Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 25, 2018)
1. Odisha now has a lexicon for rare tribal languages
In what is seen as a significant step to keep vanishing tribal languages in circulation, the Odisha government has come out with lexicons of 21 such languages.
The bilingual tribal dictionaries will be used in multilingual education (MLE) initiated by the State government at the elementary level in tribal-dominated districts.
Mr. Patnaik said the tribal museum had been upgraded as the Odisha State Tribal Museum.
Odisha has a unique place on the tribal map of India for having the maximum number of Scheduled Tribe communities. The State is home to 62 different tribal communities, including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups. These tribes speak 21 languages and 74 dialects. Of the 21 tribal languages, seven have their own scripts. However, Odia is used as the medium of communication in the dictionaries.
2. Water flow in Ganga ‘woefully inadequate’
Former Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar has said that “minimum flow” in the Ganga notified by the government on October 9 is “woefully inadequate.” Additionally, an analysis by Professor Vinod Tare of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur of the actual water flow at barrages downstream of Haridwar and using data provided by the Central Water Commission, suggests that actual flow today already exceeds the government’s prescriptions. These findings emerged at the India Rivers Week conference on Saturday.
While the government has promised to reduce pollution in the Ganga by 70% by March 2019, environmentalists say that this relies on setting up sewage plants rather than ensuring that the natural flow of the river isn’t blocked. The blocks in the river hobble its propensity to clean itself.
However, the notification said that the upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain 20% of the monthly average flow between November and March, which is the dry season; 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.
3. Centre looks abroad for ideas
The Centre is in talks with experts from Germany, Laos, Austria and Egypt, among others, to evolve a Ganga River Basin Management Plan.
Though it already has a preliminary draft from a consortium of seven IITs, it is in the process of soliciting wider consultation from countries that have such river basin management plans.
At a two-day workshop organised by the German Society for International Cooperation, and the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the Centre discussed the experiences of countries in managing rivers such as the Danube, Rhine, Mekong. “Right now the focus, as far as the Ganga is concerned, is on fixing the sources of pollution. However cleaning is a continuous process…we also need to think of its future,” said Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, director-General, NMCG.
There is already a draft ‘Ganga law’ in the anvil that is meant to ensure the health and ecological viability of the river. This, however, is still being deliberated by various Ministries and, according to officials, is being readied for the approval of the Cabinet before the year ends. “The river basin plan is much more comprehensive,” said Mr. Mishra.
4. Bids invited for ground handling services
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has invited bids for ground handling services at 38 airports, including some of its busiest airports such as Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Goa.
Ground handling activities include passenger services such as check-in and baggage handling, aircraft handling, servicing and cleaning as well as cargo handling services. In May, the AAI had invited bids for 55 other airports, most of which were airports being connected under the government’s regional connectivity scheme.
For 10 years
Proposals have been invited from airlines, ground handling agencies, airports and their joint ventures for a period of 10 years.
The entity that quotes the highest royalty will be the winning bidder. The bid document floated by the AAI on November 20 defines this sum as compensation or fee paid for providing ground handling services to the airport in addition to rent for space provided to the winning bidder at an airport.
5. Venkaiah to lay stone for corridor
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu will lay the foundation stone for the construction of the the visa-free corridor from the Indian side to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan on November 26.
Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh will be present.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for construction work on its side of the border on November 28.
Pakistan has invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the ceremony, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted on Saturday. However, Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri will represent India, Ms. Swaraj said, citing prior commitments for her inability to attend the function.
The Union Cabinet recently approved a proposal to build the corridor. Pakistan accepted New Delhi’s request to open the corridor ahead of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November 2019.
6. is Facebook caught in a crisis?
What are the problems?
Facebook has faced a set of festering and interconnected problems, many of which have come to a boil over the last two years, starting around the time of the U.S. presidential election. These were described in a New York Times investigation, the results of which were published about 10 days ago. The crises stem from several sources, most notably Russian operatives interested in influencing the outcome of the 2016 election through information warfare, controversies over Facebook’s internal response to the Russian campaign and the consequent tensions between Facebook’s cybersecurity chief Alex Stamos and others, especially its CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
How did the company respond?
Facebook’s response was problematic externally, too. At Congressional hearings and elsewhere in Washington, Facebook was criticised for using its political connections to skirt responsibility for its slow and inadequate response to the Russian threat and to deflect blame on to other technology companies. Other problems included Facebook’s response to the (then) candidate Donald Trump’s Facebook post about a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., which was shared over 15,000 times. Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg delegated the handling of this, and ultimately a decision to avoid conservative backlash was part of what went into leaving the post online. The New York Times reported that in October 2017, Facebook had increased its engagement with Definers Public Affairs, a Washington-based PR firm, and adopted a strategy to push positive content about itself and negative content about its competitors. Eventually, Definers looked into the financing activities of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is also frequently the target of anti-Semitic and right-wing groups. Definers circulated a paper this summer, pointing the finger at Mr. Soros as the backer of the anti-Facebook lobby. But by then matters had gotten worse. In March this year, an investigation by The Observer and The New York Times revealed that information from tens of millions of accounts was used by Cambridge Analytica (or researchers it partnered with), a company that worked with the Trump campaign, without explicit user consent. Facebook faced fines, lawsuits and questioning by lawmakers in Washington, London and Brussels.
7. IIT-M’s strategies to improve traffic efficiency
Traffic signals have been in use ever since automobiles became the preferred mode of travel. Yet, little has been done to improve their functioning, in comparison with innovations in automobile design. A group at IIT Madras has studied Indian traffic conditions and come up with three counter-intuitive strategies to improve efficiency of oversaturated traffic flow through road intersections.
In a preliminary study, Radhakrishnan, at present an assistant transport planner with Atkins, and Gitakrishnan Ramadurai from the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, collected data on the variation of headway, which is the distance between the leader vehicle and the following one. Observing vehicles at the traffic signals near three places in Chennai (Tidel Park, Tiruvanmiyur junction and Adyar depot), they found that the distance between two successive vehicles (headway) increases with duration of the green signal. This implies that longer the duration of green signal, there would be less throughput, thereby reducing the efficiency of the signal. Developing on this study, Dr Ramadurai arrived at the first strategy: keeping the duration of green signals short enough that the headway reaches a saturation value, in his paper in Communication Systems and Networks, conference proceedings published by IEEE.
8. Celestial pinwheel
About 8,000 light years away, Apep is a supernova that ejects powerful, narrow jets of plasma. Astronomers were surprised to find one such in our galaxy itself. Surrounded by a dust ‘pinwheel’ , the supernova adds new insights into theory of how stars die.
9. Clue to chronic liver disorder unearthed
Scientists in the U.S. have identified a harmful response in liver cells that underlies the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH),
a widespread chronic liver disorder. Their findings clarify the molecular processes that lead to disease onset and hint that targeting this response could potentially be a viable therapeutic approach. Obesity-related liver diseases such as NASH are on the rise. One of the most important contributors to the severity of these disorders is fibrosis, a condition characterised by excessive formation of connective tissue. Activating the Notch family of receptors (which regulates the development of liver cell precursors) correlated with NASH symptom severity in patient biopsy samples, and administering a type of drug called an antisense oligonucleotide successfully reduced liver fibrosis in NASH diet-fed mice. The findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.
10. How breast tumours thrive
Breast tumours can boost their growth by recruiting stromal cells originally formed in the bone marrow. The study shows that the recruitment of bone marrow-derived fibroblasts lowers the odds of surviving breast cancer, but suggests that targeting these cells could be an effective way of treating the disease. The scientists discovered that in mice with breast cancer, a significant number of cancer-associated fibroblasts are derived from bone marrow cells called mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). The bone marrow-derived fibroblasts are different from other cancer-associated fibroblasts. They lack, for example, a key cell signalling protein. But bone marrow-derived fibroblasts are particularly effective at stimulating the formation of new blood vessels because they produce large amounts of a protein called clusterin. Tumours containing bone marrow-derived fibroblasts were therefore more vascularised and grew faster than tumours that only contained breast-derived fibroblasts. The findings have been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
11. What are Hantaviruses?
First identified in 1993, hantaviruses cause severe and sometimes fatal respiratory infections and are known to infect lung cells. Though relatively rare, infections caused by them are expected to increase in the coming decades as temperatures across the globe rise due to climate change. The danger is that we are totally unprepared for this possibility. Hantavirus is transmitted to humans who inhale the virus from the urine, faeces, or saliva of infected rodents. Infection with hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Early HPS symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, followed after a week or so by coughing and shortness of breath. HPS has a mortality rate of around 40%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No treatments or vaccines are available. A study on hantaviruses has been published in Nature, and itsfindings could point to a strategy to fight HPS.
12. The nervous “switch” that controls eating
A research team has identified a central “switch” in the nervous system that controls how hungry and fed snails respond to food stimuli in different ways. Their findings help explain how animals can adapt their food intake through shifts in perception of food value, and, more broadly, explain how neural circuits drive decision-making behaviour. Researchers have long known that hunger can alter how organisms perceive the value of a stimulus; for example, hungry animals are more likely to make risky decisions such as eating potentially harmful food. However, it remains unclear how the nervous system translates these shifts in perception into distinct behavioural adaptions in organisms.
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14. Mary Kom keeps her tryst with destiny
M.C. Mary Kom’s great stature touched a new high when she claimed her sixth title in the World women’s boxing championships at Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex here on Saturday.
The 35-year-old saw off Hanna Okhota of Ukraine with a 5-0 margin in the 48kg final to take her first gold medal after eight years. This was her second Worlds crown on home soil and second in light flyweight. Her first four gold medals had come in pinweight.
With six gold medals and a silver, the diminutive Mary now stands as the tallest woman boxer in the 17-year-old history of the event and equals legendary male boxer Cuban Felix Savon’s World championships record.
In a hard-fought duel between two southpaws, Mary showcased her beautiful assortment of right jabs and well-rehearsed combinations to seize the initiative.
15. Vidarbha CA complies with CoA directives
The Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) has responded to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) directives by amending its Constitution and bringing it line with the new BCCI Constitution that was endorsed by the Supreme Court.
The VCA was put in the ‘partially compliant’ category in the Tenth Status Report submitted by the CoA to the Supreme Court in late October. The BCCI’s new Constitution, prepared by the CoA, is based on the bylaws written by the Justice Lodha Panel.
The VCA executive committee, on Monday (Nov. 19), adopted resolutions giving effect to the suggestions made by the CoA, mainly on the composition of the Executive Committee.
The VCA had adopted most of the Lodha Reforms in Sept. 2016, but did not accept the nine member Apex Council format of Executive Committee. The SGM held more than two years ago authorised its EC to amend the Constitution on the basis of the Supreme Court decision.
16. Bhavani Devi wins C’wealth fencing gold
India’s C.A. Bhavani Devi made history on Saturday by becoming the first Indian to win the gold medal in the senior Commonwealth fencing championship here. Bhavani participated in the sabre event.
The Chennai-born fencer beat England’s Emily Ruaux 15-12 after a semifinal win over Scotland’s Catriona Thomson.
The fencer, who also trains in the Sports Authority of India in Kannur, has been training in Italy for the last few years.
Sagar Lagu, her coach in SAI Kannur, was overjoyed with his ward’s performance and said it is India’s greatest achievement in the sport.
“The best trait of Bhavani is her never-say-die attitude. Although she didn’t taste success as much as she wanted to in recent years, she never lost hope and was never demotivated,” he said.
17. Hamilton takes 11th pole of the season
Five-time World champion Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes front-row lockout with a blistering pole position at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday.
The pole was a record-extending 83rd of the Briton’s career and 11th of the season, as well as the fifth year in succession that Mercedes have swept the front row at the floodlit Yas Marina circuit.
Hamilton’s pole lap of one minute 34.794 seconds was also a track record.
Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas secured his front-row slot, last year’s race winner being 0.162 seconds off the pace, with the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen filling the second row.
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19. Things to Remember:
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.
Example – ‘he repented of his action’
Synonyms – feel remorse for, regret, be sorry for, rue, reproach oneself for, be ashamed of, feel contrite about, wish that one had not done something