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Prelims Bits (3rd Week)

Economy:

Index of Industrial Production grows at record high 22.4%

  • Context:India’s factory output (IIP) shot up 22.4% in March while retail inflation eased to a three month low of 4.29%
  • About: As favorable base effects kicked in giving a false sense of normalcy even as the rampaging second wave of coronavirus pandemic and Slow vaccine rollout are widely expected to delay any meaningful economic revival in Asia’s third largest economy
  • A spurt in coronavirus cases forced the government to impose a nationwide lockdown.
  • This led to economic growth collapsing to a 23.9% in June quarter with core sector contracting for six consecutive months from March to August of 2020.
  • Indian economy plunged into its deepest recession in FY21 in more than 40 years contracting 8% as the first wave of the pandemic took a heavy toll on both services and manufacturing activity with massive job losses.
  • In March last year, the index of industrial production (IIP) had contracted 18.3% as factories had reduced operations with rising cases of coronavirus
  • It’s more meaningful to compare the industrial performance in March 2021 with March 2019, which reveals a mild albeit sobering contraction of 0.5%.
  • “It is a composite indicator that measures the short term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period.
  • Since these eight industries are the essential “basic” and/or “intermediate” ingredient in the functioning of the broader economy, mapping their health provides a fundamental understanding of the state of the economy.
  • In other words, if these eight industries are not growing fast enough, the rest of the economy is unlikely to either
  • Growth numbers from April to August will be impressive as there were five successive negative growth rates last year.Hence we should be guarded in our interpretation.
  • Retail inflation for the month of April softened to 4.29%.The April figures show a decline from March’s 5.52% which was a four-month high but within the RBI’s tolerance band of 2-6%.
  • Prices rose at a slower pace in April primarily on account of benign food prices.

Polity:

SachinWaze Permanently Terminated from Police Service – What is Article 311 of Indian Constitution?

  • Context: The Mumbai Police Commissioner Nagrale issued an order terminating SachinWaze from police services under Article 311 (2) (b)
  • About: Article 311 (2) (b) clause of Article 311 of the Indian Constitution has been invoked by the Mumbai Police Commissioner HemantNagrale in Waze’s case.
  • Nagrale stated in writing that he is vested with the authority and is satisfied that it is not reasonably practical to conduct a departmental enquiry against Waze.
  • Article 311 of the Indian Constitution serves as a safeguard for civil servants that provides them with an opportunity to respond to the charges against them in a departmental enquiry to avoid dismissal from service.
  • Article 311 (1) states that no government employee of All-India Services or a State government shall be dismissed by an authority subordinate to them.
  • Article 311 (2) states that no civil servant shall be removed or dismissed or reduced in rank without an enquiry wherein the person accused shall be informed of the charges and given an opportunity to respond to the charges against him or her.
  • Article 311 (2) (a) states that a person is removed or dismissed or reduced in rank based on conduct that led to his or her conviction on a criminal charge,
  • Article 311 (2) (b) states that if the authority vested with the power to remove or dismiss or reduce in rank is satisfied for some reason, to be recorded by the authority in writing, it is not reasonably practical to hold such enquiry.
  • Article 311 (2) (c) states that if the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State, it not necessary to hold such enquiry.

Geography:

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung volcano erupts:

  • Context: Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung, located in the North Sumatra province, erupted recently, belching a massive column of volcanic ash and smoke 3,000 metres into the sky.
  • About:
  • According to the Global Volcanism Program, The volcano has been active since 2010: Indonesia is home to many active volcanoes owing to its location in the “Ring of Fire” or the Circum-Pacific Belt.
  • Ring of Fire is an area along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.
  • The Ring of Fire is home to about 75 per cent of the world’s volcanoes and about 90 per cent of earthquakes also occur here.
  • The eruptive phase began in September 2013 and continued uninterrupted till June 2018.
  • In 2018, the volcano released ash 5-7 km into the air, coating villages.
  • According to the Weather Channel, when the volcano had erupted in 2014, it killed 16 people and displaced thousands and in 2016, nine more people had died because of the eruptions.
  • As magma is lighter than rock, it is able to rise through vents and fissures on the surface of the earth.
  • Following eruption, the magma is called lava.
  • Not all volcanic eruptions are explosive since explosivity depends on the composition of the magma.
  • When the magma is runny and thin, gases can easily escape it. In such cases, the magma will flow out towards the surface.
  • However, if the magma is thick and dense and gases cannot escape it, it builds up pressure inside resulting in a violent explosion.
  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common cause of death from a volcano is suffocation, making people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and other chronic lung diseases susceptible.
  • Further, volcanic eruptions can result in additional threats to health such as floods, mudslides, power outages, drinking water contamination and wildfires.
  • Lava flows, however, rarely kill people since it moves very slowly, giving enough time to escape.

What is Ocean Current? Gulf Stream is weakening says Scientists:

  • Context:Major ocean currents of the world
  • About: The Ocean Currents consist of horizontal and vertical components of the circulation system of ocean waters that is produced by gravity, wind friction, and water density variation in different parts of the ocean.
  • They are classified into three-part i.e. Drift, Current, and Stream on the basis of the direction of flow, speed, and shape.
  • They can be cold, warm, and hot. Warm ocean currents originate near the equator and move towards the poles or higher latitudes while cold currents originate near the poles or higher latitudes and move towards the tropics or lower latitudes.
  • The current’s direction and speed depend on the shoreline and the ocean floor. They can flow for thousands of miles and are found in all the major oceans of the world. The list of Ocean Currents of the world is given below along with their nature.

International Relations:

Israel Hamas Ariel Bombardment escalates – How Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system works?

  • Context: Violence between Israel and Palestinians began to escalate, hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip
  • About: Hamas launched a volley of rockets at Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, after it said a high-rise building in Gaza was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.
  • Amid spiraling violence sparked by clashes in Jerusalem, a familiar sound has returned in Israel: the blare of rocket sirens and the explosions of Iron Dome interceptors.
  • Israel’s Iron Dome is an air defense system developed by the Israeli firms Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, with financial and technical support from the United States.
  • First put into service in 2011, it is designed to stop short-range rockets and artillery like those fired from Gaza.
  • Two separate systems, known as David’s Sling and Arrow, are designed for medium- and long-range threats, including planes, drones, rockets and missiles
  • Iron Dome relies on a system of radar and analysis to determine whether an incoming rocket is a threat, firing an interceptor only if the incoming rocket risks hitting a populated area or important infrastructure.
  • The interceptors, which are fired vertically either from mobile units or a static launch site, are designed to detonate the incoming rocket in the air,
  • Producing the explosions in the sky that have come to accompany warning sirens during recent Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
  • But some critics of Iron Dome have long said it fundamentally serves to prolong conflict.
  • “Over time, Iron Dome may do them more harm than good,” Israeli political scientist YoavFromer wrote.
  • “Iron Dome’s ability to protect Israelis from periodic rocket attacks so far will never remove the strife and discontent that has produced the motivation to ruthlessly fire them in the first place
  • Israeli officials and defense companies say that the system has stopped thousands of rockets and artillery from hitting their targets,with a success rate of more than 90%.
  • However, some defense analysts say that groups including Hamas that fire rockets and artillery from Gaza have adapted to the system. “No missile defense system is perfectly reliable, especially against an evolving threat,” Michael Armstrong.
  • Iron Dome has changed life for many Israelis, allowing a degree of normality in southern parts of the country that were once under the heavy shadow of rocket strikes.
  • Supporters of the Iron Dome system have said that it has stopped the need for Israel to send in troops to Gaza during times of conflict, as it had done during 2008 and 2009.
  • The system’s comparatively low cost — because it fires only on threats to human life or infrastructure, fewer interceptors are needed —also makes it attractive to foreign governments, including the U.S. Army, which has bought two batteries itself.

Science and Technology:

DRDO Anti Covid Drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) gets emergency use clearance by DCGI:

  • Context: The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the emergency use of Drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe Covid-19 patients
  • About: The Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has developed the drug, in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Hyderabad
  • The DRDO, along with its industry partner DRL, Hyderabad, started the clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in COVID-19 patients.
  • In Phase-II trials conducted during May to October 2020, the drug was found to be safe in COVID-19 patients and showed significant improvement in their recovery.
  • Phase IIa was conducted in six hospitals and Phase IIb clinical trial was conducted at 11 hospitals all over the country.Phase-II trial was conducted on 110 patients.
  • In efficacy trends, the patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than Standard of Care (SoC)on various endpoints.
  • A significantly favourable trend (2.5 days difference) was seen in terms of the median time to achieving normalisation of specific vital signs parameters when compared to SoC.
  • In 2-DG arm, significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence(42% vs 31%) by Day-3,In comparison to SoC, indicating an early relief from Oxygen therapy/dependence.
  • Being a generic molecule and analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in plenty in the country.
  • The drug comes in powder form in sachet, which is taken orally by dissolving it in water.
  • It accumulates in the virus infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production.
  • Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.

CRP Test for Covid 19 patients – Why doctors are recommending the C Reactive Protein Test?

  • Context:C-reactive protein (CRP) test, is mainly conducted for patients who are hospitalised for Covid virus treatment, but a large number of doctors are recommending the same test even to those Covid positive patients who are in home isolation with moderate to mild symptoms
  • About:
  • What is CRP test?
    • It is a blood test and it tells about inflammation level in the body during any ailment and indicates about the infection level.
    • It can be done for any ailment. The higher value of CRP level than the normal level indicates that the infection is increasing.
    • CRP tests is a marker which shows the level of C-reactive protein, which is made by the liver, in the blood.
  • Inflammation is a process by which your body’s white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.
  • Doctors are conducting it mandatorily for the patients with critical conditions who are in hospital care, because it is one of the indicators showing the body’s reaction to the ongoing treatment.
  • If the CRP is normal then the patient’s body is reacting to the treatment positively and if it is higher than the required,
  • Then doctors need to check the infection level in the body through other tests like CT scan
  • CRP test is not costly like CT scan and so we recommend it tothe patients.
  • Conducting this test twice on an interval of 4-5 days reveals the CRP level in the patients on the basis of which doctors can decide the next course of action,” said DrNavjot Singh Dahiya, adding that if a patient sees no improvement in their symptoms, they may be recommended steroids for Covid treatment which the doctors can start at home so as to save them from hospitalization.
  • Also oxygen supply to the hospitals is so poor across the country and this marker helps doctors to treat the patients at home earlyso that they can be saved from serious illness.So, it is helpful for both doctors as well as patients.
  • Remember, it should not be recommended to all home isolation patients but only to those who are not showing improvement in their symptoms despite having recommended medicines.

NASA OSIRIS REx spacecraft begins its journey back home with asteroid Bennu samples:

  • Context: After nearly five years in space, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is on its way back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.
  • About: After releasing the sample capsule, OSIRIS-REx will have completed its primary mission. It will fire its engines to fly by Earth safely, putting it on a trajectory to circle the sun inside of Venus’ orbit.
  • After orbiting the Sun twice, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is due to reach Earth Sept. 24, 2023. Upon return, the capsule containing pieces of Bennu will separate from the rest of the spacecraft and enter Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule will parachute to the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s West Desert, where scientists will be waiting to retrieve it.
  • “OSIRIS-REx’s many accomplishments demonstrated the daring and innovate way in which exploration unfolds in real time,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters.
  • “The team rose to the challenge, and now we have a primordial piece of our solar system headed back to Earth where many generations of researchers can unlock its secrets.”
  • To realize the mission’s multi-year plan, a dozen navigation engineers made calculations and wrote computer code to instruct the spacecraft when and how to push itself away from Bennu.
  • After departing from Bennu, getting the sample to Earth safely is the team’s next critical goal. This includes planning future maneuvers to keep the spacecraft on course throughout its journey

Government schemes and initiative:

INTERPOL launches ID Art mobile app to better protect cultural heritage:

  • Context:The Interpol has launched a mobile phone application (app) which will help identify stolen cultural property, reduce smuggling and increase the possibility of recovering stolen works and artefacts
  • About: The ‘ID-Art’ app enables users — from law enforcement agencies to the general public — to get mobile access to the Interpol database of stolen works of art, create an inventory of private art collections and report cultural sites that are potentially at risk, said the Interpol. It is available for both Android and Apple devices.
  • The app enables users to get mobile access to the Interpol database of stolen works of art. Further, the user can be a law enforcement agency or a general public
  • The app allows museums and private collectors to capture images and record features of their works of art on the App. This will also help to keep track of their collections.
  • More than 52,000 items registered as stolen in Interpol’s “Stolen Works of Art” database. The app allows users to immediately cross-check an object among the database.
  • The app allows persons on the front line of protecting heritage to document the state of heritage sites. They can document also the historical monuments and archaeological sites.
  • The ‘ID-Art’ app enables users to record the geographical location, a detailed description and images in order to capture the condition of a heritage site. This will result in the creation of ‘Site Cards’. These ‘site cards’ can be used as evidence or basis for reconstruction if ever the site is looted or destroyed.

Security:

NASA slams China for Long March 5B rocket’s debris plunged into Indian Ocean near Maldives:

  • Context: Debris from a Chinese rocket Sunday made an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean, with remnants falling at a location to the west of Maldives
  • About: The debris came from the upper stage of a Long March 5B rocket– China’s largest– that had been launched into space on April 29 for putting into orbit, a core module of the new Tianhe space station, which is expected to become operational in 2022
  • For days, there had been speculation on whether the debris would hit a populated area on the Earth’s surface,Leading NASA to criticise China over lack of transparency and for “failing to meet responsible standards”.
  • When a rocket is launched, its discarded booster stages re-enter the atmosphere soon after liftoff and harmlessly fall into the ocean– a standard practice.
  • In this case, however, a 10-floor large vehicle of the rocket weighing 18 metric tonnes went into orbit along with the section of the under-construction space station that it was carrying.
  • While in orbit, this vehicle kept rubbing against the air at the top of the atmosphere, and the resulting friction caused it to start losing altitude.
  • The piece hurtled through a low-Earth orbit at roughly 25,490 km/hr, traced by the US military.
  • An “uncontrolled re-entry” thus became inevitable, but China did not admit this fact to the world
  • When rockets carry their payload into space, their booster stages that reach orbit fire the engine again after completing their job, do as to drop back to Earth and not remain in orbit.
  • Space agencies plan this process to ensure that such rocket parts end up in uninhabited areas, such as the middle of the ocean
  • But China chose not to do this for its Long March rocket, leading to its vehicle crashing back uncontrollably.
  • China’s plan to launch 10 more missions like this until 2022 to complete the Tianhe has thus sparked worry that pieces from its rockets could end up causing injuries.

DRDO develops Artificial Intelligence tool Atman AI for COVID detection in chest X rays:

  • Context: DRDO has developed an Artificial Intelligence algorithm that can detect the presence of COVID-19 disease in Chest X-rays.
  • About:Named ATMAN AI, the tool was developed by DRDO’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), with the support of 5C Network & HCG Academics.
  • The ATMAN AI is an artificial intelligence tool for chest X-ray screening as triaging tool in COVID-19 diagnosis, which is a method for rapid identification and assessment of lung involvement, according to a statement issued by HCG Academics
  • This would be utilised by 5C Network, the country’s largest digital network of radiologists, with support of HCG Academics.
  • Triaging COVID suspect patients using X-ray is fast, cost effective and efficient.
  • “It can be a useful tool especially in smaller towns in our country owing to lack of easy access to CT scans
  • Chest X-Rays of RT-PCR positive hospitalised patients in various stages of disease involvement were retrospectively analysed using Artificial Intelligence (Deep Learning & Convolutional Neural Network) models, by an indigenously developed deep learning application by CAIR-DRDO for COVID-19 screening using digital chest X-rays.
  • The algorithm showed an accuracy of 96.73 per cent
  • 5C Network, which is connected to over 1,000 hospitals across the country, would now make ATMAN available to state-run and private hospitals

What is Hamas? What is Hamas trying to achieve by fighting with Israel?

  • Context:Hamas was founded in 1987,soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in its Gaza branch had previously been non-confrontational toward Israel and hostile to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
  • About:Hamas’s origins can be traced to the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood arose as an attempt to have Islamic values extend beyond the mosque into the secular sphere, where it challenged the core assumptions, social, political, ideological, nationalist and economic of the existing ruling order.
  • In 1935 it established contacts in Mandatory Palestine and in 1945 inaugurated its first branch in Jerusalem.
  • Following the Nakba in 1948, which shattered Palestinian society, the Muslim Brotherhood was one of the first organizations to reestablish itself among the Palestinians
  • Hamas’s diplomatic efforts are seen as yet another sign that the Palestinians have two separate leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The efforts are also seen in the context of Hamas’s strive to gain legitimacy in the international arena and tighten its grip on the Gaza Strip.
  • Hamas inherited from its predecessor a tripartite structure that consisted in the provision of social services, of religious training and military operations under a Shura Council.
  • Traditionally it had four distinct functions: (a) a charitable social welfare division (dawah); (b) a military division for procuring weapons and undertaking operations (al-Mujahideen al Filastinun); (c) a security service (JehazAman); and (d) a media branch (A’alam).
  • Hamas has both an internal leadership within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and an external leadership, split between a Gaza group directed by Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook from his exile first in Damascus and then in Egypt, and a Kuwaiti group (Kuwaidia) under Khaled Mashal