UPSC IAS Prelims 2019: Important Study Notes

UPSC and State Public Services Commission Prelims and Mains Exam 2019

Western Disturbances

  • Western Disturbance is an extra tropical storm originating in the Mediterranean region that brings sudden winter rain to the north-western parts of the Indian sub-continent.
  • It is a non-monsoonal precipitation pattern driven by the westerlies.
  • Extra-tropical storms are a global phenomenon with moisture usually carried in the upper atmosphere, unlike their tropical counterparts where the moisture is carried in the lower atmosphere.
  • Western disturbances bring moderate to heavy rain in low-lying areas and heavy snow to mountainous areas of the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Precipitation has great importance in agriculture, particularly for the Rabi crops. Wheat among them is one of the most important crops, which helps to meet India’s food security.

UNESCO Geo Park

UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

At present, there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 41 countries

UNESCO Global Geoparks is given this designation for a period of four years after which the functioning and quality of each UNESCO Global Geoparks are thoroughly re-examined during a revalidation process.

In 2018 Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka are listed for UNESCO Global Geopark Network status.

Helium Hydride Ion

Scientists have detected that Helium hydride ion (HeH+) was the first molecule to be formed in the universe.

During big bang, ionized hydrogen and neutral helium atoms reacted to form HeH+.

The molecule will emit its strongest spectral line at a characteristic wavelength of 0.149 mm.

NASA’s high-flying observatory SOFIA detected this molecule towards a planetary nebula.

SOFIA

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an aircraft with reflecting telescope, flying into the stratosphere at 38,000-45,000 feet.

SOFIA is put above Earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere, allowing astronomers to study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes.

The observatory’s mobility allows researchers to observe from almost anywhere in the world and enables studies of transient events that often take place over oceans where there are no telescopes.

Genome Sequencing

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) with co-operation of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has initiated a genome sequencing project for educating a generation of students on the “usefulness” of genomics.

Globally, many countries have undertaken genome sequencing of a sample of their citizens to determine unique genetic traits, susceptibility (and resilience) to disease.

This is the first time that such a large sample of Indians will be recruited for a detailed study.

The project aims to sequence at least 10,000 Indian genomes, where Genomes will be sequenced based on a blood sample.

International Fleet Review

International Fleet Review (IFR) is a parade of naval ships, aircraft and submarines, and is organized by nations to promote goodwill, strengthen cooperation and showcase their organizational capabilities.

IFR also serves as an ideal platform for the world’s navies to showcase their prowess and indigenous ship designing and shipbuilding capabilities in a global/ international arena.

Indian Navy warships INS Kolkata and INS Shakti will be participating in IFR 2109, China.

Indo-Pacific Division

Ministry of External Affairs has setup Indo-Pacific division to integrate the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), ASEAN region and the Quad to the Indo-Pacific table.

Countries falling in the direct hinterland of the vast Indian and Pacific oceanic expanse are termed ‘Indo-Pacific countries’.

It is a multipolar region, contributing more than half of the world’s GDP and population.

It has several important regional trading blocs, many of which have implemented free trade agreements (FTAs) in goods and services and some of which have even been elevated to the Customs Union.

This move will give a coherent architecture to the policy articulated at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018.

Shangri-La Dialogue is an annual security dialogue that brings together defence ministers and military chiefs from 28 Asia-Pacific countries to talk about security in the region.

Tiger census

Tiger census in India is conducted every four years by the National Tiger Conservation Authorities (NTCA).

The first all India tiger census was conducted in 2006.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a Union Environment Ministry funded body, is coordinating agency for the tiger estimation exercise.

NTCA uses an android app named MSTrIPES (Monitoring system for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), for the proper location data feeding and filling the record more accurately.

The app will capture the forest team’s route throughout the forest and assist them in uploading geo-tagged images into the database

According to the last survey conducted in 2014, the tiger count was 2,226.

Microplastics

Microplastics are a type of plastic fragment that is less than five millimetres in length, which are atmospheric pollutants.

Microplastics include fragments, fibres and sheet-like pieces of film.

According to recent reports, microplastics are carried away by winds and being deposited in a remote, high-altitude mountain location far from any major city causing microplastic-pollution.

Zinc Deficiency

According to recent research, it is found that inadequate zinc intake has been rising in India for decades, causing tens of millions of people to become newly deficient in it.

Rising carbon dioxide levels can accelerate zinc deficiency in crops and thus in human consumption.

The highest rate of inadequate zinc intake was concentrated mainly in the southern and northeastern States with rice-dominated diets: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya.

Salt Tolerant Rice

Researchers have developed a new salt-tolerant transgenic rice plant by over-expressing a gene from wild rice called Porteresia coarctata into the commonly used IR 64 indicia rice variety.

Porteresia coarctata is a native of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar and is grown mainly in saline estuaries.

The new crop can withstand salt concentration of up to 200 micromoles per litre or about half as saline as seawater without affecting normal growth and grain yield under greenhouse conditions.

Origin of life from Ponds

According to a recent study, primitive ponds may have provided a suitable environment for creating the earth’s first life forms, more so than oceans.

Shallow water bodies could have held high concentrations of nitrogen, a key ingredient for jump-starting life on the earth.

Nitrogenous oxides were likely deposited in water bodies, including oceans and ponds, as remnants of the breakdown of nitrogen in earth’s atmosphere.

Atmospheric nitrogen comprises two nitrogen molecules, linked via a strong triple bond that can only be broken by an extremely energetic event namely, lightning.

In the ocean, UV light and dissolved iron would have made nitrogenous oxides far less available for synthesizing living organisms.

In shallow ponds, however, life would have had a better chance to grow, mainly because ponds have much less volume over which compounds can be diluted.

 As a result, nitrogenous oxides would have built up to much higher concentrations in Ponds.

Mariana Trench

  1. The Mariana Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean and has the deepest natural trench in the world.
  2. It is a crescent-shaped trough in the Earth’s crust averaging about 2,550 km long and 69 km wide.
  3. The maximum known depth is 10,994 meters (36,070 ft) at the southern end of a small slot-shaped valley in its floor known as the Challenger Deep.
  4. For comparison: if Mount Everest were dropped into the trench at this point, its peak would still be over two kilometres (1.2 mi) under water.
  5. The trench is not the part of the seafloor closest to the centre of the Earth since the Earth is not a perfect sphere.
  6. Recently scientists have discovered unique oil-eating bacteria in the Mariana Trench.
  7. The found microorganisms eat compounds similar to those in oil and then use it for fuel.

3D- Printed Heart

Recently Scientists have unveiled a 3D print of a heart with human tissue and vessels.

This invention is a major medical breakthrough that advances possibilities for transplants in near future.

Maternal Spindle Transfer

Fertility doctors in Greece and Spain have produced a baby from three people in order to overcome a woman’s infertility; the team used a technique called maternal spindle transfer (MST).

It was developed to help families affected by deadly mitochondrial diseases which are passed down from mother to baby.

The experimental form of MST uses an egg from the mother, sperm from the father, and another egg from a donor woman.

All cells have mitochondria, which are like power packs for the cells and create the energy that keeps cells alive.

While a child’s DNA is a mixture from both the mother and father, mitochondria are separate “packages of genetics” that come solely from the mother.

Some people have a mitochondrial disease a problem with the genetics in their mitochondria which can lead to severe, life-threatening conditions, although this is rare.

One treatment for a woman who might have one of these diseases is to replace the mitochondria in her eggs via IVF.

Central Monitoring Committee on Pollution

  1. National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches across the country pollution free.
  2. The Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will be the nodal authority for coordination.
  3. The Chief Secretaries of the states will act as the nodal agency at the state level.
  4. The committee has been composed to monitor pollution of rivers, as it has caused a serious threat to the safety of water and environment.

Besides checking river pollution, the central monitoring committee will coordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans.

Wholesale Price Index

A wholesale price index (WPI) is an index that measures and tracks the changes in the price of goods in the stages before the retail level – that is, goods that are sold in bulk and traded between entities or businesses instead of consumers.

Usually expressed as a ratio or percentage, the WPI shows the included goods average price change and is often seen as one indicator of a country’s level of inflation.

Some countries use WPI changes as a central measure of inflation, but India has adopted new CPI to measure inflation.

WPI is published by the Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, where CPI is released by CSO.

The Wholesale Price Index focuses on the price of goods traded between corporations, rather than goods bought by consumers, which is measured by the Consumer Price Index.

DART Mission

  • Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is NASA’s first mission to demonstrate kinetic impact or technique which will strike the asteroid to shift its orbit to defend against a potential future asteroid impact.
  • The target for DART is an asteroid that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022 and then again in 2024.
  • The asteroid is called Didymos, an asteroid binary system that consists of two bodies: Didymos A, and Didymos B.
  • The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity, which would shift the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

Nirbhay Missile

Nirbhay is a Long Range Sub-Sonic Cruise Missile designed and developed by DRDO.

The missile has been recently test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), located in Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha.

The missile has way point navigation and sea-skimming capability to cruise at very low altitudes.

Leucistic Squirrel

For the first time, Leucistic five-striped palm squirrel has been reported from north India.

Funambulus pennanti is more frequently found in the northern part of India including Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.

Colour abnormalities are very rare in wild mammals; these abnormalities may be governed by several factors like environmental pollution, congenital infection, low nutrition food and genetic causes.

Leucism is a condition where there is partial loss of pigmentation in animals on the skin; however, the loss of colour does not extend to the eye.

On the other hand, in albinism, the affected individual is totally white, with red eyes.

The survival rate of Leucistic animals is comparatively lesser than non-Leucistic ones because of their distinctive features which easily gets noticed by predators.

Yangtze giant soft-shell turtles

  • The only known female member of Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle has died recently in China.
  • The animal was one of four known to be remaining in the world, rest three turtles are male.
  • It is also known as the Red River giant soft-shell turtle.
  • It is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List.

PEETHA

Odisha Chief Minister announced a new programme “PEETHA” for transparency and awareness on various government schemes.

The programme, the Peoples Empowerment Enabling Transparency and Accountability or PEETHA aims to improve transparency in the distribution of individual and social benefits.

TROPEX- 2019 Exercise

Indian Navy will conduct its flagship large-scale coastal defence exercise “Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise” (TROPEX) from next year to test the robustness of entire coastal security apparatus.

It is an annual exercise that takes place on Western Seaboard.

It is a tri-service exercise in which troops from the Indian Army and fighter aircraft from Indian Air will also participate.

It is conducted to test various aspects of not only joint combat capabilities but also to test the war capabilities of three services in a war-like situation.

SWADESH DARSHAN SCHEME

Swadesh Darshan scheme is one among the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritized manner.

The scheme was launched in 2014 -15.

Under this scheme, the Government is focussing on the development of quality infrastructure in the country with the objective of providing better experience and facilities to the visitors on one hand and on other hand fostering the economic growth.

One World One Sun One Grid

  1. 24thmeeting of Conference of Parties (COP-24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held at Katowice, Poland.
  2. This year the theme of the Indian Pavillion was “One World One Sun One Grid”.
  3. India will try for achieving 175 GW target for installed Renewable Energy capacity by 2022.
  4. India stands 4th in wind power 5th in renewable power and 5th in solar power.   
  5. Under Ujjwala scheme, 58 million households are already covered under and it will not only contribute to improved health of women and children but also help on reducing deforestation.
  6. India also pledged to get rid of single-use plastic by 2022 across the country.
  7. India’s leadership in global climate action has been recognized and PM Narendra Modi has been awarded the “champions of Earth Award” this year by the United Nations in promoting International Solar Alliance and resolve to make India plastic free by 2022.

Rihand Dam

Rihand Dam, also known as Govind Ballabh Pant Sagar, is the country’s largest reservoir by volume and largest artificial lake, located on the Rihand River.

Its catchment area spread over Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh

The largest floating solar plant to date is a 2MW one in Vishakhapatnam.

Another is a 500-kWh plant built by the Kerala State Electricity Board at the Banasura Sagar Dam.

Recently a 50 Mega Watt floating solar plant will be set up in the country’s largest reservoir Rihand dam in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.

PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive) Scheme

  • The scheme was launched by Ministry of Tourism in 2014-15.
  • The scheme aimed at infrastructure development such as entry points (road, rail, and water transport), last mile connectivity and basic tourism facilities.
  • Under the scheme ‘Prasad’, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for development and beautification of the identified pilgrimage destinations.
  • It is a 100% Central Government funded scheme.
  • Initially, Twelve cities were identified, namely Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Gaya(Bihar), Dwaraka(Gujarat), Amritsar(Punjab), Ajmer(Rajasthan), Kanchipuram(Tamil Nadu), Velankanni (Tamil Nadu), Puri(Odisha), Varanasi(Uttar Pradesh), Mathura(Uttar Pradesh), Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) and Kamakhya (Assam) for development under PRASAD by the Ministry of Tourism.
  • To implement the PRASAD scheme a Mission Directorate has been set up in the Ministry of Tourism.
  • Recently, Centre has included Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and Parasnath in Jharkhand under this central scheme to develop pilgrimage and heritage destinations in the country.

With the new additions, the number of sites under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme has now become 41 in 25 states.

Colistin

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that a ban on the use of the antibiotic colistin would be a step in the right direction.

India’s highest drug advisory body, the Drug Technical Advisory Board had recommended a stoppage on the use of colistin by poultry farmers.

Colistin is a last resort antibiotic which is administered to human beings when most other antibiotics fail to function.

However, it is indiscriminately used by the poultry industry to promote growth and prevent the occurrence of infections in chicken.

Increasing evidence has linked this to the development of resistance against colistin in humans.

OSIRIS-REx

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu on 3 December 2018.

The primary goals of this survey are to refine estimates of Bennu’s mass and spin rate and to generate a more precise model of its shape.

The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

Geosynchronous satellite

A geosynchronous satellite is a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, with an orbital period the same as the Earth’s rotation period.

A satellite in such an orbit is at an altitude of approximately 36000 km above mean sea level.

A special case of the geosynchronous satellite is the geostationary satellite, which has a geostationary orbit– a circular geosynchronous orbit directly above the Earth’s equator.

Geostationary satellites have the special property of remaining permanently fixed in exactly the same position in the sky, as viewed from any location on Earth, meaning that ground-based antennas do not need to track them but can remain fixed in one direction.

Such satellites are often used for communication purposes.

GSAT-11

ISRO’s heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana on December 5, 2018.

The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-246 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana carrying India’s GSAT-11 and South Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2A satellites, as scheduled.

Ariane 5 is one of three launch vehicles operated by Arianespace along with Soyuz and Vega.

The 5,854-kg GSAT-11 will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band.

GSAT-11 will boost the broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats in the country coming under the Bharat Net Project, which is part of Digital India Programme.

GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit.

Subsequently, the two solar arrays and four antenna reflectors of GSAT-11 will be deployed in orbit.

Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana

Under the scheme, any resident of Delhi above 60 years of age will be eligible for the scheme and those above 70 years can have one attendant.

The scheme does not have any income criterion, but preference will be given to those who are from the economically weaker section.

The applicant should not be an employee of the central, state, local government or autonomous bodies.

The journey will be performed through Indian Railways.

A total of 77,000 pilgrims will be able to avail this facility every year.

The pilgrimage duration will be of three days and two nights and will be for any of the following routes:

(a) Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi;

(b) Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi;

(c) Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi;

(d) Delhi-Amritsar-Wagah border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi;

(e) Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.

The Scheme will help and promoting communal harmony and brotherhood in society.

Shahpurkandi Dam

The Union Cabinet has approved implementation of Shahpurkandi Dam Project, Punjab on river Ravi.

Central Assistance of Rs. 485.38 cr (for irrigation component) would be provided over five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23.

Implementation of this project would help to minimize some of the water of the River Ravi which at present is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan whereas there is a requirement for the same for use in Punjab and J&K.

Funding for Central Assistance to Shahpurkandi Dam project shall be made through NABARD under the existing system for funding of 99 PMKSY-AIBP projects under LTIF.

The project would be implemented by Govt. of Punjab with Central Assistance of Rs. 485.38 crore the project would be completed by June 2022.

Digital Sky Platform

The DGCA announced the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) to enable safe flying of Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) popularly referred to as drones in India.

It specified the obligations of operators, remote pilots/ users and manufacturers/ OEM for safe operations of RPAS and co-operative use of airspace.

It also announced Digital Sky Platform, a first of its kind that implements ‘no permission, no take-off’ (NPNT) – a novel system of software based self-enforcement to minimize deviations from the CAR.

The Digital Sky Platform will register and monitor the drones, pilots, and operators for online permission before the take-off.

This platform is built to evolve with the needs of the rapidly changing industry with Digital Sky Service Providers (DSPs) by extending the functionality of the platform through Application Program Interfaces (APIs).

Emergency Response Support System (ERSS)

The Union Home Minister launched Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for the State of Nagaland at Kohima.

Nagaland is the first amongst the North-Eastern States and the second State in India to launch Pan-India single emergency number ‘112’ under ERSS.

Under this project, one Emergency Response Centre (ERC) has been established in Kohima along with 3 District Command Centers (DCCs), namely Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung.

The Emergency Response Centre is capable of receiving emergency calls through voice call to 112 emails; panic buttons activated calls and 112 India mobile App.

State of Nagaland has integrated ERSS with Tourist Police and Highway patrol and will expand to interior districts subsequently.

As a special feature, to ensure safety of women, a unique ‘SHOUT’ feature exclusively for women has been introduced in 112 India mobile App.

This feature allows victims to seek immediate assistance from registered volunteers in the vicinity apart from contacting Emergency Response Centre.

Tree Cover & Forest Cover

The MoEFCC defines ‘forest cover’ in India as all lands, more than one hectare in area with a tree canopy density of more than 10%.

The ‘tree cover’ is defined as tree patches outside recorded forest areas exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mappable area of one hectare.

Classification scheme for the purpose of Forest Cover assessment is described as follows:

Class Description

Very Dense Forest  All lands with tree canopy density of 70% and above.

Moderately Dense Forest  All lands with tree canopy density of 40% and more but less than 70%.

  • Open Forest all lands with tree canopy density of 10% and more but less than 40%.
  • Scrub Degraded forest lands with canopy density less than 10%.
  • Non-forest   Lands not included in any of the above classes.

Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)

The Ministry of Human Resources Development has 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).

SHREYAS is a programme basket comprising the initiatives of three Central Ministries, namely the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and the Ministry of Labour& Employment viz the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), the National Career Service (NCS)and introduction of BA/BSc/BCom (Professional) courses in the higher educational institutions.

  • SHREYAS is a programme conceived for students in degree courses, primarily non-technical, with a view to introduce employable skills into their learning, promote apprenticeship as integral to education and also amalgamate employment facilitating efforts of the Government into the education system so that clear pathways towards employment opportunities are available to students during and after their graduation.
  • To enhance the employability of Indian youth by providing ‘on the job work exposure’ and earning of stipend.
  • In all the tracks together, it is proposed to cover 50 lakh students by 2022.

Yuva Sahakar-Cooperative Enterprise Support and Innovation Scheme

To cater to the needs and aspirations of the youth, the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) has come up with a youth-friendly this scheme for attracting them to cooperative business ventures.

The newly launched scheme would encourage cooperatives to venture into new and innovative areas.

The scheme will be linked to Rs 1000 crore ‘Cooperative Start-up and Innovation Fund (CSIF)’ created by the NCDC.

The funding for the project will be up to 80% of the project cost for these special categories as against 70% for others.

The scheme envisages 2% less than the applicable rate of interest on term loan for the project cost up to Rs 3 crore including 2 years moratorium on payment of principal.

It would have more incentives for cooperatives of North Eastern region, Aspirational Districts and cooperatives with women or SC or ST or PwD members.

All types of cooperatives in operation for at least one year are eligible.

Feni

  • It is popular local traditional brew (liquor) distilled from the cashew fruit.
  • Cashew feni was given the Geographical Indication tag as manufactured goods.
  • The name feni is derived from Sanskrit word ‘phena’ meaning froth or foam.
  • It is also distilled from fermented toddy from coconut palm.
  • It is prepared in a typical Portuguese way that does not entail the use of electricity in the process.

Inclusive Internet Index 2019

The Inclusive Internet Index, commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, seeks to measure the extent to which the Internet is not only accessible and affordable, but also relevant to all, allowing usage that enables positive social and economic outcomes at individual and group level.

The aim of the Inclusive Internet Index is to provide researchers and policymakers with the information they need to enable the beneficial use of the Internet, irrespective of age, gender, location or background.

The index assesses the performance of 100 countries in four categories of inclusion: Accessibility, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness. Each category incorporates key indicators of internet inclusion, including quantitative measures such as network coverage and pricing, and qualitative measures such as the presence of e-inclusion policies and the availability of local-language content.

Sweden has topped the rankings followed by Singapore and the US.

India has been ranked 47th.

 PRANAM Commission

Assam has launched the PRANAM Commission, a panel set up to look after the issues concerning a Bill brought in for protection of parents of state government employees.

The Parents Responsibility and Norms for Accountability and Monitoring (PRANAM) Bill, stated to be the first-of its-kind Bill in the country, is an effort to protect elderly parents of government employees in their times of need.

To ensure that no state government employee ignores their elderly parents and unmarried differently-abled siblings.

The PRANAM Bill makes it mandatory for the state government employees to look after their parents and unmarried differently-abled siblings who do not have their own sources of income.

Under the bill’s provisions, if the PRANAM Commission gets a complaint that parents of a state government employee are being ignored, then 10 or 15 per cent of the employee’s salary will be deducted by the government and paid to the parents or differently-abled siblings.

The employees of private companies and the central government working in the state would also be covered by the bill at a later stage.

Mirage 2000 Fighter Jet

  • Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters were used to destroy the Jaish-e-Mohammad camps at Balakot along the Line of Control.
  • It is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation fighter jet.
  • It is manufactured by Dassault Aviation.
  • It gained prominence after their remarkable success rate in the 1999 Kargil war.
  • It has a maximum climbing speed of 60,000 feet per minute and is designed for all weather penetration at low altitude.

Benefits of Repo Rate

It will make the system more transparent since every borrower will know the fixed interest rate and the spread value decided by the bank.

It will help borrowers compare loans in a better way from different banks.

Under the new system, a bank is required to adopt a uniform external benchmark within a loan category so that there is transparency, standardisation and ease of understanding for the borrowers.

This would mean that same bank cannot adopt multiple benchmarks within a loan category.

Repo Rate

Technically, Repo stands for ‘Repurchasing Option’.

It refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the RBI in case of shortage of funds. It is one of the main tools of RBI to keep inflation under control.

When we borrow money from the bank, they charge an interest on the principal. Basically, it is cost of credit.

Similarly, banks too can borrow money from RBI during cash crunch on which they must pay interest to the Central Bank. This interest rate is repo rate.

Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR)

Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) is the minimum interest rate, below which a bank is not permitted to lend. RBI can give authorization for the same in exceptional cases.

MCLR replaced the earlier base rate system to determine the lending rates for commercial banks.

RBI implemented it on 1 April 2016 to determine rates of interests for loans.

It is an internal reference rate for banks to decide what interest they can levy on loans.

For this, they take into account the additional or incremental cost of arranging additional rupee for a prospective buyer.

Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles (QRSAM)

India has successfully test-fired two indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles (QRSAM) from a test range off the Odisha coast.

  1. The trials were conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from Launch Complex 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur.
  2. This missile has been developed to replace the ‘Akash’ missile defence system, and has 360-degree coverage, light weight, high mobility and shorter second reaction time as compared to ‘Akash’.
  3. It also uses solid fuel propellant and has a stated range of strike range of 25-30 km with capability of hitting multiple targets.

It is capable of hitting the low flying objects.

It successfully demonstrated the robust Control, Aerodynamics, Propulsion, Structural performance and high maneuvering capabilities thus proving the design configuration.

Radars, Electro Optical Systems, Telemetry and other stations have tracked the Missiles and monitored through the entire flights.

Exercise Sampriti-2019

It is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh and this will be the eighth edition of the exercise which is hosted alternately by both countries.

As part of the ongoing India Bangladesh defence cooperation, the joint military exercise will be conducted at Tangail, Bangladesh.

The exercise is aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies.

The exercise will involve tactical level operations in a counter insurgency and counter terrorism environment under the UN mandate.

In addition to understanding each other in tactical level operations, emphasis will also be laid for greater cultural understanding to strengthen military trust and cooperation between the two nations.

Phen Wildlife Sanctuary

It is a popular buffer zone of Kanha national park, Madhya Pradesh.

It lies in Southern region of Kanha tiger reserve, close to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh state borders.

It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in year 1983 by Government of Madhya Pradesh.

The Fauna at this sanctuary mainly consists of the Tiger, Leopard, Wild boar, Cheetal, Sambar etc.

Marine Clouds

Marine clouds could break up and vanish if CO2 in the atmosphere triples.

It protects us from hothouse Earth conditions by reflecting sunlight back into space.

It is the stratocumulus clouds that cover about 20 % of subtropical oceans, mostly near western seaboards such as the coasts of California, Mexico and Peru.

These clouds cool and shade the earth as they reflect the sunlight that reflects them back into space.

Due to the rise in Carbon Dioxide it may become unstable and disappear.

The consequence will trigger a spike in global warming.

Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP)

Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP) is an international collaboration of governments, government agencies and multinational organisations.

It is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of their citizens through the best use of evidence-based digital technologies.

Governments are making significant investments to harness the power of technology and foster innovation and public-private partnerships that support high quality, sustainable health and care for all.

The GDHP facilitates global collaboration and co-operation in the implementation of digital health services.

Hayabusa 2 and Ryugu asteroid

  1. Hayabusa 2 is a Japanese probe sent to collect samples from an asteroid for clues about the origin of life and the solar system.
  2. It fired a bullet into the surface of the Ryugu asteroid.
  3. The Ryugu asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born.
  4. It was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to the Earth with its samples in 2020.
  5. The probe will observe the surface of the asteroid with its camera and sensing equipment.

Central Information Commission (CIC)

The Central Information Commission (CIC) set up under the Right to Information Act is the authorized quasi judicial body, established in 2005.

It acts upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests due to either the officer not having been appointed, or because the respective Officer refused to receive the application for information under the RTI Act.

The Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India.

CIC and members are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956

Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, only sons had a direct right to ancestral property, excluding daughters from inheritance claims where the father did not leave a will.

From the 1970s onwards, changes in inheritance legislation sought to empower women by strengthening their financial and social position and reducing dependence on male relatives.

The traditional preference for sons was also supposed to lessen, because daughters, backed by possession of the family home, would be able to offer parents security in old age.

Equally, this was expected to eradicate the dowry system, a key contributing factor to the perception of a daughter as a financial burden.

MUDRA Scheme

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana was introduced in April 2015 as an effort to extend affordable credit to micro and small enterprises.

Loans up to Rs. 10 lakh are extended to these non-corporate, non-farm enterprises by the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) through last-mile financial institutions.

So far, 15.56 crore loans worth a total of Rs. 7.23 lakh crore have been disbursed.

In December 2017, faced with mounting criticism on the failure to create job opportunities, the Labour Ministry had asked the Labour Bureau to initiate the survey on jobs created through the MUDRA scheme.

Wallace’s giant bee

It is the world’s largest bee that was recently rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia.

Wallace’s giant bee was discovered in the 19th century by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the bee as “vulnerable”.

It was nicknamed the “flying bulldog as it is nearly four times bigger than the European bee.

It lives in the Indonesian island region of North Moluccas and makes its nest in termite mounds.

Invisible Ink

The NPL prepared the ‘invisible ink’ as part of a pilot project mooted by the Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd. (MVPL)

It is a transparent liquid as an organic-inorganic mixture that was biodegradable and could be washed off in 48 hours.

It works on the well-known principle of fluorescence — certain materials emit a characteristic glow when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The NPL ink, however, glows only when exposed to a narrow band of frequencies of ultraviolet (UV) light.

The NPL’s invisible ink experiment is linked to a larger project of creating security inks that could be used to make bank notes and documents, such as passports, more secure.

Indelible Ink in India

The ink was first used during India’s third General Elections in 1962. Indelible ink has been used in every General Election since

At the time, the country’s election commission was having a tough time dealing with identity theft, as they soon discovered that there were duplicate or fake votes.

Indelible ink is made of a chemical compound called silver nitrate.

When applied to the skin and exposed to ultraviolet light, it leaves a mark that is almost impossible to wash off.

The stain is so strong; in fact, it is only removed when the external skin cells are replaced

When put on the skin, silver nitrate reacts with the salt present on it to form silver chloride.

Silver chloride is not soluble in water, and clings to the skin. It cannot be washed off with soap and water.

Fernandina Giant Tortoise

  • It is a rare Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus).
  • It was feared to be extinct but has been found in a remote part of the Galapagos island of Fernandina recently.
  • The IUCN listed it as critically endangered & possibly extinct.
  • Its habitat is largely dry brush land at lower elevations, but much of that habitat has been destroyed by extensive lava flows.
  • Fernandina is the third largest Galapagos Island and features the La-Cumber volcano, one of the most active in the world.

Padayani

It is a ritual art and folk dance form performed at Bhadrakali temples in the state of Kerala.

The word ‘Padai-ani’ means line-up or formation of the soldiers.

The story behind Padayani is the re-enactment of the killing of Demon Darika and calming the Goddess Kali after it.

The dance is to appease the Goddess so that there is eradication of social evils and there is rain, good crop and prosperity.

Permanent Resident Certificate

  1. Permanent resident certificate is a legal document issued to Indian citizens that serves as evidence of residence and is required to be submitted as residential proof for official purpose.
  2. It is a domicile certificate otherwise called as Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) to the residents of the state who stayed therein over a period.
  3. Those citizens who are not currently residing in the state but are sure of permanently staying therein can also apply for it.
  4. Besides the permanent residence certificate, the State also offers Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC) for those who reside in the State on a temporary basis.
  5. It enables the citizens to avail various policies and claims made in their particular state.

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