Down to Earth 16- 30 July 2019 (Download PDF)


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Life on Mars? Compost Generation Scientific Misconduct Birds of North East: - Mars & Methane: Normal methane levels on Mars is 0.24 and 0.65 parts per billion (ppb). Rover has detected 21 ppb inside the 154-km-wide Gale crater. 4 times the previous maximum levels (5.8 ppb) recorded in June 2013. Higher methane indicates life (as is generated by microbes)

  • 58 % of Earth’s surface will experience record temperatures if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise
  • 68 MILLION people were affected by the 315 disasters reported in 2018. Some 35 per cent of the people were from India
  • 50 % of the people were affected by floods alone
  • $132 BILLION was the economic cost of natural disasters in 2018. The Americas accounted for 53 per cent of the losses
  • 11,804 people died due to natural disasters that year. Indonesia reported 47 per cent of the deaths
  • Faridabad reports 55 days with ozone as main pollutant (in contrast to 8 days last year)


  • TB: Cycloserine, P-aminosalicyclic, Pyridoxine and Ethionamide, are provided free-of-cost by state governments through DOTS (directly observed treatment, short-course) centres
  • two big targets: piped water for all by 2024 and electricity for all by 2022.
  • goal of making India a US $5 trillion economy, from the current US $2.8 trillion
  • major shift towards cash-based and individual ben-eficiary-centric development schemes rather than focusing on systemic solutions.
  • PM-Kisan scheme provides an annual income support of R6,000 to each farmer in three instalments of R2,000 each
  • India: Income from farming has gone down from 57 % in 1993 - 94 to 39 % in 2004 - 05
  • India: 15 million farmers have left farming since 1991
  • Earlier, groundwater was easily available, just about 9 metres down. It has now dipped to 30 metres and more
  • The future of agriculture lies in increasing production. At present, the country produces 1,909 kg grains per ha. In comparison, China produces 5,332 kg. The country needs an immediate campaign to bridge this gap, India: In 2015 - 16 only 54.9% (up to six months) were exclusively breastfed

Compost Generation – Optimum Ratio

  • Normally compost takes 2 months to get ready
  • Optimum ratio is needed for microbes present in the compost to release nutrients for the plant. A lower carbon-nitrogen ratio also suggests more ammonia in compost, which leads to foul smell.
  • Bioneer naturally converts organic waste into compost within 24 - 36 hours by using its special micro-organisms developed through advanced biotechnology
  • Wet waste is collected and segregated to be fed into instant composting machine. In case, the waste contains bigger and harder chunks, a shredder needs to be installed separately to process those.
  • Ideally, the waste needs to be washed to remove oil.
  • The waste is loaded onto the instant composter where it is treated at 35 - 40oC in the presence of thermophilic, or heat-loving, bacteria
  • These machines are energy-intensive and consume 32 - 38 units of electricity a day, costing Rs. 25,000 - 30,000 a month

Japanese Encephalitis

By Mosquitoes

  • Assam, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu
  • To ensure children are well fed, the government has three tools—anganwadi centres, the Midday Meal Scheme and programmes run by the health department.
  • Every anganwadi centre is supposed to have a sevika, the service provider, and a cook who is designated as sahayika
  • World Health Organization recommends two doses of JE vaccine before a child turns one year old. “The government started administering two vaccines only in 2013 under the National Immunisation Programme. Prior to this, the mass immun-isation drive in 2010 only administered one vaccine.
  • from areas with poor sanitation and low nutrition levels
  • water-borne enterovirus encephalitis, another type of AES, is caused by a virus found in pigs and birds,


  • Splicing or removal of DNA sequences with extraordinary precision and speed.
  • CRISPR is a cutting-edge technology that allows the splicing or removal of DNA sequences with extraordinary precision and speed.
  • Patents were awarded to Broad in 2014 for crispr-Cas9 to edit the genomes of eukaryotes—these are organisms whose genomes are enclosed within a cell nucleus—for all plants and animals.
  • CRISPR promises a revolutionary way to treat diseases in humans, animals and plants by allowing the removal of unwanted genetic sequences, such as those that cause disability, and by creating plant strains immune to fungal diseases.

Birds (Parrots)

  • Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura) and the Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui)
  • feathers of Sclater’s monal (Lophophorus sclateri) are used for making fans and the casque of Rufous-necked Hornbill is used in headgear
  • Eastern Himalayan region—comprising Sikkim, the Himalayan and the sub-Himalayan regions of West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh, and neighbouring Bhutan—is also home to a great diversity of the avian species.
  • Birds such as the Indian Pitta (Pitta brachyura) and the Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), which migrate to southern India and Sri Lanka in the winter, can be spotted here during the summer season. As many as 814 species are found in this “sparsely populated” region of Asia, according to a book, Birds of Bhutan and Eastern Himalayas published by Bloomsbury India.
  • Pale-capped Pigeon is only found in Arunachal Pradesh
  • Globally threatened Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) and the Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea).
  • Beautiful nuthatch (Sitta formosa), which breeds in subtropical broadleaved forests
  • The eastern Himalayan forests are also important habitats for the Snowy-throated Babbler (Stachyris oglei) and the Rusty-throated Wren Babbler (Spelaeornis badeigularis), which can be spotted only in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • THE COOL TEMPERATE broadleaved forests dominated by trees like oak (Quercus), maple (Acer), birch (Betula) and magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) also support a rich variety of birds. The Grey-bellied Wren-Babbler (Spelaeornis reptatus) and Blyth’s Tragopan (Tragopan blythii) are found here
  • The feathers of Sclater’s monal (Lophophorus sclateri) are used for making fans and the casque of Rufous-necked Hornbill is used in headgear

Water Conservation

  • Bonda tribe, Malkangiri district of Odisha
  • Bonda tribe, Malkangiri district of Odisha Odisha practises a unique form of shifting cultivation that enables the growth of over 20 crop varieties while preserving the biodiversity
  • Malkangiri hills support over 450 plant species and 34 medicinal herb varieties
  • For these farmers from the Bonda community, which is one of the 75 classified particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG) in the country, the farm practice they call danger chas (highland cultivation) has for generations ensured food security.
  • Mongla is one among the 0.13 million people in the tribe, as per the 2018 estimates by the Odisha PVTG Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme (OPELIP). It is jointly run by the state government and the International Fund for Agriculture Development

Scientific Misconduct Awa Phadigom or Bahkhawr- Why Gaya was in News?

  • Scientific misconduct in research appears in three forms: falsification, fabrication and plagiarism. Falsification refers to the misrepresentation or omission of data, and manipulation of instruments, raw materials or research methods.
  • Fabrication refers to the inclusion of data based on experiments that were never run. Plagiarism occurs when ideas, methods or data of someone else is presented as one’s own.
  • Manipur - Scientifically known as Eryngium foetidum, the leaves are used as a popular flavouring agent in the state. In Manipur, awa phadigom is also referred to as sha maroi. In neighbouring Mizoram, it is called bahkhawr.
  • Gaya in Bihar became the first district in India to impose Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (curfew) to deal with heat waves.

- Published/Last Modified on: August 29, 2019


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