Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - November 04, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Scientists create 3D atomic map of novel corona virus replication mechanism

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

  • In the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is an enzyme called the main protease, which drives its replication once it infects the human cell.
  • For the first time, scientists have completed a 3D map that reveals the location of every atom in the molecule of this enzyme.

About 3D map

  • As Covid-19 cases surge again in several countries, this 3D mapping will allow scientists to better understand how the coronavirus behaves, and how it can be stopped.
  • The mapping was done by researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory under the US Department of Energy. The results are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
  • SARS-CoV-2 expresses long chains of proteins.
  • When these chains are broken down and cut into smaller strands, it enables the virus to reproduce.
  • This task is performed by the main protease.
  • Its structure: two identical protein molecules held together by hydrogen bonds.
  • If a drug can be developed that inhibits or blocks the protease activity, it will prevent the virus from replicating and spreading to other cells in the body.

About Neutron crystallography

  • Researchers used a technique called neutron crystallography.
  • The site containing the amino acids where the protein chains are cut, these experiments revealed, is in an electrically charged reactive state — not in a resting or neutral state, contrary to previously held beliefs.
  • Second, researchers mapped the location of each hydrogen atom in the places where drug inhibitors could bind to the protease enzyme, as well as the electrical charges of the associated amino acids.
  • The team will now use the newly obtained information to investigate the binding properties of drug molecule candidates to produce improved Covid-19 therapeutics.

Source: PIB.

Prime Minister inaugurates to & fro Sea-plane Service between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • The Prime Minister inaugurated Water Aerodrome at Kevadia and the Sea-plane Service connecting Statue of Unity in Kevadia with Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.
  • Shri Modi also inaugurated Water Aerodrome in Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad and the SeaPlane Service from Sabarmati Riverfront to Kevadia.
  • These are part of a series of Water Aerodromes being planned to bring the last mile connectivity.

About Seaplanes

  • Seaplanes have the ability to land and take-off from water thus offering access to areas that do not have landing strips or runways.
  • Thus it can help in connecting the geographies/regions that have challenges owing to its topography and bring the remotest parts of India into the mainstream aviation network without the high cost of building airports and runways.
  • These smaller fixed wing airplanes can land on water bodies like lakes, backwaters and dams, gravel and grass, thus offering easy access to numerous tourist spots as well.

Source: PIB.

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National Medical Commission notifies “Minimum Requirements for Annual MBBS Admissions Regulations (2020)”

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

  • In a significant step towards affordable medical education, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has notified its first major regulation.
  • Titled as “Minimum Requirements For Annual MBBS Admissions Regulations (2020)”, the notification issued today replaces the “Minimum Standard Requirements for Medical Colleges, 1999 (for 50/100/150/200/250 Annual Admissions)” of the erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI).

Background

  • The new Regulation shall be applicable to all new medical colleges proposing to be established, and to the established medical colleges proposing to increase their annual MBBS intake from the academic year 2021-22.
  • During the transitory period, the established medical colleges will be governed by the relevant regulations existing prior to the current notification.
  • The new standards have been defined keeping the functional requirements of the institution(s).
  • These allow optimization and flexibility in utilizing available resources, and harnessing modern educational technology tools to facilitate moving towards quality education, even when resources are relatively scarce.

Highlights

  • The new Regulation has deleted the quantum of land required for setting up a medical college and its affiliated teaching hospitals (all buildings are expected to conform to existing building bye-laws).
  • The notification defines the minimum requirements of space for all student centric areas in the institution and the functional areas required.
  • The Standards outlines the sharing of all available teaching spaces by all departments (compared to the inflexibility in the regulations so far) thereby mandating all teaching spaces to be enabled for e-learning and also digitally linked to one another (it was only desirable earlier).
  • Under the new Regulation, a well-equipped “Skills Laboratory” for training students is essential now.
  • It also defines a Medical Education Unit for training medical teachers in educational pedagogy.
  • The space required for Library and the number of books and journals have been rationalized and reduced.
  • Student counselling services has been mandated recognizing the increasing stress observed amongst medical students and residents in recent times. 

Source: PIB.

IndianOil signs MoU with IISc, Bangalore for hydrogen generation from biomass gasification

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Indian Oil (IOC) has inked an MoU with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc) to develop and demonstrate biomass gasification-based hydrogen generation technology.
  • The process will help produce fuel-cell-grade hydrogen at an affordable price and accelerate IndianOil’s journey towards a sustainable hydrogen economy.

Background

  • Both IISc and Indian Oil will demonstrate the technology in the Indian Oil R&D Centre in Faridabad.
  • The technology is crucial for the fuel cell operated buses being conceived by Indian Oil towards ushering in the country’s hydrogen economy.

Highlights

  • Indian Oil Corporation had recently launched trials of 50 buses in Delhi using hydrogen-CNG as a fuel, based on Indian oil patented single step reforming technology.
  • It is now working with IISc to use hydrogen production technology based on biomass gasification.
  • IISc has worked on biomass gasification and developed an innovative process for the production of hydrogen rich syngas and a small scale prototype is demonstrated in the IISc campus.
  • The use of this technology will not only provide a cleaner energy option for India but also be a step towards addressing the challenge of biomass waste.

Source: AIR News.

Strongest Storm on Earth in 2020: Super Typhoon Goni

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


Context

  • ‘Strongest storm on Earth’ in 2020, slams into the Philippines.
  • Over a million people in the typhoon’s projected path have been evacuated, including in the capital, where the international airport is now closed.

About the Typhoon

  • The strongest typhoon of the year so far made landfall on Catanduanes Island.
  • Goni was downgraded from a “super typhoon” as it swept across the southern end of the most populous island Luzon towards the capital Manila.
  • Goni is also known as Rolly in the Philippines.
  • It is the most powerful storm to hit the country since Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in 2013.
  • Catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall would hammer areas in the typhoon’s path.
  • Goni comes a week after Typhoon Molave hit the same region of the natural disaster-prone archipelago and killed 22 people.

Source: LiveMint.

Bulk Drug Park

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

  • Himachal Pradesh is one of the states vying for the allotment of a bulk drug park under a central government scheme announced earlier this year for setting up three such parks across the country. 
  • A bulk drug, also called an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), is the key ingredient of a drug or medicine, which lends it the desired therapeutic effect or produces the intended pharmacological activity.

Background

  • APIs are prepared from multiple reactions involving chemicals and solvents.
  • The primary chemical or the basic raw material which undergoes reactions to form an API is called the key starting material, or KSM.
  • Chemical compounds formed during the intermediate stages during these reactions are called drug intermediates or DIs.

Highlights

  • India has one of the largest pharmaceutical industries in the world (third largest by volume) but this industry largely depends on other countries, particularly China, for importing APIs, DIs and KSMs.
  • In January, factories in China shut down when the country went into a lockdown, and later, international supply chains were affected as the Covid pandemic gripped the entire world.
  • The border conflict between India and China exacerbated the situation.
  • All these factors pushed the Indian government to call for greater self-reliance across all industries, and in June, the department of pharmaceuticals announced a scheme for the promotion of three bulk drug parks in the country.
  • A bulk drug park will have a designated contiguous area of land with common infrastructure facilities for the exclusive manufacture of APIs, DIs or KSMs, and also a common waste management system.
  • These parks are expected to bring down manufacturing costs of bulk drugs in the country and increase competitiveness in the domestic bulk drug industry.
  • The Centre’s scheme will support three selected parks in the country by providing a one-time grant-in-aid for the creation of common infrastructure facilities.
  • The grant-in-aid will be 70 percent of the cost of the common facilities but in the case of Himachal Pradesh and other hill states, it will be 90 percent.
  • Himachal jumped nine places in this year’s ease-of-doing-business rankings declared by the Centre last month, securing the seventh position in the country.
  • Himachal already has Asia’s largest pharma manufacturing hub, that is the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial belt, and the state produces around half of India’s total drug formulations.

Source: Indian Express.

Rare metallic asteroid Psyche may be worth $10,000 quadrillion

Focus: GS3.                                

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Context

  • Hundreds and thousands of asteroids are floating in space, but there's one unique metal asteroid, rich enough to fetch up to ten thousand times the global economy in 2019.
  • It's worth a whopping $10,000 quadrillion ($10,000,000,000,000,000,000), reports said.

Background

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa) Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a metal-rich asteroid '16 Psyche' which is orbiting the Sun, in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
  • It is located roughly 370 million kilometres (230 million miles) from the Earth and measures 226 kilometres across (140 miles) -- roughly about the size of West Virginia.

Highlights

  • This discovery was published in The Planetary Science Journal. The report said that researchers used the ultraviolet spectrum data collected by Hubble Telescope during two observations made in 2017.
  • Authors of the study said that Psyche's surface could be pure iron. They also suggested that the asteroid may be mostly made of iron and nickel. However, the exact composition of Psyche is still unclear.
  • It has been hypothesized that a piece of iron of its size could be worth about $10,000 quadrillion -- more than the entire economy on our planet -- a CNN report said.
  • "Psyche's composition may be consistent with mostly iron-nickel by mass," the study said.
  • Earlier, Nasa said, "There are still contradictions in the currently available data, but the best analysis indicates that Psyche is likely made of a mixture of rock and metal, with metal comprising between 30-60 per cent of its volume."
  • Nasa Psyche mission’s lead scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton has estimated that the amount of iron present on the steroid would be worth more than $10,000 quadrillion.

Source: India Today.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about Chandni Padvo:
  • It falls a day after Sharad Poornima.
  • It is celebrated by Surtis, or the people native to Surat.
  • On Chandi Padvo, tradition has it that people of Surat eat only sweetmeats that are white and hence doodh poha, kheer or ghari are made across households.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

   A. 1 and 2 only
   B. 2 and 3 only
   C. 1 and 3 only
   D. AOTA

Solution: D

  1. Dhar Commission is related to:

     A. States reorganisation
     B. GST Bill
     C. Data security
     D. Internal disturbances

Solution: A

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