Maharashtra Current Affairs

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First fully India-made train Medha flagged off at Dadar station

First fully India-made train (rake) Medha was flagged off at Dadar station in Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu via videoconferencing.

The rake (group of coaches) costs Rs.43.23 crore, approximately Rs. 1 crore less than imported German-made Bombardier rake, which is Rs. 44.36 crore. It will save foreign exchange worth $50 lakh per EMU rake along with 25% manufacturing cost. 

Key Features of Medha

  • It has been manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  • Its rake with 12 coaches has capacity of 6,050 passengers and 1,168 seats. It has in-built systems to minimise breakdowns during the travel.
  • It is fitted with a high power fully Made in India 3-phase propulsion system and powered by Hyderabad-based firm Medha Servo Drives.
  • The rake can run at a speed of 110 kmph, whereas local trains run at maximum 90 or 100 kmph. Like the existing rakes, it has cushioned seats in first class and stainless steel seats in general compartments.
  • It also has LED lighting which reduces energy consumption by approximately 30-35% as compared to the existing rakes.
  • It is also fitted with GPS-based information system to indicate the stations and also has a facility that will help motormen communicate with a guard in case of emergencies.
  • The rake also has modular roof-mounted forced ventilation system which supplies 16000 cubic m/hr fresh air into the passenger area.

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Genetically Modified mosquito trials launched to control dengue, chikungunya and zika

Outdoor caged trials of genetically modified mosquitoes waere launched in Dawalwadi, Badnapur in Jalna district of Maharashtra to demonstrate the efficiency this technique to suppress wild female mosquito populations that transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

The trials are conducted by Oxitec and uses the Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes (RIDL) technology.

Key Facts
  • Oxitec’s technology uses GM male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry a dominant lethal gene. This gene is passed on to offspring after male GM mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes.
  • The lethal gene in the offspring kills the larvae before they reach adulthood. Since male mosquitoes do not bite humans, the release of these GM mosquitoes will not increase the risk of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
  • Oxitec’s mosquitoes were first released in Brazil were they have successfully reduced the local populations of mosquitoes by more than 90%, whereas insecticides only affect 30%.
  • Advantages: This strategy is considered as most eco-friendly solution so far to control the spread of infectious diseases as it only targets a specific mosquito strain and does not produce any toxic compounds. It has 99% efficiency to kill offspring.
Background

Dengue is estimated to infect 5.8 million people in India every year, costing the country over $1 billion annually. In recent times, outbreaks of Chikungunya, a mosquito borne viral disease have been increasingly reported in India. Both viral diseases are transmitted by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has fully supported the genetically engineered mosquitoes during last year’s Zika outbreak.

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Google Doodle pays tribute to India’s social reformer Savitribai Phule

Search engine giant Google honoured India’s 19th Century social reformer Savitribai Phule on the occasion of her 186th birth anniversary (3 January 2017) by dedicating a doodle on its webpage.

The ‘doodle’ had a narration by New Delhi-based NGO Zubaan, with colourful paintings by Malvika Asher on the different historical aspects of Savitribai’s life.

It showed a group of demure women assembled outside what could be a school for education in a skyblue starry background which also doubles as her blouse.

About Savitribai Phule

  • Savitribai was among the country’s first women to speak up for the rights of women. She was the first woman teacher of the first women’s school in India and also a first pioneer in modern Marathi poetry.
  • Born as Savitribai K. Patil on January 3, 1831 into a family of farmers. She was married at the age of nine to the 13-year old Jyotirao Phule.
  • She was home taught to read and write by her husband. Later the couple founded India’s first school for girls and women in Bhidewada, Pune (Maharashtra).
  • It started with just nine girls from different castes enrolled as students – but it became a historic step when female education was considered taboo in the orthodox Indian society prevalent then.
  • The school was started with just 9 girls from different castes. But it was considered as historic step when female education was considered taboo in the orthodox Indian society prevalent then.
  • During the British rule in India, the Phule couple had launched a crusade against social discrimination based on caste and gender, and also had sparked the flame for women’s equal rights.
  • During this highly patriarchal and orthodox Indian society when women had no say in anything, Savitribai’s courageous campaign covered social issues such as child marriages, child widows, practice of ‘Sati’, women education and fighting for equal rights for all women.
  • Even after death of Jyotirao Phule in 1890, she carried on legacy of his Satyashodhak. She died while serving people suffering from bubonic plague in Maharashtra in 1897.
  • As a tribute to her sheer courage and pioneering efforts in field of women education, social reform and gender equality Maharashtra government had renamed Pune University as Savitribai Phule University. India Post also had released a stamp in honour of Savitribai on March 10, 1998.

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