Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - August 13, 2018

Science and Tech

ISRO set to launch its TV channel To promote scientific temper in country

Centenary Celebration at ISRO

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have an year-long Vikram Sarabhai centenary celebration starting in August 2019 to honour the visionary scientist and legendary founding father.

Dedicated ISRO Channel

  • It plans to roll out a dedicated ISRO TV channel, showcasing space applications, developments and science issues, targeting young viewers and people in remote areas in their language.

99th birthday of the legend - Vikram Sarabhai

  • Sarabhai, the architect of the Indian space programme, the first ISRO chief and renowned cosmic ray scientist, was born on August 12, 1919.
  • ISRO’s tributes to Sarabhai start with naming the first Indian moon landing spacecraft of the Chandrayaan-2 mission ‘Vikram’. The mission is planned for early 2019.
  • A chair each at Sarabhai's two alma maters, Cambridge University and Gujarat University, as also at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), would be set up, apart from giving awards, scholarships and fellowships in the country and abroad
  • 100 lectures by science luminaries would be held across the country and in association with the International Astronautical Federation, the global space networking body. Space clubs, knowledge centres and talk shows are also among the plans.

Public satellite launches

  • ISRO will shortly start allowing the public to watch satellite launches from its Sriharikota launch centre.
  • ISRO is opening its space port to visitors just as NASA (the U.S.’ National Aeronautical and Space Administration) does

Science and Tech

IGIB team finds a new target to reverse iron overload disease Discovered a pathway that regulates hepcidin hormone production


  • Using zebrafish, researchers at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) have successfully discovered a pathway that regulates hepcidin hormone production.

Hepcidin hormone

  • The hepcidin hormone, released by the liver, is a central regulator of iron in the body.
  • Dysregulation of the hormone leads to anaemia on one hand and excess iron accumulation in organs such as liver and heart leading to multi-organ failure.


  • It is a rare hereditary disease that is characterised by iron accumulation or overload in various tissues.
  • The symptoms are non-specific and hence difficult to diagnose.
  • Current options only manage the disease by removing excess iron.

Gene mutations

  • Mutations in about six genes are known to cause reduction in hepcidin hormone production thereby causing excess iron accumulation.
  • The research team led by Chetana Sachidanandan created a disease model in zebrafish by mutating one of these genes (TFR2).
  • Mutations in the TFR2 gene cause a severe form of the disease.
  • The zebrafish with the mutant gene showed excess iron accumulation in organs, quite similar to what is seen in humans.
  • Hepcidin hormone is low in the hemochromatosis patients, and that this causes iron overload.

Genetic ‘barcodes’ reveal three frogs unreported in India


  • Each species can be recognised by its unique genetic ‘barcode’ and using this method, a team of scientists has identified three frog species not recorded in India before.
  • The researchers also found that the ornate narrow-mouthed frog — thought to be widely-distributed in Asia — is seen only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka.
  • It was the complex taxonomy of the ornate narrow-mouthed frog — it was first described in 1841 — that prompted the team to study it further.
  • They collected 62 of these frogs across India and analysed their genetic data using DNA barcoding. They compared this with available genetic data from across south Asia.

Complex taxonomy

  • Unravelling complex taxonomy, the team found that India is home to not just the ornate narrow-mouthed frog but also the Nilphamari, Mymensingh and Mukhlesur’s narrow-mouthed frogs (seen in other south Asian countries).
  • The study reveals that the ornate narrow-mouthed frog is present only in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. However, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies the species as “Least Concern” based on the outdated information that it is widespread.

Status review

  • The study would “enable IUCN to review the conservation status of this group of frogs across South Asia at the earliest opportunity
  • Species informations are outdated for India and Sri Lanka and we are awaiting funding to begin re-assessments

Enlighten about AWSAR


Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve enters UNESCO list 11 Indian reserves now listed in World Network of Biosphere Reserves The Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak in the world


  • The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) of Sikkim, the highest biosphere reserve in the country that includes the third highest mountain peak in the world, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), has been included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WHBR).
  • The decision was taken at the International Coordinating Council of Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme, UNESCO, in its 30th Session held at Palembang, Indonesia
  • With the inclusion of the KBR, one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1,220 m to 8,586 m above sea level, the number of biosphere reserves from the country included in World Network of Biosphere Reserves has increased to 11.
  • The last biosphere reserve to be included was the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in Kerala in 2016.
  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was the first reserve from the country to be included in the WNBR.
  • India has 18 biospheres reserves, of which 11 have been included in the WNBR.

Benefits of getting into the list

  • The inclusion of the KBR in the UNESCO list will boost the unique ecosystem of Sikkim on two counts: collaborative research and tourism.
  • This development will boost international research collaboration relating to flora, fauna and ecosystem of the KBR.
  • Sikkim, with a population of about 6 lakh, gets15 lakh tourists annually. This will help us get more tourists
  • The Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), which comprises the core area of the KBR, was inscribed as India’s first “Mixed World Heritage Site” on July 17, 2016.
  • Eighty six per cent of the core lies in the Alpine zone and the remaining portions are located in the Himalayan wet temperate and sub tropical moist deciduous forest.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve/Biodiversity hotspot

  • The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots that has good species diversity with high levels of endemism, with many mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, stupas (shrines) and hot springs.
  • The biosphere reserve has also listed 362 species of ferns.“Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants are found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim
  • Many species protected under the Wildlife Protection Act have their home in the KBR.
  • This includes the Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Himalayan Black Beer and herbivores species of Musk deer, Great Tibetan Sheep, Blue Sheep, Boral and Barking Deer.
  • Over 500 species and sub-species of birds, including high-altitude pheasants — Monal Pheasants, Tragopan Pheasants and Blood Pheasants (the State Bird) — are also found in the reserve.

State Specific

AMBIS to increase detection, conviction rates Crime-fighting software will integrate databases across country


  • Automated Multi-modal Biometric Identification System (AMBIS),


  • To be implemented by the Maharashtra which will results going up in crime detection and conviction rates in the State

Enlighten about the system

  • The system is unique as it uses mobile live scanners, and a police patrol team on the spot if a suspect has criminal antecedents.
  • Besides detecting crime through fingerprints at the crime scene, the system with the help of retinal scan, writers pad, palm and even bare sole scans can help trace criminals with 100% accuracy, and that too within a 0.46 milliseconds.

Data sharing

  • He said fingerprint data can be shared by the State government with the National Crime Records Bureau, other State governments, investigation agencies, courts, crime experts and even with Interpol and foreign investigation agencies.
  • The system will prove useful identifying bodies, especially in cases where the body is mutilated, does not have an arm or a hand is lost. In such cases, the bare sole scan can help identify the body
  • Another major irrefutable advantage of the system is that with retinal scans, it will be difficult for criminals to escape the law.

Retina cant be removed

  • If in some cases if fingerprints are not available if the criminals try to burn their hands, but they surely cannot burn their retina.
  • The retina of every individual is unique, and the blood vessels inside the retina too have unique arrangement
  • Another feature of the system is facial recognition of suspects in cases of mob violence and mob lynching, with the help of photographs and CCTV footage.
  • In the case of a first-time criminal, the system will create complete biometric data which will be useful in future
  • Under the system, every police station in the State will have a scanner linked to the main server at the State Police headquarters.

Zero data loss

  • The hi-tech system ensures there will be no data loss, and has back-up facility at a very high level.
  • Another feature of AMBIS is that it can be interfaced with any other operating system, whereby data can be accessed anywhere, anytime.”
  • At present the world over, AMBIS is being used by Interpol and other European agencies.
  • It uses NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) file and process standards, which allow free interchange of data with Interpol and other international agencies, when required.

Sources – PIB , The Hindu , IndianExpress