Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 October 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Delhi tops most polluted megacity list
According to WHO, Delhi’s air is the worst among world megacities.
- The data show that fine-particulate-matter (PM2.5) levels were almost four times above daily safe levels, on average, for the seven-day period from September 22 to 28, 2016. For long-term exposure, these 24-hour levels are nearly 11 times above the WHO health standards.
- Over the monsoons, Delhi’s air was relatively cleaner because the rain and wind diminished the impact of pollutants. But with the season changing, air-quality also diminished, meaning prolonged exposure affects healthy people and “seriously impacts” those with existing disease.
- Delhi recorded a PM10 level of 229 µg/m³, followed by Cairo with 179 µg/m³ and Dhaka with 158 µg/m³ – the top three megacities with the most polluted air globally. Beijing and Shanghai were sixth and seventh on that list.
- Delhi was the only megacity to record a PM10 level above 200 µg/m³, exceeding the WHO air quality standard of 20 µg/m³ by more than 900%. Beijing and Shanghai reported ambient air pollution levels of 108 and 84 µg/m³ respectively.
- Within India, the smaller cities of Gwalior and Allahabad measured the worst levels of ambient air pollution at PM2.5 levels of 176 µg/m³ and 170 µg/m³ respectively. A significant portion of northern India falls in a zone with “critical” air pollution-reporting PM2.5 levels of over 70 µg/m³ in the WHO’s mapping of air pollution and population.
What’s the concern?
In 2012, with one million deaths, China reported the highest toll from PM2.5 and PM10 pollution. At the time, India followed, reporting 621,138 deaths, nearly 10% of the global toll (6.5 million deaths) associated with outdoor and indoor air pollution.
However, between 2011 and 2015, in a comparison of megacities with population above 14 million, Delhi’s ambient air-pollution levels were worse than Beijing and Shanghai.
The WHO guideline for annual mean levels for PM10 is 20 µg/m³ and for PM2.5 is 10 µg/m³. For 24 hours, the levels should not exceed 50 µg/m³ (for PM10) and 25 µg/m³ (for PM2.5).
Why exposure to PM 10 is not good?
It is because most air-pollution deaths are caused by fine, invisible particles, called PM2.5, about 30 times finer than a human hair. These pollutants, if inhaled deep into the lungs, can cause heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases, and are known to pose the greatest risk to human beings. PM10, or coarse particulate matter with diameter between 2.5 and 10 micrometers, are primarily made up of dirt and dust from farming, factories and roads, and caused due to the crushing of rocks and soil.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Centre constitutes Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board
The Centre has constituted a four-member Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) under the Chairmanship of MS Sahoo.
- The oath of office was administered by Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley.
- Sahoo is appointed as IBBI Chairman for a period of five years.
While the Centre has for now set up the IBBI with four members, going forward this will be expanded to 10 (including the Chairman). Three whole-time members and two other members are to be appointed.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 seeks to establish the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, to oversee insolvency resolution in the country. The Board will have 10 members, including representatives from the central government and Reserve Bank of India. It will register information utilities, insolvency professionals and insolvency professional agencies under it, and regulate their functioning.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.” The professor is currently at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
- Ohsumi is a cell biologist. He discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components. He received the Kyoto Prize for Basic Science in 2012.
The 1974 Medicine laureate, Christian de Duve, coined the term autophagy (meaning “self eating”) in 1963. This concept emerged during the 1960s, when researchers first observed that the cell could destroy its own contents by enclosing it in membranes, forming sack-like vesicles that were transported to a recycling compartment, called the lysosome, for degradation.
What is Autophagy?
Autophagy is essentially the body’s internal recycling program – scrap cells are hunted down and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or create new cells. It is a crucial process to prevent cancerous growths, and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, helps protect against conditions like diabetes.
Contributions of Yoshinori Ohsumi:
Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990’s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker’s yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy. He then went on to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and showed that similar sophisticated machinery is used in our cells.
Ohsumi’s discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content. His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Centre accepts pay panel recommendation on promotion
The Union government has accepted the recommendation of the 7th Pay Commission on Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP) for Central employees.
- There shall be three financial upgradations under the assured promotion scheme counted from the direct entry grade on completion of 10, 20 and 30 years services respectively or 10 years of continuous service in the same level in Pay Matrix, whichever is earlier. This would ensure one minimum promotion for every 10 years till 30 years of service.
- MACP envisages mere placement in the immediate next higher level in the Pay Matrix. Thus in certain cases where regular promotion is not between two successive levels in the Pay Matrix, it will be different than what is available at the time of regular promotion. In such cases, the higher level in the Pay Matrix attached to the next promotion post in the hierarchy of the concerned cadre/organisation will be given only at the time of regular promotion.
The Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme was originally introduced in 2008 following the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
Regional Anti-Dumping Workshop
- Regional Anti-Dumping Workshop for Asian Investigating Authorities was recently held in Delhi.
- The Workshop organised by the World Trade Organisation and the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade brings together 37 senior officials from 18 investigating authority systems.
- Senior experts from developing countries in the Asian region, along with select developed countries like Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan and the United States participated in the workshop.
- The Workshop aims to assist Asian developing WTO Members’ investigating authorities to further enhance their technical capacity to conduct anti-dumping investigations in a fair and efficient manner, in conformity with WTO rules.
DBT in kerosene
- Jharkhand has become the first state in the country to implement Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in Kerosene in four identified districts namely, Chatra, Hazaribagh, Khunti and Jantara from 1st October, 2016.
- Under the DBTK Scheme, PDS kerosene is being sold at non-subsidised price, and, subsidy, as admissible, is being transferred to consumers directly into their bank accounts.
- This initiative of the governments is aimed at rationalising subsidy, based on the approach to cut subsidy leakages but not subsidy per se.