8th Anniversary of Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY)

In News

  • The Prime Ministerhas lauded Mudra Yojana on completion of 8 years. 
    • PM MudraYojana has played a vital role in funding the unfunded and ensuring a life of dignity as well as prosperity for countless Indians. 

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY)

  • About: 
    • The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) was launched on 8th April 2015.
    • Any Indian Citizen who has a business plan for a non-farm sector income generating activity such as manufacturing, processing, trading or service sector and whose credit need is less than Rs. 10 lakh can approach either a Bank, MFI, or NBFC for availing of Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd. (MUDRA) loans under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY).
  • Aim: 
    • To facilitate easy collateral-free micro credit of up to Rs10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farm small and micro entrepreneurs for income generating activities. 
  • Features:
    • The loans under PMMY are provided by Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), i.e., Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) and other financial intermediaries.
    • The loans have been divided into three categories based on the need for finance and stage in maturity of the business.  These are Shishu (loans up to Rs 50,000/-), Kishore (loans above Rs 50,000/- and up to Rs 5 lakh), and Tarun (loans above Rs. 5 lakh and up to Rs. 10 lakh). 
    • The rate of interest is decided by lending institutions in terms of RBI guidelines.  In the case of a working capital facility, interest is charged only on money held overnight by the borrower.
    • Interest Subvention of 2% on prompt repayment of Shishu loans extended under PMMY for a period of 12 months to all eligible borrowers’.
  • Credit Guarantee Fund for Micro Units (CGFMU):
    • Credit Guarantee Fund for Micro Units was set up in January 2016 under the aegis of the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd. (NCGTC), a wholly-owned company of Government of India, to provide guarantee to:
    • Loans extended to eligible micro units under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) up to Rs. 10 lakh, by Banks/ Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/ Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs)/ other financial intermediaries;
    • Overdraft loan amount of Rs. 5,000 (enhanced to Rs 10,000 in Sep, 2018) sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts; and
    • Self Help Group (SHG) portfolio between R10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh (w.e.f. 01.04.2020).
  • Three pillars of the scheme:
    • Banking the Unbanked
    • Securing the Unsecured
    • Funding the Unfunded


  • The scheme has enabled easy and hassle-free access to credit to micro-enterprises and has helped a large number of young entrepreneurs establish their businesses.
  • The PMMY scheme has helped in the generation of large-scale employment opportunities at the grassroots level and also has proved to be a game changer while boosting the Indian economy.
  • The growth of MSMEs has contributed massively to the “Make in India” programme as strong domestic MSMEs lead to increased indigenous production both for domestic markets as well as for exports. 

Achievements under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) as on 24.03.2023

  • About Rs. 23.2 lakh crore has been sanctioned in 40.82 crore loan accounts. 
  • About 68% of accounts under the scheme belong to women entrepreneurs and 51% of accounts belong to entrepreneurs of SC/ST and OBC categories. 
  • This demonstrates that easy availability of credit to the budding entrepreneurs of the country has led to innovation and sustained increase in per capita income.”

Challenges faced by the Scheme

  • Rise in non-performing assets or bad loans
  • Lack of financial literacy among beneficiaries leading to defaults
  • There have also been increasing instances of frauds reported at public sector banks.
  • Less outreach to rural entrepreneurs
  • Loan amount of up to Rs. 10 lakhs, is inadequate for many small enterprises.
  • Shoddy appraisal systems and end-use monitoring practices at PSBs appear to be one of the key reasons for the quick deterioration in the quality of loans.


  • Overall, MUDRA is a step in the right direction for funding the unfunded, although the government shall set up a powerful monitoring and grievance remedy mechanism for the problems arrived under the scheme.

Article 371F

In  News

Recently, an SDF supremo claimed that the Sikkimese people feel betrayed as Article 371F was “violated”.

Latest Issues 

  • the Financial Bill, 2023 redefines Sikkimese as any Indian citizen domiciled in Sikkim, extending to them the same benefits as that of the original inhabitants whose forefathers’ names were in the 1961 register
  • This violates Article 371F, which was the basis for the merger of Sikkim with India in 1975. 
Do you Know?Sikkim is situated in the North East of the union.It was a tiny Himalayan kingdom once ruled by the hereditary monarchy for about 3 centuries from 17 century A.D. In 1950 the kingdom became a protectorate of the Government of India vested with autonomy in its internal affairs while its defence, communications, and external relation were under the responsibility of the protector.

About Article 371F

  • Sikkim finally opted to become a full-fledged  22nd State of the Indian Union with effect from 26 April 1975 vide the Constitution 36th Amendment Act 1975 with special provision laid for the State under article 371(F) of the Constitution of India.
  • According to Article 371F, The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People.
  • To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.
  • Only the descendants of Sikkim subjects (those who lived in the state before its merger with India) whose names were mentioned in the 1961 register are Sikkimese with rights to own land and get State government jobs. 
  • They were also exempted from paying income tax.
Additional InformationArticle 371, Maharashtra and Gujarat: Governor has a “special responsibility” to establish “separate development boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat; ensure “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said areas”, and “equitable arrangement providing adequate facilities for technical education and vocational training, and adequate opportunities for employment” under the state government.Article 371A (13th Amendment Act, 1962)Nagaland: This provision was inserted after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963. Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, and ownership and transfer of land without the concurrence of the state Assembly.Article 371B (22nd Amendment Act, 1969), Assam: The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Assembly consisting of members elected from the state’s tribal areas.Article 371C (27th Amendment Act, 1971), Manipur: The President may provide for the constitution of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning.Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”. He may require the state government to organise “any class or classes of posts in the civil service of, or any class or classes of civil posts under, the State into different local cadres for different parts of the State”. He has similar powers vis-à-vis admissions in educational institutions.Article 371E: Allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not a “special provision” in the sense of the others in this part.Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975), Sikkim: The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People. To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.Article 371G (53rd Amendment Act, 1986), Mizoram: Parliament cannot make laws on “religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land… unless the Assembly… so decides”.Article 371H (55th Amendment Act, 1986), Arunachal Pradesh: The Governor has a special responsibility with regard to law and order, and “he shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken”.Article 371J (98th Amendment Act, 2012), Karnataka: There is a provision for a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. There shall be an “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said region”, and “equitable opportunities and facilities” for people of this region in government jobs and education. A proportion of seats in educational institutions and state government jobs in Hyderabad-Karnataka can be reserved for individuals from that region.

Human Composting

In News

  • Recently, New York became the sixth state in the US to legalise human composting as a burial option. 

About Human Composting

  • It is also known as natural organic reduction.
  • It is essentially the process of transforming the human body into nutrient-rich soil. 
  • The process of transformation of a human body into soil involves placing a dead body in a reusable vessel with biodegradable materials.
  • These materials act as a catalyst to help the process of transformation into nutrient-dense soil.

Benefits  and Need 

  • In the past few years, it has gained popularity, especially among the younger generation, for being an eco-friendly alternative to dispose of a corpse.
  • With the global temperature soaring, methods like burials and cremations are increasingly being seen as contributors to carbon emissions. 
  • Moreover, burials and cremations are quite expensive, and not only many can afford them. 
  • Therefore, human composting uses much less energy than cremation
  • The soil produced through this procedure can be used for gardening or can be spread in designated memorial grounds or forest conservation areas.
  • When human composting transforms the organic material of our bodies, carbon is also sequestered in the soil created. 


  • The biggest opponent of this process has been the Catholic Church and called it an “unfortunate spiritual, emotional, and psychological distancing from the deceased.
  • It has been believed that the ‘transformation’ of the remains would create an emotional distance rather than a reverence” for the remains. 
  • Even cremated remains must  remain in a communal place befitting of the dignity inherent in the human body and its connection to the immortal soul.”

Way Ahead 

  • Because the composting option is so new, “it’s really a matter of changing hearts and minds right now
  • This will result in significant savings in carbon emissions and land usage.
  • The promoters of the process say that it is a gentler way of bidding goodbye to one’s loved ones. 

Population Bomb

In News

  • The Earth4All modelling team published their predictions about the world’s human population in the form of a report.


  • The word ‘population bomb’ signifies a grim scenario that warns of perils of overpopulation like mass starvation and environmental deterioration.
  • In the new Earth4All Initiative report, the researchers set aside population-modelling approaches adopted by the U.N., the Wittgenstein Centre, The Lancet, and integrated assessment models.
  • In the Earth4All model, birth rates are explicitly and causally modelled as a function of GDP per person, depicting a negative correlation between income and fertility rate.
Earth4All is a vibrant collective of leading economic thinkers, scientists, and advocates, convened by The Club of Rome, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Norwegian Business School.

Findings of the Report

The researchers advance two scenarios:

  • The first, called “Too Little, Too Late”, predicts that if economic development continues as it has in the last five decades, the world’s population would peak at 8.6 billion in 2050, roughly 25 years from now, and decline to 7 billion by 2100.
  • In the second scenario, called “The Giant Leap”, the researchers conclude that the population will peak at 8.5 billion by 2040 – a decade sooner than 2050 – but then rapidly decline to around 6 billion by 2100. This will be due to our investments in poverty alleviation, gender equity, education and health, ameliorating inequality, and food and energy security. 
  • These population predictions are more optimistic than the kind of historic fear mongering and regressive development policies engendered by the ‘population bomb’ metaphor. 
  • Population alone was never the problem for sustainability, nor will it be for the climate crisis rather a declining population alone won’t address the issues surrounding the climate crisis.

Comparison with other Reports

  • The Earth4All report  contradicted the U.N. ‘World Populations Prospects 2022’ report, which predicted that the global population would steadily rise to 10.4 billion in 2080 and then stabilise around that number in 2100.
  • The contradictions between the U.N. report and the Earth4All 2023 report are helpful because they allow us to imagine and address the conditions proposed by different studies. They also inform scholarship, activism, and policies that safeguard women’s health and well-being in all possible scenarios.

Population Growth and Related issues

  • Large population will require the unflinching focus of policymakers on areas fundamental to human well-being — education, nutrition, healthcare, housing, and employment. 
  • Rapid population growth can make challenges of hunger and poverty steeper. 
  • Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition, and increasing the coverage of health and education systems more difficult.
  • Will need policies to increase jobs so that labour force participation rate increases for both men and women.

Indian Scenario

  • As of 2022, more than half the world’s population lives in Asia, China and India being the two most populous countries with more than 1.4 billion people each.
  • According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), while India’s population growth is stablising, it is “still growing at 0.7% per year” and is set to surpass China in 2023 as the world’s most populous country.
  • UNFPA has noted that India has its largest ever adolescent and youth population. 
  • According to UNFPA projections, India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world till 2030 and is currently experiencing a demographic window of opportunity, a “youth bulge” that will last till 2025.

Steps taken by India for Stabilising Population

  • Mission ParivarVikas: For substantially increasing access to contraceptives and family planning services in146 high fertility districts with Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 3 and above in seven high focus states. 
  • Compensation scheme for sterilization acceptors: Under the scheme MoHFW provides compensation for loss of wages to the beneficiary and also to the service provider (& team) for conducting sterilizations.
  • Clinical Outreach Teams (COT) Scheme: The scheme has been launched in 146 Mission Parivar Vikas districts for providing Family planning services through mobile teams from accredited organizations in far-flung, underserved and geographically difficult areas.
  • Scheme for Home delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs at doorstep of beneficiaries. Scheme for ASHAs to Ensure spacing in births.
  • Family Planning Logistic Management and Information System (FP-LMIS): A dedicated software to ensure smooth forecasting, procurement and distribution of family planning commodities across all the levels of health facilities.
  • National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (NFPIS) under which clients are insured in the eventualities of death, complication and failure following sterilization.
  • Ensuring quality of care in Family Planning services by establishing Quality Assurance Committees in all states and districts.

International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA)

In News

  • To commemorate 50 years of Project Tiger,  the Prime Minister  launched the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) for conservation of seven big cats namely Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Cheetah, Jaguar and Puma harbouring our planet.
    • The PM also released the summary report of All India Tiger Estimation (5th cycle). He also released a commemorative coin on the completion of 50 years of Project Tiger. 

Key Points of PM Speech

  • India has only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area but it contributes toward 8 percent to known global biodiversity.  India is the largest tiger range country in the world, the largest Asiatic elephant range country in the world with nearly thirty thousand elephants, and also the largest single-horn rhino country with a population of nearly three thousand.
  • India is a country where protecting nature is a part of the culture. The Prime Minister emphasized that India has not only saved the tiger population from declining but also provided an ecosystem where tigers can flourish. 
  • The tiger reserves in India cover 75,000 square kilometers of land and in the past ten to twelve years, the tiger population in the country has increased by 75 percent.  
  • India does not believe in the conflict between ecology and economy, and gives equal importance to the coexistence of both.
  • Recalling the importance of tigers in the history of India, the Prime Minister mentioned that  the Bharia community from Central India and Worli community from Maharashtra among others worship the tiger.
  • The Prime Minister reiterated that the success of Project Tiger has many dimensions and it has led to an increase in tourist activity, awareness programs and a reduction in Man-Animal conflicts in Tiger Reserves. The presence of big cats has made a positive impact on the lives and ecology of the local people everywhere.

International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)

  • In July 2019, the Prime Minister called for an Alliance of Global Leaders to obliterate demand and firmly curb poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Asia.
  • In this regard, the International Big Cats Alliance is being launched which will focus on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats of the world.
  • The alliance aims to reach out to 97 range countries covering the natural habitats of Tiger, Lion, Snow Leopard, Puma, Jaguar, and Cheetah. IBCA would further strengthen global cooperation and efforts to conserve the wild denizens, especially the big cats.

Significance of the Alliance

  • The alliance seeks to bring together countries, conservationists, and experts from around the world to collaborate on conservation efforts for these seven big cat species.
  • Through IBCA, India hopes to share knowledge, expertise, and best practices in conserving these species with other countries that have significant big cat populations, such as Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa.
  • The alliance also aims to facilitate collaborations between governments, NGOs, and the private sector to create sustainable solutions for conservation.

What are the ‘big seven cats’?

  • Cat Family and Genus:
    • The Family of Cats (Felidae) comprises three genus: (1) Panthera, (2) Puma, and (3) Acinonyx.
    • Panthera: This is the genus of large wild cats that can generally roar, but can’t purr. It includes Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, Tiger and snow leopard. The snow leopard is an exception to the rest of the group in that it can’t roar.
    • Puma: Closely related to the domestic cat, this genus has only one extant species, the cougar.
    • Acinonyx: This is a unique genus within the cat family, with only one living member, the cheetah.
  • Tiger (Panthera Tigris)
    • Status: Endangered
    • Tiger is the largest of all wild cats and also the earliest Panthera member to exist.  Primarily a forest animal, they range from the Siberian taiga to the Sunderban delta. 
    • It is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and South Korea.
    • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in 1973 by the Government of India. It is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • Lion (Panthera Leo)
    • Status: Vulnerable.
    • Native to Africa and Asia, the lion is the most social cat, and lives in groups called prides. 
    • They prefer open forests such as scrubland, and adult males have a prominent mane. 
    • Range of Asiatic lion is restricted to Gir National Park of Gujarat.
    • The National Emblem of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka erected by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in Sarnath.
  • Jaguar (Panthera Onca)
    • Status: Near Threatened
    • The largest cat in the Americas, the Jaguar has the strongest bite force of all wild cats, enabling it to bite directly through the skull of its prey. 
    • Melanistic (black) Jaguars are common and are often called black panthers. 
  • Leopard (Panthera Pardus)
    • Status: Vulnerable
    • It is similar in appearance to the Jaguar with a rosette patterned coat. 
    • The most adaptable of all big cats, they occupy diverse habitats at all altitudes across Africa and Asia. 
    • Like black jaguars, melanistic leopards are called black panthers. 
  • Snow leopard (Panthera Uncia)
    • Status: Vulnerable
    • This smokey-grey cat lives above the snow line in Central and South Asia. 
    • Of all big cats, it cannot roar, and has the longest tail of them all — which comes in handy for balance while hunting along the cliffs, and also gives warmth when wrapped around the body. 
    • The snow leopard is the state animal of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Cougar (Puma concolor)
    • Status: Least Concern
    • The cougar is the second-largest cat in the Americas. (The Jaguar is the largest.) 
    • Cougars are also called ‘mountain lion’ and ‘panther’ across their range from the Canadian Yukon to the Southern Andes. 
  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
    • Status: Vulnerable
    • The fastest land mammal, the cheetah is the only cat without retractable claws — the grip helps it accelerate faster than any sports car (0-100 km/hr in 3 seconds). 
    • Cheetahs are not aggressive towards humans, and they have been tamed since the ancient era. 
    • They don’t breed well in captivity.
    • Cheetahs are not really big, and they hunt during the day to avoid competing with other big cats. 

Source: PIB

Fifty years of ‘Project Tiger’

In News

  • Tiger Census figures were released by the Prime Minister at an event marking the “International Big Cat Alliance conference” as well as the “50th anniversary of Project Tiger”.
    • The PM also released the government’s vision for tiger conservation during ‘Amrit Kaal’, and launched the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA).


  • Tiger census highlights:
    • The number of tigers in India has increased by 6.74 percent from 2,967 in 2018 to 3,167 in 2022, according to the figures of the 5th cycle of India’s Tiger Census.
    • Estimation was done in five landscapes across the country.
    • Region wise:
      • The tiger population has grown the most in the Shivalik hills and Gangetic flood plains, followed by central India, the north eastern hills, the Brahmaputra flood plains, and the Sundarbans
      • There was a decline in the Western Ghats numbers, though “major populations” were said to be stable.
  • International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA):
    • IBCA will focus on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats of the world, including tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah, with membership of the range countries harbouring these species.

How are the tiger numbers estimated?

  • The tiger numbers are estimated by adding animals caught in camera traps, as well as those that may not have been captured in this way.
    • The latter are estimated by statistical techniques.
  • In their four-year estimates, the scientists provide a range of the estimated tiger population, and the mean value is highlighted as the latest tiger population.

About Project Tiger 

  • Tiger population after independence:
    • India’s tiger population was rapidly dwindling post indpendence. 
    • According to reports, while there were 40,000 tigers in the country at the time of the Independence, they were soon reduced to below 2,000 by 1970 due to their widespread hunting and poaching.
  • Declining tiger population:
    • Concerns around the issue further intensified when the same year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the tiger as an endangered species. 
    • Two years later, the Indian government conducted its own tiger census and found that there were only 1,800 of them left in the country.
  • Origin of ‘Project Tiger’:
    • To tackle the problem of hunting and poaching of not just tigers but also other animals and birds, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi promulgated the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972.
    • Project Tiger was launched by the Central government on April 1, 1973, in a bid to promote conservation of the tiger.
  • Project Tigher key aspects:
    • Notably, Project Tiger didn’t just focus on the conservation of the big cats. 
    • It also ensured the preservation of their natural habitat as tigers are at the top of the food chain. 
  • Rise in tiger population:
    • Soon after, the number of tigers in India began to rise and by the 1990s, their population was estimated to be around 3,000. 
    • Today, there are 54 tiger reserves across India, spanning 75,000 sq km. The current population of tigers in the country stands at 3,167 as opposed to 1,411 in 2006, 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014.


  • Tigers outside protected areas & possibility of conflict:
    • The current estimate also does not give numbers on the proportion of tigers outside protected areas, which are a growing number and a key marker of the environmental threats as well as man-animal conflicts. 
    • According to the reports, Tigers are increasing outside Tiger Reserves in the landscape (Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains), Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
      • Cities in linear infrastructure projects in the congested corridor between western and eastern Rajaji (Haridwar & Dehradun) that have left the area ‘functionally extinct for large carnivores and elephant movement’.
    • The need is to invest in mitigating conflict with tigers and mega herbivores.
  • Threats to protected areas:
    • The authors of the census report warn that nearly all of the five major tiger-zones face challenges to the growth of the tiger population due to the increasing demands from infrastructure development.
  • Threats of Central Indian highlands and Eastern Ghats:
    • The wildlife habitats (Protected Areas and corridors) within the region of Central Indian highlands and Eastern Ghats face a range of threats, including habitat encroachment, illegal hunting of both tigers and their prey, conflicts between humans and wildlife, unregulated and illicit cattle grazing, excessive harvesting of non-timber forest produce, human induced forest fires, mining, and ever-expanding linear infrastructure
    • This region is also having several mines of important minerals, hence mitigation measures like lower mining impact techniques and rehabilitation of mining sites should be done on priority.
  • Health of the forests:
    • 400,000 square kilometers of forests in tiger states, only one-third are in relatively healthier condition according to the report. 

Way ahead

  • Following the translocation of cheetahs from Africa, India is now looking at international initiatives to translocate tigers into other locations.
  • Experts have said that most of the country’s tigers are focussed within a handful of reserves which are fast approaching their peak carrying capacity, and unless new regions are developed as reserves, it may be a challenge to ensure further growth in numbers.

Source: TH

Physicists Discover New Uranium Isotope

In News

  • Physicists in Japan discovered a previously unknown isotope of uranium, with atomic number 92 and mass number 241, i.e Uranium-241 and its half-life, according to theoretical calculations, could be 40 minutes.

What is Uranium?

  • Uranium is a naturally occurring chemical element with the symbol U and atomic number 92. It is a silvery-grey metal in the actinide series of the periodic table
  • Uranium has several isotopes, which are atoms that have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons like U-235 and U-238.
  • It is a heavy metal that is radioactive and found in small quantities in rocks and soils worldwide.
    • Atomic number = No. of Protons = No. of Electrons
    •  No. of Neutrons = Atomic mass- Atomic No. 

Why does a new isotope matter?

  • It re-defines the boundaries of models that physicists use to design nuclear power plants and models of exploding stars.
  • It gives essential nuclear information to understand the synthesis of such heavy elements in explosive astronomical events.

How was uranium-241 found?

  • The researchers accelerated uranium-238 nuclei into plutonium-198 nuclei at the KEK Isotope Separation System (KISS).
  • In a process called multinucleon transfer, the two isotopes exchanged protons and neutrons.
  • The resulting nuclear fragments contained different isotopes. This is how the researchers identified uranium-241 and measured the mass of its nucleus by using time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

What are Magic numbers?

  • In nuclear physics, a magic number is a number of nucleons (either protons or neutrons, separately) such that they are arranged into complete shells within the atomic nucleus.
  •   As a result, atomic nuclei with a ‘magic’ number of protons or neutrons are much more stable than other nuclei
  • The heaviest known ‘magic’ nucleus is lead (82 protons)

 Source: TH

International Prize in Statistics

In News

  • The Indian-American statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics.

About the Prize

  • It was established in 2016 and is awarded once every two years to an individual or team for major achievements using statistics to advance science, technology and human welfare.
  • It is considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the field of statistics.
  • The ultimate goal of the International Prize in Statistics is to enhance public understanding of the depth and scope of statistics.
  • It is managed by the five major statistical organizations: the American Statistical Association; Institute of Mathematical Statistics; International Biometric Society; International Statistical Institute; and Royal Statistical Society.

Work by Radhakrishna Rao

  • In his 1945 paper published in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society, he demonstrated three fundamental results that paved the way for the modern field of statistics and provided statistical tools heavily used in science.
  • The Cramér-Rao inequality is the first of the three results of the 1945 paper with applications even in quantum physics, signal processing, spectroscopy, radar systems, multiple-image radiography, risk analysis, and probability theory, among other fields.
  • The second outcome was the Rao-Blackwell Theorem, which offers a method to improve an estimate to an optimal estimate.
  • A new interdisciplinary area called ‘information geometry’ was born as a result of the paper’s third finding


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