Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 28 December 2022

National Anthem of India was first sung

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The National Anthem of India was first sung at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress on this day, i.e., 27th December in 1911. 'Jana Gana Mana' is the first stanza of the Bengali hymns 'Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata', written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

More about our National Anthem

  1. In 1919, Tagore had set down the notation which is being followed till today. A slightly different version of the song was later adopted by Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in 1941 as the national anthem, called ‘Shubh Sukh Chain’ which also became popular in India.
  2. On 15 August 1947, after India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the Tricolour on the ramparts of the Red Fort and addressed the nation, Capt. Thankuri of the INA was invited to play with the members of his orchestra group.
  3. On 24 January 1950, the Hindi version was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India.
  4. The song defines the nation as the union of all provinces, languages and religion. The same day, Dr Rajendra Prasad, the President of the assembly and former President of India, had also declared ‘Vande Mataram’ as the National Song.

Fundamental duty in India

  1. The formal rendition of the national anthem takes approximately 52-seconds. Before it officially became the national anthem, it was heard in the 1945 film ‘Hamrahi’ and it was also adopted as a school song of The Doon School, Dehradun, in 1935. ‘Jana Gana Mana’ is sung in the raga Gaud Sarang.
  2. The Indian anthem is sung on various occasions and instructions have been issued from time to time about the correct versions of the Anthem, the occasions on which these are to be played or sung, and about the need for paying respect to the anthem by observance of proper decorum on such occasions.
  3. Reverence to the National Anthem is a Fundamental duty in India. According to Article 51A (a) of the constitution, the anthem shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.


Brain-eating amoeba infection

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

South Korea reported its first case of infection from Naegleria fowleri or “brain-eating amoeba”. The authorities said a 50-year-old Korean national, who had recently returned from Thailand, died 10 days after showing symptoms of the rare yet fatal infection. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) revealed that the man stayed in Thailand for four months before entering South Korea and died on 21 December 2022 which was found to be an infection caused by Naegleria fowleri.

What is Naegleria fowleri?

  1. Naegleria is an amoeba, a single-celled organism, and only one of its species, called Naegleria fowleri, can infect humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  2. It was first discovered in Australia in 1965 and is commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as hot springs, rivers and lakes.
  3. The amoeba enters the human body through the nose and then travels up to the brain.
  4. This can usually happen when someone goes for a swim or dive or even when they dip their head in a freshwater body.
  5. In some cases, it was found that people got infected when they cleaned their nostrils with contaminated water. Scientists haven’t found any evidence of the spreading of Naegleria fowleri through water vapour or aerosol droplets.
  6. Once Naegleria fowleri goes to the brain, it destroys brain tissues and causes a dangerous infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), according to the CDC.
  7. So far, Naegleria fowleri has been found in all continents and declared as the cause of PAM in over 16 countries, including India.

What are the symptoms of PAM?

  1. The CDC says the first signs of PAM start showing within one to 12 days after the infection.
  2. In the initial stages, they might be similar to symptoms of meningitis, which are headachenausea and fever.
  3. In the later stages, one can suffer from a stiff neckseizureshallucinations, and even coma. The US public health agency also observed that the infection spreads rapidly and on average causes death within about five days.
  4. The fatality of PAM is as such that only four people have survived out of 154 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2021, the CDC mentions.

What is the treatment for the infection?

  1. As the Naegleria fowleri infection is rare and progresses quickly, scientists haven’t been able to identify any effective treatments yet.
  2. At present, doctors treat it with a combination of drugs, including amphotericin Bazithromycinfluconazolerifampinmiltefosine, and dexamethasone.


Bharat Bill Payment System

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

It is an integrated bill payment system or a platform which acts as a connection between various billers and users. The Bharat Bill Payment System offers customers the convenience of payment by cataloguing various utility providers under one platform. It acts as a central reference for a customer who wants to make different payments — whether utility billsloan repaymentsFasTag recharge, and so on.

Who are the stakeholders in the BBPS ecosystem?

  1. BBPS was conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India in 2013 and is a product of the National Payments Council of India (NPCI).
  2. It was piloted in 2016 and went live a year later; By 2019 BBPS onboarded all recurring payments.
  3. There are two key components in the BBPS system — Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) and Bharat Bill Payment Operating Units (BBPOUs).
  4. The BBPCU is NPCI, which lays down the operating procedures and standards for BBPS. BBPOUs adhere to the rules set by BBPCU.
  5. They are the banking and non-banking entities that handle the payments load. Then, there are billers (utility providers) and agents, either as institutions or individuals, who provide services primarily on the collection side, to BBPOUs.

What purpose does it serve?

  1. Convenience and access irrespective of the nature and form of payment; For instance, as a customer you may have certain utilities such as phone, electricity, gas, and water bills to pay on a monthly basis.
  2. Under BBPS, all these utilities are listed in a single website. You must choose the payments to make and that will take you to the vendor website for the processing. You don’t have to go to each website separately to make the payment. That’s the convenience it offers.
  3. Likewise, BBPS is payment mode agnostic. It supports IMPS, NEFT, UPI, cheques, wallets and even cash.
  4. But note that BBPS is only a platform. If a transaction has settlement duration of T+1 or T+2, as with UPI or cheque payments, BBPS cannot bypass the time taken for payment processing. It has only facilities in making and concluding a payment in a common platform.


International Accelerator Program Sber500

GS Paper -3 (Technology- Start-ups)

Sber, one of the largest technological companies in Russia, has announced the launch of a new wave of Sber500, an international accelerator program designed to support technology entrepreneurs from around the world.

More about the news:

  1. In 2021 Russian venture market exceeded a record $3 billion. The new wave of Sber500 is part of the bank’s efforts to foster innovation and support the growth of new technologies.
  2. It is actively extending its reach in the global technology and innovation space through the education of aspiring entrepreneurs and offering support to operating technology businesses.
  3. It has extended its geographic remit beyond Russia as it prepares to receive applications for its fourth cohort in 2023.
  4. It will provide participating entrepreneurs with access to a range of resources and support, including funding, mentorship, and access to a global network of industry experts. Registration for the program is open until 14 February 2023.
  5. Projects with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Meta-verse and DeFi solutions will get an additional mentorship support and the chance to integrate their solutions into Sber products.
  6. The main criteria for the six-week program entail projects having an MVP (minimum viable product), a team and first sales.

What is its significance?

  1. A recent study conducted by the bank found that companies that have participated in the Sber500 accelerator program have experienced an average revenue growth of over 10 times post program.
  2. Sber is committed to playing a leading role in fostering a culture of innovation and supporting the growth of the technology sector.
  3. The latest edition of Sber500 is expected to provide even more support to those seeking to bring new technologies to market.


Ratnagiri’s prehistoric rock art

GS Paper -1 (Culture)

Experts and conservationists have raised concerns over the proposed location for a mega oil refinery in Barsu village of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. They claim that the refinery might damage prehistoric geoglyphs found in the area.

More about the news:

  1. The sites are protected by the state archaeology department and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  2. In April, these sites in the Konkan region were added to a tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
  3. While the UNESCO listing dates these sites to be over 12,000 years old,some experts have claimed that these sites might go as far back as 20,000 years, and that this can be ascertained through carbon and geological dating.

What are geoglyphs?

  1. Geoglyphs are a form of prehistoric rock art, created on the surface of laterite plateaus.
  2. They are made by removing a part of the rock surface through an incision, picking, carving or abrading. They can be in the form of rock paintings, etchings, cup marks and ring marks.
  3. The UNESCO listing mentions “Konkan geoglyphs. As per the UNESCO listingpetroglyphs and geoglyphs share similarities as both require the skills of removing parts or engraving a symbol on the rock surface.

What is the significance of Ratnagiri’s prehistoric rock art?

  1. Clusters of geoglyphs are spread across the Konkan coastline in Maharashtra and Goa, spanning around 900 km.
  2. Porous laterite rock, which lends itself to such carving, is found on a large scale across the entire region.
  3. Ratnagiri district has more than 1,500 pieces of such art, also called “Katalshilpa,” spread across 70 sites.
  4. According to UNESCO, “rock art in India is one of oldest material evidence of the country’s early human creativity.”

Why have experts raised red flags?

  1. The committee of experts appointed by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology visited Ratnagiri last month to assess the funds required for the conservation of geoglyphs.
  2. More than 250 geoglyphs have been identified in the area where the petrochemical refinery will be built.
  3. It is said, if the project starts at the presently proposedsite in Barsu, the rock carvings will get destroyed due to construction and chemical reaction at the site.

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