- A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
- Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar 2021 (PIB)
- B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
- Snakebite deaths in India (TH)
- C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
- Manufactured sand (M-Sand) (TH)
- 60,000-year-old underwater forest (IE)
- Flash droughts (TH)
- D) Miscellaneous
- Kadison–Singer problem (TH)
- World Test Championship (TH)
- Punjab to build fiscal information platform (TH)
A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar 2021 (PIB)
- Context: For the year 2021, (i) Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (in the institutional category) and (ii) Dr. Rajendra Kumar Bhandari (in the Individual category) have been selected for the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar for their excellent work in Disaster Management.
- To recognize and honour the selfless service rendered by individuals and organizations in India in the field of Disaster Management, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has instituted an annual award known as Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar.
- The award is announced every year on 23rd January, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
- The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 51 lakh and a certificate in case of an institution and Rs. 5 lakh and a certificate in case of an individual.
- There will be up to three awards. Both institutions and individuals are eligible for these awards.
- If the awardee is an institution, it shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 51 lakhs. The Institution shall utilize this cash prize for Disaster Management related activities only.
- If the awardee is an individual, winner shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5.00 lakhs.
- An application by an institution does not debar any individual from that institution to apply for the award in his individual capacity.
- Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions can apply for the award.
- For institutional awards, voluntary organizations, corporate entities, academic/research institutions, response/ uniformed forces or any other institution may apply for the award.
B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
2.Snakebite deaths in India (TH)
- India recorded a staggering 1.2 million snakebite deaths in the 20-year period from 2000 to 2019 with an average of 58,000 deaths caused by snakebite annually.
- Around 70% of these deaths occurred in low altitude, rural areas of eight States — Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- The numbers for annual snakebite deaths were highest in the States of Uttar Pradesh (8,700), Andhra Pradesh (5,200) and Bihar (4,500).
- Half of all the snakebite deaths occurred during the monsoon period from June to September.
- The study said that snakebite deaths occurred mostly in rural areas (97%), were more common in males (59%) than females (41%), and peaked in the age group of 15-29 years (25%).
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises snakebite as a top-priority neglected tropical disease.
- Since deaths are restricted mainly to lower altitude, intensely agricultural areas, during a single season of each year, this should make the annual epidemics easier to manage.
- Indian anti-venoms neutralize venom from only the spectacled cobra (there are three other Indian cobra species), common krait (there are seven other krait species), Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper, whereas there are at least 12 other snake species causing fatal bites in the country.
- The only scientifically validated treatment for snakebites is the use of antivenom, for which manufacturing protocols have remained unchanged for over a century.
- In India, a polyvalent antivenom is produced against the so-called ‘big four’ snakes: the spectacled cobra, the common krait, Russell’s viper, and the saw-scaled viper.”
- But specific antivenom is not produced to combat the poison of other snakes, and the ‘big four’ antivenom is routinely used to treat bites from all snakes.
- A new study has revealed that commercially available antivenom in India can be ineffective in treating bites from some snakes that are poorly studied.
- The researchers have underscored the need to develop region-specific snakebite therapies.
- Common Krait, Spectacled Cobra, Russell’s Viper and Saw-scaled Viper account for most of the fatal bites in India.
- Between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. there is a higher possibility of encountering snakes.
- The six hours between midnight and 6 a.m. are the safest with the lowest probability of running into snakes.
Dos and Don’ts during snake bites:
- Allowing the victims to rest and restricting their movements is important in the management of bite victims.
- Never suck blood from the wound as it may endanger the lives of first-aid providers.
- Ideally, the victims should not be given any food or water as it may lead to vomiting.
- Creating incision is also not advised as it may lead to infection.
- Applying tight tourniquet (a device for stopping the flow of blood through a vein or artery, typically by compressing a limb) near the wound could lead to gangrene (localized death and decomposition of body tissue, resulting from obstructed circulation or bacterial infection).
- Doctors often fail to diagnose the bite of Common Krait as it leaves no local sign of bite.
- Albert Calmette, a protege of the famous Louis Pasteur, made the first anti-venom serum in 1896.
- Horses are generally used to create anti-venom serum/antibodies because they thrive in many environments worldwide, have a large body mass, get along with each other and are familiar with humans so they don’t get easily scared by needles.
- For more than 100 years, the mainstay of primary treatment for snakebite has been the administration of antivenoms.
- Antivenoms work by boosting our immune response after a snakebite.
- They are made by immunizing donor animals such as horses or sheep with snake venoms.
- These animals have robust immune systems, and produce powerful antibodies that can bind to snake venom components, enabling our own immune defences to eliminate these toxins.
- Antivenoms are obtained by harvesting and then purifying the antibodies from plasma produced by the donor animal.
- However, the potential of antivenom treatment to significantly contribute to effectively controlling the burden of snakebite morbidity, disability and mortality has been limited by a number of factors:
- competition from inferior products;
- collapse of confidence in the use of antivenoms among health workers;
- poor data on the number and type of snake bites; and
- difficulty in accurately establishing forward needs assessments for specific antivenom products in each country.
- Recently, increasing cases of snake bites led Meghalaya to initiate a pilot project on drone delivery of medicines and blood in the State.
WHO launched Snakebite Envenoming
- Snakebite envenoming is a potentially life-threatening disease that typically results from the injection of a mixture of different toxins (“venom”) following the bite of a venomous snake.
- Envenoming can also be caused by having venom sprayed into the eyes by certain species of snakes that have the ability to spit venom as a defence measure.
- Snake antivenoms are effective treatments to prevent or reverse most of the harmful effects of snakebite envenoming and are included in the WHO list of essential medicines.
- Most deaths and serious consequences from snake bites are entirely preventable by making safe and effective antivenoms more widely available and accessible, and raising awareness on primary prevention among communities and health workers.
What makes snakebite a “neglected tropical disease”?
- There are four primary criteria that define an illness as a neglected tropical disease (NTD), and snakebite envenoming satisfies each of them:
- First, there is a significant burden of mortality and morbidity – snakebite envenoming is a high-impact disease.
- Secondly, a majority of incidents of snakebite occur in the world’s tropical and sub-tropical regions, and it particularly impacts the poor – snakebite is a tropical disease.
- Thirdly, snakebite is amenable to treatment, as well as prevention – the impact of snakebite can be mitigated now if we make the effort to do so.
- Finally, the overall level of investment in research addressing snakebite, from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, is exceptionally low in comparison to its impact – snakebite is a neglected disease.
Which species of snakes are responsible?
- In India, the “big four” species are the Indian cobra, the Russell’s viper, the Indian saw-scaled viper and the Indian krait.
Other neglected tropical diseases
- Buruli ulcer
- Chagas disease
- Dengue and Chikungunya
- Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)
- Foodborne trematodiases
- Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
- Leprosy (Hansen’s disease)
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Mycetoma, chromoblastomycosis and other deep mycoses
- Onchocerciasis (river blindness)
- Scabies and other ectoparasites
- Soil-transmitted helminthiases
- Snakebite envenoming
- Yaws (Endemic treponematoses)
C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
3.Manufactured sand (M-Sand) (TH)
- Context: The Karnataka police, probing a blast, are looking for the source of the explosive and the way it was transported to the crushing unit. The district administration has clarified that only crushing of stones was allowed in the area and mining was prohibited. The explosives were being used to produce M-sand.
- Manufactured sand (M-Sand) is a substitute of river sand for concrete construction.
- Manufactured sand is produced from hard granite stone by crushing.
Why Manufactured Sand is Used?
- Due to the depletion of good quality river sand for the use of construction, the use of manufactured sand has been increased.
- It is less costly. Since manufactured sand can be crushed from hard granite rocks, it can be readily available at the nearby place, reducing the cost of transportation from far-off river sand bed.
- The other advantage of using M-Sand is, it can be dust free, the sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.
Advantages of Manufactured Sand (M-Sand)
- It is well graded in the required proportion.
- It does not contain organic and soluble compound that affects the setting time and properties of cement, thus the required strength of concrete can be maintained.
- It does not have the presence of impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings, which increase water requirement as in the case of river sand which impair bond between cement paste and aggregate. Thus, increased quality and durability of concrete.
- The control over the physical properties of manufacturing sand makes the concrete require less amount of water, provides higher workable concrete and has less construction defects.
- It is less disruptive to the environment
- M-Sand is cubical in shape and is manufactured using technology like High Carbon steel hit rock and then ROCK ON ROCK process which is synonymous to that of natural process undergoing in river sand information.
60,000-year-old underwater forest (IE)
- Context: Among the petitions before United States President Joe Biden from environmentalists is one to save a unique forest off the coast of Alabama.
- Unique because the entire forest is underwater — 10 fathoms (60 feet) deep — and made up of the remains of cypress trees that grew in the ice age, 60,000 years ago, when prehistoric humans were just starting to move out of Africa.
- The forest was submerged in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico as sea levels rose, and remained entombed in thick layers of sediment, mud and sand for millennia. The sediments prevented oxygen from decomposing the stumps, barks and other remnants of the forest.
- The forest was discovered only after Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast in 2004 and unleashed giant waves that removed the sediments. Divers thereafter saw a perfectly preserved cypress forest that was unlike anything else on earth.
What is the threat?
- The site is at risk from salvage companies seeking to dig up the ancient logs and sell them.
Flash droughts (TH)
- Context: In 1979, India faced a severe flash drought, affecting about 40% of the country and taking a toll on agriculture.
- A new study has now pointed out that India could experience more such flash droughts by the end of this century.
- Flash droughts are those that occur very quickly, with soil moisture depleting rapidly.
- Normally, developing drought conditions take months, but these happen within a week or in two weeks’ time.
- Several factors including atmospheric anomalies, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions play an important role.
- The ongoing climate change has caused a significant increase in global temperature and this can lead to more and more flash droughts in the coming years.
6.Kadison–Singer problem (TH)
- Indian mathematician Nikhil Srivastava, has been named winner of the prestigious 2021 Michael and Sheila Held Prize along with two others for solving long-standing questions on the Kadison–Singer problem and on Ramanujan graphs.
- The decades-old Kadison–Singer problem asks whether unique information can be gleaned from a system in which only some features can be observed or measured.
World Test Championship (TH)
What is the ICC World Test Championship?
- The ICC World Test Championship (WTC) gets underway on 1 August 2019 and comprises nine teams competing in 71 Test matches in 27 series across two years.
- Comprising the top nine Test teams in the world, each team will play three home and three away series.
- The top two teams at the end will compete in the ICC World Test Championship Final in the UK in June 2021 with the winner crowned World Test Champions.
What is the purpose of starting the WTC?
- The WTC honours the importance of the longest format of the game and ensures a pinnacle event for the format just as the World Cups for men and women in the ODI and T20I formats.
How were the teams for the WTC decided?
- The top nine ranked teams on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings as on 31 March 2018 qualified for the WTC.
- Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are the teams competing in the WTC.
What is the league format of the WTC?
- Each of the nine teams in the WTC plays three home and three away series, with the opponents decided by mutual agreement often within existing frameworks of Member rights agreements.
- The number of matches in each series can vary between a minimum of two matches to a maximum of five matches.
Will all matches of the WTC be played over five days and do these include day-night matches?
- The first cycle of the WTC consists of only five-day matches and will include day-night matches, subject to bilateral and mutual agreement between the opponents.
How does the points system work?
- Each team plays six series, with each series counting for 120 points, distributed over the number of matches in a series.
- For example, a two-match series will mean 60 points for each Test while a three-match series will give 40 points to each Test match.
- A tie will be 50% of the points available, whilst a draw will be a 3:1 points ratio.
Are all Test matches part of the WTC?
- Only the matches identified as part of the WTC will count towards the championship.
- Any matches featuring the teams outside the top nine – Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe – will not be part of the Test Championship.
What about the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings?
- The rankings will continue with all 12 teams on the table.
- The points table of the WTC will be independent of the team rankings.
Punjab to build fiscal information platform (TH)
- The Punjab government has signed an agreement with the eGovernment (eGov) Foundation to build a first-of-its-kind fiscal information exchange platform to enable better management of public finance in the State.
- The platform will facilitate real-time availability of financial information to the stakeholders for data-driven and efficient deployment of public funds and policymaking.
Jail Tourism (TH)
- The Maharashtra government is set to launch “jail tourism” under which historically significant jails in Maharashtra, which are still being used as penal centres, will be opened to visitors to see the barracks where freedom fighters were imprisoned by the British.
- The famous Poona Pact between Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi took place beneath a mango tree at Pune’s Yerawada jail. In 1899, the Chapekar brothers were given death sentence in this jail.