Daily Current Affairs – 24-08-2023

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    National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF-SE)

    Syllabus: GS2/ Education, Government policies & intervention

    In News

    • The final National Curriculum Framework released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

    Background

    • The National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF-SE) is the curriculum framework for the 5+3+3+4 design of schooling as proposed by the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020).
    • It also recommended the formulation of a new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF-SE) to respond to this four-stage school design.
    • The NCF will essentially overhaul school syllabi across the country, and was developed by a steering committee headed by former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan. 

    Significance

    • The development of the NCF-SE was guided by a vision to align education with the demands of the 21st century and the ethos of the Indian knowledge system. 
    • The framework introduces multidisciplinary education, nurturing values, fostering creative pedagogies, and preparing students for practical problem-solving.
    • It will help India in shaping a holistic, contemporary, and Indian-rooted educational landscape. 
    • Multilingualism, conceptual understanding in Mathematics, and capacities for scientific inquiry also receive renewed attention. 

    Key Points Related to Curriculum Framework 

    • The entire curriculum framework for all the four stages – Foundational Stage, Preparatory Stage, Middle Stage, and Secondary Stage – was released. 
    • Comprehensive curriculum framework: The NCF-SE comprehensively covers all the four stages of schooling.
    • Development of Knowledge, Capacities, and Values: The curriculum focuses on development of knowledge with genuine understanding, fundamental capacities such as critical thinking and creativity, and constitutional and human values.
    • Vocational Education: The NEP 2020 has made strong recommendations for Vocational Education to be an integral part of school education and the NCF-SE has included specific learning standards, content, pedagogy, and assessments for Vocational Education for all stages of schooling. 
    • Content Pedagogy: For Classes 6 to 8, the NCF states that 20% content would be from the local level for the Social Science curriculum, 30% content would be from the regional level, 30% would be from the national level, and 20% content would be global.
    • Multilingualism and Indian Languages: The NCF-SE has given the necessary emphasis on multilingualism and on learning languages native to India.
      • Students in Classes 9 and 10 will need to learn three languages, of which at least two will be native to India. In Classes 11 and 12, students will learn two languages, including one of Indian origin.
      • Currently, students in Classes 9 and 10 study two languages, and students in Class 11 and 12 study one language.
    • Board Exams twice a year: All students will be allowed to take Board exams on at least two occasions during any given school year, with only the best score being retained.
    • Mandatory subjects: So far, the students from Classes 9 to 12 studied five mandatory subjects, with an option of adding one more subject. Now, the number of mandatory subjects for Classes 9 and 10 is seven, and it’s six for Classes 11 and 12.
    • Optional Subjects: Optional subjects have been grouped in three parts in the NCF. The first optional group includes art education, emphasising on both visual and performing arts, with equal emphasis on making, thinking about, and appreciating artwork. 
      • The second group includes Social Science, the Humanities, and interdisciplinary areas. 
      • The third group includes Science, Mathematics, and computational thinking.
    • Semester or term-based systems in long term: All Boards should change to semester or term-based systems, where students can be tested in a subject as soon as they have completed the subject, which would reduce the content load being tested in any one examination.
    • Environmental Education is given due emphasis: Responding to the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, and the criticality of environmental awareness and sustainability in today’s world, Environmental Education is given due emphasis across all stages of schooling.

    Source: TH

    Tuberculosis (TB)

    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology

    News

    • India is facing an acute shortage of tuberculosis drugs, including medicines used for treating drug-resistant TB such as Linezolid, Clofazimine, and Cycloserine.

    About:

    • During the pandemic, there was a sharp fall in new cases being detected and hence, notification of TB cases dipped. 
    • With TB notifications improving and nearly reaching pre-pandemic levels, demand for drugs has increased but procurement and supply by the Central government to States has not kept pace, resulting in shortage.

    Tuberculosis(TB)

    • TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In humans, TB most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB), but it can also affect other organs (extra-pulmonary TB).
    • TB is spread from person to person through the air. Its common symptoms are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
    • Most people who develop the disease are adults. In 2021, men accounted for 56.5% of the TB burden, adult women (32.5%) and children (11%). 
    • Many new cases of TB are attributable to five risk factors: Undernutrition, HIV infection, Alcohol use disorders, Smoking and Diabetes. 
    • TB is preventable and curable and around 85% of people who develop the disease can be successfully treated with a 4/6-month drug regimen. 
    • Rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol are first-line antitubercular medications, which are FDA-approved and indicated for the treatment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections.

    TB Burden:

    • According to the WHO, A total of 1.6 million people died from TB in 2021 (including 187 000 people with HIV). 
    • According to India TB report 2023, Year 2022 saw notification of 24.2 lakh cases which was an increase of 13%over 2021.
    • India accounts for more than a quarter of the total TB cases across the world.

    Government Initiatives

    • National TB Elimination Programme to meet the goal of ending the TB epidemic by 2025 in the country, five years ahead of the SDGs for 2030.
    • The government is creating digital health IDs for TB patients under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission to ensure proper diagnostics and treatment
    • Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana provides monetary support through direct benefit transfer to the patients.
    • Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan: to accelerate the country’s progress towards TB elimination by 2025. It provides additional patient support to improve treatment outcomes of TB patients.
    • TB Mukt Gram Panchayat Abhiyaan: It aims to involve the community  to realise the goal of TB elimination. It provides for TB Champions who have been identified and sensitised on TB at the Panchayat level .

    Way Ahead:

    • India needs to follow a multi pronged- multi stakeholder approach with focus on developing vaccines and incorporating technology and community efforts to make TB free India a reality.

    Source: TH

    Nano Liquid Urea

    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology

    News:

    A recent opinion paper has questioned the scientific authenticity of nano liquid urea produced by Indian Farmers and Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO). 

    About:

    • The paper, “Is India’s largest fertilizer manufacturer misleading farmers and society using dubious plant and soil science?”, found the fertiliser has no or poor scientifically proven effects.
    • It also called for more studies into the  efficacy and mode of action of other nano fertilisers before they are launched on the markets.
    • It found spraying the fertiliser was spiking input costs for farmers with no noticeable results. 

    About IFFCO

    • Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited(IFFCO), is a multi-state cooperative society engaged in the business of manufacturing and marketing of fertilizers. 
    • Headquart: New Delhi.
    • It is India’s largest fertilizer manufacturer with 19% market share in urea and 31% share in complex fertilizers.

    About Nano Urea: 

    • Nano urea is a liquid fertilizer developed by IFFCO as an alternative to conventional urea. 
    • It is essentially urea in the form of a nanoparticle which aims to reduce farmers’ dependence on packaged urea. 
    • Fertilisers in nano form provide a targeted supply of nutrients to crops, as they are absorbed by the stomata, pores found on the epidermis of leaves. 
    • Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.
    • The conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25 percent; the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90 per cent.
    • It is expected to reduce the country’s subsidy bill and it is aimed at reducing the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea.

    Government steps to promote Nono Urea:

    • The central government and IFFCO have made plans to open 10 new factories to increase the production of nano urea. 
      • By 2025, its annual production capacity would be increased to 440 million and it will be exported to 25 other countries, mainly in Asia, Africa and South America. 

    Way Ahead:

    • Liquid Nano urea has the potential to improve crop yields and  reduce input costs for farmers, and subsidy bills for  the government. 
    • However, analysing long-term impacts including on the yield of the crops, nutritional quality and bio-safety requires further research.

    Source: DTE

    ‘15 Minutes of Terror’: Soft landing of Chandrayaan-3

    Syllabus: GS3/ Space

    Context

    • After the failed attempt of the soft landing mission of Chandrayaan-2, then chairman of ISRO, K Sivan described the landing process as ‘15 minutes of terror’.

    About

    • The critical technical manoeuvring of the Lander of the Chandrayaan-3 had to perform when it entered the final 15 minutes of its attempt to make a soft landing on the Moon.
      • It needs to transfer its high-speed horizontal position to a vertical one — in order to facilitate a gentle descent onto the surface.

    Phases of soft landing, the 15 minutes of terror

    1. The Rough Braking Phase: It includes reducing the lander’s horizontal speed from a range of 1.68 km/sec at a height of 30 km from the lunar surface, to almost zero for a soft landing at the designated site.
    2. Attitude Hold Phase: At a height of 7.42 km from the surface, the lander is to go into an ‘attitude hold phase’ lasting around 10 seconds, during which it should tilt from a horizontal to a vertical position while covering a distance of 3.48 km.
    3. Fine Braking Phase: It lasts around 175 seconds, during which the lander is to move fully into a vertical position. It is to traverse the final 28.52 km to the landing site, the altitude will come down to 800-1,000 m, and it would reach a nominal speed of 0 m/sec.
      • It was between the ‘attitude hold phase’ and the ‘fine braking phase’ that Chandrayaan-2 lost control and crashed.
    4. The Terminal Descent: It is the final stage, when the spacecraft is supposed to descend totally vertically onto the surface.

    What is Soft Landing?

    • Soft landing simply means landing at a gentle, controlled speed to not sustain damage to a spacecraft.
    • It takes place when a spacecraft lands intact on the lunar surface and does not, intentionally or otherwise, crash.

    Why did Chandrayaan-3 land on the south pole?

    • According to ISRO, the mission’s three objectives:
    1. To demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface;
    2. To demonstrate a Rover roving on the Moon; and,
    3. To conduct in-situ scientific experiments.
    • Doing so showcases a spacecraft’s technical capabilities. The landing site is near the south pole of the moon at 70 degrees latitude.

    What next? (after Chandrayaan-3’s successful landing on the Moon)

    • Chandrayaan-3 is carrying payloads having several instruments to observe and record the Space phenomena and the information is then transmitted to Earth for scientists to analyse and study.
    • The six payloads on the Vikram lander and rover Pragyan remain the same as the previous mission.
    • There are four more scientific payloads on the lander to study lunar quakes, thermal properties of the lunar surface, changes in the plasma near the surface, and a passive experiment to help accurately measure the distance between Earth and the Moon. The fourth payload comes from NASA.
    • There are two payloads on the Rover, designed to study the chemical and mineral composition of the lunar surface and to determine the composition of elements such as magnesium, aluminium and iron in the lunar soil and rocks.

    Source: TH
     

    Experiments to be Conducted on Lunar Surface

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology, Space

    In News

    • After landing of Chandrayaan 3 on the surface of the moon, the Lander Vikram and the rover Pragyan will begin their job of lunar exploration.

    About

    • The lander and rover will start collecting data soon after to get as much science as possible in the single lunar day or 14 Earth days for which they will remain operable.
    • The Chandrayaan-3 payloads will further the science learnings of the two predecessor missions by studying lunar quakes, mineral compositions, and the electrons and ions near the surface of the Moon.

    Findings from the Previous Lunar Missions

    Chandrayaan 1

    • Discovery of Water: The most important discovery was the discovery of water and hydroxyl (OH) molecules in the Moon’s thin atmosphere (exosphere) as well as on the lunar surface.
      • Another payload called mini-SAR helped detect the subsurface deposits of water-ice in the permanently shadowed regions within the craters near the south pole.
    • Lava Tube: Chandrayaan-1 detected an underground lava tube, which, scientists believe, can provide a safe environment for human habitation in the future. 
      • It can protect against hazardous radiation, small meteoric impacts, extreme temperatures, and dust storms on the surface of the Moon.
    • Magma Ocean Hypothesis: The Moon is believed to have been formed after an early piece of the Earth separated due to an impact. The energy generated by the impact is believed to have led to the melting of the Moon’s surface. This is called the magma ocean hypothesis.
      • The M3 payload on board Chandrayaan-1 picked up a specific type of lighter-density crystals on the surface of the Moon, which could be found on the surface only if it were liquid once.
    • Moon’s interior is dynamic: Findings also showed that the Moon’s interior was dynamic and interacted with the exosphere, contrary to the belief that it was dormant.
      • The terrain mapping camera found evidence of volcanic vent, lava pond, and lava channels as recent as 100 million years old, indicating recent volcanic activity
      • Measurements of carbon dioxide by the MIP also pointed towards de-gassing from the surface. This shows an interaction of the lunar surface with the exosphere even in the absence of impacts by meteors.
    • In its 10-month orbit around the moon, Chandrayaan-1’s X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS) has detected titanium, confirmed the presence of calcium, and gathered the most accurate measurements yet of magnesium, aluminium and iron on the lunar surface.

    Chandrayaan 2

    • Finding hydroxyl & water molecules on Lunar Surface: Chandrayaan-2 which was designed to further study the water on the Moon, helped in separately identifying the water and the hydroxyl molecules, and mapping water features across the Moon for the first time.
    • Distribution of gas in lunar atmosphere: Confirmed that the Argon-40 (Ar-40) exists in the lunar exosphere but the knowledge of its distribution at higher latitudes was lacking. The findings were crucial for developing insights into the dynamics of the lunar exosphere.
    • Presence of precious elements: Apart from major elements like magnesium, aluminium, silicon, calcium, titanium, iron etc., it detected minor elements – chromium and manganese for the first time. 
      • The findings have paved the path for adding knowledge about the magmatic evolution of the Moon, its nebular conditions and much more.
    • Study of the Sun: Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM), has witnessed a huge amount of microflares outside the active regions of the Sun for the first time. 
      • ISRO believes that this discovery will lead to a better understanding of the mechanism behind the heating of the solar corona, which has been the centre of attraction and a problem for many decades.
    • These studies have shown that oxygen is abundant as oxides within the minerals on the Moon. This can be exploited as fuel for future missions.

    Mission Experiments of Chandrayaan 3

    The lander has four experiments on board.

    • Study of the electrons and ions near the surface of the moon and how they change over time.
    • The thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region. Chandrayaan-3 has landed around 70 degree south latitude, the closest that any spacecraft has reached to the lunar south pole.
    • To measure the lunar quakes near the landing site and study the composition of the Moon’s crust and mantle.
    • The LASER Retroreflector Array (LRA) is a passive experiment sent by NASA that acts as a target for lasers for very accurate measurements for future missions.

    There are two scientific experiments on the rover.

    • The LASER Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) will determine the chemical and mineral composition of the lunar surface.
    • The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) will determine the composition of elements such as magnesium, aluminium, silicon, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron in the lunar soil and rocks.

    Source: IE

    Timeline of ISROs Achievements

    Syllabus:GS3/Science and Technology

    News

    • With the success of Chandrayaan 3, here is a look at the previous notable milestones of the space agency through three of its major programmes: satellites, launch vehicles, and planetary exploration.

    ISRO’s satellite programmes

    • In 1975 Aryabhata satellite was launched which marked India’s entry into the space era.Built to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomics, and solar physics, the 360 kg spacecraft was entirely designed and fabricated by ISRO.
      • The satellite took off from the Kapustin Yar launch base in the Soviet Union on the country’s Kosmas 3M rocket. India didn’t have its own launch vehicle at the time.
    • Then two experimental remote-sensing satellites went into Space: Bhaskar-1 in 1979 and Bhaskar-2 in 1981. These spacecraft laid the foundations for the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite system — a series of Earth Observation spacecraft built by ISRO.
    • In 1988  IRS-1A was launched into a polar sun-synchronous orbit.It carried two cameras, LISS-I and LISS-II, which made it the first Indian spacecraft to provide imagery for various land-based applications, such as agriculture, forestry, geology, and disaster management.
    • Indian National Satellite System (INSAT): It is a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites that aim to meet the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue needs of India.
      • Although the first few INSATs were built by Ford Aerospace in the US, starting with the INSAT-2 series, all satellites of the system have been indigenously made. The first INSAT-2 spacecraft, the INSAT-2A was the first multipurpose satellite of India. It was launched in 1992.
    • Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation): It began with the launch of India’s first dedicated navigation satellite IRNSS-1A in 2013, and currently consists of seven such spacecraft. 
      • They are used in terrestrial, aerial, and marine transportation, location-based services, personal mobility, resource monitoring, surveying, scientific research, etc.

    Launch vehicle programmes

    • In 1963 India launched the US Nike Apache ‘sounding rocket’ from Thumba, near Thiruvananthapuram. The rocket was taken to the launch site on a bullock cart. 
      • Sounding rockets are suborbital rockets that carry experiments to the upper atmosphere of the Earth. They aren’t capable of exiting the planet’s gravity or reaching into space.
    • The first Indian launch vehicle was the SVL-3 in 1980 which placed its payload, Rohini 1, a 40 kg experimental satellite, in space.This made India the sixth member of the exclusive club of space-faring nations.
    • Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV): SLV-3’s payload capability wasn’t significant. But it provided a learning platform to ISRO and led to the development of the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV). This was essentially the SLV-3 rocket, but with additional strap-on boosters, which enabled it to carry a payload of more than 100 kg.
    • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):In 1982 PSLV’s development started and its successful launch took place in 1994. It marked India’s entry into the Big Rockets league, as it could carry a payload of up to 1,000 kg.
      • PSLV is available in three configurations: the generic PSLV with six strap-ons, the core alone (PSLV-CA) configuration with no strap-ons and PSLV-XL, with extended strapons.
      • Some of India’s most ambitious space missions have been launched using this rocket — Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan (the Mars Orbiter mission) in 2013. 
    • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV):The new launch vehicle primarily aimed to solve two of the biggest limitations of PSLV: it can deliver a payload of about 1,750 kg to a lower Earth orbit, up to an altitude of 600 km from the Earth’s surface; and it can go a few hundred kilometers higher in Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), though only with a reduced payload.
      • GSLVs use cryogenic engines — they consist of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen — that provide far greater thrust than the engines used in the older launch vehicles. 
    • The third generation (Mk-III) GSLV: In 2014, an experimental flight of the third generation (Mk-III) GSLV, now known as Launch Vehicle Mark-3, containing an indigenous cryogenic engine was done.The rocket can put a 4,000 kg payload into geostationary orbits that are over 30,000 km from Earth — it is ISROs heaviest launch vehicle right now.
      • Subsequently, the same launch vehicles were used in Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3.

    PLANETARY EXPLORATION

    • With the turn of the century,ISRO began to explore new avenues apart from focussing on the space missions that benefited India.
    • In 2008,the Chandrayaan-1 mission was launched.With this, India became the fifth country to reach the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-1’s orbiter also detected evidence of water on the Moon.
    • In 2013, ISRO launched Mangalyaan — the space agency’s first interplanetary mission. ISRO was the fourth agency to reach Mars orbit after Russia’s Roscosmos, NASA, and ESA. The mission was a “technology demonstrator” project to develop the technologies for designing, planning, managing, and operations of an interplanetary mission.
    • In 2019 Chandrayaan-2 was launched with a lander and rover to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.However ISRO lost contact with the spacecraft

    before the scheduled touchdown and the lander crashed into the lunar surface.

    • Despite the lander’s failure, it wasn’t as if the mission itself was a failure. The orbiter continued to work fine and in the following years, it gathered a wealth of new information.
    • Chandrayaan-3 was launched in July 2023, and has now accomplished what the Chandrayaan-2 couldn’t. The success of the mission is not only a major step forward for India’s lunar programme but also showcases its capabilities and scientific advancement.

    Source: IE

    Facts In News

    Fujiwhara effect

    Syllabus:GS1/Geography

    News

    • The ‘Fujiwhara effect’ was in the news due to a string of unusual weather phenomena in the west coast of the United States.

    What is the Fujiwhara effect?

    • When two hurricanes (or cyclones), spinning in the same direction, are brought close together, they begin ‘an intense dance around their common center’ – this interaction between two cyclones is called the Fujiwhara effect.
    • Background:The effect was identified by a Japanese meteorologist Sakuhei Fujiwhara in 1921. However it was first observed over the western Pacific ocean, when typhoons Marie and Kathy merged in 1964.

    Process of Formation

    • If one hurricane’s intensity overpowers the other, then the smaller one will orbit it and eventually crash into its vortex to be absorbed. 
    • On the other hand, if two storms of similar strengths pass by each other, they may gravitate towards each other until they reach a common center and merge, or merely spin each other around for a while before shooting off on their own paths.
    • In rare instances, the two ‘dancing’ cyclones, if they are intense enough, may merge with one another, leading to the formation of a mega cyclone capable of wreaking havoc.

    Source: IE

    Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health

    In News

    • The US Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine that protects newborns from respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV.

    About

    • The vaccine, made by Pfizer, is given to mothers late in their pregnancies and provides protection to infants through their first six months of life.
    • RSV is a common cause of illness in children, and infants are among those at highest risk for severe disease, which can lead to hospitalization.

    Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

    • About: It is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, usually in young children & older adults.
    • Transmission: RSV spreads through close contact with a person who has the virus. RSV spreads through respiratory secretions, such as from coughing or sneezing, or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.
    • Diagnosis: A swab test can detect the virus.
    • Treatment: Mild RSV symptoms are similar to the common cold and don’t require treatment from a healthcare provider. RSV usually goes away on its own within one to two weeks.

    Source: TH

    Khadi Rakshasoot

    Syllabus: GS-3/Economy, Small Scale Industries

    Context

    • The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched ‘Khadi Rakshasoot’ ( Khadi-Rakhi) to commemorate the Raksha Bandhan in New Delhi.

    About 

    • This product is natural, devoid of any chemical additives. It also has Basil, Tomato, Brinjal seeds,etc. So that when it’s rooted in the Earth, it will sprout up to basil, tomato and brinjal plants.

    Khadi-an important National icon of Freedom Movement

    • It was introduced to the people of undivided India in 1918 in order to achieve self-sufficiency and independence from British textiles.
    • Khadi movement, a socio-cultural narrative, was launched by Gandhiji from the Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad district, Gujarat.
    • Mahatma Gandhi had coined the term khadi for fabrics owing to their coarse texture. Khadi is spun using a charkha or an Indian spinning wheel. 
    • Gandhi saw khadi as a  source to help the poor living in villages to earn a living. He saw khadi as a self-sufficient material.  This became a movement that aimed at boycotting foreign goods and promoting the Indian goods which would in turn boost the Indian economy.

    Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

    • About: 
      • It is a statutory body established under the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956 (during the second Five Year Plan).
      • It comes under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
    • Objectives:
      • The social objective of providing employment.
      • The economic objective of producing saleable articles.
      • The wider objective of creating self-reliance amongst the poor and building up a strong rural community spirit.
    • Major Initiatives:
      • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program (PMEGP): It  is a credit-linked subsidy program that supports the growth of new micro, small, and medium-sized businesses.
      • Interest Subsidy Eligibility Certificate (ISEC): Banks can use the KVIC plan to get loans with lower interest rates.
      • Workshed Scheme for Khadi Artisans: It grants funding for the construction of worksheds for BPL khadi artisans.
      • Khadi Reform and Development Program (KRDP): It seeks to offer rural artisans a cheap means of supporting their families.

    Source: PIB

    African Swine Fever

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economics of Animal Rearing

    In News

    • African Swine Fever (ASF) has spread to 49 countries since 2021, according to a new report.

    About

    • ASF has resulted in around 1.5 million animal losses since 2021.
    • The 49 countries were located in five different world regions of Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania.
    • Nine countries have reported ASF as a first occurrence, while 10 countries reported its spread to new zones.
    • This spread confirms the global threat of the disease and highlights the importance of implementing biosecurity measures, an early reporting and response system and maintaining a high level of disease awareness among all actors involved in the value chain.

    What is African Swine Fever (ASF)?

    • It is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the ASF virus, a member of the Asfarviridae family.
    • It affects the domestic and wild pigs, whose mortality rate can reach 100%. 
    • ASF is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease was initially discovered. 
    • The virus is highly resistant in the environment, meaning that it can survive on clothes, boots, wheels, and other materials. 
      • It can also survive in various pork products, such as ham, sausages or bacon. 
      • Therefore, human behaviours can play an important role in spreading this pig disease across borders if adequate measures are not taken.
    • Spread: 
      • Direct contact with infected animals,
      • Indirect contact through ingestion of products from infected animals, contact with contaminated clothing, vehicles or equipment,
      • Bites by infectious soft ticks (where present).
    • Symptoms: The typical signs of ASF include fever, abortions, bleeding and sudden death.
    • It is not a danger to human health, but it has devastating effects on pig populations and the farming economy. 
    • There is currently no effective vaccine against ASF. 

    ASF in India

    • India managed to avert the virus for a century, with the first case only reported in 2020.
    • In India, after the first ASF outbreaks occurred in Assam, cases were also reported from other north-eastern states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. 
      • Following this, the disease spread to Bihar, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. 
    • The disease is still prevalent in India, with the most recent cases reported in May and June 2023 from Meghalaya and Mizoram, respectively.
    • The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) recommended veterinary services to remain vigilant and implement science-based international standards and guidelines in their national disease prevention and control programmes.

    Source: DTE

    Can vehicles bear ‘caste and religious stickers’?

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance

    News

    • The Noida and Ghaziabad Police, over the past few days, issued challans to people for putting caste and religious stickers on their cars.

    About

    • The governments in different states have issued orders against putting stickers that signify caste and religion even on the body of the vehicle.
    • The orders are issued as per The Motor Vehicle Act 1988 and  Motor Vehicle Rules 1989.

    What does the law say?

    • According to the Motor Vehicle Rules, “stickers and adhesive labels” in registration number plates are not permitted.
    • Specifications of the number plate: According to the rule, the number plate ‘shall be a solid unit made of 1.0 mm aluminum’ and ‘should bear the letters “IND” in blue color on the extreme left center’.
    • If the number plate is not as per the rules,Section 192 of the Act, has the provision of a fine of up to Rs 5,000 for the first offense. For subsequent offenses, they can be imprisoned for up to 1 year and fined up to rupees 10,000.
    • In the case of stickers on the body of the vehicles, the police are issuing challans under Section 179 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. The section has the provision for fines in case of ‘disobedience of orders, obstruction and refusal of information’.

    Source:IE

    RSR-an Alternative Mode of Coal Evacuation

    Syllabus:GS3/Economy

    In News

    • The Ministry of Coal has taken an initiative to promote Rail-Sea-Rail which aims to integrate Rail-Sea-Rail (RSR) transportation for the efficient movement of domestic coal.

    About

    • Currently, railways account for about 55% of coal evacuation, with a target to increase this share to 75% by FY’30. 
      • The Ministry of Coal is emphasizing the need to augment coal evacuation and enhancing alternative routes of evacuation to avoid congestion
    • This strategy offers multifaceted benefits
      • It is likely to reduce congestion on the All-Rail Route by providing an additional alternative mode of coal evacuation. 
      • It creates export opportunities by building infrastructure that can be utilized for exports in the future and 
      • RSR has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to all rail routes (ARR).

    Need for the RSR Transportation

    • Recognizing the need to increase coal production, the Ministry of Coal has projected nearly doubling of coal production in India with a CAGR of ~7.7% by FY’ 30.
    • With coal production in India expected to nearly double in the next seven years, the Rail Sea Rail as an alternative mode of transportation, becomes crucial for efficient Coal evacuation to consumption centres in India, ensuring a seamless and uninterrupted power supply.

    Significance

    • The coastal shipping mode of transportation, which is an economical and eco-friendly system for moving goods, has the potential to revolutionize India’s logistics industry.  
    • This multimodal transportation system allows for the seamless transportation of coal from mines to ports and then to end-users, reducing transportation costs and improving logistic efficiency.
    • The Ministry of Coal’s efforts to promote Rail-Sea-Rail are yielding significant results as Rail-Sea-Rail transportation of coal has shown significant growth of around 125% over the past four years. 

    Source: PIB

     One Week One Lab Programme (OWOL)

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    News

    • The Curtain Raiser programme for the week-long OWOL for CSIR-Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), was held recently.

    One Week, One Lab programme

    • The aim of the program is to create awareness about the available technologies and services present at  37 CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) Labs spread across the country to showcase their work among potential stakeholders.
    • These technologies help in providing solutions to societal problems, and develop the scientific temperament among the masses, especially among students who are the future of the country.
    • The programme will ignite the minds of young innovators, students, start-ups, academia, and industry to look for opportunities.

    Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR)

    • CSIR is a R&D organization known for its cutting edge R&D knowledge base in diverse S&T areas.CSIR has a dynamic network of 37 national laboratories, 39 outreach centers, 1 Innovation Complexes, and three units with a pan-India presence.
    • The CSIR laboratories specialize in topics ranging from the genome to geology, food to fuel, minerals to materials, and so on.

    Source:PIB

    ASTRA air-to-air Missile

    Syllabus: GS-3/Internal Security, Defence

    Context

    • The Light Combat Aircraft(LCA) Tejas successfully test-fired an ASTRA beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa.

    About ASTRA MISSILE

    • The ASTRA BVR missile is designed to engage and destroy highly maneuvering supersonic aerial targets. It has a range of over 100 kilometers.
      • BVR missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometres.
    • This missile has all weather day and night capability. The system is being developed to meet specific requirements.
    • It is jointly designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and other laboratories of DRDO.
    •  ASTRA missile would significantly enhance the combat prowess of Tejas and reduce the dependency on imported weapons.
      • Tejas is a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments. It has been designed to undertake the air defence, maritime reconnaissance and strike roles.
    • The ASTRA Mk-I Weapon System integrated with SU-30 Mk-I aircraft is being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).

    Source: TH

    Sulina Channel

    Syllabus: GS1/ Places in News

    In News

    • The Sulina Channel holds immense importance for Ukraine’s grain trade as an alternative passage after Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal. 

    About Sulina Channel

    • It is a distributary of the Danube river , connecting major Ukrainian ports on the river to the Black Sea lying within the borders of Romania
    • The Sulina Channel is deep and wide enough for freight transport. 
      • This makes it a sort of a riverine ‘expressway’ – crucial for transport of goods from inland to the Black Sea.

    Danube river  : 

    • The Danube River is the second longest in Europe after the Volga.
    •  It rises in the Black Forest mountains of western Germany and flows for some  2,850 km to its mouth on the Black Sea. 
    • Along its course it passes through 10 countries: Germany, Austria, Slov

    Source: TH