Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (2nd to 8th Sep, 2019)

Chandrayaan-2

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (2nd to 8th Sep, 2019)

(Info-graphic Summary at the end)

 

Topic: Chandrayaan-2

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

Chandrayaan-2

Context:

  • The furthest that any spacecraft has gone from the equator was Surveyor 7, launched by NASA, that made a moon landing way back on January 10, 1968. This spacecraft landed near 40-degree south latitude.
  • Its lander module, called Vikram, will land at a location very close to the south pole of the moon, near a latitude of about 70 degree south of lunar equator.
  • It is easier and safer to land near the equator.

 

Conditions at Equator of Moon:

  • The terrain and temperature are more hospitable, and conducive for longer and sustained operation of instruments.
  • The surface here is even and smooth, very steep slopes are almost absent, and there are fewer hills or craters.
  • Sunlight is present in abundance, at least on the side facing the earth, thus offering regular supply of energy to solar-powered instruments.

 

Conditions at Polar Regions:

  • The polar regions of the moon, however, are a very different, and difficult, terrain.
  • Many parts lie in a completely dark region where sunlight never reaches, and temperatures can go below 230 degree Celsius.
  • Lack of sunlight and extreme low temperatures create difficulty in operation of instruments.
  • There are large craters all over the place, ranging from a few cm in size to those extending to several thousands of kilometres.
  • As a result, the polar regions of the moon have remained unexplored.
  • There are indications of presence of ice molecules in substantial amounts in the deep craters in this region.
  • The extremely cold temperatures here mean that anything trapped here would remain frozen in time, without undergoing much change. The rocks and soil in this region could therefore provide clues to early solar system.

Therefore, there is an immense potential to reveal new science through the exploration of polar regions of the moon.

Chandrayaan-2 was to be launched by India and Russia in 2011; it’s delayed but better

  • Chandrayaan-2 was originally scheduled to be launched way back in 2011 itself, immediately after Chandrayaan-1 which was launched in 2008 and remained functional in its orbit till about a year later.
  • Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to be a joint collaborative mission between India and Russia.
  • While the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was to provide the rocket and the Orbiter module, the lander and rover modules were to come from Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.
  • ISRO did not have the capability to build its own lander and rover at that time.
  • The kind of lander and rover that Russia was preparing to send on Chandrayaan-2, however, developed problem on a different mission.
  • The new proposed design was found to be incompatible to Chandrayaan-2.
  • Russia had to eventually pull itself out from the collaboration, which left ISRO to make efforts to develop its own lander and rover through research and development.
  • This delay also provided ISRO additional time to improve on the design of the main spacecraft.

At 2.1 km above Moon surface, ISRO loses contact with Vikram

  • India’s hopes of becoming the first nation to touch down on the Moon’s South Polar region seems to have ended in disappointment as it lost contact with the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2, moments before the historic touchdown on Saturday.
  • Chandrayaan-1 had also sent a vehicle to the lunar South Pole, though that spacecraft crash landed into the ground, in November 2008, rather than land intact.
  • Sivan had earlier described Chandrayaan 2 as the “most complex mission ever undertaken by ISRO” and said that the prospect of the landers’ 15 minute descent — navigating its way autonomously — as “terrifying”.
  • Out Of the 38 previous attempts of ‘soft landing’ on the lunar surface so far, only 20 have been successful. Successful Orbiter
  • But all is not lost. More than half of the scientific instruments it carried to the Moon are safe on the orbiter, which continues to hover around 100 km above the Moon.
  • It will spend the next year mapping the lunar surface and studying the deposits of water ice at the South Pole.

 

Why presence of Water on Moon matters:

  • It has totally changed the way scientists now view the moon and has led to a renewed interest in lunar exploration.
  • Presence of water is crucial for the hopes of using moon as a future launch pad to send probes deeper in to space.
  • Human beings can use moon for extended period stays which is not possible in the absence of water.
  • A lot of water is believed to be present in the polar regions of the moon, trapped as ice in deep craters.
  • It can be used for life support and manufacturing rocket fuel.

 

Forms of Water on Moon:

  • Lunar surface is full of oxides of different elements. These oxides could react with hydrogen ion in the solar winds to make hydroxyl molecules, which could combine again with hydrogen to make H20.
  • The water could also have come from external sources.

 

Sample Question:

What are the objectives of launching Chandrayaan-2 moon mission?

a) To map the surface of the moon.
b) Signature of water-ice on the lunar surface.
c) To collect data on minerals and formation of rocks.
d) All the above

Answer: d)

Explanation: Scientific objectives are to map the Moon’s surface, its mineral and element content, moonquakes and signatures of water-ice on the lunar surface.

 


 

Topic: Mapping lightning

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography

Formation of lightening

Context:

  • Lightning strikes have caused at least 1,311 deaths in the four-month period between April and July this year, according to a first-of-its kind report on lightning incidents in India.
  • Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), a non-profit organisation that works closely with India
  • Meteorological Department (IMD), has prepared it.
  • 36 per cent of lightening happened to be cloud-to-ground lightning, the kind that reaches the Earth.
  • Remaining were in-cloud lightning, which remains confined to the clouds in which it was formed.
  • Odisha recorded maximum lightening.

 

Importance of the Report:

  • The report is part of an effort to create a database that can help develop an early warning system for lightning, spread awareness, and prevent deaths.
  • It is possible to predict, 30-40 minutes in advance, when a lightning strike heads towards Earth.
  • The IMD has begun providing lightning forecasts and warnings through mobile text messages from this year.

 

Formation of Lightening:

  • Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere.
  • It is a result of the difference in electrical charge between the top and bottom of a cloud.
  • The lightning-generating clouds are typically about 10-12 km in height, with their base about 1-2 km from the Earth’s surface.
  • As water vapour moves upwards in the cloud, it condenses into water due to decreasing temperatures.
  • A huge amount of heat is generated in the process, pushing the water molecules further up.
  • As they move to temperatures below zero, droplets change into small ice crystals.
  • As they continue upwards, they gather mass, until they become so heavy that they start descending.
  • It leads to a system where smaller ice crystals move upwards while larger ones come down.
  • The resulting collisions trigger release of electrons, in a process very similar to the generation of electric sparks.
  • The moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons; a chain reaction is formed.
  • The process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge, of the order of billions of volts.
  • In little time, a huge current, of the order of lakhs to millions of amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • It produces heat, leading to the heating of the air column between the two layers of cloud.
  • It is because of this heat that the air column looks red during lightning.
  • The heated air column expands and produces shock waves that result in thunder sounds.

 

How does it reach to Earth:

  • The Earth is a good conductor of electricity.
  • While electrically neutral, it is relatively positively charged compared to the middle layer of the cloud.
  • As a result, an estimated 20-25 per cent of the current flow gets directed towards the Earth.
  • It has a greater probability of striking raised objects on the ground, such as trees or buildings.

 

Role of Government:

  • State governments should take the data from IMD installed sensors, start an emergency response system, and relay the information to the district level.
  • Location-based SMS services is available, but this is not done in many states.

 

Case Study of Odisha:

  • After receiving alerts from IMD, Odisha send pre-fixed messages to the grassroots utilising their network.
  • Vulnerable people have been trained how to respond after hearing the warning siren.
  • Safe shelters were created.
  • Lightning arresters have been installed on many buildings.
  • Mayurbhanj, which saw 152 deaths last year, recorded only 17 this year.
  • The state took proactive measures like changing housing patterns, providing education.
  • They planted palm trees, which attract high-voltage electricity.

Challenges:

  • Engagement with other disasters as it happened in Bihar.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles in disseminating the information as happened in UP.
  • Lack of manpower with State disaster response authority as happened in Jharkhand.
  • Lack of awareness among people even receiving the alert.

Linkage with Climate Change:

  • Areas prone to heatwaves were also prone to lightning.
  • Pollution increases aerosols in the atmosphere, which in turn increases lightning.
  • There have been at least two or three instances of lightning strikes without rainfall.

 

Sample Question:

The expansion of the air sends out

a) Vibrations and Sound waves
b) Sound waves and Shock waves
c) Shock waves and Vibrations
d) Vibrations, Sound waves and Shock waves

Answer: c)

 


Topic: Indoor Air Pollution

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology and Environment

Indoor Air Pollution

Context:

According to the Centre for Science & Environment (CSE), the three-year average levels of PM 2.5 atmospheric particulate matter (with a diameter less than 2.5 microns) during 2016-18 were 25% lower than the 2011-14 baseline (three-year average).

Though the number of days with severe PM 2.5 levels have come down since 2015, Delhi still needs to cut pollution levels by 65% to meet global air quality standards.

 

Indoor Pollution

The environmental air pollution and indoor air pollution are inseparably linked, as people spend around 90% of their time staying indoors.

According to the State of Global Air Report 2019, an estimated 846 million people in India were exposed to household air pollution in 2017. That forms around 60% of the country’s population.

 

Gases and particles in the air can be divided into two categories: primary and secondary sources.

  1. Primary gases and components are emitted directly from sources that include the building itself, consumer products (e.g. personal care products, cleaning or cooking products, equipment and office products, off-gassing from items brought into the home), microbial and human metabolic emissions, and also the entry of outdoor air into the house through openings, ventilation systems or leaks.
  2. Secondary gases are produced through chemical reactions in the air. For e.g., cooking releases a large amount of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) and other particles. VOCs and NOx react in the presence of sunlight to form ozone.

The ground-level ozone not only has long-term effects on human health but is also a critical pollutant in smog.

 

Harmful Effects of Indoor Pollution:

  • Exposure to ground-level ozone increases a person’s likelihood of dying from respiratory disease, specifically cardiovascular diseases.
  • In 2017, exposure to PM 2.5 was the third leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes-related deaths and disability.
  • Nitrogen oxide (NOx) can cause inflammation of the airways. Long-term exposure can diminish lung function and increase susceptibility to allergens.
  • Particulate matter from burning cigarettes, mosquito coils in a closed indoor environment can lead to increased cases of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, following prolonged exposure.

 

Related Findings:

Cooking, cleaning, and other routine household activities generate significant levels of volatile and particulate chemicals

The purpose of the experiment HOMEChem (House Observations of Microbial and Environmental Chemistry) conducted by The University of Texas was to identify the sources of chemical oxidants in the indoor environment, and how they were affected by human activities and changes in light conditions.

There are two main associated issues that were identified are:

  1. First, the issue of solid fuel use in homes- a problem associated with rural households, and
  2. Second, the issue of exposure related to cooking, smoking, use of incense and/or mosquito coils, consumer products, infiltration of outdoor air, etc. This has more relevance in urban households, offices and public spaces.

 

Way Forward:

  1. Simple measures such as,
    1. cooking with appropriate ventilation (especially when frying food), avoiding the use of incense sticks and candles, room fresheners, etc., (whenever possible)
    2. restricting the infiltration of outdoor air, especially on days when pollution levels are high can help to keep a check on indoor air pollution in urban households.
  2. It is important to note that buildings in India often have natural ventilation and tend to be leaky. Special care is needed to fully seal the building.
  3. There is a big gap in the lack of a standard to measure indoor air pollution that needs to be resolved. In India, indoor air is as bad as outdoor air.
  4. Household air pollution needs to remain a focus for policy action, especially in Asia and Africa, where the use of solid fuel for residential cooking and heating is still very high.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the mentioned devices are used for removing vapour phase/ gaseous pollutants?

a) Absorption towers
b) Catalytic converters
c) Thermal oxidisers
d) All of the mentioned

Answer: d)

 


Topic: Impact of Food Wastage

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society

Impact of Food Wastage

 

Context:

According to the report “Reducing Food Loss and Waste” by the World Resources Institute (WRI), uneaten food is impacting the economy and the environment negatively.

 

Food Loss and Wastage: 

  • Food loss refers to food that spills, spoils, incurs an abnormal reduction in quality such as bruising or wilting, or otherwise gets lost before it reaches the consumer. It is the unintended result of an agricultural process or technical limitation in storage, infrastructure, packaging, or marketing.
  • Food waste refers to food that is of good quality and fit for human consumption but that does not get consumed because it is discarded—either before or after it spoils. It is the result of negligence or a conscious decision to throw food away.

 

Impact of Uneaten Food: 

  • Nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year goes uneaten, costing the global economy over $940 billion.
  • Uneaten food is responsible for emitting about 8% of planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

 

Place of Food Loss and Wastage:

  • Most of the food loss happens “near the farm” predominantly in lower-income countries.
  • Most of the food waste happens “near the plate” predominantly in higher-income countries.

 

Share of Food Group Lost or Wasted: 

  • Roots and tubers are the food group that face the maximum wastage, at over 62% in the year 2007. Fruits and vegetables follow, with over 41% in the year 2007.
  • By weight, fruits and vegetables make up the largest share of total annual food loss and waste.

 

Solution: 

  • Developing national strategies for food loss and waste reduction.
  • Creating national public-private partnerships to deal with food losses and wastage.
  • Tackling food loss and waste across the entire supply chain.
  • Shifting consumer social norms so that wasting food is seen as unacceptable.

 

World Resources Institute:

  • WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States.
  • It was established in 1982. Headquartered in Washington, US.
  • It aspires to create a world where the actions of government, business, and communities combine to eliminate poverty and sustain the natural environment for all people.

 

Sample Question:

Where does most food go to waste in India?

a) On farms
b) During transportation
c) In supermarkets
d) In restaurants and at home

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: How to deflect an asteroid

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

How to deflect an asteroid

Context:

Asteroid hit is widely acknowledged as eventually it caused extinction of life on Earth.

 

Methods to deal with:

  • Blowing up the asteroid before it reaches Earth.
  • Deflecting it off its Earth-bound course by hitting it with a spacecraft.

 

NASA mission:

  • It is an ambitious double-spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space.
  • It is known as the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA).
  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will be jointly undertaking it.

 

Target:

  • The target is the smaller of two bodies in the “Double Didymos Asteroids” that are in orbit between Earth and Mars.
  • Didymos is a near-Earth asteroid system.
  • The project aims to deflect the orbit of the smaller body through an impact by one spacecraft.
  • Then a second spacecraft will survey the crash site and gather the maximum possible data on the effect of this collision.

 

DART:

  • NASA is building the Double Asteroid Impact Test (DART) spacecraft for launch in summer 2021.
  • ESA’s contribution is a mission called Hera, which will perform a close-up survey of the post-impact asteroid, acquiring measurements such as the asteroid’s mass and detailed crater shape.
  • All this would allow researchers to model the efficiency of the collision.

 

CubeSats:

  • CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites.
  • CubeSats are built to standard dimensions (Units or “U”) of 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm.
  • They can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size, and typically weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per U.

 

Sample Question:

NASA has built its first mission to work as a planetary defence mechanism against cosmic impacts called DART. What does it stand for?

a) Double Asteroid Reducing Test
b) Double Asteroid Reduction Test
c) Double Asteroid Redirection Test
d) Double Asteroid Redirecting Test

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: Kalimantan – Indonesia Capital

Topic in Syllabus: World Geography

 

Kalimantan – Indonesia Capital

Context:

Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that the nation’s capital will be moved from Jakarta on the island of Java to a yet-to-be-built city in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

 

Reason:

  • Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of Borneo, an island shared with Malaysia and Brunei.
  • Jakarta is crowded with home to more than 10 million people – and has some of the world’s worst air pollution and traffic congestion– estimated to cost 100 trillion rupiah (S$9.73 billion) a year due to lost productivity
  • Poor urban planning in Jakarta, as well as unregulated draining of aquifers, has left 40% of the city below sea level. 
  • The move is part of a broader strategy to decentralise Indonesia’s economic growth – Jakarta is home to 60% of the country’s population and accounts for over half of its economic activity.

 

Background:

  • In 2005, Myanmar moved its capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw, which was also purpose built as a new capital. 
  • In 1960, Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília, another planned city. 
  • Malaysia has also moved its administrative centre to Putrajaya, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur

 

Sample Question:

The Karimata Strait which is also spelled Carimata or Caramata, connects which of the following two seas?

a) Java Sea and Celebes Sea
b) South China Sea and Sea of Japan
c) South China Sea and Java Sea
d) Java Sea and Banda Sea

Answer: c)

Explanation: The Karimata Strait which is also spelled Carimata or Caramata is the wide strait that connects the South China Sea to the Java Sea, separating the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo (Kalimantan). It is bordered by the Belitung island (off Sumatra’s eastern coast) in the west and Borneo in the east. It is the widest strait that connects the South China Sea and the Java Sea (other straits include the Bangka and Gaspar Straits), but its numerous islands and reefs reduce its navigability. Its weather and current is influenced by the annual southeast and northwest monsoon.

 


 

Topic: Hepatitis B: About and concerns

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society

Hepatitis B

Background:

On September 3, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand became the first four countries in the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia region to have successfully controlled hepatitis B. The virus is said to be controlled when the disease prevalence is reduced to less than 1% among children less than five years of age.

 

Context:

  • Despite the introduction of hepatitis B vaccine in the Universal Immunization Programme in 2002 and scaling-up nationwide in 2011, about one million people in India become chronically infected with the virus every.
  • Health Ministry estimate – As on February 2019, 40 million people in India were infected.
  • Hepatitis B infection at a young age turns chronic, causing over 1,00,000 premature deaths annually from liver cirrhosis or liver cancer
  • India has over 40 million hepatitis B (HBV) infected patients (second only to China) and constitutes about 15 per cent of the entire pool of hepatitis B in the world.

 

Hepatitis

  • Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver.
  • It imbalances the normal functioning of bile production, excretion of drugs and hormones, metabolism of fats, proteins, synthesis of proteins and enzymes activation.
  • There are 5 types of hepatitis viz. A, B, C, D and E. Each type is caused by a different hepatitis virus.
  • Hepatitis B and C are the deadliest.

 

Transmission

  • Hepatitis viruses B, C and D spread by contact with contaminated blood or body fluids.
  • Hepatitis A and E spreads through unsafe food and drink.

 

Hepatitis B

  • Infectious disease caused by an infection with Hepatitis B virus. I
  • It is contracted through flat tired wounds, contact with blood, saliva, fluids of an infectious body.
  • Sharing personal belongings such as razors or toothbrush of an infected person would also cause Hepatitis B.

 

Symptoms

  • Hepatitis B symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, and jaundice.
  • Symptoms do not come to limelight until one to six months.
  • It could be diagnosed through a common blood test.

 

Treatment

  • Hepatitis B Vaccine could be done for both for adults and children.
  • It comprises of three intramuscular vaccines.
  • Second and third vaccines are provided after one and six months after the first vaccine.

 

Why is Hepatitis B so deadly?

  • Mother–to–child transmission – Hepatitis B can spread unknowingly from a mother who is infected to a newborn child.
  • Over 90% of new hepatitis B infections occur through mother-to-child transmission and during the early age of childhood.
  • Silent killers – More than 80% of the infected aren’t aware of their infection as infections can remain asymptomatic for years, even decades, slowly damaging the liver.

 

Steps taken by Government

National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme – The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the programme on the occasion of the World Hepatitis day, 28th July 2018.

Launching of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and giving importance to safe drinking water and WASH.

About National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme:

  • Aim: The programme aims at both prevention and treatment of hepatitis which is among leading causes of liver cancer, cirrhosis of liver and acute liver failure.
  • Target: It aims to treat minimum of 3 lakh hepatitis C cases over a period of three years for eliminating deadly condition by 2030.
  • The programme is part of National Health Mission. Under it, expensive antiviral for hepatitis B and C infections will be made available free of cost at all government hospitals.
  • Treatment: It will set up and upgrade facilities for diagnosis and treatment primarily of hepatitis B and C. These designated treatment centers will provide free anti-viral to hepatitis C patients. They will also provide hepatitis B vaccine to babies born to mothers carrying the virus within 24 hours of birth.
  • Decentralization: The programme also aims to build capacities at national, state, district levels and sub-district level up to Primary Health Centers (PHC) and health and wellness centers to scale program till lowest level of the healthcare facility in a phased manner.

 

What are the measures that needs to be taken?

  • National Hepatitis Policy– It will translate into better surveillance and detection of water and blood-borne hepatitis viral infections in various regions.
  • Availability of safe and potable water, early screening, vaccination and prevention of misuse of disposable needles and syringes will help to eliminate treatable viral hepatitis.
  • Easy availability of the newly discovered drugs at a reasonable price.
  • Hepatitis B birth dose, given in the first 24 hours, helps prevent vertical transmission from the mother to child.

 

Conclusion:

There is also a need to increase awareness about WHO recommendation that allows hepatitis B open-vial policy. Opened vials of hepatitis B vaccine can be kept for a maximum duration of 28 days for use in other children if the vaccine meets certain conditions. So, bigger vials like 10 dose vials can be used in an interval of 28 days, thus increasing vaccine availability.

 

Sample Question:

Which of these things can cause hepatitis?

a) Viruses
b) Medicines and alcohol
c) Immune system that’s not working as it should
d) All of the above

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: India-Russia Bilateral ties & Space Cooperation

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

India-Russia Bilateral ties & Space Cooperation

Context:

 India and Russia have signed 15 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and other agreements during PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) summit.

 

What is the EEF?

According to its website, the EEF was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in 2015, with the aim of supporting the economic development of Russia’s Far East, and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

The ongoing EEF Summit at the Far Eastern Federal University is the fifth in its history.

 

India-Russia relations:

Bilateral trades:

  • India’s economic ties with Russia have been struggling with bilateral trade hovering around $10 billion mark. Energy is one area which has the potential to provide stimulus to their ties.
  • On 20th India—Russia Annual Summit India,
  • Russia agree to step up trade to $30 bn by 2025.
  • They also agreed to speed up preparations for signing of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Agreement on Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments.
  • It was also agreed to intensify work for eliminating trade barriers. Which would be facilitated by the proposed Trading Agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Republic of India

 

Defence:

  • India has contracted defence deals worth about $14.5 billion from Russia.
  • New Delhi’s decision to go ahead with the purchase of S-400 missile defence system, worth over $5 billion, despite the threat of US sanctions, underscores the importance India continues to attach to its defence engagement with Russia.

 

Energy sector:

  • Chief among the 50 agreements signed this week were those on energy exploration and procurement, including a specific MoU on cooperation on LNG supplies to India, and a maritime route from Vladivostok to Chennai which will be used for energy trade as well.
  • The two sides also agreed on a five-year ‘roadmap’ for cooperation on prospecting for hydrocarbons and LNG in the Far East and the Arctic, building on a history of Indian investment in oilfields in the region.
  • The emphasis on energy from this region is as much a bid to benefit from explorations and trade routes in the Arctic that are becoming accessible due to global warming, as it is reflective of India’s desire to diversify its energy sources away from an unstable West Asia
  • The investment in the Far East, which is often neglected given that Russia is seen as a European power in the post-Soviet era, also underlines India’s desire to draw Russia into its strategic forays in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Russia and India are also becoming more ambitious by pursuing projects in third countries such as the Rooppur nuclear power project of Bangladesh.
  • The push to ‘Act Far East’ allows India to demonstrate its commitment to an area of concern for Moscow, thus reassuring its traditional partner that in an increasingly polarised world, India is confident of working with multiple alignments, even if they are at cross purposes with each other.

 

Space:

In 2015, the ISRO and Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) signed a new MoU on expanding cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

This has opened-up opportunities for collaboration in the following areas of mutual interest:

  • Satellite navigation 
  • Launch vehicle development
  • Critical technologies for human spaceflight programme
  • Remote sensing of EarthSpace science and planetary exploration
  • Use of ground space 
  • Development of space systems and components
  • Exchange of scientists
  • Training and scientific and technical meetings

The two leaders welcomed the signing of an MoU to set up and utilise ground measurement gathering stations in each other’s territories to enhance the navigation satellite systems GLONASS and NavIC respectively.

 

GLONASS:

  • As a result, Russian GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is providing a key service in Indian transport sector being introduced on New Delhi-Mumbai Highway since January,2019.
  • The vehicles will be equipped with onboard devices based on the GLONASS / IRNSS satellite system, which have been developed specifically for this project.

 

Mission Gaganyaan:

  • The Gaganyaan programme, is an indigenous mission that would take Indian astronauts to space.
  • Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that is intended to send 3 astronauts to space for a minimum of seven days by 2022, as part of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
  • The spacecraft, which is being developed by the ISRO consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module.
  • It will be for the first time that India will launch its manned mission to space, making the country fourth in line to have sent a human into space.
  • Isro’s GSLV Mk III, the three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
  • The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km.
  • GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4-ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). 
  • The Gaganyaan programme is expected to cost under ₹10,000 crore and there will be two unmanned missions prior to the manned mission to validate the technologies.
  • The mission will enable ISRO to achieve higher levels of reliability in launch and satellite technology.
  • The human spaceflight will take 16 minutes to reach the orbit where it will stay for five to seven days.
  • The capsule will rotate around the Earth every 90 minutes, and astronauts will be able to witness the sunrise and sunset.
  • The three astronauts will be able to see India from space every 24 hours, while they conduct experiments on microgravity.
  • For its return, the capsule will take 36 hours, and will land in the Arabian Sea, just off the coast of Gujarat.
  • ISRO has developed some critical technologies like re-entry mission capability, crew escape system, crew module configuration, thermal protection system, deceleration and flotation system, sub-systems of life support system required for Mission Gaganyaan.

 

Recent MOUs during EEF summit:

  • India and Russia have signed 15 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and other agreements to boost co-operation between the two countries during PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
  • Russia will help train Indian space travellers aboard the Gaganyaan as part of the agreements signed.
  • An agreement to operationalise the maritime route between Vladivostok in Russia to Chennai in India has also been reached. The route can help Indian businesses engage in activities in the Russian Far East, a resource rich but sparsely populated region.
  • The two leaders held the delegation-level talks at the India-Russia 20th Annual Summit and discussed ways to bolster cooperation in trade and investment, oil and gas, mining, nuclear energy, defence and security, air and maritime connectivity, transport infrastructure, hi-tech, outer space and people-to-people ties.

 

Conclusion:

  • The challenge in front of India and Russia is that they need to transform a 20th century partnership and make it fit for the 21st century. Global trends are evolving rapidly, and major powers are re-defining their ties with each other to match their contemporary requirements.
  • Apart from this, Russia is planning to partner Delhi for joint collaborations including presence at the prestigious International Space Station (ISS). This includes cooperation in futuristic technologies including new space systems, rocket engines, propellants and propulsion systems, spacecraft and launch vehicle technology. 
  • Cooperation in space has emerged as a key area of cooperation in the high technology sector between India and Russia. India’s rapidly growing capabilities in outer space is being acknowledged and Russia sees India as a key partner for promoting peaceful uses of outer space.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following countries is hosting the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum?

a) India
b) Bhutan
c) Indonesia
d) Russia

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: Restrict Oxytocin Manufacture

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

Restrict Oxytocin Manufacture

Context:

Recently a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court referred the matter to a larger bench, to decide on whether it would be in the public interest to restrict the manufacture of Oxytocin for domestic use to a single public sector undertaking.

In recent times the use of chemicals or natural products, which have ill-effects on human health are in discussion for their regulation and limited use. Be it marijuana or oxytocin. Hence these chemicals and their chemical composition are important for Prelims and the debate around their regulation is important for Mains.

 

What is Oxytocin?

  • Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland.
  • It was discovered in 1906 and is on the World Health Organization (WHO)’s List of Essential Medicines.
  • It is a peptide hormone approved for use in both humans and animals for stretching the cervix and uterus to facilitate childbirth. 
  • It also stops maternal bleeding after childbirth. 
  • Oxytocin is the recommended first-choice uterotonic drug for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), a leading cause of maternal mortality in caesarean sections. 
  • Oxytocin is also important in a practice called “active management of third stage labour” (AMTSL). 
  • Since it cannot be predicted with certainty beforehand which woman is going to develop PPH after delivery, all standard guidelines, both internationally (WHO) and in India (GOI) recommend that women should get a shot of Oxytocin immediately after the birth of the baby in order to prevent PPH.
  • The hormone stimulates the uterine muscles to contract, so labor begins.
  • It also increases the production of prostaglandins, which move labor along and increases the contractions even more. 
  • Because of this effect, synthetic oxytocin (pitocin) is sometimes used to induce a woman to start labor if she cannot start naturally, or it can be given to make contractions stronger if a woman’s labor is slowing.
  • Once the baby is born, oxytocin promotes lactation in the mother. 
  • It also helps with male reproduction. 

 

Ill-uses of Oxytocin:

  • The use of oxytocin as a medication can result in excessive contraction of the uterus that can risk the health of the baby.
  • Common side effects in the mother include nausea and a slow heart rate.
  • Serious side effects include rupture of the uterus and with excessive dose, water intoxication. 
  • However, the hormone is also used controversially in milch cattle to enhance milk production.
  • Most of the veterinary use comes from illegal import of oxytocin from neighbouring countries. 
  • This, in turn, has adverse effects on the health of cattle as well as humans who consume the milk. 
  • Hence, in order to curb the misuse of oxytocin in milch animals, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare made it compulsory for drug firms in 2001 to pack oxytocin in single unit blister packs.

 

Recent executive and judicial pronouncements on Oxytocin:

Oxytocin is listed as a prescription-drug in Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It can only be sold with prescriptions from registered medical practitioners and records need to be maintained for at least three years. The advertisement of Schedule H drugs is also prohibited. The drug is also covered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which prohibits using oxytocin to extract milk from milch animals.

Following the court’s observations, the Union government has also regulated and restricted oxytocin supply to hospitals.   

 

Himachal Pradesh High Court:

In March 2016, the Himachal Pradesh High Court observed that oxytocin was being manufactured on a large scale clandestinely and being sold, leading to its misuse. The court recommended that manufacture of the hormone should be done only by public sector companies. 

 

Delhi High court judgement:

The Delhi High Court bench pronounced on December 14, 2018, its final order on Oxytocin, quashing the central government notification that had banned the manufacture and sale by private manufacturers of Oxytocin. The ban also covered ampoules for domestic use and restricted manufacture to only the public sector undertaking (PSU), Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (KAPL). 

 

SC judgement:

A two-judge bench of Supreme Court on August 2019 referred the matter to a larger bench, with a set of questions to decide on whether it would be in the public interest to restrict the manufacture of life-saving drug Oxytocin for domestic use to a single public sector undertaking. The bench directed the Apex Court’s registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice of India for necessary directions.

 

Some of the questions raised by the bench include:

  • Whether a drug included in the NLEM under Schedule 1 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013, notified under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 would be subject to the provisions of Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940?
  • Whether the impugned notification has resulted in creating a monopoly in favour of public sector companies, to the complete exclusion of private sector companies, and if so, whether it would be protected by Article 19(6)(ii) read with Article 14 of the Constitution?
  • Whether it would be in the public interest to restrict the manufacture of a lifesaving drug for domestic use, to a single public sector undertaking, to the complete exclusion of the private sector companies, particularly in view of the high maternal mortality rates in the country?
  • Whether the exercise of power by the Central Government under Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 is legislative or executive in nature?
  • The case came up before the Supreme Court after the Central government challenged the Delhi High Court’s verdict of December 2018 that quashed the government’s decision to ban private manufacturers from making and selling Oxytocin, calling it unreasonable and arbitrary.

 

Sample Question:

Oxytocin during childbirth particularly acts on

a) cardiac muscles
b) skeletal muscles
c) smooth muscles
d) circular muscles

Answer: c)

 


Info-graphic Summary


Prelims Current Affairs - Info graphics 1- 8th Sep 2019

 

Prelims Current Affairs - Info graphics 2 - 8th Sep 2019

 

Prelims Current Affairs -Info graphics 3 - 8th Sep 2019