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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 19 April 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. ARIES facility to host the support centre for Aditya-L1
  2. Nagaland forms panel on listing indigenous inhabitants
  3. China’s lead in share of critical battery minerals
  4. Fossils of Cynodonts found in Tiki Formation
  5. Junta leader or Myanmar Shadow govt. for ASEAN meet
  6. Copyright war: Oracle vs. Google case

ARIES facility to host the support centre for Aditya-L1

Context:

The Indian programme to study the Sun and the region between the Sun and the Earth from space – Aditya-L1 – is due to be launched in 2022.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Space technology, Developments in Science and Technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Aditya-L1
  2. What is Lagrange Point 1?
  3. Role of ARIES in functioning of Aditya-L1
  4. Extra information for Prelims: Other missions for Study of Sun

About Aditya-L1

  • Aditya-L1 is India’s first solar mission to study the Sun designed and to be built in collaboration between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and various Indian research institutes.
  • It is planned to be launched on the PSLV-C56 and it is now planned to be a comprehensive solar and space environment observatory to be placed at the Lagrangian point L1.
  • The Aditya-L1 mission will be inserted in a halo orbit around the L1 point, which is about 1.5 million km from Earth.
  • Aditya-L1 will be able to provide observations of Sun’s photosphere, chromosphere and corona.
  • Aditya L1 will be ISRO’s 2nd space-based astronomy mission after AstroSat, which was launched in 2015.

Objectives of Aditya-1

  • One of the major unsolved issues in the field of solar physics is that the upper atmosphere of the Sun is 1,000,000 K (1,000,000 °C) hot whereas the lower atmosphere is just 6,000 K (5,730 °C).
  • In addition, it is not understood how exactly the Sun’s radiation affects the dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere on shorter as well as on longer time scale.
  • The mission will obtain near simultaneous images of the different layers of the Sun’s atmosphere, which reveal the ways in which the energy may be channeled and transferred from one layer to another.
  • Thus, the Aditya-L1 mission will enable a comprehensive understanding of the dynamical processes of the Sun and address some of the outstanding problems in solar physics and heliophysics.

What is Lagrange Point 1?

  • Lagrange Points, named after Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
  • L1 refers to Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1, one of 5 points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system – which is about 1.5 million km from Earth, or about 1/100th of the way to the Sun.
  • A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
  • The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Reliable Academy | Study Materials | Aditya L1 Mission

Role of ARIES in functioning of Aditya-L1

  • Once the Aditya-L1 mission is launched, there will be a need for a ground support centre to monitor and coordinate the work on its various payloads.
  • This role will be played by the ARIES facility (Aryabhata Research Institute for observational Sciences) which is situated near Nainital. This centre will come up at Haldawani, where ARIES is setting up a data centre also.
  • An ARIES team has recently developed an algorithm to study the accelerating solar eruptions in the lower corona called CMEs Identification in Inner Solar Corona (in short, CIISCO), where CME stands for coronal mass ejection.
  • The group has also developed several advanced image processing algorithms to detect fine-scale structures in the solar atmosphere. Such techniques are important to capture dynamics at different spatial and temporal scales.
  • While ISRO will provide raw and calibrated spectra of the solar atmosphere, at ARIES researcher will further process the spectra to derive meaningful quantities such as intensity, Doppler velocities and line widths and provide these quantities to the scientific community.
  • Continuous monitoring of the location and duration of these features will help in monitoring the Earth directed CMEs and thereby, the space weather.

Extra information for Prelims: Other missions for Study of Sun

  • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’s aim is to trace how energy and heat move through the Sun’s corona and to study the source of the solar wind’s acceleration. It is part of NASA’s ‘Living with a Star’ programme that explores different aspects of the Sun-Earth system.
  • The earlier Helios 2 solar probe, a joint venture between NASA and space agency of erstwhile West Germany, went within 43 million km of the Sun’s surface in 1976.

-Source: The Hindu


Nagaland forms panel on listing indigenous inhabitants

Context:

The Nagaland government has decided to form a joint consultative committee (JCC) involving all traditional tribal bodies and, civil society organisations for taking an exercise to register the State’s indigenous inhabitants.

Recently, an apex body of Naga tribes, Naga Hoho had cautioned the Nagaland Government with respect to preparation of the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), seen as a variant of Assam’s National Register of Citizens.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies, Issues Related to Population)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)?
  2. Who are the Nagas?
  3. Concern of the Nagas

What is the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)?

  • The Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) is a register that aims to prepare a master list of all indigenous peoples and check the issuance of fake indigenous inhabitant certificates.
  • The RIIN exercise was launched in 2019 with the objective of preventing outsiders from obtaining fake indigenous certificates for seeking jobs and benefits of government schemes, however, the exercise was suspended following protests from community-based and extremist organizations. Since then, the Nagaland government has been trying to revive the RIIN exercise.
  • The RIIN will be prepared after an extensive survey with the help of a village-wise and ward-wise list of indigenous inhabitants based on official records.
  • No fresh indigenous inhabitant certificate will be issued after the RIIN is completed except for children born to the State’s indigenous inhabitants who will be issued indigenous certificates along with birth certificates.
  • The RIIN will also be integrated with the online system for Inner-Line Permit – ILP (the ILP is a temporary document that non-inhabitants are required to possess for entry into and travel in Nagaland).
  • The entire exercise will be monitored by the Commissioner of Nagaland. In addition, the state government will designate nodal officers of the rank of a Secretary to the state government.

Who are the Nagas?

  • The Nagas are not a single tribe, but an ethnic community, belonging to Indo-Mongoloid Family, that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood. There are also Naga groups in Myanmar.
  • There are nineteen major Naga tribes, namely, Aos, Angamis, Changs, Chakesang, Kabuis, Kacharis, Khain-Mangas, Konyaks, Kukis, Lothas (Lothas), Maos, Mikirs, Phoms, Rengmas, Sangtams, Semas, Tankhuls, Yamchumgar and Zeeliang.

Concern of the Nagas

  • If RIIN implemented the identification process with 1st December, 1963 (the day Nagaland attained statehood) as the cut-off date for determining the permanent residents of the State, it is likely to exclude Nagas who have come from beyond the boundaries of Nagaland.
  • Naga tribes living in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in India and in Myanmar have a legitimate claim to their ancestral homeland.
  • There are thousands of Nagas who have bought lands, built houses and settled down in Nagaland for several decades.
  • In the absence of records such as land pattas, house taxes paid or enrolment in electoral rolls prior to 1st December, 1963 many procedural anomalies will crop up even within the so-called pure Nagas of Nagaland.
  • The non-indigenous Nagas could be treated as “illegal immigrants” and their lands and property confiscated. The idea of the Nagas as a people to live together and their aspiration to live with self-determination will be irreparably damaged.

-Source: The Hindu


China’s lead in share of critical battery minerals

Context:

A group of 17 elements, dubbed rare earths and placed at the bottom of periodic table, have remarkable electrical and magnetic properties, while a dozen others can store energy and transmit them with minimal losses. These elements, such as neodymium, molybdenum, titanium, lithium, cobalt, vanadium etc., are crucial in the new energy era where a battery is key for storing the variable solar and wind energy and powering vehicles.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Distribution of Key Natural Resources, Mineral & Energy Resources), GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure, GS Paper-II: International Relations (India and its Neighborhood)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding the battery and the minerals used
  2. Scramble for the availability of these minerals
  3. Dominance of China
  4. Reasons for Dominance of China
  5. De-risk supply disruption: How other countries are reacting?

Understanding the battery and the minerals used

  • Essentially, batteries have three main parts: cathode, anode and electrolyte, which collect and discharge electricity.
  • Different minerals are used for making these parts depending on the technology. For instance, rechargeable batteries in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) use a nickel-metal hydride which involves rare earth elements.

Batteries are basically classified into 2 types:

  1. Non-rechargeable batteries (primary batteries) – they can be used only once.
  2. Rechargeable batteries (secondary batteries) – can be recharged and can be reused.

Important Types of Batteries

  1. Alkaline batteries: It is basically constructed with the chemical composition of Zinc (Zn) and Manganese dioxide (MnO2), as the electrolyte used in it is potassium hydroxide (KOH) which is purely an alkaline substance.
  2. Coin cell batteries: Apart from alkaline composition, lithium and silver oxide chemicals will be used to manufacture these batteries.
  3. Lead-acid batteries: It consists of lead-acid which is very cheap and seen mostly in cars and vehicles to power the lighting systems in it.
  4. Ni-Cd batteries: These batteries are made of Nickel and Cadmium chemical composition. These are very rarely used; these are very cheap and their discharge rate is very low.
  5. Ni-MH batteries: The Nickel – Metal Hydride batteries are much preferable than Ni-Cad batteries because of their lower environmental impact.
  6. Li-ion batteries: These are made up of Lithium metal and are latest in rechargeable technology. As these are compact in size, they can be used in most of the portable applications which need high power specifications. These are the best rechargeable batteries available.

Scramble for the availability of these minerals

The global scramble is particularly high for lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper and graphite that are key to the dominant lithiumion (Li-ion) batteries, used to power anything from mobile phones to electric cars to power grids.

Global uncertainties around their supply loom large as these minerals are concentrated in a few pockets and their supply chain is controlled by even fewer players.

Example: Lithium:

  • In theory, Li is sufficiently available in the Earth’s crust, subsurface brines and even seawater.
  • The salt flats of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile hold 54 % of the world’s lithium resources. The dominant position of the Latin American trio makes them known as the lithium triangle.
  • But when it comes to production, Australia takes the top spot (by contributing almost 50 % of the global trade flow), followed by Chile (22 %) and China (17 %).
  • This disruption has become possible as supply chains are heavily concentrated – and Chinese companies have pursued mine investments in both Australia and Latin America to ensure an overall command of lithium supply chain.
  • Most mines of these critical minerals are located in fragile and unstable parts of the world.

Dominance of China

  • China today controls 70-80 % of the global trade of most critical minerals.
  • This growing dominance of China over reserves and supply chain of critical minerals has sent jitters across most parts of the world, which is wary of the Asian giant’s intentions.
  • During the early part of the last decade, when China cut its export quota of rare earths making global supply uncertain, it had stirred trade disputes – as US, Japan and EU had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which in 2014 said China’s rare earth export quota was inconsistent with the body’s regulations.
  • With mega battery factories, China dominates more than 70 % of the battery supply chain.

Reasons for Dominance of China

  • China has grabbed the advantage of being the sector’s early bird to systematically build its trade and industry.
  • Starting around 2010, its electro-economy has grown to dominate the entire chain — from upstream mining of battery raw material (lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, manganese and rare earth elements), to midstream production of battery grade chemicals, cathode and anode; and to downstream production of Li-ion battery cells and other end products.
  • In 2019, China accounts for 23 % of the global mine-output of battery minerals. Yet its chemical companies churn out 80 % of the world’s processed battery-grade raw materials and 66 % of the global production of cathodes and anodes for Li-ion batteries.
  • In 2020 China led the world’s battery cell production with a more than 60 % share, while the US was in second place with less than 15 %.

Where China does not have enough reserves, it is accessing mines overseas.

  • China has supported mining and processing firms and mega battery manufacturing facilities with low-interest loans. Trade policy has, thus, secured minerals needed for batteries, especially for EVs.
  • China has developed a comprehensive battery manufacturing supply chain internally and also the world’s largest public charging network.
  • To help build the domestic industry, China requires foreign automakers to enter joint ventures with Chinese firms to share profits and technology. Several global vehicle brands have entered into joint ventures with Chinese companies to access markets and secure supplies of battery materials.

De-risk supply disruption: How other countries are reacting?

  • With decarbonisation and the net-zero race gaining pace, countries have started to strategise to reduce dependence on China. The US and EU are taking steps to reduce supply risks and price volatility. Nations are jostling to invest in mines of these critical minerals to secure direct access to raw material outside China or getting into offtake agreements.
  • New mines are opening up in Latin America and other regions. Countries are improving stockpiling of these minerals, particularly cobalt which faces severe supply constraints. They are exploring substitution of such materials either by increasing battery-cell efficiency or by changing to a different chemistry. Focus is also shifting towards recycling of end-of-life of batteries to recover rare earths and other such critical minerals.
  • The US is prioritising mining and processing at home and in partner countries. Three North American companies are setting up a rare earths supply chain to reduce dependence on China for EVs and other technologies.
  • Europe is aggressively building its own supply network, with rise in EV sales. The European Commission has launched an action plan on critical raw materials and an industry alliance to strengthen EU’s “strategic autonomy” on key raw materials. Europe aims to be 80 per cent self-sufficient in lithium for battery storage by 2025.
  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) has proposed the idea of the G20 nations setting up a process to handle emerging tensions and also the possibility of the US, EU, China, Japan and South Korea pledging to increase support to international R&D initiatives on EVs.
EMERGING ELECTRO 
WORLD 
The transition to electro-economy is 
likelytobenefitbatterymanufacturing 
hubs like China, Europe and the US 
Canada 
• USA 
The US is currently the fourth largest 
importer of cobalt and fifth largest 
importer of lithium and graphite. 
It accounts for 14.2 per cent Of the world's 
batterycellproductionandishometoelectric 
vehicle behemoth Tesla. Due to its trade war 
with China, thecou ntryisprioritisingdomestic 
mining and processing, and also in partner 
countries in Africa. 
Poland. Germany and Austria are emerging 
as the battery manufacturing hubs of the 
world. This will create a ready market for Finland 
and other mineral-rich European countries. 
Finland 
•¯Ger.many 
Belgium 
Fra 
Congo 
Mozambique 
Madagascar 
Congo alone meets 87 per 
cent of global cobalt needs. 
Mozambique is the 
second largest exporter of 
graphite. Zimbabwe, South 
Africa and Madagascar 
have healthy reserves of lithium 
and cobalt. 
China 
China is in a unique position as it is the 
largest producer of batteries. As a result, it is 
both a la rge producer and importer Of ra reearth 
materials, and dominates the sector. Japan is 
the other important Asian player in the battery 
sector that imports high quantities Of 
graphite. lithium and nickel. 
Japan 
Philippines 
Papua New Guinea 
Chile and 
Argentina 
arethemajorexporters 
Of lithium globally 
(70 per cent). Brazil 
is the fourth 
largest graphite 
exporter. 
Chile 
Argentina 
Reserves 
cobalt 
Nickel 
Lithium 
Graphite 
Majortrade routes 
Indonesia 
New Caledonia 
o Australia 
Australia started exploiting its huge 
reservesoflithium,cobaltandnickelrecently 
in 2012. It is currently a major exporter Of 
nickel alone but can challenge Chinat 
rare earth-dominance because of its 
healthy reserves. 
Sources: States Suwey, UN CO mtrade. The Observatory Of Corn p I exity and 
the Centre d •Etudes PTO-S*Ctives et d • Infomations Intemationales

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


Fossils of Cynodonts found in Tiki Formation

Context:

The Tiki Formation in Madhya Pradesh, a treasure trove of vertebrate fossils, has now yielded a new species and two genera of cynodonts, small rat-like animals that lived about 220 million years ago.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography (Geomorphology, Origin & Evolution of Earth)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Tiki Formation
  2. New Species found: The Study and significance of Cynodonts

Tiki Formation

  • The Tiki Formation is a Late Triassic (Carnian to Norian) geologic formation in Madhya Pradesh, northern India.
  • Dinosaur remains are among the fossils that have been recovered from the formation, although none have yet been referred to a specific genus.
  • Phytosaur remains attributable to the genus Volcanosuchus have also been found in the Tiki Formation.
  • The genera Tikiodon, Tikitherium and Tikisuchus and species Rewaconodon tikiensis, Hyperodapedon tikiensis and Parvodus tikiensis have been named after the Tiki Formation.
  • The majority of the Tiki Formation correlates with the Ischigualasto Formation of Argentina, the upper part of the Santa Maria Formation, and the overlying lower Caturrita Formation of Brazil, the Isalo II Beds of Madagascar, Lossiemouth Sandstone of Scotland, and the lower Tecovas Formation of the Chinle Group of North America.

New Species found: The Study and significance of Cynodonts

  • The researchers used scanning electron microscopy to study teeth samples and the results showed that they had found a new species, and they named it Rewaconodon indicus, indicating India, the country it was discovered from.
  • The team also identified two new genera from the area. The first was named Inditherium floris and the second was named Tikiodon cromptoni.
  • Cynodonts are important in evolutionary studies as this group ultimately gave rise to the present-day mammals.
  • By studying their molar and premolar teeth, we see how they slowly evolved and modified. Their crown shape shows that these animals are actually intermediate forms that are very near to the mammalian line of evolution.
  • The close relationship of cynodonts with living mammals is seen in their bones. They also have differentiated teeth a secondary palate in their mouths, which, like humans, allowed them to breathe and eat at the same time.

-Source: The Hindu


Junta leader or Myanmar Shadow govt. for ASEAN meet

Context:

Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing is set to join a special ASEAN summit according to Thai Foreign Ministry.

Myanmar’s shadow government urged Southeast Asian leaders to give it a seat at the table during crisis talks next week, and not to recognise the military regime that seized power in a February coup.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign policies and developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The story so far: Situation of chaos in Myanmar
  2. About the recent developments in the Myanmar Coup
  3. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The story so far: Situation of chaos in Myanmar

The story so far: Situation of chaos in Myanmar

  • For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and its myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world’s longest-running ongoing civil wars.
  • During this time, the United Nations and several other organisations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country.
  • In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following a 2010 general election, and a nominally civilian government was installed.
  • This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, had improved the country’s human rights record and foreign relations and has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions.
  • There is, however, continuing criticism of the government’s treatment of ethnic minorities, its response to the ethnic insurgency, and religious clashes.
  • In the 2015 election, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a majority in both houses – however, the Burmese military remained a powerful force in politics.

About the recent developments in the Myanmar Coup

  • The February Coup triggered a massive uprising, bringing hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets to demand a return to democracy, while civil servants have boycotted work in a bid to shutter the junta’s administration.
  • The military has deployed lethal force to quell the anti-coup movement, killing more than 720 people.
  • The international community has largely condemned the generals for use of force against unarmed civilians — imposing targeted sanctions against top military brass, their families and army-linked businesses.
  • The military chief’s invitation to the meeting of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations has drawn scorn from activists and former lawmakers who have urged foreign leaders not to formally recognise the junta.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Ten Countries in Southeast Asia.
  • In 1967 ASEAN was established with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • ASEAN is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • 8th August is observed as ASEAN Day.
  • Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • ASEAN is the 3rd largest market in the world – larger than EU and North American markets.
  • A major partner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific.

Members of ASEAN

  1. Indonesia
  2. Malaysia
  3. Philippines
  4. Singapore
  5. Thailand
  6. Brunei
  7. Vietnam
  8. Laos
  9. Myanmar
  10. Cambodia
ASEAN Member Countries 
Thailand 
Cambodia 
Malaysia 
Indonesia 
Myanmar 
Singapore 
Laos 
Vietnam 
Philip 'les 
Brunei 
Darussalam

ASEAN’s Objectives:

  1. To promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.
  2. To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations.
  3. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  4. To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations.

-Source: The Hindu


Copyright war: Oracle vs. Google case

Context:

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a case where it was accused by Oracle of violating the country’s copyright law.

Relevance:

GS-III: Intellectual Property Rights, GS-II: International Relations (Foreign policies and developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The story so far
  2. More About the case
  3. Court’s argument in favour of Google
  4. Global implication of the ruling

The story so far: Copyright battle between Google and Oracle

  • Supreme court of US has favoured Alphabet Inc.’s Google where is it was accused by Oracle of violating the country’s copyright law. 
  • This case is dubbed as “the copyright case of the century”.
  • In 2010, Federal district court, ruled in favour Oracle by stating that Google’s Android platform infringed upon its copyright in a platform called Java SE. This ruling was overturned in recent judgement.

More About the case

  • Earlier, Oracle acquired Java language from Sun Microsystems (original developers of Java). However, later it was found that Google used some codes of Java language in its android program. JAVA SE (standard edition) is a platform that programmers use to build programs that work on any personal computer. Oracle’s charge was that Google copied a part of this platform’s program while developing the Android platform for programmers.
  • Court acknowledged that Google copied over 11500 lines of code from the Java SE program.

Court’s argument in favour of Google

  • Court said that whatever google did by copying the code for its android platform is based on the fair use of copyrights. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances.” So, activities such as “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research” may qualify under fair use. In other words, these activities can be exempt from copyright infringement charges.
  • The Supreme Court said Google’s copying was transformative, as it “copied only what was needed to allow programmers to work in a different computing environment” (which is Android) using a familiar programming language (Java).

Global implication of the ruling

  • It would provide freedom to software developers who are using software interfaces developed by others without infringing the copyrights of the original developers. However, creative code would still be subjected to copyright rules.
  • Now, any firm or software developer could use software interface code for their program without violating any copyright rules.
  • This would definitely benefit IT/ITES industry of India.

-Source: The Hindu

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