Current Affair – May 24, 2021

Zebra Fish

  • A new study reveals the tropical fish’s hibernating habits may teach us a thing or two on how to land our foot on Mars.
  • The zebra fish could help humans reach Mars by understanding how a form of hibernation, known as induced torpor (a state of reduced metabolic activity) may provide radio-protective effects.


  • Hibernation is a physiological condition found in many species. It protects them against harsh conditions, such as food scarcity and low environmental temperatures.
  • Replicating hibernation may therefore protect astronauts against the harsh conditions of space flight, which include challenges such as radiation exposure, bone and muscle wastage, advanced ageing and vascular problems.
  • If astronauts hibernate on their journey, those difficulties may be solved.
  • Recent technological advancements might have made space travel more accessible. However, long-term space travel was incredibly detrimental to human health.
  • Humans hibernating on spaceflights would lead to reduced brain function which would cut down on psychological stress.
  • The change to their metabolism would stop them requiring food, oxygen or water. There was also a possibility it would protect their muscles from wasting due to the effects caused by radiation and microgravity.

Findings of study

  • To conduct their study, the researchers exposed zebra fish to radiation like what would be experienced on a six-month journey to Mars.
  • This radiation caused signatures of oxidative stress, stress hormone signalling and halting of the cell cycle within the zebra fish.
  • Torpor lowered the metabolic rate within the zebra fish and created a radio protective effect, protecting against the harmful effects of radiation.
  • While in induced torpor, the zebra fish showed that a reduction in metabolism and oxygen concentration in cells promotes less oxidative stress and greater resistance to radiation.

About zebra fish

  • The zebra fish is a freshwater fish belonging to the minnow family (Cyprinidae) of the order Cypriniformes.
  • It is native to south Asia.
  • It is kept in aquariums by fish collectors drawn by its shiny blue stripes.
Source: Down-to-earth

Indo-Israel Agriculture Cooperation

  • Israel and India signed a three-year work program agreement for development in Agriculture cooperation.
  • India and Israel are implementing the “INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence” and “INDO- ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”.
  • MIDH, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India, and MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation – are leading Israel’s largest G2G cooperation, with 29 operational Centres of Excellence (COEs) across India in 12 States, implementing Advanced-Intensive agriculture farms with Israeli Agro-Technology tailored to local conditions.
  • The Centres of Excellence generate knowledge, demonstrate best practices and train farmers. Every year, these COEs produce more than 25 million quality vegetable seedlings, more than 387 thousand quality fruit plants and train more than 1.2 lakh farmers about latest technology in the field of horticulture.
  • The work program will aim to grow existing Centres of Excellence, establish new centres, increase CoE’s value chain, bring the Centres of Excellence into the self-sufficient mode, and encourage private sector companies and collaboration.

“INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”

  • It is a new concept aimed at creating a model ecosystem in agriculture across eight states, alongside 13 Centres of Excellence within 75 villages.
  • The program will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms based on IIAP standards.
  • Large-scale and complete value chain approach with economic sustainability, embedded with Israeli novel technologies and methodologies will be tailored to local conditions.
  • The IIVOE program will focus on: (1) Modern Agriculture infrastructure, (2) Capacity Building, (3) Market linkage.
Source: PIB

A case for new public governance model

Problems with the present Weberian model


  • Weberian bureaucracy still prefers a generalist over a specialist. A generalist officer (IAS and State civil service officials) is deemed an expert and as a result, superior,
  • Specialists in every government department have to remain subordinate to the generalist officers. During the COVID19 pandemic, healthcare professionals who are specialists have been made to work under generalist officers and the policy options have been left to the generalists.
  • The justification is that the generalist provides a broader perspective.

2. Leadership of position

  • This smell provides for leadership of position over leadership of function. Leadership of function is when a person has expert knowledge of a particular responsibility in a particular situation. The role of the leader is to explain the situation instead of issuing orders.
  • Weberian bureaucracy prefers leadership based on position.


  • Rigid adherence to rules has resulted in the rejection of innovation.
  • Example: COVID19 aid got stuck in cumbersome clearance processes even during the pandemic.

Reform suggested: New public management

  • It promotes privatisation and managerial techniques of the private sector as an effective tool to seek improvements in public service delivery and governance.
  • It isn’t a viable solution, not the least in India where there is social inequality and regional variations in development.
  • It renders the state a bystander among the multiple market players with accountability being constantly shifted, especially during a crisis.
  • Further, COVID19 has shown that the private sector has also failed in public service delivery.

Way forward: New public governance model

  • The most appropriate administrative reform is the model of new public governance.

· It is based on collaborative governance in which the public sector, private players and civil society, especially public service organisations (NGOs), work together for effective public service delivery.

  • There is no domination of public bureaucracy as the sole agency in policy formulation and implementation.
  • As part of new public governance, a network of social actors and private players would take responsibility in various aspects of governance with public bureaucracy steering the ship rather than rowing it.

·         Role of civil society has to be institutionalized.

  • It needs a change in the behavior of bureaucracy.
  • It needs flexibility in hierarchy, a relook at the generalist versus specialist debate, and an openness to reforms such as lateral entry and collaboration with a network of social actors

All major revolutions with huge implications on public service delivery have come through the collaboration of public bureaucracy with so called outsiders. These include the Green Revolution (M.S. Swaminathan), the White Revolution (VergheseKurien), Aadhaar enabled services (Nandan Nilekani) and the IT revolution (Sam Pitroda).

Source: The Hindu

Mount Nyiragongo Volcanic eruption

  • The active volcano in Congo, Mount Nyiragongo has erupted again. Mount Nyaragongo which overlooks Goma town, erupted spewing lava, gases and sediments. Most of the lava, however, has flowed to wards Rwanda and only a small stream is trickling towards Goma.

· The Indian Army contingent under the United Nations peace keeping mission (MONUSCO) assisted in protecting civilians and U.N. officials as well as as sets during the evacuation.

About Mount Nyiragongo

· Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano in the Virunga Mountains of east-central Africa.

  • It lies in the volcano region of Virunga National Park, Congo (Kinshasa), near the border with Rwanda, 19 km north of Goma.

Some older craters on the mountain are noted for their plant life. Nyiragongo is known for its devastating eruptions.

Source: The Hindu

17+1 Cooperation Forum

  • Lithuania said it was quitting China’s 17+1 cooperation forum with central and eastern European (CEE) states that includes other EU members, calling it “divisive”.
  • It also urged fellow EU members to pursue “a much more effective 27+1 approach and communication with China.”

About 17+1

  • The 17+1 initiative is a China-led format founded in 2012 in Budapest.

·It aims to expand cooperation between Beijing and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) member countries, with investments and trade for the development of the CEE region.

  • The framework also focuses on infrastructure projects such as bridges, motorways, railway lines and modernisation of ports in the member states.
  • The initiative includes twelve EU member states and five Balkan states — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
  • The platform is largely seen as an extension of China’s flagship Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
Source: The Hindu

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