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Prelims Capsule

Prelims bits

Prelims Bits (3rd Week)

Environment and Ecology:

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP):

  • Context: Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been approved by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) to control a possible third wave of Covid-19.
  • About: Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016. The plan was prepared by EPCA.
  • GRAP works as an emergency measure and includes strict measures such as a ban on heavy vehicle entry, odd-even road rationing limits, and a halt to building activity.
  • GRAP will objectively and transparently ensure an institutional and automatic response with regards to enforcement measures, lockdowns, and unlock activities.
  • The plan was prepared in comparison with ascent data of the four waves at specific positivity rates of 0.5%, 1%, 2%, and 5%.
  • DDMA, chaired by Lt. Governor of Delhi, was established in 2008 to provide an effective and practical framework for disaster management in Delhi.
  • The Environment Protection Act of 1986 was used to notify EPCA in 1998.
  • EPCA is a Supreme Court-mandated body tasked with addressing air pollution in the National Capital Region using a variety of techniques.

Art and Culture:

Silambam:

  • Context: GanesanSandhirakasan, an Indian, recently earned first place in a government-sponsored competition for migrant laborers in Singapore for his rendition of Silambam.
  • About:Staff Fencing is a contemporary and scientific martial art that started in Tamil Nadu.
  • It is one among the world’s oldest martial arts. S
  • silambam is derived from the words silam, which means mountain, and bam, which means bamboo, which is the principal weapon used in this type of martial arts.
  • It was delivered by the sage AgastyaMunivar and is said to have originated around 1000 BC.
  • The practice is mentioned in the Sillappadikkaram and many other works of Sangam literature, and it dates back to the 2nd century BC, but oral folk legends date it back much farther, to about 7000 years.
  • Weapons used are Bamboo staff, Maru, Aruva (sickle), Savuku (a whip),Vaal (curved sword), KuttuKatai (spiked knuckle duster), Katti (knife),Sedikuchi (cudgel or short stick)

Polity:

Office of Speaker:

  • Content: Maharashtra has been without a Speaker since February 2021 while LokSabha and several State Assemblies are without a Deputy Speaker.
  • About: The institutions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker originated in India in 1921 under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford Reforms).
  • The President and Deputy President were renamed Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively, by the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • The Speaker along with the Deputy Speaker is elected from among the LokSabha members by a simple majority of members present and voting in the House.
  • Both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are elected under Article 93 of the Constitution.
  • The Speaker comes from the ruling party.
  • The position of the Deputy Speaker of the LokSabha has varied over time.
  • Speaker is the principal spokesperson of the House, he represents its collective voice and is its sole representative to the outside world.
  • Speaker is the final interpreter of the provisions of the Constitution of India.
  • It is up to the Speaker to decide whether a bill is a Money Bill.

Economy:

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund:

  • Context: Modifications to the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) have been authorized by the Union Cabinet.
  • About: State Agencies/APMCs, National & State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs), and Federations of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are now eligible.
  • It allows for interest subvention on loans up to Rs. 2 crore in a single location.
  • If a single qualified business develops projects in several places, all of those projects is eligible for interest-free loans up to Rs. 2 crore.
  • For a private sector entity there will be a limit of a maximum of 25 such projects.
  • State agencies, national and state cooperative federations, FPO & SHG federations shall be exempt from this restriction.
  • The physical border of a village or town with its own Local Government Directory code is referred to as location.
  • The financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years till 2025-26, while the scheme’s total duration extended from 10 to 13 years until 2032-33.
  • The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) was established by the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • Aim is provide medium – long term debt financing facility. Includes post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through incentives and financial support.

Retail Direct Scheme:

  • Context: The Reserve Bank of India has announced the launch of a system that would allow individual investors to create retail direct gilt accounts (RDG) directly with the central bank.
  • About: Retail investors would need to create and maintain a RDG account with RBI in order to access the G-Sec (govt. securities) platform.
  • This account may be created using a dedicated online site that gives registered users access to government securities’ principal issuance as well as NDS-OM.
  • The Scheme, is a one-stop shop for ordinary investors looking to invest in government assets.
  • Once the scheme is launched, retail investors can buy and sell: Treasury Bills, G-Secs, Sovereign Gold Bonds and State Development Loans.
  • To open an RDG Account, a retail investor should have the following: A savings bank account, PAN, KYC documents, valid email address and a mobile number.
  • The RDG account can be held either by one person or jointly.
  • It will provide small investors with an easy way to exit.
  • It will make the whole process of g-sec trading smoother for small investors.
  • It will help the government borrow at lower interest rates.

Geography:

Flora of Sikkim:

  • Context: In a recent publication by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Sikkim, India’s smallest state with less than 1% of the country’s territory, is home to 27 of the country’s blooming plants.
  • About: A Pictorial Guide lists 4,912 naturally occurring flowering plants in the tiny Himalayan State.
  • The total number of naturally occurring flowering plants is 18,004 species, and with 4912 species, the diversity of flowering plants in Sikkim, spread over an area of 7,006 sq. km.
  • Sikkim is a part of the Kanchenjunga biosphere landscape, has different altitudinal ecosystems, provide opportunities for herbs and trees to grow and thrive.
  • From subalpine vegetation to the temperate to the tropical, provides different kinds of vegetation, and that is the reason for such a diversity of flora.
  • The people of Sikkim have a unique bond with nature and trees.
  • As per the Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules, 2017 the State government allows any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or public land by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini
  • BSI located in West Bengal, India. Comes under GOI, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s organization for survey, research and conservation of plant wealth of India, flora and endangered species of India.

BanihalQazigund Tunnel:

  • Context: BanihalQazigund Tunnel to open soon for public use
  • About: Traffic congestion was often witnessed on the existing road tunnel below the Banihal pass that affected movement on the highway, its elevation of 7,198 feet.
  • Once the tunnel is opened for the public, the road distance between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in the southern part of Kashmir will reduce by 16 km.
  • The average elevation of the newly constructed tunnel is 5,870 feet. The 8.5 km long Banihal-Qazigund tunnel project costs of 2,100 crore.
  • It is built using the New Austrian Tunneling Method.
  • It is built on build operate, and transfer base system.
  • Featuring a cutting-edge exhaust system to remove gas and bring in fresh air.
  • In both tubes of the tunnel, 126 Jet fans, 234 CCTV cameras, and a firefighting system have been installed.
  • At every 500 meters, a corridor between two tubes has been built inside the tunnel.
  • This can be used in either tube in the event of an emergency.
  • This tunnel will benefit localities a lot, as they were cut off from Kashmir during the winters.
  • Sick and pregnant women can reach to hospital in no time, students can reach to exam centre without any hurdle.
  • It is big sigh of relief as it will save time, two-hour distance can be covered in 20mins now.

Science and Technology:

dbGENVOC:

  • Context: DBT-National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani has created the world’s first database of genomic variants of oral cancer. NIBMG has made this database publicly accessible.
  • About: A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.
  • Oral cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer among men in India, largely fuelled by tobacco-chewing.
  • Tobacco-chewing causes changes in the genetic material of cells in the oral cavity. These changes (mutations) precipitate oral cancer.
  • Researches to identify those genetic mutations that drive oral cancer are ongoing. Such driver mutations may be variable across populations.
  • dbGENVOC is the world’s first of its kind database of genomic variations in oral cancer created by the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG).
  • dbGENVOC has a built-in powerful search engine. So, it is a browsable free resource.
  • It allows a reasonable extent of statistical and bioinformatic analysis to be carried out online.
  • The repository will be updated annually with variation data from new oral cancer patients from different regions of India and Southeast Asia.
  • The NIBMG has been established as an autonomous institution under the Department of Biotechnology.
  • This is the first institution in India explicitly devoted to research, training, translation & service, and capacity-building in Biomedical Genomics. It is located in Kalyani, West Bengal.

Methane-producing processes on Enceladus:

  • Context:A recently published paper has concluded that there may be unknown methane-producing processes on Enceladus (6th largest moon of Saturn).
  • About: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft detected an unusually high concentration of methane, along with carbon dioxide and dihydrogen, in Saturn’s moons by flying through their plumes.
  • New statistical methods are being used to understand if methanogenesis (methane production by microbes) could explain the molecular hydrogen and methane on Enceladus.
  • The models combined geochemistry and microbial ecology to decode what possible processes could explain these observations.
  • Methanogens are known to survive in high temperatures (even on Mars too).
  • They have been widely studied to understand if they can be a contributor to global warming.
  • It could be formed by the chemical breakdown of organic matter present in Enceladus’ core.
  • Involved agency -The mission is a cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency.
  • This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
  • Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.
  • Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan.
  • The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005.

Lymphatic Filariasis:

  • Context: Recently, the Maharashtra government has started a drug administration drive for the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and become the first state in the country to resume giving rounds of the drug after the second wave of Covid-19.
  • About: Globally considered as a neglected tropical disease (NTD).Over 40% of worldwide cases are found in India.
  • It is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. It is spread from person to person by mosquitoes. Wuchereriabancrofti is responsible for 90% of the cases.
  • Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma.It is a leading cause of permanent disability worldwide.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends three drug treatments to accelerate the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis.
  • The treatment, known as IDA, involves a combination of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine citrate, and albendazole.
  • WHO’s New Roadmap for 2021–2030: To prevent, control, eliminate and eradicate a set of 20 diseases, termed neglected tropical diseases, by 2030.
  • In 2000, WHO established the GPELF to stop transmission of infection with the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) and to alleviate suffering among people affected by the disease through morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) .
  • Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in India by 2015, later extended to 2021.
  • Twin pillar strategies of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for interruption of transmission.
  • Under it, anti-filaria drugs are administered to the eligible population once a year.

VIPER Mission:

  • Context: NASA has announced the launch of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover(VIPER) Mission in 2023.
  • About: VIPER is a mobile robot. It is the first resource mapping mission on any other celestial body.
  • NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) will be providing the launch vehicle and lander for what’s going to be a 100-day mission.
  • Any natural body outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Easy examples are the Moon, Sun, and the other planets of our solar system.
  • Objective is to explore the Moon’s South Pole region. To help create lunar resource maps.
  • To evaluate the concentration of water as well as other potential resources on its surface.
  • VIPER’s findings will help in identifying future landing sites under the Artemis program.
  • It will point to locations where water and other resources can be harvested to sustain humans over extended stays.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published the outline for its Artemis program, which plans to send the next man and first woman to the lunar surface by the year 2024.
  • The last time NASA sent humans to the Moon was in 1972, during the Apollo lunar mission.
  • Artemis I is most likely to be launched in 2021 and involves an uncrewed flight to test the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft.
  • Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test and is targeted for 2023.
  • Artemis III will land astronauts on the Moon’s the South Pole in 2024.

UV-C technology:

  • Context: The Ultraviolet-C or UV-C Disinfection Technology will be installed in Parliament soon to help prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2 through the air.
  • About: The UV-C air duct disinfection system was developed by CSIR-CSIO (Central Scientific Instruments Organisation).
  • The system is designed to fit into any existing air-ducts and can be optimized according to the existing space.
  • The virus is deactivated in any aerosol particles by the calibrated levels of UV-C light.
  • UV is a type of light or radiation naturally emitted by the Sun, it has shorter wavelengths than visible light and, therefore, is not visible to the naked eye.
  • UV is divided into three bands: UV-C (100-280 nm), UV-B (280-315 nm) and UV-A (315-400 nm).
  • UV-A and UV-B rays from the Sun are transmitted through our atmosphere and all UV-C is filtered by the ozone layer.
  • UV-C radiation has been used in hospitals, laboratories, and water treatment for decades to disinfect the air.
  • They can create health problems and are only performed in empty rooms.
  • It has the ability to destroy the Coronavirus’s protein coating.
  • While both UV-A and UV-B rays are harmful, exposure to UV-B rays can cause DNA and cellular damage in living organisms.

Zika virus:

  • Context: A case of Zika virus, transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, has been reported for the first time in Kerala.
  • About: Samples of 13 persons, suspected to be positive for Zika, have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation.
  • The confirmed case of the virus is a 24-year-old pregnant woman from Parassala in Thiruvananthapuram district who is under treatment at a private hospital, said a statement from the health department.
  • The woman sought treatment at the hospital with symptoms of fever, headache, and red spots.
  • A preliminary examination at the hospital indicated a slightpositive for Zika.
  • The woman’s condition is stable and she delivered a baby.While she has no history of travel outside the state, her house is located close to the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.
  • The health department said that once Zika virus was confirmedin the 24-year-old, officials of district surveillance, vector control unit, and state entomology unit visited Parassala and initiated measuresto combat the spread of the disease.
  • Samples of Aedes mosquito were collected from the area and have been sent for PCR testing.
  • An alert has been issued to all districts regardingthe same.
  • Zika is a viral infection, spread by mosquitoes.
  • The vector is the Aedesaegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.
  • Additionally, infected people can transmit Zika sexually.

International Relations:

Organization of Islamic Cooperation:

  • Context: The Ministry of External Affairs has rejected an offer from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to assist India and Pakistan in dialogue.
  • About: OIC is an international organisation with 57 member states and was created in 1969.
  • In the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among many peoples, the OIC strives to promote and protect the interests of the Muslim world.
  • India is not a member of the OIC.
  • At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh, the host, suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status, but Pakistan opposed the proposal.
  • India made its first visit as a guest of honour at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2019.
  • OIC has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir and has issued statements criticizing India.
  • The OIC has condemned the Indian government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the Supreme Court’s Babri Masjid judgment.
  • The OIC has also criticized the Indian government for what it describes as an increase in Islamophobia in India.
  • India has consistently stated that J&K is an integral part of India and that it is an issue that is solely within India’s jurisdiction.
  • India maintains solid bilateral relations with practically all of the other members.
  • Bangladesh and the Maldives, two of India’s closest neighbours, are members of the OIC.

Security:

Drone shield:

  • Context: With drones emerging as a serious security threat in Jammu & Kashmir, it is about to get an advance drone shield.
  • About: Drone Shield identifies and intercepts incoming missiles, Drone shield detects and intercepts drones.
  • It provides 360-degree coverage and is capable of jamming orders transmitted to a hostile drone as well as obstructing images.
  • The accuracy with which it can discharge high-powered laser beams to bring down targets is the most intriguing aspect.
  • India needs drone dome to safe guard its citizen, security forces and terror sensitive region.
  • Recently drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu, such attacks can be tackled by use of drone shield.
  • DRDO has developed two anti-drone Directed-Energy Weapon systems, one with a 10-kilowatt laser for a 2-km range and the other with a 2-kilowatt laser for a 1-km range. However, they have yet to be mass-produced in substantial numbers.
  • Indian agencies are keen to test Israel’s advanced anti drone systems, including Iron Dome technologies, that can detect and intercept drones with good precision.

Government scheme and Initiative:

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG):

  • Context: Recently Minister for Road Transport and Highways inaugurated the country’s first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility plant at Nagpur.
  • About: The Minister underlined the need of alternative biofuels and agricultural diversification in the energy and electricity sectors.
  • The Ministry created a strategy to promote the development of import-substitute, cost-effective, pollution-free, and indigenous ethanol, LNG, bio-CNG, and hydrogen fuels.
  • The Minister also stated that excess rice, corn, and sugar may be utilized as an alternative fuel.
  • LNG is liquefied natural gas, primarily methane with a small amount of ethane that has been cooled to liquid form for non-pressurized storage and transportation.
  • In the gaseous state, it takes up about 1/600th of the volume of natural gas. It is odorless, colorless, non-toxic, and non-corrosive.
  • LNG is generated from hydrocarbon resources having a diverse spectrum of hydrocarbon products, each with a distinct boiling point and heating value, allowing for a variety of commercialization.
  • Acidic elements, as well as oil, dirt, water, and mercury, are removed from LNG, resulting in a clean, sweetened gas stream.
  • Equipment damage might occur if acidic elements and contaminants are not eliminated.
  • Corrosion of steel pipes and mercury amalgamation within cryogenic heat exchangers can both be costly.

Miscellaneous:

Cryptogamic Garden:

  • Context: In the Chakrata village of Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India’s first cryptogamic garden is opened.
  • About: Deoban is chosen because of its low pollution levels and moist conditions which are conducive for the growth of these species.
  • Deoban also has pristine majestic forests of Deodar and Oak which create a natural habitat for cryptogamic species.
  • A cryptogam is a type of plant that reproduces using spores.
  • Cryptogamae implies hidden reproduction, referring to the fact that they do not produce any reproductive structure, seed, or flower.
  • Cryptogams include algae, bryophytes, lichens, ferns, and fungus.
  • Thallophyta is a group of primitive plant life with a basic plant body.
  • Bryophytes are non-vascular terrestrial plants with a limited range of species. Example- hornworts, liverworts, mosses, etc.
  • A pteridophyte is a vascular plant that disperses spores. It is the first plant to have xylem and phloem
  • Cryptogamic species are used to make a variety of medications, fragrances, and natural colors.
  • Algae are excellent at cleaning the environment.
  • Mosses have a high capacity for retaining water, making them ideal for plant transportation and packaging.
  • Lichens are useful sources of drugs, medicines, perfumery, foodstuff, dyes, bio-monitoring, and other useful compounds.
  • Fungi are essential to many household and industrial processes.

Haiti President assassinated:

  • Context:The assassination of President JovenelMoïse seemed to have thrown an already turbulent nation into chaos on Wednesday, with a muddled line of succession.
  • About: JovenelMoïse was a 48-year-old businessman and political neophyte when he was sworn in as president of Haiti on February 7, 2017.
  • The former banana producer inherited a nation in turmoil — one that had gone a year without an elected leader in place.He leaves it in chaos as well.
  • The country has struggled with political instability — along with dire poverty and crime — since the end of the brutal dictatorships of Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier from 1957 to 1986.
  • Criminal gangs this year have driven thousands of people from their homes, protesters demanding Moïse’s ouster in 2019 shutdown much of the economy and the country has yet to begin vaccinating its 11 million people against the new coronavirus, which is surging.
  • Bruno Maes, Haiti’s representative for the UN’s children agency, last month compared the gang situation to guerrilla warfare, “with thousands of children and women caught in the crossfire.”
  • Executive director of the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network, said gangs control about 60% of the country’s territory.
  • Police & the military, too, have been troubled, often targeted by gangs.The army was re-inaugurated only in 2017. It had been disbanded in 1995 after the fall of a dictatorship.