Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (24th to 30th January, 2019)

What is the lowdown on zearalenone in cereals

 

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (24th to 30th January, 2019)

(Infographics at the end of the post)

Topic: ICAR launches National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

ICAR launches National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)

Why in news?

Recently Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) launches National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.

 

More about on news:

  • This was stated by the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare while addressing inaugural function of the fourth Convention of 2-day “Agrivision-2019”.
  • In order to make agriculture education useful, the recommendations of the 5th Dean Committee have been implemented in all the Agricultural Universities under which amendment of agricultural degree courses has been done to include biotechnology, information technology, bio-informatics, remote sensing, organic farming, agriculture business management etc.
  • Emphasis has been given on experiential learning, skill and entrepreneurship development.
  • Along with this, four new programs, B.Tech (Biotechnology), B.Sc. Community Science, B.Sc. Food Nutrition and Dietetics and B.Sc. Sericulture have also been included.
  • In order to promote the participation of students in agricultural business, Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana) scheme is being run, under which practical experience of agriculture and entrepreneurship is provided to undergraduate students.
  • A MoU has been signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to promote skill development in the field of agriculture.
  • Under this, skill development training programs are being organized regularly in KVKs across the country.
  • These training programs are based on agriculture and related topics.

 

National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP):

  • The ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)
  • It aims to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  • This project will be funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 50:50 basis.
  • In addition, a four year degree in Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Forestry has been declared a professional degree.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the statements are correct with respect to National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)

  1. The ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)
  2. It aims to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  3. This project will be funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 60:40 basis.

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)

 


 

Topic: What is the lowdown on zearalenone in cereals?

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

What is the lowdown on zearalenone in cereals

Why in news?

This month, a Journal of Food Science study detected zearalenone in wheat, rice, corn and oats from markets in Uttar Pradesh.

 

More about on news:

  • The study, by researchers from Lucknow’s Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), found the substance in 70 of the 117 samples tested.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India does not impose maximum limits for zearalenone, though the European Union (EU) does.
  • Twenty-four of the U.P. samples exceeded the EU regulatory limits of 100-200 mcg/kg of cereals.
  • Based on this, the authors say India should set limits on zearalenone in cereals.
  • While numerous studies document this toxin in cereals across the world, no data existed for India until now.

 

Zearalenone:

  • Zearalenone is a fungal toxin infesting cereals such as wheat, maize and barley.
  • It attacks crops while they are growing, but can also develop when cereals are stored without being dried fully.

Mycotoxins in Crops

 

About Fungal Toxins:

  • Fungal toxins are commonly found in food, and can be a public health concern.
  • India regulates the levels of some of these, including aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol, ergot and patulin.
  • The first three infest cereals, while patulin is found in apples.
  • Each of these toxins has been associated with disease outbreaks. For example, in 1974, a hepatitis outbreak in Rajasthan and Gujarat, which made 398 people sick and killed 106, was linked to aflatoxin in maize.
  • Chronic aflatoxin consumption has been shown to cause liver cancer.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies aflatoxin as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning there is enough evidence for its carcinogenicity.
  • In zearalenone’s case, there is no strong evidence of toxicity in humans so far, though several research groups are investigating.
  • As a result, the IARC classifies it as a Group 3 carcinogen, which means evidence is not sufficient for an evaluation yet.

 

Why does it matter?

  • Zearalenone behaves like oestrogen, the female sex hormone, and could cause endocrine disturbances in humans.
  • Its nasty effects in animals, such as pigs, are documented.
  • When fed with mouldy corn, pigs develop inflamed vaginas, infertility and other symptoms. This is why countries like Brazil regulate zearalenone levels in animal feed.
  • In humans, the data are fuzzier. It is probably dangerous to humans too, but to be certain, we need to know how much humans consume, how it is metabolised, and how exposure is correlated with disease.
  • Some experiments suggest its ill-effects: in one, when oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells were exposed to the chemical in a lab, they proliferated.
  • In 2014, a Tunisian case-control study found a correlation between a zearalenone metabolite in urine and breast-cancer risk in women.

 

Way forward for the problem:

  • More data are needed from cereals in other States, and from other storage conditions, before India decides to set limits.
  • Since zearalenone favours cool climates, such contamination could be limited to a few States.
  • Also, strong epidemiological data linking human zearalenone levels with diseases such as breast cancer are important.
  • The paper is an excellent starting point, since nothing was known about the chemical in India so far. It is time to build upon it.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to Zearalenone, consider the following statements

  1. Zearalenone is a fungal toxin infesting cereals such as wheat, maize and barley.
  2. It attacks crops while they are growing, but can also develop when cereals are stored without being dried fully.
  3. Recently The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India imposed maximum limits for zearalenone.

Choose the correct answer form the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic: NITI Aayog 2.0

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

NITI Aayog 2.0

Why in news?

Former Finance Commission Chairman Vijay Kelkar has proposed the setting up of a new ‘NITI Aayog’ in order to overcome the challenges posed to the present one.

 

More about on news:

  • Former Finance Commission chairman Vijay Kelkar has pitched for setting up of a ‘new Niti Aayog’ and giving it responsibility for allocating capital and revenue grants to the states.
  • The new organization, NITI Aayog 2.0 will remain dierent from the current Planning Commission.
  • Only after ve years of the government replacing the Planning Commission by the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, a former senior bureaucrat has demanded the revamping of it into yet another avatar, called the NITI Aayog 2.0.
  • Thus, the erstwhile Planning Commission was abolished to usher in a new spirit of cooperative federalism a new think tank ‘NITI Aayog’ was created to facilitate and integrate grass root planning and enable the government in policy making.

 

The Need to Establish NITI Aayog:

  • The main aim for the setting up of a new NITI Aayog is to give it responsibility for allocating capital and revenue grants to the states.
  • In the Paper, emphasizes that a functionally distinct entity like the new think tank should be put to use soon. The issues pertain to the structural issues including removal of regional imbalances in the economy.
  • This new suggestion of establishment of a new planning body, in no way wants to imply that the new NITI Aayog resembles or takes after the old Planning Commission.
  • The replacing the Planning Commission by the NITI Aayog has reduced the government’s policy reach. The former was, in any case, helpful in promoting regionally balanced growth in India.
  • To make the new NITI Aayog more effective, it is crucial that the institution is at the ‘High Table’ of decision making of the government. “This means the vice-chairman of the new NITI Aayog will need to be a permanent invitee of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
  • The new NITI Aayog should not concern itself with the approval of the state’s annual expenditure programmes. “It should rather strive to be a think-tank with ‘praxis’ possessing considerable financial muscle and devote its energies to outline coherent medium and long term strategy and corresponding investment resources for transforming India,” he suggested.
  • The new NITI Aayog will annually require resources around 1.5%-2% of the GDP so as to provide suitable grants to the states for mitigating the development imbalances.

NITI Aayog

 

The Niti Aayog 2.0:

  • The new Niti Aayog will annually need the resources of around 1.5 to 2 per cent of the GDP to provide suitable grants to the states for mitigating the development imbalances.
  • It will have the powers for allocating development or transformational capital or revenue grants to the states.
  • The new Niti Aayog will not approve the annual expenditure programmes of individual states, unlike the Planning Commission.
  • The Niti Aayog 2.0 shall be a permanent invitee of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), just like the Planning Commission
  • This is to enable it to contribute to the highest level of policy making with knowledge-based advice and the national and long term perspective on the policy proposals.

 

NITI Aayog:

  • NITI Aayog was formed on January 1, 2015.
  • It is neither a constitutional nor a statutory body.
  • NITI Aayog is created via an executive resolution of the Union Cabinet.
  • It is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs.
  • It had replaced the 65-year old Planning Commission established in 1950.
  • Prime Minister is ex-officio Chairperson of the Aayog.
  • NITI Aayog plays important role in designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the Government.
  • It also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States.
  • It also acts as the quintessential platform of Union Government to bring States to act together in national interest, and thereby fosters Cooperative Federalism.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to The Niti Aayog 2.0

  1. The new Niti Aayog will annually need the resources of around 1.5 to 2 per cent of the GDP to provide suitable grants to the states for mitigating the development imbalances.
  2. The new Niti Aayog will approve the annual expenditure programmes of individual states, like the Planning Commission.
  3. The Niti Aayog 2.0 shall not be a permanent invitee of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), unlike the Planning Commission.

Choose the incorrect answer from the above statements

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). None of the above

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic: Skill Ministry strengthens Jan Shikshan Sansthans

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

 

Skill Ministry strengthens Jan Shikshan Sansthans

Why in news?

Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Petroleum and Natural Gas recently announced reforms for Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS), in a bid to boost skill training and entrepreneurship in the remotest corners of the country.

 

About Jan Shikshan Sansthan:

  • Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) are established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, as well as school drop outs by identifying skills as would have a market in the region of their establishment.
  • JSSs can play an important role in bridging information asymmetry between skill training and market opportunities, thereby giving an impetus to the creation of a workforce equipped with technology skills in areas such as health and wellness, tourism, e-commerce, retail and trade.
  • JSSs are encouraged to undertake training equivalent to courses designed by the Directorate of Adult Education, National Institute of Open Schooling and Director General, Employment & Training.
  • Formerly under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, JSS was transferred to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship last year.
  • Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs), have been categorized into three categories, namely, Category ‘A’, Category ‘B’ and Category ‘C’.

 

The Scope of Work of Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) will include the following:

  • Develop/ Source appropriate curriculum and training modules covering vocational elements general awareness and life enrichment components.
  • Wherever possible, JSS are encouraged to undertake
  • Training equivalent to courses designed by the Directorate of Adult education, National Institute of Open Schooling and Director General Employment & Training.
  • Provide training to a pool of resource persons and master trainers for conducting training as also availability of infrastructure and training – specific equipment.
  • Administer simple tests and award certificates
  • Network with employers and industries for trainees to get suitable placements.

 

An Overview of Jan Shikshan Sansthan:

  • Currently, there are 247 JSSs working across the country towards making skilling and entrepreneurship benefits accessible to the underprivileged and are imparting vocational skill training programmes to beneficiaries at their doorstep.
  • In the past five years, over eight lakh people have benefitted from the JSS scheme.
  • More than 86,000 men have been registered. More importantly, and what is a very encouraging sign, there has been an unprecedented surge in the registration of women, with over 7 lakh registrations.
  • JSSs have helped open over 1 lakh bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan DhanYojana (PMJDY) and mobilized around 7.5 lakh beneficiaries who were enrolled in Pradhan Mantri Suraksha BimaYojana (PMSBY).

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to Jan ShikshanSansthan (JSS)

  1. Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) are established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, SCs, STs, women and girls, slum dwellers, migrant workers.
  2. Centre has brought the JSS under the National skill qualification framework (NSQF) aligning all skilling activities to a common cause of skill development at the district and village level.
  3. At present the JSS is established only in the North-Eastern region.

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: b)

 


 

Topic: Test and Certification Agency clears Biojet fuel for Aircraft

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Test and Certification Agency clears Biojet fuel for Aircraft

Why in news?

In a significant move, the use of indigenously produced bio-fuel for military aircraft has been cleared after months of exhaustive ground and flight trials.

 

More about on news:

  • The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) deliberated in detail the results of various checks and tests conducted on bio-jet fuel as per procedure recommended by top national and international certification agencies.
  • On being completely satisfied with the performance parameters, the agency has formally granted its approval for use of this fuel, produced from non-conventional source i.e.
  • This approval enables the IAF to fulfil its commitment to fly the maiden IAF An-32 aircraft on January 26, 2019, with a blend of bio-jet fuel.

 

Bio-jet fuel:

  • Bio jet fuel can be produced from animal fat, used cooking oil, waste dairy fat, sewage sludge, etc.
  • The oil needs to have a freezing point below -47 degrees so it doesn’t freeze at altitudes at which planes fly, should not catch fire on ground when being transferred into a plane, must have the same density as ATF, have a certain calorific value and should not choke the filters.
  • 70% of the cost of the bio fuel constitutes the feed cost and therefore if the production of these crops can be scaled up, the oil produced can be cost competitive.
  • A blend of 25% of bio jet fuel and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was carried in one of the two engines of the plane, while the other engine carried only ATF.

Value Chain

 

Significance:

  • This clearance is a major step for continued testing and eventual full certification of the bio-jet fuel for use on a commercial scale by civil aircraft as well.
  • Increased demand of bio-jet fuel would give impetus to increase in collection of tree-borne non-edible oil seeds, which, in turn, will help generate ancillary income, increase remuneration for tribal and marginal farmers, and enthuse cultivation/ collection of oilseeds.
  • This standard would enable the oil companies to manufacture bio-jet fuel for the Indian aviation industry.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the followings with respect to Bio-jet fuel

  1. Bio jet fuel can be produced from animal fat, used cooking oil, waste dairy fat, sewage sludge, etc
  2. In India the bio-jet fuel has been produced from seeds of Jatropha plant sourced from Chhattisgarh and processed at CSIR-IIP’s lab at Dehradun.

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: e-Courts Services through Common Service Centres

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

 

e-Courts Services through Common Service Centres

Why in news?

Court case information such as judicial proceedings/decisions, case registration, because list, case status, daily orders, and final judgments of all computerized district and subordinate courts of the country will now be available across all Common Service Centers in the country.

 

More about on news:

  • The Government of India had initiated second phase of the eCourts project as one of the National e-Governance projects, in August, 2015 with an outlay of Rs.1670 crores.
  • As on date, 16845 district and subordinate courts has been IT enabled.
  • In order to provide efficient and time-bound access to the Courts services to litigant public, who are on the other side of the digital divide and don’t have access to internet, the Department of Justice has decided to deliver eCourts services to them through around 2 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs).
  • The rural reach of the CSC’s is extensive, envisaging a minimum of one CSC in each Gram Panchayat, thus enabling eCourts services to reach all corners of the country.
  • The collaboration between Department of Justice and Common Service Centers would thus mean that litigants can access easily, and readily case status information available on eCourts database from any CSC.
  • The eCourts database contains case information in respect of over 10 crore cases and more than 7 crore orders / judgments.

 

E-Courts:

The e-Courts Mission Mode Project, is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for the District Courts across the country.

 

Objectives:

Overall objectives

  • To provide efficient & time-bound citizen centric services delivery as detailed in eCourt Project Litigant’s Charter.
  • To develop, install & implement decision support systems in courts.
  • To automate the processes to provide transparency in accessibility of information to its stakeholders.
  • To enhance judicial productivity, both qualitatively & quantitatively, to make the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost effective, predictable, reliable and transparent.

 

Significance:

  • The e-Courts project has made significant progress under the guidance of e-Committee of Supreme Court of India in computerizing district and subordinate courts of the country through installation of case information software, hardware and local area network in courts.
  • They are also being connected on Wide Area Network through a dedicated network offering bandwidth upto 100 Mbps.
  • E-Courts services have now been successfully rolled out through SMS, email, web, mobile app etc. benefiting millions of litigants and advocates.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the statements regarding e-courts initiative by the government of India are true?

  1. The e-Courts project has made significant progress under the guidance of e-Committee of Supreme Court of India in computerizing district and subordinate courts of the country through installation of case information software, hardware and local area network in courts.
  2. They are also being connected on Wide Area Network through a dedicated network offering bandwidth upto 100 Mbps.
  3. This monitored and funded by NITI Aayog.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d). All of the above

Answer: b)

 


 

Topic: Two-Day Coastal Defence Exercise “Sea Vigil” Concludes

Topic in Syllabus: Security Issues

 

Two-Day Coastal Defence Exercise “Sea Vigil” Concludes

Why in news?

More than 10 years after the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, the Indian Navy recently kicked off its largest coastal defence exercise, code-named “SEA VIGIL” along the entire coastline of the country.

 

More about on Exercise “SEA VIGIL”:

  • The exercise, a first of its kind, is being undertaken along the entire 7516.6 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and involves all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with all maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.
  • The scale of the exercise is unprecedented in terms of the geographical extent, the number of stakeholders involved, the number of units deployed, and in terms of the objectives to be met.
  • The exercise is a build-up towards the major theatre level tri-service exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which Indian Navy conducts every two years.
  • The conduct of the exercise SEA VIGIL has been facilitated by the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs, State Governments and other agencies of Centre/ State.
  • Exercise SEA VIGIL to provide a realistic assessment of our strengths and weakness and this will certainly help further strengthening of maritime security and in turn national security.

 

Significance:

  • Exercise SEA VIGIL aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since ’26/11′.
  • The exercise will entail both seaward and shore-based monitoring.
  • Exercise SEA VIGIL to provide a realistic assessment of our strengths and weakness and this will certainly help further strengthening of maritime security and in turn national security.
  • The exercise will in addition to covering the entire coastline, will also go deeper into the hinterland.

 

Background:

  • In February 2009, the government designated the Indian Navy as the authority responsible for overall maritime security, which includes coastal and offshore security, assisted by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), state marine police forces and other central and state agencies.
  • Post 26/11, the Navy was designated as the agency responsible for overall maritime security, including offshore and coastal security.
  • The Coast Guard was designated as the agency responsible for coastal security in territorial waters.
  • A multi-tiered patrol and surveillance mechanism with focus on technical surveillance and augmenting Maritime Domain Awareness through the coastal radar chain was adopted.
  • Progress has been made in real-time information sharing through the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network and improving intelligence and operational coordination.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to Exercise “Sea Vigil”

  1. It is first of its kind multi-agency drill, covering the entire 7,516 km-long Indian coastline and exclusive economic zone and involving 13 coastal states and Union Territories.
  2. It aims comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since ’26/11′ Mumbai attacks.

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: PM launches Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana

Topic in Syllabus: Schemes & Programmes

 

PM launches Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana

Why in news?

Recently Prime Minister launched the Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana under which a group of Indian diaspora will be taken on a government-sponsored tour of religious places in India twice a year.

 

More about one scheme:

  • The first batch of 40 Indian-origin people are at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and they would be beginning their tour from there.
  • This Govt. Scheme started for Pravasi of India living in other Countries.
  • PM Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana govt. will sponsored a Non Residential Indian (NRI) Religious Tour in India.
  • The Indian government will bear basic expenses of beneficiary under the PM Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana.
  • If the person is 60 to 65 year old NRI citizen then you are an eligible candidate for apply PM Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana.
  • The PM Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana is a 25 days nationwide tour program.
  • The NRI Citizens of worldwide may apply under the NRI Religious Tour Scheme.

 

PM Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana Key Highlights:

  • The group will be taken to the religious places of all major religions in India.
  • The tour would be completely government sponsored, as the government will bear all the expenses including the airfare from their country of residence.
  • Under the eligibility criteria, all people of Indian-origin, aged between 45 and 65 can apply and a group will be selected out of them.
  • The first preference will be given to people from ‘Girmitiya countries’ such as Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to

  1. Under this scheme the group will be taken to the religious places of all major religions in India.
  2. All people of Indian-origin, aged between 45 and 65 can apply and a group will be selected out of them.
  3. The first preference will be given to people from ‘Girmitiya countries’ such as Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d)


Infographics of the weekly current affairs 24-30th Jan, 2019

Prelims Jan current affairs Infographics