The Defence Research and Development Organisation recently developed the Single Crystal Blade Technology. The organisation has delivered sixty of such blades to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. A very few countries in the world possess this technology. They are UK, USA, Russia and France.
What is Single Crystal Blade?
The helicopters need powerful and compact aero engines to operate in extreme conditions. In order to achieve this, Single Crystal Blades are essential.
The Single Crystal blades are made of nickel based super alloys. These alloys are capable of withstanding low temperatures.
The technology is to be used in helicopters.
What is Single Crystal Blade Technology?
Normally the “Grain Boundary” technology is used in making blades. Here the metal forms grains while solidifying.
Usually, metal alloys are used in making blades. Different metals in the alloy produce different grains while solidifying thereby creating grain boundaries. Basically, a grain boundary is an interface between two grains or crystals. These boundaries lead to creep in the blades.
The problem of creep is overcome in Single Crystal Blade technology by designing alloys that can be used in single crystal form. This means that no boundaries will be formed here.
The technology uses a vacuum investment casting process to realise the blades. This includes ceramic moulding, wax patterning, heat treatment.
It is essential to formulate special ceramic composition for the technology. This involves making strong ceramic moulds that withstands metallostatic pressure at 1500 degrees Celsius.
What is a Creep?
Creep is the tendency of blade material to deform at low temperatures.
Benefits of Single Crystal Blade Technology
The blades created under this technology has longer life and are more corrosion resistant.
A Community Service Centre has been set up on board India’s first dedicated Solar Space Mission. The centre is called ALISC. ALISC is Aditya-L1 Support Cell. It is to be set up at the ARIES at Haldwani, Uttarakhand.
It is a joint effort of ISRO and ARIES. ISRO is Indian Space Research Organisation and ARIES is Arybhata Research Institute for Observational Sciences.
The Centre will accommodate guest observers and will help them by providing data from the mission to analyse the findings.
It will bring all the data from the mission under one single interface.
Also, ALISC will establish periodic training on data analysis. It will also hold frequent E-workshops.
The knowledge to be provided by ALISC will help scientists to connect the features in heliosphere to the surface of the sun.
Aditya-L1 is an Indian space mission that will study the sun and also the region between the earth and the sun. It is to carry seven payloads developed by different institutions of the country.
One of the payloads is the VELC, that is, Visible Emission Line Coronograph.
The satellite weighs 400 kilograms and is to be launched in the low earth orbit at a height of 800 km. Orbits that are at a height of less than 1000 km from the earth are called Low Earth Orbits.
Why was Adity-1 revised as Adity-L1 mission?
A satellite that is placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point L1 has the advantage to view the sun continuously without any obstacles such as eclipses. Thus, the satellite is to be placed in a halo orbit around L1. This is why it was renamed as Aditya-L1 mission.
ARIES will provide the ground support to the monitor and coordinate the work on its payloads.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare recently announced that around 14,491 hectares of land in Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been certified as organic. This is the first large contiguous territory to be certified under government scheme.
The organic certification was provided under the Large Area Certification Scheme of the Participatory Guarantee System certification programme.
Large Area Certification Scheme
Under the scheme, each village is considered as one cluster or group. The farmers have to adhere to the standard requirements without the need to undergo a conversion period to get certified. This was launched under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.
Basically, under the standard norms of organic production systems, the areas with chemical input usage history will have to undergo a transition period of two to three years to get qualified as organic. This transition period has been removed under the Large Certification Scheme.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
The scheme was launched in 2014 to promote natural farming.
Currently there are more than 30 lakh hectares of registered areas holding organic certification.
India today ranks fifth in terms of area under natural farming and first in terms of total number of producers.
What is Participatory Guarantee Scheme?
It is a scheme that certifies organic products. The scheme is implemented by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. The certification is in the form of statement or logo. The certification is issued based on the Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations. These regulations were notified by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in 2017.
The Asian Development Bank has provided fiscal support of 1.5 billion USD to India to fight against COVID-19 crisis. This is according to the Annual Report, 2020 of ADB that was released recently. This is part of the fiscal support the bank has set aside for pandemic.
Key Findings of the Report
The Asian Development Bank had allocated 31.6 billion USD for Asia and Pacific regions in 2020. This is to support a green and sustainable green recovery. Also, it focused on long term development projects.
In 2020, the Asian Development Bank allocated 16.1 billion USD for COVID-19 pandemic. This is more than half of the total financial assistance committed by the bank.
Of the 16.2 billion USD, 2.9 billion USD was for the private sector.
The financial support committed by ADB for the Asia and Pacific regions is 32% higher than that of 2019. In 2019, the bank allocated 24 billion USD to the region. In 2019, the bank focused on equity investments, grants and technical assistance to public and private sector.
India accounted to 16.29% of total loans at the bank and was the largest borrower. China was the second largest borrower contributing to 15.25%.
ADB Contributions to India
The following loans were provided by Asian Development Bank in the year 2020
ADB provided 1.5 billion USD for India to fight COVID-19. This was under the CARES Programme.
ADB approved 484 million for CKIC project
100 million USD to boost power supply in Bengaluru
346 Million USD Loan under RBL Modality
177 million USD to upgrade Maharashtra State Highways
1 billion USD for 2025 visioned Delhi-Meerut Rapid transit system
177 million USD to develop roadways
133 million USD Loan for Meghalaya Power Distribution Sector
ADB is supporting the modern rapid transport system in India with a loan of 500 million USD.
ADB provided 100 million USD loan to the Smart Energy Project that will make cities livelier. The project aims to convert overhead distribution lines to underground cables
50 million USD was provided to support public financial management reforms in West Bengal.
ADB provided 3 million USD under its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund.
These are the loans provided by ADB to Government of India and state governments. There are other loans granted to private companies in India as well. For instance, Reliance received loan from ADB to build a power project in Bangladesh.
The Indian Air Force recently deployed two Mi-17V5 helicopters equipped with Bambi Bucket to control the forest fires. The forest fires have been raging in the hills of south Mizoram.
Most Fire Prone Zones
The Lunglei and Aizwal of Mizoram where the forest fires are currently raging is the most fire-prone zone in India according to the Forest Fire Disaster Management report, 2014. So far, Lunglei has recorded 13,453 forest fires between 2003 and 2016.
Forest Fires in Mizoram
The fire season of the state is between February and May. The maximum incidents of fires are reported in the months of April and May.
The state has increased number of forest fires due to Slash and burn or shifting cultivation, burning farm residues, collection of non-timber forest produces and clearance of land for other purposes.
In 2021, so far, the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) has reported 1,604 fire alerts.
Forest Fire Disaster Management Report, 2014
It was prepared by the National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi.
Strengthening Forest Fire Management in India Report
It was jointly prepared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and World Bank.
At least 60% of Indian districts are affected by forest fires.
The states in the North East account for the greatest share of fire detections.
The Central India is the largest area affected by forest fires.
Forest Survey of India, 2019
The Survey divided the forest fire prone into following zones:
Extremely fire-prone areas accounted to 3.89% of total forest cover
Very highly fire-prone areas accounted to 6.01%
Highly fire prone areas: 11.50%
Together these three categories add up to 21.4% of forest cover.
The Reserve Bank of India recently released the State of Economy Report for the month of April 2021.
Key Findings of the Report
The resurgence of COVID-19 might bring back inflationary pressures.
Also, the restrictions and disruptions in supply chains might add up to the inflationary pressures.
Under the G-Sec Acquisition Programme, RBI aims to buy 1 trillion worth of bonds from the secondary market in June quarter.
Solutions to handle the issue
The Reserve Bank of India has provided the following solutions in its State of Economy Report to tackle the COVID-19 crisis in the country:
To ramp up hospital and ancillary capacity
To remain focused on post pandemic future of strong and sustainable growth with financial stability
Current Pace of Vaccination in India
According to the report, India has set a vaccination target of 300 million by August 2021. This will require 3.5 million shots per day. It is 13% higher than the current pace noted. However, RBI expects that the vaccination pace will increase due to the improvised and accelerated strategy of third phase of Vaccination in the country.
The RBI is to conduct a survey in 21 states to learn about customer satisfaction in the recent bank mergers. The recent bank mergers are as follows:
Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank was merged with Bank of Baroda
Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India was merged with Punjab National Bank
Syndicate Bank with Canara Bank
Allahabad bank with Indian Bank
Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank with Union Bank of India
Met Office and Microsoft are to build a weather forecasting supercomputer in the UK. The UK Government is to invest 1.2 billion Pound Sterling in the project.
About the Supercomputer
The supercomputer is expected to be one of the top twenty-five supercomputers in the world.
It will help in better understanding of Climate Change.
The supercomputer will provide the following:
It will provide detailed weather models
It will help to improve localised forecasts
It will run more potential weather scenarios
It will help predict severe weather
The Supercomputer is to run completely on renewable energy. This will help to save 7,415 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide in one year. Supercomputers release huge amounts of heat and thus a strong cooling system is required for their operation. Thus, energy required to maintain supercomputers is high.
It will have more than 1.5 million processor cores
The supercomputer will be able to do 60 quadrillion calculations per second, which is 60,000,000,000,000,000.
The Supercomputer will be used to create detailed city scale simulations to provide localised climate reports.
It will help the aviation industry with an accurate forecast of temperature and wind information. This in turn will help to improve the fuel efficiency.
It will help UK to achieve its net Zero target by 2050.
Since 2017 the top 500 supercomputers of the world are running on Linux-based Operating System.
The performance of supercomputers is now measured in Floating Point operations per second called FLOPS. Earlier they were measured in Million Instructions per Second.
Lenovo became the largest provider of Top 500 supercomputers. It has provided 117 units of the top 500 supercomputers in the world.
The Government of India recently welcomed the ASEAN Initiative on Myanmar.
ASEAN Initiative on Myanmar
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations released a five-point statement on Myanmar crisis. Under the statement, the ASEAN countries have demanded “Immediate Cessation of Violence”. The five points of the initiative are as follows:
To end violence
Organise a constructive dialogue among all parties
To appoint a special ASEAN Envoy to facilitate the all-party dialogue
Acceptance of aid
The Special ASEAN Envoy will visit Myanmar with the Military leader
What is the issue?
The military of Myanmar dismissed the Government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.
The five-point consensus was created between the ASEAN countries and the current military leader who seized power. There have been massive protests in the country since the military coup. The consensus is being criticised that ASEAN is encouraging military coup. Also, the consensus did not mention a timeline. It also neglected the political prisoners in Myanmar.
Brunei is the current chair of ASEAN.
The Issue of Myanmar-IN DEPTH
Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948. Between 1962 and 2011, the country was ruled by armed forces. It was the ruling military that changed the name of Burma into Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Father of Myanmar (Aung San) returned to Myanmar in 1988. She was put under house arrest by the military in 1989. In 2010, Suu Kyi was freed. In 2012, she won a by-election and took a seat in the Parliament.
In 2015, the National League for Democracy party won the elections. However, the military barred Suu Kyi from presidency. A post of State counsellor was created for Suu Kyi to run the Government.
In February 2021 elections, the National League for Democracy won the elections again. The Tatmadaw (Name of Myanmar military) declared state of emergency. It also declared that the power is being transferred to the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services.
The World Immunisation Week is celebrated every year in the last week of April. It aims to promote the use of vaccines. This year, in 2021, the World Immunisation Week is to be celebrated under the following theme:
Need for World Immunisation Week
There are more than twenty million children in the world that miss out vaccines.
During COVID-19, several children missed their measles and polio vaccines.
Working of Vaccines
Vaccines teach the immune system how to act against new diseases. Currently, human body is incapable to fight against COVID-19. This is because, the human immune system is not able to recognise that COVID-19 is dangerous. The COVID-19 vaccines such as COVAXIN and COVISHIELD teach the immune system to identify the virus as invaders and kill them.
A vaccine has two parts namely antigen and adjuvant. Antigen is a piece of the disease-causing parasite. On the other hand, Adjuvant sends danger signals to the body and helps the immune system respond strongly to the antigen.
Ingredients in a Vaccine
Apart from antigens and adjuvant, the vaccine also consists of preservatives, stabilizers, surfactants, residuals, diluent. Preservatives are added to prevent the vaccine from becoming contaminated. The Stabilisers are added to prevent the chemical reactions from occurring within the vaccine. Surfactants keep the ingredients in the vaccine blended together. Diluent is a liquid used to dilute the vaccine.
Google and Microsoft have recently pledged to help India fight COVID-19. Google is to provide 18 million USD (Rs 135 crores). Microsoft is to help India with relief efforts to buy oxygen concentration devices. The initiatives and the announcements about the funding were made by Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft.
About the plan
The relief amounts of Google in the form of grants are to go to non-profit organisations UNICEF and GiveIndia.
Through GiveIndia, Google is to provide cash assistance to families hit by the pandemic.
The grant being provided to UNICEF is to be used to make urgent medical supplies. This includes testing equipment and lifesaving oxygen equipment.
Also, more than 900 Google employees paid a total of Rs 3.7 crores.
Twitter and Facebook
While Sundar Pichai and Nadella were making the announcements, Jack Dorsey and Zuckerberg were silent. Jack Dorsey is the CEO of Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of Facebook. Lately, Dorsey and Zuckerberg have had strained relations with the Indian Government due to the censorship and privacy policies of the latter.
What is the issue between GoI and Twitter, Facebook?
In 2019, the Government of India ordered Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to remove 3,433 URLs between January and October, 2019. The numbers have increased by five times since 2016. This was done under Section 69A of Information Technology Act.
Section 69A of IT act
It provides powers to block public access of any information through a computer resource. Persons failing to comply with the directions shall be punished with an imprisonment up to seven years.
The World Health Organisation recently identified twenty-five countries with the potential to eradicate malaria by 2025. This is called the E-2025 initiative.
What is the plan?
The identified 25 countries will work by responding to the dual threat of malaria and COVID-19. The WHO is to provide technical guidance and specialised support to these countries under the initiative.
Three of the identified countries were from Africa namely Eswatini, Botswana and South Africa.
Malaria in Africa
Africa shares 94% of global malaria death burden. The recent evidence has shown drug resistant mutations in Africa.
South Africa is the hotspot of COVID-19 in Africa. Malaria has increased by 44% in the country between 2019 and 2020 due to COVID-19. This is mainly because vaccination drives could not be conducted due to lock down.
In Botswana, Malaria has increased by five times. This was mainly because of reverse migration that occurred from urban to rural due to lock down.
The World Health Organisation launched the E-2020 initiative in 2017. The E-2020 aimed to support a group of countries to achieve zero indigenous cases of malaria by 2020. However, certain countries are yet to achieve this target. Thus, they were identified under the E-2025 initiative and new plan is to be launched.
How were the countries selected?
The countries were selected based on four criteria. They were as follows:
Establishment of Government-endorsed elimination plan
The country should have met the threshold of malaria case reductions in recent years
The country should have the capacity of malaria surveillance
It should have been selected by the WHO Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee
The Indian Army recently initiated the Ladakh Ignited Mines Project to provide educational opportunities for the Ladakhi students.
About the project
The project aims to provide better future for the Ladakhi youths.
The Indian Army has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement the project. The MoU has been signed with HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited) and a Kanpur based NGO called the National Integrity and Educational Development Organisation.
The MoU was signed in Leh.
The project will train forty-five students from Kargil and Leh districts. It will train twenty girls.
The project will train the students for JEE and NEET entrance examinations.
Recent Developments in Ladakh
UPSC recently added Leh as its exam centre.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is to set up its first Geothermal Power project in Ladakh.
About the Geo Thermal Project
In the first phase, ONGC will drill up to 500 metres to tap hot sulphur and steam that spews out of the geysers.
In the second phase, drilling will be done deeper to explore the potential of the reservoir.
In the third phase, a commercial plant will be set up. The estimated power capacity of the plant is 250 MW.
Importance of Ladakh
Ladakh produces abundant natural resources with annual solar radiation greater than the other areas of India with high insolation.
It is popularly known as Lama Land or Little Tibet. It has numerous tourism opportunities at an altitude of 9,000 feet and 25,170 feet. Also, it has several monasteries.
The presence of abundant resources in Ladakh is what makes India, Pakistan and China fight over Ladakh.
Tissue Chips are devices designed to mimic the functions of human organs. They are also called Organ on chips.
Why is it in News?
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration recently launched Crew 2 Mission. The mission carried four astronauts to the International Space Station.
The astronauts are to conduct more than two hundred experiments in space. One of them is using Tissue Chips.
What is the plan?
The astronauts will use the Tissue chips and find out how bodily systems respond to spaceflight. The following are the experiments to be conducted by the astronauts using the tissue chips:
The kidney stones happen to form in micro gravity conditions very quickly. One tissue chip investigation will look into the reasons behind this.
The other tissue chip investigation will look at how immune system of the body respond to microgravity conditions. This investigation on Human Immune System has been named CHIME.
Chime is Characterizing Human Immunodeficiency in Microgravity Environments Microgravity. This project is sponsored by the UAE. The project will look into how microgravity affects the differentiation of monocytes into macrophages. Macrophages are cells involved in detection and destruction of bacteria. Monocytes are White Blood Cells.
Several changes that occur in human body during spaceflight progresses aging. Also, diseases in the earth occur much more quickly in microgravity conditions. The astronauts will conduct experiments using the tissue chips to find out the reasons behind these things.
Crew 2 Mission
It was launched under the Commercial Crew Programme of NASA. It aims to transport cargo and crew to and from the International Space Station.