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Today's Headlines - 12 March 2023

India recorded death by H3N2 virus

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

India has recorded deaths of two people, one each in Karnataka and Haryana, due to the Influenza A subtype H3N2 virus, the government said on 10 March 2023. It added that around 90 cases of this virus have been reported across the country.

What is the H3N2 virus?

  1. Influenza viruses, which cause the infectious disease known as flu, are of four different types: A, B, C and D. Influenza A is further classified into different subtypes and one of them is the H3N2.
  2. According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H3N2 caused the 1968 flu pandemic that led to the death of around one million people globally and about 100,000 in the US.
  3. A 2020 study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that the strains of the virus have dramatically evolved in the past five decades as people born in the late 1960s and 1970s got infected by it as children.

What are the symptoms of H3N2?

  1. Its symptoms are similar to that of any other flu. They include coughfeverbody ache and headachesore throat, a runny or stuffy nose and extreme fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea have been seen in very few cases.
  2. According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), an infection caused by H3N2 generally lasts for five to seven days and the fever starts going away after three days. However, the coughing can persist for up to three weeks.

Which age group is more vulnerable?

  1. As per the IMA, this virus usually preys on individuals below the age of 15 years or above 50 years of age. Children and those with co-morbidities like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions are at a higher risk.

How to prevent it from spreading?

  1. Self-hygiene is the best way to thwart the spread of H3N2. Washing hands before eating or touching your face, nose or mouth, carrying pocket sanitiser, and avoiding people already infected with the virus or any other seasonal flu are some of the steps one can take to make sure they don’t fall sick due to the H3N2 infection.
  2. Moreover, a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can also play a significant role in improving immunity.

Kodaikanal Solar Observatory

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

For well over a century, the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO) has been observing the Sun, capturing images of sunspots, and recording changes in its behaviourSolar physicists at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, and Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, both under the Department of Science and Technology, have now digitised 1.48 lakh solar images captured since 1904.

About Kodaikanal Solar Observatory

  1. KoSO, which is owned and operated by IIA, is one of the world’s oldest observatories studying the Sun.
  2. The idea of taking pictures of the Sun using a 20-inch telescope, preferably from a location on a hill in Southern India, was first proposed by the astronomer Norman Pogson, who was appointed Government Astronomer of the Madras Observatory in 1861.
  3. The Madras Observatory was set up as the private effort of an official of the British East India Company in 1786, and came to be managed subsequently by the company.
  4. The decision to establish a solar observatory was finally taken in 1893, and Kodaikanal in present-day Tamil Nadu was chosen for its high altitude and dust-free environment.
  5. Experts and equipment from the existing Madras Observatory were relocated to Kodaikanal. The Solar Physics Observatory opened on 1 April 1899, and was later named KoSO.
  6. During the early decades of its operation, the Bhavnagar Telescope, named after the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, was one of the more famous instruments at KoSO. This 16-inch Newtonian (later Cassegrain) mobile telescope remained India’s largest from 1888 to 1968.
  7. Imported from Dublin, Ireland, it was first established at the Maharaja Takhtasinghji Observatory in Poona (now Pune) around 1888. But after the observatory in Pune was shut, it was sent to KoSO in 1912. It is no longer in use today.

Solar observations, one every day: how they are taken

  1. Since 1904, white light images of the Sun (similar to viewing it with the naked eye using solar filters) has been captured every day, using a 6-inch telescope. Visible light images are taken because they reveal sunspots on the surface of the Sun.
  2. Earlier, a 15cm telescope was used to capture solar images onto a photographic film or plate. Solar magnetic plages (a bright region on the Sun’s chromosphere) are best captured in the strong chromospheric absorption lines, like the Ca II (called Ca II K). H-alpha observations and prominences, also recorded since 1911, taken on photographic films and plates, are available.
  3. One image is taken daily around 8 am, which has been a fixed routine for over a century now. At times, more than one image during a day has been taken, the observatory’s archives show.

Audio-Visual Co-Production Agreement

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India and Australia have signed an audio-visual co-production agreement under which private, quasi-government or governmental agencies of the two countries enter into contracts to produce films together. “The government has so far entered into 15 such agreements with various countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Canada”.


  • An audio-visual co-production, made in accordance with the agreement, will be entitled to claim all the benefits extended in both the countries.
  • “The respective contributions of the producers of the two countries may vary from 20% to 80% of the final total cost of co-produced work”.
  • third country can also participate in the co-production as multilateral project, subject to the specific conditions and limits laid down in the laws and regulations in force, between the party countries.
  • For all qualifying projects, the international film production company can claim a payable clash incentive of up to 30% on qualifying expenditure in India, subject to a maximum of ₹2 crore.
  • In case of foreign film shootings in India, an additional 5% bonus up to a maximum of 50 lakh as additional reimbursement will be granted for employing 15% or more manpower in India. This apart, the State governments also extend various benefits.
  • The Ministry plans to make incentives applications completely online through the revamped Film Facilitation Office (FFO) website.
  • “Also, single window platforms for filming are being set up in coordination with various State governments and bodies like the Railway, the Archeological Survey of India, etc., to simplify the procedures.
  • Invest India’ has now been engaged to run the office of FFO”.


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