Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 December 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 December 2016


Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


First ‘water-wave laser’ created by scientists in Israel


Scientists have created the first ‘water-wave laser’ that emits a beam through the interaction of light and water waves.


How a typical laser is created?

A typical laser can be created when the electrons in atoms become “excited” by energy absorbed from an outside source, causing them to emit radiation in the form of laser light.


How was the new laser created?

Usually, there is a huge difference between the low frequency of water waves on the surface of a liquid and the high frequency of light wave oscillations. This frequency difference reduces the efficiency of the energy transfer between light and water waves, which is needed to produce the laser emission.

  • To compensate for this low efficiency, the researchers created a device in which an optical fibre delivers light into a tiny droplet of octane and water.
  • Here, light waves and water waves pass through each other many times (about one million times) inside the droplet, generating the energy that leaves the droplet as the emission of the water-wave laser.
  • The interaction between the fibre optic light and the miniscule vibrations on the surface of the droplet are like an echo, where the interaction of sound waves and the surface they pass through can make a single scream audible several times.
  • In order to increase this echo effect in their device, the researchers used highly transparent, runny liquids, to encourage light and droplet interactions. Furthermore, a drop of water is a million times softer than the materials used in current laser technology.
  • The minute pressure applied by light can therefore cause droplet deformation that is a million times greater than in a typical optomechanical device, which may offer greater control of the laser’s emissions and capabilities.  


Significance of this discovery:

The study conducted by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is the first bridge between two areas of research that were previously considered unrelated to one another: nonlinear optics and water waves.


Potential applications:

  • For now, the water-wave laser offers a “playground” for scientists studying the interaction of light and fluid at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair.
  • In future, the laser could be used in tiny sensors that combine light waves, sound and water waves.
  • The laser may also be used in ‘lab-on-a-chip’ devices to study cell biology and test new drug therapies.

Sources: toi.


Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


India’s first private moon mission next year


TeamIndus, a Bengaluru-based private aerospace company, is all set to send a spacecraft to the moon in December, 2017, aboard an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket.


About the mission:

The mission’s aim is to land this spacecraft on the moon, have it travel at least 500 metres and beam high- definition video, images and data back to the earth.

  • Except for the launch vehicle, all of the technology that will power the rover and lander is developed in-house by TeamIndus. ISRO’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) would launch the spacecraft in December 2017.
  • After completing a rotation around the earth, the satellite will ideally land in 21 days at Mare Imbrium, a region in the North-Western hemisphere of the Moon.
  • The mission requires $60 million (approx. Rs. 450 crore) and company officials say they have so far tied in $15 million (approx. Rs. 100 crore) as equity funding. They hope to make up the rest of the money, through 2017, by leasing out spare space in the spacecraft for organisations wanting to conduct experiments and also through crowd-funding.



TeamIndus has high-profile investors, including Ratan Tata of the Tata Group and is a 100-member team of engineers, space enthusiasts, former Air Force pilots and former ISRO employees.

  • It is one of the four international teams — and the only one from India — in the running for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million (approx. Rs. 200 crore) competition, to encourage private companies to launch space missions.
  • Two U.S.-based companies, Moon Express and Synergy Moon and one Israeli company — SPACE 1 L — have so far announced agreements with space-launch-vehicle companies such as SpaceX. Other than technical requirements, the prize rules also require that companies be 90% privately funded.
  • The launch agreements are a prerequisite to be in the reckoning for the prize and also require contenders to launch their vehicles before December 28, 2017. TeamIndus is the only one so far to have announced a firm launch date.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


U.S. for closer defence ties with India


The U.S Congress is planning to pass the National Defence Authorisation Act 2017 shortly. The draft in this regard was recently released.



NDAA seeks executive action to “recognise India’s status as a major defence partner of the United States.” The U.S has already recognised India as a “major defence partner” in June, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, but the implications of it remains undefined.


NDAA 2017 on India-US defence ties:

It mandates to “designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defense acquisition and technology” to ensure the success of bilateral defence ties and “to help resolve remaining issues impeding” them.

It also calls for “strengthening the effectiveness of the U.S.-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative and the durability of the Department of Defence’s “India Rapid Reaction Cell,” a special unit that reviews ties with India.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.


Anthem redux: How it came back in play


Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that all cinemas in the country must play the national anthem prior to the screening of a film, with all doors closed. The order has become a talking point among millions of cinema-goers who visit thousands of theatres that dot India’s landscape where numerous films are screened every day.


Key facts:

Which are the States that have already made it compulsory for theatres to do so?

  • Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Goa are among the States that have passed orders to this effect.


Under what law did these States make it mandatory?

The States have done this under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. The Act got presidential assent on December 23, 1971. It has been amended twice since then.

  • The Act, which addresses insults to the Constitution, the national flag and the national anthem, has its genesis in Article 51 (a) of the Constitution, which enjoins a duty on every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem.
  • The Act states that whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the national anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.


Why was the Act given punitive provisions?

The objects and reasons for this Act said that cases involving deliberate disrespect to these national symbols were discussed in both Houses of Parliament and members urged the government to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.


Can the recent interim order of the Supreme Court be reviewed?

Yes, those aggrieved can file a modification application to address the omissions and contradictions in the recent Supreme Court Order.


Who can file the interventions?

The Cinema Owners Exhibitors’ Association of India can, for instance, plead that the order is in contradiction of an earlier Supreme Court order ordering cinema theatres to keep their doors open, after a fire killed 59 people in Uphaar Theatre in 1997. Organisations of differently abled people can seek exemptions from the order.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Delhi HC quashes government ban on fixed dose combination drugs


The Delhi high court has scrapped a government ban on popular drugs such as Corex, Saridon and Vicks Action 500 and called it a haphazard decision, underlining the uncertainties that dog India’s large but under-regulated medical sector.

  • With this, the banned drugs – including D’Cold, Benadryl and Phensedyl that are widely used to treat headaches and colds – will continue be available freely in the market.



Many of these drugs went off the market after the health ministry banned 344 fixed-dose combination drugs in March but were back on shop shelves after pharma companies obtained a judicial stay on the order.


Why these drugs were banned?

The health ministry had banned these fixed-dose combination medicines over fears that they cause anti-microbial resistance and might even cause organ-failure because of high toxicity.


How the government defends its move?

The Centre defends its decision saying these medicines are potential health and safety hazards. It said the ban impacting over 6,000-odd brands was aimed at curbing the misuse of medicines.


What the companies say?

The companies contend that no enquiry was made from them or show cause notice issued prior to the notification. They said drug in the same combination is being marketed in other countries also.


Why did the court set aside the ban?

The court observed that the decision was taken by the Centre without following procedure prescribed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. It noted that the government had not consulted the Drugs Technical Advisory Board or the Drugs Consultative Committee but had acted on the advice of a ‘technical committee’, which, they said, violated the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Further, it said, that under Section 26A of the Drugs Act, a drug can be banned only after the licence holder of that drug is given a three-month notice. The court also said that the “manner in which the proceedings till the issuance of the Notification have gone, does not suggest any such grave urgency (to ban the drugs)” since most of these FDCs had been available for long.


What are FDC drugs?

Fixed-dose combination drugs, or FDCs, combine two or more drugs in a single pill and are widely used to improve patient compliance as it is easier to get someone to take one drug than several.


What’s the concern?

India is one of the world’s largest markets for fixed dose combination drugs that make up almost half the market share but medical experts say most of them are irrational, that is they haven’t been approved by the national regulator. Many of them slip through India’s labyrinthine regulation process with agencies at the central and state level, which often don’t coordinate.


What next?

The quashing of the notification does not imply that the drugs will now be available in the market. The Centre may challenge the judgment in the Supreme Court or take the steps prescribed under the Drugs Act. Also, the Supreme Court is in the process of hearing a plea filed by the Central government to transfer all cases challenging the March 10 notification before itself — pharma companies had challenged the ban before the Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore high courts.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


UNESCO inscribes Yoga in the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

  • Yoga, India’s one of the ancient practices has now been inscribed as an element in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity.
  • This decision was taken during the recently held 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • During this session, India’s proposal for inscribing Yoga as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was unanimously supported by all the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee.
  • Yoga has become the 13th intangible cultural heritage that has been listed from India so far with UNESCO.
  • Previous ones includes the Chhau dance (Inscribed in 2010), the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh, Sankirtana –the ritual singing, drumming, and dancing of Manipur, the traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab and Ramlila- the traditional performance of the Ramayana.
  • The list of intangible cultural treasures was created 10 years ago, mainly to increase awareness about them, while Unesco also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.


Asia’s first cycle highway now in Uttar Pradesh:

  • Uttar Pradesh now has Asia’s first cycle highway.
  • A first-of-its-kind project, the 207-km-long cycle highway runs between Etawah and Agra.
  • Constructed by the UP public works department, the cycle highway runs parallel to the main highway and is about 7-feet-wide. A divider in between ensures the safety of cyclists.
  • Along the way from Etawah to Agra, it dots 92 villages.


Vittiya Saksharata Abhiyan:

It was recently launched by the government. The Abhiyan aims at making people aware about the cashless economic system.