Vardhan IAS Daily Current Affairs, 31st January, 2019

International Year of Periodic Table- UNESCO

UNESCO has launched the International Year Of The Periodic Table to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the organisation of the periodic table.

Important facts:

  1. Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev published the first periodic table in 1869.
  2. It organizes all chemical elements by the number of protons in a given atom and other properties.
  3. Elements in the same group share similar properties.
  4. It is a useful tool for people to derive relationships between the different properties of the elements. It can also help predict the properties of new elements that have yet to be discovered or created.

Modern Periodic Table

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NOTE: Prepare well specific characteristics of different elements. UPSC can ask such questions.

International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

  • IUPAC maintains the periodic table.
  • It is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations that represents chemists in individual countries. It is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU).
  • Headquarter– Zürich, Switzerland.
  • Established in 1919 as the successor of the International Congress of Applied Chemistry for the advancement of chemistry.

1001 Inventions: Journeys from Alchemy to Chemistry by UNESCO

  • It consists of educational material and science experiments to help young people improve their understanding of chemistry and its numerous uses.
  • The initiative will be brought to schools around the world during 2019.

Source: The Hindu

Corruption Perception Index 2018 – Transparency International

It is a composite index that draws from 12 surveys to rank nations around the globe. It also takes into account the expert opinions of public sector corruption.


The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.
It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

Ranking and facts important for prelims

  • The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people.
  • India’s ranking increased from 81st in 2017 to 78 in 2018.
  • The CPI score moved from 40 in 2017 to 41 in 2018.
  • Denmark is the world least corrupt country with a score of 88/100.
  • Denmark is followed by New Zealand and Finland.
  • Somalia has been ranked last.

Corruption and the crisis of democracy

Type of democracy —-> CPI scores

  1. Full democracies— — 75 and above.
  2. Flawed democracies—- 49;
  3. Hybrid regimes (elements of autocratic tendencies) –- 35
  4. Autocratic regimes—- 30

Generally, countries with high levels of corruption can be dangerous places for political opponents.

Source: The Hindu

Future of Rail Report- International Energy Agency (IEA)

It examines how the share of railways can be increased in global transport to reduce the energy use and environmental impacts associated with transport.

Important findings of the report:

  1. Rail is among the most energy efficient modes of transport for freight and passengers.
  2. The rail sector carries 8% of the world’s passengers and 7% of global freight transport, but it represents only 2% of total transport energy demand.
  3. Passenger rail is significantly more electrified than freight in almost all regions.
  4. In contrast, significant investments have been made in high-speed rail and metros. High-speed rail provides an important alternative to aviation while urban rail provides a solution to cities impacted by congestion and air pollution.

Indian Railways

  1. India’s railway system has played a fundamental role in the country’s development, transporting people and goods throughout its vast territory, integrating markets and connecting communities.
  2. Rail passenger traffic in India has increased by almost 200% since 2000 and freight traffic by 150%.
  3. The conventional rail system in India comprises a total route length of almost 68000 km. Metro systems exist in 10 Indian cities.
  4. India and Japan signed an agreement to develop a high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Ahmedabad and Mumbai in 2015.

International Energy Agency (IEA)

Established in 1974 as per OECD framework.

Headquarter: Paris, France

Membership- 30 countries. All members countries must be a member of OECD. But, all OECD countries are not a member of IEA.

Mission- To ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy to all 30 member countries. The key focus areas are energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.

Membership eligibility criterion:

  1. Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports.
  2. Demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%.
  3. Legislation and organisation to operate the Co-ordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis and all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request.

IEA mandate: To focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy:

  1. Energy security
  2. Economic development
  3. Environmental protection

Reports published by IEA:

  1. Global Energy & CO2 Status Report 2017
  2. World Energy Outlook
  3. World Energy Statistics 2017
  4. World Energy Balances 2017
  5. Energy Technology Perspectives

Source: PIB

Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development

The centre was opened by the Italian government in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

About the centre

  1. It would facilitate coordination among the G7 and African countries on common initiatives in Africa to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.
  2. The centre would contribute towards addressing the needs of Africa by providing a platform for G7 countries to steer their cooperation.
  3. It will provide a fast-track, demand-driven mechanism for African countries to access grant resources to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
  4. It would be hosted by UNDP which would utilise its extensive country office network and programmatic hubs, and global expertise and knowledge, to enable the African countries to access the resources available through it.

Source: Down To Earth

Effects of Global warming on ENSO- El Niño and La Nina
  • As per a study published in Nature Journal, every event of El Niño in the tropical Pacific causes loss of billions of dollars across the globe.
  • Extreme weather events related to El- Niño will increase in coming decades.
  • However, the data is not sufficient to correlate the tropical Pacific warming to global warming.

Way Forward

Need for a more robust model and better data collection to study Monsoon, drought and global warming and ENSO.

ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation)

  • It is an irregular periodic variation of wind and sea surface temperature that occurs over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • The warming phase of ENSO is called El Nino, while the cooling phase is known as La Nina.
  • ENSO affects the tropics and the subtropics.

El Nino, Normal Condition and La- Nina

  1. El-Nino- It is characterised by high air pressure in the Western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. The periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. El Niño means “The Little Boy”.
  2. Normal Condition- The strong trade winds travel from east to west across the tropical Pacific, pushing the warm surface waters towards the western Pacific.
  3. La-Nina- The cooling of surface ocean waters along the tropical west coast of South America. The name La Niña originates from Spanish, meaning “The little girl”.

Upwelling- In normal condition and La-Nina event, the cooler waters of Peruvian current rise up towards the surface in the eastern Pacific on the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. This promotes the fishing industry.

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EL- Niño and La-Nina

What causes El- Niño?

The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America. The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El- Niño condition.

Impact of El-Nino

  • It favours eastern Pacific hurricanes and tropical storms. Record and unusual rainfall in Peru, Chile and Ecuador.
  • El Nino reduces upwelling of cold water. Thus, less phytoplankton is available for fishes and affects the fishing industry.
  • It causes drought in southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.
  • Australia and Southeast Asia get hotter.
  • As per WHO report, it causes a rise in vector-borne diseases, including those spread by mosquitoes like Malaria in Central and South America, India.

Source: Down to Earth

Aber- The new digital currency

The central banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia have launched a common digital currency called ‘Aber’, which will be used in financial settlements between the two countries through Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers technologies.

Cow urine may be a source of global warming

The urine from the cow is a source of nitrous oxide emissions (N2O). N2O is a 300 times more powerful GHGs than CO2.