Weekly Current Affairs Prelims ( 2nd to 8th September, 2018)

Mustard

 

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims ( 2nd to 8th September, 2018)

 

Topic: Oil and gas reserves

Topic in syllabus: General issues on Environmental Ecology

oil and gas discoveries in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal

Why in news:

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has made oil and gas discoveries in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal that may potentially open up two new sedimentary basins in the country.

Background:

  • ONGC had previously opened six out of India’s seven producing basins for commercial production. It is in the process of adding the eighth by putting Kutch offshore on the oil and gas map of India.
  • The firm has found gas deposits in a block in Vindhyan basin in Madhya Pradesh that is now being tested. the find is at 3,000-plus meters.
  • ONGC has drilled four wells after the discovery and will now hydro-frack it by the end of the year to test commerciality of the finds.
  • Similarly, an oil and gas discovery has been made in a well in Ashok Nagar of 24 Parganas district in West Bengal.
  • Kutch would be India’s eighth sedimentary basin. Cauvery was the last Category-I producing basin which was discovered in 1985.
  • ONGC had made a significant natural gas discovery in the Gulf of Kutch off the west coast a few months back, which it plans to bring to production in 2-3 years

Sedimentary basins in India

India has 26 sedimentary basins, of which only seven have commercial production of oil and gas. Except for the Assam shelf, ONGC opened up for commercial production all the other six basins, including Cambay, Mumbai Offshore, Rajasthan, Krishna Godavari, Cauvery, and Assam-Arakan Fold Belt.

The discovery in Kutch offshore may hold about one trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. The spread of Kutch offshore basin covers an area of 28,000 square kilometers in water depth of up to 200 meters and will become eighth producing basin of the country.

 Categories on basins:

  • Category-I basins : Cambay, Mumbai Offshore, Rajasthan, Krishna Godavari, Cauvery, Assam Shelf and Assam-Arakan Fold Belt are Category-I basins with established commercial production.
  • Category-II basins:  Kutch, Mahanadi-NEC (North East Coast), Andaman-Nicobar, Kerala-Konkan-Lakshadweep where known accumulation of hydrocarbons are there but no commercial production has been achieved so far.
  • Category-III basins : Himalayan Foreland Basin, Ganga Basin, Vindhyan basin, Saurashtra Basin, Kerela Konkan Basin, Bengal Basin are Category-III basins having hydrocarbon shows that are considered geologically prospective.
  • Category-IV basins: Karewa, Spiti-Zanskar, Satpura South Rewa Damodar, Chhattisgarh, Narmada, Deccan Syneclise, Bhima-Kaladgi, Bastar, PranhitaGodavari and Cuddapah are classified as Category-IV basins having uncertain potential which may be prospective by analogy with similar basins in the world.

 

Sample Question:

Q. Which of the following is incorrect regarding oil and gas reserves in India?

a. State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has recently made oil and gas discoveries in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal

b. India has 26 sedimentary basins, of which only seven have commercial production of oil and gas.

c. Sedimentary basins in India are divided into 3 categories –I , II and III

d. Cambay, Mumbai Offshore and Rajasthan are Category-I basins with established commercial production.

 


Topic: ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme

Topic in syllabus: Economic and Social Development

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Why in news:

In a boost to cruise tourism in flood-ravaged Kerala, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned Rs 80.37 crore for the development of basic infrastructures like passenger terminals,boat terminals, and jetties under the ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme.

Background:

Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship scheme of Ministry of tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner. The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 and as on date the Ministry has sanctioned 70 projects for Rs.5708.88 Crore to 29 States and UTs under the Scheme. 30 projects / major components of these projects are expected to be completed this year.

Objective : To develop theme based tourist circuits in the country

Scheme:

  • Tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner
  • They will be developed by synergizing efforts to focus on concerns and needs of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities
  • Under this scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development
  • They are Buddhist Circuit, North-East India Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit
  • The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding
  • It also leverages Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector

Sanctioned under the ‘Development of Rural Circuit: Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project in Kerala’, the Swadesh Darshan scheme will involve 40 km Malabari Cuisine and Culinary Cruise in Valapattanam river (Muthappan Cruise), 16 km Theyyam Cruise in Valapattanam river and 16 km Mangrove Cruise in Kuppam River.

Under the project, the ministry has sanctioned funds for development of basic infrastructure facilities like passenger terminals, boat terminals, jetties, boat race gallery, restaurants, food courts, performance areas, bio-toilets, and Wi-Fi facility among other things, the statement said.

The cruises under the project will be operated under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

For more details, visit http://swadeshdarshan.gov.in/

 

Sample Question:

Q. Consider the following statements about Swadesh Darshan Scheme?

  1. Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship scheme of Ministry of tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country
  2. The scheme is100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding

Which of the above are correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both

d. None

 


Topic: GM Mustard DMH-11

Topic in syllabus: Environment

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Why in news:

  • The environment ministry is set to convene this month a “special meeting” of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to decide on field-trial approvals for the controversial transgenic mustard developed by the University of Delhi’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP).
  • The GEAC, the country’s apex regulator of transgenic products, had in July put a decision on the proposed field trials on hold after some members objected to the use of “unapproved pesticides/herbicides” in the project proposal, according to a record of the meeting made public this week.
  • In March, the GEAC had sought more tests for GM mustard in the wake of a chorus of objections to the transgenic crop and following Union Environment Minister’s intervention in the matter.

GEAC

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) established under MoEFCC is the apex body to accord (notified under Rules 1989) approval of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recom­binants in research and industrial production from the environ­mental angle. The GEAC is also responsible for ap­proval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimen­tal field trials (Biosafety Research Level trial-I and II known as BRL-I and BRL-II).

What is GM Mustard?

  • DMH-11 is a Genetically Modified (GM) mustard hybrid. Hybrids are normally obtained by crossing 2 genetically diverse plants from the same species. The 1st-generation offspring resulting from it has higher yields than what either of the parents is individually capable of giving.
  • But there is no natural hybridization system in mustard, unlike in, say, cotton, maize or tomato. This is because its flowers contain both the female (pistil) and male (stamen) reproductive organs, making the plant naturally self-pollinating.
  • What scientist has done is to create a viable hybridization system in mustard using GM technology. The resulting GM mustard hybrid, it is claimed, gives 25-30% more yield than the best varieties such as ‘Varuna’ currently grown in the country. 

Controversy:

Environmentalists, farmer groups and some scientists argue that transgenic mustard poses several environmental and health risks. Included among these is a contention that it contains a foreign gene from another species, that tests so far have failed to show any appreciable gains in yield over traditional varieties and that it could, if commercially approved, make farmers growing the GM mustard dependent on glyphosate — a weedicide that has been linked to cancer.

Were it to be cleared it would be the first transgenic food crop to be allowed in India.

 

Sample question:

Q. What is DMH-11?

a) Genetically modified mustard

b) Genetically modified maize

c) Genetically modified rice

d) Genetically modified cotton

 


Topic : Coffee Connect – India coffee field force app and Coffee KrishiTharanga

Topic in syllabus: Economic and social development

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Why in news:

Minister for Commerce & Industry launched Coffee Connect – India coffee field force app and Coffee KrishiTharanga – digital mobile extension services for coffee stakeholders.

Coffee Connect mobile app

  • The mobile app Coffee Connect has been developed to ease the work of field functionaries and to improve the work efficiency.
  • This application provides solution by harnessing the power of mobility comprising the latest technology in easing the whole process of the field activities like digitization of Coffee Growers & Estates with Geo Tagging, collecting the Plantation details.
  • It will also help in transparency in the activities of the extension officers and officials, transparency in subsidy disbursement and real time report generation.

The Coffee Krishi Tharanga services

  • The Coffee KrishiTharanga services are aimed at providing customized information and services to increase productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability.
  • The customised services are two ways, 24 X 7 service supports. The “Coffee KrishiTharanga” is pilot tested in the Chikmagalur and Hassan districts of Karnataka State covering 30,000 farmers during the first year and will be extended to remaining growers in a phased manner.
  • NABARD has partly funded the Pilot project. The solution will help in to reach maximum growers in limited period, efficient, timely, customised advisory, improve the efficiency through digitisation and leverage existing mobile reach for wider delivery of improved technology.

Coffee cultivation

Coffee is cultivated in India in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers and 98% of them are small farmers. Its cultivation is mainly confined to Karnataka (54%), Kerala (19%) and Tamil Nadu (8%) which form traditional coffee tracts. Coffee is also grown in non-traditional areas like Andhra Pradesh & Odisha (17.2%) and North Eastern states (1.8%), with main emphasis on tribal development and afforestation.

In line with the digital transformation initiatives of the Government of India, Coffee Board has taken key digital initiatives for the overall technological advancement of the coffee sector and value chain. These initiatives are aimed at benefiting all stakeholders in the coffee value chain. All these initiatives are intended towards unlocking the potential in coffee sector by leveraging the technology and reach such as mobile. The farmers being the end user the technologies have been built on certain critical principles like ease of use, wider participation, maximize reach and benefit.

 

Sample Question:

Q. Which of the following is not correct regarding coffee connect mobile app?

a. The mobile app Coffee Connect has been developed to ease the work of field functionaries and to improve the work efficiency.

b. This application provides solution by harnessing the power of mobility comprising the latest technology in easing the whole process of the field activities

c. It will also help in transparency in the activities of the extension officers and officials, transparency in subsidy disbursement and real time report generation.

d. The app has been launched by Karnataka Government.

 


Topic : Tsunami mock drill ‘IOWave18’

Topic in syllabus: Environment

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Why in news:

Indian Ocean Wave Exercise 2018 (IOWave18) began on September 4, 2018 in the Indian Ocean. India along with 23 other nations is participating in this major Indian ocean-wide tsunami mock drill which involves evacuation of thousands of people from coastal areas in over half a dozen coastal states.

Participants associated with Exercise IOWave18
Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tanzania and Yemen

This tsunami warning exercise is being organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. It was the IOC that coordinated the setting up of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) in the aftermath of December 2004 tsunami.

 

Objective
Besides testing the standard operating procedure (SOP) and communication links at all levels of the warning chain, a primary objective of IOWave18 exercise is to enhance tsunami preparedness at community level.The purpose of exercise is to increase tsunami preparedness, evaluate response capabilities in each state and improve coordination throughout the region.

 

Key Highlights of Exercise IOWave18 

 Exercise IOWave18 will simulate Indian Ocean countries being put in a tsunami warning situation and require the respective National Tsunami Warning Centres and the Disaster Management Offices in each country to implement their Standard Operating Procedures.

 IOWave18 will also provide an opportunity for Member States to test the indicators of Indian Ocean Tsunami Ready (IOTR) programme in pilot communities. IOTR is a community performance-based programme that facilitates a structural and systematic approach in building tsunami preparedness.

 The IOTWMS Tsunami Service Providers (TSP) of Australia, India and Indonesia will provide exercise bulletins and detailed tsunami threat advice on their password-protected websites.

 Exercise IOWave18 will comprise two scenarios on successive days: one in the north western Indian Ocean off the coast of Iran, and the other in the eastern Indian Ocean off the west coast of northern Sumatra.

• The first scenario will simulate a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Iran and the second scenario will simulate a magnitude 9.3 earthquake off the west coast of Northern Sumatra.

 Both scenarios will generate simulated tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean basin.

How IOWave18 will be coordinated in India?

• In India, IOWave18 is being coordinated by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) under Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) with support from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Coastal States/UTs. 

• The exercise will involve the evacuation of more than 125000 people from the coastal communities of Odisha, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Goa. 

• NDRF Battalions, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guards, Army, Critical installations (nuclear power plants), Port & harbors are also participating the exercise.

Background

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) at its 11th session in Malaysia in April 2017 decided to organise an Indian Ocean Wave Exercise 2018 (IOWave18) and established a Task Team to plan and conduct the exercise. 

The Task Team decided to conduct the IOWave18 exercise during September 4-5, 2018. All IOTWMS Member States are encouraged to participate in the exercise to community level.

 2004 Tsunami
On December 26, 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 struck beneath the Indian Ocean, the epicenter being off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.·        The earthquake triggered one of the world’s deadliest tsunamis, which claimed more than 2 lakh lives in South and Southeast Asian nations.·        Deadly waves of up to 30m breached the natural coastlines of the countries.·        Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.·        It is the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes.·        In all, nations across the world donated more than US$14 billion in humanitarian aid for the damaged regions.

About the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

 UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) promotes international cooperation and coordinates programmes in marine research, services, observation systems, hazard mitigation, and capacity development to understand and manage the resources of the ocean and coastal areas. 

 The Commission aims to improve the governance, management, institutional capacity, and decision-making processes of its Member States with respect to marine resources and climate variability.

 IOC coordinates ocean observation and monitoring through the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) which aims to develop a unified network providing information on the oceans. 

 IOC also coordinates and fosters the establishment of regional intergovernmental tsunami warning and mitigation systems in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in the North East Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean seas.

 

Sample Question:

Q. What is IOWave18?

a. Indian Ocean tsunami warning syatem

b. Indian ocean-wide tsunami mock drill

c. Indian Ocean radar system

d. Indian Ocean cyclone warning syatem

 


Topic: Drug-resistant superbugs

Topic in syllabus: General science

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Why in news:

The University of Melbourne’s most recent study on superbugs has alarmed hospitals worldwide, having discovered the newest superbug, Staphylococcus epidermidis, the first one so far that is resistant to all known drugs, spreading undetected across the globe.

Adding to the many threats to human health in the world, strains of superbugs which are being discovered tend to mutate in hospitals, especially Intensive Care Units with sick, low-immunity patients and a large number of strong antibiotics in the area.

When the bacteria comes in contact with an ill patient, the body is too weak to fight it, causing infections and affecting one sick person at a time. Even the World Health Organisation has long since been warning about different strains of drug-resistant bacteria.

For India, this is a serious problem. The country has among the highest rates of unapproved drugs sold, many of which are over-the-counter drugs, and an indiscriminate use of antibiotics, which means that it becomes difficult to assess, control and limit Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR).

Doctors prescribing improper medication won’t just weaken the patient’s immunity, but also contribute to the rise of superbugs. Many drugs of different formulations, not approved by the national drug regulator, continue to be sold mostly to those who are too poor or too desperate for an alternative.

According to a report in this paper in July 2017, India has already begun its efforts through a National Action Plan on AMR, developing ideas on how to combat drug resistance. Even the Indian Council of Medical Research has issued guidelines to standardise antibiotic use, in 2017. But the problem lies in the urgency of this plan to reach the ground.

 Even Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin warned against the indiscriminate use of the antibiotic, because the body will eventually begin to resist it, losing its effect entirely.

As people grow resistant to different drugs, we could see an epidemic in the future, unable to cure even minor illnesses due to improper drug use. We can’t even say that we haven’t been warned.

 

Sample Question:

Q. The University of Melbourne has recently discovered the newest superbug the first one so far that is resistant to all known drugs, spreading undetected across the globe. What is the name of this superbug?

a. Staphylococcus epidermidis

b. Bacillus anthracis

c. Acetobacter aurantius

d. Bordetella pertussis