Current Affairs – November 11, 2018

/Current Affairs – November 11, 2018
Current Affairs – November 11, 2018 2018-11-11T16:23:43+00:00

Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 11, 2018)

 

1. ISRO invites foreign ‘riders’ to Venus

An 18-month-old pitch for what could be the first Indian orbiter mission to Venus has just been refreshed and relaunched, opening it up now for international experiments.

Tentatively marking the yet to be named ‘Mission Venus’ for mid-2023, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to study the planet from an elliptical orbit that is closest to Venus at 500 km and 60,000 km at the farthest end — similar to its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) of 2013.

The latest announcement opportunity (AO) does not specify the weight of the spacecraft; it plans to send up instruments or payloads totally weighing 100 kg. (MOM’s payloads weighed nearly 15 kg.)

The new round invites space-based experiment ideas on Venus from space agencies, universities and researchers.

They should complement a dozen Indian experiments that have been shortlisted from among responses that came in for the AO of April 2017. It had then planned a total payload of 175 kg. The responses were said to be fewer and below expectations.

3rd interplanetary dash

Currently being handled by the Space Science Programme Office, the entire project must be vetted by the Advisory Committee on Space Sciences and approved by the Space Commission and eventually the government.

From the Moon orbiter mission Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and the ₹450 crore MOM, the Venus voyage — if approved — would be ISRO’s third interplanetary dash.

A lunar lander and rover mission called Chandrayaan-2 is getting ready to take off in January or February 2019.

 

2. National body set up to study rare form of diabetes

A National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed to identify cases of monogenic diabetes across the country. Supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC) will be the national coordinating centre for the study group.

Genetic mutation

Monogenic diabetes is a group of disorders where mutation of a single gene causes diabetes; the three commonest forms being – Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY), Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus (NDM) and Congenital Hypoglycaemia, according to V. Mohan, chairman, DMDSC.

 

3. EC to pick new Mizoram CEO

The Election Commission on Saturday initiated the process of finding a replacement for Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer S.B. Shashank, who is facing an agitation for his ouster by members of various organisations. A Commission spokesperson said that a team, led by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain, had called for a panel of names for the post. The spokesperson said the next steps would only be taken after the team submitted its report. Mr. Jain held talks with various stakeholders on Saturday.

 

4. polio vaccine contamination is a worry?

What happened?

Since April 2016, all oral polio vaccines (OPV) across the world contain only two of the three polio serotypes — Type 1 and Type 3.

Type 2 is banned because the wild, disease-causing version of this virus was eradicated globally by 1999, and because OPV itself can cause polio in rare cases.

However, sometime in September, routine surveillance detected the Type 2 vaccine virus in stool samples from children in Uttar Pradesh, implying that someone was still making the vaccine. Further investigations revealed that the OPV, made by a Ghaziabad-based firm called Bio-Med, contained traces of the Type 2 vaccine virus.

Can a vaccine cause polio?

Yes. There are two ways in which all three oral vaccine viruses can cause polio. The first is called Vaccine Associated Paralytic Polio (VAPP). Here, in extremely rare cases, the vaccine virus mutates into a virulent version of itself, causing disease in the child who received the vaccine, or in a person who came in contact with the child. VAPP causes isolated cases and not outbreaks, because it doesn’t spread from person to person.

The second way in which the vaccine can cause polio is through Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (cVDPV). Here, too, the vaccine virus mutates into a virulent version, but spreads from person to person, causing outbreaks. For this to happen, though, the vaccine virus must circulate among people for at least around 12 months. During this transmission, the virus has a chance to mutate. This usually happens in communities where vaccination rates are low. cVDPV, too, is extremely rare.

 

5. What is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016?

With The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the government plans to change the definition of illegal migrants. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction.

The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.

What’s the status of the Bill now?

The Bill after been discussed in the Lok Sabha, was referred to a joint select committee in August 2016. The members of the Parliamentary Committee visited Barak Valley, the Bengali-majority area of Assam, and Meghalaya to discuss it with various organisations. They reportedly spoke to about 200 organisations.

 

6. What is NRC?

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is meant to identify a bona fide citizen. In other words, by the order of the Supreme Court of India, NRC is being currently updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals who might have entered the State illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971. The date was decided in the 1985 Assam Accord, which was signed between the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the AASU. The NRC was first published after the 1951 Census in the independent India when parts of Assam went to the East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The first draft of the updated list was concluded by December 31, 2017. The second draft is yet to be released.

 

7. The lowdown on the crisis in Sri Lanka

Late on Friday, President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the Sri Lankan Parliament and called a snap general election for January 5. The announcement came within hours of his party spokesman publicly admitting to lacking a majority in Parliament. Mr. Sirisena’s front was aiming for a majority to push its controversially installed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa through the legislature.

Sri Lanka has been facing a political crisis for a fortnight now, with Mr. Sirisena abruptly sacking his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Mr. Rajapaksa, a former President, apparently defying the Constitution or more specifically, its 19th Amendment — a 2015 legislation that clipped the powers of the President significantly.

Resisting Mr. Sirisena’s move, Mr. Wickremesinghe maintained that he was the legitimate Prime Minister and challenged Mr. Rajapaksa to a vote in Parliament to test their claims to majority. Mr. Sirisena had earlier suspended Parliament until November 16, possibly to muster strength for his front, but summoned the House for November 14, amid growing pressure.

 

8. AIIMS-led team develops sensitive tests for pulmonary, pleural TB

A highly sensitive diagnostic test for pulmonary TB and pleural TB has been developed by a multi-institutional team led by Jaya Sivaswami Tyagi from the Department of Biotechnology at AIIMS. The diagnostic test makes use of a DNA aptamer (a small single-stranded DNA molecule that binds to a specific target molecule) that shows high binding affinity to a TB antigen. Sputum samples were used for diagnosing pulmonary TB while pleural fluid was used for diagnosing pleural TB.

The sensitivity of the diagnostic test for pulmonary TB and pleural TB was 94% and 93%, respectively. Specificity was 100% for pulmonary TB and 98% for pleural TB. The results were published in the journals ACS Infectious Diseases and Analytical Biochemistry.

 

9. Groundwater depletion alarming in northwest, central India

With 230 billion metre cube of groundwater drawn out each year for irrigating agriculture lands in India, many parts of the country are experiencing rapid depletion of groundwater. The total estimated groundwater depletion in India is in the range of 122–199 billion metre cube.

The Indo-Gangetic Plain, northwestern, central and western parts of India account for most intensive groundwater-based irrigation. And among these regions, western India and the Indo-Gangetic Plain have more than 90% of the area irrigated using groundwater.

Significant depletion

Based on Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) data of nearly 5,900 wells which have long-term data (1996–2016), a team of researchers led by Vimal Mishra from the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Gandhinagar found that a majority of districts in India experienced significant depletion in groundwater storage. The satellite data confirms the well data. The results were published in American Geophysical Union’s journal Earth’s Future.Groundwater management

More than 500 tensiometers to visually monitor soil moisture conditions in rice fields and irrigate the crops only when required were used in five districts in Punjab. Irrigation based on information provided by the tensiometers helped farmers in the five districts save 10–36% groundwater. Using groundwater to irrigate the field only when necessary led to a reduction in electricity consumption and greenhouse emissions.

“The tensiometer gives visual information about the availability of soil moisture conditions. Irrigating the field based on this information will help conserve groundwater,” says Prof. Kamal Vatta from the Columbia International Project Trust, New Delhi and co-author of the paper.

The tensiometer is 2–3 feet long and has a ceramic cup containing numerous tiny pores at the bottom. It is inserted up to 8 inches into the soil, which is beyond the root zone of rice. The water inside the tensiometer reaches equilibrium with soil moisture, and rises or falls depending on the amount of moisture in the soil.

 

10. Groundwater management

More than 500 tensiometers to visually monitor soil moisture conditions in rice fields and irrigate the crops only when required were used in five districts in Punjab. Irrigation based on information provided by the tensiometers helped farmers in the five districts save 10–36% groundwater. Using groundwater to irrigate the field only when necessary led to a reduction in electricity consumption and greenhouse emissions.

“The tensiometer gives visual information about the availability of soil moisture conditions. Irrigating the field based on this information will help conserve groundwater,” says Prof. Kamal Vatta from the Columbia International Project Trust, New Delhi and co-author of the paper.

The tensiometer is 2–3 feet long and has a ceramic cup containing numerous tiny pores at the bottom. It is inserted up to 8 inches into the soil, which is beyond the root zone of rice. The water inside the tensiometer reaches equilibrium with soil moisture, and rises or falls depending on the amount of moisture in the soil.

 

11. Arctic risk

It is known that predation rates are higher at lower latitudes. Perhaps to escape this, birds migrate from the tropics to the poles to breed. This fundamental pattern is now altered because of climate change. Birds now face higher predation risk in the Arctic, a study in Science states.

 

12. New technique to find tumour DNA

A team of Swiss, British and Danish scientists have designed a new method that is able to detect hard-to-trace tumour DNA in the blood — or ctDNA. Their technique could outperform the cancer-sniffing capabilities of existing methods by accounting for differences in the size of ctDNA fragments rather than genomic changes in ctDNA. The blood plasma of cancer patients contains DNA that originates from primary or secondary tumours, and researchers have suspected that zeroing in on ctDNA may offer a safe and non-invasive alternative compared to conventional biopsies (requiring only a small blood sample). However, ctDNA is difficult to identify because it is typically outnumbered by much larger quantities of non-cancerous DNA that also circulates in the blood. The authors found that focussing on fragments between 90 and 150 base pairs long (the unit of measurement for genetic material) improved detection of ctDNA from patients with brain, renal and pancreatic cancers. The findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

 

13. What is the Spirit Cave Mummy?

So far, these are oldest naturally preserved human remains to be found in North America. The discovery was made in 1940 in the Spirit Cave, Nevada. U.S. In the late 1990s, they were found to be about 10,000 years old. The skeleton is an adult male who was aged around 40 at the time of his death and was wearing moccasins and wrapped in a rabbit-skin blanket and reed mats. The remains were controversial as anthropologists had displayed them in a museum and categorised them as PalaeoAmerican, or a pre-human. However, DNA analysis — the findings have been published in the journals Science, Science Advances and Cell — found that it was the human ancestor of a Native American tribe.

 

14. Books:

Book – The Case for Reason
Writer – Narendra Dabholkar, Translated by Suman Oak
Description – The work of an activist, who was killed for his fight against social evils, is made available to a wider audience

Book – Kama: The Riddle of Desire
Writer – Gurcharan Das
Description – Using memory as a device to summon the many forms of desire that play upon the mind

Book – As the World Ages: Rethinking a Demographic Crisis
Writer – Kavita Sivaramakrishnan
Description – The United Nations says that by 2050 over two billion people — 20% of humanity — will be 60 or over; Kavita Sivaramakrishnan traces rapid worldwide transformations in conceptions of ageing.

Book – The Big Reverse: How Demonetization Knocked India Out
Writer – Meera H. Sanyal
Description – A banker and member of the Aam Aadmi Party analyses demonetisation, its execution and the pitfalls. On November 8, 2016, at one stroke, 86% of the currency in circulation was demonetised. The government said it was necessary to eliminate black money. Did it help? Sanyal tries to answer questions surrounding this policy.

Book – Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India
Writer – Harsh Mander
Description – Are some Indians more equal than others, asks a human rights activist, as he questions the responsibilities of a secular government, of civil society and of a progressive majority in stopping ‘the gales of hatred’ sweeping across the country. Through stories from his own work, Mander shows that hate speech, communal propaganda and vigilante violence are creating a climate of dread.

Book – Through Two Doors at Once: The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality
Writer – Anil Ananthaswamy
Description – How can a single particle behave both like a particle and a wave? Does a particle exist before we look at it, or does the act of looking create reality? Ananthaswamy travels around the world and through history, down to the smallest scales of physical reality we have yet fathomed.

Book – Art Attacks: Violence and Offence-Taking in India
Writer – Malvika Maheshwari
Description – Since the end of the 1980s in India, self-styled representatives of many groups — religious, caste, regional and linguistic — have been damaging art works, disrupting exhibitions and assaulting artists. Maheshwari maps this phenomenon, arguing that the attacks are dependent on the very logic of democracy’s functioning.

Book – The Fire Burns Blue: A History of Women’s Cricket in India
Writer – Karunya Keshav, Sidhanta Patnaik
Description – The names of Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur may resonate among fans but the fact remains that little is known about the Women in Blue. Two writers trace the story of a few determined girls who got into cricket for the sheer joy of playing it and stayed on against the odds.

 

15. Munaf Patel calls it quits

Munaf Patel, a member of India’s triumphant World Cup squad in 2011, has retired from all forms of competitive cricket. The pace bowler made his decision official on Saturday.

Hailing from Ikhar, a village near Bharuch in Gujarat, Munaf is one of Indian cricket’s most famous rags-to-riches stories.

It is understood that Munaf announced his retirement after signing for the next month’s T10 Cricket League in the United Arab Emirates.

A member of the Rajasthan Royals’ title-winning run in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008, Munaf rose to fame as a genuine fast bowler who reportedly had impressed Sachin Tendulkar in the nets. Munaf made his First Class debut for India-A versus the visiting New Zealanders in 2013, dismissing Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle in both the innings.

 

16. BCCI to skip Lahore meeting

For the first time in 35 years, the BCCI will be marked “absent” at the Annual General Meeting of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to be held in Lahore on Nov. 17.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which is the host, was looking forward to the BCCI’s presence at the AGM, especially with Ehsan Mani, elected PCB chairman on Sept. 4, set to be officially declared as the ACC president.

The BCCI’s acting-secretary, Amitabh Choudhary, who is on the ICC Board as director is on the ACC Executive Board and the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri is an invitee to the ACC Board. Both will not be in Lahore.

It was in September 1983 that the cricket boards of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore met in New Delhi and formed the Asian Cricket Conference.

It was changed to Council in 1993.

 

17. Abbreviations:

Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA)
Oral polio vaccines (OPV)
Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)

 

18. Improve your Vocabulary:

lackey

Meaning 1 – A servant, especially a liveried footman or manservant.
Example – ‘lackeys were waiting to help them from the carriage’
Synonyms – servant, flunkey, footman, manservant, valet, liveried servant, steward, butler, equerry, retainer, vassal, page, attendant, houseboy, domestic, drudge, factotum

Meaning 1.1 – derogatory A person who is obsequiously willing to obey or serve another person.
Example – ‘he denied that he was the lackey of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’
Synonyms – toady, flunkey, sycophant, flatterer, minion, doormat, dogsbody, spaniel, stooge, hanger-on, lickspittle, parasite

 

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.