1,300-year-old Buddhist stupa found
GS1 Art and Culture Architecture
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has uncovered a 1,300-year-old stupa in the centre of a mining site in Odisha’s Jajpur district from where Khondalite stones were dug for the project around the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
- The stupa may be 4.5 metres tall, and preliminary analysis indicates it may date to the 7th or 8th century.
- The recently discovered stupa may have been defaced during a previous time period. The ASI would now endeavour to recover the structure’s whole archaeological history, restore it to its former state, and conserve the site.
- Khondalite is a metamorphic rock with foliation. It is also known as Bezwada Gneiss and Kailasa Gneiss in India. It was called after the Khond tribe of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh because well-formed specimens of the rock were discovered in the populated highlands of these eastern Indian states.
- Khondalite stones were supplied for the Puri Shree Jagannath Temple beautification project, which dates back to the 12th century.
- Khondalite stones were commonly employed in ancient temple complexes; Khondalite stones will be used in all Puri historical projects to preserve the Kalinga architectural style.
Stupas in Buddhism
- Stupa is a memorial structure that typically contains religious relics associated with the Buddha or other saints.
- It is a hemispherical construction with a spire at the top and a base of varying size and shape.
- Originally constructed to store the earthly remains of the historical Buddha and his disciples, Buddhist stupas are virtually always found at Buddhist holy sites.
- The Great Stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, is India’s most well-known and best-preserved early stupa.
- Types of stupas: Stupas are classified based on form and function into five types:
- Relic stupa: The Buddha, his followers, and lay saints’ relics or remains are interred.
- Object stupa: Items that belonged to the Buddha or his disciples, such as a bowl for collecting alms or a robe, or significant Buddhist writings.
- Commemorative stupa: Built to commemorate events in the lives of Buddha or his disciples.
- Symbolic stupa: To symbolise aspects of Buddhist theology.
- Votive stupa: Constructed to commemorate visits or to gain spiritual benefits, usually at the site of prominent stupas which are regularly visited.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
- Under the Ministry of Culture, the ASI is the principal body for archaeological study and protection of the nation’s cultural heritage.
- The ASI’s primary priority is the preservation of historic monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national significance.
- Under the rules of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, it regulates all archaeological activity in the country. It also governs the 1972 Antiquities and Art Treasures Act.
Upholding the validity of the Agnipath Scheme
GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions Issues Arising out of their Design & ImplementationDevelopment Processes & Development Industry Important Aspects of Governance
- The Delhi High Court has affirmed the constitutionality of the Union government’s Agnipath recruitment programme for the Armed Forces.
More about the news
- Legality of Agnipath scheme:
- The Supreme Court designated the Delhi High Court as the principal body to assess the validity of the Agnipath project.
- The High Court was responding to applications that challenged the scheme’s constitutionality.
- High Court’s response to petitions & criticisms:
- National interest:
- The court dismissed a number of petitions contesting the programme and stated that the programme was implemented in the national interest to better equip the Military Forces.
- The court added “it’s needless to suggest the four years’ training term under the scheme would also instil a sense of nationalism in the recruits”, which would “more or less push them to use their skills and focus on the development of the country”.
- Future employment of Agniveers:
- The court also rejected the claim that the government had failed to plan for the future employment of Agniveers in meaningful positions.
- The government has sought to expand finance initiatives for entrepreneurs like as MUDRA and Start-Up India to Agniveers as well.
- According to the High Court, its employment benefits, skill certificates, and appointment of 25% of selected individuals to the regular Army cannot be overlooked.
- Matter of pension:
- On the matter of pension for the Agniveers, the court said that the petitioners had failed to realise the Indian government had not made it mandatory for youth to serve in the Armed Forces, as many nations do.
More about the Agnipath Recruitment Scheme
- Around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually, and most will leave the service in just four years.
- Just 25% of all annual recruits will be permitted to remain on permanent commission for another 15 years.
- Recruits under the programme will be referred to as “Agniveers.”
- Enrolment in all three services:
- Centralised online system to conduct rallies & campus interviews at recognised technical institutes such as the Industrial Training Institutes, and the National Skills Qualifications Framework.
- Eligibility criteria:
- Only non-officer personnel are permitted. On a “All India, All Class” basis, with a qualifying age range of 17,5 to 21, and medical and physical fitness requirements.
- Educational Requirement: Class XII
- Recruiting will occur twice annually.
- Pay and Perks:
- Enrolment in all three services:
- Yearly compensation ranging from Rs 4.76 lakh in the first year to Rs 6.92 lakh in the fourth, with hardship allowance.
- In accordance with the “Seva Nidhi” package (which is free from Income Tax), they will receive around Rs. 11,71 lakh, including contribution and interest, upon completion of their service.
- • The recruits would be required to give 30% of their monthly pay to Seva Nidhi, with the government matching this amount.
- There will be no eligibility for gratuity and retirement payments under the plan.
- Absence of a Pilot Project to Test the Plan; Militarization of society.
- May Weaken Professionalism, Military Ethos, and Combativeness (takes 7-8 yrs to become fully ready combat soldier)
- Will strike the essential ethos of Naam, Namak & Nishan (reputation of Battalion, fidelity & ensign) (reputation of Battalion, fidelity & ensign)
- Tourist soldiering is not a suitable notion for India’s security concerns.
- Enhancing the youthful profile of the Armed Forces:
- The Centre has defended the Agnipath scheme, saying that its biggest aim was to enhance the youthful profile of the Armed Forces and reduce the average age of soldiers from 32 years to 26 years over a period of time.
- ‘Leader to led’ ratio:
- With the introduction of the scheme, the ‘leader to led’ ratio will become 1:1 from the current ratio of 1:1.28, the Centre has said.
- Well thought & studied decision:
- The government also informed the court that the challenged plan is the outcome of numerous studies and deliberations, such as the Kargil Review Committee, which suggested the retention of soldiers for a shorter period of time as opposed to the present 15 to 20-year structure.
- Experts analysed the effectiveness and organisational advantages of short-term military service by examining the recruitment and retention methods of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France.
- The government hopes that this programme will assist young people who cannot afford an education.
- The federal government has also released a list of career options for the seventy-five percent of Agnivesers who will be demobilised after four years of service.
- Priority will be given to those who seek to work in the CAPFs, police, Assam rifles, police, and allied forces in multiple states.
- Additionally, it will assist the Agniveers in launching their second careers with the appropriate bank loans, which will be granted with priority.
Third Patient Cured of HIV
GS 2 Health
- Nature Medicine just published an article about a patient who was cured of AIDS.
- Following a bone-marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, a 53-year-old German man became the third person to be “cured” of HIV.
- The transplant was performed to treat blood cancer, and four years after he stopped taking antiretroviral medication, the HIV infection was undetectable in his body.
- The patient had a stem cell transplant from a female donor whose CCR5 gene possessed a rare mutation that prevents HIV from entering cells.
- The bone marrow transplant utilised in this instance is a harsh and risky procedure that is only appropriate for a tiny percentage of people suffering from HIV and blood malignancy.
- According to the report, this HIV-1 cure case offers “important information that will hopefully inform future cure strategies”
What is CCR5-Delta 32 Mutation?
- It is found in 1% of the population, and it stops the CCR5 receptors on CD4 immune cells, which act as a doorway for the HIV virus, from developing on the surface.
- People with two copies of the mutation are almost immune to HIV, while individuals with one copy are less likely to get the virus.
Can Bone-Marrow Transplants Solve the HIV Crisis?
- The mutation primarily affects Caucasians, making it difficult to identify a compatible donor, particularly for those from countries with a high HIV burden.
- Bone-marrow transplants are a risky and complicated treatment that is unlikely to be made available to all HIV patients.
- A bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure that involves replacing an individual’s bone marrow with healthy cells. The replacement cells may come from the individual’s body or from a donor.
- A transplant of bone marrow is also known as a stem cell transplant or, more particularly, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
- The virus could evolve and penetrate cells via alternative methods, rendering the treatment useless.
• They can divide repeatedly to generate new cells.
· When they divide, they can transform into the various cell types that comprise the body.
Types of Stem Cells
· One kind is derived from mature tissues like the brain, skin, and bone marrow. These tissues contain just a modest amount of stem cells. They are more likely to produce only specific cell types. For instance, a liver-derived stem cell will only generate liver cells.
o o The second type of stem cells is induced pluripotent. These adult stem cells have been modified in the laboratory to resemble embryonic stem cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells appear to be identical to embryonic stem cells, but scientists have not yet identified one that can differentiate into every cell and tissue type.
What is AIDS?
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, is a chronic, sometimes fatal illness caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
- HIV is a virus that targets the immune system, particularly the CD4 cells, which are essential for fighting off infections.
- It is transmitted largely through unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles or syringes, and from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
- Years after infection, many HIV-positive individuals suffer no symptoms, but the virus continues to harm the immune system.
- Symptoms of HIV progression include fever, exhaustion, weight loss, night sweats, lymph node enlargement, and recurring infections.
- There is no cure for HIV or AIDS at this time, although antiretroviral medication (ART) can delay the course of the virus and enhance quality of life.
- It involves taking a cocktail of medications that target several stages of the virus’s life cycle, so limiting its capacity to replicate and cause immune system damage.
- The medications must be administered indefinitely since the virus persists in reservoirs throughout the body.
- If untreated, the virus kills a person’s immune system, leading in AIDS and death.
HIV Facts & Figures:
- According to the AIDS Society of India, India has the third-highest HIV prevalence at 2.35 million.
- In 2019, there were 69,220 new HIV infections in India and 58,960 deaths attributable to AIDS.
- According to the UNAIDS Report 2020, the Asia-Pacific area experienced a fall of 13% in new HIV infections and a decrease of 29% in AIDS-related fatalities over the past decade.
Government steps to control:
- India has implemented various schemes and programs to control and eradicate AIDS in the country.
- National AIDS Control Programme (NACP): It is a comprehensive programme created in 1992 to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in India by promoting safe behaviour, raising awareness, and offering testing and counselling services.
- Targeted Interventions (TI): TI is a programme under the NACP that targets high-risk groups, including as sex workers, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with other men.
- Antiretroviral Therapy (ART): In addition to offering free diagnostic testing and treatment for HIV-related opportunistic illnesses, the government gives free ART to all HIV-positive individuals in the country.
- UNAIDS’ 90:90:90 strategy (90% (diagnosed, treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and suppressed) by 2020.
- · Ten-year extension with the target date of 1995-1995-1995.
- Community-based approaches: Local communities, civil society organisations, and persons living with HIV/AIDS are also involved in the government’s HIV/AIDS planning, implementation, and monitoring processes.
- Jan Jagriti Abhiyan: The government has undertaken a public awareness campaign to educate people about HIV/AIDS, particularly in rural regions, and encourage safe behaviour and practises.
- National Rural Health Mission (NRHM): It was launched by the government to provide primary healthcare services to people living in rural areas.
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· Blood cancer patient Adam Castillejo in London also received a transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, and the virus was undetectable in his body following the transplant.
- Although bone marrow transplants provide a cure for HIV, they are not a choice for everyone.
- Antiretroviral therapy continues to be the most effective medication for HIV management and virus transmission prevention.
National Flagship Programmes for Fisheries
GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues
- The Union Minister of Fisheries has established three national flagship programmes for the advancement of the fisheries industry.
- The minister launched the subsequent initiatives:
National Surveillance Programme for Aquatic Animal Diseases (NSPAAD) Phase-II
- The Indian Economy loses about 7200 crores annually due to fish diseases therefore, early detection and managing the spread is crucial for controlling the diseases.
- Since 2013, the Government of India has undertaken the National Surveillance Programme for Aquatic Animal Diseases (NSPAAD) to strengthen the farmer-based disease surveillance system.
- In order to continue its efforts with vigour, the Government has authorised the NSPAAD: Phase-II under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana
- All State Fisheries Departments and the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) are expected to play a significant role in the implementation of phase-II across India.
Genetic improvement program of Penaeus indicus (Indian white shrimp)-Phase-I
- The farmed shrimp alone contributes about 70% of India’s seafood exports worth Rs. 42000 crores. But the whole sector mostly depends on one exotic Pathogen Free stock of Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) species which is quite risky
- To break this single species dependence and to promote indigenous species, the government has taken up the genetic improvement programme of the Indian white shrimp ( P. indicus) as a national priority.
- This program will lead to “Atamanirbharata” for shrimp stock, which is at present imported from other countries.
Shrimp Crop Insurance product
- Shrimp farming is labelled a “risky investment” despite the fact that India’s shrimp production has increased by almost 430 percent over the past decade.
- The majority of aquaculture farmers are small-scale farmers who own between two and three ponds and face formidable challenges in acquiring operating capital for their crop due to a lack of access to institutional financing and insurance.
- ICAR-CIBA created a Shrimp Crop Insurance product with premiums ranging from 3.7% to 7.7% of input prices, depending on the farmer’s location and needs.
In the event of a total crop loss, farmers will be paid for 80% of their input costs. That is, crop loss exceeding 70%
Fisheries Sector in India
- The fisheries sector is a direct source of livelihood for more than 20 million fishers and fish farmers; contributes INR 1.75 trillion annually to the gross value added to India’s economy.
- With a fish production of 14,73 million metric tonnes, India is the third largest producer of fish and one of the largest exporters of farmed shrimp (approximately 7 lakh tonnes).
- The country’s single largest agricultural export during the previous five years has been fish, with a growth rate of 6 to 10%.
- It has a marine fisher population of 3.5 million, and 10.5 million people are engaged in inland fishing and fish farming, while the growth rate of the agricultural sector over the same period is approximately 2.5%.
Challenges faced by Indian fisheries
- Sustainability: The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture reports note that nearly 90 per cent of the global marine fish stocks have been fully exploited or over-fished.
- Lack of access to credit: Fisheries have been considered risky business and lack of access to formal credit has forced small farmers into debt at high-interest rates.
- Lack of Infrastructure: Lack of refrigeration facilities leads to spoilage of the huge catch. The use of formalin to keep the stock fresh has led to a ban on the export of fish.
- The fishing industry drives the expansion of the agriculture sector. Solving bottlenecks faced by the industry will help in improving the contribution of the agricultural sector to the economy and earning precious foreign capital.
Mad Cow Disease
GS 2 Health GS 3 Science & Technology
- As a result of the identification of a case of mad cow disease in a northern Brazilian state, Brazil has ceased beef exports.
- Brazil is the world’s leading exporter of beef, while the United States is the leading producer.
What is mad cow disease?
- Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is another name for “mad cow disease.
- ” It is an infectious, slowly progressive, degenerative, and deadly disease that affects adult cattle’s central nervous system. The infectious agent that causes mad cow disease is an aberrant form of a protein called a prion that is ordinarily located on the cell surface.
- When a protein is changed, the tissue of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, is destroyed.
New security mechanism for based Aadhaar authentication
GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has successfully implemented a new security method for Aadhaar-based fingerprint authentication and speedier detection of spoofing attempts.
- This security feature combines the technologies of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
- It was developed in-house by employing a “combination of both finger minutia and finger picture” with the intention of verifying the vitality or authenticity of the acquired fingerprint.
Benefits of New AI-Based System
- The new security method for Aadhaar-based fingerprint authentication is now fully operational.
- This will be of great use to the banking and financial services, telecommunications, and government sectors.
- This will bolster the Aadhaar-enabled payment mechanism.
- With the implementation of the new system, just finger image or only finger minutiae-based Aadhaar verification has given way to robust two-factor authentication — a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Aadhar Verification Transactions
- The UIDAI Headquarters and its Regional Offices are linked to all organisations in order to facilitate any non-migrated user agency’s swift transition to the newly created secure authentication mechanism.
- Aadhaar-based authentication transactions have been widely embraced, resulting in the provision of several welfare benefits and services.
- According to reports, the total number of Aadhar authentication transactions exceeded 88.29 billion by the end of December 2022, and the average number of daily transactions rose to 70 million.
- The vast majority of these authentications are fingerprint-based, as it represents their practicality and utility in daily life.
GS 3 Science & Technology
- The FDA Modernization Act 2.0, which was signed into law by President Biden, permits clinical trial leaders to employ alternatives to traditional animal models for pharmacological and biological development.
- The move is anticipated to increase organ chip research and development.
What are Organ-on-a-Chips?
- Organ-on-a- Chips is a micro-engineered biomimetic system that mimics the structure and functional properties of human tissue.
- It is sometimes referred to as microphysiological systems and tissue chips.
- Little devices containing human cells are utilised to simulate the environment of human organs, including blood flow and respiratory motions, in order to test new medications in synthetic environments.
- It combines the integration of biomaterial technologies, cell biology, and engineering into a miniature platform.
- In recent years, it has gained considerable interest due to its multiple uses, particularly in precision medicine, drug discovery, and screening.
- It can duplicate important characteristics of human physiology, providing insights into the investigated organ’s function and the pathophysiology of disease.
- Moreover, these can be employed accurately in drug discovery for tailored treatment.
- Organ-on-chip (OoC) is a globally popular idea due to the significance of its applications in the biomedical industry.
- It is crucial for the creation of drugs and their effects on various organs.
- Medicines are often tested on animals, which can result in erroneous data or ethical issues from organisations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). o As a result, researchers have sought novel methods to allow testing on human cells.
- These technologies offer viable alternatives to conventional preclinical cell culture techniques and potentially lessen the need for in vivo animal research.
- They are devoid of the ethical concerns connected with animal models.
- Across the Globe: In 2010, Harvard University bioengineering professor and Wyss Institute director Donald E. Ingber and his colleagues created the first human organ-on-chip model.
- This “lung on a chip” replicated biological characteristics of the lung and its breathing motions. Ingber’s team developed further human organs-on-chips.
- Members of the Wyss Institute founded Emulate Inc. in 2014 to market their technology.
- The group has since built numerous different chips, including bone marrow, epithelial barrier, lung, gut, kidney, and vagina.
- • Scientists have also founded consortia, such as the European Organ-on-Chip Society, to promote study in this subject.
- Organs on a chip in India: Researchers in India are also developing organ-on-a-chip models, such as a skin-on-chip model that is being evaluated for researching skin irritation and toxicity and a retina-on-a-chip model.
- Issues and Challenges
- India’s regulators lack exposure to researchers’ issues while academicians don’t fully understand regulatory requirements.
- There are bureaucratic hurdles as well. Examples of the “inflexible heads of expenditures in government grants” and the delay in releasing money for sanctioned grants.
- There is still a reluctance on the part of the industries in [using this] for preclinical research due to the lack of experienced personnel”.
Conclusion and Suggestions
- The researchers hope to see larger consortia with diverse experts from academia, industries, and regulators form in order to compare India’s organ-on-chip efforts with those of the West.
- Multidisciplinary knowledge from the biomedical and engineering fields is required to comprehend and realise OoCs.
Hindustan 228 Aircraft
GS 3 Defence
- The Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has recently approved a new variant of the Hindustan 228-201 LW Aircraft.
- Features: This model of the Hindustan 228-201 LW has a maximum takeoff weight of 5,695 kilogrammes and can accommodate 19 people.
- Developed by: Limited by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
- HAL is constructing civil aircraft in support of the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Program.
- HAL is a government-owned aircraft manufacturer. Moreover, it has produced Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
- Operational Benefits: This variant provides several operational benefits for operators, such as
- – decreased pilot qualification standards allowing pilots with a Commercial Pilot License to fly the aircraft; o increased pilot pool availability for the aircraft.
- decreased operational expenses
- It will promote the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Scheme. o decreased training requirements for flying and ground crew, including aircraft maintenance engineers. o promotion of the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Scheme.
- UDAN scheme
- Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) was introduced in 2016 by the Ministry of Civil Aviation as a regional connectivity initiative.
- This is a novel plan to expand the regional aviation sector.
- Under the UDAN programme, the federal government intends to build 1,000 new air routes and 100 new airports.
National Science Day
GS 3 Achievements of Indians in S&T
- In India, National Science Day is observed annually on February 28 to commemorate the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian Physicist Sir C V Raman.
- The Indian government proclaimed this day in 1986. The theme for this year is Global Science for Global Well-Being.
C V Raman
- Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888 – 1970) was an Indian physicist known for his work in the field of light scattering.
- He founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926.
- In 1933, he became the first Indian to lead the Indian Institute of Science.
- In 1933, he formed the Indian Academy of Sciences.
- In 1948, he founded the Raman Research Institute.
- In 1954, the Indian government awarded him the first Bharat Ratna.
- Using a spectrograph he created, he discovered that as light passes through a transparent substance, its wavelength and frequency change. Thereafter, this phenomenon came to be known as the Raman effect or Raman scattering.
- Raman was the first Asian to receive a Nobel Prize in any field of science, as he was the recipient of the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.
The Raman effect was first identified on February 28, 1928. The Indian government celebrates this day yearly as National Science Day.
Importance of Discovery
- The characteristics of the scattered radiations provide insight into the final structure of the scattering material.
- The finding would also be used to chemistry, spawning a new area known as Raman spectroscopy as a fundamental analytical technique for conducting nondestructive chemical study of both organic and inorganic molecules.
- Currently, this technique has numerous applications, ranging from the non-invasive study of art and other culturally significant objects to the detection of drugs concealed within luggage at customs.
GS 3 Infrastructure
- Prime Minister Modi formally opened the Shivamogga Airport at Shivamogga, Karnataka.
- He also laid the cornerstone for two railway projects in Shivamogga, namely the Koteganguru Railway coaching depot and the new Shivamogga – Shikaripura – Ranebennur Railway line, which will enhance connectivity in the Malnad region.
- Shivamogga is a city in central Karnataka and the district seat of Shivamogga district.
- The city is situated along the Tunga River.
- A significant portion of the Shivamogga district is located in the Malnad region.
- Being the gateway to the mountainous region of the Western Ghats, the city is commonly referred to as the “Gateway to Malnad.”
- Malnad is a region in Karnataka.
- It is approximately 100 kilometres wide and covers the western and eastern sides of the Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountain range.
- The region has considerable annual precipitation and is home to Agumbe.
- has the greatest annual precipitation in Karnataka.