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Current Affairs Analysis

6th June 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

‘Rosogolla’; Customs Cadet Corps; IIP & WPI indices; “Tiger Express”; Precocious Puberty; World's first 3D-printed mini aircraft; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
June 06, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • RBI, govt. make peace over appointment panel
  • Odisha wages a literary struggle to claim rosogolla as its own
  • Customs Cadet Corps set to spread wings

Economy

  • High operating costs burn up solar units’ funds
  • Govt to come out with updated IIP, WPI indices

Environment & Ecology

  • 5th June: World Environment Day
  • Flagship species doing fine, but less exotic ones bear the brunt of poaching
  • A tourist train “Tiger Express”

International Relations

  • India, Qatar sign seven pacts

Defence & Security Issues

  • J&K militants use app to evade Army snooping

Science & Technology

  • IIT Madras researchers dissolve silver using glucose water
  • Precocious Puberty
  • Airbus presents world’s first 3D-printed mini aircraft

 

Polity & Governance

RBI, govt. make peace over appointment panel

The RBI has opposed the government’s move to have Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha as the head of the search-cum-selection panel for the appointment of its Deputy Governor.

What’s the issue?

  • The government has formed a search-cum-selection panel headed by Cabinet Secretary, Pradeep Kumar Sinha, to choose a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India – a departure from the past when such a panel was headed by the central bank governor.
  • Now under the compromise, the RBI Governor will again have a greater say in the short-listing of the names.
  • However, technically, the Cabinet Secretary remains the head of the panel.

About Financial Sector Search and Recruitment Committee:

  • The government set up the Financial Sector Search and Recruitment Committee — headed by the Cabinet Secretary — to choose the members and heads of the RBI, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.
  • The committee will also have a permanent member from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), representatives from the Finance Ministry, an economist, and the head of the regulatory body, whose members are to be selected, will be special invitees.
  • The search committee can only recommend names, while the government makes the appointment.

How are Deputy Governors of RBI appointed?

  • Out of the four Deputy Governors, two are appointed from outside — of which one is an economist and the other a commercial banker.
  • The remaining two Deputy Governors are appointed from within the RBI ranks.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Polity & Governance

Odisha wages a literary struggle to claim rosogolla as its own

Odisha’s Department of Science and Technology has been poring over literary evidence and has decided to study it in depth, to reinforce the State’s demand for a Geographical Indication for the famous cottage cheese balls in sugary gravy- ‘rosogolla’.

  • With this, the bitter contest over the Intellectual Property Rights to an iconic sweet, the ‘rosogolla’ has moved into a new phase.
  • Odisha is citing ‘literary evidence’ to buttress its claim over West Bengal.

What is a Geographical Indication?

  • A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.

Why is it important?

  • Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.

GI registration confers:

  • Legal protection to the products.
  • Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
  • Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
  • Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.

GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.

Some popular registered GIs in India:

  • Nearly 200 unique goods have been registered as GIs in India. Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.
  • Some of the popular registered GIs in India are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder, Mysore Pak (sweet), Tanjavur Veena, Pusa Basmati 1 (a high-yielding variety of scented Basmati rice) etc.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Customs Cadet Corps set to spread wings

Thousands of schoolchildren across the country will soon have a role to play in safeguarding the country’s economic frontiers, thanks to a novel initiative of the Customs Cadet Corps (CCC) programme by the Cochin Customs House (CCH).

  • CCH has decided to limit the programme to government schools, since most students here are from the lower strata of society and may not have access to programmes of similar nature.
  • Further, it was also felt that the location of the project should be close to the office and residential quarters for more effective conduct and supervision.
  • There will be training sessions led by specialist instructors and Customs Preventive Officers every Saturday on the school premises.

Objective of the programme:

  • The objective of CCC is to give cadets a head start by making them practise self-discipline.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Economy

High operating costs burn up solar units’ funds

According to solar industry leaders, dust, high temperatures and the dearth of water are contributing to a significant increase in the cost of operating solar power plants in the country.

What are the factors contributing to an increase in the cost of operating solar power plants?

Dust:

  • Dust is a problem, especially in Rajasthan, where the dust conditions are really bad and require frequent cleaning around two times a month.
  • There are different types of dust. There is alluvial dust (present in plains of north India and delta regions of south India). This type turns into mud when water is poured.
  • Then there is sandy dust (present in Rajasthan and Gujarat), which can be washed away easily with water.

Cleaning costs:

  • Apart from the dust, one other main issue is the hardness of the water. Hard water is not suitable for cleaning, and so industry has to invest in reverse osmosis and other technology to make it suitable.
  • Therefore, reverse osmosis or distillation plants have almost become mandatory for solar plants in order to provide water which can be used for cleaning modules.
  • Apart from treating the water, the unavailability of a steady water supply also proves to be a problem for solar plant operators.
  • Since many large-scale power plants are located in the interior regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and parts of South India, getting soft water on sites becomes difficult at times.
  • Water availability, especially in the remote areas where there are solar plants, is a problem.
  • Moreover, frequent cleaning, almost on a fortnightly basis, is required in most parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat owing to dry sandy dust.

 Temperature:

  • The solar panels that are used are not designed for such high temperatures.
  • In remote areas with high temperatures, industry is not getting the required units of power. The panels do not yield their optimal usage.

Solar tariffs:

  • Solar tariffs in India have fallen tremendously, 16.1 cents per unit in November 2010 to 6.7 cents per unit in January 2016, among the lowest rates in the world.
  • The result—higher operational costs—coupled with historically low tariffs for solar power could pose a future risk for the industry.

Workforce:

  • Another issue is that the skilled workforce required for cleaning and maintenance is not available in these areas and so we have to bring them in from other areas and train them.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Govt to come out with updated IIP, WPI indices

Government will come out with revised IIP and WPI indices by the end of this year with a new base year of 2011-12 in order to make them more representative of the changing economic scenario.

Key facts:

  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) releases the data of national income (GDP) as well as WPI and Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • The present indices of IIP and WPI have base year of 2004-05.
  • As part of the revision, the basket of items and weightage assigned to different entries on the basis of which indices is computed will be updated.
  • With the new series in place, both the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) will become more comparable with the GDP numbers than it is currently.

MoSPI is also working on bringing out an index for the services sector. At present there is no such index for the services sector.

Background:

  • The National Statistical Commission has recommended to revise the base year of all economic indices every five years.
  • Government had last revised these indices in 2011 with the base year of 2004-05.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Environment & Ecology

5th June: World Environment Day  

World Environment Day (WED) is observed every year on June 5 to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth.

Key facts:

  • World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1976 on the first day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
  • It is run by the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP).
  • It was Started to create global awareness about the condition of the Environment.
  • The Theme for the year 2016 is ” Go Wild for Life” (Zero Tolerance for The Illegal Wildlife Trade).
  • Angola is the host country of this year.
[Ref: Wiki]

 

Flagship species doing fine, but less exotic ones bear the brunt of poaching

Karnataka’s relatively strong anti-poaching network in protected areas such as Bandipur and Nagarahole has ensured a reduction in poaching of flagship species. But a growing concern is that the exclusive focus on tigers, elephants and leopards is at the cost of less exotic species that are poached for meat or traded as pets.

  • Tigernet is an online database on tiger mortality.
  • Around Bandipur and Nagarahole, snaring of wild boars, pangolin, spotted deer, and peacocks takes place routinely either for their meat or feathers
[Ref: Hindu]

 

A tourist train “Tiger Express”

On World Environment Day, a tourist train “Tiger Express” that was announced in the 2016-17 Budget was flagged off from Safdarjung Station.

  • The train was launched to spread awareness among people regarding tiger conservation.
  • On the sidelines of the launching of the “Tiger Express”, the Railway Minister also announced that IRCTC will launch more tourist circuit trains like elephant circuit, desert circuit etc. in the future.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

International Relations

India, Qatar sign seven pacts

India and Qatar have signed seven agreements, including on investment and tourism promotion, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Qatar.

  • It is important to note that Qatar is home to around 630,000 expatriate Indians — comprising the single largest group of migrants in Qatar.
  • There is a lot of money flow and investment from Qatar. A number of black money investigations have taken Indian authorities to Qatar’s shores and the MoU on sharing intelligence to combat ‘hawala’ transactions and terror financing is seen as a move to help combat money offences.

Seven MoUs:

  1. According to one memorandum of understanding (MoU), Qatar will invest in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). The government had set up the Rs 40,000-crore NIIF last year for enhancing infrastructure financing in India.
  2. An MoU was signed between India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and Qatar’s National Qualifications Authority/Supreme Educational Council, on cooperation in skill development and recognition of qualifications.
  3. A third MoU calls for Cooperation in tourism between the two countries.
  4. Another MoU was signed on cooperation between India and Qatar in the field of health.
  5. A fifth MoU was signed between Finance Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND) and the Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU) to share intelligence on illegal movement of money, termed ‘hawala’. Under this pact, the two sides also agreed to exchange financial intelligence to combat terrorism financing and other economic offences.
  6. An agreement was signed on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters.
  7. A first executive programme for MoU in the field of youth and sports between the two countries was also signed.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

J&K militants use app to evade Army snooping

A new app, “Calculator” was found out on the smartphones of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir by the Army.

Key facts:

  • During interrogation of some of the terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the agencies came to know that the terror outfit had modified it and created the application “Calculator”, which can be downloaded on smartphones attached to the off-air network created specifically for them.
  • The app helps terrorists remain in touch with their handlers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) without being detected by the Army’s technical surveillance.
  • The Army found that terrorists carried smartphones with no messages stored in the device.
  • The Army’s signal unit, which relies mainly on technical intercepts like usage of wireless and mobile phones by infiltrating terror groups to track them, is trying hard, along with National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and other agencies, to crack this mechanism used by the terrorists.
  • The network generates its own signal through proprietary ad hoc networking protocols and automatically coordinates with other units within range which enables users to send and get text messages, share their GPS locations on offline maps regardless of access to WiFi or cellular service.

Technology behind the app:

  • The technology used in the app is based on the concept of ‘cognitive digital radio’ that enables users to turn their smartphones into peer-to-peer, off-grid communication tools.
  • The technology was first used by a U.S.-based company during Hurricane Katrina so that the affected residents could remain in touch with each other.
  • Cognitive radio (CR) is a form of wireless communication in which a transceiver can intelligently detect which communication channels are in use and which are not, and instantly move into vacant channels while avoiding occupied ones. This optimizes the use of available radio-frequency (RF) spectrum while minimizing interference to other users.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

IIT Madras researchers dissolve silver using glucose water

IIT Madras researchers have found that silver can slowly dissolve in water if heated to about 70 degree C in the presence of glucose.

Details:

  • According to the study, as much as 0.5 weight per cent of a silver plate can get dissolved in glucose water within a week.
  • Like gold, silver is a noble metal and is therefore supposed to be inert (resistant to chemical corrosion, especially to chemical reagents used in daily life). However, the researchers found that silver atoms get released from a plate in a simple, two-step mechanism — silver ions are first formed at the metal surface, which later form specific metal complexes with sugar.
  • Dissolution of silver by glucose directly from the metallic state gets enhanced in the presence of ions such as carbonate and phosphates. But in the absence of glucose, phosphate and carbonate were found to have no significant effect on silver dissolution.

Dissolution of metals- its health impacts:

  • As per the researchers, we are damaging the health of our population by using poor chemistry vessels. Generally, we store water in vessels made of different metals. We don’t know what happens to the water. When we cook food, especially using lots of spices that are reactive, we may be consuming some metal too.
  • Chemistry of sugars at metal surfaces can have tremendous impact on our population if ingredients of steel, copper and brass can dissolve in water and get accumulated in our food. The extent to which dissolution occurs is much larger than the permissible limits of many metals in water.
  • While the presence of certain metals at specific concentrations might be beneficial, it can be extremely toxic in the case of others.

Significance:

  • The newly developed method can extract silver effectively by a simple and green method. It does not require any harmful chemicals or high temperature or expensive set-up. In general, toxic chemicals such as cyanide are used for extracting silver.
  • Silver foils are used to decorate sweets and often such foils are eaten along with the sweets. In the past, silver vessels were used for cooking and even today silver plates are used. The researchers have been studying the effect of metals in food and how toxic metals get into our food chain from soil, water and fertilizers.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Precocious Puberty

A two-year-old Delhi boy, who was diagnosed with “precocious puberty” last week, has drawn attention to this rare medical condition. He was showing signs of puberty which included the growth of facial and body hair.

What is ‘precocious puberty’?

  • Central Precocious Puberty (CPP) refers to a condition when children start showing hormonal signs of pubertal development at an earlier age than is considered normal. The condition is identical to normal puberty, but happens early.
  • Puberty usually starts around age 7.5 to 8 in girls and around age 9 in boys.
  • This happens when the brain releases a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Airbus presents world’s first 3D-printed mini aircraft

The world’s first 3D-printed aircraft ‘Thor’ has been made by the European aerospace giant Airbus.

  • The drone Thor (Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality) is a windowless, weighing in at just 21 kilos (46 pounds) and less than four metres (13 feet) long and resembles a large, white model airplane.
  • In Thor, the only parts that are not printed from a substance called polyamide are the electrical elements.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to various processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object

  • A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.
  • In 3D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object.
  • These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

 

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