17th Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM)’ (GS3: Indigenization of Technology)
Issue: Indigenously developed Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM), was successfully flight tested for the second time from the Ahmednagar range. All the mission objectives were met. The two missions on 15 and 16 September 2018 have been successfully flight tested for different ranges including the maximum range capability.
The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), which has been under development by DRDO in partnership with Indian defense contractor VEM Technologies Ltd. since 2015. Fitted with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, the MPATGM reportedly boasts a top attack capability and has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers.
The Indian Army intends to equip all of its infantry and mechanized units with a third-generation ATGM by the early 2020s. DRDO has also been working on the third-generation ATGM Nag, fired from the Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA), an Indian license-produced variant of the Soviet-era BMP-II armored infantry fighting vehicle.
‘NovaSAR and S1-4’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C42) of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched two satellites — NovaSAR and S1-4– from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota
Both satellites were injected into the Sun Synchronous Orbit, about 17 minutes later, at an altitude of 583 km.
About the mission
The satellites belong to UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which has a contract with Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of ISRO. NovaSAR carries S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Automatic Identification Receiver payloads. The satellite applications include forestry mapping, land use and ice cover monitoring, flood and disaster monitoring and maritime missions. It will be operated from SSTL’s Spacecraft Operations Centre in Guildford, UK.
S1-4 is a high resolution earth observation satellite meant for surveying resources, environment monitoring, urban management and disaster monitoring.
About Sun synchronous orbit
A Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO, also called a helio-synchronous orbit) is a nearly polar orbit around a planet, in which the satellite passes over any given point of the planet’s surface at the same local mean solar time. More technically, it is an orbit arranged so that it precesses through one complete revolution each year, so it always maintains the same relationship with the Sun.
A Sun-synchronous orbit can place a satellite in constant sunlight, which allows the solar panels to work continually. This orbit is also useful for imaging, spy, and weather satellites, because every time that the satellite is overhead, the surface illumination angle on the planet underneath it will be nearly the same. This consistent lighting is a useful characteristic for satellites that image the Earth’s surface in visible or infrared wavelengths, such as weather and spy satellites; and for other remote-sensing satellites, such as those carrying ocean and atmospheric remote-sensing instruments that require sunlight.
‘Yudh Abhyas 2018’ (GS2: India-USA bilateral ties)
Issue: Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2018 a joint military exercise of Indian and US armies, commenced at Chaubattia, Uttarakhand
About the exercise
Battalion strength army personnel from USA and an equal number of Indian soldiers are taking part in the two-week long event that will see them hone their tactical and technical skills in countering insurgency and terrorism in a UN peace keeping scenario involving a combined deployment at a brigade level. State of the art equipment for surveillance and tracking, specialist weapons for close quarter battle with terrorists, explosive and improvised explosive device detectors, as well as the latest communication equipment are being fielded by both sides. Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations during division level command post exercise. The experts from both sides will also hold discussions to share each others’ experience in varied topics for mutual benefit.
‘Hubble space telescope’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Hubble Space Telescope has started a new mission to study six massive galaxy clusters that may help shed light on how the earliest galaxies evolved in the universe, NASA reported
While the Hubble Space Telescope has already detected some of the most distant galaxies known, their numbers are small, making it hard for astronomers to determine if they represent the universe at large. Initial observations from the Beyond Ultra-deep Frontier Fields And Legacy Observations (BUFFALO) survey show the galaxy cluster Abell 370 and a host of magnified, gravitationally lensed galaxies around it.
About the mission
BUFFALO’s main mission is to investigate how and when the most massive and luminous galaxies in the universe formed and how early galaxy formation is linked to dark matter assembly. This will allow astronomers to determine how rapidly galaxies formed in the first 800 million years after the Big Bang – paving the way for observations with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. BUFFALO will be able to detect the most distant galaxies approximately ten times more efficiently than its progenitor. It will also take advantage of other space telescopes which have already observed the regions around the clusters.
‘Aspirin’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: A landmark US-Australian research has found that a low dose of aspirin will not help older adults live longer or prevent their first heart attack, instead will increase the risk of bleeding in older people.
What the study says?
- The researchers found an increase in the number of cases of serious internal bleeding among the aspirin takers (3.8%)
- Doctors in India say the findings have come as an eye opener for Indian population where self prescription is common
- Aspirin is a double-edged sword; it is absolutely essential drug and a lifesaver in patients with established heart disease (or arterial blockages) and many patients with diabetes where risk is high. However in patients without these conditions, it should not be recommended, particularly in elderly where risk of bleeding is high. In India, self treatment with aspirin is often seen, and it should be strictly forbidden
‘River pollution’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: The number of polluted stretches of the country’s rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago, and the number of critically polluted stretches — where water quality indicators are the poorest — has gone up to 45 from 34, according to an assessment by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
About the assessment made by the CPCB
- While the ₹20,000 crore clean-up of the Ganga may be the most visible of the government’s efforts to tackle pollution, the CPCB says several of the river’s stretches — in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — are actually far less polluted than many rivers in Maharashtra, Assam and These three States account for 117 of the 351 polluted river stretches.
- The most significant stretches of pollution highlighted by the CPCB include the Mithi river — from Powai to Dharavi — with a BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) of 250 mg/l; the Godavari — from Someshwar to Rahed — with a BOD of 5.0-80 mg/l; the Sabarmati — Kheroj to Vautha — with a BOD of 4.0-147 mg/l; and the Hindon — Saharanpur to Ghaziabad — with a BOD of 48-120 mg/l.
The CPCB, since the 1990s, has a programme to monitor the quality of rivers primarily by measuring BOD, which is a proxy for organic pollution — the higher it is, the worse the river. The health of a river and the efficacy of water treatment measures by the States and municipal bodies are classified depending on BOD, with a BOD greater than or equal to 30 mg/l termed ‘priority 1,’ while that between 3.1-6 mg/l is ‘priority 5.’
What is BOD?
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD, also called Biological Oxygen Demand) is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period
Currently, the CPCB has 1822 monitoring stations on rivers and 473 on lakes/ponds/tanks.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Principal Functions of the CPCB, as spelt out in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, (i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and (ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.
Air Quality Monitoring is an important part of the air quality management. The National Air Monitoring Programme (NAMP) has been established with objectives to determine the present air quality status and trends and to control and regulate pollution from industries and other source to meet the air quality standards. It also provides background air quality data needed for industrial siting and towns planning.
Besides this, CPCB has an automatic monitoring station at ITO Intersection in New Delhi. At this station Resirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) are being monitored regularly. This information on Air Quality at ITO is updated every week.
Most of the rivers being fed by monsoon rains, which are limited to only three months of the year, run dry throughout the rest of the year often carrying wastewater discharges from industries or cities/towns endangering the quality of our scarce water resources. The parliament of India in its wisdom enacted the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 with a view to maintaining and restoring wholesomeness of our water bodies. One of the mandates of CPCB is to collect, collate and disseminate technical and statistical data relating to water pollution. Hence, Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) and Surveillance are of utmost importance.
‘Sewage treatment plants (STPs)’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: India’s ‘Diamond City’ offers a lesson for the country’s ever-expanding cities on water management and the optimal use of water, which is rapidly becoming a scarce resource.
Surat’s civic body is setting up state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants (STPs) to ensure every drop of waste water is treated and reused for purposes other than drinking.
About the mission
From March 2019, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) will be supplying 115 MLD (million litres per day) treated water to industries located within the city, in order to meet the entire industrial requirement of water through treated or recycled water.
The entire quantum of water will be treated from domestic sewerage water in tertiary treatment plants at the Bamroli and Dindoli areas for supplying to mainly textile factories in the Pandesara and Sachin industrial clusters housing over 400 dying and printing units.
Surat’s cost effective water management system is most advantageous for its contribution towards reducing the dependency on conventional resources of water, and thus optimal use of the resource.
India is facing its worst water shortage in history, according to a new report prepared by the Niti Aayog. Nearly 600 million Indians faced high to extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people die every year in the country because of inadequate access to safe water.
‘Chief Information Commission (CIC) and MPLADS’ (GS2: Statutory bodies)
Issue: Noting that ₹12,000 crore of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds remains unspent, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman to come out with a legal framework to ensure its transparency and hold parliamentarians and political parties accountable for their obligations under the scheme.
About MPLADS scheme
The MPLADS allots ₹5 crore per year to each Member of Parliament (MP) to be spent on projects of their choice in their constituency. The scheme is funded and administered through the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI). Projects are to be recommended to and implemented by the district-level administration.
The Central Information Commission has been constituted with effect from 12-10-2005 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
The Commission has certain powers and functions mentioned in sections 18, 19, 20 and 25 of the RTI Act, 2005.These broadly relate to adjudication in second appeal for giving information; direction for record keeping, suo-motu disclosures receiving and enquiring into a complaint on inability to file RTI etc; imposition of penalties and Monitoring and Reporting including preparation of an Annual Report. The decisions of the Commission are final and binding.
‘Fiscal Targets’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Funding of farm loan waivers, poll-related spending and other populist measures are likely to ensure that States are set to miss their fiscal consolidation targets budgeted at the beginning of the year, says a report.
Other observations made in the report
- The States’ fiscal deficit is primarily financed by issuing State development loans (SDLs). In April-August of FY19, gross issuance of SDL contracted by 3.4% to ₹1.32 trillion, primarily led by a sharp decline in issuance by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. However, excluding these three States, total SDL issuance by the remaining States has grown 14.7% in the first five months of FY19.
- Recently, the Reserve Bank of India had estimated that fiscal deficits of all the 29 States might decline to 2.6% of their gross State domestic product (GSDP) citing their FY19 Budget estimates, from 3.1% in FY18.
- The unforeseen expenditure on flood relief in states like Kerala and Karnataka, which may not be fully offset by higher grants or other revenue mobilization measures, can exert pressure on their fiscal balances