16th April Current Affairs
April 16, 2022
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April 19, 2022
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18th April Current Affairs

India gets S-400 training equipment

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

In News:

S-400 training equipment and simulators have arrived in India from Russia.

However, there is a delay in the delivery of the second regiment of S-400 from Russia due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Concerns for India:

There is the threat of U.S. sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) on India for imports from Russia. However, nothing is clear as of now.

What is the S-400 air defence missile system? Why does India need it?

The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.

It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

What is CAATSA, and how did the S-400 deal fall foul of this Act?

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)‘s core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.

Enacted in 2017.

Includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

What sanctions will be imposed?

  • prohibition on loans to the sanctioned person.
  • prohibition of Export-Import bank assistance for exports to sanctioned persons.
  • prohibition on procurement by United States Government to procure goods or services from the sanctioned person.
  • denial of visas to persons closely associated with the sanctioned person.

Significance of the deal:

The S-400 decision is a very strong example of how advanced our defence and strategic partnership is, and how strong Indian sovereignty is, to choose its international partners, especially when it comes to issues of national interest and national security.

Why is India looking to boost wheat exports?

(GS-III: Different crops and cropping patterns)

In News:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent western sanctions on Russia have affected wheat exports from the Black Sea region and impacted food security in several countries, especially in Africa and West Asia.

Details:

The disruption to global wheat supplies in turn has thrown open opportunities that India’s grain exporters are eyeing, especially given the domestic surplus availability of the cereal.

India’s wheat production and consumption:

India expects to produce 112 million tonnes of wheat in the current season. The government requires 24-26 million tonnes a year for its food security programmes.

Status of India’s wheat exports:

Wheat exports in the 2021-2022 financial year were estimated at 7.85 million tonnes, a quadrupling from 2.1 million tonnes in the previous year.

Exports this fiscal are expected to be almost 10 million tonnes worth $3 billion.

Why India?

More countries are turning to India because of the competitive price, acceptable quality, availability of surplus wheat and geopolitical reasons.

Which new markets are expected to buy from India?

Egypt, Jordan and countries in East Africa are also likely to source the foodgrain from India.

What is being done to facilitate exports?

The Commerce Ministry has put in place an internal mechanism to facilitate it and get the paperwork ready for the related sanitary and phytosanitary applications to help facilitate shipments.

The railways are providing rakes on priority to move the wheat.

The railways, ports, and testing laboratories are all geared up to meet the requirements.

Ammonia in Yamuna

(GS-III: Pollution related issues)

In News:

Water supply was disrupted in parts of Delhi once again when ammonia levels in the Yamuna river remained high on 16th April.

Details:

The concentration of ammonia in the river was 7.4 ppm (parts per million), seven times the level of around 1 ppm that the Delhi Jal Board’s water treatment plants (WTPs) can process.

What is the acceptable limit?

The acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water, as per the Bureau of Indian Standards, is 0.5 ppm.

What is ammonia and what are its effects?

Ammonia is a colourless gas and is used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and other products.

It consists of hydrogen and nitrogen. In its aqueous form, it is called ammonium hydroxide.

This inorganic compound has a pungent smell.

Occurrence: Ammonia occurs naturally in the environment from the breakdown of organic waste matter.

It is lighter than air.

Contamination:

It may find its way to ground and surface water sources through industrial effluents or through contamination by sewage.

If the concentration of ammonia in water is above 1 ppm it is toxic to fishes.

In humans, long term ingestion of water having ammonia levels of 1 ppm or above may cause damage to internal organs.

How does it enter the Yamuna?

The most likely source is believed to be effluents from dye units, distilleries and other factories in Panipat and Sonepat districts in Haryana, and also sewage from some unsewered colonies in this stretch of the river.

What needs to be done?

Stringent implementation of guidelines against dumping harmful waste into the river.

Making sure untreated sewage does not enter the water.

Maintain a sustainable minimum flow, called the ecological flow. This is the minimum amount of water that should flow throughout the river at all times to sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods, and for self regulation.

Challenges ahead:

Delhi depends on Haryana for up to 70 per cent of its water needs.

Haryana, with a large number of people involved in agriculture, has water paucity issues of its own.

Both states have argued over maintaining 10 cumecs (cubic meter per second) flow in the Yamuna at all times.

Both states have approached the courts several times over the past decade to get what they call an equitable share of water.

The lack of a minimum ecological flow also means accumulation of other pollutants. After water is extracted from the river for treatment in North East Delhi, what flows is mostly untreated sewage and refuse from homes, runoff from storm water drains and effluents from unregulated industry.

Parboiled rice

(GS-III: Different crops and cropping patterns)

In News:

The Centre has said it will stop the purchase of excess parboiled rice, of which Telangana is a major producer.

Details:

The demand for parboiled rice has come down in recent years.

What is parboiled rice?

It is rice that has been partially boiled at the paddy stage, before milling. Parboiling of rice is not a new practice, and has been followed in India since ancient times.

How is it prepared today?

There are several processes for parboiling rice. For example:

CFTRI, Mysuru, uses a method in which the paddy is soaked in hot water for three hohours. The water is then drained and the paddy steamed for 20 minutes. Also, the paddy is dried in the shade.

Chromate soaking process: It uses chromate, a family of salt in which the anion contains both chromium and oxygen, which removes the odour from the wet rice.

All processes generally involve three stages — soaking, steaming and drying. After passing through these stages, the paddy goes for milling.

What are the benefits?

Parboiling makes rice tougher. This reduces the chances of the rice kernel breaking during milling.

Parboiling also increases the nutrient value of the rice.

Parboiled rice has a higher resistance to insects and fungi.

Disadvantages:

The rice becomes darker and may smell unpleasant due to prolonged soaking.

Besides, setting up a parboiling rice milling unit requires a higher investment than a raw rice milling unit.