PM-rejects-scope-IASToppers
Current Affairs Analysis

27th August 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Third party mediation in Kashmir; Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF); Central Vigilance Commission (CVC); Mitra Crater; International Astronomical Union (IAU); Sisir Kumar Mitra; Moon Craters; Allocation of blocks; Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP); Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP); 45th Annual G7 Summit; Bimal Jalan led Committee; Economic capital framework; Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NERP), 2019; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Asian Short Clawed Otter; Smooth-coated otters; Solar conjunction; 7th Community Radio Sammelan; ‘Kalvi Tholaikkatchi’; National Digital Library of India; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 27, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • CVC sets up panel to examine bank fraud above Rs 50 cr

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Extension of timeline for public consultation on Draft NREP 2019
  • Govt offers seven oil and natural gas blocks for bidding under OALP-IV

Issues related to Health & Education

  • HRD Ministry launches National Digital Library of India

Economy

  • Government’s decision of taking Rs 1.76 lakh crore from RBI reserves catastrophic

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • CITES CoP 2019: Otters given highest protection from trade

Bilateral & International Relations

  • G7 governments are boosting inequality: Oxfam
  • PM rejects scope for third party mediation in Kashmir

Science & Technology

  • Mars Missions Stop in Their Tracks as Red Planet Drifts to the Far Side of Sun
  • Chandrayaan-2 captures crater ‘Mitra’ named after Bengali physicist

Key Facts for Prelims

  • 7th Community Radio Sammelan to be held in Delhi in August
  • ‘Kalvi Tholaikkatchi’

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Polity & Governance

CVC sets up panel to examine bank fraud above Rs 50 cr

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has constituted Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF) headed by former Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin to examine bank fraud over Rs 50 crore and recommend action.

Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF) 1

About the Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF)

  • The ABBF would function as the first level of examination of all large fraud cases before recommendations are made to the investigative agencies by the respective public sector banks (PSBs).
  • The ABBF was formally known as ‘Advisory Board on Bank, Commercial and Financial Frauds’. It has 4 members.
  • The tenure of the Chairman and members would be for a period of two years.
  • Its jurisdiction will be applied to only those cases involving the level of officers of General Manager and above in the PSB in respect of an allegation of a fraud in a borrowal account above Rs 50 crore.
  • The board will also periodically carry out frauds analysis in the financial system and give inputs for policy formulation related to the fraud to the RBI.
  • RBI will provide required secretarial services along with the necessary funding to the board.

Framework for timely detection, reporting, and investigation relating to large-value bank frauds

Advisory-Board-for-Banking-Frauds-(ABBF)-IASToppers

  • In a bid to check fraud incidences, the government in May 2019 issued the ‘framework for timely detection, reporting, and investigation relating to large-value bank frauds’ to PSBs.
  • It stated that all accounts exceeding Rs 50 crore, if classified as an NPA, should be examined by banks from the angle of possible fraud, and a report be placed before the bank’s Committee for Review of NPAs based on the findings of the investigation.

About Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

Central-Vigilance-Commission-(CVC)-IASToppers

  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is the main agency for preventing corruption in the Central government.
  • It was established in 1964 by an executive resolution of the Central government, on the recommendations of Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–64).
  • The CVC was neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body. Later, in 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  • In 2004, the CVC has been designated as the agency to receive and act on complaints or disclosure on any allegation of corruption or misuse of office from whistle blowers under the “Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers’ Resolution” (PIDPI), which is popularly known as “Whistle Blowers” Resolution.
  • It has all the powers of a Civil court while conducting any inquiry.
  • The Commission is also empowered as the only designated agency to take action against complainants making motivated or vexatious complaints.
  • The CVC is conceived to be the apex vigilance institution.

Members

  • The CVC consists of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (chairperson) and not more than two vigilance commissioners, appointed by the president on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the prime minister as its head, the Union minister of home affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • They hold office for a term of four years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. After their tenure, they are not eligible for further employment.

Role and Functions

  • Exercise superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; or an offence under the Cr.PC for certain categories of public servants.
  • To inquire or cause an inquiry or investigation to be made into any complaint received against any official belonging to such category of officials specified in CVC Act, 2003.
  • Tender advice to the Central Government and its organizations on such matters as may be referred to it by them.
  • Exercise superintendence over the vigilance administrations of the various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organizations of the Central Government.
[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Extension of timeline for public consultation on Draft NREP 2019

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have extended the timeline to invite comments on Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP) by another month.

DRAFT-NATIONAL-RESOURCE-EFFICIENCY-POLICY-3 IASToppers

About the Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NERP), 2019

About the Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NERP), 2019

  • It was developed with the recommendations from the Indian Resource Efficiency Programme (IREP), launched by the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and Indian Resource Panel in 2017.
  • The work on Resource Efficiency Strategy was supported by the European Union (EU) funded Resource Efficiency Initiative (EU-REI)in the consortium with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Highlights of NERP 2019

  • NERP 2019 seeks to create a regulatory environment to mainstream resource efficiencyacross all sectors including both biotic and abiotic
  • It will create a ‘National Resource Efficiency Authority(NREA)’ under Environment (Protection) 24 Act, 1986, to provide for the regulatory provisions of this policy.
  • An inter-ministerial National Resource Efficiency Board (NREAB) will provide necessary guidance on the aspects critical to the implementation of resource efficiency.
  • It also plans to offer tax benefits on recycled materials, green loans to small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) and soft loans to construct waste disposal facilities, apart from setting up Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).
  • Manufacturers and service providers would also be required to use more recycled or renewable materials and awareness would be created among consumers to indicate the shift.
  • Idea of the national policy is to drive the country towards circular economy through efficient use of available material resources, based on principle of 6R and ‘green public procurement’.
  • The 6Rstands for reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign, re-manufacture and refurbish while the very premise of ‘green public procurement’ is to procure products with lower environmental footprints such as secondary raw materials and locally sourced materials.
  • It also pitches for moving towards ‘zero landfill’ approach in the country, hinting at possibility of imposing ‘landfill taxes’ and ‘high tipping fees’ for bulk generators of waste so that they can move towards optimal use of materials and better waste management.

Principles of NERP 2019

DRAFT-NATIONAL-RESOURCE-EFFICIENCY-POLICY-2 IASToppers

  • Reduction in primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels
  • Creation of higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches
  • Waste minimization
  • Material security, creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection

Current Status of India’s resources

  • Resource extraction of 1580 tonnes/acre is much higher than the world average of 450 tonnes/acre.
  • 3rd largest material demand (in year 2010)
  • Low material productivity compared to global average
  • 3rd highest CO2 emitter, responsible for 6.9% of global CO2 emissions.
  • Highest water withdrawal globally for agriculture.
  • 30% of land undergoing degradation.
  • High import dependency of many critical raw materials.
  • Water is fast becoming scarce while deteriorating air quality has emerged as a major threat to human life.
  • There has been massive soil degradation, with 147 million hectares (Mha) of a total of 329 Mha land area hit.
  • Import dependency is nearly 100% for the majority of the ‘most critical’ materials -cobalt, copper and lithium that find extensive application in high-end technology industry.
  • Over 80% of crude oil that is processed in the economy is imported, along with 85% of its coking coal demand.
  • Extraction of non-metallic minerals is crippled with challenges.
  • To add to the problems, India’s recycling rate is just about 20-25% compared with 70% in developing countries in Europe.
  • The situation will only aggravate as India is likely to double its material consumption by 2030.

Material Demand

Material Demand

  • In scenario with continuing current dynamics (8% growth in GDP p.a. until 2030, thereafter 5%), total material consumption in 2030 is projected to be 14.2 BT (billion tonnes).
  • This means tripling of demand for primary materials compared to 2010, particularly the demand for energy carriers, metals and non-metal minerals.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Govt offers seven oil and natural gas blocks for bidding under OALP-IV

The government offered for bidding seven new areas for prospecting of oil and natural gas on revamped exploration terms that look to expedite cut in import dependence by raising domestic output.

OALP-IV-IASToppers

About the allocation of blocks

About-the-allocation-of-blocks

  • Under the 4th bid round of Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), government offered Five blocks in Vindhyan sedimentary basin, one block in Bengal Purnea basin and one block in the proven basin of Rajasthan.
  • OALP-IV is the first round being held on revamped terms approved in February 2019. Under the revamped policy, Category-1 basin areas, where production has already been established, are bid out on a combination of exploration work programme and revenue share to the government in 70:30 ratio.
  • While Vindhyan is Category-II basin block, Bengal Purnea is Category-III area where no exploration has happened so far.
  • The Vindhyan basin covers areas under the Son valley, Bundelkhand and Rajasthan, while the Bengal Purnea basin is in West Bengal and extends into the offshore region of the Bay of Bengal.

About Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)

OALP-IV-1-IASToppers

  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a part of the government’s Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP), gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
  • Companies can put in an expression of interest (EoI) for any area throughout the year. The areas sought are then put on auction.
  • The objective of OLAP is to increase India’s indigenous oil and gas production by maximising the potential of already discovered hydrocarbon resources in the country.
  • OALP offers single license to explore conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources to propel investment in and provide operational flexibility to the investors.
  • Under it, Government will conduct auction of oil and gas blocks twice a year, with the first round being held in July 2017.
  • The selection of oil blocks will be based on seismic and well data provided by Directorate-General of Hydrocarbons in National Data Repository.

About Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP)

About Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP)

  • The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) opens up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor -friendly fiscal and administrative regime.

Four main elements of HELP

  • Uniform license for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbon.
  • An open acreage policy.
  • Easy to administer revenue sharing model.
  • Marketing and pricing freedom for the crude oil and natural gas produced.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

HRD Ministry launches National Digital Library of India

Human Resource Development Ministry has launched the National Digital Library of India project.

National-Digital-Library-of-India-1

About National Digital Library of India

  • Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) under its National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) has initiated the National Digital Library of India (NDL India) to develop a framework of virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility.

National Digital Library of India

  • It is an all-digital library that stores information about different types of digital contents and educational materials relevant for users from varying educational levels.
  • It is being developed at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.
  • NDL India is designed to hold content of any language and provides interface support for leading Indian languages.
  • It is being developed to help students to prepare for entrance and competitive examination and to enable people to learn from best practices from all over the world.
  • National Digital Library has been integrated with Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) App.
[Ref: AIR]

 

Economy

Government’s decision of taking Rs 1.76 lakh crore from RBI reserves catastrophic

The main opposition political party termed the government’s decision of taking Rs 1.76 lakh crore from RBI reserves catastrophic and accused it of thrusting India’s economy towards bankruptcy and an economic emergency.

RBI-Panel-on-Economic-Capital-Framework-3-IASToppers

What is the issue?

  • Recently, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the transfer of a record Rs 1.76 lakh crore, from its Contingency Risk Buffer, to the government to stimulate the slowing economy without widening fiscal deficit.

RBI-Panel-on-Economic-Capital-Framework-1-IASToppers

  • The critics said that Bimal Jalan led Committee had earlier said that the amount should be transferred to the government in installments over a period of 4-5 years. Instead, it was given to the government in one go.

Background

  • In December 2018, RBI constituted a panel on economic capital framework, headed by Ex-RBI governor Bimal Jalan.

Mandate of Bimal Jalan committee

RBI-Panel-on-Economic-Capital-Framework-4-IASToppers

  • To review status and justification of various reserves and buffers maintained by RBI
  • Review global best practices followed by central banks in making provisions for risks
  • Suggest adequate level of risk provisioning that RBI needs to maintain
  • Determine whether RBI is holding provisions, reserves and buffers in surplus or deficit
  • Propose suitable profits distribution policy
  • The committee was supposed to submit its report by April 2019, but it was later given a three-month extension.
  • The main difference of opinion was raised between the panel members and the government’s representative on the panel over the transfer of the RBI’s ‘excess’ capital reserves.

Why is government demanding money from RBI?

  • The government has been insisting that the RBI should hand over its surplus reserves amid a shortfall in revenue collections by government.
  • Access to the funds will allow the government to meet deficit targets, infuse capital into weak banks to boost lending and fund welfare programmes.

What is economic capital framework?

  • The economic capital framework reflects the capital that an institution requires or needs to hold as a counter against unforeseen risks or events or losses in the future.

Why it needs a fix?

  • Prior to setting up of the committee, the finance ministry in its discussions with the RBI, argued that the existing economic capital framework, which governs the RBI’s capital requirements is based on a very ‘conservative’ assessment (extra cautious) of risk by the central bank.
  • The government believes that RBI has much higher reserves than it actually needs to tide over financial emergencies that India may face.
  • Some central banks around the world (like US and UK) keep 13% to 14% of their assets as a reserve compared to RBI’s 27% and some (like Russia) more than that.
  • Economists in the past have argued for RBI releasing ‘extra’ capital that can be put to productive use by the government. The Malegam Committee estimated the excess (in 2013) at Rs 1.49 lakh crore.

Why RBI needs excess reserves?

  • The RBI needs adequate capital reserves for monetary policy operations, currency fluctuations, possible fall in value of bonds, sterilisation costs related to open-market operations and other risks from unexpected increase in its expenditure.
  • The RBI has maintained the view that it needs to have a stronger balance sheet to deal with a possible crisis and external shocks.

Does the RBI pay tax on these earnings or profits?

  • Its statute provides exemption from paying income-tax or any other tax, including wealth tax.

Nature of the arrangement between the government and RBI on the transfer of surplus

  • Although RBI was promoted as a private shareholders’ bank in 1935 with a paid up capital of Rs 5 crore, the government nationalised RBI in January 1949, making the sovereign its owner.
  • What the RBI does, therefore, is transfer the surplus (the excess of income over expenditure) to the government, in accordance with Section 47 (Allocation of Surplus Profits) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
[Ref: Economic Times, Livemint]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

CITES CoP 2019: Otters given highest protection from trade

Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters were included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the 18th Conference of Parties (CoP) in Geneva.

CITES-CoP-2019-IASToppers

  • The proposal to list the otters was floated by Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.

Why they were added in Appendix I of the CITES convention?

Appendix I of CITES convention includes species threatened with extinction. Both were earlier listed in Appendix II of CITES, which mandates that trade in a species must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. 

  • Both species have been at high risk due to great demand for their skins as well as for them to be used as pets.
  • Both species are classified on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, as facing a ‘high risk of extinction in the wild’ and are listed as ‘vulnerable’.

About Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

CITES-CoP-2019 2

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was adopted in March 1973 to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species.
  • The goal of the CITES is to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of any species.
  • The convention resulted from a resolution adopted at a 1963 meeting of member countries of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The formal text of CITES was entered into force in 1975.
  • CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.
  • It is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • The number of state parties to the convention are 183and more than 5,800 animal and 30,000 plant species had been classified.
  • CITES classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened they are:

Appendix I lists endangered species that are at risk of extinction. It also prohibits outright the commercial trade of these plants and animals; however, some may be transported internationally in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.

Appendix II species are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted; their trade is regulated by permit.

Appendix III species are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.

  • In addition to plants and animals and their parts, the agreement also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as clothing, food, medicine, and souvenirs.

About Asian Short Clawed Otter

asiansmallclawedotter-iastoppers

  • The Asian Short Clawed Otter is the smallest of all the Otter species.
  • Its name comes from the very small claws on its fingers, they rely on their sensitive fingers to forage for their prey, and so do not have the long claws which most otters have.
  • Being amphibious they spend roughly half of their time on land, and half in the water.
  • It lives in wetland of India and Southeast Asia.
  • They have two layers of dense fur and a layer of body fat to keep them warm in the water.
  • They are very sociable animals, usually forming groups of 10 to 12 individuals in a loose family group.
  • One of the key organisations involved in the conservation of the Asian short-clawed otter is the IUCN Otter Specialist Group, which has developed a network of biologists across Asia that are conducting field surveys and popularising this species’ conservation.

About smooth-coated otters

  • Smooth-coated otters are the largest of Asia’s otters.
  • They are characterized by a very smooth, sleek pelage. Their eyes and ears are small; the tail is flattened.
  • Smooth-coated otters are found in areas where freshwater is plentiful, preferring shallow and placid waters.
  • These otters have generally been described as fish specialist. They are strong swimmers and hunt in groups.
  • Major threats to Asian otter population are loss of wetland habitats due to construction of largescale hydroelectric projects, conversion of wetlands for settlements and agriculture, reduction in prey biomass, poaching and contamination of waterways by pesticides.
  • Poaching for pelt and other body parts that are believed to possess therapeutic properties. Few nomadic hunting tribes eat otter flesh.

WWF-India’s Initiatives

  • WWF has established distribution and current population status in unprotected stretches of river Ganges and its major tributaries.
  • Their occurrence was reported in Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time.
  • There is a plan to develop an atlas on all the species of otters in India. This atlas will facilitate the conservation of otters at landscape levels.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

G7 governments are boosting inequality: Oxfam

The Group of Seven (G7) leaders are creating a wide gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ both in their countries as well as across the globe, according to a new report published by non-profit Oxfam International.

G7-bloc-2-IASToppers

  • Recently, the 45thAnnual G7 Summit held in the French town of Biarritz.

What is G7 group?

G7-bloc-IASToppers

  • The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union is also represented within the G7. The EU is ‘non-enumerated’ member and does not assume the rotating G7 presidency.
  • It was set up in 1975 as an informal forum bringing together the leaders of the world’s leading industrial nations.
  • The group was previously known as the ‘G8’ and counted Russia among its members, but Russia has been excluded since annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in early 2014.
  • G7 is capable of setting the global agenda because decisions taken by these major economic powers have a real impact. Thus, decisions taken at the G7 are not legally binding, but exert strong political influence.
  • It complements the role of the G20, which is widely regarded as the framework for ongoing global economic coordination.
  • These countries are the seven major advanced economies which represent more than 62% of the net global wealth ($263 trillion).
  • A very high net national wealth and a very high Human Development Index are the main requirements to be a member of this group.

Location of G7 summit

g7-location

  • Summits are held annually, and hosted on a rotation basis by the group’s members.
  • The 2019 G7 summit (45th summit) was held in Manoir Richelieu, in Biarritz,
  • The theme of the 2019 summit is ‘fighting inequality’.
  • The US will take over the G7 Presidency from 1 January 2020.

Objectives of 2019 G7 summit

G7-bloc-7-IASToppers

  • Gender equality and access to education
  • Reducing environmental inequality
  • Fair and equitable trade
  • Peace against security threats and terrorism
  • Digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI)

Criticism of G7 group

G7-bloc-1-IASToppers

  • Many protesters claim the G7, which has no representative from any African, Russian or Middle Eastern nation, is completely outdated.
  • The poorest 20 per cent of the G7 population receives, on average, only five per cent of all income earned from work, while the richest 20 per cent receives about 45 per cent.
  • With the exception of Japan and Canada, this gap has increased in all G7 countries since 2004, especially in the UK and Italy.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

 

PM rejects scope for third party mediation in Kashmir

Prime Minister rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally in the G7 Summit held in France.

Scope-for-third-party-mediation-in-Kashmir-IASToppers

What is the issue?

  • Prime Minister’s statement of rejecting third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir came against the backdrop of the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the State into two Union Territories.
  • This created tensions between India and Pakistan. However, India has told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter.
  • US in the recent past has offered mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, which was rejected by India.

Why did India will not accept third-party mediation on Kashmir?

  • India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru insisted on taking the Kashmir issue to the United Nations (UN) despite strong opposition from within his party and government.
  • First home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was of the view that India should have never taken this issue outside the bilateral realm and had received nothing beneficial by taking it to the UN.
  • Moreover, any move towards third-party mediation would incentivise Pakistan for terrorism against India as they would believe that the third-party mediation protects them from immediate retaliation from India.
  • The critics might argue that Kashmir cannot be compared to the Indus Water Treaty arbitration or the Rann of Kutch accord or the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war mediation.
  • From India’s standpoint, Kashmir remains an internal problem.
  • Apprehension of the country’s policy wonks mainly stems from the fact that in the event of a third-party mediation (by the US for instance), America could use its might as the world’s superpower to impose a solution on Kashmir that might go contrary to India’s stated position.

Background:

Scope-for-third-party-mediation-in-Kashmir-2-IASToppers

  • The US offer to mediate in the Kashmir dispute is not new. There have been precedents when India and Pakistan have allowed a third-party to help resolve their issues.
  • Indus Water treaty: Both nations were able to reach agreements through third party mediators in case of the Indus Waters Treaty and the negotiations on the Rann of Kutch dispute.
  • Rann of Kutch Accord (mediated by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson) persuaded the combatants to end hostilities and establish a tribunal to resolve the dispute.
  • During the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the then USSR led mediation efforts paved the way for India and Pakistan to withdraw forces from each other’s territories while agreeing to discuss all future matters. This was followed by signing of the Tashkent Declaration in Uzbekistan.
[Ref: The Hindu, India Today]

 

Science & Technology

Mars Missions Stop in Their Tracks as Red Planet Drifts to the Far Side of Sun

The communication with All of NASA’s spacecraft on Mars will be cut off as the sun pass between Earth and the Mass.

Mars-solar-conjunction-1-IASToppers

What is solar conjunction?

  • When Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, this period is known as Mars solar conjunction.

Mars-solar-conjunction-IASToppers

  • Solar conjunction occurs every two years.

Why the communication with Mars’s spacecraft will be stopped?

  • The Sun expels hot, ionised gas from its corona, which extends far into space.
  • During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars.

mars_solar_cojuction

  • When Mars disappears far enough behind the Sun’s corona that there is increased risk of radio interference, engineers hold off on sending commands.
  • This time will be from August 28 to September 7. In 2015, the conjunction period for India’s Mangalyaan mission lasted for more than a month from May 27 to July 1.

Which spacecrafts are currently on Mars?

  • Curiosity spacecraft
  • Insight spacecraft
  • Odyssey orbiter
  • The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
  • The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Chandrayaan-2 captures crater ‘Mitra’ named after Bengali physicist

One of the crater found by the Chandrayaan-2 is named after 20th century scientist Sisir Kumar Mitra.

About the Mitra Crater

moon-is-named-Mitra-3-IASToppers

  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) (global authority for naming planetary features in the solar system) had named the crater found by chandryaan-2 as ‘Mitra’, after Professor Bengali professor Sisir Kumar Mitra.
  • The other set of images taken by the Chandrayaan-2’s Terrain Mapping Camera-2, also include the images of impact craters ‘Jackson’ (named after John Jackson, a Scottish astronomer), ‘Mach’, (named after Ernst Mach, an Austrian physicist) and ‘Korolev’, (the father of the space programme of the erstwhile USSR).
  • Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, American astronomer Daniel Kirkwood and German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld also figure in the naming of lunar features for their contribution to science.

International Astronomical Union

IAU_logo

  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in
  • Its mission is to promote the science of astronomy in research, communication, education and development.
  • Its individual members are professional astronomers from all over the world.
  • It is the world’s largest body representing astronomers from 107 countries.

Functions

  • The key activity of the IAU is the organization of scientific meetings. Every year the IAU sponsors 9 international IAU Symposia. The IAU Symposium Proceedings series is the flagship of the IAU publications.
  • They give the definition of fundamental astronomical and physical constants and unambiguous astronomical nomenclature.
  • It serves as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and surface features on them.
  • It also works to promote research and public outreach activities in astronomy for the public. These activities culminated with the organization of the UNESCO International Year of Astronomy in 2009, which reached out to over 800 million people from 148 countries.
  • The IAU also carries out joint educational activities associated with Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and UNESCO.
  • he IAU has recently launched an international call to establish the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in 2019.

About Sisir Kumar Mitra

moon-is-named-Mitra-1-IASToppers

  • He was the first to introduce radio communication in India, and began transmitting radio programmes from his laboratory at the University College of Science, Calcutta, in 1926.
  • He led research in ionosphere (the upper region of the atmosphere) and radiophysics.
  • In the 1950s, he advocated space research in India and high altitude rocket research programmes.
  • He was awarded Padma Bhushan.
  • His book, ‘Upper Atmosphere’ published in 1947 is still considered the Bible for research workers in the field of ionosphere.

What Are Moon Craters? How Were They Formed?

moon-is-named-Mitra-IASToppers

  • Moon craters are bowl-shaped landforms created by two processes: volcanism and cratering.
  • Volcanism and Cratering are the wo main causes for craters on the moon. Scientists called these “mare” (Latin for seas).
  • Moreover, the comets and asteroid chunks also created impact craters on moon. They are in the same shape as they were created, as there is no air or water on the Moon to erode or blow away the crater edges.
  • Since the Moon has been heavily hit by asteroids, the surface is also covered by a layer of broken rocks called regolith and a very fine layer of dust.
  • The largest crater on the Moon is called South Pole-Aitkin Basin. It’s about 2,500 kilometers. It’s also among the oldest of the Moon’s impact basins and formed just a few hundred million years or so after the Moon itself was formed.

Shape of the crater

Shape-of-the-crater-1

  • Most craters have a round shape, sometimes surrounded by circular ridges. A few have central peaks, and some have debris scattered around them.
  • In very strong impacts, a central peak forms in the bowl of the crater. The surrounding region may get buckled and wrinkled into ring-shaped formations.
  • The shapes can tell scientists about the size and mass of the impactors and the angle of travel they followed as they smashed into the surface.

How are craters on moon named?

  • Typically, members of an appropriate IAU task group suggest names when the first images of the surface of a planet or satellite is obtained but as higher resolution images become available, a specific name is recommended.
  • The suggested names are reviewed by the task force which submits it to the Working Group to take a final call based on votes.
[Ref: Live Mint]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

7th Community Radio Sammelan to be held in Delhi in August 

The Seventh Community Radio Sammelan will be held at New Delhi from 27th to 29th August, 2019.

Community-Radio-Sammelan-2 Current Affair Analysis

About the Community Radio Sammelan

Community-Radio-Sammelan-3-IASToppers

  • The Sammelan is being organized by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
  • The theme of this year’s Sammelan is ‘Community Radio for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.
  • It will witness an award ceremony for Community Radio Stations for their achievements in broadcasting development programmes in various genres.
[Ref: PIB, Business Standard]

 

‘Kalvi Tholaikkatchi’

‘Kalvi-Tholaikkatchi’-iastoppers Current Affair Analysis

  • The Tamil Nadu government launched it’s exclusive education TV channel, aimed at benefiting students of classes I to XII.
  • It is an initiative of the School Education Department of Tamilnadu.
  • The content will include shows aimed at school children, besides those on jobs and related issues.

 

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