ias-toppers-Egyptian-vultures
Current Affairs Analysis

16th & 17th July 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Egyptian vultures; SVAROP (Scientific Validation and Research on Panchgavya); Second Anniversary of Skill India Mission; GM mustard; Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI); Artificial Silk; What is spider silk? Ganga Avahan; 8th Slum Daud; Serial-numbered pens for Presidential poll
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 17, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Panel to study benefits of cow derivatives
  • MSDE celebrates Second Anniversary of Skill India Mission

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Release of GM mustard faces another hurdle

Economy

  • IBBI notifies rules for bankruptcy probe

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Safe haven for endangered Egyptian vultures

Science & Technology

  • Super-flexible and strong artificial silk developed

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Ganga Avahan
  • 8th Slum Daud
  • Serial-numbered pens for Presidential poll

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Polity & Governance

Panel to study benefits of cow derivatives

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology has constituted a 19-member panel, including members of the RSS, VHP and the ex-CSIR chief, to conduct a scientifically validated research on cow-derivatives, including its urine, and their benefits.

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Key facts:

  • The government has given the project the acronym SVAROP (Scientific Validation and Research on Panchgavya).
  • It is a “national programme” being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with IIT-Delhi.

Members of the committee:

  • The committee will be headed by Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan.
  • Vijay Bhatkar, also known as the architect of the Param series of supercomputers, is the co-chairman of the committee.
  • The committee working for it will include the secretaries of the Departments of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and scientists from IIT-Delhi.
  • It also has three members of Vijnana Bharati and ‘Go-Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra’, outfits affiliated to the RSS and the VHP.

Mandate of the committee:

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  • The panel is tasked with selecting projects that scientifically validate research on indigenous cow and also the panchgayva.
  • The committee will select projects that can help scientifically validate the benefits of panchgavya — the concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee — in various spheres such as nutrition, health and agriculture.
  • The panel, which will have a tenure of three years, will function as an apex body for guiding SVAROP.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

MSDE celebrates Second Anniversary of Skill India Mission

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) celebrated the second anniversary of Skill India Mission on the World Youth Skills day (15 July).

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About the Skill India Mission:

Skill India is a campaign launched by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) on the occasion of the first ever World Youth Skills Day on 15th July 2015.

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  • It is the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • It aims to train over 40 crore (400 million) people in India in different skills by 2022.
  • Skill India has been launched to empower the youth of the country with skill sets which make them more employable and more productive in their work environment.
  • Skill India offers courses across 40 sectors in the country which are aligned to the standards recognised by both, the industry and the government under the National Skill Qualification Framework.
  • The courses help a person focus on practical delivery of work and help him enhance his technical expertise so that he is ready for day one of his job and companies don’t have to invest into training him for his job profile.

Various initiatives under this campaign are:

  • National Skill Development Mission
  • National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  • Skill Loan scheme
  • Rural India Skill
[Ref: PIB]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Release of GM mustard faces another hurdle

Dissent has crept in among agricultural scientists of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) over the possible release of genetically modified mustard.

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What is the hurdle?

In May, NAAS President Panjab Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, endorsing DMH-11 that the plant had gone through adequate tests and was declared “safe” and passed regulatory muster.

  • However, a Fellow of the NAAS, wrote that he disagreed with this endorsement. He also stated that the resolution of the NAAS in its present form is neither scientifically valid, nor ethical, and therefore not maintainable.
  • He also emphasised that using genetically-modified technology to produce hybrid seed varieties was a “failed experiment” as evidenced by the experience of Bt cotton.
  • Though initially, Bt cotton occupied 95% of India’s acreage, its yields were on the decline since 2006, largely due to insect resistance. It nearly tripled the cost of producing cotton between 2006-2013.

Key facts:

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the regulator under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) can clear the GM mustard for commercial use in India.
  • Bt-Cotton is the only GM (Genetically Modified) crop being commercially cultivated in India.
  • The NAAS — a 625-member body of agricultural scientists — had about 200 scientists in its quorum when it passed a resolution endorsing the GEAC’s decision to clear DMH-11 for commercial field trials.

What is DMH-11?

  • DMH-11 is a hybrid variety of mustard developed by crossing a traditional variety of mustard, called Varuna, and an East European variety.
  • It is developed by Deepak Pental of Delhi University.
  • If approved, it would be the first transgenic edible crop to be grown in Indian fields.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

IBBI notifies rules for bankruptcy probe

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), which is implementing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), has notified the regulations for inspection and investigation of service providers registered with it.

iastoppers Bankruptancy IBBI

  • The Code, which provides for a market-determined and time-bound resolution of insolvency proceedings, became operational in December 2016.
  • Insolvency professional agencies, professionals, entities and information utility are considered as service providers under the Code.

What’s the new regulation?

  • According to new regulations, IBBI has powers to start probe against service providers registered with it without intimating them.
  • As per the regulations, the investigation authority has to serve a notice intimating the entity concerned about the probe at least ten days in advance.
  • However, the requirement could be done away with on grounds such as apprehensions that the records of the particular service provider might be destroyed before the probe starts.

About the IBBI:

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) was established on October 1, 2016 in accordance with the provisions of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

  • It provides a market-determined and time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required.
  • It seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to reorganisation as well as insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner.
  • It has been set up by the code to regulate professionals, information utilities (IUs) and agencies engaged in the resolution of insolvencies of companies.
  • It has chairman and 10 members. Present chairman is M S Sahoo. There four government-nominated members.
  • It functions under Ministry of Commerce.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Safe haven for endangered Egyptian vultures

The rare and threatened Egyptian vultures is successfully breeding within a human habitation in Punjab and, more importantly, has become a resident species.

About the Egyptian vultures:

The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is one among the globally threatened vulture species found in India.

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  • It is classified under the ‘Endangered’ (EN) red list of the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The species is popularly known as safed giddh (white vulture) in Hindi.
  • According to BirdLife International, a global partnership of organisations working for the conservation of birds, the present global breeding population of the Egyptian vulture is estimated to be 12,000 to 38,000 individuals.
  • Egyptian vultures usually build their nests on the cliffs of mountains, roofs of buildings and on tree-tops.
  • The species rarely hunt its food — the birds mostly feed on dead carcasses of animals, birds and reptiles. They eat eggs and sometimes, in the absence of animal carcasses, switch over to household solid waste like rotten fruits and vegetables.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

Super-flexible and strong artificial silk developed

A new artificial spider silk that is super strong and stretchy has been developed by Cambridge University scientists.

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  • It almost entirely composed of water.

How was it made?

  • The silk is woven at room temperature using mostly water, meaning it is made using sustainable methods.
  • The web-like fibres are non-toxic and are made by stretching a strand of ‘silk’ out from hydrogel, a soupy material which is 98% water. The remaining 2% of the hydrogel is made of naturally available silica and cellulose.
  • These materials are held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular “handcuffs” known as cucurbiturils. The chemical interactions between the different components enable to pull long fibres from the gel.
  • The water from hydrogel evaporates after it is stretched for 30 seconds, leaving a strong fibre which is both strong and stretchy.

Potential applications:

  • The fibres that make up each strand work like miniature bungee cords and could one day be used to make bike helmets and even bulletproof vests.

What is spider silk?

Spider silk is a protein fibre spun by spiders.

  • Spiders use their silk to make webs or other structures, which function as sticky nets to catch other animals, or as nests or cocoons to protect their offspring, or to wrap up prey.
  • They can also use their silk to suspend themselves, to float through the air, or to glide away from predators. Most spiders vary the thickness and stickiness of their silk for different uses.
  • In some cases, spiders may even use silk as a source of food.
  • Spider silk is incredibly tough and is stronger by weight than steel.
  • It is finer than the human hair (most threads are a few microns in diameter) and is able to keep its strength below -40°C.
  • The toughest silk is the dragline silk from the Golden Orb-Weaving spider (Nephilia clavipes), so-called because it uses silk of a golden hue to make orb webs.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Ganga Avahan

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  • ‘Ganga Avahan’ is a 2,800-km exploratory open-water swim expedition on the Ganga river.
  • It was in news as a book titled “Ganga Avahan – The Epic Tale of a Historic Swim” was recently released.
  • The book is on the first-ever human effort to swim down the entire stretch of the Ganga river.
  • It is also the longest ever social campaign undertaken through an adventure sporting activity for the Swachh Bharat Mission, Clean Ganga project and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative.
  • The expedition commenced on October 8, 2015 at Devprayag, where Bhagirathi and Alaknanda merge and the Ganga begins and it culminated 43 days later on November 19, 2015.

 

8th Slum Daud

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  • Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel flagged off the 8th Slum Yuva Daud in Delhi.
  • The Slum Yuva Daud is part of the Adopt Slum Campaign initiated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan which aims at highlighting the government’s pro-people schemes among masses.
  • The “Adopt a Slum” campaign will involve groups like NSS, public schools, RWAs, NGOs, rotary clubs etc.
  • Total 11 Slum Yuva Runs have been planned out of which 8 have already been successful with mass participation of youth from various Delhi slums.

 

Serial-numbered pens for Presidential poll

ias toppers presidential-election

  • The Election Commission (EC) for the first time is using unique serial numbered special pens with violet ink for casting of votes for the presidential polls.
  • Now, MPs and MLAs have been barred from carrying their own pens to the voting chamber for the presidential election. They will have to mark the ballot with a specially designed marker.
  • These special pens have been procured from Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd., which supplies indelible ink to the commission.

 

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