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Showing posts from January 8, 2017

Unclogging the cities (Hindu.)

The move to make New Delhi’s iconic Connaught Place a pedestrian zone from February, and keep out cars and other vehicles from its middle and inner circle roads, during a three-month trial programme is an inspiring attempt to reconquer public space. Urban design in India is the preserve of State governments and local bodies, which have failed spectacularly to provide a safe, comfortable and accessible experience for walkers. The pilot project in the national capital represents a refreshing change, taking a leaf out of the book of global cities that have pedestrianised their landmarks, often in the face of conservative opposition. Prominent examples are Times Square in New York and the route along the Seine in Paris, and the curbs on cars in central avenue in Madrid. Contrary to apprehensions that restrictions affect commercial activity, the experience around the world has been quite the opposite: better walking and public transport infrastructure and availability of food plazas attra…

The slowing economy (Hindu)

That India’s economic momentum has slowed down is now beyond doubt. Advance GDP estimates and gross value added (GVA) for the current fiscal year from the Central Statistics Office clearly reveal the extent of the slowdown. While GDP growth is now pegged at 7.1 per cent, compared with a 7.6 per cent pace in 2015-16, GVA is forecast to expand at 7 per cent this year, easing from the 7.2 per cent posted 12 months earlier. And as the Chief Statistician emphasised, these projections were based solely on data from the first seven months through October and do not factor in the impact from the withdrawal of high-value banknotes and the consequent cash crunch. A closer look at the sectoral GVA projections throws into relief the areas of concern: Mining and quarrying is estimated to shrink 1.8 per cent this year after expanding 7.4 per cent a year earlier, while electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services — collectively an indicator of broader economic activity — is slowing to …
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the negotiating position adopted by India at the recent 28th Meeting of Parties (MoP) to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda.
Which of the following is/are correct
1 In the Kigali meet, India had successfully negotiated the baseline years within a range of 2024 to 2030
2 India will completely phase down of HFCs in 4 steps from 2032 onwards
3 It also gives additional HCFC allowance of 65% that will be added to the Indian baseline consumption and production.

All Correct

Article 51 States
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India 
1 to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, 
2 Respect the national Flag 
3 Stand during the National Anthem

All correct

Maharashtra forest department bans collection of tendu leaves from areas prone to forest fires (downtoearth)

Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to ban collection and sale of tendu leaves in areas where forest fires occur. The state forest department’s latest tender notice for tendu collection contracts issued on January 17 features a clause that tendu contractors and gram panchayats will be responsible for preventing and extinguishing of fires in tendu units (areas where tendu grows) from January 15 to June 15 every year.

It further says that if a fire covering one hectare or more occurs in a tendu unit between January 15 and the date of auction, the unit will be withdrawn from auction without compensation. If fire takes place after a unit has been auctioned, the contract will be cancelled without compensation and the security deposit of the contractor withheld.

The document also acknowledges that a large number of fires in tendu areas are started deliberately by contractors to get better growth of young tendu plants, which are more commercially valuable.

Contractors’ unh…

Chipko: Environmentalism of the poor (downtoearth)

WHENEVER a dictionary of green terms is written, even if it is in English, it will contain at least one Hindi word. And that word is Chipko.

The idea that people are prepared to hug trees to save them from being felled excited and enthused so many people across the country, that it built the foundation for a nationwide environmental concern and a whole generation of home-grown environmentalists. Given the fact that there was a powerful environmental concern growing in the West, there would have been, sooner or later, a fallout of this Western phenomenon in India. But this country did not have to wait for it. Chipko had a deep intellectual impact and helped to resolve the conflict between the concepts of development and environmental protection, without which the environment concern could not have come to enjoy a reasonably widespread acceptance in a poor, developing country.

Whereas Indira Gandhi had told the 1972 Stockholm Conference in no uncertain terms that "poverty is the b…

Traditional water management systems key to water security'(downtoearth)

Describe your work in Kachchh and Bhuj region

I focus on land and water resources management. Kachchh is an arid region. Every morning brings with it the uncertainty of water. Rainfall is irregular and so the problems of the area are compounded by drought. Large-scale deep boring has led to the depletion of ground water resources.

I developed a new approach for water management. I turned to traditional systems of water resource management instead of unsustainable solutions devised through water engineering.

My organisation focuses on four things: knowledge-based research and planning, institution building, capacity building at the rural level, documentation, and dissemination of information.

What are the traditional ways to mitigate drought?

Traditionally, water resources were planned and conserved for at least three years. The catchment areas of rain water were diverted to community ponds. Structures to store water were also constructed. People had a geological solution.

I implement…

Breakthrough in tackling zika: scientists identify proteins that make virus deadly (downtoearth)

While researchers have experimented (and still doing) with mosquitoes to understand how they locate their hosts and spread pathogens, it is for the first time that scientists have identified seven key proteins in zika virus that may be the culprits behind this damage.

The zika outbreak was reported in early 2016, infecting hundreds of thousands of people around the world, mostly in the Americas.

But it took long for researchers to identify a range of health problems, including birth defects, caused by the virus. A study had also observed complications in pregnancy cycle among women infected with Zika virus (ZIKV). These complications include miscarriages, signs of abnormal brain development and even brain hemorrhages. Neurological problems like Guillain-Barré syndrome are also attributed to Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that can adapt in high-density urban areas.

However, scientists were not able to identify which Zika protein or proteins are causing harm and exactly how these proteins ar…

Eveready eyes air purifiers as appliances find takers(hindu)

KOLKATA: Buoyed by the response to its test-marketing of appliances, battery major Eveready Industries India Ltd is now eyeing newer segments.

``We have already launched items like mixer grinder, juicers, ceiling fans, irons and recently winter appliances like geysers and room heaters and response has been positive”, company managing director Amritanshu Khaitan told The Hindu, adding that the test-marketing has been done in the North and East and `` the entry has been positive for the brand.”

Pointing out that the company was now eyeing the air-purifier segment in which it sees good traction in view of growing air pollution, he said that by 2017-18, EIIL is targetting a contribution of around six per cent from appliances.

Since appliances are mainly discretionary purchases they have been impacted by demonetisation . “Just when they had begun doing well came the demonetisation drive but the recovery is already evident” according to Mr Khaitan.

For some years now EIIL has been trying t…

IIT Gandhinagar scientists develop irrigation maps of India(hindu)

High-resolution maps of major agroecological zones are available from 2000 onwards. The maps will be updated every year

For the first time, high-resolution maps of irrigated areas of India from 2000-2015 have been prepared using remote sensing data. The maps were validated with ground-based survey data. High-resolution irrigated water maps are essential for estimation of irrigation water demand and consumption on a spatial scale, crop productivity assessments and hydrologic modelling.

The maps were developed by a team led by Dr. Vimal Mishra from the Civil Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The results were published in Scientific Data, a journal from the Nature group.

While the irrigation maps developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) are of low resolution, the high-resolution maps of International Water Management Institute (IWMI) are available for just one year and do not cover the entire country. “So we developed annual ir…

Woman scientist nominated for Swarnajayanti fellowship?(hindu,)

Jyotirmayee Dash, associate professor at the Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Jadavpur, Kolkata has been nominated for the prestigious Swarnajayanti fellowship award instituted by the Department of Science and Technology for the year 2015-16.

She is the only woman scientist among the 11 nominated for the fellowship this year. Dr. Dash has received the award in the chemical science discipline. Dr. T. Govindaraju from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru is the other person who has been nominated in the same discipline.

Dr. Kausik Chakraborty from the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi and Dr. Dasaradhi Palakodeti from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, NCBS, Bengaluru have been nominated in the life sciences discipline.

While Dr. Santanu Misra from IIT Kanpur is nominated in the earth and atmospheric science, and Dr. Prahladh Harsha from TIFR in the mathe…

A thumb imprint is enough to help detect jaundice(hindu)

IIT-Guwahati reseachers employ a technique that makes use of gold nanoclusters and copper sulphate for quick tests for bilirubin levels

Now, a thumb imprint is all that is required for detecting hyperbilirubinemia, a condition in which the amount of bilirubin in the blood is in excess and turns the sclera of the eye, urine and even the skin yellow. Hyperbilirubinemia is commonly seen in people with jaundice and newborns; a person is said to have jaundice when the bilirubin concentration in the blood typically exceeds 12 ppm in adults and 50 ppm in a newborn.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have tested the sensitivity and specificity of a simple, quick, point-of-care test for detecting excess bilirubin in patients.

While visual observation of yellow colour of the sclera and/or urine is routine for detecting jaundice, it is confirmed by a blood test.

A team led by Prof. Arun Chattopadhyay from the Department of Chemistry and Centre for Nanotechnology, I…

A novel electrode for lithium batteries(hindu)

IIT-Madras team enhances capacity retention of anode material in the charging device four-fold

A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have been able to enhance the capacity retention of anode material in lithium ion batteries four-fold compared to commercially available lithium batteries.

The team was able to develop a novel composite that can deliver specific capacity retention of 1,120 mAh/g after 10,000 cycles, and work at high current density (ability to draw more current from a cell within a short time) with long cycle life by combining two types of lithium ion storage mechanisms. The results were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Compared with graphite, carbon nanotube (CNT) has several advantages as an anode material. However, the efficiency (or irreversible capacity) of carbon nanotube anode is an issue. Also, the lithium ions that get inserted into the carbon nanotube during charging do not fully come out during discharge. S…