9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 11th, 2021

Dear Friends,
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 3

Trading Orangutans for palm oil

Source: This post is based on the article “Trading Orangutans for palm oil” published in Business Standard on 10th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country,

Relevance: Implementing Oil palm mission is not optimal for India

Synopsis: Instead of implementing Oil Palm mission, the government can look to set up sanctuary for endangered animal species.

Introduction

One of the problematic items in economic and environmental terms in the Indian food basket is edible oil. India imports 60 per cent of its cooking oils, and more than half those imports are of palm oil, sourced from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Must Read: Palm oil and environmental and social challenges in India 

The import bill for edible oil comes to around Rs 80,000 crore. In the interest of atmanirbharata and cutting down forex outflows, the government has set up a Rs 11,000-crore mission to incentivize palm oil production.

Previous articles on Palm oil

What are some advantages & applications of oil palm?

It is an evergreen plant with a very high-yield.

The oil doesn’t spoil at room temperature. It doesn’t have a strong smell, and it’s colourless. Hence, it’s versatile and used in pizzas, chocolate and doughnuts apart from being a staple of many Asian cuisines.

It’s also used as a base in deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick and as a biofuel. Replacing it with alternatives would take much more land.

What is a possible alternative instead of implementing the oil palm mission?

Set up orangutan, pygmy elephant and Java rhino sanctuaries in the target areas instead. Those habitats are suitable. The Andamans are practically part of Indonesia in geographical terms, with similar climates and forestation. So are those parts of the Northeast where palm oil can be cultivated.

Importing the animals, and generating suitable vegetation for their consumption, may take a little time. But there would be positive payoffs.

One is high-end tourism. Orangutan safaris could generate forex. Global investor community will see India in a positive light for implementing such a scheme.

It may sound crazy and ambitious but an orangutan mission may be a better option than a palm oil mission.


Climate change impacts food and nutritional security — Earth needs regenerative farming

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate change impacts food and nutritional security — Earth needs regenerative farming” published in TOI on 11th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Dealing with impact of climate change on food and nutritional security

Synopsis: Climate change is a major threat to food production globally and vital steps need to be taken to mitigate it.

Does climate change impact food production and nutrition?

Yes. It has very significant impacts on these. Findings of the 2019 IPCC panel on climate change’s special report on land showed how climate change was already impacting multiple dimensions of the food system.

i). Climate change impacts the biophysical conditions in which crops grow. Some crops are less heat resistant — as the atmosphere grows warmer, these become less productive. We’re already seeing declines in the productivity of staples like wheat.

ii). There are also significant nutritional impacts — as more carbon dioxide gathers in the atmosphere, crops have less nutrition, less vitamins and minerals in them.

iii). Food distribution is impacted — increasing wildfires and floods, as we’ve seen in multiple countries recently, disrupt the distribution systems transporting food from farmers to consumers. This results in higher food prices. There are thus multiple impacts on food security.

Which countries are most vulnerable to such impacts?

Any country that has a significant agricultural sector is likely to experience these.

Major agricultural producers like India and the US are vulnerable.

Farmers suffer considerable losses in these countries. But remarkably, farmers practising regenerative agriculture, are less affected.

What is the way forward?

Balanced and sustainable soil & water management practices: The prevailing mode in the globalized food system has been based on productivity or ways to grow the most crop and sell it to a huge market. Agricultural trade must be balanced with more sustainable practices for managing soil and water.

i). One good way is to use different varieties of crops that are more resilient, including wild species and traditional cultivars, many being extremely hardy against droughts, floods, etc.

ii). We need to move away from some very highly engineered crops that dominate our monocultural globalized food system and adopt more regional, soil conserving, resilient crops.

iii). Traditional agri practices: Around the world, many communities practice sustainable farming based on indigenous knowledge of local conditions. Such farms follow intercropping or growing different crops together or agroforestry, growing green crops with tree crops — these practices might not have the global food system’s high productivity, but they are very sustainable in the long term.

iv). Stopping food waste: A quarter of food produced globally is wasted either at the farm gate, when farmers can’t market crops in time, or at the consumer end when people buy too much, and it goes bad. If we could save that 25%, we’d be able to significantly boost global food access.


No offshore wind project has commenced in India: Are we on track for 30 GW by 2030?

Source: This post is based on the article “No offshore wind project has commenced in India: Are we on track for 30 GW by 2030?” published in Down to Earth on 11th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc

Relevance: Regarding use of offshore wind energy in India

Synopsis: To harness the capacity of India’s offshore wind potential, we need to identify the areas where we can develop offshore wind project and accelerate the project.

Introduction

India has planned to provide 24×7 electricity to every home. As per the forecast of International Energy Agency, the country’s energy demand will increase by 6-7% annually over the next decade. Hence, it is imperative to decarbonise the energy sector.

This transition to clean energy can be facilitated by offshore wind energy.

As per India’s nationally determined contributions, India plans to generate 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 — including five GW of offshore wind energy by 2022 and plans to scale it further to 30 GW by 2030.

What is India’s offshore wind energy potential?

As per World Bank report, India’s Exclusive Economic Zone has 195 gigawatt (GW) of technological offshore wind potential (112 GW fixed and 83 GW floating).

There is 36 GW and 35 GW offshore wind potential off the Gujrat and Tamil Nadu coast, respectively.

What is the status of offshore wind projects in India?

Gujarat invited an expression of interest (EOI) for India’s first offshore wind project of 1 GW in 2018, which attracted nearly 35 major companies. It did not move forward.

In 2019, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) applied for €800 million in viability gap funding to help support the construction of India’s first 1 GW offshore wind project in Gujarat. To date, India has not begun any offshore wind projects.

Must Read: Offshore wind energy in India – Explained 
How to accelerate offshore wind project development?

Pass the final tender for the one GW project at Pipavav in the Gulf of Khambhat, Gujarat, which is in the pipeline.

Conduct an offshore wind measurement campaign for a minimum of 10 GW of accurate on-site measurements.

Install five LiDARs (Light Detection and Ranging) by 2021 to gather precise bankable data that will be critical to developing offshore wind projects of up to 7.4 GW indicative installable capacity.

As India already has cheaper onshore wind and solar power, the MNRE is seeking feasible cost interventions from stakeholders for offshore wind. 

What are the key steps/measures to enhance offshore wind capacity?

Offshore wind market potential in India is enormous, but it requires an increased government-industry coordination and techno-economic studies to be realized in this decade. Some key steps that can be taken are:

i). Customize the technology and business models for the offshore wind sites off Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

ii). Frame a visionary policy towards long term cost reduction and energy.

iii). Use LiDAR data to identify bankable offshore wind zones collected through offshore wind measurement campaign.

iv). Demonstrate offshore wind capacity factors, technology optimization and initial costs.

v). Promote engagement among decision makers at the federal, state and local levels.

vi). Promote collective understanding of offshore wind’s socioeconomic benefit.


A very consequential Supreme Court ruling: When govt values land unjustly, landowners cannot seek full remedy in lower courts

Source: This post is based on the article “A very consequential Supreme Court ruling: When govt values land unjustly, landowners cannot seek full remedy in lower courts” published in the Times of India on 11th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 Land reforms in India.

Relevance: To understand the land acquisition process.

Synopsis: Road construction is important. But so are the right of landowners who lose the land as part of the Government’s land acquisition.

Introduction

Government has the power to compulsorily acquire a person’s property for the construction of a government project. For that, they have to compensate the person fairly.  Fair compensation is the constitutional right of the person.

But, in the recent Project Director, NHAI vs M Hakeem case, the SC ruled that the government can acquire land for highways without a fair mechanism for compensation.

Why the government arbitration is considered one-sided?

National Highways Act, 1956 (amended 1997): Under it, government servants fix the compensation while acquiring the land. If the landowner is dissatisfied with the compensation, he can seek reconsideration. But that reconsideration is also done by another government servant, who will act as an arbitrator. But that arbitrator is not appointed with the consent of the landowner.

This is a remedy in section 34 of the Arbitration Act. But this provides only limited appeal in a court of law. Thus, this process seems to go against the concept of natural justice.

What can courts do?

Under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, the courts cannot modify the award or increase the compensation itself. It can either set aside the award or leave it to be re-decided by the arbitrator. While the landowner had limited rights, SC  refused to concede to lower courts (below it) the right to enhance NHA awards.

What is the High Court stand?

The high court had taken a different view of the problem. The HC found the arbitrator to be biased towards the government. So, the HC called for a liberal interpretation of section 34 and enhanced the compensation itself.

What is the Supreme Court stand?

SC has denied lower courts the right to modify and enhance NHA awards. So, the landowners can only challenge the NHA in a writ petition in HCs or SC under the Constitution. Though SC pointed that the system is designed to favour the government, but left it to the parliament to legislate on the matter.

However, this amounts to grave injustice as it left the matter to parliament and also disapproved the HC decision to enhance the award.

What does this imply?

The whole scenario is in a worrying state for the landowners. They are limited by the law, not favoured by SC and lower courts have also been curtailed by SC.


How the world — and India — changed in the 20 years after 9/11

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • How the world — and India — changed in the 20 years after 9/11” published in Indian Express on 10th September 2021.
  • “Two decades after 9/11, the nation state remains robust” published in Indian Express on 10th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3. Role of External State & Non-State Actors in Creating Challenges to Internal Security.

Relevance: To understand the impact of 9/11 on India and the world.

Synopsis: After the 9/11 attacks, geopolitics changed dramatically. Even democratic nation-states underwent a change to respond to non-state actors.

Introduction

It was September 11, 2001, when planes struck the twin towers of the USA. The attack on the superpower by non-state actors highlighted the new threats that states were forced to deal with in the coming days. But this highlighted the emerging powers of non-state actors.

The power of non-state actors

The non-state actors like terrorist groups found a haven in unstable regimes like in Afghanistan. Economic globalization allowed them to build their economic and trade nexus. Technology provided them with the means to communicate and coordinate. All these allowed the terrorists to carry out complex operations like attacking the twin towers, right at the heart of the great superpower. They also sought to change the power equations in the Middle East.

What is the terrorist agenda in the Middle East?

The terror groups wanted to create a caliphate in the Middle East. They were met with strong resistance from Middle Eastern countries. This reduced their power. Moreover, Arab states view countries like Turkey, Iran as greater threats than these terror groups.

Though the Middle East was able to control the groups, we see that the USA had to leave Afghanistan.

How did the democratic nation-states respond to terror threats?

Nation-states have only emerged stronger. They tightened the norms to control the digital world to secure the communication channels. The air travel norms were strengthened and these have ensured that there has not been any incident like 9/11 after that. Moreover, states increased regulation and control over arms like nuclear weapons to ensure they don’t land in the hands of terrorists.

How did India Respond?

India has been facing the problem of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism since 1989.  Unfortunately, the USA and UK sided with Pakistan during this time.

However, this changed after India’s 2nd nuclear test and the 9/11 attack in the USA. Though the USA continued to rely on Pakistan, it considered Pakistan as an unreliable partner. This was further proved when Osama bin Laden was found hiding in Pakistan.

Indian response to terror attacks had been that of “strategic restraint”. It was limited to diplomatic actions. This was evident in attacks on the Indian Parliament (December 2001) and the Kaluchak massacre (May 2002). However, now we witness that India has adopted a policy of imposing costs on Pakistan by striking across the border, e.g. Balalkot airstrikes.

This capacity of India has been built over its strong economy and strong global linkages. Despite the economic disaster of 1991, India emerged stronger after LPG reforms.

India was however late as China started its reforms in 1971 and that gave China the edge in economic and global power. However, as China export-driven model is coming under strain, India has bright chances of challenging and even overtaking China in the economic sphere.


Green-unready: On funding high-impact climate solutions

Source: This post is based on the article “Green unready” published in Business Standard on 10th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 -Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Address climate change and methods which can reduce emission.

Synopsis: Fighting climate crisis needs high impact solutions led by entrepreneurs and start-ups. Hence, funding assumes critical importance.

Introduction

Addressing climate change requires a focus on reducing emissions and increasing carbon sinks. To reduce emissions, innovative solutions that are climate-ready and can be adopted at scale are the need of the hour.

Entrepreneurship can accelerate the lab-to-market transition of innovations and create scalable solutions for deployment.

But what is required is an integrated innovation curation, venture development, and capital access.

What is the major problem faced in commercialization of high-impact innovations?

Lack of funding: Innovators and entrepreneurs, particularly those harnessing science and technology to create high-impact solutions, have historically been underfunded. This leads to innovations stuck inside R&D labs, journal articles and patent offices, discouraging entrepreneurial risk-taking. Risk capital is most needed in commercializing high-impact innovations, but is least available at this stage. (Risk capital refers to funds used for high-risk, high-reward investments).

Why there is a lack of risk capital?

The following reasons keep most investors away from such early-stage investments,

i). Absence of impact-market thesis

ii). Poor innovation curation and sub-optimal venture development efforts by the ecosystem enablers

iii). Unrealistic expectations

iv). A wi­d­espread misunderstanding of risk-return trade-offs further worsen this gap bet­ween the capital providers and product start-ups.

v). High product development risk

vi). Longer gestation period

vii). Inability to foresee an exit horizon

viii). Poor assessment and pricing of risk

This leaves the state and philanthropy as the only source of capital to this sector.

What is required to push the transition of ideas from labs to markets?

High-impact climate solutions need a range of well-rounded, multi-stage financial and non-financial support from the ecosystem. Five principal elements that need to come together to support innovators and entrepreneurs are:

i). R&D and innovation pipeline,

ii). Venture incubation infrastructure,

iii). Focussed acceleration platforms,

iv). Multi-stage and blended capital pools, and

v). Multi-stakeholder partnerships for market access.

To achieve the above goals, a well integrated solution is needed. Having to make do with whatever funding is available, entrepreneurs often end up making wrong choices when it comes to funding sources, instruments and deployment, sometimes negatively influencing their strategic priorities. A more comprehensive, cohesive, patient and hybrid climate fund is needed

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

If inflation remains elevated, Monetary Policy Committee could lose credibility. This must be avoided

What is the news?

RBI Governor has expressed optimism over the state of the economy. Speaking at an event organized by The Indian Express and the Financial Times, he noted that the economy will witness a sequential improvement in the second quarter of this year.

What does the recent GDP data indicate?

Recently released GDP data suggests that the economic impact of the second wave of the pandemic was less severe than last year. In the first quarter of the current year, the economy was about 9% lower than its pre-Covid levels.

In the period thereafter, parts of the economy are near their pre-Covid levels, though the contact intensive services sectors continue to lag.

However, the second quarter numbers will be distorted owing to the base-effect — the economy had contracted by 7.4% in the same period last year and there is also considerable uncertainty over the momentum of the recovery.

Equally uncertain is the extent to which the distress in the informal economy has receded.

What concerns are being raised wrt RBI’s current policy?

Concerns are being expressed over the continuing accommodative policy stance of the central bank in light of retail inflation continuing to stay elevated.

RBI’s view: RBI Governor defended the stance, pointing out that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was taking advantage of a flexible inflation targeting regime and stated that instead of the exact target of 4%, the MPC is operating within the band of 2-6%.

What is RBI’s view on policy normalisation?

On policy normalisation, RBI Governor said that the RBI/MPC are very closely watchful of inflation hinting that the RBI is unlikely to withdraw the accommodative measures in a hurry, unless it sees a durable recovery taking shape.

RBI needs to be careful of the costs of ignoring inflation. If inflation continues to stay elevated, the MPC risks losing credibility vis-a-vis achieving its objective of price stability. This must be avoided.

Source: This post is based on the article “If inflation remains elevated, Monetary Policy Committee could lose credibility. This must be avoided” published in The Indian Express on 11th September 2021.


Atal Innovation Mission launches Space challenge in collaboration with ISRO & CBSE across India

Source: This post is based on the article “Atal Innovation Mission launches Space challenge in collaboration with ISRO & CBSE across India” published in PIB on 10th September 2021.

What is the news?

Recently, Atal Innovation Mission has launched a Space challenge 2021 in collaboration with ISRO & CBSE for all school students across the country.

What is ATL (Atal Tinkering Labs) Space Challenge 2021?

It is a platform where students from Class 6-12 can innovate and solve digital age space technology problems. The event is scheduled to be held in sync with World Space Week 2021.

Read more: Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Tinkering Labs

Aim:  To enable innovation among young school students to create something in the space sector.it will not only help them learn about space but also create something that space programme can itself use.

Who can participate in this challenge?

Challenge has been designed for all the school students, mentors and teachers across the county. All the ATL and non-ATL schools can participate in it.

How can a student participate?

Individual member’s entry is not allowed. A team of up to 3 members is allowed. Also, if the team size exceeds 3 members limit, the entry/ submission will be immediately disqualified.

What can the students create?

Students can participate under these themes: Explore Space, Reach Space, Inhabit Space, and Leverage Space. Participants must submit one unique solution under any one theme. If the team submits the same solution under multiple themes, then it will be immediately disqualified.


Explained: Island discovered off Greenland is the new speck on the world map

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Island discovered off Greenland is the new speck on the world map” published in the Indian Express on 9th September 2021.

What is the news?

Recently, a new island has been discovered off the coast of Greenland.

About the island

The newly discovered island measures 60×30 metres. It is three metres above sea level and has now become the new northernmost piece of land on Earth. Before this, Oodaaq was marked as the Earth’s northernmost terrain.

Researchers suggested naming the new island as ‘Qeqertaq Avannarleq’, which is Greenlandic for “the northernmost island”.

What is the composition?

It is made up of seabed mud and moraine, i.e. soil, rock and other material. It has no vegetation.

Is it the result of Global warming?

Global warming has had a severe effect on the ice sheet of Greenland. The new island, which was exposed by a shifting pack of ice, is, however, not a direct consequence of climate change.

What does this discovery imply?

This becomes important as there is a tussle going on among Arctic nations, the US, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway for the control of the North Pole and of the surrounding seabed, fishing rights and shipping routes exposed by melting ice due to climate change.


Centre Revises “Transport and Marketing Assistance” (TMA) scheme for Specified Agriculture Products’

What is the News?

The Centre has revised the “Transport and Marketing Assistance” (TMA) scheme for Specified Agriculture Products’.

About Transport and Marketing Assistance(TMA) for Specified Agriculture Products Scheme

Launched by: Ministry of Commerce & Industry in 2019.

The objective of the Scheme: The scheme aims to provide assistance for the international component of freight and marketing of agricultural produce.

The assistance will help mitigate the disadvantage of higher freight costs faced by the Indian exporters of agriculture products.

Coverage: All exporters, duly registered with relevant Export Promotion Council as per Foreign Trade Policy, of eligible agriculture products, shall be covered under this scheme.

The scheme covers freight and marketing assistance for export by air as well as by sea (both normal and reefer cargo).

Duration of the Scheme: The scheme was initially applicable for exports affected during the period from 01.03.2019 to 31.03.2020 and was later extended for exports affected up to 31.03.2021.

About ‘Revised Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) for Specified Agriculture Products Scheme’

The revised TMA scheme will be available for exports affected on or after 01.04.2021 up to 31.03.2022.

The following major changes have been made in the revised scheme:

Dairy products, which were not covered under the earlier scheme, will be eligible for assistance under the revised scheme.

Rates of assistance have been increased, by 50% for exports by sea and by 100% for exports by air.

Source: This post is based on the article “‘Centre Revises Transport and Marketing Assistance(TMA) schemepublished in PIB on 10th September 2021.


Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021

What is the News?

The Ministry of Education has released the sixth edition of the India Rankings 2021 instituted by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

About National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

Launched by: The National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF) was launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Education.

Objective: To rank higher educational institutions in the country based on objective criteria to promote competitive excellence.

Parameters: The institutions were assessed and ranked based on five parameters:

  1. Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR)
  2. Research and Professional Practice (RP)
  3. Graduation Outcomes (GO)
  4. Outreach and Inclusivity (OI)
  5. Peer Perception.

Categories: The institutions were ranked across 11 categories as listed out – overall national ranking, universities, engineering, college, medical, management, pharmacy, law, architecture, dental and research.

Rankings in 2021

Overall Ranking: IIT-Madras, IISc-Bangalore, and IIT-Bombay have emerged as the country’s top three higher education institutions

University and Research Institution: Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru tops the University as well as Research Institution category 

Colleges: Miranda College retains 1st position amongst colleges for the fifth consecutive year.

Engineering: IIT-Madras remained number one.

Management: Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad was ranked one.

Medical: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi occupies the top slot in Medical for the fourth consecutive year.

Pharmacy: Jamia Hamdard tops the list in Pharmacy subject for the third consecutive.

Architecture: IIT Roorkee takes the top slot for the first time in the Architecture subject.

Law: National Law School of India University, Bangalore retains its first position in Law for the fourth consecutive year.

Dental: Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal secured 1st position.

Source: This post is based on the article Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021 published in PIB on 9th September 2021.


Software to help paramilitary forces in transparent postings

What is the News?

The Central paramilitary forces are all set to soon implement a software-based rotational transfer policy between the hard and soft posting of their personnel. 

What is Software Based Rotational Transfer Policy?

In 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the Central paramilitary forces to implement the software-based rotational transfer policy between the hard and soft posting of their personnel. The policy is under an advanced stage of implementation.

Under this policy, the next posting of a jawan or officer shall be decided as per a point-based system or weightage linked to his previous post.

What was the need for this system?

The software-based transfer policy would minimise Human Interface. This will eliminate the scope for any arbitrariness or bias on the part of seniors.

Moreover, software-based systems would also ensure that no personnel has to serve in a ‘hard’ posting for long periods and gets a ‘soft’ posting breather in between.

Source: This post is based on the articleSoftware to help paramilitary forces in transparent postingspublished in TOI on 11th September 2021.


Scientists peek into the Sun by estimating magnetic fields using radio observations

What is the News?

Indian scientists along with international collaborators have measured the magnetic field of an eruption from the Sun’s atmosphere offering a rare peek to the interior of the Sun. 

About the Study

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) studied the weak thermal radio emission associated with the erupted plasma for the first time.

The team studied the plasma from the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that happened in 2016.

Note: Plasma is known as the fourth state of matter. At high temperatures, electrons are ripped from an atom’s nuclei and become a plasma or an ionised state of matter.

What did they find out?

Scientists were able to measure the polarisation of this emission, which is indicative of the direction in which the electric and magnetic components of the waves oscillate.

About Coronal Mass Ejections(CME)

Coronal Mass Ejection(CME) is an ejection of highly magnetised particles from the sun. During a CME, enormous bubbles of superheated gas – called plasma – are ejected from the sun.

Cause: The underlying cause of CMEs is not well understood. However, astronomers agree, that the sun’s magnetic field plays a major role.

Where do CMEs occur? Though CMEs can occur anywhere on the Sun, it is primarily those which originate from regions near the centre of the visible solar surface (called the photosphere) that are important for study, since they may propagate directly towards the Earth.

Impact of CMEs: When a really strong CME blows past the Earth, it can damage the electronics in satellites and disrupt radio communication networks on Earth.

Source: This post is based on the articleScientists peek into the Sun by estimating magnetic fields using radio observationspublished in PIB on 9th September 2021.


‘No new coal plants needed to meet 2030 demand’

What is the News?

According to a report prepared by EMBER, an independent British energy think-tank in collaboration with Bangalore-based Climate Risk Horizons, India does not require additional new coal capacity to meet expected demand growth by the financial year 2030.

Key Findings of the report

India does not require additional new coal capacity to meet expected demand growth by Financial Year(FY) 2030: Even if India’s power demand grows 5% annually(as per projections made by the Central Electricity Authority), demand for coal-fired generation in FY 2030 will be lower than in FY 2020 as long as India achieves its non-coal generation targets.

India can meet its peak demand in FY 2030 without building the “zombie” coal plants: The country’s peak power demand would reach 301 GW by FY 2030. India’s planned solar capacity can cover much of it. Therefore, adding new coal plants will lead to “zombie” units. 

Note: Zombie units refer to the ones which will exist, but not be operational.

India can free up Rs.2.5 lakh crore in capital expenditure by not investing in “zombie” coal projects. However, once incurred, these wasted investments will lock DISCOMs (power distribution companies) and consumers into expensive contracts and impact India’s Renewable Energy goals by adding to the system’s overcapacity

Moreover, India can make annual savings of Rs. 43,219 cr by investing in renewables and storage, instead of “zombie” coal projects. 

Source: This post is based on the article “No new coal plants needed to meet 2030 demand” published in the Indian Express on 10th September 2021.


‘Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana’ extended upto June 2022

What is the News?

The Government of India has decided to extend the “Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana”  till 30th June 2022. 

About Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana was launched in 2018. It is being implemented by the Employees State Insurance(ESI) Corporation.

The scheme is a welfare measure for Insured Persons covered under the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948.

Under the scheme, unemployment allowance is paid at 50% of wages for 3 months to those insured persons who lose their jobs for any reason. 

The unemployment allowance shall become due for payment after 30 days from the date of unemployment and the claim can be submitted directly to the designated ESIC Branch Office by the worker. 

Click here to read more about the Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

Source: This post is based on the articleAtal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana’ extended upto June 2022published in PIB on 10th September 2021.


The world’s coral reefs have suffered terribly in 30 years, but are resilient: Study

What is the News?

Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network along with the Australian government has released a report titled “Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2020”.

Purpose of the Report: To highlight the main trends and recommendations to inform decision-making and strengthen ambition for the protection of coral reef ecosystems.

Key Highlights from the Study

Coral reefs have suffered terribly in the past three decades. For instance, the 1998 coral bleaching event killed 8% of the world’s coral. Subsequent events between 2009 and 2018 killed 14% of the world’s coral.

Most declines in global coral cover were associated with either rapid increase in sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly or sustained high SST anomaly.

Moreover, there were 20% more algae on the world’s coral reefs in 2019 than in 2010. The increase in the amount of algae was associated with declines in the amount of hard coral.

However, the increases in global coral cover between 2002 and 2009 and in 2019 offered hope. It showed that coral reefs globally remained resilient and could recover if conditions permitted.

For example, coral reefs in East Asia, which has 30% of the world’s coral reefs, had more coral on average in 2019 than they did in 1983. This, despite the area being affected by large-scale coral bleaching events during the last decade.

Recommendations from the study

Reducing local pressures on coral reefs to maintain their resilience would be critical in the years to come. 

Monitoring data collected in the field was also essential to understand the status of the trends in coral reef conditions.

Moreover, investments and developments of new technologies for coral reef protection is essential.

Source: This post is based on the article “The world’s coral reefs have suffered terribly in 30 years, but are resilient: Study” published in Down To Earth on 10th September 2021.


Indian Scientists Develop Noise Control Panels Inspired by Beehives

What is the News?

An Indian researcher has fabricated paper honeycomb and stronger polymer honeycomb structure as sound-absorbing panels that dissipate acoustic energy to low-frequency ranges.

Significance of this research:

Many traditional materials have been found to be good at controlling higher frequencies, but not at lower frequency ranges.

However, natural beehives have been found to efficiently control high as well as low frequencies because of their geometry. This behaviour was owing to the conversion of acoustical energy into vibration energy. This vibration energy is dissipated in the form of heat due to wall damping properties. 

Hence, mimicking this property as an engineering solution could offer a cost-effective method for controlling noise pollution.

What is Acoustic Energy?

Acoustics is the branch of physics that is concerned with the study of sound.

Acoustic energy is the disturbance of energy, which passes through a material in the form of waves. An example of acoustic energy is sound energy. When sound travels through any medium, it produces vibrations in the form of waves.

Source: This post is based on the article “Indian Scientists Develop Noise Control Panels Inspired by Beehivespublished in PIB on 10th September 2021.


 

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