Insights Daily Current Events, 08 June 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
India ‘clears final hurdle to join Missile Technology Control Regime’
The members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, a key anti-proliferation grouping, have agreed to admit India.
- This breakthrough comes days after India announced that it is subscribing to ‘The Hague Code of Conduct’ against ballistic missile proliferation, which is considered to be complementary to the missile technology control regime (MTCR).
India, had applied for its membership last year. A deadline for the members of the group to object to India’s admission had expired recently. Under this so-called ‘silent procedure’, India’s admission follows automatically.
Benefits for India:
- India’s entry into the MTCR is a step closer to its Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.
- The entry into this group will shape the future of India’s engagement with not just the MTCR but also the broader global non-proliferation community.
- Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology.
Established in April 1987, the voluntary MTCR aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
- The MTCR regime urges its 34 members, which include most of the world’s key missile manufacturers, to restrict their exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.
- Since 2008 India has been one of the five countries that are unilateral adherents to the MTCR.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
A ‘sweet’ option to fix broken bones
A team of scientists from Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has come up with a new bone reconstruction method similar to sutures. For this, they are using is an unlikely ingredient: maltitol, derived from maltose, a sweetening agent found in most sugar-free foods such as ice-creams.
- So far, there were only two options for injuries to bones: a cast for minor fractures, and implants like metal rods for more serious injuries.
About the new method:
Maltitol is combined with other components to make long chain-like structures that become plastic. This is then used to fill in the bone gap caused by fracture, instead of the traditional rod. Also, since the maltitol reacts to water and as the body is primarily made of water, the bonds start breaking slowly, over a course of time. The molecules are soluble in water, and they eventually come out. Once the bone grows back, the structure simply disintegrates.
- This material would be a huge advantage over existing ones, such as metal rods, which do not allow growth of the bone.
- The advantage of using maltitol to make the scaffold is that drugs can then be injected into it to hasten healing. The other benefit of using maltitol is fewer side-effects.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: awareness in space.
LISA Pathfinder results boost plans for future detectors
LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by the European Space Agency (ESA) with contributions from NASA, has successfully tested a key technology needed to build a space-based observatory for detecting gravitational waves. These tiny ripples in the fabric of space, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, were first seen last year by the ground-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
- Researchers have found that the European Space Agency’s technology-testing mission LISA Pathfinder is working five times better than its design specification, opening Einstein’s gravitational universe for investigation from space.
- In an experiment, two cubical test masses placed at the heart of the spacecraft have demonstrated that they are almost motionless with respect to each other and show a relative acceleration which is less than one part in ten millionths of a billionth of Earth’s gravity. This is an accuracy about five times better than expected.
- This extraordinary degree of precision is needed by this experiment as the measured strain caused by gravitational waves on their detectors is comparably minute.
Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) Pathfinder spacecraft has positioned itself in gravitational stasis at the first Langrangian Point (L1) that lets its instruments hang in freefall. This is expected to filter out extraneous cosmic noise so the spacecraft can achieve its mission: measuring gravitational waves, the “sound” of the universe. Lisa Pathfinder was launched by Europe last December.
The demonstration of the mission’s key technologies opens the door to the development of a large space observatory capable of detecting gravitational waves emanating from a wide range of exotic objects in the Universe.
Hypothesised by Albert Einstein a century ago, gravitational waves are oscillations in the fabric of spacetime, moving at the speed of light and caused by the acceleration of massive objects. They can be generated, for example, by supernovas, neutron star binaries spiralling around each other, and pairs of merging black holes.
About LISA pathfinder:
LISA Pathfinder, formerly Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology-2 (SMART-2), is an ESA spacecraft that was launched on December 3, 2015. It began orbiting a point called Earth-sun L1, roughly 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth in the sun’s direction.
- It is an ESA-led mission. It involves European space companies and research institutes from France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and the US space agency NASA.
- LISA stands for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a space-based gravitational wave observatory concept that has been studied in great detail by both NASA and ESA.
- The primary goal of ESA’s LISA Pathfinder mission is to test current technology by flying around an identical pair of 1.8-inch (46 millimeter) cubes made of a gold-platinum alloy, a material chosen for its high density and insensitivity to magnetic fields.
- LISA Pathfinder also carries a NASA experiment called the ST-7 Disturbance Reduction System. Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the experiment combines novel “electrospray” thrusters with drag-free control software provided by Goddard on a dedicated computer.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India, U.S. to ratify Paris deal by 2017
India and the U.S have agreed to initiate domestic processes to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change — negotiated by over 190 countries in December 2015 — and complete the process within this year.
The Paris Agreement on climate change is a milestone in global climate cooperation. It is meant to enhance the implementation of the Convention and recognizes the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances.
- India had advocated a strong and durable climate agreement based on the principles and provisions of the Convention. The Paris Agreement addresses all the important concerns and expectations of India.
The salient features of the Paris Agreement are as follows:
- The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries. The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
- The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption with developed countries taking the lead, and notes the importance of ‘climate justice’ in its preamble.
- The Agreement seeks to enhance the ‘implementation of the Convention‘ whilst reflecting the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
- The objective of the Agreement further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
- Pre-2020 actions are also part of the decisions. The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- The Nuclear Power Corporation of India and US firm Westinghouse have agreed to begin engineering and site design work for six nuclear power plant reactors in India and conclude contractual arrangements by June 2017. Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the US-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
- India and the US have announced the setting up of two financial assistance programmes worth $60 million for supporting India’s much-needed clean energy initiatives including in solar power and other renewables. This includes a creation of a $20 million US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative, equally supported by the United States and India. This is expected to mobilise up to $400 million to provide clean and renewable electricity to up to 1 million households by 2020. The two countries have also agreed on a $40 million US-India Catalytic Solar Finance Programme, which would be equally supported by the United States and India. This would provide much needed liquidity to smaller-scale renewable energy investments, particularly in poorer, rural villages that are not connected to the grid, and could mobilise up to $1 billion of projects.
- In a significant development, the US has recognised India as a “major defence partner” which means that for defence related trade and technology transfer the country would now be treated at par with America’s closest allies. Under the ‘major defence partner’ recognition, the US will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
- A technical arrangement was recently signed between the Indian Navy and the US Navy concerning unclassified maritime information sharing that will allow sharing of unclassified information on White Shipping as permitted by respective national laws, regulations and policies, and provides a framework for mutually beneficial maritime information.
- Pakistan tops the list of countries figuring in the Malware Infection Index 2016 prepared by Microsoft. India is placed at the 8th position. The index identifies the key malware threats in the region and ranks markets in Asia-Pacific according to how much they are affected. The index has also identified the top three most encountered malware as Gamarue, a malicious computer worm that is commonly distributed via exploit kits and social engineering; and Skeeyah and Peals which are trojans that try to look innocent to convince you to install them, the index reveals. Out of the top five locations across the globe most at risk of infection, a total of four are from the Asia Pacific – Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal, topping the rankings at first, second, fourth and fifth places respectively.