Insights Daily Current Affairs, 11 March 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 11 March 2017


 

Paper-2  Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Narendra Kumar takes over as Chairman Central Water Commission

 

Shri Narendra Kumar, an officer of Central Water Engineering Service (1979 batch) has assumed the charge of Chairman, Central Water Commission (CWC).

 

About Central Water Commission:

Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development. It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Synchronous elephant count by four States in May

 

Four StatesOdisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — which comprise India’s most human-elephant conflict-prone region, have decided to count elephants synchronously between May 9 and 12.

 

Key facts:

  • This will be the first regional synchronous elephant census with an identical set of rules for direct and indirect counting methods.
  • The census has been consciously been scheduled for May 10, a full moon day on which the chances of elephant sightings are higher.
  • The direct elephant counting method is based on sightings of elephants, while in the indirect method, surveyors follow a dung decay formula for arriving at a population estimation. Dung decay methods have already been used by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. A variation of about 8% to 9% has been noticed between the two methods.
  • The synchronised census will indicate the size, distribution, structure and density of the elephant population in the region.

 

Background:

According to the 2015 census, Odisha has 1,954 elephants, while Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have approximately 700, 275 and 130 elephants respectively.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

A mass coral bleaching again

 

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching. Scientists have warned many species would struggle to fully recover.

  • More bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which last year escaped widespread severe bleaching.
  • The latest bleaching has increased the urgency of tackling climate change in Australia, one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.

 

Background:

The 2,300-km reef suffered its most severe bleaching on record last year due to warming sea temperatures during March and April. Nearly two-thirds of shallow-water corals in a 700-km stretch of the reef’s northern section were lost to last year’s bleaching event.

 

What is Coral Bleaching?

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. Corals can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

 

Way ahead:

The reef scientists plan to conduct further surveys over the next few weeks to determine the extent and severity of the bleaching.

The latest bleaching has increased the urgency of tackling climate change in Australia, one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters. Scientists have warned that without sufficient emissions reductions annual mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef by 2050 is possible.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

NASA to explore Jupiter’s icy moon

 

NASA’s ‘Europa Clipper’ set to launch in the 2020s will probe the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

 

Key facts:

  • The mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell.
  • Europa has long been a high priority for exploration because it holds a salty liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust.
  • The ultimate aim of Europa Clipper is to determine if Europa is habitable, possessing all three of the ingredients necessary for life: liquid water, chemical

ingredients, and energy sources sufficient to enable biology.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

‘Tests useful to find cause of stillbirth’

 

A U.S. study has found that two tests are particularly effective in determining the cause of a stillbirth, a death of a foetus at or after 20 weeks of gestation.

 

Key facts:

  • An examination of the placenta helped find a cause in about two-thirds of stillbirths, and a foetal autopsy helped in roughly 40% of cases.
  • Genetic testing was the third most useful test, helping to pinpoint a cause 12% of the time.

 

Background:

Researchers had previously determined that complications during the birth process, including pre-term labour and premature rupture of the amniotic sac, accounted for 30% of stillbirths. Before labour, placental problems were the most common cause of stillbirth, accounting for roughly one-quarter of cases. Genetic conditions or birth defects were responsible for about 14% of stillbirths, infection for 13% and umbilical cord issues another 10%.

 

Stillbirths:

An estimated 2.6 million third trimester stillbirths occurred in 2015 across the world. Most stillbirths (98%) occur in low and middle income countries.

India continues to be at the top of the table in the rank for number of stillbirths in 2015, recording 5,92,100, followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Ethiopia. Cultural taboos and superstitions often take the blame in the case of stillbirth.

 

Trends:

Worldwide, the number of stillbirths has declined by 19.4% between 2000 and 2015, representing an annual rate of reduction (ARR) of 2%. This reduction noted for stillbirths is lower than that noted for maternal mortality ratio (AAR=3.0 %) and under 5 mortality rate (ARR= 3.9 %), for the same period.

 

Cause of stillbirths:

  • It is reported that, in 18 countries with reliable data, congenital abnormalities account only for a median of 7.4% of stillbirths. Many disorders associated with stillbirths are potentially modifiable and often coexist — maternal infections, non-communicable diseases, nutrition, lifestyle factors and maternal age older than 35 years.
  • Prolonged pregnancies, when the baby is not born after 42 weeks of gestation, contribute to 14% of stillbirths.
  • Causal pathways for stillbirth frequently involve impaired placental function, either with growth restriction, or preterm labour or both.

 

Way ahead:

It should also be noted that less than 5% of neonatal deaths and even fewer still births are registered. Hence, it is necessary to maintain meticulous records of all births and deaths (maternal and foetal) in order to increase the availability of data, rationalising that while data alone will not help save lives, it would certainly indicate a way to target interventions to reach more than 7,000 women every day worldwide who experience the reality of stillbirth.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

‘Lost’ Chandrayaan-1 orbiting Moon: NASA

 

India’s first mission to Moon, the Chandrayaan-1, that was considered lost almost eight years back, has been found orbiting the Moon some 200 kilometers above the lunar surface.

 

How was it found?

According to a recent NASA report, “A new technological application of interplanetary radar pioneered by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has successfully located spacecraft orbiting the moon – one active, and one dormant. This new technique could assist planners of future moon missions.”

To find a spacecraft 380,000 km away, scientists used the 70-metre antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a powerful beam of microwaves towards the moon. Then the radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-metre Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

JPL’s orbital calculations indicated that Chandrayaan-1 is still circling some 200 km above the lunar surface.

 

About Chandrayaan-1:

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, barely a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008.

  • The Chandrayaan-1 mission performed high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared (NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions.
  • One of the objectives was to prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with high spatial and altitude resolution) of both near and far side of the moon.
  • It aimed at conducting chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of mineral and chemical elements such as Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium as well as high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium and Thorium with high spatial resolution.

 

LRO:

In addition to finding Chandrayaan-1, the scientists also located NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter around the Moon. LRO is a robotic mission that set out to map the moon’s surface.

Data collected by LRO has been described as essential for planning NASA’s future human and robotic missions to the Moon. Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies. 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 1 Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Tipu’s armoury finds a new home

 

The task of relocation of the 18th Century Tipu Sultan’s armoury at Srirangapatna has successfully been completed, making it the first such exercise in the history of Indian Railways that entailed moving a monument in one piece to a new site.

  • The location approved by the ASI for the final shifting of the monument is at a distance of 100 meters from the original site.

 

Background:

Though relocating a structure is a complex process, the problem was compounded for the railways as the monument was a masonry structure with hollow bricks and lime mortar, and the ASI had categorically stated that the structure should not be cut and reassembled.

Besides, the Indian Railways lacked the technology for such translocation and the Institution of Engineers was asked to study and submit a report. The railways also scouted for private firms and based on the combined input, it came out with a methodology for shifting, which was approved by the Department of Archaeology, Government of Karnataka.

 

March 21, 1791:

The recent shifting of the Tipu Sultan armoury that stood on the Bengaluru-Mysuru railway track in Srirangapatna hindering its doubling work, has almost coincided with yet another historical milestone this month — 226 years of the III Mysore War also called Third Anglo-Mysore war — the last major battle fought in Bengaluru where the British forces captured Bangalore Fort.

Lord Cornwallis, who had then taken over the command of East India Company led the contingent for the III Anglo-Mysore war against Tipu Sultan and the first attack was launched on March 21, 1791. The battle ended with the East India Company capturing the Bangalore Fort and Tipu had to retract to Srirangapatna.

 

About Tipu Sultan:

  • He was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore.
  • Tipu introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including his coinage, a new Mauludi lunisolar calendar, and a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry.
  • Tipu expanded the iron-cased Mysorean rockets and commissioned the military manual Fathul Mujahidin.
  • He is considered a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery. Tipu Sultan deployed the rockets against advances of British forces and their allies in their 1792 and 1799 Siege of Srirangapatna.
  • Napoleon, the French commander-in-chief who later became emperor, sought an alliance with Tipu. In alliance with the French in their struggle with the British, and in Mysore’s struggles with other surrounding powers, both Tipu and his father used their French trained army against the Marathas, Sira, and rulers of Malabar, Kodagu, Bednore, Carnatic, and Travancore.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Another river-linking project on cards

 

After successful linkage between the Godavari and Krishna rivers through the Pattiseema project, now the Andhra Pradesh government is embarking on linking the Godavari with the Penna.

  • In this regard, highly advanced LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) Survey will be taken up by Water and Power Consultancy Services (India) Limited (WAPCOS) to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for supplying Godavari water directly to Rayalaseema.
  • The project envisages transporting 20 tmcft from Godavari River to two reservoirs – the existing Somasila Reservoir in the Penna river basin and a new reservoir at Bollapalli.

 

About Godavari River:

The Godavari is the second longest river in India after the river Ganges having its source at Tryambakeshwar, Maharashtra.

  • It starts in Maharashtra and flows east for 1,465 kilometres (910 mi) emptying into Bay of Bengal draining the Indian states Maharashtra (48.6%), Telangana( 18.8%), Andhra Pradesh (4.5%), Chhattisgarh (10.9%), Madhya Pradesh (10.0%), Odisha (5.7%), Karnataka (1.4%) and Puducherry through its extensive network of tributaries.
  • Measuring up to 312,812 km2 (120,777 sq mi), it forms one of the largest river basins in the Indian subcontinent, with only the Ganges and Indus rivers having a drainage basin larger than it in India.
  • Important tributaries include Pravara, Purna, Manjira, Pranhita, Indravati and Sabari.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Enemy Property Bill Clears Rajya Sabha

 

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016. The 49-year-old law was amended to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China.

 

Key facts:

  • The amendments proposed include that once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death.
  • The new Bill ensures that the law of succession does not apply to enemy property; that there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the Act.
  • The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the Act to ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and do not revert to the enemy subject or firm.
  • The Bill also prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.

 

Background:

In early 2016, the government had identified over 16,000 properties across India that could be taken over under this law. A rough estimate had indicated that 9,400 properties, where the process to take over the properties had been completed, were valued at 1 lakh crore rupees.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Pakistan’s Hindu marriage bill passed by both houses of Parliament

 

A landmark bill to regulate marriages of Pakistan’s Hindu minority has been unanimously passed by the lower house of Parliament, paving the way for adoption of a comprehensive and widely acceptable family law for Hindus. The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 is the first personal law for the minority community and will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage, which is needed while applying for passports and other official documents.

 

Key facts:

  • The bill will be applicable in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. Southern Sindh province, which is home to a majority of Pakistan’s Hindus, has already enacted its own Hindu marriage law.
  • The bill aims at easing growing insecurity among Hindus. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the bill provides a mechanism for registering Hindu marriages, conditions for contracting a marriage, and the procedure and grounds for dissolving a marriage.
  • According to its provisions, both parties to a marriage must be of sound mind and capable of giving valid consent. The parties also must not be below the age of 18, a measure aimed at preventing the marriage of minors.
  • It paves the way for a document called the ‘Shadi Parath’ – similar to the Nikahnama for Muslims – that will contain details of the bride and groom and be signed by a pundit before it is registered with the relevant government department.
  • It also provides the concept of judicial separation, where the marriage remains intact while the parties are no longer under an obligation to cohabit. The legitimacy of children born out of voidable Hindu marriages has also been protected.

Sources: the hindu.