Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 05th July-2021

 Topics

  • International Renewable Energy Agency on Green Hydrogen
  • NIPUN BHARATH MISSION
  • Digital India Programme
  • Discovery of a new source of gravitational waves
  • Union Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises launches 6 tech innovation platforms
  • Oxygen Concentrator named OxyJani

 

  1. International Renewable Energy Agency on Green Hydrogen

#GS #Environment and Conservation #Degradation

Context: Recently, IRENA has released the ‘World Energy Transitions Outlook’ Report.

Highlights of the report:

  • Hydrogen will make up 12 per cent of the energy mix by 2050, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
  • The agency also suggested that about 66% of this hydrogen used must come from water instead of natural gas.
  • Less than 1% of hydrogen produced is green hydrogen.

Green hydrogen production:          

  • Hydrogen can also be produced by the electrolysis of water (using an electric current to break water, H2O, into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen).
  • If this electric current is produced by a renewable source (e.g. Solar PV or a wind turbine), the clean hydrogen produced is known as green hydrogen.
  • Manufacturing and deployment of electrolysers will have to increase at an unprecedented rate by 2050 from the current capacity of 0.3 gigawatts to almost 5,000 gigawatts.

India’s Progress:

  • Under the Paris Climate Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its economy by 33-35 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • India consumes about six million tonnes of hydrogen every year for the production of ammonia and methanol in industrial sectors, including fertilisers and refineries.
    • This could increase to 28 million tonnes by 2050, principally due to the rising demand from the industry, but also due to the expansion of transport and power sectors.
  • India will become a net exporter of green hydrogen by 2030 due to its cheap renewable energy tariffs.
  • The Union Budget for 2021-22 has announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) that will draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source.

Potential and Benefits of Using Green Hydrogen for India:

  • Green hydrogen can drive India’s transition to clean energy, combat climate change.
  • India has favourable geographic location and abundance of sunlight and wind for the production of green hydrogen.
  • It will reduce import dependency on fossil fuels, with technological improvements, green hydrogen will become more affordable and accessible sooner than expected.
  • The localisation of electrolyser production and the development of green hydrogen projects can create a new green technologies market in India worth $18-20 billion and thousands of jobs.
  • Green hydrogen technologies are being promoted in sectors where direct electrification isn’t feasible like Heavy duty, Long-transport etc.
  • Union Government has circulated a draft cabinet note to establish a hydrogen ecosystem in the country.
  • The nascent stage of this industry allows for the creation of regional hubs that export high-value green products and engineering, procurement and construction services.
  • Green hydrogen can be used in a wide range of existing applications such as fertilisers, mobility, power, chemicals and shipping.
  • Green hydrogen can be blended up to 10 per cent by city gas distribution networks for wider acceptance.

Challenges:

  • One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry for using hydrogen commercially is the economic sustainability of extracting green hydrogen.
  • For transportation fuel cells, hydrogen must be cost-competitive with conventional fuels and technologies on a per-mile basis.
  • High Costs and Lack of Supporting Infrastructure:
    • Fuel cells which convert hydrogen fuel to usable energy for cars, are still expensive.
    • The hydrogen station infrastructure needed to refuel hydrogen fuel cell cars is still widely underdeveloped.
    • Green hydrogen currently costs $5-6 per kilogram (or Rs 371-446), which is nearly triple the cost of grey hydrogen, according to a recent study.

Way Forward: India’s green hydrogen penetration path:

  • The Government of India has to overcome several challenges to pave the way for this new form of energy, given the high costs and lack of supporting infrastructure at present.
  • Below are some key steps the country can follow to build a global-scale green hydrogen industry:
    • Set a national target for green hydrogen and electrolyser capacity: As with renewable energy, India should announce ambitious national targets for green hydrogen and electrolyser capacity by 2030.
    • A phased manufacturing programme should be used to build a vibrant hydrogen products export industry in India such as green steel.
    • Launch an incentive programme for the production of electrolysers: Capital costs are responsible for about 30 per cent of green hydrogen costs. Dollar-linked contracts for hydrogen procurement should be considered in sectors with relevant demand, as is done for oil and gas.
    • India should consider launching an incentive programme for the production of electrolysers to ease the huge global supply shortage.
    • Use technology that has the potential to create positive cycles and spillover effects. One example might be hydrogen infrastructure for refueling, heating and generating electricity at airports.

About Hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen is a non-toxic colourless gas, even when it’s referred to as green hydrogen.
  • It’s the most abundant element – it is estimated that 90% of all atoms are hydrogen atoms, comprising around three quarters of the total mass in the universe.

How is hydrogen generated?

  • There are no natural hydrogen deposits on earth, it has to be extracted from other compounds by a chemical process.
  • The vast majority of industrial hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas through a process known as steam methane reforming or SMR.
  • Producing hydrogen in this way is sometimes referred to as brown or grey or even blue hydrogen!

 

2.NIPUN BHARATH MISSION

#GS1 #Education #GS2 #Government Policies and Intervention

Context: Union Education Minister to launch NIPUN Bharat on July 5th,2021

About:

  • The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education to launch National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) on 5th July, 2021.
  • This marks an important step undertaken by the Department of School Education and Literacy, among a series of measures taken for implementation of the National Education Policy 2020.

Vision of NIPUN BHARATH:

  • Main aim is to create an enabling environment to ensure universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy, so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.
  • NIPUN Bharat will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy.
  • A five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at the National- State- District- Block- School level in all States and UTs, under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • No additional funding is being allocated to NIPUN Bharath. Instead, money is being allocated from the flagship Samagra Shiksha scheme.
  • Although the National Education Policy had included a 2025 deadline to achieve the goal, the Union Government has pushed back the target date to 2026­27, because of disruptions caused by COVID-19.
  • NIPUN Bharat is likely to emphasise goal setting and accountability for State governments, and provide guidelines for teacher training, assessment and the creation of printed resources, according to people who helped develop the mission.
  • Central Square Foundation, a non-governmental organisation with a focus on foundational literacy and numeracy, has provided inputs and technical support to the Centre in the development of this mission.
  • The estimated expenditure for achieving the goal would cost about ?500 per child per year, amounting to an annual cost of about ?2,200­2,300 crores nationwide.

About Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan:

  • Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan is an integrated scheme for school education extending support to States from pre-school to senior secondary level.
  • The scheme mainly aims to support States in the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
  • Scheme comes under the department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan was formed by subsuming the following three schemes to ensure an integrated and holistic school education:
    • Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan
    • Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan
    • Teacher Education
  • The major objectives of the Scheme are:
    • Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students;
    • Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education;
    • Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education;
    • Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions;
    • Promoting Vocationalisation of education;
    • Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009; and
    • Strengthening and up-gradation of SCERTs/State Institutes of Education and DIET as a nodal agency for teacher training.
  • The Scheme is being implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
    • The fund sharing pattern for the scheme between Centre and States is at present in the ratio of 90:10 for the North-Eastern States and the Himalayan States and 60:40 for all other States and Union Territories with Legislature.
    • It is 100% centrally sponsored for Union Territories without Legislature.
  • The scheme also proposes to give flexibility to the States and UTs to plan and prioritize their interventions within the scheme norms and the overall resource envelope available to them.

 

  1. Digital India Programme

#GS2 #Government Policies and Interventions #GS3 #technology Missions

Context: Recently, the Prime Minister of India addressed a virtual event to mark the completion of six years of Digital Indian programme.

Key Details of PM’s Address:

  • The data and demographic dividend combined with India’s proven tech prowess presents massive opportunity for the country, and this decade will be ‘India’s techade’.
  • The prime minister spoke of the critical role that technology had played during the pandemic to ensure continuity of education, access to healthcare, and other citizen services.
  • Digital solutions created by India during COVID-19 pandemic are being acknowledged globally, he said, adding that contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, has played a key role in containing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
  • Highlighted Various Schemes of Digital India programme:
    • Diksha (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) which serves as National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers.
    • eNAM: A pan-India electronic trade portal linking Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across the States.
    • eSanjeevani: It is a telemedicine service platform of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
    • DigiBunai: DigiBunai aids the weavers to create digital artwork and translate the saree design to be loaded to the looms.
    • PM SVANidhi scheme: For providing affordable loans to street vendors. It incentivises digital transactions by the street vendors.

About Digital India Programme:

  • Digital India is a Rs 1,13,000-crore flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • Since the mid-1990s, the e-governance initiatives in India took a broader dimension with an emphasis on citizen-centric services
  • Among the major focus of e-governance was railway computerisation, land record computerisation, etc, which then slowly percolated to the states to include other facets of governance within the digital purview.
  • It was launched in 2015.
  • The programme has been enabled for several important Government schemes, such as BharatNet, Make in India, Startup India and Standup India, industrial corridors, etc.

Digital India Mission is mainly focused on three areas:

  • Providing digital infrastructure as a source of utility to every citizen.
  • Governance and services on demand.
  • To look after the digital empowerment of every citizen.
  • Digital India was established with a vision of inclusive growth in areas of electronic services, products, manufacturing, and job opportunities.

Objectives of Digital India:

  • The motto of the Digital India Mission is ‘Power to Empower’. There are three core components to the Digital India initiative. They are digital infrastructure creation, digital delivery of services, and digital literacy.

The major objectives of this initiative are listed below:

  • To provide high-speed internet in all gram panchayats.
  • To provide easy access to Common Service Centre (CSC) in all the locality.
  • Digital India is an initiative that combines a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision so that each of them is seen as part of a larger goal.
  • The Digital India Programme also focuses on restructuring many existing schemes that can be implemented in a synchronized manner.

Significant Achievements of Digital India:

  • DigiLockers – This flagship initiative aims at ‘Digital Empowerment’ of the citizen by providing access to authentic digital documents to citizen’s digital document wallet
  • E-Hospitals – It is a Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) which is a one-stop solution in connecting patients, hospitals and doctors through a single digital platform. Till February 2021, as many as 420 e-Hospitals had been established under the Digital India campaign
  • E-Pathshala – Developed by NCERT, e-Pathshala showcases and disseminates all educational e-resources including textbooks, audio, video, periodicals and a variety of other print and non-print materials through the website and mobile app
  • The introduction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
  • Introduction of JAM Trinity – Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile to weed out leakages in the system

NINE PILLARS OF DIGITAL INDIA:

Challenges of Digital India:

  • The daily internet speed, as well as the Wi-Fi hotspots, are slow as compared to other developed nations.
  • Most of the small and medium scale industry has to struggle a lot for adapting to the new modern technology.
  • Limited capability of entry-level smartphones for smooth internet access.
  • Lack of skilled manpower in the field of digital technology.
  • To look for about one million cybersecurity experts to check and monitor the growing menace of digital crime.
  • Lack of user education.

 

 

  1. Discovery of a new source of gravitational waves: Collisions between Neutron Star and Black Hole

#GS3 # Awareness in the fields of Space, technology

Context: Recently, LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) has made the discovery of gravitational waves from a pair of neutron star-black hole (NS-BH) mergers.

About the Discovery:

  • The reverberations from these two objects were picked up using a global network of gravitational wave detectors, the most sensitive scientific instruments ever built.
  • Until now, the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration (LVC) was only able to observe collisions between pairs of black holes or neutron stars.
  • For the first time, in January 2020, the network of detectors made the discovery of gravitational waves from a pair of NS-BH mergers.
  • This ground breaking discovery of gravitational waves from a pair of NS-BH mergers was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters
  • The technique used here to detect the signal is called matched filtering.

NS-BH merger graphic (Source: LIGO India/Soheb Mandhai)

Importance of Discovery:

  • A neutron star has a surface and black hole does not. A neutron star is about 1.4-2 times the mass of the sun while the other black hole is much more massive. Widely unequal mergers have very interesting effects that can be detected.
  • Inferring from data as to how often they merge will also give us clues about their origin and how they were formed.
  • These observations help us understand the formation and relative abundance of such binaries.
  • Neutron stars are the densest objects in the Universe, so these findings can also help us understand the behaviour of matter at extreme densities.
  • Neutron stars are also the most precise ‘clocks’ in the Universe, if they emit extremely periodic pulses.
  • The discovery of pulsars going around Black Holes could help scientists probe effects under extreme gravity.

What are Gravitational waves?

  • Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe.
  • When an object accelerates, it creates ripples in space-time, just like a boat causes ripples in a pond.
  • These space-time ripples are gravitational waves. They are extremely weak so are very difficult to detect.
  • Two objects orbiting each other in a planar orbit such as a planet orbiting the Sun or a binary star system or the merging of two black holes will radiate Gravitational waves.
  • Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.
  • Einstein’s mathematics showed that massive accelerating objects (such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other) would disrupt space-time in such a way that ‘waves’ of distorted space would radiate from the source.
  • Furthermore, these ripples would travel at the speed of light through the Universe.
  • G- Waves can pass through any intervening matter without being scattered significantly.
  • While light from distant stars may be blocked out by interstellar dust, gravitational waves will pass through essentially unimpeded. This feature allows G-Waves to carry information about astronomical phenomena never before observed by humans.
  • Colliding black holes send ripples through spacetime that can be detected on Earth. The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Advanced LIGO, which has detectors in Louisiana and Washington, has directly observed these gravitational waves.

Detection Technique:

  • As the two compact and massive bodies orbit around each other, they come closer, and finally merge, due to the energy lost in the form of gravitational waves.
  • The Gravitational Waves signals are buried deep inside a lot of background noise. To search for the signals, scientists use a method called matched filtering.
  • In this method, various expected gravitational waveforms predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, are compared with the different chunks of data to produce a quantity that signifies how well the signal in the data (if any) matches with any one of the waveforms.
  • Whenever this match (in technical terms “signal-to-noise ratio” or SNR) is significant (larger than 8), an event is said to be detected.
  • Observing an event in multiple detectors separated by thousands of kilometers almost simultaneously gives scientists increased confidence that the signal is of astrophysical origin.

Is Gravity waves different from gravitational waves?

  • Yes, While both have gravity in common, gravity waves and gravitational waves are two very different.
    • Gravity Waves are physical perturbations driven by the restoring force of gravity in a planetary environment.
    • In other words, gravity waves are specific to planetary atmospheres and bodies of water.

What is a black hole?

  • A black hole is an object in space that is so dense and has such strong gravity that no matter or light can escape its pull. Because no light can escape, it is black and invisible.
  • There’s a boundary at the edge of a black hole called the event horizon, which is the point of no return — any light or matter that crosses that boundary is sucked into the black hole. It would need to travel faster than the speed of light to escape, which is impossible.
  • Anything that crosses the event horizon is destined to fall to the very centre of the black hole and be squished into a single point with infinite density, called the singularity.
  • Gravitational waves are created when two black holes orbit each other and merge.

Neutron Stars:

  • Neutron stars comprise one of the possible evolutionary end-points of high mass stars.
  • Once the core of the star has completely burned to iron, energy production stops and the core rapidly collapses, squeezing electrons and protons together to form neutrons and neutrinos.
  • A star supported by neutron degeneracy pressure is known as a ‘neutron star’, which may be seen as a pulsar if its magnetic field is favourably aligned with its spin axis.

 

  1. Union Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises launches 6 tech innovation platforms

#GS3 #Infrastructure #Manufacturing Sector

Context: The government on Friday launched six technology innovation platforms that will focus on the development of technologies for globally competitive manufacturing in India.

Significance of these Innovation Platforms:

  • This comes in backdrop of production linked incentive schemes launched last year that seek to create global manufacturing majors in India.
  • These platforms will help in bringing all India’s technical resources and the concerned industry on to one platform to kick start and facilitate identification of technology problems faced by domestic Industry and crowdsource solutions for the same.
  • This will facilitate the development of the key ‘mother manufacturing technologies’ indigenously through grand challenges on the platforms.
  • These platforms will facilitate industry, including OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), Tier 1, 2, and 3 companies and raw material makers, start-ups, domain experts/professionals, R&D institutions, and academia to provide technology solutions, suggestions, and opinions on issues involving manufacturing technologies, the minister said.
  • Further, it will facilitate the exchange of knowledge with respect to research and development and other technological aspects.
  • Over 39,000 students, experts, institutes, industries, and labs have already registered on these platforms.
  • The platforms have been developed by IIT Madras, Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), International Centre for Automotive Technology(iCAT), Automotive Research Association of India(ARAI), BHEL and HMT in association with IIScBanglore.

These Platforms are based on Four pillars:

  • Industry seeking technology development
  • PSUs and Universities which develop these technologies
  • Academia and students who host the development process and
  • R&D Centres

What are Tier 1 Companies?

  • Tier 1 companies are largest, wealthiest, and most experienced in industry. This tier is very exclusive. Tier one contracts are in hundreds of millions and even billions price range.

What are Tier 2 companies?

  • Tier 2 companies are also called as Mid-tier companies. They are the players in construction industry. They are in between tier 1 and 3. Tier 2 companies take projects on commercial basis rather than residential.

What are Tier 3 Companies?

  • Tier 3 companies take on projects around million-dollar range. They take projects like residential jobs including rebuilding & refurbishing; Small-scale commercial work like building or refurbishing petrol stations, supermarkets, offices etc.

 

  1. Oxygen Concentrator named OxyJani:

#GS1 #Health related issues #GS3 #Scientific advancements

Context: Indian researchers have designed a robust, mobile group oxygen concentrator that has been named ‘OxyJani’.

Background:

  • The second wave of COVID-19 led to an acute shortage of medical oxygen.
  • The crisis exposed the chronic lack of medical oxygen infrastructure in the country, especially in the smaller cities and villages.
  • The crisis required 500 LPM Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants for large hospitals.
  • While the 500 LPM (litres per minute) plants for hospitals were robust, they lacked the portability required for deployment on resource-poor settings, while personal concentrators were too fragile to be used on a sustained basis in a hospital setting.
  • This created a need for a robust technology with necessary portability.

About OxyJani and its Significance:

  • Researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.
  • OxyJani is based on the principles of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology.
  • The team replaced lithium zeolites (LiX) which is usually used in oxygen concentrators, with sodium zeolites which does not generate toxic solid waste and can be manufactured in India.
  • Although the science behind using sodium here is well understood, the development of this device posed huge engineering challenges.
  • OxyJani concentrator is modular and capable of delivering a range of solutions, conversion of medical air to medical oxygen, and is an entirely off-grid solution including all modules that can facilitate deployment in rural areas.
  • This new class of technology called “group concentrators” has the robustness of large PSA plants, portability similar to the personal concentrators, and is affordable too.
  • Moreover, the waste from the 13X zeolite plant can be potentially a good agricultural input material.
  • The device is in the range of 30-40 litres per minute (l/min)., which is potentially useful for ICU uses too.
  • It is one of the last remnants of the tropical dry evergreen forests of the Coromandel Coast.
  • About 22 acres of the Guindy National Park has been carved out into a park known as the Children’s Park for ex-situ conservation.
  • Guindy Snake Park is next to Guindy National Park. It gained statutory recognition as a medium zoo from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in 1995.
  • In 1978 the small area, popularly known as Guindy Deer Park, was declared as a national park.
  • It contains more than 30 species of trees and a number of century old gigantic Banyan Trees.
  • It has a significant population of black bucks, spotted deers, jackals, varieties of snakes, over 100 species of birds and over 60 species of butterflies.

 

 

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