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ITheHindu Page 12] Is external debt a cause for worry? What is external debt? DExternal debt is the money that borrowers in a country owe to foreign lenders. OIndia's external debt was $513.4 billion at the end of December 2017, an increase of 88% since March 2017, Most of it was owed by private businesses which borrowed at attractive rates from foreign lenders. To be precise, 78.8% of the total external debt ($404.5 billion) was owed by non- governmental entities like private companies. OThe size of external commercial borrowings and foreign currency convertible bonds, which represents Indian companies' foreign borrowings, has risen from 99,490 crore at the end of December 2015 to 1,72,872 crore at the end of December 2017. OWhile external debt may be denominated in either the rupee or a foreign currency like the U.S. dollar, most of India's external debt is linked to the dollar. This means Indian borrowers will have to pay back their lenders by first converting their rupees into dollars. As of December 2017, about 48% of India's total external debt was denominated in dollars and 37.3% in rupees.
What are the risks? There are two major risks involved in foreign borrowings 1.One is that, like in the case of domestic borrowings, there could be unexpected changes in the interest rates charged on these loans, This can, for instance, cause widespread default when rates rise as borrowers may not be able to make higher interest payments, thus raising the risks of a systemic crisis. The raising of interest rates by the US. Federal Reserve has already caused borrowing rates to rise in various countries, including in India where bond yields have shot up sharply. o The yield on the 10-year government bond, for instance, has risen to about 8% from around 6.5% at the end of June last year.
2.Another major risk is unexpected changes in the exchange rates of currencies. o An unexpected fall in the value of the rupee, for instance, can cause severe difficulties for Indian companies that need to pay back dollar-denominated loans as they will now have to shell out more rupees than they had previously estimated to buy the necessary dollars o Lenders generally take possible fluctuations in the value of currencies into account o But such forecasts are not always perfect. Unexpected changes in exchange rates o Various emerging market currencies have seen a sharp fall in value this year against o The rupee, in particular, has fallen about 7% since the beginning of the year when determining their lending rates. could still impose surprise gains or losses on them the dollar. o The fall in the value of the emerging market currencies is due to increasing demand for dollars from investors, who wish to sell their assets in the emerging markets and invest them in the U.S. where yields have been rising quite rapidly.
What happens next? O The U.S. central bank, which has already raised its benchmark interest rate twice this year, is expected to raise rates two more times in the rest of 2018 O Further interest rate hikes could cause more outflow of capital from the emerging markets, thus causing unexpected changes in borrowing rates and the value of the rupee. Both government and non-government borrowers in India, who are exposed to foreign debt, could be in trouble in such a scenarido. O The foreign exchange reserves, held by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), were around $425 billion as on March 2018. o This is the firepower that the RBI can use to support the rupee and bail out o The RBI, which raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than o While such a step could help to stem the capital outflow from the country and borrowers who get into trouble. four years this month, may also decide to raise domestic interest rates further. support the rupee, it could lead to further uncertainty about borrowing rates in the domestic economy
(TheHindu Page 12] Enforcing a Life without plastic plastic ban in Maharashtra On Saturday, the MaharashtraCommercial establishments suffer government began enforcing alosses as they were forced to turn away ban on plastic, a decision it announced in March. DAY 1: IT'S NOT FANTASTI customers who did not have their own bags Restaurants, juice stalls and tea vendors stopped take-away services due to a lack of non-plastic packaging options On World Environment Day, June 5, India was the host about the ban and alternative options nation, with the theme for HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM this year being Beat plastic Plaste consituen CR The common man remains confused 3% of 9,400 metric tonnes of garbage collected Going green: A woman carrying groceries in a paper bag in Mumbai on Saturday.-viVEK BENDRE produces over 25,000 tonnes pollution.' of plastic Plastic ban kicks off in Mumbai, in Mumbail but penalties put off till Monday every day
What is the plan? DOn March 23, the government issued a notification banning the manufacture, use, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale, storage and import of plastic bags with and without handle. The ban also covers disposable products, made from plastic and thermocol (polystyrene), such as single-use disposable dishes, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowl, container, disposable dish/bowl used for packaging food in hotels, spoon, straw, non- woven polypropylene bags, cups/pouches to store liquid, packaging with plastic to wrap or store the products and packaging of food items and grain material The ban is not applicable to PET bottles, irrespective of capacity. OThese bottles, however, should have predefined buyback price ranging from R1 to 2, depending on the size, printed on them. Plastic used for packaging of medicines, compostable plastic bags or material used for plant nurseries, handling of solid waste, plastic bags not less than 50 micron thickness used for packaging of milk (with the specific purpose printed on it), plastic manufactured for export in SEZs and plastic to wrap the material at the manufacturing stage are excluded from the ban. The ban is applicable to manufacturers and consumers as well as the chain in between, which includes shops, hawkers vendors and offices.
What is the penalty? Urban and rural civic bodies, Collectors, forest officers, police authorities and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board officials have been empowered to implement the ban and take legal action The penalty for violating the ban starts from 75,000 (first offence), 10,000 (second time) and 25,000 (third time) with three months in jail. In case one fails to pay the minimum penalty, the civic body can file a prosecution complaint before the court, which will decide the amount to be paid. Why was this necessary? Environment experts have been blaming plastic for choking of nullahs in Mumbai and the flooding in parts of the city during monsoons. O Plastic bag manufacturers approached the Bombay High Court against the decision, but their appeal was turned down. O The State has 2,500 units making plastic bags, employing 56,000 people. o They owe nearly 11,000 crore to banks as of March 31. o The Clothing Manufacturers' Association of India has spoken out against the ban, saying the apparel trade employs 30 lakh people in the country and depends on polypropylene for packaging.
What is the alternative? OThe State is not directly providing alternatives to banned items and has relied on people for solutions. Urban local bodies, like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), have invited manufacturers of alternative products to showcase their wares at a three-day exhibition. What lies in store? OThe BMC has trained 250 inspectors for levying penalties. OTheir list is available on its website, along with that of its 37 collection centres where OWhile levying penalty, they will be registering the offender's Aadhaar number, PAN Olt has also started a dedicated helpline for door-to-door collection. people can dispose of plastic number or driver licence number As on June 21, the BMC has collected 145 tonnes of banned plastic from Mumbai. However, most of this was plastic segregated from regular waste and only a fraction is from the 24 dedicated bins for dumping plastic. This underlines the need for more awareness
[TheHindu Page 14] Do river dolphins hunt prey using many methods? Asia's river dolphins may be nearly blind, but they compensate by using many methods to catch prey. o Though chiefly known as echolocators, researchers now suggest that these dolphins could also be listening for surface-swimming fish and sensing electrical signals emitted by bottom-dwelling prey on the river-bed. o Eyes are of no use for river dolphins (genus Platanista) in the naturally murky waters of the Indus and Ganga. Instead, they have evolved to use echolocation to navigate and catch fish: the small clicks they produce underwater echo back at them, helping them identify a prey or obstacle on their path. o Despite increasing pressures on their habitat - from ships' underwater noise (which could affect dolphin echolocation) to dams that alter the river's flow dolphins still survive in many heavily human-used river stretches.
Echolocating Animals Bats Echolocation is Only Dolphins Whales Echolocation helps Whales to navigate where vision is extremely limited in range due found in Microchiropteran Dolphin's habitats have low visibility due to dirty water & Turbidity Echolocation help them for foraging bats Echolocation help them for navigation & foraging in total darkness to Absorption or Turbidity.
What are flexible microelectrodes? Microelectrodes can be used for direct measurement of electrical signals in the brain or heart, Microelectrode arrays have been around for a long time. o In their original form, they consist of hard materials such as silicon and are unusable in living cells. These applications require soft materials. o As existing methods make it difficult to affix electrodes on them, researchers in Munich, Germany, have managed to print electrodes directly on to several soft substrates such as gummy bear candies. o They have managed to etch a flexible microelectrode array, consisting of a large number of electrodes, which can detect voltage changes resulting from activity in neurons or muscle cells. o A key advantage of such microelectrodes is that as they are soft, they can fit better in tight spaces in the body and are less likely to trigger inflammation. o The researchers say that the technique could pave the way to creating new medical diagnostic tools.
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