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Revision 22-30 April Current Affairs


[2016]  Consider the following pairs: (2016)


Community sometimes  mentioned in the news

In the affairs of

1.

Kurd

Bangladesh

2.

Madhesi

Nepal

3.

Rohingya

Myanmar

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2(b) 2 only(c) 2 and 3(d) 3 only


2. [2018] With reference to the governance of public sector banking in India, consider the following statements:

  1. Capital infusion into public sector banks by the Government of India has steadily increased in the last decade.

  2. To put the public sector banks in order, the merger of associate banks with the parent State Bank of India has been affected.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2


3. With reference to the management of minor minerals in India, consider the following statements:

  1. Sand is a ‘minor mineral’ according to the prevailing law in the country.

  2. State governments have the power to grant mining leases of minor minerals, but the powers regarding the formation of rules related to the grant of minor minerals lie with the Central Government.

  3. State Governments have the power to frame rules to prevent illegal mining of minor minerals.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3


4. Which of the following leaf modifications occur(s) in the desert areas to inhibit water loss?

  1. Hard and waxy leaves

  2. Tiny leaves

  3. Thorns instead of leaves

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3



Why in the news?

The Ministry of Mines has organized a pivotal summit in New Delhi aimed at fostering collaboration, sharing knowledge, and driving innovation in Critical Mineral beneficiation and processing.

What are Critical Minerals?

  • Critical Minerals are indispensable for economic development and national security, with their scarcity or concentration in specific regions posing potential supply chain vulnerabilities.

  • The declaration and identification of Critical Minerals is an ongoing process, influenced by technological advancements, market dynamics, and geopolitical factors.

Critical Minerals in India:

  • India has identified 30 Critical Minerals (July 2023) based on factors like disruption potential, import reliance, and cross-sectoral usage.

  • Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, PGE, Phosphorous, Potash, Rare Earth Elements, Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.


Global Perspective:

Various nations have outlined their lists of Critical Minerals based on unique circumstances:

  • The US recognizes 50 minerals critical for national security and economic development.

  • Japan has identified 31 minerals crucial for its economy.

  • The UK, EU, and Canada have their respective lists, reflecting their strategic priorities.

India became the 14th member of the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) in June 2023. 

  • MSP seeks to bolster critical minerals supply chains to support economic prosperity and climate objectives.

  • It seeks to ensure that critical minerals are produced, processed and recycled by catalyzing investments from governments and private sector across the full value chain.

  • Members: The other member countries are United States, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Commission.

Note: Copper, gold and silver are not on the list of minerals under MSP (Wiki).

Various Government Initiatives:

  • MMDR Act Amendment (2023):   24 minerals were designated as critical and strategic under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.

  • National Mineral Policy (2019): The updated policy emphasizes the exploration and exploitation of Critical Minerals to harness India’s mineral potential effectively.

  • Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL): A joint venture comprising National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL), and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL), KABIL aims to secure a consistent supply of Critical Minerals by acquiring and developing assets overseas.

  • Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL): It is a PSU that plays a significant role in the research and production of rare earth minerals.

India’s Critical Mineral Imports:

  • Lithium Imports: In FY23, India imported 2,145 tonnes of lithium carbonate and lithium oxide, costing Rs 732 crore.

  • Nickel and Copper Imports: The country imported 32,000 tonnes of unwrought nickel and 1.2 million tonnes of copper ore, costing Rs 6,549 crore and Rs 27,374 crore, respectively.

  • Import Dependence: India relies entirely on imports for lithium and nickel, and 93% for copper.

Country-wise dependence:

  1. China: India heavily relies on China for the import of critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.

  2. Australia: India is actively engaged with Australia for acquiring mineral assets, particularly lithium and cobalt, to secure its supply chain for critical minerals.

  3. Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile: India is engaging with these countries, known for their reserves of battery metals like lithium and cobalt, to diversify its sources for critical minerals.


Israel's Air Defence System

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system recently intercepts rockets launched from Lebanon towards Israel over the Israeli Lebanese border.

  • Israel’s air defence system is meant to provide multi-layered defences against a range of aerial threats, which includes aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).




Components of Israel’s defence system

The Arrow system

  • It is a family of anti-ballistic missiles, capable of intercepting long-range missiles.

  • It is developed in collaboration with the US.

Arrow-3

  • It has the capability of intercepting missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere and it was employed to intercept long-range missiles launched by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

  • The Houthis are believed to be backed by Iran.

The David’s Sling (or Stunner)

 

 

  • It is Israel’s medium-range air defence system, which can intercept cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and aircraft.

  • It also has an advanced phased-array radar for easier detection with a range of 300 kilometres.

  • It is Israel’s indigenous short-range air defence system.

Patriot PAC-2 and PAC-3

  • These are air defence systems that can intercept a range of missiles and target aircraft and drones made by the U.S.

F-16 and F-35

 

  • These fighter jets play a major role in air defence, being equipped with air-to-air missiles.

Iron Beam

  • Israel is developing it to intercept incoming threats with laser technology.

  • It is yet to be fully operational.


Pahariya Tribes

Jharkhand’s Pahariya tribe aims to achieve seed independence by depositing native varieties in community-led banks.

  • The name Paharia is believed to have been derived from the word Pahar meaning hills.

  • History- Pahariya tribes are the original inhabitants of the Rajmahal Hills, now known as the Santal Parganas.


They finds mentioned in Megathenes’ book as well as Hiuen Tsang’s travelogue.


Scheduled tribes - They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe by the governments of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand


Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)

Indian Navy's elite MARCOs commandos deployed on INS Talwar, seized the narcotics from a 'dhow' as part of an operation named 'Crimson Barracuda'.

  • CMFIt is a multinational maritime partnership, which exists to uphold the Rules-Based International Order (RBIO).


Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)

Established in

2001

Headquarters

Bahrain

Partnership

43 member and partner nations

India

It is member nation

  • It is the world's largest international naval partnership.

  • Aim – To uphold the international rules-based order by promoting security and stability across 3.2 million square miles of water encompassing some of the world's most important shipping lanes.

  • 5 Combined Task Force (CTF) – They are led by partner nations on a rotating basis.

  • CTF 150 – Maritime Security Operations outside the Arabian Gulf (Gulf of Oman & Indian Ocean)

  • CTF 151 – Counter-Piracy

  • CTF 152 – Maritime Security Operations inside Arabian Gulf

  • CTF 153 – Red Sea Maritime Security ( Red Sea & Gulf of Aden)

  • CTF 154Maritime Security Training


Focussed Operation Crimson Barracuda

It was the 1st time the Indian Navy conducted a drug interdiction as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

  • Focus – To counter terrorist and criminal organizations' use of the high seas to conduct smuggling operations in the Western Indian Ocean region.

  • LocationWestern Arabian Sea

  • Operation byINS Talwar which was operating in support of the Canadian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.

  • Operation – Seized 940 kg of contraband narcotics from dhow

  • It includes methamphetamines, hash and heroin  

Dhow is the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with settee or sometimes lateen sails, used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region.

Cruise Missile vs Ballistic Missile


Cruise missiles

Ballistic missiles

Operation

Powered throughout flight, manoeuvrable

Powered only in the first phase of flight, not manoeuvrable

Range

Typically 1,000 km, can be as much as 4000 km

From <1,000 km to >10,000 km, missiles are classified according to range

Trajectory

Low altitude, level trajectory — hard to detect

High altitude, parabolic trajectory — hard to detect

Precision

High, up to a few metres — fit for small, moving targets

Low precision, roughly a few 100 m — fit for larger, stationary targets

Speed

Subsonic (<Mach 1) to hypersonic (>Mach 5) — slower than ballistic missiles, possible to intercept

Can hit targets at >25,000 km/h or >Mach 20 — very fast, extremely hard to intercept even with state of art technology




Mount Erebus

Recently Mount Erebus is raining gold dust on earth 80 grams a day worth 6000 dollars.

  • Location- Ross Dependency on Ross Island in Antarctica, it is the southernmost active volcano on Earth.

  • Discovery- It was discovered by British explorer Captain James Ross in 1841, who named it after the ship HMS Erebus, which means “darkness” in Greek.

  • Stratovolcano- It is classified as a polygenetic stratovolcano, its structure consists of a shield in the bottom half and a stratocone in the top half.

  • Climate- Mount Erebus experiences extreme temperatures, with summit averages ranging from -20°C (summer) to -50°C (winter). Despite its icy slopes, steam usually rises from the summit, betraying the intense heat within.

  • Boiling lava lake- It is located in its summit crater, which has been continuously active since 1972 and emits gas plumes and lava bombs.


  • Ice fumaroles- The mountain is notable for its ice towers that form around gases that escape from vents in the surface.

  • Significance- It is the second highest volcano in Antarctica after Mount Sidley, the highest active volcano in Antarctica.

It is the 6th highest point of an island and second prominent mountain in Antarctica after Mount Vinson.
  • Golden volcano- Scientists have estimated that around  80 grams of gold is being released daily worth 6000 dollars.

Quick facts

Volcanoes in news

Location

Mount Merapi, Mount Ruang

Indonesia

Mount Villarrica

Chile

Mount Litli Hrutur, Sundhnukagigar crater

Iceland

Mount Klyuchevskoy

Russia

Great Sitkin volcano

Alaska

Hunga volcano

Tonga

Rumi Darwaza & General Wali Kothi

A heritage exhibition was organised on the occasion of World Heritage Day (April 18th) with the theme ‘Discover and experience diversity’ by the Lucknow circle of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

  • Rumi Darwaza – Often called the Turkish Gate due to its resemblance to Bab-i-Humayun gateway in Turkey.

  • Located inLucknow, between Bara Imambara and Chhota Imambara.

  • Constructed in1784, during the reign of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula.

  • It was initiated as a part of the Food for Work program during the period when the city was suffering from a severe famine.

  • Architecture – The design, which resembles Mughal, Roman and Turkish styles later known as Awadhi architecture or the Lucknow School of Architecture.

  • Unlike traditional Mughal monuments that often used red sandstone, it primarily relies on bricks with a lime coating.

  • The structure's pinnacle is decorated with a chhatri (umbrella) was illuminated by a huge lantern and the beautiful flower buds carved on the arch's sides would release little water jets.

  • It stands tall at a height of 60ft, it served as the entrance to Old Lucknow City in the past.

                                                      

General Wali Kothi

  • Located inLucknow, on the right bank or River Gomti (tributary of River Ganga).

  • Period – During the reign of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan.

  • Residential place – The 1st resident of this Kothi (house) was Shas-ud daulah, Nawab Saadat Ali Khan's elder son and chief of the army.

  • It rose to fame during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, whose brother Hashmat Ali the army chief started to live in the kothi.

  • Since Hashmat dressed as a general, the place got associated with him as 'general sahib ki kothi'.

  • Structure – It is a double floor and well ventilated palace reflecting typical British architectural style.

  • It has a number of Roman arches decorated with serpent head motifs.

  • Renovation – It was used the Uttar Pradesh State police till 2006-07 when Archaeological survey of India got it vacated and initiated restoration work.


Sinking China

A recent research reported that big cities in China are sinking under their weight, suffering from moderate to severe subsidence.

  • Study – A systematic national-scale satellite assessment of land subsidence in 82 of China’s major cities from 2015 to 2022.

  • Technology used

  • Space-borne Sentinal-1 Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR)

  • Ground-based GPS data.

  • InSAR uses highly precise radar pulses to measure the change in distance between the satellite and the ground surface.

  • FindingsNearly 50% of major cities are sinking.

  • 45% of examined urban lands are subsiding faster than 3 millimeters (mm) per year

  • 16% are subsiding faster than 10mm per year

  • The sinking is due to a range of factors, including groundwater extraction and the weight of the built environment.

  • It could affect roughly one-third of the nation’s urban population.

  • By 2120, 22-26% of China’s coastal lands will have a relative elevation lower than sea level, because of the combined effect of city subsidence and sea-level rise.

  • Recommendations – Long-term and sustained control of ground water extraction.


Global Report on Food Crisis (GRFC)

The 2024 edition of Global Report on Food Crisis (GRFC) was released.

  • Preparation – It is produced annually by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN).

  • Launched by – The Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC).

  • GNAFC – A multistakeholder initiative that includes UN organizations, the EU, the United States Agency for International Development, and NGO’s working together to tackle food crises.

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardised scale developed by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization for improving food security analysis and decision making.
  • 2024 report – It analysed a population of 1.3 billion in 2023 across 59 countries.

  • Food crisisNearly 282 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity in 59 countries in 2023.

  • It was marginally lower than in 2022, but the number of people affected increased by 24 million since 2022, marking the 5 consecutive year of rising numbers.

  • Overall, 1 in 5 people assessed were in need of critical urgent action


Childcare Leave

The Supreme Court recently said that two-year childcare leave, apart from mandatory maternity leave of 180 days is a constitutional right for woman employees.

Shalini Dharmani's plea She told the court that she has exhausted her leaves and that the Himachal Pradesh govt had refused to grant her childcare leave as the state service rules do not have a provision akin to Section 43-C of the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules.

Section 43-C of the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules, 2010

  • It allows women employees

  • To take childcare leave of 730 days till their disabled children attain 22 years of age, and

  • Women with normal child can avail till the kids reach 18 years of age.

Supreme Court’s recent judgment

  • Participation of women in the workforce is not a privilege but a constitutional mandate.

  • The bench directed the Himachal Pradesh govt to forthwith constitute a high-level committee to reconsider the entire issue of child care leave to women employees.

  • It asked the committee to engage with Union ministries concerned and file a report, recommending appropriate policy decision on inserting child care leave for women in the state service rules, before the court by July 31.


Mission ISHAN (One Nation, One Airspace)

India has kickstarted the process of unifying its 4 airspace regions into one spanning the entire nation.

  • Currently, Indian airspace is divided into 4 flight information regions (FIRs) - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai and a sub-FIR at Guwahati, each managed separately.

  • ISHAN - Indian Single Sky Harmonized Air Traffic Management at Nagpur.

  • Aim All coordination for domestic flights flying in upper airspace (above 25,000 ft) will be handled by air traffic controllers (ATCOs) in Nagpur.

  • It is expected to make air traffic operations more efficient, safer and seamless, enabling it to handle more capacity.

  • The move is also expected to benefit the passengers by reducing congestion and flying times.

  • FIRs are controlled by a single authority, which is responsible for providing air traffic services as well as alerting services.

  • The air traffic controllers (ATCOs) in every region would only be required to guide the flights approaching or taking off from an airport until they enter the upper space.

  • Benefits

  • Flexibility in flight routes

  • Reduced Travel time

  • Lower fuel consumption

  • Reduce carbon footprint


Omorgus Moreshwar

Scientist Dr Aparna Sureshchandra Kalawate recently introduced a new species of beetles named Omorgus (Afromorgus) Moreshwar.

  • The species is named after the Moreshwar temple, an ashtavinayak pilgrimage site in Pune.

  • Family - The new beetle belonged to the subgenus Afromorgus of the Trogidae family, which now had 10 species from India.

  • The new species of beetles is extremely rare and can be found only during monsoon.

  • Prey - The beetle is necrophagous (fed on dead bodies) in the last stages of decomposition and also called keratin beetle.

  • The beetle is important for forensic science as it helps detect the time of death of an animal or human.

  • Characteristics - The beetles of this group are sometimes called ‘hide beetles’ as they tend to cover their body under the soil and hide.

  • They are not photogenic, beetles are usually black or grey and encrusted in dirt.

  • Appearance - Their bumpy appearance is distinct, with short, dense setae all over the body.

  • After an organism died, blowflies were amongst the first to arrive in the early stages of decomposition.

  • The final stage saw the arrival of the newly discovered beetle which fed on the corpse.



World Energy Congress & World Energy Council

India is showcasing its innovative technologies and power generation practices, at the 26th World Energy Congress, being held in Rotterdam, Netherlands recently.

About 26th World Energy Congress

  • The 26th World Energy Congress is expected to be a critical turning point for leadership on clean and inclusive energy transitions worldwide.

  • Theme- Redesigning Energy for People and Planet’.

  • Co-hosted by - The World Energy Council and the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

  •  This edition celebrates 100 years since the Council’s formation and the 1st World Energy Congress.

  • The Congress seeks to explore the role of connected energy societies in driving forward global energy transitions in a world context.

  • The World Energy Congress is the world’s longest-established energy event, having shaped the global energy agenda for a century.

  • It enables the highest levels of government-to-government dialogue and unites businesses and communities of all shapes and sizes.

About World Energy Council India

  • World Energy Council (WEC) is a global body established in 1923, with the aim of promoting sustainable supply and use of energy.

  • Headquarters - London.

  • The idea for the foundation of the Council came from Daniel Nicol Dunlop in the 1920s.

  • It is an UN-accredited global energy body that has convened diverse interests from across the full energy ecosystem for a century.

  • It has over 3,000 member organisations and a presence in nearly 100 countries.

  • WEC India is one of the earliest country members of World Energy Council, having joined the Council in 1924.

  • WEC India functions under the patronage of Ministry of Power, Government of India and with the support of the Ministries of Coal, New & Renewable Energy, Petroleum & Natural Gas and External Affairs.


UNICEF Venture Fund Pledge

26 Start-Ups recently Announced as Founding Members of UNICEF Venture Fund Pledge.

UNICEF Venture Fund

  • The Venture Fund was launched by UNICEF in 2014 and invested in its first cohort in 2016.

  • The UNICEF Venture Fund is a $35 million+ fund that invests in for-profit startups registered in emerging economies.

  • It invests in frontier technology spaces, such as blockchain, drones, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, extended and virtual reality.

  • The fund makes equity-free investments of $50–100K in technologies for children.


UNICEF Venture Fund Pledge

  • It is a voluntary commitment by graduates of the Venture Fund's seed-stage investment period to donate a portion of their financial success to the fund.

  • Early-stage companies that can't provide financial support can pledge in-kind support.

  • The fund's goal is to help identify and grow innovations for children by investing in open-source, early-stage technologies with the potential to impact children globally.

  • Working - Graduates of the Venture Fund’s seed-stage investment period are invited to make a voluntary pledge to share a proportion of their financial success in the form of a donation.

  • In-kind support is pledged in lieu of financial support from early-stage companies committed to ‘give forward’.

  • Pledge members, with support from the Fund, will receive a ‘soft-landing’ after their graduation by being part of a network of mission-aligned, multidisciplinary tech entrepreneurs.

  • When pledges are fulfilled and members become donors to the Fund, they unlock the potential to partner with UNICEF to accelerate progress for children globally.



Shompen Tribes

Great Nicobar’s particularly vulnerable tribal group, Shompen, cast their vote for the first time in the Andaman and Nicobar Lok Sabha constituency.

  • The Shompen are an indigenous tribe who live in the rainforests of Great Nicobar Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

  • The Shompen have lived on the island for around 10,000 years.

  • The Shompen tribe is one of the 6 main tribes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, along with the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, and Nicobarese.

  • The Shompen are one of the most isolated tribes on Earth and have an estimated population of 200–300 people.

  • The Shompen are divided into 7 groups based on their concentration and bands.

  • They live in the areas of Galathea, Alexandria, Dagmar and Jubilee river basins, and the seacoasts.

  • Diet - The Shompen are nomadic hunter-gatherers who primarily hunt wild pig, python, monitor lizard, crocodile, and sea turtle.

  • They also collect a wide variety of forest plants, but their staple food is the pandanus fruit, which they call larop.

  • PVTGs - They are one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India.

 

Biohacking

Biohacking is picking up in India, with followers trying everything from cryotherapy to IV therapy.

  • Biohacking involves someone making incremental changes to their body, diet, and lifestyle to improve their health and well-being. Also known as human enhancement, biohacking ranges from efforts to improve brain function to faster weight loss.

  • Nootropics- It is a popular form of biohacking that includes a group of substances called nootropics, or “smart drugs. It consists of

  • Prescription nootropics- It consists of medicines prescribed by doctor and

  • Non-prescription nootropics- It consists of tablets, supplements, drinks, and foods.

  • Wearable technology-Fitness tracker, smart watches etc.,  play a key role in providing real-time data on various aspects of health, which can then be used to make adjustments to lifestyle and behaviour.

  • DIY biohacking- It involves experts in scientific fields sharing biohacking techniques and information with people who are not experts, this allows more people to conduct experiments on themselves outside of a constrained environment.

  • Nutrigenomics- It focuses on how food interacts with people’s genes, it also how a person’s genes affect their body’s response to food.

  • Grinders- They are biohackers who consider themselves pioneers of human augmentation, it typically involves devices implanted under the skin and the use of technology to perform body modifications.

Benefits

Challenges

  • Personal empowerment- Biohacking empowers individuals to take control of their own health and well-being by experimenting with different lifestyle choices and interventions.

  • Healthcare innovation- It fosters a DIY (do-it-yourself) approach to health and wellness, which can lead to the development of new technologies, treatments, and interventions that may not be explored within traditional medical research settings.

  • Personalisation- It promotes the idea of personalized medicine and interventions tailored to an individual's specific needs, genetics, and lifestyle factors.

  • Explore human potential- Biohacking pushes the boundaries of human potential by exploring ways to enhance physical and cognitive capabilities beyond what is considered "normal”.

  • Community collaboration- Biohacking has fostered a community of like-minded individuals who share knowledge, experiences, and resources.

  • Safety risks- DIY genetic engineering or self-experimentation with untested substances, carry inherent safety risks without proper oversight and regulation.

  • Ethical concerns- It raises ethical questions regarding the boundaries of self-experimentation, the potential consequences of altering human biology, and the equitable distribution of access to emerging technologies and interventions.

  • Regulatory challenges- The rapidly evolving nature of biohacking poses challenges for regulatory agencies tasked with overseeing the safety and efficacy of medical treatments and interventions

  • Growing inequality- Accessibility to afford advanced biohacking tools and interventions may gain disproportionate advantages in terms of health and performance, widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.

  • Privacy concerns- Biohacking technologies, such as wearable devices and implantable sensors, raise concerns about data security and privacy as they are vulnerable to hacking or unauthorized access leading to potential privacy breaches or misuse of sensitive data.


Nilgiri Tahr Survey

India’s first synchronised census of endangered Nilgiri Tahr will be conducted under Project Nilgiri Tahr by Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

  • Scientific name - Nilgiritragus hylocrius

  • Taxonomy-- It is a congener of the

  • Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), found in Kashmir and Bhutan and

  • Arabian tahr (Arabitragus jayakari), found in Oman and United Arab Emirates.

  • Uniqueness- It is the only mountain ungulate (large mammals with hooves) in southern India amongst the 12 species present in India.

  • Population estimates - 3,122 individuals in the wild (as per a report released by WWF India in 2015)

  • Habitat- It is a sure-footed (not likely to slip) ungulate that inhabits the open montane grassland habitats at elevations from 1200 to 2600 m of the South Western Ghats.

  • Distribution- It is endemic to Western Ghats but currently large populations are found only in Nilgiris and Anamalais.

  • Palani hills, Srivilliputtur, and the Meghamalai and Agasthiyar ranges holds smaller population.

  • Eravikulam National Park- It is in Kerala which is the home to the largest population of the Nilgiri tahr, with more than 700 individuals.

Every 12 years, this place will be carpeted with blue due to the mass flowering of Neelakurinji flowers
  • Anamalai Tiger Reserve- It is estimated to be the second biggest habitat for the Tahr after Eravikulam National Park, the Grass Hills National Park is the home to the largest population believed to be over 200 individuals.

  • Threat – Habitat loss and occasional hunting for its meat and skin.

  • Conservation status

  • IUCN status – Endangered

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972 - Schedule I

  • State animal of Tamil Nadu- The State celebrates October 7 as Nilgiri Tahr Day to honour hunter-turned-conservationist ERC Davidar.

Project Nilgiri Tahr

  • Initiative by- Tamil Nadu

  • Launch year- 2022

  • Aim- To protect and conserve Nilgiri Thar

  • Objectives-

  • To develop a better understanding of the Nilgiri Tahr population through surveys and radio telemetry studies

  • Reintroduce the Tahr to their historical habitat.

  • Address proximate threats.

  • Increase public awareness of the species.

  • Head- By a Project Director

  • Members- The project will be assisted by a team which includes Assistant Director, senior scientists, research fellows and field staffs.

  • Time frame- 5 year period from 2022 to 2027.

  • Fund- By Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board

First synchronised survey

  • Methodology-It is a 3-day census that would be done based on bounded count and double observer methods would be used to estimate the population of the species.

  • Collaborative efforts- It is a joint task by the Forest Departments of Tamil Nadu (Project Nilgiri Tahr) and Kerala focusing in both states.

  • Scientific approach- It is supported by WWF- India, Wildlife Institute of India and Nature Conservation Foundation to ensure accurate population.


REACH Standards: -


Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union regulation dating from 18 December 2006. REACH addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.


Quick facts regarding KALVARI CLASS

Project-75 (Kalvari class)

Meaning

Commissioned Year

Tiger Shark

2017

Island Fort built by Chhatrapati Shivaji

2019

Island located South of Mumbai

2021

 

2021

Sand Fish

2023

INS Vagsheer

Sand Fish

Launched in 2022 (under trails)

Supreme Court stand on Streedhan Property

The Supreme Courtreiterated that stridhan is an “absolute property” of a woman, and while the husband has no control over the same.

  • Streedhan properties - Properties gifted to a woman before marriage, at the time of marriage or at the time of bidding farewell or thereafter are her streedhan properties.

  • It is her absolute property with all rights to dispose at her own pleasure.



  • Supreme Court verdict Streedhan property does not become a joint property of the wife and the husband, and the husband has no title or independent dominion over the property as its owner.

  • The husband may use it during the time of his distress but nonetheless he has a moral obligation to restore the same or its value to his wife.


Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary

The Supreme Court has stayed the construction of 4 dams in the Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary following the Wildlife Institute of India’ report.

  • Location – Haryana

  • Notified in - 1996

  • Kalesar National Park (KNP) and Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary (KWLS) is the westernmost tip of the Terai Arc Landscape with the Shivalik mountain range.

Kalesar National Park is named after the Kaleshwar (shiva) temple located in protected area. The Yamuna River flows on the one side of the park.
  • Coverage - An area of 11,000 acres

  • The sanctuary derives its name from the Kalesar forest, which is a part of the reserve.

  • Important flora – Red junglefowl, grey partridge, Indian peafowl, and white-throated kingfisher.

  • The Kalesar forest boasts a dense cover of Khair and Sal trees.

  • Important fauna - Leopards, sambar deer, barking deer, hyenas, jackals, Indian porcupines, Indian pangolins, and langurs.

  • Key features - The topography varies from plains to hills up to an elevation of 700 m, interspersed with narrow valleys locally called ‘khols’ between the hills.

  • These valleys house seasonal rivulets locally called ‘soats’ which remain dry for most of the year.

  • This site qualifies as a key biodiversity area of international significance (including Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, and Key Biodiversity Areas).

  • Dams within Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary - Chikan, Kansli, Khillanwala and Ambawali.


Why in the news?

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is gearing up to defend India’s human rights processes at a critical meeting of Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in Geneva.

  • A decision on retaining India’s NHRC’s “A status” accreditation is imminent at this summit.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)


Details

Establishment

  • A Statutory Body;

  • Established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Functions

  • Inquire into any violation of human rights

  • Recommend immediate interim relief to victims or their families

  • Intervene in court proceedings involving human rights violations

  • Review constitutional and legal safeguards for human rights

  • Study international instruments on human rights

  • Promote human rights literacy

  • Support the efforts of NGOs working in the field of human rights

Powers

  • Regulate its own procedure

  • Possess all the powers of a civil court

  • Proceedings have a judicial character

Chairperson

  • Must be a former Justice of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

  • Appointed by the President of India

Members

  • Four full-time members;

  • Chairperson: former Supreme Court Justice or Chief Justice;

  • Other Member: former Judge of the Supreme Court;

  • Other Member: former Chief Justice of a High Court;

  • Three Members: with knowledge or experience in human rights, including at least one woman –

  • Seven ex-officio members:  Chairpersons of National Commissions viz., National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women , National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

Appointment

  • Appointed by the President, based on a committee recommendation including the Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Home Minister, Leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and others

  • Consultation with the Chief Justice of India for judicial appointments

Removal

  • Removal by order of the President of India

  • Consultation with the Supreme Court before removal

Terms of Office

  • Hold office for a term of three years or until the age of 70

  • Ineligibility for further government employment after office

  • Eligible for reappointment

Salaries

Determined by the Central government

Reporting

  • Submits annual or special reports to the Central government and the concerned State government

  • Reports laid before the respective legislatures, along with a memorandum of action taken on the recommendations and reasons for non-acceptance of any recommendations

Limitations

  • The commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting the violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed

  • Functions are recommendatory in nature, with no power to punish or award relief to violators

  • Limited role concerning armed forces violations

 

GANHRI Concerns about India’s NHRC

India’s NHRC faced a potential downgrade in its accreditation status in 2023 due to concerns raised by the SCA regarding its operational independence and composition.

  • Political Interference: The NHRC-India faced objections related to political interference in appointments, compromising its independence.

  • Police Involvement: Involving the police in probes into human rights violations raised concerns about impartiality and fair investigations.

  • Lack of Cooperation: The NHRC’s poor cooperation with civil society was criticized, hindering its effectiveness in protecting human rights.

  • Lack of Diversity: The GANHRI highlighted the lack of diversity in staff and leadership positions within the NHRC. There is also lack of gender and minority representation.

  • Insufficient Protection of Marginalized Groups: The NHRC was found to have taken insufficient action to protect marginalized groups, contrary to the U.N.’s principles on national institutions (the ‘Paris Principles).

Back2Basics: GANHRI (Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions)

Purpose

Promote and protect human rights globally

Year Established

1993

Headquarters

Geneva, Switzerland

Members

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from 114 member institutions

Key Functions

  • Promoting and strengthening NHRIs worldwide

  • Advocating for human rights at national, regional, and global levels

  • Facilitating cooperation and sharing of best practices among NHRIs

  • Providing capacity-building support to NHRIs etc.

Organizational Structure

  • President: Elected from GANHRI members for a specified term

  • Bureau: Assists the President in overseeing GANHRI’s work

  • Sub-Committees: Focused on specific thematic or regional issues

Key Documents

  • Paris Principles: Provide guidance for the establishment and operation of NHRIs

  • GANHRI Strategy: Outlines the organization’s strategic objectives and actions

Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA)

  • Part of a five-year peer evaluation cycle for all 114 member institutions of GANHRI.

  • Accreditation status holds significance as it determines its voting rights at international human rights forums.


Why in the news?

NASA has launched its Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3) spacecraft that uses sunlight for propulsion from New Zealand into space.

About Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3) Project

  • The spacecraft is slated to orbit 1,000 kilometers above Earth, deploying an 80-square-meter solar sail approximately 25 minutes after liftoff.

  • It harnesses sunlight as a renewable propulsion source, marking a novel advancement in space exploration.

  • It uses a compact CubeSat, similar in size to an oven, which facilitates propulsion by capturing solar particle energy.

  • Operational Phases:

  • The initial flight phase spans two months and involves subsystems checkout and solar sail deployment.

  • A series of pointing maneuvers will showcase orbit raising and lowering, validating the effectiveness of sunlight pressure on the sail.

The Technology Behind: Solar Sailing

  • Solar sailing, also known as solar sailing propulsion, is a method of spacecraft propulsion that utilizes the radiation pressure exerted by sunlight to propel a spacecraft forward.

  • Unlike traditional rocket propulsion, which relies on the expulsion of mass (such as fuel) to generate thrust, solar sailing harnesses the momentum transfer from photons (particles of light) emitted by the Sun.

  • The concept of solar sailing is based on the principle of momentum exchange.

  • When photons from the Sun strike a large, reflective sail attached to a spacecraft, they transfer momentum to the sail, causing it to accelerate.

  • This acceleration gradually builds up over time, allowing the spacecraft to achieve high velocities without the need for onboard fuel.

  • Solar sails typically consist of lightweight, reflective materials such as Mylar or aluminized Kapton, which are deployed in space to capture sunlight.

  • The sail is often configured as a large, thin membrane with a large surface area to maximize the amount of sunlight it can intercept.


Q. What is ‘Greased Lightning-10 (GL-10)’, recently in the news?

(a) Electric plane tested by NASA

(b) Solar-powered two-seater aircraft designed by Japan

(c) Space observatory launched by China

(d) Reusable rocket designed by ISRO



Why in the news?

  • The WWF has issued a stark warning regarding the dredging of the Pripyat River, adjacent to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site.

  • Concerns mount as the Pripyat River could transform into a permanent repository of radioactive substances, contaminating the water and food sources.


About Pripyat River

  • Pripyat River is a significant waterway in Eastern Europe. It flows through Ukraine, Belarus, and a small portion of Russia.

  • It is primarily situated within the Polesian Lowland, a region characterized by marshes, wetlands, and forests.

  • The Pripyat River is approximately 761 km (473 miles) long.

  • Physical Features:

  • Tributaries: It has numerous tributaries, including the Stokhid River, Styr River, and Horyn River. The largest tributary of the Pripyat is the Teterev River, which joins it from the right bank.

  • Drainage Basin: Its basin covers an area of around 121,000 square kilometers (46,700 square miles). It is one of the major tributaries of the Dnieper River, which eventually flows into the Black Sea.

Notable event: The Pripyat River gained international attention due to its proximity to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, where the catastrophic nuclear accident occurred in 1986.

About Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

  • The Chernobyl Disaster occurred on April 26, 1986.

  • It took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the town of Pripyat in northern Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.

  • The explosion and subsequent fire released a large amount of radioactive material such as cesium-137 and strontium-90 into the atmosphere, resulting in widespread contamination.

Q. Consider the following pairs?

River — Flows into

  1. Mekong — Andaman sea

  2. Thames — Irish Sea

  3. Volga — Caspian Sea

  4. Zambezi — Indian Ocean

Which of the pairs above is/are correctly matched?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) Only 3

(d) None of the above/More than one of the above




Why in the news?

Tiwa tribals dance recently celebrated the Yangli festival at Bormarjong village, in Karbi Anglong district, Assam.

About Tiwa Tribals

  • Tiwa tribes, also known as Lalungs, inhabit both the hills and plains of Assam and Meghalaya states.

  • They hold the status of a Scheduled Tribe in Assam.

  • The hill-dwelling Tiwa villagers engage in traditional practices such as Jhum cultivation, horticulture, and the cultivation of local crops and vegetables.

  • Their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman linguistic group.

 About Yangli Festival

  • The Yangli festival is celebrated before starting the paddy sowing

  • It is also known as the Lakshmi Puja of the Tiwa people.

  • It is celebrated with traditional rituals, emphasizing the community’s strong ties to agriculture, their primary livelihood.

  • It serves as an occasion for prayers seeking a bountiful harvest and divine protection for crops against pests and natural calamities.

  • It is held once in 5 years.

  • In April, Khelchawa festival is celebrated by Tiwa tribes marking close of the harvest season.



Why in the news?

Rajasthan’s barren Thar Desert may turn green, says a recent study in the journal Earth’s Future.



  • The Thar Desert is the 18th largest subtropical desert globally and is one of the most densely populated deserts.

  • Approximately 40% of the human population in Rajasthan resides in the Thar Desert.

  • It extends from the Sutlej River and is bounded by the Rann of Kutch, the Aravalli Mountains, and the Indus River.

  • About 85% of the Thar Desert is located in India, with the remainder in Pakistan.

  • In India, it spans across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, and Punjab as well.

  • Civilizations are believed to have thrived in the Thar region around 50,000 years ago across the extinct Saraswati River.

  • The Desert National Park (home to the endangered Great Indian Bustard, desert fox, desert cat, blackbuck, and Indian gazelle) is situated in the Thar Desert in the northwest Indian state of Rajasthan.

Why is the Thar desert getting greener?

  • Climate Change Effects:

  1. Alteration of Weather Patterns: Climate change is causing shifts in rainfall distribution in the thar desert area.

  • Potential for Vegetation Growth: The increased precipitation could provide favorable conditions for vegetation growth, contributing to the greening of the desert.

  • Indian Monsoon Dynamics:

  1. Westward Extension of Indian Monsoon: The Indian monsoon, known for bringing heavy rainfall to eastern India, is now extending further westward into regions like the Thar Desert.

  • Impact on Moisture and Rainfall: This change in monsoon dynamics could lead to increased moisture and rainfall in the desert region, facilitating the growth of vegetation.

  • Expansion of Indian Ocean Warm Pool (IOWP):

  1. Influence on Monsoon Patterns: The Indian Ocean Warm Pool (IOWP) influences monsoon patterns and rainfall distribution over the Indian subcontinent.

  • Westward Expansion due to Climate Change: Climate change is causing the IOWP to expand westward, potentially resulting in increased rainfall over semi-arid regions like the Thar Desert and promoting greening.

  • Water Management Practices:

  1. Contribution to Greening: Effective water management practices, such as rainwater harvesting and irrigation techniques like johad, kuis, and kunds, may be playing a role in the greening of the Thar Desert.

  • Utilization of Water Resources: By harnessing and efficiently utilizing available water resources, local communities and authorities can support vegetation growth and ecosystem restoration efforts in the desert.

  • Introduction of Irrigation  

  1. Commercial Cropping: Irrigation was introduced during British colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries to convert arid and semi-arid ecosystems into cropland.

  • Restrictions on Grazing: The right to graze animals was restricted to landowners who cultivated crops, leading to the transformation of nomadic pastoralists into sedentary agropastoralists.



Why in the news?

  • Settlement of claims for local communities within Pulicat Wetland and Birds Sanctuary boundary raises concerns.

  • State government plans to denotify a significant portion of the sanctuary and Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) for industrial park development.

About Pulicat Wetland and Birds Sanctuary

  • Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is the second-largest bird sanctuary in India.

  • It cuts across Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu.

  • The sanctuary is situated along the coast of the Bay of Bengal covering an area of 759 square kilometers.

  • The sanctuary is bordered by the Arani River at its southern tip, the Kalangi River from the Northwest, and the Swarnamukhi River at the northern end.

  • Pulicat Lake runs parallel to the Bay of Bengal and has a sand bar, making it a lagoon of its own kind.

  • Sriharikota, renowned as India’s rocket launch pad and home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal.

  • The sanctuary includes 16 island villages and 30 villages adjoining the lake, whose inhabitants depend on the lake for their livelihood.

  • Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary hosts a large number of migratory birds during winter, including gulls, terns, plovers, shanks, curlews, and storks.

  • It is a habitat for a variety of bird species such as flamingos, pelicans, storks, herons, and ducks.

What are the Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?

  •  Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.

  • They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.

 How are they demarcated?

  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does NOT mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.

  • However, Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall be carried out or shall not, subject to certain safeguards.

  • Besides Rule 5(1) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of certain considerations.

  • The same criteria have been used by the government to declare No Development Zones (NDZs).

Defining its boundaries

  • An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.

  • Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.

  • Further, even in the context of a particular Protected Area, the distribution of an area of ESZ and the extent of regulation may not be uniform all around and it could be of variable width and extent.

 

PYQ:

 [2017] Consider the following statements:

1. In India, the Himalayas are spread over five States only.

2. Western Ghats are spread over five States only.

3. Pulicat Lake is spread over two States only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only


Why in the news?

Indonesia witnessed a series of eruptions from Mount Ruang, a stratovolcano located in North Sulawesi Province.


About Mount Ruang 

  • Ruang is situated in the Sangihe Islands arc, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

  • It comprises an island that is 4 by 5 kilometers wide, with a summit containing a partial lava dome reaching an altitude of 725 meters (2,379 ft).

  • From its summit, peaks such as Klabat, Siau, and Ternate can be observed in the south, north, and east, respectively.

  • The volcano’s first recorded eruption was in 1808.

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