GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Oklahoma To Become First U.S. State To Use Nitrogen Gas For Executions.


  • Oklahoma plans to start using nitrogen gas for executions, officials said on 14th March, 2018, in what would be the first such method of capital punishment in the United States.
  • The state is turning to nitrogen after it and other states became unable to acquire drugs required for lethal injections because of opposition from manufacturers to their products being used for capital punishment.
  • Nitrogen is an odourless and tasteless gas that makes up about 78 percent of the air humans breathe but causes death when inhaled without any oxygen.


Highlights Of The Development-

  • Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since 2015 after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection where an inmate was seen writhing in pain and another inmate who was executed using a drug not approved by the state.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement that the state would use nitrogen hypoxia – asphyxiation by breathing in the inert gas – as its primary means of execution once a protocol had been finalised for the process.
  • Under state law, if lethal injection is unavailable, executions must be carried out by nitrogen gas inhalation, the statement added.
  • Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a capital punishment monitor, said it would be some time before the state could seek a death warrant for an execution using nitrogen.
  • He said it faced a court order requiring it to wait 150 days until after a use protocol was published and would likely face litigation.
  • Dunham was not aware nitrogen hypoxia had ever been used anywhere in the world to execute a person. He said the American Veterinary Medical Association deemed the process inappropriate for euthanizing mammals and said it would take more than seven minutes to bring about the death of a 70-pound (32-kg) pig.
  • Dale Baich, one of the attorneys for the 20 Oklahoma death row inmates challenging the state’s method of execution, said the state needed to show what scientific research it had to prove the safety and legality of this new process.

Sources- Reuters.


GS Paper II- International Relations.

India, EU To Share Earth Observation Data From Each Other’s Satellite.


  • India and the European Union on 19th March, 2018 signed an agreement that will enable them to share earth observation data from each other’s satellite.
  • The pact was inked in Bengaluru by Philippe Brunet, director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence, on behalf of the European Commission and by PG Diwakar, scientific secretary, said a statement by an EU delegation to India.
  • The Copernicus programme provides a wide range of applications like climate change, land, ocean and atmosphere monitoring as well as support in forecasting, management and mitigation of natural disasters.


Highlights Of The Development-

  • Its full, free and open data policy has proven its merits by allowing the development of a thriving user base in Europe and beyond, the statement said.
  • On the other hand, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed an ambitious and wide-ranging earth observation programme.
  • The European Commission and India’s Department of Space (DoS), have decided to sign an arrangement with the aim to strengthen and stimulate cooperation on Earth observation and mutual access to the data from the EU’s sentinel series of satellites and from the Indian earth observation satellites, the statement said.
  • Under this arrangement, the European Commission intends to provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections from data hub to data hub.
  • Reciprocally the DoS will provide the Copernicus programme and its participating states with a free, full and open access to the data from ISRO’s earth observation satellites, including historical data sets.
  • It is intended that ISRO’s satellite data would be made available for distribution on the European ‘Copernicus hub’.
  • This comprises land, ocean and atmospheric series of ISRO’s civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Megha-Tropiques, Scatsat-1, SARAL, INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR) with the exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data.

Sources- TOI.


GS Paper III- Security.

Indian Navy Hosts Bilateral Exercise ‘Varuna’ With French Navy.


  • The Indian and French Navies are conducting joint exercise ‘Varuna’, the sea phase of which is starting on Tuesday, 20th March, 2018 in a bid to increase interoperability between the two forces, an official statement said.
  • The harbour phase of the exercise was held from March 15-19, and on Tuesday, the ships would head out for the sea phase.
  • The conduct of Varuna, and the special impetus on taking this Navy-to-Navy cooperative engagement forward, was reiterated in the Joint Statement made by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France, on March 10, 2018, the statement said.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The Varuna series of exercises have grown in scope and complexity over the years and provide an opportunity to both Navies to increase interoperability and learn from each other’s best practices.
  • Varuna-18 would be conducted on the Arabian Sea, as well as the Bay of Bengal and the South Western Indian Ocean.
  • The first phase, being conducted in the Arabian Sea, will see participation of a French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne, while the Indian naval will field destroyer Mumbai, frigate Trikand with their integral helicopters, submarine Kalvari, P8-I and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, as well as the Mig 29K fighter aircraft.
  • India and France have been conducting bilateral maritime exercises since May 1993.
  • Since 2001, the exercises have been named Varuna, and there have been fifteen editions of the same till date. The last edition of Varuna was conducted off France in April 2017.

Sources- Business-Standard.