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Question and Answer
Q. 402. INSPIRE 2017
INSPIRE 2017 is an International Conference that brings together various stakeholders such as policy makers, innovators, financiers, influencers to showcase best practices in the sector. It provides a platform for energy efficiency community to discuss energy efficiency policies, market transformation strategies, emerging technologies, delivery and business-model driven transformations.
The first edition of the International Symposium to Promote Innovation & Research in Energy Efficiency (INSPIRE 2017) has recently begun in Jaipur.
INSPIRE is being organized by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) in partnership with The World Bank, and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).
The event is further designed to provide global and national thought-leaders and implementers to expand perspectives on energy efficiency and spur ideas and solutions that will help leverage the full potential of energy efficiency and bring its multiple co-benefits to the fore.
The highlight of INSPIRE is the high-level deliberations driven by policy makers and experts from Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), The World Bank Group, The Energy Institute (TERI), International Energy Agency (IEA), Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), USA and representatives of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) - a high-level global forum to promote policies and programmes that advance clean energy technology.
Through an innovative market-led approach towards energy efficiency, India has charted its progress towards being a low-carbon economy, through implementation of large scale zero subsidy initiatives like Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA), Street lighting National Programme, Electric vehicles, Smart Meter programme, Solar Rooftop projects etc.
Q. 401. World's smallest data recorder
World’s smallest data recorder
Researchers have converted a natural bacterial immune system into the world’s smallest data recorder. The research has laid the groundwork for a new class of technologies that use bacterial cells for everything from disease diagnosis to environmental monitoring.
The researchers modified an ordinary laboratory strain of the human gut microbe Escherichia coli. This will enable the bacteria to not only record their interactions with the environment but also time-stamp the events.
Other applications include environmental sensing and basic studies in ecology and microbiology, where bacteria could monitor otherwise invisible changes without disrupting their surroundings, according to the study published in the journal Science.
A microscopic data recorder was created by taking advantage of CRISPR-Cas, an immune system in many species of bacteria. CRISPR-Cas copies snippets of DNA from invading viruses so that subsequent generations of bacteria can repel these pathogens more effectively.
As a result, the CRISPR locus of the bacterial genome accumulates a chronological record of the bacterial viruses that it and its ancestors have survived. When those same viruses try to infect again, the CRISPR-Cas system can recognize and eliminate them.
“CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. In the field of genome engineering, the term “CRISPR” or “CRISPR-Cas9” is often used loosely to refer to the various CRISPR-Cas9 and -CPF1, (and other) systems that can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations, as well as for other purposes, such as for new diagnostic tools. With these systems, researchers can permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome in order to treat genetic causes of disease.
Q. 400. Aditya-L1
Aditya or Aditya-L1 is a spacecraft whose mission is to study the Sun. It was conceptualised by the Advisory Committee for Space Research in January 2008. It has been designed and will be built in collaboration between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and various Indian research organizations and will be launched by ISRO around 2019 or 2020. This will be the first Indian space mission to study the Sun, and also the first Indian mission to be placed at Lagrangian point L1-- far away from the Earth from where continuous solar observations are possible. Only NASA and ESA have successfully placed satellites at the L1 (Lagrange point) point as of date.
A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt by a much smaller third body. The interaction of the forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft may be "parked" to make observations.
Q. 399. International Geological Congress (IGC)
International Geological Congress (IGC)
The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of geology. The IUGS was founded in 1961 and is a Scientific Union member of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which it recognizes as the coordinating body for the international organization of science. IUGS is a joint partner with UNESCO for the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) and they also participate in the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN). A broad range of Scientific topics are covered by its Commission, Task Groups, Joint Programmes, Affiliated Organizations. IUGS promotes and encourages the study of geological problems, especially those of worldwide significance, and supports and facilitates international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the earth sciences.
The 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) is going to be held in Delhi, India in the year 2020. India, along with its co-host neighboring countries viz., Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka & Pakistan won the bid to host the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC). IGC is described as the Olympics of Geosciences. The IGCs are held quadrennially under the aegis of the IUGS through a process of global bidding.
Q. 398. Credit Ratings
Credit Ratings What is a 'Credit Rating'
It is an assessment of the creditworthiness of a borrower in general terms or with respect to a particular debt or financial obligation.
A credit rating can be assigned to any entity that seeks to borrow money – an individual, corporation, state or provincial authority, or sovereign government.
Credit assessment and evaluation for companies and governments is generally done by a credit rating agency such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s or Fitch.
These rating agencies are paid by the entity that is seeking a credit rating for itself or for one of its debt issues.
Why are Credit Ratings important?
Credit ratings for borrowers are based on substantial due diligence conducted by the rating agencies. While a borrower will strive to have the highest possible credit rating since it has a major impact on interest rates charged by lenders, the rating agencies must take a balanced and objective view of the borrower’s financial situation and capacity to service/repay the debt.
A credit rating not only determines whether or not a borrower will be approved for a loan, but also the interest rate at which the loan will need to be repaid. Since companies depend on loans for many start-up and other expenses, being denied a loan could spell disaster, and a high interest rate is much more difficult to pay back.
Credit ratings also play a large role in a potential buyer's determining whether or not to purchase bonds. A poor credit rating is a risky investment; it indicates a larger probability that the company will not pay off its bonds.
Credit rating changes can have a significant impact on financial markets. A prime example of this effect is the adverse market reaction to the credit rating downgrade of the U.S. federal government by Standard & Poor’s on August 5, 2011. Global equity markets plunged for weeks following the downgrade.
Factors Affecting Credit Ratings and Credit Scores
There are a few factors credit agencies take into consideration when assigning a credit rating to an organization.
First, the agency considers the entity's past history of borrowing and paying off debts. Any missed payments or defaults on loans negatively impact the rating.
The agency also looks at the entity's future economic potential.
If the economic future looks bright, the credit rating tends to be higher; if the borrower does not have a positive economic outlook, the credit rating will fall.
Q. 397. Logistics Sector
The Logistics Sector has been granted Infrastructure status. The need for integrated Logistics sector development has been felt for quite some time in view of the fact that the logistics cost in India is very high compared to developed countries. High logistics cost reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export market. Development of logistics would give a boost to both domestic and external demand thereby encouraging manufacturing and 'job creation'. This will in turn be instrumental in improving country's GDP.
It will enable the Logistics Sector to avail infrastructure lending at easier terms with enhanced limits, access to larger amounts of funds as External Commercial Borrowings (ECB), access to longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds and be eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company Limited (IIFCL).
Q. 396. Waste to Energy
Waste to Energy
Recently, a Workshop on “Waste to Energy” – Swachchata Se Swachh Urja was organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as a part of “Swachchata Hi Sewa” campaign.
There is a huge amount of waste generated in a country and there is an urgent need to convert the waste into energy. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning to install a number of plants to convert these wastes into energy. A framework will be worked on for energy thus generated by these plants and subsequently rates will fixed for them. Citizens will also be educated on effective waste management so that it would be easier for the industries to process the waste. An effective waste management will help in creating a cleaner and greener India.
The focus is on energy generation from urban, industrial and agricultural waste/residues, municipal solid wastes, vegetable and other market wastes, slaughterhouse waste and industrial wastes and effluents. These initiatives will not only support generation of energy from the waste but also help in reducing pollution. It will also address the issue of burning of paddy straw by producing bio-CNG.
Three major waste to energy projects of 52 MW, based on Municipal Solid Waste(MSW) have already been installed and running successfully in Okhla, Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana in Delhi which help in converting solid waste to electricity.
In addition, under Swachcha Bharat Mission, about 40 projects with installed capacity of 344 MW supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs are under various stages of commissioning.
In Uttarakhand, a new biofuel conversion plant piloted in Kashipur can convert all kinds of agricultural waste into bioethanol. This unique technology has many benefits over other biofuel plants that convert sugarcane or corn into biofuel. At this plant, agricultural waste is converted into ethyl alcohol or bioethanol – which can be used as biofuel, to replace imported fuel.
Agricultural waste is a by-product that is used in some places as fodder for animals. But a majority of farmers do not realize potential of agricultural waste — the waste is thrown into ditches and fire set to it. This practice only adds to air pollution and is harmful for the environment in general.
Ethanol production from natural materials isn’t a novel concept in itself. Before this, technology to convert sugarcane and corn maize into ethanol existed. This kind of ethanol is called first generation ethanol (1G ethanol). Converting agricultural waste into ethanol is a fairly new technology – and this ethanol is called second generation or 2G ethanol.
Currently, the total capacity of 1G ethanol plants installed in the country comes up to only 2.5 billion litres of fuel production. Oil-based industries, on the other hand, have a demand of 5 billion litres annually. But the answer isn’t to build more 1G ethanol plants. Ultimately, such an increase to meet the demand would impact the sugar market, livestock that depend on bagasse (the leftovers after extracting sugarcane juice) for food, and land used for sugarcane production. But 2G ethanol comes from agricultural waste – which is available in plenty and is a natural by product that does not need to be specially produced. This is the best example of recycling and reusing, and there’s no need to burn away more waste.
Q. 395. National Nutrition Strategy
NITI Aayog has launched the National Nutrition Strategy. The nutrition strategy envisages a framework wherein the four proximate determinants of nutrition: uptake of health services, food, drinking water & sanitation and income & livelihoods – work together to accelerate decline of under nutrition in India. Currently, there is also a lack of real time measurement of these determinants, which reduces the capacity for targeted action among the most vulnerable mothers and children.
Supply side challenges often overshadow the need to address behavioural change efforts to generate demand for nutrition services. This strategy, therefore, gives prominence to demand and community mobilisation as a key determinant to address India's nutritional needs.
The Nutrition Strategy framework envisages a Kuposhan Mukt Bharat - linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. The aim is to ensure that States create customized State/ District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges. This is especially relevant in view of enhanced resources available with the States, to prioritise focussed interventions with agreater role for panchayats and urban local bodies.
The strategy enables states to make strategic choices, through decentralized planning and local innovation, with accountability for nutrition outcomes. With a benefit to cost ratio of 16:1 for 40 low and middle-income countries, there is a well recognized rationale, globally, for investing in Nutrition. The recently published NFHS-4 results reflect some progress, with a decline in the overall levels of under nutrition in both women and children. However, the pace of decline is far below what numerous countries with similar growth trajectories to India have achieved. Moreover, India pays an income penalty of 9% to 10% due to a workforce that was stunted during their childhood.
Q. 394. Domestic Systemically Important Banks
Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs)
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has included HDFC Bank in the list of 'too big to fail' lenders. With the inclusion of HDFC Bank in the list, there are now three 'too big to fail' financial entities, SBI AND ICICI, in the country.
Too big to fail
When a financial entity like a bank becomes systemically so important that their failure is expected to disrupt the financial/banking system and the economy as a whole then that entity is termed as too big to fail. In an event that such a bank fails the government steps in to save it.
RBI categorises such banks as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). These banks have, according to RBI, assumed systemic importance due to their:
Lack of substitutability and
The failure of these banks can cause significant disruption to the essential services provided by the banking system, and in turn, can disrupt the overall economic activity. These banks are considered Systemically Important Banks (SIBs) as their continued functioning is critical for the uninterrupted availability of essential banking services to the real economy.
What does it mean for the banks?
Apart from protection from the RBI in the times of distress, the D-SIBs will be subjected to higher levels of supervision so as to prevent disruption of financial services in the event of any failure.
These banks will have to maintain a core capital requirement in addition to a capital conservation buffer.
Moreover, expectations of government support amplifies risk-taking, reduces market discipline, creates competitive distortions and increases probability of distress in future.
Q. 393. Navika Sagar Parikrama
Navika Sagar Parikrama is a project wherein a team of women officers of the Indian Navy would circumnavigate the globe. The circumnavigation will be on an Indian-built sail boat INSV Tarini. This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.
The project is considered essential towards promoting Ocean Sailing activities in the Navy while depicting Government of India’s thrust on women power.
The expedition has been aptly titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’. It is aimed at promoting women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy. The expedition would inspire the youth of our nation to develop an understanding of the sea and instil a spirit of adventure and camaraderie.
The voyage of Navika Sagar Parikrama will begin from Goa in September 2017. The journey will finish around March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs and it will have stop overs at four ports for replenishment of ration and repairs. The ports are: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa)
Additional aims of the Expedition are as follows:-
Nari Shakti: In consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential, the expedition aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform. This would also help to discard the societal attitudes and mind-set towards women in India by raising visibility of participation by women in challenging environment.
Environment and Climate Change: The expedition aims at harnessing the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources which affects the life of women.
Make in India: The voyage also aims to show case the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing onboard the indigenously built INSV Tarini.
Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave Data Observation: The crew would also collate and update Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave data on a daily basis for subsequent analysis by research and development organisations.
Marine Pollution: The crew would monitor and report marine pollution on the high seas.
Interaction with Local PIOs: Since the expedition aims to promote Ocean Sailing and the spirit of adventure, the crew would interact extensively with the local PIOs at the various port halts.
Q. 392. National Anti-profiteering Authority
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the creation of the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) under GST. The apex body is mandated to ensure that the benefits of the reduction in GST rates on goods or services are passed on to the ultimate consumers by way of a reduction in prices.
The "anti-profiteering" measures enshrined in the GST law provide an institutional mechanism to ensure that the full benefits of input tax credits and reduced GST rates on supply of goods or services flow to the consumers. This institutional framework comprises the NAA, a Standing Committee, Screening Committees in every State and the Directorate General of Safeguards in the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC).
Affected consumers who feel the benefit of commensurate reduction in prices is not being passed on when they purchase any goods or services may apply for relief to the Screening Committee in the particular State. However, in case the incident of profiteering relates to an item of mass impact with 'All India' ramification, the application may be directly made to the Standing Committee.
In the event the NAA confirms there is a necessity to apply anti-profiteering measures, it has the authority to order the supplier / business concerned to reduce its prices or return the undue benefit availed by it along with interest to the recipient of the goods or services. If the undue benefit cannot be passed on to the recipient, it can be ordered to be deposited in the Consumer Welfare Fund. In extreme cases, the NAA can impose a penalty on the defaulting business entity and even order the cancellation of its registration under GST.
The constitution of the NAA shall bolster confidence of consumers as they reap the benefits of the recent reduction in GST rates, in particular, and of GST, in general.
Q. 391. Moscow Declaration
Health ministers, NGOs, and private sector representatives from 120 countries have adopted the Moscow Declaration, committing themselves to eliminating additional deaths from HIV co-infection by 2020 and achieving synergy in coordinated action against TB and non-communicable diseases. A co-infection is when a person suffers from two infections at the same time.
The Moscow declaration has emphasised the need for fixing multisectoral responsibility towards ending TB by 2035. This framework is critical to creating an enabling operational environment for multisectoral action, fast-tracking priority interventions, monitoring overall progress, and accelerating advocacy at all levels within different sectors. All these efforts are necessary to achieve committed milestones and the targets to end the TB epidemic.
India is among the signatories to the declaration. India has also committed to move to a daily drug regimen. It has also committed to tackle multi-drug resistant TB as a national public health crisis. A national inter-ministerial commission will be set up by 2018 to achieve fast-tracking universal access to health care through all state and non-state care providers by adopting WHO-recommended TB diagnostics, drugs, technologies and standards of care, and ensuring attention to high-risk groups and vulnerable populations such as migrants, refugees and prisoners.
In less than a year, the TB report card will be reviewed by the UN General Assembly in 2018 during a high-level meeting.
Q. 390. BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise
The First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) was conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in October 2017 in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
This Exercise was a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries. The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 was on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response. The exercise was meant to create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation among the member countries. The exercise helped to strengthen the effective utilization of the Search & Rescue Teams for Disaster Relief & Emergency Response, including Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams and Management of mass casualties especially in situations involving breakdown of infrastructure and communication.
India has been at the forefront of DRR efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR). India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries. Disaster Management was one of the important Agenda items the BIMSTEC.
The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people, constituting around 22% of the global population with a combined GDP of US $2.7 trillion economy. Majority of the BIMSTEC countries are situated in the South Asian Region (SAR), prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, avalanches and drought.
Q. 389. Nobel Prize for Physics
The 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics has been conferred to three scientists namely Rainer Weiss, Barry C Barish & Kip S Thorne under the LIGO Project for their discovery of gravitational waves. The discovery has been made 100 years after Einstein's General Relativity predicted it.
The direct detection of Gravitational waves arrives from the merger two large Black holes in a distant galaxy a Billion of light years away. Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. This is a new vista in Astronomy since Gravitational Waves are an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space.
This is a proud moment for India also, since the discovery paper has 39 Indian authors/scientists from nine institutions. Indian scientists have made seminal contributions to this field which contributed towards the principles behind the LIGO Detector.
An opportunity for India taking leadership in this field has opened up with the LIGO-India mega-science project that was granted ‘in principle’ approval by the Union Cabinet on Feb 17 2016. LIGO-India brings forth a real possibility of Indian scientists and technologists stepping forward, with strong international cooperation, into the frontier of an emergent area of high visibility and promise presented by the recent GW detections and the high promise of a new window of gravitational-wave astronomy to probe the universe. LIGO-India is being jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Q. 388. Yakshagana
Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form that combines unique blending of music, extempore dialogues, phenomenal dancing moves, rich make-up and intrinsically designed costumes. This theatre style is mainly found in Tulunadu and some parts of Malenadu region of Karnataka and Kerala. Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn. Its stories are drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other Hindu epics. Yakshagana evolved as a dance form during the Bhakti Movement.
Narahari Tirtha, a disciple of Madhvacharya, is said to be the first person to introduce Yakshagana in Udupi. He was also the founder of Kuchipudi. An inscription dating around 1556 CE has been evidence that Yakshagana existed from a long time. This inscription has been the first written evidence to cite about this dance form. The inscription was found at the Lakshminarayana Temple in Kurugodu, Bellary. Another evidence was found at Ajapura, present day Brahmavara. The manuscript is said to have mentioned about Yakshagana in the form of poem that was authored by Ajapura Vishnu.
Researches and Experts have placed the origin of the Yakshagana approximately in the period of 11th and 16th Century CE. Yakshagana became an established art form during the time of Parthi Subba, who was a Yakshagana poet.
Q. 387. NDVI
To determine the density of green on a patch of land, researchers must observe the distinct colors (wavelengths) of visible and near-infrared sunlight reflected by the plants.Vegetation appears very different at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. In visible light , vegetated areas are very dark, almost black, while desert regions (like the Sahara) are light. At near-infrared wavelengths, the vegetation is brighter and deserts are about the same. By comparing visible and infrared light, scientists measure the relative amount of vegetation. Nearly all satellite Vegetation Indices employ this difference formula to quantify the density of plant growth on the Earth The result of this formula is called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).
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