29, September 2017

1.4th gravitational wave detected by LIGO, Virgo observatory

Source: The Hindu

A fourth gravitational wave has been detected — this time with help from Italy-based equipment — after two black holes collided, sending ripples through the fabric of space and time.

  • The newly produced spinning black hole has about 53 times the mass of our Sun. While this new event is of astrophysical relevance, its detection comes with an additional asset: this is the first significant gravitational wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector.
  • Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity, but the first hard evidence of their existence came only in 2015, when two U.S. detectors found the first such signal.

Virgo detector:

  • The Virgo collaboration includes more than 280 physicists and engineers belonging to 20 different European research groups.
  • The Virgo detector — an underground L-shaped instrument that tracks gravitational waves using the physics of laser light and space — recently underwent an upgrade, and while still less sensitive than its U.S. counterparts, it was able to confirm the same signal.
  • Known as interferometers, these high-tech underground stations do not rely on light in the sky like a telescope does, but instead sense vibrations in space and can pick up the “chirp” created by a gravitational wave.

What are gravitational waves?

  • In simple terms, gravitational waves can be explained as ripples in the fabric of space-time which can only be caused by massive astronomical events such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other so that these waves would finally radiate from them.
  • These gravitational waves, if detected, will carry signatures of their origin, explaining much about the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe. They had remained elusive till their detection was first announced last year.

2.13th Formation Day of NDMA

Source: The Hindu

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) recently celebrated its 13th formation day. The theme of this year’s Formation Day is School Safety.

NDMA:

  • On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.

NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:

  1. Lay down policies on disaster management.
  2. Approve the National Plan.
  3. Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan.
  4. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan.
  5. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects.
  6. Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management.
  7. Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation.
  8. Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government.
  9. Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary.
  10. Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Way ahead:

  • There was no institutional framework for disaster management earlier, but after the setting up of NDMA, a mechanism has been developed not only for disaster management, but also for disaster risk reduction.
  • India got appreciation due to NDMA’s work at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting on Disaster management held in Kyrgyzstan last month. India had extended help to earthquake-hit Nepal in 2014 and also India had sent NDRF team to Japan for help.
  • Its time to further strengthen the legal and institutional systems in place for disaster management

3.VVPAT to be used in Gujarat polls

Source: The Hindu

The Election Commission of India will use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) gadgets with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in all 50,128 voting booths in Gujarat, which goes to the Assembly polls at the end of this year.

This is the first time an entire assembly poll will be conducted using EVMs equipped with VVPAT.

  • What is VVPAT?
  • VVPAT stands for Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail. VVPAT system maintains a physical trail of all votes cast. Small slips of paper records the details of the vote. The Election Commission (EC) first introduced VVPAT in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

How is it related to EVMs?

  • When a vote is cast on the electronic voting machine, a small paper slip bearing the name and symbol of the candidate is generated. This paper appears for about 10 seconds. The slip will then automatically fall in a sealed safe box, attached to the EVM, thus maintaining a physical paper trail of all the votes cast.

Background:

  • In 2013, conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended to facilitate the introduction of VVPAT units. For the first time, VVPAT with EVMs was used for the Noksen Assembly seat in Tuensang district of Nagaland.
  • In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Election Commission of India (ECI), the Supreme Court held that VVPAT is “indispensable for free and fair elections” and directed the ECI to equip EVMs with VVPAT systems. The apex court had directed the EC to introduce EVMs in a phased manner for the next General Elections in 2014, saying it would ensure free and fair polls. SC also directed the Centre to provide financial assistance for introducing VVPAT system.

4.ADB plans to raise lending up to $4 billion to India

Source: The Hindu

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to raise its annual lending to India to a maximum of $4 billion to support the country to accelerate inclusive economic transformation toward upper middle-income status, as laid out in a new ADB country partnership strategy (CPS) for 2018-2022 endorsed recently.

Key facts:

  • ADB’s programme in India will focus on three main pillars of activity during the 5-year period — boosting economic competitiveness to create more and well-paid jobs, improved access to infrastructure and services, and addressing climate change and improving climate resilience.
  • The planned lending level, which includes private sector operations, compares with an average of $2.65 billion a year in loans extended in the period 2012-2016.
  • Financing will also go for public sector management, agriculture, natural resources and rural development as well as skills development and urban health, the statement said.
  • The new lending will be complemented by technical assistance to undertake strategic studies, build capacities and prepare projects.
  • ADB said it will also explore co-financing opportunities, including climate funds for relevant projects.

ADB:

  • It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.

Membership:

  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
  • Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
  • ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.

Loans: It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.



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