Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 18, 2018)
1. Ganga waterway project cleared after overruling expert panel
India’s longest waterway project, one terminal of which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, was made possible only after a high-power Committee of Ministers and senior officials from multiple Ministries overruled the recommendations of experts appointed by the Environment Ministry. The latter had recommended public consultations and a full-fledged environment clearance, documents made available through the Right to Information (RTI) Act show.
As part of the the Modi government’s ambitious plan to make stretches of the 2,500-km-long Ganga suitable for transporting containers, it decided to make navigable a 1,390-km stretch of the river between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haldia in West Bengal. The project entails construction of 3 multimodal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia); 2 intermodal terminals; 5 Roll On–Roll Off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs; a new navigation lock at Farakka; assured depth dredging; an integrated vessel repair and maintenance facility; a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS); a River Information System (RIS); and ‘river training’ and river conservancy works.
The ₹5,369 crore project is partly funded by the World Bank. However, to enable container barges and ships to carry at least 2,000 tonnes, the project requires the river bed to be dredged to enable a minimum draft of three metres along the river, as well as to make the river channel at least 45 metres wide.
2. Jumbo care! India gets its first dedicated elephant hospital
India’s elephants now have their first dedicated hospital near the Taj Mahal, complete with wireless digital X-Ray, laser treatment and dental X-ray facilities. The ‘jumbo’ hospital is the result of a collaboration between the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and conservation NGO Wildlife SOS.
The veterinary hospital has modern medical facilities for the treatment of elephants in distress, including thermal imaging, ultrasonography, hydrotherapy, tranquillisation equipment and quarantine. Located near Agra, the facility is in the Farah block of Mathura, near the Elephant Conservation and Care Center (ECCC) run by Wildlife SOS.
In 2010, Wildlife SOS established the ECCC, which currently provides lifetime care for over 20 rehabilitated pachyderms, rescued from illegal captivity and circuses, where they were subjected to cruelty.
3. Gujarat announces relief for farmers
The Gujarat government on Saturday announced a special relief package of ₹1,300 crore for approximately 20 lakh farmers in 45 talukas that received less than 400 mm rain in the current year. These talukas have been declared scarcity-hit.
In 14 talukas with rainfall between 250 mm and 300 mm, each farmer will get ₹6,300 ad hoc assistance per hectare.
In 12 talukas with rainfall between 300 and 350 mm, the ad hoc assistance amount is ₹5,800 per hectare and in 19 talukas with rainfall between 350 and 400 mm, the amount will be ₹5,300 per hectare.
4. Brig. Chandpuri, hero of Longewala battle, dead
Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, considered the hero of the ‘Battle of Longewala’ and who was later awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, died in Mohali on Saturday, his family said. He was 78. He held off a Pakistani attack while leading a small group of soldiers through the night during the 1971 war. The 1997 film Border, in which Sunny Deol played the role of Brigadier Chandpuri, was based on the Longewala battle. The cremation will take place on Monday with full military honours.
5. Solih promises to reset ties
Promising a host of people-focussed policies and a foreign policy formulated on the basis of human rights, democracy and climate diplomacy, the Maldives’s new President, Ibrahim Solih, sought to turn a new page in the country’s politics at a glittering inaugural ceremony.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lankan MP Namal Rajapaksa and other dignitaries from across the region.
6. UIDAI CEO to replace Adhia
In a top-level appointment, the Centre on Saturday appointed Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Chief Executive Officer of UIDAI, new Secretary, Revenue in place of Hasmukh Adhia, who will retire in November-end.
On Saturday, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) issued notification of appointments of Secretaries in the Departments of Revenue, Youth Affairs, Coal and Tourism.
Mr. Pandey will continue to hold additional charge as CEO of UIDAI and Chairman of the GST Network.
Mr. Adhia is a key aide and the most trusted bureaucrat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is also designated as Finance Secretary in the Finance Ministry.
The government also appointed Sanjay Kumar Mishra, a 1984-batch IRS Officer, Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) for two years. Mr. Mishra was made interim director last month.
G.C. Murmu, a 1985-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, will be the new Expenditure Secretary. He will take over from A.N. Jha, who will retire in January.
Upma Chawdhry will be the new Secretary of Youth Affairs and Yogendra Tripathy Secretary of Tourism.
Sumanta Chaudhury will be Secretary of the Coal Ministry and Chhabilendra Raol Secretary, Fertilizers.
7. GROWTH-India telescope’s first science observation
The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation which is a follow-up study of a nova explosion. Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to temporary increase in brightness of the star. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion. A report on this published in The Astronomer’s Telegram notes the magnitude of the nova explosion first identified by Darnley et al as it varies, during November 8 to November 10.
First science observation
The GROWTH-India telescope was commissioned six months ago soon after which it saw first light, on the night of June 12. “The telescope has been taking readings since then, and this is the first ‘follow-up’ work. We are happy to see this first science observation,” said G C Anupama, who Professor-in-Charge of the Indian Astronomical Observatory and is based at Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP), Bengaluru.
This recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018. Recurrent nova systems are interesting because they are candidates for progenitors of Type Ia supernovae. “We took follow-up images with the GROWTH-India telescope. The observations were made in different optical bands. The nova was seen to decline rapidly in brightness, by 1 – 1.5 magnitudes in the span of 2 days,” says Shubham Srivastav, post-doctoral fellow at the physics department of IIT Bombay (IITB)
This telescope has a field that is five to six times larger. It can ‘slew’ or move its focus from one part of the sky to another in just about 10-15 seconds and its camera can view stellar objects that are thousands to millions of light years away.
The GROWTH-India telescope is part of the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen. Its goals are threefold: (1) Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger (2) study nearby young supernova explosions. (3) Study nearby asteroids.
8. Ape fossil 11 million years old unearthed in Gujarat
Tireless fossil hunting under the scorching heat of the Kutch basin, Gujarat proved fruitful and palaeontologists unearthed a fossilised upper jaw (maxilla). Further studies showed that the fossil find was highly significant: it is the oldest and the only known ape fossil discovered in peninsular India.
Ansuya Bhandari from Birbal Sahni Institute, Lucknow, stumbled upon the jaw in 2011 during a field survey with a group of palaeontologists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, and IIT Roorkee.
The researchers concluded that the upper jaw belonged to an adult ape (hominoid family), belonging to the genus Sivapithecus and lived about 11–10.8 million years ago (Miocene). The oldest remains of these apes found so fari n Indo-Pakistan are dated at about 12.7 million years and the youngest at about 8.6 million years.
9. Usurper galaxy
Observations by the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array telescopes find that the most luminous galaxy (W2246-0526) is drawing nearly half the mass from its three neighbours. The galaxy is 12.4 billion light years away, which means, we are seeing now what took place when the universe was one-tenth its present size.
10. Proton mass
Protons contain quarks and gluons. While quarks carry 1% of the proton mass, gluons are massless. Proton mass mainly comes from the motion and confinement of the quarks and gluons. A new paper to appear in Physical Review Letters quantifies for the first time, four contributions to the proton’s mass.
11. Omega-3 protects against premature birth
A Cochrane review study has found that increasing the intake of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature births. Premature birth is the leading cause of death for children under 5 years old worldwide. Premature babies are at higher risk of a range of long-term conditions including visual impairment, developmental delay and learning difficulties. On examining data from 70 randomised trials, the researchers found that for pregnant women, increasing the daily intake of long-chain omega-3s lowered the risk of having a premature baby (less than 37 weeks) by 11, an early premature baby (less than 34 weeks) by 42% and, the risk of having a small baby (less than 2,500g) by 10%.
12. What is Formica archboldi?
It is an ant species known to collect the decapitated heads of another ant species called the trap-jaw ant, which is itself a fierce insect predator. F. archboldi chemically mimics its trap-jaw ant prey and uses what is normally a chemical defence (a spray of formic acid) as a deadly weapon against trap-jaw ants. F. archboldi does this by imitating the trap-jaw’s cuticular hydrocarbons, a complex layer of waxes that coat the outer surface of an ant. Ants typically use these compounds as nest mate and species-specific signals. Evidence so far has shown that F. archboldi is a parasitic species. A video about these ants and research can be found at: https://youtu.be/heuYzC12etg — Science Daily
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Book – Emergency Chronicles
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Book – The Bombay Plan: Blueprint for Economic Resurgence
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14. Vinales clinches his maiden pole of the season
The rain and gloom of the last few days lifted just enough ahead of qualifying for the final race of the Moto GP season as Spain got ready to welcome its recently crowned World Champion Marc Marquez for his homecoming party.
However, it all went downhill just minutes into the final qualifying session when Marquez lost control of his Honda into turn four and crashed into the gravel trap.
15. ACI is a good initiative, say leading archers
Some leading archers, who have represented the country at the highest stage, have come out in support of the Archers Commission of India (ACI), proposed by court-appointed administrator-cum-returning officer S.Y. Quraishi of the Archery Association of India (AAI).
According to Olympian Satyadev Prasad, Quraishi’s initiative to form ACI to make the provision for archers’ representation in the AAI with voting rights is a much-needed step to improve the governance in the National federation, which has been suspended by the Sports Ministry for the last six years due to non-compliance with the National Sports Code.
16. Good show by Indians
Indian wrestlers bagged a rich haul of seven medals, including three gold, to finish overall second at the Asian under-15 girls’ championships at Fujimi, Japan.
India finished second in the team standings with 181 points. In the 43kg final, Sweety defeated Japan’s Miwa Magara to clinch gold. India’s other gold came in the 33kg, bagged by Pooja Rani.
Komal registered a come-from-behind win over Japan’s Fuka Kondo in 36kg. Pinki (39kg), Antim (4kg) and Bhagyashree (58kg) won silvers.
The branch of zoology concerned with reptiles and amphibians.
Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS)
River Information System (RIS)
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)
19. Things to Remember:
Maldives’s new President, Ibrahim Solih
Central Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu
Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT)
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – A feeling of great pleasure; delight.
Example – ‘the enchantment of the mountains’
Synonyms – magic, witchcraft, sorcery, wizardry, necromancy, conjuration, captivation, entrancement, bewitchment, fascination, attraction, temptation, seduction, allure, enticement, bliss, ecstasy, heaven, rapture, joy
Current Affairs is an important GK topic for UPSC, NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Air force X & Y Groups, SSC, and other competitive exams. Every year in UPSC, SSC and Bank there are few questions from Current Affairs.