Short Span Bridging System-10 m
Why in News?
- The first production lot of 12 Short Span Bridging System (SSBS)-10 m, designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has been inducted into Indian Army.
- The SSBS-10 m plays a crucial role of bridging the gaps up to 9.5 m as a single span providing a 4 m wide, fully decked roadway, ensuring faster movement of the troops.
- Research & Development Establishment (Engrs) Pune, a premier engineering laboratory of DRDO, has designed and developed the system in association with M/s L&T Ltd.
- The induction will give a boost to the fast-growing Indian defence industrial ecosystem and help the industry to contribute towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
India joins OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework tax deal
Why in News?
- Majority of the members OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (including India) adopted a high-level statement containing an outline of a consensus solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.
- The proposed solution consists of two components-
- Pillar One which is about reallocation of additional share of profit to the market jurisdictions and
- Pillar Two consisting of minimum tax and subject to tax rules.
- Some significant issues including share of profit allocation and scope of subject to tax rules, remain open and need to be addressed.
- The principles underlying the solution vindicates India’s stand for a greater share of profits for the markets, consideration of demand side factors in profit allocation, the need to seriously address the issue of cross border profit shifting and need for subject to tax rule to stop treaty shopping.
- India is in favour of a consensus solution which is simple to implement and simple to comply.
- At the same time, the solution should result in allocation of meaningful and sustainable revenue to market jurisdictions, particularly for developing and emerging economies.
- India will continue to be constructively engaged for reaching a consensus based ready to implement solution with Pillar one and Pillar two as a package by October and contribute positively for the advancement of the international tax agenda.
Globally competitive manufacturing in India
Why in News?
- Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises inaugurated (through virtual mode) six Technology Innovation Platforms which will focus on development of technologies for the globally competitive manufacturing in India.
- The Six Technology Platforms have been developed by IIT Madras,Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), International Centre for Automotive Technology(iCAT), Automotive Research Association of India(ARAI),BHEL and HMT in association with IIScBanglore.
- These platforms will focus on development of technologies for the globally competitive manufacturing in India.
- These platforms will facilitate industry (including OEMs, Tier 1 Tier 2 & Tier 3 companies & Raw Material Manufacturers), start-ups, domain experts/professionals, R&D institutions and academia (colleges & universities), to provide technology solutions, suggestions, expert opinions etc. on issues involving manufacturing technologies.
- Further, it will facilitate exchange of knowledge with respect to research & development and other technological aspects.
Why in News?
- Radio Vishwas, a Community Radio Station (CRS) in Nashik, Maharashtra has bagged two awards at the 8th edition of the National Community Radio Awards instituted by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- Radio Vishwas 90.8 won the first prize in the “Sustainability Model Awards” category and the Second prize in the “Thematic Awards” category for its radio program ‘Education for All’ in the times of COVID-19.
- Radio Vishwas is run by the Vishwas Dhyan Prabodhini & Research Institute, Nashik, Maharashtra and has been broadcasting since its launch.
‘Shikshan Sarvansathi’ (Education for All)
- The CRS’ initiative, ‘Shikshan Sarvansathi’ (Education for all) that won award under the Thematic Category was started in June 2020 to provide free education for students from 3rd to 10th grade, during the difficult time of COVID-19.
- Audio lectures were aired and made accessible to all the students who study in Zilla Parishad and Nashik Municipal schools. The programme was broadcast in various languages i.e. Hindi, English, Marathi, Sanskrit.
- Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had instituted National Community Radio (CR) Awards in the year 2011-12 to encourage innovation and healthy competition amongst Community Radio Stations.
- These Community Radio stations have played a significant role in communication during Covid-19 pandemic. As on date, there are 327 community radio stations in operation in India across various states.
Retail and Wholesale trades
Why in News?
- Minister of MSME and Road Transport and Highways announced revised guidelines for MSMEs with inclusion of Retail and Wholesale trades as MSMEs.
- Retail and wholesale trade were left out of the ambit of MSME, now under the revised guidelines, retail and wholesale trade will also get benefit of priority sector lending under RBI guidelines.
- With the revised guidelines the Retail and wholesale trades will be now be allowed to register on Udyam Registration Portal.
Male Asian elephants
Why in News?
- As human-elephant conflicts increase with time and expanding human range, understanding social behaviour becomes crucial to the conservation and management of the highly social and endangered Asian elephant.
- Rresearchers studied associations of male Asian elephants by collecting and analysing data on behaviour of identified nonmusth wild Asian elephants of Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks.
- They found that the time spent by male Asian elephants in all-male and mixed-sex groups depended on the age of the male.
- Adult Asian male elephants preferred to spend their time alone than in mixed-sex or in all-male groups. Besides, old males were found mostly in the company of their age peers and less frequently with young males (15 to 30 years of age).
- Also, young males did not disproportionately initiate associations with old males.
- Adult male Asian elephants are less social than females. They enter musth — a mate-searching strategy for old (above 30 years of age) males, annually.
- Since young males associated less with females during musth than non-musth time, they might also be using their non-musth time to search for mating opportunities.
- They considered two possible reasons for male associations –non-musth males may use their time to fight with males of the same age class, who would be of similar sizes, to decide their dominance relationships, and young males might also use their associations to learn from older males about food resources and/or reproductive behaviour.
- Their results showed that all-male groups (in the absence of females) were rare and small. According to the team, social learning from older males did not seem to play a big role in male associations.
- In contrast, African savannah elephants have been found to spend more time in all-male groups and to form larger groups, and young males preferred to associate with older males.
- This could be due to the difference in the dispersion of food resources in the habitats occupied by the two species.
Role of women in leading scientific research increasing
Why in News?
- The involvement of women as science leaders seems to be increasing. The percentage of women leading research projects has increased by 4 percent over two years, said a recent government report.
- Women Principal Investigators (PIs) participation in research that received Extramural Research (EMR) support (support through peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanism) was 28% during 2018-19, as compared to 24% during 2016-17.
- The report also showed that extramural R&D support or R&D support through peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanisms by the central government was Rs. 2091.04 Crore in 2018-19 as compared to Rs. 2036.32 Crore in 2017-18 — an increase of Rs. 54.72 Crore over the previous year.
- Of this support, 64% of the projects were received by 8 states, including Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, accounting for 71 % of the share of funding.
- The maximum financial support went to Engineering and Technology, while the maximum number of projects went to Biological Sciences.
Extramural Research and Development (R&D) projects
- Support is a peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanism of the Central Government to promote, catalyze and advance R&D and innovation in the country and provides special encouragement to scientists to pursue a research career.
- Centre for Human and Organisational Resource Development (CHORD) division, formerly known as the National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) division of DST, has been collating, analyzing, and disseminating information on Extramural Research and Development projects funded by various scientific agencies.
- CHORD has been entrusted with the task of building the information base on a continuous basis on resources devoted to scientific and technological activities for policy planning in the country.
India’s newest snail recorded
Why in News?
- A new species of land snail recorded from India has a touch of the tiger.
- The “snail of Sahyadri” recorded for the first time from Maharashtra’s northern Western Ghats is carnivorous. But that is not its only indirect link with the big striped cat.
- Perrottetia rajeshgopali, the newest chronicled member of the global snail family, is named after one of the country’s top tiger conservationists — Rajesh Gopal, currently the secretary-general of the Global Tiger Forum.
- It is the first species of the genus Perrottetia to be described from India in 117 years.
- The carnivorous diet of Perrottetia rajeshgopali – it wears a white, glossy and translucent shell and its body is pale yellow with brownish spots and reticulated skin – was observed when it fed on a Eurychlamys platyclamys, a smaller snail.
Why in News?
- The Pacific Northwest has been dealing with a historic heat wave that has led people in the western parts of the US and Canada to consider buying air conditioners.
- But as people buy air conditioners to deal with harsher summers, there is concern about ACs not being environmentally friendly.
So, what are heat pumps and how do they work?
- For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air-conditioners.
- Much like a refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a wam space. This makes the cool place cooler and the warm place warmer.
- Therefore, a heat pump does not create any heat or cool air, but it merely shifts air.
- For instance, if a heat pump is being used inside a room to make it cool, it will absorb the heat in the room and will release it outdoors with the help of an outdoor compressor.
- In heating mode, the heat pump will absorb heat from outside and release it indoors.
- There are mainly two types of heat pumps depending on the type of medium they extract heat from. One type extracts heat from the ground and the other from air.
What makes them eco-friendly?
- A heat pump does not generate heat or cold air, therefore it does not use fuel. However, a heat pump works more or less like a refrigerator and does use some amount of electricity to run.
- Therefore, a heat pump cannot exactly be called a renewable technology. But compared to ACs, they fare much better when it comes to impacting the environment.
Bacteria in cow’s stomach can break down plastic
- Bacteria found in one of the compartments of a cow’s stomach can break down plastic, research suggests.
- Since the 1950s, more than 8bn tonnes of plastic have been produced – equivalent in weight to 1 billion elephants – driven predominantly by packaging, single-use containers, wrapping and bottles.
- As a result, plastic pollution is all-pervasive, in the water and in the air, with people unwittingly consuming and breathing microplastic particles.
- In recent years, researchers have been working on harnessing the ability of tiny microscopic bugs to break down the stubborn material.
- There are existing microbes that are able to degrade natural polyester, found for example in the peels of tomatoes or apples.
- Cow diets contain these natural polyesters, scientists suspected the bovine stomach would contain a cornucopia of microbes to degrade all the plant material.
- Researchers procured liquid from the rumen, a compartment of a cow’s stomach. One cow typically produces a rumen volume of about 100 litres.
- That liquid was incubated with the three types of polyesters – PET (a synthetic polymer commonly used in textiles and packaging); PBAT (biodegradable plastic often used in compostable plastic bags); and PEF (a biobased material made from renewable resources). Each plastic was tested in both film and powder form.
- The results showed all three plastics could be broken down by the micro-organisms from cow stomachs in the lab setting, with the plastic powders breaking down quicker than plastic film.
- For now, plastic waste is mostly burned. To a lesser extent, it is melted for use in other products, but beyond a point it becomes damaged and can no longer be used again.
- Another method is chemical recycling – turning plastic waste back into base chemicals – but that is not an environmentally friendly process. Using enzymes is billed as a form of green chemical recycling.
- In the rumen liquid, it appears there is not just one type of enzyme present, but rather different enzymes working together to achieve degradation.
4,000-year-old settlement found
Why in News?
- The Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS), an archaeological wing of the State government, has discovered a 4,000-year-old settlement and ancient artifacts in Balasore district.
- Durgadevi is located 20 km from Balasore town. According to the ASI, the site has a circular mud fortification of about 4.9 km etween the Sona river to the south and the Burahabalang river on its northeastern margin.
- Archaeologists have come across distinct traces of three cultural phases at the excavation site — Chalcolithic (2000 BCE to 1000 BCE), the Iron Age (1000 BCE to 400 BCE) and the Early Historic Period (400 BCE to 200 BCE).
- The major discovery of the Chalcolithic period of Durgadevi is the base of a circular hut, black on red painted pottery, black slipped ware, red slipped ware, and copper objects. The floor of the circular hut is rammed with red soil.
- From the base of the circular hut and the utilitarian objects found, the lifestyle of the people has been derived. People were mostly leading a settled life and had started agriculture, and domestication of animals and fishing.
- Similarly, the cultural material evidence and remains found from this phase include pottery, remains of black burnished ware, black and red ware, iron objects like nails, arrow heads, and crucible and slag of various kinds belonging to the Iron Age.
- Cultural materials from the early historic period such as pottery specimens of red ware, terracotta ear studs, bangles, beads, and some conical objects, were also discovered from the site.
Valmiki Tiger Reserve
- Authorities in Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) have started planning for conservation of vultures after 150 of the birds were sighted recently in the protected area.
- Different species of vultures including Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), White-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and Himalayan griffon (Gyps himalayensis) were among the 150 individuals spotted in VTR.
- The state government has been planning to create a diclofenac-free zone for conservation of vultures in areas bordering Nepal. Vultures from the Himalayan range visit areas in Bihar bordering Nepal during winters.
- After diclofenac was introduced as an anti-inflammatory medicine for livestock, vulture became its victims.
- Vultures died after consuming the flesh of animals that were administered diclofenac. It resulted in a drastic decline of the vulture population.