Ganga Sagar

Ganga Sagar
  • It is the largest village of Sagar Island, located under the administration of Sunderbans.
  • It is governed by the state government of West Bengal.
  • It is situated just off the Bengal coast on the point where the River Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is a place of peace, calm, golden sand beaches and of religion.
  • Every year in the month of January, the island sees a huge gathering of devotees from all parts of the country who come to take a dip in the holy waters.
Holy dip
  • The River Ganga is the holiest river in Hindu mythology.
  • This place is also regarded as a holy destination like Prayag and it is believed that taking holy dip in this place can cleanse all the sins.
Gangasagar Mela
Every year, a long fair is arranged at the Ganga Sagar Island in January and February.
The fair becomes highly crowded on the Makar Sankranti day.
It is one of the most famous religious themed fairs in India.
Section : History & Culture

Intention, tech and capital to make ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ a reality Editorial 14th Jul’20 FinancialExpress

Clean energy future:

  • The key elements of the big picture in the energy world are becoming more and more clear.
  • The dependence on fossil fuels will continue to drop and we are not very far from a future that will be predominantly run on clean energy. 
  • It may not be long before renewable energy overtakes conventional energy produced with coal and gas. 

Progress towards clean energy over the years:

  • According to the Renewables 2019 Global Status Report, the estimated share of renewables in global electricity generation was more than 26% by the end of 2018. 
  • Net capacity additions for renewable power were higher than for fossil fuels and nuclear combined for a fourth consecutive year, and renewables now make up more than one-third of global installed power capacity.

One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) or ‘Global solar grid’:

  • The idea of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG) or the ‘intercontinental solar power grid’ was originally proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in October 2018.
  • At a recent virtual energy conference, NITI Aayog’s CEO re-introduced the idea of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG). 

Based on the fact that Sun is always available in parts of the world:

  • The driving force behind a global idea like the OSOWOG is simple. 
  • The sun is always available in some parts of the world where its light can be converted into energy.

India has taken a leadership role towards this:

  • It is a matter of great pride that India, as a co-founder of the ISA, is taking leadership in moving this global idea forward. 
  • India is also one of the fastest-growing renewable energy markets in the world. 
  • Over the last six years, India’s solar power generation capacity has increased more than eight times with an installed capacity of 35 GW as of May 2020, which is around 10% of the total installed power capacity in the country. 
  • It shows we can achieve over 400 GW of solar power capacity by 2030 or half of the total power capacity.

Falling storage will make OSOWOG a reality:

  • If increased solar power generation can be combined with dependable and economically viable storage, we have a global and sustainable source of energy.
  • The power storage aspect is also improving, with the cost of storage, which has dropped from around $1,100 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) a decade ago to around $150 now.  By some estimates, this should further drop to around $100 over 3-5 years.
  • The consistently falling cost of storage help make the OSOWOG a reality.

‘Global solar grid’ can come true with collective global efforts:

  • The global community is facing one of the most challenging moments in recent history caused by an invisible virus.
  • Despite this, history will record 2020 as the year when the world came together to fight Covid-19.
  • Our collective efforts to fight the covid pandemic shows what we can achieve as a ‘global collective’ and indicates that the plan of building a “global solar grid” should be feasible. 

ISA has an important role in taking OSOWOG forward:

  • The OSOWOG project is expected to be implemented in three phases starting with the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia (with India being a grid-fulcrum).
  • The global network is expected to emerge in the final phase of this project. 
  • More than anything else, the success of this grand project will depend on the strength of the institutional framework and the conviction of its members. 
  • That is where the role of the ISA will be indispensable. 
  • The ISA is already working to mobilise more than a trillion dollars in investments in solar energy by 2030.

Conclusion:

  • The intention, technology and the capital that will make the OSOWOG a reality are already falling in place. 
  • The idea of creating a global network of clean energy should, by itself, inspire all of us to work together to make it a reality. 

Importance:GS Paper III: Indian Economy

About Microbots or Micro-robots

About Microbots or Micro-robots

  • Microbots are tiny automated machines with sizes of order less than a millimeter.
  • They are basically a robot of the size of cell or say about 100 atoms.
  • As a result of tiny sizes, microbot technology is seen as a disruptive technology especially in future biomedicine.

 

Principle and Working

Basic Principle

  • Microbots work on the same principle as that of an industrial robot.
  • Primary components of a robot:
    • A sensor to sense the stimuli from the environment
    • An actuator to perform the mechanical actions like moving, lifting, dropping etc.
    • A microcontroller to enable communication between sensors and actuators
    • A power source to power all the parts of a robot
    • A platform which houses all these parts
    • A software that instructs working of various parts

 

Working of microbot

The major challenge of microbot is the tiny size.

Actuators

  • Designing actuators, capable of locomotion, of sizes of order of millimeter and less is the major challenge.
  • The large robots use motors to perform this function.

Solution

The various ways in which microbots are designed are as follows

  • Acoustic actuators
    • In this method the microrobots are controlled and moved using sound-based stimuli.
    • The sound wave produces pressure points in the medium in which the microbots are placed for locomotion function.
  • Chemical actuators
    • In this method chemicals are used to create changes in the environment that generates forces that move the microbots.
  • Photo- actuators
    • In this method a light based source like laser is used to create temperature differences that provides force for the microrobots to move, bend etc.
  • Magnetic actuators
    • In this method changing magnetic fields gives thrust to the actuators to perform locomotion functions.

 

Materials used for microbot fabrication

  • Microbots require a revolution in material science to be able to fabricate materials suitable for robot design of such sizes.
    • Silicon chips that are use in computers can be used as platform for housing the robots.
    • Platinum and titanium can be used to design actuators.
  • This is because platinum and titanium respond differently upon a force that is applied. (electrical force)

 

Applications

  • Drug delivery
    • Microbots are increasing seen as the technology of the future for drug delivery replacing the current invasive techniques.
    • Eg: To destroy tumors in cancer, performing biopsy, destroy kidney stones, removing plaque in arteries and other surgeries.
  • Neuroscience
    • Microbots can be used to study nerve signals in brain.
  • Pollution
    • Microbots are seen as a solution to remove heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium etc. from water.
  • Industrial applications
    • Microbots can be used to perform cleaning operations in industrial machines, IC engines etc.
  • Cleaning of batteries
    • Microbots can be used to clean batteries of electronic devices thereby increasing the life of batteries.
Section : Science & Tech

Everything about NATGRID

  • The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to access the centralised online database on FIRs and stolen vehicles.
  • The MoU will give NATGRID access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) database, a platform that links around 14,000 police stations.
  • The MoU enables the NATGRID to get information about details of a suspect as mentioned in the FIR such as his/her father’s name, telephone number and other details.

Reasons for the establishment of NATGRID

  • The 26/11 (2008) attacks on Mumbai led to the exposure of several weaknesses in India’s intelligence gathering.
  • Before the Mumbai attacks, a Pakistani origin American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley had visited India several times and had collected information of the places that were attacked on 26/11.
  • Despite his multiple visits to India, the Indian agencies failed to notice him. This failure happened because the Indian security agencies did not have a system which could identify a pattern in his various trips to the country.

In Focus: NATGRID

  • NATGRID was conceptualised, as a counter terrorism programme, to study and analyse the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks.
  • Initiated at a budget of Rs 2,800 crore, NATGRID will be accessible to at least 10 Central agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) to access data on a secured platform.
  • NATGRID will collect information on terror suspects from 21 data providing organisations such as banks, telecommunications companies, railways and airlines, immigration department, motor vehicle department, income tax department etc.
  • The NATGRID is also supposed to collect and keep all data on previous intelligence alerts so that these could be assessed to verify similar links when a fresh intelligence alert is issued.
  • As per the present arrangement, the security agencies directly contact an airline or a telephone company if they need data regarding someone suspect. The data is shared through international servers such as Google etc. The NATGRID will ensure that such information is shared through a secure platform, safeguarding it from leaks.

Concerns:

  • Many concerns have been expressed regarding the dangers of leakage or misuse of the NATGRID.
  • The collection of vital information from different resources is vulnerable to cyber-attacks or spying activities from foreign intelligence agencies. Thus it is important to have proper safeguards in place to prevent this data leak.
  • There are also concerns around data privacy, especially considering that efforts to maintain accountability over intelligence agencies has often proved difficult.
  • Thus, it is important that proper mechanism is put in place so that security agencies can access the NATGRID database only for counter terrorism related operations.

Future outlook:

  • As per the Ministry of Home Affairs, the NATGRID will start functioning by December 31, 2020.
  • NATGRID is seen as vital for strengthening India’s national security and counter-terrorism efforts.

About: CCTNS

  • The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project was conceived in 2009 after 26/11 attacks (in Mumbai), with the aim of establishing connectivity among 14,000 police stations across the country.
  • All the State police have to compulsorily file the First Information Reports (FIR) in the CCTNS.
  • The project involves digitisation of data related to FIRs registered, cases investigated, and charge sheets filed in all police stations, in order to develop a national database of crime and criminals.

Magnetic Pole is drifting

Headline : Magnetic Pole is drifting

Details :

The News

  • The North Magnetic Pole of the earth is found to be moving from Northern Canada towards Siberia, at an unusually faster rate.

Highlights

• The north magnetic field is moving at an unusually faster rate of about 60 Km/year from northern Canada towards Siberia in Russia.
• This has forced the scientists from World Magnetic Model to update the worlds official magnetic field map.
• The updation will immensely help navigation system in the Arctic.

Earth’s Magnetic Field

• One of the ways to probe into to the interior structure of any planet is to study the magnetic field outside the planet using an ordinary compass.
• The magnetic field of the earth is caused by the motion of the molten liquid portions of the Earth’s interior.
• As this molten material consisting of mostly iron conducts electricity, these motions give rise to electric currents, which in turn produce the Earth’s magnetic field.

Magnetic Poles v/s Geographical Poles

• The axis of the earth’s rotation is the line joining the geographical poles of the earth.
• Due to its magnetic field, earth behaves as a bar magnet with a north and south poles.
• Because the temperatures of the earth’s interior is around 770°C, the orientations of the electron orbits become randomized.
• As a result the magnetic poles of the earth do not exactly coincide with the earth’s geographical poles.

Movement of the Magnetic Poles

• The high temperatures and random movement of the liquid in the in the earth’s liquid core makes the magnetic poles of the earth move erratically.
• According to data from compass of ship logs the north magnetic pole was around northern Canada around 400 years ago.
• It has been moving back and forth around northern Canada until the 1900s, before it started moving eastwards at the rate of 14-15 km per year till the 1990s.
• Now it is seen that the north magnetic pole is moving at the rate of about 55 km per year in the last few years.

World Magnetic Model

• The World Magnetic Model (WMM) tracks the movement of earth’s magnet poles and is widely used in navigation, attitude and heading referencing systems, in addition to civilian navigation, smart phones etc.
• The World Magnetic Model is a standard model used by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.K. Ministry of Defence, NATO and International Hydrographic Organization.
• The World Magnetic Model is updated every 5 years owing to movement of the magnetic poles
Section : Science & Tech

Get to know currency derivatives

Headline : Get to know currency derivatives

Details :

Introduction

  • Currency derivatives are considered to be one of the best options to manage any risk against foreign currency exchange rate volatility.

 

About currency derivatives

  • Currency derivatives are exchange-based futures and options contracts that allow one to hedge against currency movements.
  • One can use a currency future contract to exchange one currency for an another at a future date at a price decided on the day of the purchase of the contract.
  • Corporate with a significant exposure to imports or exports use these contracts to hedge against their exposure to a certain currency.
  • Currency future contracts allow investors to hedge against foreign exchange risk.
  • Till January 2010, exchange rate futures were available only for US Dollar vis-à-vis Indian Rupee.
  • Now, currency Derivatives are available on four currency pairs viz. US Dollars (USD), Euro (EUR), Great Britain Pound (GBP) and Japanese Yen (JPY).
  • While all such currency contracts are cash-settled in rupees, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), gave a go-ahead to start cross currency contracts as well on euro-dollar, pound-dollar and dollar-yen.
  • Currencies are often traded in by banks and financial trading institutions.
  • But individual investors can also trade in currency derivatives to take advantage of variations in currency exchange rates.
  • The market for currency trading is one of the biggest and fastest growing in the world.

 

Background

  • It was first introduced at the Chicago Mercantile exchange (CME) in 1972.
  • The currency segment in India was unveiled in 2008 and since then, the volumes had registered a steady rise.
  • NSE was the first stock exchange in India, permitted by the SEBI to set up a separate currency derivatives segment in 2008.
  • Following which, the BSE and MCX started trading the currency futures in same year.
  • The two national-level stock exchanges, BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), have currency derivatives segments.
  • The Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSEI) also has such a segment but the volumes are a fraction of that witnessed on the BSE or the NSE.
  • In June, BSE reported an average daily turnover of ₹33,961 crore on its currency derivatives platform while NSE clocked ₹29,161 crore. MSEI reported a daily average turnover of only ₹239 crore in June.
  • The growth in the segment can further be ascertained from the steady rise in the turnover over the years.
  • The Exchange Traded Currency Derivative market is regulated by SEBI through the recognized stock exchanges.
  • The Foreign Exchange Management Act regulates the Foreign Exchange market and the regulatory authority for the Indian Foreign Exchange Market is the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

 

Trade in currency derivatives

  • One can trade in currency derivatives through brokers.
  • Incidentally, all the leading stock brokers offer currency trading services too.
  • It is just like trading in equity or equity derivatives segment and can be done through the trading app of the broker.
  • You can trade through futures trading contracts for different foreign currencies through leading stock exchanges in India.
  • However, foreign institutional investors and non-resident Indians cannot trade in this market.
  • Traders have to pay only a certain percentage value of the contracts to trade, and not the full contract value, which makes these contracts lucrative.
  • Brokers get guidelines from exchanges to help decide the margins.
  • Usually, they have to pay about 3%-5% of the value of the contracts for buying currency derivatives.

 

Need of currency derivatives

  • Prior to the introduction of currency derivatives on exchanges, there was only the OTC – over the counter – market to hedge currency risks and where forward contracts were negotiated and entered into.
  • It was kind of an opaque and closed market where mostly banks and financial institutions traded.
  • With the changing dynamics and increasing volatility of exchange rates across the globe, companies exposed to currency risk face the challenge of maintaining continued profit margins.
  • In recent years, the Indian foreign exchange system encountered increasing levels of fluctuations with high volatility rates, which lead to needs of hedging instruments in the market and in order to advance Indian foreign exchange market to international standards, a well-developed foreign exchange derivative market was essential.
  • In such situation, currency Derivatives provides one of the best options to manage any related exchange rate risk and be free from the worries of market uncertainties.
  • Exchange-based currency derivatives segment is a regulated and transparent market that can be used by small businesses and even individuals to hedge their currency risks.

 

Section : Economics

What are galaxy clusters?

What are galaxy clusters?

  • Galaxies are like the building blocks of the universe and they contain a huge number of stars (like 100 billion at a count).
  • Galaxy groups can have three to 20 galaxies whereas the galaxy clusters can have several hundred galaxies.
  • Superclusters are clusters of clusters and the number can vary from two clusters to many clusters.
  • The recently discovered supercluster Saraswati has 42 clusters.

 

What are superclusters?

  • These are the largest coherent structures seen in the universe.
  • Firstly there are clusters of galaxies together with associated gas and dark matter.
  • Large groups of such clusters, linked by filaments, separated by voids together form the superclusters.
  • The first such large supercluster to be discovered was the Shapley supercluster.
  • The Milky Way is part of a supercluster called the Laniakea Supercluster. It was announced in 2014.

 

How does the Saraswati supercluster compare with the Milky Way?

  • The newly discovered Saraswati supercluster is 600 million light years across.
  • The Milky Way is 150,000 light years across.

 

 

Where does the supercluster Saraswati lie in the sky?

  • The supercluster Saraswati lies in the Stripe 82 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
  • It is about 4000 million light years away from us.
  • It is in the constellation of Pisces.

 

What is “Stripe 82 region of SDSS”?

  • SDSS stands for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is an ambitious plan to make a digital 3D map of the universe.
  • It was started in 2000 and over eight years it has mapped more than a quarter of the sky.
  • In its third phase, SDSS-III, it produced a map of the North galactic cap which stretched to 7500 square degrees and of three stripes in the South Galactic Cap which added to 740 square degrees. The central stripe is known as Stripe 82.

(There’s no need to mug up mapping details, it is only for your understanding.)

 

Is Saraswati the first supercluster that Indians have discovered?

  • Professor Somak Raychaudhury had discovered a supercluster and it was named “Shapley Supercluster,” after the American astronomer Shapley who first coined the term cluster.
Section : Science & Tech

In focus: Graphene – The wonder material

In focus: Graphene – The wonder material

  • Graphene is the next-generation wonder material that will revolutionize material science.
  • It is made up of carbon atoms that are arranged in a peculiar way to give it the special properties it possesses.

 

Structure of graphene

  • Graphene is a 1-atom thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal ring shape.
  • The carbon-atoms in graphene are laid out flat making it effectively a 2-D crystal.
  • Imagine graphite (used in pencil) to be made up of billions of layers of carbon atoms, one such layer is what represents graphene.
  • Though there are materials made up of same atoms, they exhibit different physical and chemical properties because of the way the atoms are arranged. (Allotropes)
  • For instance, though both graphite and diamond are made up of carbon atoms, they exhibit completely contrasting physical chemical properties.
  • Similarly the way the carbon atoms are arranged in graphene gives it the unique combination of properties.

 

 

Properties

  • Strength: Graphene is a 2-d crystal stronger than diamond and 300 times stronger than steel.
  • Thickness: Graphene is the thinnest material known, million times thinner than human hair.
  • Light: Being 1-atom thick layer, it is extremely light
  • Conductor: It exhibits both electrical and thermal conductivity.
  • Optically Transparent
  • Flexible
  • Hydro-phobic

 

Potential Applications

  • Aerospace and ship building
    • Graphenes are potentially the next-gen materials for aircraft bodies and ship hulls.
    • Due to being light and strong; it will reduce the drag of the aircraft or ship hulls, thereby increasing their fuel efficiency.
  • Automotive
    • For the same reason mentioned above graphene may be useful automotive bodies.
  • High-speed electronics
    • As a result of super-conductivity, it is ideal for high-speed electronics.
  • High-speed computers
    • The speed and performance of any computer depends on the size of the microprocessors inside it.
    • Graphene may potentially replace silicon chips used to make transistors in microprocessors.
  • Flexible Screens, sensors
    • Graphene may also revolutionise touchscreen technology due to its flexibility. (flexible foldable screens)
  • Thermo-electric devices
    • Due to thermal conductivity, graphenes may be used in thermo-electrical devices which can convert heat wasted in many devices like computers, automobile etc into electricity.
  • Solar panels
    • Graphenes can potentially be used to make photovoltaic cells.
    • Currently P-V cells undergo degradation upto 30% a year due to exposure to radiation from sun.
  • Energy Storage
    • Graphenes can make the size of batteries extremely small.

 

 

Section : Science & Tech

What is a Black hole?

What is a Black hole?

  • A black hole is a celestial monster with gravitational field so intense no matter or light can escape.
  • Black holes are extraordinarily dense entities formed when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle.
  • As black holes do not allow light to escape, it makes viewing them difficult.
  • However, space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes.

About Event Horizon Telescope Project

  • The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a large telescope array consisting of a global network of radio telescopes and combining data from several very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) stations around the Earth.
  • It’s a visionary international project to take the first photograph of a black hole.
  • Aim: To observe the immediate environment of the supermassive black holes Sagittarius A* and Messier 87.
  • Project: The scientists will be looking for a ring of light around a region of darkness representing the actual black hole. This is known as the black hole’s shadow or silhouette.

Supermassive Black Holes

  • Supermassive black holes are the largest kind of Black holes, devouring matter and radiation and perhaps merging with other black holes.
  • The researchers has targeted two supermassive black holes for the project:
    • Sagittarius A*: It is situated at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, possessing 4 million times the mass of our sun and located 26,000 light years from Earth.
    • Messier 87: It resides at the center of the neighboring Virgo A galaxy, boasting a mass 3.5 billion times that of the sun and located 54 million light-years away from Earth.

Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI: In brief

  • Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI, links together widely separated radio telescopes and allows astronomers to see the universe in more detail than ever.
  • This is a very powerful technique in radio astronomy which is helpful in observing black holes, map the surfaces of stars, and even track the drift of continents right here at home.

 

 

 

Section : Science & Tech

Prakrit

Prakrit:
  • The meaning of ‘Prakrit’ is ‘Natural’.
  • The word Prakrit is used for the group of languages spoken in ancient India.
  • Jainism has a great relation with Prakrit Languages.
  • In ancient India, Sanskrit was spoken only by Vedic Brahmins, while common people’s language was Prakrit.
  • Jains always promoted their religion through people’s languages.
  • So, most of ancient Jain literature was written in various Prakrit Languages.
  • This language had been an integral part of social life and polity for centuries.
Losing Importance
  • Prakrit started losing importance after the 12th century, the time when regional languages in the northern part of the country emerged.
  • The fact that Prakriti was spoken by the common people was also one among the reasons the scholars of that time ignored it.
  • At that time Sanskrit gained recognition while Prakrit was sidelined.
Receiving attention recently:
  • In recent years, the Prakrit has been receiving attention.
  • Few universities in India and abroad are offering courses in Prakrit studies.
  • Young scholars of Japan have developed an interest in Prakrit studies.
  • Many works of Jain scholars in Prakrit have been translated into Russian.
Classical languages:
  • These are those languages which are ancient, of an independent nature and not a derivative of any other tradition.
Criteria for declaring Classical Language:
The criteria to declaration a language as a Classical language is as under:-
  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  • The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.
Classical languages in India
  • In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”.
  • Languages so far declared to be Classical in India are:-
    • Tamil (in 2004)
    • Sanskrit (in 2005)
    • Kannada (in 2008)
    • Telugu (in 2008)
    • Malayalam (in 2013)
    • Odia (in 2014)
Benefits:
The following benefits are available for languages which are declared as classical languages:
  • Two major annual international awards are given to the scholars of eminence in the concerned language.
  • A ‘Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages’ can be set up.
  • The University Grants Commission can be requested to create, a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages and for scholars of eminence in the concerned language.
Section : History & Culture