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January 2017 Miscellaneous


Miscellaneous

Nuclear-capable Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired off Odisha coast
 India conducted the final test-firing of  nuclear-capable strategic ballistic missile, Agni-IV, from test range off Odisha coast .

About Agni-IV

  • With a range of more than 4,000 km, the missile was successfully test fired from Balasore.
  • The indigenously developed surface-to-surface Agni-IV missile is a two-stage weapon system. It is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes.
  •  Agni-IV missile is equipped with 5th generation onboard computer and distributed architecture. 
  •  It has the latest features to correct and guide itself for in-flight disturbances.

Indian timekeepers add ‘leap second’ to sync time with Earth’s spin
A ‘leap second’ was added to the Indian clock at 5:29.59 hours to synchronise with the Earth’s rotational clock. 
As the atomic clock at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) here struck 23:59:59 last night, it was programmed to add an extra second to 2017 to compensate for a slowdown in the Earth’s rotation.

Why it was added?

  • The Earth and rotation around its own axis is not regular, as sometimes it speeds up and sometimes it slows down due to various factors, including earthquakes and moon’s gravitational forces. 
  •  As a result, astronomical time (UT1) gradually falls out of sync with atomic time (UTC), and, as and when the difference between UTC and UT1 approaches 0.9 seconds, a leap second is added to UTC through atomic clocks worldwide.

Major impacts:

  •  Adding a second barely has an impact on the daily life, but it does matter in the fields of satellite navigation ,astronomy and communication. 
  • Delay of milliseconds can disrupt synchronisation of satellites moving them kilometres away from their actual path. Space agencies correct the time of satellites daily in order synchronise the time with Earth.
  • However, synchronising time can sometimes have adverse effects as it was seen back in 2012 when the addition of leap second crashed Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Help, LinkedIn, and Stumble Upon. 
  • Also, people reported of several problems with programmes written in Java and Linux operating system.

Other key facts

  • The time is maintained and checked using atomic clocks as they are very precise and the margin of error in its functioning is just of a second in 100 million years. 
  • NPL has five such atomic clocks to keep the time and nearly 300 such atomic clocks are present all around the world.
  • The difference is calculated and observed by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS).

Google Doodle pays tribute to social reformer Savitribai Phule
A trailblazing figure in the field of women’s education in India, Savitribai Phule is the subject of  Google Doodle on the occasion of her 186th birthday.

About Savitribai Phule:

  •  Born in Naigaon in Maharashtra on January 3, 1831, Phule is widely regarded as one of India’s first generation modern feminists for her significant contributions in ensuring equal education opportunities under the British raj.
  •  She became the first female teacher in India in 1848 and opened a school for girls along with her husband, social reformer Jyotirao Phule. 
  •  She went on to establish a shelter for widows in 1854 which she further built on in 1864 to also accommodate destitute women and child brides cast aside by their families. 
  • Phule also played a pivotal role in directing the work of the Satyashodhak Samaj, formed by her husband with the objective to achieve equal rights for the marginalised lower castes.
  • She took over the reins of the organisation after Jyotirao’s death in 1890.
  • Savitribai opened a clinic in 1897 for victims of the bubonic plague that spread across Maharashtra just before the turn of the century. 
  •  She is said to have personally cared for patients, as a result of which she contracted the disease herself.

Ken-Betwa river-linking project faces new hurdle
A new hurdle has come in the way of the marquee Ken-Betwa river interlink project in its terms of financing.

  • The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) has recommended that Madhya Pradesh contribute 40 per cent of the project cost, with the Centre contributing 60 per cent. The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) has opposed this and requested that 90 per cent of the funds be routed through the Centre.
  • A lack of clarity on the funding pattern could mean more delays to the Rs. 10,000-crore project that would be the first ever Inter-State river interlinking project.

Background

  • The project was given a go-ahead by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) at a meeting chaired by Minister of State for Environment and Forests last August. 
  • An environment clearance panel has, according to officials in the water ministry, also cleared the project on 30th December.
  • This will be the first time that a river project will be located within a tiger reserve

About Ken-Betwa Link Project

  • Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers (ILR) project will benefit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in terms of meeting irrigation, drinking water and electricity needs of people across six districts in the two states.
  • The Ken-Betwa link is one of the 30 inter-linking of river (ILR) projects, conceived by the Centre. The project had got a green signal from the Supreme Court following the tripartite MoU involving UP, MP and Centre.
  • The Ken-Betwa ILR project will transfer surplus water from the Ken river to the Betwa basin through a 221-km canal. The concrete canal will pass through Jhansi, Banda and Mahoba districts of UP and Chhatarpur, Panna and Tikamgarh districts of MP.

14th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas from today

The stage is set for one of the largest gatherings of the Indian diaspora as the 14th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya divas will kickstart in Bengaluru.

Youth PBD

  • Youth Pravaasi Divas was inaugurated along with PBD. Youth PBD seeks to reconnect young overseas Indians with their Indian roots and enhance their awareness of both contemporary India and the culture and heritage of India.
  •  The theme of YPD will be "Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India.” 
  • Youth PBD will see participation of 160 Indian origin youth visiting under four of our "Know India” programs, 250 graduate and postgraduate students from the National Service Scheme and 200 students from Bengaluru colleges.

About PBD

  •  It  is celebrated in India on 9 January every other to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India. 
  • The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay on 9 January 1915.
  • Established in 2003, it is sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs of the government of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region of India.
  •  A celebratory event is held on 7–9 January every other year in an Indian city.
  • A forum for issues concerning the Indian Diaspora is organised and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are given.

About Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award

  • The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Honour/Award) is an award constituted by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India in conjunction with the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-Resident Indian Day).
  •  To honour exceptional and meritorious contribution in their chosen field/profession. The award is given by the President of India.

Telangana plea against Krishna tribunal award dismissed
The Supreme Court dismissed a Telangana government petition against a decision of the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal-II to limit the re-allocation of the river water only to the two successor States of Andhra and Telangana, and not dabble with the share of water enjoyed by the other two riparian States — Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal

  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) is a tribunal set up by the government of India in 1969 under the Interstate River Water Disputes Act of 1956 to resolve the disputes between the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh over sharing of Krishna river water.
  • The KWDT I was headed by R. S Bachawat, a former judge of the Supreme Court.
  • KWDT II was headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar. GoI extended the term of KWDT-2 by two years with effect from 1-8-2014 to adjudicate on fresh terms of references as stated in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014

Army enthused by new indigenous artillery gun

The Army has given the thumbs-up to a heavy artillery gun, Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, in collaboration with the private sector.

About ATAGS

  • ATAGS is a 155-mm, 52-calibre towed artillery gun being developed in mission mode for the Army’s artillery modernisation programme.
  •  It was designed by the DRDO’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune.
  •  Bharat Forge Ltd. of the Kalyani Group, Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division and Mahindra Defence Naval System from the private sector are involved in a big way, along with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), in the project.

20th National Youth Festival being held in Chhattisgarh
The 20th National Youth Festival was inaugurated on January 12, 2016 in at the upcoming-capital, Naya Raipur of Chhattisgarh.

  • The theme for the National Youth Festival 2016 is 'India Youth for Skill, Development and Harmony'
  • For the first time in the youth fest, para-trooping would be displayed by Indian Army while weapons and explosives used during war will also be put on exhibition.

About National Youth Festival

  • The National Youth Festival in India is an annual gathering of youth with various activities including competitive ones. Celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of youth icon Swami Vivekananda.
  • It is organized by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India in collaboration with one of the State Governments.
  • The National Youth Festival began in 1995 as a major activity under the programme of National Integration Camp (NIC). 
  • In collaboration with one of the States and institutions like Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and the National Service Scheme (NSS), the Government of India conducts this programme every year.
  • The centre of the festival focuses on cultural aspects and a number of other programmes covering a wide variety of activities, which not only reflect the spirit of friendship but also peace and development. 
  •  Besides all this, this festival provides a nationwide exposure to the youth for the expression and fulfilment of their cultural talents and aspirations

Successful Test Firing of Guided PINAKA 

DRDO successfully test fired the Guided PINAKA from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur

  • PINAKA Rocket Mark-II, equipped with navigation, guidance and control kit, is transformed to a Guided PINAKA. The conversion has facilitated to enhance the range and improve the accuracy of PINAKA.
  • The guided PINAKA is developed combinedly by ARDE Pune, RCI and DRDL, Hyderabad. ITR, Chandipur provided the range and launch support. 

About PINAKA

  •  Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Indian Army. 
  • The system has a maximum range of 40 km for Mark-I and 65 km for Mark-II, The system is mounted on a Tatra truck for mobility.
  • Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralising enemy positions on the mountain tops.

Salient features
•    Use of state-of-the-art technologies for improved combat performance
•    Total operational time optimised for shoot & scoot capability
•    Cabin pressurisation for crew protection in addition to blast shields
•    Microprocessor-based fully automatic positioning and fire control console
•    Night vision devices for driver and crew
•    Neutralisation/destruction of the exposed troop concentrations, ‘B’ vehicles and other such soft targets
•    Neutralisation of enemy guns/rocket locations
•    Laying of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines at a short notice.

Silicon identified as 'missing element' in Earth's core
Silicon likely makes up a significant proportion of the Earth's core after iron and nickel, say scientists who claim to have identified the 'missing element' in the deep interiors of our planet that has eluded us for decades.

According to scientists silicon is a major element - about 5 per cent (of the Earth's inner core) by weight could be silicon dissolved into the iron-nickel alloys.

About Earth’s Interior:

  • It is mainly composed of iron, which makes up about 85 per cent of its weight and nickel, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the core.
  •  It is far too deep to investigate directly, so scientists studied the propagation of seismic waves. 

How did they found Silicon’s evidence

  • To study the unaccounted five per cent of the core, researchers created alloys of iron and nickel and mixed them with silicon.
  • They then subjected them to the immense pressures and temperatures that exist in the inner core. 
  •  They discovered that this mixture matched what was seen in the Earth’s interior with seismic data.

Ministry of Earth Sciences Commissions Higher Resolution Weather Prediction Model 
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has commissioned a very high resolution (12 km) global deterministic weather prediction model for generating operational weather forecasts. The model has been on trial since September 2016.

The present model replaces the earlier version which had a horizontal resolution of 25 km.  It was very helpful, especially in predicting the track and the intensity of the recent Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Vardah and the cold wave over the northern parts of India.

Other key facts

  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) provides Weather, Climate and Hydrological Services to various users round the year and 24/7.
  • Both operational and research aspects for these services are implemented through its constituent units India Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS).
  • Focused research and development activities have been carried out at IITM, NCMRWF and IMD on weather prediction model development and data assimilation methods
  •  MoES’s operational Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) will also be upgraded to 12 km. 
  • The EPS is adopted to overcome the problem of uncertainties in the forecasts. It involves the generation of multiple forecasts using slightly varying initial conditions. The EPS also help generate probabilistic forecasts and quantify the uncertainties.

Centre sets up a negotiation panel on river Mahanadi and its tributaries

Seeking to resolve disputes over sharing of river waters among five states including Odisha, the Centre has constituted a negotiation committee to assess availability and utilisation of waters of Mahanadi and its tributaries and asked it to submit its report within three months.

Major key facts

  • The committee, constitued by the Union water resources ministry, will also examine existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and will consider claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand regarding availability and utilisation of waters of these rivers.
  • The committee has been set up with reference to complaint of state of Odisha under section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Dispute (ISRWD) Act, 1956 regarding utilisation of waters of Mahandi basin.

Members of committee

  •  The committee will be chaired by member (water planning and projects) of the Central Water Commission (CWC).
  •  It will have 11 other members comprising representatives from the state governments of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
  • Officials from Union ministries of agriculture, environment, water resoucres and earth sciences (India Meteorological Department) will also be members of the committee.
  • The members of the committee will visit all the five states and do consultations with experts for making its report.

Government to support Tangaliya weavers in purchasing looms: Textiles Minister
Government of India will facilitate Tangaliya weavers in purchase of looms, by providing them an assistance amounting to 90% of the price of looms. 

The Minister also announced the formation of a special association of Tangaliya workers, which will work for their interest. 

About Tangaliya

  • Tangaliya a dotted woven textile of Surendranagar district, Saurashtra is found only in Gujarat, is usually worn as a wraparound skirt by the women of the Bharwad shephered community.
  • Tangalia designs are used for preparing Shawl, Dupatta, Dress material and products of Home décor & accessories such as bedsheets, pillow covers etc.
  • The patterns formed during weaving process to creat design in dots for floral and geometrical motifs by using cotton or woolen yarn.

Transparency International puts India in Red Zone for corruption
Transparency International has placed India in the 'Red Zone' for failing to curb mega corruption scandals and petty bribery.

Major key facts

  •  2016 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report, the annual index of Transparency International was released in Berlin wherein India has scored 40 points out of 100 and has been placed with Brazil and China.
  •  It said that the country's economy was growing but along with that, inequality is also growing.
  • The score of 40 means that India has been placed in the Red zone - the high corruption zone. Though India has improved the position by two points, but continues to remain in the same red-zone of corruption.
  • In terms of rankings, however, India has improved by three positions from 76 to 79 and has been rated lower than all its neighbours except Bhutan.
  • The report deemed New Zealand and Denmark to be the least corrupt nations with a score of 90 and Somalia was rated as the most corrupt country.

About CPI(Corruption Perception Index)

  • Transparency International (TI) has published the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) since 1995, annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys."
  • The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private benefit." 
  • Transparency International commissioned Johann Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau to produce the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

TROPEX 17

The Indian Navy’s Annual Theatre Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX) got underway on 24 Jan 17.

  • The month long exercise will have ships and aircraft of both the Western and Eastern Naval Commands, as also assets from the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard exercising together.
  •  The exercise is being conducted off the Western Seaboard.
  • TROPEX 17 assumes special significance in the backdrop of the current security scenario. The exercise is aimed at testing combat readiness of the combined fleets of the Indian Navy, and the assets of the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard.
  • It will also strengthen inter-operability and joint operations in a complex environment.
  • It was started in 2007 wherein Indian Navy experimented the doctrine of influencing a land and air battle to support the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

Sample Questions
Q1.Consider the following statements regarding 14th Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas.
1.    Youth Pravasi Divas was also inaugurated along with PBD.
2.    The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay on 9 January 1915.
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1             b)Only 2
c)Both               d)None


Q2.Consider the following statement regarding Pinaka .
1.    Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
2.    Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralising enemy positions on the mountain tops.
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1                b)Only 2
c)both                   d)None


Q3.Corruption Perception Index is launched by 
a)    United Nations Development Programme
b)    World Economic Forum
c)    Transparency International
d)    World Bank


Q4.Consider the following statement regarding Savitribai Phule
1.    Phule is widely regarded as one of India’s first generation modern feminists for her significant contributions in ensuring equal education opportunities.
2.    She became the first female teacher in India in 1848 and opened a school for girls
3.    Phule also played a pivotal role in directing the work of the Satyashodhak Samaj
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1 ,2                b)Only2,3
c)Only 1,3                 d)All


Answers
Q1.c       Q2.c        Q3.c      Q4.d