Chandrayaan-3 successfully completes crucial test
Relevance in UPSC: GS Paper – 3, Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.
Introduction: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that its upcoming third mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-3’s lander has successfully undergone the EMI-EMC (Electro-Magnetic Interference/Electro-Magnetic Compatibility) test.
- It is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface.
- It consists of Lander and Rover configurations.
- It will be launched by GSLV MkIII from SDSC, Sriharikota.
- Lander payloads:
- Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) to measure the thermal conductivity and temperature
- Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) for measuring the seismicity around the landing site
- Langmuir Probe (LP) to estimate the plasma density and its variations.
- A passive Laser Retroreflector Array from NASA is accommodated for lunar laser ranging studies.
|Chandrayaan-1: India’s first mission to Moon was launched successfully on October 22, 2008, from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.
● Objective: Chemical, mineralogical, and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon.
● The spacecraft carried 11 scientific instruments built in India, the USA, the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Bulgaria.
● Mission Life: 2 years
● Launch Vehicle: PSLV-C11
Chandrayaan-2 mission: It is a highly complex mission, which represents a significant technological leap compared to the previous missions of ISRO.
● On August 20, 2019, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into lunar orbit.
● On September 02, 2019, Vikram Lander was separated from the Orbiter in preparation for landing.
● It comprised an Orbiter, Lander, and Rover.
● Objective: To explore the unexplored South Pole of the Moon. The mission is designed to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of topsoil, and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere.
● Launch Vehicle: GSLV-Mk III – M1 / Chandrayaan-2 Mission
Underwater noise emissions pose threat to marine life
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
- The rising man-made (anthropogenic) underwater noise emissions (UNE) from ships in Indian waters are posing a threat to the life of marine mammals like the Bottlenose dolphin, Manatees, Pilot whale, Seal and Sperm whale.
- Knowledge of their hearing capabilities is vital to understanding their auditory system.
- The main form of energy for multiple behavioural activities of marine mammals, which include mating, communal interaction, feeding, cluster cohesion, and foraging, is based on sound.
Measurement of the ambient noise:
- The measurement of the ambient noise levels was carried out by deploying a hydrophone autonomous system around 30 nautical miles from the Goa coastline.
- The depth of deployment of the sensor was 11 metres in a water depth of 22 metres.
- The single-channel hydrophone was deployed at different locations within-water depth of 18 metres with a deployment depth of 3 and 5 metres off Visakhapatnam port.
Sources of Marine Pollution:
- Land-Based Activities: Dumping of hazardous waste, heavy discharges from industry, and the inflow of fertilizers and pesticides from Agri fields.
- Pollution from Open exploration: Offshore drilling.
- Marine debris: Sunken ships (w their cargo of hazardous material).
- Shipbreaking: Alang in Gujarat leaves toxic material removed from dismantled old ships.
- Pollution from ships: Accidental oil spills, cleaning process, emissions from engines.
- The inflow of chemicals, solid waste, discharge of radioactive elements, industrial and agricultural effluents, man-made sedimentation, and oil spills.
- The majority portion comes from the land which contributes to 80% of the marine pollution; air pollution also carries pesticides from farms and dust into the marine waters.
How to prevent Ocean pollution?
- Implement renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, to limit off-shore drilling.
- Limit agricultural pesticides and encourage organic farming & eco-friendly pesticide use.
- Proper sewage treatment and exploration of eco-friendly wastewater treatment options.
- Cut down on the industry and manufacturing waste and contain it in landfills to avoid spillage.
- Use of Biotechnology: Bioremediation (use of specific microorganisms to metabolize and remove harmful substances) to treat oil spills.
- At the individual level reduce carbon footprint by adopting a “green” lifestyle.
- Have a global treaty on banning single-use plastics and collaborated effort to clean up the ocean.
12 cheetahs from South Africa enter quarantine in Kuno National Park
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
- Twelve cheetahs arrived in Madhya Pradesh from South Africa on Saturday and were released into the quarantine enclosures at the Kuno National Park in Sheopur district; five months after the first batch of eight was brought from Namibia, another African nation.
- The inter-continental translocation of cheetahs is part of the Union government’s program to reintroduce these animals seven decades after they became extinct in the country.
- India’s last cheetah died in the Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947, and the species was declared extinct in 1952.
Stakeholders of the plan
- The Forestry department implements the project, South African organizations, National Biodiversity Institute, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, etc.
- The Indian Air Force flies the Cheetahs from South Africa.
- Initially, India had planned to introduce the African Cheetahs.
- However, this was against the IUCN rules of reintroduction. According to IUCN, introducing an exotic species will replace the native ones.
- So India moved on with Asiatic Cheetahs. Asiatic Cheetahs existed in India and became extinct. Therefore, Asiatic Cheetahs are not exotic species to the country.
|● African Cheetah:
o Scientific Name: Acinonyx jubatus jubatus
o Habitat: African Savannahs
o Characteristics: They are bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.
o Conservation Status:
▪ IUCN status: Vulnerable
▪ CITES Appendix I
● Asiatic Cheetah:
o Characteristics: Smaller and paler than the African cheetah.
o IUCN status: Critically Endangered
o Status in India: Declared extinct in India in 1952
o Distribution: Only 40-50 and found only in Iran.
Kuno National Park
- Kuno National Park is a national park in MP established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary.
- In 2018, it was given the status of a national park.
- It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests.
- KunoPalpur Wildlife Sanctuary is underway to become India’s second home for the Asiatic lion.
Tapping the potential of niche villages in a push for rural tourism
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment. Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.
- The Central nodal agency, Rural Tourism and Rural Homestays (CNA – RT and RH), the coordinating body among the Centre, the States and other stakeholders, has identified six niche experiences for tourists wanting to visit rural India, including agritourism, art and culture, ecotourism, wildlife, tribal tourism, and homestays.
- More than 134 villages have been listed, each of which provides a set of unique experiences to tourists. The list will only grow.
- Mattur is a village in Karnataka where residents speak only in Sanskrit.
- Maachli in Maharashtra is an agrarian homestay surrounded by coconut, betel, and banana plantations.
- The Bishnoi village in Rajasthan has frequent visits from the endangered great Indian bustard.
- Tamil Nadu’s Kolukkumalai is the highest tea plantation in the world.
- Kerala’s Devalokam is a yoga centre on the banks of a river.
- Nagaland’s Konyak Tea retreat takes visitors on a trip through tribal culture
- Telangana’s Pochampalli village showcases its traditional weaving techniques
- Himachal Pradesh’s Pragpur village plunges visitors into Kangra heritage architecture.
About Sustainable tourism:
- The focus of this rural push is sustainability, avoiding large-scale infrastructure development, and without much private sector participation.
- Instead, efforts will be to rope in local resources and communities to provide a unique organic experience, a senior official in the Ministry of Tourism said.
- The Ministry is in the process of formulating a budget, with certain training modules at district levels being 100% centrally financed, and other aspects being 60% Centre- and 40% State-financed.
- While there is a lack of consolidated data on global rural tourism trends, the U.S.-based market research firm Grand View Research estimates that agritourism alone will develop at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4% from 2022 to 2030.
Steps to promote Rural Tourism:
- The Ministry of Tourism has designated rural tourism as one of the Niche Tourism sectors for growth in the country.
- The Ministry has developed a Draft National Strategy and Roadmap for Rural Tourism, which focuses on developing and promoting local products through tourism. It focuses on the following key pillars:
- Model policies and best practices for rural tourism;
- Digital technologies and platforms for rural tourism;
- Developing clusters for rural tourism;
- Marketing support for rural tourism;
- Capacity building of stakeholders;
- Governance and institutional framework
- The Ministry of Tourism has designated the Rural Circuit as one of the fifteen thematic circuits for development under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
India, U.S. making fresh efforts for practical cooperation in civil nuclear energy sector
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
General Studies paper -3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
- In the face of growing global concerns over energy security triggered by the Ukraine conflict, India and the U.S. are giving a fresh look at exploring practical cooperation in the civil nuclear energy sector after failing to move forward since inking a historic agreement over 14 years back for partnership in the area.
- India on January 4 approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission with an outlay of ₹19,744 crore to develop a green hydrogen production capacity of five million tonnes a year by 2030.
|Indo-US nuclear deal
● NSG Waiver: A major aspect of the Indo-US nuclear deal was the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave a special waiver to India that enabled it to sign cooperation agreements with a dozen countries.
● Separate Programmes: It enabled India to separate its civilian and military programmes and placed its civilian nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
● Transfer of Technology: It refrains India from the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them and India should also support international efforts to limit their spread.
Present Status of Projects
● The US has been discussing the sale of nuclear reactors to India since the 2008 pact, two subsequent agreements were signed only in 2016 and 2019.
● A project proposal to set up six reactors in collaboration with Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) has been announced, but work is yet to begin.
● Another major project involving the French state-owned operator Areva, which was subsequently, taken over by the French electricity utility EDF is also delayed.
● It has submitted an offer to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited to supply engineering studies and equipment for the construction of six reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
US-India Agenda 2030 Partnership
- The aim is to create stronger bilateral cooperation on actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- The Partnership will proceed along two main tracks: the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue.
- India elevated the India-US energy dialogue to a strategic energy partnership in 2018.
US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)
- Therevamped USISCEP was launched in accordance with the S -India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden.
- The partnership continues to advance energy security and innovation and deploying technical solutions through five pillars.
- Responsible Oil and Gas Pillar
- Power and Energy Efficiency Pillar
- Renewable Energy Pillar
- Sustainable Growth Pillar
- Emerging Fuels and technologies
Telangana’s Teja chilli is hot property in many nations
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -3: Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, – Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.
- The burgeoning demand for the popular Teja variety of red chilli, famous for its culinary, medicinal and other wide-ranging uses, in the export market is proving to be a boon for the Khammam Agriculture Market, housing Telangana’s second-largest chilli market yard, in the district headquarters town of Khammam.
- Teja variety of red chilli is being exported to China, Bangladesh, and a few other south Asian countries from Khammam mainly through the Chennai port.
- The export of Teja variety of red chilli is expected to grow from the present ₹2000 crore per annum to ₹2500 crore next year.
How is India addressing sickle cell anaemia?
Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Sickle cell anaemia (SCA), a genetic blood disorder, found a mention in the Budget this year.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government will work in “mission mode” to eliminate the condition by 2047.
- India is the second-worst affected country in terms of predicted births with SCA — i.e. chances of being born with the condition.
What is sickle cell anaemia?
- Haemoglobin which is tasked with carrying oxygen to all parts of the body has four protein subunits — two alpha and two betas.
- In some people, mutations in the gene that creates the beta subunits impact the shape of the blood cell and distort it to look like a sickle.
- A round red blood cell can move easily through blood vessels because of its shape but sickle red blood cells end up slowing and even blocking, the blood flow.
- Moreover, sickle cells die early, resulting in a shortage of red blood cells that deprive the body of oxygen.
- These obstructions and shortages may cause chronic anaemia, pain, fatigue, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and a host of other serious health complications.
Sickle cell disease (SCD)
- It is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Red blood carries oxygen to all parts of the body.
- Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
- In someone who has SCD, the hemoglobin is abnormal, which causes the red blood cells to become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.”
- The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells.
- There are several types of SCD. The specific type of SCD a person has depends on the genes they inherited from their parents. People with SCD inherit genes that contain instructions, or code, for abnormal hemoglobin.
- SCD is a genetic condition that is present at birth. It is inherited when a child receives two genes—one from each parent—that code for abnormal hemoglobin.
- Management of SCD is focused on preventing and treating pain episodes and other complications. Prevention strategies include lifestyle behaviors as well as medical screening and interventions to prevent SCD complications.
- Recent Initiatives:
- The Unmukt Projectis being implemented by the Central Government to strengthen screening and timely management of Sickle Cell Anemia.
- The Tribal Affairs Ministryestablished the National Council on Sickle Cell Disease and Tribal Health Cell, which would coordinate with the Ministry of Health and State Governments.
- The Tribal Affairs Ministry, through the development of the Sickle Cell Support Corner, has instituted a mechanism for creating a Central Repository of data.