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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Telcos seek open court hearing on AGR.

2. Northeast gas pipeline grid project.


GS Paper 3:

1. World’s most efficient lithium sulphur battery developed in Australia.

2. Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) project.

3. Black Box in an airplane.

4. Government Owned Contractor Operated model.


Facts for Prelims:


2. What is the habitable zone?

3. What is Epiphany festival?


GS Paper  : 2


Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Telcos seek open court hearing on AGR

What to study?

For Prelims: What is AGR? How is it calculated?

For Mains: What is the impact of latest ruling? Issues and ways to address them.

Context: Telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have urged an open court hearing of their petitions seeking a review of a Supreme Court judgment upholding the recovery of past dues amounting to ₹1.47 lakh crore from them.

What is the issue?

  • On October 24 last year, dealing a huge blow to telecom service providers, the Court had upheld the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) move to recover AGR of about ₹92,000 crore from the telcos.
  • The Court dismissed the telecom service providers’ objection to the government’s formulation of AGR.

What is AGR?

It is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.

The judgment had said that the gross revenue would be inclusive of installation charges, late fees, sale proceeds of handsets (or any other terminal equipment etc.), revenue on account of interest, dividend, value-added services, supplementary services, access or interconnection charges, roaming charges, revenue from permissible sharing of infrastructure and any other miscellaneous revenue, without any set-off for related item of expense, etc.

Why the Court had upheld DOT’s move?- Observations made by the Court:

  • The telecom sector had long reaped the fruits of the Centre’s liberalised mode of payment by revenue sharing regime.
  • The sector has benefited immensely under the scheme as apparent from the gross revenue trend from 2004 to 2015.
  • But, the service providers had failed to fulfil their obligations to the government and raised frivolous objections.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Northeast gas pipeline grid project

What to study?

For Prelims: Northeast gas pipeline grid project and Urja Ganga Project- key features.

For Mains: Significance and the need for such projects for India, especially for NE region India.

Context: Govt to provide ₹5,559 crore funding to northeast gas grid.

Northeast gas pipeline grid project:

The proposed gas pipeline grid will connect Guwahati to the major Northeast cities and major load centers. It is 1, 656 km long.

The project is being implemented under ambitious Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project.

  • Besides connecting all the state capitals in the region, the pipeline will also connect with the National Gas Grid through Barauni-Guwahati Gas Pipeline, which is being laid by GAIL.
  • The pipeline will enable the supply of piped cooking gas to households and CNG to automobiles, besides fuel to industry.

Implementation: The North-East pipeline grid is to be implemented by Indradhanush Gas Grid, a joint venture of state-owned GAIL India, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL).

About the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project:

The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi and later to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.

  • From Varanasi’s perspective, an 800-km long MDPI pipeline will be laid and 50,000 households and 20,000 vehicles will get PNG and CNG gas respectively. The government estimates that around 5 lakh gas cylinders will be sent at rural areas annually.
  • According to GAIL, with the Urja Ganga project, 20 lakh households will get PNG connections. The project is said to be a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India.
  • GAIL has built a network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km. With Urja Ganga project, this number will further increase by 2540 km.


The funding support to the gas grid is a part of a broader goal of the government to raise the share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix to 15% by 2030 from current 6.2%.

The government has envisaged developing the National Gas Grid. At present, about 16,788 km natural gas pipeline is operational and about 14,239 km gas pipelines are being developed to increase the availability of natural gas across the country.

The objectives of the National Gas Grid are:

  1. To remove regional imbalance within the country with regard to access for natural gas and provide clean and green fuel throughout the country.
  2. To connect gas sources to major demand centres and ensure availability of gas to consumers in various sectors.
  3. Development of City Gas Distribution Networks in various cities for the supply of CNG and PNG.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: 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.

World’s most efficient lithium sulphur battery developed in Australia

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: operating principle, advantages and significance.

Context: Researchers at the University of Monash in Australia have managed to create a super-capacity prototype by re-engineering a Lithium Sulphur (Li-S) battery.

Is it new?

Li-S batteries are not new. But they had an intrinsic problem with the sulphur electrode, which would break after repeated charge cycles, making its superior capacity redundant.

The sulphur cathode would break because of expansion and contraction during cycles.

How was this problem overcome?

  • To overcome this problem, the researchers gave the electrodes more space to expand and contract. The electrodes are bound inside the battery using polymers. The research team used lesser quantity of these adhesives so that the electrodes had more spaceout structures inside them.
  • These structures behaved more like bridges between the sulphur particles rather than a dense network, which stopped the electrodes from disintegrating.

 How it works?

The lithium-sulphur batteries operate in the same way as regular lithium-ion work- lithium ions flow between electrodes producing power while not being chemically changed. Charging a battery involves those ions being returned to their starting positions for the process to begin anew.


This battery that has five times the capacity of a traditional lithium ion battery. It can retain 99 per cent of its charge even after 200 charge cycles.

Li-S batteries are also many times cheaper than lithium ion batteries that could bring down the cost of electric mobility.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: 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.

Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) project

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: LIGO- global significance and significance for India, all about gravitational waves.

Context: An international team led by LIGO-Virgo scientists has identified another event of gravitational ripples from a collision of two neutron stars, making it the second time this type of occurrence has ever been observed in gravitational waves.


In August 2017, the first observation of gravitational ripples from a neutron star collision made history for being the first time that both gravitational waves and light were detected from the same cosmic occurrence.

What is LIGO?

It is a massive observatory for detecting cosmic gravitational waves and for carrying out experiments.

The objective is to use gravitational-wave observations in astronomical studies.

The project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford, Washington, north-western US, and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern US.

The proposed LIGO India project aims to move one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.

About LIGO- India project:

It is piloted by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The LIGO-India project will be jointly coordinated and executed by three Indian research institutions: the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune and Department of Atomic Energy organisations: Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.

Benefits for India:

  1. The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier.
  2. The LIGO-India project will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting-edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of the eight-km long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain.
  3. With its establishment, India will join the global network of gravitational wave detectors.
  4. Establishing an observatory in India also assumes importance because the further the distance between the observatories, the greater will be the accuracy in locating gravity waves.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Black Box in an airplane

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Black Box- meaning and significance.

Context: On January 8th, a passenger plane bound for Ukraine exploded as it slammed into a field in Iran, just minutes after takeoff killing at least 176 people on board. Questions remain about the cause, and there have been some contradictory statements from officials in both Iran and Ukraine.

  • The plane’s so-called black boxes could help answer some of those questions, but Iranian officials may not turn the devices over to Boeing, which would typically be involved in an investigation into what went wrong.

What is a Black Box?

Any commercial aeroplane or corporate jet is required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. It is these two items of separate equipment which we commonly refer to as a ‘Black Box.’

While they do nothing to help the plane when it is in the air, both these pieces of equipment are vitally important should the plane crash, as they help crash investigators find out what happened just before the crash.

To help locate the cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder in the aftermath of a plane crash that occurs at sea, each recorder has a device fitted to it known as an Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB). The device is activated as soon as the recorder comes into contact with water and it can transmit from a depth as deep as 14,000 feet. Also, to help investigators find them; a Black Box is not actually black at all, but bright orange.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Investment models.

Government Owned Contractor Operated model

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of the GOCO model.

For Mains: Significance and potential.

Context: The Army has initiated the process of identifying potential industry partners to implement the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for its base workshops and ordnance depots intended to improve operational efficiency.


The GOCO model was one of the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. DB Shekatkar (Retd.) committee to “enhance combat capability and re-balancing defence expenditure.”

How it works?

  • The assets owned by government will be operated by the private industries.
  • Under the model, the private companies need not make investments on land, machinery and other support systems.
  • The missions are set by government and the private sectors are given full independence in implementing the missions using their best practices.

Significance of the model:

The main advantage of the model is that the targets are achieved in lesser time frame. Also, it will boost competitiveness among the private entities paving way to newer technologies.

Sources: The Hindu.


Facts for Prelims:


Why in News?

The Supreme Court has asked the Union government to explore possibility of creating a special wing of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for providing security to courts across the country, including the high courts and the SC.

About CISF:

  • CISF is an armed force of the Union established under an Act of Parliament, “Central Industrial Security Force Act, 1968 (50 of 1968)”.
  • According to the mandate, CISF provides security to the premises staff along with the security of property and establishments.
  • CISF is also providing protection to some private sector units and important government buildings in Delhi.
  • Presently, CISF is also providing security to the protected persons classified as Z Plus, Z, X, Y.
  • CISF is the only force with a customized and dedicated fire wing.
  • CISF is a compensatory cost force.


What is the habitable zone?

  • The habitable zone (or “Goldilocks zone”) is the range of orbital distances from a star at which liquid water can exist on the surface of a planet.
  • It is the area around a star where it is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface of surrounding planets.
  • This range of distances changes depending on the size and temperature of the star.
  • Earth is in the habitable zone of the sun – one of the reasons our planet has liquid water like oceans and lakes.

Why in News?

NASA reported the discovery of an Earth-size planet, named TOI 700 d, orbiting its star in the “habitable zone”.


What is Epiphany festival?

On 6th January, the Epiphany festival was celebrated in parts of India, such as Goa and Kerala.

In Goa, the celebration is known by its Portuguese name ‘Festa dos Reis’, and in parts of Kerala by its Syriac name ‘Denha’.

What is it?

Epiphany is a feast day, or a day of commemoration, which in Christianity marks the visit of the Magi (meaning the Three Wise Men or Three Kings) to the Infant Jesus (Christ from his nativity until age 12).

According to Christian belief, the Magi — Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper), the kings of Arabia, Persia, and India, respectively — followed a miraculous guiding star to Bethlehem, where they paid homage to the Infant Jesus.

  • The three are said to have brought gifts for Jesus: gold by Melchior, myrrh by Balthasar, and incense by Gaspar. The visit is believed to signify Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).
  • The day also commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.