Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility L58 Commissioned
Why in News?
- Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility (LCU) L58, the eighth and last ship of the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mark IV Class, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- Indigenously designed and built by GRSE, Kolkata.
- The LCU 58 is an amphibious ship which can carry 160 troops, in addition to its crew.
- The ship is capable of carrying various types of combat vehicles such as Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), BMPs, Armoured Vehicles, trucks, etc.
- The ship is also fitted with an advanced Electronic Support Measure (ESM) suite to intercept enemy radar transmissions, an advanced Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and a sophisticated Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), which allow single station monitoring of the ship’s navigational and machinery equipment respectively.
Vehicle Scrapping Policy
Why in News?
- Minister for Road Transport and Highways, announced the Vehicle Scrapping Policy in Lok Sabha.
- “Older vehicles pollute the environment 10 to 12 times more than fit vehicles and pose a risk to road safety”.
- “In the interest of a clean environment and rider and pedestrian safety, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is introducing the Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernization Program (VVMP) or “Vehicle Scrapping Policy” which is aimed at creating an Eco-System for phasing out of Unfit and Polluting Vehicles”.
Objective of the Policy
- To reduce population of old and defective vehicles, achieve reduction in vehicular air pollutants to fulfil India’s climate commitments, improve road and vehicular safety, achieve better fuel efficiency, formalize the currently informal vehicle scrapping industry and boost availability of low-cost raw materials for automotive, steel and electronics industry.
- The criteria is adapted from international best practices after a comparative study of standards from various countries like Germany, UK, USA and Japan.
- A Vehicle failing the fitness test or failing to get a renewal of its registration certificate may be declared as End of Life Vehicle.
- Criteria to determine vehicle fitness will be primarily emission tests, braking, safety equipment, among many other tests which are as per the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
The Policy proposes the following—
- It is proposed that commercial vehicles be de-registered after 15 years in case of failure to get the fitness certificate. As a disincentive measure, increased fees for fitness certificate and fitness test may be applicable for commercial vehicles 15 year onwards from the date of initial registration.
- It is proposed that Private Vehicles be de-registered after 20 years if found unfit or in case of a failure to renew registration certificate. As a disincentive measure, increased re-registration fees will be applicable for private vehicles 15 year onwards from the date of initial registration.
- It is being proposed that all vehicles of the Central Government, State Government, Municipal Corporation, Panchayats, State Transport Undertakings, Public Sector Undertakings and autonomous bodies with the Union and State Governments may be de-registered and scrapped after 15 years from the date of registration.
- The scheme shall provide strong incentives to owners of old vehicles to scrap old and unfit vehicles through registered scrapping centres, which shall provide the owners with a scrapping certificate. Some of these incentives include:
(A) Scrap Value for the old vehicle given by the scrapping centre, which is approximately 4-6% of ex-showroom price of a new vehicle.
(B) The state governments may be advised to offer a road- tax rebate of up to 25% for personal vehicles and up to 15% for commercial vehicles
(C) The vehicle manufacturers are also advised for providing a discount of 5% on purchase of new vehicle against the scrapping certificate.
(D) In addition, the registration fees may also be waived for purchase of new vehicle against the scrapping certificate.
US India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI) Initiative launched
Why in News?
- Indo-US relationship in the field of S&T is very old collaborations have resulted in great benefits for both the countries.
- A bilateral organization funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Governments of India, and the U.S. Department of States.
- Research, technology in artificial intelligence is being promoted and implemented in the country through a network of 25 technology hubs working as a triple helix set up under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS).
- S. India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI) will serve as a platform to discuss opportunities, challenges, and barriers for bilateral AI R&D collaboration, enable AI innovation, help share ideas for developing an AI workforce, and recommend modes and mechanisms for catalyzing partnerships.
High Electron Mobility Transistor
Why in News?
- Scientists from Bangalore have developed a highly reliable, High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMTs) that is a normally OFF device and can switch currents up to 4A and operates at 600V.
- This first-ever indigenous HEMT device made from gallium nitride (GaN) is useful in electric cars, locomotives, power transmission and other areas requiring high voltage and high-frequency switching would reduce the cost of importing such stable and efficient transistors required in power electronics.
- Power electronic systems demand high blocking voltage in OFF-state and high current in ON-state for efficient switching performance.
- Specific transistors called HEMTs made of aluminium gallium nitride/ gallium nitride (AlGaN/GaN) provides an edge over silicon-based transistors as they allow the systems to operate at very high voltages, switch ON and OFF faster, and occupy less space.
- The developed technology is a first of its kind, which uses a type of chemical called ternary oxide (composed of two different metal ions combined in an oxide matrix or Al, Ti and O), which behaves like material having larger positive charge concentration (p-type material).
- It does away with intrinsic reliability and performance issues of the in-use industrial techniques for e-mode HEMTs, allowing the development of efficient power switching systems.
- The scientists used aluminium titanium oxide as the gate oxide, where the percentage of aluminium could be controlled during the fabrication process.
- Since aluminium titanium oxide is stable, it resulted in high reliability of the transistor.
Artificial photosynthesis to provide solutions for carbon capture and conversion
Why in News?
- Scientists have found a method to mimic nature’s own process of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, namely photosynthesis, to capture excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- This artificial photosynthesis (AP) harnesses solar energy and converts the captured carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide (CO), which can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines.
- A team of Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research designed and fabricated an integrated catalytic system based on a metal-organic framework (MOF-808) comprising of a photosensitizer (molecules which absorb light and transfer the electron from the incident light into another nearby molecule) that can harness solar power and a catalytic centre that can eventually reduce CO2.
- The scientists have immobilized a photosensitizer, which is a chemical called ruthenium bipyridyl complex ([Ru(bpy)2Cl2]) and a catalytic part which is another chemical called rhenium carbonyl complex ([Re(CO)5Cl]), inside the nanospace of metal-organic framework for artificial photosynthesis.
- Both these molecular entities stay in close proximity in the confined nano-space of a porous metal-organic framework system resulting in excellent CO2 uptake capability at room temperature. This synthetic strategy empowers efficient solar light-driven photocatalysis.
- The developed catalyst exhibited excellent visible-light-driven CO2 reduction to CO with more than 99% selectivity. The catalyst also oxidizes water to produce oxygen (O2).
SERB Women Excellence Award
Why in News?
- Sonu Gandhi, a Scientist at the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad, who has recently developed a smart nanodevice for the detection of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and Japanese encephalitis (JE), has been awarded the prestigious SERB Women Excellence Award.
- The award instituted by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), recognises and rewards outstanding research achievements of young women scientists in frontier areas of Science and Engineering.
- The smart nanodevice helped in detection of the biomarkers of the diseases using graphene functionalised with amine and conjugated with specific antibodies.
- The developed sensor offers several key advantages, such as ultra-high sensitivity, ease of operation, and a short response time, that can be easily integrated into a chip for point-of-care testing.
- The developed sensor exhibited a clear advantage over conventional techniques, and it is highly sensitive. They can improve early diagnosis of the diseases, ensuring prompt, more effective, and less expensive treatment.
- Her work is based on understanding the mechanism of interaction between nanomaterials and biomolecules on the surface of devices called transducers that receive energy from one system and transmit it for the development of a new generation of biosensors for clinical diagnosis of bacterial and viral disease, veterinary and agricultural applications, food analysis and environmental monitoring.
Van Dhan Vikas Yojana
- The Van Dhan Vikas Yojana is a programme for value addition, branding & marketing of Minor Forest Produces by establishing Van Dhan Kendras to facilitate creation of sustainable livelihoods for the forest-based tribes.
- One major scheme that has contributed to increasing employment and income generation among the tribal population is the Van Dhan tribal start-ups programme, a component of the The ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ Scheme.
- Manipur, in particular, which has emerged as the Champion state where the Van Dhan programme has emerged as a major source of employment for the local tribals.
- Since the time that the programme was launched in the State in October 2019, 100 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras have been established.
- These constitute 1500 SHGs and are benefitting 30,000 tribal entrepreneurs, who are involved in collection, processing, value adding, packaging and marketing of value added products from Minor Forest produce.
New Assam plant species may aid anti-cancer battle
Why in News?
- Researchers of western Assam’s Bodoland University have recorded a new plant species that may go a long way in fighting cancer.
- The species, named Ophiorrhiza recurvipetala, has been found at 675 metres above mean sea level in central Assam’s Dima Hasao district. It has been classified under the Rubiaceae family of flowering plants, to which the plant yielding coffee belongs.
- Recurvipetala means petals curved back.
- Ophiorrhiza is a predominantly herbaceous genus distributed from eastern India to the West Pacific from South China to northern Australia.
- According to the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2017, it is a notably species-rich and taxonomically complicated genus with about 318 species worldwide.
- In India, 47 species and nine varieties have been recorded and among them 21 species and one variety are from the northeast.
- The Ophiorrhiza recurvipetala is a perennial herb with a maximum height of 60 cm and is branched. It yields a creamy white flower.
Russia hosts Afghan peace meet
Why in News?
- Russia hosted a peace conference for Afghanistan, bringing together government representatives and their Taliban adversaries along with international observers in a bid to help jump-start the country’s stalled peace process.
- The one-day gathering is the first of three planned international conferences ahead of a May 1 deadline for the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from the country, a date fixed under a year-old agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban.
- The Moscow conference is attended by U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s National Reconciliation Council, and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Representatives of Pakistan, Iran, India and China are also participating.
- Moscow, which fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with Soviet troops’ withdrawal in 1989, has made a diplomatic comeback as a mediator in Afghanistan.
Digital Green Certificates
Why in News?
- The European Commission proposed to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate the safe and free movement of citizens within the European Union (EU) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, what exactly is the Digital Green Certificate?
- A Digital Green Certificate is proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from COVID-19.
- The key features of the certificate are that it will be in digital or paper format complete with a QR code and will be free of charge.
- Once the proposal for digital certificates is finalised, it will be accepted in all EU countries and will help to ensure that the restrictions imposed in different areas within the EU can be lifted in a coordinated manner.
- All EU citizens or third-country nationals who are legally staying in the EU will be able to use these digital certificates and thereby will be exempted from free movement restrictions.
Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project
Why in News?
- Rajasthan Chief Minister has been strongly demanding national project status for the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP).
- While very little work could be started on the project owing to its high costs, ERCP is crucial to ensure water for drinking and irrigation in 13 districts of eastern Rajasthan.
What is the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)?
- The Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project aims to harvest surplus water available during the rainy season in rivers in southern Rajasthan such as Chambal and its tributaries including Kunnu, Parvati, Kalisindh and use this water in south-eastern districts of the state where there is a scarcity of water for drinking and irrigation.
- According to the state Water Resources Department, Rajasthan, the largest state of India with a geographical area of 342.52 lakh hectares which amount to 10.4 per cent of the entire country, holds only 1.16 per cent of India’s surface water and 1.72 per cent of groundwater.
- Among the state’s water bodies, only the Chambal river basin has surplus water but this water cannot be tapped directly because the area around the Kota barrage is designated as a crocodile sanctuary.
MMDR Amendment Bill, 2021
Why in News?
- Coal and Mines Minister has introduced the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha to streamline the renewal of the auction process for minerals and coal mining rights.
What are the key changes?
- The amendment proposes to allow captive miners of both coal and other minerals to sell up to 50 per cent of their production after meeting the requirements of the end-use plant and on paying additional royalty to the state government.
- Operators are currently only allowed to use coal and minerals extracted from captive mines for their own industrial use.
- The amendment also proposes to fix additional royalty payments to states for the extension of mining leases for central public sector enterprises.
- Disagreements over the additional royalty to be paid by state-owned NMDC to the Karnataka government for the extension of mining rights at the Donimalai mine had led to NMDC suspending operations at the mine for over two years.
- Another key change the Bill proposes is to empower the central government to conduct auctions or re-auction processes for the grant of a mining lease if a state government fails to complete the auction process in a specified period, decided after consultations between the Centre and state.
Why in News?
- Second vessel in two weeks appears to float above UK waters.
- It is caused by a meteorological phenomenon called a temperature inversion.
- Normally, the air temperature drops with increasing altitude, making mountaintops colder than the foothills.
- But in a temperature inversion, warm air sits on top of a band of colder air, playing havoc with our visual perception.
- Both the Cornwall and Bournemouth instances were caused by chilly air lying over the relatively cold sea, with warmer air above.
Oceans may emit more ozone-depleting gases
- Oceans may start releasing chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), a class of ozone-depleting chemicals, at a faster rate due to rising global temperatures, according a recent study.
- Changes in oceanic levels of this gas have been shown to affect changes in its atmospheric concentrations.
- The researchers observed that oceans, which are a vast repository for gases, would emit more CFC-11 (trichlorofluoromethane) by 2075 than they absorb.
- They would emit detectable amounts of the chemical by 2130. The shift will occur 10 years earlier due to climate change.
- Climate change stands poised to change average temperatures and circulation patterns in the ocean, thus facilitating this outgassing process. Climate change is however expected to start impacting ocean circulation patterns in the Northern Hemisphere first.
- CFCs are more soluble when sea surface temperatures are low.
- CFCs are stringently controlled after 196 countries in the United Nations came together under the 1987 Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer. But the CFC levels coming out of the ocean will be high by the first half of the 22nd century.