Current Affairs Nature

  Common Service Centres (CSC) e-Governance Services India has signed a memorandum of understanding with Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL) for sale of FASTags. The agreement will facilitate the sale of PPBL FASTags through the last mile network of 3.6 lakh CSCs, helping realise the government’s vision of cashless and smooth transit at all toll plazas across the country. FASTags which work on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology have been made mandatory at toll gates on national highways. The FASTag process allows toll payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it, thus doing away with the need for waiting in queues, saving time and fuel.
Source: The Business Standard

  Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), India’s largest private sector port operator, has agreed to buy a 75% stake in Krishnapatnam Port Co. Ltd (KPCL) at an enterprise value of Rs 13,572 crores. The Krishnapatnam Port is located in southern Andhra Pradesh and is a multi-cargo facility. It handled 54 million tonnes (mt) of cargo in the year ended 31 March 2019. The purchase will accelerate Adani Ports’ plan to expand its cargo-handling capacity to 400mt by 2025.
Source: The Business Standard

  Kolkata Police has started the 3rd edition of ‘Sukanya‘ project. The project aims to provide self-defence training to girls studying in schools and colleges in the city. The third batch of ‘Sukanya’ started at 100 city-based schools and colleges situated in Kolkata Police jurisdiction. Sukanya project is an initiative of the Kolkata Police’s Community Policing Wing to provide self-defence training to girl students of city-based schools, colleges and universities. The initiative is funded by Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Department of the state government.
Source: The News On AIR

  Former Governor of Karnataka T N Chaturvedi passed away. He was the 14th Governor of Karnataka from 2002–2007. He also served as of Comptroller and Auditor General of India from 1984 to 1989. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1991.
Source: The News on AIR

  An international team of astronomers funded in part by NASA has found the farthest galaxy group identified as “EGS77“. EGS77, the trio of galaxies dates to a time when the universe was only 680 million years old, or less than 5% of its current age of 13.8 billion years. EGS77 is the farthest group of galaxies to have ever been sighted. EGS77 was discovered as part of the Cosmic Deep And Wide Narrowband (Cosmic DAWN) survey. The team of astronomers was led by an Indian-origin Goa-born scientist, Vithal Tilvi. Vithal Tilvi is currently a visiting researcher at the School of Earth & Space Exploration, at the Arizona State University, US.
Source: The Economic Times

 On January 6, 2020, the fifth Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference was held at Pune. It was organized by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. The conference is held twice a year.
  • Highlights
The conference is to be held between January 6, 2020 and January 10, 2020. It aims at promoting interaction between the Drosophila researchers in the region of Asia-Pacific. The conference acts as a common platform to link the Asia-Pacific researchers with other parts of the world. The event is the largest meet of Drosophila researchers in the whole world.
  • The Research
Drosophila is the small fruit fly. Scientists and Researchers for the past 100 years have been using the fly as a model organism in researches.
  • Drosophila
The small fruit flies are extensively used as model organisms in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and developmental biology. The main reason for the fly being used as model in genome researches is that the relationship between fruit fly and humans are undeniably similar. Both the genres pass on the traits to successive generations in similar way! The density of genes per chromosomes is higher in Drosophila than that of humans. The flies have 15,500 genes on four chromosomes. On the other hand, humans have 22,000 genes in 23 chromosomes. Hence, the passage of traits throughout generations are much more higher in these flies and ideal for genetic studies.

  The Government of India has released new performance energy standards for the performance of air conditioners after consulting Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The BEE operating under Ministry of Power develop strategies and policies with primary objective of reduction in energy usage. According to BEE, the total air conditioner capacity of India is 80 million tonnes of refrigeration. It is estimated that this will increase to 250 million by 2030.
  • Highlights of the new standards
The ISEER (Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) according to the new standard should be in the range of 2.7 to 3.5 for window ACs and 3.3 to 5 for split air conditioners. ISEER is the ratio between total amount of heat an AC can remove when operated in active mode to the amount of energy required during the same period. Also, the air conditioners should have a default setting temperature of 24 degree Celsius. The default setting is applicable to all brands and types including unitary ACs, Split ACs, multi-stage ACs, and the ACs that are rated between 1 star and 5 star. The new standards come into effect from January 1, 2020.
  • Voluntary Star Labelling
In 2006, the BEE launched the voluntary star labelling programme. However, the labelling was applicable only to fixed speed Room Air Conditioners. The star labelling programme launched helped in saving 4.6 billion units in the year 2017-18 alone
  • Current Scenario in India
According to Power Ministry, every one degree increase in air-conditioner temperature results in saving 6% of electricity consumed. Countries like Japan has regulation to keep temperature set default at 28 degree Celsius. The concept of default setting was introduced in 2018. Since then several campaigns and surveys were conducted to spread awareness and get feedback about the default setting.

 On January 5, 2020, Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) and LED Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) marked their fifth anniversary. The schemes were implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL). EESL is a joint venture of PSU operating under Ministry of Power.
  • Highlights
Under the SLNP initiative, in five years around 1.03 crore smart LED street lights were installed. This helped in reducing Green House Gas emission by 4.8 million tonnes annually. Also, the initiative has created 13,000 jobs. Under UJALA programme, 36.13 crore LED bubs have been distributed so far. This helped in reducing the green house gas emission by 38 million tonnes annually.
  • Awards
The initiatives have been highly successful and hence gained world wide recognition. The programmes received South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPLA) in 2017 and CIO 100 award in 2019.
  • Prices
The scheme has brought down the prices of LED bulbs to one-tenth of rates as in 2015. Also, they have helped in reducing customer bills by 15%.
 
  • Future Plans
The SLNP programme aims to replace 1.34 crore street lights with smart LEDs by March 2020. This will help in reducing peak demands by 1.5 GW. Also, this will reduce Green House Gas Emissions by 6.2 million tonnes. The implementing agency of the schemes has planned to invest another 8,000 crores of rupees by 2024 to install mote than 30 million LED street lights.

  The Indian Army will sign MoU with Russia to procure AK-203 assault rifles. According to the deal, around 1 lakh rifles are to be received directly from Russia and the rest will be manufactured in India
  • Highlights
The rifles will be manufactured at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh by a joint Venture (JV) called Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL). Of the JV, 50.5% is to be owned by India and 49.5% by Russia.
  • Current Status
Apart from the AK-203 rifles, the Indian army recently received the first batch of 10,000 SIG-716 assault rifles from US. The contract was signed in February 2019. The plan is to provide the high cost SIGs to the front-line troops and the remaining forces will be armed with AK-203 rifles. Currently Indian army is using indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles and is looking for ways to replace them.
  • INSAS
INSAS is a light machine gun that is currently being manufactured at Ordnance Factory Trichy, Ishapore Arsenal and Kanpur. It was adopted in 1990. The rifles were widely used during Kargil war. There were complaints of jamming and cracking of the rifles in high altitudes of Himalayas. Similar complaints were also reported by the Nepalese army during the 2005 Maoists clash.

 The Marine Ecosystems-Challenges and Opportunities (MECOS), the third international symposium is to be held in Kochi. The symposium is conducted by the Marine Biological association of India between January 7, 2020 and January 10, 2020.
  • Highlights
Scientists, Fisheries researchers, Marine biotechnologists and oceanographers from all over the world are to participate in the meet. The symposium will act as a common platform for the experts to discuss on climate crisis, unusual warming of Arabian Sea, ocean acidification, etc. It will discuss development of small-scale fisheries, green fishing technologies and eco-labelling. The symposium will review concerns of marine ecosystem and will formulate new strategies for sustainable utilisation of marine wealth. The Conference is important because billions of people rely on oceans for their jobs and food. A Healthy ocean is also important for economic growth and food production.
  • SDG-14
The symposium is to focus on the Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations, SDG-14. SDG-14 says, “Conserve and Sustainably use the oceans and its resources for sustainable development”
  • Significance
Ocean acidification that is caused due to uptake of carbon-dioxide has changed the chemical composition of the seawaters. According to the United Nations, over the past 30 years, acidity has increased by 26% since pre-industrial times. The marine fish stocks that are at biologically sustainable levels have declined from 90% (1974) to 99.9% (2015).


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