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Prelims Booster

9th October – Prelims Booster

Air Force Day

The Indian Air Force has celebrated the 88th Air Force Day on October 8.

About ‘Air Force Day’ –

  • October 8 is celebrated as the Air Force Day because on this day, the Air Force in India was officially raised in 1932 as the supporting force of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom.
  • The first operational squadron came into being in April 1933. After participation in World War II, the Air Force in India came to be called the Royal Indian Air Force in the mid 1940s.
  • In 1950, after the republic came into being it became the Indian Air Force. From six officers and 19 Hawai Sepoys back in 1933, the Air Force now is the fourth largest in the world.
  • For several decades until 2005-06, the Air Force Day used to be marked by the main event, parade and flypast at Palam. But due to the increasing air traffic issues, it was shifted to Hindon Air Force Base in Ghaziabad which is home to two squadrons of transport aircraft and a helicopter unit among other establishments.
  • The flypasts and displays on the occasion have traditionally showcased the in service aircraft and systems of the Air Force.

Pusa Decomposer

The remote-sensing data from the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) shows a five-fold increase in the number of farm fires in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh during this year’s stubble burning season as compared to 2019.

The burning of paddy stubble left in the fields after harvest has been a cause of concern for the past several years as it contributes to air pollution in the northern Gangetic plains and its already polluted cities like Delhi.

What is the ‘Pusa Decomposer’?

  • It is essentially a fungi-based liquid solution that can soften hard stubble to the extent that it can be easily mixed with soil in the field to act as compost.
  • This would then rule out the need to burn the stubble, and also help in retaining the essential microbes and nutrients in soil that are otherwise damaged when the residue is burned.

How is the decomposer to be used by the farmers?

  • There are seven strains of fungi that IARI has identified after research which help in rapid breakdown of hard stubble.
  • These seven strains of fungi are packed into four capsules, which cost about Rs 20 per pack of four. But there is a process for developing the liquid solution from these capsules which can take about four to five days.
  • It starts with boiling 25 litres of water mixed with 150 grams of jaggery, which scientists say has properties that help in multiplication of fungi.
  • After this mix has cooled, 50 grams of besan (or gram flour) is added to it along with four ‘Pusa Decomposer’ capsules.
  • This solution is then covered with a thin piece of cloth and left in a dark room for four days. On the fourth day, a thick growth of fungi will be seen on top of the solution. This has to be mixed well, and thereafter the solution is ready for use.
  • A 25-litre solution is advisable for use in one hectare of land after being mixed with 500 litres of water. It can be sprayed over the field and left to do its work.

Right to protest

The Supreme Court has found the indefinite “occupation” of a public road by the Shaheen Bagh protesters unacceptable. The court said the protest, considered an iconic dissent mounted by mothers, children and senior citizens of Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, became inconvenient to commuters.

What did the court say?

  • The 13-page judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against a law but made it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely.
  • Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters,” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who authored the verdict for a three-judge Bench, observed.
  • The court suggested that the outcry may have even gone out of hand for the women protesters. It referred to reports about how women were ensconced inside a tent while a “huge periphery” of “male protesters, volunteers and bystanders”, who wanted the blockade to continue, milled around.

Peculiar observations by the Hon’ble Supreme Court –

  • The court noted that Shaheen Bagh seemed typical of the many digitally-fuelled “leaderless” events of dissent seen in modern times. Technology and social media could both empower and weaken mass movements.
  • The ability to scale up quickly, for example, using digital infrastructure has empowered movements to embrace their often-leaderless aspirations and evade the usual restrictions of censorship. However, the flip side is that social media channels are often fraught with danger and can lead to the creation of highly polarised environments, which often see parallel conversations running with no constructive outcome evident,” Justice Kaul ruminated.
  • The seeds of protest and dissent were sown deep during the Freedom struggle. But dissent against the colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-ruled democracy, Justice Kaul reasoned.
  • In a democracy, the rights of free speech and peaceful protest were indeed “treasured”. They were to be encouraged and respected, the court said. But these rights were also subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and public order. Police regulations also weighed in. Fundamental rights do not live in isolation. The right of the protester has to be balanced with the right of the commuter. They have to co-exist in mutual respect.”

Observation on administration –

The court held it was entirely the responsibility of the administration to prevent encroachments in public spaces. They should do so without waiting for courts to pass suitable orders. “The courts are not meant to give shoulder to the administration to fire their guns from,” Justice Kaul observed.

Noble Prize in Chemistry

Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer Doudna of the US won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for the gene-editing technique known as the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA snipping “scissors”, the first time a Nobel science prize has gone to a women-only team.

What is CRISPR Cas-9 technology?

  • The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • CRISPR technology is basically a gene-editing technology that can be used for the purpose of altering genetic expression or changing the genome of an organism.
  • The technology can be used for targeting specific stretches of an entire genetic code or editing the DNA at particular locations.
  • CRISPR technology allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
  • Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.

How it works?

  • CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.
  • The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or NOTES “edited”, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand. A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself.
  • Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.

Applications –

  • Using the tool, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision.
  • The CRISPR-Cas9 tool has already contributed to significant gains in crop resilience, altering their genetic code to better withstand drought and pests.
  • The technology has also led to innovative cancer treatments, and many experts hope it could one day make inherited diseases curable through gene manipulation.

Ethical concerns –

There are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest. In 2018 in China, scientist He Jiankui caused an international scandal when he used CRISPR to create what he called the first gene-edited humans.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report

Global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 20 years because of the disruption caused by COVID-19, exacerbating the impact of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing down poverty reduction, according to the World Bank’s ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report’.

Findings of the report –

  • The pandemic may push another 88 million to 115 million into extreme poverty or having to live on less than $1.50 per day, resulting in a total of 150 million such individuals.
  • Some 9.1% to 9.4% of the world will be affected by extreme poverty in 2020, compared to 7.9% in the counterfactual scenario where the pandemic had not raged across the world.
  • Many of the newly poor individuals will be from countries that already have high poverty rates while many in middle income countries (MICs) will slip below the poverty line, as per the report. Some 82% of the total will be in MICs.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, with 27-40 million new poor, and South Asia, with 49-57 million new poor, will be badly hit as per the Bank’s projections.
  • The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4% of the world’s population to fall into extreme poverty.

MCQs

1. ’Poverty and Shared Prosperity’ Report is released by the –

  1. World Economic Forum
  2. World Bank
  3. United Nations Development Programme
  4. Amnesty International

Answer – B

Explanation – Global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 20 years because of the disruption caused by COVID-19, exacerbating the impact of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing down poverty reduction, according to the World Bank’s ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report’.

2. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘CRISPR Cas-9 technology’?

  1. It is a gene-editing technology which can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision.
  2. It helps in generating crop resilience, altering their genetic code to better withstand droughts and pests.
  3. It has also helped in innovative cancer treatments and it may one day help in curing inherited diseases through gene manipulation.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories. CRISPR technology is basically a gene-editing technology that can be used for the purpose of altering genetic expression or changing the genome of an organism. The technology can be used for targeting specific stretches of an entire genetic code or editing the DNA at particular locations. CRISPR technology allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. Using the tool, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. The CRISPR-Cas9 tool has already contributed to significant gains in crop resilience, altering their genetic code to better withstand drought and pests. The technology has also led to innovative cancer treatments, and many experts hope it could one day make inherited diseases curable through gene manipulation.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Pusa Decomposer’?

  1. It is a bacteria that can soften hard stubble to the extent that it can be easily mixed with the soil in the field to act as compost.
  2. It helps in retaining the essential microbes and nutrients of the soil which are otherwise damaged when the stubble residue is burned.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – B

Explanation – It is essentially a fungi-based liquid solution that can soften hard stubble to the extent that it can be easily mixed with soil in the field to act as compost. This would then rule out the need to burn the stubble, and also help in retaining the essential microbes and nutrients in soil that are otherwise damaged when the residue is burned.

4. The ‘Air Force Day’ is celebrated annually to mark the –

  1. Victory of Indian Air Force in capturing the Siachen glacier in the year 1984 from Pakistan
  2. Separation of the Indian Air Force from the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom in 1944
  3. Establishment of the Indian Air Force in the year 1914.
  4. None of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – October 8 is celebrated as the Air Force Day because on this day, the Air Force in India was officially raised in 1932 as the supporting force of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom. The first operational squadron came into being in April 1933. After participation in World War II, the Air Force in India came to be called the Royal Indian Air Force in the mid 1940s. In 1950, after the republic came into being it became the Indian Air Force. From six officers and 19 Hawai Sepoys back in 1933, the Air Force now is the fourth largest in the world.

5. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘CRISPR Cas-9 technology’?

  1. The technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.
  2. The genetic codes that need to be changed are removed using the Cas9 protein to be later repaired artificially by the desired sequence of genetic codes to bind with the broken DNA strand.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – A

Explanation – CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information. The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or NOTES “edited”, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand. A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself. Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.

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