Himalai Celebrating its 20th year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.

Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

1. WASP-121b,

Scientists have discovered the strongest evidence to date for a stratosphere on a planet outside our solar system, or exoplanet. A stratosphere is a layer of atmosphere in which temperature increases with higher altitudes.

Reporting in the journal Nature, scientists used data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study WASP-121b, a type of exoplanet called a “hot Jupiter.” Its mass is 1.2 times that of Jupiter, and its radius is about 1.9 times Jupiter’s — making it puffier. But while Jupiter revolves around our sun once every 12 years, WASP-121b has an orbital period of just 1.3 days. This exoplanet is so close to its star that if it got any closer, the star’s gravity would start ripping it apart. It also means that the top of the planet’s atmosphere is heated to a blazing 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,500 Celsius), hot enough to boil some metals. The WASP-121 system is estimated to be about 900 light years from Earth – a long way, but close by galactic standards

Previous research found possible signs of a stratosphere on the exoplanet WASP-33b as well as some other hot Jupiters. The new study presents the best evidence yet because of the signature of hot water molecules that researchers observed for the first time.

To study the stratosphere of WASP-121b, scientists analyzed how different molecules in the atmosphere react to particular wavelengths of light, using Hubble’s capabilities for spectroscopy. Water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere, for example, behaves in predictable ways in response to certain wavelengths of light, depending on the temperature of the water.

Starlight is able to penetrate deep into a planet’s atmosphere, where it raises the temperature of the gas there. This gas then radiates its heat into space as infrared light. However, if there is cooler water vapor at the top of the atmosphere, the water molecules will prevent certain wavelengths of this light from escaping to space. But if the water molecules at the top of the atmosphere have a higher temperature, they will glow at the same wavelengths.

The phenomenon is similar to what happens with fireworks, which get their colors from chemicals emitting light. When metallic substances are heated and vaporized, their electrons move into higher energy states. Depending on the material, these electrons will emit light at specific wavelengths as they lose energy: sodium produces orange-yellow and strontium produces red in this process, for example. The water molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-121b similarly give off radiation as they lose energy, but in the form of infrared light, which the human eye is unable to detect.

In Earth’s stratosphere, ozone gas traps ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which raises the temperature of this layer of atmosphere. Other solar system bodies have stratospheres, too; methane is responsible for heating in the stratospheres of Jupiter and Saturn’s moon Titan, for example.

In solar system planets, the change in temperature within a stratosphere is typically around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 56 degrees Celsius). On WASP-121b, the temperature in the stratosphere rises by 1,000 degrees (560 degrees Celsius). Scientists do not yet know what chemicals are causing the temperature increase in WASP-121b’s atmosphere. Vanadium oxide and titanium oxide are candidates, as they are commonly seen in brown dwarfs, “failed stars” that have some commonalities with exoplanets. Such compounds are expected to be present only on the hottest of hot Jupiters, as high temperatures are needed to keep them in a gaseous state.

“This super-hot exoplanet is going to be a benchmark for our atmospheric models, and it will be a great observational target moving into the Webb era,” said Hannah Wakeford, study co-author who worked on this research while at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

2. Mekong-Ganga Cooperation

The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC), established in the year 2000, focusses on expanding cooperation between India and countries of the Mekong region, viz. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. The key areas of cooperation under MGC are tourism, culture, education, and transport & communications, which aim to strengthen the ties between the peoples of the two regions. Efforts are also underway to widen collaboration between MGC countries in SMEs, conservation of rice germplasm, health and pandemic management, establishment of a Common Archival Resource Centre at Nalanda University and through Quick Impact Projects. The most visible manifestation of MGC is the MGC Museum of Traditional Asian Textiles at Siem Reap, Cambodia, established with Indian assistance in April 2014.

Through the ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund, granted six scholarships to students from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to pursue a Masters degree at Nalanda University. Selected students are eligible for waiver of full fees, including tuition fees, boarding, lodging and travel fare, for the period of study. A total of 4 students (2 from Laos, 2 from Myanmar and none from Cambodia) are currently studying at Nalanda University under this scholarship.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942 was promulgated by the British on 15 August 1942 to suppress the Quit India Movement.[10] Modeled on these lines, four ordinances—the Bengal Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance; the Assam Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance; the East Bengal Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance; the United provinces Disturbed Areas (Special Powers of Armed Forces) Ordinance were invoked by the central government to deal with the internal security situation in the country in 1947 which arouse out of the Partition of India.

3. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA)

Armed Forces Special Powers (Assam and Manipur) Act, 1958
In 1951, the Naga National Council Nation’. There was a boycott of the first general election of 1952 which later extended to a boycott of government schools and officials.In order to deal with the situation, the Assam government imposed the Assam Maintenance of Public Order (Autonomous District) Act in the Naga Hills in 1953 and intensified police action against the rebels. When the situation worsened, Assam deployed the Assam Rifles in the Naga Hills and enacted the Assam Disturbed Areas Act of 1955, providing a legal framework for the paramilitary forces and the armed state police to combat insurgency in the region. But the Assam Rifles and the state armed police could not contain the Naga rebellion and the rebel Naga Nationalist Council (NNC) formed a parallel government “The Federal Government of Nagaland” on 23 March 1956.The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance 1958 was promulgated by the President Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 22 May 1958. It was replaced by the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958 on 11 September 1958.

The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958 empowered only the Governors of the States and the Administrators of the Union Territories to declare areas in the concerned State or the Union Territory as ‘disturbed’. The reason for conferring such a power as per “Objects and Reasons'” appended to the Bill was that “Keeping in view the duty of the Union under Article 355 of the Constitution, interalia, to protect every State against internal disturbance, it is considered desirable that the Central government should also have power to declare areas as ‘disturbed’, to enable its armed forces to exercise the special powers”. The territorial scope of Act also expanded to the five states of the North-East – Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. In addition, the words “The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958” were substituted by “Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958”, getting the acronym of AFSPA, 1958.

Recently the Tripura state government has decided to withdraw the controversial Act, citing significant reduction in the extent of terrorist activities in the state. In June 2015, after review, the AFSPA in Nagaland state was extended by one more year.

In November 2016, Government of India has extended AFSPA in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh- Tirap, Changlang and Longding. The period has further been extended by another 6 months in above three districts of Arunachal Pradesh in April, 2018. These have been declared as “disturbed area” under Section 3 of the AFSPA. In these districts, Naga underground factions including National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and NSCN (Khaplang) are involved in extortion, recruitment of locals, and rivalry.

The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act, 1983
The central government enacted the Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act on 6 October 1983, repealing The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Ordinance, 1983, to enable the central armed forces to operate in the state of Punjab and the union territory of Chandigarh. The Act was enforced in the whole of Punjab and Chandigarh on 15 October 1983. The terms of the Act broadly remained the same as that of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Assam and Manipur) of 1972 except for two sections, which provided additional powers to the armed forces.
1. Sub-section (e) was added to Section 4 stipulating that any vehicle can be stopped, searched and seized forcibly if it is suspected of carrying proclaimed offenders or ammunition.
2. Section 5 was added to the Act specifying that a soldier has the power to break open any locks “if the key there of is withheld”.
 The Act was withdrawn in 1997, roughly 14 years after it came to force.
 The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990
 The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 was enacted in September, 1990.
 If the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir or the Central Government, is of opinion that the whole or any part of the State is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition then this Act can be imposed.
 There is no proposal to amend the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990.
 There is no proposal under consideration of Government of India to withdraw the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 from Jammu and Kashmir.
 However, a proposal is under consideration to make Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 more operationally effective and humane

4. Swachh Survekshan Gramin

The Quality Council of India (QCI) has conducted a transparent third-party assessment of the present status of rural sanitation in all States and UTs, called Swachh Survekshan Gramin .

Under the Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017, QCI surveyed 1.4 lakh rural households across 4626 villages, and found the overall toilet coverage to be 62.45%. At the time of the survey, i.e. May-June 2017, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) MIS reported the coverage to be 63.73%. The survey also observed that 91.29% of the people having access to a toilet, use it.

It was also announced at the press conference that, to encourage States and districts to improve their Sanitation coverage and Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM), the MDWS will also begin ranking all districts in India based on the data available on the SBM-G IMIS quarterly. The ranking will be done based on parameters of Performance, Sustainability and Transparency, and the first ranking will be announced on 2nd October, 2017 for the quarter July-September 2017. To instil healthy competition amongst districts, they will also be given awards based on this ranking on a quarterly basis. The formula for calculating these rankings will be:

Total score (100) = Performance (50) + Sustainability (25) + Transparency (25)
The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) will celebrate the week leading up to the 70thIndependence Day as “Khule Mein Shauch Se Azaadi”saptaah. Highlights of this week are:
1. More than 24 States have prepared their Swachhta Action Plan for the week to reinforce their swachhta efforts by innovative methods and with community engagement.
2. On 12 August, 2017, MDWS and MoWR, RD & GR will jointly announce 24 Ganga Grams from five States, Uttarakhand (3), UP (10), Bihar (4), Jharkhand (5) and West Bengal (2) to make them Aadarsh Ganga Gram.
3. 30 SwachhtaRaths will be launched at Allahabad on August 12, 2017 in the presence of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Shri Tomar.
4. Swachhta Raths will also be launched in other parts of the country.

5. Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs). The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012. So far, 75 countries have ratified the Second Commitment Period.

In view of the critical role played by India in securing international consensus on climate change issues, this decision further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice. Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by India will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise. Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under this commitment period in accordance with Suslainable Development priorities will attract some investments in India as well.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) seeks to stabilise Green House Gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would minimize interference with the climate system. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol places commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and the 1st commitment period was from 2008-2012. At Doha in 2012, the amendments to Kyoto Protocol for the 2nd commitment period (the Doha Amendment) were successfully adopted for the period 2013- 2020. Developed countries have already started implementing their commitments under the ‘opt-in’ provisions of the Doha Amendment.

India has always emphasized the importance of climate actions by developed country Parties in the pre-2020 period. Besides, it has advocated climate actions based on the principles and provisions of the Convention, such as the principle of Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR & RC).

6. Satellite System Supplies

The conference was intended to enhance the participation of suppliers/ Industries in various aspects of satellite technology including production activities. During the conference, various opportunities for industries in satellite technology were discussed. The delegates were also informed about Expression of Interest (EoI) floated by ISRO seeking industry participation in Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) of standardized ISRO satellites.

To meet the growing demands of space applications addressing the national priorities, ISRO has prepared a plan for realizing
i) Earth observation satellites with the capabilities of high resolution, hyper-spectral, all weather imaging, stereo imaging, wind vector measurements, ocean & meteorological observations;
ii) High throughput communication satellites, high power DTH satellites;
iii) Enhanced navigation constellation;
iv) Space exploration missions viz. Chandrayaan-2, Aditya-L1, XpoSAT. The indicative demand in the next five years is estimated to be of 70 satellites. The approvals for 40 satellites missions have been obtained.

ISRO has standardized design of major satellite subsystems in the areas viz. telemetry, tele-command, power, control systems, structural systems, spacecraft mechanisms etc. and has outsourced fabrication and testing activities to Industry. It is envisaged to enhance the industry participation towards productionization of such subsystems on an end-to-end basis, which include components procurement, fabrication, package assembly and testing by vendor as per ISRO’s design.

7. National Cyber Crime Coordination Centre

The Expert Group constituted in the Ministry of Home Affairs to prepare a roadmap for effectively tackling cyber crimes in the country has recommended to set up an Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to fight against cyber crimes in the country. This has been accepted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, in-principle, for effective execution of online cyber crime reporting, cybercrime monitoring, setting up of forensic units, capacity building of police, prosecutors & judicial officials, promotion of Research & Development, awareness creation etc.

8. Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)

The Government of India has decided to launch a new sub-scheme named “Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)” as part of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). The Self Help Groups under DAY-NRLM will operate road transport service in backward areas. This will help to provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services to connect remote villages with key services and amenities (such as access to markets, education and health) for the overall economic development of backward rural areas. This will also provide an additional avenue of livelihood for SHGs. The basic outline of AGEY was discussed in a meeting of State Transport Ministers of 13 States held in June 2016 at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and all the Transport Ministers had expressed their appreciation of this initiative.

The Community Investment Fund (CIF) provided to Community Based Organization (CBOs) under DAY-NRLM will be utilized to support the SHG members in this new livelihoods initiative. The beneficiary SHG member will be provided an interest free loan by the CBO from its Community Investment Fund upto Rs.6.50 lakh for purchase of the vehicle. Alternative, CBO will own the vehicle and lease it to an SHG member to operate the vehicle and pay lease rental to the CBO
AGEY will be initially implemented in 250 Blocks in the country on pilot basis with each Block provided upto 6 vehicles to operate the transport services. During the current year implementation of the scheme has been so far approved for 52 Blocks in 8 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal with a total provision of Rs.16.06 Crore of which the Government of India share would be Rs.10.16 Crore. The balance funding would be provided by the respective States.

The Blocks will be selected by States from among the Blocks where NRLM is being implemented intensively and where mature CBOs are already functioning. Backwardness, lack of transportation links and sustainability of service would be the guiding factors in the selection of Blocks and routes.
The State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) will do a feasibility study and traffic survey in the selected blocks to identity the routes and the number and capacity of vehicles which can be operated on sustainable basis. The study will be conducted by technically sound organizations with expertise in transport network planning. The choice of vehicle could be either e-riksha, 3 wheeler or 4 wheeler within a cost ceiling of Rs.6.50 lakh.

The SRLMs will be co-ordinating with State Transport Department for issue of permit for the vehicle. The SHG member operating the vehicle shall ensure that all necessary legal and statutory requirement such as valid permit, road tax permit, valid insurance policy etc. are met.

The SHG member shall run the vehicle on approved routes at pre-determined frequency as jointly agreed between the CBO and the SHG operator based on financial viability and the need for transport link.

All vehicles under the scheme shall have a defined colour code and carry AGEY branding to ensure their identity and avoid diversion to other routes.

The State Rural Livelihood Mission will arrange capacity building for their staff at State, District and Block levels for operating the Scheme. The members of the CBO and the beneficiary SHG member shall also be provided adequate training in the Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) and other partner organizations.

9. US scientists develop a first plant-based vaccine against Zika

 Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
 People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or a headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
 There is a scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.

US scientists have been successful in developing a plant-based Zika vaccine that could be more effective and economical to produce than other Zika medicines. Experiments of immunisation on mice have showed a 100 per cent success in triggering antibody and cellular immune response to protect against multiple Zika virus strains, the researchers said. The new plant-based vaccine is safer and more economical than any other current alternative with equivalent effectiveness. The vaccine is developed using tobacco plant, which targets a key protein called DIII, which forms an envelope around the Zika virus and plays a vital role in helping the virus to infect people.

By creating this protein without the dangerous virus within it, it can be used to immunize people to the real strain of Zika virus, the researchers said.


IMMSAREX:- An IONS Multilateral Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX), under the aegis of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), was conducted by Bangladesh at Cox’s Bazar from 25 – 29 November 2017. Four IN ships (Ranvir, Sahyadri, Gharial, and Sukanya) and one aircraft (P8I) participated in the exercise. In addition to the ships from the host nation Bangladesh, ships from Iran, Indonesia, and China also participated in the exercise. The Chief of Naval Staff also visited Bangladesh for the Extraordinary Conclave of Chiefs held concurrently.

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