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Science & Technology Affairs 2009

2009 is celebrated as International Year of Astronomy. 2009 is also celebrated as 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations with the telescope used by the Italian physicist. 2009 is also celebrated as : Natural Fibre Year by UN, International Gurilla Year by conservationists & environmentalists, International Year of Reconciliation.
Longest total solar eclipse of 21st century occurred on 22nd July 2009. It lasted 6 min 44 sec at Taregana in Bihar.
GM( Genetically Modified) crops are those in which the genetic material(DNA) is altered so that there is some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer. Bt Cotton (Bacillius Thuringeinsis) is only commercially approved biotech crop in India. Govt plans to introduce GM foods particularly Tomatoes, Brinjals and Cauliflower to held meet food production target in three years time. Till date, India has only allowed the use of GM Cotton, a non food crop. India is world’s second largest cotton producer. India’s own Bt cotton variety : Bikaner Narma. Deep Space Network Facility is located at Byalalu, Karnataka.
Chandrayan II a lander rover mission of ISRO is scheduled to be launched in 2012. ISRO plans to hoist a capsule with two Indians on board to the Moon by 2015. Subsquently, an Indian will be launched to set foot on the Moon in 2020.
‘Aditya’ satellite will be sent by India to carry out studies on the Sun in 2012. SOHO stands for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Probe Plus of NASA to study Sun System will be launched in 2018.
India’s first nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine’Arihant’ was launced on 26 July 2009. It will be commissioned by 2011. It was built with the help of Russian consultants. With the launch, India join elite club of five nations USA, Russia, China, Britain and France having nuclear powered submarine capability.
Blue Brain project in Switzerland is under progress under which scientist attempt to ‘Reverse engineer’ the mammalian brain. Novo-G, world’s fastest and most powerful supercomputer became operational. Novo-G got the first part of its name from the Latin term to ‘make anew, change, alter’ and the second word G from ‘Genesis’.
World Forestry Day celebrated on 21 March. Theme for 2009 was ‘Sustainable Forest Management’. India currently has 23.39 % of forest area against 33 % required. India presently has 37 Tiger reserves, 99 national parks and 515 wildlife sanctuaries.
Earth Hour 2009 is a global event every year which will see landmarks around the world to go dark for an hour. Earth Day celebrated on 22 April.
Eight Millenium Development Goals (MDG) were set in Millenium Summit 2000. It has a deadline of 2015. Kerala has already achieve the targets in 2008.
India launched a Israel developed spy satellite ‘RISAT 2’ providing all weather 24 hour surveillance. Also launched experimental communication micro satellite’ ANUSAT’ built by Chennai based Anna University.
International Space Development Conference was held at Orlando in May 2009.
Scientist have discovered 47 million year old primate fossil named ‘Ida’ (Scientific name-Darwinius masillae) which forms a crucial missing link between our evolutionary branch of life and rest of animal kingdom.
Per capita consumption of electricity is 630 Units in India in 2009.
NDRI Karnal cloned world’s 2nd cloned buffalo ‘Garima’. It also produced world’s 1st cloned buffalo calf in Feb 2009 but it could not survive. El Nino- is a shift in ocean temperatures and atmospheric conditions in the tropical pacific. It is a periodic warming of the Pacific oceans that leads to extremes of weather.
La Nino- It follows an El Nino. It is also called the Little Girl. It is anti El-Nino or simply a cold event. It is the cooling of water in the Pacific Ocean.
SOI ( Southern Oscillation Index) is a major indicator of El Nino, measures the pressure difference between the Pacific islands of Tahiti and Darwin in Australia. A consistently negative SOI indicates to a developing El Nino. An El Nino is formally declared when above normal temp -0-5 degree celcius or higher are recorded over eastern Pacific surface for three straight months.
Definition of poverty as per Planning Commission- Average per capita spending below Rs. 356 per month in rural areas and Rs. 539 per month in urban areas.
38th World Environment Day was celebrated on 5th June 2009. Theme for 2009 chosen by UNDP is ‘Your Planet Needs You’. World Environment Day was established by UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the human environment. 0.8 degree celcius rise in average temperature around the world since 1880. India is the 5th largest emitter of Greenhouse Gases. 2 of the 12 biodiversity hotspots of the world are in India i.e. Northeastern region and Western Ghats.
US Space Agency’s Themis Mission – to study the colourful display of high latitude skies.
Phoenix Mars Lander found Perchlorate substance on Mars surface.
Carbon Credits : It provide a way to reduce green house emissions on industrial scale by capping total annual emissions and allowing the market to assign a monetary value to any shortfall through trading. India has earned 4,64,45,282 carbon credits, second only to China in the world. Per capita carbon dioxide emission for India is 1.02 metric tones, while USA stood at first place with 20.01 metric tones. Super Earth : It is a large extrasolar terrestrial planet, which is atleast twice the mass of earth but less than ten earth masses. European researcher found three super earths recently.
Asia’s first and world’s second DNA bank is opened in Lucknow.
Pluto, the 9th planet of solar system, was demoted from planet status in 2006 is now called’ Plutoids’. Jason-2, a French- USA satellite was launched in 2009. It will monitor rising sea levels and current movement. ‘Gegeneiphis Seshachari’ first viviparous ( those that do not lay eggs) was discovered in western Ghat. It is the first viviparous creature to be found in Asia.
International Lunar Network, is a initiative that provide new insights into the Moon’s surface and its interior composition- critical inputs for the future colonialist. India has signed for the mission to put together a network of robotic science stations on the Moon. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, UK, USA and India have joined hands for six to eight stations of the Lunar Network. USA places first two Lunar Network Landers on the lunar surface in 2013-14. India has also scheduled to launched Chardrayaan-II in collaboration with Russia in 2012-13.
LHC Project : Large Hadron Collidor Project is operated by European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) at Geneva on 10 Sep, 2008, at Franco- Swiss border. In actual CERN stand for Conseil European pour la Recharche Nucleaire, in French language. CERN was founded in 1954. Under this experiment, scientist recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang to understand the creation and workings of the Universe. It is the most expansive scientific experiment to date, it cost $ 3.8 billion or Rs.16,340 crore. . CERN has 20 nations as member. India, Japan, Russia and US are the observer countries.
Hadron : A particle with mass made up of smaller units called quarks that are bound together. Protons and Electrons are types of hadron. Higgs Boson : A theoretical particle which is thought to give matter its mass, known as the ‘God Particle’. First proposed by Peter Higgs in 1964. The particle was named after an Indian physicists S.N.Bose. The LHC experiment should confirm whether it exists or not. Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) operates the 17 reactors in six states, to produce 4120 MW of electricity.
Brain Fingerprinting : It is an electronic test of a specific kind of brain wave that can identify incriminating information despite an individual’s attempt to conceal the knowledge. It is a type of signal in the brain kwown as P300 wave, so called because it is an involuntary response to a recognized object or piece of information that happens within 300 milliseconds.
Carbon Footprint : It is a measure of the impact human activites have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of Carbon Dioxide.
Global Positioning System Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) : It is a satellite based process developed jointly by the ISRO and the Airport Authority of India. Govt recently approved the system that will help airlines to choose the best and most fuel saving routes. GAGAN would be in place by 2011 and make flying much safer.
Govt set a ten year deadline for the blending of petrol and diesel with 20 % bio-fuel. Govt approved the implementation of National Biofuel Policy that has set an indicative target of blending 20 % ethanol in petrol and non-edible oil from plants like Jatropha in diesel by 2017. At present, 5% ethanol blending in petrol is mandatory across the country except J&K, NE states. India is the world’s second largest producer of sugar after Brazil. Ethanol is produced from molasses, a sugar by product.
10th planet discovered called ‘Xena’ or 2003 UB 313.
A new ozone hole discovered over Tibet.
Anoushah Ansari is the first woman space tourist in the world.
Namira Salim, first Pakistani women astronaut, sent in space by NASA in 2008.
Agni 5 missile is in design stage. It has a maximum range of 5000 Km as an ICBM ( Inter Continental Ballistic Missile). Range of Agni I -700 Km, Agni-II- 2500 Km, Agni-III- 3500Km
Virgin Mothership ‘Eve’ is designed to reach an altitude of 50000 feet and release space Ship Two, which will transport passengers to space.
S-500 – Russia is developing a fifth generation surface to air rocket which is cabable of engaging ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 5 Km per second.
ISRO unveil ‘Bhuvan’, its version of Google Earth. It is a 3 D mapping tool.
Google unveiled a new version of its search engine called ‘ Caffeine’.
‘Weblog’ first coined by Jorn Barger in 1997. The contracted name ‘blog’ was coined in 1999 by Peter Merholz.
TERI launched campaign ‘Lighting a Billion Lives’ which is based on the use of solar laterns specially designed and manufactured on a decentralized basis.
Govt approved National Solar Mission which aimed at Solar generation target of 20,000 MW by 2020. At present solar generation capacity of India is 500 MW. National Solar Mission envisages an investment of Rs.91,684 crore over the next 30 years. It proposes to add 20,000MW of power by 2020 and 1,00,000 MW by 2030. It aims to achieve parity with coal based thermal power generation by 2030.
According to latest findings, Malaria was first transmitted to humans by Chimpanzees.
H1N1 a new influenza virus caused Swine flu. It is a genetic code consists of 8 segments. The virus gets its name from a combination of two proteins – hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. Swine flu was first detected in 1987. Just like humans, pigs get flu too, hence the name Swine flu. A disease that spreads throughout the world is called Pandemic. Swine flu is termed as pandemic disease.
Govt formulate a technology mission – War for Water ( Winning, Augmentation and Renovation for Water). It solve problem of water scarcity. CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) is a global mechanism where green projects can be registered to earn carbon credits for trading in the international market. India has maximum number of CDM projects in the world followed by China. One Carbon Credit is equal to a tone of carbon saved from emission.
UN Convention on Climate Change, the global body for certifying clean projects was held at Bonn, in Aug 2009.
UMPP (Ultra Mega Power Projects) are large sized coal based power projects having a capacity of 4000 MW involving an estimated investment of about $ 4 billion. Four UMPP has been awarded so far in India. These are Mundra UMPP, Gujarat, Sasan UMPP, Madhya Pradesh, Krishnapatnam UMPP, Andhra Pradesh and Tilaiya UMPP at Jharkhand.
Antares DLR-H2 motor glider is the first manned aircraft to be powered exclusively with a hydrogen fuel system.
IMD (Indian Meteorological Deparment) official definition of a drought year is when more than 20 % of the country faces a deficit of atleast 25 % of normal rainfall.
Wind power generation in India as on March 2009 is 10243 MW.
SPASER- It is the world’s smallest laser which amplifies surface plasmons- tiny oscillations in the density of free electrons on the surface of metals which in turn produce light waves. LASER amplifies light using a mirrored cavity to intensify it.
IIST- Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology set up at Valiamala, Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala is the only space university in the world offering courses at the undergruate, graduate, doctoral and post doctoral level in space technology.
The Amino acid ‘Glycine’ a fundamental building block of proteins has been found for the first time in a comet Wild 2 by the NASA spacecraft ‘Stardust’ sent in 2004. Comet Wild 2 was named after astronomer Paul Wild.
ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) launched first Swiss satellite built by students of Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne to study the upper atmosphere.
‘Tobacco Atlas’ published by American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, ranks India at No.3 in the top 20 female smoking population across the globe. First and second place is held by USA and China.
Former DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organisation) scientist K Santhanam claimed that 1998 Hydrogen bomb test at Pokhran (Rajasthan) has failed to deliver the desired result.
ISRO looses contact with Chandrayan I on 29 Aug 2009. It was launched on 22 Oct 2008 and was designed for a two year mission in space. India has terminated the 400 crore moon mission Chandrayan I on 30 Aug 2009. NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper placed abroad Chandrayan I recorded presence of water molecules on Moon.
India’s first national medical research park is being set up in the Sricity SEZ on the Tamil Nadu-AP border.
World’s first cloned wolf named ‘Snuwolf’ died in South Korea.
Ridge A in the Antarctic plateau is the world’s coldest, driest and calmest place discovered so far. China proposed base in Antarctica is known as ‘Kunlun’ located at Dome A.
A new technique called array Comparative Genomic Hybridization(CGH) makes it possible to ensure eggs have a normal number of chromosomes boosting the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. Baby Oliver became the first baby in the world using this egg screening technique in London.
China overtake USA in the internet user population. Internet users in 2009 : China - 298 million, USA – 227 million, Japan – 94 million ,India -81 million.
International Ozone Day is celebrated on 16 September every year. Theme of 2009 is ‘Universal Participation-Ozone protection unifies the world’. Ozone layer is a deep layer in the stratosphere , encircling the earth that has large amounts of ozone in it. The ozone layer protects all life on land on the surface of the ocean. Ozone molecules absorb the harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun. This protects us from radiation that can cause skin cancer and other severe skin disorders.
Scientist discovered first rocky extrasolar planet named ‘Corot-7b’.
ISRO launch Oceansat-2 satellite on 23 September 2009, which would help identify fishing zones and help in coastal studies. The 970 Kg spacecraft is launched by C 14 PSLV from Sriharikota. Six other nano satellites from European countries were also launched alongwith it.
‘Copernicium’ is included in the Periodic table as a new chemical element in July 09. It’s name was done after the famous astronomer Nicolus Copernicus.
Google is testing a new service ‘ Fast Flip’ that allows users to view news articles from dozens of major publishers and flip through them as quickly as they would the pages of a magazine.
Planet Saturn’s 61st satellite discovered.
Scientist confirmed for the first time that Australia was once home to a dinosaur, after discovery of ‘Australovenator Wintonensis alias Banjo’.
A new class of black hole was discovered by astronomers in 2009. A black hole is a ramnant of the collapsed star with such a powerful gravitational field that it absorbs all the light that passes near it and reflects nothing.
Mocrobiologists in Maharastra’s Lonar lake found magnetic bacteria therein formed due to meteorite impact.
Present day Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere have touched the highest mark in the past 2.1 million years.
World’s first zero waste city is under construction in Abu Dhabi called Masdar City. It is to be completed by 2016 and will be world’s first carbon neutral, zero waste city completely powered by renewable energy.
CMERI has developed a solar electric rickshaw called ‘ Soleckshaw’ which is pollution free.
Gyroscopes are used to maintain orientation and provide stability in boats, aircrafts and space crafts.
Tsunami is a Japanese word meaning harbour wave. A massive tsunami was unleased by a earthquake in the pacific islands of Samoa on 30 Sep,2009. The capital of Samoa is Apia.
Light combat aircraft ‘Tejas’ successfully completes its 1000th flight in Jan 09.
Indigenously built ‘Astra’ air to air missile was successfully tested at Chandipur Range, Orissa in May 09.
China’s Chang’e-1 mission successfully landed on Moon surface in March 09. It is China’s first moon probe.
‘Princess Elizabeth’ is the name of research station established by Belgium in Antartica in Feb 09. It is the first research station which does not emit any pollutant i.e. it is pollution free station.
China successfully conducted Artificial Snowfall.
LCROSS – Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. NASA’s LCROSS crashed two spacecrafts into a lunar crater on 9 Oct 2009, hoping to splash ice and find out possibility of water on Moon.
IOTWS (Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning & Mitigation System)- It was tested in 18 Indian ocean nations on 14 Oct 2009.
‘2 Pallas’is the name of one of the largest asteroid in the solar system.
James Dyson has developed a ‘Dyson Air Multiple Fan’, a desktop cooling device with no blades.
Scientists have identified a gene ‘TMPRSS6’ which is responsible for causing anaemia.
Neutrinos are elementary particles key to understanding how the universe evolved. Govt proposed to set up Rs.900 crore Neutrino observatory at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve at Masinagudi in Tamil Nadu.
Epi -genome are the pattern of chemical switches in 200 types of human cell. A team led by Joseph Ecker produce the first complete map of the human epi- genome.
NASA launched Ares 1-X rocket. It is first flight test of NASA’s next generation space craft and launch vehicle system which will replace shuttle system.
There are 61 greenhouse gases that are together called Carbon Dioxide equivalent.
ICAR scientist discovered a new sub species of the ‘mite’ variety of insect and named it ‘Mangalaus’.
International Antartic Treaty Expedition 2009 was made from 15 to 30 Nov 2009. It started from Ushuaia. The expedition was run by Robert Swan Obe ( only man to travel to both North & South Poles). Drake passage is a thin body of water that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Indian scientist at Institute for Genomics & Integrative Biology sequenced the entire genome of human. The human genome contains 3.1 billions base pairs. India is the 8th country in the world to sequence the human genome.
Astronomers discovered a planet GJ 1214 b in the constellation called ‘ Ophiuehus’. The planet is almost entirely made of water. ‘Ardi’ which roamed African forests 4.4 million years ago, has been named as the ‘Scientific breakthrough of 2009’.


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13.0 Learning Outcome

13.1 Introduction

13.2 Initiatives towards Constitutional Status to Local Governance

13.2.1 Features of 73rd Constitutional Amendment

13.2.2 Features of 74th Constitutional Amendment

13.2.3 Decentralised Planning in Context of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act

13.3 Initiatives after Economic Reforms

13.4 Functioning of PRIs in Various States after 73rd Amendment

13.5 Functioning of Local Governance after 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment: Observations

13.6 Conclusion

13.7 Key Concepts

13.8 References and Further Reading

13.9 Activities


After studying this Unit you should be able to:

• Identify the background of revitalisation of local governance;

• Understand the features of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment;

• Discuss the initiatives after economic reforms; and

• Outlines the functioning of local governance in various states after the amendment.


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Q. What is the meaning of the terms like ‘Pardon’, ‘Reprieve’, ‘Respite’, ‘Remission’ and ‘Commutation’ with respect to the power of the President to grant pardon to convicted persons?

Ans. In terms of their scope and effect, these terms have specific connotations. The effect of Pardon is to abolish punishment and to absolve the convict of all charges. If Pardon is granted, it is assured as if the convict has not committed any crime. The convict will not face any disabilities due to the allegations and charges made against him. ‘Remission’ means reducing the punishment without changing the nature of punishment. For example, the imprisonment for 20 years may be reduced to the imprisonment for 10 years. ‘Commutation’ means reducing the punishment by changing the nature of punishment. For example, punishment to death may be changed to life imprisonment. ‘Respite’ means reducing or changing the nature of punishment in view of the specific facts and circumstances of the convict. For example, the punishment to death awarded to a pregnant woman, may be changed to simple life imprisonment. Respite means delay in execution of punishment especially that of death, in order to …

General Studies :: Indian Polity #1

Constitutional evolution under British ruleRegulating Act 1773beginning of British parliamentary control over the East India Companysubordination of the presidencies of Bombay and Madras to BengalGovernor of Bengal made Governal-Generalcouncil of Governor-General establishedSupreme Court established in CalcuttaPitt’s India Act 1784commercial and political activities of the Company separatedestablished a board of control over the CompanyCharter Act 1813trade monopoly of the Company abolishedmissionaries allowed to preach in IndiaCharter Act 1833Governor-General of Bengal becomes Governor-General of Indiafirst Governor-General Lord William Bentickends commercial activities of the CompanyCharter Act 1853legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council separatedopen competition for Indian Civil Services establishedIndian Council Act 1861establishes legislative councils at the centre, presidencies and provincesGovernor-General’s executive council to have Indians as non…