National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS Exams- 22nd July 2019
Gravitational Wave and LIGO
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: In collaboration with LIGO, a gravitational wave detector is being set up in Maharashtra, India. The LIGO India project is expected to join the international network in a first science run in 2025.
More on the Topic:
- The acronym LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
- LIGO consists of a pair of huge interferometers, each having two arms which are 4 km long. Remarkable precision is needed to detect a signal as faint as a gravitational wave, and the two LIGO detectors work as one unit to ensure this.
- Naturally, this requires weeding out noise very carefully, for when such a faint signal is being detected, even a slight human presence near the detector could derail the experiment by drowning out the signal.
- LIGO, unlike usual telescopes, does not “see” the incoming ripples in spacetime. It does not even need to, because gravitational waves are not a part of electromagnetic spectrum or light.
- They are not light waves but a different phenomenon altogether, a stretching of spacetime due to immense gravity.
- A single LIGO detector cannot confidently detect this disturbance on its own. At least two detectors are needed.
- This is because the signal is so weak that even a random noise could give out a signal that can mislead one into thinking a genuine gravitational wave has been detected. It is because two detectors have detected the faint signal in coincidence that the observer is convinced it is a genuine reading and not noise.
About Gravitational Waves:
- In Einstein’s general theory of relativity, gravity is treated as being a result of space and time bending in the presence of mass.
- Gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime travelling at the speed of light. They’re produced when bodies with mass accelerate, changing the curvature in spacetime around them, with those changes then spreading outwards from their source as waves.
- Gravitational waves passing through an object distort that object’s shape, stretching and squeezing it in the direction the wave is travelling.
- Gravitational wave detectors can pick up these distortions by splitting laser light into two perpendicular beams that travel for several kilometres before being reflected back to a detector.
- Any differences in the wavelength of the two parts of the beam indicate a distortion suggestive of gravitational waves.
- The Ligo detectors on which a group of physicists claims to have detected gravitational waves began operating in 2002 and was upgraded in 2015.
Why does one study gravitational waves?
- The gravitational waves that LIGO seeks to detect are caused by some of the most energetic events in the Universe colliding black holes, merging neutron stars, exploding stars, and possibly even the birth of the Universe itself.
- Detecting and analyzing the information carried by gravitational waves is now allowing us to observe the Universe in a way never before possible.
- It has opened up a new window of study and has already given us a deeper understanding of cataclysmic events and ushered in exciting new research in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics.
- Historically, scientists have relied almost exclusively on electromagnetic (EM) radiation (visible light, X-rays, radio waves, microwaves, etc.) to study the Universe (some are trying to use subatomic particles, called neutrinos, as well).
- Gravitational waves, however, are completely unrelated to EM radiation. They are as distinct from EM radiation as hearing is to vision. Thus, they are unique messengers of information about cosmic events. Having this new ‘sense’ with which to observe the Universe is important because things like colliding black holes are utterly invisible to EM astronomers. To LIGO, however, such events are beacons in the vast cosmic sea.
Model Mains Question: What is gravitational waves? Why it is important to detect them?
Source: Hindu , LIGO caltech
In News: Chandipura virus was detected in Gujarat.
More on the Topic:
- The Chandipura virus was discovered by 2 Pune-based virologists of the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in 1965.
- The Chandipura Vesiculovirus (CHPV) predominantly affects children.
- The virus spreads mainly through the bite of sand flies and sometimes through mosquitoes.
- The symptoms include sudden high fever accompanied by headache, convulsions and vomiting, sometimes leading to unconsciousness.
- Cases have mostly been reported during monsoon and pre-monsoon, when sand flies breed.
Source: Hindu, wikipedia
Skill India Mission
Topic: Government Policies
In News: Under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) component of PMKVY 2.0, up skilling of farmers have been made via bridge course training in the job roles namely organic grower, dairy farmer, pulses cultivator etc.
More on the Topic:
- The main goal of the mission is to create opportunities, space and scope for the development of the talents of the Indian youth and to develop more of those sectors which have already been put under skill development for the last so many years and also to identify new sectors for skill development.
- The programme aims at providing training and skill development to 500 million youth of our country by 2020, covering each and every village. Various schemes are also proposed to achieve this objective.
- The emphasis is to skill the youths in such a way so that they get employment and also improve entrepreneurship. Provides training, support and guidance for all occupations that were of traditional type like carpenters, cobblers, welders, blacksmiths, masons, nurses, tailors, weavers etc.
- More emphasis will be given on new areas like real estate, construction, transportation, textile, gem industry, jewellery designing, banking, tourism and various other sectors, where skill development is inadequate or nil.
- The training programmes would be on the lines of international level so that the youths of our country can not only meet the domestic demands but also of other countries.
- Another remarkable feature of the ‘Skill India’ programme would be to create a hallmark called ‘Rural India Skill’, so as to standardise and certify the training process.
- It will align employer/industry demand and workforce productivity with trainees’ aspirations for sustainable livelihoods, by creating a framework for outcome focused training.
- It will build capacity for skill development in critical un-organized sectors (such as the construction sector, where there few opportunities for skill training) and provide pathways for re-skilling and up-skilling workers in these identified sectors, to enable them to transition into formal sector employment.
- It also seeks to develop a network of quality instructors/trainers in the skill development ecosystem by establishing high quality teacher training institutions. Maintain a national database, known as the Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which will act as a portal for matching the demand and supply of skilled workforce in the country.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 2.0:
- Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
- The objective of this Skill Certification Scheme is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood. Individuals with prior learning experience or skills will also be assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
- A government-appointed panel has found that the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) – spent over Rs 1,500 crore in skilling over 18 lakh people but failed to achieve key objectives. This puts in context the various facets of this flagship mission and the various issues concerned with it along with way forward.
- The targets allocated to them were very high and without regard to any sectoral requirement. Everybody was chasing numbers without providing employment to the youth or meeting sectoral industry needs.
- Evaluation conducted was inadequate regarding the outcomes of the scheme.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have pointed out flaws in the design and operations of the NSDC and National Skill Development Fund which has resulted in falling short of skill development goals. Majority of them also could not achieve the placement targets for the trained persons.
- The need is to have a holistic approach to vocational education and skill development by having a defined approach for both short-term and long-term training courses to meet the objectives of the Skill India programme.
- Core research, evaluation, data analytics and international partnerships need efficient handling, as a mere collection of raw data on various repositories may not portray the proper insights or serve any purpose.
- A clear understanding of trends in national economy, demographic parameters, heritage, culture and tradition(region-wise) and aspiration of people and other relevant indicators are essential before correlating the same for formulating new skilling strategies.
- For any skill development effort to succeed, markets and industry need to play a large role in determining courses, curriculum and relevance. For this, employers need to be put in the driving seat, with the government acting as a regulator and not the implementer.
- The government has its task cut out.
Source: PIB, Hindu
Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS)
Topic: E- Governance
In News: Among the many milestones recorded by Election Commission of India during the recently concluded Lok Sabha Election 2019, Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) is one of its kind.
More on the Topic:
- ETPBS is a fully secured system, having two security layers. Secrecy of voting is maintained through the use of OTP and PIN and no duplication of casted ETPB is possible due to the unique QR Code in the portal https://www. etpbs.in.
- Through this system the service voters cast their vote on an electronically received postal ballot, from anywhere outside their constituency, thus reducing the chances of losing the voting opportunity.
- The purpose of the online system was to create convenient and easy-to-use online system for Defense Personnel to become Service Voters. Service Voter turnout in 2014 was only 4%. E-postal ballot recorded 60.14% turnout in 2019
- With the motto of “no voter to be left behind”, Election Commission of India’s ETPBS has empowered and ensured all eligible service electors with their constitutional power to vote while performing their duty for the nation.
- Persons working in Central Forces under Arms Act and Government officials deployed in Embassies outside the country are classified as Service Voters and are provisioned for online enrolment.
Ban on antibiotic Colistin for food producing animals
In News:The Health Ministry has banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of antibiotic, Colistin and its formulations for food producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements in a bid to preserve the drug’s efficacy in humans.
More on the Topic:
- The ban has been imposed under provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
- The use of the drug Colistin and its formulations for food producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements is likely to involve risk to human beings.
- Following which the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), the government’s top advisory body on technical matters related to drugs in the country considered the matter and recommended prohibiting the said drug.
- Colistin is an antibiotic for therapeutic purpose in veterinary. But the drug is highly misused in poultry industry as a growth promoter for prophylactic purpose.
- One of the reason for antibiotic resistance in India is due to unwanted use of Colistin in poultry industry. The ban will prevent use of the drug for prophylactic use.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: India’s lightest and cheapest bullet proof jacket ‘Bhabha Kavach’ was displayed at the International Police Expo 2019
More on the Topic:
- The bullet proof jacket weighs just 6.6 kg (in comparison to traditional jackets which weigh around 17-kg).
- Bhabha Kavach was developed indigenously by Defence organizations like Ordnance Factory Board and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) with transfer of carbon-nanomaterial technology from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
- Bhabha Kavach is built from layers of high-density, high-tenacity polyethylene, which are fused together at high temperatures to form a thick, hard armour plate, which is then sprayed with BARC’s carbon nanomaterial.
- The material used in the jacket are hard boron carbide ceramics, carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer (polymer made up of two or other types of polymer).
Source: Business standard
Government e Marketplace (GeM)
In News: A government meeting was recently held to review and formulate an action plan for Government e Marketplace (GeM) to achieve a target for Rs. lakh crore Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) on GeM in FY 2019-20.
More on the Topic:
- GeM is a state-of-the-art national public procurement platform of Ministry of Commerce and Industries, that has used technology to remove entry barriers for bonafide sellers and has created a vibrant e-marketplace with a wide range of goods and services.
- GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
- It facilitates online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organisations / PSUs. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users, achieve the best value for their money.
Source : PIB and Vikaspedia