Factly articles for 22nd May 2020

19 min read

1.International Day for Biological Diversity

News: International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated every year on 22nd May.

Facts:

  • Background: The first International Day for Biological Diversity was created by UN General Assembly in 1993 to mark the adoption of the text of the Convention of Biological Diversity.
  • 2020 Theme: Our solutions are in nature

 Additional Facts:

Convention on Biological Diversity

  • Signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, it is dedicated to promoting sustainable development.
  • There are 196 parties to the convention. It is a legally binding treaty.
  • Objectives:
    • conservation of biological diversity,
    • sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
    • fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

Convention Protocols:

  1. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: It aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity. It was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003.
  2. Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization: It aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It entered into force in 2014

2.Government of India launches scheme for 100 % solarisation of Konark sun temple & Konark town

News: Government of India has launched a scheme for 100% solarisation of Konark sun temple and Konark town in Odisha.

Facts:

  • Objective: To develop the historical Sun temple town of Konark in Odisha as ‘Surya Nagri’ and to convey a message of synergy between the modern use of solar energy and the ancient Sun Temple.
  • Implementation: Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency.
  • Plan: It envisages setting up of the 10-MW grid connected solar project and various solar off-grid applications such as solar trees, solar drinking water kiosks and off-grid solar power plants with battery storage.
  • Funding: 100% Central Financial assistance (CFA) support through the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Konark Sun Temple:

  • It was built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1238-1264) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and is located near the sacred city of Puri, Odisha.
  • The temple is a classic example of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • It was given the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO.
  • The temple is carefully oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance.
  • It was also known as Black Pagoda due to its tower which appeared as black and was also used as a navigational landmark by sailors to Odisha.

3.Coir Geo textiles gets nod for Rural Road Construction

News: National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency(NRIDA) has announced that coir geo textiles will be used for construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY-III).

Facts:

  • Coir geotextiles is a woven net material made of coconut husk.
  • It is being used to check soil erosion, roadbuilding and renovation of water bodies and landfills.
  • Significance:
    • It is naturally resistant to rot, molds and moisture and free from any microbial attack hence it needs no chemical treatment.
    • It has the right strength, permeability and durability to protect the slopes from erosion while allowing vegetation to flourish.

Additional Facts:

  • Geotextile: It refers to a permeable synthetic textile material. Generally it is produced from polyester or polypropylene polymers. They are used to increase soil stability, provide erosion control or aid in drainage.
  • PMGSY: It was launched in 2000 by the Ministry of Rural Development. It aims to provide connectivity to unconnected habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy.
  • Phase-3 of PMGSY will be implemented from 2019-20 to 2024-25. It proposes to consolidate roads measuring 1.25 lakh km in length.

4.Cabinet approves Scheme for Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises

News: Union Cabinet has given its approval to Scheme for Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises for the unorganised sector on all India basis with an outlay of Rs.10,000 crore.

Facts:

Salient features

  • Type: Centrally Sponsored Scheme with expenditure to be shared by Government of India and states at 60:40.
  • Duration: It will be implemented over a 5 year period from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
  • Under the scheme:
    • 2,00,000 micro-enterprises will get credit linked subsidy at 35% of the eligible project cost with ceiling of Rs. 10 lakh.
    • Beneficiary contribution will be minimum 10% and balance from loan.
    • Seed capital will be given to SHGs (Rs. four lakh per SHG) for loan to members for working capital and small tools.
    • Grant will also be provided to farmer producer organisations (FPO) for backward and forward linkages, common infrastructure, packaging, marketing and branding.
    • Cluster approach will be there with focus on perishables.
  • Administration and Implementation mechanisms:
    • The Scheme would be monitored at Centre by an Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee(IMEC) under the Chairmanship of Minister for Food Processing Industries.
    • State/ UT nodal agency(SNA) would be responsible for the implementation of the scheme.
    • A State Level Committee(SLC) chaired by the Chief Secretary will monitor and sanction proposals for expansion of micro units and setting up of new units by the SHGs/ FPOs/ Cooperatives.
    • A third-party evaluation and mid-term review mechanism would be built in the programme.
    • National level portal would also be set-up wherein the applicants/ individual enterprise could apply to participate in the Scheme. All the scheme activities would be undertaken on the National portal.

5.Dr Harsh Vardhan to take charge as WHO Executive Board chairman: what this means for India

News: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is set to take charge as the chairman of the WHO Executive Board at its 147th session

Facts:

  • The World Health Organization(WHO) is governed by two decision making bodies — the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board.
  • Composition: The Executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health with members being elected for three-year terms.
  • Chairman: It is held by rotation for one year by each of the WHO’s six regional groups: African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region and Western Pacific Region.
  • Meeting: The Board meets at least twice a year once usually in January and then in May.
  • Functions: To give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.

Additional Facts:

  • World Health Assembly: It is the forum through which the World Health Organization(WHO) is governed by its 194 member states.It generally meets every year in Geneva, Switzerland to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies among others.

6.PM Vaya Vandana Yojana pension scheme extended till March 31, 2023

News: Government of India has extended Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) pension scheme meant for senior citizens till March 31, 2023.

Facts:

  • Launched Year: 2017.
  • Aim: To provide social security during old age and to protect elderly persons aged 60 and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • Implementation: Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)
  • Minimum entry age: 60 years (completed)
  • Maximum entry age: No limit
  • Investment limit: One can invest a maximum amount of Rs.15 lakh.
  • Benefits:
    • Pension Payment: On survival of the Pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, pension in arrears (at the end of each period as per mode chosen) shall be payable.
    • Death Benefit: On death of the Pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the Purchase Price shall be refunded to the beneficiary.
  • Interest Rate: It provides initially an assured rate of return of 7.40 % per annum for the year 2020-21 per annum and thereafter to be reset every year.
  • Loan: Loan facility is available after completion of 3 policy years.
  • Tax: The scheme is exempted from GST.

7.States ask Centre to expedite notification of ecologically sensitive areas in Western Ghats

News: Six states have asked the Environment Minister to expedite the process to notify the Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive area(ESAs).

Facts:

Ecologically sensitive areas(ESA) in Western Ghats:

  • The Madhav Gadgil Commission formed in 2010 had recommended in its report in 2011 that 64% of the Western Ghats be declared ecologically sensitive.
  • In 2012, the Environment Ministry formed another working group on Western Ghats under K Kasturirangan to examine the Gadgil Commission report.
  • The Committee recommended that identified geographical areas falling in the six States of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu may be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Areas.
    • It recommended to bring just 37% of the Western Ghats under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zones — down from the 64% suggested by the Gadgil Committee report
  • A draft notification was issued in 2018 mentioning the areas to be notified in the ESA. However, it was decided that state specific issues shall be further deliberated so as to arrive at a consensus on the issue

Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA):

  • It is an area notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Notifications declaring areas as ESZ are issued under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.
  • Aim: To regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimise the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas.
  • According to the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the government can prohibit industrial operations such as mining, sand quarrying and building thermal power plants in sensitive areas.

8.SCTIMST to organize commercial launch of Agappe Chitra Magna for detection of COVID 19

News: Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in collaboration with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd has commercially launched the Agappe Chitra Magna Kit for detection of Covid-19.

Facts:

  • Agappe Chitra Magna:It is a magnetic nanoparticle-based RiboNucleic Acid (RNA) extraction kit for use during testing for the detection of COVID-19.
  • Application: The kit can be used for RNA extraction for RT-LAMP, RT-PCR and other isothermal and Polymerase Chain Reaction(PCR) based protocols for the detection of COVID-19.

Additional Facts:

  • RNA: It is generally a one-strand molecule that copies, transcribes and transmits parts of the genetic code to proteins so they can synthetize and carry out functions that keep organisms alive and developing.
  • Reverse Transcription-based Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP): It is a technique for the amplification of RNA. It is used in the detection of viruses. In this method, a DNA copy of the viral RNA is generated by reverse transcriptase and then isothermal amplification is carried out to increase the amount of total DNA.
  • Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Tests: It is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen including a virus.

9.Certifying Quantum Entanglement: A step towards Quantum Security

News: Scientists from S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata have developed a novel protocol to find out whether a pair of electrons is in a Quantum entanglement state.

Facts:

  • Quantum Entanglement: It is the physical phenomenon that occurs when a pair or group of particles is generated and interacts in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others.
  • Significance: This concept can be used in emerging technologies such as quantum computing among others.

Additional Facts:

  • Quantum computing: It is the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement to perform computation. Computers that perform quantum computations are known as quantum computers.