Current Affair Analysis

3rd August 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Changthangi or Pashmina goat; World Breastfeeding Week; World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA); Importance of breast feeding; MAA programme; Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS); “Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)” programme; Bharat Stage (BS) norms; Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI; Scheme of Institutions of Eminence; Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019; Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019; Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF); POCSO amendment bill; Hyperloop transportation system; National Housing Bank (NHB); IMMUVAC and VPM1002; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 03, 2019

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Lok Sabha clears bill to remove Congress chief as Jallianwala  Bagh trustee
  • Parliament Passes UAPA Amendment Bill
  • Skill India’s SANKALP Scheme to focus on district level skilling ecosystem
  • Pashmina Products Receive BIS Certification
  • Parliament passes POCSO amendment bill

Issues related to Health & Education

  • 20 Institution recommended for status of ‘Institutions of Eminence’
  • Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding – World Breastfeeding Week 1st – 7th August

Economy

  • NHB opens Rs 10,000 crore liquidity infusion facility for HFCs

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Armoured, specialised vehicles of armed forces exempted from BS-VI emission norms

Bilateral & International Relations

  • INF nuclear treaty: US pulls out of Cold War-era pact with Russia

Science & Technology

  • Construction of First Hyperloop project started in Maharashtra

Key Facts for Prelims

  • IMMUVAC and VPM1002

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Government Schemes & Policies

Lok Sabha clears bill to remove Congress chief as Jallianwala  Bagh trustee

The Lok Sabha passed a bill that seeks to remove the Congress president as a permanent member of the trust that runs the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in Amritsar, Punjab.

Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 IASToppers

About the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951.
  • The Act provides for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed or wounded on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar.
  • In addition, it creates a Trust to manage the National Memorial.

Composition of Trustees:

  • Under the 1951 Act, the Trustees of the Memorial include President of the Indian National Congress.

Jallianwala -Bagh-trustee-IASTopperrs

  • The Trust as per the 1951 Act included the Prime Minister, as Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) the Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, (v) the Governor of Punjab, (vi) the Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government.
  • The Bill amends this provision to remove the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee.
  • Further, it clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party will be the Trustee.

Nominated trustee

  • The Act provides that the three trustees nominated by the central government will be trustees for a period of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination.
  • The Bill allows the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of the period of his term without assigning any reason.
[Ref: Live Mint]

 

Parliament Passes UAPA Amendment Bill

The Rajya Sabha passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019, which will enable the Central Government to notify an individual as ‘terrorist’.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, IASToppers 2019

Objective:

  • The objective of the proposed amendments is to facilitate speedy investigation and prosecution of terror offences and designating an individual as terrorist in line with the international practices.

Key Amendments of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019:

  • The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.

Who may commit terrorism:

Amendments of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019

  • Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • The act has no provision to designate individual terrorist. Therefore, when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization.
  • The Bill empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.

Approval for seizure of property by National Investigation Agency (NIA):

  • Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
  • However, many times terror accused own properties in different states. In such cases, seeking approval of DGPs of different states becomes very difficult and the delay caused by the same may enable the accused to transfer properties.
  • The amendment empowers Director General of NIAto forfeit a property which represents proceeds of terrorism in relation to an investigation being conducted by NIA.

Investigation by NIA:

  • Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
  • Due to the shortages of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSPs) facing by NIA, the Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

Insertion to schedule of treaties:

  • The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). 
  • The Bill adds another treaty of International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Criticisms:

  • The law can be misused by governments in future as there is no processes in place under which misuse cannot happen.
  • The critics asked that if these amendments can stop the terrorist attackslike Pulwama or Pathankot attacks.

Background:

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was passed in 1967 under the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  • UAPA is the purified version of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act(TADA) which was allowed to lapse in 1995 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) that was repealed in 2004.
  • Eventually amendments were brought in under the successive United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments in 2004, 2008 and 2013.
[Ref: PRS India, Livemint]

 

Skill India’s SANKALP Scheme to focus on district level skilling ecosystem

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship reviewed the Ministry’s World Bank loan assisted “Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)” programme at the first Program Governance Board Meeting.

SANKALP Project2 IASToppers

About SANKALP programme:

  • SANKALP (Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion) is a centrally sponsored programme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

SANKALP Project3 IASToppers (2)

  • SANKALP is an outcome oriented project supported by World Bank.
  • The project will focus on the overall skilling ecosystem covering both Central (MSDE, NSDA and NSDC) and State agencies.
  • SANKALP aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM).
  • Under SANKALP four key result areas have been identified viz:
  1. Institutional Strengthening (at National, State & District level);
  2. Quality Assurance Quality Assurance of skill development programs;
  3. Inclusion of marginalized population in skill development
  4. Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

SANKALP Project IASToppers

Objectives of the Project:

  • The objective of the project is to enhance institutional mechanisms for skills development and increase access to quality and market-relevant training for the work force.
  • It is aimed at institutional reforms and improving quality of skill development training programs in long and short term Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Funding:

  • Total of 4455 crores has been allotted to the SANKALP programme.

The project is funded by three major parts:

  • World Bank loan assistance under Program for Results (PforR) instrument which includes Program funding and Technical Assistance (TA);
  • States’ contribution
  • Industry contribution

Components:

SANKALP project has two broad components (1) National and (2) State component.

National Component:

  • Setting up National Skill Certification Body
  • Set up unified National Accreditation board within National Skill Development Agency (NSDA)
  • Development of Labour Market Information System (LMIS)
  • Skill Development Management System (SDMS)
  • Kaushal Mart
  • Takshila: National Portal for trainers
  • India International Skill Centers (IISC)
  • Skills Fund for setting up industry lead and job oriented skill training institutions
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Pashmina Products Receive BIS Certification

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) published an Indian Standard for identification, marking and labelling of Pashmina products to certify its purity.

Pashmina Products Receive BIS Certification 1 IASToppers

Significance of BIS certification of Pashmina:

  • Help curb the counterfeit products as well as adulteration of Pashmina.
  • Protect the interests of local artisans and nomads who are the producers of Pashmina raw material and motivate the younger generation to continue in this profession.
  • Ensure better prices for the goat herding community in Ladakh as well as for the local handloom artisans producing genuine Pashmina products.

About Pashmina goat:

Pashmina-Goat

  • The Changthangi or Pashmina goat, is a special breed of goat indigenous to the high altitude regions of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • They are raised for ultra-fine cashmere wool, known as Pashmina once woven. The Textiles are handspun and were first woven in Kashmir.
  • The Changthangi goat grows a thick, warn undercoat which is the source of Kashmir Pashmina wool – the world’s finest cashmere measuring between 12-15 microns in fiber thickness.
  • These goats are generally domesticated and reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang region of Greater Ladakh. The Changthangi goats have revitalized the economy of Changthang, Leh and Ladakh region.
  • Ministry of Textiles is processing a proposal for funding of Rs. 20 crore for a de-hairing plant for Leh which along with this initiative will lead to progress in the Pashmina sector in Ladakh.

About Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS):

BIS IAStoppers

  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
  • It is established by the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
  • The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.
  • As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.
  • It also works as WTO-TBT (WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade) enquiry point for India.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Parliament passes POCSO amendment bill

The Parliament passed a bill that provides for stringent punishment for sexual crimes against children and death penalty in cases of aggravated sexual assault.

POCSO Act 3 IASTOppers

To know more about POCSO amendment bill, refer IASToppers’ 27th July 2019 Current Affairs Analysis
Click here: https://www.iastoppers.com/27th-july-2019-current-affairs-analysis-iastoppers/

[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

20 Institution recommended for status of ‘Institutions of Eminence’

The UGC has considered the reports of the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) appointed by Government under the Chairmanship of Shri N Gopalaswami recommending 15 Public institutions and 15 Private institutions for considering to give status of Institutions of Eminence.

About the scheme of Institutions of Eminence:

  • The scheme of Institutions of Eminence was rolled out by University Grants Commission (UGC).

Institutes of Eminence Scheme1 IASToppers

  • It aims to help 20 higher educations (10 publics and 10 private) institutions from country break into top 500 global rankings in 10 years, and then eventually break into top 100 over time.

Facilities provided to these institutes:

  • These selected institutions are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions.
  • They will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students and have flexible course duration and structure.
  • They will be exempted from approvals of government or UGC for academic collaborations with foreign institutions, except institutions in MEA and MHA’s list of negative countries.

Who can apply?

  • Only higher education institutions, currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), are eligible to apply for eminence tag.
  • The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided sponsoring organisation submits convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

Need for world-class institutes in India:

  • India today educates only half as many young people from the university age group as China and ranks well behind most Latin American and other middle-income countries.
  • India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid.
  • Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic institutions and throughout the higher education system.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding – World Breastfeeding Week 1st – 7th August 

The Food and Nutrition Board, Ministry of Women and Child Development, is organizing a number of activities on the theme “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding” during the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) being observed from 1st to 7th August 2019.

World Breastfeeding Week 1st – 7th August 1 IASToppers

About World Breastfeeding Week

  • World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration which is being held every year from 1 to 7 August.
  • It is organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), WHO and UNICEF.
  • It aimed at promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development.

About World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA):

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)

  • WABA, formed in 1991, is a global network of organizations and individuals who believe breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers and who dedicate themselves to protect, promote and support this right.
  • WABA acts on the Innocenti Declaration and works in close liaison with UNICEF.
  • WABA does not accept funds or gifts from manufacturers or distributors of breastmilk substitutes.
  • WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) 1

Importance of breast feeding:

Importance of breast feeding

  • 13%: children die below 5 yrs of age, owing to poor breastfeeding practices
  • 823 000: child deaths can be averted every year.
  • 1,56,000: child deaths could be reduced in India with breastfeeding
  • 4 million: respiratory infection episodes can be reduced
  • 9 million: Diarrhoea episodes can be reduced
  • 15 times: children are more likely to die of pneumonia who are not breastfed
  • 11 times: children are more likely to die of diarrhoea
  • 20,000: mothers’ deaths due to breast cancer can be averted globally f mothers breastfeed for more than a year
  • 3 to 4 points: Increase in IQ, depending on the duration of breastfeeding

Importance of breast feeding 1

Indian scenario:

Indian scenario

  • 7%: deliveries take place in hospitals
  • 6%: children receive breastfeeding within one hour of birth
  • 9%: exclusively breastfed for the first six months
  • 5%: children between 6-8 months given complementary foods

Indian scenario 1

Optimal Breast feeding Practices include:

Optimal Breast feeding Practices include

  • Breastfeeding within an hour of birth
  • Breast-milk alone is the best food and drink for an infant for the first six months of life
  • But allow infant to receive ORS, drops, syrups of vitamins, minerals and medicines when required
  • After 6 months, introduce semi-solid, soft food along with breast feeding up to two years
  • From 6 up to 12 months, breast milk provides half of the child’s nutritional needs

Optimal Breast feeding Practices include 1

  • From the age of 6–8 months a child needs to eat two to three times per day and three to four times per day starting at 9 months – in addition to breastfeeding
  • The baby should be fed small amounts of food that steadily increase in variety and quantity as he or she grows
  • During an illness, children need additional fluids and encouragement to eat regular meals, and breastfeeding infants need to breastfeed more often.

About MAA programme:

Government launched National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme— MAA (mothers’ absolute affection) to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding.

  • The goal of the Programme that will continue for a year, is to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices, which includes initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years.
  • The programme will be monitored by UNICEF and other partners.
  • The government will train nurses in government hospitals, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives (ANM) to provide relevant information and counselling support to mothers for breastfeeding.
  • Monitoring and impact assessment is also an integral part of MAA programme. Progress will be measured against key indicators, such as availability of skilled persons at ground for counselling, improvement in breastfeeding practices and number of accredited health facilities.
  • Dedicated funds— Rs 4.3 lakhs per district, have been allocated to states for the programme, which is in addition to the funds approved under National Health Mission’s annual project implementation plans.
  • To ensure effective roll-out of the programme ministry of health has established MAA secretariat and a steering committee will be created in all states and at the district level.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Economy

NHB opens Rs 10,000 crore liquidity infusion facility for HFCs

The housing sector regulator National Housing Bank (NHB) opened a liquidity infusion facility of Rs.10000 crore for Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) to improve liquidity in sector. 

NHB.png 1

  • The measure will ease fund flow to housing sector and would serve as additional liquidity for individual housing loans in affordable segment.

National Housing Bank (NHB):

NHB

  • NHB is an All India Financial Institution (AIFl), set up in 1988, under an Act of Parliament, viz. the National Housing Bank Act, 1987 (Central Act No. 53 of 1987).
  • It is an apex agency established to operate as a principal agency to promote housing finance institutions both at local and regional levels and to provide financial and other support incidental to such institutions and for matters connected therewith.

Objectives of NHB:

  • To promote a sound and cost effective housing finance system to cater all segments of the population and to integrate the housing finance system with the overall financial system.
  • To promote a network of dedicated housing finance institutions to adequately serve various regions and different income groups.
  • To augment resources for the sector and channelize them for housing.
  • To make housing credit more affordable.
  • To regulate the activities of housing finance companies based on regulatory and supervisory authority derived under the Act.
  • To encourage augmentation of supply of buildable land and also building materials for housing and to upgrade the housing stock in the country.
  • To encourage public agencies to emerge as facilitators and suppliers of serviced land.

Programmes and schemes:

  • Under Housing for All by 2022, two schemes, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and Rural Housing Interest Subsidy Scheme
  • Credit Risk Guarantee Fund Trust for Low Income Housing (CRGFTLIH)
[Ref: Times of India]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Armoured, specialised vehicles of armed forces exempted from BS-VI emission norms

The government has exempted the armoured and other specialised vehicles of Indian armed and paramilitary forces from the vehicular emission norms BS-VI that will come into force from April 1, 2020.

BS – VI norms IASToppers

Reason behind exemption:

  • The exemption has been granted because these vehicles operate in remote and inhospitable terrains with most challenging operational and environmental conditions.
  • Due to security challenges and requirements of specialised operations, the development of suitable engine compliant with the BS-VI norms would require considerable time.
  • Further, it is difficult to maintain ideal transportation and storage conditions of fuel in these conditions.

What are Bharat Stage (BS) norms?

  • Introduced in 2000, the Bharat norms are emission control standards that are based on the European regulations (Euro norms).
  • They set limits for release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles.
  • Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms.
  • BS IV norms stipulate only 50 parts per million sulphur compared with up to 350 parts per million under BS III.
  • Also, hydrocarbon, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions are lower under BS IV.

BS – VI norms 2IASToppers

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:

  • The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.
  • The BS-VI fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80 per cent, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
  • The emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 per cent and 25 per cent from cars with petrol engines.
  • Using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines or, conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel, may be ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, and may damage the engine in the long run.
[Ref: Economic Times, PIB]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

INF nuclear treaty: US pulls out of Cold War-era pact with Russia

The US has formally withdrawn from a key nuclear treaty with Russia, raising fears of a new arms race.

INF nuclear treaty

Why did US pull put from INF treaty?

  • In 2002, US pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned weapons designed to counter ballistic nuclear missiles.
  • As a result, in 2007, Russia declared that the INF treaty no longer served Russia’s interests.
  • In 2014, the US accused Russia of breaching the INF Treaty after it allegedly tested a ground-launched cruise missile.
  • Moreover, in 2018, NATO supported the US accusations saying that the Russia has developed a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty. However, Russia denied the accusation leading to withdrawal of US.

Military Implication of withdrawal of US from INF treaty:

  • This will likely heighten the threat posed by ballistic missiles.
  • This could also lead to a new arms race between the US, Russia and China.
  • The U.S. Army is preparing new Precision Strike Missile in the INF range, however, it will not be ready until 2023. On the other side, Russia could deploy the 9M729 missile in no time.
  • Moreover, Russia could also effectively reclassify the RS-26 “Rubezh,” an experimental system that has been tested just above the INF Treaty’s 5,500-kilometer limit.

INF-Treaty-nuclear-security-Russia-INF-Treaty-violations-US-China-trade-war

Diplomatic implications of withdrawal:

  • Withdrawal will probably not lead to a new INF deal binding the United States, Russia and China.
  • China has rejected the U.S. offer of trilateral arms control talks.
  • The collapse of the INF Treaty leaves New START as the only U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control deal still standing.
  • However, the New START treaty will expire in 2021 and US is unlikely to extend it past its expiration date.
  • Moreover, it is unlikely that NATO allies will agree to host U.S. intermediate-range systems on their territory which some fear would lead to a new arms race in Europe.

About Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF):

  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed by the United States andthe Soviet Union in 1987.
  • They agreed to eliminatetheir stocks of intermediate-range and shorter-range (or “medium-range”) land-based missiles (which could carry nuclear warheads).
  • It was the first arms-control treaty to abolish an entire category of weapons systems.
  • In addition, two protocols to the treaty established procedures for observers from both nations to verify first-hand the other nation’s destruction of its missiles.
  • The INF Treaty defined intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) as those having ranges of 1,000 to 5,500 km and shorter-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) as those having ranges from 500 to 1,000 km.

Provisions of the treaty:

  • The treaty prohibits both parties from possessing, producing or flight-testing ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,500km.
  • Possessing or producing ground-based launchers of those missiles is also prohibited.
  • Existing weapons had to be destroyed, and a protocol for mutual inspection was agreed upon.
  • Each party has the right to withdraw from the treaty with six months’ notice, if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests.

China and INF:

  • US criticized the INF Treaty for not restraining the buildup of Chinese forces as one of the reason from withdrawing from INF.
  • China is not bound by the INF Treaty and has deployed intermediate-range missiles in significant numbers. Intermediate-range systems make up approximately 95 percent of the Chinese army.
  • Some observers have argued that the INF Treaty is only focused Europe and fail to take into account the U.S.-Chinese military balance.
[Ref: The Hindu, BBC]

 

Science & Technology

Construction of First Hyperloop project started in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra government gave the final nod for constructing a hyperloop between India’s financial capital Mumbai and Pune, which is 200 kilometres away.

Hyperloop-hails-Maharashtra-govt-nod-to-put-Mumbai-Pune-super-train-585x422

About the Maharastra’s Hyperloop Project:

  • The Mumbai-Pune hyperloop is expected to cut the 3.5-hour travel time between the two cities to 35 minutes.
  • It will be the first hyperloop project in the world.
  • It is a public infrastructure project.

What is hyperloop transportation system?

  • It is a transportation system where a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum tube connecting cities at speeds matching that of an aircraft.
  • The Hyperloop is a concept proposed by billionaire inventor Elon Musk, CEO the aerospace firm SpaceX.
  • US-based Hyperloop Transport Technology (HTT) claimed it costs $40 million per kilometre to build a hyperloop system while building a high-speed train line would cost almost twice.

Hyperloop2 IASToppers

How it operates?

  • In hyperloop transportation, custom-designed capsules or pods are expected to run smoothly through continuous steel tubes which are held at partial vacuum.
  • The pod which sandwiches the passenger compartment between an air compressor upfront and a battery compartment in the rear is supported by air caster skis at the bottom.
  • The skis float on a thin layer of air provided under high pressure, eliminating rolling resistance and allowing for movement of the pods at high speeds. These capsules are expected to be driverless with estimated speeds of 1,000 km/h.
  • Linear induction motors that are placed along the tube, control the speed of the pod. Electronically-assisted acceleration and braking determines the speed of the capsule.
  • During the pod’s journey, an inlet fan and compressor push high pressure air from the nose to tail. This action and the partial vacuum which eliminates most of the drag, boosts the speed.

Why is it important?

  • Developments in traditional high speed railway technology have not made much progress in recent years.
  • From steam to diesel to electric, locomotives have come up against the physical constraints of weight and drag.
  • Frictional losses too come into play when a vehicle relies on wheels. As speeds accelerate, mechanical wear and tear leads to high maintenance costs.
  • Maglev (magnetic levitation), which was expected to provide a solution has not gained traction. High-power consumption, accidents and technical challenges have hampered its progress.
  • Low power consumption and reliance on existing infrastructure after re-engineering, are big positives.

Pros

  • Fast, efficient and cheap to operate
  • Average speeds of around 970 km/h, with a top speed of 1,200 km/h
  • Uses Solar Energy for power
  • Open-sourced, encouraging others to take the ideas and further develop them.
  • Hyperloops tubes are protected from the weather, birds, objects on railroad tracks.
  • In the event of equipment or electrical failure, the system comes to a stop.
  • Automation reduces the risk of human error
  • Promotes economic growth around the Hyperloop route
  • Reduced freight costs and times

Cons

  • High cost of development and construction
  • Susceptible to disruption from earthquakes or terror attacks
  • No sharp curves or abrupt height changes in the route
  • Potential for rapid decompression of the tube or passenger space
  • Vibration and jostling caused by high speeds
  • People will not be able to move freely during travel
  • Unproven system
  • Land acquisition troubles, tough safety standards and customs regime often affect adversely in infrastructure projects in the India.

Key Facts:

  • US-based research company Hyperloop Transportation Technology announced plans to connect Vijayawada and Amaravati in the southeastern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

IMMUVAC and VPM1002

  • Recently, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) launched India’s first large-scale trial for two new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines named IMMUVAC and VPM1002.

TB-660-1

  • These vaccines aim to prevent infection (pre-exposure) or prevent primary progression or reactivation of latent TB infection (post-exposure), all of which have critical role to play in India’s big fight against TB. 
  • Immuvac is manufactured by Cadila Pharmaceuticals and VPM 1002 is manufactured by Institute of India, Pune.

 

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