Insights Daily Current Events, 16 June 2016
Paper 2 Topic: infrastructure-airways.
Govt. clears civil aviation policy, makes flying cheaper
The Union Cabinet has cleared the Civil Aviation Policy in order to boost the domestic aviation sector and provide passenger-friendly fares.
- The Civil Aviation Ministry had sent the policy to the Cabinet for approval on June 3 after the government proposed a new draft in October 2015.
- This new policy aims at providing various benefits to domestic airline passengers.
- In a boost for domestic carriers, the government also amended what is called the 5/20 rule, which allowed only airlines that had operated for five years and had 20 aircraft in their fleets to fly internationally.
The Policy aims at:
- India to become 3rd largest civil aviation market by 2022 from 9th.
- Domestic ticketing to grow from 8 crore in 2015 to 30 crore by 2022.
- Airports having scheduled commercial flights to increase from 77 in 2016 to 127 by 2019.
- Cargo volumes to increase by 4 times to 10 million tonnes by 2027.
- Enhancing ease of doing business through deregulation, simplified procedures and e-governance.
- Promoting ‘Make In India’ in Civil Aviation Sector.
- Ensuring availability of quality certified 3.3 lakh skilled personnel by 2025.
WHAT’S THERE IN THE POLICY?
- Capping of fare: Rs 1,200 for 30 minutes and Rs 2,500 for hour-long flights.
- A single window for all aviation related transactions, complaints, etc.
- 5/20 rule scrapped. Under the new rules, airlines must still have 20 planes before they can fly internationally, but no longer need to have operated for five years.
- Start-up airlines can now fly abroad after operating at least 20 planes or 20 per cent of their total flying capacity, whichever is higher, on domestic routes.
- 2% levy on all air tickets to fund regional connectivity scheme and providing viability gap funding for airlines to encourage operations on regional routes.
- Restoration of air strips at a maximum cost of Rs 50 crore through Airports Authority of India (AAI).
- India will have an open-sky policy for countries beyond the 5,000-km radius from Delhi on a reciprocal basis. This means that airlines from European or Saarc countries will have unlimited access, in terms of number of flights and seats, to Indian airports, leading to increased flight frequencies with these countries.
- Permission for Indian carriers to get into code-sharing agreement with foreign carriers for any destination within India.
- More focus on ease-of-doing business as government plans to liberalise regime of regional flights.
- The government will look to develop about 350 dilapidated or underused airstrips across India into “no frills airports“.
- Four heli-hubs to be developed. Helicopter Emergency Medical Services to be facilitated
- Development of greenfield and brownfield airports by State government, private sector or in PPP mode to be encouraged.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Second breakthrough for LIGO detectors
For the second time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves — ripples through the fabric of space-time, created by extreme, cataclysmic events in the distant universe.
- Scientists at LIGO have determined that the incredibly faint ripple that eventually reached Earth was produced by two black holes colliding at half the speed of light, 1.4 billion light years away.
- The scientists detected the gravitational waves using the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) interferometers, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.
- While LIGO’s first detection, reported on Feb. 11, produced a clear peak, or “chirp,” in the data, this second signal was far subtler, generating a shallower waveform that was almost buried in the data. Using advanced data analysis techniques, the team determined that indeed, the waveform signaled a gravitational wave. A special technique called matched filtering invented in 1949 by Wiener had to be adapted for gravitational wave data analysis.
- The researchers calculated that the gravitational wave arose from the collision of two black holes, 14.2 and 7.5 times the mass of the sun. The signal picked up by LIGO’s detectors encompasses the final moments before the black holes merged. This cataclysm produced a more massive spinning black hole that is 20.8 times the mass of the sun.
- This second detection of gravitational waves, which once again confirms Einstein’s theory of general relativity, successfully tested LIGO’s ability to detect incredibly subtle gravitational signals.
The observatory, described as “the most precise measuring device ever built,” is actually two facilities in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. They were built and operated with funding from the National Science Foundation, which has spent $1.1 billion on LIGO over the course of several decades.
- The project is led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is supported by an international consortium of scientists and institutions.
What are Gravitational Waves?
Gravitational waves are the ripples in the pond of spacetime. The gravity of large objects warps space and time, or “spacetime” as physicists call it, the way a bowling ball changes the shape of a trampoline as it rolls around on it. Smaller objects will move differently as a result – like marbles spiraling toward a bowling-ball-sized dent in a trampoline instead of sitting on a flat surface.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India sets sights on gold in ocean
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a 15-year contract by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for undertaking exploration and other developmental activities related to polymetallic sulphides in the allotted area of 10,000 sq km.
- By signing the contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of polymetallic sulphides in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in Indian Ocean will be formalized.
- It will also enhance India’s presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.
- The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the participation of various national institutes and research laboratories and organisations.
- Previously, in 2002, the government was granted permission only to explore ocean regions and prospect for precious metals.
What are PMS?
Deep seabed polymetallic sulphides (PMS) containing iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, platinum in variable constitutions are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust discharged through mineralized chimneys. PMS in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic value.
- Initial estimated resource of polymetallic nodules on the site retained by India on the central Indian Ocean basin is 380 million tonnes with 0.55 tonnes of cobalt, 4.7 tonnes of nickel, 4.29 tonnes of copper and 92.59 tonnes of manganese.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an intergovernmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica, that was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans.
- It is an organization established by the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention. It was established in 1994.
- ISA governs non-living resources of seabed lying in international waters.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Bill seeking special status for India fails in U.S. Senate
The US Senate has failed to recognise India as a “global strategic and defence partner” of the U.S. after a key amendment necessary to modify its export control regulations could not be passed.
- A republican senator had recently moved an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA-17) which if passed would have recognised India as a global strategic and defence partner.
The U.S. had recognised India as a “major defence partner” during PM Modi’s recent visit to the country.A joint statement issued during the visit supported defence-related trade and technology transfer to the country which would now be treated on par with America’s closest allies.
The NDAA was recently passed by the Senate. But some of the key amendments including the (SA 4618) — even though they had bipartisan support — could not be passed by the Senate. It is a $602 billion defense authorization law. The bill includes among its many Pentagon reforms a provision requiring women to register for the draft.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the UN’s World Health Organisation has said that drinking very hot coffee and other drinks “probably” causes cancer of the oesophagus. However, the agency has indicated that coffee served “normal serving temperatures” would do no harm. It is dangerous if consumed hotter than 65 degrees Celsius.
- The Union Cabinet has approved the merger of State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, and its associate banks. The merged entity will have an asset base of about Rs.37 lakh crore, with nearly 24,000 branches and about 58,700 ATMs across the country as of March 2016. Associate banks to be merged are- State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore.
- The cabinet has given its nod to the signing of an Air Services Agreement between India-Taipei Association in Taipei (India’s representative office in Taiwan) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India (Taiwan’s representative office in India) got the nod. The Cabinet has also given its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India and India Taipei Association in Taipei, for cooperation in agriculture.
- The Cabinet has given its approval for the enhancement of the age of superannuation of non-teaching and public health specialists of the Central Health Service (CHS) from 62 years to 65 years and doctors of General Duty Medical Officers sub-cadre of CHS to 65 years of age.
- An ex-post facto approval for a pact on labour cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia and a 10% disinvestment of paid-up equity in Housing and Urban Development Corporation were also cleared.
- India and Cote D Ivoire have inked an agreement to re-establish the headquarters of the Exim Bank in Abidjan after a gap of nearly two decades. The agreement was inked in the presence of the Presidents of India and Cote D Ivoire — Pranab Mukherjee and Alassane Ouattara. Cote D’Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast), a francophone country, is the biggest producer and exporter of cashew nuts to India which procures nearly 80% of their total exports. It also leads the world in production and export of the cocoa beans used in the manufacture of chocolate, supplying 33% of cocoa produced globally. Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee has been accorded the highest honour of Cote D’Ivoirie by its President Alassane Ouattara on his maiden visit here.
- In a first, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a specific leaking facility on Earth’s surface. The observation — by the Hyperion spectrometer on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) — is an important breakthrough in our ability to eventually measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.