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In news:

The Supreme Court lifted its seven-year stay on a proposal to introduce African cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat on an experimental basis.

In brief:

  • In 1952, the cheetah was officially declared extinct from India.
  • The Asiatic cheetah is classified as a “critically endangered” species by the IUCN Red List, and is believed to survive only in Iran.
  • From 400 in the 1990s, their numbers are estimated to have plummetted to 50-70 today, because of poaching, hunting of their main prey (gazelles) and encroachment on their habitat.
  • Before Namibia, India had approached Iran for Asiatic cheetahs, but it had been refused.
  • The Supreme Court made it clear that a proper survey should be done to identify the best possible habitat for the cheetahs.
  • Every effort should be taken to ensure that they adapt to the Indian conditions.
  • The action of the introduction of the animal would be left to the NTCA’s discretion.

10 New Ramsar Sites

In news:

Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance.With this, the number of Ramsar sites in India are now 37.

Added sites:

  1. Maharashtra gets its first Ramsar site (NandurMadhameshwar) ,
  2. Punjab which already had 3 Ramsar sites adds 3 more (Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal) and
  3. UP with 1 Ramsar site has added 6 more (Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and SarsaiNawar).

About Ramsar Convention:

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Total parties: 171
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts resolutions and recommendations.
  • Wetlands provide freshwater and food, and serve as nature’s shock absorber.

Spitzer Space Telescope

In news:

NASA’s Spitzer Mission, which studied the universe in infrared light for more than 16 years, will come to an end since it is low on fuel and has been drifting away from Earth for a few years now.

Spitzer space Telescope:

  • The Spitzer Space Telescope is the final mission in NASA’s Great Observatories Program – a family of four space-based observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light.
  • It was launched in 2003.
  • The other missions in the program include the visible-light Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO).
  • Spitzer is designed to detect infrared radiation which allows astronomers to see cooler objects in space, like failed stars (brown dwarfs), extra-solar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets.
  • Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1.

Bhuvan Panchayat 3.0

In news:

ISRO has launched the Bhuvan Panchayat web portal’s version 3.0.

In Brief:

  • The project is meant to provide geo-spatial services to aid gram panchayat development planning process of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • In the project that will last for at least two years, ISRO will collaborate with the gram panchayat members and stakeholders to understand their data requirements including information on land and water was needed for grassroot level planning.

Other Bhuvan Initiatives:

  • Bhuvan-GAIL monitors pipelines using space technology to address pipeline safety concerns.
  • The MGNREGA of every Gram Panchayat are to be geo-tagged with the help of BHUVAN portal.

PRELIMS BITS

Operation Vanilla

  • Indian Navy Ship Airavat whilst mission deployed in the Southern Indian Ocean has been diverted to Antsiranana based on request recieved from Madagascar.
  • The ship will undertake Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) mission as part of ‘Operation Vanilla’, post devastation caused by Cyclone Diane.

Fiscal Marksmanship

  • Fiscal marksmanship essentially refers tothe difference between actual outcomes and budgetary estimates as a proportion of GDP.
  • It refers to the accuracy of the government’s forecast of fiscal parameters such as revenues, expenditures and deficits etc.
  • In the Indian context, this term gained popularity after RaghuramRajan, then India’s Chief Economic Advisor stressed on fiscal marksmanship in the Economic Survey for the year 2012-13.