Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 06 January 2023

'Unprecedented' Winter Heat Wave

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Several parts of Europe witnessed an unprecedented winter heat wave over New Year’s weekend; the continent is experiencing an extreme warm spell because of the formation of a heat dome over the region.

What is a heat dome?

  1. A heat dome occurs when an area of high-pressure traps warm air over a region, just like a lid on a pot, for an extended period of time.
  2. The longer that air remains trapped, the more the sun works to heat the air, producing warmer conditions with every passing day.
  3. Heat domes generally stay for a few days but sometimes they can extend up to weeks, which might cause deadly heat waves.
  4. Scientists suggest that any region of high pressure, whether a heat dome or not, forces air to sink and once it reaches the ground, it gets compressed and becomes even warmer.
  5. Moreover, when air sinks, it gets drier and further raises the temperature of the area.

What is the relationship between heat domes and the jet stream?

  1. The heat dome’s formation is related to the behaviour of the jet stream — an area of fast-moving air high in the atmosphere.
  2. The jet stream is believed to have a wave-like pattern that keeps moving from north to south and then north again.
  3. When these waves get bigger and elongated, they move slowly and sometimes can become stationary. This is when a high-pressure system gets stuck and leads to the occurrence of a heat dome.
  4. Although heat domes are likely to have always existed, researchers say that climate change may be making them more intense and longer.
  5. They suggest with the rising temperatures, it is expected that the jet stream will become wavier and will have larger deviations, causing more frequent extreme heat events.


High-power Ladakh committee

GS Paper -2 (States-UT)

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) constituted a high-powered committee for the Union Territory of Ladakh. The committee will discuss measures to protect the region’s unique culture and language taking into consideration its geographical location and strategic importance. It will ensure protection of land and employment for the people of Ladakh, strategise inclusive development and discuss issues related to the empowerment of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill District Councils of Leh and Kargil.

Why was the committee formed?

  1. It is because the civil society groups in Ladakh have been demanding protection of land, resources and employment for the past three years after the special status of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  2. Due to fear of big businesses and conglomerates taking away land and jobs from the local people have contributed to this demand.

What is the sixth schedule?

  1. The sixth schedule under Article 244 of the Constitution protects the autonomy of tribal populations through creation of autonomous development councils which can frame laws on land, public health and agriculture.
  2. As of now ten autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  3. As per the 2011 Census, the total population of Ladakh was 2, 74,289, and nearly 80% of them are tribals.

Past Development:

  1. In 2020, the Peoples Movement for Constitutional safeguard under the sixth schedule or the Apex Body, Leh was formed.
  2. They announced that they would boycott the upcoming district autonomous council elections if their demands were not met.
  3. In the same year, the Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) from the two districts of Leh and Kargil in Ladakh came together to jointly fight for constitutional safeguards for the region.
  4. On August 2, 2022, the two bodies renewed their demand to seek full Statehood for Ladakh. The UT has shut down at least twice and protested several occasions in the past three years over these demands.


India to send aquanauts under sea:

GS Paper -3 (Technology)

This year India will send three explorers to a depth of 500 metres under the sea in an indigenously built vessel, Samudrayaan. Engineers at the National Institute of Ocean Technology in Chennai have already designed the steel sphere that will house the aquanauts for their journey.

More about the news

  1. The plan to send the Samudrayaan to 6,000 metres deep into the sea could be delayed due to difficulty in procuring the titanium sphere capable of with-standing pressure at those depths.
  2. It is because a steel sphere can withstand pressure up to a depth of 500 metres, but will crumple as it cruises deeper, making titanium as the metal of choice.

Samudrayaan Mission:

  1. It is aimed to develop a self-propelled manned submersible to carry 3 human beings to a water depth of 6000 meters in a vehicle called ‘MATSYA 6000’ for the exploration of deep sea resources like minerals with a suite of scientific sensors and tools for deep ocean exploration.
  2. It has an endurance of 12 hours of operational period and 96 hours in case of emergency.
  3. The manned submersible will allow scientific personnel to observe and understand unexplored deep sea areas by direct interventions.
  4. Apart from the scientific research and technological empowerment as the benefits, this mission has immediate spin-offs in the form of underwater engineering innovations in asset inspection, tourism and promotion of ocean literacy.
  5. It will enhance the capability for deep sea man rated vehicle development. The projected timeline is five years for the period 2020-2021 to 2025-2026.
  6. With the launch of this Unique Ocean Mission, India joins the elite club of nations such as USA, Russia, Japan, France and China, to have such underwater vehicles for carrying out subsea activities. 
  7. Deep ocean exploration of the non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides and cobalt crusts, located at a depth between 1000 and 5500 meters.


ISRO-Microsoft to support space-tech startups

GS Paper -3 (Technology)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Microsoft announced a collaboration to fuel the growth of space technology startups in the country.Through this tie-up, the space tech start-ups identified by ISRO will be on-boarded onto the Microsoft for Start-ups Founders Hub' platform, that supports startups at every stage of their journey-from idea to unicorn.


More about the news

  1. This collaboration will greatly benefit space tech startups in their analysis and processing of vast amounts of satellite data for various applications, using cutting-edge methods like AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning.
  2. They will also jointly organise knowledge sharing and thought leadership sessions for the startups with space industry experts.
  3. The government has opened up the space sector for private players. The country has more than 100 active startups in the space-tech sector.
  4. The partnership would help empower space tech start-ups across the country with technology tools and platforms, go-to-market support and mentoring to help them scale and become enterprise-ready.


Role of Microsoft


  1. Through 'Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub', space-tech start-up founders in India will have free access to the tech tools, and resources they need to build and run their business.
  2. This includes technical support to build and scale on Azure, best-in-class developer and productivity tools including GitHub Enterprise.
  3. Through these technology tools, platforms and mentorship opportunities, we are deeply committed to empowering space tech startups in the country to drive cutting edge innovation and accelerate scientific discovery.
  4. It will also provide mentoring support to space tech entrepreneurs in areas ranging from space engineering to cloud technologies, product and design, fundraising and sales and marketing.
  5. The founders will have access to Microsoft Learn for tailored start-up centric training content and programmes to help them build connections with the industry and potential customers.


Start-ups in India:

  1. The Indian government defines a start-up as an entity less than seven years young with an annual turnover of less than 250 million rupees and headquartered in India.
  2. It is an initiative by the country’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion helps build a positive, effective ecosystem in the country, turning business ideas into a reality for a flourishing start-up environment.
  3. India has the 3rd largest start-up ecosystem in the world; expected to witness YoY growth of a consistent annual growth of 12-15%.
  4. India has about 50,000 startups in India in 2018; around 8,900 – 9,300 of these are technology led startups 1300 new tech startups were born in 2019 alone implying there are 2-3 tech startups born every day.
  5. Bangalore has been listed within the world’s 20 leading start-up cities in the 2019 Start-up Genome Project ranking. It is also ranked as one of the world’s five fastest growing start-up cities