Prelims Booster

14th September – Prelims Booster

National School of Drama

Veteran actor Paresh Rawal has been appointed as Chairman of the National School of Drama Society by President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind.

About ‘National School of Drama’ –

  • Established in 1959, the National School of Drama is an autonomous organisation, fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
  • One of the foremost theatre training institutions in the world, NSD had it’s inception under the aegis of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and became an independent entity in 1975.
  • It offers a 3-year, full-time, residential training program in various aspects of theatre. The enviable list of alumni and faculty members have ensured that the institution remains at the helm of performing arts.
  • Apart from theatre, the artistic manifestations of NSD alumni have often left an indelible mark in other media as well. There are two performing wings of NSD – the Repertory Company and Theatre-in Education Company (TiE) that started in 1964 and 1989, respectively.
  • Along with NSD, New Delhi four centres have been established at Varanasi, Gangtok, Agartala and Bengaluru under consolidation of outreach programme.

Methane Hydrate

Recent research has found that the methane hydrate deposits located in the Krishna-Godavari basin are of biogenic origin. The methane hydrate deposit in the Krishna-Godavari basin is a rich source that will ensure adequate supplies of methane, a natural gas.

Details –

Methane is a clean and economical fuel. It is estimated that one cubic meter of methane hydrate contains 160-180 cubic meters of methane. Even the lowest estimate of methane present in the methane hydrates in KG Basin is twice that of all fossil fuel reserves available worldwide.

What is ‘methane hydrate’?

Methane hydrate is formed when hydrogen-bonded water and methane gas come into contact at high pressures and low temperatures in oceans.

What are ‘gas hydrates’?

  • They are formed when a gas such as methane gets trapped in well-defined cages of water molecules forming crystalline solids. It is a solid ice-like form of water that contains gas molecules in its molecular cavities.
  • Natural gas hydrates occur on continental margins and shelves worldwide from Polar Regions to the tropics.
  • Gas hydrate reservoirs are generally associated with biologically rich cold seep ecosystems at the seafloor. Cold seeps are locations where hydrocarbon-rich fluid seeps up from below the sea floor, often as methane or hydrogen sulphide.
  • It is estimated that total amount of carbon in the form of methane hydrates, far exceeds the carbon content in all the fossil fuel reserves put together and hence these are supposed to be the future potential energy resource.
  • Combustion of methane, is more CO2 efficient than that of any other hydrocarbon. Hence, using methane from gas hydrate compared to other hydrocarbons is relatively climate friendly
  • According to the latest estimates of the US Geological Survey, India has the second largest gas hydrate reserves after America. The Krishna-Godavari (KG), Cauvery and Kerala basins alone have 100-130 trillion cubic feet of estimated reserves.

Extraction of gas hydrates –

  • The natural gas from gas hydrate can be produced via –
    • Depressurisation – Drilling of hole into the layer of hydrate and reducing the pressure beneath. This technique is implemented for hydrates only in polar regions beneath the permafrost.
    • Thermal stimulation – via steam injection, hot brine solution etc. that raises the temperature of the local reservoir outside the hydrate region to cause the dissociation of the hydrate, thus releasing free gas which can be collected. 
  • However, no country in the world has so far developed the technology to produce gas hydrates commercially and economically. 
  • Gas hydrates are also important for seafloor stability studies, because “melting” gas hydrate may cause seafloor “land” slides. Methane released from gas hydrate may therefore play a significant role in climate change.

Moscow Plan – Five point plan of India and China

The Foreign Ministers of India and China, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Wang Yi, arrived at a ‘Five Points’ agreement to reduce the prevailing tension on the Ladakh border during their talks in Moscow on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.

Significance of the plan –

  • This meeting between the two foreign ministers was an attempt to break the state of impasse as series of talks have taken place at multiple levels without yielding any results.
  • It was also good optics especially for China as the Communist leadership was keen to showcase its sincerity to resolve the issues through dialogue.
  • It is in keeping with the Chinese policy of ‘talking and fighting simultaneously(yi bian dan-yi bian da). Besides, it also lent credence to the role of Moscow in setting up the stage for the talks.

Analysing the plan –

  • The five-point plan is: following the consensus between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to –
    1. “not allow differences to become disputes”,
    2. disengaging quickly to ease tensions,
    3. abiding by the existing India-China border protocols and avoiding escalatory action,
    4. continuing the dialogue between the Special Representatives, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Mr. Wang Yi, and
    5. the other mechanisms and working towards new confidence building measures (CBMs).
  • It reiterates the process of dialogue, disengagement, and easing of the situation. All this was comprehensively dealt with in the previous five agreements given below:
    1. The 1993 – ‘Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility Agreement’ forms the basis of all followup agreements.
    2. 1996 – ‘Confidence Building Measures’ denounced the use of force
    3. 2005 – ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ and patrolling modalities.
    4. 2012 – ‘Process of Consultation and Cooperation’
    5. 2013 – ‘Border Cooperation Agreement’, signed as a sequel to Depsang intrusion by PLA
  • There is no requirement of additional agreements. The moot point is their implementation as these have been violated by the PLA in pursuit of its “Nibble and Negotiate” strategy.
  • In fact, all these agreements have only helped China to consolidate its claims over a period of time by waging a ‘bullet-less’ war.

Virtual Courts or e-Courts

Parliamentary Panel on Law and Justice has recommended continuation of virtual courts even in a post-COVID scenario.

Why?

  • In its report “Functioning of the Virtual Courts/ Courts Proceedings through VideoConferencing”, the panel has argued that transfer of certain categories of cases, like cases pertaining to traffic challans or other petty offences, from regular court establishments to virtual courts will reduce the pendency of cases
  • It has suggested that a full fledged virtual court should be piloted in the first instance. Currently there are 30 million pending cases.

e-Courts Mission Mode Project –

The e-Courts project was launched on the basis of the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary – 2005” submitted by eCommittee, Supreme Court of India with a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT enablement of Courts. The eCourts Mission Mode Project, is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for the District Courts across the country.

Concerns –

  • The panel also sounded a word of caution that infrastructure needs to be upgraded especially in district courts to implement this.
  • Stakeholders including Bar Association members and others who met the committee have noted that the present infrastructure does not support virtual court proceedings. Only 3,477 court rooms are supported with facilities for virtual proceedings while 14,443 are still to be provided with them.
  • In India, almost 50% lawyers, particularly in district courts, do not have any laptop or computer facility.
  • During the recent virtual court hearings, especially during peak hours when many people log into the video-conferencing system, e-courts were subject to frequent crashes of the system and therefore, the entire proceedings can be vitiated by one glitch.
  • There were also concerns that virtual courts will compromise privacy of data as well as confidentiality of discussions and court proceedings. For instance, courts in the United States had to deal with Zoom bombing — an unwanted intrusion by hackers and internet trolls into a video conference call.

A blueprint for e-courts –

  • To achieve the goal of establishing e-courts, the government must establish an effective task force consisting of judges, technologists, court administrators, skill developers and system analysts to draw up a blueprint for institutionalising online access to justice.
  • Such a task force must be charged with the responsibility of establishing hardware, software and IT systems for courts; examining application of artificial intelligence benefiting from the data base generated through e-courts projects; establishing appropriate e-filing systems and procedures; and creating skill training and recognition for paralegals to understand and to help advocates and others to access the system to file their cases and add to their pleadings and documents as the case moves along.
  • Once the blueprint is ready, the High Courts across the country may refer the same to the Rule Committee of the High Court to frame appropriate rules to operationalise the e-court system.

Way forward –

  • This is just one of the myriad ways in which access to justice can be enhanced exponentially while simultaneously reducing the burden on conventional courts.
  • The other facilities that would help access to justice are online mediation, arbitration, counselling in family court matters, quick settlement of disputed insurance claims, and many more.

JK-IGRAMS

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Manoj Sinha has launched the Jammu and Kashmir Integrated Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (JKIGRAMS), in a bid to create an interface with the public and focus on governance issues in the Union Territory.

Details –

  • The system is being launched on a pilot basis in three districts — Jammu, Srinagar, and Reasi — and will gradually be rolled out in the remaining districts by October 2. It will replace the current portal that was launched in 2018.
  • JK-IGRAMS will make the existing mechanism more robust and efficient. There will be a minute by minute status update of the grievances on the portal.
  • District Collectors and Deputy Commissioners will be the primary nodes for receiving, disposing and monitoring grievances.

About CPGRAMS –

  • Centralised Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) is an online web-enabled system over NICNET developed by NIC, in association with Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
  • CPGRAMS is the platform based on web technology which primarily aims to enable submission of grievances by the aggrieved citizens from anywhere and anytime (24×7) basis to Ministries/Departments/Organisations who scrutinise and take action for speedy and favourable redress of these grievances.
  • Tracking grievances is also facilitated on the portal through the system generated unique registration number.

Logistics pacts

After concluding a logistics support agreement with Japan recently, India is now working on three such agreements with Russia, the U.K. and Vietnam.

Following the agreement with Japan, India now has military logistics agreements with all Quad countries, Australia, Japan and the U.S., significantly improving interoperability as they also operate several common military platforms.

More agreements on the card –

  • The agreements with the U.K. and Vietnam are under discussion.
  • The agreement with Russia, the Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS) (to be signed soon) is expected to give India access to Russian facilities in the Arctic region which is seeing increased global activity as new shipping routes open up and resources become available. India had recently announced investments in the Russian Far East.
  • In June 2020, India and Australia signed the long pending Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA), elevated their partnership to Comprehensive Strategic partnership, and also announced a joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The logistics pact with Japan, Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between armed forces, was signed recently. India and Japan have already signed an implementing arrangement for deeper cooperation between the Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF).
  • India has signed several logistics agreements in recent years, beginning with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) with the U.S. in 2016, and the Navy has been the biggest beneficiary of them.

Singapore Convention on Mediation

The Singapore Convention on Mediation came into force recently and will provide a more effective way for enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other countries that are signatories to the Convention.

About the Singapore Convention on Mediation –

  • Also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, this is also the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.
  • With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process.
  • As on September 1, 2020, the Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China and the U.S.
  • Singapore had worked with the UN Commission on International Trade Law, other UN member states and non-governmental organisations for the Convention.

Significance –

  • The harmonised and simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs, which is important for businesses in times of uncertainty.
  • Businesses in India and around the world will now have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation, as the Convention provides a more effective means for mediated outcomes to be enforced.
  • The Convention would boost India’s ‘ease of doing business’ credentials by enabling swift mediated settlements of corporate disputes.

Scramjet Engine

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) performed a major technological feat when it flew a cruise vehicle at a hypersonic speed of Mach six for 20 seconds. The DRDO called the cruise vehicle Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).

The centrepiece of the HSTDV was the indigenously developed air-breathing scramjet engine, which formed the HSTDV’s propulsion system. If the mission’s aim was to prove this scramjet engine in flight, it was achieved.

About the scramjet engine –

  • The critical technologies developed for the HSTDV mission were the scramjet engine and its ignition, sustaining the ignition, ethylene fuel, generation of maximum energy from the engine, development of materials to take care of the high temperatures that occurred due to air friction on the leading edges of the cruiser’s wings, tail surface and nose tip, and controlling the HSTDV with minimum drag and maximum thrust.
  • In a scramjet engine, air from the atmosphere is rammed into the engine’s combustion chamber at a supersonic speed of more than Mach two.
  • In the chamber, the air mixes with the fuel to ignite a supersonic combustion but the cruiser’s flight will be at a hypersonic speed of Mach six to seven. So it is called supersonic combustion ramjet or Scramjet.

Applications –

Mastering the air-breathing scramjet technology will lead to the development of hypersonic missiles, faster civilian air transportation and facilities for putting satellites into orbit at a low cost.

DAILY MCQs

1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘National School of Drama’? 1. It was established as an autonomous organisation of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in the year 1959. 2. It was created under the aegis of Sangeet Natak Akademi but became an independent entity in the year 1975. 3. It is fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Correct! Wrong!

Established in 1959, the National School of Drama is an autonomous organisation, fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. One of the foremost theatre training institutions in the world, NSD had it’s inception under the aegis of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and became an independent entity in 1975. It offers a 3-year, full-time, residential training program in various aspects of theatre. The enviable list of alumni and faculty members have ensured that the institution remains at the helm of performing arts. Along with NSD, New Delhi four centres have been established at Varanasi, Gangtok, Agartala and Bengaluru under consolidation of outreach programme.

2. 'Methane Hydrate' is formed -

Correct! Wrong!

Methane hydrate is formed when hydrogen-bonded water and methane gas come into contact at high pressures and low temperatures in oceans.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about extraction of gas hydrates? 1. The method of depressurisation involves steam injection into the local reservoir outside the hydrate to cause the disassociation of the hydrate and release of gas for collection. 2. Thermal stimulation involves drilling a hole into the layer of the hydrate and reducing the pressure beneath to collect the natural gas. 3. No country in the world has so far developed the technology to produce gas hydrates commercially.

Correct! Wrong!

The natural gas from gas hydrate can be produced via - Depressurisation - Drilling of hole into the layer of hydrate and reducing the pressure beneath. This technique is implemented for hydrates only in polar regions beneath the permafrost. Thermal stimulation - via steam injection, hot brine solution etc. that raises the temperature of the local reservoir outside the hydrate region to cause the dissociation of the hydrate, thus releasing free gas which can be collected. However, no country in the world has so far developed the technology to produce gas hydrates commercially and economically.

4. 'e-Courts Mission Mode Project' was launched by -

Correct! Wrong!

The e-Courts project was launched on the basis of the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary – 2005” submitted by eCommittee, Supreme Court of India with a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT enablement of Courts. The eCourts Mission Mode Project, is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for the District Courts across the country.

5. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Singapore Convention on Mediation’? 1. It is a United Nations Convention that allows corporations to apply directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty. 2. India is not a signatory to the convention.

Correct! Wrong!

The Singapore Convention on Mediation came into force recently and will provide a more effective way for enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other countries that are signatories to the Convention. Also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, this is also the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore. With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process. As on September 1, 2020, the Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China and the U.S. Singapore had worked with the UN Commission on International Trade Law, other UN member states and non-governmental organisations for the Convention.

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