[op-ed snap] Taking a ‘Far East’ turn to deepen a friendship

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mapping: Far East region

Mains level : Rebuilding India-Russia relations


News

  • Some 48 years ago, when the U.S. and British Navies tried to threaten Indian security during the India-Pakistan war in 1971, the Soviet Union dispatched nuclear-armed flotilla from its Pacific Fleet in support of India.
  • Ever since then, the city of Vladivostok, located in Russia’s Far East, has had a special place in the hearts of Indians.

The less developed Far East

  • The Far East lies in the Asian part of Russia and is less developed than the country’s European areas.
  • India’s plans to invest in Russia’s Far East, thus, paying back the long-held Indian debt to Vladivostok.
  • As part of his ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, President Putin is inviting foreign countries to invest in this region.

Friends distanced with time

  • The country’s outreach to Asian nations has especially gained momentum after the 2014 Crimea crisis spoiled its relations with the West.
  • At the same time, the idea of an ‘Indo-Pacific region’, which signals India’s willingness to work with the U.S. mainly to counter China’s assertive maritime rise, has also left Russia concerned.
  • Moscow is apprehensive that the U.S. would exert pressure on India’s foreign policy choices and that it could lose a friendly country and one of the biggest buyers of Russian military hardware.

Convincing Russia for a multipolar Indo-Pacific

  • New Delhi, on its part, has maintained that Indo-Pacific is not targeted against any country and stands for inclusiveness and stability.
  • PM Modi made this clear to Mr. Putin during their Sochi informal summit in 2018.
  • Later, at the Shangri-La dialogue, he again emphasised that for India, Indo-Pacific is not a club of limited members and that New Delhi wants to have inclusive engagement with all the relevant stakeholders.
  • This constant engagement has borne fruit and the two countries are now working for a multipolar Indo-Pacific.

Russian stance

  • On its part, Russia also wants to make sure that China does not become a hegemon in the Eurasian region and is hence deepening cooperation with countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • India has also been able to convince Russia that its engagement with the U.S. is not going to come against Russian interests.

How Far East is game-changer?

  • The Far East has the potential to become an anchor in deepening India-Russia cooperation; more so considering that New Delhi has expanded the scope of its ‘Act East policy’ to also include Moscow.
  • The area has the potential to strengthen India-Russia economic partnership in areas like energy, tourism, agriculture, diamond mining and alternative energy.

India’s move forward

  • Modi’s visit to Vladivostok (coming Sept) would not be an event in isolation as both nations have been drawing up the plan to cooperate in the region in the last few years.
  • A bilateral business dialogue was included in the business programme of EEF in 2017 and, in 2018, India was one of the 18 countries for which Russia simplified electronic visas to encourage tourism in the Far East.
  • New Delhi will also provide an annual grant of $10,000 to fund the study of Indology at the Centre of Regional and International Studies at Far Eastern Federal University.
  • Also, a MoU has been signed between Amity University and Far Eastern Federal University to intensify cultural and academic exchanges in the areas of research and education.

The indispensable opportunity

  • A lack of manpower is one of the main problems faced by the Far East and Indian professionals like doctors, engineers and teachers can help in the region’s development.
  • Presence of Indian manpower will also help in balancing Russian concerns over Chinese migration into the region.
  • Further, India, one of the largest importers of timber, can find ample resources in the region.
  • Japan and South Korea have also been investing and New Delhi may explore areas of joint collaboration.

State-to-province ties

  • India has also given due importance to ‘paradiplomacy’ where Indian States are being encouraged to develop relations with foreign countries.
  • States like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana and Goa would be collaborating with Russian Provinces to increase trade and investments.
  • For India, there is immense potential for mid-sized and small businesses who should be assisted to overcome language and cultural barriers so that they successfully adopt local business practices.
  • A meeting between the heads of the regions of Russia and various Chief Ministers from Indian States may soon take place and this should become a regular feature.

Getting started

  • The two countries are also looking at the feasibility of Chennai-Vladivostok sea route that would allow India access to Russia’s Far East in 24 days, compared to the 40 days taken by the current route via Suez.
  • This route would potentially add the required balance to peace and prosperity in South China Sea and could open new vistas for India, like the India-Russia-Vietnam trilateral cooperation.

Way forward

  • Great power rivalry is back in international politics, making it more unpredictable.
  • It is time when U.S. is interested in ‘deglobalisation’ and China is promoting ‘globalization 2.0 with Chinese characteristics’.
  • It makes sense for India and Russia to increase their areas of cooperation and trade in order to hedge against disruptive forces and make their ties sustainable.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

[op-ed snap] Data deprivation makes cybercrime difficult to tackle

Mains Paper 3 : Cyber Security |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Curbing cyber crimes with data localization


Context

Cyber hygiene: Need of hour

  • In recent times, there have been many instances of the hard-earned money of Indians being taken out of bank accounts and charges loaded onto credit cards through online frauds.
  • As a nation making a huge transition to a cashless economy, public faith in the digital system needs to be consistently reinforced.
  • All the players involved, including banks, telecom companies, financial service providers etc. and the government, need to play a responsible role in ensuring innocent citizens do not undergo the trauma of suffering losses.
  • The customer also has a responsibility to maintain basic cyber hygiene, which includes following practices and taking precautions to keep one’s sensitive information organized, safe and secure.

The new startups

  • Another emerging casualty of such cybercrimes is the emerging “startup” ecosystem.
  • We are beginning to see multiple cases where customers of genuine startups, unicorns and Indian businesses have been subjected to online fraud.
  • These customers initially presume that it is the customer care departments of the companies that have conned them, as we see in many of the cases that get filed.
  • This is a dangerous trend. Not only does it shake people’s faith in digital systems, the scepticism vis-a-vis online transactions also hurts the potential of emerging companies.

Modus operandi of cyber crimes

  • Let us look at the modus operandi of some of the recent internet-based financial frauds affecting companies in the digital and e-commerce space.
  • Fraudsters usually start by creating various websites or accounts on social-media platforms that host some content to make them look deceptively similar to the authentic companies’ websites or social media interfaces.
  • Such websites and social media accounts list fake customer care numbers for the relevant brands.
  • When a customer tries to search for a company name by using a search engine, the customer care numbers or email IDs that pop up as results are often these fraudulent ones.

Most cases go unreported

  • Also, some victims of fraud are too ashamed to admit that they have been conned, and often do not even tell their families.
  • Yet, if the losses are large, the results can be devastating for fraud victims.
  • While many cases aren’t even reported, in cases that are, the investigations make little or no progress due to lack of access to data.

What can be done?

Enforcement agencies needs to gear up

  • Even the income tax department has not been spared, with people getting messages from a fraudulent source that masks itself as an income tax authority and sends a message asking them to claim tax refunds by sharing a link.
  • It is difficult to estimate the scale of the problem, as law enforcement agencies in different states are not fully equipped to understand and act upon complaints of such frauds.

Data localization

  • Since most search engines and social media platforms have no “permanent establishment” in India, law enforcement agencies have hit a wall on data access for the purpose of solving cybercrimes.
  • This has often raised calls for complete data localization, which could have been avoided had a collaborative mechanism for data access, based on agreed criteria, been put in place.
  • The Srikrishna Commission recommended that data be stored in the country either directly or through mirror servers to serve law enforcement needs.
  • The US Electronic Communications Privacy Act bars US-based service providers from disclosing electronic communications to law enforcement agencies of any country unless US legal requirements are met.
  • The bilateral mechanism of the India-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is a bit outdated and does not seem to work.

Way forward

  • While privacy and data protection are necessary, and data localization may pose its own business challenges, India needs to work out a way to crack cyber frauds and crimes.
  • For this, the country urgently needs a legally-backed framework for a collaborative trigger mechanism that would bind all parties and enable law enforcers to act quickly and safeguard Indian citizens and businesses from a fast-growing menace.
Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

[op-ed snap] Content management: On Aadhaar-social media linkage

Mains Paper 3 : Social Media Networks & Internal Security |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Overreaching effects of Aadhaar


Context

No merit in idea

  • The submissions in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government in support of linking social media profiles of registered users with their Aadhaar numbers are not well-founded in the law as it now stands.
  • It is noteworthy that a Bench of the Madras High Court, which is hearing two writ petitions on this matter, did not see merit in the idea.

Aadhaar for social media

  • The court pointed out that Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporate and individuals to use the number to establish someone’s identity.
  • The petitioners had approached the Court with such a prayer on the ground that many people got away with inflammatory posts on social media because of the lack of traceability.
  • The Bench has since then expanded the writ petitions’ scope to examine the adequacy of the legal framework on cybercrimes and the responsibilities of intermediaries who provide telecommunication and online services.

Tracing offensive messages

  • The State government is batting for better assistance from intermediaries and social media companies to trace offending messages.
  • While the Supreme Court will decide the question of transferring these cases to itself, the Madras High Court will continue its hearing.

The policy confusion

  • The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology notified new draft rules for intermediaries last year and called for public comments.
  • One of the changes proposed is that intermediaries should help identify originators of offensive content.
  • This has created some understandable misgivings at a time when there is widespread suspicion about online surveillance.
  • Technology companies that use end-to-end encryption have pleaded inability to open a back door for identifying originators.
  • The issue concerns the global policy of these companies as well as the wider public interest of millions of registered users.

Conclusion

  • After the K.S. Puttaswamy decision (2017) in the ‘privacy’ case, any state intervention in the regulation of online content has to pass the test of proportionality laid down by the court.
  • It will be desirable if courts do not impart needless urgency to the process of introducing a balanced regulatory regime to curb content that promotes undesirable activities such as child pornography, sectarian conflict and mob violence, without affecting individual privacy.
  • The balance must be right between protecting privacy and allowing the state leeway to curb crime.
Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Explained: What ails the existing microcredit model

Mains Paper 3 : Mobilization Of Resources |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microcredit

Mains level : Microfinance in India


News

  • Microcredit has gained much traction as a tool for ensuring the welfare of the most impoverished in society, and boosting development alongside.

What is Microcredit?

  • Microcredit refers to the granting of very small loans to impoverished borrowers, with the aim of enabling the borrowers to use that capital to become self-employed and strengthen their businesses.
  • Loans given as microcredit are often given to people who may lack collateral, credit history, or a steady source of income.
  • Microcredit agreements frequently do not require any sort of collateral, and sometimes may not even involve a written agreement, as many recipients of microcredit are often illiterate.
  • When borrowers demonstrate success in paying their loans on time, they become eligible for loans of even larger amounts, allowing them to finance expansion.

The idea behind

  • The core idea of microcredit is that a small loan will provide access to the larger economy to people who typically live outside the scope of the institutions on which the mainstream economy rests.
  • Such a loan is meant to enable them to commence with productive activities, and will give them the initial boost required to gain entry into an industry, after which production will be able to sustain itself, and the loan will gradually be repaid.

Part of Microfinance

  • Microcredit falls under the larger umbrella of microfinance, financial services for individuals who don’t have access to traditional services of this kind.
  • Microfinance activities usually target low-income individuals, with the goal of helping them to become self-sufficient. In this way, microfinance activities have an aim of poverty alleviation as well.
  • An example of a microcredit institution is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, founded in 1976 by Mohammed Yunus.
  • The Grameen Bank offers small loans to the impoverished without asking for collateral, and was the pioneering institution in the realm of microfinance.
  • The bank has 8.4 million followers, 97% of whom are women, and the bank has repayment success rates between 95 to 98 percent.

Microcredit institutions are failing in India

  • The article in Ideas for India cites a 2015 study that found “a lack of evidence of transformative effects of microfinance on the average borrower”.
  • Another study found that having access to microcredit made very little difference to changing the lifestyles of borrowers, based on six indicators: household business profits, business expenditures, business revenues, consumption, consumer durables spending, and spending on temptation goods.
  • These indicators only saw a 5% impact when microcredit was available.

Why?

  • The primary reason for the lackadaisical effects of microcredit is the stringent repayment schedule offered by most microcredit institutions.
  • Since most borrowers to whom microcredit is given have little to no credit history as a result of their exclusion from traditional systems of credit.
  • Hence institutions offering microcredit are unable to judge the risk associated with lending to certain borrowers, and cannot be sure what the risk of them defaulting will be.
  • To lower the risk of defaulting, microcredit lenders therefore resort to repayment schedules that demand an initial repayment that is almost immediate, to which borrowers must adhere.
  • The effect of this is that borrowers are unable to use the loans on investments that will take some time to be fully realized.
  • The borrowers instead are forced to use the loans they receive on short term investments that only boost production to an extent, and the overall growth of their incomes remains meager.

What are the other applications of microcredit?

  • Conventionally, microcredit has been used mainly for entrepreneurs to begin production and attain self-sufficiency.
  • Small microcredit loans can allow rural labourers –those who are employees, as opposed to entrepreneurs, who are employers– to migrate to urban areas to find work during the lean season, when there is no work to be found on farms.
  • Those who migrated temporarily during this season experienced increased spending in both food and non-food areas, and increased their calories consumed.
  • Microcredit can be used in situations where seasonal factors cause drops in income to overcome these “seasonal credit crunches” and avoid taking decisions which cause people long-term negative impacts.
  • They can also be used to dampen the effects of shocks like floods by providing people with a form of insurance that both increases production before the shock and provides a safety net after.

Conclusion

  • Microcredit has a vast range of applications for poverty alleviation and general development, but existing systems require reform in multiple areas to allow for unfettered benefits that last.
  • Furthermore, in areas were the application of microcredit is relatively new, microcredit systems must be carefully evaluated before they are put into place, so as to enable the greatest benefit from such institutions.
Microfinance Story of India

[pib] Sabka Vishwas – Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • In the Union Budget 2019-20, the Finance Minister announced the Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2019.
  • The Scheme has now been notified and will be operationalized from 1st September 2019 and would continue till 31st December 2019.

Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme

  • This Scheme is introduced to resolve and settle legacy cases of the Central Excise and Service Tax.
  • The proposed Scheme would cover all the past disputes of taxes which may have got subsumed in GST; namely Central Excise, Service Tax and Cesses.
  • Government expects the Scheme to be availed by large number of taxpayers for closing their pending disputes relating to legacy Service Tax and Central Excise cases that are now subsumed under GST so they can focus on GST.
  • The Scheme is especially tailored to free the large number of small taxpayers of their pending disputes with the tax administration.

Details

  • For all the cases pending in adjudication or appeal – in any forum – this Scheme offers a relief of 70% from the duty demand if it is Rs.50 lakhs or less and 50% if it is more than Rs. 50 lakhs.
  • The same relief is available for cases under investigation and audit where the duty involved is quantified and communicated to the party or admitted by him in a statement on or before 30th June, 2019.
  • Further, in cases of confirmed duty demand, where there is no appeal pending, the relief offered is 60% of the confirmed duty amount if the same is Rs. 50 lakhs or less and it is 40%, if the confirmed duty amount is more than Rs. 50 lakhs.
  • Finally, in cases of voluntary disclosure, the person availing the Scheme will have to pay only the full amount of disclosed duty.

Components of the Scheme

  • The two main components of the Scheme are dispute resolution and amnesty.
  • The dispute resolution component is aimed at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Tax that are subsumed in GST and are pending in litigation at various forums.
  • The amnesty component of the Scheme offers an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of any other consequence under the law.
  • The most attractive aspect of the Scheme is that it provides substantial relief in the tax dues for all categories of cases as well as full waiver of interest, fine, penalty,
  • In all these cases, there would be no other liability of interest, fine or penalty. There is also a complete amnesty from prosecution.
Tax Reforms

[pib] Ocean Energy to be considered as Renewable Energy

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ocean Energy, RPO

Mains level : India's RE committment



News

  • In a decision that would give boost to the ocean energy in India, Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy has approved a proposal to declare ocean energy as Renewable Energy.
  • Hereafter Ocean Energy will be considered as Renewable Energy and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).

Renewable Purchase Obligations

  • To provide a fillip to the ambitious renewable energy targets, obligations have been imposed on certain entitles to purchase energy from renewable sources by various state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs).
  • Renewable Purchase Obligation refers to the obligation imposed by law on some entities to either buy electricity generated by specified ‘green’ sources, or buy, in lieu of that, ‘renewable energy certificates (RECs)’ from the market.
  • The ‘obligated entities’ are mostly electricity distribution companies and large consumers of power.
  • RECs are issued to companies that produce green power, who opt not to sell it at a preferable tariff to distribution companies.
  • This is based on each state’s varying renewable energy potentials.
  • Regrettably, most states have shown poor proclivity in enforcing their RPO targets. The success of the RPO regime depends on strict adherence, which, in turn, depends on enforcement.

Back2Basics

Ocean Energy

Introduction to Ocean Energy 

  • Oceans cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface and represent an enormous amount of energy in the form of wave, tidal, marine current and thermal gradient.
  • A variety of different technologies are currently under development throughout the world to harness this energy in all its forms.
  • India has a long coastline with the estuaries and gulfs. MNRE looks over the horizon at development of new technology and considers the various options available to support its deployment.
  • Most types of technologies are currently at pre-R&D / demonstration stage or the initial stage of commercialization.
  • Basic R&D is being looked after by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (example: National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai).

Potential

  • Total identified potential of Tidal Energy is about 12455 MW, with potential locations identified at Khambat & Kutch regions, and large backwaters, where barrage technology could be used.
  • The total theoretical potential of wave energy in India along the country’s coast is estimated to be about 40,000 MW – these are preliminary estimates.
  • This energy is however less intensive than what is available in more northern and southern latitudes.
  • OTEC has a theoretical potential of 180,000 MW in India subject to suitable technological evolution.

Technology 

Although currently under-utilized, Ocean energy is mostly exploited by just a few technologies: Wave, Tidal, Current Energy and Ocean Thermal Energy.

  1. Tidal Energy 
  • The tidal cycle occurs every 12 hours due to the gravitational force of the moon.
  • The difference in water height from low tide and high tide is potential energy.
  • Similar to traditional hydropower generated from dams, tidal water can be captured in a barrage across an estuary during high tide and forced through a hydro-turbine during low tide.
  • The capital cost for tidal energy power plants is very high due to high civil construction and high power purchase tariff.
  • To capture sufficient power from the tidal energy potential, the height of high tide must be at least five meters (16 feet) greater than low tide.
  • The Gulf of Cambay and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat on the west coast have the locations in the country where potential exists.
  1. Wave Energy 
  • Wave energy is generated by the movement of a device either floating on the surface of the ocean or moored to the ocean floor.
  • Many different techniques for converting wave energy to electric power have been studied.
  • Wave conversion devices that float on the surface have joints hinged together that bend with the waves.
  • This kinetic energy pumps fluid through turbines and creates electric power.
  • Stationary wave energy conversion devices use pressure fluctuations produced in long tubes from the waves swelling up and down.
  • This bobbing motion drives a turbine when critical pressure is reached. Other stationary platforms capture water from waves on their platforms.
  • This water is allowed to runoff through narrow pipes that flow through a typical hydraulic turbine.

iii. Current Energy 

  • Marine current is ocean water moving in one direction. This ocean current is known as the Gulf Stream.
  • Tides also create currents that flow in two directions.
  • Kinetic energy can be captured from the Gulf Stream and other tidal currents with submerged turbines that are very similar in appearance to miniature wind turbines.
  • Similar to wind turbines, the movement of the marine current moves the rotor blades to generate electric power.
  1. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) 
  • Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy.
  • A temperature difference of only 20°C can yield usable energy.
  • Research focuses on two types of OTEC technologies to extract thermal energy and convert it to electric power: closed cycle and open cycle.
  • In the closed cycle system, a working fluid, such as ammonia, is pumped through a heat exchanger and vaporized. This vaporized steam runs a turbine. The cold water found at the depths of the ocean condenses the vapor back to a fluid where it returns to the heat exchanger.
  • In the open cycle system, the warm surface water is pressurized in a vacuum chamber and converted to steam to run the turbine. The steam is then condensed using cold ocean water from lower depths.
Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Henley Passport Index 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Effect Of Policies & Politics Of World On India'S Interests |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Mobility of Indian Passport holders worldwide



News

  • The latest Henley Passport Index ranks India at 86, down five places from 81 in 2018. The index ranks passports based on their power and mobility.
  • Last year, an Indian passport holder had visa-free access to 60 countries; this year, it has access to 58.

Henley Passport Index 2019

  • Prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, the Henley Passport Index claims to be the “original ranking of all the world’s passports”.
  • The index gathers data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that manages inter-airline cooperation globally.
  • The Index is updated in real time according to countries’ visa policy changes. It covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.
  • The index receives data from the IATA on a fixed day every year that forms the basis of the index.
  • This data is supplemented by accounting for real-time changes in visa policies using publicly available sources to prepare a visa list, which is a list of destinations that a passport can access visa-free, through a visa on arrival, e-visa or with a traditional visa.

How are passport ranks and scores interpreted?

  • Each passport is attributed with a score and a rank.
  • For instance for 2019, India’s score is 58 and it ranks 86 in the list. Japan and Singapore, on the other hand, are ranked 1 and have a score of 189.
  • The score is the sum of the number of countries accessible by that passport holder without requiring pre-departure government approval for visa-types including a visitor’s permit, visa on arrival or an electronic travel authority (ETA).
  • For every territory/country that a passport holder of a particular country/territory is able to access through these visa-types (without pre-departure government approval), a value of 1 is attributed to it.
  • A value of 0 is attributed to a score when a passport holder has to seek pre-departure government approval for visa-types including e-visa (visas applied for online and received) and visa on arrival.
  • Therefore, the total score becomes the sum total for all the values of 1.
  • For instance, a passport holder from Singapore and Japan can travel to 189 countries/territories without requiring pre-departure government approval.

What does this mean for Indian passport holders?

  • India has a score of 58. That is the number of destinations an Indian passport holder can travel to today, without pre-departure government approval.
  • That is the same as a citizen of any country, on an average, could travel to 13 years ago.
  • In 2006, a citizen, on an average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.
  • Afghanistan holds the weakest passport, with a score and ranking of 25 and 109, respectively. Syria and Pakistan follow with rankings of 107 and 106 and scores of 29 and 30, respectively.
  • Passport rankings point towards the strength of diplomatic relations between countries.
  • In the past decade travel freedom has expanded vastly as a result of the rising number of bilateral visa-waiver programmes signed between different countries and unilateral decisions implemented by governments of some countries.

What assumptions does the index make?

  • The index assumes that the passport is valid, belongs to an adult who is a citizen of the issuing country and that it is not diplomatic, emergency or temporary in nature.
  • It also assumes that the person travelling is doing so alone, rather than in tourist groups and meets all the basic requirements for entry such as hotel reservations.
  • Furthermore, the traveller is assumed to be arriving and departing from the same airport and is seeking a short stay (between three days-several months) for business and tourist purposes only.
Tourism Sector

Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research (FEDOR)

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FEDOR

Mains level : Unmanned spaces missions and their significance



News

  • Russia has launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station.

Fedor

  • FEDOR is a Russian humanoid that replicates movements of a remote operator as well as performs a limited set of actions autonomously.
  • Named Fedor, short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia to the International Space Station.
  • Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor, also known as Skybot F850, was strapped into a specially adapted pilot’s seat, with a small Russian flag in hand.
  • “Let’s go. Let’s go,” the robot was heard saying during launch, repeating the famous phrase used by first man in space Yuri Gagarin.
  • The silvery anthropomorphic robot stands 1.80 metres (5 foot 11 inches) tall and weighs 160kg (353 pounds).
  • Fedor has Instagram and Twitter accounts with posts saying it is learning new skills such as opening a bottle of water. In the ISS, it will trial those manual skills in very low gravity.

What’s so special with Fedor?

  • Fedor copies human movements, a key skill that allows it to remotely help astronauts or even people on Earth to carry out tasks while the humans are strapped into an exoskeleton.
  • Fedor is described as potentially useful on Earth for working in high radiation environments, demining and tricky rescue missions.
  • Though initially developed for the emergencies ministry, Fedor can also be seen shooting at targets from two handguns in a video posted by Russian space agency.
  • On board, the robot will perform tasks supervised by russian cosmonaut and will wear an exoskeleton and augmented reality glasses in a series of experiments later this month.
  • Since Fedor is not trained to grab space station handles to move about in microgravity conditions, its legs will be immobilised on the space station.

Fedor not the first

  • Fedor is not the first robot to go into space.
  • In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot developed with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.
  • It was flown back to Earth in 2018 after experiencing technical problems.
  • In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS’s first Japanese space commander. Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations — albeit only in Japanese.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Adratiklit boulahfa

Mains Paper 1 : Salient Features Of World'S Physical Geography |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adratiklit boulahfa

Mains level : Not Much



News

Adratiklit boulahfa

  • Scientists have described a new species of stegosaurus and dated it to 168 million years ago, which makes it the oldest known member of that group of dinosaurs ever known.
  • Named Adratiklit boulahfa, it is also the first stegosaurus to be found in North Africa.
  • Its remains were discovered in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
  • The scientists believe it is not only a new species but also belongs to a new genus.
  • The name is derived from the words used by the Berber (an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa) for mountains (Adras), lizard (tiklit) and and the area where the specimen was found. (Boulahfa).

What makes it special?

  • The Adratiklit was armoured and herbivorous, and lived on the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which later split into Africa, South America, Australia and Antarctica.
  • Most stegosaurus remains so far have been found in the northern hemisphere.
  • However, this may not mean that stegosaurs were uncommon in Gondwana.
  • It may be due to the fact that Gondwana rock formations have been subject to far fewer excavations and detailed studies.
Global Geological And Climatic Events