9th Feb, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)’ (GS3: Security)
Issue: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested the second indigenously developed ‘Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)’ propulsion based missile system from ITR, Chandipur, Odisha
Significance of the test
The success of SFDR propulsion technology is a significant milestone and will pave the way for development of long range air-to-air missiles in the country.
Missile was guided to high altitude to simulate aircraft release conditions and subsequently nozzle-less-booster was ignited. SFDR based missile accelerated to achieve ramjet Mach number successfully. The trajectory was tracked by telemetry and radar stations till touchdown. All the mission objectives were met
More about SFDR
The Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) project was started in May 2013 with the objective of developing state-of-the-art SFDR propulsion technology, which can operate at varying altitudes and speeds. The development and demonstration of SFDR propulsion system is a joint venture of DRDO and Russia.
India’s new surface-to-air missile is powered by Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) achieved a speed of Mach 3 during its first test flight in May 2018. The missile is viewed as the Indian version of the French Meteor
Ramjets require a rocket booster, or gun launch, to achieve a flight condition where thrust is greater than drag, which for missiles is approximately Mach 2, at which point the ramjet is capable of accelerating to higher speed. Since the ramjet propulsion system depends only on its forward motion at supersonic speed to compress intake air, the engine flow-path components have no moving parts. Consequently, it has inherent simplicity, reliability, light weight, and high-speed flight capability not possible with other air-breathing engines. These attributes make the ramjet a good choice for propelling medium-caliber cannon ammunition at supersonic speed.
‘Exercise Cutlass Express 2019’ (GS3: Security)
Issue: INS Trikand, a front-line warship of the Indian Navy, participated in a multinational training exercise ‘CUTLASS EXPRESS – 19’ held from 27 Jan to 06 Feb 19.
During the exercise, Naval, Coast Guard and Marine Police personnel from a number of East African countries were jointly trained by mentors from USA, India, and Netherlands, with support of international organisations like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and European Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR)
Objective of the exercise
The aim of the exercise was to improve law enforcement capacity, promote regional security and progress inter-operability between the armed forces of the participating nations for the purpose of interdicting illegal maritime activity in the Western Indian Ocean.
‘Migratory Species’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals (CMS), an environmental treaty under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme, is going to be hosted by India in the month of February
India has been a Party to the CMS since 1983. The Conference of Parties (COP) is the decision-making organ of this convention.
Migratory species are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc. The movement between habitats, can sometimes exceed thousands of miles/kilometres for some migratory birds and mammals. A migratory route can involve nesting and also requires the availability of habitats before and after each migration.
In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme. Also referred to as the Bonn Convention, it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
The convention complements and co-operates with a number of other international organizations, NGOs and partners in the media as well as in the corporate sector. Under this convention, migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I and Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.
India has also signed non legally binding MOU with CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016).
India is temporary home to several migratory animals and birds. The important among these include Amur Falcons, Bar headed Gheese, Black necked cranes, Marine turtles, Dugongs, Humpbacked Whales, etc. The Indian sub-continent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water bird species, including 29 globally threatened species. India has also launched the National Action Plan for conservation of migratory species under the Central Asian Flyway.
‘Asiatic Lion’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: A dedicated“Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” with a budgetary contribution of Rs 97.85 Cr from Central Government was launched.
With a view to strengthen the conservation initiatives, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) approved the project for three financial years FY 2018-19, FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21.
About Asiatic Lion
The Asiatic Lion, endemic to Gir landscape of Gujarat, is one of the 21 critically endangered species identified by the Ministry for taking up recovery programmes. Asiatic Lion, being listed in Schedule-I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, to be accorded the highest degree of protection.
About the project
This project has “Species Conservation over a large landscape” approach. Besides this approach, the Greater Gir Region(GGR) is being divided into various zones and management approach of “Zone Plans and Theme Plans” for the conservation of the Asiatic Lion. “Zone Plans” include the Core Zone, the Sanctuary Zone, the buffer Zone i.e. proposed for notification as the Eco-fragile/eco-sensitive Zone and the Greater Gir Region outside the Gir PA system for people’s participation and eco-development. Theme Plans include Habitat improvement, protection, wildlife health service, addressing to man-wild animal conflict issues, eco-development and voluntary relocation of PA resident people, research and monitoring, awareness generation, and ecotourism.This project would, therefore, be beneficial in further strengthening the conservation and protection of Asiatic Lion in the country.
Modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is proposed in the conservation, protection and development efforts of the Greater Gir Region. Additional ICT will include the following:
- GPS Based Tracking
- Surveillance Tracking
- Animal Tracking
- Vehicle Tracking
- Automated Sensor Grid
- Magnetic Sensors
- Movement Sensors
- Infra-red heat sensors
- Night vision capability enhancement
- GIS based real time monitoring, analysis and report generation.
In the recent past also, many initiatives for consolidating the conservation of Asiatic Lions have been taken. These include:
- The concept of Greater Gir has been adopted through which additional suitable habitat for lion is being developed for the habitation of lion.
- Besides Gir National Park & Sanctuary, Girnar, Pania and Mitiyala have been notified as sanctuaries to widen the protected area network and home of lion
- Habitat improvement measures have been undertaken.
- Additional water points are being established and the existing water points are being maintained.
- Protection mechanism has been strengthened with creation of Wildlife Crime Cell at state level and Task Force for the GGR (Greater Gir region).
- Open wells are being covered with parapet walls to prevent death of wild animals due to fall in the well.
- Intelligence gathering system has been strengthened.
‘Banking sector’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: To strengthen banks and foster a culture of clean and responsible banking, the Government has followed a comprehensive 4 R’s approach of recognition, resolution, recapitalization and reforms.
A number of measures have been taken in this regard. Some of them are listed below:
- Reforms, as per the PSB Reforms Agenda adopted by PSBs-
- increasing access to banking services from home and mobile through digital banking and enhanced customer ease,
- enabling easy accessibility to senior citizens and the differently-abled, through online update of pension life certificates, etc.
- instituting efficient practices for effective coordination in large consortium loans by restricting number of lenders in consortium and by adoption of standard operating procedures,
- strict segregation of pre- and post-sanction roles and responsibilities for enhanced accountability,
- ring-fencing of cash flows and use of technology and analytics for comprehensive diligence across data sources for prudent lending,
- institution of transparent and robust one-time settlement mechanism with automated escalation and monitoring,
- monitoring of loans above ₹250 crore through specialized agencies for effective vigil,
- establishment of stressed asset management verticals in banks for focused recovery and timely and effective management of stressed accounts,
- institution and implementation of a risk appetite framework for a structured approach to manage, measure and control risk and check aggressive and imprudent lending,
- monetization of non-core assets for strengthening capital base,
- enabling faster bill realization for MSMEs through discounting by banks on the Trade Receivables electronic Discounting System (TReDS),
- enabling proactive reach-out to borrowers and stepping-up cluster-based financing to MSMEs, and
- Developing human resources by rewarding top performers and enabling specialization through job-families, and role based learning for executives.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) has been enacted, which has provided for the taking over management of the affairs of the corporate debtor at the outset of the corporate insolvency resolution process.
- Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act has been amended to make it more effective, with provision for three months’ imprisonment in case the borrower does not provide asset details and for the lender to get possession of mortgaged property within 30 days.
- Under the PSB Reforms Agenda, PSBs have created Stressed Asset Management Verticals for stringent recovery, segregated pre- and post-sanction follow-up roles for clean and effective monitoring, initiated creation of online one-time settlement platforms, and committed to monitoring large-value accounts through specialized monitoring agencies.
‘Junk food’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: FSSAI has been leading ‘The Eat Right India’ movement since July, 2018 to improve public health in India and combat negative nutritional trends to fight lifestyle diseases.
About the movement
The strength of ‘The Eat Right Movement’ lies in its holistic and collaborative approach, with stakeholders on both the demand and supply-side joining to make a difference through some clearly identified steps. On the demand side, the Eat Right Movement focuses on empowering citizens to make the right food choices, on the supply side, it nudges food businesses to reformulate their products, provide better nutritional information to consumers and make investments in healthy food as responsible food businesses.
‘POSHAN Abhiyan’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The government recently updated the parliament on the progress achieved under the programme
Some of its major achievements are:
- Under POSHAN Abhiyaan, all districts of 36 States/UTs have been covered for roll-out.
- Procurement of Smartphones has been coordinated through Government e-Marketplace (GeM) Portal. States/UTs are at various stages of procurement of smartphones.
- The guidelines /manuals of POSHAN Abhiyaan covering all aspects of the ICDS-CAS software, implementation, etc. have been formalized, printed and distributed up to district level.
- A ‘Call Centre’ has been established for interventions and beneficiary feedback.
- A comprehensive Jan Andolan Guidelines have been prepared in consultation with all partners and released to States/UTs and has been implemented by the States/UTs.
- September, 2018 was celebrated as the Rashtriya Poshan Maah across the country. Approximately, 25 Crore people had participated and more than 20 lakh activities were conducted across the country during the Rashtriya Poshan Maah.
About the programme
POSHAN Abhiyaan is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022. The objective of POSHAN Abhiyaan to reduce stunting in identified Districts of India with the highest malnutrition burden by improving utilization of key Anganwadi Services and improving the quality of Anganwadi Services delivery. Its aim to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children
The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) is implementing POSHAN Abhiyaan in 315 Districts in first year, 235 Districts in second year and remaining districts will be covered in the third year.
There are a number of schemes directly/indirectly affecting the nutritional status of children (0-6 year’s age) and pregnant women and lactating mothers. In spite of these, level of malnutrition and related problems in the country is high. There is no dearth of schemes but lack of creating synergy and linking the schemes with each other to achieve common goal. POSHAN Abhiyaan through robust convergence mechanism and other components would strive to create the synergy.
Features of the programmes
- The POSHAN Abhiyaan, as an apex body, will monitor, supervise, fix targets and guide the nutrition related interventions across the Ministries.
- The proposal consists of
- mapping of various Schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition
- introducing a very robust convergence mechanism
- ICT based Real Time Monitoring system
- incentivizing States/UTs for meeting the targets
- incentivizing Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) for using IT based tools
- eliminating registers used by AWWs
- introducing measurement of height of children at the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)
- Social Audits
- Setting-up Nutrition Resource Centres, involving masses through Jan Andolan for their participation on nutrition through various activities, among others.
‘MarCO CubeSats’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA has lost touch with the first mini-spacecraft that ventured into deep space, according to the US space agency which said that it is unlikely the twin CubeSats will be heard from again.The MarCO CubeSats were launched last year to test if such low-cost technology can operate in deep space.
About the mission
The twins, nicknamed EVE and WALL-E after characters from a Pixar film, served as communications relays during the InSight’s Mars landing, beaming back data at each stage of its descent to the Martian surface in near-real time, along with InSight’s first image. WALL-E sent back stunning images of Mars as well, while EVE performed some simple radio science.
What is a Cubesat?
It is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm (4 in × 4 in × 4 in) cubic units. CubeSats are commonly put in orbit by deployers on the International Space Station, or launched as secondary payloads on a launch vehicle. Over 1000 CubeSats have been launched as of January 2019. Over 900 have been successfully deployed in orbit and over 80 have been destroyed in launch failuresFEB 9th eng
‘Hubble space telescope’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a new mysterious dark storm on Neptune and provided a fresh look at a long-lived storm circling around the North Polar Region on Uranus
The storm appeared during the planet’s southern summer, the fourth and latest mysterious dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993.
About Hubble space telescope
Hubble, the observatory, is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, the ultimate mountaintop. Above the distortion of the atmosphere, far far above rain clouds and light pollution, Hubble has an unobstructed view of the universe. Scientists have used Hubble to observe the most distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system.
Hubble’s launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope. Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same.
Some of the facts of Planet Neptune
- Like Earth, Neptune has a rocky core, but it has a much thicker atmosphere that prohibits the existence of life as we know it
- Neptune’s cloud cover has an especially vivid blue tint that is partly due to an as-yet-unidentified compound and the result of the absorption of red light by methane in the planets mostly hydrogen-helium atmosphere.
- Neptune reveal a blue planet, and it is often dubbed an ice giant, since it possesses a thick, slushy fluid mix of water, ammonia and methane ices under its atmosphere and is roughly 17 times Earth’s mass and nearly 58 times its volume
- Triton is the only spherical moon of Neptune — the planet’s other 13 moons are irregularly shaped. It is also unique in being the only large moon in the solar system to circle its planet in a direction opposite to its planet’s rotation — this “retrograde orbit” suggests that Triton may once have been a dwarf planet that Neptune captured rather than forming in place, according to NASA
‘African Swine fever’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: China has reported a new outbreak of African swine fever that is threatening the country’s vital pork industry.
About African swine fever
African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the causative agent of African swine fever (ASF). The virus causes a haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in pigs, but persistently infects its natural hosts, warthogs, bushpigs, and soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros, which likely act as a vector with no disease signs.
ASFV is the only known virus with a double-stranded DNA genome transmitted by arthropods. The virus causes a lethal haemorraghic disease in domestic pigs. Some isolates can cause death of animals as quickly as a week after infection. In all other species, the virus causes no obvious disease. ASFV is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and exists in the wild through a cycle of infection between ticks and wild pigs, bushpigs, and warthogs. The disease was first described after European settlers brought pigs into areas endemic with ASFV and, as such, is an example of an ‘emerging infectious disease‘.
‘US-North Korea summit’ (GS2: International news)
Issue: US President Donald Trump has announced that he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 and 28, for their second high-stakes summit meeting intended to eliminate a potential nuclear threat.
Significance of this meeting
A successful negotiation in the meeting would help the world to negate the threat of escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula. Importantly, it would enable North Korea to emerge from the crippling sanctions that have been imposed on them for several years now, hurting not just the economy but also its common citizens
‘Karnataka budget 2019’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The State Budget presented by H.D. Kumaraswamy on Friday focusses on schemes pertaining to agriculture and allied sectors with a total outlay of ₹46,853 crore, and the thrust is on addressing the burning issues of marketing and drought-proofing.
Highlights of the budget
- Other issues such as secondary and tertiary farming have also been touched upon. These have come amid prediction of a negative growth rate of 4.5% in the farm sector owing to drought.
- The budget has proposed to introduce Raitha Kanaja scheme that involves a revolving fund of ₹510 crore for providing minimum support price to 12 crops
- Similarly, for perishable produce such as onion, potato and tomato, whose price is volatile, the budget has introduced “price deficiency payment” scheme. Under this, a base price would be declared, and farmers would get the differential amount between the base price and their actual selling price if there is a drop in the price.
- Farmers have also been allowed to store their produce in government warehouses for free up to eight months at times of price crash.
- A new scheme called Raitha Siri has been introduced to encourage cultivation of minor millets by providing an incentive of ₹10,000 per hectare through direct transfer to bank accounts.
- With respect to drought-proofing, the budget has allocated ₹100 crore under Sujala-III watershed programme to take up drought-proof watershed activities on 9 lakh hectares spread over 100 drought-hit taluks through the convergence of programmes, including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme.
- In addition to these scheme, the flagship programmes of zero budget natural farming (₹40 crore), organic farming (₹35 crore), Israel model micro-irrigation system (₹145 crore) and Krishi Bhagya scheme of farm ponds (₹250 crore) have been continued.
- Other welfare schemes included supply of milk to anganwadi children for five days a week, distribution of mechanised two-wheeler vehicles (retrofitted) free of cost to 2,000 physically challenged people, and construction of hostels and kalyan mandirs for 30 Other Backward Classes communities.
- establishment of a Debt Relief Commission on the Kerala model; increase in monthly allowances for pregnant women belonging to below poverty line families from ₹1000 to ₹2,000, and increase in honorarium for anganwadi workers and helpers by ₹500 and ₹250, respectively.
- For freeing the rural economy from exploitation by moneylenders, he proposed a new ‘Gruhalakshmi Crop Loan Scheme’. Under the scheme, small and marginal farming families can avail crop loans at 3% interest by pledging jewellery.
- The government has allocated a total of ₹5,534.55 crore towards various projects aimed at improving Bengaluru’s infrastructure in the 2019-20 Budget
- The ‘Mathondu Cauvery’ scheme that envisages reducing Bengaluru’s dependence on Cauvery by harnessing the available water resources to flow into the Arkavati and Dakshina Pinakini rivers.