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12th October Current Affairs

Iran makes more 20% enriched uranium than watchdog reported

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

Iran has produced more than 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium,  far more than what the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported last month.

Background:

In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 20% fissile purity was estimated at 84.3 kilograms (185 pounds) up from 62.8 kilograms (138 pounds) three months earlier.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA:

The 2015 deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.

Under the deal with world powers, the other signatories were to provide Iran with 20% enriched uranium needed for its research reactor.

Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran was prohibited from enriching uranium above 3.67% with the exception of its research reactor activities.

What is the goal of uranium enrichment?

Uranium contains a rare radioactive isotope, called U-235, that can be used to power nuclear reactors at low enrichment levels and to fuel nuclear bombs at much higher levels.

The goal of uranium enrichment is to raise the percentage levels of U-235, which is often done through the use of centrifuges — machines that spin a form of unrefined uranium at high speeds.

How much enriched uranium does Iran now possess according to IAEA?

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear-monitoring arm of the United Nations, Iran as of February had amassed 2,967.8 kilograms of uranium — roughly 14 times the limit under the nuclear accord and theoretically enough to power about three atomic bombs if refined to weapons grade. The stockpile includes 17.6 kilograms enriched to 20 percent — also forbidden under the accord until the year 2030.

What’s the concern now?

What makes the enrichment particularly threatening is that the tricky process of enrichment becomes far easier and requires fewer centrifuges as it moves into the higher purities. In other words, getting to 90 percent purity is much easier starting from 20 percent, and easier still starting from 60 percent.

Bio-decomposer to tackle stubble burning

(GS-III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)

In News:

The Delhi government has started spraying bio-decomposer solution in farmlands to decompose the stubble left after the harvest.

Background:

The Delhi government sees the bio-decomposer as a solution to stubble burning and has been urging other States to adopt this method. The government first sprayed it last year and claimed that the results were positive.

How were these bio-decomposers formed?

Pusa Decomposer is a mix of seven fungi that produce enzymes to digest cellulose, lignin and pectin in paddy straw.

The fungi thrive at 30-32 degree Celsius, which is the temperature prevailing when paddy is harvested and wheat is sown.

How these decomposers are used on fields?

A liquid formulation is formed using decomposer capsules and fermenting it over 8-10 days and then spraying the mixture on fields with crop stubble to ensure speedy bio-decomposition of the stubble.

The farmers can prepare 25 litre of liquid mixture with 4 capsules, jaggery and chickpea flour. The mixture is sufficient to cover 1 hectare of land.

It takes around 20 days for the degradation process to be completed.

Benefits of PUSA decomposers:

Improves the fertility and productivity of the soil as the stubble works as manure and compost for the crops and lesser fertiliser consumption is required in the future.

It is an efficient and effective, cheaper, doable and practical technique to stop stubble burning.

It is an eco-friendly and environmentally useful technology.

Rajasthan’s marriage registration Bill

(GS-I: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues)

In News:

The Rajasthan government has rolled back the Rajasthan Compulsory Registrations of Marriage Amendment Bill, 2021, after it got embroiled in controversy for making it mandatory to register all marriages, including those of minors.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

The Bill sought to amend Sections 5 and 8 of the Act, dealing with the appointment of Marriage Registration Officers and the duty of parties to a marriage to submit the memorandum for registration.

The amendment authorises the women above 18 years to provide information of their marriage on their own.

Controversial provisions:

The amendment amends Section 8 of the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, which deals with “Duty to submit Memorandum”.

The original provision in the law required mandatory registration of marriage within 30 days if the bride and bridegroom were under 21 years of age. The age criterion for both men and women was the same. The registration was to be done by their parents.

The amended version said the parents must register the marriage within 30 days of the wedding “if the bride is under 18 and the bridegroom is under 21”.

Why was this amendment made?

The state government argues that this would bring the age in line with central legislation which recognises the age of 18 as majority for a girl and 21 for a boy.

Registration of child marriages would help in their faster annulment and help the government reach out to more victims, particularly widows.

Implications of the move:

If passed, it would open the floodgates” for child marriage in the state and give “validation to what is a social evil”.

Compulsory registration of child marriage would legitimise it.

Activists have also said the marriage certificate might in fact, contrary to government claims, become a hurdle in getting an annulment later as courts could cite lack of a marriage certificate as a reason to not grant an annulment.

Background:

Rajasthan had banned child marriage by bringing the Child Marriage Prohibition Act in 2006.

The law appears to have helped to bring down the instances of child marriage, as indicated in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data of 2015-16.

Indian Space Association

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Indian Space Association (ISpA) was recently formally launched by Prime Minister Modi.

It will be the premier industry association of space and satellite companies.

Aims and objectives:

ISpA aims to be a forum of the space industry in the Indian private sector and partner the Government of India and other key stakeholders across space industry segments in making the nation self-reliant in the area as well as to become a global service provider.

ISpA aims to contribute to the Government of India’s vision of making India Atmanirbhar and a global leader in the space arena, which is fast emerging as the next growth frontier for mankind.

Composition/members:

ISpA is represented by leading home grown and global corporations with advanced capabilities in space and satellite technologies.

Its founding members include Bharti Airtel, Larson & Toubro, Nelco (Tata Group), OneWeb, Mapmyindia, Walchandnagar Industries and Alpha Design Technologies.

Other core members include Godrej, Hughes India, Ananth Technology Limited, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, BEL, Centum Electronics, Maxar India.

Functions:

The association will engage with stakeholders across the ecosystem for the formulation of an enabling policy framework that fulfils the Government’s vision.

ISpA will also work towards building global linkages for the Indian space industry to bring in critical technology and investments into the country to create more high skill jobs.

ISpA also plans to work in very close coordination with IN-SPACe to further the space vision of the Government.

Significance:

With our large talent pool, growing prowess of home grown technology startups and private enterprises the country is at an inflexion point of what will be a giant leap in the space arena.

India has the potential to become a technology leader and frugal service provider to the global space industry.

Globally, private enterprise are increasingly contributing to unlocking the possibilities of space.

Space sector reforms:

For 75 years since independence, Indian space has been dominated by a single umbrella of Indian government and government institutions.

Scientists of India have made huge achievements in these decades, but the need of the hour is that there should be no restrictions on Indian talent, whether it is in the public sector or in the private sector.

Besides, according to ISRO, the current size of the global space economy stands at about USD 360 billion. However, India accounts for only about 2% of the space economy with a potential to capture 9% of the global market share by 2030.

How are space-based communications networks growing?

Several Indian and international companies have bet on satellite communications as the next frontier to provide internet connectivity at the retail level. This includes SpaceX’s StarLink, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, US satellite maker Hughes Communications, etc.

Benefits of satellite internet:

Industry experts suggest that satellite internet will be essential for broadband inclusion in remote areas and sparsely populated locations where terrestrial networks have not reached.

As of now, however, satellite communications remains limited to use by corporates and institutions that use it for emergency use, critical trans-continental communications and for connecting to remote areas with no connectivity.

Concerns and challenges:

There are also concerns over the crowding of the orbital space by these multiple launches. This might lead to increase in space debris.