ForumIAS: Facts in News (October 15th – 21th)

Facts in news is published on a weekly basis that consists a gist of all crucial news articles from ‘The Hindu’ that may bear relevance to Civil Services Preparation.

Here is the Summary of all current happenings from around the world for the third week of October.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

Bills, Programs, Policies, Schemes, orders, Judgment 
Never really lost with an AadhaarContext
• Identities of 32 patients whose names and addresses had remained unknown, became accessible through aadhar.
Why in the news?
• Though no government order stipulates that the mentally ill should have an Aadhaar card, efforts by the Government Mental Health Centre, Kuthiravattom, to enrol the inmates fetched an unexpected bonanza.
• For these 32, Aadhaar came as a life-saver as the hospital finally got the means to locate their kin, using the information about their address that the patients were unable to provide.
SC to hear plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phonesContext
• The Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the government move to link bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar numbers, saying it violates the fundamental right to privacy and equates citizens, including the elderly, women and students, with money launderers.
Why in news?
• The petition filed by activist Dr. Kalyani Menon Sen has challenged Rule 2(b) of the Prevention of Moneylaundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017.
• It makes mandatory submission of Aadhaar number for individual clients, companies, partnership firms and trusts for opening of bank accounts, maintaining existing bank accounts, making financial transactions of and above ₹50,000 and crediting foreign remittance into ‘small accounts’.
• Existing bank account holders have been directed to furnish Aadhaar numbers by December 31, 2017.
International Issues
India acts against bottom trawlingContext
• Joint Working Group outlines initiatives in the Palk Bay area; need for permanent solution reiterated.
Why in the news?
• India informed Sri Lanka that it has taken measures to stop bottom trawling by its fishermen in the waters near the Sri Lankan coastline.
• During a weekend meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) in Delhi, officials expressed satisfaction over the release of Indian fishermen by Colombo, and reiterated the need to bring the rest of them back to India.
New initiatives
Recent initiatives taken by the Government of India include:
• the launch of a programmeon diversification of bottom trawlers into deep-sea fishing vessels for tuna long lining under the Blue Revolution Scheme,
• construction of Mookaiyur and
• Poompuhar fishing harbours, and
• capacity-building programmes for fishermen of the Palk Bay area in deep sea tuna long lining.
• Besides, fresh registration for bottom trawlers in the Palk Bay area has been banned by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
India plans a riposte to slavery reportContext
• India to pressure the International LabourOrganisation (ILO) to distance itself from Australian NGO’s survey, which can potentially harm India’s image.
The International LabourOrganisation (ILO)
• The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 MEMBER States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
NRIs can soon vote by proxy: SushmaContext
• Soon non-resident Indians (NRIs) would be able to proxy-vote in elections in the country as the government is set to amend the Representation of the People Act.
Why in news?
• Under the present law, NRIs registered in India as voters had to fly to the country during an election to cast their vote, but with the amendment, they could just issue an authorization letter to family members or relatives to vote on their behalf.
N. Korea primes missile launch ahead of U.S.-South drillContext
• North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of an upcoming joint naval drill by the U.S. and South Korea.
Why in news?
• A U.S. aircraft carrier would lead the drill in the coming week, a fresh show of force against North Korea as tensions soar over the hermit state’s weapons programme.
• The move will likely rile Pyongyang, which has previously responded angrily to joint exercises.
China to lead Asia in charging EVs’Context
• Government-led programme easing investments in charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Why in news?
• China is poised to become the first country outside Europe and the U.S. to roll out a wide charging network for electric vehicles, with heavy ongoing investments in the infrastructure under its government-led programme.
• Leading automakers and technology companies such as Tesla are preparing to ramp up electric vehicle (EV) production over the next few years, making availability of batteries and charging infrastructure a key element to scale up e-mobility.
Out of UNESCOContext
• The U.S.’s decision to quit UNESCO is an attempt to reassert geopolitical influence in West Asia.
• The U.S. withdrawal will become effective as of the end of December 2018.
Why did US decided to quit UNESCO?
• The key issue, as with many US-UN disputes, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
• UNESCO declared the ancient and hotly contested core of Hebron, a city in the southern part of the occupied Palestinian territories, as a Palestinian world heritage site
• In 2015, UNESCO adopted a resolution that criticized Israel for mishandling heritage sites in Jerusalem and condemned Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against freedom of worship.
U.S. ploy against Iran: envoyContext
• Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari accuses the U.S. of trying to ensure that India reduced oil imports from his country.
Some facts
• India has cut its oil imports from Iran by approximately 20% in 2017, though its global imports have risen by 5.4%. to “diversify” its imports so as to get more competitive rates.
• In June 2016, India committed to invest $500 million, including $85 million in developing two container berths and three multi-cargo berths at the Chabahar port, as well as about $1.6 billion to build the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line, which will facilitate trade to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s President visits IndiaContext
• Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani will visit India on October 24.
Why in news?
• The visit by President Ghani comes within days of a visit to Kabul by National Security Adviser AjitDoval and recent Taliban attack on the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar province that killed more than 50 security personnel.
• It was agreed to further strengthen strategic dialogue and consultations for achieving shared objectives.
• Both the nations emphasized that bilateral and sincere regional cooperation is important for peace, security and stability in the region.
Purpose of upcoming visit:
• The visits will provide India opportunity to hold talks on crucial regional and security-related issues.
• Mr. Ghani’s visit, which is likely to last for half-a-day, is significant as it comes two-months after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his government’s new Afghanistan policy for which he has urged India to do more.
Unravelling of the Iran dealContext
• U.S. President Donald Trump recently refused to certify the Iranian nuclear agreement with Iran and six other major world powers.
What is the significance of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)?
• The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council Germany and the European Union.
What are the Major provisions of the agreement?
• Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium,
• Cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%
• Reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.
• For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%.
• To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.
U.S. starts anti-dumping probe into PTFE resin from IndiaContext:
• The U.S. has initiated anti-dumping duty investigations against import of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resin from India and China.
Why the step has been taken?
• Anti-dumping measures are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry.
• They are not a measure to restrict imports or cause an unjustified increase in cost of products.
National Issues
Will work with Nitish for Bihar’s upliftContext
• PM Narendra Modi promised that the Centre would work shoulder to shoulder with him for the development of Bihar on his recent visit to Bihar.
Why in the news?
• PM shared the stage with Mr. Nitish Kumar at the centenary celebrations of Patna University and later launched a slew of road and sewerage projects, worth over ₹3,700 crore, at Mokamah.
Farmers across nation to protest in CapitalContext
• The All India KisanSangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), announced that farmers from all parts of the country will be gathering in the Capital on November 20.
Why in the news?
• To protest against the atrocities that are being carried out against them by the government.
• To demand proper remunerative prices and freedom from all kinds of debts
• A historic move, as 180 farmer organisations from over 20 States will be participating in the ‘Kisan Mukti Parishad’ which is scheduled to be held next month.
Free speech placed on the highest pedestal, saysSCContext
• Turns down plea to ban Ilaiah’s book, upholds author’s right to expression.
Why in news?
• Courts cannot be asked to gag free expression. The Supreme Court has always placed the fundamental right to free speech at the highest pedestal. This is what the Supreme Court recorded in its two-page order while dismissing a petition to ban the book, SamajikaSmugglurluKomatollu, by Dalit writer and activist Professor KanchaIlaiah.
Railway board takes up safety measuresContext:
• With consecutive rail accidents, the Indian Railways is planning a series of steps to improve the safety of rail tracks.
• It includes automated inspections and frequent traffic blocks for maintenance.
What are the problems faced by Indian Railways?
• Indian Railways is the fifth biggest rail network in the world with 1.3 million employees and it is a massive task to streamline its operations.
• Different Union governments and railway ministers have commissioned multiple studies on what ails the Railways. Some of them are as below:
• The discrepancy between cargo charges and passenger fares seem to distort the Railways’ performance.
• The Indian railway has a centralizedorganization with hierarchical decision-making. As a result, even simple decisions take years to resolve.
Making the Internet disappearContext
• Courts must take into account the exceptional character of Net shutdowns and their impact on civil liberties.
What are the new rules legislated that allow Internet ban?
• The communication ministry has issued new rules that allow the government to temporarily shut down phone and internet services during a “public emergency” or for “public safety”
• The new rules were notified by the Department of Telecommunications on August 8. They don’t clearly define “public emergency” or “public safety”.
The case for public health cadreContext
• A dedicated personnel cadre for public health management shall improve India’s health-care delivery system
Why have a dedicated Cadre?
• A dedicated, professionally trained personnel to address the specific and complex needs of the Indian health-care delivery system
• The 12th Five Year Plan and the National Health Policy, 2017 have also strongly advocated establishing a public health management cadre to improve the quality of health services
Govt. plans to boost rural employmentContext
• After an array of suicidal cases of the farmers in India, the Rural Development Ministry is in the midst of examining proposals that promises to leapfrog job creation for the rural youth.
What are the causes of rural unemployment in India?
• According to the report, Rural Agricultural Commission, Indian Agriculturalists are unemployed for about 6 months in a year.
Some of the reasons are as follows:
• In India the population is excessively increasing: At this rate of increase in population, no country can guarantee full employment to its hands.
• The employment planning of the government is not adequate: In comparison to population growth, employment opportunities did not increase.
Money-go-round is neat way to fix Indian banksContext
• India is eyeing a circular solution to fix its banking mess.
Why in news?
• New Delhi might revive so-called “recapitalization bonds”, which it used back in the 1990s.
• New Delhi will recapitalize its banks in the next few months, the options included a mix of reducing the government’s stakes to 52%, a direct cash injection, and recapitalization bonds
Indian economy on very solid track in the medium termContext
• MF chief Christine Lagarde said the Indian economy was on a “very solid track” in the medium term, days after the International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for the current and the next year.
Why in news?
• The IMF last week lowered India’s growth projection to 6.7% in 2017, 0.5 percentage points less than its previous two forecasts in April and July, attributing it to demonetisation and introduction of the GST.
• It also lowered the country’s growth for 2018 to 7.4%, 0.3 percentage points less than its previous two projections in July and April.
GDP may grow at 7% in FY18: NITI AayogContext
• NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar has said the economic slowdown that began in 2013-14 has bottomed out and the GDP is likely to grow at 6.9-7 % this fiscal and 7.5% in 2018-19.
Why in news?
• The economic growth slowed to 7.1% in 2016-17, the year in which 87% of the currency was demonetized, despite a very good show by the agricultural sector.
• On a quarterly basis also, the growth in the first quarter of the current fiscal had slipped to 5.7%.
What rising imports at a time of declining manufacturing indicateContext
• Demonetization broke domestic supply chain, and disruption caused by GST compounded problems, meanwhile, with remonetization, demand rose, and was met by imports.
What do these trends indicate?
• Manufacturing has clearly taken a hit from the twin blows of demonetization and GST, one following the other.
• The liquidity crunch resulting from demonetization basically ended up disrupting domestic production supply chains.
• Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing clusters, paying workers mostly in cash, were the worst affected
• Many domestic manufacturing units, especially SMEs, had shut shop or significantly cut back on production.
NITI’s Kumar bats for fiscal stimulusContext
• NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar has pitched for fiscal stimulus to boost growth, with a rider that additional expenditure should be used only for increasing productivity and capital expenditure.
What is fiscal stimulus and its effects?
• A ‘stimulus’ is an attempt by policymakers to kickstart a sluggish economy through a package of measures. A fiscal stimulus entails the Government spending more from its own coffers or slashing tax rates(in short, an expansionary fiscal policy) to put more money in the hands of consumers.
• It will increase liquidity in the market and hence, increases the purchasing power, boosts consumption and leads to inflation.
Centre pushes for cash-free campusesContext
• Public, private institutions to be within digital ambit
Why in news?
• The Ministry of Human Resource Development aims to make financial transactions completely digital in all higher education institutions.
• In this regard, the Human Resource Development Minister is likely to write to the heads of all institutions to shift completely to digital transactions very soon.
• The Centre aims to fully digitize all campus processes — including admissions, assistance, assessments, result declaration, admission, etc. — with all these processes going on an integrated IT platform
Rationale behind decision:
• The move will promote cashless transactions in all institutions including Central and State universities like IITs, NITs, business schools etc.
• The move was a step towards cashless economy.
All major ports to get LDB services: official sourcesContext
• The Logistics Data Bank’s (LDB) services will soon be extended to all major ports in India.
Why in news?
• The discussions in this regard have begun between the Government and the Indian Port 70% of the container traffic in India.Association (IPA).
• The IPA is the apex body for India’s major ports under the shipping ministry’s supervisory control.
• Till now, the LDB project covered only the India’s western logistics corridor.
• The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Logistics Data Services Ltd.(DLDSL) provides, container tracking services to around
• Indian cost to export is double as compared to Malaysia, Singapore, and China etc.
Security and Defense
As commanders fall, militants lose links to handlersContext
• Abu Ismail, an LeT operational commander who led the attack on Amarnath pilgrims was shot dead.
Why in news?
• He was killed on road a mere 8 km from Srinagar, in the Aribagh area of Nowgam.
• LeT, HizbulMujahideen and JeM have steadily lost operational leaders in Kashmir in recent months, but recruitment of youth in the Valley continues.
A bigger nuclear submarine comingContext
• India’s second strategic nuclear submarine Aridhaman is just a few weeks from sea launch.
Why in news?
• With raising ambitions for the Navy’s capability, there are plans to build a bigger and more potent version of the indigenous nuclear submarine in the immediate future.
• That leap for India’s ballistic nuclear submarine capabilities would come with the fourth submarine planned in the same class, named S4-Star.
• It would have a stronger weapons configuration integrated into an extra compartment that would be added.
100 IS fighters surrender in Syria’s RaqqaContext
• The Islamic State (IS) is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the.
Why in news?
• The U.S.-led coalition against the IS said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city”, but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”
This army watch can survive nuclear blastContext
• Scientists have developed a military watch for the Russian army kit that can resist high impact, and even survive the consequences of a nuclear blast.
Why in news?
• The watch has been developed by experts of the Central Scientific Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering (TsNIITochMash) — part of the Rostec State Corporation in Russia.
• It has been included in the new combat system for land forces, airborne forces, coastal troops of the Russian Navy, special operations units.
• It is designed for continuous time determination.
• The mechanical watch with automatic movement ensures fast and accurate time determination in severe climatic and operating conditions, during routine and combat operations
ITBP raises maiden mechanized columnContext
• For the first time in its over 50-year history, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is raising and deploying a mechanised column of power vehicles and machines to quickly mobilise troops along the India-China border during Chinese military transgressions and Doklam-like standoffs.
Why in news?
• The decision to raise such a military-style combat wing in the paramilitary force was taken after the Union Home Ministry recently approved deployment of snow scooters at all high-altitude border outposts of the mountain-warfare trained force along the 3,488-km-long frontier it guards.
Free movement’ along Myanmar borderContext
• The Centre is putting in measures to facilitate free movement of Indian and Myanmar’s citizens within 16 km along the Myanmar border.
What is the Free Movement regime?
• The FMR allows visa-free movement for people living within 16 km on either side of the border.
How is FMR impacting India?
• The bilateral pact between the two countries is being exploited by militants to smuggle arms, drugs and even fake Indian currency across the border.
With stealth ship, India in elite groupContext
• Recently Defence minister, Nirmala Sitharamancommissioned INS Kiltan , the third of the four Project-28 Kamorta class ASW.
• With the commissioning of third kamorta class Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)stealth, country is rapidly marching towards indigenisation
About project
• This is part of ‘Make in India’ initiative.
• The keel was laid in 2010 under the Project-28 scheme and was built by Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.
• This ship is unique, as about 81% is built indigenously and is the first built by India that has a superstructure made up of carbon fibre composite material.
• This makes it a stealth corvette and makes India one among the few nations that have this technology or this class of ships.
Melting ice making Greenland Sea less salineContext
• Melting ice is causing coastal waters in Greenland to become less saline, which may in turn affect marine life as well as the global ocean currents that keep Europe warm.
Why in news?
• The observed increase in freshwater content will affect the conditions in all Greenland fjords, researchers pointed out.
• Also, glaciers have been observed to melt and retreat and the researchers know that today’s meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet has more than doubled compared with the period 1983-2003
NGT seeks report on Ganga clean-upContext
• The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh and the Uttarakhand governments to file affidavits stating what steps they have taken to comply with its directions to clean the Ganga in the stretch between Gomukh and Unnao.
What are the instructions directed by the NGT?
• The green panel had passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate the Ganga, declaring as ‘No Development Zone’ an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao.
• It has further strictly prohibited the dumping of waste within 500 meters from the river.
• A bench headed by NGT Chairperson has asked all the stakeholders to state the course of action between Phase-2 from Kanpur to the U.P. border.
Make pollution-free crackersContext
• Scientists have been asked to develop zero-pollution firecrackers that do not cause health hazards to children.
Why in news?
• The comments come close on the heels of the Supreme Court banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) till October 31.
• Flagging off the ‘Run for Clean Air’ campaign here as a part of the ‘Clean Air Campaign.’ The event was attended by around 10,000 students from various schools in Delhi-NCR.
Toxic farmingContext:
• After an array of farmer deaths because of pesticides, it is high time that the government had taken some concrete steps to regulate toxic chemicals used in agriculture.
What are the harmful effects of pesticides?
• Accidents in pesticide manufacturing units cause great loss of human life.
• The high-risk groups exposed to pesticides include production workers, formulators, sprayers, mixers, loaders and agricultural farm workers.
• Harmful chemicals may seep into and contaminate ground water. ( which can further lead to Bio-accumulation and bio-magnification)
• Repeated use of pesticides on cotton, fruits, vegetables, tobacco and other crops causes harm to beneficial organisms like biocontrol agents, soil, wild and aquatic life.
• Pesticides may kill grain- and plant-feeding birds.
Boosting horticulture through remote sensingContext:
• Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh announced March 2018 as the deadline to complete the ambitious project of developing the horticulture sector using remotesensing technology and geo-informatics.
Advantages of horticulture sector:
• The horticulture sector, provides nutrient rich crops to the people and better remunerative prices to the farmers and increase their incomes.
• Horticulture crops play significant role in improving the productivity of land, generating employment, enhancing exports, improving economic conditions of the farmers and entrepreneurs and providing food and nutritional security to the people.
Most pollution-linked deaths occur in IndiaContext:
• Reports of the Lancet Commission on pollution and health concluded that deaths in India occur mostly because of pollution.
Pollution in the context of India: a report:
• With 2.51 million deaths in 2015, India has been ranked No. 1 in pollution related deaths, according to a report by The Lancet Commission on pollution and health.
• India accounted for about 28 per cent of an estimated nine million pollution linked deaths worldwide in 2015.
• In the case of air pollution, the number of deaths in India from ambient air pollution is at the first place i.e. 1.09 million.
Science and tech
DNA barcodes reveal adulteration in traditional medicinesContext
• Scientists from Bengaluru, have called for a herbal trade authentication system to address “concerns over widespread adulteration.”
Why is it in news?
• A set of studies shows that traditional medicinal markets are replete with unrelated plant materials that substitute for endangered or rare ones, while the final product, in some instances, contains heavy metals, particularly lead.
What has been discovered?
• In 2008, while attempting to trace the genetic history of Phyllanthus (Leaf flower), scientists were surprised to see claims of the plant being used in abundance in herbal medicines.
• Taking samples from 12 wholesale markets across south India, their DNA analysis showed that nearly 25% of samples were not Phyllanthus amarus (used to treat hepatitis), but a mixture of other species which did not contain the curative elements of phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin.
• The scientists focussed their attention on species adulteration and developed DNA barcodes — short genetic sequences, much like a supermarket barcode, which becomes an identifying mark — for 150 species commonly used in traditional medicine.
External ground delays holding up GSAT-9 benefitsContext
• ISRO has invited expressions of interest to find suitable Indian industry players who will set up the ground equipment.
Why in news?
• Some five months after the South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 was put up in space as New Delhi’s gift to six neighbours, ground delays outside India seem to be holding up its planned harvest.
• ISRO which owns and operates the roughly ₹200-crore communication spacecraft, says it has initiated the processes to set up ground stations for the partners to receive/send satellite communication.
IIT Madras develops algorithms that learn like humansContext
• DeepMind, the company which was acquired by Google, produced an algorithm called AlphaGo that beat the world’s number one at the Go game.
Why in news?
• One of the methods behind the success of AlphaGo, called deep reinforcement learning, is being further developed by IIT Madras researchers to construct their own algorithm to play not just the Go game, but for more complex tasks.
IISER Bhopal: strategies to fight breast cancerContext
• A team of researchers led by Dr. Sanjeev Shukla from the Department of Biological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal, has been able to reverse aerobic glycolysis by inhibiting DNA methylation or reducing the expression of BORIS (Brother of Regulator of Imprinted Sites) gene.
Why in news?
• This is the first time DNA methylation causing alternative splicing in cancer cells has been studied. DNA methylation also silences tumour suppressor genes.
How will it function?
• Inhibiting the growth and accelerating the death rate of breast cancer cells may be possible by starving the cancer cells of glucose or by inhibiting the energy production process (aerobic glycolysis).
A plan to stamp out animal TBContext
• Zoonotic TB continues to remain largely hidden, posing many health risks.
Why in news?
• The first-ever road map to combat animal tuberculosis (bovine TB) and its transmission to humans, referred to as zoonotic TB, was launched at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Guadalajara, Mexico.
• Four partners in health, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) have joined forces to develop the road map and, address the major health and economic impact of this disease.
How it spreads?
• Zoonotic TB spreads through consumption of contaminated untreated meat or dairy products from diseased animals.
Impact on India
• In India, consumption of raw milk and living in close proximity to cattle has been attributed to high incidence rates of bovine TB in the central Indian populations.
Information utility under the IBCContext
• National e-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL) became India’s first information utility (IU) for bankruptcy cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
What is an information utility?
• Information utility is an information network which would store financial data like borrowings, default and security interests among others of firms.
• The utility would specialize in procuring, maintaining and providing/ supplying financial information to businesses, financial institutions, adjudicating authority, insolvency professionals and other relevant stake holders.
Why is it important?
• The objective behind information utilities is to provide high-quality, authenticated information about debts and defaults, as per the report of the Working Group on Information Utility published by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
Observations confirm neutron star mergerContext:
• For the first time, a cosmic event has been observed with gravitational waves and also light waves.
• The LIGO-VIRGO collaboration, three members of which won this year’s physics Nobel Prize, detected the merger of two neutron stars –extremely dense, massive but tiny, objects.
• Gamma rays bursting from the event were observed by nearly 70 ground and space-based observations.
• The second part of the discovery- the observation of Gamma ray bursts by several telescopes includes the observations by the Giant Metreware Radio Telescope (GMRT), the Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) and AstroSat.
• The CZTI instrument on AstroSat helped narrow down the location of the gamma-ray flashes.
• Observations which were made earlier by LIGO have been of black hole mergers, and as no light can escape from a black hole, there was no such light counterpart to the measurements.
• The GMRT played a key role in understanding jet physics and refining models of radio emission from the remnant formed by the merging neutron stars
Sawfish more threatened than tigers, say scientistsContext:
• Sawfish is seen to have a population of less than 10 times in over a decade and they appear to be more threatened than tigers and elephants.
What are Sawfishes?
• Sawfishes, also known as carpenter sharks.
• The sawfish’s most distinctive feature is the saw-like rostrum, covered with electro-sensitive pores that allow the sawfish to detect slight movements of prey hiding in the muddy sea floor.
• There are only five species of the sawfish ever identified — dwarf sawfish, knifetooth sawfish, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish and green sawfish.
• These fishes are found in parts of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Indo-Pacific.
Why is it threatened?
• Primarily, the sawfish reduced drastically due to overfishing and habitat loss.
• Depressed population size, continued restricted range, and incidental capturesadd on to its threats.
• Natural threats to sawfishes are poorly known, but include predation by sharks and other large predators, and mortality attributable to red tide.
ICMR bans banking of many stem cell sourcesContext
• The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has made recommendations in its national guidelines for stem cell research (2017)
Why in the news?
• ICMR is looking at suspending commercial banking of stem cells derived from biological materials such as cord tissue, placenta, tooth extract and menstrual blood.
• In its recommendation, ICMR has stated that there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the clinical benefits of these stem cells.
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