Essential Facts (Prelims): 20 March, 2019


Category: Defence & Security

  • The sea trials of India’s first and most prestigious missile tracking ocean surveillance ship built at the Ministry of Defence-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited have received an encouraging response.
  • The ship, being built under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Adviser, is being referred to as yard number VC 11184.


Category: Environment

  • An ambitious resolution piloted by India to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, was watered down at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that concluded in Nairobi.
  • Only a small proportion of the plastics produced globally are recycled, with most of it damaging the environment and aquatic bio-diversity.
  • A Central Pollution Control Board estimate in 2015 says that Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily and about 70% of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste.
  • Seventeen States have plastic bans, on paper.
  • Experts have rued the inadequacy of collection and recycling systems to address the burgeoning plastic waste problem.
  • Along with plastic, India also piloted a resolution on curbing nitrogen pollution.
  • The global nitrogen-use efficiency is low, resulting in pollution by reactive nitrogen which threatens human health, ecosystem services, contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion.


Category: International

  • Houthi rebels warned that they could launch attacks against  Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who lead a military coalition against them.
  • Houthi rebels belong to Yemen.

Tea Industry

Category: Economy

  • The north Indian tea industry wants output regulation, as it is facing the challenge of oversupply, which is dampening prices.
  • While tea production in India logged a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% between 2012 and 2017, consumption increased by a mere 1.7% in the period.
  • Assam accounts for half of India’s tea output.


Category: Science & Technology

  • Chitosan, a kind of polysaccharide obtained from a chitin shell such as the shrimp’s, is a natural biopolymer.
  • It is water-soluble.
  • It has been chemically modified by researchers to selectively remove either an oil or water phase from an oil-water mixture.

Solar Tsunami

Category: Science & Technology

  • It is believed that the “solar dynamo” — a naturally occurring generator which produces electric and magnetic fields in the sun — is linked to the production of sunspots.
  • What kick-starts the 11-year sunspot cycle is not known.
  • Now, a group of solar physicists suggests that a “solar tsunami” is at work that triggers the new sunspot cycle, after the old one ends.
  • The extreme temperature and pressure conditions that prevail some 20,000 km below the sun’s surface cause its material to form a plasma consisting primarily of hydrogen and helium in a highly ionised state. The plasma is confined with huge magnetic fields inside the sun.
  • These magnetic fields behave like rubber bands on a polished sphere. They tend to slip towards the poles. Holding these fields in their place requires that there is extra mass (plasma mass) pushing at the bands from higher latitudes. Thus, a magnetic dam is formed which is storing a big mass of plasma.
  • At the end of a solar cycle, this magnetic dam can break, releasing huge amounts of plasma cascading like a tsunami towards the poles. These tsunami waves travel at high speeds of about 1,000 km per hour carrying excess plasma to the mid-latitudes. There they give rise to magnetic flux eruptions. These are seen as the bright patches that signal the start of the next cycle of sunspots.


Category: Environment

  • The ocean’s uptake of anthropogenic CO2 during 1994-2007 showed clear regional deviations from the usual.
  • The ocean absorbs nearly 30% of human emissions. This casts a doubt, whether we can depend on this effect for the future.

West Nile Virus

Category: Science

The West Nile Virus is a disease which spreads from birds to humans through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.


Category: International

  • The Indian Navy had launched a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation in coordination with local officials to evacuate about 5,000 people stranded at Buzi near Port Beira in Mozambique.
  • The African nation has been devastated by tropical cyclone Idai.

Abel Prize

Category: International

  • The Abel Prize in mathematics was  awarded to Karen Uhlenbeck of the U.S. for her work on partial differential equations.
  • She is the first woman to win the award.
  • The prize is named after the 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.