Current Affairs Nov 14

QRSAM Missile System Achieves Major Milestone

  • India’s Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) system achieved a major milestone when it directly hit a pilotless target aircraft (PTA) at medium range and medium altitude.
  • Launched from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha.
  • Capable of detecting and tracking targets on the move and engaging targets with short halts.
  • It is designed to give air defence coverage against strike columns of the Army.
  • Propelled by a single stage solid propellant rocket motor, the sophisticated missile uses indigenous subsystems.
  • The missile is cannisterised for transportation and launch using a mobile launcher, capable of carrying six canisterised missiles.
  • All QRSAM weapon system elements, like battery multifunction radar, battery surveillance radar, battery command post vehicle and mobile launcher, were deployed in the flight test.
  • The radar tracked the target — Banshee PTA — from the farthest range and the missile was launched when the target was within kill zone.
  • It achieved a direct hit, with terminal active homing by RF seeker guidance.



MNRE expands scope of PM-KUSUM Scheme

  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has amended/clarified implementation Guidelines of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM) Scheme based on the learnings from the implementation of the Scheme during the first year.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved PM-KUSUM scheme in its meeting held on 19.2.2019.

The Scheme consists of three components

  • The Component-A includes installation of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants,
  • Component-B includes installation of standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps and
  • Component-C includes Solarisation of Grid-connected Agriculture Pumps.

The ministry has issued following amendments/clarifications in the Scheme Implementation Guidelines:

 1-      Amendments/clarifications for Component-A

  • Scope has been increased by including pasturelands and marshy lands owned farmers.
  • Size of solar plant has been reduced so that small farmers can participate and completion period increased from nine to twelve months.
  • Further, penalty for shortfall in generation removed for ease of implementation by farmers.
  • The amendments/ clarifications in Component-A are:
  • Besides barren, fallow and agricultural land, solar power plants can also be installed on pastureland and marshy land of farmers.
  • To support small farmers, the solar power projects smaller than 500 kW may be allowed by States based on techno-commercial feasibility.
  • The selected Renewable Power Generator (RPG) shall commission the solar power plant within twelve months from date of issuance of Letter of Award (LoA).
  • There shall be no penalty to RPG for shortfall in solar power generation from minimum prescribed Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF).

2-       Amendments/clarifications for Component-B

  • MNRE will retain 33% of eligible service charges for nation-wide Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities.
  • For solar pumps to be set up and used by water user associations/farmer producer organisations/primary agriculture credit societies or for cluster based irrigation system, the central financial assistance (CFA) will be allowed for solar pump capacity of higher than 7.5 HP considering up to 5 HP capacity for each individual in the group.
  • Eligibility for participation in the centralised tender has also been amended.
  • As part of amended guidelines separate bid price for solar water pumping system with Universal Solar Pump Controller (USPC) will be invited and subsidy will be made available for these pumps according to benchmark price of solar pumps without USPC, even if the price discovered for solar pumps without USPC are less than benchmark price.

3-       Amendments/clarifications for Component-C

  • Ministry will also use 33% of service charges for IEC activities.
  • The provision has been made for advance release of Service charges to implementing agencies for preparatory activities.


  • Ministry – Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme was initiated by Government of India to increase the income of farmers and provide source for irrigation and de-dieselize the farm sector.
  • PM-Kusum Yojana got its administrative approval in 8th March 2019 and guidelines were framed in 22nd July 2019.
  • This scheme was launched for the installation of solar pumps and other renewable power plants across the nation.
  • This scheme is divided into three components.

Objective of PM Kusum Scheme

  • Under Kusum scheme Farmers, group of farmers, panchayat, co-operative societies can apply to plant a solar pump.
  • The total cost involved in this scheme is divided into three categories in which the Government will help farmers.
  • Government will provide a subsidy of 60% to farmers and 30% of the cost will be given by Government in form of loans.
  • Farmers will only have to give 10% of the total cost of the project.
  • The electricity generated from the solar panel can be sold by the farmers.
  • The money gained after selling electricity can further be used for starting a new business.



NTPC Develops Geo-polymer Aggregate from Fly Ash

  • NTPC Limited has successfully developed a Geo-polymer coarse aggregate from fly ash. Aggregates are commonly used in civil engineering projects to stabilise terrain.
  • These aggregates are extremely environment friendly and do not require any cement for application in concrete where the fly ash based Geopolymer mortar acts as the binding agent.
  • The Geo-polymer aggregates will help in reducing carbon emission and has great potential for reduction of water consumption.
  • The aggregate developed by NTPC from fly ash will help in meeting the demand to a great extent and also will reduce the impact on the environment caused by natural aggregates which require quarrying of natural stone.
  • The NTPC’s research project on production of geo-polymer coarse aggregates from fly ash has met the statutory parameters of Indian standards and was confirmed by the National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCCBM).



Employer Free To Reject Over-qualified Applicants: SC

  • A prospective employer has discretion not to appoint a candidate who may have a “higher qualification”, but not the one prescribed for the job vacancy, the Supreme Court has held.
  • Prescription of qualifications for a post is a matter of recruitment policy. Discretion lies with the employer.
  • Qualifications are prescribed keeping in view the need and interest of an institution or an industry or an establishment as the case may be.
  • The Courts are not fit instruments to assess expediency or advisability or utility of such prescription of qualifications.
  • But an employer cannot act arbitrarily or fancifully in prescribing qualifications for posts.
  • The judgment came on an appeal filed by the Punjab National Bank against an Orissa High Court decision allowing an over-qualified candidate to be appointed as a peon.



New Genus of Tree Frog Discovered

  • Scientists and researchers from the University of Delhi and the Zoological Survey of India have discovered a genus of tree frog found in the Andaman Islands and the northeast.
  • Named after Sri Lankan taxonomist Rohan Pethiyagoda, the frogs of the new genus Rohanixalus are characterised by a rather small and slender body (size about 2 to 3 cm long), a pair of contrastingly coloured lateral lines on either side of the body, minute brown speckles scattered throughout the upper body surfaces, and light green coloured eggs laid in arboreal bubble-nests.
  • Based on DNA studies, the new genus is also revealed to be a distinct evolutionary lineage from all previously known tree frog genera.
  • Rohanixalus is the 20th recognised genus of the family Rhacophoridae that comprises 422 known Old World tree frog species found in Asia and Africa.
  • There are eight frog species in this genus Rohanixalus, which are known to inhabit forested as well as human-dominated landscapes right from the northeast, the Andaman islands, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, up to southern China.
  • The first member of the tree frog family, Rohanixalus vittatus (Striped Bubble-nest frog), is reported from the Andaman islands.



Why Are All Satellites And Missiles Launched From The East Coast?

  • Before we discover the reason, let us know about the Earth’s rotation. When seen from the North Pole, the Earth rotates anti-clock wise.
  • It means in general term, from west to east as we see the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
  • The surface velocity of rotation varies from point to point on the Earth. It is about 1600 km per hour or about 460 meters in a second near the equator.
  • The velocity gradually reduces as we move to the poles and it is practically zero there.
  • A satellite launched from the sites near the equator towards the east direction will get an initial boost equal to the velocity of Earth surface.
  • This is similar to an athlete circling round and round before throwing a discus or a shot put.
  • The initial boost helps in cutting down the cost of rockets used to launch the satellites.
  • This is the major reason for launching satellites in the east ward direction.
  • But this benefit can be taken only for such satellites which are placed in geo-stationary orbit or which circle the Earth parallel to the equator.
  • Such satellites are usually communication satellites or satellites used for scientific research such as ISS.
  • There are other satellites which are placed in polar orbits moving across the equator in north south direction and used mainly for mapping or sometimes for spying.
  • Such satellites are generally launched in south ward or north ward direction and therefore cannot take advantage of the Earth’s rotation.
  • Another characteristic of launching satellites is that the launching stations are generally located near eastern coast line so that, just in case of failure of the launch, the satellite does not fall on built-up hinterland.


Envelope Protein E

  • Chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have determined and described the molecular structure of a protein found in SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
  • The protein, called the envelope protein E, plays a key role in the virus’s ability to replicate itself and stimulate the host cell’s inflammation response.
  • The researchers said that if ways could be devised to block this pathway of the virus, it may help reduce the pathogenicity of the virus and interfere with viral replication.
  • It is made of bundles of several helical proteins.
  • Researchers found that the part of the E protein assembles into a bundle of five helices. The helices remain largely immobile within this bundle, creating a tight channel.
  • At one end of the channel, the researchers identified several amino acids that may attract positively charged ions such as calcium into the channel.
  • They believe that the structure they have described is the closed state of the channel.
  • The researchers now hope to determine the structure of the open state, which should shed light on how the channel opens and closes.
  • The researchers also found that two drugs — amantadine, used to treat influenza, and hexamethylene amiloride, used to treat high blood pressure — can block the entrance of the E channel.
  • However, these drugs only bind weakly to the E protein.
  • If stronger inhibitors could be developed, they could be potential drug candidates to treat Covid-19.




  • In a number of countries, studies have associated vaccination against rotavirus with a small risk of an intestinal disorder, called intussusception.
  • A new study has now found that the rotavirus vaccine Rotavac, produced in India, was not associated with intussusception in Indian infants.

Rotavirus and Intussusception

  • Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in children worldwide.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, diarrhoea-related diseases account for more than 1 in 10 under-five deaths.
  • Rotavirus accounts for 37% of diarrhoea-related deaths, and 5% of all deaths in under-five children globally.
  • In India, Rotavac was developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology.
  • It was licensed by the Drugs Controller General of India in early 2014 and was introduced in phases in the National Immunisation Programme started in 2016.
  • Rotavac is an oral, live attenuated vaccine that contains a naturally occurring strain of rotavirus.
  • It is administered in a three-dose series at 6, 10, and 14 weeks of age.
  • Intussusception is a sliding of one part of the intestine into another, and is common in children (1 in 300 in Vietnam; 1 in 2,000 in the US) without a cause.
  • In adults, there is usually a reason like a tumour or other intestinal condition.
  • Intussusception is considered a common surgical emergency in children, sometimes involving obstruction of the intestine which can be fatal if not treated.


Ariel Space Mission

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted Ariel, the explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets.
  • As of now the existence of more than 4,000 exoplanets is considered confirmed, while there are thousands of other candidate exoplanets that need further observations to say for certain if they are exoplanets.
  • Proxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to Earth and is four light-years away and inhabits the “habitable zone” of its star, which means that it could possibly have liquid water on its surface.

What are exoplanets?

  • Planets that lie outside of the Solar System and orbit around stars other than the Sun are called exoplanets or extrasolar planets.
  • Exoplanets are not easy to detect since they are much less brighter than the stars they orbit and hence it is difficult to see them directly using telescopes.
  • As per NASA, only a handful of exoplanets have been found using telescopes and the rest have been detected using indirect methods.
  • One of these methods involves tracking the dimming of a star that happens when a planet passes in front of it. NASA’s Kepler Space telescope uses this method to spot thousands of planets.
  • Other methods to track exoplanets include gravitational lensing and the “wobbling method”, which is based on the idea that an orbiting planet will cause its parent star to orbit slightly off-centre.

Why do scientists study exoplanets?

  • The search for exoplanets is driven by the possibility that life may exist beyond Earth and even if there is no evidence for this, scientists believe that their hunt for an answer will reveal details about where humans came from and where we’re headed.

So what is the Ariel Space Mission?

  • Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey), which scientists are planning to launch in 2029, will perform a large-scale survey of over a thousand exoplanets over a period of four years.
  • These thousand exoplanets will range from gas giants to rocky planets, which will help them to compile a list of their compositions and properties thereby providing insights about how planetary systems form and evolve.
  • Ariel is the first mission of its kind dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of exoplanets.
  • Further, Ariel will help to answer one of the key questions of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Plan, which is, “What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?”.



US pitches for free, open Indo-Pacific in ASEAN Summit

  • United States (US) has pitched for a free and open Indo-Pacific, a strategic region that has witnessed renewed global focus in view of China’s expansionist behaviour.
  • The ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
  • A number of ASEAN countries have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
  • Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square-mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory.
  • China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region which, in parts, is claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  • Beijing has impeded commercial activity like fishing and mineral exploration by neighbouring nations in recent years, saying the ownership of the resource-rich maritime territory belongs to China for hundreds of years.
  • The 10 member countries of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
  • The East Asia Summit (EAS) is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region to deal with issues relating security and defence.
  • Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic evolution of East Asia.
  • The summit will be chaired by Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and will see participation from all the 18 EAS countries.
  • Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states, the East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Russia.



Emergency Retrieval System (ERS)

  • The Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC) has developed an indigenous technology — Emergency Retrieval System (ERS) — for quick retrieval of power transmission in the event of failure of transmission line towers.
  • ERS is a lightweight modular system that is used as temporary support structure to restore power immediately after the collapse of transmission line towers during natural calamities such as cyclone/earthquake, or man-made disruptions.
  • It can be assembled quickly at the disaster site for restoration of power in 2-3 days, whereas the permanent restoration may take several weeks.



 Lonar Lake in Maharashtra chosen as `Ramsar site’

  • The Lonar Lake in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district has been chosen as a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar conservation treaty.
  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is a treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of such sites.
  • It is named after Ramsar, the Iranian city where the treaty was signed in 1971, and places chosen for conservation under it are given the tag `Ramsar site.’
  • Lonar Lake was formed by the impact of a meteorite on basalt bedrock several thousand years ago.



Measles Cases Hit 20-year High

  • The number of measles cases worldwide surged to nearly 900,000 in 2019, the highest figure in more than two decades, underlining a significant U-turn in global progress to combat the disease.
  • Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of people dying from measles also increased by 50% since 2016, with an estimated 207,500 deaths in 2019 alone.
  • From 2000 to 2016, the number of reported measles cases decreased 84%, from 853,479 in 2000 to 132,490 in 2016.
  • Between 2016 and 2019, however, the number of cases jumped 556% from 132,490 to 869,770, the highest reported number of cases since 1996.
  • Failure to vaccinate children on time as the main driver of the increases in cases and deaths.
  • In 2019, just nine countries (Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, North Macedonia, Samoa, Tonga and Ukraine) accounted for 73% of all globally reported cases.
  • Measles, or rubeola, is a viral infection that starts in the respiratory system.
  • Current global vaccination coverage with two doses against measles is far below the 95% or higher needed to prevent outbreaks and deaths.



Tristan da Cunha

  • A community of 250 people on one of the most remote inhabited islands on Earth has made a significant contribution to marine wildlife conservation by banning bottom-trawling fishing, deep-sea mining and other harmful activities from its waters.
  • The government of Tristan da Cunha, a volcanic archipelago in the south Atlantic and part of the UK’s overseas territories, has announced that almost 700,000 sq km of its waters will become a marine protected area (MPA), the fourth largest such sanctuary in the world.
  • The community will safeguard the area’s wealth of wildlife, including sevengill sharks, the globally threatened yellow-nosed albatross and Atlantic petrel, rockhopper penguins and other birds that live there, and help the UK government achieve its target of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.



8th BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting

  • The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministers of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) met recently, to discuss S & T cooperation among the member countries.
  • The government has announced a $120 million grant for coronavirus vaccine research.
  • The grant doesn’t cover actual cost of vaccine and its distribution expenses which will be made available as and when a vaccine is made.
  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • India have recently launched a scheme ‘SERB–POWER’ (Promoting Opportunities For Women in Exploratory Research) to encourage and support emerging as well as eminent women researchers to undertake R&D activities in frontier areas of science and engineering.



Solar power station in SPACE

  • Solar power stations in space that beam ’emission-free electricity’ down to Earth could soon be a reality thanks to a UK government funded project.
  • Above the Earth there are no clouds and no day or night that could obstruct the sun’s ray – making a space solar station a constant zero carbon power source.
  • The UK government commissioned new research into the concept of space-based solar power (SBSP) stations as a way to meet the Earth’s growing energy needs.
  • The idea is that the stations would capture the Sun’s energy that never makes it to Earth and use laser beams to safely send the energy back to Earth.
  • It’s an idea first conjured by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941 in his science fiction short story Reason where it was revealed a station a mile across was used as an ‘energy converter’ to gather sunlight and beam it across the solar system.
  • Funded by the UK Space Agency and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK will explore whether this technology could offer a resilient and sustainable energy source in the future.
  • Today energy generation tends to be regional, but electricity generated by a space solar station could be beamed almost anywhere across the globe.
  • One of the biggest issues to overcome is that of getting an array of solar panels into orbit, large enough to make the project viable, at a competitive cost.
  • A typical system comprises a massive, kilometre scale Solar Power Satellite (SPS) in Geostationary Earth Orbit.
  • It has very lightweight solar panels and a system of mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the panels, generating around 3.4 GW of electricity on the satellite.
  • This is converted into high frequency radio waves, with an efficiency of 85 per cent.
  • A secure pilot beam is transmitted from the ground to the satellite to allow the power beam to lock onto the correct point.
  • The ground rectifying antenna or ‘rectenna’ converts the electromagnetic energy into direct

current electricity and then through an inverter which delivers a net 2 GW of AC power into the electricity distribution grid.


  • Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.
  • Two methods for generating solar power exist.
  • Photovoltaics — the kind of solar panel you might see built into a calculator — are capable of directly converting light into electrical power.
  • In concentrated solar power systems, however, mirrors or lenses are first used to collect the sunlight that falls on a large area and focus it — creating heat that can be used to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity.
  • The productivity of solar panels is dependant on the sunlight they receive in a given location — a factor which is dependant on both latitude and climate.
  • Optimum locations for solar farms include the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts lying at such low latitudes often being cloudless and getting around 10 hours of sunlight each day.
  • According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara — the Libyan Desert — is the sunniest place on the Earth.
  • Solar power accounted for 1.7 per cent of the world’s electricity production in 2017, and has been growing at a rate of 35 per cent each year.

Daily Mail 

Que-  Masatoshi Koshiba, a co-winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics for confirming the existence of elementary particles called neutrinos, has died recently, belongs to which country?

a) China

b) Japan

c) South Korea

d) Philippines

Ans-     (b)

  • Koshiba devised the construction of giant underground chambers to detect neutrinos, elusive particles that stream from the sun.
  • Neutrinos offer a unique view of the sun’s inner workings because they are produced in its heart by the same process that causes the sun to shine.

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