Contents:

  1. Iran Admits its Missile Shot Down Ukraine Jet
  2. Ukraine Demands Justice, Compensation
  3. LCA Navy Varian successfully Lands on INS Vikramaditya
  4. Transgender Persons Act Comes into Effect
  5. We Won’t Leave Siachen: Army Chief
  6. 34 lakh OCI Cards Issued: Centre
  7. New method better estimates Melting of Debris-covered Himalayan Glaciers
  8. VR and Visual Memory
  9. Species-Rich forests offer stable Carbon Capture

IRAN ADMITS ITS MISSILE SHOT DOWN UKRAINE JET

  • Iran announced on 11th January, that its military ‘unintentionally’ shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.
  • The plane was shot down early 8th January, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No one was wounded in the attack on the bases.
  • It also said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted.

UKRAINE DEMANDS JUSTICE, COMPENSATION

  • Ukraine on Saturday demanded that Iran punish those guilty for the downing of a Ukrainian airliner and compensate victims while praising Tehran for cooperating with an “objective” investigation.
  • Canada, Sweden and Afghanistan also called for accountability after Iran’s admission.
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Iran downs Ukrainian Aircraft with Missile

LCA NAVY VARIANT SUCCESSFULLY LANDS ON INS VIKRAMADITYA

Why in news?

  • In a significant development, the naval version of India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) made its first arrested landing on the deck of India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
  • The Navy currently operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from INS Vikramaditya which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Vikrant once it enters service. 

Background

Aircraft carriers:

  • An aircraft carrier is a naval warship from which the fighter jets and airplanes may take off and land on them. It serves as a seagoing airbase and allows the naval force to project air power worldwide without the requirement for local bases for aircraft operations.
  • Vikramaditya aircraft carrier is currently in service with Indian Navy. INS Vikrant is the indigenous aircraft carrier under construction. INS Vishal will be the next aircraft carrier of this class.

INS Vikramaditya

  • INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev class aircraft carrier presently in service with the Indian Navy. It was originally commissioned in 1987 with the Soviet Navy and later served under the Russian navy and was decommissioned in 1996.
  • The aircraft carrier has been retrofitted with a Barak Missile system jointly developed by India and Israel.
  • INS Vikramaditya can carry out its operations up to a range of 13000 km and can carry over 1600 personal onboard.
  • The sensors and communication systems include the fitment of Long Range Air Surveillance Radar, Advanced Electronic Warfare Suite etc., to maintain surveillance in the area with radius of 500 km around the ship.
  • The aircraft carrier equipped with its kamov anti-submarine helicopters provides the Indian Navy a tactical advantage against the submarines which cannot hit back on the helicopters.
  • INS Vikramaditya has significantly increased the strength and overall effectiveness of the Indian Navy.

INS Vikrant (IAC-I)

  • INS Vikrant (IAC-I) is the first aircraft carrier manufactured in India for the Indian Navy. The aircraft carrier has been built by the Cochin Shipyard Limited and Kochi, Kerala.
  • The motto of INS Vikrant is “Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah (I defeat those who fight against me)”, is taken from Rigveda.
  • The construction of INS Vikrant received government approval in January 2003 and was ordered in 2004. It is still not commissioned.

INS Vishal (IAC-II)

  • INS Vishal is a planned aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy which is currently in design phase and is to be built by Cochin Shipyard Limited. It will be the first supercarrier to be constructed in India.
  • INS Vishal will have a new design that will be featuring significant changes from INS Vikrant. It will have an increased displacement and possibly an EMALS CATOBAR system for launching heavier fighter jets and aircraft.

TRANSGENDER PERSONS ACT COMES INTO EFFECT

Why in news?

The Social Justice Ministry issued a notification on January 10, 2019, notifying the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, which was passed by Parliament on November 26 and given Presidential assent on December 5, 2019.

Background

  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 Bill defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male.
  • Additionally, the bill states that the person’s gender must not match the assigned gender at birth.
  • Every transgender person in the country must obtain an identity certificate which will be used as the proof of recognition of identity as a transgender person and to avail all the rights under the Bill.
  • The identity certificate would be granted by the District Magistrate on the recommendation of a Screening Committee.
  • The screening committee for recommending the certificate would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 prohibits discriminating with transgender people in education, employment, healthcare and other areas.
  • The Bill directs the central and state governments for providing welfare schemes to the Transgender community in these areas.
  • The Bill also provides for the punishment of up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine for offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc.

WE WON’T LEAVE SIACHEN: ARMY CHIEF

Why in news?

  • The Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, said on 11th January, that the Army would not disengage from the Siachen Glacier as the world’s highest battlefield was key to deterring a two-­front engagement with Pakistan and China.
  • He outlined an increase in focus on improving infrastructure and capabilities in the North and the East.
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Map of Siachen Glacier area

34 LAKH OCI CARDS ISSUED: CENTRE

Why in news?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that more than 34 lakh Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registrations had been done but declined to divulge information relating to the number of persons whose OCI cards had been cancelled, citing non availability in a “consolidated form.”

Background

  • The Diaspora encompasses a group of people who can either trace their origins to India or who are Indian citizens living abroad, either temporarily or permanently.
  • It includes Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).
  • PIO and OCI card holders were merged under OCI category in 2015.
  • A person with OCI status is not an Indian citizen. The person does not have voting rights in India, nor can contest elections or hold any constitutional office.
  • An Overseas Citizen of India is however entitled to some benefits such as a multiple-entry, multi-purpose life-long visa to visit India.
  • They are exempted from police reporting for any length of stay in the country.
  • They are also granted all rights in parity with NRIs except, the right to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

NEW METHOD BETTER ESTIMATES MELTING OF DEBRIS-COVERED HIMALAYAN GLACIERS

Why in news?

A study of the Satopanth glacier in order to model the melting of debris-covered glaciers has been carried out by a group of Indian researchers. Their new method gives a better estimate of the glacier’s melting than existing ones.

Why is this study important?

Studying debris-laden Himalayan glaciers is important from the point of view of how climate change affects them. About 20% of Himalayan glaciers are debris-laden, and their dynamics are very different from the ones without debris cover. 

Effect of debris:

In glaciers without a debris cover, the rate of melting increases as the elevation decreases. However, in glaciers covered with debris, the thick cover partially insulates the glacier from the warm exterior and thereby slows down the melting. 

 The thickness of the debris cover, by and large, increases as the glacier flows down. This works against the general trend that the lower the elevation, the higher the rate of melting.
Matters are further complicated because the thickness of the debris cover is not uniform but fluctuates randomly.

Satopanth glacier:

  • Satopanth glacier is located in Garhwal in Central Himalaya, in Uttarakhand.
  • It is the origin of the river Alaknanda, one of the two main tributaries of the Ganga.
  • The other tributary is Bhagirathi, which originates from the Gangotri glacier.
  • These two rivers join at Devprayag, around 70 km upstream of Rishikesh.
  • Downstream of Devprayag, the river is called Ganga.
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Satopath Glacier Area

VR AND VISUAL MEMORY

Why in news?

  • Researchers have found that virtual reality (VR)—a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment usually experienced using head mounted displays (HMDs)—may interfere with visual memory, a finding that may lead to better application of the technology.
  • They speculate that the enhanced sense of realism and immersion created by the ability to look around freely, tires the brain and consequently prevents the formation of visual memory.
  • In further studies, the research team hopes to find out why visual memory is hindered when the participants can look around freely in VR.

Background:

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two. The best example of AR can be – ‘Pokemon Go’.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is all about the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with. This virtual world should be designed in such a way that users would find it difficult to tell the difference from what is real and what is not. Furthermore, VR is usually achieved by the wearing of a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift.

Difference and similarities

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are similar in the goal of immersing the user, though both systems to this in different ways. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a world that is completely fabricated. As it stands, VR might work better for video games and social networking in a virtual environment, such as Second Life, or even PlayStation Home.

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Virtual reality and Augmented Reality Comparision

SPECIES-RICH FORESTS OFFER STABLE CARBON CAPTURE

Why in news?

Spending over six months conducting surveys inside Anamalai Tiger Reserve and using satellite data from multiple locations in the Western Ghats, an international team of researchers has shown that carbon storage was highest in species-rich evergreen forest.

What is found in study?

  • The results showed that the species-rich evergreen forests stored carbon at approximately 300 tons per hectare.
  • The storage in teak and eucalyptus plantations was 43% and 55% less, respectively.
  • The researchers also found that the rates of carbon capture remained nearly the same year after year in natural forests compared with plantations.
  • This study can help transform reforestation policies.
  • Protecting and regenerating natural forests comprising a diverse mix of native tree species is more reliable in the long term than raising monoculture or species-poor plantations as a strategy for mitigating climate change.
  • Species-rich forests are beneficial for biodiversity as they also provide habitat to many other components — insects, birds, etc. Previous studies have shown that species-rich forests are also resistant to diseases.
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