Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- PC Import Curbs
- TB and nutritional Support
- Amazon Rain Forest
- MRI Scanner
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Import Curbs on Computers
Context: The government restricted the import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers, ultra-small form factor computers and servers.
What does the order state?
- Import of all items categorised under the Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN) 8471, that is, automated data processing machines and units, would be restricted from November 1. A valid licence would be required to import them for sale to consumers.
What are the exemptions?
- Exemption to licensing requirements would be extended in four circumstances.
- First, purchasing a single unit of the mentioned products on an e-commerce website that are being brought into the country through post or courier. It would only draw relevant duties. This also applies to (reimport of) products meant for repair and return.
- Permission has been given to import up to 20 such items in a consignment for purposes entailing research and development, testing, benchmarking and evaluation, repair and re-export or product development purposes. Following their intended use, the products would either have to be destroyed beyond use or re-exported.
- Finally, items may be imported if they serve as an essential part of an entity’s capital good.
What is the purpose of the move?
- The key objective is to reduce the dependence on imports, ensure the country has access to trusted hardware and systems and increase domestic manufacturing of products.
- On domestic manufacturing, the government had introduced the production-linked incentive (PLI) Scheme 2.0 for IT hardware this year.
Is domestic production growing?
- Domestic production of electronic goods, as per industry estimates, increased to $87.1 billion in 2021-22 from $49 billion in 2016-17 — registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%. Further, as per figures from the Commerce Ministry, the country’s imports with respect to the products in discussion stood at approximately $10.1 billion in FY 2022-23, about 13% lower on a year-over-year basis.
What are the concerns?
- Concerns mostly revolve around accessibility to stocks and a potential impact on prices. Global companies operating in India have sought that the implementation be deferred by 9-12 months to enable them time to ramp up domestic production and understand the licensing process.
2 . TB and Nutrition support
Context: According to recent reports in The Lancet and The Lancet Global Health, nutritional support has helped prevent both tuberculosis (TB) among household contacts and mortality among TB patients in a trial in Jharkhand.
- In 2017, the World Health Organization had estimated that undernutrition is responsible for twice the number of TB cases than HIV globally.
- Any attempt to end/eliminate TB in India by 2025 will become possible only if undernutrition among people is addressed. As per conservative estimates, 40% of new TB cases annually in India are due to undernutrition.
About the Trial
- A large field-based trial was undertaken between August 2019 and August 2022 in four districts of Jharkhand by a team led by Dr. Anurag Bhargava and Dr. Madhavi Bhargava from the Yenepoya Medical College, Mangaluru in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) and the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis-Indian Council of Medical Research (NIRT-ICMR).
- The RATIONS (Reducing Activation of Tuberculosis by Improvement of Nutritional Status) trial enrolled 2,800 people with pulmonary TB disease and 10,345 household contacts of TB patients. While all the TB patients received nutritional support, household contacts were randomly assigned to receive either nutritional support or usual diet alone. There were 5,621 household contacts in the intervention arm and 4,724 contacts in the control group.
What are the key Findings of the Trial?
- There were 108 (4%) deaths among TB patients across all body weights, mortality among those under 35 kg body weight (severely underweight) was 7%.
- Incidence of TB deaths reduced by 12% with a one-unit increase in BMI and by 23% for a two-unit increase in BMI. With the nutritional support, at six months, the proportion of those with normal BMI increased from 16.5% to 43.5%.
- In general, extreme undernutrition — BMI less than 13 in men and BMI less than 11 in women — can often be fatal. However, in the current trial, more than 85% of such TB patients survived with nutritional support. Over 80% of TB patients had a BMI less than 18.5 and nearly 49% had a BMI less than 16 (severely underweight). There was 5% weight gain in the first two months which was associated with 60% lower risk of TB mortality.
- As per a 2022 study undertaken in India, the absence of weight gain during treatment in patients with severe undernutrition was associated with a five-fold higher death rate.
- Among the household contacts, nutritional support led to a 39%-48% reduction in TB disease in the intervention group compared with the control arm.
- The 39%-48% reduction in TB disease in the household contact intervention arm was after adjusting for confounding factors such as TB preventive treatment to children below five years, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol use.
What was the nutritional support provided?
- Each adult household contact in the intervention arm received 5 kg of rice, 1.5 kg of split pigeon peas (tur dal), and micronutrient pills every month for six months. Each child (below 10 years) household contact received 50% of the adult nutrition support. Those in the control arm did not get any nutritional supplementation.
- For TB patients, monthly nutritional support included 5 kg of rice, 1.5 kg of milk powder, 3 kg of roasted chickpea flour, 500 ml of oil, and micronutrient pills for a period of six months for people with drug-susceptible TB, and 12 months for people with MDR-TB.
What effect does undernutrition have?
- Many new cases of TB are attributable to five risk factors — undernourishment, HIV infection, alcohol use disorders, smoking (especially among men) and diabetes, says the WHO Global TB report 2022.
- In TB-endemic countries such as India, undernutrition is the most widely prevalent risk factor, accounting for the “highest population attributable risk for TB in India”. It is also responsible for increased TB disease severity, higher mortality and poor treatment outcomes.
- Undernutrition is an important risk factor for progression of latent TB infection to TB disease. It increases the risk of drug toxicity, TB relapse and mortality.
- Undernourished patients also tend to have poor bioavailability of drugs such as rifampicin, leading to treatment failure and development of multidrug resistance.
How do schemes like Nikshay Poshan Yojana and Nikshay Mitra help?
- Nikshay Poshan Yojana is a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for nutritional support to TB patients. It was launched in 2018. All notified TB cases are provided with a financial incentive of ₹500 per month.
- Nikshay Mitra can be individuals, NGOs, political parties, corporates, institutions, elected representatives etc and they can support TB patients from a period of 6 months up to 3 years for their nutritional requirements and medicines.
- According to the 2022 India TB report, seven million TB patients have benefited between 2018 and 2022, and ₹2,089 crore has been disbursed during this period. Also, as of March 9, 2023, 9.55 lakh consented TB patients across India adopted by Nikshay Mitras will receive nutritional support.
3 . Amazon rain forest
Context: Executive leaders and Ministers from Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French Guiana met with a Brazilian delegation — all of whom are part of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) — in Belem do Para, Brazil. The outcome of this meeting was the “Belem declaration”, which called for cooperation between the countries to ensure the survival of the humongous Amazon rainforest, that constitutes a significant portion of these countries, by conserving its biodiversity and natural resources.
About The Amazon Rain Forest
- The Amazon rainforest or Amazonia constitutes close to 1.3% of the planet’s surface and 4.1% of the earth’s land surface, but as a biome, the Amazon is host to 10% of the world’s wildlife species and some more, as we are still discovering new species in this epic mass of life in Latin America. Some of the species found in the Amazon are not found anywhere else.
- The Amazon itself is the largest river by volume of water in the world, draining from Iquitos in Peru, across Brazil and discharging into the Atlantic Ocean.
- Amazonia and its massive Amazon River basin straddles the countries party to the ACTO — close to 60% of it is in Brazil, 13% is in Peru, 8% in Bolivia, 7% and 6% respectively in Colombia and Venezuela, and nearly 3% each in Guyana and Suriname and around 1% in French Guiana and Ecuador
- It is also a heterogeneous ecosystem with tall, canopied rainforest occupying 50% of the region besides mountainous grasslands, mangrove forests, dry semi deciduous forests, bamboo forests, floodplains, etc.
- Tropical rainforests are the “lungs of the earth”; they draw in the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and breathe out oxygen. They also sustain large, complex ecosystems that ‘fix’ a considerable amount of carbon in biomass.
- In all, by storing around 76 billion tonnes of carbon, the Amazon rainforest helps stabilise the world’s climate. The Amazon also generates its own rainfall by recycling moisture from air from the Atlantic Ocean. Moisture from the Amazon is responsible for rainfall for many parts of Latin America, contributing to agriculture, storage of water in urban reservoirs as well.
- Deforestation– Rapid deforestation in recent years has contributed to the ecosystem teetering on the brink of disaster by affecting the resilience of the Amazon rainforest. According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the total deforestation of the Amazon rainforest from August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2021 alone amounted to 34,018 sq. km, and this does not include losses due to natural forest fires. This marked a 52% increase compared to the previous three years.
- A paper in Nature pointed to the loss of resilience in more than three fourths of the Amazon rainforest since the early 2000s. It points out that this risks “dieback” of the forests with profound implications for biodiversity, carbon storage and climate change at a global scale.
- Scientists have long warned of a point of no return in the Amazon — more warming could result in an irreversible transition to a new form of ecosystem.
What are the consequences of rainforest destruction? –
- If 20% or 25% of the forest is destroyed, the forest will enter a process of Savannization and that would represent the death of the forest.
About ACTO Summit
- The leaders of eight South American nations that are home to the Amazon have met in the Brazilian city of Belem, with the task of agreeing to a list of unified environmental policies and measures to bolster regional cooperation and stop the destruction of the rainforest.
- The summit of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) adopted what host country Brazil called a “new and ambitious shared agenda” to save the rainforest, a crucial buffer against climate change that experts warn is being pushed to the brink of collapse.
- This road map asserted Indigenous rights and protections, while also agreeing to cooperate on water management, health, common negotiating positions at climate summits, and sustainable development.
- The declaration additionally established a science body to meet annually and produce authoritative reports on science related to the Amazon rainforest, akin to the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change.
- But the summit stopped short of environmentalists’ and Indigenous groups’ boldest demands, including for all member countries to adopt Brazil’s pledge to end illegal deforestation by 2030 and Colombia’s pledge to halt new oil exploration.
- It also did not fix a deadline on ending illegal gold mining, although leaders agreed to cooperate on the issue, and did not include shared commitments to zero deforestation by 2030.
Which countries are members of ACTO?
- Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela are members of the organisation.
4 . MRI scanner
Context: A new class of MRI scanners is designed to avoid reliance on liquid helium, and to rapidly cool the scanner’s magnets, the far cheaper and more abundant liquid nitrogen can be used.
Background of the issue
- Helium’s most common use is as a coolant in large superconducting magnets powering magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.
- The world has been battling a shortage of helium, the second-most abundant element in the universe but a rare commodity on earth.
- The only way to source helium is to extract it from natural gas reserves. Russia-Ukraine war has further squeezed liquid helium supply with ripple effects on diagnostic facilities around the world, including India.
- MRI, the definitive tool to provide three-dimensional images of tissues and the best bet for warning of nascent tumours, continues to be inaccessible to several Indians.
About MRI Scanners
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
- An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets.
- MRI does not involve X-rays or the use of ionizing radiation, which distinguishes it from computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. MRI is a medical application of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) which can also be used for imaging in other NMR applications, such as NMR spectroscopy.
- MRI is widely used in hospitals and clinics for medical diagnosis, staging and follow-up of disease. Compared to CT, MRI provides better contrast in images of soft tissues, e.g. in the brain or abdomen.
New MRI Scanner
- The first made-in-India MRI scanner, developed by the Bangalore-based Voxelgrids Innovations Private Ltd., is set to unveil its first clinically validated product in October at the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bengaluru.
- A new class of MRI scanners is designed to avoid reliance on liquid helium, and to rapidly cool the scanner’s magnets, the far cheaper and more abundant liquid nitrogen is used.
- Voxelgrids’ MRI scanners, which employ 1.5-Tesla magnets, will be “40% cheaper” than the new models in the market. The cost of scanning will be potentially cut by 30%.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) is a centrally sponsored programme, aims to work with 300-plus state universities and its affiliated colleges.
- Launched in 2013, the PM-USHA aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions. The central funding is based on norms and is outcome dependent.
- Funds flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories before reaching the identified institutions.
- Funding to states would be made on the basis of the critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would enlist each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.
- PM-USHA places greater emphasis on the improvement of the quality of teaching-learning processes in order to produce employable and competitive graduates, post-graduates and PhDs.
- Spread across two plan periods (XII and XIII), the programme focuses on state higher educational institutions and draws upon the best practices from colleges and universities across the nation.
- Metagenomics is the study of the structure and function of entire nucleotide sequences isolated and analyzed from all the organisms (typically microbes) in a bulk sample.
- Metagenomics is often used to study a specific community of microorganisms, such as those residing on human skin, in the soil or in a water sample.
- Centrifugal force, a fictitious force, peculiar to a particle moving on a circular path, that has the same magnitude and dimensions as the force that keeps the particle on its circular path (the centripetal force) but points in the opposite direction.
- Centrifugal force can be increased by increasing either the speed of rotation or the mass of the body or by decreasing the radius, which is the distance of the body from the centre of the curve.
- Increasing the mass or decreasing the radius increases the centrifugal force in direct or inverse proportion, respectively, but increasing the speed of rotation increases it in proportion to the square of the speed; that is, an increase in speed of 10 times, say from 10 to 100 revolutions per minute, increases the centrifugal force by a factor of 100.
- Centrifugal force is expressed as a multiple of g, the symbol for normal gravitational force (strictly speaking, the acceleration due to gravity). Centrifugal fields of more than 1,000,000,000g have been produced in the laboratory by devices called centrifuges.
Malayali Tribes Red Clay Munn veedu
- The Malaiyali tribe – malai meaning “hill” and yali meaning “people” – is strewn across Tamil Nadu’s hilly regions. The tribespeople were foragers who settled in the upper Nillavur region of Yelagiri and began cultivating its tabletop peak for food. Initially living in makeshift huts, they found a permanent solution in the red loam clay abundant in the hills and constructed simple one-room structures that measured 16 by 22 feet.
- Made of dry bamboo leaves, the thatched roof is waxed with cow dung to prevent it from leaking during the monsoon season. This covering tends to make the house appear deceivingly small from the outside, but it has enough space to house eight people and a paran (attic) that was used to store pots and other household items.
- A unique feature of the munn veedu (mud house) or andara kotai (storage facility) is that it stands on a stilt-like structure also made of teak wood. This holds the house two feet above the ground to keep rodents at bay and to prevent the house from flooding during torrential rains.
- The Bakhshali manuscript is an ancient Indian mathematical text written on birch bark that was found in 1881 in the village of Bakhshali, Mardan in Pakistan.
- It is perhaps “the oldest extant manuscript in Indian mathematic.
- The manuscript contains the earliest known Indian use of a zero symbol. It is written in a form of literary Sanskrit influenced by contemporary dialects.
- The Bakhshali manuscript is a handbook of rules and illustrative examples together with their solutions. It is devoted mainly to arithmetic and algebra, with just a few problems on geometry and mensuration. Only parts of it have been restored, so it cannot be certain about the balance between different topics.
About Guru Ravidas
- Guru Ravidas was a North Indian mystic poet-sant of the bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE. He was a poet-saint, social reformer and a spiritual figure.
- He belonged to an untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result however , the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.
- He is considered as the founder of 21st-century Ravidassia religion, by a group who previously were associated with Sikhism
- Ravidas’ devotional songs were included in the Sikh Scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib
- Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha.
Guru Ravidas Teachings
- Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity.
- The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani are the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas.
- His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharam based on his teachings.
- He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God. he said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.
- Flying fox is a genus of megabats which are among the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as fruit bats or flying foxes, among other colloquial names. They live in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, East Africa, and some oceanic islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are at least 60 extant species in the genus.
- Habitat – Flying foxes eat fruit and other plant matter, and occasionally consume insects as well. They locate resources with their keen sense of smell. Most, but not all, are nocturnal. They navigate with keen eyesight, as they cannot echolocate. They have long life spans and low reproductive outputs, with females of most species producing only one offspring per year.
- Their populations are vulnerable to threats such as overhunting, culling, and natural disasters.
- They are ecologically beneficial by assisting in the regeneration of forests via seed dispersal. They benefit ecosystems and human interests by pollinating plants.
- IUCN status- Least concern
- A keystone species is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance, a concept introduced in 1969 by the zoologist Robert T. Paine.
- Keystone species play a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and numbers of various other species in the community.
- Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.
- Some keystone species, such as the Elephant, wolf, Bees, Flying Fox, Beavers are also apex predators.