19th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
‘LIDAR’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) is being used by Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) to map the rooftop potential in the city. Bescom has commissioned the mapping in a bid to meet its target of generation of 1,000 MW of rooftop solar energy by 2022 from Bengaluru alone.
Some more information on LIDAR
LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LIDAR data over broad areas. Two types of LIDAR are topographic and bathymetric. Topographic LIDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric LIDAR uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.
Applications of LIDAR:
LIDAR has many applications in the field of archaeology including aiding in the planning of field campaigns, mapping features beneath forest canopy, and providing an overview of broad, continuous features that may be indistinguishable on the ground. LIDAR can also provide archaeologists with the ability to create high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of archaeological sites that can reveal micro-topography that are otherwise hidden by vegetation. LIDAR-derived products can be easily integrated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) for analysis and interpretation.
Atmospheric Studies –
NASA plans to test a laser-based sensor in space that will help scientists better understand global climate and how it might be changing. The instrument, called LITE (LIDAR In-Space Technology Experiment), will orbit the Earth while positioned inside the payload bay of Space Shuttle Discovery.
Although it is still beyond our reach to acquire precise and high-resolution seafloor depths from space, LIDAR bathymeters on fixed wing and rotary aircraft can penetrate the water column to collect seafloor data at depths of up to approximately 230 feet (70 meters). Bathymetric LIDAR uses a high powered laser to transmit electromagnetic energy, specifically in near-infrared and green wavelengths, from the aircraft platform through the water column and make a time difference measurement to calculate the seafloor depth
Contour Mapping –
LIDAR Contour Mapping is a rapid, cost-effective source of high-accuracy, high-density elevation data for many traditional topographic mapping applications. The technology allows large area topographic surveys to be completed significantly faster and at a reduced cost compared to traditional survey methods.
The first LIDARs were used for studies of atmospheric composition, structure, clouds, and aerosols. Initially based on ruby lasers, LIDARs for meteorological applications were constructed shortly after the invention of the laser and represent one of the first applications of laser technology.
In geology and seismology a combination of aircraft-based LIDAR and GPS have evolved into an important tool for detecting faults and measuring uplift. The output of the two technologies can produce extremely accurate elevation models for terrain that can even measure ground elevation through trees. Airborne LIDAR systems monitor glaciers and have the ability to detect subtle amounts of growth or decline.
Biology and conservation –
LIDAR has also found many applications in forestry. Canopy heights, biomass measurements, and leaf area can all be studied using airborne LIDAR systems.
Law Enforcement –
LIDAR devices have been developed that can pinpoint oncoming cars in traffic and determine their rate of speed with a great degree of accuracy.
Oceanic Studies –
LIDAR imaging has been used to analyze oil contamination in the Gulf of Mexico resulting from the 2010 BP oil rig disaster.
‘ITS World Congress’ (GS2: Global Groupings)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi through video-conference would inaugurate the IT World Congress being conducted in Hyderabad this year
Information: World Information Technology and Services Alliance
The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is a consortium of associations from the information and communications technology (ICT) industry around the world. The group claims that it represents over 90% of the world ICT market through its global membership, and has a goal of advancing the growth and development of the ICT industry. WITSA was founded in 1978 as the World Computing Services Industry Association, and participates in advocacy in international public policy that affects the “global information infrastructure”. It voices the concerns of the international IT industry in organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the G8.
WITSA represents IT industry associations in over 80 countries or economies. WITSA’s motto is “Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age”.
‘Endangered Indian Languages’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: According to a report of the Census Directorate, more than 40 languages or dialects in India are considered to be endangered and are believed to be heading towards extinction as only a few thousand people speak them. A list prepared by UNESCO has also mentioned about the 42 languages or dialects in India that are endangered and they may be heading towards extinction
Some of the endangered languages included in the list are:
The languages or dialects which are considered endangered, include 11 from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Lamongse, Luro, Muot, Onge, Pu, Sanenyo, Sentilese, Shompen and Takahanyilang), seven from Manipur (Aimol, Aka, Koiren, Lamgang, Langrong, Purum and Tarao) and four from Himachal Pradesh (Baghati, Handuri, Pangvali and Sirmaudi).
The other languages in the endangered category are Manda, Parji and Pengo (Odisha), Koraga and Kuruba (Karnataka), Gadaba and Naiki (AP), Kota and Toda (Tamil Nadu), Mra and Na (Arunachal Pradesh), Tai Nora and Tai Rong (Assam), Bangani (Uttarakhand), Birhor (Jharkhand), Nihali (Maharashtra), Ruga (Meghalaya) and Toto (West Bengal).
’Hyperloop One’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: Richard Branson (Owner of Virgin Group) plans to inaugurate a Hyperloop linking Mumbai and Pune that will cut down travel time to 25 minutes, or less.
What is Hyperloop?
It’s a revolutionary train service that envisions loading passengers and cargo into a pod that will accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube.
The pods will then quickly lift above the track using magnetic levitation and glide at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag. In fact, with speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, Hyperloop can connect far-flung Indian cities as if they were metro stops.
The system, boasting the capability to travel up to 1,000 km per hour, will also have the potential for the rapid movement of palletized freight and light cargo, creating a robust backbone for on-demand deliveries, supply chains, and next-generation logistics.
The Hyperloop could result in $55 billion (Rs 3.5 lakh crore) in socio-economic benefits over 30 years of operation. That apart, the 100% electric system could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 150,000 tons annually.
‘Digital Industrial Area’ (GS3: Indian Economy: growth and development)
Issue: Reliance Industries (RIL), along with global firms, is planning to invest more than ₹60,000 crore in in the next 10 years for establishing an integrated digital industrial area. This is expected to usher in a fourth industrial revolution in India by Mukesh Ambani, (Chairman of Reliance Industries)
What is Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The fourth industrial revolution is a convergence of disruptive technologies in the physical, digital and biological spheres. Some of the technologies included that can be harnessed in this venture include: artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, Internet of Things, next-generation virtual and augmented reality, life sciences, new materials and new sources of energy and other technologies of the future.
‘Crypto-assets’ (GS2: Statutory and Regulatory bodies)
Issue: In spite of the repeated warning by the government and even the RBI, the investment rate into crypto currency has not gone down. The government too has not outright declared Crypto-assets illegal in India. In such a scenario some believe that crypto-assets could be regulated in a fair manner to ensure safety of investment of various stakeholders
What is Crypto Currency?
A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of this security feature. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its most endearing allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
The first cryptocurrency to capture the public imagination was Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009 by an individual or group known under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. As of September 2015, there were over 14.6 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of $3.4 billion.
Cryptocurrency Benefits and Drawbacks
Cryptocurrencies make it easier to transfer funds between two parties in a transaction; these transfers are facilitated through the use of public and private keys for security purposes. These fund transfers are done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by most banks and financial institutions for wire transfers.
Central to the genius of Bitcoin is the block chain it uses to store an online ledger of all the transactions that have ever been conducted using bitcoins, providing a data structure for this ledger that is exposed to a limited threat from hackers and can be copied across all computers running Bitcoin software. Many experts see this block chain as having important uses in technologies, such as online voting and crowd-funding, and major financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase see potential in cryptocurrencies to lower transaction costs by making payment processing more efficient.
However, because cryptocurrencies are virtual and do not have a central repository, a digital cryptocurrency balance can be wiped out by a computer crash if a backup copy of the holdings does not exist. Since prices are based on supply and demand, the rate at which a cryptocurrency can be exchanged for another currency can fluctuate widely.
Cryptocurrencies are not immune to the threat of hacking. In Bitcoin’s short history, the company has been subject to over 40 thefts, including a few that exceeded $1 million in value. Still, many observers look at cryptocurrencies as hope that a currency can exist that preserves value, facilitates exchange, is more transportable than hard metals, and is outside the influence of central banks and governments.
‘Artificial Intelligence’ (GS3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life)
Issue: In countries such as India, AI adoption is driven by the evolution of the IT infrastructure. According to the IDC Cognitive User Adoption Survey (2017), an overwhelming majority of Indian organizations (nearly 70%) — have either adopted or have plans to leverage cognitive capabilities in the next 18 months. This includes a combination of pilot and enterprise-wide deployments. State Bank of India recently announced plans to leverage AI for its integrated platform, YONO (You Only Need One). This digital banking platform gives users access to banking as well as a host of lifestyle services through a single sign-on.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and reacts like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include:
- Speech recognition
- Problem solving
Knowledge engineering is a core part of AI research. Machines can often act and react like humans only if they have abundant information relating to the world. Artificial intelligence must have access to objects, categories, properties and relations between all of them to implement knowledge engineering. Initiating common sense, reasoning and problem-solving power in machines is a difficult and tedious approach.
Note: Aspirants need to know the level of AI deployment in India, what impact it will have on socio-economic aspects of Indian society. The challenges that might arise due to AI deployment in India etc from a mains perspective
Furthermore, candidates should remember certain facts such as SBI’s YONO initiative etc from prelims perspective
‘Roger Federer’ (Facts that could be asked for Prelims exam)
Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings by winning the Rotterdam Open here on Sunday for his 97th title. The 36-year-old, the oldest ATP No.1 in history, thrashed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in a one-sided final.
‘National Banana Festival 2018’ (Facts based question for prelims)
The Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh addressed at the National Banana Festival, 2018 held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
He highlighted the importance of banana plantation during his address to the audience
Importance of banana plantations for India
Banana and plantains major staple food crop for millions of people in tropical developing countries, have a history of over 4000 years, dating back to 2020 BC. Banana is native of India and is widely grown in tropical, sub-tropical, and coastal region of India. In the recent years, there is a growing recognition of the importance of banana and plantains as household food, nutritional security, as well as social security in many parts of the world.
India is the largest producer of banana in the world with 29.7 million tonnes from an area of 0.88 million hectares with a productivity of 37 MT/ha. Although India accounts for only 15.5per cent in area, its contribution in the world’s production is 25.58per cent. Thus, banana has emerged as one of the important fruit crops, which is easily available to common man. It is predicted that with ever-increasing demand, 60 million tonnes of banana will be needed to meet the domestic demand in 2050. It’s year round availability, affordability, taste, nutritional and medicinal value makes it the favorite fruit among every section of the society with good export potential.
‘National Health Protection Scheme’ (GS2: Issues related to development of social sectors relating to health)
Issue: NABH accredited hospitals may get more funds for offering medical treatment under the recently announced comprehensive health insurance scheme, says Niti Aayog
Hospitals certified by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) are supposed to provide quality care; Niti Aayog is considering helping them out financially as such care involves high costs.
The National Health Protection scheme is expected to provide secondary and tertiary care to over 10 crore households in India. This new scheme was announced in the latest budget