Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 535. Largest volcanic region on earth
Largest volcanic region on earth
  • Scientists have discovered the largest volcanic region on Earth. It consists of almost 100 volcanoes. They are two kilometres below the surface of the vast Antarctic ice sheet.
  • The newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 metres. All of them are covered in thick layers of ice.
  • The active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system. The system stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica's Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.
  • The discovery is important because the activity of these volcanoes could have crucial implications for the rest of the planet. If one erupts, it could further destabilise some of the region’s ice sheets, which have already been affected by global warming. Meltwater outflows into the Antarctic ocean could trigger sea level rises.
 Q. 534. Muntra
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed India's first unmanned tank. It has three variants, meant for: surveillance, mine detection and reconnaissance. The reconnaissance version can be used in areas with nuclear and bio threats.
  • Muntra-S has been developed for unmanned surveillance missions.
  • Muntra-M is built for detecting mines.
  • Muntra-N will be deployed in areas where nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk is high.
  • The tank is called Muntra (Mission UNmanned TRAcked). The tanks will facilitate Indian Armed forces in conducting unmanned surveillance missions. The Muntra tanks have surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder, which can be used to spy on ground target about 15 kilometres away.
 Q. 533. India gained the full membership Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Recently India gained the full membership Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). In this context, analyse the significant advantages that may accrue to India and challenges that India may have to overcome because of the inclusion in SCO.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation. The organization was created in 2001 in Shanghai, China. It was created by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996 in Shanghai. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
India and SCO
India’s disconnect with Central Asia came with partition and the loss of direct geographical links. Although Central Asia is highly endowed with natural resources, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s denial of transit prevent India from directly accessing these resources and deepening economic ties with the countries of the region. This is an important factor that led India to seek membership in SCO.
Advantages of India’s membership
  • India is an energy deficient country with increasing demands for energy, it is an assured market for the resource rich Central Asian countries and Russia. SCO membership could help advance talks on the construction of stalled pipelines like TAPI which is of considerable importance to India’s natural gas needs.
  • Another development related to India’s energy requirements is the proposed Russian idea of an ‘Energy Club’ for deepening interactions between producers (Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Iran) and consumers (China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Pakistan and Mongolia). This arrangement will help in shaping a common energy system in both the regional and global contexts. Within this framework India and Russia are exploring a possible hydrocarbon pipeline route through North-West of China.
  • Central Asian countries is a market for India’s IT, telecommunications, banking, finance and pharmaceutical industries. Thus, membership in SCO will help deepen economic ties between India and the Central Asian countries and eventually even result in a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Foreign policy goals: Membership in SCO is likely to help India fulfil its aspiration of playing an active role in its extended neighbourhood as well as checking the ever growing influence of China in Eurasia.  SCO also provides a platform for India to simultaneously engage with its traditional friend Russia as well as its rivals, China and Pakistan. Moreover, SCO membership would also enable India to hinder any attempt of Pakistan to use the SCO forum for mobilising support for its anti-India activities. Further, it will help India engage the Central Asian Republics (CARs) on a regular basis every year, something which has proved rather difficult in a bilateral format.
  • India’s presence in SCO would also ensure that China does not dictate terms in Eurasia. This is also the concern of Russia which is in a state of a ‘soft competition’ with China in Central Asia. Moreover, India would be able to offset China’s Belt and Road Initiative by mobilising support for the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • Afghanistan angle: Eurasian powers are bound to play a major role in Afghanistan’s security affairs. Russia, China and Pakistan have already started engaging the Taliban which is of concern to India. It is important that India does not get left out of the evolving situation in that country and SCO membership could help in this regard.
  • India would also benefit from the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent, which would help gain vital intelligence inputs on the movement of terror outfits, drug-trafficking, cyber security and Public information of the region.
  • Also, the annual joint military exercise among members would help India gain valuable new military operational insights.
  • China and Russia are co-founders of SCO and its dominant powers, therefore, India’s ability to assert itself would be limited and it may have to content itself to playing the second fiddle. Moreover, India may also have to either dilute its growing partnership with the West or engage in a delicate balancing act.
  • Except India, all the other members of SCO have endorsed China’s Belt and Road Initiative. India’s primary concern is related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), a region over which India claims sovereignty but which has been under Pakistan’s occupation since 1947. In this regard, if in future the economic policies of SCO come to be associated with the BRI network of roads and transportation, then India would face a dilemma and even a policy setback.
  • India and Pakistan: India-Pakistan rivalry can be a significant threat to the proper functioning of SCO too. Though, SCO charter prohibits the raising of bilateral issues, a conflict situation involving Kashmir might compel Russia and China to interfere to prevent any detrimental impact on the SCO.
 Q. 532. Removing harmful drugs from wastewater
Removing harmful drugs from wastewater
Hospital wastewater includes drugs which are a major environmental problem. Wastewater may include cytostatic drugs such as cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide used for cancer treatment. The presence of such drugs in hospital waste not only pollutes environment but can also harm human health as these drugs often don’t break up easily. The cytostatic drugs are known to cause severe and irreversible damages to human body. The concentration of these drugs is high in the wastewaters of hospitals specializing in cancer treatment. A group of researchers from Belgium and India have developed a novel method of treating wastewater to get rid of such harmful substances from hospital waste.
  • The method involves slurry photocatalytic membrane reactor which involves a filtration process similar to the one used to purify drinking water.
  • This device works with a light source like an LED.
  • Catalyst viz. titanium dioxide is used to breakdown drugs. Titanium is easily available, efficient, stable and not toxic. The membrane used as a barrier to stop the drugs is made up of a polymer or ceramic.
  • As waste water with cytostatic drugs enters photoreactor, the light source activates or ‘fires up’ the catalyst (titanium dioxide) breaking it up into two parts—titanium and ‘free’ oxygen.
  • The ‘free’ oxygen then combines with the cytostatic drugs in waste water and breaks them into smaller parts thus making them ‘safer’.
  • If any drug particles are left unchanged, the membrane prevents them from passing through.
  • Thereafter, the mixture goes into another part of the reactor where the catalyst is removed and re-circulated to the photoreactor.
  • The amount of carbon contained in the pollutants before and after the filtration process decreases with time, this indicates that the degradation process is effective.
 Q. 531. What is natural capital? Why integrating natural capital in our policy framework is necessary for a sustainable future?
What is natural capital? Why integrating natural capital in our policy framework is necessary for a sustainable future?
Natural capital is from of capital from which humans derive a wide range of services also called ecosystem services, that make human life possible. Some important ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines. There are also many less visible ecosystem services such as the climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peat lands, or the pollination of crops by insects. In order to have an unhindered supply of these services natural capital conservation and sustenance needs to be ensured.
India’s natural capital
India’s natural resources has 11% of the world’s floral and faunal species. India is one of the 17 most ecologically diverse countries. It is blessed with major biomes. These biomes directly contribute billions of dollars to the Indian economy annually. The financial value of India’s forests, which encompass economic services such as timber and fuel wood, and ecological services such as carbon sequestration is approximately $1.7 trillion.
Declining natural capital
Because of increasing economic activity, natural capital assets are declining. It is directly affecting the quality of life and potentially giving rise to future inefficiencies in the economy. A concept of ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is popular among the scientists. This is a figurative calendar date when humanity’s total annual resource consumption for the year overshoots the earth’s capacity to regenerate it. This has been advancing every year at an alarming rate.
As there is limits to natural capital stocks, there is a need to rethink the cascading effects that this might have on the economy, the environment and society. There are nine earth system boundaries, which mark the safe zones. Beyond these zones there is a risk of ‘irreversible and abrupt environmental change’. Four of these boundaries have already been crossed, these are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and altered biogeochemical cycles(phosphorus and nitrogen cycles). The human activity has already altered the balance of a few delicate equilibriums. The effect of these delicate equilibrium processes are reflected by changing weather patterns, accelerated extinction events for both flora and fauna, and global warming. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive evaluation system that takes these undesirable side-effects of economic activities into account.
Natural capital has the potential to optimise resources and thus maximise the net benefits of economic growth and development. However, ignoring or undervaluing natural capital, can lead to projects with far higher negative externalities compared to the benefits. Therefore, natural capital and its role as a primary support system for the economy should be understood in totality.
Natural capital and ingenuity
Sustained and unhindered use of natural capital requires innovation and adoption of newer, more efficient technologies. This was demonstrated by one Californian fashion company. It expositioned this by developing a unique waterless ozone technology to address water shortage challenges during a four-year-long drought. The company was able to reduce its water use and water bills by 50%, saving at least $1,300 per month.
Unlike the economic value of goods and services, the intangible nature of natural assets is mostly invisible and hence remains unaccounted for. Sustainable use of natural capital requires a strong policy push and the adoption of valuation frameworks such as the Natural Capital Coalition’s Natural Capital Protocol. Integrating natural capital assessment and valuation into our economic system is critical to usher in a truly sustainable future for India.
 Q. 530. Ransomware
Ransomware is a form of malicious software that locks up the files on computer, encrypts them, and demands that payment to get the files back. Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCry, is a form of ransomware that affects Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
When a system is infected, a pop up window appears, prompting to pay to recover all the files within three days, with a countdown timer on the window. Also, if the owner of the computer fails to pay within that time, the fee will be doubled, and if the ransom is not paid within seven days, the files are lost forever. Payment is accepted only with Bitcoin.
Ransomware spreads when it encounters unpatched or outdated software. WannaCry, a ransomware, had spread by an internet worm, software that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network, rather than the usual case of prompting unsuspecting users to open attachments. The cyber attack was carried out with the help of tools stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.
Some forms of malware can lock the computer entirely, or set off a series of pop-ups that are nearly impossible to close, thereby hindering work.
The malware only affects files that exist in the computer. Following precautions may help against Ransomware attacks:
  • Regularly updating anti-virus program;
  • Regular backup of files
  • Enabling pop-up blockers;
  • Updating all software periodically;
  • Ensuring that the smart screen (in Internet Explorer) is turned on, which helps identify reported phishing and malware websites;
  • Avoiding opening of attachments that may appear suspicious
India and Ransomware
Recently, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has issued an alert about an email-based ransomware, ‘Locky’. The ransomware, Locky, spreads through spam mails. It scrambles the contents of a computer or server and demands payment in bitcoins to unlock it. This is the third major ransomware attack this year after Wannacry and Petya, that crippled thousands of computers.

CERT-In is the national nodal agency under the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY), which deals with cyber security threats such as hacking and phishing. The agency is tasked with the collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents and even taking emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents.
 Q. 529. Diksha Portal
Diksha Portal
DIKSHA Portal is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development for providing a digital platform to teacher to make their lifestyle more digital. The portal has been launched under National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers. Through this, all teachers across the nation will be equipped with advanced digital technology.
The portal will consist of the whole teacher’s life cycle – from the time they were enrolled as student teachers in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) to after they retire as teachers.
Teacher can learn and train themselves for which assessment resources will be available. The complete work and accomplishment of teachers in Teacher’s educational institutes will be recorded from start to end point till their retirement.
Teacher can use the portal for creating the following:
  1. Teacher training content.
  2. Teacher profile.
  3. In-class resources.
  4. Assessment aids.
  5. News and announcement.
  6. Teacher community.
Benefits of this portal:
It will help teachers boost their teaching skills and create their own profile with their skills and knowledge. Diksha portal will also help in improving the quality of education with the use of latest technologies in the domain of sector. Not only the government, private institutes and NGO’s are also allowed to participate in the Diksha initiative.
 Q. 528. Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017
Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017
The 2017 Nobel prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York) and Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.) for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.
Cryo-electron microscopy
“Cryo”, short for cryogenic refers to very low temperatures. Though the actual temperature is not well defined, it is below minus 150°C. In the context of electron microscopy, it refers to the fact that the object to be imaged is frozen to such low temperatures to facilitate being studied under the beam of the electron microscope.
This method is so effective that in recent times, it has been used to image the elusive Zika virus. Zika virus was causing the epidemic of brain-damaged newborns in Brazil. Using Cryo-electron microscopythree dimensional (3D) images of the virus at atomic resolution were generated and researchers were able to search for potential targets for drugs.
The utility of cryo-electron microscopy allows the observation of specimens that have not been stained or fixed in any way, showing them in their native environment. This is in contrast to X-ray crystallography, which requires crystallizing the specimen, which can be difficult, and placing them in non-physiological environments, which can occasionally lead to functionally irrelevant conformational changes.
 Q. 527. Turtle Sanctuary
Turtle Sanctuary
Government has approved setting up of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad along with a River Biodiversity Park at Sangam. The initiative is aimed to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from escalating anthropogenic pressures. Sanctuary will be established under the oversight of the Namami Gange programme.  The project will cost approximately Rs 1.34 crores. The project is 100% centrally funded.
This project will spread awareness about humans’ place in the ecosystem, their roles and responsibilities. It will also improve understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources.
Rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles (Batagur kachuga, Batagur dhongoka, Nilssonia gangetica, Chitra indica, Hardella thurjii etc.), the National Aquatic Animal - Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and numerous migratory and resident birds.
 Q. 526. Mission Parivar Vikas
Mission Parivar Vikas
Mission Parivar Vikas is a central family planning initiative launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The key strategic focus of this initiative is on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, ensuring commodity security and accelerating access to high quality family planning services.

The mission is being implemented in 146 high focus districts with the highest total fertility rates in the country. These districts are in the seven high focus, high Total Fertility Rates (TFR) states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam, which constitute 44% of the country’s population.

The main objective of the Mission Parivar Vikas family planning initiative is to bring down the Total Fertility Rate to 2.1 by the year 2025.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through its sustained family planning efforts, aims to achieve its goal of increasing modern contraceptive usage and ensure that 74% of the demand for modern contraceptives is satisfied by 2020, with continued emphasis on delivering assured services, generating demand and bridging supply gaps. The focus is also on increasing awareness and demand through a holistic communications campaign that has simultaneously been rolled out across all states of India.
 Q. 525. India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians
India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians
India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI) is a not-for-profit Trust set-up by the Government of India to facilitate philanthropic contributions by Overseas Indians to social and development projects in India.Presently, IDF-OI is promoting flagship programmes of Government of India- Swachh Bharat Mission and National Mission for Clean Ganga; and projects identified by the State Govts, for funding by Overseas Indians. It is also promoting areas such as sanitation; education; drinking water; women’s empowerment etc with State Governments. IDF-OI is offering projects for funding by Overseas Indians. Overseas Indians can contribute as an individual, or a group of individuals or even through their respective Indian Associations. IDF-OI does not recover any administrative cost from contributions received from Overseas Indians.
 Q. 524. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) for Skilling in Smart Cities has been setup by the government in collaboration with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). It aims to bring momentum in skilling through collaborative efforts. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is being run by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) while National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is the implementing agency for the scheme. The new skill development centres underscore the commitment of the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Housing (MUHA) and the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to support skilling in smart cities. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), an executive arm of MSDE, has collaborated with New Delhi Municipal Council Smart City Limited (NDMCSCL) to extend cooperation for setting up of PMKK Centres for Smart Cities, to provide skill training for unemployed youth through its short-term training (STT) module and contribute to the capacity building of municipal employees through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program. At present there are 221 job roles available with 34 skill councils for which the courses are being offered across the nation.
 Q. 523. Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries (SAATHI)
Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries (SAATHI)
Ministries of Power  and Textiles have joined hands to launch a new initiative, SAATHI (Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries). Under this initiative, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, would procure energy efficient Powerlooms, motors etc. in bulk and provide them to the small and medium Powerloom units at no upfront cost.
The use of these efficient equipment would result in energy savings and cost savings to the unit owner and he would repay in installments to EESL over a 4 to 5 year period.  This is the aggregation, bulk procurement and financing model that EESL has successfully deployed in several sectors like LED bulbs, Smart Meters and Electric Vehicles.
The Powerloom sector in India is predominantly an unorganized sector and has a large number of micro and small units which produce 57 percent of the total cloth in the country.  There are 24.86 lakhs Powerloom units in this country, most of whom use obsolete technology.  With a view to upgrading the technology, the Government of India has been implementing the in-situ upgradation of  plain Powerlooms. This programme is in furtherance of that objective.
 Q. 522. Integrity Index: CVC
Integrity Index: CVC
The CVC is going to develop an Integrity Index. It will be based on bench-marking of internal processes and controls within an organisation as well as management of relationships and expectations of outside stakeholders. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is of the view that the next level of systemic change can be through the tool of Integrity Index. The move is in line with the broader strategy and emphasis on preventive vigilance.
The Integrity Index will bring out annual scores/rankings of Public Sector Undertakings/Public Sector Banks and Financial Institutions/Departments/Ministries of Government of India by linking the essential drivers of vigilance with long term efficiency, profitability and sustainability of public organizations and create an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity in public organizations.
In the index, CVC has adopted a research-based approach for creating an integrity index that various organizations can use to measure themselves and which will evolve with changing needs. IIM-Ahmedabad has been engaged to develop the Integrity Index.
Initially 25 organizations have been selected for development of the Integrity Index. Subsequently, it is proposed to extend the Integrity Index concept to all other CPSUs and organizations of Government of India.
The main objectives for which the Integrity Index is to be established are:
  • Defining what constitutes Integrity of Public Organizations
  • Identifying the different factors of Integrity and their inter-linkages
  • Creating an objective and reliable tool that can measure the performance of organizations along these above factors
  • Validating the findings over a period of time to improve upon the robustness of the tool that measures Integrity
  • Creating an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity where public organizations lead the way
 Q. 521. Baily's beads
Baily's beads
The Baily's beads effect, or Diamond ring effect, is a feature of total and annular solar eclipses. As the moon goes by the Sun during a solar eclipse, the lunar limb topography allows beads of sunlight to shine through in some places, and not in others. The effect is caused due to the rugged lunar surface. The diamond ring effect is seen when only one bead is left, a shining diamond set in a bright ring around the lunar silhouette.

Lunar topography has considerable relief because of the presence of mountains, craters, valleys and other topographical features.  It is not safe to view Baily's beads or the diamond ring effect without proper eye protection because in both cases the photosphere is still visible.

In the path of totality at a solar eclipse can see first a gradual covering of the Sun by the lunar silhouette for over an hour, and then a set of Baily’s beads. As the Baily’s beads disappear behind the advancing lunar edge a thin reddish edge, called the chromosphere appears. Though the reddish hydrogen radiation is most visible to the unaided eye, the chromosphere also radiates thousands of additional spectral lines.
 Q. 520. Black Holes
Black Holes
A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
Because no light can get out, it is apparently invisible to naked eye. Space telescopes with special tools can find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.

How Big Are Black Holes?
Black holes can be big or small. The smallest black holes are as small as just one atom. These black holes are very tiny but have the mass of a large mountain. Mass is the amount of matter, or "stuff," in an object. Another kind of black hole is called "stellar". Its mass can be up to 20 times more than the mass of the sun. There may be many stellar mass black holes in Earth's galaxy.
The largest black holes are called "supermassive." These black holes have masses that are more than 1 million suns together. Every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center. The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy is called Sagittarius A. It has a mass equal to about 4 million suns.

How Do Black Holes Form?
Stellar black holes are made when the center of a very big star falls in upon itself, or collapses. When this happens, it causes a supernova. A supernova is an exploding star that blasts part of the star into space. The supermassive black holes were made at the same time as the galaxy they are in.
A black hole can not be seen because strong gravity pulls all of the light into the middle of the black hole. When a black hole and a star are close together, high-energy light is made. This kind of light can not be seen with human eyes. Satellites and telescopes in space are used to see the high-energy light.
Black holes do not go around in space eating stars, moons and planets. Earth will not fall into a black hole because no black hole is close enough to the solar system for Earth to do that.
Even if a black hole the same mass as the sun were to take the place of the sun, Earth still would not fall in. The black hole would have the same gravity as the sun. Earth and the other planets would orbit the black hole as they orbit the sun now.
The sun will never turn into a black hole. The sun is not a big enough star to make a black hole.
 Q. 519. Ring of Fire
Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt.

About 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81%of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. The next most seismically active region (5–6% of earthquakes and 17% of the world's largest earthquakes) is the Alpine belt, which extends from Java to the northern Atlantic Ocean via the Himalayas and southern Europe.
All but three of the world's 25 largest volcanic eruptions of the last 11,700 years occurred at volcanoes in the Ring of Fire.

The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics: the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates. The eastern section of the ring is the result of the Nazca Plate and the Cocos Plate being subducted beneath the westward-moving South American Plate. The Cocos Plate is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate, in Central America. A portion of the Pacific Plate and the small Juan de Fuca Plate are being subducted beneath the North American Plate. Along the northern portion, the northwestward-moving Pacific plate is being subducted beneath the Aleutian Islands arc. Farther west, the Pacific plate is being subducted along the Kamchatka Peninsula arcs on south past Japan. The southern portion is more complex, with a number of smaller tectonic plates in collision with the Pacific plate from the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand; this portion excludes Australia, since it lies in the center of its tectonic plate. Indonesia lies between the Ring of Fire along the northeastern islands adjacent to and including New Guinea and the Alpide belt along the south and west from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Flores, and Timor. The famous and very active San Andreas Fault zone of California is a transform fault which offsets a portion of the East Pacific Rise under southwestern United States and Mexico. The motion of the fault generates numerous small earthquakes, at multiple times a day, most of which are too small to be felt. The active Queen Charlotte Fault on the west coast of the Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, has generated three large earthquakes during the 20th century.
 Q. 518. National Register of Citizens
National Register of Citizens
  • The National Register of Citizens (NRC) contains names of Indian citizens. The NRC was prepared in 1951, after the Census of 1951. It was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during that Census and was further kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.
  • The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date. This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
  • Assam government published the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the State. NRC is a process by which a bona fide Indian citizen can be distinguished from a foreigner.
  • Assam is the only state to have its own register of citizens. The publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017, was ordered by the Supreme Court.
 Q. 517. Reservoir Computing System
Reservoir Computing System
Scientists have developed a new type of neural network chip that can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans. The network, called a reservoir computing system, could predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present. Reservoir computing systems, which improve on a typical neural network’s capacity and reduce the required training time, have been created in the past with larger optical components. It has been created using memristors, which require less space and can be integrated more easily into existing silicon-based electronics. Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform logic and store data. This contrasts with typical computer systems, where processors perform logic separate from memory modules.
 Q. 516. FDI policy liberalized in key sectors
FDI policy liberalized in key sectors
Cabinet has approved amendments in FDI policy. The amendments in the policy are as follows:
  1. 100% FDI under automatic route for Single Brand Retail Trading
  2. 100% FDI under automatic route in Construction Development
  3. Foreign airlines allowed to invest up to 49% under approval route in Air India
  4. FIIs/FPIs allowed to invest in Power Exchanges through primary market
  5. Definition of ‘medical devices’ amended in the FDI Policy
These are intended to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country.  In turn, it will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major driver of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country. Government has put in place an investor friendly policy on FDI, under which FDI up to 100%, is permitted on the automatic route in most sectors/ activities. In the recent past, the Government has brought FDI policy reforms in a number of sectors viz. Defence, Construction Development, Insurance, Pension, Other Financial Services, Asset reconstruction Companies, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Pharmaceuticals, Trading etc.