1. EC announces new rules for postal ballot

The issue in news

In order to make the procedure to opt for postal ballot more convenient for those above 80 years of age and people with disabilities, the Election Commission has come out with a set of new instructions. The instructions are applicable to all elections and by-elections.

  • The form required to opt for the postal ballot would be delivered at the residence of all those aged above 80 and people with disabilities by the booth level officer under his polling station.
  • It would be up to these two categories of voters to opt for postal ballot.
  • The returning officer would deploy polling teams, which will deliver and collect the postal ballot on pre-informed dates and then deposit it with the returning officer.


  1. Paytm to open ‘mini app’ store for Indian developers

The issue in news

Paytm has announced the launch of its mini app store.

What is mini app?

  • The mini apps are custom-built mobile websites that give the users, app-like experience without having to download them.
  • They are little downloadable apps that run inside another larger app.


Main points

  • The mini app store aims to support Indian developers in taking their products to the masses.
  • More than 300 app-based service providers have joined its new programme that comes with a developer dashboard for analytics and payments collection along with various marketing tools to engage with the users.


  1. India PV EDGE 2020

The issue in news

The NITI Aayog, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and Invest India, are organizing a global symposium virtually, ‘India PV EDGE 2020’ in October 2020 to catalyze cutting-edge PV (photovoltaic) manufacturing in India.


  • Solar deployment has been the flagship green growth story of the last decade and this would be instrumental to stimulate growth and build a climate-resilient world.
  • India has the third-largest solar capacity in the world and has set an ambitious target of 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, comprising 300 GW of solar capacity.
  • The major factor behind the rise of solar deployment is giga-scale solar manufacturing and the continuous adoption of innovations to reduce prices.
  • Hence, solar PV manufacturing is one of the strategic sectors announced by the Indian Government as part of the post-COVID Atmanirbhar Bharat recovery initiative.


  1. Xoo infection

The issue in news

Moving towards a vaccine to reduce yield loss due to diseases in rice.

What is Xoo?

  • Xoo is a bacterium that causes a serious bacterial leaf blight disease in rice plant.
  • Xanthomonas oryzaepv. oryzae, or commonly known as Xoo infection, causes huge yield losses to rice cultivation throughout the world.
  • Appropriate methods for inoculation of Xoo and disease scoring are necessary to investigate the nature of the disease and the mechanism of plant resistance to the pathogen.
  • As the most widely grown crop in the worldwide, rice yield plays an important role in food security. Uncovering mechanisms of plant-pathogen interaction of rice and Xoo will help develop rice plants that are more resistant to disease caused by Xoo.


New study:

  • A recipient of the DST-Inspire Faculty Fellowship, along with her research team, has uncovered the mechanism by which Xoo interacts with rice plant and causes disease.
  • The team is developing new disease control strategies that they can use as vaccines that activate the rice immune system and provide resistance to rice plants from subsequent infections by pathogens.
  • The research group has zeroed in on a few molecules derived from the Xoo bacterium and from infected rice cell walls which they hope to develop into vaccines.
  • The group is working on a cellulase protein secreted by Xoo.
  • This cellulase protein has the features of a typical vaccine as it is a potent elicitor of rice immune responses.
  • Pre-treatment of rice plants with this protein provides resistance to rice against subsequent Xoo infection.


  1. New species of pipeworts

The issue in news

Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute, Pune discover two new species of pipeworts from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra & Karnataka.

Main points

  • Two new species of a plant group known for their varied medicinal properties have been discovered in the Western Ghats – one of the thirty-five hot-spots of biological diversity in the world.
  • The plant group known as pipeworts (Eriocaulon), which completes its life cycle within a small period during the monsoons, exhibits great diversity in the Western Ghats, having around 111 species in India.
  • Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas, and around 70% of them are endemic to the country.
  • One species, Eriocaulon cinereum, is well known for its anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.
  • quinquangulare is used against liver diseases.
  • madayiparense is an anti-bacterial from Kerala.

 The new species discovered:

  • The one reported from the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra was named Eriocaulon parvicephalum (due to its minute inflorescence size).
  • The other reported from Kumta, Karnataka was named Eriocaulon karaavalense (named after Karaavali = Coastal Karnataka region).

The medicinal properties of the newly discovered species are yet to be explored.

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