Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Sunspot cycle
- Twin Pit System
- Drawbacks of Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Khanderi
Context : The Navy is set to induct the second Scorpene submarine Khanderi by early May, a defence source said. The remaining submarines in the series are in advanced stages of manufacturing and trials.
- Khanderi has completed all trials and is in the final stages of acceptance. It is expected to be commissioned into the Navy by end April or early May
- Khanderi was launched into water in January 2017 and has since been undergoing a series of trials.
- Khanderi is the second of the six submarines being built at Mazagon Dock Limited in collaboration with M/s DCNS of France, as part of Project 75 of Indian Navy.
- It is the second Scorpene class submarine (First one Kalvari) that has superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack with torpedoes as well as tube-launched anti-ship missiles whilst underwater or on surface
- The third in the Scorpene series Karanj which was launched in January last year is in advanced stage of trials and could be ready for induction by year end.
- The last two submarines Vagir and Vagsheer are in advanced stages of manufacturing on the assembly line. The fifth submarine is in the final stages of being booted together. The ‘Boot Together’ is where the five separate sections are welded together to form the submarine.
About Project 75
- The P75I project is part of a 30-year submarine building plan that ends in 2030.
- As part of this plan, India was to build 24 submarines — 18 conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) — as an effective deterrent against China and Pakistan.
2 . Sunspot Cycle
Context : A group of solar physicists suggests that a “solar tsunami” is at work that triggers the new sunspot cycle, after the old one ends.
- Sunspots are darker, cooler areas on the surface of the sun in a region called the photosphere.
- The photosphere has a temperature of 5,800 degrees Kelvin. Sunspots have temperatures of about 3,800 degrees K. They look dark only in comparison with the brighter and hotter regions of the photosphere around them.
- Sunspots can be very large, up to 50,000 kilometers in diameter. They are caused by interactions with the Sun’s magnetic field which are not fully understood. But a sunspot is somewhat like the cap on a soda bottle: shake it up, and you can generate a big eruption.
- Sunspots occur over regions of intense magnetic activity, and when that energy is released, solar flares and big storms called coronal mass ejections erupt from sunspots.
About Solar Tsunami
- Solar tsunamis, initially discovered by the SOHO spacecraft in the late 1990s, are something like the tsunamis in Earth’s oceans.
- Solar tsunamis are the result of a release of energy that creates a pressure wave that propagates through some kind of medium like hot, roiling solar gases.
How Solar Tsunami and Sunspot activity are related
- The extreme temperature and pressure conditions that prevail some 20,000 km below the sun’s surface cause its material to form a plasma consisting primarily of hydrogen and helium in a highly ionised state. The plasma is confined with huge magnetic fields inside the sun.
- The [sun’s] toroidal magnetic field, from which sunspots get generated, wraps around the sun in the east-west direction.”
- These magnetic fields behave like rubber bands on a polished sphere. They tend to slip towards the poles. Holding these fields in their place requires that there is extra mass (plasma mass) pushing at the bands from higher latitudes.
- Thus, a magnetic dam is formed which is storing a big mass of plasma. At the end of a solar cycle, this magnetic dam can break, releasing huge amounts of plasma cascading like a tsunami towards the poles.
- These tsunami waves travel at high speeds of about 1,000 km per hour carrying excess plasma to the mid-latitudes. There they give rise to magnetic flux eruptions.
- These are seen as the bright patches that signal the start of the next cycle of sunspots.
3 . Twin Pit System
Context : Scheme claiming to be on the verge of completing toilet construction for all rural households, a government-commissioned survey shows that just over a quarter of rural toilets use this twin-pit system. The waste from the remainder of rural toilets could create a new nightmare — harmful to health and the environment, and even pushing a new generation into manual scavenging.
About Twin Pit System
- Under the twin-pit system, two pits are dug with honeycombed walls and earthen floors which allow liquid to percolate into the surrounding soil.
- When one pit is filled and closed off, waste flow is transferred to the second pit, allowing waste in the first pit to be converted into manure after a year or two
- The twin pit has been promoted by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the World Health Organisation as an in-situ sanitation system, which claims to bypass thorny issues as owners will be dealing with manure, not excreta.
4. Drawbacks of Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme
Context : Indians’ cultural preference for physical gold, coupled with a lack of incentives on the supply side have meant that the Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) Scheme, launched in late 2015, is yet to take off in any significant way.
- People prefer physical gold over bonds as it is a staus symbol – “Every year, close to 800 tonnes of consumption of gold and 60% of that is as jewellery. And about 70% of this 60%, about 340 tonnes, is bought as wedding jewellery. The second large part of jewellery purchases are gifts outside of weddings. Hence the above mentioned requirements cannot be bought as bonds.
- The method of purchase and the lack of education about the procedure and the benefits of gold bonds over physical gold :- Either you need a demat account to buy, or you need to do KYC to buy through a fund house. People think that buying a SGB involves a lot of formalities and is very difficult. The reality, however, is different, he explained. Once obtained, demat accounts allow the person to buy gold bonds at the click of a button, and the KYC procedure is also not onerous and can be done online. But education is missing not only to the extent of how easy it is to invest, but also [as to] what advantages gold bonds have over physical gold. There are festivals where people buy gold out of emotion. If they can be educated that buying a gold bond is the same as buying a gold coin, that will have an impact. They are safer and highly liquid; our CAD will also come down
- The third set of problems with the SGBs is the way the scheme is designed – :
If somebody wants to buy gold, they want to buy it at that particular time itself. That is possible in SGBs only when buying through exchanges. The issue also is that there is a lock-in for five years before which the bonds cannot be redeemed.”
- The consensus view is that the aim of the Sovereign Gold Bond scheme — to divert people away from physical gold — is pretty much doomed from the start because of Indians’ cultural affinity for gold jewellery. That said, there are a number of changes such as removing the lock-in and allowing gold bonds to be sold on tap that the government can do to at least spur the scheme on from where it is languishing at present.
5 . YONO
Context : YONO SBI – India’s first integrated Omni-channel banking and lifestyle platform – launched ‘YONO Cash’ for cardless withdrawal of cash at over 16,500 SBI ATMs across the country.
- State Bank of India (SBI) has become the first bank to facilitate withdraw money without using an ATM card from ATMs for its account holders.
- SBI is presenting the cardless ATM cash withdrawal service with the help of its internet banking app called YONO
- Account holder need to activate internet banking on their SBI account and get their mobile number registered
- Customers can initiate the cash withdrawal process on the YONO app and set a six digit YONO Cash pin for the transaction.
- They will also get a six-digit reference number on their registered mobile number through SMS.
- The cash withdrawal has to be completed within the next 30 minutes at the nearest YONO Cash point using both PIN and the reference number received.
6 . Facts for Prelims
- Former Supreme Court judge and current member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Pinaki Chandra Ghose, is likely to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, or Lokpal, after his name was cleared and recommended by the high-level selection committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Khajaguda heritage rock – Hyderabad