Daily Current Affairs

9TH JANUARY,2021 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS 

Index

  1. A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
  2. Year End Review- 2020: Ministry of Labour and Employment (PIB)
  3. Year End Review- 2020: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (PIB)
  4. Year End Review 2020- Ministry of Panchayati Raj (PIB)
  5. Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum-2021 (PIB)
  6. B) Economy
  7. Revised Liquidity Management Framework (TH)
  8. C) International Relations
  9. China holds third edition of South Asia multilateral meet (TH)
  10. D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  11. Gangetic River Dolphin (TH)
  12. E) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
  13. Explained: The return of bird flu (IE)
  14. F) Miscellaneous
  15. National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) (PIB)
  16. Digital Calendar and Diary of Government of India (PIB)

A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

  1. Year End Review- 2020: Ministry of Labour and Employment (PIB)

Official Logo of Labour Bureau was unveiled

  • The newly launched logo represents that Labour Bureau is a data-based organization dealing in data related to workers and work.
  • The logo also represents the three goals that Labour Bureau strives to achieve in producing quality data i.e. Accuracy, Validity and Reliability.
  • Blue wheel is a cog wheel representing work, choice of blue colour signifies that we deal with blue collar workers.
  • The graph is not going up words alone as in real world data has ups & downs because it captures ground reality.
  • A tricolored Graph, matching the colours of the National flag, along with wheat ears, signifying the fruit of rural agricultural labour, have been beautifully placed in the logo.

All India surveys

  • Labour Bureau has been entrusted with the task of conducting the following four “All India” surveys:
  • All India Survey on Migrant workers,
  • All India Survey on Domestic workers,
  • All India Survey on employment generated by Professionals, and
  • All India Survey on employment generated in the non-formal transport sector.

National Career Service Project-(NCS)

  • The Ministry is implementing the National Career Service (NCS) Project as a Mission Mode Project for the transformation of the National Employment Service to provide a variety of employment-related services like job matching, career counseling, vocational guidance, information on skill development courses, apprenticeship, internships etc.

Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) Plan Scheme, launched by the Ministry of Labour & Employment, has been designed to incentivise employers for generation of new employment, where Government of India will be paying the full employer’s contribution towards EPF & EPS both w.e.f 01.04.2018 (earlier benefit was applicable for employer’s contribution towards EPS only) for the new employment.
  • Women are allowed to work in mines under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana
  1. Year-End Review- 2020: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

Indigenous Sports Disciplines in Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG)

  • The 4th Edition of Khelo India Youth Games is planned to be conducted in Haryana in 2021.
  • It has been decided to include 5 Indigenous Sports Disciplines in Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) Haryana, 2021
  • The 5 Indigenous Sports Disciplines in KIYG-2021 are:
  • Kalaripayattu
  • Gatkha
  • Thang-Ta
  • Maalkhamb
  • Yogasana
  • For details, refer to 28th Dec file.

Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS)

20 new disciplines are now eligible for Government jobs under the sports quota

  • The government has recently introduced 20 new disciplines for Central Government jobs under the sports quota.
  • The list of sports which qualify for appointment of meritorious sportspersons in Central Government offices has now thus been revised from 43 to 63.
  • The revised list, issued by the DoPT, includes 20 new disciplines: Baseball, Body Building (was included as part of Gymnastics previously), Cycling Polo, Deaf Sports, Fencing, Kudo, Mallakhamb, Motorsports, Net Ball, Para Sports (disciplines included in Paralympics and Para Asian Games), PencakSilat, Roll Ball, Rugby, SepakTakraw, Soft Tennis, Shooting Ball, Tenpin Bowling, Triathlon, Tug-of-war and Wushu.

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Welfare Fund to Sportspersons

  • Financial assistance is given under the scheme Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Welfare Fund to Sportspersons’ for following purposes:
  • Assistance to sportspersons living in indigent circumstances
  • Assistance to Families of deceased Sportspersons Assistance for Medical Treatment to sportspersons or family members
  • Assistance for injuries sustained during training for and participation in Sports competitions
  • Assistance for training, procurement of equipment and participation in national and international sports events
  • Assistance to coaches and support personnel
  • Assistance for medical treatment to coaches and support personnel
  1. Year End Review 2020- Ministry of Panchayati Raj (PIB)

  • The major highlights of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj during the year 2020 are as follows:

SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas)

  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has launched the physical distribution of Property Cards under the SVAMITVA Scheme.
  • The launch will enable around one lakh property holders to download their Property Cards through the SMS link delivered on their mobile phones.
  • This would be followed by physical distribution of the Property Cards by the respective State governments.­­­­
  • SVAMITVA is a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, which was launched on National Panchayati Raj Day, 24th April 2020.
  • The scheme aims to provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners in rural areas and issue Property Cards.
  • The Scheme is being implemented across the country in a phased manner over a period of four years (2020-2024) and would eventually cover around 6.62 lakh villages of the country.

Other features of the scheme:

  • drone-based survey of rural areas by the Survey of India;
  • establishment of Continuous Operating System (CORS) stations’ network to assist in future drone flying activities;
  • digital property card format.

The scheme seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • To bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
  • Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
  • Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
  • Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
  • To support in the preparation of a better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
  • To reduce property related disputes and legal cases
  • Survey of India (SoI) is the national mapping agency (NMA) of the country under the Ministry of Science & Technology.

Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS)

  • CORS enables users (e.g. moving platforms) to position themselves with high-precision (cm-level).
  • CORS is a GPS augmentation system that facilities, archives and distributes GPS data corrections for precise positioning in an automated manner, usually over an Internet connection.
  • Distance-dependent errors are greatly reduced because more than one station is at work to ensure correct positioning.
  • GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology has transformed how surveying is done.
  • However, its use in survey applications is limited because of inherent errors associated with GPS signals.
  • Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS) is an infrastructure that can solve the problem of accuracy and real-time data acquisition.
  • Looking at the importance and usefulness of the technology, the Survey of India has started an initiative of establishing nationwide CORS network.
  • CORS Network has wide applications in the development of India.
  • It will help in the construction of large infrastructure projects and in the generation and updation of revenue maps, which is one of the major problems being faced by the country today.
  • The system will also augment with the NAVIC network along with other GNSS networks like GPS, Galileo and GLONASS. In future, when the NAVIC system improves, dependence on foreign satellite systems will be reduced, making India a self-reliant nation.
  • It is in great demand among industries like surveying, navigation, construction, mining, precision agriculture and scientific research that require greater positional accuracy, as well as continuity of data.
  • India has launched various ambitious missions to prepare the nation for disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Industry 4.0 and robotics.

Panchayat funds to be audited online to bring in transparency and accountability of funds utilization

  • Panchayat funds will be audited online as for the first time as the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has decided to carry out an online audit of 20 per cent of the estimated 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) across the country for the financial year 2019-20 on a pilot basis.
  • This will be scaled up to 100 per cent Panchayats across India in the next financial year 2021-22.
  • For this purpose, the accounts of the panchayat for the year 2019-20 have been completed and closed in e-Gram SWARAJ, (Simplified Work-based Accounting Application for Panchayati Raj), which was launched on the National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24, 2020.
  • e-GramSwaraj assists in enhancing the credibility of Panchayat through inducing greater devolution of funds to PRI.
  • It brings better transparency through decentralized planning, progress reporting and work-based accounting.
  • Furthermore, the application provides a platform for effective monitoring by higher authorities.
  • In this endeavour, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has put in place an e-Financial Management System (e-FMS) comprising of Panchayat Planning, Physical Progress, Financial Progress, and Asset Management with Local Government Directory (LGD) forming the base for such a robust system along with the Public Financial Management System (PFMS), Special Planning and Geotagging.
  • This will be conducted using AuditOnline, an open-source application which facilitates the online and offline audit of accounts to improve the transparency and accountability of the utilisation of the funds.
  • AuditOnline is developed as part of Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES) under e-panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP) initiated by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR).
  • AuditOnline: Online Audit of Panchayat accounts
  • As a critical Institutional reform, Ministry of Panchayati Raj has launched the AuditOnline application on 15th April, 2020 for carrying out online Audits of Panchayat accounts.
  • AuditOnline not only facilitates the auditing of accounts but also provisions for maintaining audit records that have been carried out.
  • One of the main unique aspect of AuditOnline; is that it is a completely configurable application i.ethe application can be modified/configured as per States‘Audit process flow, so that the State Auditors using the application can easily carry out the audit exercise using
  • To begin with; it was decided to carry out the audit of Panchayat accounts for 14thFinance Commission (XIV FC) for the year 2019-20.
  • Accordingly, States were informed that mandatory audit of at least 20% GPs need to be carried out.
  • Uploading photos of work done and geo-tagging projects will also allow for physical inspection.
  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been making efforts to bring in transparency, efficiency and accountability in the functioning of Panchayats through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Recently, it recognised the efforts taken by the States and UTs and conferred e-Panchayat Puraskars.
  • Himachal Pradesh secured the first prize under e-Panchayat Puraskar-2020.
  • This award is conferred to those states who have ensured maximum use of information technology for monitoring the various works of the panchayats.

Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (Ministry of Rural Development)

  • The campaign is undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”.
  • The objective of the campaign is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of the government, reach out to poor households to enrol them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programs.
  • As a part of GSA, more than 21,000 Indian villages with a significantly large number of poor households were able to buy LED bulbs for a special price under UJALA program.
  • The identified schemes are as follows.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
  • Saubhagya
  • Ujala scheme
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
  • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana
  • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and
  • Mission Indradhanush.

Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (Ministry of Panchayati Raj)

  • This Abhiyan is being undertaken for developing governance capabilities of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • The scheme will have both Central Component – National Level activities including “National Plan of Technical Assistance”, “Mission Mode project on e-Panchayat”, “Incentivization of Panchayats” and State component – Capacity Building of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
  • The Central Component will be fully funded by the Government of India. However, Centre:State funding pattern for State Component will be 60:40 for all States, except North East and Hill States where Centre:State funding pattern will be 90:10.
  • For all Union Territories (UTs) (with and without legislatures), the Central share will be 100%.
  • Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan extends to all States and UTs of the country and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where Panchayats do not exist.
  • The Scheme will be implemented during the period from 2018 to 2022.
  • The implementation and monitoring of the activities of the scheme will broadly be aligned for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with main thrust on Panchayats identified under Mission Antyodaya* and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.
  • In his Budget Speech for 2017-18, the Finance Minister announced to undertake a Mission Antyodaya to bring one crore households out of poverty to make 50,000 Gram Panchayats poverty free. Accordingly, convergent action with Mission Antyodaya has been integrated into this scheme.

Mission Antyodaya (Ministry of Rural Development)

  • Adopted in Union Budget 2017-18, Mission Antyodaya is a convergence and accountability framework aiming to bring optimum use and management of resources allocated by 27 Ministries/ Department of the Government of India under various programmes for the development of rural areas.
  • In his Budget Speech for 2017-18, the Finance Minister announced to undertake a Mission Antyodaya to bring one crore households out of poverty to make 50,000 Gram Panchayats poverty free. Accordingly, convergent action with Mission Antyodaya has been integrated into Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.
  • It is envisaged as state-led initiative with Gram Panchayats as focal points of convergence efforts.
  • It is carried out coterminous with the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC)-Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas of Ministry of Panchayat Raj and its purpose is to lend support to the process of participatory planning for Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).
  • Panchayats have been mandated for the preparation of the Panchayat Development Plan (PDP) for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them.
  • The PDP planning process has to be comprehensive and based on a participatory process which involves the full convergence with Schemes of all related Central Ministries / Line Departments related to 29 subjects enlisted in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • It involves conducting an annual survey on measurable outcomes at Gram Panchayat level to monitor the progress in the development process across rural areas.
  • Mission Antyodaya encourages partnerships with network of professionals, institutions and enterprises to further accelerate the transformation of rural livelihoods.

National Panchayat Awards 2020

  • The awards are given on the National Panchayati Raj Day celebrated on 24thApril annually.
  • National Panchayat Awards for all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions are conferred under various categories namely, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar, Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar, Gram Panchayat Development Plan Award, Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award and e-Panchayat Puraskar.
  1. Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of the Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) India Forum-2021 (PIB)

  • Context: NCAVES India Forum 2021 is being organised by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

Analysis

  • The NCAVES Project, funded by EU, has been jointly implemented by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • India is one of the five countries taking part in this project – the other countries being Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico.  
  • In India, the NCAVES project is being implemented by the MoSPI in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).
  • The participation in the project has helped MOSPI commence the compilation of the Environment Accounts as per the UN-SEEA framework and release environmental accounts in its publication “EnviStats India” on an annual basis since 2018.
  • The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is a statistical system that brings together economic and environmental information into a common framework to measure the condition of the environment, the contribution of the environment to the economy and the impact of the economy on the environment.
  • Another feather to the cap under the NCAVES project is the development of the India-EVL Tool (Economic Valuation Tool) which is essentially a look-up tool giving a snapshot of the values of various ecosystem services in the different States of the country, based on about 80 studies conducted across the country.

B) Economic Developments: India and World

5.Revised Liquidity Management Framework (TH)

  • Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it had decided to restore normal liquidity management operations in a phased manner and would conduct variable rate reverse repo auction of ₹2 lakh crore on January 15.
  • In February, RBI had announced a revised Liquidity Management Framework, but had temporarily suspended it in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Analysis

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 6 February 2020 revised the existing liquidity management framework through which it aimed to ensured adequate liquidity in the system so that sufficient credit is provided to all productive sectors in the economy.
  • There would be no fixed daily liquidity injection operations, but the central bank would act whenever the banking system requires money.
  • According to the revised framework, RBI has finalized the weighted average call rate (WACR) as the single operating target and withdrawn the current provision of maintaining assured liquidity of 1% of net demand and time liability (NDTL).
  • The call rate is the interest rate at which banks lend overnight money to each other.
  • With this move, RBI is looking to target call rate and keep it near the repo rate so that better transmission happens.
  • It will ensure enough liquidity to anchor the call rate at around the repo rate.
  • Which means if the call rate inches above the repo rate, it would signal liquidity deficit and the central bank will bring its tools to infuse liquidity.
  • Similarly, if the call rate is below the repo rate, that would mean the banking system has surplus liquidity. In that case, the central bank can operate to suck out the liquidity through its operations.
  • The liquidity management corridor will be retained at 50 basis points, which means the RBI can allow call rates to rise up to the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate (was at 5.40 per cent in Feb 2020 (for the sake of understanding only)) and reverse repo rate (was at 4.90 per cent in Feb 2020), while the repo rate remains at the middle (was at 5.25 per cent in Feb 2020).
  • Earlier RBI had to maintain 1% NDTL liquidity to ensure that inter-bank call rate is near the repo rate.
  • Accordingly, the daily fixed rate repo and four 14-day term repos every fortnight being conducted, at present, are being withdrawn,” the central bank had said.
  • Instruments of liquidity management will includefixed and variable rate repo/reverse repo auctions, outright open market operations (OMOs), forex swaps and other instruments as may be deployed from time to time to ensure that the system has adequate liquidity at all times.
  • While getting rid of the 14-day fixed repo, the RBI said it will operate a 14-day term repo/reverse repo operation at a variable rate that would be conducted to coincide with the cash reserve ratio (CRR) maintenance cycle.
  • This would be the “main liquidity management tool for managing frictional liquidity requirements.

Terms for Reference

Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)

  • Banks need to hold some portion of their deposits in cash with the RBI. This ratio is called CRR.
  • If the RBI cuts CRR, banks will be left with more money to lend or invest. On the other hand, if the CRR is raised, banks will have lesser money to lend.
  • Banks do not earn any interest for maintaining CRR balance.

Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)

  • Banks also have to invest a certain portion of their deposits in government securities with the RBI. This percentage is known as SLR.
  • Banks can earn return on these investments. The current SLR is 19.5% (for reference only; it keeps on changing).

Repo rate

  • Repo rate refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in case of shortage of funds at a fixed interest rate.
  • Technically, a repo is also known as a “Repurchasing Option”.
  • a. Banks provide eligible securities (securities recognized by the RBI and at the same time which are above the Statutory Liquidity Ratio limit).
  • b. RBI gives 1 day or overnight loan to the bank.
  • c. RBI charges an interest rate called repo rate from the bank.
  • d. Banks repay the loan after one day and repurchase the security it has given as collateral.
  • The higher the repo rate, the higher the cost of short-term money to the banks and vice versa.
  • Generally, whenever the repo rate is raised, banks pass the burden on to customers.

Reverse Repo Rate

  • A Reverse repo rate is a rate which the RBI offers to banks when they deposit their surplus cash with the RBI for shorter periods.
  • In other words, it is the rate at which the RBI borrows from the commercial banks.
  • When banks have excess funds but don’t have any other lending or investment options, they deposit/lend the surplus funds with the RBI and earn interest on the deposited funds.
  • It is always lower than repo rate.
  • The Repo Rate increases the money supply while the Reverse Repo Rate decreases the money supply in the economy.

Marginal Standing Facility (quantitative instrument)

  • Marginal Standing Facility is a liquidity support arrangement provided by RBI to commercial banks if the latter doesn’t have the required eligible securities above the SLR limit.
  • Under MSF, a bank can borrow one-day loans from the RBI, even if it doesn’t have any eligible securities excess of its SLR requirement.
  • In the case of MSF, the bank can borrow up to 1 % (can be changed by the RBI) below the SLR (means 1% of Net Demand and Time Liabilities or liabilities simply).
  • But the main condition is that for such borrowings the bank has to give higher interest rate to the RBI.
  • The interest rate for MSF borrowing was originally set at one percent higher than the repo rate. Now it is 0.25% higher than repo rate.
  • The Reserve Bank will reserve the right to accept or reject partially or fully, the request for funds under this facility.

Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)

  • Banks also have to invest a certain portion of their deposits in government securities with the RBI. This percentage is known as SLR.

C) International Relations

6.China holds third edition of South Asia multilateral meet (TH)

  • Context: China has held its third multilateral dialogue with countries from South Asia to take forward closer cooperation on fighting COVID-19 and coordinating their economic agendas, reflecting a new approach in Beijing’s outreach to the region.

Analysis

  • The third dialogue, held virtually on January 6, brought together every country in the region barring India, Bhutan and the Maldives, and was aimed at “anti-epidemic cooperation and poverty reduction cooperation.
  • All three dialogues have been attended by Pakistan and Nepal, which are emerging as two lynchpins in China’s regional strategy.
  • The first such meeting was convened by China in July 2020, and was attended by Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan.
  • This was followed by a grouping in November attended by China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  • The January 6 meeting was attended by all five countries that have taken part in these dialogues — Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — and was a follow-up to the two earlier meetings.

CPEC extension

  • At the July quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan, China proposed extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, as well as taking forward an economic corridor plan with Nepal, called the Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network.

D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

7.Gangetic River Dolphin (TH)

  • Context: A video showing group of men and boys in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district beating to death a Gangetic river dolphin surfaced on social media.
  • The Gangetic River Dolphin- An endangered species, is recognised as the National Aquatic Animal.

Analysis

About Gangetic dolphin

  • Gangetic river dolphins are found in the rivers systems of Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Karnaphuli- Sangu in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
  • It is the only surviving freshwater dolphin in India.
  • The Ganges River dolphin is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List and has been included in Schedule I for the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds.
  • Ganges river dolphins prefer deep waters, in and around the confluence of rivers.
  • The distribution range of the Ganges river dolphins in India covers seven states namely, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • The upper Ganga River (in Uttar Pradesh), Chambal River (Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh), Ghaghra and Gandak Rivers (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), Ganga River, from Varanasi to Patna (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), Son and Kosi rivers (Bihar), Brahmaputra from Sadia (foothills of Arunachal Pradesh) upto Dhubri (on the Bangladesh border) and Kulsi River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra River, form ideal habitats for the Ganges river dolphin.
  • The Gangetic Dolphins are generally blind and catch their prey in a unique manner. They emit an ultrasonic sound which reaches the prey.
  • The dolphin then registers this image in its mind and subsequently catches hold of its prey.
  • Their eyes lack a lens and therefore function solely as a means of detecting the direction of light.
  • It uses echolocation to navigate and hunt. Like bats, they produce high-frequency sounds which helps them ‘see’ objects when the sound waves bounce off them.
  • Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
  • The species is found exclusively in freshwater habitat.
  • River Dolphins are solitary creatures and females tend to be larger than males.
  • The Ganges River dolphin (Susu) is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are: the baiji now likely extinct from the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America.
  • Obligate species: Restricted to a particular condition of life; for example, dependent on a particular habitat to be able to breed
  • Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes.
  • The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), from Sultanganj to Kahalganj on the Ganga in Bihar is the only dolphin sanctuary in the country.
  • National Waterway-1 connecting Haldia to Varanasi passes through it.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.
  • Once present in tens of thousands of numbers, the Ganges river dolphin has dwindled abysmally to less than 2000 during the last century owing to direct killing, habitat fragmentation by dams and barrages and indiscriminate fishing.

E) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

8.Explained: The return of bird flu (IE)

  • Context: After bird flu (avian influenza) was confirmed in Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, high alert has been sounded in Maharashtra. Several states have been reporting deaths of birds, including poultry birds, crows and migratory species.

Analysis

  • The infection Bird flu or avian influenza is the name used to describe a viral infection that is reported mostly in birds, but has the potential to affect humans and other animals. The most common strain of the virus that causes severe respiratory disease in birds is H5N1; various other strains like H5N7, H5N8 too, cause infection.
  • The virus was first reported in geese in China in 1996. Since then, outbreaks have been reported periodically across the world.
  • The H5N1 virus can jump species and infect humans from the infected bird.
  • The high mortality rate in humans — almost 60 per cent — is the main cause of concern about the spread of bird flu.
  • In its present form, human-to-human transmission/infection is not known — human infections have been reported only among people who have handled infected birds or carcasses.
  • The virus dies immediately if exposed to temperatures over 70 degrees Celsius.
  • Unlike in South East Asian countries, both meat and eggs in India are eaten well cooked, which sees them being exposed to over 100 degrees Celsius.
  • Thus, the chances of humans contracting the virus from eating chicken and eggs is extremely rare.

F) Clever Picks (Miscellaneous)

9.National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) (PIB)

  • Context: The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) announced that it will offer a free IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) in any of their preferred 22 official Indian language along with every IN domain booked by the registrant.
  • This offer has been created to stimulate the adoption of भारत (IDN) domain name and proliferation of local language content.

Analysis

  • NIXI is a not-for-profit organization under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.
  • NIXI was set up for peering of ISPs among themselves for the purpose of routing the domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to US/Abroad, thereby resulting in better quality of service (reduced latency) and reduced bandwidth charges for ISPs by saving on International Bandwidth.
  • .IN is India’s Country Code Top Level domain (ccTLD). The Govt. of India delegated the operations of INRegistry to NIXI in 2004.
  • The INRegistry operates and manages India’s .IN ccTLD.
  • National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is spreading the internet technology to the citizens of India through the following activities:
  • i) Internet Exchanges through which the internet data is exchanged amongst ISPs and between ISPs and CDNs.
  • ii) IN Registry, managing and operation of IN country code domain and भारत IDN domain for India.
  • iii) IRINN, managing and operating Internet protocol (IPv4/IPv6).
  1. Digital Calendar and Diary of Government of India (PIB)

  • Context: Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting launched the Digital Calendar and Diary of Government of India, along with their Android and iOS mobile applications (in selected local languages).

Analysis

  • While the earlier physical version of the Government of India Calendar had a reach up to the Panchayat level in the country, the digital avatar of the calendar in form of this app will be available to anyone across the world.
  • The Government of India Calendar application contains the following features:
  • Latest information on various schemes, events and publications of Government of India
  • Official holidays and various important dates.
  • Inspirational and motivational messages from great personalities of our nation.
  • Provision for taking notes digitally which will be stored with cutting edge security and privacy measures
  • Provision for scheduling of meetings and setting reminders for important tasks and events.
  • Accessibility features for visually impaired Divyangjans in coming days fulfilling the goal of Prime Minister’s “Accessible India”/”Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan”.

 

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