Allotment of 5 MHz spectrum in 700 MHz band to Indian Railways
Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the proposal for allotment of 5 MHz Spectrum in 700 MHz frequency band to Indian Railways for public safety and security services at stations and in trains.
- With this spectrum, Indian Railways has envisaged to provide LTE (Long Term Evolution) based Mobile Train Radio Communication on its route. The estimated investment in the project is more than Rs. 25,000 Crore. The project will be completed in the next 5 years.
- Indian Railways has approved TCAS (Train Collision Avoidance System), an indigenously developed ATP (Automatic Train Protection) System, which will help in avoiding train collisions thereby reducing accidents and ensuring passenger safety.
- The purpose of the LTE for Indian Railways is to provide secure and reliable voice, video and data communication services for operational, safety and security applications.
- It will be used for modern signalling and train protection systems and ensure seamless communication between loco pilots and guards.
- It will also enable Internet of Things (IoT) based remote asset monitoring especially of coaches, wagons & locos, and live video feed of CCTV cameras in the train coaches to ensure efficient, safer and faster train operations.
Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021
Why in News?
- Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted conditional exemption to Survey of India (Sol) from Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021.
- The drone deployment permission has been granted for large scale mapping of inhabited areas of villages under the central government scheme – Survey of villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA).
- The SVAMITVA scheme aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India.
- The demarcation of Abadi areas (the Abadi area includes inhabitant land, inhabited areas contiguous to Abadi and wadis/basties in rural areas) would be done using Drone Surveying technology, with the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Department, State Revenue Department.
- This permission grant will allow Large Scale Mapping (LSM) by Survey of India using drones.
- The aerial surveillance would generate high resolution and accurate maps to confer ownership property rights. Based on these maps or data, property cards would be issued to the rural household owners.
- SVAMITVA, a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj was nationally launched by the Prime Minister on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th April 2021 after successful completion of the pilot phase of the Scheme in 9 States.
- SVAMITVA Scheme aims to provide property rights to the residents of rural inhabited areas in India by using Drone survey and CORS Networks which provides mapping accuracy of 5 cms.
- The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is the Nodal Ministry for implementation of the SVAMITVA scheme.
- In the States, the Revenue Department/Land Records Department will be the Nodal Department and shall carry out the scheme with the support of State Panchayati Raj Departments.
INDO-THAI COORDINATED PATROL (CORPAT)
Why in News?
- The 31st edition of India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) between the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy is being conducted from 09 – 11 June 2021 in the Andaman Sea.
- Indian Naval Ship (INS) Saryu, an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel and His Majesty’s Thailand Ship (HTMS) Krabi, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, along with Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies are participating in the CORPAT.
- Towards reinforcing maritime links between the two countries and with an aim of keeping this vital part of the Indian Ocean safe and secure for international trade, the two navies have been undertaking CORPAT bi-annually along their International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) since 2005.
- CORPAT builds up understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitates institution of measures to prevent and suppress unlawful activities like Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery and piracy.
- As part of Government of India’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), the Indian Navy has been proactively engaging with the countries in the Indian Ocean Region towards enhancing regional maritime security.
- This has been through bilateral and multilateral exercises, Coordinated Patrols, Joint EEZ Surveillance, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)
- Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) is India’s policy or doctrine of maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.
- As part of SAGAR the Indian Navy has assisted countries in the Indian Ocean region with exclusive economic zone surveillance, search and rescue, and other such activities.
‘Demand Based Tele Agriculture Advisories’ to farmers
Why in News?
- In order to facilitate farmers by providing location specific ‘Demand Based Tele Agriculture Advisories’, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Digital India Corporation (DIC) have signed an MoU.
- The objective of the MoU is to integrate the existing Interactive Information Dissemination System (IIDS) platform of DIC with the proposed KisanSarathi program of ICAR and its implementation through ICAR network to reach a large number of farmers across the country.
Early Detect Tropical Cyclones
Why in News?
- Indian Scientists have found a promising technique for early detection of development or strengthening of tropical cyclones in the atmospheric column prior to satellite detection over ocean surface in North Indian Ocean region.
- So far, remote sensing techniques have detected them the earliest.
- However, this detection was possible only after system developed as a well-marked low-pressure system over the warm ocean surface.
- A larger time gap between the detection and the impact of the cyclone could help preparation activities.
- Prior to the formation of cyclonic system over the warm oceanic environment, the initial atmospheric instability mechanism, as well as the vortex development, is triggered at higher atmospheric levels.
- These cyclonic eddies are prominent features in the vertical atmospheric column encompassing the disturbance environment with a potential to induce and develop into a well-marked cyclonic depression over the warm ocean surface. They could be used for detection of prediction of cyclones.
- A team of Scientists devised a novel method using Eddy detection technique to investigate the formative stages and advance detection time of tropical cyclogenesis in the North Indian Ocean region.
- The method developed by the scientists’ aims to identify initial traces of pre-cyclonic eddy vortices in the atmospheric column and track its Spatio-temporal evolution.
- The method could bring about genesis of prediction with a minimum of four days (~ 90 h) lead time for cyclones developed during the pre-and post-monsoon seasons.
India Can Save Logistics Fuel Worth ₹311 Lakh Crore between 2020 and 2050
Why in News?
- NITI Aayog, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and RMI India’s new report,Fast Tracking Freight in India: A Roadmap for Clean and Cost-Effective Goods Transport,presents key opportunities for India to reduce its logistics costs.
- Due to the rising demand for goods and services, freight transport demand is expected to grow rapidly in the future.
- While freight transport is essential to economic development, it is plagued by high logistics costs and contributes to rising CO2 emissions and air pollution in cities.
According to the report, India has the potential to:
- Reduce its logistics cost by 4% of GDP
- Achieve 10 gigatonnes of cumulative CO2 emissions savings between 2020 and 2050
- Reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions by 35% and 28%, respectively, until 2050
- As India’s freight activity grows five-fold by 2050 and about 400 million citizens move to cities, a whole system transformation can help uplift the freight sector.
- This transformation will be defined by tapping into opportunities such as efficient rail-based transport, the optimisation of logistics and supply chains, and shift to electric and other clean-fuel vehicles. These solutions can help India save ₹311 lakh crore cumulatively over the next three decades.
- The report outlines solutions for the freight sector related to policy, technology, market, business models and infrastructure development.
- The recommendations include increasing the rail network’s capacity, promoting intermodal transport, improving warehousing and trucking practices, policy measures and pilot projects for clean technology adoption, and stricter fuel economy standards.
Aurora borealis mystery
- Aurora borealis, also known as northern lights, is phenomenon that has been studied for decades.
- Now, a new paper has decoded its origin.
- The researchers note that interaction between electrons and Alfvén waves (a type of electromagnetic wave) plays an important role.
Earth vs Meteorite
- Every year thousands of meteorites land on the Earth.
- By studying over 10,000 different meteorites that represent the past 500 million years, researchers have now described the major collision events Earth has witnessed.
- “Future impact from even a small asteroid for example in the sea close to a populated area could lead to disastrous outcomes. This study provides an important understanding that can be used to prevent this from happening; for example, by attempting to influence the trajectory of rapidly approaching celestial bodies”.
Take a break
- Planning to learn a new skill? Take short breaks from practice, says a new study.
- The team studied the brain waves of right-handed volunteers when they learnt to type with their left hand. They saw that memory was strengthened after a rest phase.
- “Results support the idea that wakeful rest plays just as important a role as practice in learning a new skill. It appears to be the period when our brains compress and consolidate memories of what we just practiced”.
- Turbulent winds and gusts are known to influence the flight of birds and a new study has pointed out that golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) flying in the wild, maybe using this turbulence to their advantage.
- By studying wind speed data and eagle’s accelerations the team notes that there may be a linear relationship between the two.
- Understanding this in detail can help us design aircraft that can fly in turbulent environments.
- Two new studies in mice have found out the origin of immune cells that surround the brain and spinal cord.
- The immune cells are “supplied not from the blood, but by the adjacent skull and vertebral bone marrow,” notes the study.
- “Understanding where these cells come from and how they behave is a critical part of understanding the basic mechanisms of neuro-immune interactions, so can design new therapeutic approaches for neurological conditions associated with inflammation”.
Carbon dioxide in the air at highest level
Why in News?
- Despite a massive reduction in commuting and in many commercial activities during the early months of the pandemic, the amount of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere in May reached its highest level in modern history, a global indicator released recently showed.
- The findings, based on the amount of carbon dioxide in the air at NOAA’s weather station on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, was the highest since measurements began 63 years ago.
- The measurement, called the Keeling Curve after Charles David Keeling, the scientist who began tracking carbon dioxide there in 1958, is a global benchmark for atmospheric carbon levels.
- Because carbon dioxide is a key driver of climate change, the findings show that reducing the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and other practices that lead to carbon emissions must be a top priority to avoid catastrophic consequences.
- The amount of carbon in the air now is as much as it was about 4 million years ago, a time when sea level was 78 feet higher than it is today and the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it was before the Industrial Revolution.
- Despite the pandemic lockdown, scientists were not able to see a drop in the overall amount of carbon in the atmosphere partly because of wildfires, which also release carbon, as well as the natural behavior of carbon in the atmosphere.
The Keeling Curve
- The Keeling Curve is a graph that represents the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. The Keeling Curve is named after its creator, Dr. Charles David Keeling.
- Keeling began studying atmospheric carbon dioxide in 1956 by taking air samples and measuring the amount of CO2 they contained. Over time he noticed a pattern.
- The air samples taken at night contained a higher concentration of CO2 compared to samples taken during the day.
- He drew on his understanding of photosynthesis and plant respiration to explain this observation: plants take in CO2 during the day to photosynthesize—or make food for themselves—but at night, they release CO2.
Why in News?
- Scientists at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) have reported that anaemia — reduced haemoglobin or red blood cells — is high in rural, poor children while iron deficiency is more among the urban and rich across the country.
- Scientists analysed data on iron deficiency in the blood samples collected in the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) conducted in 2016-18 under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- The study showed about 30-32% pre-school children and adolescent girls had iron deficiency whereas this proportion was lower (11-15%) in case of children aged 5-9 years.
- When anaemia prevalence increases in subsequent surveys, usually, iron supplementation interventions through supplemental iron tablets or iron fortification of foods are intensified.
- Anaemia manifests when iron deficiency is severe, so it is expected that iron deficiency may affect the majority of the population.
- Measurement of iron deficiency in blood samples are expensive, population level surveys, therefore, usually measure only haemoglobin in the blood often used as a proxy to estimate the iron deficiency in the population.
- Diet quality is important for efficient haemoglobin synthesis, as iron is not the only nutrient required; many other nutrients are also essential.
- Underutilisation of iron for haemoglobin synthesis in poorer communities could be linked with overall low diet quality like low intake of animal source foods and fruits.
- Highly prevalent infections due to unhygienic environment also reduce iron absorption and utilisation for haemoglobin synthesis.
Why in News?
- A gigantic dinosaur discovered in Australia’s outback has been identified as a new species and recognised as one of the largest to ever roam the Earth.
- Australotitan cooperensis, part of the titanosaur family that lived about 100 million years ago, has finally been described 15 years after its bones were first uncovered.
- It is estimated to have stood at 5 to 6.5 metres (16-21 feet) high and measured 25 to 30 metres (82-98 feet) in length — which would make it Australia’s biggest dinosaur.
Mysterious disease kills over 200 sheep in Tirunelveli
Why in News?
- Outbreak of a mysterious disease has killed over 200 sheep in the district even as the shepherds are facing huge loss due to this rapidly spreading disease with more number of sheep are battling the illness reportedly caused by suspected viral infection.
- After sudden swelling in the eyes of the animals, the infected sheep suffer frothing in the mouth. And, the affected animals die within a couple of days even as the infection is spreading rapidly in the flock.
Sardar Sarovar Dam
Why in News?
- The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam is a terminal dam built on the Narmada River at Kevadia in Gujarat’s Narmada district. Called the ‘lifeline of Gujarat’, it usually has no water for irrigation during summers.
- For the first time in the history of the dam, as many as 35 dams and reservoirs, close to 1,200 check dams and 1000 village tanks have been filled with Narmada water this year
Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal
- River Narmada is a classic case of Integrated River Basin Planning, Development, and Management, with water storage available in all major, medium, and minor dams on the main river and its tributaries, shared amongst four party states – Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra — in the ratio stipulated by the 1979 award of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal.
- Out of the 28 MAF capacity of Narmada basin, Gujarat has been awarded a share of 9 MAF, while Madhya Pradesh has 18.25 MAF, Rajasthan 0.50 MAF, and Maharashtra 0.25 MAF. The power benefits from the project are to be shared thus: Madhya Pradesh at 57 per cent, Maharashtra at 27 per cent, and Gujarat at 16 per cent.
Why in News?
- The United Nations Security Council formally approved Secretary-General António Guterres for a second term, assuring that the former Prime Minister of Portugal retains the top job for five more years starting January 1, 2022.
- The recommendation will now go to the 193-member General Assembly, which is expected to make the appointment.
- Guterres, 72, started his first term in 2017, becoming the ninth UN chief since the international body’s founding in 1945. While there are no term limits applicable to this post, no Secretary-General has so far served more than two terms.
How is the UN Secretary-General chosen?
- The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. The Secretary-General’s selection is therefore subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council
- Essentially, the Secretary-General is chosen during closed-door sessions of the Security Council, and approval by the General Assembly is seen more as a formality.
- The five permanent members of the 15-nation-strong Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – are the most powerful players in this process as any one of them can eliminate a candidature by a veto.
- The US used this power to deny Egypt’s Boutros-Ghali a second term in 1997 and China did the same in 1981 for denying Austria’s Waldheim a third term.
- The 10 elected non-permanent members of the Security Council, of which India is currently a part, do not have veto powers, but their backing is still crucial as a candidate requires at least nine out of 15 votes to be recommended for the top job.
- For any candidate to have a real chance at being considered for the top post, a recommendation by any UN member state is essential.
- A resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 2015 made the selection process more open and transparent, allowing member states for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their resumes, and to question them at open sessions.
What does the UN Secretary-General do?
- The UN Charter refers to the Secretary-General as the body’s “chief administrative officer”, who shall act in that capacity and perform “such other functions as are entrusted” to them by the Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other United Nations organs.
- The role as “equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO,” and “a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesperson for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them”.
- The Secretary-General’s day-to-day work includes attendance at sessions of United Nations bodies; consultations with world leaders, government officials, and others; and worldwide travel intended to keep the Secretary-General in touch with the peoples of the UN member states.