Table of Contents
1. EMERGENCE OF NEW ISLAND IN JAPAN
TAG: GS 1: GEOGRAPHY
THE CONTEXT: A new island has recently emerged within the vicinity of Japan’s Ogasawara island chain, after the eruption of an underwater volcano in late October 2023.
- The island, as of now, is approximately 100 meters in diameter.
- It was formed through phreatomagmatic eruptions, where magma reacts with seawater, leading to explosive releases of ash and steam.
- The eruption started on October 21, 2023, around 1 km off the coastline of Iwoto Island (formerly known as Iwo Jima).
- The eruptions continued for around 10 days, resulting in the accumulation of volcanic material on the shallow seabed, eventually reaching above the sea’s surface.
- Iwoto Island has historical significance as it witnessed intense battles during World War II.
VOLCANIC ACTIVITY IN THE REGION:
- The Ogasawara island chain, also known as the Bonin Islands, is described as a volcanic arc comprising over 30 islands and islets, with some remaining volcanically active.
- There exists a previous instance of island formation in 2013 resulting from the eruption of another underwater volcano in the same region.
- Verification by Experts:
- Associate Professor from Tokyo University’s earthquake research institute verified the presence of phreatomagmatic eruptions near Iwoto.
- Smoke and ash from the eruptions reached heights exceeding 50 meters, observed every few minutes during the eruptions.
- The new island is seen as an indication of renewed magmatic activity in the area.
ISLAND’S FUTURE AND COMPOSITION:
- There is uncertainty about the longevity of the newly formed island due to its composition of delicate volcanic rocks.
- Experts suggest that the island’s existence may be brief if it is susceptible to erosion by oceanic waves and currents.
- The island’s longevity could be extended if it gets covered by more durable substances like lava, depending on the potential resumption of volcanic activity.
2. FAILURE OF ALERT SYSTEMS IN EARTHQUAKE
TAG: GS 1: GEOGRAPHY
THE CONTEXT: The earthquakes in Nepal (6.4 magnitude) and its aftershock in Delhi (5.6 magnitude) triggered the need for emergency alerts in the affected areas.
- The incident highlights the failure of both government and private early alert systems during recent earthquakes in Delhi and surrounding areas.
- The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)’s Cell Broadcast Alert System (CBAS) and Google’s alert system for Android users did not reach many people who experienced the tremors.
NDMA’s Cell Broadcast Alert System (CBAS):
- The CBAS was designed to send out mass alerts during natural disasters.
- It was tested in recent weeks but did not function during the earthquakes.
- There is a lack of explanation from the NDMA regarding why the system did not alert residents in areas where tremors were felt.
Google’s Earthquake Early Warning System:
- Google’s Earthquake Early Warning system was designed for Android users in India.
- It also did not send alerts in the national capital despite tremors being felt.
- Google spokesperson mentioned that alerts were sent in areas around the India-Nepal border where the shaking was strongest.
Intensity Threshold for Alerts:
- Google’s alert system reportedly warns users only if the shaking in their area is expected to cross a value of 3.5 on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale.
- It has been suggested that the tremors in Delhi may have been in the lower end of these MMI values, leading to the system not sending alerts to everyone who felt shaking.
RESPONSE FROM NDMA AND TECHNICAL ISSUES:
- The NDMA did not respond to queries about why the CBAS did not function as expected.
- The seismo.gov.in website operated by the Ministry of Earth Sciences’s National Centre for Seismology reportedly crashed moments after the tremors.
- It was potentially due to the sudden surge in traffic seeking information.
User Experience and Reliability:
- The raises concerns about the reliability and effectiveness of emergency alert systems during critical situations such as earthquakes.
- Both government and private systems are criticized for their failure to reach people who experienced the tremors.
- The need for improvement in the effectiveness of emergency communication during natural disasters has been emphasized.
3. INVISIBITY OF SATURN’S RING
TAG: GS 3: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
THE CONTEXT: Saturn’s rings will just be invisible from Earth in 2025 and will reappear soon thereafter.
REASONS OF THE INVISIBILITY OF THE STAURN’S RING:
SATURN’S TILT AND RINGS ALIGNMENT:
- Both Earth and Saturn have tilted axes of rotation. Saturn’s axis has a tilt of 26.7 degrees.
- The enormous ring system of Saturn is also tilted to the plane of Saturn’s orbit.
- As Saturn revolves around the Sun, it appears to nod up and down when observed from Earth.
- Every 13 to 15 years, the edge of Saturn’s rings aligns directly with Earth due to this nodding motion.
OPTICAL ILLUSION AND TEMPORARY DISAPPEARANCE:
- Saturn’s rings are very thin, often just tens of meters thick.
- When the edge of the rings aligns directly with Earth, they reflect very little light, making them difficult to see.
- This alignment creates an optical illusion, making the rings essentially invisible from Earth.
- In March 2025, Saturn’s rings will not be visible because they will be perfectly aligned with Earth’s line of sight.
- The rings will gradually become visible again as Saturn continues its orbit around the Sun.
POTENTIAL FUTURE DISAPPEARANCE OF SATURN’S RINGS:
- 2018 NASA report stated that Saturn might lose its rings completely in the next 300 million years or sooner.
- The mechanism proposed is “ring rain,” where the rings are being pulled into Saturn by its gravity.
- Ice particles in the rings, under the influence of Saturn’s magnetic field, fall into the planet.
- This process is estimated to drain an amount of water products equivalent to filling an Olympic-sized swimming pool from Saturn’s rings in half an hour.
- The rings are considered temporary, with an estimated age of less than 100 million years, while Saturn itself is around four billion years old.
REFLECTION ON OTHER PLANETS:
- If Saturn’s rings are temporary, it raises the possibility that we might have missed out on seeing giant ring systems of other gas giants like Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, which currently have only thin ringlets.
4. THE BEN GURION CANAL PROJECT
TAG: GS 2: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
THE CONTEXT: Israel’s interest in exploring the economic opportunity presented by the Ben Gurion Canal Project is speculated to be one of the reasons behind its military actions, specifically its efforts to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip. The ides of the Ben Gurion Canal Project is presented as an alternative to the Suez Canal.
THE BEN GURION CANAL PROJECT:
- A canal is being proposed through the Israeli-controlled Negev Desert, named the Ben Gurion Canal Project.
- The canal would connect the Gulf of Aqaba (eastern arm of the Red Sea) to the Eastern Mediterranean coast, offering an alternative to the Suez Canal.
- The idea was first envisioned in the 1960s and resurfaces amid Israel’s push to eliminate Hamas from Gaza.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF SUEZ CANAL:
- The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, revolutionized global maritime trade by connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas, reducing travel distances between Europe and Asia.
- Despite its significance, the Suez Canal faces challenges, including congestion and geopolitical issues surrounding Egypt’s control.
Issues with Suez Canal:
- The Suez Canal is described as the world’s biggest shipping bottleneck, facing congestion despite widening and deepening efforts.
- In March 2021, Ever Given cargo ship blocked the canal, causing significant disruptions and economic losses.
GEOPOLITICAL HISTORY OF THE SUEZ CANAL:
- The historical context of the Suez Crisis is in 1956 when Egypt nationalized the canal, leading to conflict with the UK, France, and Israel.
- The canal played a role in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars and was shut from 1967-75.
Economic Significance of Suez Canal for Egypt:
- The Suez Canal is crucial to Egypt’s economy, generating toll revenue that reached a record $9.4 billion in the 2022-23 fiscal year, accounting for nearly 2% of Egypt’s GDP.
Proposed Ben Gurion Canal Challenges:
- The Ben Gurion Canal Project faces significant challenges, including logistical, political, and funding obstacles.
- The estimated cost of the project is potentially as high as $100 billion, making it more expensive than addressing issues with the Suez Canal.
- The proposed route is over 100 km longer than the Suez Canal, and the terrain limitations could affect its attractiveness to shipping.
- It is highlighted that a canal running through land under constant military threat, either from Hamas rockets or Israeli attacks, poses a significant concern.
- This factor raises doubts about the feasibility and security of the Ben Gurion Canal.
5. BROADCASTING SERVICES (REGULATION) BILL, 2023
TAG: GS 2: POLITY
THE CONTEXT: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has released a draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill for public consultation.
- The bill is intended to replace the existing Cable TV Network Regulations Act, indicating a shift towards a more comprehensive regulatory framework.
Scope of the Proposed Bill:
- The new bill is designed to have a broader scope, extending its governance to various media platforms, including DTH (Direct-to-Home), OTT (Over-the-Top) services, digital media, and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).
- The draft has been released for public consultation, allowing stakeholders and the general public to provide feedback and insights on the proposed legislation.
Ease of Doing Business and Modernization:
- Information and Broadcasting Minister states that the bill is aligned with the government’s “ease of doing business” initiative.
- Described as a pivotal legislation, it aims to modernize the regulatory framework for the broadcasting sector by replacing outdated acts, rules, and guidelines.
Adaptation to Changing Media Landscape:
- The draft bill is said to adapt to the dynamic nature of the media landscape, encompassing emerging technologies such as OTT, Digital Media, DTH, IPTV, etc.
- It is framed to promote technological advancement and service evolution in the broadcasting sector.
- The draft bill introduces key innovations, such as the establishment of ‘Content Evaluation Committees’ for robust self-regulation.
- It transforms the existing ‘Inter-Departmental Committee’ into a broader ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’ to foster inclusive decision-making.
Comprehensive Accessibility Guidelines:
- The proposed Broadcasting Bill includes “comprehensive accessibility guidelines” to cater to differently-abled members of the user community, emphasizing inclusivity.
Call for Stakeholder Input:
- I & B Minister invites stakeholders to provide their insights and feedback on the draft bill.
- This approach emphasizes a collaborative and consultative process in shaping the final legislation.
Towards a More Efficient and Inclusive Broadcasting Ecosystem:
- The draft bill is a significant step towards creating a more efficient, inclusive, and forward-thinking broadcasting ecosystem.
- The release of the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, emphasises the importance of public consultation and stakeholder input in shaping the final legislation.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL:
The Bill comprises of Six Chapters, 48 Sections and three Schedules.
1. Consolidation and Modernization:
- It addresses a long standing need of consolidating and updating the regulatory provisions for various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework.
- This move streamlines the regulatory process, making it more efficient and contemporary.
- It extends its regulatory purview to encompass broadcasting over-the-top (OTT) content and digital news and current affairs currently regulated through IT Act, 2000 and regulations made there under.
2. Contemporary Definitions and Future-Ready Provisions:
- To keep pace with the evolving technologies and services, the bill introduces comprehensive definitions for contemporary broadcasting terms and incorporates provisions for emerging broadcasting technologies.
3. Strengthens the Self-Regulation Regime:
- It enhances self-regulation with the introduction of ‘Content evaluation committees.
- It evolves the existing Inter-Departmental Committee into a more participative and broader ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’.
4. Differentiated Programme Code and Advertisement Code:
- It allows for a differentiated approach to Programme and Advertisement Codes across various services and require self-classification by broadcasters and robust access control measures for restricted content.
5. Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities:
- The bill addresses the specific needs of persons with disabilities by providing for enabling provisions for issue of comprehensive accessibility guidelines.
6. Statutory Penalties and Fines:
- The draft Bill introduces statutory penalties such as: advisory, warning, censure, or monetary penalties, for operators and broadcasters.
- Provision for imprisonment and/or fines remains, but only for very serious offenses, ensuring a balanced approach to regulation.
7. Equitable Penalties:
- Monetary penalties and fines are linked to the financial capacity of the entity, taking into account their investment and turnover to ensure fairness and equity.
8. Infrastructure Sharing, Platform Services and Right of Way:
- The bill also includes provisions for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and carriage of platform services.
- Further, it streamlines the Right of Way section to address relocation and alterations more efficiently and establishes a structured dispute resolution mechanism.