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eKuhipath Daily Current Affairs Analysis I July 14, 2021

GS M Paper III

Indian Economy/Government Borrowing

  1. RBI launches ‘RBI Retail Direct’ scheme
  • The Reserve Bank issued a scheme ‘RBI Retail Direct’, a one-stop solution to facilitate investment in government securities by individual investors.
  • As part of continuing efforts to increase retail participation in government securities, ‘the RBI Retail Direct’ facility was announced in February 2021.

Objective

  • It is aimed for improving ease of access by retail investors through online access to the government securities market – both primary and secondary – along with the facility to open their gilt securities account (‘Retail Direct’) with the RBI.

Additional information

  • Retail Investor is a non-professional investor who buys and sells securities or funds that contain a basket of securities such as mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
  • A Gilt Account can be compared with a bank account, except that the account is debited or credited with treasury bills or government securities instead of money.
  • RDG accounts can be opened through an online portal provided for the purpose of the scheme.
  • The online portal will give registered users access to primary issuance of G-secs and access to Negotiated Dealing System-Order Matching system (NDS-OM).
  • The RBI introduced the NDS-OM in August 2005. It is an electronic, screen based, anonymous, order driven trading system for dealing in G-secs.

Prelims Bit:

  1. After Singapore, Bhutan adopts India’s BHIM-UPI:
  • Bhutan has become the first country to adopt India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) standards for its quick response (QR) code.
  • It is also the second country after Singapore to have BHIM-UPI acceptance at merchant locations.
  • Bhutan will also become the only country to both issue and accept RuPay cards as well as accept BHIM-UPI.
  • The payment system was launched by NPCI International Payments Ltd. (NIPL), the international arm of National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), in partnership with the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) of Bhutan.

Bharat Interface for Money-Unified Payments Interface (BHIM-UPI):

  • BHIM is developed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • It is an initiative to enable fast, secure, reliable cashless payments through the mobile phone launched in December, 2016.
  • BHIM is based on Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to facilitate e-payments directly through banks.
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system, allowing users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts without disclosing details of one’s bank account to the other party.
  1. How lightning strikes?
  • At least 30 people were killed in separate incidents of lightning in various parts of the country in the past 24 hours. This includes Rajasthan, UP and MP.
  • India sees 2,000-2,500 lightning deaths every year on average.
  • Lightning is the biggest contributor to accidental deaths due to natural causes. And yet, lightning remains among the least studied atmospheric phenomena in India.

What is lightning, and how does it strike?

  • Lightning is a very rapid — and massive — discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, some of which is directed towards the Earth’s surface.
  • These discharges are generated in giant moisture-bearing clouds that are 10-12 km tall. The base of these clouds typically lies within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface, while their top is 12-13 km away.
  • Temperatures towards the top of these clouds are in the range of minus 35 to minus 45 degrees Celsius.
  • As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, the falling temperature causes it to condense. Heat is generated in the process, which pushes the molecules of water further up.
  • As they move to temperatures below zero degrees celsius, the water droplets change into small ice crystals. They continue to move up, gathering mass — until they are so heavy that they start to fall to Earth.
  • This leads to a system in which, simultaneously, smaller ice crystals are moving up and bigger crystals are coming down.
  • Collisions follow, and trigger the release of electrons — a process that is very similar to the generation of sparks of electricity. As the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction ensues.
  • This process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged, while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge — of the order of a billion to 10 billion volts. In very little time, a massive current, of the order of 100,000 to a million amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • An enormous amount of heat is produced, and this leads to the heating of the air column between the two layers of the cloud.
  • This heat gives the air column a reddish appearance during lightning. As the heated air column expands, it produces shock waves that result in thunder.

How this current reaches the Earth

  • While the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, it is electrically neutral. However, in comparison to the middle layer of the cloud, it becomes positively charged. As a result, about 15%-20% of the current gets directed towards the Earth as well.
  • There is a greater probability of lightning striking tall objects such as trees, towers or buildings. Once it is about 80-100 m from the surface, lightning tends to change course towards these taller objects.
  • This happens because air is a poor conductor of electricity, and electrons that are travelling through air seek both a better conductor and the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
  1. Suborbital Flight
  • Recently, a six person crew on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceship undertook a brief trip to the “edge of space” and reaching an altitude of 85 km from Earth before returning which is known as Suborbital Flight.
  • Sirisha Bandla, an astronaut born in India, was a part of the crew. She was the third woman of Indian origin to go to space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
  • Virgin Galactic is a British-American spaceflight company, operating in the United States.

What’s suborbital?

  • When an object travels at a horizontal speed of about 28,000 km/hr or more, it goes into orbit once it is above the atmosphere.
  • Satellites need to reach that threshold speed in order to orbit Earth. Such a satellite would be accelerating towards the Earth due to gravity, but its horizontal movement is fast enough to offset the downward motion so that it moves along a circular path.
  • Any object travelling slower than 28,000 km/hr must eventually return to Earth.
  • However, VSS Unity spaceship travelled far enough, to reach the “edge of space”. These are suborbital flights, because they will not be travelling fast enough to orbit Earth once they reach there.
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