Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 4, 2017

Science & Tech.

IRNSS – 1H (first privately built) onboard of PSLV – C39 – failed

  • The launch of IRSO’s eight navigation satellite IRNSS-1H onbaord of PSLV-C39 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh was unsuccessful.
  • The heat shield did not separate as a result of which satellite did not complete the 4th stage.
  • The IRNSS-1H was being sent to space to back up and replace the functions of India’s first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A (launched in July 2013) as its three rubidium atomic clocks on board had stopped functioning.

Rubidium atomic clock

  • The rubidium atomic clocks on board of IRNSS-1A that stopped working were imported from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium.
  • The atomic clocks are used to find satellite’s position with an accuracy of 0.5 metre.

First private satellite -

  • IRNSS-1H IRNSS-1H was India’s first satellite actively built by consortium of private firms led by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies.
  • The consortium had completed 25% development work of IRNSS-1H, under the guidance of ISRO scientists.
  • Prior to development of this satellite, private sector’s role was only limited to supplying components to ISRO.

Enlighten about IRNSS

  • The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is an independent regional system developed by India on par with the US-based GPS, Russia’s Glonass and Galileo developed by Europe.
  • The navigation system offers wide services like terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management visual and voice navigation for drivers
  • It was named “Navic” (Navigation with Indian Constellation) by Prime Minister Narendra Moid

Defence

Nirmala Sitharaman – India’s first full time woman Defence Minister

  • Nirmala Sitharaman (58) became first full time woman Defence Minister of India after she was promoted to the Union Cabinet.
  • She takes charge of the crucial ministry from Union Finacne Minister Arun Jaitley.
  • Ms Sitharaman is second woman to become Defence Minister of India. First was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was holding additional portfolio as Defence Minister from 1980-82.

Enlighten about the new defence minister

  • Nirmala Sitharaman Nirmala Sitharaman was born 18 August 1959 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
  • Currently, she is Rajya Sabha MP representing Karnataka.

‘Swedish-India’ – Defence Collaboration

WHAT

  • Swedish defence and security company SAAB and Indian conglomerate Adani Group
  • have announced collaboration in defence manufacturing
  • The partnership was announced mainly for design, development and production of single engine Gripen fighter jets under ‘Make in India’ if they win government contract to equip Indian Air Force (IAF) with new jets.
  • They will compete with collaboration of US aircraft major Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) which are planning to manufacture F-16 fighter aircrafts in India.

Swedish Defence & Security Company – Adani Group

  • The $12 billion Adani Group has interests in energy, real estate, logistics and fastmoving consumer goods (FMCGs), among others.
  • It has no presence in the defence sector and nor does have experience in manufacturing space either.
  • SAAB is manufacturer of Gripen, a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft featuring state-of-the-art technology, including advanced data links and sensors.

The induction of these ships will contribute to the nation’s maritime security needs and is in consonance with the ‘Make in India’ drive.

Enlighten about the deal -

  • IAF is expected to begin process for procuring 100 plus single engine fighter jets to replace ageing fleet of Russian Mig-21s and Mig-27s in service.
  • The procurement will be under recently promulgated Strategic Partnership (SP) model of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).
  • The deal is estimated to be worth over Rs. 60,000 crore.
  • Under this deal, first 18 aircraft will be brought to India in a flyaway mode and rest will be manufactured in India by Indian private company with technology transfer from foreign manufacturer.
  • Only two aircrafts are available in global market to meet IAF’s requirement criteria viz, F-16 and Gripen.

WHY

  • The IAF needs minimum strength of 42 fighter squadrons to dominate and tackle two-front collusive threat simultaneously from China and Pakistan.
  • Currently, IAF has 32 fighter squadrons.
  • Further due to retirement of old aircraft, numbers will further go down by 2021. By then, 11 squadrons of Mig-21 and Mig-27, which are 35 to 45 years old, will be retiring from service. So to mitigate the shortfall, IAF is procuring new advance single engine fighter aircrafts.

Science & Technology

European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL)

WHAT

  • The world’s largest and powerful X-ray laser

WHERE -

  • Hamburg, Germany.
  • The first beams from XFEL were accelerated in April 2017 and first x-ray beams were produced in May 2017.
  • It will help scientists penetrate the inner workings of atoms, viruses and chemical reactions.

European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL)

  • The XFEL is lodged in series of 3.4-kilometer tunnels up to 38 metres underground near city of Hamburg.
  • It took 8 years to build 1.5-billion-euro ($1.7 billion) facility with funding from 11 countries
  • It has been hailed as one of largest and most ambitious European research projects ever
  • Its centrepiece boasts world’s longest 1.7 kilometres superconducting linear accelerator, designed to provide energy needed to generate X-ray ashes billion times brighter than best conventional radiation sources.

Future benefits -

  • XFEL is like a camera and a microscope that will make it possible to observe tiny details and processes in the nano-world than ever before.
  • It will help to reveal and capture in images at the sub-atomic level, promising breakthroughs and revealing secrets in medicine, biology, energy, information technology and chemistry.
  • It will help scientists to map the atomic details of viruses, take 3-D images of the molecular make-up of cells or lm chemical reactions inside them. This will help to understand and treat illnesses

Agriculture

Farmer Zone

To be implemented under -

  • The Union Ministry of Science and Technology

Announced recently by -

  • Department of Biotechnology (DBT)

Where –

  • Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi.

What it is -

  • A collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture by using biological research and data to improve lives of small and marginal farmers.
  • The objective of conclave was to set stage for “FarmerZone”.
  • It was organised by DBT in partnership with UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.
  • FarmerZone platform FarmerZone envisioned by the DBT aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture by integrating science, technology, innovation and farm ecosystem.

This platform aims to cater all needs of farmer from dealing with

Climate change,
Weather predictions and
Soil, water and seed requirements.

  • It will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions.
  • This platform will work to collect relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud and also develop sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.

Trade

India and European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

WHAT

  • Hold talk to conclude their long pending negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
  • So far, 16 rounds of negotiations have taken place which had started in 2008.
  • Both sides had resumed talks on the agreement in January 2017 after a gap of three years

FTA between India & EFTA

  • The proposed FTA between India and EFTA covers trade in goods and services, investments, IRPR protection, trade facilitation, customs cooperation and public procurement.
  • The early conclusion of the proposed FTA between India and EFTA as well as an investment protection framework will boost economic ties between the two sides.
  • The India-EFTA bilateral trade was worth $19 billion in 2016-17 from $21.5 billion in 2015-16.
  • The trade balance was in favour of EFTA members.

Enlighten about European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

  • EFTA is regional trade organisation and free trade area consisting of four European states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It operates in parallel with European Union (EU), and all four member states participate in the European single market.