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CURRENT AFFAIRSTHE HINDU : AUGUST 2019

Daily Current Affairs : 25th August 2019 : The Hindu News Analysis


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TAMIL NADU GOVT TO LAUNCH EDUCATION CHANNEL



Context: The channel is named as Kalvi tholaikkaatchi (Education TV) has been launched by the Tamil Nadu Government which will telecast programs on the channel from 6 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Apart from targeting the subjects related to the school children, the TV station will also feature programmes on employment opportunities and learning the craft of self-employment, and a daily telecast of employment-related news.

The TV channel would be made available through mobile applications on Android and iOS platforms.


FINAL APPROACH TO RAFALE

Context: The first batch of Rafale in India is expected to arrive by the end of April 2020.


About Rafale

  • The Rafale is referred to as an "omnirole" aircraft by Dassault. 
  • It is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.
  • Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. 
  • It has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force
  • The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria

Read More : THE RAFALE DEAL CONTROVERSY



BRAZIL RECORDS HIGHEST NUMBER OF FIRES SINCE 2013

Context: A large number of fires has been raging in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil, according to the official data.

According to the figures recorded officially, 78,383 forest fires were recorded in Brazil so far this year, the highest number of any year since 2013, and according to the experts the deforestation has been accelerated as a result of the clearing of land during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing.

How Important is Amazon for us?

Amazon which are also known as the 'Lungs of the Planet' provides the Earth with 20% of fresh oxygen every year thus playing a key role in maintaining the health of the planet.

According to the data provided by the World Wildlife Fund(WWF), Amazon rainforest - the world's largest rainforest-spans 8 countries and covers 40% of South America- nearly the size of 2/3rd of the US.

It is home to approximately 30 million people and also to a large numbers of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, most of them fairly unique to the region. Further, it is worth mentioning that a new plant or animal species is discovered there every second day in Amazon.


Also readAMAZON FOREST FIRES : Why are the "Lungs of the Planet" under stress

ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENT FUNDS(AIF)

Context: Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), especially those falling under Category III segment, are feeling left out after Govt's announcement by the government which was aimed at, among other things to revive foreign investors’ interest in the Indian capital markets.

It was announced that the surcharge that was mentioned in the Union Budget would not be applicable on foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) but made no mention of AIFs, several of which are also structured as trusts and so would be subjected to the surcharge.

What are AIF?

Alternative Investment Fund(AIF) means any fund which is established or incorporated in India and is a privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from sophisticated investors, whether Indian or foreign.

It does not include funds covered under the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.

Further, few exemptions from registration are also provided under the AIF Regulations to family trusts set up for the benefit of 'relatives as defined under Companies Act, 1956, employee welfare trusts or gratuity trusts set up for the benefit of employees, 'holding companies‘ within the meaning of Section 4 of the Companies Act, 1956.

What are the different categories of AIF?

These are categorised in 3 main categories :
  • Category I: These are those which invest in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure or other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable and shall include venture capital funds, SME Funds, social venture funds, infrastructure funds and such other Alternative Investment Funds as may be specified. 
  • Category II: These are those which do not fall in Category I and III and also not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements and as permitted in the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012. 
    • Various types of funds such as real estate funds, private equity funds (PE funds), funds for distressed assets, etc. are registered as Category II AIFs.
  • Category III: AIFs which employ diverse or complex trading strategies and may employ leverage including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives. Various types of funds such as hedge funds, PIPE Funds, etc. are registered as Category III AIFs.



Scorpion toxin that targets 'wasabi receptor' 


Context: A scorpion toxin has been discovered by the researchers that targets the 'wasabi receptor,' a chemical-sensing protein which is present in nerve cells and which is responsible for the sinus-jolting sting of wasabi.

How is it discovered?

The toxin, a short protein (or peptide) that the scientists dubbed the "wasabi receptor toxin" (WaTx), has been isolated by the scientists from the venom of the Australian Black Rock scorpion.

The discovery came out as the researchers were conducting a systematic search for compounds in animal venom that could activate, and therefore be used to probe and study, the wasabi receptor -- which is a sensory protein and is officially named TRPA1 (pronounced "trip A1") and is embedded in sensory nerve endings throughout the body.

Once activated, TRPA1 opens to reveal a channel that allows sodium and calcium ions to flow into the cell, which can induce pain and inflammation.


A HIGHLY SENSITIVE HYDROGEN SENSOR DISCOVERED

Context: A highly sensitive hydrogen detector has been discovered by the researchers at IIT-Jodhpur in collaboration with IIT-Hyderabad.


The sensor has a 30% sensitivity to detect hydrogen at 1 ppm concentration and as high as 74% sensitivity when the concentration of the gas is 100 ppm. It takes approximately 25 seconds to detect hydrogen.

Why it is necessary to have a sensor?

Hydrogen gas is a pollution-free, renewable source of energy and is seen as a fuel of choice in the future. But it is also worth remembering that it is also a highly explosive and flammable in nature. It is a small molecule and can readily mix with air but detecting its leakage become quite difficult particularly as it is colourless and tasteless.

Therefore, a sensor that can detect it even when present at very low concentration becomes the need of the time and the present discovery completely meet the criteria.

How it works?

Carbon nanofibres with minute pores are placed on the zinc oxide semiconductor. These nanofibres increases the oxygen absorption on the surface of the semiconductor. Larger the amount of oxygen adsorbed lesser will be the number of electrons available for conduction and hence increased resistance.

Hydrogen reacts with the adsorbed oxygen (to produce water molecule) thereby making more electrons available for current conduction.

The zinc oxide by itself has only 44% hydrogen sensitivity while it is a only 3.5% for carbon nanofibres. But when 0.2 weight percentage of nanofibres is loaded onto the semiconductor the sensitivity is maximum at 74%.



WATER-PROOFING MATERIAL USING FLY ASH DEVELOPED

Context: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have developed a cheap waterproofing material by coating fly ash, which is a waste by-product from coal-based thermal power plants, by treating it with stearic acid, which is a well known surfactant.

While fly ash is extremely water-loving (hydrophilic), but it turns into a highly water-repelling surface once coated with stearic acid.



Stearic acid is a surface active agent whose key ingredient sticks to dirt particles during the process of washing, while its hydro-phobicor water-repelling part remains free. Ultimately, dirt particles bound with stearic acid separate out just like oil separates from water.

In the case of fly ash-based waterproofing material, the activity varied according to the type of fly ash used. It was found that when fly ash with varying sizes and shapes was used, it produced super-hydrophobic material that behaved like a lotus leaf. i.e., Water did not roll away immediately.

This happens when hydrophobic particles of different sizes pack together to form surface with pits and mound on very small length scale. When water droplet sits on top of such surface, it cannot wet these small pits and the trapped air facilitates rolling.

But, when fly ash was segregated into particles with almost similar shape and size, it behaved like a rose petal. It neither absorbed the water nor let it fall down even when the material was turned upside down.


QUICK FEEDS

  • Statue of Mahatma Gandhi to be installed in Manchester. The 9-foot-huge bronze sculpture is designed by the Indian artist Ram V. Sutar.
  • 7 new species of insects that can walk on water has been discovered by the scientists of the Zoological Survey of India.

    • The newly described species belong to the genus Mesovelia whose size ranges from 1.5 mm to 4.5 mm and are equipped with hydrophobic setae (bristles) on their legs. 
    • The insects are pale green with silver-white wings with black veins on the basal half which make them stand out over the green mat of aquatic weeds.
    • Among the new discoveries, Mesovelia andamana is from Andaman Islands, M. bispinosa and M. isiasi are from Meghalaya, M. occulta and M. tenuia from Tamil Nadu and M. brevia and M. dilatata live both in Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu.
    • There are 12 species of genus Mesovelia found in the country while large water striders (Limnogonus, Aquarius, Cylindrostethus, Gerris, Ptilomera) are easily spotted upon the surface of water, the tiny Mesovelia are not as well-known.
  • UAE honours Modi with its highest civilian award.
    • ‘Order of Zayed’, the UAE’s highest civilian award, was bestowed as a mark of appreciation for his efforts to boost bilateral ties between the two nations. 
    • The award has earlier been bestowed on several world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese President Xi Jinping.



MUST READ 

24th August 2019 Current Affairs
23rd August 2019 Current Affairs


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