Daily Current Affairs – 27-06-2023

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    Char Dham Yatra

    Syllabus: GS 1/Art and Culture 

    In News

    • State Disaster Management data show that as many as 149 pilgrims died in the first 65 days of the annual Char Dham Yatra season in Uttarakhand

    About Char Dham Yatra

    • Uttarakhand, also known as Devbhoomi or the Land of Gods, is home to numerous temples and welcomes devotees all year round.
    • Among the countless religious sites and circuits that devotees visit in Uttarakhand, one of the most prominent is the Char Dham Yatra.
    •  This Yatra or pilgrimage is a tour of four holy sites – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – nestled high up in the Himalayas.
      •  In Hindi, ‘char’ means four and ‘dham’ refers to religious destinations.
    • The high-altitude shrines remain shut for around six months every year, opening in summers (April or May) and closing with the onset of winter (October or November). 
    • It is believed that one should complete the Char Dham Yatra in a clockwise direction. 
      • Hence, the pilgrimage starts from Yamunotri, proceeds towards Gangotri, onto Kedarnath, and finally ends at Badrinath. 

    Importance 

    • The Char Dham Yatra is as divine as it is arduous but fulfills the soul!
    • The yatra is not only a religious extravaganza but a massive revenue and employment generating exercise for Uttarakhand. 
    • The yatra provides direct and indirect employment to over 10 lakh people such as guides, staff of hotels, guides, restaurants and eateries, cab drivers, priests, mule operators, porters, travel operators and the handicrafts industry.

    Char Dham

    • Four sacred places namely Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are known as Char Dham.
      • The Yamunotri temple, lodged in a narrow gorge close to the source of River Yamuna (the second-most sacred Indian river after River Ganga) in Uttarkashi district, is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. 
      • The district of Uttarkashi is also home to Gangotri dedicated to Goddess Ganga, the most sacred of all Indian rivers. 
      • Located in the Rudraprayag district lies Kedarnath, dedicated to Lord Shiva.
      • Badrinath, home to the sacred Badrinarayan Temple, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. 

    Char Dham Project 

    • The ₹12,000 crore project was announced on December 23, 2016. It aims at broadening the roads of about 900 km of national highways for safer, smoother and faster traffic movement. 
    • They connect the holy shrines in Uttarakhand: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. 
    • The project also includes the Tanakpur-Pithoragarh stretch of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra route.

    Source:TH

    Flash Floods

    Syllabus: GS-3/ Disaster Management, GS1/ Geography

    In News

    • Recently the Chandigarh-Manali highway was blocked following flash floods and landslides,in parts of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

    What are Flash floods?

    • Flash Floods are highly localized events of short duration with a very high peak and usually have less than six hours between the occurrence of the rainfall and peak flood.

    Causes of Flash Floods 

    • Natural factors:
      • Glacial Lake Outburst: A Glacial Lake Outburst Flood, is a sudden release of water from a lake fed by glacier melt that has formed at the side, in front, within, beneath, or on the surface of a glacier.
      • Cloudbursts: lead to sudden, intense rainfall in a short period of time and cause flash floods.
      • Depression and cyclonic storms in the coastal areas of Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh etc cause flash floods.
      • Short monsoon season: Nearly 75 percent of the total Indian rainfall is concentrated over a short monsoon season of four months (June to September). As a result, the rivers witness a heavy discharge during these months. 
      • Wildfires:Wildfires destroy forests and other vegetation, which in turn weakens the soil and makes it less permeable for water to seep through.
    • Anthropogenic factors:
      • Deforestation: Forests help reduce the speed and amount of water of a flood as their roots help water percolate down into the ground more easily ,but in case of deforestation this buffer-zone is removed and flood water is allowed to reach the plain areas.
      • Dam failure: Flash floods can also be caused when water goes beyond the levels of a dam.
      • Climate Change: Climate change resulted in erratic weather patterns and extreme weather events like hurricanes etc. resulting in flash floods.
      • Infrastructure development in hilly areas.

    Vulnerable areas for flash floods

    • Flash floods are common in mountainous terrains, where there are conditions created for it in terms of the soil, rock, geology and slope. 
    • In India Himalayan states face the challenge of overflowing glacial lakes, formed due to the melting of glaciers.
    • Urban areas located near small rivers where hard surfaces such as roads and concrete do not allow the water to absorb into ground.

    Recents incidents of flash floods in India

    • Disaster in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district in 2021 after a  portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off and a sudden flood in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers triggered widespread panic and large-scale devastation in the high mountain areas.
    • Kedarnath flood in Uttarakhand led by cloudburst and heavy rainfall led to widespread devastation in 2013.

    Impacts

    • Loss of life: India is the worst flood-affected country in the world, after Bangladesh, and accounts for one-fifth of the global death count due to floods. 
    • Property Damage: In addition to the force of the water, flash floods carry large debris such as boulders. This causes damage to infrastructure and property.
    • Landslides: Flash floods are accompanied by landslides, which are sudden movements of rock, boulders, earth or debris down a slope.

    Solutions

    • Developing proper urban drainage systems and cleaning and unblocking drains.
    • Promote and build rainwater harvesting mechanisms so more and more rainwater can be stored.
    • Improving flood warning and disaster management mechanisms.
    • Infrastructure development should be sensitive to the region’s ecology along with mitigation to reduce the extent of damages.
    • Dredging:It is essential for river maintenance and flood prevention. Widening and deepening a river channel allows it to carry more water, reducing the risk of the river bursting its banks.

    Source:IE

     

    PM Visit to Egypt 

    Syllabus: GS2/ International Relations

    In News

    • Recently PM Modi was on a two day visit to Egypt from 24-25 June 2023.The visit is the first by any Indian PM since 1997.

    Outcomes of visit

    • India and Egypt elevated their relationship to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ which is supposed to comprise four key elements, Political and Security cooperation, scientific and academic collaboration; cultural and people-to-people contacts.
    • The two countries also signed three more pacts on —
      • Agriculture and allied sectors;
      • Protection and preservation of monuments 
      • Archaeological sites; and competition law.
    • The leader discussed further cooperation in G-20, highlighting the issues of food and energy insecurity, climate change and the need for the Global South to have a concerted voice.
    • PM Modi was conferred with the ‘Order of the Nile’, Egypt’s highest honor, by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at the Presidential palace in Cairo.

    Places visited by PM in Egypt

    • Al-Hakim Mosque in Cairo: The 11th century Mosque was restored with the help of India’s Dawoodi Bohra community.It is the fourth oldest mosque in Cairo, and the second Fatimid mosque to be built in the city.
    • Apart from touring the pyramids of Giza, he also visited the Heliopolis Commonwealth War Cemetery and offered tributes to the Indian soldiers who fought and laid down their lives in Egypt and Palestine during the First World War. 

    Historical ties between India and Egypt

    • India and Egypt shared a crucial diplomatic relation since 3rd century BC when Indian Emperor Ashoka dispatched his envoys to the court of the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy II Philadelphus. 
    • The Egyptian king also dispatched his own ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court at Patliputra. 
    • This incident marks the earliest known interaction between the two ancient civilizations, laying the foundation of diplomatic engagement between two.

    Evolution of Relationship between India and Egypt:

    • India established a bilateral relationship with Cairo just three days after it got Independence on August 15, 1947. The bond further solidified in later years.
    • In the 1956 Suez Canal crisis when Egypt nationalized the canal leading Israel, and later France and Britain, to attack Egypt,Nehru condemned the aggression against Cairo.
    • Non-Aligned Movement (NAM):Both the nations played a pivotal role in founding the NAM along with Yugoslavia, Indonesia and Ghana.

    Divergence in relations:

    • After 1973 Egypt dumped its military ties to the Soviet Union and turned to the US as a strategic partner.Also Egypt was the first Arab state to recognise Israel.
    • India with its deepening anti-Western rhetoric and empathy for radical Arab States in the 1970s, was not empathetic to the concerns and interests of Egypt.Thus India put its partnership with Egypt on the back burner in later years.

    Revival of relations

    • Since 2014, India has sought to engage with West Asian countries. Also India realized that Egypt is a key player in the region.Hence it started deepening its cooperation with the nation.
    • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, visited India earlier this year as the chief guest for Republic Day celebrations.

    Area of Cooperation

    • Economic and Trade cooperation:
    • Egypt dispatched three aircraft cargoes laden with a consignment of 300,000 doses of the Remdesivir vaccine during the 2021 covid pandemic in India .In 2022 India reciprocated by sending shipments of wheat to Egypt in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    • India was Egypt’s fifth largest trading partner during April 2022-Dec 2022.It was the 11th-largest importer of Egyptian goods and the 5th-largest exporter to Egypt during the same time. 
    • India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement: It has been in operation since 1978 and is based on the Most Favored Nation clause.
    • Defence Cooperation:
    • Desert Warrior – Joint tactical exercise between air forces of India and Egypt.
    • Cyclone 2023: A two-week-long joint exercise conducted by the armies of India and Egypt.
    • Investments in infrastructure:Metro projects in Cairo and Alexandria, a Suez Canal economic zone, a second channel of the Suez Canal, and a new administrative capital in a Cairo suburb. More than 50 Indian companies have invested more than $3.15 billion in Egypt from Delhi.

    Significance of Egypt for India

    • Strategic location of Egypt: Due to its proximity to one of the major choke points, i.e. Suez Canal makes it a significant player in the larger geopolitics of the Indian Ocean.Also 12 percent of global trade passes through the Suez Canal. 
    • Market for Defence equipment: India is exporting defence items to over 42 countries and Egypt is one of them. Also the country has shown its interest in procuring India’s Tejas aircraft.
    • Indian Diaspora:The vibrant Indian presence in Egypt is evidenced by a population of around 3,600 Indians who are engaged in diverse professions.

    Challenges

    • China’s engagement with Egypt: The increasing infrastructural investments by China in Egypt is a concern for India.
    • Economic issues faced by Egypt hampers the trade relation between both the nations.

    Way Ahead

    • The recent visit offers a strong platform to build a relationship for a new era. There are immense opportunities for collaboration using mutually beneficial and liberalized economic and trade regimes and setting up of fundamental architectures to enable such agendas. 
    • Also Agriculture, technology, defense, green finance, South-to-South cooperation, countering terrorism and violent extremism, and other areas of convergence are there for cooperation between both the nations.

    Source:IE

     

    Inflation & Greedflation

    Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & Related Issues

    In News

    • Latest financial reports from the US and Europe continue to show that firms — across the board — seem to be making more profit than what their overall sales should merit – leading to Greedflation.

    About Inflation — and disinflation, deflation and reflation

    • Inflation: Inflation or the inflation rate is the rate at which the general price level rises.  When it is reported that the inflation rate was 5% in June it implies that the general price level of the economy (as measured by a representative basket of goods and services) was 5% more than what it was in June 2022.
    • There are two main ways in which inflation happens. 
      • Either prices get pushed up because input costs have risen — this is called cost-push inflation.
      • Or they are pulled up because there is excess demand — this is called demand-pull inflation.
    • Disinflation: Disinflation refers to the trend when the inflation rate decelerates.
      • Suppose it was 10% in April, 7% in May and 5% in June. This is disinflation. 
      • In other words, disinflation refers to a period when even though prices are rising (or inflation is happening), it is happening at a slower rate each passing month.
    • Deflation: Deflation is the exact opposite of inflation. Imagine if the general prices level in June was 5% lower than what it was in June last year. That’s deflation.
    • Reflation: Reflation typically follows deflation as policymakers try to pump up economic activity either by government spending more and/or interest rates being reduced.

    How is inflation solved?

    • If inflation is because of excess demand
      • The central banks raise interest rates to bring overall demand in line with overall supply.
    • However, if inflation is due to cost pressures, 
      • Even then the central banks raise interest rates. 
      • Raising interest rates does nothing to boost supply. Still central banks do what they can: contain demand because that is all they can do.
        • The idea is to prevent something called the wage-price spiral.

    About wage-price spiral

    • If prices go up, it is natural that workers will ask for higher wages. 
      • But if wages go up, it only fuels the overall demand, while doing nothing to boost the supply. 
      • This will end in further inflation surges because while a worker has more money, so does his colleague. In other words, inflation rises.
    • Raising interest rates slows down overall economic activity and demand, often leading to job losses
    • Through this rather unjust and iniquitous method, the central banks prevent a wage-price spiral and consequent inflation.

    About Greedflation 

    • Imagining a scenario: What if prices were going up not because workers were getting higher wages but because their companies — were making more profits?
      • If the input costs have gone up, a businessman or a company will be forced to raise their prices otherwise they cannot sustain their business. 
      • In such a case, higher sales in terms of rupees do not lead to higher profits because even the input costs have increased.
    • Explains Greedflation: Greedflation simply means (corporate) greed is fuelling inflation. In other words, instead of the wage-price spiral, it is the profit-price spiral that is in play.
      • In essence, greedflation implies that companies exploited the inflation that people were experiencing by putting up their prices way beyond just covering their increased costs and then used that to maximise their profit margins. 
      • That, in turn, further fuelled inflation.
    • Observed in developed countries: In the developed countries — in Europe and the US — there is a growing consensus that greedflation is the real culprit.
    • Examples:
      • Europe: While the biggest driver of high inflation that Europe witnessed in 2022 (since the start of the war) was the spike in energy costs but there was very little contribution of higher wages. There was, however, an extra and significant injection of inflation from rising profits of firms.
      • India: The Indian corporate sector has generated superlative profits in the post pandemic period. Profits during recent times have been nearly thrice the profits corporations earned earlier. 

    Suggestions & Way ahead

    • Profit margins should shrink and the share of corporate sector income going to labor compensation (or the labor share of income) should rise as unemployment falls and the economy heats up.
    • one effective way to prevent corporate power from being channeled into higher prices in the coming year would be a temporary excess profits tax 

    Source: TH

    World Drug Report 2023

    Syllabus: GS2: Health/ GS3: Internal Security

    In News

    • Recently, the World Drug Report 2023 was released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    About the Report 

    • The World Drug Report is published annually by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 
    • The first report was published in 1997, the same year the agency was established.
    • The World Drug Report provides an annual overview of the major developments in drug markets for the various drug categories, ranging from production to trafficking, including development of new routes and modalities, as well as consumption.

    UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

    • It is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime, in addition to being responsible for implementing the United Nations lead programme on terrorism. 
    • Established in 1997 and headquartered in Vienna.
    • UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from governments, to carry out the majority of our work.
    • The UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 is committed to promoting human rights, gender equality and disability inclusion, as well as protecting children and harnessing the transformative power of youth. 

    Key Findings of the Report

    Social and economic disparities and Public Health

    • Increase in Drug use: Drug use continues to be high worldwide. In 2021, 1 in every 17 people aged 15–64 in the world had used a drug in the past 12 months, 23 percent more than a decade earlier.
      • Cannabis continues to be the most used drug in 2021. 

    • Injecting drug use on rise: New data put the global estimate of people who injected drugs in 2021 at 13.2 million, 18 percent higher than in 2020.
      • Injecting drug use continues to be an important facilitating driver of the global epidemic of hepatitis C, with WHO estimating that 23 percent of new hepatitis C infections are attributable to unsafe drug injection.
    • Unavailability of pharmaceutical opioids: Large inequalities remain in the availability of pharmaceutical opioids for medical consumption. Some 86 percent of the world’s population live without adequate access to pharmaceutical opioids for pain relief and care.
    • Barriers to treatment: An estimated 39.5 million people worldwide were suffering from drug use disorders in 2021, but only 1 in 5 people with drug use disorders received drug treatment. The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the treatment gap. Barriers in accessing treatment are multiple but women are most affected.
    • Young people are more vulnerable: The use of cannabis among 15–16-year-olds varies by region, from less than 3 percent in Asia to over 17 percent in Oceania but in most regions the proportion of adolescents using the drug is higher than in the general population aged 15–64. 

    Illicit Drug Economies and Displacement

    • Amazon Basin: Drug cultivation, trafficking and crimes that affect the environment are surging in the Amazon Basin, due in part to an abundance of natural resources alongside a limited State presence, persistent corruption and structural factors related to informality, inequality and unemployment. 
    • Multiple illicit activities: Drug trafficking constitutes just one of the multiple illicit activities in which organized criminal groups are involved, together with land-grabbing, illegal logging, illegal mining, trafficking in wildlife and other crimes that affect the environment across the region. 
    • Global methamphetamine manufacture: Trafficking and use remains concentrated in East and South-East Asia and North America, with the two subregions accounting for almost 90 percent of methamphetamine seized globally in the period 2017–2021.
    • Illicit opium production: The bulk of global illicit opium production continues to take place in a limited number of countries, notably in Afghanistan. Although the global area under opium poppy cultivation increased by more than 26 percent from the previous year, global opium production declined marginally (3 percent) over the same period. This was due to less opium being produced in Afghanistan (10 percent less) as a consequence of droughts in early 2022.

    • Increase in Drug Trade due to the internet: Growing use of the Internet and other digital means of communication, including darknet marketplaces catering for the illegal trade in drugs, social media platforms, and other encrypted communication applications, facilitate the drug trade in new ways.
    • Drug abuse in displaced population: By mid-2022, the number of people who had been forcibly displaced worldwide had exceeded 100 million, which was more than double the nearly 43 million who were forcibly displaced a decade earlier. 
      • Among displaced populations, the initiation of, or transition to, harmful use of substances is complex. 

    Synthetics and Innovations in the Supply of Plant Based Drugs

    • Production of cannabidiol: Over the last few years, but mainly since 2020, there has been a new trend of synthesis of cannabinoids mainly from a non-psychoactive substance occurring in the cannabis plant, namely cannabidiol (CBD). 
      • These cannabinoids, possibly developed to evade drug laws, have been sold in various forms (mainly edibles, vaping cartridges and sprayed on low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis) for non-medical use. The most common are delta-8-THC and hexahydrocannabinol (HHC).  
    • Synthetic Drugs: Without the need for plant-based inputs that require large tracts of land in territories with weak rule of law, synthetic drugs only require cheap chemical inputs that can be easily sourced. 
      • Illegal manufacture of synthetic drugs is expanding in low- and middle-income countries, including in countries with strong rule of law. 
      • Synthetic drugs offer criminals several advantages, namely lower operational costs, fewer production impediments, and reduced risks of detection, interdiction and prosecution because they can be produced closer to destination.
    • Increase in new psychoactive substances (NPS): Traffickers continue to innovate and the range of drugs available on the market has started to expand again. After several years of stabilization, the number of new psychoactive substances on the global market increased in 2021. Of the 618 substances reported to be on the global market in 2021, 87 were newly identified.

    Frameworks for the Medical use of Controlled Drugs

    • New research on the use of controlled drugs in treating mental health conditions shows that such treatments have potential but regulators run the risk of increasing harm if public health is not prioritized over commercial interests.
    • If frameworks for medical use are not well designed and adequately resourced, ensuring access and availability of the drugs for medical purposes, approaches could contribute to the creation of illicit markets through limited supply or diversion of therapies for non-medical use.

    Suggestions as per the Report

    • Reducing inequalities and the gap in access to treatment and comprehensive services to minimize the adverse public health and social consequences of drug use in a continuum of care for people who use drugs, especially vulnerable and marginalized populations, is critical.
    • Harms to the environment and to remote and vulnerable communities call for more integrated responses to illicit drug economies at the local and national level.
    • The continuously shifting strategies and tactics used by criminal groups and traffickers, away from traditional production methods and modes, require law enforcement strategies that are more targeted and strategic. 
    • Thoughtful regulations can help shape the drug landscape to limit diversion, shrink illicit markets, and reduce public health harms when jurisdictions are considering expanding access to psychoactive substances for a growing range of therapies. 

    Drug Trafficking in Indian Ocean 

    • Drug production impacting Indian Ocean states takes place in two main regions: the “Golden Crescent”, comprising illicit opium production areas in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the “Golden Triangle”, the second largest opium production region in the world, covering Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. 
    • While heroin produced in the Golden Crescent is trafficked through the Southern Route, drug production in the Golden Triangle has shifted to methamphetamines, including Yaba, a highly addictive pill that combines methamphetamines and caffeine, smuggled into South and Southeast Asian countries. 
    • Yaba has become widely popular in Bangladesh, where the drug is trafficked into the country through the Naf River, a fluvial bordering area with Myanmar.

    Source: DTE

    Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Technology

    Syllabus GS3/ Science & Technology, Agriculture

    In News

    • The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare recently signed a MOU with Pixxel Space India Pvt. Limited to develop various geospatial solutions for the Indian Agriculture Ecosystem using Pixxel’s hyperspectral dataset.

    About

    • The project focuses on leveraging sample hyperspectral data from Pixels path finder satellites to develop analytics models focused on crop mapping, crop stage discrimination, crop health monitoring, and soil organic carbon assessments. 
    • This will enable the Government to develop use cases with hyperspectral data provided by Pixel. MNCFC on behalf of the DA&FW will associate with Pixel team for developing and implementing the suitable methodologies.

    Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC)

    • Named after great Indian Statistician P. C. Mahalanobis, was established in 2012 to operationalize the use of space and related technology for better agricultural forecasting and drought assessment. 
    • It comes under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.

    What is Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Technology?

    • Hyperspectral remote sensing, also known as imaging spectroscopy, is currently being used by researchers and scientists with regard to the detection and identification of minerals, terrestrial vegetation, and man-made materials and backgrounds.
    • With advancing technology, imaging spectroscopy has begun to focus on the Earth. The concept of hyperspectral remote sensing began in the mid-80’s and to this point has been used most widely by geologists for the mapping of minerals. 
    • Actual detection of materials is dependent on the spectral coverage, spectral resolution, and signal-to-noise of the spectrometer, the abundance of the material and the strength of absorption features for that material in the wavelength region measured.

    Applications in Agriculture

    • This is an emerging technology with unique capabilities for monitoring agriculture. Crop health monitoring by detecting the changes in chlorophyll content and canopy moisture status, using hyperspectral data would be beneficial to find crop risk management solutions to farmers.
    • Soil nutrient mapping including soil organic carbon assessments is one of the important applications of hyperspectral technology. The soil reflectance observations measured by the sensors offer more direct, cost-effective datasets to estimate soil organic carbon.
    • This will also help to develop the early detection of crop stress, accurate diagnostics of crop stress due to pest/disease or water using hyper spectral data offer numerous opportunities to strengthen the current advisory system of the Government benefiting millions of farmers.
    • The new technology will reduce dependence on manual surveys and measurements which are time consuming and prone to errors.

    Source: PIB

     

    Facts In News

    Kharchi Puja

    Syllabus:GS1: Art & Culture

    In News

    • Kharchi Puja, also called the Festival of 14 Gods, is observed on the eighth day of the new moon in July or August every year. 

    About Kharchi Puja

    • The word ‘Kharchi’ is derived from two Tripuri words–‘khar’ or kharta meaning sin and ‘chi’ or si meaning cleaning.
    • Kharchi Puja is a festival in Tripura, that concentrates on the worship of Chaturdasa Devata, the ancestral deity of the Tripuri people. 
    • It is devoted to the deity of the royal dynasty, Tripura Sundari, also known as Kharchi or Kharcha Baba. 
    • This festival takes place 15 days after Ambu bachi or Ambu pechi. Ambu pechi symbolises the menstruation of the Mother Goddess or Earth Mother as per Tripuri folklore.
      • There is a popular belief that the Earth becomes impure during the menstruation period of the Goddess. Hence, Kharchi Puja is observed to ritualistically clean the Earth after her menstruation is over and wash away the sins of the people in the land.

    Kharchi Puja Rituals

    • Kharchi Puja is observed annually on the Shukla Ashtami day, which falls on the eighth day of the lunar month of Ashadha. Depending on the lunar calendar, the festival’s exact dates change every year. The festival is carried out for seven days in a row.
    • Festival began with the chanting of holy mantras.
    • Construction of the Chaturdasha Mandapa: An important ritual of the festival is the construction of the Chaturdasha Mandapa, which symbolises the royal palace of the Tripuri kings and is constructed by traditional artisans who craft the structure out of bamboo and thatched roofs.
    • Procession of Fourteen Gods: On the day of the main puja, the idols of all the 14 deities from the ancient Ujjayanta Palace are carried by the royal priest Chantai from the temple premises in Agartala to the holy Saidra river where they are dipped in the holy waters of the river and carried back to the temple. 
    • Many cultural performances by local artists add to the charm of the festival.

    Source: IE

     

    Special Olympics World Games

    Syllabus: GS2/ Miscellaneous

    In News 

    • India ended their Special Olympics World Games campaign with a whopping 202 medals.

    About

    • India secured 76 gold, 75 silver and 51 bronze medals in the global multi-sport spectacle that celebrates unity, diversity and special skills among people with intellectual disabilities.

    Special Olympics World Games

    • It was founded in 1968.
    • The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
    • The Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.

    Importance 

    • The Special Olympics mission remains as vital.
    • It offers the opportunity to unite the world like no other event can. Here people with and without disabilities, people of different nations, cultures, political views and religions meet and can overcome existing prejudices with the power of sport.

    How are the Paralympic Games different from the Special Olympics?

    • The Special Olympics is solely  for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Paralympics focus more on physical disabilities. 
    • The Olympics and Paralympics are about elite competition and specialization, and the athletes compete in Olympic and Paralympic Games only once every four years in their sport.
    • In contrast, the Special Olympics provides sporting opportunities throughout the year and across the world. 
    • And in Special Olympics competitions, it’s a fundamental rule that athletes in competitions are matched up with others of the same competitive ability.
    • The Paralympics are run by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
    • The Special Olympics are run by Special Olympics International (SOI). 

    Source:TH

    Fibonacci Spirals

    Syllabus: GS3. Science & Technology

    In News

    • New study shows that Today, few plants don’t follow a Fibonacci pattern.

    About Fibonacci spirals

    • The characteristic of being arranged in spirals that adhere to a numerical sequence called the Fibonacci sequence.
      • Spirals occur frequently in nature and can be seen in plant leaves, animal shells and even in the double helix of our DNA. 
    • In most cases, these spirals relate to the Fibonacci sequence – a set of numbers where each is the sum of the two numbers that precede it (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on).
    • They are extremely widespread in plants  and can even be recognised with the naked eye. 
    • They have fascinated scientists from Leonardo da Vinci to Charles Darwin.

    Highlights of  recent study

    • Fibonacci spirals are so common in plants today that they are believed to represent an ancient and highly conserved feature, dating back to the earliest stages of plant evolution and persisting in their present forms. 
    • However, a new study challenges this viewpoint. Scientists examined the spirals in the leaves and reproductive structures of a fossilized plant dating back 407 million years. 
      • Surprisingly, they discovered that all of the spirals observed in this particular species did not follow this same rule. 

    Source:TH

     UTPRERAK

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environment

    In News

    • Recently, the Ministry of Power established UTPRERAK, to help improve energy efficiency of Indian industry.

    What is it? 

    • UTPRERAK (Unnat Takniki Pradarshan Kendra) also known as Advanced Industrial Technology Demonstration Centre (AITDC) is the Centre of Excellence to Accelerate Adoption of Energy Efficient Technologies. 
    • It has been set up by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE),at the Badarpur, New Delhi campus of the National Power Training Institute(NPTI), Ministry of Power. 

    Functions

    • UTPRERAK will act as an exhibition cum information center and knowledge repository to demonstrate and showcase energy-efficient technologies in key industry sectors. 
    • The Centre envisages to provide key inputs for national energy policy formulation, link education and research in energy-efficient solutions, and develop innovative applied solutions for energy efficiency.
    • It is expected to provide intensive training to more than 10,000 energy professionals from the industry and other potential sectors over the next five years.

    Necessity of adoption of advanced technologies

    • Advanced Technologies are key to becoming a developed nation for India by 2047.
    • They are also important to Achieve India’s Emission Reduction Targets under  Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs).
    • The latest technologies are necessary to manufacture goods at low cost and to compete in the global market.

    Source:PIB

                                            NANDI Portal

    Syllabus: GS2/ Governance, Government policies & interventions 

    In News

    • Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, launched the NANDI (NOC Approval for New Drug and Inoculation System ) portal.

    NANDI Portal

    • It is developed by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) in collaboration with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).
    • Objective:The Portal Will expedite the regulatory approval process for veterinary products. It will enhance transparency and efficiency in assessing and examining proposals for veterinary drugs and vaccines.

    Significance

    • The initiative is a significant step towards advancing Digital India and promoting the well-being of livestock and the livestock industry. 
    • The portal will seamlessly integrate with the SUGAM portal of the CDSCO, further simplifying the approval process for veterinary products. 
    • The portal is following the animal vaccination coverage initiative and Mobile Veterinary Units (MVUs). 
    • The portal will enable quick and easy coordination between various Government Departments, Institutes, and Industry through a seamless interconnected system designed to expedite and strengthen the regulatory process.
    • With the launch of NANDI ,DAHD continues to stride towards achieving the interventions laid out as part of its Animal Pandemic Preparedness Initiative (APPI).

    Animal Pandemic Preparedness Initiative (APPI)

    • The programme focuses on prevention of outbreaks, especially zoonotic diseases, or infections caused by microorganisms that jump from animals to humans.
    • The key activities under APPI which are at different stages of execution are as follows:
      • Joint investigation and outbreak response teams.
      • Integrated disease surveillance system.
      • Strengthening the Regulatory system.
      • Disease modeling algorithms and early warning systems.
      • Strategizing Disaster Mitigation with the National Disaster Management Authority.
      • Initiate targeted R&D to develop vaccines/diagnostics/therapies for priority diseases.
      • Build genomic and environmental surveillance methods to improve the timeliness and sensitivity of disease detection.

    Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)

    • CDSCO is the drug regulatory agency under the central government,primarily implementing the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act,1940.
    • The Act includes approval of new drugs,conduct of their clinical trials,regulation of imported drugs,Pharmacovigilance and coordinating the activities of the states so as to achieve uniformity throughout the country in the administration of the said Act.

    SUGAM portal

    • SUGAM is an e-Governance system to discharge various functions performed by CDSCO under Drugs and Cosmetics Acts, 1940. 
    • It is an online web portal where applicants can apply for NOCs, licenses, registration certificates, permissions & approvals. 
    • It provides an online interface for applicants to track their applications, respond to queries and download the permissions issued by CDSCO.

    Source:PIB