Daily Current Affairs Date : 5thMarch,2022
(30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)
Covers 4 Most relevant Sources
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Coal Gasification: Advantages and Disadvantages (PIB)
- Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) (PIB)
- KAVACH: Indigenously-Developed Anti-Collision Technology for Indian Railways (PIB)
- Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (National Adolescent Health Programme) (PIB)
- Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (IE)
- Stree Manoraksha Project (IE)
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (PIB)
- Budapest Memorandum(IE)
- What isNokkukooli or Gawking Wages (TH, pg 6)
- Teachers University (TH, pg 2)
- Sambhav and Svavlamban Initiatives (PIB)
Coal Gasification: Advantages and Disadvantages (PIB)
- Context:More than 100 Experts attend Coal Gasification Webinar organised by Coal Ministry.
- India aims for 100 million tonnes (MT) coal gasification by 2030.
- The Government of India’s big plan to push coal gasification to replace natural gas in the fertiliser sector would help square energy and food security objectives.
- However, ammonia produced from coal gasification has a carbon footprint that is 1.8 times higher than that produced from the conventional process using natural gas.
- Coal gasification is a thermo-chemical process in which heat and pressure is used to break down coal into its chemical constituents.
- The resulting syngas or synthetic natural gas (SNG)is comprised primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and occasionally other gaseous compounds.
- Proponents of coal gasification say that syngas can be used for electricity production, used in energy-efficient fuel cell technology, or as chemical “building blocks” for industrial purposes.
- The hydrogen can also be extracted for use in fueling a hydrogen economy.
- Coal gas can also be converted into a transportation fuel as a substitute for gasoline in vehicles, but it is far less efficient than the current production and burning of petroleum-based gasoline.
- Coal gasification is said to have greater efficiency than conventional coal-burning because it can effectively use the gases twice: the coal gases are first cleansed of impurities and fired in a turbine to generate electricity.
- Then, the exhaust heat from the gas turbine can be captured and used to generate steam for a steam turbine-generator.
- This is called a combined cycle, and a coal gasification plant using this dual process can potentially achieve an efficiency of 50 percent or more, compared with a conventional coal power plant, which is often just above 30 percent.
- Transporting gas isa lot cheaper than transporting coal.
- Coal gasification can also help address local pollution problems.
- Coal gasification and liquefaction facilitate the removal of Sulphur and ash and produce valuable chemical by-products.
But there are two big problems.
- First, coal gasification actually produces more CO2 than a traditional coal plant.
- Synthetic natural gas emits seven times more greenhouse gases than natural gas, and almost twice as much carbon as a coal plant.
- The second problem is water use. Coal gasification is one of the more water-intensive forms of energy production.
- Other countries are looking at different ways to get gas from coal. One method, particularly popular in Australia, is coal-bed methane, a process allowing access to coal deposits that are too deep to mine.
- Water is sucked out of the seam and the methane attached to the surface of the coal is freed and then collected.
- Very little CO2 is emitted, but the process is not without controversy. Opponents highlight concerns about water contamination, land subsidence and disposing of waste water safely, while the water intensive process sometimes involves fracking.
- Coalbed Methane (CBM) is an unconventional source of natural gas.
- India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM.
- The Gondwana sediments of eastern India host the bulk of India’s coal reserves and all the current CBM producing blocks.
Underground coal gasification
- A very different way to produce gas from coal is known as underground coal gasification (UCG), a process that has been around since the 19th Century but which has yet to become commercially viable on a grand scale.
- The process involves pumping oxygen and steam through a small borehole into the coal seam to produce a small and controlled combustion.
- Unlike coal-bed methane, therefore, the actual coal is converted from a solid state into gas.
- The hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide and CO2 are then siphoned off through a second borehole.
Coal Gasification in India
- Coal is the most abundant fuel resource in India.However, the following factors restrict its use for alternate energy over imported crude oil and LNG:
- the low calorific value (GCV about 3600);
- high levels of inorganic impurities (35-45%) of the Indian coal;
- unavailability of suitable technology to process high ash coal.
- At present the 60% of available coal is consumed by the power production units, while steel and cement industry consume around 4% and 7% respectively. Other 29% is used as feedstock for producing various chemicals.
- The high ash content in the Indian coal still remains a major hindrance towards developing an appropriate technology which can be run on commercial basis.
- The three units of FCIL at Ramagundam, Sindri and Talcher which were setup during 1970-80 using coal gasification technology failed to achieve commercial success due to high ash content of coal feed.
- It is understood the technology available so far restricts the use of coal with ash content above 30%.
Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) (PIB)
- Context:Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) that have been used in radar imaging satellite modules of EOS 04, which was launched by ISRO on 14thFeb 2022.
- Radio-frequency ICs (RFICs) are widely used in mobile phones and wireless devices.
- A special type of RFIC is known as a monolithic microwave IC.
- These circuits usually run in the 2- to 100-GHz range, or microwave frequencies.
- These are used in radar systems, in satellite communications, and as power amplifiers for cellular telephones.
- Just as sound travels faster through water than through air, electron velocity is different through each type of semiconductor material.
- Silicon offers too much resistance for microwave-frequency circuits, and so the compound gallium arsenide (GaAs) is often used for MMICs.
- Unfortunately, GaAs is mechanically much less sound than silicon.
- It breaks easily, so GaAs wafers are usually much more expensive to build than silicon wafers.
KAVACH: Indigenously-Developed Anti-Collision Technology for Indian Railways (PIB)
- Context:Union Minister of Railways inspected the trial of ‘Kavach’ working system.
- During the trial, Head-on-collision situation was created as both the locomotives were moving towards each other. The ‘Kavach’ system initiated the automatic braking system and halted the locomotives 380 metres apart.
- Also, crossing the red signal was tested; however, the locomotive did not cross the red signal as ‘Kavach’ necessitated the application of brakes automatically.
- Automatic whistle sound was loud and clear when gate signal approached. The crew did not manually touch the sound and braking system during the trial.
- The speed restriction of 30 Kmph was tested when the locomotive was run on loop line. ‘Kavach’ automatically reduced the speed to 30 Kmph from 60 Kmph as the locomotive entered the loop line.
- The KAVACH is indigenously developed by Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with Indian industry to achieve the objective of safety in train operations across Indian Railways.
- KAVACH is meant to provide protection by preventing trains to pass the signal at Danger (Red) and avoid collision.
- It activates the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per the speed restrictions.
- In addition, it prevents collision between two Locomotives equipped with functional KAVACH system.
- ‘Kavach’ is one of the cheapest, Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL-4) certified technologies with the probability of error is 1 in 10,000 years.
- Also, it opens avenues of export of this indigenous technology for Railways.
Features of KAVACH
- Prevention of Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD)
- Automatic Braking for Prevention of Over Speeding
- Prevention of collision between two Locomotives equipped with functional KAVACH
- Auto Whistling while approaching Level Crossing Gates
- SoS Messages during emergency situations
- Centralized live monitoring of Train movements through Network Monitor System.
- Continuous update of Movement Authority with display of signal aspects in Driver Machine Interface (DMI) / Loco Pilot operation cum Indication Panel (LPOCIP)
- As a part of Atmanirbhar Bharat, 2,000 km of network will be brought under Kavach for safety and capacity augmentation in 2022-23.
Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (National Adolescent Health Programme) (PIB)
- Context: An article in PIB.
- Launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for adolescents in the age group of 10-19 years – male and female, rural and urban, married and unmarried, in and out-of-school adolescents with special focus on marginalized and undeserved groups.
- The programme expands the scope of adolescent health programming in India – from being limited to sexual and reproductive health, it now includes in its ambit nutrition, injuries and violence (including gender-based violence), non-communicable diseases, mental health and substance misuse.
- Improve nutrition
- Reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among adolescent girls and boys
- Reduce the prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) among adolescent girls and boys
- Improve sexual and reproductive health (SRH)
- Improve knowledge, attitudes and behaviour, in relation to SRH
- Reduce teenage pregnancies
- Improve birth preparedness, complication readiness and provide early parenting support for adolescent parents
- Enhance mental health
- Prevent injuries and violence
- Prevent substance misuse
- Address Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
- Promote behaviour change in adolescents to prevent NCDs such as hypertension, stroke, cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes
- Saathiya App is a mobile based app, which has reference material, frequently asked questions based on adolescent health issues pertaining to the six thematic areas.
- The National Health Mission (NHM) has been distributing Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Sanitary Napkins free of cost to young girls and women as a part of “Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram.
Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (IE)
- Context: The Union Minister of Ports Shipping (PSW) & Waterways reviewed the ongoing projects, including the important Kaladan Multi Modal Transport project in Mizoram.
- The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is a bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar.
- It, among others, involves the connecting of Aizwal in Mizoram with the deep-water Sittwe Port in Myanmar.
- A Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) initiative approved in 2008, the project seeks to ease India’s access to Southeast Asia through Myanmar and provide an alternate route between the landlocked Northeast and the rest of India, a purpose currently only served by the narrow Siliguri corridor.
- The project was launched under the ‘Look East Policy’, which dates back to 1991, and is being pursued by the present government under ‘Act East Policy’, its remodeled version of the policy.
- The Kaladan project will connect the Kolkata seaport with Sittwe in Rakhine State of Myanmar by sea.
- In Myanmar, it will link the Sittwe seaport with Paletwa in the Chin State via the Kaladan river boat route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram.
- As the name implies, it’s multimodal and employs a range of infrastructure from roads and bridges to floating barrages.
- The project involves (Stretch – Mode – Distance):
- Kolkata port to Sittwe port in Myanmar – Shipping – 539 km
- Sittwe to Paletwa (River Kaladan) – Inland WaterTransport (IWT)/floating barges – 158 km
- Paletwa to Indo-Myanmar Border (in Myanmar) – Road – 110 km
- Border to NH.54 (Lawngtlai) (in India) – Road – 100 km
- Kaladan, also known as Chimmtuipi Lui river, passes through the southern tip of Mizoram and flows back to the Rakhine state in Myanmar.
Act East Policy
- The Objective of ”Act East Policy” is to promote economiccooperation,cultural ties and develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels thereby providing enhanced connectivity to the States of North Eastern Region including Arunachal Pradesh with other countries in our neighbourhood.
- While India’s earlier Look East Policy was driven by economic interests, the Act East Policy is driven by economic and security interests.
- While Look East Policy was limited to South East Asia but Act East Policy is extended to both South East Asia and East Asia as well.
Stree Manoraksha Project (IE)
- Context:The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) has launched the ‘Stree Manoraksha Project’ in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, with an aim to improve the mental health of women in India.
- The project would focus on building on capacity building of OSC (One-Stop Center) functionaries on the tools and techniques as to how to handle the cases of women approaching the One-Stop Centres.
- The one-stop centre provides assistance to women in medical, legal, and crime-related matters.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (PIB)
- Context:Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change delivered national statement on the 50th session of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi.
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or UN Environment is an organization established in 1972 to guide and coordinate environmental activities within the United Nations (UN) system.
- Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the organization also has encouraged participation by the private sector to promote the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.
- It categorizes its work into seven broad thematic areas: climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, chemicals and waste, resource efficiency, and environment under review.
- One of UNEP’s most widely recognized activities is Earthwatch, an international monitoring system designed to facilitate the exchange of environmental information among governments.
- Participation in this enterprise enables members to assess significant environmental risks and to act accordingly.
- The 58-member Governing Council, the organization’s principal legislative body, is elected by the UN General Assembly for four-year terms. Seats are allocated by region to assure widespread representation, generally providing about 16 seats for African states, 13 for Asia, 6 for eastern Europe, 10 for Latin America and the Caribbean, and 13 for western Europe and other states.
- It also hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies. These include the following:
- The Convention on Biological Diversity
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
- The Minamata Convention on Mercury
- The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
- The Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol
- The Convention on Migratory Species
- The Carpathian Convention (The Carpathians are one of Europe’s largest mountain ranges. The Carpathian Convention is a subregional treaty to foster the sustainable development and the protection of the Carpathian region. It has been signed in May 2003 by seven Carpathian States:Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine).
- The Bamako Convention (The Bamako Convention is a treaty of African nations prohibiting the import into Africa of any hazardous (including radioactive) waste.The Convention covers more wastes than covered by the Basel Convention as it not only includes radioactive wastes but also considers any waste with a listed hazardous characteristic or a listed constituent as a hazardous waste; the Convention also covers national definitions of hazardous waste.)
- The Tehran Convention (The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed/inland body of water on earth and is bounded by Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.The understanding of the need for regional cooperation to protect and preserve the Caspian Sea was at the heart of the creation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, the Tehran Convention)
- Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNEP helps to implement the Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (1998).
- UNEP also coordinates the work on UN agencies with respect to desertification and the regional seas (with special attention to the Mediterranean Sea).
Champions of the Earth
- It is the United Nations highest environmental honour.
- The award celebrates outstanding figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society whose actions have had a transformative, positive impact on the environment.
Young Champions of the Earth
- It is a forward-looking prize designed to breathe life into the ambitions of brilliant young environmentalists.
- Each year, six winners – one from each of UN Environment’s global regions – receive $15,000 in seed funding as well as intensive training and tailored mentoring.
- UN Environment is a founding partner of the SEED Awards, which support innovative, small-scale and locally driven entrepreneurs around the globe who integrate social and environmental benefits into their business models.
- For more than 20 years, the UN Environment Sasakawa Prize recognized outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development.
Asia Environmental Enforcement Award
- The purpose of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards is to publicly recognise outstanding achievements by public organisations and individuals in Asia to combat transboundary environmental crime.
- Context:The unfolding invasion of Ukraine will have far-reaching repercussions that extend way beyond a breach of international law and a violation of the country’s territorial integrity.
- Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine is in direct violation of the Budapest Memorandum, struck in 1994 by USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine, and a key instrument assuring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Under the terms of the memorandum, Ukraine agreed to relinquish its nuclear arsenal – the world’s third-largest, inherited from the collapsed Soviet Union – and transfer all nuclear warheads to Russia for decommissioning.
- This enabled Ukraine to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear state.
- The NPT is a legally-binding instrument that recognises only five countries as legitimate holders of nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.
- All other countries are banned from developing a nuclear arsenal and those that have, including India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, are not parties to the NPT.
- In exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal, Ukraine initially sought legally binding guarantees from the US that it would intervene should Ukraine’s sovereignty be breached.
- But when it became clear that the US was not willing to go that far, Ukraine agreed to somewhat weaker – but nevertheless significant – politically binding security assurances to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine”.
- China and France subsequently extended similar assurances to Ukraine, but did not sign the Budapest Memorandum.
- But the meaning of the security assurances was deliberately left ambiguous. Russia first broke its commitments under the Budapest Memorandum in 2014, with its annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine.
- Russia’s actions will weaken the credibility of major power security assurances, undermine the nuclear nonproliferation regime and dampen prospects for future disarmament.
What isNokkukooli or Gawking Wages (TH, pg 6)
- The Kerala High Court declared demanding of nokkukooli or gawking wages as an “illegal and unauthorized” activity which needs to be banned and directed the police to lodge cases of extortion against whoever makes such demands.
- ‘Nokku kooli’ refers to loading, unloading and supervision charges demanded by workers, even if nobody has hired them to do the work. It was a common practice earlier among head-load workers who were part of trade unions.
- However, though nokku kooli was stopped in many parts of Kerala after sharp criticism, it continues to exist in other parts.
Teachers University (TH, pg 2)
- The Delhi government recently inaugurated the Delhi Teachers University, which will offer programmes such as BA-BEd and BSc-BEd.
- The programmes at the university have been designed to ensure that teacher-trainees in the university spend 30-50% of their time in schools and get hands-on learning experience from the very first month of their course.
Sambhav and Svavlamban Initiatives (PIB)
- Ministry of Micro,Small & Medium Enterprises has launched two special initiatives – ‘Sambhav’ and ‘Svavlamban’ to promote entrepreneurship amongst youth, especially in aspirational Districts all across the country.