Facts Corner-Part-28


  • India’s indigenous light transport aircraft SARAS has been successfully test flown for a second time recently.
  • The design and development of the aircraft is being done by CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories, NAL.
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, HAL has been identified as the production agency for the military version of SARAS.
  • SARAS Mk 2 will be ideal for commuter connectivity under Government of India’s UDAAN Scheme.
  • It can be used for variety of applications like air taxi, aerial search/survey, executive transport, disaster management, border patrol, coast guard, ambulance and other community services.

What is a “mangrove” forest?

  • Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone.
  • There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
  • Many mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. This tangle of roots allows the trees to handle the daily rise and fall of tides, which means that most mangroves get flooded at least twice per day.  The roots also slow the movement of tidal waters, causing sediments to settle out of the water and build up the muddy bottom.
  • Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. The intricate root system of mangroves also makes these forests attractive to fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators.

Purchasing Managers’ Index:

  • PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity – it can be utilised as an indicator for both, the manufacturing and services sectors.
  • It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before.
  • The PMI is derived from a series of qualitative questions.
  • Executives from a reasonably big sample, running into hundreds of firms, are asked whether key indicators such as output, new orders, business expectations and employment were stronger than the month before and are asked to rate them.
  • A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction. Higher the difference from this mid-point, greater the expansion or contraction.

Sex Ratio at Birth:

  • Sex Ratio at Birth or the number of  girls born for every 1000 boys born during a specific year is an important indicator and reflects the extent to which there is reduction in the number of  girl children born by sex-selective abortions. 
  • This indicator was only available for the category of  Larger States.
  • The SRB is substantially lower in almost all Larger States – 17 out of 21 States have SRB of less than 950 females per 1000 males.
  • Further, in most States, SRB has declined between the base year (2012-14) and reference year (2013-15), except for Bihar, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh where improvements in SRB were noted, and Jammu & Kashmir where it stagnated.

PM’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration, 2018

  • Government of India has instituted the scheme to acknowledge, recognize and reward the extraordinary and innovative work done by Districts / organizations of the Central and State Governments.
  • The Award aims to bring about transparency, improvement in approaches, systems and processes in the delivery of public services.
  • Following four priority programmes have been identified for the awards this year:
  1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana,
  2. Promoting Digital Payments,
  3. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban & Rural, and
  4. Deen Dayal Upadhayay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDUGKY).
  • The awards will be presented on Civil Services Day, 2018 function to be organized by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • Every year on 21st of April (Civil Services Day) the awards for excellence in Public Administration are given.


  • Sophia is  the world’s first AI powered humanoid robot
  • It was a part of the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT), 2018, held in Telegana, India.
  • A Humanoid may be defined as something that resembles or looks like a human and having their characteristics like opposing thumb etc,
  • A Humanoid robot is fully automated as it can adapt to its surroundings and continue with its goals, as the case with Sophia.
  • Sophia with her incredible human likeness and expressiveness is an evolving genius machine.
  • Sophia, with a perfect skin and soft facial muscles, can give as many as 66 facial expressions.


  • Echidnas, also called spiny anteaters, are mammals
  • Echidnas are one of the world’s oldest surviving mammals.
  • They are egg-laying mammals.
  • It is listed as ‘least concern’ in IUCN classification.
  • However, the short-beaked echidna found only in Australia and Papua Guinea is threatened.
  • The main threats are land clearing and habitat loss ,traffic, feral cats and potentially the rapidly changing climate.


SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. It is a messaging network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information and instructions through a standardized system of codes.  

SWIFT assigns each financial organization a unique code that has either eight characters or 11 characters. The code is called interchangeably the bank identifier code (BIC), SWIFT code, SWIFT ID, or ISO 9362 code. (See related: What’s the difference between an IBAN and a swift code?) To understand how the code is assigned, let’s look at Italian bank UniCredit Banca, headquartered in Milan. It has the 8-character SWIFT code UNCRITMM.

  • First four characters: the institute code (UNCR for UniCredit Banca)
  • Next two characters: the country code (IT for the country Italy)
  • Next two characters: the location/city code (MM for Milan)
  •  Last three characters: optional, but organizations use it to assign codes to individual branches. (The UniCredit Banca branch in Venice may use the code UNCRITMMZZZ.)

Who Uses SWIFT?

In in the beginning, SWIFT founders designed the network to facilitate communication about Treasury and correspondent transactions only. The robustness of the message format design allowed huge scalability through which SWIFT gradually expanded to provide services to the following:

    •    Banks

    •    Brokerage Institutes and Trading Houses

    •    Securities Dealers

    •    Asset Management Companies

    •    Clearing Houses

    •    Depositories

    •    Exchanges

    •    Corporate Business Houses

    •    Treasury Market Participants and Service Providers

    •    Foreign Exchange and Money Brokers

Services Offered by SWIFT

  • Applications – SWIFT connections enable access to a variety of applications which include real-time instruction matching for treasury and forex transactions, banking market Infrastructure for processing payment instructions between the banks, and securities market infrastructure for processing clearing and settlement instructions for payments, securities, forex, and derivatives transactions.
  • Business Intelligence – SWIFT has recently introduced dashboards and reporting utilities which enable the clients to get a dynamic, real-time view of monitoring the messages, activity, trade flow, and reporting. The reports enable filtering based on region, country, message types, and related parameters.
  • Compliance Services – Aimed at services around financial crime compliance, SWIFT offers reporting and utilities like Know Your Customer (KYC), Sanctions, and Anti-Money Laundering (AML). (See related: US And EU Sanctions Against North Korea)
  • Messaging, Connectivity, and Software Solutions – The core of SWIFT business resides in providing a secure, reliable, and scalable network for the smooth movement of messages. Through its various messaging hubs, software, and network connections, SWIFT offers multiple products and services which enable its end clients to send and receive transactional messages. 

Three-level audit:

  • Banks are audited at three levels — apart from an internal audit, there is an external auditor and a statutory audit undertaken by the RBI. 

The role of CAG in the auditing of public corporations is limited. Broadly speaking, his relationship with the public corporations falls into the following three categories:

  1. Some corporations are audited totally and directly by the CAG, for example, Damodar Valley Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Air India, Indian Airlines Corporation, and others.
  2. Some other corporations are audited by private professional auditors who are appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the CAG. If necessary,  the  CAG  can  conduct supplementary audit. The examples are, Central Warehousing Corporation, Industrial Finance Corporation, and others.
  • Some other corporations are totally subjected to private audit. In other words, their audit is done exclusively by private professional auditors and the CAG does not come into the picture at all. They submit their annual reports and accounts directly to the  Parliament. Examples of such corporations are Life Insurance Corporation of India, Reserve Bank of India, State Bank of India, Food Corporation of India, and others.

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