IASToppers-Current-Affairs-Analysis-17th-Feb-2016
Current Affairs Analysis

17th February 2016 Contents

By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 17, 2016

Contents

Economy

  • Jharkhand gets first mega food park

Environment & Ecology

  • ‘NEMO-AM’- ISRO’s orbiter to scan India’s air for pollutants
  • New microbes that thrive deep inside Earth discovered

International Relations

  • India joins China and Pakistan in multi-lateral exercises- “Cobra Gold”
  • Saudi Arabia, Russia, agree to freeze oil output

Defence & Security Issues

  • Prithvi-II missile successfully test-fired

Also in News

  • Sindh passes Hindu marriage bill

 


Economy


Jharkhand gets first mega food park

 

In order to give an impetus to the growth of the food processing sector in Jharkhand, Union Ministry of Food Processing and Industry has inaugurated the first mega food park in Jharkhand.

  • The project will create a modern infrastructure for arresting post-harvest losses of horticultural and non-horticultural produce and provide impetus to the growth of food processing sector in Jharkhand. 
  • This food park project will help in providing better prices to farmers, reduce wastage of perishables, add value to agricultural produce and create huge opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment for the youth of the state.

[Ref: ET]

 

Environment & Ecology

 

‘NEMO-AM’- ISRO’s orbiter to scan India’s air for pollutants

 

The ‘Next Generation Earth Monitoring and Observation and Aerosol Monitoring’ (NEMO-AM) satellite is among ISRO’s most important high-performance nano-satellite missions for the country.

  • The Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO and Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) of University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies are collaborating on developing NEMO-AM satellite.

Key facts:

  • SAC is providing the necessary software for instruments that are to be made in Canada.
  • The NEMO mission is designed to cover, each day, up to 50,000 square kilometre area of the country’s 32.87 lakh sq km.
  • The nano-satellite will be launched 500 km above the earth.

The tiny particles and aerosols in the exhaust of vehicles, emissions from industrial chimneys and even dust particles from construction work fill the air we breathe. These aerosols and particulate matter of size 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) enter our lungs and restrict the free flow of air.

How does it work?

  • The nano-satellite will monitor suspended particles and aerosols that have made the air of major Indian cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Amritsar and Allahabad among the most polluted in the world.
  • The NEMO-AM satellite with its powerful imaging sensor analyses the sunlight reflected from the earth’s surface.
  • This light, which passes through the earth’s atmosphere before reaching NEMO will be analyzed by the satellite from different angles to determine the nature of suspended particles and aerosol concentration in the ambient air of India cities.

Importance of NEMO-AM satellite:

  • The NEMO’s data will be handy for estimating emissions from vehicles, tracking pollutants plumes, and supporting activities to forecast air quality in cities and towns. New policies can be framed around this data.
  • Even cities that do not have specialized instruments in stalled in their streets to measure suspended particles, can get an idea of the quality of ambient air with a fair degree of accuracy.
  • NEMO’s data can be of great help in decision-making and environmental management activities of both the public and private sectors in a city or town or industrial area.

[Ref: ToI]

 

New microbes that thrive deep inside Earth discovered

 

Scientists have discovered a group of microbes that live several kilometres under the surface of the Earth, need no light or oxygen and can only be seen in a microscope.

Key facts:

  • The microorganisms found inside the South African gold mine are named as Hadesarchaea. The name is derived from Greek God, Hades, who is the ruler of the underworld.
  • The microbes have thrived on the inner walls of the mine with no light or oxygen.
  • As its name suggests, the Hadesarchaea belong to a relatively unknown group of microorganisms, the archaea.
  • Although the Hadesarchaeas are single-celled life forms, they differ from the usual microorganism such as bacteria.
  • Archaea were discovered only some 40 years ago. To date, they remain poorly studied in comparison to bacteria and more complex life forms, such as animals and plants.
  • Hadesarchaea have the ability to live in areas devoid of oxygen and the scientists suggest that they are able to survive there by using carbon monoxide to gain energy. The chemical pathways the Hadesarchaea cells use to metabolize carbon monoxide are unique to what has been seen before.
  • The recent discovery of the Hadesarchaea will help scientists increase their understanding of the biology and lifestyle of archaea that thrive in the deep biosphere.
  • The Hadesarchaea microbes have also been found in the deep mud of an estuary in North Carolina and underneath the Yellowstone National Park hot springs in USA.

[Ref: ToI]

 

International Relations

 

India joins China and Pakistan in multi-lateral exercises– “Cobra Gold”

 

The 35th edition of the Asia’s largest multinational drill exercises- “Cobra Gold” is being hosted by Thailand.

  • A 12-member team of the Indian Army is participating in the exercises along with its counterparts from China and Pakistan.

Key facts:

  • India has been invited to the exercises as an “observer plus” country.
  • This is in keeping with the recent trend of India’s increasing regional interoperability with a series of multi-lateral exercises on land and sea.
  • The theme of the exercise, involving 35 countries, is humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • This year, 8,564 personnel from Thailand, the U.S., Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea and other nations are playing various roles in the exercises.

Background:

  • These exercises come in the backdrop of increased tensions over China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea and informal discussions between India and the U.S. over joint naval patrols.

Disaster relief tops agenda:

  • Interestingly, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief has emerged as the unifying theme among the Indian Ocean littoral states which otherwise have been at odds recently.
  • After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, India, along with the U.S., Japan and Australia, formed a “core group” to coordinate disaster relief in the region.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Saudi Arabia, Russia, agree to freeze oil output

 

Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to freeze – but not cut – crude oil output in a bid to shore up prices after a 70 per cent drop due to chronic oversupply, a highly unusual pact between the world’s leading OPEC and non-OPEC petroleum producers.

  • The move, which is conditional on other major producers joining in — was designed to stabilise the market following the dramatic price fall since mid-2014.

Key facts:

  • Qatar and Venezuela also joined the agreement in a meeting in Doha.
  • But the accord did not include Iran, which is seeking to ramp up oil output after the lifting of sanctions related to its nuclear programme, or Iraq, which has been boosting production to finance its economy and war against the Islamic State.
  • The announcement marked the first move between OPEC and non-cartel producers to stem the price fall since it began nearly 19 months ago.
  • Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers had previously refused to reduce output in a bid to drive less-competitive players, in particular U.S. shale oil producers, out of the market.

Presently, oil prices remains about 70% below its 2014 peak. Supply still exceeds demand and record global oil stockpiles continue to swell, potentially pushing prices below $20 a barrel before the rout is over.

[Ref: Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

 

Prithvi-II missile successfully test-fired

 

India has successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile.

  • The strategic forces command (SFC) of the Army conducted the test as part of a regular training exercise.

Key Facts:

  • The missile is capable of carrying warheads weighing 500 kg to 1,000 kg.
  • Notably, Prithvi is India’s first indigenously-built ballistic missile.
  • With a strike range of 350 km, Prithvi-II is powered by twin-engines which use liquid propulsion.
  • It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.
  • It is one of the five missiles being developed under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • The missile was inducted into the armed forces in 2003.

[Ref: ToI]

 

Also in News

 

Sindh passes Hindu marriage bill

 

Lawmakers in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province have passed a bill allowing the Hindu community to register their marriages.

  • It is the first time the Muslim majority nation has enacted a law safeguarding the matrimonial rights of the religious minority.
  • The bill will also allow the community to file for divorce.
  • Hindu community in Pakistan is the second largest minority community in the country.
  • Pakistan’s Hindu community numbers around 8.2 million in the Muslim majority nation of 180 million people, with the vast majority residing in the south.

 [Ref: Hindu]

 

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