24th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘CubeSat’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s first CubeSats to travel into deep space have beamed back an image of Mars — visible as a tiny red dot against the dark sky. The twin, low-cost MarCO CubeSats, called MarCO-A and MarCO-B, which are sharing a ride with InSight Mars lander, were designed to find out if they could survive the journey to deep space.
What is a CubeSat?
A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10×10×10 cm cubic units. CubeSats have a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms per unit, and often use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for their electronics and structure. CubeSats are commonly put in orbit by deployers on the International Space Station, or launched as secondary payloads on a launch vehicle. Over 800 CubeSats have been launched as of April 2018
In May 2018, the two MarCO CubeSats became the first CubeSats to leave earth orbit, on their way to Mars alongside the InSight mission.
About InSight mission
InSight is a robotic lander designed to study the interior of the planet Mars. InSight‘s objective is to place a stationary lander equipped with a seismometer called SEIS produced by the French space agency CNES, and heat transfer a heat probe called HP3 produced by the German space agency DLR on the surface of Mars to study the planet’s early geological evolution. This could bring new understanding of the Solar System’s terrestrial planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars — and the Earth’s Moon.
‘Crackers’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Diwali celebrants nationwide will get two hours between 8pm and 10pm to burst crackers during the festival in November, the Supreme Court said, and made only the sale of “green and improved” fireworks mandatory at least in the national capital region (NCR) centred on New Delhi.
This could significantly reduce air pollution that peaks in the festive season but could dent the business of cracker manufacturers and distributors. Justice AK Sikri and justice Ashok Bhushan also imposed stringent restrictions on the chemical materials that are used in firecrackers
Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), the government body authorised to monitor explosives, will ensure that fireworks with permitted chemical content are produced, sold, purchased and used. It will have to check for banned elements such as lithium, arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury and barium. The court asked PESO to review the composition of fireworks and submit a report in two weeks
As a statutory authority, PESO is entrusted with the responsibilities under the Explosives Act, 1884; Petroleum Act, 1934; Inflammable Substances Act, 1952, Environment (Protection Act), 1986 and the following rules framed there under:-
Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), Nagpur is the nodal Organization to look after safety requirements in manufacture, storage, transport and use of explosives and petroleum. The Organization is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives with its headquarter located at Nagpur (Maharashtra). It has five Circle Offices located in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Faridabad and Agra and 18 Sub-circles Offices in the country. It has a Departmental Testing Station (DTS) at Gondkhairy, Nagpur where tests on explosives, safety fittings of road tanker, cylinders/ containers are carried out. Fireworks Research and Development Centre (FRDC) at Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu for testing and development of eco-friendly fireworks has been set up by PESO to ensure safety and security of public and property from fire and explosion.
It works under Ministry of Commerce and Industry
‘Public Wi-Fi hotspots’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The department of telecommunications (DoT) will launch a mobile app on Thursday to enable single-click on-boarding of a user through one-time login and authentication to seamlessly access any public WiFi hotspot in the country.
Significance of this app
The government believes the app, which will be launched at the India Mobile Congress, will offer users cheaper and faster internet compared to mobile data and also boost the proliferation of public Wi-Fi hotspots in the country in line with the objectives of the national digital communications policy approved by the Union cabinet
This would also enable offloading of mobile data traffic on to Wi-Fi networks, thus easing network congestion in high density areas, potentially bringing down call drops.
The government, in the national digital communications policy, has targeted deployment of 5 million public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2020 and 10 million by 2022 through a National Broadband Mission, apart from implementing a “Fibre First Initiative” to take fibre to the home. At present, the country has less than 40,000 such hotspots.
These new public Wi-Fi hotspots would ride on BharatNet, earlier called the National Optical Fibre Network, which is the government’s plan to connect 250,000 gram panchayats with rural broadband. The government has already completed laying optical fibre across 100,000 gram panchayats in the first phase and aims to complete the second phase by March 2019 when it will connect an additional 150,000 gram panchayats with the help of private sector participation.
‘Indian internet services’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The internet services sector is estimated to grow to a $124 billion market by 2022, with the potential to create 12 million new jobs by 2022, according to a new study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
Other observations made in the study
- Currently, the internet services sector in India which includes e-tail, fintech, food tech, digital classifieds, digital advertisements, e-travel and ticketing, is valued at $33.8 billion and is expected to reach $76.4 billion by 2022
- The report suggests that the sector can reach $124 billion if certain critical factors are realized. These include supportive government policies, better infrastructure for widespread internet connectivity, developed distribution network enabling better reach and connectivity to customers in Tier II/III cities for e-commerce, and adoption of digital and advanced technologies across the ecosystem.
- New technologies like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are expected to shape the future of internet services but have been kept outside the ambit of this study because the real impact of these sectors is difficult to determine at present.
- Employment generation from the proliferation of Internet services will be at three levels; with the primary level referring to direct employment generation in fields that include product design and development and sales and marketing. Secondary employment generation will occur in the forms of self-employment generation for sellers, cab drivers, utility service providers and content creators who will be able to generate employment via online platforms. The third or tertiary level of employment generation will be by allied industries in the ecosystem providing on-ground field support to the internet service providers like third party warehouse and logistics handlers.
The internet sector is estimated to employ around 10 lakh employees currently and is estimated to create 12 million net jobs by 2022.
‘Bond yield’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The yield on 10-year government bond today fell to a nearly two-month low after traders cheered Reserve Bank of India’s announcement of open market operations and continued drop in international crude oil prices
Easing crude oil and softer consumer price inflation has reduced monetary policy tightening expectations. Fifth successive open market operations since end of September and expectations of further such purchase by RBI in order to address the widening liquidity deficit further supported sentiments.
What are Open Market Operations?
Open market operations (OMO) refer to the buying and selling of government securities in the open market in order to expand or contract the amount of money in the banking system. Securities’ purchases inject money into the banking system and stimulate growth, while sales of securities do the opposite and contract the economy.
‘Seoul peace prize 2018’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday was conferred with the Seoul Peace Prize 2018 “for his contribution to high economic growth in India and world through ‘Modinomics.’” Modi, who is the fourteenth recipient and the only Indian to bag the award, will receive a diploma, a plaque and honorarium cash prize at a mutually convenient time
About the prize
Established in 1990, the Seoul Peace Prize was an effort to crystallise the Korean people’s yearning for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of the world. It was initially established to commemorate the success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, Republic of Korea – an event in which 160 nations from across the world took part, creating harmony and friendship and a worldwide atmosphere of peace and reconciliation.
Previous winners of the award include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned international relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam. The prize has been awarded to those who have made their mark through contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and to world peace.
The committee includes over 1,300 nominators, including internationally renowned Korean and foreign figures in political, economic, social, cultural, athletic, academic and other fields. The Prize is given biennially and the nomination begins in November. The nominators should send back the forms after filling in the name of their candidates and their achievements three months before the advised date for the award giving ceremony. The final winner is selected through a vote by members of the committee.
‘Water crisis’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: In India, a country of 1.3 billion people, fully half the population lives in a water crisis. More than 20 cities—Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad among them—will gulp their entire aquifers dry within the next two years. This translates into a hundred million people living with zero groundwater.
The vital monsoon rains grow more erratic with changing climate. And demand for fresh water swells by 16 million new human beings a year.
Ancient conservation technique
The rain harvesting technology of India’s desert dwellers is ancient and complex. They look carefully at the broad roll of the land, noting gentle depressions called aagor—sky catchments. They channel the scarce rains down these barely perceptible slopes to ephemeral ponds called khadeen. These rain-fed reservoirs they have farmed for centuries, perhaps millennia, without irrigation, growing drought-resistant crops like millet.
‘Climate change and Migration’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Guatemala is consistently listed among the world’s 10 most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. Increasingly erratic climate patterns have produced year after year of failed harvests and dwindling work opportunities across the country, forcing more and more people to consider migration. India too is highly vulnerable to such forced migration due to climate change
During the past decade, an average of 24 million people each year were displaced by weather events around the world
India –climate change and migration
The World Bank recently released an important report on climate change-induced migration, titled ‘Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration’. It covers three major regions of the world comprising Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), South Asia (SA) and Latin America (LA), and projects that by 2050 climate change could potentially cause 143 million additional people to migrate internally. The estimates for individual regions include 86 million, 40 million and 17 million for SSA, SA and LA, respectively.
It is the rural poor with already limited means whose lives and livelihoods will be hardest hit. Social and gender relations can confer more disadvantage to women and children in particular, as often is the case in crises.
India has 270 million people who live below the poverty line of $1.90/day. A large majority of the country’s poor people live in rural areas who are most prone to climate-driven shocks due to their low adaptive capacity. Second, the significance of internal migration as a livelihood strategy is already on the rise. Per one 2009 estimate, nearly 100 million people in the country remain on the move for their livelihoods in any given year – a number endorsed by the Economic Survey 2016-17. Rising rural distress and urban-centric nature of economic growth means migration is increasingly from rural to urban areas. Climate change will further push more people to move to cities.
Women, children and people from disadvantaged caste groups may be left in strained environments that exacerbate their vulnerability.
India’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and leadership in the Global Solar Alliance show promising signs on climate action. On the inclusive development front, our response should consider the different vulnerabilities of those who move as well as the ones who stay, in both rural and urban areas.
Climate action and inclusive development policies at the rural and urban ends can not only mitigate the worst effects of the groundswell but also provide an opportunity to create more economically and culturally prosperous and resilient society.
‘Euro-VI’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that only Bharat Stage-VI norm compliant vehicles would be allowed to be sold 1 April, 2020 onwards.
A series of orders were passed by the court over the years to try and curb growing pollution in the National Capital Region centred on Delhi. Last year, the court banned the sale and registration of vehicles that are not compliant with Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) norms after 31 March 2017.
What is BS-VI norm?
Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) is an emission standard that will bring much-needed changes in the Indian automobile industry in terms of pollutant emissions. With this emission norm coming into effect, India will come at par with the US, European countries and other advanced automotive markets across the globe.
India is currently following BS IV norms that were adopted this year across the country.
Bharat Stage VI norms includes a wide list of technology modifications under the hood, the most significant being making OBD (On-board diagnostics) mandatory for all vehicles.
Advantages of BS VI over BS IV
BS VI is in lines with Euro VI norm already adopted in European countries. In fact, this new emission norm will also address one major drawback in the Euro VI norm that allows emission of higher PM (particulate matter) in diesel engines.
Enlisted here are some major benefits of Bharat Stage VI norms
- NOx emission will come down by approximately 25% for the petrol engine and 68% for the diesel engines.
- The PM emission will see a substantial decrease of 80% in diesel engines.
- OBD will become mandatory for every vehicle and it will help monitor the pollution caused by the vehicle in real time.
- RDE (Real Driving Emission) will be introduced for the first time that will measure the emission in real-world conditions and not just under test conditions.
- Bharat Stage VI norms will also change the way particulate matter is measured. It will now be measured by number standard instead of mass standard thereby, regulating the fine particulate matter as well.
The reason behind making OBD mandatory is to make sure that the emission control component work at its optimum efficiency at all times. OBD port will help to detect the malfunction with the help of the error codes sent by the malfunctioning component.