Daily Current Affairs : 26th and 27th August

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. McrBC
  2. Rupay
  3. Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) 
  4. Gravitational Lensing
  5. Jalan Panel
  6. Mitra Crater
  7. Mars solar conjunction
  8. Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana
  9. Facts for Prelims : Blue Whale, Special Protection Group, Nationally Determined Commitments, Micro chips for dogs, Air quality monitoring Sensors

1 . McrBC

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

About the Findings

  • The determination of the McrBC’s structure has long-term implications in ‘phage therapy’ and could help combat drug-resistant infections in the future
  • Phages are groups of viruses that infect and kill bacterial cells and phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections.
  • It is said to be a major step towards understanding the working of the molecular scissors.
  • This is the first report of the high-resolution structure from India determined using electron cryomicroscopy, commonly known as cryo-EM.

How it works

  • Like the human immune system, which fights viruses, bacteria too have an elaborate defence system to combat phages (the viruses which infect bacterial cells).
  • These phages inject their DNA into the bacterial cell, wherein they multiply and duplicate the virus that eventually bursts out of that cell to infect many more.
  • To prevent infection, bacteria have specialised ‘molecular scissors’ which specifically cut the foreign DNA, thus preventing their multiplication in bacterial cells
  • Molecular scissors not only cut the viral DNA, but also regulate the entry of other foreign DNA that might host an antibiotic resistance gene.
  • The McrBC’s unique feature is that it requires to be powered by an inbuilt motor that uses GTP (guanosine triphosphate) — an energy currency of the bacterial cell — as ‘fuel’ to cut the foreign DNA. 
  • If you have a drug-resistant strain in bacteria, it is often seen that this machinery is absent and they become resistant to antibiotics,” he said, remarking that the technological revolution in the field of cryo-EM had allowed the determination of the three-dimensional position of every atom in biomolecules such as the McrBC

2 . Rupay

Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the RuPay card in UAE

About RuPay

  • RuPay is India’s indigenous card scheme created by the National Payments Corporation of India.
  • It was conceived to fulfill RBI’s vision to offer a domestic, open-loop, multilateral system which will allow all Indian banks and financial institutions in India to participate in electronic payments.
  • It is made in India, for every Indian to take them towards a “less cash” society.
  • India has already launched the RuPay card in Singapore and Bhutan.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

  • NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, it is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment and Settlement Infrastructure in India.
  • Considering the utility nature of the objects of NPCI, it has been incorporated as a “Not for Profit Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to entire banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems. The Company is focused on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through the use of technology for achieving greater efficiency in operations and widening the reach of payment systems.
  • NPCI’s ten core promoter banks are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank N. A. and HSBC. In 2016 the shareholding was broad-based to 56 member banks to include more banks representing all sectors.


  • NPCI during its journey for last six years, has made a significant impact on the retail payment systems in the country.
  • With Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), India has become the leading country in the world in real time payments in retail sector.
  • National Financial Switch (NFS) and Cheque Truncation System (CTS) continues to be the flagship products of NPCI.
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) has been termed as the revolutionary products in the payment system.
  • Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) has also been launched in pilot mode. The other products in pipeline include RuPay Credit Card, National Common Mobility Card – Tap & Go and Electronic Toll Collection.

3 . Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) 

Context : Even as questions have been raised about the delays in data dissemination from various government agencies — the most recent data from the National Crime Records Bureau dates back to 2016 and accident statistics have not been updated since 2015 — a recent report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), shows that inconsistencies have crept into into the dissemination of fiscal datasets as well.

About IMF’s Standard for Data Dissemination

  • The IMF has taken steps to enhance member country transparency and openness, including setting voluntary standards for dissemination of economic and financial data.
  • The Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) was established in 1996 to guide members that have, or might seek, access to international capital markets in providing their economic and financial data to the public.
  • The General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) was established in 1997 for member countries with less developed statistical systems as a framework for evaluating their needs for data improvement and setting priorities. 
  • In 2012, the SDDS Plus was created as an upper tier of the IMF’s Data Standards Initiatives to help address data gaps identified during the global financial crisis.
  • In 2015 the enhanced GDDS (e-GDDS) replaced the GDDS. More than 97 percent of IMF member countries participate in the e-GDDS, SDDS, or SDDS Plus.

SDDS requirements

  • The SDDS is a global benchmark for disseminating macroeconomic statistics to the public.
  • SDDS subscription indicates that a country meets the test of “good statistical citizenship.” The SDDS Guide for Subscribers and Users contains details on commitments undertaken by a subscriber, and is available on the DSBB.
  • Countries that subscribe to the SDDS agree to follow good practices in four areas: the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data; public access to those data; data integrity; and data quality.

Subscribing countries commit to:

  • Disseminate the data required by the SDDS punctually and with the prescribed periodicity and timeliness on a national webpage, the National Summary Data Page (NSDP), which is hyperlinked to the DSBB.
  • Provide to the IMF an advance release calendar (ARC) containing release dates for the current month and at least the following three months for each prescribed category of data for posting on the DSBB.
  • Provide detailed information about their statistical practices, or metadata, for dissemination on the DSBB. The metadata follow the rigorous format of the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). The DQAF was developed by the IMF to assess the quality of countries’ economic and financial data.
  • Certify the accuracy of the metadata on an annual basis.
  • Use standardized electronic reporting procedures to monitor more effectively their observance of the SDDS is also a required undertaking for SDDS subscribers.

Monitoring SDDS observance

  • The IMF monitors SDDS observance and publishes annual observance reports.
  • The reports review the subscribing countries’ observance of their SDDS undertakings.
  • The reports also include a link to the data module of the Reports on Observance of Standards and Codes where relevant, and refer to IMF staff assessments of data quality in the most recent Article IV reports. Serious and persistent nonobservance of the SDDS are a cause for action.

About India’s Failure

  • According to the IMF’s “Annual Observance Report of the Special Data Dissemination Standard for 2018”, India failed to comply with multiple requirements prescribed in the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) — a practice mandatory for all IMF members. India’s non-compliance in multiple categories in 2018 and to an extent in 2017 breaks with an otherwise near perfect dissemination record.
  • The yearly observance report for each member country lists the compliances and deviations from the SDDS under each data category for that year. There are over 20 data categories which IMF considers for this report to capture a nation’s economic health including national accounts (GDP, GNI), production indices, employment, and central government operations.
  • The report lists three types of deviations from SDDS. The first deals with delays in data dissemination from the periodicity prescribed in the SDDS. The second occurs when member countries do not list a data category in their Advance Release Calendars (ARC) despite the category being mandated by the SDDS. The third deviation occurs when data is not disseminated at all for a particular period.
  • In 2018, in eight data categories, India delayed dissemination by varying degrees. Delay has exceeded 100 days in multiple instances.
  • In 2018, in at least nine data categories, India has not disseminated data.
  • In at least three data categories, India has not mentioned a prescribed entry in its advanced data release calendar 

4 . Gravitational Lensing

Context : Using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as a sort of time machine, researchers plan to investigate how new stars are born. For this, they will take the help of a natural phenomenon called “gravitational lensing”.Advertising

About Gravitational Lensing

  • 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, but in the same line of sight. In effect, these are natural, cosmic telescopes; they are called gravitational lenses.
  • These large celestial objects 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 lenses will be used to study how those galaxies are forming their stars, and how that star formation is distributed across the galaxies
  • The Milky Way today forms the equivalent of one Sun every year, but in the past, that rate was up to 100 times greater. NASA now plans to look billions of years into the past in order to understand how our Sun formed.

Targeting Extremely Magnified Panchromatic Lensed Arcs and Their Extended Star Formation, or TEMPLATES.

  • tudying four galaxies that appear much, much brighter than they actually are, because they’ve been highly magnified up to 50 times.
  • Main Goals
    • Measure how many new stars are forming, to determine how rapidly galaxies form stars
    • Map the star-formation rate in these galaxies
    • Compare the young and old stellar populations
    • Measure the conditions of the gas within these galaxies

5 .Revised Economic Capital Framework/ Jalan Panel

Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at its board meeting on Monday decided to transfer a whopping  ₹1.76 lakh crore to the Centre — including interim dividend of ₹28,000 crore paid in February — which is likely to address the precarious fiscal situation of the government to a great extent.

Issue in detail covered under June 13 Current Affairs

Jalan panel 

  • The 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,” the central bank said in a statement.


  • The panel recommended a clear distinction between the two components of economic capital – realized equity and revaluation balances.
  • It was recommended that realized equity could be used for meeting all risks/ losses as they were primarily built up from retained earnings, while 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 also recognised 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.
  • “This risk provisioning made primarily from retained earnings is cumulatively referred to as the Contingent Risk Buffer (CRB) and has been recommended to be maintained within a range of 6.5% to 5.5% of the RBI’s balance sheet
  • “This CRB comprising 5.5 to 4.5% for monetary and financial stability risks and 1.0% for credit and operational risks
  • 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. 

Details of the transfer

  • The RBI said the available realised equity stood at 6.8% of balance sheet, and there was excess of risk provisioning of ₹11,608 crore at the upper bound of CRB and ₹52,637 crore at the lower bound of CRB. 
  • “The Central Board decided to maintain the realized equity level at 5.5% of balance sheet and the resultant excess risk provisions of ₹52,637 crore were written back
  • 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.
  • The RBI said as financial resilience was within the desired range, the entire 2018-19 net income of ₹1.23 lakh crore has been transferred.

6 . Mitra Crater

Context : Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter or mother spacecraft has zeroed in on a crater on the moon 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 the orbiter.

About the News

  • The Mitra crater is on the edge of another crater.
  • The pictures were taken by the Terrain Mapping Camera-2 around 2. 15 p.m. on August 23. The orbiter was then around 4,300 km from the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation said in its update on Monday.
  • 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.
  • Prof. Mitra (1890-1963) also lends his name to the S. K. Mitra Centre for Research in Space Environment of the University of Calcutta.

Naming Lunar Craters

  • The first attempts at naming lunar craters date back to the 17th century, K B Shingareva and G A Burba write in their book The Lunar Nomenclature: The Reverse Side of the Moon, 1961-1973. Some used the names of prominent personalities — scientists, philosophers and even members of royalty — while others named the lunar features after comparable features on Earth.
  • The system of nomenclature evolved over the years and is now standardised.

Sisir Kumar Mitra

  • Considered to be the doyen of radio science in India, Mitra is known for his seminal work on the ionosphere, which plays a major role in long-distance radio communication.
  • The ionosphere, that extends from about 60 km to several thousand kilometres high in the atmosphere, plays a major role in long distance radio communications. The air in the ionosphere is ionized. The name `ionosphere’ was proposed by Robert Alexander Watson Watt, (1892-1973) a British engineer
  • Mitra introduced `wireless’ to the post-graduate course in physics at the Calcutta University. This marked the beginning of radio science teaching in India. He established a strong ionospheric research school at Calcutta. It was under Mitra’s leadership a full-fledged Department of Radio Physics and Electronics was created in the Calcutta University. This was the first teaching and research department in India in Radio Physics, which later became the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics.
  • India’s first entry into organized international scientific research was made possible by Mitra, when his laboratory participated in the second international polar year (IPY2-1932), for specific investigations on different aspects of the ionosphere. He established the first ionospheric field station at Haringhata, about 45 km north of Kolkata (then Calcutta) for ionospheric investigations in 1950. Mitra played a pioneering role in radio broadcasting in India.
  • He received the Presidential Award Padmabhushan in 1962.
  • He wrote the book “The Upper Atmosphere” & Active Nitrogen: A New Theory

7 . Mars solar conjunction.

Context : For more than a week, the daily chatter between Earth and Mars will go silent. On the surface of Mars are NASA’s Curiosity rover and InSight lander. Above Mars are several orbiters, including India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft (Mangalyaan), which has completed its official mission life but remains in orbit. Antennas on Earth and those on active spacecraft on or around Mars regularly exchange data. Now this will pause because of a phenomenon called Mars solar conjunction. For NASA’s spacecraft, this will happen between August 28 and September 7.

About Mars Solar Conjunction

  • During Mars solar conjunction, Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun.
  • The Sun expels hot, ionised gas from its corona, which extends far into space.
  • During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting commands and resulting in unexpected behaviour from those space explorers, NASA said in a statement.
  • When Mars disappears far enough behind the Sun’s corona that there is increased risk of radio interference, engineers hold off on sending commands. Solar conjunction occurs every two years.
  • This time, the hold on issuing commands — called a “command moratorium” — will run from August 28 to September 7. In 2015, the conjunction period for Mangalyaan had lasted for more than a month — from May 27 to July 1.


  • Besides Curiosity and Insight on the Mars surface, NASA has the Odyssey orbiter, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the MAVEN orbiter.
  • Some instruments aboard spacecraft will be inactive, especially cameras that generate large amounts of data.
  • However all of the Mars spacecraft “will continue their science; they’ll just have much simpler ‘to-do’ lists than they normally would carry out”.
  • All of this means that there will be a temporary pause in the stream of raw images available. Once conjunction is over, the spacecraft will beam the data they have collected. If any of the collected science data are corrupted, they can usually have that data retransmitted

8 . Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana


  • Government of India introduced in 1969, the ‘Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners Pension Scheme’ to honour the freedom fighters who had been incarcerated in the Cellular Jail at Port Blair.
  • In order to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Independence in 1972, a regular scheme for grant of freedom fighters’ pension was introduced. Thereafter, with effect from 1.8.1980, a liberalized scheme, the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme’ is being implemented.
  • From the financial year 2017-18 onwards, the nomenclature of the Scheme has been changed as ‘Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana’. Total 1,71,617 freedom fighters and their eligible dependents have been sanctioned the central samman pension so far.

About the Scheme

  • At present 37,356 freedom fighters and their eligible dependent pensioners are covered under this scheme which includes 12,657 freedom fighters and 23,127 dependent spouses and 1572 daughters.
  • The amount of pension was initially Rs.200/- per month and has been revised from time to time. With effect from 15.08.2016 the amount of pension for all categories of pensioners has been enhanced and the Dearness Relief system based on All India Consumer Price Index for Industrial workers hitherto applied to freedom fighter pensioners, had been discontinued and replaced by the Dearness Allowance system applicable to Central Government employees twice a year. The allowance for pensioners has been termed as “Dearness Relief”.
  • Various categories of Central freedom fighter pensioners is as follows:
    • Ex-Andaman prisoners/ spouses Political
    • Freedom fighters who suffered outside British India/spouses
    • Other Freedom Fighters/ spouses including INA
    • Dependent parents/eligible daughters (maximum 3 daughters at any point of time)
  • It is implemented by Ministry of Home Affairs

9 . Facts for Prelims

Blue Whale

  • The Blue Whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth.
  • Despite being so massive, this giant of the ocean feeds on some of the smallest marine life – tiny shrimp like animals called krill. A single adult blue whale can consume 36,000 kg of krill a day.
  • Blue whales have few predators but are known to fall victim to attacks by sharks and killer whales, and many are injured or die each year from impacts with large ships.
  • Intensive hunting in the 1900s by whalers seeking whale oil drove them to the brink of extinction. Hundreds of thousands of whales were killed.
  • The 1966 International Whaling Commission finally gave Blue Whales protection, although they have only recovered slightly since then.
  • Blue whales are currently classified as endangered on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List.

Special Protection Group

Nationally Determined Commitments

  • Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change every signatory country is supposed to declare and implement a climate action plan, called Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs).
  • Until now, countries have mostly announced their targets for 2025 or 2030. India’s declared targets, for example, are for 2030.
    • It has said it would bring down its emission intensity, or emission per unit of GDP, by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
    • It has further promised to ensure that at least 40 per cent of its electricity in 2030 would be generated from non-fossil sources, and to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes through forests.
    • Each of these actions, and many more for which specific targets have not been declared, would contribute in reducing India’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • All other signatories to the Paris Agreement have declared similar action plans.
  • NDCs have to be updated every five years. The first set of NDCs were declared in 2015 ahead of the climate change conference in Paris. Countries will have to update these next year.
  • The Paris Agreement asks all signatories to ensure that successive NDCs represent a progression from their current targets.
  • Countries have also been asked to evolve a common time-frame for their action plans. Successive NDCs, therefore, would all be five-year or ten-year action plans.

Micro chips for dogs

  • Microchipping is mandatory for dogs that are members of the Kennel Club of India (KCI) and the initiative of the Tirunelveli College has gained Chippiparai a status on a par with elite exotic dog breeds in the country.
  • Microchip with unique identification number will help establish the ownership
  • Chippiparai, the native breed of Southern Tamil Nadu, is an ace runner and hunter.

Air quality monitoring Sensors

  • The Union Environment Ministry has tasked the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with certifying air quality monitoring instruments.
  • This is in anticipation of a rising demand by States — against the backdrop of the National Clean Air Campaign — for low cost air quality monitoring instruments that can monitor levels of nitrous oxides, ozone and particulate matter.

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