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Insights Daily Current Events, 21 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 21 July 2015

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Navy aligns indigenisation plan with ‘Make in India’

The Navy has unveiled a 15-year plan to achieve full indigenisation in all phases of warship construction, from ship-building to systems to weapons, and aligned it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India.”

  • The Navy has also planned to involve private industry in a big way in this initiative.

Details:

  • The Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan 2015-2030 is aimed at enabling the development of equipment and systems through the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian industry over a 15-year period.
  • The Navy issued its first 15-year indigenisation plan in 2003 and then revised it in 2008.
  • The current revision was done to dovetail it with the ‘Make in India’ pitch.
  • The plan’s objective is to have a 200-ship navy by 2027.
Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan 2015-2030
SOURCE: The Hindu

Key areas:

  • A warship can be broadly divided into three segments — float, move and fight. The Navy has achieved 90% indigenisation in the float category, while the move (propulsion) and fight (weapons) components stand at 60 and 30% respectively, which are priority areas to be addressed.
  • Among platforms, a major area of concern is helicopters. The navy has also planned for indigenisation in this segment.
  • The Navy has individual plans for capacity augmentation — the Indian Maritime Capability Perspective Plan for fleet augmentation, Maritime Infrastructure Augmentation Plan and the Maritime Cooperation Roadmap all of which are from 2012 to 2027.

Sources: The Hindu.

U.N. endorses Iran nuclear agreement

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a resolution that endorses the historic deal on Iran’s nuclear programme and clears a path for international sanctions crippling its economy to be lifted.

  • The passing of the resolution marks formal U.N. endorsement for the hard-won, groundbreaking agreement reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group after 18 straight days of talks that capped almost two years of momentous negotiations.
  • Accordingly, seven U.N. resolutions passed since 2006 to sanction Iran will be gradually terminated.

Highlights of the Iran nuclear deal:

  • The deal puts strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and calls for stringent U.N. oversight, with world powers hoping this will make any dash to make an atomic bomb virtually impossible.
  • In return, Iran will get sanctions relief although the measures can “snap back” into place if there are any violations.
  • The international arms embargo against Iran will remain for five years but deliveries would be possible with special permission of the U.N. Security Council. Iran has accepted allowing the U.N. atomic watchdog tightly-controlled “managed access” to military bases.
  • Iran will slash by around two-thirds the number of centrifuges from around 19,000 to 6,104.
  • The agreement may lead to more cooperation between Tehran and Washington at a particularly explosive time in the Middle East with the emergence last year of the Islamic State group.
  • The deal caps uranium enrichment at 3.67% and limits the stockpile to 300 kg, all for 15 years.
  • Iran will be required to ship spent fuel out of the country forever, as well as allow inspectors from the IAEA inspectors certain access in perpetuity. Heightened inspections, including tracking uranium mining and monitoring the production and storage of centrifuges, will last for up to 20 years.

UNSC:

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Why was it created?

Like the UN as a whole, the Security Council was created following World War II to address the failings of another international organization, the League of Nations, in maintaining world peace.

Members:

  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.

When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the Council’s first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to reach agreement by peaceful means. If a dispute leads to hostilities, the council’s primary concern is to bring them to an end as soon as possible by issuing ceasefire directives and by deploying military observers/peace keeping force if necessary. The council may also opt for economic sanctions, blockade or even collective military action.

India and UNSC:

  • India was among the founding members of United Nations.
  • It is the second largest and a one of the largest constant contributor of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping missions.
  • Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the UN’s five big powers combined.

Sources: The Hindu.

West Bengal govt transfers hydro projects to NHPC

West Bengal government has given a fillip to Centre’s mega merger plan of all state-owned hydro electric units with National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), by handing over state’s four hydro power projects with a combined capacity of about 293 MW to the central PSU.

The four projects are:

  1. Teesta Low Dam-V
  2. Teesta low dam I & II combined
  3. Teesta Intermediate Stage
  4. Rammam Stage-I

All these projects are located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. So far, they were under West Bengal government-run power agency West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL).

Background:

This move comes at a time, when the central government has taken up a plan to merge all central hydro power companies with NHPC and create a mega entity. For this an initiative has already been taken up for merger of central hydro power utilities — the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Tehri Hydro Development Corporation, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation — into a single entity, which will see NHPC taking the lead role.

NTPC is India’s single-largest thermal power company generation with capacity of over 43,000 MW.

Sources: The Hindu, ntpc.

National Renewable Energy Act to change landscape of RE

The government has drafted the National Renewable Energy Bill, 2015 which aims to consolidate the renewable energy sector and give it an institutional structure.

  • After it is passed by Parliament it would enable a National Renewable Energy Policy, Renewable Energy Corporation of India, an advisory group and a committee on the same.
  • At present, the renewable energy sector is governed by the Electricity Act, 2003, which is also undergoing amendments.

Implications:

  • The policy would enable a supportive system for growth of the sector.
  • The various segments which are the focus of the policy are: Renewable energy resource assessment, technical and safety standards, monitoring and verification, manufacturing and skill development and data management.
  • Through a separate law, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) would get freedom to execute projects and not depend on other ministries and departments for necessary clearances, said officials.
  • The law also aims to set up dedicated renewable electricity investment zones. The law makes it clear who will finance, who will plan and monitor and what support will come from where.

National Renewable Energy Fund:

  • To financially support the sector and the projects, the central government will set up ‘National Renewable Energy Fund’ and also push states to set up their own ‘State Green Funds’.
  • The fund may be used for supporting the objectives such as but not limited to R&D, resource assessment, demonstrations and pilot projects, low cost financing, investments for skills development, supporting RE technology manufacturing, infrastructure development, promoting all forms of decentralised renewable energy etc. provided such activities are selected in a transparent manner, and in line with the provisions of the National RE Policy/Plan.

Sources: BS

Hawking launches $100-mn search for aliens

With $100 million from a Russian billionaire and the backing of physicist Stephen Hawking, scientists are about to embark on the biggest search yet for alien life, sweeping the skies for signals of civilisations beyond our solar system.

Details of the project:

  • The new project dwarfs anything else in the field, known by the acronym SETI for the “search for extraterrestrial intelligence”.
  • The 10-year project, dubbed Breakthrough Listen, is funded by Russian internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner, himself a physicist by training, who made his fortune from savvy early investments in start-ups such as Facebook Inc.
  • Some of the world’s largest radio telescopes will be used to scan for distinctive radio signals that could indicate the existence of intelligent life. Astronomers will listen to signals from the million star systems nearest to Earth and the 100 closest galaxies, although they do not yet plan to send messages back into space.
  • Breakthrough Listen will book time at radio telescopes, including at Australia’s Parkes Observatory in New South Wales and the Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia.
  • In addition to checking for radio signals, Breakthrough Listen will hunt for light signals using a telescope at the Lick Observatory in California.

Sources: BS.

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