Today’s News Updates – 2.January 2018

Schistura Larketensis: New species of blind fish discovered inside Meghalaya cave

Scientists have discovered a new species of blind fish named Schistura larketensis inside a cave in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya. The fish has been named after Larket village, where the cave has been found to encourage local people to take up biodiversity conservation.
Schistura larketensis has lost its sight during its living evolution in perpetual darkness inside the cave. It has also lost its pigments too while adapting to its habitat in the dark waters.The orbital diameter of fish decreases gradually as its matures with eyes completely absent in older individuals. Small and faintly blackish spot-like depressions are seen in place of eyes, indicating evolutionary and morphological adaptations.
Though there are about 200 known species of similar kind of fish inhabiting streams and rivers throughout Indochina and Southeast Asia, this is first such discovery of blind fish.

Health Ministry launches Allied and Health care Professional Database

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched Allied and Health care Professional Database portal to make data repository robust to ensure better systems and frameworks for healthcare workforce in country.
Allied and Health care Professional Database
The AHP portal has a capacity of capturing more than 10 lakh Allied and Healthcare Professionals’ (AHP) data. It will be helpful in expediting envisaged processes viz. licensing of professionals, workforce policy planning, and bringing transparency in system by maintaining standards of educational and clinical practice etc.
How it works? 
The AHPs can visit portal on link mentioned above and provide basic personal, qualification and professional information. The portal will also send auto-generated email to registered email of candidate for verification and will provide enrolment reference number for further usage.

Government launches NARI portal and e-Samvad portal

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched online portal NARI ( for the empowerment of women. It has been developed by the Ministry to provide easy access to information on government schemes and initiatives for women.
NARI portal 
The NARI portal will provide information to women on issues affecting their lives. The portal summarise over 350 government schemes and other important information. The schemes are divided into 7 different categories — health, education, housing and shelter, employment, addressing violence, decision making and social support.
e-Samvad portal 
The MWCD also launched the portal to provide platform for NGOs and Civil Societies to interact with the ministry. Through it, NGOs and civil society can provide their feedback, suggestions, put up grievances, share best practices etc.

Parliament passes Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Amendment Bill, 2017

Parliament has passed Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2017 after it was passed by both the houses. The Bill amends Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, and replaces Ordinance promulgated in November 2017 to pave way for tightening loopholes in existing code and make resolution process more effective.
Key Features of Bill 
The bill redefines resolution applicant mentioned in code as person who submits resolution plan after receiving invite by insolvency professional to do so. It amends provision related to eligibility in IBC to state that insolvency professional will only invite those resolution applicants to submit plan, who fulfil certain criteria laid down by him with approval of committee of creditors and other conditions which may be specified by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board.
It prohibits certain persons from submitting resolution plan in case of defaults. These include: (i) wilful defaulters, (ii) promoters or management or management of the company if it has outstanding non-performing debt for over year and (iii) disqualified directors, among others.



e- Samvad portal has been launched by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

About e- Samvad:

What is it? It is an online platform for NGOs and Civil Societies to interact with the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
Details: Through e-Samvad portal, NGOs and civil society can provide their feedback, suggestions, put up grievances, share best practices etc. Senior Officers within MWCD will be able to view the inputs/suggestions received for their concerned subject areas and appropriately respond to NGOs. This will help in formulation of effective policies and measures for welfare of women and children.

China develops underwater surveillance networks in Indian Ocean, South China Sea

China has developed a new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road, which includes the Indian Ocean. The project is part of an unprecedented military expansion fuelled by Beijing’s desire to challenge the United States in the world’s oceans.

About the Underwater surveillance network:

What is it? It is an underwater surveillance system that is based on a network of platforms — buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders — that gather data from the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

How it works? The system works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the navy can then use to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.


Parker solar probe

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is scheduled for launch in 2018 to explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere.

About the Parker solar probe:

What is it? NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?

The sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying this star we live with, we learn more about stars throughout the universe.
The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed.
The sun also affects Earth in less familiar ways. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).
Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts, part of a set of changes in near-Earth space known as space weather.
Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on.
The solar wind also fills up much of the solar system, dominating the space environment far past Earth. As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean.


What are they? They are the recently identified special genes which could help Symbiodinium adapt more rapidly to heat stress.
About Symbiodinium:

What is it? Symbiodinium is a unicellular algae that provides its coral host with photosynthetic products in return for nutrients and shelter.

Coral bleach: High sea temperatures can cause the breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between the algae and corals and lead to the widespread expulsion of Symbiodinium from host tissues, an event known as coral beaching. If bleached corals do not recover, they starve to death, leaving only their white, calcium-carbonate exoskeleton.

What is Coral Bleaching?

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. Corals can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

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