IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-May 2019

  1. Sri Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369) was a Sri Vaishnava guru/philosopher and one of the most brilliant stalwarts of Sri Vaishnavism in the post Ramanuja period. He was the disciple of Kidambi Appullar, also known as Aathreya Ramanujachariar, who himself was of a master-disciple lineage that began with Ramanuja.
  2. Known as the festival of festivals, Thrissur Pooram has a tradition of more than 200 years. This spectacular event was started by Sakthan Thampuran, the erstwhile ruler of Kochi. Held on the Moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May), festival related events take place at the Vadakkumnathan temple situated in the heart of Thrissur town and the adjoining Thekkinkadu ground.
  3. In a significant decision, the Union Cabinet, last year, approved the building and development of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border, in order to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river, in Pakistan, where Shri Guru Nanak Devji spent eighteen years. Pilgrims would then be able to visit the holy shrine throughout the year.
  4. In Pune, Savarkar founded the “Abhinav Bharat Society”. He was also involved in the Swadeshi movement and later joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party. His instigating patriotic speeches and activities incensed the British Government. As a result the British Government withdrew his B.A. degree. In June 1906, Veer Savarkar, left for London to become Barrister. However, once in London, he united and inflamed the Indian students in England against British rule in India. He founded the Free India Society. The Society celebrated important dates on the Indian calendar including festivals, freedom movement landmarks, and was dedicated to furthering discussion about Indian freedom. He believed and advocated the use of arms to free India from the British and created a network of Indians in England, equipped with weapons.
  5. United States (US) is in the middle of its worst measles outbreaks since last 25 years. A paper, published in the Lancet, places India among seven countries that pose high risk for spread of the disease.
  6. India international institute of democracy and election Management (IIIDEM) is an advanced resource centre of learning, research, training and extension for participatory democracy and election management.
  7. The Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal resolves disputes of the Commonwealth organisations, international or intergovernmental.
  8. Open market operations is the sale and purchase of government securities and treasury bills by RBI or the central bank of the country. The objective of OMO is to regulate the money supply in the economy. RBI carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly deal with the public. When the RBI wants to increase the money supply in the economy, it purchases the government securities from the market and it sells government securities to suck out liquidity from the system.
  9. On March 27, India shot down a live satellite in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) of 300 km using a modified interceptor of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system. Officials had stated that the LEO was particularly chosen to minimise space debris.
  10. For effective implementation of relief measures in the wake of natural calamities, the Government of India has set up a Standing National Crisis Management Committee with Cabinet Secretary as Chairman.
  11. The use of bisphenol-A (BPA) being prohibited in feeding bottles for babies, the toxic chemical continues to be found in some bottles and cups for babies sold in the Indian market, and is leaching into baby foods, found a recent study conducted by Toxics Link. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that has been accepted as the “chemical of concern” globally, and countries have taken action to phase it out from products. The toxic chemical is known to mimic a hormone in the body which activates the progression of cancer and interferes with the development of the reproductive system.
  12. The World Reconstruction Conference is a global forum that provides a platform to collect, assess, and share disaster reconstruction and recovery experiences and take forward the policy dialogue for an effective international disaster recovery and reconstruction framework.
  13. The first part of the Indo-French joint naval exercise, Varuna 19.1 will be conducted off the Goa coast. The bilateral naval exercise initiated in 1983 form a vital part of the Indo-French strategic partnership.
  14. An endangered bird was reintroduced to the wild by South Korean authorities, four decades after it went extinct on the peninsula. The crested ibis was last seen in the wild in 1979 in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean peninsula. Its head is partially bare, showing red skin, and it has a dense crest of white plumes on the nape. China and Japan are also part of the species’ natural range, but the species was driven to the edge of extinction — partially because pesticide use eliminated its food sources — until captive breeding programmes were set up. IUCN Status – Endangered
  15. Sanjay Gandhi National Park is in Maharashtra. It is located in Mumbai. It has a protected archaeological site called Kanheri caves.
  16. Microbiome is the community of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on the skin or in the gut, nose or
    reproductive tract. Microbiomes start forming at birth and are different depending on whether babies were born vaginally or via C-section. And they change with age and different exposures, such as a course of antibiotics that can wipe out friendly bacteria along with infection-causing ones.
  17. This discovery of new species makes Arunachal Pradesh only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it. With this, India is now home to fifth brown pit viper. The other four brown pit vipers are Hump Nosed, Horseshoe, Malabar, and Himalayan. This new discovery makes Arunachal pit viper the second serpent to have been discovered in state after Crying Keelback, a non-venomous snake was found in Arunachala’s Lepa-Rada district in 2018.
  18. Jokha Alharthi, an author from Oman won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for her Arabic novel “Celestial Bodies “. She became the first Arabic language writer to win this award.
  19. Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Vigraha, a frontline offshore patrol vessel, sailed into history. ICGS Vigraha was the seventh offshore patrol vessel built by the Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai and it was commissioned on April 12, 1990. The ship was later based at Visakhapatnam and has been instrumental in protecting the east coast in general and Andhra Pradesh coast in particular since then. ICGS Vigraha is the symbolic representation of an able-minded warrior in the battle field and true to her name, she has brought many laurels. Vigraha has been instrumental in saving many lives at sea and helped in apprehension of many smugglers and poachers.
  20. A glorious era of INS Ranjit being the frontline missile destroyer of the Indian Navy is going to end. INS Ranjit, the third of the five Kashin-class destroyers built by erstwhile USSR was commissioned in 1983 and has rendered yeoman service to the Indian Navy for over 36 years. The ship will now be decommissioned at a solemn ceremony at Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam.
  21. Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vela, the navy’s fourth Scorpene submarine, was launched into the water in Mumbai today. Mazagon Dock Ltd is assembling six Scorpene submarines in partnership with French shipbuilder, Naval Group (formerly DCNS). “[INS Vela] will undergo rigorous tests and trials, both in harbour and at sea, before delivery to the Indian Navy,” announced the defence ministry after the launch.
  22. The first Scorpene (French for Scorpion), INS Kalvari, was commissioned into operational service by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 14, 2017. The second and third, INS Khanderi and Karanj, will join the fleet soon, after completing their on-going sea trials. The remaining two boats (as submariners refer to their vessels) are at an advanced stage of outfitting and would be delivered by mid-2021.
  23. A submarine’s key attribute is stealth, since it can be torpedoed once detected. Stealth comes from reducing noise from the engine and the boat’s internal systems. The Scorpenes have a quiet “Permanently Magnetised Propulsion Motor” that drives it underwater at 20 knots (37 kmph), or 12 knots (22 kmph) when surfaced.
  24. Mount Agung or Gunung Agung is a currently active volcano in Bali, Indonesia, southeast of Mt Batur volcano, also in Bali. Gunung Agung stratovolcano is the highest point on Bali. It dominates the surrounding area, influencing the climate, especially rainfall patterns.
  25. The annual Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX-2019 held recently.
  26. Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has formally taken the formal title King Rama X, the 10th
    king in the Chakri dynasty.
  27. Panchaloha is a term for traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance, used for making Hindu temple murtis and jewelry. The composition is laid down in the Shilpa shastras, a collection of ancient texts that describe arts, crafts, and their design rules, principles and standards. Panchaloha is traditionally described as an alloy of gold(Au), silver(Ag), copper(Cu), zinc(Zn) and iron(Fe) as the major constituents. In some cases tin (Sn) or lead (Pb) is used instead of zinc.
  28. Sharply recurving cyclones are those which change rapidly from a westerly or northwesterly course to a northeasterly or easterly one. Slowly recurving cyclones are those which change slowly from a westerly or northwesterly course to a northeasterly or easterly one. The term broad recurvature is also used for these tracks.
  29. Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness. The scientific name for serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT. It is mainly found in the brain, bowels, and blood platelets. Serotonin is used to transmit messages between nerve cells, it is thought to be active in constricting smooth muscles, and it contributes to wellbeing and happiness, among other things. As the precursor for melatonin, it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and the internal clock. It is thought to play a role in appetite, the emotions, and motor, cognitive, and autonomic functions. However, it is not known exactly if serotonin affects these directly, or if it has an overall role in co-ordinating the nervous system. It appears to play a key role in maintaining mood balance. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression.
  30. The Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary is located in the state of Odisha. The sanctuary is home to a herd of Blackbuck. Olive Ridley Sea Turtles  nest on the beaches
  31. Asiatic lions were once distributed upto the state of West Bengal in east and Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, in central India. At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion. On the IUCN Red List, it is listed as Endangered 
  32. Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu festival held in Kerala, India.
  33. India has found problems with the current method under which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks countries based on their services trade policies, indicating the outcomes are biased and counter-intuitive. OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI)is a unique, evidence-based tool that provides information on regulations affecting trade in services in 22 sectors across all OECD member countries and Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, and South Africa, it was launched in 2014. The STRI toolkit can support policymakers to scope out reform options, benchmark them relative to global best practice, and assess their likely effects; for trade negotiators to clarify restrictions that most impede trade, and for businesses to shed light on the requirements that traders must comply with when entering foreign markets.
  34. Hornbill is the state bird of Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly colored and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. They are the only birds in which the first and second neck vertebrate are fused together. They are mainly frugivorous, but they also feed on small animals
  35. Exercising powers vested in him under Article 75 (1) of the Constitution of India, President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Narendra Modi to the office of Prime Minister of India. The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
  36. The doctrine of hot pursuit owes its origin to the law of the seas, and emerged as an exception to the fundamental principle of freedom of the high seas — the rights of vessels of all nations to navigate freely on the high seas. The doctrine of maritime hot pursuit, codified in art 111 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) recognizes that a vessel, if it has committed a violation of the laws of a foreign state while in that state’s sovereign or territorial waters, may be pursued onto the high seas and seized.
  37. EQUIP stands for the Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme and was crafted by ten committees led by experts to bring transformational change in the higher education system. The ten committees have drafted strategy to improve access to higher education, especially for underserved communities; improve the gross enrolment ration; improve teaching and learning processes; build educational infrastructure; improve the quality of research and innovation; use technology and online learning tools; and work on accreditation systems, governance structures and financing. EQUIP is also being described as the implementation plan for the National Education Policy which is likely to be released soon, after five years of repeated delays and extensions. The last NEP was released in 1986, with a revision in 1992.
  38. Voluntary Retention Route (VRR) is a special route to encourage FPIs willing to make long-term investments in debt. According to VRR foreign portfolio investors will be exempt from regulatory provisions, but will have to voluntarily commit to retain in India a minimum required percentage of their investments for a period of their choice. Any entity registered as a foreign portfolio investor with Sebi is eligible to participate through VRR.