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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 April 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 April 2018


Paper 1:

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Walmiki and Malhar, two new languages discovered


Context: Researchers have discovered two new languages- Walmiki and Malhar.


Key facts for Prelims:

  • The languages are categorised `endangered’ as the number of people speaking is small. These languages are spoken in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Only a few people living in the forest and hilly areas speak these languages.
  • Walmiki is spoken in Koraput of Odisha and on the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh. Walmiki is an isolate language i.e. it does not belong to a family of languages. The name of the language is also interesting and indicative because the speech community claims descent from the great Indian saint-poet Valmiki.
  • Malhar is spoken in a remote and isolated hamlet which is almost 165 km from Bhubaneswar. The community consists of about 75 speakers including children. It belongs to the North Dravidian subgroup of the Dravidian family of languages and has close affinities with the other North Dravidian languages like Malto and Kurux spoken in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.



The Union Government has been making efforts to document the endangered tribal and minor languages. There are several languages unknown to the world and waiting to be discovered and documented. India is also considered a linguists Paradise and termed a sociolinguistic giant.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Walmiki and Malhar.
  • For Mains: Need for protection of endangered languages.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.


PM Ujwala Yojana

Context: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has been launched in Delhi. The Cabinet, in February 2018, had approved the increase in the target for the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to eight crore from the earlier five crore. This has to be achieved by 2020.


About the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.



  • Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
  • Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories.
  • The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.


What makes LPG adoption necessary?

About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.

According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.


Way ahead:

The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: PMUY.
  • For Mains: Need for LPG adoption.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Regional 3R Forum

Context: The Eighth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific is being held in Indore. The event will see participation of around 40 mayors of cities around the world and mayors of more than 100 cities across India.

Who is hosting?

  • The 8th Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific is co-organized by the Ministry of Housing and Affairs, Government of India, the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan (MOEJ), and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD).
  • The Indore  Municipal  Corporation,  Government  of  Madhya  Pradesh,  and Confederation  of  Indian  Industry  (CII)  have  been  designated  as  the  City Partner,  Organizing  State  Partner  and  Industry  Partner 


Theme: “Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency  –  A  21st  Century  Vision  for Asia-Pacific  Communities”.


About 3R Forum:

Establishment: In 2009, the Regional 3R Forum in Asia was established at Japan’s proposal as a platform for broad cooperation on promotion of the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – in Asia. After the fourth forum, the name was changed to Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific.

Members: Members include central governments, international agencies, aid agencies, private sector entities, research bodies, NGOs and other relevant parties.


Key facts:

  • Forum members hold discussions on policies, provided support for the implementation of 3R projects in member countries, shared useful information, and are building networks for the further promotion of 3R initiatives.
  • Japan hosted the inaugural Regional 3R Forum in Tokyo in 2009, and has cosponsored subsequent Forums together with the governments of host countries and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD).


Ha Noi 3R Declaration: The Fourth Regional 3R Forum – held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, in March 2013 – adopted the Ha Noi 3R Declaration ‐ Sustainable 3R Goals for Asia and the Pacific for 2013‐2023. It is a legally non-binding and voluntary document which aims to provide a basic framework for Asia-Pacific countries to develop measures and programs to promote 3Rs including a set of 3R indicators for monitoring specific progress.


About UNCRD:

  • The United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) was founded in 1971 as an instrument to help achieve the strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade.
  • Created by an agreement between the UN and the Government of Japan, its operations are supported by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA).
  • UNCRD’s vision is to achieve sustainable living environment for all. Its mission is to assist developing countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.
  • UNCRD’s interventions in developing countries are clustered under three main thematic interrelated and complementary areas of work – (a) Integrated Regional Development Planning; (b) Sustainable Urban Management; and (c) Knowledge Management.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: 3R Forum, UNCRD and Ha Noi declaration.


Sources: pib.



Paper 3:

Topic: Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints.


Uttarakhand’s second mega food park at Udham Singh Nagar

Context: Uttarakhand’s second mega food park has been set up at Udham Singh Nagar. The park- M/s Himalayan Mega Food Park Private Ltd has been set up at a cost of Rs 99.96 crore and will benefit around 25,000 farmers in this as well as neighbouring districts. The first Mega Food Park in the state located at Haridwar has already become operational.


About Mega Food Parks:

Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.

  • The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.
  • These food parks give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.
  • A maximum grant of R50 crore is given for setting up a MFP, in minimum 50 acres of contiguous land with only 50% contribution to the total project cost.


Mode of operation:

  • The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).
  • The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.
  • CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.
  • The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Mega food park scheme and mega food parks in the country.
  • For Mains: Need for Mega food parks and other related agricultural issues.


Sources: pib.

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


Newly discovered antibiotic class, Odilorhabdins




Context: Researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics- Odilorhabdins.


Key facts for Prelims:

  • Called odilorhabdins, or ODLs, the antibiotics are produced by symbiotic bacteria found in soil-dwelling nematode worms that colonise insects for food.
  • The bacteria help to kill the insect, and secrete the antibiotic to keep competing bacteria away.


How they function?

  • ODLs act on the ribosome — the molecular machine that makes proteins cells needed to function — of bacterial cells. When bound to the ribosome, the antibiotic disrupts its ability to interpret and translate genetic code.
  • When ODLs are introduced to the bacterial cells, they impact the reading ability of the ribosome and cause the ribosome to make mistakes when it creates new proteins,” said Mankin. “This miscoding corrupts the cell with flawed proteins and causes the bacterial cell to die.


Significance of the discovery:

Odilorhabdins is unique and promising on two fronts: its unconventional source and its distinct way of killing bacteria, both of which suggest the compound may be effective at treating drug-resistant or hard-to-treat infections.



According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistant is one of the biggest threats to global health today and a significant contributor to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Odilorhabdins.
  • For Mains: Issues related to antibiotic resistance.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Parker Solar Probe

Context: Parker Solar Probe, which is humanity’s first mission to the Sun, has begun final preparations for its launch in July. After launch, it will orbit directly through the solar atmosphere – the corona – closer to the surface than any human-made object has ever gone.


About the Parker solar probe:

What is it? NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.


Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

  • Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
  • Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
  • Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.


Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?

  • The sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying this star we live with, we learn more about stars throughout the universe.
  • The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed.
  • The sun also affects Earth in less familiar ways. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).
  • Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts, part of a set of changes in near-Earth space known as space weather.
  • Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on.
  • The solar wind also fills up much of the solar system, dominating the space environment far past Earth. As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean.


Sources: the hindu.




Facts for Prelims:


Manas National Park:

Context: Assam Spring Festival is being held at the Manas National Park where visitors will get to experience the state’s local food, music, handloom and handicrafts. The aim of the event is to promote the local food and culture of the fringe villagers. It is an attempt to create a model of alternative livelihood through food, handloom and culture.

Key facts on Manas National Park:

  • Manas National Park is a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam, India.
  • Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
  • The Manas river flows thorough the west of the park and is the main river within it. It is a major tributary of Brahmaputra river and splits into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba as it reaches the plains.
  • The Manas river also serves as an international border dividing India and Bhutan.
  • The bedrock of the savanna area in the north of the park is made up of limestone and sandstone, whereas the grasslands in the south of the park stand on deep deposits of fine alluvium.
  • The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with the riverine succession continuing up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest make it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
  • The park is well known for species of rare and endangered wildlife that are not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.


Railway link between India and Nepal:

Context: India will build a strategic railway link between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu in Nepal to facilitate people-to-people contact and bulk movement of goods.

Significance: The proposal to link Raxaul to Kathamandu gains significance as it comes nearly two years after China, in March 2016, agreed to construct a strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with an apparent aim of reducing Kathmandu’s dependence on India. It also comes in the backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020.


“Desert Tiger 5”:


What is it? It is a joint military exercise between United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia. It is aimed at sharing expertise and enhancing joint military actions.

The drill was also aimed at raising the level of performance and combat efficiency and working together based on a strategy to improve the overall ability and combat readiness of the ground forces.


Sugar tax comes into effect in the UK:


Context: The sugar tax has come into force in the UK placing a levy on soft drink manufacturers. The money from the tax will go to the Department for Education.

What necessitated this move? The move aims to help tackle childhood obesity. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of dietary sugar for children and teenagers.

Where else has it been tried? A similar scheme has been tried in a handful of Scandinavian countries as well as France and Hungary. Mexico and Norway have shown positive outcomes.


Phosphorus pentoxide:

Context: The government has imposed anti-dumping duty on import of Phosphorus pentoxide from China to protect the domestic manufacturers from cheap shipments.

Key facts:

  • Phosphorus Pentoxide is used as a powerful desiccant and dehydrating agent and is a useful building block and reagent in the chemical industry.
  • Phosphorus pentoxide is not flammable.
  • It reacts vigorously with water and water-containing substances like wood or cotton, liberates much heat and may even cause fire. It is corrosive to metal.