National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 9th April 2019

Centre’s higher education rankings

Topic: Governance

In News: The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) has topped the Centre’s ranking of higher education institutions, followed by the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and IIT-Delhi.

More on the Topic:

  • Seven IITs appear in the top 10 list of the National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF) for 2019, while Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and Banares Hindu University, Varanasi, take the remaining places.
  • The rankings, published annually since 2016, are based on multiple parameters, including teaching, learning and resources; research and professional practice; graduation outcomes; outreach and inclusivity; and the perception of the public, academics and employers. Overall, 3,127 institutions applied for different categories of the NIRF this year.

Associated Findings of the Report:

  • Higher education in India has widened access and improved equity. Quality remains a concern. While there are islands of excellence, both in the public and private sectors, overall standards are uneven.
  • As our higher education infrastructure continues to grow and enrolment rises, it is important to lift the bar. A nuanced approach is essential to ensure that higher education not only fulfils individual aspirations, but also achieves national goals and priorities.

Source: The Hindu

Dhanush Artillery Guns

Topic: Internal Security

In News:  The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) on Monday handed over the first batch of six Dhanush artillery guns to the Army.

More on the Topic:

  • Dhanush is the indigenously upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured in the 1980s.
  • Indigenisation to the extent of about 81%, has already been achieved. By the end of 2019, the indigenisation level of the gun will go up to 91%.. Six guns were handed over at a ceremony at Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur.
  • Dhanush is a 155 mm, 45-calibre towed artillery gun with a range of 36 km and has demonstrated a range of 38 km with specialised ammunition. It is compatible with all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) 155 mm ammunition system.
  • Since the late 20th century, most NATO armies have adopted 155 mm weapons as an all-purpose standard. They are seen as striking a good compromise between range and destructive power, while using only a single calibre simplifies logistics.
  • The gun is fitted with inertial navigation system with global positioning system- (GPS) based gun recording and auto-laying, an enhanced tactical computer for onboard ballistic computations, an onboard muzzle velocity recording, an automated gun sighting system equipped with camera, thermal imaging and laser range finder.

Source: The Hindu

Sri Lanka seeks enhanced military training from India

Topic: International Relations

In News: Sri Lanka has sought enhanced military training from India, according to President Maithripala Sirisena’s office.

More on the topic:

  • The Indian Defence Secretary agreed to look into the possibility of enhancing training facilities.
  • India and Sri Lanka agreed to increase cooperation in security and defence spheres in several areas, including regional security, curbing drug smuggling and human trafficking and training of members of the security forces.
  • Currently, over 60% of Sri Lanka’s military personnel pursue their young officers’ course, junior and senior command courses in India.
  • Meanwhile, ‘Exercise Mitra Shakti’, the sixth edition of the joint military training exercise between the Indian Army and the Sri Lankan Army, concluded at Sri Lanka.
  • The two-week programme is part of an initiative that began in 2013 as part of military diplomacy between India and Sri Lanka.

India Sri-Lanka Bilateral Relations:

  • The Cultural Cooperation Agreement has been signed between both the countries.
  • The Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo actively promotes awareness of Indian culture by offering classes in Indian music, dance, Hindi, and Yoga. Every year, cultural troops from both countries exchange visits.
  • Buddhism is a connecting link between India and Sri Lanka on religious lines.
  • Sri Lanka is India’s second largest trading partner in SAARC.
  • India and Sri Lanka signed FTA in 1998, which facilitated increased trade relations between the two countries.
  • Sri Lanka has long been a priority destination for direct investment from India.
  • India is also planning to build Trincomalee Port. The port is envisioned as an Indian counterweight to Chinese developments at Hambantota Port.

Model Mains Question: In respect of India-Sri Lanka relations, discuss how domestic factors influence foreign policy.

Source: The Hindu

LNG imports fell 9.1%

Topic: Economy

In News: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports fell 9.1% during February 2019, despite global prices falling, which bucks the established trend in India where LNG imports rise when prices fall, according to a report by India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra).

More on the Topic:

  • This change in import behaviour could be explained by the dual trends of increased production and decreased consumption within India.
  • Based on data from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, natural gas production rose 3.3% in February 2019 compared to a year earlier.

Importance of LNG

  • Considering the limited domestic gas reserves, declining production and favourable global factors, LNG import is the best alternative remedy for addressing India’s natural gas deficiency.
  • Gas is one of the cleanest fuels with less carbon dioxide per joule delivered than either by coal or oil and far fewer pollutants than other hydrocarbon fuels.

Source:The Hindu

Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards

Topic: Awards and Honours

In News: Vice President recently conferred around 100 ‘President’s Certificate of Honour’ and ‘Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman’ Awards to scholars in Classical Languages.

More on the Topic:

  • The Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman distinction is conferred on persons in recognition of their substantial contribution in the field of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam.
  • Introduced in the year 2002.Given to selected young scholars in the age group of 30 to 45 years.
  • Carries a certificate of honour, a memento and a one-time cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.

About Maharshi Badrayan:

  • He was an Indian philosopher about whom almost no personal details are reliably known.
  • Badarayana is regarded as having written the basic text of the Vedanta system, the Vedāntasūtra a.k.a. Brahmasūtra. He is thus considered the founder of the Vedānta system of philosophy.
  • The date of Badarayana and his Brahma Sutras is uncertain. Different scholars have dated the Brahma Sutras variously from 500 BCE to 450 BCE.

About Vedanta System of philosophy

  • All Vedanta schools, in their deliberations, concern themselves with the following three categories but differ in their views regarding the concept and the relations between them: Brahman – the ultimate metaphysical reality, Ātman / Jivātman – the individual soul or self, and Prakriti – the empirical world, ever-changing physical universe, body and matter.
  • Some of the better known sub-traditions of Vedanta include Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism), and Dvaita (dualism).
  • Most other Vedantic sub-traditions are subsumed under the term Bhedabheda (difference and non-difference).
  • Over time, Vedanta adopted ideas from other orthodox (āstika) schools like Yoga and Nyaya, and, through this syncretism, became the most prominent school of Hinduism.

Source: PIB

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: The Indian Navy and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) inked a MoU to undertake joint research and development of advanced technologies for the Indian Navy. This will be a collaborative arrangement between labs of CSIR, the Indian Navy and Indian industry.

More on the Topic:

  • Some of the immediate projects to be progressed under this MoU include development of alternative desalination technologies, installation of wireless MEMS based sensors for remote operation, Residual Life Assessment studies of Gas Turbine Generator blades to improve reliability.

About CSIR:

  • Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Science and Technology and the largest research and development (R&D) organization in India.
  • Some of the achievements by CSIR includes:
  • CSIR’s Global positioning: CSIR has been ranked 12th in the world amongst the government institutions in the world, according to 2016 report of the Scimago Institutions Rankings.
  • Drishti transmissometer: A visibility measuring system provides information to pilots on visibility for soft landing and take-off operation.
  • Solar tree: designed to occupy minimum space to produce clean power.
  • Lithium Ion Battery: India’s first lithium ion battery fabrication facility based on indigenous novel materials has been established.
  • Rice Cultivar (Muktashree) :A rice variety which restricts assimilation of Arsenic.
  • Anti-obesity DAG oil:Oil enriched with Diacylglycerol (DAG) instead of conventional triacylglycerol (TAG).
  • Non-toxic radiation shielding materials utilizing industrial waste like red mud (from aluminium industries) and fly ash (Thermal power plants) for application in diagnostic X-Ray rooms.

Source: The Hindu

Arctic warming

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: According to recent study when the Arctic is warmer, the jet stream and other wind patterns tend to be weaker.

More on the Topic:

  • Arctic warming weakens the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles, resulting in less precipitation, weaker cyclones and mid-latitude westerly wind flow, which is a recipe for prolonged droughts.
  • The temperature difference between the tropics and the poles drives a lot of weather.
  • When those opposite temperatures are wider, the result is more precipitation, stronger cyclones and more robust wind flow.
  • However, due to the Arctic ice melting and warming up the poles, those disparate temperatures are becoming closer.
  • Lakes are these natural recorders of wet and dry conditions, when lakes rise or lower it leaves geological evidence behind.

Source: Down to Earth

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