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Prelims Booster

5th October – Prelims Booster

Atal Tunnel

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – At Tunnel at its south portal in Manali.

About the ‘Atal Tunnel’ –

  • The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall.
  • The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
  • The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.
  • It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. The Tunnel has ample safety features built into it.
  • It is constructed by the Border Roads Organisation.

Background –

  • Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation of the approach road for this tunnel in 2002. The work was so neglected that only 1300 metres i.e less than 1.5 Kms of tunnel could be built till 2013-14 i.e only about 300 metres each year. If it continued at that pace then the tunnel would be completed only in 2040.
  • In 2005, the estimated cost for the construction of the tunnel was about Rs. 900 crores. But due to continuous delays, today it has been completed after spending more than 3 times i.e. 3200 crore rupees.

Abetment to suicide

The intention to abet suicide cannot be assumed and it needs to be backed by solid, visible proof, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.

What is ‘abetment to suicide’?

Abetment’ is defined in Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Its ingredients consist of instigating a person or to intentionally aid a person to do or not do something. Similarly, the crime of ‘abetment of suicide’ under Section 306 of the IPC involves instigating or actively aiding a person to take his own life.

What did the Supreme Court say?

The police cannot assume the intention (mens rea) of the abettor of a suicide. It has to be evident, it held. In order to prove mens rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased. The ingredient of mens rea cannot be assumed to be ostensibly present but has to be visible and conspicuous.

New Caledonia

The French South Pacific territory of New Caledonia will vote in a referendum on independence with voters expected to reject breaking away from France after almost 170 years despite rising support for the move.

Background –

  • The referendum is part of a carefully negotiated de-colonisation plan agreed in 1998, known as the Noumea Accord, designed to put an end to a deadly conflict between the mostly pro-independence indigenous Kanak population, and the descendants of European settlers known as “Caldoches”.
  • Violence in the 1980s culminated in a drawn-out hostage crisis in 1988 that saw 19 separatists killed on one side, and six police and special forces on the other.
  • It will be the second time the archipelago goes to the polls to decide on its fate in two years, after a first referendum in 2018 resulted in status quo with 56.7% of the vote. But the result still marked a shift towards pro-independence sympathies, raising campaigners’ hopes that this time it could manage to break free.

Sonneratia caseolaris

In 2008, a mangrove ecologist from the University of Calcutta spotted an interesting mangrove plant at the bank of river Hooghly inside Kolkata city. It was quite unusual, as mangroves require a cyclic supply of saline water, and this growth at an upstream zone was remarkable. He then started an investigation on their distribution in the Hooghly estuary, and his recent paper suggests that the mangroves have started moving upstream, growing in less-saline regions.

Findings –

  • After surveying the banks near Kolkata, he was able to spot a few mangroves belonging to Sonneratia. Over the years due to gradual environmental changes and anthropogenic activities, mangroves have started to redistribute. The paper, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, notes that they have reclaimed even the upper course of the river, which was completely devoid of mangroves before 1995.
  • Between Barrackpore and Birlapur, in a non-saline region, about 239 mature trees and numerous saplings of Sonneratia caseolaris (commonly known as mangrove apple) have grown naturally. They were just four to five years old with fruits and flowers, exhibiting luxuriant growth. The team also found the redistribution of several other mangrove associate trees, shrubs and climbers in that region.
  • The team emphasised the fact that the construction of Farakka Barrage in 1975 has increased fresh water flow in River Hooghly, thereby causing change in ecology and chemistry of the river.
  • They also found high chemical oxygen demand in the river because of increased release of harmful chemicals from multiple point and non-point sources. Studies from China have shown that Sonneratia caseolaris grow well in the presence of high chemical oxygen demand of water. This shows the potential of Sonneratia caseolaris to act as a bio-indicator of regional environmental changes.

Impact –

The decline in the mangrove area along with this migration may increase the amplitude of coastal hazards such as storm surges, erosion and flooding.

K-Missile family

A successful trial of the nuclear capable Shaurya missile was conducted by India recently. Shaurya is a land-based parallel of the submarine launched K-15 missile. These ballistic weapons belong to the K missile family — codenamed after late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam — which are launched from Arihant class of nuclear submarines.

About K-Missile Family –

  • The K family of missiles are primarily Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), which have been indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and are named after Dr Kalam, the centre figure in India’s missile and space programmes who also served as the 11th President of India.
  • The development of these naval platform launched missiles began in the late 1990s as a step towards completing India’s nuclear triad — the capability of launching nuclear weapons from land, sea and air based assets.
  • Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, smaller and stealthier than their land-based counterparts, the Agni series of missiles which are medium and intercontinental range nuclear capable ballistic missiles.
  • While K family are primarily submarine-fired missiles to be fired from India’s Arihant class nuclear powered platforms, the land and air variants of some of its members have also been developed by the DRDO.
  • Shaurya, whose user trial was conducted recently, is a land variant of short range SLBM K-15 Sagarika, which has a range of at least 750 kilometers.
  • India has also developed and successfully tested multiple times the K-4 missiles from the family which has a range of 3500 km. It is reported that more members of K-family — reportedly to have been codenamed K-5 and K-6 — with ranges of 5000 and 6000 km are also under development. The early development trials of K-15 and K-4 missiles had begun in the early 2010s.

Strategic importance of SLBMs –

  • The capability of being able to launch nuclear weapons submarine platforms has great strategic importance in context of achieving a nuclear triad, especially in the light of ‘no first use’ policy of India.
  • The sea-based underwater nuclear capable assets significantly increases the second strike capability of a country and thus boosts its nuclear deterrence.
  • These submarines can not only survive a first strike by the adversary but also can launch a strike in retaliation thus achieving Credible Nuclear Deterrence.
  • The 2016 commissioned nuclear powered Arihant submarine and its class members which in the pipeline, are the assets capable of launching missiles with nuclear warheads.
  • Shaurya, like many of the modern missiles, is a canister-based system, which means that it is stored and operated from specially designed compartments. In the canister, the inside environment is controlled thus along with making its transport and storage easier, the shelf life of weapons also improves significantly.

While DRDO has been conducting these tests, there has not been any official communication from the agency about them, possibly because of classified nature of K family missile projects and their close link to the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) project of which Arihant class vessels are part of. These recent tests of these systems can also be looked at as a strong message to China and Pakistan in light of the present situation in the region.

Polygraph and Narcoanalysis Tests

Government of Uttar Pradesh plans to perform polygraph and narcoanalysis tests as part of the investigation into the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year old Dalit woman by four men in Hathras.

What are polygraph and narcoanalysis tests?

  • A polygraph test is based on the assumption that physiological responses that are triggered when a person is lying are different from what they would be otherwise.
  • Instruments like cardio-cuffs or sensitive electrodes are attached to the person, and variables such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, change in sweat gland activity, blood flow, etc., are measured as questions are put to them.
  • A numerical value is assigned to each response to conclude whether the person is telling the truth, is deceiving, or is uncertain.

Background –

  • A test such as this is said to have been first done in the 19th century by the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, who used a machine to measure changes in the blood pressure of criminal suspects during interrogation. Similar devices were subsequently created by the American psychologist William Marstron in 1914, and by the California police officer John Larson in 1921.
  • Narcoanalysis, by contrast, involves the injection of a drug, sodium pentothal, which induces a hypnotic or sedated state in which the subject’s imagination is neutralised, and they are expected to divulge information that is true.
  • The drug, referred to as “truth serum” in this context, was used in larger doses as anaesthesia during surgery, and is said to have been used during World War II for intelligence operations.
  • More recently, investigating agencies have sought to employ these tests in investigation, and are sometimes seen as being a “softer alternative” to torture or “third degree” to extract the truth from suspects.
  • However, neither method has been proven scientifically to have a 100% success rate, and remain contentious in the medical field as well.

Legality of the tests –

  • In ‘Selvi & Ors vs State of Karnataka & Anr’ (2010), a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal ruled that no lie detector tests should be administered “except on the basis of consent of the accused”.
  • Those who volunteer must have access to a lawyer, and have the physical, emotional, and legal implications of the test explained to them by police and the lawyer, the Bench said.
  • It said that the ‘Guidelines for the Administration of Polygraph Test on an Accused’ published by the National Human Rights Commission in 2000, must be strictly followed. The subject’s consent should be recorded before a judicial magistrate, the court said.
  • The results of the tests cannot be considered to be “confessions”, because those in a drugged-induced state cannot exercise a choice in answering questions that are put to them.
  • However, any information or material subsequently discovered with the help of such a voluntarily-taken test can be admitted as evidence, the court said.
  • The Bench took into consideration international norms on human rights, the right to a fair trial, and the right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3) of the Constitution.

CBD Oil

Recently, late actor Irrfan Khan’s wife Sutapa Sikdar made an appeal to legalise CBD oil in India. Her appeal followed the criticism of actor Rhea Chakrabaorty after it was reported that she had administered CBD oil, used as a pain reliever for some, to Sushant Singh Rajput when he was alive.

What is CBD oil?

  • CBD oil is an extract from the cannabis plant. The two main active substances in it are cannabidiol or CBD and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The high that is caused by the consumption of cannabis is due to THC.
  • CBD, however, does not cause a “high” or any form of intoxication. CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.

What are the effects of Cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol has effects on the brain, preventing the breakdown of a chemical that aggravates pain and affects mood, and mental function. It can reduce pain and anxiety. It also reduces psychotic symptoms associated with conditions such as schizophrenia as well as epilepsy.

How is CBD oil used?

CBD is extracted from marijuana plants as either an oil or powder. These can be mixed into creams or gels. They can be put into capsules and taken orally, or rubbed on your skin. All topicals (cannabis-infused products) should be applied directly to the site of inflammation or pain to work in a specific area.

Is CBD oil legal in India?

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) outlaws the recreational use of cannabis. The NDPS Act, however, does not apply to the leaves and seeds of cannabis plants. In case the CBD is extracted from the leaves of the cannabis, then technically it is not illegal. CBD oil manufactured under a licence issued by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 can be legally used. However, the use of cannabis as a medicine is not much prevalent in India.

MCQs

1.  Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Atal Tunnel’?

  1. It provides all weather connectivity to Leh and Ladakh throughout the year.
  2. It is the world’s longest highway tunnel at an altitude of 3000 metres.
  3. It is constructed by the Border Roads Organisation.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – B

Explanation – Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated to the nation the World’s longest Highway tunnel – At Tunnel at its south portal in Manali. The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall. The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL). The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours. It has state of the art electromechanical systems including semi transverse ventilation, SCADA controlled fire fighting, illumination and monitoring systems. The Tunnel has ample safety features built into it. It is constructed by the Border Roads Organisation.

2. ‘Section 107’ of the IPC defines the term –

  1. Marital rape
  2. Drugs
  3. Abetment to suicide
  4. None of the above

Answer – C

Explanation – ‘Abetment’ is defined in Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Its ingredients consist of instigating a person or to intentionally aid a person to do or not do something. Similarly, the crime of ‘abetment of suicide’ under Section 306 of the IPC involves instigating or actively aiding a person to take his own life.

3. ‘New Caledonia’ is a territory of which country in the South Pacific Ocean?

  1. United Kingdom
  2. France
  3. United States of America
  4. Australia

Answer – B

Explanation – The French South Pacific territory of New Caledonia will vote in a referendum on independence with voters expected to reject breaking away from France after almost 170 years despite rising support for the move. The referendum is part of a carefully negotiated de-colonisation plan agreed in 1998, known as the Noumea Accord, designed to put an end to a deadly conflict between the mostly pro-independence indigenous Kanak population, and the descendants of European settlers known as “Caldoches”. Violence in the 1980s culminated in a drawn-out hostage crisis in 1988 that saw 19 separatists killed on one side, and six police and special forces on the other.

4. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘K-Missile Family’?

  1. The K-Missile family is codenamed after late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
  2. K-Missile families are Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles which are meant to be launched from the Arihant class of nuclear submarines.
  3. They are only sea based variants that aim to complete the nuclear triad of India.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – A

Explanation – The K family of missiles are primarily Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), which have been indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and are named after Dr Kalam, the centre figure in India’s missile and space programmes who also served as the 11th President of India. The development of these naval platform launched missiles began in the late 1990s as a step towards completing India’s nuclear triad — the capability of launching nuclear weapons from land, sea and air based assets. Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, smaller and stealthier than their land-based counterparts, the Agni series of missiles which are medium and intercontinental range nuclear capable ballistic missiles. While K family are primarily submarine-fired missiles to be fired from India’s Arihant class nuclear powered platforms, the land and air variants of some of its members have also been developed by the DRDO. Shaurya, whose user trial was conducted recently, is a land variant of short range SLBM K-15 Sagarika, which has a range of at least 750 kilometers.

5. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the narcoanalysis test?

  1. In the narcoanalysis test, the physiological responses of a person such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, change in sweat gland activity, blood flow etc. are observed to determine if a person is lying.
  2. A numerical value is assigned to each response to conclude whether the person is telling the truth, is deceiving, or is uncertain.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – D

Explanation – A polygraph test is based on the assumption that physiological responses that are triggered when a person is lying are different from what they would be otherwise. Instruments like cardio-cuffs or sensitive electrodes are attached to the person, and variables such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, change in sweat gland activity, blood flow, etc., are measured as questions are put to them. A numerical value is assigned to each response to conclude whether the person is telling the truth, is deceiving, or is uncertain. Narcoanalysis, by contrast, involves the injection of a drug, sodium pentothal, which induces a hypnotic or sedated state in which the subject’s imagination is neutralised, and they are expected to divulge information that is true. The drug, referred to as “truth serum” in this context, was used in larger doses as anaesthesia during surgery, and is said to have been used during World War II for intelligence operations.

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