Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 501. Defence Policy
The defence ministry has come out with a draft policy. The policy envisages achieving a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore in military goods and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
The policy aims to make India one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms with active participation of public and private sectors.
The policy lists as a major aim achieving export of Rs 35,000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
The policy aims to make licensing process for defence industries liberal and the listing of items requiring licences will be reviewed.
The policy aims to make India self-reliant in defence production as well as fulfil demand of other friendly countries. The government identified 12 military platforms and weapons systems for production in India to achieve the aim of “self-reliance”. They are fighter aircraft, medium lift and utility helicopters, warships, land combat vehicles, missile systems, gun systems, small arms, ammunition and explosives, surveillance systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems and night fighting enablers, among others.
According to the policy the tax regime will be rationalised to make domestic manufacturing attractive by ensuring that there is no tax inversion. Taxes on import of capital goods and services, inputs and components used in defence production will be rationalised.
The policy aims to make taxes on import of capital goods and services, inputs and components used in defence production rational.
 Q. 500. Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018
Salient Features:
  • It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
  • It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
  • It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission; and
  • It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
  • It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.
Benefits: The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.
The amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 will make National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) more compliant with the Paris Principle concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.
 Q. 499. National Anti Doping Agency (NADA)
National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) was set up as registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 on November 24, 2005 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India. The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.
National Anti Doping Agency is mandated for Dope free sports in India. The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.
The primary functions of NADA are as under: To implement the Anti Doping Code to achieve compliance by all sports organizations  in the Country. To coordinate dope testing program through all participating stakeholders.To promote anti doping research and education to inculcate the value of dope free sports. To adopt best practice standards and quality systems to enable effective implementation and  continual improvement of the program. Ex-officio Chairman of NADA is the Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports.
Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE): An athlete, like any other person, may have illnesses or conditions that require the use of particular medications as treatment. But, Substances an athlete is required to take as a treatment may fall under the Prohibited List. In such a case, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) may under strict conditions, provide an athlete with the authorization to take the needed medicine, all the while competing in sport, with no resulting doping offence. 
The World Anti-Doping Agency is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee based in Canada to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. The agency's key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.
In 2016, Professor Richard McLaren (academic), an independent investigator hired on behalf of WADA published a 2 part report showing that more than 1,000 Russians athletes in over 30 sports were involved in or benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015.
 Q. 498. Explain briefly about Asia Africa Growth Corridor. Why China wants the initiative to be merged with BRICS?
The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor or AAGC is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan. Unlike One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) which entails development of a land corridor, AAGC will essentially be a sea corridor linking Africa with India and other countries of South-East Asia and Oceania. AAGC will achieve linkage by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors. AAGC initiative will link ports in Jamnagar (Gujarat) with Djibouti in the Gulf of Eden. Similarly, the ports of Mombasa and Zanzibar will be connected to ports near Madurai; Kolkata will be linked to Sittwe port in Myanmar.
The AAGC would consist of four main components:
  1. Development and cooperation projects,
  2. Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity,
  3. Capacity and skill enhancement and
  4. People-to-people partnerships.
These four components as well as four elements or four pillars are complementary to promote growth and all round development in both the continents.
China has initiated a move to persuade India to go slow on the Asia Africa Growth Corridor. China sees it as an alternative Silk Road to tap the African market. Therefore, Beijing is now trying to persuade India and South Africa to merge the project with the BRICS platform. China is doing this to keep its rival, Japan, out of it. However, if AAGC is merged into BRICS, India's influence on Africa through the project will also get diluted. The Asia Africa Growth Corridor project was planned with the active support of the African Development Bank and several African countries including South Africa.
 Q. 497. India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017
India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017
  • Forest and Tree Cover of the country has increased by 8,021 sq km (1 %) as compared to assessment of 2015. The very dense forest has increased by 1.36 % as compared to last assessment. This is very heartening as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • The increasing trend of forest and tree cover is largely due to the various national policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of our forests like Green India Mission, National Agro-Forestry policy (NAP), REDD plus policy, Joint Forest Management (JFM), National Afforestation Programme and funds under Compensatory Afforestation to States.
  • Successful agro-forestry practices, better conservation of forests, improvement of scrub areas to forest areas, increase in mangrove cover, conservation and protection activities have also led to increase in the forest and tree cover.
  • Green Highways (Plantations & Maintenance) Policy to develop 1,40,000 km long tree line with plantation along with both sides of national highways will go a long way in enhancing the forest & tree cover.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33%) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27%) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73%).
  • Top 5 states where maximum forest cover has increased are Andhra Pradesh (2,141 sq kms), Karnataka (1,101 sq kms), Kerala (1,043 sq kms), Odisha (885 sq kms) and Telangana (565 sq kms).
  • Top 5 states where forest cover has decreased are Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km). It is important to mention here that these states are in the North Eastern region of the country where the total forest cover is very high i.e. more than 70% in each state. The main reasons for the decrease are - shifting cultivation, other biotic pressures, rotational felling, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters.
Water bodies inside forests
  • Water bodies inside forests have increased over a decade. Forests play a vital role in water conservation and improve the water regime in the area.
  • State Forest Departments besides plantation and protection also undertake steps to improve water conservation through different interventions such as building Check dams, vegetation barriers, percolation ponds, contour trenches etc. under various Central & State Government schemes
  • As per the latest assessment, water bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during the last decade.
  • Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms) are top three states showing increase in water bodies within forest areas. Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies.
Mangrove cover
Mangrove cover of the country has shown a positive change. As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have increased by 181 sq kms. Maharashtra (82 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (37 sq kms) and Gujarat (33 sq kms) are the top three gainers in terms of mangrove cover. 7 out of the 12 mangrove states have shown an increase in mangrove cover and none of them show any negative change. Mangrove eco-systems are rich in biodiversity and provide a number of ecological services. They also play a major role in protecting coastal areas from erosion, tidal storms and tsunamis.

Striving towards achieving Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) goal
India is striving towards achieving its NDC goal of creating additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.   As per present assessment total carbon stock in forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes. There is an increase of 38 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment.
 Q. 496. Disaster Risk Reduction
Prime Minister has outlined a 10-point agenda for renewing efforts for disaster risk reduction. The following points were emphasised by the Prime Minister:
Stress to be laid on encouraging involvement of women volunteers and seeking greater cohesion in international response to deal with all kinds of calamities.
Emphasis on working towards risk coverage for all, starting from poor households to small and medium enterprises and multi-national corporations to nation states.
Emphasis has also been put on development sectors for imbibing the principles of disaster risk management and encouraging the involvement and leadership of women as they are the biggest sufferers of any disaster. Women are disproportionately affected by disasters. They also have unique strengths and insights. Therefore women should be trained a large number to support special needs of women affected by disasters.
Also there is a need for investment in risk mapping globally, leveraging of technology to enhance the efficiency of the disaster risk management efforts and utilising the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies.
Moreover, there is a need to build local capacity, ensuring that the opportunity to learn from a disaster is not wasted and bring about greater cohesion in international response to disasters.
 Q. 495. Gobindobhog rice
Gobindobhog rice from Bardhaman district of Bengal has got Geographical Indication status. The south Damodar belt has been the traditional area of Gobindobhog rice cultivation. The rice has several advantages. It is cultivated late and therefore is not affected by rains as much. It is less prone to pests as well. The region of Burdwan (now divided into the districts of east and west Burdwan) is known as the rice bowl of Bengal. As a result of getting the GI tag, as the certification is also called, rice from other regions or rice of other varieties cannot be branded as ‘Gobindobhog’. This would strengthen the marketability of the rice in domestic as well as international markets.
 Q. 494. ASH TRACK Mobile App
Ministry Power and New & Renewable Energy has launched a Web based monitoring System and a Fly Ash mobile application named ASH TRACK. These platforms will enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (Thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as – road contractors, cement plants etc.
Power station can see the location of prospective ash users surrounding the power plant like – cement plants, NHAI, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) projects, brick producers, etc. Power plants can contact the prospective users for supply of ash
The ASH TRACK App would be managing 200 million tonnes of fly ash by tracking coal based power plants situated within 100 km and 300 km from given location and availability of fly ash, along with prospective users within the same radius. The App gives plant-wise, utility-wise and State-wise ash utilization status in the country.
The thermal plants would regularly update fly ash generation, utilization and stock on the web portal and the app. This would allow effective monitoring and reviewing for increasing ash utilization. This would also help in protecting environment in terms of reduction in fugitive emissions, saving of precious top soil and conservation of land for sustainable development.
Fly ash, the end product of combustion during the process of power generation in the coal based thermal power plants, is a proven resource material for many applications of construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low lying area development, etc.
 Q. 493. Indian giant squirrel
The Indian giant squirrel, or Malabar giant squirrel, is a large tree squirrel species native to India. It is a large-bodied diurnal, arboreal, and mainly herbivorous squirrel found in South Asia.
The Indian giant squirrel is an upper-canopy dwelling species, which rarely leaves the trees, and requires tall profusely branched trees for the construction of nests. The Giant Squirrel is mostly active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening, resting in the midday. They are typically solitary animals that only come together for breeding. The species is believed to play a substantial role in shaping the ecosystem of its habitat by engaging in seed dispersal.
The species is endemic to deciduous, mixed deciduous, and moist evergreen forests of peninsular India, reaching as far north as the Satpura hill range of Madhya Pradesh (approx. 22° N).
The Indian Giant Squirrel lives alone or in pairs. They build large globular nests of twigs and leaves, placing them on thinner branches where large predators can't get to them. These nests become conspicuous in deciduous forests during the dry season. An individual may build several nests in a small area of forest which are used as sleeping quarters, with one being used as a nursery.
Captive breeding of the Malayan giant squirrel has shown positive results. In Canara, the Indian Giant Squirrel has been spotted with young ones recently.
 Q. 492. New gateway to South-East Asia
Jogighopa is set to become India’s gateway to South-East Asia as well as the rest of the North-East. The road ministry is gearing up to develop a multimodal logistics park (MMLP) there with road, rail, waterways and air transport facilities. Jogighopa is a small town located on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in the Bongaigaon district in the state of Assam.
The development includes railway sidings, container terminals, warehousing, non-cargo processing, a truck terminal, common facilities, support infrastructure and equipment.
A special purpose vehicle, backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will be created to execute the project.
Under the project, all four types of transportation—road, rail, air and waterways—will be available.
The current transit corridors from mainland India to the North-East region pass through an area known as the “Chicken’s Neck”—a narrow tract of land in India between the borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Since it is close to these borders and cannot be expanded, the North-East region requires an alternative route for providing connectivity to the rest of India—a route with adequate expansion potential. The Indo-Bangladesh road route, along with the National Waterways-2 , provides such an option.
Setting Jogighopa as India’s gateway to South-East Asia comes at a time when India’s neighbours are gearing up for trade. For example, Bangladesh’s development of the Khulna-Dhaka-Sylhet Economic Corridor and the Banglabandha-Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Economic Corridor—to promote industrial development in the region. These initiatives are expected to drive freight movement in the region and facilitate trade between India and Bangladesh, and between Bangladesh and Bhutan through India. The decision is also significant because of the sustained “Act East” policy of the government.
 Q. 491. Biodegradable plastics
Biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics can be plant- or oil-based. The plant-based variety are known as bioplastics and are derived from raw materials such as corn and potato starch, so manufacturers claim they are sustainable as well as biodegradable. Oil-based plastics are typically derived from non-renewable sources such as crude oil, and are processed using energy-intensive and environmentally hazardous techniques. Degradable plastics break down relatively quickly under specific environmental conditions – photodegradable plastics degrade when exposed to light and biodegradable plastics can be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

Plastic materials are made up of long chains of molecules and the molecular weight of a plastic gives an indication of the length of its chains. Plastic is a potential food source for microbes because it is organic (contains carbon atoms) and the shorter the chains, the more easily digestible the plastic is. For example, polythene is biodegradable as long as it has a molecular weight of less than 500. In some cases, additives are used to enhance the biodegradation of a plastic, and some types work by breaking up the plastic’s chains. Additives can be introduced in different amounts so that biodegradation begins after the required shelf life and at a controlled rate.

When biodegradable plastics are buried in landfill, there is a limited supply of oxygen and water so they break down anaerobically, releasing methane. Oxo-biodegradable plastics seem to offer an advantage in this regard because they break down without releasing methane. However, as their name suggests, their requirement for oxygen to enable the degradation process to occur means it will not break down if buried. The degradation consists of two steps – first an oxidisation process takes place under the action of heat or light, which reduces the molecular weight of the plastic. Then microbes break down the plastic further. A plastic material, such as polythene, can be made oxo-biodegradable by the addition of salts of transition elements such as cobalt or iron, which are referred to as the pro-oxidants.

Compostable plastics
Two problems with the breakdown of biodegradable plastics are that the process can take a long time and the remaining solid products, while existing in very small and often invisible fragments, are sometimes toxic. This is where compostable plastics (sometimes confused with biodegradable plastics) differ, because for plastics to be termed compostable they must break down in a timely manner and leave no toxic residue. The resulting compost supports plant growth, but it can contain inorganic materials, so differs from garden compost. The time compostable plastics take to break down must be similar to that taken by other compostable materials, such as plant waste, but the process normally requires an industrial composting facility due to the need for much higher temperatures than those in a domestic composter.
 Q. 490. India Health Fund
The India Health Fund (IHF), an initiative by Tata Trusts in collaboration with The Global Fund, is inviting applications from organizations and individuals for innovations and technologies designed to combat tuberculosis and malaria – two diseases that account for over 423,000 deaths and around 1.5 million confirmed cases respectively on an annual basis in India. India contributes to 26% of the global TB burden and 68% of all malaria cases in the Southeast Asia region. The IHF aims to support new products and strategies that impact the entire lifecycle of TB and malaria, from prevention to post-cure recovery.
The Government of India has set a target of eliminating tuberculosis by 2025 and malaria by 2030. The IHF was launched in 2016 with the mission of addressing these key health challenges in the country as a private-sector engine to support new products and strategies.
 Q. 489. World Water Day
World Water Day is an annual observance day on 22 March to highlight the importance of freshwater. It is also used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The first World Water Day, designated by the United Nations, was commemorated in 1993. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of World Water Day. This year’s theme of World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water’ and exploring nature-based solutions (NBS) to the water challenges that we are currently facing.
Previous themes for the years 2015 to 2017 were "Water and Sustainable Development", "Water and Jobs'" and "Why waste water?" (which included aspects of wastewater and reuse). The focus on universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6.
The UN World Water Development Report is released each year around World Water Day.
 Q. 488. Ashgabat Agreement
India recently joined the Ashgabat Agreement.  Ashgabat Agreement was instituted in April 2011 to establish an international multimodal transport and transit corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. The Agreement was first signed by Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Oman and Qatar on 25 April 2011. While Qatar subsequently withdrew from the agreement in 2013, Kazakhstan and Pakistan joined the grouping in 2016. The Ashgabat Agreement came into force in April 2016. Its objective is to enhance connectivity within the Eurasian region and synchronize it with other regional transport corridors, including the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Among other things, the regional transport grouping is considering measures to create a "green" corridor for vehicles to reduce the time spent at railway checkpoints for replacing wheel sets, create favourable conditions and effective schemes for storing and handling cargo, and use of berths of sea ports. In order to increase the attractiveness of the routes as well as the volume of transit cargo, the group has also considered the issue of having a unified tariff for transit goods by rail.
India’s entry into Ashgabat Agreement comes a month after the inauguration of the first phase of the Shahid Beheshti terminal at Chabahar port on December 3, 2017.  India had financed the terminal to the tune of $85 million. With the commissioning a greater prospect now opens up for enlarging both the operational and practical scope of Chabahar to become a vital gateway and the shortest land route to Central Asia.
Connecting to Afghanistan via Chabahar has been essential for India. The route has already sent shipments of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar port. Afghanistan has already shifted 80 per cent of its cargo traffic from Pakistan’s Karachi port to Iran’s Bandar Abbas and Chabahar ports. More Afghan trade is expected to eventually shift to the Chabahar Port and will drastically reduce Afghanistan’s dependency on Pakistan for transit of Afghan goods.
Ashgabat Agreement would enable India to utilise the existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interactions with the Eurasian region. Further, this would synchronise with India’s efforts to implement the INSTC for enhanced connectivity.
In general, joining the Ashgabat Agreement would make it easier for India to reach out to Central Asia which houses strategic and high-value minerals including uranium, copper, titanium, ferroalloys, yellow phosphorus, iron ore, rolled metal, propane, butane, zinc, coking coal, etc.
India has also signed a bilateral agreement with Tajikistan in 2015 to enhance connectivity. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are already members of the INSTC. India’s participation in Eurasian connectivity projects through the Ashgabat Agreement will serve to address the integration process under the EAEU and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in more viable ways.
 Q. 487. 'Ombudsman Scheme' for non-banking financial companies (NBFC)
'Ombudsman Scheme' for non-banking financial companies (NBFC)
  • The RBI has launched 'Ombudsman Scheme' for non-banking financial companies (NBFC) for redressal of complaints against them.
  • The scheme will provide a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs covered under the Scheme.
  • The offices of the NBFC ombudsmen will function at four metro centres -- Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. They will handle complaints of customers in the respective zones.
  • The Scheme will cover all deposit-taking NBFCs. Based on the experience gained, the RBI would extend the scheme to cover NBFCs having asset size of Rs 100 crore and above with customer interface.
  • The Scheme provides for an Appellate mechanism.
  • NBFC Ombudsman does not charge any fee for filing and resolving customers' complaints.
 Q. 486. Social security system
Social security system
The labour ministry has proposed a comprehensive social security system to provide retirement, health, oldage, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits to 50 crore workers in the country.
The plan is to implement the scheme in three phases over 10 years, after which the government hopes to make it universal. The scheme will be implemented in four tiers with the government wholly financing the cost for people below the poverty line.
The scheme will be largely funded from the Building and Construction Worker Cess and funds allocated to other scattered schemes through the National Stabilisation Fund set up for the purpose.
Its implementation would be regulated and monitored by an overarching regulatory body called the National Social Security Council to be chaired by the prime minister with finance minister, health minister and chief ministers of all states along with workers and employers as its members. The 50 crore beneficiaries will be classified into four tiers.
The first phase of the scheme will cost Rs 18,500 crore. The first phase will see all workers getting the bare minimum, which includes health security and retirement benefits. The second phase will see unemployment benefits being added to it while in the third phase, other welfare measures can be added.
The first tier will comprise destitute and people below poverty line who cannot contribute for their security and hence the cost will be entirely borne by the government under tax-based schemes.
Workers in the unorganised sector who have some contributory power but are not self-sufficient may be covered under the subsidised schemes in the second tier.
The third tier of beneficiaries will include those who either by themselves or jointly with their employers can make adequate contribution to the schemes, so as to be self-sufficient while the fourth tier will comprise comparatively affluent people who can make their own provisions for meeting the contingencies or risks as they rise.
India's total workforce stands at around 500 million. A little over 10% of this is in the organised sector, where workers enjoy social security of some sort under EPFO and ESIC. But a major portion of the total workforce is still in the unorganised sector, where workers do not often get even the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security cover.
Workers employed in the organised sector along with the employee contribute around 25% of the basic salary towards the provident fund and another 6% for insurance, taking the total contribution to more than 30%, which manages for the medical, provident fund and pension benefits for the employee.
 Q. 485. Rustom 2
Rustom 2 or TAPAS-BH-201 is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), designed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance roles for the Indain Armed Forces. It is capable of carrying different combination of payloads including synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness systems. The UAV has an endurance of 24 hours and is similar to the American predator series of drones.
The DRDO Rustom is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation for the three services, Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force of the Indian Armed Forces.
There will be three variants of the Rustom UAV.
  • Rustom-I: Tactical UAV with endurance of 12 hours (based on NAL's LCRA which was inspired by Burt Rutan's Long-EZ)
  • Rustom-H: Larger UAV with flight endurance of over 24 hours (completely different design from Rustom-1), higher range and service ceiling than Rustom-1.
  • Rustom-II: An unmanned combat air vehicle based on Rustom-H model. It is often compared with Predator drones by Indian scientists and media.
 Q. 484. Olive Ridley Turtle

About Olive Ridley Turtle
The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. These turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps Ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs. Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years, and the species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.
Turtle turnaround
  • An initiative driven by fishing communities in Odisha has not only given the Olive Ridley turtles a new lease of life, but has also halted the construction of ports in the nesting areas.
  • The turtle nesting at Astaranga, Puri is significant as turtle deaths have occurred with alarming regularity in Odisha.
  •  Though the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary has traditionally been the most preferred nesting site for turtles, the nesting at Astaranga has opened new vistas to secure Olive Ridley numbers. 
  • The record nesting of turtle eggs at Astaranga is due to the efforts of Green Light Rural Association (GLRA), a non-profit based in Astaranga, which has also managed to stall a state government move to acquire land for proposed ports in the fragile nesting area.
The Green Light Rural Association (GLRA) efforts
  • GLRA’s activities are focused in the region around the mouth of the river Devi, which is a distributary of the Mahanadi.
  • 1994: they undertook a rigorous seven-month-long tour to various nesting sites to monitor turtle nesting and documented the various factors that were leading to turtle deaths. 
  • 2002: GLRA started a project called “Turtle Friends” to identify strategic sites and fishing communities along the coastline.
  • 2007: GLRA started a programme to control the stray dog population in the Devi mass nesting area with the help of the Blue Cross of Hyderabad and the Odisha government’s department of animal husbandry, as stray dogs often consume turtle eggs from the nesting sites.
  • 2009-10: GLRA built an artificial reef with the help of fishing communities and funding support from the Orissa Marine Resources Conservation Consortium. This artificial reef of concrete blocks stopped net fishing and helped create new fishing areas.
  • GLRA apprised forest officials of a new phenomenon affecting turtles visiting the area. Fisher folk used massive artificial illumination for shrimp seedling harvesting. The zero mesh nets also prevented turtles from climbing ashore for nesting. Strong illumination drove away the turtles since they are highly sensitive to light.
GLRA members are also worried about the ports being planned along Odisha’s coastline. Conservationists say that even minor ports, such as the proposed Astaranga Port, which was announced by the state government in 2010, could endanger turtle nesting.
 Q. 483. Revised classification for diabetes
Scientists have revised classification for diabetes. There are five distinct types of diabetes that can occur in adulthood, rather than the two currently recognised.
Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications.
Diabetes occurs due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.
The results showed the patients could be separated into five distinct clusters.
  • Cluster 1 - severe autoimmune diabetes is broadly the same as the classical type 1 - it hit people when they were young, seemingly healthy and an immune disease left them unable to produce insulin
  • Cluster 2 - severe insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in cluster 1 - they were young, had a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the immune system was not at fault
  • Cluster 3 - severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were generally overweight and making insulin but their body was no longer responding to it
  • Cluster 4 - mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those in cluster 3
  • Cluster 5 - mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder
 Q. 482. Two-tier security for Aadhaar data
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has rolled out a new two-tier security process that will come into effect from June 1.
It is aimed at eliminating the need to share and store Aadhaar numbers. The UIDAI has introduced the concept of a virtual ID, which an Aadhaar holder can use in lieu of his/her Aadhaar number at the time of authentication, besides sharing of ‘limited KYC’ with certain agencies.
A Virtual ID (VID) will be a temporary 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number. There can only be one active and valid VID for an Aadhaar number at any given time and it will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from VID.
The VID authentication will be similar to using Aadhaar numbers. However, since a VID is temporary, agencies will not be able to use it for de-duplication.
Only the Aadhaar holder will be able to generate a VID and no other entity, including authentication user agencies (AUAs), can do it on their behalf.