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India’s first gas exchange

The government has launched the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX), India’s first gas exchange.

  • The Indian Gas Exchange is a digital trading platform that will allow buyers and sellers of natural gas to trade both in the spot market and in the forward market for imported natural gas across three hubs:
    • Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat
    • Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh
  • Imported Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will be Regassified and sold to buyers through the exchange, removing the requirement for buyers and sellers to find each other.
  • Indian Energy Exchange, the country’s largest electricity trading platform, is the parent of the gas exchange.
Quick facts on Natural gas Natural gas is the earth’s cleanest burning hydrocarbon. Residue: It’s combustion does not produce ash residues, sulphur oxides, and only negligible nitrogen. Formation: Natural gas forms organically over millions of years from decomposing plant and animal matter that is buried in sedimentary rock layers.Once formed the gas tends to migrate through the pore spaces, fractures, and fissures in the sediment and rocks. Component: Methane, or CH4, is the primary component of natural gas. When it is found in nature, raw natural gas may also contain some mixture of butane, propane, and pentane gasses, as well as some nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapour. India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China.

What about domestically produced natural gas?

  • The price of domestically produced natural gas is decided by the government.
  • It will not be sold on the gas exchange.

How is domestic production of gas?

  • Domestic production of gas has been falling over the past two fiscals as current sources of natural gas have become less productive.
  • Domestically produced natural gas currently accounts for less than half the country’s natural gas consumption; imported LNG accounts for the other half.
  • LNG imports are set to become a larger proportion of domestic gas consumption as India moves to increase the proportion of natural gas in the energy basket from 6.2% in 2018 to 15% by 2030.

Significance of the initiative

  • Transparency & growth: The exchange is expected to facilitate transparent price discovery in natural gas, and facilitate the growth of the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket.
  • Fair price: Buyers do not have to contact multiple dealers to ensure they find a fair price.
  • Boosting usage: The exchange will help bring down the price of natural gas through competitive trade, boosting usage in the country that relies heavily on cheaper coal for its energy needs.
  • Greater flexibility: The exchange also allows much shorter contracts – for delivery on the next day, and up to a month – while ordinarily contracts for natural gas supply are as long as six months to a year. This will allow buyers and sellers greater flexibility.

SIPRI report

India stands seventh among the nine countries armed with nuclear weapons in terms of inventory of warheads, according to the SIPRI Year Book 2020.

  • Nuclear bombs are weapons of mass destruction. They harness the forces that hold the nucleus of an atom together by using the energy released when the particles of the nucleus (neutrons and protons) are either split or merged.
  • Nuclear weapons are made using fissile material which can be either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium.
  • There are two ways that nuclear energy can be released from an atom:
    • Nuclear fission– the nucleus of an atom is split into two smaller fragments by a neutron. This method usually involves isotopes of uranium (uranium-235, uranium-233) or plutonium (plutonium-239).
    • Nuclear fusion– two smaller atoms are brought together, usually hydrogen or hydrogen isotopes (deuterium, tritium), to form a larger one (helium isotopes); this is how the sun produces energy.

Key-highlights of the Report

  • Both nuclear neighbours of India-China and Pakistan-have more warheads than its inventory.
    • Pakistan: Pakistan ranks sixth, with 160 nuclear warheads, just above India among the nuclear weapon countries. There is a significant development, according to SIPRI report, in Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme.
    • China: China’s nuclear warhead count stands at 320 – that is, more than double the number that India has. SIPRI says China is in the middle of a significant modernisation and expansion of its arsenal.
  • China and Pakistan have had more nuclear warheads than India in the past as well.
  • Russia leads the world with 6,375 warheads, followed by the US with 5,800, and the UK with 215 warheads.
  • Israel is believed to possess between 80 and 90 nuclear warheads.
  • The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)—together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the start of 2020.

What’s used in the production?

  • Pakistan has produced mainly HEU but is increasing its ability to produce plutonium.
  • China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA have produced both HEU and plutonium for use in their nuclear weapons.
  • India and Israel are the only countries to have produced mainly plutonium for their nuclear warheads.

Is there any active deployment?

  • There is no active deployment of nuclear warheads in South Asia.
    • Only four countries – the US, the UK, Russia and France, have deployed nuclear warheads.
  • So, Indian borders are free of deployed nuclear weapons.

The situation in India

  • India has moved slowly to build its nuclear-triad. After developing land and air “vectors” (carriers of nuclear warheads – Agni series of missiles for the Army and Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighters of the Air Force), India is boosting naval nuclear prowess.
  • INS Arihant became n-capable in 2018. INS Arighat is on the course.
  • India has become the third largest spender on military for the first time and is second biggest importer of arms in the world.
  • But it still spends only a little over one-fourth of China’s military spending.

About SIPRI

  • Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

India to deploy naval liaisons at Madagascar, Abu Dhabi for information exchange

Context

After joining the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as ‘Observer’, India is looking to post Navy Liaison Officers at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar and also at the European maritime surveillance initiative in the Strait of Hormuz for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).

About
  • The Indian Ocean Commission is a regional forum in the southwest Indian Ocean.
  • The IOC is particularly unique and is the only African regional organisation composed entirely of islands: Comoros, France/Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles.
  • These islands are of special interest from sustainable development and environmental point of view.
  • They are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters (cyclones, tsunamis, drought and floods). They are at the frontline of climate change and are threatened by a rapid loss of marine and terrestrial biodiversity.’
  • China and the European Union (EU) have been Observers in the IOC since 2016 and 2017, respectively.
  • India became an Observer in March 2020 along with Japan and the United Nations.
Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) The RMFIC functions under the aegis of the IOC. It is based in Madagascar. It is designed to deepen maritime domain awareness by monitoring maritime activities and promoting information sharing and exchange. European maritime surveillance initiative in the Strait of Hormuz The EMASOH headquarters is composed of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and French officers and based at the French naval base in Abu Dhabi. The aim is “to monitor maritime activity and guarantee freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.” EMASOH deploy air and naval units in the Strait of Hormuz and adjacent areas for peaceful surveillance of naval activity.

Why LO?

  • The Navy LO is expected to be posted at EMASOH by July and at the RMIFC by September or October.
  • India has an LO at the IFC in Singapore for over four years now.
  • This will be in the overall realm of improving linkages of the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram with other IFCs and become the repository for all maritime data in the IOR.
    • The Navy set up the IFC-IOR in December 2018 within the premises of the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram to track maritime movements in the region.
    • France became the first country to deploy a Liaison Officer at the IFC-IOR followed by the U.S. and several other countries including Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom have announced their intention to post LOs.
    • Currently, infrastructure is being built to house the foreign officers. Pre-fabricated structures are being built and are expected to be ready by the end of the year,
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