28TH FEBRUARY CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. PSLV-C51

 

News: Indian Space Research Organisation launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C51, with a load of a primary satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC).

Details:

  • The primary satellite that was launched is called Amazonia-1 and it belongs to Brazil. A Brazilian delegation was also present at Satish Dhawan centre for the launch.
  • The total load also included 18 co-passenger satellites Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Sriharikota Range.
  • The 637-kg Amazonia-1 is the optical earth observation satellite of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the research unit of Brazil’s ministry of science.
  • PSLV-C51/Amazonia-1 is the first dedicated commercial mission of New Space India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under the Department of Space.
  • The mission conducted by NSIL comes under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc. USA
  • PSLV-C51 is using the ‘DL’ variant of PSLV equipped with two solid strap-on boosters, according to ISRO.
  • The new satellite will be providing remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region as well as analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory
  • The additional co-passenger satellites include three UNITY sats from the consortium of three Indian academic institutes, one Satish Dhawan Sat from Space Kidz India and 14 from NSIL.
  • ISRO claims that these satellites are intended for providing Radio relay services
  • Initially, the launch was scheduled for 20 satellites besides Amazonia-1. However, two of them were cancelled in the past week or so due to technical reasons

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle

  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India.
  • It is afour-staged launch vehicle with first and third stage using solid rocket motors and second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages. Initially, PSLV had a carrying capacity of 850 kg but has been enhanced to 1.9 tonnes.
  • The PSLV has helped take payloads into almost all the orbits in space including Geo-Stationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), the Moon, Mars and would soon be launching a mission to the Sun.
  • Between 1994 and 2019, the PSLV launched 50 Indian satellites and 222 foreign satellites for over 70 international customers from 20 countries.
  • It has a history of successful launches of payloads that include Chandrayaan-1Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM) and the space recovery mission, etc. The PSLV has failed only twice in its history — the maiden flight of the PSLV D1 in 1993 and the PSLV C-39 in 2017.

2. TRIPS waiver for vaccines

 

News: India and South Africa have jointly moved a proposal at the WTO’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) council for a waiver to help more countries get access to medicines and vaccines during the pandemic.

Details:

  • While 57 WTO members have backed the proposal, the EU, U.S., Japan and Canada have opposed the idea stressing the importance of intellectual property for innovation.
  • India’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) raised concerns that failing to approve the COVID-19 waiver for equitable access to medicines under the TRIPS Agreement could dent global economic output by trillions of dollars at the cost of protecting vaccine makers’ business worth just $30-40 billion.
  • He cautioned that if TRIPS waiver is not delivered, it would come in the way of global growth and livelihoods.
  • India’s WTO representative also pitched for greater market access for agriculture, arguing that developing countries have reduced their tariffs but still face barriers to trade from countries that continue to give high subsidies to large farmers.

Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS):

  • Property Rights of the WTO is commonly known as the TRIPS Agreement.
  • This Agreement was negotiated as part of the eighth round of multilateral trade negotiations in the period 1986-94 under General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) commonly referred to as the Uruguay Round extending from 1986 to 1994.
  • TRIPS deal with 8 kinds of property rights – Patents, Trademarks, trade dress, Copyrights, Industrial Designs, Plant Varieties, Integrated Circuits and layouts, and Geographical Indication.
  • It sets down minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of many forms of intellectual property as applied to the nationals of other WTO member nations

 

3. The Imperfect fight against proliferation

 

News: The Biden administration’s attempts to revive the Iran deal have turned the spotlight on the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Background:

  • IAEA played a key role in enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action from which Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. in 2018.
  • The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, proved that the IAEA can emerge beyond its mandate of being a monitoring and inspection agency and, in fact, play a key role in finding solutions to tense international crises.
  • Apart from dealing with the sovereign states and their pursuit of civil and military nuclear programmes, the IAEA is also active in championing civil nuclear solution. It is active in a number of areas like health – one of the main areas of peaceful application of nuclear know how. It is also active in dealing with climate change, pandemic containment and in prevention of Zoonotic diseases.
  • Recently, the IAEA and Iranian diplomats struck a temporary deal to continue inspection of Iran’s nuclear plants for three more months. This keeps the diplomatic path to revive the deal open.

Issues involved:

  • However, there have always been questions about the Agency’s ability to work independently, without being drawn into big power rivalries.
  • The IAEA has some secrecy around its functions and is accused of not being transparent about its actions .
  • What the IAEA missed in terms of real authority over sovereign states, it compensated for it through the actions of its leadership that kept the issue of non-proliferation on the multilateral table.
  • While it played a key role in providing platform for holding frank discussion about civil nuclear requirement for several countries, it proved to be ineffective to prevent power politics from influencing nuclear negotiations.
  • Pakistan pursued a nuclear weapons programme in the 1980s and despite overwhelming evidence in possession of the American authorities; they did not pursue the case effectively through the IAEA because of the cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan on the Afghan front.
  • The IAEA’s lack of enforcement capability was hinted by El Baradei who had observed that IAEA had uneven authority as it does not have any power to override the sovereign rights of any member nation of the UN.
  • The uneven authority produced results when in the case of Iran when the Agency’s efforts were backed by big powers. The same is not true for North Korea.
  • The IAEA was the first to announce that the North Korean nuclear programme was not peaceful.
  • North Korea finally expelled IAEA observers and as a result, there are no on-the-ground international inspectors in North Korea.
  • The world is reliant on ground sensors and satellite imageries to observe North Korea’s nuclear actions.
  • Major criticism of the IAEA is that it never challenges the nuclear dominance of the five permanent members of the UNSC, who themselves hold some of the biggest nuclear arsenals of the world.
  • The days to come will test the ability of the IAEA to deal with powerful states from its position of uneven authority. Tying all the loose ends of difficult negotiation with respect to the Iran Nuclear deal will be the biggest challenge for all parties.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

  • IAEA was set up as an autonomous organisation on July 29, 1957, at the height of the Cold War.
  • Though established independently of the UN through its own international treaty, the Agency reports to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council
  • As the preeminent nuclear watchdog under the UN, the IAEA is entrusted with the task of upholding the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.
  • IAEA claims that it “works with its member states and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies”.