20th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Protection from pesticides (GS3: Science)
Issue: Indian researchers have developed a gel which, when applied on the skin, can inhibit some pesticides from getting absorbed into the body, thus averting serious adverse effects and even death.
Current pesticides form of usage in India
Organophosphate-based pesticides, which are commonly used by farmers in India, are toxic to the nervous system and heart, and can cause cognitive dysfunction.
When esters present in organophosphate-based pesticides enter the body they bind and inhibit an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase or AChE) critical for nerve and muscle function. This causes neurological disorders, suffocation, paralysis, and even death.
About the gel
The gel does not act like a physical barrier but chemically deactivates the pesticides thereby limiting the inhibition of the enzyme
‘Stubble burning’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: The Centre and the States — Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — have in several meetings through the year declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble for farmers, which, according to various studies, contributes anywhere from 17% to 78% to the particulate matter-emission load in the city during winter.
Other actions taken by the government
- To discourage farmers in Punjab and Haryana — who are responsible for the bulk of such fires — the government has also disbursed ₹591 crore to these States to sell subsidized farm implements that can do away with stubble without having to burn them.
- Between September 27 and October 14, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) imposed ₹8,92,500 as fines — or “environmental compensation cess” as it is officially called — on farmers burning paddy stubble.
However, despite a vigorous focus by governments on making mechanised farm implements — combine harvesters-cum-straw management system, seed drillers, rotary harvesters — available to farmers, it’s still inaccessible to many farmers with landholdings less than 5 acres or those not rich enough to invest in such machines.
China-Hong Kong sea bridge(Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The world’s longest sea bridge Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will be thrown open for traffic on October 24
The 55-kilometer-long bridge, situated in the Lingdingyang waters of the Pearl River Estuary, will be the world’s longest sea bridge
It will slash the travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from three hours to just 30 minutes, further integrating the cities in the Pearl River Delta.
Amphibious aircraft (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: China’s indigenously designed and built amphibious aircraft AG600, touted as the world’s largest, successfully carried out its first take-off and landing tests on Saturday.
About the aircraft
Designed to be the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, AG600 is powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines and has a range of 12 hours. It will be mainly used for maritime rescue, fighting forest fires and marine monitoring
What is an amphibious aircraft?
An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an aircraft that can take off and land on both land and water. Fixed-wing amphibious aircraft are seaplanes (flying boats and floatplanes) that are equipped with retractable wheels, at the expense of extra weight and complexity, plus diminished range and fuel economy compared to planes designed for land or water only
Flood alert (GS3: Disaster management)
Issue: Several districts along the Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh have been put on high alert keeping in mind the possibility of flash floods after China informed India about a landslide blocking a river in Tibet leading to the formation of an artificial lake,
China has activated the ‘Emergency Information Sharing Mechanism’ with India following the landslide on Wednesday morning near Jiala Village in Milin County in the lower ranges of Yaluzangbu river in Tibet
Yaluzangbu river is called Siang when it enters Arunachal Pradesh and the Brahmaputra in Assam from Tibet.
About River Siang
Brahmaputra River, locally known as Siang in Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the major rivers of Asia, a trans-boundary river which flows through China, India and Bangladesh. With its origin in the Manasarovar Lake region, located on the northern side of the Himalayas in Burang County of Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River, it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges (including the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon) and into Arunachal Pradesh (India). It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken with Yamuna of India). In the vast Ganges Delta, it merges with the Padma, the popular name of the river Ganges in Bangladesh, and finally the Meghna and from here it is known as Meghna before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
Non-Banking financial company (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to increase the single-borrower exposure limit of banks for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) which do not finance infrastructure, to 15% from the existing 10% of their capital funds.
The Reserve Bank has also permitted banks to use government securities, equal to their incremental outstanding credit to NBFCs, over and above their outstanding credit to them as on October 19,to meet the liquidity coverage ratio requirement.
What is a Non-Banking financial company (NBFC)?
A Non – Banking Financial Corporation is a company incorporated under the Companies Act 2013 or 1956 which is engaged in the business of Loans and Advances, Acquisition of stocks, equities, debt etc issued by the government or any local authority. The main objective of this type of a company is to accept deposits under any scheme or manner.
According to section 451(c) of the RBI Act, a Non – Banking Company carrying on the business of a financial institution will be an NBFC. It is governed by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs as well as the Reserve Bank of India.
The following NBFC’s are not required to obtain any registration with the Reserve Bank of India:
- Core Investment Companies – (assets are less than 100 crore or public funds not taken)
- Merchant Banking Companies
- Companies which are engaged in the business of stock-broking
- Housing Finance Companies
- Companies engaged in the business of Venture Capital.
- Insurance companies holding a certificate of registration issued by IRDA.
- Chit Fund Companies as defined in the Sec 2 clause (b) of the Chit Fund Act, 1982
- Nidhi Companies
Different types of NBFC
- On the basis of nature of activity
- On the basis of deposits
Payments regulatory board (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opposed the move to have an independent Payments Regulatory Board (PRB) as envisaged by the draft proposal for amendments to the Payment & Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
In a dissenting note to the Inter-Ministerial Committee for finalization of amendments, the RBI said, “There is no case of having a regulator for payment systems outside the RBI.” The Watal Committee, it said, had recommended the establishment of the PRB within the overall structure of the RBI. “Since banks are regulated by the RBI, a holistic regulation by RBI will be more effective and not result in increased compliance costs,”
Current system of payment regulation in India
Oversight of the payment and settlement systems is a central bank function whereby the objectives of safety and efficiency are promoted by monitoring existing and planned systems, assessing them against these objectives and, where necessary, inducing change. By overseeing payment and settlement systems, central banks help to maintain systemic stability and reduce systemic risk, and to maintain public confidence in payment and settlement systems.
The Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 and the Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations, 2008 framed there under, provide the necessary statutory backing to the Reserve Bank of India for undertaking the Oversight function over the payment and settlement systems in the country.
Artificial moon (GS3: Science)
Issue: China is planning to launch its own ‘artificial moon’ by 2020 to replace streetlamps and lower electricity costs in urban areas
Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan province, is developing “illumination satellites” which will shine in tandem with the real moon, but are eight times brighter
By reflecting light from the sun, the satellites could replace streetlamps in urban areas, saving an estimated 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million) a year in electricity costs for Chengdu, if the man-made moons illuminate an area of 50 square kilometers.
China is not the first country to try beaming sunlight back to Earth. In the 1990s, Russian scientists reportedly used giant mirrors to reflect light from space in an experimental project called Znamya or Banner.
Azad Hind government (GS1: Indian History)
Issue: The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, would be hoisting the National flag and unveiling the plaque to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government on 21st October, 2018, at the Red Fort, Delhi.
About Azad Hind Government
The Azad Hind Government, founded on 21st October, 1943 was inspired by Neta ji Subhash Chandra Bose who was the leader of Azad Hind Government and also the Head of State of this Provisional Indian Government-in-exile. It was a part of the freedom movement, originating in 1940s outside India with a purpose of allying with Axis powers to free India from British rule. The existence of the Azad Hind Government gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British. Pertinently, the role of Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA) had been crucial in bequeathing a much needed impetus to India’s struggle for Independence.
Forex reserve (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India made the biggest dent in its foreign exchange reserves in seven years as the central bank stepped up action to prop up Asia’s worst-performing currency.
Reserves dropped by $5.14 billion in the seven days ended October 12, the biggest weekly decline since November 2011, as the Reserve Bank of India sold dollars to shore up the rupee, helping it end a losing streak that extended for six weeks. Most of the drop in reserves seems to be because of accelerated central bank intervention
Foreign funds took out about $13 billion from local bonds and stocks so far this year, resulting in the rupee declining about 13%. The rupee gained 0.4% on Friday to 73.3250 per dollar.
Shakthi Bhatt prize ( Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: A New York subway conductor’s story of growing up in a Dalit community in India won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2018. Fifty-five-year-old Sujatha Gidla’s electrifying debut, Ants Among Elephant: An Untouchable Family And The Making Of Modern India, published by HarperCollins India, beat five other titles in the shortlist to claim the prestigious award.
About the award
Instituted in memory of editor Shakti Bhatt, the prize honours first-time writers for an outstanding work of fiction or non-fiction. The winner receives a cash award of Rs2 lakh and a trophy.