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Environment

UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK NETWORK STATUS

Why in news?

Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka are the Geological Survey of India’s candidates for UNESCO Global Geopark Network status.

About the news

  • An aspiring Global Geopark must have a dedicated website, a corporate identity, comprehensive management plan, protection plans, finance, and partnerships for it to be accepted.
  • The Geopark tag is akin to that of a ‘World Heritage Site’ for historical monuments that can bring India’s famed geological features to the global stage.

Lonar Lake, Maharashtra

  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e4/Lonar_cr_lake.jpg/900px-Lonar_cr_lake.jpgLonar lake is the only known hyper velocity meteorite impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on Earth.
  • Lonar crater became a geo-heritage site in 1979.
  • It is relatively young geologically, at just 50,000 years old.
  • A meteorite estimated to weigh two-million-tonnes slammed into the Earth, creating a 1.83-km diameter crater where the lake formed.
  • It is distinguished by a near-perfect, circular ejecta blanket, which refers to earth thrown up during the collision, around it.
  • Lonar Lake is relatively young to St Mary’s island.

St Mary’s island, Karnataka

  • Mary's Islands, also known as Coconut Island and Thonsepar, are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka.
  • It is estimated to be an 88-million-year-old formation that goes back to a time when Greater India broke away from Madagascar.
  • Mary’s island is a unique phenomenon that has been preserved well.
  • Mary’s Island, declared a national geo-heritage site in 1975.

UNESCO Global Geoparks

  • circular logo of the Global Geoparks NetworkUNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
  • UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area.
  • The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through sustainable geo tourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.
  • This bottom-up approach is becoming increasingly popular through the positive and effective running of the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) under UNESCO’s ad hoc support with individual Member States as appropriate.
  • UNESCO’s work with Geo parks began in 2001.

About GSI

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) is an organisation under Ministry of Mines.
  • It is founded in 1851 by East India Company.
  • Functions: conducting geological surveys and studies of India, and also as the prime provider of basic earth science information to government, industry and general public.
  • Headquarters is in Kolkata.
GRIZZLED GIANT SQUIRREL

Why in News?

The population of Grizzled Giant Squirrel is estimated to be down by 85% in Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary, Kerala.

About

  • Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary is one of Grizzled Giant Squirrel’s habitats in Western Ghats.Grizzled Giant Squirrel is living on the edge in the Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary, one of its habitats in Western Ghats.
  • It got its common name from the white flecks of hair over its greyish body, is seen in pairs or as a family party of three individuals only during the breeding season.
  • The species is endemic to the southern States of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
  • The only known population of the squirrel in Kerala is in the sanctuary.
  • The population of the species in the country is estimated to be less than 500 mature individuals.
  • The Chinnar population is troubled by the increased predator pressure and the extremely low regeneration of its preferred food plant species due to heavy grazing by cattle.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as near threatened due to habitat loss and hunting.

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS)

  • Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) is located in the Marayoor and Kanthalloor panchayats of Devikulam taluk in the Idukki district of Kerala state in South India.
  • It is one of twelve wildlife sanctuaries among the protected areas of Kerala.
  • It has earned the name for only rehabilitation centre for star tortoise in India.
  • It is under the jurisdiction of and contiguous with Eravikulam National Park to the south, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is to the north and Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary is to the east.
  • It forms an integral part of the block of protected forests straddling the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the Anaimalai Hills.
  • The Western Ghats, Anamalai Sub-Cluster, including all of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.

World Affairs

NOBEL PRIZE | PHYSICS | LASER PHYSICS

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Three scientists won the Nobel Physics Prize, including the first woman to receive the prestigious award in 55 years, for inventing optical lasers that have paved the way for advanced precision instruments used in corrective eye surgery.

About

  • Ashkin invented optical “tweezers” that could grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells.

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  • Mourou and Strickland separately created the shortest and most powerful laser pulses ever.
  • These became the standard for high-intensity lasers, for example used in millions of corrective eye surgeries per year.

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  • The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace have been awarded since 1901 in accordance with the will of Swedish business tycoon Alfred Nobel, whose discovery of dynamite generated a vast fortune used to fund the prize.
  • For the first time in decades no Nobel Prize for literature will be given this year after a scandal.

Economy

BSE | COMMODITY DERIVATES | FIRST

Why in News?

The Bombay Stock Exchange became the first stock exchange in the country to launch commodity derivatives contract in gold and silver.
About
ü  Till date, commodity derivatives contract are available only on MCX and NCDEX, the two specialised commodity derivatives exchanges in the country.
ü  BSE have launched gold and silver derivatives contract and have applied for launching crude oil and copper contracts with SEBI.
ü  The launch of commodity derivatives platform on the BSE will help in efficient price discovery, reduce timeline and make it cost-effective.
ü  Now onwards, all exchanges will be known as stock exchanges and there will be no commodity exchanges.
About BSE
  • The BSE (formerly known as Bombay Stock Exchange Ltd.) is Asia’s first stock exchange.
  • It was established in 1875.
  • It claims to be the world's fastest stock exchange, with a median trade speed of 6 microseconds.
  • The BSE is the world's 10th largest stock exchange with an overall market capitalization of more than $2.3 trillion on as of April 2018.
  • On August 31, 1957, the BSE became the first stock exchange to be recognized by the Indian Governmentunder the Securities Contracts Regulation Act.
  • In 1986, it developed the S&P BSE SENSEX index, giving the BSE a means to measure the overall performance of the exchange.
  • The S&P BSE SENSEX(S&P Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index), also called the BSE 30 or simply the SENSEX, is a free-float market-weighted stock market index of 30 well-established and financially sound companies listed on Bombay Stock Exchange.
  • BSE established India INX on 30 December 2016.
  • India INX is the first international exchange of India.
  • The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is an Indian stock exchange located at Dalal Street, Mumbai.

Polity and Governance

PROJECT UTKRISHT | INDIAN RAILWAYS

Why in news?

Indian Railways Project ‘Utkrisht’ has kick started with the revamp of train number 12311/12312 Howrah-Kalka Mail of Eastern Railway. 

About Project ‘Utkrisht’

  • Indian Railways Project ‘Utkrisht’ is aimed at upgrading Mail/Express train rakes.
  • Under Project Utkrisht, Indian Railways plans to upgrade 140 rakes of Mail/Express trains in the first phase.
  • This upgrade involves giving a facelift to both the interior and exterior of the train’s rake.
  • The project will address a common complaint of passengers – stinking toilets which will be replaced with ‘Swachh Rail Toilet’.
  • It not only reduces water consumption while flushing, but also makes sure that the stench is minimal.
  • All coaches have been fitted with energy-efficient LED lights – in the main interior, doorway, gang way and inside toilets.
  • Under Project Utkrisht, the AC coaches, non-AC sleeper class, unreserved coaches and the pantry car will also be upgraded.
  • Indian Railways has sanctioned Rs 60 lakh to zonal railways for the upgrade of Mail/Express trains under Project Utkrisht.
  • The aim is to upgrade 140 rakes by March 2019 and then take up 500 rakes in the next phase.

Current Affair Capsules

World Peace Monument | Pune
  • Vice-President inaugurated the world’s largest dome at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT)’s World Peace University (MIT-WPU) campus at Loni Kalbhor, Pune on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The ‘World Peace Monument’ dome is larger in area than the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
  • The dome is built atop the MIT World Peace Library and the World Peace Prayer Hall, which are named after the 13th century poet-saint and philosopher Dnyaneshwar — a pivotal figure of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra.
  • Each of the 24 massive columns in the ‘World Peace Monument’ dome stand 63 feet tall.
  • The prayer hall can accommodate about 3,500 people and is embellished with more than 50 statues of saints, philosophers, scientists and statesmen from India and the world.