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Showing posts from April 12, 2017

The number of new flu viruses is increasing, and could lead to a pandemic (downtoearth)

Influenza has affected humans for over 6,000 years, causing pandemics at regular intervals. During the 1918 Spanish flu, it was thought to be a bacteria, until an American physician Richard Shope identified the virus in 1931. The Conversation

So how is it this pathogen has managed to stay around for so long, and why haven’t we beaten it yet? The answer is that influenza is a virus that changes rapidly and regularly.

New flu vaccines are required every year due to these changes and mutations of the virus. While all flu viruses which infect humans are similar, a pandemic virus (which is easily transmitted between humans) is significant because humans have no immunity to it, and so are vulnerable to severe infection and death. Seasonal viruses which we see year after year were once pandemic strains, but humans have now been exposed to these viruses and have some background immunity to them.

We have found that the last decade has seen an acceleration in the number of flu strains infectin…

Government still chasing toilets, but that won’t solve sanitation issues: experts ( downtoearth,)

Government continues to give emphasis on the number of toilets built as an indicator of villages becoming open defecation-free (ODF). This was again proved when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the state of sanitation of the villages along the River Ganga in an exhibition titled ‘"Swachhagraha ‘Bapu Ko Karyanjali’ - a Mission" on April 10 in New Delhi. According to Modi, around 75 per cent of the villages along the river are open defecation-free.
If we go by the statistics given by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), then this number matches very closely with the number of household toilets constructed till 2016-17 in the villages along the Ganga. Thus, it is clear that the ministry is still correlating the number of toilets built with open defecation-free status of villages.
In 2015-16, 701 villages were declared ODF on the basis of number of toilets built. In 2016-17, around 3709 villages (almost five times) were declared ODF. It means there has …

IMD predicts intense heat waves this summer {downtoearth,}

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of a heat wave in the coming weeks. According to forecasts, temperatures are likely to rise above 40 degrees Celsius in most parts of the country and heat wave-like conditions are likely to develop in Gujarat, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Such extreme temperature events are becoming a norm in India and other sub-tropical countries around the world. According to reports, climate change is likely to have caused this increase in incidences and severity of heat waves.

IMD estimates that average temperatures between March and May in recent years, have increased by 1-1.2°C above the 100-year-average. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as average temperatures increase, outlier events like heat waves—defined by the IMD as an increase of 5°C above normal temperatures—are likely to become more severe. This means that they will entail higher temperatures and will last longer.

In the past, heat waves ha…

India’s wind, solar resources concentrated in southern, western states: study (downtoearth,)

India has huge capacity to develop renewable energy infrastructure. However, wind and solar resources are spatially heterogeneous across India, finds a study conducted by researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—a member of the national laboratory system supported by the US Department of Energy.

India has set a target of developing 175GW of renewable energy by 2022 and also 40 per cent of total power generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. For this to happen, the country needs to overcome economic and siting challenges, along with power system challenges.

What’s the objective of the study?

The study, conducted by the International Energy Studies Group from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, used Multi-criteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE) methodological framework. The broader objective was to “spatially identify the amount and quality of wind and utility-scale solar (a solar facility that generates power and feeds the grid supplyin…

Faced with water crisis, Karnataka now wants to revive millet cultivation (downtoearth,)

Faced by drought, erratic rain and unusually long spell of hot weather, Karnataka is now focussing on “rebuilding farmers’ interest in millets through incentives such as guaranteed buy-back and a bonus over the minimum support price”, according to a media report. Millets are most suited for water-deficit and drought conditions. They consume at least 70 per cent less water than other crops and require minimum inputs and almost no pesticides. For farmers, they are low-risk crops resilient to climate change. Finger millet, sorghum and other millets are locally-grown, more economical and better nutritional alternatives to oats and quinoa.

Last year, Down To Earth had reported how change in cropping pattern has almost tripled water use in the past two decades, though the area irrigated by the Cauvery River has remained the same.

READ: There’s a need to wean away farmers from water-intensive crops

In a recent interview with the BusinessLine, Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowd…

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 04 December 2016

:: National ::

Q. 1

1. Indian environmental activist based in the U.A.E won this year’s prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize.
2. The International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded annually to a child, anywhere in the world, for his or her dedication to children’s rights.
Which of the following statements is/are true-?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 & 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

:: International ::

Q. 2

1. U.S President-elect Donald Trump is the first American President or President-elect to talk to a Taiwanese President since 1975.
2. Mr. Trump’s engagement with the Taiwanese leader drew strong reactions from Beijing.
Which of the following statements is/are true-?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 & 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

:: Business and Economy ::

Q. 3

1. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council failed to reach a consensus on critical issues.
2.The effect of demonetisation on the economy and on the states is under the purview of the GST Council.
Which of the following statem…

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 03 December 2016

Q. 1
:: National ::
1. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011.
2. The recent conference of Heart of Asia, whose theme is security and prosperity, including Chabahar project.
Which of the following statements is/are true-?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 & 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

:: International ::

Q. 2

1. In Iceland legislative elections, none of the seven parties or alliances obtained a clear majority.
2. The President then called on the Left-Green Movement, to form a government.
Which of the following statements is/are true-?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 & 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

:: Business and Economy ::

Q. 3

1. The Election Commission of India (ECI) is looking into the proposal for state funding of elections to combat the influence of cash and black money in them.
2. The ECI and other political parties are going to discuss on this issue.
Which of the following statements is/are true-?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 & 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2.
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Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 12 April 2017

Q.1- Which of the following is correct regarding new amendments to HIV bill?

1. The “HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014” will bring legal accountability and establish a formal mechanism to probe discrimination complaints.
2. There are around 21 lakh people living in India who are HIV positive
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None

Q.2- ‘India’s ranking in ease of doing Business Index’ is sometimes seen in the news. Which of the following have declared that ranking?

A. Organization of Economic Cooperation and development (OECD)
B. World Economic Forum
C. World Bank
D. World trade Organization (WTO)

Q.3- A special category status was accorded to any state on the following basis

A. High population density
B. Strategic location along borders
C. Economic Back wardness
D. Sizable share of tribal population
1.A & B
2.B,C & D
3.B & D
4.A & D.
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Answer 1-C,2-C,3-2