A) Science and Technology/Defence/Space
Regular Mineral Water Vs Black Alkaline Water; What’s the difference? (IE)
- Context: Recently launched in India, EvocusBlack Alkaline Water is infused with over 70+ natural trace elements that are sourced from deep within the earth’s crust in Texas, USA.
- The natural black color of the water is due to the infusion of these trace elements. It offers optimum hydration, detoxifies it, and improves the body’s metabolism.
- Water makes 60% of a human adult body, is paid the least attention.
- People in general lack awareness of the fact that the water they drink daily is not fit for consumption.
- The simple RO system drains the water of many nutrients crucial for the body.
- It lowers the pH value of the water we drink, making it acidic, corrosive, bitter in taste, which is hard for the body to absorb.
- Alkaline water is one of the significant steps that one can take towards boosting the immune system.
How can Alkaline Water boost immunity?
- Alkaline water is something that has been ionized and hence has a higher pH level of about 8 or 9 compared to a pH value of 7 found in regular tap water.
- It neutralizes the acidic content in the body.
- Alkaline water that has several benefits, is easily absorbed by the human body and helps to let it stay hydrated for a long time.
- It improves the functioning of the circulatory system that increases the amount of oxygen carried by the blood to vital organs and the anaerobic exercise performance of the body.
- Alkaline water is infused with a variety of minerals, including calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and other trace elements that play an important role in improving the immune system.
- It also prevents the growth of free radicals in the body, which slows down the ageing process.
- Regular consumption of alkaline water reduces the chances of osteoporosis and protects the pancreatic beta cells.
- Black alkaline water is also abundant in the amount of oxygen dissolved in it.
- This helps the human body by increasing the rate of metabolism, which converts calories in to energy.
All about Free Radicals (TH)
- Context: Although the human body produces a certain amount of antioxidants to counter free radicals, the silver lining is the fact that Nature has generously provided us with enough antioxidants in fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains/legumes to help halt the damage.
- We require oxygen to live but oxygen can be a ‘dangerous friend’, as when it is metabolized by our cells, some of it is converted into highly reactive compounds called free radicals.
- In stable molecules, electrons must be balanced by existing in pairs.
- Molecules in which an electron is unpaired (or “free”) act rapidly to attack and steal an electron from another molecule damaging it in the process.
- This damage can initiate or promote a chronic disease.
- For example, free radical attacks on DNA may lead to changes in our genes and cause cancer, free radical attacks on the clear protein in the eye lens can cause a cataract.
- Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are highly reactive with other cellular structures because they contain unpaired electrons.
- Free radicals are natural by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body, including ordinary metabolic processes and immune system responses.
- Free radical-generating substances can be found in the food we eat, the drugs and medicines we take, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.
- These substances include fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides, air pollutants, and many more.
- Free radicals can cause damage to parts of cells such as proteins, DNA, and cell membranes by stealing their electrons through a process called oxidation. (This is why free radical damage is also called “oxidative damage.”)
- When free radicals oxidize important components of the cell, those components lose their ability to function normally, and the accumulation of such damage may cause the cell to die.
- Numerous studies indicate that increased production of free radicals causes or accelerates nerve cell injury and leads to disease.
What is the connection between free radicals and aging?
- One of the proven theories of aging is the free radical theory, which asserts that many changes occur during aging, due to excess free radicals.
- The Free Radical Hypothesis of Aging proposes that the damage done by free radicals to molecules accumulates over time and contributes directly to the aging process.
- For example, free radicals in the skin generated by ultraviolet light cause thinning and wrinkling associated with aging.
- Ultraviolet light generates free radicals in the eye lens leading to cataract.
- Free radicals generated in the cardiovascular system, the lungs and the brain can similarly injure these organs leading to age-related decline in their function.
- External toxins such as cigarette smoke and air pollution which are major free radical generators, compound the damage.
- Consumption of alcohol and food and water contaminated with pesticides and toxins are other sources of free radicals that hasten the process.
Antioxidants: The best bet
- Antioxidants, our best bet against free radicals, are chemical substances that are naturally obtained from plant sources mainly from fruits and vegetables.
- Antioxidants are the active components that give fruits or vegetables their colour and identity.
- Phyto-chemicals from green leafy vegetables; phenolic compounds from wine and olive oil; besides tomatoes, onions, garlic, red grapes, mangoes, prunes, olives, apricots, citrus fruits, carrots, berries and herbs are some good sources of antioxidants.
- Turmeric is another powerful antioxidant.
- Our Indian curry (tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, cumin and saffron) is a great antioxidant cocktail.
How do antioxidants help counter the attack by free radicals?
- Dietary antioxidants are compounds capable of donating an electron to an unpaired set of a free radical, thereby neutralizing it.
- However, when antioxidants become oxidised by giving up an electron they remain relatively stable and non-reactive and are recycled back to their active antioxidant state.
- In simple terms, antioxidants are agents that inhibit oxidation and neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances, in other words, counter oxidative stress.
- The rusting of iron, brass artifacts turning black, an apple slice or a piece of raw potato turning brown, are examples of oxidation that happens to all cells in Nature, including the ones in our body.
- People with higher levels of oxidative stress (those living in cities with severe air pollution or who smoke or who have diseases associated with greater levels of oxidative stress such as diabetes) may benefit from taking antioxidant supplements.
- Our traditional Indian meal consisting of hand-pounded rice (containing B complex and fibre) sambar/dhal/rasam with turmeric, green vegetables, yoghurt and seasonal fruits for dessert makes for one of the best anti-aging solutions.
Where to find antioxidants
- Vitamin A:Cryptoxanthin is a carotenoid found in papaya, peach, and orange.
- Vitamin C:guava, peppers, turnip leaves, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cauliflower, cabbage, strawberries, spinach, lemon juice, mango, asparagus and tomato.
- Remember Vitamin C content in foods is easily destroyed by light, heat and chemicals.
- Vitamin E:Wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, sesame oil, oatmeal, salmon, brown rice, olive oil, walnut, egg and whole wheat bread.
- Selenium:Butter, garlic, barley, wheat germ, milk, orange, cabbage, onions, wine, cottage cheese and bran.
- Coenzyme Q 10:Sardines, salmon, spinach and nuts.
- Flavonoids: The biggest class of antioxidants are found abundantly in green tea and in dark chocolate (80 per cent plus cocoa)
Free radicals may not be all bad, say scientists
- In a finding that may alter our fundamental understanding about free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS) as they are called in scientific parlance, a team of researchers has found that these unstable and highly reactive biological molecules may be vital in regulating growth and the size of organisms.
- To unearth the spectacular role of free radicals, the scientists used fruit flies as model organism.
- Insulin, a hormone, plays a key role in promoting growth at the cellular level. Another hormone, ecdysone, does the opposite — applying the brakes on growth.
- The spree of growth that an animal undergoes during larval stages is brought about by insulin. But the continuous spell of growth needs to be controlled and this is done by ecdysone.
- In other words, there is an antagonistic relationship between these two hormones, which needs to be stabilized. The study has shown that reactive oxygen species do this job wonderfully.
Know your immune system (TH)
- Context: Human body has an amazingly complicated immune system. It is actually a well-versed network of cells and organs that work together day and night to protect the body from infections.
- The immune system has a well-equipped army of macrophages, T cells and B cells to carry out its function efficiently and effectively.
- The immune cells are produced by the thymus gland, the spleen and other organs.
- The major organs of the immune system are bone marrow, thymus, spleen and lymph nodes.
- The lymphocytes are housed at these nodes, who are the key players of this system.
- The two major groups of lymphocytes are T cells and B cells.
- T cells mature in the thymus, high in the chest behind the breastbone and B cells grow into maturity in the bone marrow.
- Phagocytes are white cells, which become macrophages after they migrate to the tissues.
- All these immune cells are carried through the body from its site of production via lymph vessels to the lymph nodes.
- T cells are responsible for cellular immunity, while B cells produce antibodies that circulate in the bloodstream and attach to foreign bodies to mark them for destruction.
- Macrophages act as scavengers, getting rid of the worn-out cells and debris.
- They are also responsible for producing the cytokines, which are vital to the immune system.
- Once in a while the system fails to identify a signal of attack or an invader to the body, which may leads to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes or lumps.
- Less commonly, harmless foreign bodies are mistaken for an enemy by the immune system and triggers an allergic reaction.
- Immune deficiency can be either due to external causes or due to internal causes.
- Among the various nutrients proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants have more specific role in building and maintaining the body’s immune power.
- The amino acids present in protein-rich foods are used to make antibodies and other immune compounds.
- Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids helps in controlling inflammation and harmful effects of autoimmune disorders.
- Coldwater fishes, flax seeds etc. are rich sources of omegas.
- Vitamins may enhance T cells activity and assist in the production of antibodies.
- Vitamin C found in citrus fruits and vegetables assist in the formation and upkeep of mucous membrane and collagen as well as strengthening the blood vessel.
- Vitamin A found in liver, fish milk, cheese and eggs also keeps mucous membrane healthy and intact and also increases the antibody response.
- Zinc deficiency has been associated with slow wound healing.
- All foods of animal origin, beans, nuts and whole grains are rich sources of zinc.
- But do remember that excess of supplementary zinc can actually depress the immune system.
- Selenium is essential for a strong and healthy immune system.
- Selenium food sources are seafood, meat, nuts, wheat germ, bran, brown rice and oats.
- Iron is needed for the manufacture of T cells and B cells of immune system.
- It also ensures the oxygen availability of cells for proper functioning and resist diseases.
- Antioxidants are vital to protect the immune system from free radicals.
- Lycopene present in tomatoes, beta-carotene found in oranges, red and yellow fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants.
Types of Immune Responses
- When infected by a virus, non-specific immune response in the form of macrophages, neutrophils and other cells tend to prevent the virus from causing symptoms.
- Soon after, the body makes antibodies specific to the virus called the immunoglobulins — IgG and IgM, called the adaptive response.
- In addition, the cellular immunity kicks in when the body makes T cells (type of leukocyte (white blood cell)) that destroy cells that have been infected by the virus.
- The combination of adaptive response and cellular immunity may prevent progression to severe illness or re-infection by the same virus.
- This process is often measured by the presence of antibodies in blood.
- Besides inducing neutralizing antibodies, novel coronavirus has also been found to induce cellular immunity.
- As a result, the immune system’s T cells and B cells are elevated in an infected person.
- Generally, when antibody levels are high, the T cells are low and vice versa.
What are antigens?
- Antigens are proteins which our immune system can recognise.
- Majority of antigens are proteins but some are carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids.
- Any antigen that is ‘foreign’ to our immune system is destroyed by an antibody.
What are antibodies?
- Antibodies are attack molecules our immune system makes to protect ourselves against foreign things such as bacteria and viruses.
- Antibodies can also be formed in response to different blood groups.
- Everyone is born with some antibodies.
What are epitopes?
- Whenever we refer a pathogen (disease-causing organisms), we may think the entire microbe is responsible for the disease.
- But the fact is these organisms possess numerous sites called as epitopes that are recognized by antibodies or receptors on the cells in the immune system.
B) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
4.Indian tag for ‘Pak’ butterfly, ‘Chinese’ dragonfly (TH)
- Context: Zebra skipper butterfly and the Atratothemis reelsi dragonfly have been recorded in India more than 1,100 km from their known areas of distribution in the neighbouring countries.
- The butterfly Spialia zebra was found in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan miles south of its known home comprising Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab province of Pakistan.
- The dragonfly Atratothemis reels was recorded in southern Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve, representing the westernmost range of its species , about 1,170 km west of its previously known nearest locality of Xiaoqikong Park in China’s Guizhou Province.
- The zebra skipper or Spialia zebra has added to the richness of Rajasthan’s orchid belt comprising Phulwari ki Nal Wildlife Sanctuary and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The zebra skipper is difficult to observe because it is quite small and flies rapidly low over the ground.
- Odonata is an order of predatory insects comprising dragonflies and damselflies.
India’s National Butterfly (TH)
- Context: A citizen poll to identify the national butterfly has concluded with three species garnering the highest number of votes.
- Krishna Peacock (Papilio krishna), Indian Jezebel (Delias eucharis), and Orange Oakleaf (Kallima inachus), the frontrunners, have unique features such as ability to camouflage as a dead leaf, exhibit iridescence to stave off predators, and aid farmers in getting rid of pests.
- The organisers will submit the names of the top three to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to choose one among them.
- Blessed with a vibrant colour pattern, including vermilion (haldi – kumkum), the Indian Jezebel (or Common Jezebel) is known to deter its predators with its flashy wing colours.
- Widely distributed, the species can be spotted in gardens and other lightly wooded areas.
- Krishna Peacock, a flagship species for biodiversity and conservation, is generally found in large numbers in the Himalayas.
- Orange Oakleaf is commonly known as ‘dead leaf’ for its ability to camouflage as a dry autumn leaf while striking a stationary pose with its wings closed.
- The masquerade enables the species to prevent it from being devoured by birds in the moist forests of the northern Western Ghats, central, northern and northeastern parts of India where they are generally found.
- A Himalayan butterfly named golden birdwing is now India’s largest, a record the southern birdwing held for 88 years.
- Butterflies are not only great pollinators but also play a crucial role in the food chain.
State butterflies in India
- Maharashtra: Blue Mormon
- Tamil Nadu: Tamil Yeoman
- Uttarakhand: Common Peacock
- Karnataka: Southern Birdwing
- Kerala: Malabar banded peacock or buddha butterfly
National Identity Elements
- National Animal: Royal Bengal Tiger
- Found in: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka
- Conservation Status: Endangered (IUCN Red List)
- National Bird of India: The peacock | Least Concern
- The female is smaller in size, brownish in colour and does not have the grand tail, which the male displays for courtship which generally happens in the monsoon season.
- National Flower of India: The lotus flower
- National Fruit of India: Mango
- National Tree of India: The Banyan
- National River of India: The Ganges or Ganga
- National Heritage Animal of India: Elephant | Endangered
- The Asian Elephant, is the largest mammal of the Indian subcontinent.
- Males are generally larger than females.
- National Aquatic Animal of India: Ganges river dolphin | Endangered
- Gangetic Dolphin is the chief indicator of the cleanliness of the river Ganga, as it lives in pure and fresh water only.
- The females of these solitary creatures are usually much larger than the male.
- They are called “susu” locally due to the distinct sound that they make when they breathe.
- National Reptile of India: King Cobra | Vulnerable
- King Cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world.
- Iridescence(also known as goniochromism) is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes.
- Examples of iridescence include soap bubbles, feathers, butterfly wings and seashell nacre, as well as certain minerals.
- Light travels in predictable patterns of waves, with rising crests and falling troughs.
- Many colors found in nature are produced by pigmentation, which simply absorbs certain wavelengths of light and reflects others.
- Iridescence, however, occurs when an object’s physical structure causes light waves to combine with one another, a phenomenon known as interference.
- In constructive interference, light waves combine so that the crests and troughs line up to reinforce each other, increasing the vibrancy of the reflected color.
- Destructive interference occurs when the crests and troughs cancel each other out to dim the color.
- Thus, as the observer’s viewing angle shifts, the colors of the iridescent object change depending on the varying degrees of constructive and destructive interference.
- In nature, it is used to recognize organisms of the same species, choose mates, and confuse and evade predators, proving it to be an extremely useful adaptation in the animal kingdom.
Some other adaptations/defence mechanisms in nature:
- The vibrant colouration of the Plain Tiger sends a warning signal to its predators — birds, lizards — that they could be toxic. This defence mechanism is known as
- The colouration is mimicked by other species like the female Danaid Eggfly butterfly that often move with Plain Tiger butterflies to avoid being eaten alive. This is another of nature’s defence mechanisms, called Batesian Mimicry.
- Yet another survival mechanism is the haphazard zig-zag flight that the butterfly has to avoid capture.
- Cryptic coloration (camouflage) – coloring scheme that allows an animal to blend into colors in its environment.
- Deceptive markings – patterns that cause an animal to appear larger or more dangerous than it really is.
- Aposematic (warning) coloration – warning coloration exhibited by animals that possess a chemical or structural defense.
6.National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) (TH)
- Context: The Supreme Court sought a response from the country’s apex child rights body, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), to its request to eight States to “produce” children living in care homes before the local child welfare committees for their “immediate repatriation” with their families.
- The court wondered whether the NCPCR could issue such general directions to the States without considering the education, health, safety of the children, the consent of their parents and their economical situation.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007.
- NCPCR is a statutory body under the CPCR Act, 2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
- The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age
Composition of the Commission
- This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.
- All of them are appointed by Central Government for three years.
- The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.
- The Central Government can remove the Chairperson from his office on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
- The Chairperson of NCPCR should be a person of eminence who has done outstanding work on promoting the child rights.
Functions of the Commission
- It examines and reviews the safeguards provided by the laws for protection of child rights and recommends measures for the same to the government.
- It can submit a report annually or as it deems fit, for recommendation of these measures.
- It can insure into the violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in these cases.
- While inquiring into any such matter, the NCPCR has powers of a civil court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:
- summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath.
- requiring the discovery and production of any document
- receiving evidence on affidavits
- requisitioning any public record from any court or office and
- issuing summons for the examination of witnesses or documents.
- However, National Commission is prohibited from inquiring into any matter which is pending before a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or any other Statutory Commission.
- To study treaties and other international instruments.
- To inspect any juvenile custodial home or any other place of residence or institution where children are detained or lodged for the purpose of treatment, reformation or protection
- To inquire into complaints and take suomoto notice of matters relating to child rights.
- To inquire into complaints relating to the child’s right to free and compulsory education under Right to Education Act, 2009.
- To monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and POCSO Rules 2012.
D) Art, Culture and History
7.Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan (PIB)
- Context: Prime Minister paid tributes to Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP on his birth anniversary.
- Jayaprakash Narayan was a disciple of Mohandas Gandhi and leader of India’s independence movement.
- He never held a formal position in the government, but remained a leading political personality operating outside party politics.
- If Mahatma Gandhi is the architect of India’s first freedom in 1947, which was extinguished by Congress supremo Indira Gandhi on 25/26 June, 1975, it was JP who got us our second freedom after defeating Emergency in 1977. In gratitude, common people called him the Second Mahatma.
- JP was the first to be arrested under the Defence of India Rules.
- At the height of the Emergency era when Indira Gandhi taunted the nation saying that ‘food is more important than freedom’, the Sarvodaya leader said:
“Freedom became one of the beacon lights of my life and it has remained so ever since……Above all, it meant freedom of the human personality, freedom of the mind, freedom of the spirit. This freedom has become a passion of my life and I shall not see it compromised for food, for security, for prosperity, for the glory of the state or for anything else.”
JP-The Quintessential Rebel
- In February 1940, JP was arrested for speaking against Indian participation in the Second World War.
- He was again arrested in 1942 for participating in the Quit India Movement.
- Independence finally came on August 15, 1947. Within a year Gandhiji was assassinated. The Socialists lost to the Congress in the 1952 elections.
- Nehru invited JP to join the Cabinet. When Nehru could give no assurances on the implementation of JP’s 14-point plan to reform the Constitution, the administration, and the judicial system, nationalise the banks, redistribute land to the landless, revive swadeshi, and setup cooperatives, he refused the offer.
- JP had been offered the posts of Union cabinet minister, prime minister and President of India in quick succession and he turned down each one of them.
- Though considered the natural successor to Nehru as prime minister, JP chose to withdraw from power politics to engage in the more enduring struggle against poverty, social evils and violence.
- With the help of the trade unions, he was able to get many facilities for the workers, such as minimum wage, pension, medical relief and housing subsidy.
- As he grew up and cut his teeth in public life, JP wanted to overhaul the entire Indian society. For him, the political system had to be responsive to the aspirations of the poorest of the poor; the glaring inequalities that our economic system breeds had to end; the educational system should be geared to the needs of the nation; the canker of corruption in India’s political and administrative system had to be eradicated; the various social ills that afflict our country had to end. This, in simplistic and pragmatic terms, is what JP meant by “Total Revolution”.
Congress Socialist Party of JP Narayan
- It was founded in 1934by socialists such as Jayaprakash Narayan and Acharya Narendra Dev.
- It was a socialist groupwithin the Indian National Congress (INC).
- It believed in Marxist Ideas, Gandhism, Liberal and Social democracyof the west and showed allegiance to Indian National Congress (INC).
- The first All-India congress socialists’ conference was convened at Patna by Jaya Prakash Narayan in May 1934 under the presidentship of Acharya Narendra Dev to deliberate on the formation of Party.
- The first All India Congress Socialist Party was formed in Bombay in October 1934 under the presidentship of Sampurnananda and Jayaprakash Narayan as the General Secretary.
- Seeing the totalitarian ways and bloody purges unleashed in Soviet Russia, JP turned away from Communism.
- Again, on the attainment of independence, JP stood apart, concentrating his efforts on leading the Congress Party towards the socialist path. Those were the years when some of the finest intellectuals-turned-activists in the national movement, like Narendra Dev, Yusuf Meherally, Achyut Patwardhan, and Rammanohar Lohia joined hands with him, or more correctly, spurred him on in the new endeavour.
From Swarajya to Revolution and India’s Second Freedom
- As a result of the effect of Gandhian thought, Jayaprakash Narayan gave his thought about ‘gramraj’ and tried to implement it in his work of social reconstruction.
- According to him, the Gramraj means autonomous village republic, not a panchayat; this Gramraj will be governed by the villagers, not by government agencies.
- JP believed that every village should be like a small republic—politically independent and capable of taking its own decisions. It was a marriage of Gandhian-Indian concepts and modern Western democracy.
- His thoughtful, well-researched and brilliant book, The Reconstruction of Indian Polity, won him the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
- He was involved in the resolution of the Naxal and Naga issues and was also a key person in acquiring the surrender of dacoits in the Chambal Valley.
- This man who had turned a recluse refusing positions of high power and authority returned to active politics in 1974 at the ripe age of 72 when student unrest against corruption, unemployment, and high inflation spread like wild fire, threatening to turn violent and go beyond control.
- Mainly students spearheaded this uprising, popularly known as the “JP Movement”.Source-The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others
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