Current Affairs, News & Facts of 08 Mar 2016

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  • Galaxy 13.4 billion years away breaks cosmic distance record 

     

    Galaxy 13.4 billion years away breaks cosmic distance record An international team of astronomers have shattered the cosmic distance record by discovering the farthest galaxy ever about 13.4 billion light-years away, from a time when the universe was just 400 million years old after the Big Bang. The Galaxy which has been named "GN-z11" is located in the direction of the constellation of Ursa Major.

    The team of astronomers who have discovered the galaxy includes scientists from Yale University, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and the University of California. The team’s findings have been accepted for publication in an upcoming edition of the Astrophysical Journal. 

    The combination of Hubble’s and Spitzer’s imaging shows that GN-z11 is 25 times smaller than the Milky Way and has just one per cent of our galaxy’s mass in stars. GN-z11 is growing fast, forming stars at a rate about 20 times greater than our galaxy does today.

    Earlier,  the team had estimated GN-z11’s distance by determining its colour through imaging with Hubble and Nasa’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Now, for the first time for a galaxy at such an extreme distance, the team used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to precisely measure the distance to GN-z11 spectroscopically by splitting the light into its component colours.

    How distance in space is measured ?

    Astronomers measure large distances by determining the “redshift” of a galaxy. This phenomenon is a result of the expansion of the universe; every distant object in the universe appears to be receding from us because its light is stretched to longer, redder wavelengths as it travels through expanding space to reach our telescopes. The greater the redshift, the farther the galaxy.

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  • Air India operates ‘world’s longest all-women flight’

     

    Air India operates ‘world’s longest all-women flight’Air India the flag carrier airline of India has set a world record as it flew the "world's longest" all-women operated and supported flight, ever.

    The flight, travelled a non-stop journey of around 14,500 kilometre between Delhi and San Francisco in close to 17 hours. The flight was operated as part of International Women's Day celebrations.

    This was for the first time, on the world’s longest non-stop flight, that entire flight operations from cockpit crew to cabin crew, check-in staff, doctor, customer care staff, ATC (air traffic control) and the entire ground handling were handled by women.

    The flight was under the command of Kshamta Bajpayee and Shubhangi Singh, along with First Officers Ramya Kirti Gupta and Amrit Namdhari. Air India has about 3,800 women employees, including pilots, cabin crew, engineers, technicians, doctors, security personnel and executives.

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  • New categorisation system for industries based on Pollution Index

     

    New categorisation system for industries based on Pollution IndexMinistry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has released a new four-colour classification scheme for industries based on their pollution potential. 

    The criteria for categorising industrial sectors based on the Pollution Index, which takes into account emissions (air pollutants), effluents (water pollutants), hazardous waste and consumption of resources.

    The Pollution Index (PI ) of any industrial sector is measured from 0 to 100. Increasing value of PI denotes the increasing degree of pollution load from the industrial sector. 

    Under the new categorisation system :-

    (1) Industries that pollute the most have been put in the red category.
    (2) Industries that pollute moderately have been put in the orange category.
    (3) Industries with low pollution load have been placed in the green category.
    (4) Industries that operate without causing any pollution have been categorised as white.

    Classification of Industries :

    (A) 60 industries, including sugar, thermal power plants, paints and others, which have a pollution index score of 60 and above, will be in the red category.
    (B) 83 industries like coal washeries and automobile servicing which have scores ranging between 41-59 will be in the orange category.
    (C) Industries like aluminium utensil manufacturing and dal and flour mills, which have a pollution index score of between 21 and 40, have been kept in the green category.
    (D) 36 industries like air coolers and cotton and woollen hosiery, which have a pollution index score of upto 20, have been kept in the white category.

    Advantages of the new system

    The existing system was creating problems because it did not reflect the actual pollution caused by the various units but the new system categorises Industries based on their pollution load.

    White industries, which are practically non-polluting, will not require Environmental Clearance (EC) and Consent. That will help them get funds from lending institutions. 

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  • Capital Local Area Bank becomes India's first small bank to start operations 

     

    Capital Local Area Bank becomes India's first small bank to start operations Jalandhar-based Capital Local Area Bank (CLAB), has emerged as the first entity to have received the Reserve Bank of India's licence to start operations as a small finance bank.

    CLAB ltd, which claims to be the largest local bank in the country, in five districts of Punjab and three more would be opened by March 31.

    The bank plans to have 216 branches and total business of Rs 11,800 crore in the next five years. During the first five years as a small finance bank, it will focus on northern region. From day one, it will keep all its branches open for all seven days a week. 

    Background

    In September 2015, RBI has granted in principle approval to 10 entities including CLAB ltd to operate as small finance banks. As a small finance bank, CLAB ltd, will provide basic banking services to small farmers and micro industries. The in-principle approval granted by RBI will be valid for a period of 18 months.

    10 entities that  have been granted the licence by RBI : The name of the applicants that have been granted the licence include-  Au Financiers, Capital Local Area Bank, Disha Microfin, Equitas Holdings, ESAF Microfinance and Investments, Janalakshmi Financial Services, RGVN (North East) Microfinance, Suryoday Micro Finance, Ujjivan Financial Services and Utkarsh Micro Finance.

    About Small Finance Bank :

    Small Finance Bank will undertake basic banking activities of accepting deposits and lending to unserved and under-served sections.  It will mainly target small business units, marginal farmers and unorganised sector entities through high technology-low cost operations. The maximum loan size and investment limit exposure to single and group obligators cannot be more than 10 per cent and 15 per cent of its capital funds.

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  • Indian scientists develop Herbal drug to treat dengue

     

    Indian scientists develop Herbal drug to treat dengueIndian scientists have developed, a herbal medicine against Dengue, which accounts for 50 per cent of the global population estimated to be at risk from the disease. The drug was developed using alcoholic extract of Cissampelos pariera Linn (Cipa extract) derived from velvetleaf, a species of flowering plant. 

    The project was undertaken jointly by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and Ranbaxy Research Laboratory, and employed traditional Indian medicine system Ayurveda. 

    Clinical results : The drug proved to be potent inhibitor of all four Dengue Virus (DENVs). The preliminary evaluation of the clinical relevance of Cipa extract showed it had no adverse impact on platelet count and RBC viability. It also showed no evidence of toxicity in Wistar rats, when administered doses as high as two grams/kilogram body weight for up to a week.

    Scientists are now gearing for the next step, which is to hold clinical trials and toxicity studies of the drug after approval from Union Ministry of Ayush and Drug Controller of India (DCI) for commercial production.

    Dengue : Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease which poses a significant global public health risk. India represents 50 per cent of the global population estimated to be at risk of dengue.  Severe dengue can prove to be potentially fatal and cause very high virus load, reduction in platelet counts and haemorrhage.

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  • Four ‘extinct’ plant species rediscovered

     

    Four ‘extinct’ plant species rediscovered4 species of Impatiens (Kasi Thumba) plants that were believed to have gone extinct many decades ago were rediscovered from the Western Ghats recently.

    The rediscovered plants, Impatiens concinna, Impatiens sasidharanii, Impatiens neo-modesta , and Impatiens sasidharanii var hirsuta , were found to have great medicinal values. These plants, usually found 2,000 ft above sea level, are short-lived and will be seen only one quarter of a year.

    A team of researchers led by K.M. Prabhukumar and Indira Balachandran, taxonomist and director respectively of the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research, Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala made the rediscovery during explorations at Dhoni Hills of Palakkad and Nelliampathy.

    Facts to know :

     (1) Impatiens concinna, found 6,000 ft above sea level, was discovered first time in Kerala. It was described as critically endangered in an article published in the Current Science 

    (2) Impatiens neo-modesta was found from the peaks of Nelliampathy.The findings were published in the Italian journal Webbia: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Geography.

    (3) Impatiens sasidharanii var hirsuta  and Impatiens sasidharanii were found from Nelliampathy forests . They have been named after N. Sasidharan, former scientist of the Kerala Forest Research Institute.

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  • SoftBank splits into two subsidiaries

     

    SoftBank splits into two subsidiariesJapanese investment bank SoftBank Group Corp has announced a major reorganisation of its businesses. It is palnning to separate its profitable domestic mobile business from its global business, which includes a majority stake in US mobile operator Sprint Corp.

    This move will shift SoftBank’s stakes in U.S. wireless carrier Sprint and Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group Holding to a new global operations management subsidiary. SoftBanks’ Japanese assets, including Yahoo Japan Corporation, will funnel into a separate domestic operations management company.

    The domestic operations subsidiary will be headed by current SoftBank Group director Ken Miyauchi, while the global operations subsidiary will be led by current SoftBank president and COO Nikesh Arora.

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  • ICICI Bank offers ‘work-from-home’ for women  

     

    ICICI Bank offers ‘work-from-home’ for womenIndia's largest Private Sector Lender, ICICI Bank has launched work-from-home programme to prevent women employees from dropping out of its workforce.

    For this the company has deployed face recognition technology that will facilitate women to work from home and provide access to the bank’s core banking servers. 

    Internal surveys shows that women leave the organisation  on account of childcare, maternity, or because of long commuting but this application will facilitate them to work from home.

    The platform is designed not only to recognise the employees face but it also logs her out if she leaves her seat or if another face appears within range of the camera. The technology has been developed by ICICI Bank in collaboration with IIT Delhi.

    Key facts :-

    Employees working from home can carry out multiple tasks such as checking documents for disbursement of loans, image-based verification of cheques for clearance, first-level scrutiny of documents for opening of accounts and processing of export-import documents for payments.

    Women managers with children up to 3 years of age as managerial responsibilities at times require them to travel outside city limits, for client interactions, business reviews or training will be provided with the cost of travel and stay of the child and a caregiver.

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  • Gender gap in jobs, wages remain unchanged in 20 years: ILO report

     

     

    Gender gap in jobs, wages remain unchanged in 20 years: ILO reportInternational Labour Organization has released a report titled - "Women at Work: Trends 2016" which says that gender equality in the workplace remains elusive.

    The report highlights that millions of women worldwide are not getting the same kind of quality, well-paying jobs as men. 

    New data in 178 countries present a gloomy picture of the current state of working women. The report shows the gender gap in employment, wages and social protection has changed little in 20 years.

    The report says that women are overrepresented in clerical service and sales work, which are among the lowest paying jobs.

    However significant progress has been made by women in education during the past two decades, but this has not translated into improvements at work.

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