20 May | UPSC Current Affairs: Tartessos Civilization, Digital Arrest, Ambaji White Marble, Apple Cultivation & More

UPSC GS Paper 1

Tartessos Civilization

  • News: Archaeologists are searching for Spain’s lost Tartessian civilization.
  • Overview: Tartessos was a fascinating civilization that thrived in the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, roughly in modern-day Spain, from around the 9th to 6th centuries BCE.
      • It flourished around the Guadalquivir River basin and the neighboring lands.
  • Wealth and Skills:
      • Renowned for their wealth, particularly in metals like copper, silver, and tin.
      • Known for their skilled metalworkers and shipbuilders.
  • Trade: Facilitated extensive trade throughout the Mediterranean, reaching as far as Egypt, Greece, and Israel.

UPSC GS Paper 2

Private Property Acquisition

  • News: The Supreme Court recently gave a significant ruling regarding private property acquisition.
  • More on News: The court ruled that compulsory acquisition, without adhering to mandatory procedures and merely providing compensation to owners afterward, would not render the acquisition constitutional.


  • Constitutional Protection of Property: The Supreme Court emphasized that the right to private property is protected under the Constitution and is also considered a human right.
  • Mandatory Procedures for Acquisition: The court declared that for a valid acquisition of property, it is not sufficient to just have the power of eminent domain and provide compensation. 
      • Proper legal procedures must be established and followed.
  • Article 300A: Despite the omission of the right to property as a fundamental right by the 44th Constitutional Amendment, Article 300A was added.
      •  Article 300A  stated that no person shall be deprived of their property except by the authority of law, involving adhering to due process. 
  • Procedural Rights: The Supreme Court outlined seven procedural rights that need to be respected during property acquisition:
  • Right to Notice: The duty of the State to inform the person about the intended acquisition.
  • Right to Be Heard: The state must listen to objections from the property owner.
  • Right to a Reasoned Decision: The state must explain its decision regarding the acquisition.
  • Demonstration of Public Purpose: The acquisition must exclusively serve a public purpose.
  • Right to Fair Compensation: The property owner is entitled to reasonable compensation.
  • Efficient Process: The acquisition process should be conducted efficiently and within set timelines.
  • Conclusion of Proceedings: Acquisition isn’t complete without the actual physical possession of the property being taken.

UPSC GS Paper 3


  • News: The Finance Ministry has asked the State Bank of India (SBI) to set up a committee to address issues related to the co-lending business model.
  • Definition:  It is an arrangement where multiple lenders partner to provide loans to borrowers.
  • Benefits:
      • Increases lending capacity.
      • Reduces risk for individual lenders.
  • RBI Guidelines:
      • Banks and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) can co-lend loans to priority sectors.
      • NBFCs must assume a minimum of 20% credit risk, with the remaining risk on banks.
  • Restrictions:
      • Banks are not allowed to enter into co-lending arrangements with an NBFC belonging to the promoter group.

High Energy Photon Source Synchrotron

  • News: China has inaugurated a next-generation synchrotron called the High Energy Photon Source Synchrotron. 
  • Synchrotron: A synchrotron is a type of circular particle accelerator. 
      • Working: It works by accelerating charged particles (electrons) through sequences of magnets until they reach almost the speed of light. 
      • These fast-moving electrons produce very bright light, called synchrotron light. 
      • Properties: This very intense light, predominantly in the X-ray region, is millions of times brighter than light produced from conventional sources and 10 billion times brighter than the sun. 
        • Scientists can use this light to study minute matter such as atoms and molecules.
  • High Energy Photon Source Synchrotron (HEPS): 
      • Definition: The HEPS is a next-generation synchrotron that generates a specific type of synchrotron light source.
        • It operates by accelerating electrons to nearly the speed of light and making them travel in a circular path.
        • As these high-speed electrons change direction under the influence of magnetic fields, they emit Synchrotron Radiation, which includes X-rays.
        • These X-rays are then harnessed for various scientific applications.
      • Salient Features of HEPS: 
        • Electron Acceleration: Can accelerate electrons up to energies of 6 gigaelectron volts within its storage ring, which has a circumference of 1.36 kilometers.
        • Brightness: Generates X-rays that are 10 times brighter than those produced by existing synchrotron facilities, allowing for unprecedented clarity in imaging and analysis.
        • Imaging Capabilities: Offers extremely precise imaging capabilities, enabling scientists to observe and manipulate materials at the atomic and molecular levels.
        • Efficiency: Reduces the time taken by experiments from milliseconds to hundreds of nanoseconds.
      • Applications of HEPS: 
        • Material Science: Enables the detailed study of materials’ structure and properties, which is crucial for developing new materials with enhanced performance.
        • Biology: Allows for the examination of biological molecules and complex protein structures, aiding in understanding diseases and developing new treatments.
        • Nanotechnology: Supports the development of nanotechnology by providing insights into the behavior of nanomaterials and their applications 
  • Global Presence of Synchrotrons: There are approximately 70 synchrotrons around the world in various stages of development.
  • India’s Synchrotron Facility: India has a facility called the Indus Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ISRF) located at the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) in Indore

Irradiation Technology for Onions

  • News: The Central Government is planning to irradiate onions with gamma rays to curb post-harvest losses.
  • Definition:  Irradiation is the process of exposing any object to ionising radiation. 
      • The food radiation exposes food and food packaging to radiation from gamma rays, x-rays or electron beams. 
      • In case of onions, they are exposed to gamma ray irradiation which helps in effective preservation by preventing them from sprouting, thus extending the shelf life and reducing spoilage.
  • Establishment and Capacity: Irradiation facilities are being established in Maharashtra, with the capacity to treat around 25,000 tonnes of onions.
  • Operational Framework: The project will operate under public-private partnerships, financially supported by the agriculture and food processing ministries.
  • Irradiation Method: Irradiation involves using ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays, to treat food items.
      • This process is applied to onions to prevent sprouting and microbial growth.
  • Objective:
      • The primary goal is to extend the shelf life of onions and reduce post-harvest losses.
  • Advantages of Using Irradiation
      • Loss Reduction: Typically, about 25% of onion crops are lost post-harvest; irradiation aims to reduce this to 10-12%.
      • Increased Storage Duration: Onions can be stored for up to seven and a half months with irradiation, compared to only about four months with conventional cold storage methods.
      • Quality Improvement: The use of irradiation results in a recovery rate of nearly 84% for Grade A onions, significantly higher than the 56% recovery rate with traditional storage.
  • Impact of Irradiation Facilities
      • Regional Focus: Maharashtra, which accounts for 43% of India’s onion production, will be a primary beneficiary, along with other significant producers like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat.
      • Supply Chain Improvement: The technology is set to stabilize the onion supply chain, reduce losses, and aid in government procurement efforts.

Digital Arrest

  • News: To combat rising “digital arrests” by cybercriminals posing as law enforcement officers, the central government has partnered with Microsoft to block Skype IDs used for online intimidation.
  • Definition: ‘Digital arrest’ is a new and innovative tactic employed by cybercriminals to defraud gullible victims and extort money.
  • Modus Operandi: Online fraudsters and criminals call potential victims, claiming they have sent or received parcels containing illegal goods, drugs, fake passports, or other contraband items.
      • In some instances, criminals contact relatives or friends of the target, alleging the target’s involvement in a crime or accident and stating they are in custody.
  • Tactics:
      • Criminals often use images or identities of police personnel to appear authentic.
      • They demand money from targets for a ‘compromise’ and closure of the case.
      • Victims are sometimes “digitally arrested” and forced to stay visible over Skype or other video conferencing platforms until demands are met.
      • Cybercriminals use studios resembling police stations or government offices and wear uniforms similar to those of law enforcement agencies.

Read also: Kalapani Land Dispute between India and Nepal: Origin, Challenges and Resolution | UPSC

Ambaji White Marble

  • News: Ambaji marble has got the GI tag.
  • Ambaji Marble: It is named after the town of Ambaji in the state of Gujarat.
      • Ambaji marble is renowned for its stunning white appearance and unique natural patterns.
  • Characteristics:
      • The patterns in Ambaji marble range from fine and delicate to bold and pronounced, giving each slab a distinct and individualistic appearance.
      • These variations occur naturally due to the presence of minerals and impurities during the marble formation process.


  • Use: It has a very long-lasting shine and durability, making it widely used for luxury architectural projects, sculptures, and monuments.
  • Key Facts about Marble
  • Formation: Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to heat and pressure, typically occurring at convergent plate boundaries.
      • Some marble also forms by contact metamorphism when a hot magma body heats adjacent limestone or dolostone. 
      • This process also occurs at convergent plate boundaries.
  • Composition: 
      • Marble is composed primarily of the mineral calcite (CaCO3).
      • It usually contains other minerals such as clay minerals, micas, quartz, pyrite, iron oxides, and graphite.
  • Geographical Indication (GI) Tag: 
      • A geographical indication or GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. 
      • Geographical Indications are part of the intellectual property rights that comes under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. 
      • In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. 
      • Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

Apple Cultivation 

  • News: Apple cultivation is now viable in the lower regions of Spiti, up to an elevation of 3,400 metres above sea level.
  • Overview: Apples (Malus pumila) are a temperate fruit that thrives in cool climates.
      • In India, apples are grown in the hilly regions that experience cold winters and mild summers.
  • Major Producing States: 
      • Jammu & Kashmir
      • Himachal Pradesh
      • Uttarakhand
      • Arunachal Pradesh
      • Nagaland
      • Sikkim
      • These states benefit from the cool climate due to the Himalayas.
  • Ideal Growing Conditions: 
      • Altitude: 1500-2700 meters above sea level
      • Temperature: Average summer temperature of 21-24°C, and winter chilling of 1000-1500 hours below 7°C
      • Rainfall: Well-distributed rainfall of 1000-1250 mm throughout the year
      • Soil: Well-drained, loamy soil
  • Varieties of Apples
      • Ambri
      • McIntosh
      • Granny Smith
      • Honeycrisp
      • Chaubattia Anupam
      • Golden Delicious
      • Sunehari
      • Fuji
      • Tydeman’s Early

Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) Mission

  • News: The India-Japan partnership for their joint moon mission, Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX), is likely to be delayed.
  • Collaboration: Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) Mission is an ISRO-JAXA collaborative mission. 
      • ISRO is responsible for developing the lander.
      • JAXA is responsible for procuring the rover and launch vehicle.
  • Aim: To acquire water resource data to reveal the potential use of lunar water as a resource.

PREFIRE Polar Mission

  • News:  NASA will soon launch two satellites under the PREFIRE polar mission.
  • Definition: PREFIRE stands for Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment.
  • Aim of the Mission
      • Addressing Knowledge Gaps: Aimed at filling the knowledge gap about two of the most remote regions on Earth — the Arctic and Antarctic.
      • Measuring Far-Infrared Radiation: It will measure the amount of far-infrared radiation (heat) emitted from two of the coldest, most remote regions on the planet, into space.
      • Understanding Atmospheric Influence: It will find out how atmospheric water vapor and clouds influence the amount of radiation that escapes to space.
      • Composition of Mission: PREFIRE is composed of two small CubeSats outfitted with specialized miniature heat sensors.
  • Launch Vehicle: They will be launched with the help of the Electron launch vehicle, which is equipped with technology proven on Mars.
  • Significance of the PREFIRE Polar Mission
      • Energy Transfer: At the tropics, Earth absorbs a lot of energy from the Sun. This energy is transferred to polar regions through wind movement and water currents, and then to space.
      • Measurement Gap: About 60% of the heat energy, going outward into space from Earth in the form of far-infrared wavelengths, has never been measured.
      • Model Improvement: The knowledge from the mission will improve computer models that are used to predict how Earth’s ice, seas, and weather will change in a warming world.

Loss of Trees in India

  • News: As per analysis of University of Copenhagen researchers, India may have lost around 5.8 million fully grown trees in agricultural lands between 2019-2022.
  • Findings of the Study
  • Disappearance of Large Trees:
      • During 2018–2022, it was observed that 11% of the large trees identified in 2010–2011 were no longer visible. This data may indicate their disappearance. 
      • However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t indicate a general reduction in trees outside of forests because the research was specifically concentrated on large individual trees.
  • Regional Losses:
      • Major losses (up to 50%) were noticed in certain areas of Telangana, Maharashtra, and eastern Madhya Pradesh.
      •  In certain hotspot regions, as many as 22 big trees disappeared per square kilometre.
  • Timeframe of Losses:
      • The majority of losses have probably happened between 2018 and 2020.
  • Methodology by Copenhagen Researchers
      • Tracking Large Trees: The analysis tracked individual large trees (not overall tree cover) in farmlands using high-resolution satellite imagery and machine learning.
      • Satellite Imagery: The researchers combined satellite imagery from RapidEye and PlanetScope repositories.
        •  These satellites have resolutions of three to five meters, allowing them to detect individual trees.
  • Reasons for the Loss of Large Trees in Indian Farmlands
      • Conversion to Paddy Cultivation: Conversion of farmland with trees to paddy cultivation.
      • Replacement of Agroforestry Systems. Established agroforestry systems are being replaced by paddy expansion that is supported by new water sources.
      • Removal of Large Trees: Large trees are removed, and trees are now cultivated in separate plantations that have lower ecological value.
      • Agroforestry Management Cycles: Some loss is also a natural part of agroforestry management cycles.

Killer Whales or Orcas

  • News: Two people were rescued recently after a group of orcas sank their 15-metre-long sailing yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar.


  • Killer Whales (Orcas): Killer whales, also known as Orcas, are found across the world.
      • They are the largest member of the Delphinidae family, or dolphins.
      • They are also called as wolves of the sea. 
  • Type: Mammals
  • Population Distribution: Killer whales are found in all oceans.
      • They are mostly found in cold places like Antarctica, Norway, and Alaska, but they also inhabit warmer tropical and subtropical waters.
  • Family: Members of this family include all dolphin species.
      • It also includes other larger species such as long-finned pilot whales and short-finned pilot whales, whose common names also contain “whale” instead of “dolphin”.
  • Social Structure: Killer whales are highly social and most live in social groups called pods.
      • Pods are groups of maternally related individuals seen together more than half the time.
  • Curiosity: Given their highly social and curious behavior, orcas often approach fishing vessels to assess if there is any fish in the net or just to observe people on the vessel.
  • Communication: They rely on underwater sound to feed, communicate, and navigate.
  • Body Size: They can measure up to 8 meters in length and weigh up to 6 tonnes as adults.
  • Conservation Status: They are considered Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species.

Facts for Prelims 

Bharat Parva Celebration 

  • News: Bharat Parv has been celebrated at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.
  • Event Organized by: This event was organized by NFDC in association with FICCI under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • Performance Highlights: The evening featured singer Sunanda Sharma performing lively Punjabi songs, joined by emerging singers Pragati, Arjun, and Shaan’s son, Maahi.
      • The highlight was when all the singers came together to perform “Maa Tujhe Salaam,” receiving enthusiastic applause from the audience.
  • Significance
      • Celebration of Indian Culture: The event celebrated India’s diverse culture, cuisine, handicrafts, and cinema on the French Riviera.
      • Promotion of Soft Power: It marked the celebration of cinema, culture, and artistic unity, showcasing India’s soft power on the international platform.
      • Representation of Indian Cinema: The participation of renowned Indian actors underscored the diverse and vibrant essence of Indian cinema and its increasing influence on the international platform.
  • Cannes Film Festival: The Cannes Film Festival was born in 1938 from an idea by Philippe Erlanger, aborted by the war, and later taken up by Jean Zay and Albert Sarrault.


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