National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 12th April 2019

A genetic method to empower conservation

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: A new genetic method developed by a team, including scientists from Bengaluru’s National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), hopes to make studying as well as and conserving wild species quicker, easier and cost-effective by deriving information from animal sources containing extremely low-quality DNA — including animal faeces and cooked wild meat.

More on the Topic:

  • The method, available for free and described in the study published in the international journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution , relies on identifying multiple, short portions of DNA segments in a single experiment (a ‘multiplex PCR’), followed by ‘next-generation sequencing’, in which multiple fragments of DNA can be decoded simultaneously, and several times, in an automated process.
  • The team tested their method on Caribbean queen conches (that are illegally harvested for meat in the Atlantic Ocean) and tigers, two “extremely different species that had strong conservation needs,” to “show how this approach could be used generally.”
  • Testing several hundred samples simultaneously and decoding up to 1,000 SNPs per sample would cost as low as $5 (less than Rs. 350).
  • The biggest advantage is that this would take just five days while older methods take at least a month.
  • While the method can be implemented in labs with access to more or less basic equipment, following a standard procedure would make it easy to share and compare the data, making monitoring populations across states or even countries easier.

About Genetics:

  • Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms. Gregor Mendel, a scientist and Augustinian friar, discovered genetics in the late 19th-century. Mendel studied “trait inheritance”, patterns in the way traits are handed down from parents to offspring.

Source:Hindu

Cloud server honeypot

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: Cybercriminals attempted attacks on a Mumbai Cloud server honeypot more than 678,000 times in a month, which was second to Ohio in the US that recorded more than 950,000 login attempts, among a total of 10 honeypots placed globally.

More on the Topic:

  • A honeypot is a system intended to mimic likely targets of cyberattackers for security researchers to monitor cybercriminal behaviour.
  • The honeypots were set-up in 10 of the most popular Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centres in the world.
  • Over five million attacks were attempted on the global network of honeypots, thus, demonstrating how cybercriminals are automatically scanning for weak open Cloud buckets.
  • With businesses across the globe increasingly adopting Cloud technology, the report revealed the extent to which businesses migrating to hybrid and all-Cloud platforms are at risk.
  • Continuous visibility of public Cloud infrastructure is vital for businesses to ensure compliance and to know what to protect.
  • However, multiple development teams within an organisation and an ever-changing, auto-scaling environment make this difficult for IT security.

Cloud Infrastructure:

  • Cloud infrastructure refers to the hardware and software components such as servers, storage, a network and virtualization software that are needed to support the computing requirements of a cloud computing model.
  • Cloud computing is the on demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet.

What is cloud computing? Exemplify the applications of the same.

Source: The Hindu

Solar e-waste

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: According to a study published recently, by 2050, India will likely stare at a pile of a new category of electronic waste, namely solar e-waste. Currently, India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell manufacturers to recycle or dispose waste from this sector.

More on the topic:

  • India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste volume is estimated to grow to 200,000 tonnes by 2030 and around 1.8 million tonnes by 2050.
  • India is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, buoyed by the government’s commitment to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022. So far, India has installed solar cells for about 28 GW and this is largely from imported solar PV cells.
  • Solar cell modules are made by processing sand to make silicon, casting silicon ingots, using wafers to create cells and then assembling them to make modules.
  • India’s domestic manufacturers are largely involved in assembling cells and modules.
  • These modules are 80% glass and aluminium, and non-hazardous. Other materials used, including polymers, metals, metallic compounds and alloys, and are classified as potentially hazardous.

Challenge in front of India:

  • India is poorly positioned to handle PV waste as it doesn’t yet have policy guidelines on the same.
  • A lack of a policy framework is coupled with the fact that even basic recycling facilities for laminated glass and e-waste are unavailable.
  • Despite the e-waste regulation being in place for over seven years, only less than 4% of estimated e-waste is recycled in the organised sector as per the latest estimates from the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • There is a need for robust policy and implementation guidelines for tackling the issue of solar e wastes.

Model Mains Question: What are the challenges faced by recycling industry of India? Suggest some measures to improve the recycling rate of wastes produced.

Source: The Hindu

State of World Population 2019 report

Topic: Important Reports

In News: According to State of World Population 2019 report,India’s population grew at an average annual rate of 1.2 per cent between 2010 and 2019 to 1.36 billion, more than double the annual growth rate of China.

More on the Topic:

  • According to the report, in India, total fertility rate per woman was 5.6 in 1969, dropping to 3.7 in 1994 and 3 in 2019.
  • India also recorded an improvement in life expectancy at birth. The life expectancy at birth in 1969 was 47 years, growing to 60 years in 1994 and 69 years in 2019.
  • Giving a snapshot of India’s population composition in 2019, the report said 27 per cent of the country’s population was in the age bracket of 0-14 years and 10-24 years each, while 67 per cent of the country’s population was in the 15-64 age bracket. Six per cent of the country’s population was of the age 65 and above.
  • Indicative of the improvement in the quality of India’s health care system, the report noted that Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in the country dropped from 488 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1994 to 174 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.

State of Women:

  • The findings, relating to women aged between 15-49 years, were published for the first time as part of United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFP) State of World Population 2019 report.
  • The report includes, for the first time, data on women’s ability to make decisions over three key areas: sexual intercourse with their partner, contraception use and health care.
  • According to the analysis, the absence of reproductive and sexual rights has a major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety, leaving them “unable to shape their own futures”.
  • Early marriage continues to present a major cultural obstacle to female empowerment and better reproductive rights.

Positive Outcomes:

  • Despite these concerns, the UNFPA report highlights that “untold millions” have enjoyed healthier and more productive lives in the 50 years since the agency was founded, thanks to pressure from civil society and governments to dramatically reduce unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths.
  • Highlighting positive changes in the last half-century, the report shows that in 1969, the average number of births per woman was 4.8, compared with 2.9 in 1994, and 2.5 today.

Source:The Hindu

UN award for 2 Bengal projects

Topic: Government Initiatives

In News: Begal government’s Utkarsh Bangla and Sabuj Sathi have won the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) awards under the United Nations.

More on the Topic:

  • Environment-friendly bicycles to school-going students in Classes IX to XII under Sabuj Sathi. Nearly 1 crore cycles have been distributed since the inception of the project.
  • It has drastically reduced the number of dropouts in schools, particularly in the rural areas and facilitated a major step towards women empowerment.
  • Under Utkarsh Bangla, skill development training is given to youths. Several centres have been opened and youths are being given training there. The trained youths are then absorbed in different industries.

Source:PIB

Railwire Wifi

Topic: Government Initiatives

In News: In a boost to the “Digital India” initiative, RailTel, a mini Ratna CPSU under the railway ministry, has provided free high-speed WiFi service to as many as 500 stations in just seven days with ‘RailWire’. RailWire WiFi by RailTel is now live at 1,500 railway stations across the country.

More on the Topic:

  • RailTel is one of the largest and fastest public WiFi networks in the world.
  • Passengers can access RailWire WiFi at multiple stations in over 27 states and union territories across the country. Over 80 lakh passengers use free high-speed Wi-Fi facility at 831 stations across the Indian Railways network.
  • RailWire focuses on pure-play broadband and VPN services. It offers content and application driven network and it aims to become a hub of local information and a tool for rendering communication, infotainment, education, health and community services to the railway passengers.
  • RailTel has also roped in Google as the technology partner for setting up a fast Wi-Fi network initially covering 400 stations for providing fast Wi-Fi to millions of passengers every day.

About Digital India:

  • Digital India is an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments.
  • It weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision so that each of them can be implemented as part of a larger goal.
  • Each individual element stands on its own, but is also part of the entire Government. Digital India is implemented by the entire Government and being coordinated by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY).

Source:Businessline

Pathalgadi Movement

Topic: Internal Security

In News: Pathalgadi movement was started by tribal groups to resist the plundering of tribal rights by the state and union governments.

More on the Topic:

  • Pathalgadiparticipants plant a stone order in the tribal villages of Jharkhand, which dismiss the authority of the central or the state governments on their villages.
  • Pathalgadis have their presence in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and parts of West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Pathalgadis call themselves the followers of Sati Pati cult of Gujarat, Sati refers to mother and Pati to father.
  • The cult claims that the tribals were given rights over rivers, forest land and forest produce by Queen Victoria.

Source: Hindu

 

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