Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

Himalai Celebrating its 20th year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.

1. Sagar Vani

ESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) under Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) provides ocean information services for the benefit of various user communities in the country. The services are more fruitfully utilized when the advisories reaches the end user in timely manner and in user readable format. Now-a-days ICT facilities in the country are accessible to large population of the country and that plays a major role in effective dissemination of information to the end user. ESSO-INCOIS has adopted the state-of-the-art technologies and tools available in the country for the timely dissemination of Ocean Information and Advisory Services that includes Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) advisories, Ocean State Forecast (OSF), High Wave Alerts and Tsunami early warnings.

There are 3288 marine fishing villages and 1511 marine fish landing centres with marine fisher folk population of 3,999,214. About 37.8% (1,511,703) of marine fisher folk are engaged in active fishing. About 927,120 fishermen were involved in actual fishing either full or part time. ESSO-INCOIS is serving about 3.17 lakhs of users directly through in-house efforts as well as through the partnering organizations including NGO’s and there is yet to cover. Hence, it is necessary to target the reach of information to the 9.27 lakh involved in actual fishing either full or part time.

Presently, the advisories are being disseminated to the stakeholders from different service sections and through various stakeholders and partners, which might cause delay in dissemination of the services. In order to effectively and timely disseminate the advisories, directly from the lab to the end user, an Integrated Information Dissemination System (IDS) named as SAGAR VANI has been developed by ESSO-INCOIS through the Industry M/s. Gaian Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

The Sagar Vani is a software platform where various dissemination modes will be integrated on a single central server. The ‘Sagar Vani’ includes Multi Lingual SMS, Voice Call / Audio Advisory, Mobile Apps (User / Admin modules), Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), Email, GTS, Fax, Digital Display Boards, Radio / Television broadcast units, IVRS, Cloud Channels, etc. The system also has facility to provide access to various stakeholders (NGOs, State Fishery Departments, Disaster Management Authorities, etc.) so that they too will be able to further disseminate these ocean information and alerts to the user community.

This Sagar Vani system compares with the most advanced countries’ services in terms of speed of delivery, omni channel capabilities and diverseness of services. With this system, the services will be disseminated in local languages using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. For the first time in India, we are also using the power of television and cable network mediums for topical and alert dissemination services.

The ‘Sagar Vani’ will now serve the coastal community, especially the fishermen community with the advisories and alerts towards their livelihood as well as their safety at Sea.

2. First Known Attempt At Creating Genetically Modified Human Embryos

The first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon, MIT Technology Review has learned.

The effort, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR, according to people familiar with the scientific results.

Until now, American scientists have watched with a combination of awe, envy, and some alarm as scientists elsewhere were first to explore the controversial practice. To date, three previous reports of editing human embryos were all published by scientists in China.

Now Mitalipov is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.

Although none of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days—and there was never any intention of implanting them into a womb—the experiments are a milestone on what may prove to be an inevitable journey toward the birth of the first genetically modified humans.

In altering the DNA code of human embryos, the objective of scientists is to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease, like the blood condition beta-thalassemia. The process is termed germline engineering because any genetically modified child would then pass the changes on to subsequent generations via their own germ cells—the egg and sperm.

Some critics say germline experiments could open the floodgates to a brave new world of designer babies engineered with genetic enhancements—a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.

The U.S. intelligence community last year called CRISPR a potential “weapon of mass destruction.

Earlier , CRISPR caused editing errors and that the desired DNA changes were taken up not by all the cells of an embryo, only some. That effect, called mosaicism, lent weight to arguments that germline editing would be an unsafe way to create a person.

Many Tens of human IVF embryos were created for the experiment using the donated sperm of men carrying inherited disease mutations. Embryos at this stage are tiny clumps of cells invisible to the naked eye. MIT Technology Review could not determine which disease genes had been chosen for editing.

It is proof of principle that it can work. They significantly reduced mosaicism. I don’t think it’s the start of clinical trials yet, but it does take it further than anyone has before.

Mitalipov’s group appears to have overcome earlier difficulties by getting in early and injecting CRISPR into the eggs at the same time they were fertilized with sperm.

That concept is similar to one tested in mice by Tony Perry of Bath University. Perry successfully edited the mouse gene for coat color, changing the fur of the offspring from the expected brown to white.

3. National Mission for Urban Housing

Housing for All by 2022 aimed for urban areas with following components/options to States/Union Territories and cities:-

a) Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource;

b) Promotion of affordable housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy;

c) Affordable housing in partnership with Public & Private sectors and

d) Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.

Central grant of Rs. one lakh per house, on an average, will be available under the slum rehabilitation programme. A State Government would have flexibility in deploying this slum rehabilitation grant to any slum rehabilitation project taken for development using land as a resource for providing houses to slum dwellers. Under the Credit Linked Interest Subsidy component, interest subsidy of 6.5 percent on housing loans availed upto a tenure of 15 years will be provided to EWS/LIG categories, wherein the subsidy pay-out on NPV basis would be about Rs.2.3 lakh per house for both the categories. Central assistance at the rate of Rs.1.5 lakh per house for EWS category will be provided under the Affordable Housing in Partnership and Beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement. State Government or their para statals like Housing Boards can take up project of affordable housing to avail the Central Government grant.

The scheme will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme except the credit linked subsidy component, which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme. The Mission also prescribes certain mandatory reforms for easing up the urban land market for housing, to make adequate urban land available for affordable housing. Houses constructed under the mission would be allotted in the name of the female head of the households or in the joint name of the male head of the household and his wife.

The scheme will cover the entire urban area consisting of 4041 statutory towns with initial focus on 500 Class I cities and it will be implemented in three phases as follows, viz. Phase-I (April 2015 – March 2017) to cover 100 Cities to be selected from States/UTs as per their willingness; Phase – II (April 2017 – March 2019) to cover additional 200 Cities and Phase-III (April 2019 – March 2022) to cover all other remaining Cities. However, there will be flexibility in covering number of cities in various phases and inclusion of additional cities may be considered by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation in case there is demand from States and cities and have capacity to include them in earlier phases. Credit linked subsidy component of the scheme would be implemented across the country in all statutory towns from the very beginning.

Dimension of the task at present is estimated at 2 crore. Exact number of houses, though, would depend on demand survey for which all States/Cities will undertake detailed demand assessment for assessing actual demand by integrating Aadhar number, Jan Dhan Yojana account numbers or any such identification of intended beneficiaries.

A Technology Sub-mission under the Mission would be set up to facilitate adoption of modern, innovative and green technologies and building material for faster and quality construction of houses. The Technology Sub-Mission will also facilitate preparation and adoption of layout designs and building plans suitable for various geo-climatic zones. It will also assist States/Cities in deploying disaster resistant and environment friendly technologies.

The Technology Sub-Mission will coordinate with various regulatory and administrative bodies for mainstreaming and up scaling deployment of modern construction technologies and material in place of conventional construction. The Technology Sub-Mission will also coordinate with other agencies working in green and energy efficient technologies, climate change etc.

The Technology Sub-Mission will also work on the following aspects: i) Design & Planning ii) Innovative technologies & materials iii) Green buildings using natural resources and iv) Earthquake and other disaster resistant technologies and designs.

In the spirit of cooperative federalism, the Mission will provide flexibility to States for choosing best options amongst four verticals of the Mission to meet the demand of housing in their states. The process of project formulation and approval in accordance with Mission Guidelines would be left to the States, so that projects can be formulated, approved and implemented faster. The Mission will provide technical and financial support in accordance to the Guidelines to the States to meet the challenge of urban housing.

The Mission will also compile best practices in terms of affordable housing policies of the States/UTs designs and technologies adopted by States and Cities with an objective to spread best practices across States and cities and foster cross learning. The Mission will also develop a virtual platform to obtain suggestions and inputs on house design, materials, technologies and other elements of urban housing.

4. World’s First Floating Wind Farm

Scotland is known for picturesque highlands and tartan-wearing highlanders, but now the country boasts the world’s first floating wind farm. The large turbines are floating in the North Sea, 15 miles off the coast of the town of Petershead.

The farm consists of five enormous wind turbines that stand about 830 feet tall (256 feet of that bobs beneath the water’s surface).

Dubbed the Hywind project, renewable energy advocates hope it can serve as a model for other regions that are capable of implementing the same technology.

Wind turbines have been constructed in water since the 1990s, but they can only be fastened to the ground in water depths of about 200 feet. The floating turbines in Scotland, however, are anchored at 255 feet, and they can be rigged at depths of over 2,600 feet.

Once upright and operating, cables then connect the turbines to the town’s energy grid. According to Statoil, the turbines are capable of powering 20,000 homes.

The concept of a floating turbine was hatched by energy engineers in 2001. A single prototype was created in 2009, and by 2015, the Scottish government officially provided funding for Statoil to begin working on the five wind turbines now standing in the North Sea ach turbine is capable of pumping 6 megawatts of energy into the grid, meaning the project can contribute 30 megawatts in total. When not used, all this power is stored in lithium batteries, which have a capacity of more than two million iPhones.

5. Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)

The Government of India has decided to launch a new sub-scheme named Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY) as part of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). The Self Help Groups under DAY-NRLM will operate road transport service in backward areas. This will help to provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services to connect remote villages with key services and amenities (such as access to markets, education and health) for the overall economic development of backward rural areas. This will also provide an additional avenue of livelihood for SHGs. The basic outline of AGEY was discussed in a meeting of State Transport Ministers of 13 States held in June 2016 at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and all the Transport Ministers had expressed their appreciation of this initiative.

The Community Investment Fund (CIF) provided to Community Based Organization (CBOs) under DAY-NRLM will be utilized to support the SHG members in this new livelihoods initiative. The beneficiary SHG member will be provided an interest free loan by the CBO from its Community Investment Fund upto Rs.6.50 lakh for purchase of the vehicle. Alternative, CBO will own the vehicle and lease it to an SHG member to operate the vehicle and pay lease rental to the CBO.

AGEY will be initially implemented in 250 Blocks in the country on pilot basis with each Block provided upto 6 vehicles to operate the transport services. During the current year implementation of the scheme has been so far approved for 52 Blocks in 8 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal with a total provision of Rs.16.06 Crore of which the Government of India share would be Rs.10.16 Crore. The balance funding would be provided by the respective States.

The Blocks will be selected by States from among the Blocks where NRLM is being implemented intensively and where mature CBOs are already functioning. Backwardness, lack of transportation links and sustainability of service would be the guiding factors in the selection of Blocks and routes.

The State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) will do a feasibility study and traffic survey in the selected blocks to identity the routes and the number and capacity of vehicles which can be operated on sustainable basis. The study will be conducted by technically sound organizations with expertise in transport network planning. The choice of vehicle could be either e-riksha, 3 wheeler or 4 wheeler within a cost ceiling of Rs.6.50 lakh.

The SRLMs will be co-ordinating with State Transport Department for issue of permit for the vehicle. The SHG member operating the vehicle shall ensure that all necessary legal and statutory requirement such as valid permit, road tax permit, valid insurance policy etc. are met.

The SHG member shall run the vehicle on approved routes at pre-determined frequency as jointly agreed between the CBO and the SHG operator based on financial viability and the need for transport link.

All vehicles under the scheme shall have a defined colour code and carry AGEY branding to ensure their identity and avoid diversion to other routes.

The State Rural Livelihood Mission will arrange capacity building for their staff at State, District and Block levels for operating the Scheme. The members of the CBO and the beneficiary SHG member shall also be provided adequate training in the Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) and other partner organizations.

6.Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier

Gerald R. Ford class (or Ford class, previously known as CVN-21 class) is a class of aircraft carrier being built to replace the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and eventually the United States Navy’s existing Nimitz-class carriers, beginning with the delivery of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). The new vessels have a hull similar to the Nimitz carriers, but introduce technologies since developed such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, as well as other design features intended to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs, including sailing with smaller crews

  • Advanced arresting gear. Automation, Allowing a crew of several hundred fewer than the Nimitz-class carrier. The updated RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile. An AN/SPY-3 X Band multifunction radar and an AN/SPY-4 S Band volume search radar. Designated together as Dual Band Radar (DBR), initially developed for the Zumwalt-lass destroyers. An Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) in place of traditional steam catapults for launching aircraft.
  • A new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor) for greater power generation. Stealth features to reduce radar cross-section. The ability to carry up to 90 aircraft, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, Grumman C-2 Greyhound, Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II, Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, and unmanned combat aerial vehicles such as the Northrop Grumman X-47B.
  • The US Navy aims to use modern equipment and extensive automation to reduce the crew size and the total cost of future aircraft carriers. The biggest visible difference from earlier super carriers will be the more aft location of the island (superstructure). Ships of the Gerald R. Ford class are intended to sustain 160 sorties per day for 30-plus days, with a surge capability of 270 sorties per day. Director of Operational Testing Michael Gilmore has criticized the assumptions used in these forecasts as unrealistic and has indicated sortie rates similar to the 120/240 per day of the Nimitz class would be acceptable.

7. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)

PMVVY is a Pension Scheme announced by the Government of India exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years. The Scheme can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this Scheme.

Following are the major benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY):

  • Scheme provides an assured return of 8% p.a. payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30% p.a. effective) for 10 years.
  • Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
  • The scheme is exempted from Service Tax/ GST.
  • On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, Purchase price along with final pension installment shall be payable.
  • Loan upto 75% of Purchase Price shall be allowed after 3 policy years (to meet the liquidity needs). Loan interest shall be recovered from the pension installments and loan to be recovered from claim proceeds.
  • The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98% of the Purchase Price shall be refunded.
  • On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the Purchase Price shall be paid to the beneficiary.
  • Minimum / Maximum Purchase Price and Pension Amount:
Mode of Pension Minimum Purchase Price Maximum Purchase Price Minimum Pension amount Maximum Pension amount
Yearly Rs. 1,44,578/- Rs. 7,22,892/- Rs. 12,000/- Rs. 60,000/-
Half-yearly Rs. 1,47,601/- Rs. 7,38,007/- Rs. 6,000/- Rs. 30,000/-
Quarterly Rs. 1,49,068/- Rs. 7,45,342/- Rs. 3,000/- Rs. 15,000/-
Monthly Rs. 1,50,000/- Rs. 7,50,000/- Rs. 1,000/- Rs. 5,000/-
  • The ceiling of maximum pension is for a family as a whole, the family will comprise of pensioner, his/her spouse and dependants.
  • The shortfall owing to the difference between the interest guaranteed and the actual interest earned and the expenses relating to administration shall be subsidized by the Government of India .

8. Paika Rebellion of Odisha

Pre-dating what has been popularly regarded as the fist war of independence in 1857, the Paika Bidroha (Paika Rebellion) of 1817 in Odisha briefly shook the foundations of British rule in the eastern part of India. Paikas were essentially the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war while taking up cultivation during times of peace. They unfurled the banner of rebellion against the British under the leadership of Baxi Jagandhu Bidyadhara as early as 1817 to throw off the British yoke.

Rulers of Khurda were traditionally the custodians of Jagannath Temple and ruled as the deputy of lord Jagannath on earth. They symbolised the political and cultural freedom of the people of Odisha. The British, having established their sway over Bengal Province and Madras Province to the north and south of Odisha, occupied it in 1803.The Gajapati King of Odisha Mukunda Deva-ll was a minor then and initial resistance by Jai Rajguru, the custodian of Mukunda Deva-II, was put down brutally and Jai Rajguru was torn apart alive. A few years later, it was the Paikas under Baxi Jagabandhu, the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King, who rose in rebellion, taking support of tribals and other sections of society. The rebellion started in March 1817 and spread quickly. Though Paikas played a larger role in the rebellion against the British, it was by no means a rebellion by a small group of people belonging to a particular class. The tribals of Ghumusar (part of present day Ganjam and Kandhmal Districts) and other sections of the population actively took part in it. In fact, the Paika Bidroha got the opportune moment to spread when 4OOtribals of Ghumsar entered Khurda protesting against the British rule. The Paikas attacked British symbols of power, setting ablaze police stations, administrative offices and the treasury during their march towards Khurda, from where the British fled. The Paikas were supported by the rajas of Kanika, Kujang, Nayagarh and Ghumusar and zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants. The rebellion quickly spread to Purl, Pipli Cuttack and other parts of the province. The British were initially taken aback and then tried to regain lost ground but faced stiff resistance from the rebelling Paikas. Many a battle ensued with some victories to the rebels, but the British finally managed to defeat them within three months.

Widespread suppression followed with many killed and imprisoned. Many more were tortured. Some rebels fought a guerilla war till 1819 but were captured and killed. Baxi Jagabandhu was finally arrested in 1825 and died in captivity in 1829. Though the Paika Bidroha enjoys a cult status in Odisha with children growing up with stories of the brave fight against the British, it has unfortunately received less attention at the national level than it should have got. While the reasons can be many for such scant attention to such a significant event of the history in India, it is heartening that the Government of India has decided to give the event its due recognition by commemorating its 200 anniversary in a befitting manner.

9.MRSAM

A Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) is jointly developed by DRDO and IAI of Israel for the Indian Air Force. The missile guided by a Radar system and on-board avionics successfully hit a Pilotless target aircraft.

Many Indian industries like BEL, L&T, BDL, TATA group of companies besides other private industries have contributed to the development of a number of subsystems which have been put into use in this flight test. The MRSAM system provides reliable air defence at medium ranges.

10. Proxima Centauri

Proxima Centauri (from Latin, meaning ‘nearest [star] of Centaurus), or Alpha Centauri C, is a red dwarf, a small low-mass star, about 4.25 light-years(1.30 pc)[9] from the Sun in the constellation of Centaurus It was discovered in 1915 by the Scottish astronomer Robert Innes, the Director of the Union Observatory in South Africa, and is the nearest-known star to the Sun.[15] With an apparent magnitude of 11.05, it is too faint to be seen with the naked eye. Proxima Centauri forms a third component of the Alpha Centauri trinary star system, currently with a separation of about 12,950 AU (1.94 trillion km) and an orbital period of 550,000 years. At present Proxima is 2.18° to the southwest of Alpha Centauri.

Astronomers have detected a massive stellar flare — an energetic explosion of radiation — from the closest star to our own Sun, Proxima Centauri,. This finding raises questions about the habitability of our Solar System’s nearest explanatory neighbor, Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri.

At peak luminosity it was 10 times brighter than our Sun’s largest flares when observed at similar wavelengths. The flare increased Proxima Centauri’s brightness by 1,000 times over 10 seconds. This was preceded by a smaller flare; taken together, the whole event lasted fewer than two minutes of the 10 hours.

Stellar flares happen when a shift in the star’s magnetic field accelerates electrons to speeds approaching that of light. The accelerated electrons interact with the highly charged plasma that makes up most of the star, causing an eruption that produces emission across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

 

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