Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - July 27, 2018

Science & Technology

Underground und lake detected on Mars It is the first stable body of liquid water found on the red plant and is about 20 km wide

WHAT

  • Using a radar instrument on an orbiting spacecraft, scientists have spotted a sizeable salt-laden lake under ice on the southern polar plain of Mars, a body of water they called a possible habitat for microbial life.

Enlighten about the lake

  • The reservoir they detected — roughly 20 km in diameter, shaped like a rounded triangle and located about 1.5 km beneath the ice surface — represents the first stable body of liquid water ever found on Mars.

Enlighten about the detection

  • The detection was made using data collected between May 2012 and December 2015 by an instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft that transmits radar pulses, which penetrate the Martian surface and ice caps.

Locations’s radar profile

  • This took long years of data analysis to find a good method to be sure that what we were observing was unambiguously liquid water
  • The location’s radar profile resembled that of subglacial lakes found beneath Earth’s Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
  • Mars long ago was warmer and wetter, possessing significant bodies of water, as evidenced by dry lake beds and river valleys on its surface.
  • There had been some signs of liquid water currently on Mars, including disputed evidence of water activity on Martian slopes, but not stable bodies of water.
  • The water in the Martian lake was below the normal freezing point but remained liquid thanks in large part to high levels of salts.

Bilateral Relations

6th India-UK Science & Innovation Council (SIC)

WHAT

  • The 6th India-UK Science & Innovation Council (SIC) meeting held in New Delhi today discussed a range of issues on S&T cooperation between the two countries

The Success of Newton Bhabha partnership

  • The success of the Newton Bhabha partnership through which India and UK are jointly delivering cutting edge science and Technology solutions to societal challenges
  • The last SIC meeting held in London on June 15, 2016 including establishment of Joint Virtual Centre on Clean Energy, implementation of research programmes on Cancer Biology, Agriculture Nitrogen, Atmospheric pollution and human health, maternal & Child Health, Anti Microbial Research, Sustaining Water Resources for Food, Energy & Ecosystem Services in India, Water Quality and Water Security and Famer Zone.

Enlighten about Newton Fund

  • The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 18 partner countries to support economic development and social welfare, and to develop research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth

Enlighten about the Newton-Bhabha Fund

  • The partnership with India is called the Newton-Bhabha Fund, which brings together UK and Indian scientific research and innovation sectors to find joint solutions to global challenges.

PRIORITIES FOR INDIA

  • Together, UK and India have identified the following priority areas for the Newton-Bhabha partnership:

- Sustainable cities and urbanisation
- Public health and wellbeing
- Energy-water-food nexus
- Understanding oceans

with two underpinning capabilities:

- High value manufacturing, and
- Big data.

The Fund covers three broad categories of activity:

1. People: building skills and capacity through training and people exchanges;
2. Research: research collaboration on development topics;
3. Translation: taking innovation from universities to industry.

PLANNED ACTIVITIES

  • British Council India leads on a number of capacity building activities under the Newton Bhabha Fund to enhance scientific research in India. These include:

- PhD placements for young Indian and UK students
- Researcher Link Workshops
- Women in Science workshops: British Council through the Newton-Bhabha Fund in partnership with IISER Pune delivers workshops for women scientists on ‘Opportunities for Widening Participation of Women in Science.

NITI Aayog

Innovate India Platform Launched by Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog & MyGov

WHAT

  • “#InnovateIndia Platform”, a collaboration between the Atal Innovation Mission and MyGov, a citizen centric platform of the Government of India.

OBJECTIVE

  • The #InnovateIndia portal will serve as the common point for all the innovation happening across the nation.

Enlighten about it

  • #InnovateIndia MyGov-AIM portal creates the much-needed innovations platform for registering both grassroots and deep-tech innovators at a national level.
  • Those searching for a critical innovation can leverage the portal advantageously for the benefit of the economy as well as national social needs.

Some of the features of this platform are:

1. The platform is open to all Indian citizens
2. The users can View, comment, share, and rate the innovations crowdsourced on the #InnovateIndia platform
3. View the leaderboard which is calculated based on the votes on each innovation.
4. Citizens can share their/organizations/someone else’s innovation on the platform by login to the MyGov website
5. These innovations can also be shared on various social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter

  • With the launch of the platform Indians will be able to upload and rate their/organizations innovation on the platform

State Specific

Gurupriya bridge on the river Gurupriya Built at a cost of Rs 187.25 crore in a record time of four years in Chitrakonda, the 910-meter long and 8.4-meter wide bridge provides a vital connectivity to 151 villages.

WHAT

  • With the inauguration of the much-awaited Gurupriya bridge by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday, over 150 cut-off villages of Balimela reservoir in the Maoist-infested Malkangiri district got connected to the rest of the State after almost five decades.
  • Announced a special package of Rs 100 crore for the people living in the Swabhiman Areas (formerly known as cut-off areas) in the Maoist hinterland of Odisha's Malkangiri district.
  • The special package includes a fishery project in the reservoir, construction of two roads in the erstwhile cut-off areas, electrification, drinking water supply, provision of healthcare and a new bridge at Manyamkonda.

Enlighten about the bridge

  • The bridge was a dream project of the State government.
  • Over 30,000 tribals of these villages had got cut off from the mainland in 1972 because of the Balimela reservoir created due to a hydel project.
  • Since then the villagers have had to cover distances of up to 60 km by boats
  • Because of its extreme remoteness and only land link with Visakhapatnam district in adjoining Andhra Pradesh, the cut-off region became a safe haven for Maoists.
  • The work order for the bridge was awarded to Gammon India in 2006 but it could not progress due to technical challenges and Maoist threats.
  • The construction of the bridge was also a technical challenge as it had to be erected in 70- to 90-foot-deep water.
  • The bridge took around three and a half years to complete. The Border Security Force had to be deployed in the area for anti-Maoist operations and for providing security cover for the construction work.

Parliament Bills/Amendments

Lok Sabha passes anti-trafficking Bill It proposes a national bureau for monitoring cases, provides funds for rehabilitation

What

  • The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.

Enlighten about the bill

  • The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking, which include buying or selling of persons for the purpose of bonded labour, bearing a child, as well as those where chemical substances are administered, and a survivor acquires life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS.
  • The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating and monitoring of trafficking cases.
  • It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund with an initial allocation of ₹ 10 crore.
  • It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.
  • Begging has been included as an aggravated crime as it involves an extreme form of violence.
  • The bill ensures that the victim is given witness protection during the investigation".
  • The Bill provides for the establishment of a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate cases.
  • It provides that every state government will appoint a State Nodal Officer, who will be responsible for follow-up action, as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee.
  • The proposed law provides for the setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units at district level and establishment of Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees at the national, state and district levels.

Concerns

  • The provisions for confiscation of properties likely to be misused
  • The need for community-based rehabilitation for survivors.

Science and Technology

Astronomers confirm theory of relativity Einstein’s theory of gravity was upheld in measurements of a star that recently made a close pass by the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, as shown in this artist’s conception illustrating the star’s trajectory over the past few months.

WHAT

  • A consortium of astronomers for the first time confirmed a prediction of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity by observing the gravitational effects of a supermassive black hole on a star zipping by it.
  • A single star, careening around the monster black hole in the center of the Milky Way, has provided astronomers with new proof that Albert Einstein was right about gravity
  • As light escapes a region with a strong gravitational field, its waves get stretched out, making the light redder, in a process known as gravitational redshift.
  • The scientists, a team known as the GRAVITY collaboration, used the Very Large Telescope array, located in the Atacama Desert of Chile, to demonstrate that light from the star was redshifted by just the amount predicted by general relativity.
  • Scientists have observed gravitational redshift before. In fact, GPS satellites would fail to function properly if gravitational redshift weren’t taken into account. But such effects have never been seen in the vicinity of a black hole.
  • At the Milky Way’s heart there lurks a hulking supermassive black hole, with a mass about 4 million times that of the sun
  • The researchers zeroed in on one star, known as S2, which completes an elliptical orbit around the black hole every 16 years.

Enlighten about the Research

  • Researchers from the GRAVITY consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics realised that they had a “perfect laboratory” to test Einstein’s theory with the black hole Sagittarius A* in the centre of the Milky Way.
  • Black holes are so dense that their gravitational pull can trap even light, and the supermassive Sagittarius A* has mass four million times that of our sun, making it the biggest in our galaxy.
  • Astronomers followed the S2 star as it passed close to the black hole on May 19 at a speed in excess of 25 million kmper hour.
  • They then calculated its velocity and position using a number of instruments and compared it with predictions made by Einstein that the light would be stretched by the gravity, in an effect called gravitational redshift. Newtonian physics doesn’t allow for a redshift.
  • The results are perfectly in line with the theory of general relativity” and are “a major breakthrough towards better understanding the effects of intense gravitational fields

Sources – The Hindu , Indian Express , PIB