Facts in News

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    Facts in News

    Immunity Debt

    Recently, news reports have indicated higher rates of respiratory infections like influenza and the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and it has been called the immunity debt.

    • It has been brought on by Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), like social distancing, use of masks and hand hygiene, put in place to reduce the spread of the Covid-19.
    • NPIs have been effective in breaking the chain of transmission of the virus.
    • However, thay have had unintended consequences for other directly transmitted, endemic diseases.
      • Influenza virus circulation was almost non-existent during the 2020 winter, a 99.9 per cent reduction compared with previous years.
    • Disruptions to the seasonal transmission patterns of these diseases may have consequences for the timing and severity of future outbreaks.
      • For example, a constant exposure to infectious agents boosts the immune response in the human body.
      • In the absence of that constant exposure, there is a possibility of unseasonal outbreaks being more severe than usual.
    • RSV is commonly a winter infection but can be severe in very young infants.
      • Babies gain some protection from mothers, but the mother must have had some exposure to the virus. 
      • If mothers are not exposed, it leaves the baby unprotected and if it is not very severe, children can be supported through the infection.
      • A monoclonal antibody is used to treat RSV.
    • This is such an unusual phenomenon that has occurred. However, it might not have long-term epidemiological effects as things will go back to the regular seasonal impact in a while.
    • There is a need for a reassessment of the role of NPIs and an analysis to identify the most effective components to prevent respiratory virus transmission and infection.
    • This might yield new and sustainable interventions that can minimise and prevent seasonal and epidemic respiratory viral illnesses in the future.

    Jagannath Rath Yatra

    Recently, the Prime Minister of India has greeted the people on the occasion of Jagannath Rath Yatra.

    • The nine-day festival commemorates Lord Jagannath’s annual visit to the Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple along with his siblings, Lord Balbhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
    • It is one of the biggest festivals in India and is among the most famous Vaishnavite rituals in India and abroad.
    • It is held at the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha (one of the Char Dhams, other 3 being Badrinath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram).
    • For the festival, special chariots are built every year from a particular type of Neem tree wood that is later dismantled and goes to the temple kitchen to be used as firewood to cook prasad.
    • Lord Jagannath’s Rath Nandighosha has dominant colours like red and yellow. Balbhadra’s chariot is called Taladhwaja and Subhadra’s chariot Devadalan Rath is coloured in red and black..
    • The main door of the Puri Jagannath Temple is kept shut for one week prior to the festival.
      • As the lord is believed to have caught a high fever after taking his annual bath. Once the period of rest is over, the Lord travels to his maternal aunt’s house in the Rath Yatra.
    • The king dresses like a sweeper and sweeps the road with a golden broom and water and fortifies it with sandalwood paste to mark the start of the yatra. The process is called the ‘Chera Pahara ritual.
    • It is believed that the Rath only moves after ‘Dahuka boli’  (poetic recitations) is sung.

    (Image Courtesy: Twitter)

    Lemru Elephant Reserve

    Recently, the proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh has become the subject of a controversy around its area.

    • The proposal for the reserve, in Korba district, was passed unanimously by the Assembly in 2005 and got central approval in 2007.
    • Lemru was planned to prevent human-animal conflict in the region, with elephants moving into Chhattisgarh from Odisha and Jharkhand.
      • After Chhattisgarh was formed, the lack of a formal policy allowed elephants to use as a corridor a route in the north and central parts of the state.
      • As elephants started straying into inhabited areas, looking for food, human-animal conflict started.
    • It is part of an elephant corridor that connects Lemru (Korba), Badalkhol (Jashpur), Tamorpingla (Surguja).
      • North Chhattisgarh alone is home to over 240 elephants, which are relatively new to the state as they started moving into undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1990.
    • Controversy on Area
      • Its initially proposed area was 450 sq km which was increased to 1,143 sq km in 2011 and later to 1,995 sq km in 2019.
      • However, it has been decided to reduce the area to the original size as the area is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a diverse biozone, rich in coal deposits.
      • The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area was that several coal mines would become unusable.
    • Other Protected Areas
      • Badalkhol Tamorpingla, the other proposed elephant reserve measuring 1048.30 sq km, was notified in September 2011, however no work has begun yet.
      • Total protected areas cover 11,310.977 sq km, which is 8.36 per cent of the state’s geographical area and 18.92 per cent of its total forest area.

    (Image Courtesy: SS)

    dbGENVOC: Genomic Database of Oral Cancer

    India creates the world’s 1st Database of Genomic Variants of Oral Cancer ‘dbGENVOC’.About

    • dbGENVOC is a browsable online database of GENomic Variants of Oral Cancer and is a free resource. The first release of dbGENVOC contains:
      • 24 million somatic and germline variants derived from whole-exome sequences of 100 Indian oral cancer patients and whole-genome sequences of 5 oral cancer patients from India.
        • A germline variant occurs in gametes and is passed directly from a parent to a child at the time of conception. Cancers caused by germline pathogenic variants are called inherited or hereditary.
    • The repository will be updated annually with variation data from new oral cancer patients from different regions of India and Southeast Asia.

    Cancer Burden in India

    • According to the National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020:
      • In 2020, tobacco-related cancers are estimated to contribute 3.7 lakhs (27.1%) of the total cancer burden
      • Cancer cases in India are likely to increase to 15.6 lakhs by 2025 — a 12% increase from currently estimated cases.
      • 1 in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 15 will die of the disease.
      • Oral cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among men in India, largely fuelled by tobacco-chewing.

    India’s Action So Far 

    • India is committed to achieving a one-third reduction in cancer-related deaths by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
    • Programmes such as Ayushman Bharat, Swasthya Bharat, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana and initiatives such as FSSAI’s new labelling and display regulations and drug price control are in the right directions. 
    • Other initiatives:  National Health Policy, the National Tobacco Control Programme, and the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke are also paving the way for progress.

    India Industrial Land Bank (IILB)

    The IILB has planned about 4,000 industrial parks on 550,000 hectares of land and is expected to achieve pan-Indian integration by December 2021.About

    • It is a GIS-based portal, a one-stop repository of all industrial infrastructure-related information like connectivity, infrastructure, natural resources & terrain, plot-level information on vacant plots, line of activity, and contact details.
    • It is currently integrated with industry-based GIS systems from 17 states, allowing details on the portal to be updated in real-time.
    • Administered by: Department of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

    GIS (Geographic Information System) 

    • A geographic information system (GIS) is a system that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data.
    • GIS connects data to a map, integrating location data (where things are) with all types of descriptive information (what things are like there). 
    • Uses: It can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, asset management, environmental impact assessment, urban planning, cartography, criminology, history, sales, marketing, and logistics. 
    • Benefits: Improved communication and efficiency as well as better management and decision making.

    Light Combat Helicopters (LCH)

    • HAL is set to deliver the first batch of 3 Light Combat Helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

    About 

    • These are part of the 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters approved for the Army and the IAF.
    • LCH has maximum possible commonality with Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH).
    • Designed and developed by: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
    • Major features:
      • The lightest attack helicopter in the world weighing 5.5 tonnes.
      • It can operate at heights of 12,000 feet.
      • Glass Cockpit and Armour protection
      • Night attack capability
      • Crash worthy landing gear for better survivability. 
      • 20mm Gun, 70mm Rocket & Missiles
      • Air to Air Missiles (ATAM)
      • Air to Ground Missiles (ATGM)
    • Technical Parameters:
      • Maximum takeoff weight: 5800 Kg
      • Maximum speed: 268 Kmph
      • Range: 550 Km

    Attack Helicopters in India

    • 90 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) – indigenously developed by the HAL.
    • 75 Rudra, weaponized ALH – indigenously developed by the HAL.
    • 160 older indigenous Cheetah and Chetak utility helicopters- urgent need for replacement.
    • Older Mi-25 and Mi-35 Russian attack helicopters – in the process of being phased out.
    • 22 newly inducted AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the U.S. 

    Bhramyoman 

    • The majority of the 30 mobile theatre groups in Assam are finding it difficult to stage a comeback after COVID-19 lockdowns.

    About

    • Bhramyoman refers to travelling theatre groups of Assam.
    • The first Mobile Theatre play was staged on 2 October 1963, in Pathsala.
    • It includes a collective of actors, singers, dancers, directors, action artists, makeup artists, workers, and the producer.
    • It moves from place to place within the state – from villages to towns to cities.
    • The mobile theatres have popularity across Assam’s rural landscape. Each theatre group involves 120-150 people.
    • They get paid daily on the condition of no-work-no-pay.
    • They have a unique model of revenue-sharing.
    • Importance: It has a huge contribution to the social development of Assamese society.
    • Concerns:
      • The Bhramyoman season suffered in 2019-2020 due to COVID-19.
      • The people associated with the industry are virtually unemployed.
      • The situation does not look like it will improve soon.