Current Affairs afor IAS Exams - 20 APRIL 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 APRIL 2019


::NATIONAL::

Study reveals higher proportion on antibacterial agents in Ganga

  • A study commissioned by the Union Water Resources Ministry to probe the “unique properties” of the Ganga found that the river water contains a significantly higher proportion of organisms with antibacterial properties.
  • The study, ‘ Assessment of Water Quality and Sediment To Understand Special Properties of River Ganga ,’ began in 2016 and was conducted by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), a CSIR lab.
  • The NEERI team was tasked with assessing the water quality for “radiological, microbiological and biological” parameters in the Bhagirathi (a feeder river of the Ganga) and the Ganga at 20 sampling stations.
  • As part of the assessment, five pathogenic species of bacteria (Escherichia, Enterobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio) were selected and isolated from the Ganga, Yamuna and the Narmada and their numbers compared with the bacteriophages present in the river water. Because bacteriophages are a kind of virus that kill bacteria, they are frequently found in proximity to each other.
  • Though it isn’t evident that there are bacteriophage species unique to the Ganga, the study suggests there are many more of them in the Ganga than in other rivers. Thus, samples drawn from the Ganga contained almost 1,100 kinds of bacteriophage, and proportionally there were less than 200 species detected in the samples obtained from the Yamuna and the Narmada.
  • However, these antibacterial properties varied widely along the length of the river. For instance, the stretch from Gomukh to Tehri had 33% more bacteriophage isolates than from Mana to Haridwar, and Bijnor to Varanasi. In the stretch from Patna to Gangasagar, the bacteriophages were only 60% of that in the Gomukh to Tehri stretch.

SC to consider victim’ age while computing compensation in cases

  • The Supreme Court has held that when a bachelor dies in a road accident, his age, and not that of his dependants, should be taken into consideration while computing compensation.
  • A Bench led by Justice S.A. Bobde was determining the question whether it was the age of the bachelor road accident victim or his dependants which should be taken in account for calculating the multiplier.
  • The court was hearing an appeal filed by the Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Ltd against a High Court ruling that the multiplier should be taken on the basis of the bachelor victim’s age.
  • Writing the verdict for the Bench, Justice Sanjay KishanKaul said when a married man dies in an accident, his age is taken to compute the loss and compensation to the family. So, why should the same principle not apply to a bachelor, who may also have people and family dependent on him?
  • “It is trite to say, and in fact conceded by the learned counsel for the insurance company, that in case the deceased is a married person, it is the age of the deceased which is to be taken into account.”
  • “The question is whether in case the deceased is a bachelor, a different principle for calculation of the multiplier should be applied by shifting the focus to the age of the claimants? We are of the view that the answer to this question should be in the negative,” the apex court concluded.
  • The judgment said that the focus for determination of an accident claim is the deceased and what would be his contribution towards the dependants had he been alive.

::ECONOMY::

Indian IT firms under threat of cyber attacks

  • India’s leading tech players may be under serious threat from cyber criminals, according to cybersecurity investigation website KrebsOnSecurity.com. The website is run by former Washington Post staffer and cybersecurity writer, Brian Krebs.
  • A fresh post on the website on Friday said the criminals responsible for launching phishing campaigns that netted dozens of employees and more than 100 computer systems last month at Wipro, India's third-largest IT outsourcing firm, also appear to have targeted a number of other competing providers, including Infosys and Cognizant, as per new evidence available with the website.
  • “The clues so far suggest the work of a fairly experienced crime group that is focussed on perpetrating gift card fraud,” the post by Mr. Krebs said, adding, “It appears the attackers in this case are targeting companies that in one form or another have access to either a tonne of third-party company resources, and/or companies that can be abused to conduct gift card fraud.’’
  • Responding to a query, Cognizant’s spokesperson from the U.S. told : “We are aware of reports that our company was among many other service providers and businesses whose email systems were targeted in an apparent criminal hacking scheme related to gift card fraud. Since the criminal activity first surfaced earlier this week and following reports that another service provider’s email system was allegedly compromised, Cognizant’s security experts took immediate and appropriate actions including initiating a review.”
  • Infosys, in a statement said: “Infosys would like to assure all our stakeholders that we have not observed any breach of our network based on our monitoring and threat intelligence. This has been ascertained through a thorough analysis of the indicators of compromise that we received from our threat intelligence partners.”

BBB identifies senior management personnel for PSB’s

  • The Banks Board Bureau (BBB), the apex body for selection of whole-time directors of state-owned lenders, has identified 75 senior management personnel of public sector lenders to take over leadership roles in the future.
  • From a pool of 450 senior management personnel across nationalised banks, an inaugural batch of about 75 personnel has been identified this year to help these banks take on the current and emerging challenges as well as help create a leadership pipeline, the Bureau said in its activity report for the October 2018-March 2019 period.
  • “They are presently undergoing deeper assessments after which individual development plans will be generated. Shortly, a globally-ranked Indian institution will be identified, where every year, the identified personnel will undergo intensive leadership development journey,” the Bureau said.
  • It has made a case for giving complete autonomy to banks to decide organisational structure for better efficiency.
  • The Bureau also suggested revamping the credit governance architecture in nationalised banks to reinforce efforts to minimise credit costs and enhance efficiency of credit allocation.
  • “Incentivise maximisation of risk-adjusted income and disincentivise operational inefficiencies by aligning compensation with right performance metrics through the introduction of performance-based compensation through Employee Stock Option Scheme, which is different from Employee Share Purchase Scheme, and Performance-Linked Incentives,” the Bureau said in its report.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

China claims differences with India not to affect BRI

  • China on Friday said its ties with India had a “bright future” and they were preparing for a summit between their leaders as a follow-up to last year’s two-day across-the board Wuhan informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister NarendraModi.
  • At a press conference on a three-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that begins on May 25, Chinese foreign minister and state councillor Wang Yi was emphatic that ties between India and China were insulated from their differences on the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • “The Indian side wants to put our differences at a proper level in order not to interfere in the proper development of our relations. This is in fundamental interest of the people of two countries and China is happy to see [that],” he noted.
  • China, he said, understood India’s “concerns” about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but counselled New Delhi not to view the project a flagship of the BRI as an infringement of its “sovereignty”.
  • India has slammed CPEC, stating that it was an affront to its sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • Mr. Wang contended that the CPEC did not “target any third country” and had “nothing to do with sovereign and territorial dispute left over from history between the two countries.
  • An “advisory council”, comprising eminent international personalities, had been formed to impart “high quality” to projects under the BRI banner. “To my knowledge, the advisory council will submit a policy suggestion report to the second forum, which contains many good suggestions. We welcome more constructive voices to the Belt and Road,” Mr. Wang observed.

Egypt votes to extend President Al Sisi’s tenure

  • Egyptians are voting in a referendum that aims to cement the rule of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former coup leader. The three-day plebiscite is expected to approve sweeping constitutional changes that will extend Sisi's term until at least 2024.
  • The amendments would allow Sisi, to run for another six-year term while boosting his control over the judiciary and giving the military even greater influence in political life. Egypt's parliament had already passed the proposed amendments.
  • Sisi overthrew Morsi in 2013 and the following year won his first term as president. He was re-elected in March 2018 with more than 97 per cent of the vote after standing virtually unopposed.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists detect the most ancient type of molecule

  • Scientists have detected the most ancient type of molecule in our universe in space for the first time ever.
  • Helium hydride ion (HeH+) was the first molecule that formed when, almost 14 billion years ago, falling temperatures in the young universe allowed recombination of the light elements produced in the Big Bang.
  • At that time, ionised hydrogen and neutral helium atoms reacted to form HeH+, said researchers from The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Germany.
  • Despite its importance in the history of the early Universe, HeH+ has so far escaped detection in astrophysical nebulae cloud of gas and dust in outer space.
  • Operating the GREAT far-infrared spectrometer onboard the flying observatory SOFIA, an international team reported unambiguous detection of the molecule towards the planetary nebula NGC 7027.
  • The detection of this special molecule brings a long search to a happy ending, and eliminates doubts that we might not understand the underlying formation and destruction as well as we thought, researchers said.

::SPORTS::

MirabhaiChanu to spearhead India’s campaign at Asian weightlifting championship

  • Former World Champion, MirabaiChanu will spearhead India’s challenge at the Asian Weightlifting Championship, 2019 that begins at Ningbo, China today.
  • Chanu will be competing in the 49kg category from 48kg following the International Weightlifting Federations’s rejig of weight categories. She has made a strong comeback after having suffered a lower-back injury that kept her out of action for nearly nine months. She will have potent competitors.
  • Among male weightlifters, India’s hopes will be on Jeremy Lalrinnunga, the gold medallist at the Youth Olympic Games. Commonwealth Games champion, SathishSivalingam has pulled out owing to performance troubles.

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