Insights Daily Current Events, 30 October 2015
Paper 3 Topic: S & T.
First Scorpene class submarine set afloat
Kalavari, the first of Scorpene class submarines being manufactured at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL), was recently set afloat in the Mumbai naval dockyard.
- The submarine will now undergo rigorous harbour trials and tests which will certify each system to its fullest capacity.
Kalvari is first of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene class stealth submarines being built under the Project 75, under collaboration with M/s DCNS, France.
- The Scorpene class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarine jointly being developed by the French DCN and the Spanish company Navantia and now by DCNS.
- It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system.
- They are 67 meters long, 6.2 meters wide and have 1,550 tonnes displacement.
- The state-of-art features of the Scorpene include superior stealth and the ability to launch an attack on the enemy using precision-guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, underwater or on surface.
- Designed to operate in all theatres including the tropics, the submarines can undertake multifarious missions including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, operations by special forces and mine laying etc.
What is Air-independent propulsion?
- Air-independent propulsion (AIP) is any technology which allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without the need to access atmospheric oxygen (by surfacing or using a snorkel).
- It can augment or replace the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels.
- It is based on the combustion of stored oxygen and ethanol to augment battery-powered propulsion.
Significance of AIP:
- Notably, a submarine is about stealth. It is a weapons platform not visible to the naked eye. AIP significantly improves stealth because it enables a submarine to generate electricity for services and battery charging and propulsion while completely submerged.
- AIP systems also generate electricity, powering a submarine’s to operate and also generate oxygen, lighting and amenities for crew.
- They enable conventional diesel-electric submarines to remain submerged for two to three weeks at a time. This significantly increases the risk of detection.
- Another advantage is that the Non-nuclear submarines running on battery power or AIP can be virtually silent.
sources: the hindu, pib.
Paper 3 Topic: Money laundering and its prevention.
Meet to devise new strategy to combat money laundering
The meeting of all International groups, combating money laundering rackets funding terror activities and organised crimes, will be held in the first week of November in New Delhi.
- This meeting is aimed at building greater inter-regional coordination in law enforcement and intelligence-sharing.
- The meeting is part of ‘Networking the Networks,’ an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is being held in coordination with the Indian government.
- The meeting will also address a wide range of issues pertaining to trans-border illicit financial transactions by organised criminal syndicates and terror outfits.
- Among the key participants are representatives of top international groups, including Interpol, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, Financial Action Task Force, the Eurasian Group on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.
- The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Enforcement Directorate will also attend the meeting.
Focus areas of the meeting:
- The meeting will focus on establishing close cooperation among these international groups to build a global network for an effective fight against money laundering.
- Issues related to sharing of resources of all such anti-money laundering groups which will ensure expeditious action against trans-border crimes, will also be discussed.
- The participants at the meeting are expected to highlight the best practices being followed by these groups and law enforcement agencies, to be followed by member countries for more coordinated action.
- Procedures to facilitate confiscation of the proceeds of crime in foreign jurisdictions — a major issue facing India — will also be discussed.
- The members would also make recommendations to strengthen the South Asia Regional Information and Coordination Center for more concerted action in the region.
Established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention, UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime.
- UNODC operates in all regions of the world through an extensive network of field offices.
- UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from Governments, for 90% of its budget.
- UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
- In the Millennium Declaration, Member States have resolved to intensify efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, to redouble the efforts to implement the commitment to counter the world drug problem and to take concerted action against international terrorism.
The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:
- Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
- Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions.
- Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies.
sources: the hindu, unodc.
Paper 1 Topic: Population and associated issues.
As workforce ages, China ends its one-child policy
China has dropped its controversial one-child policy, allowing all couples to have two children for the first time in more than three decades.
- The policy change is an advance over the 2013 ruling, which allowed couples, where one of the parents was a single child, to have two children.
Why such move?
It was due to the mounting pressure on the authorities to ease the family-size norms after it became evident that the one-child policy was leading to severe labour shortages and an ageing population. One child policy was meant to restrain a burgeoning population in the 1970s.
What the reports indicate?
- According to U.N. estimates, nearly 440 million people in China would be over 60 by 2050, signalling a sharp decline in the labour pool.
- Last year, the working population between the ages 15 and 59 slid by 3.71 million.
- The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently said that China should permit all couples to have a second child because the total fertility rate had dropped to 1.4, signifying the average number of children to be born of a woman in her entire lifespan. This was well short of the 2.1-mark that should be reached to ensure a balanced population profile.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: space.
China’s first moon rover sets record for longest stay
China’s first lunar rover, Yutu, has been operating on the moon for almost two years, setting a record for the longest stay by a rover.
- Yutu was deployed and landed on the moon via China’s Chang’e-3 lunar probe in 2013, staying longer than the Soviet Union’s 1970 moon rover Lunokhod 1, which spent 11 months on the moon.
- The scientific objectives of Chang’e-3 mainly included lunar surface topography and geological survey, lunar surface material composition and resource survey, Sun-Earth-Moon space environment detection, and lunar-based astronomical observation.
Brief history of China’s space programme:
- The launch of Dongfanghong-1, China’s first satellite, in 1970 made China the fifth country to launch a domestic satellite using a domestic rocket, following the Soviet Union, the US, France and Japan.
- China launched its manned space programme in the 1990s and successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country’s first astronaut, into orbit on the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2003.
- China is also planning to be the first country to land a lunar probe on the far side of the moon, or “dark side of the moon” which is never visible to Earth. The mission will be carried out by Chang’e-4, a backup probe for Chang’e-3.
sources: the hinduu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Google to help Indonesia expand Net connectivity
Alphabet, parent company of tech giant Google, has announced tie-ups with three major Indonesian telecom operators to expand web connectivity in the country’s remote areas using hundreds of net-beaming balloons.
- The initiative is part of Project Loon by Google X, Alphabet’s research division, which works on ambitious ideas, including self-driven cars.
- The initiative has already been tried out in Brazil, New Zealand and Australia with a single service provider and has been successful.
- According to the Google, around 1,000 Internet balloons have already been deployed worldwide, and have flown nearly 20 million km while some of them had circled the world 20 times.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country with more than 255 million people, two-thirds of whom have no access to the web.
About Project Loon:
- Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by Google X with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.
- The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 32 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds.
How it operates?
- The balloons are maneuvered by adjusting their altitude to float to a wind layer after identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- Users of the service connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building.
- The signal travels through the balloon network from balloon to balloon, then to a ground-based station connected to an Internet service provider (ISP), then onto the global Internet.
Why stratosphere was chosen?
Google asserts that the stratosphere is advantageous because of its relatively low wind speeds and minimal turbulence. Google also claims that it can model, with reasonable accuracy, the seasonal, longitudinal, and latitudinal variations in wind speeds within the 18–25 km stratospheric layer.
Significance of this project:
- The technology designed in the project could allow countries to avoid using expensive fiber cable that would have to be installed underground to allow users to connect to the Internet.
- This will also greatly increase Internet usage in developing countries in regions such as Africa and Southeast Asia that can’t afford to lay underground fiber cable.
- The project also brings Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and improves communication during natural disasters to affected regions.
sources: the hindu, wiki.
Paper 3 Topic: environmental pollution.
Punjab to set up bio-ethanol refinery
The Punjab State government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up a bio-ethanol refinery with a consortium of Beta Renewables, Novozymes and CVC India Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
- This is being seen as a major step towards tackling the menace of wheat and paddy straw burning in Punjab.
- Estimated project cost is Rs. 950 crore.
How these refineries would help?
The bio-refinery will solve the chronic problem of straw burning and also help the farmers who would be paid for the agro-based produce. It would also help in containing the loss of fertility and damage to environment.
What is Bioethanol?
Bioethanol is a form of quasi-renewable energy that can be produced from agricultural feedstocks. It can be made from very common crops such as sugarcane, potato, cassava and corn. It is also made from corn, potatoes, milk, rice, beetroot and recently grapes, banana and dates depending on the countries agricultural strength.
- It is blended with petrol to make a truly sustainable transport fuel.
- It is used in cosmetic and other manufacturing processes.
sources: the hindu, wiki.
Paper 2 Topic: UN organs.
Pakistan loses UNHRC seat
Pakistan has failed to win a re-election to the top UN human rights body, UNHRC. It garnered just 105 votes in the 193-member General Assembly.
- A total of 18 members were elected to the UN Human Rights Council through a secret ballot.
- Pakistan’s current term is set to expire on December 31 and it was seeking re-election to the 47-member Council.
- Pakistan lost the seat in the Asia-Pacific category in which five seats were vacant.
- India is also a member of the Council and its term will end in 2017.
The new members, who will start their three-year terms from January 1 next year, are Belgium, Burundi, Cd’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Kenya, Panama, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Togo, Slovenia, Switzerland, UAE and Venezuela.
It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
- It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
- The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
- The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
- The council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and engages the United Nations’ special procedures.
- The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.
sources: the hindu, unhrc.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
New initiative to spread awareness about Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched a new initiative to spread awareness about the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme of the Ministry.
About the initiative:
- The initiative has been launched in partnership with Celltick Mobile Media India Pvt. Ltd. to generate awareness about BBBP Scheme to an estimated 100 million mobile users in India.
- Through the Celltick managed mobile services based on its patented Live Screen platform, available to over 100 million users in India, the user will be able to get messages that they can interact with on the homescreen of their device, enabling ease of use in accessing information about BBBP.
- The platform provides a means to reach users based on their location as well as their language of preference.
- The service will direct users to access more information about it.
- This campaign is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal ministry for the Scheme.
- The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.