Sickle cell anaemia is an autosomal recessive disease or Mendelian disorder (Genetic Disorder), which is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin-β gene found on chromosome 11. This mutation results in defective hemoglobin (Hb).
An inherited blood disorder where red blood cells (RBCs) become sickle/crescent shaped.
It causes frequent infections, swelling in the hands and legs, pain, severe tiredness, and delayed growth or puberty.
After giving up oxygen, these defective Hb molecules cluster together resulting in the formation of rod-like structures.
The red blood cells become stiff and assume a sickle shape.
The disease is controlled by a single pair of alleles, HbA and HbS (genotype).
Out of the three possible genotypes, only homozygous individuals for HbS (HbSHbS) show the diseased phenotype.
Heterozygous (HbAHbS) individuals appear unaffected but they are carriers of the disease as there is a 50% probability of transmission of the mutant gene to the progeny, thus exhibiting sickle-cell trait.
The disease is most common among people whose ancestors originated from sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Cuba, Central America, Saudi Arabia, India, and Mediterranean countries.
In India, it is common among people of the Deccan plateau of central India with a smaller focus in the north of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
With the winter solstice, the ‘chillaikalan’ has started in the Kashmir Valley.
Chillai Kalan or Chillia Kalan is the local name given to the 40 days of harsh winter in Kashmir.
It is the coldest part of winter, starting from 21 December to January 29 every year.
‘Chillai Kalan’ is a Persian term that means ‘major cold’.
The cold wave is triggered by the sub-zero temperature.
The ongoing cold wave is said to reach its peak with Kashmir’s mountains covered in snow for weeks.
It is said the snow during the period lasts longer and replenishes the streams, rivers, and lakes of Kashmir.
The bone-chilling cold condition is followed by a 20-day-long ‘Chillai Khurd’ and 10-day-long ‘Chillai Bacha’.
The number of heart attack and stroke patients at Kashmir hospitals doubles in winter due to the chilly weather.
Not only the elderly, but young and healthy people come to hospitals with heart problems, and some of them are even brought dead.
Scientists detect new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 using DNA sequencing.
Genomic Sequencing or DNA Sequencing determines the order of the four chemical building blocks (‘bases’) or nucleotides that make up the DNA molecule –
These nucleotides pair up together collectively to make up a genome that contains all the genetic information an organism needs to survive.
When an organism replicates, it makes a copy of its entire genome to pass on to its offspring.
Sometimes errors in the copying process can lead to mutations in which one or more building blocks are swapped, deleted, or inserted.
This may alter genes and can affect the physical characteristics of that organism.
Types of Sequencing
There are three generations of sequencing technologies –
First-generation sequencing (used in the 1970s and 1980s) – Maxam-Gilbert method, and Sanger method (or dideoxy method),
Next-generation sequencing or NGS (used since the late 1990s)
Second-generation sequencing and
First Gen/Sanger sequencing involves cutting up DNA into short fragments and adding radioactive or fluorescent tags to identify each nucleotide. The fragments are then put through an electric sieve that sorts them by size.
Compared with newer methods, Sanger sequencing is slow and can process only relatively short stretches of DNA.
But it provides highly accurate data, and some researchers are still using this method to sequence SARS-CoV-2 samples.
Second-generation sequencing marks each nucleotide with a specific color. These technologies can read DNA directly.
Third-generation sequencing technologies like the Nanopore MinIon detect changes in an electrical current to identify nucleotides.
As each pair of nucleotides disrupts the electrical current in a particular way, the sequencer can read these changes and upload them directly to a computer.
150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo
Recently, the Prime Minister has set up a 53-member committee to mark the 150th birth anniversary of spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo on 15th August 2022.
Aurobindo Ghose was born in Calcutta on 15thAugust 1872.
He was a yogi, seer, philosopher, poet, and Indian nationalist who propounded a philosophy of divine life on earth through spiritual evolution.
He died on 5th DecemberthDecember 1950 in Pondicherry.
His education began in a Christian convent school in Darjeeling.
He entered the University of Cambridge, where he became proficient in two classical and several modern European languages.
In 1892,he held various administrative posts in Baroda (Vadodara) and Calcutta (Kolkata).
He began the study of Yoga and Indian languages, including classical Sanskrit.
Indian Revolutionary Movement:
From 1902 to 1910 he took part in the struggle to free India from the British. As a result of his political activities, he was imprisoned in 1908 (Alipore Bomb case).
Two years later he fled British India and found refuge in the French colony of Pondichéry (Puducherry), where he devoted himself for the rest of his life to the development of his “integral” yoga with an aim of a fulfilled and spiritually transformed life on earth.
In Pondichéry he founded a community of spiritual seekers, which took shape as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926.
He believed that the basic principles of matter, life, and mind would be succeeded through terrestrial evolution by the principle of supermind as an intermediate power between the two spheres of the infinite and the finite.
An English newspaper called Bande Mataram (in 1905).
Bases of Yoga
Bhagavad Gita and Its Message
The Future Evolution of Man
Rebirth and Karma
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Hour of God
Depreciation of Indian Rupee
The Indian currency declined 2.2% in the Sep-Dec 2021 quarter. This depreciation of the currency is due to global funds worth $4 billion having been pulled out of the country’s stock market.
This downfall of currency makes the Indian rupee as Asia’s worst-performing currency.
Currency depreciation is a fall in the value of a currency in a floating exchange rate system.
Rupee depreciation means that the rupee has become less valuable with respect to the dollar.
For example: USD 1 used to equal to Rs. 70, now USD 1 is equal to Rs. 76, implying that it takes more rupees to purchase a dollar.
Impact of Depreciation of Indian Rupee:
Depreciation in the rupee is a double-edged sword for the Reserve Bank of India.
Positive: While a weaker currency may support exports amid a nascent economic recovery from the pandemic.
Negative: It poses a risk of imported inflation, and may make it difficult for the central bank to maintain interest rates at a record low for longer.
Reasons for Current Depreciation of Indian Rupee:
India’s trade deficit widened to an all-time high of about $23 billion in November amid higher imports.
The strengthening of the USD is in line with expectations of better growth in the US economy and favorable interest offered by the Federal Reserve (US Central bank).
The RBI has been continuously buying dollars to build its reserves and prepare itself for any volatility.
The outflow of capital from stocks.
Covid New Variant – Omicron Concerns.
Use of Drones
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has released Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for drone application in Agriculture.
The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) commonly known as drones have great potential to revolutionize Indian agriculture and ensure the country’s food security.
The drones were used for the first time in warding off locust attacks in various states of the country.
A Drone-Based vaccine delivery model named, Drone Response and Outreach in North East (i-Drone) was also started by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently.
About Standard Operating Procedures (SOP):
The SOP for drone regulation for pesticide application covers:
Important aspects like statutory provisions, flying permissions, area distance restrictions, weight classification, overcrowded areas restriction, drone registration, safety insurance, piloting certification, operation plan, air flight zones, weather conditions.
SOPs are also for pre, post, and during operation, emergency handling plans.
Drone Technology in Use of Application of Pesticides:
Pesticides:Toaddress the protection of crops against a large number of pests
Conventional Spraying of Pesticide vs Use of Drones:
With conventional manual sprayers, the safety of operators, overuse of chemicals, etc. are a major concern.
The use of drone technology as a modern farming technique is aimed at making production more efficient through the precise spraying of pesticides and crop nutrients.
It would ensure accuracy, uniformity in a spray across the field, reduction in the overall use of chemicals.
Other Uses of Drone Technology in Agriculture & Their Advantages: