Current Affairs 3rd April, 2019

PRELIMS SCORE BOOSTER

1. Starting May, ISRO to launch a string of ‘defence’ satellites

Between May 2019 and early 2020, the space above India looks set to see an unprecedented rush of satellites meant solely or mainly for the country’s military.

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In details

  • Starting May, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to send up at least eight earth observation (EO) satellites of varied hues and at the rate of almost one a month.

  • Communication satellite GSAT-32 is also in the offing next year to replace GSAT-6A, which was lost in a failed launch and was meant to mainly serve the ground forces.

  • Until now, such defence-use satellites were spaced out over a few years; or were put up only once a year as in the case of the Cartosat-2 series high-resolution imaging satellites.


2. Manufacturing PMI at 6-month low

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Manufacturing activity slowed to a six-month low of 52.6 in March due to lower levels of new orders and production, according to a private sector survey.

In details

  • The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at a lower reading in March from 54.3 in February.

  • A reading over 50 implies expansion while one below that denotes a contraction in activity.

  • The report said that the increase in new orders was the slowest in six months, with firms reporting that the effect of strong underlying demand, successful advertising, and the receipt of bulk orders was being curbed by competitive conditions and the upcoming elections.

Purchasing Managers’ Index

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  • The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing and services sector.

  • The PMI is based on five major indicators:

  • New orders,

  • Inventory levels,

  • Production,

  • Supplier deliveries and

  • Employment environment.

  • The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current business conditions to company decision makers, analysts and purchasing managers.

  • It is a survey-based measure that asks respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from last month.

  • It is calculated separately for manufacturing and services sectors and then composite index is constructed.





3. Kandhamal Haldi

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Odisha’s Kandhamal Haldi (turmeric), famous for its healing properties, has received GI tag.

In details

  • The golden yellow spice, named after the district where it is produced, has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value.

  • Turmeric is the main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal.

  • Apart from domestic use, turmeric is also used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

  • More than 60,000 families (nearly 50% of Kandhamal population) are engaged in growing the variety.

  • The crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions.







Turmeric cultivation in India

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  • Major states: Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa

  • Soil: Black, black clayey looms and red soils having natural drainage

  • Other specifications: Turmeric requires hot, moist climate


4. Indian space debris may have doubled after Mission Shakti

The amount of Indian space debris may have almost doubled in the aftermath of the Mission Shakti anti-satellite strike but this is still significantly less than the existing space debris generated by China, Russia and the United States.

In details

  • Data from SPACE-TRACK.org, a public access repository maintained by the U.S. defence wing that tracks space activity, notes only 80 pieces of “space debris” attributable to India in orbit.

  • This, however, doesn’t include debris from MICROSAT-R, the DRDO satellite that was pulverised by India’s anti-satellite missile.

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Space debris

  • The term ‘space debris’ does not have a unanimously accepted legal definition. It is generally used to describe the collection of unwanted objects in the earth’s orbit which is either man-made or natural

  • Natural Debris consists of natural bodies revolving around the sun, like, meteors and asteroids.

  • Artificial Debris consists of man-made objects (usually non-functional) which revolves around the Earth. (Therefore it is most commonly referred as Orbital Debris)

  • According to the Report of Second U.N. Conference on Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space 1982, space debris consists of dead satellites, spent rocket motors, nuts and bolts etc.







Impact of space debris

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  • Spacecraft: Space debris is a threat to active satellites and spaceships. For example, in 2009, a dead Russian satellite and a functioning US satellite collided and added more than 2,000 pieces of trackable debris into space

  • Kessler Syndrome: The Kessler Effect is a possible effect that if one satellite produces debris that hit another satellite, this will create a chain reaction that will obliterate every orbiting object in the Low Earth Orbit, and thus creating a thick cloud of white dots travelling at high speed

  • On Earth: The possibility of a person being hit and injured by space debris is estimated to be one in million.


5. EU drags India to WTO over import duties on ICT products

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The European Union (EU) has dragged India into WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over imposition of import duties on certain ICT products, including mobiles, alleging breach of global trade norms.

About the news

  • The EU is challenging the introduction of import duties by India on a wide range of ICT products, for instance mobile phones and components, base stations and integrated circuits.

Dispute Settlement Body

  • The General Council convenes as the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to deal with disputes between WTO members.

  • Such disputes may arise with respect to any agreement contained in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round that is subject to the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).

  • The DSB has authority to establish dispute settlement panels, refer matters to arbitration, adopt panel, Appellate Body and arbitration reports, maintain surveillance over the implementation of recommendations and rulings contained in such reports, and authorize suspension of concessions in the event of non-compliance with those recommendations and rulings.

Appellate Body

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  • The Appellate Body was established in 1995 under Article 17 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).

  • It is a standing body of seven persons that hears appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes brought by WTO Members.

  • The Appellate Body can uphold, modify or reverse the legal findings and conclusions of a panel, and Appellate Body Reports, once adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), must be accepted by the parties to the dispute.

  • The Appellate Body has its seat in Geneva, Switzerland.