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Current Affairs 23 April 2017

 

NEWS

23 April 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III:   SECURITY ISSUES

Taliban attack leaves 140 soldiers dead in Afghanistan

2.

GS II :   SOCIAL- EDUCATION

Wi-Fi for free at all Central universities

3.

GS I :  ART & CULTURE

In the quest of yet another Koh-i-noor

4.

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT

Probe begins into killing of two rhinos in West Bengal

5.

GS II :  POLITY-JUDICIARY

List of judges under govt. review

6.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -BANGLADESH

A step forward for Indo-Bangla ties

7.

GS III :S&T - HEALTH

IISc team unravels how vitamin C helps kill bacteria

8.

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

IIT Bombay: Bird's eye view and quantum biology

9.

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Liver carcinogen traced to sunflower seeds

10.

GS  I:  GEOGRAPHY

More aerosol in atmosphere results in heavier rainfall

11.

GS III:  S&T-HEALTH

A pinprick to detect cancer

12.

GS III:  S&T -HEALTH

Cirrhosis and the cold weather link

13.

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Insights into bacterial function

14.

GS III : S&T HEALTH

What is Normothermic preservation?

15.

GS II :  POLITY

NITI Aayog to present new plan approach

16.

GS II :  POLITY-JUDICIARY

CJI pitches for zero govt. role in arbitration process

17.

GS III: DEFENCE

Govt. plea against military pay upgrade sparks unease

18.

GS III:   ECONOMY-ENERGY

Removal of incentives to hit wind energy projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II:   INTERNATIONAL  AFGHANISTAN

Taliban attack leaves 140 soldiers dead in Afghanistan

  • A day after the lethal Taliban assault on an army base near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, an official said on 22 April 2017 that at least 140 soldiers had been killed. 60 soldiers had been wounded in the attack.
  • The soldiers, most of them unarmed, were shot while eating lunch or emerging from Friday prayers at the headquarters of the Afghan army's 209th Corps in Balkh by assailants in military uniforms, who entered after another attacker had detonated explosives at a check post.
  • Indirectly pointing at Pakistan for offering support to the Afghan Taliban that carried out the attack in Mazar-e-Sharif, India called for dismantling of safe havens of terrorism.

 

GS II :  SOCIAL- EDUCATION

Wi-Fi for free at all Central universities

  • The Centre has set the ball rolling to make Wi-Fi available for free at all Central universities by the end of July so that students can make better use of online resources to pursue academic work.
  • While some institutions already provide Wi-Fi, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has set deadlines for the remaining institutions to provide free access to their students.

 

GS I :  CULTURE

In the quest of yet another Koh-i-noor

  • While India's battle to reclaim the Koh-i-noor diamond continues, summer has given a new lease of life to the mines along the Krishna river that spawned the crown jewel.
  • They have surfaced after months under the waters of the Pulichintala irrigation project in Guntur district.
  • And as the deserted villages in the 2.4 lakh sq. km. catchment area reappear, prospectors flock to the area, hoping to find another Koh-i-Noor.
  • The Kollur mine, the ‘Eldorado' that yielded the enigmatic diamond and the eponymous village in Andhra Pradesh lie in a forested region some 100 km from Vijayawada, enveloped by Pulichintala project or the Dr. KL Rao Sagar project on the Krishna river.
  • The region has been home to diamond mining for centuries, reaching its zenith under the Qutub Shahi dynasty with their capital Golconda a global hub of the trade.
  • Millions of carats of diamonds are believed to have been mined from Kollur between the 15th and the 19th century.
  • The Koh-inoor was mined during 16th century and was sold in Golconda.
  • The mines along the Kollur-Paritala belt were active till the 1830s but were gradually given up.
  • Kollur and the region along the Krishna river surfaced in public attention again in the 1990s when the Maoists held control of the region and distributed close to 1,000 acres to the landless poor.
  • And then in 2004, the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy government initiated the Pulichintala multipurpose irrigation project.
  • After a decade of mass evacuations and migration from the affected villages, including Kollur, during the construction, the project under the Jalayagnyam programme, was inaugurated by the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy in 2013.
  • At present, the entire region remains submerged under 50 feet of water in most of the year.

 

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT  BIODIVERSITY

Probe begins into killing of two rhinos in West Bengal

  • The killing of two rhinos at the Gorumara National Park in north Bengal has raised questions about security and vigilance at the national park, prompting authorities to form a committee to look into whether there were lapses on part of forest officials.
  • Two carcasses of one horned rhinoceroses were exhumed from the national park on 21 April 2017.
  • According to reports, the poachers had killed the rhinos several weeks ago and the bodies were hidden inside the park.
  • It was only after rhino horns were recovered from a group of smugglers in Assam that forest officials came to know about the poaching at Gorumara National Park.
  • In 2014, two cases of rhino poaching were reported in north Bengal.
  • West Bengal has the second highest rhinoceros population in India, after Assam.
  • The Jaldapara National Park has about 200 rhinos and the Gorumara National Park has about 50 rhinos.

 

GS II :  POLITY-JUDICIARY

List of judges under govt. review

  • The Union Law Ministry is examining the list of 51 names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for appointment as judges in various High Courts, with 445 of the total 1,079 posts currently vacant.
  • The Supreme Court Collegium is learnt to have handed over the finalised draft to the Law Ministry, as per which it will have the final say on any objection by the government to any proposed appointment on the ground of national security and public interest.
  • The government's recommendation for setting up of secretariats in the Supreme Court and the 24 High Courts to assist collegiums in the Supreme Court and the High Courts in the selection of judges has also been accepted.
  • However, the suggestion for committees of retired or sitting judges to assist the collegiums in finding suitable candidates has not been accepted.

 

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -BANGLADESH

A step forward for Indo-Bangla ties

  • The Tripura government has commenced the land acquisition process for the construction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over river Feni that demarcates boundaries between the two countries in south Tripura.
  • The process for acquiring land for a four-lane approach road and a connecting road on Indian side in southern Tripura has also begun.
  • Government of India is bearing the entire burden of expenditure towards the construction of the 150-metre bridge which will connect Sabroom of India and Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • Rehabilitation package is ready to compensate people who would be dislodged for construction purposes.
  • The bridge would facilitate implementation of a protocol India earlier signed with Bangladesh to use Chittagong sea port as a ‘port of call'.
  • The port is 72 kilometre away from Sabroom.
  • India is also expanding rail network up to Sabroom to handle cargo consignments that would arrive from Chittagong port.
  • Ultimate connectivity plan is to benefit Tripura and other landlocked northeastern States with international and domestic shipments using the sea port.

 

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

IISc team unravels how Vitamin C helps kill bacteria

  • Vitamin C, an anti-oxidant agent, boosts and strengthens immunity is well known.
  • Its ability to speedup recovery from tuberculosis and impede the TB causing bacteria from causing disease, and even kill the bacteria in culture at high concentration are also known.
  • Now, a study by a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru has found the molecular mechanism by which vitamin C impedes and even kills Mycobacterium smegmatis, a non-pathogenic bacterium that belongs to the same genus as the TB-causing mycobacteria.

 

GS III :S&T -BIOLOGY

IIT Bombay: Bird's eye view and quantum biology

  • While there have been theories about the way migratory birds navigate across the earth, these have not be placed on a firm footing.
  • Now, a group from IIT Bombay has tied this theory with observed features of the birds' biological compass to get a clear picture of how it works.
  • They affirm that it is due to the interplay of chemical reactions, electron spins and the magnetic fields present.
  • Thus, understanding the avian compass is a lesson in quantum biology. This may be of use, one day, in engineering quantum computers.
  • Migratory birds have biological sensors that can sense the earth's magnetic field, and guide them in their long journeys spanning continents.
  • These sensors are located in the eyes, more specifically, in the right eye, as studies on the European Robin reveal.
  • The "compass" in question is generated by an interplay of the electron and nuclear "spins."
  • Spin is a name given to the quantum mechanical properties of these particles that can interact with magnetic fields.

 

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Liver carcinogen traced to sunflower seeds

  • Researchers have shown that sunflower seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin which has the potential to cause liver cancer.
  • In the study published in the journal PLoS ONE, the team of scientists documented frequent occurrence of aflatoxin - a toxin produced by Aspergillus moulds that commonly infect corn, peanuts, pistachios and almonds - in sunflower seeds and their products.
  • The study was conducted in Tanzania, but the problem is by no means isolated there, the researchers said.

GS  I:  GEOGRAPHY

More aerosol in atmosphere results in heavier rainfall

  • Contrary to the general notion that pre-monsoon aerosol loading results in decrease in seasonal rainfall, a long-term (2002-2013) satellite observational study and model-based analysis by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has found that higher aerosol loading results in delayed but more rainfall over Central and Northern India.
  • Higher aerosol loading changes cloud properties in terms of size (both height and width) and microphysics, which results in more rainfall.
  • Once cloud starts forming due to convection, the presence of more aerosol particles tend to modify the warm phase microphysics as well as ice phase microphysics.
  • Two forces - gravity and updraft (vertical velocity) - tend to act on droplets.
  • Under high aerosol loading, rather than falling down as raindrops, the smaller droplets tend to rise upwards in convective atmosphere due to updraft.
  • As the droplets are lifted up they tend to cross the freezing level and turn into ice particles.
  • The process of water droplets turning into ice particles releases more latent heat of freezing and further invigorates the cloud.
  • "Ice turns into water by absorbing heat. Similarly, when water turns into ice it gives off heat. This release of heat further fuels the convection process and the clouds grow taller," says Mr. Sarangi.
  • "Satellite data showed that clouds are getting taller and wider under high aerosol loading," says Prof. Tripathi.
  • As the height of clouds increases, the ice particles generated at top of the cloud come in contact with numerous water and ice particles and become bigger in size.
  • This results in more ice mass in the cloud and eventually more rainfall when the ice particles fall down due to gravity.
  • In the absence of cloud, aerosol particles tend to absorb solar radiation and this leads to warming or less decrease in temperature with height.
  • As a result, there is suppression of convection leading to further suppression of cloud formation.

 

GS III:  S&T-HEALTH

A pinprick to detect cancer

  • While the humble blood test has for long been the touchstone to catch diabetes, malaria and HIV, companies are now drawing on knowledge from human genetics to make blood tests smart enough to fish out several kinds of cancers.
  • NGS (next-generation sequencing)-based liquid biopsies refer to techniques to scan genes and look for mutations that may cause cancer.
  • Liquid biopsies, as these tests are called, involve being able to catch free-floating pieces of a tumour or particular pieces of tumour DNA in the blood.
  • These are then analysed to see if the DNA contains mutations that are known to be linked to particular kinds of cancer.
  • Liquid biopsy tests approximately cost ?15,000-?20,000, making them roughly three-four times as costly as solid biopsies.
  • However, proponents say the world over, liquid biopsies are considered an emerging technology and it was quite likely that in the next five years there would be blood tests powerful enough to find out if a seemingly healthy person has been struck by cancer.
  • India is likely to have over 1.73 million new cases of cancer and over 8,80,000 deaths due to the disease by 2020.
  • Around 70% of all cancer patients approach the doctor when the disease has advanced and chances of a cure are very low.

 

GS III : S&T -HEALTH

Cirrhosis and the cold weather link

  • New data presented at the International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, suggests that colder and less sunny regions of the world have higher rates of alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease caused by excessive drinking which results in irreversible scarring of the liver.

 

 

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Insights into bacterial function

  • A study from Indiana University, U.S. has found evidence that extremely small changes in how atoms move in bacterial proteins can play a big role in how these microorganisms function and evolve.
  • The research, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a major departure from prevailing views about the evolution of new functions in organisms, which regarded a protein's shape, or "structure," as the most important factor in controlling its activity.
  • "This study," says the senior author of the study, "gives us a significant answer to the following question: How do different organisms evolve different functions with proteins whose structures all look essentially the same?" "We've found evidence that atomic motions in proteins play a major role in impacting their function."

 

GS III : S&T  HEALTH

What is Normothermic preservation?

  • Normothermia is the condition at which a body is at normal temperature, which is essential for healthy cell functioning.
  • Physicians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Surgery, U.S., have transplanted Alabama's first patient with a cadaver liver that was recovered from the donor and "kept alive" and preserved at body temperature instead of the standard cold solution - a technique that enables the patient to receive a liver that surgeons can watch produce bile before it is transplanted.
  • The transplant was performed as part of a clinical trial using a normothermic machine perfusion technique.
  • Surgeons place the cadaver liver in the normothermic machine, which then pumps the organ with warm, oxygenated blood and nutrition at or just below body temperature for up to 24 hours before transplant.

 

GS II :  POLITY  PLANNING

NITI Aayog to present new plan approach

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the governing council of the NITI Aayog on 23 April 2017, where a three-year policy action plan to replace the old five-year plan will be discussed.
  • Besides the new planning process, the council is likely to take up for discussion issues such as increasing farmer incomes and urban development.
  • The Council, that includes all chief ministers as members, will be presented with "detailed plans on doubling of farmers' income."
  • The Prime Minister had in February last year urged all state governments to give priority to boosting the agriculture sector with a target of doubling farmers' income by 2022.
  • "For the short-term, the Aayog is likely to recommend measures such as direct purchase from farmers by private players, direct sale by farmers to consumers, to allow farmers to get the larger share of the prices that the end consumer pays. One of the long term strategies will be to encourage farmers to move to high-value products such as Animal Husbandry and Fishery," the official said.
  • The practice of five-year plans, being followed for over six decades, ended with the 12th Plan that concluded on March 31 this year.
  • NITI Aayog which was set up in December 2014 after abolishing the Planning Commission, will now come out with a 15-year vision document that is to be supplemented by a seven-year strategy and three-year action plans.
  • According to a senior government official, the three-year action plan will also include a strategy to spruce up the law and order situation.
  • "This is the first time that an economic policy document will also focus on judicial reforms and how to improve law and order and the police system. There will be an entire chapter dedicated to it," the official added.
  • The Aayog is also likely to place before the council a report card on its two years as an institution.

GS II :  POLITY-JUDICIARY

CJI pitches for zero govt. role in arbitration process

  • Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on 22 April 2017 favoured keeping the government away from the arbitration process to help promote confidence of the business community in international arbitration available.
  • He hoped that the Narendra Modi government's ‘Make in India' initiative would give a fillip to International Commercial Arbitration (ICA) in the country.
  • "The zero interference... will give room for understanding of foreign traders in India that the process is neutral."
  • Lauding the efforts of the judiciary and the government to encourage arbitration in India, Justice Khehar said the Supreme Court also adopted the consistent practice of providing arbitrators from a neutral country.
  • "So, in my view, these two initiatives, one by the government of having a zero role and the other by the courts when they appoint arbitrators in an international arbitration from a neutral country, will promote further the confidence of the trading community in international arbitration," he said.

 

GS III: DEFENCE

Govt. plea against military pay upgrade sparks unease

  • Setting off widespread discontent among military personnel, the Centre on 21 April 2017 moved the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which grants Non- Functional Upgrade (NFU) to the armed forces.
  • The Special Leave Petition (SLP), filed by the Centre, came even as the military personnel are yet to receive their new salaries recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission.
  • According to a Ministry of Defence official, the decision to challenge the ruling of the AFT to grant NFU was prompted by its legal stand that the tribunal has no authority to take such a sweeping decision.
  • The source, in fact, argued that the government was not against NFU for services.
  • NFU has been one of the core anomalies raised by the services in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, which are yet to be implemented for military personnel.
  • The NFU entitles all officers of a batch, including those not promoted, to draw the salary and grade pay that the senior-most officer of their batch would get after a certain period.
  • For instance, batch mates of a Secretary to the Government of India, who have not been promoted, will be entitled to the same pay after a certain period of time.
  • The Sixth Pay Commission had granted NFU to most Group ‘A' officers but not the military and paramilitary officers. Since then, the armed forces had been demanding a one-time notional NFU to ensure parity.

 

GS III:   ECONOMY-ENERGY

Removal of incentives to hit wind energy projects

  • With incentives offered for wind energy investments having come down this financial year, installations by small investors - those who have less than 10 MW - is expected to drop drastically.
  • Of the 32 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the country, 60% are by small investors.
  • According to K. Kasthurirangaian, chairman of Indian Wind Power Association, the accelerated depreciation has gone down from 80% to 40%, after generation-based incentive and 10-year tax free benefit for profits from investments in wind energy were withdrawn.
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