09 April Current Affairs
April 9, 2019
11 April Current Affairs
April 11, 2019
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10 April Current Affairs

‘Veer Parivar App’

In News:

President Ram Nath Kovind recently launched ‘Veer Parivar App’, a mobile application for families of CRPF personnel killed in the line of duty.

Details:

The application will act as an interface between the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) authorities and the next of kin of the slain personnel.

It will render all assistance to the families of the martyred CRPF personnel with regard to issuance of ex gratia, pensionary benefits and all information regarding the welfare schemes introduced for them by the government.

The assistance will be provided to the families on a real-time basis. The CRPF headquarters in Delhi and various group centres across the country will respond to these issues.

The Android-based app will be installed by the force’s officials securely on the phone of the families and will not be available over the app stores.

VVPAT

In News:

The Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to increase the random matching of paper trail machine slips with EVM results from one to five polling booths in each assembly segment for the multiphase Lok Sabha polls. The move is aimed at bringing more “credibility” and “integrity” to the electoral process.

Details:

The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail is a method that provides feedback to voters.

It is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines.

It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.

How do VVPAT machines work?

When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT.

The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate.

It allows the voter to verify his/her choice. After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard.

VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.

VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip dropped in a box but the voter cannot take it home.

Advantages in VVPATs:

Enables to verify vote: Instant feedback to voter that vote polled has been allocated to the intended candidate.

Enables authorities to count the votes manually if there is a dispute in the electronically polled votes.

Operates under a Direct Recording Election system (DRE) which detects fraud and existent malfunctions.

Will ensure greater transparency in voting process.

Gives both the voters and political parties an assurance.

Source: The Hindu

Currency chest

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued guidelines for banks to set up new currency chests.

The guidelines:

Area of the strong room/ vault of at least 1,500 sq ft. For those situated in hilly/ inaccessible places, the strong room/ vault area of at least 600 sq ft.

The new chests should have a processing capacity of 6.6 lakh pieces of banknotes per day. Those situated in the hilly/ inaccessible places, a capacity of 2.1 lakh pieces of banknotes per day.

The currency chests should have Chest Balance Limit (CBL) of Rs 1,000 crore, subject to ground realities and reasonable restrictions, at the discretion of the Reserve Bank.

What are Currency chests?

Currency chests are branches of selected banks authorised by the RBI to stock rupee notes and coins.

Who determines the number of notes and coins to be printed?

The responsibility for managing the currency in circulation is vested in the RBI.

The central bank advises the Centre on the number of notes to be printed, the currency denominations, security features and so on. The number of notes that need to be printed is determined using a statistical model that takes the pace of economic growth, rate of inflation and the replacement rate of soiled notes.

The Government has, however, reserved the right to determine the amount of coins that have to be minted.

Role of currency chests:

The RBI offices in various cities receive the notes from note presses and coins from the mints. These are sent to the currency chests and small coin depots from where they are distributed to bank branches.

The RBI has set up over 4,075 currency chests all over the country. Besides these, there are around 3,746 bank branches that act as small coin depots to stock small coins.

Source: The Hindu

Press Council guidelines to media on poll reporting

In News:

The Press Council of India has issued new guidelines, urging the media to do objective reporting on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and cautioning it against the phenomenon of paid news.

Key Guidelines:

While reporting on the actual campaign, a newspaper may not leave out any important point raised by a candidate and make an attack on his or her opponent.

The press should avoid reports which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the grounds of region, religion, race, caste, community or language.

The press should refrain from publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature or withdrawal of any candidate or candidature, to prejudice the prospects of that candidate in the elections.

The media shall not publish unverified allegations against any candidate or party.

It should guard against paid news, which it defined as any news or analysis appearing in any form of media, print or electronic, for a price in cash or kind as consideration.

The authorities should notify rules and orders regulating the entry of the media persons to places of election and the cut-off date for applying for passes should be given due and advance publicity.

Whenever the newspapers publish pre-poll surveys, they should take care to preface them conspicuously by indicating the institutions that have carried on such surveys, the individuals and organisations that have commissioned them, the size and nature of sample selected and the method of selection of the sample for the findings.

Way ahead:

Newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports about any candidate or party during the elections. It will be the duty of the press to give objective reports about the election and the candidates.

Source: The Hindu

New state of matter

In News:

Scientists have found a new state of physical matter recently. The new state is solid and liquid at the same time. Atoms can exist as both solid and liquid simultaneously.

The state is known as the chain melted state.

Details:

When applying high pressures and temperatures to potassium, a simple metal; it creates a state in which most of the element’s atoms form a solid lattice structure. However, some elements can, when subjected to extreme conditions, take on the properties of both solid and liquid states. Researchers have shown that this unusual but stable state is part solid and part liquid.

What causes this?

Applying pressure to the atoms leads to the formation of two interlinked solid lattice structures. Chemical interactions between atoms in one lattice are strong, meaning they stay in a solid form when the structure is heated, while the other atoms melt into a liquid state. Under the right conditions, over half a dozen elements, including sodium and bismuth are thought to be capable of existing in the newly discovered state.

Source: The Hindu

World Bank report on remittances

In News:

World Bank has released its Migration and Development Brief.

Key findings- India specific:

India is positioned as the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending USD 79 billion back home in 2018. The remittances in 2018 grew by over 14 percent in India.

India managed to retain its top spot in remittances by registering a significant flow of remittances from USD 62.7 billion in 2016 to USD 65.3 billion 2017 and to USD 79 billion in 2018, a significant growth over the last three years.

Natural disasters like Kerala floods likely boosted the financial help that migrants sent to their families.

Global findings:

The remittances to low-and middle-income countries reached a record high of USD 529 billion in 2018, an increase of 9.6 percent from USD 483 billion in 2017.

Global remittances, including flows to high-income countries, reached USD 689 billion in 2018, up from USD 633 billion in 2017. The overall increase in remittances regionally was driven by a stronger economy and employment situation in the United States and outward flows from few Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation.

Source: The Hindu

CRISPR Technology

In News:

For the first time, four lizards have been genetically modified using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool.

Key facts:

Researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) were able to target the pigmentation genes of Anolis sagrei lizards to create four albino offspring.

The team specifically targeted the tyrosinase gene and successfully injected the gene editing solution into 146 oocytes.

Albinism is a trait inherited from both parents and in this study, the researchers found that the CRISPR protein targeted the tyrosinase protein from both the mother and father of the offspring which means that the CRISPR solution was active long after fertilization.

What are Genes and what is gene- editing?

Genes contain the bio-information that defines any individual. Physical attributes like height, skin or hair colour, more subtle features and even behavioural traits can be attributed to information encoded in the genetic material.

An ability to alter this information gives scientists the power to control some of these features. Gene “editing” — sometimes expressed in related, but not always equivalent, terms like genetic modification, genetic manipulation or genetic engineering — is not new.

What is CRISPR-Cas9?

The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.

CRISPR technology is basically a gene-editing technology that can be used for the purpose of altering genetic expression or changing the genome of an organism. The technology can be used for targeting specific stretches of an entire genetic code or editing the DNA at particular locations.

Significance:

CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.

How it works?

CRISPR-Cas9 technology behaves like a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands that contain genetic information.

The specific location of the genetic codes that need to be changed, or “edited”, is identified on the DNA strand, and then, using the Cas9 protein, which acts like a pair of scissors, that location is cut off from the strand. A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself.

Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process, supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes that binds itself with the broken DNA strand.

Concerns:

Tampering with the genetic code in human beings is more contentious. Leading scientists in the field have for long been calling for a “global pause” on clinical applications of the technology in human beings, until internationally accepted protocols are developed.

Issues:

Study by Stanford University, U.S., found that the CRISPR-Cas9 system introduces unexpected off-target (outside of the intended editing sites) effects in mice. The fear that the CRISPR system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use lingers. Three recent reports have exacerbated this fear even further.

Studies highlighted that CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer.

May increase the risk of mutations elsewhere in the genome in those cells.

Although, CRISPR-Cas9 technology has been successfully used to cure several diseases however, it remains many things are not clear like how we should determine which disease or traits are appropriate for gene editing.

Ethical concerns: In addition, there are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest.

Way ahead:

This CRISPR technology is indeed a path-breaking technology, to alter genes in order to tackle a number of conventional and unconventional problems, especially in the health sector. However, experiments and tests to validate its use must be subjected to appropriate scrutiny by the regulators, and their use must be controlled to prevent commercial misuse.

Source: ToI

‘Bold Kurukshetra 2019’

In News:

12th edition of ‘Bold Kurukshetra 2019’, a India- Singapore joint military exercise, began at Babina Cantonment, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh.

Details:

The Exercise is aimed at attaining a high level of interoperability between the armies of both the nations through mutual understanding and familiarisation with each other’s operational procedures and equipment.

Sri Lanka opens China-financed railway line

In News:

Sri Lanka has opened a new railway line, built with China’s assistance, connecting its coastal city of Matara and Beliatta in Hambantota, a move that will boost passenger traffic into the island nation’s deep south.

Details:

The 26.75-km long Matara-Beliatta railway extension is the first to be constructed in Sri Lanka since 1948, and it passes through the country’s longest and second-longest railway bridges.

 

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