January 2020

Daily Current Affairs (12-01-20)

ECONOMY

ASCEND 2020

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy [Paper-II]: Economy of Kerala, Insfrastructure and resources

News

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated a two-day ASCEND 2020 global investors meet in Kochi on January 9, 2020.

About Ascend 2020

  • The two-day conclave is an occasion to present Kerala as a stage ripe for fresh investments in areas ranging from defence technology and petrochemicals to food processing and hospitality.
  • The meet is also an occasion for the State to present a progress card on improving its business environment since the ease-of-doing business campaign was launched at ASCEND 2019.
  • Showcasing more than a 100 projects across nine sessions, that include six panel discussions, the conclave seek to invigorate development in sectors like petrochemicals, agro and food-processing, defence, life sciences, aeropolis, tourism and hospitality, ports and harbour, fisheries, infrastructure, mobility development, logistics and electronic hardware.

Key Highlights

  • Kerala government unveiled a set of initiatives that will enhance the ease of doing business, including a wage subsidy scheme for the first five years for new ventures getting registered from April 1, 2020.
  • Seeking to remove the land constraints faced by big units, the 15-acre ceiling on the land to be held by them will be relaxed. The units investing more that Rs 250 crore and providing over 1,000 jobs will be entitled to this concession.
  • The bar on women factory workers being put on night shift will be lifted. It will be the responsibility of the employer to ensure their safety.
  • The ceiling for financial aid from Kerala Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) will be raised from the current Rs 35 crore to Rs 100 crore. In certain cases, KSIDC can also provide higher amount.
  • Measures will also be taken to ensure greater involvement of local bodies in industrial promotion and job generation.

[Source: The Hindu, Financial Express]

 

DEFENCE & SECURITY

DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS (DMA)

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Science and Technology [Paper-II]: Technology in Space and Defence

Why in News?

Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the rules of business for the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

News in Detail

  • Defence ministry has shifted administrative and revenue procurement matters of the armed services to the newly created Military Affairs Department led by Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, but any important matter related to defence policy will be dealt by the defence secretary.
  • The secretariat of the high powered Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which looks after large capital procurements, will be moved to the Department of Defence (DoD), in a change from the past when it functioned under the tri-services headquarters.
  • The fresh allocation has broadly shifted most of the work earlier being done by the Joint Secretaries for Army, Air Force and Navy to the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), which includes promotions and appointments of senior officers.
  • DMA will operate with two joint secretary level officers, 13 directors and 25 under secretaries who were earlier posted to DoD.
  • Among the major works shifted to DMA are all matters related to counter insurgency operations, the size, shape and composition of the Army, deployment of forces on the border, supply of arms and ammunition to neighbouring nations, aid to civil authorities, and promotion matters.
  • On procurement side, cases involving revenue budget have been shifted to DMA while larger capital procurements remain vested with DoD.
[Source: Economic Times]

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

INDIAN COBRA GENOME MAPPED

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Science and Technology [Paper-II]:

News

Mapping the genome of the Indian cobra (Naja naja), researchers have identified specific genes that encode different venom toxins in multiple snake tissues.

Indian Cobra Genome Mapping

  • Using a combination of sophisticated gene-sequencing techniques, an international research team, including Indian scientists from the SciGenom Research Foundation in Bangalore and SciGenom Labs in Kochi, India, predicted the presence of 23,248 protein-coding genes in 14 different tissues of the Indian cobra.
  • They identified 139 genes, which belong to 33 toxin gene families. Of these, 19 toxin genes are expressed exclusively in the venom glands.
  • Comparing the cobra genome with that of the prairie rattlesnake, they narrowed their search to 15 toxin gene families that were unique to the cobra.
  • According to researchers, it is likely that these genes encode proteins that form the core toxic components of the venom.
  • The toxin-packed venom disrupts the activity of the heart, paralyses muscle, and can trigger nausea, blurred vision and bleeding.
  • This information of genes can be used to rapidly synthesise and identify toxin-neutralising antibodies for the generation of synthetic antivenoms.

Significance

  • Every year, approximately five million people worldwide are bitten by venomous snakes resulting in about 400,000 amputations and more than 100,000 deaths.
  • Each year, about 46,000 people die and 140,000 people are disabled in India from snakebites by the ‘Big 4’ — the Indian cobra, the common krait, Russell’s viper, and the saw-scaled viper.
  • Knowing the sequence of genes could aid in understanding the chemical constituents of the venom and contribute to development of new anti-venom therapies, which have remained practically unchanged for over a century.
  • Besides shedding light on the cobra toxin genes, this study yields a comprehensive data of the venom proteins that might be used to design drugs for treating high blood pressure, pain and other disorders.

About Indian Cobra

  • The Indian cobra (Naja naja) is a highly venomous snake species of the genus Naja of the family Elapidae found in the Indian subcontinent.
  • They are found in several countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, southern Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and possibly in the extreme eastern Afghanistan in the Kabul River Valley.​
  • The species is also known as the spectacled cobra, Asian cobra or Binocellate cobra, due to its characteristic markings.
  • Both the generic name and the specific epithet of the Indian cobra, naja, derive from the Latinisation of “nāgá” the Sanskrit word meaning cobra.

[Source: The Hindu, natureasia.com]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

LUMPY SKIN DISEASE
  • Kerala Animal Husbandry Department has warned dairy farmers to be on guard against the lumpy skin disease that affects cattle. It has been reported in three districts.
  • Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is caused by lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), a virus from the family Poxviridae, genus Capripoxvirus.
  • The disease is spread through mosquitoes, flies and ticks. The disease does not affect humans or other animals.
  • Symptoms in cattle include fever lasting for three days, swelling in the limbs, and enlarged superficial lymph nodes. It can result in low milk production and infertility.
  • While the animals may recover in about three weeks, the reduction in milk yield can last for an extended period.
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY OF INTERNATIONAL CONCERN (PHEIC)
  • World Health Organization recently announced that polio will continue to remain a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for three months.
  • The committee arrived at the unanimous decision based on the “rising risk” of international spread of wild poliovirus type-1.
  • Polio was declared as PHEIC in 2014 and has continued to remain one since then.
  • There were 156 cases of wild polio type-1 cases in 2019 compared with 28 in 2018.
  • The term Public Health Emergency of International Concern is defined in the IHR (2005) as “an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations:
  • to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease
  • to potentially require a coordinated international response. This definition implies a situation that is serious, unusual or unexpected; carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and may require immediate international action.
  • Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestines.
CONTRASTING WATER-WETTING BEHAVIOUR USED FOR ANTI-COUNTERFEITING MEASURE
  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have developed a new approach to anti-counterfeiting measures.
  • They have developed a smart interface embedded with two different water wettabilities — extremely water repelling (superhydrophobic) and extremely water loving (superhydrophilic) — which can hide information or make it visible under certain definite conditions.
  • Adding a layer of complexity, the researchers used a molecular printer to imprint a pattern of micron size (500 x 500 microns) that will become visible only when dipped in water or when moist air is blown.
  • The coating is not only hydrophobic but is also reactive.
  • Taking advantage of the reactive surface of the coating, the researchers used a chemical (glucamine) to write letters on the coated surface.
  • The glucamine-treated region becomes selectively and extremely water-loving (superhydrophilic) and hence becomes visible to the naked eyes when dipped in water or when moist air is blown.
  • Since the rest of the hydrophobic region of the coated surface is still chemically reactive, they modified it using another chemical (octadecylamine) to make the surface chemically inert.
  • The team found the patterned coating to be physically durable even when exposed to a very high (100 degree C) and very low temperature (10 degree C).
 INDEX OF INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION (IIP)
  • India’s industrial production expanded at a modest pace in November 2019, reversing three consecutive months of contraction.
  • Industrial growth, as measured by the index of industrial production (IIP), rose 1.8% in November 2019 compared with a 3.9% contraction in October 2019, aided by a sharp growth in intermediate goods and a favourable base effect. IIP had risen 0.2% in November 2018.
  • The data is consistent with the slight pickup in the economy expected in the second half.
National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI): 2019-2024
  • Financial inclusion is increasingly being recognised as a key driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation.
  • Globally, the adoption of National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS) accelerated significantly in the past decade.
  • Keeping in view the global trend, Reserve Bank of India under the aegis of Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FIAC) initiated the process of formulation of National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) for the period 2019-2024.
  • It aims to strengthen the ecosystem for various modes of digital financial services in all Tier-II to Tier VI centres to create the necessary infrastructure to move towards a less-cash society by March 2022.
  • One of the objectives of the strategy includes increasing outreach of banking outlets to provide banking access to every village within a 5-km radius or a hamlet of 500 households in hilly areas by March 2020.
  • With the aim of providing basic of financial services, a target has been set that every willing and eligible adult, who has been enrolled under the PM Jan Dhan Yojana, be enrolled under an insurance scheme and a pension scheme by March 2020.
  • The plan is also to make the Public Credit Registry (PCR) fully operational by March 2022 so that authorised financial entities could leverage the same for assessing credit proposals from all citizens.

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