Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (31st January to 6th February, 2019)

139 cities violating air quality norms not included in NCAP

 

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (31st January to 6th February, 2019)

(Infographic Summary at the end)

 

Topic: Shri Piyush Goyal launches the IEA’s Report “The Future of Rail”

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

 

Shri Piyush Goyal launches the IEA’s Report “The Future of Rail”

Why in news?

Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal launched the report “The Future of Rail” of International Energy Agency (IEA).

 

More about on news:

  • “The Future of Rail” the first-of-a-kind report analyses the current and future importance of rail around the world through the perspective of its energy and environmental implications.
  • The report reviews the impact of existing plans and regulations on the future of rail, and explores the key policies that could help to realize an enhanced future rail.
  • This first ever global report has a focus on India, elaborating on the unique social and economic role of rail in India, together with its great enduring potential.
  • It showcases how India can extend and update its networks to harness rail at a scope and scale that is unparalleled.
  • The transport sector is responsible for almost one-third of final energy demand, nearly two-thirds of oil demand and nearly one-quarter of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion.
  • Therefore changes in transportation are fundamental to achieving energy transitions globally.
  • While the rail sector carries 8 per cent of the world’s passengers and 7 per cent of global freight transport, it represents only 2 per cent of total transport energy demand, highlighting its efficiency.
  • The report includes a specific focus on India. “Rail serves as a vital lifeline of India, playing a unique social and economic role,

 

International Energy Agency (IEA)

  • It was established in 1974 as per framework of the OECD
  • The IEA is an inter-governmental organization that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and 8 association countries.
  • The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.
  • The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia
  • India has become an associate member of IEA.
  • Presently it has 30 member countries including India.
  • The Agency’s mandate has broadened to focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy:
    • energy security,
    • economic development, and
    • environmental protection
  • The IEA has a broad role in promoting alternate energy sources (including renewable energy), rational energy policies, and multinational energy technology co-operation.

 

India and the International Energy Agency (IEA):

  • India and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have benefited from a long, on-going bilateral relationship and cooperation in a broad range of area including energy security, statistics, energy efficiency, market analysis for oil, gas, electricity, renewables, system integration and implementation agreements for enhanced technologies.
  • India has been the focus of many recent IEA analyses and reports for instance through the special focus chapter on the Indian Power sector of the Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) publication and the World Energy Outlook (WEO).
  • High level policy dialogues have been further intensified over the last few years including a statement of intent on data and research cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding on clean energy research and development tracking.
  • IEA has also held workshops and training programmes in India on energy data training, energy efficiency, strategic petroleum reserves, and the integration of renewables into the grid.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the followings with respect to The Future of Rail

  1. The Future of Rail” the first-of-a-kind report analyses the current and future importance of rail around the world.
  2. It showcases how India can extend and update its networks to harness rail at a scope and scale that is unparalleled.
  3. The report as been released by International Energy Forum (IEF).

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: 139 cities violating air quality norms not included in NCAP: Airpocalypse III Report

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

139 cities violating air quality norms not included in NCAP

Why in news?

A Greenpeace India report released on recently  analyses PM10 annual average recorded for 280 cities which have 630 million, or 53% citizens of the country’s total population.

 

Key Highlights from the report:

  • The report title ‘Airpocalypse III’ analyzed air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.
  • It said that of the 313 cities, 241 are on the list of non-attainment cities (highly polluted cities), but the NCAP has included only 102.
  • “All these 241 cities are on the list of ‘non-attainment’ cities that are required to take action under the NCAP.
  • This is a sharp increase of 139 cities (and) the list of non-attainment cities in the NCAP was drawn up using data from 2011-2015,”
  • Over 130 highly polluted cities violating the national air quality standards have been left out of the recently launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
  • A Greenpeace India report, which identified 139 cities where air pollution level exceeds national standards, said the NCAP is based on limited data from 2011-2015 and that’s why a large number of highly polluted cities have been kept out of its purview.
  • According to report realizing the 30 per cent pollution reduction target by 2024 must be only the first step in making India’s air breathable. That will still leave about 50 per cent cities in violation of the national air quality standards.

 

47 million children worst affected:

  • As many as 47 million children under the age of five years are residing in areas where PM10 levels exceeded CPCB annual limits, including 17 million children under the age of five who are in the areas where pollution levels are more than twice the limits.
  • Children are worst affected in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Delhi respectively.
  • Together these states are home to 12.9 million children who are below or up to five years of age trapped in bad air exceeding by more than twice the annual standard.

 

National Clean Air Programme

  • The Centre launched what it described as a “war against pollution” across the country a Rs 300-crore National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
  • It proposes a “tentative national target” of 20%-30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • NCAP will be rolled out in 102 cities that are considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The government has stressed that NCAP is a scheme, not a “legally binding” document with any specified penal action against erring cities.
  • NCAP takes into account available international experiences and national studies. It notes that internationally, actions have been “city-specific” rather than country-oriented, and cites examples such as Beijing and Seoul that saw 35%-40% PM2.5 reduction in five years.

 

Sample Question:

The Airpocalypse III Report is released by

a). OECD

b). Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

c). International Energy Agency (IEA)

d). Greenpeace

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: ISRO launches Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

ISRO launches Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru

Why in news?

The Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC), the hub of ISRO’s future manned missions, was inaugurated at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru on recently.

 

More about on news:

  • Announced on August 15 2018, the country’s first crewed mission is set to happen by 2022, the 75th year of Independence.
  • HSFC shall be responsible for implementation of GAGANYAAN Project which involves end-to-end mission planning, development of Engineering systems for crew survival in space, crew selection & training and also pursue activities for sustained human space flight missions.
  • HSFC will take support of the existing ISRO Centres to implement, the first development flight of GAGANYAAN under Human Space Flight Programme.
  • S Unnikrishnan Nair is the founder Director of HSFC and Shri R Hutton is the Project Director of GAGANYAAN project.

 

About Gaganyaan Mission:

  • Gaganyaan is India’s first Human Space Flight Programme to be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022.
  • The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission.
  • So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions.

 

Sample Question:

Recently ISRO launches Human Space Flight Centre in

a). Sriharikota

b). Mahendragiri

c). Thiruvananthapuram

d). Bengaluru

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: India must sign NPT to gain entry into NSG: China

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

 

India must sign NPT to gain entry into NSG - China

Why in news?

India must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty to gain entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, China recently said.

 

More about on news:

  • China has been opposing India’s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the ground that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • Though the other P5 members, including the US and Russia backed its case based on New Delhi’s non-proliferation record.
  • China, France, Russia, Britain and the US – the permanent members of the UNSC also known as P5 countries – have concluded their two meetings here to discuss issues related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • After India applied for the NSG membership, Pakistan too applied for the same following which China, a close ally of Islamabad, called for a two-step approach.
  • Two-step approach states that NSG members first need to arrive at a set of principles for the admission of non-NPT states into the group and then move forward discussions of specific cases.
  • China has sought to club India and Pakistan together, on the basis of both being non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has asked the NSG countries to adopt a “criteria-based approach”
  • In April last year, India had once again reached out to China and tried to convince the interlocutors in Beijing to lift their objections at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

 

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG):

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
  • Currently, it has 48 members.
  • India is not a member yet.
  • India sought membership of the NSG in 2008
  • India’s application has not been decided upon because signing the NPT or other nuclear moratoriums on testing is a pre-requisite and India has not signed NPT.
  • However, India has received a special waiver to conduct nuclear trade with all nuclear exporters.
  • India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are among the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

 

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):

  • The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.
  • It aims to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
  • The three objectives viz. non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use of nuclear technology, are sometimes called three pillars of NPT.
  • The treaty entered into force in 1970 and in 1995 it was extended indefinitely. It has 190 parties.
  • All the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are among its members.
  • India, Pakistan & Israel have not signed the treaty.
  • North Korea acceded to the NPT in 1985, then withdrew in 2003.

 

P5+1 Countries:

  • The P5+1 countries are a group of world powers who are working on the Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • The countries include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the addition of Germany.
  • The U.N. Security Council consist of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The agreement is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

  1. Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment, and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  2. All the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are among its members, except France.
  3. India, Pakistan & Israel have recently signed the treaty.

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: a)

 


 

Topic: Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan

Topic in Syllabus: Schemes & Programmes

 

Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan

Why in news?

Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his Budget 2019 speech has proposed to launch a mega pension yojana namely ‘Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan’ for the unorganized sector workers with monthly income upto Rs 15,000.

 

More about on scheme:

  • Under this scheme an unorganized sector worker joining pension yojana at the age of 29 years will have to contribute only Rs 100 per month till the age of 60 years.
  • A worker joining the pension yojana at 18 years, will have to contribute as little as Rs 55 per month only.
  • The Government will deposit equal matching share in the pension account of the worker every month.
  • It is expected that at least 10 crore labourers and workers in the unorganized sector will avail the benefit of ‘Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan’ within next five years making it one of the largest pension schemes of the world.
  • A sum of Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the Scheme.
  • Additional funds will be provided as needed.
  • The scheme will also be implemented from the current year.

Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan Scheme

 

Key features Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan

 

Sample Question:

Consider the followings statements with respect to Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan Yojana

  1. It is a scheme for the both organised and unorganised sector workers
  2. This scheme shall provide an assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000 from the age of 60 years on a monthly contribution of a small affordable amount during their working age.
  3. The Government will deposit equal matching share in the pension account of the worker every month.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: Kerala sets up drug price monitor

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

 

Kerala sets up drug price monitor

Why in news?

Kerala has become the first State to set up a price monitoring and research unit (PMRU) to track violation of prices of essential drugs and medical devices under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO).

 

More about on news:

  • The move comes more than five years after the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) proposed such a system for the States and the Union Territories.
  • A society had been registered to get Central assistance for the functioning of the unit.
  • The new office would start functioning as soon as infrastructure was set up.
  • There is no price control review mechanism now.

 

Composition:

PMRU will be registered as a society with following composition:

  • State Health Secretary (Chairman)
  • Drugs Controller (Member secretary)
  • State government representative (Member)
  • Representatives of private pharmaceutical companies (Members)
  • Representative from consumer rights protection fora (Member)

 

Objectives:

  • The PMRU will work to develop synergy between the central and state authorities.
  • It will provide technical help to the State Drug Controllers and the NPPA to monitor notified prices of medicines.
  • Detect violation of the provisions of the DPCO.
  • Look at price compliance.
  • To collect test samples of medicines, and collect and compile market-based data of scheduled as well as non-scheduled formulations.

 

Advantages:

  • NPPA had fixed the prices of around 1,000 drugs and the unit would track if buyers were being overcharged.
  • It would also check if pharma companies were hiking the prices of non-scheduled drugs by more than 10% a year.
  • It will also check if there is any shortage of essential medicines.

 

Background:

  • Pharma companies have been accused of overcharging prices of drugs in the scheduled category fixed by the DPCO and those outside its ambit too.
  • The suggestion to set up PMRUs was made against the backdrop of the lack of a field-level link between the NPPA and the State Drugs Controllers and State Drug Inspectors to monitor drug prices.
  • States and Union Territories have been classified into three categories for staff recruitment and infrastructure.
  • Kerala falls in the second category, having a population of less than 3%, but more than 1% of the total population of the country.
  • The State will have a project coordinator, two field investigators, and two data entry operators.
  • The unit is expected to help the State Drugs Control wing, which is hit by severe staff shortage, and regulate drug prices more effectively.

 

National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority:

  • NPPA is an organization under Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers which was set up in 1997 to revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO), 1995.
  • The prices are now fixed/revised under Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO), 2013.
  • It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to price monitoring and research unit (PMRU).

  1. Kerala has become the first State to set up a price monitoring and research unit (PMRU).
  2. It aims to track violation of prices of essential drugs and medical devices under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO).
  3. The PMRU will work to develop synergy between the central and state authorities.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: Nilavembu kudineer kills dengue virus, protects from chikungunya

Topic in Syllabus: General Science

 

Nilavembu kudineer kills dengue virus, protects from chikungunya

Why in news?

The Nilavembu kudineer (a Siddha medicine) was found to provide protection against chikungunya virus while it was effective as a treatment during acute phase of dengue infection.

 

More about on news:

  • There was significant antiviral activity of the formulation at 3% of human dose onwards. Currently, there is no treatment for dengue and chikungunya.
  • The Tamil Nadu government had distributed nilavembu kudineer concoction to treat people infected with dengue during the outbreak in late 2017.
  • The mode of action of the concoction is antiviral in the case of dengue while immuno-modulatory in chikungunya infection.
  • The mode of action of the formulation on immune-modulation is yet to be understood.

 

Safety studies:

  • Safety studies showed that nilavembu kudineer concoction was non-toxic starting from 3% (about 1.8 milligram per millilitre) of human dose.
  • However, the researchers found that andrographis, which is the active ingredient of nilavembu kudineer, when used alone was extremely toxic at 3% of human dose.
  • Human dose is prepared by mixing 5 grams of nilavembu kudineer in 240 ml of water.

 

What exactly is Nilavembu?

Nilavembu is a small plant and is widely known as the king of bitter herbs. It is a natural antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic herb, which is used for the treatment of all types of fever associated with body ache. Its scientific name is Andrographis paniculata.

 

Benefits and uses of Nilavembu Kudineer

  • Nilavembu Kudineer is widely used in Siddha medicine to combat, prevent and manage of all types of viral infections and fevers.
  • As mentioned above, the herbal decoction has various medicinal properties, which include antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic, etc.
  • It is also a digestive stimulant and acts as immunomodulator, which boosts immunity and helps to protect from infections and their complications.
  • Nilavembu Kudineer reduces fever and relieves body aches, fatigue, headache and controls infections caused by pathogens. The herbal drug also has detoxifying properties
  • Nilavembu Kudineer is generally recommended for viral fevers, including dengue and chikungunya.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to Nilavembu kudineer kills

  1. It is a natural antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic herb.
  2. Its scientific name is Andrographis paniculata.
  3. It is used for the treatment of all types of fever associated with body ache.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: India’s communication satellite GSAT-31 launched successfully from French Guiana

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Satellite GSAT-31 launched successfully

Why in news?

Recently India’s latest communication satellite, GSAT-31 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

 

More about on news:

  • The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-247 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana at 2:31 am (IST) carrying India’s GSAT-31 and Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 satellites.
  • After a 42-min flight, GSAT-31 separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 35,850 km, inclined at an angle of 3.0 degree to the equator.
  • With a lift-off mass of 2536 kg, GSAT-31 will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit.
  • The satellite will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.
  • GSAT-31 derives its heritage from ISRO’s earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series.
  • After separation from Ariane-5 upper stage, the two solar arrays of GSAT-31 were automatically deployed in quick succession and ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-31 and found its health parameters normal.
  • During the final stages of its orbit raising operations, the antenna reflector of GSAT-31 will be deployed.
  • The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

 

Advantages:

  • GSAT-31 has a unique configuration of providing flexible frequency segments and flexible coverage.
  • The satellite will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands
  • GSAT-31 will provide DTH Television Services, connectivity to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications.
  • The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications.

India’s communication satellite GSAT-31 launched successfully from French Guiana

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to GSAT-31

  1. It will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands.
  2. It will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit for at least 15 years.
  3. It will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d)


Infographic Summary


 

Prelims Infographics - 6thFeb