Facts Corner-Part-6

World Business Council for Sustainable Development:

  • The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global advocacy association of some 200 international companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development. Its origins date back to the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit of 1992.
  • The WBCSD was created in 1995 in a merger of the Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Industry Council for the Environment and is based at the Maison de la paix in Geneva, Switzerland, and offices in New York and New Delhi.

Nature Capital Coalition:

The Natural Capital Coalition is a unique global multi-stakeholder collaboration that brings together leading initiatives and organizations to harmonize approaches to natural capital.

What is natural capital?

  • Natural capital is another term for the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources (e.g. plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.
  • The benefits provided by natural capital include clean air, food, water, energy, shelter, medicine, and the raw materials we use in the creation of products. It also provides less obvious benefits such as flood defence, climate regulation, pollination and recreation.
  • Natural capital is one of several other commonly recognized forms of capital. Others include financial, manufactured, social and relationship, human, and intellectual capital. Natural capital supports all of the other capitals by providing essential resources, that support a healthy planet and underpins thriving societies and prosperous economies.

Why do we need to conserve and enhance natural capital?

The growing need to conserve and enhance natural capital is well documented. We know that we are depleting natural resources faster than the earth can replenish them, and at an accelerating rate (WWF 2014). We have grown financial capital in large part through the use, exploitation, and degradation of natural and social capital.

Advanced hypersonic ballistic missile weapon:

China reportedly tested its advanced hypersonic ballistic missile weapon, which can accurately hit anywhere in the world as quick as within an hour.

China’s new military threat to the world: Reports of China having conducted two tests of its “hypersonic” ballistic missiles– which will not only challenge US defences but also be able to more accurately hit military targets in Japan and India– are scaring us.

The report of this weapon came in the South China Morning Post after The Diplomat magazine cited US intelligence sources in December to report that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force conducted 2 tests in November, 2017 of a new “hypersonic glide vehicle” or HGV, named DF-17.

What we know of China’s HGV

  • The HGV weapons reportedly have an achievable speed that is 10 times that of sound (precisely up to 7,680 miles), and are able to hit anything across the globe in under an hour
  • These weapons could be used for delivering missiles and nuclear weapons to distant targets across the globe along with conventional payload
  • According to experts, China’s HGV could also destroy US’s anti-missile radar system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD)


  • Chinese military specialists claim that the DF-17 was one of several iterations of glider systems developed by the PLA, including the DF-ZF which has been through at least 7 tests
  • Song Zhongping, a former member of the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps, the rocket wing’s predecessor, said the DF-17 was the weaponised model of the DF-ZF prototype, as reported by the China state post
  • He also said multiple HGV warheads could be used with the DF-41, which has a range of at least 12,000 km
  • Apart from China, USA and Russia are also said to be developing a hypersonic glider technology but no country has conducted test flights

What we know of the 2 tests

  • The DF-17 test missiles were launched from the Jiuquan launch centre in Mongolia and flew about 1,400 km during the trial, The Diplomat reported
  • Both tests were successful and the DF-17 could be operational by around 2020, the US intelligence sources were quoted as saying
  • PTI reported that when Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang was asked about the 2 tests yesterday, he declined to react, saying the Defence Ministry should be approached for information on this

Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV)

  • HGVs are unmanned, rocket-launched, manoeuvrable aircrafts that glide and “skip” through the earth’s atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds
  • Compared to conventional ballistic systems, HGV warheads can travel at much higher speeds, lower altitudes and less-trackable trajectories
  • HGV system could be used with various kinds of ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles with a range of at least 5,500 km
  • The approach of HGVs leaves defence systems less time to intercept the warhead before it drops its payload
  • Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming told PTI that HGV technology has become part of the nuclear strategy between the world’s three big nuclear powers: China, the US and Russia
  • “Compared to conventional ballistic missiles, HGVs are more complex and difficult to intercept.

First Energy Efficient Railway Station:

  • The 100-year-old Kacheguda Railway Station has become the First Energy Efficient Railway Station on Indian Railways.
  • Kacheguda has become India’s first energy efficient ‘A1 Category’ railway station on Indian Railways. Kacheguda railway station comes under the South Central Railway (SCR).
  • The measures taken by the Railways to achieve 100 per cent energy efficiency will save about 1.76 lakh units and Rs 14.08 lakh per annum with reduction of the connected load by 46.18 KW.

About Kacheguda Railway station

  • It was built in the year 1916 by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th Nizam of the Hyderabad State, in Gothic and Mughal style architecture
  • The Kacheguda railway station was built in a symmetrical design with four domes placed on octagonal minars, situated in the four corners of the magnificent building
  • Two huge arches built between the entrance and main platform is another striking feature of the station
  • In the year 2003, it was declared a heritage site for its grandeur
  • The SCR describes the 100-year old Kacheguda railway station as one of three ‘Pearls’ of Hyderabad, the other two being Secunderabad and Nampally stations.

Kumbh Mela as Intangible Cultural Heritage of India:

  • Kumbh Mela enters UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed Kumbh Mela on its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • The intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO made the decision regarding Kumbh Mela during its 12th session that was held at Jeju, South Korea.
  • With the inclusion, Kumbh Mela now joins the elements from Botswana, Colombia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Morocco, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the list.
  • This inscription is the third in two years following the inscriptions of Yoga and Nouroz on December 1, 2016.
  • On the inclusion of KumbhMela in UNESCO Prime Minister, Narendra Modi tweeted “A matter of immense joy and pride for India.”

More about Kumbh Mela

  • Kumbh Mela is considered as the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims, which is held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik
  • It represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship in India
  • It is a social ritual and festive event which is closely linked to the community’s perception of its own history and memory.
  • According to the legend during the battle between Gods and demons over a pot of Amrit (Nectar of immortality), a few drops of Amrit fell in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Since then KumbhMela has been held in these places.

Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme:

The scheme is a part of umbrella scheme ‘Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women’ of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for introducing Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme. The CCEA has also approved for expanding the schemes of Ministry of Women and Child Development under the umbrella scheme ‘Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women’ for a period 2017-18 to 2019-20.

About the scheme:

  • It aims at empowering rural women through community participation to create an environment in which they can realize their full potential
  • PMMSK scheme is envisioned as one-stop convergence support service with opportunities for skill development, digital literacy, health and nutrition and employment
  • The financial outlay of the scheme during 2017-18 to 2019-20 will be Rs 3,636.85 crore with a central share of approximately Rs 3,084.96 crore
  • The central government will constitute one common task force at national, state and district level
  • It will aim to improve declining child sex ratio; ensuring survival and protection of the girl child; ensuring her education, and empowering her to fulfill her potential
  • It will provide an interface for rural women to approach the government for availing their entitlements and for empowering them through training and capacity building
  • Through this scheme, government plans to reach 115 most backward districts in the country with 920 Mahila Shakti Kendra by community engagement through student volunteers who will play an instrumental role in awareness generation regarding various important government schemes/ programmes as well as social issues
  • More than 3 lakhs student volunteers from local colleges will be engaged in this process, including NSS/NCC cadre providing an opportunity to them to participate in the development process by bringing change in their own communities and ensuring that women are equal partners in India’s progress
  • At national level, Mahila Shakti Kendra will provide domain-based knowledge support while at state level, it will cater to State Resource Centre for Women that will provide technical support on issues related to women at district and block level centres.


  • BrahMos operates on ‘fire and forget principal’ and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets.
  • BrahMos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, created history on November 22, 2017 after it was successfully flight-tested first time. The missile was tested from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI against a sea based target in the Bay of Bengal.
  • With this, the armed forces are now capable of launching the Brahmos, which has a strike range of around 290 km and is described as the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, from land, sea and air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for the country.
  • “The missile was gravity dropped from the Su-30 from fuselage, and the two stage missile’s engine fired up and straightway propelled towards the intended target at the sea in Bay of Bengal,” read a statement from the Ministry of Defence.

Here are 6 things you should know about the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile:

  • The successful maiden test firing of Brahmos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF’s air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges
  • Brahmos ALCM weighing 2.5 ton is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft modified by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) to carry weapons.
  • It operates on ‘fire and forget principal’ and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets
  • It is capable of carrying warhead of 300 kilogram (both conventional as well as nuclear) and has top supersonic speed of Mach 2.8 to 3 (roughly three times speed of sound)
  • Brahmos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia
  • The missile test was witnessed by Dr Sudhir Mishra, DG (BrahMos) and CEO and MD, BrahMos Aerospace along with senior IAF officials, scientists and officials from DRDO and BrahMos.

 IMD World Talent Ranking:

The annual IMD World Talent Ranking covers 63 countries and assesses the methods adopted by countries to attract and retain talent.

India was ranked at the 51st spot among 63 countries on the IMD Talent Rankings in terms of ability to attract, develop and retain talent. In the previous rankings, India was ranked at the 54th spot. However, according to the rank list by IMD, it ranked among the bottom five countries in the world in terms of investment in education as a percentage of GDP.

“The outstanding education systems in Europe sets them apart from the rest of the pack. This allows them to develop local talent and at the same time attract foreign, highly- skilled professionals, which many European businesses rely upon to perform,” a report stated in Economic Times.

According to Arturo Bris, Head of Competitiveness, IMD Switzerland, India is not doing a good job at retaining local talent and attracting foreign labour.

Highlights of the story:

  • In the ranking, Switzerland has topped the list, closely followed by Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg in top 10 while India was at 51
  • India was ranked 62nd (on investment and development), 43rd (appeal) and 29th (readiness) in the three main categories
  • The rankings are based on a country’s performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal, and readiness which assess how countries perform in a wide range of areas which include education, apprenticeships, workplace training, language skills, cost of living, quality of life, remuneration and tax rates
  • Globally, Europe continues to dominate rankings being most competitive countries and leading Asian economies in rankings are Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They have cemented their global status as hubs of attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers though they trail Europe in this regard
  • Many of our neighbours have fared far better on the World Talent Ranking. Republic of Korea ranked 39 followed by China, and Thailand came in at the 42nd place. Philippines, which jumped up 10 ranks, has overtaken India too. In the BRICS bloc, only Brazil trailed India and by one rank only.

National Anti-profiteering Authority :

There are only 50 items which attract the highest tax of 28 per cent under the GST regime and rates on many items have been cut to 5 per cent as well.

  • The NAA is tasked with ensuring full benefits of reduction in tax on supply of goods or services flow to consumers
  • The establishment of the NAA, to be headed by a senior officer of the level of Secretary to the Government of India with four Technical Members from the Centre and/or the States
  • It may be recalled that effective from midnight of November 14, 2017 the GST rate has been slashed from 28 per cent to 18 per cent on goods falling under 178 headings
  • It is responsible for applying anti-profiteering measures in event of reduction in GST rate on supply of goods or services or if benefit of input tax credit is not passed on to recipients by way of commensurate reduction in prices
  • If NAA finds that company has not passed on benefits of tax reduction, it can direct entity to pass on benefits to consumers along with interest from the date of collection of the higher amount till date of return of such amount
  • If the beneficiary cannot be identified, NAA can ask company to transfer amount to the ‘Consumer Welfare Fund’, as provided under Section 57 of CGST Act
  • According to the anti-profiteering rules, the authority will suggest return of the undue profit earned from not passing on the reduction in incidence of tax to consumers along with an 18 per cent interest, as also impose penalty as reported by PTI
  • NAA confirmed to PIB that there is a necessity to apply anti-profiteering measures, it has the authority to order the supplier/business concerned to reduce its prices or return the undue benefit availed by it along with interest to the recipient of the goods or services
  • In case the incident of profiteering relates to an item of mass impact with ‘All India’ ramification, the application may be directly made to the Standing Committee.

Gleadovia konyakianorum:

The newly discovered species of parasitic plant has been named as Gleadovia konyakianorum, in honour of the Konyak tribe of Nagas.

Scientists have discovered a new parasitic plant in Nagaland that doesn’t have chlorophyll of its own and has to steal food from other plants to survive.

It was identified during a botanical exploration earlier this year near Tobu town of Mon district in eastern Nagaland.

What is meant by Chlorophyll?

It is the green substance in plants that allows it to trap sun light and uses its energy to synthesise carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. The process is known as photosynthesis.

More about the newly discovered parasitic plant

  • The scientists have named the new found species as Gleadovia konyakianorum, in honour of the Konyak tribe of Nagas
  • It is a root parasite that grows up to 10 cm in height, and bears white, tubular flowers
  • Though it is has no chlorophyll, the plant has a vascular system and extracts its nutrition from the host plant with the help of a haustorium
  • This is only the fourth species from the genus Gleadovia to be found in the world. The other three are Gleadovia banerjiana , Gleadovia mupinense and Gleadovia ruborum
  • The researchers found the white flowering parasite in a group of 15-20 plants and as they couldn’t find the species report anywhere else the scientists described its status as ‘data deficient’ in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species Criteria.

Saubhagya scheme:

The web portal Saubhagya for Pradhan Mantri  Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana was launched on November 16. Here is what you can do on it.

Union Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy, R K Singh launched the web portal ‘Saubhagya’ for the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana on November 16, 2017.  The portal can be accessed at http://saubhagya.gov.in

The Saubhagya scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 25, 2017 with an aim to provide last mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households.

Highlights of the portal:

  •  Any citizen who has registered on this portal can get all the information about the current status of the work on electrification of various areas
  •  It offers a feature on village electrification camps that will be organized by DISCOMs in villages for facilitating the instant filling up of application forms to complete mandatory documentation which will speed up the release of electricity connections to households
  •  The states may announce the schedule of the village camps to be held on this portal to create awareness among people about the one stop facility for electricity connections
  •  The Saubhagya Dashboard is a platform which would disseminate information on household electrification status (state, district, village-wise), and household progress on live basis
  •  The DISCOMs/ State Power Government will be required  to adopt innovative mechanism  for data collection in electronic form, including application forms
  •  The seven states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Assam have given their requirements to the power ministry for funds under the Saubhagya Scheme, which would be released soon for aiding the respective electrification works
  •  This step would reduce crop residue burning in agriculture dominated states like Punjab, Haryana etc. and it will also reduce pollution

More about the Saubhagya scheme:

  • Under the Saubhagya scheme, government should provide all willing households in rural areas and poor families in urban areas free electricity connections identified under the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data of 2011
  • There are around 4 crore un-electrified households in the country and they are targeted for providing electricity  connections by December 2018
  •  The expense for this scheme would be over Rs. 16000 crore. These connections are provided free of cost to the poor

 “The government is bringing a change in the power ecosystem in the country by pushing towards mandatory metering of all new electrical connections through pre-paid or smart meters. This would make paying of electricity bills viable for the poor, reduce power losses and increase compliance in paying electricity bills,” RK Singh told Economic Times during the launch of the portal.

Coastal Economic Zone:

The first mega CEZ will stretch across Nashik, Thane, Mumbai, Pune and Raigarh.

The government has given a green signal for setting up the country’s first mega Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra.

The first mega CEZ will stretch across Nashik, Thane, Mumbai, Pune and Raigarh.

Important pointers

  • It is part of the Union government’s plan to develop 14 such industrial clusters in a bid to increase manufacturing activities and create more jobs
  • Around 45 companies from the telecom, auto and IT sectors are soon expected to bid for 200 hectares of land to start manufacturing units in the zone
  • The move is expected to see an investment of Rs 15,000 crore in the first phase and will create more than 1.5 lakh jobs
  • This would also help in creating an ecosystem around the CEZ that will help small and medium term companies to emerge and grow

Sagarmala Programme

  • Last year, the Union Cabinet had approved setting up 14 mega CEZs under the National Perspective Plan of the Sagarmala Programme. The National Perspective Plan was crafted on April 2016
  • According to the Ministry of Shipping, the Sagarmala Plan will substantially reduce export-import and domestic trade costs with minimal investment
  • The main aim of the project is to develop port infrastructure in India that will boost transport to and from ports.

World’s first fully electric cargo ship:

World’s first fully electronic cargo ship was recently launched in China. Read on to know all about the zero-emission vessel.

China recently launched the world’s first all-electric ship, which can travel up to 80 km with 2000-tonnes cargo after a two-hour charge, according to the state media reports.

It was launched in Guangzhou in South China’s Guangdong Province, the People’s Dailyreported.

More about the recently launched world’s first fully electronic cargo ship

  • The ship is 70.5-metre-long and weighs around 600 tonnes
  • The Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Ltd has manufactured the ship
  • The vessel is powered by a 26-tonne lithium battery
  • It can cruise at the top speed of 12.8 km per hour
  • The cargo ship has zero emission, including carbon, sulphur and PM 2.5 as it does not use fossil fuel
  • According to state-run Global Times report, the ship could be used as a passenger liner or a working ship

On its inaugural run, the vessel was loaded with thermal coal mainly for areas around the Pearl River in Guangdong Province, the report added, according to PTI.

“This kind of ship takes into consideration the harmony between humans and nature and can protect water quality and marine life, and should be copied by other ships sailing on local rivers,” Wang Yongchen, a Beijing environmentalist, was quoted as saying in the report.

Rosogolla gets GI tag:

  • West Bengal defeats Odisha in the GI tag battle for the origin of Rosogolla. West Bengal has finally emerged victorious in the two and a half year battle against Odisha for the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the origin of Rosogolla.
  • In West Bengal it is widely believed that renowned sweet-maker Nabin Chandra Das created the sweet dessert in the year 1868.
  • Now, Rosogolla has joined the elite list that includes famous products such as Phulkari, Nagpur Orange, Lucknow Chikan, Srikalahasthi Kalamkari etc.

What is a GI tag?

  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act) was passed by the Parliament in December 1999. It was aimed at providing the registration and protection of GI of the goods available in India. The Registrar of Geographical Indication is authorized to give GI tags.
  • The GI tag is an indication which is definite to a geographical territory.

Which products can get GI tag?

  • Agricultural, natural and manufactured goods can get GI tags. For a product to get GI tag, the goods need to be produced or processed or prepared in that particular region. The product should also have a special quality or reputation.
  • Other products that recently got the elite GI tag include Etikoppaka toys from Andhra Pradesh, Gobindobhog rice from West Bengal, Basmati rice from Madhya Pradesh and Banganapalle Mango of Andhra Pradesh.

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