Daily Current Affairs 01-03-2024

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    Syllabus: GS2/International Relation

    • Recently, the Prime Minister of India and Mauritius jointly inaugurated an airstrip, jetty, and 6 other projects to ensure maritime security and connectivity to Mauritius’ Agalega islands.
    Current Development

    Background: India and Mauritius signed MoU in 2015 to upgrade the airstrip and the Set James Jetty in the island country.
    – The Agalega island of Mauritius is seen as important as they are expected to boost connectivity as well as maritime security and surveillance of Mauritius’ vast EEZ of 2.3 million square kilometres in the strategic Indian Ocean region.
    A. It helps in ‘emergency responses, including search and rescue, marine pollution and humanitarian assistance’.
    – It checks counter-piracy, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics actions, combat human trafficking, combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
    • India and Mauritius share a deep and historical bond, with Indian origin people comprising nearly 70% of the island’s population.
    • The relationship between the two nations is rooted in shared history, culture, and democratic values.

    • The first Indians were brought to Mauritius from the Puducherry region in 1729 to work as artisans and masons.
    • Under British rule, about half a million Indian indentured workers were brought to Mauritius between 1834 and the early 1900s.
    • About two-thirds of these workers permanently settled down in Mauritius.
    • India established diplomatic relations with Mauritius in 1948, even before the independence of Mauritius.
    • India was represented by an Indian Commissioner in British-ruled Mauritius between 1948 and 1968 and thereafter, by a High Commissioner after Mauritius became independent in 1968.
    • India and Mauritius signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) in 2021.
      • Under the CECPA, India and Mauritius would provide preferential access to a number of items like surgical equipment, medicine, and textile products that would cater to market requirements on both sides.
    • Bilateral trade has been disproportionately in favour of India. (For the FY 2022-2023, Indian exports to Mauritius was USD 462.69 mn, Mauritian exports to India was USD 91.50 mn and Total trade was USD 554.19 mn).
      • It has grown by 132% in the last 17 years, from USD 206.76 million in 2005-06 to USD 554.19 million in 2022-23.
    • FDI: Cumulative FDI worth USD 161 billion came from Mauritius to India in the two decades from 2000 – 2022 (26% of total FDI inflows into India).
      • FDI inflows from Mauritius have dropped from USD 15.72 bn in 2016-17 to USD 6.13 bn in 2022-23, with Mauritius becoming India’s third largest source of FDI.
    • Indian Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) in Mauritius: At present, 11 Indian PSUs are in Mauritius which include Life Insurance Corporation, Indian Oil (Mauritius) Limited, State Bank of India (Mauritius), Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) etc.
    • India is the preferred defence partner of Mauritius for acquiring platforms/equipment, capacity building, joint patrolling, hydrological services, etc.
    • Indian defence officers are deputed to the Mauritian Defence Forces. An Indian Navy officer heads the Mauritian National Coast Guard; an Indian Air Force officer commands the Police Helicopter Squadron and an Indian Naval Officer heads the Mauritius Hydrography Services.
    • In February 2021, India extended a Line of Credit of USD 100 mn to Mauritius for procuring defence products, under which Mauritius has already sourced a Passenger Variant Dornier aircraft and an Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv.
    • SAGAR: India recalled that it was in Mauritius, during 2015 that India’s maritime cooperation vision of SAGAR – ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ was outlined.
    • India has traditionally been the ‘first responder’ for Mauritius in times of crisis, including during the recent Covid-19 and Wakashio oil-spill crisis.
    • Mauritius has become the first country to join India’s Jan Aushadhi initiative which will benefit the people of Mauritius by providing better quality Made-in-India generic medicines.
    • RuPay cards and UPI connectivity between two countries were established. 
    • Tax Treaty Misuse: The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Mauritius had been a point of concern due to its potential misuse for illicit activities like money laundering and round-tripping of funds.
      • It led to amendments in the treaty in 2016 and the implementation of the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) in 2017.
    • Chagos Archipelago Dispute: It is an issue of sovereignty and sustainable development before the United Nations.
      • In 2019, India voted at the U.N. General Assembly in support of the Mauritian position on the issue.
    • Security Concerns: With Mauritius emerging as an important maritime entity in the Indo-Pacific region, security concerns are paramount.
      • India and Mauritius have a strong defence partnership, but maintaining and enhancing this partnership in the face of evolving regional dynamics can be challenging.
    • Logistical and Bureaucratic: While India and Mauritius have a robust development partnership, the ongoing implementation of various infrastructure projects and the delivery of promised assistance can pose logistical and bureaucratic challenges.
    • The relationship between India and Mauritius is multifaceted and has grown stronger over the years. The two nations continue to work together in various fields, including infrastructure, FinTech, culture, and more.
    • The special ties between India and Mauritius are a testament to their shared history, cultural affinities, and mutual respect.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relations

    • Despite the recently held high meeting between India and Nepal, the consensus over sharing benefits of the Pancheshwar project is not resolved. 
    • PMP is a bi-national hydropower project to be developed in Mahakali River bordering Nepal and India. 
    • Development of PMP, is a mutual interest project between two countries, and is covered under integrated Mahakali Treaty signed between Nepal and India in 1996.
    • The project is aimed at generating around 6,480 MW energy (to be divided equally between two sides), along with water for irrigation of 130,000 hectares of land in Nepal and 240,000 hectares of Indian territory, respectively. 
    • While electricity is divided equally, India gets the lion’s share of irrigation and flood control benefits. 
    • On the other hand, Nepal  feels water is ‘white gold’ and India should pay Nepal for it. 
    • India cannot accept this claim as it challenges India’s understanding of other water-based treaties, including the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan. 
    • Shared Border: The country shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
      • Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services and access to the sea is through India.
    • The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship: Signed in 1950, it forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal. 
      • Nepalese citizens avail facilities and opportunities on par with Indian citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.  
    • Defence Cooperation: India has been assisting the Nepal Army (NA) in its modernisation by supplying equipment and providing training. 
      • Both countries conduct Joint Military Exercise SURYA KIRAN’ alternately in India and in Nepal.  
      • Since 1950, India and Nepal have been awarding each other’s Army Chief with the honorary rank of General.
      • The Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army are raised partly by recruitment from hill districts of Nepal. 
    • Connectivity and Development Partnership: India has been assisting Nepal in development of border infrastructure through upgradation of 10 roads in the Terai area; development of cross-border rail links and establishment of Integrated Check Posts
    • Water Resources Cooperation: Cooperation in water resources from the common rivers is among the important areas of bilateral relations.
      • A three-tier bilateral mechanism established in 2008, to discuss issues relating to cooperation in water resources has been working well.
    • Energy Cooperation: India and Nepal have had a Power Exchange Agreement since 1971 for meeting the power requirements in the border.
      • India is currently supplying a total of about 600 MW of power to Nepal.
    • Trade and Economic: India remains Nepal’s largest trade partner, Nepal is India’s 11th largest export destination.
      • In FY 2021-22, it constituted 2.34% of India’s exports. Infact exports from India constitute almost 22% of Nepal’s GDP.
    • Mahakali River bridge: A MoU was signed between India and Nepal for the  construction of a motorable bridge across the Mahakali River connecting Dharchula  (India) with Darchula (Nepal), under Indian grant assistance.
    • Operation Maitri & post-earthquake reconstruction assistance: In the wake of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, GoI was the first responder and carried out its largest disaster relief operation abroad (Operation Maitri). 
    • Cultural Ties: The leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old ‘roti beti’ relationship, which refers to cross-border marriages between people of the two countries.
    • Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950: It was an effort to “strengthen and develop these ties and to perpetuate peace between the two countries”.
      • As time passed, Nepal believed the treaty was “incompatible with national self-respect”.
    • Kalapani dispute: The area is in India’s control but Nepal claims the region because of historical and cartographic reasons. The area is the largest territorial dispute between Nepal and India consisting of at least 37,000 hectares of land in the High Himalayas.
    • Susta Border dispute: Susta is a disputed territory between Nepal and India. It is administered by India as part of West Champaran district of Bihar.
      • Nepal claims the area a part of West Nawalparasi District under Susta rural municipality, alleging that over 14,860 hectares of Nepali land in Susta has been encroached upon by India.
    • Political Interference: Nepal has at times accused India of interference in its internal political affairs, particularly during periods of political instability or transition. 
    • Security Concerns: Both India and Nepal have shared security concerns, including issues related to cross-border terrorism, trafficking, and border security. 
    • Perception of Unequal Relationship: Some segments of Nepalese society have expressed concerns about what they perceive as an unequal relationship with India, with allegations of economic dependence and a lack of reciprocity in the bilateral relationship.
    • The discussion to kickstart the Pancheshwar project will require political consensus and bureaucratic foresight on both sides, which is yet to emerge. 
    • Despite these challenges and disputes, India and Nepal have historically maintained close ties and continue to engage in dialogue and diplomatic efforts to address bilateral issues. 
    • Both countries recognize the importance of their relationship and are committed to finding mutually acceptable solutions to their differences while promoting cooperation and friendship for the mutual benefit of their peoples.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS2/Indian Polity

    • President Droupadi Murmu has approved the Kerala Government’s Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill 2022.
    • The amendment sought to take away the Lok Ayukta’s powers to declare public servants ineligible to hold their positions if complaints of corruption and nepotism against them were proven. 
    • In the case of any unfavourable decision from the Lok Ayukta against the Chief Minister, the competent authority in the existing Act will now be the Assembly instead of the Governor.
    • In the case of an MLA, the Speaker will be the competent authority. 
    • The competent authorities will also now have the option to accept or reject the LokAyukta recommendations.
    • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 came into effect in 2014.
    • Lokayukta are anti-corruption ombudsman institutions in India, established in states. 
    • Concept: The concept of Lokayukta was inspired by the Scandinavian Countries Ombudsman system. 
    • Function: The Lokayukta are responsible for investigating allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants and elected representatives. 
    • First Lokayukta: The establishment of Lokayukta institutions in India began with the first Lokayukta being constituted in Maharashtra in 1971. 
    • Members: The Lokayukta is to be headed by a chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice or Judge of the High Court, and can have up to eight members, including judicial and non-judicial members.
      • The Governor of the State appoints the members.
    • Powers: Lokayukts have the authority to summon witnesses, examine evidence, and recommend punitive measures such as dismissal, suspension, or prosecution of guilty officials.
      • However, their recommendations are usually not binding, and the final decision lies with the respective government authorities or judiciary.
    • Jurisdictions: The Lokayukts typically have jurisdiction over public officials and employees within the state government and its agencies, including ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, and other elected representatives.
    • Independence: To ensure impartiality and independence, Lokayukts are typically headed by retired judges or eminent persons with experience in public administration. 
    • Limited Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of Lokayuktas is often limited to certain categories of public servants or specific areas of governance, which may restrict their ability to address all forms of corruption comprehensively.
    • Lack of Independence: Despite being intended as independent bodies, Lokayuktas often face political interference or pressure from the government, which can hinder their autonomy.
    • Inadequate Resources: Lokayuktas often suffer from insufficient financial and human resources.
    • Whistleblower Protection: Whistleblowers and complainants who report corruption may face threats, harassment, or retaliation, which discourages them from coming forward with information.
    • Political Will: Ultimately, the effectiveness of Lokayuktas depends on the political will of the government to combat corruption and strengthen accountability mechanisms. 
    • Legislative Reforms: Enact comprehensive legislation granting Lokayuktas broader jurisdiction, including coverage of all public servants and entities receiving public funds.
    • Appointment: Expedite the process of appointing Lokayuktas and ensure the selection process is transparent, merit-based, and free from political influence.
    • Independence: Safeguard the independence of Lokayuktas by providing them with fixed tenures, adequate resources, and immunity from arbitrary removal or interference.
    • Public Awareness: Launch awareness campaigns to educate the public about the role and functions of Lokayuktas, how to file complaints, and the importance of reporting corruption.
    • Whistleblower Protection: Strengthen legal provisions for protecting whistleblowers who report corruption, including measures to ensure their confidentiality, safety, and immunity from retaliation.
    • Accountability: Hold governments and public officials accountable for implementing Lokayukta recommendations and take disciplinary action against those found guilty of obstructing or undermining anti-corruption efforts.
    • Over the years, there have been calls for strengthening Lokayukts and expanding their jurisdiction to cover more public officials and institutions. 
    • Some states have also introduced amendments to their Lokayukts Acts to address deficiencies and enhance accountability.
    • By implementing the required measures, India can significantly enhance the effectiveness and credibility of Lokayuktas in combating corruption and promoting good governance at the state level.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus:GS2/Health

    • According to a new global analysis, published by the journal The Lancet, obesity rates are going up across the world.
    • Obesity, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that poses health risks.
    • A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is obese.
      • The BMI is a ratio of a person’s weight to their height measured in kilograms per meter square of height.
    • Obesity has become the most common form of malnutrition in most countries.
    • The total number of children, adolescents, and adults worldwide living with obesity has surpassed one billion.
    • In total, 159 million children and adolescents, and 879 million adults were obese in 2022.
    • The obesity rate increased from 0.1% in 1990 to 3.1% in 2022 for girls, and 0.1% to 3.9%, for boys.
    • In the prevalence of obesity category for girls and boys, India ranked 174th in the world in 2022.
    • According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), 2019-2021, about 6.4 percent of women and 4.0 per cent of men aged 15-49 are obese.
    Rise in Obesity Rates
    • Poor Diet: Consuming high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as fast food, sugary drinks, and processed snacks can contribute to weight gain. Diets high in refined carbohydrates and fats can lead to overeating and weight gain.
    • Lack of Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles, characterized by little to no physical activity, can contribute to obesity. 
    • Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, corticosteroids, and some medications used to treat epilepsy and diabetes, can cause weight gain as a side effect.
    • Sleep: Poor sleep patterns or sleep disorders like sleep apnea can disrupt hormonal balance and increase appetite, leading to weight gain.
    • Genetics: Genetics play a role in determining an individual’s susceptibility to obesity. Some people may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more likely to gain weight.
    • Addressing obesity in adolescents requires a multi-faceted approach that involves government policy, community initiatives and individual actions.
    • Restriction on sale of unhealthy foods and beverages to children, restricting junk food advertisements targeted at children, clear nutritional labeling and promoting healthier options at school cafeterias are needed.
    • Parents should also encourage children in daily household chores and outdoor activities to promote physical activity.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    • Prime Minister Modi inaugurated India’s first indigenously built hydrogen fuel cell ferry under the Harit Nauka initiative.
    • In 2024, the shipping ministry unveiled the Harit Nauka guidelines for inland vessels.
    • Under this initiative, all states have to make efforts to use green fuels for 50 per cent of inland waterways-based passenger fleets in the next one decade, and 100 per cent by 2045.
    • Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms. 
    • A fuel cell consists of an anode (negative electrode) and cathode (positive electrode) sandwiched around an electrolyte.
      • Hydrogen is fed to the anode and air is fed to the cathode. 
    • At the anode, a catalyst separates the hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons and both subatomic particles take different paths to the cathode. 
    • The electrons go through an external circuit, creating a flow of electricity that can be used to power electric motors. 
    • The protons, on the other hand, move to the cathode through the electrolyte. Once there, they unite with oxygen and electrons to produce water and heat.
    Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry
    • Zero Emissions: Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity with the only byproduct being water vapor. This makes them a zero-emission source of energy, contributing to cleaner air and combating climate change.
    • High Efficiency: Hydrogen fuel cells have high energy efficiency compared to internal combustion engines. They can convert fuel into electricity with efficiencies higher than 50%. 
    • Versatility: Hydrogen fuel cells can be used in various applications, including transportation (cars, buses, trucks), stationary power generation (backup power for buildings, remote power systems), and portable electronics (like laptops and smartphones).
    • Fast Refueling: Refueling hydrogen fuel cells is typically faster than recharging batteries for electric vehicles. 
    • Low Environmental Impact: Hydrogen production can be environmentally friendly if generated from renewable sources or through processes that capture and store carbon emissions. 
    • High Production Costs: The production of hydrogen fuel cells and the infrastructure required for hydrogen storage, transportation, and distribution is expensive. 
    • Limited Infrastructure: The infrastructure for hydrogen production, distribution, and refueling stations is still underdeveloped in many regions. 
    • Energy Intensive Production: Most of the world’s hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas through a process called steam methane reforming, which emits carbon dioxide.
    • Storage Challenges: Hydrogen has a low energy density by volume, which means it requires large storage tanks or high-pressure containers to store enough hydrogen for practical use. Additionally, hydrogen molecules are small and can leak through seals and containers, posing safety risks.
    • Safety Concerns: Hydrogen is highly flammable and can ignite easily in the presence of oxygen. While modern hydrogen fuel systems have safety features to mitigate these risks, concerns about the safe handling, storage, and transportation of hydrogen remain.
    What is hydrogen

    – Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. 
    – Hydrogen is the lightest element and the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, constituting roughly 75% of all normal matter.It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, and highly combustible gas.

    Types of hydrogen

    Grey Hydrogen: It is produced via coal or lignite gasification (black or brown), or via a process called steam methane reformation (SMR) of natural gas or methane (gray).
    Blue Hydrogen: It is produced via natural gas or coal gasification combined with carbon capture storage (CCS) or carbon capture use (CCU) technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
    Green Hydrogen: It is produced using electrolysis of water with electricity generated by renewable energy. 

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS3/Environmental Pollution and degradation

    • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the report titled Beyond an age of waste: Global Waste Management Outlook 2024 (GWMO 2024).
    • Global Scenario: Every year across the globe more than two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated.
    • Waste Collection: More than a third of the world’s population is drowning in waste, with over 2.7 billion people in the Global South and developing regions of the world not having their waste collected.
      • An estimated 540 million tonnes of municipal solid waste, an equivalent of 27 percent of the global total waste, is not being collected. 
    Global Waste Management Outlook 2024
    • Future Projection: It also predicted that waste generated was set to grow in volumes — from 2.3 billion tonnes in 2023 to 3.8 billion tonnes by 2050. 
    • Health Impact: The negative impacts of municipal solid waste on the climate, biodiversity and human health will almost double by 2050.
    • Lack of recognition of the Urgency: Political leaders need to recognise the urgency of the waste crisis and its impacts on society. 
    • Underestimation of Climate Impacts: This has led to underinvestment in waste reduction and waste management as effective climate change mitigation.
    • Lack of inclusion: Policies and infrastructure for municipal waste management developed without inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making are more likely to fail due to being either ill-informed or inappropriate to the local context.
    • Lack of an enabling environment: Private sector involvement in waste management activities can be stifled by bureaucratic barriers with respect to operating permits, as well as a lack.
    • Technical barriers: When mixed municipal waste is collected, it has a negative value since it is more diffcult (and costly) to extract recyclable materials.
    • Rapid urbanisation and unplanned developments making the provision of waste collection and transportation services logistically complicated.
    • Inadequate landfill capacity and improper landfill management.
    • Multinational development banks and donors can support the scaling up of proven zero waste and circular economy initiatives. 
    • National governments can legislate to deliver the waste hierarchy, incentivise zero waste business models, and apply producer responsibility fees to prioritise waste reduction. 
    • Producers and retailers can reduce the costs of waste to society by taking due responsibility and pursuing zero waste business models. 
    • Everyone can prevent unnecessary waste through reuse and refill, waste segregation and home composting, as well as using consumer power to support zero waste enterprises.
    Government Initiatives

    Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission): Launched in 2014, this national cleanliness campaign aims to achieve an Open Defecation Free (ODF) India and improve solid waste management practices.
    Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, which lay down guidelines for segregation, collection, transportation, processing, and disposal of solid waste. 
    Smart Cities Mission: Under this initiative, selected cities are implementing innovative approaches to improve solid waste management, including the use of technology for waste collection and recycling.
    Waste-to-Energy Projects: The government has been promoting waste-to-energy projects to harness energy from organic waste. 

    Source: DTE

    Syllabus: GS3/Cyber Security

    Context:

    • Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a warning against charging mobile phones using public ports.

    About the Juice Jacking

    • It is a type of cyberattack where hackers tamper with public USB charging ports, infecting them with malware or making hardware changes that allow them to steal data from devices connected to them.
    • Most attacks target both Android and iOS mobile devices, with older devices being particularly vulnerable due to their outdated software.

    The Threat:

    • When users connect their devices to compromised USB ports, hackers use the connection to hack into mobile devices and steal personal data like email, SMS, and saved passwords or deliver malware by gaining access to the phones.

    Source: Business Line

    Syllabus: GS2/International Institutions

    Context:

    • Recently, the US Chamber of Commerce released its 12th edition of its International Intellectual Property Index.

    About the International Intellectual Property Index:

    • It is a comprehensive assessment of the world’s intellectual property frameworks, published annually by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center.
    • It evaluates the IP framework of the world’s top 55 economies using 50 unique criteria.

    Purpose:

    • It serves as a roadmap for economies seeking to strengthen their innovation and creativity ecosystems through more effective IP standards.
    • It reveals trends in global IP protection and shows economies how to improve IP-driven innovation and creativity.

    Key Findings:

    • The IP Index found that 20 economies significantly improved their IP frameworks. 
    • The United States emerged at the top of the list, followed by the United Kingdom and France.
    • However, eight economies, including Ecuador, declined in rankings due to weak IP enforcement.
    • India ranked 42 out of the 55 countries, with an overall score of 38.64%.
      • It represents a significant improvement from previous years, demonstrating India’s efforts to strengthen its IP framework.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In Context

    • The second round of auction for the 18 strategic mineral blocks is launched. 

    About

    • Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
      • It includes minerals like graphite, lithium, cobalt, magnets and silicon.
      • Critical minerals cater to the needs of sectors like renewable energy, defence, agriculture, pharmaceutical, high-tech electronics, telecommunications, transport, creation of gigafactories etc.
    • Recently, through an amendment in the MMDR Act in August 2023, 24 minerals were notified as Critical and Strategic minerals.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS3/Species in News

    In Context

    • The Zoological Survey of India named a new marine species of head-shield sea slug after President of India Droupadi Murmu.

    About

    • The species belonging to Melanochlamys genus was discovered from Digha of West Bengal coast and Udaipur of Odisha coast. 
    • Appearance: It is a head-shield brownish-black sea slug with a ruby red spot and a maximum length of up to seven mm named as Melanochlamys droupadi.
    Sea Slug
    • Distribution: They can be found from the shallow intertidal to the deep sea and from the polar regions to the tropics. 
    • Habitat: Sea slugs are a group of molluscs that live primarily in marine habitats and are slug-like. 
    • Sea slugs are hermaphroditic, meaning they possess both male and female reproductive organs. They can reproduce through both sexual and asexual means. 
    • So far, 18 species have been discovered across the globe, including one tropical species from the Gulf of Thailand.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    Context

    • The fifth cycle of leopard population estimation was carried out by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India.

    About

    • India’s leopard numbers rose by 8% from 12,852 in 2018 to 13,874 in 2022.
    • Madhya Pradesh houses the largest population of leopards in the country – 3907 , followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
    • Tiger Reserves or sites with highest leopard population are, Nagarajunasagar Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), followed by Panna (MP), and  Satpura (MP).

    Habitat conservation

    • The Shivalik hills and the Gangetic plains recorded 3.4% yearly decline in leopard population.
    • Central India and the Eastern Ghats, the Western Ghats and the hills of the northeast, and the Brahmaputra flood plains recorded growth of 1.5%, 1% and 1.3% per annum respectively. 
    Status of Leopards in India

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: Miscellaneous/ Environment

    In Context

    • Early blooming of the Jacaranda trees in Mexico has sparked the debate about climate change.

    About

    • Jacaranda trees are known for their stunning purple flowers and are native to South America, particularly Argentina and Brazil. 
    • They are also found in other parts of the world, including Australia, where they are commonly planted as ornamental trees.
    • These trees are prized for their vibrant display of flowers, which typically bloom in spring or early summer, depending on the region. 
    • Jacarandas are deciduous trees, meaning they shed their leaves annually, typically before flowering.
    • Jacaranda trees prefer warm climates and well-drained soil. They are relatively drought-tolerant once established and can thrive in full sun.
    Early Jacaranda Bloom

    Source: TH