Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Geroscience: the Science related to Ageing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Geroscience, DNA Methylation

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Dr. Daniel Belsky from Columbia University introduced the concept of “Geroscience” and develops a blood test, termed “gerozyme,” to measure aging pace by studying DNA methylation.
  • Various research groups explore drugs like Metformin and Rapamycin to target aging and enhance immunity in the elderly.

What is Geroscience?

  • Geroscience refers to the interdisciplinary field focused on understanding the biological mechanisms of ageing and age-related diseases.
  • It involves studying various factors, including DNA methylation, enzyme activity (such as the gerozyme), socio-economic influences, and lifestyle interventions like nutrition, exercise, and music therapy.
  • It aims to develop strategies, such as drug interventions targeting specific ageing-related processes, to promote healthy ageing and combat age-related conditions like dementia.

What is DNA Methylation?

  • DNA Methylation is a process in which methyl groups (CH3) are added to the DNA molecule.
  • This modification typically occurs at cytosine bases within the DNA sequence, often in the context of CpG dinucleotides (where cytosine is followed by guanine).
  • DNA methylation plays a crucial role in regulating gene expression and maintaining genome stability.
  • It can affect various cellular processes, including embryonic development, X-chromosome inactivation, genomic imprinting, and silencing of repetitive DNA elements.
  • Aberrant DNA methylation patterns have been implicated in various diseases, including cancer and neurological disorders.

Drug Interventions in Geroscience

  • Metformin and TORC1 inhibitors show promise in targeting aging and improving immune response in seniors.
  • Research proposes rapamycin’s potential in extending longevity and combating age-related diseases.

Impact of Socio-Economic Factors in Ageing

  • Dr. Belsky’s research reveals the influence of socioeconomic status on DNA methylation levels, highlighting the role of disadvantage in ageing.
  • Columbia Aging Centre emphasizes the role of a balanced diet in supporting brain health and reducing inflammation.
  • Healthline.com advocates for proteins, healthy fats, and antioxidant-rich foods to promote healthy ageing, crucial for India’s ageing population.

PYQ:

[2011] At present, scientists can determine the arrangement or relative positions of genes or DNA sequences on a chromosome. How does this knowledge benefit us?

  1. It is possible to know the pedigree of livestock.
  2. It is possible to understand the causes of all human diseases.
  3. It is possible to develop disease-resistant animal breeds.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Lachit Borphukan and his Legend

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lachit Borphukan, Ahom Kingdom, Treaty of Yandaboo

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Statue of Valour, depicting Ahom general Lachit Borphukan, has become a significant landmark in Meleng-Hollongapar, Jorhat in Assam.
  • The 125-foot statue commemorates Lachit Borphukan’s leadership in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.

Ahom Kingdom (1228–1826)

  • Establishment: Founded in 1228 in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam by Chaolung Sukapha.
  • Duration: Retained sovereignty for 600 years until annexed by British India in 1826 (Treaty of Yandaboo).
  • Resistance: Despite facing the Mughal Empire’s power, the Ahom Kingdom remained unconquered.
  • Political Structure: Established a new state by supressing the older system of bhuiyans (landlords).
  • Labor System: Relied on forced labor known as paiks for state functions.
  • Social Organization: Society divided into clans or khels, embracing Hinduism and Assamese language alongside tribal beliefs.
  • Cultural Patronage: Supported poets, scholars, and theater; translated Sanskrit texts into local language; composed historical chronicles called buranjis.
  • Military Strategy: King served as supreme commander; core army comprised of paiks; mastered guerrilla warfare and surprise attacks.
  • Key Forts: Included Chamdhara, Saraighat, and Simlagarh, strategically crucial for defense.
  • River Expertise: Mastered construction of boat bridges on the Brahmaputra River.
  • Legacy: Ahom Kingdom’s military prowess, cultural patronage, and political organization left a lasting impact on Assam’s history.

Who was Lachit Borphukan?

  • Lachit Borphukan was a legendary military commander from the northeastern region of India, specifically from the state of Assam. Here are some facts related to him:
Description
Timeline 1622-1672
Dynasty Ahom Dynasty
Mughal Threat Faced the Mughal Empire’s expansion into Assam
Battle of Saraighat
  • Led Ahom forces to victory against the Mughals in 1671;
  • Defended Assam against the Aurangzeb’s forces led by Ram Singh.
Leadership Known for strategic brilliance and guerrilla tactics
Legacy Revered as a symbol of Assamese pride and resistance
Recognition
  • INS Lachit:  Indian Navy’s guided-missile destroyer named in honor;
  • Lachit Divas:  Celebrated annually on November 24th in Assam;
  • Lachit Borphukan Medal: Awarded to the best cadet from the National Defence. Academy (NDA, Pune).

 

PYQ:

[2015]  Who among the following founded a new city on the south bank of a tributary to river Krishna and undertook to rule his new kingdom as the agent of a deity to whom all the land south of the river Krishna was supposed to belong?

(a) Amoghavarsha I

(b) Ballala II

(c) Harihara I

(d) Prataparudra II

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Mahad Satyagraha: A Landmark Event in the Dalit Movement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mahad (Chavdar Lake) Satyagraha, Annihilation of Caste etc.

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Mahad Satyagraha is hailed as the foundational event of the Dalit movement, marking the community’s collective rejection of the caste system and assertion of human rights.

About Mahad Satyagraha

  • The Mahad Satyagraha, also known as Chavdar Tale (Lake) Satyagraha, was led by B. R. Ambedkar on 20 March 1927 in Mahad, Raigad District of Maharashtra.
  • Its aim was to assert the right of untouchables to use water from a public tank.
  1. Background:
  • Untouchables (Dalits) were segregated in Indian society and banned from using public water bodies and roads used by other Hindu castes.
  • In August 1923, the Bombay Legislative Council passed a resolution allowing depressed classes to use government-maintained places, but it faced opposition from savarna Hindus.
  • In January 1924, Mahad passed a resolution in its municipal council to enforce the act but failed to implement it due to protests.
  1. Satyagraha:
  • In 1927, Ambedkar launched a satyagraha to assert untouchables’ rights to use water in public places.
  • Mahad was chosen for the event due to its support from ‘caste Hindus’.
  • Surendranath Tipnis, president of the Mahad municipality, invited Ambedkar to hold a meeting there.
  • Ambedkar drank water from the tank, followed by thousands of untouchables.
  • He encouraged Dalit women to abandon customs of untouchability and wear saris like high-caste women, which they embraced.
  • A riot erupted over rumors of Ambedkar planning to enter a Hindu temple, and the tank was purified with cow-urine and cow-dung.
  • Ambedkar planned a second conference in Mahad in December 1927 but faced legal obstacles due to a case filed by caste Hindus.
  • On 25 December 1937, the Bombay High Court ruled that untouchables have the right to use water from the tank.
  1. Legacy:
  • On 19 March 1940, Ambedkar arranged a rally in Mahad to commemorate the Satyagraha as “Empowerment Day.”

Back2Basics: Key Initiatives and Movements Led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Initiative Location Objective
Temple Entry Movement (1920s-1930s) Various Locations Advocating for the right of Dalits to enter Hindu temples.
Mahad Satyagraha (Chavdar Tale Satyagraha) Mahad, Maharashtra Asserting the rights of untouchables to use water from a public tank.
Kalaram Mandir Movement (1930) Nashik, Maharashtra Demanding temple entry rights for Dalits at the Kalaram Mandir.
Annihilation of Caste (1936) Publication of “Annihilation of Caste,” advocating for the abolition of the caste system.
Formation of Independent Dalit Political Party (Independent Labour Party) (1936) Addressing the political concerns and aspirations of Dalits.
Push for Separate Electorate by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1932) India Advocating for separate electorates for Dalits to ensure their political representation and empowerment.
Legal Advocacy (1940s-1950s) Drafting of the Hindu Code Bills, contribution to the framing of the Indian Constitution.
Conversion to Buddhism (1956) Nagpur, Maharashtra Symbolizing a rejection of the caste system through mass conversion ceremony to Buddhism.

 


 

PYQ:

[2018] Which one of the following is a very significant aspect of the Champaran Satyagraha?

(a) Active all-India participation of lawyers, students and women in the National Movement

(b) Active involvement of Dalit and Tribal communities of India in the National Movement

(c) Joining of peasant unrest to India’s National Movement

(d) Drastic decrease in the cultivation of plantation crops and commercial crops

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Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The recent gathering of major funders and promoters of the carbon offsets market in London raised concerns about the role of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in limiting the market’s growth.
  • SBTi’s stringent criteria for net-zero plans have made it a gold standard in emissions accountability, but some argue it hinders the potential of carbon offsets in combating climate change.

What is Carbon Offset?

  • A carbon offset broadly refers to a reduction in GHG emissions – or an increase in carbon storage (e.g., through land restoration or the planting of trees) – that is used to compensate for emissions that occur elsewhere.
  • A carbon offset credit is a transferrable instrument certified by governments or independent certification bodies to represent an emission reduction of one metric tonne of CO2, or an equivalent amount of other GHGs.

What is Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)?

  • The SBTi is a collaborative effort spearheaded by four international organizations:
  1. Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP),
  2. United Nations Global Compact (UNGC),
  3. World Resources Institute (WRI), and
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • The SBTi focuses on assisting companies in setting ambitious and scientifically sound greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets.
Details
Purpose To drive ambitious corporate action on climate change by providing a framework for setting science-based targets aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.
Launch Year 2015
Founding Organizations
  1. Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP),
  2. United Nations Global Compact (UNGC),
  3. World Resources Institute (WRI), and
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Methodologies SBTi offers guidelines and methodologies for companies to set targets that are consistent with the latest climate science and contribute to limiting global warming.
Global Reach Engages with companies worldwide, collaborating with partners across sectors, regions, and industries to promote adoption of science-based targets.
Recognition
  • Recognized as a leading platform for corporate climate action;
  • Companies comply to set science-based targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Updates and refines its methodologies and verification processes to reflect advances in climate science and best practices in emissions reduction.

 

PYQ:

[2021] The ‘Common Carbon Metric’, Supported by UNEP, had been developed for:

(a) Assessing the carbon footprint of building operations around the world.

(b) Enabling commercial farming entities around the world to enter carbon emission trading.

(c) Enabling governments to assess the overall carbon footprint caused by their countries.

(d) Assessing the overall carbon footprint caused by the use of fossil fuels by the world in a unit time.

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Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

[pib] Index of Industrial Production (IIP) grows by 5.7% in February, 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Core Industries etc.

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

India’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP) increased by 5.7% in February, up from 3.8% in January, according to data from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

What is Index of Industrial Production (IIP)?

  • IIP as it is commonly called is an index that tracks overall manufacturing activity in different sectors of an economy.
  • It is currently calculated using 2011-2012 as the base year.
  • It is compiled and published by Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) every month.
  • CSO operates under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

Components of IIP:

  • Three broad sectors in IIP:
  1. Manufacturing (77.6%),
  2. Mining (14.4%)
  3. Electricity (8%).
  • Electricity, crude oil, coal, cement, steel, refinery products, natural gas, and fertilizers are the eight core industries that comprise about 40 per cent of the weight of items included in the IIP.

Basket of products:

There are 6 sub-categories:

  1. Primary Goods (consisting of mining, electricity, fuels and fertilisers)
  2. Capital Goods (e.g. machinery items)
  3. Intermediate Goods (e.g. yarns, chemicals, semi-finished steel items, etc)
  4. Infrastructure Goods (e.g. paints, cement, cables, bricks and tiles, rail materials, etc)
  5. Consumer Durables (e.g. garments, telephones, passenger vehicles, etc)
  6. Consumer Non-durables (e.g. food items, medicines, toiletries, etc)

Who uses IIP data?

  • The factory production data (IIP) is used by various government agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), private firms and analysts, among others for analytical purposes.
  • The data is also used to compile the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the manufacturing sector in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a quarterly basis.

IIP base year change:

  • The base year was changed to 2011-12 from 2004-05 in the year 2017.
  • The earlier base years were 1937, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1960, 1970, 1980-81, 1993-94 and 2004-05.

What are the Core Industries in India?

  • The main or the key industries constitute the core sectors of an economy.
  • In India, there are eight sectors that are considered the core sectors.
  • They are electricity, steel, refinery products, crude oil, coal, cement, natural gas and fertilizers.

About Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI)  

  • The monthly Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) is a production volume index.
  • ICI measures collective and individual performance of production in selected eight core industries: Coal (10%), Crude Oil (8.98%), Natural Gas (6.88%), Refinery Products (28.04%), Fertilizers (2.63%), Steel (17.92%), Cement (5.37%), and Electricity (20.18%).
  • Prior to the 2004-05 series six core industries namely Coal, Cement, Finished Steel, Electricity, Crude petroleum and Refinery products constituted the index basket.
  • Two more industries i.e. Fertilizer and Natural Gas were added to the index basket in 2004-05 series. The ICI series with base 2011-12 will continue to have eight core industries.

Components covered in these eight industries for compilation of index are as follows:

  1. Coal – Coal Production excluding Coking coal.
  2. Crude Oil – Total Crude Oil Production.
  3. Natural Gas – Total Natural Gas Production.
  4. Refinery Products – Total Refinery Production (in terms of Crude Throughput).
  5. Fertilizer – Urea, Ammonium Sulphate (A/S), Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN), Ammonium chloride (A/C), Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Complex Grade Fertilizer and Single superphosphate (SSP).
  6. Steel – Production of Alloy and Non-Alloy Steel only.
  7. Cement – Production of Large Plants and Mini Plants.
  8. Electricity – Actual Electricity Generation of Thermal, Nuclear, Hydro, imports from Bhutan.

How is IIP different from ICI?

  • IIP is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistics Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation six weeks after the reference month ends.
  • However, ICI is compiled and released by Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), and Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • The Eight Core Industries comprise nearly 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). These are Electricity, steel, refinery products, crude oil, coal, cement, natural gas and fertilisers.

PYQ:

[2015] In the Index of Eight Core Industries, which one of the following is given the highest weight?

(a) Coal Production

(b) Electricity generation

(c) Fertilizer Production

(d) Steel Production

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Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, Rowlatt Act, Hunter Commission

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

On April 13, 1919, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered British troops to open fire on a peaceful gathering in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, leaving a deep scar on India’s collective memory.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  1. Background: Protesting the contentious Rowlatt Act
  • The act officially known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919 was passed in 1919 by the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • It had authorized the British government to arrest anybody suspected of terrorist activities.
  • It also authorized the government to detain such people arrested for up to 2 years without trial.
  • It empowered the police to search a place without a warrant. It also placed severe restrictions on the freedom of the press.
  • The primary intention of colonial govt. was to repress the growing nationalist movement in the country.
  • The British were also afraid of a Ghadarite Revolution in Punjab and the rest of the country.
  1. The day
  • The massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army (Gurkha and Sikh infantry regiments) under the command of Col. Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Indians.
  • The civilians had assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew.
  • Dyer without warning ordered his troops to fire at the unarmed crowd which included children as well.
  • The indiscriminate firing went on for about 10 minutes which resulted in the deaths of at least 1000 people and injured more than 1500 people.
  1. Aftermath
  • In protest against the massacre, Rabindranath Tagore gave up his knighthood.
  • Gandhiji relinquished his title ‘Kaiser-e-hind’ bestowed on him by the British for his services during the Boer War in South Africa.
  • Michael O’Dwyer, the then Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, who had approved the actions of Dyer, was assassinated by Udham Singh in London in 1940 as revenge against the massacre.
  • The heroic treatment of Dyer’s heinous act again set a benchmark of colonial arrogance.

Hunter Commission for Inquiry

  • In October 1919 the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, ordered the formation of a committee of inquiry into the events in Punjab.
  • Referred to as the Disorders Inquiry Committee, it was later more widely known as the Hunter Commission (Not to be confused with Hunter Education Commission).
  • The commission inquiry was concluded without any significant conclusion.
  • Still, there are long-standing demands in India that Britain should apologize for the massacre.

PYQ:

[2012] The Rowlatt Act aimed at:

(a) Compulsory economic support to war efforts

(b) Imprisonment without trial and summary procedures for trial

(c) Suppression of the Khilafat Movement

(d) Imposition of restrictions on freedom of the press

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Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

What is Doxxing and what can you do if it happens to you?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Doxxing

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

In mid-February, a woman reported an incident of doxxing to Mumbai Police after a man shared a video of her dancing and subjected her to harassment online.

What is Doxxing?

  • Doxxing involves publicly disclosing an individual’s private information without consent, including personal details like addresses, phone numbers, and more.
  • It can lead to severe consequences, including physical, digital, and emotional harm, such as stalking, threats, and loss of privacy.

Legality and Intentions

  • While sharing public content may be legal, the intentions behind sharing such content can be malicious and harmful.
  • Social media platforms like X take action against users who share information with abusive intent or to harass others.

Consequences of Doxxing

  • Victims of doxxing may face numerous challenges, including securing their physical location, clarifying situations with employers, and dealing with a barrage of threats.
  • Security measures such as changing passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and reporting incidents to social media platforms are crucial for safeguarding against doxxing.

Legal Remedy Against Doxxing

  • Victims of doxxing can report incidents through platforms like the:
  1. National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal and
  2. File FIRs (with law enforcement authorities).
  • Social media companies like Meta and Google have tools and mechanisms in place to assist individuals who have been doxxed.

PYQ:

[2020] In India, under cyber insurance for individuals, which of the following benefits are generally covered, in addition to payment for the loss of funds and other benefits?

1.    Cost of restoration of the computer system in case of malware disrupting access to one’s computer

2.    Cost of a new computer if some miscreant willfully damages it, if proved so

3.    Cost of hiring a specialized consultant to minimize the loss in case of cyber extortion

4.    Cost of defence in the Court of Law if any third-party files a suit

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 4 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, and 4

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Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Adjudication Process under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PMLA, 2002; Adjudication Process under PMLA, ED, FIU

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) has confirmed the attachment of assets worth Rs 751.9 crore linked to a politician family.
  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had provisionally attached these properties in PMLA case.

About Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002

Details
Precursor Enacted to fulfill India’s global commitments to combat money laundering, aligning with international conventions such as:

  1. UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic; Substances 1988;
  2. Basle Statement of Principles, 1989;
  3. Financial Action Task Force’s Forty Recommendations, 1990;
  4. UN General Assembly’s Political Declaration and Global Program of Action, 1990.
What is it?
  • Criminal law targeting money laundering and property confiscation from illicit activities.
  • Central to India’s anti-money laundering legal framework.
  • Applicable to financial institutions, banks (including RBI), mutual funds, insurance companies, and their intermediaries.
Amendments Amended in the year 2005, 2009 and 2012.
Objectives
  • Confiscate proceeds of crime involved in money laundering.
  • Establish legal mechanisms to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • Strengthen investigation and prosecution of money laundering offenses.
  • Enhance international cooperation in combating money laundering.
Regulating Authorities
  1. Directorate of Enforcement (ED) enforces PMLA provisions and investigates money laundering cases.
  2. Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) receives, processes, analyses and disseminates information related to suspect financial transactions.
Salient Features
  • Punishment and Jail Term: Provides rigorous imprisonment from 3 to 7 years for money laundering, extendable up to 10 years.
  • Powers of Attachment: Director or officer above Deputy Director rank can provisionally attach suspected “proceeds of crime” property.
  • Adjudicating Authority: Appointed by the central government to determine involvement of attached or seized property in money laundering.
  • Presumption in Inter-Connected Transactions: Transactions are presumed interconnected in money laundering cases.
  • Burden of Proof: Accused must prove alleged proceeds of crime are lawful.
  • Appellate Tribunal: Empowered to hear appeals against Adjudicating Authority and other orders under the Act.
  • Special Court Establishment: Ensures expedited trials.

 

In news: Adjudicating Authority under PMLA

  • The ED, empowered by Section 5 of the PMLA, provisionally attaches assets suspected to be acquired through criminal proceeds.
  • These provisional orders, valid for 180 days, require confirmation by the Adjudicating Authority within the stipulated period to maintain legal validity.
  1. Role of the Adjudicating Authority:
  • The Adjudicating Authority, appointed by the central government, reviews the attachment orders to ensure compliance with legal standards and procedural requirements.
  • Failure to confirm the attachment within the prescribed timeline results in automatic release of the attached property.
  1. Legal Ramifications Post-Confirmation:
  • Once confirmed, the accused retains the right to challenge the order within 45 days at the PMLA’s Appellate Tribunal.
  • If the order is upheld, the accused may pursue further legal avenues, while the attached property remains inaccessible until the conclusion of legal proceedings.
  1. Impact on Property Owners and Enforcement Agencies:
  • Confirmed attachments may lead to the ED taking possession of residential properties, compelling owners to evacuate.
  • Attached properties, including vehicles, may deteriorate over time as legal battles prolong, with significant financial implications for both parties.

PYQ:

 

[2013] Money laundering poses a serious security threat to a country’s economic sovereignty. What is its significance for India and what steps are required to be taken to control this menace?

 

[2019] Consider the following statements:

1.    The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) has a ‘Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air’.

2.    The UNCAC is the ever-first legally binding global anti-corruption instrument.

3.    A highlight of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) is the inclusion of a specific chapter aimed at returning assets to their rightful owners from whom they had been taken illicitly.

4.    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is mandated by its member States to assist in the implementation of both UNCAC and UNTOC.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, and 4

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Monsoon Updates

India, US to reactivate Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS)

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

India and the US have decided to reactivate the Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS).

What is IndOOS?

  • Established in 2006, the Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS) comprises moored buoys strategically placed across the Indian Ocean.
  • It consists of a network of 36 moored buoys in the high seas to collect high-resolution ocean and atmospheric data for weather forecasts.
  • These buoys measure various parameters like seawater temperature, salinity, ocean currents, atmospheric humidity, and wind speed.
  • IndOOS originally focused on understanding and predicting the monsoon.
  • It now aids in climate modelling under changing climatic conditions and predicts extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and cyclones.

Objectives of IndOOS include:

  1. The primary objective of IndOOS is to provide continuous and high-quality oceanographic and meteorological data to support informed decision-making and improve scientific understanding of weather and climate.
  2. It aims to foster partnerships among Indian Ocean countries and beyond to enhance long-term monitoring and forecasting capabilities.

Need for IndOOS

  • The Indian Ocean region, home to nearly one-third of the global population, faces significant vulnerabilities due to climate change and extreme weather events.
  • Fisheries and rain-dependent agriculture in these regions are heavily influenced by the monsoon, making accurate weather forecasts crucial for mitigating potential damage to crops and livelihoods.
  • The Indian Ocean’s influence extends beyond its boundaries, redistributing heat across the planet and modulating the climate in the Pacific, North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.

Observing Networks under IndOOS

  • The framework for IndOOS comprises five observing networks:
  1. Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA)
  2. Profiling floats (part of the global Argo array)
  3. Surface drifters (Global Drifter Program, GDP)
  4. Repeat temperature lines (eXpendable Bathy Thermograph (XBT) network)
  5. Tide gauges
  • These networks are complemented by satellite observations of surface wind, sea level, temperature, salinity, rainfall, and ocean color.

Partnerships and Support:

  • IndOOS originated from discussions among scientists during the First International Conference on the Ocean Observing System for Climate (OceanObs) in 1999.
  • An implementation plan for IndOOS was developed by the Indian Ocean Panel, established under the Climate and Ocean Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR) and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission – Global Ocean Observing System (IOC-GOOS) programs.

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Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.

Patanjali Misleading Advertisement Case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Obiter Dicta Lexicon, Misleading Advertisements

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Supreme Court ruling refusing to accept Patanjali’s MD’s unconditional apologies underscores the gravity of intentionally misleading advertisements and their repercussions.
  • Despite apologies, Patanjali’s breach of its commitment not to disseminate false claims about curing various illnesses led to this decision.

The Concept of Obiter Dicta Lexicon:

  • In the context of the criticism directed towards the Hon’ble Supreme Court Bench’s statement in the Patanjali case, the concept of “obiter dicta lexicon” may find relevance.
  • “Obiter dicta” is a Latin term that translates to “things said by the way” and refers to statements made by a judge in passing, which are not essential to the decision of the case at hand.
  • It refers to the use of language or expressions that are not directly relevant to the legal reasoning or decision-making process in a court judgment or opinion.

SC Bench Statement on Patanjali’s Apology:

  • The statement “we will rip you apart” is being criticized for being overly aggressive and potentially inappropriate for a judicial setting.
  • Therefore, in this case, the use of language that deviated from the core legal issues at hand and instead conveyed a sense of aggression or hostility could be viewed as part of the “obiter dicta lexicon.”

Understanding Misleading Advertisements:

  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 prohibits unfair trade practices, including misleading advertisements, and provides mechanisms for consumers to seek redressal for grievances related to misleading advertising.

Following are the types of Misleading Ads:

  1. False Claims: Advertisements with untrue statements about a product’s features or benefits.
  2. Exaggerated Claims: Ads that overstate a product’s benefits beyond reason.
  3. Omission of Material Information: Ads that hide important details consumers need to know.
  4. Comparative Advertising: Ads unfairly attacking competitors’ products.
  5. Endorsements and Testimonials: Ads using fake endorsements or testimonials.
  6. Health and Safety Claims: Ads with unproven health or safety benefits.
  7. Bait-and-Switch Tactics: Ads luring with false promises and switching to different offers.

Key Legislation dealing with Misleading Ads:

  1. Bureau of Indian Standards (Certification) Regulations, 1988
  2. Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006
  3. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act of 1955 (DOMA)
  4. The Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1940
  5. The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act of 2003

 

Regulatory Authorities dealing with the Issue:

  1. Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI): Ensures fairness and compliance with the ASCI Code in Indian commercials.
  2. Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA): Regulates consumer rights violations, unfair trade practices, and misleading marketing detrimental to public interests. It has issued the Guidelines for the Prevention and Endorsement of Misleading Advertisements, 2022.

About the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act of 1955 (DOMA):

  • The Magic Remedies Act encompasses the definition of “drug”.
  • It extends to include articles like talismans, mantras, and charms purportedly possessing miraculous healing powers.

Here are the key provisions of the Act:

  1. Prohibition of Certain Advertisements: The Act prohibits advertisements that claim to prevent or cure certain diseases or ailments listed in Schedule J of the Act through drugs or remedies. These diseases include conditions like cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, and epilepsy.
  2. Prohibition of Misleading Advertisements: The Act prohibits advertisements that are false or misleading in any material particular regarding the nature, substance, quality, or potency of any drug or remedy.
  3. Cognizance of Offences: No court shall take cognizance of any offence under the Act except on a complaint made by the government or by a person authorized by the government.
  4. Exemptions: The Act provides exemptions for advertisements of drugs or remedies containing certain substances or preparations listed in Schedule J if the advertisement conforms to the conditions specified in the Schedule.

Violations made by Patanjali Ayurveda

  1. Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act of 1954 (DOMA): By disseminating deceptive advertisements, Patanjali breached Section 4 of the DOMA, which prohibits the publication of false drug ads.
  2. Consumer Protection Act of 2019 (CPA): Patanjali made false claims in their advertisements about curing different illnesses, contravening Section 2(28) of the CPA, which defines “misleading advertisement”.
  3. Violation of MoU between Ministry of AYUSH and ASCI: Patanjali’s actions breached the memorandum signed between the Ministry of AYUSH and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), indicating non-compliance with agreed-upon standards for advertising practices.

PYQ:

[2012] With reference to consumers’ rights/privileges under the provisions of law in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

1.    Consumers are empowered to take samples for food testing.

2.    When a consumer files a complaint in any consumer forum, no fee is required to be paid.

3.    In case of death of a consumer, his/her legal heir can file a complaint in the consumer forum on his/her behalf.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Judicial Reforms

Doctrine of Harmonious Construction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Principles for Condonation of Delay, Doctrine of Harmonious Construction

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Supreme Court refused to condone a delay of 5659 days in an appeal filing, setting forth eight guiding principles by interpreting Sections 3 and 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, in ‘Harmonious Construction’.

What is the Doctrine of Harmonious Construction?

  • The doctrine of harmonious construction means figuring out how to understand different parts of a law that seem to disagree with each other.
  • This doctrine helps maintain consistency and coherence in legal interpretation, ensuring that legislative intent is upheld while resolving apparent conflicts within statutes.
  • Origin: The Origin of the Doctrine of Harmonious Construction dates back to the landmark Judgement of Sri Shankari Prasad Singh Deo v. Union of India (1951), when there existed conflict between Fundamental Rights and DPDP.
  • In the present context, the SC harmoniously construed Sections 3 and 5 of the Limitation Act, ensuring that the strict interpretation of limitation periods under Section 3 was balanced with the liberal approach to condonation of delay under Section 5.

What is Limitation Act, 1963?

  • The Limitation Act, 1963 is a statute enacted by the Parliament that prescribes the time limits within which legal proceedings can be initiated for various civil and criminal matters.
  • The Act sets out the specific time periods, known as limitation periods, within which a person must file a lawsuit or take legal action to enforce their rights or claim remedies for a particular cause of action.
  • Once the limitation period expires, the right to initiate legal proceedings becomes barred by law, and the aggrieved party loses the right to seek legal redress.

Here are its key features:

  • Applicability: The Limitation Act, 1963 applies to civil suits, appeals, and applications filed in courts across India, with exceptions for cases where specific statutes provide for different limitation periods.
  • Limitation Periods: The Act sets a limitation period of 3 years for filing suits related to recovery of debts, breach of contract, or injury to a person.
  • Commencement of Limitation: The limitation period typically begins from the date when the cause of action arises, which is when the aggrieved party becomes entitled to sue.
  • Extension and Suspension: The Act allows for certain circumstances where the limitation period may be extended or suspended. For instance, if the plaintiff is under a disability or if fraud is discovered, the limitation period may be extended.

Principles for Condonation of Delay

Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal presided over the bench that delineated these principles.

  1. Public Policy Basis: Limitation law aims to conclude litigation by forfeiting the remedy rather than the right itself.
  2. Temporal Limitation: Rights or remedies unexercised for a prolonged duration should cease to exist.
  3. Strict vs. Liberal Construction: Section 3 (limitation period) requires strict interpretation, while Section 5 (condonation of delay) demands a liberal approach.
  4. Substantial Justice: While promoting substantial justice, the core of limitation law (Section 3) must not be undermined.
  5. Discretionary Power: Courts may condone delay if sufficient cause is explained but may refrain due to factors like inordinate delay and negligence.
  6. Individual Justification: Relief granted to some does not mandate the same for others if delay justification is unsatisfactory.
  7. Merit Irrelevance: Merits of the case need not influence delay condonation decisions.
  8. Condonation Parameters: Applications for delay condonation must adhere to statutory provisions; overlooking conditions amounts to disregarding the law.

Why were these guidelines laid out?

  • These principles emerged from a case where legal heirs sought to challenge a High Court decision dismissing their plea to condone delay in filing an appeal against a Trial Court’s reference dismissal.
  • The litigant’s heirs argued insufficient knowledge about the dismissal due to her stay in the matrimonial house, leading to a delayed filing.
  • However, the Supreme Court rejected this argument, citing negligence in pursuing the reference and appeal, lack of procedural diligence, and acceptance of the reference court’s decision by most claimants.

PYQ:

 

[2021] With reference to Indian judiciary, consider the following statements:​

1. Any retired judge of the Supreme Court of India can be called back to sit and act as a Supreme Court judge by the Chief Justice of India with prior permission of the President of India.​

2. A High Court in India has the power to review its own judgement as the Supreme Court does.​

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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Air Pollution

NGT Intervention to prevent Stubble Burning

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Green Tribunal (NGT), Pusa-Biodecomposer

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Punjab government to devise a comprehensive strategy for managing the estimated 19.52 million tonnes of paddy stubble in the state.

About National Green Tribunal (NGT)

Description
Establishment Formed in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act as a statutory body.
Objective

 

  • To deal with cases related to environmental issues and ensure speedy implementation of decisions.
  • Responsible for making many prominent decisions aimed at environmental protection, including addressing air pollution in Delhi and cancelling coal block clearances.
Composition
  • Headquartered in Delhi, chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge
  • Included Judicial Members and Expert Panel.
Powers Empowered to decide on questions related to various environmental laws and hear civil cases concerning environmental issues:

  1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Exceptions Prohibited to hear any issues which are covered under:

  1. The Indian Forest Act, 1927,
  2. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and
  3. Any other laws made by States which are related to protection of trees, forests, etc.
Places
  • Principal bench in Delhi;
  • Additional benches in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai.
Governing Principles
  • Governed by principles of natural justice, not bound by Indian Evidence Act.
  • Applies principles of sustainable development, precautionary, and polluter pays.
Review and Challenge
  • NGT orders can be reviewed as per Rule 22 of NGT Rules.
  • Can be challenged before the Supreme Court within ninety days.

NGT intervention in Punjab

  • The ban and action against people burning crop residue are regulated under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • Punjab is required to provide details on the steps taken to utilize paddy straw in the previous year, including the mode and manner of removal, transportation, and utilization in various units.
  • Punjab estimated an increase in paddy straw generation to 52 million tonnes in 2024, with a projected utilization of 18.66 million tonnes.
  • Notably, the off-site utilization is expected to see a significant 60% increase, with 5.96 million tonnes being utilized in industrial and energy plants.

Alternatives used for Stubble Burning

  • In-Situ Treatment: This involves managing crop residue directly in the field. Examples include using zero-tiller machines and bio-decomposers to break down stubble.
  • Ex-Situ Treatment: This method involves treating crop residue outside the field. An example is using rice straw as cattle fodder.
  • Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) Technique: This can uproot stubble and sow seeds while clearing the field. The stubble can then be used as mulch.

Pusa-Biodecomposer

  • Pusa-Biodecomposer is a fungi-based liquid solution developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • It softens hard stubble, making it easy to mix with soil as compost.
  • It produces enzymes to digest cellulose, lignin, and pectin in paddy straw, rapidly converting crop residues and other waste into organic manure.

 

PYQ:

[2019] Consider the following:

1.    Carbon monoxide

2.    Methane

3.    Ozone

4.    Sulphur dioxide

Which of the above are released into atmosphere due to the burning of crop/biomass residue?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2, 3 and 4 only

(c) 1 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Microbial Formulations for Enhanced Agricultural Productivity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bactolime, Bactogypsum, and Trichogypsum; Soil Microbes

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), located in Kozhikode, has introduced and validated three new microbial formulations (Bactolime, Bactogypsum, and Trichogypsum) aimed at improving agricultural productivity.

IISR Microbial Formulations

  • It leverages granular lime and gypsum to address soil pH issues while simultaneously delivering beneficial microorganisms.
  • These are developed using IISR’s proprietary patent-applied technology.
  • The formulations are:
  1. Bactolime:
  • Bactolime, the flagship product, combines beneficial bacteria, specifically plant growth-promoting Rhizobacteria, with liming material in a single formulation.
  • This integration ensures not only the correction of soil acidity but also the provision of essential nutrients to plants.
  1. Bactogypsum and Trichogypsum:
  • The other two formulations, Bactogypsum and Trichogypsum, utilize gypsum as a base material to buffer soil pH to a near-neutral level.
  • By creating an optimal environment for beneficial microbes, these formulations improve soil structure, enhance the availability of secondary nutrients, and boost overall microbial activity.

Back2Basics: Soil Microbes

Soil microbes refer to microorganisms that inhabit the soil environment and play vital roles in soil health, nutrient cycling, and plant growth. These microorganisms are diverse and include bacteria, fungi, archaea, protozoa, and algae.

Function Benefits
Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria Convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, making it available to plants Enhance soil fertility, improve plant growth and yield
Phosphate-Solubilizing Bacteria Solubilize insoluble phosphorus, making it available to plants Increase phosphorus availability, promote root development and flowering
Mycorrhizal Fungi Form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, facilitate nutrient uptake Improve soil structure, enhance nutrient absorption, increase plant resilience
Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) Stimulate plant growth, enhance nutrient uptake, suppress pathogens Promote root development, improve nutrient efficiency, increase stress tolerance
Actinomycetes Decompose organic matter, produce antibiotics Enhance soil fertility, control soil-borne diseases and pests
Azotobacter Fix atmospheric nitrogen, produce growth-promoting substances Increase nitrogen availability, stimulate root growth and nutrient uptake
Azospirillum Fix atmospheric nitrogen, produce phytohormones Enhance nitrogen availability, promote root growth and stress tolerance
Bacillus spp. Produce antimicrobial compounds, enzymes Control plant diseases and pests, improve soil health and fertility

 

PYQ:

[2016] Why does the Government of India promote the use of ‘Neem-coated Urea’ in agriculture?

(a) Release of Neem oil in the soil increases nitrogen fixation by the soil microorganisms

(b) Neem coating slows down the rate of dissolution of urea in the soil

(c) Nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas, is not at all released into atmosphere by crop fields

(d) It is a combination of a weedicide and a fertilizer for particular crops

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Electoral Reforms In India

Candidates have a Right to Privacy from Voters: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Right to Privacy, RPA

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Supreme Court affirmed a candidate’s right to privacy from voters, stating that candidates need not divulge every aspect of their personal lives and possessions to the electorate.
  • It held that Voters Right to Know about the electors is NOT ABSOLUTE.

Right to Privacy in India:

  • The Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is interpreted as an intrinsic part of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
  • Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
  • In the landmark judgment of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India (2017), the Supreme Court explicitly recognized the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21.
  • The court held that privacy is an essential aspect of personal liberty and dignity, encompassing informational privacy, decisional autonomy, bodily integrity, and spatial privacy.
  • This right protects individuals against unwarranted intrusions into their private lives by the state or any other entity.
  • It includes the right to keep personal information confidential, to make decisions about one’s life and body without interference, and to maintain physical and spatial autonomy.

 

A candidate doesn’t need to declare every item of movable property, such as clothing, shoes, crockery, stationery, and furniture, unless these items are of such value as to constitute a sizeable asset in itself or reflect upon the candidate’s candidature in terms of their lifestyle – Supreme Court. 

What are Corrupt Practices under the RPA?

  • Section 123 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 defines “corrupt practices” to include bribery, undue influence, false information, and promotion of enmity among citizens based on religion, race, caste, etc.
  • Section 123(2) deals with “undue influence,” involving interference with electoral rights through threats or promises.
  • Undue influence can manifest in various forms, including threats of physical harm, coercion, intimidation, promises of reward or benefit, or exploitation of vulnerabilities.

Supreme Court’s Verdict

  1. Emphasis on Candidate’s Right to Privacy:
  • Upholding the appeal, the Supreme Court emphasized the candidate’s right to privacy, stating that not every non-disclosure automatically constitutes a defect.
  • The court highlighted that a candidate is not required to disclose every item of movable property unless it reflects upon their candidature or lifestyle.
  1. Case-specific Evaluation:
  • The court emphasized that each case must be judged on its own merits, without applying a blanket rule.
  • The Court emphasized that non-disclosure of certain personal possessions does not amount to a “defect of a substantial nature” under Section 36(4) of the 1951 Act.
  1. Example of “High-value” Assets:
  • Suppression of high-priced assets, indicating a lavish lifestyle, would constitute undue influence.
  • However, ownership of simple, low-value items may not be considered a defect.

PYQ:

[2017] For election to the Lok Sabha, a nomination paper can be filed by-

(a) Anyone residing in India.

(b) A resident of the constituency from which the election is to be contested.

(c) Any citizen of India whose name appears in the electoral roll of a constituency.

(d) Any citizen of India.

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International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

NASA to establish Coordinated Lunar Time

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Coordinated Lunar Time, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The White House directed NASA to establish a time standard for the Moon, named Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) by the end of 2026.
  • This move aims to facilitate coordination among international bodies and private companies operating on the lunar surface.

Timekeeping on the Moon

  • The Moon has its own day and night cycle, which lasts about 29.5 Earth days.
  • Currently, the time on the Moon is measured using Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is the same timekeeping system used on the Earth.
  • However, because the Moon’s day is much longer than Earth’s day, it would be difficult to use UTC for day-to-day activities on the Moon.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

  • UTC is a time standard introduced on January 1, 1960.
  • It is based on International Atomic Time (TAI), which is maintained by atomic clocks around the world.
  • It is the primary time standard used by many countries, international organizations, and scientific research institutions.
  • It is expressed as a 24-hour clock and is used to indicate the time offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+0).
  • Time zones are defined as an offset from UTC, with some time zones being ahead of UTC (UTC+1, UTC+2, etc.) and others being behind UTC (UTC-1, UTC-2, etc.).
  • It is adjusted periodically to account for changes in the Earth’s rotation, which can cause variations in the length of a day.
  • These adjustments are made through the addition of leap seconds to UTC, which help to keep the time standard synchronized with the Earth’s rotation.

Need for a Lunar Time Standard

  1. Earth’s Time Standard:
  • Earth’s time standard is primarily based on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), set by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris, France.
  • UTC is determined by a weighted average of over 400 atomic clocks worldwide, providing a universally agreed-upon standard for time measurement.
  1. Challenges with Earth’s Time Standard on the Moon:
  • Time on the Moon differs from Earth due to factors like gravity and the Moon’s rotation.
  • Time on the Moon ticks slightly faster due to lower gravity (about 56 microseconds every day) as per Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

Establishing a Lunar Time Standard:

  1. Technical Considerations:
  • LTC cannot be based on UTC due to the time differences between Earth and the Moon.
  • Current lunar missions operate on independent timescales linked to UTC, but this approach becomes challenging with multiple space crafts on the Moon.
  1. Deployment of Atomic Clocks:
  • Like on Earth, atomic clocks can be deployed on the lunar surface to establish a time standard.
  • A 2023 report suggests placing at least three atomic clocks on the Moon’s surface, accounting for variations in lunar rotation and local gravity.
  1. Synthesizing Time Measurements:
  • Atomic clocks placed at different lunar locations will tick at the Moon’s natural pace.
  • Output from these clocks will be combined using algorithms to generate a unified time standard for the Moon, tied back to UTC for Earth operations.

Earth’s Latitudinal Variations on Time

  • On Earth, atomic clocks placed at different latitudes experience variations in time due to differences in rotational speed of Earth.
  • Earth rotates faster at the Equator compared to the poles, resulting in different time measurements.

 

Benefits offered by Lunar Time

  • Having a lunar time zone would also make it easier for scientists and researchers to conduct experiments and collect data on the Moon.
  • It would also help to prevent confusion and errors that could arise from using different timekeeping systems on Earth and the Moon.

PYQ:

[2015] Tides occur in the oceans and seas due to which among the following?

1. The gravitational force of the Sun

2. The gravitational force of the Moon

3. The centrifugal force of the Earth

Select the correct option using the code given below:

(a) 1 Only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Invasive Alien Species and their Management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Invasive Alien Species

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration sought assistance from the Wildlife Institute of India to manage the increasing population of chital (spotted deer) in Ross Island, officially known as the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island.

Chital in Andaman Islands

  • The Chital, originally native to mainland India, were introduced to Ross Island (0.3 sq km) by the British in the early 20th century.
  • Lacking natural predators or competitors and possessing strong swimming abilities, the Chital rapidly proliferated across the Andamans.

About Chital(spotted deer)

  • The Spotted Deer, scientifically known as Axis axis, is a species of deer native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is characterized by its reddish-brown coat adorned with white spots, particularly prominent in juveniles.
  • Spotted Deer inhabit various types of forest habitats, including dry and moist deciduous forests, grasslands, and open woodlands.
  • The Spotted Deer is classified as a species of Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and Schedule II animal under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Definition of Invasive Alien Species (IAS):

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines invasive alien species (IAS) as species whose introduction and/or spread outside their natural past or present distribution poses a threat to biological diversity.
  • These species encompass animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms, and can affect various types of ecosystems.
  • According to the CBD, characteristics of IAS include their ability to “arrive, survive, and thrive” in new environments.

Legal Definition in India:

  • In India, the legal definition of IAS, as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (amended in 2022), is narrower.
  • It refers to species of animal or plant not native to India whose introduction or spread may threaten or adversely impact wildlife or its habitat.
  • Notably, this definition EXCLUDES species within India that may be invasive to specific regions, such as the chital in the Andamans.

Examples of Invasive Wildlife in India:

  1. Fish Species:
    • Examples include the African catfish, Nile tilapia, red-bellied piranha, and alligator gar.
    • These species were introduced to fulfill the demand for maintaining aquariums.
    • Reports indicate their presence in various inland systems and lakes in India.
  2. Turtle Species:
    • Notably, the red-eared slider, a favored exotic pet in India, is often abandoned in local water bodies.
    • Originating from North America, this species is known for outcompeting local freshwater species due to its rapid reproduction.

Impact of IAS on Native Flora and Fauna

  1. Disruption of Ecosystem Balance:
    • Invasive species act as disruptors in the food chain, disturbing the balance of ecosystems.
    • In habitats lacking competition, invasive species can dominate the entire ecosystem.
  2. Specific Examples:
    • In Keoladeo Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the African catfish has been observed preying on waterfowl and migratory birds.
    • Studies have shown that the proliferation of chital in the Andamans has negatively impacted the regeneration of native vegetation, as these deer are known to consume seeds and seedlings.

IAS’ Economic Impact:

  1. Global Perspective:
    • A report by the UN-founded Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in September 2023 revealed that approximately 37,000 established alien species were introduced worldwide, with roughly 200 new alien species introduced annually.
    • The economic cost of IAS globally surpassed $423 billion annually in 2019, primarily due to the damage inflicted on natural ecosystems.
  2. Local Implications:
    • In India, the National Biodiversity Action Plan of 2019, published by the National Biodiversity Authority, highlighted the economic impact of invasive species such as the cotton mealybug (Phenacoccus solenopsis).
    • This invasive species, native to North America, has significantly affected cotton crops in the Deccan region, leading to substantial yield losses.

PYQ:

[2011] The Himalayan Range is very rich in species diversity. Which one among the following is the most appropriate reason for this Phenomenon?

(a) It has a high rainfall that supports luxuriant vegetative growth.

(b) It is a confluence of different bio-geographical zones.

(c) Exotic and invasive species have not been introduced in this region.

(d) It has less human interference.

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Horticulture, Floriculture, Commercial crops, Bamboo Production – MIDH, NFSM-CC, etc.

CDP-SURAKSHA Digital Platform for Horticulture Subsidies

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cluster Development Programme (CDP), CDP-SURAKSHA

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The government has introduced a new platform called CDP-SURAKSHA for disbursing subsidies to horticulture farmers under the Cluster Development Programme (CDP).

India’s Horticulture Sector:

  • India’s horticulture sector contributes nearly 1/3rd to the agriculture GVA, making a substantial economic contribution.
  • The total production of horticulture crops has increased, from 240.53 million tonnes in 2010-11 to 334.60 million tonnes in 2020-21.

What is CDP-SURAKSHA?

  • CDP-SURAKSHA is a digital platform acronym for “System for Unified Resource Allocation, Knowledge, and Secure Horticulture Assistance.”
  • It facilitates instant subsidy disbursal to farmers’ bank accounts using the e-RUPI voucher from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • It provides upfront subsidies during material purchase, and vendors receive payment only after farmers verify delivery.

Key Features include database integration with PM-KISAN, cloud-based server space from NIC, UIDAI validation, eRUPI integration, LGD, content management system, geotagging, and geo-fencing.

Operational Mechanism of CDP-SURAKSHA

  1. Farmer Interaction:
    • Farmers, vendors, implementing agencies (IA), cluster development agencies (CDAs), and National Horticulture Board (NHB) officials can access the platform.
    • Farmers can log in using their mobile number, place orders for planting material, and contribute their share of the cost.
  2. Subsidy Disbursement:
    • After raising the demand, farmers receive the subsidy amount automatically on the screen.
    • Upon paying their contribution, an e-RUPI voucher is generated and received by the vendor, who supplies the planting material.
    • Farmers verify the delivery through geo-tagged media, following which the IA releases payment to the vendor.

Significance of e-RUPI

  • e-RUPI is a one-time payment mechanism redeemable without cards or digital payment apps, used for specific purposes.
  • It is shared with beneficiaries via SMS or QR code and accepted at merchants supporting e-RUPI.

Old System vs. CDP-SURAKSHA:

  • Previously, farmers purchased planting materials independently and then approached officials for subsidy release.

Cluster Development Program (CDP)

 

  • CDP, under National Horticulture Board (NHB), aims to leverage horticulture clusters’ geographical specialization for integrated development.
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme aimed at growing and developing identified horticulture clusters to make them globally competitive.
  • 55 clusters have been identified, with 12 selected for the pilot phase, covering 9 lakh hectares and 10 lakh farmers.
  • It provides government assistance based on cluster size—up to Rs 25 crore for mini clusters, Rs 50 crore for medium, and Rs 100 crore for mega clusters.

 

PYQ:

[2019]Among the agricultural commodities imported by India, which one of the following accounts for the highest imports in terms of value in the last five years?

(a) Spices

(b) Fresh fruits

(c) Pulses

(d) Vegetable oils

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Tribes in News

Tribes in news: Jenu Kuruba

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jenu Kuruba Tribals

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

This newscard is an excerpt from an articles which delves into the historical and social context of the Jenu Kuruba community, including their displacement from their traditional lands in the Western Ghats due to conservation efforts.

About Jenu Kuruba

  • The Jenu Kuruba tribe, numbering around 37,000, resides primarily in the Nilgiris region, bordering Kerala and Karnataka.
  • Their traditional occupation involves collecting honey in the forest, reflected in their name where ‘Jenu’ means ‘honey’ in Kannada.
  • In the early 20th century, they lived in forest huts and engaged in cultivation.

Social organization of Jenu Kurubas’

  • They speak the Jenu Kurumba language, which is related to Kodava or considered a rural dialect of Kannada.
  • Historically, they engaged in activities like food gathering, collecting minor forest produce, and handling elephants.
  • They typically reside in small settlements known as Hadi and practice shifting cultivation.
  • Social organization within the community is semi-nomadic, with decentralized authority led by a head-man (yajamana) and a ritual head or shaman (gudda).

Their rehabilitation

  • The tribe has fought for their rights to live in reserved forests, most recently in 2020 under the Forest Rights Act.
  • In 2021, protests continued against the forest department for promoting eco-tourism and safaris, which are deemed illegal under Indian and international laws.
  • From the 1970s onwards, many Jenu Kurubas have been evicted from their homes due to conservation efforts in tiger reserves like Nagarhole and Bandipur.
  • Those relocated outside the forest often work as daily wagers, agricultural laborers, or on coffee estates in Kodagu.

PYQ:

[2013] Consider the following pairs :

Tribe: State

1. Limboo Limbu : Sikkim

2. Karbi : Himachal

3. Dongaria Kondh : Odisha

4. Bonda : Tamil Nadu

Which of the above pairs are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

 

[2014] With reference to ‘Changpa’ community of India, consider the following statement :

1.    They live mainly in the State of Uttarakhand.

2.    They rear the Pashmina goats that yield a fine wool.

3.    They are kept in the category of Scheduled Tribes.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Air-breathing Magnesium- Copper- Cupric Oxide Fuel Cell

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Magnesium - Copper -Cupric Oxide Fuel Cell

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Researchers at the University of Kerala have devised an eco-friendly fuel cell that primarily utilizes air and seawater to generate power.

Magnesium – Copper -Cupric Oxide Fuel Cell

  • A semiconducting layer of Cupric Oxide grown over Copper substrate was used in a Magnesium- Sodium Chloride based fuel cell.
  • It breathes air; produces only electricity and heat during its operation and emits pure water.
  • The prototype, measuring 3 cm × 1.5 cm × 1 cm, delivered a voltage of 0.7 V and a current of 0.35 A for a duration of 10 minutes, showcasing the potential for practical application.

What is a Fuel Cell?

  • A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy into electricity of a fuel and an oxidizing agent.
  • It generates electrical energy from fuel through an electrochemical reaction, offering high efficiency and zero emissions.
  • They are an innovative technology poised to revolutionize electricity generation, often referred to as the “battery of the future“.
  • Fuel cells provide high efficiency, low emissions, and can be used in various applications.
  • Note: Any electrochemical cell generates DC (Direct Current) output.

Significance of the Device

  • This innovative fuel cell technology is anticipated to disrupt the market dominance of Lithium-ion batteries, offering a higher power output.
  • Unlike conventional batteries, the Magnesium-based fuel cells utilized in this research operate by utilizing saline water as fuel and extracting oxygen from the surrounding air.

PYQ:

2015:

With reference to ‘fuel cells’ in which hydrogen-rich fuel and oxygen are used to generate electricity, consider the following statements :

1.    If pure hydrogen is used as a fuel, the fuel cell emits heat and water as by-products.

2.    Fuel cells can be used for powering buildings and not for small devices like laptop computers.

3.    Fuel cells produce electricity in the form of Alternating Current (AC).

Which of the statements given above is / are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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ISRO Missions and Discoveries

POEM-3: ISRO’s ‘Zero Orbital Debris’ Milestone

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PSLV-C58/XPoSat , POEM-3

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said its PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission has practically left zero debris in earth’s orbit.

About PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3)

  • Launched on January 1, 2024, POEM-3 utilized the spent PS4 stage of the PSLV-C58 vehicle, which initially launched XPoSat.
  • It is a three-axis-altitude controlled platform with power generation and tele-command & telemetry capabilities, for supporting Payloads.
  • The XPoSat mission aimed to leave no debris in space, demonstrating ISRO’s commitment to responsible space practices.
  • Upon deployment into its orbit at 650 km, POEM-3 was maneuvered to a 350 km circular orbit to minimize orbit decay time after the experiment’s completion.
  • After completing 400 orbits, POEM-3 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere after 73 days in space.

Significance of this achievement

  • With the rise in the number of satellites in orbit around the earth, space debris has become a pressing issue.
  • Space debris in the low earth orbit (LEO) mainly comprises pieces of spacecraft, rockets, and defunct satellites, and the fragments of objects that have deteriorated explosively as a result of anti-satellite missile tests.
  • This debris often flies around at high speeds of up to 27,000 kilometres per hour.
  • Due to their sheer volume and momentum, they pose a risk to several space assets.

Threats posed by Space Debris

  • Space debris also leads to two major risks:
  1. It creates unusable regions of the orbit due to excessive debris, and
  2. Leads to the ‘Kessler syndrome’ – creation of more debris due to cascading collisions resulting from one collision.

Various Initiatives to mitigate the Space Debris Issue

Description
Project NETRA ISRO initiative for early warning system in space to detect debris and hazards to the Indian satellites.

It can spot, track and catalogue objects as small as 10 cm, up to a range of 3,400 km and equal to a space orbit of around 2,000 km.

Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines Established in 2002 by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and endorsed by the United Nations in 2007.
Zero Debris Charter by ESA Adopted by the European Space Agency (ESA) with the goal of achieving zero space debris by 2030.
NASA’s Orbital Debris Program NASA’s initiative since 1979, focusing on reducing orbital debris creation, tracking existing debris, and exploring debris removal technologies.
Space Force Tracking System Implemented by the U.S. Space Force to monitor space debris and assess collision risks in low Earth orbit (LEO).
Chinese Debris Removal Initiatives China’s efforts include deploying spacecraft for debris removal with innovative technologies like solar sails.
Japanese CRD2 Demonstration Partnership between Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Astroscale to develop debris removal technologies.

 

Practice MCQ:

ISRO’s PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3) recently re-entered Earth’s Orbit. What is so significant about this re-entry?

(a) It practically left zero debris in earth’s orbit.

(b) It facilitated groundbreaking research on the effects of microgravity on biological organisms.

(c) It paved the way for the development of reusable spacecraft technology, reducing the cost of future space missions.

(d) None of these.

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