Scientists in India estimate movement of Antarctic plate

Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

New Delhi: Even as the Indian tectonic plate is constantly crawling northwards at about 2 to 3 centimetres per year, the Antarctic tectonic plate is spinning like a pinwheel. A group of Indian scientists have assessed the velocity of motion of the Antarctic tectonic plate.

The Antarctic plate is the only one that rotates. All others across the surface of the world move in one direction or the other. The motion assessment has been made using data from 48 sites in different parts of the icy continent. These GPS stations belong to two American organisations – University Navstar Consortium and Scripps Orbit and Permanent Array Centre. One GPS station is located in Maitri, India’s permanent station in the continent.

Among all major and minor tectonic plates, the Antarctic plate is unique as it has a geodynamic setting. It is almost completely surrounded by mid-oceanic ridges, divergent or conservative margins which are formed due to interactions of several other plates. Majority of the other plates are surrounded by both divergent as well as convergent plate margins. Consequently, while most other plates move largely in one direction, unique plate margin boundaries setting of the Antarctic plate makes it spin like a pinwheel.

Indian scientists have found that the velocity of motion of this plate is about four millimeter per year in the eastern part and about 20 millimeter per year in the western part of the Antarctic peninsula. They also observed that the plate was moving towards the South America plate.

The study was conducted by Vineet K.Gahalaut, Director,National Centre for Seismology (NCS) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, and SapnaGhavri, Joshi K.Catherine, A.Ambikapathy and Amit Kumar of Hyderabad-based CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI). They have published their findings in a recent issue of journal Proceedings of Indian National Science Academy.

In all, there are eight major tectonic plates, 10 minor and a large number of micro-plates across the surface of the earth. The Antarctica, which is the fifth largest of the seven continents of the world was part of a super continent called Gondwana more than 170 million years ago. Over time, Gondwana broke apart into several parts and Antarctica was formed around 35 million years ago. The area of Antarctica plate is 61 million square kilometer which is almost five times that of the Indian plate. (India Science Wire)

Twitter: @ndpsr

Indian scientists close to a new drug for blood cancer

Bhavya Khullar

Members of the research team : Sathees Raghvan and Supriya Vartak

New Delhi: A group Indian scientists has a found a new compound that effectively kills leukemic cancer cells.

Codenamed5g, the new drug can kill over 70 percent blood cancer cells in petri dish in 48 hours at an extremely low concentration. It did not affect healthy blood cells, which signifies that is toxic to cancer cells. “After treating with 5g cancer cells either entered cell death or revertedback to normal cell cycle”, say scientists who have tested this new compound.

The new compound has been found to be most effective in leukemic cells, while other cancer cell lines like colorectal and cervical showed less effect. It accumulates death-inducing reactive oxygen species in cancer cells leading to breaks in DNA, which ultimately causes cell death.

“We are working with Mysuru University to improve its efficacy. We believe that it has the potential to be developed as an anti-leukemic agent”, says Professor Sathees Raghavan, a member of the research team at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The research findings have been published in journal Scientific Reports.

The drug has been tested in laboratory animals. Daily doses of 5g for two weeks reduced the size of tumor in mice. It was non-toxic and moderately increased the life span of diseased mice. The tumor regression was incomplete, because of which,the scientists suggest that 5g needs combinational compounds to increase its efficiency. “We have identified a novel inhibitor of cell cycle and provide evidence at proof of principle level that 5g can be developed as a potent anti-cancer molecule for chemotherapy”, they say.

This study was done at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, University of Mysore inMysuru, and Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology in Bangalore. It was supported by IISc-Department of Biotechnology partnership. The research team included Mahesh Hegde, Supriya VVartak, Chandagirikoppal V Kavitha, Hanumappa Ananda, Doddakunche S Prasanna, Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Bibha Choudhary, Kanchugarakoppal, S Rangappa, and Sathees C Raghavan.

India Science Wire

Author’s twitter handle: BhavyaSc

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Rahul Gandhi stopped from entering riot-hit Mandsaur

Newsroom24x7 Network

Naya Gaon (Madhya Pradesh): Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was taken into preventive detention by the Police when he was on his way to riot-hit Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh today.

Gandhi was trying to enter Madhya Pradesh from Rajasthan along with many senior Congress leaders and supporters to meet the bereaved families of the farmers killed in Police firing at Pipalya Mandi in Mandsaur district on Tuesday.

Gandhi tried to dodge the police by riding pillion a motorcycle to enter Madhya Pradesh. When he was stopped by the police, the Congress leader, who was surrounded by SPG men, pushed his way through and after walking some distance left the road and started walking through the field with a big crowd of supporters but shortly thereafter, the police managed to have a better of him and he was taken into detention along with many of his supporters. They were then taken to a cement company’s guesthouse in a police vehicle.

The police did not allow him to enter Mandsaur and meet the bereaving families as prohibitive orders under Section 144 of CrPC had been imposed in that area.

Talking to reporters before he was detained, Gandhi said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can waive loans to the tune of Rs. 1,50, 000 crore taken by the country’s rich but can’t waive the loans for farmers or give them the right rates for their agricultural produce, bonus and compensation. He can only give them bullets, he added.

Gandhi further said Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan were responsible for the deaths of farmers in Mandsaur.

Senior leaders, including Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot and Madhya Pradesh legislator Jaiwardhan Singh also courted arrest with Mr. Gandhi.

In a related development, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh today told the media that there were five persons who had died in police firing during farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur.

The situation in Mandsaur since Tuesday’s violence has continued to remain tense. The Police was on high alert and two companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed at Pipalya Mandi. Similarly two RAF companies had been moved into the Garoth area while two more of the RAF companies were assigned the task of maintaining peace along the Neemuch Highway.

Abject failure of the government to address the farm crisis

Lalit Shastri

What is at the root of the farm crisis leading to massive protests and agitation by the farmers, particularly in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, has been summed up to a great extent by the Reserve Bank of India in its Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 -Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Reserve Bank of India.

The RBI report says:

Propelled by significantly higher arrivals in mandis relative to the seasonal pattern, prices of vegetables also fell markedly from July and bottomed out in January 2017, with fire sales during the demonetisation period accentuating the fall. The seasonal uptick that typically occurs in the pre-monsoon months has been muted so far. In the fuel group by contrast, inflation surged across the board. Prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene rose in sympathy with international prices even as the subsidy was set on a path of calibrated reduction. Fuel used by rural households rose for the third month in succession, narrowing the wedge between fuel inflation facing rural and urban households. [10th para]

The RBI takes into consideration higher arrival in mandis and fire sales during the demonetisation period as two major factors leading to falling prices. On a similar count, the prices of vegetables also fell sharply.

Madhya Pradesh Government’s advertisement to commemorate Government of India’s Krishi Karman Award to the State

In Madhya Pradesh, the Government has been in the overdrive mode over last few years to keep the agriculture production rising. In the process, the State BJP Government has continued to bask in the glory of the “Krishi Karman Award” it has been receiving year-after-year from Government of India for leading in agriculture growth. The glory of this award notwithstanding, what beats imagination is that the “sarkari babus” (bureaucrats) and advisers to the government and the chief minister in agriculture related matters failed to appreciate a simple economic principle that agricultural output or productivity, recognised as total factor productivity (TFP), is supposed to be measured not in terms of weight but should be calculated by comparing an index of agricultural inputs to an index of outputs.

Unfortunately, the mandarins in the corridors of power in Madhya Pradesh have failed to do justice when it comes to projecting agricultural output figures and what has compounded the problem is that even the Government of India has not bothered to demand more pragmatic projections by the State Government.

It beats imagination when some officers, at times, keep previous year’s figures as a reference point and even resort to fabricating figures for the successive year’s performance. This exercise gets completed in a jiffy especially when bureaucrats receive instructions from the Chief Minister’s secretariat to provide figures with a special tagline that the figures are needed immediately as the Chief Minister has to fly to New Delhi for an important meeting.

Farmers’ strike got aggravated after 6 persons died in police firing in Madhya Pradesh

The Government has continued to pat its back for the Krishi Karman Award but ignored the plight of the farmers who are now finding themselves against the wall and have been forced to agitate to force the government to accept their demands.

Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a farmers’ agitation that has gone violent. What came as most shocking were unconfirmed reports stating that six persons were killed in police firing during the farmer’s agitation in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh on 6 June. After the authorities had kept asserting that the Police had not opened fire, came the state Home minister Bhupendra Singh’s admission that 5 farmers had died in police firing.

The State farmers are pressing for rural loan waiver and a hike in support prices to ensure they do not succumb to economic pressure due to rising input prices. Everyone knows that farmers, finding themselves trapped in debt, were even committing suicide.

What also needs serious attention is that with population growing in geometric proportion in the countryside, agricultural land is getting progressively fragmented. Consequently agricultural land holdings are becoming uneconomical and can barely sustain the family of a marginal or poor farmer.

There has been plenty of talk of skill development. But the goal on this front would remain a mirage until the education system, at least at the primary and higher secondary level, gets revamped with total political commitment to prepare hands that could be channelised into different streams under the skill development plan that has to be backed with infrastructure and put in place keeping in view the region-wise objective requirements.

Another big problem, also associated with population bursting at its seams, is that we have too many people trying to make a living out of agriculture and as a result we are confronted with disguised employment. It is a catch 22 situation because the politicians will neither talk of reducing population nor will they address the issue of skill development by addressing it on a war mode. To achieve any worthwhile result in this direction would require absolute transparency and a corruption-free administration.

Click here for Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Reserve Bank of India