Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Aug 28, 2017

1)   GoI has indicated no ___ crop will be introduced without evaluating biosafety and socioeconomic desirability.

a. GM
b. Organic
c. Rabi
d. Kharif
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques


No genetically modified (GM) crop should be introduced in India unless the biosafety and socio-economic desirability is evaluated.

The committee has also recommended that the environment ministry should examine the impact of GM crops on environment thoroughly.

The remarks come after India’s GM crop regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recently recommended the commercial use of genetically modified mustard.

This was in a submission to the environment ministry.

The department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest made its recommendations in its 301st report on ‘GM crop and its impact on environment’

It said GM mustard being a herbicide-tolerant GM organism (GMO), there is clear evidence on the adverse impacts of such GMOs elsewhere in the world.

The report of the committee, chaired by Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury was presented to the Rajya Sabha chairman.

The committee noted that the GEAC has given its approval for commercialisation of GM mustard “inspite of the fact that the matter is pending for decision in the Supreme Court”.

The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), Delhi University, had submitted an application to the GEAC for the environmental release of GM mustard (Brassica juncea) hybrid DMH - 11.

It also focused on the use of parental events (varuna bn 3.6 and EH2 mod bs 2.99) for the development of a new generation of hybrids.

2)   Commerce and Industry Ministry constituted a task force under whom to explore AI for development?

a. V Kamakoti
b. V Koti
c. V Kama
d. V Kotikama
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: V Kamakoti

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has constituted a Task Force chaired by V. Kamakoti of IIT Madras to explore possibilities to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This is for development across various fields.

The ‘task force on AI for India’s Economic Transformation’ will submit concrete and implementable recommendations for government, industry and research institutions.

In addition to regular members, it will have official participation from NITI Aayog, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Department of Science & Technology, UIDAI and DRDO.

The panel comprises experts, academics, researchers and industry leaders.

The Minister said with rapid development in the fields of information technology and hardware, the world is about to witness a fourth industrial revolution.

Driven by the power of big data, high computing capacity, artificial intelligence and analytics, Industry 4.0 aims to digitize the manufacturing sector.

The move comes in the backdrop of the government reviewing the manufacturing and industrial policies.

3)   Government of India has restricted imports of gold and silver from which nation?

a. South Korea
b. North Korea
c. China
d. Japan
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: South Korea

The government on 25th Aug 2017 restricted imports of gold and silver items from South Korea.

This was in a bid to check spurt in inbound shipments of precious metals from that country.

The importers will now have to obtain a license from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for importing gold and silver from South Korea.

These restrictions are being imposed against the backdrop of sudden surge in imports of precious metal from South Korea, with which India has a free trade agreement since January 2010.

Gold imports from South Korea has jumped to $338.6 million between 1 July and 3 August this year.

The import in 2016-17 stood at $70.46 million.

Under the free trade pact between India and South Korea, basic customs duty on gold was eliminated.

Further, the 12.5% countervailing duty on gold imports has been subsumed in the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Accordingly, the imports now attract only 3% integrated GST.

Imports of gold from non-FTA countries, attract 10% customs duty.

India is the world’s second biggest gold consumer after China.

The collections from customs duty and IGST from imports post implementation of GST has almost doubled to INR 30,000 crore in July.

Gold imports contributed significantly to this increased collection.

The revenue collected include those on account of customs duty, Integrated-GST (IGST) from imports, countervailing duty (CVD), special addition duty (SAD) and cess collection on imported items.

4)   What does DARPG stand for as per the administrative reforms?

a. Department of Administrative Reforms and Grievances
b. Department of Administrative Grievances and Reforms
c. Department of Administrative Reforms
d. Department of Administrative Grievances.
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Department of Administrative Reforms and Grievances

Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space released the Department of Administrative Reforms and Grievances (DARPG)’s Grievance Study Analysis of 20 Ministries.

Under the PM’s awards, young officers are now vying for excellence in implementation of priority programmes.

A number of grievances lodged has increased 5 fold in the last three years, from 2 lakh grievances in 2014 to 11 lakh grievances now.

Currently 28 ministries/departments are on e-office and steps are being undertaken to bring all ministries/departments on e-office by this year end.

The department is also developing Development Goal Manual and Good Governance Index.

For the PM awards to be presented on Civil Services Day 2018, the following four priority programmes have been identified:

  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
  • Digital payment (digital payment under digitization)
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban and Rural)
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana
The officers will be rewarded under the ‘Anubhav’ initiative.

There is also setting up of Pensioners Adalat to quickly resolve the issues of pensioners.

The “Grievance Analysis & Systemic Reforms” Study was conducted for 20 ministries in the year 2015.

5)   Tariff based competitive bidding process for Grid Connected Solar PV Power projects were issued under which section?

a. Section 63 of the Electricity Act 2003
b. Section 64 of the Electricity Act 2003
c. Section 65 of the Electricity Act 2003
d. Section 66 of the Electricity Act 2003
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Section 63 of the Electricity Act 2003

Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued the Guidelines for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding Process for Procurement of Power from Grid Connected Solar PV Power Projects.

The Government has notified these Guidelines on 3rd August, 2017.

These Guidelines have been issued under the provisions of Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003 for long term procurement of electricity by the ‘Procurers’ [the distribution licensees, or the Authorized Representative(s), or an Intermediary Procurer] from grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects (‘Projects’), having size of 5 MW and above, through competitive bidding.

Key Reform Initiatives as per these Guidelines are as follows:

i. Generation Compensation for off take constraints thereby reducing off take risks: The “Must-run” status for solar projects has been stressed upon.

Generation Compensation provided for following off-take constraints:

a) Back-down - Min. Compensation 50% of PPA Tariff
b)Grid unavailability - Compensation by way of Procurement of Excess Generation / Outright Compensation

ii. PPA: To ensure lower tariffs, Minimum PPA tenure has been kept at 25 years. Unilateral termination or amendment of PPA is not allowed.

iii. Project preparedness to expedite and facilitate setting up of projects: Issues related to land, connectivity, clearances etc. and the extension in case of delay, have been streamlined.

iv. Event of Default and the consequences thereof clearly defined to ensure optimal risk sharing between Developer and Procurer. This has been done by clearly defining the generator and procurer events of default, and describing the consequences thereof.

v.Termination Compensation to increase bankability of projects by securing the investment by the Generator and the lenders against any arbitrary termination of PPA. Quantum and modality for termination compensation in case of both generator default and procurer default has been clearly defined.

vi. Payment Security Mechanism: Risk of generator’s revenue getting blocked due to delayed payment / non- payment by the procurers has been addressed through provision of Payment Security Mechanism through instruments like Letter of Credit (LC), Payment Security Fund, State Guarantee, etc.

vii. Change in Law provision to provide clarity and certainty to generators, procurers, and investors/lenders - Change in Law provision, effective from the date of bid submission and covering any change in law/Tax rate which has a direct effect on the Project (and not just taxes made applicable for supply of power) has been provided.

viii. Early Commissioning & Part-Commissioning for expeditious completion of projects - Early commissioning and part commissioning have not only been allowed, but incentivised, by way of allowing the PPA for a minimum 25 years from the Scheduled Commissioning Date.

ix. Rationalisation of Penalties: The penalties have been rationalised, so as to reduce the overall cost to the Generator, while at the same time, ensuring compliance with the Commissioning Schedule/Scheme Guidelines

x. Re powering: Generators are free to re power their power plants. However, the procurer will be obliged to buy power only within the CUF range in PPA.

xi. Bid structure and process: Bids have been allowed in both Power (MW) and Energy (kWh) terms. Also, e-bidding has been emphasised to improve transparency.

6)   Which navratna defence PSU now has an academy of excellence and the first NFTR facility in a defence set up?

a. BEL
b. Bharat Dynamics
c. Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited
d. Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders.
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques


Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, inaugurated an Academy for Excellence and two state-of-the-art testing facilities - EMC Test facility and Near Field Antenna Test Range at the Bengaluru Unit of Navratna Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

Secretary (Defence Production) Shri Ashok Kumar Gupta Chairman & Managing Director, BEL Shri Gowtama MV and other senior officers of BEL were present.

The BEL Academy for Excellence with sprawling complex spread over six acres is built at a cost of Rs. 47 crore.

This Academy of Excellence is envisaged to address the training needs of not only BEL employees, but also its customers and vendors/partners, especially MSMEs/SMEs.

This institution, which will be affiliated to national/international universities, will also cater to the skill development initiatives of the Central Government.

The training programmes have been structured around three core areas: Quality, Technology, and Leadership, with various programs designed with the help of experts from major institutes like IITs, IIMs, IISC, IETE, ISI, ASQ etc.

The NABL accredited EMC test facility is set up at BEL-Bengaluru at a cost of Rs. 60 crore.

This EMC facility is the first of its kind in India having Anechoic Chamber of size 11m x 21m x 30m and can conduct testing of Systems/Platforms weighing up to 70 Tonnes.

It can be used to conduct system level Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) tests for strategic Defence systems like Battle Tanks, Communication vehicles, Radar systems and Airborne systems including Nuclear Electro Magnetic Pulse (NEMP) and High Altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse (HEMP) testing.

It can be used to carry out system level EMC testing for many projects of national importance like AKASH, IACCS, LRSAM, Weapon Locating Radar and Battlefield Management System.

The facility will also be open for use to other Indian Defence companies, including MSMEs.

NFTR: Know More

  • Near Field Antenna Test Range (NFTR) is a critical infrastructure for calibration and testing of Radars and communication antennas.
  • The NFTR facility at Bengaluru is the third such in BEL and the only one in the Defence industry in India.
  • This facility, set up at a cost of Rs. 30 crore will help to calibrate and test next generation Radars with AESA (Active Electronically Steerable Array) based Antenna arrays as well as Antennas for major projects such as QRSAM, MRSAM and LRSAM.

7)   Which vegetation found on rocks and trees could be a low cost way to monitor urban pollution?

a. Mosses
b. Lichen
c. Algae
d. Both b and c
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Mosses

Delicate mosses found on rocks and trees in cities around the world can be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change.

These could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution, according to Japanese scientists.

The “bioindicator” responds to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or disappearing, allowing scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations.

This method is very cost effective and important for getting information about atmospheric conditions.

Mosses are a common plant in all cities so we can use this method in many countries…. they have a big potential to be bioindicators with nearly 50 types of moss analysed for the study.

The humid cities where moss thrives could benefit most from using bryophytes–a collective term for mosses, hornworts and liverworts–as bioindicators, adding moss could be monitored in its natural environment or cultivated for analysis.

The Study

  • Researchers tested the effect of nitrogen pollution, air quality and drought-stress on moss found over a 3km square (1.9 mile) area in Hachioji City in northwestern Tokyo.
  • The study showed severe drought-stress tended to occur in areas with high levels of nitrogen pollution, which it said raised concerns over the impact on health and biodiversity.
  • However, the scientists could not effectively measure air purity which affects the number of moss types as pollution levels in the sample area were not high enough.
  • If the air pollution is severe, the purity is also evaluated by moss … the change of the moss is very diverse according to the environmental problem.
  • Bioindicators such as mosses - which generally absorb water and nutrients from their immediate environments - were often cheaper to use than other methods of environmental evaluation, and can also reflect changes to ecosystems, said the scientists.

8)   Microsoft has kicked off a new project to deliver real time AI via cloud called _______.

a. Project Deep Blue
b. Project Brainwave
c. Project Mindwave
d. Project Deep Learning
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Project Brainwave

In a bid to make artificial intelligence more accessible all-round, Microsoft has kicked off a new project which delivers real-time AI via the cloud.

It is utilizing some nifty technology from Intel.

Project Brainwave is described by Microsoft as a deep learning acceleration platform which employs Intel’s Stratix 10 FPGA (field programmable gate array) hardware accelerator to run AI.

This is through the cloud and still deliver near-instant results.

The system is capable of processing and transmitting data with ‘ultra-low latency’, delivering results as fast as that data comes in, and so effectively operating in real-time.

And that’s a clear boon for the sort of applications that need this, from digital assistants through to the likes of autonomous driving.

The system has already shown that Intel’s Stratix 10 tech can exceed 39 Teraflops in terms of performance on a single request.

Microsoft engineer Doug Burger notes that at that level of performance, the Brainwave architecture sustains execution of over 130,000 compute operations per cycle.

It is driven by one macro-instruction being issued each 10 cycles.

Running on Stratix 10, Project Brainwave thus achieves unprecedented levels of demonstrated real-time AI performance on extremely challenging models.

And further gains are expected as Microsoft hones the system over the next year or so.

Project Brainwave supports deep learning frameworks including Microsoft’s own Cognitive Toolkit and Google’s Tensorflow, and the firm is planning to bring it to Azure customers as well.

Powerful real-time AI processing capabilities on tap will be another major string to Azure’s bow.