Current Affairs Notes from Hindu May 2013 - Part 2

1. Describing high Current Account Deficit (CAD) as the biggest risk to Indian economy, the RBI said any further deterioration of CAD could result in its policy reversal stance.CAD, which is the difference between the inflow and outflow of foreign currency, had touched a record high of 6.7 per cent in the December quarter of 2012.

2. The apex bank had also expressed concern over rising external debt and short-term borrowings to meet the widening CAD.

3. Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as water hyacinth, is an aquatic plant native to the Amazon basin, and is often considered a highly problematic invasive species outside its native range. Water hyacinth is a free-floating perennial aquatic plant(or hydrophyte) native to tropical and sub-tropical South America. With broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves, water hyacinth may rise above the surface of the water as much as 1 meter in height. The leaves are 10–20 cm across, and float above the water surface. 
One of the fastest growing plants known, water hyacinth reproduces primarily by way of runners or stolons, which eventually form daughter plants. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds each year, and these seeds can remain viable for more than 28 years. The common water hyacinth are vigorous growers known to double their population in two weeks. When not controlled, water hyacinth will cover lakes and ponds entirely; this dramatically impacts water flow, blocks sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starves the water of oxygen, often killing fish (or turtles). The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitos.

4.  Supreme Court has ruled that Gujarat has to part with some lions, to be shifted to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary, upholding the nation’s right to have a second habitat for lions. The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh has the potential to hold populations of all four of India's big cats the tiger, the leopard, the Asiatic lion as well as the cheetah, all four of which have coexisted in the same habitats historically before they were wiped out due to over hunting and habitat destruction.
5. India has 29 world heritage sites — 23 cultural and six natural properties as of May 7th 2013.

6. International Maritime Boundary Line - A maritime boundary is a conceptual division of the Earth's water surface areas using physiographic and/or geopolitical criteria. As such, it usually includes areas of exclusive national rights over mineral and biological resources, encompassing maritime features, limits and zones.
The zones of maritime boundaries are expressed in concentric limits surrounding coastal and feature baselines.
Coastal waters—the zone extending 3 nm. from the baseline.
Territorial sea—the zone extending 12 nm. from the baseline.
Contiguous zone—the area extending 24 nm. from the baseline.
Exclusive Economic Zone—the area extending 200 nm. from the baseline except when the space between two countries is less than 400 .

7. Over 1,00,000 children, below the age of 11 months, die of diarrhoea annually in India which is the second leading killer of young children globally, after pneumonia. India accounts for the highest number of diarrhoeal deaths. One in five children under the age of two suffer from moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) each year, which increased children’s risk of death 8.5 fold and lead to stunted growth over a two-month follow-up period. The most common cause is an infection of the intestines due to either a virus, bacteria, or parasite, a condition known as gastroenteritis.

8. Mount Everest is shedding its frozen cloak as its glaciers have shrunk at an alarming rate of 13 per cent over the last 50 years due to global warming.

9. All multicellular organisms originate from the fusion of a male and a female gamete cell, for example, the sperm and the egg cell. This results in the formation of a zygote which contains DNA from both gametes. The zygote is special because this single cell is capable of developing into an embryo and ultimately an entire organism, unlike an already-differentiated cell like a skin cell which can only develop into skin tissue. This property of the zygote is called ‘totipotency’.

10. Graphene, a one-atom thick lattice of graphite, is a synthetic material with diverse applications ranging from solar cells to diagnostics. It is simple to synthesise and deploy, and allows scientists to manipulate its properties at the atomic level. Its greatest advantage is that it is much more electrically conductive than copper or silver at room temperature. The unique property of graphene to prevent bonding between two layers while allowing charge transfer between them allows the spins of electrons in the top layer to get aligned with those in the bottom. This alignment is called an antiferromagnetic coupling. Once all electrons have the same spin, the system is said to have a magnetic field. This is the first time graphene has been shown to play a role in the creation of a magnetic field.

11. Around 2005, accelerated melting of polar ice sheet and mountain glaciers, together with rising sea level, caused the North Pole to drift towards east, marking an “abrupt departure” from the direction recorded over the past century. When mass is lost in one part of a spinning sphere, its spin axis will tilt directly towards the position of the loss. 

12. June 2013 marks the 100th year of Niels Bohr’s theory on the structure of atom — with the nucleus at the centre and electrons orbiting around it — which he compared to the planets orbiting the Sun.

13. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution of India under Chapter V, who audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government. The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies. The CAG is mentioned in the Constitution of India under Article 148 – 151. The CAG is ranked 9th and enjoys the same status as a judge of Supreme Court of India in Indian order of precedence.

14. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a federal agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India. It acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states. The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India.

15. After National Rural Health Mission, Govt cleared National Urban Health Mission, to address the health needs of 100 million urban poor would be another talking point.

16. There has been a dramatic decline in India’s child and maternal mortality figures since 2008 after the NRHM was rolled out. In fact, the decline in India’s under-five mortality and Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has been sharper than the global figures.

17. In 1990, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were marked, India’s under-five mortality was 114 deaths per 1,000 live births whereas the global average was 87. According to the 2011 official statistics, only 55 Indian children die in the first five years of their life and globally the figure is 51.