26th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
‘Rustom-2 UAV’ (GS3: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology)
Issue: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out a test-flight of the unmanned aerial vehicle Rustom-2
This flight assumes significance because of the fact that this is the first flight in user configuration with a higher power engine.
Other Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme:
Rustom-2 belongs to a family of UAVs under development, besides Rustom-1 and Rustom-H. It is a medium-altitude long-endurance drone (MALE) and will fill a critical capability gap in the inventory of the armed forces.
It can fly up to an altitude of 22,000 feet and has an endurance of over 20 hours. It is capable of carrying payloads for electronic and signal intelligence missions. Currently, the three services employ hundreds of Israeli drones and have projected a requirement of hundreds of more UAVs, including armed variants, in the near future. The DRDO is also developing other drones in different categories.
DRDO was formed in 1958 from the amalgamation of the then already functioning Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO). DRDO was then a small organisation with 10 establishments or laboratories. Over the years, it has grown multi-directionally in terms of the variety of subject disciplines, number of laboratories, achievements and stature.
Today, DRDO is a network of more than 50 laboratories which are deeply engaged in developing defense technologies covering various disciplines, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, instrumentation, missiles, advanced computing and simulation, special materials, naval systems, life sciences, training, information systems and agriculture. Presently, the Organisation is backed by over 5000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel. Several major projects for the development of missiles, armaments, light combat aircrafts, radars, electronic warfare systems etc are on hand and significant achievements have already been made in several such technologies.
‘Development work in Western Ghats’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Road and railway projects cutting through eco-sensitive forests are unnecessary according to some environmentalists
Proposed projects along Western Ghats
1. A 2.16-km bridge connecting the pilgrimage spot of Sigandur to the mainland across the Sharavathi river. Along with the bridge, the approach road from Sagar will be widened.
2. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) — in 2016 — proposed a ₹2,100-crore, 168-km road connecting National Highway 66 (Mangaluru to Karwar) to National Highway 48 (Bengaluru-Mumbai). NH766C will see the diversion of more than 362 acres of prime forest land, including the fragile Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary. The widened Sigandur road will eventually meet this
Main concern about these projects:
Roads through Mookambika will end up bifurcating populations of lion-tailed macaques who will not be able to traverse easily across the road
The Lion-tailed Macaque is an Old World monkey that lives in India. It has a magnificent mane of hair around its face that makes it look like a lion. It gets its name from its tail, which has a tuft of fur at the end, just like a lion’s tail. Unfortunately, like the lion, it is also in danger of extinction.
The biggest threat facing the Lion-tailed Macaque is deforestation due to logging. Its habitat is rapidly being converted into farmland. Compared to other monkeys to which it is closely related, the Lion-tailed Macaque requires a wider area of forest to live. Additionally, logging leads to a scarcity of the fruit on which the monkeys feed, which is particularly devastating. Moreover, in some areas Lion-tailed Macaques are caught for use as pets and are hunted for food. There are now no more than 4,000 Lion-tailed Macaques left in existence.
It is endemic to Western Ghats of India. It is classified as endangered in IUCN Red data book
‘India-Canada relations’ (GS2: Bilateral Relationship)
Issue: In spite of the recent controversy surrounding the Prime Minister of Canada’s state visit to New Delhi much was achieved
Some of the agreements reached include:
1. Enhancement of awareness among Indians about Canada through creative public diplomacy is no small achievement.
2.The most important agreement signed during the visit is the “Framework for Cooperation between India and Canada on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism”. It commits the two nations to combating this phenomenon in all its “forms and manifestations”, and to facilitate “effective cooperation” on security, finance, justice, law enforcement and operations.
3.A close commonality of views emerged on several regional issues. The two Prime Ministers called for dismantling the infrastructure of support to terrorism “from across borders of Afghanistan”, a clear reference to Pakistan. The Maldives government was urged “to ensure early resumption of the political process.” On Myanmar, the need for voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees was stressed.
4.Canada and India showed a common perspective on freedom of navigation and over-flight “throughout the Indo-Pacific region” and respect for international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
5.Canada implicitly shared India’s reservations on China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative. The two sides agreed on their analysis of the situation in the Korean Peninsula. They considered peacekeeping as “an effective response to global challenges”
6.Mr. Trudeau extended strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
7. The decision to expand the scope of Ministerial Energy Dialogue is noteworthy. Besides, a new Canada-India Track 1.5 Dialogue on Innovation, Growth and Prosperity was launched. This aims to establish contours of convergence through sustained research and brainstorming among experts, officials and business people.
‘MILAN Navy Exercise’ (GS3: Various security forces and agencies and their mandates)
Issue: India will host navies from at least 16 countries for an eight-day mega naval exercise from March 6 with an aim to expand regional cooperation and combat unlawful activities in critical sea lanes.
The biennial exercise ‘Milan’ is being organized at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the backdrop of China’s growing military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region
The interactions during Milan encompass sharing of views and ideas on maritime good order and enhancing regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea
Australia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia.
‘Lithium-Ion Battery’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The shift towards lithium ion batteries from the older technology of lead acid batteries has allowed firms like Kaho India Private Limited to help the Centre achieve its rural electrification target even in areas beyond the reach of the grid.
Advantages of lithium-ion batteries over lead acid batteries
*Weight: Lithium-ion batteries are one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.
*Efficiency: Lithium-ion batteries are nearly 100% efficient in both charge and discharge while the lead batteries have the 70% efficiency.
*Discharge: Lithium-ion batteries are discharged 100% versus less than 80% for lead acid.
*Cycle Life: Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries cycle 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.
*Voltage: Lithium-ion batteries maintain their voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle. Lead acid voltage drops consistently throughout the discharge cycle.
*Cost: Despite the higher upfront cost of lithium-ion batteries, the true cost of ownership is far less than lead acid when considering life span and performance.
*Environmental Impact: Lithium-ion batteries are a much cleaner technology and are safer for environment.
India’s First World Heritage City: Ahmedabad (GS1: Indian Culture)
*The city of Ahmedabad is endowed with a rich architectural heritage that is vital to the local identity and continuity of the place. Along with the foremost heritage Indo-Islamic monuments of the 15th to 17th centuries, there are potential heritage precincts in the form of the Pols, the traditional residential clusters of the medieval period, which makes Ahmedabad exceptional. Combining these all, the historic walled city of Ahmedabad has it all to be the first city in India to be Inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage City list of 2017.
*The city of Ahmedabad was formerly known as Ashawal of Asha Bhil; Karnavati of Karanadev, Ahamdabad of Sultan Ahmed Shah, Rajnagar, the capital of Jainism, a politico-cultural city of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel and Amdavad of ‘Amdavadis’. The Britishers spelled it as Ahmedabad and it became internationally known as Ahmedabad. But in vernacular language, it became popular as Amdavad and all the Gujaratis know it as Amdavadis. The citizens are known as Amdavadis across the world.
*There are hundreds of temples, mosques and other pilgrim spots in the city. Among all, one spot glaringly draws our attention, which is none other than Sabarmati Ashram, offered to the nation by Gandhiji, his humble residence known as Hridaykunj. The period in which he lived here is known as the Gandhi-Era.
*The seeds of prosperity of the city were sown by Sheth Ranchhodlal Chhotalal by establishing the first textile mill in the city. As a result, the city became an industrial town and the machine-age began in Ahmedabad. Once known as Manchester of India, today Ahmedabad is famous as the biggest industrial capital of Gujarat.
‘Prime Minister Shram Awards’ (Facts that can be asked in prelims)
The Government of India has announced 194 ‘Prime Minister Shram Awards’ for the year 2011 to 2016 in four categories namely ‘Shram Ratna Award’, ‘Shram Bhushan Award’, ‘Shram Vir/Shram Veerangana’ and ‘Shram Shree/Shram Devi Awards’. for the workers in the Public Sector Undertakings, Departmental Undertakings of the Central and the State Governments and Private Sector units employing 500 or more workers in recognition of their distinguished performance, innovative ability, outstanding contribution in the field of productivity and exhibition of exceptional courage and presence of mind.
‘Mission Innovation’ (GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Union to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation. As part of the initiative, participating countries have committed to double Clean Energy Research and Development investments over five years.
The Sustainable Bio-fuel is one of the Seven Mission Innovation Challenges and India Co-leads this along with other countries Brazil, Canada and China.
Sustainable Biofuel development is a key challenge as well as an opportunity for Governments, researchers, investors and industry to work together. Sustainable biofuels have seen rapid R&D and performance breakthroughs, however still there are challenges as most exciting biofuels still remain at an early-commercial stage of development.
A conference on this subject was organized in New Delhi recently
‘Aruna Budda Reddy’ (Facts that could be asked in prelims)
The 24-year-old became India’s first-ever World Cup medalist picking the bronze at Hisense Arena in Melbourne, scoring a 13.649 on the Vault
‘High-speed in-flight data connectivity to mobile users’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator has joined a new global collaboration called Seamless Alliance to bring high-speed and uninterrupted in-flight data connectivity to mobile customers. Seamless Alliance has been founded by OneWeb, Airbus, Delta and Sprint along with Bharti Airtel.
The alliance will work towards leveraging satellite technology to offer data connectivity to mobile users even when they are onboard a flight
These members hope to “eliminate the immense costs and hurdles commonly associated with acquisition, installation, and operation of data access infrastructure”
‘Water distributed across lunar surface’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: An analysis of data from India’s first mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-1, and Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has found evidence that the moon’s water is distributed across the lunar surface and not confined to a particular region or type of terrain as stated earlier.
The findings could help researchers understand the origin of the moon’s water and how easy it would be to use as a resource. If the moon has enough water, and if it’s reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as drinking water or convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or oxygen to breathe
The results contradict some earlier studies, which had suggested that more water was detected at the moon’s polar latitudes and that the strength of the water signal waxes and wanes according to the lunar day
‘ISRO plans to build IGLOOS on moon’ (GS3: Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology)
Issue: The Indian Space Agency ISRO has already started to work on building a ‘lunar habitat’. The scientists have already designed five prototypes of the lunar habitat. ISRO has constantly been setting benchmarks with its achievements in recent years.
ISRO plans to build ‘igloos’ on the moon by sending robots and 3D printers to the earth’s natural satellite. The scientists, as per the report, have already designed five prototypes of the lunar habitat. This is line with the ISRO’s effort to build an outpost on the Moon just like what we have in Antarctica. The space agency has already made tremendous progress in its study of the lunar soil.
The undertaking achieves to help the astronauts spend more time on the moon. He added that such habitats will also be more effective in providing them safety. As per the report, the United States is already considering options to build a more permanent lunar habitat.
Simultaneously, ISRO is also planning to launch Chandrayan-2 Mission around April this year. This mission will see carrying an orbiter, a lander and a rover to the moon for the first time. Also, ISRO plans to complete the mission in a budget of Rs 800 crore
‘Asteroids’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists across the globe keep track of asteroids, planets, meteoroids, comets and other celestial bodies that come near Earth. Talking about asteroids, it can be of great value and rich in minerals and metals but, the size of asteroids can vary between small to humongous which puts Earth at risk of damage. Although no apparent damage is predicted to happen, the asteroid 2018 DU has been reported to come close to Earth. In fact, scientists have disclosed that it will come within the radius of 175,000 miles from the Earth on Feb 25
‘Mini-tumour created to fight cancer’ (GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: Scientists have successfully grown mini versions of patients’ tumours in a lab – and tested them against dozens of drugs to find the best possible treatment.
The approach found a drug that had a chance of shrinking a patient’s tumour in almost nine in 10 cases.