Topic 1: Cheetah helicopter
Context: Two pilots were killed after a Cheetah helicopter of the Indian Army crashed in Arunachal Pradesh.
About Cheetah helicopter:
- The HAL Cheetah is a licence-built version of the French Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama.
- The SA315B Lama was first flown in 1969.
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited signed a licence agreement for the Lama with Aérospatiale in 1970 and christened the India made aircraft “Cheetah”.
- It is a five seater helicopter.
- It holds the world record in high altitude flying among all categories of Helicopters.
- The helicopter can be utilizedfor:-
- Passenger Transport
- Logistics Support (Cargo / Material Transport)
- Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC)
- Search & Rescue (SAR) operations
- Under slung Operations
- The Cheetah helicopter is powered by a single engine.
Topic 2: The President’s colour award
Context: President of India presents President’s colour to INS Dronacharya.
About the award:
- The President’s Colour Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon any military unit of India.
- It is also known as ′Nishaan′ which is an emblem that is worn by all unit officers on the left-hand sleeve of their uniform.
- It is an acknowledgement of the unit’s meritorious service.
- While the practice of carrying the Colour into battle has stopped, the tradition of receiving, holding and parading the Colour continues even today in the Armed forces.
- If the unit lose their colours, it is a disgrace for that unit and, if the unit captured the enemy’s colours then it is a great honour for that unit.
- The ‘Standards’ are awarded to Heavy Cavalry and the ‘Guidons’ are awarded to Light Cavalry.
- In the absence of the President of India, the Vice President of India does not present colours to regiments, ships or air squadrons.
- The responsibility of being the guest of honour in his or her absence is prerogative of the Services Chiefs.
|INS Dronacharya:INS Dronacharya is the gunnery school of the Indian Navy.It is located in Kochi, Kerala.INS Dronacharya is entrusted with the training of officers and sailors of the Navy, Coast Guard and friendly foreign maritime forces on all aspects of gunnery and missile warfare.The unit is also the nodal centre for training of Sagar Prahari Bal and Navy’s centre for training in constabulary operations for several Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Nations.The unit is also the training authority for drill and ceremonials in the Navy and Coast Guard.INS Dronacharya was designated as the Centre for Excellence in Gunnery and Missile Warfare in 2004.The unit is affiliated with the Indian Army School of Artillery in the spirit of jointmanship.
Topic 3: EXERCISE SEA DRAGON 23
Context: A P8I aircraft of the Indian Navy arrived at Guam, USA on 14 Mar 23 to participate in ‘Exercise Sea Dragon 23’.
- This exercise is an annual, multi-national high-end anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training exercise of the navies of participant countries.
- It is hosted by the USA.
- Republic of Korea
- The Exercise aims to achieve high levels of synergy and coordination between the friendly navies, which is based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific.
Topic 4: Zoji La Pass and Razdan Pass
Context: Border Roads Organisation opens strategic Zoji La Pass and Razdan Pass.
- Zoji La Pass:
- Zoji La is a high mountain pass at an elevation of located on the boundary of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the Kargil district.
- NH1 (National Highway 1) between Srinagar and Leh traverses the pass.
- An all-weather Zoji-la Tunnel is under construction which will provide all weather connectivity to Ladakh.
- Razdan pass:
- Razdan Pass is located in the Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir in the Bandipora district.
- It connects the Gurez Valley in the north to the Kashmir Valley in the south.
- and is located in the Bandipora district.
- The pass is the only route connecting Gurez with the rest of the world.
- The Harmukh mountain, the highest peak in the surrounding area.
|The Border Roads OrganisationThe Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is a road construction executive force that is a part of the Indian Armed Forces.BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries.The organisation’s operations are spread across India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.This includes infrastructure operations in 19 states and three union territories (including Andaman and Nicobar Islands).The BRO was formed in 1960 to secure India’s borders and develop infrastructure in remote areas of the north and north-east states.The BRO consists of:Border Roads Wing under the Ministry of Defense andThe General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF).Officers are selected through the Indian Engineering Services (IES) Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).Few officers are also deputed from Indian Army Corps of Engineers.They are subjected to all provisions of the Army Act, 1950 and Army Rules, 1954 except a few exceptions.
Topic 5: Deep Ocean Mission
Context: Minister for State for Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences informed Lok Sabha that Deep Ocean Mission would not result in any over exploitation of the marine resources by the corporate houses and will not affect the life and livelihoods of fishers in the country.
- About the Mission:
- The mission is expected to explore the deep ocean for resources and at the same time, develop deep sea technologies that can be used for sustainable use of ocean resources.
- It is also known as the Samudrayaan Mission.
- With this mission, India will be joining the elite club of nations such as the US, Russia, Japan, France, and China to develop niche technology and vehicles to carry out subsea activities.
- The Deep Ocean Mission is related to the Blue Economy.
- The government is envisioning the new India by 2030 where the focus is also on the Blue Economy.
- The Blue Economy can simply be known as economic opportunities that are related to marine ecosystems and oceans.
- The activities of Deep Ocean Mission will help the components of blue economy such as:
- tourism and maritime transport,
- renewable energy,
- seabed extractive activities and
- marine biotechnology.
- Need for the Mission:
- Around 95 per cent of the deep ocean remains unexplored.
- In the case of India, the country is surrounded by the ocean on three sides and has around 30 per cent of its population living in coastal areas.
- Therefore, the ocean is a major economic factor that supports fisheries and aquaculture, livelihoods, tourism, and blue trade.
- Apart from this, oceans are also a storehouse of energy, food, medicines, minerals, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
- India has a unique maritime position and there is a need to consider the importance of the oceans on sustainability.
- Six major components:
- Ocean climate change advisory services:
- Under the mission, the government will work on development of models upon observations that will provide future projections of important climate variables.
- This will be made from seasonal to decadal time scales.
- This particular component will be supporting the “Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.”
- Technologies for deep sea mining, and manned submersible:
- The component is focused on developing a manned submersible that will be able to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean.
- Scientific sensors and tools can also be taken for an Integrated Mining System in order to conduct exploration services for mining polymetallic nodules.
- Polymetallic nodules, also known as manganese nodules, are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea.
- Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead etc., which are of economic and strategic importance.
- There are only a few countries that have acquired this capability.
- Conducting deep ocean survey and exploration:
- The Indian government is trying to explore as well as identify potential sites that have multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization within the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
- Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity:
- Under this component, the focus of the government will be bioprospecting of deep sea flora and fauna and also study how utilization of deep sea can be sustainable.
- Energy and freshwater from the ocean:
- For off-shore energy development, the aim under this component will be studying the detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).
- This will also power a desalination plant.
- Advanced marine station for ocean biology:
- The marine stations will be formed to study ocean biology and engineering.
- This component will translate research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
- Ocean climate change advisory services:
|Why are polymetallic nodules important for India?India has been allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).It is envisaged that 10 per cent of recovery of that large reserve can meet the energy requirement of India for the next 100 years.It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.India’s Exclusive Economic Zone spreads over 2.2 million square kilometres and in the deep sea, lies unexplored and unutilised.
- MATSYA 6000, is an indigenously developed manned submersible vehicle intended to be used for the Deep Sea Mission.
- Impact on biodiversity:
- These deep remote locations can be home to unique species that have adapted themselves to conditions such as poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures.
- Such mining expeditions can make them go extinct even before they are known to science.
- Focus only on exploration guidelines:
- The deep sea’s biodiversity and ecology remain poorly understood, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and frame adequate guidelines.
- Though strict guidelines have been framed, they are only exploration guidelines.
- Sediment plumes:
- Environmentalists are also worried about the sediment plumes that will be generated as the suspended particles can rise to the surface harming the filter feeders in the upper ocean layers.
- Undersea pollution:
- Concerns have been raised about the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spills from the operating vessels.
Is deep sea mining economically viable?
- It will be commercially viable only if about three million tonnes are mined per year.
- The technologies required for deep sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available.
- Hence, attempts should be made to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries.
- This mission is also directed toward capacity development in Marine Biology, which will provide job opportunities.
- The United Nations (UN) has declared the decade, 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and India has a unique maritime position.
- The Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030 can be fulfilled with a successful Deep Ocean Mission.
Topic 6: Atal Jyoti Yojana
Context: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy informed the Lok Sabha about the progress of Atal Jyoti Yojana.
About the Scheme:
- What is it?
- Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) is a sub-scheme under Off- Grid and Decentralized Solar Application Scheme.
- Concerned Ministry:
- It comes under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
- Under AJAY, Solar LED Lights are being installed in rural, semi-urban and urban areas which don’t have adequate coverage of power.
- Implementing authority:
- Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has been entrusted to implement the scheme.
- MNRE will provide 75% of the cost of street lights and 25% will come from Member of Parliament Local Area Development funds (MPLADS).
Topic 7: Saubhagya Electrification Scheme
Context: Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy informed that under the scheme a total 2.86 crore households have been electrified.
About the scheme:
- Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – Saubhagya was launched in 2017.
- Achieving universal household electrification, by providing electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas and all poor households in urban areas in the country.
- Salient features of the scheme:
- Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas.
- Providing Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) based standalone systems for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible villages where grid extension is not feasible or cost effective.
- Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining economically poor un-electrified households in urban areas.
- Non-poor urban households are excluded from this scheme.
Issues with rural electrification
- Definition of an electrified village under rural electrification scheme (2005)
- An electrified village is defined as one that has the following:
- provision of basic infrastructure such as distribution transformers and lines in the inhabited locality,
- provision of electricity in public places like schools, panchayat office, health centers, dispensaries, and community centers, and
- at least 10% of the total number of households in the village are electrified.
- An electrified village is defined as one that has the following:
- Hence according to this definition, a village would be called electrified even if up to 90% of households in it do not have an electricity connection.
- Inadequate infrastructure:
- It also noted that the infrastructure being provided under the scheme is highly inadequate, unreliable and unsustainable.
- The actual electrification requirement of villages must be assessed, and it should be ensured that the state discoms provide electricity to the remaining households in the village.
- Supply of electricity
- While the rural electrification scheme looks at creating infrastructure, the actual supply of electricity to households rests with the state discoms.
- These discoms are already facing huge financial losses and hence are unable to supply electricity to the villages.
- Discoms continue to supply subsidised power to agricultural and residential consumers, resulting in revenue losses.
- Electricity to below poverty line (BPL) households
- Under the scheme, the cost for providing free electricity connection per BPL household is Rs 3,000.
- It has been observed that this cost per household may be inadequate.
- Due to the low cost, the quantity and the quality of work has been getting compromised leading to poor implementation of the scheme.
Topic 8: Lakhpati Didi scheme
Context: In a historic step to make Lakhpati Didis from the Self Help Groups (SHGs), Ministry of Rural Development signs MoU with Ministry of Ayush for skilling of rural youth and empowering women
About the scheme:
- Under the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ (Women with annual earnings of Rs. 1 lakh and more) scheme for women belonging to Self Help Groups (SHGs), they will be encouraged to take up micro-enterprises with skill development.
- It aims to double the income of women associated with these organizations.
- Efforts will be made under the scheme for the products to get market at national and international level also.
- E-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, Mantra, PayTM Mall and Government e-Market Place (GeM) are also being tied up to get fair market for women’s products belonging to Self Help Groups.
Topic 9: Jarracharra
Context: Australia’s High Commissioner visits Jarracharra: Dry Season Wind Exhibition of Australian Textiles at National Crafts Museum.
- ‘Jarracharra: Dry Season Wind’ exhibition is organized by Ministry of Textile and Australian High Commission
- It showcases a powerful collection of Aboriginal women’s textile art from the Maningrida region in Western Arnhem Land, Australia.
- This exhibition features women pushing artistic barriers to depict ancient narratives using contemporary mediums.
- Jarracharra represents a metaphor for the way the Bábbarra Women’s Centre brings together different Aboriginal cultures and stories from across Arnhem Land.
- The exhibition has arrived in India for the first time.
- Jarracharra is the powerful cool wind that blows across Arnhem Land each dry season, signifying the beginning of a period of exchange between clans and an annual ceremonial coming together.
Topic 10: Desalination
Context: Stepping up from its ongoing initiative of providing potable water on six islands of Lakshadweep using low temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) technology, the Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) is working at making this process free of emissions.
- Currently, the desalination plants are powered by diesel generator sets — there being no other source of power on the islands.
- How Low temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) works:
- The LTTD exploits the difference in temperature (nearly 15 degrees Celsius) in ocean water at the surface and at depths of about 600 feet.
- This cold water condenses water at the surface, which is warmer but whose pressure has been lowered using vacuum pumps.
- Such depressurised water can evaporate even at ambient temperatures, this resulting vapour when condensed is free of salts and contaminants and fit to consume.
- Need for an emission free process:
- The need for diesel power to reduce the water pressure means that the process is not fossil-fuel free and also consumes diesel.
- Hence there is a need to develop a process that can optimally use the resources.
- National Institute of Ocean Technology:
- The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) was established in 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- Headquarter: Chennai.
- to develop reliable indigenous technologies to solve various engineering problems associated with harvesting of non-living and living resources in India’s exclusive economic zone.
What is desalination?
- Desalination is the process by which the dissolved mineral salts in water are removed to obtain fresh water for human consumption or agricultural purposes.
- Desalination occurs naturally during the water cycle:
- The evaporation of seawater leaves salt behind and forms clouds that give rise to rain.
- The first country to adopt this process at a large scale was Australia.
- It has plants in the main cities that operate through reverse osmosis.
- Saudi Arabia is the leading desalination country by volume, followed by the United Arab Emirates, both of which are desert countries and highly dependent on this process.
- Distillation, consisting of boiling seawater in a still, collecting steam and condensing it to obtain fresh water, is the most obvious method for removing salt, but not the most effective one since it consumes large amounts of energy.
- Reverse osmosis
- It is the most used process and consumes less energy than the rest, as it is based on the use of semipermeable membranes that allow the water to pass, but not the salt.
- These membranes are made of ultra-thin polyamide, which can become contaminated with bacteria so the water must be treated.
- Solar distillation
- Imitating the water cycle, it consists of evaporating seawater in large facilities with roofs where it is condensed and collected as fresh water.
- Although the energy used is the sun’s heat, large areas of land are required.
- It consists of moving the salt water through electrically charged membranes that trap the salt ions dissolved in the water, allowing fresh water to be extracted.
- It is a process that uses nanotube membranes with higher permeability than reverse osmosis ones, which allows more water to be processed in less space using less energy.
- These membranes are manufactured with sulfonated compounds which, in addition to salt, eliminate traces of pollutants.
- Gas hydrate formation
- Gas hydrates are solid crystals that are formed by combining water with a gas, such as propane, at high pressure and at low temperature.
- During the process, all the salts and impurities present in the water disappear and as the temperature increases the gas can be recovered leaving fresh water.
Key issues with desalination:
- It may be key to solving water scarcity in the future.
- The water desalination process is not impact-free since the residue resulting from the process is brine, wastewater with a high concentration of salt and pollutants, which in many cases is discharged into the sea and affects ecosystems.
- There is also a risk of seepage that can contaminate coastal aquifers.
- Many desalination processes require heating water, pressurising it, or both, entailing a high energy cost.
- Use renewable energy, such as solar, to reduce the consumption of the desalination plants.
- To use biotechnology, for example, by cultivating cyanobacteria that are capable of processing seawater, forming a low-salinity deposit around it.
|Desalination in IndiaIn India, Tamil Nadu has been the pioneer in using this technology, setting up two desalination plants near Chennai in 2010 and then 2013.The other states that have proposed these plants are Gujarat, which has announced to set up a 100 MLD RO plant at the Jodiya coast in Jamnagar district.Andhra Pradesh, too, has plans of setting up a plant.