Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation – 20 September 2017

First AICTE-ECI Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards -2017

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Engineering Council of India (ECI), felicitated the award winners of “AICTE-ECI Chhatra Vishwakrma Awards” of AICTE approved Degree & Diploma level Technical Institutions/Universities in New Delhi. Dr Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India was the Chief guest on the occasion.

The ‘AICTE-ECI Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards’ are an epitome for motivating individuals and institutions/ organizations to raise their performance in their specific domains leading to significant contribution towards the growth & development of the nation. These Awards are given in following categories separately for Degree and Diploma Students (including students from AICTE approved Community College) for providing an innovative solution “To convert existing institutes into smart institute using innovative approaches:

Category-I: Outstanding Student Engineers (3 Awards each in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics Engineering, Computer Science and Biotechnology streams or their allied branches)

Category-II: Outstanding Teachers Awards (3 Awards each in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics Engineering, Computer Science and Biotechnology streams or their allied branches)

Category-III: Outstanding Institutions Awards (3 Awards) based on the maximum number of awards won from the above two categories and other criteria.


China, Russia begins naval drills

China and Russia began naval drills near North Korea amid continuing tensions over the isolated state’s nuclear ambitions and ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting this week, where North Korea is likely to loom large.

North Korea had launched a missile over Japan last week, its second in the past three weeks, and has conducted its sixth and by far most powerful nuclear test on September 3 in defiance of international pressure.

The joint exercises will take place between Peter the Great Bay, just outside of the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok—not far from the Russia–North Korea border—and into the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk which is to the north of Japan. The drills are the second part of China–Russian naval exercises this year, the first part of which took place in the Baltic in July.

A week ago, the 15 member UN Security Council unanimously adopted its ninth sanctions resolution since 2006 over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Pyongyang has launched dozens of missiles as it accelerates a weapons programme designed to provide the ability to target the United States with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile.


Pune NGO for women farmers wins UN equator Prize

Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), a Pune-based non-governmental organisation working among women farmers, has won this year’s UN Equator Prize. SSP is the only Indian organisation among the 15 winners that were chosen from 800-odd entries. The award recognises SSP’s initiative to empower over 20,000 women farmers from the impoverished Marathwada region in Maharashtra.

Through these farmers, SSP has been promoting climate-resilient agro-ecological farming that addresses many issues relating to sustainable development, such as food security, income security and natural resource management. The prize was received by Godavari Dange and Kamal Kumbhar, two women farmers from Osmanabad district, at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

SSP’s climate-resilient farming model works by giving cultivation rights of a small piece of land, which is usually half or one acre, to women from marginal families. Subsequently, they are trained in climate-friendly farming practices such as use of biofertilisers and biopesticides, preservation or exchange of locally available seeds, and diversification from single to multiple food crops that are water-efficient.

The initiative not only helped to convert 12,000 acre of dry land into bio farms, but also reduced the cost of cultivation by 40 per cent and increased the yield per acre by 25 per cent. Last year, SSP won UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activity Award for this initiative.

The Equator Prize recognizes outstanding local and indigenous community initiatives from across the planet that are advancing innovative on-the-ground solutions to climate, environment and poverty challenges.


New type of washable solar cell developed

Scientists have developed a new type of water-proof solar cell which can provide electricity even after being soaked in water or stretched and compressed.

The finding could open the way for wearable solar cells, which will provide power to devices such as health monitors incorporated into clothing. These could include sensors that record heartbeats and body temperature, for example, providing early warning of medical problems.

Researchers, including those from the University of Tokyo in Japan, developed extremely thin and flexible organic photovoltaic cells, coated on both sides with stretchable and waterproof films, based on a material called PNTz4T. They deposited the device in an inverse architecture onto a one-micrometre-thick parylene film. The ultra-thin device was then placed onto acrylic-based elastomer and the top side of the device was coated with an identical elastomer, giving it a coating on both sides to prevent water infiltration. The elastomer, while allowing light to enter, prevented water and air from leaking into the cells, making them more long-lasting than previous experiments.

The researchers then subjected the device to a variety of tests, finding first that it had a strong energy efficiency.