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Current Affairs 28th March 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Tiger Triumph Exercise

Context: Armed forces from India and the U.S. participated in a bilateral exercise Tiger Triumph 2024.

About Triumph Exercise

  • Goal:
    • Improve joint capabilities for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
    • Refine procedures for smooth coordination between Indian and US forces.
  • Activities:
    • Harbour Phase:
      • Training visits and exchanges between personnel.
      • Sports and social interactions.
    • Sea Phase:
      • Maritime drills (including Indian Navy ships, helicopters, and landing crafts).
      • Amphibious operations (involving Indian Army personnel and vehicles).
      • HADR simulations based on realistic scenarios.
  • Participants:
    • India:
      • Navy ships with helicopters and landing crafts.
      • Navy aircraft.
      • Army personnel and vehicles.
      • Air Force aircraft and helicopters.
      • Rapid Action Medical Team (RAMT).
    • US: Navy ships with US Marines and Army troops.
Other Joint Armed Exercises of India-US
  • Military Training: Yudh Abhyas and Vajra Prahar
  • Air Forces: Cope India, RED FLAG 16-1.
  • Naval Exercise (along with Japan): Malabar Exercise
  • HADR: US, India, Japan and Australia.

Sustainable Building Materials


  • India is witnessing an unprecedented construction boom, with over 3,00,000 housing units erected annually.
  • This growth brings economic opportunities and improved living standards but also poses significant environmental challenges.
  • The building sector accounts for over 33% of India’s electricity usage, contributing to environmental degradation and climate change.
  • The India Cooling Action Plan forecasted an eight-fold increase in cooling demand between 2017 and 2037, emphasising the need for thermal comfort while reducing active cooling demand.

Energy Efficiency in Indian Construction

  • Current Situation: India’s growing energy demand from urbanisation and climate change is pushing the construction sector to become more energy efficient.
  • Eco-Niwas Samhita (ENS): The initiative introduces the Residential Envelope Transmittance Value (RETV), a critical measure to reduce heat transfer for cooler indoor spaces.
    • Recommended Standards: An RETV of 15W/m2 or less is ideal for energy efficiency, improved comfort, and lower costs.
  • Construction Trends: Quick, energy-intensive building practices are prevalent, often overlooking thermal comfort for speed.
  • Awareness and Perception: Broader knowledge and a shift in perception regarding the upfront costs for climate-responsive buildings are necessary.

Material Analysis and Preferences

  • Common Materials: AAC blocks, red bricks, fly ash, and monolithic concrete are popular in warmer Indian cities.
  • Developers’ Choices: For speed and scalability, over 60% of current projects prefer monolithic concrete, particularly in high-rise construction.
  • Thermal Efficiency of Materials: AAC blocks show the lowest RETV, indicating their superior thermal efficiency.
  • Embodied Energy: Monolithic concrete has high embodied energy, while AAC blocks are significantly lower.
  • Construction Time: Mivan technology allows for rapid construction, especially in tall buildings, compared to traditional masonry.

Sustainability Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: All materials pose sustainability challenges, with monolithic concrete having the highest environmental cost.
  • Balanced Choice: AAC blocks offer a compromise between low embodied energy and reasonable construction time.

Future Directions for Sustainability

  • Innovative Materials: India holds potential for developing new, sustainable building materials.
  • Integrated Design Collaboration: Working with sustainability experts on building orientation, insulation, and cooling systems can enhance energy efficiency.
  • Industry Preferences: Despite the quick construction benefits of Mivan, it presents high embodied carbon and thermal inefficiencies.
  • Innovation in Manufacturing: The market needs cost-effective, durable, fire-resistant materials that provide better thermal performance.

Sustainable Construction Pathway

  • Importance of Innovation: Sustainable construction demands new designs, materials, and a dedication to environmental objectives.
  • End Goal: By prioritising sustainable practices, the construction sector can produce energy-efficient, resilient buildings, improving quality of life.

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Hambantota Port – China, Sri Lanka Agreement

Context: Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has engaged in discussions with Chinese officials regarding the development of the nation’s strategic deep sea port and capital’s airport.

Current Affairs 28th March 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam_4.1

More In News

Sri Lanka’s Debt Crisis:

  • Sri Lanka defaulted on its $46 billion foreign debt in 2022 due to a lack of foreign exchange.
  • This led to protests and the resignation of the president.
  • An IMF bailout of $2.9 billion is contingent on debt restructuring.

China’s Role:

  • China is Sri Lanka’s biggest bilateral creditor.
  • Development Projects: China offered “assistance to develop” Colombo International Airport (previously a Japanese project on hold).
    • China will also assist with the development of Hambantota port, leased to a Chinese state-owned company in 2017.

Geopolitical Concerns:

  • A Japanese-funded project for expanding Colombo’s airport has been suspended due to Sri Lanka’s debt crisis.
  • India and the US are wary of China’s growing influence in Sri Lanka.
  • Hambantota’s location on the southern coast raises concerns about China’s naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.

String of Pearls

  • The String of Pearls is a strategic initiative by China to create a network of commercial and military bases and ports in countries surrounding the Indian Ocean.
  • These “pearls” symbolise potential permanent Chinese military installations, strategically positioned along a chain.
  • Notable developments include ports like Gwadar, Hambantota, and Sittwe.

Current Affairs 28th March 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam_5.1

Impact of China’s String of Pearls on India

  • Strategic Concerns: China’s presence in the Indian Ocean could limit India’s strategic influence and surround it.
    • Countries that currently partner with India to counter China might shift allegiance.
  • Economic Impact: Increased focus on defence spending could hinder economic growth.
    • Regional Instability: Heightened tensions could destabilise India and surrounding regions.
  • Maritime Security Threats: China’s growing naval presence poses a direct threat to India’s maritime security.

India’s Counter-Measures

  • Act East Policy: Fostering economic and military ties with Southeast Asian nations to counter China’s influence.
  • Military Alliances: Strategic partnerships with countries like Japan, Australia, and the US through joint exercises (QUAD).
  • Chabahar Port Development: Establishing a land-sea route to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
  • Strategic Pact with France: Gaining access to French naval bases in the Indian Ocean, including Djibouti (near China’s only overseas base).
  • Diplomacy in Central Asia: Building ties with countries bordering China (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc.).
  • Naval Base Expansion: Securing access to naval facilities and airfields in Oman and the Seychelles.
  • Strengthening Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Expanding bases to enhance control over the strategically important Malacca Strait.

Examples, Data And Case Studies For Value Addition

  1. Parliament (GS 2): In the 17th Lok Sabha, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report highlighted that out of 222 total bills passed, over 40 were approved on the same day they were introduced.
  2. Food Wastage (GS 3): In 2022, 783 million people were projected to suffer from chronic hunger. The UNEP’s Food Waste Index Report indicates that approximately 19% of global food production was wasted that year.

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