News Crux Science & Technology
Researchers At ARIES Discovered The Most Distant Gamma-ray Emitting Galaxy
- Scientists from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of observational sciencES (ARIES), Nainital in collaboration with researchers from other institutions, have discovered the most distant gamma-ray emitting Narrow-Line Seyfert 1 (NLS1) galaxy known to date.
- The researchers have been studying around 25,000 Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and were able to devise a new method to find high-z NLS1 galaxies till now unknown by comparing different emission lines in their spectra.
- One of the largest ground-based telescopes in the world, the 8.2 m Subaru Telescope located in Hawaii, US was used to confirm the findings.
- The researchers confirmed that the newly found farthest gamma-ray emitting NLS1 galaxy was formed when the Universe was only about 4.7 billion years old. The current age of the Universe is 13.8 billion years.
News Crux Appointment
Sushil Chandra Appointed As Chief Election Commissioner Of India
On 13th April 2021, Sushil Chandra, the senior-most Election Commissioner, took charge as the Chief Election Commissioner of India. He succeeded Sunil Arora.
- Prior to joining the Election Commission of India, Chandra has also served as the chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Under his leadership, CBDT launched “Operation Clean Money” in 2017 in a bid to curb illegal wealth and black money.
Composition of ECI
- The Election Commission of India is a three-member body, with one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. After the appointment of Sushil Chandra as CEC, Sh. Rajiv Kumar is the only Election Commissioner and one post is lying vacant.
Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners
- The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
- The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament.
News Crux Infrastructure
India Energy Dashboards (Version 2.0)
- The India Energy Dashboards Version 2.0 was launched on 12 April 2021 by NITI Aayog.
- India Energy Dashboards (IED) is an endeavour to provide single-window access to the energy data for the country. Energy data published/provided by Central Electricity Authority, Coal Controller’s Organisation, and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is compiled in the Dashboards.
- NITI Aayog launched the Version 1.0 in May 2017.
News Crux Awards
74th British Academy Film Awards
- The 74th British Academy Film Awards, also known as the BAFTAs, were held on 10 and 11 April 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, honouring the best national and foreign films of 2020 and early 2021.
- It was presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Major Awards & Winners
- Best Film: Nomadland
- Best Director: Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
- Best Actor in a Leading Role: Anthony Hopkins – The Father
- Best Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand – Nomadland
PIB News Health
DBT Approves Funding For MRNA-based COVID-19 Vaccine - HGCO19 For Clinical Trials
- The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology has approved additional funding towards clinical studies of India's 'first of its kind' mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine - HGCO19, developed by Pune-based biotechnology company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd.
- This funding has been awarded under the 'Mission COVID Suraksha- The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission' by DBT's dedicated Mission Implementation Unit at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) after multiple rounds of evaluation of all the applications that were submitted in response to the 'Request for Expression of Interest (REOI)' under Mission COVID Suraksha for the 'Development of COVID-19 vaccine candidate(s)'.
- DBT has been hand-holding Gennova's right from the start and has facilitated establishing Gennova's mRNA-based next-generation vaccine manufacturing platform by providing seed funding for the development of HGCO19.
- Gennova, in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, USA, has developed the COVID-19mRNA vaccine – HGCO19.
- HGCO19 has already demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralization antibody activity in the rodent and non-human primate models. The neutralizing antibody response of the vaccine in mice and non-human primates was comparable with the sera from the convalescent patients of COVID-19.
- Gennova has completed two preclinical toxicity studies as per the Drugs and Cosmetics (Ninth Amendment) Rules - 2019, to establish the safety of the vaccine candidate and got regulatory clearance from the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and office of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Government of India, to conduct clinical trials. Gennova has initiated the process to enroll healthy volunteers from the Phase I/II clinical trials.
- mRNA vaccines are considered safe as mRNA is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature, and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.
- They are highly efficacious because of their inherent capability of being translatable into the protein structure inside the cell cytoplasm.
- Additionally, mRNA vaccines are fully synthetic and do not require a host for growth, e.g., eggs or bacteria. Therefore, they can be quickly manufactured inexpensively under cGMP conditions to ensure their "availability" and "accessibility" for mass vaccination on a sustainable basis.
Current News Economy Development
RBI Amends India’s Inflation-forecasting Model
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised its inflation-forecasting model to better capture how fiscal and monetary policy, interact with real-economy elements.
- The adjustments incorporate fiscal-monetary dynamics, India’s unique and often chaotic fuel pricing regime, and exchange-rate fluctuations and their impact on balance of payments.
- Dubbed as the Quarterly Projection Model 2.0, the RBI’s economists describe the framework as a forward-looking, open economy, calibrated, new-Keynesian gap model. The previous version had often been criticized for over-estimating upside risks to inflation.
The new model is broken into three blocks:
- Fiscal Block: The first, or fiscal block, decomposes the government’s primary deficit into structural and cyclical components. A shock to the former impacts inflation through aggregate demand and country risk premia; for instance, a structural increase in the deficit would create a positive output gap and the higher debt makes borrowings costlier and depreciates the currency, leading to higher inflation. A cyclical shock is negligible.
- Fuel Block: The second, or fuel block, takes into account India’s complex system of pricing. Items like petrol and diesel are priced on the basis of international oil prices, exchange rates, and local taxes, while liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene prices are market-determined but with lagged pass-through. Electricity costs are administered by state governments. Headline inflation goes up by 25 basis points in response to a fuel tax increase of 10 rupees per liter and inflation expectations edge higher and remains entrenched if tax reversals do not happen.
- Balance of Payments Block: The balance of payments block recognizes the costs associated with spurts in volatility in the exchange rate. In case of a capital outflow shock of 1% of GDP, and assuming the RBI intervenes and sterilizes 70% of this outflow, reserves will deplete by 0.7% of GDP and the exchange rate will depreciate, inducing inflationary pressure.
News Crux Social Justice
Divorced Daughter Entitled To Samman Pension: HC
The Calcutta High Court, in a recent judgment, said a freedom fighter’s widowed or divorced daughter is entitled to his pension and exclusion is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Article 14 in the Constitution of India
- Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya said that with no independent source of income, widowed or divorced daughters stand on an equal footing with an unmarried daughter as heirs to the deceased freedom fighter. “The marital status of all of them is ‘unmarried’. Thus, the criterion of exclusion of widowed/divorced daughters, as sought to be projected by respondent no.1, is untenable in the eye of law”.
- Under Clause 5.2.5 of the guidelines of disbursement of Central Samman Pension a “widowed/divorced daughter is not eligible for samman pensions”. The clause points out that in order to transfer the pension to the spouse or daughter, a twin condition has to be fulfilled i.e. being unmarried and having no independent source of income.
- The court, in its order, said the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs were violative of Article 14 after observing that the “blanket exclusion of widowed/ divorced daughters, including even those who do not have any personal income in lieu of maintenance or otherwise, is patently de hors Article 14, which enshrines the guarantee to all citizens of India.”
- Thus, as in the event an unmarried daughter who has no income is ineligible for the pension, widowed/divorced daughters stand on a similar footing as daughters of the deceased and shall not be eligible anyway if they have any independent source of income, which can very well be alimony or maintenance as well.
News Crux International
Singapore: First Country To Ratify ‘RCEP’
- On April 9, 2021, Singapore became the first country among 15 participating countries to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
- RCEP is the world’s largest free trade agreement, led by China and comprising 10 ASEAN economies as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
- To come into effect, the RCEP must first be ratified by at least six ASEAN and three non-ASEAN member states.
- Once implemented, RCEP would be the world’s largest free trade agreement, covering around one third of the world’s population and about 30% of the world’s economy.
News Crux Sports
PCB Launches Own Hall Of Fame
- The Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to have its own ‘Hall of Fame’ to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of its stalwarts.
- As part of the launch, six members of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame — Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Zaheer Abbas — will be inducted into the PCB Hall of Fame.
- There will be three more inductions each year from 2021 with the inductees to be chosen by an independent panel and announced on October 16, the day when the country made its Test debut in 1952.
PIB News Awards
AICTE Lilavati Awards 2020
- Union Minister of Education Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' presented the AICTE Lilavati Awards 2020 on women empowerment to the winners in New Delhi on 11 April 2021.
- The awards were based on the theme 'Women Empowerment’ across 6 sub themes - Women's Health, Self-Defense, Sanitation and Hygiene, Literacy, Women Entrepreneurship, and Legal Awareness.
Winners in Different Sub-themes
- Women Entrepreneurship: SWEAT (Sona Women Entrepreneurship and Training) from Sona College of Technology, Tamil Nadu.
- Digital Literacy:Bharatiya Vidyapeeth.
- Literacy: Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development Pune.
- Women's Health: WIT Women Health Coalition from Walchand Institute of Technology, Maharashtra.
- Legal Awareness: Radiant Seetha from Thiagarajar Polytechnic College.
- Self Defense: Paritrana from St. Joseph's College of Engineering, Tamil Nadu.
News Crux Ecology & Environment
Three-banded Rosefinch: 1340th Species Of The Bird Family In India
- On 8th February 2021, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) team has spotted the three-banded Rosefinch at Sela (mountain pass on the border between Tawang and West Kameng districts) in Arunachal Pradesh.
- It has become the 1,340th species of the bird family in India.
- The three-banded rosefinch belongs to the family Fringillidae, which are seed-eating passerine birds with a distinctively conical bill.
- The three-banded rosefinch is a resident of southern China and a vagrant in Bhutan.
- The researchers observed that the three-banded rosefinch may be using the high altitude temperate coniferous forest of Arunachal Pradesh as a passage while migrating from China to Bhutan.
- Its conservation status is ‘Least Concern’ (Population stable).
News Crux Awards
- On 31 March 2021, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, declared Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman as the winners of this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages.
- Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.
- Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand (Machine Language).
News Crux Awards
GD Birla Award For Scientific Research
- Professor Suman Chakraborty, a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur has been selected for the 30th GD Birla Award for Scientific Research for his outstanding contribution to engineering science and its applications in developing technologies for affordable healthcare.
- Instituted in 1991, the award is given by KK Birla Foundation.
- The award recognises eminent Indian scientists below the age of 50 for their original and outstanding contributions to any branch of science or technology.
News Crux Defence
DRDO Develops Advanced Chaff Technology
- Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard the naval ships against enemy missile attack.
- Defence Laboratory Jodhpur (DLJ), a DRDO laboratory, has indigenously developed three variants of this critical technology namely Short Range Chaff Rocket (SRCR), Medium Range Chaff Rocket (MRCR) and Long Range Chaff Rocket (LRCR) meeting Indian Navy’s qualitative requirements.
- Recently, Indian Navy conducted trials of all three variants in the Arabian Sea on Indian Naval Ship and found the performance satisfactory.
- Chaff is a passive expendable electronic countermeasure technology used worldwide to protect naval ships from enemy’s radar and Radio Frequency (RF) missile seekers. The importance of this development lies in the fact that very less quantity of chaff material deployed in the air acts as decoy to deflect enemy’s missiles for safety of the ships.
- The DRDO has gained the expertise to meet the futuristic threats from adversaries. The technology is being given to the industry for production in large quantities.
News Crux Ecology & Environment
New Deadlines For Thermal Power Plants To Meet Emission Standards
- On 1st April, 2021, the Union Environment Ministry has declared new rules that pushed back deadlines for coal-fired power plants to adopt new emission norms by up to three years and allowed utilities that miss the new target to continue operating after paying a penalty.
- India had initially set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to install Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of sulphur dioxides.
Other Features of the new Rule
- Plants near populous regions and the capital New Delhi will have to comply by 2022, while utilities in less polluting area shave up to 2025 to comply or retire units.
- A task force will be constituted by the Central Pollution Control Board to categorise plants in three categories “on the basis of their location to comply with the emission norms”.
- In case of non-compliance, a penalty of up to 0.20 rupees ($0.0027) will be levied for every unit of electricity produced.
Note: Thermal power companies, which produce three-fourths of the country’s electricity, account for some 80% of its industrial emissions of particulate matter, sulphur- and nitrous-oxides, which cause lung diseases, acid rain and smog.
News Crux Ecology & Environment
India's Biggest Floating Solar Power Plant To Be Set Up At Ramagundam
- India's biggest floating solar power plant with a capacity of 100 MW will be set up at Ramagundam in Telangana.
- The project expected to be opened in May, is being set up at Ramagundam thermal power plant reservoir.
- The solar project is commissioned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
- The world's largest solar power plant with 600 MW capacity is being set up on Omkareshwar Dam on Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh.
News Crux Health
National Policy For Rare Diseases 2021
- Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has approved the “National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021” on 30th of March.
- The Rare Diseases Policy aims to lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases with increased focus on indigenous research with the help of a National Consortium. Increased focus of research and development and local production of medicines will lower the cost of treatment for rare diseases.
- The policy also envisages creation of a national hospital based registry of rare diseases so that adequate data is available for definition of rare diseases and for research and development.
- The Policy also focuses on early screening and prevention through primary and secondary health care infrastructure such as Health and Wellness Centres and District Early Intervention Centres.
- The Policy also aims to strengthen tertiary health care facilities for prevention and treatment of rare diseases by designating 8 health facilities as Centre of Excellence. These Centres will also be provided one-time financial support of up to 5 crore rupees for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.
- A provision for financial support up to 20 lakh rupees under the Umbrella Scheme of Rastriya Arogya Nidhi is proposed for treatment of those rare diseases that require a one-time treatment. Beneficiaries of such financial assistance would not be limited to BPL families. The benefit will be extended to about 40 percent of the population, who are eligible under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
News Crux International
BIMSTEC Finalises Connectivity Master Plan
- The virtual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping on 1 April 2021 finalised a major Connectivity master plan for the Bay of Bengal region.
- The seven-member regional grouping namely India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar will take up the Master plan for transport connectivity for adoption in the next summit of the organisation to be hosted by Sri Lanka in a few months from now.
- The meeting also endorsed three MoUs/agreements relating to convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal matters, cooperation between diplomatic and training academies and establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility in Colombo.
- The connectivity master plan is the outcome of more than a decade of consultations among the member states. The study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2007 and 2014, identified 166 connectivity projects at an estimated cost of USD 50 billion out of which 65 projects were identified as priority projects.
News Crux Defence
Exercise ‘Shantir Ogroshena -2021’
- Indian Army is participating in Multinational Military Exercise namely SHANTIR OGROSHENA -2021 in Bangladesh.
- The nine days exercise started on the 4th April 2021 to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangladesh Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mark glorious 50 years of liberation.
- Indian Army contingent comprising 30 personnel from the Dogra Regiment is participating in the exercise along with contingents of Bhutan, Sri Lankan and Bangladesh Armies.
- The theme of the exercise is Robust Peace Keeping Operations.
News Crux Awards
Saraswati Samman 2020
- Noted writer Dr. Sharankumar Limbale will receive the 30th Saraswati Samman 2020 for his Marathi novel ‘Sanatan’ that features the story of socio-cultural struggles of the untouchables.
- The Saraswati Samman is an annual award instituted by KK Birla Foundation in 1991.
- The winner of the award is selected from the outstanding works from 22 Indian languages.
News Crux Science & Technology
CIISCO To Measure Solar Eruption In The Lower Corona
- Researchers from ARIES, Nainital - an autonomous institute under DST, Government of India, along with their collaborators from Royal Observatory of Belgium have led to the development of an algorithm, CMEs Identification in Inner Solar Corona (CIISCO) to detect and track the accelerating solar eruption in the lower corona.
- Earlier, a Software, named Computer Aided CME Tracking Software (CACTus) based on a computer vision algorithm was used to detect and characterise such eruptions automatically in the outer corona where these eruptions cease to show accelerations and propagate with a nearly constant speed. However, this algorithm could not be applied to the inner corona observations due to the vast acceleration experienced by these eruptions.
News Crux Science & Technology
Atal Innovation Mission Launches 'AIM-PRIME'
- On 31 March 2021, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog launched AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship), an initiative to promote and support science-based deep-tech startups & ventures across India.
- In this regard, AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to launch this nationwide program which will be implemented by Venture Center - a non-profit technology business incubator.
News Crux Awards
Dadasaheb Phalke Award
- Superstar Rajinikanth will be conferred with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2019.
- Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, known professionally as Rajinikanth, is primarily works in Tamil cinema. In addition to acting, he has also worked as a producer and screenwriter.
- K. Balachander's 1975 Tamil drama Apoorva Raagangal was his debut film.
- Among other notable awards, he is honored with the Padma Bhushan (2000) and the Padma Vibhushan (2016) by the Government of India.
- Prior to Rajinikanth, in 2018, Amitabh Bachchan was conferred this award.
- The first recipient of this award was Devika Rani in 1969.
- The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India's highest award in cinema presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony by the Directorate of Film Festivals, an organisation set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for "outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema".
- The award was introduced by the Government of India to commemorate the contribution of Dadasaheb Phalke - regarded as "the father of Indian cinema" - who directed India's first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra in 1913.