13 September, 2019

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K2 18B

GS-III: K2 18B


K2-18b is now the only planet orbiting a star outside the Solar System known to have both water and temperatures that could be potentially habitable.

K2 18b:

  • About 110 light years from Earth, an exoplanet eight times the mass of Earth orbits a star. Called K2-18b, it was discovered in 2015 by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.
  • The researchers used 2016-17 data from the Hubble Space Telescope and developed algorithms to analyse the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere.
  • The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapour, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere.
  • It resides in a habitable zone the region around a star in which liquid water could potentially pool on the surface of a rocky planet.
  • Scientists have found signatures of water vapour in the atmosphere of K2-18b. The discovery of water vapour is not the final word on the possibility of life.
  • That makes it the only planet orbiting a star outside the Solar System that is known to have both water and temperatures that could support life.

Not ‘Earth 2.0’

  • K2-18b is not ‘Earth 2.0’ as it is significantly heavier and has a different atmospheric composition.
  • For one thing, K2-18b’s size and surface gravity are much larger than Earth’s. Its radiation environment may be hostile.


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How world is losing fertile land

GS-III: How world is losing fertile land


For the last two weeks, India has been hosting the meeting of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. A major global agreement on issues related to land, the convention (UNCCD) seeks to address the phenomenon of desertification, the process through which fertile and productive land become degraded and unfit for useful activities like agriculture.

Why is desertification a concern?

  • A variety of factors both natural and human-induced are known to be affecting the productivity of land and making them desert like.
  • Increasing populations and the resultant demand for food and water feed for cattles and a wide variety of ecosystem services.
  • Natural processes such as rising global temperature increase the frequency and intensity of droughts and changing weather patterns have put further pressure on the land.
  • UN Environment Programme is said about 25% of world’s land area has been degraded.
  • IPCC came out with special report on land the rate of soil erosion in many areas of the world was up to 100 times faster than the rate of soil formation.

What is the Convention to combat Desertification?

  • It is the first and only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification.
  • 1992: Rio conference of 1992 resulted in 5 document’s. One of them was Agenda 21.UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) stems from a direct recommendation of agenda 21.
  • 1994: UNCCD was finally adopted in Paris, France on June 17, 1994. That’s why June 17 has been observed as the ‘World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD).
  • 1996: It was ratified in December 1996.

India and UNCCD:

  • India became a signatory to UNCCD on October 14, 1994 and ratified it on December 17, 1996.
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for the Convention.

National action programmes:

  • Member countries should constitute a National Action Programmes.
  • Under this member countries will identify the factors contributing to desertification and the practical measures necessary to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought.

What changes can be expected on the basis of CCD meeting?

A meeting of UNCCD is not expected to come up with any heading-grabbing decision.

The discussions at the CCD have so far remained technical, mainly focusing on the kinds of activities that can be undertaken degraded landed 2030.

Approximately 80 per cent of the worlds’ extremely poor live in rural areas and land degradation has become an important factor in rural poverty. Nearly three billion 38 per cent of the global population lived in dry lands, according to the report.

Source: Indian Express

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NATGRID wants to link social media accounts to central database.

GS-III: NATGRID wants to link social media accounts to central database.


The ambitious National Intelligence Grid project wants to link social media accounts to the huge database of records related to immigration entry and exit banking and telephone details among others.

What is NATGRID?

NATGRID was among the ambitious slew of intelligence reforms undertaken in the wake of the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. NATGRID is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens from almost two dozen agencies to be made available for counter-terror investigations. It will be an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

It’s role:

  • NATGRID will become a secure centralised database to stream sensitive information from 21 sets of data sources such as banks, credit cards, visa, immigration and train and air travel details, as well as from various intelligence agencies.
  • The database would be accessible to authorised persons from 11 agencies on a case-to-case basis, and only for professional investigations into suspected cases of terrorism.

Why do we need NATGRID?

The danger from not having a sophisticated tool like the NATGRID is that it forces the police to rely on harsh and coercive means to extract information in a crude and degrading fashion. After every terrorist incident, it goes about rounding up suspects many of who are innocent. If, instead, a pattern search and recognition system were in place, these violations of human rights would be much fewer.

Social Media can be defined as any web or mobile based platform that enables an individual or agency to communicate interactively and enables exchange of user generated content and it is explained by a number of tools, which includes blogs, Wikis, discussion forums, micro-blogs, twitter and social networking sites.

NATGRID is intending to set up an ENTITIY EXTRACTION,VISUALIZATION & ANALYTICS system that would collect and analyse information available from various data sources.


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SC continues its stay on eviction of forest dwellers

GS-III: SC continues its stay on eviction of forest dwellers


The Supreme court on Thursday continued its stay on the eviction of lakhs of Scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims for forest land rights have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

What does the Forest Rights Act provide for?

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act or FRA was passed by the Parliament in 2006 and came into effect in 2008.
  • It was intended to correct the “historical injustice” done to forest dwellers from the colonial times.
  • The traditional rights of such communities were derecognised by the British Raj in the 1850s.
  • The Act recognises and vests the forest rights and occupation in forest land in the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
  • It also covers other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.

The Act recognises -

  • Individual rights to forest land and livelihood
  • Community rights to forest 'land' exercised by their gram sabha
  • Community forest 'resource' rights, giving gram sabhas the power to protect and manage their forest
  • Conservation plans and developmental projects in these areas would have to be approved by gram sabhas.

Process of recognition of rights:

  • The Act provides that the gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognised.
  • This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division (or taluka) and subsequently at the district level.
  • The screening committees consist of three government officials (Forest, Revenue and Tribal Welfare departments) and three elected members of the local body at that level. These committees also hear appeals.


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