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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 1 April 2023

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. Impact of Antarctic ice melting on Ocean currents

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Comparison of Presidents in USA and India
  2. What do Russia-China and Saudi-Iran deals mean for India?

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2023 announced
  2. FAME II subsidy for electric vehicles at only 52% of its target

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. How can humans & animals exist more peacefully? 

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Gamosa
  2. CERT-in may be exempted from RTI
  3. Unified Tariff for natural gas pipelines
  4. 1st ever International Day of Zero Waste
  5. Compact supercapacitor
  6. Novel catalyst offers to make hydrogen more viable as a fuel
  7. Titan
  8. How Plants Communicate

 

Impact of Antarctic ice melting on Ocean currents

GS Paper 1/3

 Syllabus: Salient features of the World’s Physical Geography/ Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

  

Source: IE

 

Context: According to a new study, an alarming effect on the global temperature, the marine food chain and the stability of ice shelves is being caused by the Antarctic ice sheet’s rapid melting.

 

Background:

  • Ocean currents are the continuous, predictable, directional movement of seawater driven by gravity, wind (Coriolis Effect), and water density.
  • These overturning circulation/currents, driven by the movement of denser water towards the sea floor, helps deliver heat, carbon, oxygen and vital nutrients (rise up from the bottom) around the globe.
  • They have been relatively stable for thousands of years, but they are now being disrupted by the warming climate.

 

Findings of the study:

  • With temperatures rising → freshwater from Antarctica’s melting ice enters the ocean → reducing the salinity and density of the surface water → diminishing downward flow to the sea’s bottom.
  • Deepwater circulation in the Antarctic could weaken (by 40% by 2050) at twice the rate of decline in the North Atlantic.

 

The effect of meltwater on global ocean circulation:

  • Disrupts the base of the food chain: As the Southern Ocean supports about three-quarters of global phytoplankton production → impacts the marine ecosystem.
  • Leaving more CO2 in the atmosphere: The ocean would not be able to absorb as much CO2 as its upper layers become more stratified.

 

Insta Links:

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2021)

Consider the following statements:

  1. In the tropical zone, the western sections of the oceans are warmer than the eastern sections owing to the influence of trade winds.
  2. In the temperate Zone, westerlies make the eastern sections of oceans warmer than the western sections

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 and 2

 

Ans: 3

Comparison of Presidents in USA and India

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Indian Polity

 

Source: TH

 Context: On March 31, Donald Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on charges related to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital affairs.

 

Criminal processing against Presidents in USA and India

DimensionUSAIndia
Immunity from Criminal ProceedingsThe sitting president cannot be indicted or arrested

during the term of office, however, former presidents can be indicted and prosecuted.

Same in India (Article 361)
Jail conviction of two or more yearsThe convicted person can run for the office of President and can even serve as the presidentThe convicted person cannot contest the Election for President for six years.

 

Comparison table of President Impeachment in USA and India:

DimensionUSAIndia
Grounds for impeachmentConviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanoursViolation of the Constitution (Art 61 provides the procedure for impeachment of the president.)
Houses involved in the impeachmentHouse of Representatives and SenateLok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
Composition of HousesSenate (two senators per state) and House of Representatives (elected on the basis of population)Lok Sabha (elected by people) and Rajya Sabha (elected by state assemblies)
Initiation of impeachment chargesAny member of the House of Representatives can introduce a resolution of impeachmentImpeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament
Signatures required for impeachment chargesAny member can introduce or the house can vote to enquireOne-fourth members of the House that framed the charges
The notice period given to the PresidentNot specified14 days
A majority required for an impeachment resolution to passA simple majority (51%) in the House of Representatives and two-thirds (67%) in the SenateTwo-thirds (67%) of the total membership of the House that framed the charges and two-thirds (67%) of the total membership of the other House
Role of Chief JusticePresides over the trial in the SenateNo role in the impeachment process
Role of the President in the impeachment trialCan appoint defence lawyersNo role in the impeachment process
Outcome of impeachmentRemoval from office and the Vice President takes over for the remainder of the termRemoval from office from the date on which the resolution is passed

 

Mains Links

How is the Indian president impeached? What is the procedure for the impeachment of a president? Compare and contrast it with the process of impeachment of the President of the United States. (250 words)

 

Prelims Links

Consider the following statements (UPSC 2022)

  1. A bill amending the Constitution requires a prior recommendation of the President of India.
  2. When a Constitution Amendment Bill is presented to the President of India, it is obligatory for the President of India to give his/her assent.
  3. A Constitution Amendment Bill must be passed by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha by a special majority and there is no provision for joint sitting.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Answer – B

 

Which of the following is/are the exclusive power(s) of Lok Sabha? (UPSC 2022)

  1. To ratify the declaration of Emergency
  2. To pass a motion of no-confidence against the Council of Ministers
  3. To impeach the President of India

 

Select the correct answer using the code given ‘ below:

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 3 only

 

Answer – B

What do Russia-China and Saudi-Iran deals mean for India?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: TH

 Context: As Russia-China bolster ties, Saudi Arabia-Iran strike a deal (with China’s mediation), India’s tightrope walk gets tougher ahead of a number of crucial meetings – G7, G20, SCO and Quad.

 

Recent global developments:

DevelopmentsImplications
OverallFor India
Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement: In a surprise announcement, the countries decided to re-establish full diplomatic ties after talks mediated in China.●       May end Shia-Sunni rivalry – long being part of West Asian politics

●       End to  proxy conflicts in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq

●       The decline of western influence, boost to Chinese influence

●       Iran and Saudi Arabia are both close friends of India, so their deal is a positive

●       However, the fact that China is a guarantor of the deal makes both countries much close to Beijing

●       India’s strain with Iran, over cancelling oil imports, reducing investment in Chabahar due to US sanctions and the I2U2 → China’s increasing presence →  hurting India’s plans to circumvent Pakistan

●       Connectivity for India via Chabahar, INSTC to Russia could also be hampered

The International Criminal Court convicted Russian President Putin in a number of alleged kidnappings of children in Ukraine.●       Could impact Putin’s future travel

●       As none of Russia, China, the US or India is a signatory to the ICC, so this may not make a difference

 
Xi travels to Moscow: A year after Putin went to Beijing and reaffirmed the relationship between them.●       No-limits partnership

●       Not a military alliance

●       Adheres to non-alignment, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third countries

●       Not allow multipolar organisations to be politicised – indicating the current logjam at the G-20

●       Russia is a traditional friend and China is a traditional foe/rival

●       China’s plans for more defence imports from Russia (remember China bought the S-400 before India) could hurt India’s strategic interest.

●       The new front will make consensus at the G-20 much more difficult

Iran-Russia-China held naval exercises in the Gulf Of OmanWhile Russia and China have held joint military exercises before, the inclusion of Iran is significant

 

Saudi Arabia clears decision to join SCOMore will be known when India hosts the SCO summit this year 

 

Other developments:

  • AUKUS: US, Australia and UK announced the 3-phase plan – a $368 Billion deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines over the next 30 years.
  • Japanese PM’s visit to Delhi: Japanese PM unveiled Japan’s new Indo-Pacific Policy and indicated that Japan stands against both Russia and China’s military plans.
  • US hosted a virtual Democracy Summit: Pitching a front of democracies vs authoritarian states – deepening the global divide as
    • Neither China nor Russia was invited, but Taiwan was.
    • They called the Ukraine War – an assault on democracy.

 

 

Challenges for India: India is a common factor on both sides – therefore it has to walk a tough tightrope between its

  • Continental ties (Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and Russia) and
  • Maritime strategy (Quad, UK, France, Germany, EU, IOR countries- Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, etc).

 

Conclusion:

  • There is a reason that India’s current foreign policy (where there is a Quad, SCO, G-7, and G-20) of strategic autonomy and multipolarity is not so different from its traditional foreign policy of non-alignment.
  • Instead of seeing non-alignment as a compulsion, there is merit in seeing India’s traditional balancing act as one that gives its foreign policy maximum flexibility to serve India’s needs.

 

Insta Links:

International Relations

 

Mains Links:

The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario. (UPSC 2021)

Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2023 announced

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

Source: PIB, IE

 

Context: Ministry of Commerce and Industry launched the Foreign Trade Policy 2023, which will come into effect from April 1, 2023.

 

  • FTP 2023 sets a $2 trillion target for exports of goods and services by 2030 with a shift from incentives to remission and entitlement-based regime.

 

What is an FTP?

A trade policy is a government policy that affects the number of goods and services a country exports and imports.

 

Significance of FTP:

Significance
Export PromotionIncreases revenue through exports and stimulates economic growth
Encourages exports and attracts foreign investment
Collaboration with States and DistrictsFacilitates export promotion at the regional level
Economic growthReduces transaction costs and simplifies export processes
It facilitates the flow of the economy in a country and increases foreign exchange in a country.
For domestic consumerIt aids in facilitating free trade and liberalization and improving the overall market for domestic consumers of a country.

 

Aim of FTP 2023:

  • To enhance the competitiveness of Indian exports in the global market (India’s overall exports are about to reach US $760 billion this year)
  • Promote sustainable development of the country’s trade sector
  • Make India a leader in specific sectors such as pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, and textiles
  • To promote a digital economy and leverage technology to enhance the competitiveness of Indian exports.

 

The Key Approach to the policy is based on these 4 pillars:

  • An incentive to Remission (Reduction/cancellation of a debt, duty, or penalty)
  • Export promotion through collaboration – Exporters, States, Districts, Indian Missions
  • Ease of doing business, reduction in transaction cost and e-initiatives and
  • Emerging Areas – E-Commerce Developing Districts as Export Hubs and streamlining SCOMET policy

 

Major Features of FTP 2023:

FeatureDescriptionSignificance
Process Re-Engineering and AutomationThe new policy focuses on export promotion and development through automated IT systems for various approvals, making it easier for MSMEs and others to access export benefits.It will also encourage MSMEs to participate in the global market.
Towns of Export ExcellenceFour new towns (Faridabad, Mirzapur, Moradabad, and Varanasi) have been designated as Towns of Export Excellence (TEE) in addition to the existing 39 towns. The TEEs will have priority access to export promotion funds under the MAI scheme. It will boost the exports of handlooms, handicrafts, and carpets.
Recognition of ExportersExporter firms recognized with ‘status’ (e.g. 2-star, 4-star, 5-star ratings) based on export performance will now help in skilling and training (similar to the ‘each one teach one’ initiative)This will help India build a skilled manpower pool capable of servicing a $5 Trillion economy before 2030.
Promoting export from the districtsThe FTP aims at building partnerships with State governments and taking forward the Districts as Export Hubs (DEH) initiative to promote exports at the district level and accelerate the development of the grassroots trade ecosystem.It will help in identifying and promoting local products and services.
Streamlining SCOMET PolicyIndia is placing more emphasis on the “export control” regime to comply with the international treaties and agreements entered into by India.

 

SCOMET: “Special Chemicals, Organism, Materials, Equipment and Technologies” items are dual-use items having the potential for both civilian applications as well as weapons of mass destruction.

A robust export control system in India would provide access to dual-use High-end goods and technologies to Indian exporters while facilitating exports of controlled items/technologies under SCOMET from India.
Facilitating E-Commerce ExportsThe FTP 2023 outlines the intent and roadmap for establishing e-commerce hubs and related elements such as payment reconciliation, bookkeeping, returns policy, and export entitlements.It will help Indian exporters tap into the potential of e-commerce exports and increase their global reach.
Facilitation under the Export Promotion of Capital Goods (EPCG) SchemeThe EPCG Scheme, which allows the import of capital goods at zero Customs duty for export production, is being further rationalized.

 

Additional schemes such as the PM MITRA scheme have been added to claim benefits under the Common Service Provider scheme.

 

Battery Electric Vehicles, Vertical Farming equipment, Wastewater Treatment and Recycling, Rainwater harvesting systems, and Green Hydrogen are added to Green Technology products – will now be eligible for reduced Export Obligation requirements under EPCG Scheme

 

It will promote domestic manufacturing and encourage investment in capital goods.
Facilitation under the Advance authorization Scheme (AAS)AAS provides duty-free import of raw materials for manufacturing export items.

 

It has been now extended to the export of the Apparel and Clothing sector

It will promote domestic manufacturing and encourage investment in the textile sector.
Merchanting tradeMerchanting trade involves the shipment of goods from one foreign country to another foreign country without touching Indian ports, involving an Indian intermediary.

 

 

Merchanting trade of restricted and prohibited items under the export policy would now be possible.

It will help convert financial centres such as GIFT city etc. into major merchanting hubs as seen in places like Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Amnesty SchemeSimilar to the Vivaad se Vishwaas initiative, the government has introduced a special one-time Amnesty Scheme under which Exporters who have been unable to meet their obligations under EPCG and Advance Authorizations can be regularised on payment of all customs duties exempted in proportion to unfulfilled export obligations.

 

The interest payable is capped at 100% of these exempted duties under this scheme.

It will help in reducing litigation and fostering trust-based relationships to help alleviate the issues faced by exporters.

 

About the Previous Trade policy: The Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20

It merged various schemes into a single Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS) and simplified the nomenclature of Export Houses. The policy also introduced incentives for Special Economic Zones and recognized successful business leaders as Status Holders. A new chapter on Quality Complaints and Trade Disputes was incorporated to resolve trade disputes between exporters and importers. The mid-term review of the policy increased the scope of MEIS and SEIS and extended the validity of Duty Credit Scrips.

 

Insta Links:

Foreign trade policies

 

Mains Links

Critically analyse the current Foreign Trade Policy 2023 (250 Words)

 

Prelims Links:

The SEZ Act, 2005 which came into effect in February 2006 has certain objectives. In this context, consider the following: ( UPSC 2010)

(1) Development of infrastructure facilities.

(2) Promotion of investment from foreign sources.

(3) Promotion of exports of services only.

Which of the above are the objectives of this Act?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: A

 

A “closed economy” is an economy in which (UPSC 2011)

(a) the money supply is fully controlled

(b) deficit financing takes place

(c) only exports take place

(d) neither exports nor imports take place

 

Ans: D

FAME II subsidy for electric vehicles at only 52% of its target

GS Paper 3

 SyllabusInfrastructure/Manufacturing sector

 

Source: Business Standard, DTE

 Context: The parliamentary standing committee on heavy industry highlighted that Phase 2 of the FAME scheme to subsidize electric vehicles has achieved only 51.96 per cent of its target.

  • In related news, the Committee on Estimates (2022-23) for the evaluation of electric vehicle policy under the Union Ministry of Heavy Industries suggested an extension of the FAME II scheme. 

 

Issues highlighted in the committee report

  • Massive dependence on oil imports and Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles causes air pollution and greenhouse gases.
  • Slothy progress in both physical and financial targets.
  • EV charging stations are sanctioned only for a few cities.

 

Suggestions

  • Boost charging infrastructure.
  • The scheme should be extended further with new targets, incentives, and measures.
  • Place greater emphasis on implementation and extend the subsidy to private vehicles.

 

Lessons from China:

  • China’s experience with promoting electric vehicles (EVs) by offering generous subsidies in 2009, became costly for the government due to the large price differential and a number of buyers.
  • So, it phased out subsidies in 2020 and imposed a mandate on car manufacturers to ensure a certain percentage of all vehicles sold each year are battery-powered.
  • To avoid financial penalties, manufacturers must earn a stipulated number of points based on range, energy efficiency, and performance.
  • An academic paper published recently suggested that the phase-out policy is the most cost-effective approach to promote EV sales compared to other policies that provide larger subsidies over more extended periods.

 

About FAME Scheme:

BackgroundFAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies. The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segments.
Phases of the schemePhase I: started in 2015 and was completed on 31st March 2019. Phase II: started from April 2019, and completed by 31st March 2022.
Technologies covered by the schemeHybrid & Electric technologies like Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid & Battery Electric Vehicles.
Monitoring AuthorityDepartment of Heavy Industries, the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
Four focus areas of the schemeTechnology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects, Charging Infrastructure.
Objectives of the FAME SchemeEncourage faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by way of offering upfront Incentives on the purchase of Electric vehicles.

Establish necessary charging Infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Salient features of Phase IIEmphasis on electrification of public transportation, including shared transport, in the FAME India Scheme.

Incentives are applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or registered for commercial purposes.

The benefits of incentives will be extended to vehicles fitted with advanced batteries like Lithium-Ion batteries.

 

Insta Link:

FAME-India Scheme

How can humans & animals exist more peacefully?

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

Source: DTE

Example 1: Planting a “barrier” of crops that repel animals such as elephants. It will benefit both the animals and local people and involve the communities concerned.

 

Example 2: Kenya: Tracking collars have been fitted to some elephants in a herd to inform locals about their movements, leading to better management and fewer harmful incidents.

 

Example 3: India: WildSev (a mobile technology initiative) provides a user-friendly platform for farmers and others to report wildlife conflict incidents. WildSeve responders on motorcycles provide immediate assistance.

 

Example 4:  IUCN SSC Guidelines on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence provide a roadmap for managing the conflict and inform the formulation of new policies and community-led action strategies for achieving coexistence with wildlife in any context.

Usage: Such examples can be used as an innovative examples to solve human-wildlife conflict issues.

Gamosa

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: IE

 

Context: A scarf – a hybrid creation of an Assamese gamosa and a Bengali gamcha – became the subject of controversy in Assam.

 

Assamese gamosa/gamusa (Body wipes or Towel):

  • It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on two sides and red woven motifs on the other two sides.
  • Although the cotton yarn is the most common material for making/weaving gamosas, there are special occasion ones made from Pat silk.
  • It is a symbol of the culture and identity of Assam and had received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2022.

CERT-in may be exempted from RTI

Facts For Prelims

 

Source: TH

 

Context: The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) may soon be exempt from responding to queries under the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005.

 

Background: The DoPT has reviewed a proposal from the MeitY to include CERT-in in the 2nd Schedule to the RTI Act, which deals with exempted organisations like the CBI and the BSF.

 

CERT-in:

  • It is an office within the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) established in 2004 under the IT Act 2000.
  • It is the nodal agency to
    • To deal with cyber security threats.
    • To strengthen the security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain.
    • Coordinate with public and private organisations in India when cyber incidents like data breaches and ransomware attacks are reported.
    • To issue advisories for software vulnerabilities as guidance for organisations.

Unified Tariff for natural gas pipelines

Facts For Prelims

Source: PIB

 

Context: The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board has implemented the Unified Tariff, a long-awaited reform in the natural gas sector.

 

What is a Unified Tariff?

The Unified Tariff is a way to calculate the price of transporting natural gas across different pipelines in India. This helps to ensure that the cost of transporting gas is fair and consistent across the country.

 

About Unified Tariff:

PNGRB (the regulator) has notified a levelized unified tariff of ₹73.93 per metric million British thermal units (MMBTU) and created three tariff zones for unified tariff:

  • First zone is up to a distance of 300 km from the gas source
  • Second zone is 300 – 1200 km
  • Third zone is beyond 1200 km

 

Significance: The Unified Tariff is expected to assist in achieving the ‘One Nation One Grid One Tariff’ model and stimulate gas markets in remote areas.

 

The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas bi-annually revises the price of natural gas produced from various sources

 

About One Nation, One Gas Grid:

One Nation, One Gas Grid refers to the integration of the regional grids thus establishing a National Grid for providing energy produced by natural gas to various stakeholders.

At present, there are about 17,000 km long Natural Gas pipeline network, with an additional over 15000 km of pipelines to be completed under the National Gas Grid

About Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is a statutory body, constituted under Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006. Its primary functions include regulation of refining, transportation, distribution, storage, marketing, supply and sale of petroleum products and natural gas.

1st ever International Day of Zero Waste

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: DTE

 

Context: The first-ever International Day of Zero Waste was celebrated on March 30, 2023, to encourage people to prevent and minimize waste and promote a circular economy and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (11 and 12).

 

  • Established by: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Objective: To raise awareness about zero-waste initiatives and their importance in tackling the global waste crisis.

 

The USA generates more waste than any other nation in the world with 4.5 pounds (2 kg) of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day. In comparison, the average per capita waste in India is about 670 grams per day.

 

Related news:

 Swachhotsav 2023

 Source: PIB

 Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs launched Swachhotsav 2023 campaign to galvanise the participation of women to realize the goal of ‘Garbage Free Cities’ and help 1,000 cities become 3-star Garbage Free Cities (GFC) by October 2024 under the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban (SBM-U)

Star Rating (launched in 2018 under SBM-U 2.0) aims to encourage a competitive, mission-mode spirit among Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).

ODF Plus villages in India increased from about 7% in 2022 to 40% in March 2023

 

Compact supercapacitor

Facts For Prelims

Source: The Hindu

 

Context: Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers have designed a novel ultra-micro supercapacitor, a tiny device capable of storing an enormous amount of electric charge.

  • Apart from being small in size and more compact than existing supercapacitors, they can potentially be used in many devices ranging from streetlights to consumer electronics, electric cars and medical devices.

 

Benefits:

  • Supercapacitors, combine the best of both batteries and capacitors – they can store as well as release large amounts of energy and are therefore highly sought-after for next-generation electronic devices.

 

Current capacitors

  • They typically use metal oxide-based electrodes, but they are limited by poor electron mobility.
  • In the future, the researchers are planning to explore if replacing MoS2 with other materials can increase the capacitance of their supercapacitor even more.

Novel catalyst offers to make hydrogen more viable as a fuel

Facts For Prelims

Source: The Hindu

 

Context: Researchers at IIT Mandi have developed a novel carbon-based catalyst to make water electrolysis more efficient.

  • Water electrolysis is the process of choice to produce ‘green hydrogen ‘thus making it more significant.

 

About water electrolysis:

  • In water electrolysis, water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity inside a device called an electrolyser. However, this process consumes a lot of electrical energy.

 

New finding:

  • A new study has reported a porous carbon material containing nitrogen that functions both as a catalyst and as the anode in electrolyser units – and could substitute the metal-based catalysts.
  • The researchers produced this material, called ‘laser carbon’, by exposing a sheet of a polymer called polyimide to a laser beam, which carbonised the exposed bits, leaving the remainder rich in nitrogen.

 

Advantages of the new catalyst:

  • Laser carbon is “highly power efficient”, cheaper to produce, has a simpler synthesis technique, and “can be batch-manufactured with a laser”.

How Plants Communicate

Facts For Prelims

Source: Indian Express

 

Context: A team led by experts at Tel Aviv University has shown tomato and tobacco plants, among others, not only make sounds but do so loudly enough for other creatures to hear.

  • Plants have evolved complex biochemical responses and the ability to dynamically alter their growth (and regrow body parts) in response to environmental signals including light, gravity, temperature, touch, and volatile chemicals produced by surrounding organisms.

 

More about the research:

  • In 2019, researchers showed the buzzing of bees can cause plants to produce sweeter nectar. Others have shown white noise played to Arabidopsis, a flowering plant in the mustard family, can trigger a drought response.
  • Researchers recorded airborne sounds produced by tomato and tobacco plants, and five other species (grapevine, henbit deadnettle, pincushion cactus, maize and wheat). These sounds were ultrasonic, in the range of 20-100 kilohertz, and therefore can’t be detected by human ears.

 

What causes these sounds?

  • The team’s findings suggest that “cavitation” may be at least partially responsible for the sounds.
  • Cavitation is the process through which air bubbles expand and burst inside a plant’s water-conducting tissue, or “xylem”.

Titan

Facts For Prelims

 Source: The Hindu

 

Context: NASA’s Dragonfly mission to explore Titan is scheduled for launch in 2027, and the spacecraft is expected to arrive at its destination in around 2034.

 

About Titan:

  • Titan is the second largest moon (Saturn’s) in our solar system (after Jupiter’s Ganymede).
  • It is larger than Mercury and has lakes, rivers, clouds, and rain of methane on the surface.
  • Titan’s building blocks are expected to be similar to those on the earth before life took root. While both the earth’s and Titan’s atmospheres contain abundant nitrogen, Titan lacks oxygen.
  • The presence of methane and nitrogen in Titan’s atmosphere could allow their component atoms – carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen – to potentially exist and recombine to form a rich variety of organic compounds.

 

The Dragonfly mission is part of NASA’s ‘New Frontiers’ programme, which also includes the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt; Juno to Jupiter; and OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Bennu.

 

Read the Daily CA in PDF Format here:

 


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