(Notes) IAS Prelims Exam 2019 GS Paper-1

1. Lunar Rover

2. Moon Landings

3. GSAT-11 Launched

4. NASA’s InSight Spacecraft lands on Mars

5. Farthest object ever visited: Ultima Thule

6. Upcoming Atomic Power Plants

7. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags

8. Angel Tax

9. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban

Government has launched a Mobile App to Allow Beneficiaries to Capture & Upload Photographs of Completed Houses under PMAY- U.

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.

The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.

Important facts

The beneficiaries are poor and people living under EWS and LIG categories in the country.

The scheme is divided into three phases.

  1. In the first phase, a total of 100 cities will be covered from April 2015 to March 2017.
  2.  In Second Phase, 200 cities will be covered from April 2017 to March 2019.
  3. In the third phase, the leftover cities will be covered from April 2019 to March 2022.

The government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.

The government will grant Rs 1 lakh to all the beneficiaries of the scheme. In addition, Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to all eligible urban poor who want to construct their houses in urban areas or plan to go for renovation in their existing houses. One can also avail loans under this scheme to build toilets in existing houses.

Significance of the scheme:

  1. PMAY-U does offer a huge opportunity for several sectors by setting off a virtuous cycle.
  2. One crore houses would mean an opportunity for over Rs 2 lakh crore of home loans, and incremental consumption of 80-100 million tonne of cement and 10-15 million tonne of steel.
  3. The construction opportunity is of about four billion square feet over the life of PMAY-U and all that would translate into 9-10 crore incremental jobs over the execution period.

10. Dolphin census

  • Annual Dolphin census was recently carried out in Odisha by the state’s forest and environment department.

The census covered important aquatic ecosystems in the state including the Chilika Lake, India’s largest brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts, the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and its nearby areas within the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district, Balasore district and the mouth of the Rushikulya River in Ganjam district.

Important Key facts:

Dolphins have been included in Schedule I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), in Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and categorised as ‘Endangered’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

 Sources: down to earth.

11. Oxytocin ban

Indian Medical Association has said Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KAPL) neither have the experience nor the capacity to handle Oxytocin production.

The Delhi high court had quashed the Centre’s December 14, 2018 notification, which had banned its sale by private manufacturers and retail chemists, saying the sale was allowed. Essentially, this meant that only KAPL could produce the drug as there is no other public sector enterprise doing so. However, Delhi high court quashed the amended order too. The central government moved Supreme Court against the Delhi high court order.

  1. KAPL has said bulk production of the drug would take three-four years. This would put lives of many pregnant women at risk as it would lead to acute shortages.
  • With the ban, the government did not adequately weigh in the danger of its order to the users of oxytocin, nor consider the deleterious effect of possible restricted supply if manufacture is confined to one unit on pregnant women and young mothers.
  • Strict control on illegal imports of the drug: Most of the veterinary use comes from illegal import of oxytocin from neighbouring countries. The misuse could be prevented through strict control in sale and end use of the drug especially prevention through clandestine channels.

 About Oxytocin

  • Oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction.
  • Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
  • It acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.
  • The release of oxytocin by the pituitary gland acts to regulate two female reproductive functions: Childbirth and Breast-feeding.

What are the Reasons behind the ban?

Misuse in diary industry: Oxytocin is a naturally-occurring hormone that causes uterine contractions during labour and helps new mothers lactate. However, the drug is misused in the dairy industry where livestock is injected with Oxytocin to make them release milk at a time convenient to farmers.

Oxytocin is also used to increase the size of vegetables such as pumpkins, watermelons, eggplants, gourds, and cucumbers.

 Sources: down to earth.

12.  World Sustainable Development Summit

 The World Sustainable Development Summit 2019 is being held in New Delhi. It is organized by The Energy and Resources Institute – TERI.

 World Sustainable Development Summit:

  1. The World Sustainable Development Summit is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
  2. World Sustainable Development Summit is the sole Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world.
  3. It provides a platform for global leaders and practitioners to discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.
  4. It strives to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the world’s most enlightened leaders and thinkers on a single platform.
  5. It is continuing the legacy of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.
  6. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is a leading think tank dedicated to conducting research for sustainable development of India and the Global South. TERI was established in 1974 as an information centre on energy issues. However, over the following decades, it made a mark as a research institute, whose policy and technology solutions transformed people’s lives and the environment.

Sources: the Hindu.

13. Selenium

Scientists have found that nanoparticles of selenium, an essential micronutrient, can be used as an antibacterial agent. Scientists found that selenium nanoparticles, owing to their unique structure and properties, may be more effective than antibiotics as they have a larger surface area and therefore can be more in contact with the external environment.

  • Selenium is found naturally in wheat, eggs, cheese, nuts and sea food. It is an antioxidant and immunity booster.

14. e-AUSHADHI portal

 Ministry of State (IC) for AYUSH, launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters.

Important Key facts

  • e-AUSHADHI portal is intended for increased transparency, improved information management facility, improved data usability and increased accountability.
  • Timelines will be fixed for processing of application through this portal with SMS and e-mail status updates at each step of the process.
  • It will provide real-time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.

15. National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

 India’s apex National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%) that came up for scrutiny. Only five projects were rejected since August 2014.

About National Board for Wildlife

  1. It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  2. Its roles are “advisory” in nature and advise the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country.
  3. Primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
  4. It has power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  5. No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL.

Composition: The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister. It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and environmentalists.

 Sources: the Hindu.

16. Ghumot to be declared Goa’s heritage musical instrument

  • Ghumot, an indigenous earthen drum will soon be notified as a heritage instrument of Goa.
  • Ghumot is an indigenous earthen drum fashioned as a designed clay pot, with the skin of the monitor lizard stretched taut across the pot’s mouth, forming a drumhead. It is a percussion instrument widely played during Ganesh Chaturthi Aarties.
  • The instrument was banned due to the use of the skin of the endangered monitor lizard for the drum membrane. In recent years, Ghumot makers have started using goat skin instead.
  • The ban is applicable to the use of any animal listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and that the goat is not one of them. Monitor lizard is listed under this.

17. “Exercise Topchi”

  • It is an annual exercise held by Indian Army to showcase its artillery firepower, aviation and surveillance capabilities. The latest edition was held at Deolali Camp near Nashik.

 18. Cobra Gold Military Exercise

The United States and Thailand are hosting the multi-nation Cobra military exercise this year. The exercise is taking place in the northern Thai province of Phitsanulok. This is the 38th edition of this exercise.

About the exercise

  • This is a Thai-American initiative with an aim to improve coordination between the armed forces. It is one of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest multinational military exercises that is held in Thailand every year. It was first held in 1982 and its headquarters is in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • India joined this exercise for the first time in 2016 while China was admitted for the first time in 2015 but was only allowed to participate in humanitarian assistance training.

19. Swachh Shakti 2019

Swachh Shakti 2019 Awards were recently distributed by the PM on the occasion of Swach Shakti 2019 programme.

 Swachh Shakti Programme

  • The Swachh Shakti Programme is a national event which aims to bring in to focus the leadership role played by rural women in Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Launched in 2017, the Programme is a part of ongoing activities under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission, launched on October 2, 2014 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to achieve a clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019.
  • The programme is attended by women panchs and Sarpanchs from across the country.
  • The first edition of Swachh Shakti programme was launched from Gandhinagar, Gujarat by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on International Women’s Day 2017. The second edition was launched from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

20. 1st Aqua Mega Food Park in Andhra Pradesh

The government has commissioned Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park at Tundurru Village in Bhimavaram Mandal, West Godavari District, andhra Pradesh.

This is the 1st Mega Aqua Food Park operationalized exclusively established for fish and marine products processing in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

It will provide a platform and establish backward and forward linkages covering the entire aqua food processing value chain, quality assurance, food safety and implementation of best practices in post-harvest management.

21. Mohar reservoir project

The Chhattisgarh Water Resources Department (CWRD) commenced the work on Mohar Reservoir Project in Balod district without ensuring the land required was acquired and obtaining environment and forest clearances, says the latest Comptroller and Auditor General Report on Chhattisgarh.

Important Key facts: The Mohar reservoir project is proposed across the confluence of river Dangarh and Dalekasa with a catchment of 143 square km. The gross command area of the project is 1100 hectares. The proposed project is expected to irrigate 800 hectares of Kharif paddy and supply 1000 million cubic (1 TMC) water by feeder canal to Kharkhara reservoir for 500MW power plant of NSPCL in Bhilai.

 22. Crying Keel back

Researchers find new snake in Arunachal– Crying Keel back (named for the mark below its eyes, that gives the illusion that it is crying) snake or the Hebius lacrima.

The Crying Keel back has a set of characteristics that together make it different from other species in the Habeas genus: the mark under its eyes, the interrupted pale head stripe, among others.

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