Daily Current Affairs - 28-09-2021

The Uttarakhand Forest Department inaugurated the first Palmetum of the state on September 26, 2021. It has been developed in Haldwani area of Nainital district.

Key facts

Aim of the Palmetum

This Palmetum was inaugurated with the aim promoting conservation & research and creating awareness regarding the importance and ecological role of various palm species.

Palm species in Uttarakhand Palmetum

Palmetum comprises of 4 critically endangered species of Palm, 2 endangered species, 2 vulnerable species and 6 near threatened species as per IUCN categorization. It also comprises of one threatened species, as per Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board. As per Indian Biodiversity Portal, one species is rare.

Palm Species of Uttarakhand

In the Palmetum, one palm species is endemic to Uttarakhand. It is called Trachycarpus Takil (Takil Palm). It is the only Palm that can survive sub-zero temperature. This species has been declared as the threatened species by the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board. Other endangered or threatened species in the Palmetum include Ponytail Palm, Bottle Palm, Redneck palm and Spindle Palm.

On September 28, 2021, Pfizer Inc. announced that the first batch of participants have been dosed with the single dose quadrivalent mRNA vaccine in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Highlights

Background

Pfizer has been working since 2018 to develop a potential mRNA influenza vaccine. This is driven by deep understanding of infectious diseases and extensive experience of researching, developing and implementing new vaccine technologies. COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the company to deliver immense scientific opportunity of mRNA.

How Conventional seasonal influenza vaccines are developed?

Conventional seasonal influenza vaccines are usually developed by growing the virus in chicken eggs or mammalian cells. These viruses are used in inactivated form and are processed to be made into a vaccine. This process go through several challenges such as producing immunogenic antigens, alterations in vaccine antigens and keeping up with virus strain changes. The circulating influenza strains changes continuously. So, prediction of the best match for next season’s vaccine is a big challenge for global health experts.

mRNA-based influenza vaccine

mRNA-based influenza vaccine is developed through genetic sequence of the virus. This technology is flexible; thus, it allows better strain match, greater reliability of supply as well as potential opportunity to improve the efficacy of current flu vaccines.

Facebook Inc is set to invest $50 million to partner with organizations in order to build metaverse, which is a digital world where people can use different devices to communicate and move in a virtual environment.

Highlights

What Is the Metaverse?

Metaverse is a set of virtual spaces where one can create and explore with other people who aren’t in same physical space. Using this virtual space, one would be able to hang out with friends, play, work, learn, shop and create. This space is not necessarily about spending more time online but is about making time one spends online more meaningful.

How Metaverse will work responsibly?

XR Programs and Research Fund

Facebook announced XR Programs and Research Fund which is a two-year $50 million investment in programs & external research. This programme will help in building Metaverse. Through this fund, Facebook will collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, non-profits & academic institutions and governments to determine how metaverse can be built responsibly.

Scientists have excavated the remains of an ancient eagle near a barren, dried-up lake in Southern Australia.

Key facts

Fossil of Koala-hunting eagle

Koala-hunting eagle was slightly smaller and leaner than the wedge-tailed eagle. However, its the largest eagle known in Australia, found about 25 million years ago. They are known as wedge-tail, or wedgies in Australia. They had a broad-winged bird of prey, similar to size of bald eagle of America.

Significance of the study

It is rare to find even one bone from a fossil eagle. Thus, finding most of the skeleton becomes significant. These plentiful fossils are a rare find and they belong to one the of the oldest & mightiest eaglelike raptors across the world.

About Eagle

Eagles stand at the apex of the food chain, with preying on squirrels, prairie dogs and rabbits. They use sky as their safe haven and are always fewer in number. As a result, they are infrequently preserved as fossils.

Wedge-tailed eagle

They are scientifically known as Aquila audax and are the largest bird of prey in Australia. They are also found in southern New Guinea. They have a long, fairly broad wings and fully feathered legs. They are one among 12 species of large, dark-coloured booted eagles in the genus Aquila. The prey have a wingspan of up to 2.84 m and length of up to 1.06 m.

Indian Council of medical research (ICMR) recently released its report titled “Clinicopathological Profile of Cancers in India: A Report of Hospital Based Cancer Registries, 2021”. The report provides data on cancer cases in India. It was prepared by ICMR- National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Bengaluru.

Key findings of the report

Site-specific cancers

As per report, cancers of the head and neck region accounted for 31.2 per cent of the cancers in males. Gynaecologic cancers including breast cancer accounted for 51 per cent of all cancers in females. Relative proportion of site-specific cancers was greater in males as compared to females except for thyroid cancer and gall bladder cancer.

Treatment Modality

Most typical treatment modality for cancers was Chemotherapy, regardless of the clinical extent of disease at presentation.

National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP)

Cancer surveillance is an essential part of cancer prevention and control measures. To conduct regular surveillance, ICMR started NCRP in 1981, using a network of Population and Hospital Based Cancer Registries (PBCRs and HBCRs).

Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri launched the seventh consecutive edition of Swachh Survekshan on September 28, 2021 in New Delhi.

Key Points

Swachh Survekshan 2022

This edition has incorporated specific indicators which drives cities to improve working conditions and livelihood opportunities for frontline workers in urban India’s sanitation journey. It will aim to capture feedback from senior citizens as the integral part of the survey, in order to keep with the theme of [email protected] as well as to pay tribute to the wisdom of elderly.

About Swachh Survekshan

It is an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation across cities and towns in India. This survey initiative was launched under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, that aimed to make India clean and free of open defecation by October 2, 2019. First ever survey was conducted in 2016, covering 73 cities. As of 2020, this survey has covered about 4242 cities.

Who conducts the survey?

This survey is conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in association with the Quality Council of India (QCI) as its implementation partner.

The revamped quarterly employment survey (QES) for the months April-June was released on September 27, 2021 by Labour and Employment Minister Bhupendra Yadav.

Highlights

Growth in different sector

As per report, IT/BPO sector witnessed the impressive growth of 152%. Health sector reported the growth of 77%. In education, growth is 39%. In Manufacturing, transport and construction there is a growth of 22%, 68% and 42% respectively.

Employment scenario

According to Commerce Minister, Piyush Goyal, India’s foreign trade policy (FTP) will be extended for six months, till March 31, 2022.

Key Facts

Background

Central government had extended the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 for one year (till March 31, 2021) on March 31, 2020. Later, it was extended till September 30, 2021.

About FTP

Under the FTP, government provides incentives for different schemes like Duty Free Import Authorisation (DFIA) and Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG). FTP (2015-20) was launched on April 1, 2015. It provides a framework of increasing exports of goods & services, generation of employment and increasing value addition in India. This policy is in line with schemes like Make in India, Skill India, Digital Indi, Start-up India as well as Ease of Doing Business initiatives. Its statement describes the market and product strategy. The policy seeks to enable India in responding to challenges of external environment and make trade a major contributor in its economic growth & development.

Features of FTP 2015-2020

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has tested a new version of Akash Missile called ‘Akash Prime’ on September 27, 2021.

Highlights

Akash Missile

It is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. It was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has produced these missiles. Surveillance & Fire control radar, missile launcher and tactical control & command center were developed by Bharat Electronics (BEL), Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division as well as Larsen & Toubro. Range of the Akash Missile is up to 50–80 km and at altitudes of up to 18,000 m. These missiles can also neutralise aerial targets such as fighter jets, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles. It is in service with the Indian Army as well as the Indian Air Force.

Akash Prime Missile

Akash Prime is based on the existing Akash SAM. It is equipped with an improved active radio-frequency (RF) seeker. Missile has also been optimized for low temperature and high-altitude operations with the modified ground system.

Ratings agency ICRA has revised its real GDP growth forecast for India on September 27, 2021 for Financial Year 2022 (FY22). Its GDP forecast has changed from 8.5% to 9 per cent.

Highlights

Impact of vaccination

According to ICRA, widening coverage of Covid-19 vaccines will boost confidence, which, in turn, will re-energise the demand for contact-intensive services. It will help in reviving the portions of economy affected most by covid-19 pandemic. As per ICRA’s estimated, nearly three-fourths of Indian adults will receive their second Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

Kharif Output

As per ICRA, robust kharif harvest will sustain the consumption demand from the farm sector. Late sowing helped in bringing kharif acreage nearly at par with the record area of 2021.

National Monetisation Pipeline

Upturn in the direct tax revenues and commencement of inflows from the ‘National Monetisation Pipeline’ have also improved the revenue visibility for the Central government. This has contributed towards the withdrawal of extant cash management guidelines, which should accelerate the Central Government’ spending in H2 FY2022.

ICRA Limited (ICRA)

This Indian independent investment information and credit rating agency was established in 1991. Its original name was Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India Limited (IICRA India). It was a joint-venture of Moody’s and several Indian commercial banks & financial services companies.

Recently, an international team of researchers directly detected the dark energy with the help of advanced technologies and new experiments.

Highlights

The XENON1T Experiment

XENON1T experiment is the most sensitive dark matter experiment in the world. It was operated deep underground at INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, Italy. Finding of the experiment suggests that experiments like XENON1T could be used to detect dark energy.

What is Dark energy?

Dark energy makes up about 68% of the universe. 27% of the universe is made up of dark matter while planets, moons & massive galaxies make up only 5% of the universe. Dark matter attracts & holds galaxies together on the other hand, dark energy repels & causes the expansion of universe.

How dark energy was detected?

While conducting the XENON1T experiment, researchers reported an unexpected signal. There was some background noise and the electrons in XENON1T move a bit on their own even with no dark matter or dark energy around due to the noise. This excess was probably caused by the dark energy.

When dark energy can be directly detected?

As per researchers, upcoming upgrades to the XENON1T experiment and similar experiments like LUX-Zeplin could help in detecting the dark energy directly.

National Commission for Women (NCW) launched a nationwide training and capacity building programme for women in dairy farming.

Key Facts

Why this programme was launched?

This programme was launched because women in rural India are involved in every part of dairy farming but they have not attained financial independence. Thus, this project was launched with the aim of empower women and help them in achieving them financial independence.

How financial independence would be ensured?

This project seeks to help women in achieving financial independence by training them in aspects like quality enhancement of dairy products, value addition, packaging and marketing of their products and increasing the shelf life of products.

National Commission for Women (NCW)

NCW is the statutory body that advises the government on all policy matters related to women. The body was established on January 31, 1992 under the provisions of the Indian Constitution. It was established by an act called National Commission for Women Act, 1990.

4th session of the Indo-US Health Dialogue 2021 was inaugurated on September 27, 2021. This session is being hosted by India.

Key Points

Agenda of the session

For the 4th session, issues that have been planned for deliberations also encompass areas of concern related to

India-US Collaboration in Health

MoU between India and US

In the meeting, another MoU between the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Department of Health & Human Services of the US, in the health sector, was finalised. Under the MoU, major areas of cooperation include Health Safety & Security; Communicable Diseases & Non-Communicable Diseases; Health Policy and Health Systems.