01, February 2017

1.India was not isolated before colliding with Eurasia: study

Source: The Hindu

Scientists may now have proof that there was a connection between the apparently cut off India and Europe and Asia around 54 million years ago.

India may not have been as isolated as previously thought while gradually drifting away from Africa and Madagascar towards the north before colliding with the Eurasian plate, a new study has found.

Studies:

  • Scientists assumed for a long time that the subcontinent was largely isolated during its long journey through the ocean and unique species of plants and animals were therefore able to develop on it. However, palaeontologists are now showing using tiny midges encased in amber that there must have been a connection between the apparently cut off India and Europe and Asia around 54 million years ago that enabled the creatures to move around.
  • India harbours many unique species of flora and fauna that only occur in this form on the subcontinent. The prerequisite for such a unique development of species is that no exchange takes place with other regions.

Thought to be continental drift

  • For a long time, scientists assumed that India was isolated in this way due to continental drift.
  • The super-continent Gondwana, which included South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Madagascar and India, broke up over the course of geological history. What is now India also began moving towards the north east around 130 million years ago.
  • It was common belief among researchers that, before it collided with the Eurasian plate, India was largely isolated for at least 30 million years during its migration.
  • However, according to new findings, the Indian subcontinent may not have been as isolated on its journey.

Certain midges lend credence

  • Certain midges that occurred in India at this time display great similarity to examples of a similar age from Europe and Asia.
  • These findings are a strong indicator that an exchange did occur between the supposedly isolated India, Europe and Asia.
  • Small midges, among other things, were encased in tree resin 54 million years ago and preserved as fossils.
  • Palaeontologists investigated a total of 38 biting midges encased in amber and compared them with examples of a similar age from Europe and China.

The Collision of India and Asia 

  • According to the Theory of Plate Tectonics, the Earth’s crust was initially a single, giant super-continent called Pangea. Its northern part was the Angara land and the southern part was the Gondwana land.
  • The convectional currents split the crust into a number of pieces, thus leading to the drifting of the Indo-Australian plate after being separated from the Gondwana land, towards north.
  • The northward drift resulted in the collision of the plate with the much larger Eurasian Plate. Due to this collision, the sedimentary rocks which were accumulated in the geosyncline known as the Tethys were folded to form the mountain system of western Asia and

2.What is a Megamaser?

Source: The Hindu

  • At core, they are cousins of lasers. Just as lasers are devices used to emit a beam of light by controlling the emission of photons from excited atoms, masers — a play on the word ‘laser’ — do the same in the microwave region. They can be made in labs or can also be found naturally in galaxies such as the Milky Way.
  • Earlier this week, the Hubble telescope found a ‘Megamaser’ that was around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way.
  • This megamaser galaxy, called IRAS 16399-0937, is located over 370 million light years from Earth.
  • It hosts a double nucleus, formed of two separate cores in the process of merging. The two components, named IRAS 16399N and IRAS 16399S for the northern and southern parts respectively, sit over 11,000 light years apart.
  • However, they are both buried deep within the same swirl of cosmic gas and dust and are interacting, giving the galaxy its peculiar structure.

3.What is interglaciation?

Source: The Hindu

Interglaciation is the term used by geologists to refer to the alternating periods of warming and cooling in the earth’s past.

  • The cooler times are called the “glacial period” during which ice shelves from the Arctic slowly creep southward and spread across the earth.
  • Times when the earth is covered in these large ice sheets are known as glacial periods (or ice ages).
  • When the ice sheets are not spread, it is called an interglacial period. The most recent glacial period occurred between about 120,000 and 11,500 years ago. Since then, the earth has been in an interglacial period called the Holocene.

4.C.V. Vishveshwara, the ‘black hole man of India’, is no more

Source: The Hindu

Professor C.V. Vishveshwara who did pioneering work on black holes, passed away in the night of January 16, in Bengaluru, after a period of illness. He was nearing 78 years.

  • In the 1970s, while at University of Maryland, he was among the first to study “black holes” even before they had been so named.
  • His calculations succeeded in giving a graphical form to the signal that would be emitted by two merging black holes – this was the waveform detected in 2015 by the LIGO collaboration, and contain the so-called “quasi normal modes” – a ringdown stage that sounds like a bell’s ringing sound that is fading out.

5.Operation Clean Money

Source: Indian Express

Efforts  to unearth unaccounted money, the income tax (I-T)

The Income Tax Department (ITD) launched Operation Clean Money (Swachh Dhan Abhiyan), an e-platform to analyse large cash deposits made during the demonetisation window (9 November to 30 December 2016).

Under it, e-verification of large cash has been done using data analytics for comparing the demonetisation data with information in ITD databases.

Key facts:

  • In the first batch of the operation,around 18 lakh persons have been identified in whose case, cash transactions do not appear to be in line with the tax payer’s profile.
  • It comprises account-holders whose deposits did not match their incomes, as per data with the IT department, will be alerted on their e-filing portals.
  • IT department has sent emails and phone text messages to these accountant holders to seek their explanation about the source of funds and a response within 10 days.
  • In absence of a response, they will receive a notice from the tax department or further action.
  • The verification will also be closed if the cash deposit is declared under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY).

6.Highlights of Economic Survey 2016-17

Source: Indian Express

The survey prepared by chief economic adviser in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian.

The survey projects the economy to grow in the range of 6.75% to 7.25% in fiscal year 2017-18 in the post-demonetisation year. It says that the adverse impact of demonetisation on GDP growth will be transitional.

Highlights:

  • Growth Forecast: Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2016-17 pegged at 6.5%, down from 7.6% in last fiscal 2015-16.
  • Economic growth to rebound to 6.75 to 7.5% in 2017-18.
  • Farm sector to grow at 4.1% in 2016-17, up from 1.2% in 2015-16.
  • Growth rate of industrial sector estimated to moderate to 5.2% in 2016-17 from 7.4% in 2015-16.
  • Service sector is estimated to grow at 8.9% in 2016-17 GST, other structural reforms should take the growth rate trend to 8-10%.
  • Taxation: Prescribes cut in individual Income Tax rates, real estate stamp duties.
  • IT net could be widened gradually by encompassing all high income earners.
  • Tax administration could be improved to reduce discretion and improve accountability.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): Fiscal gains from GST will take time to realise.
  • Fiscal Deficit: Implementation of muted tax receipts, wage hike to put pressure on fiscal deficit in 2017-18. For fiscal health of the economy fiscal prudence for both centre and states is needed.
  • Fiscal windfall from low oil prices to disappear in 2017-18.
  • Inflation: The average consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate declined to 4.9% in 2015-16 from 5.9% in 2014-15.
  • CPI-based core inflation remained sticky around 5% in the 2016-17. Oil prices, seen rising by one-sixth in 2017-18 over the previous fiscal 2016-17 prices which could dampen India’s economic growth.
  • Monetary Policy: monetary easing headroom may be capped due to sharp rise in prices in 2017-18.
  • Market interest rates seen lower in 2017-18 due to demonetisation.
  • Government Debt to GDP ratio: It was 68.5% in 2016, down from 69.1% in 2015.
  • Banking: Suggests setting up public sector asset rehabilitation agency (PSARA) to take charge of large bad loans in banks. With government backing, PSAR can overcome coordination and political issues on bad loans.
  • Demonetisation: The adverse impact of demonetisation on GDP growth will be transitional. It will affect growth rate by 0.25-0.5%, but to have long-term benefits It may affect supplies of certain agricultural products like sugar, milk, potatoes and onions. Remonetisation will ensure that the cash squeeze is eliminated by April 2017.
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI): Advocates the concept of UBI as an alternative to the various social welfare schemes in an effort to reduce poverty. It will be alternative to plethora of state subsidies for poverty alleviation. UBI would cost between 4 and 5% of GDP.

 



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