Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 21, 2018)
1. M.S. Subbulakshmi Awards: entries invited
Aspiring classical singers now have an opportunity to exhibit their talent and win the prestigious Voice of the Year 2018 award. Entries are invited for the 7th edition of the M.S. Subbulakshmi Awards from young Carnatic vocalists. The event is being organised by The Hindu along with the music company Sa Re Ga Ma as a tribute to the renowned singer. Participants aged between 18 and 26 can record their voice not exceeding 15 minutes and submit it on or before October 22. The CDs could be sent to M.S. Subbulakshmi Award 2018 c/o Sa Re Ga Ma, Kasi Arcade, III Floor, 116 Theagaraya Road, T Nagar, Chennai 17, along with their name, age, address and contact number. The same may be e-mailed to email@example.com The regional winners will compete in a grand finale in Chennai, which is expected to be held in November.The Title Sponsor is Nalli Chinnasami Chetty.
2. Sri Lankan projects delayed: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday discussed the progress of a number of pending development projects, with the former expressing “concern” over delays, said a press release issued by the Sri Lankan PM’s office. “Mr. Narendra Modi has expressed his concern over the implementation of Indo-Sri Lanka joint development projects in accordance with the MoU signed between India and Sri Lanka in 2017 … Mr. Modi said he was not satisfied with the response he had received from the Sri Lankan government to his overtures,” said the release in Sinhala. India’s completed projects in Sri Lanka have been largely in the housing sector, and according to the release, Mr. Modi, during the meeting, agreed to finance another 10,000 homes for tea estate workers. The pending projects include an LNG terminal in Kerawalapitiya near Colombo, a 50-100 MW solar power plant in Sampur, an oil tank farm in Trincomalee and a container terminal in the Colombo port. There has been little word on a proposal for India to develop the Palaly airport near Jaffna and the Mattala airport near Hambantota. The preferential trade treaty, Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement, still awaits clearances as it faces opposition from Sri Lankan business chambers. Mr. Wickremesinghe has been pushing for India to be handed the container terminal, while President Sirisena wants to retain it for Sri Lanka. At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, they are said to have openly aired their differences.
3. PM to unveil National Police Memorial today
In 2016, constable Balen Harizan took a bullet to his jaw during a fierce encounter with the Maoists in the dense forests of Jharkhand. Despite the injury, Harizan, a commando of the Central Reserve Police Force, carried on undeterred to help his colleagues chase a group of rebels hiding in the area. He was rushed to a nearby health centre but was declared dead on arrival. Gallant acts like that of Harizan will now find mention at the National Police Memorial that would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. The memorial is in recognition of the sacrifice made by nearly 35,000 police personnel killed in action since Independence. A 30-foot granite pillar, weighing around 238 tonnes, has been installed at Chanakyapuri in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi to honour the policemen. The sculpture has been conceptualised by Advaita Gadanayak of the National Gallery of Modern Art. The stones to construct the pillar were sourced from Khammam in Telengana. The memorial will also have a ‘Wall of Valour’, engraved with the names of police personnel, including those killed in the 1965 India-Pak war, the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 and the 2001 Parliament attack. The Prime Minister will also unveil the country’s first national police museum.
4. Water flow eases in Arunachal’s Siang
People residing on the banks of the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh heaved a sigh of relief on Saturday, as water overflowing from a landslip-induced barrier across the river upstream in China eased within 14 hours. Beijing had informed New Delhi that the natural overflow from the barrier in Yaluzangbu (Tsangpo) occurred at 2.30 p.m. on Friday and the discharge was 18,000 cubic metres per second. The barrier was formed soon after a landslip at Jiala village in Milin county of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China on October 17. The Tsangpo flows into Arunachal Pradesh as the Siang, which meets two other rivers to form the Brahmaputra downstream in Assam. Soon after the Central Water Commission issued an alert about the Tsangpo barrier breach, Arunachal Pradesh’s Disaster Management Secretary, Bidol Tayeng, instructed the authorities of districts that the Siang passes through to take precautionary measures.
5. Red Fort to witness another flag hoisting
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join a flag-hoisting ceremony at the Red Fort on Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of the ‘Azad Hind government’ headed by Subhas Chandra Bose. Interacting with BJP workers via video-conference on Wednesday, Mr. Modi announced his plans to attend the ceremony. Traditionally, the Prime Minister hoists the Tricolour at the Red Fort on Independence Day. Mr. Modi said that while the Congress neglected great personalities such as Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Bose and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the BJP believed in remembering everybody who contributed to nation-building. On October 21, 1943, Bose announced the formation of the country’s first independent government.
6. Existing drug can be used for treating gallbladder cancer
By sequencing the whole exome of 44 early-stage gallbladder cancer samples taken from patients, researchers at Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, have been able to identify the mutations that cause the cancer. More importantly, based on the genomic analysis, the team has made it possible for clinicians to know in advance which gallbladder cancer patients are likely to benefit from a particular therapy that is currently being used for treating colorectal cancer. Though rare globally, there is high incidence of gallbladder cancer in India and China. Yet, there are almost no treatment options available. This is now set to change. A team led by Dr. Amit Dutt from the Integrated Cancer Genomics Laboratory at ACTREC, TMC found that in about 40% of samples sequenced, a particular signalling pathway (ErbB/HER) was significantly altered either by mutation or by having multiple gene copies. Changes in the gene copy number in the ErbB family of receptor pathway are responsible for causing colorectal cancer too. The ERbB pathway belongs to the EGFR family. And in the case of gallbladder cancer, the ErbB2 binds to EGFR to activate the pathway. So the anti-EGFR therapy currently being used for treating colorectal cancer can potentially be used in gallbladder patients to stop the growth of cancer. Based on studies carried out in the laboratory, it is likely that the drug will inhibit the spread of gallbladder cancer. This becomes particularly important as gallbladder cancer is an aggressive disease — it spreads (metastasis) rapidly and the five-year survival rate is only about 20%.
The KRAS mutations are of two types — G13D and G12V. “The G12V mutation is the strongest activating mutation. So patients who have this [G12V] mutation will not respond to the anti-EGFR therapy, while those who have the G13D mutation will partially respond to treatment,” he says. And patients with G13D mutation are sixfold more likely to respond to treatment compared with G12V mutation. Patients who do not have any of the two KRAS mutations will 100% respond to the therapy. The researchers validated the ability of the drug to treat gallbladder cancer using a mouse model. Tumours were induced in mice by transplanting human gallbladder cancer cells. Three sets of cancer cells were transplanted. In one, cancer cells with only the ErbB2 mutation were transplanted. The second set of mice received cancer cells with ErbB2 mutation and G13D mutation. The third set of mice received cancer cells with ErbB2 mutation and G12V mutation. The drug was administered orally. All the mice with only the ErbB2 mutation were successfully treated, while a few with ErbB2 mutations and G13D were treated. However, mice with ErbB2 and G12V mutations did not respond to treatment.
7. NCCR develops system to estimate, predict flooding within Chennai
In 2015, unprecedented and sudden floods paralysed Chennai with over 18 lakh people being displaced. Following this, at the behest of the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to government of India, research institutions, chief among them the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Chennai, and IITs, got together to build a flood warning system customised for use in Chennai. Carrying the acronym C-FLOWS, which stands for Chennai FLOod Warning System, the six-module ensemble can predict flooding due to heavy rainfall, sea-level rise and increase in water levels of the three rivers — Cooum, Adyar and Kosasthalaiyar — that traverse the city.
“The State government shared data such as ward boundaries, population details, infrastructure available across Tamil Nadu, which have been used in the warning system,” says M. V. Ramana Murthy, Director, NCCR. The topography data was obtained from the Indian Remote Sensing programme. “Next we plan to develop such a system for Mumbai city and Cochin area,” he adds. Knowing the elevation at different spots, the system can predict the way the area would flood based on different scenarios that have been simulated. Inputs were taken from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on forecast and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), which gives the prediction for rain 10 days in advance. Similarly, INCOIS gives the hydrodynamic congestion such as storm surge and tide etc. Using this, the system can, two weeks ahead of the event, simulate the scenario. “The system can predict what would happen at the level of individual wards,” says Tune Usha, scientist with the NCCR and one of the key persons behind the development of C-FLOWS. “We can now apply it to the Greater Chennai Corporation area of 462 sq. km,” she adds. Thus, early warnings could be issued. “The flood itself cannot be avoided, but it can be managed and the disaster mitigated,” says Dr Usha. The spatial database of the city which contains all administrative layers, details of ward boundaries, infrastructure, details of elevations and surfaces, soil, land use, geomorphology and census datasets are contained in the first module. There are many precomputed scenarios of flooding based on the forecast rainfall and tidal conditions, in a library. From this the most appropriate one may be selected for superimposing on the geomorphology. The second module has to do with this precisely. Simultaneously, models can also be run in real time based on actual datasets. Over this can be overlaid details of storm water drains and drainage fractions to enable pre-flood planning operations. The 3D visualisation module makes possible a realistic visualisation of the flooding in various places such as infrastructure, buildings, roads, ward boundaries etc, by superimposing the model outputs on the layers of data.
Data from IMD, NCMRWF, INCOIS and Tamil Nadu State government are brought together in an online hub along with the field data and the remote sensing data to observe the situation in real time. This is the fourth module. Authorised personnel can use a mobile app, which has been developed alongside, to collect data from flooded areas such as geotagged photographs and add to the database. This fifth module helps capture the ground reality and provide primary information for decision makers to plan relief and mitigation operations. The last aspect is a decision support system: this is an online GIS query portal which can answer questions on quantum of flooding in specific localities, flood proximity, for example, it can say which roads are inundated and suggest routes for planning relief operations and so on. According to Dr. K Satyagopal, Principal Secretary and Commissioner, Revenue Administration and Disaster management, C-FLOWS will be integrated with TN-SMART, a portal being developed by his department.
8. Native shade trees better for carbon storage
The exotic silver oak may be coffee growers’ preferred shade tree now, but research shows that it affects carbon sequestration and tree diversity in Kodagu’s agroforest systems. Kodagu’s coffee farms were created when farmers cleared forest undergrowth and started growing coffee under the shade of giant evergreen trees. This ‘native shade’ coffee is still prevalent in the district, but evergreen trees are quickly losing out to the fast-growing silver oak. Farmers do not need permission from forest officials to lop or cut silver oak; this also contributes to its popularity. However, old forest trees make up a huge portion of carbon stocks here, and carbon stocks matter because the higher the carbon contained in vegetation, the more it helps with mitigating climate change.
To find out if carbon stocks change when silver oak takes over, a team including scientist Manjunatha Munishamappa from Bengaluru’s Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute studied a total of 49 native and exotic agroforestry systems – where either robusta (which needs more sunlight) or arabica coffee varieties are grown – near 18 forest patches that fall under both moderate and high rainfall zones. In each plot (all spread across 22 locations along the Cauvery river in Kodagu), the researchers quantified shade tree species diversity and the amount of organic carbon sequestered in the trees by measuring wood, root, litter and soil biomass. Across all plots, the researchers identified a total of 86 native tree species; and the total carbon stocks rose with increasing tree diversity. Native trees in coffee estates and forests displayed high and comparable carbon stocks (approximately 193 and 222 megagrams (Mg) of carbon (C) per hectare respectively) as well as tree diversity (around 45 tree species). However, the introduction of silver oak negatively impacted both carbon stock and diversity. Predictably, robusta coffee estates with silver oaks had significantly lower tree diversity (nine species) and lower carbon stocks (up to an average of 65 MgC per hectare) than all other land-use systems in both precipitation zones.
Hence, the current trend of replacing native shade trees in coffee estates with silver oaks is detrimental for carbon storage and tree diversity, especially in robusta farms. Current policies do play a role in this change, because the exotics can be cut for timber without prior permission.
9. Bacteria to degrade toluene
Using bacteria isolated from soil and effluents near an oil refinery, researchers from the University of Delhi and Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi, have successfully degraded toluene into less-toxic byproducts. Toluene is one of the petrochemical wastes that get released without treatment from industries such as refineries, paint, textile, paper and rubber. Toluene has been reported to cause serious health problems to aquatic life, and studies point that it has genotoxic and carcinogenic effects on human beings. To the soil and effluent samples containing some bacteria 100 mg/L of toluene was added and incubated for four weeks. The bacteria were isolated from the samples, identified and studied for their toluene-degrading abilities. They isolated eight to 10 strains of bacteria and found that a particular bacteria Acinetobacter junii showed good degrading potential — about 80% of toluene (50 ppm) in a liquid medium was degraded within 72 hours.
10. Largest galaxy
An international team of astronomers has found a gigantic structure in the early universe, 2 billion years after the Big Bang. This supercluster Hyperion is the most massive one to be discovered at such a remote time and distance.
11. Open-minded cuttlefish
Cuttlefish think on their skin according to new research. Known to camouflage themselves quickly, these animals have found a shortcut from the brain to the chromatophores on their skin that form patterns as soon as they see danger.
12. Roving stars
Twenty stars nearby are moving so fast that they are no longer bound by their galaxies. Seven of these are moving away from the Milky Way’s disc and 13 originated elsewhere and were actually ejected or tidally stripped from nearby dwarf galaxies.
13. Novel antibiotic
U.S. regulators earlier this month approved a modernised version of a decades-old antibiotic used to treat a number of infections. Boston-based Paratek Pharmaceuticals’ Nuzyra has been designed to overcome the problem of resistance to tetracycline. The company has said the Food and Drug Administration has approved Nuzyra for treating bacterial pneumonia and severe skin infections. Paratek plans to launch the antibiotic early next year, initially for use in hospitals. It has not disclosed the price. The company estimates that its drug could eventually treat nearly 900,000 hospitalised patients in the U.S. annually. About two million Americans get infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year and 23,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Paratek’s drug, also known as omadacycline, is the first in a new class of antibiotics. It Is an updated version of tetracycline, a 65-year-old antibiotic that was a workhorse against skin, respiratory and other infections until increasing resistance limited its use. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department also announced at the United Nations General Assembly recently a new global effort to fight antibiotic resistance and develop new treatments.
14. New system to screen drug candidates
Researchers in the U.S. have developed a cryptographic system that could help neural networks identify promising drug candidates in massive pharmacological datasets, while keeping the data private. Secure computation done at such a massive scale could enable broad pooling of sensitive pharmacological data for predictive drug discovery. Datasets of drug-target interactions (DTI), which show whether candidate compounds act on target proteins, are critical in helping researchers develop new medications. Models can be trained to crunch datasets of known DTIs and then, using that information, find novel drug candidates. In a paper the researchers have described a neural network securely trained and tested on a dataset of more than a million DTIs. They have also identified several novel interactions, including one between the leukaemia drug imatinib and an enzyme ErbB4 (mutations of which have been associated with cancer) which could have clinical significance. The findings have been published in Science.
15. Cell mutations accelerate in middle age
By the time we reach middle age, more than half of the oesophagus in healthy people has been taken over by cells carrying mutations in cancer genes, scientists in the U.K. have uncovered. The results show how mutant cells mutate and compete with each other throughout life, and only the fittest mutations survive. For the first time, scientists have uncovered that on average, healthy cells in the oesophagus carry at least several hundred mutations per cell in people in their twenties, rising to over 2,000 mutations per cell later in life. Only mutations in a dozen or so genes seem to matter however, as these give the cells a competitive advantage by allowing them to take over the tissue and form a dense patchwork of mutations. The team used targeted and whole-genome sequencing to map groups of mutant cells in normal oesophageal tissue from nine individuals aged 20 to 75 years. The findings have been published in Science.
16. Gene for miscarriages
A single gene of the mother plays such a crucial role in the development of the placenta that its dysfunction leads to miscarriages. Researchers in Germany observed this in so-called ‘knockout mice’ that were specifically modified for this purpose. These mice lack the gene for a transcription factor called Math6. Transcription factors regulate the expression of downstream genes. Math6 plays a significant role in a number of organs during prenatal development as well as in the adult organism. The knockout mice generated lacked the gene for the transcription factor Math6. It was assumed that embryonic development is disrupted when Math6 is switched off. Not true, say the researchers. However, embryos and foetuses die due to placenta problems. The development of the placenta, which is made up from maternal and foetal tissue, is vital for supplying the embryos. The findings appear in Scientific Reports.
17. What is a vampire burial?
Normally, this is a reference you would find in Gothic novels or discussions on medieval mythology. Archaeologists have found ancient skulls with a rock clamped between the jaws, and this was supposedly done to prevent the dead from returning as vampires. However, the recent discovery of a body of a 10-year-old at an ancient Roman site in Italy suggests measures were taken to prevent the child, possibly infected with malaria, from rising from the dead and spreading disease to the living. The skeletal remains, which were uncovered by archaeologists from the University of Arizona and Stanford University, along with archaeologists from Italy, included a skull with a rock intentionally inserted into the mouth. It is also called the ‘Vampire of Lugnano’. — Science Daily
18. Nicotine exposure in men can affect their children
While women have long been warned about the dangers of smoking during pregnancy, far less has been known about risks for offspring of men who smoke. A study in the U.S., in mice, produced results that suggest nicotine exposure in men could lead to cognitive deficits in their children and grandchildren. Further studies will be required to know if the same outcomes seen in mice would apply to humans. The study found that changes in the father’s sperm attributed to nicotine exposure led to problems in genes that play a role in memory and learning. These epigenetic changes are believed to be temporary though some could be long lasting. The results have been published in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.
Book – Interrogating My Chandal Life Writer – Manoranjan Byapari, Translated by Sipra Mukherjee Description – Manoranjan Byapari’s powerful, affecting memoir is about hunger and deprivation, and also endurance, struggle and a fierce will to live Book – The Barcelona Legacy: Guardiola, Mourinho and the Fight For Football’s Soul Writer – Jonathan Wilson Description – Johan Cruyff’s idealism or hard tactics, two top English Premier League coaches bring past knowledge into their present game Book – The Jobs Crisis in India Writer – Raghavan Jagannathan Description – A survey of the extent of the jobs problem in India Book – What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape Writer – Sohaila Abdulali Description – A #MeToo story, told with grace, compassion and courage Book – The Paradoxical Prime Minister Writer – Shashi Tharoor Description – Who is the real Narendra Modi? A selfless leader or an autocratic person who believes in converting India into a Hindu Rashtra? Or something in between? This is an acute study of the Prime Minister and the effect his governance has had on society, major institutions, the economy, foreign policy and our fundamental values. Book – India Ahead: 2025 and Beyond Writer – Bimal Jalan Description – The former RBI governor points out that there is no doubt India has opportunities to accelerate its growth rate further, to 8% or more. But to realise its full potential in the new global environment, he says India must make decisive moves towards deeper reforms and reduce the pervasive and procedural political and administrative bottlenecks. Book – The New Silk Roads Writer – Peter Frankopan Description – A historian brings his book, The Silk Roads, up to date, addressing the present and future of a world that is changing. Following the Silk Roads eastwards, from Europe through to China, by way of Russia and West Asia, he highlights the interconnected world we live in. He takes into account Brexit, Donald Trump, Russia, Afghanistan, Syria and so forth. Book – The Great War Writer – Rakhshanda Jalil Description – The Great War, as World War I was referred to, saw the service of over 1.3 million Indians, of whom 74,000 never made it back home. Soldiers from the Indian subcontinent won over 12,908 awards for bravery yet this unprecedented show of valour remains largely unsung. This volume brings together diverse voices and their response to the War. Book – A Naga Odyssey: My Long Way Home Writer – Visier Meyasetsu Sanyu Description – In 1956, when Sanyu was five years old, he and his fellow villagers fled Khonoma from the Indian army into the jungles of Nagaland. He emerged from there three years later to a place altered by civil war and oppression. This story tracks his journey from villager to professor, capturing the Naga quest to be free.
20. Praveen bids adieu
Veteran India pacer Praveen Kumar retired from all forms of cricket on Saturday. The 32-year-old from Meerut, who represented India in 84 matches between 2007 and 2012, took 112 wickets in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. He played a key role in India’s title win in the Commonwealth Bank ODI tri-series in Australia in 2008. In the IPL, he played for KXIP, RCB, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Gujarat Lions.
21. All set for ODI debut
The Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Cricket Stadium is set to make its ODI debut, with the India-West Indies encounter here on Sunday. The India-Australia T20, held in October last year, was the first international match at the stadium. A big crowd is expected to watch the action on Sunday. “The stadium capacity is 37,500. Apart from around 1,500-2,000 high denomination tickets, the rest of the seats filled up quickly,” an Assam Cricket Association (ACA) official said. A huge police presence was seen during the training sessions held on Saturday. “Last year, someone threw a stone at the Australian team bus. We want to take all security precautions to avoid a repeat of such incidents,” the official said. Cricket matches in the city, both international and domestic, were held at Nehru Stadium earlier. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Governor Jagdish Mukhi will attend the match. The ACA has invited former India captain and Cricket Association of Bengal president Saurav Ganguly as a guest of honour.
22. Mauritania clinches Golden Jubilee Cup
Mauritania (Sandesh up), won the Mysore Race Club Golden Jubilee Cup, the feature event of the races held here on Saturday (Oct 20). The winner is owned by Mr. M. Rishad, Poonawalla Racing & Breeders Pvt Ltd & Mr. P.J. Vazifdar and trained by S. Padmanabhan.
National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR)
24. Things to Remember:
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani
25. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Bring about or initiate (an action or event) Example – ‘I will be instigating legal proceedings’ Synonyms – set in motion, put in motion, get under way, get going, get off the ground, get in operation, start, begin, initiate, launch, institute, lay the foundations of, lay the first stone of, sow the seeds of, set up, inaugurate, found, establish, put in place, organize, get working, get functioning, activate Meaning 1.1 – instigate someone to/to do something Incite someone to do something, especially something bad. Example – ‘instigating men to refuse allegiance to the civil powers’ Synonyms – incite, encourage, urge, goad, provoke, spur on, drive on, egg on, entice, stimulate, push, press, prod, prompt, induce, impel, prevail upon, constrain, motivate, make, influence, persuade, sway