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Post – Fani Odisha CM demands Special Category Status

Paper : General Studies 2


Why in news?

  • Odisha Chief Minister demanded special category status from the Centre for his disaster prone-state, saying it faces natural calamities almost every year.
  • He also said that the assistance received from the Centre is mostly for temporary restoration of infrastructure. For long term work the State has to rely on its own funds.
  • Also, the Odisha government is planning to launch a special project called ‘Swayamsiddha’ in which Women SHGs will be trained in evacuation, rescue, restoration and rehabilitation during natural calamities in the Ganjam district.


What is Special Category Status?

  • Recognising that some regions in the country were historically disadvantaged in contrast to others, Central plan assistance to SCS States has been granted in the past by the erstwhile Planning Commission body, National Development Council (NDC).
  • The National Development Council (NDC) granted this status based on a number of features of the States which included: hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or the presence of sizeable tribal population, strategic location along international borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of State finances.
  • It is not a Constitutional provision.
  • The SCS States used to receive block grants based on the Gadgil-Mukherjee formula, which effectively allowed for nearly 30 percent of the Total Central Assistance to be transferred to SCS States as late as 2009-10.
  • Central plan assistance to SCS States has been subsumed in an increased devolution of the divisible pool to all States (from 32% in the 13th FC recommendations to 42%) and do not any longer appear in plan expenditure. This has been done on the recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission



Baal sabhas reducing dropout rates in schools : Rajasthan

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Baal sabhas of government schools which are being organised regularly at public places in the villages across Rajasthan have turned out to be a successful experiment for raising academic standards and reducing dropout rates of students.


What is a baal sabha?

  • They are public meetings held to identify the various issues and their solutions in the government schools in Rajasthan
  • Apart from the students, the parents, teachers and prominent members of the village community are participants in the baal sabha.
  • Government of Rajasthan aims to improve the quality of education through interaction with all the stakeholders via the initiative.
  • According to the Government, such meets will also help in personality development of the children by regular debate and discourse.



BT Brinjal found being cultivated in Haryana illegally

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Tests on crop samples from Fatehabad district have confirmed cultivation of BT Brinjal crop in Haryana
  • The activists say that this is a biohazard contamination, and must be treated seriously


For more on the issue review current affairs for April 26


MANAV : Human Atlas Initiative

Paper : General Studies 3


Why in news?

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched ‘MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative’, a project for mapping every tissue of the human body to help understand better the roles of tissues and cells linked to various diseases.


What are the aims of the project?

  • The comprehensive map of the human body, every tissue accounted for, will be created from all available scientific literature.
  • The programme will seek to provide better biological insights through physiological and molecular mapping, develop disease models through predictive computing, and allow for a holistic analysis and finally drug discovery.
  • The aim of the project is to understand and capture human physiology in two stages — normal stage and disease stage.
  • The platform will also impart key skills to the student community in reading scientific literature — in this case on individual tissues — and perform annotation and curation.
  • Such a database will come in handy in tracing causes of a disease, understanding specific pathways and ultimately decoding how the body’s disease stage is linked to tissues and cells.
  • The teams will also study any potent elements or molecules that have never been used in the form of drugs, to target specific cells or tissues.


New Orchid discovered in Assam

Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • An Assam forest officer has discovered one of India’s smallest orchids in terms of size and duration of bloom recorded botanically.
  • This orchid is a mycoheterotroph – one of the two types of parasitic plants to have abandoned photosynthesis.
  • It has been discovered earlier in Japan, Taiwan and Laos.


What are mycoheterotrophs?

  • Mycoheterotrophs obtain their nutrition indirectly from the plant via a mycorrhizal fungus.  
  • The mycorrhizal fungus, attached to the roots of a photosynthetic plant, thus acts as a bridge between that plant and the mycoheterotroph, such that nutrients (carbon) flow from plant root, to mycorrhizal fungus to the mycoheterotroph.