Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Apr 17, 2017

1)   Which year did humanity harvest its largest cereal crop according to FAO?

a. 2015-2016
b. 2016-2017
c. 2014-2015
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 2016-2017

Explanation:
Humanity harvested the largest ever cereal crop in its history in 2016-17 - a staggering 2.6 billion metric tonnes, according to the latest estimates of the UN-affiliated Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The year is ending with the largest ever global stock of foodgrains in history, some 682 million tonnes.

India too is heading for a record cereal crop as the previous year's final wheat is harvested and counted in.

According to reports, the second advance estimate of the government put cereal production for 2016-17 at nearly 250 million tonnes, crossing the record of about 246 million tonnes set in 2013-14.

While the world celebrates this plentiful harvest, over 20 million people are facing starvation in Africa and Yemen in the worst drought in 60 years.

Globally, some 795 million people go to bed hungry every day, according to the World Food Programme. This includes about 15% of India's population, some 20 million people.

The global output was fuelled by increased wheat output in North America — by more than 10 million tonnes year on year - and increases in the Russian Federation and India.

All these offset the European Union decline by 16.5 million tonnes caused by bad weather.

Rice output increased in China, India, and Southeast Asia. Coarse cereal production jumped by 22.7 million tonnes, led by US, EU, India and Ukraine, offsetting El Nino-caused declines in Brazil and policy-driven dip in China.

FAO is now forecasting a slight dip in world cereal production in 2017, mainly due to a fall in wheat output in Australia, Canada and the US after farmers planted less seeing lower prices.

Elsewhere there is famine in Africa. According to aid agencies and the UN, the food crisis in East Africa and Northern Nigeria is mostly because of continued war and consequent disruption of economy and connectivity.


2)   Which committee will be dismantled to improve ease of doing business?

a. Finance Ministry Committee for PPP projects
b. PPCAC
c. PPAC
d. Both a and c
e. All the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Both a and c

Explanation:
The Central government has proposed to dismantle the finance ministry committee which gives approval to PPP projects to speed up the procedural delays and fostering ease of doing business.

NITI Aayog may be given charge of these projects.

The move follows the planned dismantling of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

As per the current rules, PPP projects above 1000-Cores are sent to PPPAC and then to the Cabinet for approval.

PPPAC was created in 2006 under the Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry.

It is comprised of the secretaries of economic affairs, expenditure and legal affairs along with the department sponsoring the project and the NITI Aayog CEO.


3)   On which date was the BHIM Aadhaar platform for merchants launched?

a. 126th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar
b. 14th April
c. 15th April
d. both a and b are the same
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: both a and b are the same

Explanation:
PM Narendra Modi launched a series of initiatives on the 126th birth anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar in Nagpur on April 14, 2017.

He launched the BHIM Aadhaar platform for merchants, Cash back and Referral bonus schemes for BHIM and declared about 75 townships going less-cash.

The Prime Minister felicitated the winners of the Mega draw of the two major incentive schemes to promote digital payments- Lucky GrahakYojana and DigidhanVyapaarYojana..

BHIM-Aadhaar, the merchant interface of the BHIM App, will pave the way for making digital payments by using the Aadhaar platform.

Any Indian citizen can pay digitally using their biometric data like their thumb imprint on a merchants’ biometric enabled device which could be smart phone having a biometric reader.

Any citizen without access to smart phones, internet, debit or credit cards will be able to transact digitally through the BHIM Aadhaar platform.

Already, 27 major banks are now on board with 7.15 lakh merchants so that they can start accepting payments using BHIM Aadhaar.

The Prime Minister also launched two new incentive schemes for the BHIM – Cash back and Referral bonus – with an outlay of Rs. 495 crore for a period of six months.

This is to ensure that the culture of digital payments permeates down to the grassroots.

The initial two incentives schemes viz., Lucky GrahakYojana and DigiDhanVyaparYojana, came to an end after a rigorous 100 day information, education and communication campaign led by NITI Aayog


4)   Which is known as the Father of All Bombs?

a. BLU-82
b. GBU-43
c. ATBIP
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: ATBIP

Explanation:
Recently, the US dropped the most destructive non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat on an alleged target of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan.

The bomb, officially known as the GBU 43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast and colloquially as 'the mother of all bombs (MOAB)', has been in the US arsenal since 2003. It weighs over 10,000kg and its blast yield is equivalent to that of 11 tonnes of TNT.

The MOAB was developed to replace the BLU-82, also known as the 'daisy cutter', a 6,800kg bomb used in the Vietnam war to create instant helicopter landing sites. The explosive force could vaporise trees in a 76-metre radius.

The MOAB is, however, not the heaviest bomb in the US arsenal. The heaviest conventional bomb possessed by the US military is the 14,000kg GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which has never been used. However, its blast yield is lower than that of the MOAB.

In 2007, Russia tested the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP), which has been dubbed the 'father of all bombs (FOAB)' as it is four times more powerful than the MOAB. Though lighter at 7,000kg, the bomb has a blast yield equivalent to that of 44 tonnes of TNT.


5)   Which new species of herbivore dinosaur living 125 million years ago was discovered by scientists in April 2017?

a. Moabosaurus utahensis
b. Coabosaurus utahensis
c. Doabosaurus utahensis
d. Toabosaurus utahensis
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Moabosaurus utahensis

Explanation:
Scientists have discovered a new species of a herbivorous dinosaur that lived about 125 million years ago.

The new species belongs to a group of herbivores known as sauropods, which includes giants such as Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus, who had long necks and pillar-like legs.

This is according to researchers from the Brigham Young University (BYU) in the U.S.

The bones of the dinosaur called Moabosaurus utahensis were assembled using bones extracted over the course of four decades.

Moabosaurus is most closely related to species found in Spain and Tanzania, which tells researchers that during its time, there were still intermittent physical connections between Europe, Africa and North America.

Moabosaurus lived in Utah at a time when the region was filled with large trees, plentiful streams, lakes and dinosaurs, researchers said.

A previous study indicates that a large number of Moabosaurus and other dinosaurs died in a severe drought.

Survivors trampled their fallen companions’ bodies, crushing their bones.


6)   Which potent molecules have Bengaluru scientists developed to combat TB?

a. Acetylated compound
b. Acteylated benzozylated compound
c. Relacin molecules
d. Both a and b
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Both a and b

Explanation:
Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru have developed two new, potent molecules that can severely impact the survival of mycobacteria.

This is including Mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes TB.

Unlike most antibiotics that target the bacterial metabolism by aiming at the cellular components, the novel molecules inhibit the stress response pathway of mycobacteria.

The stress response pathway is crucial for bacteria to survive during hostile conditions such as lack of nutrients and the presence of antibiotics, to name a few.

So any inhibition of this pathway will lead to its death.

The master regulator of stress pathway in the case of mycobacteria is (p)ppGpp (Guanosine pentaphospahte or Guanosine tetraphosphate).

Though a molecule that inhibits the (p)ppGpp formation has already been synthesised, the efficacy is not much.

Very high concentration of Relacin molecule is needed to inhibit the pathway and, therefore, the efficacy is low.

So scientists synthesised two new molecules - acetylated compound (AC compound) and acetylated benzoylated compound (AB compound) - by bringing about a modification in the base of the Relacin molecule.

The two compounds affected the rate of synthesis of (p)ppGpp and also reduced the cell survival.” Additionally, the two molecules were not toxic to human cells and were able to penetrate the human lung epithelial cells.

“The Alarmone molecule “(p)ppgpp”, a modified nucleotide, is ubiquitous in bacteria and absent in humans.

Inhibiting (p)ppgpp synthesis would specifically target the survival of bacteria without having any effects on humans.

Earlier studies have shown that when the rel gene is deleted, the long-term survival ability under stress was lost.

Under hostile conditions, bacteria tend to form biofilms, which protect the bacteria from stress and induce tolerance to antibiotics.

Recent studies have shown that tuberculosis bacteria that cannot form a biofilm cannot survive inside the host. Evidences have shown that at the time of infection, the M. tuberculosis display a biofilm-like phenotype and this helps the bacteria to survive inside the host.

Both M. tuberculosis and M. smegmatis that do have the Rel gene cannot form a biofilm.

Studies carried out by the researchers showed that both the molecules were able to inhibit biofilm formation by M. tuberculosis and M. smegmatis and also disrupt the already formed biofilm.


7)   Which country's railways is introducing dedicated train services for global and national tourists?

a. India
b. Pakistan
c. Bangladesh
d. Sri Lanka
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: India

Explanation:
Indian Railways plans a dedicated train service for domestic and international tourists, catering to customers at different income levels.

This is a part draft tourism policy which IR is bringing out for the first time in a bid to increase private partnership in running tourist trains.

A concept of tourist train with differential tariff will be worked out. The train will comprise different classes of accommodation like Sleeper 3A, 2A and 1A coaches, as per demand.

The IR will operate the train on different circuits with normal tariff or with a mark up. Service providers like Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will manage other services such as hotel accommodation and sightseeing for domestic and international tourists.

The Railways also proposes to reserve special coaches for tourists on trains running through tourist spots across the country.

It will auction such dedicated tourist coaches to tour operators at a premium based on which the tour operator may carry the passengers/tourists to be booked by it.

An effort will be made to involve private participation in operating more (hill tourist) trains and also to improve the financial conditions in hill railways in general through Public Private Partnership.

There will be ‘Bharat Darshan Trains’ catering “for the masses” with sleeper class coaches.

For promoting religious tourism, the IR proposed introducing Astha Circuit Trains and State Tirth Trains.

While the former will be operated by the IR at its own expense, the latter will be run on request from state governments at their cost.

Indian Railways: Know More

  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Number of employees: 1,331,000
  • Founded: 16 April 1853
  • Revenue: 1.683 trillion INR (US$25 billion, 2015–2016)
  • Divisions: 17 Railways Zones


8)   Which country's economy beat its government target in the first quarter of 2017?

a. China
b. India
c. Pakistan
d. Bangladesh
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: China

Explanation:
China’s economy beat the government target and grew by 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 mainly due to a surge in infrastructure investment and export.

The growth was well above the full-year target of 6.5 per cent, and the 6.8 per cent increase registered in the fourth quarter of 2016, as per China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

The GDP reached 18.07 trillion yuan ($2.63 trillion) in the first quarter.

The official data also suggested a pick-up in domestic consumption as February retail sales jumped 10.9 per cent from the previous year.

China is trying to boost domestic consumption to shift focus of its export reliant economy, which is also driven by massive state investments in improving the infrastructure.

Also, China’s exports, which were on a declining trend in recent years, showed increase in Q1 in Yuan terms.

China’s exports in yuan-denominated terms rose 14.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, while imports increased 31.1 per cent.

Foreign trade volume reached 6.2 trillion yuan (about $902 billion) in the first quarter, up 21.8 per cent year on year.

China’s fixed-asset investment (FAI) grew 9.2 per cent year-on-year in the first three months of 2017, quickening from the 8.9 per cent growth registered in the first two months.

The FAI includes capital spent on infrastructure, property, machinery and other physical assets.

Private sector FAI, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the total FAI, grew 7.7 per cent in the first quarter.

This is accelerating from the 6. 7 per cent registered in the first two months.

FAI by state-owned enterprises climbed 13.6 per cent year on year during the period, and infrastructure investment expanded 23.5 per cent in the first quarter.

China’s value-added industrial output, an important economic indicator, expanded 6.8 per cent year on year in the first quarter, compared with the 6.3 per cent increase for January to February, the NBS data said.

The 6.8 per cent growth rose from the 5.8 per cent increase in the same period of 2016. It was also higher than the 6 per cent annual gain seen in 2016, NBS said.

China Banking Association has estimated country’s bad loans totalled to a whopping $220 billion last year.

Bad loans by commercial banks totalled 1.5 trillion yuan ($220 billion) at the end of 2016.

The biggest borrower is urban infrastructure projects, followed by the medical sector.


9)   Which Turkish leader won a referendum to create a presidential system?

a. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
b. Recep Tayyip Erdogan
c. Sadi Guven
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Explanation:
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a historic referendum on April 17, 2017 that will tighten his grip on power.

The knife-edge result left the country bitterly divided and the opposition crying foul.

This referendum creates a presidential system, giving Mr. Erdogan more power than any leader since modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his successor Ismet Inonu.

Turkey which joined NATO in 1952 and for the last half-century has set its sights on joining the European Union is now on the move.

The 'Yes' campaign won 51.4 percent of the vote against 48.6 percent for 'No', in a count based on 99.5 percent of the ballot boxes. Turnout was a high 85 percent.

Supreme Election Board chief Sadi Guven confirmed that the 'Yes' camp had emerged victorious, but the opposition has vowed to challenge the outcome.

The referendum was held under a state of emergency that has seen 47,000 people arrested in an unprecedented crackdown after a failed military ouster against Mr. Erdogan in July 2016.

The 'No' share of the vote climbed as more ballots were counted, after lagging well behind in the early count, but failed to overtake the 'Yes' votes.

Voting patterns showed Turkey deeply divided over the changes, with the 'No' vote victorious in the country's three biggest cities.

The 'Yes' vote held up strongly in Mr. Erdogan's Anatolian heartland but the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions and Kurdish-dominated southeast backed the 'No' camp.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini indicated that in view of the closeness of the result, the Turkish authorities need to seek the "broadest possible national consensus" for the changes.

Mr. Erdogan made relations with the EU a key issue in his referendum campaign.

Turkey's two main opposition parties said they would challenge the results over alleged violations.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said it would challenge two-thirds of the votes.

The opposition had already complained that the referendum was conducted on unfair terms, with 'Yes' posters ubiquitous on the streets and opposition voices squeezed from the media.

The new system would dispense with the office of prime minister and centralise the entire executive bureaucracy under the president, giving Erdogan the direct power to appoint ministers.

It is due to come into force after elections in November 2019. Erdogan, who became president in 2014 after serving as premier from 2003, could then seek two more five-year terms.


10)   Which country has decided to replace coal thermal power plants with energy-efficient supercritical plants?

a. India
b. Pakistan
c. Sri Lanka
d. Nepal
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: India

Explanation:
The government has identified old power projects totalling 7,738 mw capacity owned by the Centre and states for replacement with energy-efficient supercritical plants.

The replacement will result in creation of 18,560 mw of capacity as per the assessment of power generation utilities.

The move is expected to not just save natural resources, but help in boosting generation capacity of the plants.

440 mw of the Haryana Power Generation Corporation in Panipat will be replaced with an 800-mw energy efficient plant, which will almost double the generation capacity.

Breaking down the numbers, state power generation utilities have marked out 6,608 mw for the purpose, which will lead to creation of 16,580 mw.

The central utilities have marked 1,130 mw for replacement that will create 1,980 mw, going forward.

According to power ministry estimates, as on March 31, 2016, the capacity of coal-based thermal plants that are more than 25 years old was about 37,453 mw, including 35,509 mw in the government sector and 1,947 mw in private space.

The official said the move towards energy efficiency and less-polluting technology makes more sense than renovation and modernisation and will yield long-term benefits.

The plan is being chalked out after stringent norms for thermal power plants were laid down by the environment ministry.

The new guidelines for coal-based power stations were introduced in December 2015 to cut down emission of PM10, SO2 and NOx and improve ambient air quality around plants.

The ministry for the first time had fixed SOx and NOx norms for such stations and mandated that plants must adhere to these guidelines by 2017.

The cost for technical changes at these plants could entail up to INR 1.5 crore per megawatt.

Besides, the domestic capacity to manufacture power equipment for the upgrade is not more than 15 gw a year compared to demand of around 40 gw per annum for meeting SOx norms alone.


11)   Which tourist coach has features like rotatable seats and LED lights, launched on April 16, 2017?

a. Vistadome
b. Lifeline Express
c. Annapurna Express
d. Garib Rath
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Vistadome

Explanation:
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu launched the dedicated Vistadome tourist coach to the nation through videoconferencing from here.

The coach will be fixed into a train running between Visakhapatnam and Araku (around 115 km) under the East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone.

Vistadome coaches features like glass windows and roof, LED lights, rotatable seats and GPS based info system will offer tourists a panoramic view of the Araku valley not only at the destination but also along the journey.

The coach, manufacturing cost of which is Rs 3.38 crore, has electrically operated automatic sliding compartment doors, wide side door for physically challenged persons, toilets with ceramic tile flooring and walls with all fittings and good food services.

This is a first of its kind in the country to promote local and rural tourism.

Araku valley is internationally famous and the ride from Visakhapatnam to Araku and back is something that tourists from all over India enjoy.

The railway minister also laid foundation stone for mechanised laundry at Visakhapatnam and inaugurated Life Line Express-Sindhudurg of Konkan Railway through videoconferencing at ECoR railway headquarters here.

Mechanised Laundry will significantly improve the quality of linen leading to enhanced passenger satisfaction. It will be installed by September this year at the cost of INR 24.08 crore.

The Life Line Express, medical on wheels, will be a great help to the poor patients. The people can get treatment facility at affordable prices.