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

Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

1. The largest volcanic region on Earth in west Antarctica.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Britain found a staggering 91 previously unknown volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered over the previous century of exploring the region.

These newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 metres, with the highest almost as tall as Switzerland’s 3,970 metres Eiger mountain.

These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system- which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.

According to geologists, this huge region is likely to dwarf east Africa’s volcanic ridge- currently rated as the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

However, the activity of this range could have worrying consequences, glacier expert Robert Bingham was quoted as saying to the Guardian.

If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets.
Anything that causes the melting of ice, which an eruption certainly would, is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.

The Edinburgh volcano survey, reported in the Geological Society’s special publications series, involved studying the underside of the west Antarctica ice sheet for hidden peaks of basalt rock similar to those produced by the region’s other volcanoes.

Presently, volcanism is seen in regions, including Iceland and Alaska, that have recently lost their glacier covering. The same could happen in west Antarctica, where significant warming in the region caused by climate change has begun to affect its ice sheets.

If they are reduced significantly, this could release pressure on the volcanoes that lie below and lead to eruptions that could further destabilise the ice sheets and enhance sea level rises that are already affecting our oceans, Bingham noted.

2. GeMSamvad

This MoU between GeM Government eMarketplace (GeM) and CII is aimed at establishing GeM Samvaad- a participative and collaborative approach with the industry for promoting Indian industry and entrepreneurship. As part of this initiative GeM & the Indian industry shall work together to:
 Create GeM related awareness and onboard industry members from across the country.
 Create a GeM-Industry Forum for collaboration with the Indian Industry for, seeking inputs on the technical specifications of products and SLAs of services to be procured by the Government agencies, improving the quality of products/services procured especially from the MSMEs, organize annual Public Procurement Convention of all stakeholders and set up GeM Resource Centres at CII Regional Offices

3. Tapi Gas Pipeline

He volume of gas likely to be supplied to India is 38 MMSCMD (Million Metric Standard Cubic Metre per Day) for a period of 30 years.

Two Government level agreements have been signed for TAPI project namely, Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement and Inter Governmental Agreement among the four member countries.

GAIL has signed a bilateral GSPA with Turkmengas for sourcing 38 MMSCMD of natural gas for 30 years which would be transported to India through TAPI Pipeline. The investment in the pipeline project shall be made by all the project proponents, including the Consortium Leader. However, the investment structure would be finalized only after the selection of a Consortium Leader.

The launch of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project marks the first step towards fulfilling the vision of an economically integrated region stretching from the 12

4. Malpelo Plate

The Malpelo Plate is a small tectonic plate (a microplate) located off the coasts west of Ecuador and Colombia and south of Panama. It is the 57th plate to be identified. It is named after Malpelo Island, the only emerged part of the plate. It is bounded on the west by the Cocos Plate, on the south by the Nazca Plate, on the east by the North Andes Plate, and on the north by the Coiba Plate. This microplate was previously assumed to be part of the Nazca Plate.
The Malpelo Plate was identified by a non-closure of the Nazca-Cocos-Pacific plate motion circuit, the existence of the plate has been hypothesised before.The formation of the oceanic crust of the plate has been estimated to be since the Middle Miocene (14.7 Ma).

The researchers used a Columbia University database of multibeam sonar soundings west of Ecuador and Colombia to identify a diffuse plate boundary that runs from the Panama Transform Fault eastward to where the boundary intersects a deep oceanic trench just offshore of the South American coast, north of the Galapagos Islands.

5. Raising Extra Budgetary Resources upto Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund during the year 2017-18

A large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds. During 2016-17, 99 ongoing projects under PMKSY- AIBP were identified for completion in phases by December-2019. To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of these projects, the Union Finance Minister, during his Budget speech 2016-17, announced creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore for funding of Central and State share for the identified ongoing projects under PMKSY (AIBP and CAD).

To make the loan from NABARD attractive for states, it was decided that the rate of interest may be kept around 6% by providing requisite cost free funds to NABARD every year during 2016-17 to 2019-20 on which interest cost would be borne by Govt. of India.

During the year 2016-17, NABARD disbursed aggregate amount of Rs. 9086.02 crore under LTIF, out of which Rs. 2414.16 crore was released for Polavaram project (without EBR component) and balance Rs. 6671.86 crore was released to identified projects using EBR. Further, an amount of Rs. 924.9 crore was disbursed as Central Assistance (CA) through budgetary provision. During 2016-17, overall an amount of Rs 2187 crore was raised by NABARD in the form of Government of India fully serviced bond as EBR.

During 2017-18, it is estimated that an amount of Rs 29,000 Crore may be required through LTIF, for which EBR of Rs 9020 cr would be required.

As per the status reported by the states and Central Water Commission during various review meeting, 18 projects have been completed/almost completed. Irrigation potential utilization is expected to be more than 14 lakh hectares during 2016-17 from all the 99 projects. During 2017-18, 33 more projects are likely to be completed. The completion of the identified irrigation projects will generate immediate wage and other employment opportunities in good measure during the construction phase. More importantly, on completion of the projects, the utilization of irrigation potential of about 76 lakh hectares will transform the agriculture scenario of the region resulting in generation of substantially more employment opportunities through increase in cropping intensity, change in cropping pattern, agro processing and other ancillary activities.

6. Drawida polydiverticulata and Drawida thomasi.

Two new primitive species of earthworm were discovered by a team of Indian researchers in the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala.

The two new species, named Drawida polydiverticulata and Drawida thomasi.

The Western Ghats mountains lie at the southwestern continental margin of Peninsular India and extend all the way from Gujarat to Kerala.

They belong to the primitive family Moniligastridae.
The new earthworms are distinguished by a set of characters.

For one of them – Drawida polydiverticulata – there were peculiar features which determined its species name (polydiverticulata). It turned out that its multiple lobes, also called diverticulums, an organ located in the front of its body, are unique amongst the members of the genus.

This specie was found to be widespread in the protected shola grasslands of the Munnar region, including Eravikulam National Park, Pampadun Shola National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

The second new earthworm, Drawida thomasi, was collected at the Kozhippara Waterfalls near Kakkadampoyil, at the border between Malappuram and Kozhikode.

The species name (thomasi) is a tribute to Prof. (Dr) AP Thomas, the Director of the Advanced Centre of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development (ACESSD), Mahatma Gandhi University, “who initiated the taxonomical studies on the earthworms in Kerala after being at a standstill for almost a century.”

In addition to the new species, the scientists also report the occurrence of five species of the same genus that have not previously been recorded from the state.

There are confirmed 73 species of the genus Drawida to be living in the Indian subcontinent.
However, the greatest concentration (43 species) is found in the Western Ghats.

At present, there are about 200 species known in the genus Drawida. Their habitats are spread across India throughout the Indochina region to southeastern Asia and up to the north in Japan.

7. The Digital Police Portal under CCTNS project

The Ministry of Home Affairs will undertake steps to integrate the various organs of the Criminal Justice System such as the Police, Courts, Prisons, Prosecution, Forensic Laboratories, Finger Prints and Juvenile Homes with the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) database. Launching the Digital Police Portal under the CCTNS project here today, he said this Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) will be a useful resource for all stakeholders including the policy makers.

The Digital Police Portal will enable citizens to register FIRs online and the portal will initially offer seven Public Delivery Services in 34 States & UTs, like Person and Address Verification e.g. of employees, tenants, nurses etc, permission for hosting Public Events, Lost & Found Articles and Vehicle theft etc. Besides, the portal will enable restricted access to law enforcement agencies on topics such as Antecedent Verification and make assessment of FIRs.

At present out of the 15,398 Police Stations under the CCTNS project, 14,284 Police Stations are using CCTNS software. Out of these 14,284 Police Stations, 100% FIRs are being generated under this software in 13,775 Police Stations. Out of 36 States/UTs, 35 States/UTs are sharing CCTNS database containing seven crore records that includes 2.5 crore FIRs, he added. Shri Rajnath Singh said the MHA has released Rs.1,450 crores, out of which Rs. 1,086 crores has been spent by States/UTs.

The CCTNS portal will provide investigator the complete record history of any criminal from anywhere across the country. The software offers Google-type Advance Search engine and analytical reports, the portal offers 11 kinds of search and 44 types of reports. Recently, the software was used to trace few mentally challenged women from Tamil Nadu in Uttarakhand and reunited with their families, he added.

8. ‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’

‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ Programme, an initiative of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan to prepare a physical Health and Fitness Profile Card for more than 12 lakhs of Kendriya Vidyalaya students was launched in Kochi.. Ensuring quality education for all is also the aim of Government. Kendriya Vidyalayas in Kerala shows more quality than the Kendriya Vidyalayas of all other states. A system to involve children, a part of household chores is needed, Minister opined.

Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme will provide a comprehensive and inclusive report card for children covering all age groups and children of different abilities. Making students, teachers and parents aware about the importance of good health and fitness and encouraging 60 minutes of play each day is an objective of the programme. Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme also intends to imbibe values of Olympics and Paralympics amongst students. Bring back the childhood amongst children and make physical activity and recreational games an integral part of learning process , Motivating potentially outstanding performers in various games and sports of excellence, using technology for data capture and analytics, and giving access to schools, parents and teachers are also the objectives of the programmes.

9. India’s Exclusive Rights to Explore Polymetallic Nodules from Central Indian Ocean Seabed Basin Extended by Five Years.

Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese nodules, are rock concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganesehydroxides around a core. The core may be microscopically small and is sometimes completely transformed into manganese minerals by crystallization

India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) have been extended by five years. These rights are over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules. The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential is 380 million tonnes, containing 4.7 million tonnes of nickel, 4.29 million tonnes of copper and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt and 92.59 million tonnes of manganese. This has been approved unanimously in the 23rd session of International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded on August 18, 2017 at Kingston, Jamaica.

India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor in 1987 and was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules. India is one among the top 8-countries/ contractors and is implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules through Ministry of Earth Sciences. This includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy, in which significant contributions have been made.

While, the extraction of metals from the polymetallic nodules lying at the deep ocean floor is not yet found to be economically viable at this stage, an area of about 7860 square km has been identified in the CIOB for the First Generation Mine Site on the basis of detailed surveys and analysis. Environmental studies for mining of deep-sea polymetallic nodules were also carried out to evaluate the possible impacts of mining on deep-sea environment.

A Remotely Operable Submersible (ROSUB 6000), capable of operating at 6000 m water depth was also developed and tested successfully at a depth of 5289 m. A remotely operable in-situ soil testing equipment was also developed for obtaining detailed geotechnical properties of the mining area at CIOB and tested successfully at 5462 m water depth.

A mining system is under development which has been tested for 500m water depth. Metallurgical process routes for extracting copper, nickel and cobalt from polymetallic nodules have been developed and tested in a demonstration pilot plant set up on semi-continuous basis at Hindustan Zinc Limited, Udaipur with a capacity to process 500 kg nodules per day.

International Seabed Authority (ISA) is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. India actively contributes to the work of International Seabed Authority. Last year, India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA. India’s nominees on Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee of the ISA were also elected last year.

10. Financial Stability and Development Councul (FSDC)

The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) has been constituted vide GOI notification dated 30th December, 2010. The Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and its members are Governor, Reserve Bank of India; Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Secretary, Department of Financial Services; Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance; Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India; Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.

The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates. No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.

The Council and its Sub-Committee (chaired by Governor, Reserve Bank of India) deliberate on agenda items proposed by any of the members of the Council which broadly include matters relating to financial stability, inter-regulatory coordination, and financial sector development. The Council/Sub-committee deliberates on these issues and suggests taking appropriate steps, as required.

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