Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 4, 2017

Noble Prize 2017

PHYSICS

GOES TO –

  • Discovery Of Gravitational Wave

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has selected three American Scientists

  • Rainer Weiss,
  • Barry C. Barish and
  • Kip S. Thorne for the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

They were selected for their decisive contributions to the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) detector and the observation of gravitational waves

Enlighten about the winner –

  • Dr. Weiss — born in Berlin and now a US citizen received half the prize.
  • The remaining half was shared equally by two Caltech scientists — Dr. Barish, Professor of Physics and Dr. Thorne, Professor of Theoretical Physics

Gravitational waves

Guidelines to regulate the ‘nutraceutical’ industry have led to mixed reactions

  • Gravitational waves are ripples curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, travelling outward from source at the speed of light.
  • Strongest sources of gravitational waves are among produced by catastrophic events such as colliding black holes.
  • Gravitational waves were first predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on basis of his Theory of General Relativity.
  • They were detected for by US LIGO laboratory in 2015.
  • Since then three more examples have been detected.
  • Gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation and pass through matter without interacting with it.
  • Information extracted from gravitational waves may help to address unsolved questions and mysteries of physics and astronomy.

LIGO

  • LIGO is world’s largest gravitational wave observatory.
  • It comprises two enormous laser interferometers located thousands of kilometers apart.

It helps to detect and understand the origins of gravitational waves.
The Interferometers used in LIGO work by merging two or more sources of light to create interference pattern, which can be measured and analyzed

Government Initiatives

SECURE Himalaya

  • The Union Government had launched SECURE Himalaya
  • A six-year project to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity, land and forest resources in high Himalayan ecosystem spread over four states
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Jammu and Kashmir,
  • Uttarakhand and
  • Sikkim
  • It was launched by Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Enlighten about the initiative

  • The SECURE project aims at securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems.
  • It is meant for specific landscapes including
  • Changthang (Jammu and Kasmir)
  • Lahaul – Pangi and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh)
  • Gangotri – Govind and Darma – Byans Valley in Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) and
  • Kanchenjunga – Upper Teesta Valley (Sikkim).

Focus

  • To protection of snow leopard and other endangered species and their habitats and also securing livelihoods of people in region and enhancing enforcement to reduce wildlife crime.
  • Under it, enhanced enforcement efforts and monitoring will be undertaken to curb illegal trade in some medicinal and aromatic plants which are among most threatened species in these landscapes

World Day

World Habitat Day: 2 October

  • The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
  • It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.
  • 2017 theme: Housing Policies: Affordable Homes
  • Each year, World Habitat Day takes on a new theme to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all.

These themes often promote one of UN-Habitat’s focal areas such as:

  • Inclusive housing and social services.
  • A safe and healthy living environment for all — with particular consideration for children, youth, women, elderly and disabled.
  • Affordable and sustainable transport and energy.
  • Promotion, protection, and restoration of green urban spaces.
  • Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.
  • Healthy air quality.
  • Job creation.
  • Improved urban planning and slum upgrading.
  • Better waste management.

Bilateral Relations

Joint Tiger Census

  • For the first time, Nepal and India will undertake a joint tiger census next month in their national parks, forests and protected areas adjoining the two countries using a globally-recognised method.

Detail Analysis -

  • This is the first time that both the countries are counting tiger heads using the same method that is recognised globally.
  • Conservation authorities and experts would install cameras in various locations in tiger habitats as well as in buffer zones to capture and track the movements of the big cat.

Enlighten some facts –

  • The last tiger count conducted by Nepal in 2013 puts the number of adult tigers around 200 in the Himalayan country.
  • Recent figures showed that since 2010, the estimated number of tigers across 13 tiger range countries including India and Nepal stood at 3,900.
  • At the International Tiger Conference in Russia in 2010, participating countries including Nepal had made a commitment to double the tiger population by 2022.
  • This means Nepal would have at least 250 tigers, 100% increase from its 2010 tiger count which had put the number of the big cat at 125.
  • Tiger range countries (TRCs) are those where the big cat roams freely.
  • The 13 tiger range countries include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Significance of this move

  • Tiger is an endangered animal listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), tigers have lost 93% of their historical range.
  • Human and wildlife conflict, climate change and poaching and illegal wildlife trade are among the major reasons that has pushed the feline into the endangered category — facing risk of extinction in the wild — over the years.

Environment & Ecology

Government launches wildlife action plan for next 15 years

  • The government has released the third National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) for 2017-31.
  • The plan was released at the recently held meeting of Global Wildlife Program (GWP) that involves 19 Asian and African countries, United Nations, World Bank and other leading global organisations to deal with the wildlife crime.

Enlighten about the program

  • The NWAP 2017-31, under which there are 250 projects, is India’s road map to conserve wildlife for the next 15 years.
  • The plan is woven around the agenda of the United Nations’ 15th Sustainable Developmental Goal — “Life on Land”.
  • The key strategic changes in the new plan is adopting a “landscape approach” in conservation of all the wildlife — uncultivated flora (plants) and undomesticated fauna (animals) — rather than the areas where they occur.
  • This means that while till now programmes and plans related to wildlife were focused on and around national parks and sanctuaries, now the strategies would be based on the landscape of the region that may not be limited to a reserve forest system alone.
  • The plan has been divided into five components, which are further divided into 17 themes carrying 103 conservation actions.
  • Each theme has a set of conservation actions and projects — 250, in all.
  • Man-animal conflict mitigation, adapting to the climate change, managing eco-tourism, ensuring public participation in the conservation, developing human resources, strengthening research and monitoring through modern technology like radio collars and drones and ensuring funds for the wildlife sector have been given special thrust in the planning.
  • The plan adopts a “landscape approach” in conservation of all wildlife – uncultivated flora and fauna – that have an ecological value to the ecosystem and to mankind irrespective of where they occur.
  • It gives special emphasis to recovery of threatened species of wildlife while conserving their habitats.
  • The government has also underlined an increased role of private sector in wildlife conservation.
  • The plan lays down that the Centre would ensure that adequate and sustained funding including Corporate Social Responsibility funds are made available for the National Wildlife Action Plan implementation.
  • India is jointly hosting the Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) with World Bank and United Nations Development Programme.
  • The GWP will address issues related to illegal wildlife trade across 19 countries in Asia and Africa.
  • It will act as a platform to exchange knowledge and coordinate in on-ground action for combating illegal poaching of wildlife and improve governance on wildlife conservation.