21, March 2018

  1. Arctic permafrost may unleash carbon within decades: NASA

Source: The Hindu

Permafrost in the coldest northern Arctic will thaw enough to become a permanent source of carbon to the atmosphere this century, with the peak transition occurring in 40 to 60 years, a NASA study warns.

  • The region was formerly thought to be at least temporarily shielded from global warming by its extreme environment.


  • The study, led by Nicholas Parazoo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, calculated that as thawing continues, by the year 2300, total carbon emissions from this region will be 10 times as much as all human-produced fossil fuel emissions in 2016.


  • Permafrost is soil that has remained frozen for years or centuries under topsoil.
  • It contains carbon-rich organic material, such as leaves, that froze without decaying.
  • The study published in PNAS found that warmer, more southerly permafrost regions will not become a carbon source until the end of the 22nd century, even though they are thawing now. That is because other changing Arctic processes will counter the effect of thawing soil in these regions, researchers said.
  • Permafrost in southern Alaska and southern Siberia is already thawing, so it is obviously more vulnerable. Some of the very cold, stable permafrost in the highest latitudes in Alaska and Siberia appeared to be sheltered from extreme climate change.

Simulation studies

  • As rising Arctic air temperatures cause permafrost to thaw, the organic material decomposes and releases its carbon to the atmosphere in the form of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.
  • Assessed when the Arctic will transition to a carbon source instead of the carbon-neutral area it is today – with some processes removing about as much carbon from the atmosphere as other processes emit.
  • They divided the Arctic into two regions of equal size, a colder northern region and a warmer, more southerly belt encircling the northern region. There is far more permafrost in the northern region than in the southern one.

Way ahead:

  • Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis, so increased plant growth means less carbon in the atmosphere. According to the model, as the southern Arctic grows warmer, increased photosynthesis will balance increased permafrost emissions until the late 2100s.

  1. Implementation of Prevention of Atrocities Act

Source: PIB

An Act of Parliament namely the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989, was enacted to prevent atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Key facts:

  • With an objective to deliver members of SCs and STs a greater justice, the PoA Act has been amended in January, 2016.
  • With a view to prevent atrocities, Rule 3 of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, specifies precautionary and preventive measures to be taken by the State Government.
  • State Government/Union Territory Administrations which implement provision of the PoA Act are provided admissible Central assistance towards its effective implementation.
  • A Committee under the Chairpersonship of Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment form time to time reviews implementation status of the PoA Act in States and Union Territories.
  • As per the data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, the number of cases of offences of atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes (SCs), registered under the scheduled castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989 in conjunction with the IPC in the country.
  • The NCRB, however, does not generate data in regard to various section/sub-sections of the PoA Act which describe offences of atrocities as well as the location of their occurrence.

  1. Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC)

Source: PIB

  • The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) celebrated its 6th Foundation Day.
  • Themed as ‘Sustaining Innovation – A Market Driven Pathway’, the event was attended by a large number of dignitaries from the scientific and industry sectors both from within the country and overseas.
  • BIRAC has played a critical role in supporting the entrepreneurial aspirations of brightest minds in the country through its programs and mentor support networks in keeping with the Government’s mandate.
  • It is through these efforts that we are able to develop affordable products and technologies that will better the lives of our people.


  • Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
  • “To Stimulate, foster and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry, particularly start-ups and SME’s, for creation of affordable products addressing the needs of the largest section of society”

Key Strategies

  • Foster innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Promote affordable innovation in key social sectors
  • Empowerment of start-ups & small and medium enterprises
  • Contribute through partners for capability enhancement and diffusion of innovation
  • Enable commercialization of discovery
  • Ensure global competitiveness of Indian enterprises

  1. Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana launched to promote philately– Ministry of Communication

Source: PIB

A Pan India scholarship program for school children called Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana to increase the reach of Philately.

Under the scheme of SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby), it is proposed to award annual scholarships to children of Standard VI to IX having good academic record and also pursuing Philately as a hobby through a competitive selection process in all postal circles.

Key facts:

  • Philately is the hobby of collection and study of Postage stamps. It also entails the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other related philatelic products.
  • The hobby of collecting Stamps includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloguing, displaying, storing, and maintaining the stamps or related products on thematic areas.
  • Philately is called the king of hobbies because Stamp collection as a hobby has lot of educational benefits – it teaches a lot about the socio economic political reality of the period in which the stamp is issued or the theme on which it is issued.

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