Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 9 June, 2021

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“Sea Snot” outbreak in Turkey and its effect on the marine ecosystem

What is the News?

Sea Snot accumulation in the Sea of Marmara (Turkey) is causing grave environmental concern. This is because Sea Snot can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.

  • The Sea of Marmara is an inland sea entirely within the borders of Turkey. The sea connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey’s Asian and European lands.
Sea of Marmara (Source: Wiki)

About Sea Snot:

  • Sea Snot is also known as Sea Saliva or Marine Mucilage. It is a collection of thick, slimy, mucus-like substance found in the sea. It is composed of compounds secreted by marine organisms.
    • Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants and some microorganisms.
  • Formation: Sea Snot is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients as a result of water pollution combined with the effects of climate change.
    • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming. Water pollution also causes the problem.

Sea Snot in Turkey:

Sea Snot (Source: Reuters)
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in Turkey in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece. But the current outbreak in the Sea of Marmara is by far the biggest in the country’s history.
  • Reason for this outbreak: The overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change. The uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has also led to the present crisis in Turkey.

Effects of Sea Snot:

Marine Ecosystem:

  • The growth of the mucilage which floats upon the surface of the sea like brown phlegm poses a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • It has already caused mass deaths among the fish population and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • Moreover, the mucilage is now covering the surface of the sea and has also spread to 80-100 feet below the surface.
  • If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.

Livelihood:

  • The Sea Snot outbreak has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen.
  • The sludge is getting collected in the fishermen’s nets making them so heavy that they break or get lost.
  • Moreover, the mucilage coating the strings makes the nets visible to fish and keeps them away.

Diseases:

  • Several experts have warned that the ‘sea snot’ can cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

Source: Indian Express


World Bank’s “Global Economic Prospects Report” predicts India’s growth as 8.3%

What is the News?

The World Bank has released the Global Economic Prospects Report.

About the Global Economic Prospects Report:

  • Global Economic Prospects is a World Bank Group flagship report. It is issued twice a year, in January and June.
  • Aim: To examine global economic developments and prospects with a special focus on emerging markets and developing economies.

Key Findings of Global Economic Prospects Report related to India:

  • The World Bank has reduced its growth forecast for India for the 2021-’22 financial year to 8.3% from 10.1% estimated in April.
    • Reason: It has attributed it to the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that slowed down the economic revival in early 2021.
  • Moreover, the report has said that the economic activity in India would likely follow a similar but less pronounced ‘collapse and recovery’ trend seen during the first wave.

Key Global Findings of Global Economic Prospects Report:

  • The global economy is expected to expand 5.6% in 2021. This is the fastest post-recession pace in 80 years, largely due to strong rebounds from a few major economies.
  • However, many emerging markets and developing economies continue to struggle due to the following reasons,
    • A resurgence of COVID-19 cases,
    • Lagging vaccination progress
    • The withdrawal of policy support in some instances.
  • Among major economies, the growth of the US is projected to reach 6.8% this year. This is due to large-scale fiscal support and the easing of pandemic restrictions.
  • Among emerging markets and developing economies, China is anticipated to rebound to 8.5% this year, reflecting an increase in demand.

Source: The Hindu


ISRO develops 3 types of ventilators(PRENA, VaU, SVASTA) to battle Covid-19

What is the News?

Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has developed three types of ventilators(PRENA, VaU, SVASTA). These three ventilators have been developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre(VSSC), a major space research centre of ISRO in Kerala.

Moreover, ISRO has said that it will transfer the technology of these ventilators to industry for clinical usage as India battles the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

Which are those three ventilators developed by ISRO?

 PRANA(Programmable Respiratory Assistance for the Needy Aid):

  • PRANA is a low-cost and portable critical care ventilator. The ventilator is based on the automated compression of an AMBU (Artificial Manual Breathing Unit) bag.
    • AMBU is a device commonly used to provide positive pressure ventilation to patients who are not breathing or not breathing adequately.
    • Positive pressure ventilation is a form of respiratory therapy that involves the delivery of air or a mixture of oxygen combined with other gases by positive pressure into the lungs.
  • Features:
    • The ventilator has a control system that includes an airway pressure sensor, flow sensor, oxygen sensor as well as expiration and PEEP (Positive End Expiratory Pressure) control valve.
    • The ventilator supports both invasive and non-invasive ventilation modes.
    • It is capable of giving mandatory breaths (controlled by a ventilator) as well as spontaneous breaths (controlled by the patient).
    • A robust algorithm for controlled and safe ventilation of the patient is implemented in the device. This raises an alarm and opens safety valves to prevent barotrauma, asphyxia during the ventilation.
    • There are also provisions to attach bacterial viral filters at each interface to prevent cross-infection and the contamination of air.

VaU(Ventilation assist Unit):

  • VaU is an ICU grade positive pressure mechanical ventilator. It can assist or replace spontaneous breathing problems in patients under respiratory distress.
  • Working: The ventilator is based on a centrifugal blower that draws in filtered ambient air, compresses it and delivers it to the patient to achieve ventilation. It can therefore operate without a compressed pneumatic source.
  • The ventilator has been configured to operate in a variety of patient/ventilator triggered invasive and non-invasive ventilation modes. It also has provisions to detect fault conditions and raise alarms.

Space Ventilator Aided System for Trauma Assistance(SVASTA)

  • SVASTA is a gas-powered ventilator. It can be used for non-invasive ventilation. Hence, it is well-suited for emergency use for first-line treatment and as transit ventilators inside vehicles.
  • Working: The ventilator runs on compressed air. It is able to perform various ventilation conditions using manual mechanical settings.
  • Significance: The basic design of the ventilator is simple as the components of it can be easily mass-produced for emergency use in pandemic like situations.

Source: Indian Express


Haryana’s “Pran Vayu Devta Pension Scheme” and “Oxy Van” (Oxygen Forests)

What is the News?

Haryana Government has launched the Pran Vayu Devta Pension Scheme (PVDPS) and Oxy Van(Oxygen Forests) on the occasion of World Environment Day.

About Pran Vayu Devta Pension Scheme(PVDPS):

  • Pran Vayu Devta Pension Scheme(PVDPS) is an initiative to honour all those trees which are of the age of 75 years and above. As they have served humanity throughout their life by producing oxygen, reducing pollution, providing shade and so on.
  • Such trees will be identified throughout the state and these will be looked after by involving local people in this scheme.
  • For the maintenance of these trees, a “pension amount” of Rs 2,500 would be given per year.
  • The pension shall be given to the Village panchayats and Urban Local Bodies department for the upkeep of the trees installing plates, grilles among others.
  • This ‘tree pension’ shall continue to increase every year on lines similar to the Old Age Samman Pension Scheme in the state.

About Oxy Van:

  • Oxy Van are identified pieces of land on which as many as 3 crore trees would be planted.
  • The Oxy Vans will occupy 10% of the 8 lakh hectares of land across Haryana.
  • The total cost of the project shall be Rs 1 crore.

Source: Indian Express


“Srivilliputhur-Mudumalai Tiger Reserve” and “Vaigai River”

What is the news?

The declaration of the Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu can rejuvenate Vaigai, India’s heritage river.

Tiger Reserves in Tamil Nadu
Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve will be the 5th tiger reserve of Tamil Nadu. The other four are:

  • Mudumalai (MTR)
  • Anamalai (ATR)
  • Sathyamangalam (STR)
  • Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR)

About Vaigai River:

  • Vaigai is a river in Tamil Nadu. The river is also referred to as Shiva Ganga in many places.
  • It is also called Kritamaala, for it runs around the city of Madurai like a garland
  • It travels through the Pandiya Nadu region of Tamil Nadu.
  • Historic significance: The Vaigai was the river that flowed through the city of Madurai, the capital of the ancient and prosperous Pandya kingdom located in southern Tamil Nadu.
    • The river also finds a mention in Sangam literature dated to 300 before the Common Era (BCE).
    • The story of Vaigai is told in Thiruvilayadal Puranam
  • Origin: The river originates in the Varusanadu Hills, the Periyar Plateau of the Western Ghats range.
  • Empties into: The river finally empties into the Palk Strait near the Pamban Bridge in Ramanathapuram district.
  • Tributaries: Its main tributaries are Suruliyaru, Mullaiyaru, Varaaga Nadhi, Manjalaru, Kottagudi, Kridhumaal and Upparu.
    • The Vattaparai Falls are also located on this river.
  • Significance: The river fulfils the drinking water requirement of five districts of Tamil Nadu namely Theni, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and Dindigul.

How did things deteriorate for the Vaigai River?

  • The deterioration of the Vaigai River happened at the end of the 18th century when the British started deforesting the Megamalai region which acts as a major catchment for Vaigai.
    • Consequently, the water flow in the river reduced gradually. As a result, a famine occurred and around 2 lakh people died in this region in 1876-77.
  • Following the famine, the British Crown proposed diverting water from the Periyar and feeding it to the Vaigai through Periyar Dam. After the dam completion, the water from Periyar was successfully brought to the Vaigai and was revived again.
  • Presently, due to the indiscriminate removal of sand from the river, whatever water flows into the Vaigai gets drained within a few days.
  • Moreover, Megamalai as a Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) also failed to withstand undue pressure. The sanctuary is devastated by the encroachers and the money-minded private estate owners which resulted in the degradation of the existing forests.

How will the declaration of Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve help?
It is expected that the declaration of Srivilliputhur-Megamalai as a Tiger Reserve will help protect wild animals and the natural forests, their habitats which act as watersheds.

  • This will provide protection to Megamalai, the Vaigai River’s primary catchment, in turn helping water levels to rise in the river.

Also read: Tiger reserves of India

About Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve:

  • Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve is the fifth Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu and the 51st tiger reserve of India.
  • It was jointly declared as a Tiger Reserve by the Centre and Tamil Nadu governments in February 2021
  • For this, the Megamalai WLS and the adjoining Srivilliputhur WLS were clubbed together.
  • Vegetation: It has a mix of tropical evergreen forests and semi-evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests and moist mixed deciduous forests, grassland.
  • Fauna:
    • Meghamalai has a large population of ungulates (hoofed mammals), spotted deer, Indian gaurs, wild boars and other carnivores.
    • The adjoining Srivilliputhur hosts grizzled giant squirrels, flying squirrels, leopards, Nilgiri tars, jungle cats, Sambars, elephants, lion-tailed macaques and many species of birds.

Source: Down To Earth


“Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons” and “Chemical Weapons Convention”

What is the news?

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has informed the United Nations(UN) Security Council (UNSC) that in 17 cases, chemical weapons were likely or definitely used by Syria.

About Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW):

  • OPCW is an intergovernmental organization and the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention. This convention has been in force since 1997 and 193 members.
  • Aim: To achieve the vision of a world free of chemical weapons by implementing the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • Powers:
    • The OPCW is authorized to perform inspections to verify that signatory states are complying with the convention.
    • It can also perform testing of sites and victims of suspected chemical weapons attacks.
  • Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands.
  • Significance: The OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

About Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC):

  • Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time.
  • The negotiations for the convention started in 1980 at the UN Conference on Disarmament. The convention opened for signature in 1993 and entered into force in 1997.
  • The convention prohibits the large-scale use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons and their precursors, except for very limited purposes (research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective).
  • The convention is implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
  • Members: The convention is open to all nations and currently has 193 states-parties. India signed the treaty in 1993.
    • Israel has signed but has yet to ratify the convention.
    • Three states have neither signed nor ratified the convention are Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan.
  • Significance: A unique feature of the Convention is its incorporation of the ‘challenge inspection’. Under this, any State Party in doubt about another State Party’s compliance can request a surprise inspection.

Steps taken by India against Chemical Weapons:

  • India was the First State Party of the CWC to secure the distinction of chemical weapon-free state Party by destroying all its stockpile of its chemical weapons amongst all State Parties of the Convention.
  • India enacted the Chemical Weapons Convention Act, 2000 to implement the CWC.
    • Under the act, National Authority Chemical Weapons Convention (NACWC) has been established for implementing the provisions of the Convention. NACWC is an office in the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India.
    • NACWC also acts as the national focal point for effective liaison with the OPCW and other State Parties on matters relating to the CWC.

Source: The Hindu


“Aducanumab” approved by USFDA for “Alzheimer’s disease”

What is the News?

“Aducanumab”, a new drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

How does Aducanumab drug work?

  • Aducanumab is a monoclonal antibody drug that aims at altering the course of Alzheimer disease by slowing the deterioration of brain function.
    • Monoclonal Antibodies are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system. They are made by cloning a unique white blood cell.
  • The drug does this by reducing the presence of amyloid-beta, a protein that forms plaques in the brain.
  • Significance: Since there is no treatment so far, the drug that can slow down Alzheimer’s disease holds much promise and is a ray of hope.
  • Concerns:
    • High Cost: The company has said that the average wholesale cost of the drug would be $56,000 (over Rs 40 lakh) per year.
    • Ineffective Studies: The studies on the drug didn’t clearly show that people were likely to have fewer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease if they were taking the drug. Hence, not all experts agreed that Aducanumab deserved approval.

About Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die.
  • The disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioural and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function independently.
  • Caused by: Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells.
    • One of the proteins involved is called amyloid, deposits of which form plaques around brain cells.
    • The other protein is called tau, deposits of which form tangles within brain cells.
  • Vulnerability: Alzheimer disease most commonly affects older adults, but it can also affect people in their 30s or 40s.
  • Cases:
    • According to WHO estimates for 2017, dementia affects approximately 50 million people worldwide, a number that is projected to grow to 82 million by 2030.
    • In India, it is estimated that 5.3 million people (1 in 27) above the age of 60 have dementia in 2020. This is projected to rise to 7.6 million by 2030.

Source: Indian Express


“QS World University Rankings 2022” released: Only three institutes from India

What is the news?

The QS World University Rankings 2022 have been released.

About QS World University Rankings:

  • QS World University Rankings is released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • Purpose: It is an annual publication of university rankings which comprises the global overall and subject rankings.
  • Parameters: The universities are evaluated based on the following six metrics:
    • Academic Reputation (40%)
    • Employer Reputation (10%)
    • Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
    • Citations per faculty (20%)
    • International Faculty Ratio (5%)
    • International Student Ratio (5%).

Key Findings of QS World University Rankings 2022 related to India:

  • Only three educational institutes from India, the IIT Bombay (177), IIT Delhi (185) and IISc Bengaluru (186) feature in the top 200 list.
    • Except for these three institutes, no other Indian institution has been able to break into the top 200 since 2017.
  • IIT-Bombay continues to be India’s best higher education institution for the fourth consecutive year. Holding 177th position, although it fell five places over the last year
  • There are a total number of 22 Indian higher education institutions placed among the world’s top 1,000 universities.
    • In the 2021 index, there were 21 Indian institutions. This is followed by 23 in 2020, 24 in 2019 and 20 in 2018.
  • IISc Bengaluru remains the world’s top research university, maintaining a perfect score of 100/100 for this metric.
  • Poor performance in the faculty-student ratio: Indian universities have improved their performance on academic reputation metric and research impact, but continue to struggle on the teaching capacity metric.
    • No Indian university ranks among the top 250 for faculty-student ratio.

Other Key Findings of QS World University Rankings 2022: 

  • The top three institutions globally are: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford and Stanford University
  • Singapore’s National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, and China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University, are the only Asian universities in the global top 20.

Source: Indian Express

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