1.KIRAN-Women Scientist Scheme

Why in News?
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology, GOI has started several pioneering initiatives for promoting women in science.
  • In 2014, DST restructured all women-specific programmes under one umbrella called Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN), which encompasses women-exclusive schemes and encourages them to foster their career by not only undertaking research in Science and Technology (S&T) but also focusing on S&T solutions of issues & challenges at the grassroots level for social benefits.
  • The mandate of the KIRAN Program is to bring gender parity in S&T through gender mainstreaming.
  • Women Scientist Scheme (WOS) addresses the challenges faced by S&T qualified women primarily due to social responsibilities.
  • Its two components WOS-A and WOS-B are directly implemented by the KIRAN Division and the third component WOS-C or KIRAN-IPR is implemented by TIFAC with grant-in-aid from DST.
  • TIFAC is an autonomous think tank under the DST. It was established in 1988.
  • It was mandated to assess the state-of-art of technology and set directions for future technological development in India in important socio-economic sectors.
  • The WOS was launched to address the critical issues of “career-break”, identify neglected well-qualified women in the field of S&T and to provide opportunities to women scientists.
  • To encourage women to continue the research in S&T, the Ministry provides fellowships through the following categories:
  • Women Scientist Scheme-A (WOS-A) – Research in Basic/Applied Science
  • Women Scientist Scheme-B (WOS-B) – S&T interventions for Societal Benefit
  • Women Scientist Scheme-C (WOS-C) – Internship in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for the Self-Employment

2.Polar vortex and India’s Weather

Why in News?
  • Meteorologists have indicated that the frequent wet spell causing heavy rains in North India this season could be a result of record Arctic freeze.
  • The Arctic sea ice cover this winter was at a 10-year high. For a long time, the Arctic ice cover was on a rapid decline due to global warming.
  • The polar vortex or wind circulation is the major cause of the freeze in the Arctic region.
  • The polar vortex is the area of low pressure and cold air that forms near the North or South Pole and is stronger in winter.
  • The polar vortex lets the Arctic cold trapped in the polar region.
  • A strong polar vortex supported by other global factors has caused at least 20 Western Disturbances in North India since January this year.
  • The western disturbance is the low-pressure area over the surface causing changes in pressure, wind pattern, and temperature.
  • This originates in the Mediterranean region which brings sudden rain to the north-western parts of the Indian sub-continent.
Polar vortex:

  • A polar vortex is an upper-level low-pressure area lying near one of the Earth’s poles. There are two polar vortices in the Earth’s atmosphere, overlying the North and South Poles.
  • Each polar vortex is a persistent, large-scale, low-pressure zone less than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) in diameter, that rotates counter-clockwise at the North Pole and clockwise at the South Pole (called a cyclone in both cases), i.e., both polar vortices rotate eastward around the poles.
  • As with other cyclones, their rotation is driven by the Coriolis effect. The bases of the two polar vortices are located in the middle and upper troposphere and extend into the stratosphere. Beneath that lies a large mass of cold, dense Arctic air.
  • A polar vortex strengthens in the winter and weakens in the summer because of its dependence on the temperature difference between the equator and the poles

3.Solar Cycle/ Cycle 25

Why in News?
  • The sunspots identified by researchers from IISER Kolkata herald the start of a new solar cycle called Cycle 25.
  • Sunspots are temporary phenomena on the Sun’s photosphere that appear as spots darker than the surrounding areas. They are relatively cooler spots on the Sun’s surface.
  • They are regions of reduced surface temperature caused by concentrations of magnetic field flux that inhibit convection.
  • Sunspots usually appear in pairs of opposite magnetic polarity with a leader and a follower.
Solar Cycle:
  • From our safe distance of about 148 million km, the Sun appears to be sedate and constant. However, huge solar flares and coronal mass ejections spew material from its surface into outer space.
  • They originate from sunspots, an important phenomenon that people have been following for hundreds of years.
  • They originate deep within the Sun and become visible when they pop out.
  • Their number is not constant but shows a minimum and then rises up to a maximum and then falls again in what is called the solar cycle.
  • Every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips. This means that the Sun’s north and south poles switch places. Then it takes about another 11 years for the Sun’s north and south poles to flip back again.
  • So far, astronomers have documented 24 such cycles, the last one ended in 2019.
Impacts of Solar Cycle:
  • This activity has effects on Earth. For example, eruptions can cause lights in the sky, called aurora, or impact radio communications. Extreme eruptions can even affect electricity grids on Earth.
  • Solar activity can affect satellite electronics and limit their lifetime.
  • Radiation can be dangerous for astronauts who do work on the outside of the International Space Station.
  • Forecasting of the solar cycle can help scientists protect our radio communications on Earth, and help keep satellites and astronauts safe.

4.Kyasanur Forest Disease

  • Recently the state government has a proposal to set up a research centre on Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) in Sagar, Karnataka.
About Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD):
  • It is caused by Kyasanur Forest disease Virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae.
  • It was first identified in 1957 in a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest in Karnataka. Since then, between 400-500 human cases per year have been reported.
  • It is endemic to the Indian state of Karnataka. It is also referred to as monkey fever by locals.
  • The Virus can cause epizootics (outbreak of disease in animals) with high fatality in primates. Rodents, shrews, and monkeys are common hosts for KFDV after being bitten by infected Hard ticks (Haemaphysalis Spinigera).
  • Its transmission to humans, occur after a tick bite or contact with an infected animal a sick or recently dead monkey.
  • The Symptoms like chills, fever, headache, severe muscle pain, vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding may occur, After an incubation period of 3-8 days.
  • The Patients may experience abnormally low blood pressure, and low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell counts.
  • It can be diagnosed in the early stage of illness by molecular detection by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or virus isolation from blood. Later, serologic testing using enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay (ELISA) can be performed.
  • It has no specific treatment although vaccine is available.

5.Gender Social Norms Index

Why in News?
  • Recently, the First Gender Social Norms Index was recently released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
 About the Gender Social Norms Index:
  • It measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population.
  • It found new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality – potentially forging a path forward to breaking through the so-called “glass ceiling”.
  • Despite decades of progress, close to 90 percent of men and women hold some sort of bias against women. Almost half of those polled feel that men are superior political leaders.
  • More than 40 per cent believe they make better business executives and are more entitled to jobs when the economy is lagging and 28 per cent think it is justified for a man to beat his wife.
  • Despite tangible progress in closing gender inequalities in developmental areas, as well as in removing legal barriers to political and economic participation, there exist power gaps.
  • This is because while men and women vote at similar rates, only 24 percent of parliamentary seats worldwide are held by women and there are only 10 female heads of government out of 193 Member States.
  • Furthermore, women are paid less than men working the same jobs and are much less likely to be in senior positions.
Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting:
  • The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 is the most ambitious road map for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere.
  • In 2020, it will be 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action set strategic objectives and actions for the achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern.
  • It provided a forum for UNECE member States to review progress and identify challenges in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
  • It was held on October 2019 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, and was jointly organized by UNECE and the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.

6.Conference on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs 2020

Why in News?
  • The “Conference on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs 2020” has been inaugurated on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (8th March) in New Delhi.
Key Points:
  • The Ministry of MSME in collaboration with various industry associations like FICCI, CII and India SME Forum has organised this three-day conference.
  • Also, a discussion on ‘Creating a conducive business Eco System for Empowering Women Entrepreneurs’ has been arranged for more than 300 women entrepreneurs from all parts of the country.
  • The MSME Sambandh and Udyam Sakhi portal which has helped to generate a pool of successful women entrepreneurs in the country has also found mention in the conference.
  1. 1.MSME Sambandh aims to monitor the implementation of public procurement from MSMEs by Central Public Sector Enterprises.
  2. 2.Udyam Sakhi portal intends to provide the right information for women entrepreneurs about self-employment on one single portal.
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