1. National Clean Air Programme


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to modify the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which proposes 20-30% reduction of air pollution by 2024.

Main Points


  • launched by the MoEFCC in January 2019.
  • It is the first-ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
  • It seeks to cut the concentration of coarse (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) and fine particles (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or 5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
  • Non-attainment cities: These are those that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years.

NGT’s View:

  • The enforcement of the ‘Sustainable Development’ principle and ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ require stern measures to be adopted to give effect to the mandate of international obligations related to environmental quality, for which the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 was enacted.
  • Public Trust Doctrine: It states that the sovereign, or state, holds the trust of people to manage the designated resources for the benefit of the people.
  • The Right to Clean Air stood recognized as part of Right to Life and failure to address air pollution is a denial of Right to Life under Article 21.

NGT’s Directions:

  • The timeline to reduce air pollution by 20-30% by 2024 needs to be
  • The target of reduction needs to be
  • It suggested the Ministry to review and action in terms of shift to e-vehicles and CNG vehicles, intensifying public transport system, mechanical cleaning of roads, enhancement of public parking facilities, improvement in fuel quality, and traffic management.
  • It directed the state pollution control boards to ensure the assessment and installation of the requisite number of real-time online continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems within six months.
  • It also directed an expert team of the Central Pollution Control Board to design a model for source apportionment and carrying capacity assessment within two months which may be replicated for all the non-attainment cities.
  • Source Apportionment: It is the practice of deriving information about pollution sources and the amount they contribute to ambient air pollution levels.
  • Carrying Capacity: The concept of “carrying capacity” addresses the question as to how many people can be permitted into any area without the risk of degrading the environment there.

National Green Tribunal

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • Original Jurisdiction: It is related to matters of “substantial question relating to the environment” and “damage to the environment due to specific activity”.
  • It follows principles of Natural Justice.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.


  1. Star Formation in Dwarf Galaxies


Recently, astronomers from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) have found out the reasons behind intense star formation in some dwarf galaxies.

  • ARIES is an autonomous institute of Department of Science & Technology (DST).

Main Points


  • Amidst the billions of galaxies in the universe, a large number are tiny ones – 100 times less massive than the Milky-way galaxy.
  • Most of these are called dwarf galaxies and form stars at a much slower rate than the massive ones.
  • Dwarf galaxies are the most abundant type of galaxy in the universe but are difficult to detect due to their low luminosity, low mass and small
  • However, some dwarf galaxies have been seen forming new stars at a mass-normalized rate e. 10-100 times more than that of the Milky-way galaxy.

Reasons Found Out by the Aries Astronomers:

Disturbed Hydrogen Distribution:

  • Star formation at a high rate requires very high density of Hydrogen in the galaxies. Multiple nuclei and high concentration of ionized hydrogen have been found in the central region of such galaxies.
  • Hydrogen in these dwarf galaxies is found to be irregular and sometimes not moving in well-defined orbits i.e. non-symmetric distribution of hydrogen.

Galaxy-Galaxy Collision:

  • Some Hydrogen around these galaxies is also detected in forms of isolated clouds, plumes, and tails as if some other galaxy recently has collided or brushed away with these galaxies, and gas is scattered as debris around the galaxies.

Telescopes Used for the Study:

  • Scientists used the 3-meter Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) near Nainital (Uttarakhand) and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Maharashtra.

Star Formation in Galaxies

  • Stars are born within the clouds of dust and gas scattered throughout most galaxies.
  • Turbulence deep within these clouds gives rise to knots with sufficient mass that the gas and dust can begin to collapse under its own gravitational attraction.
  • As the cloud collapses, the material at the center begins to heat up. Known as a protostar, it is this hot core that one day becomes a star.
  • Not all of this material ends up as part of a star — the remaining dust can become planets, asteroids, or comets or may remain as dust.
  • Stars are fueled by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen to form helium deep in their interiors.


  1. Early Galaxy Detected by AstroSat


A team of Scientists from the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) has discovered one of the earliest galaxies called AUDFs01 using AstroSat.

  • The galaxy is located in the Hubble Extreme Deep field, 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth.
  • The team comprises scientists from India, Switzerland, France, USA, Japan and Netherlands.

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) :

  • It is a portion of space that contains approximately 5,500 galaxies, the oldest of which are seen as they were 13.2 billion years ago, recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope for over 10 years.
  • Hubble Space Telescope :
  • The HST or Hubble is a space telescope that was launched into Low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation. It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes till date.

Main Points

  • The galaxy was discovered using UltraViolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) on Astrosat. AstroSat detected Extreme Ultraviolet light from the galaxy.
  • Earlier, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST), which is significantly larger than UVIT, did not detect any UV emission from this galaxy because it is too faint.
  • AstroSat/UVIT was able to achieve this unique feat because the background noise in the UVIT detector is much less than the ones on HST.
  • These observations lasted for more than 28 hours in October 2016, but it took nearly two years since then to carefully analyse the data to ascertain that the emission is indeed from the galaxy.


  • It is a multi-wavelength astronomy mission on an IRS-class (Indian Remote Sensing-Class) satellite in a 650-km, near-equatorial orbit.
  • It was launched by the Indian launch vehicle PSLV from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota on September 28, 2015 by ISRO.
  • It is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously with its five unique X-ray and ultraviolet telescopes working in tandem.
  • One of the unique features of AstroSat mission is that it enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.
  • The Ground Command and Control Centre for ASTROSAT is located at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bangalore, India.

Detection of an Early Galaxy

  • Before the Big Bang, the universe consisted only of particles like electrons and protons. As the universe started to cool, the protons and neutrons began combining into ionized atoms of hydrogen (and eventually some helium).
  • Creation of neutral atoms allowed light to pass through the universe and thus, made it transparent, but it was still dark due to absence of any stars (dark ages).
  • A few hundred million years later, the dark age ended when the first stars and galaxies formed.
  • The creation of stars and galaxies released an immense amount of energy that re-ionized neutral atoms and emitted UV lights. These early UV lights are detected for detecting the earliest astronomical objects.
  • The probability that a fraction of extreme-UV photons escape the host galaxy and are caught by a telescope on Earth is almost zero. That’s why they are detected using telescopes placed in space like HST and AstroSat.

Way Forward

  • The detection of UV emission from AUDFs01 can help reveal details about the Big Bang, the end of dark ages and the formation of early stars and galaxies and thus give a boost to the ongoing cosmological research.


  1. Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in PubAd 2020


Recently, 702 Districts have registered and participated in the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration for 2020.

  • The government had launched PM’s Awards portal in July 2020 to register and participate for the Award.
  • The Award will be conferred by the Prime Minister on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas -31 October 2020 at the Statue of Unity, Gujarat.

Main Points

PM’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration:

  • It was constituted in 2006 by the Government of India to acknowledge, recognize and reward the extraordinary and innovative work done by districts and organizations of the Central and State Governments.
  • The award consists of a trophy, scroll and an incentive of Rs. 10 lakh to the awarded district or organization to be utilized for implementation of project/ programme or bridging resource gaps in any area of public welfare.


  • The award programme was restructured in 2014 for recognizing the performance of District Collectors in Priority Programs, Innovations and Aspirational Districts.
  • It has been restructured again in 2020, to recognize the contribution of civil servants in strengthening of:
  • Inclusive Development through Credit Flow to the Priority Sector. Promoting people’s movements through Swachh Bharat Mission in the District.
  • Improving Service Delivery and Redressal of Public Grievances.
  • The restructuring also seeks to recognize the efforts of District level officials in the Namami Gange Program and to recognize the performance of District Collectors towards economic development of the District.
  • The award for the Aspirational Districts Program has been revamped to reward the District having the best overall progress under the Scheme following 2 years of implementation. Through restructuring, the scope of the awards has been expanded to identify areas of overall outcome-oriented performance in the districts across sectors.


  1. China Launches Warship for Pakistan


Recently, China has launched first of the four advanced naval warships it is building for Pakistan.

  • This is the first ship of Type-054 class frigate. The Type-054A is roughly the same size as the Indian Navy’s existing Talwar class of frigates, purchased from Russia

Main Points

Comparing with Talwar Class:

  • Size and Dimensions: The Type-054A and Talwar class displace approximately 4,000 tonnes and have a length of around 130 metres.
  • Stealth Level: Both classes, designed the 1990s, have features to reduce their radar and infra-red signatures.

Missile System:

  • The Type-054A uses a surface-to-air missile system called the HQ-16, which experts claim is derived from the Russian Shtil missile, already in service on the Talwar class frigates.
  • Type-054A has an advantage over the existing Talwar class ships as the former uses a vertical launch system (VLS).
  • The vertical launch system allows the launch of multiple missiles simultaneously.
  • Talwar class frigates use an older ‘single-arm’ launcher that can fire only one missile at a time.
  • The Talwar class ships use the supersonic Klub and Brahmos missiles, and are regarded to have better anti-ship capabilities than the Type-054A class.
  • Radar: The HQ-16, which relies on ‘passive’ radar to detect targets, is considered inferior to the new Indo-Israeli Barak-8 missile.
  • The relatively small size of the Type-054AP frigates means there is little scope to mount heavier radars and longer-range anti-aircraft or anti-ship weapons.
  • While the new Type-054AP frigates will be the most capable ships in the Pakistan Navy, they are not expected to significantly alter the balance of power in the region, given Pakistan’s limitations in airborne anti-submarine capabilities.


  1. INS Viraat


Indian Naval Ship (INS) Viraat will be scrapped at a ship breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat soon. The decision to scrap INS Viraat was taken in 2019.

Main Points

  • INS Viraat holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest serving warship of the world.
  • Viraat, a Centaur class aircraft carrier weighing 27,800 tonnes, served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes for 25 years from November 1959 to April 1984.
  • It was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987 after refurbishment.
  • The Centaur class of aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy was the last of the light fleet carrier designs started during the closing years of World War II (1939-45).
  • Viraat played a major role in Operation Jupiter in 1989 during the Sri Lankan Peacekeeping operation. It also saw action during Op Parakram in 2001-2002, post the terrorist attack on Parliament.
  • The indigenous Advance Light Helicopters ‘Dhruv’ and the Russian twin rotor Kamov-31 have also operated from the ship.
  • It was decommissioned in March 2017, and the Navy had been incurring expenditure since then on its upkeep, such as the provision of electricity and water, and repairs.
  • It was also taking up space in the crowded Naval dockyard.
  • There had been demands from various quarters to not let Viraat go the way of Vikrant, India’s first carrier that was eventually scrapped.
  • In 2014, INS Vikrant, which played a role in the 1971 war with Pakistan was broken down in Mumbai.
  • However, several attempts by the Navy to preserve the carrier, by converting it into a museum or by other means, failed.
  • The vessel could not be handed over to any state government because of lack of “self-sustaining financially complete” proposal to preserve it. The state governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh had planned to preserve the aircraft carrier (in the form of a museum).
  • India is currently doing with only the 44,500-tonne INS Vikramaditya, the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov inducted from Russia in November 2013.
  • The trials of the first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-I, to be named as INS Vikrant) being built at the Cochin Shipyard have been derailed by the
  • The government’s approvals for a third carrier, the 65,000-tonne IAC-II (tentatively christened INS Vishal) has been pending since May 2015.
  • India needs aircraft carriers to secure the seas of the Indo-Pacific, to maintain peace, secure trade routes, and provide security to the region.


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