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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 6th Nov 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 6th Nov 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

NexCAR19 : Gene Therapy

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has granted market authorisation for NexCAR19, India’s first indigenously-developed Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR-T cell) Therapy.

  • India is now one of the first developing countries to have its indigenous CAR-T and gene therapy platform.
  • NexCar19 is a type of CAR-T and gene therapy developed indigenously in India by ImmunoACT, which is a company incubated at IIT Bombay.
  • It is designed to target cancer cells that carry the CD19 protein.
  • This protein acts like a flag on cancer cells, which allows CAR-T cells to recognise and attach themselves to the cancer cells and start the process of elimination.
  • Even some developed nations don’t have their own CAR-T therapies; they import them from the United States or Europe.
  • NexCAR19 therapy is intended for people with B-cell lymphomas who have not responded to standard treatments like chemotherapy and have experienced relapse or recurrence of cancer.
  • Initially, the therapy is approved for patients aged 15 years and older.
  • The process commences with the patient donating blood at a transfusion center. The T-cells are genetically modified and reinfused into the patient within a period of 7-10 days.

International Biosphere Reserve Day 2023:

International Biosphere Reserve Day, celebrated on November 3, annually highlights the critical importance of biosphere reserves(BR) in safeguarding our environment and promoting sustainability.

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) partnered with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, concluded the 10th South and Central Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting (SACAM) in Chennai, India.
  • Theme: “Ridge to Reef,” facilitated collaboration on sustainable environmental practices in South and Central Asia.
  • World Biosphere Reserve Day celebrates the role of biosphere reserves in conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable development.
  • Established by UNESCO in 2022, to be observed annually on November 3.
  • Aims to raise awareness, share best practices, and showcase achievements of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

Biosphere Reserve:

  • Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’.
  • They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.
  • They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.
  • Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Sixth Assembly Of International Solar Alliance:

The Sixth Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was convened at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi.

Major Highlights of the Assembly:

  • The Assembly discussed the ISA’s broader strategy, emphasizing the need to focus on energy access before transitioning to renewable sources, echoing the organization’s philosophy of “access first and then transition.”
  • The assembly announced an increase in Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for projects, raising it from 10% to a range of 10% to 35% to foster greater investments, particularly in African countries.
  • Four projects supported by the ISA were inaugurated during the assembly.
  • These initiatives spanned across different countries:
    • Solarization of the Malawi Parliament
    • Solarization of rural healthcare centers in Fiji
    • Installation of a solar-powered cold storage in Seychelles
    • Solarization of a school in Kiribati
  • India reaffirmed the commitment to make solar energy the primary energy source and emphasized that renewable energy could potentially supply 65% of the world’s total electricity by 2030 and decarbonize 90% of the power sector by 2050.

International Solar Alliance:

  • The International Solar Alliance is an action-oriented, member-driven, collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies as a means for bringing energy access, ensuring energy security, and driving energy transition in its member countries.
  • Initially conceived as a joint effort by India and France, ISA was conceptualized during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in 2015.
  • With its framework Agreement amended in 2020, all UN member states are eligible to join ISA.
  • Currently, 116 countries are signatories, with 94 having completed the necessary ratification to become full members.

3rd International Convention On Sustainable Trade And Standards (ICSTS):

The Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous organization of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry hosted the 3rd International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS) in New Delhi.

  • ICSTS, a two-day event, has been organized by the India National Platform on Private Sustainability Standards (India PSS Platform) and hosted by QCI in collaboration with the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS).
  • The ICSTS aims to raise awareness and foster dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS), which are tools to improve the environmental and social aspects of global value chains.

Key Highlights of ICSTS:

  • QCI and the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) signed a bilateral agreement to strengthen trade relations and harmonize standards, promoting global trade landscape.
  • India has forged partnerships with Brazil and Mexico and has now extended cooperation with the ARSO regarding Voluntary Sustainability Standards.
  • Sustainability Standards are special rules that guarantee the products you buy do not hurt the environment and the people who make them.
  • The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative was highlighted as it is driving the digitalization initiative, revolutionizing e-commerce in India and making trade more accessible and efficient in the digital age.
  • This initiative aligns with international standards, ensuring data confidentiality and trustworthiness.
  • ONDC identified QCI to assess the digital Readiness of entities to smoothly join the ONDC Network’s Seller App.
  • At ICSTS, India Good Agricultural Practices standards were compared to GLOBAL Good Agricultural Practices standards through the National Technical Working Group (NTWG) mechanism and creation of National Interpretation Guidelines (NIG) also took place at the ICSTS.
  • This helps align Indian agricultural practices with global standards. The creation of NIG provides guidelines for applying these standards in India.
  • These efforts will benefit around 12,000 farmers by ensuring they meet international quality and sustainability standards.

Adaptation Gap Report:

According to the Adaptation Gap Report, the money being made available to developing countries for adaptation measures has been declining and is nowhere near the scale of requirement.

Key findings of the report:

  • It is estimated that adaptation costs will increase significantly by 2050 for most sectors, especially under high-warming scenarios.
  • The adaptation finance needs are 10-18 times as high as the current international public adaptation fund flows.
  • The world countries must urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase adaptation efforts to protect vulnerable populations.
  • In 2021, funding from developed countries to developing countries for adaptation projects was 15% lower than in previous years.
  • It identifies seven ways to bridge the adaptation gap, which include an increase in international finance flows and greater domestic mobilisation of resources.
  • Also, it calls for a reform of the global financial architecture to ensure greater and easier access to finance for climate-related purposes from multilateral agencies such as the World Bank or the IMF.

ENCORE Software : Election Commission

The Election Commission of India has designed in-house software, ENCORE, for complete Candidate and election management.

  • ENCORE software stands for Enabling Communications On Real-Time Environment.
  • This provides a seamless facility for Returning Officers to process candidate nominations, affidavits, Voter turnout, counting, results, and data management.
  • The ENCORE counting application is an end-to-end application for returning officers to digitize the votes polled, tabulate the round-wise data and then take out various statutory reports of counting.
  • Another application called the ENCORE Scrutiny Application allows Returning Officers to do scrutiny of the nominations filed by the candidates online.
  • After verification of the nomination the status is marked as Accepted, Rejected or Withdrawn helping the Returning Officer to prepare the final list of contesting candidates and assign the symbols.

New eDNA Sequencing Method To Assess Biodiversity:

Researchers from the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad have developed a new eDNA sequencing method to assess biodiversity.

  • Environmental DNA is DNA shed by all organisms into their surroundings through natural processes during their lifetime or after death.
  • It originates from cellular material shed by organisms (via the skin, excrement, etc.) into aquatic or terrestrial environments that can be sampled and monitored using new molecular methods.
  • The new non-invasive method can assess the total biodiversity of any ecosystem by sequencing the DNA fragments found in environmental samples such as water, soil, or air.
  • This method can detect all kinds of organisms, including viruses, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes such as fungi, plants, insects, birds, fish and other animals.
  • This method requires just a few litres of water sample without any direct capture or counting of species.
  • The researchers filter out eDNA from environmental samples, read their sequences, and thus identify the source of the eDNA.

Tellurium : Study

Physicists recently found evidence that tellurium is produced in neutron star mergers.

  • Tellurium is a semi-metallic, lustrous, crystalline, brittle, silver-white element.
  • Atomic Number: 52
  • It has the properties of both metals and nonmetals.
  • It forms many compounds corresponding to those of sulphurand selenium.
  • When burned in the air, tellurium has a greenish-blue flame and forms tellurium dioxide as a result.
  • Tellurium is a semiconductor material and is slightly photosensitive.
  • It is one of the only elements that readily combine with gold (Au).
  • Tellurium is sometimes found free in nature.
  • More commonly, it is found combined with metals, such as in the minerals calaverite (gold telluride, AuTe2) and sylvanite (silver-gold telluride).
  • Commercially, tellurium is obtained as a byproduct of electrolytic copper refining.
  • Tellurium is alloyed with copper and stainless steel to make these metals more workable.
  • It is added at very low levels to lead to decreases the corrosive action of sulfuric acid in batteries and to improve the lead’s strength and hardness.

Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005:

The Supreme Court recently agreed to examine whether a transgender woman can claim maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act).

  • The DV Act was enacted by Parliament on September 13, 2005, and extends to the whole of India.
  • It is basically meant to provide protection to a wife or female live-in partner from violence at the hands of the husband, a male live-in-partner, or his relatives.
  • Domestic violence under the Act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or economic.
  • Harassment by way of dowry demands is also covered under the definition of domestic violence.
  • The Act covers all women who may be mother, sister, wife, widow, or partners living in a shared household.
  • The relationship may be in the nature of marriage or adoption.
  • In addition, relationships with family members living together as a joint family are also included.
  • Any woman who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the offender or any person may file a complaint on her behalf.
  • A child is also entitled to relief under the DV Act.
  • The mother of such a child can make an application on behalf of her minor child (whether male or female).
  • In cases where the mother makes an application to the court for herself, the children can also be added as co-applicants.
  • However, no female relative of the husband or the male partner can file a complaint against the wife or the female partner.

Odonata Species : Identified

Around 50 Odonata species were identified on the first day of the two-day Odonata survey that commenced in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) recently

  • Odonata is an insect order consisting of three groups: Anisoptera(which includes dragonflies), Zygoptera (which includes damselflies), and Anisozygoptera (a relict group represented by only two living species).
  • It is one of the ancient orders of insects.
  • Odonata is a diverse group, with over 6,000 known species.
  • They are globally distributed, from the tropics, where they are most numerous and varied, to the boreal forests of Siberia and North America.
  • They are also found throughout the Southern Hemisphere, with the exception of Antarctica.
    India is highly diverse, with more than 500 known species.
  • They are found in a variety of habitats, such as freshwater environments like ponds, rivers, and lakes, and are typically associated with bodies of water during their larval stage.
  • Many characteristics distinguish Odonata from other groups of insects: minute antennae, extremely large eyes (filling most of the head), two pairs of transparent membranous wings with many small veins, a long slender abdomen, and an aquatic larval stage (nymph).
  • The abdomen is almost always longer than any of the wings.
  • More than 80% of their brain is devoted to analysing visual information.
  • Large, active by day, and often strikingly coloured, they are usually seen flying near water.
  • Their mouths have been adapted for biting, making them efficient hunters.
  • Adult odonates are voracious predators, as are the aquatic larvae.

New epiphytic Plant:

Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered a new species of epiphytic plant, Lysionotus namchoomii, from the Pakke-Kessang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

  • New epiphytic plant named Lysionotus
  • The native range of the genus Lysionotus is the Himalayas to Japan and Indo-China, and about 50% of the species found are endemic.
  • Species of the genus are mostly epiphytic, lithophytic, or terrestrial evergreen erect or climbing subshrubs.
  • The new species bears thick leaves and attractive purple flowers.
  • The conservation status of this new species is provisionally assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’, in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
  • It is epiphytic in nature and grows another plant.
  • Epiphytic plants are mostly found in tropical and subtropical

Vitrimer : Sustainable Plastic

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have successfully created “sustainable plastic,” which is based on an epoxy resin vitrimer.

  • Vitrimer represent a relatively recent category of plastics known for their impressive strength at low temperatures.
  • They also possess the unique ability to be reshaped numerous times when exposed to higher temperatures.
  • It is also partially biodegradable.
  • To address this issue, researchers introduced a molecule called polyrotaxane into the plastic synthesis process, resulting in a novel plastic variant they’ve dubbed VPR, an abbreviation for “vitrimer incorporated with polyrotaxane.”
  • VPR is over five times as resistant to breaking as a typical epoxy resin vitrimer.
  • At a high temperature of around 150 degrees Celsius, VPR starts to recombine, allowing the material to take on different forms.
  • It also repairs itself 15 times as fast, can recover its original memorised shape twice as fast, and can be chemically recycled 10 times as fast as the typical vitrimer.
  • It even biodegrades safely in a marine environment, which is new for this material.