9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 2nd, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- Working towards animal health
- The powerful and ubiquitous ED
- Where’s that law?
- Key lessons from public-private efforts will help us eliminate TB
- India and Switzerland’s deepening partnership
- India’s response to Sri Lanka and Myanmar crises is a study in contrast. It shouldn’t be
GS Paper 3
- Using a rupee route to get around a dominating dollar
- Contractual jobs in government: Government’s own ‘gig workers’
- Rethinking the coal issue
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Explained| AlphaFold: A tour de force in science
- Nagar Van Yojana
- CAG to release report on natural resource accounting in November 2022
- Manipur govt orders floating homestays off Loktak; Locals demand rollback
- New low-cost, polymer-based electrode can increase electrochemical performance of supercapacitors in wearable integrated devices
- Explained | What type of vaccine will work against monkeypox?
- Explained: As Chinese rocket debris plunges into ocean, the risks of space junk and its uncontrolled descent
- Centre launches several edu initiatives to mark 2 years of NEP 2020
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: The post is based on the article “Working towards animal health” published in The Hindu on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.
Relevance: To understand the concept of animal health.
News: COVID-19 have put the spotlight on the need to create greater collaborations and synergies between research on human health and animal health.
Why does India need to focus on animal health?
Increased animal husbandry: India has a livestock population of 1.6 billion and approximately 280 million farmers rely on livestock and related industries for livelihood. In the current atmosphere of climate change and unpredictable weather, animal husbandry assumes significance as a source of reliable income for farmers.
In India, the annual outbreak of zoonotic diseases translates into an estimated annual loss of $12 billion to the economy.
The volume of Trade: The dairy industry in the country is valued at $160 billion, while the meat industry is valued at $50 billion.
Protection of Wildlife: Livestock and related activities have significant overlap with wildlife and humans.
Increase in Zoonotic disease: The world witnessed around 9,580 instances of disease outbreaks from 2000 to 2010, of which 60% of diseases were zoonotic in nature.
Hence, even though animal diseases do not affect human health directly, they are responsible for huge consequences to farmers, exports and gross domestic product (GDP) growth nationally.
|Read more: Union Minister inaugurates India’s first ever Animal Health Summit|
What are the challenges in addressing animal health?
a) Health policies are largely been human-centric, leaving a large unaddressed gap for diseases of pandemic potential in animals, b) Synergies from advances in human vaccines have not been leveraged in animal vaccine development.
|Read more: Unite human, animal and environmental health to prevent the next pandemic – UN Report|
How India is promoting animal health?
Firstly, the department of Animal Husbandry has been working towards increased investment in preparedness to protect health and building economic resilience so that India could become a world leader in animal pandemic preparedness.
Secondly, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) has set up a dedicated ‘One Health Unit’ in collaboration with the Gates Foundation. One of the primary focus areas of the unit is to create an “animal pandemic preparedness” model by creating a mechanism for storage and seamless exchange of data and information on livestock health. This will be implemented through the National Digital Livestock Mission (NDLM).
The benefits of a successful model are, a) Seamless coordination with critical ecosystem partners to ensure the timely and successful development of animal drugs and vaccines, b) Enable the linking and comparison of real-time information regarding diseases between wildlife and human systems, c) A reliable mechanism for forecasting disease outbreaks, and d) Present a good starting point to lead global pandemic preparedness effort because this is faced by other countries as well.
Thirdly, Companies can now avail of incentives for setting up or expansion of animal vaccines and related infrastructure under the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Fund.
Fourthly, DAHD in collaboration with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), and others has set up an Empowered Committee for Animal Health to streamline the animal health regulatory ecosystem in the country.
|Read more: Govt plans ‘One Health’ to check antibiotics use in animals, humans|
Close collaboration is needed between veterinary science and human health experts to forge effective tools for pandemic preparedness.
Source: The post is based on the article “The powerful and ubiquitous ED” published in the Indian Express on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies..
Relevance: To understand the increasing powers of central agencies.
News: Now a days central agencies have taken over the investigation of sensational cases which were once done by state police forces. Now, only the Enforcement Directorate (ED), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), are in the limelight.
Among them ED became a prime agency following the enactment of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2002. Recently, the Supreme Court also acknowledged the ED’s sweeping powers under the PMLA.
What increased the powers of the central agencies?
Over the past few years, major amendments in key Acts have given teeth to central agencies. These agencies have the mandate for investigations across the country and are not bound by any jurisdictions.
This made the central agencies as big brothers of investigations, while state and city police forces function in their shadows with limited powers and jurisdictions.
The NIA, CBI, NCB, and other central investigative agencies now investigating high-profile cases. For instance, the Aryan Khan drug case and the drug nexus investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case by the NCB. Investigations in the Antilia case by the NIA.
|Must read: The functioning of the Enforcement Directorate|
What is the status of ED?
The ED is the only central investigative agency that does not require permission from the government or any authority to summon or prosecute politicians or government officials for inquiry into economic offences and financial crimes like money laundering.
Raids conducted by the ED between 2014 and 2022 had jumped 27 times as compared to the raids conducted during 2004-2014. Between 2004 and 2014 the number of ED raids was 114, which, in the period between 2014 and 2022, in a span of just eight years, increased to 3,010.
|Read more: How Enforcement Directorate (ED) became so powerful?|
The increased role of central agencies made the City and state police forces suffer a major loss of reputation. Mumbai Police, once considered second only to Scotland Yard has not had the same fame anymore.
Source: The post is based on the article “Where’s That Law?” Published in The Times of India on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India; Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
Relevance: Fundamental Right to Privacy
News: In May, The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issued an advisory warning against sharing Aadhaar numbers with unauthorized entities.
What are the issues related to privacy in India?
Five years ago, the SC ruled the right to privacy as a fundamental right. However, there is a statutory vacuum in the laws related to privacy. India doesn’t have a data protection law.
However, the Sri Krishna committee was constituted to make recommendations on the data protection law. Consequently, the GOI introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019. But the government didn’t conform to these recommendations and gave the government, sweeping exemptions from privacy norms. The government was endowed with powers to overrule the proposed Data Protection Authority, reducing it largely to an appendage rather than an independent regulator.
Civil society was worried about these exemptions, as these give space to the government to undermine privacy.
The joint committee of Parliament examining the Bill noted that it is difficult to distinguish between personal and non-personal data.
There are incidents of theft of data from public and private agencies collecting biometric information like fingerprints. For example, people have lost money from bank accounts due to Aadhar.
There are also threats like the Pegasus malware that infects mobile phones.
There is opacity in the data collection operations of tech companies.
What should be done?
With the era of 5G and ever-greater sharing of data between smart devices, and coming big jumps in computing power, there is a dire need for the data protection law in India.
Such a law is urgently needed to clarify the ownership, storage, and processing of personal data collected by public and private entities.
The law will codify the responsibilities and liabilities of these entities.
Source: The post is based on an article “Key lessons from public-private efforts will help us eliminate TB” published in the Business Standard on 2md August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Relevance: Reforms in delivery of public health services
News: In the recent period, the central and state governments have engaged with the private sector in different disease areas, particularly TB. Because the private sector has the potential of providing disruptive innovation for serving the public health goals of the Central and State governments in India.
Some private sector engagement programs
(1) The Private-Provider Interface Agency (PPIA): It was implemented in Mumbai in Maharashtra, Patna in Bihar, and Mehsana in Gujarat. The agency worked with a network of private doctors, chemists, laboratories, and hospitals to ensure that TB diagnosis and treatment practices adhere to the prescribed ‘Standards of TB Care’ in India.
As a result of the implementation of the PPIA program in Mumbai and Patna, there was a 351% and 532% increase in TB case notifications from the private sector, between 2014 and 2018. The actual reporting of cases resulted in a greater understanding of the TB burden on the ground.
(2) The Patient-Provider Support Agency (PPSA) model: The government has expanded the PPP model to the PPSA model. The government’s annual TB report tells us that PPSA programs have now been scaled up and launched in more than 170 districts across India.
(3) Others: Under the Chiranjeevi Yojana program, the Gujarat government is engaging with private providers to increase institutional deliveries. Under the Hausala Sajheedari initiative, the UP government is engaging private health facilities for family planning. The scheme works on a reimbursement basis under a public-private partnership (PPP) model
Potential to engage private players for Tuberculosis (TB)
The National Prevalence Survey talks about the actual burden of TB in India and health-seeking behaviors in the public and private sectors.
According to the survey, almost half of all patients with TB symptoms seek care in the private sector.
Some key challenges in the implementation of the PPSA Programme.
(1) First, there have been cases of unstandardized care in the private sector that led to treatment delays, thus contributing to the emergence of drug-resistant TB and increased mortality. For example, as per a 2019 study, it was estimated that a symptomatic patient approached multiple private healthcare providers. Therefore, up to 65 days were taken before an accurate diagnosis.
(2) The state and district administration will find it difficult to implement the PPSA because it is a new approach for the implementers.
(3) At present, very few non-government organizations (NGOs) apply for PPSA because information on such contracting isn’t easily visible or is difficult to understand.
What should be done?
(1) The state and district administration need to be convinced and encouraged to support and implement the PPSA model across their region. For this, effort should be taken for their capacity building and hand-holding support should be given to the state and district administrators. For this, state technical support units (STSUs) have already been established in some states.
(2) The tendering process should be expanded and advertised to allow diverse organizations in this segment to apply for consideration as PPSAs.
(3) The government can adopt the model of output-based financing for PPSAs. The PPSAs should be paid from ensuring notifications to conducting advanced diagnostic tests, HIV-diabetes testing, etc.
(4) The government can explore the applications of these models in various government initiatives such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) in case of difficult-to-treat forms of TB, such as extra-pulmonary TB, etc.
(5) The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), can help in achieving universal health coverage, quality healthcare for all, and also eliminating Tuberculosis (TB). This program aims to digitize the country’s healthcare ecosystem and to enable the creation of an enabling ecosystem for fostering public-private collaborations.
Source: The post is based on an article “India and Switzerland’s deepening partnership” published in the Indian Express on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations; bilateral Relationship
Relevance: India-Switzerland Relations
News: At present, Switzerland’s State Secretary in charge of Switzerland’s Foreign Policy is on an official visit to India.
Diplomatic relation: India and Switzerland signed the Treaty of Friendship in 1948 in New Delhi. Therefore, both countries are going to commemorate the 75th anniversary of our friendship next year.
Science and Technological relation: Both are collaborating on digital transformation, sustainability, health, life sciences, MedTech, infrastructure, cleantech, fintech, blockchain, AI, and robotics.
Trade and Commerce relation: Innovation and investment continue to be the primary drivers of bilateral relations. Switzerland is the 12th largest investor in India. There are about 100 Swiss companies which are manufacturing locally and supporting the Make in India initiative of India.
Potential areas of cooperation
There is enormous bilateral economic potential. For example, trade talks between Switzerland (as part of the European Free Trade Association EFTA) and India are high on the priority list.
Switzerland is one of the most innovative countries and also the home of world-leading technology companies. Therefore, Switzerland seeks to engage with India, the leader of the industry 4.0 revolution, in areas ranging from digital governance to digital self-determination.
Both Switzerland and India may work together to address climate change and its impact on security.
There are convergences in Swiss and Indian priorities at the UN Security Council. Switzerland has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC and desires to make the UNSC, an effective institution through the process of greater transparency as well as accountability. On similar lines, India has also been advocating for similar reform in the United Nations Security Council.
Both countries are committed to a robust and effective multilateral system. With reliable voices, both countries can together contribute to the global good.
Both countries have a convergence of the shared democratic values and foreign policy independence.
Source: The post is based on an article “India’s response to Sri Lanka and Myanmar crises is a study in contrast. It shouldn’t be” published in the Indian Express on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations; Bilateral Relations, etc.
Relevance: India-Myanmar Relations
News: On 1 August 2022, Myanmar is going to mark 18 months of the military coup in the country.
Status of Humanitarian Crisis in Myanmar
According to UN human rights monitors, over 2,000 people have been killed, and around 14,000 are in prison, including 90 lawmakers. Furthermore, over 7,00,000 are refugees, and half a million are internally displaced.
The contrast between the Indian response to the crisis in Sri Lanka and the dawning civil war in Myanmar could not be starker.
India’s response to Myanmar Crisis
Unlike India’s response to Sri Lanka, wherein it has extended $3.5 billion in credits and supplied essential fuel, India’s response to the Myanmar crisis is starkly different in various ways:
(1) The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has refused entry to Myanmar’s refugees.
(2) Further, the Union administration has also not supported the Mizoram government’s aid effort to refugees.
(3) It has been reported that India’s Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is supplying remote air defense and coastal surveillance equipment to the Junta regime.
Response of other countries
Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN); It took mediation with the Junta. The Junta has agreed to a five-point consensus with the regional grouping. It includes an immediate end to violence and a resumption of negotiations between the ousted administration and the Tatmadaw.
The US, EU, Australia, and Canada have announced targeted sanctions on the junta, and the EU imposed an embargo on arms sales to the country.
The international community has not recognized the National Unity Government as the legitimate successor of Myanmar’s pre-coup elected administration. Also, none of the Asian countries has stepped up to support the National unity government and the People’s Defence Force (PDF).
Even when the National unity government and PDS find funds to buy arms, their access is blocked. For example, Bangladesh and Thailand do not allow arms to cross to the resistance.
The UN Security Council has called for an arms embargo. However, it is mostly acting against the unity government and the PDF.
Both Russia and China continue to provide arms to the junta. Now, both countries are the top arms exporters to the Tatmadaw post-coup.
What are the factors that demand India to work towards the restoration of democracy in Myanmar?
Although India-Myanmar shares land and sea borders. India has faced a troubled history of cross-border insurgencies. And successive Indian administrations have maintained relations with the junta in the hope that they would cooperate against cross–border Indian armed groups. But these insurgencies have mostly petered out in the recent past. Therefore, India can work towards the restoration of our neighbour’s democracy.
In Mizoram, the Mizo people are distressed with the junta’s attack on Myanmar’s elected administration. They wish that the Union government of India must show compassion towards Myanmar’s people and also extend active support to the National Unity Government that formed post-coup.
What should be done?
China and Russia should stop arming the Tatmadaw. It can help a return to some kind of limited power-sharing.
One way in which Myanmar can regain democracy is if the junta is defeated. The 2008 Constitution of Myanmar mandates that around 20% of legislative seats should be reserved for the military.
All Myanmar’s neighbours need to unite together to put sanctions on the Junta government, especially nations such as Japan, Australia, and India that are members of the Quad along with the US.
GS Paper 3
Source: The post is based on the article “Using a rupee route to get around a dominating dollar” published in The Hindu on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Relevance: To understand the concept of promoting the Rupee in International Transactions.
News: A number of countries, including India, are now considering the use of other currencies to avoid the U.S. dollar and its hegemonic role in settling international transactions. This is due to recent geopolitical developments in the Russia-Ukraine war followed by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West.
What are the impacts of sanctions on Russia?
The impact of sanctions on Russia includes a) L-shaped stagnation in GDP which has declined by 10% to 15%, b) de-industrialisation and unemployment leading to sharp declines in the production of steel, wood and automobiles.
|Read more: RBI and the rupee: To break a free fall or not to|
About India’s past Rupee-Rubel transactions
A comprehensive bilateral trade and payments agreement was signed by India in 1953 with the Soviet bloc countries. The deal includes fixed exchange rates as agreed upon by trade partners and the offer of credit by countries that had a trade surplus to countries with a trade deficit.
The Soviet Union’s credit to India enabled the setting up of the Bhilai steel plant, other industrial units, oil refineries and pharmaceuticals — all controlled by India’s public sector. The agreement ended in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
|Read more: Explained: What Rs 80 to a dollar means|
How does India is promoting Rupees for international transactions at present?
The options for invoicing in rupees were already legal in terms of Regulation 7(1) of the Foreign Exchange Management (Deposit) Regulations, 2016.
In recent times, India has been taking an active interest in having the rupee used for trade and the settlement of payments with other countries. This includes Russia as well.
The Reserve Bank of India has recently taken a proactive stand to have a rupee settlement of the trade. The current circular aims to operationalise the special Vostro accounts with Russian banks in India to promote trade and gain a better status for the rupee as an international currency.
|Read more: Why there is no reason to panic over the rupee|
What are the challenges of using Rupees for international transactions?
These include 1) Lack of willingness of private parties (companies, banks) to accept the rupee for trade and settlements, 2) Challenge in agreeing to a common exchange rate between the rupee and the foreign country. For instance, the exchange rate between the rupee and the ruble (R-R), 3) Promoting Russian Ruble and Indian Rupee trade deals, especially on oil, can be considered by the West as India’s ‘indirect back door support’.
What are the advantages of using Rupees for international transactions?
a) India can avoid transactions in the highly-priced dollar which has an exchange value of ₹80, b) Provide stability to the Indian economy and prevent inflation and capital flight and c) Prevent the drop in foreign exchange reserves.
|Read more: External vulnerabilities: Time for a rupee review|
The R-R exchange rate can benefit both trade partners and counter the ongoing currency hierarchy.
Source: The post is based on the article “Government’s own ‘gig workers’” published in The Hindu on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Relevance: To understand the Contractual jobs in government.
News: While the Agnipath scheme has ignited a debate on the nature of jobs in the government, ‘temporary’ (gig) jobs have comprised the vast majority of available government employment. The modalities of “contractual” jobs in the public sector require a much deeper examination.
What are the types of outsourcing in government works?
Outsourcing has become the dominant mode of working in the government, from highly specialised tasks to the most routine ones. They may be classified into three categories; permanent, contractual and daily wagers.
There are two main methods to induct an ‘employee’ on contract in a government entity; 1) Directly on the payroll of the entity and, 2) Through a labour contractor or as part of any other contract entered into pursuant to a tender process. In this, the burden of responsibility is shifted to the contractor. This is the predominant mode of engaging contractual workers by the government.
In both cases, the costs and liabilities of the government entity are significantly reduced compared to a “permanent” position.
|Read more: Gig Economy in India and the Issues faced by Gig Workers – Explained, pointwise|
What are the advantages of contractual jobs in government?
1) It can augment the capacity of the government, particularly those works of the state that cater various services to people, 2) It creates a viable avenue of employment for India’s burgeoning working-age population.
What are the issues faced by contractual jobs in government?
Some common problems of contractual jobs also persist in government contractual jobs. These includes,
a) Non-payment of salaries for extended periods, b) Distorting of statutory deductions for the worker’s welfare such as provident fund (PF), employees’ state insurance (ESI), etc. by the labour contractor, and c) Uneven distribution of work vis-à-vis “permanent” employees.
The other challenges include a) Overwhelming reliance on contractors has undermined the functioning of government institutions, b) There is an endless chain of delegating tasks. At any time there are more people to get things done than those who could actually do things,
All this affects the quality of public service that is sought to be provided including sanitation, public transport, health, etc.
Note: The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs’ The Urban Learning Internship Program (TULIP) enables city authorities to directly engage a young workforce for a fixed term.
|Read more: Niti Aayog’s report on India’s gig economy: what has the think-tank recommended?|
How to improve the condition of contractual jobs in government?
It is important to recognise contractual jobs in government. In line with the vision of social justice enshrined in the Constitution, affirmative actions should be taken to address the issues associated with contractual jobs. It is time for the government to take some concrete measures for its own “gig workers”.
Source: The post is based on an article “Rethinking the coal issue” published in the Business Standard on 2nd August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure: Energy Sector
Relevance: Coal Sector Reforms
News: At present, the country has been frequently facing coal supply crises. India is compelled to import expensive coal to keep its thermal power plants running.
Status of coal reserves in India
According to the Geological Survey of India’s Inventory, India has one of the highest coal reserves in the world. The total assessed geological coal resource in the country is 352 billion tonnes.
The bulk of India’s reserves, i.e., over 282 billion tonnes, consist of the relatively low calorific value thermal or non-coking coal. This coal is used to power most of the thermal power plants.
The country has fewer reserves of the higher quality coking coal, which is used in the metallurgical industry. Therefore, India needs to import coking coal.
History of coal sector regulation in India
The bulk of India’s privately run coal mines were nationalized between 1971 and 1973. It was because, private mines were mismanaged and there were many serious accidents and safety-related concerns for coal miners. Further, private players lacked the resources and the inclination to improve coal mining efficiency and production.
Issues with the coal sector at present
It is not expected that India imports non-coking coal to power the thermal power plants of India because India possesses a large reserve of non-coking coal.
Causes for our failure to meet domestic demand for thermal coal
(1) Although Coal India Ltd (CIL) has increased its production, it has not been able to keep pace with rising demand.
(2) The perpetually cash-starved state DISCOMS, which delay payments to producers, who in turn delay payments to the CIL.
(3) Bad logistic planning in India, due to which the coal remains available at pithead instead of being available to power plants.
(4) The private sector coal mines are still marginal to India’s demand-supply equation.
(5) Another issue is the environmental one. The Union government’s enthusiasm for encouraging renewable power production has often made it turn a blind eye to the thermal power sector because coal emissions are seen as a chief villain on the climate change front by everyone.
Ultimate Causes: Policy failure to take the long view of the coal sector. The CIL has not been able to solve the problem of production lagging behind demand. Further, even during the period of the 1991 reforms, the coal issue was not on the priority list.
What should be done?
The government needs to realize that coal demand cannot be ignored for at least three decades, if not more. Therefore, India needs to plan for coal as it will remain the mainstay of thermal power generation. Simultaneously, India should look for solutions to utilize domestic coal reserves present across the country, while also minimizing emissions
The coal emissions can be reduced through technologies like coal liquefaction and carbon capture, storage, and utilization (CCUS) technologies.
India needs to encourage research and development of carbon capture, storage, and coal liquefaction technologies, like being done by China, Indonesia, and several other countries.
The coal liquefaction from domestic mines could serve as an alternative source of gas when crude and natural gas prices go too high.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained| AlphaFold: A tour de force in science” published in The Hindu on 2nd August 2022.
What is the News?
DeepMind, a company based in London and owned by Google announced that it had predicted the three-dimensional structures of more than 200 million proteins using AlphaFold.
What is AlphaFold?
AlphaFold is an AI-based protein structure prediction tool. It is based on a computer system called deep neural network.
How does AlphaFold work?
It uses processes based on “training, learning, retraining and relearning”. By using this method, AlphaFold has now predicted the structures of the entire 214 million unique protein sequences deposited in the Universal Protein Resource(UniProt) database.
What are the implications of this development?
Proteins are the business ends of biology, meaning proteins carry out all the functions inside a living cell. Therefore, knowing protein structure and function is essential to understanding human diseases.
Scientists predict protein structures using x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or cryogenic electron microscopy.
These techniques are not just time-consuming, they often take years and are based mainly on trial-and-error methods.
Therefore, the development of AlphaFold changes all of that. It is a watershed movement in science and structural biology in particular.
Is AlphaFold the only tool for predicting protein structures?
AlphaFold is neither flawless nor the only AI-based protein structure prediction tool.
RoseTTaFold, developed at the University of Washington in Seattle, U.S., is another tool. Although less accurate than AlphaFold, it can predict the structure of protein complexes.
Source: The post is based on the article “Nagar Van Yojana” published in PIB on 1st August 2022.
What is the News?
The Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change has informed Lok Sabha about Nagar Van Yojana.
What is Nagar Van Yojana?
Launched by: Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
Aim: To create Nagar Vans (urban forests) and Nagar Vatikas in the country with an objective to significantly enhance the tree outside forests and green cover, enhancement of biodiversity and ecological benefits to the urban and peri-urban areas apart from improving the quality of life of city dwellers.
Target: The scheme envisages developing 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatikas in the country during the period of 2020-21 to 2024-25.
Funding: The finances for the scheme will be paid for by the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016) funds.
Source: The post is based on the article “CAG to release report on natural resource accounting in November 2022” published in Business Standard on 16th July 2022.
What is the News?
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India stated it will be coming up with a report on Natural Resource Accounting(NRA) by November 2022.
What is Natural Resource Accounting(NRA)?
Natural Resource Accounting is a process of estimating the value of natural resource depletion and environmental degradation due to economic activities.
The concept of NRA emerged to capture the intimate interplay between the various components of the natural environment and the economic progress of a country.
It is based on the concept – ‘measurement of a resource leads to its better management’.
Origin of NRA Concept
The need for the NRA took its first step at the United Nations(UN) conference on Human Environment in 1970 when the relationship between economic development and environmental degradation was discussed for the first time.
The Brundtland Commission, set up by the UN, articulated the idea of the close association between the environment and economic activities in 1987, which was followed up by environmental accounting and the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
What are the initiatives taken globally for NRA?
The UN adopted the System of Economic and Environmental Accounting – Central Framework (SEEA – CF) in 2012 – which is the latest internationally accepted and adopted framework for resource accounting.
The UN General Assembly resolution titled, “Transforming our world; the 2030 agenda for sustainable development” (2016) which got the approval of more than 190 countries, requires the preparation of Natural Resource Accounts. India is a signatory to this resolution.
What are India Specific Initiatives for NRA?
CAG of India is a member of an international body of Supreme Audit Institutions called WGEA (Working Group on Environmental Auditing) which suggested (2010) that the audit institutions should aid their countries to adopt Natural Resources Accounts.
Source: The post is based on the article “Manipur govt orders floating homestays off Loktak; Locals demand rollback” published in Down To Earth on 29th July 2022.
What is the News?
Loktak Lake Authority of Manipur has recently issued a notice to remove all floating houses and fishing structures on Loktak Lake.
What is Loktak Lake?
What is the issue?
Loktak Lake is a Ramsar Site.It is also listed on the Montreux Record.
There has been an exponential rise in the number of athaphums (circular fish culture ponds) and houses (homestays) on the phumdis (floating organic mass) of the lake. This has put the lake at risk, impacting the natural environment adversely.
Moreover, there has also been a sharp reduction in fish production and the traditional fisheries due to the Ithai barrage that was constructed in 1983.
Due to this, the Loktak Lake Authority has issued a notice to remove all floating houses and fishing structures on Loktak Lake.
Note: Manipur Government is trying to rejuvenate the ecological condition of Loktak lake and delist it from the Montreux record.
What is a Montreux Record?
The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
Currently, two wetlands of India are in Montreux record: Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake (Manipur).
Chilka lake (Odisha)was placed in the record but was later removed from it.
New low-cost, polymer-based electrode can increase electrochemical performance of supercapacitors in wearable integrated devices
Source: The post is based on the article “New low-cost, polymer-based electrode can increase electrochemical performance of supercapacitors in wearable integrated devices” published in PIB on 1st August 2022.
What is the News?
A team of Indian scientists have developed a new low-cost, pristine, conducting polymer-based electrode/redox-active electrolyte combination that can give enhanced electrochemical performance and cycling stability to supercapacitors.
What are Supercapacitors?
Supercapacitors are electronic devices which are used to store extremely large amounts of electrical charge. They are also known as double-layer capacitors or ultracapacitors.
Supercapacitors combine the characteristics of conventional capacitors and batteries to give a sudden kick-start to devices by providing a large amount of power and sustained energy release.
The electrode materials of supercapacitors play a vital role in determining the performance and stability of energy devices.
Conducting polymers like polyaniline and polypyrrole are excellent candidates for electrode materials owing to their flexibility, stability and tunable electrical and electrochemical properties. They are also inexpensive, lightweight and can be synthesized easily.
However, supercapacitors fabricated using these electrodes fail to sustain the initial electrochemical capacitance after a few cycles of continuous operation.
The poor energy density of these devices is another issue that limits the use of these devices in practical applications.
What have the scientists developed now?
Scientists have found a strategy to improve the performance of polyaniline(PANI)-based supercapacitors.
They found that electrodes made from polyaniline(PANI) when used with an electrolyte powered with an additive that boosts redox reactions (redox-additive) can drive these energy storage devices to deliver incredible performances.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | What type of vaccine will work against monkeypox?” published in The Hindu on 31st July 2022.
What is the News?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern(PHEIC).
After this, governments around the world are initiating steps towards developing or even sourcing a vaccine against monkeypox.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox belongs to the orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus which causes smallpox.
It is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus, unlike the RNA virus. This makes it far more stable and less prone to rapid mutations.
There are two distinct genetic clades of the monkeypox virus: the central African (Congo Basin) clade and the West African clade. The Congo Basin clade has historically caused more severe disease and was thought to be more transmissible.
Are there any vaccines against Monkeypox?
There is yet no dedicated monkeypox vaccine, but vaccinations against smallpox were found to be 85% effective in preventing smallpox, a disease eradicated in 1980.
In 2019, the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), approved the JYNNEOS Vaccine for the prevention of smallpox, monkeypox and other diseases caused by orthopoxviruses in adults 18 years of age and older and categorized as having a “high risk of infection”.
These include contacts of those who have been confirmed to have contracted a monkeypox infection, sexual partners of those confirmed with an infection and those whose immune systems are compromised.
How does JYNNEOS Vaccine work?
JYNNEOS vaccine has been developed by Danish biotechnology company, Bavarian Nordic.
It contains a live vaccinia virus that does not replicate efficiently in human cells. The vaccinia virus is the smallpox virus but is made incapable of replicating within the body.
It is administered as two injections 28 days apart. The immune response takes 14 days after the second dose.
Explained: As Chinese rocket debris plunges into ocean, the risks of space junk and its uncontrolled descent
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: As Chinese rocket debris plunges into the ocean, the risks of space junk and its uncontrolled descent” published in Indian Express on 31st July 2022.
What is the News?
The debris from a large Chinese rocket – the Long March 5B — crashed to earth over the Pacific and the Indian oceans.
What is an uncontrolled re-entry?
Generally, the core or first stage of a rocket is made up of heavy pieces that usually don’t reach orbit after liftoff, and fall back safely along a near-precise projected trajectory.
If they do enter an orbit, then a costly de-orbit manoeuvre is required for a steered, controlled return using engine burn. Without a de-orbit manoeuvre, the orbital core stage makes an uncontrolled fall.
Most nations’ rockets separate the launcher from the payload before leaving the atmosphere. An extra engine then gives the payload a final boost. But China’s Long March 5B series does not use a second engine and pushes right into orbit.
Are there laws regulating space junk?
The Space Liability Convention of 1972 defines responsibility in case a space object causes harm.
The treaty says that a launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the earth or to aircraft, and liable for damage due to its faults in space. The convention also provides for procedures for the settlement of claims for damages.
However, there is no law against space junk crashing back to earth.
Were there any settlements made under the Space Liability Convention?
The only settlement using the Liability Convention was between the erstwhile Soviet Union and Canada over the debris of Soviet Cosmos 954 falling in a barren region.
Canada was paid CAD 3 million in accordance with international law for cleaning up the mess.
Source: The post is based on the article “Centre launches several edu initiatives to mark 2 years of NEP 2020” published in Hindustan Times on 30th July 2022.
What is the News?
The Government of India has launched several initiatives on the second anniversary of the National Education Policy(NEP) 2020.
What are the initiatives launched on the 2nd anniversary of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020?
Kalashala initiative: It will be launched in 750 schools. It envisions educating children about the various art forms of India & help them discover the country’s rich cultural heritage. The school students will learn about various art forms through lecture demonstrations by a visiting artist.
National innovation and entrepreneurship policy for schools in order to promote a learning environment where creativity, ideation, innovation, problem-solving and entrepreneurship skills of students are nurtured, irrespective of their age.
Bharatiya Games Initiative: Under this, the Government will introduce 75 Bharatiya games like ‘gilli danda’, ‘kabaddi’ in schools under the Indian Knowledge Systems(IKS) initiative.
What is the Indian Knowledge Systems(IKS)?
Indian Knowledge System(IKS) is an innovative cell under Ministry of Education(MoE) at AICTE, New Delhi.
Purpose: It is established to promote interdisciplinary research on all aspects of IKS. Such as preserving and disseminating IKS for further research and societal applications.
Activities: It will actively engage in spreading the rich heritage of our country and traditional knowledge in the field of Arts and literature, Agriculture, Basic Sciences, Engineering & Technology, Architecture, Management, Economics etc.
About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – August 19, 2022
Source: The post is based on the article “What is causing Arctic warming?” published in The Hindu on 18th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 – geographical features and their location changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps). Relevance: About the Polar and Arctic amplification. News: A recent study points out that the Arctic is heating… Continue reading Arctic amplification: What is causing Arctic warming?
Source: The post is based on the article “Finding a home” published in The Hindu on 18th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – mechanisms, laws, institutions, and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections. Relevance: About facilitating adoption in India. News: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice have tabled… Continue reading Facilitating adoption in India: Finding a home
For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE → Introduction The Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) was launched by the Prime Minister in January 2018. The programme seeks to improve socio-economic outcomes. With this initiative, the Government has tried to change the development narrative by referring to these districts as ‘aspirational’ instead of ‘backward’. It calls for reimagining governance, vesting greater… Continue reading Aspirational Districts Programme: Features, Issues and Outcomes – Explained, pointwise
Dear Friends, Persisting with the tradition of guiding UPSC Civil Service aspirants over the years in multidimensional spheres, ForumIAS is coming up with new courses. Targeted courses for CSE 2023 Handholding support, creative guidance and critical evaluation based approach for freshers as well as for those struggling to clear specific stages of UPSC CSE for… Continue reading Schedule for Upcoming Courses by ForumIAS for CSE 2023
Source: The post is based on the article “Union Minister launches India’s first saline water LED lamps ‘Roshni’” published in Business Standard on 14th August 2022. What is the News? The Union Minister has launched India’s first saline water lantern named ‘Roshni’. What is Roshni? Roshni is India’s first saline water lantern which uses seawater… Continue reading Union Minister launches India’s first saline water LED lamps ‘Roshni’
Source: The post is based on the article “Government lost ₹8,000 crore due to five cases: NITI Aayog” published in The Hindu on 16th August 2022. What is the News? Niti Aayog has commissioned a report titled “Economic Impact of Select Decisions of the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal of India”. What is the… Continue reading Government lost ₹8,000 crore due to five cases: NITI Aayog
Source: The post is based on the article “Over 7.9 million enrolled under Bal Aadhaar initiative” published in Hindustan Times on 16th August 2022. What is the News? Over 7.9 million children aged up to five were enrolled under the Unique Identification Authority’s Bal Aadhaar initiative from April to July. What is Bal Aadhar? Baal… Continue reading Over 7.9 million enrolled under Bal Aadhaar initiative
Source: The post is based on the article “India won’t make sovereign commitment on future digital services tax” published in Business Standard on 18th August 2022. What is the News? In a move that could delay the implementation of a Global Tax Deal, India and other developing countries under the G24 grouping have objected to… Continue reading India won’t make sovereign commitment on future digital services tax
Source: The post is based on the article “Voters prefer to earn a dignified earning over freebies: Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 18th August 2022. What is the News? The Supreme Court while hearing a petition to curb the practice of offering freebies has said that the term “freebie” should not be confused… Continue reading Voters prefer to earn a dignified earning over freebies: Supreme Court