Current Affairs : 13 March 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
- Development and indigenization of technology.
Combat Casualty Drugs
What to study?
- For Prelims: About INMAS, DRDO and composition of Combat Casualty Drugs.
- For Mains: Significance, need and potential of these drugs.
Context: DRDO’s medical laboratory has come up with a range of ‘combat casualty drugs’ that can extend the golden hour of gravely wounded security personnel till the trooper is shifted to hospital.
It has been developed at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Combat Casualty Drugs:
The spectrum includes bleeding wound sealants, super absorptive dressings and glycerated salines, all of which can save lives in the event of warfare in jungle and high altitude areas as well as in terror attacks.
Glycerated saline is a battlefield intravenous fluid that does not freeze till -18 degrees Celsius and is useful in handling trauma cases in high altitude areas. Glycerated saline, unlike normal saline, reduces inflammation. The drug can be lifesaving, particularly if the traumatic edema, collection of fluid in tissues and cavities of the body, is in the brain or lungs.
A special medicated dressing material, in the kit, is 200 times more absorptive than normal dressings during bleeding wounds. These cellulose fibre-based dressings are more effective in stopping bleeding and keeping the wound clean. Additionally, antiseptics, antibiotics and curcumin can be impregnated in the dressing which acts as a slow drug release system.
Chitosan gel helps in preventing blood loss by forming a film over the wound. Coupled with platelets and red blood cells aggregation, it stops the bleeding. Its antibacterial and wound health properties are of added benefit. Chitosan gel is suitable for sealing wounds by twin action: haemostasis by chemical action and filing action. It can be used for wounds on the limbs and also cavities such as abdomen and thorax.
Part of the range is hypocholorous acid (HOCL), a disinfectant for troopers involved in jungle warfare. It is helpful in treating necrotising fascitis, a rapidly progressing bacterial infection of soft tissues. Bacterial toxins cause local tissue damage and necrosis, as well as blunt immune system responses.
Why do we need such kits?
The challenges are many. There is only one medical person and limited equipment to take care of soldiers during combat in most cases. This is compounded by battlefield conditions such as forests, hilly terrain and inaccessibility of vehicles.
Significance and the need:
- 90% of gravely wounded security personnel succumb to injuries within a few hours. And the availability of proper medical facilities can extend this golden period and help save lives. Chances of survival and minimum disability are highest when effective first aid care is given within the golden hour.
- The main battlefield emergencies are excess bleeding, sepsis, shock, hypovolemia (decreased blood volume) and pain. DRDO’s indigenously made medicines will be a boon for paramilitary and defence personnel during warfare.
- Various organizations.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About BARC, atomic energy potential of the country and its significance.
Context: New Director to BARC.
- The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is India’s premier nuclear research facility headquartered in Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
- It is a multi-disciplinary research centre with extensive infrastructure for advanced research and development covering the entire spectrum of nuclear science, engineering and related areas.
- BARC has designed and built India’s first Pressurised water reactor at Kalpakkam, a 80MW land based prototype of INS Arihant’s nuclear power unit, as well as the Arihant’s propulsion reactor.
Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha conceived the Nuclear Program in India. Dr Bhabha established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) for carrying out nuclear science research in 1945. To intensify the effort to exploit nuclear energy for the benefit of the nation, Dr Bhabha established the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) in January 1954 for multidisciplinary research program essential for the ambitious nuclear program of India. AEET was later renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
- BARC’s core mandate is to sustain peaceful applications of nuclear energy, primarily for power generation.
- It manages all facts of nuclear power generation, from theoretical design of reactors to, computerised modelling and simulation, risk analysis, development and testing of new reactor fuel materials, etc.
- It also conducts research in spent fuel processing, and safe disposal of nuclear waste.
- Its other research focus areas are applications for isotopes in industries, medicine, agriculture, etc. BARC operates a number of research reactors across the country.
Significance and potential of atomic energy:
Atomic Energy has a key role in reducing the carbon intensity of the overall Power sector of India. Coal based thermal power contributes 186,293 MW (July 2016), 61% of the total installed power while renewables and nuclear contribute 44,237 MW (14.5%) and 5,780 MW (1.9%) respectively.
While renewable sources of energy are environment friendly, they are intermittent sources of power. Nuclear power, being a non-intermittent and concentrated source of power with negligible carbon footprint, is an essential component of the Indian power-mix to meet the International environmental commitments of India.
Relevant articles from various News Papers:
- Awareness in space.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About LRO- mission objectives, components and significance, Significance of Lunar water and benefits.
Context: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has observed water molecules moving around the dayside of Moon, an advance that could help us learn about the accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future lunar missions.
Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) — the instrument aboard LRO — measured sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the Moon’s surface, which helped characterise lunar hydration changes over the course of a day.
Uses of lunar water:
Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management; if these materials do not need to be launched from Earth, that makes these future missions more affordable.
Source of Moon’s surface water:
- Scientists had hypothesised that hydrogen ions in the solar wind may be the source of most of the moon’s surface water. As a result, when the moon passes behind the earth and is shielded from the solar wind, the ‘water spigot’ should essentially turn off.
- However, the water observed by LAMP does not decrease when the moon is shielded by the earth and the region influenced by its magnetic field, suggesting water builds up over time, rather than ‘raining’ down directly from the solar wind.
How is lunar water bound to surface materials?
Water molecules remain tightly bound to the regolith until surface temperatures peak near lunar noon. Molecules thermally desorb and can bounce to a nearby location that is cold enough for the molecule to stick or populate the moon’s extremely tenuous atmosphere or exosphere, until temperatures drop and the molecules return to the surface.
About Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO):
LRO is a NASA mission to the moon within the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP) in preparation for future manned missions to the moon and beyond (Mars).
LRO is the first mission of NASA’s `New Vision for Space Exploration’, which President Bush announced on January 14, 2004, in sending more robot and human explorers beyond Earth orbit.
The objectives of LRO are to:
- Identify potential lunar resources.
- Gather detailed maps of the lunar surface.
- Collect data on the moon’s radiation levels.
- Study the moons polar regions for resources that could be used in future manned missions or robotic sample return missions.
- Provide measurements to characterize future robotic explorers, human lunar landing sites and to derive measurements that can be used directly in support of future Lunar Human Exploration Systems.
Sources: the hindu.
- Issues related to health and human resources.
WHO strategy to fight flu pandemics
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Key features of the strategy, flu pandemics- concerns, need for coordinated approach.
Context: The World Health Organization has launched a strategy to protect people worldwide over the next decade against the threat of influenza, warning that new pandemics are “inevitable”.
The strategy meets one of WHO’s mandates to improve core capacities for public health, and increase global preparedness and was developed through a consultative process with input from Member States, academia, civil society, industry, and internal and external experts.
Influenza epidemics, largely seasonal, affect around one billion people and kill hundreds of thousands annually. WHO describes it as one of the world’s greatest public health challenges.
Through the implementation of the new WHO global influenza strategy, the world will be closer to reducing the impact of influenza every year and be more prepared for an influenza pandemic and other public health emergencies.
- WHO’s new strategy, for 2019 through 2030, aims to prevent seasonal influenza, control the virus’s spread from animals to humans and prepare for the next pandemic.
- It calls for every country to strengthen routine health programmes and to develop tailor-made influenza programmes that strengthen disease surveillance, response, prevention, control, and preparedness.
- It recommends annual flu vaccines as the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease, especially for healthcare workers and people at higher risk of influenza complications.
- It also calls for the development of more effective and more accessible vaccines and antiviral treatments.
The new strategy is the most comprehensive and far-reaching that WHO has ever developed for influenza. It outlines a path to protect populations every year and helps prepare for a pandemic through strengthening routine programmes. It has two overarching goals:
- Build stronger country capacities for disease surveillance and response, prevention and control, and preparedness. To achieve this, it calls for every country to have a tailored influenza programme that contributes to national and global preparedness and health security.
- Develop better tools to prevent, detect, control and treat influenza, such as more effective vaccines, antivirals and treatments, with the goal of making these accessible for all countries.
The on-going risk of a new influenza virus transmitting from animals to humans and potentially causing a pandemic is real. The question is not if we will have another pandemic, but when. We must be vigilant and prepared – the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention.
An influenza pandemic is a global epidemic caused by a new influenza virus to which there is little or no pre-existing immunity in the human population. Influenza pandemics are impossible to predict; and they may be mild, or cause severe disease or death. Severe disease may occur in certain risk groups, which may correspond to those at risk of severe disease due to seasonal influenza. However, healthy persons are also likely to experience more serious disease than that caused by seasonal influenza.
The most recent pandemic occurred in 2009 and was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus. It is estimated to have caused between 100 000 and 400 000 deaths globally in the first year alone.
Preparedness and response:
Influenza pandemics, whether mild, moderate or severe, affect a large proportion of the population, which puts significant strains on health and other essential services and may result in significant economic losses. As an influenza pandemic may last months or even years, this requires a sustained response in the health sector but also in other sectors providing essential services, such as energy and food production. For this reason, countries develop multi-sectoral preparedness plans describing their strategies and operational plans for responding to a pandemic.
Sources: the hindu.
- Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
National Register of Citizens (NRC)
What to study?
- For Prelims: Particulars of NRC.
- For Mains: Update of NRC- issues associated including ethical concerns.
Context: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has assured the Supreme Court that names have not been deleted from the Assam electoral roll on the basis of their exclusion from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was published in July last year.
What’s the issue?
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court alleging that that several categories of persons were deprived of voting rights ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
- One category included persons whose names figured in the draft NRC but not in the voter list.
- Second category included persons whose names were deleted from the voter list appeared in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018. The petition claimed these people had voted in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014.
- The third category of people were those declared foreigners by the foreigners’ tribunal as well as by the Guwahati High Court; the court order was stayed by the Supreme Court.
- The fourth category comprised those already declared foreigners by the tribunal; this was set aside by the Supreme Court. However, their names had been deleted from the voters list pursuant to the order of the tribunal.
- In the fifth category were those whose names had not been included in the draft NRC, but their family members were included; these had filed a claim for the inclusion of their names.
About National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam:
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the list of Indian citizens of Assam. It was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951.
For a person’s name to be included in the updated NRC list of 2018, he/ she will have to furnish:
- Existence of name in the legacy data: The legacy data is the collective list of the NRC data of 1951 and the electoral rolls up to midnight of 24 March 1971.
- Proving linkage with the person whose name appears in the legacy data.
Why was it updated?
The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.
Why is March 24, 1971 the cut-off date?
There have been several waves of migration to Assam from Bangladesh, but the biggest was in March 1971 when the Pakistan army crackdown forced many to flee to India. The Assam Accord of 1985 that ended the six-year anti-foreigners’ agitation decided upon the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date.
Who is a citizen in Assam?
The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended after the Assam Accord for all Indian-origin people who came from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966 to be deemed as citizens. Those who came between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 were eligible for citizenship after registering and living in the State for 10 years while those entering after March 25, 1971, were to be deported.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Arecanut gets its first GI tag for ‘Sirsi Supari’:
Context: For the first time in the arecanut sector, ‘Sirsi Supari’ grown in Uttara Kannada has received the Geographic Indication (GI) tag. It is cultivated in Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi taluks. Totgars’ Cooperative Sale Society Ltd., Sirsi, is the registered proprietor of the GI.
- The arecanut grown in these taluks have unique features such as a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, size, cross-sectional views, taste, etc. These features are not seen in arecanut grown in any other regions. Its average dry weight is 7.5 g and average thickness is 16 mm. This particular variety has a unique taste due to differences in chemical composition.
What is a constitution bench?
Context: Constitution benches of India’s Supreme Court have delivered landmark judgments, especially in recent months.
What is it?
- Constitution benches normally have five judges, but there have been benches with seven, nine and even 13 judges.
- Article 145(3)says at least five judges need to hear cases that involve “a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution, or any reference under Article 143, which deals with the power of the President of India to consult the Supreme Court.
Orange-bellied ‘starry dwarf frog’ discovered in Indian mountains:
Context: Starry dwarf frog- a thumbnail-sized species was recently discovered in India’s Western Ghats, one of the world’s “hottest” biodiversity hotspots.
- Scientists have named the frog Astrobatrachus kurichiyana for its constellation-like markings and the indigenous people of Kurichiyarmala, the hill range where it was found.
- kurichiyana is not only a new species to science. It’s the sole member of an ancient lineage, a long branch on the frog tree of life that researchers have classified as a new subfamily, Astrobatrachinae.
- Dark brown with a bright orange underbelly and speckled with pale blue dots, the frog camouflages well in wet leaf litter, and only a few individuals have been found.
What are ‘cool-spots’?
‘Cool-spots’ are the world’s last refuges where high numbers of threatened species still persist. Cool-spots could be the result of protection or because of intact habitat that has not been cleared yet.
Summaries of important Editorials:
What is First-past-the-post system?
What is FPTP system?
The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system is also known as the simple majority system. In this voting method, the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner. This system is used in India in direct elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
Problems with FPTP:
- While FPTP is relatively simple, it does not always allow for a truly representative mandate, as the candidate could win despite securing less than half the votes in a contest. Also, smaller parties representing specific groups have a lower chance of being elected in FPTP.
- Under the existing system, representatives may be elected by a minority of votes, but their party grabs the majority of seats in the legislature.
- Also the existing system also encourages parties to target vote-banks, enter divisive electoral strategies and field tainted candidates.
How Proportional Representation (PR) is better than FPTP?
- PR system will allow parties to have their presence in the legislatures according to their vote share instead of being wiped out completely even after getting a sizeable vote share.
- PR systems would allow for representation of minorities and smaller parties in the legislatures which are not represented adequately now.
- PR would also bring the nation closer and will complete the total integration of India. It will put an end to extreme regionalism and divisive caste and communal politics.
- PR would also put a stop to the exaggeration of regional differences as it allows all of the parties with significant levels of support to gain seats across the country.
- It would also put a stop to the inflated seat count of the Blocs controlled by smaller parties who generally receive even less than 10% the total votes polled across India, but a much greater percentage of the seats and a disproportionate bargaining power at the Centre.
Problems with PR system:
- PR system carries the threat of further dividing society on caste, religious and other lines. When parties are promised seats in proportion to their votes, politicians will find innovative ways means of forming newer parties.
- It would make our MPs and MLAs even less responsive to people’s needs.
- PR would place India’s democracy squarely in the hands of party bosses. When candidates win by being on the party’s list, they must woo their bosses and represent their parties, not the people. This can only intensify partisanship in India’s Parliament and state legislatures.
- PR would revive India’s problem with unstable governments. When parties are guaranteed representation on the basis of percentage of votes received, they would have little interest in forming or sustaining coalitions. Their ideological or other vote-bank would be present even if a government falls.
- The constant politicking caused by PR would make it impossible for governments to take bold or transformative decisions. Corruption would grow, for people wouldn’t be able to oust a dishonest representative individually.
- PR is a recipe for instability as exemplified by the current political deadlock in Nepal, which has adopted the PR system.