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Indian Express Explained-05/07/2020

1) India gets its first plasma bank

Central Theme-Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated India’s first plasma bank at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) to ease access to plasma that is being used as a trial to treat Covid-19 patients.

What is a plasma bank? Why was it set up?

  • A plasma bank functions like a blood bank, and has been created specifically for those who are suffering from Covid-19, and have been advised the therapy by doctors.
  • In plasma therapy, the antibody rich plasma from a recovered patient is extracted and administered to a patient.
  • Plasma was not easily available and the patient’s attendants were running from pillar to post in search of plasma from a recovered patient. People were also scared of stepping into a Covid hospital, so we decided to set up in a non-Covid facility

So, who can donate plasma?

  • Those who had the disease, but have recovered at least 14 days before the donation can be considered — although doctors prefer a time of three weeks between recovery and donation.
  • People between the ages of 18 and 60, and weighing not less than 50 kg are eligible.
  • Women who have given birth are not eligible, as the antibodies they produce during pregnancy (after being exposed to the blood of the foetus) can interfere with lung function.
  • People with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer are also excluded.

What test are carried out before donating plasma?

Laboratory tests are carried out to assess various conditions — serum protein and CBC, TTI testing for hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, HIV, malaria, and syphilis — and for blood grouping and antibody screening. Serum Covid-19 specific IgG antibody concentration higher than 80 is preferred.

How many people would be benefitted by one person’s donation?

Each plasma donation would be used to treat 2 patients. The bank collects 500 ml of plasma, depending on weight.

How does plasma donation differ from blood donation?

In plasma donation, as opposed to blood donation, only plasma is extracted and the other components of blood are returned to the body.

How often can a recovered patient donate plasma?

500 ml of plasma can be donated every two weeks, while blood can be donated once in three months. “This is safer with very little stress on the body. Plasma can be stored for a year, as frozen plasma will still have antibodies. The antibody level doesn’t decrease in a person’s body.

2) Explained: Who was Hachalu Hundessa, whose death triggered protests in Ethiopia?

Central Theme- Over 80 people have been killed in clashes with security forces in Ethiopia following the murder of popular singer Hachalu Hundessa.

Hachalu Hundessa and the Oromo community

  • Hundessa, 34, was a musician and activist. Born into the Oromo community, he sang about their struggle for freedom. The Oromo community is the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, making up more than 50 per cent of the country’s population.
  • Hundessa gave voice to the anti-government protests that emerged in 2014 and culminated in the resignation of prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018.
  • In 2018, Desalegn was succeeded by Abiy Ahmed to become the first prime minister from the Oromo community. Ahmed won the Nobel peace prize in 2019 for his efforts towards resolving the border dispute with neighbouring Eritrea.
  • Significantly, just before his death, on June 22, Hundessa gave an interview to the Oromia Media Network (OMN), which had sparked outrage on social media. During the interview, he criticised the government and spoke out against the marginalisation faced by his community, the Oromos.

3) Explained: What is winter diesel and how will it help Indian Army in Ladakh?

Central Theme- India’s armed forces may soon be using winter diesel for operations in high altitude areas such as Ladakh, where winter temperatures plummet to extremely low levels.

What is winter diesel?

  • Winter diesel is a specialised fuel that was introduced by IOCL last year specifically for high altitude regions and low-temperature regions such as Ladakh, where ordinary diesel can become unusable.
  • Winter diesel which contains additives to maintain lower viscosity can be used in temperatures as low as -30°C and that besides a low pour point.
  • It had higher cetane rating — an indicator is the combustion speed of diesel and compression needed for ignition— and lower sulphur content, which would lead to lower deposits in engines and better performance.

What are the armed forces using in this area currently?

IOCL and other oil marketing companies, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, provide the armed forces with Diesel High sulphur Pour Point (DHPP -W) to armed forces for operations in these areas which also has a pour point of -30°C.

Has demand for fuel suitable for such temperatures increased given border tensions with China in Ladakh?

While experts expect that demand may rise given the border tensions, the demand for DHPP-W from the armed forces has not increased significantly since the clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley in Ladakh on June 15.

4) Explained Culture: How faith in a forest goddess helps the Sundarbans survive

Central Theme- how a centuries-old folk theatre form and the worship of a forest goddess has helped the islanders understand the power of nature and the limits to human need in this precarious tide country

Who is Bon Bibi?

Shrines to Bon Bibi and her twin brother Shah Jongoli dot the landscape of the Sundarbans. The followers of Bon Bibi are fishermen, crab-collectors and honey-gatherers — a large chunk of the population of the islands. They believe that only Bon Bibi protects them when they enter the forest.

Theatre of worship

  • One of the important ways in which people express their belief in Bon Bibi is through Bon Bibi’r Palagaan, a dramatic storytelling form that is enacted throughout the island.
  • Traditionally, the performances are held near Bon Bibi temples or villages bordering the forests in the light of solar lamps or bulbs powered by generators.

Rules of the wild

The Bon Bibi faith is a check on human greed and acquisition

  • An unwritten code prohibits islanders from carrying guns or weapons into the forest.
  • They must enter the forest only if they absolutely need to earn a livelihood and not take more — honey or crabs, fish or prawns — than they need.
  • They must not desecrate the forest in any way, by smoking, defecating or washing utensils.
  • According to local lore, poachers, pirates and those who disobey Bon Bibi are attacked by tigers as punishment.
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