News Analysis from THE HINDU (September 23, 2018)
Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
1. Vantangiyas finally on revenue map
There is no proper road to Jungle Tinkonia-3.
As its name suggests, one must pass a woodland of sal and teak trees to reach it. The situation gets even more precarious during monsoons and medical emergencies, as the village does not have any health centre.
Its infrastructure is ramshackle, with most residents living in mud houses sheltered by tin roofs and with not a single toilet for a population of 3,300 people.
Yet there is a sense of renewed hope and excitement in this village, buried in a forest near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
In a culmination of decades of extended struggle by its inhabitants, Tinkonia is finally being exposed to the benefits of government schemes and a wider range of employment and utilisation of resources previously prohibited by forest laws.
Previously a forest-bound village, Tinkonia is among the 23 Vantangiya villages in Gorakhpur and Maharajganj that have been declared as revenue villages by the U.P. government, opening the doors of development in these neglected settlements for the first time since Independence.
After being declared a revenue village by Chief Minister Adityanath as a “Deepavali gift” last year, it has been electrified with solar connections, seven water tanks and three hand-pumps have been established, and ration cards issued.
‘Tangia’ is a distortion of the word for the Burmese technique of shifting hill plantation, Taungya, under which the space between the planted trees was used for growing seasonal crops by the labourers. Inspired by the Burmese, this was introduced to U.P. by the British around 1922 to offset the huge loss of trees due to expansion of the railways. Landless labourers, mostly from backward and Dalit castes, were deployed in these forests as settlers, earning them the name Vantangiya.
2. U.S. to end H-1B spouse work permits
The Donald Trump administration is moving ahead with a proposal to end work permits for spouses of H-1B workers in the United States, a federal court has been told.
Spouses of H-1B visa holders, whose green card applications have reached a certain milestone, can get employment authorisation under a 2015 executive order. Dependents of H-1B visa holders get H-4 visas.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on track to complete an internal process within the next three months and announce the new regulation, it said in a submission before a federal appeals court in Washington DC on Friday.
3. WHO says per capita liquor consumption in India increased from 2.4 litres in 2005 to 5.7 litres in 2016
Per capita alcohol consumption in India has more than doubled from 2005 to 2016, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The consumption of alcohol has increased from 2.4 litres in 2005 to 5.7 litres in 2016 with 4.2 litres being consumed by men and 1.5 litre by women, the report said.
he total alcohol per capita consumption (15+ years) is expected to increase in half of the WHO regions by 2025 and the highest increase is expected in the South-East Asia Region. An increase of 2.2 litres is expected in India alone which represents a large proportion of the total population in this region, the report highlighted.
However, increases, although smaller, are also expected in Indonesia and Thailand (with the second- and fourth-largest largest populations).
The second-highest increase is projected for the populations of the Western Pacific Region, where the population of China is the largest, with an increase in per capita consumption of 0.9 litres of pure alcohol by 2025.
2.3 mn deaths
Among men in 2016, an estimated 2.3 million deaths and 106.5 million DALYs were attributable to the consumption of alcohol. Among women 0.7 million died and they experienced 26.1 million DALYs attributable to alcohol consumption.
The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and injury conditions, the report stated. Some 2.3 billion people are current drinkers. Globally more than a quarter (26.5% ) of all 15-19 year-olds are current drinkers, amounting to 155 million adolescents.
4. Winners of 12th edition of PII-ICRC awards announced
The winners of the 12th edition of the PII-ICRC annual awards for best article and photograph on a humanitarian subject, jointly organised by the Press Institute of India and the International Committee of the Red Cross New Delhi Regional Delegation, were announced on Friday. This year, the awards focussed on the theme ‘Changing lives through innovation in health and sanitation’.
Odisha-based independent journalist Rakhi Ghosh won the first prize for her article, ‘Kanas villagers make water safe through simple interventions’, that appeared on the Village Square website. Sarita Santoshini, who is based in Guwahati, bagged the second prize for her article, ‘Text messages save lives in State with highest maternal deaths’. Maitri Porecha was awarded the third prize for her article, ‘Mobile phones hand-hold mothers through pregnancy’, published in the DNA.
Neeraj Gautam, senior photojournalist with the Rajasthan Patrika, won the first prize in the best photograph category. Special awards were also presented in the best article category to Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed from Frontline, Tabassum Barnagarwala from the Indian Express, Mumbai, and Rakhee Roy Talukdar from Grassroots, Jaipur. Indranil Mukherjee from Agence France-Presse got a special award for photography.
5. Sugarcane, paddy a hit this kharif
The biggest increases in acreage this kharif season come from water guzzling crops such as sugarcane and paddy. More resilient crops such as nutri-cereals — ragi, jowar, bajra — have dropped in acreage this year, Agriculture Ministry data reveals.
As on September 20, paddy has been planted over 2.5% more area than usual for the corresponding week. Sugarcane acreage is up a whopping 12% from the norm. On the other hand, the acreage of nutri-cereals has dropped 4.3%, despite the government increasing the MSP for these millets and allowing their inclusion in the Public Distribution System. The acreage of pulses has risen 16% compared to the average over the past five years, but has actually dropped by more than a percent from last year’s acreage.
6. Job prospects of H-4 holders dim
More than 90% of the 1.26 lakh Employment Authorisation Documents (EAD) issued for H-4 visa beneficiaries in the United States since 2015 went to Indians. However, with the Trump administration moving ahead with its proposal to end work permits for spouses of H-1B workers, job prospects of several H-4 visa holders has been put on hold.
The H-4 EAD programme is being challenged by a group of displaced tech workers in the U.S. A federal court had ruled for the continuation of the programme which was appealed by the Save Jobs USA.
The Trump administration which is reviewing all aspects of the H-1B programme, had told the court thrice earlier this year that it was planning to discontinue EAD for H-4. Save Jobs USA’s attorney told Bloomberg that the administration’s tactic was to “delay, delay and delay.” The next status report from the administration, is due on November 19 before the court.
7. Remembering Haifa
On September 23, 1918, Indian soldiers fought Ottoman forces to liberate the city in present-day Israel.
8. MUDRA Loans
What is Mudra?
The Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd. (Mudra) was set up in 2015 under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) to help develop and refinance the ‘non-corporate business’ sector by supporting finance institutions that lend to micro/small business entities engaged in manufacturing, trading and service activities. It is aimed at using micro finance as an economic development tool that helps to provide income-generating opportunities to the people at the bottom of the pyramid, targeting small manufacturing units, shopkeepers, fruits and vegetable vendors, truck and taxi operators, food-service units, repair shops, machine operators, artisans and food processors.
What is the average loan size?
Loans under the Mudra scheme are disbursed under three heads, starting from loans up to ₹50,000 and going up to ₹10 lakh. About ₹2.53 lakh crore had been sanctioned for about 4.81 crore PMMY loans under all three heads in the financial year 2017-18. The average size of a sanctioned loan stood at Rs. 52,706 for the year.
The State Bank of India recently said it had disbursed Rs. 28,556 crore under the PMMY scheme in FY18. Non-performing assets arising out of this scheme is about 5.2% for India’s largest bank, a figure that the bank views as being under ‘acceptable limits’.
The website dedicated to PMMY does not indicate the quantum of loans that have soured or details of collections. In May, the government said a total of ₹6 lakh crore had been disbursed to 12 crore beneficiaries under the Mudra scheme since its inception in 2015. Of these, 3.25 crore were first-time entrepreneurs and 9 crore borrowers were women.
9. Nambi Narayanan, wronged scientist
It took him 24 years to clear his name in a spy scandal case. On September 14, the Supreme Court held that Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan was the victim of a criminal frame-up based on “some kind of fancy or notion.” A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said the Kerala police had trumped up allegations of espionage against the scientist.
What is the case?
On November 30, 1994, Mr. Narayanan was produced before the magistrate court in Thiruvananthapuram by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Kerala police on the charge of trading India’s space secrets to foreign agents for money and other enticements.
What was his position?
Mr. Narayanan, then 50, was the head of the ISRO’s promising Cryogenics Division and was on the ascendant in the organisation. More importantly, he was part of a group of top scientists whom the ISRO had tasked to scout for the cryogenic technology to propel the space programme to greater heights.
Why was he shamed?
Outside the court that day in 1994, the crowd grew restive as it spotted Mr. Narayanan hunkered down between officers in a police van. Salacious stories in the media about how a tall, athletic woman from the Maldives, Mariam Rasheeda, ostensibly working for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, had enticed top ISRO scientists into selling her secret rocket technology triggered indignation. The mob greeted Mr. Narayanan with boos, jeers and catcalls. The police threw a human wall around him. The public shaming would haunt Mr. Narayanan and his family for years.
What happens now?
Mr. Narayanan, who is 74, has, at a steep personal cost, successfully ended a protracted and bitter legal battle to restore his honour and bring his accusers to book. The successive governments in the State had been dismissive of Mr. Narayanan’s demand for action against the errant officers who ruined his life. In 1996, the State government disregarded the CBI’s closure report and ordered a fresh police inquiry against Mr. Narayanan and others. However, the Supreme Court halted the move.
The Supreme Court has decided to hold the errant officers accountable. It has formed a committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge D. K. Jain, to find “ways and means” of prosecuting them. It has also awarded Mr. Narayanan ₹50 lakh in compensation. However, the scientist says the case is far from over. The Jain committee is likely to look into the possible conspiracy behind the episode that dashed several reputations and ruined innocent lives, he feels.
10. Organophosphorus pesticide detection gets simpler
Using metal-organic framework (MOF) made of cadmium chloride and synthesised under ambient conditions, a research team has been able to detect organophosphorus pesticides such as azinphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, and parathion both in water solution and in apples and tomatoes. The MOF is highly sensitive such that the presence of pesticides as low as in parts per billion (ppb) can be detected.
The team led by Dr. Partha Mahata from the Department of Chemistry at Jadavpur University, Kolkata and Dr. Sudip Kumar Mondal of Department of Chemistry, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan found that the ability to detect the three pesticides was unaffected by the presence of surfactants. Surfactants are used to dissolve pesticides in water.
11. New battery may help cut carbon emissions
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new battery made partly from carbon dioxide captured from power plants. While still based on early-stage research and far from commercial deployment, this battery could continuously convert carbon dioxide into a solid mineral carbonate as it discharges, said the study published in the journal Joule.
The researchers believe that the new battery formulation could help reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
The battery is made from lithium metal, carbon and a novel electrolyte.
In lithium–carbon-dioxide batteries, which use the gas as a reactant during discharge, the low reactivity of carbon dioxide has typically required the use of metal catalysts.
These remain expensive, poorly understood, and the reactions are difficult to control.
By incorporating the gas in a liquid state, however, Betar Gallant, Assistant Professor at MIT, and her coworkers found a way to achieve electrochemical carbon dioxide conversion using only a carbon electrode.
The key is to pre-activate the carbon dioxide by incorporating it into an amine solution, the study said.
12. Galileo’s letter
Galileo Galilee’s original letter in which he contradicted the church’s doctrine that the Sun orbits the Earth has been discovered. The language of the original was toned down by Galileo himself, removing inflammatory words. The letter was discovered by science historian Salvatore Ricciardo in the library of the Royal Society of London. It was filed wrongly and hence lost for so many years. The seven page letter was written by him to a friend on December 21, 1613 and is signed G.G. In teh letter he tries to tone down his arguments to avoid angering the church with this idea, an article in Nature says.
The letter has many words scored out and changes made. Dr Ricciardio is a postdoctoral science historian at University of Bergamo in Italy.
13. Rotating slices
Observing the sun has shown that it rotates faster at the equator than at its poles. This differential rotation continues into its interior. Evidence for this comes from the way sunspots move. Now, data on sun-like stars from Kepler space observatory has shown that many of these show a similar differential rotation.
14. Mixing galaxies
The Local Group of galaxies includes the Milky Way. The largest in this are Milky Way, Andromeda, and Triangulum galaxies. Recent observations of the morphology of Triangulum suggest that it has passed so close to Andromeda that tidal forces have distorted it. This has been reproduced by simulations.
15. New genetic disorder identified
In a first, researchers in the U.S. have identified in a human patient a genetic disorder only previously described in animal models. The disorder is caused by mutations in a gene known as ornithine decarboxylase 1 (ODC1) and is defined by a number of clinical features including large birth weight, enlarged head size, hair loss, reduced muscle strength, skin lesions, hearing loss and developmental delays. The disorder has still to be named and its long-term effects, which include impacts on the neurological system, are not completely known. The disorder was first described by researchers in a transgenic mouse model more than 20 years ago. The ODC1 gene plays an important role in a number of physiological and cell developmental processes including embryo and organ development. Scientists involved theorise that the ODC inhibitor, DFMO, a water soluble, FDA-approved drug, may serve as a disease-modifying drug. The study has been published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A.
16. Nanotech platform for renal cancer
Researchers in the U.S. have developed a nanoplatform technology that works in combination with existing chemotherapeutic drugs which may reverse drug-resistance in renal cell carcinoma. Drug resistance to chemotherapy is a significant clinical and financial burden in renal cell carcinoma and other types of cancers. The resistance can be caused by hypoxia, a decreased level of oxygen in tumour cells and infiltration of tumour-promoting immune cells aiding the tumour growth in contrast to fighting against it. Moreover, the nanoparticle has the additional advantage of being able to precisely diagnose renal tumours non-invasively that can be utilised for tumour detection, staging and surgery in clinical settings. Along with reversing drug-resistance and helping the immune system work properly, the researchers claim the technology will also save money by repurposing existing drugs to function better. The study has appeared in the online version of Biomaterials.
17. Clue to mystery viral fever
Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), a newly discovered viral haemorrhagic fever, may be linked to lower levels of the amino acid, arginine, and is associated with low blood platelet count and immune suppression in patients. Researchers in China say the disease is also more likely to be fatal in patients with low arginine levels during early infection. The syndrome was first identified in 2009 in mainland China, with cases reported since in Korea, Japan and the U.S. About 10% of those infected go on to have fatal disease. There is no available treatment or prevention measures yet because so little is known about the disease. Further studies could confirm whether arginine would be a suitable treatment target for SFTS and similar viral diseases. The findings have been published in the latest edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine.
18. What are zombie cells?
Much like the ‘undead’ in apocalyptic movies, zombie cells are the ones that cannot die but are equally unable to perform the functions of a normal cell. Formally known as senescent cells, they have been implicated in a number of age-related diseases. In a mouse model of brain disease, scientists at Mayo Clinic, U.S. report that senescent cells accumulate in certain brain cells prior to cognitive loss. Preventing the accumulation helps to diminish tau protein aggregation, neuronal death and memory loss. Recently, scientists probed the mysteries of zombie cells using a model that imitates aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. When senescent cells were removed, the scientists found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, eliminated signs of inflammation, did not develop what are called neurofibrillary tangles, and had maintained normal brain mass. — Science Daily
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Book – The Rohingya in South Asia
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20. Anderson & Sock beat Federer & Djokovic
Kevin Anderson and Jack Sock spoiled the doubles debut of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic but Team Europe still led Team World 3-1 after the first day of the 2018 Laver Cup.
Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Kyle Edmund all won their opening singles matches Friday to give Team Europe a commanding 3-0 lead going into the evening’s final doubles match.
This is the second instalment of the Laver Cup which has been dubbed the Ryder Cup of tennis — although it lacks the tradition of golf’s premier team event.
The exhibition is taking place on US soil for the first time and features 12 of the world’s top players squaring off against each other in a three-day showcase which wraps up Sunday in Chicago.
21. Silver for India cueists
India bagged the silver medal after losing to Pakistan 3-2 in the final of the Asian Team snooker here.
After Babar Masih put a fluent 81 break to win the first frame against Pankaj Advani, Malkeet Singh restored parity with a 52-break win over Mohammad Asif.
In doubles, Asif pulled back a 62-point deficit, allowing his partner Masih to wrap up the frame 70-72.
Pushed on the back foot, Pankaj crafted a frame-winning 68-break. It was then again down to Malkeet to save the day, but he could not on this occasion.
22. Virdhawal Khade signs off in style
Virdhawal Khade made a cameo appearance and left his indelible mark in the Glenmark 72nd National swimming championship at the B.R. Ambedkar Aquatic complex here on Saturday.
Virdhawal signed off from the meet in style by setting a new meet record in 50m butterfly. He led from start-to-finish and won the race in 24.26 seconds.
The 27-year-old Virdhawal, in the process, broke his own nine-year-old record (24.36) and also met the B-standards qualifying norms for the world meet. Virdhawal’s traditional rivals Supriya Mondal and Sarma S.P. Nair finished second and third respectively.
23. Badminton star Lee being treated for cancer
Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei has early-stage nose cancer and is being treated in Taiwan, sports officials said on Saturday, after weeks of speculation about his health. The country’s most successful Olympian ever, a superstar in his homeland, was responding well to treatment, they said.
24. WFI gets SAI’s approval
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has got the Sports Authority of India’s approval to hire three foreign coaches for one year.
Names of Hossein Karimi of Iran, Temo Kazarashvili of Georgia and Andrew Cook of USA have been cleared as foreign coaches for National men’s freestyle, Greco Roman and women sides respectively.
Karimi was part of the Iranian coaching staff during the 2016 Olympics.
Kazarashvili, who was allegedly involved in corruption while officiating during the Rio Olympics, was an accomplished wrestler during 1970s and ‘80s and serves as a referee with the United World Wrestling.
Cook is associated with the USA under-23 side.
The trio will work with present Indian coaches, Jagminder Singh (freestyle), Kuldeep Singh (Greco Roman) and Kuldeep Malik (women).
However, it may be difficult for the foreign coaches to join the squad before the World championships, starting in Budapest on October 20.
Ornithine Decarboxylase 1 (ODC1)
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI)
Sports Authority of India (SAI)
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI)
26. Things to Remember:
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Chief of the Army Staff – General Bipin Rawat
27. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – (especially of a house or vehicle) in a state of severe disrepair.
Example – ‘a ramshackle cottage’
Synonyms – tumbledown, dilapidated, derelict, ruinous, falling to pieces, decrepit, neglected, gone to rack and ruin, run down, crumbling, decaying, disintegrating, rickety, shaky, unsteady, broken down, unsound, unsafe