UPSC Prelims News of 16 February 2023
Context: The Equatorial Guinea has confirmed its first outbreak of the highly infectious Marburg Virus Disease.
What is Marburg Virus Disease (MVD)?
- Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) is a severe illness that causes viral haemorrhagic fever in humans (it was formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever).
- The virus was first identified after simultaneous outbreaks in Frankfurt and Marburg, Germany, from where it derives its name and Belgrade, Serbia in 1967.
- Those first infected were exposed to Ugandan imported African green monkeys or their tissues.
- A person infected with the virus experiences sudden illness with symptoms like high fever, severe headache and discomfort.
How Does MVD Spread?
- Like Ebola, the Marburg virus is transmitted to primates from bats which are considered natural hosts of the virus.
- It spreads among humans via direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected bats, or surfaces contaminated with fluids, like bedsheets and clothes.
- The disease can also spread during burial ceremonies if there is direct contact with the body of the deceased.
- Both the Marburg and Ebola viruses belong to the Filoviridae family and the diseases caused by the two present clinical similarities.
Is MVD Curable?
- The virus takes between two and 21 days to incubate.
- As of now, there are no authorised vaccines or drugs to treat the Marburg virus disease.
- According to the WHO, rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms can improve chances of survival.
Context: A new research of meteorites suggests that some of the well-known volatiles may have come from outer solar system, i.e. from beyond the region of Jupiter planet.
- Volatiles are elements or compounds that change from solid or liquid state into vapour at relatively low temperatures.
- Planetary scientists often classify volatiles with exceptionally low melting points.
- The most common volatiles include carbon dioxide, nitrogen, ammonia, hydrogen, methane, sulfur dioxide and water.
- Without the contribution of outer Solar System material, the Earth would have had fewer concentrations of volatiles, making the planet drier and potentially unable to nourish and sustain life.
- Significance of Volatiles:
- They play a major role in pollinator attraction by terrestrial plants and as insect pheromones, becoming a mediating agent of so-called ‘tritrophic interactions’.
- In Geology, they play a major role in magmatic differentiation, collection of ore-forming materials, the heat budget of igneous bodies, fracturing of surrounding rocks, and emplacement.
- Deep volatiles play critical roles in driving volcanic and plate tectonic processes on our plane.
Context: Recently, RBI granted in-principal authorization to 32 entities to operate as online payment aggregators.
- Payment Aggregators (PAs) are entities that facilitate e-commerce sites and merchants in accepting payment instruments from the customers for completion of their payment obligations.
- Online payment aggregators are entities that onboard digital merchants and accept payments on their behalf after getting a license from the banking regulator.
- Non-bank PAs will require authorization from the RBI under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (PSSA).
- A Payment Aggregator should be a company incorporated in India under the Companies Act, 1956 / 2013.
- Banks provide Payment Aggregator services as part of their normal banking relationship and do not, therefore, require a separate authorization from RBI.
- PGs will be considered as ‘technology providers’ or ‘outsourcing partners’ of banks or non-banks, as the case may be.
Context: Recently, Arthanariswara Sivalinga dating back to the 4th Century found at Pedakonduru in Guntur District.
- Anandeswara temple was built in the 4th century CE by the Anandagotris.
- Dynasty ruled from Chejarla and Kantheru in the Guntur district and installed the Sivalinga carved with a small image of Arthanariswara, representing half Siva and half Parvati on its front side.
- Linga carved with a sculpture of Arthanariswara was the only one of its kind in the entire country.
- Individual sculptures of Arthanariswara are found from the Kushana times (one such example dated to the 1st century CE, now in Mathura Museum) but not on Sivalinga.
- Brahma, Saraswati, Mahishamardini, and Surya sculptures scattered on the premises of the temple datable to the 12th century CE and inscriptions dated 1170 CE, 1173 CE, and 1317 CE.
Krishi Udan 2.0 Scheme
Context: Krishi Udan Scheme 2.0 is expected to increase the share of air carriage of Agri-produce like horticulture, fishery, livestock, and processed products.
- Krishi UDAN was launched on international and national routes to assist farmers in transporting agricultural products so that it improves their value realization.
- Krishi Udan Scheme 2.0 enhances the existing provisions, mainly focusing on transporting perishable food products from the hilly areas, North-Eastern States, and tribal areas.
- All the airports in the NER States including Assam are covered under the Scheme.
- The main objective of the Krishi Udan Scheme 2.0 is to increase the share of air carriage in the modal mix for transportation of Agri-produce, which includes horticulture, fishery, livestock, and processed products.
- The Scheme aims to ensure seamless, cost-effective, time-bound air transportation and associated logistics for all Agri-produce originating especially from North East (including Assam), hilly and tribal regions of the country.
- Krishi Udan Scheme is a convergence scheme where eight Ministries/Departments namely Ministry of Civil Aviation, Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Department of Commerce, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Development of North-eastern Region (DoNER) would leverage their existing schemes to strengthen the logistics for transportation of Agri-produce.
Context: Recent studies have observed that Ayurvedic herbals and supplements are well documented causes for severe liver and kidney injury, sometimes leading to death or organ transplantation.
- Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago.
- The word Ayurveda derived from AYU and VEDA. AYU means life, VEDA means science or knowledge, Ayurveda means the science of life.
- It is based on the belief that good health depends on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
- It is divided into three main branches
- Nara Ayurveda: dealing with human life.
- Satva Ayurveda: dealing with animal life and its diseases.
- Vriksha Ayurveda: dealing with plant life, its growth and diseases.
- Ayurvedic medicine uses a holistic approach to diagnose and treat illness, emphasizing the use of natural remedies through medicinal herbs, lifestyle modifications, and dietary changes to promote overall well-being.
- While Ayurveda is considered a complementary or alternative medicine in the West, it is an important part of traditional medicine in India and continues to be practiced by millions of people around the world.
- In March 2013, the AYUSH Department came out with guidelines for Good Clinical Practices for Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) medicines.
Vibrant Villages Programme
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the “Vibrant Villages Programme” (VVP) for the Financial Years 2022-23 to 2025-26 with financial allocation of Rs. 4800 Crore.
About the Scheme:
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme that will provide funds for development of essential infrastructure and creation of livelihood opportunities in 19 Districts and 46 Border blocks 4 states and 1 UT along the northern land border of the country.
- This will help in achieving inclusive growth and retaining the population in the border areas.
- The scheme aids to identify and develop the economic drivers based on local natural human and other resources of these border villages.
- The development of growth centres are on “Hub and Spoke Model” through promotion of social entrepreneurship, empowerment of youth and women through skill development and entrepreneurship, leveraging the tourism potential.
- This is done through promotion of local cultural, traditional knowledge and heritage and development of sustainable eco-agribusinesses on the concept of “One village-One product” through community based organisations, Cooperatives, SHGs, NGOs etc.
- In the first phase 663 Villages will be taken up in the programme.
- Vibrant Village Action Plans will be created by the district administration with the help of Gram Panchayats.
- Key outcomes expected: connectivity with all weather road, drinking water, 24×7 electricity – Solar and wind energy, mobile and internet connectivity, tourist centers, multi-purpose centers and health and wellness Centers.
- There will not be overlap with Border Area Development Programme. Out of financial allocation of Rs. 4800 Crore 2500 crore rupees will be used for roads.
Liquid Nano Urea
Context: Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers has inaugurated IFFCO Nano Urea Liquid Plants at Aonla and Phulpur in UP
About Nano Urea
- Nano Urea is essentially urea in the form of a nano-particle.
- Urea is a chemical nitrogen fertiliser which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
- The size of a nano nitrogen particle varies from 20-50 nm. (A nanometre is equal to a billionth of a metre.)
Significance of Nano Urea
- Reduce use of fertilisers: It is aimed at reducing the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea, increase crop productivity, and reduce soil, water, and air pollution.
- High Efficiency: While conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25 per cent, the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90 per cent.
- It is proven to increase the crop yield by an average of 8 per cent along with improving the quality of farm produce by providing better nutrition to crops.
- Low Cost: Costing proposition of nano urea liquid should make it more favourable over conventional urea as its 500 ml bottle will be priced at Rs 240.
- Better Absorption: Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.
- Sustainable: Upon penetration, these nano-particles reach plant parts where nitrogen is required and release nutrients in a controlled manner, thereby reducing usage while also reducing wastage into the environment.