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Current Affairs 23 November 2023

  1. Quashing of Haryana’s Local Candidates Reservation Act, 2020
  2. Impact of Gamma-Ray Burst on Earth’s Ionosphere
  3. Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel Collapse: Examining Causes and Precautions
  4. Atmospheric Waves Experiment
  5. Naval Anti-Ship Missile Short Range
  6. SATHEE (Self Assessment Test and Help for Entrance Exams) Portal
  7. Gambusia fish


Context:

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has declared the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 as unconstitutional, nullifying the mandated 75% reservation for local candidates in private sector jobs. The court ruled that the law violates fundamental rights of both citizens and employers.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Haryana Private Sector Quota Law
  2. Concerns Regarding Haryana’s Private Sector Quota Law
  3. High Court’s Ruling

Haryana Private Sector Quota Law

  • Enactment:
    • The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 was passed by the state government in March 2021.
  • Reservation Percentage:
    • Mandated a 75% reservation for local candidates in private sector jobs.
    • Applied to positions with a monthly salary below Rs 30,000 (originally Rs 50,000) for a period of 10 years.
  • Entities Covered:
    • Applied to various entities, including companies, societies, trusts, partnership firms, and large individual employers.
  • Employer Criteria:
    • Employers with 10 or more employees were subject to the law.
  • Central or state governments and their organizations were exempted.
Registration and Domicile Requirement
  • Employee Registration:
    • Employers required to register their employees on a government portal.
  • Domicile Certificate:
    • Local candidates needed a certificate of domicile to avail the reservation.
  • Local Candidate Definition:
    • A “local candidate” domiciled in the State of Haryana.
Objective and Intent
  • Employment Opportunities:
    • Aimed at providing job opportunities and skill development for local youth.
    • Focused on unskilled and semi-skilled workers.
  • Migration Control:
    • Intended to reduce the influx of migrants from other states into Haryana.

Concerns Regarding Haryana’s Private Sector Quota Law

Legal Challenge by Industry Associations

Petitioners:

  • Faridabad Industries Association and other Haryana-based associations approached the high court.
  • Contended that Haryana’s policy of “sons of the soil” infringed upon constitutional rights of employers.

Violation of Constitutional Rights:

  • Argument that the reservation policy infringed on the constitutional rights of employers.
  • Private sector jobs should be skill-based, and individuals have a fundamental right to work anywhere in India.

Federal Structure Concerns:

  • Asserted that forcing employers to hire local candidates violated the federal structure of the Constitution.
  • Viewed as contrary to public interest and benefiting only one class.
Haryana Government’s Defense

Legal Basis:

  • Haryana government argued that it had the authority under Article 16(4) of the Constitution to create such reservations.
  • Article 16(4) allows the state to provide reservations for backward classes not adequately represented in state services.

Protection of Rights:

  • Government stated the law was necessary to protect the rights of people domiciled in the state, including the right to life, livelihood, health, living conditions, and employment.

High Court’s Ruling

  • Inspector Raj Criticism:
    • Sections 6 and 8 of the Act, establishing reporting requirements and verification, criticized as creating an “Inspector Raj.”
    • Inspector Raj refers to excessive government supervision in industrial units.
  • Violations of Fundamental Rights:
    • Court ruled that the law violated the fundamental right to equality under Article 14.
    • Discrimination based on place of birth and residence.
  • Freedom of Trade and Commerce:
    • Violation of the fundamental right to freedom of trade and commerce under Article 19(1)(g).
    • Imposed unreasonable restrictions on employers, irrespective of merit and suitability.
  • Constitutional Vision Concerns:
    • Court expressed concern that the law could lead to similar enactments by states, creating unintended barriers against the Constitution’s vision.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recent research indicates that a gamma-ray burst (GRB) triggered by a supernova explosion in a galaxy nearly two billion light-years away has caused a significant disruption in the ionosphere of Earth.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings from the Research on Gamma-Ray Burst
  2. Gamma-Ray Bursts: A Brief Overview
  3. Ionosphere

Key Findings from the Research on Gamma-Ray Burst

Supernova Explosion and Gamma-Ray Release
  • Temporal Context:
    • Approximately two billion years ago, a supernova explosion occurred in a distant galaxy outside the Milky Way.
    • The explosion unleashed a substantial surge of gamma rays into the cosmos.
  • Journey to Earth:
    • Over the span of two billion years, the gamma rays traveled through space, reaching Earth in 2022.
Utilization of China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES)
  • Observational Tool:
    • The effects of the gamma-ray burst were examined using the China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES), also known as Zhangheng.
    • Launched in 2018, the satellite carried the Electric Field Detector (EFD) instrument, offering unprecedented resolution for analysis.
Impact on Earth’s Ionosphere
  • Ionosphere Disturbance:
    • The gamma-ray burst induced a remarkable disruption in Earth’s ionosphere.
    • The ionosphere, situated 30-600 miles above the planet’s surface, exhibited significant variations.
  • Detection Timeframe:
    • The disturbance was detected in October 2022.
Multi-Satellite Observations
  • Collaborative Monitoring:
    • The European Space Agency’s Integral and various satellites in proximity to Earth recorded the impact.
    • Observations revealed a strong variation in the electric field of the ionosphere.
Duration and Aftereffects
  • Gamma Ray Persistence:
    • The gamma rays lingered for approximately 13 minutes.
  • Extended Impact Period:
    • Despite the short duration of the gamma rays, the disturbance in the ionosphere persisted for several hours.
  • Global Effects:
    • The impact even triggered lightning detectors in India.
Record-Breaking Potency
  • Unprecedented Potency:
    • Scientists identified this gamma-ray burst as the most potent ever recorded.

Gamma-Ray Bursts: A Brief Overview

Definition and Characteristics
  • Nature of Gamma-Ray Bursts:
    • Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are brief explosions of gamma rays, representing the most energetic form of light.
  • Duration and Brightness:
    • Lasting from milliseconds to hours, GRBs shine hundreds of times brighter than typical supernovae.
    • They are about a million trillion times as bright as the Sun.
  • Observational Location:
    • Observed in distant galaxies, GRBs are the brightest electromagnetic events known in the universe.
Classification of Gamma-Ray Bursts
  • Long- and Short-Duration Events:
    • Astronomers categorize GRBs into long- and short-duration events.
    • Long-duration bursts, associated with massive star deaths in supernovae, last from 2 seconds to several hours.
    • Short-duration bursts, lasting less than 2 seconds, result from events like the merger of neutron stars or a neutron star with a black hole.
  • Common Outcome:
    • Regardless of type, both long and short-duration events lead to the creation of a new black hole.

Ionosphere:

  • Geographical Location:
    • The ionosphere is situated in Earth’s upper atmosphere, spanning an altitude of approximately 30 to 600 miles (50 to 950 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.
  • Ionization Process:
    • Ionized by solar radiation, the ionosphere forms a layer of charged particles.
  • Dynamic Sensitivity:
    • Highly sensitive to changing magnetic and electrical conditions in space, often influenced by solar activity.
    • Expands and contracts in response to solar radiation.
Significance of the Ionosphere
  • Radio Propagation:
    • Influences the propagation of radio waves, reflecting and refracting them back to Earth.
    • Enables long-distance communication through radio transmissions.
  • Solar Radiation Shield:
    • Acts as a protective shield against harmful solar radiation, particularly extreme ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  • Auroras Formation:
    • Interactions between charged particles in the ionosphere and Earth’s magnetic field result in phenomena like auroras.
    • Auroras are luminous displays predominantly seen at high latitudes.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the collapse of the under-construction Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand has highlighted concerns about tunnel construction safety. The incident emphasizes the need for a thorough investigation into potential causes and the implementation of preventive measures.

Relevance:

GS III: Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Potential Causes of the Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel Collapse
  2. Critical Aspects of Tunnel Construction
  3. Major Tunnels in India
  4. Way Forward for Tunnel Construction and Maintenance

Potential Causes of the Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel Collapse

Background of Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel

Project Overview:

  • Part of the Char Dham all-weather road project by the Central Government.
  • Constructed by Navayuga Engineering Company, awarded by NHIDCL.
Potential Causes of Tunnel Collapse

Uncertain Cause:

  • The exact reason is yet to be determined.
  • A possible factor could be a hidden loose patch of fractured or weak rock in the collapsed section.
  • Located approximately 200-300 meters from the tunnel mouth.

Probable Scenario:

  • Concealed weak rock might have been undetectable during construction.
  • Water seepage through the compromised rock could have eroded it over time, creating an unseen void above the tunnel structure.

Critical Aspects of Tunnel Construction

Tunnel Excavation Techniques

Drill and Blast Method (DBM):

  • Involves drilling holes into rock and detonating explosives for fragmentation.
  • Common in challenging terrains like the Himalayas.

Tunnel-Boring Machines (TBMs):

  • Bore through rock while supporting the tunnel with precast concrete segments.
  • Expensive but safer method, suitable for rock covers up to 400 meters.
Aspects in Tunnel Construction

Rock Investigation:

  • Comprehensive examination of rock strength and composition through seismic waves and petrographic analysis.
  • Assesses load-bearing capacity and stability.

Monitoring and Support:

  • Continuous monitoring using stress and deformation meters.
  • Support mechanisms include shotcrete, rock bolts, steel ribs, and tunnel pipe umbrellas.

Geologist Assessments:

  • Independent geologists crucial for examining the tunnel, predicting failures, and assessing rock stability.

Major Tunnels in India

Atal Tunnel (Rohtang Tunnel)

Location:

  • Built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas.
  • Situated on the Leh-Manali Highway in Himachal Pradesh.

Key Features:

  • Length: 9.02 km.
  • World’s longest tunnel above 10,000 feet (3,048 m).
Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel

Location:

  • India’s longest transportation railway tunnel.
  • Runs through the Pir Panjal mountain range between Quazigund and Baramulla.

Key Features:

  • Length: 11.2 km.
Jawahar Tunnel (Banihal Tunnel)

Location:

  • Also known as Banihal Tunnel.
  • Connects Srinagar and Jammu, facilitating round-the-year road connectivity.

Key Features:

  • Length: 2.85 km.
Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Road Tunnel (Chenani-Nashri Tunnel)

Location:

  • Previously known as Chenani-Nashri Tunnel.
  • Longest road tunnel in India.

Key Features:

  • Length: 9.3 km.

Way Forward for Tunnel Construction and Maintenance

Stringent Maintenance Schedule:

  • Implement regular inspections for structural integrity, drainage systems, and ventilation.
  • Promptly address and rectify identified issues.

Advanced Monitoring Technologies:

  • Employ sensors and monitoring technologies for continuous assessment of structural health.
  • Early detection of potential weaknesses or anomalies.

Periodic Third-Party Risk Assessments:

  • Conduct risk assessments considering geological, environmental, and usage factors.
  • Periodic evaluations by independent experts.

Contingency Planning:

  • Develop contingency plans and emergency protocols for addressing structural concerns.
  • Ensure preparedness for unforeseen events.

Personnel Training:

  • Train personnel in tunnel management and emergency response procedures.
  • Public awareness campaigns to educate users and residents about safety measures and reporting mechanisms.

Incorporate Innovative Technologies:

  • Explore the use of Artificial Intelligence, drones, or robotics for efficient inspections and maintenance.
  • Embrace technology for early detection of potential issues.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

NASA is set to launch the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) to study ‘airglow’ to understand space weather.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE): Unraveling Terrestrial and Space Weather Interactions
  2. NASA’s AWE Mission Objectives
  3. Understanding Airglow

Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE): Unraveling Terrestrial and Space Weather Interactions

  • NASA’s Heliophysics Explorers Programme:
    • A pioneering NASA experiment, AWE delves into the dynamic connections between terrestrial and space weather.
  • International Space Station (ISS) Deployment:
    • AWE will be launched and affixed to the exterior of the ISS, providing a unique observational vantage point.
  • Airglow Observation:
    • Positioned to gaze down at Earth, AWE records airglow, the vibrant light bands, to comprehend their role in space weather.
  • Understanding Space Weather Forces:
    • AWE aims to decipher the intricate interplay of forces influencing space weather in the upper atmosphere.
  • Mesopause Measurement:
    • AWE focuses on measuring airglow at the mesopause (85 to 87 km above Earth), where temperatures plunge to -100 degrees Celsius.
  • Infrared Bandwidth Detection:
    • Uniquely positioned to capture faint airglow in the infrared spectrum, particularly the brightest wavelengths for efficient detection.
  • Fine-Scale Wave Resolution:
    • AWE’s distinctive capability lies in resolving waves at finer horizontal scales compared to traditional satellite observations at those altitudes.
  • Ionosphere Health Significance:
    • AWE’s insights into space weather contribute to assessing the health of the ionosphere, crucial for maintaining uninterrupted communication.

NASA’s AWE Mission Objectives

  • Airglow Mapping:
    • AWE will undertake precise mapping of the vibrant airglows present in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper (ATMT):
    • The mission incorporates ATMT, an instrument designed to scan and map the mesopause, a crucial atmospheric region.
  • Imaging Radiometer Technology:
    • Four identical telescopes with an imaging radiometer will capture specific wavelengths, enabling the creation of a temperature map.
  • Temperature Map Insights:
    • Scientists aim to convert the brightness of light into a temperature map, unraveling the movement of airglows and providing insights into their role in the upper atmosphere and space weather.

Understanding Airglow

  • Nature of Airglow:
    • Airglow is the subtle luminescence observed in Earth’s upper atmosphere, arising from the selective absorption of solar ultraviolet and X-radiation by air molecules and atoms.
  • Altitude Concentration:
    • Predominantly emanating from the region 50 to 300 km above Earth’s surface, the brightest airglow is typically concentrated at altitudes around 97 km.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

The Indian Navy, in association with DRDO, successfully undertook Guided Flight Trials of the first indigenously developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile Short Range (NASM-SR) from a Sea King 42B helicopter recently.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Naval Anti-Ship Missile Short Range (NASM-SR): An Overview

Naval Anti-Ship Missile Short Range (NASM-SR): An Overview

Development and Origin:

  • The NASM-SR is the first indigenous air-launched anti-ship cruise missile created exclusively for the Indian Navy.
  • Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Launch Platform:

  • Designed to be launched from attack helicopters, providing a versatile and strategic maritime strike capability.

Replacement for Sea Eagle:

  • Intended to replace the existing Sea Eagle missiles currently deployed by the Navy.
  • Integration with MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters:
  • Expected to be utilized with the new MH-60R multi-role helicopters, gradually being introduced into the Indian Navy.
Key Features:
  • Guidance System: Equipped with a new guidance system featuring a state-of-the-art navigation system and integrated avionics.
  • Launcher Technology: Incorporates an indigenously developed launcher specifically designed for helicopters.
  • Speed and Range: Possesses a strike range of approximately 60 km and can attain a speed of Mach 0.8.
  • Imaging Infrared Seeker: Utilizes an imaging infrared seeker to home in on target heat emissions.
  • Warhead Capability: Equipped with a warhead weighing 100 kg, demonstrating effectiveness against patrol boats and larger warships.
  • Sea Skimming Capability: The missile, during its approach, can cruise at a mere 5 meters above sea level, making it challenging for enemy radars to detect and counter.
Strategic Advantage:
  • The low-level capability, known as sea skimming, enhances the missile’s evasiveness, making it difficult for enemy defenses to detect, track, and intercept using surface-to-air missiles or guns.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Ministry of Education (MoE) recently said they would write to all states to encourage aspirants to utilise the newly launched portal for exam preparation, SATHEE (Self-Assessment Test and Help for Entrance Exams).

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims, Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. SATHEE (Self Assessment Test and Help for Entrance Exams) Portal: Empowering Students for Success

SATHEE (Self Assessment Test and Help for Entrance Exams) Portal: Empowering Students for Success

  • Launched by the Ministry of Education, SATHEE is a pioneering initiative designed to offer a free learning and assessment platform for students preparing for competitive examinations.
Objectives:
  • Provide free training and coaching for competitive exams, addressing the financial constraints faced by many students.
  • Bridge the gap for those unable to afford costly entrance exam guidance.
  • Facilitate preparation for a range of exams, including JEE, NEET, CAT, GATE, UPSC, etc.
  • Offer materials and support in multiple languages to ensure accessibility across diverse regions of India.
Key Features:
  • Multilingual Support:
    • Offers preparation materials in English, Hindi, and regional languages to cater to a broader student base.
  • Expert Faculty Videos:
    • Features videos created by faculty members from prestigious institutions such as IITs and IISC.
    • Aids students in learning concepts, revising weak topics, and preparing for competitive exams.
  • Utilization of Prutor AI:
    • Integrates an indigenously developed AI program called Prutor, originating from IIT-Kanpur.
  • Comprehensive Exam Coverage:
    • Covers preparation materials for a variety of exams, including JEE and NEET, as well as broader exams like CAT, GATE, and UPSC.
  • Webinars and Motivational Content:
    • Offers webinars on exam preparation ideas, featuring success stories, motivational sessions, and collaborative problem-solving sessions (Solve with me).
Empowering Student Success:
  • SATHEE serves as a holistic platform, combining educational resources, expert guidance, and motivational content to empower students on their journey towards academic success.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, various government and non-governmental organisations in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Punjab have released Gambusia fish into local water bodies to address a mosquito menace.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gambusia Fish: A Mosquito-Control Warrior
  2. About Malaria

Gambusia Fish: A Mosquito-Control Warrior

  • Introduction: Gambusia fish, commonly known as mosquitofish, is recognized for its role in biological mosquito control.
  • Native Habitat: Native to the waters of the south-eastern United States.
  • Mosquito Control: Employed as a biological agent to control mosquito larvae, playing a crucial role in mosquito-control strategies globally.
  • Feeding Behavior: A single full-grown fish is known to consume about 100 to 300 mosquito larvae per day.
  • Historical Usage in India: Integrated into malaria control strategies in India since 1928, notably in the Urban Malaria Scheme.
  • Conservation Status: Listed as one of the 100 worst invasive alien species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Significance: Remains an integral part of efforts to combat mosquito-borne diseases and plays a vital role in enhancing public health.

About Malaria

  • The Malaria is a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality.
  • Despite huge progress in tackling the disease, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria and 430,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • The Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite.
  • The parasite can be spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • There are many different types of plasmodium parasite, but only 5 types cause malaria in humans.
  • The Children under the age of 5 and pregnant women are most susceptible to the disease.
  • The severity of malaria varies based on the species of plasmodium.
  • The Symptoms are chills, fever and sweating, usually occurring a few weeks after being bitten.

-Source: The Hindu


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