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INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS: 08 OCTOBER 2014

Alert in Rajasthan as polio strikes Pakistan

With Pakistan reporting the highest number of polio cases in the past 15 years, India has stepped up surveillance along the international border, particularly in Rajasthan, to check any spread of the infection.

While India was given the polio-free certificate by the World Health Organisation this February, Pakistan has recorded 202 polio cases this year — the highest in the world — accounting for 83 per cent of the cases reported globally until last week.

Other than Pakistan, neighbouring Afghanistan, and Nigeria, where polio is endemic, outbreaks have been reported from Syria, Somalia, Iraq and several African countries in the recent years. However, for India, the risk of transmission of this crippling and potentially deadly disease is more from Pakistan because of cross-border population movement — both legal and illegal.

About POLIO:

Polio (also called poliomyelitis) is a contagious, historically devastating disease that was virtually eliminated from the Western hemisphere in the second half of the 20th century. Although polio has been around since ancient times, its most extensive outbreak occurred in the first half of the 1900s until the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955.

It is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Symptoms and Cure:

Although approximately 90% of polio infections cause no symptoms at all, affected individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the virus enters the blood stream. In about 1% of cases, the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.

The focus of modern treatment has been on providing relief of symptoms, speeding recovery and preventing complications. Supportive measures include antibiotics to prevent infections in weakened muscles, analgesics for pain, moderate exercise and a nutritious diet. Treatment of polio often requires long-term rehabilitation, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, braces, corrective shoes and, in some cases, orthopedic surgery.

Pulse Polio in India:

Pulse Polio is an immunisation campaign established by the government of India in 1995-96 to eradicate poliomyelitis (polio) in India by vaccinating all children under the age of five years against polio virus. This project deals with the ways to fight poliomyelitis through a large scale immunisation programme, co-operating with various international institutions, state governments and Non Governmental Organisations, as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1995, following the Polio Eradication Initiative of World Health Organization (1988), India launched Pulse Polio Immunisation Program along with Universal Immunisation Program which aimed at 100% coverage.

On 27 March 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) declared India a polio free country with no case of disease being reported in last three years.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, www.unicef.org, www.who.int.

 

SAT upholds SEBI order against Angel Broking

The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has upheld the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s order against Angel Broking in case related to violations of stock broker norms and fraudulent dealings in shares of Sterling Green Woods.

About SAT:

Securities Appellate Tribunal is a statutory body established under the provisions of Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 to hear and dispose of appeals against orders passed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India or by an adjudicating officer under the Act and to exercise jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on the Tribunal by or under this Act or any other law for the time being in force.

It covers the whole of India.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Memorandum of Understanding Between MoES and USA

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Earth System Science Organization-Ministry of Earth Sciences (ESSO-MoES) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), USA was signed for cooperation in Earth System Sciences.

This collaboration is expected to act as a step to bring together academia and application scientists to come together.

The present MoU will provide a mechanism to jointly undertake research and developmental work to address Earth System Science issues of common concern through exchange of excellent scientific knowledge and technological know how existing in the two countries.

Collaborations are expected to include aircraft and radar technology, now casting of severe weather events, hydrometeorology, satellite data, oceanic and climate research, urban flooding as well as capacity building through scientific lectures and distance learning. A particularly important area is the long-range forecasting, which has extreme value to the Indian economy and caters to the need of the farmers with planting decisions and agricultural practices based on the projected intensity and timing of the next monsoon season.

The MoU covers scientists from a range of institutions from India, to be coordinated and funded by the ESSO-Ministry of Earth Sciences with the scientists from UCAR’s 104 member universities, as well as NCAR (National Centre for Atmospheric Research). Through the MoU, the regional expertise available with Indian scientists will be complemented by the domain expertise available with UCAR.

Sources: PIB.

Pashmina Promotion Programme (P-3) to be launched

Under Pashmina Promotion Programme, major provision has been made for establishment of latest technology imported Pashmina Dehairing Plant at Leh with total grant of Rs.19.35 crore including other machineries like Scouring, Drying, and boiler along with construction of building for installation of these machineries at Leh.

The existing Deharing Plant has obsolete Chinese dehairing machine and is not sufficient to de-hair 45 ton of Pashmina wool produced here and with present capacity it can only de-hair up to five ton pashmina, leaving 40 ton sold into the market as raw which renders loss of value addition of Pashmina.

Under this new Programme, financial assistance would be provided under different components like Creation of Common Pashmina Facilitation Centre for Wool testing, Disease Surveillance Centre, Geographic Information System (GIS) Lab, Shelter for Nomads, Portable Electric Units for Handloom Spinning/Weaving, Solarised Community Centres, Open Fodder enclosures, establishment of Pashmina Dehairing Plant, Distribution for Foundation Stock to farmers and construction of Shelter for Housing of Pashmina Stock.

The Ministry of Textiles is implementing Pashmina Wool Development Scheme with the help of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh from 10th Five Year Plan for development of this Sector in Ladakh region. In the 12th Plan, this programme has been expanded with enhanced financial assistance of Rs. 41.21 crore.

Ladakh region produces the finest Pashmina wool (specialty fiber) in the world, which has high demand globally. Ladakh region grow about 45 ton of Pashmina wool every year from the population of about 2.50 lakh Pashmina goats.

Sources: PIB.

The Broad Spectrum Confocal Microscope

India recently launched an ingeniously manufactured microscope-that generates 3D images of objects-under CSIR-New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (CSIR-NMITLI): A Unique Public -Private – Partnership (PPP) Programme. The Broad Spectrum Confocal Microscope has several applications in medicine and materials sciences. It uses an infrared beam which passes through a patented photonic crystal fibre.

This project is an ideal and successful example of a hand in hand participation programme of a private industry and a publicly funded CSIR’s laboratory, that too in a very highly advanced technology area. This is an effort launched by the CSIR over a decade ago to develop technologies through collaborative efforts by research laboratories and technology companies in India.

This is a humble beginning towards Prime Minister’s “Made in India and reach Global” strategy. This is a first of its kind in India and is designed to make it affordable to the researchers. A few laboratories have already expressed their intention to procure the developed product.

Confocal Microscopes are used to obtain three dimensional features at microscopic level and play vital role in scientific understanding of nano-materials, biological objects etc. At present, these are only available at limited number of science laboratories in India due to their prohibitive cost. As science advances, Scientists want to also understand the spectroscopic behavior of materials and this can be achieved only using Broad Spectrum Confocal Microscope. It can also do resonant scanning up to 1024×1024 pixels.

The unique nature of supercontinuum light makes spectral coverage for all forms of confocal microscopy and for fluorescence imaging over wide range of wavelength. Here, the confocal microscope is illuminated using a Supercontinuum Light Source. At the global level, there are only a few Supercontinuum Source manufacturers as well as Confocal Microscope manufacturers. While using the broadband source, the optics has to be carefully designed to take care of chromatic aberrations too.

The Supercontinuum Source uses patented photonic crystal fiber technology developed by CSIR-CGCRI,Kolkata. Only a handful all over the world has this capability and facilities.

The optic fibre produces multiple wavelengths from the laser due to its surface which has very small holes. This is similar to the way a peacock’s feather scatters light. This is projected on to the target object which allows us to see a three dimensional structure of the object.

This is also cost effective since similar confocal microscopes cost about Rs. 4 crore to import, these will be priced between Rs. 1.25 crore and Rs. 1.5 crore.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, PIB.

 

Fracking Technology

Fracking /Hydraulic fracturing (also called as hydrofracturing or fraccing) is a well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a hydraulically pressurized liquid. A high-pressure fluid (usually chemicals and sand suspended in water) is injected into a wellbore to create cracks in the deep-rock formations through which natural gas, petroleum, and brine will flow more freely. When the hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, small grains of hydraulic fracturing particles (either sand or aluminium oxide) hold the fractures open once the deep rock achieves geologic equilibrium. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples.

The hydraulic fracturing technique is commonly applied to wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas. Such well-stimulation is common throughout the exploitation of the field to greatly increase the flow rate. Stimulation is intensified to extend the period before production declines.

Hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial, proponents advocating economic benefits of readily accessible hydrocarbons, and opponents concerned for the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, degradation of the air quality, the triggering of earthquakes, noise pollution, surface pollution, and the consequential risks to health and the environment. This technology also results in methane emissions which is cause of concern.

Increases in seismic activity following hydraulic fracturing are usually caused by the deep-injection disposal of flowback and brine (which is produced from hydraulically fractured wells). For these reasons, hydraulic fracturing is under international scrutiny, restricted in some countries, and banned altogether in others. Some of those countries, notably the U.K., have repealed bans on hydraulic fracturing in favour of regulation. The European Union is drafting regulations that would permit controlled application of hydraulic fracturing.

While the main industrial use of hydraulic fracturing is in stimulating production from oil and gas wells, hydraulic fracturing is also applied:

  • To stimulate groundwater wells
  • To precondition or induce rock cave-ins mining
  • As a means of enhancing waste remediation, usually hydrocarbon waste or spills
  • To dispose waste by injection deep into rock
  • To measure stress in the Earth
  • For electricity generation in enhanced geothermal systems.
  • To increase injection rates for geologic sequestration of CO2.

Environmental Concerns:

Hydraulic fracturing has raised environmental concerns and is challenging the adequacy of existing regulatory regimes. These concerns have included ground water contamination, risks to air quality, migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, mishandling of waste, and the health effects of all these. An additional concern is that oil obtained through hydraulic fracturing contains chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, which may increase the rate at which rail tank cars and pipelines corrode, potentially releasing their load and its gases.

Concern has been expressed over the possible long and short term health effects of air and water contamination and radiation exposure by gas production. Health consequences of concern include infertility, birth defects and cancer.

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p style=”text-align: right”>Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.