New Batch in English Medium starts From 25 June.      Mains Test 1 Physical Geography Added Click Here.      Mains Test 2 Indian Geography Uploaded.      Mains Test 3 Post Independence India & Modern India Uploaded.      Preliminary 2017 General Studies Test Series Schedule Phase-II ( Click Here).      Preliminary 2017 General Studies Test Series Schedule Phase-I ( Click Here).     

Subscribe to Stepup IAS

Get notifications on new test papers, magazine & notes instantly!!!
This subscription will give you free access to these material.



Successful Candidate

Stepup IAS Special

Facebook

test1

Important Links For Civil Services GS

Success Story of Civil Services Aspirants

NCERT for Civil Services Preparation

December 2016 Miscellaneous


Miscellaneous

Demonetisation: Cyber security body warns micro-ATMs against malware attacks

  • With the usage of micro-ATMs and point-of-sale counters witnessing a sharp surge post demonetisation, the country’s premier cyber security agency, CERT-In, has cautioned customers, bankers and traders against skimming and malware attacks on these systems and asked them to adopt high-end encryption to plug possible breaches.
  • The advisory states that as micro-ATMs work with minimal power and connect to central banking servers through a GPRS network, their security features need to be strong and updated to check attempts by hackers who stealthily plan to steal private customer and bank data which leads to loss of their hard earned money by way of hacking or electronic stealing.

What is CERT-In

  • The CERT-In, the government’s nodal agency to combat hacking, phishing attacks and to fortify security-related defences of the Indian Internet domain.
  • IT is the Government organisation under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

What are the possible threats

One of the possible threats is Skimming, it is the theft of classified credit/debit card data. Where “a thief can obtain the victim’s credit card number using a small electronic device near the card acceptance slot and store hundreds of victims’ credit card numbers,”

Apart from that a social engineering attack can be engineered at these facilities by gaining trust of the owner as the fraudster poses as a member of staff.

How to protect
“The way to minimise this risk is by encrypting the card data as soon as possible and keeping it encrypted to the maximum extent throughout its life within the system. Point to Point Encryption (P2PE) could be used to address the issue of encrypting data in memory,”.

What are micro ATMs
A micro ATM enables the un-banked rural population to access banking services in their villages or towns in a convenient manner and it offers facilities of deposit, withdrawal, funds transfer, balance enquiry and issuance of mini-statement.

Amazon unveils Launchpad programme in India to help startups sell globally 

  • After launching in major markets such as the US and the UK, American ecommerce giant Amazon unveiled its Launchpad programme in India in order to help Indian startups sell not just here but also in global markets. 
  • For a fee of Rs 5,000 a month, startups can get access to Amazon’s seller support services such as account management, marketing and warehouse management among others. 
  •  Amazon Launchpad will have a positive impact on the economy by further promoting Make in India, adding impetus to the current interest in Indian startups and also creating additional employment opportunities.
  •  Globally, Amazon Launchpad works with more than 100 venture capital firms, crowd-funding services, and accelerators. In India, it has roped in a few strategic partners such as NITI Aayog, government of Maharashtra, government of Telangana and TiE to help in identifying the startups 

Exercise Konkan 16
KONKAN 16, the 2016 edition of the annual bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, held at Mumbai and Goa. 

Background

  • Exercise KONKAN, named after the Western coastal region of India, was institutionalised in 2004. Since then, the exercise hosted in rotation by both the Navies, has grown in complexity, scale and intensity.
  • The exercise will be conducted in two phases at Mumbai and Goa. Both phases will involve sharing of best practices and lessons learnt from recent operations, especially in the field of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO).

Significance

  •  KONKAN 16 will be an important chapter in the maritime interactions under the aegis of KONKAN series as it will familiarise both forces with each other’s planning processes and further enhance synergy and inter-operability.
  • This cooperation between the two navies is a positive and tangible symbol of commitment in ensuring a positive climate for maritime security and economic development. 
  • The current edition would further strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and United Kingdom, and enhance our capability to work together to contribute towards maritime security in the global commons.

MoES(Ministry of Earth Science) launches Winter Fog Campaign in New Delhi 

  • To better understand the science of fog formation over New Delhi, the Ministry of Earth Sciences inaugurated the Winter Fog Campaign at the New Delhi Airport. 
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India has taken up a multi-institutional initiative during winter 2016-17 to conduct an intensive ground-based measurement campaign in Delhi to understand different physical and chemical features of fog and factors responsible for its genesis, intensity and duration. 
  • The campaign is being conducted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), with full cooperation and support of Airport Authority of India and GMR, IGIA.
  • The goal of the Winter Fog Experiment (WIFEX) is to develop methods for forecasting winter fog on various temporal and spatial scales, and help reduce its adverse impact on aviation, transportation and economy, and loss of human life due to accidents. 

Why it was launched?
The presence of heavy and extended period of fog in the northern regions of India is one of the major weather hazards, impacting aviation, road transportation, economy and public life in the world’s most densely populated region. Studies show that maximum period of fog occurrence over Northwest India is about 48 days (visibility < 1000m) per year, and occurs mostly during December-February time period. Significant socio-economic concern has been raised due to increase in frequency persistence and intensity of fog occurrence over the northern parts of the country. 

Disabled children miss out due to lack of support services:  India Social Development Report (SDR) 2016

What is India Social Development Report

  •  Report is published by Coucil for Social Development
  •  This year is ‘Disabilities Rights Perspectives’.
  • The report drew on data from a number of sources, including the census, the National Sample Survey (NSS), data-sets of the India Human Development Survey, and the National Family Health Survey, besides the new data from fresh empirical studies.

Major Highlights

  • About 45 per cent of all persons with disabilities (PWD) in India are illiterate.
  • While 38 per cent of all male PWDs were illiterate, the illiteracy rate was 55 per cent for female PWDs. Interestingly, even in Kerala, a State long associated with near-total literacy, 33.1 per cent of the PWDs were illiterate.
  • Movement disability accounted for the largest number of PWDs, followed by hearing disability and visual impairment. The report noted that the high incidence of polio in India may be responsible for the high proportion of movement disability.
  • Though ‘mental illness’ and ‘mental retardation’ constituted the lowest proportion among the PWDs, this may be a result of under-reporting “in part due to the stigmatising nature of psycho-social disabilities, coupled with poor diagnoses of medical conditions,” the report observed.
  •  As a proportion of the population, Sikkim, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep had the highest incidence of disability, while Tamil Nadu, Assam and Delhi had the lowest proportions of the PWDs.

FSSAI decides to ban use of newspapers for packing food

FSSAI asked commissioners of food safety of all states and Union territories to take necessary steps to restrict the use of newspapers for packing and storing of food items.

Why Ban

  •  The newspaper ink can contaminate food items leading to serious health concerns.
  • Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications, if they are exposed to food packed in such materials.
  • Printing ink, usually used for printing newspapers, may contain bioactive materials, harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives, preservatives, chemical contaminants and even pathogenic microorganisms that may pose potential risk to human health.
  • Newspapers and even paper or cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with metallic contaminants, mineral oils and harmful chemicals like phthalates which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.
  • This is the first time in recent years FSSAI is bringing a new rule relating to packaging of food items. So far, the regulator focused on setting standards for packaged food

Nuclear-capable Nirbhay cruise missile's test fails for the fourth time.
This was the subsonic missile’s fourth test since March 2013,all of which have more or less flopped to achieve test parameters.

The missile’s first test in March 2013 had completely failed, the second one was dubbed “ a partial success “ in October 2014.

About Nirbhay

  • Nirbhay is an all-weather, low-cost, long-range cruise missile capable of carrying conventional and nuclear war heads. The missile has a range of more than 1000 km, weighs about 1500 kg and has a length of 6 metres.The missile is powered by a solid rocket booster.
  • Nirbhay is able to pick out a target and attack it among multiple targets. The missile has a loitering capability, i.e., it can go round a target and perform several manoeuvres and then re-engage it.

Global Wage report 2016-17
In the Global Wage Report 2016-17 released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). 

Indian scenario

  •  India had among the worst levels of gender wage disparity — men earning more than women in similar jobs — with the gap exceeding 30 per cent.
  • In India, women formed 60 per cent of the lowest paid wage labour, but only 15 per cent of the highest wage-earners. Not only are women poorly represented in the top bracket of wage-earners, the gender pay gap at the bottom is also very wide in India.
  • The ILO threw light on high income inequality. In India, the top one per cent earned 33 times what the bottom 10 per cent did. The top 10 per cent also earned 43 per cent of all wages
  •  Since 2006, average wages rose by 60 per cent in India, while they more than doubled in China.

Global trends

  • Singapore had among the lowest, at 3 per cent.
  • Among major economies, only South Korea fared worse than India, with a gap of 37 per cent. 

Why this wage disparity

  •  The report noted that typically, women’s educational choices produced occupational segregation. For instance, since the majority of those who studied nursing were women, “this profession is over-represented among women”.
  • At the same time, care work is undervalued because it may be seen as a natural female attribute rather than a skill to be acquired. Thus, a higher representation of women in sectors where their work is undervalued results in a gender pay gap.
  • Strong labour market institutions and policies such as collective bargaining and minimum wages lowered the pay gap. 
  • Therefore as per report the gender pay gap is smallest (8 per cent) in the group of countries where the collective bargaining rate is at least 80 per cent, and widest in countries with weak collective bargaining and no or very low minimum wages.

2016 Jnanpith Award
Veteran Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh has been selected for 2016 Jnanpith Award - India's highest literary award.

Ghosh becomes the sixth Bengali author to win India's highest literary award after the likes of Mahasweta Devi, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Ashapurna Devi, Subhash Mukhopadhyay and Bishnu Dey.

About Jnanpith Award

  • The Jnanpith Award is an Indian literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their "outstanding contribution towards literature".
  • Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English, with no posthumous conferral.
  • The first recipient of the award was the Malayalam writer G. Sankara Kurup who received the award in 1965 for his collection of poems, Odakkuzhal.

Agni 5 Successfully Test Fired
Agni-5, India's longest range nuclear capable missile, was successfully test fired from the Kalam Island off Odisha coast today by the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO.

This was the first test of the Agni-5 missile after India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, a 35-nation group to check the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

Agni programme
The Agni missile  is a family of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by India, named after one of the five elements of nature. Agni Missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable surface to surface ballistic missile.

About Agni 5

  • Agni-5 has a range of over 5,000 km and can carry about a 1,000-kg warhead. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe. The solid propellant driven missile will be tested from a canister which gives it all-weather and any terrain mobile launch capability.
  • The surface-to-surface missile is a fire-and-forget system that cannot be easily detected as it follows a ballistic trajectory.

World’s most heat resistant material found
Scientists have identified materials that can withstand temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Celsius.

Researchers from Imperial College London in the UK discovered that the melting point of hafnium carbide is the highest ever recorded for a material.

How they are useful

  • Their ability to withstand extremely harsh environments means that refractory ceramics could be used as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.
  •  These materials may enable spacecraft to withstand the extreme heat generated from leaving and re-entering the atmosphere.

DRDO successfully tests Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon
The Defence and Research Development Organization (DRDO)  successfully flight tested the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW), from an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft.

About SAAW

  •  It is designed to be capable of engaging ground targets with high precision out to a range of 100 kilometres.
  • The SAAW is a lightweight high precision guided bomb designed to destroy ground targets, such as runways, bunkers, aircraft hangers and other reinforced structures.
  • It will allow the Indian Air Force to strike targets, such as enemy airfields, at a safe distance without putting pilots and aircraft at risk. It is also India's first fully indigenous anti-airfield weapon, being designed and developed wholly by DRDO 
  • It can be currently launched from SEPECAT Jaguar and Su-30MKI aircraft. There are plans to integrate the weapon with Dassault Rafale when it is inducted in the Indian Air Force. The Jaguar is capable of carrying six such weapons.

Sample Questions
Q1.Considers the following statement regarding Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW).
1.    SAAW is developed by ISRO, capable of engaging ground targets with high precision.
2.    It allows  the Indian Air Force to strike targets, such as enemy airfields, at a safe distance without putting pilots and aircraft at risk.

Choose the correct option
a)Only 1                           b)Only 2
c)Both                                d)None


Q2.Consider the following statement regarding Global Wage Report 2016-17.
1.    The report is published by World Bank and it is an annual process.
2.    2016 edition shows worst levels of gender wage disparity in India.
3.    Among major economies, only South Korea fared worse than India, with a gap of 37 per cent. 
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1                             b)Only 2,3
c)Only 1,3                           d)All

 


Answers:
Q1.b                   Q2.b