Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 September 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
MICA Missile Firing by ‘TIGER’ Squadron of IAF
The Tiger Squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully fired the recently acquired BVR (Beyond Visual Range) air-to-air MICA missile on a target from an upgraded Mirage-2000 aircraft.
- The missile achieved a direct hit on a target which was much smaller than an actual aircraft and flying at low altitude. The target was destroyed on impact, validating the missile’s launch envelope.
- With this, the IAF has become one of the few air forces in the world with the capability of such missile. The operational success of this mission confirms a critical capability of Indian Air Force.
India purchased 450 MICAs from European missile major MBDA as part of the Mirage 2000 upgrade deal from France in 2012 for $1.23 billion.
The MICA will be mounted on the 36 Rafale combat jets that India is purchasing from France.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India to host 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave
The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the BRICS framework, is hosting 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave.
- It will be held in Bengaluru.
- It will be a five day event where a group of about 50 young scientists/ researchers from BRICS countries will meet.
- It would be organized and coordinated by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru.
- The meet would provide a platform for engaging, connecting and networking among young scientists to hold discussions and find solutions to some of the common challenges and problems being faced in BRICS countries.
- The participants are drawn from science, engineering and allied disciplines. The focus of the Conclave would be on three thematic topics – Computational Intelligence, Energy Solutions and Affordable Healthcare.
Significance of this meeting:
This BRICS Young Scientists Conclave assumes importance as it is taking place during India’s chairmanship of BRICS in 2016 under a focal theme of ‘Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’.
The BRICS Young Scientist Forum (BRICS-YSF), under which the BRICS Young Scientists Conclave is being organised, was initiated at the 2nd BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting at Brasilia in March, 2015.
- The respective Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministries of BRICS countries are the lead coordinating organisations for this Forum on co-investment and co-ownership principles.
- The Conclave aims at building a BRICS Innovation Corps – who individually or collectively have specialized capability to work on their novel scientific ideas and technological solutions which transform and accelerate change through better quality of life and higher incomes for citizen of this region.
- It will pave way for creation of strong generation of S&T leadership that can accelerate change collectively.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Pakistan’s MFN tag may stay for now
The Centre has clarified that it is not considering any proposal to withdraw the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan.
The MFN status was accorded in 1996 as per India’s commitments as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
What is MFN principle?
According to the MFN principle of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) — to which India is a signatory/contracting party — each of the WTO member countries should “treat all the other members equally as ‘most-favoured’ trading partners.”
According to the WTO, though the term ‘MFN’ “suggests special treatment, it actually means non-discrimination.”
Why is this in news?
In the wake of the deadly attack on Indian soldiers in Uri, an incident for which India is holding Pakistan responsible, there have been calls in India for tough action against its neighbour, including the revocation of the MFN status.
Can India do it?
International trade experts said India could consider making use of a ‘security exception’ clause in the GATT to deny the MFN status to Pakistan or bring in certain trade restrictions.
This is because Article 21(b)(iii) of GATT states that “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent any contracting party (including India in this case) from taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations.”
Pakistan, a founding member of the WTO like India, is yet to grant the MFN tag to India (and Israel).
How revoking MFN status affects India?
If India revokes the MFN status it would only have a symbolic impact on Pakistan. On the other hand it would hit India’s exports to Pakistan if there are retaliatory actions and it could also result in India losing goodwill in the South Asian region (where it enjoys a trade surplus and is a party to a free trade pact called SAFTA, which also includes Pakistan). The move may also not go down well at the WTO-level.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
ISRO puts 8 satellites in two orbits
ISRO has successfully launched PSLV-C-35 injecting India’s SCATSAT-1 in orbit.
- This is ISRO’s longest PSLV satellite launch mission spread over two hours and and 15 minutes.
- The 320 tonne PSLV rocket carried 8 satellites. The main cargo will be the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 for ocean and weather related studies which will be placed into a 730 km polar sun synchronous orbit. The other seven satellites will be placed in a 689 km polar orbit.
- According to ISRO, SCATSAT-1 is a continuity mission for Oceansat-2 scatterometer to provide wind vector data products for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking services to the users.
- The satellite carries Ku-band scatterometer similar to the one flown onboard Oceansat-2.
- On board are five foreign satellites: three from Algeria (Alsat-1B 103kg, Alsat-2B 117kg, Alsat-1N 7kg); and one each from Canada (NLS-19, 8kg) and the US (Pathfinder-44kg).
- The two other Indian satellites are: Pratham (10kg) built by Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay and Pisat (5.25 kg) from PES University, Bengaluru and its consortium.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
Disparity between States growing: Study
According to a report in epw, regional disparity has been growing over the years in India. The study evaluates the governance performance of 19 major States.
What the report says?
Five of the six best-performing States in 2001 — Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Punjab — continue to be the top performers in 2011. Four of the six worst-performing States in 2001 — Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — remained at the bottom in 2011. This led the researchers to conclude that “development clusters” — combinations of quality service delivery and high per capita income — are emerging among the more developed States in the south and west of the country, leaving behind the less-developed States, especially in the eastern region.
- The study shows that development legacy seems to have a strong impact on the quality of governance (when measured as service delivery).
- Some of the less developed States like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh moved up significantly in the modified ranking. Bihar jumped eight positions from the 18th in standard ranking to the 10th in development-adjusted ranking. Madhya Pradesh jumped from the 13th to second position. Chhattisgarh, placed at the eighth position, was the top performer in the modified ranking.
How was it measured?
While there are various approaches to evaluating performance of the State governments, the researchers use “output” — the quality of service delivery — as a measure of governance quality.
- Five sets of criteria were used to rank the States: infrastructure, social services, fiscal performance, justice, law and order, and quality of the legislature.
- Only official government data were used.
- The study covers 19 States which account for 96% of the population, for which requisite data was available from 2001-02 to 2011-12.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Open defecation free city: The Centre is preparing to declare Mangaluru an open defecation-free city. A survey conducted by the Quality Council of India at the behest of the Union Ministry of Urban Development across 75 cities, including 53 with a population of more than one million and State capitals, declared Mangaluru as an ODF city in the sub-5 lakh population category.
- World’s largest radio telescope: China has unveiled the world’s largest radio telescope. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) was launched in a mountainous region of China’s Guizhou province. Like radio telescopes in other parts of the world, FAST will study interstellar molecules related to how galaxies evolve.
- Decline in Africa’s elephant population: IUCN, in its report, has said that Africa’s elephant population has suffered its worst drop in 25 years, blaming the plummeting numbers on poaching. Africa’s total elephant population now is at around 4,15,000, a decline of around 1,11,000 over the past decade. Habitat loss is also increasingly threatening the species.