Polity & Governance
- Surat wins Best City Bus Services Award
- Banaganapalle mangoes, six others get GI tag
- Public credit registry to speed up digitisation
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- 23rd Conference of Parities (COP) COP23
- 2017 ‘very likely’ in top three warmest years on record
Bilateral & International Relations
- India to contribute USD 100 million to UN partnership fund
Defence & Security Issues
- Indian Navy to use U.S. aircraft launch system in ship
Science & Technology
- Instrument Landing System (ILS)
- China launches 2 navigation satellites
- Most ancient spiral galaxy discovered
- Proxima Centauri may host planetary system
Key Facts for Prelims
- Women’s Asia Cup hockey title
- ‘Chintan Shivir’
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Polity & Governance
Surat wins Best City Bus Services Award
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs announces various awards to promote Best Practices in Urban Transport and are presented at the annual Urban Mobility India Conference.
Surat Municipal Corporation:
- Won the ‘Best City Bus Services Award’ for ensuring that at least 87 percent of a private vehicle and auto rickshaw users start using city buses.
H-TRIMS of Hyderabad:
- H-TRIMS, the traffic management initiative of Hyderabad, has been chosen for the Best Commendable Initiative award under ‘Best Intelligent Transport Project’ category.
Mysuru’s public bicycle sharing:
- Won the Best Non-Motorised Transport Award
- Chosen for the Best Urban Transport Initiative Award for completing its Metro Rail Project and integrating it with other modes of transport that includes water transport
- Chosen for the ‘Commendable Initiative Award’
- Commendable Urban Mass Transit Initiative for implementing Cluster Based Bus Transit System
- Commendable Initiative for introducing Public Bicycle Sharing
Noida and Greater Noida:
- Commendable City Bus Service Project initiative
- Commendable Initiative for introducing Special Bus Services for women
Lucknow Metro Rail Project:
- Commendable Urban Mass Transit Initiative
Banaganapalle mangoes, six others get GI tag
Seven commodities have been granted Geographical Indications this fiscal year by the Indian patent office.
Seven commodities include:
- Banaganapalle mangoes (Andhra Pradesh),
- Tulaipanji rice (West Bengal),
- Pochampally Ikat (Telangana),
- Gobindobhog rice (West Bengal),
- Durgi stone carvings and Etikoppaka toys (Andhra Pradesh) and
- Chakshesang shawl (Nagaland)
What is GI tag?
- A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
- The tag gave protection to the producer of these genuine products, which commanded premium pricing in the markets, both domestic and international.
- Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
- Darjeeling tea, Tirupati laddu, Kangra paintings, Nagpur orange and Kashmir pashmina are among the registered GIs in India.
Public credit registry to speed up digitisation
Reserve Bank deputy governor N.S.Vishwanathan recently said the introduction of a public credit registry will further speed up digitisation that has already changed the way banking is done in the country.
- Last month, the Reserve Bank of India has constituted a 10-member ‘High Level Task Force on Public Credit Registry (PCR) for India’ headed by YM Deosthalee.
- It will, among other things, suggest a roadmap for developing a transparent, comprehensive and near-real-time PCR for India.
What is Public Credit Registry (PCR)?
Public Credit Registry (PCR) will be an extensive database of credit information for India that is accessible to all stakeholders.
How is it managed?
- Generally, a PCR is managed by a public authority like the central bank or the banking supervisor, and reporting of loan details to the PCR by lenders and/or borrowers is mandated by law.
- The contractual terms and outcomes covered and the threshold above which the contracts are to be reported vary in different jurisdictions, but the idea is to capture all relevant information in one large database on the borrower, in particular, the borrower’s entire set of borrowing contracts and outcomes.
Advantages of PCR:
A PCR, if put in place for India, will help in
- Credit assessment and pricing by banks;
- Risk-based, dynamic and countercyclical provisioning at banks;
- Supervision and early intervention by regulators;
- Understanding if transmission of monetary policy is working, and if not, where are the bottlenecks; and,
- How to restructure stressed bank credits effectively.
A PCR will also help banks and regulators as credit information is a ‘public good’ and its utility is to the credit market at large and to society in general.
How borrowers will be benefited from PCR?
- In absence of the repository, the lender may not trust its first right on the collateral and either charge a high cost on the loan or ask for more collateral than necessary to prevent being diluted by other lenders. PCR captures and certifies the details of collaterals, can enable the writing of contracts that prevent over-pledging of collateral by a borrower.
- Furthermore, in the absence of a public credit registry, the ‘good’ borrowers are disadvantaged in not being able to distinguish themselves from the rest in opaque credit markets; they could potentially be subjected to a rent being extracted from their existing lenders who enjoy an information monopoly over them.
- The lenders may also end up picking up fresh clients who have a history of delinquency that is unknown to all lenders and this way face greater overall credit risk.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
23rd Conference of Parities (COP) COP23
The 23rd annual conference of the parties (COP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off in Bonn, Germany.
- The purpose of the two-week meeting led by Fiji is to negotiate and outline how to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change signed by nearly 200 countries in December 2015 in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries adapt to an already-changed planet.
Highlights of the COP23:
- While the aim of the event is much larger, nations attending the COP23 are scheduled to finalise the rulebook of the Paris Agreement. This process was started in Marrakesh 2016 meet. These rules will dictate how the Agreement would be monitored and executed. It will change the famous 1997 Kyoto Protocol by 2020.
- The rulebook will include new international standards for measuring carbon emissions. These standards will ensure comparison of efforts made by various countries. However, a few negotiators, like the US, deny the impacts of climate change and argue that the efforts cost a huge amount of resources.
About Paris Agreement
- The Paris Agreement, which was adopted in December 2015 by over 190 countries, mainly aims to prevent an increase in global average temperature and keep it well below 2 degree Celsius.
- Earlier two countries, Nicaragua and Syria, had abstained from signing the accord. Recently, US also announced its decision of withdrawing from the agreement.
- Nicaragua has however, signed the accord now, leaving the US and Syria as the only two holdouts on the global climate pact.
With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties.
- The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
- The UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, which marked the beginning of the international community’s first concerted effort to confront the problem of climate change.
2017 ‘very likely’ in top three warmest years on record
According to the World Meteorological Organization’s provisional Statement on the State of the Climate, the year 2017 is “very likely” to be in the top three warmest years on record.
What are the factor for warmer years?
- Long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, sea level rise and ocean acidification continue unabated.
- Temperatures in 2016 and, to an extent, 2015, were boosted by an exceptionally strong El Niño. However, 2017 is set to be the warmest year on record without an El Niño influence.
- The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. This is part of a long term warming trend.
About World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) with 191 Member States and Territories.
- It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.
Functions of WMO:
WMO programmes facilitate and promote:
- The establishment of networks of observational stations to provide weather, climate and water-related data;
- The establishment and maintenance of data management centres and telecommunication systems for the provision and rapid exchange of weather, climate and water-related data;
- The creation of standards for observation and monitoring in order to ensure adequate uniformity in the practices and procedures employed worldwide and, thereby, ascertain the homogeneity of data and statistics;
- The application of science and technology in operational meteorology and hydrology to aviation, transport (air, land and maritime), water resource management, agriculture and other focus areas;
- Activities in operational hydrology as well as closer cooperation between National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in states and territories where they are separate; and
- The coordination of research and training in meteorology and related fields.
Bilateral & International Relations
India to contribute USD 100 million to UN partnership fund
India has pledged an additional USD 100 million towards the UN partnership fund, significantly scaling up its support to sustainable development projects across the developing world.
About the India-UN Development Partnership Fund:
- The India-UN Development Partnership Fund will implement country-level projects that are catalytic towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
- The initiative is aimed at reducing poverty and hunger, improving health, education and equality, and expanding access to clean water, energy and livelihoods.
- The fund will focus on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
- Initially, the fund will start with an initial contribution of USD 1 million for its first project Climate Early Warning System in Pacific Island Countries (CEWSPIC).
- CEWSPIC Project was formulated by India and the UN Development Programme in consultation with the governments of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Tonga. The project will increase resilience to natural disasters in these seven Pacific island countries.
The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) was established with an objective to promote, coordinate and support South-South and triangular cooperation across the world and within the United Nations system.
- UNOSSC has its genesis in 1974 when the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the establishment of a special unit to promote technical cooperation among developing countries within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- In 2012, the special unit was given the name United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) by the General Assembly through a resolution.
- UNOSSC receives policy directives and guidance from the General Assembly and through its subsidiary body, the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation.
- UNOSSC submits its strategic planning frameworks to the UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS Executive Board for approval and funding.
- The Director reports to the UNDP Administrator and has also been appointed Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation.
Defence & Security Issues
Indian Navy to use U.S. aircraft launch system in ship
Indian Navy is likely to go with an advanced catapult-based aircraft launch mechanism (CATOBAR) from the U.S. for its second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-II), which is on the drawing board.
- For some time, India has been exploring the possibility of installing the U.S. electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS).
- The US has offered India its latest EMALS technology, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.
- EMALS uses electric motor-driven catapult instead, which allows launch of much heavier aircraft and reduces stress on aircraft whereas older-generation CATOBAR is powered by steam catapult.
- It will allow Indian Navy to operate heavy surveillance aircraft, in addition to heavy fighters. However, the system is expensive, something that needs to be factored in.
- India’s first domestic carrier, Vikrant, weighing 40,000 tonnes, is in an advanced stage of construction in Kochi (Kerala). It is scheduled to be launched by 2018-end.
- It works on Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) mechanism similar to that in present carrier INS Vikramaditya, with an angular ski-jump.
Science & Technology
Instrument Landing System (ILS)
What is an Instrument Landing System?
- An instrument landing system (ILS) enables aircraft to land if the pilots are unable to establish visual contact with the runway. It does this by way of transmitted radio signals.
Why in news?
- The existing instrument landing system (ILS) at Chennai International airport has been replaced by the Airports Authority of India.
Significance of the new ILS:
- The new ILS will facilitate smooth landing of the aircraft even during rain, low clouds and smog.
- The ILS uses a highly directional antenna system – ‘Wide Aperture Log Periodic Antenna Array [LPDA]’ system. This antenna system has addressed the coverage restrictions of the old ILS and will provide guidance to the aircraft to a much lower height with improved precision.
- It also enhances safety of the aircraft during landing.
China launches 2 navigation satellites
China, which is building its own navigation system to rival United States GPS, has launched two BeiDou-3 satellites into space though a single carrier rocket.
- The satellites were launched aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket.
- The two newly-launched satellites represent the third phase of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.
Significance of the launch:
- This system will provide services for countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, and form a complete global satellite navigation system by 2020 — by which time China plans to have more than 30 satellites.
- If everything goes according to the plan, China will become the third country in the world after the US and Russia to operate its own navigation system.
- Compared to earlier generation satellites, the BeiDou-3 is able to send signals that are better compatible with other satellite navigation systems and provide satellite-based augmentation, as well as search and rescue services in accordance with international standards.
BeiDou Navigation Satellite System
Named after the Chinese term for the plough or the Big Dipper constellation, the BeiDou project was formally initiated in 1994.
- It began to serve China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region at the end of 2012.
- Beidou currently consists of 10 satellites and covers a swath of the Asia-Pacific region from Australia in the south to Russia in the north.
- The system is accurate to within 82 feet (25 meters) and now serves China and surrounding areas on a pilot basis.
- The emergence of Beidou should make China far less dependent on the GPS constellation, which is operated by the United States military and is currently the world’s dominant satellite navigation network.
- It is important to note that India has its own navigation satellite Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), US has Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia has Glonass, Europe has Galileo and Japan has QZSS.
[Ref: The Hindu, Live Mint]
Most ancient spiral galaxy discovered
Scientists have discovered the most ancient spiral galaxy in the universe that existed 11 billion years ago and could provide insights into the early cosmos.
- The galaxy, known as A1689B11, existed just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only one fifth of its present age.
How the discovery was made?
- Researchers used a powerful technique that combines gravitational lensing with the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) on the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii to verify the vintage and spiral nature of the galaxy.
What are gravitational lenses?
Gravitational lenses are natures largest telescopes, created by massive clusters composed of thousands of galaxies and dark matter.
- The cluster bends and magnifies the light of galaxies behind it in a manner similar to an ordinary lens, but on a much larger scale.
- This technique allows us to study ancient galaxies in high resolution with unprecedented detail.
Importance of the discovery:
- Studying ancient spirals like A1689B11 is a key to unlocking the mystery of how and when the Hubble sequence emerges.
- Spiral galaxies are exceptionally rare in the early universe, and this discovery opens the door to investigating how galaxies transition from highly chaotic, turbulent discs to tranquil, thin discs like those of our own Milky Way galaxy.
- This galaxy is forming stars 20 times faster than galaxies today. This is as fast as other young galaxies of similar masses in the early universe.
- Unlike other galaxies of the same epoch, A1689B11 has a very cool and thin disc, rotating calmly with surprisingly little turbulence. This type of spiral galaxy has never been seen before at this early epoch of the universe.
Proxima Centauri may host planetary system
Scientists have detected dust belts around Proxima Centauri, a finding that indicates presence of elaborate planetary system hosted by closest star to solar system.
- These new observations were made by Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) observatory in Chile.
- The new observations reveal emission from clouds of cold cosmic dust surrounding star.
- It revealed glow coming from cold dust in region between one to four times as far from Proxima Centauri as Earth is from Sun.
- It also reveals presence of even cooler outer dust belt and may indicate presence of system of planets.
- These structures are similar to much larger belts in solar system and are also expected to be made from particles of rock and ice that failed to form planets.
About the Proxima Centauri:
- It is group of stars which hosts an Earth-like habitable planet — Proxima Centaur b — orbiting within (Proxima Centauri) its habitable zone.
- It was discovered in 2016.
- It is a cool dwarf star located around 4.25 light years away from the Earth.
- Because of Proxima Centauri’s proximity to Earth, its angular diameter can be measured directly. It is about one-seventh the diameter of the Sun.
About ALMA telescope:
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the world’s most powerful observatory for studying the universe at the long-wavelength millimeter and submillimeter range of light.
- It’s designed to spot some of the most distant, ancient galaxies ever seen, and to probe the areas around young stars for planets in the process of forming.
- It is an international partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.
Key Facts for Prelims
Women’s Asia Cup hockey title
- In the final match held at Kakamigahara in Japan, Indian women’s hockey team defeated China by 5-4 goals in penalty shootout and won the 2017 Asia Cup hockey title.
- With this victory, India qualified for 2018 World Cup and women’s hockey team win closely follows victory of men’s side in October 2017.
- It was India’s second Women’s Asia Cup title and first one was won in 2004.
- The two-day National Workshop ‘Chintan Shivir’ was inaugurated by Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.
- The workshop was organised by Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- The Minister also launched a Compendium on ‘Innovations and Best Practices in School Education’ and a State-NGO-CSR Portal – ‘Shaala Sarathi’ on the occasion.