01 April Current Affairs
April 1, 2019
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April 3, 2019
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02 April Current Affairs

Forest fires threatening Odisha’s flora and fauna

In News:

Odisha had registered a sudden jump in forest fires across the State resulting in massive damage to flora and fauna.

Details:

As many as 5,332 fire spots had been noticed since November 1 last year, the beginning of forest fire season, in the State. The month of March had alone registered 4,495 fire spots.

Why worry about forest fires?

Apart from causing a huge loss to the timber and other fruit and leaf bearing trees and creepers of the forest, fires also destroy wildlife and their habitat. Nests and eggs of ground dwelling birds are lost. Reptiles also lose their young ones due to forest fires.

Causes of Forest Fire:

Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man-made or anthropogenic causes.

Natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. High atmospheric temperatures and low humidity offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start.

Man-made causes like flame, cigarette, electric spark or any source of ignition will also cause forest fires.

Traditionally Indian forests have been affected by fires. The problem has been aggravated with rising human and cattle population and the increase in demand for grazing, shifting cultivation and Forest products by individuals and communities.

High temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells can intensify the forest fires.

Preparedness and mitigation measures:

Forest fires are usually seasonal. They usually start in the dry season and can be prevented by adequate precautions.

Increase the number of fire fighters as well as equip them properly with drinking water bottles, back-up supplies of food and water, proper shoes or boots, rakes, spades and other implements, light, rechargeable torches, and so on.

Seasonal labour could be contracted during the fire season.

With adequate training, they would serve to fill gaps along the line. Local villagers would be the best resource.

To keep the source of fire separated from combustible material.

Do not allow combustible material to pile up

Adopt safe practices in areas near forests viz. factories, coalmines, oil stores, chemical plants and even in household kitchens.

In case of forest fires, the volunteer teams are essential not only for fire fighting but also to keep watch on the start of forest and sound an alert.

Arrange fire fighting drills

Extra funds should be used for hiring more Forest Department field staff to put out fires during the fire season and to patrol the forests during other times.

How does government get informed on Forest Fire?

When a fire is detected by NASA’s MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) satellites, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) analyses the data by overlaying the digitised boundaries of forest areas to pinpoint the location to the exact forest compartment.

The FSI relays news of the fire to the concerned State, so that the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in charge of the forest where the fire is raging is informed.

About MODIS:

MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is a key instrument aboard the Terra (originally known as EOS AM-1) and Aqua (originally known as EOS PM-1) satellites.

Terra’s orbit around the Earth is timed so that it passes from north to south across the equator in the morning, while Aqua passes south to north over the equator in the afternoon.

Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the entire Earth’s surface every 1 to 2 days, acquiring data in 36 spectral bands, or groups of wavelengths.

Significance: These data will improve our understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the land, in the oceans, and in the lower atmosphere. MODIS is playing a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment.

Source: The Hindu

EMISAT MISSION

In News:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched the country’s first electronic surveillance satellite, EMISAT.

Details:

It was launched on-board PSLV-C45. As many as 28 small satellites of international customers were also put in space as secondary riders.

How does EMISAT work?

EMISAT is an advanced electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite jointly developed by ISRO-DRDO. It is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurements.

It is modelled after a famous Israeli spy satellite called SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika). Both these satellites have the SSB-2 bus protocol — the core component for their sharp electronic surveillance capabilities across the length and width of a large country like India.

EMISAT also has a special altimeter (a radar altitude measuring device) called ‘AltiKa’ that works in the Ka-band microwave region of the spectrum. The electronic surveillance payload of EMISAT was developed under a DRDO’s project called KAUTILYA.

The main capability of EMISAT is in signal intelligence — intercepting signals broadcasted by communication systems, radars, and other electronic systems. The Ka-band frequency that EMISAT is sensitive to, allows the 436-kg EMISAT — India’s newest spy in the sky — to scan through ice, rain, coastal zones, land masses, forests and wave heights with ease.

Many First In The Launch:

First time ISRO is launching satellites in three different orbits.

The PSLV-C45 launch vehicle is also the first PSLV rocket to use four strap-on motors. The four strap-on motor rockets are from the PSLV-QL range.

This is the first time it has been envisaged to provide a microgravity environment for research organizations and academic institutes to perform experiments.

The PSLV-C45 is also the first launch to use solar panels to make the fourth stage last longer in orbit. Using the solar panels in the fourth stage, the PSLV can provide power to attached payloads almost indefinitely.

PSLV-C45: First Launch Vehicle to Use Solar Propulsion.

Source: The Hindu

SEBI mulls SRO for investment advisers

In News:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed a self-regulatory organisation (SRO) for the growing number of investment advisers to address issues related to the quality of advice given to investors by such entities.

Key facts:

SRO is the first-level regulator that performs the crucial task of regulating intermediaries representing a particular segment of securities market on behalf of the regulator. It would be seen as an extension of the regulatory authority of the SEBI and would perform the tasks delegated to it by the SEBI.

The role of SRO is developmental, regulatory, related to grievance redressal and dispute resolution as well as taking disciplinary actions.

The regulator has proposed a governing board with at least 50% public interest directors along with 25% representation each of shareholder directors and elected representatives.

Further, the governing board can appoint a managing director or chief executive officer to manage the daily affairs of the SRO.

Need:

SEBI was in receipt of a large number of complaints alleging charging of exorbitant fees, assurance of returns, misconduct etc. by investment advisers. Given the growth in this segment of the market, it was felt that the time is appropriate to initiate the formation of an SRO.

Source: The Hindu

India gains access to Bolivian Lithium Reserves

In News:

India and Bolivia have signed an agreement for the development and industrial use of lithium, a prime component used to power electric vehicles and cell phones.

Key facts:

India and Bolivia agreed to forge a mutually beneficial partnership to facilitate Bolivian supplies of lithium Carbonate to India and foster joint ventures for lithium battery/cell production plants in India.

This agreement will make Bolivia, which is known to have one-fourth of the world’s lithium reserves, one of the major provider of metal for India’s e-mobility and e-storage needs.

The agreement facilitates mechanisms for the commercialization of Lithium Carbonate and Potassium Chloride produced in Bolivia by Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos Corporación (YLB – Corporación).

Significance of the agreement:

Bolivia is estimated to hold over 60% of the world’s reserves for lithium but has not yet started producing it commercially.

India is the second largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world and has the ambitious goal of 30 per cent electric vehicles by 2030. But India imports all its lithium-ion batteries since India has no known sources of lithium, and zero lithium-ion battery manufacturing capabilities currently.

As a result, India is heavily dependent on China, Taiwan and Japan for import, especially of batteries required for portable electronics.

With this agreement, number of Indian companies setting up production capabilities in Bolivia goes up, as well as the import of lithium to India.

Domestic production is also set to see a boost, from the automotive perspective. Further, the arrival of hybrids and electric vehicles from as early as 2020 onwards, will force manufacturers to look at local production.

This agreement could also turn out to be the backbone for the recently launched FAME India policy (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) and will also give a substantial push to India’s ambition to have at least 30 per cent of its vehicles run on electric batteries by 2030.

Kandhamal Haldi

In News:

Odisha’s Kandhamal Haldi (turmeric), famous for its healing properties, has received GI tag.

Key facts:

The golden yellow spice, named after the district where it is produced, has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value.

Turmeric is the main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal. Apart from domestic use, turmeric is also used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

More than 60,000 families (nearly 50% of Kandhamal population) are engaged in growing the variety. The crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions.

About GI tag:

A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

Significance of a GI tag: Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

Security: Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.

Provisions in this regard: GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.

At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.

‘Café Scientifique’

In News:

‘Café Scientifique’ is the first of its kind initiative in the State of Kerala aimed at popularising Science.

Objective:

The café envisages to bring science back into popular culture by demystifying scientific research for the public and empowering non-scientists to comfortably assess science and technology issues, particularly those that impact social policymaking.

Background:

It is a grassroots public science initiative based on the French Café Philosophique model. Originating in England, the concept quickly gained popularity and was adopted by other countries.

The plan is to organise meetings of science enthusiasts in the district every month at a café or a convenient place, where one or more scientists are invited to talk to the public about new developments in science.

The project is also aimed at making science relevant, powerful and important to the public, especially the younger generations.

Various topics such as universe, climate change, evolution, genetics and human-animal relations will be discussed in every monthly gathering.

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