27 April Current Affairs
April 27, 2020
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April 29, 2020
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28 April Current Affairs

Reforms in Saudi Arabia

In News:

Recently, Saudi Arabia has abolished flogging (whipping or lashing) as a form of punishment and the death sentence for minors.

The Islamic kingdom has no codified system of law. The individual judges interpret Islamic law (Sharia) and come up with their own sentences.

Key Points:

  1. a) Abolition of Flogging as Punishment:

Before abolition, flogging was mandatory as a form of corporal punishment and could extend to hundreds of lashes.

Courts ordered it for murder, breach of peace, homosexuality, consumption or possession of alcohol, adultery and insulting Islam, among others.

  1. b) Abolition of Death Sentence for Minors:

It ensures that no-one who committed crimes as minors could receive the death sentence for those crimes. Instead, the individual will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility.

However, there is a possibility of exception for people who carry out terrorism-related crimes as minors.

The practise of capital punishment for crimes committed by people under the age of 18 was in contradiction to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

However, the country still practices public executions and other forms of corporal punishment such as amputation for theft. It has been criticised for them as well.

Human rights organization Amnesty International lists Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s most prolific executioners, after Iran and China. In its latest report, it said the kingdom had executed 184 people in 2019.

The country has also been widely criticized for the continued repression of dissidents and political activists.

The Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) jurisdiction was expanded from the trials of alleged violent extremists to include political dissidents, religious minorities and human rights activists.

SSC was created in 2008 to prosecute detainees held after the 2003 terrorist attack claimed by al-Qaeda.

Reforms Taken:

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has overseen a series of social and economic reforms known as ‘Saudi Vision 2030’.

These are aimed at modernising the country, reducing its dependence on oil, expanding its economy, developing the public service sector and bringing it in line with international human rights norms.

Pitch Black

In News:

Recently, Australia has informed India that the exercise Pitch Black 2020, scheduled to be held from 27th July to 14th August has been cancelled due to the Covid-19.

The next edition will be held in 2022.

Key Points:

Exercise Pitch Black is a biennial three-week multilateral air combat training exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Its last edition was held in 2018.

It ensures that the training and integration of forces that occur during this exercise directly supports the Air Force’s ability to conduct operations.

Cooperation between India and Australia:

1) Defence Cooperation

It is based on the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation 2006, the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation 2009 and the bilateral framework for Security Cooperation 2014.

Australia and India are committed to working together to enhance maritime cooperation and have had AUSINDEX since 2015.

Australia recently suggested trilateral cooperation among India, Australia and Indonesia to identify new ways for collaboration for the safety and security of the Indian Ocean.

India and Australia both border the Indian Ocean and have a shared interest in the maintenance of freedom of navigation and trade.

Australia recognises India’s critical role in supporting security, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region.

2) Civil Nuclear Cooperation

A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was signed in September 2014 which came into force in November 2015.

The deal ensures that Uranium mining companies of Australia can supply uranium to India for civil use.

It also ensures that any future bilateral trade in other nuclear-related material or items for civil use will also be protected.

3) Consular Cooperation –

India and Australia signed the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and the Extradition Treaty in June 2008, which has been ratified by both the governments, and has come into force since January 2011.

Basava Jayanthi

In News:

The Prime Minister greeted the people on Global Basava Jayanthi – 2020 held digitally on April 26, 2020, connecting followers in India and abroad.

Details:

Basava Jayanthi is an annual event celebrated in the honour of the birth of Vishwaguru Basaveshwara, the 12th century philosopher and social reformer who gave a unique spiritual path to mankind.

Key Points:

Basaveshwara was born in Bagevadi (of undivided Bijapur district in Karnataka) during 1131 AD. He is the founding saint of the Lingayat sect.

His spiritual discipline was based on the principles of Arivu (true knowledge), Achara (right conduct), and Anubhava (divine experience) and it brought social, religious and economical revolution in the 12th century.

This path advocates a holistic approach of Lingangayoga (union with the divine). This comprehensive discipline encompasses bhakti (devotion), jnana (knowledge), and kriye (action) in a well balanced manner.

In Kalyana, the Kalchuri king Bijjala (1157-1167, AD) appointed Basaveshwara as a karanika (Accountant) in the initial stage, in his court and later as the Prime minister.

Here, Basaveshwara revolted against all the social evils of the traditionalistic society and brought a drastic change in various facets.

His practical approach and act of establishment of ‘Kalyana Rajya’ (Welfare state) brought a new status and position for all the citizens of the society, irrespective of class, caste, creed and sex.

Basaveshwara gave two more very important socio-economic principles. They are:

1) Kayaka (Divine work): According to this, every individual of the society should take up the job of his choice and perform it with all sincerity.

2) Dasoha (Equal distribution):

There must be an equal income for equal work.

The worker (Kayakajeevi) may lead his day-today life by his hard earned income. But he should not preserve the money or property for tomorrow. He must utilise the surplus money for the society and poors.

On 14th November 2015, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the statue of Basavanna along the bank of the river Thames at Lambeth in London.

Merger Of Two Black Holes with Unequal Masses Detected

Dominant emission of gravitational waves happens at twice the orbital frequency of the binary blackholes of equal masses and is negligible.

In binary blackholes with unequal masses, the emission happens at a frequency that is three times the orbital frequency.

Orbital frequency is a scalar measure of rotation rate.

Also, in the merger of unequal black holes, the spin of the more massive black hole can be determined from the extra features in the signal waveform.

The new unequal mass system is a unique discovery since all binaries observed previously by the LIGO and Virgo (Italy) detectors consisted of two roughly similar masses. This will make it possible to infer many more things such as:

a more accurate determination of the distance from the event.

the spin or angular momentum of the black hole with more mass.

the orientation of the whole event with respect to viewers on Earth.

Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory:

LIGO is the world’s largest gravitational wave observatory.

LIGO consists of two widely separated interferometers within the United States – one in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston, Louisiana – operated in unison to detect gravitational waves.

Hydrogen Fuel

In News:

NTPC Ltd, India’s largest power producer and a central PSU under Ministry of Power, has invited Global Expression of Interest (EoI) to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) based electric buses and an equal number of Hydrogen Fuel Cell based electric cars in Leh and Delhi.

Details:

The move to procure Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles is first of its kind project in the country, wherein a complete solution from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle would be developed.

What is Hydrogen fuel?

Hydrogen is the lightest and first element on the periodic table. Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, H2.

At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.

Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.

Occurrence of Hydrogen:

It is the most abundant element in the universe. The sun and other stars are composed largely of hydrogen.

Astronomers estimate that 90% of the atoms in the universe are hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen is a component of more compounds than any other element.

Water is the most abundant compound of hydrogen found on earth.

Molecular hydrogen is not available on Earth in convenient natural reservoirs. Most hydrogen on Earth is bonded to oxygen in water and to carbon in live or dead and/or fossilized biomass. It can be created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Storage:

Hydrogen can be stored physically as either a gas or a liquid. Storage of hydrogen as a gas typically requires high-pressure tanks. Storage of hydrogen as a liquid requires cryogenic temperatures because the boiling point of hydrogen at one atmosphere pressure is −252.8°C. Hydrogen can also be stored on the surfaces of solids (by adsorption) or within solids (by absorption).

Potential of clean hydrogen industry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

Hydrogen as a fuel has long been touted as an almost magical solution to air pollution crisis. The only by-product or emission that results from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water — making the fuel 100 per cent clean.

Hydrogen is considered an alternative fuel. It is due to its ability to power fuel cells in zero-emission electric vehicles, its potential for domestic production, and the fuel cell’s potential for high efficiency.

In fact, a fuel cell coupled with an electric motor is two to three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline.

Hydrogen can also serve as fuel for internal combustion engines.

The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas contains about the same as the energy in 1 gallon (6.2 pounds, 2.8 kilograms) of gasoline.

Benefits of hydrogen as a fuel:

  • It is readily available.
  • It doesn’t produce harmful emissions.
  • It is environmentally friendly and is a non-toxic substance.
  • It can be used as fuel in rockets.
  • Hydrogen is three times as powerful as gasoline and other fossil fuels. This means that it can accomplish more with less.
  • It is fuel efficient. Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.
  • It is renewable. It can be produced again and again, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy.

Limitations to Hydrogen production:

  • Hydrogen does not occur in deposits or reserves like fossil fuel. It needs to be actually produced using chemical reactions.
  • Hydrogen, using renewables, is far more expensive to produce. And hydrogen-fueled vehicles are also more expensive than even battery-electric ones.
  • It is highly flammable. It is difficult to store.
  • The clean hydrogen industry is small and costs are high. There is a big potential for costs to fall, but the use of hydrogen needs to be scaled up and a network of supply infrastructure created.

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