Indian Express Explained 13th-15th April 2020

1)Explained: What is pooled testing, recommended by the ICMR?

In a pooled testing algorithm, samples of multiple individuals are put together in a tube and screened through the PCR test.

In case the pooled test turns out to be positive, individual samples are tested, which is referred to as pool de-convolution.

If there’s no positive result, all individual samples in the pool are regarded as negative, resulting in substantial cost savings.

This method can be used in areas where the prevalence of COVID-19 is low, which means a positivity rate of less than two percent.

2)What was Apollo 13’s mission to the Moon, what went wrong?

NASA marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 crewed mission to the Moon – known as “a successful failure” as its crew were able to pull off a safe return despite the spacecraft enduring an explosion

Apollo 11 and 12 – the previous two missions – had landed on lunar maria– the dark patches on the near side of the Moon which provide comparatively easier landing abilities.

Apollo 13 was supposed to make a more challenging landing near the Fra Mauro, a crater which was formed as ejecta from the impact that formed the Imbrium Basin.

Conducting experiments at the Fra Mauro formation would have provided greater insights about the Moon and the Earth’s early geological history.

Apollo 13 had to install a seismometer that would measure lunar seismic activity, equipment that would measure protons and electrons of solar origin on the Moon, and measure debris accumulation, among other objectives.

The Apollo 13 mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on April 11, 1970, aboard the Saturn V SA-508 rocket. Its crew consisted of astronauts James Lovell Jr, Fred Haise Jr, and John Swigert Jr.

Two days into the mission, an explosion caused the oxygen tank in the service module to fail.

3)Explained: How a dollar swap line with US Fed can help in uncertain times

What is Swap Line :- A swap line is another term for a temporary reciprocal currency arrangement between central banks. That means they agree to keep a supply of their country’s currency available to trade to another central bank at the going exchange rate

India is working with the United States to secure a dollar swap line that would help in better management of its external account and provide extra cushion in the event of an abrupt outflow of funds, according to banking industry and government sources.

What are the benefits of a swap line?

While India is largely expected to tide over any challenge posed by continued outflows of funds from the markets, a swap line with the US Federal Reserve provides additional comfort to the forex markets.

Are India’s foreign exchange reserves enough?

In roughly a month, India’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by nearly $13 billion — from an all-time high of $487.23 billion on March 6 to $474.66 billion as on April 3, as per the latest data reported by the RBI.

Despite the slump in global crude oil prices and reduction in imports due to the pandemic outbreak, a sharp outflow of funds resulting from foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) looking for safer havens amidst the current global uncertainty, has pulled down India’s foreign exchange reserves.

How does a swap facility work?

In a swap arrangement, the US Fed provides dollars to a foreign central bank, which, at the same time, provides the equivalent funds in its currency to the Fed, based on the market exchange rate at the time of the transaction.

Does India have a swap line with any other country?

  • In 2019, India signed a $75 billion bilateral currency swap line agreement with Japan, which has the second largest dollar reserves after China.
  • RBI put in place a revised framework on currency swap arrangement for SAARC countries for 2019-22.

4)Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) in India:- 

Ethanol blending is the practice of blending petrol with ethanol. Many countries, including India, have adopted ethanol blending in petrol in order to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and also to reduce the import burden on account of crude petroleum from which petrol is produced.

It is estimated that a 5% blending (105 crore litres) can result in replacement of around 1.8 million Barrels of crude oil .

The renewable ethanol content, which is a by product of the sugar industry, is expected to result in a net reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC).

Ethanol itself burns cleaner and burns more completely than petrol it is blended into. In India, ethanol is mainly derived by sugarcane molasses, which is a by-product in the conversion of sugar cane juice to sugar.

The practice of blending ethanol started in India in 2001. Government of India mandated blending of 5% ethanol with petrol in 9 States and 4 Union Territories in the year 2003 and subsequently mandated 5% blending of ethanol with petrol on an all-India basis in November 2006 (in 20 States and 8 Union Territories except a few North East states and Jammu & Kashmir).

Ethanol blending first found mention in the Auto fuel policy of 2003.

5)Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI):-

Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) is a measure of change in retail prices of food products consumed by a defined population group in a given area with reference to a base year.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) started releasing Consumer Food Price Indices (CFPI) for three categories –rural, urban and combined – separately on an all India basis with effect from May, 2014.

Like Consumer Price Index (CPI), the CFPI is also calculated on a monthly basis and methodology remains the same as CPI. The

Base year presently used is 2012.

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