26 October 2020
- GS MTS & QIP Classes Announcement
- Room temperature superconductivity, possible but under severe pressure (Science & Technology)
- Evidence of dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilisation - (Ancient History)
- U.S. allies welcome Israel-Sudan deal but Iran, Palestine cry foul - (International Relation)
- Keralaâs move to bar CBI draws flak - (Polity & Governance)
- Outlook bleak for Himalayan brown bears (Environment & Ecology)
- Carbine deal a benchmark for UAE firms to invest in India (Internal Security)
- Question for the day (Ancient History)
UPSC Current Affairs: Room temperature superconductivity, possible but under severe Pressure| Page 12
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Superconductivity |UPSC
Context: Starting from hydrogen sulphide, infamous for its rotten-egg smell, a group of researchers at University of Rochester, Intel corporation and University of Nevada in the U.S. have created a material that is superconducting at 15 degrees Celsius. The only caveat is that it needs ultrahigh pressure of about 2.6 million atmospheres to achieve this transition, putting off any thoughts of application to the future. (The pressure at the centre of the Earth is 360 GPa, so it is 75% of the pressure at centre of the Earth)
Properties of Superconductor
- Two of the most important properties of superconductivity are zero resistance and diamagnetism.
- Superconductors can conduct electricity with no resistance. Hence they can carry a current indefinitely without losing any energy.
- Two electrons bind together at low temperatures. All the electrons align themselves in a particular direction, and move without any obstruction in a “coherent” manner.
- Diamagnetism is a property opposite to normal magnetism that we are used to. A diamagnetic substance repels an external magnetic field, in sharp contrast to normal magnetism, or ferromagnetism, under which a substance is attracted by an external magnetic field. No magnetic field can exist within a super conductor. A true superconductor would, if placed in a magnetic field, try to push out the field from its interior.
- It is known that sufficiently high magnetic fields can destroy superconductivity in a material.
- Superconductivity, ever since it was first discovered in 1911, has only been observed at very low temperatures, somewhere close to what is called absolute zero (0°K or -273.15°C).
- The devices using super conductor will have low power dissipation, high operating speed, and extreme sensitivity.
UPSC Current Affairs:Evidence of dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilisation| Page 12
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: History & Culture | Mains – GS Paper I – Ancient History
Sub Theme: Dairy Production in Indus Valley |UPSC
Context: The year 2020 marks 100 years of discovery of Indus Valley Civilisation, and a new study has shown that dairy products were being produced by the Harappans as far back as 2500 BCE.
- By analysing residues on ancient pots, researchers show the earliest direct evidence of dairy product processing. This has thrown fresh light on the rural economy of the civilisation. The studies were carried out on 59 shards of pottery from KotadaBhadli, a small archeological site in present-day Gujarat.
- When we talk about Harappans, we always refer to the metropolitan cities and the big towns. But we have no idea of the parallel economy — agro-pastoral or rural. We know they had great urban planning, trading systems, jewellery making. But we don't have any idea how the common masters were living during the Harappan times, their lifestyle and how they were contributing in the larger network
Carbon isotope studies
- The team used molecular analysis techniques to study the residues from ancient pottery. “Pots are porous. So as soon as we put any liquid form of food, it will absorb it. The pot preserves the molecules of food such as fats and proteins. Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis we can identify the source of lipids.
- Traces were seen in cooking vessels indicating that milk may have been boiled and consumed.
- Residues in a bowl were also found, showing that either heated milk or curd could have been served. There are also remains of a perforated vessel, and similar vessels were used in Europe to make cheese. So it is possible that they were further processing milk into different forms.
- The team was also able to show which type of animals were being used for dairy production. They studied the tooth enamel from fossils of cattle, water buffalo, goat and sheep found in the area. Cows and water buffalo were found to consume millets, while sheep and goats ate nearby grass and leaves.
- A preliminary study suggested that most of the cattle and water-buffalo died at an older age, suggesting they could have been raised for milk, whereas the majority of goat/sheep died when they were young, indicating they could have been used for meat.
- The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged and there could have been some kind of trade between settlements. This could have given rise to an industrial level of dairy exploitation.
- The most fascinating thing about the Indus Valley Civilisation is that it is faceless — there is no king, no bureaucratic organisations, but there are these very close regional interactions between settlements, a symbiotic relationship of give and take that helped the civilisation survive for so long.
UPSC Current Affairs: U.S. allies welcome Israel-Sudan deal but Iran, Palestine cry foul| Page 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current events of International Importance | Mains: GS Paper-II – International Relations
Sub Theme: Israel and Sudan reach U.S.-brokered deal to normalize ties | UPSC
Context: Israel and Sudan agreed on Friday to take steps to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the United States, making Sudan the third Arab country to set aside hostilities with Israel in the last two months. Mr. Trump's decision to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism paved the way for the accord with Israel
- Arab countries are group of 22 countries which are members of the Arab League.
- Arabic is used as the lingua franca throughout the Arab world.
- However all Arabic speaking nations are not part of Arab world.
- Malta, an island country in Southern Europe whose national language also derives from Arabic (through Sicilian Arabic), is not included in the region.
- Similarly, Chad and Eritrea also recognize Arabic as one of their official languages but are not included in the region because they are not members of the Arab League.
- The Arab League or the League of Arab States is a regional organization of African and Western Asian countries .
- It was formed in Cairo in 1945 initially with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
- Presently the league has 22 nations - Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Syria (membership suspended), Tunisia, Oman, Lebanon, Qatar, the Comoros, Sudan, Palestine, Algeria, Mauritania , Libya, Djibouti and Somalia.
- The League's main goal is to "draw closer the relations between member states and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries".
- Six countries has observer states—Eritrea, Brazil and Venezuela, India, Armenia and Chad.
- In a response to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalising their ties with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has formally stepped down from a key role in the Arab League.
- Beirut declaration
- It was the result of joint statement issued by 20 countries of Arab League in 2019 in the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit
- It called for the establishment of an Arab free trade zone and urged the international community to support nations hosting Syrian refugees.
India and Arab league
- India has observer states in the league
- The total bilateral trade with the Arab countries is over US$ 180 billion and the region is home to 7 million Indians and caters to 60% of our crude oil imports.
- Much of our external trade passes along the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
- India hosted foreign ministers of 22 Arab League nations in Delhi in January, 2019.
- Oman and India enjoy particularly good relations, an example being; both countries exchange ship visits on a regular basis. Recently, Oman has granted India berthing rights for Indian naval ships. The Indian navy has also been training Omani naval forces for many years.
- Trump announced on Monday he would take Sudan off the terrorism list once it had deposited $335 million it had pledged to pay in compensation. Khartoum has since placed the funds in a special escrow account for victims of al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The military and civilian leaders of Sudan's transitional government have been divided over how fast and how far to go in establishing ties with Israel.
- Sudan's decision was symbolically significant because it was in Khartoum in 1967 that the Arab League decided not to recognize Israel's right to exist.
- Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism dates to its toppled ruler Omar al-Bashir and has made it difficult for its transitional government to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing.
- Many in Sudan say the designation, imposed in 1993 because Washington believed Bashir was supporting militant groups, has become outdated since he was removed last year.
UPSC Current Affairs: Kerala’s move to bar CBI draws flak|Page 7
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains: GS Paper II - Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Withdrawing State’s Consent from CBI | UPSC
- A purported move by the Kerala government to withdraw the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to operate in its territory appeared to have become an irritant in the State’s arguably fraught relationship with the Centre.
- In this regard let us understand General Consent.
What is General Consent?
- The CBI derives its powers to investigate from the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 which grants the CBI power to investigate a case in Delhi, without any permission, since it is part of the Centre. However, in all the states, the CBI needs the consent of the state to investigate any case relating to that state or having jurisdiction of that state.
Why is it so?
- The provision of the Central police not being able to investigate in the states without the consent of the states is part of the Constitution which lays down the law and order as a state subject.
- The Central police cannot investigate or enter the state without the consent of the case since law and order is a state subject and the Centre cannot intervene in law and order matters. The CBI can only investigate with the consent of the state.
So what are the ways in which CBI can begin a probe?
- If a state government makes a request and the Union government agrees to it
- If the Supreme Court or any High Court order the CBI to take up such investigations,
- If the state government issues a notification of consent under section 6 of the DSPE Act and the Union government issues notification under section 5 of the DSPE Act for an investigation.
- The CBI can initiate suo motu investigations only in Union Territories, under section 2 of the DSPE Act.
For the CBI to take up investigation within the boundaries of a state requires prior consent of that state as per section 6 of the DSPE Act. The Union government can authorise the CBI to investigate such a crime in a state but only with the consent of the concerned state government. The Supreme Court and High Courts, however, can order the CBI to investigate such a crime anywhere in the country without the consent of states.
What happens when a state withdraws general consent
- Once a state withdraws general consent, the CBI has to seek permission before it can register a case against a person or an entity based in that state. So now, the CBI has to seek permission from the Maharashtra government if it has to probe anyone residing in Maharashtra.
- However, there will be no bar on investigation into cases that are already being probed by the CBI. The CBI cannot file any new FIRs in any new cases.
For example, if an offence has been committed in Delhi and part of it is in Mumbai and if the state government does not allow the CBI to file a case in Maharashtra, the CBI has an option of registering a case in Delhi and then seeking assistance from the Maharashtra police to carry out the investigation in Maharashtra. However, the CBI will not have power or jurisdiction to probe the case in Maharashtra.
There is another face-saver for the CBI – the courts. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court do not accept this bar and they have said that if we want the CBI to investigate in a state which has no consent, we will give that consent and allow the CBI to investigate. So if the CBI wants to investigate and the petitioner also wants the same, the CBI can always approach the Supreme Court for permission. But after consent is withdrawn, the CBI, of its own, cannot do any investigation on the basis of earlier consents.
UPSC Current Affairs: Outlook bleak for Himalayan brown bears |Page 9
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment & Biodiversity | Mains: GS Paper III – Environment, Ecology & Biodiversity
Sub Theme: Himalayan Brown Bear | UPSC
Himalayan Brown Bears
- This bear is heavier built and has a brown coat.
- One of the largest carnivores in the highlands of Himalayas.
- IUCN status: Least Concern
- The Himalayan brown bear in India is found through the Western Himalayan states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand at alleviation of 3000-5000 m. They have also been observed in southern and western Ladakh, in the upper Suru and Zanskar valleys.
- The best place to find them in India is the Greater Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh although they are very difficult to spot as they spend most of their time above the tree line in alpine scrubs and meadows. In fact, these bears are one of the least arboreal bear species, meaning they spend more time on the ground than on trees.
Threats to Himalayan Brown Bears:
According to study conducted by Zoological Survey of India, there is a massive decline of 73% of the bear's habitat by 2050. The habitat of the brown bear is most vulnerable to global warming, as the elevation on which the bear resides is getting warmer faster than other elevation zones of Himalayas.
- Habitats will become uninhabitable
- Loss of connectivity of protected areas
UPSC Current Affairs: ‘Carbine deal a benchmark for UAE firms to invest in India’ |Page 9
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Security | Mains: GS Paper II – International Relations + GS Paper III – Security
Sub Theme: Carbine deal with UAE | UPSC
Carbine deal a benchmark for UAE firms to invest in India
India has decided to purchase Close Quarter Carbines (CQBs) for Indian Army from UAE's government owned manufacturer Caracal.
Close Quarter Battle Carbines:
- These weapons used while carrying the ammunition and equipment.
- These weapons are used for small distance targets.
These will help in:
- Address terrorist and insurgency related threats
- Modernise the Indian Army's arsenal.
The deal was floated in January 2018 by the Defence Acquisition Council. The deal got stuck as the Ministry of Defence wanted domestic manufacturing of these weapons in line with the aim of Defence Acquisition Council.
Defence Acquisition Council
It has been created as an overarching body to be headed by Union Defence Minister. It's members include Chief of Defence Staff, Chiefs of three services and secretaries of defence ministry related departments.
1) Give in principle approval to Capital acquisitions in the Long Term Perspective Plan
2) Give in principle acceptance of necessity to each Capital acquisition project for incorporation in the forthcoming Five Year Plan
3) Monitor progress of major projects on a feedback from the defence procurement board.