10/10/2017 : IAS DAILY : UPSC 2018 PRELIMS CURRENT AFFAIRS


Diwali Release ! SC bans sale of crackers in Delhi : Will be in place till November 1

OMG ! Who gave this shock ? Judges : A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Sapre and Ashok Bhushan

Why this sudden change over, enlightenment ? It was done to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality.

What were the reasons given by SC :

  • Deepavali,  can be celebrated without crakers but in equal fervour by various other means as well. Yes! of course by helping needy and lighting lamps 

  • There was direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels, which happens every year ( pollution shot up  three times). Omg ! wake up you are breathing life killers and making others to breathe the same - just as cigarettes !!!

Why in Delhi alone - Simply because Delhi the worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned during diwali . 

Will this reduce pollution ? Million dollar question !!! As the effect of that order would not be given during this Deepavali but it effective only from November 01, 2017. By the time whole city will be at smoke.

RELATED POST : Air pollution is weakening your memory !

FACT : The study found a direct connection between reduction in children’s working memory and exposure to pollutants during their daily commute to school. ( Watch out the more you burst crackers this Diwali the more you score less marks in your exams !!!) 

Why Children are targeted ? The detrimental effects may be particularly marked in children because of their smaller lung capacity and higher respiratory rate

Who said : Published in the journal Environmental Pollution

Chief Actors : Particulate matter (PM2.5) - fine inhalable particles that have diameters of 2.5 micrometres or less - and black carbon( a pollutant directly related to traffic ) cause this.

What actually happens:  20 per cent of a child’s daily dose of black carbon is inhaled during urban commutes.

The result : Short exposures to very high concentrations of pollutants can have a disproportionately high impact on health- first author of the study Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol, researcher at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain.

The solution : Reduce the use of private vehicles for the school run and create less polluted and safer home-to-school routes

Earth-based telescopes get better at observing exoplanets

FACT : Astronomers( including those of Indian origin ) have come up with a low-cost technology that facilitates precise observation of planets from Earth

Finding : With the new low cost attachment, ground-based telescopes can produce measurements of light intensity that rival the highest quality photometric observations from space.

Technology : custom “beam-shaping” diffusers (B-SD)

Inventors -Researchers, including those from Pennsylvania State University

What is a diffuser actually? Diffusers are small pieces of glass that can be easily adapted to mount onto a variety of telescopes

What is B-SD ? It is carefully structured micro-optic devices that spread incoming light across an image.

So how it is useful ? They are capable of minimising distortions from the Earth’s atmosphere that can reduce the precision of observations. It aid for confirming new planet candidates from the ground.

This technology is especially relevant considering the impending launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) early in 2018

Testing : Tested the new diffuser technology “on-sky” on the Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory in the U.S., the 0.6m telescope at Davey Lab Observatory at Penn State, and the ARC 3.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.

Facing Himalayan problems

FACT : The Himalayas contain the third-largest deposit of ice and snow in the world. 

The wealth of Himalayas : There are about 15,000 glaciers in the region, including Gangotri and Yamunotri (Uttarakhand), Khumbu glaciers (Mount Everest region), Langtang glacier (Langtang region) and Zemu (Sikkim). 

Its Importance : These glaciers form the source of perennial rivers across the Indo-Gangetic plains. The Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra and their tributaries are the lifeline of millions of people in South Asian countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh. 

Now the Issue : Just like the glaciers in the polar regions, the Himalayan glaciers are also melting ( western glaciers are stable).

Source : journal Nature

Finding :

  • Asia’s mountain glaciers will lose at least a third of their mass through global warming by the century’s end, it said. 

  • On low altitudes are melting at a faster rate than the ones on higher altitudes.

  • In 2015, Mount Everest region will disappear or drastically retreat due to climate change over the next century.

Factors for this cause : 

  • global warming 

  • Deforestation, land-use changes also adversely affect these glaciers

  • Changes in precipitation and decrease in snowfall could also impact the rate of glacial retreat.

What happens at last ?


  • The changes have direct impact on freshwater flow- Drinking water supplies, hydropower, industry, agriculture and biodiversity will all be affected.

  • When there is a drought or a monsoon failure in India, for instance, water stored in glacial ice could come handy to meet the needs of the growing population. 

  • The region that loses glaciers will be subject to erosion and decreased stability.

  • When glacial mass melts at a larger scale, they contribute to sea-level rise. Large quantities of fresh water will be added to the ocean every day.

  • Glacier melting is considered the most sensitive indicator of climate change.

  • This in turn could lead to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) when there is an avalanche or an earthquake

FACTS FOR PRELIMS :

FACT 1 : Richard Thaler of U.S. wins Nobel Economics Prize : U.S. economist Richard Thaler won the Nobel Economics Prize for his pioneering work to bridge the gap between economics and psychology.

Subject matter :  He explored the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes.

FACT 2 : ONGC may sell Indian Oil Corp. stake to LIC : State-owned ONGC is likely to sell some of its stake in IOC to institutional investors like LIC to part-fund its more than Rs. 34,000-crore acquisition of refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).


FACT 3:  ‘Embedded taxes’ on exports troubling apparel sector : The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), the apex body for apparel exporters in India, has raised with the government the issue of embedded taxes on exports.

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