Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 4, 2018)
1. Nehru memorial society gets four new members
The Centre has made four new appointments to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Society, in place of the three previous members and Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who had resigned from the membership.
2. GSAT-11 returns to Guiana for December launch
GSAT-11, the heaviest Indian communication satellite built to date, for faster Internet connectivity, is back once again at the Guiana Space Centre for an early December launch.
It returns to the South American port for the second time in six months after it was taken back to Bengaluru in April for inspections.
K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Secretary, Department of Space, confirmed on Wednesday that the 5,700 kg spacecraft was shipped out of Bengaluru last week and has reached the European launch port.
“GSAT-11 is already in Kourou. It was flown out last week. We are targeting December 4 for its launch,” Dr. Sivan said.
Arianespace, ISRO’s long-time European launch services contractor, has paired GSAT-11 with South Korea’s weather satellite GEO-Kompsat 2A. The two are slated to go to space on the same Ariane 5 launch vehicle, numbered VA246.
Arianespace’s CEO Stephane Israel tweeted a pictorial welcome on October 29 local time as the satellite arrived at the port halfway across the globe by a special Russian Antonov cargo flight.
GSAT-11 is built to provide superior communication and 12 GBPS connectivity with its multiple spot beams in Ka and Ku bands.
3. Award for report on Naga camps
Namrata Biji Ahuja, a senior journalist at The Week has been chosen for the International Press Institute-India award this year for her story on ‘Naga underground camps’ that explored the “parallel and secret” functioning of a ‘state within a state’, the forum said on Saturday.
The IPI-India Award for Excellence in Journalism, which carries a cash prize of ₹2 lakh, a trophy and a citation, will be given to Ms. Ahuja at a function later in Delhi, it said, adding that the first-hand account reporting has contributed for a “better understanding of the Naga issue”.
4. Veteran ‘villupaattu’ exponent dead
Veteran ‘villupaattu’ exponent, Poongani, 86, the country’s oldest ‘villupaattu’ performer, died at Kottaaram near here on Friday night. Poongani, a recipient of the Om Muthumari Award, instituted by the Department of Journalism, University of Madras, was said to have performed at over a thousand events.
5. The Deputy Chief of Mission of Japan says both nations are committed to a rules-based order
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Japan, India and Japan agreed to a number of joint projects in the neighbourhood and in Africa, seen as an attempt to offer alternatives to countries that may be heavily indebted to China. Speaking on the outcomes of the summit, Japan’s Deputy Chief of MissionHideki Asarisays both Tokyo and have reasons for a constructive relation with Beijing while being committed to a rules-based international order.
This is the fifth bilateral meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe. What was the most important outcome?
It was the fifth bilateral meeting, but their twelfth meeting as Prime Ministers in the past four years. I think it provided a very strong springboard for our special strategic and global partnership across all fields: political, economic, business, strategic connectivity, people to people exchange or global issues. It was important not only for Japan and India but also for the free open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
6. IIT Roorkee team uses tamarind seed protein to treat chikungunya
Researchers have found that a protein found in tamarind seeds reduces the infectivity of chikungunya virus by 64% and the virus RNA levels inside infected cells by nearly 45%. Based on the promising results obtained through in vitro studies, the researchers are planning to test the protein on animals to prevent and/or treat chikungunya infection. Currently, there are no drugs to treat chikungunya or any vaccine to prevent it.
The study published in the journal Virology has for the first time confirmed that the sugar moiety on the surface of alphaviruses has a role in infectivity; this is known for other viruses such as HIV and influenza.
The team led by Shailly Tomar from the Department of Biotechnology at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee found the tamarind protein (tamarind chitinase-like lectin or TCLL) binds to the sugar moiety (N-acetylglucosamine or NAG) present on the surface of chikungunya virus. When TCLL protein binds to the NAG sugar moiety it nearly coats the virus particles thus preventing the virus from binding with the receptors on the host cells. Since binding to the host cell receptors, which is the first step in the infection process, is nearly prevented, the ability of the virus to infect the host cells is compromised.
Based on structural studies carried out by Pravindra Kumar’s team at IIT Roorkee it became clear that the TCLL protein specifically binds to NAG sugar molecules. “Since tamarind seeds are traditionally used in Ayurveda to treat many ailments and conditions, we wanted to know the molecules in the seed. Two proteins were found in abundance. Based on amino acid sequence, we found one protein has both anticoagulant and blood thinning properties while TCLL, which is a lectin protein, binds specifically to NAG sugar molecules,” says Prof. Kumar, who is a coauthor of the paper.
7. NCBS: Loss of small RNA molecule is key to rice domestication
The domestication of rice can be tracked to the loss of a small RNA molecule (miR397), according to a study carried out at the National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru. This can be used to improve crops.
Indica rice, a subspecies of Oryza sativa, was domesticated from two wild species Oryza nivara and Oryza rufipogon. Both the wild species have weak stems and lie prostrate near edges of water bodies. The process of domestication selected useful traits from these: stronger stems, absence of seed shattering, more grains per plant, aroma, colour etc.
For differences seen to manifest in the organism (phenotype), there should be corresponding changes in the genome. However, extensive studies found that the genomes did not show variation proportional to the changes in the phenotype. Researchers failed to identify genes responsible for the changes observed in domesticated Indica rice as compared to its wild relatives. The answer lay in regulatory molecules known as the small RNAs.
8. Counting whales
Scientists can now detect, count and observe four different types of whale, such as humpbacks, fin whales and grey whales, by using high-resolution satellite images. The biologists have identified 10 inaccessible whale populations through a study. This was reported in Marine Mammal Science.
9. Biomarkers for Zika
Scientists have identified biomarkers associated with severe birth defects in babies born to women infected with the Zika virus, a discovery that could lead to screening tests and a better understanding about how the infection leads to foetal abnormalities. The highest risk of birth defects is from Zika virus infection during the first and second trimesters and a prenatal test could relieve concerns of many expectant mothers. Most people infected with the Zika virus, which is spread by the Aedes mosquito, experience no symptoms or mild illness with low-grade fever. But foetuses exposed to Zika in the womb are at risk for devastating neurological defects. One of those defects, microcephaly — a smaller-than-usual head size — gained prominence in 2015 with Brazil reporting an unusual number of cases in babies born to mothers infected with the virus. The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.
10. Getting to the back of the eye
A global team of scientists in Germany, China and Denmark have constructed “microvehicles” for delivering drugs to hard-to-reach structures at the back of the eye. Perhaps the first microparticles of their kind able to navigate to faraway and small targets, and in record time, the slippery structures may help propel the advancement of therapies for the eye. While the surface of the eye can be easily treated through topical administration such as eye drops, these drugs are ineffective for conditions affecting the back of the eye. One strategy for treating the posterior region has been through random, passive diffusion of nanoparticles injected on the surface, where the particles take a long time to travel through the vitreous (eye fluid) to reach their target — during which the drugs can lose efficacy. The new ‘micro-propellers’ circumvent these problems. The findings have been published in Science Advances.
11. What are van der Waals (VdW) materials?
Until six years ago, such materials did not exist but today, researchers believe that they hold the key to a ‘post-silicon’ electronics. VdW materials are made of piles of ultra-thin layers that are held together by weak van der Waals bonds, which arise when atoms are in close proximity. The success of graphene — a well known vdW material — stimulated scientists to look for other 2D crystals, where layers can be changed, added or removed in order to introduce new physical properties such as magnetism. Controlling magnetism, as is typical of such materials, could replace the current hard drive assemblies in computers and even become the key to quantum computing. — Science Daily
Book – Nightmarch: A Journey Into India’s Naxal Heartlands
Writer – Alpa Shah
Description – In 2010 Alpa Shah, a London-based anthropologist, embarked on a seven-day, 250-km trek through jungles and tough terrain from Bihar to Jharkhand, dressed as a man, with a platoon of Naxalites heading to a state-level committee meeting of Maoists. The rare access accorded to Shah for this lengthy and dangerous journey, at the height of the counter-insurgency against the guerrillas, reflected the relationships, trust and understanding that Shah had built up with Adivasi communities — and the Naxalites who regularly visited them.
Book – Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality
Writer – David Edwards, David Cromwell
Description – Two writers argue that several majormedia bodies systematically select what they tell us to serve corporate and governmental interests
Book – India Ahead: 2025 and Beyond
Writer – Bimal Jalan
Description – A former RBI Governor on what is holding India back
Book – Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and Her Greatest Poets
Writer – Saif Mahmood
Description – Eight poets of the past capture Delhi’s joys and sorrows
Book – Free Trade & Prosperity: How Openness Helps Developing Countries Grow Richer and Combat Poverty
Writer – Arvind Panagariya
Description – The former vice-chairman of NITI Aayog and professor at Columbia University offers a defence of pro-free-trade policies with developing countries at its centre. Panagariya supplies a historically informed analysis of many ‘flawed’ arguments for protection. He starts with an insightful overview of the positive case for free trade, and then closely examines the various contentions of protectionists.
Book – India, Empire and First World War Culture
Writer – Santanu Das
Description – Based on 10 years of research, Das recovers the experience of soldiers and civilians from undivided India in the 1914–1918 conflict and their socio-cultural world. Drawing on a variety of sources, he writes on recruitment tactics, battlefields, prisoner camps and post-war reflections on Europe and empire.
Book – Sikkim: Dawn of Democracy
Writer – G.B.S. Sidhu
Description – As head of the Research and Analysis Wing’s Gangtok station in 1973, Sidhu had a ringside view of the events that led to the Chogyal’s ouster. He outlines the intelligence agency’s strategy to achieve the objectives formulated by the government and explains New Delhi’s shift from a pro-Chogyal stance to a pro-democracy position that led to the creation of Sikkim.
Book – The Great Smog of India
Writer – Siddharth Singh
Description – Air pollution is a killer. The issue is exacerbated every winter, when the smog descends on much of northern India. In this period, the health impact from mere breathing is akin to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Singh writes about sectors like transport that contributes to pollution, and also the ‘agricultural shock’ to air quality triggered by crop burning.
Book – The Re-origin of Species
Writer – Torill Kornfeldt
Description – From the Siberian permafrost to balmy California, scientists across the globe are working to resurrect all kinds of extinct animals. Their tools in this hunt are both fossils and cutting-edge genetic technologies. Science journalist Kornfeldt travelled the world to meet the men and women working to bring these animals back to life.
13. Federer vs Djokovic for the 47th time
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will meet for the 47th time on Saturday with a place in the Masters final at stake.
Federer, chasing a 100th career title, moved a step closer to that goal with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Djokovic, who will take over as World No. 1 from Rafael Nadal on Monday, reached the semifinals after recovering from a break down in the final set to defeat Marin Cilic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and rack up his 21st consecutive win.
Djokovic leads Federer 24-22 and has not lost to the Swiss since 2015.
However, the Serb star admits that his challenge on Saturday may be compromised by a heavy cold.
Other results (quarterfinals): Karen Khachanov bt Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-2; Dominic Thiem bt Jack Sock 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
14. HIL to return in 2019
The Hockey India League (HIL), which was last held in 2017 and suspended for the current year with concerns surmounting that the lucrative franchise-based competition was over for good, is now confirmed to return in the latter half of 2019, albeit in a new avatar.
“The league would be remodelled and would now include both men’s and women’s events.
“We are looking at making it 5-a-side instead of 11-a-side.
“It would not make much difference in terms of personnel given the fact that the teams needed to have at least 20 players on their roster.
“Now they would have 10 men and women each,” a senior Hockey India official confirmed on the sidelines of the FIH Congress here.
“The existing franchises are likely to continue and we are still in talks with them, working out details.
15. Nitten-Vlada duo wins silver
Former National champion Nitten Kirrtane clinched the mixed doubles silver in the company of Vlada Kirlovska of Latvia in the ITF World championship for over-40. The top seeds Stefanie Kolar and Marcus Hilpert beat the Indo-Latvian pair 7-6(13), 6-2 in the final.
“It is the first time I am competing in the World Championship. It is fulfilling. It has been a fascinating journey of three decades in tennis, starting with the Wimbledon doubles runner-up with Mahesh Bhupathi to the World Championship silver now’’, said Nitten, when contacted in the United States.
“Vlada injured her ankle badly in the women’s doubles quarterfinals, and had to concede the match. I requested her to play, despite the bad ankle, and she agreed. We pulled through to the final, and lost a tough match. I am very happy that we ended up doing so well,” said Nitten.
In singles, Nitten was beaten by top seed Roberto Menendez Ferre of Spain in the third round.
In doubles, Nittenn in partnership with Dilip Mohanty was beaten by top seeds Marc Leimbach and Andrew Lux of Germany 6-1, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
16. India clinches SAFF U-15 bronze
India registered a 1-0 win over hosts Nepal in a third-place playoff to return with a bronze medal from the SAFF U-15 Championship here.
Thlacheu Vanlalruatfela’s 18th minute goal eventually proved to be enough.
The first half of the game was a rather quiet affair, with both teams not creating many chances and India entering the dressing room with a one-goal cushion.
The two teams got locked in a battle for possession and territory in the middle of the pitch, with the away side having an upper hand.
The goal came in the 18th minute after Vanlalruatfela scored following nice build-up by his teammates.
After a few passes in the final third, the forward was played in on goal and found himself one-on-one against the opposition goalkeeper.
Pushed wide, Vanlalruatfela turned and aimed for goal. Without wasting any time, he slammed the ball into the roof of the net to give India the lead.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML)
(N-acetylglucosamine or NAG)
National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS)
18. Things to Remember:
Governor of Tamil Nadu – Banwarilal Purohit
19. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – A thing consisting of a number of different and distinct parts or items that are grouped together
Example – ‘the Earth is a specialized conglomerate of organisms’
Synonyms – mixture, mix, combination, mingling, commingling, amalgamation, amalgam, union, conjunction, marriage, merging, compound, alloy, fusion, meld, composite, concoction, synthesis, homogenization
Meaning 1.1 – A large corporation formed by the merging of separate and diverse firms.
Example – ‘a media conglomerate’
Synonyms – corporation, combine, group, grouping, consortium, partnership, joint concern, trust, merger, merged businesses, merged companies, merged firms