- CURRENT AFFAIRS – 21/11/2023
- Steering road safety in India back onto the right lane
- The role of the Governor in legislature
- The Bangladesh garment workers unrest
- How free cancer care alone won’t help the fight against cancer in India
- China keen on extending China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to Sri Lanka
- Energy burstin distantgalaxydisturbed ionosphere
CURRENT AFFAIRS – 21/11/2023
Steering road safety in India back onto the right lane
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
India’s extensive road network, integral to its modernization and economic progress, presents both opportunities and challenges.
- Despite being a crucial element of connectivity and growth, the country grapples with a severe road safety crisis.
- Annually, an estimated 3, 00,000 people lose their lives on Indian roads, equivalent to more than 34 deaths every hour.
- Additionally, the number of life-altering injuries surpasses this figure significantly.
- The economic toll of road crashes is estimated to be between 5% and 7% of India’s GDP.
- Global Context:
- While road safety is a worldwide concern, India stands out with almost one in every four road deaths occurring within its borders.
- The global death toll from road crashes is 1.3 million annually.
- World Day of Remembrance:
- As the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on November 19 was observed globally, the stark figures served as a call to action.
- Immediate and evidence-based interventions are deemed crucial to address the silent but deadly pandemic of road accidents.
- Addressing this crisis requires strategic investments in road safety measures, political will at various governance levels, and a collective mindset shift.
- The year 2022 was identified as the most fatal for traffic crashes in India, emphasizing the urgency of intervention.
- Focus Areas for Improved Safety:
- Seatbelt Enforcement:
- Priority should be given to enforcing seatbelt use for both drivers and passengers, with statistics indicating significant reductions in the risk of death and serious injuries.
- Helmet Use:
- Strict enforcement of helmet use for motorcyclists and their pillion passengers is essential, with correct helmet usage demonstrating a considerable reduction in fatal injuries.
- Vulnerable Road Users:
- Measures should specifically address the safety of vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and two-wheeler riders, who constitute a significant portion of road fatalities.
- Speeding and Drink-Driving:
- Stringent measures against speeding and zero tolerance for drink-driving are crucial, as highlighted by a government report attributing 70% of road crash deaths to speeding.
- Infrastructure Enhancement:
- Improving road infrastructure is imperative, considering that many roads are still not in a safe condition, despite recent government programs leading to improvements.
- Public Awareness Campaigns:
- Large-scale public awareness campaigns, such as the UN’s #MakeASafetyStatement, involving international celebrities, can play a vital role in fostering behavioral changes.
- Global Initiatives and National Measures:
- Global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, target reducing global deaths and injuries from road crashes.
- In India, steps have been taken, including the implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, and enhanced data collection to understand crash patterns better.
- UN Standard Helmet Initiative:
- The Special Envoy has collaborated with helmet producers to introduce a low-cost ventilated United Nations standard helmet, priced at under $20.
- This initiative aims to enhance access to safe helmets, particularly in India.
- Technological Solutions in Traffic Management:
- Major cities, including the capital New Delhi, are embracing modern technologies, such as intelligent traffic management systems, to regulate traffic effectively and minimize the potential for collisions.
- Private sector companies are actively seeking solutions to improve road safety, recognizing the need for a whole-of-society effort.
- Collaboration between the public and private sectors is deemed crucial for success in addressing road safety challenges.
- Survival chances in a road crash can significantly vary based on the state of residence and access to high-quality emergency care services and proper after-care.
- Addressing regional disparities is a key aspect of a comprehensive road safety strategy.
- Adopting International Best Practices:
- To address the complexity of road safety challenges, there is a call to look at international best practices and successes and adapt them to India’s specific needs and circumstances.
- Learning from successful models globally can contribute to more effective road safety measures.
- Safe-System Approach:
- Advocating for a comprehensive safe-system approach, aligned with the UN’s Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, is highlighted.
- The approach emphasizes a holistic strategy to enhance road safety.
- Implementation of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019:
- Full implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 is considered a crucial step in addressing road safety challenges.
- The act aims to bring about regulatory changes to improve road safety measures.
- Seatbelt Enforcement:
About UN’s Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030
- The “UN’s Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030” refers to a global initiative aimed at addressing the challenges and improving road safety worldwide.
- The United Nations launched the Decade of Action for Road Safety in 2011, and the second phase, spanning from 2021 to 2030, continues the efforts to enhance road safety on a global scale.
- The initiative promotes a comprehensive and integrated approach to road safety, recognizing the multi-dimensional nature of the challenge.
- This involves addressing various factors, including infrastructure, legislation, enforcement, and public awareness.
- The primary objective is to significantly reduce the number of road traffic deaths and injuries globally.
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
- The Second Decade aligns with the United Nations’ broader agenda, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Target 3.6 of the SDGs specifically aims to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.
About Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019
- The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 was enacted to address and improve various aspects of road safety, traffic management, and transportation.
- The Act, which came into effect on September 1, 2019, introduced several amendments to the existing Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.
- Key provisions:
- Heavier Penalties:
- The Act significantly increased fines for various traffic offenses to act as a deterrent.
- Higher penalties were imposed for violations such as overspeeding, drunk driving, not wearing seatbelts or helmets, and driving without a valid license.
- National Road Safety Board:
- The creation of a National Road Safety Board was mandated to advise the central and state governments on road safety issues and strategies.
- Good Samaritan Protection:
- To encourage people to assist accident victims, the Act included provisions to protect “Good Samaritans” from legal hassles when providing emergency assistance to accident victims.
- Motor Vehicle Accident Fund:
- A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund was established to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
- Stricter Drunk Driving Laws:
- The Act introduced more stringent measures against drunk driving, including higher fines and the possibility of imprisonment for repeated offenses.
- Juvenile Offenders:
- Parents or guardians of juvenile offenders could be held responsible, and the juvenile could be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act for any offenses committed.
- Traffic Violation Point System:
- The Act proposed the implementation of a point system to track and penalize repeat traffic offenders.
- Accumulation of a certain number of points could lead to the suspension of the driver’s license.
- Regulation of Aggregators:
- The Act included provisions to regulate ride-hailing platforms and aggregators, establishing guidelines for their operations.
- National Transportation Policy:
- The Act required the central government to formulate a National Transportation Policy to address various issues related to transportation and mobility.
- Heavier Penalties:
The role of the Governor in legislature
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
Tamil Nadu Governor R. N. Ravi’s decision to ‘withhold’ assent for certain Bills has raised concerns, prompting the Supreme Court to express dissatisfaction over similar delays by Governors in other states.
- Understanding the constitutional provisions regarding the Governor’s role in the legislative process is crucial in this context.
- Constitutional Provisions (Article 200):
- Article 200 of the Constitution outlines the options available to the Governor when a Bill, passed by a State Legislature, is presented for assent.
- The Governor can either give assent, withhold assent (reject the Bill), return the Bill for reconsideration, or reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.
- Governor’s Discretion in Withholding Assent:
- As per Supreme Court rulings, the Governor does not exercise discretionary powers independently while withholding assent.
- Instead, they act in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministers.
- Withholding assent may occur in the case of a Private Members’ Bill that the council of ministers does not wish to become law.
- Scenarios for Withholding Assent:
- In rare instances, if a Private Members’ Bill is passed but not desired by the council of ministers, they may advise the Governor to withhold assent.
- If the incumbent government falls or resigns before the Governor’s assent, the new council may also advise withholding assent.
- Return of Bills for Reconsideration:
- The return of a Bill to the State Legislature for reconsideration is also based on ministerial advice.
- Instances of Governors exercising discretion in returning Bills, such as the case of the Tamil Nadu Governor on the online gambling prohibition Bill, have been observed.
- However, if the Bill is passed again by the State Legislature, the Governor must assent to it.
- Reservation of Bills:
- Certain Bills, such as those reducing High Court powers, must be reserved for the President’s consideration.
- Bills on the concurrent list conflicting with Union laws may also be reserved based on ministerial advice.
- Governor discretion in reservation is rare and usually involves cases where the Bill’s provisions may contravene the Constitution, necessitating Presidential consideration.
- Absence of Time Limit:
- The Constitution does not specify a time limit within which the Governor must make a decision on a presented Bill, allowing for flexibility in the decision-making process.
- Constitutional Necessity for a State Executive Head:
- While acknowledging the constitutional necessity for a nominal head of the State executive, akin to the President at the Union level, the politicization issue needs to be addressed to ensure that the Governor’s office does not undermine the powers of elected state governments.
- Balancing Federalism and National Unity:
- Recognizing the Governor as an appointee of the Centre, responsible for maintaining national unity and integrity, underscores the delicate balance needed to uphold federalism.
- It is crucial to ensure that the Governor’s role does not impede the autonomy of state governments.
- Proposed Constitutional Reforms:
- Consultation with Chief Ministers:
- Consideration of a constitutional amendment mandating that Chief Ministers be consulted before the appointment of Governors.
- This ensures a more collaborative and cooperative approach in the selection process.
- Impeachment by State Legislature:
- Adoption of the Punchhi Commission’s recommendation, allowing for the removal of Governors through impeachment by the State Legislature.
- This empowers State legislatures to address situations where a Governor acts uncooperatively.
- Expected Outcomes:
- Enacting these amendments could foster responsible cooperation between Central and State Governments, mitigating conflicts and ensuring that gubernatorial appointments and functions align with the principles of federalism.
- The proposed reforms aim to strike a balance between the constitutional requirements and the autonomy of elected state governments.
- Consultation with Chief Ministers:
About the position of the Governor
- The Governor is the constitutional head of a state in India and is appointed by the President of India.
- The Governor of a state in India is not considered an employee of the Central government, despite being appointed by the President.
- The Supreme Court, in a 1979 ruling, affirmed that the office of the Governor is an independent constitutional position and is not subject to the control or subordination of the Central government.
- Constitutional Provisions:
- Article 153:
- This article establishes the office of the Governor as the executive head of the State.
- Article 154:
- It states that the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution.
- Article 155:
- This article deals with the appointment of the Governor.
- It states that the Governor shall be appointed by the President of India by warrant under his hand and seal.
- Article 156:
- It outlines the term of office of the Governor.
- The Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President, and his term can be cut short by the President at any time.
- Article 157:
- This article discusses the eligibility for reappointment of a Governor.
- A person who has been the Governor of a state for two or more consecutive terms shall not be eligible for reappointment as Governor of that state or any other state for any subsequent term.
- Article 158:
- It mentions the conditions of the Governor’s office.
- The Governor shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature of any state specified in the First Schedule, and if a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature of any such state, shall be deemed to have vacated his office on the day he enters upon his office as Governor.
- Article 159:
- This article deals with the oath or affirmation by the Governor.
- Before entering upon his office, the Governor shall make and subscribe to the oath or affirmation of allegiance and the oath or affirmation for the due discharge of his duties.
- Article 160:
- It allows the President to appoint the same person as the Governor for two or more states.
- Article 161:
- This article confers the power of granting pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
- Article 162:
- It defines the extent of the executive power of a state.
- The executive power of the state shall extend to the matters with respect to which the Legislature of the state has the power to make laws.
- Article 163:
- There shall be a council of ministers with the chief minister as the head to aid and advise the governor.
- The primary purpose of this council is to assist and advise the Governor in carrying out their functions.
- However, the Governor has the discretion to exercise their functions independently in specific situations where it is mandated.
- Article 153:
The Bangladesh garment workers unrest
(General Studies- Paper II)
(Source : TH)
Since late October, workers in Bangladesh’s Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector, comprising 4.4 million employees, have been demanding a threefold increase in their legally mandated minimum wage from 8,000 Bangladeshi Taka (BDT) to 23,000 taka.
- Significance of Fast Fashion to Bangladesh’s Economy
- Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest exporter of fast fashion (RMG) after China, contributing to 85% of the country’s $55 billion export earnings in 2022.
- The RMG sector holds a global market share of nearly 8%, with major markets in the U.S., the U.K., Europe, and Canada.
- Top importers include H&M, Levi’s, and Zara.
- The RMG sector, with over 4,000 manufacturing facilities, consists mainly of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) employing rural women.
- Credited with significantly reducing poverty from 44.2% in 1991 to 5% in 2022, based on the international poverty line of $2.15 a day.
- Reasons Behind Worker Protests
- Minimum wages for the fast fashion sector were set at BDT 8,000 in 2018, and the workers demand a hike to 23,000 taka due to inflation, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and volatile oil prices from the Russia-Ukraine war.
- The Bangladesh Bank reports a 9.37% 12-month monthly average inflation in October 2023, contributing to higher living costs for citizens.
- The proposed more than 50% raise in minimum wage by Sheikh Hasina’s government was rejected by garment worker unions, insisting on their original demand.
- Economists suggest a minimum monthly living wage of BDT 33,368 ($302) for garment workers.
- Economic Challenges and Government Measures
- Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves have halved from $48 billion in 2021 to less than $20 billion in mid-October 2023.
- The government has implemented austerity measures, including import restrictions on luxury goods, affecting the RMG sector’s functioning.
- The sector cites price rises, import curbs, and power cuts as reasons for their inability to meet the proposed wage increase.
- Role of Brand Importers in RMG Sector Crisis
- Big brands, historically criticized for driving down procurement costs, are facing scrutiny for not significantly contributing to workers’ rights or investing in supplier SMEs’ infrastructure.
- Changes, such as verifying work conditions and wages, have occurred, but meaningful contributions from big brands were limited until recent shifts, influenced by the global movement to decarbonize supply chains to combat climate change.
- Initiatives like ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation)
- The ACT coalition, including brands like H&M and ESPIRIT, pledged support for a living wage in Bangladesh’s RMG sector through conditions that achieve an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement supported by brands’ purchasing practices.
- Details about the specific changes in “purchasing practices” have not been clarified.
- Relationship Between RMG Sector and Carbon Emissions
- The fashion industry contributes 2-8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a major contributor to the climate crisis.
- In Bangladesh, the textile and RMG sector account for over a quarter of the country’s total emissions, with an annual growth rate of more than 8% CO2 emissions in the past two decades.
- Challenges in the sector include old and poorly maintained machines, poor energy management, and barriers to investing in energy efficiency.
- Despite global recognition of gaps in financing, technology, and governance, the response of top global fashion brands to the RMG sector crisis and decarbonizing their supply chains is deemed insufficient.
How free cancer care alone won’t help the fight against cancer in India
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
By 2040, it is estimated that 20 lakh (2 million) people per year will be diagnosed with cancer in India.
- Cancer is already the third leading cause of death in India and is projected to surpass heart disease and infections in the coming years.
- Financial Challenges in Cancer Treatment
- Cancer treatment incurs the highest expenses for patients in India, leading to significant financial strain.
- Despite initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (PMJAY), which provides health insurance of Rs 5 lakh per family per year, cancer patients face financial devastation.
- A June 2023 study revealed that even among patients covered by PMJAY or other state-sponsored health insurance, cancer treatment resulted in catastrophic health expenses for over 80% and impoverishment for over 60% of individuals.
- Expenses in the Private Sector
- The major financial burden arises from seeking cancer care in the private healthcare sector, as opposed to the government’s free cancer care services.
- Out-of-pocket expenditures (OOPE) include direct medical costs (consultation fees, medicines, tests), direct non-medical costs (transport, accommodation, food), and indirect costs (loss of productive hours and income).
- Challenges Faced by Patients
- Delays in essential services within government hospitals, such as blood investigations taking 10 days to report, can lead patients to opt for private services with faster results.
- Waiting times for essential diagnostic procedures, like MRI scans in Delhi hospitals, can extend up to two years, prompting patients to seek private alternatives despite financial constraints.
- Delays in cancer treatment worsen the disease’s progression, and patients often struggle to secure early treatment dates in overburdened government hospitals.
- The wait for essential treatments, such as radiation therapy, can extend for months, leading some patients to opt for private centers, incurring substantial financial costs.
- Financial Fallout on Breadwinners
- The financial impact of cancer is exacerbated when it affects the primary breadwinner of the family.
- In an ongoing study, nine out of ten patients with oral cancer either lost their jobs or ceased working after diagnosis, with many being the sole earners for their families.
- Cancer patients face a sevenfold higher risk of unemployment within five years after diagnosis compared to the general population.
- Challenges for Caregivers
- Caregivers also experience financial challenges, often losing their jobs or facing employment difficulties due to extended periods spent supporting cancer patients.
- Caregivers may have to relocate to urban centers where cancer care is concentrated, leading to additional financial burdens.
- Costs of Travel and Accommodation
- Since cancer care is centralized in major cities, patients from rural areas, constituting 60-70% of India’s population, face the challenge of traveling long distances for treatment.
- Accommodation costs in these cities, along with expenses for food and travel, significantly contribute to the financial burden on cancer patients and their families.
- A 2021 study revealed that costs related to accommodation, food, and travel were nearly 15 times the amount spent directly on medical care for patients seeking treatment at JIPMER Puducherry.
- Challenges with Concessions and Local Transport
- While the Indian Railways and Air India provide concessions on travel tickets for cancer patients, ongoing studies indicate that local transport expenses remain a significant concern.
- Patients and caregivers often face challenges in affording local transport, resorting to borrowing money from neighbours to cover travel costs for treatment.
- Government Efforts to Address Financial Challenges:
- Transportation Support:
- Some state governments have made efforts to address financial challenges faced by cancer patients.
- For instance, Haryana and Kerala provide concessions on public bus tickets for cancer patients, easing the burden of travel expenses.
- Financial Support Programs:
- The Haryana government introduced free transport for cancer patients and one caregiver in public buses in 2012.
- Delhi launched the ArogyaKosh scheme in 2017, offering residents with an annual income less than Rs 3 lakh certain free tests, like ultrasound and CT scans, in private health centers.
- Kerala, Haryana, and Tripura have introduced a ‘cancer pension’ to financially assist advanced-stage cancer patients.
- Comprehensive Support at Specific Centers:
- Initiatives like providing financial support for travel, free accommodation, and food at Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Center in Assam aim to improve compliance with care and reduce financial burdens.
- Challenges in Scheme Awareness:
- Despite these efforts, challenges persist, such as a lack of awareness about government schemes.
- In Delhi, 93% of people seeking care in government hospitals were found to be unaware of the ArogyaKosh scheme, reducing its effectiveness.
- Need for Permanent Solutions:
- While government efforts provide temporary relief, a permanent solution involves establishing publicly funded cancer care centers across India, making cancer care as accessible as treatment for diseases like diabetes or hypertension.
- The goal is to reduce the financial burden on individuals and families, acknowledging that free cancer care alone may not be sufficient to prevent poverty and suffering.
- Transportation Support:
- Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth, invading surrounding tissues, and potential spread to other organs (metastasis).
- Terms such as neoplasm and malignant tumor are also used to describe cancer.
- Global Impact:
- Second Leading Cause of Death, contributing to an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018.
- Common Types: Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancers are prevalent in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, and thyroid cancers are common in women.
- Prevention Strategies:
- Between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths can be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors and implementing evidence-based prevention strategies.
- Key Risk Factors:
- Tobacco Avoidance: Including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
- Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, regular exercise.
- Limiting Alcohol: Moderating alcohol consumption.
- Safe Practices: Practicing safe sex.
- Vaccination: Against hepatitis B and HPV.
- Reducing Exposure: To ultraviolet radiation and ionizing radiation.
- Environmental Considerations: Avoiding urban air pollution and indoor smoke.
- Medical Care: Regular medical check-ups.
- Chronic Infections: Managing chronic infections, more common in low- and middle-income countries.
- Early Detection Strategies:
- Early Diagnosis: Identifying symptomatic cancer cases at the earliest stage possible.
- Screening: Identifying individuals with abnormalities suggestive of cancer or pre-cancer, who show no symptoms, and referring them promptly for diagnosis and treatment.
- Importance of Early Detection:
- Treatment Efficacy: Cancer is more responsive to effective treatment when identified early.
- Survival Rates: Early detection increases the likelihood of survival, reduces morbidity, and results in less expensive treatment.
Cancer Statistics in India (2022)
- The estimated number of incident cancer cases in India for 2022 was 1,461,427, with a crude rate of 100.4 per 100,000 population.
- In India, the likelihood of developing cancer in one’s lifetime is reported to be one in nine people.
- Leading Cancers:
- Males: Lung cancer is the leading cancer among males.
- Females: Breast cancer is the leading cancer among females.
- Childhood Cancers (0-14 years):
- Leading Site: Lymphoid leukaemia is the leading site for childhood cancers.
- Prevalence: Boys have a 29.2% prevalence, and girls have a 24.2% prevalence.
- Future Projections (2025): The incidence of cancer cases is expected to increase by 12.8% in 2025 compared to 2020.
China keen on extending China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to Sri Lanka
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : TH
China’s Special Envoy, state councillor Shen Yiqin, conveyed to Sri Lankan President RanilWickremesinghe that China is prioritizing the extension of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) to Sri Lanka.
- This move indicates China’s intention to scale up the Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia by extending the CMEC to Sri Lanka.
About China-Myanmar Economic Corridor
- The CMEC is a strategic infrastructure project that aims to enhance connectivity and economic cooperation between China and Myanmar.
- The CMEC is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to create a network of infrastructure projects connecting China with various regions of the world.
- The corridor is expected to connect Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province to Myanmar’s key economic centers and potentially extend to the Indian Ocean.
- Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone:
- One of the significant components is the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Myanmar, which includes a deep-sea port and an industrial park.
- Transportation Links: Development of transportation links, including railways and highways, to facilitate the movement of goods and people.
- The CMEC holds geopolitical significance for both China and Myanmar, offering China an alternative route for trade and reducing its dependence on the Strait of Malacca.
Energy burstin distantgalaxydisturbed ionosphere
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : TH
About two billion years ago, a massive star in a distant galaxy underwent a supernova, culminating in a gamma-ray burst.
- The gamma rays from this distant event reached Earth in October 2022, causing a significant disturbance in Earth’s ionosphere.
- Researchers identified this gamma-ray burst as the most powerful ever recorded, with waves carrying immense energy across the cosmos.
- The burst affected Earth’s ionosphere, a plasma-filled layer in the upper atmosphere, leading to disturbances in its electric field.
- Detection and Instruments:
- European Space Agency’s Integral space observatory and various satellites, along with instruments on Earth, detected and studied the impact.
- The gamma rays influenced Earth’s atmosphere for approximately 13 minutes, causing detectable disturbances for several hours.
- Comparison to Solar Flares:
- The impact resembled the effects of a solar flare, showcasing similarities in how distant celestial events and solar activity affect Earth.
- Despite the vast distance (about two billion light years), the burst demonstrated that distant cosmic events could influence Earth’s ionosphere.
- Lightning detectors in India were triggered by the disturbance, showcasing the reach and impact of the gamma-ray burst.
- Such powerful bursts, with an expected frequency of once every 10,000 years, are typically associated with supernovas or neutron star mergers.
- Earth’s ionosphere, critical for protecting against harmful solar radiation, is highly sensitive to changes in magnetic and electrical conditions.
- The effects were studied using the China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES), providing unprecedented resolution in measuring the electric field.
- Potential Impact Scenarios:
- While this burst posed no threat, there’s speculation that a strong burst from within the Milky Way could have deleterious effects, though the probability is considered negligible.
- The study utilized instruments like the Electric Field Detector (EFD) on the CSES, offering unique insights into the ionospheric disturbance.
- The disturbance wasn’t visible to observers on the ground, highlighting the need for specialized instruments and the element of unpredictability.
- A supernova is a powerful and catastrophic stellar explosion that occurs at the end of a star’s life cycle.
- It typically happens when a massive star exhausts its nuclear fuel and undergoes gravitational collapse or accretion from a companion star.
- The explosion releases an immense amount of energy, briefly outshining an entire galaxy and producing radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Some supernovae generate gamma-ray bursts, intense bursts of gamma rays, which are the most energetic form of electromagnetic radiation.
- Gamma-ray bursts from supernovae can traverse vast cosmic distances, impacting celestial bodies and, in some cases, reaching Earth.
- Earth’s Ionosphere:
- The ionosphere is a region of Earth’s upper atmosphere (30-600 miles above the surface) containing ionized gases or plasma.
- It consists of ions and free electrons, influenced by solar radiation, cosmic rays, and geomagnetic activity.
- The ionosphere plays a crucial role in protecting life on Earth by absorbing and reflecting harmful ultraviolet solar radiation.
- The ionosphere exhibits an electric field, and disturbances in this field can be caused by various factors, including solar activity and celestial events.
- Changes in the ionosphere affect radio wave propagation, satellite communications, and navigation systems, influencing global communication.