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The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.

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    Current Affairs – 16th December 2021


    • NEWS: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday is learnt to have cleared a Bill on electoral reforms, including the one to link electoral roll with Aadhaar on a voluntary basis to root out multiple enrolments. The Bill is likely to be introduced in the ongoing winter session.
    • DETAILS:
      • According to the Bill, the electoral law will also be made “gender neutral” for service voters.
      • An Army man’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman Army officer’s husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law.
      • But this may change once the Bill gets Parliament’s nod.
      • The poll panel had asked the Law Ministry to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ in the provision in the Representation of the People Act related to service voters.
      • Four days for enrolment
      • Another provision of the proposed Bill will allow the youth to enrol as voters on four different dates every year.
      • As of now, those turning 18 on or before January 1 of every year are only allowed to register as voters.
      • The Election Commission of India (ECI) had been pushing for multiple cut-off dates to allow more eligible people to register as voters.
      • Currently, only an individual who has attained the age of 18 as on January 1 of that year or before is eligible to be enrolled in the voters’ list.
      • The EC had told the Government that the January 1 cut-off date deprives several youth from participating in the electoral exercise held in a particular year.
      • Aadhaar  is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained voluntarily by the citizens of India and resident foreign nationals who have spent over 182 days in twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment, based on their biometric and demographic data.
      • The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the Government of India, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
      • Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as “the most sophisticated ID programme in the world”.
      • Considered a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship, Aadhaar does not itself grant any rights to domicile in India.
      • In June 2017, the Home Ministry clarified that Aadhaar is not a valid identification document for Indians travelling to Nepal and Bhutan.


    • NEWS: The Cabinet has given its approval to extend its umbrella scheme for irrigation, water supply, ground water and watershed development projects for another five years.
      • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana is a national mission to improve farm productivity and ensure better utilization of the resources in the country.
      • The budget of ₹53 billion (US$700 million) in a time span of one year 2015-2016 has been allocated to this scheme.
      • The decision was taken on 1 July 2015 at the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Economic Aproved with an outlay of 50000 crore for period of 5 years(2015-16 to 2019-20).
      • The primary objectives of PMKSY are to attract investments in irrigation system at field level, develop and expand cultivable land in the country, enhance ranch water use in order to minimize wastage of water, enhance crop per drop by implementing water-saving technologies and precision irrigation.
      • The plan additionally calls for bringing ministries, offices, organizations, research and financial institutions occupied with creation and recycling of water under one platform so that an exhaustive and holistic outlook of the whole water cycle is considered.
      • The goal is to open the doors for optimal water budgeting in all sectors. Tagline for PMKSY is “more crop per drop”.
      • The Integrated Watershed Management programme was subsumed into the current PMKSY on 26 October 2015.


    • NEWS: The indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) development programme by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has crossed a milestone by reaching an altitude of 25,000 feet and an endurance of 10 hours, Secretary R&D and DRDO Chairman Dr. Sateesh Reddy said.
    • DETAILS:
      • Within two months, we will demonstrate an altitude of 30,000 feet and 18 hours endurance meeting the requirements of the Services, said Dr. Tessy Thomas, Director General (Aeronautical Systems), DRDO.
      • It has advanced capabilities and meets the requirements of the three Services, Dr. Thomas said. Once the capabilities are demonstrated in two months, it should be ready to be handed to the Services.
      • A programme for a more capable High Altitude Long Range (HALE) UAV is also in the works.
      • It technologically matches contemporary UAVs available and will also be cheaper than the imported ones.
      • With some delays in development, the Rustom-2 last year successfully flew for eight hours at an altitude of 16,000 feet.
      • It has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru with production partners being the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and the Bharat Electronics Limited.
      • It is being developed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles and is capable of carrying different combinations of advanced payload and capable of auto landing among others.
      • High endurance UAVs are a priority requirement for the armed forces especially in the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh.
      • The armed forces rely heavily on the Israeli Searcher and Heron drones and need more such UAVs.
    • Fire-fighting suit
      • Among several systems Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had handed to the Home Ministry over a structural fire-fighting suit developed by DRDO’s Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES).
      • The suit weighing 2.8 kg is an ensemble of several layers, with the outer layer being the most durable and protects against heat, flames, water, chemicals and also against cuts and abrasion, according to the DRDO.
      • Such a suit has been developed for the first time in the country and meets European standards while at the same time lowering import costs.



    • NEWS: The U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday it tested a laser weapon and destroyed a floating target in West Asia, a system that could be used to counter bomb-laden drone boats deployed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.
      • A laser weapon is a directed-energy weapon based on lasers. After decades of R&D, as of January 2020 directed-energy weapons including lasers are still at the experimental stage and it remains to be seen if or when they will be deployed as practical, high-performance military weapons.
      • Atmospheric thermal blooming has been a major problem, still mostly unsolved, and worsened if fog, smoke, dust, rain, snow, smog, foam, or purposely dispersed obscurant chemicals are present. Essentially, a laser generates a beam of light which needs clear air, or a vacuum, to work without thermal blooming.
      • Many types of laser can potentially be used as incapacitating weapons, through their ability to produce temporary or permanent vision loss when aimed at the eyes.
      • The degree, character, and duration of vision impairment caused by eye exposure to laser light varies with the power of the laser, the wavelength(s), the collimation of the beam, the exact orientation of the beam, and the duration of exposure.
      • Lasers of even a fraction of a watt in power can produce immediate, permanent vision loss under certain conditions, making such lasers potential non-lethal but incapacitating weapons.
      • The extreme handicap that laser-induced blindness represents makes the use of lasers even as non-lethal weapons morally controversial, and weapons designed to cause permanent blindness have been banned by the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons.
      • Weapons designed to cause temporary blindness, known as dazzlers, are used by military and sometimes law enforcement organizations.
      • Incidents of pilots being exposed to lasers while flying have prompted aviation authorities to implement special procedures to deal with such hazards.
      • Laser weapons capable of directly damaging or destroying a target in combat are still in the experimental stage.
      • The general idea of laser-beam weaponry is to hit a target with a train of brief pulses of light.