Indian Express Explained 12/06/2020

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1)Explained: The strategic road to DBO:- The Immediate trigger point of standoff between India and China is the construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) all-weather road is possibly the most consequential.

Importance of the Road :- Its strategic importance is that it connects Leh to DBO, virtually at the base of the Karakoram Pass that separates China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region from Ladakh.

DBO is the northernmost corner of Indian territory in Ladakh, in the area better known in Army parlance as Sub-Sector North.

DBO has the world’s highest airstrip, originally built during the 1962 war but abandoned until 2008, when the Indian Air Force (IAF) revived it as one of its many Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) along the LAC, with the landing of an Antonov An-32.

The Chinese build-up along the Galwan River valley region overlooks, and hence poses a direct threat to the DSDBO road. The DSDBO highway provides the Indian military access to the section of theTibet-Xinjaing highway that passes through Aksai Chin. 

What makes DBO an All weather road :-

What makes the DSDBO an “all-weather” road is the 37 prefabricated military truss bridges along it. Previously an old road, largely a track, existed along the same alignment as the pucca road, but was practically unusable during summer due to the flooding of the snow-fed Shyok river – or River of Death – and its tributaries, including the Chip Chap, Galwan, and Chang Chenmo that crisscross it.

The Shyok river itself is a tributary of the Indus, flowing through northern Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan. It eventually re-joins the Indus at Keris, east of Skardu.

Explained 2 :- GM seeds: the debate, and a sowing agitation

what has happened:- In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved.

What are genetically modified seeds?

Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents. Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.

Some available GM Seeds:-

Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm. Ht Bt, on the other, cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.

In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.

In DMH-11 mustard, developed by Deepak Pental and colleague in the South Campus of University of Delhi, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

Across the world, GM variants of maize, canola and soyabean, too, are available.

What is the legal position of genetically modified crops in India?

In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops. In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95 per cent of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton. Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1986.

Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?

In the case of cotton, farmers cite the high cost of weeding, which goes down considerably if they grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds. Brinjal growers in Haryana have rooted for Bt brinjal as it reduces the cost of production by cutting down on the use of pesticides.

3) Explained : What is Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean?

On June 7, astronaut and oceanographer Kathy Sullivan, who was the first American woman to walk in space in 1984, became the first woman and the fifth person in history to descend to the deepest known spot in the world’s oceans, called the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which is seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

Sullivan is now the only human who has walked in space and reached the deepest point in the ocean.

What is Challenger Deep :- According to NOAA, the average depth of the ocean is about 12,100 feet and the deepest part is called the Challenger Deep, which is located below the surface of the western Pacific Ocean. It is approximately 36,200 feet deep.

The first dive at Challenger Deep was made in 1960 by Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard on a submersible called ‘Trieste’. The British Ship HMS Challenger discovered Challenger Deep between 1872-1876.

What does it take to reach the deep ocean?

Vehicles called Human Occupied Vehicles (HOVs) may be used that carry scientists to the deep sea. Alternatively, there are unmanned Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) that are linked to ships using cables and can be steered by scientists remotely, according to an article on Smithsonian.

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