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Prelims Capsule

Prelims bits

Prelims Bits (1st Week)

Environment and Ecology:

New Oil Fields in Namibia & Botswana:

  • About: Thousands of African elephants are under threat from plans for a massive new oilfield in Africa.
  • Context: The proposed oilfield stretching across Namibia and Botswana could destroy regional ecosystems and wildlife as well as local communities.
  • ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gas company, has leased 34,000 sq km of land in the Kavango Basin.
  • The proposed plan is going to affect 130,000 of them living in the area. The plans are the latest threat to elephants in the region.
  • Fewer than 450,000 elephants are left in Africa and hundreds of elephants are believed to be dying from an algae bloom caused by climate change in their waterholes.
  • The project could also jeopardize critical water supplies and threaten the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
  • Every element of the project from building new roads to drilling sites to refineries will devastate the ecosystem and the local communities that depend on it for agriculture and fisheries.
  • The vibrations of exploratory work disturb the elephants and the increase in construction, roads and traffic not only will they remove the animals from the area, but it will also open the way for poachers.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) made it clear that it is necessary to abandon the idea of exploiting new oil and gas fields. Extracting billions of barrels of fossil fuels from a giant new oil field in Africa would directly contradict zero emission goal by 2050.

Art and Culture:

Raja Parba Festival:

  • About: Odisha celebrating raja Parba festival to combat all the prejudices that surround the menstrual cycle and celebrates a girl’s womanhood.
  • Context: The festival is natively pronounced as ‘raw-jaw’, while ‘raja’ is derived from the world ‘rajaswala’ which means menstruating women.
  • It is a three-day-long festival dedicated to Mother Earth (Bhuma Devi) and womanhood at large. It start with a day before Mithuna Sankranti and conclude two days after that.
  • During the first three days, mother earth the wife of lord Jagannath undergoes menstruation cycle and on the fourth day she is given a ceremonial bath.
  • The first day is called Pahili Rajo. The second day is Mithuna Sankranti, which signifies the beginning of the solar month of Mithuna i.e., the rainy season.
  • The third day is Bhu Daaha or Basi Raja and fourth day is called Vasumati Snana.
  • This festival is also associated with the end of the summer season and the arrival of the monsoon and with agriculture and cultivation related communities and activities.
  • During the three days, women are given a break from household work and time to play indoor games.
  • Girls adorn traditional saree, apply alatha on foot and play around swings tied on tree branches. All people abstain from walking barefoot on the earth.
  • No construction work is done during four of celebration.
  • OTDC tried to promote the festival to remove taboo associated with menstrual cycle.
  • The festival is synonymous with varieties of cakes (pithas). Considering this, OTDC launched a special program called ‘Pitha on Wheels in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Sambalpur.

Polity:

National Company Law Tribunal-NCLT:

  • Context: NCLT has asked lenders of Siva Industries to explain the reason behind the one-time settlement by the company
  • About: NCLT was constituted under Section 408 of the Companies Act, 2013 and is a quasi-judicial body that adjudicates problems connected to Indian corporations
  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal-NCLAT was established in 2013 under Section 410 of the Companies Act and is the appellate authority for decisions, instructions, or orders issued by the National Company Law Tribunal, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and the Competition Commission of India.
  • The establishment of the NCLT and the NCLAT is a key step toward achieving a quick and effective settlement of issues involving Indian corporate.
  • Tribunals were intended to be temporary solutions to the problem of judicial delays and are a way to get the most out of cost-effectiveness, accessibility, speed, and expert knowledge.
  • Parties aggrieved by a decision of the NCLT may seek an appeal with the NCLAT.
  • Before the formation of the NCLT, any appeals against the Company Law Board’s orders would be heard by the relevant High Court, not the NCLAT.

Geography:

Coco Island history and its strategic importance for India explained:

  • Context: The marine reconnaissance and electronic intelligence station on Great Coco Island is a Chinese electronic intelligence installation that has recently received a lot of attention. The island group lies almost 300 kilometers south of the Burmese mainland in the Bay of Bengal.
  • About: In the Alexandra Channel, the Chinese Army is also constructing a facility on Coco Island. The water body is located north of India’s Andaman Islands, between the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Sea. Since 1994, China has leased two of the Coco group’s islands.
  • The Coco Islands are part of Myanmar’s Yangon area. The islands may be found 414 kilometers south of Yangon. The islands are made up of five islands: four on Great Coco Reef and one on Little Coco Reef.
  • Pourtugese sailor’s gave the islands their names. The islands were named Coco because of the abundance of coconut trees that grew on them.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar islands were conquered by the East India Company in the 18th century, and penal camps were established there. Coco islands were used to transport food and other supplies.
  • Since the 1990s, China has pursued an expansionist agenda. In the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, it is backed by Sri Lanka and Myanmar, as well as Bangladesh. China desires both economic and political expansion.
  • India possesses undeveloped resources in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while Myanmar has emerged as a supporter of China as a result of Western sanctions.

Mekedatu Project:

  • Context: Conservationists and activists are opposing the Karnataka government’s plan for Mekedatu Project on the Cauvery River.
  • About: Karnataka government is anxious to undertake the Mekedatu Project but Tamil Nadu has decided not to support since it violates the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s verdict.
  • The project, funded by the Karnataka government, is located near Mekedatu in Ramanagaram district, across the Cauvery River.
  • Its main goal is to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the region’s groundwater table.
  • The project will have a significant impact on the natural flow of the Cauvery River and will affect irrigation in Tamil Nadu.
  • Tamil Nadu opposes any project in the upper riparian zone until it is permitted by the Supreme Court.
  • The project likely to harm Flora and fauna.
  • Parts of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary are at risk of being destroyed.
  • The river originates in the Western Ghats’ Brahmagiri Hill in Kodagu district of Karnataka and flows into the Bay of Bengal via Pondicherry.
  • The river basin covers Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Puducherry.

National Maritime Heritage Complex:

  • Context: In order to showcase maritime heritage and history of India National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) will be developed at Lothal, Gujarat.
  • About: NMHC will be developed in the vicinity of the ASI site of Lothal, located about 80 km away from Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
  • It will be highlighting the cultural heritage of the country both domestically as well as to the world.
  • It will help exhibit both the robust maritime history and vibrant coastal tradition of our country.
  • The unique feature of NMHC is the recreation of ancient Lothal city.
  • NMHC would have a pavilion for each coastal state and union territories to showcase the artifacts/maritime heritage.
  • Various theme parks would be developed at NMHC such as Maritime & Naval Theme Park, Monuments Park, Climate Change Theme Park, and Adventure& Amusement Theme Park.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the State government are involved in the project, which is being handled by the Ministry of Shipping under the Sagarmala initiative.
  • The project would be a joint venture between India and Portugal.
  • The Portuguese Navy has agreed to assist with their experience of administering the maritime museum in Lisbon.
  • Lothal was one of the southernmost cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.
  • The city of Lothal was located in Gujarat, near the Gulf of Khambhat, on the Bhogava River, a tributary of the Sabarmati.
  • It was close to places where semi-precious stones and other raw materials were readily available.

Science and Technology:

Gain-of-function Research

  • Context: According to reports, the Wuhan Institute of Virology did gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, which might have resulted in the outbreak.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is thought to have originated from a lab leak.
  • About: Gain of function research is concerned with growing generations of microorganisms under circumstances that generate viral mutations.
  • The term “gain of function” refers to studies in which viruses are manipulated in such a manner that they acquire an advantage in or via a function, such as enhanced transmissibility.
  • Scientists can better forecast new infectious illnesses and create vaccines and treatments as a result of these research.
  • It entails modifying an organism in the lab, changing a gene, or creating a mutation in a pathogen in order to investigate its transmissibility and immunogenicity.
  • This is accomplished by genetically altering the virus and enabling it to grow in several growth media, a process known as serial passage.
  • Gain-of-function research entails modifying pathogenic microorganisms to make them more lethal or transmissible.
  • Gain-of-function research is referred to as “dual-use research of concern” since it is said to have inherent biosafety and biosecurity hazards (DURC).

International Relations:

Antarctic treaty:

  • Context: The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 recently turned 60 years old.
  • About: On the 1st of December 1959, a treaty was signed in Washington between 12 countries to make the Antarctic Continent a demilitarised zone to be used primarily for scientific study.
  • It went into effect in 1961 and is still the sole instance of a single treaty governing an entire continent.
  • Principal provisions of Antarctic Treaty is promoting scientific research freedom.
  • The continent can only be used for peaceful reasons by countries.
  • Military activities, nuclear tests, and the disposal of radioactive waste are all prohibited.
  • It put a freeze on any disputes between claimants over their territories on the continent.

Dakshin Gangotri was the first Indian scientific research base station in Antarctica.

  • Maitri: It was built in 1989 on the Schirmacher Oasis and has been performing geology, geography, and medicine studies since.
  • Bharti: Operational since 2012, Bharti was built to allow researchers to work safely despite the extreme weather.

Security:

Krivak or Talwar stealth frigates:

  • Context: The construction of the second Krivak or Talwar class frigate was recently inaugurated by the Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff.
  • About: The Krivak class stealth ships are being built with technology transfer from Russia by Goa Shipyard Ltd. (GSL) under ‘Make in India’.
  • They are mostly employed to carry out a range of naval tasks. For example, locating and destroying enemy submarines and big surface ships.
  • The Indian Navy presently has six Krivak class frigates in two distinct batches, each weighing about 4,000 tons. Batches are named as the Talwar class and the upgraded Teg class.
  • An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for four Krivak or Talwar stealth ships was signed between India and Russia in 2016.
  • Two of the four will be purchased straight from Russia, while the other two will be built by Goa Shipyard Ltd. (GSL).
  • The four new ships will be 300 tonnes heavier than the previous ones. Aside from that, BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles will be deployed.
  • The navy already has six Krivak III frigates in service. Between June 2003 and April 2004, the first three entered the fleet, followed by another three between April 2012 and June 2013.
  • The navy will operate ten Krivak frigates under the existing deal.

Agni Prime missile:

  • Context: In the coming days, the DRDO will conduct trials of its new missile, the Agni Prime. The ‘Agni Prime’ missile is a more sophisticated variant of the ‘Agni-1.’
  • About: Agni missiles are long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles with nuclear weapons capability.
  • Agni-I, the first missile in the series, was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989.
  • Agni – 1 has been tested many times India is all set to test a new variant of its Agni-I nuclear-capable ballistic missile, called ‘Agni Prime’.
  • The ‘Agni Prime’ is a short-range ballistic missile with a range of 1000 to 1500 km and superior agility and road mobility characteristics..
  • It is a surface to a surface missile that can carry a payload of around 1,000 Kg or a nuclear warhead. The double stage missile will be lighter and much sleeker than its predecessor ‘Agni-1’.
  • Agni-I is a single-stage missile, Agni Prime has two stages. It will have a canister version to bring down the time required to launch the missile.
  • Unlike the single-stage Agni-I, the double-stage Agni Prime will have a canister version with the flexibility to be fired from both road and rail-mobile launchers.
  • The DRDO had left the world awestruck after launching 12 missiles within a span of six weeks in September and October last year.
  • The last missile technology tested from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) of Odisha coast was Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) that will help India develop long-range air-to-air missiles.

Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region:

  • Context: The Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which is responsible for maritime domain awareness, has received a liaison officer from the United Kingdom.
  • About: It was set up in the year 2018.
  • Purpose of IFC is to coordinate with regional countries on maritime issues and act as a regional repository of maritime data.
  • It now has connections with 21 partner nations and 22 multi-national organizations across the world.
  • Information about white shipping or commercial ships, will be shared with governments in the region through this center in order to increase marine domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.
  • It will also provide training in the gathering and exchange of marine data.
  • The IFC-IOR will strengthen maritime security in the region and beyond by building a common well organized maritime situation picture.
  • The center will house liaison officials from other nations for faster information processing and timely inputs.
  • The liaison officer would be stationed at the center full-time, collaborating with the Indian armed forces and other liaison officers from partner countries to improve marine domain knowledge in the region.
  • International Liaison Officers (ILO) from 13 nations have been invited, with ILOs from Australia, France, Japan, and the US having already joined. The UK is the fifth country to submit an ILO.

Government scheme and Initiative:

Toycathon 2021:

  • Context: During a recent interaction with Toycathon 2021 participants, India’s Prime Minister asked people to be “loud for indigenous toys.”
  • About: It is joint initiative of the Ministry of Education, Women and Child Development Ministry, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Textile Ministry, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and All India Council for Technical Education.
  • It was established on January 5, 2021, with the goal of crowdsourcing creative toy and game concepts.
  • The goal was to develop creative toys based on the Indian value system that would teach children positive behavior and good values.
  • To promote India as a global manufacturing powerhouse for toys (Atmanirbhar Bharat).
  • It is based on Indian culture, tradition, ethos, heroes, local folklore, and Indian value systems.
  • Theme of Toycathon 2021 is nine themes, including fitness and sport and rediscovering traditional Indian toys.
  • Participant in the project are Students, teachers, start-ups and toy experts. Participants can get prizes upto Rs. 50 lakhs
  • Toys can help showcase India’s skills, art and culture, and society to the rest of the globe.
  • Toycathon has the potential to turn India into a toy manufacturing hub, resulting in the establishment of a ‘Toyoconomy.

LiDAR Based Survey of Forest Areas:

  • Context: The Detailed Project Reports of a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) based assessment of forest regions in 10 states were recently released by the Union Environment Minister.
  • About: The survey is conducted by WAPCOS in July 2020 at a cost of over Rs. 18 crore for implementation in 26 states.
  • It is a Mini Ratna Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • State which were covered are Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, and Tripura.
  • LiDAR technology was utilized in the survey to produce 3-D pictures of the forest regions in order to suggest soil and water conservation structures.
  • These structures will assist in capturing rainwater and preventing stream runoff, which will aid in groundwater recharge.
  • States will get funding from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) from the Indian government in order to improve water supplies inside forests to fulfill the demands of flora and fauna as well as fodder augmentation.
  • It’s a remote sensing technique that employs light in the form of a pulsed laser to detect distances and ranges.
  • A laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver are the three main components of a LiDAR device.
  • It follows simple principle: aim laser light at an item on the ground and compute how long it takes for the light to return to the LiDAR source.

Miscellaneous:

Tax Inspectors without Borders

  • Context: Recently, the Tax Inspectors without Borders (TIWB), a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), launched its programme in Bhutan.
  • About: The purpose of the TIWB initiative is to enable the sharing of tax audit knowledge and skills with the tax administrations in developing countries all over the world through a real-time and targeted ‘learning by doing approach’.
  • Under the initiative, selected experts work with the local tax officials directly on the current audits and the audit-related issues concerning the international tax matters and general audit practices for specific cases.
  • TIWB is focused on promoting hands-on assistance by sending Experts to build audit and audit-related skills about specific international tax matters and the development of general audit skills within developing tax administrations.
  • Through this India in collaboration with the UNDP and the TIWB Secretariat aims to aid Bhutan in strengthening its tax administration by transferring technical know-how and skills to its tax auditors, and through sharing of best audit practices.
  • This programme is another milestone in the continued cooperation between India and Bhutan and India’s active support for South-South cooperation.