Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Quarterly Employment Survey
- Economic advantages for India as a member of Quad – Moody’s article
- Facts for Prelims
1 . DART
Context: Recently, the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft collided with the space rock Dimorphos (just 160 metres wide). NASA has confirmed DART’s collision with asteroid Dimorphos which has deflected the trajectory of the pair of space rocks.
What are asteroids?
- Leftover materials from the formation of the sun, earth and planets, through the accretion and agglomeration of giant gas and rocks, are scattered as comets, asteroids and meteoroids in the solar system.
- Some of these cross their path and collide with earth from time to time, resulting in a spectacular meteor shower.
- Most rocks are so small that they burn up completely in the atmosphere due to frictional heating. If they are large enough, the charred piece falls through as a meteorite.
- The falling piece from a meteoroid 140 metres wide or more will be capable of completely wiping out a city like Chennai. The impact would be devastating if it was one or more kilometres wide.
- The chances of a giant asteroid striking earth are small; however, if it did occur, the devastation would be cataclysmic, wiping out the entire human civilisation.
- NASA tracks and keeps a close watch on the nearly 26,115 asteroids whose orbits are dangerously close to earth.
What was NASA’s mission?
- NASA undertook the ‘kick’ technique. Compared to the massive Dimorphos, DART is a tiny Goliath.
- Yet crashing at a breakneck speed of 23,760 kilometres per hour, the momentum is adequate to slash the angular momentum of Dimorphos, making it speed up and move closer to Didymos.
- All of these reduce the orbital period and the time taken for the moonlet to go around the primary asteroid.
- The pair’s trajectory is thus deflected as the net result of these dynamics.
- The close-up images transmitted by the DART moments before the fatal collision indicate that Dimorphos is more like a pile of rubble loosely held by gravity.
- If true, the impact will eject a cascade of debris, each piece carrying away a bit of momentum and energy. And as a net result, the asteroid will suffer a considerable loss. It will speed up more, and the orbit will become nearer to Didymos. The orbital period will then reduce by as much as 10 minutes.
What has been the impact assessment?
- The DART craft carried a high-resolution DRACO (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation) camera to observe the collision and its consequences.
- The close-up images until its fatal crash are being analysed. In addition, a tiny toaster-sized Italian Space Agency-built Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube) took a piggyback ride with the DART.
- The CubeSat was released and deployed two weeks before the impact. Hovering 50 kilometres from the asteroid, the two cameras aboard the CubeSat have captured the plume of the debris ejected by the collision.
- At 11 million kilometres, the asteroids appear like a blip of dot even through the best of telescopes. The total brightness of the pair darkens when Dimorphos passes in front of and behind Didymos.
What are the other possibilities of this technique?
- At the heels of NASA, China is set to deflect a 40m diametre earth-crossing asteroid called 2020 PN1 sometime in 2026.
- While ostensibly the drive comes from the desire to protect earth from killer asteroids, perhaps the lure of space mining lurks behind.
- Mining rare earth elements comes with a high environmental cost. In the coming years, the penalty for polluting could make space mining economically viable.
- If one can tug a mineral-rich asteroid near the Moon or establish a space mining factory between the orbits of earth and Mars, precious mineral resources needed for decades could be easily sourced.
- The ‘kick’ technique that deflects asteroids can then be used to move a small asteroid into a convenient position for space mining.
- Now shelved, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) aimed at precisely this by bringing a 20-tonne space rock near earth to study and mine. In a way, the DART mission is also part of this frame.
- For developing green energy technologies — electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage devices — and ushering in the low carbon economy of the future, rare earth elements such as yttrium, niobium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and scandium are critical. They are short in supply, and asteroid mining, it is believed, could solve the rare earth supply problem.
2 . Quarterly Employment Survey
Context: Fourth round (January-March 2022) of the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), which is a part of the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey (AQEES) was released by the union Labour minister.
About the Survey
- The AQEES has been taken up by the Labour Bureau to provide frequent (quarterly) updates about the employment and related variables of establishments in both organized and unorganized segments of nine selected sectors, which account for a majority of the total employment in the non-farm establishments.
- QES captures employment data in respect of establishments employing 10 or more workers, mostly constituting the organized segment, in the nine selected sectors. These sectors are Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation & Restaurants, IT/ BPOs and Financial Services.
- These nine sectors accounted for about 85% of the total employment in units with 10 or more workers in the 6th Economic Census.
Key findings of the Survey
- Manufacturing is the largest institutional employer in the country, employing about 38.5% of the workers.
- The survey estimated that around 3.18 crore workers were employed in about 5.31 lakh establishments between January and March.
- It claimed an increase of about four lakh workers compared with the third round of QES, which was done for the last three months of 2021.
- Education, manufacturing, trade and financial services together accounted for 84% of the total estimated units.
- The manufacturing sector accounts for the largest percentage (38.5%) of the total number of workers, followed by the education sector with 21.7%, IT/BPO sector with 12% and the health sector with 10.6%.
- Almost 80% of the establishments engaged 10 to 99 workers.
- About 12% of the establishments reported fewer than 10 workers.
- Only 1.4% of the establishments surveyed reported at least 500 workers.
- Such large establishments were mostly in the IT/ BPO sector and in the health sector.
- The participation of women workers witnessed a marginal increase from 31.6% in the third quarter to 31.8% in the fourth quarter report.
- However, women workers constituted about 52% of the workforce in the health sector, while the corresponding percentages in education, financial services and IT/ BPO sectors stood at 44%, 41% and 36%, respectively.
- It is noteworthy that in financial services, women far outnumber males among self-employed persons.
- 86.4% of the workers were regular employees, and 8.7% were contractual employees followed by casual employees (2.3%) and self-employed (2%).
- The share of fixed term employees in the establishments was found to be the least (0.7%) overall.
Analysis from the Survey
- Employment was showing an increasing trend and estimated employment rose from 3.14 crore in the third quarter (September-December 2021) to 3.18 crore in the fourth quarter (January-March 2022).
- The total employment in the nine selected sectors taken collectively was reported as 2.37 crore in the sixth economic census (2013-14).
- The Labour Bureau had taken up AQEES to provide quarterly estimates about employment and related variables of establishments in both organized and unorganized segments of nine sectors — manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation and restaurant, IT / BPO and financial services.
3 . Economic Advantage for India as a member of Quad
Context: According to Moody’s Investors Service, India’s membership of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue will help it tap greater trade and investment flows as economic ties deepen among members seeking to cut their reliance on China, but India’s protectionist stance and ‘weak’ business climate could constrain these gains.
- India is poised to become a growing destination market for goods from the other Quad countries, including commodities, machinery and chemicals,” the rating agency said in a note on geopolitical risks stemming from the Quad alliance.
- The U.S. and Japan will continue to be major sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) to India in services, telecommunications and software, while Australia’s presence will grow as a result of a free-trade agreement with India.
- Trade and investment gains would accrue to India, however there will be regulatory and infrastructure.
- The magnitude of the trade flow shifts would also depend on improvements in India’s business climate and the level of investment attractiveness, which ‘remained weak’ compared with that of other Asia Pacific and Quad economies.
- India also stands out as a relatively protectionist market reflected in its high weighted average import tariff.
- Still, as economies diversify production of critical products and technologies, the Quad would continue to drive some long-term supply-chain shifts toward Southeast Asia and India.
- These shifts may include greater Australian exports of commodities including copper, energy and agricultural goods to these economies.
- Financial services companies in the U.S., Japan and Australia will benefit from the shifts, which will also support India’s industrial and capital market development.
- India stood to benefit from Quad-related supply chain shifts by raising trade with member economies and diversifying sources of imports.
- For India, the costs of pivoting from China toward Quad members as priority markets for trade growth will be relatively low, given that only a small share of its exports currently go to China.
- As reflected in its reluctance to join the RCEP trade agreement, India is keen to reduce its dependence on imports from China while expanding its market access to Australia, Japan and the U.S.
- A lack of cohesion between Quad members exemplified by India opting out of the IPEF trade pillar, may also hurt its ability to find common strategic ground.
- Moody’s, however, pointed out that in the absence of any new investment or trade agreements given the coalition’s focus on security and cooperation, the Quad is unlikely to mount a significant challenge to the region’s broader trade architecture, or to China’s centrality to regional trade.
- However, the Quad’s efforts likely will complement, and overlap with, nascent efforts by the US and other economies to increase economic engagement in the region, such as the recently announced US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
4 . Facts for Prelims
Dadasaheb Phalke award
- It was instituted in 1969.
- The Dadasaheb Phalke Award was introduced by the Government of India to commemorate Dadasaheb Phalke’s contribution to Indian cinema.
- He directed India’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra in 1913.
- Honoured with the highest award in the field of cinema, the recipients are recognized for their ‘outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema’.
- It is presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony by the Directorate of Film Festivals, an organisation set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
- The award comprises a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) medallion, a shawl, and a cash prize of ₹10 lakh.
- The first Dadasaheb Phlake award was given to Devika Rani.
Ground water app
- The Union government launched a mobile application — Jaldoot.
- It is jointly developed by the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Ministries to monitor the groundwater levels across the country.
- The app will be used to capture the water levels of two or three open wells in every village twice a year, from May 1 to 31 during the pre-monsoon time and from October 1 to 31.
- To ensure transparency, the officers assigned for the task have been told to upload the geotagged photographs through the app each time the measurement is done.
- The mobile app will work in online and offline modes to ensure that lack of Internet connectivity does not come in the way of exercise.
- The regular data from the ‘Jaldoots’ would be integrated with the database of the National Water Informatics Centre, which can be utilised for analysis and help in conservation efforts.
- The State governments and gram panchayats should involve themselves towards systematically collecting groundwater level data and assimilation of the same in the central digital database for analysis.
- The data generated by this exercise will help in better planning and will give the right assessment of the problem at hand.
- The Carl Gustaf 8.4 cm recoilless rifle, named after Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori which initially produced it is a Swedish developed 84 mm (3.3 in) caliber man-portable shoulder-fired recoilless rifle.
- It was initially developed by the Royal Swedish Army Materiel Administration during the second half of the 1940s as a close-range anti-tank and support weapon for infantry, which has seen great export success around the globe and is today a popular multi-purpose support weapon in use by many nations.
- The Carl Gustaf 84 mm recoilless rifle is a lightweight, low-cost weapon that uses a wide range of ammunition, which makes it extremely flexible and suitable for a wide variety of roles.
- Swedish defence major SAAB announced plans to manufacture its Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system in India.
- The manufacturing would be done by a new fully SAAB-owned subsidiary, Saab FFV India Pvt. Ltd.
- The new facility would be partnering with Indian sub-suppliers which will fulfil the ‘Make in India’ requirements.
- The Army has been using the iconic Carl-Gustaf since 1976 and currently operates the Mk2 and Mk3 versions.