Daily Prelims Notes 22 November 2020
- November 22, 2020
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Table Of Contents
- M-SAND POLICY
- PUSA DECOMPOSER
- MORATORIUM FOR BANK
- KALA AZAR
- SENTINEL 6 SATELLITE
- MEGHALAYA GLOWING MUSHROOM
Context: The M-sand policy is likely to come into force in a few months with more changes, about issues such as license and transport, incorporated in it.
- Manufactured sand is produced from hard granite stone by crushing. It is manufactured using technology like High Carbon steel hit the rock and then rock on rock process which is synonymous to that of natural process undergoing in river sand information.
- Limited availability of river and imported sand, the use of M-sand in construction activity had risen by 60-65%. Around 22,000 loads of M-sand were being supplied across the State, of which nearly 5,000 loads were sent to Chennai and neighboring areas.
- The crushed sand is cubical with grounded edges, washed and graded to as a construction material. The size of the M-Sand is less than 4.75mm.
- There were around 320 manufacturing units in the State that had been approved by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for operation.
Benefits of M-Sand:
- M-Sand does not have the presence of impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings, increase water requirement as in the case of river sand which impair bond between cement paste and aggregate. Thus, increased quality and durability of concrete.
- It does not contain an organic and soluble compound that affects the setting time and properties of cement, thus the required strength of concrete can be maintained.
- M-Sand can be crushed from hard granite rocks, it can be readily available at the nearby place, reducing the cost of transportation from far-off river sand bed.
Subject : Science & tech
- Remdesivir is designed to obstruct the stage of replication, when the virus creates copies of itself, followed endlessly by the copies creating copies of themselves.
- Once the virus enters the human cell, it releases its genetic material, which is then copied using the body’s existing mechanism.
- At every stage of infection, various human proteins, virus proteins, and their interactions come into play.
- At the replication stage, the key viral protein at play is an enzyme called RdRp (an enzyme is a kind of protein that speeds up chemical reactions within a cell).
- It is RdRp that makes the copies, by processing components of the RNA of the virus.
- University of Alberta researchers called it the “engine” of the virus in a paper last week, in which they described the action of Remdesivir against this “engine”.
- In scientific literature, such an enzyme is called a polymerase (the p is RdRp stands for polymerase) or a replica.
- In any case, this is the enzyme that is targeted by Remdesivir.
Subject : Science & tech
Context: Formulating Effective laws to counter bioterrorism is one of the lessons learned from the pandemic , a parliamentary panel on health noted.
Bioterrorism or Biological Attack:
- It is the intentional release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs that can sicken or kill people, livestock, or crops.
- They use microorganisms and natural toxins to produce disease in humans, animals, or plants.
- These agents can be deployed as biological weapons when paired with a delivery system, such as a missile or aerosol device.
- Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is one of the most likely agents to be used in a biological attack.
- The most destructive bioterrorism scenario is the airborne dispersion of pathogens over a major population region.
- Tropical agricultural pathogens or pests can be used as anticrop agents to hamper food security worldwide.
- The European Union (EU), Russia, and China are finding ways to deter bioterrorism and biowarfare. The aim is to make it harder for terrorists to obtain the resources for designing biological weapons.
Intelligence Sharing & Rapid Detection
- Global intelligence agencies should operate together and share credible intelligence.
- Combining human resources, laboratory resources, and information supervision in novel, legal and satisfactory ways that allow for timely detection and categorization of hazards.
- Rapid detection and surveillance are important for an efficient response to a bioterror strike.
- Speedy, uniform techniques that allow for the discovery of an extensive range of pathogens used as biological weapons in a measurable fashion.
- Pathogens are a usual part of the environment and can complicate detection attempts.
Strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention
- The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) of 1972 prohibits signatory nations to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise, acquire or retain:
- Microbial or other biological agents or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes.
- Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.
- However, there is no exact authentication method that can ensure compliance with the BTWC. Therefore, efforts must be made to strengthen the BTWC so that it helps to uncover and successfully prevent biological weapons programs.
- India ratified and pledged to abide by its obligations in 2015.
Context: The Indian Agriculture Research Institute has developed a microbial cocktail – Pusa Decomposer – that can turn crop residue into manure in 20-25 days.
- The decomposers are in the form of capsules made by extracting fungi strains that help the paddy straw to decompose at a much faster rate than usual.
- The fungi help to produce the essential enzymes for the degradation process.
- It involves making a liquid formulation using decomposer capsules and fermenting it over 8-10 days and then spraying the mixture on fields with crop stubble to ensure speedy bio-decomposition of the stubble.
- The farmers can prepare 25 litres of the liquid mixture with 4 capsules, jaggery, and chickpea flour. The mixture is sufficient to cover 1 hectare of land.
Time to Decompose:
- It takes around 20 days for the degradation process to be completed.
- Under usual circumstances, shredded and watered paddy straw, which is mixed with soil, takes at least 45 days to decompose.
- It does not give enough time for farmers to prepare fields for the wheat crop on time.
- The decomposer improves the fertility and productivity of the soil as the stubble works as manure and compost for the crops and lesser fertilizer consumption is required in the future.
- The soil loses its richness due to stubble burning and it also destroys the useful bacteria and fungi in the soil, apart from causing harm to the environment.
- It is an efficient and effective, cheaper, doable, and practical technique to stop stubble burning.
- It is an eco-friendly and environmentally useful technology and will contribute to achieving Swachh Bharat Mission.
Context: Centre, acting on the recommendation of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), imposed a moratorium on Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) for a period of 30 days.
- As its financial position deteriorated, the regulator placed it under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework, which restricts certain operations depending on the severity of financial stress.
- After allowing time for the bank to find investors to shore up its capital, the RBI has appointed an administrator for the bank and mooted a merger with the Indian subsidiary of the Singapore-based DBS Bank.
What is a moratorium?
- The RBI, the regulatory body overseeing the country’s financial system, has the power to ask the government to have a moratorium placed on a bank’s operations for a specified period of time. Under such a moratorium, depositors will not be able to withdraw funds at will.
- RBI steps in if it judges that a bank’s net worth is fast eroding and it may reach a state where it may not be able to repay its depositors. When a bank’s assets (mainly the value of loans given to borrowers) decline below the level of liabilities (deposits), it is in danger of failing to meet its obligations to depositors.
Run on Banks
- A moratorium primarily helps prevent what is known as a ‘run’ on a bank, by clamping down on rapid outflow of funds by wary depositors, who seek to take their money out in fear of the bank’s imminent collapse. Temporarily, it does affect depositors .
- A moratorium gives both the regulator and the acquirer time to first take stock of the actual financial situation at the troubled bank. It allows for a realistic estimation of assets and liabilities, and for the regulator to facilitate capital infusion, should it find that necessary.
Can safety of funds be assured by RBI :
- It depends on whether the struggling bank or the regulator is able to find acquirers or investors to save the day. In the case of Yes Bank and Lakshmi Vilas Bank, the RBI was able to bring in investors who infused adequate funds.
- In the case of Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank,the moratorium — despite being gradually relaxed for depositors — is still in force, over a year after it was imposed, and there is still no sign of a buyer.
6. KALA AZAR
Subject : Science & tech
Context : Integrated control strategy in Vaishali district in bihar helped reduce cases from 664 in 2014 to 163 in 2016.
- Kala-azar or visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a tropical disease characterised by irregular fever, weight loss, anaemia and swelling of the spleen and liver.
- It is caused by a protozoan Leishmania parasite and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female sandflies. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), globally, about 7 to 10 lakh new cases occur annually.
Three types of leishmaniasis:
- Visceral leishmaniasis, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease.
- Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores and is the most common form.
- Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin and mucosal lesions.
- Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India, is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated.
Resistance to Drug:
- The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite.
- A protein called ‘P4ATPase-CDC50’, is responsible for intake of the drug by the parasite, and another protein, called ‘P-glycoprotein’, is responsible for throwing this drug out from within the parasite’s body.
- A decrease in the activity of the former protein, and an increase in the activity of the latter results in less accumulation of miltefosine inside the parasite’s body, thus causing it to become resistant to the drug.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, designed to monitor oceans, was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
- The mission, called the Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission, is designed to measure the height of the ocean, which is a key component in understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing.
- The spacecraft consists of two satellites, one of them launched on Saturday, and the other, called Sentinel-6B, to be launched in 2025.
- This is a part of the next mission dedicated to measuring changes in the global sea level. Other satellites that have been launched since 1992 to track changes in the oceans on a global scale include the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and OSTN/Jason-2, among others.
- It has been developed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the EU, with contributions from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).
- According to NASA, the satellite will ensure the continuity of sea-level observations into the fourth decade and will provide measurements of global sea-level rise.
- Further, the data it collects will support operational oceanography, by providing improved forecasts of ocean currents, wind and wave conditions.
- This data will allow improvements in both short-term forecasting for weather predictions in the two-to-four-week range (hurricane intensity predictions), and long-term forecasting, for instance for seasonal conditions like El Niño and La Niña.
Why is it important to measure the height of the ocean?
- As per NASA, it is possible to observe the height of the oceans on a global scale and monitor critical changes in ocean currents and heat storage only from space.
- Data from satellites such as Sentinel-6 help scientists foresee the effects of the changing oceans on the climate.
- Further, in order to measure and track changes in the oceanic heat budget, scientists need to know the ocean currents and heat storage of the oceans, which can be determined from the height of the sea surface.
Subject : Science & tech
Context : India became the fourth country in the world to have its independent regional navigation satellite system recognised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a part of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS).
- The IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India. It is designed to provide accurate position information service to assist in the navigation of ships in the Indian Ocean waters.
- It could replace the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) in the Indian Ocean extending up to approximately 1500 km from the Indian boundary. The system can offer a position accuracy of more than 20 m within India which is the primary area of service.
- The two kinds of services provided by IRNSS will be:
- Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and
- Restricted Service (RS).
IMO Recognition :
- The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO recognised the IRNSS as a component of the World-wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) during its 102nd session.
- With the recognition as a component of the of the WWRNS, the Indian navigation system is similarly placed as GPS, most commonly used by marine shipping vessels across the world or the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS).
- Unlike GPS, however, IRNSS is a regional and not a global navigation system.
Subject : Environment
Context : A mushroom documentation project in the forests of Northeast India has revealed not only 600 varieties of fungi, but also led to a new discovery: a bioluminescent — or light emitting — variety of mushroom.
- The new species — named Roridomyces phyllostachydis — was first sighted on a wet August night near a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East Khasi Hills district and later at Krang Shuri in West Jaintia Hills district.
- It is now one among the 97 known species of bioluminescent fungi in the world.
- Bioluminescence is the property of a living organism to produce and emit light. Animals, plants, fungi and bacteria show bioluminescence.
- Bioluminescent organisms are usually found in the ocean environments, but they are also found on terrestrial environments. The colour of the light emitted by the organism depends on their chemical properties.
- In the case of fungi, the luminescence comes from the enzyme, luciferase. The [green] light emits when luciferans is catalysed by the enzyme luciferase, in the presence of oxygen.