Prelims Booster

16th May – Prelims Booster

Commonwealth of Nations

Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare participated in the 32nd Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Meeting through Video Conference. The theme of the meeting was – Delivering a co-ordinated Commonwealth COVID-19 response.

Commonwealth of Nations –

  • The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of independent sovereign states, most of which are former colonies once governed by the United Kingdom as part of the British Empire.
  • It was once known as the British Commonwealth (or British Commonwealth of Nations), and many still call it by that name, either for historical reasons or to distinguish it from the many other commonwealths around the world.
  • The Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II, is the Head of the Commonwealth; this title, however, does not imply any political power over member nations.
  • The Commonwealth is primarily an organisation in which countries with diverse economic backgrounds have an opportunity for close and equal interaction.
  • The primary activities of the Commonwealth are designed to create an atmosphere of economic cooperation between member nations, as well as the promotion of democracy and good governance in them.
  • The Commonwealth is not a political union of any sort, and does not allow the United Kingdom to exercise any power over the affairs of the organisation’s other members.
  • While some nations of the Commonwealth, known as Commonwealth Realms, recognise the British Monarch as their head of state (and thus in theory still have some limited political ties to London), the majority do not.

Background –

  • The Commonwealth is the successor of the British Empire; in 1884, while visiting Adelaide, South Australia, Lord Rosebery had described the changing British Empire, as its former colonies became more independent, as a “Commonwealth of Nations”.
  • The formal organisation of the Commonwealth has its origins in the Imperial Conferences of the late 1920s (conferences of British and colonial prime ministers had occurred periodically since 1887), where the independence of the self-governing colonies and especially of dominions was recognised, particularly in the Balfour Declaration at the Imperial Conference in 1926, when the United Kingdom and its dominions agreed they were “equal in status and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations”.
  • This relationship was eventually formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931.

COBAS 6800

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare has visited the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to dedicate the COBAS 6800 testing machine to the nation.

Details –

  • This is the first such testing machine that has been procured by the Government for testing of COVID-19 cases and is installed at the National Centre for Disease Control.
  • NCDC has been now equipped with the COBAS 6800, a fully automated, high end machine for performing real time PCR testing COVID-19 in the service of nation.

About COBAS 6800 –

  • COBAS 6800 will provide quality, high-volume testing with a high throughput of test around 1200 samples in 24 hours. It will largely increase the testing capacity with reduction in pendency.
  • COBAS 6800 is a sophisticated machine enabled with robotics that minimises the chance of contamination as well as the risk of infection to the health care workers since it can be operated remotely with limited human intervention.
  • As the machine requires a minimum BSL2+ containment level for testing, it cannot be placed at just any facility.
  • COBAS 6800 can also detect other pathogens like Viral Hepatitis B & C, HIV, MTb (both rifampicin and isoniazide resistance), Papilloma, CMV, Chlamydia, Neiserreia etc.

Jal Jeevan Mission

Gujarat is all set to implement sensor-based service delivery monitoring system in rural drinking water sector under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

Details –

The pilot is already underway in two districts of the state so as to monitor the functionality of water supply i.e. potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality being provided to every rural household on regularly on long-term basis.

About Jal Jeevan Mission –

  • The JJM was announced by the Prime Minister in 2019 which aims to provide tap water connections to 18 Crore rural households of the country by the year 2024.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.
  • It aims at creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, would be undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
  • Funding Pattern: The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories (Jal Jeevan Mission is a central sector scheme).
  • This ambitious scheme is benefitting all the states as the States/ UTs are working hard to ensure every rural household gets water tap connection.
  • For the implementation of JJM, following institutional arrangement has been proposed – National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM) at the Central level, State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) at the State level, District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) at the District level, Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC) at Village level.

Parkinson’s Disease

Recently, scientists from IIT (ISM) Dhanbad and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology,Kolkata, teamed up to find a solution to the mechanism of Parkinson’s disease under which the protein forms the aggregations which results in the death of neuronal cells observed in Parkinson’s disease.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

  • Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that is caused by degeneration of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra, which controls movement.
  • These nerve cells die or become impaired, losing the ability to produce an important chemical called dopamine. Studies have shown that symptoms of Parkinson’s develop in patients with an 80 percent or greater loss of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra.
  • Normally, dopamine operates in a delicate balance with other neurotransmitters to help coordinate the millions of nerve and muscle cells involved in movement.
  • Without enough dopamine, this balance is disrupted, resulting in tremor (trembling in the hands, arms, legs and jaw); rigidity (stiffness of the limbs); slowness of movement; and impaired balance and coordination – the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s.
  • The cause of Parkinson’s essentially remains unknown. However, theories involving oxidative damage, environmental toxins, genetic factors and accelerated ageing have been discussed as potential causes for the disease.

What is the issue?

  • Many researchers from across the world are studying the mechanism of how the protein forms the aggregates, and how the aggregation results in the death of neuronal cells observed in Parkinson’s disease. They believe that once these mysteries are uncovered, it could help develop a drug for the disease, which is badly needed and has been long overdue.
  • Unfortunately, the aggregation of ASyn is not something that is easy to understand. The end point of the aggregation is the formation of small slender fibres or `fibrils’, in which the protein has a structure type, what is called a cross beta fold. The fibrils are well studied thanks to a dye, Thioflavin T, which binds to the cross-beta structure and emits fluorescence. Scientists have solved the three-dimensional structures of the fibrils and have also learnt how to develop drugs to target them. However, these drugs do not work in the clinical trials.
  • These failures have made the scientists to think that perhaps they need to understand not only the fibrils but also the variety of intermediates that form early in the aggregation process. Unfortunately, the structure of these intermediates could not be solved yet and hence it is difficult to target them using a drug delivery technique. Also, scientists have not been able to come up with a way by which a single technique could monitor both the early intermediate species and the fibrils, which form at the end.

Observations –

  • The team found that the Z-scan method could help in monitoring both the early and late stages of the aggregation of ASyn nicely.
  • They found that the protein possesses nonlinearity starting from its monomeric state to the fibrillar structure.
  • They made three particularly interesting observations: first, the strength of nonlinearity is relatively stronger in the case of fibrils when compared to other conformations of the protein, and second, each of the different conformers populated in the different stages of the aggregation landscape seems to have a specific nonlinear property that could be targeted. The third and the most important result was a switch in the sign of non linearity when the late oligomers form at around 24 hours.
  • The team is excited about this observation because these late oligomers are supposed to be the most toxic species of ASyn and a method – which monitors these conveniently – can be really useful for both pharmaceutical and clinical research.


Department of Higher Education has developed an e-Governance platform, SAMARTH (Enterprises Resource Planning) ERP, under the National Mission of Education in Information and Communication Technology Scheme (NMEICT).

What is SAMARTH?

  • ERP, SAMARTH, is an Open Standard Open Source Architecture, Secure, Scalable and Evolutionary Process Automation Engine for Universities and Higher Educational Institutions.
  • It caters to faculty, students and staff at a University/Higher Educational Institutions.
  • Now, the ERP, SAMARTH, has been implemented at National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, a participating unit under the World Bank supported Technical Education Quality Improvement Program (TEQIP).
  • The objective of this initiative is to automate the processes of the Institute.

What is NMEICT?

  • The National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) has been envisaged as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to leverage the potential of ICT, in teaching and learning process for the benefit of all the learners in Higher Education Institutions in any time any where mode.
  • This was expected to be a major intervention in enhancing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher Education by 5 percentage points during the XI Five Year Plan period.
  • The three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality could be served well by providing connectivity to all colleges and universities, providing low cost and affordable access-cum-computing devices to students and teachers and providing high quality e-content free of cost to all learners in the country.
  • NMEICT encompasses all the three elements. The Mission has two major components – providing connectivity, along with provision for access devices, to institutions and learners, and Content generation.
  • It seeks to bridge the digital divide, i.e. the gap in the skills to use computing devices for the purpose of teaching and learning among urban and rural teachers/learners in Higher Education domain.

Daily MCQs

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