Current Affair Analysis

21st August 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Fly Ash; What is Panglossian? Interplanetary shocks; Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS); Magnetic reconnection; Mobile Metallic Ramp (MMR); Chandrayaan-2; Bunker museum; ‘Pretomanid’; XDR-TB and Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB); Drug Resistance; Van Mahotsava; Sericin – A Silk protein; Muga silkworms; Ash Track App; National Workshop Cum Exhibition on Sustainable Sanitation; ‘Quality Unknown- The Invisible Water Crisis’ report; Baltic states; Location of Lithuania; Location of Latvia; Location of Estonia; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 21, 2019


Issues related to Health & Education

  • FDA approves new oral three-drug regimen for extensively drug-resistant TB
  • Who was Panglossian?

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Water Pollution Can Reduce Economic Growth by a Third, Says World Bank

Bilateral & International Relations

  • VP embarks on three-nation visit to Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia

Defence & Security Issues

  • DRDO hands over design of Mobile Metallic Ramp to Indian Army

Science & Technology

  • ISRO aims for Chandrayaan-2 landing on September 07
  • NASA’s MMS Finds Its 1st Interplanetary Shock
  • Sericin – A Silk protein can help make beauty and skincare products
  • Scientists convert fly ash into water proofing material

Key Facts for Prelims

  • President inaugurates bunker museum at Mumbai Raj Bhavan
  • MoHUA to Organize One Day National Workshop Cum Exhibition on Sustainable Sanitation
  • President of India launches Van Mahotsava at Rashtrapati Bhavan

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here 

Issues related to Health & Education

FDA approves new oral three-drug regimen for extensively drug-resistant TB

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved new oral three-drug regimen- ‘Pretomanid’ for the extensively-drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), estimated to have a mortality rate of 60 per cent.


About the New treatment

  • The treatment involves Pretomanid tablets in combination with bedaquiline and linezolid, collectively referred to as the BPaL regimen.
  • Pretomanid was developed by TB Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation, funded by Australia, Germany, UK and US.
  • It has an efficacy rate of 90 per cent. This requires to be given to patients only for six-months.
  • This treatment is meant for treating adults with XDR-TB. In the case of MDR-TB, the three-drug regimen can be used only in those patients who cannot tolerate/respond to the MDR-TB treatment.
  • The three-drug regimen is meant only for treating pulmonary TB and should not be used for treating extra-pulmonary TB, drug-sensitive or latent TB.

Adverse impacts of the new treatment

  • This treatment was studied in the Nix-TB (a pivotal TB trial that tests the BPaL regimen) trial in South Africa, in which it caused serious adverse reactions including
  • Pretomanid drug caused a reduction in the size of the testes. It can cause lactate to accumulate in the body leading to sharp reduction in the pH of the blood (lactic acidosis).
  • Bedaquiline caused Prolongation of the QT interval of ECG (due to changes in the electrical activity of the heart).
  • Other common adverse reactions seen were peripheral neuropathy, anaemia, indigestion, liver toxicity (hepatotoxicity), suppression of bone marrow activity leading to reduced production of red blood cells as well as peripheral and optic neuropathy.


  • The new drug regimen is important for countries like India, which has the second-highest burden to XDR-TB patients in the world, after Russia.
  • It can also vastly improve the treatment success rate and can decrease the number of deaths due to better adherence to treatment.
  • The duration of treatment for drug-resistant TB can be drastically cut from 18-24 months to just six-nine months when pretomanid drug is used along with two already approved drugs — bedaquiline and linezolid.

Previous treatments

  • Previously available drugs had a success rate of only 34 per cent for XDR-TB and 55 per cent for multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB)
  • They also had severe side-effects like deafness, numbness, joint pain, renal failure hormonal imbalance, vertigo, among others.
  • The previous treatments required a set of eight antibiotics to be taken daily for 18 months or more depending on the severity.

Difference between XDR-TB and Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)

  • People with TB who do not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, which are first-line TB drugs are said to have MDR-TB.
  • People who are resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin) are said to have XDR-TB.

What is XDR-TB?

Extensively_Drug-Resistant_Tuberculosis_(XDR_TB)_Diminishing_Options_for_Treatment_(5102295715) (1)

  • XDR-TB is a form of TB which is resistant to at least four of the core anti-TB drugs.
  • MDR-TB and XDR-TB both take substantially longer to treat than ordinary TB and require the use of second-line anti-TB drugs, which are more expensive and have more side-effects than the first-line drugs used for normal TB.
  • However, the chances of a TB infection being XDR-TB is lower due to the rarity of the condition.
  • People living with HIV are at greater risk of developing TB as well as XDR-TB than people without HIV, because of their weakened immunity.

Can the TB vaccine, known as BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin), prevent XDR-TB?

  • The BCG vaccine prevents severe forms of TB in children, such as TB meningitis, but is less effective in preventing pulmonary TB in adults, the commonest and most infectious form of TB.
  • It is expected that the effectiveness of BCG against XDR-TB is similar as for ordinary TB.

About Tuberculosis (TB)


  • Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
  • TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
  • Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.
  • Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. 7.9% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.
  • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

What is Drug resistance?

  • Drug resistance is the reduction in effectiveness of a medication treating a disease or condition.

Causes of Drug Resistance

Drug resistance is a biological phenomenon that has been observed in Mycobacterium tuberculosis since the discovery of the first anti-TB drug, streptomycin.

Chaotic treatment

  • Before the late 1980s, many countries were not using standard protocols for the treatment of TB and did not have systems in place to support patients.
  • Furthermore, in many settings, TB treatment was not provided for free, contributing to poor adherence.

Amplifier effect of short-course chemotherapy

  • Once drug resistance has been created, the Directly observed treatment (DOTS), short-course strategy can exacerbate the problem.
  • Amplification of drug resistance patterns through repeated courses of DOTS short-course chemotherapy continues to be a major driving force of the epidemic in many parts of the world that do not have the resources to diagnose or treat drug-resistant TB correctly.

Community transmission

  • In the early 2000s, it was believed that resistance mutations conferred a loss of fitness, so the transmission of resistant strains would be self-limited. This has not turned out to be the case.
  • Current models indicate that in most countries, the majority of MDR-TB patients were infected initially with an MDR-TB strain, rather than slowly acquiring resistance caused by inadequate or irregular treatment.

Facility-based transmission

  • Transmission in busy, crowded hospitals and health centers is likely an important driver of the epidemic, especially in high HIV prevalence settings.
  • This can result in the spread of drug-resistant strains among patients receiving therapy for drug-susceptible TB as well as to the health workers.

TB in India

  • India has 27,000 MDR-TB patients, the highest in the world, and nearly 2000 XDR-TB patients.
  • The success rate of treatment for XDR-TB in India is merely 23 per cent while for MDR-TB is 46 per cent.
  • India has 24% of MDR-TB cases in the world.

TB Globally

  • As per the World Health Organisation’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2018, 4.5 lakh people across the world have MDR-TB and nearly 37,500 people have XDR-TB.
  • Of the total MDR-TB patients worldwide, 6.2 per cent are likely to become XDR-TB.
  • By the end of 2017, XDR-TB had been reported from 127 countries, including India.
[Ref: Down To Earth, The Hindu, WHO]


Who was Panglossian?

Reserve Bank of India Governor stressed the importance of mood and sentiment when talking about the Indian economy.


What is Panglossian?

  • Panglossian way of life is one of extreme optimism, in which one is convinced whatever happens is for the best, and hence make no effort to change it.


  • The term refers to the Professor Pangloss who is a character in a French satire named ‘Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide: Optimism)’ published by the French philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet (also known as Voltaire) in 1759.

What is Satire?

  • Satire is a genre of literature, defined as art that ridicules a specific topic in order to provoke readers into changing their opinion of it.
  • A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Water Pollution Can Reduce Economic Growth by a Third, Says World Bank

As per World Bank’s report on Water Pollution, the planet is facing a growing and invisible water pollution crisis.


  • The report claims the ever-growing issue is accountable for a one-third reduction in potential economic growth in the most severely affected areas.

About the report

  • The report named ‘Quality Unknown- The Invisible Water Crisis’ was launched by World Bank.
  • It assembled the world’s largest database of water pollution and assesses how a combination of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics suck oxygen from water supplies and transform water into poison for people and ecosystems.
  • The report employed a variety of technologies to study the problem, including satellite imaging of major algae blooms and artificial intelligence.

Highlights of World Bank’s ‘Quality Unknown’ report

‘Quality Unknown’ report

Increase in Biological Oxygen Demand

  • When Biological Oxygen Demand (an index of the degree of organic pollution and a proxy for overall water pollution) crosses a threshold of 8 milligrams per liter, GDP growth in downstream regions drops by 0.83 percentage.
  • This decrease in GDP happens because it impacts health, agriculture, and ecosystems. It is also an indication that there often trade-offs between benefits of economic production and environmental quality.

Scared resources

  • Although issues with water pollution affect both rich and poor countries, the report suggest that developing countries have the least resources to deal with the water pollution.

Nitrogen Fertilizer

World-Bank-report-on-water-pollution-1Current Affairs Analysis

  • A key contributor to poor water quality is nitrogen which is applied as fertiliser in agriculture and eventually enters rivers where it transforms into nitrates.
  • An early exposure of children to nitrate adversely affects their growth and brain development, affecting their health and adult earning potential.
  • Release of 1 kg nitrogen fertiliser per hectare into water can increase the level of childhood stunting by 19 per cent and could reduce future earnings by 2 per cent.


  • The report also looked into the issue of salinity, more intense droughts, storm surges and rising water extraction.
  • Increased salinity as a result of manmade pressures such as irrigation, stormwater runoff, leaching of fertilizer, and urban wastewater discharge is pushing down agricultural yields.
  • It estimated that the food lost, because of current saline levels in water across the world, would feed 170 million people.

Policy intervention to curb water pollution

Policy intervention to curb water pollution

There are three approaches to curb water pollution:

  1. Passive – Policy in action
  2. Proactive – Prevent, abate, or mitigate
  3. Reactive – Treat or purify

Passive – Policy in action

  • When governments lack information about the impact of a pollutant on environment or where public funds and enforcement capacity is limited, responses are often left to individuals.
  • For example, individuals may invest in private groundwater wells, purchase water filters, buy bottled drinking water etc.
  • In these cases, there is an important role for government to provide better information to consumers about the known and uncertain risks. This would allow consumers to decide how best to respond to the risks.
  • Disclosure may also affect consumers’ demands of polluting companies, when the source of pollution can be identified, and the enterprise may be goaded by consumer concerns into improving environmental performance.
  • For instance, this was the strategy used with some success in Indonesia’s Program for Pollution Control, Evaluation, and Rating (PROPER) in which Factories were color rated to indicate performance.

Proactive Approaches: Prevention

  • Proactive approaches are designed to incentivize polluters to reduce waste.
  • A clear advantage of this approach is that there is less waste to control, treat, or dispose and, as a result, a lower risk to public and environmental health.
  • It is also the preferred approach where treatment of waste is exceptionally costly or the public hazards associated with the pollutant are exceptionally high or uncertain.
  • Preventative approaches can take various forms, including policies that create incentives to reduce pollution, such as a pollution tax, a subsidy to lower emissions, or a pollution trading scheme.
  • India’s National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) is an example of a prescriptive approach to water pollution control.
  • The NRCP, starting in 1985, established a set of designated uses for surface waters and prescribed a set of approaches for achieving levels of water quality appropriate to those designated uses.
  • However, although the NRCP prescribes the capital investments to reduce water pollution, it does not provide a dedicated source of revenues to fund those investments.

Reactive Approaches: End-Of-Pipe Treatment

  • The third and more prevalent approach to addressing pollution involves treating toxic discharges to render them less harmful.
  • However, the poorest countries, because of their weak administrative capacity, confront higher pollution control costs.
  • When the prevention is not feasible, countries are left with the costlier option of treating pollution, and when treatment is funded through public finances, they have to give subsidy to the polluter instead of penalizing them.
  • However, with the rise of new technology, there are promising opportunities for real-time monitoring of certain pollutants and for enforcement procedures that eliminate common evasion tactics.

Key Facts

  • In Europe, countries such as France, Germany and Greece have been fined by the European Court of Justice for violating the regulatory limits for nitrates.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

VP embarks on three-nation visit to Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia

Vice President of India has embarked on a three-nation visit to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (Baltic countries) to discuss increasing political engagement, as well as intensified trade and commercial ties.

Which are the Baltic states?


  • The group of countries presently referred by the shorthand Baltic states are: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • These countries occupy the largest landform in Europe without mountains.

Location of Lithuania

Location of Lithuania

Location of Lithuania 1

  • Located in Europe, it shares land borders with 4 countries: Belarus, Latvia, Poland, Russia.
  • It is also bordered by the Baltic sea.

Location of Latvia

Location of Latvia

Location of Latvia 1

  • Locate in Europe, it shares land borders with 4 countries: Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia.
  • It is bordered with Gulf of Riga and Baltic sea.

Location of Estonia

Location of Estonia

Location of Estonia 1

  • Estonia shares land borders with 2 countries: Latvia, Russia.
  • It is also bordered by the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Riga and Gulf of Finland.

Key Facts

  • The countries that have shorelines along the Baltic Sea: Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.
[Ref: PIB]


Defence & Security Issues

DRDO hands over design of Mobile Metallic Ramp to Indian Army

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) handed over to the Army the design of Mobile Metallic Ramp (MMR).


About Mobile Metallic Ramp (MMR)


  • The MMR has been designed and developed by DRDO’s Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES) laboratory to reduce the Strategic Mobility time of mobilising Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
  • It has load bearing capacity of 70 metric ton (MT).


  • As it is portable as well as modular in design it can be easily assembled or disassemble, it can provide the strategic mobility for Armoured and Mechanised units and formations of the Army.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]


Science & Technology

ISRO aims for Chandrayaan-2 landing on September 07

The second moon mission of India, the Chandrayaan-2 has been precisely inserted in defined lunar orbit.


To know about Chandryaan-2 mission, Refer IASTopper’s Mains Article: Clicl Here:

[Ref: PIB]


NASA’s MMS Finds Its 1st Interplanetary Shock

The Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) recently made the first high-resolution measurements of an interplanetary shock.


What is interplanetary shock?

  • Interplanetary shocks are a type of collisionless shock in which particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another.
  • Interplanetary shocks start at the Sun, which continually releases streams of charged particles called the solar wind.
  • These shocks are a phenomenon found throughout the universe, including in supernovae, black holes and distant stars.
  • The recent capturing of high-resolution measurements of shock by Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) was made through an instrument called ‘Fast Plasma Investigation’ which can measure ions and electrons around the spacecraft at up to 6 times per second.

How does solar wind create Interplanetary shocks?

  • The solar wind typically is of two types — slow and fast.
  • When a fast stream of solar wind overtakes a slower stream, it creates a shock wave, just like a boat moving through a river creates a wave. The wave then spreads out across the solar system.

About Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS)

  • Launched in 2015, MMS is a group of four spacecrafts orbiting the Earth in a tight pyramid-like formation to observe the 3D structure of magnetic reconnection.


  • This enables MMS to determine whether reconnection occur in an isolated locale, everywhere within a larger region at once, or traveling across space.
  • One of the instruments aboard MMS is the Fast Plasma Investigation (FPI). Since the speeding shock waves can pass the spacecraft in just half a second, the high-speed sampling via FPI is essential to catching the shock.
  • MMS reveals, for the first time, the small-scale three-dimensional structure and dynamics of the elusively thin and fast-moving electron diffusion region. It does this in both of the key reconnection regions near Earth, where the most energetic events originate.

Mission Objective:

  • By observing magnetic reconnection in nature, MMS provides access to predictive knowledge of a universal process that is the final governor of space weather, affecting modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.
  • MMS will establish knowledge, methods and technologies applicable to future space weather missions and the future growth and development of space weather forecasting.
  • MMS sensors will measure charged particle velocities, as well as electric and magnetic fields, with unprecedented (milliseconds) time resolution and accuracy needed to capture the elusively thin and fast-moving electron diffusion region.
  • MMS probes reconnection of solar and terrestrial magnetic fields in the dayside and nightside of Earth’s magnetosphere, the only natural laboratory where it can be directly observed by spacecraft.

What is Magnetic reconnection?

Magnetic reconnection

  • Magnetic reconnection refers to the breaking and reconnecting of oppositely directed magnetic field lines in a plasma.
  • This process dissipates magnetic energy and propels charged particles, both of which contribute to a dynamic space weather.
  • Reconnection occurs when crossed magnetic field lines exchange, explosively flinging away nearby particles at high speeds.
  • Reconnection limits the performance of fusion reactors and is the final governor of geospace weather that affects modern technological systems such as telecommunications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.
  • Magnetic reconnection has been observed innumerable times in the magnetosphere (the magnetic environment around Earth) but usually under calm conditions.
[Ref: The Hindu, NASA]


Sericin – A Silk protein can help make beauty and skincare products

Indian scientists have discovered that a protein called sericin, produced by silkworms, to develop a range of beauty and skincare products.

About the protein sericin


  • Sericin was isolated from cocoons of three types of silkworms — Bombyx mori (Mori), Antheraea assamensis (Muga) and Philosamia ricini (Eri) — using different extraction methods.
  • The sericin is known to possess anti-oxidant, anticancer properties as well as can protect against ultraviolet radiation-induced skin damage, premature aging of skin and melanin formation.
  • These properties depend on amino acid composition and secondary metabolites (polyphenols and flavonoids) of sericin, which, in turn, depend upon extraction method
  • Using alkali-degradation method, researchers extracted sericin from cocoons of three silk varieties and explored their medicinal properties.

Sericin isolates from Muga silkworms

  • At present, sericin from silk varieties such as Muga and Eri is discarded during industrial production of the silk fabric.
  • Treatment with sericin extracted from Muga silkworm showed better protection against UV-radiation than extracts from the other two varieties (Eri and Mori).
  • Muga sericin could be used for protection from oxidative damage, edema, erythema, sunburn, premature aging, wrinkling, and skin cancer.
  • Moreover, sericin compounds isolated from cocoons of North-East varieties have shown better antioxidant and protective properties.

Structure of Silk

Structure of Silk

  • Silk is a continuous strand of two-filaments cemented together forming the cocoon of silkworm.
  • Silk filament is a double strand of fibroin, which is held together by a gummy substance called silk sericin or silk gum.
  • Sericin can be classified into three fractions, depending on their solubility in water as sericin A, sericin B, and sericin C.
  • Silk fibroin is the protein that forms the filament of silkworm and gives its unique physical and chemical properties.
  • Silk sericin is digestible due to its proteinous nature. This property makes it a biocompatible and biodegradable material.
  • Because of some additional properties like, gelling ability, moisture retention capacity, and skin adhesion, it has wide applications in medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics.

Key Facts

  • Karnataka is the largest producer of silk in India. It produces about one-third of the total silk production in India.
  • Mysuru and North Bengaluru in Karnataka are famous for their silks and are called the “Silk City” as they majorly contribute to the silk production in India.
  • India, being the second largest producer of silk after China, produces all the four varieties of silk – Mulberry silk, Tasar silk, Muga silk, and Eri silk.
  • Among these four kinds, the mulberry silk contributes to more than 80% of the silk.
[Ref: Down To Earth]


Scientists convert fly ash into water proofing material

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have found that fly ash can be modified into a waterproofing material.


How can Fly ash can act as water proofing material?

  • The researchers have converted fly ash into a water proofing material by treating it with stearic acid, which is commonly used in soaps and shampoos.
  • Stearic acid is a surface active agent which binds to dirt particles during the process of washing, which separate out just like oil separates from water.
  • Using this binding ability of stearic acid, researchers have developed super hydrophobic (water-repealing) fly ash particles.

About Fly Ash

  • Fly ash is a by-product of burning pulverized coal in a coal based thermal power plants.
  • It is also known as “flue ash”or ‘pulverised fuel ash’.


Fly ash is normally produced from burning anthracite or bituminous coal.

  • Depending upon the source and composition of the coal being burned, the components of fly ash vary considerably, but all fly ash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide (SiO2), aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and calcium oxide (CaO).
  • It is also a valuable resource of important plant nutrients, e.g., Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Pottasium (K), Phosphorus (P), Sulphur (S), Boron (B), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu) and Zinc (Zn).

Difference between fly ash, ESP ash, bottom ash and pond ash

  • When pulverized coal (bituminous/lignite) is burnt in the boiler of a thermal power station, a part of ash falls down at the bottom of the boiler and is known as bottom ash.
  • Whereas, the major portion of the ash comes out along with the flue gases and is collected through electro static precipitator before allowing the exhaust gases through escape the chimney, this part of ash is generally known as ESP ash.
  • The un-utilised ESP ash and bottom ash are taken to lagoons known as ash ponds for deposition. The ash deposited in the ash pond is known as pond ash. 
  • In some cases, this ash is deposited in the form of a mount or hillock and is known mound ash.
  • Fly ash or pulverized coal ash in general term represents all types of ashes produced in the thermal power station.


  • Fly ash is a proven resource material for many applications of construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low lying area development,
  • The four most relevant characteristics of fly ash for use in concrete are loss on ignition (LOI), fineness, chemical composition and uniformity.
  • The utilization of fly ash in replacing the cement in concrete mixture decreases both energy and CO2 emitted during production.
  • It is most commonly used as a pozzolan in the Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement. Pozzolans are siliceous or siliceous and aluminous materials used to produce cementitious compounds.
  • At present, 63 per cent of the fly ash is being utilized in India.

Environmental benefits

  • Increasing the life of concrete roads and structures by improving concrete durability.
  • Net reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas and other adverse air emissions when fly ash is used to replace or displace manufactured cement.
  • Reduction in amount of coal combustion products that must be disposed in landfills, and
  • Conservation of other natural resources and materials.
  • Addition of 2%–5% of fly ash to calcareous soils has resulted in better plant growth compared to normal soils. However, when the application exceeds 5%, the crop growth was significantly reduced.


  • There are two common types of fly ash: Class F and Class C.
  • Class C are often high-calcium fly ashes with carbon content less than 2%; whereas, Class F are generally low-calcium fly ashes with carbon contents less than 5% but sometimes as high as 10%.
  • In general, Class C ashes are produced from burning sub-bituminous or lignite coals (low quality coal) and Class F ashes bituminous or anthracite coals (high quality coal).
  • Many Class C ashes when exposed to water will react and become hard just like cement, but not Class F ashes. Most, if not all, Class F ashes will only react with the byproducts formed when cement reacts with water.


  • Air pollution and groundwater contamination, due to the leaching of metals from the ashes, especially the accumulation of the very fine particles of fly ash.
  • Leaching of traceable and hazardous elements.
  • Uncontrolled land disposal of coal fly ash is likely to cause unnecessary transformation in soil conditions, including contaminating the soil.
  • Depending on where the coal was mined, coal ash typically contains heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury, which if eaten, drunk or inhaled, these toxicants can cause cancer and nervous system impacts such as cognitive deficits, developmental delays and behavioural problems.
  • For an equal amount of electricity generated, fly ash contains a hundred times more radiation than nuclear waste secured via dry cask or water storage.
  • The breaching of ash dykes and consequent ash spills occur frequently in India, polluting a large number of water bodies.
  • The destruction of mangroves, drastic reduction in crop yields, and the pollution of groundwater in the Rann of Kutch from the ash sludge of adjoining Coal power plants has been well documented.
  • They can also cause health problems such as heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, reproductive problems, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects, and impaired bone growth in children.

About Ash Track App

  • In 2018, Government launched Fly Ash mobile application named ASH TRACK.
  • These platforms enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (Thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as – road contractors, cement plants etc.

How Does Soap remove oil?

How Does Soap remove oil

  • Soap, water, and oil are all made up of molecules.
  • Some molecules are hydrophilic, (hydro=water and philic=loving) which are attracted to water. Some molecules are hydrophobic, (hydro=water and phobic=fearing) which are repelled by water.

How Does Soap remove oil 1

  • The soap molecule has two different ends, one that is hydrophilic that binds with water and the other that is hydrophobic that binds with grease and oil.
  • When greasy dirt or oil is mixed with soapy water, the soap molecules arrange themselves into tiny clusters called micelles.

How Does Soap remove oil 2

  • When greasy dirt or oil is mixed with soapy water, the soap molecules arrange themselves into tiny clusters called micelles.
  • The water-loving (hydrophilic) part of the soap molecules sticks to the water and points outwards, forming the outer surface of the micelle. 
  • The oil-loving (hydrophobic) parts stick to the oil and trap oil in the center where it can’t come into contact with the water.
  • With the oil tucked safely in the center, the micelle is soluble in water. As the soapy water is rinsed away, the greasy dirt goes along with it.

How Does Soap remove oil 3

[Ref: Down To Earth, The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

President inaugurates bunker museum at Mumbai Raj Bhavan

President of India inaugurated the underground Bunker Museum at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai which has virtual reality booths in which visitors can time travel to the 19th century.

Mumbai Raj Bhavan.

About the Bunker Museum

  • It is located in the Maharashtra’s Raj Bhavan (Jal Bhushan) which was built by the British in the 1802.
  • Discovered in 2016, the bunker was created to fire cannons at approaching enemy ships as Britishers feared that they might be attacked via the Arabian Sea during the World War I.
[Ref: The Hindu, India Today]


MoHUA to Organize One Day National Workshop Cum Exhibition on Sustainable Sanitation 

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) will be organizing a one-day national workshop cum exhibition at Vigyan Bhawan on 19 August, 2019.

Workshop Cum Exhibition

About the workshop

  • The workshop is aimed to bring together stakeholders to strategize on mitigating the risks associated with manual entry into sewers / septic tanks and help eliminate such incidents and fatalities.
  • Wastewater and stormwater management including rainwater harvesting in line with the Government’s focus on water conservation through the Jal Shakti Abhiyan will also form an important agenda of discussion at the workshop.
  • The government will also release the Manual on Stormwater Drainage Systems, 2019, Advisory on Emergency Response Sanitation Unit (ERSU) and the Directory of Sewer and Septic Cleaning Equipment prepared by the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO).
  • It will also see discussions on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) based bio-methanation under Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiative of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
[Ref: PIB]


President of India Launches Van Mahotsava at Rashtrapati Bhavan

The President of India launched a plantation drive as part of ‘Van Mahotsav’ celebrations.


About Van Mahotsava


Van Mahotsava is a week- long annual tree planting festival organized in month of July across India.

  • It was launched in 1950 by M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Agriculture and Food to create an enthusiasm for the preservation of forest and planting of trees.


  • To provide fuel and thus release cowdung for use as manure.
  • To increase production of fruits
  • To help creation of shelterbelts around agricultural fields to increase their productivity.
  • To provide fodder leaves for cattle to relieve intensity of grazing over reserved forests.
  • To provide shade and ornamental trees for the landscape.
  • To provide small poles and timber for agricultural implements, house construction and fencing.
  • To help conservation of soil and further deterioration of soil fertility.
[Ref: PIB]



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