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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

How the Immunity System Works

23rd July 2020

What is Immune System?

Our immune system is essential for our survival. Without an immune system, our bodies would be open to attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. It is our immune system that keeps us healthy as we drift through a sea of pathogens.

 

What are Pathogens?

A pathogen is an organism that causes disease. Types/Examples– viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

Our body is naturally full of microbes. However, these microbes only cause a problem if your immune system is weakened or if they manage to enter a normally sterile part of your body.

White blood cells

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White blood cells are also called leukocytes. They circulate in the body in blood vessels and the lymphatic vessels that parallel the veins and arteries.

White blood cells are on constant patrol and looking for pathogens. When they find a target, they begin to multiply and send signals out to other cell types to do the same.

Our white blood cells are stored in different places in the body, which are referred to as lymphoid organs. These include the following:

  • Thymus — a gland between the lungs and just below the neck.
  • Spleen — an organ that filters the blood. It sits in the upper left of the abdomen.
  • Bone marrow — found in the center of the bones, it also produces red blood cells.
  • Lymph nodes —small glands positioned throughout the body, linked by lymphatic vessels.

There are two main types of leukocyte:

  1. Phagocytes

These cells surround and absorb pathogens and break them down, effectively eating them. There are several types, including:

  • Neutrophils — these are the most common type of phagocyte and tend to attack bacteria.
  • Monocytes — these are the largest type and have several roles.
  • Macrophages — these patrol for pathogens and also remove dead and dying cells.
  • Mast cells — they have many jobs, including helping to heal wounds and defend against pathogens.
  1. Lymphocytes

Lymphocytes help the body to remember previous invaders and recognize them if they come back to attack again.

Lymphocytes begin their life in bone marrow. Some stay in the marrow and develop into B lymphocytes (B cells), others head to the thymus and become T lymphocytes (T cells).

These two cell types have different roles:

  • B lymphocytes — they produce antibodies and help alert the T lymphocytes.
  • T lymphocytes — they destroy compromised cells in the body and help alert other leukocytes.

How an immune response works?

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The immune system needs to be able to tell self from non-self. It does this by detecting proteins that are found on the surface of all cells. It learns to ignore its own or self proteins at an early stage.

An antigen is any substance that can spark an immune response.

In many cases, an antigen is a bacterium, fungus, virus, toxin, or foreign body. But it can also be one of our own cells that is faulty or dead. Initially, a range of cell types works together to recognize the antigen as an invader.

The role of B lymphocytes

Once B lymphocytes spot the antigen, they begin to secrete antibodies (antigen is short for “antibody generators”). Antibodies are special proteins that lock on to specific antigens.

Each B cell makes one specific antibody. For instance, one might make an antibody against the bacteria that cause pneumonia, and another might recognize the common cold virus.

Antibodies are part of a large family of chemicals called immunoglobulins, which play many roles in the immune response:

  • Immunoglobulin G (IgG) — marks microbes so other cells can recognize and deal with them.
  • IgM — is expert at killing bacteria.
  • IgA — congregates in fluids, such as tears and saliva, where it protects gateways into the body.
  • IgE — protects against parasites and is also to blame for allergies.
  • IgD — stays bound to B lymphocytes, helping them to start the immune response.

Antibodies lock onto the antigen, but they do not kill it, only mark it for death. The killing is the job of other cells, such as phagocytes.

The role of T lymphocytes

There are distinct types of T lymphocytes:

Helper T cells (Th cells) — they coordinate the immune response. Some communicate with other cells, and some stimulate B cells to produce more antibodies. Others attract more T cells or cell-eating phagocytes.

Killer T cells (cytotoxic T lymphocytes) — as the name suggests, these T cells attack other cells. They are particularly useful for fighting viruses. They work by recognizing small parts of the virus on the outside of infected cells and destroy the infected cells.

Everyone’s immune system is different but, as a general rule, it becomes stronger during adulthood as, by this time, we have been exposed to more pathogens and developed more immunity.

That is why teens and adults tend to get sick less often than children.

Once an antibody has been produced, a copy remains in the body so that if the same antigen appears again, it can be dealt with more quickly.

That is why with some diseases, such as chickenpox, you only get it once as the body has a chickenpox antibody stored, ready and waiting to destroy it next time it arrives. This is called immunity.

There are three types of immunity in humans called innate, adaptive, and passive:

Innate immunity

We are all born with some level of immunity to invaders. Human immune systems, similarly to those of many animals, will attack foreign invaders from day one. This innate immunity includes the external barriers of our body — the first line of defense against pathogens — such as the skin and mucous membranes of the throat and gut.

This response is more general and non-specific. If the pathogen manages to dodge the innate immune system, adaptive or acquired immunity kicks in.

Adaptive (acquired) immunity

This protect from pathogens develops as we go through life. As we are exposed to diseases or get vaccinated, we build up a library of antibodies to different pathogens. This is sometimes referred to as immunological memory because our immune system remembers previous enemies.

Passive immunity

This type of immunity is “borrowed” from another source, but it does not last indefinitely. For instance, a baby receives antibodies from the mother through the placenta before birth and in breast milk following birth. This passive immunity protects the baby from some infections during the early years of their life.

Immunizations

Immunization introduces antigens or weakened pathogens to a person in such a way that the individual does not become sick but still produces antibodies. Because the body saves copies of the antibodies, it is protected if the threat should reappear later in life.

Edge Computing

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

GS III

What is Edge computing?

It is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times and save bandwidth.

 

Cloud Computing:

  • Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user.
  • The term is generally used to describe data centres available to many users over the Internet.

Why need an upgrade?

  • Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google — the technology giants that provide cloud computing infrastructure to major corporates and governments.
  • They want to leverage 5G wireless technology and artificial intelligence to enable faster response times, lower latency (ability to process very high volumes of data with minimal delay), and simplified maintenance in computing.
  • This is where Edge Computing comes in — which many see as an extension to the cloud, but which is, in fact, different in several basic ways.
  • By 2025 companies will generate and process more than 75% of their data outside of traditional centralised data centres — that is, at the “edge” of the clou

So, what is Edge Computing?

  • Edge computing enables data to be analysed, processed and transferred at the edge of a network.
  • The idea is to analyse data locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency, rather than send it far away to a centralised data centre.
  • So whether you are streaming a video or accessing a library of video games in the cloud, edge computing allows for quicker data processing and content delivery.

How is edge computing different from cloud computing?

  • The basic difference between edge computing and cloud computing lies inthe place where the data processing takes place.
  • At the moment, the existing Internet of Things (IoT) systems performs all of their computations in the cloud using data centres.
  • Edge computing, on the other hand, essentially manages the massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices by storing and processing data locally.
  • That data doesn’t need to be sent over a network as soon as it processed; only important data is sent — therefore, an edge computing network reduces the amount of data that travels over the network.

And how soon can edge computing becomes part of our lives?

  • Experts believe the true potential of edge computing will become apparent when 5G networks go mainstream in a year from now.
  • Users will be able to enjoy consistent connectivity without even realizing it.
  • Nvidia, one of the biggest players in the design and manufacture of graphics and AI acceleration hardware, has just announced its EGX edge computing platform.
  • This will help telecom operators adopt 5G networks capable of supporting edge workloads.

Consumer Protection Act, 2019

Why in News?

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 has come into effect from July 20, replacing the earlier Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Highlights of the legislation:

Definition of consumer:

A consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.

  • It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purpose.
  • It covers transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing or direct selling.

Six consumer rights have been defined in the act, including the right to:

  1. Right to Safety
  2. Right to be Informed
  3. Right to Choose
  4. Right to be heard
  5. Right to seek Redressal
  6. Right to Consumer Education

Central Consumer Protection Authority:

The central government will set up CCPA to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.

It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.

  1. The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations.

Increased compensation:

The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.

In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission:

CDRCs will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.  A consumer can file a complaint with CDRCs in relation to:

  • Unfair or restrictive trade practices;
  • Defective goods or services;
  • Overcharging or deceptive charging; and
  • The offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety.

Appeals:

Complaints against an unfair contract can be filed only at the State and National levels.

Appeals from a District CDRC will be heard by the State CDRC. Appeals from the State CDRC will be heard by the National CDRC.

Final appeal will lie before the Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction of CDRCs:

  1. The District CDRC will entertain complaints where value of goods and services does not exceed Rs one crore.
  2. The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs one crore but does not exceed Rs 10 crore.
  3. Complaints with value of goods and services over Rs 10 crore will be entertained by the National CDRC.

Mediation:

The act provides for reference to mediation by Consumer Commissions wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it.

  • Mediation Cells to be attached to Consumer Commissions. Mediation to be held in consumer mediation cells.
  • Panel of mediators to be selected by a selection committee consisting of the President and a member of Consumer Commission.
  • No appeal against settlement through mediation.

Impact of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 on e-commerce platforms:

The e-commerce portals will have to set up a robust consumer redressal mechanism as part of the rules under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

  • They will also have to mention the country of origin which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
  • The e-commerce platforms also have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within forty-eight hours and redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt under this Act.

Product Liability:

A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller will be held responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective product or deficiency in services.

The Community Water Model (CWM)

GS III

Why in News?

In order to aid in the accurate assessment of water supply and the demands of both people and the environment, researchers have developed a large-scale hydrological and water resources model – the Community Water Model (CWM).

Background

The growing global population and continued economic development will likely require a significant increase in water demand, especially in developing regions. At the same time, climate change is already having global, regional, and local impacts on water availability.

Details

  • The model can simulate the movement, distribution, and management of water both globally and regionally to evaluate water availability in terms of water demand and environmental needs.
  • It includes an accounting of how future water demand will evolve in response to socioeconomic change and how water availability will be influenced by climate change.
  • The integrated modelling framework considers water demand from agriculture, domestic needs, energy, industry, and the environment.
  • The Community Water Model has a modular structure that is open source and uses state-of-the-art data storage protocols as input and output data while being community-driven to promote the team’s work among the wider water community.
  • It is flexible enough to change between scales, to be integrated with water quality and the hydro-economy, and to be linked with other models.
  • Because the modelling framework is general, it can also be adapted to address new interdisciplinary research questions, which means that it opens the door to many potential applications to explore connections between the nexus aspects of energy, land, and water.
  • The main novelty of the model is that it combines existing good practice in various scientific communities beyond hydrology itself, rather than provide entirely new concepts for modelling hydrological and socioeconomic processes.
  • The model is customizable to the needs of different users with varying levels of programming skills. This will support and enable different stakeholder groups and scientific communities beyond hydrology and of varying capacities to engage with a hydrological model in support of their investigations.
  • The Community Water Model represents one of the new key elements of the Water Program to assess water supply, water demand, and environmental needs at the global and regional levels.
  • It is the first step towards developing an integrated modelling framework, that can be used to explore the economic trade-offs between different water management options, encompassing both water supply infrastructure and demand management.

 

The Community Water Model will continue to be developed to include more features such as a routing scheme related to reservoirs and canals to better simulate water availability in both agricultural and urban contexts, and the capacity to explore aspects related to groundwater management.

Facts for Prelims

NAIMISHA 2020:

It is an initiative to provide a chance to participants and art enthusiasts to create and learn from practising artists.

  • The programme includes online workshops sessions on painting, sculpture, printmaking and indrajaal(an interdisciplinary creative workshop).
  • Organised by National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA).
  • The exhibition of selected artworks from the program will be displayed on So’ham, the cultural media platform of NGMA

 

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