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6th July Current Affairs

Panel suggests increasing tenure of House committees

(GS-II: Parliament- structure, functioning and conduct of business, parliamentary committees etc)

In News:

There should be a dedicated hour during the Rajya Sabha proceedings to discuss the“import and implications’ ‘of the reports finalized by Parliamentary Standing Committees, a panel headed by former General Secretary and adviser P.P.K. Ramacharyulu has recommended it.

Details:

It studied the working of the Rajya Sabha secretariat and other procedural issues and made 130 recommendations.

This is the first-ever comprehensive study of the Rajya Sabha secretariat.

The Rajya Sabha secretariat, which started in 1952 with 200 officers and staff, has 1700 personnel at present.

Suggestions by the Panel:

Increasing tenure of Parliamentary Committees: The committee suggested that the tenure of the Parliamentary committees should be increased from the present one year to two years.

Increase in field visits: Field visits should also be increased from the present two visits for a maximum of 10 days in a year to three visits and 15 days.“

Formation of Committee hour: Given the efforts that go into the preparation of reports by the DRSCs and their import and implications, a Committee Hour has been recommended for consideration to discuss select major reports in the Parliament for wider amplification of the content of the reports.

Reports should be accessible: The panel said that these reports should be made more accessible to the stakeholders and general public.

Streamlining of the secretariat work: The Study has suggested streamlining of the secretarial work, including disposing of of75% of the issues at lower and middle levels in a 10-layer hierarchy that exists in the secretariat at present.

India’s supercomputing capabilities

(GS-III: Indigenisation of technology and developing new technology)

In News:

As per the global ranking service of super-computers (Top 500), India has only 3 top-ranked supercomputers among 500 and none in the top 100.

(Param Siddhi (5.27 PFlops), Param Ganga (1.66 PFlops) and Pratyush supercomputer (Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s))

Status:

India had 2 in the top 100 in 2020

World: China and the US account for nearly two-thirds of the top 500 supercomputers in the world.

Frontier Supercomputer: The world’s fastest supercomputer, Frontier, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, offers a peak performance of 1,685 PFlops.

Benefits of Supercomputers:

High-speed computation: E.g., in May 2020, IBM’s Summit supercomputer, helped researchers find drug compounds that could stop the covid-19 virus from infecting host cells in just 2-3 days.

Other areas: chemistry formulations, protein folding, biomedicine, space (for satellite placements) and climate research.

India’s steps:

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM): Fifteen supercomputers, with an aggregate, compute capacity of 24 petaflops, have been installed in the country since 2015 under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).

The National Supercomputing Mission (started in 2015) is intended to indigenise the development and manufacturing of powerful computers., with the National Knowledge Network (NKN)as the backbone

The mission is planned in three phases:

  • Phase Ilooks at assembling supercomputers
  • Phase IIlooks at manufacturing certain components within the country
  • Phase IIIwhere a supercomputer is designed by India

A department of MeitY, C-DAC is responsible for designing, developing, and commissioning supercomputers under NSM.

What is a Supercomputer?

A supercomputer is a computer that performs at or near the currently highest operational rate for computers.

India’s first supercomputer was PARAM 8000.

PARAM Shivay, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously

PetaFlops: The computing power of a supercomputer is measured in floating-point operations per second, or FLOPS. One PetaFlops is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) FLOPS, or one thousand TeraFlops.

Pentaquarks

(GS-III: Science and technology)

In News:

A new kind of “pentaquark” and the first-ever pair of “tetraquarks” have been found by LHC. This article is in continuation of yesterday’s article on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

Background:

CERN is the original name of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, which runs the particle accelerator complex that houses the LHC, the world’s largest and most complex collider. The LHC, re-ignited after three years in April, has begun smashing together protons at almost the speed of light, which could throw up “new” physics beyond the Standard Model.

What are quarks?

Quarks are elementary particles that come in six “flavours”: up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom. They usually combine together in groups of twos and threes to form hadrons such as protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei.

Strong force: The interaction of quarks was tied to one of the fundamental forces of nature called the strong force. The force not only holds the insides of atoms together but is important in the interactions of other sub-atomic particles that make the universe tick.

Hadrons: any of the subatomic particles (such as protons and neutrons) that are made up of quarks and are subject to strong force.

Recent findings:

Scientists have found new ways in which quarks, the tiniest particles known to humankind, group together

“Exotic” matter: Quarks can also combine into four-quark and five-quark particles, called tetraquarks and pentaquarks.

Towards Period table of exotic mass: This takes the total number discovered there to 21. the latest finds mean that there are now enough of these particles to begin grouping them together, like the chemical elements in the periodic table. That is an essential first step towards creating a theory and set of rules governing exotic mass.

Shimla Agreement

(GS-I: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country)

In News:

The Shimla Agreement, completed 50 years, Signed after the Indo-Pakistan War that ended on December 16, 1971, following the Liberation of Bangladesh is considered a landmark agreement as it laid the blueprint for good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan.

Principles of Shimla agreement:

Relations were to be governed by the principles and purposes of the UN Charter

Cooperative relationshipwith a special focus on people-to-people contacts.

To uphold the inviolability of the Line of Controlin Jammu and Kashmir.

Prevent hostile propagandaagainst each other and resolve issues through peaceful means and bilateral negotiations

Refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of each other.

Peacefully, respecting each other’s sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and not interfering in each other’s internal affairs.