Current Affairs - News Crux
In a recent discovery, scientists have identified 19,325 new seamounts, or underwater mountains, using high-resolution data collected by advancements in altimetry for gravity-field mapping.
- Seamounts are formed through volcanic activity and are recognized as hotspots for marine life.
- A previous 2011 census had already mapped 24,000 seamounts across the world’s oceans.
- They can be active, extinct, or dormant volcanoes and are typically formed near mid-ocean ridges, where the earth’s tectonic plates are moving apart, allowing molten rock to rise to the seafloor.
- Some seamounts are also found near intraplate hotspots and oceanic island chains with volcanic and seismic activity.
- Seamounts provide information about the mantle’s composition and how tectonic plates evolve.
- They are also home to diverse biological communities, and their study helps understand their influence on how water circulates and absorbs heat and carbon dioxide.
- Surveyors map seamounts using echo sounders or multibeam sonar on ships for topographic mapping or using satellite altimetry for gravity-field mapping.
Significant Increase in Patent Filings: Nasscom
Recently, National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) released a report stating that India witnessed a significant increase in patent filings in fiscal year 2022.
- India's patent filings in fiscal year 2022 showed a Year-over-Year growth rate of 13.6%, marking the highest annual increase in the past decade.
- Out of a total of 584,000 patents filed between FY2010 and FY2022, 266,000 were related to technology.
- Of these technology patents, 160,000 pertained to emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Cybersecurity, and Blockchain.
- Within the telecommunications sector, 2.4% of the total patents filed were focused on emerging areas like 5G and 6G.
- In FY22, the share of domestic filings increased to 44.4% of total patents filed, compared to 41.6% in the previous year.
- Nasscom's President emphasized the importance of partnerships among various stakeholders to create and raise awareness about intellectual property, which would ultimately boost domestic patent filings.
Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the human mind or intellect. It includes intangible assets such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.
Intellectual Property Right (IPR) refers to a category of legal rights that protects IP. Intellectual property can be protected through various forms of legal mechanisms such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
Promoting Millets in Diets: Best Practices across States/UTs of India: NITI Aayog
Recently, NITI Aayog released a report, titled "Promoting Millets in Diets: Best Practices across States/UTs of India".
- The report presents a set of good and innovative practices adopted by state governments and organizations in various aspects of millet value-chain, especially production, processing, and consumption.
- It aims to revive and mainstream millets in our diets, which are nutritionally wholesome crops.
- Odisha Millet Mission, Andhra Pradesh's Comprehensive Revival of Millets Cultivation by Tribals and Drought Mitigation Project, Chhattisgarh Millet Mission, and Nagaland's Promotion of Millets through National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Nutri Cereals Mission are some of the initiatives that have resulted in positive impacts.
- Additionally, several states have integrated millets in the Supplementary Nutrition Programme under ICDS, leading to increased production, consumption, and distribution.
- NITI Aayog's Vice Chairman emphasized the importance of leveraging the power of branding and marketing to popularize millets as a superfood and make it fashionable.
- NITI Aayog has also proposed the establishment of a National Nutrition Commission to combat malnutrition and ensure the availability of safe, affordable, and nutritious food to all.
- The commission will work towards strengthening the existing policies and programs related to nutrition and also suggest new interventions.
- This proposal comes in light of the recent National Family Health Survey which indicates that malnutrition is still a major concern in India, with high rates of stunting and wasting among children under the age of five.
- These initiatives by NITI Aayog are crucial steps towards achieving the goal of better nutrition and health for all, and promoting sustainable and resilient food systems in India.
India-Hungary Joint Working Group on Water Management
On 25 April 2023, the first meeting of the India-Hungary Joint Working Group on water management was held in New Delhi.
- The meeting focused on the issue of groundwater over-exploitation in India and the need for proper water management practices.
- Six priority areas for cooperation were identified, including management of extreme phenomena, exploration and management of groundwater, rejuvenation of rivers and water bodies, mitigation of the impact of climate change on water resources, protection and preservation of the quality of water resources, and training and capacity building.
- The JWG organized a field visit for the Hungarian team to Varanasi to showcase successful interventions under the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Interior of Hungary and the then Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (presently Ministry of Jal Shakti), Govt of India, on 16th October, 2016 with the objective to strengthen technological, scientific and management capabilities of both the parties in the field of water management.
- For implementation of the objectives of MoU, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was constituted with members representing both countries.
- Cooperation in water management among countries can promote peace, security, and long-term economic growth through open discussions and collaborative action.
Genome India Project
Recently, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said that the exercise to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes and create a database under the Centre-backed Genome India Project is about two-thirds complete.
- The Genome India Project aims to identify genetic variants in the Indian population to customize therapies.
- 7,000 Indian genomes have already been sequenced, with 3,000 available for public access by researchers.
- Genome sequencing is the process of decoding the genetic fingerprint of an individual by deciphering the order of base pairs that make up the human genome.
- It has various applications, including rare disorder evaluation, preconditions for disorders, cancer diagnosis, and prenatal screening.
- Genomic sequencing played a vital role in tracking the spread of COVID-19 and developing vaccines during the pandemic.
- The Genome India Project is expected to have significant implications for personalized medicine, disease diagnosis, and population health.
- Sequencing is becoming cheaper, and experts predict that every individual's genome may be sequenced as part of routine healthcare in the future.
World Development Report 2023
On April 25, 2023, the World Bank released its World Development Report 2023.
- The report focuses on the theme of “Migrants, Refugees, and Societies.”
- The report analyzes international migration and its potential to serve as a force for growth and shared prosperity in all countries.
- The report highlights the rapidly changing demographics around the world, which are making migration increasingly necessary for countries at all income levels.
- There are currently 184 million people across the world who lack citizenship in the country in which they live, including 37 million refugees.
- The report presents a framework to guide policy-making based on how well migrants' skills and related attributes match the needs of destination countries and on the motive for their movement.
- The report identifies several policies that are needed to maximize gains for all parties involved in migration, including managing migration for development in origin countries, managing migration more strategically in destination countries, and fostering international cooperation.
A New Study on Mars' Core
A new study has revealed insights on Mars’ core.
- Mars' core is smaller and less dense than previously thought, likely in a liquid state.
- Mars' innermost layer cannot generate a magnetic field, unlike Earth's core.
- Seismic data from NASA's InSight Mars Lander used to examine Mars' interiors.
- Light elements like sulfur and oxygen make up a fifth of the core's weight.
- New data could inform better models of how Earth and Mars formed.
- InSight mission retired, but scientists are still analyzing the gathered data to learn more about Mars.
- Planetary seismologists are excited about future missions to other parts of the solar system to understand its formation.
InSight Mission (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) was a robotic mission to Mars launched by NASA in May 2018. Its objective was to study the deep interior of the planet, including its seismology, geodesy, and heat flow. InSight landed on Mars in November 2018 and operated on the planet's surface for over two years, during which it deployed a suite of scientific instruments, including a seismometer, a heat probe, and a radio science instrument, to collect data about the planet's interior.
Five-fold Increase in Polar Ice Melting
Recently, a study was published in the journal Earth System Science Data. It included 50 satellite surveys of Antarctica and Greenland taken between 1992 and 2020.
- The researchers found that Earth’s polar ice sheets lost 7,560 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2020, which is equivalent to an ice cube that would be 20 km in height.
- The seven worst years for polar ice sheet melting and loss of ice have occurred during the past decade, with 2019 being the worst year on record.
- The melting ice sheets now account for a quarter of all sea level rise, a fivefold increase since the 1990s.
- Melting of the polar ice sheets has caused a 21 millimetres (mm) rise in global sea level since 1992.
- Almost two thirds, or 13.5 mm, of the sea level rise originating from Greenland and one third, or 7.4 mm, from Antarctica.
The State of the World’s Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination
On April 20, 2023, UNICEF India released its global flagship report, 'The State of the World's Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination’.
- The report highlighted the significance of childhood immunization.
- According to this report, India is one of only three countries where confidence in children's vaccines has increased.
- India was able to arrest the backslide and bring down the number of zero-dose children to 2.7 million, which represents a smaller proportion of India's under-5 child population given its size and the world's largest birth cohort.
- The report also highlights the decline in vaccine confidence in over a third of the studied countries due to various factors, including access to misleading information and declining trust in vaccine efficacy.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest sustained backslide in childhood immunization in 30 years, with 67 million children missing out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, and vaccination coverage levels decreasing in 112 countries.
- The report also highlights existing inequities in vaccination coverage, with unvaccinated children often living in hard-to-reach communities such as rural areas or urban slums, and mothers who have been unable to attend school.
- The report emphasizes that routine immunizations and strong health systems are essential for preventing future pandemics and reducing morbidity and mortality, and reaching the last child with immunization is a key marker of equity that benefits the whole community.
Vibrant Villages Programme along China Border
Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), announced that it will integrate the Centre's Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) with the Prime Minister Gati Shakti mega project.
- The integration is aimed at developing infrastructure and promoting tourism in villages along the China border.
- The integration will enable integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects and overcome operational challenges.
- One of the objectives of the VVP is to stop the migration of the border population.
- The scheme will cover 2,967 villages in 46 border blocks of 19 districts in four states and one Union Territory.
- The first phase of the scheme will cover 662 villages.
- ₹4,800 crore has been allocated for the financial years 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26, with ₹2,500 crore for road construction.
- The Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N) in Gujarat will provide satellite images and GIS mapping for real-time monitoring of infrastructure and other land-use changes in the border villages.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the nodal Ministry to implement the scheme, has asked states to organize activities such as fairs, festivals, cultural programs, and tourism-related activities in the villages identified for coverage on priority.