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Prelims Booster

14th November – Prelims Booster

QRSAM Missile System

Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) System has achieved a major milestone by a direct hit on to a Banshree Pilotless target aircraft at medium range and medium altitude.

Details –

  • The missile is propelled by a single stage solid propellant rocket motor and uses all indigenous subsystems. The Missile is canisterised for transportation and launch using a mobile launcher capable of carrying 6 canisterised missiles.
  • Information – Solid rocket fuel is the original rocket fuel, dating back to the early fireworks developed by the Chinese centuries ago. For the SLS boosters, aluminium powder serves as the fuel and a mineral salt, ammonium perchlorate, is the oxidiser.

What is a ‘QRSAM’?

  • The state-of-the-art missile is a sophisticated all-weather and all-terrain missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the India Army.
  • QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km. It can be mounted on a truck and stored in a canister. It is equipped with electronic counter measures against jamming by aircraft radars.
  • The first trial of the QSRAM was conducted in June 2017. The system is being developed for the Army with search and track on move capability with very short reaction time.
  • The systems are equipped with indigenously developed phased array radar, inertial navigation system, data link and radio frequency seeker. It is capable of hitting the low flying objects.

Technical Recession

In its latest monthly bulletin, the Reserve Bank of India has dedicated a chapter on the “State of the economy”. The idea is to provide a monthly snapshot of some of the key indicators of India’s economic health.

As part of the exercise, the RBI has started “nowcasting” or “the prediction of the present or the very near future of the state of the economy”. And the very first “nowcast” predicts that India’s economy will contract by 8.6% in the second quarter (July, August, September) of the current financial year. It implies India that has entered a “technical recession” in the first half of 2020-21— for the first time in its history.

What is a recessionary phase?

  • At its simplest, in any economy, a recessionary phase is the counterpart of an expansionary phase. In other words, when the overall output of goods and services — typically measured by the GDP — increases from one quarter (or month) to another, the economy is said to be in an expansionary phase. And when the GDP contracts from one quarter to another, the economy is said to be in a recessionary phase.
  • Together, these two phases create what is called a business cycle” in any economy. A full business cycle could last anywhere between one year and a decade.

How is a recession different?

  • When a recessionary phase sustains for long enough, it is called a recession. In other words, when the GDP contracts for a long enough period, the economy is said to be in a recession.
  • There is, however, no universally accepted definition of a recession — as in, for how long should the GDP contract before an economy is said to be in a recession.
  • But most economists agree with the definition that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the United States uses. According to NBER, “During a recession, a significant decline in economic activity spreads across the economy and can last from a few months to more than a year”.
  • The NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee typically looks at various variables — employment, consumption etc — apart from GDP growth to arrive at a decision. It also looks at the “depth, diffusion, and duration” of decline in economic activity to determine whether an economy is in a recession or not.

What is a technical recession?

  • While the basic idea behind the term “recession” — significant contraction in economic activity — is clear, from the perspective of empirical data analysis, there are too many unanswered queries.
  • During the 2008 global financial crisis, NBER pegged June 2009 as the end date for the recession but some metrics did not recover for much longer. For instance, “non-farm payroll employment, did not exceed the level of the previous peak until April 2014,” according to NBER.
  • To get around these empirical technicalities, commentators often consider a recession to be in progress when real GDP has declined for at least two consecutive quarters.
  • That is how real quarterly GDP has come to be accepted as a measure of economic activity and a benchmark” for ascertaining a technical recession”. By this definition, India entered a recession at the end of September. The UK is in its third quarter of recession. Brazil and Indonesia are also in recession while South Africa has evaded it until now, but only marginally. China, where the pandemic began, has bucked the trend.

Was Indias technical recession unexpected?

No. Given the nature of the problem — the pandemic — as soon as the lockdown was announced in March, most economists expected the Indian economy to go into recession. In fact, most estimates expect the economy to contract for at least one more quarter — that is October to December, currently under way. In India’s case, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has expressed hope that India’s recession could be already over and that the economy may register positive growth in the current quarter.

Ariel Space Mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted Ariel, the explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets. As of now the existence of more than 4,000 exoplanets is considered confirmed, while there are thousands of other candidate exoplanets that need further observations to say for certain if they are exoplanets.

Proxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to Earth and is four light-years away and inhabits the “habitable zone” of its star, which means that it could possibly have liquid water on its surface.

What are exoplanets?

  • Planets that lie outside of the Solar System and orbit around stars other than the Sun are called exoplanets or extrasolar planets. Exoplanets are not easy to detect since they are much less brighter than the stars they orbit and hence it is difficult to see them directly using telescopes.
  • As per NASA, only a handful of exoplanets have been found using telescopes and the rest have been detected using indirect methods. One of these methods involves tracking the dimming of a star that happens when a planet passes in front of it. NASA’s Kepler Space telescope uses this method to spot thousands of planets.

Why do scientists study exoplanets?

The search for exoplanets is driven by the possibility that life may exist beyond Earth and even if there is no evidence for this, scientists believe that their hunt for an answer will reveal details about where humans came from and where we’re headed.

What is the Ariel Space Mission?

  • Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey), which scientists are planning to launch in 2029, will perform a large-scale survey of over a thousand exoplanets over a period of four years. These thousand exoplanets will range from gas giants to rocky planets, which will help them to compile a list of their compositions and properties thereby providing insights about how planetary systems form and evolve.
  • Ariel is the first mission of its kind dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of exoplanets. Further, Ariel will help to answer one of the key questions of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Plan, which is, “What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?”.

Vaccination in India

India has made significant progress in its vaccination coverage to prevent child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths, according to the latest annual Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report released by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) recently.

Performance of India –

  • Although overall the world’s health systems are falling short of ensuring that children have access to prevention and treatment services, India has achieved the global target of 90% coverage for three of the five vaccines whose coverage is monitored in the report.
  • These vaccines are Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) vaccine, Measles-containing-vaccine first dose, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and rotavirus vaccine.
  • While India’s coverage of rotavirus vaccine increased by 18 percentage points (35% rotavirus coverage in 2018 expanded to 53% in 2019), coverage against pneumococcal pneumonia increased by 9 percentage points (6% PCV coverage in 2018 expanded to 15% in 2019).
  • In 2019, India completed the “100-day agenda” — an unprecedented national scaleup of rotavirus vaccine. This landmark vaccine expansion will help protect 26 million children born each year against life-threatening cases of rotavirus diarrhoea, stated the report.
  • The report tracked progress by analysing 10 indicators from the latest available data on how countries are delivering key interventions — including breastfeeding, immunisation, care-seeking and antibiotics, oral rehydration solution (ORS), and zinc supplementation — shown to prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths. Of the 15 focus countries included in the report, India is one of just four countries that exceeded targets for exclusive breastfeeding.
  • However, nearly every country included in the report lagged in access to treatments against pneumonia and diarrhoea. India failed to reach all four targets for treatment, the report stated, adding that the treatment for diarrhoea had the lowest coverage, with only 51% of children receiving ORS and 20% getting zinc.

About Indradhanush Mission –

  • To strengthen and reenergise the programme and achieve full immunisation coverage for all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace, the Government of India launched “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014.
  • Through UIP, Government of India is providing vaccination free of cost against vaccine preventable diseases include diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, severe form of childhood tuberculosis, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia (Hemophilus influenza type B infections), Japanese encephalitis (JE) in JE endemic districts with introduction of newer vaccines  such as rotavirus vaccine, IPV, adult JE vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)  and measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in UIP/national immunisation programme.

Salient features of Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0 –

The salient features of IMI 2.0 are:

  • Immunisation activity will be in four rounds over 7 working days excluding the RI days, Sundays and holidays.
  • Enhanced immunisation session with flexible timing, mobile session and mobilisation by other departments.
  • Enhanced focus on left outs, dropouts, and resistant families and hard to reach areas.
  • Focus on urban, underserved population and tribal areas.
  • Inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination.
  • Enhance political, administrative and financial commitment, through advocacy.
  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush immunisation drive, consisting of 4 rounds of immunisation will be conducted in the selected districts and urban cities between Dec 2019 – March 2020.

Goal of Mission Indradhanush –

The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunisation with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women. The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunised and unimmunised children.

Performance –

Earlier the increase in full immunisation coverage was 1% per year which has increased to 6.7% per year through the first two phases of Mission Indradhanush. Four phases of Mission Indradhanush have been conducted till August 2017 and more than 2.53 crore children and 68 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated.

MCQs

1. Consider the following statements about ‘Mission Indradhanush’ –

  1. The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunisation with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.
  2. The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunised and unimmunised children.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – C

Explanation – The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunisation with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women. The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunised and unimmunised children.

2. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘QRSAM Missile System’?

  1. It is an all weather and all-terrain missile developed by the DRDO for the Indian Army.
  2. It uses a solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 kilometres.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – C

Explanation – QRSAM is a state-of-the-art missile is a sophisticated all-weather and all-terrain missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the India Army. QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km. It can be mounted on a truck and stored in a canister. It is equipped with electronic counter measures against jamming by aircraft radars. The first trial of the QSRAM was conducted in June 2017. The system is being developed for the Army with search and track on move capability with very short reaction time. The systems are equipped with indigenously developed phased array radar, inertial navigation system, data link and radio frequency seeker. It is capable of hitting the low flying objects.

3. Which of the following correctly describes the term ‘technical recession’?

  1. It is a period of contraction of real GDP for at least two months in succession.
  2. It is period of contraction of real GDP for at least two consecutive quarters.
  3. It is a period of contraction of nominal GDP for at least two months in succession.
  4. It is a period of contraction of nominal GDP for at least two consecutive quarters.

Answer – B

Explanation – While the basic idea behind the term “recession” — significant contraction in economic activity — is clear, from the perspective of empirical data analysis, there are too many unanswered queries. During the 2008 global financial crisis, NBER pegged June 2009 as the end date for the recession but some metrics did not recover for much longer. For instance, “non-farm payroll employment, did not exceed the level of the previous peak until April 2014,” according to NBER. To get around these empirical technicalities, commentators often consider a recession to be in progress when real GDP has declined for at least two consecutive quarters. That is how real quarterly GDP has come to be accepted as a measure of economic activity and a “benchmark” for ascertaining a “technical recession”.

4. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. Exoplanets are the planets that lie outside the orbit between the Sun and the Earth.
  2. Ariel, the explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets belongs to the European Space Agency.
  3. It is slated to reach the first exoplanet in the year 2022 with a mission life of four years.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. 1 and 3 only

Answer – B

Explanation – Planets that lie outside of the Solar System and orbit around stars other than the Sun are called exoplanets or extrasolar planets. Exoplanets are not easy to detect since they are much less brighter than the stars they orbit and hence it is difficult to see them directly using telescopes. The European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted Ariel, the explorer that will study the nature, formation and evolution of exoplanets. As of now the existence of more than 4,000 exoplanets is considered confirmed, while there are thousands of other candidate exoplanets that need further observations to say for certain if they are exoplanets.

5. Proxima Centauri b is –

  1. The planet closest to the Solar System
  2. The planet closest to the Milky Way Galaxy
  3. The planet closest to Earth
  4. None of the above

Answer – C

ExplanationProxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to Earth and is four light-years away and inhabits the “habitable zone” of its star, which means that it could possibly have liquid water on its surface.

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