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October 2020

Kolar didn’t want to let him go – A tribute

  1. D.K. Ravi became popular for his people-friendly measures during his one year tenure as Deputy Commissioner.
  2. Thousands had stormed the Deputy Commissioner’s office on November 5 demanding that Mr. Ravi continue at least for some time.
  3. He became popular for cracking down on the sand mafia and evicting encroached government lands and tanks much to the dislike of politicians.

Discuss: The sad news of his demise should let the aspirants think of the razor edge which administrators have to walk on. May his soul RIP.

Union Govt. permits 5% ethanol blending with petrol

  1. Ethanol itself burns cleaner and burns more completely than petrol it is blended into.
  2. Government of India mandated blending of 5% ethanol with petrol on all India basis by 2006. In US, blending is allowed upto 10%.
  3. Genesis – Brazil’s bio-fuel programme, which began in 1976 – now the cars can handle ethanol blends from 18% upwards.
  4. Steps taken by Gov. – Remunerative prices offered to sugar mills to supply ethanol to oil marketing companies.

    Discuss: What are the problems? States levy additional taxes in pretext of ‘import-export’ and even extra octroi. State excise inspectors don’t give NOC for Inter-state movement of ethanol easily.

Tribes in News

The first National Tribal Festival – Vanaj


  1. Organised by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram.
  2. The aim was to bridge the gaps of social divide and promote tribal culture in India.
  3. More than 900 folk and tribal artists participated.

  4. Tip: In 2014, India held the biodiversity express and some questions in the Prelims were sitters from the brochure itself. 

Govt launches mobile app to check your city’s air quality

  1. Citizens of Delhi, the city with the world’s most toxic air, & Pune take notice. A mobile app launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  2. SAFAR-Air, will provide current data and a forecast for air quality.
  3. Particulate matter (PM) = (include sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water) are the most dangerous.
  4. Ozone in the air is a major factor in asthma morbidity and mortality.

    Discuss: The avg. air pollution this year was highest in winter month (since 2010). Why? This year temperatures were low – boundary layer of atmosphere becomes low – PM mixes with fog – leads to multiplying of aerosols.  

Maharashtra approves field trials for four GM crops

  1. No-objection certificates (NOC) have been given for trials of brinjal, rice, chickpea (chana) and cotton.
  2. To be able to conduct the GM trials, one needs 2 things – Approval from the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) & NOC from States.
  3. Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh besides Maharashtra, are among the key States to have allowed non-laboratory-based GM trials.
  4. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan & others have banned it.

    Discuss: Top countries with largest areas under GM-cultivation – Argentina, Brazil, US, India.

Junta protesting against Koteshwar dam

  1. Seepage from the Koteshwar dam across the Bhagirathi in Tehri district has intensified protests by the local people against the 400-MW project.
  2. The villages in the vicinity are already facing land sinking.
  3. The dam, a project of the THDC (Tehri Hydro Development Corporation) and part of the Tehri Power Complex.
  4. Produces electricity and regulates water released from the Tehri reservoir for irrigation.

    Discuss: So enamoured was India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru of this model of development that he is reported to have described it as a “New Temple of Resurgent India“, worthy of worship.

Nagaland – Falcon capital of the World

  1. Why? An international team of ornithologists estimated that about 1MM Amur Falcons roost in the State during the small aerial predators’ annual migration on way to South Africa.
  2. The bird flies around 22,000 km all the way across Asia, over the Indian Ocean to wintering grounds in Southern Africa.
  3. The Falcons spend about one month in the State every autumn where they feast on insects to gain fitness for their long onward journey to Africa.
  4. On Nov 6, 2014 –  3 Amur Falcons – named ‘Naga’, ‘Wokha’ and ‘Pangti’ – were satellite tagged and released.

    Discuss: With this, Nagaland has entered the international map of ‘global conservation’. Do you know any other such interesting trivia?

ICICI Bank launches ‘Pockets’

  1. India’s first digital bank called ‘Pockets’ – it is a mobile app cum e-wallet.
  2. Even a non-ICICI Client can clean up this electronic wallet from money from any other bank.
  3. This wallet uses a virtual Visa card to help you transfer money to any email id, mobile number, Facebook account, online shopping site, retail mall, Paying utility bills etc.

    Discuss: ‘Pockets’ integrates a digital wallet, a physical prepaid card and a basic savings bank account- all features of an upcoming payment bank.

Lo and behold, Rupee 1 note arrives

  1. After a gap of over 20 years, Re 1 note has been released in the country and it bears the signature of Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.
  2. Other currency notes in India bear the signature of RBI governor.
  3. Under The Coinage Act 2011, RBI can issue all notes except Rs.1 note.
  4. Although Bankers feels this is mere publicity stunt, because as such cost of printing Rs.1 note is more than the ‘face-value’ of Rs.1 note.

    Discuss: In Nov 1994, printing of Re 1 note was stopped mainly due to higher cost and for freeing capacity to print currency notes of higher denomination.

Nuclear Energy

AERB to enhance regulation of diagnostic x-ray facilities

  1. AERB has taken up the matter with the State Governments / Union Territories for formation of State level Directorates of Radiation Safety (DRS).
  2. These would work under the Health & Family Welfare Department of the respective State Governments/Union Territories.

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Centre identifies parameters to ensure ease of doing business

  1. The Centre has identified some 98 parameters to ensure ease of doing business in India.
  2. The measures include digitizing the process of applying for industrial licenses, industrial entrepreneurial memorandum and also setting up of the e-biz platform.
  3. States must benchmark themselves against model nations such as Singapore to achieve industrial growth and attract investment.

Missiles developed under the DRDO’s programmes

  1. Prithvi – Short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile.
  2. Agni – Intermediate-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile.
  3. Trishul – Short-range LOW-level surface-to-AIR missile.
  4. Akash – Medium-range surface-to-air missile.
  5. Nag – Third generation anti-tank missile.

    Discuss: These are the 5 missile sets developed under the IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme).

Prithvi-II proves its mettle

  1. Full strike range of 350 km + capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of NUCLEAR warheads.
  2. The nine-metre-tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi-II, the first missile to be developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme of the DRDO.
  3. The scientist said Prithvi-II could not be intercepted because of its “manoeuvring trajectory capability”.

    Discuss: What is this integrated guided missile dev. prog? – was conceived by renowned scientist Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.  

Medication is the answer

  1. First International Epilepsy Day on Feb 9, 2015.
  2. Epilepsy is not contagious and does not spread by touch.
  3. Epilepsy is the disorder of brain function. So it should be treated by a neurologist.
  4. Wearing a metal ring, talisman or offering animal sacrifices will NOT prevent seizures.

Hariana, Sahiwal and Gir – What are we talking about?

  1. Centre has approved the ‘Gosamvardhan and Gosanrakshan’ projects for conservation and integrated development of the above mentioned breeds of indigenous cattle.
  2. Project to look into expansion and improvement in the quality of Artificial Insemination services.
  3. The State government will implement the project in a phased manner over five years.

    Discuss: Some of the Indigenous buffalo breeds – Murrah, Surti, Jaffrabadi & Nili Ravi.

The sneak thief of sight

  1. Glaucoma is the third leading cause of irreversible blindness in India.
  2. The disease involves a rise in intraocular pressure leading to optic nerve damage and subsequent visual loss.
  3. Currently there is no treatment to restore vision once lost.
  4. The best way to guard against this illness is to undergo periodic eye evaluation.

    Discuss: Cataract & River Blindness top the leading causes list. River blindness is caused by a parasitic worm, onchocerca volvulus. The worm larvae are spread by the black simulium fly, which breed by the oxygen rich water of fast flowing rivers. 

Phasing out HFCs (2/2)

  1. Kofi Annan has been quoted as saying that “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol”.
  2. Montreal protocol as of now bans the ozone depleting gases. HFCs are as of now included in the UNFCC.
  3. Developing countries are fine with the Montreal protocol inclusion but they have some pertinent questions.
  4. What is the best technology to move to? Who will pay for the transition if the costs are high?

    Discuss: Politics of gases and patents – US companies are pushing for hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs); DuPont is promoting HFOs as the “4th generation” refrigerant.

Phasing out HFCs (1/2)

  1. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is a halogenated gas, which replaced the CFCs & HCFCs.
  2. CFCs & HCFCs were used widely due to – Low toxicity, low reactivity, and low flammability. But they were found to be destroying the Ozone.
  3. Still, this HFCs (ozone-savior replacement) has a very high global warming potential.
  4. Hence, there has been a growing demand to put in place an intl. mechanism to reduce the emissions of HFCs.
  5. Many developing countries (incl. India) wants to discuss this under UNFCC but developing countries wants it under the Montreal Protocol.

    Discuss: What’s the issue with UNFCC vs. Montreal protocol?

The bane of methane

  1. Methane is not only warming in itself it also contributes towards formation of regional ozone (which adds to warming).
  2. Methane is emitted largely from coal mining, oil and gas production, municipal solid waste and wet rice fields.
  3. Uses – Methane from waste is a resource and there is significant scope of capturing this from municipal waste.
  4. Liability – Methane emissions from the wet rice cultivation is linked with the livelihood of the poor.

    Discuss: Methane is the 2nd most important greenhouse gas. CH4 is more potent than CO2 because the radiative forcing produced per molecule is greater.

Sugar Industry – FRP, SAP, Rangarajan Committee, EBP, MIEQ, etc.

Mawana Sugars almost gives up

  1. Welcome to UP, where sugar mills are raring to shut down the operations!
  2. Out here, sugarcane and sugar prices are not linked unlike what’s been done in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  3. Banks are running away from giving loans to mills. Most of the money that is coming from the sale of sugar is going to farmers & mills are getting ~nothing.
  4. The states can fixe their own cane price, which is much higher than the Centre’s cane price, known as ‘Fair and Remunerative Price’ (FRP).
  5. But here’s a catch – Mills cannot shut down when they want – they can do so only when the district magistrate allows them to do so.