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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 October 2016

 

 


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 October 2016


 

Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

 

Centre plans to revive counter-terror body

 

The Centre is planning to revive the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a project conceived by the UPA government in 2012.

 

What next?

The government is planning to rework the NCTC proposal to allay the fears of State governments that their intelligence gathering mechanism would be encroached upon by the Centre.

 

What was proposed?

It was after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack that the then Home Minister suggested setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), on the lines of the one in the United States and the British Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, for coordinated counter-terror operations. However, concerned that such an agency could well be abused by the Centre for political ends, many Chief Ministers struck down the idea primarily because the unit was to function under the Intelligence Bureau and, unlike the U.S. agency, it would be empowered to conduct searches and arrests under Sections 43 and 43A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

 

Key facts:

  • It has the power to conduct searches and arrests in any part of India.
  • The NCTC, to be located within the Intelligence Bureau, will carry out counter-terror operations and collect, collate and disseminate data on terrorism.
  • The agency will also maintain a data base on terrorist and their associates including their families.
  • The NCTC will also formulate a response to terror threats. It is meant to serve as a single and effective point of control and coordination of all counter terrorism measures.
  • It will also have the mandate to carry out anti-terror operations, if any, through, or in conjunction with, the State police.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

India, Russia to set up agro irradiation centres

 

India and Russia have signed a pact to set up 25 integrated infrastructure centers for irradiation treatment of perishable food items to improve shelf life and cut post-harvest losses.

 

Key facts:

  • At least 7 centers will be set up in Maharashtra, with the first centre near Shirdi to be ready next year.
  • Perishable items ranging from flowers to fish will be treated there on a commercial scale.
  • The agreement was signed between Russia’s United Innovation Corporation (UIC) — a subsidiary of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation — and Hindustan Agro Co-op Ltd on the sidelines of the BRICS Business Forum.
  • As part of the agreement, a JV will be formed for this purpose.
  • These irradiation centres will use the technology and technical solution based on gamma-facility and/or electron accelerator.

 

Background:

In irradiation, food products are subjected to a low dosage of radiation to treat them for germs and insects, increasing their longevity and shelf life.

Radiation treatment is carried out in dosage recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and it neither reduces the nutritional value of food nor spoils their taste and appearance.

 

How this will help India?

In India, according to estimates, post-harvest losses in food and food grains are around 40-50%, primarily due to insect infestation, microbiological contamination, physiological changes due to sprouting and ripening, and poor shelf life.

  • The wastage of fruits and vegetables alone is about Rs. 60,000 crore annually. Including cereals, meat, pulses and flowers, the annual loss is estimated to be Rs. 2,50,000 crores. Besides, there are a few low level irradiation plants in the country, which are not adequate.
  • With the proposed centres, it is possible to reduce these losses.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Smaller parties, Independents in Rajya Sabha unite for more talk time

 

Vice-President Hamid Ansari has formally recognised a group of 22 MPs belonging to parties with less than four MPs and certain independents as a consolidated block — the United Group.

  • This is only the third time in the history of Indian Parliament that this is happening, the first was in 1983, and the second in 1990.

 

What was the need for it?

Hailing from ideologically diverse backgrounds and including nominated MPs, this group of MPs have united to secure more time to speak in House debates, where their solitary or numerically lean status afforded them as little as three minutes of speech time.

 

Significance of this move:

Smaller parties and independent MPs who may want to contribute to debates rarely get enough time to put forward a cogent argument. But, with this grouping, now such MPs form the third largest group in the Rajya Sabha, after the Congress and the BJP. Now, they also will find a place in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) that decides time allotment.

Time allotted to parties to speak on debates depends entirely on their strength in the House. A grouping of this kind will, therefore, make it possible to speak for.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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.

 

Self-powered UV photodetector charges energy storage devices

 

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have developed a cost-effective, high-performance, self-powered UV photodetector that can use the harvested optical energy for direct self-charging of energy storage devices such as supercapacitor.

 

How was it developed?

The researchers developed the photodetector by integrating semiconducting vanadium doped zinc oxide (VZnO) nanoflakes with a conducting polymer.

  • Zinc oxide (ZnO), the base material for UV detection, can be doped with vanadium to produce photodetectors that are self-powered. When doped with vanadium, the microstructure of ZnO changes from nanorods to closely-packed nanoflakes, causing an increase in the surface area to the volume of the material.
  • The nanoflakes are 80% more porous than nanorods. The UV light that gets into the pores undergoes multiple reflections and finally gets absorbed.
  • The VZnO nanoflakes are further annealed (heated and allowed to cool slowly) in the presence of hydrogen gas at 350 degree C (hydrogenated) to increase the conductivity and reduce the recombination of photo-generated charge carriers.

 

Key facts:

  • The vanadium-doped zinc oxide nanoflake structure has 98% light-harvesting efficiency, which is much higher than the 84% seen in zinc oxide nanorods.
  • The photodetector has superior performance in terms of faster detection of photo signals in the order of milliseconds even when UV light intensity is low.
  • It can be used for operating electronic devices in the absence of external power source.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

Vice-President Hamid Ansari is visiting Hungary and Algeria:

  • The Hungary visit should serve to underline and acknowledge the support and understanding that India has extended to that country over a long time.
  • In the case of Algeria, which has rich oil, gas and phosphatic resources, India sees this visit as an opportunity to kindle interest in cooperative ventures. Collaboration in the field of space missions is also on the horizon.
  • Hungary is a parliamentary constitutional republic in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, Slovenia to the west, Austria to the northwest, and Ukraine to the northeast. The country’s capital and largest city is Budapest. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD and the Schengen Area.
  • Algeria is a sovereign state in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. It is the largest country in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic.

 

New Secretary-General of UN:

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has formally elected Antonio Guterres as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • He will serve for five years starting from January 1, 2017.
  • The UN Secretary-General is the head of the United Nations Secretariat and is de facto spokesperson and leader of the UN.
Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres