Topic 1: Carbon dating
Context: The Allahabad High Court ordered a “scientific survey”, including carbon dating, of a “Shivling” said to have been found at the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi.
What is carbon dating?
- Carbon dating is a widely-used method to establish the age of organic materials, things that were once living.
- Living things have carbon in them in various forms.
- The dating method is based on the fact that Carbon-14 (C-14), an isotope of carbon with an atomic mass of 14, is radioactive, and decays at a well known rate. This is how it works:
- The most abundant isotope of carbon in the atmosphere is C-12.
- A very small amount of C-14 is also present.
- The ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere is almost static, and is known.
- Plants get their carbon through photosynthesis; animals get it mainly through food.
- Because plants and animals get their carbon from the atmosphere, they too acquire C-12 and C-14 in roughly the same proportion as is available in the atmosphere.
- When they die, their interactions with the atmosphere stops.
- While C-12 is stable, the radioactive C-14 reduces to one half of itself in about 5,730 years — known as its ‘half-life’.
- The changing ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the remains of a plant or animal after it dies can be measured, and can be used to deduce the approximate time when the organism died.
Limitations of carbon dating:
- It cannot be used to determine the age of non-living things like rocks.
- The age of things that are more than 40,000-50,000 years old cannot be arrived at through carbon dating.
- This is because after 8-10 cycles of half-lives, the amount of C-14 becomes almost very small and is almost undetectable.
- Instead of carbon, decays of other radioactive elements that might be present in the non-living material become the basis for the dating method.
- These are known as radiometric dating methods.
- Many of these involve elements with half-lives of billions of years, which enable scientists to reliably estimate the age of very old objects.
- Two commonly employed methods for dating rocks are potassium-argon dating and uranium-thorium-lead dating.
- The radioactive isotope of potassium decays into argon, and their ratios can give a clue about the age of rocks.
- Uranium and thorium have several radioactive isotopes, and all of them decay into the stable lead atom.
- The ratios of these elements present in the material can be measured and used to make estimates about age.
Cosmogenic nuclide dating:
- There are also methods to determine how long an object has remained exposed to sunlight.
- These are again based on radioactive decays and are particularly useful in studying buried objects or changes in topology.
- The most common of these is called cosmogenic nuclide dating, or CRN, and is regularly applied to study the age of ice cores in polar regions.
Topic 2: United Nations Forum on Forests
Context: Discussions on integrated policies on sustainable forest management (SFM) and energy to meet the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) took centre stage on the fourth day of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF18).
- The eighteenth session of UNFF18 was held in New York.
- The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is a high-level intergovernmental policy forum.
- It includes:
- all United Nations member states and permanent observers,
- the UNFF Secretariat,
- the Collaborative Partnership on Forests,
- Regional Organizations and Processes and
- Major Groups.
- To facilitate implementation of forest-related agreements and foster a common understanding on sustainable forest management;
- To provide for continued policy development and dialogue as identified in Agenda 21
- To address forest issues and emerging areas of concern in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner,
- To enhance cooperation as well as policy and programme coordination on forest-related issues
- To foster international cooperation
- To monitor, assess and report on progress of the above functions and objectives
- To strengthen political commitment to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
Topic 3: Localization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Context: Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh has become the first city in India to adopt the localisation of the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG).
- MP’s capital city will now have voluntary local reviews (VLR) demonstrate local government’s capacity and commitments.
- The SDGs localisation is translating the agenda, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (known as Agenda 2030), into local actions and impacts that contribute to the global achievement of the goals.
- Bhopal’s VLR is the result of a collaboration between the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, UN-Habitat and a collective of over 23 local stakeholders.
- It incorporated a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to the review of SDGs, with qualitative mapping of 56 developmental projects.
Voluntary national review and Voluntary local review:
- In 2015, all 193 member states of the UN adopted the Agenda 2030, comprising 17 SDGs and 169 targets as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.
- The member states report their progress towards achieving the goals through a voluntary national review (VNR) to UN’s high-level political forum (HLPF).
- Local and regional governments are increasingly engaging in their own subnational reviews, so-called VLRs, which have proven useful for cities and regions.
- Unlike the VNRs, local reviews do not directly have an official basis in the 2030 Agenda or other intergovernmental agreements.
- VLRs have emerged as a powerful tool that forefronts local action.
- New York City became the first city to present its VLR to the HLPF in 2018.
What is localization of SDGs?
- Localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) involves the definition, implementation and monitoring of strategies at the local level.
- It is essential to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- The SDGs localisation is translating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into local actions and impacts that contribute to the global achievement of the SDGs.
- The 2030 Agenda emphasises the need for an inclusive and localised approach to the SDGs.
- It addresses the need to integrate all level of governments and stakeholders in the elaboration of strategies, the use of transformative means of implementation and sound methods for monitoring and reporting.
Topic 4: Default bail
Context: The Supreme Court directed lower courts to decide pending default bail applications without relying on its own recent judgment.
- A judgment of the Supreme Court is considered the law of the land.
- Article 141 of the Constitution provides that the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within India.
- The recent judgment in Ritu Chhabaria versus Union of India held that the Central agencies cannot deny accused persons their right to default bail by filing multiple supplementary chargesheets and seeking renewed custody.
- The judgment held that the right of default bail under Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is not merely a statutory right, but a fundamental right that flows from Article 21 of the Constitution to protect accused persons from the unfettered and arbitrary power of the State.
- According to Section 167(2) of the CrPC, an accused is entitled to default bail if the investigating agency fails to file a final chargesheetwithin 60 days from the date of remand.
- For certain categories of offences, the stipulated period can be extended to 90 days.
Which law regulates bail in India?
- The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 regulates the procedural aspects of criminal law, including arrest, investigation and bail.
What is default bail?
- Under Section 167(2) of the Code, a Magistrate can order an accused person to be detained in the custody of the police for 15 days.
- Beyond the police custody period of 15 days, the Magistrate can authorise the detention of the accused person in judicial custody i.e., jail if necessary.
- However, the accused cannot be detained for more than:
- ninety days, when an authority is investigating an offence punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for at least ten years; or
- sixty days, when the authority is investigating any other offence.
- In this case, bail is granted because of the default of the investigating agency in not completing the investigation within the specified time, and it is referred to as ‘default bail’ or ‘compulsive bail’.
- The accused person has the right to be released on bail as long as he/she applies for bail and agrees to fulfil other bail conditions (such as providing the required bail amount).
Default bail as a fundamental right
- Article 21 of our Constitution provides everyone with the fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
- No person can be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law, and such a procedure cannot be arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable.
- The safeguard of ‘default bail’ is linked to Article 21.
- This ensures that investigating officers act swiftly and efficiently without misusing the law.
When does default bail not apply?
- If the accused fails to apply for default bail after the investigation time period has expired, and the investigating agency files a charge-sheet or seeks more time before the accused makes such an application for default bail, then the right of default bail is no longer applicable.
- The Magistrate can then grant further time for completion of the investigation.
- Even if the Court grants default bail, the actual release of the accused from custody depends on the directions passed by the Court which is granting bail.
- If the accused fails to submit the bail amount and/or comply with the terms and conditions of the bail order as stipulated by the Court, the accused will continue to be detained in custody.
Topic 5: Lost Civilisation found in Bandhavgarh National Park
Context: The Archeological Survey of India has reportedly found the remains of a lost civilisation, a “modern society” that existed in Bandhavgarh National in Madhya Pradesh.
- The discovery includes man-made water bodies and paintings that are said to be thousands of years old.
- The archaeologists found the painting in a rock-cut cave and not in a natural cave or overhang.
- The rock-cut caves suggest deliberate human activity, and the paintings found inside the cave suggest that these were not created by chance or a mere coincidence, but were intentionally placed inside the caves.
- ASI has discovered that the remains found at the sight were of a forgotten “modern civilisation” that existed in Madhya Pradesh.
- For the first time, the rock painting is estimated to be as old as 1500 years, and the site was found inside the Tala range of Bandhavgarh.
- Another great finding was the discovery of man-made waterbodies.
- The people of that society had an advanced knowledge of water management and these waterbodies would have been built for various purposes such as agriculture, fishing, transportation, and religious ceremonies.
- The civilization has been said to be around 1800-2000 years old, the renovation is said to have taken place around 1000 years ago.
- These structures being Hindu or Buddhist structures, did not defy a modern design as each of them was stone carved and traders passed through for expanding their businesses.
|Bandhavgarh National ParkBandhavgarh National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh.It was declared a national park in 1968 and then became Tiger Reserve in 1993.Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951.The park derives its name from the most prominent hill of the area, which is said to have been given by Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Bandhav = Brother, Garh = Fort).The fort was built by a Gond Dynasty king.The three main zones of the national park are Tala, Magdhi and Khitauli.Tala is the richest zone in terms of biodiversity, mainly tigers.
Topic 6: Storm Shadow cruise missiles
Context: The United Kingdom will provide long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine.
- Storm Shadow is a long-ranged, air-launched, conventionally armed, deep-strike missile, which is manufactured by the France-based MBDA Missile Systems.
- It was first produced in 1997.
- Range: More than 250 km.
- Weight: Storm Shadow weighs 1,300 kg and is 5.10m long.
- It’s capable of being operated day and night in all weathers and designed to destroy high-valued stationary targets such as airbases, radar installations, communications hubs and port facilities.
- Storm Shadow, equipped with the fire and forget technology, also offers high precision deep strike capability.
- It features a sophisticated navigation system that includes:
- inertial navigation (INS),
- global positioning system (GPS) and
- terrain reference navigation for better control over the path.
- The missile features the BROACH (Bomb Royal Ordnance Augmented CHarge) warhead:
- It is a high-technology warhead, which first cuts the surface of the target, penetrates into it and then explodes.
Topic 7: Paralakhemundi Light Railway
Context: The Indian Railways has taken up the renovation of the historic Paralakhemundi railway station, one of India’s oldest and the first in Odisha’s Gajapati district.
Paralakhemundi Light Railway (PLR)
- Naupada (a small town, now in Andhra Pradesh) got rail lines in 1894, as part of construction of Cuttack-Khurda Road railway line extending up to Vijayawada.
- Who constructed it:
- The then Maharaja of Parlakimedi (now Paralakhemundi) Goura Chandra Gajapati Narayan Deo II conceived of an idea to connect his capital with this mainline in an effort to strengthen his communication network.
- After receiving nod of the British authorities in 1898, he built a 39-km rail line— PLR — by spending around Rs 7 lakh from the royal coffers.
- The narrow gauge line was completed in 1899 and opened for traffic in 1900.
- A wooden-bodied carriage was also built in 1899, for the specific use of the royal family of Paralakhemundi.