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Paper 2-GS-I, Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Met dept. expects a ‘normal’ monsoon but doubts loom

Briefing:

  • THE INDIA Meteorological Department Tuesday predicted a normal monsoon season this year, with total seasonal rainfall likely to be 96 per cent of the long period average.
  • Rainfall in the range of 96 per cent to 104 per cent of the long period average (LPA) is categorised as ‘normal’.
  • The coming monsoon season is likely to narrowly escape the expected adverse impacts of an El Nino event developing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • The El Nino, which refers to an unusual warming of the sea surface in the Pacific Ocean, is known to impact weather events worldwide.
  • Similar phenomenon in the Indian Ocean, called the Indian Ocean Dipole, is currently in a favourable condition.
  • These two effects have opposing impacts on the Indian monsoon and are likely to cancel each other out. Therefore hoping for a normal monsoon season this year and expecting a good regional and temporal distribution of rainfall.

Source: Indian Express

Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Cha Australia visa cut to hit Indian IT workers

Why this happened:

  • Australia on Tuesday scrapped its skilled visa program (the employer-sponsored temporary work visas, popularly known as the 457 visa) prompting India to suggest that it will link the issue with the bilateral trade agreement that has been under negotiation for several years now.
  • India and Australia have held several rounds of negotiations but the government is wary of allowing lower duty import of dairy and farm goods, a key demand under the proposed comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA).
  • During the negotiations, Australia had committed to open up the services sector and provide an easier visa regime for Indian workers.
  • Statement from the Australian High Commission said the 457 visa would be replaced by a new temporary skill shortage work visa by March 2018.
  • Australia is an immigration nation, but the fact remains Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so Australia abolishing the 457 visa, the visa that brings temporary foreign workers into our country.

New VISA scheme:

  • The new Australian visa will have two streams: one for the short term, allowing entry for up to two years, and a medium-term option granting up to four years access, which will similar to the current 457 visa.
  • But both streams will come with several riders such as mandatory labour market testing with limited exemptions, a new non-discriminatory workforce test, criminal history checks, a market salary rate assessment and a new two-year work experience requirement. Further, English language requirements will be tightened for the medium-term stream.

Outcome:

  • The majority of visa holders under this category were from India, accounting for almost a quarter of the intake, followed by the UK and China at 19.5% and 5.8%, respectively, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
  • The move is expected to impact Indian IT and other companies, which are now facing tighter visa regimes in several parts of the world.
  • India provides the highest number of temporary skilled workers to Australia of any country; eight out of the top 10 occupations for Indian 457 visa holders (as at December 2016) were IT professionals.

Source: Times of India

Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Aryabhata: Looking back at first Indian ‘space baby’

Points to remember:

  • 42 years ago, a 360 kg small wonder made in the modest ‘sheds’ of Peenya in Bengaluru took off to space from the then Soviet Union, and it laid the foundation for India’s satellite programme.
  • Aryabhata is the first Indian spacecraft that was also built in the country.
  • This experimental spacecraft did not last its design life of six months in space. But this baby kick-started the Indian capability to build satellites solidly on track.
  • Aryabhata was conceived around 1970-71 in the early years of ISRO. It is largely credited to single-minded efforts of U.R. Rao, head of ISAC, who later became the Chairman of ISRO.
  • The Aryabhata project took off as Indo-Soviet Satellite Project. The Soviets offered this a free launch on its rockets; two subsequent satellites Bhaskara I and II also enjoyed free rides.

Today’s importance:

  • ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) — which has built nearly 90 bigger and far more sophisticated spacecraft since then — proudly observes April 19 every year as Aryabhata Day or Technology Day.
  • ISAC, which took birth in the Peenya sheds, has expanded today into two modern campuses in the city’s East.
  • The heaviest Indian satellite built to date was the experimental, low-orbit CARE payload of December 2014 which weighed some 3,775 kg.
  • Today, Indian spacecraft are of different classes and serve purposes of communication, meteorology, remote sensing, navigation and planetary exploits such as to Moon and Mars.
  • They can generate up to 6,000 Watts of power compared to Aryabhata’s 47 Watts; and exceed their planned lifespace and perform complex functions.
  • Aryabhata cost around Rs. 3.5 crore, with a Rs. 1-crore forex cost for imported components. (Today, a 2,000-3,000-kg spacecraft can cost Rs. 200-300 crore)
  • It was built as a 26-sided polyhedron about 1.4 metres wide, it was meant to study distant celestial bodies that emit X-rays, Sun and Earth’s ionosphere.
  • The instruments came from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Physical Research Laboratory.

Source: The Hindu