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March 7 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



The recent remarks made by Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi regarding Ayya Vaikundar, a 19th-century social reformer, have sparked controversy. Ravi’s portrayal of Vaikundar as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu during an event celebrating the reformer’s birth anniversary has led to debates on historical accuracy and the appropriation of religious and social narratives.

Ayya Vaikundar’s Social Reforms:

  • Born in 1809, Ayya Vaikundar is highly revered in southern Tamil Nadu as a social reformer and founder of the Ayyavazhi sect.
  • His teachings focused on promoting equality, fraternity, and eradicating caste-based discrimination, challenging established religious and social hierarchies.
  • Vaikundar’s initiatives included organizing community eateries, digging common wells, and introducing inclusive religious practices, all aimed at fostering social harmony and uplifting marginalized communities.

Governor’s Remarks and Reactions:

  • Governor R N Ravi asserted that Ayya Vaikundar was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, safeguarding Sanatan Dharma and opposing British evangelization, sparking controversy.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Vaikundar, but Ravi’s remarks faced criticism.
  • Bala Prajapathi Adigalar, chief administrator of the Ayyavazhi sect, denounced Ravi’s statements, emphasizing Vaikundar’s fight against caste-based discrimination rather than religious preservation.

Scholarly Responses:

  • Historians highlighted the historical context of social reform movements led by figures like Vaikundar, Narayana Guru, and Ayyankali, emphasizing their significance in challenging upper-caste dominance and societal restrictions.
  • Vaikundar’s approach aligned with conventional religious routes, contrasting with Ayyankali’s more militant stance, showcasing diverse strategies within the struggle for social justice.



Crisil Ratings, a renowned financial analysis agency, predicts a slowdown in India’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth from 7.6% in the current fiscal year to 6.8% in fiscal year 2025 (FY25).

This projection is influenced by factors like higher interest rates and a lower fiscal impulse, which are expected to impact domestic demand negatively, as per Crisil’s recent report.

Growth Projection for FY25:

  • Despite the anticipated deceleration, Crisil foresees India’s economy expanding, albeit at a slower pace, reaching close to the $7 trillion mark by FY25.
  • The rise in per capita income is expected to elevate India to the upper middle-income category, positioning it as the third-largest global economy by FY25.

Factors Influencing Growth Deceleration:

  • Crisil attributes the projected slowdown to the normalization of the net tax impact observed in the previous fiscal year (FY24).
  • Challenges are expected from uneven growth in key trade partners, potentially limiting a robust export recovery.
  • However, Crisil emphasizes that India will remain the fastest-growing large economy despite these challenges.

Comparison with RBI Projections:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) projects a slightly higher real GDP growth rate of 7% for FY25, indicating a variance in forecasts between the central bank and Crisil Ratings.
  • Recent data from the National Statistical Office (NSO) suggests an anticipated GDP growth rate of 7.6% for the ongoing fiscal year, highlighting the dynamic nature of economic projections.

Impact of Monetary Policy Measures:

  • Crisil underscores the impact of rate hikes implemented by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI between May 2022 and February 2023.
  • A cumulative increase in the repo rate by 250 basis points during this period is expected to put downward pressure on demand in the upcoming fiscal year, reflecting the lingering effects of monetary tightening.


Crisil Ratings’ analysis sheds light on India’s economic trajectory, signaling a potential deceleration in GDP growth for FY25 amid challenges such as higher interest rates and subdued fiscal impulses.

Despite these challenges, India is projected to maintain its position as the fastest-growing large economy, albeit at a slower pace.

The forecast underscores the importance of monitoring key economic indicators and policy measures to navigate evolving macroeconomic dynamics and sustain growth momentum.



Recent newspaper articles shed light on ‘magic injections’ containing Semaglutide, a drug for Type 2 diabetes that promotes weight loss.

Despite not being approved for sale in India, these injections are administered by doctors to affluent patients, raising ethical and safety concerns.

Global pharma companies issue warnings, but media coverage remains limited, and significant side effects go unreported.

Approval Process and Exceptions:

  • Drugs in India are approved after clinical trials by the local subsidiary or licensee of global brand owners.
  • Regulatory approval involves monitoring adverse events for two years.
  • Patients and hospitals can import unapproved drugs for personal use or special cases with regulatory approval.

Lack of Clinical Trials in India:

  • Unapproved weight loss drugs lack clinical trials in India, posing risks due to unknown reactions in the Indian population.
  • Potential interactions with commonly prescribed drugs in India, like those for diabetes and hypertension, are uncertain.
  • The absence of clinical data poses a significant, unmitigated risk.

Questions for Doctors:

  • Doctors face ethical dilemmas in prescribing unapproved drugs.
  • Concerns arise about incentives for doctors prescribing these drugs and the extent of their knowledge about full effects and adverse events.
  • High likelihood of clients using illegally imported drugs due to lack of regulatory approval.

Imported Drugs Scandal:

  • The scandal involving spurious drugs like Adcetris highlights delayed alerts by regulators.
  • Doubts about doctors’ due diligence in ensuring drug authenticity.
  • Semaglutide case suggests potential complicity in a scam, raising questions about regulatory efficacy.

Questions for Regulators:

  • Government and drug regulators must address import control of unapproved drugs.
  • Potential for arrests and legal consequences as a deterrent to doctors involved in administering these drugs.

Public Indifference:

  • Public indifference noted, portraying the issue as a problem for the affluent.
  • Government’s priorities questioned, especially considering previous incidents like deaths from spurious cough syrup.


The situation prompts reflection on the government’s responsibility and public apathy towards illegal and potentially harmful drugs.

Stringent measures to control the import and administration of unapproved drugs are necessary. Ethical dilemmas faced by doctors and potential risks to patients highlight the urgency for regulatory intervention and public awareness.



The Ministry of Coal in India is actively promoting coal production while emphasizing a shift towards cleaner energy alternatives. The recently launched Coal Gasification Mission is a significant step in this direction, aiming to gasify 100 million tonnes of coal by 2030.

Importance of Coal in India:

  • Coal constitutes nearly 70% of India’s total electricity generation and is a crucial input in industries like steel, sponge iron, cement, and paper.
  • Recognizing environmental concerns, the ministry is committed to adopting clean coal technologies to ensure a resilient and sustainable energy ecosystem.

Coal Gasification Mission:

  • Aims to gasify 100 million tonnes of coal by 2030 through surface coal/lignite gasification projects.
  • Strategic bilateral agreements and MoUs have been established for collaborative efforts, including partnerships between BHEL & CIL and IOCL, GAIL & CIL.
  • A financial assistance scheme with ₹8500 crores allocation supports government PSUs and the private sector in Coal/Lignite Gasification Projects.
  • Joint venture agreements, such as the one between CIL and BHEL, signify significant progress in the adoption of gasification technology.

Benefits and Objectives:

  • The adoption of gasification technology aims to reduce import reliance, contribute to Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, and generate employment opportunities.
  • The government actively engages in clean coal initiatives such as CBM extraction, Coal to Hydrogen, CCS, and coal beneficiation for enhanced environmental sustainability.
  • Research and development investments prioritize improving coal utilization efficiency and developing innovative technologies for long-term competitiveness and sustainability.

Coal Gasification Technology:

  • Definition: The process that converts coal into a gas mixture containing carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and other compounds, known as synthesis gas or syngas.
  • Chemical Process: Involves reacting coal with oxygen, steam, and/or air under high temperatures and pressures to break down complex hydrocarbons into simpler gaseous components.
  • Syngas Composition: Typically consists of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and trace impurities.
  • Applications: Syngas can be used as a versatile feedstock for chemicals, fuels, and electricity. It can be converted into liquid fuels through Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.
  • Environmental Benefits: Gasification allows for the capture and storage of pollutants, reducing environmental impact compared to traditional coal combustion. It enables more efficient carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
  • IGCC Technology: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle integrates coal gasification with a combined cycle power generation system, enhancing overall efficiency and reducing emissions.

Challenges and Future Outlook:

  • Challenges include high capital costs and the need for advanced gas cleaning technologies, requiring careful byproduct management.
  • Ongoing research aims to improve gasification efficiency, reduce costs, and address environmental concerns, contributing to the continued development and deployment of coal gasification technology.



Scientists at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences in Bengaluru have achieved a breakthrough by developing a stable Neodymium Nickelate catalyst. This catalyst aims to enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production through urea-assisted water splitting, addressing challenges in large-scale implementation.

Key Findings:

  • Promising Catalyst Identified: The team identified a promising catalyst, Ni3+-rich Neodymium Nickelate (NdNiO3), known for its stability and efficiency in urea-assisted water splitting for hydrogen generation.
  • Energy Reduction: Urea electro-oxidation reaction (UOR) with the developed catalyst reduces the energy demand for electrochemical hydrogen production by approximately 30% compared to the oxygen evolution reaction.
  • Direct Mechanism: Neodymium Nickelate demonstrates a direct mechanism in UOR, minimizing catalyst degeneration and reconstruction. This is in contrast to indirect mechanisms observed in Ni2+-rich catalysts.
  • Superior Properties: The catalyst exhibits superior reaction kinetics, enhanced stability during prolonged electrolysis, and remarkable tolerance to COx poisons, overcoming a significant challenge in UOR catalysts.

Validation and Future Directions:

  • Computational Validation: Computational calculations validate the experimental findings, ensuring the reliability of the Neodymium Nickelate catalyst.
  • Future Research Focus: Published in ACS Catalysis, the research suggests that future studies should concentrate on enhancing NiOOH species on Ni3+-rich substrates. This approach aims to improve overall performance and enable sustainable hydrogen production with a low mass loading of active Ni.



The Cycas circinalis, commonly known as Eenthu Pana in Kerala, is facing the threat of extinction in the northern part of the state due to a rapidly spreading and unidentified plant disease.

Overview of Cycas Circinalis:

  • Popular Names: Known by various names like Mund isalu (Kannada), madana kama raja (Tamil), and Malabari supari (Marathi) in different regions.
  • Cycad Family: Belongs to the cycads family (Cycadaceae), considered one of the most endangered plant groups globally, with origins dating back 300 million years.

Distinctive Features:

  • Physical Characteristics: An evergreen, palm-like tree that can reach a height of 25 ft, often found in dense, seasonally dry scrubby woodlands in hilly areas.
  • Adaptation: Facultative deciduous during extremely dry periods.
  • Unique Harvesting Challenge: Similar to areca nut, Eenthu Pana requires complete dryness for preparation, posing difficulties as it’s typically harvested during the rainy season.
  • Slow Growth: Typically bears fruits after 40 to 50 years.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Restricted Range: Endemic to the Western Ghats, found in states like Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and the southern part of Maharashtra.
  • Indian Cycad Diversity: Out of the nine recognized cycad species in India, six are endemic to the country.

Significance and Applications:

  • Nutraceutical Plant: Holds significance for indigenous communities in the Western Ghats, serving as a nutraceutical plant with cultural and dietary importance.



Recently, researchers uncovered a new flowering plant species in Arunachal Pradesh, named Begonia Narahari.

About Begonia Narahari:

  • Genus and Family: Belongs to the Begonia genus and the Begoniaceae family.
  • Distinctive Name: The species is formally named Begonia naraharii, paying homage to Prof. Garikapati Narahari Sastry, the former director of CSIR-Northeast Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST).
  • This recognition is due to his substantial contributions, particularly in establishing the Germplasm Conservation Centre for the Bioresources of Northeast.

Unique Characteristics:

  • Blue Iridescence: One of its distinctive features is the vivid blue iridescence observed under direct light, aiding in its identification when compared to related species.

Geographical Information:

  • Known Location: Currently, Begonia naraharii is identified only in the Demwe locality, situated in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Conservation Status:

  • Data Deficient Classification: Due to limited information on its global population, the species is provisionally categorized as Data Deficient (DD) according to the IUCN species assessment guidelines.



A rare celestial event is set to take place on April 8, 2024, where a total solar eclipse will make the Sun disappear.

About Total Solar Eclipse:

  • Definition: A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, completely blocking the Sun’s disk and casting a large shadow on the Earth’s surface.
  • Path of Totality: People in locations within the path of totality, where the Moon’s shadow entirely covers the Sun, will witness a total solar eclipse.

NASA’s Description:

  • Darkening of the Sky: According to NASA, during the eclipse, the sky will darken, resembling the onset of dawn or dusk.
  • Corona Visibility: Weather permitting, observers in the path of totality can witness the Sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere typically obscured by the Sun’s bright face.

Solar Corona and Chromosphere:

  • Visible Corona: The Sun’s corona, an outer layer extending millions of kilometers into space, becomes exclusively visible during a solar eclipse.
  • Chromosphere Phenomenon: The totality of this eclipse will allow viewers to see the chromosphere, appearing as a thin circle of pink around the Moon, along with the corona.

Rare Observations during Totality:

  • Star Visibility: Viewers may see stars during the period of totality when the surroundings go completely dark.
  • Temperature Drop: The event will be marked by a noticeable dip in air temperatures.


March 7
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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