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1. Bhuvan Ganga Geoportal and Mobile Application.

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga organized a brainstorming session on World GIS Day 2018 in New Delhi.
  • The theme of GIS Day is: ‘G-Governance of Namami Gange programme through Geospatial Technology’.
  • NMCG has signed a MoU with National Remote Sensing Centre in the use of geospatial technology in June 2015.
  • They have developed Bhuvan Ganga Geoportal and Bhuvan Ganga Mobile Application.

Bhuvan Ganga Portal

  • Bhuvan Ganga Geoportal is available for water quality monitoring, hydrological monitoring, geomorphological monitoring, bio-resources monitoring, and comprehensive geospatial database.
  • Bhuvan Ganga mobile application is a user-friendly application to enable user/public to collect and report information on various pollution sources that affect the water quality of River Ganga.
  • The mobile application has a provision to collect information regarding urban sewage, semi-urban/rural sewage, natural drains/nallas, industrial wastewater, solid waste disposal or any other pollution source.

Related Information

  • GIS mapping becomes extremely important at NMCG to achieve its objective of effective abatement of pollution in river Ganga because of its limitless potential.
  • NMCG has also collaborated with Survey of India to facilitate the Ganga rejuvenation task by using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology for mapping the Ganga basin in high resolution generating Digital Elevation Models.
  • This technology enables identification of the entire topography of an area making it easy for policymakers to analyse the available data and improve the decision-making process.
  • Critical pollution hotspots are also easily identified through this technology.

Topic- GS Paper 2 – Important Portal

Source-PIB

  1. Kerala introduces a new open online learning programme ‘KOOL’
  • The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) rolls out its Online Open Learning training platform ‘KOOL’.
  • The platform can be used to train teachers, students and the general public.
  • KOOL has been designed in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) model, which is becoming popular worldwide.

Related Information

KOOL

  • It is a major step by the State of Kerala to become India’s first complete digital state in Education.
  • It has been developed as an expansion of ‘Samagra’, the resource portal of the education department.
  • It has an array of features for learners in the form of animated learning assistants, video tutorials and checklists for practising the activities.
  • It would be the largest online training programme in the state.

Topic- GS Paper 2 – Governance

Source- Indian Express

  1. Fitch affirms India’s rating at ‘BBB-‘; outlook stable
  • Credit rating agency Fitch affirmed that India’s ‘Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating’ (IDR) at ‘BBB-‘ with a stable outlook.
  • Fitch Ratings is one of the big three credit agencies of the world. Other two are Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
  • Fitch had last upgraded India’s Sovereign rating from ‘BB+’ to ‘BBB-‘ with the stable outlook in 2006.
  • Fitch says that Indian Economy is vulnerable to shifts in global market sentiments due to global trade tensions and U.S. Monetary tightening.

Related Information

  • India’s credit rating outlook was downgraded in April citing poor public finances and rising fiscal burden, and the failure of the present government to push through crucial reforms.
  • Ratings for the investment grade range between AAA (superior) to B- or B3 (very poor).

What is an investment grade credit rating?

  • Investment grade investments are financial instruments that have ratings ranging from AAA+ to BBB- under the terminology followed by S&P.
  • It defines BBB- as the lowest investment grade as considered by market participants.
  • Any grade below BBB becomes speculative grade investments and below it is the last category of bonds in default.
  • Bonds that are not rated as investment-grade bonds are known as high yield bonds or as junk bonds.

Why is investment grade rating necessary?

  • Financial theory suggests the following diversification to mitigate risks and extract the maximum possible return.
  • Following this strategy, many big financial institutions have investments in equities and bonds throughout the world.
  • Within these FIs there are some such as pension funds, trusts and endowments that have a mandate to invest in only investment grade instruments.
  • Hence the bonds of any country which loses its investment-grade rating will be sold in the market.

What are its implications?

  • If a country loses its investment grade rating it would face much higher costs for its future borrowing as its credibility will not be considered as high and it will face a lesser number of lenders in the markets.
  • The loss of confidence would also result in an outflow of funds from the equity markets as confidence in the economy would go down.

Topic- GS Paper 3 – Indian Economy

Source- Economics Times

  1. Section 7 of RBI Act
  • Section 7 of the RBI Act has come into the spotlight amid the war between the Central government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The provision in the RBI Act empowers the government to issue directions to the RBI.
  • The government has invoked Section 7 which has never been used before.
  • Exercising powers under this section, the government has sent several letters to the RBI governor in recent weeks on issues ranging from liquidity for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), the capital requirement for weak banks and lending to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Related Information

What is Section 7?

  • The RBI is an entity independent of the government as it takes its own decisions. However, in certain instances, it has to listen to the government.
  • This provision in the RBI Act is contained in its Section 7 which says:
    (1) The Central Government may from time to time give such directions to the Bank as it may, after consultation with the Governor of the Bank, consider necessary in the public interest.
    (2) Subject to any such directions, the general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the Bank shall be entrusted to a Central Board of Directors which may exercise all powers and do all acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Bank.
    (3) Save as otherwise provided in regulations made by the Central Board, the Governor and in his absence the Deputy Governor nominated by him in this behalf, shall also have powers of general superintendence and direction of the affairs and the business of the Bank, and may exercise all powers and do all acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Bank.

 Note:  The section empowers the government to issue directions in public interest to the central bank, which otherwise does not take orders from the government.

Why has the government invoked Section 7?

  • The government believed that easing of lending rules for the banks under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework could help reduce pressure on MSMEs.
  • However, the regulator stood its ground arguing that such a move would put the clock back and undoes clean-up efforts.
  • With the credit markets tightening after the IL&FS default in September, non-banking finance companies lobbied the government for more liquidity.
  • But RBI maintained its position since the banking system did not witness any spike in borrowing costs and the market was just repricing risk in an evolving situation.

Topic-GS-3-India Economy

Source- Economic Times

  1. India’s first microsatellite “ExseedSAT 1” by students launched from Hyderabad

  • India’s first private satellite “ExseedSAT 1” developed under the aegis by Hyderabad-based startup Exseed Space.
  • ExseedSAT 1 was launched on Nov 19 from SpaceX launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Related Information

Exseed

  • Exseed makes advanced small satellites and scientific spacecraft for commercial, government and academic customers.
  • Exseed SAT 1 operates on very high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) signals, and will take UHF signals up and transmit VHF signals back down, thus enabling easy communication for private radio operators
  • ExseedSAT 1, which is expected to provide a major boost to private radio operators after HAMSAT ceased operations about four years ago, was built with the contributions of several Ham operators.

Topic- GS Paper 3 – Economics

Source- ET

  1. Tiger translocation may continue: NTCA
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has hinted at a continuation of the first-ever inter-State tiger translocation project in Odisha’s Satkosia Tiger Reserve despite huge setbacks.
  • Odisha had planned to bring three pairs of the tiger from Madhya Pradesh to increase their population in Satkosia.

Related Information

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests.
  • The Authority will have eight experts or professionals having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals, apart from three Members of Parliament of whom two will be elected by the House of the People and one by the Council of States.
  • The Inspector General of Forests, in charge of project Tiger, will be ex-officio Member Secretary.

Main Objective of the NTCA

  • Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives becomes legal.
  • Fostering accountability of Center-State in the management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.

Power and Functions of the NTCA

  • To approve the tiger conservation plan prepared by the State Government under sub-section (3) of section 38V of this Act.
  • It evaluates and assesses various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallows any ecologically unsustainable land use such as mining, industry and other projects within the tiger reserves.
  • It ensures critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for the better implementation of the tiger conservation plan.

Topic- GS Paper 3 – Wildlife and Biodiversity

Source- The Hindu

  1. India’s first elephant hospital opens in Mathura
  • India’s first specialized hospital for elephants in Mathura, UP.
  • The unique medical centre offers wireless digital X-ray, laser treatment, dental X-ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, hydrotherapy and quarantine facilities.
  • Located close to the elephant conservation and care centre (Wildlife SOS) the hospital is designed to treat injured, sick or geriatric elephants and is equipped with a medical hoist for lifting elephants.

Related Information

Wildlife SOS

  • Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a conservation non-profit organization in India with the motive of protecting and preserving India’s natural heritage, forests and wildlife.
  • The primary objective WSOS are of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress in the country and preserving India’s natural heritage.
  • It is currently one of the largest Wildlife Organisations in South Asia.
  • WSOS is also known for their efforts at rescue and rehabilitation of sloth bears and more recently elephants.
  • Wildlife SOS also runs active projects focused on mitigation of human-wildlife conflict with regard to species like Leopards, Macaques, Elephants, Moon bears, Snakes etc. across several states in India.

Topic- GS Paper 3 – Environment and Wildlife

Source- The Hindu

  1. China’s build ‘Artificial Sun’
  • China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts.
  • This temperature makes it six times hotter than the core of the burning star, which peaks at around 27 million F (15 million C).
  • The device the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) is built to harness the energy of nuclear fusion, the same process that powers stars.
  • The experiment is conducted by Institute of Plasma Physics.

Related Information

Nuclear fission and Fusion

  • Nuclear fission takes place when a large, somewhat unstable isotope (atoms with the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons) is bombarded by high-speed particles, usually neutrons.
  • These neutrons are accelerated and then slammed into the unstable isotope, causing it to fission, or break into smaller particles.
  • During the process, a neutron is accelerated and strikes the target nucleus, which in the majority of nuclear power reactors today is Uranium-235.
  • This splits the target nucleus and breaks it down into two smaller isotopes (the fission products), three high-speed neutrons, and a large amount of energy.
  • This resulting energy is then used to heat water in nuclear reactors and ultimately produces electricity.
  • The high-speed neutrons that are ejected become projectiles that initiate other fission reactions, or chain reactions.

Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear fusion refers to the “union of atomic nuclei to form heavier nuclei resulting in the release of enormous amounts of energy.
  • For a fusion reaction to occur, two atomic nuclei merge under extremely high pressures and temperatures topping 270 million ºF.
  • Fusion takes place when two low-mass isotopes, typically isotope of hydrogen, unite under conditions of extreme pressure and temperature.
  • Fusion is what powers the sun.
  • Atoms of Tritium and Deuterium (isotopes of hydrogen, Hydrogen-3 and Hydrogen-2, respectively) unite under extreme pressure and temperature to produce a neutron and a helium isotope.
  • Along with this, an enormous amount of energy is released, which is several times the amount produced from fission.

Topic- GS Paper 3 – Science and Technology

Source- The Hindu