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Showing posts from April 27, 2017

As wetlands in Kenya dry up, locals opt for alternative livelihood options (downtoearth,)

Economic and social wellbeing of most Kenyans are directly linked to the wetlands. They support key economic pillars—water services, agriculture and tourism. But the country’s lakes, ponds and swamps are shrinking.

Flash floods in Kenya have become common and lack of enough wetlands to hold back any massive overland flow is causing loss of property and damage to crops. The country is also experiencing severe water shortage that has damaged crops and left 2.6 million people in need of aid.

On both the occasions, Kenyans are feeling the absence of wetlands like lakes and floodplains that can safeguard communities against disasters by absorbing excess rainfall during floods and the stored water would be later available in times of drought.



But the increasing frequency of extreme weather events cannot be the only reason why Kenya's wetlands are under threat.

Human activities responsible for shrinking area of wetlands

During the current drought, farmers and herders are compelled to dr…

Scientists convert CO2 to solar fuel with artificial photosynthesis (downtoearth, )

Scientists can be called frontrunners in the battle against climate change, leading with clean technology innovations to reduce or combat carbon emissions. A scientist’s work on “artificial photosynthesis” is the latest effort in this direction.

Fernando Uribe-Romo of the University of Central Florida, along with his team, has created a way to trigger a chemical reaction in a synthetic material to use light and break down carbon dioxide. What’s more? The carbon dioxide is converted to solar fuel which can be used to produce electricity. This is similar to photosynthesis performed by plants where they convert carbon dioxide and water into food in the presence of sunlight.

Calling the project a breakthrough, researcher Uribe-Romo told Down To Earth, "It is very important that we develop technologies that can help natural photosynthesis to fixate carbon dioxide, because the current rate of emissions is larger than the rate of fixation through photosynthesis, resulting in accumulati…

Bittersweet feeling as Cassini mission embarks on its ‘grand finale’ ahead of death plunge (downtoearth,)

It’s the slow beginning of what will be a violent end for the Cassini mission. At 10.00 BST on April 26, the spacecraft became the first ever to dive between Saturn and its spectacular innermost ring. This marks the start of its “grand finale” consisting of 22 daring orbits – enabling a new era of science. Then, on September 15, it will crash into the planet’s atmosphere and burn up. It is sure to be a sad but proud moment for those of us who have worked on the mission. The Conversation

Cassini was initially set on its path to destruction on April 22 when it flew by Saturn’s moon Titan. The spacecraft has used Titan not just as a fascinating scientific target in itself, but also to provide the gravitational slingshots needed to tweak, crank and change its orbit. It is Titan that gave it the impetus to penetrate the 2,400km gap between the rings and the planet every week before the mission ends.

During the next few months, the instrument teams have several new observations to make in …

This Maharashtra village remains untouched by drought (downtoearth,)

Some 30-40 years ago, two villages in drought-prone southern Maharashtra came into the limelight for adopting simple water-harvesting techniques that turned around the fate of their residents. Ralegan Siddhi and Hiware Bazar lie in a rainshadow area in Ahmednagar. They faced severe water shortage in the late 1970s and 1980s and their fightback was even hailed by the government. But last summer, when the region was facing severe drought, Ralegan Siddhi had to again seek government help and ask for a supply of water tankers. Hiware Bazar, on the other hand, did just fine.

How did things fall apart at Ralegan Siddhi and how has Hiware Bazar managed to fulfil its water requirement? The most famous resident of Ralegan Siddhi, social activist Anna Hazare, who played a major role in the revival of the village, has the answer. Once Ralegan became water-secure, he says, village residents started growing crops of their choice and extracted water at a breakneck speed to improve productivity. Hi…

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 27 April 2017

Q.1- Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding tax payment in India?

1. Only 10 percent of Indian pay income tax
2. Since 2000-01 income tax collection in India has seen 9 fold rise
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None


Q.2- Trincomalee port has been in news recently, it is present in which of the following countries?

A. Afghanistan
B. Iran
C. Sri Lanka
D. Bangladesh


Q.3- Which of the following is correct regarding Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana?

1. It was launched by the Govt. of India to provide connectivity to unconnected Habitations
2. It is a program for the reduction of poverty
3. There are about 1.67 lakh Unconnected Habitations are eligible for coverage under the programme

A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 1 and 3 only. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answer 1-B,  2-C,  3-D

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 26 April 2017

Q1 - India's longest bridge would e constructed over which of the following river?

A. Ganga
B. Yamuna
C. Brahmaputra
D. Krishna
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Q2 - Which among the following is/ are correctly matched?

1. South Korea. -CEPA
2. ASEAN. - CECA
3. THAILAND. - PTA
A. 1 only
B. 1 and 2
C. 2 and 3
D. All
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Q3 - Which of the following correctly defines stressed assets?

A. NPA plus standard restructured advances
B. NPA minus standard restructured advances
C. NPA
D. None of the above
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 Answer  1-C,2-B,3-A

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 25 April 2017

Q.1- Which of the following is correct regarding United Nations Convention against Torture?

1. India is a signatory to United Nations Convention against Torture
2. Torture under this conventions may be used in dealing with war, threat of war
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None

Q.2- Consider the following statements about NASSCOM

1. NASSCOM organises the India Leadership Forum
2. Currently R. Chandrasekhar is the chairman of NASSCOM
Which of the above statements is/are true
A. only 1
B. only 2
C. Both 1 & 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3- Which of the following statements are correct regarding Central reserve police force?

1. Central Reserve Police Force came into existence as Crown Representative’s Police.
2. NSG, RAF and COBRA come under CRPF
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None
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Answer 1-A,2-A,3-A

The world is still flat (.hindu)

The IMF’s outlook for world economic growth exudes optimism, but it’s too early to celebrate

Cheer up, prospects for the world economy have improved. This seems to be the headline message from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (April 2017). However, the caveats to the message — or “downside risks” as the IMF puts it — are so many that any celebration would be premature.

The IMF sees world economic growth accelerating from 3.1% in 2016 to 3.5% in 2017, and 3.6% in 2018. Both advanced and emerging economies are poised to do better. Growth in advanced economies is projected to rise from 1.7% in 2016 to 2% in 2017 and 2018. Emerging markets will grow at 4.5% in 2017, and 4.8% in 2018, compared with growth of 4.1% in 2016.

China will see growth decelerating from 6.7% in 2016 to 6.6% and 6.2% in 2017 and 2018, respectively. India’s growth, in contrast, will accelerate from 6.8% in 2016 to 7.2% and 7.7% over the next two years.

Years of secular stagnation
These …

Navigating between friends (.hindu)

Any narrowing of the U.S.’s rhetoric-action deficit vis-à-vis Iran will impact India

Changes in the United States’ attitude to Iran could be very serious for India; among the issues involved are India’s access to Iranian oil supplies and other resources, the progressively more cordial relations between New Delhi and Washington, and India’s deepening defence relationship with Israel.

Upping the ante
The Trump administration is openly and consistently confrontational towards Iran, where President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama was firm but constructive. On April 18, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote to Congress — in the quarterly review Congress requires of the July 2015 international nuclear deal — that Iran continues to comply with the deal, but in the same letter he called Iran “a leading state sponsor of terror”. A day later, the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who has long been very hostile to Iran, accused it of attempting to “destabilise yet another co…

A stretched market: On Indian stock indices hitting a new peak (.hindu)

Investors stay put to drive a historic rally in the Indian bourses

The major Indian stock indices have rallied strongly despite lingering concerns over their historically rich valuations. Both the BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty reached all-time highs on Wednesday, up about 13% and 14%, respectively, since the beginning of 2017 and well above the performance of developed markets. The Sensex surpassed its previous high to end the day at 30,133 while the Nifty settled on a record closing high of 9,351. Investors have attributed the rally to the better-than-expected earnings results of blue-chip companies (like Reliance Industries Limited that posted record earnings this week), strong fund inflows from foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and the strengthening of the rupee. Waning concerns over the election results in France, U.S. President Donald Trump’s anticipated tax reforms, and the allaying of concerns about the long-term impact of demonetisation may have also helped fuel the rally. FI…