The 25th edition of SIMBEX (Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise)-2018 is scheduled to be held in Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
- The 2018 edition marks the Silver Jubilee of SIMBEX.
- The previous edition of the exercise was held off Singapore in the South China Sea in May 2017.
- SIMBEX 2018 will be the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity.
- This Exercise will complement India’s ‘Act-East’ policy.
The aim of ‘Act East Policy’ is to promote the country’s economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
It was originally conceived as an economic initiative but has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions, including establishment of institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation.
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Global Cooling Innovation Summit
Global Cooling Innovation Summit is being jointly organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, along with Rocky Mountain Institute, Alliance for An Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), Conservation X Labs and CEPT University.
The Summit is a first-of-its-kind solutions-focused event that will bring together leaders from around the world to explore concrete means and pathways to address the climate threat that comes from the growing demand from room air conditioners.
The summit is going to launch Global Cooling Prize -Mission Innovation challenge that aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today’s standard.
Global Cooling Prize is a competition with global reach and participation to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in cooling technologies.
Indian Army Inducts Major Artillery Gun Systems
- The Indian Army has received the first batch of its new artillery weapons at Devmali Field Firing Ranges in Maharashtra.
- The artillery gun systems include the M777 American Ultra Light Howitzers, K9 Vajra, and a ‘Composite Gun Tractor’ for towing some existing guns in service.
- More than three decades have passed since a modern artillery system was inducted by the army, the last being the Bofors FH77B02 in 1987.
- The K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/ 52 are a tracked self-propelled howitzer, which has its roots in the K9 Thunder, the mainstay of the South Korean Army.
- The Vajra offers a high rate of fire at a long range and is compatible with Indian and standard NATO ammunition.
- The K9 Thunder platform is made of all-welded steel armour protection material.
- The K9 gun has been developed under the `Buy Global’ programmes of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) where foreign companies are allowed to participate —in this case Hanwha Techwin of South Korea is the technology partner of L&T.
The first 10 K9 Vajra guns have been imported from South Korea and have been assembled by L&T in India. The balance 90 guns will be largely manufactured in the country.
The 155mm, 39 Calibre Ultra light Howitzers have been procured from USA under Government to Government Foreign Military Sales in 2016 and will be assembled by U.S.A.’s BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.
- It is one of the lightest guns that were actively used in Iraq and Afghanistan; the M777 will be deployed on the high altitude borders with China and Pakistan and is especially useful with the Chinook helicopters that can transport them quickly.
- It is smaller and lighter, as it is made of titanium and aluminium alloys and weighs just 4 tonnes. It has effective firing range of 24 km.
- It has been procured through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route under the `Buy Global’ programme of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).
The artillery has always been a battle winning factor. It possesses the ability to strike deep with great accuracy and cause maximum damage to even well-constructed shelters and bunkers.
Other than the Bofors inducted in 1984, Indian Army possessed the 130 mm guns and 105 mm guns inducted in the 1960’s and 70’s. The 130 mm lacked the ability to fire in mountains and the 105 mm lacked range. Both guns fired limited type of shells with lesser level of fragmentation.
Both M777 and K9 Vajra would enhance firepower in a region where spread of deployment restricts fire support to troops holding ground in the defensive role.
The procurement of state of the art defence equipments not only enhances the capability of armed forces, but also provides technological know-how to the domestic manufacturers. This in turn will push the indigenous manufacturing of defence equipments.
Defence Procurement Procedure
The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2016) had replaced the DPP-2013 based on the recommendations of the Dhirendra Singh Committee that was appointed in May 2015 to review the DPP, 2013.
DPP, 2016 focuses to boost the Make-in-India initiative of the Government of India, by promoting indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, platforms and systems.
The government has introduced a newly incorporated procurement class called “Buy Indian (IDDM)”, where IDDM stands for Indigenous Designed Developed and Manufactured. This would have the first preference in all acquisitions once the DPP comes into effect.
Besides this, preference has been accorded to ‘Buy (Indian)’ and ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ & ‘Buy & Make (Global)’ categories.
Mission to Explore Ocean Deeps
A submarine mission called “Five Deeps” will explore the bottom of each of the world’s oceans.
The Five Deeps Expedition is the first manned expedition to the deepest points in each of the world’s five oceans.
Deep Oceans remain uncharted territory for humans, while hundreds of people have ventured into space; only three people have touched down on the deepest known places in oceans.
The expedition provides the unprecedented opportunity to sample life across a gradient of depths, temperatures, salinity, food supply, latitude and in places around the world that were formed, split, or united millions of years ago by the shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates.
Five spots in oceans where expedition will go are:
- Puerto Rico Trench (Atlantic Ocean)
- South Sandwich Trench (Southern Ocean)
- Java Trench (Indian Ocean)
- Challenger Deep (Pacific Ocean)
- Molloy Deep (Arctic Ocean)
DSV Limiting Factor
The expedition crew will use Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Limiting Factor submarine for exploring the ocean deeps.
Limiting Factor is the only human-occupied vessel that can visit any place in oceans, at any depth, and from any properly-equipped ship.
Goals of the Mission
- To collect samples which will be used in research involving effects of undersea seismic activity
- Find deep-sea features and habitats using high-resolution multibeam sonar and learn about lives in those habitats
- Discover how organisms survive in Hadalpelagic zones
- Determine the organism’s’ role in each given ecosystem
- Connect the Five Deeps through genetic differentiation of species found on the dives
Zones in the Ocean
- Scientists have divided the ocean into five main layers. These layers, known as “zones”, extend from the surface to the most extreme depths.
The surface layer of the ocean is known as the epipelagic zone.
It extends from the surface to 200 meters (656 feet).
It is also known as the sunlight zone because this is where most of the visible light exists.
Below the Epipelagic zone is the mesopelagic zone, extending from 200 meters (656 feet) to 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).
- The Mesopelagic zone is sometimes referred to as the twilight zone or the midwater zone.
- The light that penetrates to this depth is extremely faint.
- Bioluminescent creatures (visible light produced by the creatures themselves) start appearing in this zone.
This zone extends from 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) down to 4,000 meters (13,124 feet).
It is sometimes referred to as the midnight zone or the dark zone.
Abyss pelagic Zone
It is also known as the abyssal zone or simply as the abyss.
It extends from 4,000 meters (13,124 feet) to 6,000 meters (19,686 feet).
The water temperature is near freezing, and there is no light at all.
This layer extends from 6,000 meters (19,686 feet) to the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean.
These areas are mostly found in deep water trenches and canyons.
The deepest point in the ocean is located in the Mariana Trench off the coast of Japan at 35,797 feet (10,911 meters).
The temperature of the water is just above freezing, and the pressure is 800 times as that on the surface.
In spite of the pressure and temperature, life can still be found here.
India’s Deep Ocean Mission
Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India has also launched a ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ for exploration of polymetallic nodules in Central Indian Ocean Basin.
Polymetallic nodules contain multiple metals like copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron, lead, zinc, aluminum, silver, gold, and platinum etc. in variable constitutions and are precipitate of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from the deep interior of the oceanic crust.
Of these, cobalt, copper, and nickel are of much importance and in great demand in India as cobalt is used extensively in medical treatment and nickel in batteries.
It will reduce India’s dependence on imports of cobalt and other rare earth metals.
No Double Jeopardy Bar If There was No Trial
In a recent judgment (State of Mizoram vs. Dr. C. Sangnghina), SC has held that the bar of double jeopardy will not apply if the person was discharged due to lack of evidence.
In its judgment, SC held that, where the accused has not been tried at all and convicted or acquitted, the principles of “double jeopardy” cannot be invoked at all.
The principle of Double Jeopardy: Double Jeopardy is a legal term and it means that a person cannot be punished for the same offense more than once.
Both Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India and Section 300 of the Criminal Procedure Code say that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.
The judgment is based on an appeal filed by the State of Mizoram against an order passed by the Gauhati High Court in August 2015, upholding a Special Court decision to decline to entertain a second charge sheet filed in a corruption case against the accused on the ground of double jeopardy.
Article 20: Protection in Respect of Conviction for Offences
Article 20 grants protection against arbitrary and excessive punishment to an accused person, whether citizen or foreigner or legal person like a company or a corporation.
It contains three provisions in that direction:
No ex-post-facto law: No person shall be
- convicted of any offense except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act, nor
- (ii) Subjected to a penalty greater than that prescribed by the law in force at the time of the commission of the act.
- No double jeopardy: No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.
- No self-incrimination: No person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
An ex-post-facto law is one that imposes penalties retrospectively (retroactively), that is, upon acts already done or which increases the penalties for such acts.
The protection against double jeopardy is available only in proceedings before a court of law or a judicial tribunal. In other words, it is not available in proceedings before departmental or administrative authorities as they are not of judicial nature.
The protection against self-incrimination extends to both oral evidence and documentary evidence.
Digital Transactions in India
Over the past two years, i.e. since 2016, Digital payment transactions have registered tremendous growth in India.
New payment modes – Bharat Interface for Money-Unified Payments Interface (BHIM-UPI), Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS) and National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) – have transformed digital payment ecosystem by increasing Person to Person (P2P) as well as Person to Merchant (P2M) payments.
At the same time existing payment modes such as debit cards, credit cards, Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and Pre Paid Instruments (PPI) have registered substantial growth.
Bharat Interface for Money-Unified Payments Interface (BHIM-UPI)
- BHIM is developed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).
It is an initiative to enable fast, secure, reliable cashless payments through the mobile phone. BHIM is based on Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to facilitate e-payments directly through bank.
It is interoperable with other Unified Payment Interface (UPI) applications, and bank accounts. Unified Payment Interface (UPI) is an instant payment system built over the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) infrastructure and allows instant transfer of money between any two parties’ bank accounts.
Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS)
AePS is developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that allows people to carry out financial transactions on a Micro-ATM by furnishing just their Aadhaar number and verifying it with the help of their fingerprint/iris scan.
With the help of this payment system, funds can be transferred from one bank account to another simply through their Aadhaar numbers.
This system adds another layer of security to financial transactions as bank details would no longer be required to be furnished while carrying out these transactions.
National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC)
NETC was developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in 2016 for electronic toll collection at toll plazas using FASTag.
FASTag is a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly while the vehicle is in motion.
FASTag (RFID Tag) is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables a customer to make the toll payments directly from the account which is linked to FASTag.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tagging is a system that uses small radio frequency detection devices for identification and tracking purposes.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
It is a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.
Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
It is an advanced version of Immediate Payment Service (IMPS)- round–the-clock funds transfer service to make cashless payments faster, easier and smoother.
This is a payment system that allows one to send money from bank account the way one sends an SMS or email.
Bannerghatta Park’s Eco-Sensitive Zone Reduced
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) had issued a new draft notification for Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), nearly 2.5 years after the first draft notification had declared an ESZ of 268.96 sq.km.
- In the latest notification, the Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) was reduced to 169 Sq.km.
- The reduction in the ESZ, which regulates and prohibits certain activities that may destroy the forest, may open up more areas in the vicinity for mining and commercial development around the rapidly-urbanizing Bengaluru city.
- Areas, where ESZ has been cut down drastically, are either being mined or are prospective mining areas. The other sector that will benefit from the cutting down of ESZ is real estate as land has now been freed from environmental constraints along highways close to BNP.
Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ)
Eco-Sensitive Zones or Ecologically Fragile Areas are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Activities conducted in eco-sensitive zones are regulated under the Environment (Protection Act) of 1986 and no polluting industry or mine is allowed to come up in such areas.
As a general principle width of the eco-sensitive zone could go up to 10 km around a protected area. In case of places with sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, even area beyond 10 km width can also be included in the eco-sensitive zone.
Industries classified as prohibited under guidelines for declaration of eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are not allowed to operate in these zones.
The guidelines prohibit activities such as commercial mining, commercial use of firewood and major hydropower projects.
Activities such as felling of trees, commercial use of natural water resources, including groundwater harvesting and setting up of hotels and resorts, are regulated in these areas.
The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimize the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas.
Significance of ESZ
During the course of industrialisation, urbanisation and other developmental initiatives, lot of changes occur in the landscape which may sometimes become the cause of natural disasters like earthquakes, flash floods, landslides, cloudburst etc.
In order to preserve certain regions/areas bestowed with unique plants, animals, terrains Government has declared them as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, etc.
Further, to minimize the impact of urbanisation and other developmental activities, areas adjacent to such protected areas have been declared as Eco-Sensitive Zones.
The National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) 2017-2031 endeavors to protect areas outside the protected area network to prevent isolation/destruction of fragments of biodiversity.
The purpose of declaring eco-sensitive zones around protected areas is for creating some kind of ‘Shock Absorber’ to the protected area. They would also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
Protection of eco-sensitive zones has assumed importance in view of the overzealous developmental initiatives in fragile ecosystems. A balanced, rational developmental approach is the need of the hour.
Bannerghatta National Park
- The Bannerghatta National Park is located near Bangalore in Karnataka.
- Wildlife such as elephants, gaur, leopard, jackal, fox, wild boar, sloth bear, Sambar, Chital, spotted deer, barking deer, common langur, bonnet macaque, porcupine and hares are found in abundance.
- The Bannerghatta Biological Park has been an integral part of Bannerghatta National Park and emerged out as an independent establishment during the year 2002.
- In order to meet the growing demand for eco-recreation, eco-tourism and conservation, some area of forest from the National park were set aside to constitute as Biological Park.
- Bannerghatta Biological Park is one among the few places in the world where wilderness is preserved so close to a big city.
- It is having different units such as Zoo, Safari, Butterfly Park and Rescue Center (Conservation of captive animals).