Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Chandrayaan 3
- One Health
- National Curriculum Framework
- Article 371
- Sodium ion battery
- Northern Sea Route
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Chandrayaan – 3
Context : India has become the fourth country to successfully land on the moon as the Chandrayaan-3’s lander module, with the rover in its belly, successfully made a soft landing on the lunar surface on Wednesday.
About Chandrayaan 3
- Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface. It consists of Lander and Rover configuration.
- The vehicle carries a lander attached to a propulsion module. The latter will carry the former to a circular orbit around the moon, after which the lander will descend to the surface.
- The lander module will carry a rover that it will deploy on the moon, and a few other pieces of scientific equipment.
- Chandrayaan-3 was launched into space by the LVM3 rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- Chandrayaan-3 consists of an indigenous Lander module (LM), Propulsion module (PM) and a Rover with an objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for Inter planetary missions. The Lander will have the capability to soft land at a specified lunar site and deploy the Rover which will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility. The Lander and the Rover have scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface. The main function of PM is to carry the LM from launch vehicle injection till final lunar 100 km circular polar orbit and separate the LM from PM. Apart from this, the Propulsion Module also has one scientific payload as a value addition which will be operated post separation of Lander Module.
The mission objectives of Chandrayaan-3 are:
- To demonstrate Safe and Soft Landing on Lunar Surface
- To demonstrate Rover roving on the moon and
- To conduct in-situ scientific experiments.
To achieve the mission objectives, several advanced technologies are present in Lander such as,
- Altimeters: Laser & RF based Altimeters
- Velocimeters: Laser Doppler Velocimeter & Lander Horizontal Velocity Camera
- Inertial Measurement: Laser Gyro based Inertial referencing and Accelerometer package
- Propulsion System: 800N Throttleable Liquid Engines, 58N attitude thrusters & Throttleable Engine Control Electronics
- Navigation, Guidance & Control (NGC): Powered Descent Trajectory design and associate software elements
- Hazard Detection and Avoidance: Lander Hazard Detection & Avoidance Camera and Processing Algorithm
- Landing Leg Mechanism.
- Chandrayaan-3 is carrying six payloads to study the lunar soil and capture photographs of Earth from the lunar orbit.During its 14-day mission (one Lunar day) upon landing, Chandrayaan-3 will conduct a series of groundbreaking experiments using its payloads RAMBHA and ILSA. These experiments will study the moon’s atmosphere and dig into the surface to better understand its mineral composition.
- The lander Vikram will photograph the rover Pragyaan which will deploy its instruments to study seismic activity on the moon. Pragyaan will use its laser beams to melt a piece of the lunar surface, called regolith, and analsze the gases emitted in the process.
- Another payload, the Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA), will measure the density of charged particles near the lunar surface and how it changes over time.
- Additionally, the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will measure the chemical composition and infer the mineralogical composition of the moon’s surface while the Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) will determine the elemental composition of lunar soil
- The propulsion module will have a payload called ‘Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth’ (SHAPE), which will track radiation from the earth to help identify the signatures of life, which future missions can use in turn to look for signs of life on habitable exoplanets.
- Lander payloads: Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) to measure the thermal conductivity and temperature; Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) for measuring the seismicity around the landing site; Langmuir Probe (LP) to estimate the plasma density and its variations. A passive Laser Retroreflector Array from NASA is accommodated for lunar laser ranging studies.
- Rover payloads: Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) for deriving the elemental composition in the vicinity of landing site.
How different is Vikram, the Chandrayaan-3 lander from Chandrayaan-2
- ISRO took the lessons from Chandrayaan-2 and turned them into critical upgrades for Vikram lander and rover in Chandrayaan-3.
- Stronger Legs to handle greater velocities
- More Solar Panels and Antennas
- Extra Fuel and a Laser Doppler Velocity Meter
- ISRO improved the Software Overhaul and Central Engine Removal
Why do scientists want to explore the lunar south pole?
- Due to their rugged environment, the polar regions of the Moon have remained unexplored. But several Orbiter missions have provided evidence that these regions could be very interesting to explore. There are indications of the presence of ice molecules in substantial amounts in the deep craters in this region — India’s 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission indicated the presence of water on the lunar surface with the help of its two instruments onboard.
- In addition, the extremely cold temperatures mean that anything trapped in the region would remain frozen in time, without undergoing much change. The rocks and soil in Moon’s north and south poles could therefore provide clues to the early Solar System
Benefits from Space Exploration
- Innovation. There are numerous cases of societal benefits linked to new knowledge and technology from space exploration. Space exploration has contributed to many diverse aspects of everyday life, from solar panels to implantable heart monitors, from cancer therapy to light‐ weight materials, and from water‐purification systems to improved computing systems and to a global search‐and‐rescue system. Achieving the ambitious future exploration goals as outlined above will further expand the economic relevance of space. Space exploration will continue to be an essential driver for opening up new domains in science and technology, triggering other sectors to partner with the space sector for joint research and development. This will return immediate benefits back to Earth in areas such as materials, power generation and energy storage, recycling and waste management, advanced robotics, health and medicine, transportation, engineering, computing and software. Furthermore, innovations required for space exploration, such as those related to miniaturisation, will drive improvements in other space systems and services resulting in higher performance and lower cost. These will in turn result in better services on Earth and better return of investment in institutional and commercial space activities. In addition, the excitement generated by space exploration attracts young people to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, helping to build global capacity for scientific and technological innovation.
- Culture and Inspiration : Space exploration offers a unique and evolving perspective on humanity’s place in the Universe, which is common to all. Every day, space exploration missions fulfill people’s curiosity, producing fresh data about the solar system that brings us closer to answering profound questions that have been asked for millennia: What is the nature of the Universe? Is the destiny of humankind bound to Earth? Are we and our planet unique? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?
- New Means to Address Global Challenges. Partnerships and capabilities developed through space exploration create new opportunities for addressing global challenges. Space exploration is a global endeavour contributing to trust and diplomacy between nations. Enhanced global partnerships and exploration capabilities may help advance international preparedness for protecting the Earth from catastrophic events such as some asteroid strikes, advancing collaborative research on space weather and protecting spacecraft by developing new means or space debris removal. Knowledge derived from space exploration may also contribute to implementing policies for environmentally sustainable development
2 . One Health Initiative
Context : The concept of ‘One Health’ is currently gaining popularity worldwide; India has of late been taking significant strides to deploy concepts and strategies rooted in this idea to bolster the way it responds to health crises. However, One Health is not a new concept.
About One Health
- One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems.
- It recognizes that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.
- While health, food, water, energy and environment are all wider topics with sector-specific concerns, the collaboration across sectors and disciplines contributes to protect health, address health challenges such as the emergence of infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and food safety and promote the health and integrity of our ecosystems.
- By linking humans, animals and the environment, One Health can help to address the full spectrum of disease control – from prevention to detection, preparedness, response and management – and contribute to global health security.
- The approach can be applied at the community, subnational, national, regional and global levels, and relies on shared and effective governance, communication, collaboration and coordination. Having the One Health approach in place makes it easier for people to better understand the co-benefits, risks, trade-offs and opportunities to advance equitable and holistic solutions.
Why is One Health special?
- Human population growth, urbanisation, and industrialisation have compounded the damage to biodiversity and ecosystems. These harmful environmental changes are linked to zoonoses – diseases shared between animals and humans. Researchers have estimated that 60% of emerging diseases that can infect humans are zoonotic in nature. They include bird flu, Ebola, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.
- In addition, humankind has also become beset by major issues of antimicrobial resistance, food safety and security, and the control of vector-borne diseases. Taken together, these issues warrant both the intersectoral management and the efficiency that characterises the One Health strategy.
- One Health minimises resource requirements across sectors. An important way it does this is by encouraging coordination across governmental units, including the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Environment, and Science and Technology. Taking a One Health approach allows researchers to, for example, share their laboratories and findings, and ultimately make decisions that lead to resilient, sustainable, and predictable policies.
- The economic benefits of One Health are understood in contrast to the cost of managing a pandemic with a non-One-Health approach. An assessment of the G20 Joint Finance and Health Taskforce estimated the latter to be around $30 billion a year. On the other hand, estimates by the World Bank have indicated that the former would cost $10.3 billion to $11.5 billion annually.
Recent One Health initiatives
- The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2023 highlighted the importance of adopting a One Health approach. Since COVID-19, many interventions based on the One Health model have been launched worldwide.
- The Government of India established its ‘Standing Committee on Zoonoses’ in 2006 under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The purpose of this committee was to provide the Union and the State governments guidance and recommendations on challenges related to zoonoses. But the pandemic provided the real boost to this topic; India has also floated a number of initiatives in this direction since then.
- The Department of Biotechnology launched India’s first consortium on One Health in October 2021. It brings together 27 organisations from several ministries and plans to assess the burden of five transboundary animal diseases and 10 select zoonotic diseases. The government has allocated ₹ 31 crore for three years to the consortium, especially for its promise of improving cross-cutting collaborations between the animal, human, and wildlife sectors.
- In June 2022, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairy (DAHD) – in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Confederation of Indian Industry – launched a One Health pilot project in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. This initiative intends to strengthen intersectoral collaborations through capacity-building, with the goal of improving livestock health, human health, wildlife health, and environmental health.
- India is also currently preparing for a wider ‘National One Health Mission’ to be spearheaded by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor.
- The idea behind this mission is to coordinate, support and integrate all existing One Health initiatives in the country.
How can we switch?
- The transformation process can be broken down into four major stages. Each stage requires consistent political will and sustainable financing structures.
- Stage 1: Communication : In this stage, the basic mechanisms for communication between various ministries and/or sectors are set up. The focus is on keeping the important stakeholders informed and engaged throughout the One Health transformation, and to help them meet regularly and review progress.
- An example of this stage is the National Standing Committee on Zoonoses under the MoHFW.
- Stage 2: Collaboration : After initiating communication between the relevant sectors, sector members need to exchange their knowledge and expertise in order to translate ideas into short-term interventions. Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of different sectors in zoonoses management is crucial in this stage. For example, to manage a zoonotic disease, collaboration means assessing and lowering disease risk, surveillance, building capacity at different institutions, research, and public outreach.
- The DAHD’s One Health pilot project in Karnataka and Uttarakhand is a good example of a public undertaking that strengthens just these ties.
- Stage 3: Coordination : The activities carried out during this stage are usually routine and long-term. Initiatives to achieve One Health in this stage are spearheaded by a national or a subnational agency (so that it has the authority and the resources to coordinate several ministries). Ideally, the agency should have been established specifically to achieve One Health outcomes. Typical ‘situations’ that call for long-term coordination include routine environmental and disease surveillance, monitoring trade across borders with respect to animals and animal products, and conducting regular awareness campaigns.
- India’s forthcoming ‘National One Health Mission’ would be an appropriate example of this stage.
- Stage 4: Integration : By default, government sectors and their units are designed to function vertically – and this is good for managing individual programmes. However, One Health is implicitly intersectoral, and existing system can’t accommodate One Health’s goals and mechanisms if it doesn’t ‘horizontalise’: i.e. it needs to integrate and develop synergies between programmes undertaken across various sectors.So for this stage, a policy framework that helps the relevant sectors to efficiently share resources and streamline their current programmes is essential. India’s national and subnational programmes – such as MoHFW’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and DAHD’s Livestock Health and Disease Control scheme – are currently not integrated with other sectors, resulting in uncoordinated, ad hoc initiatives.
- To reap all the advantages of a One Health approach, India should move beyond short-term collaborations and create an integrated, science-based environment. This is a prerequisite for platforms to not just share office space but to also provide access to laboratories and biological samples to the relevant researchers.
- Certain samples like blood, tissue, faecal matter, and effluent water are also expensive and come with ethical implications, and an integrated system that deals with them can prove especially beneficial. In such a system, researchers from various disciplines should be able to use laboratories as necessary and generate the requisite inputs will go a long way to meeting major challenges with the One Health approach
3 . National Curriculum Framework
Context : Students in Classes 9 and 10 will need to learn three languages, of which at least two will be Indian tongues. In Classes 11 and 12, students will have to learn two languages, one being of Indian origin, says the final National Curriculum Framework released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on Wednesday.
- Curriculum refers to the entirety of the organized experience of students in any institutional setting towards educational aims and objectives.
- The elements that constitute and bring to life a Curriculum are numerous, and include goals and objectives, syllabi, content to be taught and learnt, pedagogical practices and assessment, teaching-learning materials, school and classroom practices, learning environment and culture of the institution, and more.
- There are other matters that directly affect a Curriculum and its practice or are integrally related while not being within the Curriculum. These include the Teachers and their capacities, the involvement of parents and communities, issues of access to institutions, resources available, administrative and support structures, and more.
- Curriculum Framework provides the guiding principles, goals, structure, and elements for the development of Curricula, informed by which the syllabi, teaching-learning-materials including play materials, workbooks, and textbooks, and assessment methods will be developed by the relevant functionaries, including Teachers, in the States, Boards, and schools.
Objectives of NCF
- The overarching objective of NCF is to help in positively transforming the school education system of India as envisioned in NEP 2020, through corresponding positive changes in the curriculum including pedagogy.
- In particular, the NCF aims to help change practices in education and not just ideas; indeed, since the word ‘curriculum’ encapsulates the overall experiences that a student has in school, ‘practices’ do not just refer to curricular content and pedagogy, but also include school environment and culture. It is this holistic overall transformation of the curriculum that will enable us to positively transform overall learning experiences for students
About Draft NCF
- The NCF, drafted by the National Steering Committee headed by former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K. Kasturirangan, follows the lead of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, and forms the basis for formulating textbooks from Classes 3 to 12 under the Central Board of Secondary Education. Textbooks for Classes 1 and 2 have already been released by the NCERT.
- Like the draft, the revised NCF divides school education into four stages: Foundational (preschool to grade 2), Preparatory (grades 2 to 5), Middle (grades 6 to 8), and Secondary (grades 9 to 12).
- It recommends the teaching of two languages till the middle stage, supplemented by a third language from the middle stage to class 10. Two out of these three languages must be “native to India”.
- In the middle stage, students are expected to study, apart from the languages, mathematics, art education, physical education, science, social science, and a subject of vocational education.
- A subject of environmental education will be added in grades 9 and 10.
- The framework allots specific times and weights to all subjects till grade 10, and recommends an optional “Additional Enrichment Period” in grades 9 and 10 to add to a student’s knowledge in any subject.
- It also lists the competencies to be achieved by students in different subjects and stages. For example, social sciences is to be thematically organised in middle stage — from knowing the “local to the global”. For the three languages, it aims for students to develop “effective communication, discussion, and writing skills”.
- In grades 11 and 12, it is mandatory to study two languages, one of which must be Indian. In this phase, students have the freedom to choose the remaining four or five subjects from different streams — commerce, sciences, humanities — leaving ample room for interdisciplinarity. A student may pick English and Sanskrit as her languages for example, and study history, journalism, mathematics, and gardening alongside.
- The framework recommends twice-a-year Board examinations in grades 10 and 12, with the best score retained. While the annual system will continue in grade 12 for now, the framework suggests a gradual transition to a semester system in the secondary stage, which will also allow students to take Board examinations immediately after a semester is completed. The NCF suggests the creation of a “comprehensive test item bank” for this.
4 . Tuberculosis
Context : India is facing an acute shortage of tuberculosis drugs, including medicines used for treating drug-resistant TB such as Linezolid, Clofazimine, and Cycloserine.
- Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that most often affects the lungs and is caused by a type of bacteria. It spreads through the air when infected people cough, sneeze or spit. Tuberculosis is preventable and curable. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.
What is Drug-resistant TB?
- Drug-resistant TB (DR TB) is spread the same way that drug-susceptible TB is spread. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
Causes of drug resistant TB
- Drug-resistant TB can occur when the drugs used to treat TB are misused or mismanaged.
Types of Drug Resistant TB
Multidrug-Resistant TB (MDR TB)
- Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) is caused by TB bacteria that are resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin, the two most potent TB drugs. These drugs are used to treat all persons with TB disease.
- TB experts should be consulted in the treatment of MDR TB
Pre-Extensively Drug-resistant TB (pre-XDR TB)
- Pre-Extensively Drug-resistant TB (pre-XDR TB) is a type of MDR TB caused by TB bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid, rifampin, and a fluroquinolone OR by TB bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid, rifampin, and a second-line injectable (amikacin, capreomycin, and kanamycin).
Extensively Drug-resistant TB (XDR TB)
- Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) is a rare type of MDR TB caused by TB bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, a fluroquinolone, and a second-line injectable (amikacin, capreomycin, and kanamycin) OR by TB bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid, rifampin, a fluroquinolone, and bedaquiline or linezolid.
- Because XDR TB is resistant to the most potent TB drugs, patients are left with treatment options that are much less effective.
- XDR TB is of special concern for people with HIV infection or other conditions that can weaken the immune system. These people are more likely to develop TB disease once they are infected, and also have a higher risk of death once they develop TB.
5 . Article 371
Context : The Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted the Centre’s assurance that it does not intend to “touch” the special constitutional provisions protecting the interests of the people of the northeastern States.
About Article 371
- Article 371, Maharashtra and Gujarat: Governor has “special responsibility” to establish “separate development boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat; ensure “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said areas”, and “equitable arrangement providing adequate facilities for technical education and vocational training, and adequate opportunities for employment” under the state government.
- Article 371A (13th Amendment Act, 1962), Nagaland: This provision was inserted after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963. Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, and ownership and transfer of land without concurrence of the state Assembly.
- Article 371B (22nd Amendment Act, 1969), Assam: The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Assembly consisting of members elected from the state’s tribal areas.
- Article 371C (27th Amendment Act, 1971), Manipur: The President may provide for the constitution of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning.
- Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”. He may require the state government to organise “any class or classes of posts in a civil service of, or any class or classes of civil posts under, the State into different local cadres for different parts of the State”. He has similar powers vis-à-vis admissions in educational institutions.
- Article 371E: Allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not a “special provision” in the sense of the others in this part.
- Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975), Sikkim: The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People. To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.
- Article 371G (53rd Amendment Act, 1986), Mizoram: Parliament cannot make laws on “religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land… unless the Assembly… so decides”.
- Article 371H (55th Amendment Act, 1986), Arunachal Pradesh: The Governor has a special responsibility with regard to law and order, and “he shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken”.
- Article 371J (98th Amendment Act, 2012), Karnataka: There is a provision for a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. There shall be “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said region”, and “equitable opportunities and facilities” for people of this region in government jobs and education. A proportion of seats in educational institutions and state government jobs in Hyderabad-Karnataka can be reserved for individuals from that region.
6 . Northern Sea Route
Context : Murmansk, popularly called the capital of the Arctic region and the beginning point of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), is witnessing the rising trend of Indian involvement in cargo traffic. In the first seven months of 2023, India got the lion’s share with 35% of eight million tonnes of cargo handled by the Murmansk port, which is about 2,000 km northwest of Moscow. India has been showing greater interest regarding the NSR for a variety of reasons.
Why is the Arctic region significant to India?
- The vulnerability of the Arctic region, which is above the Arctic Circle and includes the Arctic Ocean with the North Pole at its centre, to unprecedented changes in the climate may have an impact on India in terms of economic security, water security and sustainability.
- The region also constitutes the largest unexplored prospective area for hydrocarbons remaining on the Earth. There may also be significant reserves of coal, zinc and silver.”
How old is India’s engagement with the Arctic?
- India’s engagement with the Arctic can be traced to the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in February 1920 in Paris and India is undertaking several scientific studies and research in the Arctic region. This encompasses atmospheric, biological, marine, hydrological and glaciological studies.
- Apart from setting up a research station, Himadri, at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, in 2008, the country launched its inaugural multi-sensor moored observatory and northernmost atmospheric laboratory in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Till last year, thirteen expeditions to the Arctic were successfully conducted.
- In May 2013, India became an observer-State of the Arctic Council along with five others including China.
What is NSR?
- The Northern Sea Route (NSR), the shortest shipping route for freight transportation between Europe and countries of the Asia-Pacific region, straddles four seas of the Arctic Ocean. Running to 5,600 km, the route begins at the boundary between the Barents and the Kara seas (Kara Strait) and ends in the Bering Strait (Provideniya Bay).
- A paper published on the website of the Arctic Institute in September 2011 states that “in theory, distance savings along the NSR can be as high as 50% compared to the currently used shipping lanes via Suez or Panama.” The 2021 blockage of the Suez Canal, which forms part of the widely-used maritime route involving Europe and Asia, has led to greater attention on the NSR.
How is Russia making the NSR navigable?
- As the seas of the Arctic Ocean remain icebound during most of the year, the icebreaking assistance is organised to ensure safe navigation along the NSR.
- Russia is the only country in the world with a nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet. In December 1959, the world’s first nuclear icebreaker, “Lenin,” was put into operation, unveiling the new chapter in the NSR development. It was decommissioned 30 years later.
- Today, FSUE Atomflot, a subsidiary of Rosatom, acts as the fleet operator of nuclear-powered icebreakers. The fleet comprises seven nuclear-powered icebreakers, apart from one nuclear container ship. Three more are expected to be commissioned between 2024 and 2027.
What are the driving factors for India to participate in the NSR development ?
- Primarily, the growth in cargo traffic along the NSR is on the constant rise and during 2018-2022, the growth rate was around 73%. Last year, the volume of cargo traffic was 34.117 million tonnes. With India increasingly importing crude oil and coal from Russia in recent years, Rosatom says that “the record supplies of energy resources for the Indian economy are possible due to such a reliable and safe transport artery as the NSR.”
- Secondly, the NSR assumes importance, given India’s geographical position and the major share of its trade associated with sea transportation.
- Thirdly, the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor (CVMC) project, an outcome of signing of the memorandum of intent between the two countries in September 2019, is being examined as one linking with another organise international container transit through the NSR. The 10,500 km-long CVMC, passing through the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea and Malacca Strait, will bring down transport time to 12 days, almost a third of what is taken under the existing St. Petersburg-Mumbai route of 16,000 km
- A study commissioned by Chennai Port Trust reveals that coking coal [used by steel companies], crude oil, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and fertilizers are some of the cargo that can be imported from Russia to India through CVMC.
- Fourthly, experts are discussing the possibility of China and Russia gaining collective influence over the NSR.
What lies forward?
- The NSR development plan until 2035, as approved by the Russian government last year, sets the cargo traffic target as 80 million tonnes and 150 million tonnes for 2024 and 2030. The plan approval took place amid economic sanctions imposed by the West against Russia.
- In March, a Russian delegation held meetings with the Indian business community in New Delhi and Mumbai on the NSR development, according to media reports. The delegation had promised to provide the availability of key components for the year-round operation of the route. Rosatom seeks the participation of Indian companies in projects related to the NSR.
- As for the CVMC project, a workshop, featuring stakeholders from the two countries, is expected to be held in the second half of October, says a senior official
7 . Sodium ion battery
Context : AR4 Tech, a start-up in Coimbatore, has partnered Sodion Energy of Singapore to make sodium ion battery packs for domestic and export markets.
What is a sodium-ion battery?
- A sodium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery comparable to the ubiquitous lithium-ion battery, but it uses sodium ions (Na+) as the charge carriers rather than lithium ions (Li+).
- The working principles behind and cell construction of a sodium-ion battery is virtually identical to those of lithium-ion batteries, but sodium compounds are used instead of lithium compounds.
- Sodium-ion batteries are currently emerging as a potential alternative to current lithium-ion battery technology due to their lower cost, higher availability, and reduced impact on the environment.
- Since sodium-ion batteries use cheap and abundant materials—sodium and aluminum rather than lithium and copper—they could be transformative in some applications.
The structure and composition of a sodium-ion battery
- A sodium-ion battery is made up of an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and two current collectors, one positive and one negative. The anode and cathode store the sodium whilst the electrolyte, which acts as the circulating “blood” that keeps the energy flowing. This electrolyte forms by dissolving salts in solvents, resulting in charged ions that are then carried by the electrolyte from the anode to the cathode and vice-versa through the separator.
- The movement of sodium ions creates free electrons in the anode, and this creates a charge at the positive current collector. The current then flows from the current collector through the device that’s being powered by the battery, such as a smartphone, to the negative current collector. The separator blocks the flow of electrons inside the battery.
- While a sodium-ion battery is discharging and providing a current, the anode releases sodium ions to the cathode, generating a flow of electrons from one side to the other. When plugging in the device, the opposite happens: Sodium ions are released by the cathode and received by the anode.
- Sodium-ion batteries can use aqueous as well as non-aqueous electrolytes. When aqueous electrolytes are used, the limited electrochemical stability window of water results in batteries with lower voltages and limited energy densities. To get around this, the same non-aqueous carbonate ester polar aprotic solvents used in lithium-ion batteries, such as dimethyl carbonate and propylene carbonate, can be used. Currently, the most widely used non-aqueous electrolyte uses sodium hexafluorophosphate.