Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
GS Paper : 1
Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Ozone layer and hole- factors responsible, effects and how to prevent it, reasons for variations in intensity, about Polar Vortex.
Context: Largest Ozone Hole Ever Recorded over North Pole Has Now ‘Healed Itself’ and Closed. This was announced by Scientists who were tracking the hole at Copernicus’ Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS).
The ozone hole became the largest one ever recorded in the Arctic region spanning an area of over 620,000 square miles (or 997793.28 kms). It was formed due to unusual climatic conditions.
What caused a hole in the ozone layer?
The cause of the formation of the hole is attributed to the unusual weather at the poles.
The polar vortex has been recorded to be extremely powerful, and temperatures inside it have been very cold.
The unique cocktail of the powerful vortex and low temperatures generates Stratospheric clouds that react with CFCs and destroy the Ozone layer in the process.
Factors responsible for healing:
According to the scientists the closure of the hole is not due to the reduced pollution levels due to COVID-19 lock down.
The closing was because of a phenomenon called the polar vortex.
Ozone and its significance:
The ozone layer is one of the most vital atmospheric components of our planet.
It is responsible for protecting life on Earth from the harmful UV radiation from the Sun.
It is found mainly in the upper atmosphere, an area called the stratosphere, between 10 and 50 km from the earth’s surface.
The lack of the Ozone layer can have severe implications for people living directly under it. The most prominent effects are Skin Cancer and other possibly fatal skin diseases.
What exactly is a polar vortex?
It is described as a whirling cone of low pressure over the poles that is strongest in the winter months due to the increased temperature contrast between the polar regions and the mid-latitudes, such as the US and Europe.
- The polar vortex spins in the stratosphere.
- Usually, when the vortex is strongest, cold air is less-likely to plunge deep into North America or Europe. In other words, it forms a wall that protects the mid-latitudes from cold Arctic air.
- But occasionally, the polar vortex is disrupted and weakens, due to wave energy propagating upward from the lower atmosphere. When this happens, the stratosphere warms sharply in an event known as sudden stratospheric warming, in just a few days, miles above the Earth’s surface.
- The warming weakens the polar vortex, shifting its location somewhat south of the pole or, in some instances, ‘splitting’ the vortex up into ‘sister vortices’.
Effects of Polar Vortex:
The split higher up in the atmosphere can give rise to both, sudden and delayed effects, much of which involves declining temperatures and extreme winter weather in the eastern US along with northern and western Europe.
A sudden stratospheric warming also leads to a warm Arctic not only in the stratosphere but also in the troposphere as well.
A warmer Arctic, in turn, favours more severe winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes including the eastern US.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
What to study?
For Prelims: CVC- eligibility, appointment and removal.
For Mains: Corruption- issues, challenges and ways to prevent.
Context: Sanjay Kothari appointed as Central Vigilance Commissioner by President.
It is the apex vigilance institution created via executive resolution (based on the recommendations of Santhanam committee) in 1964 but was conferred with statutory status in 2003.
It submits its report to the President of India.
The Commission was set up on the recommendation of the K.Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption.
Consists of central vigilance commissioner along with 2 vigilance commissioners.
They are appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of a committee consisting of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha (if there is no LoP then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).
Their term is 4 years or 65 years, whichever is earlier.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed.
Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
What to study?
For Prelims: Who are they? Where do they live?
For Mains: Challenges faced by these communities and ways to address them.
Context: Human rights body – Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) – has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention alleging that the Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh are facing hunger and starvation as they were not included in the government’s economic package.
What’s the issue?
The state government announced the economic package for vulnerable sections in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic, among others, to provide 5 kg rice and 1 kg pulses per head to beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana.
- But, Chakmas and Hajongs do not have ration cards as the state government had seized those through an order on October 25, 1991. Hence, the two communities have been forced to buy rice at a higher price.
- About 33% or 22,000 of the 65,875 Chakmas and Hajongs are children. Hunger and starvation have engulfed them because of the violation of the right to food during the pandemic.
- And, the denial of food is being seen as a violation of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Who are they?
Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the erstwhile East Pakistan. They left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.
The Chakmas, who are Buddhists, and the Hajongs, who are Hindus, also allegedly faced religious persecution and entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram). The Centre moved the majority of them to the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which is now Arunachal Pradesh.
Their numbers have gone up from about 5,000 in 1964-69 to one lakh. At present, they don’t have citizenship and land rights but are provided basic amenities by the state government.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key findings of the report.
For Mains: Need for military spending, concerns associated.
Context: The report on Trends in World Military Expenditure was recently released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
- Top three biggest military spenders in the world last year: The United States, China and India.
- This is the first time that India and China have featured among the top three military spenders.
- New Delhi’s defence spending grew 6.8% to reach $71.1 billion in 2019.
- India’s military expenditure grew 259% over the 30-year period (1990-2019) and by 37% over the decade (2010–19).
- However, its (India’s) military burden fell from 2.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to 2.4% in 2019.
- India’s military spending has grown significantly over the past decade due to a raft of reasons including a mounting salary bill for about 1.4 million serving personnel, pensions for more than two million veterans and deals worth billions of dollars to induct new combat jets, air defence missile systems, helicopters, warships and artillery guns to enhance capabilities.
- According to the report, global military expenditure stood at around $1,917 billion in 2019 – the highest in over three decades.
- This represents an increase of 3.6% over the global defence spending in 2018 and the largest annual growth in military expenditure since 2010.
- The five top spenders in 2019 accounted for 62% of the global expenditure.
- The US topped the list of military spenders with $732 billion in 2019 accounting for 38% of the total global defence expenditure. It spent almost as much on its military last year as the next 10 highest spenders combined, the report said.
- China’s military expenditure has increased continuously since 1994 (for 25 consecutive years). The growth in its military spending has closely matched the country’s economic growth.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
What to study?
For Prelims: CTBT- key facts.
For Mains: Significance of the treaty and why India is not willing to sign the treaty, what needs to be done?
Context: A recent report issued by the United States State Department on “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments (Compliance Report)” has raised concerns that China and Russia might be conducting nuclear tests in violation of its Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) undertakings.
However, Russia and China have rejected the U.S.’s claims.
What is CTBT?
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the Treaty banning all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone. The Treaty was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It opened for signature on 24 September 1996.
The Treaty will enter into force after all 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty will ratify it. These States had nuclear facilities at the time the Treaty was negotiated and adopted.
India, North Korea and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty.
What is a “zero yield”?
A comprehensive test ban has been defined as a “zero yield” test ban that would prohibit supercritical hydro-nuclear tests but not sub-critical hydrodynamic nuclear tests.
Why is the CTBT so important?
The CTBT is the last barrier on the way to develop nuclear weapons. It curbs the development of new nuclear weapons and the improvement of existing nuclear weapon designs. The Treaty provides a legally binding norm against nuclear testing. The Treaty also helps prevent human suffering and environmental damages caused by nuclear testing.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Awareness in space.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: About blackholes, LIGO and theory of general relativity, and gravitational waves.
Context: The gravitational wave observatories at LIGO scientific collaboration have detected a merger of two unequal-mass black holes. The event has been named as GW190412.
This is the first such observation involving two black holes of unequal masses coalescing.
Significance of the discovery:
This observation once again confirms Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which predicts the existence of higher harmonics, i.e. gravitational waves at two or three times the fundamental frequency.
Difference between binary blckholes of equal masses and unequal masses:
Dominant emission of gravitational waves happens at twice the orbital frequency of the binary blackholes of equal masses and is negligible.
In binary blackholes with unequal masses, the emission happens at a frequency that is three times the orbital frequency.
Also, in the case of the merger of unequal black holes, the spin of the more massive black hole can be determined from the extra features in the signal waveform.
The spin of the heavier black hole plays a more prominent role in the dynamics of the binary. Hence, it leaves a stronger imprint on the waveform, making it easy to measure
What is a black hole?
A black hole is an object in space that is so dense and has such strong gravity that no matter or light can escape its pull. Because no light can escape, it is black and invisible.
- There’s a boundary at the edge of a black hole called the event horizon, which is the point of no return — any light or matter that crosses that boundary is sucked into the black hole. It would need to travel faster than the speed of light to escape, which is impossible.
- Anything that crosses the event horizon is destined to fall to the very centre of the black hole and be squished into a single point with infinite density, called the singularity.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims
- It is a low-cost mechanical ventilator to fight against COVID19.
- Developed by IIT Bombay team.
- The cost of production of one ventilator is Rs 10,000.
Insights Current Affairs Analysis (I–CAN) by IAS Topper