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May 15 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



On May 10, a significant solar storm occurred, triggered by sunspot AR 3664, which unleashed three coronal mass ejections towards Earth. 

Solar storms and the stunning aurorae they create are a source of wonder for people worldwide. Yet, these natural marvels also pose significant risks to Earth’s technology and space environment. Understanding these events is crucial for appreciating their beauty while managing their potential dangers. 

Auroras: Colourful light shows caused by the Sun 

  • Solar eruptions launch charged particles towards Earth. 
  • Earth’s magnetic field traps some of these particles. 
  • Trapped particles collide with atoms in Earth’s upper atmosphere. 
  • Collisions excite atoms, causing them to release energy as light – the Aurora! 
  • Different colours result from collisions with different atoms (oxygen, nitrogen). 

Solar Storms: From Auroras to Disruptions 

  • Solar storms: Eruptions on the Sun’s surface that send charged particles hurtling towards Earth. 
  • Frequency: Major geomagnetic storms (caused by solar storms) occur every few decades, with the most recent strong one in 2003. 
  • Beautiful auroras: When solar storm particles hit Earth’s atmosphere, they collide with atoms and molecules, creating the dazzling auroras (northern lights and southern lights). 
  • Disruptive effects: Strong solar storms can disrupt: 
  • Power grids (causing blackouts), Satellites (communication and GPS issues),Astronaut safety (in extreme cases) 
  • Space weather throughout the Solar System 
  • Importance of prediction: Space weather forecasting helps us anticipate these disruptions and take precautions, like: 
  • Power grid operators taking steps to minimize outages. 


Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are massive eruptions of material from the Sun’s corona, its outermost layer 

  • Giant burps of the Sun: Imagine the Sun erupting with a huge bubble of hot, charged gas. That’s essentially a CME. 
  • Made of plasma: This hot gas isn’t like the air we breathe. It’s a special state of matter called plasma, where atoms are stripped of electrons and become electrically charged. 
  • Magnetic hitchhikers: CMEs carry strong magnetic fields along with the plasma. These magnetic fields are like invisible wires twisted together. 
  • Superfast travelers: CMEs can travel outwards from the Sun at millions of kilometers per hour, impacting planets and spacecraft in their path. 
  • CMEs are a significant part of solar activity and can have various effects depending on their direction and intensity. 

Solar Cycle and Sunspots 

  • Solar storms often coincide with the peak of the solar cycle, an 11-year cycle during which the Sun’s magnetic field flips. 
  • During the peak, sunspots, regions of intense magnetic activity on the Sun’s surface, are prevalent, contributing to increased solar activity. 

Future Prospects 

  • While the May 10 storm caused minor disruptions, historical events like the 1859 super-geomagnetic storm underscore the potential for severe impacts. 
  • Scientists strive to enhance the prediction and understanding of solar storms, with initiatives like India’s Aditya-L1 spacecraft monitoring the Sun for early detection. 
  • Instruments aboard spacecraft, such as the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), provide essential data for studying solar activity and its effects on Earth and space. 

In summary, solar storms represent captivating natural phenomena with both captivating and potentially hazardous consequences, spurring ongoing research in solar physics and space weather forecasting to mitigate their impacts. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. The spectacular aurora borealis (northern lights) is a result of which of the following phenomena?
  1. Reflection of sunlight by ice crystals in the Earth’s upper atmosphere 
  1. Collision of charged particles from the Sun with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere. 
  1. Electrical discharge due to friction between Earth’s atmosphere and cosmic rays 
  1. Bioluminescence of plankton in the Arctic Ocean 



  • Auroras are caused by solar eruptions that launch charged particles towards Earth. 
  • Earth’s magnetic field traps some of these particles, which then collide with atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere. 
  • These collisions excite the atoms, causing them to release energy as light, creating the colourful auroras. 



Exploring Extra-Pulmonary Tuberculosis (EPTB), a form of tuberculosis affecting organs beyond the lungs, presents unique challenges in detection and management.  

While pulmonary TB garners significant attention, EPTB’s elusive nature and diverse manifestations often result in underdiagnosis and inadequate treatment.  

Extra-Pulmonary Tuberculosis (EPTB):  

This type of tuberculosis occurs when the bacteria infects organs other than the lungs. 

Common Sites 

  • EPTB can affect almost any part of the body, with some of the most frequent sites being: Lymph nodes (especially in the chest),Pleural space (lining around the lungs),Bones and joints (especially the spine and hips),Urinary tract (kidneys and bladder),Meninges (membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord) 

Symptoms: EPTB symptoms vary greatly depending on the affected organ. For example, lymph node TB may cause swelling, while bone TB may cause pain and difficulty moving. Miliary TB can cause fever, weight loss, and fatigue. 

Diagnosis: Similar to pulmonary TB, diagnosis may involve chest X-rays, sputum tests, biopsies, and imaging tests like CT scans. 

Immune privilege allows TB infections in these organs to persist even after lung infection resolves. 

Burden and Detection Challenges 

  • Over 10 million new TB cases are reported yearly, with India contributing significantly. 
  • EPTB’s burden is hard to estimate due to its stain-negative nature and diverse presentations, often mimicking other conditions. 

Present TB Burden: 

  • Despite ongoing efforts, India faces a significant TB challenge: 
  • India has the highest TB burden in the world, with an estimated 24.2 lakh (2.42 million) cases notified in 2022. 
  • The case notification rate is around 172 cases per lakh population. 
  • Challenges include under-diagnosis, drug resistance, and social determinants of TB like poverty and malnutrition. 

Focus on Pulmonary TB 

  • Efforts primarily concentrate on pulmonary TB due to its higher prevalence and role in disease spread. 
  • However, EPTB affects a substantial number and can lead to severe complications like vision loss. 

Challenges in Tackling EPTB 

  • Lack of awareness among physicians about EPTB’s diverse manifestations. 
  • Difficulty in accurate diagnosis and treatment due to limited diagnostic criteria and interdisciplinary collaboration. 


Type: Infectious disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) 

Target: Primarily attacks the lungs but can spread to other organs. 

Transmission: Spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or spits. 


Latent TB: Person is infected but not sick and cannot spread the disease. 

Active TB: Person develops symptoms and can spread the disease to others. 

Symptoms (Active TB): Coughing for 3 weeks or more, Chest pain, Weight loss 

Common antibiotics used for TB treatment include: Isoniazid (INH),Rifampin (RIF),Pyrazinamide (PZA) 


  • These are types of TB where the bacteria have developed resistance to at least one and multiple first-line TB drugs, respectively. 
  • Treating these strains is more complex and requires longer treatment durations (often 18 months or more) compared to regular TB. 
  • The specific medications used depend on the specific drug resistance pattern of the bacteria involved. 

MDR-TB Medications: 

  • Fluoroquinolones: These antibiotics are often used in MDR-TB regimens. Examples include Levofloxacin and Moxifloxacin. 
  • Second-line injectable drugs: These are powerful antibiotics that are typically reserved for drug-resistant cases. Examples include Kanamycin, Amikacin, and Capreomycin. 
  • Other antibiotics: Depending on the specific resistance pattern, other antibiotics like Cycloserine, Ethionamide, and Prothionamide might be used. 

XDR-TB Medications: 

  • Treatment for XDR-TB is even more challenging, with limited treatment options available. The medications used often include: 
  • Bedaquiline and Pretomanid: These are newer antibiotics specifically developed for treating MDR-TB and XDR-TB. 
  • Linezolid: Another powerful antibiotic used in some XDR-TB cases. 
  • Repurposed drugs: Some medications originally developed for other diseases may be used off-label in XDR-TB treatment, like clofazimine. 

Initiatives and Recommendations 

  • INDEX-TB guidelines were formulated, but comprehensive data and implementation remain lacking. 
  • Understanding mechanisms of EPTB spread and its interactions with organs is crucial. 
  • Advanced immunological tools and interdisciplinary efforts can aid in uncovering immune mechanisms and improving treatment protocols. 

In conclusion, EPTB poses significant challenges due to detection difficulties and lack of comprehensive protocols. Collaborative efforts and research are vital to address this overlooked aspect of TB and improve patient outcomes. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Consider the following statements with reference to Tuberculosis (TB), 
  1. Isoniazid (INH) is the only antibiotic used in the treatment of active TB. 
  1. BCG vaccine provides complete protection against pulmonary TB. 
  1. Extrapulmonary TB (EPTB) primarily affects the lungs. 
  1. Directly observed therapy (DOT) is recommended for patients with MDR-TB. 

Choose the correct option: 

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  1. 2 and 3 only 
  1. 3 and 4 only 
  1. 1, 3 and 4 only 



Isoniazid is a key antibiotic used in TB treatment, but it’s combined with others for effective treatment. 

BCG vaccine offers partial protection against severe forms of TB, not complete immunity. 

Extrapulmonary TB affects primarily lungs and other organs also. DOT ensures patients with MDR-TB adhere to their complex medication regimen. 



Public spending on healthcare in India has historically remained low, hovering around 1% of GDP. Recent claims suggest an increase, nearing 2%, under the current regime. However, attributing this solely to the Union government requires scrutiny. 

Healthcare Sector in India 

  • Includes hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance, and medical equipment. 
  • Public Healthcare Delivery System: Limited secondary and tertiary care institutions in key cities. Focuses on providing basic healthcare through Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in rural areas. 
  • Private Healthcare Delivery System: Dominates secondary, tertiary, and quaternary care. Concentrated in metros, tier-I, and tier-II cities. 
  • Medical Tourism in India: Ranked 10th in the Medical Tourism Index (MTI) for 2020-2021 among 46 global destinations. 

Persistent Low Spending 

  • Despite claims of an increase, India’s public health spending remains significantly below that of many other countries. 
  • Comparisons with nations like Bhutan and Sri Lanka reveal stark disparities, with India lagging behind considerably. 

Contribution of States vs. Centre 

  • While public health spending has risen, the bulk of this increase stems from the efforts of States rather than the Centre. 
  • The Union government has been allocating a lower share of resources to States, leading to concerns of centralization of health finances. 

Shifts in Spending Patterns 

  • The decline in resources transferred to States by the Union Health Ministry reflects a trend towards centralization, despite health being a state subject. 
  • The National Health Mission (NHM), a key intervention, has seen stagnant or declining expenditure in recent years, despite its significance. 

Emphasis on Government-Funded Health Insurance Schemes 

  • The Modi government’s focus on schemes like Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) is evident in spending patterns. 
  • While expenditure on such schemes has increased, a larger share of spending falls on the States rather than the Centre. 

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic 

  • The pandemic underscored the inadequacies of India’s healthcare system, highlighting the urgent need for increased public investment. 
  • While States have stepped up despite financial constraints, the Union government’s response has been limited. 

Major Challenges in Indian Healthcare: 

  • Lack of Infrastructure: Not enough well-equipped hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas. Difficulty attracting qualified doctors to rural areas due to living conditions and pay. 
  • Shortage of Trained Staff: Not enough doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare workers. Doctor-to-patient ratio is much lower than the WHO recommendation. 
  • Large and Diverse Population: Difficulty providing services to everyone due to sheer size and varied needs. Growing elderly population with chronic diseases increases healthcare burden. 
  • High Costs: Public hospitals often lack resources and are overcrowded. Many rely on expensive private healthcare, leading to high out-of-pocket spending. 

Initiatives in health sector 

  • National Digital Health Mission: Creates digital health infrastructure and IDs for citizens. 
  • Ayushman Bharat: Provides financial aid for hospitalization to over 100 million families. 
  • National Health Policy 2017: Focuses on preventive care and achieving high health standards. 
  • Health and Wellness Centres: Transform primary health centres to offer comprehensive care. 
  • Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana: Expands medical education and sets up new AIIMS institutions. 

In conclusion, while there has been some increase in public health spending in India, particularly at the state level, challenges persist regarding resource allocation and the overall adequacy of investment in healthcare. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Considering the following statements about healthcare in India:
  1. India has achieved the target doctor-patient ratio recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). 
  1. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) scheme provides financial assistance for primary healthcare. 
  1. National Health Policy 2017 emphasizes curative healthcare over preventive and promotive care. 
  1. National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) aims to create a digital health infrastructure for citizens. 

Which of the following statements are correct? 

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  1. 2 and 4 only 
  1. 3 and 4 only 
  1. 1, 3 and 4 only 



India struggles with a doctor-patient ratio much lower than the WHO recommendation. 

PMJAY focuses on secondary and tertiary healthcare hospitalization costs.  

National Health Policy 2017 promotes preventive and promotive care.  

NDHM aims to create a digital health infrastructure for citizens. 



The development of Chabahar port, a key project for India in Iran, faces potential roadblocks. The US, indicated its sanctions on Iran remain in place. This casts doubt on whether a previous US exemption for India’s involvement in Chabahar will apply.  

India and Iran signed a 10-year agreement to develop Chabahar port, but the US raised concerns. 

  • US Sanctions: US sanctions on Iran remain in place, and companies doing business with Iran risk penalties. 
  • India’s Investment: India plans to invest $120 million in equipment and provide a $250 million credit line for the port. 
  • US Carve-out for India: Unclear if a previous US exemption for India’s Chabahar activities will apply. 
  • The 2018 exemption allowed India to operate at the port for humanitarian aid and Afghan development reasons. 
  • India’s Response: Indian officials are studying the US statement to understand its impact. 


The US and Iran have had a strained relationship for decades, rooted in political and ideological differences. 

  • Nuclear Program Concerns: The US is particularly concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, fearing it could develop nuclear weapons. Iran maintains its program is for peaceful purposes. 
  • Sanctions Implemented: The US has imposed various sanctions on Iran over time, aiming to pressure them on their nuclear program and other issues. These sanctions can target: 

       Financial transactions 

              Trade of goods and services 

Specific Iranian entities and individuals 

Impact: US sanctions can significantly hinder Iran’s economy by limiting trade and investment opportunities. 

Current Situation: 

  • The US continues to enforce sanctions despite negotiations and temporary agreements in the past. 


Sanctions are essentially punishment measures imposed by a country (or group of countries) on another country (or individual/entity) to force a change in behavior.  

These punishments can target various aspects: 

  • Economic: Restrictions on trade, investments, and financial transactions. This can limit the sanctioned country’s ability to import and export goods, access funding, and participate in the global economy. 
  • Diplomatic: Reduced or severed diplomatic relations, limitations on travel and visas for officials or citizens. 
  • Military: Restrictions on arms sales, limitations on military cooperation. 
  • Goals of Sanctions: 
  • Change policies: Sanctions aim to pressure the targeted entity to alter its policies or actions. This could involve stopping a nuclear program, improving human rights, or resolving a border dispute. 
  • Deterrence: Sanctions can also act as a deterrent to discourage future unwanted behavior. 
  • Signal disapproval: Sanctions can be a way to express disapproval of a country’s actions on the international stage. 

The US-Iran Chabahar port deal and its impact on India-US relations is a complex issue with potential benefits and risks: 

Potential Benefits: 

  • Maintaining Cooperation: If the US grants India a renewed exemption for Chabahar, it could demonstrate continued cooperation between the two countries. This is especially important considering their strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific region. 
  • Mutual Interest: A well-functioning Chabahar port could benefit both the US and India. It provides a crucial trade route bypassing Pakistan and could be used for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. 

Potential Risks: 

  • Strained Relations: If the US denies India an exemption, it could strain relations. India views Chabahar as critical for regional connectivity and economic development. 
  • Mixed Messages: US inconsistency on sanctions can be confusing for India. Allowing other countries to trade with Iran while restricting India could be seen as unfair treatment. 

Overall, the impact on India-US relations depends on the US decision regarding the exemption and how India reacts to it. A diplomatic solution that addresses both countries’ concerns is crucial for maintaining a strong partnership. 



GPT-4o makes talking to computers feel more like talking to a person, making it easier to communicate with machines. 


  • Voice Recognition: Its voice mode can understand and recognize voices better, even if there are multiple people speaking. 
  • Reduced Latency: Unlike before, where different models worked together causing delays, GPT-4o integrates voice, text, and vision seamlessly, reducing waiting times. 
  • Vision Capabilities: You can upload pictures and documents, and the model can discuss them with you. 
  • Memory Feature: You can use a feature called Memory to search for information during conversations, making discussions more informed. 
  • Multi-language Support: GPT-4o works better and faster in 50 different languages. 
  • Emotion Recognition: It can understand your emotions and respond accordingly, even adapting its conversational style to match yours. 
  • Facial Emotion Recognition: By looking at your face, GPT-4o can also tell how you’re feeling in real-time. 



The state highways department in Tamil Nadu is currently executing a project titled “slope stabilization using soil nailing and hydroseeding method” in select regions around the major roads of the Nilgiris. 

Soil Nailing: 

  • Geotechnical engineering technique to strengthen soil. 
  • Involves inserting reinforcing steel tendons into soil. 
  • Methods include drilled and grouted, driven, drilling, jet grouted, and launched. 
  • Used for stabilizing slopes, supporting excavations, and repairing retaining walls. 


  • Process of applying a mixture of seeds, fertilizer, organic materials, and water onto soil. 
  • Facilitates growth of grass and plant-life. 
  • Helps hold topsoil together and prevent erosion. 
  • Often used in conjunction with soil nailing for slope stabilization projects. 
  • Commonly undertaken by state highways department in Tamil Nadu, particularly around Nilgiris’ major roads. 

These methods are crucial for maintaining road infrastructure and preventing soil erosion in hilly areas like the Nilgiris. 



Recently, a single judge bench of the Madras High Court made a significant ruling regarding pension benefits tied to the General Provident Fund (GPF) scheme. This ruling clarified that employees don’t automatically receive pension benefits solely based on their deductions made under the GPF scheme.  

General Provident Fund (GPF): 

  • A specialized form of the Public Provident Fund (PPF) exclusively available for government employees in India. 
  • Allows government employees to allocate a portion of their salaries into their GPF accounts. 
  • Upon retirement, employees receive the accumulated corpus from their GPF accounts, reflecting their contributions over their service tenure. 

Eligibility and Contribution: 

  • Temporary government servants with at least one year of continuous service, re-employed pensioners (excluding those eligible for the contributory provident fund), and permanent government servants are eligible to subscribe to GPF accounts. 
  • Contributions to the GPF scheme are mandatory, with a certain percentage deducted from the employee’s monthly salary. These contributions earn interest at a predetermined rate. 
  • Employees have the option to increase their GPF deductions according to their preferences. 

Withdrawal and Benefits: 

  • Employees can withdraw their savings from the GPF upon retirement, resignation, or for various reasons like marriage, education, and medical emergencies. 
  • Loans against GPF accounts are permitted under specific conditions. 
  • Upon the employee’s demise, the GPF sum is paid to their nominee. 

Administration and Advantages: 

  • Administered by the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions. 
  • Offers benefits such as tax savings, low-risk investments, and guaranteed returns for government employees. 



Silk cotton trees, also known as semal trees, are facing a decline in South Rajasthan, leading to adverse consequences for both forests and local communities.  


Locally known as semal tree, the silk cotton tree (Bombax ceiba L.) is a tall deciduous tree with a buttressed base and a trunk covered in large conical prickles. 

Found mainly in moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests, as well as in plains up to 1400 m in elevation. 

Cultural Importance: 

  • Members of the Garasia tribe in Rajasthan believe they are descended from semal trees, highlighting its cultural significance in the region. 


  • Found in various regions across India, including Andaman & Nicobar Island, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. 

Significance and Uses: 

  • Provides habitat and resources for wild animals, insects, and tribal communities. 
  • Known for its fire-resistant and cooling properties. 
  • Acts as a pioneer tree, generating rich biomass and reclaiming wastelands. 
  • Plays a role in carbon sequestration by shedding leaves before flowering. 
  • Considered a bio-indicator, with late flowering signaling environmental conditions. 
  • Attracts rock bees, protecting them from predators like sloth bears. 
  • Roots are consumed by tribal communities during monsoons. 
  • Offers opportunities for agroforestry and provides resources like food, fodder, and fuelwood. 
  • Used by tribes for crafting musical instruments and utensils. 


May 15
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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