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1. Call For Two Time Zones In India

1.1. Need for two time zones

  • At present, the country observes a single time zone based on the longitude passing through 82°30′E.

  • India extends from 68°7’E to 97°25’E, with the spread of 29° representing almost two hours from the geographic perspective. Early sunrise in the easternmost parts- (as early as 4AM in June) in the Northeast - causes the loss of many daylight hours by the time offices or educational institutions open, and that early sunset (4PM in winters), for its part, leads to higher consumption of electricity.

  • The researchers estimated energy savings at 20 million kWh if we follow two time zones. This will have ecological and environmental benefits too.

  • More use of sunlight would lead to more agricultural production.

  • It will have an impact on circadian rhythm of the body and thus would have health benefits due to better leisure time and sleep. This, in turn, would enhance the productivity of people.

1.2. Proposal for new time zone

  • The research paper proposes to call the two time zones IST-I (UTC + 5.30 h) and IST-II (UTC + 6.30 h).

  • The proposed line of demarcation is at 89°52’E, the narrow border between Assam and West Bengal. States west of the line would continue to follow IST (to be called IST-I). States east of the line — Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunanchal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands —would follow IST-II.

  • Location of the line is explained as: “As the railway signals have not yet been fully automated in the country, the border between the two time zones should have a very narrow spatial-width with minimum number of train stations so that the train timings while crossing the border can be managed manually without any untoward incidents.”

1.3. Problems with multiple Time zones

  • Having more than one time zone will create confusion and different timings would have to be framed for airlines, railways and communications services. For example; our railway schedules, signaling and track utilization will be a nightmare to manage. It might lead to accidents at the zone of crossing.

 

Legal/Govt Position on Time Zones

  • In 2002, based on a suggestion by then governor of Tripura, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) formed a high-level committee to explore the feasibility of two time zones. The committee rejected the idea of separate time zones.

  • In 2006, the Planning Commission recommended the introduction of two time zones in the country, saying it would save “a lot of energy”.

  • The Gauhati High Court, last year dismissed a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to have a separate time zone for the Northeast.

  • There is also a strong political implication that comes with having multiple time zones. Awarding the north-east a separate time zone, given the region's long history of self-determination movements, would indicate an unstated support towards their spatial independence.

  • Different time zones can be potentially problematic in India. Government offices in those states will close at different times and would be accessible only 75% of the time which can cause a potential loss of productivity.

  • The lack of time coordination w.r.t essential services such as banking etc. might further alienate the NE region from the rest of the India.

1.4. Alternative to Multiple Time Zones

  • Given the energy saving benefits, a 2012 research paper commissioned by the Union Ministry of Power recommends to advance IST by half-an-hour. Also the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore recommended advancing IST by half-an-hour so that it is six hours ahead of GMT.

  • All states will save electricity with amounts of savings varying in different states from 0.2% to 0.7% of daily consumption. As a percentage of peaking energy consumption, however, the savings are very significant, about 17-18%.

  • This also keeps us away from the complicated process of Daylight Saving's Time (DST) followed in western countries.

  • As per NIAS research, advancing the IST by half an hour will-

  • Save energy 2.7 billion units every year. The energy demand in the evenings due to domestic lighting will be reduced by about 16 per cent.

  • Result in estimated saving of about Rs 1,500 crore per annum for the nation.

  • Increase the productivity of the general population. India is primarily an agrarian economy and utilising sunlight is essential for maximum productivity.

  • It will optimally accommodate benefits of a separate time zones without creating a chaos.

2. ZIKA VIRUS

2.1. About Zika

  • First identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys, Zika was detected in humans five years later. Sporadic cases have been reported throughout the world since the 1960s, but the first outbreak happened only in 2007 in the Island of Yap in the Pacific.

  • In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains. Generally, the virus is not considered dangerous to anyone other than pregnant women.

  • Some countries that have had a Zika outbreak, including Brazil, reported a steep increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome — a neurological disorder that could lead to paralysis and death, according to WHO.

  • India is vulnerable to Zika mainly due to the factors such as o Poor health facilities.

  • Lack of effective vaccination against Zika virus.

  • Lack of awareness.

  • Lack of after care in case of microcephaly occurrence.

  • In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and second outbreak in July, 2017 from Krishnagiri District in Tamilnadu. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.

2.2. India’s response to Zika Virus Disease outbreak

  • National Guidelines and Action Plan on Zika virus disease have been prepared and shared with the States to prevent outbreak of Zika virus disease and containment of spread in case of any outbreak.

  • The Joint Monitoring Group, a Technical group under Directorate General of Health Service, tasked to monitor emerging and re-emerging diseases is regularly reviewing the situation on Zika virus disease. A 24x7 control room is functioning from Directorate General of Health Services. The situation is being monitored closely.

  • All the International Airports / Ports have displayed signage providing information for travellers on Zika virus disease and to report if they are returning from any of the affected countries and suffering from febrile illness.

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is tracking for clustering of acute febrile illness in the community. It has also sensitized its State and District Rapid Response Teams.

  • The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) is monitoring microcephaly from 55 sentinel sites.

3. Who Tb Report And Roadmap

3.1. Findings of the World TB report 2018

  • TB is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide, and since 2011. It has been the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV/AIDS.

  • Overall, TB deaths have decreased over the past year. However, underreporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases remains a major challenge.

3.2. Concept Notes from report

Facts about TB

  • TB is communicable infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.

  • It typically affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can also affect other organs (extrapulmonary TB).

  • Drug Resistant TB:

  • Multidrug Resistance TB (MDR): It is TB that does not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin (2 of the most powerful first line drugs).

  • Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB): It is resistant to at least four of the core anti-TB drugs. It involves multidrug-resistance (MDR-TB), in addition to resistance to any of the fluoroquinolones (such as levofloxacin or moxifloxacin) and to at least one of the three injectable second-line drugs (amikacin, capreomycin or kanamycin).

  • Totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB): TB which is resistant to all the first- and second-line TB drugs.

3.3. Global Efforts for TB

  • Moscow Declaration to End TB: It is the outcome of first global ministerial conference on ending TB, in 2017.

  • WHO- End TB Strategy

  • Vision: A world free of TB with zero deaths, disease and suffering due to TB.

  • It has three high-level, overarching indicators and related targets: 95% reduction by 2035 in number of TB deaths compared with 2015. 90% reduction by 2035 in TB incidence rate compared with 2015. Zero the level of catastrophic costs for TB-affected families by 2035.

  • Triple-Billion Goals: It is associated with WHO General Programme of Work 2019-2023 linked to SGDs health goals. This stressed the need of;

  • 1 billion more people are benefiting from Universal Health Coverage.

  • 1 billion more people are better protected from health emergencies,

  • 1 billion more people are enjoying better health and well-being.

  • Catastrophic total costs due to TB: It is TB-specific indicator incorporates not only direct medical payments for diagnosis and treatment, but also direct non-medical payments.

3.4. Observations in World TB Report 2018 for India

  • India accounted for 27% of the total new infections of TB in 2017, which is the highest among the top 30 high TB burden countries in the world.

  • India also led in cases of Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). Nearly a quarter of the world's MDR-TB cases are in India (24 per cent).

 

Roadmap toward ending TB in Children and Adolescent

  • It is systematic pathway which will guide the stakeholders to contains the prevalence of Child and Adolescent.

 

Observations in Roadmap

  • Young children are at increased risk of developing severe forms of TB disease (e.g. disseminated TB, TB meningitis) with increased risk of death (especially children <2 years).

  • Adolescent (10-19 years) TB patients faces unique challenges due to peer-pressure and fear of stigma, increasing prevalence of co-morbidities such as HIV, and risk behaviours such as alcohol, substance and tobacco use.

  • Many of the policies and tools needed to break down the continuous cycle of transmission of disease and policy action need to be prioritised, strengthened and fully implemented to move us closer to ending TB.

4. Bisphenol A (Bpa)

4.1. More on news

  • Scientists have created tiny spheres of Titanium dioxide that can catch and destroy BPA.

  • The spheres provide plenty of surface area to anchor cyclodextrin — a benign sugar-based molecule which has a two-faced structure, with a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) cavity and a hydrophilic (water-attracting) outer surface.

  • BPA being hydrophobic is attracted to the cavity where it is degraded into harmless chemicals.

4.2. About BPA

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

  • Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and drink packaging, e.g., water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices.

  • Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure.

  • Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer.

  • The degree to which BPA leaches from polycarbonate bottles into liquid may depend more on the temperature of the liquid or bottle, than the age of the container.

  • BPA is an endocrine system disruptor and it can interfere with the production, and function of natural hormones. It also contributes to high blood pressure.

  • BPA can also be found in breast milk. Its Prolonged exposure is suspected of affecting the health of children.

5. Noble Prizes 2018

Nobel Prize In Physiology Or Medicine

  • It has been jointly awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of ‘immune checkpoint therapy,’ a cancer treatment.

  • Working: By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells by releasing the brakes on immune cells.

  • James P. Allison studied a known protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realized the potential of releasing the brake and thereby unleashing our immune cells to attack tumors. He then developed this concept into a brand new approach for treating patients.

  • Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and, after careful exploration of its function, eventually revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.

5.1. Nobel Prize In Physics

  • Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 was awarded for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics with one half to Arthur Ashkin for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems, the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. Donna Strickland is third women to win Physics Noble.

Application:

  • Optical Tweezers are widely used to investigate the machinery of life.

  • Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) for subsequent high-intensity lasers. Its uses include the millions of corrective eye surgeries that are conducted every year using the sharpest of laser beams.

5.2. NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY

  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018 was divided, one half awarded to Frances H. Arnold for the directed evolution of enzymes, the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter for the Phage Display of peptides and antibodies. Ms. Arnold, only the fifth woman to win a chemistry Nobel.

 

Application:

  • First directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyse chemical reactions, has been used in manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels for a greener transport sector.

  • Phage Display, where a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – can be used to evolve new proteins. It has produced anti-bodies that can neutralise toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases and cure metastatic cancer. Adalimumab, a first protein evolved through phage display, is used for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

  • Phage display allows scientists to study protein interactions on a large-scale and select proteins with the highest affinity for specific targets. It provides a means to identify target-binding proteins from a library of millions of different proteins without the need to screen each molecule individually.

6. Space Missions

6.1. New Horizons probe

  • It will flyby the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule on 1st January, 2019 and will set the record for the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.

  • It is the first mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper belt.

  • The farthest ever trajectory correction maneuvers (TCM) or course correction has been performed on this spacecraft.

 

Other related terms in news

Moonmoon

  • They are potential moons of the moon i.e. a moon that orbits around another moon.

  • Duncan Forgan has given the concept and the name for such celestial bodies.

  • There haven’t been any examples of moonmoons found in the solar system by now, but Saturn’s moon Titan or Jupiter’s moon Callisto are so big that there are possibilities of moonmoon for them.

 

Other Missions in news

  • Hubble Telescope – Recently, it put itself into “safe mode” after one of its gyroscopes, which keeps it aimed at objects of scientific interest, died. It is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space. Hubble has an unobstructed view of the universe and scientists have used it to observe the most distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system.

  • NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory also entered protective “safe mode” in October due to a malfunction of some sort. It is one of NASA’s original “Great Observatories” projects along with Hubble, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

  • The planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, which has found about 70 percent of all known alien worlds to date, is almost out of fuel.

  • NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres (largest object in asteroid belt) since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel.

6.2. European Missions

BepiColombo Mission

  • It is Europe's first mission to Mercury which will set off in 2018 and reach there in 2025.

  • It is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

  • The mission comprises two spacecrafts: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

  • The mission will help in finding out the possibility of water in Mercury. The surface temperature of Mercury varies from 450 degree Celsius to -180 degree Celsius (areas permanently in shade).

  • Mercury is the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System. Till now only NASA’s Mariner 10 and US Space Agency’s Messenger has flown past the planet.

 

Hyperion

  • It is the largest ever galaxy proto-supercluster (A million Billion times that of Sun) sighted till date, with the help of Very Large Telescope of European Southern Observatory.

  • This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over two billion years after the Big Bang i.e. when universe was relatively young.

  • In general, such superclusters are observed at lower redshifts i.e when universe has had much more time to evolve.

7. SCHEMES RELATED TO RESEARCH

7.1. MPRESS — Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences

  • Aim: To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.

  • Eligibility: To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions and ICSSR funded/recognised research institutes.

  • Implemneting Agency: Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).

7.2. SPARC — Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration

  • Aim: To boost joint research with global universities from 28 countries and get international expertise to solve major national problems, train Indian students in the best laboratories, deepen academic engagement and Thrust Areas under SPARC Scheme

  • Fundamental Research: Those which attempt to provide new knowledge and understanding or address open unsolved problems of international importance.

  • Emergent Areas of Impact: Those which look at new and emerging areas like Artificial & Machine Learning, Cognitive Science, Human Signal Processing, Digital Humanities, etc, that can potentially bring about a major impact cutting across disciplines and domains.

  • Convergence: Those which bring together multiple disciplines of basic, engineering, economic, social science and humanities to solve critical problems of today in a holistic integrated manner.

  • Other areas like Action Oriented Research, Innovation-Driven and other proposal of high potential. improve the international ranking of Indian Institutes.

  • Eligibility: All Indian institutions ranked in top 100 of National Institutional Ranking Framework will be eligible for this scheme that targets PhD and postdoctoral researchers. Foreign institutions in top 100 to top 200 of global academic rankings from the 28 target countries will be eligible.

  • A set of Nodal Institutions (NI), from India, for each participating foreign country has been identified to help, handhold and coordinate with willing Participating Indian (PI) Institutions to forge alliance with the Institutions of concerned participating foreign country, for academic and research collaboration.

  • Implementing Agency: IIT Kharagpur will be the National Coordinating (NC) Institution.

October Science and Technology

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