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VARTHA - NEWS UPDATE

INDO PAK RELATIONS- A PRESENT DAY EVALUATION

They were conjoined twins loved by all. They never fought but shared everything with each other. But destiny broke them apart in the name of territory and since then, they started destroying each other. Mutual suspicion and rivalry destructed the peace of even their children and the enmity continued throughout generations.

“It is ironical that a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism, is preaching human rights and talks about the ostensible support for self-determination.”

From the above excerpt about India and Pakistan as conjoined twins, to the global epicenter of terrorism, Indo-Pak ties on reaching the year 2017 can easily be called as the worst with the bilateral relationship taking a nose dive. The new economic corridor that Pakistan offers to India about China’s One Belt One Road iniative has been observed a kind of pain to deal with following the recent Uri attack and the surgical strike that followed. India’s diplomatic move to isolate Pakistan ended in the boycott of 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad in November.

 

Besides India, three other SAARC members – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for “creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding” of the meet.

The moment a child is born in India, its hatred towards Pakistan sprouts, and vice versa. This has been continuing since 60years of our independence. The narrow mentality that all ills occur because of the other is childish and this has to end. The media plays a major role to hasten the violence among both the countries. It is generally assumed that when one opens a window of good will and dialogue, other shows lack of sincerity. The arms race and distrust that existed during the cold war is now shifting to Asia, where India becomes a nuclear super power and advances in space technology and the latter seeks the help of allibies to trap India. China’s realist motive of the “String of Pearls” turns fruitful with Pakistan aid.

The issue of Kasmir is one significant reason that split up motherland and the subsequent partition into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. India emerged as a secular nation with a Hindu majority population and a large Muslim minority, while Pakistan emerged as an Islamic Republic with an overwhelming Muslim majority population; although its constitution guarantees freedom of religion to people of all faiths. When Pakistan claims the land because of Kashmir’s muslim majority, India doesn’t want to give the region up for fear of setting a dangerous precedent for India’s other regions that are agitating for independence. While both countries claim all of Kashmir, each of them controls only part of it. Two wars were fought (1947 and 1965) for Kashmir and thousands were killed. The weak and fragile Pakistan has now angled with China to boost up its energy to fight against India and Chinese-Pak relations are viewed a serious problem by Indians.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, he made a shocking move by inviting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony, a move that came in for much appreciation. His surprise visit to Lahore to and meeting with Sharif was another diplomatic move. However the invocation of Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan during his Independence Day speech stranded the relations and it worsens towards the following year too. Another scandalizing remark was from Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who  turned down the Pak invitation saying Pakistan is “prime perpetrator of terrorism in the region.” When Pakistan continues its terrorist brains, Indian government is not keen on resuming talks, and is now focused on other diplomatic alternatives such as reviewing the Indus Water Treaty and further strengthening ties with Afghanistan.

Lately, Indian move in the International Court of Justice on Kulbhushan Jadhav was swift and the order caught everyone, including Pakistan, by surprise. In a huge relief for India, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has stayed the death sentence awarded to Kulbhushan Jadhav  by a Pakistan military court. This was after India instituted proceedings against Pakistan at the court accusing Islamabad of "egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations" in the detention and trial of Jadhav. Let’s see how the Indo Pak relations proceed

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WORLD EARTH DAY

World earth Day 2017 will be celebrated by the people all over the world on 22nd of April.

What is Earth Day?
Earth Day aims to encourage people across the world to be more environmentally friendly.
It encourages people to save the Earth by providing them with every knowledge about the security of the Environment as well as provide them ideas and plans to protect the Environment.

Where is Earth Day celebrated?
All across the Earth.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, in America.
It was founded by former US senator Gaylord Nelson after he saw the enormous 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
Significance of World Earth Day Celebration
The April 22 Earth Day, first organized in 1970, was to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution.
Some people prefer to observe Earth Day around the time of the March equinox. In 1978, American anthropologist Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, founded by John McConnell. She stated that the selection of the March Equinox for Earth Day made planetary observance of a shared event possible.
World Earth Day Theme
The theme of World Earth Day 2017 is “Environmental and Climate Literacy”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2016 was “Trees for the Earth!”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2015 was “Water Wonderful World” and “Clean Earth – Green Earth”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2014 was “Green Cities”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2013 was “The Face of Climate Change”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2012 was “Mobilize the Earth”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2011 was “Clear the Air”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2010 was “Reduce”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2009 was “How Do You Get Around”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2008 was “Trees Please”.
The theme of World Earth Day 2007 was “Be kind to the earth – starting from saving resources”
How can i celebrate?

  • Walk to work, cycle or take public transport
  • Use a reusable coffee cup
  • Make sure you recycle
  • Go paperless
  • Take a tote bag to the shop
  • Plant a tree
  • Go meat or dairy free at least once a week
  • Carry a reusable water bottle
  • Grow your own fruit and veg
  • Buy local produce 

This year the specific focus is on creating better environmental and climate literacy and educating people – both children and adults – on environmental issues.

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RBI IS SEEKING WAYS TO INTRODUCE ISLAMIC WINDOW IN CONVENTIONAL BANKING SYSTEM

 

What is Islamic banking?

Islamic banking is the one which is working as per Islamic/Sharia principles.

Why RBI has made initiative?

To achieve financial inclusion by bringing those who are away from Indian banking system because of religious reasons.

What is financial inclusion?

Financial inclusion is the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of disadvantaged and low-income segments of society.

How Islamic banking works?

Charging interest is prohibited in Islamic banking. Hence it works based on Profit and Loss principles. An investor will be shared profit and loss arising out of banking. Islamic banking prohibits investing in businesses that are harmful to public. So the bank will invest only in businesses which are good to general public and is profitable.

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THERESA MAY TRIGGERS UK EXIT FROM EU

March 29,2017

British prime minister Theresa May formally began the UK’s divorce from the EU , ushering in a tortuous exit process that will test the bloc’s cohesion and pitch her country into the unknown. She officially triggered Article 50 and formally started the process of Britain leaving the European Union.

“This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”

The British prime minister, who initially opposed Brexit and won the job in the political turmoil that followed the referendum vote, now has two years to negotiate the terms of Brexit before it comes into effect in late March 2019.

 What does Brexit mean?

 It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU - merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a possible Greek exit from the euro was dubbed Grexit in the past.

Why is Britain leaving the European Union?

 A referendum - a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part - was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.

What changed in government after the referendum?

 Britain got a new Prime Minister - Theresa May. The former home secretary took over from David Cameron, who announced he was resigning on the day he lost the referendum. Like Mr Cameron, Mrs May was against Britain leaving the EU but she played only a very low-key role in the campaign and was never seen as much of an enthusiast for the EU. She became PM without facing a full Conservative leadership contest after her key rivals from what had been the Leave side pulled out.

 What is the European Union and why did Britain vote to leave?

  • The European Union is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries.
  • It began after the Second World War and has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around.
  • It has its own parliament and currency used by 19 countries.
  • Those in favour of leaving said Britain was being held back by the EU.
  • They said there were too many rules on business.
  • They also spoke about sovereignty and said they wanted Britain to take back full control of its borders.

 So when will Britain actually leave it?

 For the UK to leave the EU it has to invoke an agreement called Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the split. Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March, meaning the UK will be expected to have left by the summer of 2019, depending on the precise timetable agreed during the negotiations. The government will also enact a Great Repeal Bill which will end the primacy of EU law in the UK. This Great Repeal Bill is expected to incorporate all EU legislation into UK law in one lump, after which the government will decide over a period of time which parts to keep, change or remove.

What is Article 50?

Article 50 is a plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU. It was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon - an agreement signed up to by all EU states which became law in 2009. Before that treaty,

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FIVE NEW SUB – ATOMIC PARTICLES DISCOVERED THAT COULD CHANGE THE WAY WE VIEW REALITY

 

Scientists have discovered a new system of five particles all in a single analysis, with the help of the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator.

According to researchers, this discovery is exceptional as observing five new states all at once is a unique event.

Important features of the discovery

 

The LHCb experiment is one of seven particle physics detector experiments collecting data at the Large Hadron Collider accelerator at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research).

The collaboration has announced the measurement of a very rare particle decay and evidence of a new manifestation of matter-antimatter asymmetry, to name just two examples.

According to PTI, the new particles were found to be excited states - a particle state that has a higher energy than the absolute minimum configuration (or ground state) - of a particle called Omega-c-zero.

This Omega-c-zero is a baryon, a particle with three quarks, containing two "strange" and one "charm" quark.

Omega-c-zero decays via the strong force into another baryon, called Xi-c-plus, (containing a "charm", a "strange" and an "up" quark) and a kaon K-.

Then the Xi-c-plusparticle decays in turn into a proton p, a kaon K- and a pion p+.

From the analysis of the trajectories and the energy left in the detector by all the particles in this final configuration, the LHCb collaboration could trace back the initial event - the decay of the Omega-c-zero - and its excited states.

These particle states are named, according to the standard convention, Oc(3000)0, Oc(3050)0, Oc(3066)0, Oc(3090)0 and Oc(3119)0. The numbers indicate their masses in megaelectronvolts (MeV), as measured by LHCb.

Importance of the discovery

This discovery will help in understanding how the three constituent quarks are bound inside a baryon and also to probing the correlation between quarks, which plays an important role in describing multi-quark states, such as tetraquarks and pentaquarks.

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PROJECTS FOR ENHANCING EDUCATION

 

In order to enhance the performance in educational sector many projects has been introduced by state as well as central govt.

 Mid day Meals Programme

 

It was meant to provide free meals for students on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body educational institutions. This sometimes acts as a boon to children of some of the poor families. Through this scheme today they even provide food in morning as well evening. According to this scheme Rs8/- per student is allocated by govt for expenditure.

The Janshala Programme

 

It is a collaborative effort of the Government of India (GOI) and five UN Agencies

– UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO and UNFPA –a community based primary education programme, aims to make primary education more accessible and effective, especially for girls and children in deprived communities, marginalised.

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PINAKA

DRDO (or) Defence Research & Development Organisation, conducted second successful flight test of the Guided PinakaMulti Barrel Rockets called Pinaka Mark-II.

Pinaka Mark-II  is an improved version of Mark-I (which was an unguided version) with an increased range of 70kms.

Pinaka Mark-II is converted into guided version by equipping it with navigation, guidance and control kits developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad.

Pinaka II, like Pinaka I is fired using multi-barrel rocket launcher which can fire 12 Rockets in 44 seconds and destroy a target area of 4 sq km at a time.

Pinaka I played an instrumental role in winning us Kargil War.

How it got its Name – PINAKA??

“Pinaka” is a bow carried by Lord Shiva according to Hindu mythology. Lord Shiva has the name “Pinaki” which means the one who holds ‘Pinaka.

 In the same way Lord Vishnu has the name “Sharangadharan” which means the one who wears the bow “Sharanga”. 

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PAKISTAN ALLOWS ANTI – INDIA TERRORISTS TO USE ITS TERRITORY

 

Pakistan continues to allow its territories to be used by terrorists operating in India, Afghanistan and other nations and they have the “tacit and overt support” of officials in the host government, says Tulsi Gabbard, the newly elected co-chair of the India Caucus of the House of Representatives.

“In Congress, I’ve worked to cut back US assistance for Pakistan, particularly any military assistance, and increase pressure on Pakistan to stop these dangerous actions and break these ties,” the Democrat from Hawaii, a third-term member of the House of Representatives, said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Gabbard, 35, moved a legislation, Stop Arming Terrorists Act, in the House in January that‘s aimed at ending US funding of terrorist groups in Syria and the region, which has been the focus of her attention in recent months, but if passed it would outlaw US funding for countries that back terrorism, such as Pakistan.

It has bipartisan support, as is reflected in its co-sponsors — six Republicans and three Democrats — and it was introduced in the senate in March by members of the upper chamber who are backing it. Leading them is Rand Paul, a fiercely libertarian Republican who has called Pakistan a “Frenemy”.

On hate crimes against Indians, Gabbard said, “The recent rise of violence against Indians, Hindus, Sikhs, and other religious and ethnic minorities is deeply concerning. In the 115th Congress, we will continue our work to increase awareness and understanding across our communities, and urge the department of justice to investigate these horrific acts and address the rise of hate crimes across the country.”

Gabbard also called for a reasonable US stand on the H-1B visa programme, saying, “We cannot make cuts or limitations on immigration that do not take into account the broader economic and social impact for our country and for our friends around the world.”

The Trump administration is understood to be considering a set of measures, through one executive order or more or legislative action, to curb H-1B visas, a temporary work programme for high-skill workers that critics have said is being abused to lay off American workers.

The first Hindu ever elected to US Congress, Gabbard has forged a unique bond with Indian Americans who have adopted her as one of their own brushing aside whatever sets her apart — white, un-hyphenated American, born in the US.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York in September 2014.

And she has been a willing and active accomplice — Gabbard is often more culturally Hindu than her Indian American colleagues in Congress and American politics generally. She greets Indian Americans, for one, with “namaskar” and not the standard local fare.

 

GRAPES-3 EXPERIMENT

The GRAPES-3 experiment ( Gamma Ray Astronomy PeVEnergieS phase-3) is located at Ooty in India .

It is started as a collaboration of the Indian Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Japanese Osaka City University, and now also includes the Japanese Nagoya Women's University.

It is designed to study cosmic rays with an array of air shower detectors and a large area muon detector.

The observations began with 217 plastic scintillators and a 560 m2 area muon detector in 2000. The scintillators detect charged particles contained in extensive air showers produced by interaction of high energy cosmic rays in the atmosphere.

The first cosmic ray experiment was started in 1955 by B. V. Sreekantan by setting up cloud chambers that heralded the beginning of research at the Cosmic Ray Laboratory (CRL) in Ooty

At present, GRAPES-3 array is the highest density conventional EAS ( Extensive Air Shower )array in the world.

The experiment has detected a surge in muon intensity correlated with a weakening of the earth’s magnetic field dueto a solar storm.

What is a Muon ?

The muon , mu (μ) is an elementary particle similar to the electron, with an electric charge of  -1 e and a spin of 1/2, but with a much greater mass. It is classified as a lepton. As is the casewith other leptons, the muon is not believed to have any substructure - that is, it is not thought to be composed of anysimpler particles.

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COME BACK SPARROWS!

 

March 20 – World Sparrow Day

 

The World Sparrow Day is an international initiative observed on March 20 to raise awareness of the falling population of house sparrows and other common urban birds and to celebrate the beauty in common diversity that we tend to take for granted.

Thinking of sparrows make us nostalgic. This tiny chirpy bird reminds us of our childhood when it was seen everywhere and used to wake us up every morning. Sparrows have always been found where humans live and have had an amazing relationship with them. Since ages, songs have been sung, poems have been written about the beloved sparrows.

But how long it has been now that you've spotted a sparrow in your area? Sadly, the sparrow population has been disappearing at an alarming rate. Due to decrease in numbers, a bird as common as the sparrow was included by the IUCN in its Red Data List of threatened species in 2002 alongside the glamorous snow leopard, tiger and red panda.

How and why did these dominant bird species disappear?

According to sparrowsshelter.org.in, there are five major reasons for this disappearance of sparrows:

1 Modern architecture

With small old houses with roofs and holes converting into ultra stylish flats with sleek walls, there is no room for sparrows to build their nests and survive.

2 No grains

The packaged food culture and supermarkets like food bazaar has completely outdated the concept of grains being sold open in shops. The grains spilling out from gunny bags were the major source of the omnivorous sparrows' food.

3 Mobile radiation

Scientists consider mobile radiation the major culprit for the disappearance of sparrows. Birds navigate by sensing the earth's magnetic fields and mobile radiations are known to disturb them and interfering with bird's ability to move around

4 Excessive use of insecticides

Insects are part of new born baby sparrow's diet and since due to excessive use of mosquito repellents and insecticides, sparrows are unable to feed them to their off springs, there has been a decline in sparrow's infant mortality rate.

5 Big birds

Small number of places, holes for building nests is now occupied by big birds like pigeons, crows and thus outdating the small bird population.

Come back sparrows!

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 INS KHANDERI – SECOND SCORPENE SUBMARINE OF INDIA

  • INS Khanderi, the second Scorpene submarine under Project-75 being built at MazgaonDocks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai is all set to be launched.
  • Project – 75 : Under this project, the Indian Navy involves construction of 6 submarines, which will also feature advanced Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration .

  • Khanderi is named after the Island fort of Maratha forces, which played a vital role in ensuring their supremacy at sea in the late 17th century.Khanderi is also the name for Tiger Shark .
  • Features include superior stealth and the ability to attack the enemy using precision guided weapons like torpedoes.
  • It can undertake multifarious types of missions like anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.
  • INS Kalvari is India's first scorpene submarine.
  • The Scorpène-class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines jointly developed by the French and the Spanish .

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 MONEY BILL

Money bill was in news when  Lok Sabha passed ‘Aadhar bill as Money bill

Let’s see what is a Money Bill 

A billis a ‘proposed legislation’ under consideration by a legislature. A bill becomes Law when it is passed by a legislature. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it becomes an Act.

In a general sense, any bill that relates to revenue or expenditure is a financial bill.

A Money bill is a specific kind of financial bill, defined very precisely.

A bill is deemed to be money bill if it deals only with matters specified in Article 110 (1) (a) to (g) of Indian Constitution.

Money bill is certified by the Speaker of Lok Sabha as such- ie,

Only those financial bills that carry the Speaker’s Certification are Money bills.

A Money bill can be introduced only in Lok Sabha that too with the recommendation of President of India. Rajya Sabha or the Upper house has no say on Money bills.

Conditions for declaring a Money bill

A bill can be declared Money bill by the Speaker if the bill contains any matter “Incidental to” any of the matters specified here,

  1. Imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any Tax.
  2. Regulation of borrowing by the Govt.
  3. Custody of  Consolidated Fund or Contingency Fund of India, the Payment of moneys into or withdrawal of moneys from such funds.
  4. Appropriation of Money from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  5. Declaring of any expenditure charged to the Consolidated Fund of India or increasing of the amount of such expenditure.
  6. Receipt of Money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Public Account of India or custody or Issue of such money or of the audit of accounts of the Union or of a State.

 In case of declaring a bill as a Money bill the Lok Sabha Speaker’s (his/her) decision is final.

This was Challenged in Supreme Court by

 Mohd. Saeed Siddique Vs STATE of UP in 2014 case.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court brushed aside the verdict of the Constitutional bench in Raja Ram Pal Vs Hon’ble Speaker,LS, in 2007 and stated that the Speaker’s decision to classify a draft legislation is immune from Judicial Review ie, his/her decision can’t be challenged in court

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LOST CHANDRAYAAN – 1 FOUND ORBITING MOON BY NASA

Ground-based radar technique helps to spot the spacecraft

India’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, which was considered lost, is still orbiting the moon, NASA scientists have found by using a new ground-based radar technique.

The ISRO lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, almost a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008.

Now, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California have located the spacecraft still circling some 200 km above the lunar surface. “We have been able to detect NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-1 in lunar orbit with a ground-based radar,” said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at JPL and principal investigator for the test project.

“Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission’s navigators and had precise orbit data... Finding Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009,” said Brozovic. Chandrayaan-1 is very small and cuboid in shape, about 1.5 metres in length on each side. Although the interplanetary radar has been used to observe small asteroids several million miles from the earth, researchers were not certain that an object of this size could be detected as far away as the moon.

To find a spacecraft 380,000 km away, JPL’s team used NASA’s 70-metre antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a powerful beam of microwaves towards the moon. Then the radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-metre Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

Finding a derelict spacecraft at lunar distance that has not been tracked for years is tricky because the moon is riddled with mascons (regions with higher-than-average gravitational pull) that can dramatically affect a spacecraft’s orbit over time, and even cause it to have crashed into the moon.

JPL’s orbital calculations indicated that Chandrayaan-1 is still circling some 200 km above the lunar surface, but it was generally considered “lost.”

However, with Chandrayaan-1, the radar team utilised the fact that this spacecraft is in the polar orbit around the moon, so it would always cross above the lunar poles on each orbit.

On July 2 last year, the team pointed Goldstone and Green Bank at a location 160 km above the moon’s north pole and waited to see whether the lost spacecraft crossed the radar beam. Chandrayaan-1 was predicted to complete one orbit around the moon every two hours and eight minutes. Something that had a radar signature of a small spacecraft did cross the beam twice during four hours of observations, and the timings between detections matched the time it would take Chandrayaan-1 to complete one orbit and return to the same position above the moon’s pole.

The team used data from the return signal to estimate its velocity and the distance to the target. This information was then used to update the orbital predictions for Chandrayaan-1.

Chandrayaan operated for 312 days, as against the intended two years

NASA’s Europa Clipper to probe habitability of Europa

Jupiter’s icy moon is of special interest as it hosts a liquid water ocean beneath its crust

NASA’s ‘Europa Clipper’, set for launch in the 2020s, will probe the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

When the mission was still in the conceptual phase, it was informally called Europa Clipper, but NASA has now adopted that name as the formal title for the mission.

The moniker harkens back to the clipper ships that sailed across the oceans in the 19th century. Clipper ships were streamlined, three-masted sailing vessels renowned for their grace and swiftness. These ships rapidly shuttled tea and other goods back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean and around the globe.

The mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell.

Europa has long been a high priority for exploration because it holds a salty liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust.

Is it habitable?

The ultimate aim of Europa Clipper is to determine if Europa is habitable, possessing all three of the ingredients necessary for life: liquid water, chemical ingredients, and energy sources sufficient to enable biology.

“During each orbit, the spacecraft spends only a short time within the challenging radiation environment near Europa. It speeds past, gathers a huge amount of science data, then sails on out of there,” said Robert Pappalardo, Europa Clipper project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

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 PRADHAN MANTRI MUDRA YOJANA (PMMY)

 

Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is aimed to attain development in an inclusive and sustainable manner by supporting and promoting partner institutions and creating an ecosystem of growth for micro enterprises sector launched 08 April 2015.

  1. MUDRA BANK: Is a public sector financial institution in India. It provides loans at low rates to micro-finance institutions and non-banking financial institutions which then provide credit to MSMEs. It was launched by Prime Minister NarendraModi on 8 April 2015

 

What is Mudra?

Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd. (MUDRA) is an institution for development and refinancing micro finance institutions such as banks and Other financial intermediaries, which are in the business of lending to manufacturing, processing, trading and service sector activities whose credit needs is less than Rs. 10 lakh.

MUDRA provides refinance Support to banks for PMMY. Other than the refinance product, MUDRA will also provide development support to the sector through other products. The other product offerings as depicted in the diagram below will be targeted across the spectrum of beneficiary segments.

Different sections

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY), MUDRA has formulated three Schemes to signify the stage of growth / development and funding needs of the beneficiary micro unit / entrepreneur:

  1. Shishu: Loans upto Rs.50,000/-
  2. Kishor: Loans above Rs.50,000/- and up to Rs.5 lakh
  3. Tarun: loans above Rs.5 lakh and up to Rs. 10 lakh

Who can avail the Mudra loan under PMMY 

All non-farm sector income generating activities such as manufacturing, trading and services whose credit needs below Rs. 10 lakh are known as MUDRA Loans under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY).

VOCABULARY

  1. PMMY- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana
  2. MUDRA- Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd. 

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WORLD BANK CEO LAUDS PM MODI’S DEMONATISATION MOVE , SAYS “ WHAT INDIA HAS DONE WILL BE STUDIED BY OTHER COUNTRIES”

 

 

Though in its first projection on India post-demonetisation, the World Bank lowered the country’s GDP growth estimate for this fiscal to 7 per cent, from its earlier estimate of 7.6 per cent made in June last year, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday lauded PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move. “PM Modi’s decision to ban high-value banknotes as part of efforts to stamp out corruption will have a profound and positive impact on India’s economy,” she told Hindustan Times. “What India has done will be studied (by other countries). There hasn’t been such demonetisation in a country so big,” she further told HT.

Georgieva was in India for two days. It was her first official visit to the country. During her visit, she traveled in a local train and also inspected the operations of the suburban rail system which has been supported by the international financial institution. She held discussions with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, RBI Governor Urjit Patel besides other key policy-makers.

“India is our biggest middle-income client. Its economic growth influences global growth. Its achievements in health and education contribute to the world achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I am keen to learn more as India is a laboratory for the world to learn about what works in development and to find new ways to collaborate.” Georgieva said. also visited a school serving low-income households in Dharavi and interacted with students, teachers, and parents. The newly appointed CEO of World Bank then met children with special needs

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DUDHWA NATIONAL PARK

 Why in News ? - 'Dudhwa rhino rehabilitation delayed over non-availability of sedation drug'

  •  Located in the Terai of Uttar Pradesh along Nepal border, it is also part of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
  • It represents one of the few remaining examples of a highly diverse and productive Terai ecosystem, supporting a large number of endangered species.
  • Famous for tigers, elephants, Indian rhino, Leopard, Barasingha (swamp deer), sloth bear and others.
  • A natural habitat for rhinos, with a mixture of dense Sal forests, grasslands and ponds, Dudhwa’s first batch of six rhinos was brought from Assam in 1984.

Terai :

  •  A plain region mainly in Nepal and India that lies in south of the outer foothills of the Himalaya, the Siwalik Hills.
  •  This lowland belt is characterised by tall grasslands, scrub savannah, sal forests and clay rich swamps.
  •  In northern India, the Terai spreads eastward from the Yamuna River across Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  •   A large area of forested land has been deforested for timber industry and are now cultivated or settled
  •   Corresponding parts in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Assam east to the Brahmaputra River are called ‘Dooars

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 GREEN TEA – LACED CAPACITOR TO POWER WEARABLE DEVICES

 Its energy densities are enough to operate heart rate monitor. Scientists have used green tea compounds to develop a new flexible and compact rechargeable energy storage device which may power more comfortable wearable electronics such as heart rate monitors. The most prominent versions of wearable electronics are sold in the form of watches or sports bands.

More comfortable products could become available in softer materials made in part with an unexpected ingredient — green tea, researchers said. Powering soft wearable electronics with a long-lasting source of energy remains a big challenge.

However, most super capacitors are rigid, and the compressible super capacitors developed so far have run into roadblocks. “Our objective is to fabricate wearable electronic devices. Compressible energy storage devices are the first step towards achieving that objective,” Kothandam Krishnamoorthy, from the CSIR-Network of Institutes for Solar Energy said.

 

Super capacitors have been made with carbon-coated polymer sponges, but the coating material tends to bunch up and compromise performance. The researchers prepared polymer gels in green tea extract, which infuses the gel with polyphenols.

The polyphenols converted a silver nitrate solution into a uniform coating of silver nanoparticles. Thin layers of conducting gold and poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) were then applied.

The resulting super capacitor demonstrated power and energy densities of 2,715 watts per kg and 22 watt- hours per kg — enough to operate a heart rate monitor, LEDs or a bluetooth module.

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 PROJECT LOON CAN NOW PREDICT WEATHER SYSTEMS

Project Loon is a research and developed by X (formerly Google X) with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The project uses high-altitude placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 18 km (11 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds. It was named Project Loon, since even Google itself found the idea of providing Internet access to the remaining 5 billion population unprecedented and "crazy."

Researchers at Google have moved a step closer to rolling out a network of huge balloons to provide Internet connectivity to billions of people around the world, particularly those in difficult to reach rural areas.

The Project Loon team, part of the company’s X research lab, said it can now use machine learning to predict weather systems.

The advance means Google has much more control over where its balloons reach, making it possible to focus on a specific region, rather than circumnavigating the globe.

“We can now run an experiment and try to give service in a particular place in the world with ten, twenty or thirty balloons,” rather than hundreds needed previously, the company said.

The company has experimented with beaming down connectivity from a network of huge, tennis-court sized balloons rather than undertaking huge construction projects to replicate connectivity networks in the developed world.

The balloons float in the stratosphere around 18 kilometres high. By raising or lowering altitude, the balloons can be caught in different weather streams, changing direction.

By using machine-learning algorithms, Google thinks it found a way to predict weather with enough accuracy to make it possible to hover balloons a relatively small area for a long period of time.

The firm was last year able to keep a cluster of balloons over Peru for three months.

VOCABULARY

Hover- Remain in one place in the air

LTE- An acronym for Long Term Evolution, LTE is a 4G wireless communications standard developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) that's designed to provide up to 10x the speeds of 3G networks for mobile devices.

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ONE CHINA POLICY - IN A NUTSHELL

 

  • It is a diplomatic acknowledgement of China's position that there is only one Chinese government.

 How it came into news?

  • Recently United States of America president Donald Trump endorsed 'One China' policy.

 What is the relevance?

  • After facing the defeat in Chinese civil war lasted till 1949,the Nationalists in mainland China, also known as Kuomintang, retreated to the island of Taiwan and made their Government there while mainland ruled by communists. From then onwards mainland China known as People's Republic of China(PRC) and Taiwan known as Republic of China (ROC). Both the nations claim that they represent the whole China.

The stance in international arena

  • Taiwan has made it those who recognise that PRC represents China has to sever the diplomatic ties with ROC. Initially the US had recognized ROC but during 1970s they changed their stance and began to posses close ties with PRC for the sake of Mutual Assistance. But at the same time, the US maintains unofficial diplomatic ties with Taiwan and they sell arms to the island nation to face any 'threat'.
  • The international body UN not recognized ROC till now. It undergoes extraordinary naming contortions just to participate in events and institutions like the Olympic Games and the World Trade Organization.

 India's stance

  • India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but maintains a cultural-economic office in Taipei and vice-versa with Taiwan.

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ISRO SUCCESSFULLY TESTS C25 CRYOGENIC UPPER STAGE OF GSLV MkIII

 

Issue: Successful test firing of Cryogenic Engine Stage (C25) of GSLV Mark-lll Rocket: - making way for ISRO to launch 3200kg GSAT-19 Communication Satellite in March.

Cryogenic Upper stage Rocket engine designated as ‘C-25’ was tested for 50 Sec in  ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu

 Let’s see what Cryogenic Rocket Engine is,

Cryogenics the word is originated from two Greek words, ‘Kryos’ meaning Cold and ‘Genes’ means Born.

Cryogenic engine is an engine which uses Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) as fuel and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as Oxidiser ie, supplying oxygen for fuel to burn.

Cryogenic engine used in NASA Space Shuttles

Why Hydrogen (H2) and Oxygen (O2)??

Hydrogen (H2) has high calorific value or having high energy content and during combustion or burning when combined with Oxygen (O2) it produces only Water (H2O) as                 by-product.

Liquid Hydrogen’s high calorific value and high mass flow rate gives Cryogenic engine high thrust which enables rocket to carry heavy payload or satellite to higher orbit.

ISRO now uses PSLV which have a capacity of carrying satellite of weight around 2000 kg. Heavy satellites like communication satellites which have to be placed in higher orbits like geo synchronous orbits (which is around 36,000kms high) were launched from French Guiana using European Ariane Rockets.

What so special about it??

Cryogenic Engine is very complicated to build as Oxygen and Hydrogen are gases in its normal state. This makes it difficult to store in higher quantities. To store higher quantities we have to store it in liquid state by keeping it below “Cryogenic” Temperature of -183 degree C for Oxygen and

-253 degree C for Hydrogen.

Scientists and Engineers in ISRO developed this complicated technology indigenously. The introduction of Cryogenic Engine propelled GSLV Mark lll will help us reduce the launching by costs using foreign rockets and it will help in our future manned space missions.

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February 08, 2017

MAKING PLASTIC BAGS OUT OF CASSAVA STARCH

 Indonesia is facing a plastic waste crisis driven by years of rapid economic growth. The waves of plastic flooding into rivers and oceans has been causing problems for years -- waterways in cities become clogged, increasing the risk of floods, as well death and injury to marine animals who become tramped or ingest plastic packaging.The archipelago of over 17,000 islands is one of the worst offenders when it comes to marine littering, with US charity Oceans Conservancy estimating the country dumps the second-highest amount of plastic into the sea, behind only China.

Plastic bags out of Cassava starch

 

Kvien Kumala, founder of Avani Eco,an entrepreneur from Bali, disgusted at the rubbish littering the famous holiday island, is trying to tackle the problem with alternatives to conventional plastic.His company, Avani Eco, produces goods including cassava carrier bags, takeaway food containers made from sugar cane and straws fashioned from corn starch, which founder Kevin Kumala says biodegrade relatively quickly and don't leave any toxic residue.

Benefits
* Instead of normal plastic, they are made of biodegradable eco-plastic, the main ingredient of which is the cassava root.

*  Made from natural starches.

*  Naturally converted into carbon dioxide (Co₂), water (H₂O) and biomass within months.
*  Dissolves in hot water and softens in cold water.
*  Ideal to be used as electronic components wrapping, where static electricity must be avoided.
*  Harmless when consumed by animals.
*  Safe for plant growth.
It takes about six weeks for an eco-plastic bag to decompose, where it would take a normal plastic bag centuries.
Cassava starch is also useful in the manufacturing of paper, textiles, medicines and adhesives, bag, mug, handbag and phone cover, among others.

A solution for the single use plastic bag problem.
Biodegradable, compostable and recyclable bioplastic bags made from cassava root and all natural resins.

 NOTES

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Cassava - a long tuberous starchy root similar to our Tapioka
archipelago - an extensive group of islands.
clogged - block or become blocked with an accumulation of thick, wet matter.

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TOXINS IN LITCHI FRUIT KILL CHILDREN IN BIHAR’S MUZAFFARPUR

 Scientists from the U.S. and India have found that consumption of litchi fruit and skipping evening meal can result in very low blood glucose level and acuteencephalopathy, seizures and coma, and causes death in many cases. An unexplained illness in children aged 15 years and younger in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, which claims many lives in May-June, has been solved. Scientists from the U.S. and India have found that consumption of litchi fruit and skipping evening meal can result in very low blood glucose level (less than 70 mg/dL) and acute encephalopathy that provokes seizures and coma, and causes death in many cases.Skipping evening meal, by itself results in low blood sugar levels during the night. This is particularly so in the case of young children as they have limited glycogen reserves. Hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropylglycine(MCPG), which are naturally present in litchi fruit, make the condition worse. The toxins block enzymes involved in normal glucose metabolism and this results in an inability to synthesis glucose leading to acutely low level of blood sugar.

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 Feb 10, 2017

Hundreds of whales wash up dead on New Zealand beach

New Zealand volunteers formed a human chain in the water at a remote beach as they tried to save about 100 whales after more than 400 of the creatures beached themselves in one of the worst whale strandings in the nation’s history. About three-quarters of the pilot whales were already dead when they were found Friday morning at Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island. It’s an area that seems to confuse whales and has been the site of previous mass strandings.

Farewell Spit

 

Farewell Spit is sometimes described as a whale trap. It has a long protruding coastline and gently sloping beaches that seem to make it difficult for whales to

navigate away from once they get close.

 What is Whale Stranding?                 

It is a phenomenon in which whales strand themselves on land, usually on a beach. Beached whales often die due to dehydration, collapsing under their own weight, or drowning when high tide covers the blowhole.

 Causes

     OLD OR SICK    Old whales may find it difficult to keep up with their pod or resist heavy swells or inshore currents.

injuries, result in stranding

 NAVIGATIONAL ERRORS     Echolocation is not well-suited to shallow, gently sloping waters. Most mass strandings happen in summer, when the whales follow popular food sources inshore.

     SOCIAL BONDING  One of the most common patterns with mass strandings is that one or two whales will initially strand. These animals will send out distress signals and members from their pod may attempt to help or mill slightly off-shore. A receding tide will then catch these animals out and soon the whole pod will become stranded.

 Health Risks

A beached whale carcass should not be consumed. In 2002, fourteen Alaskans ate whale blubber from a beached whale, resulting in eight of them developing botulism, a rare and potentially fatal illness, with two of the affected requiring mechanical ventilation. This is a possibility for any meat taken from an unpreserved carcass.

 NOTES

 Strand

 To cause (a whale or other sea animal) to be unable to swim free from a beach or from shallow

 Water.

 Pilot whales

 Pilot whales are one of the largest members of the dolphin family. They were named pilot whales because it was thought that each pod followed a ‘pilot’ in the group.

 Blowhole

 An opening or one of a pair of openings for breathing, located on the top of the head of

Carcass – the dead body of an animal

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Who are the Rohingya people ?

Bangladesh, which shares border with Myanmar, has refused to accept more Rohingyarefugees  following a military crackdown in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

 

 

  • Rakhine has an estimated one million Rohingya population who are seen by the Buddhist majority as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • The Rohingya people are Muslim Indo-Aryan peoples from the Rakhine State, Myanmar.
  • According to the Rohingyas, they are indigenous to Rakhine State butthe official stance of the Myanmar government has been that the Rohingyas are mainlyillegal immigrants.
  • Human rights organizations have often described Rohingyas as one of the mostpersecuted minorities in the world.
  • Burmese nationality law enacted in 1982, denied Rohingyas citizenship, rendering amajority of Rohingya population stateless.
  • Rohingyas have received international attention in the wake of 2012 Rakhine State riots,2015 Rohingya refugee crisis, and in the military crackdown in 2016.

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FARMED HILSA: BENGAL MAY GET ITS DELICACY ROUND THE YEAR

  • A species of fish which is a popular food fish in South Asia(especially with Bengalis) and is the national fish of Bangladesh

 

  • Scientists are rearing the fish in brackish (salt) water ponds in an experimental project to meet future domestic demand
  • It is found in rivers and estuaries in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Burma and the Persian Gulf area.
  • It is known as Paluva in Malayalam

Hilsa is an anadromous fish

  • An anadromous fish, born in fresh water, spends most of its life in the sea and returns to fresh water to spawn ( laying of eggs ). eg-Salmon
  • A catadromous fish does the opposite - lives in fresh water and enters salt water to spawn.eg-most of the Eels.
  • In India, the Ganges, Mahanadi, Chilika Lake, Narmada and Godavari rivers are famous for Hilsa.
  • It is an oily fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids( polyunsaturated fatty acids, important for normal metabolism)
  • The species is overfished now

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GOVERNMENTAL SCHEMES

10/02/2017

PRADHAN MANTRI KAUSHAL VIKAS YOJANA(PMKVY)

Pradhan MantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY) is a scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, Shri NarendraModi, declared about Pradhan MantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY) with an outlay of Rs. 1500 crore on March 20 2015.The objective of this Skill Certification Scheme is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better life.

Individuals with prior learning experience or skills will also be assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Under this Scheme, Training and Assessment fees are completely paid by the Government.

The scheme will be implemented through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

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ROHINGYA REFUGEES TO BE RELOCATED ON REMOTE ISLAND 

 Why is it important?

It is related to a human rights violation happening in Myanmar by the military.  Rohingyas are stateless group of people living in the western part of the Myanmar, who are facing severe attack from Myanmar state and military which is suspected to be a part of ‘ethnic cleansing’. International community including United Nations have expressed their concern over this genocide.

 

Why are the Rohingyas hated in Myanmar?

While Buddhism happens to be the religion of the majority in present day Myanmar, the region is believed to have been home to a thriving multi-ethnic society in the last 2,000 years. Muslim influence in Myanmar can be traced back to the 15th century. However, those who call themselves as Rohingyas have a more complicated origin which makes their presence within the current borders of the nation problematic in the eyes of the majority.

How has the international community responded to the crisis?

While Human Rights Watch has called the military crackdown on Myanmar a case of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ the UN’s office of Human Rights has declared that the crisis in the South East Asian country ‘could tantamount to crimes against humanity’. In November 2016, the former chief of UN, Kofi Anan arrived in Myanmar with his team to look into the armed struggle, and was met by protesters who were against foreign intervention.

Currently Bangladesh is accommodating Rohingyas refugees.

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GOVERNMENTAL SCHEMES

Pradhan MantriJeevanJyotiBimaYojana

Pradhan MantriJeevanJyotiBimaYojana is for Life Insurance Cover was launched by Prime Minister ,NarendraModi, in Kolkata on 9th May 2015.

Who can join Pradhan MantriJeevanJyoti BimaYojna?

Any Citizen of India can join PMJJBY scheme. The following are the eligibility criteria,

  • The age of the subscriber should be between 18 – 50 years.
  • He or She should have a savings bank account or need to open a savings bank account. It is necessary to have a bank account as contributions would be auto debited that is would be automatically taken every month.

 

Premium:  Rs.330 per annum.  It will be auto-debited in one instalment.

 

Payment Mode:  The payment of premium will be directly auto-debited by the bank from the subscribers account.

 

Risk Coverage: In case of death for any reason Rs.2 Lakh.

 

Terms of Risk Coverage: A person has to opt for the scheme every year.  He can also prefer to give a long-term option of continuing, in which case his account will be auto-debited every year by the bank.

 

Who will implement this Scheme?: The scheme will be offered by Life Insurance Corporation and all other life insurers who are willing to join the scheme and tie-up with banks for this purpose.

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ONE – CHINA POLICY

  • The policy or view that there is only one state called "China", despite the existence of two governments that claim to be "China".
  • The two governments are People's Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) and Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan)
  • Countries seeking diplomatic relations with one of these countries have to break official relations with the other.
  • A modified form of the "One China" principle known as the "1992 Consensus" is the current policy of the PRC government.
  • Under this  consensus, both governments "agree" that there is only one state with both mainland China and Taiwan, but disagree about which of the two is the legitimate government of this state.
  • The One-China principle faces opposition from supporters of the Taiwan independence movement, which pushes to establish the "Republic of Taiwan".

Background:

  • Before Second World War, the Republic of China government under Chiang Kai-shek ruled both mainland China and Taiwan.
  • However, the resumption of the Chinese Civil War after WW2 led to the ROC's loss of the mainland to the Communists, and the flight of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949.
  • Today most of the countries including India has official diplomatic relations with mainland China(PRC) but maintains informal relations with Taiwan(ROC)
  • Recent official telephonic conversation between U.S President elect and President of Taiwan attracted harsh criticism from China due to the alleged violation of One-China policy.

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INDIAN PEPPER MAY BE A CANCER FIGHTER

 

The Indian long pepper, widely popular for spicing up food, may soon be used as a potential cancer treatment drug, according to a new study.

The Indian long pepper contains a chemical that could stop your body from producing an enzyme that is commonly found in tumors in large numbers, according to the study in Journal of Biological Chemistry.

UT Southwestern Medical Enter scientists have uncovered the chemical process behind anti-cancer properties of a spicy Indian pepper plant called the long pepper, whose suspected medicinal properties date back thousands of years. The secret lies in a chemical called Piperlongumine (PL), which has shown activity against many cancers including prostate, breast, lung, colon, lymphoma, leukaemia, primary brain tumours and gastric cancer.

Detoxification enzyme

Using X-ray crystallography, researchers were able to create molecular structures that show how the chemical is transformed after being ingested. PL converts to hPL, an active drug that silences a gene called GSTP1. The GSTP1 gene produces a detoxification enzyme that is often overly abundant in tumours, the study said.

“We are hopeful that our structure will enable additional drug development efforts in order to improve the potency of PL for its use in a wide range of cancer therapies,” said Dr. Kenneth Westover, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Radiation Oncology.

 *  X-ray crystallography is a technique used for determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal, in which the crystalline atoms cause incident X-rays to diffract into many specific directions.

* GSTP 1gene- glutathione S-transferase pi 1gene

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 GOVERNMENTAL SCHEMES

ATAL PENSION YOJAYA

Atal Pension Yojana (APY), is a pension scheme for citizens of India focussed on the organised sector workers. Under the Atal Pension Yojana, guaranteed minimum pension of Rs. 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 per month will be given at the age of 60 years depending on the contributions by the subscribers.Atal Pension Yojna(APY) was launched by Prime Minister , NarendraModi, in Kolkata on 9th May 2015.

What is Pension?

A Pension provides people with a monthly income when they are no longer earning. Need for Pension:

  • Decreased income earning potential with age.
  • Rise in cost of living.
  • Assured monthly income ensures dignified life in old age.

 Who can join Atal Pension Yojna?

 Any Citizen of India can join APY scheme. The following are the eligibility criteria,

  • The age of the subscriber should be between 18 – 40 years.
  • He or She should have a savings bank account or need to open a savings bank account. It is necessary to have a bank account as contributions would be auto debited that is would be automatically taken every month.
  • He/she should be have mobile number and its details are to be furnished to the bank during registration.
  • Government co-contribution is available for 5 years, i.e., from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for the subscribers who join the scheme during the period from 1st June, 2015 to 31st December, 2015 and who are not covered by any Statutory Social Security Schemes and are not income tax payers.

 How many Atal Pension Yojana accounts I can open?

 One can open only one Atal Pension Yojana account and it is unique.

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What is Project Yamal ?

Yamal project  is a long term plan to exploit and bring to the vast natural gas reserves in the Yamal Peninsula of Russia’s  Arctic region. The project is developed by Gazprom. Gazprom is a large Russian company which carries on  extraction, production, transport  and sale of natural gas.

 

 

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG):

  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport.
  • It is odourless, colourless, toxic and non-corrosive.
  • The liquefaction process involves removal of certain components  such as dust, helium, water and heavy hydrocarbons.
  • The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure by cooling it to approximately −162 °C .

 

  • The gas is then cooled down in stages until it is liquefied. LNG is finally stored in storage tanks and can be loaded and shipped.
  • LNG achieves a higher reduction in volume than compressed natural gas (CNG) so that it is easy to  transport over long distances where pipelines do not exist.

 

Source : www.gazprom.com

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INDIA BECOMES ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF CERN

India became an Associate member of CERN on Monday with the Indian government completing its internal approval procedures in respect of the agreement it had signed with CERN on November 21, 2016.

On November 21, 2016, Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Fabiola Gianotti CERN Director General signed an Agreement to admit India to CERN as an Associate member.

As an Associate member India will have full access to all data generated at CERN.

As an Associate member, India can participate in all experiments. We may have to pay additional charges for participating in the experiments. We can choose the experiments where India wants to participate.

There are other benefits of becoming an Associate member. Whenever any CERN facilities get upgraded and go through maintenance, it will provide opportunities for Indian industries to 

participate. “Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will allow it to work in areas of advanced technology. So the “Make in India” will get a boost due to CERN.

Since Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments, it will enhance the participation of young scientists and engineers in operation and maintenance of various CERN projects. “Indian scientists and engineers working in CERN will learn how to operate and maintain the facilities. So when they return it will be useful for India,” Dr. Basu said.

India has to pay about Rs. 40 crore a year as an Associate member. According to him, it is a small fee compared to the huge scientific and commercial benefits that India will stand to gain.

India has been actively involved in CERN’s scientific activities for over 50 years. “Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have made substantial contributions to the construction of the LHC accelerator and to the ALICE and CMS experiments, as well as to accelerator R&D projects,” said Dr. Gianotti in a CERN release.

In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation. India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then. But India’s involvement in CERN began in the 1960s with researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai participating in experiments at CERN. India was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002.

The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding state. Currently, CERN has 22 member states. Besides India, Turkey, Pakistan, Ukraine are Associate members and Serbia and Cyprus are associate members in the pre-stage to membership.

NOTE:

What does CERN mean?

European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The acronym CERN originally stood, in French, for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research), which was a provisional council for setting up the laboratory.

What is LHC?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and most powerful particle collider, most complex experimental facility ever built, and the largest single machine in the world.

What is ALICE & CMS Experiments?

ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) is one of seven detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The other six are: ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS),  CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), TOTEM (TOTal Elastic and diffractive cross section Measurement), LHCb ( "Large Hadron Collider beauty"), LHCf ("Large Hadron Collider forward") and MoEDAL (Monopole and Exotics Detector at the LHC).

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 BENNU, THE MYTHOLOGICAL BIRD OF EGYPT

 

Bennu is an ancient Egyptian Mythological bird associated with the God "Osiris", The God of death.

Now it is in the news because there is one Asteroid named after.  A carbonaceous asteroid giant rotating near the earth and its orbit almost overlap with earth at times. 

As seen above it is so big. But it is not the size that worries our scientists. They fear that its end may collide with Earth.

So our Scientists on September 2016 send a probe to study and collect samples from "Bennu". It is named OSIRIS -Rex. Osiris is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition. 

Osiris family : Isis, her husband Osiris, and their son Horus

(It concerns the murder of the god Osiris, a primeval king of Egypt, and its consequences. Osiris's murderer, his brother Set, usurps his throne. Meanwhile, Osiris's wife Isis restores her husband's body, allowing him to posthumously conceive a son with her. The remainder of the story focuses on Horus, the product of the union of Isis and Osiris, who is at first a vulnerable child protected by his mother and then becomes Set's rival for the throne. Their often violent conflict ends with Horus's triumph, which restores order to Egypt after Set's unrighteous reign and completes the process of Osiris's resurrection. )

 

OSIRIS - Rex is the short form of Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. It will take seven years for OSIRIS to reach Bennu.

An interesting fact is that the name "Bennu" was given by a third grade student names Michael Puzio from North Carolina.

If this mission is successful NASA will send another probe to some Trojan asteroids which rotate along with some planets including our Earth in same orbits without colliding. 

 

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Idea sent by Rahul Ramanujan our faculty from Pathanamthitta

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Insight on editorials -

THE HINDU  - 10/jan/2017

 OILING THE CASHLESS ECONOMY

      

The editorial is concerned with the threat by petroleum retailers (petrol bunk owners) to stop accepting credit card and debit card payments. It was due to the decision by certain banks to levy Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) of up to 1% on card payments.

Let’s see what is MDR

MDRs are surcharge levied by banks for their service. Credit card makes payments easy and transparent.

 

POS MACHINE

Suppose you took your car to a petrol bunk thinking that you can pay them with your debit/credit card. Here three entities are involved. You have a debit card from ‘SBI’ and the petrol bunk is having a POS Machine given by ‘Federal Bank’. These cards will be made and given to them by some Payment platforms such as ‘VISA’, ‘MASTERCARD’ etc..

 

Payment Platforms

When MDR is charged say, if it is 3% and a transaction is made with a profit of Rs.100 then Rs.97  will go to the petrol bunk and Rs. 3 will go to those three entities mentioned earlier.

Here bunk owners claim is they get only 2% profit now, from that If we give 1% as surcharge it will affect their business.

Vocabulary

1)      Surcharge – an additional charge or payment

2)      Levy – Impose (a tax or fine)

3)      Entity – A thing with an independent existence.

4)      POS Machine – Point- Of- Sale Machine

 

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Idea sent by Rahul Ramanujan our faculty from Pathanamthitta

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Insight on Editorials

THE HINDU- 11/Jan/2017

APPOINTMENTS AS SPOILS OF OFFICE 

 

 The editorial deals with the Supreme Court’s standing by the judgment of Madras High Court quashing the appointment of 11 members Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC).

Let’s see What happend,

In December last year the Governor of the state of Tamil Nadu made appointment of 11 members to TNPSC. But there was no proper selection process was carried out. This is simply a move by state government to fill recruiting institutions like State Public Service Commission with their political favourites. Madras High Court directed the state govt to start a fresh and fair selection based on “meaningful and deliberative process.

Comments by Madras High Court

  • Appointments are against institutional integrity
  • Based on political patronage
  • Policy is deeply flawed
  • Arbitrariness is evident.

 

An Insight on Public Service Commission

Public Service Commission is a ‘Constitutional’ body.

Articles 315 to 323 deals with Union and State PSCs.

  • The chairman (Head) of PSCs both union and state is appointed by the President and the Governor respectively.
  • The constitution authorises the Governor to determine the conditions of chairman and members of State PSC.
  • Even though Governor appoints the Chairman he can only be removed by the President.
  • Age limit is 62 for State PSC and 65 for UPSC and a term of 6 years whichever is earlier.
  • No qualification is prescribed on the constitution for commission’s membership except one half of the members of commission should have held govt office of ten years.
  • They can relinquish their offices at any time by addressing their resignation to the Governor.

Vocabulary

1)      Quashing – reject as invalid

2)      Flawed – Having weakness or imperfection

3)      Patronage – Power to control appointments

4)      Relinquish – to give up

5)      Deliberate – Careful and not in a hurry

6)      Arbitraration- based on random choice

7)      Constitutional- given in constitution

8)      Integrity – the quality of being honest.

 

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Idea sent by Rahul Ramanujan our faculty from Pathanamthitta

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THE HINDU -  16/01/2017

TWEAKING PHOTOSYNTHESIS FOR A BETTER CROP YIELD

 The article is concerned with studies to increase the productivity of plants as the human population increases. It is due toas human population increases, we would need more of crops in order to satisfy the global demand for food.

An international team of researchers, led by Dr Stephen P. Long of the University of Illnois and Dr Krishna K. Niyogi of the University of California, Berkeley, USA has focused on this problem. Their paper, titled “Improving photosynthesis and crop productivity by accelerating recovery from photo-protection”.

Energy from sunlight is captured by green pigments called chlorophyll in the leaves to conduct chemical reactions. But energy can also damage the leaves, the plants protect themselves from these damages (process is non-photochemical quenching). Aim is to reduce this recovery time as possible as.

The team studied how plants FIX or adjust their photosynthetic cycle as their leaves experience light and shade in natural environment. In full sunlight, NPQ is activated to protect the chlorophyll from the damage. In low sunlight situation NPQ is reduced and hastening NPQ process could increase the efficiency of photosynthesis cycle. This is a good strategy to improve the productivity of plants. Switching of NPQ is possible with the help of three proteins. One is ZEP which speedup NPQ rate, second is VDE balances the ZEP and third one is PSBS which adjust the NPQ level. The team inserted the genes for VDE, PSEB and ZEP obtained a genetically engineered plant of tobacco as the proof-of-principle plant.

On comparing the performance of VPZ plants with normal, unmodified tobacco plants, the VPZ plants displayed faster relaxation of NPQ and they were seen to recover and engage in photosynthesis sooner. Can improve the productivity using this strategy.

Vocabulary

  1. Hastening- put to speed or be quick to do something.
  2. NPQ- Non-photochemical quenching is a mechanism employed by plants and algae to protect themselves from the adverse effects of high light intensity.
  3. PSBS- Photosystem II 22 kDa protein.
  4. VPZ plants- plants with all the 3 genes VDE, PSBS and ZEP proteins.
  5. 5.     ZEP- Zeaxanthin epoxidase, chloroplastic
  6. 6.     VDE-Violaxanthin de-epoxidase

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Idea sent by Jusna P Kumar our faculty from Alappuzha

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Insights on Editorials

THE HINDU- 14-jan-2017

PAY HEED TO URJIT PATEL

 

The article is about the emphasis given by Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel on domestic macroeconomic stability by speaking up against large scale lowering of interest rate by means of subvention from union budget.

Let’s see  what happened,

Mr Urjit Patel have clearly said the Govt to direct its expenditure more on expanding railway networks and urban mass transit system which will reduce oil import, rather than interest subvention schemes.

Interest subvention

 

 

Interest Subvention or Interest Equalisation is nothing but the subsidy given by government on Interest for loans taken by citizens working on 3 sectors, 1) Agriculture 2) Exports      3) Self Help Groups.

Suppose a farmer took a loan of Rs100,000 on 9% interest, he have to pay 9000 per month as interest to bank. If government gives a subsidy of 2%,then Rs 2000 will be paid by government and farmer have to pay only Rs 7000 per month to bank ie, government will reduce the burden of interest from farmer’s shoulders.

Further, government have announced last month that if the farmer pays his interest regularly for a period of time the government will further provide a subsidy of 3% ie, total 5% of interest will be paid by government.

 

These subsidies are giving an additional financial burden on the government.

Vocabulary

Heed – pay attention

Macro Economics – the branch of economics deals with, large scale economic factors such as national productivity.

Expenditure – an amount of money spend.

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Idea sent by Rahul Ramanujan our faculty from Pathanamthitta

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GOVERNMENTAL SCHEME

What is Saur SujalaYojana ?

 Prime Minister NarendraModi launched the Saur SujalaYojana that would provide solar powered irrigation pumps to farmers at a subsidized price. With this Chhattisgarh becomes the first state to implement the scheme.

Key Facts Under the scheme:

  • Solar powered irrigation pumps of 3HP( Power of an engine measured in terms of horsepower or HP.  1HP = 746 Watts) and 5HP capacity will be distributed to the farmers. The beneficiaries would get the pumps at the subsidised price. 

 

 

  • It is mainly aimed to give priority to those areas where electricity has not reached, so that farmers can utilize them in irrigation and agriculture.
  • Around 51,000 farmers would be benefitted in the state with the launch of the scheme by 2018.

 Reference: http://currentaffairs.gktoday.in

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Idea sent by Sumesh S  our faculty from Trivandrum (Parassala)

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Hindu (online) -  15 Jan 2017

CHINA HANDS OVER TWO SHIPS TO PAKISTAN NAVY FOR GWADAR PORT SECURITY

 China has handed over two ships to the Pakistan to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the ambitious China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These ships have been named as Hingoland Basol, after two rivers near Gwadar. They will be part of Pakistan Navy and are equipped with state-of-the-art guns. They will be used to protect the sea-lanes in the Arabian Sea. Besides, China will also provide two more ships to Pakistan Navy which have been named Zhob and Dasht after two districts in Balochistan.

  • “Strengthening of Pakistan navy in Arabian sea region is indeed an alarming bell for India”

            Recently, China has actively started extending its help and cooperationto Pakistan for security along the CPEC’s land and sea routes. As a response, Pakistan army already has raised a new division of the army to ensure security along the CPEC route and around the strategic Gwadar port. The security of Gwadar city also has been handed over to the Pakistan army’s new division.

In the past, China restrained itself from deploying its naval ships in Gwadar, as it could had raised alarm in US and India.

Gwadar Port

 The strategic Gwadar port is located in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province. It has been developed under CPEC which link western China through Pakistan with Middle East, Africa and Europe. The reconstructed port became operational in November 2016.

China has not only rebuilt the port, but also has its operational control. It (China) is also building network of roads and railways to link up its remote western regions to Gwadar for easier access to the Arabian sea.

CPEC – China Pakistan Economic Corridor

 

 

The CPEC is a development megaproject which aims to connect Gwadar port in southwestern Pakistan to Kashnagar at China’s northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang, via a network of highways, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas. It will run at a length of around 3000 km fro Gwadar to Kashgar. The corridor is an extension of China’s propsed 21st century “Silk Road Initiative”.

 

Vocabulary

  • Restrained self controlled, (here) withhold
  • Deploy – move (troops or equipment) into position for military action
  • Restive – agitated, (here) chaotic

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Idea sent by Swaminathan D S   our faculty from Kollam

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THE HINDU - 17 jan 2017

GST   STALEMATE RESOLVED 

 

Issues resolved

1)      For taxpayers with less than Rs.1.5 crore turnover, States will have power to assess and administer 90% of them and Centre will have power to administer 10%.

2)      For taxpayers with more than Rs 1.5 Crore turnover, it will be 50:50.

3)      Each will be assessed by only one authority.

 

  • GST is an example of cooperative federalism.

Let’s see what is GST.

GST or Goods and Services Tax is an initiative by the government to bring all direct and indirect taxes under one umbrella except basic customs duty, which is applicable on petroleum products and liquor. India is a country with diverse tax structure. There are multiple taxes and taxes on taxes. That makes India a country with multiple market when compared to European Union where many country with one market.

Only 4% of population pays direct tax on contrast to many developed nations, major portion India’s tax income come from Indirect Tax.

  • GST will make our TAX structure simple and transparent.
  • GST will reduce transportation, manufacturing costs.

for example, prices of cars will be reduced.

Vocabulary

1)      Direct Tax – Tax paid by a person directly, based on his/her income. Eg: Income tax

2)      Indirect Tax – Tax whose burden can be passed on to others, like taxes on products and goods.

3)      Cooperative Federalism – is a concept in which national, state, and local govt interact cooperatively.

4)       Turnover – the amount of money taken by a business in a particular period.

 

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Idea sent by Harisree  our faculty from Kottayam

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