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Indian scientists hinted ‘favourable’ conditions for life on Venus 2 years ago

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MUMBAI: Two years ago, almost to the date, three US-based Indian scientists, along with two others had indicated the possibility of life in

Venus

.

In their paper published in the magazine ‘Astrobiology’ on September 12, 2018, Sanjay Limaye, Rakesh Mogul, Parag Vaishampyan, Gazegorg Slowik and David J. Smith had stated, “The lower

cloud

layer of Venus (47.5-50.5 kms) is an exceptional target for exploration due to its favourable conditions for microbial life, including moderate temperatures and pressures.”

Their prediction titled ‘Venus Spectral Signatures and the Potential For Life In the Clouds’, now assumes significance in the context of Monday’s announcement by the Royal Astronomical Society about the discovery of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere, suggesting the possibility of life. The milestone detection was made by the world’s largest radio telescope at Atacama in

Chile

and the Clerk Maxwell Telescope in

Hawaii

.

According to the five scientists, “conditions are favourable regarding the potential for microorganisms to survive in Venus’s lower clouds”. They said that the habitability of Venus’ clouds has been a subject of discussion for several decades, yet has gained limited traction as a popular target in astrobiology research.

Investigations into the actual habitability of Venus’s clouds would ideally benefit from a mixture of orbiter, lander, airplane/balloons and a sample return mission, they opined.

Speaking to ToI on Monday, Pune-born Limaye, known as the ‘Venus Man’ among Indian space scientists, however, sounded a note of caution and advised against reaching any hasty conclusions. “More samplings may be needed of the Venusian atmosphere to detect the presence of life,” said Limayem who’s a distinguished scientist at the University of

Wisconsin

.

Limaye hoped that Monday’s announcement will encourage space agencies to focus more on Venus missions.

Mogul told ToI that “if the discovery of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere is verified in the future, it is significant”.

“I think this announcement will help to do more Venus missions,” said Mogul, a professor of biological chemistry at Cal Poly, Pomana, in

California

.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Govt tells why it stopped listing farm suicide cause

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NEW DELHI: The government on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that the national data on causes of suicides in the farming sector had become “untenable” with several states and Union Territories reporting ‘nil’ suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers, and was therefore not published separately.

Reply to a query from Congress MP P L Punia seeking confirmation of and reasons for NCRB having done away with listing causes for farmers’ suicides in its annual report on ‘ Accidents and Suicides in India’, Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said: “As informed by National Crime Records Bureau, many states/ UTs had reported “nil” data on suicides by farmers/ cultivators and agricultural labourers, even while reporting suicides in other professions. Due to this limitation, data on causes of suicide in farming sector was untenable and not published separately”.

As per the NCRB report, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported ‘zero’ suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers in 2019. This was also the case in 2018, with West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh and Puducherry returning ‘nil’ suicides.

Overall, 10,281 suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers were reported countrywide last year, down from 10,349 in 2018. Of the 10,281 suicides, 5,957 were by farmers or cultivators and 4,324 by labourers. Maharashtra accounted for the highest share (38.2%) in suicides related to the farm sector in 2019, followed by Karnataka (19.4%), Andhra (10%), MP (5.3%) and Telangana/Chhattisgarh (4.9% each).

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LS passes FCRA Bill; govt says it’s not against any religion

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NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to make furnishing of Aadhaar numbers of office-bearers of any NGO mandatory for registration and also effect other changes.

Amid concerns raised by various opposition members about The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, junior home minister Nityanand Rai asserted that the bill is not against any religion or NGO. The proposed legislation will also not stop foreign contributions in any way, he noted.

The bill, which also seeks to bar public servants from receiving funds from abroad, was passed after a discussion in the Lower House even as many opposition parties raised objections to the bill. According to Rai, there was misuse of funds by way of transferring the money to other entities and the bill seeks to curb such things. “We will stop misuse of funds,” he stressed.

Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there is a political agenda in bringing the bill and claimed that things are being done to protect PM-CARES Fund. TMC’s Sougata Roy said the bill was to tighten all the organisations getting funds from abroad. When the SC has said that Aadhaar was not compulsory, then “why should you (government) make Aadhaar compulsory,” he asked.

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‘385 Pakistanis among 409 to get citizenship’

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NEW DELHI: As many as 385 Pakistanis, six Bangladeshis, 5 US nationals and 3 Malaysians were among the 409 foreigners granted Indian citizenship until September 17 this year, the government told Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Among the countries whose nationals became Indian citizens in 2020 are Indonesia (2); and Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, UK, Tanzania, Iran and Switzerland (all one each). Junior home minister Nityanand Rai said a total 2,729 foreigners were granted Indian citizenship since 2017. Most of these were from Pakistan, with 2,120 Pakistani were granted Indian citizenship between 2017 and September 17 this year.

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