The Kigali Agreement to the Montreal Protocol is aimed at reducing-
WHY IN NEWS?
India has approved the ratification of the Kigali Agreement to the Montreal Protocol in order to phase down Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
What it means for India?
India now requires reducing its HFCs usage by 80% by 2047. China and the US have to achieve the same in 2045 and 2034.
- Experts note that, India has exemplified its climate leadership by approving the ratification process.
- Under the ratification, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) will be phased down early which in turn will make the Indian industry globally competitive across the climate-friendly cooling products.
- Ratification provided big opportunity to India to be on course of early phase down of HFCs by means of domestic innovation.
- Phase-down of HFCs is going to prevent emission of up to 105 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases. Thus, it will help in avoiding up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global temperature increase by 2100 and will also help in protecting the ozone layer.
- India is the first country that launched a cooling action plan in 2019.
Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol
It is an international agreement that seeks to gradually reduce consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This is a legally binding agreement that has been designed to create rights and obligations in international law.
Montreal Protocol was originally created in order to preserve and restore the ozone layer. Protocol was an agreement in between participating countries in order to do away with ozone depleting gases. Under the agreement, HFCs were used to replace the banned substances as they have zero impact on the ozone. But HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases that contributes towards climate change. Thus, Kigali amendment added HFCs to the list of chemicals that countries are required to phase out.
Which countries have ratified this amendment?
121 states and the European Union have ratified the Kigali Amendment as of July 2021. India is the new entrant to the list. US has not ratified the amendment but pledged in April 2021 to do so.
A new initiative called the “Small Business Loans Initiative” has been started by which tech. giant?
WHY IN NEWS?
Facebook India has launched a new initiative called the “Small Business Loans Initiative” on August 20, 2021.
- This initiative was launched in partnership with online lending platform, Indifi.
- It will extend help to small and medium businesses (SMBs) who advertise on Facebook in order to get quick access to credit with the help of independent lending partners.
- India is the first country where Facebook rolled out this initiative.
- This facility is open to businesses that are registered across 200 towns and cities in India.
- Indifi is the first lending partner with which Facebook has tied up. This initiative will bring more partners on board in future.
- The initiative was announced by Facebook India at a virtual event “Enabling MSME Growth through Financial Inclusion”. It was hosted by Facebook India in partnership with FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry).
Aim of the initiative
Facebook launched this initiative with the aim of making business loans more easily accessible to small businesses. It also seeks to reduce the credit gap within India’s MSME sector.
Why this initiative was launched?
As per “Future of Business” survey that was conducted by Facebook in association with OECD & World Bank in 2020, a third of operational SMBs on Facebook in 2020 found cash flow as one of their primary challenges. So, to provide them with loans, this initiative was launched.
Interest on Loan
Through the partnership between Facebook and Indifi, small businesses advertising with Facebook can be given loans at a predefined interest rate of 17-20 per cent per annum. This initiative will also enable small businesses to get loans without collateral by means of a quick online application.
Which of the following is the world’s first DNA-based vaccine for COVID-19?
WHY IN NEWS?
The Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) has approved ZyCoV-D vaccine by Zydus Cadila for Emergency Use Authorization.
- According to Ministry of Science and Technology, ZyCoV-D vaccine is the world’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA-based vaccine for COVID-19.
- It will be administered to humans including children and adults aged 12 years and more.
Who developed ZyCoV-D?
Zydus Cadila developed this vaccine in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under Mission COVID Suraksha. It will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
It is a three-dose, DNA plasmid-based COVID-19 vaccine. When it is injected into body, it produces spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and evokes an immune response. It thus, plays a key role in protection from disease and viral clearance.
Can the vaccine deal with mutations?
Plasmid DNA platform of the vaccine is based on plug-and-play technology. It can be easily adapted to deal with mutations among virus.
Efficacy of the vaccine
The Phase-3 Clinical Trials for the vaccine was conducted in over 28 thousand volunteers. Result showed primary efficacy of 66.6 per cent in symptomatic RT-PCR positive cases. This was the largest vaccine trial in India for COVID-19, as of now. Vaccine had already exhibited robust immunogenicity, tolerability and safety profile in adaptive Phase I and 2 clinical trials. Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials were monitored by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board.
About Zydus Cadila
Zydus Cadila is also known as Cadila Healthcare Limited. It is an Indian multinational pharmaceutical company with its headquarter in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This company is primarily engaged in manufacturing generic drugs. Ramanbhai Patel founded this company in 1952.
Who has been selected as a panellist on Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowships Virtual Panel of American Space Agency, NASA?
WHY IN NEWS?
Diksha Shinde, who is a 14-year-old girl in Aurangabad, was selected as a panellist on Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowships Virtual Panel of American Space Agency, NASA.
- She wrote a theory on black holes. It was liked and accepted at NASA.
- Her research paper on ‘We Live in Black Hole?’ was accepted by International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research in May 2021.
- She won the research competition that was organised by International Astronomical Search Collaboration.
- She has been selected as a panellist for 2021 MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel in June.
- She will get training at NASA when she will turn 18. She will also attend a conference which will be held in October 2021. NASA will bear all her expenses.
Initially, she suffered two major setbacks. She had submitted an essay on the title ‘Questioning the existence of God’ in September 2020. But this essay was rejected. She submitted the same research paper in October again which NASA rejected again. Her paper was accepted in third attempt.
What will be her job?
Her job include:
- Reviewing proposals submitted by researchers and
- Describing a collaborative approach to research with NASA and
- Understanding connection between proposed research area student’s academic discipline pursuit.
Minority Serving Institute (MSI)
MSI is a descriptive term used for universities and colleges that enroll significant percentage of students coming from minority groups in the higher education system of United States.
What is the old name of the city of Somnath?
WHY IN NEWS?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated and laid foundation stone of multiple projects in Somnath on August 20.
- Inaugurated projects include the Somnath Promenade, reconstructed temple precinct of Old (Juna) Somnath and Somnath Exhibition Centre.
- While inaugurating the projects, PM highlighted that, India needs to strengthen religious tourism. It will provide employment to youth and enable them to get knowledge about our past.
Shiv Parvati Temple
- Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for Shree Parvati Temple on the occasion.
- This temple is proposed to be constructed with a total outlay of Rupees 30 crore.
- It comprises of construction of temple in Sompura Salats Style, development of Garbha Griha and a Nritya Mandap.
About Somnath temple
Somnath temple is situated in Veraval (Somnath City), Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat. This temple is believed to be the first of twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The temple is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. It has been reconstructed multiple times in the past following repeated destruction by Muslim invaders and rulers. Temple in its present form was reconstructed in Chaulukya style of Hindu temple architecture. Its construction was completed in May 1951. Its construction was started on the orders of Home Minister of India Vallabhbhai Patel. Current chairman of Somnath Mandir trust is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Name of the Veraval city was changed to Somnath city on March 30, 2021. It is a municipality and headquarters of Gir Somnath district in Gujarat. This city is the hub of fishing industries in India.
DRDO has developed an Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard-
WHY IN NEWS?
Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) against hostile radar threats.
What is Advanced Chaff Technology?
- Chaff is an electronic countermeasure technology. It is used by militaries worldwide to protect their assets like naval vessels and aircraft from radar and radio frequency(RF) guiding mechanisms of the enemy missile.
- A very little quantity of chaff material deployed in the air acts as a decoy.
- The chaff deployed in the air reflects multiple targets for the missile guidance systems, thus misleading the enemy radars or deflecting adversary missiles.
Who has developed this technology?
- The advanced chaff technology has been developed by DRDO units Defence Laboratory Jodhpur and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL).
Difference between Chaff and Flares:
- Chaff and Flares are both used as defensive countermeasures to confuse the radar from detecting a vessel or deflect the missiles from the target.
- But there is a major difference between the two. While flares, when fired, generate a strong infrared source to attract heat-seeking missiles, chaff is used to misguide radar-tracking weapons.
- Chaff is composed of many small aluminium or zinc coated fibres. It will be stored on-board the aircraft as cartridges.
The first site at which Indus Valley civilisation was discovered was-
WHY IN NEWS?
A new research paper published in the journal ‘Nature’ has provided some interesting new insight into the linguistic culture of the Indus Valley Civilization.
About Indus Valley Civilization:
- Indus Valley civilization is the oldest urban civilization discovered to date. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River spreading across large parts of modern Pakistan, northwest and western India, and Afghanistan.
- The civilisation is noted for its urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, large and new techniques in handicraft.
- Moreover, the archaeological sites of the civilization have always been a topic of interest for the scholar since its discovery in 1926.
- However, the language that the people spoke is yet to be deciphered.
What does the research paper have found?
- The research paper has taken clues from the few words shared between the Indus Valley people and the cultures they came in contact with, such as the Persian Gulf as well as Mesopotamia,
- Based on this evidence found, it has been said that Ancestral Dravidian languages were possibly spoken by a significant population in the Indus Valley civilization.
What is the evidence the researchers have found?
- The researchers have analyzed linguistic, and historical evidence to learn how some words in ancient Persian records match with proto-Dravidian language.
- For example, words used for elephant -pri, pru -and for ivory -pirus in the ancient Persian records were originally derived from ‘plu’, a proto-Dravidian term for the mammal.
- Similarly, several Indic words refer to the ‘Salvadora persica’ as pilu.
- Salvadora Persica is better known as the toothbrush tree in the western world and as ‘Miswak’ in Arabic-speaking countries, since its branches are used as natural toothbrushes).
- This suggests that just like the elephant word- pilu, the name used for the tree too is rooted in the proto-Dravidian word for tooth.
A new species of cascade frog has been discovered recently in-
WHY IN NEWS?
Recently, a team of researchers have discovered a new species of cascade frog in Arunachal Pradesh named Adi Cascade Frog.
- It is a predominantly brown colour frog, with a size ranging roughly between 4 cm to 7 cm.
- It is formally described as Amolops adicolasp.nov. which is morphologically distinguished from its congeners by a suite of characters that include adult size, body colouration and markings, skin texture, snout shape, foot webbing and digit tip morphology.
- It has been named Adi Cascade Frog (Amolops Adicola) after the indigenous Adi tribe living in the Adi hills of Arunachal Pradesh. The literal meaning of Adi is “hill” or “mountain top.
- Historically, this region was also known as Abor hills.
- Cascade frogs are named so because of their preference of small waterfalls or cascades in flowing hill streams.
- Cascade Frogs belong to the genus Amolops.
- The genus Amolops is one of the largest groups of ranid frogs (family Ranidae) with currently 73 known species that are widely distributed across Northeast and North India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, through Indochina, to the Malay Peninsula.
Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council is a militant organisation active in-
WHY IN NEWS?
Recently, a former militant of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), was killed in a police encounter that has led to a crisis in Meghalaya.
- Meghalaya shares a border with Bangladesh and has seen decades of migration from the neighbouring country as well as from other parts of India – Bengal, Punjab and Bihar.
- This has sparked anxieties of indigenous communities who feared becoming a “minority in their own homeland” because of the influx of “outsiders”.
- It was a culmination of these “anti-outsider sentiments” that led to the formation of Meghalaya’s first militant group, the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALP), in 1992.
- Hynniewtrep represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and Achik represented the Garo community.
- HALC was later divided and HNLC came into being that represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army that represented the Garo community.
- The Achik Matgrik Liberation Army was later replaced by the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC).
- HNLC claimed to represent only the interest of Khasi Communities, whereas, the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army demanded a separate state for the Garo community.
Present Status of militancy in Meghalaya:
- The ANVC since 2004 has been under an extended ceasefire agreement with the government while the HNLC has been trying to talk peace with the government but on a conditional basis.
- Over the last several years, militancy in Meghalaya was seen as declining.
- In 2018, the Centre withdrew the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya after almost 27 years of witnessing a decline by 80% in insurgency-related incidents.