A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues
India PV EDGE 2020 and Invest India (PIB)
- To catalyze cutting-edge Photovoltaics(PV) manufacturing in India, NITI Aayog, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and Invest India, organized a virtual global symposium, ‘India PV EDGE 2020’, in October 2020.
- India has become the third-largest solar capacity country in the world and set an ambitious target of 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, comprising 300 GW of solar capacity.
- The major factor behind the rise of solar deployment is giga-scale (A very large manufacturing facility) solar manufacturing and the continuous adoption of innovations to reduce prices.
- Hence, solar PV manufacturing is one of the strategic sectors announced by the Indian government as part of the post-Covid Aatmanirbhar Bharat recovery initiative.
- Cutting-edge giga-scale solar manufacturing stands on three pillars:
- (i) disruptive PV chemistries,
- (ii) manufacturing by custom-engineered advanced production equipment, and
- (iii) utilization of innovative components like special glasses and coatings.
- After the 2008–09 financial crisis, green measures accounted for 16% of the total stimulus measures.
Invest India: India’s national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency
- Invest India, set up in 2009, is a non-profit venture under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
- It acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.
- As the national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency, Invest India focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and development of new partnerships to enable sustainable investments in India.
- In addition to a core team that focuses on sustainable investments, Invest India also partners with substantial investment promotion agencies and multilateral organizations.
- Invest India also actively works with several Indian states to build capacity as well as bring in global best practices in investment targeting, promotion and facilitation areas.
Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series on Gandhi, Ahmedabad and Salt March (PIB)
- This 58th session of the Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series of the Ministry of Tourism focused on Gandhiji’s stay in Ahmedabad and Salt March.
- After returning from South Africa in 1915 Gandhiji was advised by Shri Gopal Krishna Gokhale to travel across India and decide his future place to initiate his freedom movement.
- When Gandhi returned from South Africa, it was in Ahmedabad that he chose to set up his base. He lived in Ahmedabad between 1913 and 1930. It was from here that he launched the historic Dandi March (Salt March) in 1930.
- Within few months of his landing in India from South Africa in 1915, Gandhi set up a Satyagraha Ashram in Ahmedabad.
- Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
- The Series is presented in technical partnership with National e Governance Department, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
B) Science and Technology/Defence/Space
3.Xoo infection in Rice (PIB)
- Scientists may be close to a vaccine to boost the immune system of rice.
- A scientist has uncovered the mechanism by which a bacterium called Xoo (Xanthomonas oryzaepv. oryzae) that causes a serious bacterial leaf blight disease in rice interacts with rice plant and cause disease.
- Xanthomonas oryzaepv. oryzae, or commonly known as Xoo infection, causes huge yield losses to rice cultivation throughout the world.
- Treatment of rice with cellulose, a cell wall degrading enzyme secreted by Xoo, induces rice immune responses and protects rice from subsequent infections by Xoo.
- Pre-treatment of rice plants with this protein provides resistance to rice against subsequent Xoo infection.
Phishing and its types (TH)
- Context: Google sent out over 12,000 warning to users globally, including about 500 in India, during the three months period from July to September this year, alerting them on “government-backed” phishing attempts against them.
- The news comes close on the heels of Facebook-owned WhatsApp disclosing that an Israeli spyware — Pegasus, was used to spy on journalists and human rights activists globally, including 121 people in India.
So, what is phishing?
- Have you ever got an SOS message from a friend or a mail from your bank questioning how secure your credit card is? If you chose to ignore them, then you most probably escaped a phishing attempt.
- Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails claiming to be from reputable companies to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
- Phishers are cybercriminals who siphon off vital confidential information, usually financial, from ‘susceptible’ people and misuse it.
- Example: Receiving emails like a Scandinavian philanthropist ready to part with his wealth, or an African princess expecting you to be her prince charming.
- And it is not always through email. There is vishing (voice phishing) and smishing (SMS phishing) too. In any case, your personal and financial details will be the target.
- Spear phishing is an email that appears to be from an individual or a business familiar to you. Spear phishers thrive on familiarity.
- A fraudster may send a mail claiming he is from the RBI. The thing to remember here is that the sender’s email id might be something like rbi.com, but any government entity’s domain name would be ‘gov.in’ or ‘.org’ and not ‘.com’.
- Whaling is spear phishing targeted at an important person, such as a CEO or a senior-level employee in a firm.
- Imagine this. You get a mail from Facebook (at least that what it looks like) saying your account is compromised and you should click the link to update your credentials. You click the link, it takes you to a page that looks just like Facebook. If you have given your personal details without checking the url, you have just been ‘pharmed.”
- Just like farming where you plant seeds, in pharming you are conned to ‘voluntarily’ plant your details.
- The fraudster modifies the DNS entry to create a fake website and lures users to key in personal details.
- A malware or spyware detector is unlikely to catch pharming because it is carried out by poisoning the DNS at the host level while your PC remains safe.
- Also spelt as tab napping, it is similar to pharming, but here the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets – CSS is the language for describing the presentation of Web pages, including colours, layout, and fonts) of the real website is copied.
- The inactive or dormant tab in your browser is the target.
- The fake website will have the same icon and description as the real one.
- The user, without verifying the url, spills out security details such as password.
C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
5.Madhuca diplostemonous (TH)
- A tree species, long believed extinct, has been rediscovered after a gap of more than 180 years from a sacred grove in Kollam district.
- It was in 1835 that Madhuca diplostemon, a threatened species of the Western Ghats, was last spotted.
- Robert Wight, a surgeon-botanist with the East India Company, described it as Diospyros obovata in his famous work Icones Plantarum Indiae Orientalis.
- Since the species is represented only by one specimen in a single locality, it is eligible to be categorized ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
- A taxon is critically endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the following five criteria:
- Populations have declined or will decrease, by greater than 80% over the last 10 years or three generations.
- Have a restricted geographical range.
- Small population size of less than 250 individuals and continuing decline at 25% in 3 years or one generation.
- Very small or restricted population of fewer than 50 mature individuals.
- High probability of extinction in the wild.
Arctic Amplification (TH)
- Since the mid-20th Century, average global temperatures have warmed about 0.6°C (1.1°F), but the warming has not occurred equally everywhere.
- Temperatures have increased about twice as fast in the Arctic as in the mid-latitudes, a phenomenon known as “Arctic amplification.”
Why are temperatures warming faster in the Arctic than the rest of the world?
- The Arctic is warming two or three times faster than the rest of the planet. Scientists have identified several factors driving this amplified warming.
- The relative importance of each factor remains still unclear. We do know, however, that clouds could play an important role.
Loss of sea ice
- The loss of sea ice is one of the most cited reasons. When bright and reflective ice melts, it gives way to a darker ocean; this amplifies the warming trend because the ocean surface absorbs more heat from the Sun than the surface of snow and ice.
- In more technical terms, losing sea ice reduces Earth’s albedo: the lower the albedo, the more a surface absorbs heat from sunlight rather than reflecting it back to space.
- However, other factors contribute as well. Thunderstorms, for instance, are much more likely to occur in the tropics than the higher latitudes.
- The storms transport heat from the surface to higher levels of the atmosphere, where global wind patterns sweep it toward higher latitudes.
- The abundance of thunderstorms creates a near-constant flow of heat away from the tropics, a process that dampens warming near the equator and contributes to Arctic amplification.
Iodic acid influences cloud formation at the North Pole
- An international team of scientists have identified iodic acid as a novel driver of new aerosol particle formation in the Arctic, which subsequently influence the formation of clouds.
- By reflecting the sun’s rays back into space or trapping heat close to the Earth’s surface like a blanket, clouds help either cool off or warm up the planet.
- Iodic acid is formed in the atmosphere from the oxidation of iodine or other molecules containing iodine.
- The exact mechanism responsible for the release of iodine over the Arctic pack ice is still not known.
- Based on previous studies, the authors hypothesize that iodine could be released by biotic activity of microalgae living under the sea ice or due to chemical reactions on frozen surfaces containing sea salt.
- Under the right conditions, gas molecules condense together into small clusters that can grow, eventually forming aerosols. If these aerosols reach a certain size, they can function as cloud condensation nuclei, which are essential for cloud formation.
- The research team found that iodic acid triggers the formation of new aerosols between late summer and early fall.
- Towards the end of August, the temperature drops and the water starts refreezing. This is when the iodic acid concentration sharply increases leading to frequent new aerosol particle formation events.
D) International Relations
7.U.S. Navy P-8A long range Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) landed at Port Blair (TH)
- Context: A U.S. Navy P-8A long range Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) landed at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the last week of September for refuelling under the bilateral logistics support agreement.
- This is the first time a U.S. P-8 has got access to the islands for operational turnaround.
- Several countries have expressed interest in getting access to the strategically located A&N islands which are close to the Strait of Malacca and global sea lanes of communication.
- The P-8A was in Port Blair on September 25 for refuelling under the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
- Another Passage Exercise (PASSEX) between Indian Navy ships and a U.S. aircraft carrier transiting the region as in July is expected to take place later this month.
- While P-8s of India and the U.S. had exercised together in the past, practiced locating submarines together and the LEMOA has been operational for few years now, this is the first time the U.S. got access to A&N under LEMOA.
- India has already signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
- As a part of the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), India has also signed the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) with the U.S.
- The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) is still under negotiation as both sides try to iron out few reciprocal issues.
- In July, frontline warships of the Indian Navy conducted a PASSEX with the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz carrier strike group near the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) islands as it was transiting the Indian Ocean.
- The USS Nimitz was returning from the South China Sea through the Malacca Strait where it undertook freedom of navigation operations.
- There has been a sharp increase in India’s maritime interactions with the Quad countries on a bilateral basis centered around information sharing for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.
- India has logistics agreements with all three Quad countries — Australia, Japan and the U.S.
- India has also signed maritime information-sharing agreements with Australia and Japan and a similar agreement is in the works with the U.S.
Noumea Accord and New Caledonia
- The French South Pacific territory of New Caledonia votes in a referendum on independence recently, with voters rejected breaking away from France after almost 170 years despite rising support for the move.
- The referendum is part of a carefully negotiated de-colonization plan agreed in 1998, known as the Noumea Accord, designed to put an end to a deadly conflict between the mostly pro-independence indigenous Kanak population, and the descendants of European settlers known as “Caldoches”.
- It was the second time the archipelago went to the polls to decide on its fate in two years, after a first referendum in 2018 resulted in status quo with 56.7% of the vote.
India’s Nuclear Doctrine (TH)
- Context: India again reiterated that nuclear weapons should be abolished in a step-by-step non-discriminatory process.
- Addressing the High-level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (26th September), India said it remains committed to “No First Use” against nuclear-weapon states.
- India espouses the policy of ‘No First Use’ against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon states. India is a key partner in global efforts towards disarmament and strengthening the non-proliferation order.
India’s Nuclear Doctrine
What is No First Use doctrine, and how did it come into being?
- In January 2003, when Vajpayee was India’s Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met to review the progress in operationalizing the country’s nuclear doctrine. An official release issued that day summarized the decisions that were being put in the public domain.
- Nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere.
- India’s nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.
- In the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.
- Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorized by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.
- The Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council.
- While the Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Advisor (NSA), the Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister.
- India would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.
- India would continue to put strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participate in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continue to observe the moratorium on nuclear tests.
- India remains committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.
- An important aspect of India’s nuclear doctrine is credible minimum deterrence (CMD), which refers to the quantity of nuclear forces that India needs to deter potential nuclear adversaries.
- Issues such as terrorism and Tactical (nonstrategic) nuclear weapons (TNWs) were not mentioned in the Indian nuclear doctrine.
- Note: Pakistan, by contrast, has openly threatened India with the use of nuclear weapons on multiple occasions beginning from the time the two nations were not even acknowledged nuclear powers.
- India is one of two countries — China being the other — that adheres to a doctrine of No First Use (NFU).
Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs)
- Tactical nuclear weapons are low-yield short-range nuclear bombs that can be used to stall the progress of troops.
- They typically refer to short-range weapons, including land-based missiles with a range of less than 500 km and air- and sea-launched weapons with a range of less than 600 km.
- TNWs are the least-regulated category of nuclear weapons covered in arms control agreements.
Limitations of TNWs
- TNWs are extremely costly and complex to manufacture.
- These are difficult to transport, store and maintain under field conditions due to their intricate electronic components.
- TNWs are also vulnerable to battlefield accidents and are susceptible to unauthorized use (‘Mad Major Syndrome’).
Cold Start Doctrine of India
- The Cold Start doctrine sought to prepare the army in such a manner that offensive operations could be undertaken within 48 hours of the orders being issued, enabling the Indian troops to take their Pakistani counterparts by surprise.
- It is also known as ‘Proactive Offensive Operations’
- India has officially denied that the Cold Start doctrine exists.
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