August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (27-08-19)

GRAVITATIONAL LENSING

Related Topics: Science & Technology, James Webb Telescope

News

NASA is planning to launch James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in 2021, which will use a natural phenomenon called “gravitational lensing” to carry out astronomical observations.

What is Gravitational Lensing?

  • It is an effect of Einstein’s theory of general relativity – simply put, mass bends light.
  • The phenomenon occurs when a huge amount of matter, such as a massive galaxy or cluster of galaxies, creates a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light from objects behind it.
  • In effect, these are natural, cosmic telescopes and are called gravitational lenses.

Significance

  • The large celestial objects which act as gravitational lenses will magnify the light from distant galaxies that are at or near the peak of star formation.
  • The effect allows researchers to study the details of early galaxies too far away to be seen otherwise with even the most powerful space telescopes.
  • Gravitational lensing is useful to cosmologists because it is directly sensitive to the amount and distribution of dark matter.

TEMPLATES

The NASA program aimed at using gravitational lensing via its James Webb telescope is called “Targeting Extremely Magnified Panchromatic Lensed Arcs and Their Extended Star Formation (TEMPLATES)”.

About James Webb Telescope

[Sources: The Indian Express, NASA]

 

RBI SURPLUS TRANSFER: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Related Topics: Fiscal Stimulus, Bimal Jalan Committee

News

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to transfer ₹1.76 lakh crore to the Centre — including interim dividend of ₹28,000 crore paid in February, 2019.
  • The ₹1.76 lakh crore includes the central bank’s 2018-19 surplus of ₹1.23 lakh crore and ₹52,637 crore of excess provisions identified as per the revised Economic Capital Framework (ECF) adopted at the Board meeting.
  • As financial resilience was within the desired range, RBI decided to transfer the entire 2018-19 net income of ₹1.23 lakh crore.

Bimal Jalan Committee

  • RBI had formed a committee chaired by former Governor Bimal Jalan to review its Economic Capital Framework and suggest the quantum of excess provision to be transferred to the government.
  • The committee was formed after a demand from the government for more money.
  • The RBI Board has accepted all the recommendations of the Jalan committee.
  • The committee’s recommendations were guided by the fact that the RBI forms the primary bulwark for monetary, financial and external stability.

Two components of Economic Capital

  • The committee recommended a clear distinction between the two components of economic capital – realized equity and revaluation balances.
  • It was recommended that

(i) Realized equity could be used for meeting all risks/ losses as they were primarily built up from retained earnings

(ii) Revaluation balances could be reckoned only as risk buffers against market risks as they represented unrealized valuation gains and hence were not distributable.

  • The committee recognized that RBI’s provisioning for monetary, financial and external stability risks is the country’s savings for a ‘rainy day’, (a monetary or financial stability crisis), which has been consciously maintained with the RBI in view of its role as the Monetary Authority and the Lender of Last Resort.
  • The ‘Surplus Distribution Policy’, as recommended by the committee, says only if realized equity is above its requirement, the entire net income will be transferable to the Government.
  • If it is below the lower bound of requirement, risk provisioning will be made to the extent necessary and only the residual net income (if any) will be transferred to the Government.

Mathematics behind RBI’s Rs 1.76 lakh crore Surplus Transfer

Where Rs 52,637 crore came from?

  • The ‘realized equity’ is the risk provisioning made primarily from retained earnings referred to as the Contingent Risk Buffer (CRB).
  • This is essentially the existing amount in the RBI’s Contingency Fund (CF).
  • The Jalan panel has recommended that the CF be maintained within a range of 6.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent of the RBI’s balance sheet.
  • This comprises 5 to 4.5% for monetary and financial stability risks and 1.0% for credit and operational risks.
  • The current CF outstanding stood at 8 per cent of the RBI’s balance sheet and hence, the excess from the pre-decided range of 5.5-6.5 per cent is written back.
  • Here, the panel decided to go with the lower threshold of 5.5 per cent and hence the excess Rs 52,637 crore has been written back (to be transferred to the Centre).

Where Rs 1,23,414 crore came from?

  • At the aggregate level, the committee suggests maintaining economic capital— realized equity and revaluation balances —at a range of 5 per cent to 20 per cent of balance sheet.
  • Since it stood at 23.3 per cent as of June 2019—within the desired range, the entire net income of the RBI of Rs 1,23,414 crore for the fiscal (without transferring to the CF) has been transferred to the Centre as surplus.

Significance

  • Central government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of gross domestic product for the current fiscal, revised downward from 3.4% pegged in the interim budget in February.
  • Over Rs 65,000 crore of additional non-tax revenues (than what was budgeted for FY20) on account of the RBI’s dividend, can make up for the shortfall in the Centre’s tax collections to a great extent.
  • The transfer of surplus from RBI will aid the government in meeting its fiscal deficit target.

Concerns

  • The Jalan panel has chosen to opt for a lower 5 per cent level for the CF (as against the upper end of 6.5 per cent).
  • This is the lowest level that the RBI has maintained thus far under the fund.
  • This lowers the RBI’s flexibility to manoeuvre in future.

Way Forward

  • The manner in which the funds are used will be critical.
  • The share of capital expenditure as a per cent of GDP has been falling in recent years.
  • In India, the bulk of government spending is mostly biased towards boosting consumption rather than investments.
  • This time, the Centre will need to put the RBI’s surplus funds to productive use that can have a sustainable multiplier impact on overall growth in the economy.

[Sources: The Hindu, Livemint, Hindu Business Line]

 

NOMENCLATURE OF LUNAR FEATURES

Related Topics: Science & Technology, Mitra Crater

News

  • ISRO released images of the lunar surface captured from the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft orbiting the Moon taken by the Terrain Mapping Camera-2.
  • Taken by the Terrain Mapping Camera-2 of Chandrayaan-2 from an altitude of about 4,375 km, the images show impact craters named after various scientists — (Arnold) Sommerfeld (Germany), (Daniel) Kirkwood (US), (John) Jackson (Scotland), (Ernst) Mach (Austria), (Sergei) Korolev (former USSR), (Sisir) Mitra (India) etc.

Nomenclature

According to a resolution by the International Astronomical Union in 1973,

  • Crater and crater-like formations are given the names of astronomers or eminent scientists, posthumously.
  • Mountains are given names corresponding to the geographical names of mountains of the Earth
  • Extensive dark surfaces are given names that correspond to the mental states of humans.

About Mitra Crater

  • It is named after 20th century’s acclaimed radio physicist Sisir Kumar Mitra.
  • Images of the crater are among the second set of pictures of the northern craters sent by Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter.
  • At 25 degrees Kelvin (minus 248 degrees Celsius), the northern polar region is believed to be one of the coldest spots in the solar system.
  • Mitra (1890-1963) also lends his name to the S. K. Mitra Centre for Research in Space Environment of the University of Calcutta.
[Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

CHIPPIPARAI DOGS

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Microchipping

Why in News

  • The Veterinary College and Research Institute, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu has embarked on creating a database of the Chippiparai by implanting microchips in 100 of these dogs.
  • Microchipping is mandatory for dogs that are members of the Kennel Club of India (KCI) .

Why implanting microchips?

  • Authorities have come across a lot of police complaints about missing dogs and claim over ownership.
  • Now the microchip with unique identification number will help establish the ownership.
  • Creating a database of blood for Indian breeds would go a long way in helping dogs that require blood.

About Chippiparai dogs

  • The Chippiparai breed of dogs belongs to the Tamil Nadu region of South India.
  • A few of them also reside in Kerala, around Periyar Lake.
  • Chippiparai dogs are hunters; they are sight hounds who depend on their sense of sight and speed to spot, chase and kill the prey.
  • It has gained distinction as a universal donor of canine blood.
[Source: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

‘COMMUNITY RADIO SAMMELAN’

7th Community Radio Sammelan will be held at Dr. BR Ambedkar Bhawan, New Delhi from 27th to 29th August, 2019. The theme of this year’s Sammelan is ‘Community Radio for SDGs’. It is organized by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. The ‘Sammelan’ will witness the representatives of community radio stations which will discuss experiences and possibilities of programming.

McrBC

A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune have determined the atomic structure of McrBC — a complex bacterial protein which helps prevent viral infections in a bacterial cell and functions as a molecular scissor. McrBC is a complex bacterial protein which helps prevent viral infections in a bacterial cell and functions as a molecular scissor.

COP14, UNCCD

India will host the Conference Of Parties, COP 14, of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from 2nd to 13th of September, 2019. The event will see participation of over 3000 representatives from over 200 countries which will include Ministers from around 100 countries.

SINGLE USE PLASTIC

At G7 Summit, Prime Minister highlighted India’s large scale efforts towards eliminating single-use plastic, conserving water, harnessing solar energy and protecting flora and fauna for a sustainable future. PM Modi is attending the Summit in Biarritz on special invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

MILITARY VETERANS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMME

Amazon India announced the launch of a Military Veterans Employment programme that will create hundreds of opportunities for military veterans and their spouses across Amazon India’s Fulfillment Centres, Sort Centres and Delivery Centres in the country. It is partnering with the Office of the Director General of Resettlement (DGR) and the Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) to create continued work opportunities for military families across the country.

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