Current Affairs, News & Facts of 29 Jul 2015

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  • Suniti Solomon, a pioneer of HIV treatment in India passes away



    • Pioneer of  HIV research in India Dr. Suniti Solomon whose team was the first to document evidence of HIV infection in India in 1986 died at her residence in Chennai
    • Dr. Solomon is known for her immense contribution  to Indian medicine in the field of HIV AIDS.  She took initiative for the research and treatment of this deadly disease during 1980s when most doctors were reluctant to get near it. 
    • Dr. Suniti Solomon was 76 and had been under treatment for two months for liver cancer,
    • Dr.  Solomon founded the first voluntary HIV testing and counselling centre, Y R Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE), a premier HIV/AIDS care and support centre, in Chennai. 
    • She served and held prestigious positions in various organisations working in the areas of HIV research studies including US National Institute of Mental Health's multi-country HIV/STD prevention trial.

    How did Dr Suniti Solomon discovered the first HIV infection case in India ?

    • It was during 1986 the time when Dr Suniti Solomon was a professor of microbiology at the Madras Medical College that one of her PhD students brought six blood samples from female sex workers who were currently staying at the government remand home on Kutchery Road in the Mylapore area of the city contained the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. 
    • When she realized that the samples from her laboratory contained the HIV virus she was galvanized into action. She and Dr Jacob John of CMC Vellore then went to Delhi to talk about their findings
    • During those days only a few places did ELISA (enzyme-linked immuno assay) testing and the samples were first sent to Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore and then to the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US, for confirmation

    Educational career of Dr Suniti Solomon :-

    • MD in microbiology from Madras University, she was renowned name in Tamil Nadu in the area of HIV prevention and care and among people living with HIV/AIDS.
    • Dr. Solomon was trained in pathology in the United Kingdom and US, her experience covers a wide range of aspects linked to HIV infection, biomedical parameters to socio-economics.
    • She has published many papers extensively on HIV epidemiology, prevention, care, support and related gender issues.

    Awards and honours :-

    • Dr Suniti Solomon was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service on HIV/AIDS by the state-run Dr MGR Medical University in Chennai in 2012
    • She was given "National Women Bio-scientist Award" In 2009 by ministry of science and technology


    Image source :livemint

  • Sri Lanka signs agreement with Google to launch Project Loon by 2016



    • Government of Sri Lanka had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Google to launch the Google Loon project in the country to provide affordable high-speed internet services to the entire country 
    • The service will be provided with the aid of Google loon, a technology which provides Internet to large areas using high-altitude balloons under this agreement Google will launch the helium-filled, high-tech balloons above the Indian Ocean island in coming months.
    • The entire Sri Lankan island - every village from (southern) Dondra to (northern) Point Pedro - will be covered with affordable high speed Internet using Google Loon's balloon technology
    • Successful implementation of this project will make Sri Lanka  the first country in the region with complete coverage.
    • There are 2.8 million mobile Internet connections and 606,000 fixed line Internet subscribers among Sri Lanka's more than 20 million population.
    • Sri Lanka became the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989 and the first to roll out a 3G network in 2004. It was also the first in the region to unveil a 4G network two years ago.

    What is Project Loon

    • Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by Google with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 32 km (20 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speed
    • These balloons have transceivers which can connect to cell phone networks filling gaps in their networks especially in remote areas such as mountains and deserts
    • Service providers will be able to access higher speeds and improve the quality of their existing service once the balloon project is up and running,the prices will also come down
    • The balloons, once in the stratosphere, will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye
    • Google plans to keep the balloons aloft in the stratosphere for 100 days, transmitting Internet signals to the ground, and with their movements guided by an algorithmic formula , testing of the project have already been done in New Zealand 


    Image source : youtube

  • Kazakhstan became 162th member of WTO



    • Kazakhstan the largest former Soviet republic in Central Asia is rich in natural resources and a key transit country for goods between Asia and Europe  has been officially accepted as member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and with this it becomes the 162th member of WTO
    • The agreement of accession was signed between the WTO Director General Robert Azevedo and Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev at Geneva on July 27, 2015 and the final accession  will be signed when the membership agreement is ratified by Kazakhstan Parliament on 31 October 2015.

    Advantages of membership for Kazakhstan 

    • A large share of Kazakhstan’s exports are oil and gas which is 59% of  Kazakhstan’s exports but now the second largest exports sector ferrous metals may enjoy more benefit and Kazakhstan may also enjoy cheaper imports in the long-term.
    • Being the WTO member Kazakhstan economy will become stronger and more liberal; as its trade was more prominent with post-Soviet states in mid 1990s.


    Image source: gtreview

  • 106 Royal Bengal Tigers left in Sundarbans



    The population of Royal Bengal Tiger in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, has sharply declined to 106 from 440 in 2004 according to recently released new Tiger census 2015 of Bangladesh.

    The new tiger census project was carried out under ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia Project’ with financial support from the World Bank

    There are near about 74 tigers on the Indian side of the Sundarbans, the mangrove forest that stretches for nearly 4,000 miles across both countries.

    Methodology of the survey : -

    The year-long survey was conducted using precise scientific method in which hidden cameras were used. Methodology applied in the new tiger census is better rather than pug marks used in the past.The Bangladesh-India Joint Tiger Census Project conducted the tiger census examining some 1,500 images and footprints of tigers taken from the Sundarbans through camera trapping and found very low count figure of tigers.

    cause of decline in tiger population

    • Tiger population has declined in the Sundarbans in recent years due to rampant poaching of the big cats and for lack of proper forest management.
    • The loss of habitat, unchecked wildlife poaching, animal-human conflict in the forest and lack of management of forest are the main reasons behind the rapid fall in the tiger population


  • E-tourist visa to Chinese nationals from July 30, 2015



    • As promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi e-tourist visa facility will be rolled out to Chinese nationals from July 30, 2015
    • Along with the citizens of China, the e-tourist visa facility will also be offered to nationals of Hong Kong and Macao 
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the announcement notwithstanding frequent issuance of stapled visa by China to people from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. 

    About e-tourist visa facility :-

    • India had last year launched e-tourist visa facility (which was earlier called 'tourist visa on arrival enabled by electronic travel authorisation') for more than 40 countries, including the US. The scheme was later extended to 36 more countries with effect from May
    • Under the e-visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.


    Image source :mapsofindia

  • Ashish Bahuguna appointed as Chairman of FSSAI



    • Former agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna has been appointed as the chairman of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) 
    • The tenure of the chairman is for three years. Until now, Health Secretary Bhanu Pratap Sharma was temporarily in-charge of the post.
    • It should be noted that the position of the chairman at the food authority was lying vacant since January this year after the tenure of K Chandramouli had come to an end 
    • Until now Bhanu Pratap Sharma, secretary health and family welfare, was temporarily in charge of the position. 
    • Mr Bahuguna, a 1978-batch Indian Administrative Service officer of Rajasthan cadre, retired in February this year.
    • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was recently in the news after it banned Nestle's instant noodle brand Maggi for having lead beyond permissible limits. 


    Image source :indianexpress

  • Renowned Sri Lankan historian Santasilan Kadirgamar passes away



    • Veteran Sri Lankan historian Santasilan Kadirgamar passed away following  a brief illness. Mr. Kadirgamar was born in Chavakachcheri of Jaffna in April 1934
    • Santasilan Kadirgamar did his schooling from Jaffna College and pursued higher studies in history at the University of Peradeniya and the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.
    • As a student Kadirgamar was involved with Left movement of Sri Lanka as a sympathiser of the Lanka Sama Samaj Party.
    • In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was among those who were instrumental in setting up the Movement for Inter-Racial Justice and Equality (MIRJE - Jaffna) and the Jaffna Citizens’ Committee.
    • He was author of several books some of his works included “The Tamils of Lanka: Their Struggle for Justice and Equality with Dignity” and “The Left Tradition in Lankan Tamil Politics.
    • Mr. Kadirgamar is remembered for his work in 1980 on the history and impact of the short-lived Jaffna Youth Congress, which stood for egalitarian and democratic principles. 


    Image source: The Hindu

  • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan may be renamed as APJ Abdul Kalam Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan



    • HRD Minister Smriti Irani announced that government may rename the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan as APJ Abdul Kalam Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan in memory of the former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
    • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan is a unique scheme launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development which aims to develop a spirit of inquiry, creativity and love for Science and Mathematics among school children.
    • Under Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan, government schools will be mentored by institutes like IITs, IIMs, IISERs, central universities and reputed organisations through innovative programmes, student exchanges, demonstrations, student visits, etc., to develop a natural sense of passion towards learning of science and maths.
    • Irani had proposed to set up 'model science labs' across the country, beginning with the North East region under the mission during its launch.


    Image source:indianexpress

  • K Vijayraghavan to hold additional charge of Secretary, DSIR 



    Renowned scientist K Vijayraghavan as been given additional charge of Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) for three months as the The post has been lying vacant for over one year. 

    K Vijayraghavan is presently Secretary, Department of Biotechnology and will hold the additional charge for three months beyond July 31, 2015 or until the appointment of a regular incumbent as per the order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) 

    The DSIR comes under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is mandated to promote industrial research for indigenous technology promotion, its development, utilisation and transfer. 

    About Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan

    • Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan born on  3 February 1954 is a Professor and former Director of The National Centre for Biological Sciences
    • He is Secretary of Department of Biotechnology, India.
    • He was conferred the Padma Shri by the Govt. of India on 26 January 2013.
    • He was also a recipient of the Infosys Prize in the life sciences category in 2009.
    • He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society.
    • In April 2014 he was elected as a Foreign Associate of US National Academy of Sciences .
    • VijayRaghavan graduated with Bachelor of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1975 and Masters in 1977.
    • He completed his doctoral research in 1983 in the field of Molecular Biology and holds a Ph.D from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and then, from 1986 to 1988, a Senior Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

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2nd Aug

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