Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (10th to 18th Aug, 2019)
(Info graphic summary at the end)
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
- The cosmic debris are the remnants of comets — great frigid chunks of matter that leave behind dirty trails of rocks and ice that linger long after the comets themselves have passed.
- As the Earth wades through this cloud of comet waste, the bits of debris create what appears from the ground to be a fireworks display in the sky — known as a meteor shower.
- Meteor showers take their name from the location of the radiant.
- The Perseid radiant is in the constellation Perseus. The Geminid meteor shower, which is observed each December, is named for a radiant in the constellation Gemini.
Perseid Meteor Shower:
- The Perseid Meteor Shower, which has been active from 17th July 2019 onward, can be seen until 26th August, 2019.
- The Perseids occur as the Earth runs into pieces of cosmic debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle.
- The cloud of debris is about 27 km wide — and at the peak of the display, between 160 and 200 meteors streak through the Earth’s atmosphere every hour as the pieces of debris, travelling at some 2.14 lakh km per hour, burn up a little less than 100 km above the Earth’s surface.
- The Perseids currently visible in the night sky are not due to the debris leftbehind by the comet Swift-Tuttle during its most recent pass, which happened in 1992.
When to see them:
- Meteors are best seen on a cloudless night, when the entire sky is visible, and when the Moon is not extremely bright.
- Chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities. Pollution and monsoon clouds make the Perseids difficult to view from India.
- The showers peak when the Earth passes through the most dense part of the debris cloud.
- Peaks can last for a few hours or several nights. They tend to be most visible after midnight and before dawn.
- The showers should be seen with naked eyes; binoculars and telescopes narrow the field of vision.
- The Perseids currently visible in the night sky are not due to the debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle during its most recent pass, which happened in 1992.
- This particular comet goes around the Sun once in 133 years, and the meteors now visible were left behind by the pass before the last one — or perhaps even earlier.
What causes a meteor shower?
a. The orbit of the Earth
c. All of these
Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment
A newly-discovered lake “Kajin Sara” in Manang district of Nepal is likely to set a new record of being the world’s highest lake replacing Tilicho.
Lake Kajin Sara:
- The lake was discovered about a few months ago.
- It is located at Singarkharka area of Chame rural municipality.
- The lake is located at an altitude of 5,200 metres (yet to be officially verified).
- It is estimated to be 1,500-metre-long and 600-metre-wide.
- The lake would be the world’s highest lake if its altitude of 5000-plus metres is officially verified.
Lake Tilcho :
- Tilicho is situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres in the Himalayan nation and currently holding the title of World’s highest lake.
- The Tilicho lake, situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres, is 4 km long, 1.2 km wide and around 200 metres deep.
Kajin Sara lake is located in which country?
Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment
Wildfires ravaging parts of the Arctic are threatening to accelerate the melting of ice and permafrost — the permanently frozen ground layer — releasing greenhouse gases stored for thousands of years.
- Fires are burning farther north, and scientists worry the forest fires are igniting peat fires.
- Peat stores large amounts of carbon, which is burning and releasing record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.
- As the planet warms, more and more frozen peat and permafrost has thawed, releasing large amounts of carbon.
Frozen soil, rock and plant material remaining below 0oC for atleast two years. As permafrost thaws, microbes decompose organic material releasing Carbon dioxide and methane into atmosphere.
Although wildfires are frequent in the northern hemisphere between May and October, scientists estimate the magnitude of this season’s burn is higher than any other in the 16-year-record
Consider the following statements about Permafrost
- It is frozen soil, rock and plant material remaining below 0oC for at least two decades.
- As permafrost thaws, microbes decompose organic material releasing Carbon dioxide and methane into atmosphere
Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has finalised the country’s first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL).
- India has become the first country in the world to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require.
- In India, diagnostics are regulated under the regulatory provisions of the Medical Device Rules, 2017.
- Diagnostics (medical devices and in vitro diagnostics) follow a regulatory framework based on the drug regulations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945.
- Level of Healthcare: NEDL has been developed for all levels of health care – village level, primary, secondary and tertiary care.
- It builds upon the Free Diagnostics Service Initiative (FDI) and other diagnostics initiatives of the Health Ministry to provide an expanded basket of tests at different levels of the public health system.
Free Diagnostics Service Initiative (FDI):
FDI was launched in July 2015. Under this initiative, the National Health Mission (NHM) is supporting all states to provide essential diagnostics – laboratory and radiology at their public health facilities, free of cost.
- It includes a group of general laboratory tests for routine patient care and for diagnosis of communicable and non- communicable diseases.
- Inclusion of the diagnostic test on specific diseases selected on the basis of disease burden: Vector borne diseases (Malaria, Dengue, Filariasis, Chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis); Leptospirosis, Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, B C and E, HIV, Syphilis.
- Certain tests have been put as desirable tests and should be included in regions or states with high disease burden of that disease.
- It also encompasses tests relevant for new programmes such as Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
- In addition to tests, corresponding In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) products have also been recommended. In vitro diagnostics are tests done on samples such as blood or tissue that have been taken from the human body
- A guidance document on “Regulatory framework for diagnostics: National and International” has been included.
- It also recommends list of human resources such as ASHA workers, lab technicians pathologists for different levels of health care as per the proposed list of diagnostics.
- Diagnostics serve a key role in improving health and quality of life.
- While affordability of diagnostics is a prime concern in low, middle-income countries like India, low cost, inaccurate diagnostics have made their way into the Indian market which has no place in the quality health care system.
- The implementation of NEDL would enable improved health care services delivery through evidence-based care, improved patient outcomes and reduction in out -of pocket expenditure; effective utilisation of public health facilities.
- It would help in effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification; and address antimicrobial resistance crisis too
Which organisation launched the Malaria Elimination Research Alliance recently?
(A)Indian Council of Medical Research
(B)World Health Organisation
(C)Ministry of Women and Child Development
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently launched the Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA)- India and organised the Stakeholders’ Meeting at ICMR headquarters, New Delhi to have vibrant discussions on the roadmap of the Alliance.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society
A month after Union Health Minister asked the Delhi government to make malaria and dengue notifiable diseases, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has initiated the work to notify malaria in Delhi.
A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.
The World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, 1969 require disease reporting to the WHO in order to help with its global surveillance and advisory role.
Registered medical practitioners need to notify such diseases in a proper form within three days, or notify verbally via phone within 24 hours depending on the urgency of the situation.
The onus of notifying any disease and the implementation lies with the state government. Any failure to report a notifiable disease is a criminal offence and the state government can take necessary actions against defaulters.
Which diseases are notifiable disease?
The Centre has notified several diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, encephalitis, leprosy, meningitis, pertussis (whooping cough), plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, measles, yellow fever, malaria dengue, etc.
- This reporting allows the authorities to monitor the disease, and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.
- The process helps the government keep track and formulate a plan for elimination and control. In less infectious conditions, it improves information about the burden and distribution of disease.
Which of the following is the back bone in disease prevention?
c. Vital Statistics
d. Health Statistics
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
Indian researchers have developed a process by which bone implant materials can be synthesized from waste eggshells.
This research will produce bone substitute materials such as ß-tricalcium phosphate (ß-TCP), a commonly used bone substitute material from natural sources, without the use of toxic chemicals, shared the institute in a release.
Eggshells are made of largely calcium containing minerals (95.1%) along with small amounts of proteins and water.
Sushruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery, describes ‘Asthipoorana’ or bone grafting in which materials having calcium were combined with the latex of the banyan tree to form bone substitutes.
The researchers at which IIT have developed bone substitutes from eggshells?
a. IIT Bombay
b. IIT Delhi
c. IIT Madras
d. IIT Hyderabad
The researchers at IIT Hyderabad and BR Ambedkar National Institute of Technology (NIT) of Jalandhar have developed a process by which bone implant materials can be synthesized from waste egg shells. They seek to produce bone substitute materials such as – Tri-Calcium phosphate (TCP) without the use of toxic chemicals. The natural source of choice of the IIT-Hyderabad researchers is egg shells. Eggshells are made up largely of calcium (95.1%) along with small amounts of proteins and water. In modern medicine, damaged and missing bones are replaced with bone from either patient or donor, or by using artificial materials containing calcium, such as Plaster of Paris, and phosphate compounds like hydroxyapatite and calcium phosphate. TCP is a commonly-used bone substitute material from natural sources.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy
India may perhaps soon cross a unique turning point when its export of services becomes bigger than its export of merchandise (other than oil and gems & jewellery).
The export of gems & jewellery is classified as merchandise trade.
However, in reality what is being exported is the value created by the work of those who cut and polish imported diamond roughs and work on precious metals (also imported).
Leaving aside the official classification, this is export of services.
There is supreme irony in this services-manufacturing conclusion.
In this context, the US first proposed, in the 1980s, that a new round of global trade talks should be expanded to include not just merchandise trade but also trade in services.
At that time, India was a strong critic of the idea of opening up markets for trade in services.
Globally, services trade accounts for less than 20% of total trade.
In India’s case, if all of exports (including oil and gems & jewellery) is taken, then the share of services is 40%.
Over the first 4 months of this financial year (2019-20), services exports fetched $74.05 billion.
This is not far short of what was fetched by merchandise exports, excluding oil and gems & jewellery ($79.81 billion).
Since the former is growing at over 8%, and the latter at less than 2%, the turning point may be no more than a year or two away.
- Export of services becoming bigger than export of merchandise is not necessarily something to celebrate.
- The structural flaw at the heart of the Indian economy, which finds reflection in the export pattern are –
- the failure of domestic manufacturing, specifically the Make in India programme
- the consequentially outsized share of GDP and trade accounted for by services
- The other limitations to manufacturing growth includes –
- the relatively high cost of power, land, transport, port charges and shipping rates
- inefficiencies in the labour market
- unrealistic exchange rate for the rupee
- Indeed, as services exports continue to succeed, the rupee will become stronger.
- Consequently, a large part of the manufacturing sector, with their smaller profit margins, will find it steadily harder to compete internationally.
- This will almost certainly result in a shortage of domestic job opportunities for millions of rural youngsters.
- It is to be noted here that high-value services exports create fewer jobs than manufacturing.
- Yet the likely prospect is that the manufacturing-services imbalance will grow.
- India, for sure, had a competitive advantage in this area (services trade).This is because India has cheaper technologists, doctors, accountants, space scientists, etc, than almost all other countries.
- It has offered India an advantage in trade negotiations as well.E.g. in the negotiations for Regional Cooperation for Economic Partnership, India has been offering a two-sector deal to the leading economies of the Asia-Pacific
- India demands that if RCEP countries open up on services trade, it will open up further on merchandise trade.
- Among the things that India is pushing for is liberalisation of something classified as “Mode 4” in the multilateral trade services agreement.This covers the movement of “natural persons”.
- The argument is that other countries must allow more work migrants from India. E.g. the controversy over the H1B visa
- The counter-argument is that the movement of “natural persons” is a citizenship issue, not one of trade.
- Ironically, this is precisely the argument that India uses to try and stop the flow of migrants from Bangladesh.
The national income of a country for a given period is equal to the:
(a) total value of goods and services produced by the nationals
(b) sum of total consumption and investment expenditure
(c) sum of personal income of all individuals
(d) money value of final goods and services produced
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance
- Many states in India are bringing in laws similar to the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in the Industries/Factories Act 2019.
- This signals a threat of parochialism (narrow outlook), affecting the larger economic interests of the country.
- India’s Constitution too guarantees labour mobility under Article 19 which says that every individual could freely move in and around the country and work anywhere s/he wishes to.
- In all, the free movement of labour and capital must move hand in hand for the evolution of capitalism under a democratic framework.
Why is diversity in recruitment essential?
- If the workforce from a particular region is identified with a particular set of skills, it is because of social, economic and geographical factors specific to that region.
- Labour contractors in infrastructure projects are aware of these aspects as they seek to maximise efficiency and quality.
- Organisations that pursue social diversity as a matter of policy (‘equal opportunity’ employers) too have experienced commercial success.This is because they are able to be responsive to the needs of an equally diverse marketplace.
- This is particularly true for sectors with a direct customer interface (such as Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, aviation and media).Nevertheless, it extends to other areas as well.
Threats in local employment?
- For the Indian economy, its diverse labour pool is a key strength.
- Given this, a few states seeking to disregard this advantage is an unhealthy sign.
- The states are likely to lose their productive edge in the process.
- increase the risks of labour shortages
- trigger a rise in unemployment
- aggravate wage inflation
- render labour markets rigid and incompetent
- exacerbate regional inequalities
It is also odd that States should erect labour market barriers at a time when the country is moving the other way.
India is increasingly removing barriers to inter-State trade and to the movement of capital across entities, by implementing the bankruptcy law.
- Cosmopolitanism has been one of the driving forces in India’s early industrial success.
- Be it Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad or other industrial townships created in the hinterland, the above has been true.
- When ‘outstation’ workers merge into the host populations, they initiate a social process that make societies more egalitarian, secular and tolerant.
Which has become the first Indian state to announce a 75% job reservation for local youth?
(C) Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh has become the country’s first state to reserve jobs for local youths. The state government has passed the Industries/Factories Act, 2019 which reserves 75% jobs in all the industries and factories running in the state.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography
Grab a pinch of soil and you can find over a hundred soil worms or nematodes, says the first global analysis of nematodes.
Nematodes are roundworms and their size can vary from a tiny 0.2 millimetre to a few metres.
- A team of over 50 researchers collected over 6,500 soil samples from all seven continents of the world and found that there are about 57 billion nematodes for every human being on Earth.
- The study was done only on the top 15 cm of soil. Their total biomass comes to around 300 million tonnes which is about 80% of the combined weight of Earth’s humans.
- The study adds that these nematodes are responsible for “around 2.2% of the total carbon emission from soils”.
- Soils from Western and Eastern Ghats of India and the Himalayas were used for the study.
- At 38% of the total, sub-Arctic regions have the highest abundance of nematodes. The temperate region has the next highest abundance followed by the tropical regions.
- Soil organic matter content was the key driver for nematode abundance.
- The low temperature and high moisture in the sub-Arctic regions reduce the decomposition rate of organic matter.
- This leads to accumulation of organic matter and the nematodes happily thrive on them
- Predicting climate change requires that we understand global carbon and nutrient cycles. We currently have a great understanding of the physics and chemistry of our planet, but we know far less about the biological organisms that drive these cycles. Improving our understanding of these organisms at a global level is critical if we are going to understand and address climate change.”
- “Various kinds of bacteria, fungi, arthropods and a wide variety of nematodes inhabit the soil. We can study the environmental changes by looking at a small amount of soil as they can represent the entire food web
a. pointed ends
b. pointed bodies
c. pointed cells
d. peaked heads
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance
If all goes as planned, cancer treatments will soon be covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
It is the Central Government’s health insurance scheme that aims to give medical cover to over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families of approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, providing coverage of up to ₹5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
- Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.
- Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.
- When cancer develops, however, this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths called tumors.
- Many cancers form solid tumors, which are masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form solid tumors.
Malignant and benign Tumors:
- Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. In addition, as these tumors grow, some cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body through the blood or the lymph system and form new tumors far from the original tumor.
- Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. Benign tumors can sometimes be quite large, however. When removed, they usually don’t grow back, whereas malignant tumors sometimes do. Unlike most benign tumors elsewhere in the body, benign brain tumors can be life threatening.
- As a cancerous tumor grows, the bloodstream or lymphatic system may carry cancer cells to other parts of the body. During this process, known as metastasis, the cancer cells grow and may develop into new tumors.
Cancer cases in India:
- According to the World Health Organisation, the rate of mortality due to cancer in India is high, with cancer the second-most common disease in India, responsible for maximum mortality, with about 0.3 million deaths per year.
- Government figures note that the estimated number of people living with the disease stands at around 2.25 million, with over 11 lakh new cancer patients registered each year.
- “In India, the risk of developing cancer before the age of 75 years for males stands at 9.81% and females at 9.42%. Total deaths due to cancer in 2018 was 7,84,821 (Men: 4,13,519; Women: 3,71,302). The risk of dying from cancer before the age of 75 years stood at 7.34% in males and 6.28% in females
- .Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in India, followed by breast cancer and oral cancers
Need for inclusion in PMJAY:
- In India, cancer treatment is very expensive and we would like to include treatment for all types of cancer in our health packages, which are cost-effective, proven and beneficial to patients
- Patients often undergo multiple therapies for cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, which are very expensive.
A countrywide campaign has been launched for generic medicines at a affordable prices for all. What is it called?
a. Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana
b. Prime Minister Jan Aushadhi Yojana
c. Pradhan Mantri Jag Aushadhi Yojana
d. None of the above
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography
Destabilising geological processes, coupled with extreme rainfall events and unscientific farming and construction activities, pose a serious threat to human habitation in the highlands of kerala according to scientists.
A team of scientists from the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS) here who carried out an investigation in the wake of the heavy rain and devastating floods had found that land subsidence, lateral spread, and soil piping were an immediate threat to life and property in the uplands.
Piping occurs when water erodes beneath the surface of the ground creating an underground tunnel known as soil pipe. This usually begins as small pores underground and are enlarged with increase erosion, in some instance these hole may be even large enough for a person to crawl through.
In areas where there are cracks in the soil or areas of less resistance , water will start to move through creating; a void. Eventually after constant erosion the surface layer of the ground will not have any support beneath and thus collapse creating a depression
In some other instances; the soil pipe can be formed from openings in the ground that has been left behind when plants died or trees have been uprooted
Animals can also help create soil pipes by burrowing and tunneling in the soil. These voids provide an opening for moving water and create ideal situations for soil pipe formation.
Soil piping is a common feature along side river bank leading to river bank failure. As water seeps beneath the river bank it creates an alternate route, this is eroded and shaped by the water forming a channel (soil pipe). As more water seeps into the bank, the soil becomes heavier and more likely to break apart making it prone to erosion and failure. Soil piping has been related to earth dams failure, dike failures and formation of sink holes.
Soil piping is a natural process, but;often human induce activities may result in change in surface and underground water flow and result in increased subsurface erosion and making soil pipe a potential risk. Soil pipe collapse may become a threat to farming and can threatened the stability of a building.
Land subsidence is the lowering of the land-surface elevation due to changes that take place underground.
It is the sinking of the sub surface soil caused by sub surface erosion, often triggered by unscientific land use and drainage
Lateral spread occurs when soil on a gentle slope start moving downhill. It is caused by a process called as liquefaction
When soil looses strength due to saturation it behaves like fluid triggering a flow. Lateral spread is progressive and spreads rapidly, often culminating in a complex landslip
Consider the following statements about Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas.
- It is prepared by United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
- India is among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
- Soil biodiversity encompasses the presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna and macro-fauna.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 2, 3
c) 1, 3
d) 1, 2, 3
India’s soil biodiversity is in grave peril, according to the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The WWF’s ‘risk index’ for the globe — indicating threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change — shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
Soil biodiversity encompasses the presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).