Prelims Primer

  1. In January 2019, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) marked its third anniversary. India has been the bank’s biggest beneficiary, with a quarter of the AIIB’s approved projects geared towards its development. India is also the only country apart from Chinato enjoy a permanent seat on the Bank’s board of directors. Headquartered in Beijing, it began operations in January 2016 and has now grown to 93 approved members worldwide.
  2. Moment magnitude (Mw) is a measure of earthquake magnitude. Palghar (a site in Maharashtra which has recently seen frequent low Mw earthquakes) falls in Zone 3 of the seismic zoning map developed by the Bureau of Indian Standards. This means that buildings here must be able to withstand earthquakes of intensity 5.5-6.5 on the Medvedev-Sponheuer-Karnik (MSK) scale. Intensity is a qualitative measure of how people experience earthquakes, rather than the energy released, which is measured by the magnitude scale.
  3. Vetiver, ‘the wonder grass’ of Tamil Nadu, has a wide range of applications in the pharma and cosmetic industries, besides anti-soil erosion properties. The grass, which grows up to five feet and whose fragrant root reaches up to 10 feet, has huge global demand in the aromatic industry. The grass is popular for its quality to combat soil erosion and absorb carbon dioxide, thus erasing carbon footprints. Vetiver is ideal for the long coastline, as it is suited for sandy soil. It is easy to harvest this crop, which fetches very high returns. The grass can be used to purify polluted water bodies, especially temple tanks, and to arrest soil erosion in ghat sections, especially in Kerala and Kodaikanal. Its moisture retention property makes vetiver a natural choice for soil conservation and replenishment of ground water. It is ideal for dry land cultivation using organic farming practices. It is also used in ethanol extraction, as cattle feed and for making handicrafts. Another quality of vetiver is that it is an anti-depressant.
  4. Subarnarekha port in located in Balasore district of Odisha.
  5. India’s apex National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) — charged with allowing forest land in Protected Areas to be diverted for industry — cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%) that came up for scrutiny. The NBWL, formally headed by the Prime Minister, adjudicates on industrial projects, road diversions or the like that could encroach into Protected Areas or eco-sensitive zones of forests. A smaller Standing Committee of the NBWL is charged with deliberating on the merits of projects that come to it for scrutiny; the committee comprises scientists and government officials and is chaired by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan.
  6. India is the world’s largest producer of raw jute and West Bengal accounts for the majority of the country’s production, according to the National Jute Board.
  7. According to the United Nations’ 2018 World Happiness Index, India ranks low, lower than the Occupied Palestinian Territories. According to the World Health Organisation, India is the most depressed country in the world. In 2015, India ranked fourth in a Social Hostilities Index (released by Pew Research Centre, an independent non-partisan polling and research organisation). And in the 2018 Global Peace Index (released by Sydney-based think tank Institute for Economics and Peace), it ranked 137 out of 163 countries and territories.
  8. Pew Research Centre, an independent non-partisan polling and research organisation, has been publishing its annual Global Restrictions on Religion Report since 2009. It composes two indices–the Government Restrictions Index and the Social Hostilities Index. While the former measures government restrictions on the free practice of religion, the latter looks at hostilities between groups around the issue of religion.
  9. India contracted 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from Boeing through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales programme.
  10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation of the flagship Bundelkhand Defence Industrial Corridor in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh, which is expected to attract investment of Rs 20,000 crore. The Defence Corridor consists of various infrastructure projects totalling over Rs 40,000 crore in the arid Bundelkhand region.  The mega infra would span 6 nodes at Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Lucknow and Chitrakoot and create 250,000 job opportunities.
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