Flash-Cards-for-IAS-Prelims-2018-CA-Day-8
70 Days WAR Plan

Day#8 Current Affairs Flash Cards [70 Days WAR Plan]

‘NASAMS-II’; Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs); Legal entity; Minority status to Jews; Article 80 of the Constitution; Earth Overshoot Day; Breach of privilege or contempt of the House; TOP Scheme; Mission Olympic Cell; UNESCO World Heritage Site; ‘Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/ GM Crops in 2017’ report; etc.
By IT's Core Team
March 29, 2019

 

 

 

According to which International report, India is the world’s fifth largest cultivated area under genetically modified (GM) crops?

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Answer:

  • According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA)’s latest ‘Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/ GM Crops in 2017’ report, India has the world’s fifth largest cultivated area under genetically modified (GM) crops.

Enrich your learning:

Highlights of the report:

  • Unlike other big growers, India’s entire GM crop area is under a single crop — cotton — incorporating genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt soil bacterium coding for resistance against heliothis bollworm insect pests.
  • The country with the highest area under transgenic crops, at 75 mh, is the United States. It includes soyabean, maize (corn), cotton, alfalfa, canola, sugar-beet, potato, apples, squash and papaya.
  • The report shows farmers across the world to have planted 189.8 mh under transgenic crops last year. This is as against 1.7 mh in 1996, the year when they were grown commercially for the first time. Total planted area grew particularly during the first decade of this century, while slowing down in the last five years.
  • The report has estimated the highest share in the world’s total 189.8 mh GM crop area for 2017 to be of soyabean (94.1 mh), followed by maize (59.7 mh), cotton (24.1 mh), canola (10.2 mh), alfalfa (1.2 mh) and sugar-beet (0.50 mh).

What is a Genetically modified crop?

Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques.

  • In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.
  • Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop.
  • Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.
  • Potential benefits of GM plants include higher crop yields, reduced farm costs, increased farm profit, improvement in health and the environment.
  • Potential risks of GM plants include the potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops, the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods, the likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into wild relatives, the risk of these toxins affecting non-target organisms.

 

 

Recently, which Indian archeological sites were declared as 37th UNESCO world heritage site of India?

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Answer:

  • Two building clusters of Victorian Gothic and Art Deco architectural styles in Mumbai, Maharashtra were jointly inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List.

Enrich your learning:

 Sites inscribed at the 42nd session of World Heritage Committee:

The 42nd session of World Heritage Committee (WHC) has inscribed four cultural sites on the World Heritage List.

  • Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (India),
  • Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Iran),
  • Hidden Christian Sites in Nagasaki Region (Japan) and
  • Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (South Korea).

About the UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.
  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site provides prima facie evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.
  • As of July 2017, 1,073 sites are listed: 832 cultural, 206 natural, and 35 mixed properties, in 167 states. Italy is the home for the largest number of sites with 53.

 

 

 

With what does the term ‘NASAMS-II’ relate to?

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Answer:

  • NASAMS (National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a distributed and networked medium to long range air-defence system.

 About NASAMS-II:

  • It is an advanced air defence system.
  • It is highly adaptable mid-range solution for any operational air defence requirement.
  • It provides tailorable, state-of-the-art defence system that can maximise the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, UAV or emerging cruise missile threats.
  • It is part of the air defence network guarding US capital city Washington DC. It is also deployed in several NATO countries.

Namas pic

Significance for India:

  • India’s purchase of NASAMS-II will help in preventing 9/11-type on NCT Delhi.
  • It will also complement India’s other systems such as the medium and long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems under procurement.
  • With this, India will join league of nations including US, Russia and Israel etc. who have their own missile defence systems to protect their national capital regions.

 

 

 

Which entire Indian sports team has been added under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS)?

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Answer:

  • The Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) of Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has included entire Men’s Hockey team of India under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). This is first instance that entire team has been made beneficiary of the scheme as earlier only individual athletes from different sports were included as beneficiaries of the scheme.

Enrich Your Learning:

What is the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme?

  • Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (Department of Sports) have formulated ‘NSDF Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme’in the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) with the objective of identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. 
  • Focused disciplines will be Athletics, Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Wrestling and Shooting.
  • Under the scheme, the selected athletes will be provided financial assistance for their customized training at Institutes having world class facilities and other necessary support.
  • Sports Authority of India (SAI) and federations, which are members of Mission Olympic Cell (MOC), will be nodal agencies for disbursal for fund.
  • Benchmark for selection of athletes under the scheme will be in relation to international standards.
  • There will be annual/semi-annual review of performance of selected athletes.

About Mission Olympic Cell:

  • The Mission Olympic Cell is a dedicated body created to assist the athletes who are selected under the TOP Scheme.
  • TheMOC is under the Chairmanship of the Director General, Sports Authority (DG, SAI).
  • The idea of the MOC is to debate, discuss and decide the processes and methods so that the athlete receives best assistance.
  • The MOC also focuses on selection, exclusion and retention of athletes, coaches, training institutes that can receive TOPS assistance.

 

 

 

In context of Parliament of India, what is the punishment in case of breach of privilege or contempt of the House?

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Answer:

  • The house can ensure attendance of the offending person. The person can be given a warning and let go or be sent to prison as the case may be.
  • In the case of throwing leaflets and chappal, the offending individuals were sentenced to simple imprisonment.
  • In the 2007 case of breach of privilege against Ambassador Ronen Sen, the Lok Sabha Committee on privileges held that the phrase “headless chicken” was not used by Shri Sen in respect of MPs or politicians. No action was taken against him.
  • In 2008, an editor of an Urdu weekly referred to the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha as a “coward” attributing motives to a decision taken by him. The privileges committee held the editor guilty of breach of privilege. The committee instead of recommending punishment stated that, “it would be better if the House saves its own dignity by not giving undue importance to such irresponsible articles published with the sole intention of gaining cheap publicity.”

Role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair:

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

 

 

 

What is Earth Overshoot Day? and How is it calculated?

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Answer:

  • It is date when humanity annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate over the entire year.
  • It is calculated by Global Footprint Network and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • This day depicts that 1.7 earths will be required by humanity to satisfy its exploitative needs keeping in mind current rate of consumption and waste production.

How is it calculated?

  • Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the world biocapacity (the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year), by the world ecological footprint (humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in one Gregorian common calendar year.

 

 

 

According to which Article of Indian constitution, the President of India select 12 special members of Rajya Sabha who have special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science etc.?

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Answer:

  • Article 80 of the Constitution.

Enrich your learning:

  • As per the article 80 of the Constitution, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) is composed of not more than 250 members, of whom 12 are nominatedby the President of India from amongst persons who have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.

Rationale behind principle of the nomination:

  • The rationale behind principle of the nomination is to facilitate the representation of eminent professionals and experts who cannot face direct elections.
  • By nominating them to Rajya Sabha, the State not only recognises their merit and confers honour on them, but also enables them to enrich the debates by their expertise and knowledge that they have in different areas.

 

 

 

Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews. Which are other two states?

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Answer:

  • West Bengal and Maharashtra

Enrich your learning:

  • The Jewish population in Gujarat is so minuscule that they didn’t even figure separately in the Census 2011. Gujarat has small Jewish community with no more than 170 members and majority of them located in Ahmedabad.
  • Constitution of India has not defined word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ but it speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’ and rights of minorities have been spelt out in Constitution in detail.
  • Six religious communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by Union Government all over India.

 

 

 

Which Indian state has recently declared the entire animal kingdom as a legal entity having rights of a “living person”?

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Answer:

  • The Uttarakhand has declared the entire animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, as a legal entity having rights of a “living person”.

Enrich your learning:

What is Legal entity?

  • A legal entity means an entity which acts like a natural person but only through a designated person, whose acts are processed within the ambit of law. This means the animal kingdom could be represented by a custodian.

Previous living entities:

  • Uttarakhand high court in March 2017 accorded the status of “living entity” to the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, a decision subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court.

Natural Vs. legal person:

  • In common law jurisprudence, there are two types of persons, natural persons or human beings and artificial person, which are also known as juristic persons, juridical entity or legal person other than natural person.
  • Legal or juristic persons are created by law and recognised as legal entity, having distinct identity, legal personality and besides duties and rights. They include private business firm or entity, non-governmental or government organisations, trusts and societies, besides others.

Article 21 and animal life:

  • Invoking Article 21 of the Constitution, the court said: “Article 21 of the Constitution, while safeguarding the rights of humans, protects life and the word ‘life’ means animal world”.
  • The court cited a 2014 Supreme Court judgment to say any disturbance from the “basic environment which includes all forms of life, including animal’s life, which are necessary for human life, fall within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution”.

 

 

What are Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs)?

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Answer:

  • PWR is the most common type of nuclear reactor, representing about 60% of all nuclear power reactors in the world. PWRs are adopted in countries such as the United States, France, Japan, Russia and China.
  • PWRs use light water (ordinary water) for neutron moderation and reactor heat removal. The water inside the primary cooling circuit of PWR is under high pressure, and it will not turn into steam even under high temperature.
  • The primary circuit and the secondary circuit are completely separated, and heat energy will be transferred from the primary circuit to the secondary circuit. With a lower pressure in the secondary circuit, steam is raised to drive a turbine-generator to produce electricity.
  • These reactors use U235 of a typically 3%-4.5% enrichment.
  • PWR’s two cooling systems separate the reactor cooling water and steam for power generation. In the event of necessary venting, steam released will be free from radioactive products.

Commonly used nuclear reactors:

  • Power generation in all nuclear reactors are based on nuclear fission but the design of reactors may be different.
  • The commonly used reactor types in the world are the Pressurised Water Reactor, Boiling Water Reactor and Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor.
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  • Jayansh Singh

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