• Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work developing lithium-ion batteries, which have reshaped energy storage and transformed cars, mobile phones and many other devices and reduced the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. The prize went to John B. Goodenough, 97, a German-born engineering professor at the University of Texas; M. Stanley Whittingham, 77, a British-American chemistry professor at the State University of New York; and Japan’s Akira Yoshino, 71, of Meijo University. The three each had a set of breakthroughs that laid the foundation for the development of a commercial rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries, the first truly portable and rechargeable batteries, took more than a decade to develop. He harnessed enormous tendency of lithium, the lightest metal, to give away its electrons to make a battery capable of generating over two volts. By 1980, Mr. Goodenough had doubled the capacity of the battery to four volts by using cobalt oxide in the cathode one of two electrodes, along with the anode, that make up the ends of a battery. But that battery remained too explosive for commercial use and needed to be tamed. That’s where Mr. Yoshino’s work in the 1980s came in. He substituted petroleum coke, a carbon material, in the battery’s anode. This step paved the way for the first lightweight, safe, durable and rechargeable commercial batteries to be built and enter the market in 1991.
  • Interconnect usage charge (IUC) – IUC is paid by one operator to another, when its customers make outgoing mobile calls to the other operator’s customers. These calls are known as mobile off-net calls. IUC charges are fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and currently stand at 6 paise per minute. The IUC is determined based on the cost per call. The terms ‘On-Net’ and ‘Off-Net’ are used to describe call or messaging types. ‘On-Net’ is used when your call or message originates on your home operator’s network and terminates to another mobile number that resides with your operator. It does not matter if the person you are calling is using the home network or is off Island roaming with a different provider. ‘Off-Net’ applies when the call or message is made on a different network, e.g. whilst you are roaming, or if you are using your home network and make a call or send a message to a number that resides with a different network provider.
  • India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th on an annual global competitiveness index, largely due to improvements witnessed by several other economies, while Singapore has replaced the U.S. as the world’s most competitive economy. India, which was ranked 58th in the annual Global Competitiveness Index compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), is among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil (ranked even lower than India at 71st this year).
  • The coastal town of Mamallapuram is evocative of ancient maritime links between the Pallava empire and China 2,000 years ago. Bodhidharma, the founder of the Dhyan school of meditation at the Shaolin monastery in Henan province in China, hailed from this region.
  • The 8thIndia-China joint training exercise ‘HAND-IN-HAND 2019’ with the theme counter terrorism under United Nations mandate was conducted at Umroi, Meghalaya in December 2019.   The aim of the 14 day exercise was to practice joint planning and conduct of counter terrorist operations in semi urban terrain.  Two tactical exercises are scheduled during the training; one on counter terrorism scenario and the other on Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. The exercise was previously held in December last year at Chengdu, China. The exercise didn’t take place in 2017 due to the 72-days long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam.
  • The 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria, code-named Operation Peace Spring by the Turkish Armed Forces, was a cross-border military operation conducted by the Turkish military and the Syrian National Army against the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Army in northeastern Syria.
  • Central Information Commission (CIC) is the highest appeal body under the RTI Act.
  • Parswanatha was the the 23rd Jain Tirthankara.
  • “Political Guiding Principles Agreement” is an agreement which was signed between India and China in 2005 to solve the long-standing border dispute. The 2005 agreement had virtually spelt out the contours of a settlement, taking into account the two sides’ “strategic and reasonable interests”. It had prescribed any settlement “should safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas”.
  • A decision has been taken to establish friendly provincial-city relations between Fujian Province of China and Tamil Nadu, Quanzhou City and Chennai City, as part of “a new chapter of the Maritime Silk Road”— a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Both countries have also agreed to explore the possibility of establishing an academy to study links between Mamallapuram and the Fujian province on the lines of the experience between Ajanta (Aurangabad) and Dunhuang, besides conducting research on maritime links. 2020 would be designated the Year of India-China Cultural and People to People Exchanges.
  • In 2015, sister city agreement between city of Aurangabad and city of Dunhuang was announced. These two cities have deep cultural similarities, which date back to 4th century as the Buddhist monks from the most significant Ajanta caves near Aurangabad carried the art of cave hewing to China, where the earliest caves complex sculpted were Mogao cave near Dunhuang.
  • The agreements for Chennai and Chongoing and Hyderabad and Qingdao as sister cities were also signed in 2015.
  • Sirumugai is a Panchayat town in Coimbatore district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which is well known for Silk Sarees Bazaars.
  • Keeladi excavation site is a Sangam period settlement that is being excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India and the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department. This excavation site is located 12 km southeast of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, near the town of Keeladi (also spelt as Keezhadi) in Sivagangai district. This is a large-scale excavation carried out in Tamil Nadu after the Adichanallur archaeological site. The settlement lies on the bank of the Vaigai River and it reflects the ancient culture of Tamil people. Epigraphist V. Vedachalam, who served as a domain expert for the excavation, dated the excavated remains between 5th century BCE and 3rd century CE.
  • An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
  • The Great Nicobar Island of Andaman has an area of about 1044 sq. km. The island is home to one of the most primitive tribes of India — the Shompens. The island includes the Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (GNBR) comprising of the Galathea National Park and the Campbell Bay National Park. The island harbours a wide spectrum of ecosystems from tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges and coastal plains. The island is also home to giant robber crabs, crab-eating macaques, the rare megapode as well as leatherback turtles.
  • The Indian Army is developing an automated program that will provide real time information to it about the life and present conditions of its tanks, vehicles, guns and air assets and their upcoming problems. The program codenamed ‘Project Beehive’ will be a centralised and automated system based in Delhi under the army’s Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) corps. It will be connected to each of the 2,000 workshops being run by the EME. The EME is tasked with carrying out repair, refurbishing and overhaul of the army’s equipment, ranging from tanks, infantry combat vehicles, artillery guns including the new M777 Ultra Light Howitzers, small arms, radars and aviation assets. Each workshop has a two-year old automated program called ‘wasp’, which compiles all data such as equipment under repair, how many to be repaired and their future life. The wasps will be integrated with the Beehive and thereby provide every data to it. The Army is collaborating with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on this project.
  • Nobel prize in economics was awarded to three economists who have worked, and are still working, to understand and alleviate poverty — Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Michael Kremer of Harvard University.
  • ‘Operation Peace Spring’ by Turkey aimed to create a “safe zone” that is 480 km wide and up to 35 km deep inside Syria. Ankara says it intends to relocate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey in this “safe zone”.
  • A FASTag uses Radio Frequency Identification technology to make cashless payments on toll booths through a prepaid account linked to it. The tag is fixed to the windscreen of a vehicle and an RFID antenna in the canopy of the toll gate scans the QR code and the tag identification number, following which the boom barrier lifts to allow a vehicle to pass through it without the need for a vehicle to stop. A FASTag is linked to a bank account. When a vehicle passes through a toll, an SMS with date, time and place of transaction will be sent to the owner of the vehicle. The master data of all transactions will be with the concessionaire of the toll booth concerned, along with the bank with which the owner has registered the FASTag and the National Payments Corporation of India. Usage of FASTag would bring the entire system under the National Electronic Toll Collection programme of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • World Food Day is an international day celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. World Food Day is observed annually to address the problem of global hunger. The theme this year is ‘Our Actions are our Future; Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World’.
  • The ODF++ tag, the highest category, is accorded to a ULB if not a single person defecates/urinates in the open, all public toilets are functional and faecal sludge and sewage is treated there. A third-party agency carries out observations at randomised sampled locations to verify claims.
  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections, to ensure free and fair elections. This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which gives the Election Commission the power to supervise elections to the Parliament and state legislatures. The MCC is operational from the date that the election schedule is announced till the date that results are announced. The MCC includes a list of guidelines used for regulating political parties and their activities just ahead of elections. The rules not only apply to political speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, rallies, general conduct and even contents of election manifestos. The MCC first came to effect during state assembly elections in Kerala in 1960. It was formally introduced by the Election Commission in 1979 in a bid to regulate the party in power from gaining an undue advantage.
  • Tiger Triumph is a bilateral tri-service amphibious military exercise involving the armed forces of India and the United States. It is the first tri-service military exercise between the two countries. India has previously only held tri-service exercises with Russia.
  • Starting 2002, USA has been negotiating foundational military cooperation Agreements with India. They are GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) signed in 2012; LSA (Logistic Support Agreement), signed in 2016 as LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement); CISMOA (Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement), signed in 2018 as COMCASA (Communications Compatibility & Security Agreement); and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation), yet to be signed. These Agreements provide that the military transporters of USA and allied countries can use Indian military bases for refuelling, repair & refit, and jointness of US-Indian military forces.
  • International law on Transboundary Water Resources management is guided by the Helsinki rules. The Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers is an international guideline regulating how rivers and their connected groundwaters that cross national boundaries may be used, adopted by the International Law Association (ILA) in Helsinki, Finland in August 1966. These rules make provision for the reasonable and equitable beneficial use of water by riparian states. There is an Indus River treaty signed by India and Pakistan, according to which India is bound to release water to Pakistan.
  • Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has released the 20th Livestock Census report. According to data from the recently released 20th Livestock Census, there are 4.85 crore desi (native) milch cows in the country, less than 1% higher than the 4.81 crore population in the last census in 2012. On the other hand, the milch population of exotic and crossbred cattle — including varieties such as Jersey or Holsteins which have much higher milk yields — saw a whopping growth of 32% over the last seven years, growing from 1.9 crore to 2.5 crore animals. The Livestock Census has been conducted in the country periodically since 1919-20. The Livestock Census covers all domesticated animals and its headcounts. So far 19 such censuses have been conducted in participation with State Governments and UT Administrations. The 20th Livestock Census was conducted in participation with all States and Union Territories. The enumeration was done both in rural and urban areas. Various species of animals (Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun, Yak, Sheep, Goat, Pig, Horse, Pony, Mule, Donkey Camel, Dog, Rabbit and Elephant)/poultry birds (Fowl, Duck, Emu, Turkeys, Quail and other poultry birds) possessed by the households, household enterprises/non-household enterprises and institutions have been counted at their site. Visit this link for a brief summary of the report: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1588304
  • The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (AH&D) is one of the Departments of the newly created Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
  • Tulagi, less commonly known as Tulaghi, is a small island in Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Ngella Sule. The town of the same name on the island was the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate from 1896 to 1942 and is today the capital of the Central Province. The island of Tulagi in the Pacific Ocean is now at the center of a strategic game of diplomatic chess. Since Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties with China, the US and Taiwan have sat up and taken notice. An Island with only about 1200 inhabitants, Tulagi has been leased to a Chinese company as part of a ‘strategic cooperation agreement.’ The company intends to develop a refinery on the island, but its potential use as a military base has experts worried. The deal came about after the Solomon Islands broke off diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The diplomatic loss was a strategic gain for China, which now has an island in waters that have traditionally been under the US sphere of influence. China claims these islands and unilaterally drew this nine-dash line to claim all of this.
  • A Buddhist monastery in Ladakh in Kargil district could soon be given Central protection as the Archaeological Survey of India on Tuesday invited objections or suggestions on declaring the Rangdum monastery a monument of national importance. The ASI invited comments for two months from the notification, after which the monastery could be declared to be of national importance, making it a Centrally protected site. Rangdum Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect, situated on top of a small but steep sugarloaf hill at an altitude of 4,031 m at the head of the Suru Valley, in Ladakh.
  • India is ranked 102 of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019, behind its neighbours Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe termed the level of hunger in India “serious”. In 2018, India was ranked 103 out of 119 countries. In 2000, the country was ranked 83 out of 113 countries. The Global Hunger Index score is calculated on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting, that is the share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition; child stunting, that is children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition; and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under five years.

Categories: POINT IAS

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