Current Affairs 3rd June 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
Context: In the wake of the tragic train collision in Odisha’s Balasore district that claimed several lives, KAVACH Anti-Collision Technology’s credibility is in the limelight.
About the KAVACH System
- ‘Kavach’ literally means armour, is an indigenously developed Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system by Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with Indian industry.
- It is a set of electronic devices and Radio Frequency Identification devices (RFID) installed in locomotives, in the signalling system as well the tracks, that talk to each other using ultra high radio frequencies to control the brakes of trains and also alert drivers, all based on the logic programmed into them.
- It is meant to provide protection by preventing trains from passing the signal at Danger (Red) and avoiding collision.
- It activates the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per the speed restrictions.
- In addition, it prevents collisions between two Locomotives equipped with a functional KAVACH system.
- It is one of the cheapest, Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL-4) certified technologies with the probability of error is 1 in 10,000 years.
- However, as per a statement of the Railways, KAVACH was not available on this route.
Payment System Operators (PSO)
Context: Draft Master Directions on Cyber Resilience and Digital Payment Security Controls has been released by RBI for PSO.
More on the News:
- The draft by RBI contains governance mechanisms for the management of cybersecurity risks and specifies baseline security measures for ensuring safe and secure digital payment transactions.
- The directions make authorized non-bank Payment System Operators (PSOs) resilient to traditional and emerging information systems and cyber-security risks.
What are PSOs?
- Payment systems are used to settle financial transactions of monetary value and consist of the various mechanisms that enable the transfer of funds from one party (the payer) to another (the payee).
- PSOs are legal entities responsible for operating a payment system. They largely outsource their payment and settlement-related activities to various other entities.
- A payment system is made up of participants (institutions) and the users (customers/clients). They have various rules and regulations that guide its operation and the standards and technologies on which the system operates.
- The Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS), a sub-committee of RBI is the highest decision-making body related to PSOs.
PSOs in India:
- Clearing Corporation of India, Cards Payment Networks, National Payments Corporation of India, Prepaid Payment Instruments, Cross border Money Transfer, ATM networks, White Label ATM Operators, Instant Money Transfer, and Trade Receivables Discounting System, Bharat Bill Payment System.
Context: The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which hosts the Large Hadron Collider,(LHC) has announced that it has found the first evidence of the rare process by which the Higgs boson decays into a Z boson and a photon.
About Higgs Boson
- Definition: Higgs Boson is the fundamental force-carrying particle associated with the Higgs field, a field that gives mass to other fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks.
- It is one of the 17 elementary particles that make up the Standard Model of particle physics, which is scientists’ best theory about the behaviors of the universe’s most basic building blocks.
- Higgs boson plays such a cardinal role in subatomic physics that it is sometimes referred to as the “God particle.”
- It was proposed in 1964 by Peter Higgs, François Englert, and four other theorists to explain why certain particles have mass.
- The particle was finally discovered on July 4, 2012, by researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
- Features of Higgs Boson
- The Higgs boson has a mass of 125 billion electron volts, meaning it is 130 times more massive than a proton , according to CERN.
- It is also chargeless with zero spin, a quantum mechanical equivalent to angular momentum.
- The Higgs Boson is the only elementary particle with no spin.
- It’s a “force carrier” particle that comes into play when particles interact with each other, with a boson exchanged during this interaction.
What is Large Hadron Collider (LHC)?
- It is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
- It is located near Geneva, Switzerland; across the border of France and Switzerland.
- The LHC, built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), is on the energy frontier of physics research, conducting experiments with highly energised particles.
- The LHC can reproduce the conditions that existed within a billionth of a second of the Big Bang.
- The colossal accelerator allows scientists to collide high-energy subatomic particles in a controlled environment and observe the interactions.
- One of the most significant LHC breakthroughs came in 2012 with the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR)
Context: Engineers India (EIL) is studying the prospects and feasibility of developing salt cavern-based strategic oil reserves in Rajasthan.
- It would be first salt cavern-based oil storage facility in India.
- India’s three existing strategic oil storage facilities — at Mangaluru and Padur in Karnataka, and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh — are made up of excavated rock caverns.
- Salt cavern-based storage is considered cheaper and less labour- and cost-intensive than rock caverns.
About Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) in India
- About: Strategic Petroleum Reserves are stockpiles of crude oil maintained by countries for release in the event of a supply disruption.
- Objective: To ensure energy security of the country by serving as a cushion during any external supply disruptions.
- India’s strategic oil reserves come under the Petroleum Ministry’s special purpose vehicle Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (ISPRL).
- Crude oil from the reserves are to be released by an empowered committee set up by the government, in the event of supply disruptions due to a natural calamity or an unforeseen global event leading to an abnormal increase in prices.
- Significance of SPR: Countries build strategic crude oil reserves to mitigate major supply disruptions in the global supply chain.
- India, the world’s third-largest consumer of crude, depends on imports for more than 85% of its requirement — and strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) could help ensure energy security and availability during global supply shocks and other emergencies.
- Current Capacity: India currently has an SPR capacity of 5.33 million tonnes, or around 39 million barrels of crude, that can meet around 9.5 days of demand.
- The country is in the process of expanding its SPR capacity by a cumulative 6.5 million tonnes at two locations — Chandikhol in Odisha (4 million tonnes) and Padur (2.5 million tonnes).
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends that all countries should hold an emergency oil stockpile sufficient to provide 90 days of import protection.
- In India, apart from the SPR, the oil marketing companies (OMCs) have storage facilities for crude oil and petroleum products for 64.5 days — which means there is sufficient storage to meet around 74 days of the country’s petroleum demand.
Context: Recently, Telecom operators Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea told the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that satellite spectrum should be auctioned.
- However, Bharti Airtel told TRAI that, spectrum should be administratively assigned.
About Satellite Spectrum
- Spectrum refers to the invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over.
- Spectrum frequencies can be used for cellular communications, different bands have slightly different characteristics.
- Satellite Spectrum will make satellite broadband (communication) services operational in the country
Working of Satellite Services
- It uses a geosynchronous satellite to relay the radio signal transmitted from the ground station. For communication signals, these satellites act as relay stations.
- From the earth station, the satellite accepts data/signals, amplifies them, and re-transmit them to another earth station.
- Data can be transmitted to the other side of the earth using such a setup in only one step.
Regulation of Satellite Services
- Satellite spectrum has no national territorial limits and is coordinated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
- It is subjected to their radio regulations to enable satellite networks to function without being impacted by harmful interference.
Advantages of Satellite Services
- Satellite spectrum services is a more flexible purpose, and can be used interchangeably for both space and traditional telecommunication purposes.
- Remote areas: Inaccessible, mountainous, and remote areas can benefit greatly from broadband services thanks to satellite communication.
- Disaster: Additionally, when normal communication is disrupted in disaster areas, it is the only means available for communication.
- Digital Divide: Satcom has also the potential to enhance broadband penetration in India, which can lower the digital divide.
- India currently only uses satellite broadband as ‘backhaul’ in places like the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, which is not yet connected terrestrially or with an undersea cable to the Indian mainland’s networks.
About Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
- It was, established by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.
- TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for the growth of telecommunications in the country in a manner and at a pace that will enable India to play a leading role in the emerging global information society.
- To provide a fair and transparent policy environment that promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
Context: Three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams are working at the triple train crash site in Odisha’s Balasore district.
About National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
- It is a specialized force constituted by the Government of India for disaster response.
- It was formed in 2006 under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with the purpose of a specialised response to natural and man-made disasters.
- It is a paramilitary organization under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Organisation: At present, the NDRF consists of 15 battalions from the BSF, CISF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB and Assam Rifles.
- Each battalion has 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each including engineers, technicians, electricians, dog squads and medical/paramedics.
- NDRF is equipped with specialized rescue equipment and has a well-trained team of personnel who can deal with any type of emergency.
Objectives of NDRF
- To provide National level assistance to the States/UTs in disaster.
- To coordinate with other National and International agencies during disasters.
- To undertake rescue and relief operations in disaster.
- To provide medical assistance.
- To provide logistic support to the States/UTs during a disaster.
- To conduct search and rescue operations.
- The force is also responsible for providing humanitarian assistance during disasters.