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10 January, 2021

114 Min Read

GS-I : Physical Geography Thunderstorms
Indonesia jet missing

Indonesia Jet missing

  • A jet carrying 62 people lost contact with air traffic controllers minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on a domestic flight on Saturday.
  • Officials were examining debris found by fishermen to see if it was from the missing plane.
  • The plane was carrying 50 passengers and 12 crew members, all Indonesian nationals.

Reason for the missing Indonesia jet: Thunderstorms

What are Thunderstorms?

  • Lightning or electrical storm is known as a thunderstorm. It is characterized by lightning and thunder.
  • Thunderstorms produce strong winds, heavy rainfalls, and even produce snowfall and hail. Some of the thunderstorms don’t produce any precipitation and in some cases, thunderstorms produce very little precipitation.

How are Thunderstorms Formed?

  • Cumulonimbus Clouds produce Thunderstorms and it forms when there is a rapid rise or movement of warm and moist air.
  • Cumulonimbus clouds sometimes form at even heights of over 20 kilometres and it is formed when there is the upward movement of warm, moist air. This warm air and moist air cools and condenses when it moves upwards resulting in the formation of cumulonimbus clouds.
  • Condensation of Water vapour into water droplets or ice happens when the rising air reaches its dew point temperature.
  • This results in a reduction of pressure locally within the thunderstorm cell.
  • Any precipitation falls a long distance through the clouds on the way to the surface of the Earth. Larger droplets are formed when the smaller droplets that are falling down collide with other droplets.
  • Downdraft is created by the falling droplets as it pulls cold air with it, and this cold air spreads out at the surface of the Earth. This results in strong winds that are commonly produced during thunderstorms.

What are the 3 Stages of Thunderstorms?

Most Thunderstorms have three stages:

1) Cumulus Stage

  • During day time the Earth’s surface gets heated up by the Sun.
  • This results in Updraft, a phenomenon where warm air rises upwards. This happens due to the surface of the Earth getting heated up due to the Sun and the warm air is lighter than cool air, which results in its upward movement.
  • The warm air condenses into a cumulus cloud in the presence of moist air.
  • As long as warm air below the clouds continues to rise, it will help in the continuous growth of clouds.

2) Mature Stage

  • The water in Cumulus Clouds becomes large and heavy as the cumulus cloud grows in size.
  • Raindrops start to fall through the cloud when the rising air can no longer hold them up.
  • Cool dry air starts to enter the cloud as the raindrops start falling through the clouds.
  • The phenomenon of downdraft takes place. It is a phenomenon that happens when warm air is lighter than the cool air, which makes the cool air to descend in the cloud.
  • Heavy water is pulled downward by the downdraft resulting in rains.
  • Due to updraft, downdraft, and rain; this cloud has become a cumulonimbus cloud.
  • The cumulonimbus is now a thunderstorm cell.

3) Dissipating Stage

  • Dissipation of thunderstorms happens after a time duration of 30 minutes.
  • This dissipation occurs when the updraft gets dominated by downdrafts in the cloud. Due to this domination of downdraft cloud droplets will cease to form since the warm moist air can no longer rise. As the cloud disappears from top to bottom, the storm will dissipate.
  • For ordinary thunderstorms, the above-mentioned complete process will take approximately 1 hour, whereas for much larger and powerful Supercell thunderstorms the above-mentioned dissipation process may take several hours.

About cyclones:

  • Cyclone refers to any spinning storm that rotates around a low-pressure center. The low-pressure centre is also referred to as the 'eye' of the storm, which is well known for being eerily calm compared with the areas under the spinning 'arms' of the storm.
  • You could say that the eye is watching what's going on down below, so it needs a clear path, but the arms are where all the action happens because this is where the storm is throwing out all of its rain and wind.

How are cyclones formed?

  • To form a cyclone, warm, moist air over the ocean rises upward from near the surface. As this air moves up and away from the ocean surface, it leaves is less air near the surface. So basically as the warm air rises, it causes an area of lower air pressure below.
  • Air from surrounding areas with higher air pressure pushes in to the low pressure area. Then this new “cool” air becomes warm and moist and rises, too. And the cycle continues.
  • As the warmed, moist air rises and cools the water in the air forms clouds. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean’s heat and water evaporating from the ocean surface.
  • As the storm system rotates faster and faster, an eye forms in the centre. It is very calm and clear in the eye, with very low air pressure. Higher pressure air from above flows down into the eye.
  • Tropical cyclones usually weaken when they hit land, because they are no longer being “fed” by the energy from the warm ocean waters. However, they often move far inland, dumping many centimetres of rain and causing lots of wind damage before they die out completely.

Types of Cyclones:

  • Tropical cyclones are what most people are familiar with because these are cyclones that occur over tropical ocean regions.
  • Hurricanes and typhoons are actually types of tropical cyclones, but they have different names so that it's clear where that storm is occurring.
  • Hurricanes are found in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, typhoons are found in the Northwest Pacific.
  • If you hear 'tropical cyclone,' you should assume that it's occurring in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean, but for this lesson, we'll use it refer to all types of tropical ocean cyclones.
  • We can also further describe tropical cyclones based on their wind speeds. They are called category 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, increasing with intensity and wind speed as the number increases. A category 1 cyclone is the weakest, with wind speeds of 74-95 mph. A category 5 cyclone, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous and has the potential for major damage. Category 5 cyclones have wind speeds of 155 mph and above!
  • Polar cyclones are cyclones that occur in polar regions like Greenland, Siberia and Antarctica. Unlike tropical cyclones, polar cyclones are usually stronger in winter months. As you can see, these storms really do prefer the colder weather! They also occur in areas that aren't very populated, so any damage they do is usually pretty minimal.
  • A mesocyclone is when part of a thunderstorm cloud starts to spin, which may eventually lead to a tornado. 'Meso' means 'middle', so you can think of this as the mid-point between one type of storm and the other. Tornadoes all come from thunderstorm clouds, but not all thunderstorm clouds make tornadoes. In order for a tornado to occur, part of that cloud has to spin, and though you can't really see this happening, this is the intermediate, or 'meso' step from regular cloud to dangerous spinning cloud running along the ground.

Depending upon its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred by different names:

  • Typhoons in Western North Pacific
  • Willy-willies in Australia
  • Baguio in Philippine Islands
  • Hurricanes around North America
  • Taifu in Japan
  • Cyclone in the Indian Ocean

Source: TH

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GS-I : Indian Geography Water resources
Interlinking of the Rivers and Ken-Betwa Project

The Ken-Betwa Link Project

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) is the River interlinking project that aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region spread across the districts of two states mainly Jhansi, Banda, Lalitpur and Mahoba districts of UP and Tikamgarh, Panna and Chhatarpur districts of MP.
  • Ken-Betwa is one of the 30 river inter linking projects conceived across the country.
  • The project has been delayed due to political and environmental issues
  • Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
  • Ken meets with Yamuna in Banda district of UP and with Betwa in Hamirpur district of UP.
  • Rajghat, Paricha and Matatila dams are over Betwa river.
  • Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.

Inter-Linking of Rivers (ILR) Project

  • The ambitious project comprises 16 rivers of Himalayan origin and 14 in peninsular region.
  • The Detailed Project Report (DPR) in respect of Ken-Betwa Inter-State Link Project involving Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh has been completed and work on the project will begin soon.
  • Besides, the DPRs for four projects is in progress.

The meeting reviewed the status of the various ILR projects, namely

  • Ken-Betwa Link Project,
  • Cauvery (Kattalai)-Vaigai-Gundar link (IBWT),
  • Bedti-Varda link (IBWT),
  • Damanganga (Ekdare)-Godavari link (Intra-State),
  • Damanganga-Vaitarna-Godavari link (Intra-State),
  • Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada Link Projects,
  • Alternative proposal of Diversion of Godavari waters upto Cauvery basin, Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga (MSTG) link and Integration of Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project with Parbati- Kalisindh-Chambal link.
  • Status of the 47 Intra-State link proposals from nine States, besides restructuring of the National Water Development Agency, Task Force for Interlinking of Rivers and the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) were also discussed.

Need for Interlinking of Rivers

  • 80% of the water India receives through its annual rains and surface water flow happens over a 4 month period June through September.
  • This spatial and time variance in availability of natural water versus year round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates demand supply gap, which can be balanced by interlinking of rivers.
  • Interlinking of rivers involves joining rivers by the network of canals and reservoirs that solves twin problems of drought and flood by maintaining a water balance between the water deficit and surplus areas.
  • Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme, has already interlinked the Godavari river and the Krishna river in Andhra's West Godavari district.

Advantages

  • River linking will be a solution to recurring droughts in Bundelkhand region.
  • It will curb the rate of farmers suicide and will ensure them stable livelihood by providing sustainable means of irrigation (6 lakh hec of land) and reducing excessive dependence on groundwater.
  • It will not only accelerate the water conservation by construction of multipurpose dam but will also produce 75MW of electricity and will supply drinking water to 13 lakh people.
  • Few are of the view that the introduction of dam inside the water scarce regions of panna tiger reserve, will rejuvenate the forests of Panna Tiger reserve that in turn will pave the way for Rich Biodiversity in the region.
  • It will provide employment during the execution of the project.
  • The afforestation programme could be implemented on canal banks resulting in environmental improvement.
  • The communication system will improve because of canal roads and CD works raising marketing opportunities.
  • The formation of the reservoirs will help tourism development, fish and aquaculture, bird sanctuaries etc.

Concerns

  • Construction of Daudhan dam will result into submergence of 10% of critical tiger habitat of MP’s Panna Tiger Reserve that will adversely affect the tiger conservation efforts.
  • Height of the dam (77 meters) will affect the nesting sites of vulture.
  • Construction of one of the barrages inside the Ken Gharial Sanctuary will adversely affect the sustainability of the sanctuary.
  • Submergence by Daudhan and Makodia reservoirs will result into displacement of 20,000 people of the bundelkhand region and will give rise to rehabilitation issues.
  • Politicization of Ken Betwa project is making project more complex and resulting into its further delay.
  • Because of certain environmental and wildlife conservation concerns like passing of project though critical tiger habitat of panna tiger reserve ,project is stuck in for the approval from NGT, and other higher authorities.
  • There is a huge economic cost attached with the projects implementation and maintenance, which has been rising due to delays in project implementation.
  • Reconstruction and rehabilitation caused due to displacement resulting from submergence of two dams will involve social cost as well.

Conclusion

  • Ken Betwa interlinking project can act as a boon to the water scarce districts of the bundelkhand region where farmers are struggling with their dependency over monsoon.
  • This can even boost the agricultural production of the area by including water intensive, plantation and cash crops in their crop cycle that will increase the income of farmers.

Source: TH

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GS-I : Art and Culture Art and Culture
All the Martial Arts of India

All the Martial Arts of India

1. Kalaripayattu

  • It is the oldest martial art in India originated in the state of Kerala in 4th century A.D.
  • Techniques of Kalaripayattu: Uzhichil or the massage with Gingli oil, Otta, Maipayattu or body exercises, Puliyankam or sword fight, Verumkai or bare-handed fight etc.
  • Kalari is a Malayalam word which means School/gymnasium/training hall where Martial arts are practiced or taught.
  • Kalaripayattu was introduced as martial art by a legend, sage Parasurama, who built temples.
  • This art is used as a means of unarmed self-defence and a way to achieve physical fitness today. Also used in traditional rituals and ceremonies.
  • It includes mock duels (armed and unarmed combat) and physical exercises, important aspect is the style of fighting and is nor accompanied by any drumming or song.
  • Its important key is footwork which includes kicks, strikes and weapon based practice.
  • Its popularity also increases with the movie Ashoka and the Myth.
  • Women also practiced this art, Unniyarcha; a legendary heroine won many battles using this martial art.

2. Silambam

  • It is a kind of Staff Fencing originated in Tamil Nadu, a modern and scientific martial art.
  • Techniques of Silambam: Swift movements of the foot, use of thrust, cut, chop, sweep to achieve mastery & development of force, momentum & precision at different levels of the body, snake hits, monkey hits, hawk hits etc.
  • Silambam is promoted in Tamil Nadu by the rulers Pandya, Chola and Chera and the reference to the sale of Silambam staves, pearls, swords and armours can be seen in a Tamil literature ‘Silapaddigaram’.
  • This art also travelled to Malaysia, where it is a famous sport apart from a self defence technique.
  • For mock fighting and self-defence the long-staff technique is used. Infact, Lord Muruga (in Tamil Mythology) and sage Agasthya are credited with the creation of Silambam. Even during Vedic age, training was imparted to young men as a ritual and for an emergency.

3. Thang-ta and Sarit Sarak

  • This art was created by the Meitei people of Manipur.
  • Thang refers to a ‘sword’ while Ta refers to a ‘spear’ and is an armed martial art whereas Sarit Sarak is an unarmed art form that uses hand to hand combat.
  • In 17th century this art was used by Manipuri kings against Britishers later on when Britishers captured the area this technique was banned.
  • Thang-Ta is also known as HuyenLallong, which is a popular ancient martial art which uses other weapons including an axe and a shield.
  • It is practiced in 3 different ways: Firstly, ritualistic in nature linked with tantric practices, secondly, mesmerising performance of sword and sword dances and thirdly, is the actual technique of fighting.

4. Thoda

  • It was started in Himachal Pradesh and Wooden bows, arrows are used.
  • Thoda name is derived from the round wooden piece attached to the head of an arrow to minimise its lethal potential.
  • It is a mixture of martial art, sport and culture.
  • It takes place during Baisakhi every year.
  • This martial art relies on a player’s of skill of archery and can be dated back at the time of Mahabharata where bows and arrows were used in the valleys of Kullu and Manali.
  • In the game, there are 2 groups of 500 people each. All of them are not archers but dancers also who came with them to boost the morale of their respective teams.
  • The two teams are called Pashis and Saathis, who believed to be the descendants of Pandavas and Kauravas of Mahabharata.

5. Gatka

  • Gatka is a weapon based martial art form performed by Sikhs of Punjab.
  • Gatka means whose freedom belongs to grace. Others say that ‘Gatka’ comes from a Sanskrit word ‘Gadha’ means mace.
  • This art uses weapons like Kirpan, Talwar and Kataar.
  • It is displayed in various occasions, celebrations in the state including fairs.

6. Lathi

  • Lathi is one of the oldest weapon used in martial arts. It was originated in Punjab and Bengal.
  • Lathi refers to a ‘stick’ mainly cane sticks which is generally 6 to 8 feet in length and sometimes metal tipped.
  • It is also a common sport in various villages of the country..

7. Inbuan Wrestling

  • It was started in Mizoram, beleived to have its genesis in 1750 A.D. in Duntland village.
  • This art consists of very strict rules that prohobit stepping out the circle, kicking and knee bending.
  • It also involves catching of the belt worn around their waist by the wrestlers.
  • When people migrated from Burma to Lushai hills then this art form was regarded as a sport.

8. Kuttu Varisai

  • It was originated and mainly practiced in South India and also popular in north-eastern part of Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
  • Techniques: Grappling, striking and locking techniques are used in this art.
  • This art was first mentioned in Sangam literature in the first or second century B.C.
  • Kuttu Varisai means ‘empty hand combat’.
  • It is an unarmed Dravidian martial art used to advance athleticism and footwork through yoga, gymanstics, breathing exercises etc.
  • It also uses animal based sets including snake, eagle, tiger, elephant and monkey.

9. Musti Yuddha

  • It is an unarmed martial art form. Since 1960 it is a popular art. Started in Varanasi. Kicks, punches, knee and elbow strikes are the techniques used by this martial art.
  • It incorporates the development of all three aspects physical, mental and spiritual.
  • The fights in this art are named on the Hindu God and divided into four categories.
  • The first is known as Jambuvanti that refers to the forcing the opponent into submission through locking and holding.
  • Second is Hanumanti, which is for technical superiority.
  • Third refers to Bhimaseni, which focusses on sheer strength and fourth is called Jarasandhi that concentrates on limb and joint breaking.

10. Pari-Khanda

  • ‘Pari’ means shield while ‘khanda’ refers to sword. Therefore, both shield and sword are used in this art.
  • It involves fighting using Sword and Shield.
  • Its steps and techniques are used in Chhau dance of Bihar.

For complete Article on Khelo India Programme: click here

Source: TH

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GS-I : Physical Geography Geomorphology
Mukundpura meteorite

Mukundpura meteorite

  • On June 6, 2017, at around 5 a.m., residents of Mukundpura village near Jaipur saw a bright trail in the sky followed by a thunderous sound. They spotted a burning object with a sulphur smell on the soft agricultural land.
  • The meteorite broke into several fragments, but a pit of about 15 cm in diameter and 10 cm in depth was formed at the impact site.
  • The local police immediately collected it and handed it over to the Geological Survey of India, Kolkata.
  • Now, a new study has shed light on the mineralogy of the meteorite.

Carbonaceous chondrite

  • The meteorite named Mukundpura CM2 was classified to be a carbonaceous chondrite. “This is a type of stony meteorite, considered the most primitive meteorite and a remnant of the first solid bodies to accrete in the solar system. The composition of carbonaceous chondrites are also similar to the Sun.
  • He adds that meteorites are broadly classified into three groups – stony (silicate-rich), iron (Fe–Ni alloy), and stony-iron (mixed silicate–iron alloy). Chondrites are silicate-droplet-bearing meteorites, and this Mukundpura chondrite is the fifth carbonaceous meteorite known to fall in India.

Degrees of alteration

  • The study revealed that Mukundpura CM2 had experienced varying degrees of alteration during the impact.
  • Some minerals like forsterite and FeO olivine, calcium aluminium rich inclusion (CAI) minerals escaped alteration.
  • Few magnetites, sulphides and calcites were also found. Detailed spectroscopic studies revealed that the meteorite had very high (about 90%) phyllosilicate minerals comprising both magnesium and iron. Further X-ray studies showed it also had aluminium complexes.

Relevance to asteroids

  • Dr. Ray adds that the results of the Mukundpura CM2 study are relevant to the surface composition of near-Earth asteroids Ryugu and Bennu.
  • In October 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission collected samples from Bennu and is expected to return in September 2023.
  • Last month, Japan’s Hayabusa-2 mission landed on Earth with samples from Ryugu.
  • Spectroscopy results suggest that spectral properties of the surface of these asteroids are consistent with CM carbonaceous meteorites.
  • Therefore, a better understanding of the nature and evolution of such meteorites that have been aqueously altered will help considerably in the interpretation of results of these missions,” he writes.

Why it is important to study meteorites?

  • On being asked, Dr. Ray explains: “Meteorites are representative of asteroids. Asteroids are the remnant debris of the inner solar system formation process and thus offer the formation history or the building blocks of the planets.
  • Therefore, by studying meteorites in the laboratory and asteroids by exploration and sample return mission we try to reconstruct the activity of early solar system events.
  • Also, asteroids are often rich in volatiles and other minerals and can be exploited for future planetary exploration.”

Source: TH

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GS-I : Art and Culture Awards & Honours
Nari Shakti Puraskar

Nari Shakti Puraskar

  • Nari Shakti Puraskar are conferred every year on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
  • The award is conferred by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The Nari Shakti Puruskar is awarded to individuals or groups or NGOs or institutions.
  • The award encourages the women to participate in decision making roles, skill development in traditional and non-traditional sectors among the women.

Who are eligible for the award?

  • As per the Guidelines any individual of at least 25 years of age and institutions that have worked in the relevant field for at least 5 years are eligible to apply.

International Women’s Day

  • The day is celebrated on the March 8, every year across the world.
  • United Nations started celebrating the day in the year 1977.
  • The UN theme for International Women’s Day for the year 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
  • The hashtag for the day will be #IWD2021 and #InternationalWomensDay

Source: PIB

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GS-II : International Relations Maldives
India – Maldives relations

India – Maldives relations

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, rose to power in 2018, promising democratic governance and justice to citizens. While the two years he has completed in office have seen major policy changes, his incumbent government faces many challenges, only heightened by the pandemic. In an email interview, President Solih speaks on economic revival plans, regional cooperation, and responds to criticism over his government’s “over-reliance” on India.

Mr. President, you have completed over two years in office. How would you evaluate your performance?

  • This administration has accomplished much in the past two years across every major policy sphere. We have made education free up to the first undergraduate degree; initiated a health sector reform programme which has seen the upgrading of medical centres; we’ve strengthened our decentralisation legislation to empower local communities and reverse decades of over-centralisation.
  • We have also demonstrated our commitment to gender equality by legally mandating that 1/3rd of our local councils be comprised of women and by appointing the first ever women justices to the Maldives’ Supreme Court. We have repealed regressive legislation such as a defamation act that criminalised speech critical of the government.
  • On the international front we have reinvigorated our relationships with our global partners, re-entered the Maldives into important organisations such as the Commonwealth of Nations, and reiterated our ambitions towards mitigation and adaption against the climate emergency.

Like the rest of the world, the Maldives too is reeling under the impact of the pandemic. How do you plan to revive your economy?

  • Our economy has long been reliant on tourism. The pandemic and the consequent restrictions on global air travel have adversely affected this industry and the overall economy. With the reopening of our borders, and stringent health measures in place at our resorts in accordance with guidelines developed by our health authorities and Tourism Ministry, the tourism industry is now slowly recovering, as is our economy. However, the pandemic has also made clear the danger of our economy being overly reliant on a single sector.
  • We will also need international assistance and support for our recovery efforts, to shore up our depleted foreign currency reserves, and reduce our debt burden.

The Maldivian Auditor-General recently voiced concern over your government’s “heavy reliance” on a single country for grants, alluding to India. Given that Male-New Delhi bilateral relations improved drastically after your election, how do you respond to that?

  • We appreciate the proactive role that India has taken in economic relief efforts and providing financial assistance to the Maldives, as well as for its continued development assistance. We are also very happy that bilateral relations have improved with India, as it has between the Maldives and many of our partners across the globe. The Maldives is keen to engage with all our partners.
  • It is significant, because the political opposition and critics of your government have accused your administration of “selling off Maldives” to India, taking out rallies on Male’s streets and leading ‘India out’ campaigns on social media.
  • Moving away from an isolationist foreign policy and engaging with our neighbours strengthen our national security and increase respect for us as a sovereign country. The Maldives makes no apologies for our positive engagement with our largest neighbour, and one of our closest international partners, India.
  • We welcome constructive criticism of our foreign policy, as well as other aspects of our governance. Undermining relationships that are in the interest of the Maldives for the sake of demagoguery and cheap political points is irresponsible.

One of your key election promises was that your government will revisit the deals signed by the Yameen administration with China - loans and infrastructure projects - if elected. Have you been able to restructure the debt — over $ 1.4 billion — Male owes Beijing?

  • China is a close and valued partner to the Maldives. We welcome their participating in the G20’s DSSI [Debt Service Suspension Initiative], and appreciate that we have been able to positively engage with them to renegotiate the terms of ongoing development assistance and economic projects, in a manner mutually beneficial to both countries, and consistent with our friendly relations.

Your government recently signed a defence deal with the U.S., and another agreement with Japan to strengthen your Coast Guard. Last month, the Indian Foreign Secretary visited your capital. Is Male leaning towards the ‘Quad’ bloc?

  • The Maldives’ priorities lie in a peaceful Indian Ocean region.
  • Our international engagements are to enhance our commercial cooperation, strengthen regional peace and security, facilitate economic prosperity for our country, and voice out on issues important to us on the international fora, such as climate change and environmental preservation. We will pursue our goals alongside our partners who share our mutual priorities.

The geopolitical contest in the region has escalated this year, especially after the border tensions between India and China. How does this impact the Maldives and your foreign policy choices?

  • Not at all. The Maldives believes that differences between international partners can be settled peacefully through dialogue and mediation. While this is ongoing, it does not hinder our ability to constructively engage with our partners on issues of mutual interest.

What, in your view, are the prospects for regional cooperation, including through SAARC, in the Indian Ocean Region in this difficult climate of the pandemic and persisting bilateral tensions between India and Pakistan?

  • I reiterate that regional differences should be settled amicably through means and solutions agreeable to all concerned.
  • While it is not in the Maldives’s policy to comment on disagreements between two sovereign countries, we also believe that such disputes are best resolved through strengthening multilateral and regional cooperation mechanisms, and using such channels for frequent dialogue and mediation.
  • While the pandemic may be a challenge towards realising such ends in the immediate future I believe it has made especially evident that major global issues and crises cannot be contained to borders, and will thus help galvanise efforts to strengthen regional cooperation frameworks in the long-term.
  • The Maldives is happy to be part of such efforts.

Source:

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GS-III : S&T S&T
Quantum Technology

Quantum Technology

  • In last year’s budget session, the Finance Minister of the Government of India proposed that Rs.8,000 crore be set aside to develop quantum science and technology.
  • The detailed project report for a National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA) has been drawn out and finalised, and in the next couple of months, this mission might get approval.
  • Recognising the importance of quantum technology, the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India had initiated a programme called QuEST at a modest 200-crore-rupee budget to explore the possibilities and engage with the researchers.

Potential applications

  • “In the international arena, huge investments, both public and private, are carried out to roll out quantum-based products.
  • Potential applications include secure communication, fast computers that established quantum supremacy, sensors and quantum inspired devices,” says Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary DST.
  • “The first mover has the advantage in garnering market share and technology supremacy.”

Quantum technology

  • Knowledge of quantum mechanics is an indivisible part of the electronics industry.
  • However, in the twenty-first century, the term ‘quantum technology’ refers to something even more disruptive and radical.
  • It involves exploiting the properties of individual, or a few fundamental particles, to achieve revolutionary changes in technology. One example is the property known as entanglement.
  • When two objects, say two particles of light, also called photons, are in an entangled state, any changes made to the state of one, for example, its spin, are reflected in the other particle, however far they move from each other without breaking the entanglement.
  • If developed, this property can be used to transmit a message at a very high level of secrecy from one point to another.
  • In June 2020, China demonstrated quantum communication technology using the satellite Micius, by conducting a secret conference between two ground stations about 1,120 km apart.
  • They used the satellite not to transmit the entire communication, but to simultaneously send a pair of secret keys to the two ground stations. Each secret key is one of two strings of entangled photons.

Inter-ministerial mission

  • The several areas in which this technology can be applied includes quantum communication, quantum encryption and quantum metrology.
  • “In the years 1970-1980, people thought photonics would replace electronics, but it has actually augmented the latter.
  • Similarly, now there is a big drive to look for domains where quantum effects can be harvested.
  • “NM-QTA is an inter-ministerial mission, and Department of Science and Technology is the nodal department," he added.
  • The NM-QTA is yet to be approved by the government, and it is under process. “Around 300 scientists, faculty and researchers; 30 institutes and good number of stakeholders were involved in developing Detailed Project Report on NM-QTA. Mostly, these researchers and institutes shall be involved while implementing the mission once approved,”

Good progress

  • There has been progress on several fronts as far as quantum technology is concerned, within India.
  • “There is a good progress in quantum communication, particularly in free space as well as in fibre. Prototypes have been developed and protocols are in place,” Dr. Sharma explains.
  • “Once satellite-based transponders are available, free space communication could be demonstrated. Work is progressing smoothly and very soon, in less than six months, it will be demonstrated,” he adds.
  • According to Dr. Sharma, on the fibre front, stretching beyond 150 km is being worked out. This includes development of repeaters so that signals could be boosted at every 150 km so that the desired communication can go for long distances.

To read complete news on Quantum technology: click here

Source: TH

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GS-III : S&T S&T
Identical twins are not exactly genetically the same

Identical twins are not exactly genetically the same

  • Scientists in Iceland sequenced DNA from 387 pairs of identical twins – those derived from a single fertilized egg – as well as from their parents, children and spouses.
  • That allowed them to find “early mutations that separate identical twins.
  • A mutation means an alteration in a sequence of DNA – a tiny change that is not inherently good or bad, but can influence physical features or susceptibility to certain diseases.
  • They can occur when a cell divides and makes a slight error in replicating DNA.
  • On average, identical twins have 5.2 of these early genetic differences, the researchers found. But about 15% of identical twin pairs have more genetic differences, some of them up to 100.
  • These differences represent a tiny portion of each twin's genetic code, but they could influence why one twin is taller or why one twin is at greater risk for certain cancers.
  • Previously, many researchers believed that physical differences between identical twins were related mostly to environmental factors, such as nutrition or lifestyle.
  • The new study goes beyond earlier work by including DNA of parents, children and spouses of identical twins.
  • That allowed the researchers to pinpoint when genetic mutations occurred in two different kinds of cells – those present in just one individual and those inherited by that person’s children.
  • They also found mutations that occurred before the developing embryo split into two, setting the stage for twins.

Source: TH

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GS-III : S&T COVID-19
What is Co-WIN?

What is Co-WIN?

  • In good measure, the dry runs were not only a step to test the operational feasibility of various States to roll out the vaccine programme effectively, but also a recce to see if the electronic vaccine intelligence network, eVIN, used during routine immunisation programmes, and remodelled as Co-WIN, was functional at the field-level.
  • Co-WIN aspires to be a comprehensive digital database of every COVID-19 vaccine that will be administered in India — tracking beneficiaries, intimating them about vaccine sites and dates, pre- and post-vaccination procedures, issuance of vaccination certificates, and follow up through the booster dose. On January 5, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the details of healthcare and frontline workers in line for a shot had already been updated on the Co-WIN system, in bulk, by State and district health authorities. Currently, self-registration is not allowed on the application.
  • It has been promised that ‘at a later stage of implementation’, Co-WIN will also be available as an application or as a website in multiple Indian languages so that beneficiaries can access it to keep track of their own progress and be connected organically to the system, if questions were to arise. It will also be a tool for others to “register” for a vaccine once the first line of targeted beneficiaries is cleared.
  • Aadhar or any accepted photo ID card may be used to verify the identity of the applicant to prevent misuse. Additionally, documents authorised by specialists to indicate co-morbidities or any other health conditions may be demanded.
  • Further details are also awaited on the steps that will be taken to allocate turns in the schedule after the registration and for further communication regarding the date and venue of vaccination, even to people who may not have access to devices or the Internet. As per current information, text messages will be sent out after registration, telling the registrant where and when to go to get the shot.
  • After the second dose, Co-WIN will generate a digital certificate of completion for individuals who have been vaccinated. Messaging, chatbots and helpline assistance are available on the app, and any adverse event after the vaccination may be communicated back to the authorities through one of these access points.

Source: TH

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GS-II : International Relations U.S.A
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of USA Constitution

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of USA Constitution

  • Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows for the immediate removal of the President “whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
  • When that happens, the “Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

Source: TH

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