Mains Test Series

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Trump-Kim Meet ends with promise


  1. At the recent Singapore Summit, USA and North Korea has signed a joint statement

Important facts:

  1. Key highlights of the joint statement:
  • Commitment to establish U.S.–DPRK relations
  • USA-DPRK collective efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula
  • Reaffirming the Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK has committed to working towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  • Recovering remains of the prisoners of war and those missing in action including the immediate repatriation of those already identified
  1. Steps to be taken for Denuclearization:

Joint statement has mentioned steps to be taken by North Korea for denuclearization:

  • Dismantle and remove nuclear weapons from the country
  • Halt uranium enrichment- According to a 2014 Rand report, North Korea has 5 nuclear enrichment sites
  • Shut down nuclear test sites- Recently, North Korea closed its nuclear test site at Mount Mantap

  • End fuel production for hydrogen bomb- two suspected sites: Yongbyon and near Hamhung
  • Destroy germ weapons: Eliminate anthrax and other deadly biological weapons
  • Destroy chemical weapons: Eliminate sarin, VX and other lethal agents
  • Limit missile programme- Eliminate the long-range threat to the U.S. and mid-range missile threat to Japan and South Korea
  • However, no deadline has been mentioned
  1. US-South Korea joint Exercises:
  • At present, 28,500 US Troops are stationed in South Korea. This is to restrain a possible North Korean invasion
  • Since the 1970s, US-South Korea have held a major military exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian
  • Also conducted operation Foal Eagle (field-training exercise) and Operation Key Resolve (command post exercise)
  1. Trump’s Statement
  • Announced that US would suspend military exercises with South Korea
  • The US to provide security guarantees to North Korea in exchange of commitment towards complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula
  • Sanctions on North Korea to continue at present.



RBI blames PNB board for fraud


  1. In written reply to parliamentary standing committee of finance, RBI blames PNB board of directors for nirav modi fraud.

Important facts:

  1. RBI has  pointed out that Nirav Modi loan allocation is the failure of “three lines of defence” of banking system.
  2. Three lines of defence
  • First the officer sanctioning the loan
  • Second is at the managerial level
  • Third is the internal audit
  1. RBI said that Public sector bank are corporation and not a banking company which do not directly come under the ambit of banking regulation act 1949.
  2. The RBI reported that all financial institutions were warned about dealing with Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) procedure but it was not followed by PNB board.
  3. The RBI also accused PNB for submitting a factually incorrect compliance report with regards to LOUs.
  4. The RBI has seek for more power to monitor Public sector bank which include:
  • Power for the removal and appointment of the CMD
  • For Grant of licence and impose conditions.
  • Approve appointment and re appointment or termination of appointment of chairman, managing director and         Chief Executive officer.
  • To supersede the board of director.
  • For making application for winding up of bank.
  • Sanction scheme of voluntary amalgamation.

Age well: attitudes matter in a greying world


  1. WHO and Orb Media research about the old population and its various implications.

Important Facts:

  1. World Health Organization finding says that 60% of people across 57 countries had negative views of old age.
  • According to population trends by 2050 nearly one out of five people in the world will be over 65.
  • Older people are often viewed as less competent and less able than younger people.
  • Older people are considered a burden on society and their families rather than being recognized for their valuable knowledge, wisdom and experience.
  1. The Orb media found low levels of respect for the elderly. It research for older people in 101 countries.
  • There is strong connection between how we view old age and how well the people age
  • The countries with low levels of respect for the elderly are at risk of mental and physical health and possess higher levels of poverty compared with others country.
  • Pakistan scored the highest in terms of respect for older people.
  • Respect for older people is a long-standing tradition in Pakistan. This attitude towards ageing is a much healthier embrace of the ageing.
  1. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations and others:
  • Older people in countries with high levels of respect for the elderly report better mental and physical well-being compared with other groups in their countries
  1. Japan Status:
  • Japan has world’s longest lifespans and low birth rates
  • Japanese people are starting to realize that elderly people need support
  1. In Brazil old age has become associated with incapacity.
  2. Countries everywhere outside Africa are rapidly growing older.
  3. Broader Implications of Attitude change
  • A shift in attitude of people could improve a lot about old age populations.
  • The countries with positive attitude towards old age report lower rates of poverty.
  • Individuals with a positive attitude towards old age are likely to live longer and better health than those with a negative attitude.
  • Younger populations will have to care for older populations with increasingly expensive health care needs.
  • Positive attitude people are less likely to be depressed or anxious, they show increased well-being
  • Positive attitude people recover more quickly from disability. They also are less likely to develop dementia and the markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The result from Germany, Australia and Americans have shown that people with positive views on ageing lived 7.5 years longer than those with negative views.
  • Some research shows that increasing meaningful contact between young and older people can break down negative stereotypes.


A Plastic Charter


Researcher Meghna Shenoy highlights the issues with plastic waste management in India

Important Analysis:

Steps taken to control plastic waste:

  1. Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016

Calls for a ban on plastic bags below a 50-micron thickness

Phasing out (within 2 years) of manufacture and sale of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic (example: chips packets)

Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) – Responsibility of collection of used plastics and multilayered plastics entrusted upon producers, importers and brand owners

  1. More than 20 states have announced a ban on plastic bags
  2. Bengaluru has announced a complete ban on manufacture, supply, sale and use of thermocols and plastic bags irrespective of size. (Exception: plastic for export, packaging of forest products, milk packets and use in hospitals)
  3. Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016: calls for separation of waste (into dry and wet) at the source itself
  4. Issues:
  • A CPCB Report highlights banning has not been effective. Lack of citizen awareness and poor implementation of rules are primary reasons.
  • Economic benefit from the recycling of plastic not reaped. This is because plastic waste is not properly separated at the source. Recyclability of plastic decreases when mixed with organic or sanitary matter


According to CPCB report, Indian generates 16 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. India can earn a revenue of Rs. 5600 crore annually by selling this waste at the global average rate of 50cent/kg

  • The issue with EPR: Indian companies do not have a plan for waste collection system to be done through own distribution channel or local bodies. The reason cited is complex nature of plastic waste: ubiquitous and not possible for the concerned company to collect its packages only.
  1. Suggestions:
  • Citizen awareness
  • Mandatory waste segregation
  • Effective implementation of rules; collection of fines
  • Companies to be made accountable for their social and environmental responsibilities
  • Collective implementation of EPR- Zones can be demarcated and companies together manage wastes in their designated zones. This is also economical as it reduces collection, transportation and recycling costs.

Example: In Switzerland, a similar strategy was adopted to recycle thermocol used in insulating buildings

  • Innovative means to recycle and reap an economic benefit.

Example:  A Canadian company has plastic collection centres, where waste can be exchanged for many things (e.g. for medical insurance, cooking fuel)

  • Investment in recycling infrastructures
  • Reduction and gradually phasing out plastic consumption


When Artificial Intelligence goes psycho


  1. Recently, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has created an artificial intelligence (AI) system named “Norman”.

Important facts:

  1. Norman is the first AI to show psychopathic tendencies
  2. The AI has been named after Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
  3. The aim behind creating Norman was to explain the potential dangers of an AI when the data-set used to train the model is biased.
  4. AI bots are trained through machine learning methods where AI computer system is fed with a particular data-set.
  5. In case of Norman, violent image captions from Redditwere used as the dataset
  6. Then Norman was compared to AI which was not exposed to such violent images.
  7. The two were differentiated on the basis of Rorschach inkblot tests- a personality test
  8. Across the inkblot tests, Norman had shown negative tendencies as compared to other AIs


ISRO offers battery technology to firms


  1. Recently, the ISRO has issued RFQ for technology-transfer of the lithium-ion cell to Indian industries.

Important facts:

  1. The transfer of technology to competent Indian industries will take place on a non-exclusive basis for use in automobiles for a one-time fee of Rs 1 crore.
  2. Li-ion batteries have large applications in consumer goods
  3. It is at present imported mainly from China, South Korea and Taiwan
  4. The initiative is expected to accelerate the development of indigenous electric vehicle industry
  • Note: India aims to achieve 100% electronic vehicles by 2030
  1. Advantages of Lithium-ion Batteries:
  • High energy density- Lithium is highly reactive and its atomic bonds can store huge amount of energy
  • Better charge efficient than other alternatives
  • Lower self-discharge rate than other alternatives
  • Low maintenance- can handle several charge-discharge cycles


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