Current Affairs Analysis

11th July 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

‘Solar Mamas’; ‘Criticality’; Yamal LNG project; Kendrapada sheep; Indian Ocean Dipole; Dawn mission; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 11, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Now, India Post to deliver Gangajal
  • ‘No helmet, no petrol’ rule comes into effect in Kolkata
  • Farmer can’t be evicted even after lease expires: SC
  • SC seeks review of law on advocates


  • Kudankulam power plant reaches another milestone
  • Russia offers Indian firms stake in Yamal LNG project

Environment & Ecology

  • Kendrapada sheep get rare status
  • The dipole factor in summer monsoon rainfall

International Relations

  • India signs five agreements with Tanzania
  • PM Modi interacts with ‘Solar Mamas’ of Africa in Tanzania
  • Captain Radhika Menon, First Woman Captain of Indian Merchant Navy to receive IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea

Science & Technology

  • DAWN marks ice-bearing Ceres craters

Also in News

  • World’s biggest orchestra performs in German stadium


Polity & Governance

Now, India Post to deliver Gangajal

Union government launched a new scheme here that makes “Gangajal” available at all post offices and enables India Post to deliver it to people’s doorstep.

  • Right now only holy Ganga water from Gangotri and Rishikesh will be delivered to the people across the country by India Post.
  • After the Ganga water in Bihar’s Sultanganj will become clean, the postal department will send it to the people’s doorstep.
[Ref: Hindu]


‘No helmet, no petrol’ rule comes into effect in Kolkata

Kolkata police imposed a “no helmet no petrol” rule forbidding petrol pumps from selling fuel to motorcyclists without helmets.

  • As per the notification, no petrol pump within the jurisdiction of Kolkata police shall henceforth sell petrol to any such two-wheeler rider who comes to the petrol pump riding a two-wheeler without helmet as well carries a pillion rider without helmet.
  • The notification also says that those who violate the rule shall be charged under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) with a jail term of up to six months.


Launching a road safety initiative “Safe Drive Save Life”, the West Bengal Chief Minister had expressed alarm over rising accident deaths and called for strict adherence to traffic laws.

[Ref: Hindu]


Farmer can’t be evicted even after lease expires: SC

The Supreme Court has held that a farmer, who is in possession of leased land even after expiry of the lease period, cannot be evicted if the owner either acknowledges the tenancy or is accepting the rent.


  • Referring to a provision of the Transfer of Property Act, the Supreme Court, set aside the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which ordered the eviction of a farmer after expiry of the lease period of the land.

SC’s rulings:

  • The operation of Section 116 of the Transfer of Property Act would confer legitimacy to the possession of the tenant even after the termination or expiration of the deemed period of the lease so as to confer on him a status akin to that of a statutory tenant and hence protection from eviction as envisaged by the provisions of the Act (Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act) of 1953.
  • There was no legal provision to evict the farmer as the eviction conditions laid down in the Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act 1953 and the Punjab Tenancy Act 1887 did not include a tenant whose lease had expired.
[Ref: Hindu]


SC seeks review of law on advocates

The Supreme Court has asked the Law Commission to review “all relevant aspects” relating to the law governing the legal profession, including issues like professional misconduct by lawyers, in consultation with all stakeholders.

  • Therefore, Advocates Act, under which lawyers are governed, will be reviewed.
  • The court has also asked the government to take appropriate steps in the light of report of the Law Commission within six months.

The Central Government may file an appropriate affidavit in this regard within one month after expiry of one year.


The direction came in a verdict by which the apex court upheld the conviction of an Uttar Pradesh-based advocate for criminal contempt for intimidating and threatening a civil judge in Etah.

[Ref: Hindu]



Kudankulam power plant reaches another milestone

The second unit of Kudankulam atomic power project in Tamil Nadu went critical or started nuclear fission.

  • This is the second 1,000MW pressurized water reactor to go critical in the country. The first unit at Kudankulam went critical in July 2013.


  • The unit will start commercial generation in four to six months’ time. Prior to that tests have to be conducted and then the unit will be connected to the Southern power grid.
  • The approach towards criticality started recently with the gradual removal of the control rods.
  • Once the second unit at Kudankulam starts power generation to its full capacity, the total atomic power capacity in Tamil Nadu would go up to 2,440MW.

How many types of emergency drills are done at Indian nuclear power plants?

  • There are three types of emergency drills that are done at Indian nuclear power plants: plant, site and off-site.
  • The emergency drills at the plant are done every quarter and the site emergency drill every year and the off-site emergency drills are conducted once in two years.

First unit of Kudankulam atomic power project:

  • The first 1,000MW unit of Kudankulam atomic power project, which is located in Tirunelvelli district, is already functional.
  • The first unit experienced several hiccups since starting commercial production in December 2014 but seems to have stabilized now, generating about 940MW daily on an average.
  • The first unit supplies power to Tamil Nadu (562.5MW), Puducherry (33.5MW), Kerala (133MW), Karnataka (221MW) and Andhra Pradesh (50MW).

What’s next?

  • Once the reactor starts generating 400 MWe of power, possibly within 45 days from the date of criticality, it is likely to be connected to the grid. Generation of power will be raised to 500 MWe, 750 MWe, 900 MWe and 1,000 MWe in stages.
  • At every stage, various tests will be conducted and the technical parameters verified as mandated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
  • Based on the results of the tests at each stage and with AERB clearance, which will take two to three weeks, subsequent stages will be reached to take the VVER reactor, constructed with Russian technical assistance, to its maximum capacity of 1,000 MWe.
  • The KKNPP submitted its reports to the AERB and got the nod for criticality after experts from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change inspected the second unit and submitted their report to the Supreme Court.

What does it mean when a nuclear reactor goes critical?

  • Criticality is a nuclear term that refers to the balance of neutrons in the system.
  • When the atom-splitting reactor of a nuclear power plant is operating normally, it is said to be “critical” or in a state of “criticality.”
  • In the context of nuclear power, “criticality” indicates that a reactor is operating safely.
  • Therefore, when a reactor is said to have “gone critical,” it actually means it is in a stable configuration producing a constant power.

How criticality of a Nuclear reactor can be calculated?

  • The criticality of a system can be calculated by comparing the rate at which neutrons are produced, from fission and other sources, to the rate at which they are lost through absorption and leakage out of the reactor core.
  • A nuclear reactor is a system that controls this criticality or balance of neutrons.

What is Re-Criticality?

  • A reactor is maintained critical during normal power operations. In other systems, such as a spent fuel pool, mechanisms are in place to prevent criticality. If such a system still achieves criticality, it is called “re-criticality”.

Why Boron is used to prevent re-criticality?

  • Boron and other materials, which absorb neutrons, are in place to make sure that this re-criticality does not occur. The added neutron absorbers substantially increase the rate of loss of neutrons, to ensure a subcritical system.

What is the difference between subcritical, critical and supercritical?

  • “Subcritical” refers to a system where the loss rate of neutrons is greater than the production rate of neutrons and therefore the neutron population (or number of neutrons) decreases as time goes on.
  • When the neutron population remains constant, this means there is a perfect balance between production rate and loss rate, and the nuclear system is said to be “critical”.
  • “Supercritical” refers to a system where the production rate of neutrons is greater than the loss rate of neutrons and therefore the neutron population increases.
[Ref: Hindu; MIT]


Russia offers Indian firms stake in Yamal LNG project

Russia has offered Indian oil companies a stake in the second phase of Yamal LNG, the biggest project to produce liquefied natural gas in the Arctic.

  • The Russian firm holds 50.1 per cent stake in the project that comprises development of the South-Tambeyskoye field with proven deposits of 1.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and the construction of natural gas liquefaction plant (LNG) for producing 16.5 million tonnes of LNG a year by 2017.
  • Now the company is planning a second phase and is offering a stake to Indian firms


  • The offer of stake in JSC Yamal LNG was made when Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited St. Petersburg last month.
  • Novatek OJSC, Russia’s second-biggest natural gas producer, had in 2013 offered a 9 per cent stake in the USD 27 billion Phase-I of Yamal LNG project to a consortium of Petronet, IOC and ONGC Videsh Ltd.
  • But later, OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), did not find the offer attractive and the Indian consortium backed off.
[Ref: Hindu, BS]


Environment & Ecology

Kendrapada sheep get rare status

A threatened breed of sheep found only in coastal Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts of Odisha has been conferred ‘rare and singular species’ tag by the Central government.

  • The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) has accorded genetic recognition to the breed of sheep, locally called ‘kuji mendha’.
  • With NBAGR conferring it genetically rare status, conserving these domesticated species would receive a boost.


  • Researchers from Odisha had earlier conducted scientific study on this rare breed and had found the sheep to be carrying a rare gene mutation. They had laid claim for accordance of rare genetic status on the breed.

About ‘kuji mendha’:

  • It is a typical breed of sheep. These sheep are fast breeders giving multiple birth while those in other parts of the State give single birth at a time.
  • The sheep that are reared in this part are delicate domestic animals. Sheep in other parts of Odisha are not known for giving multiple birth. This characteristic makes them distinctive from other species. In Sundarbans area of West Bengal, Garol breed sheep are found who are multiple-breeders.
  • The rare genetic traits lead to the multiple birth syndrome in them. These animals are dwarf in built with the body covered with coarse hair.
  • Kendrapara district accounts for about 75,000 ‘kuji’ breed of sheep.
  • Kendrapada sheep are primarily used for production of mutton. The other product of economic importance is their skin. They are well adapted to high ambient temperature, high humidity and heavy rain. Sheep rearing has not assumed commercial proportion in Kendrapara.
  • Because of multiple-birth characteristics, rearing of ‘kuji’ sheep is a profitable livelihood source. District animal husbandry department has begun awareness drive to sensitise sheep farmers on commercial viability of sheep-rearing.

About NBAGR:

  • Established in 1984 at Bangalore in the form of twin institutes namely National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources and National Institute of Animal Genetics and then shifted to Karnal in 1985, the two institutes were merged to function as a single entity in the form of National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) in 1995.
  • This premier institute is dedicated to work with its mandate of identification, evaluation, characterization, conservation and utilization of livestock and poultry genetic resources of the country.

 [Ref: Hindu]


The dipole factor in summer monsoon rainfall

A recent study attempts to determine the effects of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) on monsoon rainfall.

  • The study aims to determine the role of the positive phase of the three IODs on summer monsoon rainfall. The three types are: normal IOD, early IOD and prolonged IOD.

Key findings of the study:

  • The study finds that an early IOD, which peaks in the mid-monsoon months (July and August), plays a significant role in enhancing monsoon rainfall even though its intensity is medium compared to other IODs.
  • According to the study, the Indian summer monsoon rainfall is influenced by a system of oscillating sea surface temperatures known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in which the western Indian Ocean becomes alternately warmer and then colder than the eastern part of the ocean.
  • The study finds that the early IOD peaks in the peak monsoon months (July and August) and thus plays a vital role in the monsoon rainfall over the Indian subcontinent. The normal IOD and prolonged IOD peak in September, October, November and hence play a lesser role in the monsoon rainfall.

What is Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)?

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is defined by the difference in the sea surface temperature between the two equatorial areas of the Indian Ocean – a western pole near the Arabian Sea (in western Indian Ocean) and an eastern pole closer to the Bay of Bengal (in eastern Indian Ocean).
  • The IOD affects the climate of Southeast Asia, Australia and other countries that surround the Indian Ocean Basin. The Indian Monsoon is invariably influenced by the IOD.

Positive vs. Negative IOD:

IOD is simply the periodic oscillation of sea surface temperatures, from ‘positive’ to ‘neutral’ and then ‘negative’ phases.

rao_cloud_p rao_cloud_N

  • A positive IOD occurs when the sea surface temperatures are greater than normal (0.4°C) in the Arabian Sea and less than normal in the tropical eastern Indian Ocean. When the reverse is the case, a negative IOD is said to have developed.
  • A positive IOD leads to greater monsoon rainfall and more active (above normal rainfall) monsoon days while negative IOD leads to less rainfall and more monsoon break days (no rainfall). A positive IOD is favourable for the Indian Monsoon as it causes a kind of barrier in the eastern Indian Ocean and all the southwesterly winds blow towards the Indian sub-continent.
  • Accordingly, the waters in the eastern Indian Ocean cools down, which tends to cause droughts in adjacent land areas of Indonesia and Australia.
  • Conversely, during a negative IOD period the waters of the tropical eastern Indian Ocean is warmer than water in the tropical western Indian Ocean. This results in increased rainfall over parts of southern Australia.

Difference between El Nino and IOD:

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the El Nino are independent climatic phenomena but often co-occur.

  • Both IOD and El Nino result in change of global wind patterns.
  • However, the cycle of IOD is shorter, while El Nino condition could last for even two years.
  • IOD commences in the month of May and end with the withdrawal of Southwest Monsoon in the Indian sub-continent.
[Ref: Hindu]


International Relations

India signs five agreements with Tanzania

Seeking to enhance its ties with resource-rich Tanzania, India extended its full support to the country to meet its development needs and signed five agreements in various sectors.

Key facts:

  • India and Tanzania agreed to deepen overall defence and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain.
  • Both the nations signed an agreement under which India would provide a Line of Credit of $ 92 million for rehabilitation and improvement of Zanzibar’s water supply system.
  • Other agreements signed included
  1. An MoU on water resource management and development,
  2. An MoU for establishment of vocational training centre at Zanzibar,
  3. An MoU on visa waiver for diplomatic/official passport holders and
  4. An agreement between the National Small Industries Corporation of India and the Small Industries Development Organisation, Tanzania.
  • The two countries were also working on a number of other water projects for 17 cities in Tanzania.
[Ref: Hindu]


PM Modi interacts with ‘Solar Mamas’ of Africa in Tanzania

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently interacted with ‘Solar Mamas’, a group of nearly 30 rural women solar engineers from six African countries who have been trained under India’s developmental support for harnessing solar energy.

Who are ‘Solar Mamas’?

The ‘Solar Mamas’, who come from across Africa, are trained at Barefoot college in Rajasthan or the centre in Tanzania.

Key facts:

  • With the support of the Indian government, the Barefoot College at Tilonia in Ajmer, Rajasthan, has been promoting and training rural women solar engineers, called ‘Solar Mamas’, from various developing countries, including from African nations.
  • The college is promoting and training these women in fabrication, installation, use, repair and maintenance of solar lanterns and household solar lighting system under programmes supported by the Indian government.
  • The women are also trained in solar electrification and other entrepreneurial skills such as bee-keeping and tailoring.
  • Barefoot women’s vocational training colleges have been set up in Zanzibar island of Tanzania and some other countries in Africa for imparting solar electrification skills and distributing solar kits.
[Ref: Hindu]


Captain Radhika Menon, First Woman Captain of Indian Merchant Navy to receive IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea 

Radhika Menon has become the first woman in the world to receive the 2016 International Maritime Organization Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for her role in the dramatic rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in tumultuous seas in the Bay of Bengal in June last year.

  • Five years ago, she became the first woman to become captain of Indian Merchant Navy.

About IMO:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) until 1982, is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping.

Flag of the International Maritime Organization
Flag of the International Maritime Organization
  • The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948 and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959.
  • Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members.
  • The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
  • IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
  • The IMO’s structure comprises the Assembly, the Council, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, the Legal Committee, the Technical Cooperation Committee, and the secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General.
  • Member organizations of the UN organizational family may observe the proceedings of the IMO. Observer status is granted to qualified non-governmental organizations.

About the award:

  • The annual Award was established by IMO to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment.
  • Nominations are scrutinized by an Assessment Panel made up of members of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO, under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General.
  • Subsequently, a Panel of Judges meets to consider the recommendations of the Assessment Panel and to select the recipient of the Award.
  • There are three categories of honour:
  1. The Award itself, for the nominee judged to have performed the most outstanding act of bravery from among those described.
  2. Certificates of Commendation are awarded to nominees who have committed acts of extraordinary bravery.
  3. Letters of Commendation are sent to those nominees who are judged to deserve some special recognition for meritorious actions.
[Ref: PIB, Wiki]


Science & Technology

DAWN marks ice-bearing Ceres craters

Scientists with NASA’s Dawn mission have identified, on the dwarf planet Ceres, permanently shadowed regions most of which likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years.

  • The findings suggest that that ice deposits could exist in these regions even now.

Key findings:

  • The conditions on Ceres are right for accumulating deposits of water ice. Ceres has just enough mass to hold on to water molecules, and the permanently shadowed regions identified are extremely cold — colder than most that exist on the moon or Mercury.
  • Permanently shadowed regions do not receive direct sunlight. They are typically located on the crater floor or along a section of the crater wall facing the pole. The regions still receive indirect sunlight, but if the temperature stays below about minus 151 degrees Celsius, the permanently shadowed area is a cold trap: a good place for water ice to accumulate and remain stable.

About Dawn mission:

  • NASA’s Dawn mission will study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system.
  • The mission will characterize the early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation.
[Ref: Hindu]


Also in News

World’s biggest orchestra performs in German stadium

More than 7,500 classical musicians performed in a German football arena to set the world record for the biggest-ever orchestra.

[Ref: Hindu]