Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - June 6, 2018

Environment

539 species discovered in India in 2017 Publications from the Zoological and Botanical Surveys of India

  • As many as 539 new species of plants and animals were discovered by scientists and taxonomists in the country in 2017, say publications from two major survey organisations: the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
  • Released on Tuesday, World Environment Day, Animal Discoveries, 2017 from the ZSI lists 300 newly discovered species of fauna.
  • Plant Discoveries, 2017 lists as many as 239 newly found flora species.
  • Besides these discoveries, the biodiversity in the country recorded another 263 species with 174 new records of animals and 89 of plants found.
  • Among the animal discoveries are 241 invertebrates. The number of vertebrates discovered includes 27 species of fish, 18 of amphibians and 12 of reptiles.

Shringasaurus indicus

  • The highlight of the animal discoveries is a new fossil reptilian species — Shringasaurus indicus — recorded by scientists of the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute.
  • The important discoveries include a frog species, Nasikabatrachus bhupathi,with snout-shaped nose like a pig and named after Indian herpetologist S. Bhupathy; and a snake, Rhabdops aquaticus, discovered from the northern Western Ghats and deriving its name from the Latin word for water in reference to its presence in freshwater bodies.
  • With these discoveries, the number of animal species in India stands at 1,01,167, which is 6.45% of the faunal species found in the world.
  • The number of plant species has increased to 49,003, which is 11.4 % of the world flora.
  • The BSI publication lists 18 species of grasses discovered under the family Poaceae and two gymnosperms particularly cycads.
  • In terms of names for the discoveries, Tupistra khasiana, named after the Khasi tribe of the Khasi hills, and Drypetes kalami, named after former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Discoveries with respect to region

  • The Western Ghats and the Himalayas are home to most of the plant and animal discoveries.
  • While the Western Ghats contributed 19% of the discoveries of species and sub-species of plants, the number was 37% in terms of animal discoveries.
  • The Himalayas contributed 35% of all plant discoveries (18% of the plant discoveries from the western Himalayas and 17% from the eastern Himalayas).
  • In terms of animal discoveries, over 18% of the new species were discovered from both the eastern and western Himalayas.

Discoveries with respect to states

  • Among the States, Kerala recorded the highest number of discoveries — 66 species, sub-species and varieties of plants and 52 species of animals.
  • Tamil Nadu recorded 31 new species of animals and 24 species, sub-species and varieties of plants.
  • West Bengal, which has the distinction of having both Himalayan and coastal ecosystems, recorded 27 discoveries in categories of plants and 45 discoveries of animal species.

Defence

S - 400

Enlighten about S-400

  • The S-400 is a complex military system comprising several radars, command post, different types of missiles and launchers that can track several dozen incoming objects simultaneously from hundreds of kilometres away, launch counter-missiles within seconds and shoot them down with great efficiency.
  • “The S-400 (SA-21 Growler), when properly operated, is a potent medium-to-long-range surface-to-air missile system.

India’s Foreign policy

India’s coastline now 'extends' from Seychelles to Indonesia

  • The highlight of PM Modi’s Indonesia visit, strategically speaking, was the military access India got to the country’s Sabang port
  • The port adds to our growing naval heft in the neighbourhood
  • India now has access to four important ports abroad

Enlighten about the facts

  • India and Indonesia have agreed to upgrade their ties to comprehensive strategic partnership as the two countries signed 15 agreements including one on defence cooperation
  • The highlight of Prime Minister Modi’s Indonesia visit, was the military access India got to the country’s Sabang port.
  • The port adds to our growing naval heft in the neighbourhood
  • India now has access to four important ports abroad

With this, India now has access to four important ports abroad:

SABANG, INDONESIA:

  • Its position at the mouth of Malacca Strait makes it crucial. Malacca Strait is the main shipping lane between Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean and one of the busiest sea routes. The deep sea port (deep enough for submarines too) will help counter China's rising maritime influence in the region.

DUQM, OMAN:

  • India gained military access to the port on Oman’s southern coast this year. Duqm, on the northwestern edge of Indian Ocean, provides easy access to Red Sea

CHABAHAR, IRAN:

  • This one is close to Pakistan's Gwadar port where China has invested heavily. It also falls on the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that links India to Central Asia and Europe

ASSUMPTION ISLAND, SEYCHELLES:

  • On paper, this is purely an infrastructure project. The agreement had to be revised due to political opposition in Seychelles but broadly it signals a step forward for India’s strategic interests

Defence

Geo-Intelligence Asia - 2018

  • The Eleventh edition of GeoIntelligence Asia 2018 organised by GeoSpatial Media and Communication with Directorate General of Information System as Knowledge Partners and Military Survey as Co-organisers, took place at Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi on 04-05 June 2018.
  • The theme of Seminar was ‘GeoSpatial : A Force Multiplier for Defence and Industrial Security’.
  • The seminar brought together the military, security officials including BSF and Police Forces, Government and industry together to examine the latest technology solutions and on the critical role of geospatial technology in military and security applications.

NITI Aayog

Methanol Economy

Enlighten about Methanol

  • Methanol is a clean burning drop in fuel which can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation & LPG, Wood, Kerosene in cooking fuel.
  • It can also replace diesel in Railways, Marine Sector, Gensets, Power Generation and Methanol based reformers could be an ideal complement to Hybrid and Electric Mobility.
  • Methanol Economy is the “Bridge” to the dream of a complete “Hydrogen based fuel systems”. Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel, that can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like Natural Gas, Coal (Indian High Ash Coal), Bio-mass, Municipal Solid waste and most importantly from CO2.
  • The Concept of “Methanol Economy” is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European countries. 10% of fuel in China in transport Sector is Methanol.
  • Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION).
  • The gaseous version of Methanol – DME can blended with LPG and can be excellent substitute for diesel in Large buses and trucks.
  • To adopt Methanol as a transport fuel, it requires minimal infrastructure modifications and capital both in vehicles and in terminal and distribution infrastructure.
  • Methanol 15 % blend (M15) in petrol will reduce pollution by 33% & diesel replacement by methanol will reduce by more than 80%.
  • Field trials are under way for India to adopt M15 program in transportation sector. The notification of fuels for M15 & M100 are already complete. Methanol 100% engine will look to replace diesel in its totality.

Enlighten about the Methanol production

  • Methanol has the potential to be an enduring solution to human energy needs is because the beltched out C02 (greenhouse gas emission) both from using Methanol and while producing Methanol can be tapped back to produce Methanol.
  • Thereby a seamless loop of CO2 sequestration cycle is created to perpetually burn fuels without polluting the environment at all.
  • C02 from steel plants, Thermal Power plants, Cement Plants etc. can be tapped in large quantities to produce Methanol.

NITI Aayog’s plan

  • NITI Aayog has drawn out a comprehensive plan to replace 20% of crude imports from Methanol alone.
  • Adopting Methanol in this scale would bring down pollution in the country by more than 40%
  • Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel that can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like natural gas, coal, bio-mass, municipal solid waste and even carbon dioxide
  • The concept of methanol economy is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many European countries. 10 per cent of fuel in China in transport sector is methanol, the NITI Aayog statement said.
  • Methanol Economy, if adopted by India can be one of the best ways to mitigate the Environmental hazards of a growing economy. NITI Aayog is preparing a road map for a full-scale implementation in the near future.

Women Empowerment

Sakhi Surakdhs Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory Foundation of Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory

Where

  • In the campus of Central Forensic Science Lab (CFSL), Chandigarh.

What’s Unique

  • It is India’s first advanced forensic lab dedicated for crimes related to women for timely deliver justice.

Enlighten about the Laboratory

  • The advanced lab will contribute to address gap in forensic DNA analysis of pending sexual assault cases in the country.
  • It has been set up as model forensic lab and will be replicated in other parts of the country.
  • 5 more such advanced forensic labs will come up in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal in the next 3 months bringing total minimum annual handling capacity of labs to 50000 cases.

Funding

  • The labs in Chennai and Mumbai will be set up with funds from Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) while remaining 3 labs would be set up with funds by Ministry of Home Affairs.

Enlighten about the functional units

  • There are four units viz. sexual assault and homicide unit, paternity unit, human identification unit and mitochondrial unit.
  • Apart from Homicide and Sexual Assault Unit, other units are interlinked. They will work to examine cases related to crime against women.
  • Paternity Unit: It will be help in solving cases related to criminal paternity, gender selection and child swapping in hospitals.
  • Human Identification Unit: It will play important role to solve cases of missing person or children.
  • Mitochondrial Unit: It will conduct mitochondrial DNA analysis in cases where regular Nuclear DNA analysis is not possible such as in case of highly degraded samples. It can also be used to better explore family relationships.
  • At present there are 6 Central Forensic Science Labs (CFSLs) in Guwahati, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal and one State Forensic Science Lab in each State/UT. These labs are responsible for conducting forensic analysis of all cases in country including sexual assault, criminal paternity and homicide.

Sources – PIB, NITI Aayog, The Hindu