Essential Facts (Prelims): 31 Jan – 1 & 2 Feb, 2019

Cow Urine

Category: Environment

  • Cow urine may also contribute to global warming.
  • The urine from the ruminant is a source of nitrous oxide emissions (N2O), a gas that is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
  • That cattle and livestock are a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas, and therefore a contributor to global warming, is well-known. However, the role of cow urine is less understood.
  • Degraded grasslands emitted more N2O than healthy pastures because the vegetation in the latter took up some of the reactive nitrogen compounds and only the leftovers were emitted.

Chrome IAS - Cow


Category: Indian Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to allow three public sector banks — Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra and Oriental Bank of Commerce — to exit the PCA framework following capital infusion by the government and a decline in net non-performing asset ratio.
  • The RBI conducted a review following a demand made by government to lift the restrictions in order to boost credit growth.
  • The PCA framework is triggered when a bank breaches one of the three risk thresholds, and crossing 6% net NPAs is one of them.

World Gold Council

Category: International Institutions

  • The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry.
  • It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.
  • It is headquartered in London.

Thwaites Glacier

Category: Environment

  • NASA has discovered a gigantic cavity, almost 300 metres tall, growing at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, indicating rapid decay of the ice sheet and acceleration in global sea levels due to climate change.
  • The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast sea levels will rise in response to warming.
  • The cavity was revealed by ice-penetrating radar in NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne campaign beginning in 2010 that studies connections between the polar regions and the global climate.

Indus River Dolphin

Category: Environment

  • The Punjab government has declared Indus River Dolphin as the State aquatic animal.
  • Indus River Dolphin is found only in the Beas.

Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan

Category: Social Sector

  • The Centre has allocated ₹500 crore for a new pension scheme for workers in the unorganised sector, even while reducing its allocation for an existing pension scheme by ₹775 crore.
  • The new scheme, to be called the Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan, will benefit unorganised sector workers who have a monthly income up to ₹15,000.
  • It will provide them a monthly pension of ₹3,000 from the age of 60.
  • Workers will contribute an amount ranging from ₹55 to ₹100 each month, depending on their age, at the time of joining the scheme, while the government will deposit a matching contribution.

PM Kisan

Category: Agriculture

  • Small and marginal farmers having less than 2 hectares of land will get an assured income support of ₹6,000 a year to help them avoid indebtedness.
  • Farmers would be paid be the dole in three equal installments of ₹2,000 each.
  • In the current fiscal year, the government has allocated a sum of ₹20,000 crore for the PM Kisan scheme.
  • Though it is modelled on the Raithu Bandhu launched by Telangana last year and Kalia scheme recently announced by Odisha, the scheme seemed to be smaller in scope.
  • While Telangana’s farmers are paid ₹5,000 per acre twice a year, the Odisha government has promised to pay a lumpsum of ₹10,000 (in two installments for the kharif and rabi seasons).

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog

Category: Agriculture, Environment

  • With a focus on developing and boosting rearing of indigenous cows, govt announced setting up of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog .
  • The move targets a sustainable genetic upgrade of cow resources to enhance production of indigenous breeds.
  • With shrinking margins in animal husbandry following escalation in a variety of costs for rearing of milch animals, farmers preferred hybrid cattle, which are more productive.
  • But research studies found that indigenous breeds can adjust to climate variations and have milk rich in fat and SNF content.
  • Studies revealed that the productivity of indigenous breeds has lesser impact on climate change than exotic or hybrid animals.


Category: Agriculture

  • India is the world’s second-largest fish producer.
  • Constituting about 6.3 per cent of global fish production, the sector contributes 1.1 per cent of the GDP and 5.15 per cent of the agricultural GDP.
  • It accounts for around 10 per cent of the total exports of the country and nearly 20 per cent of the agricultural exports.


Category: Science & Technology

  • In 1984, India sent its first cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma to space in a Soviet spacecraft.
  • After 38 years, in 2022, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will send the first astronaut in a mission called Gaganyaan.
  • The Union Cabinet in December 2018 had approved ₹10,000 crore for the Gaganyaan Project.
  • Under the project a three-member crew will be sent to space for at least seven days.


Category: Economic Geography

  • India accounts for nearly 40 per cent of China’s import of ore pellets.
  • Iron ore is a raw material for steel, and pellets are a refined product with high iron ore content.

Core sector

Category: Indian Economy

  • The eight core industries are coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel and cement.
  • Steel and cement continue to be the leading sectors with double-digit growth.


Category: Indian Economy

  • RBI has launched an ombudsman scheme to tackle frauds associated with digital transactions.
  • The scheme, launched under Section 18 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, will provide a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism related to deficiency in customer services in digital transactions conducted through non-banking entities regulated by the RBI.
  • Complaints related to digital transactions, conducted through banks, will continue to be handled under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme.
  • The scheme provides for an appellate mechanism, under which the complainant, or system participant, has the option to appeal against the decision of the ombudsman before the appellate authority.

Polar vortex

Category: Physical Geography

  • A record-breaking cold wave has swept through the US Midwest, with 22 states hitting sub-zero temperatures.
  • The extreme cold has been caused by a blast of Arctic air, which in turn is a result of what is known as a “polar vortex” event.
  • Polar vortex is essentially a low-pressure area, it is a wide expanse of swirling cold air surrounding both polar regions.
  • The counter-clockwise flow of air helps keep the colder air near the poles.
  • In winter, the polar vortex sometimes becomes less stable and expands sending cold air southward with the jet stream. This is called a polar vortex event.
  • Normally, when the vortex is strong and healthy, it helps keep a current of air known as the jet stream traveling around the globe in a pretty circular path. This current keeps the cold air up north and the warm air down south.
  • But without that strong low-pressure system, the jet stream doesn’t have much to keep it in line. It becomes wavy and rambling. Due a couple of areas of high-pressure systems in its way, and all of a sudden we have a river of cold air being pushed down south along with the rest of the polar vortex system.
  • Polar vortex is not confined to the US. Portions of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges connected to the polar vortex.
  • By itself, the only danger to humans is the magnitude of how cold temperatures will get when the polar vortex expands, sending Arctic air southward into areas that are not typically that cold.