[op-ed of the day] At the UNSC, a three-point agenda

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : India's agenda at UNSC


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

  • India’s singular objective as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2021-22 should be to help build a stable and secure external environment.
  • In doing so, India will promote its own people’s prosperity, regional and global security and growth, and a rule-based world order. It could emerge a partner of choice for developing and developed countries alike.

Changing state of world

1.Dislocation in West Asia –

  • India finds itself in a troubled region between West and East Asia, a region bristling with insurgencies, terrorism, human and narcotics trafficking, and great power rivalries.
  • The Gulf is in turmoil.
  • Though the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Daesh) has been defeated, Iraq and Syria are not going to be the same as before.
  • Surviving and dispersed Daesh foot soldiers are likely preparing new adventures, many in their countries of origin.

2. Asia

  • The turbulence in West Asia is echoed in North and South Asia, a consequence of the nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Afghanistan’s slow but unmistakable unravelling from the support, sustenance and sanctuary provided in its contiguity to groups such as the Haqqani network, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.
  • Other problems in Asia include strategic mistrust or misperception, unresolved borders and territorial disputes, the absence of a pan-Asia security architecture, and competition over energy and strategic minerals.

Fear, populism, polarisation, and ultra-nationalism have become the basis of politics in many countries.

No wonder that five years ago, when Henry Kissinger completed his latest work, World Order, he found the world to be in a greater state of disorder than at any time since the end of World War II.

Record of UN

  • Even so, the world is in a better place today than when the UN was first established.
  • The record on maintaining international peace and security, one of the prime functions of the UNSC, has been positive, with or without the UN.
  • The world has been distracted from its other shared goals, especially international social and economic cooperation.

What should India aim to do?

There is no need for India to fritter away diplomatic goodwill in seeking an elusive permanent seat in the UNSC.

 Increase its financial contribution – India will have to increase its financial contribution, as the apportionment of UN expenses for each of the P-5 countries is significantly larger than that for India.

Even Germany and Japan today contribute many times more than India.

Although India has been a leading provider of peacekeepers, its assessed contribution to UN peacekeeping operations is minuscule.

Promoting well-balanced, common solutions – At a time when there is a deficit of international leadership on global issues, especially on security, migrant movement, poverty, and climate change, India has an opportunity to promote well-balanced, common solutions.

Agenda as a member of UNSC

1.‘Responsibility to Protect

First, as a member of the UNSC, India must help guide the Council away from the perils of invoking the principles of humanitarian interventionism or ‘Responsibility to Protect’.

Given the fragile and complex international system, which can become even more unpredictable and conflictual, India should work towards a rules-based global order. Sustainable development and promoting peoples’ welfare should become its new drivers.

2.Sanctions –

Second, India should push to ensure that the UNSC Sanctions Committee targets all those individuals and entities warranting sanctions. Multilateral action by the UNSC has not been possible because of narrowly defined national interest.

3.Rational internationalism – 

  • Having good relations with all the great powers, India must lead the way by pursuing inclusion, the rule of law, constitutionalism, and rational internationalism. 
  • A harmonised response is the sine qua non for dealing with global problems of climate change, disarmament, terrorism, trade, and development. India could take on larger burdens to maintain global public goods and build new regional public goods.
  • For example, India should take the lead in activating the UNSC’s Military Staff Committee, which was never set into motion following the UN’s inception. Without it, the UNSC’s collective security and conflict-resolution roles will continue to remain limited.

Looking at polycentrism

  • A rules-based international order helps rather than hinders India, and embracing the multilateral ethic is the best way forward.
  • India will be a rich country in the future and will acquire greater military muscle, but its people will remain relatively poor.
  • India is a great nation, but not a great power.
  • Apolarity, unipolarity, a duopoly of powers or contending super-powers — none of these suit India.
  • India has a strong motive to embrace polycentrism, which is anathema to hegemonic powers intent on carving out their exclusive spheres of influence.

Conclusion

Finally, India cannot stride the global stage with confidence in the absence of stable relations with its neighbours. Besides whatever else is done within the UN and the UNSC, India must lift its game in South Asia and its larger neighbourhood. Exclusive reliance on India’s brilliant team of officers at its New York mission is not going to be enough.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

[op-ed snap] Balance and tilt

Mains Paper 2 : Parliament & State Legislatures |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Anti-defection Issue


CONTEXT

The Supreme Court’s interim order stating that the 15 dissident Karnataka legislators cannot be compelled to attend the House, means they are not bound by any whip relating to the trust vote moved by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Impact of order

  • This gives the numerical advantage in the House to the BJP-led Opposition. Without the support of the 15 lawmakers, the ruling coalition will be reduced to a minority.
  • The other limb of the order permits the Speaker to decide on the resignation of these MLAs in a time-frame he considers appropriate.
  • Although the court says there was an imperative necessity “to maintain the constitutional balance”, the order tilts the odds in favour of the Opposition in the vote.
  • It amounts to holding that provisions of the anti-defection law, under which parties can issue whips to their members to vote in a particular way, will not be applicable to the 15 MLAs.

Setting a dangerous precedent

  • The order raises the concern whether it does not constitute a perilous precedent for granting ad hoc judicial exceptions from constitutional provisions on defection and set the tone for future judicial intervention to suspend the operation of any whip in respect of a few.
  • Alternatively, the court, which is understandably reluctant to intervene in the Speaker’s power ahead of his decisions, could have refrained from making any orders about the legislators’ presence during the trust vote, and made it clear that any action against them arising out of their absence or manner of voting would be subject to judicial review.

Supreme Court burdened

  • To be fair to the Supreme Court, it is being burdened with the task of unravelling political knots created by amoral strategems. In this case, the “political thicket” into which the court has been dragged has its origins in manoeuvres to reduce the combined strength of the Janata Dal(S) and the Congress.
  • In a bid to thwart tactical resignations, the government and the Speaker adopted the counter-strategy of not immediately accepting them, but initiating or pursuing disqualification proceedings.

Questions in litigation

  • One of the questions in the litigation is whether it is resignation or disqualification that should get priority.
  • The objective of disqualifying the MLAs rather than allowing them to quit will not save the government, but it will prevent them from taking oath as ministers in an alternative Cabinet.
  • Though the court’s order recognises the Speaker’s authority to rule whether the resignations are genuine, and fixes no time-frame, it is a Pyrrhic victory; for, their continuance as members puts them under no obligation to vote for the government in view of the allowance given to stay away during the vote.

Conclusion

The dissident MLAs risk nothing other than their seats, certainly not the opportunity to join the Cabinet of a successor-government. When the court takes up the substantive questions of law for adjudication, it should squarely address the new-found interplay between issues of resignation and disqualification, lest it become a perennial source of political controversy.

Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

[op-ed snap] Sword against pen

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Freedom of press


CONTEXT

Journalists are facing heightened threats around the globe, according to the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), covering 180 countries and territories.

Threats to journalist

  • It notes that the number of countries regarded as safe for journalists is on the decline; this should be a wake-up call. Hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence in many places, and India is no exception.
  • In 2018, at least six Indian journalists were killed in the line of their work, the report said. India’s rank fell by two places to 140 from 138 — in 2016 it was 133 and in 2017 it was 136.
  • In 2014 India’s ranking was 140, but this year’s setback is qualitatively different.

Reasons for the decline in ranking

  • The report notes that organised campaigns by supporters of Hindutva “to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate” is putting journalists in danger.
  • Women journalists are particularly at the receiving end, and covering sensitive but important topics of public interest such as separatism in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoist insurgency has become more difficult.
  • Authorities use anachronistic sedition laws against journalists, who also face the wrath of militants and criminal gangs.

Hyper-nationalist politics

  • Hostility towards the media is a defining feature of hyper-nationalist politics in many countries.
  • In India, the Centre and several State governments have not merely shown extreme intolerance towards objective and critical reporting but also taken unprecedented measures to restrict journalism.

Recent Events

  • The Finance Minister’s recent order barring credentialed reporters from the Ministry’s premises is a case in point but this is not an isolated measure.
  • There is a systematic attempt to limit the scope of journalism in India through physical restrictions, denial of information and hostile rhetoric against journalists by senior government functionaries.
  • The government is unlikely to take the RSF report seriously.

Perception’s Importance

While expression of concern by foreign countries or global bodies regarding human rights, religious violence or media freedom is routinely dismissed as external interference in India’s sovereignty, the government knows all too well that in a globalised world these perceptions matter.

Conclusion

  • What else would explain the Prime Minister’s single-minded pursuit to improve India’s position in the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business ranking?
  • If India is concerned about its reputation in terms of business and investment, it should be equally or even more concerned about its standing as a democratic, pluralist country with a free and dynamic press.
  • That is not so much for the inflow of investment or luring global corporations, which may care little about a destination-country’s democratic credentials — but for India’s well-being.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Kihoto Hollohan Order (1992)

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the case

Mains level : Anti-defection Law and issues with it


News

Crisis in K’taka Assembly

  • Various arguments are undergoing in the Supreme Court related to the political crisis in Karnataka.
  • A Senior Advocate has cited the landmark judgment in Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others (1992).
  • It states that the court upheld the sweeping discretion available to the Speaker in deciding cases of disqualification of MLAs.

What was the Kihoto Hollohan case?

  • The Tenth Schedule, which was inserted in the Constitution by the Constitution (52nd Amendment) Act, 1985, popularly known as the “anti-defection law”, provides for the disqualification of MPs and MLAs who defect.
  • The law covering the disqualification of legislators and the powers of the Speaker in deciding such matters became part of the statute book in 1985 when the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution was adopted.
  • A constitutional challenge to the Tenth Schedule was settled by the apex court in Kihoto Hollohan Case.
  • The principal question before the Supreme Court in the case was whether the powerful role given to the Speaker violated the doctrine of Basic Structure.

Extent of the Speaker’s powers

  • Paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule describes the Speaker’s sweeping discretionary powers. It reads:
  • If any question arises as to whether a member of a House has become subject to disqualification under this Schedule, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Chairman or, as the case may be, the Speaker of such House and his decision shall be final.

What did the Supreme Court rule in Hollohan?

  • The petitioners in Hollohan argued whether it was fair that the Speaker should have such broad powers, given that there is always a reasonable likelihood of bias.
  • The majority judgment authored by Justices M N Venkatachaliah and K Jayachandra Reddy answered this question in the affirmative,
  • The Speakers/Chairmen hold a pivotal position in the scheme of Parliamentary democracy and are guardians of the rights and privileges of the House.
  • They are expected to and do take far reaching decisions in the Parliamentary democracy.
  • Vestiture of power to adjudicate questions under the Tenth Schedule in them should not be considered exceptionable.
  • They added that the Schedule’s provisions were “salutory and intended to strengthen the fabric of Indian Parliamentary democracy by curbing unprincipled and unethical political defections.

Dissenting opinions over Speakers Power

  • The tenure of the Speaker, who is the authority in the Tenth Schedule to decide this dispute, is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House and, therefore, he does not satisfy the requirement of such an independent adjudicatory authority.
  • Independent adjudicatory machinery for resolving disputes relating to the competence of Members of the House is envisaged as an attribute of the democratic system which is a basic feature of our Constitution
  • The Speaker’s choice as the sole arbiter in the matter violates an essential attribute of the basic feature.
Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

Bimal Jalan Committee on RBI’s reserves

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bimal Jalan Committee on RBI’s reserves

Mains level : RBI reserves and govt. claim over it


News

  • The Bimal Jalan Committee on treatment of Reserve Bank of India’s reserves is likely to recommend a transfer of a specified quantum of RBI reserves to the government.

Bimal Jalan Committee and its Terms of Reference

  • The committee was to keep in mind the statutory mandate under the RBI Act that the profits of the RBI be transferred to the government after it made provisions ‘which are usually provided by the bankers’.
  • Against this background, the committee was tasked with reviewing the status, need, and justification of the various provisions, reserves and buffers currently provided for by the RBI.
  • It was also tasked to review the global best practices followed by central banks in making provisions for the risks that central bank balance sheets are subject to.
  • The committee was also tasked with suggesting an “adequate level” of risk provisioning that the RBI should maintain, and determining whether the RBI’s current reserves were surplus of this or lower.
  • If they are surplus, then the committee also had to come up with a suitable profits distribution policy.

Quick recap: Issue over transfer of RBI surplus

  • The government and the RBI have been at loggerheads over the issue of how much of the central bank’s reserves can be transferred to the Centre.
  • The government view has been that the RBI’s reserves constitute 27% of its total assets, a much higher proportion than the global norm of 14%.
  • As a means to reach a resolution on the issue, the central bank, in December, constituted a committee under former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan.

Why govt. needs RBI money?

  • The treatment of the RBI’s reserves is a matter of great importance at a time when the central government has committed to a fiscal deficit target of 3.3% in financial year 2019-20, and a further tightening to 3% the next year.
  • With tax revenues falling short of expectations, any off-Budget receipts from the RBI will be welcomed by the Centre.

What are the key contentious issues?

  • First and foremost is the issue of transferring past reserves including unrealized gains in gold and currency revaluation accounts.
  • Most committee members favoured a reduction in the RBI’s excess reserves in a phased manner over 3 to 5 years, without any substantial additional annual transfer to the government.
  • It is not immediately clear how much excess capital has the committee identified that can be shared with the government.
  • The other big issue pertains to RBI’s profits.

What next?

  • Many economists and expert committees have in the past argued that the RBI is holding much higher capital that required to cover all its risks and contingencies.
  • Former CEA Arvind Subramanian said in Economic Survey 2016-17 that the RBI is already exceptionally highly capitalized.
  • The recommendations will be submitted to the central bank “very soon”.
  • The report is also expected to reflect the differences among the panel members over the treatment of RBI’s excess reserves.
RBI Notifications

Explained: How films are certified, why it causes dispute

Mains Paper 2 : Statutory, Regulatory & Various Quasi-Judicial Bodies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CBFC and its composition

Mains level : Censoring and underlying issues


News

  • Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court pulled up the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for refusing to give a ‘U’ certificate to a Children’s film. The CBFC had given it a U/A certificate.

CBFC organizational set-up

  • The CBFC is headed by the Chairperson.
  • The board comprises up to 25 members and 60 advisory panel members from across India, appointed by the I&B Ministry.
  • While the board members are usually film and TV professionals, members of the advisory panel are often from outside the industry.
  • The chairperson and board members serve for three years, and advisory panel members for two years.
  • The CEO is chiefly in charge of the administrative functioning but the regional officers are part of Examining Committees that certify films.
  • Once a filmmaker applies for certification, an Examining Committee is appointed by the Regional Officer.
  • In case of short films, it consists of a member of the advisory panel and an examining officer, one of whom has to be a woman.
  • Else, it has four members from the advisory panel and an examining officer of who two persons are to be women.

How do they certify films?

  • Certification— unrestricted public exhibition (U), parental guidance for children below age 12 (U/A), adult (A), or viewing by specialised groups (S) — is decided by the Regional Officer based on reports by Examining Committee members.
  • In case of a divided opinion, the case rests with the chairperson.
  • Certification is often decided on individual inclinations in the Examining Committee, whose members come from various walks of life.

What if the applicant is not satisfied?

  • In most such cases, the CBFC shares a list of “suggested changes”.
  • If the applicant is unhappy with the certification or the list of changes, he or she can apply to the Revising Committee, which is made of the Chairperson and up to nine committee members from both the board and the advisory panel.
  • The committee cannot have a member from the advisory panel who may have already viewed the film.
  • A similar process is followed at this stage, with the final word resting with the Chairperson.
  • The last point of appeal is the Appellate Tribunal, an independent body, members of which are appointed by the ministry for three-year terms.
  • Any further dispute can be taken to a court.

Criticism of CBFC

  • CBFC is a certification board and not the censorship board anymore with wider intervention by judiciary.
  • Their job is to certify films based on this and the guidelines are fairly wide.
  • It is in consonance with Article 19 of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of the Cinematograph Act.

What is Section 5(b)?

  • It states that a film shall not be certified if any part of it is against the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite commission of any offence.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC)

Mains Paper 3 : Achievements Of Indians In S&T |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NAVIC, GPS

Mains level : Utility of NAVIC



News

  • The navigation system that Indians use on their mobile phones and cars could be set for a reboot.
  • It has been reported that ISRO is in talks with processing chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm to substitute the existing Global Positioning System (GPS) with the Indian version of satellite navigation.

What is NavIC?

  • NavIC is an independent Indian satellite-based positioning system for critical national applications.
  • India got its system with the launch of the IRNSS 1-G satellite, is the seventh member of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), in November 2017.
  • It consists of a constellation of seven satellites, three of which are in a geostationary orbit and four in a geosynchronous orbit.
  • The IRNSS can provide Standard Positioning Service (SPS) to all users, and an encrypted Restricted Service (RS) to authorised users.
  • It has position accuracy better than 20 metres in the primary service area.
  • Its purpose is to provide reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and neighbourhood.

What is the service coverage?

  • The regional navigation satellite system can provide accurate position information service to users in India and the region, extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its Primary Service Area.
  • Beyond that lies an Extended Service Area, that can extend up to the edges of the area enclosed by the rectangle imagined by latitudes 30 degrees South and 50 degrees North, and longitudes 30 degrees East and 130 degrees East.

Is India the only country to have its positioning system?

  • The GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system that is owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force.
  • Apart from GPS, there is GLONASS of Russia, Galileo of the European Union and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (or BDS) of China.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mains level : Key propositions of the bill and their necessity


News

  • Minister for Road Transport and Highways has been in the news as he pushes the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Parliament.
  • The amendments proposed by the government to the existing Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 essentially focus on improving road safety.

Key elements of the proposed amendment

Minimum Compensation

  • The Bill proposes to increase the minimum compensation for hit and run cases.
  • In particular, in case of death, such compensation would vary from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 Lakh.
  • In the case of grievous injury, it would vary from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000.
  • Beyond road safety, the Bill also increases penalties for several offences such as driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Cashless treatment of victims

  • The Bill also enables the Central government to develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during the “golden hour” (first 60 minutes following the injury during which doctors have the best chance of saving a life).

Accident Fund

  • The government’s insurance scheme is likely to be funded through a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund that the central government is expected to constitute to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
  • This fund will be available for the treatment of the injured.

Defining Good Samaritan

  • The Bill also defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident.
  • However, to be seen as one, such assistance must have been given in good faith, voluntarily, and without the expectation of any reward.
  • If these conditions are met, such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in assisting the victim.

National Road Safety Board

  • The Bill also proposes a National Road Safety Board which will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.
  • The Bill also enables the central government to order a recall of motor vehicles if it is found that they are defective and can cause harm to other road users or the environment.
  • In case of such a recall, the manufacturers would either have to replace the faulty vehicle or pay full compensation to the customer.

Regulating digital intermediaries

  • The Bill also attempts to plug a policy gap that has been introduced by the emergence of shared economy concepts and technology.
  • As such, it defines taxi aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes.
  • These aggregators will be issued licenses by state, but, they must also comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

Ramanujan Machine

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramanujan Machine

Mains level : Utility of the machine/algorithm


News

  • Scientists from Israel have developed a concept they have named the Ramanujan Machine, after the Indian mathematician.

Ramanujan Machine

  • It is not really a machine but an algorithm, and performs a very unconventional function.
  • With most computer programs, humans input a problem and expect the algorithm to work out a solution.
  • With the Ramanujan Machine, it works the other way round.
  • Feed in a constant, say the well-know pi, and the algorithm will come up with a equation involving an infinite series whose value, it will propose, is exactly pi.

Why named after Ramanujan?

  • The algorithm reflects the way Srinivasa Ramanujan worked during his brief life (1887-1920).
  • With very little formal training, he engaged with the most celebrated mathematicians of the time, particularly during his stay in England (1914-19), where he eventually became a Fellow of the Royal Society and earned a research degree from Cambridge.
  • Throughout his life, Ramanujan came up with novel equations and identities —including equations leading to the value of pi— and it was usually left to formally trained mathematicians to prove these.

What’s the point?

  • Conjectures (assumptions) are a major step in the process of making new discoveries in any branch of science, particularly mathematics.
  • Equations defining the fundamental mathematical constants, including pi, are invariably elegant.
  • New assumptions in mathematics, however have been scarce and sporadic, the researchers note in their paper, which is currently on a pre-print server.
  • The idea is to enhance and accelerate the process of discovery.

How good is it?

  • The paper gives examples for previously unknown equations produced by the algorithm, including for values of the constants pi (=3.142) and e (=2.7182).
  • The Ramanujan Machine proposed these conjecture formulas by matching numerical values, without providing proofs.
  • It has to be remembered that these are infinite series, and a human can only enter a finite number of terms to test the value of the series.
  • The question is, therefore, whether the series will fail after a point. The researchers feel this is unlikely, because they tested hundreds of digits.
  • Until proven, it remains a conjecture. By the same token, until proven wrong, a conjecture remains one.

Where to find it

  • The researchers have set up a website, ramanujanmachine.com.
  • Users can suggest proofs for algorithms or propose new algorithms, which will be named after them.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Ploonets

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ploonets

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • Astronomers have defined a new class of celestial objects called “ploonets,” which are orphaned moons that have escaped the bonds of their planetary parents.

Ploonets

  • Astronomers named a new class of theorized objects that begin as moons around large planets, but eventually move out on their own. They call them “ploonets.”
  • The scientists think these objects should exist in solitary orbits around their host stars and could even be discovered in observations from past and present exoplanet-hunting surveys, like Kepler and TESS.

Why such renaming?

  • Earth’s own Moon is slowly spiraling away from our planet; it may also end up as a ploonet in some 5 billion years.

Making of a Ploonet

  • Over the past few decades, astronomers have uncovered more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets, and nearly as many exoplanet candidates.
  • And one thing astronomers have learned from this sizeable census is that a surprisingly high number of massive exoplanets — called “hot Jupiters” — are located oddly close to their host stars.
  • Although at least part of the reason they detected so many hot Jupiters boils down to observational biases, this significant sample of weird planets still raises questions about how planets form.

Have we already found Ploonets?

  • Although there has yet to be a definite confirmation of a Ploonet orbiting a star, there are at least a few examples that might fit the bill.
  • The evidence for these potential Ploonets comes from perplexing exoplanetary observations that have yet to be adequately explained.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries