Current Affairs Analysis

26th & 27th July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Kashmir Saffron; Articles 174 and 163; Discretionary powers of governor; Nabam Rebia Case; Financial Stability Report; Non-performing assets (NPAs); Types of NPAs; What is Stress Test? Key Highlights of the 21st Financial Stability Report; Capital Adequacy ratio (CAR); Common equity tier-I; Who are the Marathas? History of Maratha Quota; 50% cap in reservation; Indra Sawhney case (1992); When did Hinduism reach Afghanistan? When did Sikhism reach Afghanistan? Aab Gang pilgrimage passport; Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes; Unnat Bharat Abhiyan; Van Dhan Yojana (VDY); Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED); Madagascar; Kongonaphon Kely; JETCO; Kargil Vijay Diwas; Tuting-Tidding Suture Zone (TTSZ); Arunachal Himalayas; PanSeer; NSP16 Enzyme; Hurricane Hanna; etc.
By IASToppers
July 27, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Governor cannot employ his discretion: SC
  • Supreme Court begins hearings on Maratha Quota

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

Economy

  • RBI releases the Financial Stability Report, July 2020
  • Geographical Indication Certificate for Kashmir Saffron

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Joint Economic and Trade Committee

Defence & Security Issues

  • Kargil Vijay Diwas

Art & Culture

  • Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Seismicity study of Arunachal Himalaya

Science & Technology

  • PanSeer
  • Cornonavirus`s NSP16 Enzyme

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Kongonaphon Kely
  • Hurricane Hanna

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Governor cannot employ his discretion: SC

Rajasthan Chief Minister reiterated his request to Governor of Rajasthan to summon the House to discuss issues such as the state’s political situation, novel coronavirus pandemic etc. However, the governor did not respond to the chief minister’s request.

  • As per Indian constitution, Governor has to act according to the aid and advice of the council of ministers. Therefore, he has no discretion to refuse but to act on the cabinet’s advice.

Constitution on a governor’s power

Usually, the two Articles — 174 and 163 — are read together to outline the governor’s powers in summoning, proroguing or dissolving the House.

  • Article 174: Governor shall summon the House at a time and place, as she or he thinks fit, but 6 months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.
    • Article 174 (2) (a): Governor may from time to time prorogue the House
    • Article 174 (2) (b): Governor can dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
      • Article 174 originates from Article 153 of the draft Constitution. The third clause of Article 153 said the governor’s power to summon the House should be exercised with discretion. When the article came up for discussion in the Constituent assembly, certain members including B R Ambedkar opposed the clause. Later, the clause was deleted. Draft Article 153 eventually became Article 174.
  • Article 163: Governor shall exercise her or his functions with the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
    • However, governor would not need their advice if the Constitution requires her/him to carry out any function at her/his discretion.

Discretionary powers of governor

Discretion means freedom to act according to one’s own judgement.

Constitutional discretion (mention in Indian Constitution):

  • Recommendation for the imposition of the President’s Rule in the state.
  • While acting as the administrator of an adjoining union territory (in case of additional charge).
  • Reservation of a bill for the consideration of the President.
  • Determining the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
  • Seeking information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.

Situational discretion

  • When no party gets a clear majority, the governor has discretion to choose a candidate for chief minister who will put together a majority coalition as soon as possible.
  • Dismissal of the council of ministers when it cannot prove the confidence of the state legislative assembly.
  • Dissolution of the state legislative assembly if the council of ministers has lost its majority.

Further, the governor has certain special responsibilities to discharge as per the directions issued by the President. In this context, Although the governor has to consult the council of ministers led by the chief minister, he acts finally on his discretion while-

  • Establishing separate development boards for Vidarbha and Marathwada in Maharashtra.
  • Establishing separate development boards for Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Establishing separate development board for Hyderabad-Karnataka region in Karnataka.
  • With respect to law and order in the state for so long as the internal disturbance in the Naga Hills–Tuensang Area continues.
  • With respect to the administration of tribal areas of Assam.
  • With respect to law and order Arunahcal Pradesh.
  • Regarding the administration of the hill areas in Manipur.
  • For peace and for ensuring social and economic advancement of the different sections of the population in Sikkim.

Nabam Rebia Case

  • The Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia vs Deputy Speaker (2016) held that a Governor cannot employ his ‘discretion’, and should strictly abide by the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet to summon the House.
    • In this case, Arunachal Pradesh governor had summoned the assembly in 2016. However, several MLAs expressed their displeasure with speaker’s decision.
  • The judgment, however, also held that if the governor has reasons to believe the council of ministers has lost the confidence of the House, he can ask the chief minister to prove the majority. Here, the governor’s power is only to call for a floor test to determine the majority.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Supreme Court begins hearings on Maratha Quota

The Supreme Court will commence daily final hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the reservation granted to the Maratha community in education and jobs in Maharashtra.

Who are the Marathas?

  • Marathas are a Marathi-speaking, politically dominant community in Maharashtra which make up about one-third of the population of the state.
  • The Maratha empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Shivaji as the Chhatrapati and ended in 1818 with the defeat of Peshwa Bajirao II at the hands of the British East India Company.
  • Historically, they have been identified as a ‘warrior’ caste with large land-holdings.
  • While division of land and agrarian problems over the years have led to a decline of prosperity among middle class and lower middle class Marathas, the community still plays an important role in the rural economy.

History of Maratha Quota

  • 1992: Marathas made a request to the Maharashtra government to provide reservation to them.
  • 2014: Central government’s effort to give quota was denied by the Maharashtra court, pointing out that no evidence was provided to make the claim that Marathas were socially and economically backward and, thus, deserved quotas
  • 2018: After protests by the Marathas, the state legislature passed ‘Maharashtra State Reservations for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes’ (SEBC) Act 2018 proposing 16 % reservation in education and government jobs for the socially and educationally backward class.
    • The act was challenged in the Bombay High Court, terming it as violative of the Supreme Court order that reservations in any state cannot exceed 50 %.
  • 2019: The Bombay High Court reduced the quota given to Marathas to 12 % in education and 13 % in government jobs, as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission. It said that the 16 % quota granted by the state was not justifiable.

Maharashtra government’s arguments

  • The Marathas had been denied equal opportunities since the first class survey conducted in the 1930s.
  • As the Marathas constituted 32% of Maharashtra’s population, including them in OBC would be detrimental to others in the category. Marathas needed to be promoted in areas of social and education empowerment, which is why a separate category was carved out.
  • The Supreme Court had ruled that total reservation for backward classes could not go beyond the 50 %. Maharashtra is one of the few states which is an exception to the rule.
  • While the 102nd amendment spoke about the central list, it did not mention the state list, implying the state had the right to identify socially and educationally backward classes and give them reservation.
  • Under 102nd amendment (which gave constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes), Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the Central List of socially and educationally backward classes.

50% cap in reservation

  • The Supreme Court of India in Indra Sawhney case (1992) that reservations could not exceed 50 %. However, there are state laws that exceed this 50 % limit. For example, in Tamil Nadu, caste-based reservation stands at 69%.
  • Also, the 124th constitutional amendment gave 10% quota for “economically weaker sections” from the general category of the population – primarily upper caste Hindus, but also religious minorities. This can result in states crossing there 50% limit.

What is the existing total reservation in Maharashtra post HC verdict?

  • Following the 2001 State Reservation Act, the total reservation was 52 % in Maharashtra.
  • After the Union Cabinet approved the 10% reservation for the EWS, the reservation increase to 62%.
  • With the addition of 12-13 % Maratha quota, the total reservation in the state is estimated to 74-75%.

They why Bombay High court gave reservation to Maratha if the 50% limit is crossed?

  • The court relied heavily on findings of Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) headed by Justice G M Gaikwad. The report said that Maratha community is socially, economically and educationally backward.
  • The court said that in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, 50% reservation limit can be crossed subject to availability of quantifiable data reflecting backwardness, inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration.
  • It said that while the backwardness of the Maratha community was not comparable with SCs and STs, it was comparable with several other backward classes, which find place in the list of Other Backward Classes pursuant to the Mandal Commission (also known as Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission, aim: was to identify the socially or educationally backward classes of India).
[Ref: The Hindu]

Government Schemes & Policies

Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes

  • Recently, the Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, inaugurated a video conference on “Strengthening of the Risk-Based Internal Audit of Rural Development Programmes.”
  • During the event, the Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes was also launched.

About Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes

The Financial Management Index for Rural Development Programmes seeks to rank states on efficient management of financial resources allocated for implementing half a dozen rural development schemes.

Parameters:

  • Preparation of annual plan, projecting the requirement of funds for the financial year, the expeditious release of State’s share, timely utilization of the funds and submission of the Utilization Certificates etc.
  • Optimum implementation of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) & Direct Benefit Transfer.
  • Internal Audit
  • Social Audit.

Expected Benefits:

  • Bring transparency.
  • Promote competitiveness.
[Ref: PIB]

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

  • The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) under Ministry of Tribal Affairs entered into a partnership with IIT Delhi for the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA).
  • Tribal entrepreneurs under TRIFED’s Van Dhan programme will now be able to get access to the expertise of the entire network of 2600 + academic and research institutions under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA).

About Unnat Bharat Abhiyan:

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) is a flagship national programme of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

Mission:

  • Enable higher educational institutions to work with the people of rural India in identifying development challenges and evolving appropriate solutions for accelerating sustainable growth.
  • It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between society and an inclusive academic system by providing knowledge and practices for emerging professions and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and the private sectors in responding to the development needs of rural India.

Goals

  • To build an understanding of the development agenda within institutes of Higher Education and institutional capacity and training relevant to national needs, especially those of rural India.
  • To re-emphasize the need for fieldwork, stake-holder interactions and design for societal objectives as the basis of higher education.
  • To stress on rigorous reporting and useful outputs as central to developing new professions.
  • To provide rural India and regional agencies with access to the professional resources of the institutes of higher education, especially those that have acquired academic excellence in the field of science, engineering and technology, and management.
  • To improve development outcomes as a consequence of this research. To develop new professions and new processes to sustain and absorb the outcomes of the research.
  • To foster a new dialogue within the larger community on science, society and the environment and to develop a sense of dignity and collective destiny.

Van Dhan Yojana (VDY):

  • Implemented by the TRIFED.
  • Van Dhan Yojana (VDY) is a programme for value addition, branding and marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) by establishing Van Dhan Kendras of around 300 tribal members each across the country to facilitate the creation of sustainable livelihoods for the forest-based tribal gatherers.
  • The Van Dhan Vikas Kendras emerged as a source of employment generation for tribal gatherers and forest dwellers and the home-bound tribal artisans. So far, 1205 Tribal Enterprises spread across 18500 SHGs have been established to provide employment opportunities to 3.6 lakh tribal gatherers and 18000 Self-help groups in 22 States.

Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED):

  • It was established in 1987 and became operational from April 1988.
  • The basic objective of the TRIFED is to provide a good price of the ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP) collected by the tribes of the country.
  • TRIFED is a national-level apex organization functioning under the administrative control of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

 [Ref: PIB, IASToppers.com]

Economy

RBI releases the Financial Stability Report, July 2020

RBI’s 21st Issue of the Financial Stability Report of said that Indian banks’ bad loan ratio is expected to climb to the highest level in more than 20 years due to lockdown.

About Financial Stability Report

  • Since March 2010, these reports are published semi-annually (once in June or July and next in December) by Reserve Bank of India.
  • They are approved by Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on risks to financial stability before its publication.
  • These reports are periodic exercise for reviewing the nature and implications of risks that may have a bearing on the macroeconomic environment, financial institutions, markets and infrastructure.
  • These reports also assess the resilience of the financial sector through stress tests.

What are Non-performing assets (NPAs)?

  • NPAs indicate how much of a bank’s loans are in danger of not being repaid. If interest is not received for 3 months, a loan turns into NPA.
  • What it means: A very high gross NPA ratio means the bank’s asset quality is in very poor shape.
  • Banks provide for some loans going bad. The net NPA is that portion of bad loans which has not been provided for in the books.

Types of NPAs

Banks are required to classify NPAs further into Substandard, Doubtful and Loss assets.

  • Substandard assets: Assets which has remained NPA for a period less than or equal to 12 months.
  • Doubtful assets: An asset would be classified as doubtful if it has remained in the substandard category for a period of 12 months.
  • Loss assets: Loss asset is considered uncollectible and of such little value that its continuance as a bankable asset is not warranted, although there may be some salvage or recovery value.

What is Stress Test?

  • Stress testing is a technique to assess vulnerability of the financial system in the face of shocks. These tests are meant to measure the institution’s ability to maintain enough buffer to stay afloat under extreme scenario.

General Stress Test Format

RBI’s Stress test format example

Significance of conducting stress test

  • Incentivizes banks to implement robust risk mitigation and management practices.
  • Creates transparency in the banking system through better data collection and publication.
  • Banks and financial institutions have also realised the potential of the analyses from stress tests to feed business intelligence.

According to the structure of the test, the RBI considered four possible scenarios with worsening macroeconomic indicators:

  • Baseline Scenario
  • Medium Stress
  • Severe Stress
  • Very Severe Stress

Key Highlights of the 21st Financial Stability Report

Non-performing assets

  • Gross Non-performing assets (GNPA) ratio may rise from 8.5% (of gross loans and advances) to 12.5% by March 2021 under the baseline scenario.
  • GNPA of private banks and foreign banks may increase to 7.3% and 3.9%, respectively, over the same period.
  • Among commercial banks, the gross bad loan ratio of state-run banks could increase to 15.2% by March under the baseline scenario, the highest among its peer groups.
  • If the economic conditions worsen further, GNPA ratio may soar to 14.7% under the very severely stressed scenario.

Capital to risk-weighted assets ratio (CRAR) OR Capital Adequacy ratio (CAR)

  • CAR of scheduled commercial banks could slide to 13.3% in March 2021 under the baseline scenario and to 11.8% under the very severe stress scenario.
    • CRAR = Ratio of a bank’s capital (tier 1+ tier 2 + tier 3 (capital funds) to its risk.
    • It is decided by central banks and bank regulators to prevent commercial banks from taking excess leverage and becoming insolvent in the process.
    • It is mandated for Indian SCBs to maintain a CAR of 9%. However, as per the Basel III norms, it is 8%.
    • A notable feature of CRAR is that it measures capital adequacy in terms of the riskiness of the assets or loans given.
    • For example, if a bank gave loan to the real estate sector and if the risk weight associated with real estate sector is 300 %, then a bank should keep Rs 27 (300*0.09 (minimum CAR) = 27) for giving Rs 100 loans to the real estate sector.
    • On the other hand, if the bank has given loans to the government by investing in government securities, it need not keep any capital. This is because, the riskiness of loans to government securities is zero and hence, the risk weight for government securities is zero.

Common equity tier-I

  • Common equity tier-I (CET 1) capital ratio of banks may decline from 11.7% in March 2020 to 10.7% under the baseline scenario and 9.4% under the very severe stress scenario in March 2021.
  • CET1 ratio compares a bank’s capital against its risk-weighted assets to determine its ability to withstand financial distress.

Overall view

  • The Indian financial system remains stable, notwithstanding the significant downside risk to economic prospects.
  • Policy measures have kept financial markets from freezing up, and eased liquidity stress facing financial institutions and households.
  • However, the near-term economic prospects appear severely impacted by lockdown-induced disruptions to both supply and demand side factors, diminished consumer confidence and risk aversion.

Possible Impacts

  • The rise in bad loans may further reduce the ability of banks, especially the weak ones, to extend credit.
  • Having been dependent on the government for capital infusion, public sector banks are now being pushed to raise funds from the markets. However, private banks with lower bad loans have been more successful in raising funds.
  • The banking industry would also see erosion of capital as banks would be required to provide more against defaulters.

Way Forward

  • Going forward, restarting financial sector reforms on their path of convergence with global best practices and standards while adapting to the specific requirements of India’s developmental strategy should regain focus.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

Geographical Indication Certificate for Kashmir Saffron

The J&K administration issued the certificate of geographical indication (GI) registration for saffron grown in the Kashmir Valley.

About Kashmir Saffron:

  • The only spice from at an altitude of 1,600 meters.
  • Largely cultivated and harvested by hand.
  • Has unique characteristics such as natural deep-red colour, aroma, bitter flavour and among others.
  • Saffron is considered one of the world’s most expensive spices.
  • Saffron is used for asthma, cough, sleep problems (insomnia) etc.

Expected Benefits of the GI Tag:

  • Boost exports
  • Farmers get remunerative price.
  • Stop adulteration prevalent in the trade of Kashmir saffron.

Issues:

  • A decline in its production.
  • Reduction of the area under cultivation.
  • Stiff competition from Iranian saffron (has a 90% share of the world market)
[Ref: The Hindu, The Indian Express]

Bilateral & International Relations

Joint Economic and Trade Committee

Recently, the 14th Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting between UK and India was held.

About JETCO:

  • The UK India Business Council is involved in the working of JETCO. JETCO can be considered as a Pressure Group.
  • JETCO provides a forum to UK companies to enhance their links and develop new partnerships with India business and decision-makers.
  • It also involved in the Government to Government negotiations seeking to address issues of market liberalization and market access.
[Ref: Livemint]

Defence & Security Issues

Kargil Vijay Diwas

Every year, since 1999, July 26 has been observed to commemorate the sacrifices made by soldiers in the Kargil war.

Causes:

  • Infiltration of Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory and positioning themselves in key locations in the Kargil Sector.
  • They aimed to sever the link between Ladakh and Kashmir and also to force the Indian Armed Forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier.

Outcome:

  • The Indian Army launched ‘Operation Vijay’. Whereas the Indian Air Force launched the ‘Operation Safed Sagar’.
  • It used air power at the height of 32,000 feet for the first time.
  • India lost 527 soldiers.
  • The war that ended on July 26, 1999.
[Ref: The Indian Express, IASToppers.com]

Art & Culture

Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan

Since a terror attack by an IS gunman killed 25 Sikhs at Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul in March, the small Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan have made multiple appeals to the Indian government for immediate evacuation.

When did Hinduism reach Afghanistan?

  • Hindu rulers once reigned over Eastern Afghanistan, including Kabul.
  • The Zunbil dynasty is believed to be the earliest Hindus who ruled over Kandahar to Ghazni regions of Afghanistan, from 600 to 780 AD. Also, Islam entered Afghanistan in the 7th century.
  • Later the Hindu Shahi dynasty ruled. They were replaced only by the end of the 10th century by Ghaznavids, who maintained Hindu forces.
  • It was only in 1504 that Mughal Emperor Babur captured Kabul. Babur used to refer to Kabul as ‘Hindustan’s own market’ and the province of Kabul remained with Hindustan until 1738.

When did Sikhism reach Afghanistan?

  • Sikhism founder Guru Nanak visited Afghanistan in the early 16th century and laid the foundation of Sikhism there.
  • As per the history of his travels recorded in the earliest janamsakhis, it was during his fourth udaasi (travels) during 1519-21, with his companion Bhai Mardana, that Guru Nanak reached Afghanistan and visited Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Sultanpur.  Kabul was then under Babur’s rule.
  • The seventh Sikh Guru, Har Rai, too played a pivotal role in sending Sikh missionaries to Kabul and a dharamsaal (earlier name for gurdwara) was established there.

When did their exodus from the country start?

  • There were at least 2 lakh Sikhs and Hindus (in a 60:40 ratio) in Afghanistan until the 1970s.
  • The exodus started in 1992 when the Mujahideen (Arabic term for one engaged in jihad) took over. “The Soviet intervention, which started in 1979, lasted for a decade and Afghanistan became a battleground for the Cold War.
  • The US and its allies started providing weapons to Mujahideen to fight a proxy war against the Soviet occupation. The Soviets withdrew in 1989.
  • The Mujahideen captured Kabul in 1992. Sikhs and Hindus started the exodus and left the country. After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, those who remained continued to face persecution.
  • Today, 99 % of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghan society have left the country. Afghanistan now refuses to acknowledge them as their natives. There are around 650 Sikhs (90-100 families) and nearly 50 Hindus left in Afghanistan.

Where did those who moved out settle?

  • Afghan government issued speedy passports under a scheme called Aab Gang pilgrimage passport (Aab meaning water, Gang meaning river Ganga). 50,000 people left Afghanistan under this scheme and came to India.
  • After arriving in India, many Sikhs and Hindus moved to other countries and are currently spread across the UK, Europe, US etc. The majority of Afghan Hindus are now settled in Germany and Sikhs in the UK.

Currently, how many Afghan Sikhs are settled in India?

  • Approximately, there are 18,000 Afghan Sikhs living in India, of whom 50-60% have citizenship and the rest are living as refugees or on long-term visas. Most are living in Delhi followed by Punjab and Haryana.

Will the CAA help them?

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which reduces the period of mandatory stay in India from 11 years to five years for minorities from three countries including Afghanistan, will help those Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in getting the Indian citizenship, who moved to India before the cut-off date of December 31, 2014. The Home Ministry, however, is yet to frame the rules for CAA.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Geophysical Phenomena

Seismicity study of Arunachal Himalaya

  • A Seismicity study of Arunachal Himalaya was conducted by the researchers of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India.  To understand the elastic properties of rocks and seismicity in this easternmost part of India.
  • The study was conducted in the Tuting-Tidding Suture Zone (TTSZ) and was published in the Journal of Asian Earth Sciences.

Findings:

  • The area is generating moderate earthquakes at two different depths. Low magnitude earthquakes are concentrated at 1-15 km depth, and slightly higher greater than 4.0 magnitude earthquakes are mostly generated from 25-35 km depth.
  • The crustal thickness in this area varies from 46.7 km beneath the Brahmaputra Valley to about 55 km in the higher elevations of Arunachal.
  • The intermediate-depth is devoid of seismicity and coincides with the zone of fluid/partial melts.

About Tuting-Tidding Suture Zone (TTSZ)

  • The TTSZ is a major part of the Eastern Himalaya.
  • It is located near the Eastern Syntaxial Bend.

Expected Benefits:

  • The study would help plan any largescale construction like roads or hydropower projects in this region in the future.

The main tectonic features marked on the profile are Mishmi Thrust (MT), Main Central Thrust (MCT), Tidding Thrust (TT), Lohit Thrust (LT), and Walong Thrust (WT).

About Arunachal Himalayas:

  • The Himalayan range enters Arunachal Pradesh from Bhutan at the West Kameng district. The region is a series of high ridges and low valleys and the altitude in the region varies from 800 m to7,000 m above sea level.
  • Dafla Hills, Miri Hills, Abhor Hills, Mishmi Hills and among others are found in the Arunachal Himalayas region.
  • These mountains are dissected by numerous rivers like the Kameng, Subhanshri, Dihang, Lohit etc.
  • Himalayan ranges take sharp southward bends known as Syntaxial bend at two locations namely, the Western Syntaxial bend and Eastern Syntaxial bend.  The Western Syntaxial bend is located near the Nanga Parbat in the vicinity of the Indus River. While the Eastern Syntaxial bend is located near Namcha Barwa in the Arunachal Himalayas in the vicinity of Dihang River.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Science & Technology

PanSeer

  • In a new study published in the journal, Nature Communications researchers say it might be possible to detect some types of cancers through blood tests, offering hope for reducing cancer mortality by early detection.
  • The study called the Taizhou Longitudinal Study (TZL) used PanSeer technique.

About PanSeer:

  • PanSeer (a type of noninvasive blood test based on circulating tumour DNA methylation) was able to detect five common types of cancers in 95 per cent of asymptomatic individuals who were later diagnosed with cancer, demonstrating that cancer can be detected by non-invasive methods up to four years before symptom onset.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Coronavirus`s NSP16 Enzyme

  • A new study carried out by the researchers of the University of Texas Health Science Center and published in the Nature Communications describes that SARS-CoV-2 deactivates and tricks the immune system.
  • A messenger RNA in simple terms is the deliverer of genetic code to worksites that produce proteins. The virus produces an enzyme called nsp16, which it then uses to modify messenger RNA. Because of the modifications, the human cell considers the viral messenger RNA as part of its own cell`s code and not foreign.
  • This knowledge can help design new small molecules in the drugs which would inhibit nsp16 from making the modifications.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

Kongonaphon Kely

A study found newly described species from Madagascar that dinosaurs and pterosaurs (extinct flying reptiles) had extremely small ancestors — just 10 centimetres tall.

It was named Kongonaphon kely which translating to tiny bug slayer .

Expected Benefits of the Study:

  • Provides insights about the evolution of dinosaurs and pterosaurs (extinct flying reptiles).
  • Since Madagascar was directly attached to India as part of the supercontinent Gondwana, knowledge from the study opens up the possibility of finding Triassic vertebrate fossils of similar age in the band of rocks found across Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

About Madagascar:

  • Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Madagascar is the world’s second-largest island country.
  • The country is about 400 kilometres off the African East Coast.
  • Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago.
  • Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Hurricane Hanna

  • Hurricane Hanna made landfall in the state of Texas in the United States of America.
  • The area was already facing an intense spike in coronavirus deaths.
[Ref: The Hindu]

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