11, March 2017

1.Four States come together for elephant census
Source : The Hindu

Four States — Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand– have decided to count elephants synchronously between May 9 and 12. These states comprise India’s most human-elephant conflict-prone region

This will be the first regional synchronous elephant census with an identical set of rules for direct and indirect counting methods

The census has been consciously been scheduled for May 10, a full moon day on which the chances of elephant sightings are higher

Methods:

  • The direct elephant counting method is based on sightings of elephants, while in the indirect method, surveyors follow a dung decay formula for arriving at a population estimation
  • Dung decay methods have already been used by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
  • A variation of about 8% to 9% has been noticed between the two methods

Data:

  • The synchronised census will indicate the size, distribution, structure and density of the elephant population in the region
  • According to the 2015 census, Odisha has 1,954 elephants, while Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have approximately 700, 275 and 130 elephants respectively
  • Elephants travel long distances and an exhaustive information base on regional elephant distribution will help plan a proper intervention for their conservation in the long run

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2.The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016
Source : PIB

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016. The 49-year-old law was amended to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China.

  • The amendments proposed include that once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death.
  • The new Bill ensures that the law of succession does not apply to enemy property; that there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the Act.
  • The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the Act to ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and do not revert to the enemy subject or firm.
  • The Bill also prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.

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3.A mass coral bleaching again
Source : The Hindu

Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef is experiencing an unprecedented mass coral bleaching for the second consecutive year

The corals do not have enough time to fully recover from last year’s extreme heat event

The bleaching is part of a global event affecting the world’s coral reefs over the past two years

This year more bleaching is being observed in this central part of the Reef, which last year escaped widespread severe bleaching. This bleaching highlights the importance of global action on climate change in Australia, one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.

What is Coral Bleaching?

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. Corals can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

About the Great Barrier Reef:

It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km. It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

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4.‘Lost’ Chandrayaan-1 found orbiting Moon by NASA
Source : The Hindu

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have found India’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1 which was considered lost, is still orbiting the moon. They also have found NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The ISRO lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, almost a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008. The unmanned spacecraft is still circling some 200 km in the polar orbit around the moon

How these probes were discovered?

Both space probes were discovered using JPL’s new ground-based radar technique by sending out a powerful beam of microwaves towards the moon. The beams were produced using 70-metre antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. The radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-metre Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

Chandrayaan 1:

  • The Chandrayaan-1 mission performed high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared (NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions.
  • One of the objectives was to prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with high spatial and altitude resolution) of both near and far side of the moon.
  • It aimed at conducting chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of mineral and chemical elements such as Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium as well as high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium and Thorium with high spatial resolution.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO):

  • LRO is a robotic mission that set out to map the moon’s surface.
  • Data collected by LRO has been described as essential for planning NASA’s future human and robotic missions to the Moon. Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies.

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5.Pakistan’s Hindu marriage bill passed by both houses of Parliament
Source : The Hindu

Pakistan’s Parliament has finally passed the much awaited landmark Bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus

The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 is the first personal law for the minority community and will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage, which is needed while applying for passports and other official documents.

The bill provides a mechanism for registering Hindu marriages, conditions for contracting a marriage, and the procedure and grounds for dissolving a marriage.

According to its provisions:

  • Both parties to a marriage must be of sound mind and capable of giving valid consent. The parties also must not be below the age of 18, a measure aimed at preventing the marriage of minors.
  • It includes the Shadi Parath — a document similar to ‘Nikahnama’ in Muslims.
  • The Shadi Parath will be required to be signed by a pundit and registered with the relevant government department
  • The simple document has eight columns starting with the date of marriage, followed by the name of the union council, tehsil, town and district.Both the bride and the groom have to sign the document along with one witness and the registrar
  • The bill will be applicable in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. Southern Sindh province, which is home to a majority of Pakistan’s Hindus, has already enacted its own Hindu marriage law.
  • It also provides the concept of judicial separation, where the marriage remains intact while the parties are no longer under an obligation to cohabit. The legitimacy of children born out of voidable Hindu marriages has also been protected.

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6.NASA to explore Jupiter’s icy moon
Source : The Hindu

NASA’s ‘Europa Clipper’ set to launch in the 2020s will probe the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa .When the mission was still in the conceptual phase, it was informally called Europa Clipper, but NASA has now adopted that name as the formal title for the mission.

  • The mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell .It is being planned for launch in the 2020s, arriving in the Jupiter system after a journey of several years
  • Europa has long been a high priority for exploration because it holds a salty liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust
  • The ultimate aim of Europa Clipper is to determine if Europa is habitable, possessing all three of the ingredients necessary for life: liquid water, chemical ingredients, and energy sources sufficient to enable biology

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