Prelims Booster

18th May – Prelims Booster

Monsoon 2020

The National Weather Forecasting Centre of the Indian Meteorological Department has come out with the forecast of Monsoon onset over Kerala. This year the onset of the southwest monsoon over Kerala is likely to be slightly delayed as compared to normal date of onset of 1st June. The monsoon onset over Kerala this year is likely to be on 5th June with a model error of 4 days( +/-).

What is ‘monsoon’?

Out of a total of 4 seasonal divisions of India, monsoon occupy 2 divisions, namely.

  • The southwest monsoon season – Rainfall received from the southwest monsoons is seasonal in character, which occurs between June and September.
  • The retreating monsoon season – The months of October and November are known for retreating monsoons.

Monsoon prediction by IMD –

  • IMD brands the monsoon as ‘normal’ or ‘deficient’ based on how it fares against its benchmark Long Period Average (LPA).
  • LPA is the average rainfall received by the country as a whole during the south-west monsoon, for a 50-year period.
  • Deficient rainfall – The country is said to have received deficient rainfall if the actual rainfall falls below 90 per cent of LPA.
  • Excess rainfall – The country is said to have received excess rainfall if the rainfall is greater than 110 per cent of LPA.
  • Normal rainfall – It is deemed ‘normal’ when the actual rainfall received falls between 96 and 104 per cent of LPA. The IMD has recently changed the definition of a “normal” monsoon by reducing average rainfall received during rainy season from 89 cms to 88 cms.

How predictions are made?

The 6 Predictors used in the models are –

  1. Minimum Temperatures over North-west India,
  2. Pre-monsoon rainfall peak over south Peninsula,
  3. Outgoing Long wave Radiation (OLR) over South China Sea,
  4. Lower tropospheric zonal wind over southeast Indian Ocean,
  5. upper tropospheric zonal wind over the east equatorial Indian Ocean, and
  6. Outgoing Long wave Radiation (OLR)over the south-west Pacific region.

About Indian Meteorological Department – 

  • IMD was established in 1875.
  • It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.

Y2K Bug

The Y2K bug was a computer flaw, or bug, that may have caused problems when dealing with dates beyond December 31, 1999. The flaw, faced by computer programmers and users all over the world on January 1, 2000, is also known as the “millennium bug.”

Why it was called Y2K bug?

The letter K, which stands for kilo (a unit of 1000), is commonly used to represent the number 1,000. So, Y2K stands for Year 2000.

What was the problem?

  • When complicated computer programs were being written during the 1960s through the 1980s, computer engineers used a two-digit code for the year. The “19” was left out. Instead of a date reading 1970, it read 70. Engineers shortened the date because data storage in computers was costly and took up a lot of space.
  • As the year 2000 approached, computer programmers realised that computers might not interpret 00 as 2000, but as 1900. Activities that were programmed on a daily or yearly basis would be damaged or flawed. As December 31, 1999, turned into January 1, 2000, computers might interpret December 31, 1999, turning into January 1, 1900.

Whom did it affect the most?

  • Banks, which calculate interest rates on a daily basis, faced real problems. Interest rates are the amount of money a lender, such as a bank, charges a customer, such as an individual or business, for a loan. Instead of the rate of interest for one day, the computer would calculate a rate of interest for minus almost 100 years!
  • Centres of technology, such as power plants, were also threatened by the Y2K bug. Power plants depend on routine computer maintenance for safety checks, such as water pressure or radiation levels. Not having the correct date would throw off these calculations and possibly put nearby residents at risk.
  • Transportation also depends on the correct time and date. Airlines in particular were put at risk, as computers with records of all scheduled flights would be threatened after all, there were very few airline flights in 1900.

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently mentioned India’s productive role in resolving the Y2K bug at the start of the 21st century.

Young Entrepreneur Award 2020

Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), Gurgaon has invited nominations for INAE Young Entrepreneur Award 2020.

Details –

  • The award would carry a citation and a cash prize of Rs 2 lakhs to the selected individual candidate or to be shared by the group of individuals not exceeding three persons.
  • The award presented to upto two candidates in a year has been instituted to encourage and recognise innovation and entrepreneurship among young engineers. Engineering innovations and concepts that have been actually realised and implemented in the industry either in new processes or products are preferred, and Indian citizens not older than 45 years as on 1st of January 2020 are eligible for consideration.

About Indian National Academy of Engineering –

  • Indian National Academy of Engineering, Gurgaon is an autonomous institution under the Department of Science and Technology.
  • The Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), founded in 1987 comprises India’s most distinguished engineers, engineer-scientists and technologists covering the entire spectrum of engineering disciplines.
  • INAE functions as an apex body and promotes the practice of engineering & technology and the related sciences for their application to solving problems of national importance.
  • The Academy also provides a forum for futuristic planning for country’s development requiring engineering and technological inputs and brings together specialists from such fields as may be necessary for comprehensive solutions to the needs of the country.
  • INAE’s activities include programmes on issues of technology policy and overall development for the benefit of society, and the Academy promotes research projects, pilot studies, engineering education, fellowships, scholarships, awards and other benefactions.

Energy Transition Index

The Energy Transition Index (ETI) is a fact-based ranking intended to enable policy-makers and businesses to plot the course for a successful energy transition. The ETI does not only benchmark countries on their current energy system performance, but also provides a forward‑looking lens as it measures their readiness for the energy transition.

Who releases this index?

World Economic Forum releases this index. It is built on its predecessor, the Energy Architecture Performance Index.

India’s performance –

  • India has shown improvements on all key parameters of economic growth, energy security and environmental sustainability.
  • India has moved up two places to rank 74th in the year 2020.
  • Gains have come from a government-mandated renewable energy expansion programme, now extended to 275 GW by 2027.
  • India has also made significant strides in energy efficiency through bulk procurement of LED bulbs, smart meters, and programs for labelling of appliances.

Lightweight Carbon Foam

Dr Rajeev Kumar from CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute, Bhopal, a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award instituted by the Department of Science and Technology is developing porous carbon materials which have the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries.

Details –

  • The present grid-scale energy-storage sector is dominated by lithium-ion batteries, because of their higher energy density & specific power and long cycle life. However, there are some serious concerns regarding Li-ion batteries, such as safety risk, limited resource supply, high cost, and lack of recycling infrastructure.
  • This necessitates the development of an alternative battery system with lower environmental concerns, economic and higher energy density.
  • As a result, lead-acid batteries are still one of the most reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly options. However, electrodes in the lead-acid batteries suffer from the problem of heavyweight, corrosion, poor thermal stability, and diffusion of electrolytes in one dimension, which ultimately affects the output power.

How carbon foam is a better alternative?

  • The lightweight carbon foam is highly resistive to corrosion, has good electrical and thermal conductivity with high surface area, and have recently attracted a lot of attention owing to their potential applications in various field.
  • The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available everywhere, and there is no requirement of any costly equipment for the fabrication of carbon foam and filtration. Such materials can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.

Significance –

  • It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage and electrode for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.
  • The carbon foam developed under the INSPIRE fellowship will also be cost-effective for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water. These carbon foams are non-toxic, easy to fabricate, affordable, and insoluble in water. The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available everywhere, and there is no requirement of any costly equipment for the fabrication of carbon foam and filtration. Such materials can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.

About INSPIRE Faculty Scheme –

  • INSPIRE Faculty Scheme opens up an ‘Assured Opportunity for Research Career (AORC)’ for young researchers in the age group of 27-32 years.
  • It is expected to augment high quality scientific manpower in scientific and educational institutions.
  • It provides attractive opportunities to young achievers for developing independent scientific profiles and intends helping them emerge as S&T leaders in the long term.
  • The Scheme offers contractual research positions.
  • It provides career opportunities, but it is not a guarantee for tenure positions after 5 years.

Goal Programme

Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has launched the “GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)” programme in partnership with Facebook.

About the GOAL Programme –

  • The GOAL programme is designed to provide mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode.
  • The digitally enabled program envisages to act as a catalyst to explore hidden talents of the tribal youth, which will help in their personal development as well as contribute to all-round upliftment of their society.
  • The program intends to upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths in the current phase to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international markets.
  • The programme has been designed with a long term vision to develop the potential of tribal youth and women to help them acquire skills and knowledge through mentorship in various sectors including horticulture, food processing, bee keeping, tribal art and culture, medicinal herbs, entrepreneurship among others.
  • Starting with 5000, the programme can be extended to cover any number of tribal persons who show keen interest in being mentored to achieve their goals.

What is planned?

  • In this program, 5000 scheduled tribe youth (to be called as ‘Mentees’) will get an excellent opportunity to get training by experts from different disciplines and fields (to be called as ‘Mentors’).
  • There will be 1 mentor for 2 mentees. The program aims to enable Scheduled Tribe (ST) youth in remote areas to use digital platforms for sharing their aspirations, dreams and talent with their mentors.
  • All the selected mentees will be provided with smartphones and Internet access (for one year) by Facebook along with exposure to various external forums that will give opportunity to the participants to showcase their entrepreneurial skills and leadership abilities.

Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme

In order to give a boost to domestic defence and aerospace manufacturing, Raksha Mantri has approved the launch of ‘Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS)’ with an outlay of Rs 400 crore for creating state of the art testing infrastructure for this sector.

About Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme –

  • The Scheme would run for the duration of five years and envisages to setup six to eight new test facilities in partnership with private industry.
  • This will facilitate indigenous defence production, consequently reduce imports of military equipment and help make the country self-reliant.
  • The projects under the Scheme will be provided with up to 75 percent government funding in the form of ‘Grant-in-Aid’.
  • The remaining 25 per cent of the project cost will have to be borne by the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) whose constituents will be Indian private entities and State Governments.
  • The SPVs under the Scheme will be registered under Companies Act 2013 and shall also operate and maintain all assets under the Scheme, in a self-sustainable manner by collecting user charges.
  • The equipment/systems tested will be certified as per appropriate accreditation.
  • While majority of test facilities are expected to come up in the two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs), the Scheme is not limited to setting up Test Facilities in the DICs only.


The World Health Organisation has said that like HIV, the novel coronavirus could become endemic and ‘may never go away’, and urged for a “massive effort” to contain the spread of COVID-19.

What is an ‘endemic disease’?

  • According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a disease is endemic when its presence or usual prevalence in the population is constant.
  • When the cases begin to rise, it is classified as an epidemic.
  • If this epidemic has been recorded in several countries and areas, it is called a pandemic.
  • Some examples of endemics include the chicken pox and malaria, where there are predictable number of cases every year in certain parts of the world.

What happens when a disease become endemic?

  • According to an article published in the journal Science, when epidemics become endemic, they become “increasingly tolerated” and the responsibility of protecting against it shifts from the government to the individual.
  • This means, rather than government agencies actively engaging in tracking and identifying cases, the individuals themselves will be responsible for managing risk from the disease and seeking care.
  • Further, the sociopolitical response to the disease may also change, with investment in the disease becoming institutionalised along with the disease-inducing behavioural changes in people. Once people become aware of the risks of infection, they will alter their behaviour and mitigate the consequences.

International Day of Light

The United Nations marks the International Day of Light (IDL) – an annual initiative held globally to raise awareness on the critical role played by light-based technologies in everyday life – on May 16th.

What is special about the date?

  • The day selected, May 16, marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman.
  • The IDL is administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of UNESCO, and its Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) at Trieste, Italy.

Significance –

The IDL highlights the contribution of such technologies in various avenues such as science, technology, art, and culture, thus helping achieve the UNESCO goals of education, equality, and peace.

Why is it celebrated?

According to lightday.org, the major objectives of the IDL include –

  • Improve the public understanding of how light and light-based technologies touch the daily lives of everybody, and are central to the future development of the global society.
  • Highlight and explain the intimate link between light and art and culture, enhancing the role of optical technology to preserve cultural heritage.
  • Emphasise the importance of basic research in the fundamental science of light, the need for investment in light-based technology to develop new applications, and the global necessity to promote careers in science and engineering in these fields.
  • Promote the importance of lighting technology and the need for access to light and energy infrastructure in sustainable development, and for improving quality of life in the developing world.

Daily MCQs

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