Daily Current Affairs – 07-08-2023

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    Subramania Bharathi

    Syllabus: GS1/Modern History

    In News

    • President Droupadi Murmu unveiled a portrait of late nationalist Tamil poet-journalist Subramania Bharathi at the Raj Bhavan.

    Who was Subramania Bharathi?

    • C. Subramania Bharathi was a poet, freedom fighter and social reformer from Tamil Nadu.
    • He was known as Mahakavi Bharathiyar and the laudatory epithet Mahakavi means a great poet. 
    • His songs on nationalism and freedom of India helped to rally the masses to support the Indian Independence Movement in Tamil Nadu.
    • Durbar Hall on the campus was also renamed after him as Bharathiar Mandapam.

    Contributions

    • As a Poet and Nationalist: 
      • Most parts of his compositions are classifiable as short lyrical outpourings on patriotic, devotional and mystic themes. 
      • “Kannan Pattu” “Nilavum Vanminum Katrum” “Panchali Sabatam” “Kuyil Pattu” are examples of his great poetic output.
      • He exhorted the people to join the independence struggle and work vigorously for the liberation of the country. 
      • He outlined his vision for a free India and published the sensational “Sudesa Geethangal” in 1908.
    • As a Journalist: 
      • He was the sub-editor in “Swadesamitran” in November 1904.
      • In order to proclaim its revolutionary ardour, Bharathi had the weekly printed in red paper. “India” was the first paper in Tamil Nadu to publish political cartoons. 
      • He also published and edited a few other journals like “Vijaya”.
    • As a Social Reformer:
      • Bharathi was also against the caste system. He declared that there were only two castes-men and women and nothing more than that. 
      • Above all, he himself had removed his sacred thread. He had also adorned many Dalits with sacred thread.  He used to take tea sold in shops run by Muslims. He along with his family members attended church on all festival occasions. He advocated temple entry of Dalits. 
      • He believed in women’s rights, gender equality and women emancipation. He opposed child marriage, dowry and supported widow remarriage.

    Death 

    • Bharathi died on 11th September 1921. 
    • He was respectfully referred to as “Bharathiar” by nationalists and by millions of Tamil lovers all over the globe.

    Source: TH
     

    Organ Shortage 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions, Health

    In Context

    • According to recent data, around three lakh patients wait for organ donation in the country.

    Key Data Highlights

    • Health Ministry’s data: The number of donors (including deceased) only grew from 6,916 in 2014 to about 16,041 in 2022
      • The country registered 1,589 kidney transplants, 761 liver and 250 heart transplants in the deceased category in 2022. 
      • Kidney and pancreas transplants grew from three in 2014 to 22 in 2022. 
    • Living donor: In contrast, living donor kidney transplants rose from 4,884 in 2014 to 9,834 in 2022. 
      • Liver transplants in this category grew from 1,002 to 2,957.
    • Waiting patients: With a waiting list of over three lakh patients and at least 20 persons dying each day waiting for an organ, India’s paucity of organ donations, especially deceased donations, has been exacting a steep toll. 
      • India’s deceased organ donation rate has been under one donor per million for a decade.
      • Experts have warned that one person is added to the wait list every 10 minutes in the country. 
    • Data on kidney transplants: India faces a significant disparity between demand and supply in kidney transplant.
      • The annual need for 2,00,000 kidney transplants highlights the pressing urgency of the situation. However, a mere 10,000 transplants are performed each year, revealing a staggering gap. 
      • The demand for deceased donors is substantial because many families lack suitable living donors. 
      • Statistics indicate around 70%-75% of donors are female. Wives, mothers, and sisters have emerged as most prevalent sources of donation.
    • Global Data: Even worldwide, only 10% of patients needing organs get them in time. Spain and the U.S. have better organ donation systems clocking 30-50 donations per million. 

    Government initiatives to facilitate Organ Transplant in India

    • Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA): It was enacted in 1994 and governs organ transplantation in India.The act also establishes the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) and State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organizations (SOTTO) to oversee organ donation and transplantation activities.
    • National Organ Transplant Programme (NOTP): It was launched in 2014 to create a national registry of organ donors and recipients, establish more organ transplant centers, and raise awareness about organ donation.
    • Deceased Organ Donation Program: It was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to encourage organ donation from deceased individuals. 
    • National Organ Donation Day: The government of India has designated November 27 as National Organ Donation Day to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and encourage people to pledge to donate their organs.
    • Swasth Bharat Yatra: It is a government-led campaign to promote healthy living, prevent lifestyle diseases,raise awareness about organ donation and encourage people to pledge to donate their organs.
    • National Organ and Tissue Transplant Registry: It has established a National Organ and Tissue Transplant Registry to maintain records of organ donations and transplantation in the country to help in the development of policies and strategies to promote organ donation and transplantation.
    • Organ Retrieval Banking Organization: It is a part of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi and is responsible for the retrieval, preservation, and distribution of organs for transplantation in the Delhi-NCR region. 

    Challenges

    • Transportation and preservation: Organs need to be transported and preserved under specific conditions to ensure their viability for transplantation which has logistical challenges, especially for organs that have a short shelf life.
    • Medical suitability: Not all donated organs are suitable for transplantation due to medical conditions or other factors, which can limit the number of available organs for transplant.
    • Costs: The costs associated with organ transplantation can be high, which can limit access to treatment for some patients.
    • According to experts, though the Ministry has announced a series of steps like,
      • to promote organ donations, including doing away with the domicile rule; 
      • removal of age bar for registration of recipients; 
      • removal of fee for registration for transplant; easing rules on withdrawal of life support (passive euthanasia); 
      • facilitation of organ transport across the country; special casual leave for organ donors etc., 
        • This isn’t enough.

    Suggestions

    • What is needed?
      • India needs to increase this to 65 donations per million population and for that to happen, public sector healthcare must step up. 
    • Donations from colleges:
      • The country has about 600 medical colleges and over 20 AIIMS. Even if we get one donation each from them every year we will be in better shape. 
    • Training & awareness:
      • The need of the hour is to train trauma and ICU doctors to help patients’ families to come forward and donate. In India living donors comprise 85% of all donors.
    • Materialising Organ donation pledges:
      • Organ donation pledges in India need to translate into actual donations and for that, medical staff need to be educated. 
      • They must be able to recognise, identify, inform, and counsel families about brain death and the importance of organ donation.

    Way ahead

    • Today, India has greater awareness about organ donation and doctors say more families are coming forward for this noble deed. 

    One donor, eight lives

    • One deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives: 
      • Two donated kidneys can free two patients from dialysis treatments. 
      • One donated liver can be split among two patients on the waitlist. 
      • Two donated lungs mean two other patients are given a second chance, and 
      • A donated pancreas and donated heart translate to two more patients receiving the gift of life.
    • One tissue donor:
      • someone who can donate bone, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas, sclera, and heart valves and vessels — can impact the lives of as many as 75 people.

    Source: TH

    Surplus Production of Sugar

    Syllabus: GS3/Agriculture

    In Context

    • India became the world’s top sugar producer in 2021-2022, surpassing Brazil, but the extensive use of resources in sugar production is depleting rapidly, leading to a potential crisis in the future.
      • India’s top sugarcane-growing states rely heavily on groundwater for irrigation, leading to concerns over groundwater depletion.

    Why is there excess sugar production in India?

    • India is the world’s largest consumer of sugar, and thus has to produce enough to meet its huge domestic demand. But the excess production stems from policies and measures that make farmers favour sugarcane cultivation.
    • The Central government offers a Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) scheme, which mandates a minimum price that sugar mills have to pay to sugarcane farmers, ensuring that farmers always get fair profits for their crop.
    • State governments also offer heavy subsidies to incentivise sugarcane cultivation. 
      • Countries like Brazil, Australia, and Guatemala filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against India for violating international trade rules by offering excessive export subsidies and domestic support to farmers to outcompete other countries in the global sugar market.

    About sugarcane

    • It belongs to the bamboo family of plants and is indigenous to India. It is the main source of sugar, gur and khandsari.
      • About two-third of the total sugarcane produced in India is consumed for making gur and khandsari and only one-third of it goes to sugar factories.
    • It also provides raw material for manufacturing alcohol.
    • Bagasse, the crushed cane residue, can be more beneficially used for manufacturing paper instead of using it as fuel in the mills.
    • It is also an efficient substitute for petroleum products and a host of other chemical products.

    Conditions for growth

    • Crop duration: 10-15 months, and even 18 months to mature, depending upon geographical conditions.
    • Soil: Sugarcane can tolerate any kind of soil that can retain moisture. It can well grow on a variety of soils like loams, clayey loams, black cotton soil, brown or reddish loam and even laterites. It should be rich in nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus.
    • Climate: Hot and Humid (21-27 °C of temperature and 75-150 cm of rainfall) (Too heavy rainfall results in low sugar content and deficiency in rainfall produces fibrous crop)

    Distribution

    • The Satluj-Ganga plain from Punjab to Bihar contains about 51% of the total area and about 60% of the country’s total production.
    • The black soil belt from Maharashtra to Tamilnadu along the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
    • Coastal Andhra and Krishna Valley

    What efforts have been made to address this issue?

    • To deal with the sugar surplus, the Indian government considered diverting it to the production of ethanol, an organic compound made by fermenting sugarcane molasses or sugar.
      • Ethanol is the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages and is also used in the chemicals and cosmetics industries.
      • In the transport sector, the use of ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) significantly reduces harmful emissions, such as carbon monoxide and various hydrocarbons, from vehicles.

    Ethanol-blended petrol (EBP)

    • The government launched it in 2003 to reduce crude oil imports and curtail greenhouse gas emissions from petrol-based vehicles; it has been fairly successful.
    • It started with the modest goal of achieving a blending rate of 5%, but the target set for 2025 is 20%.
    • The government also reduced the Goods and Services Tax on ethanol from 18% to 5% in 2021.
    • In the same year, of the 394 lakh tonnes of total sugar produced, about 350 lakh tonnes were diverted to produce ethanol, while India achieved a blending rate of 10% months ahead of the target.

    How does excessive sugarcane cultivation impact groundwater?

    • Sugarcane is a water-intensive crop that requires 3,000 mm of rainfall for cultivation, but top-growing States get 1,000-1,200 mm, relying heavily on groundwater from confined aquifers.
      • As per a Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) report of 2022, 100 kg of sugar needs two lakh litres of groundwater for irrigation, raising concerns  of drought and groundwater-stress in low rainfall regions.

    What are the solutions to this problem?

    • Introducing fair and comprehensive subsidy schemes for a variety of crops can help farmers diversify as well as distribute cultivation evenly, prevent monocultures, and ensure an equitable income.
    • The availability of a wider range of profitable and less resource-intensive crops can lower the strain on vital natural resources.
    • Using environmentally responsible sugarcane cultivation practices that prioritise groundwater.
      • In drip irrigation, water is allowed to drip slowly but directly to the roots of sugarcane plants, reducing water consumption by up to 70% relative to the current flood irrigation method.

    What is the way forward?

    • Concerted efforts to adopt cleaner practices such as rainwater harvesting, wastewater treatment, and canal irrigation networks, will help minimise stress on groundwater reservoirs.
    • A better and more sustainable way would be to assess and then correct incentives that skew in favour of sugarcane over other crops.

    TH

     75 Endemic Birds of India:Study

    Syllabus :GS 3/Environment 

    In News

    The publication, titled 75 Endemic Birds of India, was recently released on the 108th foundation day of the ZSI.

    About the publication 

    • It highlights the importance of endemic bird species in the country. 
    • The details of endemic bird species contained in the publication include etymology (meanings of scientific names) and their historical relevance along with vital facts such as subspecies’ differences, distinguishing traits, preferred habitats, breeding habits, and food preferences.
    • It points out that the 75 bird species belong to 11 different orders, 31 families, and 55 genera, and exhibit remarkable distribution patterns across various regions in India.

    Major Highlights of the publication

    •  India is home to 1,353 bird species, which represents approximately 12.40% of global bird diversity 
      • Of these 1,353 bird species, 78 (5%) are endemic to the country and are not reported in other parts of the world. 
        • of the 78 species, three species have not been recorded in the last few decades. 
        • They are the Manipur Bush Quail (Perdicula manipurensis), listed as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species with its last recorded sighting in 1907;
        •  the Himalayan Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa), listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ with its last recorded sighting in 1876; and 
        • the Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus), listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ with its last confirmed sighting in 2009.
    • Region wise :
      • Western Ghats:  The highest number of endemic species have been recorded in the Western Ghats, with 28 bird species. 
        • Some of the interesting species recorded in the country’s bio-geographic hotspot are the Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus); Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columboides); Ashambu Laughing Thrush (Montecincla meridionalis); and the White-bellied Sholakili (Sholicola albiventris).
      • Andaman and Nicobar Islands : 25 bird species are endemic to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
    • Some interesting bird species which are only found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Nicobar Megapode (Megapodius nicobariensis); Nicobar Serpent Eagle (Spilornis klossi); Andaman Crake (Rallina canningi); and Andaman Barn Owl (Tyto deroepstorffi).
    • Eastern Himalayas :Four species of birds are endemic to the Eastern Himalayas, and one each to the Southern Deccan plateau and central Indian forest.
    • Protection status wise :Of the 78 endemic species, 25 are classified as ‘Threatened’ by the IUCN. 
      • Three species (Bugun Liocichla or Liocichla bugunorum; Himalayan Quail or Ophrysia superciliosa; Jerdon’s Courser or Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’. 
      • Five of the endemic birds in India are categorised as ‘Endangered’, and 17 as ‘Vulnerable’, while 11 are categorised as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List.

    Suggestions 

    • The publication is aimed at making information about endemic birds of the country available to everyone, and highlighting the efforts to conserve species that are found only in restricted areas.
    • Since endemic species are restrictive in nature, it is important that their habitats are conserved so that they don’t dwindle out.

    The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) 

    • It was established on 1st July, 1916 to promote survey, exploration and research leading to the advancement in our knowledge of various aspects of exceptionally rich life of the erstwhile British Indian Empire. 
    • The survey has its genesis in the establishment of the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum at Calcutta in 1875.

    Source:TH

    Revised manufacturing rules for drug firms

    Syllabus:GS3/Economy

    News

    • Recently the center government directed all pharmaceutical companies in the country to implement the revised Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

    Background

    • There have been a string of incidents where other countries have reported alleged contamination in India-manufactured syrups, eye-drops, and eye ointments. The deaths of children in the Gambia and Uzbekistan, three persons in the United States, and six deaths in Cameroon have been linked to these products.
    • A risk-based inspection of 162 manufacturing units by the government found several deficiencies — incoming raw materials not being tested before use, product quality not being reviewed , absence of quality failure investigation, infrastructure deficiency to prevent cross-contamination, faulty design of manufacturing and testing areas, missing qualified professionals, and poor documentation.

    What are the major changes?

    • Quality control:The revised GMP guidelines focus on quality control measures, proper documentation, and IT backing to maintain quality of medicines produced.It introduces pharmaceutical quality systems, quality risk management, product quality review, and validation of equipment.
    • Stability studies: The companies will also have to carry out stability studies as per the climate conditions. “Most companies at present keep their samples stored under recommended conditions and test for various parameters from time to time. Now, they will be needed to mandatorily maintain the drugs in a stability chamber, set the proper temperature and humidity, and carry out an accelerated stability test as well.”
    • GMP-related computerized systems:The guidelines also state that companies should have GMP-related computerized systems, which ensure that there is no tampering of data related to the processes. Such GMP systems will prevent unauthorized access and changes to the data. There will also be controls against omission of data. In case sensitive data is entered manually to the system, there will be additional checks to validate the accuracy of the data. Backups would also be created to ensure there is no loss of data.
    • Schedule M:The new schedule M also lists out the requirements for additional types of products, including biological products, agents with radioactive ingredients, or plant-derived products. also lists the requirement for investigational products being manufactured for clinical trials.
    • Larger companies with a turnover of over Rs 250 crore have been asked to implement the changes within six months, while medium and small-scale enterprises with turnover of less than Rs 250 crore have been asked to do so within a year.

    Significance of the improved standards

    • Implementation of the new norms will bring the Indian industry on par with global standards.
    • It will improve the quality of drugs in the domestic markets. Most of the 8,500 manufacturing units that are not WHO-GMP certified supply medicine within India.
    • The improved standards will ensure that pharmaceutical companies follow standard processes, quality control measures, and do not cut corners, improving the quality of medicines available in India as well as sold in the global market.

    Concluding Remarks

    • This is a welcome step by the government as it will ensure that all the manufacturing units in the country are at par with global standards, reducing the need for repeated inspections by different regulators. It will make India a quality pharmaceutical hub of the world. In addition, it will ensure that our citizens also receive export-quality medicines.
    • To help such companies, the department of pharmaceuticals also has a scheme to provide credit-linked capital and interest subsidy for upgradation of MSME units.

    Source:IE

    BharatNet

    Syllabus: GS2/Government Interventions and Policies

    News: 

    • The Union Cabinet recently approved an outlay of ₹1.39-lakh crore for BharatNet.

    About the BharatNet Project:

    • BharatNet is one of the biggest rural telecom projects in the world approved by the Union Cabinet on 25.10.2011. 
    • It is implemented in a phased manner to connect all Gram Panchayats (approximately 2.5 lakh) in the country by providing non-discriminatory access to broadband connectivity to all the telecom service providers. 
    • Objective is to enable access providers like mobile operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Cable TV operators, content providers to launch various services such as applications like e-health, e-education and e-governance in rural and remote India. 
    • The project is being executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) namely Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), which has been incorporated under Indian Companies Act 1956. 
    • BBNL is partnering with village level entrepreneurs (VLEs) to provide connectivity.

    Status of the Project

    • About 1.94 lakh villages have already been connected, the rest are expected to be connected in the next 2.5 years.
    • Further, 647,759 Km of OFC(Optical Fibre Cable) has been laid. 
    • Additionally, 583,551 Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) connections are commissioned and 104,674 Wi-Fi hotspots are installed to ensure last-mile connectivity. (as on 24.07.2023)

    Expected Benefits of the Project:

    • It would reduce the cost of broadband services in India.
    • It would provide internet connectivity to citizens especially in rural areas via Wi-Fi Hotspots.
    • It would provide a boost to the economy and would generate around 10 crore man-days of employment during the rollout of the project.
    • It will help in the expedition of government’s initiatives such as Make In India, Start-up India, Stand-up India etc
    • It is considered to be the backbone of ‘Digital India’ aiming to reduce the digital divide between urban and rural India.

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    Gnana Muyarchi

     

    Syllabus: GS1/Art and Culture

    Context

    • 18th Century Tamil manuscripts found in a monastery in Italy.

    About

    • The Gnanamuyarchi, a palm manuscript from the 18th Century, is discovered in an Armenian monastery in northern Italy.
    • It is a copy of the first Tamil translation of Spiritual Exercise, written by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century.
      • The translation is most likely by Michele Bertoldi, known in Tamil as Gnanaprakasasamy.

    Background and Significance

    • The discovery was made by Tamil Bharathan, a doctoral scholar from the Special Centre for Tamil Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
    • These palm manuscripts are of utmost importance in preserving historical and cultural knowledge, offering valuable insights into the time period they originate from, providing a firsthand account of the social, literary, and religious practices during that era.
    • The manuscripts are written in Tamil, showcasing the influence of the language and its spread beyond its homeland.

    Unveiling the Origin

    • The library categorises these manuscripts as Indian Papyrus Lamulic Language – XIII Century.
    • The prevailing theory among those in charge of the monastery is that the Armenians in Chennai, India, could have played a role in bringing these manuscripts to Italy, highlighting the interconnectedness and mobility of cultures during that period.

    Promising future research

    • By comparing the manuscripts, Tamil Bharathan hopes to gain a clearer understanding of their content, translations, and any potential variations.
    • This discovery adds another chapter to the rich tapestry of ancient manuscripts and their preservation, and serves as a reminder of the diverse historical interactions and intellectual exchange that occurred across different regions and cultures.

    TH

    Adichanallur

    Syllabus :GS 1/History/Places in News 

    In News

    The Union Finance Minister visited Adichanallur and  laid the foundation stone for the ‘Iconic Site Museum’ at the Adichanallur site.

    • The museum will be built as a tribute to the history of Iron Age culture in southern India, in the context of Adichanallur,‘

    About Adichanallur

    • It is  an ancient and historical Iron-age burial site located in Thoothukudi District Tamil Nadu, set along the banks of the Tamirabarani (Porunai) river. 
    • This archaeological site was one of five declared to be developed as ‘Iconic Sites’ in the Union Budget 2020-21.
    • Various objects dating back to 467 BCE and food grains such as millets and paddy dated 665 BCE have been unearthed here. 

     

    Image Courtesy: TH

    Government’s Initiatives and Efforts 

    • The government is working tirelessly to repatriate artefacts belonging to Adichallanur from abroad, with a focus on items currently held in Berlin. 
    • The ongoing development of five sites, known as ‘Panchtheerth’, based on Babasaheb Ambedkar’s life, along with the construction of the National War Memorial and National Police Memorial in Delhi, a tribute to India’s security forces. 
    • Ten new Tribal Freedom Fighter Museums are being established across the country.
    • Numerous heritage sites, including the Somnath, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and more, have been revitalised. 
    • Several tourism circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, such as the Buddhist Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, and Himalayan Circuit, are being established to promote tourism and bring due recognition to these places.
    • In the realm of knowledge preservation, over 3.3 lakh manuscripts containing 3.4 crore pages have been digitised
    • A plan for a new National Museum in Delhi, with 950 rooms spread across the North and South Blocks, has been announced. 
      • This National Museum will feature eight thematic segments, showcasing India’s civilizational culture spanning over 5,000 years.
    • The Union Finance Minister also said that the ‘Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya‘ has been established as a tribute to every Prime Minister of India since Independence. 
      • This museum serves as a narrative record of their contributions to the nation’s development over the past 75 years.

    Source:PIB

    Devika Rejuvenation Project

    Syllabus:GS1/Geography

    News

    • North India’s first River Rejuvenation Project of river Devika is nearing completion.
    • The project was launched to protect the sanctity of the holy Devika River in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).It was built at a cost of over Rs 190 crore on the lines of Namami Gange Programme.

    Devika river

    • It originates from the hilly Suddha Mahadev temple in Udhampur district and flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the Ravi river.
    • Devika is also known as Gupt Ganga, as it appears and disappears at many places.
    • The river holds religious significance as it is revered by Hindus as the elder sister of river Ganga.This holy river finds mention in Padma Purana and other scriptures.
    • There are many Shiva lingams on the bank of the river, so great importance is attached to the sacred bathing in its water on special days.Also a fair is organized on the eve of Baisakhi every year on the bank of the river.

    Source: PIB

    Amrit Bharat Station Scheme 

    Syllabus: GS3/Infrastructure

    In News

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of 508 railway stations as a part of the Amrit Bharat Stations scheme.

    Plan for the Amrit Stations

    • All the Amrit stations will be built to meet the standards of green buildings. Government visions that by 2030, India will be a country whose railway network will run on net zero emissions.
    • Every railway station will be a symbol of the modern aspirations of the country along with its ancient heritage.
    • Jaipur Railway Stations will have glimpses of Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort from Rajasthan, Jammu Tawi Railway Station in Jammu and Kashmir will be inspired by the famous Raghunath Mandir and Dimapur Station of Nagaland will showcase the local architecture of 16 different tribes from the region.

    About Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

    • The scheme is set to transform and revitalize 1309 railway stations across the nation.
    • It envisages to take up 76 railway stations over Central Railway for upgradation/modernization and out of that, foundation stone will be laid at 38 stations. 
    • It involves preparation of Master Plans and their implementation in phases to improve the amenities at the stations like improvement of station access, circulating areas, waiting halls, toilets, lifts/escalators as necessary, cleanliness, free Wi-Fi, kiosks for local products through schemes like ‘One Station One Product’, better passenger information systems, Executive Lounges, nominated spaces for business meetings, landscaping etc. 
    • The scheme also envisages improvement of building, integrating the station with both sides of the city, multimodal integration, amenities for Divyangjans, sustainable and environment friendly solutions, provision of ballastless tracks, ‘Roof Plazas’ as per necessity, phasing and feasibility and creation of city centres at the station in the long term.

    Source: PIB

    Supernovae – the universe’s engines

     

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    Context:

    • A supernova took place at the end of a star’s life cycle was recently seen in the news.

    About:

    • A supernova is the largest explosion of a star that takes place in space. It is a cosmic engine that drives the evolution of new stars and planets.
    • A supernova happens when a particularly massive star has exhausted fuel to fuse and blows up.

    What Causes a Supernova?

    • It happens where there is a change in the core, or centre, of a star. A change can occur in two different ways:
    1. In the binary star systems: One of the stars, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, steals matter from its companion star. Eventually, the white dwarf accumulates too much matter that causes the star to explode, resulting in a supernova.
    2. At the end of a single star’s lifetime: As the star runs out of nuclear fuel, some of its mass flows into its core. Eventually, the core is so heavy that it cannot withstand its own gravitational force. The core collapses, which results in the giant explosion of a supernova. The sun is a single star, but it does not have enough mass to become a supernova.

    Significance

    • A supernova expels large amounts of energy, radiation, and elements into the space around it. The heavy metals like gold and uranium etc found in earth’s crust were first created in the crucible of some supernova aeons ago.

    TH

    Indian Eagle-owl

    Syllabus: GS3/Biodiversity, Species in News

    In News

    • The Indian eagle-owl was classified as a species only in recent years, thus distinguishing it from the Eurasian eagle-owl.

    About 

    • Scientific Name: Bubo bengalensis
    • It is also called the rock eagle-owl or Bengal eagle-owl, it is a large horned owl species native to hilly and rocky scrub forests in the Indian Subcontinent.
    • It was earlier treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian eagle-owl.
    • Appearance: It is splashed with brown and grey, and has a white throat patch with black small stripes.

     

    • Behaviour: It is a nocturnal species usually seen in pairs. It has a deep resonant booming call that may be heard at dawn and dusk.
    • Hunting: They primarily hunt rats and mice, but will also take birds up to the size of peafowl.
    • Habitat & Distribution: They are seen in scrub and light to medium forests but are especially seen near rocky places within the mainland of the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and below 1,500 m (4,900 ft) elevation. 
      • Humid evergreen forest and extremely arid areas are avoided.
    • IUCN Status: Least Concern.

    Source: TH

    Clouded leopards

    Syllabus: GS2/Government Interventions and Policies

    News

    • Scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) recently observed a clouded leopard in western Assam’s Manas National Park.

    About the Wildlife Institute of India (WII)

    • It is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.
    • It was established at Dehradun in 1982.
    • Aims & Objectives: 
      • Build up scientific knowledge on wildlife resources.
      •  Provide information and advice on specific wildlife management problems.
      • Develop as a regional centre of international importance on wildlife and natural resource conservation, etc.

    About Clouded Leopard  

    • Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)  is a wild cat inhabiting forest habitat.
    • It has large, dexterous paws with specialized footpads for gripping branches. Specialized ankle bones allow varied positions for climbing, including climbing headfirst down trees.
    • Another distinctive feature is its long canine teeth, resembling  Ice Age saber tooth tigers. These canines are longer in proportion to skull size than those of any other species of wild cat. 
    • While more closely related to big cats, the clouded leopard is frequently described as bridging the gap between big and small cats due to its smaller stature. 
    • It has proportionately short legs and a long tail. The coat is brown or yellowish-gray and covered with irregular dark stripes, spots and blotches. 
    • Conservation Status: Vulnerable 
    • The clouded leopard is categorised into two species: 
      • the Mainland clouded leopard distributed from central Nepal, Bangladesh, and Assam (eastern India) to peninsular Malaysia, and 
      • the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) native to Borneo and Sumatra.

    Source: TH

    Festival of Libraries

    Syllabus: GS2/Government Interventions and Policie

    News:

    • The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the ‘Festival of Libraries’ in New Delhi recently. 

    About the Library festival

    • This Festival is being organized by the Ministry of Culture.
    • It aims to promote development and digitization of Libraries and cultivate the culture of reading.

    Related Government Initiatives: 

    • National Mission on Libraries: It aims for Upgradation of Libraries, promotion of ICT application in all Libraries, Modernize Library Management, a National Survey of Libraries & Citizens and sustained development of libraries & information services in pursuance of National Knowledge Commission’s recommendations. 
    • National Virtual Library of India: It is being developed to achieve the national goal of ‘One Nation, One Digital Library’ by creating comprehensive digital resources and infrastructure with related user-friendly content discovery interfaces. 
    • Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL): It is an initiative to protect Indian traditional medicinal knowledge and prevent its misappropriation at International Patent Offices. 

    Source: PIB