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Prelims Capsule

Prelims bits

Prelims Bits (4th Week)

Environment & Ecology:

Marine Megafauna:

  • Context: Bycatch along the Indian coast poses a significant threat to enigmatic
  • About: A recent drone shot of a whip ray snagged by a fishing net along the Visakhapatnam coast has brought the spotlight on the issue of bycatch (the incidental capture of non-target species such as dolphins, marine turtles and rays) and its threat to marine megafauna.
  • The recent Netflix documentary Seas piracy highlights the unfathomable levels of bycatch happening across the world and made a strong criticism for bottom trawling and “death nets”.
  • According to researchers, bycatch poses a significant threat to marine megafauna such as elasmobranchs comprising sharks, rays, skates and sawfish.
  • Recent research suggests that with fishing effort increasing worldwide, there is a need to evaluate strategies intended to reduce marine megafauna bycatch.
  • About 9,000 to 10,000 aquatic mammals Professional are killed by gillnets every year along the Indian coast, as highlighted by the Union Environment Ministry in the Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Management Guidelines released earlier this year.
  • Research data indicates that India has one of the highest elasmobranch landings (catches of marine fish) globally.
  • The absence of regulations with respect to bycatch has made the issue more complex.
  • Elasmobranchs are particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to their slow growth and are one of the most threatened marine animal groups across the world.

Great Indian Bustard:

  • Context: The Supreme Court has decided to examine on a priority basis whether overhead power cables in natural habitats of Great Indian Bustards in Rajasthan and Gujarat can be replaced with underground ones to save these birds.
  • About: It is only found in the Indian Subcontinent. Rajasthan and Gujarat are the most populous states in India. Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh have small populations.
  • Rajasthan’s Desert National Park Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh’s Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary, and Madhya Pradesh’s Karera Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Pilibhit Tiger Reserve: Uttar Pradesh

  • Context: A carcass of a five-year-old tigress was found in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (Uttar Pradesh)
  • About: It is located in Pilibhit district, Lakhimpur Kheri District and Bahraich District of Uttar Pradesh.
  • It forms the part of Terai Arc Landscape in the upper Gangetic Plain. The northern edge of the reserve lies along the Indo-Nepal border while the southern boundary is marked by the river Sharada and Khakra


Wholesale Price Index based Inflation hits 11 year high of 10.49% in April 

  • Context: Wholesale Price Index based Inflation hits 11 year high of 10.49% in April – Economy Current Affairs
  • About: India’s wholesale inflation rose to the highest in more than a decade, aided by a low base and on a spike in prices of basic metals, fuel and power.
  • Inflation as measured by the Wholesale Price Index rose to 10.49% in April 2021—the highest since April 2010, According to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  • On a month-on-month basis, WPI inflation saw 310 basis points rise as compared to 7.39 per cent in March.
  • The wholesale inflation was 4.83% in February. For January, the WPI inflation rate stood at 2.51%.
  • In April, primary articles inflation rose 10.16% year-on-year and 3.83% over the preceding month. Fuel and power index rose 20.94% year-on-year but contracted 1% over March. Manufactured products inflation rose 9.01% year-on-year and 1.65% over the preceding month.
  • The wholesale price index is measured by changes happening in three broad sectors –Primary articles, fuel and power and manufactured products
  • Meanwhile, India’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) based retail inflation eased to 4.29% in the month of April, Primarily due to reduction in food prices. It stood at 5.52% in March
  • The divergence is a normal trend because of 2 reasons:-Firstly, when we look at both the indices we are not talking about the same set of products.
  • Second, even when same products are looked at, the weightage they carry in these indices are not the same
  • The wholesale price index is measured by changes happening in three broad sectors – Primary articles, fuel and power and manufactured products.
  • The CPI product categorization is sharper Food and beverages, pan, tobacco and intoxicants, clothing and footwear, housing, fuel and light and a miscellaneous category.
  • WPI will remain elevated in the months to come for two reasons: Rising global commodity prices and low base effect. This may sound good for corporates who could be regaining some purchasing power

Forex Reserves:

  • Context: India’s foreign exchange reserves surpass Russia’s to become world’s fourth largest.
  • About: Bonds, Treasury bills, and other government securities are examples of reserves kept on reserve by a central bank in foreign currencies. The majority of foreign exchange reserves are kept in dollars. These reserves are kept to ensure that the central bank has sufficient funds in the event that the national currency devalues quickly or becomes insolvent.
  • It is a significant component of the Balance of Payments and an important factor in determining an economy’s external status.
  • Forex Reserves in India: Forex reserves are foreign assets accumulated by India and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) of:
    • Gold
    • SDRs (special drawing rights of the International Monetary Fund – IMF)
    • Foreign currency assets (capital inflows to the capital markets, Foreign
    • Direct Investment and external commercial borrowings) Reserve Position with IMF.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulates FOREX in India under the RBI Act of 1934.
  • A rare current-account surplus, rising inflows into the local stock market, and foreign direct investment have bolstered India’s reserves, which are enough to finance approximately 18 months of imports.
  • On the International Monetary Fund table, China has the most reserves, followed by Japan and Switzerland.


Inter-Parliamentary Union:

  • Context: Recently, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) addressed Members of Parliament at the Central Hall of the Indian Parliament
  • About: The organization was established in 1889 as the Inter-Parliamentary Congress.
  • Its founders were statesmen Frédéric Passy of France and William Randal Cremer of the United Kingdom.
  • The Inter-Parliamentary Union is an international organization of national parliaments. Its primary purpose is to promote democratic governance, accountability, and cooperation among its members.
  • As of 2020, the IPU has 179 national parliaments as members, with 13 provincial legislative assemblies as associate members. India is a member of the organization.
  • For dispute resolution, it works closely with the United Nations (UN), regional legislative organizations, international intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations.
  • It is a unique platform for observing political opinions and trends around the world.

NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021

  • Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha. The bill aims to change some important provisions concerning the National Capital.
  • About: It seeks to amend the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991. The main objective is to give overarching powers to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) in the functioning of Delhi.
  • Key amendments of the proposed NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021
    • The word “government” will now mean “Lieutenant Governor”: The Bill states that the term “government” will apply to any legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly and will imply Lieutenant Governor (LG).
    • LG’s perspective on executive decisions- The Bill states that the government must seek the LG’s advice on such issues before taking any executive actions, as stated by the LG.
    • Reservation of bills to President. The NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill requires the LG to reserve bills for the President. They are the bills that incidentally cover any of the matters outside the purview of the powers of the Legislative Assembly.


Bhadar Dam:

  • Context: Recently, the Dam Safety Organisation of the Central Water Commission has recommended replacement of floodgates of Bhadar dam which were damaged in the flash flood of 2015.
  • About: Bhadar dam is located in Rajkot and is second largest in Saurashtra region after Shetrunji dam.
  • Bhadar dam is on the Bhadar (Gujarat) River in Saurashtra region in Gujarat.
  • The construction work for this dam started in 1952 and water for irrigation from it was given to farmers for the first time in 1963
  • The Bhadar is one of the major rivers of Kathiawar (Saurashtra) peninsula in Gujarat.
  • It originates near Vaddi in Rajkot district at an elevation of 261 m above mean sea level. It flows through the Saurashtra region and finally confluence with Arabian Sea at Naviobandar (Porbandar).
  • The total length of this river is 198 km. It drains about 1/7th of the area of Saurashtra

Advisory Committee on Saraswati River:

  • Context: The Central Government reconstitutes an advisory committee for studying the mythical Saraswati River for the next two years. The earlier panel’s term ended in 2019.
  • About: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had first set up the Advisory Committee for the Study of the River Saraswati in 2017 for two years.
  • The committee has been re-established. The aim of this project is to research the legendary Saraswati River and devise a plan to identify its basin and define its course.
  • The Culture Minister chairs the commission. Officials from the Ministries of Culture, Tourism, Water Resources, Environment and Forest, Housing and Urban Affairs, and the Indian Space Research Organisation, as well as officials from the governments of Gujarat, Haryana, and Rajasthan, and an ASI official, will be present.

Art & Culture:

Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991:

  • Context: The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on 15th August, 1947.
  • About: The Act was passed in 1991. It seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was exempted from the Act.
  • Sections 3 –It says that no person shall convert any place of worship of any religion denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • Section 4(II) –All cases for converting the character of a place of worship that were pending on August 15, 1947, will stand abated with the enforcement of this act. No fresh proceedings can be filed after that.
  • Section 6-It prescribes three-year imprisonment and a fine for breach of the provisions of the act.
  • Section 5– It says that the Act shall not be applied to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid dispute

International Relations:

What is Greater Israel? Will Muslim World ever accept the idea of Greater Israel?

  • Context: Greater Israel is an expression, with several different biblical and political meanings over time
  • About: It is often used, in an irredentist fashion, to refer to the historic or desired borders of Israel.
  • Currently, the most common definition of the land encompassed by the term is the territory of the State of Israel together with the Palestinian territories.
  • An earlier definition, favored by Revisionist Zionism, included the territory of the former Emirate of Transjordan.
  • Whenever anything happens in Palestine, Muslims across the world react and sometimes the reactions turn violent.
  • Recently, when Israeli troopers raided the Al-Aqsa Masjid, Muslim masses across the world protested on streets as well as on social media.
  • Most of the muslim countries consider, Jewish state called Israel and the Zionist ideology that sustains it, along with the vested interests of international players like the USA, France and Britain,
  • Is a recent invention of the erstwhile colonisers in the heart of the Arab world
  • Thus, the illegitimate construction of the colonisers has resulted in the dispossession and displacement of millions of Palestinian Arab Muslims
  • Israeli aggression which was supported and facilitated by the mightiest of Western powers,
  • What people across the Muslim world understand about Israel is that it has been created for not only occupying the Arab world but for the creation of Greater Israel.
  • Such remembrance and idea of Israel adds fuel to the fire and so the backlash whenever anything happens.
  • The biggest connection that the whole Muslim world has with Palestine is the existence of Bait ul Maqdis.
  • For Muslims, it was their first Qibla before Prophet Mohammed started offering prayers in the direction of Ka’aba which is at Makka.
  • There is this belief also that when Prophet Mohammad experienced ascension, he led all the 1,24,000 prophets in a prayer at this Masjid before he started his journey towards the heavens.
  • This element of faith and memory of a historical event connects Muslims living anywhere in the world with Palestine in general and Bait ul Maqdis in particular.
  • It is, therefore, something natural that incidents like the recent raid and the subsequent desecration by Israeli troopers leads to widespread condemnation,
  • Across the Muslim world as wherever there is a bond based on faith such thing

Science and Technology:

White Fungus cases found in India – Why White Fungus is deadlier than Black Fungus?

  • Context: Amid concerns over rising cases of Mucormycosis or ‘Black Fungus’ in Covid recovered patients, several cases of ‘White Fungus’ have been reported in Bihar
  • About: At least four patients of ‘White Fungus’ have been detected in Bihar’s capital Patna. Notably, one of the four patients of White Fungus infection is a famous doctor in Patna.
  • An infection occurs when a microorganism enters a person’s body and causes harm.
  • The microorganism uses that person’s body to sustain itself, reproduce, and colonize. These infectious microscopic organisms are known as pathogens like: Bacteria, Viruses & Fungi
  • Fungal diseases are often very common in the environment. Most fungi are not dangerous, but some types can be harmful to health. Mild fungal skin diseases can look like a rash and are very common.
  • Previously called zygomycosis, mucormycosis is a serious and rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. These molds live throughout the environment.
  • While a quick diagnosis and treatment can cure the patient, left untreated, it can prove fatal.
  • As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of white fungal infection mainly depend on where the fungus is growing in the body.
  • Small, painless bump on the skin that can develop any time from 1 to
  • 12 weeks after exposure to the fungus which eventually grows bigger. ✓For lung infection, symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fever.
  • Infections in joints can cause joint pain that may be confused with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Infections of the central nervous system can involve difficulty thinking, headache, and seizures
  • For protection against any pathogen including White Fungus, CDC has recommended “wearing protective clothing such as gloves and long sleeves when touching plant matter that can cause minor cuts or scrapes.”
  • The disease can be diagnosed by either taking a small tissue sample or biopsy of the infected area of the body and blood tests also sometimes help in discovering the infection.