GK & Current Affairs Quiz: August 22, 2019
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1. Rajiv Gauba, a 1982 batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, has been appointed as the new Cabinet Secretary for two years. His tenure will be effective from August 30, 2019 & will succeed Pradeep Kumar Sinha. Gauba is currently posted as Union Home Affairs secretary. The Cabinet Secretary is the top-most executive official and senior-most civil servant of the Government of India (GoI). He works under the direct charge of the Prime minister.
2. Ajay Kumar, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre, has been appointed as the new Defence Secretary. He succeeded Sanjay Mitra. Apart from him, Brij Kumar Agarwal has been appointed as Secretary to the Lokpal and Subash Chandra as Secretary of Department of Defence Production. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the appointments.
3. On 22nd August 2019, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik inaugurated the two-day National Conference on Varmam Science in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 'Varmam' is a constituent of the Siddha system of medicine, that also doubles up as a martial art. The national conference is being organized by the National Institute of Siddha in Chennai.
4. In a first-of-its-kind initiative in Asia, 8 armed forces veterans have initiated a high-end adventure sports survival training and self-defence mission at a pan India level titled 'Op-Blue Freedom’ as a part of their parent project -- Special Forces Adventures (SFA). The SFA is led by Major (retd) Vivek Jacob and has veterans from the Indian Army Para Commandos and the Naval Marine Commandos (MARCOS). 'Op-Blue Freedom' is a nation-wide adaptive scuba diving programme for people with disabilities as well as able-bodied persons. The purpose of the program is to train adventure enthusiasts in special forces skills like survival techniques, emergency first response skills, unarmed combat, endurance and fitness. Recently, 'Op-Blue Freedom’ is in news because the Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and football legend Bhaichung Bhutia have flagged off dive for Delhi-NCT leg for the Op-Blue Freedom.
5. The Union Tourism Ministry has decided to offer e-Tourist Visa fee based on tourist footfall to attract foreign travellers from over 160 countries to India. The ministry has proposed to introduce e-visa fee for short duration of 30 days during peak tourism season - from July to March -- at a charge of $25. However, the e-visa fee during the lean period -- from April to June -- is to be kept at $10. The Ministry also introduced a new 5 year e-tourist visa the fee of which will be $ 80 and the fees of one year e-visa would be $ 40. Though, there will be no visa fee for tourists from 14 Pacific Island nations belonging to Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) -- Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu -- and Myanamar, Argentina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa and Uruguay. Both the Ministry of Home Affairs (HA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) have given approval to the flexible e-tourist visa regime.
6. Wipro has partnered with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to conduct advanced applied research in autonomous systems - robotics and 5G. Both the organizations have jointly set up a hybrid industry-academia collaboration unit - Wipro IISc Research and Innovation Network (WIRIN) - which will drive idea discovery, research and innovation in technology and product design. Both will focus on the research and development of cutting-edge technologies in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Visual Computing, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Vehicle-to-everything communication (V2X). The insights from the research will be leveraged by Wipro for its customers and the industry ecosystem.
7. The State of Karnataka has got the first position in the SARAL – ‘State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index’ that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. The index has recently launched by the Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC), RK Singh. Telangana has acquired the 2nd position, followed by Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The index has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst & Young (EY).
8. On 18th August 2019, visitors to the Injambakkam beach in Chennai and Besant Nagar’s Eliot’s Beach noticed a blue shimmer on the waves i.e. Popularly known as 'Sea Tinkle'. According to marine experts, the Noctiluca algae were behind this blue glow phenomenon. The algae exhibit the phenomenon of bioluminescence (or biologically produce light when disturbed). The light is produced by a chemical reaction in the presence of oxygen involving an enzyme called “luciferase”. Bioluminescence has been observed in fireflies, a few beetles and in marine creatures such as Anglerfish and copepods. Though the sight that algae produce is beautiful, their arrival may not be good news for marine health. Noctiluca are known to be voracious predators of planktonic organisms(diatoms) that leads to disruption of the marine food chain. Such blooms have been reported annually in the Northern Arabian Sea since the early 2000s. Goa, Mumbai and the backwaters of Kerala have witnessed these algal blooms. Recently the magical glow featured in the Malayalam movie Kumbalangi Nights, which gained much attention.
9. The World Bank (WB) has recently released a report titled 'Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis' to address human and environmental harm. The study evaluated how a combination of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics suck oxygen from water supplies and transform water into poison for people and ecosystems. Both rich and poor countries are at risk from poor water quality as a result of pollution. The researchers noted that a key contributor to poor water quality is nitrogen, which, applied as fertiliser in agriculture, eventually enters rivers, lakes and oceans where it transforms into nitrates. Early exposure of children to nitrates affects their growth and brain development, impacting their health and adult earning potential. The report also found that when Biological Oxygen Demand (an indicator of overall water quality) crosses a certain threshold, GDP growth in areas affected by the problem drops by as much as a third because of the impact on health, agriculture and ecosystems.
10. The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network “TRAFFIC” has recently revealed a new report titled ‘Skin and Bones Unresolved: An Analysis of Tiger Seizures from 2000-2018’. As per new TRAFFIC analysis, India topped in the trafficking of tigers and tiger body parts over 19 years since 2000. Apart from tiger skin and bones, live tigers are also traded illegally in a number of cases. It accounted for 40.5% of total incidents (463) and 26.5% of tigers seized (626). Overall, the analysis estimated that 2,359 tigers and tiger body parts were seized during the period across 32 countries and territories globally, resulting from 1,142 seizure incidents. Around 95% of these seizures were recorded in countries that are home to tigers. The study was launched to coincide with discussions around the trade in tigers and other big cat species at the 18th meeting of governments that are parties to the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. It must be noted here that India has the world’s largest wild tiger population. The headquarters of TRAFFIC is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK).
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