The scientists from Aryabhatta Research Institute have discovered a new galaxy that emits gamma rays. The galaxy has been categorised as Narrow Line Seyfert 1 (NLS1). However, it is unique and different from the other NLS1s discovered so far.
It is 31 billion light years away from the earth. The galaxy is located at a high redshift.
The galaxy was discovered when scientists tried to trace red shifted galaxies. The redshifted galaxies are those galaxies that emit longer wavelength. As the wavelength of light gets longer the light turns redder. This is termed as “redshifted” in astronomy.
The discovery was made when scientists were studying about 25,000 luminous Active Galactic Nuclei.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey was used during the study that discovered the galaxy.
The researchers used Subaru Telescope located in Hawaii, USA to conduct their study.
How is the newly discovered NLS1 different from the other NLS1?
The discovery of NLS1 has challenged the idea of how relativistic jets are formed. Relativistic Jets are ionised matter that travel at speed of light. They are associated with Quasars, pulsars, neutron stars. They are produced by Active Galactic Nuclei. These nuclei are powered by large black holes in giant elliptical galaxies. However, NLS1 discovered recently is a unique Active Galactic Nuclei that is powered by a black hole of low mass.
The NLS1s discovered so far that emitted gamma rays were at lower redshifts. This is the first gamma emitting NLS1 discovered to be at higher redshift.
The newly discovered gamma ray emitting NLS1 is 13.8 billion years old. It was formed when the universe was 4.7 billion years old.
The discovery has opened up a new study to find gamma ray emitting NLS1 galaxies.
The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan recently launched “Mission Aahaar Kranti”. The mission aims to spread the message of the importance of nutritionally balanced diet. It will also promote the importance of accessibility to local fruits and vegetables.
About the mission
The Mission is designed to address the major problem faced by India and the world, which is, “Hunger and Diseases in Abundance”.
India produces two times the amount of calories it consumes. Still, several people are malnourished in the country.
The mission is also co-launched by the Vijnana Bharti and Global Scientists and Technocrats Forum.
The motto of the mission is “Good Diet-Good Cognition”.
The mission will train the teachers. The teachers in turn will pass on the message to students. Through the students the mission aims to pass on the message to the families and societies at large.
Malnutrition in India
According to UNICEF, India is at the tenth spot among countries with highest number of underweight children. Also, the organisation says that India is at the seventeenth spot among countries with highest number of stunted children. Both the problems of stunting and underweight are caused by malnutrition.
Malnutrition is the major contributing factor to one-third child deaths in the country.
According to the recent National Family Health Survey, the percentage of stunted children in 2015-16 was 38.4%. The percentage of children wasted were 21%. Wasting is prevalent in Goa, Punjab, Karnataka, Sikkim, and Maharashtra.
More than half of Indian children are anaemic.
Apart from children, 23% of women and 20% of men in the country are malnourished.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US recently released the image of Mars to mark the 20th anniversary of Odyssey. The image depicted Dunes in Mars.
About the images
The set of images released were clicked on the Mars at 172.1 degrees east longitude and 80.3 degrees north latitude. The planet looked in electric blue in the image.
The title of the image was “Blue Dunes on the Red Planet”.
The image combines shots taken by the Mars Orbiter Odyssey in December 2002 and November 2004.
The image had two types of dunes. One set of dunes were bluish representing colder climates. The other set of dunes were yellowish in colour and represented warmer climates.
About the Dunes
Dune is a landform made by wind or water driven sand.
The Dunes captured were as big as the American state of Texas.
The THEMIS instrument on the Mars Odyssey captured the shots. THEMIS is Thermal Emission Imaging System. It had sent more than one million images since it began orbiting the planet.
Odyssey entered the Mars orbit in 2001.
Odyssey is the longest lasting spacecraft in Mars till date. It was launched on April 7, 2001. It arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001.
Odyssey detected large amounts of Hydrogen. It is a sign that ice should be lying within a metre of the surface of the planet.
Odyssey also discovered water ice near the surface of equatorial regions of the red planet.
Objectives of Odyssey
The main objectives of the mission were as follows:
To map the levels of elements across the entire Martian surface.
To determine how much hydrogen exists in shallow sub surfaces of the planet.
To provide information about the morphology of the surface of the planet.
To identify radiation induced risks to humans in the planet.
The Global Food Policy Report is published by the International Food Policy Research Institute. This year the institute has released the report based on the theme “Transforming Food Systems After COVID-19”.
Key Findings of the report: India
The lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 crisis closed schools and day care centres. This affected the availability of nutritious perishable food products. Several households shifted from expensive nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables towards cheaper staple foods.
The midday meal programme of India that covers 80% of primary school age children in the country was affected due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The school closures are likely to exacerbate nutrition and food insecurity in the country especially in girls and disadvantaged population.
50% of households in India reported that women spent more time in fetching firewood and water in comparison with the previous year.
Efforts of India to incorporate migrant workers into social protection programmes was a huge success.
Around 80 million hectares of land in India have been classified as commons. This included forest, water bodies, and pastures. The Commons provide source of livelihood for more than 350 million people in the country. They are dependent on these areas for their forest products and fodder.
The governments should use global events such as COP26, UNFSS (United Nations Food Systems Summit) and Nutrition for Growth Summit to put food system transformation rightly on the development agenda.
The resilience for all food systems should be increased.
The flexibility of social protection policies to protect the vulnerable population during the time of health crisis should be expanded.
Key Findings of the Report: World
Around 95 million people, mostly in Africa are living in extreme poverty.
Number of poor people living under poverty are to increase by 150 million as compared to the pre-pandemic levels.
Women accounted to 39% of employment globally. However, they incurred 54% of job losses during pandemic.
The Ministry of Finance recently released the tax collection figures for the financial year 2020-21. According to the ministry, the direct tax collections for the financial year 2020-21 are Rs 9.45 lakh crores.
Tax collections for the fiscal year 2020-21
The Direct Tax Collections include Personal Income Tax collections and Corporation Tax collections.
The Personal Income Tax collected for the year 2020-21 was Rs 4.88 lakh crores.
The Corporation Tax (or Corporate Tax) collected for the year 2020-21 was Rs 4.57 lakh crores.
Dross Collection of Direct Tax
The Gross Collection of Direct Tax for the year 2020-21 was Rs 12.06 crores. The gross collection of direct tax is the net amount before adjusting refunds. The other components of Gross Collection of Direct Tax are as follows:
Corporation Tax: Rs 6.31 lakh crores
Personal Income Tax: Rs 5.75 lakh crores
Advance Tax: Rs 4.95 lakh crores
Tax deducted at Source: Rs 5.45 lakh crores
Self-Assessment Tax: Rs 1.07 lakh crores
Regulator Assessment Tax: Rs 42,372 crores
Dividend Distribution Tax: Rs 13,237 crores
In 2020-21, the GoI refunded Rs 2.61 lakh crores. This is 42.1% higher than that of 2019-20. In 2019-20, the GoI refunded Rs 1.83 lakh crores.
Definitions of Taxes
Corporate Tax: It is the tax levied on profits of the companies.
Personal Income Tax: It is the tax levied on salaries, wages, and other types of income of a person.
Advance Tax: It is the income tax that should be paid in advance instead of lump sum payment at year end. The Advance Tax is also called earn Tax. It is the income tax a person must pay if his payable tax exceeds Rs 10,000. In such cases, the taxpayer pays in instalments.
Tax Deducted at Source (TDS): It is the tax deducted from the money paid at the time of making specified payments such as commission, rent, salary, professional fees, etc.
The Japanese Government recently approved a plan to release more than 1 million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In 2011, there occurred a nuclear disaster in the plant due an earthquake and tsunami. It was the most severe Nuclear accident that was classified as Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
What is the issue?
The release of the treated radioactive water could take several years to begin and will take decades to complete. Also, Japan is facing opposition from the anti-nuclear activists and fishing communities for the release of the water into the sea.
Is the release safe?
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the release of the water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant is similar to disposing wastewater from nuclear plants elsewhere in the world.
Where did such huge amount of radio active water come from?
To bring the damaged nuclear reactor under control a makeshift system of pumps and piping was used. Tonnes of water was injected into the damaged nuclear reactors to keep the melted Uranium rods cool. The water got contaminated as it contacted the fuel. The contaminated water has now piled up to 1.3 million tonnes.
What is the plan to release the water?
The Operator TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings) has planned to filter the contaminated water leaving only tritium. This is because, it is highly complicated and difficult to remove tritium from water. However, the filtered water is to be diluted till tritium levels fall below regulatory limits before dumping into the ocean.
Tritium is less harmful as compared to other radioactive wastes. It does not emit enough energy to penetrate human skin. However, it can cause cancer when ingested.
Remdesivir is an injectable anti-virus. It is injected to prevent replication of the virus. The Remdesivir was created in 2014. It was manufactured in large scale to treat Ebola. Later it was used to treat SARS and MERS. Recently, after the COVID-19 crisis, it has been repurposed for COVID-19 treatment.
What is the issue around Remdesivir in India?
The State Governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh have been complaining about shortage of Remdesivir. Following this, the Directorate of Foreign Trade operating under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued an order to prohibit the export of Remdesivir. Also, the export of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients used in the production of Remdesivir has been prohibited.
Why did the shortage occur?
The shortage of Remdesivir is increasing day by day mainly because of rising COVID-19 cases. It is also increasing due to manufacturing and supply issues. Madhya Pradesh complained that it has received only half of its requirement. Around 70% of the total production of Remdesivir in the country is diverted to Maharashtra.
How did the issue arise?
In December 2020, manufacturers were left with huge piles of Remdesivir. They expected increase in sales of the drug. However, the drop in COVID-19 cases in November and December 2020 reduced the demand of the drug. Some even destroyed expired stocks. Later the COVID-19 infections began rising exponentially after double mutant variety started spreading in the country. This began around February 2021. However, the manufacturing resumed only by the end of March 2021. This is mainly because Remdesivir requires twenty-five different raw materials in its production. The supply chain in India was not strong enough to collect all the raw materials in a short span of time.
The cycle from production to transportation of Remdesivir takes 20-25 days. Thus, the supply chain of the country must strengthened more to avoid similar crisis in the future.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have launched the construction of an international center for trade and economic cooperation called “Central Asia”. The Central Asia Trade center has been launched on the borders of the two countries.
About the center
The Center is to be constructed in an area of 400 hectares of land. It will have a capacity to accommodate 35,000 people and five thousand trucks. After completion, the center will become a large trade and industrial platform to implement joint projects of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
The center is located near the border check post of Gisht Kuprik.
After China and Russia, Kazakhstan is the third largest trade partner of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan holds one of the largest Uranium reserves in the world. In 2019, India and Uzbekistan signed a Nuclear Agreement. Under the agreement, Uzbekistan agreed to export 2,000 tonnes of Uranium to India.
Uzbekistan supports permanent membership of India in the United Nations Security Council.
The countries had set a bilateral trade target of 1 billion USD by 2020.
Central Asia is highly important to India as it serves as a land bridge between Asia and Europe. India is to use the Chabahar port as a gateway to access the Eurasian markets. Also, the development of International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) will help India increase its trade with Central Asia.
It is a multi-modal transportation that was established in 2000 in St Petersburg by India, Iran, and Russia. It mainly aims to promote transport of freight.
At the Maritime India Summit that was held in March 2021, India proposed to include Chabahar port in the INSTC project.
The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal recently launched the DGFT Trade Facilitation Mobile Application. DGFT is Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
Key Features of DGFT
The DGFT Trade Facilitation application provides the following features :
Real-time trade policy updates and event notifications.
It provides options to explore Export-Import policies and statistics
Virtual Assistance to trade related queries
It provides access to all the services provided by DGFT.
Raise and track help requests in real time.
The application will be available on both iOS and Android platforms.
DGFT is the government body that implements the foreign trade policy of India.
It promotes exports of India.
It operates under Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
It is headed by the Director-General. He or she is the head of Indian Trade Services.
DGFT was known as the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports till 1991.
DGFT was formed as a part of Economic Reforms in 1991 when the Liberalisation, Globalisation and Privatisation policies began in India.
It provides licenses to the import and export businesses in India.
It holds complete data about the importers and exporters in the country.
It provides EIC number. EIC is Exporter Importer Code. It is a ten-digit number that is needed for all people conducting import or export business in the country.
It regulates and permits the transit of goods between India and its neighbours according to the bilateral agreements.
It controls the DEPB rates. DEPB is Duty Entitlement Pass Book. It is an export incentive scheme of Government of India.
The Niti Aayog recently launched the India Energy Dashboards Version 2.0. It will provide single window access to the data related to utilisation, pricing, production, distribution of energy in the country. It will provide data from Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and from Coal Controller’s Organisation. The India Energy Dashboard Version 1.0 was launched in 2017.
Key Features of India Energy Dashboards Version 2.0
The new version of the India Energy Dashboard provides data between the financial years 2005-06 and 2019-20.
It will provide enhanced data download. It allows data download in convenient spreadsheet formats.
Also, the new India Energy Dashboard provides data in sub-yearly frequencies. It includes monthly data from portals maintained by Government agencies. The monthly data in India is regularly published for petroleum, electricity, and natural gas sectors.
It will provide technical and financial data of electricity utilities.
The India Energy Dashboard will also provide data from schemes such as Saubhagya, PRAAPTI, UJALA and Vidyut PRAVAH.
UJALA is Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All. The scheme was launched by PM Modi in 2015. It replaced the Bachat Lamp Yojana. UJALA is also called as DELP. DELP is Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme. It aims to promote the efficient usage of energy for all. Under the scheme, the LED bulbs were distributed to the Electricity Distribution Companies at subsidised rates. The scheme also aimed to reduce the green house gas emission by 79 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
PRAAPTI is a web portal launched by the Ministry of Power in 2018. PRAAPTI is Payment Ratification and Analysis in Power procurement for bringing transparency in invoicing of generators. Under the portal, the power distribution companies will clear the invoices and reply to the claims raised by the generators in the portal.
Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra recently took over as the new Chief Election Commissioner of India.
About Sushil Chandra
Sushil Chandra was appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner by the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind.
He was appointed as the Election Commissioner along with Ashok Lavasa and Arora in 2019.
He will oversee the completion of the ongoing assembly elections.
His term will end in 2022. Before that assembly elections will be held in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand.
Earlier he had served as the Chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
In 2017, he launched “Operation Clean Money” to curb illegal wealth and black money in the country.
Article 324 of the Constitution provides the provisions of Chief Election Commissioner. The provisions under the article are as follows:
Article 324 provides powers to the Chief Election Commissioner to control and direct elections to the state legislature, parliament and to the offices of President and Vice President of the country.
The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election commissioners shall be appointed by the President of India.
It also says that, the Chief Election Commissioner shall be removed from office only on the like grounds of the Supreme Court Judge.
The State Election commissioner shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Election Commissioner.
The staff requested by the Election Commission to discharge its functions shall be provided by the Governor of the state and by the President of India.
Election Commissioner Amendment Act
The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1989 made the Election Commission a multi-member body. Under the act, two additional election commissioners were appointed to the Election Commission. However, the decision of the Chief Election Commissioner is final.
An Expert panel of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) recently approved the Emergency Use of COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik-V. However, the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) is to take a final call on the recommendation. When approved, Sputnik will be the third COVID-19 vaccine to be available in India.
Sputnik V Vaccine
The Sputnik V is a Russian vaccine. The Dr Reddy’s Laboratories partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to conduct clinical trials on the vaccine and for its distribution rights in India. The vaccine has proved 91.6% of efficacy during its phase 3 trials.
Emergency Use Authorisation
Currently, the vaccines COVAXIN of Bharat Biotech and COVISHIELD of AstraZeneca are under administration. They have been given Emergency Use Authorisation. Emergency Use Authorisation is an interim approval of vaccine.
The fastest approval for a vaccine until now took about four and a half years. This approval was for the mumps vaccine developed around 1960s. Therefore, to use vaccines in emergency situations as that of COVID-19, Emergency Use Authorisation is provided.
How is Emergency Use Authorisation granted in India?
A company seeking Emergency Use Authorisation must conduct local trials to prove that the vaccine is safe and effective on Indian population.
What are the risks with Emergency Use Approved Vaccines?
After every clinical trial, the vaccine is upgraded by nullifying its side effects and potential risks. In case of Emergency Use Authorisation, there is no time for these rigorous clinical trials.
The Emergency Use Authorised vaccines might have potential risks. The people should be informed about the extent of risks of the vaccine.
Other drugs that received Emergency Use Authorisation in India
The other drugs that received Emergency Use Authorisation in India are Favipiravir, Remdesivir and Itolizumab.
The Ministry of Power recently issued a Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2021. These new rules allow net metering of roof top solar systems.
About the new Rules
The net metering of roof top has been allowed up to 500 KW in the new rules.
The following definitions were added:
Gross Metering means a mechanism where the total solar energy generated from a grid interactive rooftop solar system and the energy consumed are accounted separately.
Net metering is defined as the mechanism where solar energy is exported to the grid from grid interactive rooftop solar PV (Photo Voltaic) system.
The energy imported from the grid and the energy exported to the grid are valued at two different tariffs.
These amendments have been made to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020. Electricity is a concurrent subject.
Electricity (Right of Consumers) Rules, 2020
The rules mainly cover aspects of power supply to the consumers. It mainly includes metering arrangements, obligations of distribution licenses, release of new connections, grievance redressal, modifications of existing connections and compensation mechanisms.
No connection shall be provided without meters.
The meter used should be prepayment meter or smart prepayment meter.
The meters should have provisions for testing.
The consumer shall have the option to pay bills offline or online. Also, he shall be provided with advance payment of bills.
A prosumer will enjoy the same rights as that of a consumer. A prosumer is a person who produces and consumes power.
Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum should include prosumer and consumer representations.
The researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden recently used an uncrewed submarine to go under the Thwaites Glacier to make observations. According to the researchers, the melting of the glacier is worse than previously thought.
The Thwaites Glacier or the Doomsday Glacier is 120 km wide at its broadest. It is spread over 1.9 lakh square kilometres. It is fast moving and has been melting in the recent years. The glacier has high potential to raise the world sea level by more than a metre. According to researchers, the amount of ice flowing out of the glacier has doubled in the past thirty years.
Previous Studies about Doomsday Glacier
According to a 2019 study, a fast-growing cavity was discovered in the glacier that sized two-third of the area of Manhattan. The cavity is growing mainly due to the warm water detected below the glacier. This warm water has been found at two degrees above freezing point at the Grounding Zone or Grounding line of the Doomsday Glacier.
Grounding point or Grounding Zone of Glaciers
The Grounding line of a glacier is the place below the glacier where the ice transits between resting fully on bedrock and floating on ocean as an ice shelf.
The Grounding line retreats when the glaciers melt and lose weight. This in turn exposes more of the underside of the glacier to the seawater. As the exposed surface area increases, the melting of the glacier increases.
Key Findings of the new study
The recent findings made by the Sweden researchers are the first measurements performed beneath the glacier. The submarine sent to go under the glacier was called “Ran”. It measured temperature, strength, salinity, and oxygen content of the ocean currents that go under the glacier. With this data, the researchers have mapped the ocean currents beneath the glacier.
There are three inflows of warm water beneath the glacier. Among them the damaging effects of one of the currents had been underestimated in the past.
The main concern according to the study is that warm water is approaching the pinning points of the glacier from all sides.
The Punjab State Government recently told the Union Government that it will pay the Minimum Support Price directly into the accounts of farmers starting this procurement season. However, the Arhtiyas in the state have been opposing to the direct payment. Arhtiyas are Commission Agents in the state. They used to pay the farmers earlier in Punjab. To solve the issue, Punjab has now amended the procurement software to include Arhtiyas in the direct payment process as well.
How will Arhtiyas be involved in Direct Payment System?
The State of Punjab has around 28,000 registered Arhtiyas. Each of them has twenty to two hundred farmers associated with them. Earlier, the Minimum Support Price payments to the farmers used to come in accounts of Arhtiyas. They will then pay the farmers. Now, the amount will directly come in the accounts of the farmers. However, this will happen after the Arhtiyas click the pay now button. They will have to do so within 48 hours of receiving the MSP. If they fail to transfer the amount within 48 hours, the amount will directly get credited to the farmers in 72 hours.
The Arhtiyas provide various services in Punjab mandis. This includes unloading to cleaning, filling, weighing, and loading the crop to government godowns. The Government pays 2.5% commission to them for these works.
What changes have been made?
The Punjab Government has modified the Anaaj Kharid Portal. The Arhtiyas will get a message on the portal. The message will provide the name of the farmer linked with him whose amount is ready to transfer. The respective Arhtiya has to click on Pay Now to transfer the money.