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[Newsbits] 12.12.2023 – VINBAX, Biocrusts, Picket Fence & More

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Karan Singh’s Proclamation of 1949 was a crucial document that played a pivotal role in defining the constitutional relationship between Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the Union of India. Issued in November 1949 by Yuvraj Karan Singh, it repealed the Government of India Act, 1935, and adopted the Indian Constitution as the governing document for J&K, superseding all inconsistent constitutional provisions in the state. This move was primarily to eliminate any ambiguity about J&K’s integration into India, especially in light of the earlier Instrument of Accession signed by Hari Singh, which had left some questions about J&K’s complete integration. The Supreme Court of India, in its ruling upholding the abrogation of Article 370 in December 2023, reaffirmed the significance of this proclamation in clarifying J&K’s sovereignty status and its full integration into the Indian Union.

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The proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir, recommended by Supreme Court Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul in December 2023, aims to investigate human rights violations in the region since the 1980s. This initiative, rooted in the need for healing and addressing inter-generational trauma, seeks to document abuses by both state and non-state actors and foster reconciliation. Inspired by South Africa’s model, the commission is envisioned to operate through dialogue, allowing diverse viewpoints, and following a humanized and personalized process. The commission’s formation is seen as a crucial step towards acknowledging past sufferings, promoting transparency, and rebuilding trust among communities affected by long-standing conflicts in the region.

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In December 2023, the phenomena known as “Steve” and the “Picket Fence” continue to intrigue scientists. Steve, characterized by its bright purple glow, is formed by a stream of charged particles heating air particles, differing significantly from typical auroras. Accompanying Steve is the Picket Fence, marked by vertical green stripes, whose origins are still under investigation. These phenomena, first recognized in 2018, have been observed more frequently during the sun’s active cycle, particularly in November 2023. Current theories propose that Steve and the Picket Fence might be generated by unique processes in the upper atmosphere, involving parallel electric fields and specific energy ranges of electrons. Further research, including a proposed NASA rocket campaign, is aimed at understanding these mysterious atmospheric occurrences, potentially reshaping our understanding of the physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and Earth’s magnetosphere.

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Recent research as of December 2023 has revealed that biocrusts, composed of moss, lichen, and cyanobacteria, play a crucial role in protecting the Great Wall of China from erosion. These biocrusts cover a significant portion of the wall, especially in sections built with rammed earth, a material prone to erosion. Contrary to previous assumptions that natural vegetation might accelerate weathering, these biocrusts have been found to strengthen the wall, increase soil stability, and reduce the effects of environmental factors such as wind, rain, and temperature fluctuations. This discovery highlights the potential of biocrusts as a promising and innovative strategy for heritage conservation, offering multiple protective functions in a nature-based, eco-friendly manner. This research could change the way heritage sites globally approach the preservation of ancient structures, particularly those with significant earthen components.

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VINBAX-2023, the fourth edition of the joint military exercise between India and Vietnam, was conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam from December 11th to 21st, 2023. Comprising 45 personnel each from the Indian Armed Forces and the Vietnam People’s Army, the exercise aimed to enhance collaborative partnerships, promote interoperability, and share best practices under the framework of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, focusing on Peacekeeping Operations. Designed as both a Command Post and a Field Training Exercise, VINBAX-2023 concentrated on the deployment of an Engineer Company and a Medical Team, facilitating the exchange of ideas and joint rehearsals of tactics, techniques, and procedures related to combat engineering and medical tasks. The culmination of the exercise was a Validation Exercise, showcasing the standards attained by both contingents. This exercise not only demonstrates the commitment of India and Vietnam to international peace and security but also significantly contributes to the shared goal of maintaining global peace and stability.

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