GS Prelims and Mains III – Sceince and Technology; Space; indigenous achievements
- ISRO is set to launch its communication satellite GSAT-29 on its heavy-lift vehicle, the GSLV-MkIII (on November 14).
- ISRO is also preparing for a PSLV mission on November 26 to launch HySIS, a new variant of Earth observation satellites, along with 20-30 small commercial satellites.
- Lunar lander-rover Chandrayaan-2 is slated for launch in January next year.
Konark Sun Temple
GS Prelims and Mains I – Culture; Indian Art and Heritage
- The Sun Temple, an ASI-protected world heritage site, is known for its outstanding architecture.
- The temple represents a chariot of the Sun God and is one of the World Heritage sites declared by UNESCO.
- The 13th Century monument was built by King Langula Narasingha Deva by mobilising 1,200 sculptors.
- Recently, there are some allegations that the original stone carvings in the temple, as per media reports, had been removed and in their place, plain stones had been ﬁxed.
- Konark Sun temple represents the climax of Odishan temple architecture. It symbolises Odia pride and reflects the ethical and emotional expression of the Odia people.
India, Singapore begin sea drills
GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; Defence and Security ties
- 25th edition of the India-Singapore bilateral naval exercise, SIMBEX, had begun at the tri-services command in Port Blair.
- The two countries have vastly expanded their military cooperation in recent years under India’s Act East policy.
- Late last year, the two countries signed a naval agreement which has a provision for mutual logistical support and gives India access to the Changi naval base.
- Started as basic Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises in 1994, today these exercises have graduated to complex maritime combat drills, including missile and torpedo firings, and shore-based intensive professional exchanges.
- India and Singapore are working on a trilateral exercise with an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) country, likely Thailand, and eventually plan to scale it up to a multilateral format.
SpiNNaker: world’s largest brain-mimicking supercomputer
GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology
- SpiNNaker – the world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time.
- The Spiking Neural Network Architecture machine is capable of completing more than 200 million million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors.
Do you know?
- SpiNNaker, built at the University of Manchester in U.K., can model more biological neurons in real time than any other machine on the planet.
- Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy.
Misc: Rechristening of names
Below picture provides examples of some of the names of cities and villages being changed recently.
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Economic development, MSMEs
Political economics: credit stimulus for MSMEs
- The Centre has announced an important credit stimulus package for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
- The main rationale behind the government’s move for the announcement for the credit stimulus package is due to adverse impact on MSMEs due to twin shocks arising from demonetization and GST.
- Further, there are concerns related to decrease in credit flow by NBFCs due to IL&FS Crisis.
What is Credit Stimulus?
- Credit Stimulus is the policy which seeks to enhance credit flow to various critical sectors in the economy by providing loans at the cheaper rate of interest.
- The main idea behind the credit stimulus is to promote growth and development of the critical sectors and to reduce their dependence on informal borrowings.
Overview of Credit Stimulus package
- The sanction of business loans of up to ₹1 crore within a time frame of 59 minutes, in order to encourage faster credit flow to MSMEs.
- An interest subvention of 2% under the scheme and support from public sector units, which will now be mandated to make at least 25% of their overall purchases from MSMEs.
- There are five key aspects for facilitating the MSME sector and the government has taken 12 measures that will be addressed to each of these five categories.:
- Access to credit
- Access to market
- Technology upgradation
- Ease of doing business
- Security for employees
Criticism of the package
- The scheme has signs of state-led economic planning written all over it.
- The biggest risk of a credit stimulus is the misallocation of productive economic resources.
- Pumping extra credit into MSMEs now may well lead to a temporary boom but it can lead to a painful bust when the stimulus ends some day.
- Another unintended consequence is the likely deterioration in credit standards as financial institutions are pushed to lend aggressively to MSMEs.
- Efforts to expedite business loan approvals may be welcome from the point of view of growth and job creation, but they rarely end well when motivated by political reasons.
- Conceptually, this credit scheme is no different from the MUDRA loan scheme, which has been troubled by soaring bad loans.
- Former RBI Governor had warned that loans extended under the MUDRA scheme could turn out to be the source of the next financial crisis.
- Care needs to be taken to see that the new MSME loan scheme does not pose a similar risk in the future.
- Also, the demand that PSUs must procure a quarter of their inputs from MSMEs could breed further inefficiency in the economy.
- Rather than taking temporary measures, need is of long term solution.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Science and Technology
Neutrino facility has miles to go
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) upheld the environmental clearance granted to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), a major research facility proposed in Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
- While this removes all current legal hurdles in building the facility, there are still other obstacles to be overcome before work can begin on this project, which has been in planning since 2001.
What are Neutrinos?
- These are extremely tiny elementary particles that are omnipresent in universe but very difficult to detect because they pass seamlessly through all kinds of matter.
- Neutrinos carry no electric charge.
- Predicted in 1931, neutrinos were detected for the first time in 1959, and are now considered to be the second most abundant particle in the universe — after the photon, or light particle.
- Groups in many countries are carrying out research on neutrinos, believed to hold important clues to some of the basic questions on the universe.
- Research on neutrinos has led to award of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2015.
INO: Obstacles and delays
- The INO promises to be a one-of-its-kind facility to detect and study neutrinos. Once built, INO would be the biggest research facility in India.
- The underground laboratory will be located nearly 1.5 km below the Earth’s surface, where a giant neutrino detector is to be placed.
- The laboratory will consist of a cavern of size 132 m × 26 m × 20 m and with several small rooms, and will be accessed by a tunnel nearly 2 km long and 7.5 m wide.
- The project has been mired in all kinds of trouble — litigation, public protests, opposition from NGOs and political parties, besides government apathy.
- It has had to move locations once, because the nearby Mudhumalai National Park had been declared a tiger reserve during the same time.
- Environmental clearance granted in 2011 for the second site, too, was put in abeyance by the NGT because the project was within 5 km of the Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki.
- Fresh environmental clearance was given last March by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
- The result of all these obstacles has been that work, originally scheduled to start in 2012, is yet to take off.
- The original timeline had envisaged experimental work starting from 2017, later advanced to 2020. It is now unlikely to begin before 2025, even if construction starts next year. Construction of the underground facility would take at least five years.
- The project cost, too, likely to escalate. The Union government had, in 2015, approved a budget of Rs 1,583 crore for the project. That budget was based on cost assessments done in 2012. It is estimated the project would now cost at least 25% more than that amount.
More challenges ahead
- Bigger uncertainties in terms of government approvals, meanwhile, are still to come. The project applied for clearance from the National Board of Wildlife only in January this year. That approval is still awaited.
- Last year, the INO was told it would also need building approval from relevant state government agencies.
- The Tamil Nadu government took two years for the state government to grant approval to a change in land use, from residential to residential-cum-educational, to the project’s control facility in Madurai.
- Again, for three years, the state’s Pollution Control Board did not take any action on the application for the final go-ahead after environmental clearance had been obtained in 2011.
- Political and bureaucratic hurdles are causing delay to one of the most significant project.
- Such delays will not only increase the economic cost but also leave India behind in the modern technological research race.
- To harness the immense talent in India, infrastructure is one of the most important pillars.