Essential Facts (Prelims):28 Feb, 2019


Mrinal

Category: Science & technology 

  • Mrinal is Indian space programme’s first composite solid propellant for launch vehicles.
  • It was developed 50 years back.

Forest dwellers

Category: Polity & governance

The Centre filed an application urging the Supreme Court to modify its order directing the eviction of thousands of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims for forest land rights have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.


Drug price control

Category: Social sector

  • The government brought 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, capping trade margin at 30%, which would reduce their retail prices by up to 85%.
  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control through trade margin rationalisation.
  • Currently, 57 anti-cancer drugs are under price control as scheduled formulations.
  • Now, 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer medicines have been selected for price regulation by restricting trade margin on the selling price (MRP) up to 30%, the notification said.
  • NPPA currently fixes prices of drugs placed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under Schedule-I of the DPCO.
  • So far, around 1,000 drugs have been brought under price control under the initiative.
  • Non-scheduled drugs are allowed an increase of up to 10% in prices every year, which is monitored by the NPPA.

SATAT

Category: Environment

  • The Centre is in talks with the United Nation Environment Fund for availing soft loans to fund compressed biogas projects in India. It is also looking to Japan for support to the investment needs of the gas-based economy in India.
  • The govt issued Letter of Intent (LOI) for setting up compressed biogas (CBG) projects.
  • The LOIs were issued to entrepreneurs under the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme.
  • The SATAT scheme was launched with the agenda of utilising more than 62 million tonnes of waste generated every year in India.
  • Cutting down import dependence, supplementing job creation in the country and reducing vehicular emissions and pollution from burning of agricultural/organic waste were the main objectives of the scheme.

Yuva Sahakar

Category: Social sector

National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)’s new scheme ‘Yuva Sahakar’ was launched in November 2018 for giving wings to young entrepreneurs in cooperatives.


SHREYAS

Category: Social sector

  • The Minister for Human Resources Development launched the Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS) for providing industry apprenticeship opportunities to the general graduates exiting in April 2019 through the National Apprenticeship Promotional Scheme (NAPS).
  • The program aims to enhance the employability of Indian youth by providing ‘on the job work exposure’ and earning of stipend.

Bio-gas

Category: Energy

  • Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc.
  • After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 90%.
  • Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. CBG can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel.
  • Given the abundance of biomass in the country, CBG has the potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial uses in the coming years.

 Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

Category: Social sector

  • NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Adobe signed an agreement to collectively drive the charter of developing creative skills and spreading digital literacy across all Atal Tinkering Labs in India.
  • Adobe shall be adopting 100 schools under Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) initiative.
  • AIM is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
  • As a part of AIM, ATLs are being established in more than 5,000 schools in India where students of class 6th to class 12th acquire problem solving and innovation skills.
  • The Atal Tinkering Lab is based on the philosophy to identify and nurture innovation in young students across the country.
  • The Atal Innovation Mission proactively seeks to promote scientific temper and the spirit of entrepreneurship in a New India of tomorrow.

 

Editorial Simplified: Before Eviction | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II (Polity & Governance)


Theme of the article

States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights.


Why has this issue cropped up?

The Supreme Court’s order to evict, over the next five months, occupants of forest lands who failed to make a successful claim for tenure under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, has once again highlighted the dilemma of reconciling inalienable tribal rights with biodiversity conservation.


Non-establishment of claims

  • The Forest Rights Act protected possession and conferred heritability of land to over 23 lakh out of 44 lakh claimants who are either specified Scheduled Tribes, or people who have lived in forests traditionally, relying on forest produce for at least 75 years prior to the cut-off year of 2005.
  • But over 20 lakh other applicants who could not establish their claim through gram sabhas and appellate authorities have now been ordered to be evicted by July 12.

Eviction unjustified

When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was passed, it was with the wholly welfarist goal of making these communities partners in conservation. They would be stewards of forests that have shrunk and become fragmented over the decades


Way forward

  • The answer in many areas may lie in resettlement.
  • In some well-documented cases, such as in the Western Ghats, alternative land and cash compensation are needed to convince tribals to move out of core areas. s
  • States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights
  • State governments need to pursue such programmes in a humane and vigorous fashion.
  • They must also come forward to declare critical wildlife habitats under the Act. This will aid in formulating resettlement schemes for tribal residents.

Essential Facts (Prelims):27 Feb, 2019


PCA

Category: Economy

  • Three more banks — Allahabad Bank and Corporation Bank, from the public sector, and Dhanlaxmi Bank from the private sector — are now out of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) prompt and corrective action (PCA) framework.
  • Earlier, such restrictions were taken off Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Bank of Maharashtra. Six more under PCA
  • There are another six banks that are still under PCA framework.
  • These two banks had received capital infusion from the government. This has shored up their capital funds and also increased their loan loss provision to ensure that the PCA parameters were complied with.
  • PCA framework gets triggered when a bank breaches one of the three risk thresholds. Crossing 6% net NPA is one of them.

Fiscal deficit

Category: Economy

  • Fiscal deficit widened in January to ₹7.7 lakh crore, or 121.5% of the Budget Estimates for the full year.
  • The fiscal deficit figure works out to 5.5% of GDP for the year.
  • Finance Minister had in the Budget 2019-20 said that the fiscal deficit would come to 3.4% of GDP in 2018-19, marginally higher than the targeted 3.3%.

Gynandromorph

Category : General Science

  • Gynandromorph is a butterfly with a colour and pattern that are distinctly male on one wing and female on the other.
  • Scientists say these instances of split-sex animals and insects could offer clues to why some human diseases strike one sex more than the other.
  • Mammals have X and Y chromosomes, birds and insects have Z and W, and some reptiles can change their sex depending on temperature, or a combination of temperature and sex chromosomes.
  • How gynandromorphs are born at all still remains a mystery. For birds, the most likely explanation is that a female makes an unusual double-nucleus egg cell, one with a Z chromosome and one with a W chromosome, and each is fertilized by a Z sperm, making some cells ZZ and others ZW in the same individual. The same process is very unlikely to happen in mammals.

WTO

Category: International

  • The US decision to block selection of judges at the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body has impacted India’s attempt to get a ruling on its case challenging a verdict against safeguard duties imposed by the country on imports of iron and steel.
  • The US blocked the appointment of appeals judges at the WTO last year which has now resulted in shrinking of the number of judges from seven to just three.
  • US has said that it will allow judges to be appointed only after reforms are brought about in the WTO decision-making process.
  • India’s case which has got stuck at the WTO is related to imposition of provisional safeguard duty — a levy that a member can apply over and above the existing import tariffs to protect domestic industry against import surges — of 20 per cent on import of certain categories of steel.

Energy efficiency ratings

 Category: Environment

  • Residential buildings can now save up 40 per cent of their energy consumption and be rated for the same by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency.
  • Till now, the rating was only for commercial establishments.

Credit ratings

Category: Economy 

  • Rating agency Crisil has said that global and national AAA ratings cannot be compared as they are done on different scales and are relative to a country’s rating.
  • It said that credit ratings are relative assessments of credit risk and the relative benchmarking can be national, global or regional.

National Electronic Policy 2019

Category: Economy

  • The last electronic policy was unveiled 2012.
  • The new policy targets
    • $400 billion turnover by 2025 from domestic manufacturing,
    • setting up cluster for the entire value chain and
    • employing over one crore people directly or otherwise to achieve a growth rate of 32 per cent.

 

[Prelims] GS OPEN MOCK SERIES – 2019


ALL INDIA GS OPEN MOCK PRELIMS – 2019


FIRST

MARCH 24 ,2019

SECOND

APRIL 14 ,2019

THIRD

APRIL 28 ,2019

FOURTH

MAY 12 ,2019

FIFTH

MAY 19 ,2019

MODE – ONLINE

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TEST DURATION – 2 Hours

SYLLABUS – ALL COMPREHENSIVE TESTS (Tests will Include Questions on Current Affairs from last one Year)

Fee – Rs. 150 Per Mock

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Editorial Simplified: Coalition of the Concerned | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II( International Relations)


Theme of the article

Multi-pronged diplomacy is vital to compel Pakistan to end its support for terrorist groups.


Why has this issue cropped up?

In the wake of the Pulwama attack on February 14, the government has iterated once again its plan for the “diplomatic isolation” of Pakistan.


What should India do?

  • Recently, Iran and Afghanistan have faced terror attacks on their security forces along the border with Pakistan. Thus, India should try to repackage its idea of “isolating Pakistan” into one of building a more inclusive ‘coalition against terrorism emanating from Pakistan’. In today’s interconnected world, it is vainglorious to expect countries to join a unilateral plan for isolation.
  • Second, India must focus on the case against Masood Azhar. His banning and prosecution should be pursued.
  • Third, India must prepare for a pushback from Pakistan, most likely in terms of internationalising the Kashmir issue, and linking it to progress in Afghanistan.
  • Next, the government must prioritise action over words. It is better for New Delhi to use India’s considerable diplomatic leverage to ensure action that would shut down the JeM and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) permanently and bring their leaders to justice.
  • India must also press the U.S. to place travel sanctions on specific entities in the Pakistani military establishment unless visible action is taken against the JeM, whose leaders hold public rallies and issue videos threatening India.
  • A similar line of talks must be pursued by New Delhi with Riyadh — which once was a donor to Pakistan’s Islamist institutions, but now is wary of funding extremism — to withhold any funds that may trickle down to charitable wings run by the JeM and LeT.
  • With China, it is surprising that the issue of a simple ban at the UN Security Council has not been made India’s chief demand from Beijing. It is hoped that this will be rectified soon when the next proposal to ban Azhar is brought to the UNSC. More than the ban, however, India must ask China for action against any entities dealing with the JeM in Pakistan, given that China is the partner with the most influence in Pakistan today, and one with the most to lose from terror groups in Punjab operating along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
  • Finally, India must look to its own actions on the diplomatic front with Pakistan. Calling off a formal dialogue process for more than a decade has clearly yielded no desired outcome. South Asia as a region, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) process too have suffered the consequences of this disengagement, without yielding any desired outcomes.

Conclusion

A measured, steady and non-political level of dialogue is a more effective way of impressing India’s determination to root out terrorism than the present on-again, off-again policy.


 

Essential Facts (Prelims):26 Feb, 2019


Chagos islands

Category: International

  • Britain has an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos archipelago and complete the process of decolonisation of Mauritius, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has said.
  • Chagos islands are home to the U.S. military base of Diego Garcia, under lease from the United Kingdom since the 1960s.
  • Under an agreement struck in 1965, in return for compensation to Mauritius and fishing rights, Britain has maintained control of the islands.

Repo rate

Category : Economy

  • Most commercial banks in India are likely to select RBI’s repo rate as the external benchmark to decide their lending rates, from April 1.
  • The repo rate is the key policy rate of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The banking regulator had asked the banks to move to an external benchmark for loan pricing from April 1, a move expected to improve monetary transmission as lenders had, in the past, been found reluctant to reduce lending rate.
  • At present, the repo rate is 6.25%.
  • The marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) is currently the benchmark for all loan rates.
  • Banks typically add a spread to the MCLR while pricing loans for homes and automobiles.
  • For the new benchmark, the central bank has mandated that the spread over the benchmark rate — to be decided by banks at the inception of the loan — should remain unchanged through the life of the loan, unless the borrower’s credit assessment undergoes a substantial change and as agreed upon in the loan contract.

PPIs

Category: Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the deadline to complete know your customer process by the Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) issuers by another six months.
  • Earlier, PPI issuers were required to complete the KYC process by February 28, 2019.

Marine clouds

Category: Geography/Environment

  • Marine clouds that protect us from hothouse Earth conditions by reflecting sunlight back into space could break up and vanish if CO2 in the atmosphere triples.
  • So-called stratocumulus clouds cover about 20% of subtropical oceans, mostly near western seaboards such as the coasts of California, Mexico and Peru.
  • When they disappear, Earth warms dramatically, by about eight degrees Celsius — in addition to the global warming that comes from enhanced greenhouse concentrations alone.
  • A temperature increase of that magnitude would melt polar ice and lift sea levels tens of metres.

Twitter

Category: Polity & Governance

  • As the country gets ready for the general elections and as the misuse of social media to influence the voting pattern weighs heavy, the government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure fair elections.
  • The possibility of Twitter being directed to follow the Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines for 48 hours — the so-called ‘silent period’ — in areas where polls are to be conducted was raised .
  • Under Section 126(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, no person shall propagate any election matter to the public by holding, or by arranging the holding of, any musical concert or any theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement with a view to attracting the members of the public thereto, in any polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll for any election in that polling area.

Warming waters

Category: Environment

  • Warming waters heat up fishing costs along Malabar Coast . Often, fishermen along Southwestern coastfind nothing.
  • Climate change is making an already difficult search for fish harder.
  • Fish populations are always shifting, sometimes drastically, and overfishing has emptied waters once teeming with life.
  • But as climate change has warmed coastal waters by more than half a degree Celsius over the past three or four decades, fish populations have sought cooler waters — often away from where fishermen are used to finding them.
  • Oil sardines used to swim in India almost exclusively around the Malabar Coast — but climate change has pushed them east and north-east, into waters around Mumbai and Kolkata.
  • Fish all over are migrating toward the globe’s poles, often seeking the cooler water they are used to as the ocean warms, the scientists say.
  • Fishermen are also struggling to catch mackerel, another long-time staple. More mackerel are now found at depths where the water is cooler.

GRACE

Category: Science & technology

  • In 14 years (2001-02 to 2014-15), net irrigation in India increased just 20 per cent, with an alarming trend of massive groundwater extraction.
  • While 41 per cent of the net irrigated area in India got water from tube wells in 2001-02, tubewell irrigation increased to 46 per cent in 2014-15.
  • The withdrawal rate expressed as a percentage of the net ground water available per year exceeds 100 per cent in some states.
  • The work based on data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, reveals significant rates of non-renewable depletion of groundwater levels over large areas.
  • Water tables are falling in most parts of India with fluoride, arsenic, mercury, even uranium found in groundwater.

Nipah

Category: Science & technology

  • Japanese scientists are to speed up work on a vaccine against a brain-damaging disease caused by the Nipah virus.
  • Nipah virus was first identified in 1999 during an outbreak of illness affecting pig farmers and others in close contact with pigs in Malaysia and Singapore.
  • Nipah is transmitted to humans via direct contact with infected bats, infected pigs or other infected people.

Gold standard

Category: Environment

  • Evidence for man-made global warming has reached a “gold standard” level of certainty, adding pressure for cuts in greenhouse gases to limit rising temperatures.
  • Confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a “five-sigma” level, a statistical gauge meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance that the signal would appear if there was no warming.
  • Such a “gold standard” was applied in 2012, for instance, to confirm the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe.
  • Separately in 2013, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that it is “extremely likely”, or at least 95 percent probable, that human activities have been the main cause of climate change since the 1950s.

Gandhi Peace prize

Category: Miscellaneous

  • President of India will present the Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018.
  • Gandhi Peace Prize is meant for Social, Economic and Political transformation through Non-violence.
  • It was instituted in the year 1995.
  • The Award comprises an amount of Rs. One Crore.
  • The Award may be divided between two persons / institutions who are considered by the Jury to be equally deserving of recognition in a given year.
  • Work by a person since deceased cannot be the subject of an Award. If, however, his death occurred subsequent to a proposal having been submitted to the Jury, then a Posthumous Award may be made.