70 Days WAR Plan

Day#49 Current Affairs Flash Cards [70 Days WAR Plan]

Himalayan Chandra Telescope; ‘Horn of Africa’; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); Biosensor technology; Elephant corridors; Parvathi Nagarajan; Joint Forest Management (JFM) and Community Forest Resources Management (CFR); United Nations Human Rights Council; Cabotage; National Achievement Survey (NAS);
By IT's Core Team
May 09, 2019




What is National Achievement Survey (NAS) and who has conducted it?

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National Achievement Survey (NAS)

  • National Achievement Survey is a research study undertaken by the National Council of Educational research and Training (NCERT) and supported by Ministry of Human Resource development.
  • It was conducted throughout the country on November 13, 2017 for Classes 3, 5 and 8 in government and government aided schools.
  • This is the Largest Assessment survey conducted in the country and is amongst the largest conducted in the world.
  • It aims to understand how effectively the school system is working in the country based on student learning.
  • This will help the ministries and departments of education to support the system to be more effective and improve student learning.
  • Only small proportion of students across India undertakes this test at selected schools, where randomly selected students are asked to undergo the test.
  • The survey tools used multiple test booklets with 45 questions in Classes III and V and 60 questions in Class VIII in Mathematics, Language, Environmental Sciences, Sciences and Social Sciences.
  • The competency-based test questions developed reflected the Learning Outcomes developed by the NCERT which were recently incorporated in the Right to Education Act (RTE) by the Government of India. Along with the test items, questionnaires pertaining to students, teachers and schools were also used.
  • A web-based application has been developed for generating the district wise learning report cards to reflect the disaggregated and detailed learning levels.
  • The District Report Cards contain various sections, including indicating the lowest performing area in Learning Outcomes.
  • NAS results will help guide education policy, planning and implementation at national, state, district and classroom levels for improving learning levels of children and bringing about qualitative improvements.




Where is Himalayan Chandra Telescope located? And what is its goal?

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Himalayan Chandra Telescope:

  • The Himalayan Chandra Telescope is a 2.01-meter (6.5 feet) diameter optical-infrared telescope named after India-born Nobel laureate Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar.
  • It was installed at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), Mt. Saraswati, Digpa-ratsa Ri, Hanle, Ladakh at an altitude of 4500 m (15000 ft) above mean sea level (msl) by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, in August 2000.
  • Its primary goal is to study electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources, young supernovae and near-earth asteroids.
  • It contains a modified Ritchey-Chretien system with a primary mirror made of ULE ceramic which is designed to withstand low temperatures it experiences.
  • The telescope is mounted with 3 science instruments called:
    • Himalaya Faint Object Spectrograph (HFOSC),
    • Near-IR imager and
    • Optical CCD imager.
  • The telescope is remotely operated via an INSAT-3B satellite link which allows operation even in sub-zero temperatures in winter.
  • This dedicated link is provided by the Centre for Research & Education in Science & Technology (CREST), Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.
  • It is the country’s first robotic telescope and the first one designed to observe dynamic or transient events in the universe.
  • The telescope is expected to generate enormous amounts of data — over one thousand gigabytes in a year.

Other fact:

  • The Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) at Hanle in Ladakh provides for the combined facility of:
    1. The Himalayan Chandra Telescope,
    2. The gamma-ray array telescope (HAGAR),
    3. Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH)-India, and
    4. The imaging Cherenkov telescope (MACE).




What is Cabotage? And why was it in news?

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  • Cabotage means carriage of cargo (goods and people included) between two places within a country by a vessel or vehicle registered in another country.
  • It refers to the practice of imposing restrictions for movement of domestic cargo by foreign flag vessels.
  • It includes costal and internal trade in the country.
  • Cabotage is a sovereign right of the country.
  • Cabotage restrictions are applicable in most countries to protect the domestic shipping industry from foreign competition as well as for the purpose of national security.
  • China and USA are known to impose absolute cabotage restrictions.
  • But if coastal ships are less in number, cabotage restrictions do not do any good for the nation.

Cabotage in India:

  • There is no absolute cabotage restriction in India.
  • The policy of cabotage restriction is governed as per Section 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, as amended from time to time.
  • However, the Act does not use the word cabotage.
  • Act empowers the Central Government to relax cabotage restriction in respect of any part of the coastal trade of India subject to such conditions and restrictions as it deems fit.

Why in news?

  • In June 2018, the Union Government of India has relaxed the Cabotage Law.
  • According to Mumbai and Nhava Sheva Ship Agents Association (MANSA) it will transform India’s ports into a major transhipment hub.
  • The Shipping Ministry of India has lifted restrictions on foreign registered vessels on transportation of loaded or empty containers between Indian ports.
  • Earlier, it was the prerogative of Indian registered shipping lines that paid taxes and were governed by Indian laws.
  • Indian ports can now attract cargo originating from or destined to foreign ports, leading to cargo growth in India.




What is the role of United Nations Human Rights Council?

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United Nations Human Rights Council:

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).
  • It aims to promote and protect human rights around the world.
  • UNHRC has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis.
  • The 38th session of the UNHRC began June 18, 2018. It ended on July 7, 2018.
  • The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • There are subsidiary bodies that directly report to the Human Rights Council:
    • Universal Periodic Review Working Group
    • Advisory Committee
    • Complaint Procedure
  • UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, Criminals, drug lords in Philippines and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
  • The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and engages the UN’s special procedures.




What are the important differences between Joint Forest Management (JFM) and Community Forest Resources Management (CFR)?

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Difference between Joint Forest Management (JFM) and Community Forest Resources Management (CFR):

  • Joint Forest Management (JFM) involves state forest departments and local communities.
  • In Community Forest Resources Management (CFR) local community plays a significant role in forest management and land use decision making by themselves in the facilitating support of government as well as change agents.
  • The policies and objectives of JFM are detailed in the Indian comprehensive National Forest Policy of 1988 and the Joint Forest Management Guidelines of 1990 of the Government of India.
  • Community forests managed in accordance with Van Panchayat Act is a hybrid of state ownership and community responsibility.
  • Usually a village committee known as the Forest Protection Committee (FPC) and the Forest Department enter into a JFM agreement.
  • CFR indicate that instead of encircling the forest with physical barriers it is the manner in which the process of forest demarcation is achieved holds importance.
  • The JFM are managed in accordance with the central government guidelines and are focused on commercial forestry and ensure environmental stability, maintenance of ecological balance and meet the subsistence requirements of the local people.
  • In its efforts to manage and control community forest CFR are guided by Revenue Department rules and by the technical advice of the Forest Department, they are not facilitators and advisors but are the protectors of the forest.




Parvathi Nagarajan was recently in news for?

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About Parvathi Nagarajan:

  • Parvathi Nagarajan from Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, has won India Biodiversity Awards 2018 for Sustainable Use of Biological Resources.
  • Parvathi Nagarajan comes from a family of traditional healers in the Auroville region of Tamil Nadu.
  • She works for environment protection, wellness and women’s empowerment.
  • She joined hands with the Sustainable Livelihood Institute (SLI) to take regular ‘Herbs for Health’ classes for women in her area.
  • She has trained women in her community to set up herb gardens, test and prepare herbal remedies, cosmetics and organic foods for their livelihood.
  • These women now tour villages, creating awareness about plants and their medicinal properties, as well as local health traditions.
  • Select indigenous medicinal plant species are also planted to ensure long-term sustainability.
  • She has also inspired many women in her region to join the cause.

India Biodiversity Award:

  • The award is joint initiative of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development programme (UNDP).
  • It is aimed to recognise and honour outstanding models of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and governance at the grassroots level.




What is the need for Elephant corridors? And what is Right to passage?

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About Elephant Corridors:

  • Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats.
  • In many cases, they are already under the control of a government agency such as the Forest or Revenue Department.
  • Corridors could include unutilised spaces in large commercial estates, and fallow or agricultural lands.
  • The concept is based on three basic approaches:
    • land purchase and facilitating voluntary relocation
    • mediating between the authorities and locals settled in the corridors, and
    • community participation.

What is the need for these Corridors?

  • Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. km. annually.
  • But increasingly fragmented landscapes are driving the giant mammals more frequently into human-dominated areas, giving rise to more man-animal conflicts.
  • Maintaining elephant corridors is therefore of crucial importance to both elephant and human habitats.

Right to Passage:

  • ‘Right of Passage’, a study report, published by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with Project Elephant and the U.K.-based NGO Elephant Family, identifies and records details pertaining to 101 elephant corridors across India.
  • Of these 101 corridors, 28 are located in south India, 25 in central India, 23 in north-eastern India, 14 in northern West Bengal and 11 in north western India.
  • 70% of the 101 corridors are regularly used, 25% are occasionally used, and 6% rarely used.
  • The highest number of corridors are located in northern West Bengal.
  • Among the States, West Bengal has the highest number of corridors (14), followed by Tamil Nadu with 13 and Uttarakhand with 11.
  • The study offers specific conservation solutions for the corridors but points to an inverse relationship between the forest cover available and the number of corridors in each region.
  • The more fragmented the forest cover in a region, the more elephant corridors in it.
  • To increase awareness on elephant corridors, ‘Gaj Yatras’e., parading life-size elephant models crafted by local artisans on road shows are planned through corridors across 12 States where elephants range.
  • The 2017 report notes that about 74% corridors are of a width of one kilometre or less today, compared with 45.5% in 2005, and only 22% corridors are of a width of one to three kilometres now, compared with 41% in 2005, pointing to how constricted corridors have become in past 12 years.
  • It also indicates degradation of corridors.
  • This process needs to be hastened and other high priority as well as threatened corridors need to be secured on an urgent basis.




What is Biosensor technology? And give its advantage and disadvantages?

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What is Biosensor technology?

  • A biosensor is a biological detection system consists of a biological component combined with a transducer to perform measurement of a biochemical quantity.
  • The development of biosensors started with the invention of enzyme electrodes in 1962.
  • A typical biosensor includes a bio element such as an enzyme, antibody, or a cell receptor, and a sensing element or a transducer.
  • These two elements are combined together through a number of methods such as covalent bonding, matrix entrapment, physical adsorption and membrane entrapment.
  • Biosensors are operated based on the principle of signal transduction.
  • These components include a bio-recognition element, a bio transducer and an electronic system composed of a display, processor and amplifier.
  • The biosensor industry aims to create microscale technology that will be suitable for performing sample preparation, analysis and diagnosis all with one chip.

Types of Biosensors:

  • Resonant Biosensors
  • Optical Detection Biosensors
  • Thermal Detection Biosensors
  • Ion Sensitive Biosensors
  • Electrochemical Biosensors

Advantages of Biosensors:

  • Rapid and continuous measurement
  • High specificity
  • Very less usage of reagents required for calibration
  • Fast response time
  • Ability to measure non-polar molecules that cannot be estimated by other conventional devices.

Application of Biosensors:

  • Monitoring glucose level in diabetes patients
  • Food analysis
  • Environmental applications
  • Protein engineering and drug discovery applications
  • Wastewater treatment.




What do you know about International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)? And which report is published by IFPRI?

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About International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI):

  • The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.
  • It was established in 1975.
  • It aims for creating a world free of hunger & malnutrition and to improve the understanding of national agricultural and food policies to promote the adoption of innovations in agricultural technology.
  • It is a research centre of Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development.
  • IFPRI focuses on gender and development, climate change, malnutrition and transgenic crops.
  • It focuses on five strategic research areas:
    1. Fostering Climate-Resilient and Sustainable Food Supply
    2. Promoting Healthy Diets and Nutrition for All
    3. Building Inclusive and Efficient Markets, Trade Systems, and Food Industry
    4. Transforming Agricultural and Rural Economies
    5. Strengthening Institutions and Governance
  • IFPRI have been criticized for their connections to Western governments and multinational agribusiness.

The global food policy report:

  • It is a flagship report of IFPRI.
  • It reviews the major food policy issues, developments, and decisions of 2017, and highlights challenges and opportunities for 2018 at the global and regional levels.
  • The 2018 report looks at the impacts of greater global integration—including the movement of goods, investment, people, and knowledge—and the threat of current anti-globalization pressures.
  • It presents data tables and visualizations for several key food policy indicators, including country-level data on hunger, agricultural spending and research investment, and projections for future agricultural production and consumption.
  • The report includes the results of a global opinion poll on globalization and the current state of food policy.




The ‘Horn of Africa’ is bordered with which water bodies?

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  • The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa.
  • It is lying along:
    • southern side of the Gulf of Aden,
    • west of Arabian Sea,
    • southeast of Red Sea, and
    • north of Indian Ocean.
  • The horn of Africa includes the 4 countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
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