[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 31 January 2023
InstaLinks : help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically
Table of Contents:
- Content of “National Importance” can be spread over multiple channels’ programs: Centre
- Centre to roll out process to set up 16th Finance commission soon
- UNSC does not reflect today’s realities, is paralysed, says UNGA President
GS Paper 3:
- Cultivated idea: Urban farming in India requires holistic policy support; here is why
- Neglected Tropical Diseases Day: Poorest countries continue to be most affected, says WHO
Content for Mains Enrichment
- Useful extracts from PM’s 97th edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’
Facts for Prelims
- Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Mughal Gardens was renamed Amrit Udyan
- ‘Nitrate radicals’ are likely making air pollution worse in China, India
- Indian Oil Corporation starts exporting aviation gasoline
- India may use emergency law to lift coal power output
- Eradicate invasive plant species from Kerala’s wildlife habitat
- Red-Headed Vultures and Black Vultures
- Manipur’s heimang
- Over 90 fossil nests belonging to India’s largest dinosaurs uncovered
Content of “National Importance” can be spread over multiple channels’ programs: Centre
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation
Direction: The article highlights the public service obligation guidelines for TV channels in India.
Context: The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry issued a fresh advisory for the implementation of the Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India 2022.
- Uplink is a term used to describe a communication line used to send electronic messages to satellites.
- On the other hand, downlinking refers to the communication path utilised to receive the satellite’s electronic communications.
- The Union Cabinet had approved the 2022 Guidelines to ease the issue of permissions to the companies/ limited liability partnerships (LLPs) registered in India for –
- Uplinking and Downlinking of TV Channels,
- Setting up of Teleports/ Teleport Hubs,
- Use of Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG)/ Satellite News Gathering (SNG)/ Electronic News Gathering (ENG) systems,
- Uplinking by Indian News agencies and temporary uplinking of a live event.
The benefit of the new guidelines: It will replace those operational since 2011, would –
- Ease of compliance for the permission holder
- Ease of Doing Business
- Simplification and Rationalization, etc.
Highlights of the I&B Ministry’s fresh advisory:
- It mandates ‘public service broadcasting’ of national and social importance (with effect from March 1, 2023) for private TV channels through voluntary compliance and self-certification.
- It said the content could include the themes of –
- Education and spread of literacy,
- Agriculture and rural development,
- Health and family welfare,
- Science and technology,
- The welfare of women and the weaker sections of society,
- Protection of the environment and cultural heritage and
- National integration, etc., and could be extended to include similar subjects such as water conservation, disaster management, etc.
- The content need not be of 30 minutes at a stretch and shall be accounted for cumulatively on a monthly basis i.e. 15 hours per month.
- The broadcasters have the liberty to modulate their content. For example, the topics of national importance and social relevance embedded in the programmes broadcast by private TV channels would qualify for their obligation.
- The broadcasters would be required to submit a monthly report on the Broadcast Seva Portal on compliance.
- The broadcasters will have to keep a record of the content telecast for 90 days.
Exemptions from the public service broadcasting obligation:
- Any content transmitted from midnight to 6 a.m.
- Foreign channels, downlinking in India [in languages other than those specified in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution].
- The channels broadcasting [more than 12 hours] sports and devotional/spiritual/yoga content shall be exempt from furnishing the monthly reports on the Broadcast Seva Portal.
Conclusion: According to a FICCI-EY report, with television subscriptions estimated to add another 42 million by 2025 from 178 million in 2021, public service broadcast is not a bad idea in a diverse country with myriad issues.
Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India 2022
Q. Has digital illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, coupled with a lack of Information and Communication Technology(ICT) accessibility hindered socio-economic development? Examine with justification. (UPSC 2021)
Centre to roll out process to set up 16th Finance commission soon
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein
Direction: The article examines the difficulties the 16th Finance Commission will face as the process to establish the 16th FC gets underway.
Context: The government will soon kick off the process to set up the 16th Finance Commission, with the Finance Ministry likely to notify the terms of reference (ToR) of the constitutional body.
- The 15th Finance Commission (FFC chaired by NK Singh) was set up in (November 2017) with a mandate to make recommendations for the five-year period from 2020-21.
- The Commission is usually granted about two years to deliberate on its terms of reference, consult States and frame its recommendations.
- The government should ideally have its report by October 2025 to consider it in time for Budget 2026-27, where it will have to place its action taken report on the Commission’s report.
- Despite the Constitution’s mandate to establish an FC every five years, breaking the trend, the 15th FC’s term was extended by a year, ending in 2025–2026.
- In late 2019, the Commission was asked to give a standalone report for 2020-21 and another report for an extended five-year period till 2025-26.
- Since the FFC report covered six years (instead of five), the next FC must be selected this year.
- The last time an FC was granted a six-year time frame was for the 9th FC, formed in June 1987.
- The 10th FC was still constituted in June 1992 within the five-year deadline specified by Article 280 of the Constitution, which has not been the case this time.
The first step towards establishing 16th FC:
- While the ToR (Terms of Reference) for the 16th FC will be worked out after internal government deliberations steered by the Finance Ministry, the appointment of an Officer on Special Duty to drive the process.
- This officer typically becomes the member-secretary of the Commission, once it is constituted.
The key challenges for the 16th FC:
- The co-existence of another permanent constitutional body – the GST Council.
- The Council’s decisions on tax rate changes could alter the revenue calculations made by the FC for sharing fiscal resources.
- The government usually accepts recommendations on States’ share of tax devolution and the trajectory for fiscal targets and ignores most other suggestions. For instance,
- The government ignored the FFC’s suggestion of creating a Fiscal Council where the Centre and States collectively work out India’s macro-fiscal management challenges.
- The government has accepted the FFC’s recommendation to set up a non-lapsable fund for internal security and defence ‘in principle’, but its implementation still has to be worked out.
- A recourse mechanism can be put in place for the Commission to revisit its numbers due to the GST Council’s decisions.
- The governments must rise beyond politics to deliberate and implement FC’s recommendations, which are sound in terms of policy and economics.
What is the Finance Commission?
- It is a constitutional body constituted every 5 years by the President of India under Article 280 of the Indian Constitution to define the Centre-state’s financial relations.
Why is there a need for an FC?
- The Indian federal system allows for the division of power and responsibilities between the Centre and states.
- Correspondingly, the taxation powers are also broadly divided between the Centre (collects the majority of the tax revenue) and states (responsible for delivering public goods in their areas).
- Sometimes, due to this and also due to vast regional disparities, states may incur expenditures higher than the revenue generated by them.
- To address these imbalances, the FC recommends the extent of central funds to be shared with states.
- Thus, it is considered the balancing wheel of fiscal federalism in India.
Navigating the storm: On the Fifteenth Finance Commission
Q. How have the recommendations of the 14th France Commission of India enabled the States to improve their fiscal position? (UPSC 2021)
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2014)
Which of the following are associated with ‘Planning’ in India?
- The Finance Commission
- The National Development Council
- The Union Ministry of Rural Development
- The Union Ministry of Urban Development
- The Parliament
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1, 2 and 5 only
- 1, 3 and 4 only
- 2 and 5 only
- 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
UNSC does not reflect today’s realities, is paralysed, says UNGA President
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: International Organizations
Source: Indian Express, The Hindu
Context: UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Csaba Korosi has expressed concern that the UN Security Council does not reflect today’s realities, is paralysed and is unable to discharge its basic function of maintaining international peace and security.
What has happened now?
Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN, attacked Ukraine. Russia has vetoed UNSC resolutions on Ukraine and voted against a resolution in the UNGA which called on countries not to recognise the four regions of Ukraine that Russia has claimed.
What is UNSC?
What is Veto power in UNSC?
The United Nations Security Council veto power is the power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to veto any “substantive” resolution
Why the need for Reforms in UNSC?
- Changing geopolitical realities: Since 1945, the world has changed significantly: the Cold War strategic influences have declined; the membership of the UN has increased almost fourfold and the expectations of what the UN should do have grown.
- Overrepresentation: There is a huge European bias in P-5 due to the presence of the United Kingdom and France, including Russia.
- Under-representation: Regions like Latin America, the Caribbean Group, the Arab World, and Africa do not have a single permanent member
- Question of Veto: All five permanent members of the UNSC enjoy veto power. But the veto has been misused to put national interests ahead of global interests. Critics of the veto power say that it is the most undemocratic element of the UN and the main cause of inaction on war crimes & crimes against humanity, as it effectively prevents UN action against the permanent members and their allies. For E.g. in the current Russian case
- Non-transparent and non-consultative manner of functioning.
- North-South Inequality: Only China is representative of the global south region, whereas the global north has four nations to represent them at the UNSC.
- Growing stresses on the International System: geopolitical conflict, climate change, food and energy insecurity, and pandemics have brought out the inequities and inadequacies of the way the world currently functions.
Key reforms taken in recent times:
Why India should be given a UNSC seat:
- India’s culture and worldview resonate with the UN’s vision
- India’s extensive association with the UN since its inception
- India’s democratic values and credibility of being the largest democracy
- India’s intrinsic strength – Most populous country, Fifth largest economy and Responsible Nuclear power
- India as the leader of the ‘Global South’
- Contribution to peacekeeping
- The active role played on various issues of emerging importance in the UN
India’s Efforts for reforms:
- India’s NORMS reform (New orientation for a reformed multilateral system) in the changing architecture of global governance, including the UNSC
- As an advocate of the ‘Global South’
- G4 and L69: G-4 (India, Brazil Germany and Japan) and L.69 (A group of like-minded countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America) have tried to push UNSC for reforms and expansion
- The Indian strategy of “revisionist integration”into the Security Council consists of two components: (see below image)
India advocates for democratic reforms in multilateral fora, starting with the UN system, to better respond to the needs of its membership, especially developing countries. The implementation of the Council’s decisions, and its very legitimacy, could be enhanced if the Council was reformed to be more representative, effective, efficient, accountable and transparent.
Quote: “It’s clear that outdated systems that were created to deal with the challenges of the past cannot be expected to address the multitude of challenges of today’s dynamic and interdependent world. The Security Council can deliver effective solutions only if it gives a voice to the voiceless rather than zealously guarding the status quo of the mighty.” —Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Security Council Ambassador R Ravindra
Analyze the factors that lend credibility to India in assuming a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, amid calls for its reforms. (10M)
Cultivated idea: Urban farming in India requires holistic policy support; here is why
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Agriculture and related issues
Direction: The article discusses urban farming in India-its importance, steps taken, challenges and way ahead.
Context: The “Draft Citizen’s Policy for Urban Agriculture in Delhi” by Delhi-based research non-profit People’s Resource Centre, was submitted to the Delhi government in 2022, to provide a holistic framework for urban farming.
- Produce cultivated in the city provides 60% of Delhi’s demands for meat, 25% of its milk, and 15% of its vegetable requirements.
- However, the National Capital’s land use and farming policies do not take into account how food is grown and distributed in urban areas.
Recommendations in the Draft Citizen’s Policy for Urban Agriculture in Delhi:
- Promoting residential and community farming through rooftop and kitchen gardens,
- Allocating vacant land for agricultural use
- Creating a market
- Developing policies for animal rearing and spreading awareness.
Significance of the above recommendations:
- Rapid urbanisation, population explosion and climate change increase the risk of food shortage.
- The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (2010 report) notes that 50% of women and children in urban areas are anaemic due to a lack of adequate nutrition.
- In 2020, the UN FAO acknowledged that urban and peri-urban farming can contribute to local food and nutritional needs, enable jobs and reduce poverty.
Steps taken in India to promote urban agriculture:
- In 2008, Pune’s civic administration launched a city farming project to train and encourage people to take up farming on allocated land.
- In 2012, the Kerala government launched a vegetable development programme to encourage gardening in houses, schools, and government and private institutions.
- It also offered subsidies and support for eco-friendly inputs, irrigation, compost and biogas plants.
- In 2014, the Tamil Nadu government introduced a “do-it-yourself” kit for city dwellers to grow vegetables on rooftops, houses and apartment buildings under its Urban Horticulture Development Scheme.
- Since 2021, Bihar has encouraged terrace gardening in five smart cities through subsidies for input costs.
- The impact of such initiatives cannot be widespread without a strong policy for urban farming. For instance, Pune’s initiative failed due to poor interest from people and the government.
- The recently released draft Master Plan of Delhi for 2041, does not acknowledge the role of urban farming. For example, it restricts human activity (many practise urban farming) in areas directly adjacent to the Yamuna River.
- Rapid urbanisation is also a hindrance. Eg.: Jaunti village in Delhi, has become an ‘urban village’, making its land non-agricultural.
- Integrating all efforts to promote urban farming is the key.
- There is a need to make urban agriculture viable.
- Farming in urban spaces (water scarcity and pollution) is not easy. Using wastewater (directly or recycled) can address water scarcity and pollution.
- Innovative techniques, say, hydroponics (offers a cleaner approach), can be further promoted.
- Hydroponics is a method of soilless farming that uses nutrient solutions to sustain plants.
- Compared to commercial farming, hydroponics requires 90% less water, which can be reused. One can grow more plants in the space given.
Conclusion: Urban farming cannot sustain the large population, but can act as a cushion to protect urban residents from inflation, vulnerabilities of weather or crises such as COVID-19. Before more villages become urban, early interventions can result in a sustainable system.
Regenerative agriculture: A step towards water conservation
Q. How far is the Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production? (UPSC 2019)
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2021)
In the context of India’s preparation for Climate-smart Agriculture, consider the following statements:
- The ‘Climate-Smart Village’ approach in India is a part of a project led by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), an international research programme.
- The project of CCAFS is carried out under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) headquartered in France.
- The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India is one of the CGIAR’s research centres.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
- 1 and 2 Only
- 2 and 3 Only
- 1 and 3 Only
- 1, 2 and 3
Neglected Tropical Diseases Day: Poorest countries continue to be most affected, says WHO
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Health Issues
Context: According to the “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023” report published on World NTD Day — January 30, 2023, by World Health Organization (WHO), Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) continue to disproportionately impact the most impoverished members of the international community, living in areas with inadequate water safety, sanitation and access to health care.
About Neglected Tropical Diseases:
- NTDs are a group of 20 conditions mainly prevalent in tropical areas where people do not have access to clean water or safe ways to dispose of human waste.
- They are caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins.
- NTDs are most common among marginalized communities in the developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Key Findings of the report:
- 16 countries accounted for 80 per cent of the global NTD burden. Globally, nearly 1.65 billion people were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD.
- The document also highlighted the tremendous effects COVID-19 had on community-based initiatives, access to healthcare facilities, and healthcare goods supply chains. As a result, between 2019 and 2020, 34 per cent fewer persons received treatment for NTDs.
About WHO Neglected Disease roadmap:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) works towards the ultimate goal of a world free of the burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This work is described in the NTD road map 2021–2030, WHO’s blueprint to drive global efforts in the fight against NTDs in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- London Declaration on NTDs: It was adopted on 30th January 2012 to recognize the global burden of NTDs.
NTDs in India:
- India carries the largest burden of at least 11 of these diseases, with parasitic illnesses like kala-azar and lymphatic filariasisaffecting millions of people throughout the country – often the poorest and most vulnerable.
Indian Initiatives to tackle NTDs:
- A WHO-supported regional alliance was established by the governments of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2005 to expedite early diagnosis and treatment of the most vulnerable populations and improve disease surveillance and control of sandfly populations (Kala-azar).
- India has already eliminated several other NTDs, including guinea worm, trachoma, and yaws.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Content for Mains Enrichment (Fodder points for Essay)
Useful extracts from PM’s 97th edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ (monthly radio programme):
- About E-Wastes:
- “Today’s latest devices are also e-waste of the future”: People have to be made aware of safe and useful methods of disposal of e-waste as it is estimated that only 15% to 17% of e-waste is recycled every year
- “Recycling waste is no less than making gold from waste”: Almost 17 types of precious metals can be extracted from waste using different processes, including gold, silver, copper, and nickel
- About Innovations:
- Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru: This institution has 145 patents, which means every five days two patents are filed. This in itself is a wonderful record
- The growing scientific potential of India: For the first time in the last 11 years in India, the number of Domestic Patent Filing has been seen more than Foreign Filing.
- India ranks seventh in patent filing and in the last five years there has been an increase of nearly 50% in the global innovation index
- About Inclusive initiatives:
- Purple fest (Goa): It is a unique effort towards the welfare of differently-abled people.
- About Grass-root Governance:
- Uthiramerur Inscriptions (920 AD): It is notable for its descriptions of rural self-governance. They indicate that Uthiramerur had two village assemblies: Sabha and Ur.
- The Sabha was an exclusively Brahmin (priestly class) assembly, while the Ur was made up of people belonging to all the classes.
- Anubhava Mantapa of Lord Basaveshwara: It is the first religious parliament in the world, whose literal meaning is “experience pavilion“, and was an academy of mystics, saints and philosophers of the lingayat faith in the 12th century.
- Kakatiya Tradition (founder of the dynasty: Rudradeva I; Period 12-14th Century): Kakatiya had elected committees to look after the installation and maintenance of tanks, canals, and reservoirs
- Uthiramerur Inscriptions (920 AD): It is notable for its descriptions of rural self-governance. They indicate that Uthiramerur had two village assemblies: Sabha and Ur.
- Book “India- The Mother of Democracy”: It illustrates how democratic principles were prevalent in ancient India
- “Democracy is in our veins; it is in our culture – it has been an integral part of our work for centuries. By nature, we are a ‘Democratic Society,”
Facts for Prelims:
Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Mughal Gardens was renamed Amrit Udyan
Source: Indian Express
Context: The iconic Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House) in Delhi have been renamed as ‘Amrit Udyan’
History of the Garden:
At the time of the shifting of the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi (in 1911), about 4,000 acres of land were acquired to construct the Viceroy’s House and a Mughal-style Garden. Sir Edwin Lutyens was given the task of designing the building on Raisina Hill. Lutyens’ designs combined elements of classical European architecture with Indian styles.
Persian Char Bagh style
The Mughals (1526-1858) were known to appreciate gardens e.g., Babur (in Babur Nama) says that his favourite kind of garden is the Persian char Bagh style (literally, four gardens).
- Charbagh is a Persian-style garden layout, in which the main building is put at the centre of a quadrilateral garden, divided by walkways or flowing water into four smaller parts.
- This style was brought to India by the Mughals
- Humayun’s tomb, Nishat Bagh (Sri Nagar) and Taj Mahal are the most famous examples of this style.
- The char Bagh structure was intended to create a representation of heaven- in which humans co-exist in perfect harmony with all elements of nature
- An important feature of these gardens is the use of waterways to demarcate the various quadrants of the garden.
- Fountains were often built, symbolising the “cycle of life.”
‘Nitrate radicals’ are likely making air pollution worse in China, India
Source: Indian Express
Context: A new study has found that parts of India and China are hotspots for the night-time production of nitrate radicals that can increase the amount of deadly ozone and PM2.5 particulate matter in the atmosphere.
About Nitrate Radicals:
- Nitrate radical is an oxide of nitrogen that consists of three oxygen atoms bound to a nitrogen atom.
- Nitrogen oxides are reactive gases that regulate the formation of air pollutants, including ozone and PM 2.5 particles.
- Nitrate radicals will oxidize gas pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which will then generate ozone and secondary organic aerosol.
- Ozone is an air pollutant that affects human health and crop yield.
- Secondary organic aerosol is an important component of PM2.5
In a first, Indian Oil Corporation starts exporting aviation gasoline
Source: Live Mint
Context: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has started the exports of aviation gasoline (for the 1st time by India)
- It is used to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and small planes
- The beginning of fuel exports marks the entry of India into an estimated $2.7 billion global market
- Currently, the IOC is the sole manufacturer of fuel in India
What is Aviation Gasoline Fuel?
Aviation gasoline is a high-octane aviation fuel with superior performance and quality standards compared to imported fuels.
- Usually, flying schools use this fuel for piston-engine aircraft.
- Saving on Importing cost
- Indigenous production: The gas named AV gas 100 LL will make training in domestic flying schools economical for budding pilots,
- Advantages in modern warfare: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly being used in modern warfare, including in Russia-Ukraine.
Aviation gasoline fuel (AVGAS) vs Aviation turbine fuel (ATF)?
Aviation gasoline is used for piston-engine aircraft. These types of aircraft fly through the rotation of the propellers which generate the thrust. While Jet Fuel is used for aircraft with turbine-engine jets. These fly with the thrust of expelled air.
India may use emergency law to lift coal power output
Source: Live Mint
Context: India plans to use an emergency law next month to force power plants that run on imported coal to maximise output in preparation for expected record consumption this summer.
Status of India’s power demand and Coal import:
- India’s power consumption logged a double-digit growth of over 11 per cent to 121 billion units in December 2022 compared to the year-ago period.
- Import of coal in India consists mainly of coking coal and high-grade coal, whose prices are normally higher than thermal coal (mainly from Indonesia and Australia)
- India is the third-largest producer and consumer of electricity worldwide, with an installed power capacity of 408.71 GW as of October 31, 2022.
Why are power plants based on imported coal not running at full capacity?
- In recent years these plants (including some owned by Adani Power and Tata Power) have found it difficult to compete with power generated from cheap domestic coal
Demand by states:
- India’s industrial western states Maharashtra and Gujarat, which have registered a steep rise in power demand in recent months, demanded invocation of the law.
- The Electricity Act 2003governs the activities relating to the generation, transmission, distribution, trading and use of electricity in India.
Plan in place to eradicate invasive plant species from Kerala’s wildlife habitat
Context: The Nodal Centre for Biological Invasions (NCBI) at the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) has come out with a management plan to eradicate Senna spectabilis
The Plan: Landscape-level management of the tree:
Stage 1: The large trees need to be debarked
Stage 2: Once the trees start to dry up, manpower should be made available to remove the sprouting plantlets of Senna spectabilis
Stage 3: Planting of large saplings of native tree species should start
About Senna spectabilis:
- Senna spectabilis isa deciduous tree native to tropical areas of America
- The thick foliage of the tree arrests the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species. Thus, it causes food shortagesfor the wildlife population, especially herbivores
- IUCN: Least Concern
- Invasion of Senna spectabilis is most severe in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and nearby forests
About Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
- It is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve along with Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Mukurthi National Park, and Silent Valley.
- It has the world’s largest recorded population of the Asiatic elephant
- River: Kabini and its three tributaries (Kabini is the tributary of the Kaveri rivers)
Red-Headed Vultures and Black Vultures
Context: For the first time since 2017, birders spotted a red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) in the Bhatti mines area of Delhi, the same week a “rarest of rare” black vulture (Coragyps atratus) was sighted in Gurugram’s Chandu Budhera
Red-headed vulture (also called Asian King vulture or Pondicherry Vulture) was extensively found in India but its numbers drastically reduced after diclofenac poisoning.
IUCN: Critically Endangered
Image Credit: Green Humour
American Black Vulture:
This is mainly found in the USA and South America. Black vultures typically avoid crossing large bodies of water and do not cover long distances.
IUCN: Least Concern.
What is diclofenac poisoning?
Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory agent and painkiller, is known to be linked to the rapid decline of vulture populations in Southeast Asia. The birds were exposed to the medicine after eating carcasses of animals that had recently been treated with diclofenac and subsequently died of kidney failure.
Image Credit: Green Humour
Savour the tang: Manipur’s heimang is a versatile ingredient in Asian cuisines and packs a nutritional punch
Context: Manipur is part of one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, the Indo-Burma region, heimang (Rhus chinensis) a popular plant here has a long history of culinary and medicinal use among communities in countries where the tree grows.
- It grows widely in Manipur and other north-eastern regions
- The spherical fruit has a citrus-like tartness and, it is packed with nutrients such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants.
- Traditional healers of Manipur called maibas or maibis, prescribe heimang for common gastrointestinal problems like diarrhoea and dysentery.
- It is also recommended to eat water-soaked fruit for indigestion and stomach ulcer.
- Other parts of the heimang tree such as its leaves (including the abnormal growths or galls on them), roots, stem, and bark are also found to have preventive and therapeutic effects.
- The research found that compounds isolated from the stem of the heimang tree can significantly suppress HIV-1 activity in vitro.
- Local communities in the state also use heimang leaves to prepare a herbal shampoo called chinghi by boiling them with rice water.
Over 90 fossil nests belonging to India’s largest dinosaurs uncovered
Source: The Hindu
Context: Researchers have uncovered 92 nesting sites containing a total of 256 fossil eggs in central India’s Narmada Valley belonging to titanosaurs.
- They were among the largest dinosaurs to have ever lived.
- Titanosaurs were a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, including genera from all seven continents.
- These were the last surviving group of long-necked sauropods, with taxa still thriving at the time of the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous.
About the findings:
- Researchers made inferences about the life habits of these dinosaurs. They identified six different egg species, suggesting a higher diversity of titanosaurs than is represented by skeletal remains from this region.
- Based on the layout of the nests, the team inferred that these dinosaurs buried their eggs in shallow pits like modern-day crocodiles.
- Certain pathologies found in the eggs, such as a rare case of “egg-in-egg”, indicate that titanosaur sauropods had a reproductive physiology that parallels that of birds and possibly laid their eggs in a sequential manner as seen in modern birds.
About Narmada river:
The Narmada, the largest west-flowing river of the Peninsula, rises near the Amarkantak range of mountains in Madhya Pradesh. It is the fifth-largest river in the country and the largest one in Gujarat.
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