National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 9th March 2019

Aravalli range


Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: The Supreme Court on Friday cautioned the Haryana government against doing “anything” to harm the ecologically fragile Aravalli range.

More on the Topic:

  • Aravalli is a range of mountains running in North West direction between Delhi and Palanpur in Gujarat.
  • It constitutes a vital corridor between Asola Bhatti Sanctuary in Delhi and Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.
  • Recent study spotted about a dozen well-marked gaps in the Aravallis where the forest cover has almost totally vanished.
  • The protective belt is now facing disintegration due to felling of trees to make room for urbanisation and mining projects.
  • The area under human settlements on these hills has expanded from 247 sq km in 1980 to 638 sq km in 2016.
  • Industries, which were almost non-existent in 1980, now occupy about 46 sq km.

Impacts of degrading Aravallis:

  • Loss of vegetative cover will lead to the natural drifting of Thar Desert towards the northwest.
  • Increased desertification of the National Capital Region (NCR) and its adjoining areas can lead to more environmental hazards.
  • These include more dust in the air, greater unpredictability of climate, meagre recharging of groundwater, and drying up of several natural water bodies.
  • The area under perennial water courses in this region has contracted by nearly one-third and that under seasonal water flows by an even more alarming 97 per cent.
  • Groundwater resources of urban hub of Gurugram are under severe strain.

Source: The Hindu

NASA captures images of supersonic shockwaves

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: NASA has captured unprecedented photos of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft, part of its research into developing planes that can fly faster than sound without thunderous “sonic booms”.

More on the Topic

  • When an aircraft crosses that threshold — around 1,225 km per hour at sea level — it produces waves from the pressure it puts on the air around it, which merge to cause the ear-splitting sound.
  • Sonic booms can be a major nuisance, capable of not just startling people on the ground but also causing damage — like shattered windows — and this has led to strong restrictions on supersonic flight over land in jurisdictions like the United States.

What is sub sonic, Supersonic and Hypersonic speed:

  • The ratio of the speed of the aircraft to the speed of sound in the gas(air) determines the magnitude of many of the compressibility effects. Because of the importance of this speed ratio, aerodynamicists have designated it with a special parameter called the Mach number.
  • The subsonic speed range is that range of speeds within all of the airflow over an aircraft is less than Mach 1.
  • It is commonly accepted that the supersonic speed range starts at a free stream speed greater than Mach 1.3.
  • In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of Mach 5 and above.

Source: The Hindu

World Health Organization (WHO)

Topic: International Institutions

In News: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced sweeping reforms to modernize and strengthen the organization.

More on the topic:

  • It would align its processes and structures with the triple-billion targets:
  • One billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage
  • One billion more people better protected from health emergencies
  • One billion more people enjoying better health and well-being
  • Its new structure and operating model would also align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • Among 17 SDGs set by the UN in 2015, at 3 was ‘Good Health and Well-being’.

WHO announced 4 new structures:

  • A division of the chief scientist
  • Soumya Swaminathan will be the first to hold the Chief Scientist position.She was moved from the position of Deputy Director-General of WHO
  • A department of digital health
  • A division of data
  • A division of emergency preparedness

Source: The Hindu

Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas initiatives to empower women

Topic: Social Justice

In News: Empowerment of women is closely linked with the country’s energy economy and this goal is driving investments in the entire value chain.  As a measure towards empowerment of poor women in the country who are bereft of access to clean cooking gas, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in the form of a social movement, enabling social change and irreversible empowerment of women.

More On the Topic:

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala yojana is empowering women to lead smoke-free lives, leading to a healthier lifestyle, saving them time by greatly reducing drudgery and enabling them to pursue other income enhancement and socially rewarding pursuits.
  • To take this initiative forward, Pradhan Mantri LPG panchayats as peer learning platforms, are providing support, catalysing behaviour changes in Ujjawala beneficiaries and also encouraging safe and sustainable use of LPG. As many as 87,876 LPG panchayats have been conducted across the country.
  • Ujjwala Didi, a CSR handholding initiative, aims at creating a force of 10,000 grassroot educators who can take the three messages till the last mile, viz.
  • Clean Cooking Fuel is to be universally available
  • Clean Cooking fuel is affordable
  •  LPG is safe to use and insured.
  • Ujjwala Didis will facilitate refill, address any fear around LPG safety, help in resolving any grievances and facilitate new connections. Thus these empowered women will contribute to overall women empowerment in their panchayats. Ujjwala Didis are a living testimony of the highest possibilities of inclusive development.
  • World’s highest Indane LPG bottling plant situated at 11,800 ft. in Phey Village of Ladakh district, it is women power that is playing a key role in the running of the plant. The plant is operated by 11 courageous Indian Oil women in very harsh weather conditions.
  • In an endeavour to provide better sanitation coverage and bridge gender disparity, the Ministry has proactively undertaken an action plan to provide separate toilet facilities at all retail outlets of Oil Marketing Companies. More than 37,000 ROs are already having separate toilet facilities for men and women.
  • Under the Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan, to reduce the drop-out rate among girl students due to non-availability of separate toilet facilities, Oil CPSEs/JVs have constructed more than 20,187 school toilets. These toilets are used by more than 5 lakh girl students. More than 95% of the toilets have been constructed in rural areas.
  • In an effort towards creating awareness on Menstrual Hygiene, CPSEs under Ministry of Petroleum, have taken initiatives towards installing sanitarily napkin vending machines and incinerators in various schools across India.
  • Recognizing the importance of women and their contribution to society, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas reaffirms its commitment for ‘economic empowerment’, ‘self-reliance’ and ‘social equality’ of women across the country.

Source:The Hindu

MRP of 390 Anti-Cancer Non-Scheduled Medicines reduced up to 87%


Topic: Important Institutions in News

In News: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, today put out list of 390 anti-cancer non-scheduled medicines with MRP reduction up to 87%.

More on the Topic:

  • The average out of pocket expenditure for cancer patients is 2.5 times that for other diseases.This move is expected to benefit 22 lakh cancer patients in the countryand would result in annual savings of approx. Rs. 800 crores to the consumers.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority:

  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority(NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs,It was formed on 29 August 1997.
  • NPPA is an independent body under Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  • The NPPA regularly publishes lists of medicines and their maximum ceiling prices.
  • The calculation of prices cap for essential drugs is based on simple average of all medicines in particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1%.
  • Medicines that are not under price control, manufacturers are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10% annually.

Source: The Hindu

GI Website & Tutorial Video on IPR


Topic: Intellectual Property Rights

In News: Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, launched a tutorial video on “Intellectual Property Rights” for school students and the GI website in New Delhi.

More on the Topic:

  • The Geographical Indications (GI) of India website showcases Indian GIs products, classified state wise as well as product category wise.
  • The website has specific and comprehensive details of geographical area, description of product, uniqueness, history, product process/ processing in addition to enlisting GI authorized users.
  • It will increase the visibility and marketability of GIs of India and hence help in their commercialization.
  • The 20-minute tutorial video has been created by the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) in collaboration with Qualcomm. The video explains the fundamentals of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) such as Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks.
  • ‘IP Nani’, India’s first Intellectual Property (IP) Mascot,features in a series of short animated videos, to spread awareness about the importance of IPRs amongst children.
  • The tutorial video can be used in schools without any external intervention from teachers or experts and will aid in reaching a large number of schools and students, thereby overcoming issues of bandwidth and limited resources.


  • CIPAM, DPIIT, has been actively involved in many IPR related initiatives, including a nation-wide IPR awareness campaign drive in the country.
  • Training sessions have been conducted in over 300 schools till now, reaching over 12,000 students. These sessions involved the use of interactive tools in the form of presentations, creatively illustrated posters and pamphlets, so as to teach the younger generation about recognizing their own IP as well as respecting others’ IP. Content on IPR has also been included in the NCERT curriculum of Commerce for class XII.

Model Mains Question: The government has brought out a National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy to promote the IP regime and to encourage creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in India. Analyze the National IPR policy and the measures through which it is going to create an ecosystem for IP rights protection?

Source: The Hindu

IBBI in cooperation deal with IFC

Topic: Indian Economy

In News: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has signed a cooperation agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

More on the Topic:

  • The deal will enable IFC to assist IBBI in further building the capacity of insolvency professionals and insolvency professional agencies for the purpose of the bankruptcy code.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India:

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India.
  • It was established on 1 October 2016 and given statutory powers through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which was passed by Lok Sabha
  • It covers Individuals,Companies,Limited Liability Partnerships and Partnership firms. The new code will speed up the resolution process for stressed assets in the country.
  • It attempts to simplify the process of insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings.It handles the cases using two tribunals like NCLT(National company law tribunal) and Debt recovery tribunal.

International Finance Corporation:

  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset-management services to encourage private-sector development in developing countries.
  • The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.. It was established in 1956, as the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, to advance economic development by investing in for-profit and commercial projects for poverty reduction and promoting development.
  • The IFC’s stated aim is to create opportunities for people to escape poverty and achieve better living standards by mobilizing financial resources for private enterprise, promoting accessible and competitive markets, supporting businesses and other private-sector entities, and creating jobs and delivering necessary services to those who are poverty stricken or otherwise vulnerable.

Source: The Hindu

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