GS 3 Related
Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- Sun’s coronal magnetic field measured
Why in news
An international team of solar physicists have measured the global magnetic field of the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, for the very first time.
- This development could help answer some of the solar phenomena.
Temperature profile of the sun:
- The core of the Sun is at a temperature of about 15 million degrees, while its outer layer, the photosphere is only 5700 degrees hot.
- The sun’s corona or outer atmosphere, which stretches up to several million kilometres beyond its surface, is much hotter than the surface (one million degrees or more).
- This is unusual given that while the surface is cooler than the interior, the atmosphere of the Sun (corona) rises substantially.
- Popular explanations with respect to the coronal heating involve the magnetic field of the corona.
- The surface of the Sun is dynamic. There are multiple mechanisms of eruptions of the Sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
- A solar flare is a sudden flash of increased brightness on the Sun, usually observed near its surface.
- A coronal mass ejection is a significant release of plasma and accompanying magnetic field from the solar corona.
- Magnetic reconnection is a process where opposite polarity magnetic field lines connect and some of the magnetic energy is converted to heat energy and also kinetic energy which leads to the generation of heating, solar flares, solar jets, etc.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- GCC Backs UN Arms Embargo on Iran
Why in News
Recently, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) backing an extension of its arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire.
Gulf Cooperation Council
- It is a political and economic alliance of countries in the Arabian Peninsula. It was established in 1981 to foster socioeconomic, security, and cultural cooperation.
- Members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- All these member countries of the GCC come under the Persian Gulf Region.
- The GCC has alleged that Iran had not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighbouring countries, directly and through organisations and movements armed and trained by Iran.
Allegation on Iran:
- The UN, the USA and other armament experts have accused Iran of providing arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
- Iran allegedly arms Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and Syria and also provides weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq and terrorist groups in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
- The letter also mentioned Iran’s shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane and its navy accidentally killing 19 sailors in a missile strike during an exercise.
- Iran also is suspected of launching an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in September 2019.
- In 2010, the UN banned Iran from purchasing foreign-made weapons like fighter jets, tanks and warships amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
- The embargo blocked Iran from replacing its ageing equipment, much of which had been purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
- An earlier embargo had targeted Iranian arms exports. In 2015, under Iran’s nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the UN agreed to end the arms embargo in October 2020.
- In 2018, the USA unilaterally withdrew from the deal as a part of the maximum pressure campaign to hurt Iran’s already ailing economy.
Internal Conflict in GCC:
- Even though the GCC has offered a unified statement, it remains affected by internal conflict among the member nations.
- For example: Qatar crisis, which saw Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and launch a boycott of the nation beginning in 2017.
- Qatar has had good relations with Iran and has used its airspace while sharing a vast offshore oil and gas field with Tehran (Iran’s capital).
- Qatar is home to the massive Al-Udeid Air Base and the forward headquarters of the USA military’s Central Command.
- Oman also has had close ties to Iran and has served as an interlocutor between Tehran and the West.
- On the other hand, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are suspicious of Iran and accuse it of stirring up dissent among Shiite populations in the region.
- Iran has denied the various accusations of its involvement in arms supply. Iran has condemned the GCC letter and called it an irresponsible statement that serves the USA’s interests.
- It has also criticized the GCC countries for being “among the largest arms buyers in the region and the world,” even amidst the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19
2.Amid pandemic, India & Pak. spar over Indus water talks
Why in news
India has refused a request by Pakistan to hold a meeting on issues around the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) at the Attari checkpost near the India-Pakistan border.
- The last such meeting between the two countries was in October 2019 in Islamabad.
- As per the agreement in IWT, a meeting was to be scheduled in India before March 31, 2020.
- The practice at the IWT meetings is that they are led by Indus Water Commissioners from both countries.
- A range of issues on the construction of dams and hydropower projects concerning the Indus river system are discussed.
Key points on the table:
- Evolving a procedure to solve differences on technical aspects governing the construction of the Ratle run-of-the-river (RoR) project on the Chenab in the Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- A consensus is yet to be reached upon a final resolution on the design parameters of this hydropower project. o India has called for the appointment of a ‘neutral’ party.
- Pakistan favours a Court of Arbitration to agree upon a final resolution.
- According to the terms of the IWT, India has the right to build RoR projects on the three ‘western’ rivers — the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus — provided it does so without substantially impeding water flow in Pakistan downstream.
- Pakistan believes that the project’s current design does pose a serious impediment and has told the World Bank that it wants a Court of Arbitration (CoA) set up to decide on the issue.
- India says this is only a technical issue and mutually solvable. It has agreed to a ‘neutral party’ since a CoA potentially could stall any construction on all Indus projects.
Indus Water Treaty:
- The IWT has been in existence since 1960.
- It reached a flashpoint in the aftermath of the Uri attacks in 2016 with Prime Minister declaring that India would utilise the full hydropower capacity of its share of the Indus systems.
Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- PM launches farm infra scheme
Why in news
A new financing scheme has been launched under the 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund meant for setting up storage and processing facilities, which will help farmers get higher prices for their crops.
- The scheme will support farmers, PACS [primary agricultural credit societies], FPOs [farmer producer organisations], agri-entrepreneurs, etc. in building community farming assets and post-harvest agriculture infrastructure.
- These assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce as they will be able to store and sell at higher prices, reduce wastage, and increase processing and value addition.
- Defence Ministry to impose import embargo on 101 items
Why in news
The Defence Minister has stated that the Defence Ministry will introduce import embargo on 101 items beyond the given timeline.
- The policy change comes in the wake of Chinese transgressions and the build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
- The government intends to boost indigenisation of defence production.
- It aims to reach a turnover of $25 billion through indigenously manufactured defence products.
- It also expects to export products worth $5 billion.
- In any government contract over 200 crore, no foreign company can participate in the tendering process.
- A list of 101 items has been prepared by the Ministry for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them.
- The list is prepared after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders.
- Current and future capabilities of the Indian industry for manufacturing various ammunition & equipment within India have been assessed.
- The embargo on imports is planned to be progressively implemented between 2020 to 2024.
- The items comprise of not just simple parts but also some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, LCHs, radars.
- The list also includes wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) with indicative import embargo date of December 2021.
- The Army is expected to contract almost 200 AFVs at an approximate cost of over 5,000 crore.
- In another relevant step, MoD has bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes.
- These measures are considered a big step towards self-reliance in defence.
- It offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture the items in the negative list by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting the technologies designed and developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces.
- Andaman and Nicobar will be a maritime hub: Modi
Why in news
Prime Minister has said that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands region, owing to its strategic importance, is going to be developed as a maritime and startup hub.
- 12 islands of the archipelago have been selected for high-impact projects with an emphasis on boosting trade of sea-based, organic and coconut-based products of the region.
- Proposed transhipment hub in the Andaman will help the group of islands become an important centre of blue economy and a maritime and startup hub.
- Over 300 km of national highway is expected to be completed in record time.
- The government is working to improve air connectivity within these islands and between them and the rest of the country.
- A submarine optical fibre cable between Chennai and the islands has been installed.