31st March 2021 | UPSC Current Affairs
31st March Current Affairs MCQs
Context: Goa has celebrated the Shigmotsav festival in the state.
What is Shigmo or Shigmotsav?
· Shigmo is the celebration of a ‘rich, golden harvest of paddy’ by the tribal communities of Goa.
· Agricultural communities including the Kunbis, Gawdas, and Velips celebrate the festival that also marks the onset of spring.
· The festival begins with ‘Naman’ that is the invocation of the local folk deities on the village ‘maand’ or the village stage to the beats of percussion instruments like the Ghumat, Dhol, Mhadle, and Tashe by the male folk.
- The festival is celebrated with traditional, colourful costumes, mythological installations, painted faces, and costumes of various hues.
- The Folk dances like Ghodemodini (a dance of equestrian warriors), Gopha, and Phugadi are among the many dances performed by the participating communities.
The first inter-state tiger relocation project
Context: The first inter-state tiger relocation project failed.
More on News:
- Sundari — a tigress shifted as part of India’s first inter-state translocation project in 2018 from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha — returned home.
- The Five-year-old tigress Sundari spent 28 months in captivity in Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Odisha before she was relocated to Madhya Pradesh.
- This project has been failed due to severe protests by villagers living on the fringes of the reserve.
- Also, the death of male Tiger Mahavir due to poaching sparked the issue further.
- Subsequently, the project was suspended by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
What was the Tiger Relocation Project?
· The tiger relocation project was initiated in 2018 wherein two big cats, a male (Mahavir) from Kanha Tiger Reserve and a female (Sundari) from Bandhavgarh from Madhya Pradesh were relocated to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha, to shore up the tiger population in the state.
· The relocation was meant to serve two purposes —
· To reduce tiger population in areas with excess tigers to majorly reduce territorial disputes.
· To reintroduce tigers in areas where the population has considerably reduced due to various reasons.
· The project involved the Forest Departments of both States and needed the approval of the NTCA and scientists of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
· The NTCA has been constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
· It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.The Minister of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Changes is the chairperson/chairman of the Authority.
· It aims to strengthen tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on an appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives, and recommendations of specially constituted Committees.
National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
Relevance: The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed towards execution of planned actions in a time-bound manner in 132 cities under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
More on news:
- The MoU was signed today by representatives of State Pollution Control Boards, Urban Local Bodies, and Institutes of Repute in the presence of the Union Environment Minister.
- This MoU will facilitate smooth and binding execution of planned actions in time targeted manner.
- The NCAP is a long-term, time-bound, national-level strategy to tackle the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner with targets to achieve a 20% to 30% reduction in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024 (with 2017 as the base year).
- The NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
- To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across the country for ensuring comprehensive and reliable database
- To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution and inclusive public participation in both planning and implementation of the programmes and policies of government on air pollution
- To have a feasible management plan for prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution.
Climate Data Service Portal
Context: Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has launched the Climate Data Service Portal with data of over 100 years.
About Climate Data Service Portal:
- It is a user-friendly platform for climate data management and supply to the users.
- It complements fully automated climate data management processes from real-time data acquisition to expeditious data dissemination.
- It also has a free download facility for gridded temperature and rainfall data of India, climatological tables — extremes and normal, information on monsoon rainfall and cyclone frequencies.
- The IMD also released standard operation procedures for monitoring, forecasting, and warning services of severe weather events.
Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
Context: 27 migratory birds have been reported dead on account of avian influenza (H5N1) in Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary.
About Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary:
- It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1983 and is also a Ramsar site.
- Pong Dam Sanctuary is also a national wetland.
- In 1975, it was created as a result of a dam built across the Beas River
- The Migratory birds from all over Hindukush, Himalayas, and also as far as Siberia come here during winter.
- The sanctuary area is covered with tropical and subtropical forests, which shelter a great number of Indian Wildlife animals.
- The lake is fed by the Beas River and its numerous perennial tributaries such as Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner.
- A reservoir has been constructed on the river Beas in the wetland of Shivalik hills which has been named Maharana Pratap Sagar.
- It is also known as the Pong reservoir or Pong Dam. This dam was built in 1975 named in honour of Maharana Pratap
What is Bird flu (H5N1)?
- H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious,severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or “bird flu”).
- Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person.
- Animal influenza viruses are distinct from human seasonal influenza viruses and do not easily transmit between humans.
- However, zoonotic influenza viruses – animal influenza viruses that may occasionally infect humans through direct or indirect contact – can cause disease in humans ranging from a mild illness to death.
- Birds are the natural hosts for avian influenza viruses.
Indian beamline project
Relevance: Science & Technology
Context: The third phase of the Indian Beamline Project for Materials Research has been initiated in Japan.
About Indian beamline project:
- It is a facility for materials research set up under India-Japan Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
- The Indian beamline has been constructed and maintained by Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics(SINP), Kolkata and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore; in the Japanese synchrotron light source Photon Factory (PF) of High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), with support from Nano Mission, Department of Science and Technology (DST).
- This India-Japan Scientific and Technological Cooperation project was initiated between the DST and the KEK on 24 July 2007.
- In the first phase (2009-2015) of this project, an X-ray beamline (BL18B) was constructed by SINP in PF.
- Over the years, this facility has provided a substantial amount of quality beam time for the use of Indian scientists to carry out front-ranking research in advanced materials including Nanomaterials.
- In the second phase (2016-2021), JNCASR and SINP jointly developed the beamline further to cater to the need of various users from India by implementing various modes of operation of the Indian beamline.
- In the third phase, the focussed will be on industrial application research. The phase would increase the number of young researchers from India to be trained in advanced X-ray techniques of material research.
- Besides, steps will be taken to allocate more beam time so that more researchers can get access to it. At present, only 50 % of Indian researchers who apply receive beam time.
Sewage and air surveillance system
Context: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has advised the Vice –President setting up of sewage and air surveillance system in the Indian Parliament to detect the COVID-19.
About Sewage and air surveillance system:
- This system provides qualitative as well as a quantitative estimate of the number of people infected in a population and could be used to understand the progression of COVID-19 even when mass scales tests for individuals are not possible.
- It is a measure to comprehensively monitor the prevalence of the disease in communities in real-time.
- Apart from symptomatic individuals, asymptomatic people also shed the virus in their stools.
- It provides an unbiased estimate of numbers since the sampling is not done at the individual level. On the other hand, the numbers obtained by regular testing depend on the number of individuals tested.
- This surveillance of COVID-19 would be relevant not only to understand the present epidemiology of the disease but would be an indispensable tool for early and easier detection of future COVID-19 outbreaks.
Context: Lakshadweep, district Budgam in J-K declared TB free.
More about TB
- TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
- Transmission: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
- Symptoms: Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
- Treatment: TB is a treatable and curable disease. It is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision, and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer.
- Anti-TB medicines have been used for decades and strains that are resistant to 1 or more of the medicines have been documented in every country surveyed.
- Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs.
- MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.
- Eliminating TB by 2025: India is committed to eliminating tuberculosis from the country by 2025, five years ahead of the global target by the World Health Organisation (WHO) i.e., 2030.
Initiatives by India
- The Nikshay Ecosystem: It is the National TB information system which is a one-stop solution to manage information of patients and monitor program activity and performance throughout the country.
- Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY): This scheme is aimed at providing financial support to TB patients for their nutrition.
- TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign: Launched in September 2019 it is showcasing the highest level of commitment for the elimination of TB.
- The Saksham Project: It is a project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that has been providing psycho-social counselling to DR-TB patients.
United Nations (UN) peacekeepers
Relevance: International bodies
Context: The 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, announced as a gift by India, will be sent to the UN peacekeepers.
- Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a role held by the Department of Peace Operations as “a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace
- Peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they may have signed.
- Accordingly, UN peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.
- The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security.
- According to the UN Charter, every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share for peacekeeping.
- In 1988, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations peacekeeping forces.
Relevance: Big data and privacy
Context: The Madras High Court Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to ascertain immediately if the Aadhaar data of citizens had been compromised.
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
- UIDAI is a statutory authority established on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016.
- The UIDAI is mandated to assign a 12-digit unique identification (UID) number (Aadhaar) to all the residents of India.
- The UIDAI was initially set up by the Government of India in January 2009, as an attached office under the aegis of the Planning Commission.
- The first UID number was issued on 29 September 2010 to a resident of Nandurbar, Maharashtra.
- Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system.
- Aadhaar is considered as proof of residence and not proof of citizenship, Aadhaar does not itself grant any rights to domicile in India.
- Aadhaar is not a valid identification document for Indians travelling to Nepal and Bhutan.
Every fifth child faces water scarcity globally: UNICEF report
Relevance: Environment and International bodies.
Context: More than 450 million children, worldwide resided in areas of high or extremely high-water vulnerability, according to a new report released by UNICEF.
Facts from Report:
- Eastern and southern Africa had the highest proportion of children living in such areas.
- More than 155 million children in South Asia lived in areas with high or even extremely high-water vulnerability.
- UNICEF had set an ambitious goal to ensure every child had access to climate-resilient water services by 2025 and by 2030, for all children to have access to a safe and affordable water supply and to live in water secure communities.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- It is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
- History: UNICEF was created in 1946 as International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF) by the UN relief Rehabilitation Administration to help children affected by World War II.
- UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations in 1953. The name was shortened to United Nations Children Fund but it is still referred to as UNICEF.
- It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs, and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.
- UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989. It strives to establish children’s rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1965 for “promotion of brotherhood among the nations”.
- Headquarters: New York City. It works in over 190 countries and territories with 7 regional offices. Scope of Work.
Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
Context: Maharashtra and Odisha make efforts to tie both states with multiple interactions in different areas.
More about Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
- The initiative ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ was announced by the Government on 31st October 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Engagement matrix between states and UTs
· Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh
· Himachal Pradesh & Kerala
· Uttarakhand & Karnataka
· Haryana & Telangana
· Rajasthan & West Bengal
· Gujarat & Chhattisgarh
· Maharashtra & Odisha
· Goa & Jharkhand
· Delhi & Sikkim & Assam etc.,
- This Programme aims to celebrate the Unity in Diversity of the country. It also insists to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people.
- It intends to promote the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all States and Union Territories.
- It showcases the rich heritage, culture, customs, and traditions of the country.
- It advocates for the creation of an environment that promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences.
- The Ministry of Education has been designated Nodal Ministry for coordination of the programme.
Passage Exercise(PASSEX )
Relevance: International Relations
Context: Recently, India, US begin a two-day naval exercise in the eastern Indian Ocean region.
More about PASSEX
· It is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA which is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Recently Australia also joined this exercise.
Aim: To improve the cooperation between the U.S. and Indian maritime forces and to maximize training and interoperability, which also include air defence.
- Impact: It will enhance both sides’ ability to counter threats at sea, from piracy to violent extremism. It will also present opportunities to build upon the pre-existing strong relationship between the United States and India and allow both countries to learn from each other.
- Indian Navy deployed its warship Shivalik and long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I in the ‘PASSEX’ exercise while the US Navy was represented by the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group.
- The exercise is aimed at consolidating the synergy and interoperability achieved during the Malabar exercise.
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