Daily Current Affairs – 31-08-2023

    0
    583

    Meghalaya Shawl and Chhattisgarh’s Dhokra Art and Telangana Bidri Art vases.

    Syllabus: GS1/Art and Culture

    In News

    • The Prime Minister gifted to the President and Prime Minister of Greece, Meghalaya Shawl and Chhattisgarh’s Dhokra Art, along with the Telangana Bidri Art vases.

    Meghalaya shawls

    • Meghalaya shawls were originally woven for the Khasi and Jaintia royalty, who considered them a symbol of their power and status. 
    • The shawls were worn during ceremonial occasions and festivals, and their intricate designs and vibrant colours were a reflection of the royal family’s wealth and prestige.
    • The designs used in Meghalaya shawls were highly symbolic
      • For instance, the use of animal motifs such as tigers and elephants was a symbol of power and strength, while the use of floral patterns was a symbol of beauty and grace.
    • The weavers, mostly women, spend hours weaving intricate designs and patterns using traditional weaving techniques. The shawls are made using locally sourced wool, and natural dyes.
    • The shawls are highly prized for their exquisite craftsmanship and intricate designs.

    Chhattisgarh’s Dhokra Art

    • One of the earliest expressions of this ancient art is the dancing girl artifact found from Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan excavations. 
    • Traditionally the Gadwas, Gonds and Dhurwas tribes of Chhattisgarh practise the Dhokra art with lost wax technique or hollow casting. 
    • It is named after ‘Dhokar Damar’, a nomadic Indian tribe belonging to the central and eastern part of the country.
    • The common themes of Dokra art revolve around figurines of Hindu gods & goddesses and different animals. 
    • Dokra Art is a non–ferrous metal casting art using the lost-wax casting technique. 
    • This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. There are two main processes of lost wax casting: solid casting and hollow casting.

    Bidri Art vases

    • It originated in the town of Bidar in Karnataka, in the 14th century. 
    • Bidar in Karnataka and Hyderabad in Telangana are the most vibrat centres of the artform.
    • Bidri Work handicra is an art of inlaying alloys. Soil at Bidar fort, magically imparts black color to the primary metals & the artform has been accorded prestigious GI Status. 
    • Technique: A new mould must be prepared to make a cast in which molten metal, an alloy of zinc & copper is poured. Motifs are sketched on them to be etched with a chisel and hammer. The engravings are inlaid with silver wire. 
    • It is this contrast of shining silver to the black metal that is unique to Bidri art.

    Source News on Air

    State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World-2023

    Syllabus: GS2/Issues related to Poverty and Hunger; GS3/Food Security

    Context:

    • The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2023 was released by UN Agencies with the theme ‘Urbanisation, agrifood systems transformation, and healthy diets across the rural-urban continuum’.

    About the Report:

    • It is an annual flagship report jointly prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
    • It provides a comprehensive overview, monitors and analyses of the state of global hunger, malnutrition, and the rapidly changing dynamics of food security, along with providing in-depth analysis on key challenges for achieving these goals in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Key Findings of the Report:

    • Global Hunger: While global hunger numbers have stalled between 2021 and 2022, there are many places in the world facing deepening food crises.
      • Over 122 million more people are facing hunger in the world since 2019 due to the pandemic and repeated weather shocks and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.
    • Nutritional Access: Approximately 2.4 billion individuals, largely women and residents of rural areas, did not have consistent access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food in 2022.
    • Child Malnutrition: Child malnutrition is still alarmingly high. In 2021, 22.3% (148.1 million) children were stunted, 6.8% (45 million) were wasted, and 5.6% (37 million) were overweight.
    • Urbanization’s Impact on Diet: As urbanisation accelerates, there is a noticeable increase in the consumption of processed and convenience foods, leading to a spike in overweight and obesity rates across urban, peri-urban, and rural areas.
      • Consumption of highly processed foods is also increasing in peri-urban and rural areas of some countries.
      • These changes are affecting people’s food security and nutrition in ways that differ depending on where they live across the rural–urban continuum.
    • Rural Dependence on Global Markets: Previously self-sustaining rural regions, especially in Africa and Asia, are now found to be increasingly dependent on national and global food markets.
    • Future Outlook: By 2050, it’s projected that 70% of the global population will reside in cities. This significant demographic shift necessitates a reorientation of food systems to cater to these new urban populations and eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

    Findings: In Context of India

    • India is still the lowest among the BRICS nations (including the newly added six countries) and India’s neighbours for the cost of a healthy diet.
      • 74% of people in India were not able to afford a healthy diet.
      • The cost of meals in Mumbai rose by 65% in five years, while salaries/wages rose by just 28%-37%.
      • A diet is considered too expensive if it costs more than 52% of a country’s average income.
    • Between 2019 and 2021:
      • The expense of maintaining a healthy diet increased by almost 9% in Asia (the highest across regions), followed by Africa.
        • In Asia, South Asia had the highest number of people (1.4 billion) and the highest share (72%) who could not afford a healthy diet.
        • In Africa, Eastern and Western Africa together had the most people (712 million) and the highest share (85%) who could not afford a healthy diet.

    Way Forward:

    • The SOFI 2023 provides an update on global progress towards the targets of ending hunger (SDG Target 2.1) and all forms of malnutrition (SDG Target 2.2) and estimates on the number of people who are unable to afford a healthy diet.
    • The theme is aligned with the UN General Assembly ‘New Urban Agenda’ and will contribute new evidence on the policies, investments and actions needed to limit risks of the negative effects of agrifood system transformation under urbanisation and enable opportunities for access to affordable healthy diets, to improve food security and nutrition.

    TH

    Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

    Syllabus: GS2/ Welfare Scheme

    In News

    • The Union government has decided to provide an additional 75 lakh Ujjwala connections, raising the total Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries to 10.35 crores.

    Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) 

    • About: It was launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
      • LPG Connection is released in the name of an adult woman of the BPL Family.
    • Phase I: 
      • Target: To provide free LPG connections to 5 cr women members of BPL households.
      • The ambit of the scheme expanded: In 2018, included all SC/ST households, PMAY(Gramin), forest-dwellers, most backward classes (MBC), Tea and Ex-Tea Garden Tribes.
        • 8 crore deposit-free LPG connections to women from BPL households by 2020.
    • Phase II:
      • Announced in the Union budget for FY 21-22; additional 1 crore connections.
      • Features: Deposit-free LPG connections to those low-income families who could not be covered under the earlier phase of PMUY.
      • There is no need for address proof by migrants, self-declaration is sufficient.
      • As on 01.07.2023, there are about 9.59 crore PMUY beneficiaries, out of which 8.41 crore have taken at least one refill during 2022-23.
    • LPG consumption of PMUY beneficiaries is monitored on a regular basis. Consumption of domestic LPG by households depends on several factors like food habits, household size, cooking habits, price, availability of alternate fuels etc. 

    Objectives & significance

    • Health Benefits: Decrease in health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
      • WHO estimates: About 5 lakh deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuels. 
    • Women Empowerment: Women are saved from the danger of collecting firewood by hiking long distances.
    • Socio-Economic Benefits: Productive activities, & connection on Women’s name.
    • Environment: Less pollution due to fuel burning.

    Challenges

    • High Initial Cost: No support by the government at the refiling stage forces the poor to pay more.
    • Administrative concerns: For example, Data discrepancies in Aadhar. 
    • Logistics: Lack of last-mile connectivity & filling plants in rural areas.
    • Behavioral concerns: Despite having LPG, people still use wood to save costs.

    Way Ahead

    • Strengthening the supply chain
    • Ensure affordability, availability, and accountability
    • Sensitisation and Education

    Source: TH

    68% Of Indians Feel Stronger India: Pew Survey

    Syllabus: GS2/ India & Foreign Relations, International Organisations & Groupings

    In News

    • Recently, an international survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center, a Washington DC-based fact tank.

    About

    • The Pew Center report is based on a nationally representative survey of 2,611 adults in India, 3,756 American adults, and 24,674 adults in other countries from Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, North America and Latin America. 

    Survey Highlights

    • The report pointed to a variance between how Indians perceived Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s influence, and the views of adults in other countries.

    • India’s image: According to the survey, India enjoyed a positive image across 23 countries, with a median of 46% adults holding a favourable view of India, while a median of 34% held unfavourable views.
    • View of PM Modi: 79% of Indian respondents had a favourable view of PM Modi, with a majority 55% having a ‘very’ favourable view
    • No opinion on India: The report also detailed how outside India, substantial respondents in many countries did not offer an opinion on India or PM Modi.
    • India’s opinion on other nations: Among other key findings, the survey also found that Indians stood out from their cohorts in other countries for their highly favourable views of Russia and Vladimir Putin, and unfavourable views of China
      • One continuing trend from previous surveys was the persistence of negative attitudes toward Pakistan in India.

    Features of India’s global orientation

    • Ideals of peaceful co-existence: From the time of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Panchsheel principles, India has been guided by the ideals of peaceful co-existence.
      • The foreign policies of India have always been based on the objectives of dialogue, peace, and building national and global agreements.
      • It opts to predict better synergies with nations that have mutual goals such as safeguarding civil treaties, and regulations, promoting global peace, combating terrorism and political violence, and developing the fundamental foundations of a peaceful and prosperous world.
    • Neighborhood First Policy: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has emphasized on the significant expansion of India’s Neighborhood First Policy and shared how it has helped neighboring countries and strengthened India’s global image.
    • Economic growth: India has made extraordinary strides in recent years; it is already the world’s third-largest economy in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms and continues to climb.
      • Countries across the world want to be associated with India because there is a belief that India is in touch with key players and that India can influence them.
    • Cultural influence: India makes a lot of movies, music, books, and other forms of art that are enjoyed all over the world. This has increased India’s cultural influence in a big way. 
    • India as a soft power: Soft power is the capacity to influence other nations through the use of persuasion and attraction rather than coercion or force. Soft power relies on culture, arts, and science. 
      • Sciences, spirituality, art and faith that developed over millennia in the subcontinent found their way across other regions, earning India a considerable amount of ‘soft power’ long before the term itself was coined.
      • Owing to this, present-day India is well poised to draw upon religious and faith-based associations with countries across the globe. 

    Way Ahead

    • As India moves up the economic ladder and prepares to assume leadership, it is essential to ensure an unfettered exchange of liberal and democratic ideas and thoughts.
    • India can contribute towards de-risking the global economy and in political terms, in some way, help depolarise the world.
    • Far from evolving into a “world leader”, India should become an active participant in a world that is no longer defined by parameters such as “superpowers” or “great powers” exercising “world leadership”.

    Source: TH

    Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) 2023

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment, Pollution 

    In News

    • Annual update of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) 2023 has been released.

    About

    • AQLI, converts air pollution concentrations & their impact on life expectancy. 
    • It is produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
    • The AQLI was built to help solve some of these challenges by providing local information on air quality and its health consequences.

    Major Highlights of the Report

    • Short of benchmark: Not a single nation across the globe achieved the air quality benchmark set by the World Health Organization, which stands at 5 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air (μg/m³) in the year 2021.
    • Greatest External Threat: Air pollution is the greatest external threat to human life expectancy on the planet.
      • The impact of PM2.5 on global life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, more than 3 times that of alcohol use and unsafe water, more than 5 times that of transport injuries like car crashes, and more than 7 times that of HIV/AIDS.
    • Greatest Burden: South Asia is home to the world’s four most polluted countries and nearly a quarter of the global population. 
      • In Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, residents are expected to lose about 5 years of life expectancy on average. Since 2013, about 59 percent of the world’s increase in pollution has come from India alone.
      • South Asia accounts for more than half, 52.8 percent, of the total life years lost globally due to high pollution. 
    • Africa: The African countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Republic of the Congo are amongst the ten most polluted countries in the world.
      • Despite the fact that Asia and Africa contribute 92.7 percent of life years lost due to pollution, they lack basic infrastructure for change.
    • China’s Success Model: China’s pollution has declined 42.3 percent since 2013, the year before the country began a “war against pollution.” Due to these improvements, the average Chinese citizen can expect to live 2.2 years longer, provided the reductions are sustained. 
      • The pollution in China is still six times the WHO guideline, taking 2.5 years off life expectancy.
    • Latin America: The most polluted areas across Latin America—located within Guatemala, Bolivia, and Peru—experience air quality similar to pollution hotspots like Pune, India and Harbin, China. In these regions, the average resident would gain 3 to 4.4 years of life expectancy if their air quality met the WHO guideline.

    Indian Scenario

    • Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan—where 22.9 percent of the global population lives—are the top four most polluted countries in the world. 
    • Of all the countries in the world, India faces the greatest health burden from air pollution due to the large number of people its high particulate pollution concentrations affect. 
    • The average Indian resident is to lose 5.3 years of life expectancy if the WHO guideline is not met.
    • The most polluted region of India is the Northern Plains, home to more than a half billion people and 38.9 percent of the country’s population. 
      • In this region, the average resident is on track to lose about 8 years of life expectancy if the pollution level persists. 
      • The region contains the capital city of Delhi, the most polluted megacity in the world with annual average particulate pollution of 126.5 µg/ m3 —more than 25 times the WHO guideline. 

    Reasons for the Spike in Air Pollution

    • The uptick in air pollution in South Asia is not a surprise, it’s an outcome of rapid industrialisation, economic development, and population growth, which increased energy demand and fossil fuel use across the region.
    • In India and Pakistan, the number of vehicles on the road has increased about fourfold since the early 2000s. The number of vehicles roughly tripled in Bangladesh from 2010 to 2020.
    • Electricity production using fossil fuels tripled between 1998 and 2017 in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan combined. 
    • Although high energy use has contributed to better living standards and economic output in these countries, the consequent increase in particulate pollution has had grave repercussions.

    Conclusion

    • The Index combines the research with hyper-localized, global particulate measurements, yielding unprecedented insight into the true cost of particulate pollution in communities around the world. 
    • The Index also illustrates how air pollution policies can increase life expectancy when they meet the World Health Organization’s guideline for what is considered a safe level of exposure. 
    • This information can help to inform local communities and policymakers about the importance of air pollution policies in concrete terms.

    Source: News on Air
     

    Jio AirFibre 

    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology

    News:

    • Reliance Jio recently during the Annual General Meeting (AGM), gave a glimpse of its new service called JioAirFiber. 

    About

    • JioAirFiber lets users enjoy fiber-like data speeds over the air eliminating the need for wires.
    • Jio said it has developed a JioAirFiber Gateway, a wireless device which works by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot in a particular area using ultra-high-speed internet using True 5G.
    • It will enable the delivery of multiple video streams, showing multiple camera angles at the same time and that too in ultra-high definition, and can dynamically choose which camera angle we want to focus on.
    • Reliance has plans to promote the use of its in-house virtual PC service – JioCloud PC using JioAirFiber. 
      • The company says using a single device will make it easy for home and office users to gain access to Gigabit speed internet anywhere. 

    How is Jio AirFiber different from JioFiber?

    • JioFiber is based on Fiber Optic technology. The user needs to get the fiber optic wires straight to their homes where it is then either connected to a router or directly to the device that needs internet connection. 
    • The Jio AirFiber, on the other hand, is just a device that needs to be turned on. It works a lot like a WiFi hotspot but with much higher internet speed.
    • AirFiber offers high-speed connectivity very similar to JioFiber. However, this new AirFiber will use True 5G technology to establish personal Wi-Fi networks without the need for physical wiring. 
      • The user-friendly setup involves simple plug-and-play functionality, enabling users to create their Wi-Fi hotspots effortlessly.

    Source: IE

    Facts In News

    Onam Festival

    Syllabus: GS-1/Art and Culture

    Context

    • The festival of Onam is celebrated in the month of Chingam, between the  months of August and September.
      • The celebration continues for 10 days with  rituals assigned to each day. It starts with ‘Atham’ (the first day) and ends with ‘Thiruvonam’ (end day). 

    About

    • According to folklore, Onam is a festival connected with the return of the mythical demon king Mahabali under whose reign everyone lived in happiness and equality.
    • It is also considered to be the harvesting festival of paddy (rice) and people show gratitude towards the land for giving a good harvest.
    • It also marks the beginning of the Malayalam year called Kolla Varsham.

    How is it celebrated?

    • Onam is celebrated by making:
      • Pookalam (Rangolis made with flowers).
      • Onam Sandhya (Consists of 26 dishes made with seasonal vegetables)
      • Onakkodi (by wearing new clothes and giving gifts)
      • By painting intricate designs on the entrance of the house with Rice flour batter.
    • During this, People also enjoy various cultural activities:
      • Onakalikal (Games played during festival)
      • Vallamkali (the Boat Race)
      • Kummattikali (Mask Dance)
      • Pulikali (a form of dance where actors are dressed as tigers and hunters)
      • Archery

    Source: AIR

    Renewable Energy Technology Action Platform

    Syllabus: GS-3/Economy, Infrastructure

    Context: 

    • The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India has launched the Renewable Energy Technology Action Platform (RETAP) under the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership. 

    About the RETAP Platform:

    • The platform will also explore geothermal energy, ocean/tidal energy and other mutually identified emerging technologies.
    • The work plan will be guided by 5 pivotal themes: 
      • Research & Development
      • Piloting & Testing of Innovative Technologies
      • Advanced Training & Skill Development
      • Policy and Planning for Advancing RET and enabling technologies
      • Investment, Incubation and Outreach programmes

    Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)

    • The SCEP was established as per the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership, which was announced by both the nations at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in 2021.
    • The SCEP fosters energy security and innovation with a focus on processes and uses. It scales up new clean energy technologies, locating solutions for sectors that are challenging to decarbonize, and implementing technical solutions.
    • It was earlier established as  Strategic Energy Partnership in 2018 and had superseded the US-India Energy Dialogue, the former Intergovernmental engagement for energy cooperation.

    Source: PIB

    Super Blue Moon

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    News

    • The phenomenon of a “blue moon” and a “super moon” was witnessed on 30 August 2023.

    The Moon’s orbit and rotation

    • The orbit of the moon around the earth is elliptical and it takes the moon 27.3 days to orbit the earth.
    • It takes 29.5 days from a new moon to the next new moon. This is because while the moon is orbiting the earth, both the earth and the moon are also moving around the sun and it takes additional time for the sun to light up the moon in the same way as it does at the beginning of every revolution around the earth. 
    • The new moon is the opposite of the full moon. It is the darkest part of the moon’s invisible phase, when its illuminated side is facing away from the earth.
    • The point closest to earth in the moon’s elliptical orbit is called perigee, and the point that is farthest is called apogee

    What is a Supermoon?

    • A super moon happens when the moon is passing through or is close to its perigee, and is also a full moon.
    • A full moon occurs when the moon is directly opposite the sun (as seen from earth), and therefore, has its entire day side lit up. The full moon appears as a brilliant circle in the sky that rises around sunset and sets around sunrise. 
    • According to NASA, a full moon at perigee (super moon) is about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a full moon at apogee (called a “micro moon”).

     

    What is a blue moon?

    • A blue moon is the situation when a full moon is seen twice in a single month. 
    • Because the new moon to new moon cycle lasts 29.5 days, a time comes when the full moon occurs at the beginning of a month, and there are days left still for another full cycle to be completed. 
    • For example if the full moon is seen on the 1st or 2nd, there will be a second full moon on the 30th or 31st and this happens every two or three years.

    Does the moon actually appear blue?

    • Sometimes, smoke or dust in the air scatter red wavelengths of light, as a result of which the moon in certain places, appears more blue than usual. 
    • The moon appears more yellow/ orange when it is lower in the sky (closer to the horizon). As moonlight travels for longer through the atmosphere at this stage, bluer wavelengths (shorter) of light are scattered, leaving more of the longer, redder wavelengths. Also dust or pollution can end up deepening the reddish color of the moon.

    Source:IE

    Self-respect marriages

    Syllabus:GS2/Society 

    News

    • The Supreme Court observed that there is no blanket ban on advocates solemnizing “self-respect” marriages under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

    Background

    • In 1968, the Hindu Marriage (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 1967, received the President’s approval and became the law. 
    • This amendment modified the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, by inserting 

    Section 7(A) into it. However, it extended only to the state of Tamil Nadu.

    What are ‘self-respect’ marriages?

    • Section 7(A)  deals with the special provision on “self-respect and secular marriages”. It legally recognised “any marriage between any two Hindus”, which can be referred to as “Suyamariyathai” or “Seerthiruththa marriage” or by any other name.
    • Such marriages are solemnized in the presence of relatives, friends, or other persons, with parties declaring each other to be husband or wife, in a language understood by them. However, such marriages are also required to be registered as per the law.
    • The rationale behind “self-respect” marriages was to radically simplify weddings by shunning the need for mandatory Brahmin priests, holy fire and saptapadi (seven steps). 

    Cases related to self-respect marriages

    • In 2014 Madras High Court in “Balakrishna Pandian v.The Superintendent of Police”, held that marriages performed by the advocates are invalid and that “suyamariyathai” or “self-respect” marriages cannot be solemnized in secrecy.
    • However the Supreme Court  set aside the 2014 ruling of the Madras High Court in the case of “Ilavarasan v. Superintendent of Police”.
    • The Court relied on its 2001 ruling in “Nagalingam v. Sivagami”, which said that there is no blanket ban on advocates to solemnize marriages under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act (Tamil Nadu State Amendment Act).

    Source:IE

    Institute of Mathematical Sciences 

    Syllabus:Miscellaneous

    News

    • The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Chennai, will host the Alladi Ramakrishnan centenary conference.

    About

    • The Alladi Ramakrishnan Centenary Conference,will feature scientific talks by leading researchers from across the world, as well as interactions with industry leaders, institution builders, and science policy makers in the Indian context. 

    The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) 

    • The institute was founded by Alladi Ramakrishnan in 1962 and he served as its director till his retirement in 1983 at the age of 60. 
    • IMSc is an autonomous national institution for fundamental research in the areas of Theoretical Physics, Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Sciences and Computational Biology.  
    • IMSc is located in South Chennai, in the Adyar-Taramani area and is governed by a Board and an Academic Council. 

    Alladi Ramakrishnan 

    • Alladi Ramakrishnan was born in 1923 in Chennai.
    • He was an Indian physicist and made his contribution to Stochastic processes, particle physics, algebra of matrices, special theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
    • Ramakrishnan was inspired by the seminars on modern physics that he had heard during his visit to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1957-58 at the invitation of its director Robert Oppenheimer.
    • He returned to Madras and subsequently started a theoretical Physics Seminar in his family home, ‘Ekamra Nivas’. 

    Source:TH

    Red Sand Boa

    Syllabus :GS 3/Species in news 

    In News

    • A report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India has pointed out 172 incidents of seizures of red sand boa between the years 2016-2021.

    About Red Sand Boa

    • Scientific Name : Eryx johnii
    • It is a non-venomous species.
    • Nocturnal and spends the majority of its time under the ground.
    • Habitat and Distribution :  It primarily lives in semi-desert areas and foothills
      • Endemic to India, Iran, and Pakistan
    • Role in ecosystem : It helps in maintaining a healthy population between prey and the predator. 
      • It feeds mostly on rodents, lizards, and even other snakes.  
    • Threats :  The red sand boa is now acknowledged as one of the most traded reptile species in the illegal trade market, due to its demand in the pet trade, as well as for use in black magic.
    • Protection Status : 
      • IUCN Red List Status : ‘Near Threatened’
      •  In India, it is protected by Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 
      • It is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

    Source:TH

    Peregrine Falcon 

    Syllabus :GS 3/Species in news 

    In News

    • A Peregrine Falcon  is in decline, according to the State of India’s Birds 2023.

    About Peregrine Falcon

    • They are quick, large predatory raptors. 
    • Peregrine falcons are global birds. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. 
    • Habitat :It inhabits an extreme variety of habitats, tolerating wet and dry, hot and cool climates.
      • They are highly migratory in the temperate and Arctic parts of its range, moving from North America to South America, Europe to Africa, and northern Asia to southern Asia and Indonesia.
    • Diet : Birds make up most of its diet, principally pigeons and doves.
    • IUCN Red list status :  Least Concern

    Source:DTE

    ‘Funga’ 

    Syllabus :GS 3/Species in news 

    In News

    • The United Nations Biodiversity has urged people globally to use the word ‘funga’ whenever they say ‘flora and fauna’, in order to highlight the importance of fungi.

    About 

    • Fungi, along with Animalia (animals), Plantae (plants), Protista, Archaea/Archaebacteria, and Bacteria or Eubacteria form the six ‘kingdoms’ of biology.
    • Fungi constitute a group of organisms which exhibit considerable variations in form, behaviour and life cycle patterns.
    • It is an important group of non-chlorophyllous, heterotrophic, eukaryotic organisms .
      • It is estimated that there exist around 1.5 million species of fungi. 
    • Ecological role: ranges from being saprotrophs, biotrophs (parasites or hyperparasites) or mutualists (symbionts).
    • Habitat and Distribution : inhabit terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats.
      • fungi are cosmopolitan in distribution.
    • Reproduction: is asexual, sexual or parasexual.
    • Conditions for growth:  Normally fungi grow between 0° to 30°C with an optimum temperature range of 20° to 30°C. Many fungi tolerate low temperatures of 5° to 6°C or even below the freezing limits. 
      • Some fungi can survive temperatures as high as 50°C.
    • Usage :  Since ancient times fungi have been used to make dairy products and alcoholic beverages. 
    • Effect on health  A very small number of fungi cause diseases in animals. In humans these include skin diseases such as athletes’ foot, ringworm and thrush.

    Source:DTE

    Gabon

    Syllabus: Prelims/Important International Events

    News

    • Mutinous soldiers claimed to have seized power in Gabon recently and put the President under house arrest, hours after he was declared the winner in an election.

    About Gabon

    • Gabon is a country lying on the west coast of Africa, astride the Equator. A former French colony, Gabon retains strong ties to France and to the French language and culture. 
    • Capital: Libreville.
    • Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; the islands of Sao Tome and Principe are situated off the coast.
    •  The Atlantic’s northward-flowing Benguela Current softens Gabon’s southern coastline by creating sandbars but loses its effectiveness north of the country’s most westerly point, Cape Lopez
    • Gabon is a member of OPEC, with a production of some 1,81,000 barrels of crude a day, but it is facing high unemployment and rising prices. Nearly 40% of Gabonese aged 15-24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank.

    Source: TH

    Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM)

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • For the Aditya-L1 mission, ISRO will be using a LAM identical to the one used in the Mars and moon missions.

    What is LAM?

    • It is a small and powerful engine going by the acronym ‘LAM’ which will have a critical role to play in the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) upcoming Aditya-L1 mission meant to study the sun.
    • The successful operation of LAM is vital to ISRO’s plans to place the Aditya spacecraft in a halo orbit at Lagrangian point L1.
      • LAM engines are used for orbital adjustment manoeuvres of satellites/spacecraft in orbit.
    • It is developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), the ISRO centre for liquid and cryogenic propulsion in Thiruvananthapuram.
    • LAM has played an important role in  missions, including the 2014 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Mangalyaan and the more recent Chandrayaan-3.
    • Once the Aditya spacecraft exits the earth’s sphere of influence and heads toward its destination — the Langrangian point L1 which is 1.5 million km away — the LAM engine will shut down for the best part of the four-month journey. 

    Source: TH