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12 November Current Affairs

UNESCO Asia-Pacific award for conservation

In News:

UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation have been announced.

Various awardees:

Award of Distinction: Restoration of LAMO Center from a state of partial ruin in Ladakh.

Honourable Mention: Rejuvenation of iconic Rajabai Clock Tower and Ruttonsee Muljee Jetha Fountain in Mumbai, along with a project in China.

Award of Excellence: Shijo-cho Ofune-hoko Float Machiya, of Kyoto, Japan.

New Design in Heritage Contexts: Kaomai Estate 1955, Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Harts Mill, Port Adelaide, (Australia).

Facts for Prelims:

Mumbai has won 19 recognitions since the inception of the awards in 2000 – the most for any city in India.

About the award:

Launched in 2000, Unesco Asia-Pacific awards for cultural heritage conservation programme is aimed at acknowledging the efforts taken to restore and conserve historical structures without affecting their heritage value in the region comprising 48 countries.

The awards are classified under four categories — Award of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Awards of Merit and Award for New Design in Heritage Context.

They are being given to encourage the efforts of all stakeholders and the public in conserving and promoting monuments and religious institutes with rich heritage in the Asia-Pacific region.

Source: PIB

Competition Commission of India

In News:

Ashok Kumar Gupta has been appointed as the chairperson of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). It was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

About Competition Commission Of India:

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.

The following are the objectives of the Commission:

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • To ensure freedom of trade.

Functions of the commission:

It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.

The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

The Competition Act:

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

Source: The Hindu

National body set up to study Monogenic diabetes

In News:

A National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed to identify cases of monogenic diabetes across the country. Supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC) will be the national coordinating centre for the study group.

What is Monogenic Diabetes?

Monogenic diabetes is a group of disorders where mutation of a single gene causes diabetes; the three commonest forms being – Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY), Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus (NDM) and Congenital Hypoglycaemia.

Factors of Monogenic diabetes:

Monogenic diabetes is usually passed on in an autosomal dominant gene, (a sex independent gene that’s inherited from one of the parents). This means only one copy of the mutation is needed to develop diabetes.

There is usually a strong family history of diabetes and in multiple generations, (although it’s possible for someone to have a spontaneous mutation). Diagnosis, therefore, involves genetic testing for these diabetes-causing gene mutations that disrupt insulin production.

Monogenic diabetes patients are also usually antibody negative, (though there are cases where low levels of antibodies have been detected). Once treatment for the diabetes begins, the antibodies usually resolve.

In addition to blood sugar issues, some of the forms of Monogenic diabetes involve metabolic issues such as:

  • Growth problems.
  • Impaired glycogen storage in the liver.
  • Impaired fatty acid metabolism.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Source: The Hindu

INSPIRE 2018

In News:

The second edition of International Symposium to Promote Innovation & Research in Energy Efficiency (INSPIRE) is being held in New Delhi. The symposium will focus on enhancing grid management, e-Mobility, financial instruments and technologies for energy efficiency in India.

About INSPIRE 2018:

INSPIRE 2018 has been organised in collaboration with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI).

The event is bringing together policy-makers, influencers, innovators, thought leaders, researchers, leading energy-efficient companies, government agencies, business leaders and other stakeholders to deliberate on key energy policies, market transformation strategies, and sustainable business models that will help leverage the full potential of energy efficiency and bring its multiple co-benefits to the fore.

About Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund (EERF):

Alongside, to support investments in new, innovative and scalable business models, EESL and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed an agreement for a Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant of USD 13 million to establish an Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund (EERF).

EERF aims to expand and sustain investments in the energy efficiency market in India, build market diversification, and scale up existing technologies.

About EESL:

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India, is working towards mainstreaming energy efficiency and is implementing the world’s largest energy efficiency portfolio in the country.

Driven by the mission of Enabling More – more transparency, more transformation, and more innovation, EESL aims to create market access for efficient and future-ready transformative solutions that create a win-win situation for every stakeholder. By 2020, EESL seeks to be a US$ 1.5 billion (INR 10,000 crore) company.

EESL has pioneered innovative business approaches to successfully roll-out large-scale programs that allow for incentive alignment across the value chain and rapidly drive transformative impact. EESL aims to leverage this implementation experience and explore new overseas market opportunities for diversification of its portfolio. As on date, EESL has begun its operations in UK, South Asia and South-East Asia.

Source: PIB

Central Board of the RBI

In News:

The RBI Board recently entered the news during the public spat between the central bank and the Finance Ministry. One of the reasons for the disagreement was the government’s alleged threat of invoking Section 7 of the RBI Act.

Details:

Section 7 basically empowers the government to supersede the RBI Board and issue directions to the central bank if they are considered to be “necessary in public interest”.

What is the RBI Board?

The RBI Board is a body comprising officials from the central bank and the Government of India, including officials nominated by the government. According to the RBI, the “general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the RBI is entrusted to the Central Board” and the Board exercises all powers and does all acts and things that are exercised by the RBI. The Board is also to recommend to the government the design, form and material of bank notes and also when and where they can serve as legal tender.

Who sits on the Board?

The Board consists of official directors, who include the Governor and up to four Deputy Governors, non-official directors, who include up to ten directors from various fields and two government officials, and one director from each of four local boards of the RBI.

The Governor and Deputy Governors hold office for not more than five years, the ten directors nominated by the government hold office for four years, and the government officials are to hold a term on the RBI Board as long as the government sees fit.

According to the RBI Act, the director of the RBI Board cannot be a salaried government official (except for the ones specifically nominated by the government), be adjudicated as insolvent or have suspended payments to creditors, an officer or employee of any bank (again, this does not include the government nominee), or, interestingly, “is found lunatic or becomes of unsound mind”.

When does the Board meet?

The Governor has to call a Board meeting at least six times in a year, and at least once each quarter. A meeting can be called if a minimum of four Directors ask the Governor to call a meeting. The Governor or, if for any reason unable to attend, the Deputy Governor authorised by the him to vote for him, presides the Board meetings. In the event of split votes, the Governor has a second, or deciding vote.

Source: The Hindu

NASA to send organs on chips to space

NASA is planning to send small devices containing human cells in a 3D matrix — known as tissue chips or organs-on-chips — to the International Space Station (ISS) to test how they respond to stress, drugs and genetic changes.

The “Tissue Chips in Space” initiative seeks to better understand the role of microgravity on human health. Made of flexible plastic, tissue chips have ports and channels to provide nutrients and oxygen to the cells inside them.

Supercomputer

  • The world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time.
  • SpiNNaker machine – Spiking Neural Network Architecture is capable of completing more than 200 million million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors.
  • It is designed and built in The University of Manchester in the UK.
  • In real time, it can model more biological neurons (basic brain cells in the nervous system that communicate by pure electro-chemical energy) than any other machine on the planet.
  • SpiNNaker Vs Traditional computers – Traditional computers communicate by sending large amounts of information from point A to B via a standard network.
  • Whereas SpiNNaker mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations.
  • Uses – It will help neuroscientists better understand how our own brain works.
  • It also has simulated a region of the brain called the Basal Ganglia – an area affected in Parkinson’s disease.
  • Thus it has massive potential for neurological breakthroughs in science such as pharmaceutical testing.
  • Its power has recently been used to control a robot the spOmnibot, which uses the SpiNNaker system to interpret real-time visual information and navigate towards certain objects while ignoring others.

GSAT – 29

  • ISRO is planning to put communication satellite GSAT – 29 from Sriharikota.
  • GSAT – 29 is a 3,500 kg communication satellite for providing high quality internet services.
  • It is one of the planned Indian HTS (High Throughput Satellites) quartet. HTS are sent out to provide improved and faster internet connectivity.
  • It will be launched by GSLV –MKIII – D2, which is a three stage (Solid- Liquid – Cryogenic) heavy lift launch vehicle.
  • It is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.
  • It will inject the GSAT – 29 satellite into GTO with required inclination to the equator.
  • The satellite will be placed in its final Geostationary Orbit (GEO) using the onboard propulsion system.
  • The lifespan of the satellite is 10 years.
  • It is the second test flight of GSLV –MkIII-D2 carrying the satellite.

Tissue Chips in Space

  • It is an initiative by NASA to better understand the role of microgravity on human health.
  • Under this, NASA is planning to send small devices containing human cells in a 3D matrix known as “tissue chips or organs-on-chips” to the International Space Station (ISS).
  • It is to test how they respond to stress, drugs and genetic changes.
  • Tissue chips is made of flexible plastic with ports and channels to provide nutrients and oxygen to the cells inside them.
  • It is expected to behave much like an astronaut’s body, experiencing the same kind of rapid change.

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