India-UK Current Affairs - 2019
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India-United Kingdom (UK) Joint Team has won Newton-Bhabha Fund for project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin. The project was undertaken by Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK to find solutions to water challenges faced in pervasively arsenic-affected Ganga River Basin.
- The Indian team comprised representatives of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, National Institute of Hydrology, IIT Roorkee and Mahavir Cancer Sansthan and Research Centre of Patna.
- The UK team consisted of representatives of University of Manchester, University of Salford, British Geological Survey and University of Birmingham.
- The project is aimed to assess problem of arsenic poisoning and to understand aggravation such situation in next 25 to 30 years and its influence on groundwater management practices and suggest water remedial technologies accordingly. It is conducted from three sites – Bijnor and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Nadia in West Bengal.
Newton Bhabha Fund,
It is provided by the British Council. It aims to bring together UK and Indian scientific research and innovation sectors to find joint solutions to the challenges facing India in economic development and social welfare.
- Arsenic is natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. Arsenic contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
- Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
- Arsenic Contamination is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tube wells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels.
The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and UK’s Natural History Museum (NHM) have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in field of genetic and taxonomic studies, research and training, conservation in India, including species and habitat conservation assessments.
Objectives of MoU
- Open up mediums of collaboration in science, support further research and boost scientific study for benefit of both India and UK.
- Help both nations keep up with their commitment to use scientific evidence to support goals of Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES and Nagoya Protocol.
- Capacity building and scientific exchanges between two nations and learn from each other and work collaboratively to address important scientific questions and deliver benefit to humanity.
Significance of MoU
It will pave way for BSI staff to work in NHM and for staff there to work in BSI. It will enable exchange of knowledge and information between two esteemed research organisations. Both organisations will be able to share fairly benefits that may arise from collection, study and conservation of plant materials such as seeds, herbarium specimens and tissue samples and exchange associated data and images. NHM will also help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India.
Botanical Survey of India (BSI)
BSI is the apex research organization under Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEFCC) for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of country. It was established in 1890 with objective to explore plant resources of country and to identify plants species with economic virtues. It has nine regional circles situated at different regions of the country.
Primary functions of BSI
- Exploration, inventorying and documentation of phytodiversity in general and protected areas, hotspots and fragile ecosystems in particular
- Publication of National, State and District Floras.
- Identification of threatened and red list species and species rich areas needing conservation.
- Ex-situ conservation of critically threatened species in botanical gardens.
- Survey and documentation of traditional knowledge (ethno-botany) associated with plants.
- Develop National database of Indian plants, including herbarium and live specimens, botanical paintings and illustrations, etc.