Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (26th April to 2nd May, 2019)

An emperor Penguin colony in Antarctica vanishes

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (26th April to 2nd May, 2019)

(Info graphic Summary at the end)

 

Topic : Environment Ministry Constitutes Committee to Implement National Clean Air Programme

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

Environment Ministry Constitutes Committee to Implement National Clean Air Programme

The Environment Ministry has reportedly constituted a committee to implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

 

More about on news:

  • It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
  • The committee would be headquartered in New Delhi and its remit includes ensuring “inter-ministerial organization and cooperation, sharing information and resolving issues that could arise between ministries.
  • The committee would also give overall guidance and directions to effectively implement the programmes.
  • The NCAP is envisioned as a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. There would be a review every five years.
  • The committee will be chaired by the Secretary in the Union Environment Ministry. Its members will include the Joint Secretary (Thermal), Ministry of Power, TERI Director General and Professor SachidanandaTripathi from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

 

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

  • The NCAP is envisioned as a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. There would be a review every five years.
  • Achieve a national-level target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
  • The programme has been launched with an initial budget of ₹300 crore for the first two years.
  • The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.

 

NCAP Objectives:

  • To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across the country for ensuring comprehensive and reliable database
  • To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution and for inclusive public participation in both planning and implementation of the programmes and policies of government on air pollution
  • To have feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

 

Why such move?

  • The World Health Organization’s (WHO) database on air pollution over the years has listed Tier I and Tier II Indian cities as some of the most polluted places in the world.
  • In 2018, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India.

 

Sample Question:

Recently the Union Environment Ministry has constituted a new committee to implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), with respect to that consider the following statements.

  1. It aims to cut pollution in the 102 worst affected cities by 20-30 percent by 2024.
  2. The committee will be chaired by the Secretary in the Union Environment Ministry. Its members will include the Joint Secretary (Thermal), Ministry of Power, TERI Director General.

 

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 : ICMR launches ‘MERA India’ to eliminate malaria by 2030

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society

 

Why in news?

ICMR launches 'MERA India' to eliminate malaria by 2030

The Indian Council of Medical Research has launched the ‘Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India’ – a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control – in order to prioritise, plan and scale up research to eliminate the disease from India by 2030.

 

More about on news:

  • The principal activity of the alliance is to prioritise, plan, conduct, scale up and translate relevant research in a coordinated and combinatorial way in order to have a tangible impact on the population who are at risk of malaria.
  • Over the past two decades, India has made impressive progress in malaria control. The malaria burden has declined by over 80 per cent, 2.03 million cases in 2000 to 0.39 million in 2018, and malaria deaths by over 90 per cent, 932 deaths in 2000 to 85 in 2018
  • The National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP) of India has developed a comprehensive framework to achieve the overarching vision of “Malaria free India by 2030”.
  • The NVBDCP’s National Strategic Plan clearly recognizes the critical role of research to support and guide malaria elimination efforts.
  • This situation highlights the need for a common platform and shared research agenda and resources through establishment of the Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India.

 

Facts:

  • Over the past two decades, India has made impressive progress in malaria control.
  • The malaria burden has declined by over 80 per cent, 2.03 million cases in 2000 to 0.39 million in 2018.
  • Malaria deaths by over 90 per cent, 932 deaths in 2000 to 85 in 2018.

 

Significance:

  • It aims to harness and reinforce research in coordinated and combinatorial ways in order to achieve tangible impact on malaria elimination.
  • The MERA India does not intend to duplicate international efforts rather complement this on a national scale while contributing to the broader global agenda.
  • The alliance will facilitate trans-institutional coordination and collaboration around a shared research agenda which responds not only to programmatic challenges and addresses gaps in available tools but also pro-actively contributes to targeted research.
  • MERA India alliance is very important to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare because of the operational research.

 

Way forward:

  • WHO-SEARO, stressed on the need of support from the government
  • The focus should be on the challenges with parasite and vector biology, social science communication and health economics.
  • The need of coordinated approach, research inputs and tools which can guide national programme to develop strategies for the regular changes endemicity in the near malaria elimination era.

 

Sample Question:

The ‘Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India’ is recently launched by

a). Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation

b). NITI Aayog

c). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

d).  The Indian Council of Medical Research

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic :  RBI extends ombudsman scheme to non-deposit taking NBFCs

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

Why in news?

RBI extends ombudsman scheme to non-deposit taking NBFCs

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on recently extended the “ombudsman scheme” for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to non-deposit-taking NBFCs with asset size of at least Rs 100 crore.

 

More about on news:

  • The Reserve Bank of India has extended the coverage of Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), 2018 (the Scheme) to eligible Non Deposit Taking Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC-NDs) having asset size of Rs 100 crore or above with customer interface.
  • The decision comes after the central bank in its “Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies” released earlier this month after the monetary policy meet.
  • NBFC-Infrastructure Finance Companies (NBFC-IFC), core investment companies (CIC), infrastructure debt fund-non-banking financial company (IDFNBFC) and an NBFC under liquidation, are excluded from the ambit of the scheme.
  • The ombudsman scheme was earlier operationalized for deposit-accepting NBFCs. Now, it has been extended to include some other categories of NBFCs.
  • It will help provide a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs covered under the scheme.

 

Banking Ombudsman Scheme:

  • The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was implemented by the RBI to redress the complaints of customers on certain types of banking services provided by banks and to facilitate the settlement of those complaints.
  • The scheme was launched on February 23, 2018 for redressal of complaints against NBFCs registered with RBI under Section 45-IA of the RBI Act, 1934 and covered all deposit accepting NBFCs to begin with.
  • It provides a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs covered under the scheme.
  • The offices of the NBFC ombudsmen are functioning at four metro centres — New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai — and handle complaints of customers in the respective zones.
  • The scheme also provides for an appellate mechanism under which the complainant or the NBFC has the option to appeal against the decision of the ombudsman before the appellate authority.

 

Who is the Banking Ombudsman?

  • The Banking Ombudsman actually is a senior official appointed by the RBI to redress customer complaints against pitfalls in the stipulated banking services covered by the Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2006 (modifications were made in 2017).
  • As on end April 2018, twenty Banking Ombudsmen have been appointed with their offices located mostly in state capitals.

 

Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018:

  • The RBI introduced an NBFC Ombudsman scheme to redress complaints with regard to NBFCs in 2018.
  • The NBFC Ombudsman is a senior official appointed by the RBI to redress customer complaints against NBFCs for deficiency in certain services covered under the grounds of complaint specified under Clause 8 of the Scheme.
  • Four NBFC Ombudsman have been appointed with their offices located at Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Mumbai.

 

Areas of customer redressal available with the Ombudsman mechanism:

The RBI has listed around 25 areas where the customers can raise complaints with the Banking Ombudsman. Some of them are:

  • Non-payment/ inordinate delay in the payment or collection of cheques, drafts, bills etc.
  • Non-payment/delay in payment of inward remittances.
  • Failure/delay to issue drafts, pay orders or bankers’ cheques.
  • Non-adherence to prescribed working hours
  • Refusal to open deposit accounts without any valid reason for refusal
  • Levying of charges without adequate prior notice to the customer
  • Refusal/delay in closing the accounts
  • Non-observance of Reserve Bank guidelines on engagement of recovery agents by banks.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Banking ombudsman

  1. Banking ombudsman is a quasi-judicial authority
  2. It is run by the RBI directly to ensure customer protection in the banking industry.
  3. The Banking Ombudsman is a senior official appointed by the Minister of Finance of India.
  4. It is created to resolve customer complaints against banks relating to certain services provided by them.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1, 2 and 4 only

b). 2, 3 and 4 only

c). 1 and 4 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: a)

 


 

Topic :  RBI divests entire stake in NHB, NABA

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

Why in news?

RBI divests entire stake in NHB, NABA

The RBI has divested its remaining stake in the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and National Housing Bank (NHB) in February and March this year.

 

More about on news:

  • The government now fully owns these two financial institutions.
  • While the RBI stake-sale of 1 per cent in NABARD in February yielded ₹20 crore, 100 per cent disinvestment in NHB brought in ₹1,450 crore.
  • Divestment of RBI’s shareholding in NABARD was done in two phases.
  • The RBI held 100 per cent shareholding in NHB, which was divested on March 19, 2019.

 

About National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD):

  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is an apex development financial institution in India, headquartered at Mumbai with regional offices all over India.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) holds the majority stake in it.
  • The Bank has been entrusted with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.
  • It was established on the recommendations of B.Sivaraman Committee on 12 July 1982 to implement the NABARD Act 1981.
  • NABARD supervises State Cooperative Banks (StCBs), District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs), and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and conducts statutory inspections of these banks.
  • It is active in developing financial inclusion policy and is a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.

 

About National Housing Bank (NHB):

  • National Housing Bank, a Government of India owned entity, was set up on 9 July 1988 under the National Housing Bank Act, 1987.
  • NHB is an apex financial institution for housing.
  • NHB has been established with an objective to operate as a principal agency to promote housing finance institutions both at local and regional levels and to provide financial and other support incidental to such institutions and for matters connected therewith.
  • NHB registers, regulates and supervises Housing Finance Company (HFCs), keeps surveillance through On-site & Off-site Mechanisms and co-ordinates with other Regulators.
  • It aims to provide financial and other support incidental to such institutions and for matters connected therewith.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to National Housing Bank

  1. NHB is an apex financial institution for housing.
  2. NHB has been established with an objective to operate as a principal agency to promote housing finance institutions both at local and regional levels.

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 :  An emperor Penguin colony in Antarctica vanishes

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

An emperor Penguin colony in Antarctica vanishes

The Antarctic’s second-largest colony of emperor penguins collapsed in 2016, with more than 10,000 chicks lost, and the population has not recovered, according to a new study.

 

Threats to emperor Penguin:

  • Many of the adults relocated nearby, satellite imagery shows, but the fact that emperor penguins are vulnerable in what had been considered the safest part of their range raises serious long-term concerns
  • The colony at Halley Bay has all but disappeared, the research team at the British Antarctic Survey said
  • Emperor penguins — the world’s largest — breed and molt on sea ice, chunks of frozen seawater.
  • Awkward on land, they cannot climb icy cliffs and so are vulnerable to warming weather and high winds whipping across the ice.
  • Under the influence of the strongest El Niño in 60 years, September 2015 was a particularly stormy month in the area of Halley Bay, with heavy winds and record-low sea ice.
  • The penguins generally stayed there from April until December when their chicks fledged or had grown their feathers, but the storm occurred before the chicks were old enough.
  • The drastic declines in emperor penguin populations by the end of the century, because of climate change.

 

About emperor penguin:

  • The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica.
  • The male and female are similar in plumage and size, reaching 122 cm in height and weighing from 22 to 45 kg.
  • Feathers of the head and back are black and sharply delineated from the white belly, pale-yellow breast and bright-yellow ear patches.
  • Like all penguins it is flightless with wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat.
  • They breed during the Antarctic winter. For breeding they trek 50–120 km over the ice to breeding colonies located at Cape Washington, Coulman Island in Victoria Land, Halley, Cape Colbeck, and Dibble Glacier.
  • The female lays a single egg, which is incubated for just over two months by the male while the female returns to the sea to feed.
  • IUCN Status: Near threatened.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to Emperor Penguin

  1. The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species.
  2. It is only endemic to
  3. The emperor penguin is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

 

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 and 3 only

b). 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d).  All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic :   The rediscovery of wild food plants

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Why in news?

The rediscovery of wild food plants

India is slowly rediscovering wild food plants, the forests must be co-managed by tribal communities in order to preserve them for posterity.

 

Wild food plants:

  • Wild food plants (WFPs), which are neither cultivated nor domesticated, constitute a special category.
  • They grow wild in forests as well as in farmlands and are harvested by local people as sources of food.
  • The tradition of eating WFPs, to augment staple food crops, continues in the present day. For forest- dwelling communities, forests remain the main source of food, nutrition, and livelihoods even today.
  • Indigenous knowledge and the uses of plants, however, are in danger of being lost.
  • In many places, environmental and cultural transformations have led to changes in eating habits and practices.

 

About Soliga tribe:

  • The Soligas are one of few remaining forest-dwelling tribes in and around the forests of BiligiriRanganath (BR) Hills, MM Hills, and Bandipur in Karnataka and the Sathyamangalam forests in Tamil Nadu.
  • The study revealed that the diversity of WFPs consumed by the Soligas evolved over generations as a survival strategy.
  • They relate the usage of WFPs to seasonal plant availability and the status of resources and can even predict the availability of WEPs with respect to micro-climatic changes, indicating a long-term intimate knowledge of their surroundings.
  • In the hot dry summers, the Soligas use leaves and fruits like mango, jackfruit, amla, bel and tamarind.
  • Except rice, another staple food of Soligas which they grow, the forests give them everything else.

 

Threats to WFPs:

  • Despite their role in food security, forests are mostly left out of policy decisions related to food security and nutrition.
  • But because of this, these WFPs are also under threat. Forest foods are in high demand, both in tribal community markets and nearby rural markets.
  • Demand for forest produce such as honey and amla is growing in cities.
  • Though this may appear an opportunity for economic empowerment of tribal communities, if not managed, over-harvesting could lead to degradation of the forests and ultimately, disappearance of these very species.
  • Although Chamarajanagara district has the highest forest cover and protected areas in Karnataka, it also suffers from a high rate of degradation due to stone quarry and development activities.
  • The other threat is from commercial monoculture plantations on forestland under afforestation and social forestry programmes, which are crowding out these wild species.

 

Way forward:

  • For WFPs to be preserved for posterity, the forests must be co-managed by tribal communities.
  • For the tribal communities, the forest is not just a source of food, but is also a part of their identity. Their way of life is respectful of nature and recognises diversity in its different manifestations.
  • The tribal community’s relationship with the forest is one of belonging rather than ownership. Community forest management is good for the health of the forests.
  • Implementation of India’s landmark 2006 Forest Rights Act that offers provisions to involve communities in safeguarding forest resources and developing co-management plans is needed.

 

Sample Question:

Soliga are

a). Tribes in Meghlaya

b). Tribes in Ladakh

c). Tribes in Karnataka

d). Tribes in Andhra Pradesh

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic :  Why the Hangul’s future still hangs in the balance?

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

Why the Hangul’s future still hangs in the balance

A massive decline in the population of Kashmir’s iconic wildlife species, the Hangul (Cervushangluhanglu), also known as the Kashmir stag, continues to be a big concern as conservation efforts for the deer, going on for years, have not yielded any significant results so far.

 

More about on news:

  • The Hangul, the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • It is restricted to the Dachigam National Park some 15 km north-west of Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.
  • From a population of 5,000 in the early 1900s, the Hangul’s numbers have constantly declined over the decades, making it largely confined to the 141 square kilometres of Dachigam National Park,
  • Some studies suggest that small isolated Hangul herds of five to ten have been reported from adjoining areas of Dachigam which include Shikargah-Tral and the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary in south Kashmir.

 

About Hangul:

  • The Hangul was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir and parts of Chamba district in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
  • The IUCN’s Red List has classified it as Critically Endangered and is similarly listed under the Species Recovery Programme of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • The Hangul is considered equally significant to the state of Jammu & Kashmir as the tiger is to the whole of India.
  • It is the only Asiatic survivor or sub-species of the European red deer. But the state animal’s decreasing population remains a big concern.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red Data Book has declared the Hangul as one of three species that were critically endangered in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Hangul is placed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978.

 

Threats:

  • The biggest challenges which have been identified by experts in the way of conservation and population growth of Hangul are habitat fragmentation, predation and very low fawn-female ratio.
  • Another challenge is the male-female and fawn-adult disparity in the Hangul population. Ahmad said that a decline in the Hangul’s population is mainly occurring due to low recruitment rate of fawns to adults.
  • The female-biased ratio and the fawn to female ratio of 30:100 are the two main reasons for the declining numbers of Kashmir’s Hangu
  • The fawns are also predated upon by the dogs of security forces deployed in forests and the dogs of nomads who graze their herds in areas which are Hangul habitats.
  • excessive predation of fawns by the Common Leopard
  • The Himalayan Black Bear and nomads’ dogs.

 

Conservation efforts:

  • An important part of the conservation project for Hangul is to study the food habits, breeding patterns and movements of the species in and out of its habitat
  • Another conservation measure taken by the wildlife department in recent years is a project for improving the population of the Hangul through ex-situ breeding.
  • The breeding centre, along with some infrastructure over a five-acre forested area in south Kashmir’s Shikargah-Tral was started a few years ago. But wildlife officials say that so far, they have not come across any appropriate parental stock.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to Hangul, consider the following statements

  1. It is the only sub-species of European red deer in India
  2. It has been incorporated in Schedule-1 of both the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978.
  3. Hangul, is the state animal of West Bengal.

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: d)

 


 

Topic :  99942 Apophis

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Why in news?

99942 Apophis

Accroding to scientist  Asteroid called 99942 Apophis will cruise by Earth, about 31,000 km above the surface.

 

More about on news:

  • The 340 meter wide asteroid named 99942 APOPHIS will shoot across the sky like a “moving star-like point of light”, getting brighter and faster on Friday April 13 2029.
  • This will first visible to the naked eye at 19,000 miles above the earth’s surface in the night sky over the Southern Hemisphere from the east coast to the west coast of Australia.
  • After this, asteroid will move towards Indian Ocean, then towards west above Africa, after that towards Atlantic Ocean in just an hour, it will reach to the US sky later in the day.
  • Scientists are hoping they can use its flyby to learn about an asteroid’s interior.
  • Apophis is named for an Egyptian god of chaos.
  • It is not expected to harm the earth but the size of asteroid have created curiosity among scientific community.

 

Asteroids:

  • Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the sun. Although asteroids orbit the sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets.
  • There are lots of asteroids in our solar system. Most of them live in the main asteroid belt—a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
  • Asteroids are left over from the formation of our solar system.
  • Our solar system began about 4.6 billion years ago when a big cloud of gas and dust collapsed. When this happened, most of the material fell to the center of the cloud and formed the sun.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to 99942 Apophis

  1. Apophis is one of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids.
  2. The asteroid is 360 m wide.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Niether 1 nor 2

 

Answer: a)

 


Info graphic Summary


 

26th Apr to 2nd May Prelims CA - Info graphic Summary