Current Affairs Notes from Hindu - May 2013 - Part 1

1. CRR, the portion of deposits that the banks are required to maintain with the RBI.
2. The repo rate, the rate at which banks borrow funds from the RBI.
3. Divergence between wholesale price index (WPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation has widened on account of higher food inflation and other factors such as increase in housing rents and transportation costs.
4. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods. India use WPI changes as a central measure of inflation. The Indian WPI figure is released on a  monthly basis.

5. The Wholesale Price Index focuses on the price of goods traded between corporations, rather than goods bought by consumers, which is measured by the Consumer Price Index. The purpose of the WPI is to monitor price movements that reflect supply and demand in industry, manufacturing and construction.
6. A consumer price index (CPI) measures changes in the price level of a market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households.
7. It is a well known climatological fact that during pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons in the North Indian Ocean, more cyclones form in the Bay of Bengal compared with the Arabian Sea. Scientists have now discovered why in some years more cyclones form in the Arabian Sea than usual. This is due to a newly discovered Phenomenon (2007) El Nino Modoki — which causes warm moist conditions in the Central Pacific and dry cold conditions in Eastern and western pacific. A more familiar phenomenon, El Nino, was found to suppress cyclone formation in the Arabian Sea.
8. The Walker circulation, also known as the Walker cell, is a conceptual model of the air flow in the tropics in the lower atmosphere (troposphere). 
9. The reason why El Nino Modoki brings only fewer number of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal is because one of the two descending limbs of the Walker Cell is over the western Pacific and Bay of Bengal. The descending limb causes dry conditions not conducive for cyclone formation. 
10. Also, an El Nino Modoki creates stronger divergence over the western Pacific and Bay of Bengal compared to El Nino. Divergence (opposite of convergence) means surface winds move away from each other and result in low relative vorticity (rotational flow of winds). These conditions are not conducive for cyclones. This explains why Bay of Bengal region (close to western Pacific) has fewer cyclones during an El Nino Modoki.

11. On the other hand, there is large convergence over the Arabian Sea during an El Nino Modoki explaining the large number of cyclones in that region.
12. Potash is one of the major nutrients required by all crops. There is no such source in India and the entire requirement of potassic fertilizer is met by imports and distributed to farmers at subsidised price eroding both the foreign exchange reserve and revenue.
13. Potassium in soil exists in different forms but the crop can absorb what is present in soil solution only. The readily available potassium in soil solution is just 2 per cent out of the total and the remaining 98 per cent of soil potassium is locked up in soil minerals and hence not readily available for plant absorption. The remaining gets fixed in the clay minerals and this could be mobilized by the use of potash mobilizing bacterium.
14. Any incandescent bulb exposed to hot sun does not burst simply because there is no excess pressure build-up in side the bulb even when exposed to the hot-sun. This is in contrast to an air-filled balloon bursting when exposed to sun-light, especially in summers. This difference is, in the case of a balloon there is already excess positive air-pressure inside which expands further excessively when exposed to sun resulting in bursting. Whereas in the case of the incandescent bulb there is only negative pressure inside (that is, inside pressure is only about 70 per cent of outside atmospheric pressure).
15. Global demand for food is predicted to increase by 40 per cent by 2030. Innovative solutions are required to increase production on the land currently used for agriculture, because we are already close to the sustainable limit of 15 per cent of the Earth’s surface that can be exploited for crop production.

16. Utilising the biology of a class of plant proteins known as ‘membrane transporters’ could be a  key contributor to the goal of global food security. These proteins, embedded within membranes of cells, could improve the efficiency with which plants took up and used water and nutrients. The transporters were also central to mechanisms for drought tolerance in plants as well as their ability to grow in other adverse conditions, such as in saline or acidic soils. A membrane transport protein (or simply transporter) is a membrane protein involved in the movement of ions, small molecules, or macromolecules, such as another protein across a biological membrane. The ‘HKT’ family of transporters, for instance, moves sodium and potassium, and plays an essential part in salt tolerance. 
17. Biochemical oxygen demand or B.O.D is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period. The BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 °C and is often used as a robust surrogate of the degree of organic pollution of water.
18. BOD is similar in function to chemical oxygen demand (COD), as both measure the amount of organic compounds in water. However, COD is less specific, since it measures everything that can be chemically oxidized, rather than just levels of biologically active organic matter.

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