News: Winter migratory waterbirds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland.
- Harike Wetland: It is one of the largest man-made wetlands of northern India which shares its area with the Tarntaran, Ferozpur and Kapurthala districts of Punjab.
- It came into existence in 1952 after the construction of a barrage near the confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas. The grand Indira Gandhi Canal in Rajasthan is fed from this wetland.
- The wetland was accorded the wetland status in 1990 by the Ramsar Convention.
- Migratory Birds:
- The wetland is a significant abode for the migratory birds as every winter, the birds make their way to India through the central Asian flyway which covers a large continental area of Europe-Asia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans.
- Birds such as the Eurasian coot, Greylag goose, Bar-headed goose, Gadwall and the northern shoveler are the prominent ones that could be sighted at Harike Wetland.
- Fauna: The wetland also harbors endangered aquatic mammalian as well as reptilian fauna like the Indus river dolphin, smooth-coated otter and seven species of rare freshwater turtles.
- Concerns: Over the years, the number of certain species visiting the wetland has been falling. The key reasons attributed to the drop are increased human interference in their breeding regions, oil exploration, use of pesticides in farms, climate change and rising air and water pollution.
News: The Ministry of Tourism has organised an interesting webinar titled “Exploring Buddhist Circuit by Train” as a part of the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ Webinar series.
- Dekho Apna Desh Initiative: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism launched in January 2020.
- Objective: To promote domestic tourism in India which is intended to enhance tourist footfalls in places of tourist interest so as to help develop the local economy.
- Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series: During the pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism as part of its ongoing engagement with the industry and its audiences is organising webinars on the overall theme of ‘DekhoApnaDesh’.
- Objective: To create awareness about and promote various tourism destinations of India – including the lesser-known destinations and lesser-known facets of popular destinations.
News: Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) has launched a month-long campaign “SAKSHAM”.
- SAKSHAM: It is a people-centric fuel conservation mega campaign that aims to highlight the adverse health and environmental impacts of increasing carbon footprints. The idea is to convince consumers to switch to cleaner fuels and bring in behavioral change to use fossil fuel intelligently.
- Campaign: The campaign through various pan-India activities such as cyclothon, farmer workshops, seminars, painting competition, CNG vehicle driving contest will spread awareness among masses about the advantages of using clean fuels.
- Seven Key Drivers: The campaign will also spread awareness about 7 key drivers that the Prime Minister mentioned saying that collectively these would help India move towards cleaner energy.
- The key drivers include 1) moving towards a gas-based economy, 2) cleaner use of fossil fuels 3) greater reliance on domestic sources to drive biofuels 4) achieving renewable targets with the set deadlines 5) increased use of electric vehicles to decarbonize mobility 6)increased use of cleaner fuels like Hydrogen and 7) digital innovation across all energy systems.
- PCRA: It is a registered society set up under the aegis of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
- Objective: As a non-profit organization, PCRA is a national government agency engaged in promoting energy efficiency in various sectors of the economy.
- Functions: It helps the government in proposing policies and strategies for petroleum conservation aimed at reducing excessive dependence of the country on oil requirements.
News: Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) has entered into Technology Transfer Agreements with Pune based Biorad Medisys for flow Diverter Stents.
The cost of the Chitra Flow Diverter stent is expected to be priced significantly lower than the currently imported ones.
What are Flow Diverter Stents?
- It is a endovascular technique used for diverting blood flow away from an intracranial aneurysm or localized ballooning of arteries in the brain, helping reduce chances of its rupture and related stroke. Currently, India does not manufacture flow diverters stents,
- Flow diverters have the advantages of being flexible and adaptable to the shape and course of the vessel. Also, flow diverters promote healing of the vessel wall by removing the constant stress of blood flow on it.
What are Technology Transfer Agreements?
- Technology transfer is the process by which a technology, expertise, knowhow or facilities developed by one individual, enterprise or organization is transferred to another individual, enterprise or organization.
- It may happen from country to country, from industry to industry or from research laboratory to an existing or new business.
News: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) has conducted a pan-India Sero-survey tracking nearly 10,000 employees to study the prevalence of Covid-19. The study concluded Smokers and vegetarians were found to have lower seropositivity. So they may be at a lesser risk of getting infected by the coronavirus.
Key Highlights of the Survey:
Source: The Hindu
Presence of Antibodies: The survey took samples of 10,427 adult individuals working in its laboratories or institutions and their family members to assess the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.It found 1,058 (10.14%) had antibodies against Covid.
- However, the neutralising antibodies that protect against the virus waned after infection but were at detectable levels even after six months — a proxy for the period of effectiveness of future vaccination and general immunity.
- Symptoms: About three-fourths of the respondents could not recall having experienced a single one of the symptoms commonly associated with the disease.
- Lesser Risk Group: Smokers and vegetarians were found to have lower seropositivity indicating that they may be at a lesser risk of getting infected by coronavirus.
- Blood Group: Those with blood group ‘O’ may be less susceptible to the infection, while people with ‘B’ and ‘AB’ blood groups were at a higher risk.
- Class Bias: There was also a distinct class bias in those affected. Those who work from home and able to access private transport were nearly twice less likely to be exposed to the virus than the outsourced staff involved with sanitation and security and using public transport.
News: Scientists have found a clue to the dynamic origin of fluctuations in systems like fish schools, swarms of insects, flocking birds and bacterial colonies. These are called active matter systems.
What are Active Matter Systems?
- It is composed of large numbers of self-driven components that extract energy from their surroundings to generate mechanical work. Due to continuous energy input, such systems are driven far from equilibrium and exhibit fascinating collective behaviors like clustering, giant mass fluctuations and anomalous transport.
- Example: The anomalous behavior of active matter systems can be understood by considering a cup of coffee stirred with a spoon. If one stops stirring, the coffee will eventually come to rest due to the internal viscous forces which resist the fluid motion.
- In contrast, imagine stirring a bacterial solution which under suitable conditions (bacterial concentration), can exhibit perpetual or unceasing collective directed motion. This is called Active matter. In cases like this, the viscosity would vanish.
- Significance: This understanding can be useful in nanotechnology applications like building small-scale energy-efficient bio-devices as well as biomedical applications like characterising infection spread in organs, antibiotic resistance and so on.
News: Researchers of the INSPIRE Faculty under the Department of Science and Technology(DST) are studying to develop a variety of wheat that does not lose its productivity under heat stress.
- Wheat and Heat Stress: Wheat is affected severely by Heat stress as it causes a dramatic reduction in yield as well as quality of wheat which is the staple for more than one-third of the world’s population.
What are the researchers studying and developing?
- The researchers are studying the role of DNA methylation (a biological process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule) patterns as it plays a significant role in plant development as well as in heat stress tolerance during different grain filling stages.This study is carried out through a process called epigenomic mapping.
- It will explore the epigenetic route to modify gene expression in a manner that is stably transmitted but does not involve differences in the underlying DNA sequence so that the heritable genes do not buckle under heat stress and non-stress conditions during different grain filling stages.
News: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released the data on COVID-19 vaccination.
Key Highlights of the Data:
- India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on the first day under its COVID-19 vaccination program. This is much higher than many other countries such as the USA, the UK and France.
- Around 2.24 lakh beneficiaries have been given COVID-19 vaccines in the first two days of India’s countrywide vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus infection.
- 447 cases of AEFI (Adverse event following immunization) have been reported. Most of the cases are minor and only three of the cases required hospitalization.
- According to WHO, Any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine is known as AEFI.