Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (19th to 25th May, 2019)

Protect and promote Ongole breed cattle vice President of India

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (19th to 25th May, 2019)

(Info graphic Summary at the end)

Topic : Kerala’s masala bonds could be one-off offering after the tax rebate window

Topic in Syllabus : Indian Economy

 

Why in news?

Kerala's masala bonds could be one-off offering after the tax rebate window

The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board’s (KIIFB) recently  celebrated its debut Masala Bond listing on the London Stock Exchange with a special market open ceremony.

 

More about on news:

  • The KIIFB is the first sub-sovereign entity in India to tap the offshore Rupee international bond market with the USD 312 million equivalent (₹ 2,150 crore) senior secured fixed-rate bond.
  • It is aimed at accessing capital from international investors for the southern state’s infrastructure development.
  • KIIFB strives to be at the forefront of creating a sustainable development model for infrastructure financing in the emerging markets and an exemplar for best practices in corporate governance and fund management.
  • The bond, with a five-year tenor and a 9.723 per cent coupon, has been admitted to London Stock Exchange’s International Securities Market (ISM).

 

Significance:

  • KIIFB’s bond highlights London’s status as a leading international financing centre, offering issuers access to the deepest pool of long-term international investor capital as well as best in class listing solutions.
  • KIIFB is the first sub-sovereign entity in India to access the international debt capital markets in this manner.
  • This transaction has realized the objective of diversifying sources of funding by accessing capital from international investors.

 

Masala Bonds:

  • Masala Bonds are rupee-denominated borrowings issued by Indian entities in overseas markets.
  • Masala means spices and the term was used by International Finance Corporation (IFC) to popularize the culture and cuisine of India on foreign platforms.
  • The objective of Masala Bonds is to fund infrastructure projects in India, fuel internal growth via borrowings and internationalize the Indian currency.
  • Masala bonds also help in internationalization of the rupee and in expansion of the Indian bond markets. These bonds are usually traded on a foreign exchange like the LSE and not in India.

 

How Masala Bonds help in supporting the rupee?

  • The bonds are directly pegged to the Indian currency. So, investors will directly take the currency risk or exchange rate risks.
  • If the value of Indian currency falls, the foreign investor will have to bear the losses, not the issuer which is an Indian entity or a corporate.
  • If foreign investors eagerly invest in Masala Bonds or bring money into India, this would help in supporting the rupee.
  • The issuer of these bonds is shielded against the risk of currency fluctuation, typically associated with borrowing in foreign currency.
  • Besides helping in diversifying funding sources, the costs of borrowing via masala bonds could also turn out to be lower than domestic markets.
  • Currently, these bonds are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

 

Sample Question

Consider the following statements with respect to Masala bonds

  1. Masala bonds are bonds issued outside India but denominated in Indian Rupees, rather than the local currency
  2. Unlike dollar bonds, where the borrower takes the currency risk, masala bond makes the investors bear the risk
  3. Masala bonds also help in internationalization of the rupee and in expansion of the Indian bond markets.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 1 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic : New plastic that could be fully recycled created by Berkeley Lab

Topic in Syllabus : Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

New plastic that could be fully recycled created by Berkeley Lab

The scientists have created a next-generation plastic that can be fully recycled into new materials of any colour, shape, or form, without loss of performance or quality.

 

More about on news:

  • A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has designed a recyclable plastic that, like a Lego playset, can be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level.
  • A postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab, most plastics were never made to be recycled. But they have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective.
  • All plastics, from water bottles to automobile parts, are made up of large molecules called polymers, which are composed of repeating units of shorter carbon-containing compounds called monomers.
  • According to the researchers, the problem with many plastics is that the chemicals added to make them useful, such as fillers that make a plastic tough, or plasticisers that make a plastic flexible are tightly bound to the monomers and stay in the plastic even after it is been processed at a recycling plant.

 

Poly-Di-Ketoenamine (PDK):

  • A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley National Laboratory has designed a recyclable plastic called PDK.
  • The monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives by placing the material in a highly acidic solution.
  • It helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from chemical additives.
  • The recovered PDK monomers can be remade into polymers, and those recycled polymers can form new plastic materials without inheriting the colour or other features of the original material.
  • They could also up cycle the plastic by adding additional features, such as flexibility.

 

Significance:

  • Researchers now plan to develop PDK plastics with a range of properties from thermal to mechanical which could have multiple applications like textile 3D printing, and foams.
  • They are also experimenting to expand plastic formulations by incorporating certain plant-based materials and other sustainable sources.

 

Sample Question

With reference to Poly-Di-Ketoenamine (PDK), consider the following statements

  1. A team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of United States’ (US) Department of Energy’s (DOE) has designed a fully recyclable plastic.
  2. It helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from chemical additives.

 

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 : Canadian Arctic fossils are oldest known fungus on Earth

Topic in Syllabus : Science & Technology

 

Why in news?

Canadian Arctic fossils are oldest known fungus on Earth

Tiny fossils found in mudrock in the barren wilderness of the Canadian Arctic are the remains of the oldest known fungus on Earth, scientists say.

 

More about on news:

  • To date, the earliest fossil fungi are 410-million-year-old specimens from Scotland and spores of glomeromycotan fungi from Wisconsin that date to 450 million years ago, in the Ordovician period.
  • The 1-0.9-billion-year-old (Proterozoic era) fossil fungi from the Grassy Bay Formation are older than these previously reported fossils by more than half a billion years.
  • The paleontologists discovered abundant microfossils of a fungus named Ourasphairagiraldae.
  • The minuscule organisms were discovered in shallow water shale, a kind of fine-grained sedimentary rock, in a region south of Victoria Island on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.

 

Ourasphairagiraldae:

  • Ourasphairagiraldae was a multicellular fungus.
  • It lived in an estuary environment about 900 million to 1 billion years ago.
  • This fungus is forerunner to an immensely diverse group that today includes the likes of mushrooms, yeasts and molds.
  • Its microfossils have been recently excavated in an Arctic region of north-western Canada.
  • These organic-walled microfossils consist of multicellular, branching filaments with terminal spheres.
  • The combination of complex morphology, right-angle branching, multicellularity, bilayered wall ultrastructure, compositional recalcitrance and relatively large size permits the unambiguous placement of Ourasphairagiraldae among eukaryotes.
  • Extant fungi are mostly terrestrial, although some marine forms are known.

 

Importance of Fungi:

  • Fungi play a crucial role in ecosystems, decomposing organic matter and returning nutrients to the ground to help plants grow.
  • The existence of fungi a billion years ago suggests that the organisms laid the groundwork for the first plants to colonise the land about 470m years ago.
  • The extreme age of the newly-found fungus may have implications for the history of other life on Earth.
  • Before they went their separate ways, fungi and animals sat on the same branch of the evolutionary tree. If fungi had already evolved a billion years ago, primitive animals might have too.

 

Sample Question

Which of the followings are correct with respect to Ourasphairagiraldae

  1. Ourasphairagiraldae is a unicellular fungus.
  2. Its microfossils have been recently excavated in an Arctic region of north-western Canada.

 

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 : UAE launches ‘Golden Card’ scheme

Topic in Syllabus : International Affairs

 

Why in news?

UAE launches 'Golden Card' scheme

Recently UAE has launched the ‘Golden Card’ scheme to grant permanent residency benefits to investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents, researchers, and outstanding students.

 

More about on news:

  • The Golden Card will be given to exceptional professionals in areas including medicine, engineering and science.
  • These qualified people along with their families can enjoy unprecedented benefits while creating an attractive environment for business and growth,
  • Throughout history, the UAE opened its door to millions of people looking to pursue their dreams and better their lives.
  • Many countries offer forms of permanent residency. Among them is the Green Card system in the US, issued to priority workers, relatives of residents and $1 million-plus investors.

 

‘Golden Card’ scheme:

  • It is a permanent residency for investors and for exceptional workers in the fields of health, engineering, science and art.
  • The Golden Card is way to welcome all those seeking to be a part of the UAE’s success story and making it a second home.
  • Typically, foreign residents have renewable visas that are valid for two or three years and often tied to their employment. But last year the government announced plans to reform its visa policies.
  • It pledged to allow five and 10-year visas for sought-after professionals and academics and for long-term investors.
  • The new permanent residency initiative has identified the first 6,800 qualified expats from over 70 countries, to benefit from the Golden Card scheme’s unprecedented benefits.

 

Benefits:

  • The new initiative will attract greater foreign investment and stimulate the local economy, making it more efficient and attractive for investors.
  • It will also increase the UAE’s competitiveness and reaffirms the country’s position as a global incubator.
  • The benefits of the permanent residency also include the spouse and children of the cardholder to ensure cohesive social ties.
  • Gold Card permanent residence will be awarded to exceptional and talented individuals, and to whoever contributes positively to the UAE’s success story,

 

Sample Question

The ‘Golden Card’ scheme recently launched by

a). USA

b). France

c). Thailand

d). UAE

 

Answer: d)

 


Topic : Protect and promote Ongole breed cattle: vice President of India

Topic in Syllabus : General Science

 

Why in news?

Protect and promote Ongole breed cattle vice President of India

The globally popular Ongole cattle breed stands neglected in the country, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu has said.

 

More about on news:

  • The indigenous Ongole breed should be protected and promoted, Naidu said, while releasing a compendium on the animal at the Swarna Bharat Trust.
  • He said cattle wealth is national wealth and pointed out that Brazil, which has imported these cattle and produced hybrid Ongoles, is earning huge revenue by exporting them
  • The time has come for promoting Ongole cattle breed in a big way and also take up research on the animal.
  • The 1200-page Compendium traces the history of the animal from 1885 to 2016 by providing information from 13 books and 80 research findings on Ongole Cattle.

 

About Ongole cattle:

  • Ongole cattle is an indigenous cattle breed that originates from Prakasam District in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The breed derives its name from the place the breed originates from, Ongole.
  • The Ongole breed of cattle, BosIndicus, has a great demand as it is said to possess resistance to both foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.
  • The Ongole is one of the heaviest breeds. They weigh approximately half a ton, are 1.7 meters in height and have a body length of 1.6 meters and girth measuring 2 meters.
  • These cattle are commonly used in bull fights in Mexico and some parts of East Africa due to their strength and aggressiveness.
  • They also participate in traditional bull fights in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

 

Significance:

  • Cattle breeders use the fighting ability of the bulls to choose the right stock for breeding in terms of purity and strength.
  • Ongole cattle are known for their toughness, rapid growth rate, and natural tolerance to tropical heat and disease resistance.
  • It was perhaps the first Indian breed of cattle to gain worldwide recognition.

 

Sample Question

The Ongole cattle is an indigenous cattle breed that originates from

a). Tamil nadu

b). Kerala

c). Karnataka

d). Andhra Pradesh

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic : Netherlands’ ‘Room for the River’ project that Kerala CM wants to replicate

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography

 

Why in news?

Netherlands’ ‘Room for the River’ project that Kerala CM wants to replicate

Recently Kerala CM spoke of incorporating the model in the state’s ‘Rebuild Kerala’ plan.

 

More about on ‘Room for the River’ project:

  • The flagship project of the Dutch government is centered on protecting areas adjoining rivers from routine flooding and improving water management systems in delta regions.
  • The basic premise of the ‘Room for the River’ project is essentially to provide more space for the water body so that it can manage extraordinary high water levels during floods.
  • The project, implemented at over 30 locations across the Netherlands and funded at a cost of 2.3 billion euros, involves tailor-made solutions for each river.
  • Among the nine measures which define the project are lowering the flood plain, deepening the summer bed, strengthening of dykes, relocation of dykes, reducing the height of the groynes, increasing the depth of the side channels and removing obstacles.
  • A key aspect of the project is also to improve the surroundings of the river banks through fountains and panoramic decks.
  • The landscapes are altered in a way that they turn into natural sponges which can accommodate excess water during floods.

 

Need for Kerala:

  • The LDF government in Kerala believes the project and its foundational ideals can be replicated in Kuttanad, the state’s rice bowl located below the sea-level.
  • In the floods last year, Kuttanad and adjoining regions in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts remained submerged for weeks.
  • Since the major rivers in the state empty out into Kuttanad, there’s a need for long-term comprehensive solutions on the lines of the Dutch project to prevent flooding in the region.

 

Netherland’s scenario:

  • The Netherlands has historically been prone to flooding of rivers due to its low elevation.
  • Much of the country lies below the sea level. The country is located in the delta region of several major rivers like the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt.
  • In fact, the rise of water levels in the sea and rivers due to the effects of climate change is one of the major challenges facing the Dutch.
  • But over the years, the country’s expert water management techniques and creation of independent local government bodies for flood control have borne praise across the world.

 

Sample Question

Which of the following state recently adopted Netherland’s famous ‘Room for the River’ project?

a). Odisha

b). West Bengal

c). Kerala

d). Tamil Nadu

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic : ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade

Topic in Syllabus : Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade

Ahead of the International Day of Biological Diversity celebrated on May 22, UN Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India launched an awareness campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’

 

More about on news:

  • In India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise in recent years.
  • Illegal wildlife trade is driving species to the brink of extinction.
  • A thriving industry with organized wildlife crime chains spreading across the world, in India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise.

 

Not all animals migrate by choice” Campaign:

  • Campaign launched by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India and UN Environment aimed at airports across India.
  • The campaign complements worldwide action on illegal trade in wildlife through UN Environment’s global campaign, Wild for Life.
  • In collaboration with the Airports Authority of India and GMR Group, the campaign will travel across 22 airports across India over the next year.
  • The campaign aims at creating awareness and garnering public support for the protection and conservation of wildlife, prevention of smuggling and reduction in demand for wildlife products.
  • Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko featured in the campaign.

 

UN Environment:

  • UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment.
  • It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
  • UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, and the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

 

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB):

  • It is a statutory multi-disciplinary body, established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  • The Bureau has its headquarters in New Delhi.
  • It also assists and advises the customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Export Import (EXIM) Policy governing such an item.
  • Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated to:
    • Collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to the State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals.
    • Establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank.
    • Assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate coordination and universal action for wildlife crime control.
    • Build capacity of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes.
    • Assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes.
    • Advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws.

 

Sample Question

With reference to Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched, consider the following statements

  1. Campaign launched by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India and IUCN.
  2. The campaign aims at creating awareness and garnering public support for the protection and conservation of wildlife, prevention of smuggling and reduction in demand for wildlife products.

 

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic : ISRO launches radar imaging observation satellite RISAT-2B

Topic in Syllabus : Science & Technology

 

Why in news?

ISRO launches radar imaging observation satellite RISAT-2B

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its radar imaging satellite RISAT-2B on May 22, 2019.

 

More about on news:

  • A PSLV rocket of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) placed RISAT-2B, an X-band microwave Earth observation satellite, into orbit 556 km above earth.
  • It is radar imaging earth observation satellite.
  • To launch this satellite ISRO used launch vehicle PSLV-C46 from Sriharikota.
  • Data from the satellite would be vital for the Armed Forces, agriculture forecasters and disaster relief agencies.
  • The new satellite “will enhance India’s all-weather [space-based] capabilities in agriculture, forestry and disaster management.

 

RISAT-2B:

  • The satellite has a mass of 615 kg and feature an X-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar).
  • It is built for a 5 year operational life.
  • RISAT 2B will be launched into a 37° inclined orbit at 555 km orbital height.
  • RISAT 2B, RISAT 2BR1 and RISAT 2BR2 will be launched in 2019 on Indian PSLV launch vehicles.

 

Significance:

  • Regular remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites work like a light-dependent camera that cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects in cloudy or dark conditions.
  • It will mark the resumption of a vital ring of Indian all-seeing radar imaging satellites after seven years.
  • It will add to the reconnaissance capability from about 500 km in space. A constel lation of such space-based radars means a comprehensive vigil over the country.
  • Satellites that were equipped with an active sensor, the SAR could sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud.

 

Sample Question

Consider the following statements with respect recently launched RISAT-2B

  1. It is built for a 10 year operational life
  2. The satellite has a mass of 615 kg and feature an X-band SAR
  3. It will mark the resumption of a vital ring of Indian all-seeing radar imaging satellites after seven years.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 3 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 3 only

c). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


Info graphic Summary


 

infographics 1 - 19th 25th may 2019

Infographics summary 19th to 25th may 2019