Current Affairs Apr 6

World’s highest Railway Bridge

Why in News?

  • The bridge runs over Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. The bridge, which is 35-metre higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  • The 1.3 kilometre-long bridge aims to boost connectivity to the Kashmir Valley and is being constructed at a cost of ₹1,486 crore as part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project.
  • The bridge is part of an ambitious 272-km rail link project and is being constructed by the Northern Railway.
  • The bridge will be able to withstand earthquakes with a magnitude of up to eight and high-intensity blasts.
  • Steel was specifically chosen for the construction of the bridge as it will make the project more economical. The metal will also be able to resist temperatures of minus 20 degree Celsius and wind speeds of above 200 kilometre per hour.
  • The preparations of the rail link began in 2002 and the initial plan was to connect Kashmir’s northernmost city Baramulla to New Delhi.
  • Work on the bridge started again in July 2017 with the aim of completing the construction by the end of 2019.




MoU to develop blockchain-powered traceability Interface for Indian spices

Why in News?

  • Spices Board India under Ministry of Commerce and Industry and UNDP India’s Accelerator Lab signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the aim to build a blockchain based traceability interface for Indian spices to enhance transparency in supply chain and trade.


  • Blockchain is a decentralized process of recording transactions on an open and shared electronic ledger.
  • This allows for ease and transparency in data management across a complex network, including, farmers, brokers, distributors, processors, retailers, regulators, and consumers, thus simplifying the supply chain.
  • It will allow farmers just as all other members of the supply chain to access the information which further makes the entire supply chain more efficient and equitable.

About Spices Board

  • Spices Board is one of the five Commodity Boards functioning under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • It is an autonomous body responsible for the export promotion of the 52 scheduled spices and development of Cardamom (Small & Large).
  • The main functions of the Spices Board are the following:
  • (i) Research, Development and Regulation of domestic marketing of Small & Large Cardamom;
  • (ii) Post-harvest improvement of all spices;
  • (iii) Export promotion of all spices and assisting exporters in technology upgradation, quality management, brand promotion, research & product development;
  • (iv) Development of spices in the North East;
  • (v) Regulation of quality of spices for exports through its quality evaluation services; etc.

About UNDP

  • UNDP works across 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet. Help countries develop strong policies, skills, partnerships, and institutions so they can sustain their progress.
  • UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development, from systems strengthening to inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods, as well as sustainable energy, environment, and resilience.
  • UNDP’s programmes continue to integrate a global vision for catalytic change with India’s national priorities.
  • With over 30 projects on the ground in almost every state, today, it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by transforming traditional models to do development differently.




Exercise La Perouse

Why in News?

  • Indian Navy Ships INS Satpura (with an integral helicopter embarked) and INS Kiltan alongwith P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft are participating, for the first time; in multi-lateral maritime exercise La Pérouse, being conducted in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region from 05 to 07 Apr 2021.
  • The Indian Navy ships and aircraft will exercise at sea with ships and aircraft of French Navy (FN), Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and United States Navy (USN) during the three day exercise at sea.

Exercise La Pérouse

  • It will witness complex and advanced naval operations including surface warfare, anti-air warfare and air defence exercises, weapon firing exercises, cross deck flying operations, tactical manoeuvres and seamanship evolutions such as replenishment at sea.
  • The exercise will showcase high levels of synergy, coordination and inter-operability between the friendly navies.




DRDO develops Advanced Chaff Technology

Why in News?

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard the naval ships against enemy missile attack.
  • Defence Laboratory Jodhpur (DLJ), a DRDO laboratory, has indigenously developed three variants of this critical technology namely Short Range Chaff Rocket (SRCR), Medium Range Chaff Rocket (MRCR) and Long Range Chaff Rocket (LRCR).

About Chaff

  • Chaff is a passive expendable electronic countermeasure technology used worldwide to protect naval ships from enemy’s radar and Radio Frequency (RF) missile seekers.
  • The importance of this development lies in the fact that very less quantity of chaff material deployed in the air acts as decoy to deflect enemy’s missiles for safety of the ships.




Mango Variety That Bears Fruits Round the Year

Why in News?

  • Shrikishan Suman (55 years), a farmer from Kota, Rajasthan, has developed an innovative mango variety which is a regular and round-the-year dwarf variety of mango called Sadabahar, which is resistant to most major diseases and common mango disorders.


  • The fruit is sweeter in taste, comparable to langra and being a dwarf variety, is suitable for kitchen gardening, high-density plantation, and can be grown in pots for some years too.
  • Besides, the flesh of the fruits, which is bourn round the year, is deep orange with sweet taste, and the pulp has very less fiber content which differentiates it from other varieties.
  • For this evergreen variety developed, Shrikishan Suman was conferred the NIF’s 9th National Grassroots Innovation and Traditional Knowledge Award and subsequently recognised at various other fora.




 National Maritime Day-2021

  • National Maritime Day is an annual celebration on April 5th. This year, India will mark its 58th edition of National Maritime Day. The first celebration took place in 1964 to spread awareness about intercontinental commerce and the economy.
  • The day is celebrated every year to support the global economy, the most well-organized, safe and sound environmentally responsive way of transporting goods from one corner to another corner in this world.

National Maritime Day history

  • The legacy of Indian shipping first started on April 5th, 1919, when the first ship The SS Loyalty manufactured by The Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. sailed from Mumbai to the United Kingdom.
  • India also became a member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1959. IMO is responsible for maritime protection and preventing pollution from ships.

National Maritime Day awards

  • On National Maritime Day, an award ceremony is organised to recognize the efforts made by people for the Indian Maritime Sector. The Varuna Award that consists of a statue of Lord Varuna and a scroll is awarded to them for their long and exceptional contribution.
  • The NMD award is also given to the people for their excellence for the lifelong contribution and distinguished achievements at the senior functional level in the maritime sector. The award consists of a trophy and a citation.
  • In order to acknowledge the efforts of distinguished individuals in the sector of maritime education and training, the Outstanding Contribution to Maritime Education and Training award is given to them.




Police officer scales yet another summit

Why in News?

  • R. Radhika, Superintendent of Police, Cyber Crimes APCID, added another feather to her cap by climbing a lofty peak in the Himalayas in Nepal.
  • Her accomplishments include scaling of Mt. Golep Kangri (5,995 m) in Ladakh in 2013, Mt. Menthosa (6443) m in Himachal Pradesh in July 2014, Mt. Everest in 2016 and Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895 m), the highest peak in the African continent.




Centre promulgates Tribunals Reforms Ordinance

  • In as many as nine laws, the Centre has replaced the existing appellate authorities and vested those powers in the High Courts through an ordinance, the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance 2021.
  • These laws are Cinematograph Act; Copyright Act; Customs Act; Patents Act; Airports Authority of India Act; Trade Marks Act ; Geographical Indications of Goods (registration and protection) Act; Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act and Control of National Highways (land and traffic) Act.
  • For example, in the Cinematograph Act, the appellate body will now be the High Court instead of the tribunal while the commercial court or the commercial divisions of the High Court will be the appellate body in the Copyright Act.
  • Similar changes will be made in the Patents Act, Customs Act and Trade Marks Act to vest the power of appeal in High Court.
  • Amendments have been introduced to the Finance Act 2017 involving the qualifications and tenure of the Chairperson and members of Tribunals.
  • The tenure of Chairperson of a Tribunal has been fixed for a term of four years or till the age of 70, whichever is earlier.
  • Members of a tribunal will also have a tenure of four years or until they turn 67.




March was third warmest in 121 years

Why in News?

  • March was third warmest in 121 years in terms of monthly average maximum temperature, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
  • The observed monthly average maximum, minimum and mean temperature for the country as a whole during March this year are 32.65 degrees Celsius, 19.95 degrees Celsius and 26.30 degrees Celsius, respectively, against the normal 31.24 degrees Celsius, 18.87 degrees Celsius and 25.06 degrees Celsius based on the climatology period 1981-2010.
  • “The all India average monthly maximum temperature during March 2021 with 32.65 degrees Celsius is the warmest in the last 11 years, and third warmest in the last 121 years with 2010 and 2004 as the ever warmest and second warmest month with 33.09 degrees Celsius and 32.82 degrees Celsius, respectively”.




Brain waves measured using ear implants

  • For the first time, researchers at the University of Leuven, Belgium have succeeded in measuring brain waves directly through ear implants. These brain waves indicate how good or bad a person’s hearing is.
  • This finding to help manufacturers further develop smart hearing aids. It can measure larger brain responses than the traditional electrodes planted on the head.
  • An ear implant enables people with severe hearing loss to hear again.
  • Researchers believe that the new development can adjust the implant based on brain waves and help to get a measurement that does not depend on the user’s input.
  • They also expect that audiologists can consult the data remotely and adjust the implant where necessary, without the user going through testing at the hospital.




Overfishing of Atlantic cod

  • Overfishing likely did not cause the Atlantic cod, an iconic species, to evolve genetically and mature earlier.
  • Evolution has been used in part as an excuse for why cod and other species have not recovered from overfishing.
  • In the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, cod range from Greenland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. In U.S. waters, cod is most common on Georges Bank and in the western Gulf of Maine, but both fish stocks are overfished. Cod can reach 51 inches long, weigh up to 77 pounds and live more than 20 years.
  • Many debates over the last few decades have centered on whether cod have evolved in response to fisheries, a phenomenon known as fisheries-induced evolution.
  • The concern has been that if the fish have evolved, they may not be able to recover even if fishing is reduced.
  • Cod populations with late-maturing individuals can produce more offspring and more effectively avoid predators. They are also better protected against climate variability, more stable and less likely to collapse.



Lightning strikes will more than double in Arctic

  • In 2019, the National Weather Service in Alaska reported spotting the first-known lightning strikes within 300 miles of the North Pole. Lightning strikes are almost unheard of above the Arctic Circle.
  • Arctic lightning strikes stand to increase by about 100 percent over northern lands by the end of the century as the climate continues warming.
  • By using future climate projections from multiple models used by the United Nations, the team estimated a significant increase in lightning strikes as a result of increases in atmospheric convection and more intense thunderstorms.
  • Fires, burn away short grasses, mosses, and shrubs that are important components of Arctic tundra ecosystems.
  • Such plants cover much of the landscape, and one thing they do is keep the seeds of trees from taking root in the soil.
  • After a fire burns away low-lying plants, however, seeds from trees can more easily grow on bare soil, allowing forests stands to expand north.
  • Evergreen forests will replace what’s typically a snow-covered landscape; snow’s white hue reflects sunlight back out into space, but darker forests absorb solar energy, helping warm the region even further.
  • More fires mean more permafrost—perennially frozen soil that defines much of the Arctic landscape—will melt as the fires strip away protective insulative layers of moss and dead organic matter that keep soils cool.
  • Permafrost stores a lot of organic carbon that, if melted out of the ice, will convert to greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, which, when released, will drive even more warming.



Size of Raindrops

Why in News?

  • In a recent paper, Harvard researchers found that raindrops are remarkably similar across different planetary environments, even planets as drastically different as Earth and Jupiter.
  • Understanding the behavior of raindrops on other planets is key to not only revealing the ancient climate on planets like Mars but identifying potentially habitable planets outside our solar system.
  • The humble raindrop is a vital component of the precipitation cycle for all planets.
  • An essential aspect of raindrop behavior, at least to climate modelers, is whether or not the raindrop makes it to the surface of the planet because water in the atmosphere plays a big role in planetary climate.
  • Too big and the drop will break apart due to insufficient surface tension, regardless of whether it’s water, methane or superheated, liquid iron as on an exoplanet called WASP-76b. Too small and the drop will evaporate before hitting the surface.
  • Drop shapes are the same across different rain materials and primarily depend on how heavy the drop is.
  • Raindrops are actually spherical when small, becoming squashed as they grow larger until they transition into a shape like the top of a hamburger bun. Falling speed depends on this shape as well as gravity and the thickness of the surrounding air.
  • Evaporation speed is more complicated, influenced by atmospheric composition, pressure, temperature, relative humidity and more.



Aluminum-anode batteries

  • Researchers have been exploring the use of low-cost materials to create rechargeable batteries that will make energy storage more affordable. Now, they have shown that a new technique incorporating aluminum results in rechargeable batteries that offer up to 10,000 error-free cycles.
  • This new kind of battery could provide a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to lithium-ion batteries, which currently dominate the market but are slow to charge and have a knack for catching fire.
  • Among the advantages of aluminum is that it is abundant in the earth’s crust, it is trivalent and light, and it therefore has a high capacity to store more energy than many other metals.
  • However, aluminum can be tricky to integrate into a battery’s electrodes. It reacts chemically with the glass fiber separator, which physically divides the anode and the cathode, causing the battery to short circuit and fail.
  • The researchers’ solution was to design a substrate of interwoven carbon fibers that forms an even stronger chemical bond with aluminum.
  • When the battery is charged, the aluminum is deposited into the carbon structure via covalent bonding, i.e., the sharing of electron pairs between aluminum and carbon atoms.
  • While electrodes in conventional rechargeable batteries are only two dimensional, this technique uses a three-dimensional—or nonplanar—architecture and creates a deeper, more consistent layering of aluminum that can be finely controlled.
  • The aluminum-anode batteries can be reversibly charged and discharged one or more orders of magnitude more times than other aluminum rechargeable batteries under practical conditions.