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Note:  The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination


News Analysis: 31-01-2019

National News

General Studies-II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Sanitary pad vending machines reach Telangana govt. schools

  • Sanitary pad vending machines, which were earlier limited to corporate offices, has now reached government schools in Telangana, as the exercise of installing them has been taken up by the government.

  • The machines help schoolchildren buy sanitary pads without going to a vendor.

  • Even today, children feel shy when they buy sanitary pads. Girls hesitate to buy them from medical stores. The vending machines are meant to popularise the use of pads and also make them available at schools for children to access them without any hassle

  • In India, around 80% of adolescent girls still use cloth or absorbent material like ash during their menstrual cycle, said a report by the National Commission for Women in 2018.

  • The previous year, the commission had also sent its recommendations supporting installation of such machines, to Ministry of Human Resource Development.

  • The commission had highlighted that 23% of girls drop out of school owing to non-availability of sanitary products at schools. Apart from schools, the commission had also recommended installation of machines at colleges and universities.

  • With this initiative, Telangana could be one of the first States to opt for sanitary pad vending machines in government establishments

Source: The Hindu


General Studies-III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Gold rush

  • Tightening monetary policies in the West and supply factors led to the spurt in gold prices

  • Gold is shining once again. The price of gold in the Indian market reached its highest-ever level, hitting the ₹33,800 mark in Mumbai on Tuesday in the midst of increasing demand from buyers and lagging supply in the global market.

  • And it is not just the rupee that is witnessing a fall in value against gold.

  • A similar trend has been seen in the price of other major emerging market currencies as well when their worth is measured against the yellow metal.

  • In fact, many emerging market currencies have already hit, or are quite close to hitting, historic lows against gold.

  • Against the U.S. dollar, however, gold is still priced well below its all-time high of over $1,500 that was reached in 2012 even as it has shown some appreciation against that currency in the last few months.

  • The increase in the price of gold worldwide should be seen against the backdrop of rising uncertainties that threaten to derail the global economy.

  • Western central banks have been tightening their monetary policy stances for a while now, leading to increasing fears that this could put an end to the decade-long recovery since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve has been at the forefront of the current tightening cycle. The resulting flow of capital from emerging markets to the West has put further pressure on various emerging market currencies.

  • The rupee, for instance, has depreciated significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the last year alone. This probably explains the divergence in the performance of the dollar vis-à-vis other emerging market currencies against gold.

  • The U.S.-China trade war and the lowered rate of Chinese economic growth have added to fears of a global economic slowdown.

  • Furthermore, as stock markets around the world continue to trade sideways with increased volatility, investors seeking financial safety have turned to gold and boosted its price.

  • Many central banks have been trying to hoard gold to restore confidence in their currencies.

  • Apart from these short-term influences, there are probably other long-term secular factors at play as the price of gold looks to shoot up towards new highs.

  • The fall in price after 2012 led to a fall in capital spending by gold miners, which has meant that supply has failed to keep up with growing demand.

  • This is typical of all commodities that see years of oversupply that lead to a price slump followed by years of under-supply that leads to a jump in prices.

  • The depreciation in the value of national currencies against gold is also an indication of the increase in inflationary pressures across the globe.

  • What could put a premature end to gold’s rally is the easing of policy by global central banks. While this will restore investor confidence in the global economy, it carries with it risks linked to debt-fuelled growth.

Source: The Hindu


General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.


Study says cow urine may be adding to global warming

  • Cow urine — a minor fount of research in India for its medicinal benefits — may also contribute to global warming.

  • The urine from the ruminant is a source of nitrous oxide emissions (N2O), a gas that is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

  • Most times, when cow urine is used in degraded pastures, which are also seen in vast tracts of land in India, N2O emissions are tripled, says a study conducted in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, and published in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed Scientific Reports.

  • That cattle and livestock are a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas, and therefore a contributor to global warming, is well-known.

  • However, the role of cow urine is less understood.

  • For the study, researchers collected urine from cattle and spilled 500 millilitre samples on paired cattle fields classified as degraded or healthy, which was determined by vegetation coverage.

  • In six of the seven test sites, degraded pastures emitted significantly more N2O — sometimes up to three times as much. The study was conducted by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia.

  • Dung and urine are commonly mixed together for manure in Indian fields. Since, India also hosts the world’s largest livestock population, as well as significant tracts of degraded land, the findings may have a bearing on nitrogen emissions from Indian fields.

  • A 2012 satellite study by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that about 30% of India’s geographical area (or about 96.4 million hectares) is degraded.

  • Degraded grasslands emitted more N2O than healthy pastures because the vegetation in the latter took up some of the reactive nitrogen compounds and only the leftovers were emitted.

  • According to an expert in India, India had estimates for dung and urine production per cow or buffalo or other livestock animals as well as their overall estimates for their populations as per 2012 livestock census, but the exact contribution of cow urine to the total nitrous oxide emission from India are not estimated precisely.


Source: The Hindu


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