CAO Weekly News Roundup- November WEEK -04

 WTO: India resolute on food security {Health Issue}


In news

At the upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) highest decision-making body, India will not agree to severe restrictions on its right to give price subsidies to farmers through the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to procure grains from them for food security purposes.

Peace Clause

It is available to developing nations, including India, till a permanent solution is found to public stockholding for food security purposes.

‘Peace Clause’ can be used only for public stockholding programmes that have been in existence on the date at which it was agreed upon at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, and not for new programmes on public stockholding for food security purposes.


M-STRIPES {Biodiversity}


Recently M-STRIPS has been in news because the Chief conservator of forests, Sanjeev Gaur, on Tuesday suspended forester ST Uikey on charges of corruption in the case related to the poisoning of two tigers.

  • M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) is an app developed by Wildlife Institute of India.
  • The app will be used for the first time in All India Tiger estimation.
  • It is already in place in some national parks but it has been made mandatory for the fourth All-India Tiger estimation.
  • It is expected that the app would ensure more robust estimate by eliminating human errors in the survey.

The system consists of two components

  • Field based protocols for patrolling, law enforcement, recording wildlife crimes and ecological monitoring,
  • A customized software for storage, retrieval, analysis and reporting. Currently law enforcement and ecological monitoring are being done, but the information generated is ad hoc and rarely available in a format for informed decision making.

How it works?

MSTrIPES produces easily interpretable reports and maps that are useful for management and policy decisions. If implemented as designed, the system reduces the response time to detrimental events like poaching or habitat degradation and becomes a comprehensive tool to keep the pulse of a tiger reserve


 Indian Emerald Dragonfly {Biodiversity}


  • It is a rare variety of dragonfly known to exist only in the Travancore hills of Kerala.Image result for Emerald Dragonfly 
  • It made a dramatic reappearance 83 years, as it was sighted in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) during an odonata survey.
  • Odonata is an order of carnivorous insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies.
  • It lives around forest streams and micro habitat near high altitude areas.
  • It is easy to spot because it flies irregularly over the water body for nearly an hour
  • Thus it acts as an indicator of the health of water bodies inside sanctuaries and reserves.
  • If a particular habitat is disturbed by pollution, the species won’t be able to survive.

Indian Railways Unveils New ‘Swarn’ Rajdhani Coaches {Development}


It was launched by the Railway Ministry to renovate India’s premium trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi.

  • The first revamped rake of Rajdhani under the project was launched recently

Highlights

  • Under the project, the Indian Railways will focus attention on 10 key areas — punctuality, cleanliness, linen, coach interiors, toilets, catering, staff behaviour, security, entertainment, housekeeping and regular feedback.
  • The plan will be upgraded in future with services like Wi-Fi, infotainment screens (that were first provided in Tejas Express) and coffee vending machines.
  • The modified trains will also have improved coach interiors, better furnishing and new comfortable seats. Trolley service for catering, uniformed staff, and on-board entertainment are some of the changes slated to be introduced in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains from October this year.
  • Targeting the festive season which begins from October, railways have launched a three-month programme under Project Swarn (gold) to refurbish coach interiors, improving toilets and cleanliness in coaches.

 Worldwide increase in methane bubbles due to climate change {Environment}


  •  Shallow lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands are relevant in the context of climate change.
  •  They are responsible for much of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  •  An important part of these emissions is caused by bubbles filled with methane gas that develop in the sediment at the bottom of these water bodies.
  •  When the bubbles reach the surface, the gas enters the atmosphere.
  •  Nutrient-rich sediments produce more methane than nutrient-poor sediments.

 Solution

One possibility for reducing methane production is therefore to make sure that sediments have fewer nutrients, which means using less fertilizer

If we emit less greenhouse gas and the temperature drops, we gain a bonus in the form of less methane production. This bonus from nature should be our motivation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even further.


 Turning CO2 emissions into fuel {Environment}


In news

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new system that could potentially be used for converting power plant emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful fuel for cars, trucks and planes.

Technology

Made of lanthanum, calcium, and iron oxide, the membrane is designed to separate out oxygen from carbon dioxide, leaving behind carbon monoxide that can then be turned into a variety of useful fuels.

Carbon monoxide produced during this process can be used as a fuel by itself or combined with hydrogen and/or water to make many other liquid hydrocarbon fuels as well as chemicals including methanol (used as an automotive fuel), syngas, and so on.

Why it was required?

With concentrations of CO2 at their highest in the last 400,000 years, the world needs to remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere – as well as cut emissions – if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Although nature has been recycling carbon dioxide for millions of years. Photosynthesis turns sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugars which fuel plants, which provide us with food, wood and complex sugars for fuel. But most plants turn less than 1% of the solar energy they receive into useful energy-rich compounds.

Highlights

The separation is driven by temperatures of up to 990 degrees Celsius, and the key to making the process work is to keep the oxygen that separates from carbon dioxide flowing through the membrane until it reaches the other side.

This could be done by creating a vacuum on side of the membrane opposite the carbon dioxide stream, but that would require a lot of energy to maintain.

In place of a vacuum, the researchers use a stream of fuel such as hydrogen or methane. These materials are so readily oxidized that they will actually draw the oxygen atoms through the membrane without requiring a pressure difference.


Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) {Education}


In news

The HEFA Board had held its 2nd meeting today and approved projects for Rs. 2,066.73 Cr for six institutions – IITs Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur and NIT Suratkal.

These funds would be used to improve the research infrastructure in these institutions to further improve their standing at the global level.

HEFA would also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis


 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) {I.R.}


It is the preeminent annual entrepreneurship gathering that convenes emerging entrepreneurs, investors and supporters from around the world. GES 2017 will create an environment that empowers innovators, particularly women, to take their ideas to the next level.

Through two and a half days of networking, mentoring, and workshops, GES empowers entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas, build partnerships, secure funding, innovate, and find their target customers  creating new goods and services that will transform societies.

Background

It was started by U.S. government in 2010.

It serves as a vital link between governments and the private sector and convenes global participants to showcase projects, network, exchange ideas and champion new opportunities for investment.

GES-2017, Hyderabad

In partnership with the Government of the United States of America, NITI Aayog was proud to host the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India from November 28-30, 2017.

  • It is the eighth annual GES summit.
  • It is the first GES summit being held in South Asia.
  • Since 2010, it has been hosted by Kenya, Morocco, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and last year it was held in Silicon Valley in the US.

THIS YEAR’S THEME: WOMEN FIRST, PROSPERITY FOR ALL

The main focus will be on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally.

 Areas of focus

  • Energy and Infrastructure
  • Healthcare and Life Sciences
  • Financial Technology and Digital Economy
  • Media and Entertainment

 Telecom regulator backs Net neutrality {Digitalization}


In news

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday recommended upholding the basic principle of net neutrality by keeping the Internet open and prohibiting any service provider from discriminating on the basis of content by either blocking, throttling, or “fast-laning” any apps, websites or web services.

Recommendations

  • Trai’s recommendation comes days after United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC)led by Ajit Pai suggested plans to scrap landmark 2015 rules intended to ensure a free and open internet.
  • The licensing terms should be amplified to provide explicit restrictions on any sort of discrimination in Internet access based on the content being assessed, the protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed. Content would include all content, application, services and any other data, including its end-point information, that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet.
  • Violations of the net neutrality principle will be punishable by penalties that apply to breach of licensing conditions, which will be suitably amended, Sharma said.
  • Net neutrality implies that telecom service providers must treat all internet traffic equally,without any regard to the type, origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission.
  • Trai’s recommendations will now be vetted by the department of telecommunications (DoT)and after its approval, changes with effect to the licence agreements of telecom firms will be made to accommodate net neutrality.

READ MORE…………….


 Indians willing to pay $220b to avoid pollution mortality {Environment}


In news

India’s estimated cost of health impact due to air pollution is a staggering $220 billion (Rs 1417k crore) – one of the highest in the world, said a new UN report.

  • The theme of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly is ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’.
  • In line with this theme, UNEP has prepared an official report on pollution.
  • The background report was released during the first Conference of Parties for the Minamata Convention (held in September this year) and ahead of the annual U.N. Environment Assembly (to be held in early December).

Findings of the report

  • Rise in global mortality cost: The global mortality costs from outdoor air pollution are projected to rise to about $25 trillion by 2060 in the absence of more stringent measures..
  • Countries with highest share: In 2016, at regional and national scale, China’s welfare costs from mortality were the highest at nearly $1 trillion followed by the Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) countries with a combined total of $730 billion.
  • Take-make-dispose: If consumption and production patterns continue as they are, the linear economic model of ‘take-make-dispose’ will seriously burden an already-polluted planet, affecting current and future generations.
  • Reduction in certain forms of pollution: Certain forms of pollution have been reduced as technologies and management strategies have got advanced but there is a need to do more.

 India specific findings

  • As per the report, India had the highest share of welfare costs (or a loss of income from labour) of about $220 billion in South and South-East Asia from mortality due to air pollution.
  • Combined total cost of South and South-East Asia is of $380 billion.

 Meisenheimer complex {Science & Tech}


In news

A chemical compound (Meisenheimer complex) synthesised through a simple, single-step process of mixing two chemicals at room temperature has been found to be highly effective in removing fluoride and metal ions such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, and iron from drinking water.

Key Points

  • The compound repels water by nature.
  • A polystyrene sponge that absorbs water became a water-repelling material when coated with the compound and was able to absorb a wide variety of oils and organic solvents from water.
  • The compound has negative and positive charged parts and this helps it absorb metal ion pollutants and fluoride from water
  • One gram of the compound was able to remove a large amount of lead (817 mg) and mercury (830 mg) from water and nearly half its weight of copper (451 mg) and iron (511 mg),
  • In the case of fluoride, water with a high concentration of fluoride (10 ppm) was treated with the compound. After 10 minutes of treatment, the fluoride concentration dropped to 10 ppb.

How Minerals Affect Water Supplies

High concentrations of total dissolved solids can cause water to taste bad, forcing consumers to use other water sources.  Highly mineralized water also deteriorates plumbing and appliances.

Waters containing more than 500 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of dissolved solids should not be used if other less mineralized supplies are available.  This does not mean that any water in excess of 500 mg/l is unusable.

Arsenic and fluoride: Two major ground water pollutants


 Mamallapuram Stone Sculptures {Art & Culture}


In news

Mamallapuram, some 60 km from Chennai, a living testimony to the creativity of Pallava-era sculptors, remains an abode of artists who work their magic in stone. Recently, their work got the Geographical Indication tag for its intricate designing and fine chiselling.

Highlights

  • The exquisite rock-sculpting techniques exhibited in Mamallapuram date back to early 7th century CE.
  • The Pallava dynasty, which ruled the area between 6 and 9th centuries A.D., is responsible for the development of port town as a centre of art and architecture.
  • Mahendravarman (AD 580-630), his son Narasimhavarman I Mamalla (AD 630-668), Paramesvaravarman (A.D. 672-700) and Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha (A.D. 700-728) had contributed the most of sculptures.
  • Mamallapuram was named after the king Narasimhavarma Pallava, who was also known as Mamallan (great wrestler).
  • Sculptors use blue metal for stone sculptors instead of granite which has high density and very costly.

 

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