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Hindu Notes from General Studies-01

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‘Disappearing Arctic ice threatens polar bears’

News

  • A committee of wildlife experts warned that Canada’s largest land predator, the polar bear, was at risk of disappearing from its vast Arctic landscape as melting Arctic sea ice makes hunting prey a challenge.

Beyond News

  • Bears use sea ice and the “same sit-and-wait techniques familiar to ice fishers” to hunt seals for food.
  • Predictions of longer ice-free Arctic summers will make hunting “much more difficult” for polar bears.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-02

India gets first witness protection scheme

News

  • The Supreme Courtbrought in place a witness protection regime in the country noting that one of the main reasons for witnesses turning hostile is that they are not given security by the State.

Beyond News

  • A Bench said Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 will come into effect immediately across all States.
  • Under it, witness protection may be as simple as providing a police escort to the witness up to the courtroom or, in more complex cases involving an organised criminal group, taking extraordinary measures such as offering temporary residence in a safe house, giving a new identity, and relocation at an undisclosed place.
  • The top court said the scheme, which aimed to enable a witness to depose fearlessly and truthfully, would be the law of the land till Parliament enacted suitable legislation.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-03

RBI keeps interest rates unchanged

News

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has left the key interest rate or the repo rate unchanged at 6.5% during the fifth bimonthly monetary policy review which was on expected lines while maintaining the ‘calibrated tightening’ stance though it reduced the inflation projection sharply.

Beyond News

  • During the post-policy interaction, RBI Governor Urjit Patel said the central bank was ready to take policy action if upside risks to inflation did not materialise.
  • Consumer price index-based inflation is projected at 2.7-3.2% for the second half of the current financial year and 3.8-4.2% in the first half of the next financial year. In the previous policy review held in October, inflation was projected at 3.9-4.5% for the second half of FY19 and 4.8% in the first quarter of FY20.
  • The sharp fall in inflation comes on the back of 30% decline in crude oil prices in November compared with October.
  • The RBI decided to retain GDP growth rate for 2018-19 at 7.4% and estimated growth at 7.5% for the first half of the next financial year.
  • In a move to boost credit flows, the central bank has decided to reduce the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) requirement for banks to 18% of net demand and time liabilities from 19.5% over the next six quarters, by 25 bps each in every quarter.
  • The first reduction of 25 basis points will take effect in the quarter starting in January 2019.

 ‘Air pollution kills 7 million every year’

News

  • Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated $5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a report.

Findings

  • The same human activities that are destabilising the Earth’s climate also contribute directly to poor health, said the report released at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.
  • The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs.
  • The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself.
  • When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.

World’s first baby born via womb transplanted from dead donor

News

  • A woman in Brazil who received a womb transplanted from a deceased donor has given birth to a baby girl in the first successful case of its kind, doctors reported.

Beyond News

  • The case, involved connecting veins from the donor uterus with the recipient’s veins, as well as linking arteries, ligaments and vaginal canals.
  • It comes after 10 previously known cases of uterus transplants from deceased donors in the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey failed to produce a live birth.
  • The girl born in the Brazilian case was delivered via caesarean section at 35 weeks and three days, and weighed 2,550 grams.
  • The current norm for receiving a womb transplant is that the organ would come from a live family member willing to donate it.
  • The first baby born after a live donor womb transplant was in Sweden in 2013. Scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this kind, resulting in 11 live births. Experts estimate that infertility affects around 10 to 15 percent of couples of reproductive age worldwide. Of this group, around one in 500 women have uterine problems.
  • Before uterus transplants became possible, the only options to have a child were adoption or surrogacy.
  • In the Brazilian case, the recipient had been born without a uterus due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-KŶster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45 and died of a stroke.

India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-11 is aloft in space from Kourou

News

  • As most of India slept, its heaviest and most advanced communication satellite, GSAT-11, was shot to space from a European spaceport in faraway South America.

Beyond News

  • The mission of the 5,854-kg giant ‘bird’ is to enable much faster Internet services than now to users down home over the next 15 years. GSAT-11 was launched from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana.
  • The large high-throughput satellite (HTS), along with two smaller HTS satellites GSAT-19 and GSAT-29 launched earlier (by ISRO from Srihsrihkota) will kick off effective satellite-based broadband services in remote, hitherto uncovered rural areas of the country.
  • These and a few more upcoming HTS fleet will also innovatively enable the use of the superior and efficient Ka frequency band.
  • GSAT-11, described by the space agency as a giant satellite, is the heaviest ever built by ISRO. (Its next biggest is the GSAT-17, weighing 3,477 kg and which was also launched for ISRO in June 2017 by the same European launch operator Arianespace.)
  • The new ‘big bird’ adds 40 more transponders, 32 in the Ku band and eight in the Ka band being introduced newly in an Indian satellite. Indian Internet users are estimated at over 450 million, apart from various businesses, bank ATM services and public organisations, with a growing appetite for ever speedier and better broadband services. 
  • Enabling in-flight Internet and village web services are the government’s other goals. By enabling rural high-speed connectivity the HTS satellite also promises to bridge the urban-rural digital divide.
  • Since 1981 Arianespace has put to space 22 Indian communication satellites (including GSAT-11) and will launch GSAT-31 and GSAT-30 in 2019. It also holds the highest number of 590 commercial satellite launches to date worldwide.
  • ISRO’ s new and most powerful launcher can lift only satellite of nearly 4,000 kg. It is developing launchers that can put our spacecraft to orbit from within India.

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