Currents Affairs & GK – Jul 03, 2017

General Studies-II
Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate
India contributes $500,000 to UN Peacebuilding Fund

India has contributed $500,000 to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, expressing hope that more funding by nations will boost efforts by the world body to build and sustain peace. India has been a member of the Peacebuilding Commission since its inception in December 2005 and has so far contributed $5 million to the fund.

United Nations Peacebuilding Fund

The United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is a multi-year standing trust fund for post-conflict peacebuilding, established in 2006 by the UN Secretary General at the request of the UN General Assembly with an initial funding target of $250 million.

The fund was established out of the recognition that among the impediments to successful peacebuilding is the scarcity of resources, most notably financial resources. The fund aims therefore to extend critical support during the early stages of a peace process. Its design embodies several key principals:

  • Recognition of national ownership of peace processes
  • The need to serve as a ‘catalyst’ to kick-start critical peacebuilding inventions
  • To utilize United Nations Agencies, funds and programmes as recipients to support project implementation by national entities
  • To operate as a disbursement process at the country level

Since its establishment in October 2006, the Peacebuilding Fund facility has been activated for the two countries currently under consideration by the Peacebuilding Commission, Burundi and Sierra Leone. The Secretary-General allocated US$ 35 million each for these two countries earlier this year.

Peacebuilding Commission

The Peacebuilding Commission was established in December 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council acting concurrently. It is an inter-governmental advisory body, in order to provide recommendations in post-conflict peace building, recovery, reconstruction and development, as well as serve as a coordination and exchange of experiences forum on issues regarding peacebuilding.

General Studies-III
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Effect of Aerosols on India’s monsoon

While greenhouse gases, or GHGs, are causing concern about the long-term fate of the Indian monsoon, researchers now think aerosols from vehicular exhaust, half-burnt crop residue, dust and chemical effluents may be weakening the life-giving rainy season even more than GHGs.

A mix of GHGs, aerosols and changes in forest and agricultural cover was affecting the strength of the monsoon, which was known to be weakening over the last 50 years. This result was based on mathematical modelling and computer simulation. New simulations suggest that aerosols may be a far more important factor than GHGs.

An upgraded forecasting model that was used this year by the India Meteorological Department for forecasts, will help prepare India’s first home-grown forecast of climate change from global warming, and be part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, which are considered the global scientific consensus on the role of man-made pollution in climate change.

Dust clouds shield the earth from the sun’s rays, depressing land and sea temperatures and reducing the variation between the two. A good monsoon, which is produced by the difference in temperature between land and sea, is thus weakened by aerosol accumulation. Aerosols cause air pollution and smog and aggravate conditions such as asthma.

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development…

India in 88th place in money hoarded in Swiss banks

India has slipped to the 88th place in terms of money parked by its citizens with Swiss banks, while the U.K. remains on the top. Also, the money officially held by Indians with banks in Switzerland now accounts for a meagre 0.04 per cent of the total funds kept by all foreign clients in the Swiss banking system, as per an analysis of the latest figures compiled by the Swiss National Bank as on 2016-end. The funds are the official figures and do not indicate the quantum of black money.

India was placed at 75th position in 2015 and at 61st in the year before that, though it used to be among top-50 countries in terms of holdings in Swiss banks till 2007. The country was ranked highest at 37th place in 2004.

The latest data from the Zurich-based SNB comes ahead of a new framework for automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace.

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
Sharpest laser can help test Einstein’s theory

Scientists have developed the world’s sharpest laser with record-breaking precision that can help make optical atomic clocks more precise as well as test Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Theoretically, laser light has only one colour, frequency or wavelength. In reality, however, there is always a certain linewidth. One of laser’s outstanding properties is the excellent coherence of the emitted light. Ideally, laser light has only one fixed wavelength or frequency. In practice, the spectrum of most types of lasers can, however, reach from a few kHz to a few MHz in width, which is not good enough for numerous experiments requiring high precision.

Researchers, including those from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Germany, have now developed a laser with a linewidth of only 10 milliHertz (mHz) — closer to the ideal laser than ever before. This precision is useful for various applications such as optical atomic clocks, precision spectroscopy, radioastronomy and for testing the theory of relativity.

Laser light is used in numerous applications in industry, medicine and information technologies. Lasers have brought about a real revolution in fields of research and in metrology — or have even made some new fields possible in the first place.

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space…
NASA’s new revelation on Jupiter

NASA’s Earth-bound Gemini North telescope has beamed back a stunning image of Jupiter showing haze particles over a range of altitudes, as seen in reflected sunlight.

As the Juno spacecraft orbits Jupiter, the Gemini telescope is providing high-resolution images to help guide its exploration of the giant planet.

Juno spacecraft

Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter. It was built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011 (UTC), as part of the New Frontiers program, and entered a polar orbit of Jupiter on July 5, 2016 (UTC), to begin a scientific investigation of the planet. After completing its mission, Juno will be intentionally deorbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Juno’s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. It will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds of 618 kilometers per hour (384 mph).

Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003. Unlike all earlier spacecraft to the outer planets, Juno is powered only by solar arrays, commonly used by satellites orbiting Earth and working in the inner Solar System, whereas radioisotope thermoelectric generators are commonly used for missions to the outer Solar System and beyond. For Juno, however, the three largest solar array wings ever deployed on a planetary probe play an integral role in stabilizing the spacecraft as well as generating power.

Gemini Observatory

The Gemini Observatory is an astronomical observatory consisting of two 8.19-metre (26.9 ft) telescopes, Gemini North and Gemini South, which are located at two separate sites in Hawaii and Chile, respectively. As of 2017, the twin Gemini telescopes provide almost complete coverage of both the northern and southern skies. They are currently among the largest and most advanced optical/infrared telescopes available to astronomers.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States, the National Research Council of Canada, CONICYT of Chile, MCTI of Brazil, and MCTIP of Argentina own and operate the Gemini Observatory.

The Gemini telescopes house a suite of modern instruments, offer superb performance in the optical and near-infrared, and employ sophisticated adaptive optics technology to compensate for the blurring effects of the Earth’s atmosphere. Gemini is a world-leader in wide-field adaptive optics assisted infrared imaging, and has recently commissioned the Gemini Planet Imager, an instrument that allows researchers to directly image and analyze exoplanets that are a millionth as bright as the host star around which they orbit. Gemini continues to support research in almost all areas of modern astronomy, including the Solar System, exoplanets, star formation and evolution, the structure and dynamics of galaxies, supermassive black holes, distant quasars, and the structure of the Universe on the largest scales.