Goal to make India a 5-trillion-dollar economy by 2024
GS PAPER - 03 ECONOMY - Growth , development and employment
The PM of India urged all states to work together to tackle socio-economic problems, and make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024, is "challenging, but achievable" with the concerted efforts of states said at the fifth meeting of NITI Aayog's Governing Council.
More about the news:
PM has set out the short and medium term priorities for Union and state governments.
These include alleviating poverty, creating jobs, doubling farmers' income, tackling instances of drought and flood, boosting exports, resolving a water crisis the country is facing and realising the full potential of regional economies.
The focus should be on collective responsibility for achieving short term and long term goals.
Modi urged states to recognise their core competence and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level
Export is an important element in the progress of developing countries and therefore both the Union and state governments should work towards growth in exports to raise per capita income.
Tackle Water crisis :
Modi called for effective steps to tackle drought and piped water available to every rural home by 2024.
Urged states to work on water conservation and raising the water table.
Niti Aayog and the water resources ministry had warned last year that India was facing the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods were under threat.
Doubling farmers income :
Fisheries, animal husbandry, horticulture and cultivation of fruits and vegetables need to be focused to realise the government's commitment to doubling farmers' income by 2022.
There is need for structural reform in agriculture for higher corporate investment, better logistics and ample market support for farmers.
Source :- The Hindu
As smoke billows from city fields, govt. misses the fire
GS PAPER - 02 GOVERNANCE - Issues related to the Health.
Stubble burning, which can lead to heart attacks and respiratory diseases, is practised in many areas of Delhi.
Health Issues :
Stubble burning can lead to heart attacks, worsen bronchial asthma and other respiratory diseases.
It leads to increased particulate matter in the air, mainly PM 2.5, whose impact can be felt over a large area.
Stubble Burning :
Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers in the neighboring states Haryana ,Punjab , Delhi and NCR to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.
Causes behind Stubble burning :
Paucity of time forces farmers to burn residue to clear the farms early for preparing them for sowing of wheat in the Rabi season.
Farmers in this region have a traditional belief that burning crop residue will restore nutrients back to the soil.
Mechanization and employment guarantee schemes like MGNREGA have led to shortage of farm labourers to carry on seasonal migration from UP and Bihar to Punjab and Haryana, as was prevalent earlier. It has become more economical for farmers to burn stubble on field than getting it transported for other uses.
Availability, affordability and awareness regarding crop residue management machines like ‘Happy seeder’ and ‘Super SMS attachment’ is inadequate.
Way forward :
The government should buy it (stubble) from the farmers and use it to make organic fertiliser, packing material or as fodder in cattle centres they are running, else, the government should provide machines on a rental basis to the farmers.
Source :- The Hindu
Eastern Himalayas, a treasure trove of Balsams, yields 20 new species
GS PAPER - 03 ENVIRONMENT - Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
About 230 species of Balsams are found in India, a majority of them in the eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats - have been highlighted in the book , recently published by the Botanical Survey of India.
Key Findings :
Between 2010 and 2019, botanists and taxonomists working on Impatiens — a group of plants commonly known as Balsams or jewel-weeds — discovered 23 new species from the eastern Himalayas.
Consisting of both annual and perennial herbs, balsams are succulent plants with high endemism. Because of their bright beautiful flowers, these group of plants are of prized horticultural significance.
The book presents 83 species, one variety, one naturalised species and two cultivated species of Balsams.
Of the 83 species described, 45 are from Arunachal Pradesh, 24 from Sikkim and 16 species common to both states.
They are mostly found in stream margins, moist roadsides, near waterfalls and wet forests.
These species need proper conservation initiatives as they are highly vulnerable, especially to climate change.
Source :- The Hindu
Novel selenium-graphene catalyst for fuel cells
GS PAPER - 03 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
A multi-institutional team from India has developed selenium-graphene–based catalyst which is more efficient, costs less and also remains stable for longer than the usual platinum based catalysts.
Issues with present fuel cells :
Normally, fuel cells use expensive platinum-like elements. These expensive metal-based technologies perform excellently for initial few cycles, but then get degraded in performance due to many reasons. As a result, there is a need to change this part of the fuel cell routinely.
Selenium - Graphene Catalyst for fuel cell :
Graphene by itself is a “poor” catalyst of this reaction. In the sense that it involves reduction of oxygen in two steps, each of which consume two electrons. This is not very useful either for fuel cells or metal-air batteries.
Platinum is often used to catalyse this reaction. As a substitute, the group developed the catalyst with selenium and graphene.
Graphene modified with selenium atoms in very low amounts can perform like platinum in a demonstrated reaction.
while neither selenium nor graphene can do the trick by themselves, the combination works efficiently.
Methanol fuel cells, a common form of fuel cell used, suffer from a “poisoning” effect.
This is a part of the process where the methanol reaches the negative electrode and coats it, so that the electrode becomes ineffective after some cycles.
This is especially problematic when expensive catalysts like platinum are used, as they often are. The scientists found that the catalyst they have developed has a high tolerance [to poisoning] while platinum got affected.
The concept of single-atom catalyst – that category into which this catalyst falls – is not new. But earlier concepts had used heavy metals such as platinum, palladium and gold. Using selenium is a novel idea mooted by this group.
Such direct water converting oxygen reduction reaction catalyst has enormous applications in other fields too, such as metal-air battery.
It is ongoing research for the development of high energy density devices in batteries. This will be far better than the existing lithium ion-based battery.
Source :- The Hindu
Rare supernova explosion 'gifted' Earth with gold, platinum: Study
GS PAPER - 03 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - Awareness in the fields of Space.
The research from the University of Guelph in Canada and Columbia University in the US overturns our understanding of how heavy elements appeared on our planet.
An overlooked star explosion far away in space may have given the Earth the gift of precious heavy elements such as gold and platinum, a study claims.
Key Findings of the Study :
According to the research published in the journal Nature, some 80 per cent of the heavy elements in the universe likely formed in collapsars.
Collapsars are a rare but heavy element-rich form of supernova explosion from the gravitational collapse of old, massive stars typically 30 times as weighty as our Sun.
Most of the elements found in nature were created in nuclear reactions in stars and ultimately expelled in huge stellar explosions.
Heavy elements found on Earth and elsewhere in the universe from long-ago explosions range from gold and platinum, to uranium and plutonium used in nuclear reactors, to more exotic chemical elements such as neodymium found in consumer items such as electronics.
Until now, scientists thought that these elements were cooked up mostly in stellar smashups involving neutron stars or black holes, as in a collision of two neutron stars observed by Earth-bound detectors that made headlines in 2017.
Source :- Business standard
Rings around Saturn
GS PAPER - 03 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - Awareness in the fields of Space
New analysis of data from the Cassini mission shows that Saturn’s rings are not smooth, but rather are grainy in texture.
Scientists believe that tiny moons within the rings cause materials to cluster and form clumps and straw-like patterns, revealing rings which are more complex and dynamic than we realized.
New Findings :
Scientists recently discovered that Saturn’s moons were influenced by its rings, as the rings deposited material onto the moons and changed their shape.
Now it seems that the process works the other way round as well, with the moons interacting with the particles in the rings to cause these variations in texture.
Formation of Saturn's rings and about the formation of planets in general:
The scientists found a set of streaks around the outer edge of the rings which are all the same length and orientation, which suggests they were formed by material hitting the rings at the same time.
This implies that the rings are formed from material which is already in orbit around the planet, rather than being formed from external material like comets crashing into the rings.
NASA’sCassini Mission :
Launched in 1997, the Cassini mission — a cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency — has sent back thousands of stunning images and made numerous discoveries about the ringed planet and its moons.
The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn.
Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.
Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan. The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005.
Objective of the mission :
Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the rings of Saturn.
Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object.
Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus’s leading hemisphere.
Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere.
Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn’s atmosphere at cloud level.
Study the time variability of Titan’s clouds and hazes.
Characterize Titan’s surface on a regional scale.
Source :- The Hindu
India set to join heavyweight torpedo club
GS PAPER - 03 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
In a bid to boost its underwater firepower, the Indian Navy has decided to induct the indigenous developed heavyweight torpedo Varunastra into in its arsenal.
The weapon developed by the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam will put India in a group of eight countries that have the capability to manufacture heavyweight torpedoes.
The heavyweight torpedo, or Varunastra, is a ship-launched, electrically-propelled underwater weapon equipped with one of the most advanced automatic and remote-controlled guidance systems.
The weapon system uses its own intelligence in tracing the target
The 1,500-kg Varunastra can carry a warhead weighing 250 kg and has an operational range of 40 km.
The anti-submarine electric torpedo is seven to eight metres long with a diameter of 533 mm.
Capable of hitting stealth submarines underwater
According to the DRDO, the submarine, which can travel at a speed of 40 knots (74 kmph), can be launched both from ships and submarines.
Source :- The Times Of India
Researchers produce kerosene from sunlight, CO2 and water
GS PAPER - 03 ECONOMY - Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
In a first, German researchers have used sunlight, carbon dioxide (CO2) and water to make kerosene, which has the potential to revolutionise the energy sector.
The technology is part of the European Union’s sun-to-liquids project, which began in January 2016 with the aim to decarbonise transport sector.
Who does it works?
The newly developed a novel technology that uses concentrated solar energy to synthesise liquid hydrocarbon fuel from water and CO2. For this product, CO2 and water are taken directly from the air and split using solar energy.
The process yields synthesis gas or syngas — a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
It is subsequently processed and converted into kerosene, methanol or other hydrocarbons.
The newly developed novel technology have large effects on the transport sector, especially for aviation and shipping, that will remain dependent on liquid fuels for long distances.
If compared with fossil fuels, the sun-to-liquid cuts CO2 emissions by more than 90 per cent.
Source :- Down to Earth
New space telescope to create a 3D X-ray map of Universe
GS PAPER - 03 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - developing new technology.
A team of German-Russian scientists is all set to launch a space telescope, which will create a three-dimensional (3D) X-ray map of the universe and unveil unknown supermassive black holes, dark energy and stars.
Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (SRG) :
It will create a three-dimensional (3D) X-ray map of the universe and unveil unknown supermassive black holes, dark energy and stars.
Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (SRG), will be launched into space on a Russian-built Proton-M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 21, 2019.
The four-year mission will survey the entire sky eight times and track the evolution of the universe and dark energy
Aims to detect up to three million supermassive black holes — many of which are unknown — and X-rays from as many as 700,000 stars in the Milky Way.
The telescope is the first to be sensitive to high-energy ‘hard’ X-rays and map the entire sky
The SRG will also find how dark matter — the main engine of galaxy formation — is spread in the universe.
The SRG will, however, not detect gamma radiation.
SRG will carry two independent X-ray telescopes:
A German-built eROSITA (Extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array)
A Russian-built ART-XC (Astronomical Roentgen Telescope — X-ray Concentrator)
X-ray sky surveys have also been conducted by previous missions, but they were not able to map the entire sky.
Germany's ROSAT mission in the 1990s was sensitive only to ‘soft’ X-rays, with energies of about 2 keV.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR, can see high-energy radiation and resolve tiny details of cosmic structures. But, they see only small parts of the sky.
SRG was first proposed in 1987, by Russian astrophysicists, but the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the cancellation of the plan. It was again revived in 2004, but a proposal to send an X-ray telescope to the International Space Station was scrapped when NASA ended its space-shuttle programme in 2011.
The joint mission was approved by the German space agency and Roscosmos later in 2009.