Daily Current Affairs

30TH JANUARY,2021 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS

Index

  1. A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  2. How Radioactive Isotopes are Used in Medicine (PIB)
  3. B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  4. Ethanol Blended with Petrol Programme (PIB)
  5. Agreement for financial support to STARS project (PIB)
  6. Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) (PIB)
  7. C) Miscellaneous
  8. Prabuddha Bharata (PIB)
  9. Export of Chili and Turmeric (PIB)

 

A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

  1. How Radioactive Isotopes are Used in Medicine (PIB)

  • Context: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has evolved a design for the first PPP Research Reactor for the production of Nuclear Medicines.
  • This project will be a major step towards making India self-reliant in key radio isotopes, to increase availability of effective and affordable treatments for cancer

Analysis

  • Radioactive isotopes, or radioisotopes, are species of chemical elements that are produced through the natural decay of atoms.
  • Exposure to radiation generally is considered harmful to the human body, but radioisotopes are highly valuable in medicine, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Radioisotopes typically have short half-lives and typically decay before their emitted radioactivity can cause damage to the patient’s body.
  • Nuclear medicine uses radioactive isotopes in a variety of ways. One of the more common uses is as a tracer in which a radioisotope, such as technetium-99m, is taken orally or is injected or is inhaled into the body.
  • The radioisotope then circulates through the body or is taken up only by certain tissues.
  • Its distribution can be tracked according to the radiation it gives off.
  • The emitted radiation can be captured by various imaging techniques.
  • Through such imaging, physicians are able to examine blood flow to specific organs and assess organ function or bone growth.
  • Therapeutic applications of radioisotopes typically are intended to destroy the targeted cells such as those of cancer.
  • In radiation therapy for cancer, the patient’s tumor is bombarded with ionizing radiation, typically in the form of beams of subatomic particles, such as protons, neutrons, or alpha or beta particles, which introduces breaks in the double-stranded DNA molecule, causing the cancer cells to die and thereby preventing their replication.
  • While radiotherapy is associated with unpleasant side effects, it generally is effective in slowing cancer progression or, in some cases, even prompting the regression of malignant disease.
  • The use of radioisotopes in the fields of nuclear medicine and radiotherapy has advanced significantly since the discovery of artificial radioisotopes in the first decades of the 1900s.
  • Artificial radioisotopes are produced from stable elements that are bombarded with neutrons.
  • A radioisotope used for diagnosis must emit gamma rays of sufficient energy to escape from the body and it must have a half-life short enough for it to decay away soon after imaging is completed.
  • The radioisotope most widely used in medicine is Tc-99, employed in some 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures.
  • It is an isotope of the artificially-produced element technetium and it has almost ideal characteristics for a nuclear medicine scan.

Sterilization

  • Many medical products today are sterilized by gamma rays from a Co-60 source, a technique which generally is much cheaper and more effective than steam heat sterilization.
  • The disposable syringe is an example of a product sterilized by gamma rays.
  • Because it is a ‘cold’ process radiation can be used to sterilize a range of heat-sensitive items such as powders, ointments, and solutions, as well as biological preparations such as bone, nerve, and skin to be used in tissue grafts.
  • Sterilization by radiation has several benefits.
  • It is safer and cheaper because it can be done after the item is packaged.
  • The sterile shelf-life of the item is then practically indefinite provided the seal is not broken.

Nuclear medicine vs X-rays

  • Positioning of the radiation source within (rather than external to) the body is the fundamental difference between nuclear medicine imaging and other imaging techniques such as X-rays.
  • A distinct advantage of nuclear imaging over X-ray techniques is that both bone and soft tissue can be imaged very successfully.

B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

2.Ethanol Blended with Petrol Programme (PIB)

  • Context: Meeting held by Department of Food & Public Distribution with States and Industry Associations to implement Scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity in the country for producing 1st Generation (1G) ethanol.

Analysis

  • The Government has fixed a target of 10% blending of fuel-grade ethanol with petrol by 2022 and 20% blending by 2025.
  • This has been done with a view:
  • to boost agricultural economy,
  • to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel,
  • to save foreign exchange on account of crude oil import bill and
  • to reduce the air pollution.
  • To meet out the requirement of ethanol, the Government has notified a “Scheme for extending financial assistance to project proponents for enhancement of their ethanol distillation capacity or to set up distilleries for producing 1st Generation (1G) ethanol from feed stocks such sugarcane, rice available with Food Corporation of India, maize vide notification dated 14thJanuary, 2021.
  • The participants were explained about the benefits of Ethanol Blended with Petrol Programme. It was informed that:
  • excess sugar of about 60 Lakh Tonne will be diverted to ethanol, helping sugar mills to timely payments of cane dues to farmers,
  • additional utilisation of food-grains of about 135 Lakh Tonne will help in increasing the income of farmers,
  • investment by entrepreneurs will help in creation of employment in rural areas,
  • distributed ethanol production will help in reduction of transportation cost of ethanol.
  • Prices of ethanol are fixed on the basis of prices of raw materials and not on the basis of prices of crude oil.
  • OMCs being the assured buyer for ethanol has also given comfort for purchase of ethanol from distilleries for next 10 years.
  • Some State Governments have also included ethanol projects under priority sector.

Different Generations of Biofuels

  • Biofuel is any fuel that is derived from biomass—that is, plant or algae or animal waste.
  • Since such feedstock material can be replenished readily, biofuel is considered to be a source of renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas.
  • First-generation biofuel: They are produced from food crops.
  • Second-generation biofuel: They are derived from low-value biomass that possesses a high cellulose content, including wood chips, crop residues, and municipal waste.
  • Third-generation biofuel: They are obtained by the use of algae and cyanobacteria.
  • Some estimates state that algae and cyanobacteria could yield between 10 and 100 times more fuel per unit area than second-generation biofuels.
  • Fourth-generation biofuel: Fourth-generation technology combines genetically optimized feedstocks, which are designed to capture large amounts of carbon, with genomically synthesized microbes, which are made to efficiently make fuels.
  • Key to the process is the capture and sequestration of CO2, a process that renders fourth-generation biofuels a carbon negative source of fuel.
  • Plant-based biofuels in principle make little net contribution to global warming and climate change; the carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) that enters the air during combustion will have been removed from the air earlier as growing plants engage in photosynthesis. Such a material is said to be “carbon neutral.”
  • Top of Form
  1. Agreement for financial support to STARS project (PIB)

  • Context: Agreement for the financial support of the implementation of Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project of Ministry of Education was signed between Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) and World Bank along with Ministry of Education.

Analysis

  • STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), MOE.
  • The project covers 6 States viz Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha. The identified States will be supported for various interventions for improving the quality of education.
  • The Program envisions improving the overall monitoring and measurement activities in the Indian school education system through interventions in selected states.
  • STARS will draw on existing structure under Samagra Shiksha with the DoSEL, MoE as the main implementing agency at the national level.
  • At the State level, the project will be implemented through the integrated State Implementation Society (SIS) for Samagra Shiksha.
  • The proposed World Bank support under STARS is primarily in the form of a results-based financing instrument called Program for Results (PforR). This will ensure major reforms at the State level through a set of disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs). A State Incentive Grant (SIG) will be used to encourage States to meet desired project outcomes.
  • This Scheme has already been covered in detail in 15th Oct file.
  • For Samagra Shiksha, refer to the 15th Sep current affair concepts
  1. Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) (PIB)

  • Context: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched a new campaign of highlighting 80 success stories from the organization as it is set to turn 80 years old in 2022.
  • This campaign was launched recently as CSIR’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) completes two decades of safeguarding India’s Traditional Knowledge.

Analysis

  • In 2001, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) jointly with Department of Indian Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy (ISM&H, now Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) developed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL).
  • TKDL is a pioneering initiative of India to protect Indian traditional medicinal knowledge and prevent its misappropriation at International Patent Offices.
  • The grant of a US patent to wound healing properties of turmeric flags the danger of complacence in proactively guarding the traditional knowledge.
  • The problem related to Indian TK is further compounded by the fact that India’s traditional medicinal knowledge exists in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. that too in ancient local dialects that are no more in practice.
  • Thus, the published Indian TK literature is neither accessible nor understood by patent examiners at international patent offices.
  • Traditional Knowledge Digital Library has overcome the language and format barrier by systematically and scientifically converting and structuring the available contents of the ancient texts on Indian Systems of Medicines i.e. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Sowa Rigpa as well as Yoga, into five international languages, namely, English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish, with the help of information technology tools and an innovative classification system – Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC).
  • TKDL has also set international specifications and standards for setting up of TK databases based on TKDL specifications.
  • This was adopted in 2003 by the Committee in fifth session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of WIPO on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Expression of folklore.
  • Currently, TKDL is based on books of Indian Systems of Medicine, which are available in open domain and can be sourced by any individual/organization at national/international level.
  • TKDL acts as a bridge between these books (prior-art evidences) and International patent examiners.
  • At present, as per the approval of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, access of TKDL is available to many international Patent Offices under TKDL Access (Non-disclosure) Agreement.
  • As per the terms and conditions of the Access agreement, examiners of patent office can utilize TKDL for search and examination purposes only and cannot reveal the contents of TKDL to any third party unless it is necessary for the purpose of citation.
  • In addition, pre-grant oppositions are being filed at various International Patent Offices, along with prior-art evidences from TKDL. Significant impact has already been realized.
  • So far more than 230 patent applications have either been set aside/ withdrawn/ amended, based on the prior art evidences present in the TKDL database without any cost and in few weeks/months of time, whereas earlier India had to spend about seven crores towards legal fee only for getting few claims of Basmati rice patent revoked.
  • TKDL is proving to be an effective deterrent against bio-piracy and has been recognized internationally as a unique effort.

C) Miscellaneous

5.Prabuddha Bharata (PIB)

  • Context: Prime Minister of India will address the 125th-anniversary celebrations of Prabuddha Bharata’, a monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order, started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896.

Analysis

  • The journal ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ has been an important medium for spreading the message of India’s ancient spiritual wisdom.
  • Its publication was started from Chennai (erstwhile Madras), where it continued to be published for two years, after which it was published from Almora.
  • Later, in April 1899, the place of publication of the Journal was shifted to Advaita Ashrama and it has been continuously published from there since then.
  • Some of the greatest personalities have left their imprint on the pages of ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ through their writings on Indian culture, spirituality, philosophy, history, psychology, art, and other social issues. Luminaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sister Nivedita, Sri Aurobindo, Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, among others, have contributed to the Journal over the years.
  1. Export of Chili and Turmeric (PIB)

  • Context: 14th Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) conducted by Spices Board in FY 2020-21, covering Chili and Turmeric.
  • India is the world’s largest exporter of chili and turmeric, the exports of which have recorded a steady progress, over the years.
  • During 2019-20, chili and chili products contributed to more than 40 per cent in volume and 29 per cent in value of India’s total spice exports.
  • Turmeric held a share of 11 per cent in volume and 6 per cent in value of the export basket.

 

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