Insights Daily Current Affairs, 07 December 2016
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.
IIIDEM Conducts Training for Saarc Nations on Election Management
With the aim of conducting free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections in the country, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has brought together delegates from Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of SAARC Countries.
- The officials from saarc countries are in India for training at the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM). The course is being sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
- The 11 day course encapsulates several sessions on principles and practices for election management.
- During the program, the 28 participants from SAARC countries will share their experiences on election situation in their respective countries.
- Additionally, the program aims to train officials on various aspects of election management like capacity building of stakeholders, code of conduct, voter inclusion and registration et al.
- The participants have unanimously agreed on the continuous need for exchange of experiences and expertise between the SAARC Electoral Bodies for improved election management.
It is an advanced resource centre of learning, research, training and extension for participatory democracy and election management. The institute is a national and international hub for exchange of good practices in election management.
It works for enhancing voter education, and developing human resource for efficient conduct of free and fair elections in India. Along with this it is also set to develop mutually beneficial partnership with other countries.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Final notification on Eco-Sensitive Zone in Sanjay Gandhi National Park
The Government has issued the Final Notification for an Eco-Sensitive Zone area of 59.46 sq kms of which 19.25 sq km is forest land and 40.21 sq km is non-forest land in Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai suburb.
- The extent (of ESZ) varies at different places taking into consideration its geographical area. No construction will take place in this (ESZ) area. This step has been taken with a view to avoid man-animal conflict.
- The Notification also provides that in areas around Housing Societies and with high human habitation, and in view of the fact that the National Park has a large population of leopards, a high wall with fencing may be erected to ensure that man-animal conflict is avoided.
The Eco-Sensitive Zone has a minimum extent of 100 metres and maximum extent of up to 4 km from the Park boundary. The objective of notifying Eco-Sensitive Zones is to create a buffer as further protection around Protected Areas (PAs) such as National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries.
About Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is spread over three districts – Palgar, Thane and Mumbai Suburb. The National Park is home to a number of endangered species of flora and fauna and harbours approximately 800 species of flowering plants, 45 species of mammals, 43 species of reptiles, 38 species of snakes, 12 species of amphibians, 300 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies. Notable amongst them are large mammalian species such as leopard, wild boar, four-horned antelope, black-naped hare, wild cat, jackal and porcupine and many bird species such as Lesser grebe, Purple Heron, Smaller Egret, Lesser Whistling Teal, Pariah Kite. Many reptiles, including snakes as Indian Cobra and Viper are also found in the National Park.
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.
TIFR discovery challenges theory of superconductivity
Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, have made a landmark discovery that challenges the conventional understanding of superconductivity.
About the discovery:
Researchers have discovered bismuth semi-metal in bulk form becoming a superconductor when the temperature is lowered to 530 microKelvin (about -273 degree C), which is three orders of magnitude higher than the theoretical prediction.
The Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory [which explains superconductivity in most low Tc superconductors] cannot explain the superconductivity seen in bismuth.
Significance of the discovery:
The discovery demands a new theory and a new mechanism to understand superconductivity in bismuth. This discovery provides an alternative path for discovering new superconducting materials which are very different from the conventional superconductors.
What are superconductors?
Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with no resistance whatsoever. To become superconductors, the element should have mobile electrons, and these electrons should come together to form pairs, known as Cooper pairs.
- Bismuth is a chemical element with the symbol Bi and the atomic number 83.
- Unlike other elements in the periodic table, bismuth has unusual phenomenon — while metallic superconductors have one mobile electron per atom, bismuth has only one mobile electron per 100,000 atoms.
- Also, bismuth’s electronic energy (Fermi energy) is comparable to the lattice (phonon) energy.
What is BCS theory?
The theory describes superconductivity as a microscopic effect caused by a condensation of Cooper pairs into a boson-like state. The theory is also used in nuclear physics to describe the pairing interaction between nucleons in an atomic nucleus. It was proposed by Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer in 1957; they received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this theory in 1972.
- Superconductors abruptly lose all resistance to the flow of an electric current when they are cooled to temperatures near absolute zero. Cooper had discovered that electrons in a superconductor are grouped in pairs, now called Cooper pairs, and that the motions of all of the Cooper pairs within a single superconductor are correlated; they constitute a system that functions as a single entity.
- Application of an electrical voltage to the superconductor causes all Cooper pairs to move, constituting a current. When the voltage is removed, current continues to flow indefinitely because the pairs encounter no opposition. For the current to stop, all of the Cooper pairs would have to be halted at the same time, a very unlikely occurrence. As a superconductor is warmed, its Cooper pairs separate into individual electrons, and the material becomes normal, or nonsuperconducting.
- Many other aspects of the behaviour of superconductors are explained by the BCS theory. The theory supplies a means by which the energy required to separate the Cooper pairs into their individual electrons can be measured experimentally. The BCS theory also explains the isotope effect, in which the temperature at which superconductivity appears is reduced if heavier atoms of the elements making up the material are introduced.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Pradhan moots Asian buyers forum to counter OPEC clout
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan has mooted the idea of a large Asian LNG buyers forum to negotiate more equitable trade deals and balance the influence of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
- This assumes significance in light of the ongoing increase in oil prices resulting in an adverse impact on the Indian exchequer and the government’s commitment to move towards a gas-based economy.
- A number of large Asian LNG buyers, including India, could benefit by joining hands and thereby, possibly, bring in more equitable trade deals.
Today a large number of LNG deals are linked to oil prices. Only geographies with LNG hubs have prices lower than the oil-linked prices. The view is that Asian LNG buyers pay higher rates since there is no LNG hub in Asia and there is no unity among consumers.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a group of oil-producing nations that was first established in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1961. OPEC is one of the most powerful international organizations in the world and was a major player in the shift towards state control over natural resources.
- Before OPEC was formed, the oil market was dominated by a group of multinational companies. The formation of OPEC was a major act of sovereignty by the founding nations, and it helped ensure that private companies could not unilaterally cut prices throughout the world.
- Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are the founding Members of the Organization.
- Today, OPEC is comprised of 13 members and still has a massive impact on oil production and price around the world.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
BRICS nations vow to automatic sharing of tax information
BRICS nations, including India, have pledged to share tax information automatically and adopt global standards on tax transparency to check cross border tax evasion. This was taken during the recently concluded meeting of the heads of Revenue of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).
- BRICS leaders have also resolved to support other developing nations in increasing their tax administrations’ capacity to implement the OECD/G20 standard on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI).
- Expressing “deep concern” with the process of erosion of the tax base by aggressive tax practices including incomplete disclosure of information by MNCs, the group reaffirmed its resolve to work together to address them.
- They urged timely and consistent implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project across as many tax jurisdictions as possible and appealed to all countries to join the framework and participate in the BEPS project. The OECD/G20 project on BEPS provides governments with solutions for closing the gaps in existing international rules that allow corporate profits to artificially shift to low or no-tax environments, where little or no economic activity takes place.
- They also discussed the potential areas of cooperation and exchange opinions and views based on their existing commitment to openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation.
- They reiterated their commitment to actions taken to ensure the fairness of the international tax system particularly towards prevention of base erosion and shifting of profits, exchange of tax information and capacity building of developing countries.
Facts for Prelims
Winter Fog Campaign:
- To better understand the science of fog formation over New Delhi, the Ministry of Earth Sciences recently inaugurated the Winter Fog Campaign at the New Delhi Airport.
- This move is aimed at understanding different physical and chemical features of fog and factors responsible for its genesis, intensity and duration.
- The goal of the Winter Fog Experiment (WIFEX) is to develop methods for forecasting winter fog on various temporal and spatial scales, and help reduce its adverse impact on aviation, transportation and economy, and loss of human life due to accidents.
- The campaign is being conducted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), with full cooperation and support of Airport Authority of India and GMR, IGIA. India Meteorological Department, National Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast under MoES and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali are participating in the observational campaign being led by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
45th All India Police Science Congress:
- The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) and Kerala Police are jointly organizing the 45th All India Police Science Congress at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.
- The main objective of this prestigious national event is to provide a common platform to the various police forces/units, social scientists, forensic experts and other stakeholders to deliberate on selected themes of topical interest to the Indian Police.
- It will also provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s experience by understanding the best practices being followed in other States/UTs.
- The deliberations of All India Police Science Congress will provide a future roadmap for all the police forces/services of the country to provide quality service to the people.
- The First All India Police Science Congress was held in 1960 at Patna.
Dr. Ambedkar’s birth day to be celebrated as Water Day:
Lauding the contribution of Dr. B R Ambedkar in water resources management of the country Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti has announced that his birth day 14th April will be celebrated as “Water Day”.