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Prelims Booster

14th October – Prelims Booster

‘Opposition’ of Mars

Due to an event referred to as “opposition”, which takes place every two years and two months, Mars has outshined Jupiter, becoming the third brightest object (moon and Venus are first and second, respectively) in the night sky during the month of October (2020).

While Mars’ closest approach to Earth was on October 6, the opposition will happen on October 13, which will give the planet its “biggest, apparent size of the 2020s”.

What is ‘opposition’?

  • Opposition is the event when the sun, Earth and an outer planet (Mars in this case) are lined up, with the Earth in the middle.
  • The time of opposition is the point when the outer planet is typically also at its closest distance to the Earth for a given year, and because it is close, the planet appears brighter in the sky.
  • An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit, but when it happens when the planet is also closest to the sun, it is also particularly close to the Earth.

When does ‘opposition’ happen?

  • Earth and Mars orbit the sun at different distances (Mars is farther apart from the Sun than Earth and therefore takes longer to complete one lap around the sun).
  • In fact, opposition can happen only for planets that are farther away from the Sun than the Earth. In case of Mars, roughly every two years, the Earth passes between Sun and Mars, this is when the three are arranged in a straight line.
  • Further, as the Earth and Mars orbit the sun, there comes a point when they are on the opposite sides of it, and hence very far apart. At its farthest, Mars is about 400 million km from the Earth.
  • In case of opposition, however, Mars and Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth. In other words, the Earth, Sun and Mars all lie in a straight line, with the Earth in the middle.

Why is it called ‘opposition’?

Because from the perspective on Earth, the Sun and Mars appear to be on the opposite sides of the sky, Mars is said to be in “opposition”. Essentially, opposition is a reference to “opposing the sun” in the sky.

Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act

President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to a Bill passed by the Gujarat Assembly last year, which made some important amendments to The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, a controversial law that is popularly known as the ‘Disturbed Areas Act’.

What is the Disturbed Areas Act?

  • Under the Disturbed Areas Act, a district Collector can notify a particular area of a city or town as a “disturbed area”. This notification is generally done based on the history of communal riots in the area.
  • Following this notification, the transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area can take place only after the Collector expressly signs off on an application made by the buyer and the seller of the property.
  • In the application, the seller has to attach an affidavit stating that she/he has sold the property of her/his free volition, and that she/he has got a fair market price.
  • Violation of the Act’s provisions, that is, if property in a notified disturbed area is transferred without the Collector’s permission, invites imprisonment and a fine. The state government claims it is aiming to check communal polarisation of various parts of the state through the Act.

Why did the government amend the Act?

  • As per the Gujarat government, the Bill to amend the Act was brought in after reports about individuals who had skirted the provisions of the Act by taking advantage of legal loopholes in it. It was argued that this could potentially lead to the communal polarisation of a particular locality.
  • In the earlier version of the Act, the district Collector had to ensure, on the basis of an affidavit by the seller, that she/he had sold the property of her/his own free will, and that she/he had got the fair market price for it.
  • However, there were reports of anti-social elements selling and buying properties after either threatening people or luring them with higher prices, in areas marked as “disturbed”.
  • It was reported that at times, these elements had got transfers done even without the Collector’s prior permission by getting the transfer deed registered under the provisions of The Registration Act, in which the Collector’s prior sanction under The DA Act was not required. This had resulted in clustering or polarisation of localities.

What are the key provisions in the Amended Act?

  • The amended Act gives the Collector more powers to ascertain if there is a likelihood of “polarisation” or “improper clustering” of persons belonging to a particular community, thus disturbing the demographic equilibrium in the area. Also, the state government is now authorised to review a decision taken by the Collector.
  • To check the registration of transfer of properties in disturbed areas without the Collector’s prior approval, the amended Act has a provision to enlarge the scope of the term ‘transfer’, and include transfer of right, title or interest in or over such property in disturbed areas by way of sale, gift, exchange, and lease. To achieve this goal, the Act has amended the Registration Act under which no property in disturbed areas can be registered without prior sanction of the Collector.
  • As per the government, earlier only those areas which had witnessed (communal) riots would be notified as ‘disturbed areas’. However, now, the government can notify any area as ‘disturbed area’ where it sees the possibility of a communal riot, or where it sees the possibility of a particular community’s polarisation.

The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019

As per the ‘Human Cost of Disaster 2000-2019’ report released by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, climate change is largely to blame for a near doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years.

Findings of the report –

  • The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.
  • The figure far outstrips the 4,212 major natural disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999.
  • The sharp increase was largely attributable to a rise in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events like floods, drought and storms, the report said.
  • Extreme heat is proving especially deadly.
  • The report did not touch on biological hazards and disease-related disasters like the coronavirus pandemic.

About UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction –

  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
  • It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.
  • UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18th March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.
  • Sendai Framework is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It is a voluntary and non-binding agreement which recognises that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

Nobel Prize in Economics

U.S. economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson won the Nobel Economics Prize for work on commercial auctions, including for goods and services difficult to sell in traditional ways such as radio frequencies.

Details –

  • The duo was honoured “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”.
  • Mr. Wilson, a professor at Stanford in the U.S., was spotlighted for developing a theory for auctions with a common value, “a value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone”.
  • Mr. Wilson’s work showed why rational bidders tend to bid under their own estimate of the worth due to worries over the “winner’s curse,” or winning the auction but paying too much.
  • Mr. Milgrom, also at Stanford, then came up with a more general theory of auctions, by analysing bidding strategies in different auction forms. While “people have always sold things to the highest bidder,” societies have also had to allocate “ever more complex objects… such as landing slots and radio frequencies.”
  • In response, Milgrom and Wilson invented new formats for auctioning off many interrelated objects simultaneously, on behalf of a seller motivated by broad societal benefit rather than maximal revenue”.

What is ‘auction theory’?

Essentially, it is about how auctions lead to the discovery of the price of a commodity. Auction theory studies how auctions are designed, what rules govern them, how bidders behave and what outcomes are achieved.

Three key variables need to be understood while designing an auction.

  • One is the rules of the auction. Imagine participating in an auction. Your bidding behaviour is likely to differ if the rules stipulate open bids as against closed/sealed bids. The same applies to single bids versus multiple bids, or whether bids are made one after another or everyone bids at the same time.
  • The second variable is the commodity or service being put up for auction. In essence, the question is how does each bidder value an item. This is not always easy to ascertain. In terms of telecom spectrum, it might be easier to peg the right value for each bidder because most bidders are likely to put the spectrum to the same use. This is called the “common” value of an object. But this may not be the case with some other commodities, say a painting. Person A may derive considerably more “private” or personal value — just by looking at it endlessly — than person B. In most auctions, bidders allocate both “common” as well as “private” values to the object being auctioned and this affects their eventual bids.
  • The third variable is uncertainty. For instance, which bidder has what information about the object, or even the value another bidder associates with the object.

Exercise Suraksha Kavach

Agnibaaz Division organised a joint exercise for both Indian Army and Maharashtra Police at Lullanagar Pune recently.

Objective –

  • The aim of the exercise was to harmonise the drills and procedures of both Army and Police for activating anti-terrorist Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) to counter any terrorist actions in Pune.
  • The exercise provided an opportunity for both Army and Police to cooperate, coordinate, coopt and streamline their drills and procedures.

MCQs

1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘opposition’ phenomenon relating to the Mars planet?

  1. It is an event when the Sun, the Earth and Mars are lined up with the Sun in the middle.
  2. It is a point when the Mars planet is farthest away from the Earth.
  3. The event of ‘opposition’ can happen only with planets which are farther away from the Sun than the Earth.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 3 only

Answer – D

Explanation – Opposition is the event when the sun, Earth and an outer planet (Mars in this case) are lined up, with the Earth in the middle. The time of opposition is the point when the outer planet is typically also at its closest distance to the Earth for a given year, and because it is close, the planet appears brighter in the sky. An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit, but when it happens when the planet is also closest to the sun, it is also particularly close to the Earth. Earth and Mars orbit the sun at different distances (Mars is farther apart from the Sun than Earth and therefore takes longer to complete one lap around the sun). In fact, opposition can happen only for planets that are farther away from the Sun than the Earth. In case of Mars, roughly every two years, the Earth passes between Sun and Mars, this is when the three are arranged in a straight line. Further, as the Earth and Mars orbit the sun, there comes a point when they are on the opposite sides of it, and hence very far apart. At its farthest, Mars is about 400 million km from the Earth. In case of opposition, however, Mars and Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth. In other words, the Earth, Sun and Mars all lie in a straight line, with the Earth in the middle.

2. Gujarat’s ‘Disturbed Areas Act’ pertains to

  1. The power to impose curfew by a police officer above the rank of a Superintendent of Police
  2. Dissolution of fundamental rights of citizens with respect to freedom of movement and free speech and expression in a declared area of unrest.
  3. Power of a District Collector to regulate the transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area
  4. None of the above

Answer – C

Explanation – Under the Disturbed Areas Act, a district Collector can notify a particular area of a city or town as a “disturbed area”. This notification is generally done based on the history of communal riots in the area. Following this notification, the transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area can take place only after the Collector expressly signs off on an application made by the buyer and the seller of the property. In the application, the seller has to attach an affidavit stating that she/he has sold the property of her/his free volition, and that she/he has got a fair market price. Violation of the Act’s provisions, that is, if property in a notified disturbed area is transferred without the Collector’s permission, invites imprisonment and a fine. The state government claims it is aiming to check communal polarisation of various parts of the state through the Act.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’?

  1. It was created in the year 2005 after the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  2. It is a part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.

Select the correct codes from below –

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

Answer – B

Explanation – The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields. UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18th March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

4. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Sendai Framework’?

  1. The Sendai Framework is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities of action.
  2. It is a legally binding agreement which recognises the State’s responsibility to reduce disaster risk.

Select the correct codes from below –

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

Answer – A

ExplanationSendai Framework is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It is a voluntary and non-binding agreement which recognises that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

5. ‘Exercise Suraksha Kavach’ is a joint exercise between –

  1. India and Nepal
  2. India and Sri Lanka
  3. India and Bangladesh
  4. None of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – ‘Exercise Suraksha Kavach’ was a joint exercise for both Indian Army and Maharashtra Police at Lullanagar Pune recently. The aim of the exercise was to harmonise the drills and procedures of both Army and Police for activating anti-terrorist Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) to counter any terrorist actions in Pune. The exercise provided an opportunity for both Army and Police to cooperate, coordinate, coopt and streamline their drills and procedures.

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