National Fish Farmers Day
- The National Fish Farmers day is observed every year on 10th July to demonstrate solidarity with all fisher folk, fish farmers and concerned stakeholders throughout the Country.
- Celebrated to commemorate Professor Dr. Hiralal Chaudhury and his colleague Dr. Alikunhi for their contribution in achieving the successful induced breeding of major carps on 10th July,1957 at Angul in Odisha for the first time in the country.
- This pioneering work of induced breeding over the years has transformed the growth of aquaculture sector from traditional to intensive aquaculture practices and led to success of modern aquaculture industry.
- The day was also celebrated as National Fisheries Development Board, NFDB Foundation Day.
- Realizing the importance of the sector, the Government has launched the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, PMMSY. Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to fishers/fish farmers for fish farming, creation of infrastructure facilities, seed and feed procurement, fishing activity along with training for its proper implementation.
Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana
- The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) is a flagship scheme for focused and sustainable development of fisheries sector in the country.
- PMMSY aims at enhancing fish production by an additional 70 lakh tonne by 2024-25,
- increasing fisheries export earnings to Rs.1,00,000 crore by 2024-25,
- doubling of incomes of fishers and fish farmers,
- reducing post-harvest losses from 20-25% to about 10% and
- generation of additional 55 lakhs direct and indirect gainful employment opportunities in fisheries sector and allied activities.
- PMMSY scheme primarily focuses on adopting ‘Cluster or Area based approaches’ and creation of Fisheries clusters through backward and forward linkages.
- Special focus will be given for employment generation activities such as seaweed and ornamental fish cultivation.
CPWD to celebrate 167th year
Why in News?
- Central Public Works Department (CPWD) under Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), will celebrate 167th year of its glorious service to the nation on July 12, 2021.
- CPWD came into existence in July 1854 as a central agency for execution of public works. It has now grown into a comprehensive construction management department, which provides services from project conception to completion, and maintenance management.
- The Central Public Works Department of India commonly referred to as the CPWD, is a premier Central Government authority in charge of public sector works.
- The Central Public Works Department, under the Ministry of Urban Development now MoHUA (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs), deals with buildings, roads, bridges, flyovers, complicated structures like stadiums, auditoriums, laboratories, bunkers, border fencing, border roads (hill roads), etc.
- CPWD came into existence in July 1854 when Lord Dalhousie established a central agency for execution of public works and set up Ajmer Provincial Division.
- It has now grown into a comprehensive construction management department, which provides services from project conception to completion, and maintenance management.
CPWD consists of three wings in execution field:
1) B&R (Buildings and Roads)
2) E&M (Electrical and Mechanical)
KVIC Secures Trademark Registrations
Why in News?
- Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has recently secured trademark registrations in three countries – Bhutan, UAE and Mexico – a big stride towards protecting the identity of brand “Khadi” globally.
- Apart from these countries, KVIC’s trademark applications are pending in 40 countries across the world that include the USA, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brazil and others.
- KVIC has succeeded in securing trademark registration for the first time in a Gulf country.
- So far KVIC was having Trademark registrations for the word mark “KHADI” in 6 countries namely Germany, UK, Australia, Russia, China and EU where trademark registrations were granted in certain classes.
The genome of a Salt-secreting Mangrove Species
Why in News?
- Scientists have reported for the first time a reference-grade whole genome sequence of a highly salt-tolerantand salt-secreting true-mangrove species,Avicennia marina.
- Mangroves are a unique group of species found in marshy intertidal estuarine regions and survive a high degree of salinity through several adaptive mechanisms.
- Mangroves are important resources for the coastal region and are of great ecological and economic value.
- They form a link between marine and terrestrial ecosystems, protect shorelines, provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms.
About Avicennia marina
- Avicennia marina is one of the most prominent mangroves species found in all mangrove formations in India.
- It is a salt-secreting and extraordinarily salt-tolerant mangrove species that grows optimally in 75% seawater and tolerates >250% seawater.
- It is among the rare plant species, which can excrete 40% of the salt through the salt glands in the leaves, besides its extraordinary capacity to exclude salt entry to the roots.
- This study assumes significance as agriculture productivity globally is affected due to abiotic stress factors such as limited water availability and salinization of soil and water.
- Availability of water is a signiﬁcant challenge to crop production in dryland areas, accounting for ~40 percent of the world’s total land area.
- Salinity, is prevalent in ~900 million hectares globally (with an estimated 6.73 million ha in India), and it is estimated to cause an annual loss of 27 billion USD.
- The genomic resources generated in the study will pave the way for researchers to study the potential of the identified genes for developing drought and salinity tolerant varieties of important crop species of the coastal region that is significant for India with 7,500m of coastline and two major island systems.
- The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, boosts and augments the development of the biotechnology ecosystem in India through its expansion and application in agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment, and industry.
- Institute of Life Sciences has a broad vision of carrying out high-quality multidisciplinary research in the area of life sciences.
- The goal is for overall development and betterment of human health, longevity, agriculture and environment. The stated mission of the institution is to work towards upliftment of the human society and generate skilled human resources for future India.
Rare superluminous supernova
Why in News?
- An extremely bright, hydrogen deficient, fast-evolving supernova that shines with the energy borrowed from an exotic type of neutron star with an ultra-powerful magnetic field has been spotted by Indian researchers.
- Deep study of such ancient spatial objects can help probe the mysteries of the early universe.
- Such type of supernovae called SuperLuminous Supernova (SLSNe) is very rare.
- This is because they are generally originated from very massive stars (minimum mass limit is more than 25 times to that of the Sun), and the number distribution of such massive stars in our galaxy or in nearby galaxies is sparse.
- Among them, SLSNe-I has been counted to about 150 entities spectroscopically confirmed so far.
- These ancient objects are among the least understood SNe because their underlying sources are unclear, and their extremely high peak luminosity is unexplained using the conventional SN power-source model involving Ni56 – Co56 – Fe56 decay.
- The apparent look of the SN was very similar to other objects in the field. However, once the brightness was estimated, it turned out as a very blue object reflecting its brighter character.
- They found that the outer layers of the onion structured Supernovae had been peeled off, and the core was shining with a borrowed energy source.
Why in News?
- Sirisha Bandla, a 34-year-old aeronautical engineer, is set to become the third Indian-origin woman to head to space when she flies as part of Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed flight test.
- She will become the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
Why in News?
- Sikkim, the smallest State with less than 1% of India’s landmass, is home to 27% of all flowering plants found in the country.
- Flora of Sikkim – A Pictorial Guide, released recently, lists 4,912 naturally occurring flowering plants in the tiny Himalayan State.
- The State, which is a part of the Kanchenjunga biosphere landscape, has different altitudinal ecosystems, which provide opportunity for herbs and trees to grow and thrive.
- From subalpine vegetation to the temperate to the tropical, the State has different kinds of vegetation, and that is the reason for such a diversity of flora.
- The elevation also varies between 300 to 8,598 metres above mean sea level, the apex being the top of Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586 metres).
World’s first conjugate vaccine for COVID-19
Why in News?
- Cuba’s State-run corporation, BioFarma’s indigenously produced Soberana 2 vaccine was 91.2% efficacious in phase-3 trials. Another of its vaccines, Abdala, had reported an efficacy of 92.8% in late stage trials.
- Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that had reported an efficacy of over 90%, both the Soberana and Abdala are three-shot vaccines.
- Both are subunit vaccines, meaning that a part of the virus forms the antigen and is hitched on to another construct.
- In Abdala the spike protein of the coronavirus is combined with a chemically manufactured adjuvant, whereas in Soberana 2, the spike protein is chemically linked to the tetanus toxoid, making it a conjugate vaccine.
- The design and manufacturing allows the vaccine to be stored in regular refrigeration settings of 2–8 degree Celsius.
- The most common conjugate vaccines are those used for Haemophilus influenza type b and the pneumococcal bacteria.
- However, a unique aspect of the Soberana vaccine is that it is by far the only one among coronavirus vaccine candidates that relies on the conjugate vaccine technology.
- The [Carribean] island’s four vaccine candidates against COVID-19 are developed as subunit vaccines.
- From protein S – the antigen or part of the SARS-CoV2 virus that all COVID vaccines target because it induces the strongest immune response in humans – Cuban [vaccine] candidates are based only on the part that is involved in contact with the cell’s receptor: the RBD (receptor-binding domain) which is also the one that induces the greatest number of neutralising antibodies…Cuba had already developed another vaccine with this principle.
- It is Cheimi-Hib, ‘the first of its kind to be approved in Latin America and the second in the world’, against haemophilus influenzae type b, coccobacilli responsible for diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis.
- While there are no inherent disadvantages to taking a conjugate-vaccine approach for coronavirus vaccines, they have generally been used against bacteria and not virus.
- The two parts of a conjugate vaccine are typically connected by chains of polysaccharides and they generally induce a weaker immune response in young children.
- For an effective vaccine response, not only antibodies but even killer T-cells, or those produced by the immune system and capable of destroying infected cells, must be produced.
- In a protein sub-unit vaccine, the spike protein may be able to elicit a strong antibody response but when combined with the tetanus toxoid, a very widely used childhood vaccine and therefore one which the immune system recognises, such a T-cell response could also be generated and conferring more effective protection.
2020 Millennium Technology Prize
Why in News?
- The 2020 Millennium Technology Prize, has been awarded to Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman, “for their development of revolutionary DNA sequencing techniques.
- Awarded by the Republic of Finland, along with top Finnish academic institutions and industries, The Millennium Prize has a 21st century outlook, with a strong emphasis on innovation.
- DNA (or RNA, in some viruses), the genetic material of life forms, is made of four bases (A, T, G and C; with U replacing T in the case of RNA).
- A chromosome is the duplex of a long linear chain of these – and in the DNA sequence is information – the blueprint of life. Life famously can replicate, and DNA replicates when an enzyme, DNA polymerase, synthesises a complementary strand using an existing DNA strand as the template.
- The breakthrough idea of Balasubramanian and Klenerman was to sequence DNA (or RNA) using this process of strand synthesis.
- They cleverly modified their ATGC bases so that each shone with a different colour. When copied, the “coloured” copy of DNA could be deciphered from the colours alone, using miniature optical and electronic devices.
- A very significant advance in their “Next Generation Sequencing” (NGS) method lies in the size of DNA that could be sequenced at one go – more than a million base pairs can be sequenced, which translates to hundreds of genes or even the whole genome of an organism.
- This is made possible by simultaneously sequencing hundreds of pieces of DNA at the same time.
- Many copies of this long DNA “sentence” are randomly broken up into small pieces, each no more than a few hundred bases long, which are all sequenced together.
- The “reads” are then fitted together, in the manner of a puzzle, to give the final sequence.
Light Combat Helicopters
Why in News?
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is gearing up to deliver the first batch of three Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) once acceptance tests are completed.
- These are part of the 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters approved for the Army and the IAF.
- The IAF operates the older Mi-25 and Mi-35 Russian attack helicopters which are in the process of being phased out and has inducted 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the U.S.
- The Army will also start receiving the Apache attack helicopters from early 2023 onwards.
- Presently, the Army has 90 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and 75 Rudra, weaponised ALH, helicopters in service which are indigenously designed and developed by the HAL in addition to around 160 older Cheetah and Chetak utility helicopters which are in need of urgent replacement.
New population policy
Why in News?
- On World Population Day, Uttar Pradesh government announced a new population policy for 2021-2030
- The new policy has provisions to give incentives to those who help in population control.
- If enacted, the provisions of the proposed legislation titled The Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021 will come into force after one year from the date of publication in the gazette.
- Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state with a population of around 220 million.
Here are the main provisions of UP government’s move to control the state’s population:
- The population policy will focus on efforts to increase the accessibility of contraceptive measures issued under the Family Planning Programme and provide a proper system for safe abortion.
- Another focus area of the new population policy is to reduce the newborns’ and maternal mortality rate.
- Care of the elderly, and better management of education, health, and nutrition of adolescents between 11 to 19 years has also been ensured in the policy.
- The Uttar Pradesh government will give promotions, increments, concessions in housing schemes and others perks to employees who adhere to population control norms, and have two or less children.
- “Public servants who adopt the two-child norm will get two additional increments during the entire service, maternity or as the case may be, paternity leave of 12 months, with full salary and allowances and three percent increase in the employer’s contribution fund under the National Pension Scheme,” according to UP government’s draft population control bill.
- For those who are not government employees and still contribute towards keeping the population in check, will get benefits in like rebates in taxes on water, housing, home loans etc.
- If the parent of a child opts for vasectomy, he/she will be eligible for free medical facilities till the age of 20.
- The Uttar Pradesh government plans to set up a state population fund to implement the measures. The draft bill also asks the state government to introduce population control as compulsory subject in all secondary schools.
- The provision of this legislation shall apply to a married couple where the boy is not less than 21 years of age and the girl is not less than 18. The UP law commission, which has prepared the draft bill, said that the policy will be voluntary – it will not be enforced upon anyone.
- The new policy aims to decrease the Total Fertility Rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030;
- Increase Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate from 31.7 to 45 by 2026 and 52 by 2030;
- Increase male methods of contraception use from 10.8 to 15.1 by 2026 and 16.4 by 2030;
- Decrease Maternal Mortality Rate from 197 to 150 to 98 and Infant Mortality Rate from 43 to 32 to 22 and Under 5 Infant Mortality Rate from 47 to 35 to 25.
- A person who will have more than two children after the law comes to force would be debarred from several benefits such as government sponsored welfare schemes, ration card units would be limited to four, and the person will be barred from contesting elections to local authority or any body of the local self-government.
- The person contravening the law would also become ineligible to apply for government jobs under the State government, will be barred from promotion in government services and will not receive any kind of subsidy.
- The State’s policy also aims at increasing the life expectancy from 64.3 to 69 by 2030 and child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 899 to 919 by 2030.
- Uttar Pradesh first launched its population policy in 2000.
World Population Day
- World Population Day is observed every year on July 11. The main purpose of this day is to draw attention towards the issues arising out of rising population across the globe. India has the world’s second-largest populace after China.
History of World Population Day
- The World Population Day was established by the United Nations in 1989, buoyed by the interest the Five Billion Day celebrated in 1987.
- A resolution to the effect was passed, and the dayw as first marked on July 11, 1990.
- In December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to continue observing World Population Day to enhance awareness about population issues, including their relations to the environment.
Significance of World Population Day
- The World Population Day is observed with the goal of highlighting the difficulties created by overpopulation and raising awareness about how overpopulation may harm the ecosystem and progress of humanity.
Theme of World Population Day 2021
- This year, the theme of World Population Day 2021 is ‘the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on fertility’.
- It will be observed to shed more light on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lemru Elephant Reserve
Why in News?
- The proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh, in the pipeline for 20 years, has become the subject of yet another controversy.
- In a recent letter, the state Forest and Environment Department asked the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) to make a presentation for decreasing the area of the proposed reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.
What is Lemru Elephant Reserve?
- The proposal for the reserve, in Korba district, was passed unanimously by the Assembly in 2005 and got central approval in 2007.
- Lemru is one of two elephant reserves planned to prevent human-animal conflict in the region, with elephants moving into Chhattisgarh from Odisha and Jharkhand. Its area was then proposed to be 450 sq km.
Why does the government want to reduce the size of the reserve?
- The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
- Of 22 coal blocks in the area, seven have already been allotted with mines running in three, and in the process of being established in the other four.
- Under the ‘No-Go Area’ policy from the UPA area, the entire area was considered out of bound for mines, but in 2020, five coal blocks from the region were put on the auction list.
What is the government’s stand on the proposed and allotted mines?
- The state government has removed the five coal blocks put in the auction list in 2020, noting that these areas would fall under the proposed reserve.
- It has also objected to the Centre’s recent notification on the land acquisition process of some areas under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act.
- The land acquisition process has begun in Kete Basan and Parsa coal blocks, which are around the reserve, even as tribals have protested against it.
Speaker, Deputy Speaker
Why in News?
- The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly has been without a Speaker for most of this year.
- Recently, it concluded its two-day Monsoon Session without electing a Speaker.
- The Constitution and the Assembly rules do not specify a time-frame for filling a vacancy in the post of Speaker.
- In Lok Sabha, an election for Deputy Speaker has not taken place since the beginning of the 17th Lok Sabha in June 2019.
- It is the longest period in the history of Lok Sabha that this position has been vacant.
How they are elected
- The Constitution specifies offices like those of the President, Vice President, Chief Justice of India, and Comptroller and Auditor General of India, as well as Speakers and Deputy Speakers.
- Article 93 for Lok Sabha and Article 178 for state Assemblies state that these Houses “shall, as soon as may be”, choose two of its members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
- The Constitution neither sets a time limit nor specifies the process for these elections.
- It leaves it to the legislatures to decide how to hold these elections. In Lok Sabha and state legislatures, the President/Governor sets a date for the election of the Speaker, and it is the Speaker who decides the date for the election of the Deputy Speaker.
- The legislators of the respective Houses vote to elect one among themselves to these offices.
- Haryana and Uttar Pradesh specify a time-frame for holding the election to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s offices.
- In Haryana, the election of the Speaker has to take place as soon as possible after the election. And then the Deputy Speaker is to be elected within seven more days. The rules also specify that if a vacancy in these offices happens subsequently, then the election for these should occur within seven days of the legislature’s next session.
- Uttar Pradesh has a 15-day limit for an election to the Speaker’s post if it falls vacant during the term of the Assembly. In the case of the Deputy Speaker, the date for the first election is to be decided by the Speaker, and 30 days is given for filling subsequent vacancies.
- The Constitution provides that the office of the Speaker should never be empty.
- So, he continues in office until the beginning of the next House, except in the event of death or resignation.
- The Speaker is “the principal spokesman of the House, he represents its collective voice and is its sole representative to the outside world”.
- The Speaker presides over the House proceedings and joint sittings of the two Houses of Parliament. It is the Speaker’s decision that determines whether a Bill is a Money Bill and therefore outside of the purview of the other House.
- The Deputy Speaker is independent of the Speaker, not subordinate to him, as both are elected from among the members of the House.
- Deputy Speaker in addition to presiding over the House in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker chaired committees both inside and outside of Parliament. Also chaired several committees formed under the aegis of the conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in India.
- The Deputy Speaker ensures the continuity of the Speakers office by acting as the Speaker when the office becomes vacant (by death, as in the case of the first Lok Sabha Speaker G V Mavalankar in 1956, and G M C Balayogi in 2002, or because of resignation by Speaker N Sanjiva Reddy in 1977 for fighting the Presidential election.).
- In addition, when a resolution for removal of the Speaker (as in 1987 against Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar) is up for discussion, the Constitution specifies that the Deputy Speaker presides over the proceedings of the House.