Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 12, 2021

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key takeaways from the “ISRO-JAXA virtual meeting”

What is the news?

Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) and the Japanese space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA) held a virtual meeting.

What are the key takeaways from the ISRO-JAXA virtual meeting?

  • India and Japan agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in space situational awareness and professional exchange programmes.
  • They have signed an Implementing Arrangement for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data.
  • Further, the two agencies also reviewed ongoing cooperation to launch a joint lunar polar exploration(LUPEX) mission.

About Lunar Polar Exploration(LUPEX) Mission:

  • LUPEX is a robotic lunar mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
  • Aim: The mission aims to send a lunar rover and lander to explore the South Pole region of the Moon in 2024.
  • Objective: The mission will demonstrate new surface exploration technologies related to vehicular transport. It will also test lunar night survival capabilities for sustainable lunar exploration in the South Pole region of the moon.
  • Contribution: JAXA is likely to provide the H3 launch vehicle and the rover. While ISRO would be responsible for the lander for this mission.

India’s Space Cooperation with other countries:

  • India and Italy have decided to explore opportunities in earth observation, space science, and robotic and human exploration.
  • India and Australia are also in discussions. Australia may host vital tracking infrastructure to support the Gaganyaan manned space flight mission.

Source: The Hindu

“Shramik Kalyan Portal” of Indian Railways

What is the News?

Indian Railways ensured 100% compliance with the minimum wage pay to contract workers. E-application Shramik Kalyan Portal used for this purpose.

About Shramik Kalyan Portal:

  • Launched by: the Indian Railways in the year 2018.
  • Purpose: to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act. Also, to ensure that contractual workers of Indian Railways get their rightful due.

How does the Portal work?

  • The portal enables all Railway contractors to register themselves and subsequently add work orders issued by different Railway units.
  • The contractors also have to create a profile of each contract worker and update the wages provided to him/her on a regular basis.
  • Railway authorities before passing the contractors’ bills have to:
    • Check whether contract workers’ wage data have been uploaded by the contractor or not and
    • Ensure that wages paid by the contractors conform with the minimum wages fixed by the government.

Source: Indian Express

“China’s 5-year plan” and India’s Concerns

What is the News?

China formally approves the outline of its 14th 5-year plan (2021-25). Some proposed projects are the cause of concern for India.

What are the key Concerns for India?

 Dam on Lower Reaches of Brahmaputra River:

  • The 5-year plan approves the construction of a dam and hydropower plant on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river (Brahmaputra River). It will be located in Tibet close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh. This is the first project in the lower reaches of the river.
    • The lower reaches refer to the sections of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet before it flows into India.
  • The proposed dam is located near the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra River. It may impact the ecologically sensitive canyon located near Arunachal Pradesh.

Earlier Dams:

  • Earlier, four dams have been approved on the upper and middle reaches of the Brahmaputra River. On these dams, India has already expressed concerns.
  • However, the impact of these dams on downstream flows is not clear. India is currently studying it as with an estimated 35% of its basin in India, the Brahmaputra river is not entirely dependent on upstream flows.

Sichuan-Tibet railway line near the India border:

  • The Railway line is a strategic infrastructure project for China as it aims to connect Sichuan to Tibet.
  • Concerns for India:
    • Nepal: This railway line is called an advance preparatory work for building a railway line from Tibet to Gyirong along the Tibet-Nepal border. This is part of an already agreed plan to build a cross-border railway link connecting China and Nepal.
    • Near the Border: The railway line lies just across from Arunachal Pradesh. It will become the second major rail link from China’s hinterland to Tibet.

Source: The Hindu

WHO Announced “Global Breast Cancer Initiative”

What is the News?

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an initiative called the “Global Breast Cancer Initiative”.

About Global Breast Cancer Initiative:

  • Aim: The initiative aims to reduce global breast mortality by 2.5% by 2040.
  • The initiative will particularly focus on reducing deaths in low-income countries. There the progress to tackle the disease is relatively slow.
  • Key Features of the Initiative:
    • Guidance to Governments: Under the initiative, WHO will work with other UN agencies. They will provide guidance to governments on how to strengthen systems for diagnosing and treating breast cancer. It is expected to improve capacities to manage other types of cancer.
    • Evidence-based Technical Package: An evidence-based technical package will also be provided to countries as part of the initiative. It will incorporate existing WHO cancer tools and products.

About Breast Cancer:

  • Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. It is responsible for one in six cancer deaths among women and has overtaken lung cancer as the world’s most commonly diagnosed cancer.
  • Survival Rates: Breast cancer survives for five years after diagnosis exceeds 80% in most high-income countries. However, it is 66% in India and 40% in South Africa.

Source: Down To Earth

“INS Karanj” – the Scorpene-class submarine inducted into service

What is the news?

Indian Navy inducted INS Karanj into service. It is a 3rd Scorpene-class conventional diesel-electric submarine.

About INS Karanj:

  • INS Karanj is a part of Project-75I. It is the 3rd submarine of the first batch of 6 Scorpene-class submarines under the project, for the Indian Navy.
  • Designed by: French naval defence and energy group.
  • Manufactured by:  Mazagon Dock Limited, an Indian shipyard in Mumbai.
  • Earlier Version: The previous INS Karanj (a Russian-origin submarine) was commissioned in 1969 at Riga in the erstwhile USSR. It served the nation for 34 years up to 2003.

Key Features of INS Karanj:

  • INS Karanj is equipped with the best sensors in the world. Furthermore, it is fitted with an integrated platform management system to provide centralised propulsion and machinery control.
  • The powerful diesel engines can quickly charge batteries for a stealthy mission profile.
  • It is also fitted with a permanent magnetic synchronous motor. It makes it one of the quietest submarines in the world.

What are Scorpene-Class Submarines?

  • Scorpene-class submarines are one of the most advanced conventional submarines in the world.
  • Features of Scorpene Submarines:
    • They have superior stealth features, such as; advanced silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels, and the ability to attack with precision-guided weapons on board.
    • They can also launch crippling attacks on the surface and underwater enemy targets.
  • Purpose: The Indian Navy intends to use these submarines for missions such as area surveillance, intelligence gathering, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and minelaying operations.
  • Speed: They can travel at a maximum submerged speed of approximately 20 knots and have the ability to remain submerged for 21 days. It has a diving depth of more than 350m.

About Project 75I:

  • The Project 75I is a program by the Indian Navy for building six Scorpene-Class attack submarines.
  • Six Submarines:
    • The first submarine is INS Kalvari. It was commissioned in 2017
    • The second is INS Khanderi. It was commissioned in 2019.
    • The fourth and fifth submarines are INS Vela and INS Vagir. They are undergoing sea trials.
    • The sixth is INS Vaghseer. It is in an advanced stage of outfitting.

 Source: Indian Express

Conservation Initiatives for Sharks in India

What is the news?

As per a recent study, the global population of sharks and rays reduced by over 70% in the past five decades. But a few conservation initiatives in India show that well-crafted policies and awareness programmes can make a difference.

About Sharks:

  • Sharks come under a subclass of fish species called elasmobranchii. The species in this subclass have skeletons made from cartilage and not bones. They also have five to seven gill slits on each side of their heads. They use gills to filter oxygen from the water.
  • Habitat: Sharks inhabit three major marine habitats such as continental shelves, deep-sea and open ocean.
  • Timescale: Based on fossilized teeth and scales, scientists believe that sharks have been around for more than 400 million years—long before the dinosaurs.
  • India is the second-largest shark fishing nation in the world.

Conservation Measures launched in India:

Inclusion of Sharks under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act

  • Whale Sharks were the first-ever species to be included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972.
  • After this, the Ganges shark and spear tooth shark were also added to Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.

Whale Shark Conservation Programme:

  • Why was it launched? Whale Sharks were usually caught in Gujarat as bycatch when fishermen target economically benefiting species. It was then used for the liver that was used for commercial trade. Due to this, the Whale Sharks population was reducing and the programme was launched.
  • Whale Shark Conservation Programme: It was launched by Wildlife Trust of India in Gujarat in 2004. Under the programme, workshops were conducted in villages and street plays were written and enacted to convey the consequences of hunting whale sharks.
    • This awareness programme was later expanded to Kerala and Lakshadweep after it was found that sharks that were saved in Gujarat were hunted down in Kerala and Lakshadweep.

Awareness Programmes in the East Coast of India:

  • Why is it conducted? Shark species such as Blacktip sharks, bull sharks, pelagic and big-eye thresher sharks, smooth and scalloped hammerhead and tiger sharks were hunted frequently, at the East Coast of India.
    • Among these, Smooth Hammerhead is categorised as Vulnerable and Scalloped Hammerhead as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List.
  • Awareness Programme: Forest Department of Andhra Pradesh along with The East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem has been conducting awareness programmes to educate fishing communities since 2013.

Ban on Export of Shark Fins:

  • Shark skin is used for leather which is made into boots and bags and liver for oil. The fins were earlier harvested for shark fin soup, a sought-after delicacy in Southeast Asia and China.
  • To stop this, the exporting of shark fins was banned in India in 2015.

Source: The Hindu

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