The First Forum is an initiative which focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu with the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast changing world.
In the Sixteenth Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following:
1. Politics
2. Society and Culture 
3. Science and Technology

(By Ankita Punjani, Divyansh Gupta, Mehak Gupta)


Madhya Pradesh BJP MLAs move to Supreme Court seeking immediate floor test
Several BJP MLAs from Madhya Pradesh, led by ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking its direction to hold an immediate floor test in the assembly. They claimed in the court that Kamal Nath’s government had lost its majority as 22 Congress MLAs resigned from the House. Read MoreBJP MLAs contended that a CM’s refusal to test his strength on the floor of the House could be interpreted prima facie as a proof of his no longer enjoying the confidence of the House. The petition has termed the Speaker’s decision not to have an immediate floor test as violative of constitutional principles. It has accused the Speaker and the CM of “deliberately” and “wilfully” defying the governor’s direction to prove the government’s majority in the House. Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta are scheduled to hear the petition.

President nominates former CJI Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha
The President of India nominated former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 80 of the Constitution of India, and on the advice of the Prime Minister, the President of India can nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha. Ranjan Gogoi served as the 46th Chief Justice of India. Read MoreHis term as Chief Justice was from 3 October 2018 till 17 November 2019. Ranjan Gogoi, was the first person from the northeast to reach the top judicial position and credited for bringing the curtains down on the decades old politically and religiously sensitive Ayodhya land dispute.

Telangana assembly passes resolution against CAA, NRC and NPR
The Telangana legislative assembly on Monday passed a resolution opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR), and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Chief minister and leader of the ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) K. Chandrasekhar Rao also said that the act and two processes are methods being used to “tinker with the inclusive and non-religious nature of the citizenship”. Read MoreTelangana has joined non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states like West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and Bihar which have also passed resolutions against the NRC/NPR. In the Telangana assembly, the ruling TRS has 103 out of the 119 seats, while the main opposition Congress has just six, Telugu Desam Party two, BJP one and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen seven.

Chandra Shekhar Azad launches political outfit Azad Samaj Party
Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad launched his political outfit the Azad Samaj Party on Sunday — the birth anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram. Azad, who rose to prominence during clashes between Thakurs and Dalits in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur in May 2017, had filed nomination against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi during the 2019 general elections, but withdrew later. Read MoreThe advocate-turned-politician has been critical of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, “for not doing enough for the Dalits”. Mayawati had earlier termed Azad a “BJP agent” and cautioned her supporters not to ”fall prey to his designs”. The Bhim Army had earlier said that it would contest the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls along with Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party as part of a larger alliance — the Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha.

Political war triggered after civic poll postponed in Andhra Pradesh
In a political war over the state election commission postponing local body elections in Andhra Pradesh, YSRCP chief and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy complained to the Governor and termed the decision unilateral. The state election commissioner N Ramesh Kumar held a high-level meeting and announced that elections have been postponed for six weeks citing the coronavirus outbreak. Read MoreJagan Mohan Reddy alleged that opposition leader and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has conspired to postpone the civic polls due to fear of defeat and by spreading rumours. He also said that funds from the central government won’t be released if elections are delayed, hampering the development of the state.

New vaccines must not be monopolised, G7 tells Donald Trump
World leaders at a G7 video summit told Donald Trump that medical firms must share and coordinate research on coronavirus vaccines rather than provide products exclusively to one country. Read MoreThe US president has been accused by German political leaders of trying to buy exclusive US access to vaccines being prepared by a German firm, CureVac laboratory. The German firm and the US have denied the move, but the episode, first reported in the German press at the weekend, has symbolised fears that Trump does not have an instinct to cooperate with other world leaders to fight the virus

Society and Culture

Corona spikes up divorce rate in China
As the coronavirus wanes in China, large numbers of couples across the country are filing for divorce after spending weeks at home together during self-isolation. As per the Global Times, the city of Xi’an has seen a record-high number of divorce requests since the local marriage registries reopened on March 1. Read MoreIn some districts, the numbers were so high that local offices say it will take until the end of March to process the backlog. An officer at registration office said that as a result of the epidemic, many couples have been bound with each other at home for over a month, which evoked the underlying conflicts.

Canada presents bill to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy
The Canadian federal government introduced new legislation on Monday to criminalize LGBTQ conversion therapy, that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation to what is deemed “normal” by heterosexual standards, as Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government moves to fulfill one of its 2019 election promises. Read MoreThe proposed amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code include offenses such as causing a person to undergo conversion therapy, advertising and profiting from conversion therapy and removing a minor from Canada. If the measure is supported by MPs Canada would be join Brazil, Ecuador, Malta and Taiwan in banning the widely discredited practice.

Supermarkets and banks offering ‘elderly hours’ to protect older shoppers
Governor of California Gavin Newsom called for 5.3 million senior citizens and others at risk to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The announcement raises many questions for senior citizens. For those who live alone, they will have to grapple with getting shopping done. Read MoreSo, some supermarkets and banks have decided to make special arrangements for elderly and vulnerable customers to gain exclusive early access to food and services, immediately after stores have been deep-cleaned and to avoid panic shopping, as part of the effort to keep the UK functioning smoothly during the coronavirus crisis

Temples put faith in social distancing, stop ceremonies
Siddhivinayak and Mumbadevi temples in Mumbai and Mehandipur Balaji in Rajasthan announced on Monday that they were shutting down for devotees as a precaution against the outbreak of coronavirus while other famous temples across the country like Kamakhya in Guwahati announced stringent curbs to tackle the spread of the deadly disease. Read MoreIn Ujjain, the Mahakal Temple Committee announced indefinite suspension of Bhasmarti darshan at the famed Shiva temple, for which 1,800 passes are issued every day. While entry to the sanctum sanctorum for Bhasmarti has been banned for everyone except for the priests, devotees are allowed to enter the temple compound only after maintaining a distance of 1 meter from each other. The holy city of Puri was totally out of bounds on Monday for tourists who wanted to enter the district from the toll plaza at Pipili on Bhubaneswar-Puri national highway. With the administration clamping Section 144 of CrPC, at least 5,000 tourists in 600 vehicles bearing registration numbers of other states were turned away from the toll plaza, which is 30 km from the temple town.

Health Ministry launches new toll-free number, email ID for queries on COVID-19
As India sees a surge in novel coronavirus cases, the Union Health Ministry on Monday activated a toll-free 24×7 national helpline number, 1075, to address queries related to the infection. The previous helpline number, 011-239 78046, will also remain operational, the ministry assured. Besides the toll-free numbers, the ministry also issued a new helpline email ID [email protected]​. Read MoreUnion Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had on Sunday reviewed the status of actions taken by states and union territories for prevention and containment of the disease and directed officials to scale up the capacity of the round-the-clock control room helpline in view of increased volume of queries.

Prisoners of Central Prison volunteer to make face masks amid Coronavirus Scare
While retailers are making a killing by selling face masks at inflated rates, about 25 inmates of the Central Prison of Nellore have come forward to play the good Samaritan and help the city’s anxious residents. Read MoreThese prisoners have made about five samples of masks and are ready to manufacture them in bulk. The samples were sent to the district administration for approval, and forwarded to a team of doctors for final clearance. The doctors have suggested some changes.

Science and Technology

Space Agencies Scramble to Protect Astronauts from Coronavirus
As COVID-19 pandemic keeps governments on their toes, NASA and other space agencies have added stringent measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus among astronauts so that they do not carry the deadly virus into space. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin are likely to be launched for the International Space Station (ISS) on April 9 and the space agencies are in process for the “health stabilization” for the next expedition crew. Read MoreThe astronauts have started their quarantine earlier than usual due to the current pandemic. Other procedures to ensure that astronauts don’t bring an illness to the ISS is also under evaluation at the US space agency. The procedure is crucial as microgravity can affect the immune system, exposing the astronauts to the virus.

Google Spotted Preparing Emergency Calling Details for Nest Aware
The Google Home app has been getting new updates to better support Nest devices and now the app is getting ready to assist emergency calling details on smart speakers. Reports suggest there is a setting buried within the Google Home app, which is not yet live for public. And, this new setting enables Google Nest owners to enter their address which is used when calling emergency services. Read MoreIn case a speaker or display picks up a smoke alarm sound and sends an alert on user phone, now with Nest Aware the Home app will allow the user to call the 911 emergency services closest to home, even if the user is far away. Historically, Google has blocked unexpected emergency contacting as a result of Assistant speakers, but that will modify with the new Nest Aware plans.

Superhydrophobic coating to save metallic surfaces discovered
The team from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, and Ohio State University used polyurethane and silicon dioxide nanoparticles to create the coating which can be easily spin-coated on steel. Read MoreThe surface of the coating was found to have superhydrophobic property. The coating was also chemically stable in both acidic (pH 5) and alkaline (pH 8) conditions for more than six weeks. It also exhibited thermal stability up to 230 degrees Celsius.

TIFR study reveals role of glucose in regulating liver functions, ageing
An enzyme that goes by the name SIRT1 is known to be associated with regulation of metabolic activities and also ageing and hence has become a target of therapeutics. A study by researchers from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (TIFR) shows that glucose controls the function of SIRT1 directly. Read MoreA shortage or absence of this control can lead to a diabetic-like state, while excess feeding and sustained low levels of SIRT1 can lead to obesity and enhanced ageing. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study paves the way to regulating this modification, which might be beneficial in tackling lifestyle disorders and ageing related diseases.

European Mars rover delayed until 2022
Multiple technical issues will delay the launch of the ExoMars mission for 2 years until 2022, the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos. ExoMars includes a Russian-built landing station and an ESA rover that would drill 2 meters below Mars’s surface to look for signs of past or present life. Read MoreNow, just 4 months from its originally planned launch, it has been postponed because of problems with its parachute system, solar panels, and electrical wiring. Although the issues could be resolved in the next few months, but there was not enough time to test the mission’s software system on the final flight-ready spacecraft.

Smallest bird-like dinosaur found trapped in amber in Myanmar
A tiny head, 14 millimetres long, including the beak, belongs to one of the smallest dinosaurs ever found. Entombed in amber for nearly 100 million years, the creature belonged to the group of dinosaurs that gave rise to modern birds. The animal was probably about the size of the bee hummingbird, the smallest living bird. Read MoreThe fossil, discovered in Myanmar, has been christened Oculudentavis khaungraae or “eye-tooth bird.” It has large eye sockets on the sides of its head like modern lizards, and its eyes have narrow openings that limit incoming light which hints that the animal was active during the day. Its jaws are full of sharp teeth indicates it to be a predictor.

Exoplanet discovered where it rains iron
Researchers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have observed an ultra-hot giant exoplanet where they suspect it rains iron. On its day side, the temperature rises above 2400° Celsius as it receives thousands of times more radiation from its parent star than the Earth does from the Sun. Molecules separate into atoms, and metals like iron evaporate into the atmosphere. Read MoreDifference in day and night sides temperature results in vigorous winds that bring the iron vapour from the ultra-hot day side to the cooler night side, where temperatures decrease to around 1500° Celsius. The astronomers identified for the first time chemical variations on an ultra-hot gas giant planet. They detected a strong signature of iron vapors at the evening border but don’t see in the morning.

One of the largest Ice Age structures made of mammoth bones found
Excavations at Russia’s Kostenki 11 site have uncovered one of the oldest and largest Ice Age structures made of mammoth bones. Hunter-gatherers assembled bones from at least 60 mammoths into an imposing ring around 25,000 years ago, say archaeologist Alexander Pryor. Read MoreBuilding this structure, which measures about 12.5 meters across, required a huge investment. Bones may have come from hunted mammoths or from carcasses of animals that died of natural causes. Sieving of soil samples identified charred wood from fires set inside the ring, however it’s unclear how its makers used the structure

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