Daily PT Capsule May 3

Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services
Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services

Here is the digest of  today’s important newspaper articles and quiz!

Beijing to counter US pivot

China has invited its neighbours at the Foreign ministerial Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, to join Beijing in framing a security governance model with “Asian features”. The move is to counter US pivot to Asia.

The architecture of such a security initiative is still in the making but China backs it by pointing the failure of the ‘Pivot to Asia’ or ‘rebalance’ doctrine of the Obama administration. The launch of the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy by the U.S. in recent years did not bring Asia peace, but only uncertainty. It proved that a U.S.-led alliance system is not the right option to safeguard the peace and stability of Asia. Instead, a system of security governance with Asian features, as suggested by China, will be best for Asian development according to China.


What is the US pivot to Asia? – President Obama’s Asia strategy represents a significant shift in American foreign policy from a Middle Eastern/European focus to an East/South Asian one, also referred to as ‘pivot to Asia’.

The American military and diplomatic ‘pivot,’ or ‘rebalance’ toward Asia became a popular buzzword after Hillary Clinton authored America’s Pacific Century, in Foreign Policy. Clinton’s article emphasizes the importance of the Asia-Pacific, noting that nearly half of the world’s population resides there, making its development vital to American economic and strategic interests. She states that “open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the nuclear proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.”

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia


Potential habitable planets discovered

A team of international scientists have discovered trio of Earth-like planets that are the best bet so far for finding life outside our solar system.  The three orbit a dwarf star a mere 39 light-years away, and are likely comparable in size and temperature to Earth and Venus.

The planets had the “winning combination” of being similar in size to Earth, “potentially habitable” and close enough so their atmospheres can be analysed with current technology.

The team of scientists has been tracking several dwarf stars. They have identified a promising one and named it TRAPPIST-1 about one eighth the size of the Sun, and significantly cooler. The astronomers noticed that its infrared signal faded slightly at regular intervals, evidence of objects in orbit. Analysis confirmed they were exoplanets — planets revolving around stars outside our solar system.


What are dwarf stars? – Dwarf star, is any star of average or low luminosity, mass, and size. Important subclasses of dwarf stars are white dwarfs and red dwarfs. Dwarf stars include so-called main-sequence stars, among which is the Sun. The colour of dwarf stars can range from blue to red, the corresponding temperature varying from high (above 10,000 K) to low (a few thousand K).

What are exoplanets? – An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun. Over 2000 exoplanets have been discovered since 1988 (more specifically, 2111 planets in 1354 planetary systems, including 510 multiple planetary systems).

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia


Western Ghats under threat as per IUCN report

A report ‘Protecting people through nature’ has been prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to the report many natural and mixed World Heritage Sites, including the Western Ghats, are threatened by harmful industrial activities. The harmful industrial activities include oil and gas exploration and extraction, mining, illegal logging and large-scale constructions.

Three of the seven such Indian sites – Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans, and the serial sites of Western Ghats – have been listed as being under threat.

The report highlights that the Western Ghats support “the single largest population of endangered Asian elephants and vulnerable Indian bison.” The Western Ghats sites are facing “extractive threats” in the form of “oil and gas concessions” and “mines and mining concessions.” The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary faces unsustainable water use whereas Sundarbans has issues related to water management.


What is the nature of IUCN? – The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, lobbying and education. IUCN’s mission is to “influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”

Over the past decades, IUCN has widened its focus beyond conservation ecology and now incorporates issues related to gender equality, poverty alleviation and sustainable business in its projects. Unlike other international NGOs, IUCN does not itself aim to mobilize the public in support of nature conservation. It tries to influence the actions of governments, business and other stakeholders by providing information and advice, and through lobbying and partnerships.

The organization is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.

IUCN has a membership of over 1200 governmental and non-governmental organizations. Some 11,000 scientists and experts participate in the work of IUCN commissions on a voluntary basis. It employs approximately 1000 full-time staff in more than 60 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia


High Level of nitrate in Mandur, Bangalore groundwater

The groundwater at Mandur in Bengaluru south taluk has nitrate value as high as 244 mg/l against the permissible levels of 45 mg/l.  The chemical analysis of groundwater was done as a part of groundwater monitoring, carried out by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

The area was the destination of garbage dumping for years. Nitrate contamination has been usually found near industries, areas surrounding corroded sewer lines, polluted lakes, and market areas where garbage decays and percolates into the ground.

In 2013, the CGWB had found fluoride and radon gas above permissible levels in the city’s groundwater.


What is the effect of nitrate in groundwater?  –  Nitrate in drinking water can cause Methaemoglobinaemia caused by the decreased ability of blood to carry vital oxygen around the body. It is most important in bottle fed infants and water from wells in rural areas is of special concern. Controlling nitrate levels in drinking water sources to below around 50mg/litre is an effective preventive measure.

A sort of “blue baby syndrome” can also be caused by methemoglobinemia. It is widely believed to be caused by nitrate contamination in groundwater resulting in decreased oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin in babies leading to death.

What is the effect of radon gas in groundwater? – Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as the decay product of radium. It is one of the densest substances that remains a gas under normal conditions, and is considered to be a health hazard due to its radioactivity. Its most stable isotope, 222Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days. Due to its high radioactivity, it has been less well-studied by chemists, but a few compounds are known.

The effects of radon, if found in food or drinking water, are unknown. Following ingestion of radon dissolved in water, the biological half-life for removal of radon from the body ranges from 30 to 70 minutes. More than 90% of the absorbed radon is eliminated by exhalation within 100 minutes, By 600 minutes, only 1% of the absorbed amount remains in the body.

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia


SC Panel to monitor MCI

A parliamentary panel report, has described the MCI as an “ossified and opaque body” unable to cope with the “humongous” task of managing medical education in over 400 colleges across the country.

The Supreme court used its rare and extraordinary powers under the Constitution  Art 142 to set up a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for at least a year.

Justice Lodha committee will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act. All policy decisions of the MCI will require approval of the Oversight Committee. The Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions. The Committee will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report.


What is Art 142? – According to Art 142 the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or orders so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.

Source: TheHindu

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