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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (8th May)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. Western Ghats forest cover vital for Tamil Nadu’s South-West monsoon rainfall

The dense vegetation in the Western Ghats determines the amount of rainfall that Tamil Nadu gets during the summer monsoon.

About the research

  1. The research was done by the IIT Bombay
  2. The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
  3. It has found that dense forests of the Western Ghats contribute as much as 40% of moisture to the southwest monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu during normal monsoon years
  4. The average contribution is 25-30%
  5. But during monsoon deficit years, the contribution increases to as high as 50%
  6. The study found the forests of Western Ghats contribute as much as 3 mm per day of rainfall during August and September over a “majority of locations” in Tamil Nadu

Other findings of the report

  1. The researchers found a significant drop in rainfall in the range of 1-2.5 mm per day when the vegetation cover was removed from the Western Ghats
  2. This translates to an average of 25% of the total monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu
  3. But only small parts of Kerala get affected by deforestation in Western Ghats

Image result for western ghats

Why does India need to protect the Western Ghats?

The Western Ghats are very important to peninsular India. They are home to the sources of major rivers like the Krishna and Godavari. Most of the plant and animal species found only in India are found in the Western Ghats. It has important horticultural and agricultural species and rich bio-diversity that helps in climate-proofing the region.

The Western Ghats: biodiversity hotspot:

It is not without reasons that Western Ghats is named one of the Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots. It supports the life of 7,402 species of flowering plants,1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insects species and 290 freshwater fish species.

And it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Western Ghats block southweat monsoon winds from reaching the Deccan Plateau and are consequently an area of high rainfall, particularly on their western side.

Geological studies have found the west coast broke away from Madagascar 100 million years ago and appeared as cliff with an elevation ranging at 3,300 feet. Anamudi, the highest peak here, is located in Kerala. Outside of the Himalayas, the mountain at an elevation of 2,695 is also the highest peak in India.

2. India gets $200 million loan for nutrition mission

Aim of the mission

  1. The mission aims at reaching 10 crore beneficiaries, mainly children upto the age of six years, pregnant women and lactating mothers and adolescent girls
  2. The programme will be implemented in three phases between 2017 and 2020 across all districts of the country
  3. The mission targets a 2% reduction in both under-nutrition and low birth weight per annum
  4. It also aims to bring down anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% per year until 2020
  5. The government will also strive to reduce the prevalence of stunting from the current level of 38.4% (as per the National Family Health Survey 4) to 25% by 2022

Image result for national nutrition mission

3. New guidelines for labelling food planned

  • Since the country has no provision for GM labelling in its regulatory mechanism presently, consumers are clueless whether packaged food items they buy have genetically engineered (GE) ingredients amid ‘unproven’ concerns in certain quarters about adverse affects such transgenic food can have on human health.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also suggests mandatory declaration by packaged food manufacturers about nutritional information such as calories, total fat, trans fat, sugar and salt per serve on the front of the pack.
  • All packaged food with at least 5% content from genetically engineered sources need to be labelled so.
  • Pitching for a colour code, the draft proposes that the high fat, sugar and salt will be coloured ‘red’ in case the value of energy from total sugar is more than 10% of the total energy provided by the 100 grams or 100 ml of the product. It has similar provisions for trans-fat and sodium content.
  • Draft says that the nutritional information may additionally be provided in the form of bar code. The colour coding will make it easier for consumers to know about the nutritional value of food products and help them make choices as per their requirements.
  • This is the first time that the Centre has laid down guidelines for labelling genetically modified food

Previous attempts

  • The government has been contemplating a system for labelling genetically modified foods for at least 2 years. Current laws, however, prohibit any GM food — unless cleared by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, a Union Environment Ministry body — from being sold in India.

4. Hot-money risks seen rising as India courts ‘bond tourists’

What is “hot money”?

A “Hot money” refers to funds that are controlled by investors who actively seek short-term returns. These investors scan the market for short-term, high interest rate investment opportunities.

Banks usually attract “hot money” by offering relatively short-term certificates of deposit that have above-average interest rates. As soon as the institution reduces interest rates or another institution offers higher rates, investors with “hot money” withdraw their funds and move them to another institution with higher rates.

The “hot money” concept is not reserved solely for banks. Investors can move their funds to different countries to take advantage of favorable interest rates.

“Hot money” can have economic and financial repercussions on countries and banks, however. When money is injected into a country, the exchange rate for the country gaining the money strengthens, while the exchange rate for the country losing the money weakens. If money is withdrawn on short notice, the banking institution will experience a shortage of funds.

Why in news?

  • The Reserve Bank of India lifted (RBI) a restriction limiting foreign investors to buying bonds with three years or more to maturity and also gave them access to short-term sovereign treasury bills.
  • The RBI’s lifting of the maturity restriction came after government bonds tanked when sovereign bond auctions failed to attract many buyers, followed by a spike in yields when surprisingly hawkish minutes of a monetary policy meeting raised fears of the RBI hiking interest rates.

What is the issue?

  • The new rules have stoked fears of an influx of bond tourists and the associated rapid-fire switching in and out of short-term debt by foreign traders.
  • Such volatile flows could make India’s financial markets more vulnerable at a time when the rupee has been the worst performer in the region, high oil prices are driving up the current account deficit, and interest rates could soon rise on heightened inflation risks, investors said.
  • It encourages more short-term inflows and therefore exposes India to more hot money flows and volatility in the long run. The RBI did not have an immediate response when asked to comment on the traders’ remarks.
  • The immediate reaction to the lifting of maturity curbs on overseas buyers was less than inspirational, with foreigners selling a net $240.92 million of bonds on May 2 – a day after the RBI’s announcement.

Hot Money Flows

  • In economics, hot money is the flow of funds (or capital) from one country to another in order to earn a short-term profit on interest rate differences and/or anticipated exchange rate These speculative capital flows are called ‘hot money’ because they can move very quickly in and out of markets, potentially leading to market instability

5. The problems with a DNA registry

Building such a database is not easy, does not always offer justice, and is an ethical landmine.

Leicester University geneticist Alec Jeffreys developed a technique called DNA fingerprinting in 1985. This technology, which has become known as DNA profiling, can be used to identify individuals. Modern-day DNA profiling, called STR analysis, is a very sensitive technique which only needs a few skin cells, a hair root or a tiny amount of blood or saliva. DNA profiling is especially useful for solving crimes but can also be used to confirm if people are related to each other, such as for paternity testing.

6. Rural income: looking beyond agriculture

China’s example shows the benefits of the rural workforce shifting from the farm to the non-farm sector.

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