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[Newsbits] 6-7.02.2024: Vyommitra, Obelisks & more

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/ Chemistry
New Technique by RRI Enhances Imaging of Cold Atoms mind map
Recent News
Raman Research Institute (RRI)
Develops new image-correction algorithm
Enhances cold atoms imaging
Published in Applied Optics journal
When
Announced February 2024
Why
Challenges in traditional imaging techniques
Unwanted interference fringes in images
Lowered quality of results
What
Image-correction technique
Based on eigenface recognition
Uses smart masking
Reduces interference fringes by 50%
Optical Density Calculation
Logarithmic subtraction
Two frames: cold cloud (S) and probe light (L)
Challenges with non-identical interference fringes
Applications
Improved understanding of quantum mechanics
Studying atoms at absolute zero temperature
Used in magneto-optical traps
Laser cooling techniques
Elements Studied
Sodium
Potassium
Rubidium
Where
Raman Research Institute
India
Who
RRI Scientists
Gourab Pal, PhD student
Saptarishi Chaudhuri, head QuMix lab
How
Eigenface recognition technique
Smart masking for image correction
Calculating Optical Density
Significance
50% reduction in interference fringes
Better quality images
Enhanced study of atomic properties
Improved temperature uncertainty measurements
Challenges
Traditional imaging challenges
Non-identical interference fringes
Way Forward
Further optimization of technique
Application in wider quantum mechanics studies

Scientists at India’s Raman Research Institute have developed a new image-correction algorithm that significantly improves the imaging of cold atoms, which are atoms at temperatures nearing absolute zero. This advanced technique is pivotal for studying the quantum mechanics properties of these atoms. The algorithm reduces unwanted interference fringes in images by about 50%, thereby enhancing the quality of the images used in these studies. This development promises to aid in a deeper understanding of atomic properties governed by quantum mechanics at extremely low temperatures.

/ Animal Husbandry
Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund mind map
Recent News
Continued till 2025-26
Outlay of Rs.29,610.25 crore
Approved by Union Cabinet
Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
When
Extension announced on 1st February 2024
Why
To boost animal husbandry sector
Enhance livestock infrastructure
What/Full Provisions
Includes various sub-sectors
Dairy processing and product diversification
Meat processing and product diversification
Animal Feed Plant
Breed multiplication farm
Animal Waste to Wealth Management
Veterinary vaccine and drug production facilities
Financial Support
3% interest subvention for 8 years
Including 2 years of moratorium
Loan up to 90% from banks, NCDC, NABARD, NDDB
Credit Guarantee
For MSME and Dairy Cooperatives
Up to 25% of credit from a Rs.750 crore fund
Where
Implemented across India
Who
Beneficiaries
Individuals
Private Companies
Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO)
MSME
Section 8 companies
Dairy Cooperatives
Implementing Agency
Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying
How
Impact since inception
Added 141.04 LLPD of milk processing capacity
79.24 lakh metric ton of feed processing
9.06 lakh metric ton of meat processing
Increase in processing capacity by 2-4%
Pros/Significance
Employment generation
Direct and indirect to 35 lakh people
Entrepreneurship development
Wealth creation in livestock sector
Supports Prime Minister's goal of doubling farmers' income
Encourages private sector investment
Introduces latest technologies for processing and value addition
Cons and/or Challenges
[No specific challenges mentioned in the sources]
Way Forward
Encouraging more private investments
Continual infrastructure upgrade
Focusing on new activities
Technologically assisted breed multiplication farms
Strengthening veterinary drugs and vaccine units
Management of animal waste to wealth

In summary, the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund is a comprehensive scheme by the Indian government to strengthen and expand the animal husbandry sector, including dairy, meat, and feed processing. It involves a significant financial outlay and aims to increase processing capacities, generate employment, and encourage private investments in the sector, aligning with the broader goal of enhancing farmers’ income and contributing to the national economy.

/ Biology
Obelisks mind map
Recent News
New Discovery
In Human Gut Microbes
Virus-Like Entities
When
Discovery Announced
January 2024
Why
Scientific Research
Investigating Human Microbiome
What
Characteristics
Circular RNA Genomes
Resemble Rod-Like Structures
Genetic Material
1,000 Bases Long
Novel Protein Superfamily
Called Oblins
No Sequence or Structural Similarity
To Known Biological Agents
Found All Over the World
In Various Microbiomes
Where
Locations in Human Body
Human Gut
Human Mouth
Who
Researchers Involved
Team at Stanford University
Cell and Developmental Biologist Mark Peifer
Biochemist Ivan Zheludev
Organisms Hosting Obelisks
Streptococcus Sanguinis
How
Methodology
Trawling through Genetic Sequences
Analyzed Over 5 Million Datasets
Found in 7% of Stool Samples
Found in 50% of Oral Samples
Significance
Uncovering Unknown Microbial Life
Deepens Understanding of Microbiome
Challenges
Uncertain Function
Unclear Role in Human Health
Research Yet to be Peer-Reviewed
Way Forward
Further Studies Needed
To Determine Functions
To Explore Health Impacts

The recent discovery of “Obelisks,” a new class of virus-like entities, has brought significant attention in the scientific community. Found within the human gut and mouth, these entities feature unique circular RNA genomes and are unlike any known biological agents. They were identified by researchers who analyzed over 5 million genetic datasets, finding their presence in 7% of stool samples and 50% of oral samples worldwide. Named after their rod-like structure resembling ancient monuments, obelisks contain genes for a novel protein superfamily called “Oblins.” Despite their widespread presence and intriguing nature, their function and impact on human health remain largely unknown, marking an exciting yet challenging frontier in microbiome research.

Subsidised Sugar Scheme mind map
Recent News
Extension Approved
Till 31 March 2026
By Union Cabinet
Chaired by
Prime Minister Narender Modi
When
Approved on
1 February 2024
Why
Support Vulnerable Sections
Improving Health
Energy Addition to Diet
Modi ki Guarantee
'Food for All, Nutrition for All'
What
Subsidy Details
Rs 18.50 per kg
Per month of sugar
Beneficiaries
Antyodya Anna Yojna (AAY) Families
Distribution
Via Public Distribution Scheme (PDS)
Benefits Extent
More than Rs 1,850 crore
During 15th Finance Commission
Period 2020-21 to 2025-26
Targeted Families
Approximately 1.89 crore
Additional Government Measures
Free Ration under PM-GKAY
Sale of Bharat Atta, Bharat Dal
Affordable Tomatoes and Onions
Where
Across India
Participating States
Who
Beneficiaries
Antyodya Anna Yojna (AAY) Families
Responsibility of States
Procurement and Distribution
How
Distribution Process
One kg per family per month
Through PDS
Significance
Economic Support
To Most Vulnerable
Health Improvement
Of Poor Citizens
Comprehensive Food Security
Including Dal, Atta, Sugar

The Subsidised Sugar Scheme, recently extended until March 31, 2026, by the Indian government under Prime Minister Narender Modi, aims to support economically vulnerable sections of society. This scheme provides a subsidy of Rs 18.50 per kg of sugar each month to approximately 1.89 crore families under the Antyodya Anna Yojna (AAY), distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS). This initiative is part of a broader effort to ensure food and nutritional security for all, aligned with the government’s ‘Modi ki Guarantee’ of ‘Food for All, Nutrition for All’. The scheme not only offers economic support to the poorest citizens but also contributes to their health improvement by ensuring access to essential food items like sugar, dal, and atta at affordable prices.

Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024 mind map
Recent News
Introduced
In Lok Sabha
Date
February 5, 2024
Passed
In Lok Sabha
Date
February 6, 2024
When
Dates
Introduced
February 5, 2024
Passed
February 6, 2024
Why
Main Objective
Provide Reservation
For OBCs
In Panchayats
In Urban Local Bodies
Align with Constitution
Parts IX and IXA
What
Amends Acts
Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act
Year
1989
Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act
Year
2000
Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation Act
Year
2000
Provisions for OBCs
Reservation
In Local Bodies
New Inclusion
Where
Region
Jammu and Kashmir
Who
Introduced By
Union Minister of State
Name
Nityanand Rai
On Behalf Of
Union Home Minister
Name
Amit Shah
How
Legislative Process
Introduction
In Lok Sabha
Passage
In Lok Sabha
Significance
Ensures Justice
For OBC Citizens
Aligns with Constitutional Provisions
Parts IX and IXA
Challenges
Previous Constitutional Impediments
Led to Deferment
Of Local Body Polls
Way Forward
Implementation
Of Reservation Provisions
Conduction
Of Local Body Polls

The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024, is a legislative measure introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha on February 5 and 6, 2024, respectively. The bill aims to amend existing local body laws in Jammu and Kashmir, specifically the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act of 1989, the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act of 2000, and the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation Act of 2000. The primary objective of this amendment is to provide reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies in the region. This move is seen as an essential step towards ensuring justice for OBC citizens and aligning local body laws with the provisions of Parts IX and IXA of the Indian Constitution. The bill was introduced by Union Minister of State Nityanand Rai on behalf of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The significance of this bill lies in addressing previous constitutional impediments that had delayed local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir. The way forward includes the effective implementation of these reservation provisions and the conduct of local body elections.

Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code Bill mind map
Recent News
Passed by Uttarakhand Assembly
First State in India to pass UCC Law
When
Passed on Wednesday
Before Assembly
Tabled two days after Cabinet Approval
Why
Address gender discrimination
End injustices against women
Equality in marriage, divorce, land, property, inheritance
What
Uniform laws
Marriage
Divorce
Land
Property
Inheritance
Live-in relationships
Registration required
Heterosexual only
Age requirement
Minimum 21 years
Parental notification if below
Registration process
Submission of statement
Registrar inquiry
Approval or denial
Consequences for non-compliance
Notice issuance
Penalties
Fines
Imprisonment up to 6 months
Ending a live-in relationship
Notice to partner and Registrar
Rights of Women, Children
Maintenance for women
Legitimacy of children
Where
Uttarakhand State, India
Who
Pushkar Singh Dhami
Chief Minister
Committee for draft
Headed by Ranjana Prakash Desai
Includes Permod Kohli
How
Approval through voice vote
Aimed to establish uniform laws
Significance
Equality for all citizens
Stops atrocities against women
Grants equal rights
Challenges
Criticism for privacy infringement
Opposition remarks on personal life regulation
Way Forward
Awaiting Governor's Assent
Potential template for other states

The Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code Bill represents a landmark legal reform in Uttarakhand, aiming to establish uniform laws across various religions in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and property. It also includes provisions for regulating live-in relationships, requiring heterosexual couples to register their relationships with the government. This bill is seen as a step towards ensuring gender equality and ending discrimination against women. However, it has also attracted criticism for intruding into personal lives and lacking provisions for same-sex couples.

/ Youth
Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024 mind map
Recent News
Introduced in Lok Sabha
Date
February 5, 2024
Ministry
Personnel, Grievances, and Pensions
When
Introduced
February 5, 2024
Passed in Lok Sabha
February 6, 2024
Why
Prevent unfair means
In public examinations
Address issues
Paper leaks
Malpractices
Organized malpractices
What
Definition
Public examinations
Conducted by specified authorities
Union Public Service Commission
Staff Selection Commission
Railway Recruitment Board
National Testing Agency
Institute of Banking Personnel Selection
Central government departments
Offences
Unauthorised access or leakage
Of question paper or answer key
Assisting a candidate
Tampering with computer network
Tampering with documents
For merit list or rank finalisation
Conducting fake examination
Disclosing exam-related confidential info
Unauthorized entry into exam centres
Punishments
Imprisonment
Three to five years
Ten years for organized crime
Fines
Up to Rs 10 lakh
Up to Rs 1 crore for organized crime
For service providers
Fine of up to one crore rupees
Barred from conducting exams for four years
Responsibilities
Of service providers
Must report violations
Prohibited from changing exam centre without permission
Technical Committee
High level National Technical Committee
Develop protocol for IT security
Ensure electronic surveillance
Formulate standards for IT and physical infrastructure
Covers
Central recruitment and entrance exams
Exams like UPSC, SSC, NEET, JEE, CUET
Where
Across India
In all public examinations
Who
Dr. Jitendra Singh
Union Minister
Service Providers
Organisations supporting public exams
How
Stringent measures
To curb malpractices
Technical innovations
For online and technology-based exams
Significance
Reduces delays and cancellations
Due to malpractices
Ensures integrity
Of public examination systems
Impact
Greater transparency
Fairness and credibility
Safeguarding youth's future
Challenges
Implementation
Across diverse examination systems
Balancing
Security measures with accessibility
Way Forward
Adoption by states
As a model draft
Continuous updates
To address evolving challenges

The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, introduced in the Indian Lok Sabha on February 5, 2024, and passed the next day, is a legislative framework designed to curb malpractices like paper leaks and unfair means in public examinations. This Bill, under the Ministry of Personnel, Grievances, and Pensions, aims to ensure transparency, fairness, and integrity in the public examination systems. It covers exams conducted by various central authorities like the UPSC, SSC, and NTA. The Bill specifies stringent punishments, including imprisonment and hefty fines, particularly focusing on organized crime and service providers facilitating malpractices. A significant aspect of the Bill is the establishment of a High-level National Technical Committee to oversee the security of digital platforms used in examinations​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

/ Women
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation mind map
Recent News
Observed Annually
Date
February 6
Events
Global Awareness
Advocacy Initiatives
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Calls for Eradication
FGM/C Focus
UN Initiatives
Secretary-General Statements
António Guterres
Urges Action
Against Patriarchal Norms
Supports Survivors
FGM Elimination Goal
By 2030
As per SDGs
Survivor-Centric Approach
UN Women
Advocating Rights
Amplifying Voices
Supporting Autonomy
Health Risks Highlighted
UNFPA Efforts
Community Education
Breaking Cycle
Yemen Case Study
Safia's Story
When
Established
Year
2012 by UN General Assembly
Why
Human Rights Violation
Lifelong Harm
Physical
Mental
Gender-Based Violence
Discrimination Against Women
What
Definition
FGM Described
Removal or Injury
Female Genitalia
Non-Medical Reasons
Global Prevalence
Affected Population
200 Million Women and Girls
Risk Statistics
2024 Projection
4.4 Million Girls at Risk
Legal Context
U.S. Laws
STOP FGM Act of 2020
Under 18 Ban
Where
Geographic Prevalence
Africa
Middle East
Asia
Who
Organizations
UN
WHO
DHS
UNFPA
UN Women
Personalities
António Guterres
UN Secretary-General
Safia
Yemen Survivor
How
Global Efforts
Raising Awareness
Advocacy Campaigns
Policy Implementation
Challenges
Societal Norms
Lack of Education
Inadequate Legal Frameworks
Significance
Empowering Women
Upholding Rights
Health Benefits
Challenges
Cultural Barriers
Insufficient Resources
Incomplete Legal Protection
Way Forward
Global Cooperation
Strengthening Policies
Community Engagement

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, observed annually on February 6, is a global initiative to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). This day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, emphasizes the need to eliminate a practice that causes significant physical and mental harm to women and girls and is considered a severe violation of human rights and gender-based violence. With about 200 million affected women and girls globally and 4.4 million girls at risk in 2024 alone, the day calls for decisive action against patriarchal norms, amplifying survivors’ voices, and promoting global cooperation to uphold women’s rights and health. The efforts are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals’ target of eliminating FGM by 2030. Organizations like the UN, WHO, DHS, UNFPA, and UN Women play a pivotal role in this initiative through advocacy, raising awareness, and supporting legal frameworks like the U.S.’s STOP FGM Act of 2020.

/ Space
Vyommitra mind map
Recent News
Vyommitra Mission
Scheduled for third quarter 2024
Gaganyaan Mission
Follows Vyommitra
Manned space flight
Scheduled for 2025
When
Unveiled on 22 January 2020
Bengaluru, Human Spaceflight and Exploration symposium
Why
Simulate human functions in space
Enhance adaptability and functionality
Prepare for Gaganyaan mission
What
Designed to mimic human functions
Capabilities
Monitor module parameters
Issue alerts
Execute life support operations
Operate control panels
Respond to environmental changes
Interacts with life support systems
Where
Developed in India
To orbit Earth at 400 kilometers
Who
Developed by ISRO
Indian Space Research Organisation
Jitendra Singh
Union Minister of Science and Technology
How
Equipped with advanced capabilities
Operates control panels
Responds to queries
Significance
Technological advancement in space operations
Prepares for manned space flight
Contributes to global space community
Way Forward
Chandrayaan-3 mission
Successful landing on lunar South Pole
Crew escape system testing
Essential for astronaut safety
Gaganyaan project
Orbit three astronauts around Earth

Vyommitra, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is an advanced female robot astronaut designed to simulate human functions in space environments. The name ‘Vyommitra’ is derived from two Sanskrit words: ‘Vyoma’ (space) and ‘Mitra’ (friend), signifying its role as a companion in space exploration. Equipped with capabilities to monitor module parameters, issue alerts, and execute life support operations, Vyommitra is slated for a mission in the third quarter of 2024. This mission precedes the ambitious Gaganyaan mission, scheduled for 2025, which aims to send Indian astronauts into space for the first time. Vyommitra’s launch represents a significant step in technological advancement and preparation for India’s first manned space flight​​​​​​​​.

Vyommitra is a humanoid robot created by ISRO to pioneer space operations ahead of India’s first manned spaceflight, Gaganyaan. This mission is part of India’s continued efforts in space exploration and technological development. With Vyommitra’s successful deployment, India will further solidify its position in the global space community.

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