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 Twenty Eighth Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following topics:
1. Politics
2. Society and Culture 
3. Science and Technology

(By Gunika Vij, Ashika Deb and Shitij Goyal)


Rajya Sabha Spends 28% Time Making Laws, 40% On Matters Of Public Concern
The Rajya Sabha spends 40 percent of its functional time on deliberating issues of public importance, 32 percent on ensuring accountability of the executive, and 28 percent in making laws, a survey has revealed. This example of time used by the Upper House is a result of the investigation attempted by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat for the 41-year time frame since 1978 for which required information is accessible. The first-of-its-sort investigation additionally uncovered that the Rajya Sabha worked for 340 hours out of each year. During the 1978-2018 period, the House timed 77 percent profitability and 23 percent loss of time, the review said. Read MoreThis pattern investigation was attempted after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu tried to know subtleties of time spent by the House on its three capacities – the administrative, oversight, and deliberative. The deliberative elements of Rajya Sabha incorporate taking up issues of open significance and worries under different instruments like a conversation on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, General Discussion on the Budgets, Short length conversations, Zero Hour and Special Mentions, Discussion on working of Ministries and so on. While the general conversation on the Budgets took a portion of 7.08 percent of the complete useful time of Rajya Sabha during 1978-2018, the portion of conversation on the Motion of Thanks came to 4.36 percent while 3.93 percent of the time was spent talking about the working of different Ministries. The Zero Hour and Special Mentions took around 10 percent of the hour of the House. In a sign of the wide pattern, Rajya Sabha burned through 27.57 percent of its practical time on making laws for the nation, which included 24.05 percent of the time spent on thought and going of the administration bills and 3.52 percent on Private Members’ Bills. Naidu has additionally wanted an examination of the pattern with that of Lok Sabha and other driving Parliaments of the world.

Need to give importance to economy, battle Covid-19: PM Modi to CMs
As India enters the final week of the lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday conveyed to chief ministers that the country will have to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against the novel coronavirus.  In a video meeting with the chief ministers, fourth such cooperation since March 22 when he previously addressed them on the pandemic, Modi additionally featured the significance for states to implement endorsed rules carefully in the coronavirus hotspots, the administration said in an announcement. Read MoreThe leader underlined that across the nation lockdown has “yielded positive outcomes as the nation has figured out how to spare a great many lives in the previous one and a half months”, it said. He said that the nation has seen two Lockdowns till now, both distinctive in specific angles, and now we need to think about the path ahead. He said that according to specialists, the effect of coronavirus will stay noticeable in the coming months. He likewise said that covers and face spreads will turn out to be a piece of lives of individuals shortly, adding everybody’s point must be to guarantee quick reaction under the current circumstances. He stressed the significance of the utilization of innovation however much as could reasonably be expected, and furthermore to use the time to grasp change measures.

In blow to Bernie Sanders, NY cancels Democratic presidential primary
New York won’t have a Democratic presidential essential political decision in 2020. The state’s Democratic political race officials, Douglas Kellner and Andrew Spano settled on Monday to evacuate up-and-comers who suspended their presidential crusades from the polling firm. With previous Vice President Joe Biden the main applicant staying in the race, the essential has been dropped. The presidential essential was planned for April 28, yet it was delayed until June 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read MoreThe state spending plan affirmed in April incorporated an arrangement that permits the Board of Elections to drop presidential competitors from the essential polling form on the off chance that they suspend their crusades. Biden’s rivals, including Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the race. Sanders likewise supported Biden in mid-April. Sanders and his supporters needed New York to keep the representative’s name on the polling form so he could have more impact in building up the Democratic Party’s foundation at the show this mid-year. However, the Democratic political decision officials didn’t see the essential as important now that Biden is a solitary Democrat in the race and the gathering’s hypothetical candidate. “Representative Sanders has declared that he’s suspending his crusade as well as reported an open underwriting of Joe Biden,” Kellner said. “That has successfully finished the genuine setting for the essential political decision.” Sanders’ supporters, including his New York delegates, would have liked to forestall the undoing of the essential. They sent letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state political decision magistrates asking them to hold the essential.  George Albro, co-seat of the New York Progressive Action Network, said on April 15 that expelling Sanders and other presidential up-and-comers from the voting form would be “undemocratic and un-American.” Our Revolution, a political activity board of trustees established by Sanders, shot the state’s choice to drop the essential. Larry Cohen, the seat of the gathering’s board, blamed New York for damaging Democratic National Committee rules. “Rather than attempting to make a gathering where everybody has a voice, this choice smothers the individuals who bolster the dynamic approaches advocated by Bernie Sanders,” Cohen said. “Also, it incites division in the Democratic Party when we have to bind together around our basic mission to vanquish Donald Trump.” Cohen included that they will challenge New York’s representatives before the DNC’s qualifications advisory group. The undoing of the presidential essential is the most recent change to the political schedule in New York. Five state authoritative extraordinary races got ready for April 28 were moved to June 23. On Friday, Cuomo dropped the extraordinary races.

Hillary Clinton endorses Joe Biden’s White House bid
Hillary Clinton supported previous Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential crusade Tuesday during a virtual town lobby, touting his capacity to accomplish something she fruitlessly attempted to do in 2016 – overcoming Donald Trump. The previous 2016 Democratic Party competitor, who won the well-known vote yet lost the Electoral College four years prior, offered her official support to take on the president’s 2020 re-appointment battle in November. Read MoreVermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who a month ago suspended his crusade and supported Biden’s gathering selection, did likewise for Clinton during their 2016 essential fight. On Tuesday, Clinton repeated how the effect of another Trump expression in the White House would be annihilating for the economy, ladies, and a scope of different issues as she supported Biden for president. She talked about how the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have “hit some a lot harder than others,” referring to that 80 percent of all medicinal services laborers in America are ladies and that one-in-three employments held by ladies the nation over have been delegated “basic.” “I am excited to be a piece of your battle — to embrace you as well as to help feature a great deal of the issues that are in question in this presidential political decision,” Clinton told Biden during a virtual town lobby occasion Tuesday early evening time featuring the “Effect of COVID-19 on ladies.” Clinton had offered an “indication” prior in the day about the support, which won’t come as much shock to individuals from either party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi embraced Biden this week, also.

Society and Culture

Mumbai’s pink fleet
While the entire Mumbai city is under lockdown, the city is greeted with pink feathery guests. Thousands of pink flamingos can be spotted along the Thane creek. The elegant birds can be seen enjoying themselves in the creek, however it is extremely sad that humans will not be to witness these magnificent creatures as they come visit the country during the lockdown. Read MoreThere are estimated to be 1.25 lac flamingos and 90% of them are lesser flamingos. They breed in the Kutch region of Gujarat, and come here to feed on the blue green algae, tiny crustacean, molluscs and insects present in the water. Every year flamingos migrate to India around September with the number peaking around march. The flamingos will be on their way back home in May or June. It may be too late for us but the good news is that they will be back next year.

Work from home vs work from office
During the COVID-19 period we have witnessed some major changes in the way we work. Major companies have now permitted employees to work from their homes in the wake of the recent crisis. Employees on the other hand are feeling much more comfortable working in the comforts of their respective homes and this has supposedly increased employee productivity. Read MoreBut there is also the point that the increased power cuts, consistent system failures and network issues coming in the way of continued work concentration. Going to office each day allows for a change of environment and people, which make employees less lethargic. Similar is the case with schools kids, children are not concentrating on the studies bit but are constantly distracted by the environment of the home and not having someone around to keep an eye on them. However for the teachers on the other hand it might prove beneficial with less pressure and being less tiring.

 Transgender’s COVID campaign
Chennai’s transgender women prepare street art to spread awareness about the COVID-19 campaign. The women have made a 25 x 25 painting on the road infront of the Pallikaranai police station to spread awareness about coronavirus. he painting was of the structure of the novel Coronavirus, with spikes protruding from its surface. Read MoreThe phrase ‘Stay isolated, stay aware, stay at home’ was painted in Tamil in bold letters above it. It is amazing how the community is spreading awareness about the crisis in such stressing times.

Indian railways and COVID-19
The Indian railways in their bid to contribute to managing the crisis have converted 5000 coaches of the trains as of 10 April into isolation wards. By the end of March, the Railway Board had issued a set of guidelines in consultation with the Armed Forces Medical Services, the medical departments of zonal railways and Ayushman Bharat.  These isolation coaches have one toilet and one bathing room each, the middle berths have been removed, and windows fitted with mosquito nets. Read MoreThey have oxygen cylinders and fixtures for medical equipment. They have special COVID-19 features like taps with long handles and dustbins with foot pedals. The next major initiative was to put to use IR’s extensive health facilities, consisting of 586 health units, 45 sub-divisional hospitals, 56 divisional hospitals, eight production unit hospitals, and 16 zonal hospitals across the country. This vast network is now being readied for COVID-19 patients, with as many as 5,000 beds earmarked. In Mumbai, Jagjivan Ram Hospital, the zonal hospital of Western Railways, has become the only one to be converted into a COVID-19 hospital. 

Science and Technology

First unevenly sized black hole pair
On 12 April 2019, the LIGO-Virgo collaboration, which searches for the gravitational waves emitted in the cosmic encounters of black holes, made a detection of gravitational waves, rippling out across space-time from the epic collision of two black holes from 2.4 billion light-years away. The gravitational wave, GW 190412, was produced by a wildly uneven binary, the first definitively mismatched black hole pair. Read MoreOne of the black holes tipped the scales at around 29.7 solar masses, while the other was over three times smaller – just 8.4 solar masses. This is also the lowest-mass black hole binary detected to date. It means their merger produced a longer signal than any other black hole merger – a wealth of data to probe. While the masses themselves are not surprising, what is new is the ratios of the masses which will let astronomers test their predictions for gravitational wave signals in a new way. These frequencies allowed the team to perform yet another test of general relativity, too.

Rising carbon dioxide causes more than climate change
Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations will cause urban and indoor levels of the gas to increase, and that may significantly reduce our basic decision-making ability and complex strategic thinking – when we breathe air with high CO2 levels, the CO2 levels in our blood rise, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches our brains. Read MoreStudies show that this can increase sleepiness and anxiety, and impair cognitive function. By the end of the century, people could be exposed to indoor CO2 levels up to 1400 parts per million — more than three times today’s outdoor levels. Research has found that at 1400 ppm, CO2 concentrations may cut our basic decision-making ability by 25% , and complex strategic thinking by around 50%.

Antimalarials widely used against COVID-19 heighten risk of cardiac arrest
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can cause a type of irregular heart rhythm that sometimes leads to cardiac arrest. These block channels on heart muscle cells that control the flow of ions, which governs the heart’s electrical recharging between beats. Azithromycin, often combined with these, can block ion channels and tinker with the heart’s electrical pattern too. The side effects are well documented, whereas no large, randomized trial has proved their effectiveness against the disease. Read MoreA clinical trial in Brazil that gave chloroquine and azithromycin to 81 COVID-19 patients was halted after investigators found more deaths in the group getting the higher of two doses. Researchers found that a person’s risk of heart failure in the month after starting hydroxychloroquine was comparable to the risk from starting another common arthritis drug, sulfasalazine. But in the month after adding azithromycin to hydroxychloroquine, the risk more than doubled. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients tend to be older, and some already taking other drugs. Because pre-existing heart conditions seem to increase the severity of COVID-19, many patients may already be at risk of arrhythmia and the virus itself attacks many organs which can increase arrhythmia risk as a patient deteriorates.

Rare DNA mutations could shorten lifespan
A person’s genes don’t set a specific natural life span—diet and many other factors play large roles, too—but studies have shown that DNA variants can influence the aging process. These DNA variants, present in our cells since birth, most likely inherited from our parents, can reduce life span by as much as 6 months and different combinations can dictate how long people live before developing age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Read MoreThese rare mutations are found in less than 1 in 10,000 people. The findings are potentially controversial, as they minimize the perceived contribution to aging of environmental “somatic” mutations acquired throughout life. Somatic mutations live in a larger universe of age-related changes influenced by lifestyle and changes to hormone and gene expression also come with age. The new research only looked at the 1% of the genome that actively builds the proteins that direct our cells – the rest is largely a black box, although growing evidence shows it can affect gene expression.

Hands-free door openers to contain coronavirus
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many architects, designers, and students are turning to 3D-printing to rapidly produce much needed equipment. Belgian manufacturing company Materialise has developed hands-free door opener that makes you use your wrist (ideally covered by a sleeve) instead of your bare hands to touch door handles- a hotspot for germs. Read MoreThis add-on door opener doesn’t require drilling holes or replacing your door’s existing handle. According to Materialise, you only have to fasten the two 3D-printed pieces together with screws over your existing door handle. The company also created different designs to fit over different types of door handles. In Finland clean energy company Fortum has produced a hands-free door handle out of recycled plastic. The handle, the Fortum Vipu, is being trialed by Finnish retailer S-group. The designs have been made available online and for people without access to a 3D printer, Materialise is also selling a set of two hands-free door openers for 40 Euros ($43.20).

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