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Showing posts from April 24, 2017

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 24 April 2017

Q.1- Consider the following statements

1.India is the founder member of IMF
2.Janet Yellen is the current IMF chief

Which of the above statement is /are true

a. only 1
b. only 2
c. both 1 & 2
d. neither 1 nor 2

Q.2- The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement will

1. Give militaries of only the USA access to Indian military facilities for supplies and repairs.
2. Require individual clearance for every case of logistical support.
3. Allow military bases to be set up.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

A. 1 only
B. 1 and 2 only
C. 2 and 3 only
D. All

Q.3- Select the eastern most place among the places given from mediterranean sea.

A. Ibiza
B. Palma
C. Malta
D. Cyprus
Answer  1-A,  2-B,3-D

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 23 April 2017

Q.1- H1N1 virus is sometimes mentioned in the news with reference to which one of the following diseases?

(a) AIDS
(b) Bird flu
(c) Dengue
(d) swine flu

Q.2- India's first underwater metro tunnel is started in which of the following rivers?

A. Narmada
B. Krishna
C. Hoogly
D. Godavari

Q.3- In India, the steel production industry requires the import of

a) saltpetre
b) rock phosphate
c) coking coal
d) All of the above
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Answer 1-D,2-C,3-C

Satellite study finds ammonia hotspots over agricultural areas (downtoearth, )

A satellite study of airborne ammonia gas has revealed four major hotspots over productive agricultural regions across the world. Increased atmospheric ammonia is linked to poor air and water quality.

Using data from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder satellite instrument, researchers led by the University of Maryland (UMD), discovered increased ammonia concentrations from 2002 to 2016 over agricultural centres in the US, Europe, China and India. The study was published last month in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

Harmful effects

Increased ammonia is linked to fertilizers, livestock animal wastes, changes in atmospheric chemistry and warming soils that retain less ammonia.

Gaseous ammonia is a natural part of the Earth’s nitrogen cycle, but excessive ammonia is harmful to plants, the study adds. Ammonia gas can also fall back to Earth and waterbodies, where it contributes to harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” with dangerously low oxygen levels.

“To control ammonia-rel…

New global standard adopted for making trade in plants and seeds safer (downtoearth, )

Global trade in plants and seeds should not only be profitable, but also safer. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)'s governing body—the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM)—has taken a stride forward with the adoption of a new global standard in Incheon, South Korea, on April 13.

Areas of concern

Each year, ships ferry more than 500 million large steel containers filled with cargo to and from all corners of the planet. Unfortunately, that cargo can sometimes hide agricultural pests—from gypsy moths to giant African snails and Argentine ants. Once the pests land on shore, they can wreak havoc on crops.

Surge in agricultural trade via online marketplaces is making it more difficult for countries to ensure that all shipments are free from bugs and diseases.

The threat of pest transmission posed by seeds is another major concern. Unlike other agricultural products like wheat, barley or lentils that are meant for consumption, seeds are destined for planting. He…

New tool tracks water usage in agriculture (downtoearth,)

A tool now makes it possible to measure water efficiency in the agriculture sector. Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the WaPOR open-access database will help farmers optimise irrigation in water-scarce countries.

Using satellite data provided by Google Earth, the tool analyses water utilisation in farming systems, generating evidence about how it can be most productively used.

Speaking about the programme, FAO expert Livia Peiser said, “The programme (WaPOR) aims at increasing water productivity in agriculture. It starts with monitoring it, but it will also identify suitable options for closing productivity gaps, and explore possibilities for yield increases and reduction of non-beneficial water consumption.” Right now, WaPOR covers Africa and the Near East, but according to Peiser there is a growing interest to expand it.

Besides industries, agriculture is a major water guzzler. In view of the global population rise, there will be a 60 per cent surge in dema…

National action plan on antimicrobial resistance urges multi-sectoral initiative (downtoearth)

The National Action Plan on anti-microbial resistance (AMR) was finalised on Wednesday during an inter-ministerial consultation under the leadership of Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda.

The consultation witnessed 13 ministries coming together in support of the plan. A joint declaration, “Delhi Declaration on Antimicrobial Resistance–an inter-ministerial consensus”, was also endorsed by the ministries to adopt a collaborative approach for prevention of AMR.

AMR, including antibiotic resistance (ABR), is a global public health threat, as antibiotics and antimicrobials are becoming increasingly ineffective to treat common diseases.

Besides misuse of antibiotics in human health, its misuse in food animal production such as in case of chicken, fish, dairy and honey also adds to the problem.

The environmental spread of AMR through waste from healthcare settings, animal farms, animal food processing units and pharmaceutical manufacturing units is also a cause of concern.

A Global A…

Long-term impacts of lead exposure have finally been revealed (downtoearth,)

Though the health impacts of exposure to lead were first reported in the 1970s, a new study, published in JAMA on March 28, has established the long-term effects—it can not only reduce IQ levels, but also lower socio-economic status.

Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It affects the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time and is released with age.

The researchers used data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, an investigation of health and behaviour of children born between April 1972 and March 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. At that time, New Zealand was using gasoline which had high levels of lead. In 1983, when the children were 11 years old, the researchers measured the level of lead in the blood of 565 of the children, and found that all children had high levels of lead…

Science or Snake Oil: can turmeric really shrink tumours, reduce pain and kill bacteria? (downtoearth)

Turmeric is touted to have many benefits, such as reducing inflammation and preventing cancer. from

Turmeric is a yellow coloured spice widely used in Indian and South East Asian cuisine. It’s prepared from the root of a plant called Curcuma longa and is also used as a natural pigment in the food industry. The Conversation

In the literature, curcumin is reported to be an antioxidant that protects the body against damage from reactive molecules. These are generated in the body as a result of metabolism and cause cell damage (known as free radicals).

It’s also reported to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties, as well as encouraging the death of cells that are dangerous or no longer needed by the body.

Curcumin has been widely studied in relation to numerous ailments, but what does the literature say? Is consuming turmeric beneficial?

For aches and pains
Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of numerous diseases such…

Sugarcoating can provide extra power to pneumonia vaccine (downtoearth)

We all know about sugar-coated pills but what about sugar-coated vaccines?

Sugars, for scientists, are fascinating since these are also found as protective sheaths on the surface of many bacteria and can induce protection against future bacterial infections when used as vaccines.

A group of scientists from Indian Institute of Technology at Tirupati, IIT Madras and Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, have developed a semi-synthetic vaccine against pneumonia causing bacteria using a combination of three different sugar molecules.

They have shown that when used in combination with the existing vaccine, Prevnar 13, the new concoction offers broader protection against more variants of the pneumonia causing bacteria, including the dangerous ST8 bacteria which causes severe lung infection and is resistant against common antibiotics. “Synthetic carbohydrate (sugar) vaccines represent a paradigm shift within vaccine research; they are more precise, effective …

Take note, Antarctica has huge waterfalls and they point to warming climate (downtoearth,)

From a collection of ponds to a seasonal river and a 400-ft-wide waterfall, Antarctica has it all. In fact, the continent has almost 700 seasonal networks of ponds, channels and streams flowing over the ice shelf from all sides. While water moving across the surface of Antarctica is considered extremely rare, a new study shows that this is widespread now.

This hitherto unknown fact emerged after scientists from the US and UK studied aerial photographs of the entire continent taken by military aircraft from 1947 and satellite images from 1973. According to Jonathan Kingslake, a glaciologist and the lead researcher, the meltwater systems are “very widespread, very large, and have persisted”. The study confirms that surface drainage has "persisted for decades, transporting water up to 120 kilometres from grounded ice onto and across ice shelves, feeding vast melt ponds up to 80 kilometres long".

Published in the journal Nature, the study sounded alarm: “In a warming climate, e…

Indian scientists convert wild legume into edible dal (downtoearth,)

A feat achieved by researchers in a Lucknow laboratory can help India overcome intermittent shortages in production of pulses or dals.

Scientists in the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have managed to knock off certain undesirable genetic material from a wild variety of legume crop making its grains edible and nutritive.

Winged beans (P. tetragonolobus), also called Goa beans, is a highly nutritious legume crop that normally grows wildly. It is also cultivated in a small way in western and northeastern parts of the country. Almost all parts of this plant – leaves, pods, seeds and tubers – are edible. As thenutrients this legume offers are very similar to those present in soybean, it is also billed as soybean of tropics.

Despite its high nutritional value, the legume is inedible beyond a limit. This is because a certain class of anti-nutrients called condensed tannins present in the pla…

As El Nino probability increases, uncertainty looms over Indian monsoon (downtoearth,)

The latest forecast of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), issued jointly by the NOAA Climate Prediction Centre and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, shows a dramatic increase in the probability of an earlier-than-expected El Nino, aggravating uncertainty over the Indian monsoon.

Earlier this month, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast a “normal” monsoon driven by a low probability of an El Nino occurrence as per climate models. The El Nino phase of the ENSO typically corresponds with a suppressed summer monsoon over the Indian sub-continent. The El Nino causes anomalous heating over the Pacific Ocean and Eastern Indian Ocean and weakens monsoonal winds that bring rain to the sub-continent.

According to early April conditions over the Pacific, the probability of the onset of El Nino during the monsoon months June-September was below 50 per cent. Even by the end of the year, models showed that likelihood of an El Nino developing barely to…

Racism and the reality in Japan (.hindu)

Keeping in mind the 2020 Olympics, Japan is beginning to address deep-rooted discrimination

In central Tokyo’s bustling neighbourhoods, it’s common to find signs outside establishments, from barber shops to taverns, stating: “Foreigners Welcome”. That these are necessary only highlights how there are places in Japan — guest houses, massage parlours, restaurants — where foreigners are unwelcome.

Justifications for barring entry to foreigners range from worries about communicating with non-Japanese speakers (although many foreigners do speak Japanese), to the notion that foreigners don’t know how to behave in Japanese settings (such as taking off their shoes and speaking softly). Some claim that the real aim of these restrictions is to keep large groups of loud-mouthed Chinese tourists from “spoiling” the atmosphere. Other foreigners are merely collateral damage.

Results of survey

A new survey carried out by Japan’s Justice Ministry reveals that nearly a third of foreign residents in J…

The climate fight is global (.hindu)

The Paris accord requires vigilance by all global actors in view of the U.S.’s changed stance on climate change

Farmers from Tamil Nadu were gathered in Delhi recently, carrying skulls, apparently belonging to those among them who had committed suicide. They were seeking government assistance following the worst drought in the State in recent times. Concurrently, there are several droughts in many other parts of the world, including Bolivia and several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Scorched lands have led to dying livestock, withering crops, and parched communities.

Several recent extreme events such as wildfires, droughts, severe heatwaves and cyclones in other places have a clear signature of a changing climate, but in many cases these are exacerbated by other institutional failures. None of this has, however, persuaded the present U.S. government that anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for climate change. The U.S. is still the world’s second largest annual emit…