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Indian Express Editorials & Explained-03/07/2020

Explained: From Pinaka to Astra, the new weapons DAC has approved ‘for defence of borders’

Central Theme- the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajanth Singh on Thursday cleared several proposals worth close to Rs 39,000 crore that will boost the combat capabilities of all three services—Army, Navy and the Air Force.

The most prominent of these proposals include missile systems for the three services, and additional fighter jets for the Air Force. The aircraft will be bought from Russia, and also from the domestic Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Pinaka missile system for the Army

  • It will enable raising additional regiments over and above the ones already inducted. It is an all-weather, indirect fire, free flight artillery rocket system, according to the DRDO.
  • The Pinaka weapon system consists of Rocket, Multi Barrel Rocket launcher, Battery Command Post, Loader cum Replenishment Vehicle, Replenishment Vehicle and Digicora MET Radar.

Astra Missiles for Navy and Air Force

  • Astra Missiles, with Beyond Visual Range capability will serve as a force multiplier and immensely add to the strike capability of Navy and Air Force.
  • The BVR class of Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) system designed to be mounted on fighter aircraft.
  • The missile has all weather day and night capability.
  • The missile is being developed in multiple variants to meet specific requirements.
  • The ASTRA Mk-I Weapon System integrated with SU-30 Mk-I aircraft is being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).

MIG 29 & Su-30 MKI Fighter jets

  • To address the long felt need of the Indian Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons, the DAC approved procurement of 21 MIG-29 from Russia. It is a twin-engine, multirole fighter jets, developed by the Soviets in 1970s, but has been upgraded since.
  • Russia will also upgrade existing 59 Mig-29 aircraft of India. The deal will cost Rs 7,418 crore.
  • Government will also buy 12 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at an estimated cost of Rs 10,730 crore.

Development of Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile Systems (LRLACM) for Navy and Air Force

It is aimed at enhancing India’s firing range from between 400 km and 500 km of the Brahmos to 1000 km. presently, lead in projects have developed, demonstrated and matured critical cruise missile technologies such as aerodynamic configuration, vertical launch using solid booster, thrust vector control system, booster separation, in-flight wing deployment, in-flight engine start and long range way-point navigation system”.

Explained: Defining containment zones

Central Theme- Demarcation of containment zones serves the same purpose as lockdown and classification of districts, but at a more micro level. A look at how the criteria vary from state to state, city to city.

What are containment zones?

  • The lockdown, implemented in five phases, worked at the national level, while the classification of red, orange and green districts operated at the state and inter-district levels. Demarcation of containment zones is done within a town, village, or municipal or panchayat area.
  • Neighbourhoods, colonies, or housing societies where infected people live are sealed, and access is restricted.
  • Containment zones are where the restrictions on movement and interaction are the most severe. In many cities, the entire demarcated area is barricaded and the entry and exit points closed. Only the very basic supplies and services are allowed inside.

Who defines the containment zones?

It is the district, town or panchayat authorities that decide which areas have to be marked as containment zones, how large they would be, and what kind of restrictions would apply. The rules for the national lockdown, for example, were set by the central government, while the state governments decided what restrictions to impose on districts.

How are they demarcated?

The parameters used are similar, but the exact criteria applied varies, and usually depends on local conditions.

As of now, in Delhi, a containment zone is declared if three or more infections are detected. In Gurgaon, if five positive cases emerge within a 1-km radius, that area is desginated a containment zone. In Noida, an area within a radius of 250 m, or one floor of a building, is declared a containment zone, even if one person is found positive.

Explained: Why the high price of diesel is a dampener for a rural-led economic recovery

Central Theme- A more than 11/litre jump in the price of the fuel, used for powering tractors, combines and irrigation pumps, will offset any gains to farmers from higher MSPs.

Upside Risk

There are two factors inducing farmers to increase plantings and invest more in productivity-enhancing inputs.

  • The first is the monsoon: Last year, rainfall in June was 32% below the “normal” long-period average for the month. This time, the country has not only received 17.6% above-normal precipitation in June
  • Second is the surplus rains right from the second half of 2019 has led to a significant recharging of groundwater tables along with the filling of dam reservoirs to near capacity.

Downside Risk

  • There is one potential dampener, though. And that has to do with diesel prices. Since June 6, retail prices of this fuel used for powering tractors, harvester combines and irrigation pumps have gone up more than Rs 11 per litre (from Rs 69.39 to Rs 80.53 in Delhi).
  • Most small farmers in use diesel engines, as they do not have and cannot afford electric tube-well connection for submersible pumps
  • The Narendra Modi government, on June 1, hiked the MSP of the 2020-21 paddy crop from Rs 1,815 to Rs 1,868 per quintal for common and from Rs 1,835 to Rs 1,888 for Grade ‘A’ varieties. To the extent that the Rs 53/quintal MSP increase is offset by the extra Rs 15-31 outgo on diesel – similar calculations can be made for other crops – it could act as a sentiment dampener.
  • And that’s not-so-good news in the present scenario, when all hopes of an economic recovery are being laid on agriculture and rural consumption.

Explained: Why is trouble brewing around the Statue of Unity in Gujarat?

Central Theme- The Statue of Unity (SoU) site in Kevadia village is in the spotlight again, after the Gujarat government tightened vigil around it to prevent villagers from protesting by farming on land acquired by it for building various infrastructure to boost tourism.

The villages that protested in May and June when SSNNL began fencing the land after the Gujarat High Court dismissed their petitions, include Vaghadiya, Kevadia and Kothi.

The background

  • The Gujarat government had originally acquired the land in 1961, for the construction of the Narmada dam canal and subsequently transferred possession to SSNNL, a wholly-owned Gujarat government public limited company that was incorporated in March 1989 to execute and manage the Sardar Sarovar Dam project.
  • SSNNL was part of the trust that built the 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on behalf of the government of Gujarat and continues to manage the structure.
  • Although the SSNNL has almost completed the fencing of the land, about 250 original landholders and their heirs are yet to accept the compensation offered by the SSNNL.

What villagers argue

  • The villagers of Limdi, Kevadia, Vagadiya, Navagam, Kothi and Gora say that the government had acquired the land 59 years back, for the building of the Sardar Sarovar dam, but is now intending to put the land to use for other commercial purposes and not for the dam, which is why the SSNNL claim on the should be invalidated.
  • The six villages filed a PIL in Gujarat High Court protesting the acquisition and calling the compensation offered “meagre”. The HC dismissed their petition in May, after which the SSNNL began fencing the land.

Explained Ideas: How to keep China at bay

Central Theme- The talks between the Indian Army and PLA commanders hold the promise of a phased disengagement of forces on the LAC. But considering the reported PLA build-up, it is too early to predict whether this will lead to de-escalation.

  • localised tactical actions have enormous potential to create strategic effects
  • India will need to respond at multiple places to send a strong message
  • India must build on a politico-diplomatic-military-intelligence framework for negotiations.

Explained: What did it take for the Indian Railways to achieve 100% punctuality?

Central Theme- The Indian Railways has announced that it achieved 100 per cent punctuality of its passenger trains on July 1, a never-before feat. Its previous best on-time performance, according to the Railways, was 99.54 per cent on June 23, when just one train got delayed.

Is this a big deal?

  • This is no mean achievement – it is indeed not an easy ask given all the constraints that the Railways usually face while running a train on its designated path and time slot.
  • The 100 per cent punctuality on July 1 has been achieved when the network is running just 230 passenger trains – along with about 3,000 loaded freight trains and 2,200 empty ones.

Why do trains get delayed, anyway?

There are a number of reasons, which is also why the achievement of the Railways is significant.

  • There are unforeseen situations such as a failure of assets like the signalling system and overhead power equipment. Several types of breakdowns can occur, related to rolling stock, tracks, etc., that make a train lose time along the way.
  • There are external unforeseen problems like run-over cattle and humans, agitations on the tracks, and the like.

And what have the Railways been doing right?

  • The maintenance of tracks was carried out in a quick time during the Covid period in various critical sections, so the average speed increased, and stretches of slowing down were minimized.
  • Better and modern signalling is also making an impact. Another reason is better planning and operations analysis.

How do the delays impact the overall system?

Any train that gets delayed inordinately due to whatever reason during the journey theoretically eats into the “path” – or time slot allotted on the track – of another train. It then becomes a matter of which train to prioritise. Conventionally, Rajdhanis and premium trains get priority of path over ordinary mail/express trains.

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