Ice-free areas of Antarctica to increase by 2100

In News

Ice free areas may increase in Antarctica by 25% due to climate change, leading to drastic changes in the continent’s biodiversity, a study warns.

About the Study

  • Researchers, including those from University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia, investigated how ice-free areas in Antarctica may be affected by climate change.
  • Melting ice could create up to 17,000 square kilometre of new ice-free area across Antarctica – a 25% increase on current levels.
  • The majority of this melting would occur on the Antarctic Peninsula where the climate had already rapidly warmed.

Effect of ice-free area

  • Expansion of ice-free habitat could lead to new opportunities for Antarctic biodiversity.
  • The warmer conditions will also encourage invasive species to establish.

Source : Live Mint

GS I : Salient features of world’s physical geography

GS III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment



India gives $100,000 to UN Tax Fund

In News

India has contributed $ 100,000 to a UN fund to help developing countries actively participate in the discussion of tax issue.

Becoming the first country

UN Trust Fund for International Cooperation in Tax Matters (the UN Tax Fund) received its first financial voluntary contribution from India. Voluntary contributions for the fund have been called for by the UN and the committee since its establishment in 2006. Call for contributions was also emphasised in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopted at the third International Conference on Financing for Development in 2015.

Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the UN Tax Trust Fund

  • The Addis Agenda provides a global framework to ensure the effective mobilization of resources at the national and international level for sustainable development.
  • Implementation of the Addis Agenda  supports the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • In Addis Ababa, UN Member States committed to work together to enhance the UN Tax Committee’s resources to strengthen its effectiveness and operational capacity.
  • The Addis Agenda also specifically called on the Member States to support the UN Tax Committee and its subsidiary bodies through the voluntary Trust Fund.
  • It is to supporting the increased participation of developing country experts at subcommittee meetings.

UN Tax Committee : Subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ESOSOC), has provided guidance on current issues such as double taxation treaties, transfer pricing (profit shifting) taxation of the extractive industries and taxation of services.

Source : Economic Times, UN

GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India

NDMA to conduct mock exercise in Delhi

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the Delhi Government will conduct a mock exercise to improve preparedness and response mechanisms of the local administration in the event of an earthquake.

About mock exercise

  • The exercise will cover all the 11 districts of Delhi.
  • Preparedness measures required to be taken at individual, societal and institutional levels to minimise the effects of an earthquake were discussed in detail.
  • NDMA experts will brief the stakeholders on the activation of Incident Response System (IRS), on their roles and responsibilities at each level to improve coordination.
  • Also created various disaster situations involving residential high-rise buildings, hospitals, schools, metro stations, shopping malls and petroleum depots and sought response plans from the participating officials.
  • Departments such as the Army, Health, Police, Firefighting, Civil Defense, Transport, Electricity, Public Relations and Traffic Control participated in the preparatory meetings.

Source : Pib

GS III : Disaster and disaster management

GSAT-17 in ISRO satellite fleet

In News

GSAT-17, the country’s newest communication satellite launched, join the fleet of 17 working Indian communication satellites in space.

About GSAT-17

  • GSAT-17 was inducted into the INSAT/GSAT system from Kourou, French Guiana by Ariane-5 VA-238.
  • Weighing 3477 kg at lift-off, GSAT-17 carries Payloads in Normal C-band, Extended C-band and S-band to provide various communication services.
  • GSAT-17 also carries equipment for metereological data relay and satellite based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.
  • GSAT-17 is designed to provide continuity of services on operational satellites in C-band, Extended C-band and S-bands.
  • GSAT-17 was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  • The designed in-orbit operational life of GSAT-17 is about 15 years.

Indian National Satellite System (INSAT)

  • Series of multipurpose geo-stationary satellites launched by ISRO to satisfy the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue operations.
  • INSAT is the largest domestic communication system in the Asia Pacific Region.
  • It is a joint venture of the Department of Space, Department of Telecommunications, India Meteorological Department, All India Radio and Doordarshan.

Source : The Hindu, ISRO

GS III : Awareness in the fields of Space

Uranus’ unusual rotation creates light switch effect

In News

A discovery was made based on the data from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft that flew closely past Uranus the seventh planet from the Sun more than 30 years ago in January 1986.

The Study

  • Uranus’ magnetosphere, the region defined by the icy planet’s magnetic field and the material trapped inside it gets flipped on and off like a light switch every day as it rotates along with the planet.
  • When the magnetised solar wind meets this tumbling field in the right way, it can reconnect and Uranus’ magnetosphere goes from open to closed to open on a daily basis.
  • Magnetosphere is open in one orientation, allowing solar wind to flow into it.
  • It is later closed, forming a shield against the solar wind and deflecting it away from the planet.
  • Uranus’ rapid rotational change in field strength and orientation lead to a periodic open-close-open-close scenario as it tumbles through the solar wind.

Reconnection of magnetic fields is a phenomenon throughout the solar system. It is one reason for the Earth’s auroras.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Awareness in the fields of  Space

Gurkha Land Issue

In News

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is a political party which campaigns for the creation of a separate state Gorkhaland within India, out of districts in the north of West Bengal started their agitation. Supporters stepped up its protests in Darjeeling, against Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) agreement which was set up in 2011 after an agitation.

What is Gorkhaland ?

  • Gorkhaland is a proposed state in India demanded by the people of the Darjeeling Hills and the people of Nepali-Indian Gorkhas ethnic origin on the Northern part of West Bengal.
  • Their Demand based on linguistic and cultural difference with regard to Bengali culture.

    Gorkha land
    Source : Wikipedia
  • Darjeeling movement for Gorkhaland has gained momentum in the line of an ethno-linguistic-cultural sentiment of the Nepali language speaking Indian people who desire to identify themselves as Indian Gorkhas.
  • Two mass movements for Gorkhaland have taken place under the Gorkha National Liberation Front (1986–1988) and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) (2007–present).
  • Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) agreement, entered into between the Centre, West Bengal government and the GJM in 2011.

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and issues

  • A semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling hills, was signed on 18 July 2011.
  • A bill for the creation of GTA was passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on 2 September 2011.
  • The West Bengal government issued a gazette notification for the GTA Act on 14 March 2012, signalling preparations for elections for the GTA.
  • In the elections of the GTA held on 29 July 2012, GJM candidates won from 17 constituencies and the rest 28 seats unopposed.
  • Later in 2013, Gurung, leader of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, resigned from the GTA citing both interference from the West Bengal government and the renewed agitation for Gorkhaland.

Current issue

  • The agitation started as a protest against perceived imposition of Bengali language in the hills of West Bengal where Nepali is the official language.
  • GJM leadership marked the end of the regional developmental board in the hills in the GTA agreement.
  • They started demanding Gorkhaland.

Source : The Hindu, Wikipedia

GS III : Internal Security

India, Portugal sign 11 pacts

Why in News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks with his Portuguese counterpart on cooperation in areas like counter-terrorism, space, climate studies and start-ups.

Signed 11 bilateral agreements

  1. India-Portugal Space Alliance partnering with ISRO and Portuguese Foundation for Science & Technology (FCT)
  2. Protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income
  3. MoU on Nano Technology
  4. MoU on Public Administration and Governance Reforms
  5. MoU on Cultural Cooperation
  6. MoU on Youth and Sports between
  7. MoU on Cooperation in the fields of Higher Education and Scientific Research
  8. MoU Between Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal, E.P.E. (Aicep Portugal Global – Trade & Investment Agency) and PIBHub – Portugal India Business Hub
  9. Memorandum of Understanding between Portugal India Business Hub & Reira Group/Goa Desk
  10. MoU on Biotechnology
  11. Memorandum of Understanding between Portugal India Business Hub & Indian Chamber of Commerce

Relation History

Relations between India and Portugal began amicably in 1947 after India’s independence and diplomatic relations were established in 1949. Bilateral ties however went into decline after 1950 over Portugal’s refusal to surrender its enclaves of Goa, Daman Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli on India’s west coast. By 1955, the two nations had cut off diplomatic relations, triggering a crisis which precipitated in the Indian annexation of Portuguese India in 1961. Portugal refused to recognise Indian sovereignty over the annexed territories until 1974 when, following the Carnation Revolution, the new government in Lisbon recognised Indian sovereignty with the signing of a treaty in New Delhi in December 1974, bilateral relations were restored.

Source : Ministry of External Affairs
GS II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or
            affecting India’s interests

City Liveability Index launched

Ministry of Urban Development launched the City Liveability Index for measuring the quality of life in 116 major cities including smart cities, capital cities and cities with a population of above one million each.

Importance of the Index

It will enable the cities know where they stand in terms of quality of life and the interventions required to improve the same. The ranking will be released in 2018.

Assessment through the Index

Cities will be assessed on a comprehensive set of 79 paratmeters to capture the extent and quality of infrastructure including availability of roads, education and health care, mobility, employment opportunities, emergency response, grievance redressal, pollution, availability of open and green spaces, cultural and entertainment opportunities etc.

Source : Pib

GS III : Developmental Studies 


POSOCO-IMD Weather Portal for Power Sector & Web Portal ‘MERIT’

Union Ministry for Power, Coal , New & Renewable Energy and Mines launched Weather Portal for Power Sector in association with POSOCO and IMD at the meeting of the Forum of Regulators here today .

Need for the initiative

Weather variations have an impact on load demand and energy production, transport and distribution management, as well as energy prices. Extreme events such as heat waves or cold waves, wind storms or floods can of course have dramatic consequences on the production means or the electrical grid of a country including physical damage to the infrastructure.

Information from the portal

Regional Weather Summary : This provides Weather Outlook for the Region for the current day and upto next 7 days. Weather stations of Meteorological department have been mapped to the nearest important Electrical Station/ Power Stations in each State.

  • Nowcast : It is used to forecast weather for a short period ahead, updated every 3 hours
  • Weather Forecast : It is provided for the current day and next 6 days
  • Weather Warning : Special Nowcast warning is issued for the next 3 hours.

Radar : The Doppler Weather Radar generates different displays and derived products of practical utility based on standard algorithms. These displays are updated every 10 minutes.

Satellite Images : INSAT 3D is being used to monitor the Weather of Indian Origin. The image is updated every 30 minutes.

Meteogram : The Meteogram at Web-Portal provides plots for Meteorological variables such as Rainfall, Cloud Cover, Temperature, Humidity, Wind, Speed, Sea Level Pressure, Indices for Thunderstorm etc. for 10 days with a resolution time of three hours. Each Meteogram provides information for the 10 km radius.

Region Specific Forecast : Fog Forecast, Metar, Bay Bulletin, Coastal Area Bulletin, Cyclone, Port Warning etc.

‘MERIT’ (Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency)

  • Developed by Ministry of Power in association with POSOCO and Central Electricity Authority.
  • The MERIT Web portal displays information regarding the merit order of Electricity procured by State(s)  such as daily state-wise marginal variable costs of all generators, daily source-wise power purchases of respective states/UTs with source-wise fixed and variable costs, energy volumes and purchase prices.
  • The web-portal also give information regarding reasons for deviation from merit order such as must run conditions, transmission constraints etc.

Source : Pib

GS III : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc


PSLV-C38 Successfully Launches 31 Satellites in a Single Flight

PSLV-C38 successfully launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty ninth consecutively successful mission of PSLV.

About the launch

  • One of the 30 satellites carried by PSLV-C38 was the 15 kg NIUSAT, a University/Academic Institute satellite from Nurul Islam University, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • The remaining 29 co-passenger satellites carried were international customer satellites from USA (10), United Kingdom (3), Belgium (3),  Italy (3),  Austria (1), Chile (1), Czech Republic (1), Finland (1), France (1), Germany (1), Japan (1), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1) and Slovakia (1).

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle

  • It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits.
  • The vehicle successfully launched two spacecraft – Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 a notable achievement.
  • The PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology