Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (12th to 18th April, 2019)

Cabinet approves Continuation of Phase 4 of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (4th to 11th April, 2019)

(Info graphic Summary at the end)

 

Topic : Scientific management of mangroves is need of the hour

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology and Environment

 

Why in news?

Scientific management of mangroves is need of the hour

40 per cent of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.

 

More about on Mangroves:

  • Mangroves are salt-tolerant vegetation that grows in intertidal regions of rivers and estuaries.
  • They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.
  • Mangrove forests occupy around 2, 00,000 square kilometers across the globe in tropical regions of 30 countries.
  • India has a total mangrove cover of 4,482 sq km.
  • A mangrove ecosystem is the interface between terrestrial forests and aquatic marine ecosystems.
  • The ecosystem includes diversified habitats like mangrove-dominant forests, litter-laden forest floors, mudflats, coral reefs and contiguous water courses such as river estuaries, bays, inter-tidal waters, channels and backwaters.
  • Mangroves are trees and shrub species that grow at the interface between land and sea in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, where the plants exist in conditions of salinity, tidal water flow and muddy soil.

 

Significance:

  • The structural complexities of mangrove vegetation create unique environments which provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms.
  • Mangroves serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for most of the commercial fishes and crustaceans on which thousands of people depend for their livelihood.
  • Mangroves give protection to the coastline and minimize disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.
  • Recent studies have shown that mangroves store more carbon dioxide than most other forests.
  • Mangroves are an intermediate vegetation between land and sea that grow in oxygen deficient waterlogged soils which have Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S).
  • They perform important ecological functions like nutrient cycling, hydrological regime, coastal protection, fish-fauna production, etc.
  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers.
  • They reduce high tides and waves and help prevent soil erosion. They also provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities.

 

Distribution:

  • Sundarbans in the Gangetic delta with an area of 2.12 lakh hectares (ha) supports 26 plant species of mangrove with a maximum height of more than 10 metres.
  • Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu with an area of 1,100 ha supports 12 plant species growing to a height of 5 metres.
  • Muthupet is the biggest mangrove forest in Tamil Nadu with an extent of 11,885.91 ha with poor species diversity due to lack of fresh water supply.

 

Distribution of Mangrooves in India

 

Threats:

  • Mangroves are being destroyed and facing severe threats due to urbanisation, industrialisation, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents and pesticides.
  • Saltpans and aquaculture also pose major threat to the mangroves.
  • As a result, mangroves get depleted to the tune of 2-8 per cent annually at global level.
  • 40 per cent of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.
  • Some of the mangrove species like Bruguieracylindrica and Sonneratiaacida are at the verge of extinction. Due to shrimp farming, about 35,000 ha of mangroves have been lost in India.

 

Conservation of mangroves:

  • Though we have the Environmental (Protection) Act, the Supreme Court’s order banning semi-intensive and intensive aquaculture in the coastal areas, and the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification with strict enforcement of the legislative measures, scientific management practices are very much essential for conservation and sustainable management of the precious mangrove forests.
  • Suitable sites are to be identified for planting mangrove species. Mangrove nursery banks should be developed for propagation purposes. The economic and ecological values of the species are yet to be identified.
  • Environmental monitoring in the existing mangrove areas should be taken up systematically and periodically.
  • Various threats to the mangrove resources and their root causes should be identified, and earnest measures should be taken to eliminate those causes.
  • The participation of the local community should be made compulsory for conservation and management.
  • Floristic survey of mangroves along the coast is to be taken up to prepare biodiversity atlas for mangroves.
  • Potential areas are to be identified for implementing the management action plan for mangroves, especially in cyclone prone areas.
  • Socioeconomic studies on the mangrove-dependent people need to be taken up to involve them in management of mangrove biodiversity.
  • Coastal industries and private owners need to be persuaded to actively participate in protecting and developing mangrove biodiversity.
  • The forest department officials should be trained on taxonomy, biology and ecology of mangrove species.
  • Agro-forestry along the periphery of mangroves in the wastelands can be taken up for providing alternate fodder to the cattle of nearby villages.
  • Alternative livelihood and income generation options like dairy farming, bee keeping, palm candy production, coconut leaf thatching, dry fish marketing, small provisional shops, vegetable shops, etc, can be taken up by the mangrove-dependent communities.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Mangroves

  1. Mangroves represent a characteristic littoral forest ecosystem.
  2. The mangroves of Sundarbans are the largest single block of tidal holophytic mangroves of the world.
  3. The mangrove vegetation in the coastal zone of Gujarat is very sparse and thin.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 2 only

b). 1 and 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic :  Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific 2019

Topic in Syllabus:  International Affairs

 

Why in news?

Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific 2019

The Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific (RCAP) 2019 Congress is being organized by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and hosted by South Delhi Municipal Corporation on 15-17 April in New Delhi, India.

 

More about on news:

  • It will offer cities and regions from Asia-Pacific a variety of innovative solutions that build resilience to climate change at the subnational level.
  • The event will offer a combination of high-level plenaries and technical sessions on the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and the New Urban Agenda of 2016.
  • CDKN will explore new approaches on Water Energy Food Nexus, climate finance and understanding the knowledge brokering concept.
  • The RCAP 2019 will bring together national and local governments to discuss the opportunities and mechanisms of implementing the SDGs and NDCs.
  • The outcomes of the RCAP 2019 will be presented in the NDC Conference to be held in Berlin in June this year.
  • The main target of the event would be local governments in the Asia Pacific region.

 

Conference Objectives:

The proposed objectives of the conference are:

  • To share and learn about good urban resilience practices and show-case innovative ideas, solutions and initiatives
  • To provide local governments with exposure and access to tools and processes that help mainstream resilience considerations into policy and practice
  • To provide a networking platform to promote concerted and coordinated action in Asia among the main players in the field of urban resilience
  • To explore tangible opportunities for creating partnerships between local governments and the private sector
  • To bring together funders and cities and facilitate the match-making between available financial resources and current cities’ needs.

 

Proposed Themes:

The proposed themes that have been identified for RCAP 2019 are:

  • Good governance and resilience
  • Integrated climate resilience planning to manage risks and vulnerabilities
  • Climate knowledge brokering
  • Nature based solutions to adaptation
  • Sustainable infrastructure development and green growth
  • Urban nexus
  • Opportunities for regional networking and collaboration
  • Financing mechanisms for Asian cities

 

Sample Question:

With respect to Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific (RCAP) Congress, consider the following statements

  1. The 4th Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific (RCAP) Congress 2019 was recently organized by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) in association with South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
  2. It is the annual global platform for urban & rural resilience and climate change adaptation.
  3. It aims to provide local governments with exposure and access to tools and processes that help. Mainstream resilience considerations into policy and practice.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic :  Long period average: The IMD yardstick for determining whether rainfall

Topic in Syllabus:  Indian Geography

 

Why in news?

Long period average The IMD yardstick for determining whether rainfall

Recently while releasing its monsoon forecast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) expressed the projected rainfall in terms of Long Period Average (LPA), saying that it was expected to be 96% of LPA.

 

More about on news:

  • The LPA of the monsoon season over the country is 89 cm, calculated for the period 1951-2000.
  • This is the average rainfall recorded during the months from June to September, calculated during the 50-year period, and is kept as a benchmark while forecasting the quantitative rainfall for the monsoon season every year.
  • IMD maintains an independent LPA for every homogeneous region of the country, which ranges from 71.6 cm to 143.83 cm.
  • The region-wise LPA figures are: 143.83 cm for East and Northeast India, 97.55 cm for Central India, 71.61 cm for South Peninsular India, and 61.50 for Northwest India, which put together bring the all-India figure to 88.75 cm.
  • Like the countrywide figure, IMD maintains an independent LPA for every homogeneous region of the country, which ranges from 71.6 cm to 143.83 cm. The region-wise LPA figures are: 143.83 cm for East and Northeast India, 97.55 cm for Central India, 71.61 cm for South Peninsular India, and 61.50 for Northwest India, which put together bring the all-India figure to 88.75 cm.
  • When IMD forecasts the category of rainfall, be it for country, region or month, the forecast is based on these standardized figures calculated for a period of 50 years.
  • As per the outputs obtained from the weather models, the rainfall is categorized as normal, below normal, or above normal.

 

Rainfall distribution categories:

IMD maintains five rainfall distribution categories on an all-India scale. These are:

  • Normal or Near Normal: When per cent departure of actual rainfall is +/-10% of LPA, that is, between 96-104% of LPA
  • Below normal: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 10% of LPA, that is 90-96% of LPA
  • Above normal: When actual rainfall is 104-110% of LPA
  • Deficient: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 90% of LPA
  • Excess: When departure of actual rainfall is more than 110% of LPA

 

Sample Question:

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) it maintains five rainfall distribution categories on an all-India scale, which of the followings are correctly matched

  1. Near Normal: 96-104% of LPA
  2. Below normal: 90-96% of LPA
  3. Above normal: 104-110% of LPA
  4. Deficient: more than 110% of LPA
  5. Excess: less than 90% of LPA

 

Choose the correctly matched answer from the codes given below

a). 3, 4 and 5 only

b). 1, 3, 4 and 5 only

c). 1, 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic :  India could soon become a ‘NATO ally’as US lawmakers introduce a new bill

Topic in Syllabus:  International Affairs

 

Why in news?

India could soon become a 'NATO ally'as US lawmakers introduce a new bill

In United States, a bipartisan group of half a dozen influential US lawmakers has reintroduced an important legislation in the House of Representatives which seeks to advance the US-India strategic relationship.

 

More about on bill HR 2123:

  • It would send a powerful signal that defence sales to India should be prioritized according to US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, which had worked on this important legislation.
  • The bill HR 2123 was introduced this week by Congressman Joe Wilson, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • India is the world’s largest democracy, a pillar of stability in the region, and has shown strong commitments to export control policies.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2017 included special language recognizing the unique US-India defence relationship that designated India as a “Major Defence Partner” of the United States.

 

Significance:

  • If enacted, the legislation would ensure that the US State Department treat India as a NATO ally for the purposes of the Arms Export Control Act
  • The legislation bolsters national security and helps ensure full alignment between the Department of Defence and the Department of State.
  • To fulfil the spirit and intent of the NDAA 2017, the US-India Enhanced Cooperation Act would amend the Arms Export Control Act to put India on par with NATO allies and Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
  • This legislation would be a major breakthrough for the US-India defense relationship.

 

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

  • The NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty signed in April 1949.
  • It consists of 29 independent member countries across North America and Europe.
  • It is based on a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
  • NATO’s headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Its headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons.
  • The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global defence spending.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), consider the following statements

  1. It consists of 29 independent member countries across only North America
  2. It is based on a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
  3. NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic :  Cabinet approves Continuation of Phase 4 of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

Topic in Syllabus:  Science & Technology

 

Why in news?

Cabinet approves Continuation of Phase 4 of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi, has approved ongoing GSLV continuation programme Phase-4 consisting of five GSLV flights during the period 2021-2024.

 

More about on news:

  • The will enable the launch of 2 tonnes class of satellites for Geo-imaging, Navigation, Data Relay Communication and Space Sciences.
  • It will meet the demand for the launch of satellites at a frequency up to two launches per year, with maximal participation by the Indian industry
  • Called GSLV Programme – Phase 4, this continuation of the ongoing GSLV programme would entail total expenditure of ₹ 2,729.13 crore, which would include the cost of five GSLV vehicles, essential facility augmentation, programme management.

 

Background:

  • GSLV has enabled independent access to space for 2 tonne class of satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  • One of the very significant outcomes of the GSLV Continuation Programme is the mastering of the highly complex cryogenic propulsion technology, which is an essential technological capability to launch communication satellites to GTO.
  • This has also paved the way for the development of a high thrust Cryogenic engine & stage for the next generation launch vehicle i.e. GSLV Mk-lll.
  • With the recent successful launch of GSLV-F11 on 19th December 2018, GSLV has successfully orbited 10 national satellites.
  • GSLV with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has established itself as a reliable launch vehicle for communication, navigation and meteorological satellites and also to undertake future interplanetary missions.
  • GSLV Continuation Programme was initially sanctioned in 2003, and two phases have been completed and the third phase is in progress and expected to be completed by Q4 of 2020-21.

 

GSLV

 

Implementation Strategy and targets, impacts:

  • The total fund requirement is Rs. 2729.13 Crores and includes the cost of five GSLV vehicles, essential facility augmentation, Programme Management, and Launch Campaign along with the additional funds required for meeting the scope of the ongoing GSLV Continuation Programme.
  • The GSLV Continuation Programme – Phase 4 will meet the demand for the launch of satellites at a frequency up to two launches per year, with maximal participation by the Indian industry.
  • All the operational flights would be completed during the period 2021-24.
  • The operationalization of GSLV has made the country self-reliant in the launching capability of 2 tonnes class of satellites for communication & meteorological satellites.
  • The GSLV Continuation Programme will sustain & strengthen the capability and self-reliance in the launching of similar satellites for national requirements including next generation navigation satellites, data relay communication satellites and interplanetary missions.

 

Benefits:

  • The GSLV Continuation Programme – Phase 4 will meet the launch requirement of satellites for providing critical Satellite Navigation Services, Data Relay Communication for supporting the Indian Human spaceflight programme and the next interplanetary mission to Mars.
  • This will also ensure the continuity of production in Indian industry.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to GSLV Ph-4 Continuation Programme

  1. The GSLV phase four will enable the launch of two-tonne class of satellites for geo-imaging, navigation, data relay communication and space sciences.
  2. The GSLV continuation programme was initially sanctioned in 2003, and two phases have been completed and the third phase is in progress and expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020-21.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic :  Four decades later, bamboo rice shows up in Odisha

Topic in Syllabus:  Indian Geography

 

Why in news?

Four decades later, bamboo rice shows up in Odisha

Odisha is among the states known for a wide variety of rice, the staple food of eastern and north-eastern India and beyond.

 

More about on news:

  • The bamboo rice, which grows only twice or thrice in a century. And it is being harvested now.
  • The gates of Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary in Cuttack district have been opened for forest dwellers to come and collect the rice, because otherwise it will be attacked by rats.
  • The bamboo forest is littered with the rice variety.
  • It is not commonly available because it takes many years for a bamboo tree to flower and that’s why many locals even preserve the rice as they believe it has medicinal values.

 

Bamboo Rice:

  • Bamboo rice is not commonly available. Bamboo tree take many years to flowered.
  • Bamboo rice grows out of a dying bamboo shoot. Bamboo rice looks like paddy rice and tastes more like wheat
  • Bamboo rice is believed to contain a low glycaemic index compared to other varieties and it is good for diabetics
  • It is rich in proteins and does not contain any fat
  • Bamboo rice is also believed to be containing medicinal values

 

How is it Different from Other Types of Rice?

  • Bamboo rice has a striking resemblance to paddy rice and tastes more like wheat.
  • Slightly sweet in taste and generally cooked like any other rice, bamboo rice makes a great combination with any normal food that we consume.
  • The difference lies in its texture when cooked, which is mostly moist and sticky.
  • It is chewy when consumed.
  • It is prepared as Khichdion the occasion of Pongal and many love to prepare bamboo rice kheer to savor on celebratory events.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to Bamboo Rice

  1. Bamboo rice grows out of a dying bamboo shoot.
  2. Bamboo rice is believed to contain a high glycaemic index compared to other varieties and it is not good for diabetics.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic :  Indo-Singapore Joint Training Exercise Bold Kurukshetr

Topic in Syllabus:  Security Issues

 

Why in news?

Indo-Singapore Joint Training Exercise Bold Kurukshetr

The 12th edition of joint military exercise between India and Singapore, BOLD KURUKSHETRA 2019, culminated after an impressive closing ceremony held at Babina Military Station.

 

More about on news:

  • The two countries had signed a cooperation agreement to strengthen the defence ties between Indian Military and Singapore Armed Forces in November, 2017.
  • As per the agreement, the Singapore military would undergo training and participate in firing exercise with their Indian counterpart.
  • This will be the 12th in the series.
  • The troops learnt about each other’s organizations and best practices being followed in combat.
  • The exercise was a grand success and taught valuable lessons to troops of both the participating nations.

 

Objective:

  • The Exercise is aimed at attaining a high level of interoperability between the armies of both the nations through mutual understanding and familiarization with each other’s operational procedures and equipment

 

Sample Question:

Recently India held BOLD KURUKSHETRA 2019 Exercisewith which of the following nation?

  • Bangladesh
  • Malaysia
  • Bhutan
  • Singapore

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic : Kakapow! Rare world’s fattest parrot has record breeding season

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

Kakapow Rare world's fattest parrot has record breeding season

The world’s fattest parrot, the critically endangered kakapo, has enjoyed a record breaking breeding season.

 

More about on news:

  • Scientists said that climate change is possibly aiding the species’ unique mating spree.
  • Less than 50 years after the flightless nocturnal bird was thought to have been extinct, at least 75 chicks are expected to survive this year.
  • Scientists state that the last of 249 eggs laid as part of a breeding programme will hatch tomorrow.

 

Significance:

  • This will significantly boost the population which has grown to 147 adults since a small number of the plump green, yellow and black birds was discovered in 1970.
  • The kakapo is an “unusual” parrot as the females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when New Zealand’s native rimu trees are full of fruit.
  • It’s probably one of the most intensively managed species in the world.

 

More about on Kakapow:

  • Kakapo means ‘night parrot’ in Maori. It is also called owl parrot.
  • Scientific name:
  • It is flightless, nocturnal, the world’s fattest parrot and the world’s only flightless parrot.
  • It is endemic to New Zealand.
  • The surviving kakapo are kept on four predator-free islands off the New Zealand coast.
  • They mate only every 2-4 years when New Zealand’s native Rimu trees are full of fruit.
  • It is the only parrot to have a polygynous breeding system. The females control the breeding process. After mating, they end the relationship, shutting the male out of the incubation and rearing processes.
  • IUCN Status,Critically Endangered.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are the with respect to Kakapow

  1. It is the only parrot to have a polygynous breeding system.
  2. It is endemic to New Zealand.
  3. IUCN Status is vulnerable.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 2 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: a)

 


Info graphic Summary


 

CURRENT AFFAIRS PRELIMS ( 12TH TO 18TH APRIL, 2019)