Current Affairs 28th March, 2019

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1. Successful anti-satellite missile test puts India in elite club

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In an incremental advance, India successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test, named Mission Shakti, becoming the fourth country in the world to demonstrate the capability to shoot down satellites in orbit. So far, only the United States, Russia and China have this prowess.

Mission Shakti

  • On March 27, 2019 India conducted Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test, from the Dr.A P J Abdul Kalam Island launch complex.

  • This was a technological mission carried out by DRDO. The satellite used in the mission was one of India’s existing satellites operating in lower orbit.

  • The test was fully successful and achieved all parameters as per plans. The test required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability.

  • The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/incoming/yozkyj/article26656419.ece/alternates/LANDSCAPE_435/mission-shaktijpg

What are anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons?

  • They are missile-based systems to attack moving satellites. So far the United States, China and Russia were the only ones who’ve reported the ability to shoot down space objects from ground or airborne sources.

  • Anti-satellite weapons came back into popular currency after China conducted an anti-satellite missile test on January 11, 2007.

  • A year later, the United States launched ‘Operation Burnt Frost,’ the code name to intercept and destroy a non-functioning U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite named USA-193.

What are India’s capabilities so far?

  • India’s ASAT development has a long history with Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation stating in 2012 that India had “all the building blocks necessary” to integrate an anti-satellite weapon to neutralise hostile satellites in low earth and polar orbits.

  • However there was never any formal announcement of such a mission.






2. Cabinet approves five year’s extension of Biomedical Research Career Programme

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The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of the Biomedical Research Career Programme (BRCP) to a new five year phase (2019-20 to 2023-24).

Achievements

  • Over its 10 years of funding in a 1:1partnership, the Programme has fulfilled its objectives of building and nurturing talent of highest global standards in cutting-edge biomedical research in India, which has led to important scientific breakthroughs and applications to meet societal needs.

  • BRCP has made it attractive for high quality Indian scientists working abroad to return to India, and has increased the number of locations geographically within India where world-class biomedical research is undertaken.

  • In the extending phase, the Programme would continue to build this capacity as also strengthen clinical research and work towards addressing important health challenges for India.  

  • Continuation of the Programme with increased stake from the Government of India is important to bring about these returns.




3. Electoral bonds will affect transparency, EC tells SC

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the Supreme Court that electoral bonds, contrary to government claims, wreck transparency in political funding.

Electoral Bonds

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Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary.

Key features

  • Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest.

  • The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs.1,000, Rs.10,000, Rs.1 lakh, Rs.10 lakh or Rs.1crore.

Eligibility

  • As per provisions of the Scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a citizen of India, or entities incorporated or established in India.

  • A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

  • Only the registered Political Parties which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.

Need

Image result for electoral bonds to tackle black money

  • The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.


4. In 2018, Official Secrets Act invoked in 5 cases

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued five prosecution sanction orders last year under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923.


Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923

  • The law meant for ensuring secrecy and confidentiality in governance, mostly on national security and espionage issues.

  • The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904 was enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.

  • One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.

  • The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.

Ambit of the Act

  • The secrecy law broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, which is dealt with in Section 3 of the Act, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, which is dealt with in Section 5.

  • The secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information.


5. India's monsoon should be robust provided no El Nino surprise: IMD

The monsoon, crucial for Asia's third largest economy, is likely to be a robust and healthy one this year provided there isn't a surprise El Nino phenomenon, said IMD.

El Nino

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  • El Nino is the name given to the occasional development of warm ocean surface waters along the coast of Ecuador and Peru.

  • When this warming occurs the usual upwelling of cold, nutrient rich deep ocean water is significantly reduced.

  • El Nino normally occurs around Christmas and usually lasts for a few weeks to a few months.

Effects of El Nino

  • The warmer waters had a devastating effect on marine life existing off the coast of Peru and Ecuador.

  • Fish catches off the coast of South America were lower than in the normal year (Because there is no upwelling).

  • Severe droughts occur in Australia, Indonesia, India and southern Africa.

  • Heavy rains in California, Ecuador, and the Gulf of Mexico.