of Konark Sun temple
Government of India has launched a scheme for 100% solarisation of Konark sun temple and Konark town in Odisha.
- Objective: To develop the historical Sun temple town of Konark in Odisha as ‘Surya Nagri’ and to convey a message of synergy between the modern use of solar energy and the ancient Sun Temple.
- Implementation: Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency.
- Plan: It envisages setting up of the 10-MW grid connected solar project and various solar off-grid applications such as solar trees, solar drinking water kiosks and off-grid solar power plants with battery storage.
- Funding: 100% Central Financial assistance(CFA) support through the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
Konark Sun Temple:
- built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1238-1264) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and is located near the sacred city of Puri, Odisha.
- a classic example of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
- a World Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO.
- carefully oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance.
- known as Black Pagoda due to its tower which appeared as black
- used as a navigational landmark by sailors to Odisha.
Agappe Chitra Magna
- Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in collaboration with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd has commercially launched the Agappe Chitra Magna Kit for detection of Covid-19.
Agappe Chitra Magna
- a magnetic nanoparticle-based RiboNucleic Acid (RNA) extraction kit for use during testing for the detection of COVID-19.
- The kit can be used for RNA extraction for RT-LAMP, RT-PCR and other isothermal and Polymerase Chain Reaction(PCR) based protocols for the detection of COVID-19.
Reverse Transcription-based Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP):
- a technique for the amplification of RNA.
- used in the detection of viruses.
- In this method, a DNA copy of the viral RNA is generated by reverse transcriptase and then isothermal amplification is carried out to increase the amount of total DNA.
Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction(RT-PCR) Tests:
- a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen including a virus.
Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities
- The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA) has launched the Protocol for Star Rating of Garbage Free cities.
- to enable cities to gradually evolve into a model (7-star) city, with progressive improvements in their overall cleanliness.
- aspirational in nature, feeding cities’ ambitions and dreams of becoming an ideal city for its residents, and a role model for other cities to follow.
Star Ratings Cities
- The government has now declared India’s top garbage-free cities, also revealing names of the 5-star garbage-free cities, with six cities getting this honour recently.
- 141 cities were rated in total, 65 of them got a 3-star rating, while 70 cities got 1-star rating.
- According to a statement by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, cities that got the 5-star rating are Mysuru, Ambikapur, Rajkot, Surat, Navi Mumbai, and Indore.
National Migrant Information System (NMIS)
- National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) has developed an online Dashboard called National Migrant Information System(NMIS).
An online dashboard to
- monitor and facilitate the inter state movement of migrant workers and their contact-tracing during lockdown across the country.
- The key data pertaining to the persons migrating has been standardized for uploading such as name, age, mobile no., originating and destination district, date of travel etc.
- States will be able to visualize how many people are going out from where and how many are reaching their destination States.
- It has additional advantages like contact tracing, which may be useful in overall Covid-19 response work.
Social Protection Response Programme
- Recently, the World Bank has approved USD 1 billion for accelerating India’s Covid-19 Social Protection Response Programme.
- With this announcement, commitment from the World Bank towards emergency Covid-19 response in India has reached to USD 2 billion.
This new support will be funded in two phases –
- an immediate allocation of $750 million for fiscal year 2020 and
- a $250 million second tranche that will be made available for fiscal year 2021.
- The first phaseof the operation will be implemented countrywide through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana(PMGKY).
- In the second phase, the programme will deepen the social protection package, whereby additional cash and in-kind benefits based on local needs will be extended through state governments and portable social protection delivery systems.
PM eVidya program
- The finance minister has announced PM eVidya program for students.
- This program is announced for the top 100 universities of the country and for schools also.
- Under this program, online education courses will be allowed.
Objectives Of PM eVidya Program
- to educate students through digital platforms so that the education of students does not suffer due to nationwide lockdown
Benefits Of PM eVidya Program
- Students will get education sitting at home
- It will be a one-stop solution for all learning needs of students
- Special radio podcast will arrange for visually and hearing-impaired students
- Students can study through e-content
- Dedicated channel for education on tv will help students who do not have access to internet
- Union Finance Minister had announced that Manodarpan is being launched for the psychological well being of students, family members and teachers during the time of covid 19 pandemic.
- Manodarpan initiative provides psychological counselling through website, toll free helpline, national directory of counsellors and through interactive chat platform.
- Recently, the Defence Minister of India has commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet and two Interceptor Boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451 in Goa via video conference.
- ‘Sachet’ means alert.
- It is the first in the series of five Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs)
- Designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL)
- Fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment.
- Capable of carrying limited pollution response equipment to undertake oil spill pollution response at sea.
- It is for the first time in Indian maritime history that a ship was commissioned through digital medium, maintaining strict protocol of social distancing in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic.
IBs C-450 and C-451
- These are indigenously designed and built by Larsen & Toubro Shipyard, Hazira and fitted with the latest navigation and communication equipment.
Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme(DTIS)
- Defence minister has approved the launch of the Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme(DTIS) with an outlay of ₹400 crore.
- Aim: promote indigenous defence production with special focus on participation of MSMEs and Start Ups by bridging gaps in defence testing infrastructure in the country.
- Duration: duration of five years and envisages to set up six to eight new test facilities in partnership with private industry.
- Government will provide up to 75% funding in the form of ‘Grant-in-Aid’.
- The remaining 25% of the project cost will have to be borne by the Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV) whose constituents will be Indian private entities and State Governments.
- The SPVs under the scheme will be registered under Companies Act 2013.
- Significance: It will facilitate indigenous defence production, consequently reduce imports of military equipment and help make the country self-reliant.
Lightweight Carbon Foam
- Recently, scientists (including a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty award) from the CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (Bhopal) have developed the ‘lightweight carbon foam’ which has the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries.
Applications and Significance
- useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.
- highly resistive to corrosion, has good electrical and thermal conductivity with high surface area, and have recently attracted a lot of attention owing to their potential applications in various field.
- can replace the lead-acid batteries, which are heavy, corrosive, and have poor thermal stability.
- cost-effective for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water.
- The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available everywhere
- no requirement of any costly equipment for the fabrication of carbon foam and filtration.
- can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.
injectable Silk Fibroin-based Hydrogel (iSFH)
- Scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology, have recently developed an injectable Silk fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained insulin delivery in diabetic patients.
- can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients.
- successfully delivered active insulin in rats.
- The porous form of iSFH allowed the encapsulation of recombinant insulin (identical to human insulin) in its active form in diabetic rats.
- proved to be an effective insulin delivery tool with excellent mechanical strength, biocompatibility, encapsulation, storage, and demonstration of its sustained delivery of active insulin in the diabetic animal.
- have implications for the future development of formulations for oral insulin delivery.
West Bengal Major Irrigation and Flood Management Project
- Recently, the Government of India, the Government of West Bengal, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the World Bank have signed a loan agreement for a project titled ‘West Bengal Major Irrigation and Flood Management Project’.
- The project includes the improvement in irrigation and flood management in the Damodar Valley Command Area (DVCA).
About Damodar Valley Corporation
- Established in 1948as thefirst multipurpose river valley project of independent India.
Under this project, four dams were constructed namely,
- Tilaiya Dam:constructed across the Barakar river–Jharkhand.
- Konar Dam:constructed across the Konar river—a tributary of the Damodar River-Jharkhand.
- Maithon Dam:constructed across the Barakar river
- Panchet Dam:constructed across the Damodar river, south of the Maithon Dam.
The Damodar river
- rises in the Palamu hills of the Chota Nagpur plateau-Jharkhand.
- passes through two Indian states namely, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- occupies the eastern margins of the Chotanagpur Plateau where it flows through a rift valleyand finally joins the Hugli.
- The Barakar riveris itsmain tributary.
- it is also known as the ‘sorrow of Bengal’ due to the devastating floods and its tributaries in the plains of West Bengal,
GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)
- Recently, the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs launched “GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)” programme at a webinar in New Delhi.
- GOAL is a joint initiative of Facebook and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
- provide mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode.
- focus on three core areas – Digital Literacy, Life Skills and Leadership and Entrepreneurship.
- upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths in the current phase to harness the full potential of digital platforms
- enable Scheduled Tribe (ST) youth in remote areas to use digital platforms
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has developed an e-governance platform ‘SAMARTH Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)’ under the National Mission of Education in Information and Communication Technology Scheme (NMEICT).
About the Platform
- an open source, open standard enabled robust, secure, scalable, and evolutionary process automation engine for Universities and Higher Educational Institutions.
- implemented at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Kurukshetra, a participating unit under the World Bank-supported Technical Education Quality Improvement Program (TEQIP).
- automate the processes of the enhancement of productivity through better information management.
- Recently, scientists from IIT (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Kolkata) have developed the Z-scan method to monitor the origin as well as the progression of Parkinson’s disease in human beings.
- The team found that the Z-scan method is really a technique that could help in monitoring both the early and late stages of the aggregation of ASyn nicely.
- a common neuro-degenerative disease that has no cure.
- It is believed that an aggregation of a protein called alpha synuclein (ASyn) plays a crucial role in the pathology of the disease.
- The aggregation is found in abundance in what is called the substantia nigra portion in the midbrain of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.