Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Jan 08, 2017

1)   Where is China setting up the world's highest altitude gravitation wave telescopes?

a. Hong Kong
b. Taiwan
c. Tibet
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 


China is setting up the world's highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet, close to the Line of Actual Control with India.

The telescopes are being set up with a budget of USD 18.8 million to detect the faintest echoes resonating from the universe which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.

Construction has started for the first telescope codenamed Ngari No 1, 30 km south of Shiquanhe Town in Ngari Prefecture.

Parts of Nagri are in the last Tibetan prefecture at China's border with India. The telescope located 5250 m above sea level, will gather accurate data on the primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.

It will be operational by 2021. The 2nd phase involves a series of telescopes, code-named Ngari No 2, to be located about 6,000 meters above sea level.

Construction for the two phase Ngari gravitational wave observatory is 130 million yuan. The project has been initiated by Institute of High Energy Physics, National Astronomical Observatories and Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Information Technology, along with others.

Ngari with a high attitude, clear sky and minimal human activity is said to be the world's best spot to detect twists in cosmic light.

It will be among the world's top primordial gravitational wave observation bases.

G-Waves: Know More

  • The top gravitational wave observation bases currently include the South Pole Telescope and the telescope at Chile's Atacama Desert.
  • Gravitational waves (G-waves) were first proposed by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.
  • This theory was discovered 100 years ago.
  • It was in 2016 that LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave) Observatory announced the proof of the wave existence, spurring fresh research among world scientists.
  • In September 2016, China commissioned the world's largest radio telescope to understand more about the universe and the possibility of alien life.
  • The telescope's main structure is a reflector as large as 30 football pitches built in the unique valley at Guizhou.

2)   NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is creating a roadmap for which spacecrafts?

a. Voyager
b. Challenger
c. Cassini
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Voyager

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is set to create a roadmap for two Voyager spacecrafts that will travel through unexplored territories beyond the solar system, by measuring the material along the future trajectories of the probe.

When Voyagers run out of power and are unable to send back new data, Hubble will still be able to tap them to learn more about their environment.

A preliminary analysis of the Hubble observations shows a rich, complex interstellar ecology, containing multiple clouds of hydrogen laced with other elements.

This also provides new data into how the sun travels through interstellar space.

This is a great opportunity to compare data from in situ measurements of the space environment by the Voyager spacecraft and telescopic measurements by Hubble.

The astronomers hope that the Hubble observations will help them characterise the physical properties of the local interstellar medium. Synthesising these insights with in situ measurements from Voyager would provide an unprecedented overview of the local interstellar environment.

For the next 10 years, the Voyagers will be making measurements of interstellar material, magnetic fields and cosmic rays along their trajectories.

About Voyager Spacecrafts

  • NASA launched the win Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts in 1977.
  • Both explored outer plants Jupiter and Saturn.
  • Voyager 2 went on to visit Uranus and Neptune.
  • The spacecrafts are currently exploring the outermost edge of the Sun's domain.
  • Voyager 1 is zooming through interstellar space, between stars filled with gas, dust and recycled material from dying stars.
  • The probe is 13 million miles from earth– this is the farthest human made object ever build.
  • In 40 thousand years, the spacecraft will no longer be able to father new data and will pass within 1.6 light-years of the star Gliese 445, in the constellation Camelopardalis.
  • Its twin, Voyager 2, is 10.5 billion miles from Earth, and will pass 1.7 light-years from the star Ross 248 in about 40 thousand years.

3)   Which IRCTC scheme has been renamed?

a. IRCTC Connect
b. IRCTC Rail Connect
c. IRCTC Map
d. IRCTC Rail Map
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques


Equipped with latest technology, existing IRCTC Connect will now become IRCTC Rail Connect to facilitate booking of train tickets in a faster and easier way, a senior Railway Ministry official announced.

IRCTC, which handles online train ticket bookings, will formally unveil the IRCTC Rail Connect App in the coming week to cater to the growing demand of passengers to make the ticketing App more user-friendly and faster.

The new ticketing App will be based on next generation e-ticketing system. It will be synchronised with the ticketing website also, which is missing in the current system.

Travellers will continue to be able to search and book train tickets, check their existing reservations or cancel them, and get upcoming journey alerts in the new application.

IRCTC Rail Connect will retain the passenger details for the recently-booked tickets, so that they don't have to enter their details again and again.

4)   A massive ice block off the Antarctica ____ ice shelf, 100 times the size of Manhattan, will break off, say ecologists.

a. Larsen A
b. Larsen B
c. Larsen C
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Larsen C

A massive ice block nearly 100 times the area of Manhattan is poised to break off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf, scientists reported on 6th Jan 2017.

A slow-progressing rift suddenly grew by 18 kilometres (11 miles) at the end of December, leaving the finger-shaped chunk- 350 metres thick- connected along only a small fraction of its length.

The rift has also widened, from less than 50 metres (160 feet) in 2011 to nearly 500 metres in Jan 2017.

The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves that straddle land and sea. The fragile West Antarctic ice sheet - where Larsen C is located - holds enough frozen water to raise global oceans by at least four metres (13 feet).

Recent studies have suggested that climate change may already have condemned large chunks of it to disintegration, though whether on a time scale of centuries or millennia is not known.

The breaking off, or calving, of ice shelves is a natural process, but global warming is thought to have accelerated the process.

Warming ocean water erodes their underbelly, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above. The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.

The ice block currently separating from Larsen C contains about 10 percent of its mass, and would be among the 10 largest break-offs ever recorded.

If all the ice held back by Larsen C entered the sea, it would lift global oceans by about 10 centimetres (four inches).

Oceans in recent decades have absorbed much of the excess heat generated by climate change, which has lifted average global air temperatures by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Paris agreement

  • The world's nations have undertaken in the Paris Agreement.
  • It was inked in the French capital in December 2015.
  • It aims to to cap global warming at "well under" two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels.

5)   What is the new scheme backed by WB to manage groundwater resources called?

a. National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme
b. National Water Resources Management Improvement Scheme
c. National Groundwater Management Improvement Initiative
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme

Facing a sharp decline in groundwater levels in different parts of the country due to over exploitation of existing resources, Centre has proposed an INR 6000 crore scheme called NGIS backed by the World Bank.

WB will support half of the total cost of the scheme, while the remaining half will be funded through budgetary support by the government.

World Bank will approve the funding for the scheme soon. Funds under NGMIS will be used for capacity building, institutional reforms and infrastructure development.

Features of NGMIS

  • Infrastructure development includes building recharge structure\facilities for utilising rain water directly from roof top, creating rain water harvesting structures for conserving surplus run-off and recharging ground water in aquifers.
  • Scheme would be meant for "sustainable management of ground water by addressing supply as well as demand side to reduce ground water consumption".
  • NGMIS will be implemented across the country, but special focus will be on states having 'dark' (over-exploited) zones where the withdrawal of water is more than the recharge.
  • These states include Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh (Bundelkhand region and parts of western UP) and Madhya Pradesh (Bundelkhand region).
  • Indiscriminate use of ground water, mainly for irrigation, has increased the number of over-exploited units from 802 in March, 2009 to 1,071 in March, 2011 in the country.
  • The over-exploited units are mostly concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, western UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
  • The programme would be implemented during 2017-2022 period.
  • It is being framed in coordination with existing programmes and activities including MGNREGA, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) as well as the National Hydrology Project (NHP).
  • It will also have a 'performance-based incentive' system as its key component to reward states and local authorities for improvement in groundwater management.
  • The NGMIS will cover the policy aspects of irrigation efficiency, crop diversification and artificial recharge in the areas which witnessed uncontrolled and unplanned groundwater extraction over the last 50 years.

  • Groundwater in India: Know More
  • India annually extracts 245 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) of groundwater.
  • This accounts for nearly 25% of the total global groundwater abstraction.
  • About 222 BCM out of 245 BCM of groundwater is being used annually for irrigation.
  • Remaining 23 BCM is consumed by domestic and industry sector.
  • Programme includes clear targets for groundwater recharge, water use efficiency and aquifer protection by participating states.

6)   Centre is set to ban how many pesticides in India on the advice of an expert committee?

a. 16
b. 17
c. 18
d. 19
Answer  Explanation 


Acting on advice of an expert committee, the Centre will ban use of 18 pesticides in India as it involves risk to humans and animals.

The Union agriculture ministry has issued an order, asking manufacturers, importers and state authorities to completely ban 12 of the identified pesticides from January 1, 2018 and remaining six from December 31, 2020.

Though these were banned or restricted in other areas, they continued to be used in India. Some of these were heavily toxic for honey bees and birds.

Use of these pesticides also contaminates water bodies and thereby affects aquatic organisms.

The decision to ban these pesticides is taken after considering recommendations of an expert committee, headed by former national professor of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Anupam Varma.

The committee, constituted in July 2013, had reviewed use of 66 pesticides which are banned or restricted in many countries.

Since the ban will come into force beginning early next year, the ministry has instructed current importers and manufacturers to incorporate in the label and leaflet of the product about the danger associated with the use of specific pesticide to water bodies and aquaculture or its toxic effect to human being, honey bees and birds.

7)   Which ex-Iranian president passed away in 2017?

a. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
b. Hassan Rouhani
c. Mahmoud Ahmednijad
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a staunch political survivor despite his support for moderates, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 82.

He was a pivotal figure in the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, and served as President from 1989 to 1997.

He was part of the Expediency Council, Iran’s main political arbitration body which Mr. Rafsanjani chaired.

Mr. Rafsanjani’s death is a huge loss for both reformists and moderates, as he stood as a pillar for the two camps.

Born on August 25, 1934, in the village of Nough in southern Iran into a wealthy family, Rafsanjani studied theology in the holy city of Qom before entering politics in 1963 after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s police arrested the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

A confidant of Khomeini, Mr. Rafsanjani was the Speaker of Parliament for two consecutive terms until Khomeini’s death in 1989. Towards the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, his presidency was marked by reconstruction, cautious reform and repairs to Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbours.

But it was also marred by human rights violations, rampant inflation and difficult relations with Europe, not least with Britain after the “death sentence”, or fatwa, handed down to writer Salman Rushdie by Khomeini.

Serving a maximum of 2 consecutive terms, he supported reformist Mohammad Khatami, who succeeded him as President from 1997 to 2005.

Mr. Rafsanjani was always a member of Iran’s top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, charged with appointing - and if required dismissing - the country’s supreme leader.

8)   Which professor of economics was called “the godfather of modern scholarship on the distribution of income and wealth?”

a. Tony Atkinson
b. Thomas Pikatty
c. John Maynard Keynes
d. JB Pareto
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Tony Atkinson

Tony Atkinson, a professor of economics at University of Oxford well known for his stellar work on poverty and inequality as well as income distribution died on Jan 1, 2016 at age 72. His work led the fields of inequality, income distribution, and poverty for many decades, bringing clarity and practical insight to pressing social issues.

Atkinson was called “the godfather of modern scholarship on the distribution of income and wealth” by fellow economist Thomas Piketty. The Atkinson index has been named after him.

The index measures which end of the distribution has contributed most to observed inequality.

Atkinson published one co-authored article in the Indian Journal of Human Development on data for policy.

He was knighted in 2001 for services to economics and was also awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

At the London School of Economics, Mr. Atkinson held the title of Centennial Professor.

The author of more than 40 books, Mr. Atkinson was mainly known for his creative and exacting use of empirical methods besides revolutionary ideas like minimum inheritance.

Mr. Atkinson’s book “The Distribution of Personal Wealth in Britain” (1978), co-written with A. J. Harrison, examined inheritance tax records in Britain between 1911 and 1975 to describe changes in the distribution of wealth.

That book and an earlier book - “Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings” (1953) by Simon Kuznets, which drew on income tax records and national accounts in the United States between 1913 and 1948 - originated research on inequality.

His final book, “Inequality: What Can Be Done?,” published in 2015, summed up decades of findings and offered 15 proposals for tackling inequality.

Among his suggestions: a guaranteed interest rate on savings, via bonds; higher marginal income tax rates, with a top rate of 65 percent (it is currently 39.6 percent in the United States and 45 percent in Britain); and a progressive, rather than uniform, property tax rate.

Perhaps his boldest proposal was to use inheritance taxes to finance a minimum inheritance, payable to all citizens on reaching adulthood.

Among other major works, Mr. Atkinson was the author, with Joseph E. Stiglitz, of the seminal 1980 textbook “Lectures on Public Economics,” recently reissued by Princeton University Press.

Mr. Atkinson helped organize the World Wealth and Income Database, a resource for the comparative study of inequality.

He served on many boards, and was chairman of the World Bank Commission on Global Poverty, which issued recommendations in October toward the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

He was also the president, since 2012, of the board of the L.I.S. (formerly the Luxembourg Income Study), which manages a database widely used by researchers.

About Professor Tony Atkinson

  • Anthony Barnes Atkinson was born on Sept. 4, 1944, in Caerleon, a town in southern Wales near the border with England.
  • He attended the Cranbrook School in Kent and then Churchill College, Cambridge, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1966.
  • He was a fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge, from 1967 to 1971.
  • He was a professor of economics at the University of Essex from 1971 to 1976.
  • He held the post of a professor of political economy at University College, London, from 1976 to 1979.
  • He joined the London School of Economics in 1980 and taught there until 1992.
  • He was warden, or head of Nuffield college, from 1994 to 2005. He remained a fellow of Nuffield until his death.

9)   Which former Portugal president was known for being part of the Socialist International movement?

a. Antonio Guterres
b. Martin Soares
c. Both of the above
d. Neither of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Martin Soares

Mario Soares, a former prime minister and president of Portugal who helped steer his country toward democracy after a 1974 military coup and grew into a global statesman through his work with the Socialist International movement, has died at age 92.

Soares died on 7th Jan 2016. A moderate Socialist, he returned from 12 years of political exile after the almost bloodless Carnation Revolution toppled Portugal's four-decade dictatorship in 1974.

As a lawyer, he had used peaceful means to fight the country's regime, which eventually banished him. Soares was elected Portugal's first post-coup prime minister in 1976 and thwarted Portuguese Communist Party attempts to bring the NATO member under Soviet influence during the Cold War.

He helped lead his country from dictatorship to parliamentary democracy and a place in the European Union.

Soares' role as an international statesman was solidified through his work with the International Socialist movement. As a vice president from 1976, he led diplomatic missions that sought to help resolve conflicts in the Middle East and Latin and Central America.

In 1986, Soares became Portugal's first civilian president in 60 years. His broad popularity brought him two consecutive five-year terms.

Soares belonged to a generation of influential European Socialist leaders that also included Francois Mitterrand of France, Germany's Willy Brandt, Olof Palme in Sweden, and Felipe Gonzalez in Spain. He also led the Carnation Revolution, called so because people stuck the flowers at the end of gun barrels of soldiers during the Communist regime.

The Communist Party's influence surged following the coup, prompting fears in the West that Portugal–a founding member of the Atlantic military alliance – would come under the Soviet Union's influence and encourage other radical leftist movements in western Europe.

Soares, who led the Socialist Party, won the country's first entirely free elections and became prime minister. He was instrumental in quickly granting independence to Portugal's five colonies in Africa.

All of them - Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe - became single-party Marxist states supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba after their independence.

About Martin Soares

  • Born in Lisbon in 1924, Soares started out as a radical student organizer.
  • He became a renowned defense lawyer.
  • He was a relentless opponent of Salazar's regime, which along with Franco's roughly contemporary rule in neighboring Spain, shut off the Iberian peninsula to outside influences.
  • Salazar's secret police, known by acronym PIDE, jailed Soares 12 times and exiled him twice, once to the island of Sao Tome off west Africa.
  • After democracy, Soares served four times as the country's foreign minister and three times as prime minister.
  • He was also the most well known president of Portugal of his times.

10)   Who has been appointed as head of Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism?

a. Gen. Pervez Musharraf
b. Gen. Ayub Khan
c. Gen. Raheel Sharif
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Gen. Raheel Sharif

General Raheel Sharif, the former Pakistani army chief, will now head the Saudi Arabia-led 39-nation military coalition formed to serve as a platform for security cooperation and combat terrorism, the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism.

The decision to appoint Gen (retd) Raheel, who retired in November 2016, was taken after taking the incumbent government into confidence and both the governments and army were on board regarding the decision to let Raheel take charge of the alliance.

Raheel retired as the army chief in November and has been succeeded by General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to Saudi Arabia, the alliance is formed to fight ISIS and other militant outfits. At the time of its constitution, there were 34 countries in the alliance which has raised to 39.

The countries include Turkey, UAE, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and others. The Joint Command Centre, headquarters of the military alliance, is based in Riyadh.

Islamabad was also part of the new alliance to combat militancy.

Iran was not included in the grouping which appeared as a vague attempt to forge a Sunni Muslim alliance against Shiite Iran to curtail its influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and rest of the Middle East.

The Saudi-led coalition is also engaged in a military operation in Yemen since March 2015 when Houthis drove out the government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is believed to be in exile in Saudi Arabia.