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Current Affairs 19 April 2024

  1. PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3
  2. Land Conflict Watch Links Land Conflicts to Forest Rights Act Enforcement
  3. Supreme Court Recognizes Right to Protection from Climate Change Impacts as Fundamental Right
  4. UN Women
  5. Iron Age
  6. Athletics Federation of India


In a significant accomplishment, ISRO’s PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission successfully achieved near-zero debris in Earth’s orbit by converting the final stage into the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3). Instead of leaving debris in orbit after completing its mission, the POEM-3 was safely re-entered into the Earth’s atmosphere.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About POEM
  2. What are Space Debris?
  3. Effective Strategies to Address the Challenge of Space Debris

About POEM


  • POEM is a pioneering space platform crafted by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).


  • It transforms the fourth stage of a PSLV rocket into a stable orbital station, enabling in-space scientific experiments with a range of payloads.

Inaugural Use

  • The first use of POEM was observed during the PSLV-C53 mission in June 2022.
  • Typically, the fourth stage of the PSLV becomes space debris after satellite deployment. However, in the PSLV-C53 mission, it was repurposed as a stable platform for conducting experiments.

Navigation Guidance and Control (NGC) System

  • As per ISRO, POEM features a specialized Navigation Guidance and Control (NGC) system for attitude stabilization, managing the orientation of any aerospace vehicle within defined limits.

POEM-3 Mission

  • Introduced during the PSLV C-58 mission on 1st January 2024.
  • After the deployment of the XpoSat satellite, the fourth stage was converted into POEM-3 and placed into a 350-km orbit, considerably decreasing the likelihood of space debris creation.

Historical Context

  • ISRO initially showcased the potential of using the PS4 (fourth stage of PSLV) as an orbital platform in 2019 during the PSLV-C44 mission. This mission placed the Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites into their respective orbits, with the fourth stage repurposed as an orbital platform for space-based experiments.

What are Space Debris?

  • There is no universally acknowledged legal definition of the term “space debris.” It’s a term that refers to a collection of undesired objects in Earth’s orbit, whether man-made or natural.
  • Natural Debris is made up of natural bodies that orbit the sun, such as meteors and asteroids.
  • Artificial Debris is made up of man-made (generally non-functional) objects that orbit the Earth. (As a result, it is usually referred to as Orbital Debris.)
  • Dead satellites, spent rocket motors, nuts and bolts, and other space debris are described in the Report of the Second United Nations Conference on Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, published in 1982.
Effective Strategies to Address the Challenge of Space Debris

Space debris has become a growing concern for space agencies and governments worldwide. Here are some strategies to tackle the problem:

Space Treaty with Extended Producer Responsibility:

  • A legally binding agreement is necessary to protect the Earth’s orbit from space debris.
  • The treaty should ensure that producers and users take responsibility for their satellites and debris and enforce collective international legislation with fines and other incentives to make countries and companies accountable for their actions.


  • Countries using the Earth’s orbit should commit to global cooperation, and companies should be incentivized to clean up orbits and include de-orbiting functions in satellites.
  • This can be achieved by offering tax breaks, grants, and other benefits to companies that demonstrate a proactive approach towards managing space debris.

Reusable Launch Vehicles:

  • Using reusable launch vehicles instead of single-use rockets can help reduce the number of new debris generated from launches.
  • Reusable launch vehicles can significantly reduce the cost and frequency of launches, thereby reducing the amount of space debris generated.

Active Debris Removal:

  • Active debris removal (ADR) refers to the use of specialized spacecraft to capture, retrieve, and dispose of space debris. The ADR technique can help remove large and dangerous debris from the Earth’s orbit.

Improved Satellite Design:

  • Improved satellite design can also help reduce the generation of space debris.
  • Satellites should be designed with de-orbiting functions, which can help remove satellites from orbit at the end of their operational life.
  • Satellites should also be designed with robust shielding to protect against collisions with debris.

-Source: The Hindu


A recent report by Land Conflict Watch, a data research agency tracking land-related conflicts in India, has highlighted a notable correlation between land conflicts and the enforcement of the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The findings suggest that the implementation and interpretation of the FRA may be contributing to conflicts over land rights and ownership, particularly in forested and tribal areas.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Analysis on Land Conflict
  2. Status of Implementation of FRA (Forest Rights Act)
  3. About Forest Rights Act, 2006

Analysis on Land Conflict


  • The Land Conflict Watch (LCW) database documents 781 conflicts, with 264 conflicts closely associated with parliamentary constituencies where the Forest Rights Act (FRA) is a significant concern.
  • These constituencies are often termed ‘FRA constituencies’, as identified in the People’s Forest report by the Centre for Science and Environment.
  • 117 of these conflicts directly impact forest-dwelling communities, involving approximately 2.1 lakh hectares of land and affecting around 6.1 lakh people.
Reasons for the Conflicts
  • Conservation and Forestry Projects: Around 44% of the conflicts in these constituencies arise from conservation and forestry projects, including activities like plantations.
  • Non-implementation or Violation of FRA Provisions:
    • Roughly 88.1% of conflicts result from the non-implementation or violation of key provisions within the Forest Rights Act (FRA). These include:
      • Eviction of forest-dwelling communities before their rights claims are vested.
      • Diversion of forest land for other purposes without the prior consent of the Gram Sabha.
      • Lack of adequate legal safeguards for forest-dwelling communities’ land rights.
      • The Forest Department frequently acts as the primary adversarial party in conflicts affecting the forest land rights of local communities.
Most Affected States
  • Maharashtra, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh have the highest number of core FRA constituencies.
  • Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir are the states with the most forest rights issues in critical FRA constituencies.
Details on Conflicts
  • Reserved Parliamentary Constituencies:
    • Out of the 781 conflicts in the LCW database, 187 cases have arisen from 69 reserved parliamentary constituencies.
    • Scheduled Tribes (STs): 110 conflicts occur in constituencies reserved for STs.
    • Scheduled Castes (SCs): 77 cases are from constituencies reserved for SCs.
  • Nature of Conflicts:
    • Most conflicts in reserved constituencies revolve around common land, encompassing both community forests and non-forested commons.
    • Conflicts often center on complaints against procedural irregularities in land transactions.
    • In contrast, unreserved constituencies experience a higher frequency of conflicts over private land, specifically revenue patta lands.
  • Common Economic Activities Involved in Conflicts:
    • Infrastructure Projects: Infrastructure development, particularly in the mining and power sector, and road and railway projects, is the primary cause of land conflicts in reserved constituencies.
    • Collection of Minor Forest Produce: Past issues related to the collection of minor forest produce have also led to conflicts.

Status of Implementation of FRA (Forest Rights Act)

  • Titles Accorded
    • As of February 2024, around 2.45 million titles have been granted to tribal and forest dwellers.
  • Claims Rejection
    • Out of the five million claims received, approximately 34% have been rejected.
  • Recognition Rate
    • Despite the significant potential, the actual recognition of forest rights has been limited. As of 31st August 2021, only 14.75% of the minimum potential forest areas eligible for forest rights have been recognized since the FRA came into force.
  • State-wise Implementation
    • Andhra Pradesh:
      • Recognized 23% of its minimum potential forest claim.
    • Jharkhand:
      • Recognized only 5% of its minimum potential forest area.
  • Intra-State Variations
    • Even within states, recognition rates vary:
      • Odisha:
        • Nabarangapur district achieved a 100% Individual Forest Rights (IFR) recognition rate.
        • Sambalpur district has a recognition rate of 41.34%.

About Forest Rights Act, 2006

  • Schedule Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act or Recognition of Forest Rights Act came into force in 2006.
  • The Nodal Ministry for the Act is Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It has been enacted to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in such forests for generations, but whose rights could not be recorded.
  • This Act not only recognizes the rights to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood, but also grants several other rights to ensure their control over forest resources.
  • The Act also provides for diversion of forest land for public utility facilities managed by the Government, such as schools, dispensaries, fair price shops, electricity and telecommunication lines, water tanks, etc. with the recommendation of Gram Sabhas.
  • Rights under the Forest Right Act 2006:
    • Title Rights- ownership of land being framed by Gram Sabha.
    • Forest management rights– to protect forests and wildlife.
    • Use rights- for minor forest produce, grazing, etc.
    • Rehabilitation– in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement.
    • Development Rights– to have basic amenities such as health, education, etc.
Importance of Forest Rights Act, 2006:
  • It broadens the scope of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution, which safeguard  the claims of indigenous communities over tracts of land or forests they inhabit.
  • One of the causes of the Naxal movement, which had an impact on states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand, was the alienation of tribes.
  • By recognising community rights to forest resources, it has the potential to democratise forest governance.
  • The act will guarantee that people have the opportunity to manage their forests independently, which will limit official exploitation of forest resources, enhance forest governance, and improve management of tribal rights.
  • Governments find it expedient to undermine FRA or give up on it altogether in favour of monetary gains because tribals do not constitute a significant vote bank in the majority of states.
  • Unawareness at the Lower level of forest officials who are supposed to help process forest rights claims is high and majority of the aggrieved population too remains in the dark regarding their rights.
  • The FRA was intended as a welfare programme for tribal members, but the forest bureaucracy misinterpreted it as a tool to legalise expansion.
  • Some environmentalist groups express worry that the FRA favours individual rights more than community rights, leaving less room for the latter.
    • Community Rights effectively gives the local people the control over forest resources which remains a significant portion of forest revenue making states wary of vesting forest rights to Gram Sabha.
  • The forest bureaucracy worries that it will lose the significant influence it already has over land and people, while corporations worry that they would lose their easy access to priceless natural resources.
  • Gram Sabha, which occasionally lacks technical know-how and is educationally incompetent, creates rough maps of community and individual claims.

-Source: The Hindu


The Supreme Court of India recently acknowledged the right to protection from the impacts of climate change as part of the fundamental rights to life (Article 21) and equality (Article 19) enshrined in the Indian Constitution. This landmark ruling was made during a case concerning the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican. The Court emphasized that the intersection of climate change and human rights has become increasingly prominent in recent years, highlighting the urgent need for effective measures to address climate change and protect the rights of vulnerable communities and species in India.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Intersection of Climate Change and Human Rights
  2. Supreme Court’s Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions Related to Climate Change
  3. Challenges in Harmonizing Climate Change Mitigation with Human Rights Safeguarding

Intersection of Climate Change and Human Rights

Right to Life and Property

  • Climate change can directly affect people’s right to life through extreme weather events like hurricanes or floods, resulting in loss of life and property.
  • For instance, rising sea levels in low-lying coastal areas due to climate change can threaten homes and livelihoods, compelling communities to relocate.

Right to Clean Water and Sanitation

  • Climate change can influence water sources, causing water scarcity or contamination, thereby impacting people’s right to clean water and sanitation.
  • In areas experiencing more frequent droughts due to climate change, communities may face challenges in accessing safe drinking water, leading to health problems.

Health and Well-being

  • Climate change can worsen health issues, particularly among vulnerable populations.
  • Increased heat waves can result in heat-related illnesses and deaths, affecting the right to health.
  • Changes in weather patterns can also influence food security and nutrition, impacting people’s overall well-being.

Migration and Displacement

  • Climate change-induced events like sea-level rise, extreme weather events, or desertification can compel people to migrate or be displaced, intersecting with human rights, especially the right to residence and the right to seek asylum.
  • For instance, communities in coastal areas may need to relocate due to rising sea levels, leading to challenges related to resettlement and rights protection.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Climate change can disproportionately impact indigenous communities that depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods and cultural practices.
  • Changes in ecosystems due to climate change can jeopardize traditional livelihoods like farming or fishing, affecting indigenous peoples’ rights to land, resources, and cultural heritage.

Supreme Court’s Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions Related to Climate Change

Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 48A: Emphasizes environmental protection.
  • Article 51A(g): Advocates for wildlife conservation.
  • Article 21: Acknowledges the right to life and personal liberty.
  • Article 14: Guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of laws.
  • These constitutional articles are fundamental to the right to a clean environment and protection from the detrimental effects of climate change.

Judicial Pronouncements

  • In the MC Mehta vs Kamal Nath Case (2000), the Supreme Court affirmed that the right to a clean environment is an integral part of the right to life.

Recent Ruling Implications

  • This verdict bolsters the legal framework for environmental protection initiatives in India and establishes a basis for legal actions against climate change negligence.
  • It aligns with the increasing global acknowledgment of the human rights aspects of climate change, as articulated by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.

Challenges in Harmonizing Climate Change Mitigation with Human Rights Safeguarding


  • Certain climate mitigation actions, such as land use constraints for conservation projects or displacement due to renewable energy infrastructure development, might clash with human rights.
  • Finding a middle ground to mitigate negative impacts while maximizing benefits is a nuanced challenge.

Access to Resources

  • Climate initiatives, like the shift to renewable energy or the introduction of carbon pricing, can affect the accessibility of vital resources like energy, water, and food, particularly for marginalized groups.

Environmental Migration

  • Climate-triggered migration can stress social systems and result in disputes over resources and rights in recipient communities.
  • Efficiently managing migration patterns while respecting the rights of both migrants and host communities presents a multifaceted challenge.

Adaptation vs. Mitigation

  • Juggling efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) with investments in adapting to climate impacts is complex.
  • Choosing one over the other can have human rights implications, especially for communities already vulnerable to climate-related risks.

International Cooperation

  • Addressing climate change necessitates global collaboration.
  • Striking a balance between national climate objectives and global duties and ensuring climate actions uphold the rights of vulnerable communities globally is a complicated endeavor.

-Source: The Hindu


Six months into the war, Gaza is facing a humanitarian crisis disproportionately impacting women and girls, according to a new report by UN Women.


GS II: International Relations

UN Women Overview

Purpose and Establishment

  • UN Women is the specialized United Nations agency focused on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • It was established by the UN General Assembly in July 2010 as part of the UN reform agenda to consolidate resources and mandates for more impactful results.
Core Objectives
  • Policy Formulation and Support
    • Assists inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in shaping policies, global standards, and norms.
  • Implementation Assistance
    • Supports member states in applying these standards, offering technical and financial assistance upon request, and building effective partnerships with civil society.
  • Coordination and Accountability
    • Leads and coordinates the UN system’s efforts on gender equality and advocates for accountability through ongoing monitoring of system-wide progress.
Global Engagement
  • Advocates globally to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for women and girls, emphasizing women’s equal participation across all aspects of life.
Country-Specific Initiatives
  • Collaborates with government and non-governmental partners in countries seeking assistance to establish the necessary policies, laws, services, and resources to advance gender equality.
Funding Mechanisms
  • Provides grants through two key funds to support innovative and impactful programs:
    • Fund for Gender Equality
    • UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
  • CSW is a global policy-making body, operating as a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), solely dedicated to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Information Dissemination
  • Offers regular updates on women’s rights issues to the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and the Security Council.
  • Manages the UN Secretary-General’s database on violence against women to track actions by UN Member States and organizations to combat violence.

-Source: Down To Earth


A team of archaeologists claimed to have discovered a unique Iron Age megalithic site at Ooragutta near Bandala village in SS Tadvai mandal of Mulugu district, Telangana.


GS I: History

Overview of the Iron Age

Definition and Timeline

  • The Iron Age is a significant period in human history, succeeding the Stone Age and Bronze Age, and generally spanned from 1200 B.C. to 600 B.C., varying by region.

Geographical Spread

  • The Iron Age was prevalent in Africa, Europe, and Asia during the prehistoric era of the Old World. It did not occur in the Americas, as they were undiscovered territories during this time.

Introduction and Impact of Iron

  • The discovery of iron marked a pivotal shift, as it became the dominant metal over bronze in metalworking during this period.
  • The origins of ironworking can be traced back to Turkey before it spread to various European regions.
Technological Advancements
  • Agricultural Tools
    • The use of iron revolutionized farming with the introduction of the ‘ard’, an iron plow, which proved more efficient than wooden or bronze alternatives.
  • Weaponry
    • Iron was used to craft swords and other weapons, leading to the formation of formidable armies.
    • These advancements enabled armies to conquer and expand their territories, consolidating power among kings and rulers.
  • General Technological Innovations
    • Construction of large forts and bridges.
    • Advancements in pottery and weaving techniques.
    • Exploration and mining of deep ground resources, such as salt and other valuable minerals.
End of the Iron Age
  • The Iron Age is categorized as a period of prehistory, preceding the widespread use of writing.
  • The era concluded with the advent of widespread writing, although iron continued to be extensively used for crafting tools, weapons, architectural elements, machinery, and more.

-Source: The Hindu


In a first, the Athletics Federation of India has disaffiliated 16 district associations across the country for failing to send teams for the National inter-district junior athletics meet held recently.


Facts for Prelims

Athletics Federation of India (AFI)


  • AFI is the premier governing body responsible for managing athletics in India.
  • It operates as an autonomous, non-governmental, and non-profit organization.


  • AFI is a member of World Athletics, the Asian Athletics Association (AAA), and the Indian Olympic Association.

History and Structure

  • Established in 1946, AFI was formerly known as the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI).
  • It encompasses 32 affiliated state and institutional units.

Key Responsibilities

  • Organizes National Championships.
  • Trains national athletics campers.
  • Selects Indian athletics teams for international events, including the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games (CWG), World Championships, Asian Championships, and other international competitions.
  • Conducts National Championships across various age groups.

Promotion and Development Initiatives

  • Hosts international and national championships and meets to boost the sport’s popularity, engage the public, and make athletics more commercially viable to foster the growth of athletes and the sport.
  • Supervises and supports its state units in their operations.
  • Plans and establishes special coaching camps and training for coaches.
  • Initiates development programs and grassroots promotions to enhance athletics at the foundational level in India.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024