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GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Nobel Prize For Medicine Awarded To American Trio For Insights Into Internal Biological Clock.

Background-

  • The 108th Nobel prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to a trio of American scientists for their discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms – in other words, the 24-hour body clock.
  • According to the Nobel committee’s citation, Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young were recognised for their discoveries explaining how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earth’s revolutions.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • The team identified a gene within fruit flies that controls the creatures’ daily rhythm, known as the “period” gene. This gene encodes a protein within the cell during the night which then degrades during the day.
  • When there is a mismatch between this internal “clock” and the external surroundings, it can affect the organism’s wellbeing – for example, in humans, when we experience jet lag.
  • All three winners are from the US. Hall, 72, has retired but spent the majority of his career at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachussetts, where fellow laureate Rosbash, 73, is still a faculty member. Young, 68, works at Rockefeller University in New York.
  • While all three laboured to isolate the period gene, publishing was something of a race. While Hall and Rosbash collaborated, Young was working on the puzzle independently. Both teams reported their findings in 1984.
  • Hall and Rosbash then went on to unpick how the body clock actually works, revealing that the levels of protein encoded by the period gene rise and fall throughout the day in a negative feedback loop. Young, meanwhile, discovered a second gene involved in the system, dubbed “timeless”, that was critical to this process. Only when the proteins produced from the period gene combined with those from the timeless gene could they enter the cell’s nucleus and halt further activity of the period gene. Young also discovered the gene that controlled the frequency of this cycle.
  • The team’s discoveries also helped to explain the mechanism by which light can synchronise the clock.
  • Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, who shared the Nobel prize in 2001 for research on the cell cycle, said the work was important for the basic understanding of life.
  • In total, 107 Nobel prizes for physiology or medicine have been won by 211 scientists since 1901, with just 12 awarded to women. Nonetheless, it remains the science award with the highest such tally – so far the physics prize has only been awarded to two women: Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert Mayer.

Sources- The Guardian.

 

GS Paper II- Governance.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Inaugurates Pratham-Shyok Bridge In Leh On 30th September, 2017.

Background

  • On her maiden two-day visit to militancy-hit Jammu & Kashmir, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman focussed on “strengthening counter-insurgency grid on borders with Pakistan” and “matching road infrastructure near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China”.
  • On the second day of her tour on 30th September, 2017, Ms. Sitharaman visited the forward locations of Leh and Siachen in the Ladakh region.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • She took stock of Border Road Organisation projects connecting Leh with areas close to the LAC, where China has built high-grade road infrastructure and provided round-the-clock power supply.
  • Sources said the Minister stressed matching “infrastructure with China by expanding roadways in the cold mountain region”.
  • She inaugurated a bridge on the Shyok river between Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldi, which remains volatile by virtue of frequent trespassing by Chinese forces.
  • Ms. Sitharamam was accompanied by the Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat; Lt. Gen. D Anbu, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Army Command; and the Chinar Corps Commander. She interacted with the soldiers who man the Siachen glacier, the highest battleground in the world, and conveyed her best wishes on the auspicious occasion of Dasara.  She met Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel in Leh.
  • Earlier in Srinagar, Ms. Sitharaman visited the forward areas in north Kashmir, exactly a year after the surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • The Minister’s stress was on ensuring robust counter-infiltration posture along the LoC.

Sources- The Hindu.

 

GS Paper III- Environment, Bio-Diversity.

Centre Launches Six-Year Secure Himalaya Project.

Background

  • The Centre on 2nd October, 2017 launched a six-year project to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity, land and forest resources in the high Himalayan ecosystem spread over four states in India.
  • Protection of snow leopard and other endangered species and their habitats is one of the key components of the project which will also focus on securing livelihoods of the people in the region and enhancing enforcement to reduce wildlife crime.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The project – called SECURE Himalaya – was launched by the Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the inaugural day of the Global Wildlife Programme (GWP).
  • The SECURE – securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems – is meant for specific landscapes. It includes Changthang (Jammu and Kasmir), Lahaul – Pangi and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh), Gangotri – Govind and Darma – Byans Valley in Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) and Kanchenjunga – Upper Teesta Valley (Sikkim).
  • Enhanced enforcement efforts and monitoring under the project will also curb illegal trade in some medicinal and aromatic plants which are among the most threatened species in these landscapes.
  • The minister on the occasion also launched India Wildlife mobile App and released the country’s National Wildlife Action Plan for the period 2017-2031. The Plan focuses on preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable development through 103 wildlife conservation actions and 250 projects.
  • Strengthening and improving protected area network; landscape level approach for wildlife conservation; control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife; mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts and management of tourism in wildlife areas are among the key focus areas of the national plan.

Sources- The Times Of India.