Facts in News

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    Facts in News

    Cicadas

    Recently, billions of periodical cicadas have emerged across eastern parts of the USA.

    • Periodical cicadas, of the genus Magicicadae, are called so because of their 13- or 17-year life cycle.
      • In any given place, they come out only once every 13 or 17 years.
      • Occasionally, part of a population will come out four years early and part four years late. 
      • With climate warming, more four-year early emergence in larger numbers are witnessed.
    • The three lineages are the basis of the modern periodical cicada species groups, Decim, Cassini and Decula (each has 13-year and 17-year broods).
      • The term ‘brood’ is used to refer to all periodical cicadas that emerge the same year and occupy a geographically contiguous area.
      • Roman numerals were assigned to designate their year of emergence and the sequence started arbitrarily in 1893. 2021 is the year of the Brood X periodical cicadas.
    • These cicadas spend most of their lives underground and grow burrowed in their earthy homes by feeding on root xylem.
    • During this time, they complete five developmental stages, known as “instars”, entirely underground.
    • The fifth-instar nymphs emerge from the ground by making holes and then transform into adults, only to perish approximately four weeks later.
    • As adults, they gather in so-called chorus groups, where the males sing to woo the females. After mating, the female lays eggs in thin twiggy branches of trees and then dies.
    • The eggs hatch and the nymphs drop into the earth like rain, burrowing into it. About 95 per cent of the nymphs die, and the ones that are left feed on root sap and remain underground, till it is time to emerge.
    • In the USA, they are found to the east of the Great Plains and north of Florida.
    • In Indian subcontinent, there are three species namely, Chremistica mixta (Sri Lanka), C. seminiger (Nilgiri hills) and C. ribhoi (Meghalaya).
      • Mass emergence has been noticed only in the case of Chremistica ribhoi, which takes place after dusk and once in four years.
      • The insect is referred to as ‘niangtaser’ in the local Khasi language.

    (Image Courtesy: UCONN)

    Guinea Ebola Outbreak Ends

    Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Guinea is over, which started in February 2021.

    • EVD was formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a rare but severe, often fatal illness in humans.
    • Transmission: To people from wild animals (zoonotic) and spread in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
    • It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural hosts.
    • Symptoms
      • Fever, fatigue, muscle, pain, headache, and sore throat.
      • This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases internal and external bleeding.
    • Treatment and Prevention
      • Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks.
      • Supportive care, rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, and treatment of specific symptoms improve survival.
      • A range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.
      • Two monoclonal antibodies (Inmazeb and Ebanga) were approved in late 2020.
      • The Ervebo vaccine and the 2-component vaccine called Zabdeno-and-Mvabea have been shown to be effective.

    Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor

    Recently, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India has signed a USD 484 million loan to improve transport connectivity and facilitate industrial development in the Chennai-Kanyakumari Industrial Corridor (CKIC) in the state of Tamil Nadu.

    • CKIC is part of India’s East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), which stretches from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu and connects India to the production networks of South, Southeast and East Asia.
      • ADB is the lead partner of the Government of India in developing ECEC.
    • It will upgrade about 590 km of state highways in the CKIC influence areas that cover 23 of the 32 districts between Chennai and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.
    • Objectives: To spur industrial transformation through provisioning of essential transport, energy and urban infrastructure for holistic development of industrial growth centres.
    • Significance
      • Seamless road connectivity across industrial clusters, transport gateways and consumption centers, and help reduce logistics and production costs.
      • Enhanced connectivity will help increase the participation of Indian manufacturing in global production networks and global value chains, thereby creating jobs along the corridor.
    • In line with Strategy 2030, ADB’s long-term corporate strategy, the project emphasises sustainability, climate change resilience, and road safety elements.
      • Established in 1966, ADB is owned by 68 members (49 from the region).
      • It is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.

    (Image Courtesy: TIDCO)

    Mekedatu Dam Project

    • Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has closed proceedings against the Mekedatu dam project .
    • The Mekedatu dam is being constructed by the Karnataka government across the Cauvery River. 
    • The project cost is estimated at Rs 9,000 crore.
    • The proposal is aimed at providing drinking water facilities to Bengaluru Metropolitan region and its surrounding areas (4.75 TMC) and generate 400 MW of power as an additional benefit.
    • As per the plan, Bengaluru and other areas would get regular potable water.
    • It would be able to help the city address its water woes.

    Sickle cell disease (SCD)

    • Union Minister of Tribal Affairs flagged off mobile vans under the Unmukt project for strengthening screening and timely management of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD )in Khunti district of Jharkhand and Kanker in Chhattisgarh.
    • Sickle cell disease (SCD), or sickle cell anaemia, is a major genetic disease that affects most countries in the African Region. 
    • In this disease, the normal round shape of red blood cells become like crescent moons. 
    • Round red blood cells can move easily through the blood vessels but sickle-shaped cells interconnect and can result in blood clots and these blood clots can cause extreme pain in the back, chest, hands and feet. 
      • This disrupted blood flow can also cause damage to bones, muscles and organs. 
    • People with sickle cell disease often feel weak, tired and look pale and the whites of the eyes and skin often have a yellowish tint.
    • In countries such as Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria the prevalence is between 20% to 30% while in some parts of Uganda it is as high as 45%.
    • Sickle cell disease (SCD) , which is the most prevalent inherited blood disorder, is widespread amongst many tribal population groups in India, posing a considerable health burden in several states.
    • Causes
      • Environmental factors often play a role in the occurrence of painful attacks and common triggers include cold temperatures, dehydration, excessive amounts of exercise and tobacco smoke and other triggers such as plane flights and high altitudes can also trigger an attack.
    • Treatment
    • Hydroxyurea is a medicine that can decrease several complications of SCD. 
      • This treatment is very safe when given by medical specialists experienced in caring for patients with SCD. However, the side effects of taking hydroxyurea during pregnancy or for a long time are not completely known.  
    • The Food and Drug Administration has also approved a new medicine to reduce the number of sickle cell crises in adults and children older than age five; it is called Endari .
    • Another treatment, which can actually cure SCD, is a stem cell transplant (also called a bone marrow transplant).
    • This procedure infuses healthy cells, called stem cells, into the body to replace damaged or diseased bone marrow (bone marrow is the center of the bone where blood cells are made).
    • Steps 
      • The Ministry of  Tribal Affairs formed the National Council on Sickle Cell Disease and established a Tribal Health Cell, which would coordinate with the Ministry of Health and State Governments.  
      • The Ministry has devised a mechanism for making a Central Repository of data through development of Sickle Cell Support Corner which is posted on the Ministry’s dashboard.

    NISHTHA Program

    • Recently, 120 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) teachers and principals from 3 states completed a 40 days’ NISHTHA-National initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement Program.
    • It was launched in 2019 through face-to-face mode to improve learning outcomes at the elementary level in the country.
    •  It is a capacity-building programme to improve the quality of school education through integrated teacher training and aims to develop competencies among all the teachers and school principals at the elementary stage.
    • The initiative is first of its kind wherein standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs.
    •  It is the world’s largest teachers’ training programme of its kind.
    • The basic objective of this massive training programme is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.
    •  Following the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been restructured and customized for the online mode to be conducted through Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) and NISHTHA portals by NCERT.