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Space Debris


GS Paper III


Context: Due to an increase in rocket launches and payloads as well as anti-satellite missile tests and collisions, space debris, particularly in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), is becoming a critical issue. ISRO has completed a controlled re-entry for the decommissioned Megha-Tropiques-1(MT1) on March 7, 2023.

ISRO’s controlled re-entry of the decommission:

The decommissioned Megha-Tropiques-1 (MT1) satellite underwent a controlled re-entry with success thanks to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

To investigate clouds in tropical parts of the world, MT1 was launched more than ten years ago.

Given that the satellite had reached the end of its useful life, ISRO brought it down safely in order to lessen the amount of space trash in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and the hazards that may come with it.

Space debris:

Any human-made object in orbit around the Earth that is no longer usable is referred to as space trash. These can include components from spacecraft, rocket stages, and other things that have been abandoned or left in space after completing their missions.

Little paint flakes and bolts to bigger objects like satellites and retired rocket bodies can all be considered space trash.

More than 26,000 objects bigger than 10 cm are now in orbit around the Earth, in addition to a vast number of smaller particles that are too tiny to be monitored.

Surge in Space Debris:

Growing payloads: Since private firms like SpaceX deployed hundreds of satellites to give Internet connectivity, the problem of space trash has become significant due to the recent increase in rocket launches and the number of payloads carried.

Information on broken-up rubbish The total number of satellites in orbit has surpassed 10,000, including both operational and inactive spacecraft that are still orbiting the Earth, while the amount of space debris fragments is rapidly approaching the 14,000-mark.

More difficulty arises from smaller debris: While satellite launches are to blame for the increase in rocket bodies in Earth’s orbit, collisions and anti-satellite (ASAT) missile testing are the main causes of fragmented debris. The fragmented garbage presents a greater obstacle because it is difficult to monitor particles smaller than 10 centimetres.

Countries responsible:
  • Russia: Close to 35% originated from the Soviet Union/Russia,
  • US: 31% from the U.S.,
  • China: 29% from China, over 2,700 pieces of debris from a Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007, marked as the single worst contamination of space in history, are still in orbit.
  • India: India’s contribution is 0.5%.
  • India added to the problem in 2019 by testing an ASAT missile which targeted a live satellite in LEO which resulted in 400 pieces of orbital debris
  • While all the trackable debris from India’s test have re-entered Earth in subsequent years, over 50 pieces from a break-up event of the 4th stage of PSLV-C3 in 2001 are still in orbit.
The cost of avoiding collision:

High cost: Although debris has the potential to cause serious accidents, avoiding collisions comes at a high cost.

For instance, the ISS was forced to perform two of these collision avoidance manoeuvres in 2022 because of the dangers posed by the debris left behind after Russia’s ASAT test in 2021.

Challenges: These activities are expensive since they include hours of observation, gasoline for mobility, and data loss because equipment is switched off during such operations.

India’s efforts:

India performed 21 of these adjustments for its satellites in 2022, which is a record high for the nation.

Additionally in 2021, ISRO kept a tight eye on 3,148 geostationary orbit (GEO) events and 4,382 LEO events where trash or other space objects approached within a few hundred kilometres of India’s space assets.


Tiny pieces of trash in orbit around the Earth threaten space assets, thus the nations urgently need to take responsibility. The bar is set high by India’s ongoing efforts towards controlled decommissioning.

Source: The Hindu


Tourism Potential in Border States


GS Paper III


Context: Due to accessibility issues and isolation, India’s border states have enormous tourist potential that has mostly gone unrealized. The government has declared intentions to open towns along the northern border to visitors as part of the Vibrant Villages Programme and has made extraordinary efforts to improve border infrastructure. To guarantee sustainable growth, it is required to establish the necessary infrastructure, promote centres of civilian presence, and perform feasibility studies in order to promote tourism in these regions.

What is Vibrant Villages Programme?

Boost village infrastructure along China-India border: A government effort known as “Vibrant Villages” aims to develop the infrastructure and open up employment possibilities in the communities located along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

Overview: In order to renovate 633 villages spread over five states—Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Ladakh—a sizeable amount of money—Rs. 4,800 crore—has been allocated as part of the initiative. Residential and tourism centres will be built as part of the concept.

The program’s goals are to improve the living standards of those who live in border regions and the security situation along the LAC with China.

The Vibrant Villages initiative attempts to mirror the amenities found in communities throughout the LAC in border regions by building better facilities including schools, 24 hour power, and additional 4G communications towers.

The Vibrant Villages initiative is a component of a larger plan by the Indian government to strengthen border security with China. An essential step in raising the standard of life for those who live in border regions and enhancing the security situation along the LAC with China is investing in infrastructure development and job opportunities.

The concept is modelled after the measures used by the Chinese military and civilian authorities to establish permanent population settlements along the border on their side of the LAC.

Tourism potential in Border areas:

Frequent motorcycle adventures for the general public should be planned in conjunction with India’s top motorbike producers. Small, experienced teams might work with the military and the Indian Mountaineering Federation to study places like the Saser Kangri massif for climbing trips.

Areas around Pangong Lake:
  • Photographers and birdwatchers will love the region around Pangong Lake and Chushul. There are wetlands and a robust Kiang population in the Changthang wildlife refuge.
  • Sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists alike is Lhari Peak.
  • Several hot springs in the Demchok region are well-known for their use as naturopathic treatments.
  • Tsaga, Koyul, and Hanle, three surrounding settlements, can also be further developed.
  • The Tso Moriri lake region can enhance tourism, with a focus on house stays in particular.
Mana Pass and Niti Valley in Uttarakhand:

It is one of the highest vehicle-accessible passes in the whole planet.

The venerated Badrinath shrine is close by, and the mythological hamlet of Mana, which is thought to be the entrance to heaven, is situated close to well-known locations like Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers.

Although skiing aficionados may take advantage of the local slopes, tourists can enjoy sailing on the Deo Tal Lake near Mana. Mountaineering adventures are also perfect in the Nilang-Jadang valley, where Mount Kamet and other summits may be found.

Tourism Potential in Sikkim:
  • The area around Doka La in Sikkim is prime for tourism.
  • Nearby places include Pedong, Nathang Valley, Zuluk, Kupup, Baba Harbhajan Temple, and the Yak Gold Course, the world’s highest golf course.
  • Guided trips, such as treks up to Batang La, might be a place to start.
Bum La Pass in Arunachal Pradesh:

The Bum La Pass in Arunachal Pradesh is already a well-known tourist destination in the eastern sector.

Up to Zero Point, where border troops interact with Chinese officials, there is potential to increase the number of tourists visiting the area.

The memorial honouring Subedar (Baba) Joginder Singh, who was posthumously bestowed the Param Vir Chakra for displaying exceptional valour in the combat near Tongpen La during the India-China conflict in 1962, ought to receive publicity.

The Pangateng and Sangetsar lakes nearby are beautiful.

International visitors may visit Tawang and the interior of the State on expeditions similar to NIMAS’ Winter Bailey Hiking Expedition.

What measures should be taken to promote commercial activity in India’s remote border areas?
Transition from Military to Tourism in Remote Areas:
  • Encourage Commercial Activity
  • Prioritize Tourism
  • Build Infrastructure for Tourism
Developing Border Areas for Sustainable Growth:
  • Establish Civilian Hubs and Home Stays
  • Allocate Border Area Development Programme Funds
  • Install Vital Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy Sources

Conducted feasibility assessments before to executing tourism projects are equally vital to guarantee sustainability as building border regions for security. The Himalayan belt is harmed by unauthorised development, thus it is important to support sustainable infrastructure that boosts the local economy.

Source: The Hindu


Meeting India’s ‘Carbon Sink’ target


GS Paper III


Context: As part of the Paris Climate Accord, India has pledged to decrease its carbon emissions and enhance its carbon sink. The Agreement, which limits global warming to far below 2°C, is a legally binding international agreement signed by 196 parties, including India.

What is a carbon sink?

A carbon sink is a place, either man-made or natural, where carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is absorbed and stored.

It might be an artificial system like carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, or it can be a natural ecosystem like forests, seas, or soil.

Carbon sinks aid in lowering atmospheric CO2 levels and reducing the harmful consequences of climate change.

Methods of Carbon Sinks:

There are two types of carbon sinks:

(A) Natural Carbon Sinks: Ecosystems like this take up and store carbon from the atmosphere naturally. Natural carbon sinks that are most prevalent include:

Forests: During photosynthesis, trees take up CO2 and store it in their roots, trunks, and branches.

Oceans: CO2 from the atmosphere is taken up by the ocean, where it dissolves and produces carbonic acid.

Soil: Organic materials, such as the remains of dead plants and animals, can be used by microbes in soil to store carbon.

(B) Artificial Carbon Sinks: These are man-made technological solutions for removing and storing atmospheric carbon. The most typical man-made carbon sinks are:

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): With the use of CCS technology, CO2 emissions from industrial activities like power plants are captured and stored underground.

Direct Air Capture (DAC): DAC technology immediately absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and either stores it underground or utilises it for other reasons.

India’s carbon sink target:
  • By 2030, India has promised to increase its carbon sink by 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
  • Afforestation, reforestation, and other modifications in land use will be used to achieve this.
  • As of 2017, India had already attained 24.6% of its goal for carbon sinks.
  • This was mostly because to afforestation and tree-planting initiatives like the National Afforestation Project and the Green India Mission.
Challenges in meeting India’s carbon sink target:

It is challenging to assess the success of afforestation and reforestation efforts due to a lack of precise data on the size and condition of India’s forests.

The efficiency of carbon sinks may be diminished by the conversion of natural forests into monoculture plantations with reduced carbon sequestration capacity.

Deforestation and the loss of carbon sinks may result from the strain on land for agriculture and other types of development.

Programs for regeneration and afforestation need substantial money, which might be difficult for India.

Attempts to reach India’s carbon sink objectives may be hampered by a lack of understanding among the general public and policymakers on the significance of carbon sinks and the necessity for their maintenance and restoration.

  • In order to lessen the effects of climate change, India must increase its carbon sink.
  • To assure the success of afforestation and reforestation operations and to solve the issues India’s forests are experiencing, more efforts are required.

Source: The Hindu


India-Germany Relations


GS Paper III


Context: Through bilateral discussions and cooperation, India and Germany are strengthening their connection, with Germany expressing interest in being a significant partner in India’s defence, commerce, and clean energy. The recent trip to India by German Chancellor Scholz emphasises the significance of India-German collaboration in creating a new international system.

India-Germany Relations: Background

Independence fight: Subhas Chandra Bose, a well-known Indian independence activist, launched a concerted effort to win India’s freedom from British by enlisting the Axis countries’ military support. The Indische Legion, which was primarily composed of Indian prisoners of war, was established to act as a liberating army for British-ruled India.

India backed East and West Germany’s reunification in 1990 and continued to maintain diplomatic ties with them. Germany has no strategic presence in Asia, in contrast to France and the United Kingdom.

Previous claims: Germany denounced India for freeing Goa from Portuguese domination in 1961 and backed Salazar’s dictatorship in Portugal against India. It criticised India for getting involved in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. It disapproved of India’s nuclear testing in 1998.

Along with Brazil and Japan, India and Germany have formed the G4 group to coordinate their respective ambitions to join the UNSC as permanent members.

Cultural ties: Germany has helped India by funding educational and cultural initiatives. With the signing of an agreement between the two countries in 1956, Germany assisted in the establishment of the IIT Madras and expanded collaboration, supply of technology, and resources throughout the years to aid in the institution’s expansion.

Trade and investment: India’s top European trading partner is Germany. The eighth-largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in India is from Germany.

What is the significance of Chancellor Scholz’s visit to India?

The visit by Chancellor Scholz to India is noteworthy because it expands on Germany’s expanding political engagement with Asia and emphasises the significance of India as a crucial ally in Germany’s larger Indo-Pacific strategy.

The goal of the trip was to deepen ties of collaboration between Germany and India in sectors including the Indo-Pacific, commerce, clean energy, migration, and defence.

Moreover, it takes on more significance because India has this year’s G-20 presidency and wants to prevent geopolitics from impeding collaboration in the conference.

India-Germany Cooperation: Opportunities

India may look to Germany as a key defence partner as it strives to wean itself off its reliance on Russian military might. The creation of military hardware jointly by the two nations and knowledge transfers have been explored, and a contract for $5.2 billion in which Germany and India would jointly produce six conventional submarines may be in the works.

Germany is India’s top commercial partner in the European Union, and the two countries have close economic connections. With its position as the economic engine of Europe and its reliance on exports, Germany is likewise concerned in the stability of supply chains and trade routes between Asia and Europe.

India is cited as a crucial partner in Germany’s overarching plan for the Indo-Pacific region. As part of this approach, Germany has increased its political outreach to Asia, notably India.

Both parties work together in international venues, as seen by Germany’s invitation to Mr. Modi to attend the G-7 summit last year and his participation in the G-4 group advocating for UN Security Council reform.

An essential step towards increasing strategic participation in the area is a recent agreement on triangular collaboration between Germany, India, and third-country development initiatives.

To improve security and defence cooperation, the first France-India-Germany military exercise drill is scheduled to take place in 2024.

India-Germany Cooperation: Challenges

Germany is concerned with maintaining peace in the Indo-Pacific area to promote trade and economic development, whereas India is more worried about territorial disputes with its neighbour China.

Germany and China have close economic links, making a clean break from China challenging. Germany will find it difficult to reconcile its economic and security objectives as a result.

To effectively work on defence initiatives, India and Germany must overcome their disparate defence capabilities and agendas.

Especially in light of Germany’s ambitions to increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific region, forging deeper ties with India may present hurdles due to Germany’s colonial past and role in World War II.


New Delhi’s relations with Berlin might be crucial in establishing a new global order in the face of geopolitical upheavals and multipolarity. Regarding the possibility for a greater level of cooperation, notably in the defence industry, there are high hopes on both sides. To build the required trust and align the interests, though, will take time and work.

Source: Indian Express


India to send 20,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar


GS Paper II


Context: India intends to use Iran’s Chabahar port to export 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.

UN World Food Programme:

Leading humanitarian organisation the WFP aims to enhance nutrition and food security in impoverished and conflict-affected areas while also providing food aid in times of need.

It is a component of the United Nations organisation and was founded in 1961.

Governments, non-governmental organisations, and individual contributors provide all of the WFP’s funding voluntarily.

Every year, the organisation helps more than 80 million individuals in almost 80 different nations.

In times of disaster, the WFP provides food and other necessities while also helping communities develop their capacity for resilience and long-term food security.

India’s Assistance to Afghanistan:
  • For many years, India has been supplying Afghanistan with food and medical supplies as part of its humanitarian assistance and support.
  • The most recent wheat supply is a component of India’s ongoing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
About Chabahar Port:

In 2016, India and Iran agreed to spend $8 billion in the Chabahar Special Economic Zone’s businesses and port.

A transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia is being built at the port.

Afghanistan and Iran are connected by a 240 kilometre road that India has previously constructed.

All of this was supposed to deliver goods to the ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, releasing Kabul from its reliance on Pakistan for international travel.

By the 7,200-kilometer multimodal North-South Transport Corridor, India would have access to Afghanistan as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Europe (INSTC).

India’s strategic vision for Chabahar:

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the prime minister at the time, signed the initial agreement for Chabahar in 2003 with three goals in mind:

The construction of India’s first offshore port and demonstrating Indian infrastructural capability in the Gulf.

Develop a long-term, sustainable marine trade route and avoid trading through Pakistan given the difficult relations with India’s neighbor.

To provide a different land route to Afghanistan, with whom India has improved relations following the Taliban’s collapse in 2001.

The Zaranj-Delaram Highway was subsequently built in the south of Afghanistan by the administration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In 2009, the Karzai administration would get assistance in connecting the commercial route from the Iranian border to the principal commerce routes to Herat and Kabul.

The agreement to establish Chabahar port and the trilateral agreement for commerce through Chabahar were signed by Prime Minister Modi and President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan in Tehran in 2016.

Commencement of operations:

The port has handled 215 vessels, 16,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), and four million tonnes of bulk and general cargo since the India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) authority gained control of the operations of the port in 2018.

Why is it gaining importance?

With China’s Belt and Road Initiative expanding in the area over the past few years, a fourth strategic goal for the Chabahar route has emerged.

For future commerce, the government wants to provide Central Asia an alternative route through Iran to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Why is the Chabahar dream taking so long to realise?

India’s pursuit of Chabahar has encountered several geopolitical obstacles, with Iran’s relations with western nations, particularly the United States, being the largest challenge.

The Chabahar project has been placed on hold over the years when western sanctions on Iran have risen.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was created in 2015 as a consequence of the nuclear negotiations, has made it simpler to build on the Chabahar port.

By withdrawing from the JCPOA and enacting additional sanctions against trading with Iran in 2018, the Trump administration put an end to India’s intentions.

Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, India severed connections with Afghanistan as well, ending the humanitarian supplies of wheat and pulses that had been sent to Kabul via Chabahar.

This year, when India resumed providing wheat help, it bargained with Pakistan to send the grain by land to Afghanistan.

Source: Indian Express


Facts for Prelims

Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) Project:

In order to deploy satellite-based technology for real-time train tracking, Indian Railways and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have inked a memorandum of understanding.

The system will be used to deliver precise real-time information on train movement and position across the nation.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), a satellite-based GPS system developed by ISRO, would be used by the system to locate trains.

To deliver real-time information on train movements, the system will also make use of other cutting-edge technology, including satellite photography and geo-fencing.

Mid-section updates are provided by RTIS every 30 seconds.

RTIS-enabled locomotives and trains may now be tracked more closely by the Train Control without any operator input.

It enables passengers to view a train’s current position or operational condition on their smartphone.

The technology will aid in enhancing the effectiveness and security of Indian train operations.

It will deliver precise and up-to-date information on train movements, reducing delays and enhancing scheduling.

The system’s real-time information on train status and position will also contribute to improving the overall passenger experience.

Indian Railways intends to employ the technology for further purposes, such as keeping track on the condition of trains and their individual parts.

The collaboration with ISRO is a component of Indian Railways’ bigger digital transformation programme, which aims to use technology to boost train operations’ effectiveness and security.


International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA):

The International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) has been suggested by India with five years of assistance and a $100 million financing commitment.

The seven main big cats—the tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar, and cheetah—will be protected and conserved as a result of the proposed mega-global coalition.

97 “range” countries, which include the areas where these large cats live naturally, as well as other interested countries, international organisations, etc., will be able to join the alliance.

The alliance’s goal is to create a forum for the communication of knowledge on best practises, resource development, capacity building, research and development, awareness raising, etc., related to the preservation and protection of big cats.

The organization’s primary initiatives will include lobbying, partnerships, a knowledge e-portal, capacity building, ecotourism, collaborations amongst expert groups, and financial resource mobilisation.

After the first five years, India will provide $100 million in “total grant assistance” for IBCA.

It is anticipated that it will be supported by membership fees, donations from bilateral and multilateral organisations, and money from the private sector.

a Secretariat, a Council with a minimum of seven but a maximum of fifteen member nations chosen by the General Assembly for a five-year term.

The IBCA Secretary General will be appointed by the General Assembly for a defined period on the advice of the Council.

India has been effective in preserving tigers, as evidenced by the rise in its tiger population from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,967 in 2019.

The effectiveness of India’s tiger conservation programme has been credited to actions including habitat restoration, anti-poaching initiatives, and community involvement.


Moon to get its own Time Zone:

For the moon, the European Space Agency is developing a global timekeeping system.

The lunar day and night cycle lasts around 29.5 days on Earth.

Hence, if people were to reside on the Moon, they would need to create their own method of timekeeping.

Presently, Universal Time Coordinated (UTC), which is the same timekeeping system used on Earth, is utilised to measure the time on the Moon.

It would be challenging to utilise UTC for routine tasks on the Moon due to the Moon’s longer day than the Earth’s.

Humans have long been interested in exploring and inhabiting the Moon, the only natural satellite of the Earth.

There is a resurgence of interest in lunar exploration and habitation as a result of recent advances in space technology.

A lunar time zone based on the Moon’s day and night cycle has been offered as a solution to this problem by scientists and scholars.

It would be simpler for lunar dwellers to keep track of time and plan their activities as a result.

It would be simpler for scientists and researchers to carry out experiments and gather data on the Moon if there were a lunar time zone.

Also, it would aid in avoiding misunderstandings and mistakes that can result from employing separate timekeeping systems on Earth and the Moon.

Atomic clocks are used to properly measure time on Earth, but synchronising time on the moon is challenging due to the moon’s quicker clocks, which acquire around 56 microseconds (or millionths of a second) every day.

Since that the topography and illumination conditions differ significantly over the surface of the Moon, it would likewise be challenging to establish an uniform time zone for the whole Moon.

Any timekeeping device on the Moon would also have to be able to take into account the Moon’s erratic rotation and movement.

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