Prelims Booster

8th April – Prelims Booster


MPLADS suspended; PM, MPs to take 30% salary cut

The Union Cabinet has approved a 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament and a two-year suspension of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight COVID-19.

Details –

Apart from all the MPs, the President and Vice-President of India, as well as all Governors, had decided of their own volition to take a 30% salary cut. All the amount saved would go to the Consolidated Fund of India.

About MPLADS –

  • The Local Area Development Scheme known as MPLADS is a government scheme launched on 23rd December 1993.
  • This central sector scheme was developed as an initiative to enable the parliament members to recommend developmental work in their constituencies based on locally felt needs. These developmental works mainly focused on the areas of national priorities such as drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads, etc.
  • It is a government-funded scheme where the annual fund provided to each MP constituency is Rs. 5 crores.
  • The initial assistance under the MPLAD scheme was Rs. 5 lakh / MP. From 1998-99 onwards, this amount has been increased to Rs. 2 crore / MP and the amount currently available under this scheme has been increased to Rs. 5 crore rupees.
  • Recommendation by the MPs should be done annually with works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population. 
  • A sum of Rs. 75 lakhs is provided for building assets by trusts and societies as per the scheme guidelines to encourage the trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people.
  • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election. Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  • This scheme is now administered by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation but was initially administered by the Ministry of Rural Development.

Ionospheric based monitoring of large earthquakes

Scientists of Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology have extensively studied the signatures of recent large earthquakes into the ionosphere with an ambitious aim to derive the seismic source characteristics from the ionosphere.

Background –

  • In general, the Earth crust uplift during any earthquake produces compressional (i.e. pressure) waves in the overlying atmosphere. These waves propagate upward in the region of exponentially decreasing atmospheric neutral density, and thus, its amplitudes increase with atmospheric heights.
  • On arrival at ionospheric heights, the waves redistribute ionospheric electron density and produce electron density perturbations known as co-seismic ionospheric perturbations (CIP).
  • The thrust earthquakes induce significant crustal uplift, while the strike-slip event mostly deforms the crust horizontally. Various ionospheric sounding techniques can be used to study the CIP characteristics.
  • However, the TEC derived from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) gives large spatial and temporal coverage over seismic source region.

Details –

  • The spatial distribution of near field co-seismic ionospheric perturbations (CIP) associated with this event could reflect well the ground deformation pattern evolved around the epicentre.
  • These CIP were derived using the Global Positioning System (GPS) measured Total Electron Content (TEC).
  • The CIP distribution was estimated at ionospheric piercing point (IPP) altitude.
  • By investigating the response of ionosphere to recent major earthquake events, the scientists at IIG have tried to derive the earthquake source parameters using seismic induced ionospheric perturbations by taking into consideration the non-tectonic forcing mechanisms.

Bhilwara model of virus containment

With the number of cases of COVID-19 increasing in India, the Government officials say now they are mulling sealing off these places on the lines of the containment done in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district, which had emerged a hotspot for COVID-19 cases.

What is the Bhilwara model?

  • Bhilwara district was among the most-affected places in India during the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The measures taken by the Rajasthan government include imposing a curfew in the district which also barred essential services, extensive screening and house-to-house surveys to check for possible cases, and detailed contact tracing of each positive case so as to create a dossier on everybody they met ever since they got infected.
  • The “Bhilwara model” of tackling COVID-19 cases involves, simply, “ruthless containment”.
  • Intense contact tracing was also carried out of those patients who tested positive, with the Health Department preparing detailed charts of all the people whom they had met since being infected.
  • The state Health Department also took the help of technology, using an app to monitor the conditions of those under home quarantine on a daily basis along with keeping a tab on them through geographical information system (GIS).
  • The administration backed up the surveys by imposing a total lockdown on the district, with the local police ensuring strict implementation of the curfew.
  • The patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Tamiflu and HIV drugs and by April 3, 17 people (out of 27 infected) were declared recovered.

Cytokine Storms

Evidence is emerging that a subset of the infected patients develop severe COVID-19 because of an overreaction of their immune systems, which triggers what is known as a “cytokine storm syndrome” (CSS).

How immunity repairs human body?

  • Generally, the immune systems in our bodies protect us from bacteria, viruses, and parasites by removing them from our systems. The immune system gets activated by things that the body does not recognise as its own. These things are called antigens, and include bacteria, fungi and viruses.
  • Inflammation has an important protective function. The release of inflammatory mediators increases the blood flow to the area, which allows larger numbers of immune system cells to be carried to the injured tissue, thereby aiding the repairing process.
  • However, if this inflammatory response is not regulated, very dangerous consequences can follow. This is when a ‘cytokine storm’ can be triggered. The damage to the surrounding cells can be catastrophic, leading to sepsis and potentially, death.

What is cytokine storm?

  • Cytokines are signalling proteins that are released by cells at local high concentrations — a cytokine storm or CSS is characterised by the overproduction of immune cells and the cytokines themselves because of a dysregulation in the process.
  • A severe immune reaction, leading to the secretion of too many cytokines in the bloodstream, can be harmful since an excess of immune cells can attack healthy tissue as well.
  • In the case of any flu infection, a cytokine storm is associated with a surge of activated immune cells into the lungs, which, instead of fighting off the antigen, leads to lung inflammation and fluid build-up, and respiratory distress.

Artemis Programme

NASA has unveiled a plan for Artemis ‘base camp’ on the moon beyond 2024.

What is Artemis Base Camp?

  • Artemis Base Camp is meant to be a long-term foothold for lunar exploration, perhaps in Shackleton Crater at the moon’s south pole.
  • The Camp itself would be a lunar foundation surface habitat that could host four astronauts at the south pole for visits of perhaps a week.
  • In the long term, the facility would also require infrastructure for power, waste disposal and communications, as well as radiation shielding and a landing pad.
  • The base could also be a site for testing new techniques for dealing with pesky lunar dust and the long, cold lunar nights, turning local materials into resources like water, and developing new power and construction technologies.
  • With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. 

What is ‘Artemis’?

Artemis– Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. It is NASA’s next mission to the Moon. Objective: To measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.

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