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Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 18 March, 2021

Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

1. New technology for High Electron Mobility Transistor

Why in news?

Scientists from Bangalore have developed a highly reliable, High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMTs) that is a normally OFF device and can switch currents up to 4A and operates at 600V.

Key points are:

– This first-ever indigenous HEMT device made from gallium nitride (GaN) is useful in electric cars, locomotives, power transmission and other areas requiring high voltage and high-frequency switching would reduce the cost of importing such stable and efficient transistors required in power electronics.

– Power electronic systems demand high blocking voltage in OFF-state and high current in ON-state for efficient switching performance.

– Specific transistors called HEMTs made of aluminium gallium nitride/ gallium nitride (AlGaN/GaN) provides an edge over silicon-based transistors as they allow the systems to operate at very high voltages, switch ON and OFF faster, and occupy less space.

– Commercially available AlGaN/GaN HEMTs use techniques to keep the transistor in normally OFF state, which affects the stability, performance and reliability of the device.

– Therefore, to meet this need, Prof. Mayank Shrivastava, Dept. of Electronic Systems Engineering, his co-investigators Prof. G. Narayanan, Prof. Digbijoy Nath, Prof. Srinivasan Raghavan and Prof. Navakanta Bhat, from Department of Electrical Engineering, and Centre for Nanoscience & Engineering, and their students, all from Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (IISc), have developed the new kind of HEMT.

– HEMT is in the OFF state by default and works like any other commonly used power transistor. Such transistors are called e-mode or enhancement mode transistors.

– Supported by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, they developed the new technology and device architecture using an Aluminium titanium oxide gate.

About the technology

– The developed technology is a first of its kind, which uses a type of chemical called ternary oxide (composed of two different metal ions combined in an oxide matrix or Al, Ti and O), which behaves like material having larger positive charge concentration (p-type material).

– It does away with intrinsic reliability and performance issues of the in-use industrial techniques for e-mode HEMTs, allowing the development of efficient power switching systems.

– This device will now be taken up for the prototype development and field-testing level (TRL 5).

– The scientists used aluminium titanium oxide as the gate oxide, where the percentage of aluminium could be controlled during the fabrication process. Since aluminium titanium oxide is stable, it resulted in high reliability of the transistor.

– The projected overall power device market is set to cross the 18 Billion $ mark by 2020, out of which the market for HEMTs is projected to cross the 5 Billion US$ market.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 17 March, 2021

2. India-Israel

Why in news?

On 17 March, 2021 Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel, along with Minister of Energy, Israel, Dr. Yuval Steinitz, witnessed the launching of a Joint Venture (IOC Phinergy Private Limited) between Indian Oil Corporation Limited (Indian Oil)  and Phinergy, an Israeli start-up company specializing in hybrid lithium-ion and aluminium-air/zinc-air battery systems.

Key points are:

– Based on domestically available aluminum, the joint venture plans to manufacture Aluminum-Air systems in India. Under this technology, recycling of used Aluminum will help India in becoming “Aatmanirbhar” for energy requirements.

– The new Indo-Israeli JV also intends to develop fuel cells and indigenous hydrogen storage solutions for promoting green mobility.

– This collaboration was initiated during the visit of Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India to Israel in July 2017.

– Following which, Letter of Intent were exchanged between the respective companies during the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of Israel to India in 2018.

– In a significant boost to India’s pursuit of e-mobility, the two of the leading Automotive manufactures in India, Maruti Suzuki and Ashok Leyland, signed Letters of Intent (LOI) with the newly incorporated JV IOC Phinergy Limited during the ceremony.

– The collaboration between IndianOil and Phinenergy marks yet another substantive step towards the collaboration between the two countries in the Energy sector.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 16 March, 2021

3. Women Excellence Award

Why in news?

Dr. Sonu Gandhi, a Scientist at the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad, who has recently developed a smart nanodevice for the detection of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and Japanese encephalitis (JE), has been awarded the prestigious SERB Women Excellence Award.

Key points are:

– The award instituted by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), recognises and rewards outstanding research achievements of young women scientists in frontier areas of Science and Engineering.

– The smart nanodevice developed by her group helped in detection of the biomarkers of the diseases using graphene functionalised with amine and conjugated with specific antibodies.

– The developed sensor offers several key advantages, such as ultra-high sensitivity, ease of operation, and a short response time, that can be easily integrated into a chip for point-of-care testing.

– The developed sensor exhibited a clear advantage over conventional techniques, and it is highly sensitive.

– They can improve early diagnosis of the diseases, ensuring prompt, more effective, and less expensive treatment.

– Her work is based on understanding the mechanism of interaction between nanomaterials and biomolecules on the surface of devices called transducers that receive energy from one system and transmit it for the development of a new generation of biosensors for clinical diagnosis of bacterial and viral disease, veterinary and agricultural applications, food analysis and environmental monitoring.

– Dr. Sonu’s lab has developed electrochemical as well as a microfluidic-based nanosensor for detection of pesticides used primarily to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests in Fruits and Vegetables.

– In a parallel study, her lab has developed ultrafast sensing of a biomarker of cancer. The developed cancer biosensor called urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) may be used as a quantitative tool, making it a tenable alternate for the detection of uPAR in cancer patients. This work has been published in the journal ‘Biosensor and Bioelectronics’.

– Recently, her lab has fabricated quick, sensitive microfluidic devices for toxin (Aflatoxin M1) detection in milk and meat samples with specific molecules called aptamers.

– They have developed microfluidic paper device for rapid detection of aflatoxin B1 for on-site detection of food toxins for both qualitative and quantitative analysis in food safety.

– One of her present projects aims to detect multiple sarovars of Salmonella using CRISPR-Cas13 and Quantum dots based electrochemical biosensors for sensitive, cost-effective and rapid diagnosis for one health aspect.

Daily Gist of 'The Hindu', 'PIB', 'Indian Express' and Other Newspapers: 18 March, 2021_40.1

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4. Domicile Certificates Issued for J&K

Why in news?

As per the information provided by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, a total of 35,44,938 applications for issue of Domicile Certificate have been received as on 31st  December, 2020, out of which 32,31,353 applicants have been issued Domicile Certificates.

Key points are:

– A total of 2,15,438 applications have been rejected as on 31st  December, 2020.

– Rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020 mandates certain documents to be annexed with the application.

– The applications which lack the prescribed documents are rejected.

– As of 31st December, 2020, a total of 31,08,682 Domicile Certificates have been issued to the dependents/holders of erstwhile Permanent Resident Certificates in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 13 March, 2021

5. Artificial photosynthesis to provide solutions for carbon capture and conversion

Why in news?

Scientists have found a method to mimic nature’s own process of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, namely photosynthesis, to capture excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Key points are:

– This artificial photosynthesis (AP) harnesses solar energy and converts the captured carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide (CO), which can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

– In artificial photosynthesis (AP), scientists are essentially conducting the same fundamental process in natural photosynthesis but with simpler nanostructures. However, there are plenty of hurdles to overcome as a successful catalyst to carry out AP.

– A team of Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India,designed and fabricated an integrated catalytic system based on a metal-organic framework (MOF-808) comprising of a photosensitizer (molecules which absorb light and transfer the electron from the incident light into another nearby molecule) that can harness solar power and a catalytic centre that can eventually reduce CO2.

– The work described above has been accepted for publication in the journal ‘Energy& Environmental Science’ of Royal Society of Chemistry, UK.

– The scientists have immobilized a photosensitizer, which is a chemical called ruthenium bipyridyl complex ([Ru(bpy)2Cl2]) and a catalytic part which is another chemical called rhenium carbonyl complex ([Re(CO)5Cl]), inside the nanospace of metal-organic framework for artificial photosynthesis.

– Both these molecular entities stay in close proximity in the confined nano-space of a porous metal-organic framework system resulting in excellent CO2 uptake capability at room temperature. This synthetic strategy empowers efficient solar light-driven photocatalysis.

– The developed catalyst exhibited excellent visible-light-driven CO2 reduction to CO with more than 99% selectivity. The catalyst also oxidizes water to produce oxygen (O2).

– The photocatalytic assembly, when assessed for CO2 reduction under direct sunlight in a water medium without any additives, showed superior performance of CO production. Being heterogeneous, the integrated catalytic assembly can be reused for several catalytic cycles without losing its activity.

– JNCASR team believes this intricate design and synthetic approach will pave the way to develop new integrated catalytic systems for CO2 capture and conversion of different energy-rich C1 and C2 chemical feed stocks by mimicking artificial photosynthesis.

Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 12 March, 2021

6. Poshan Pakhwada

Why in news?

Ministry of Women and Child Development is celebrating Poshan Pakhwada from 16th to 31st March, 2021.

Key points are:

–  Addressing nutritional challenges through Food Forestry and organizing Poshan Panchayats are the key focus areas for Poshan Pakhwada 2021.

– To address nutritional challenges, distribution of 4 saplings of nutrition rich plants per Anganwadi Centre (AWC) in the Aspirational Districts will be done under the supervision of local panchayat and DM/DC by National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH.

– Poshan Panchayat will be organized involving members of PRIs for generating awareness on topics like malnutrition prevalence and its consequences, Poshan Vatika, food forestry, identification of SAM/MAM children and its management.

– Poshan  Abhiyaan, launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 8th March 2018, has reached a long way in ensuring wider people’s participation.

– Poshan Abhiyan endeavors to improve nutritional outcomes in a holistic manner in convergence with other Ministries.

– Behavioural change at individual and community level is an important component to achieve the desired goals of Poshan Abhiyan.

– During the last held nutrition-centric Jan Andolan based celebrations during Poshan Maah in September 2020, setting-up of Poshan Vatika gained momentum, as a result of which 10.87 lakhs plantation drives in the form of Kitchen Garden held at Anganwadi level.

– Simultaneously, during the same period, AYUSH based interventions further helped disseminating knowledge on age-old nutritional practices.

– Ministry of Women & Child Development will be the nodal Ministry for coordinating activities during the Poshan Pakhwada. In the State/UT, Department of Women & Child Development /Social Welfare Department will be the nodal department for Poshan Pakhwada.

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7. Orunudoi scheme

Why in news?

Launched in December 2020 by the Assam Government, Orunudoi scheme is one of the most popular schemes of the state.

Key points are:

– Under the scheme, a monthly assistance of Rs 830 is transferred to women members of marginalised families of Assam.

– On account of being a DBT, or a Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, the money is credited directly to the bank account of the woman head of a family because they are “primary caretakers of the household”.

– The scheme gives “a choice to the poor and needy households on how they want to spend their money”.

– The applicant, a woman, has to be a permanent resident of Assam, whose composite household income should be less than Rs 2 lakh per annum.

– Families with specially-abled members and divorced/widowed/separated /unmarried women are prioritised.

– Poorer families, those without National Food Security Act (NFSA) or ration cards, are also given priority.

– Families without any women members, MPs, MLAs (former and current), members of Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies, government officials and employees of cooperative societies are excluded from the scheme.

– Families owning four-wheelers, mechanised boats, tractors or refrigerators, ACs and washing machines, or more than 15 bighas of agricultural land, are not eligible either.

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