Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Oct 30, 2017

1)   Which of the following are gene editing tools?

b. ABE
c. CRISPR-cas9
d. Only a and b
e. All of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: All of the above

Two teams of scientists unveiled a new generation of programmable molecular machines that can seamlessly repair tiny but deadly errors in the genetic coding of living organisms.

Taken together, the technologies expand the reach and precision of gene-editing, and open a path to fixing mutations that cause genetic blindness, sickle-cell anaemia, cystic fibrosis, and thousands of other debilitating diseases.

One approach, called base editing, performs "chemical surgery" directly on DNA, permanently altering faulty segments without cutting into the genome's ladder-like structure.

The second technique corrects errors in another type of genetic material called RNA, where anomalies can also ruin health or lead to death.

First Method

The four chemical building blocks of DNA, called bases, are represented by the letters A, T, G and C, and always strung together in pairs -- "A" with "T", and "G" with "C".

All it takes is one pair in the wrong place -- a genetic mutation -- for things to go horribly wrong.

Another gene-editing tool already in wide use called CRISPR-cas9 cuts the DNA strand, typically to insert or delete a DNA base pair.

But the new editing technique makes changes without breaking the DNA's spiralling chain.

In a breakthrough last year, the research team showed how to swap a C-G for a T-A base pair.

Laboratories around the world successfully used the technique to fix so-called "point mutations" in organisms ranging from bacteria and corn to mice and human embryos.

But only about 15 percent of point mutations in humans known to be linked with disease can be fixed this way till now.

The new tool -- dubbed "ABE" for Adenine Base Editor -- cleverly coaxes an A-T base pair into a G-C base pair, repairing a class of mutation that accounts for about half of the 32,000 known pathogenic point mutations in humans.

Not only did the procedure have a much higher success rate than other gene-editing techniques, there were virtually no side-effects, such as unwanted DNA duplications or deletions.

Second Method

The human genetic code is about 3 billion letters long.

That's a lot of information, and these "letters"-the genetic bases adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine-are stored in nearly every one of the cells that makes up your body in the form of DNA.

Now, scientists have devised a way to fix a certain class of genetic errors by re-shaping the very molecules that form the basis of the genetic code.

Researchers have modified CRISPR to edit the same types of errors out of RNA, which is closely related to DNA calling this new platform REPAIR.

The team genetically engineered an enzyme that literally rearranges the atoms of one kind of DNA base to turn it into another, all without disrupting the genetic material that surrounds it.

More than 50,000 human diseases, including sickle-cell anaemia and phenylketonuria, are the result of a single change in the genetic code-one letter out of three billion.

So it would be incredibly useful to have a technique whereby this so-called point mutation can be repaired without messing around too much with the surrounding DNA.

2)   What is another name for visceral leishmaniasis?

a. Kala azar
b. Dengue
c. Malaria
d. TB
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Kala azar

Researchers have stumbled upon evidence of an unknown virus that may be responsible for the persistence of kala-azar or visceral leishmaniasis, a parasite infection that has spawned epidemics and sickened thousands of Indians for over a century.

It's still early to pointedly blame the virus but its discovery portends a new kind of treatment regime and may aid attempts to eradicating the disease.

Historically, the parasite Leishmania donovani is believed to be responsible for the dreaded infection. People get infected when bitten by an insect called the sandfly, which harbours the disease-causing parasite.

Scientists from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh said that another parasite may be involved. Another parasite called Leptomonas seymouri may also be present.

The researchers inferred this after they found the L seymouri and a virus called Lepsey NLV1 within it in 20 of 22 biological samples of patients who had a residual L donovani infection.

They reported their findings in an online version of the peer-reviewed Archives of Virology.

Kala Azar: Know More

  • Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal). India itself accounts for half the global burden of the disease.
  • If untreated, kala-azar can kill within two years of the onset of the ailment, though the availability of a range of drugs has meant that less than one in 1,000 now succumbs to the disease.
  • However, scientists are still not clear how the parasites cause the infection and how they manage to hide within the body.

3)   Scientists have discovered the sensitivity towards carbs to be a _______ taste.

a. First
b. Eighth
c. Sixth
d. Seventh
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Seventh

Scientists have identified a potential seventh taste - a sensitivity towards carbohydrates - which may be behind the craving for starchy foods such as bread, pasta and rice.

Researchers from Australia have shown that sensitivity to carbohydrates, which they call the seventh taste, increases intake of starchy food and a larger waistline.

The team had previously named fat as the "sixth taste".

The fat taste studies explored the tongue's ability to detect fat as a distinct taste similar to people's ability to sense sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami - the five traditional or classic tastes.

The research looked at two carbohydrates, maltodextrin and oligofructose, both found in common foods like bread, pasta and rice.

The study later analysed preferences of 34 adults and found significant correlations between how sensitive someone was to carbohydrates, their dietary intake and their waist measurement.

Those who were most sensitive to the carbohydrate taste ate more of these foods and had a larger waist.

This line of taste research was important because the increasing problem of diet-related chronic illnesses, such as obesity, required a greater understanding of the drivers of the food we consume.

Increased energy intake, in particular greater intakes of energy-dense foods, is thought to be one of the major contributors to the global rise of obesity.

Interestingly, what we found in the fat taste studies was that the people who were more sensitive to fat consumed less fatty foods, but it is the other way around for carbohydrates.

The individuals who are more sensitive to the 'taste' of carbohydrate also have some form of subconscious accelerator that increases carbohydrate or starchy food consumption.

4)   Several species of vultures have been awarded the highest protection in Oct 2017 including which of the following?

a. Indian vulture
b. Red headed vulture
c. Brown humped vulture
d. Both a and b
e. Both a and c
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both a and b

Several species of vultures, including four that have India on their migratory routes, were awarded the highest protection by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals also known as Bonn Convention.

The whale shark, which inhabits the Indian Ocean, got global protection too. However, the proposal to extend additional protection to the chinkara or Indian gazelle was withdrawn, the summit's organisers said.

Delegates from 91 countries had attended the summit, the next edition of which will be held in India in 2020.

The Asian vultures that are set to get collaborative international protection are the red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture, Indian vulture and slender-billed vulture.

They are faced with threats such as poisoning, hunting, collision with electricity cables and habitat degradation.

A subspecies of the black noddy, the yellow bunting and the lesser and great grey shrike are the other avians on the protected list.

The Caspian seal has also been identified for conservation. It is the only marine mammal found in the world's largest inland sea, where its migration is prompted by ice formation and foraging.

Governments also agreed to cooperate on reducing the negative impact of marine debris, noise pollution, renewable energy and climate change on the lives of migratory species.

Lions, chimpanzees, giraffes and leopards were marked out as species that needed additional protection.

More than 120 states are party to the Convention, but this does not include China and many other Asian countries.

The summit held in Manila has been the largest in the 38-year history of the Convention, which is also known as the Bonn Convention after the German city in which it was signed

5)   Which of the following is the title of a coffee table book on Department of Defence Production?

a. A Journey Towards Prosperity
b. A Journey Towards Self Reliance
c. A Journey Towards Independence
d. A Journey Towards Indigenisation
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: A Journey Towards Self Reliance

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman released a coffee table book on the Department of Defence Production (DDP), titled 'A journey towards self-reliance'.

The first ever coffee table book on the department, it chronicles the post-independence years of development, indigenisation and production of arms, ammunition and defence equipment, with a view to achieve self-reliance for the Armed Forces of India.

The contents of the book are a remarkable collection of past and current defence equipment produced in India.

Avid readers will find themselves immersed in a world of illustrations and remarkable photographs, captured at 'the' moments, and revealing relevant texts, which will be of interest to the 'defence technology-savvy' Indians.

The book epitomises the visionary approach of the Government of India seeking to establish India as a global manufacturing hub, under the 'Make in India' initiative.

It lends credence to the sincere efforts put in by thousands of unknown faces, to mould and shape the Indian defence industry.

6)   PFMS has been implemented for CSS schemes. What does PFMS stand for?

a. Performance Finance Management System
b. Public Finance Management System
c. Public Finance Management Schedule
d. Public Finance Monitoring System
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Public Finance Management System

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs announced the mandatory use of Public Finance Management System (PFMS) for all the Central Sector Schemes of the Government of India would help in tracking and monitoring the flow of funds to the implementing agencies.

Central Sector Schemes with a budgetary outlay of Rs.6, 66,644 crore covers over 31 percent of the total Central Government expenditure during the current financial year 2017-18.

PFMS, with the capability of providing real time information on resource availability, flows and actual utilization has tremendous potential to improve programme/financial management, reduce the float in the financial systems by enabling 'just in time' releases and also the Government borrowings with direct impact on interest costs to the Government.

PFMS will progress towards a Government wide Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) - as a comprehensive Payment, Receipt and Accounting System.

PFMS is poised to develop as one of the biggest Financial Management Systems of the world, which is critical for bringing about a transformational accountability and transparency in the Government Financial Management Systems and promoting overall Good Governance.

To date payments to 34.19 crore beneficiaries have been made through PFMS and there are 21.72 lakh Programme Implementing Agencies registered on PFMS.

For the first time, Annual Accounts of the Central Government for the Financial Year 2016-17 have been signed before 31st October, 2017.

The PFMS Scheme has been rolled-out by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) at the behest of Finance Ministry, Department of Expenditure as a cherished Public Finance Management (PFM) reform in the country.

Considering the diversity and multiplicity of channels through which money is spent/transferred (including through Direct Benefit Transfer), the PFMS is designed to serve the pertinent need of establishing a common electronic platform for complete tracking of fund flows from the Central Government to large number of programme implementing agencies, both under Central Government and the State Governments till it reaches the final intended beneficiaries.

The mandatory PFMS on-boarding for the remaining Schemes and Programmes including the Centrally Sponsored Schemes is also targeted to be achieved in a phased manner.

7)   Which institute is celebrating its foundation day on 27th October?

a. National Institute of Wind Energy
b. National Institute of Tidal Energy
c. National Institute of Geothermal Energy
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: None of the above

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy presided over the 4th Foundation Day celebrations of National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), at its campus in Gurugram, Haryana on 27th Oct, 2017.

Also launched was the Automation System for Customer Service Cell for Testing Facilities at NISE.

Also released were a set of four books on Solar Energy published by NISE.

The Minister was particularly impressed with the solar powered RO water dispensing ATM, and the solar powered milk chilling unit.

Shri Singh also gave away awards to school children from Gurugram who won prizes for various competitions on Solar Energy.

8)   Which date is being celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhai Patel?

a. 30th Oct
b. 31st Oct
c. 29th Oct
d. 28th Oct
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 31st Oct

31st October is to be celebrated all over the country as a day of special occasion, to foster and reinforce the Government's dedication to preserve and strengthen unity, integrity and security of our nation.

It is to be marked by celebrating it as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India.

March Pasts will be carried out by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Delhi Police in their respective grounds on 31.10.2017. CAPFs are actively participating in State-level and other field level functions.

Functions to commemorate the National Unity Day will also be held in all Indian Embassies/Missions abroad.

A run will also be launched on this date to promote national integration.

9)   What is an OPV in the context of defence crafts?

a. Online patrol vessel
b. Onshore patrol vessel
c. Offline patrol vessel
d. Offshore patrol vessel
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Offshore patrol vessel

The vessel, equipped with modern weapon and state-of- the-art radar systems, would be deployed for day and night surveillance patrol, search, rescue and in pollution response operations.

The offshore patrol vessel (OPV), entirely developed in-house by Larsen and Toubro and the country's first-ever such defence craft to be built in a private shipyard was handed over to the coast guard.

The vessel named "Vikram", built at Larsen and Toubro's Kattupalli shipyard, about 45 km from here, was handed over to the Coast Guard ahead of the March 2018 delivery schedule.

This is the first of the seven vessels for which the INR 1,432-crore contract had been awarded by the Ministry of Defence in March 2015.

As per the contract, the first vessel was slated to be delivered in March next year.

The vessel, equipped with modern weapon and state-of- the-art radar systems, would be deployed for day and night surveillance patrol, search and rescue and in pollution response operations in exclusive economic zones of the country, the Coast Guard said in a release.

The OPV is designed entirely in-house and became the first defence vessel to be built in a private shipyard.

The ship is indigenously designed and would be inducted into service by April 2018 after completion of extensive trials of equipment and machineries.

The ship is fitted with one 30 mm automatic gun and two 12.7 mm gun with fire control systems. It would have integral twin-engine helicopter, which would enhance its operational, surveillance, search and rescue capabilities.

The vessel is equipped with state-of-the-art radars, navigation and communication systems capable of operating in tropical conditions.

Till date, Larsen and Toubro had delivered six refit defence ships including the largest logistics tanker ship INS Jyoti from the shipyard.

The OPV launched today is 97 metres long, 15 metre wide and has 2,140T displacement with a range of 5,000 nautical miles and can reach speed of up to 26 knots.

The entire design and construction processes have undergone dual certification from American Bureau of Shipping and Indian Registrar of Shipping.

10)   Where will the SAARCLAW conference be held from Oct 27, 2017?

a. South Africa
b. Bangladesh
c. Sri Lanka
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Sri Lanka

South Asia's top Judges, legal practitioners, academics and all those interested in the development of law in the region gathered in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 27th Oct to discuss emerging legal trends in the South Asian countries.

The 14th South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in Law (SAARCLAW) Conference will be held from October 27 (today) to 29 along with the 11th SAARC Chief Justices Conference.

According to Mehmood Mandviwalla, President of SAARCLAW the conference will deal with issues like artificial intelligence, human trafficking, FDIs and environmental protection concerns.

The conference coincides with the 25th anniversary of SAARCLAW, which was established in Sri Lanka in 1991. Spanning over 25 years the conference provides a platform for legal professionals from the South Asian region to meet and discuss issues of mutual interests pertaining to justice, legal reforms, good governance and enforcement.

The conference will be inaugurated on Friday October 27 and the keynote address will be delivered by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

This 3-day event under the theme "Emerging Legal Trends in SAARC Countries" will focus on current issues in a diverse range of areas.

The conference is accentuated with opportunities to meet and reconnect with members of the legal community for networking.

The 11th Chief Justices conference will be held on October 28. This is a closed-door session that will be attended only by Their Lordships, the Chief Justices of the SAARC countries.

11)   Which famous writer lyricist has won the Hridaynath Mangeshkar award?

a. Illyaraja
b. Kafi Azmi
c. Gulzar
d. Javed Akhtar
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Javed Akhtar

Veteran writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar has been honoured with the Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award.

Akhtar received the honour at an event which marked the 28th anniversary of Hridayesh Arts and the 80th birthday of veteran music composer Hridaynath Mangeshkar.

Akhtar said that receiving the award was one of his highest honours as it comes from the Mangeshkar family.

Akhtar, 72, recalled how Lata Mangeshkar played a pivotal role in his journey as a lyricist.

Hridayesh Arts, in association with Jay Satya Charitable Trust, organised a music programme titled 'Amrut Hriday Swar Lata', presented by Annu Kapoor Films Pvt Ltd to salute and celebrate 75 glorious years of Lata Mangeshkar.

Javed Akhtar: Know More

  • Javed Akhtar is an Indian poet, lyricist and screenwriter.
  • Akhtar is a mainstream writer and some of his most successful work was carried out with Salim Khan as half of the script-writing duo credited as Salim-Javed between 1971 and 1982.
  • Born: 17 January 1945, Gwalior
  • Spouse: Shabana Azmi (m. 1984)
  • Parents: Jan Nisar Akhtar, Safia Akhtar