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Insights Daily Current Events, 15 May 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 15 May 2015


Goce gravity boost to geothermal hunt

The hunt for sources of geothermal energy is getting a boost from new observations of the Earth made from space. The data comes from Europe’s Goce satellite. It mapped Earths gravity field from 2009 to 2013 at high resolution.

How data collected from satellite will help?

  • Information about variations in gravity across the planet could help prospectors find promising locations where sub-surface heat can be exploited to generate electricity.
  • This keen sensing is expected to narrow the search for prime spots to put future power stations.
  • Goce’s maps are expected to shortcut some of the effort by pinpointing regions of the world with the best characteristics, such as where the continental crust is at its thinnest.
  • By processing Goce’s data in special ways, scientists can also tease out details of the different rock layers and structures within the Earth.

Although a large potential resource, geothermal currently accounts for less than 1% of the world’s electricity generation. Part of that comes down to the huge costs of exploration.

GOCE satellite:

The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) was the first of European Space Agency’s Living Planet Programme satellites intended to map in unprecedented detail the Earth’s gravity field.

  • The spacecraft’s primary instrumentation is a highly sensitive gravity gradiometer consisting of three pairs of accelerometers which measures gravitational gradients along three orthogonal axes.

Why was the Satellite launched?

  • To determine gravity-field anomalies with an accuracy of 10−5 m·s−2 (1 mGal). To increase resolution, the satellite flew in an unusually low orbit.
  • To determine the geoid with an accuracy of 1–2 cm.
  • To achieve the above at a spatial resolution better than 100 km.

The final gravity map and model of the geoid will provide users worldwide with well-defined data product that will lead to:

  • A better understanding of the physics of the Earth’s interior to gain new insights into the geodynamics associated with the lithosphere, mantle composition and rheology, uplift and subduction processes.
  • A better understanding of the ocean currents and heat transport.
  • A global height-reference system, which can serve as a reference surface for the study of topographic processes and sea-level change.
  • Better estimates of the thickness of polar ice-sheets and their movement.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.


Free speech is not an absolute right: SC

The Supreme Court recently held that freedom of speech had constitutional limitation attached to it and this right cannot be exercised to attribute obscene expletives to historically respected personality such as Mahatma Gandhi.

  • The Supreme Court has held that poetic licence does not mean having nationally revered figures like Mahatma Gandhi mouth obscene words. The Court also noted that free speech is not an absolute right.


  • The Court set these standards while considering the plea of Devidas Ramachandra Tuljapurkar, who was charged with publishing the obscene Marathi poem titled Gandhi Mala Bhetala (I Met Gandhi) in which the Mahatma is a character. The poem was published in 1994 in an in-house bank magazine.

Details of the Judgement:

  • The apex court said in its judgment that when the name of Mahatma Gandhi is alluded to or used as a symbol speaking or using obscene words, the test of contemporary community standards of what is vulgar and obscene language becomes applicable with more vigour.
  • The verdict said freedom of speech and expression has to be given a broad canvas, but it is also subject to inherent limitations within the constitutional parameters.

What the Constitution says?

Freedom of speech and expression is the most basic of all freedoms granted to the citizens of India.

  • The Right to freedom of speech and expression is a guranteed Fundamental Right under Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution.

However, the freedom of speech is not an absolute right.Clause (2) of Article 19 of the Indian constitution enables the legislature to impose certain restrictions on free speech under following heads:

  • security of the State,
  • friendly relations with foreign States,
  • public order,
  • decency and morality,
  • contempt of court,
  • defamation,
  • incitement to an offence, and
  • sovereignty and integrity of India.

Reasonable restrictions on these grounds can be imposed only by a duly enacted law and not by executive action.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.


RBI relaxes norms for IDF-NBFCs

In a bid to ensure flow of funds to infrastructure projects, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently allowed Infrastructure Debt Fund-Non-Banking Financial Companies to invest in public-private partnerships (PPPs) and infrastructure projects which have completed at least one year of satisfactory commercial operation.

What else has the RBI said?

  • The maximum exposure that an IDF-NBFC can take on individual projects will be at 50% of its total capital funds. An additional exposure up to 10% could be taken at the discretion of the board of the IDF-NBFC.
  • The RBI has said that it could permit additional exposure up to 15 per cent (over 60%) subject to such conditions as it may deem fit to impose regarding additional prudential safeguards.
  • It has also said that all assets covering PPP and post-commercial operations date (COD) infrastructure projects in existence over a year of commercial operation would be assigned a risk weight of 50%.

What are Infrastructure Debt Funds?

Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs) are investment vehicles to accelerate the flow of long term debt to the sector. IDFs aims at taking out a substantial share of the outstanding commercial bank loans.

  • IDFs are set up by sponsoring entities either as Non-Banking Financing Companies (NBFC) or as Trusts/Mutual Funds (MF). A trust based IDF would normally be a Mutual Fund (MF), regulated by SEBI, while a company based IDF would normally be a NBFC regulated by the Reserve Bank.
  • RBI has allowed Indians as well as foreign investors to invest in debt instruments floated by IDFs.

Sources: The Hindu, RBI.



President of India presents presidential awards for Classical Tamil

The President of India recently presented the ‘Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil’ for the year 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Details of the Award:

The ‘ Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil’ were instituted to give recognition and honour to distinguished scholars, who have made outstanding contribution to classical Tamil language and literature.

These awards include:

  • Thokappiyar Award for life time achievement to an Indian scholar for outstanding contribution in the field of Tamil studies.
  • Kural Pitam Award for eminent scholars of Classical Tamil of non-Indian origin.
  • Young Scholar Awards for young scholars in the age group of 30-40 years for showing interest and excellence in Tamil studies with publications.

Sources: The Hindu, BS, PIB.


Quiz Will be Included in Tomorrow’s Current Events