Aircraft From Airbus Set To Have Zero Emission!

Aircraft From Airbus Set To Have Zero Emission!

Global aviation industry has committed to cut carbon emissions to half their 2005 levels by 2050, as per the Paris Agreement for Climate Change. The Aerospace Pioneer, Airbus has now launched 3 new concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircrafts serviceable by 2035. So what is the tech behind it?

Crux of the Matter

What Is This Emission Free Fuel?
All 3 aircraft concepts proposed by Airbus use hydrogen gas or ZEROe fuel. So the only emission when burned, is water vapor. Hydrogen can be:

  • Combusted directly through modified gas turbine engines.
  • Converted to electric energy via fuel cells.
  • Used to produce synthetic kerosene, when combined with CO2.

What Is The Concept Of The First Aircraft
Also called the Short Haul Turboprop aircraft, it would be powered by a pair of modified gas turboprop engines, with six-bladed propellers, designed to burn liquid hydrogen. The aircraft also uses electric batteries charged by the engines, in order to give power boost to the engines when required.

  • Capacity: 100 passengers
  • Travel Distance: Upto 1,000 nautical miles or 1,850 km
  • Purpose: short-distance trips.

How Is It Different From The Current Models?
The seats at the back of the aircraft have been removed to make space for the hydrogen tanks, resulting in less passenger space. This results in less passenger space and is comparable to the Airbus A220-100 design.

Why Is Tank Design Crucial?
Hydrogen becomes liquid at -425 °F, so the tank will have to be designed to ensure that temperature is maintained from takeoff to landing.

What’s The Concept Of Second Airbus?
It’s the Transcontinental Turbofan aircraft and would be the fitting successor of Airbus A320. As with the prior model, the liquid hydrogen fuel in this aircraft would be stored in tanks installed behind the rear pressure compartment, and distributed to the engines on the wings.

  • Capacity: 120-200 passengers
  • Travel Distance: Upto 2000 nautical miles or 3700 km
  • Purpose: Longer distance trips, for going across the Atlantic Ocean.

What If There Is A Gas Leak?
There is a chimney built into the vertical stabilizer to vent the hydrogen gas in case of a leak. A stabilizer is a structure designed to reduce aerodynamic side slip and provide directional stability.

The Most Unusual One – Third Aircraft Concept
Also called the Blended Wing Aircraft, it looks like a giant flying wing. This configuration has been tested with Airbus’ MAVERIC demonstrator.

  • Capacity: 200 passengers
  • Travel Distance: 3700 km.

What’s Great About This Design?
While the other two models look like conventional passenger jets, this aircraft has wings that merge with a fuselage or main body of the aircraft that is much wider. This allows more room and efficient configuration options to accommodate more passengers and store and distribute hydrogen fuel.

Look Forward To More Aerospace Partnerships
One of the airlines, easyJet has already publicly supported the ZEROe concepts and has started working in partnership with Airbus to research more about hybrid and electric aircraft designs and infrastructure.

  • The Airbus A380 is a wide-body aircraft manufactured by Airbus. It is the world’s largest passenger airliner. The A380 project was announced in 1990 to challenge the dominance of the Boeing 747 in the long haul market.
  • The Volkswagen emissions scandal began in 2015, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group. The agency had found that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing.
  • Fly-by-wire is a system that replaces the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with an electronic interface. Airbus’ A320, was known for being the first commercial jet to use a digital fly-by-wire control system.

Armenia & Azerbaijan: Conflict And History

Armenia & Azerbaijan: Conflict And History

As the spat between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues, let us take a look at the former Soviet territories and their conflict, which dates long back.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Clash
Armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted recently in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenian separatists reported 31 military casualties on their side, while Azerbaijan reported 26 civilian casualties and claimed to have inflicted “heavy losses” on the other side.

Both countries have imposed martial law at particular places while mobilizing troops for further action. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has requested the international community to intervene as the region is on the verge of a “large-scale war”.

International Reaction
Turkey and Pakistan have declared open support of Azerbaijan in the conflict. However, Turkey denied Armenia’s claims that it had provided armed support to Azerbaijan. Russia, having a military base in Armenia and closer ties to it than Azerbaijan, has called for a ceasefire which has been supported by the US, Iran, France, and the UN.

Background And History Of The Conflict
Nagorno-Karabakh is the disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. While it is located officially inside Azerbaijan’s territory, it has a majority population of Armenian ethnicity.

  • 1922: The Soviet Union was formed, and both Armenia and Azerbaijan were annexed to it.
  • 1989: Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia began over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
  • 1991: The Soviet Union was dissolved. In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia.
  • War erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had ~30,000 casualties reported.
  • In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent ‘Republic of Artsakh’, which is unrecognized by the UN members.
  • 1994: A ceasefire was declared with the aid of Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh was declared part of Azerbaijan but continues being administered by ethnic Armenians with backing from the Armenian Government.
  • Several clashes have occurred between the two, with the most recent major clash occurring in 2016 when ~110 casualties were reported.

Outside Support
Turkey backs Azerbaijan (a Muslim majority state) in the conflict. However, experts have claimed that Turkey’s support also comes due to the oil-richness of Azerbaijan, and that and that Turkey has allegedly advanced the animosity between the two neighbours in recent times. Turkey has no official relations with Armenia and had closed its border with Armenia in 1993 as it backed Azerbaijan in the war.

Russia has stronger ties with Armenia (a Christian majority state) as compared to Azerbaijan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia, while both the countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed between former states of the Soviet.

  • The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first secular democratic Muslim-majority state. In 1920, the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year.
  • Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great was King of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state to Rome’s east. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House.
  • According to the histories of Moses of Chorene, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a lineal descendant of Hayk. Hayk the Great, is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

PM Modi At UNGA: UN Reform Is ‘The Need Of The Hour’

PM Modi At UNGA: UN Reform Is 'The Need Of The Hour'

In the latest address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by PM Modi of India. the major highlight coming out was his questioning the relevancy of the board as well as the inadequate position provided to India, the largest democracy in the world.

Crux of the Matter

PM Modi Addresses The 75th UNGA
On 26 September 2020, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, made an address to the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Recorded video messages of leaders were played in the virtually held meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PM Modi raised the issue of the functioning of the UN as well as India’s role in his recorded address.

Key Points Raised By PM Modi

  • Introspection” is required for the UN as the “world of 1945 was significantly different from today’s world”.
  • Questioned efficiency of the organization as the World has “successfully avoided a third world war, but [one] cannot deny that there have been several wars and many civil wars”.
  • Raised doubts over the role of the UN during the pandemic as he asked that “where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?”

Role Of India In The UN
A country that laid the foundations of the UN, India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 8th time. It would serve its 2-year term from 2021. However, calls for India to be elected as a Permanent Member of the UNSC have increased in recent years.

UN Security Council has 5 permanent members – China, Russia, France, the UK, and the US. Controversies have continued since long as India was reportedly offered a permanent member seat by the US and the Soviet Union to replace China. However, PM Nehru rejected the reports, claiming that he didn’t want India to get embroiled in the Cold War between the two nations and didn’t want enmity with China.

In his address, Modi claimed that “the faith and respect that the United Nations enjoys in India are unparalleled”. However, he also added that “the people of India have been waiting for a long time for the completion of the reforms of the United Nations. For how long will India be kept out of the decision-making structures of the United Nations?

Why Should India Be Added?
At the UNGA, Modi then highlighted facts about India in favour of adding it to the “decision-making structures”:

  • India, currently the largest democracy in the world containing 18% of the world’s population, has prevailed as the “leading global economy for centuries”.
  • India has a tradition of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (whole world is a family) which is also the ideal of the UN.
  • India has sent soldiers to over 50 UN peacekeeping missions. In the process, it has lost 163 peacekeepers since the UN’s inception – more than any country in the world.
  • ‘International Day of Non-Violence’ (2 October) and ‘International Day of Yoga’ (21 June) were initiated by India. It also played a key role in founding the ‘International Solar Alliance’ and the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’.
  • Modi claimed that “when India strengthens its development partnership, it is not with any malafide intent of making the partner country dependent or hapless”, taking an indirect hint at China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • India supplied “essential medicines to more than 150 countries” even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Modi also provided assurance that as “the largest vaccine producing country of the world…India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis”.

To read about what leaders of other nations said at the 75th UN General Assembly meeting, read this story: 75th UN General Assembly Session Held

  • Ahimsa is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings. It is a key virtue in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
  • The League of Nations was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 following the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War.
  • The Group of 77 (G77) at the UN is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the UN. Seventy-seven nations founded the organization, but by November 2013 the organization had since expanded to 133 member countries.

FinCEN Files And International Crimes

FinCEN Files And International Crimes

An American news website, Buzzfeed recently released its investigation reports of FinCEN files. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a US-government body that keeps track of money laundering and similar illegal financial activities. Buzzfeed’s investigation reveals how numerous global banks, financial institutes, companies, and individuals were involved in such illegal financial activities. Let us find out which big names are out and what did they do. Did you know it also included the names of Indian financial institutes?

Crux of the Matter

What Is FinCEN?
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) works under the US Department of Treasury. Its aim is to collect and analyze financial records to keep a track of money laundering, terrorist financing, etc. They keep track of domestic as well as international doubtful financial transactions in US dollars ($).

What Are FinCEN Files?
FinCEN files are a collection of 2,657 documents. A whistleblower leaked files to Buzzfeed News, which distributed them to 108 news organizations in 88 countries.

A bank reports a suspicious transaction or a client to FinCEN in Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs); 2,121 files of the total leaked are SARs. These documents containing
guarded secrets of many banks were sent to US authorities between 1999-2017.

Documents reportedly reveal how big banks allowed money laundering worth $2 trillion. It also revealed how Russian oligarchs or businessmen supplied money to the West and avoided sanctions that prevent them from using banks.

Leaked files gave insight into what banks know about the vast flows of dirty money across the globe.

Fergus Shiel, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

What Did It Reveal?

  • Fraudsters used HSBC to move millions of dollars of stolen money around the world. HSBC despite knowing about the Ponzi scheme of transfer of millions of stolen dollars, just filled SARs and didn’t intervene to stop it.
  • JP Morgan was accused of allowing a company to move more than $1 billion through a London account without knowing its owner.
  • UK’s governing Conservative Party secretly received £1.7 million from a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Putin.
  • One of Vladimir Putin’s closest associates used Barclays bank in London to supply money to the West and avoided sanctions that prevent him from using banks.
  • SARs of over 3000 UK-based companies – more than any other countries – found in the leaked documents.
  • Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea, used an offshore company to fund footballers not owned by his club.
  • Standard Chartered was moving money which was used to fund terrorism.
  • Deutsche Bank found moving money of money launderers, organized criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers.

India Under Radar?
Files revealed the names of at least 44 Indian correspondent banks involved in the money transfer. SBI, Kotak Mahindra, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, etc have been named. Files contain critical information on doubtful money transactions carried out in these banks from a bankrupt steel plant, a multinational conglomerate, an IPL sponsor, etc. The report says that Indian banks received $482,181,226 from outside the country and transferred $406,278,962 from India.

  1. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organization Sunshine Press, claimed in 2015 to have released online 10 million documents in its first 10 years.
  2. The Steele dossier, also known as the Trump–Russia dossier, is a political opposition research report written from June to December 2016 containing allegations of misconduct, conspiracy, and co-operation between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the government of Russia during the 2016 election. The draft dossier was published in full by BuzzFeed News on January 10, 2017, noting that it was unverified.
  3. The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism, literature, and musical composition within the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher and is administered by Columbia University.

A Short History Of Tibet

A Short History Of Tibet

As China recently stepped up its plan to shift the rural population of Tibet into industrial labour, another thread of strain was added to the relations between the two which have been in an alternating relationship with differing ideologies. Let us have a look at the history of Tibet and its relations with China.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Push Into Labour By China
China has reportedly increased the number of Tibetan rural labourers forced in military training camps, where they are trained to become factory workers. Recently, China claimed that ~500,000 people from Tibet (15% of its population) were trained from Jan to July 2020 in such camps. 50,000 of the total were sent to jobs inside Tibet while thousands were sent into labour in China.

Critics have claimed that the motive of such training camps is to eliminate the cultural influence of Tibet while indoctrinating Tibetans with Chinese ideology. These camps are compared to the detention camps in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims are sent to forced labour.

History Of Tibet

  • 620s AD: Songtsen Gampo became the ruler of Central Tibet. He married Princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty (China) and founded major Buddhist temples like Jokhang and Ramoche in Tibet.
  • 820s: Peace treaty between China and Tibet was signed after a period of conflict.
  • 1042: Indian scholar Atisha travelled to Tibet and revived Buddhist teachings by inspiring the locals.
  • 1240-44: Mongol prince Godan Khan invaded Tibet, who later converted to Buddhism in 1247. Peaceful relations between Mongols and Tibetans were established, with the latter retaining significant autonomy in the Mongolian empire.
  • 1598: The title of ‘Dalai Lama’ was first given to High Lama Sonam Gyatso by Mongol King Altan Khan.
  • 1720s: Mongols invaded Tibet. In return, the Manchu (Qing) dynasty of China defeated the Mongols but then appointed its officers to administer Tibet and annexed its Kham and Amdo regions.
  • 1904: British forces from India invaded Tibet and forced to sign an agreement to prevent any Russian interference in the region. However, Britain acknowledged suzerainty of China over Tibet.
  • 1913: Tibet reaffirmed its independence from both China and Britain.
  • 1949: People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established by Communist leader Mao Zedong, who claimed Tibet as part of China.
  • 1951: Tibet was forced to sign the “Seventeen Point Agreement” by China, which granted autonomy to the former but established Chinese military quarters in the capital Lhasa.
  • 1959: The Dalai Lama was forced to take exile in India along with 80,000 followers as a revolt against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet, which was suppressed violently.
  • Refuge for Dalai Lama has been cited as one of the reasons for the 1962 Indo-China war.
  • 1963: Foreign visitors were banned in Tibet – opened back in 1971.
  • 1965: Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) was established by China.
  • 1966: The Cultural Revolution of China impacted Tibet, as Buddhist monasteries and entities were damaged.

Several talks of reconciliation have failed between the 2 groups since.

  • Lhasa is a prefecture-level city, one of the main administrative divisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The population is well-served by primary schools and basic medical facilities, although more advanced facilities are lacking. Tibetan Buddhism and monastic life have been dominant aspects of the local culture since the 7th century.  
  • The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. The Chinese government rejects the notion of the Uyghurs being an indigenous group. 
  • The Militia is the militia part of the armed forces of China, other two parts being the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP). It is one of the largest militias in the world.