veer-maharana-pratap-yudh-1
Current Affair Analysis

8th June 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap; NITI Aayog; Food Corporation of India (FCI); Shanta Kumar Committee; The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010; Registration of Political parties; Recognition as a National Party; State Party; Inter-Creditor Agreement; NASA’s InSight lander; Elephanta Festival of art and culture; Location of Gulf of Aden; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 10, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Conrad Sangma-led NPP given national party status by Election Commission
  • Prime Minister approves reconstitution of NITI Aayog

Government Schemes & Policies

  • NGOs warned of penal action if they don’t inform Home Ministry of changes in office-bearers

Economy

  • RBI issues revised norms to deal with stressed assets
  • Future roadmap for FCI laid down by Ministry of Consumer Affairs

Indian History

  • Birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap

Art & Culture

  • Elephanta Festival of art and culture

Science & Technology

  • NASA scientists tries to dig deeper on Mars using InSight lander

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Location of Gulf of Aden

                                  For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Conrad Sangma-led NPP given national party status by Election Commission

Conrad-Sangma-led-NPPThe Conrad Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP), in Meghalaya, became the first political party from the North East to get national party status.

  • It is already recognised as a state party in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.

Registration of Political parties:

500933-300x380

  • Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • A party seeking registration has to submit an application to the Election Commission of India within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation as per Article 324 and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • As per existing guidelines, the applicant association is asked to publish proposed Name of the party in two national daily newspapers and two local daily newspapers, on two days in same news papers, for inviting objections, if any, with regard to the proposed registration of the party before the Commission within a 30 days from such publication.

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968:

The-Election-Symbols

  • A registered political party is accorded the status of a recognized state or national party as per the criteria listed in ‘The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968’. This order was amended from time to time.

Recognition as a National Party:

lok-sabha-elections-2019-first-phase-polling_7e71d366-5c66-11e9-93dc-bd285d0e4b85

  • For any political party to be eligible for recognition as a National Party, it has to satisfy any of the three conditions listed below:
  • Secure at least 6% of the valid vote in an Assembly or a Lok Sabha General Election in any four or more states and won at least 4 seats in a Lok Sabha General Election from any State or States.
  • Win at least 2% of the total Lok Sabha seats (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members) in a Lok Sabha General Election and these seats have to be won from at least 3 states.
  • The party is recognized as a State Party in at least four states.

Recognition as a State Party:

For any political party to be eligible for recognition as a State Party in a state, it has to satisfy any of the five conditions listed below:

  • Secure at least 6% of the valid vote & win at least 2 seats in an Assembly General Election.
  • Secure at least 6% of the valid vote & win at least 1 seats in a Lok Sabha General Election.
  • Win at least 3% of the seats or at least 3 seats, whichever is more, in an Assembly General Election.
  • Win at least 1 out of every 25 seats from a state in a Lok Sabha General Election.
  • Secure at least 8% of the total valid vote in an Assembly or a Lok Sabha General Election.

Benefits of ‘National Party’ & ‘State Party’ recognition:

  • If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India.
  • Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost at the time of revision of rolls and their candidates get one copy of electoral roll free of cost during General Elections.
  • They also get broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.
  • Political parties are entitled to nominate “Star Campaigners” during General Elections. A recognized National or State party can have a maximum of 40 “Star campaigners” and a registered un-recognised party can nominate a maximum of 20 ‘Star Campaigners”.
  • The travel expenses of star campaigners are not to be accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates of their party.
[Ref: The Hindu, Scroll]

 

Prime Minister approves reconstitution of NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog 7

  • Prime Minister approved reconstitution of NITI Aayog including appointment of Home Minister as ex-officio member.

Members of the re-constituted National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog:

NITI Aayog 3

  • Chairperson: Prime Minister
  • Vice-Chairperson: Dr Rajiv Kumar

Ex-officio Members of NITI Aayog:

Home Ministry warns NGOs 5

  • Minister of Defence
  • Minister of Home Affairs
  • Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs
  • Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Minister of Rural Development; Minister of Panchayati Raj.

Special Invitees:

  • Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
  • Minister of Railways; and Minister of Commerce and Industry
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Planning

NITI Aayog:

NITI Aayog 1

  • The National Institution for Transforming India, also called NITI Aayog, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet in 2015.
  • It is an advisory body that seeks to provide critical directional across spectrum of key elements of policy to the centre as well as states. In other words, It’s a think tank to the government which has no power to implement the government policies.
  • The Government of India constituted the NITI Aayog to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950.
  • At the core of NITI Aayog’s creation are two hubs – Team India Hub and the Knowledge and Innovation Hub. The Team India Hub leads the engagement of states with the Central government, while the Knowledge and Innovation Hub builds NITI’s think-tank capabilities.
  • In 2018, NITI Aayog measured India and its States’ progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 and developed the first SDG India Index – Baseline Report 2018.
  • It ranks states across various social sectors, based on 49 key performance indicators (KPIs), under ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme. It will soon come out with school education quality index (SEQI) and the digital transformation index (DTI) to highlight the best practices of states.

NITI Aayog has three key Task force:

  1. Task force on Agricultural development
  2. Task force on Agricultural Insurance
  3. Task force on Elimination of Poverty in India

Composition:

 

NITI-Aayog-4

  • The NITI Aayog comprises the following:
  • The Prime Minister as the Chairperson
  • A Governing Council composed of Chief Ministers of all the States and Union territories with Legislatures and lieutenant governors of Union Territories (except Delhi and Pondicherry)
  • Regional Councils composed of Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region.
  • Full-time organizational framework composed of a Vice-Chairperson, five full-time members, two part-time members (from leading universities, research organizations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity, four ex-officio members of the Union Council of Ministers, a Chief Executive Officer (with the rank of Secretary to the Government of India) who looks after administration, and a secretariat.
  • Experts and specialists in various fields.

Key Initiatives:

  • 15-year road map and 7-year vision, strategy and action plan
  • AMRUT
  • Digital India
  • Atal Innovation Mission
  • Samavesh : It links together various lead Knowledge and Research Institutions to catalyse development processes and enhance institutional capacity development .
  • The India Energy Security Scenarios (IESS), 2047: It aims to explore a range of potential future energy scenarios for India, for diverse energy demand and supply sectors, leading up to 2047.

Functions:

  • To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities sectors with the active involvement of States
  • To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government
  • To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy
  • To pay special attention to the sections of society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress
  • To provide advice between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  • To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter­ departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  • To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre
  • To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes

Criticism:

  • Like planning commission, it’s also a non-constitutional body which is not responsible to parliament.
  • Dismantled planning commission without consulting the states.
  • UTs are represented by Lieutenant Governors, not by chief ministers. This is against the principles of federalism.
  • Fund allocation to welfare schemes may get affected.

Key Facts:

  • National Institute of Labour Economics Research and Development (Formerly Institute of Applied Manpower Research), is an autonomous institute under NITI Aayog.
  • The NGO-Partnership System (NGO-PS) Portal (NGO-DARPAN) is being maintained under the aegis of NITI Aayog. This portal enables VOs/NGOs to enrol centrally and thus facilitates creation of a repository of information about VOs/NGOs, Sector/State wise.
[Ref: India Today, Business Today]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

NGOs warned of penal action if they don’t inform Home Ministry of changes in office-bearers

Home Ministry warns NGOs 4

  • The Home Ministry has warned NGOs, who have changed their office-bearers and key functionaries without informing the Ministry, with penal action, if they fail to do so within a month.

Order by Home Ministry to NGOs:

Home Ministry warns NGOs

  • All NGOs and associations registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, which makes them eligible to receive foreign funds and donations, have to submit online application for addition, deletion and change of details about office-bearers and key functionaries within one month.

Need:

  • The Ministry noticed that some associations/persons, having been registered under the Act, have changed their office-bearers without approval from the MHA and without updating this data on a real time basis through the online application meant for change of these details.

Background event:

  • In April 2019, the Union Home Ministry had cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India under the FCRA Act, alleging that the organisation’s activities had hampered the country’s economic growth.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010:

Home Ministry warns NGOs 2

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in India.
  • The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest.
  • It is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities (whether incorporated or not) as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies and other entities formed or registered in India.
  • It defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use (not exceeding the value of INR 25,000) and securities received from foreign source.
  • The Act follows the principles of natural justice and requires the Authority to provide the person concerned reasonable opportunity of being heard prior to passing any order.
  • The registration certificate under FRCA is valid for a period of five years. However, NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding.
  • Every NGO registered or having prior approval under the Act must file an annual report with the Authority.
  • Within 90 days from the date of receipt of the application for registration, the Authority is required to give its decision.
  • It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In order to achieve its objective, The Act:

  • Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by a certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, etc.
  • Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.

Criteria to be registered under FRCA for NGOs:

  • An NGO must be in existence for at least three years.
  • It must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised.
  • It must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.
  • The applicant NGO must be a bonafide entity.
  • Acceptance of foreign contribution by the applicant must not prejudicially impact the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • The applicant NGO must not have been found guilty of diversion or mis-utilisation of its funds.

In which situation foreign fund can be accepted?

  • The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.

Restriction on use of foreign funding:

The Act imposes various conditions on the use of foreign funds and some of them are as follows:

  • All funds received by a NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received.
  • Such funds must not use in speculative activities identified under the Act.
  • Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act or having prior approval under the Act.
  • Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.
  • For financial years where no foreign contribution is received, a ‘NIL’ report must be furnished with the Authority.

Cancellation of registration certificate:

Under the Act, the Authority is empowered to cancel the registration certificate of a NGO in the following circumstances:

  • It has made false statement in any of its applications or submissions under the Act.
  • It has violated any of the terms and conditions of registration.
  • Authority is of the view that cancellation of registration is necessary in the public interest.
  • It has violated any of the provisions of the Act or any order passed under it.
  • It has been inactive for two consecutive years in its chosen field of service.
  • In case of cancellation of its registration, the NGO concerned would be ineligible for a period of three years to apply.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Today]

 

Economy

RBI issues revised norms to deal with stressed assets

RBI issues revised norms to deal with stressed assets 1

  • The RBI issued revised norms on ‘prudential framework for resolution of stressed assets’ giving lenders leeway to review a borrower account within 30 days of default.

Three major changes made by RBI :

RBI

  • The RBI has made it voluntary for lenders to take defaulters to the bankruptcy court.
  • The framework now applies to a larger universe of lenders, which includes small banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs).
  • Penal provisions have been introduced for lenders.

In detail:

  • The new framework gives a 30-day grace period to the lenders (scheduled commercial banks, all-India financial institutions and small finance banks) and the borrower to resolve default while the earlier circular mandated identifying defaults as bad loans on day 1 itself.
  • During this review period, lenders may decide on the resolution strategy, including the nature of the Resolution Professional (RP) and the approach for its implementation. Lenders may also choose to initiate legal proceedings for insolvency or recovery.
  • In cases where the RP is to be implemented, all lenders have to enter into an inter-creditor agreement (ICA) for the resolution of stressed assets during the review period to provide for ground rules for finalisation and implementation of the RP in respect of borrowers with credit facilities from more than one lender.
  • Under the ICA, any decision agreed by the lenders representing 75 per cent of total outstanding credit facilities by value and 60 per cent by number will be binding upon all the lenders. In particular, the RPs will provide for payment which will not be less than the liquidation value due to the dissenting lenders.
  • In cases where the aggregate exposure of a borrower to lenders ₹2,000 crore and above, the RP has to be implemented within 180 days from the end of the review period. While the review period for defaulters of ₹2,000 crore and above will start immediately, the review period for defaulters between ₹1,500 crore and less than ₹2,000 crore will start only from January 2020.

Additional Provisions:

  • If the implementation of an RP crosses the stipulated 180 days from the end of the review period, the lenders have to make additional provisions of 20 per cent of the outstanding loan. If this timeline exceeds 365 days, they further have to make a provision of 15 per cent.

Applicability of provisions:

  • Scheduled Commercial Banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks)
  • All India Term Financial Institutions (NABARD, NHB, EXIM Bank, and SIDBI)
  • Small Finance Banks
  • Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC-ND-SI) and Deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC-D)

Inter-Creditor Agreement:

RBI issues revised norms to deal with stressed assets 3

  • An Intercreditor Agreement (or inter-creditor deed) is a contract between two more creditors. Such an agreement comes into effect when the borrower has two (or more) lenders.
  • It is part of the “Sashakt” plan approved by the government to address the problem of resolving bad loans.
  • The agreement is based on a recommendation by the Sunil Mehta committee that looked into resolution of stressed assets.
  • The lenders sign a contract among themselves stipulating all the needed points.
  • The contract includes details like dispute resolution, various lien positions, responsibilities of the creditors, liabilities of each creditor, impact on the other creditors, etc.
  • In 2018, Two dozen lenders including State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank signed an inter-creditor agreement (ICA) to speed up the resolution process of stressed assets in the range of Rs. 500 million to Rs. 5 billion under consortium lending.

Usually, there are two creditors in an inter-creditor agreement – one senior and the other subordinate or junior lender.

Need:

  • Lenders have to establish the right to the loan and the security in case of the borrower has more than one lender for the same loan and security.
  • In the majority of the cases, the lenders are ok with an acknowledgment that each of them is entitled to a specific claim on the assets of the borrower.

Importance:

  • Such an agreement plays a vital role in the right to lien. Thus, the agreement is important to all the lenders as it lays the foundation for the rights and priorities in case the borrower is unable to pay properly or defaults.

Includes:

  • Limits the payment of the borrower to junior lenders
  • Standstill agreement in which the junior lender is restricted from taking any action against the borrower to enforce its debt.
  • Restrictions on the repayment to the junior lender until senior lender is paid.
  • Provision for the buy-out rights
  • In certain cases, the borrower is the party to the agreement

Issues:

  • Improper understanding of the terms by the junior lender.
  • Intentional delay by the senior lender can cause disputes between junior and senior lender.
  • Terms are normally finalized by the senior lender. Hence junior lender may raise some issues.
  • Negotiations may lead to cancellation of agreement.
[Ref: The Hindu Business Line]

 

Future roadmap for FCI laid down by Ministry of Consumer Affairs

Shanta Kumar Committee

  • Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution lays down the future roadmap for Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Blueprint of future FCI:

  • To create 100 lakh ton silo storage capacity in the country
  • Procurement of wheat and rice will continue as before so that the farmers continue to get the benefit of MSP being set by the government.
  • direct recruitment process of FCI is being made more transparent through online examination which is being done in two phases
  • Current framework of 3 types of labourers in FCI namely Departmental, Daily Payment System (DPS) and No work no pay workers along with contractual labour could be abolished by forming a single, uniform system which will bring stability of tenure and secured wages for all.
  • To improve the usage of Information Technology in FCI, a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) will be implemented.

Food Corporation of India (FCI):

FCI-logo-1

  • FCI was set up in 1965 (under the Food Corporation Act, 1964) against the backdrop of major shortage of grains, especially wheat, in the country.
  • The Central government extends price support for procurement of wheat, paddy and coarse grains through the FCI and state agencies. All the foodgrains conforming to specifications are bought by the public procurement agencies at the minimum support price, plus incentive bonus announced, if any.
  • FCI feeds the public distribution system so the Centre fulfils its objective of helping the poor. The National Food Security Act aims to cover 67 pc of population. So far, 11 states and UTs have implemented NFSA: Haryana, Delhi, HP, Rajasthan, Punjab, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Bihar and MP.

Objectives of FCI:

  • To provide farmers remunerative prices
  • To make food grains available at reasonable prices, particularly to vulnerable section of the society
  • To maintain buffer stocks as measure of Food Security
  • To intervene in market for price stabilization

Shanta Kumar Committee:

Shanta Kumar Committee 1

  • Shanta Kumar committee was constituted for the restructuring of Food Corporation of India (FCI).
  • It was set up in 2014 and submitted its report in 2015.

Objectives of Shanta Kumar Committee:

  • To improve FCI’s operational efficiency and financial management.
  • To suggest measures for overall improvement in management of food grains by FCI
  • To suggest reorienting the role and functions of FCI in MSP operations, storage and distribution of food grains and food security systems of the country
  • To suggest cost effective models for storage and movement of grains and integration of supply chain of foodgrains in the country

Recommendations of Shanta Kumar committee:

BJP

  • Reducing the number of beneficiaries under the Food Security Act—from the current 67 per cent to 40 per cent.
  • Allowing private players to procure and store food grains, stopping bonuses on minimum support price (MSP) paid by states to farmers, and adopting cash transfer system so that MSP and food subsidy amounts can be directly transferred to the accounts of farmers and food security beneficiaries.
  • FCI should involve itself in full-fledged grains procurement only in those states which are poor in procurement.
  • Recommended measures to ease entry of private players in the business of procurement of grains by putting an end to the practice of states giving bonuses on crop MSP to farmers, and restricting taxes and statutory levies on food grains at uniform to 3 per cent of MSP.
  • The committee has also recommended abolishing levy rice. Under levy rice policy, government buys certain percentage of rice (varies from 25 to 75 per cent in states) from the mills compulsorily, which is called levy rice.
  • Greater investments in agriculture in stabilizing production and building efficient value chains to help the poor as well as farmers.
  • Targeted beneficiaries under National Food Security Act (NFSA) or Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) are given 6 months’ ration immediately after the procurement season ends.
  • Full deregulation of fertiliser sector and calls for providing cash fertiliser subsidy of Rs 7,000 per hectare to farmers.
  • Outsourcing of stocking of grains by setting up of negotiable warehouse receipt (NWR) system. In the new system, farmers can deposit their produce in these registered warehouses and get 80 per cent of the advance from bank against their produce on the basis of MSP.
  • Recommended revising minimum support price (MSP) policy in the backdrop of skewed MSP policy, which concentrates only on wheat and rice.
  • Clear and transparent liquidation policy for buffer stock by giving greater flexibility in doing business to FCI and offloading surplus stock in open market or export as per need.
  • It recommends a relook at coverage of 67 percent of population under the existing Food Security Act.
  • It recommends restricting food security benefit to 40 per cent of the population. It also seeks to link subsidised price of cereals to MSP price. The amount of grains entitlement per person should be increased to 7 kg from existing 5 kg under National Food Security Act.
  • Gradual introduction of cash transfers in the public distribution system.
  • Total end to end computerization of the entire food management system.
  • Condition of contract labour should be improved by giving them better facilities.

Criticism:

  • The report fails to mention why private traders — who it says were crowded out in wheat and rice segments due to the presence of government procurement agencies — did not operate in the commodities shunned by FCI.
  • It has ignored an important aspect of large scale hunger and malnutrition in India.
  • In the matter of Negotiable Warehouse Receipt System (NWRS), the report omits the role of Banks. Given the high percentage of defaults in the farm sector, it remains to be seen if banks will do as the Committee expects them to.
  • The report does not try to find out whether farmers have the financial resilience to bear the shock of price volatility if private traders takes the most share of procurement.
  • In terms of supply chains, At least half of the modern warehousing suggested by committee has already exist in India. The committee should have suggested their integration with setting up of cold storage chains.
[Ref: PIB, Downtoearth]

 

Indian History

Birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap

Every year on 6 June, birth anniversary of brave Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap Jayanti is observed.

maharana-pratapAbout Maharana Pratap:

  • Maharana Pratap was the eldest son of Maharana Udai Singh and Maharani Jaiwanta Bai.
  • Maharana Pratap was the only Rajput king who refused to surrender to the Mughal Emperor Akbar.
  • Maharana Pratap, the ruler of Mewar in modern day Rajasthan, is known for his bravery and courage and there are people who still worship. 
  • The Rajput king is mainly popular for his brace battle against the Mughals in the Battle of Haldighati.
  • The famous Battle of Haldighati was fought between Maharana Pratap and Akbar’s forces led by Man Singh Iof Amer on 18 June 1576. When he lost the Battle of Haldighati, he refused to surrender and fled from the scene wounded.
  • Maharana Pratap spent most of his life in the city of Chavand and rebuilt his capital there.
  • The Pong Dam, also known as the Beas Dam on the Beas River in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India was named in the honour of Maharana Pratap and it also known as Maharana Pratap Sagar.

 

 Art & Culture

Elephanta Festival of art and culture

event_1520940861m1

  • The Elephanta Festival of art and culture commenced at the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • The Elephanta Festival of art and culture was started in 2012 and since then is held every year to promote tourism and culture of Mumbai.
  • It is promoted by Maharashtra government.
  • It is held on Gharapuri island (also known as Elephanta Island) where Elephanta Caves are located.
  • The annual gala event is organised on Elephanta Island byMaharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

Elephanta Caves:

download

  • Elephanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a collection of cave temples predominantly dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
  • They are located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri in Mumbai Harbour, to the east of the city of Mumbai in Maharashtra.
  • It contains rock cut stone sculptures that show syncretism of Hindu and Buddhist ideas and iconography.
  • It is cut from solid basaltic rock, narrating the Hindu mythology of Trimurti Sadashiva, Nataraja and Yogishvara.

 

Science & Technology

NASA scientists tries to dig deeper on Mars using InSight lander

  • NASA’s InSight lander which has already delivered some very interesting observations since arriving on Mars, can’t seem to get one of its most important tools to work as planned.

NASAWhat is the problem?

  • The instrument, called a mole, a short name for the lander’s Heat Probe, was designed to hammer itself deep under the Mars surface and monitor temperature changes.
  • The Heat Probe (HP3) or Heat and Physical Properties Package is designed dig as far as 5 meters (16.4 ft.) into the soil, where it will measure the heat flowing from the interior of the Mars.
  • However, the consistency of the soil has made difficult to dig more even than a foot.

What is the proposed solution?

  • One possible solution involves using InSight’s robotic arm to push on the soil surrounding the probe. This could give the mole enough friction to hammer itself deeper underground.

InSight Lander:

NASA’s InSight spacecraft 3

  • InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), launched in 2018, is a Mars lander of NASA’s Discovery Program mission.
  • The InSight mission seeks to find how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet by investigating the interior structure and composition of Mars.
  • It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.
  • It’s equipped with three tools for studying the mars – A seismometer for measuring sound waves travelling through the ground, A heat probe that measures how heat flows beneath Mars’ surface and a Radio antennae to measure the changing location of the planet’s North Pole to indirectly study its core.

Scientific Objectives:

  • To understand how rocky planets formed and evolved, InSight will study the interior structure and processes of Mars by determining properties of core, crust and mantle as well as measuring the warmness of the interior and calculating how much heat is still flowing through.
  • To measure internal seismic activity and how often meteorites impact it.

Why the Mars was chosen?

  • In comparison to the other terrestrial planets, Mars is neither too big nor too small. This means that it preserves the record of its formation and can give scientist insight into how the terrestrial planets could have been formed.
[Ref: India Today, NASA]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Location of Gulf of Aden

Location-of-Gulf-of-Aden

  • The Gulf of Aden, formerly known as the Gulf of Berbera, is a deepwater gulf amidst Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea and Guardafui Channel to the east, Somalia to the south, and Djibouti to the west.
  • In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, and in the southeast, it connects with the Indian Ocean through the Guardafui Channel.
  • To the west, it narrows into the Gulf of Tadjoura, in the Horn of Africa.
  • The Gulf of Aden separates the Arabian Peninsula with the Horn of Africa.
  • The Gulf of Aden is integral to the petroleum industry due to the delivery of Persian Gulf oil. The waterway is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean.

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Indian Navy deployed its P8I surveillance planes for carrying out anti-piracy patrol sorties from Salalah (in Oman) to patrol the Gulf of Adenand other piracy prone areas.

 

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