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20th April 2022

India's first unmanned Earth satellite 'Aryabhata' shot into space on April 19, 1975

Context

April 19 is a special day for India's space mission, as on this day in 1975, India's first unmanned Earth satellite, Aryabhata, was shot into space.

About

Aryabhata

  • The Aryabhata spacecraft, named after the famous Indian astronomer, was India's first satellite.
  • It was completely designed and fabricated in India and launched by a Soviet Kosmos-3M rocket from Kapustin Yar on April 19, 1975.

Mission

Scientific/ Experimental

Weight

360 kg

On board power

46 Watts

Communication

VHF band

Stabilization

Spinstabilize

Payload

X-ray Astronomy Aeronomy & Solar Physics

Launch date

April 19, 1975

Launch site

Volgograd Launch Station

(presently in Russia)

Launch vehicle

C-1 Intercosmos

Orbit

563 x 619 km

Inclination

50.7 deg

Mission life

6 months(nominal), Spacecraft mainframe active till March,1981

Orbital Life

Nearly seventeen years

(Re-entered on February 10,1992)

  • India became world's 11th nation and the second developing country after China to orbit a satellite.
  • The mission was X-ray astronomy for the detection and study of X-ray emission from outer space, study of solar neutron and gamma rays emanating from the sun, and study of aeronomy including ionosphere.
  • All faces (except the top and bottom) were covered with solar cells. A power failure halted experiments after 4 days in orbit.

What the increase in MCLR means for you, your loan

Context

State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest commercial bank, recently raised the marginal cost of funds-based lending rates (MCLR) for the first time in three years, signalling that the soft rates regime that has prevailed since 2019 may be over.

About

About Marginal Cost of Funds-Based Lending Rates (MCLR):

  • The marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) is the minimum interest rate that a bank can lend at.
  • MCLR is determined internally by the bank depending on the period left for the repayment of a loan.
  • The RBI introduced the MCLR methodology for fixing interest rates from 1 April 2016. It replaced the base rate structure, which had been in place since July 2010.
  • It is applicable to fresh corporate loans and floating rate loans taken before October 2019.
  • RBI then switched to the external benchmark linked lending rate (EBLR) system where lending rate is linked to benchmark rates like repo or Treasury Bill rates.

What changes will be seen after increase in MCLR?

  • EMIs are set to rise
    • As a result of the increase in MCLR, borrowers who have taken home, vehicle, and personal loans will find their equated monthly instalments (EMIs) rising in the coming months.
    • With the RBI set to withdraw the accommodative policy (the willingness to expand money supply to boost economic growth), lending rates are expected to rise further in the coming months.
  • Interest rates will rise
    • According to bankers, the gradual tightening of money supply in the financial system is expected to push up interest rates.
    • The “extraordinary” liquidity measures undertaken in the wake of the pandemic, combined with the liquidity injected through various other operations of the RBI have left a liquidity overhang of the order of Rs 8.5 lakh crore in the system.
    • With retail inflation hitting 6.95% in March and wholesale inflation at 14.55%, the central bank is expected to take measures to bring down prices.
    • The tightening of the accommodative policy is normally accompanied by a rise in interest rates in the system. 
  • Banks expect a repo rate hike
    • Banks expect the repo rate — the main policy rate — to go up from June onwards as the RBI seeks to suck out liquidity from the system to rein in inflation.
    • In April 2022, the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee restored the policy rate corridor under the liquidity adjustment facility to the pre-pandemic width of 50 bps by introducing the Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) at 3.75 as the floor of this corridor.
    • SDF is an additional tool employed by the RBI to absorb excess liquidity. In essence, overnight rates were hiked to 3.75%.
  • Deposit rates will also rise
    • According to the SBI research report, deposit rates are likely to “increase meaningfully” over the next one-two months.
    • SBI now offers 5.10% interest in the 1-2-year bucket. This means a fixed deposit holder is sitting on a negative return of 185 basis points, as inflation is now at 6.95%.
    • Deposit rates in the 1-3-year bucket have fallen from 8.75-9.25% in 2013-14 to 4.90-5.15% in 2021-22, according to an RBI study on five major banks. 

NASA shares picture of Martian sunrise clicked by InSight rover

Context

NASA has recently shared an interesting image of a Martian sunrise captured on the planet by the space agency’s InSight rover.

About

About InSight rover:

  • InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), is a Mars lander which is the first robotic explorer to study the crust, mantle and core of Mars.
  • The InSight rover has two primary science objectives:
  • to understand the formation and evolution of the terrestrial planet by investigating the interior structure and processes of Mars and
  • to determine the present level of tectonic activity and meteorite impact rate on the planet
  • Apart from helping learn how Mars was formed, understanding its patterns will also help prepare for human exploration of the planet.
  • It uses its instruments to dig deep beneath the surface of the red planet and seek the ‘fingerprints’ of the process that formed the planet.
  • To do this, it measures the planet’s “vital signs”: seismology, heat flow and precision tracking.

Other similar missions on mars:

  • The InSight rover is not NASA’s only robotic helper on the planet: both the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity mars helicopter are also on the planet, making observations and collecting data.
  • Both are part of the American space agency’s 2020 Mars Exploration Program and landed on Mars in February, 2021.
    • The Perseverance rover’s main task is to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (soil) for a possible return to earth.
    • Ingenuity is a small robotic solar-powered helicopter that is a technological demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars. It rode to Mars attached to the Perseverance rover.

Punjab to use ancient broadcasting technique to grow rice this Kharif, save groundwater

Context

The Punjab government has decided to bring an area of 1.2 million hectare (mha) of under the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) method in the upcoming Kharif sowing season to conserve water while sowing paddy.

This is double the area that was sown under DSR in 2021 (0.6 mha).

About

Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) method:                       

  • DSR is direct seeding of rice in which seeds are sown in the field rather than by transplanting seedlings from the nursery.
  • It aims to sow short duration and high yield varieties.
  • It is done through DSR machines which are used for planting seeds of rice directly into the fields.
  • DSR is also called the ‘broadcasting seed technique’, under which seeds are directly drilled in the fields.
  • The field is laser levelled and pre-sowing (rauni) irrigation is done.
  • The field is prepared to optimum soil moisture condition and paddy (non-basmati) is seeded immediately.
  • This technique saves groundwater and thus electricity, as opposed to the traditional water-intensive method.
  • It can help reduce water consumption by as much as 35 per cent over the traditional process of transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery to waterlogged fields.

Transplanting Paddy:

  • In transplanting paddy, farmers prepare nurseries where the paddy seeds are first sown and raised into young plants.
  • The nursery seed bed is 5-10% of the area to be transplanted.
  • These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the puddled field.

Rice

  • Rice is a staple food for the overwhelming majority of the population in India.
  • It is a kharif crop which requires high temperature, (above 25°C) and high humidity with annual rainfall above 100 cm.
    • In the areas of less rainfall, it is grown with the help of irrigation.
  • In southern states and West Bengal the climatic conditions allow the cultivation of two or three crops of rice in an agricultural year.
    • In West Bengal farmers grow three crops of rice called ‘aus’, ‘aman’ and ‘boro’.
  • About one-fourth of the total cropped area in India is under rice cultivation.
    • Leading producer states: West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
    • High Yielding States: Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Kerala.
  • Punjab and Haryana are not traditional rice growing areas.
    • Rice Cultivation in the irrigated areas of Punjab and Haryana was introduced in the 1970s following the Green Revolution.
    • Almost the entire land under rice cultivation in Punjab and Haryana is irrigated.

 

Great Indian Bustards vs great Indian green energy quest

Context

Windmills and solar plants have become a part of the Jaisalmer landscape threatening the natural habitat of the great Indian bustard along with other bird and animal species.

About

The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) or Godavan

  • Scientific Name: Ardeotis nigriceps
  • Heaviestof the flying birds.
  • These birds are often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck.
  • Habitat:Arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain. It avoids irrigated areas.
  • Distribution:
  • The Species were formerly widespread across India and Pakistan.
  • However, at present, its population is estimated to be of less than 200 across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Typically, it is found in Kutch (Gujarat), Solapur and Chandrapur (Maharashtra), Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh), Bellary (Karnataka), and in pockets of Rajasthan, primarily concentrated near the Desert National Park (DNP).

Major Reasons for decline in Population:

  • Loss of Habitatdue to increase in population, agriculture and infrastructure development etc.
  • GIBs are large in size and usually take low flights which often result in deaths due to collision with electricity transmission lines.
  • The habitat is under threat due to the zigzag web of high-tension power lines through the sacred groves of Jaisalmer. 
  • Stray dogswhich are known to attack the bustard’s eggs and young ones.
    Poaching outside the protected areas.

Protected areas dedicated to GIB

  • Rajasthan: Desert National Park– Jaisalmer and Balmer
  • Gujarat: Naliya Sanctuaryin Kutch
  • Madhya Pradesh: Karera Wildlife Sanctuary(The species disappeared from Madhya Pradesh in early 90s’)
  • Maharashtra: Nannaj Grasslands, Solapur
  • Andhra Pradesh: Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary

Conservation Status

  • Listed under Critically EndangeredCategory of IUCN Red List.
  • Listed in Schedule Iof the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES.
  • Identified for the species recovery program under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats Scheme.
  • It is declared as state bird of Rajasthan.

Researchers successfully use cost-effective Cherenkov radiation device to detect cancer

Context

Researchers have successfully developed a cost-effective method to detect cancer using Cherenkov radiation.

About

About Cherenkov radiation:

  • Cherenkov radiation is a particular kind of radiation that is emitted by charged particles (like electrons) when they pass through some mediums.
  • A good example of this kind of radiation is the characteristic blue glow of underwater nuclear reactors.
  • A new research has successfully used this kind of radiation to detect and locate the presence of cancer in patients.
  • The Cherenkov radiation is analogous with the more well-known sonic boom effect.
    • If an aircraft moves slower than the sound speed in a medium, the air deflection is smooth around the wings of the aircraft.
    • However if the motion speed exceeds the medium sound velocity, then a sudden pressure change would happen and shock waves propagate away from the aircraft in a cone at the speed of sound.
  • A Cherenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) procedure where charged particles released by the system cause the target tissue (the tumour) to vibrate and stop vibrating in such a way that they emit light which can be captured by a camera.
  • Advantage: It is much cheaper to purchase and use than current nuclear imaging technology.
  • Disadvantage: CLI images are not nearly as precise as those from PET/CT scans but the researchers believe that CLI can be used as an initial diagnostic test or assessment.

Editorial

Why is there no debate in Parliament?

The Monsoon Session of the Indian Parliament in 2021 saw the Lok Sabha clearing over 18 bills with about 34 minutes of discussion for each. The Essential Defence Services Bill (2021), enabling the government to prohibit strikes, lockouts and lay-offs in units in the defence industry, saw 12 minutes of debate in the Lok Sabha, while the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill (2021) had just five minutes of debate (PRS India, 2021). Not one bill was referred to a parliamentary committee. 

Deliberation on legislation

  • Feature of parliamentary democracy-Deliberation on legislation is a design feature of parliamentary democracy. India’s constituent assembly debates to frame the Constitution were initiated in December 1946 and went on for 166 days, wrapping up only by January 1950. 
  • Quality of legislation -When parliamentary proceedings have time set aside for such debates, the quality of legislation improves, while enabling consensus. 
  • Benefits- Ideally, parliamentary conventions would be upheld and strengthened, with free votes allowed for MPs, and the process of deliberation revived.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 20th April 2022

Mains Question:

Q.-Do you agree that in the race to achieve ambitious solar and wind energy capacity, the value of ecosystem should not be undervalued.  Give reasons in support of your answer (250 words)

Approach

  • Introduction- brief India’s target for renewable energy
  • Initiatives taken by government in this regard
  • Threat to biodiversity due to energy plants (high voltage line, space coverage)
  • Give example of Degrai Oran
  • Challenges (lack of regulation of power companies, more focus on profits)
  • Required measures (strict govt policies, effective regulations)
  • Conclude accordingly
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