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Tags: Syllabus: GS1/ Physical Geography, GS 3/Environment 

In News 

• According to a new study, thawing permafrost will likely destabilize thousands of industrial sites and linked contaminated areas in the Arctic as a result of rising global temperatures.

What is Permafrost?

  • Permafrost is essentially any soil that remains frozen — 0 degrees Celsius or below — for at least two consecutive years.
  • Permanently iced ground is common in Arctic regions such as Greenland, Alaska (United States), Canada, Russia, and Eastern Europe.
  • It is made up of “a mixture of soil, rocks, and sand held together by ice.” The soil and glaciers in permafrost remain permanently frozen.”
  • However, although permafrost regions are permanently frozen, they are not always blanketed in snow.



  • Countries and corporations began constructing infrastructure on the Arctic’s permafrost. • During the Cold War, the region became a hub for resource extraction and military activities.
  • This resulted in the accumulation of industrial and toxic refuse on or in the permafrost, which was never removed.
  • However, peril looms as the earth continues to warm.
  • As the climate of the Earth increases, the permafrost is melting.
  • This results in the permafrost’s ice melting, leaving behind water and soil.



  • Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm nearly four times faster than the rest of the planet.
  • Toxic substances would be released throughout the region, posing a threat to the health of dependent species and humans.
  • Permafrost thawing can have devastating effects on the planet. Release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is one of its most harmful effects.
  • Furthermore, “Plant matter frozen in permafrost does not decompose; however, when permafrost thaws, microbes within the deceased plant matter begin to decompose it, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.The thawing of permafrost would release tens of thousands of viruses and bacteria that had been latent.


  • Due to the dangers associated with permafrost, scientists are keeping a close eye on it. • Large regions of permafrost that would be challenging to study from the ground are observed via satellite.
  • NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission orbits the Earth to acquire data on soil moisture.
  • SMAP’s measurements will assist scientists in determining where and how rapidly permafrost is thawing.

Source: IE

Mera Swachh Shehar, Meri LIFE

Tags: Syllabus: GS 2/Government Policies and Interventions 

In News

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recently launched the “Meri LIFE, Meri Swachh Shehar” campaign.

About Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar

  • The nationwide campaign aims to encourage cities to establish ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (RRR) Centres, one-stop collection centers, for citizens to donate clothes, shoes, old books, toys, and used plastic to be reused or recycled.
  • After collection, these items will be given to various stakeholders for refurbishment and reuse, or they will be transformed into new products, advancing the circular economy vision of the government.


  • The 3Rs are the foundation of the ‘refuse to Wealth’ initiative and have enabled numerous craftsmen, recyclers, Self Help Groups, entrepreneurs, startups, etc. to recycle refuse into a variety of products.
  • The campaign will strengthen citizens’ resolve to reduce, reuse, and recycle in accordance with SBM-U 2.0, as well as promote Mission LiFE’s goal of adopting sustainable daily habits for environmental preservation and conservation.
Mission LiFE

  • The Prime Minister introduced the concept of LiFE ((Lifestyle for Environment)) at COP26 in Glasgow on 1 November 2021.
  • Mission LiFE is envisioned as a global mass movement led by India that will encourage individual and communal environmental protection and preservation efforts.
  • Mission LiFE seeks to protect and preserve the environment and promote a pro-planet shift in behavior that can be inculcated through everyday actions.

Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0

  • It has introduced Used Water Management as a newly funded component for towns with a population of less than 1 lakh.
  • This demonstrates the Mission’s commitment to improving the overall Used Water Management ecosystem in Urban India by ensuring that no untreated used water is discharged into water bodies (as per the Water+ Protocol).

Source: PIB

Scheme for Amrit Bharat Stations

Tags: Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & intervention,

In News

• The Indian Railways intends to overhaul the station signage system in order to improve the traveling convenience of passengers, based on new design principles.

Under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, up to 1,275 stations have been selected.


• The uniform signage at all stations across the nation will ensure that passengers (including the elderly, women, children, and divyangjan) have access to a consistent and straightforward system.

• The Indian Railways has more stations than any other rail network in the globe. It is essential that every passenger has easy access to facilities through standard signage. The current signage system is inconsistent and insufficient.

Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

  • About: 
  • The Ministry of Railways has developed a new policy for the modernization of stations dubbed the ‘Amrit Bharat Station’ initiative.
  • The Rani Kamalapati, Gandhinagar Capital, and Sir M.Visvesvaraya Terminal railway stations have been inaugurated.
  • Based on the lessons learned from these three stations, the 1275 stations selected under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme are located in key cities and pilgrimage sites.
  • Objective:
  • • The program will prioritize providing secure, comfortable, and clean rail facilities.
  • The objective of the plan is to develop master plans for railroad stations and progressively implement them in order to improve the facilities.
  • Key Features Proposed: 
  • roof top plaza provisions,
  • extended platforms,
  • ballastless tracks,
  • and 5G connectivity.

Source: PIB

2006 Forest Rights Act

Tags: Syllabus: GS2/ Indian Polity & Constitution, GS3/Environment

In News

• Recently, a two-day convention on forest rights was conducted in Delhi, during which State governments and the federal government were criticized for failing to implement the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

What is the Forest Rights Act, 2006?

  • Background
  • During the colonial period, the British diverted the nation’s abundant forest wealth to meet their economic requirements. Statutes such as the Indian Forest Act of 1927 stipulated a procedure for the settlement of rights, but it was rarely utilized.
  • As a consequence, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, who had previously lived within the forests in harmony with the environment and the ecosystem, continued to live within the forests in tenurial insecurity, a condition that persisted even after independence, as they were marginalized.
  • 1988’s National Forest Policy acknowledged the symbiotic relationship between forests and forest-dependent communities. The policy called for the participation of indigenous people in forest protection, regeneration, and development.
  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006 was enacted to defend the marginalized socioeconomic class of citizens and to strike a balance between their right to the environment and their right to life and livelihood.
  • Objective:
  • To rectify the historical wrongs committed against forest-dwelling communities.
  • To ensure the land tenure, means of subsistence, and food security of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest residents.
  • Strengthen the forest conservation regime by incorporating the responsibilities and authority of Forest Rights holders for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity, and preservation of ecological balance.
  • To empower and bolster local self-government.
  • Highlights of the Act:
  • Recognition of Rights: It recognizes the rights of forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources, upon which these communities relied for a variety of requirements, including sustenance, shelter, and other sociocultural needs.
  • The Act includes Rights of Self-cultivation and Habitation, which are typically regarded as Individual rights; and Community Rights such as Grazing, Fishing, and Access to Water Bodies in Forests, Habitat Rights for PVTGs, Traditional Seasonal Resource Access of Nomadic and Pastoral Communities, Access to Biodiversity, Community Right to Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge, Recognition of Traditional Customary Rights, and Right to Protect, Regenerate, Conserve, or Restore or Restore or Restore
  • Allocation of Forest Land It also provides rights to the allocation of forest land for developmental purposes to meet the community’s fundamental infrastructure requirements. Alongside the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Settlement Act of 2013, the 2013 FRA protects the tribal population from eviction without rehabilitation and settlement.
  • Gram Sabha’s Role: The Act imposes upon the Gram Sabha and rights holders the responsibility of conservation and protection of biodiversity, wildlife, forests, adjoining catchment areas, water sources, and other ecologically sensitive areas, as well as the prohibition of any destructive practices affecting these resources or the cultural and natural heritage of the tribals. The Gram Sabha is also a highly empowered body under the Act, allowing the tribal population to have a voice in the governance of their land.


• The Act enables forest residents to access and utilize forest resources in accordance with their customary practices in order to protect, conserve, and manage forests.

• It protects forest dwellers from unlawful evictions and provides access to education, health, nutrition, and infrastructure, among other fundamental development facilities.

• For the first time, the Forest Rights Act recognizes and protects Community Rights, or rights over common property resources of communities, in addition to their individual property rights.

• The right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge concerning biodiversity and cultural diversity.

• the rights of displaced communities;

• the rights over development activities.

Challenges in Implementation

  • Systemic issues: Implementation of the Act is not coordinated between the tribal, revenue, and forest departments.
  • There are numerous laws that conflict with the FRA, and in order to operationalize the FRA on the ground, adjustments in rules and other laws, such as in the case of ownership of minor forest products, are necessary. It necessitates the modification of numerous state laws, excise laws, Panchayat laws, etc.
  • The absence of recognition of Community Forest Resource rights is another significant issue with the FRA besides the expanded role of Gram Sabha. The forest department is vehemently opposed to recognizing CFR Rights and sharing authority with the Gram Sabha for the conservation and management of forest resources.
  • Rejection of claims: A significant proportion of claims are rejected; prospective or limited rights are acknowledged. The recognized area has been drastically reduced in comparison to the area that was improperly claimed.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has instructed state governments in a letter that, in the event of a denial, claimants must be informed of the reasons for the denial and given the opportunity to appeal; however, this is rarely the case.

Way Ahead

  • Procedure for Recognition of Rights: State governments must ensure that, upon notification from the Forest Rights Committee, officials from the Forest and Revenue Departments are present during the verification of claims and supporting evidence at the site.
  • Any technology, such as satellite imagery, should be used to supplement evidence submitted by a claimant for consideration of his claim, and not as the sole form of evidence.  
  • Minor Forest Produce (MFP): The monopoly of Forest Corporations in the trade of MFP in many states, particularly in the case of high-value MFP such as tendu patta, is contrary to the intent of the Act and should be eliminated.
  • Community Rights: The District Level Committee should ensure that Gram Sabhas have access to the records of prior recorded other traditional community rights, and that claims for recognition of such age-old rights are not denied except for valid reasons.
  • Community Forest Resource Rights: The State Government should ensure that the forest rights pertaining to the protection, regeneration, conservation, or management of any community forest resource, which forest dwellers may have traditionally been protecting and conserving for sustainable use, are recognized and titles are issued in all villages.
  • Awareness-Raising: For effective implementation of the Act, each state should develop suitable communication and training materials in the local language.

Source: TH


Mission DefSpace and Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)

Tags: Syllabus: GS 3 / Security

In News

• Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) reached a significant milestone in May 2023 when it signed its 250th contract – the first under Mission DefSpace – and 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract in New Delhi.

Mission DefSpace

  • History: Mission In October 2022, the Prime Minister launched DefSpace during the DefExpo in Gandhinagar.
  • Objectives: It seeks to cultivate the Indian Private Space industry by posing challenges at each stage of a space mission, from mission planning to satellite data analytics.
  • Challenges: It was introduced with 75 pertinent Defence Space Challenges for end users. The five categories, Launch System, Satellite System, Communication & Payload System, Ground System, and Software System, provide a comprehensive 3600 overview of space.
  • Private Industries, such as Startups, MSMEs, and Individual Innovators, are eligible to apply.



  • Mission DefSpace’s first iDEX contract was exchanged for the development of cubesats.
  • CubeSats are a type of nanosatellite research spacecraft that are modular, inexpensive, simple to manufacture, integrate, and launch, and a crucial component of launch-on-demand capabilities.
  • CubeSats are constructed with conventional dimensions (Units or “U”) of 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters. They can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size and weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lb) per U on average.



• The 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract was awarded for the creation of a lightweight ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit)-based satellite communication system.

• Context: Prime Minister Modi unveiled 75 Challenge statements for the Indian industry as part of the ‘SPRINT’ initiative at the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’ in July 2022.

As part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the initiative seeks to induct at least 75 technologies/products into the Indian Navy by August 2023.

Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)

• Context: iDEX is the Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) flagship initiative, inaugurated by the Prime Minister in 2018.

• Objective: to encourage start-ups to contribute to the defense sector and develop the country’s defense and aerospace infrastructure.

• Implementing agency: Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), established under the Department of Defense Production, is implementing iDEX.

Source: TH

The ML model that drives ChatGPT is called a transformer

Tags: Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & Related Issues, Science & Technology

In Context

• Chat GPT, a novel artificial intelligence technology, is generating discussion in recent days.

About the Chat GPT

  • About:
  • OpenAI introduced ChatGPT as a chatbot in November 2022.
  • Chat-GPT is a variant of the language paradigm GPT (Generative Pretrained Transformer).
  • OpenAI, in a revolutionary move, has also developed a user interface that allows the general public to directly experiment with it.
  • Core functions:
  • Similar to other language models, Chat-GPT is intended to generate text that resembles human language based on the input it receives.
  • It has been trained on a large text dataset and can generate a wide variety of responses to a variety of queries and prompts.
  • This assists them in imitating speech patterns while delivering encyclopedic knowledge.
  • This essentially indicates that it is a computer program that can comprehend and “speak” to us in a manner that closely resembles human conversation.
  • A highly intelligent and knowledgeable human who knows approximately 175 billion pieces of information and can recall them almost instantaneously.
  • Other functions:
  • Although a chatbot’s primary function is to simulate human conversationalists, ChatGPT is versatile.
  • It can write and debug computer programs, compose music, teleplays, fairy tales, and student essays, and answer test questions (sometimes at a higher level than the average human test-taker, depending on the test).

About ‘transformer’

  • The capital ‘T’ in ChatGPT stands for ‘transformer’.
  • A transformer is a neural network with two components.
  • The first component is a ‘encoder’ that receives the input sentence in the source language (for example, English); o The second component is a ‘decoder’ that produces the translated sentence in the target language (Hindi).
  • Functions:
  • The encoder converts each word in the source sentence into an abstract numerical form that captures the meaning of the word within the context of the sentence and records this information in a memory bank.


  • Similar to how a person would write or speak, the decoder generates one word at a time by referring to what has already been generated and by searching the memory bank for the correct word.
  • Both of these processes utilize the ‘concentration’ mechanism.
  • Transformers have also gained popularity in the field of computer vision.
  • By cutting an image into tiny square patches and aligning them, similar to how words are aligned in a sentence, a transformer can outperform convolutional neural networks (CNNs) after training on large amounts of data.
  • Transformer models are currently the most effective method for image classification, object detection and segmentation, and action recognition, amongst other tasks.
    • Significance:
    • The ability of Transformers to consume anything has been utilized to construct joint vision-and-language models that enable users to search for images (e.g. Google Image Search), describe them, and even answer questions about them.
    • Over the past year, transformer models have grown in size and trained on more data. Large language models (LLMs) refer to these colossi when they are trained on written text.
    • ChatGPT employs hundreds of billions of parameters, while GPT-4 employs hundreds of trillions.
    • While these models are trained on simple tasks, such as filling in blanks or predicting the next word, they excel at answering queries, creating stories, summarizing documents, writing code, and even solving step-by-step mathematical word problems. Transformers are the foundation of generative models that generate realistic images and sounds. Transformers are a potent and universal model due to their utility in a variety of domains.
    • Concerns
    • The scientific community has yet to determine how to rigorously evaluate these models.
    • There are instances of “hallucination” in which models make confident but false claims.
What is ‘attention’?

  • Attention in ML enables a model to learn the relative importance of various inputs.
  • In the translation example, attention permits the model to select or evaluate words from the memory bank when determining the next word to generate.
  • During the description of an image, attention enables models to focus on the image’s pertinent features when generating the next word.

Machine learning

  • Machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so.
  • Machine learning algorithms use historical data as input to predict new output values.
  • Applications:
  • Recommendation engines are a common use case for machine learning.
  • Other popular uses include fraud detection, spam filtering, malware threat detection, business process automation (BPA) and Predictive maintenance.

Way ahead

  • Urgent action is required to address societal concerns arising from their use, such as data privacy and attribution of creative works.
  • However, optimism is not misplaced given the tremendous progress, ongoing efforts to establish guidelines for their use, and efforts to leverage these models for positive outcomes (e.g., in healthcare, education, and agriculture).
  • Anticipating possible futures requires engagement with the ChatGPT-identified opportunities and challenges.
  • The current need is to map out and plan for the changes that will be necessary in the education system, labor regulations, and new products that will inevitably emerge as a result.

Source: IE

The AePS (Aadhaar-enabled Payment System)

Tags: Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

In News

• According to reports, fraudsters are circumventing the need for OTPs by using compromised biometric information to siphon money from users’ bank accounts.

What is an Aadhaar-enabled Payment System?

  • It is a bank-led model that enables Aadhaar-authenticated online financial transactions at Point-of-Sale (PoS) and Micro ATMs via the business correspondent of any bank.
  • National Payments Corporation of India creates it.
  • In this scenario, the only inputs necessary for a customer to complete a transaction are: o Bank Name o Aadhaar Number o Fingerprint obtained during enrollment.

Financial Services Provided by AePS:

  • Cash Deposit
  • Cash Withdrawal
  • Balance Enquiry
  • Mini Statement
  • Aadhaar to Aadhaar Fund Transfer
  • The model eliminates the need for one-time passwords, bank account information, and other financial data.
  • An Aadhaar cardholder with a linked bank account can use the AePS facility to conduct transactions efficiently and swiftly.
  • Only the Aadhaar-linked bank account will be debited for the transaction amount.

How is biometric information leaked?

• Photocopies and digital copies of Aadhaar numbers are readily available, and criminals are using Aadhaar-enabled payment systems to compromise user data. In the past, fraudsters have utilized silicone to fool devices into initiating transactions.

• Biometric data is a component of identity. In contrast to a password, it cannot be altered. When cybercriminals gain access to biometric data — fingerprints, retina, facial, or vocal — they obtain information that can be permanently associated with an individual’s identity.


How to secure Aadhaar biometric information?

  • Share your biometric information sparingly. If someone requests your biometric information, determine if an alternate form of identification is acceptable.
  • Users are also advised to secure their Aadhaar information by visiting the UIDAI website or using the mobile app.
  • This will ensure that biometric information cannot be used to initiate financial transactions, even if compromised. Aadhaar can be activated when biometric authentication is necessary.

What can be done in case of a financial scam using Aadhaar?

• In the event of any suspicious activity on their bank accounts, users should immediately secure their Aadhaar biometric information and notify their banks and the appropriate authorities. A timely report can ensure that any fraudulently transferred funds are returned to the victim.

• According to the RBI, a customer is entitled to zero culpability when an unauthorised transaction occurs and the customer notifies the bank within three business days of receiving communication from the bank about the unauthorised transaction.

Source: TH