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Hindu Notes from General Studies-01

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 Antarctic Ozone hole healing

News

  • Amidst the pressing issue of global climate change, a study conducted by a group of scientists has come up with new data that they claim confirm “healing’ of Antarctic Ozone hole.
  • The research is the first of its kind, providing detailed long-term (over four decades) analysis of Antarctic ozone loss saturation in terms of its occurrence and timing, using high-resolution ozonesondes a balloon borne instrument that measures concentration of ozone and satellite measurements inside the vortex (a whirling mass of fluid or air) for the said period.

Findings

  • The researchers have collected data from 1979 to 2017. The saturation of loss at 12-21 km has significantly reduced over the period 2001-2017.
  • Analysis shows a clear reduction in the frequency of occurrence of ozone loss saturation over the period 2001-2017 consistently throughout various datasets.
  • The reduction of ozone loss saturation in the recent years ranged from 20 per cent to 60 per cent, across the data spread.
  • The recovery indicated in the loss saturation layer, the Montreal Protocol has definitely saved the ozone layer and climate of the Southern Hemisphere.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-02

India to allow business visa extension for up to 15 years

News

  • India has decided to allow extension of business visa for up to 15 years and conversion of a regular visa into medical category in an emergency for a foreigner.

Beyond News

  • The number of e-Visas issued has seen a tremendous growth during the last four years from 5.17 lakh in 2015 to 21 lakh till November 30 this year.
  • Relaxation has been introduced in grant of internship visa which can be obtained by a student while still pursuing a course in the country without remuneration, extension of business visa beyond five years, conversion of visa into medical category in an emergency for a foreigner who is already in the country and permission for foreigners who are on long duration visas to attend conferences.
  • Official said the business visa can be extended up to 15 years, for a period of five years at a time.
  • The conference was attended by senior officers from the Ministries of Home, Civil Aviation, Tourism and Information and Broadcasting, security agencies and State governments as well as industry representatives.

India, U.S. will sort out sanctions waiver: Mattis

News

  • India and the U.S. are planning to “sort out” issues around a U.S. sanctions waiver related to India’s purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile defence system from Russia, U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis said.

Beyond News

  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is now on a visit to Washington.
  • The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump in April 2017.
  • President may make an exemption to CAATSA as per the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY19 Mr. Mattis was pivotal in pushing for this part of the legislation, citing India and other countries as examples of those with historic ties to Russia now wanting to purchase U.S. defence equipment.
  • The two Defence heads have had four sets of meetings over the past year including the 2+2 dialogue with their External Affairs and State Department counterparts in New Delhi in September where the COMCASA one in a series of U.S “foundational” security agreements was finalised.
  • In addition to a CAATSA waiver, discussions are reportedly underway for signing the last of the foundational agreements, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) as well as India’s purchases of military equipment. 

India, UAE sign currency swap deal

News

  • India and the UAE signed two agreements, including one on currency swap, as External Affairs Minister held exhaustive discussions with her counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to step up cooperation in areas like trade, security and defence.

Beyond News

  • External Affairs Minister, who arrived on a two-day visit, was received by the Foreign Minister of the UAE ahead of the UAE-India Joint Commission Meeting.
  • This is the 12th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting for Economic and Technical Cooperation.
  • Currency Swap is such a pact between two countries that allows trading in their own currency and payments to import and export trade at pre-determined exchange rate without bringing in a third benchmark currency like the US dollars.
  • The second agreement would enable both sides to undertake development projects in Africa.
  • With nearly $ 50 billion bilateral trade, the two countries are one of the largest trade partners for each other and have made robust investments bilaterally. The UAE is the sixth-largest source of Indian oil imports and hosts a 3.3 million-strong Indian community.

India’s Bhutan hydel project ready

News

  • India is expected to commission a major hydropower project in Bhutanin the coming weeks.

Beyond News

  • The top diplomat said cooperation in the hydropower sector was a sign of strength of the time-tested ties between the two countries.
  • The Mangdechhu project was bagged by the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) and it will be implemented on a bilateral basis.
  • India-Bhutan ties had adapted to the changing times. Bhutan’s latest democratic election had firmed up its position as a leading democracy in the region.
  • Commissioning of the project will mark a highpoint in bilateral ties in the coming months.
  • India and Bhutan were now interacting at the level of parliamentarians and civil society participants, while also maintaining close dialogue at the official levels.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-03

5.8-tonne GSAT-11 ready for launch

News

  • A team of top officials and engineers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), now stationed in the Guiana Space Centre, South America, is going over the last steps before it sees off the heaviest Indian communication satellite, GSAT-11, to its space orbit.

Beyond News

  • The 5,854-kg satellite, almost double the biggest one built or launched by ISRO to date, will ride up on European launch vehicle Ariane 5 ECA, numbered VA246.
  • GSAT-11 is part of ISRO’s new family of high-throughput communication satellite (HTS) fleet that will drive the country’s Internet broadband from space to untouched areas; the broadband domain is now ruled by underground fibre and covers partial and convenient locations.
  • Already up in space are two HTSs GSAT-29 (November 14) and GSAT-19 (June 2017) while one more is due to join them in the near future. They are all to provide high-speed Internet data services at the rate of 100 Gbps (Gigabits per second) to Indian users. ISRO has earlier said this speed would be far better than what is available in the country now.
  • The HTSs will also be the backbone of pan-India digital or easy Internet-based programmes and services such as Digital India, BharathNet for rural e-governance, and commercial and public sector VSAT Net service providers.
  • According to ISRO, GSAT-11’s multiple spot beam coverage 32 in Ku band and eight in Ka bands will deliver an improved service of 16 gbps over the Indian region and nearby islands.
  • GSAT-11 will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country. It will also provide a platform to demonstrate new generation applications.
  • Its co-passenger is South Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2A, a meteorology satellite.

NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is asteroid Bennu’s first visitor in billions of years

News

  • After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years.

Beyond News

  • The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 19 km of the diamond-shaped space rock. It will get even closer in the days ahead and go into orbit.
  • No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small cosmic body.
  • It is the first U.S. attempt to gather asteroid samples for return to Earth, something only Japan has accomplished so far.
  • Flight controllers applauded and exchanged high-fives once confirmation came through that Osiris-Rex made it to Bennu exactly one week after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars.
  • With Bennu some 122 million km away, it took seven minutes for word to get from the spacecraft to flight controllers at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado.
  • Bennu is estimated to be just over 1,600 feet (500 m) across. Researchers will provide a more precise description at a scientific meeting on December 10 in Washington.
  • About the size of an SUV, the spacecraft will shadow the asteroid for a year, before scooping up some gravel for return to Earth in 2023.
  • Scientists are eager to study material from a carbon-rich asteroid like dark Bennu, which could hold evidence dating back to the beginning of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. As such, it’s an astronomical time capsule.
  • NASA has brought back comet dust and solar wind particles before, but never asteroid samples. Japan managed to return some tiny particles in 2010 from its first asteroid mission , also named Hayabusa.

Soyuz: first manned mission to ISS since October failure

News

  • A Soyuz rocket carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts took off from Kazakhstan and reached orbit, in the first manned mission since a failed launch in October.

Beyond News

  • It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since October 11, when a rocket carrying Russia’s Aleksey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.
  • They escaped unharmed but the failed launch the first such incident in Russia’s post-Soviet history raised concerns about the state of the Soyuz programme.
  • The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the U.S. retired the space shuttle in 2011.

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