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08 February 2024 Daily Current Affairs

Mercury pollution : - Mercury (hydrargyrum) is toxic heavy metal, also known as quick silver. It was previously observed in the feathers of chinstrap penguins on King George Island.


  • Mercury is believed to reach the ocean through rivers or rain, after it evaporates into air.

  • Its pollution appears to extend south to Livingston Island and the Gerlache Strait, a natural channel off Antarctica.


Livingston Island in Antarctica

The Drake Passage is the body of water between South America's Cape Horn, Chile, Argentina and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean.


  • SourcesArtisanal mining is the main source of emissions, where it is used to collect gold by binding to it.

  • Coal combustion is another major source and is also present in products like batteries, some lightbulbs and even mascara.

  • VulnerabilityMarine mammals being at the top of the food chain, are particularly susceptible to mercury contamination.

  • Humpback whales consume large quantities of krill, small crustaceans susceptible to contamination.


2. Kilkari Programme: -


Recently, Indian government had launched a mobile health service 'Kilkari' and mobile academy in Maharashtra and Gujarat to strengthen public health infrastructure.

Mobile Academy is a free audio training course to expand and refresh the knowledge of ASHAs and improve their communication skills via their mobile phones. It is currently implemented in 17 States/ UTs.


  • Kilkari means a baby’s gurgle, is a centralized interactive voice response (IVR) based mobile health (m-health) initiative.

  • Aim – To offer weekly services, time appropriate 72 audio messages about reproductive maternal, neonatal and child health care (RMNCH).

  • Hosted byMinistry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).

  • No further investment in the technology, telephony infrastructure or operational costs is required to be borne by States/UTs.

  • Implemented in18 States / UTs, in 6 languages (Hindi, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Assamese, Bengali & Telugu version).

  • Free of cost – For both States/UTs and beneficiaries.

  • Data Source – Centralized Reproductive Child Health (RCH) portal of MoHFW.

  • Beneficiaries – Maternal mothers from the 2nd trimester of pregnancy until the child is 1 year old.

  • Working – Women registered in RCH portal, will receive a weekly call with pre-recorded audio content directly to their mobiles based on their last menstrual period or the child’s Date of Birth.

  • Audio messages are in the form of voice of a fictitious doctor character called Dr. Anita.


3 World Sustainable Development Summit 2024

Vice-President of India inaugurated the World Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi in February 2024.


Organised by: - TERI


The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an independent, research institute headquartered in New Delhi with 6 regional centres. Its aims for an equitable and sustainable future through conservation and efficient use of energy and other resources.


  • WSDS 2024 23rd edition of WSDS.

  • Umbrella theme – Leadership for Sustainable Development and Climate Justice.

  • Deliberating topics – Integrating SD, nature-based solutions, adaptation and resilience, sustainable consumption and lifestyles, addressing the energy trilemma, and climate action.

  • Vasundhara Magazine – Its 14th edition titled ‘EquiClimate’, based on the theme ‘Climate Injustice: Vulnerabilities of the Vulnerable’ will be introduced.

  • Cool it for the climate – As a behaviour change campaign, it organises a poster-making competition for school students aimed to promote simple sustainable practices.


4. Context: Recently, the Government of India decided to map and document all villages under the Mera Gaon, Meri Dharohar (MGMD) Programme.


Background:-

  • A web portal on MGMD has also been launched on 27.07.2023.


About Mera Gaon, Meri Dharohar (MGMD) Programme:-

  • Launched: 27th July 2023.

  • Ministry: Ministry of Culture.

  • Objective: The main objective of the project is to culturally map India’s 6.5 lakh villages, spanning 29 States and 7 Union Territories, on a comprehensive virtual platform.


Salient Features:-

  • It is a pan-India initiative under the National Mission on Cultural Mapping.

  • Under the MGMD, information is collected under seven broad categories as given below-

  • Arts and Crafts Village

  • Ecologically Oriented Village

  • Scholastic Village linked with Textual and Scriptural Traditions of India

  • Epic Village linked with Ramayana, Mahabharata, and/or Puranic legends and oral epics

  • Historical Village linked with Local and National History

  • Architectural Heritage Village

  • Any other characteristic that may need highlighting such as a fishing village, horticulture village, shepherding village, etc.

  • The Ministry of Culture is implementing a Scheme of Financial Assistance for the Promotion of Art and Culture consisting of 08 components through which cultural organizations are given financial assistance for the promotion of art and culture.


  • The MGMD seeks to compile comprehensive information detailing the life, history, and ethos of Indian villages and to make the same available to virtual and real-time visitors. (Vibrant Villages Programme)


Consider the following statements with reference to India: (2023)

  1. According to the ‘Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006’, ‘medium enterprises’ are those with investments in plant and machinery between (‘ 15 crores and ’25 crore.

  2. All bank loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises qualify under the priority sector.


Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only

  • 2 only

  • Both 1 and 2

  • Neither 1 nor 2



5. The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Renewables 2023 report was released recently.


Background:-

  • It paints a complex picture of the renewable energy sector, highlighting both progress and challenges.


About the International Energy Agency (IEA):-

  • It is an intergovernmental organization established in 1974.

  • Headquarters:  Paris

  • The IEA is made up of 31 member countries.

  • Objective:  to promote reliable, affordable, and clean energy for its member countries and the rest of the world.

  • The Agreement on an International Energy Program (IEP Agreement) established the mandates and structure of the IEA under the umbrella of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Eligibility Criteria for membership:


  • A candidate country to the IEA must have crude oil and/or product reserves (Strategic Oil Reserves) equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply.

  • India became an Associate member of IEA in 2017.

  • India inked a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the IEA to strengthen cooperation in global energy security, stability, and sustainability in 2021.

  • India’s current strategic oil reserves equal 9.5 days of its requirement.

  • India is not a member of the OECD but a key economic partner.

  • IEA invited India to deepen its cooperation with IEA by becoming a full Member.


Key publications of IEA :

  • World Energy Outlook (WEO)

  • Net Zero by 2050: a roadmap for the global energy sector

  • Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP)

  • Global EV Outlook (GEVO)

  • Oil Market Report

  • World Energy Investment

  • Clean Energy Transitions Programme


Practice Question :-

The term ‘West Taxes Intermediate’, sometimes found in news to a grade of (2020)

  • Crude oil

  • Bullion

  • Rare earth elements

  • Uranium


6. Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR)


Context: Recently, the Odisha Government announced to establishment of a first of its kind in the world melanistic tiger safari near the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR).


Background:-

  • The Similipal Tiger Reserve became the only home for melanistic tigers in the wild in the world, says the State Forest and Environment department.


About Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR):-

  • Location: Odisha.

  • Similipal, which derives its name from the ‘Simul’(Silk Cotton) tree, is a national park and a Tiger Reserve situated in the northern part of Orissa’s Mayurbhanj district.

  • Area: 2750 sq km.

  • It has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani.

  • Prominent tribes: Kolha, Santhala, Bhumija, Bhatudi, Gondas, Khadia, Mankadia and Sahara.

  • It was declared a ‘Tiger Reserve’ in 1956.

  • It has been included in the national conservation programme ‘Project Tiger’ since 1973.

  • The STR, along with a ‘transitional area’ of 2250 sq. km, has been included as a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 2009.

  • Flora: A mix of different forest types and habitats dominate, with Northern tropical moist deciduous dominating some semi-evergreen patches.

  • Sal is the dominant tree species here.

  • Fauna: Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Gaur, Elephant, Langur, Barking and Spotted Deer, Sloth Bear, Mongoose, Flying Squirrel,etc.


7. Indian Gray Wolf


Context: Recently, the Indian grey wolf was sighted in the confines of the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS).


Background:-

  • The National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS) is in Uttar Pradesh.


About Indian Gray Wolf:-

  • Scientific Name: Canis lupus pallipes

  • It has a wide distribution range that extends from the Indian subcontinent to Israel. There are about 3,000 animals in India, some in captivity.

  • It is a subspecies of grey wolf found from Southwest Asia to the Indian Subcontinent.

  • Its size is in the middle between the Himalayan and Arabian wolves, but because it inhabits warmer climates, it lacks the latter’s plush winter coat.

  • It is intermediate in size between the Tibetan and Arabian wolf.

  • They are nocturnal and hunt from dusk to dawn.

  • The Indian wolf inhabits areas dominated by scrub, grasslands and semi-arid pastoral agro-ecosystems. (Blackbuck)


Conservation Status:-

  • IUCN: Least Concern

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972: Schedule I

  • CITES: Appendix 1


Consider the following trees: (2023)

  1. Jackfruit (Artoca7pus heterophyllus)

  2. Mahua (Madhuca indica)

  3. Teak (Tectona grandis)

How many of the above are deciduous trees?

  • Only one

  • Only two

  • All three

  • None


8. 'Support to Students for Participating in Competitions Abroad' (SSPCA)

  • It is an initiative of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) aimed at bolstering the global competitiveness of Indian students in technical education.

  • It is designed to financially support students aspiring to compete in international scientific events.


  • Financial Assistance and Mentorship:

  • Under the SSPCA scheme, individual students or student teams are eligible to receive travel grants to partake in international competitions.

  • The assistance encompasses financial aid, mentorship, logistical support, and networking opportunities, enabling students to represent India on a global platform effectively.

  • Financial aid provided by the AICTE scheme reaches up to Rs 2 lakh per student, covering various expenses like international and domestic travel, registration fees, visa applications, accommodation, airport taxes, travel insurance, and equipment costs related to the competition.

  • Eligibility:

  • Eligibility extends to students enrolled in diploma, BE/BTech, integrated MTech, and ME/MTech programs in AICTE-approved institutions.

  • Each team of students is eligible for financial support under the scheme once during their course of study.

What is All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)?

  • It is the statutory body and the national-level council for technical education in the country.

  • It was set up in 1945 as an advisory body and later, in 1987, given statutory status by an Act of Parliament


  • Functions:

  • It grants approval for starting new technical institutions, for the introduction of new courses, and for variations in intake capacity in technical institutions

  • The AICTE has delegated to the concerned state governments powers to process and grant approval for new institutions, starting new courses and variations in the intake capacity for diploma-level technical institutions.

  • It also lays down norms and standards for such institutions. 

  • It also ensures the quality development of technical education through the accreditation of technical institutions or programmes.



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