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Current Affairs 26 December 2022

CONTENTS

  1. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
  2. Great Barrier Reef
  3. Bomb cyclone
  4. Kala-Azar
  5. Incovacc: Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine

 Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana


Context:

The Trinamool Congress is feeling the heat of allegations of corruption in the selection of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) beneficiaries in West Bengal.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY- U: Housing for All – Urban)
  2. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY- U: Housing for All – Urban)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
  • The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
    • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
    • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
    • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors
    • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
  • The mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers. A slum is defined as a compact area of at least 300 people or about 60 – 70 households of poorly built congested tenements in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.
  • Mission will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • “Housing for All” Mission for urban area is being implemented during 2015-2022 and this Mission will provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all eligible families/beneficiaries by 2022.
Coverage area

The Mission covers the entire urban area consisting of:

  • Statutory Towns
  • Notified Planning Areas
  • Development Authorities
  • Special Area Development Authorities
  • Industrial Development Authorities or
  • Any such authority under State legislation which is entrusted with the functions of urban planning & regulations

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G) was launched to achieve the objective of “Housing for All” by 2022. The erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) was restructured to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • Ministry of Rural development is involved in the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • PMAY-G aims to provide a pucca house with basic amenities to all rural families, who are homeless or living in kutcha or dilapidated houses by the end of March 2022 and also to help rural people Below the Poverty Line (BPL) in construction of dwelling units and upgradation of existing unserviceable kutcha houses by providing assistance in the form of a full grant.
  • People belonging to SCs/STs, freed bonded labourers and non-SC/ST categories, widows or next-of-kin of defence personnel killed in action, ex-servicemen and retired members of the paramilitary forces, disabled persons and minorities will be the target beneficiaries of the PMAY-G.
  • The cost of unit assistance is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.

-Source: The Hindu


Great Barrier Reef


Context:

Scientists working on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have successfully trialled a new method for freezing and storing coral larvae they say could eventually help rewild reefs threatened by climate change.

Relevance:

Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology, Environmental Pollution and Degradation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Great Barrier Reef
  2. About Coral Reefs
  3. What does the new report say?

Great Barrier Reef

  • The Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea (North-East Coast), off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is the world’s most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
  • This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps which are tiny, soft-bodied organisms and their base which is a hard, protective limestone skeleton called a calicle, forms the structure of coral reefs.
  • It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.

About Coral Reefs

  • Indonesia has the largest coral reef area in the world and the Great Barrier Reef of the Queensland coast of Australia is the largest aggregation of coral reefs.
  • India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Chagos have the maximum coral reefs in South Asia.
  • Coral Reefs protect humanity from natural calamities acting as a barrier, provide revenue and employment through tourism and recreation and also provide habitats for fishes, starfish and sea anemones.
  • Coral blocks are used for buildings and road construction, the lime supplied by corals is used in cement industries and coral reefs may also be used in jewellery.
  • India has four coral reef areas:
    • Gulf of Mannar,
    • Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
    • Lakshadweep islands
    • Gulf of Kutch.

Risks and threats to coral reefs

  • Due to anthropogenic activities such as coastal development, destructive fishing methods and pollution from domestic and industrial sewage.
  • Due to increased sedimentation, over-exploitation and recurring cyclones.
  • Coral diseases such as black band and white band due to infectious microorganisms introduced by the human population that live on the coastal regions.

Mesh technology

  • Cryogenically, frozen coral can be stored and later reintroduced to the wild but the current process requires sophisticated equipment including lasers.
  • Scientists say a new lightweight “cryomesh” can be manufactured cheaply and better preserves coral.
  • In a December lab trial, the world’s first with Great Barrier Reef coral, scientists used the cryomesh to freeze coral larvae at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS).
  • The coral had been collected from the reef for the trial, which coincided with the brief annual spawning window.
  • The cryomesh was previously trialled on smaller and larger varieties of the Hawaiian corals. A trial on the larger variety failed.
  • Trials are continuing with larger varieties of Great Barrier Reef coral.
  • The mesh technology, which will help store coral larvae at -196°C (-320.8°F), was devised by a team from the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering.

-Source: The Hindu


Bomb cyclone


Context:

Recently Arare bomb cyclone occurred as a massive winter storm wallops most of the central and eastern U.S. with heavy snow, high winds and dangerous wind chill temperatures, affecting millions of Americans in its path.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a bomb cyclone?
  2. Effects of a bomb cyclone
  3. When do bomb cyclones most often occur?

What is a bomb cyclone?

  • A bomb cyclone, also known as bombogenesis, is a fast-developing storm that occurs when atmospheric pressure drops at least 24 millibars over a 24-hour period. 
  • This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters.
Why is it called a bomb cyclone?
  • The popular term was first used around the 1940s, according to Mike Bettes, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.
  • It’s called a bomb cyclone because a low pressure (or cyclone) undergoes ‘bombogenesis,’ which refers to the quick rate at which the low pressure develops.

Effects of a bomb cyclone

  • The hazards of a bomb cyclone can be multifaceted and vary based on the location and speed of the storm.
  • The band of intense pressure can create heavy winds, blizzard conditions — heavy snow that can possibly reduce visibility — and rainfall, according to the agency.
    • Heavy precipitation can also cause coastal flooding.
  • In the winter, you can experience intense snowfall as well as extreme winds.
  • It usually leads to very hazardous travel conditions with blowing and drifting snow and poor visibility.
  • Airlines will often cancel flights as the conditions are too risky to fly. High winds can often lead to widespread power outages. 
  • The mix of frigid temperatures with strong winds can create dangerous wind chills, increasing the risk of frostbite.
    • There can also be sharp temperature drops along the frontal boundary associated with some bomb cyclones. There can also be storms along the frontal boundary in the warm sector of the storm.

When do bomb cyclones most often occur?

  • While bomb cyclones can happen at any point of the year, they tend to be more frequently reported in the winter months.
  • They are most common from December to early March, according to a 2017 study from the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology which analyzed the patterns of bomb cyclones over the northern Pacific Ocean from 2000 to 2015.
  • Bomb cyclones often occur more during the cold season. 

-Source: Indian Express


Kala-Azar


Context:

Prime Minister recently said that India will completely eradicate Kala Azar disease soon.

Relevance:

GS III- Health, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Kala Azar
  2. Where has kala-azar been detected in India?
  3. What does the treatment include?

About Kala Azar

  • Kala-azar is a slow progressing indigenous disease caused by a protozoan parasite of genus Leishmania.
  • In India Leishmania donovani is the only parasite causing this disease.
  • The Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
  • This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world. Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar (KA) to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.
  • It is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries.
  • Neglected tropical diseases are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries.
There are three types of leishmaniasis
  • Visceral leishmaniasis, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease.
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores and is the most common form.
  • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin and mucosal lesions.

The Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India, is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated.

Symptoms of Kala azar
  • It is associated with fever, loss of appetite (anorexia), fatigue, enlargement of the liver, spleen and nodes and suppression of the bone marrow.
  • It also increases the risk of other secondary infections.
Diagnosing Kala azar
  • The first oral drug found to be effective for treating kala-azar is miltefosine.
  • The most common method of diagnosing kala azar is by dipstick testing. However, this method is highly problematic.

Where has kala-azar been detected in India?

  • In West Bengal, the districts where the maximum number of cases were registered include Darjeeling, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur and Kalimpong.
  • The districts of Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia, and Murshidabad have also reported a few cases, while none have been detected in Kolkata yet.
  • The disease is endemic in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • An estimated 165.4 million people are at risk, according to data from the National Centre for Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NCVBDC).
  • In the country as a whole, there has been a significant decline in cases over the years.
  • In 2014, around 9,200 cases were reported while in 2021 the number fell to 1,276 cases.

What does the treatment include?

  • Anti-leishmanial medicines are available for treatment.
  • Vector control is also recommended by the WHO, which means reducing or interrupting the transmission of disease by decreasing the number of sandflies in surroundings through insecticide spray, use of insecticide-treated nets, etc.
  • The government aimed to eliminate the disease in India by 2015, but that deadline was missed.
  • However, the number of cases has been brought down significantly through the National Kala-Azar Elimination Programme.
  • Medicines, insecticides and technical support were given by the central government, while state governments provided for costs involved in implementation.
  • The program was implemented through State/District Malaria Control Offices and the primary health care system.

-Source: Indian Express


Incovacc: Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine


Context:

Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine, BBV154 or Incovacc is the world’s first intranasal vaccine to be approved as a booster dose for Covid-19.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Incovacc
  2. Mechanism

About Incovacc

The nasal vaccine is a recombinant replication-deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilized spike protein.

Significance:
  • Because the vaccine is administered through nasal spray, it eliminates the need for needles and syringes, which are currently necessary for administering all Covid-19 vaccines.
  • Additionally, it will lessen the need for medical staff with shot-giving training.
  • For Omicron variants that reproduce in the upper respiratory system before accessing the lungs, Incovacc is successful.
Mechanism:
  • The vaccination causes the mucosal membrane to mount an immune response while it is administered nasally.
  • In the upper respiratory tract, BBV154 may develop regional antibodies that have the ability to lessen the spread of the infection.
  • It can be claimed that the nasal vaccination is more likely to be effective at stopping transmission than the current generation of vaccines since it provides local immunity (in the nose where the virus initially enters).

-Source: Indian Express


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