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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 5 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Navy to host its largest exercise, Ex Milan in 2022
  2. Nobel for deciphering the science of Touch and Temperature
  3. Oil importer India’s options as price surges
  4. Chola inscriptions detail qualifications for civic officials

Navy to host its largest exercise, Ex Milan in 2022

Context:

India is set to host its largest naval exercise, Ex Milan, early 2022 for which 46 countries have been invited according to a senior defence official.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Internal Security Challenges, GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Milan (naval exercise)
  2. Organization and the Commands of the Indian Navy
  3. About recent developments in engagements of the Indian Navy

Milan (naval exercise)

  • Milan is a multilateral naval exercise hosted by the Indian Navy under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
  • The biennial event which started in 1995 features professional exercises and seminars, social events and sporting fixtures between participating nations.
  • The Navy has held 10 editions of the Milan exercise, with the theme of “synergy across the seas” to enhance professional interactions between friendly foreign navies and learn best practices from each other, since 1995.

Milan exercises in the past

  • The event has been held biennially except for 2001, 2005, and 2016. The 2001 and 2016 editions were not held because of the International Fleet Review, while the 2005 event was postponed to 2006 due to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
  • The most recent edition of Milan was held at HQENC Visakhapatnam in 2018, as the 2020 edition of Milan (Over 40 countries were expected to participate in the exercise in 2020) was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organization and the Commands of the Indian Navy

  • While the President of India serves as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, the organizational structure of Indian Navy is headed by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), who holds the rank of Admiral.
  • The Indian Navy operates two operational commands and one training command.
    1. The Western Command is based at Mumbai – the fleet is commanded by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF).
    2. The Eastern Command is based at Visakhapatnam – the fleet is commanded by the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet (FOCEF).
    3. The Southern Naval Command is home to the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).
    4. Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (Set up in 2001) is a unified Indian Navy, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Coast Guard theater command based at the capital, Port Blair.

About recent developments in engagements of the Indian Navy

  • There has been huge increase in the Navy’s engagements in the Indo-Pacific with several countries keen on exercising with India.
  • There are several demands for trilaterals in the region which the Navy is prioritising considering its operational requirements and relationships with the countries.
  • In 2019, India, Thailand and Singapore began an annual trilateral and India is keen on the inclusion of Indonesia in it.
  • Over the last few years, India has signed a series of logistics support and white shipping agreements with a series of countries as part of efforts to improve the operational turnaround and improve logistics of the armed forces in the region and also improve Maritime Domain Awareness.

-Source: The Hindu


Nobel for deciphering the science of Touch and Temperature

Context:

Two U.S.-based scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on October 4 2021 for their discovery of the receptors that allow humans to feel temperature and touch.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Important developments in science and technology and their application in daily life)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Nobel Laureates and their discovery
  2. Applications of their discovery

About the Nobel Laureates and their discovery

  • Two scientists working independently in the United States, made a series of discoveries in the late 1990s and early 2000s to figure out the touch detectors in our body and the mechanism through which they communicate with the nervous system to identify and respond to a particular touch.
  • They discovered the molecular sensors in the human body that are sensitive to heat, and to mechanical pressure, and make us “feel” hot or cold, or the touch of a sharp object on our skin.
  • Prof David Julius’s breakthrough came from investigating the burning pain we feel from eating a hot chilli pepper which led to the discovery of the specific type of receptor (a part of our cells that detects the world around them) that responded to capsaicin – this discovery led to a flurry of other temperature-sensors being discovered.
  • Both David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian identified a new receptor called TRPM8, a receptor that is activated by cold -this new receptor is specifically expressed in a subset of pain-and-temperature-sensing neurons.
  • Ardem Patapoutian further studied if these receptors can be activated by mechanical stimuli – and they identified a single gene, which when silenced made the cells insensitive to the poking.

Applications of their discovery

  • This knowledge [of the TRPV1, TRPM8 and Piezo channels] is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of disease conditions, including chronic pain.
  • Decoding the neuroscience of pain can help develop new targets for pain therapy.
  • The new laureates’ work might help design new pain medications – this may lead us to identify new compounds that are effective in treating pain that don’t come with the devastating impact of opioids.
  • Understanding how the body detects changes in pressure could eventually lead to drugs for heart disease, if scientists can figure out how to alleviate pressure on blood vessels and other organs.

-Source: The Hindu


Oil importer India’s options as price surges

Context:

As the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer, India is running out of options as the relentless surge in international oil prices make it imperative to pass them on to consumers.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (International Trade, Mobilization of Resources, Growth and Development of Indian Economy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why are crude oil prices rising?
  2. How are high crude oil prices impact India?
  3. Diversifying India’s Oil Imports

Why are crude oil prices rising?

  • Crude oil prices have been rising steadily since the beginning of 2021 when Brent Crude was trading at about $52 per barrel buoyed both by hopes of improving demand due to economic recoveries across geographies as well as supply cuts by key oil-producing countries.
  • The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries extended supply cuts made in 2020 when crude oil prices had reached a low of under $19 per barrel through the first five months of 2021.
  • Saudi Arabia notably made an additional voluntary production cut of 1 million barrels per day between February and April 2021 of which only 250,000 barrels of production has been restored in May and 750,000 barrels of production is set to be restored over June and July 2021.
  • Experts have noted however that the gradual withdrawal of cuts is unlikely to have any significant impact on prices as demand for petroleum products increases as demand increases spurred by increasing economic activity.
  • A potential breakthrough in international efforts for a new Iran nuclear deal which would see international sanctions on Iranian oil removed would also not have a major impact on oil prices according to OPEC which expects that any increase in crude oil production from Iran would happen gradually and would not destabilise crude oil prices.

How are high crude oil prices impact India?

  • Rising crude oil prices have contributed to petrol and diesel prices rising to record high levels across the country.
  • The price of petrol and diesel has been hiked by more than R. 10 per litre since the beginning of the year 2021 and has only been increasing since 2021.
  • Officials at oil marketing companies have however noted that even current record-high prices are lower than what refiners should be charging in line with international prices and that prices are set to rise further unless there is a cut on levies on autofuels or a fall in crude oil prices.
  • The prices of petrol and diesel are benchmarked to a 15-day rolling average of the international prices of the petroleum products.
  • India and Oil Imports
  • India is heavily dependent on crude oil and LNG imports with over 82% import dependence for crude oil and more than 45% for natural gas/LNG.
  • India generated more than 35 million tons of petroleum products from indigenous crude oil production whereas the consumption of petroleum products is more than 200 million tons. Similarly, India generated 30 bcm natural gas locally against the consumption of almost 60 bcm (double).
  • LNG price is linked to the prevailing crude oil price in global markets.
  • India is the third biggest oil importer after US and China in 2018 and expected to occupy second place surpassing the US in 2019.

Diversifying India’s Oil Imports

  • India’s imports of Middle Eastern oil plunged to a four-year low in 2019.
  • India imports about almost 85% of its oil needs and traditionally relies on the Middle East for the majority of its supplies, however, the region’s share of India’s crude shrank to 60% in 2019.
  • The reason being: a record output from the United States and countries like Russia offered opportunities for importers to tap other sources.

-Source: The Hindu


Chola inscriptions detail qualifications for civic officials

Context:

Chola-era inscriptions are found to bear testimony to the qualifications required for members of the village administrative council.

Chola inscriptions at Thenneri village in Kancheepuram district also shed light on how farm produce was taxed.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: History (Indian History – Ancient, Sources of History), GS-I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Chola Inscriptions
  2. About the temples and Thenneri
  3. About the Chola dynasty

About the Chola Inscriptions

  • The inscriptions of Uthiramerur in Kancheepuram district talk about ‘Kudavolai’ — a system to elect members to annual committee (‘variyam’), garden committee, tank committee and other committees for 30 wards.
  • Thenneri inscriptions in Kancheepuram talk about laying down qualifications for candidates to village administrative committees (‘perumkuri sabai’).
  • The inscriptions show that the rulers were considerate while taxing agricultural produce – For areca nuts and banana, only 50% tax would be collected in the beginning until the yield. Farmers would pay full tax only after the trees started yielding fruits.

About the temples and Thenneri

  • The inscriptions are on the walls of the Kanthaleeswarar temple on the banks of the Thenneri lake – constructed by Sembian Mahadevi, the grandmother of Chola King Rajaraja, in memory of her son Uthama Chola.
  • Perumpanattrupadai, a Sangam-era literary work, refers to the king who created the Thenneri lake as ‘Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan’. (The copper plates of the Pallava period refer to the lake as ‘Thiraiyan Eri’.)

About the Chola dynasty

  • The Chola dynasty was an empire of southern India with the earliest datable references tracking all the way back to inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire.
  • The Chola was one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, along with the Chera and Pandya.
  • The dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE.
  • The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century.
  • Under Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola, and Kulothunga Chola I, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia.

Military Conquests

  • The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian sea power.
  • During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Rajendra Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala.
  • In 1025, he also successfully invaded cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Art and Architecture

  • Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture.
  • The Chola kings were avid builders and they were also well known for their art, specifically temple sculptures and ‘Chola bronzes’ (exquisite bronze sculptures of Hindu deities built in a lost wax process they pioneered).
  • The medieval Cholas are best known for the construction of the magnificent Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur.

-Source: The Hindu

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