UPSC Prelims News of 26 December 2022
Context: The number of registered manufacturers of Joynagar Moa (Jaynagarer Moa) has witnessed a massive rise.
About Joynagar Moa:
- Origin: This variety of Moa originated in Jaynagar of the South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal.
- The moa is a popped-rice ball held together using fresh date-palm jaggery. Its manufacture is synonymous with Joynagar, a settlement on the outskirts of Kolkata.
- The sweet has earned the Geographical Indication tag of Joynagar Moa in 2015.
- Ingredients: The sweet is prepared using aromatic Kanakchur khoi (popped rice) that is mixed with nolen gur (date palm jaggery), sugar, cashew nuts and raisins.
- Issues with the product:
- The sweet has a short shelf life, lasting not more than five days without refrigeration. This has prevented its large-scale exports.
- The main ingredients (Kanakchur khoi and nolen gur) are available only during the winter months between November and January. Thus, business is restricted to only these months.
- High quality date palm jaggery is not easily available, which increases the cost of the sweet.
Context: Ladakh celebrated Losar Festival on December 24, to mark the Ladakhi New Year.
About Losar Festival:
- Losar is the major socio-religious festival of Ladakh celebrated in winter every year. It is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar.
- Origin of term: The term ‘Losar’ means New Year in the Tibetan language. ‘Lo’ means year and ‘Sar’ means new.
- The festival involves the lighting of prayer lamps, illumination of buildings, houses and religious places.
- A procession called Metho is carried out on the eve of Losar through the streets, markets, and lanes where people chant sacred slogans and carry flaming torches.
- Festivities: The festivities continue for nine more days from the New Year with the offering of prayers in the name of God and Goddess, dances and songs in honour of Ibex and the pilgrimage of Mount Kailash.
- The New Year is welcomed with dough Models of Ibex Sun and Moon and flour-painted lucky signs on the walls of the kitchen.
- The third day of the festival is marked with the sighting of first moon of the year with a prayer for bumper crops in the coming year.
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised that India will soon eradicate Kala Azar disease.
About Kala Azar Disease
- Spread: Kala-azar or Visceral Leishmaniasis is a protozoan parasitic disease, spread by sandfly bites. Sandflies are brown in colour and have hairs on their bodies.
- The flies are infected with the parasite called ‘leishmania donovani’.
- Effects: According to the WHO, there are 3 main forms of leishmaniases of which kala-azar is the most serious form.
- The disease affects some of the poorest people and is linked to malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and a lack of financial resources.
- Leishmaniasis is also linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, and urbanisation, according to WHO.
- Vulnerable areas: In 2020, more than 90 per cent of new cases reported to WHO occurred in 10 countries: Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
Symptoms of Kala-Azar
- Irregular bouts of fever over many days, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia are known symptoms.
- The skin may become dry, thin and scaly in patches and hair may be lost.
- As per the National Centre for Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NCVBDC), in people with a light skin tone, greyish discolouration of the skin of hands, feet, abdomen and face may be seen, that is why the disease is also called “Black fever”.
- Leishmaniasis is a treatable and curable disease, which requires an immunocompetent system and thus those having a weak immune system are prone to get severely affected.
- All patients diagnosed require prompt and complete treatment.
India and kala-azar
- The disease is endemic in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
- According to data from NCVBDC, an estimated 165.4 million people are at risk.
- Progress in India: There has been a significant decline in cases over the years.
- Union Government of India has set the target to eliminate Kala-azar from country by 2023.
Organic Solar Cells
Context: Researchers at IIT Kanpur have demonstrated a project where organic solar cells developed on steel substrates can potentially convert a steel roof into an energy-producing device.
What are Organic Solar Cells?
- They are the third generation of solar cell technology, and also known as organic photovoltaic cells (OPV).
- An organic solar cell uses organic polymers or small organic molecules for light absorption and electricity production by the photovoltaic effect.
- They are highly powerful when it comes to absorbing the light from the sun.
- Incredibly lightweight, can cover a much larger area, and also has low manufacturing costs.
- They can convert solar energy into electrical energy at rates that are far more efficient than any other form of solar cell technology such as silicon cells.
- Less adverse environmental impact as they are potentially disposable.
- Low stability and low strength compared to inorganic photovoltaic cells such as silicon solar cells.
- They experience substantial photochemical degradation, resulting in low durability.