Prelims Revision

  1. Hayabusa2 (a Japanese probe sent to collect samples from an asteroid 300 million km away) touched down briefly on the Ryugu asteroid. The Ryugu asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born. Samples from the asteroid could help find out whether elements from space gave rise to life on the earth. The Hayabusa2 mission, with a price tag of around $270 million, was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to the Earth with its samples in 2020.
  2. Madhya Pradesh is also called the soyabean State of India.
  3. The Thottappally coast in Kerala is one of the prime locations for egg-laying Olive ridley turtles in the State. Besides, the area is also home to several species of reptiles, migratory birds, and a large number of butterflies. Casuarina trees are also found on the Thottappally coast. Commonly known as the she-oaksheoak,ironwood, or beefwood, casuarinas are commonly grown in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. The tree has delicate, slender terminal branches, and leaves that are no more than scales, making the tree look more like a wispy conifer.
  4. Chendamangalam handloom of Kerala, famous for its sarees and mundus (a type pf dhoti) have a geographical indication tag.
  5. The arjuna tree (Terminalia arjuna) may be best known for its medicinal properties and its importance to the charismatic grizzled giant squirrel, but it plays a special role in the river-forests of Karnataka’s Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary too. A higher number of trees specific to riverine habitats thrive under the canopies of old arjuna trees. The soil under these trees’ enormous canopies is also more moist and higher in organic carbon. This makes a case to recognize it as a keystone species — one that plays a crucial role in the landscape — and conserve large, old trees. The arjuna is a large, buttressed tree that usually grows along river banks. With its interlocking roots and large canopy, the tree influences the composition of plant communities under it.
  6. Pakistan has been on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force since June 2018, and will be required to show compliance or face being “black-listed” by the session in October 2019. A black-list would mean enhanced financial scrutiny of its government, possible sanctions against its central bank, and a downgrade of its financial and credit institutions. This goes even beyond the Security Council guidelines under its 1267 listing, that oblige Pakistan to ensure that terror entities do not travel out of the country, or have access to funding or weaponry; Financial Action Task Force is a Paris-based organisation.
  7. All issues related to the upgrade of An-32 transport aircraft, the workhorse of the Indian Air Force (IAF), have been resolved, according to the head of the Antonov State Corporation of Ukraine. At Aero India 2019, Ukraine also offered its new An-132 aircraft to the IAF as a replacement for the An-32 fleet. According to Antonov, An-132 the aircraft jointly designed by Ukraine and Saudi Arabia can carry a load of upto 9 tonnes and land at high altitudes and on unpaved runways.
  8. An Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is “information” under the Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commission has ruled.
  9. National Pension Scheme (NPS) – is a contributory retirement savings scheme and seeks to inculcate the habit of saving for old age among the citizens. Normally, upon entry into the NPS, the subscriber remains invested till the age of superannuation or 60 years. Upon exit from the system, the subscriber is entitled to withdraw up to 60 per cent of the accumulations and the balance 40 per cent is mandatorily required to purchase annuity from an annuity service provider, who will provide the monthly pension to the subscriber. NPS was initially conceived as a contributory pension scheme for Central government employees, replacing the erstwhile defined benefit (DB) scheme w.e.f 01.01.04. Now NPS (defined contribution) caters to all the citizens of India, from the year 2009.
  10. The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has invited an Expression of Interest from leading Actuarial firms for designing and development of a Minimum Assured Return Scheme (MARS) for NPS subscribers. The firms have been asked to design, develop and recommend a minimum assured return scheme that can be implemented under the NPS architecture. Going forward, under MARS, the nature of the returns may not be a fixed return, instead it will be a minimum return over a specific period. Any shortfall will be made good by the sponsor of the scheme. If a fixed return is guaranteed, then it takes some features of the DB scheme, but is not a DB scheme completely. Even if MARS gets implemented, there may be a guarantee reset period (Quarterly / half yearly /annual) or any other time period that is recommended and that strikes a balance between subscriber interest and the Pension Funds who need to offer such a product.