Topic 1: Trimbakeshwar Mahadev Temple
Context: Maharashtra Government orders SIT probe over dispute regarding forceful entry of into the Temple.
The Trimbakeshwar Mahadev Temple:
- Trimbakeshwar town is an ancient Hindu Pilgrim center located at the source of the Godavari River, 28 kms from Nashik in Maharashtra.
- Trimbakeshwar Mahadev Temple is considered one of the 12 Jyotirlingas.
- Trimbakeshwar means ‘three lords’ and the Linga in the temple is in the form of a three faced embodying Tridev, Lord Bramha, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
- The present Trimbakeshwar temple was constructed by third Peshwa Balaji Bajirao (1740-1760).
- There are entry gates on all the four sides and East denotes the beginning, West denotes maturity, south denotes fulfillment and the North stands for the revelation.
What is the dispute?
- Trimbakeshwar is one of the few temples in the State which explicitly states that non-Hindus cannot enter the premises.
- However, for decades there has been a tradition that Muslims stand on the first step of the temple at the entrance and send the fragrant smoke rising from the burning frankincense inside the premises.
- The present dispute pertains to the same ritual over which both communities have claims and counter claims. Therefore, government has ordered an SIT probe to enquire the matter.
Source: The Indian Express
Topic 2: Khasi; The Matrilineal Society of Meghalaya
Context: A tribal council’s order not to issue a Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificate to any Khasi person who adopts the surname of his/her father.
Who are Khasis?
- The Khasi is an indigenous tribe of Meghalaya numbering about 1.39 lakh.
- They are of the three matrilineal communities of North-east besides the Garo and Jaintias.
- Following the matrilineal law of inheritance, the youngest daughter of the house will stay with the parents and inherit the house that is named after her mother.
- The husband is expected to leave his house and live with his wife in his mother-in-laws house.
- Currently around 85% of the Khasi tribe adhere to Christianity.
- However, they still practice their traditional religious beliefs and practices.
- The Khasi people are divided into several clans but united by the Mon-Khmer language
What is the controversy?
- The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) directed the headmen of all villages and urban localities across the Khasi domain not to issue ST certificates to those who adopt their father’s surname instead of sticking to tradition by taking their mother’s clan name.
- Also, that it is mandatory for any Khasi woman who marries a non-Khasi man to obtain the Khasi tribe certificate for applying for the ST certificate for her children.
- However, the Men’s rights activists among the Khasis have been fighting for switching over from the matrilineal to the patrilineal system since the 1960s.
- Therefore, the recent dictate of the Hill council has refreshed the disagreement among the supporters of Matrilineal and Patrilineal system.
What is a Matrilineal Society?
- It is a group of people who adhere to kinship in which the ancestral descent is traced through maternal (mother side) rather than paternal (father side) lines.
- Therefore, when the individuals are related as kin through the female line of descent, they are known as matrilineal descendants.
- Polyandry (i.e., a woman having more than one husband) is a common feature in the Matrilineal Society.
- Following Charles Darwin theory of evolution, many researchers have asserted that the matrilineal civilizations existed prior to patrilineal societies and represented an earlier evolutionary state than the patrilineal societies did.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 3: The first indigenous Vaccine against Dengue
- Drug makers Serum Institute of India and Panacea Biotec are moving closer to develop the country’s first vaccine against dengue.
- They have applied to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) call for ‘Expression of Interest’ for collaborative Phase-III clinical trials for indigenous manufacturers.
- Phase-III clinical trial is being done for evaluation of efficacy, along with safety and immunogenicity of tetravalent dengue vaccine.
- The desirable characteristics of a dengue vaccine includes:
- Acceptable short and long-term safety profile (no antibody dependent enhancement).
- Inducing protection against all four serotypes of dengue.
- Reducing risk of severe diseases and deaths.
- Inducing a sustained immune response and effectiveness irrespective of the earlier sero-status and age of the individual.
The risk posed by Dengue:
- The global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically with about half of the world’s population now at risk.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dengue to be one among the top ten global health threats in 2019.
- As of now, there is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop effective vaccines against dengue viral disease.
|Dengue (break-bone fever)Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species (Ae. aegypti or Ae. albopictus) mosquito.It is more common in tropical and subtropical climates.The most common symptoms are high fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash.If not treated timely, Dengue could lead to fatality.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 4: New gliding gecko species discovered in Mizoram
- The new species found is around 20 cm in length and is nocturnal.
- It is arboreal (living in trees) and flies from one tree to another.
- The new species has been named Gekko mizoramensis after the northeastern state.
- These flying, parachute or gliding geckos are a subgenus called Ptychozoon of the Gekko genus.
- There are 13 species of them (throughout the world and they are found in Southeast Asia.
- Of them only one species, Ptychozoon lionotum or smooth-backed gliding gecko was found in Mizoram.
- Flying geckos have webbed limbs and flat tails to help them glide (they do not really fly).
Source: Hindustan Times
Topic 5: The era of Hypersonic Missile
Context: Ukraine claims it shot down Russia’s next generation hypersonic missile ‘Barrage’.
What is hypersonic missile?
- A hypersonic missile is a weapon system which flies at least at the speed of Mach 5 i.e., five times the speed of sound and is maneuverable.
- The maneuverability of the hypersonic missile is what sets it apart from a ballistic missile as the latter follows a set course or a ballistic trajectory.
- Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles do not follow a ballistic trajectory and can be maneuvered to the intended target.
- The two types of hypersonic weapons systems are Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGV) and Hypersonic Cruise Missiles.
- The HGV are launched from a rocket before gliding to the intended target while the hypersonic cruise missile is powered by air breathing high speed engines or ‘scramjets.
- hypersonic weapons can enable responsive, long range strike options against distant, defended or time critical threats
- Conventional hypersonic weapons use only kinetic energy i.e., energy derived from motion, to destroy unhardened targets.
- Hypersonic weapons are often difficult to detect due to their speed, maneuverability and low altitude of flight.
Which countries possess hypersonic weapons?
- While the US, Russia and China are in advanced stages of hypersonic missile programmes, India, France, Germany, Japan and Australia too are developing hypersonic weapons.
- Russia announced its hypersonic missile ‘Kinzhal’ or Dagger in 2018 used it for the first time in battle conditions in Ukraine.
- China too is reportedly in possession of this weapon system and has twice used it to circumnavigate the globe before landing near a target in August 2021.
- In the US, the hypersonic weapons are being developed under its Navy’s conventional Prompt Strike Programme as well as through Army, Air Force and Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
India’s Hypersonic Missile Programme:
- India is developing an indigenous, dual capable (conventional as well as nuclear) hypersonic cruise missile as part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle Programme.
- In 2020, the DRDO successfully demonstrated the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of HSTDV.
- India operates approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds upto Mach 13.
- In January 2023, India carried out a test of indigenously designed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSDTV) off the Odisha coast.
- The Indian hypersonic vehicle will take another three to four years to become fully operational.
Source: Hindustan Times
Topic 6: Why spurious liquor kills
Context: Frequent incidents of death after consuming spurious liquor have appeared.
What is the alcohol in liquor?
- Liquor is differentiated by its alcohol content i.e., from the 5% or so of beer to the 12% or so of wine to the 40% or so of distilled spirits (all by volume).
- In the beverages consumed for recreational purposes, the alcohol in question is almost always ethanol (C 2H 5OH).
- Technically ethanol is a psychoactive drug that, in low doses, reduces the level of neurotransmission in the body, leading to its typical intoxicating effects.
- The World Health Organization has found that “no level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health”.
- Long-term use leads to dependence, heightens the risk of some cancers and heart disease, and may eventually cause death.
- Inside the body, alcohol is metabolized in the liver and the stomach by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes to acetaldehyde.
- Then, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes transform the acetaldehyde into acetate.
- The adverse effects of alcohol consumption, from the hangover to a cancer, are due to acetaldehyde.
What is spurious liquor?
- Spurious liquor is characterized by the liquid mixture containing methanol.
- In most of the cases of liquor tragedy, methanol is added to the home-made liquor to strengthen the intoxicating effects or to increase its volume.
- However, in case of the recent Tamil Nadu tragedy, industrial-grade methanol from factories was supplied for consumption.
- The Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations 2018 stipulate the maximum permissible quantity of methanol in different liquors.
- It is 50 grams per 100 litres of country liquor, and 300 grams per 100 litres of pot-distilled spirits.
What is methanol?
- The methanol molecule (CH 3OH) consists of one carbon atom bonded with three hydrogen atoms and one hydroxyl group.
- The most common way to produce methanol is to combine carbon monoxide and hydrogen in the presence of copper and zinc oxides as catalyst.
- Methanol has several industrial applications, including as a precursor to acetic acid, formaldehyde, and aromatic hydrocarbons.
How does spurious liquor kill?
- The deadliness of spurious liquor arises from methanol.
- In every hooch tragedy in the history of India and of the world since 1945 the poison has been methanol.
- The human body contains infinitesimal quantities of methanol as a result of eating some fruits.
- But even for an adult, more than 0.1 ml of pure methanol per kilogram of body-weight can be devastating.
- Once ingested, methanol is metabolised in the liver by ADH enzymes to form formaldehyde (H-CHO). Then, ALDH enzymes convert formaldehyde to formic acid (HCOOH).
- The accumulation of formic acid over time leads to a baneful condition called metabolic acidosis.
- Acidosis can lead to acidemia, when the blood’s pH drops below its normal value of 7.35, becoming increasingly acidic.
- The blood’s pH is normally maintained by a balance between an acid, like carbon dioxide, and a base, like the bicarbonate ion (HCO 3–).
- Formic acid also interferes with an enzyme called cytochrome oxidase, which in turn disrupts cells’ ability to use oxygen and leads to the build-up of lactic acid, contributing to acidosis.
- Methanol-poisoning can also cause cerebral edema, hemorrhage, and death.
How can methanol-poisoning be treated?
- Once methanol is ingested, the body takes some time to completely eliminate it. There are two immediate ways to treat methanol poisoning.
- One is to administer ethanol (of a pharmaceutical grade, by healthcare workers). Ethanol competes very well with methanol for the ADH enzymes, as a result, the methanol is kept from being metabolised to formaldehyde.
- The other option is to administer an antidote called fomepizole, which has a similar mechanism: it slows the action of the ADH enzymes, causing the body to produce formaldehyde at a rate that the body can quickly excrete, preventing the deadlier effects.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 7: The demand for a Kuki homeland in Manipur
Who are Kuki?
- The Kukis are an ethnic group that includes multiple tribes inhabiting the North-Eastern India, parts of Burma, and Sylhet and Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh.
- The Kuki people are believed to be the native to the Mizo Hills.
- The Kukis are also known as Lushai, Darlongs, Rokhums and among the Burma boarder they are known as Chins.
- The major population of Kuki is in Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Myanmar. However, they are present in all NE states except Arunachal.
- About 50 percent of the Kuki people in India are recognized as scheduled tribe based on the dialect spoken and region of origin.
- The Chin people of Myanmar and the Mizo people of Mizoram are kindred tribes of the Kuki and collectively known as the Zo people.
- In Manipur the Kuki tribe makes up about 30 percent of the total population.
The Kuki homeland:
- The demand for a separate “Kukiland” dates back to the late 1980s, when the first and largest of the Kuki-Zomi insurgent groups, the Kuki National Organization (KNO), came into being. The demand has surfaced periodically ever since.
- The territory of “Kukiland” included the Sadar Hills (which surround the Imphal valley on three sides), the Kuki-dominated Churachandpur district, Chandel, which has a mix of Kuki and Naga populations, and even parts of Naga-dominated Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
- Sections of the Kuki-Zomi community have maintained that the tribal areas “are yet to be a part of the Indian Union”.
- They have contended that after the defeat of the king of Manipur in the 1891 Anglo-Manipur war, the kingdom became a British protectorate, but the lands of the Kuki-Zomi were not part of the agreement.
- However, unlike the Naga demand for a separate country, Kuki only seeking a separate state within the Indian Union.
- The Kukiland demand is rooted in the idea of the Zale’n-gam, or ‘land of freedom’.
- Some Kuki-Zomi people, especially the insurgent groups, contest the dominant narrative that their ancestors were brought from the Kuki-Chin hills of Burma by the British political agent and settled around the Imphal valley to protect the Manipur kingdom from the plundering Naga raiders of the north.
Source: The Indian Express