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05 April Current Affairs

Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards

In News:

Vice President recently conferred around 100 ‘President’s Certificate of Honour’ and ‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards to scholars in Classical Languages.

About ‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards:

The Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman distinction is conferred on persons in recognition of their substantial contribution in the field of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam.

  • Introduced in the year 2002.
  • Given to selected young scholars in the age group of 30 to 45 years.
  • Carries a certificate of honour, a memento and a one-time cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.

Who was Maharshi Badrayan?

He was an Indian philosopher about whom almost no personal details are reliably known.

Badarayana is regarded as having written the basic text of the Vedanta system, the Vedāntasūtra a.k.a. Brahmasūtra. He is thus considered the founder of the Vedānta system of philosophy.

The date of Badarayana and his Brahma Sutras is uncertain. Different scholars have dated the Brahma Sutras variously from 500 BCE to 450 BCE.

World Health Day

In News:

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. This year’s World Health Day will focus on equity and solidarity.

Theme of World Health Day 2019:

Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.

Background:

From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

What is Universal health coverage?

Universal health coverage (UHC) is about ensuring all people and communities have access to quality health services where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

It includes the full spectrum of services needed throughout life—from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care—and is best based on a strong primary health care system.

Achieving UHC is one of the key targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Asian Development Outlook 2019

In News:

ADB publishes Asian Development Outlook 2019.

Key findings:

Growth in developing Asia is projected to soften to 5.7% in 2019 and 5.6% in 2020. Excluding Asia’s high-income newly industrialized economies, growth is expected to slip from 6.4% in 2018 to 6.2% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020.

Since oil prices rose and Asian currencies depreciated, inflation edged up last year but remained low by historical standards. In light of stable commodity prices, inflation is anticipated to remain subdued at 2.5% in both 2019 and 2020.

Only 20 of 45 individual economies are projected to see growth accelerate in 2019.

By sub-region, aggregate growth rates in Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia are expected to decelerate, while South Asia and the Pacific will bounce back from slowdown in 2018.

In East Asian economy growth in East Asia decelerated by 0.2% to 6.0% in 2018, weighed down by weakening external trade and moderating investment in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) but sustained by resilient domestic consumption.

India’s position:

Growth rate: India’s growth forecast is cut to 7.2% for 2019-20 because of a slower-than-expected pickup in investment demand. The growth rate in Financial Year 2020-21 is likely to be 7.3%.

Recovery may be due to– agriculture and stronger domestic demand, improved health of banks and corporations and implementation of a value-added tax.

The inflation is expected to average around 4% in the first half of FY2019, and therefore the Reserve Bank would have some room for lowering policy rates further increasing credit.

About ADB:

The Asian Development Bank was conceived in the early 1960s as a financial institution that would be Asian in character and foster economic growth and cooperation in one of the poorest regions in the world.

It assists its members, and partners, by providing loans, technical assistance, grants, and equity investments to promote social and economic development.

  • Established on 19 December 1966.
  • Headquartered — Manila, Philippines.
  • Official United Nations Observer.

Voting rights:

It is modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.

Japan > United States > China > India >Australia

Source: The Hindu

Hawking’s Theory for Source of Dark Matter ruled out

In News:

A group of scientists have ruled out Stephen Hawking’s theory for mysterious dark matter.

Details:

Stephen Hawking proposed a theory that primordial black holes are a source of dark matter. He computed that the mass of the primordial black holes could range from as low as one-hundredth of a milligram to as high as more than the mass of a thousand Suns.

What are primordial black holes?

Two Soviet physicists, Yakov Borisovich Zel’dovich and Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov, showed that at the initial instant of the big bang, the densities would have been very high at many points, resulting in the formation of small black holes. They were named `primordial black holes’.

Are they visible?

Black holes are not radiant and will not be visible through any telescope. However, as first suggested by Albert Einstein, if by chance, a tiny primordial black hole eclipses a distant star, light rays of the star will bend around the black hole due to gravitational effect, resulting in the star appearing to be brighter than it originally is for a short while. Called `gravitational lensing’, this rare phenomena can occur only when the star, the black hole and the observer on the Earth are aligned in a straight line.

When the black hole is in alignment with a distant star, due to gravitational attraction, light rays are bent inwards like a lens, making the star appear brighter.

Latest findings:

The research team used the Hyper Suprime-Cam on the Japanese Subaru Telescope located in Hawaii to look for any tell-tale evidence of primordial black holes between Earth and Andromeda galaxy using gravitational lensing technique.

For one whole night, the research team took 190 consecutive images of Andromeda galaxy. If the Universe is filled with invisible teeny weeny primordial black holes, with masses lighter than the moon, as postulated by Stephen Hawking, then the team should have seen at least 1,000 gravitational lensing events. However, they were able to see at most one such candidate event, if not none. This implies Prof Stephen Hawking’s theory that such black holes make up all of dark matter is wrong.

What is dark matter?

In most galaxies, the stars closer to the centre and the stars at the edge of the galaxies take almost same time to make one revolution. This implied that something invisible and enveloping the galaxies was giving an extra push to the outer stars, speeding them up. This entity has remained as one of the central unresolved puzzles in cosmology since 1930s. It is named `Dark Matter’.

The material is considered to be a ‘matter’ since it appears to have gravitational attraction and it is ‘dark’ because it does not seem to interact with light (or for that matter any part of the electromagnetic spectrum).

Composition: Almost 85% of the total mass of the Universe is composed of dark matter.

Source: The Hindu

State of Global Air-2019 Report

In News:

Two US based institutes Health Effects Institute (HEI) and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) recently released a detailed report on quality of the global air with title, “State of Global Air-2019”.

General observations:

In 2017, exposure to PM 2.5 pollution was found to be the third leading risk factor globally for Type 2 diabetes.

The economic costs of diabetes are substantial — estimated as 1.8% of worldwide gross domestic product in 2015 and pose a growing challenge to health care systems in countries at all levels of development.

Type 2 Diabetes represents a substantial, growing, and costly health burden. In 2017, the disease accounted for more than 1 million deaths globally and burdens have increased by 175% and 141%, respectively, since 1990.

There is a strong inverse relationship between a country’s level of social and economic development and the PM2.5 exposures experienced by its population; that is, less developed countries suffer PM2.5 exposures that are four to five times those of more-developed countries.

In 2017, annual PM2.5 exposures were highest in South Asia, where Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan had the highest exposures. Bhutan’s exposure level was the lowest in the region but was still above WHO’s first interim target.

The 10 countries with the lowest national PM2.5 exposure levels were the Maldives, United States, Norway, Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Brunei, and Finland.

Ozone pollution is a continuing challenge in more developed countries and is increasing in less developed areas, posing new air quality concerns.

Air pollution collectively reduced life expectancy by 1 year and 8 months on average worldwide, a global impact rivaling that of smoking. This means a child born today will die 20 months sooner, on average, than would be expected in the absence of air pollution.

Key findings- India specific:

India and China are collectively accounted for more than 50% of global 5 million deaths due to air pollution.

Major PM2.5 sources in India include household burning of solid fuels; dust from construction, roads, and other activities; industrial and power plant burning of coal; brick production; transportation; and diesel-powered equipment.

An estimated 846 million people in India (60% of the population) and 452 million people in China (32% of the population) were exposed to household air pollution in 2017.

What has India done to reduce household emission?

A sweeping government effort seeks to shift more households to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of biomass fuels. While many families can afford subsidized LPG fuel, the fee for installing a household LPG hookup can be prohibitive. The government initiative, known as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), provided LPG connections to 35 million poor families free of charge between 2016 and early 2018 and aims to provide 80 million connections by 2020.

Source: The Hindu

Global Cooling Coalition

In News:

The first-ever global coalition on clean and efficient cooling was launched at the recently held First Global Conference on Synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Key facts:

The Global Cool Coalition is a unified front that links action across the Kigali Amendment, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

Objective: It is expected to inspire ambition, identify solutions and mobilise action to accelerate progress towards clean and efficient cooling.

Supporters: Besides the UN, it is supported by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

Composition: It includes government officials from Chile, Rwanda, Denmark as well as leaders from civil society, research and academia.

Why do we need it?

Throughout the world, 2018 was the fourth hottest year, preceded by 2017, 2015 and 2016. With increasing incomes and urbanisation, number of air conditioning units across the globe is set to increase from 1.2 billion to 4.5 billion by 2050, and India alone may account for one billion units.

In the next 20 years, India’s cooling requirement will increase by eight times, with air conditioners alone consuming more than half of the total energy required for cooling in the country by 2037-38. India has already developed a national cooling action plan that was launched by the Union environment ministry on March 8, 2019.

Source: Down to Earth

GIAN Program

In News:

The National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, had launched a programme under the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education, aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs.

Details:

Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education was launched in 2015. It is a program of Ministry of Human Resource and Development.

Aim: GIAN aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms, and further strengthen India’s scientific and technological capabilities.

GIAN is envisaged to achieve the following objectives:

  • To increase the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes.
  • Provide opportunity to our faculty to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas.
  • To provide opportunity to our students to seek knowledge and experience from reputed International faculty.
  • To create avenue for possible collaborative research with the international faculty.
  • Develop high quality course material in niche areas, both through video and print that can be used by a larger body of students and teachers.
  • To document and develop new pedagogic methods in emerging topics of national and international interest.

Source: The Hindu

Zayed medal

In News:

UAE awards PM Narendra Modi with Highest Civilian Honour. PM Modi has been awarded in recognition of efforts in giving “a big boost” to bilateral relations between both the countries.

Details:

The ‘Order of Zayed’ is the highest civil decoration instituted by the UAE.

‘Zayed’ is the founding father of the United Arab Emirates.

It is awarded to Heads of Government/Head of State for their international relations with UAE.

Bejjur vultures

They are also known as longbilled vultures (Gyps indicus). It is the smallest of the vultures.

Feed exclusively on carrion, and mainly remains of cattle.

Breed in colonies.

Listed under the ‘critically endangered’ category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Vulnerable to poisoning by Diclofenac.

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