ias-toppers-Breakthrough-Listen-Project
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Current Affairs Analysis

3rd & 4th September 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Breakthrough Listen Project (BLP); Buxa Tiger Reserve; BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism; What is Asia Africa Growth Corridor? Walled City of Ahmedabad; World Heritage Cities Programme; What is Fast radio bursts (FRB)? Tiger augmentation programme; TRAPPIST-1; Sitharaman becomes India’s first full-time woman defence minister; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
September 04, 2017

Contents

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Tigers to make a comeback in Buxa reserve

Bilateral & International Relations

  • 5 banks of BRICS nations sign pact for credit lines
  • China Wants India To Go Slow On Asia-Africa Corridor

Art & Culture

  • Ahmedabad gets status of India’s first World Heritage City by UNESCO

Science & Technology

  • Breakthrough Listen detects 15 radio bursts from a distant galaxy
  • TRAPPIST-1 planets likely to have water

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Sitharaman becomes India’s first full-time woman defence minister

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Tigers to make a comeback in Buxa reserve

Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal has been identified for the tiger augmentation programme by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

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Tiger augmentation programme 

  • As part of a plan for augmentation of tiger population in the reserve, tigers would be relocated to Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in north Bengal from neighbouring Assam.
  • The reserve is located very close to Assam’s Manas Tiger Reserve, and some experts believe that animals from Manas often come to Buxa using Bhutan as a corridor.

Background:

  • The forest department had taken up tiger augmentation plan in Buxa-Jaldapara for which detailed project report was prepared in consultation with Wildlife Institute of India and Global Tiger Forum.

What are the challenges?

Human habitation

  • The initial plan is to introduce six tigers at Buxa, but this poses a challenge to forest officials as there is human habitation in the area.
  • The tiger reserve has an area of about 757.9 sq km, of which 390 sq km lies in the core area and 367 sq km in the buffer zone. There are about 38 villages in Buxa and 49 villages in the fringe area.

Tea gardens

  • A number of tea gardens are located on the periphery of the reserve. The people residing in the villages mainly work at the tea plantations.
  • In an attempt to mitigate the human versus animal conflict, the Forest Department has started awareness programmes in the villages before introducing the tigers.

Presence of broad gauge rail

  • Besides the population pressure, another major challenge at Buxa is the broad gauge rail line passing through the reserve, connecting Siliguri and Alipurduar. Over the past few years, a number of elephants and other animals have died, having been run over by trains.

About Buxa Tiger Reserve:

The Buxa Tiger Reserve is a 760-square-kilometre tiger reserve located inside the Buxa National Park in West Bengal.

ias toppers Buxa Tiger Reserve

  • The Buxa Tiger Reserve is situated in the Buxa Hills of the southern hilly area of Bhutan.
  • Northern boundary of Buxa Tiger Reserve runs along the international border with Bhutan.
  • The Sinchula hill range lies all along the northern side of BTR and the eastern boundary touches that of the Assam state.
  • It is the eastern most extension of extreme bio-diverse North-East India and represents highly endemic Indo-Malayan region.
  • The fragile “Terai Eco-System” constitutes a part of this reserve.
  • The Phipsu Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan is contiguous to the north of BTR.
  • Manas National Park lies on east of BTR. BTR, thus, serves as international corridor for Asian elephant migration between India and Bhutan.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

5 banks of BRICS nations sign pact for credit lines

Five banks of the BRICS Bank Cooperation Mechanism have agreed to establish credit lines in the national currencies and cooperate on credit ratings.

ias toppers BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism

  • Five banks include Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Vnesheconombank, Export-Import Bank of India, China Development Bank and Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA).
  • These banks have signed an agreement to establish credit lines in the national currencies, as well as a memorandum of cooperation on credit ratings.

Significance of this agreement:

  • The agreement on credit ratings allows the ICM members to share information about internal credit ratings assigned to clients, as well as rating assessment and assignment methodologies.
  • The use of local currencies will help promote mutually beneficial economic cooperation, mitigate currency risks, increase trade, and facilitate companies in accessing the BRICS markets.

 About the BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism:

In order to develop and strengthen economic ties and investment cooperation between BRICS countries, in 2010 state financial institutions for development and export support of the BRICS nations entered into a Memorandum on cooperation, thus creating the BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism.

  • One of the main purposes of cooperation is to set up a scheme designed to provide financing and banking services for future investment projects that could be beneficial for the economic development of the BRICS countries.
  • On the basis of agreements that have been signed within the framework of the BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism, the member banks have taken steps towards developing multilateral financial cooperation within the BRICS countries and created basic mechanisms for settling payments and financing investment projects in local currencies.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

China Wants India To Go Slow On Asia-Africa Corridor

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What is Asia Africa Growth Corridor?

  • The Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is sponsored by India and Japan – two countries that have so far opted not to join the B&R initiative.
  • The main objective of the corridor is to enhance growth and connectivity between Asia and Africa.
  • The AAGC is an attempt to create a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors that will link the African continent with India and countries in South-Asia and South-East Asia.
  • The AAGC proposes to build robust institutional, industrial and transport infrastructure in growth poles among countries in Asia and Africa.

iastoppers map Asia Africa Growth Corridor

Why in news?

  • China has initiated a move to persuade India to go slow on the Asia Africa Growth Corridor, which New Delhi has formulated along with Japan.

What is China doing?

  • Beijing is now trying to persuade India and South Africa to merge the project with the BRICS platform and keep its rival, Japan, out of it. Once merged into BRICS, India’s influence on Africa through the project will also get diluted.
  • China is also pushing the New Development Bank, the Shanghai based financial institution, which has been created by BRICS countries to expand its lending to different African countries even though they may not be members of the organization.

Why is China worried?

  • China sees the move as a source of major competition that will reduce its economic and political influence over the African continent.
  • It is seen by many as an alternative Silk Road to tap the African market.
[To read more about Asia Africa Growth Corridor, read IASToppers’ Mains Article here] [Ref: Economic Times]

 

Art & Culture

Ahmedabad gets status of India’s first World Heritage City by UNESCO

The 600-year-old Walled City of Ahmedabad has been formally accorded the status of India’s first World Heritage City by UNESCO.

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  • In July, the UN agency had inscribed Ahmedabad as India’s first World Heritage City at a meeting held in Poland.

Key Facts

  • The walled city of Ahmedabad is first city in India to get World Heritage City status and third in Asia after Bhaktapur (Nepal) and Galle (Sri Lanka).
  • India now has total 36 World Heritage Inscriptions 28 cultural, 7 natural and 1 mixed site.
  • India is second after China in terms of number of world heritage properties in Asia and Pacific (ASPAC) region, and overall seventh in world.

About the Walled City of Ahmedabad:

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  • The Walled City of Ahmedabad is located on the eastern banks of Sabarmati river.
  • It was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah I of Gujarat Sultanate in in 1411.
  • It presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods.
  • The city’s historic characteristics include densely-packed traditional houses (‘pols’) in gated traditional streets (‘puras’) with features such as bird feeders, public wells and religious institutions.
  • The city also holds rare distinction of being one of the oldest trading points in India and also centres of Indian freedom struggle under Mahatma Gandhi.

About World Heritage Cities Programme:

  • It is one of six thematic programmes formally approved and monitored by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO.
  • It aims to assist state parties in the challenges of protecting and managing their urban heritage.
  • The programme is structured along a two-way process (i) development of a theoretical framework for urban heritage conservation, and (ii) provision of technical assistance to States Parties for the implementation of new approaches and schemes.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

Breakthrough Listen detects 15 radio bursts from a distant galaxy

Breakthrough Listen project has detected 15 fast radio bursts (FRBs) coming from a dwarf galaxy about 3 million light years away from earth.

Current Affairs ias-toppers-Breakthrough-Listen-Project

Key facts:

  • The new detection was made with help of Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia.
  • It was emitted from FRB 121102, a mysterious source associated with galaxy in the distant universe. This detection brings the total of known FRBs from this strange object to more than 150.
  • The first known radio burst from FRB 121102 was detected on November 2, 2012 (hence the object’s name). Two more bursts were detected in May 2015 and eight more in June 2015.
  • It is being speculated, among other things, that this detected FRB is an energy source used by extra-terrestrial (ET) civilisations to power spacecraft.

What is Fast radio bursts (FRB)?

  • FRB is brief, bright pulse of radio emission from distant galaxies.
  • It was first detected in 2007 with help of Parkes Telescope in Australia.
  • It is a high-energy astrophysical phenomenon of unknown origin manifested as transient radio pulse lasting only a few milliseconds.

About Breakthrough Listen Project (BLP):

  • BLP is US$100-million global astronomical initiative launched in 2015 by Internet investor Yuri Milner and cosmologist Stephen Hawking.
  • It has teams from around the world to find signs of intelligent life in universe.
  • The 10-year programme aims to survey 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth by scanning entire galactic plane of Milky Way.
  • It will listen for messages from the 100 closest galaxies at 10 billion different frequencies originated beyond our galaxy.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

TRAPPIST-1 planets likely to have water

An international team of astronomers have discovered that the Earth-sized planets orbiting the ultracool TRAPPIST-1 dwarf star 40 light-years away may have substantial amounts of water and could be habitable.

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Key facts:

  • Astronomers used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate whether there might be water on the seven planets orbiting in the nearby TRAPPIST-1 planetary.
  • The results suggest that the outer planets of the system might still harbour substantial amounts of water. This includes three planets within habitable zone (Goldilocks zone) of star, lending further weight to the possibility that they may indeed be habitable and support alien life.
  • Astronomers had examined amount of ultraviolet radiation (UV) received by individual planets of system to detect presence of water.
  • UV radiation is important factor in atmospheric evolution of planets as it can break water vapour in atmospheres of planets into hydrogen and oxygen in process called photodissociation.
  • Scientists used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the Hubble telescope to study the amount of ultraviolet radiation received by the individual planets of the system.

About TRAPPIST-1

trappist-1

  • The seven Earth-sized planets (named TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h) orbiting ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 were discovered by astronomers in February 2017.
  • The TRAPPIST-1 planetary system is 40 light-years away from Earth.
  • Its dwarf star Trappist-1 is at least 500 million years old and is marginally larger than Jupiter.
  • It has temperature of 2550K and shines with a feeble light about 2,000 times fainter than Earth’s sun.

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[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Sitharaman becomes India’s first full-time woman defence minister

ias toppers Current Affairs_nirmala_sitharaman defence

  • Nirmala Sitharaman became first full time woman Defence Minister of India after she was promoted to the Union Cabinet.
  • 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.
  • Sitharaman will now be a member of the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security, which includes the prime minister, home minister, external affairs minister and the finance minister.

 

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