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Ganga has higher proportion of antibacterial agents : Study
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • A study – Assessment of Water Quality and Sediment to Understand Special Properties of River Ganga commissioned by the Union Water Resources Ministry was conducted by NEERI, a CSIR Lab.
  • It probed the unique properties of the Ganga and found that the river water contains a significantly higher proportion of organisms with antibacterial properties.
  • Five pathogenic species of bacteria (Escherichia, Enterobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and Vibrio) were selected and isolated from the Ganga, Yamuna and the Narmada and compared their number with the bacteriophages present in the river water.
  • In Ganga, the bacteriophages were detected to be approximately three times more in proportion than bacterial isolates.
  • The study suggests that there are many more bacteriophage species in the Ganga
  • This antibacterial property varied widely along the length of the river. Gomukh to Tehri had 33% more bacteriophage isolated than from Mana to Haridwar and Bijnor to Varanasi.

What are bacteriophages?

  • A bacteriophage is a type of virus that infects bacteria. In fact, the word “bacteriophage” literally means “bacteria eater,” because bacteriophages destroy their host cells.
  • All bacteriophages are composed of a nucleic acid molecule that is surrounded by a protein structure.
  • A bacteriophage attaches itself to a susceptible bacterium and infects the host cell.
  • Following infection, the bacteriophage hijacks the bacterium’s cellular machinery to prevent it from producing bacterial components and instead forces the cell to produce viral components.

 

SC to hear petition to end write-offs
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a petition to restrain banks from writing off non-performing assets (NPAs)

What are non-performing assets?

  • Bank’s assets are the loans and advances given to customers. If customers don’t pay either interest or part of principal or both, the loan turns into bad loan.
  • According to RBI, terms loans on which interest or instalment of principal remain overdue for a period of more than 90 days from the end of a particular quarter is called a Non-performing Asset.
  • However, in terms of Agriculture / Farm Loans; the NPA is defined as under: For short duration crop agriculture loans such as paddy, Jowar, Bajra etc. if the loan (instalment / interest) is not paid for 2 crop seasons , it would be termed as a NPA.
  • For Long Duration Crops, the above would be 1 Crop season from the due date.

What does writing off mean for loans?

  • Writing off or write-off is an accounting tool used by banking institutions to reduce the value of the asset i.e. the loan to zero in their accounting book.
  • The loan write-off does not take away the bank’s right of recovery from the borrower through legal means.
  • After writing off bad loans, any recovery made against them is considered as profit for the bank in the year of recovery.

 

Leave soon Indians told in Tripoli
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
Tripoli, Libya’s capital, has seen continuous violence and the External Affairs Minister has asked the 500 Indians stuck there to leave immediately

What is happening in Tripoli?

  • Over 200 people have been killed in Tripoli in the last two weeks since the renegade Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar’s troops launched a strike to oust UN backed Prime Minister Fayez-al-Sarraj.
  • Haftar, who is aligned with Gaddafi regime loyalists, has amassed power and resources in eastern Libya. Last week, he launched an offensive to the west, aiming to take control of the capital.
  • Gaddafi had been a ruler of Libya till the Libyan civil war in 2011 when he was assassinated following the Arab Spring.

 

Navy to take part in Fleet review in China
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • INS Kolkata, a stealth destroyer and INS Shakti, a fleet tanker have been sent to take part in the International Fleet Review to be held in Qingdao, China
  • The fleet review is part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy)
  • Pakistan’s Navy is not taking part in the event.
  • As a reciprocal gesture and as part of the efforts to promote military cooperation China has agreed to send its ships on port calls to India.

What is a fleet review?

  • A fleet review is a traditional gathering of ships from a particular navy to be observed by the reigning monarch or his or her representative, a practice allegedly dating back to the 15th century.
  • Such an event is not held at regular intervals and originally only occurred when the fleet was mobilised for war or for a show of strength to discourage potential enemies.
  • However, since the 19th century, they have often been held for the coronation or for special royal jubilees and increasingly included delegates from other national navies.
  • India hosted the International Fleet Review, 2016 where more than 100 warships from 50 navies participated.

Bilateral Ties not linked to India’s stance on BRI : China
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Belt and Road Forum , 2019 is going to be held in Beijing, China and will be attended by delegates from 100 nations.
    India will not be participating in the event again.
  • China has said that there has been a progress in India-China ties since the Wuhan meet. And that India and China’s ties were from their differences on the Beijing led Belt and Road initiative.

What is the Belt and Road Initiative?

  • The Belt and Road initiative is a plan by China to connect economies across Asia, Africa and Europe by road, rail and ship.
  • It involves construction of transport links, economic infrastructure and development of ports. It involves land corridors as well as maritime roads.

Why in India opposed to the Belt and Road Initiative?

  • Territorial Sovereignty – The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through Gilgit-Baltistan region which is a territory of India occupied by Pakistan.
  • Financial burden – Several projects under the BRI have been taken up in countries after taking loans at commercial rates from China. When they are unable to repay (i.e. they enter a debt trap), they have had to let go of the asset and hand it over to a Chinese company on a long lease for example, Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka.
  • Bidding process – The bidding for BRI projects is structured in such a manner that it favours the Chinese companies. This eliminates any competition from outside or domestic companies for a host country.

 

Asian Tea Alliance (ATA) launched in China
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • A union of five tea growing and consuming countries called the Asian Tea Alliance has been launched at Guizhou in China.
  • Its members are Indian Tea Association, China Tea Marketing Association, Indonesian Tea Marketing Association, Sri Lanka Tea Board and Japan Tea Association.
  • This alliance was formed soon after the signing of a MoU between China Tea Marketing Board and India Tea Association in December 2018.

What are its goals?

  • It plans to work towards enhancing tea trade, cultural exchanges, technology exchanges as well as globally promoting tea.
  • It will also work towards enhancing global tea consumption while creating a sustainability agenda for the future of Asian tea.

 

BBB Tags 77 officers for leadership roles
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
The Banks Board Bureau has identified 75 senior management personnel of public sector banks to take over leadership roles in the future from a pool of 450 personnel.

What is the Banks Board Bureau?

  • It is the apex body for selection of whole time directors of state-owned lenders.
  • It also helps banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans.
  • It is part of the Indradhanush Plan of the Government
  • It is an autonomous Government body

What is the Indradhanush Plan?

In 2015, Government of India launched a plan for the revamping of the PSBs called the Indradhanush Plan. It followed a seven-pronged approach:

  • Appointment – separation of posts of CEO and MD to check excess concentration of power and smoothen the functioning of banks; also induction of talent from private sector
  • Banks Board Bureau – BBB will be a super authority (Autonomous Body) of eminent professionals and officials for public sector banks (PSBs). It will replace the Appointments Board of Government.
  • Capitalization – Capitalisation of the banks by inducing Rs 70,000 crore into the banks in the next 4 years
  • De-Stressing – Solve issues in the infrastructure sector to check the problem of stressed assets in banks
  • Empowerment – Greater autonomy for banks; more flexibility for hiring manpower
  • Framework of Accountability – The banks will be assessed on the basis of new key performance indicators, both qualitative and quantitative.
  • Governance Reforms- GyanSangam conferences between government officials and bankers for resolving issues in banking sector and chalking out future policy.

Government also infused more capital into banks via Indradhanush 2.0

 

Top IT firms under threat of Cyberattack
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • According to cybersecurity investigation website KrebsOnSecurity, India’s leading It companies may be under serious threat from cyber criminals.
  • These criminals launched phishing campaigns against companies such as Infosys and Cognizant.

What is phishing?
The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

India still not a power surplus nation
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
In the latest Load Generation Balancing Report (LGBR) 2018-19 by Central Electricity Authority, the energy and peak power surpluses had been pegged at 4.6% and 2.5% respectively. However, the energy deficit stood at 0.6% and the peak power deficit at 0.8%

Why is India still not a power surplus nation?
India’s installed generation capacity is 356 GW against a peak demand of 177 GW.
However, India’s distribution companies have not been able to buy power due to their poor financial health so India continues to be a deficit nation.

Why are discoms (distribution companies) in poor health?
This is due to a number of reasons:

  • Shortage of coal due to cancellation of coal mine licenses drove up the prices of coal adding to the input cost.
  • Cost and time overruns for large power projects due to environmental concerns, for example Subansiri Lower Hydro Project on Subansiri river work on which has been suspended since 2011 following protests.
  • Low rate of collection of dues from consumers.
  • Power theft due to non-separation of agricultural and non-agricultural feeders and also in urban areas.
  • Higher technical losses due to poor maintenance of power lines and transformers running overcapacity.
  • Complicated pricing of electricity making consumption uneconomical and bill collection unviable in certain locations.