Britain celebrates 800 years of Magna Carta

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, a medieval political truce that inspired protections for some of the world’s most cherished liberties, recently began in Britain. Magna Carta is seen as the foundation of parliamentary democracy, human rights and the supremacy of law.

What is Magna Carta?

‘Magna Carta’ is a Latin word and means “Great Charter”. The Magna Carta was one of the most important documents of Medieval England.

  • Magna Carta is considered one of the first steps towards parliamentary democracy and includes the principle that no one is above the law, including the king.
  • It was signed on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede.
  • The document was a series of written promises between the king and his subjects that he, the king, would govern England and deal with its people according to the customs of feudal law. Magna Carta was an attempt by the barons to stop a king John abusing his power with the people of England suffering.
  • It was drafted to make peace between the unpopular King and rebel barons, it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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Goce gravity boost to geothermal hunt

The hunt for sources of geothermal energy is getting a boost from new observations of the Earth made from space. The data comes from Europe’s Goce satellite. It mapped Earths gravity field from 2009 to 2013 at high resolution.

How data collected from satellite will help?

  • Information about variations in gravity across the planet could help prospectors find promising locations where sub-surface heat can be exploited to generate electricity.
  • This keen sensing is expected to narrow the search for prime spots to put future power stations.
  • Goce’s maps are expected to shortcut some of the effort by pinpointing regions of the world with the best characteristics, such as where the continental crust is at its thinnest.
  • By processing Goce’s data in special ways, scientists can also tease out details of the different rock layers and structures within the Earth.

Although a large potential resource, geothermal currently accounts for less than 1% of the world’s electricity generation. Part of that comes down to the huge costs of exploration.

GOCE satellite:

The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) was the first of European Space Agency’s Living Planet Programme satellites intended to map in unprecedented detail the Earth’s gravity field.

  • The spacecraft’s primary instrumentation is a highly sensitive gravity gradiometer consisting of three pairs of accelerometers which measures gravitational gradients along three orthogonal axes.

Why was the Satellite launched?

  • To determine gravity-field anomalies with an accuracy of 10−5 m·s−2 (1 mGal). To increase resolution, the satellite flew in an unusually low orbit.
  • To determine the geoid with an accuracy of 1–2 cm.
  • To achieve the above at a spatial resolution better than 100 km.

The final gravity map and model of the geoid will provide users worldwide with well-defined data product that will lead to:

  • A better understanding of the physics of the Earth’s interior to gain new insights into the geodynamics associated with the lithosphere, mantle composition and rheology, uplift and subduction processes.
  • A better understanding of the ocean currents and heat transport.
  • A global height-reference system, which can serve as a reference surface for the study of topographic processes and sea-level change.
  • Better estimates of the thickness of polar ice-sheets and their movement.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Cameron and Conservatives get majority in British election

Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservatives have won a resounding victory in the British general election. The party has secured an overall majority in Parliament.

  • Cameron will continue as Prime Minister for the second term.

Basic facts regarding United Kingdom general elections:

  • There are six types of elections in the United Kingdom:
    1. UK general elections,
    2. elections to devolved parliaments and assemblies,
    3. elections to the European Parliament,
    4. local elections,
    5. mayoral elections
    6. Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
  • The United Kingdom general election of 2015 was held on 7 May 2015 to elect the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  • There are 650 parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom and each elects one Member of Parliament to seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament using the “first past the post” system..
  • If one party obtains a majority of seats, then that party is entitled to form the Government.
  • If the election results in no single party having a majority, then there is a hung parliament. In this case, the options for forming the Government are either a minority government or a coalition government.

First-past-the-post:

A first-past-the-post election is one that is won by the candidate receiving more votes than any others. Under first past- the-post, a country/area is divided into numerous voting areas, i.e. constituencies or wards.

  • It is one of the several plurality voting systems.
  • First-past-the-post voting methods can be used for single and multiple member elections. In a single member election the candidate with the highest number, not necessarily a majority, of votes is elected.
  • In a multiple member first-past-the-post ballot, the first number of candidates, in order of highest vote, corresponding to the number of positions to be filled are elected.

Following features of the Indian constitution were borrowed From the Constitution of U.K:

  1. Nominal Head – President (like Queen)
  2. Cabinet System of Ministers
  3. Post of PM
  4. Parliamentary Type of Govt.
  5. Bicameral Parliament
  6. Lower House more powerful
  7. Council of Ministers responsible to Lower House
  8. Speaker in Lok Sabha

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Commemorative Celebrations of World War -1

Indian Army is Commemorating the Centenary of the First World War from 10 Mar to 14 Mar 2015 in New Delhi in memory of the 1.5 million Indian Soldiers who fought in the war and over 74000 who made the supreme sacrifice.

  • 10th March coincides with the Battle of Neuve Chapelle marking the British Offensive in Artois region of  France in which the Garhwal Brigade & Meerut Division of the Indian Corps participated.
  • The time period 2014 to 2018 is being commemorated as the Centenary of World War-1.

Sources: PIB.