9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 9th, 2020

Arsenic-resistant rice cultivated in West Bengal

News:Researchers in West Bengal have developed and commercialised a rice variety named “Muktoshri” that is resistant to arsenic.


About the rice variety:

  • It is also called IET 21845.
  • It has been developed jointly by the Rice Research Station, West Bengal Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.
  • The variety absorbs a very less amount of arsenic from soil and water than the other varieties of rice.

Additional information:

About Arsenic:

  • Arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. However, it is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • People are exposed to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic through drinking contaminated water, using contaminated water in food preparation and irrigation of food crops among others.
  • The long term exposure to inorganic arsenic mainly can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. Skin lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.

Explained: What is genome mapping?

News: The Government of India has cleared an ambitious gene-mapping project called the Genome India Project.


About Genome Mapping:

  • Genome refers to an organism’s complete set of DNA which includes all its genes and mapping these genes simply means finding out the location of these genes in a chromosome.
  • Genetic mapping offers evidence that a disease transmitted from parent to child is linked to one or more genes and provides clues about which chromosome contains the gene and precisely where the gene lies on that chromosome

Significance of Genome Mapping:

  • It can be used to find out genes that are responsible for relatively rare, single-gene inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
  • It may also point out scientists to the genes that play a role in more common disorders and diseases such as asthma, cancer and heart disease among others.

About Genome India Project:

  • Genome India Project will involve 20 leading institutions including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and a few IITs.
  • The IISc’s Centre for Brain Research, an autonomous institute will serve as the nodal point of the project.
  • The first stage of the project will look at samples of around 10,000 persons from all over the country to form a grid that will enable the development of a reference genome.

Emergency Response Sanitation Units(ERSUs)

News:The Maharashtra government has directed all civic bodies in the state to set up Emergency Response Sanitation Units(ERSUs) to ensure safeguards for sanitation workers who clean manholes and sewers.


About ERSUs:

  • The municipal commissioner of the civic body concerned will be the Responsible Sanitation Authority(RSA). The unit would be headed by a senior civic officer and other civic officers should be on the ERSU advisory board.
  • The Unit will impart training to sanitation workers. Only workers trained and certified by an ERSU will be able to clean sewers but the priority will be on using machines to get such work done.
  • In case a worker dies while cleaning a sewer, the civic body will have to hold an inquiry and register a police complaint.

Additional information:

National Commission for Scheduled Castes Directions: To ensure effective implementation of the law, the commission issued various directives:

  • The workers have to be fully equipped with safety apparatus and oxygen masks in case they have to clean sewers manually.
  • A first information report has to be lodged against officials or contractors responsible for sending a worker to clean sewers manually, without proper gear.
  • The municipal corporations to get an insurance policy of Rs 10 lakh per worker as per the Supreme Court’s directions.

SARAS Initiative

News: Coal India Subsidiary NCL (Northern Coalfields Limited) has set up ‘SARAS’ to promote innovation and R&D.


About SARAS:

  • SARAS stands for Science and Applied Research Alliance and Support.
  • Aim: To promote innovation, R&D and skill development along with improving the company’s operational efficiency and utilize resources at optimum level.
  • It will also help and enable the company in integration of Innovation and Research for enhancing coal production, productivity and safety in mines.

National e-Governance Awards 2020

News: During the National Conference on e-Governance 2020, the National e-Governance Awards 2020 were presented at the valedictory session.


About the awards:

  • The awards are presented by the Department of Administrative reforms & Public Grievances(DARPG) every year during the National conference on e-Governance.
  • Aim:Torecognize and promote Excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives.
  • The Award recognizes some of the best Government to Government (G to G), Government to Citizen (G to C), Government to Business (G to B) initiatives taken by government departments.
  • It also recognizes initiatives in Start-ups, Academic Research Institutions as well as initiatives in adopting emerging technologies.

Explained: Idlib Province

News:Idlib is the last stronghold of the rebels and jihadist groups in Syria that has been witnessed eight years of bloody fighting with the Syrian government.


About Idlib:

  • Idlib province is one of the fourteen provinces of Syria.It is situated in north-western Syria bordering Turkey.
  • Idlib city, the province’s capital lies near the road linking city Aleppo to the capital Damascus,Syria.
  • The province has been hit by several suspected chemical attacks during the ongoing Syrian civil war.
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