Current Affairs 15-20 Jan 2024

Daily Current Capsules

15 to 20 January 2024

Sexual Harassment at Workplace

  • In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, 83% of all sexual harassment cases reported among Sensex-listed companies were 11 companies in the banking and information technology (IT) sectors.
  • The trend shows awareness is increasing and that women are feeling more empowered to come forward.
  • While IT companies witnessed a slight drop to 308 cases in FY20 compared to 371 in FY19, the number of cases reported in FY23 increased again to 326.
  • For the six banking companies included in the Sensex — HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and State Bank of India — 267 cases were reported in FY23 compared to 194 cases in FY19, a jump of 38 per cent.

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Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) at Workplace Act:

  • The Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) at Workplace Act of India requires all organizations to define their sexual harassment policies, prevention systems, procedures, and service rules for their employees.
  • The act aims to protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace and create a safe and conducive work environment.
  • The act requires organizations with ten or more employees to establish an Internal Committee to prevent sexual harassment and address complaints.

Taiwan Election 2024

  • Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party becomes the next president, defeating his opponents Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party.
  • The victory represents an unprecedented democratic milestone: the first time a political party in Taiwan has won a third straight presidential election.
  • However, the DPP lost its majority in the legislature, and no one party will have enough votes to rule by itself.

Long COVID

  • Long COVID-damaged mitochondria in muscles might be linked to some of the symptoms
  • Long COVID-19, also known as “post-acute sequelae of COVID-19,” is a multisystemic illness that develops after a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)

  • About half of long-term COVID patients meet the criteria for a diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a neuro-immune illness characterized by low energy, discomfort and weakness in the muscles, cognitive impairment, and dysautonomia (a condition that alters heart rate and blood pressure).
  • “Post-exertional malaise” (PEM) is a defining characteristic of ME. This describes a symptom worsening that occurs 24 to 48 hours following any type of exertion, including physical exercise.

Side effects of dysfunctional mitochondria

  • If the mitochondria in muscles are dysfunctional, this means the muscle cells don’t produce enough energy to meet the body’s demands. This may explain why people with long COVID experience worse symptoms after exercise.

Lentils (masoor)

  • India is expected to become the world’s largest producer of lentils (masoor) in the 2023-2024 crop year.
  • This is due to an expected production surge of around 16 lakh tonnes, which is attributed to higher acreage.
  • In the 2022-2023 rabi season, India’s Masur production was 1.55 million tonnes. In the 2023-2024 rabi season, Masur production is estimated to reach 1.6 million tonnes.
  • Canada and India are the world’s top producers, accounting for 29% and 27% of the total production for the year 2021.

Know! about Lentils

  • Lentils grow best in well-drained, loamy soils. They can tolerate a moderate amount of alkalinity, but acidic soils are not suitable. Also, saline, alkaline, and waterlogged soils should be avoided. The ideal soil pH for lentils is 6–8.
  • Lentils grow best in temperatures between 18–30°C. They require cold temperatures during their vegetative growth and warmer temperatures when they mature. Temperatures above 27°C can harm the crop.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the leading lentil-producing state in India, followed by Madhya Pradesh. Lentils are a small annual legume in the pea family.

Poppy Straw

  • The Central Bureau of Narcotics has seized more than 10,000 kg of poppy straw in the last year. Poppy straw is often smuggled as cattle feed.
  • Poppy straw is a major source of opiates and other alkaloids.

    It is the source of 90% of the world’s legal morphine, which is used for medical and scientific purposes.

Some operations against illicit Opium Poppy crops

  • The biggest destruction operation of illicit opium poppy crop by the Central Bureau of Narcotics in India till date i.e., Operation “PRAHAAR” was undertaken in which the destruction of 10,326 Hectares (25,526 acres) of illicit opium in the states of Arunachal Pradesh (8,501 hectares) and Manipur (1,825 hectares), despite adverse terrain, and safety risks was successfully executed.
  • Operation “SHAKTI” was launched in Himachal Pradesh in which 1,124 hectares (2,777 acres) of illicit Cannabis (Ganja) crop was destroyed by CBN officers. This was also the biggest destruction operation of illicit Ganja conducted by CBN in Himachal Pradesh.

SBI Green Rupee Term Deposit (SGRTD) scheme

  • The State Bank of India (SBI) has launched the SBI Green Rupee Term Deposit (SGRTD) scheme.
  • The scheme is to mobilize funds for environment-friendly initiatives and projects, supporting the growth of a green finance ecosystem in India.

Know! about the scheme

  • SBI Green Rupee Term Deposit scheme is open to resident individuals, non-individuals, and NRI customers.
  • SGRTD offers investors the flexibility to choose from three distinct tenors: 1111 days, 1777 days, and 2222 days.

Know! about Green Deposit

  • Green deposit means an interest-bearing deposit, received by the regulated entities (RE) for a fixed period the proceeds of which are earmarked for being allocated towards green finance as per RBI’s notification dated April 11, 2023.

Krishnarajasagar (KRS) dam

  • The Karnataka High Court banned all mining and quarrying activities within a 20- 20-kilometer radius of the Krishnarajasagar (KRS) dam in the Mandya district.
  • The ban includes existing mining licenses and those already operating in the area.
  • The court cited safety concerns over the use of explosives and the potential threat it poses to the dam. The ban is being implemented under the Dam Safety Act 2021.

Know! about Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) Dam

  • The Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) Dam, also known as Kannambadi Katte, is a dam and lake in the Indian state of Karnataka.
  • The dam was built between 1911 and 1932 by the chief engineer of Mysore, Sir M. Visvesvaraya, under the rule of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.
  • The KRS dam is a gravity dam and it is located near the conjunction of three rivers: Cauvery, Hemavathi, and Lakshmana Theertha.

HD 63433d

  • Astronomers recently discovered HD 63433d, an Earth-like planet that is younger and closer than any other previously identified. Here are some details about HD 63433d
  • It revolves around HD 63433, also known as TOI 1726, a sun-like star.
  • With an age of less than 500 million years, it is the smallest confirmed exoplanet.
  • It is the third planet discovered revolving around HD 63433.
  • It does a full orbit around its star every 4.2 days because it is so near to it.
  • It is a tiny, rocky planet orbiting its star quite closely.
  • Astronomers believe HD 63433d is tidally locked, meaning one side is always facing its star.
  • Compared to our Earth, which is 4.5 billion years old, it is only 400 million years old.
  • It belongs to a planetary system that is around ten times younger than our own.

Gigantopithecus

  • The changing environment caused the demise of the largest primate.
  • The largest primate ever to live, Gigantopithecus, went extinct between 295,000 and 215,000 years ago.
  • Scientists believe the giant ape’s inability to adapt to a changing climate is what led to its extinction.
  • As the climate changed, the sub-tropical environment the primate lived in turned into a savannah.
  • The primate’s food preferences didn’t adapt, and it began to eat bark and twigs.
  • The primate’s mobility decreased, and it became reliant on low-nutrient foods.
  • In contrast, orangutans, a close relative of Gigantopithecus, were able to adapt their size, behaviour, and habitat preferences to the changing conditions.

Indian Science, Technology, and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM)

  • The Indian Science, Technology, and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) is launching the Samavesha project at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru on January 16, 2024.
  • The project aims to improve research collaboration in India by improving access to labs and facilities

Vadnagar

  • India’s oldest living city found in Vadnagar
  • Vadnagar is also known as Vridhanagar, Anandapur, Anantapur, and Nagar.
  • Vadnagar, a city in Gujarat, India, is the oldest living fortified city in India, with continuous habitation from 800 BCE.
  • It is also the only archaeological site in India where early to medieval history is completely preserved.
  • It has been inhabited uninterruptedly for over 2,700 years. Some unpublished radiocarbon dates suggest that the settlement could be as old as 1400 BCE.

India’s first Dark Sky Park

  • The Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Maharashtra has become India’s first Dark Sky park and is the fifth in Asia.
  • The park earned the title for protecting the night sky and preventing light pollution, making the facility ideal for astronomy enthusiasts.

Know! about Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR)

  • The Reserve is situated at the southernmost point of the Satpura hills in the Madhya Pradesh districts of Seoni and Chhindwara.
  • It extends as a distinct Sanctuary to the Maharashtra district of Nagpur. It is named after the Pench River and is shared by Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • The Pench River is a 197-kilometer-long tributary of the Kanhan River in India. It originates in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh and flows through Pench National Park.
  • The PTR was declared a national park in 1975 and a tiger reserve in 1998–1999.

    The PTR is the first tiger reserve to span two states.

  • The region is also the setting for The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Egyptian Tombs

  • Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, archaeologists have discovered a series of tombs in Saqqara, Egypt that date back to between 1,800 and 4,800 years.
  • Some of the tombs contain colourful mummy masks and a childlike statue of the “god of silence”.
  • The Greek god of silence, secrets, and confidentiality is Harpocrates.

    In one portrait, he is depicted raising his forefinger to his lips, the universal sign for silence.

Know! about Saqqara

  • Saqqara is part of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis’s necropolis, or burial place. It is located on the Nile’s western bank, 40 kilometres south of Cairo.

Himalayan Wolf

  • The Himalayan wolf (Canis lupus chanco) was assessed for the first time on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.
  • The IUCN classified the Himalayan wolf as “Vulnerable” under C2a(ii) based on an estimated population size of 2,275–3,792 mature individuals.
  • The Himalayan wolf is larger than the Indian and common European wolves, reaching 110–180 cm (45–70 in) in length, 68–76 cm (27–30 in) tall at the shoulder, and weighing around 30–55 kg (66–121 lb) on average.
  • The Himalayan wolf’s distribution includes the Himalayan range and the Tibetan Plateau.
  • Their biggest threat are humans, specifically livestock owners and herders, who strongly believe that they need to kill the wolf to protect their livelihood. Global warming is also expected to threaten their existence.

Cape Verde

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) certified Cabo Verde (also known as Cape Verde) as malaria-free.
  • This makes Cabo Verde the third African country to receive this certification, after Mauritius in 1973 and Algeria in 2019.

Know! about Cabo Verde

  • Cabo Verde is a group of ten volcanic islands located about 620 kilometers off the west coast of Africa.
  • Cabo Verde is named after the westernmost cape of Africa, which is located in nearby Senegal.
  • The country shares maritime borders with Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Senegal.
  • The official language of Cabo Verde is Portuguese, but Creole is more commonly used in conversation.
  • The WHO grants this certification to countries that can demonstrate that the chain of

    indigenous transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted for at least

    three consecutive years.

  • Countries must also show the ability to prevent the re-emergence of transmission.

Conjoined Silverline (Cigaritis conjuncta)

  • Researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and the Indian Foundation for Butterflies discovered a new butterfly species in Karnataka’s Bramhagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Kodagu.
  • The species is called the Conjoined Silverline (Cigaritis conjuncta).
  • The Conjoined Silverline is the first new butterfly species to be found in India’s Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot since the 1970s.
  • The species is known for its shiny wing patterns and fused spots and bands on the undersides of its wings.
  • It is most active in sunlight and is often seen basking on leaves.

9th India International Science Festival (IISF)

  • The DBT Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) in Faridabad, Haryana, hosted the 9th India International Science Festival (IISF) from January 17–20, 2024.
  • The event promotes the country’s achievements and fosters collaboration in science, technology, and innovation.
  • The IISF is a collaboration between the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the Department of Space, and the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • It also partners with Vijnana Bharati, a science movement led by Indian scientists.

The festival’s objectives include:

  • Inspiring young people about science
  • Empowering them as citizens
  • Creating the next generation of scientists and engineers
  • Identifying areas of public interest and concern
  • Providing a space for scientists to contribute to discussions and exchange ideas and expertise

Astra Missile

  • Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt flagged off the Astra missiles for supply to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Bharat Dynamics (BDL) in Hyderabad.

Know! about Astra Missile

  • The Astra is a family of Indian air-to-air missiles that can engage targets at distances ranging from 500 meters to 340 kilometres.
  • The Astra is a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile that can destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aerial targets.
  • It has a range of 80–110 kilometres, an altitude of up to 20 kilometres, and a flight duration of 100–120 seconds.
  • The Astra has a maximum speed of Mach 4.5 and a warhead that is HE Pre-Fragmented.
  • The Astra is 3.8 meters long, 175 millimetres wide, and weighs more than 150 kilograms.
  • Astra mk1s can attack targets flying at speeds of up to Mach 1.4 at a distance of 110 kilometres.
  • The Astra Mk3 program is developing a new long-range air-to-air missile with a range of 350 kilometres.
  • The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI), and other DRDO laboratories designed and developed the Astra.
  • Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) manufactures the Astra for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Know! about Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL)

  • Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) is a central government office and defence company.
  • In March 2022, BDL was identified as the Prime Production Agency for the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

Shankaracharya

  • A few Shankaracharyas have noted their objection to the consecration, underscoring that Hindu Shastras do not permit performing the consecration of a deity in an incomplete temple.
  • They also noted that January 22 falls in the lunar month of Paus, which is inauspicious for the ceremony.
  • Shankaracharya is a title used by the spiritual leaders of the four Hindu monasteries established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
  • The Shankaracharyas are considered the highest authority in Hinduism and for interpreting Hindu scriptures.

Know! about Adi Shankaracharya

  • Adi Shankaracharya, commonly called Adi Shankara, was an eighth-century CE Indian Vedic scholar and teacher.
  • On May 11, 788 AD, Adi Shankaracharya was born in Kaladi, Kerala, which is close to Kochi.
  • He contributed to the development of Advaita Vedanta, a school of Hindu philosophy that emphasizes non-duality and the unity of all reality.
  • He was an anti-Buddhist philosopher and a devotee of Shiva.
  • He published numerous Sanskrit essays on the Vedic literature and promoted the Advaita (Monism) doctrine.
  • The writings of Adi Shankaracharya offer a harmonious interpretation of the sastras, centred on the liberating realization of one’s own self. It differs from philosophy in that it focuses on elucidating and defending a faith rather than challenging the fundamental presumptions of that faith.

Know! about four Hindu Mathas

The four main Hindu mathas (monasteries) in Dwarka (Gujarat), Joshimath (Uttarakhand), Puri (Odisha), and Sringeri (Karnataka) are believed to have been established by the eighth-century religious scholar and philosopher Adi Shankara:

  1. Jyotir Math: Located in Joshimath, Uttarakhand
  2. Govardhan Math: Located in Puri, Odisha
  3. Sringeri Sharada Peetham: Located in Chikmagalur, Karnataka
  4. Dwarka Sharada Peetham: Located in Dwarka, Gujarat

The Mathas are made up of religious shrines and temples, as well as libraries and residences.

Houthi Rebel declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist

  • The Houthis are a Shia Islamist political and military organization that emerged in Yemen in 1992.
  • The Houthis are also known as the Houthi insurgency, the Houthi rebellion, the Sa’dah War, or the Sa’dah conflict.
  • The Houthi insurgency was a military rebellion that began in Northern Yemen in 2004 and escalated into a civil war.

Know! about SDGT designations

  • A “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” group designation focuses primarily on the finances of an individual or a group.
  • In this case, it will freeze the Houthis’ assets in the US and prohibit American citizens from having any financial dealings with the organization.

Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP)

  • Vice-President, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar inaugurated the 12th General Assembly of the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP), in New Delhi.

Know! about the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP)

  • It was founded in 1970 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, as a voluntary movement of followers of Buddhism with both monastic (monks) and lay members.
  • It is currently headquartered at the Gandanthegchenling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and the Supreme Head of Mongolian Buddhists is the ABCP President.
  • It aims to bring together the efforts of Buddhists in support of consolidating universal peace, harmony, and cooperation among people in Asia.
  • ABCP, carrying out its activities based on the noble teachings of Lord Buddha, has been expressing its strong voice that has made a significant contribution to the unified effort for global peace and security.
  • In recognition of this valuable contribution, the United Nations registered ABCP under the status of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Genetically Modified (GM) crops

  • The government argued that growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops such as mustard will make quality edible oil cheaper for the common man and benefit national interest by reducing foreign dependency.
  • According to the government, India imports 55-60% of its cooking oil from countries that allow GM foods.
  • The government has also said that GM crops can help with food security.

Know! the reasons why the government supports GM crops

  • GM hybrids have increased rapeseed yields globally.
  • GM crops can be engineered to resist pests and diseases, which can lower the cost of production.
  • GM crops can have higher yields, which can increase profits for farmers and lower prices for consumers.

Legal Status of GM Crops

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for the commercial release of GM crops.
  • In 2002, the GEAC allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton.
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act,1989.
  • India has also allowed the commercial cultivation of GM mustard, but the move is pending at the Supreme Court

Know! about GM Crop

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
  • Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects.
  • The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium. E.g. Bt cotton has alien genes from soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
  • It allows the crop to develop a protein, toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  • Seeds produced using genetic engineering are called Genetically Modified Seeds.

Know! about Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

  • It is responsible for the appraisal of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
  • The committee is also responsible for the appraisal of proposals relating to the release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.
  • GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Know! about DMH-11 

  • The Government has approved the environmental release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard hybrid DMH-11 and its parental lines during 147th meeting of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on 18 October, 2022 for its seed production and testing as per existing ICAR guidelines, conditions imposed by the GEAC
  • DMH-11 is an indigenously developed transgenic mustard.
  • It is a genetically modified variant of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) mustard.
  • DMH-11 is a result of a cross between Indian mustard variety ‘Varuna’ and East European ‘Early Heera-2’ mustard.
  • It contains two alien genes (‘barnase’ and ‘barstar’) isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens that enable breeding of high-yielding commercial mustard hybrids.
  • Barnase in Varuna induces temporary sterility because of which it can’t naturally self-pollinate.
  • Barstar in Heera blocks the effect of barnase allowing seeds to be produced.

Tomahawk cruise missiles

  • Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced a contract with the U.S. government to purchase up to 400 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles.
  • The contract is worth about 254 billion yen ($1.7 billion) and the missiles are to be delivered from 2025 to 2027.
  • In December 2022, Japan adopted a new defence strategy to join the United States, Australia, South Korea, and other regional partners to promote peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

Know! about Tomahawk cruise missile

  • The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is a long-range, jet-powered, subsonic cruise missile used by the United States Navy and Royal Navy.
  • The Tomahawk is designed to fly at extremely low altitudes at high subsonic speeds. It is 5.6 meters long and can travel as fast as 885 km per hour.
  • The Tomahawk can carry either conventional or nuclear payloads. However, policy decisions have phased out their nuclear role.
  • The Tomahawk has an accuracy of about 5 meters.
  • The Tomahawk has a range of up to approximately 2,400 km (about 1,500 miles).

Justice A.J. Sadashiva Commission

  • The Justice A.J. Sadashiva Commission was established in 2005 to examine how to distribute reservation facilities among Scheduled Castes (SCs) in Karnataka.
  • The commission was set up by the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government to investigate the need for and methods of sub-classifying SC reservations.

Know! about SC reservations and Article 341

  • The implementation of the Dalit sub-quotas would be only possible if the Central government ensures the amendment of Article 341 of the Constitution.
  • Parliament is the only authority (on the SC internal reservation issue). The state government has no role – it is only a recommendatory body.
  • Article 341 of the Indian Constitution allows the President to declare certain castes and classes as Scheduled Castes in a state or union territory.
  • The President can also specify castes, races, or tribes by public notification, after consulting with the state’s governor.

Qanat System

Harvesting Water and Harnessing Cooperation: Qanat Systems in the Middle  East and Asia | Middle East Institute

  • Some of Africa’s dry areas face serious water shortages due to minimal rainfall. An ancient system of drawing water from aquifers, the “qanat system”, could help.

How does the qanat system work?

  • There are bodies of water underground known as aquifers, some of which can be found at the tops of valleys or near mountains.
  • A qanat system taps these aquifers and, using underground tunnels, moves the water, using gravity, over many kilometres.
  • The tunnel then exits at a lower-lying area.
  • When the water exits the tunnel, farmers can use it to irrigate their crops.
  • People can also access the water along the stretch of the tunnel using wells.
  • It’s a system that’s managed by everyone and its benefits are shared.
  • The qanats have been used for centuries in arid and semi-arid parts of north Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where water supplies are limited.
  • It’s known by a variety of names, “foggara” in north Africa, “falaj” in Oman and “qarez” in parts of Asia.
  • It’s thought to have been developed in Persia in the first millennium BC.

Soligas and Yeravas

  • The recently launched Forgotten Trails: Foraging Wild Edibles,looked into the diets of Soligas and Yeravas communities, who have been living in the Cauvery Basin and the surrounding hills of peninsular India for thousands of years.
  • The Soligas and Yeravas are indigenous communities that have lived in the Cauvery Basin and the surrounding hills of peninsular India for thousands of years.

Know! about Soligas

  • They are regarded as India’s original settlers.
  • In 1974, their residence, BR Hills, was one of the first places in India to be designated as a wildlife sanctuary.
  • When the area was granted the designation of a tiger reserve in 2011, they became the first community to be granted resident privileges.
  • Their contribution to the preservation of forests and biodiversity led to the creation of a new wasp genus bearing their name.
  • They are classified as a scheduled tribe under Indian law.

Know! about Yeravas

  • The Yeravas are a tribal community in Karnataka and Kerala.
  • The Yeravas are predominantly found in the Kodagu district of Karnataka, as well as the adjacent districts of Kannur and Wayanad in Kerala.
  • They are also known as the Ravula, which is their primary language.
  • The Yeravas are primarily agricultural labourers in coffee plantations and tea estates.
  • The Yeravas have lived in the Western Ghats for thousands of years.
  • They rely heavily on honey from the Western Ghats in their diet.
  • The Yeravas also know that not all mushrooms are edible and that care must be taken to ensure they do not mature and become infested with insects

Chang’e 6 mission

  • The China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that the Chang’e 6 sample return mission is scheduled to land on the moon in the first half of 2024.
  •  The mission is expected to launch around May 2024.
  • The Chang’e 6 mission is a robotic lunar exploration mission that will attempt to retrieve samples from the lunar south pole.
  • It will be China’s second sample return mission and the first to attempt to retrieve samples from the far side of the moon.
  • The mission is expected to bring back up to two kilograms of lunar samples.
  • The samples will be made available to the global scientific community for study.

Know! about Chang’e 6 mission

  • The Chang’e 6 mission is a planned lunar lander that will collect samples from the lunar surface and return them to Earth.
  • The mission is expected to last about 53 days.
  • The Chang’e 6 mission will also carry payloads and satellite programs from international payloads.
  • Samples collected by Chang’e-6 will initially be available to Chinese scientists and institutions before being opened to research proposals internationally.

Invasive Senna spectabilis

  • The Forest Department of Tamil Nadu cleared 356.50 hectares of invasive Senna spectabilis growth in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR).

Know! about Senna spectabilis

  • Senna spectabilis, also known as whitebark senna, is a small, deciduous tree native to tropical areas of Central and South America.
  • It can grow up to 20 meters tall and produce bright yellow flowers in the summer.
  • Senna spectabilis is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, parks, and other areas due to its showy flowers.
  • It is also evergreen in climates with year-round rain but can become deciduous in other regions. The tree’s thick foliage can inhibit the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species.

    In Uganda, it is considered an invasive alien species that poses a high risk to the native flora.

    In Thai traditional medicine, the plant is used for ringworm and skin diseases.

  • The leaves are also used to treat constipation, poisoning, and protozoic infections of the gut.

Know! about Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

  • The reserve is 1,411 square kilometers and is the third-largest tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu
  • It is the largest wildlife sanctuary in the state, covering the Sathyamangalam taluk and parts of Gobichettipalayam Taluk in the Erode District.
  • The reserve is characterized by hilly terrain, with the highest peak being the Kattari Betta which stands at an elevation of 1,800 meters above sea level.
  • Some of the prominent rivers in the region include the Bhavani, Moyar, and Noyyal rivers.

Statue of Social Justice

  • The world’s tallest Ambedkar statue, named the “Statue of Social Justice,” is set to be unveiled in Vijayawada on January 19.
  • Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy to unveil the statue.
  • Standing at 206ft, with the statue itself being 125ft on an 81ft podium, it will rank among the world’s top 50 tallest statues.
  • The tallest statue globally is Sardar Patel’s at 790ft.
  • The second tallest Dr. B.R. Ambedkar statue is currently in Telangana.

CISO Deep-Dive training programme

  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative of MeitY was conceptualised with the mission to spread awareness about cyber-crime and build capacities of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT officials across all government departments for ensuring adequate safety measures to combat the growing menace.
  • National e-Governance Division (NeGD) under its Capacity Building scheme, organisied the 41st CISO Deep-Dive training programme from January 16 – 20, 2024
  • The aim of the program is to spread awareness, build capacities as well as enable Government departments to take steps to create a cyber resilient ecosystem.
  • The programme aims to sensitise and orient participants on cyber safety and security in taking Digital India programme forward for integrated delivery of various Government services to citizens
  • Since June 2018 till December 2023, NeGD has efficaciously conducted 41 batches of CISO deep-dive training programmes for over 1,548 CISOs and frontline IT officials.

India to recognise Farsi as one of its nine classical languages

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced that the Government of India has decided to include Farsi (Persian) as one of the nine classical languages in India under the New Education Policy.
  • Tamil was the first language in India to be accorded classical language status in 2004.
  • Sanskrit, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odia are the other languages that have been declared classical languages in India by the central government.

Know! about Farsi

  • Farsi, also known as Persian, is a Western Iranian language.
  • It is the official language of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.
  • Farsi is a subgroup of West Iranian languages, which also includes Dari and Tajik. Dari and Tajik are variants of Farsi spoken in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, respectively.
  • Farsi is an Indo-European language.
  • The Persian alphabet has 32 letters, written from right to left, with most letters connected to one another.

One Vehicle, One FASTag” initiative

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) launched the “One Vehicle, One FASTag” initiative.
  • This is to improve the efficiency of the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system and traffic flow at toll plazas.
  • The initiative aims to discourage the use of a single FASTag for multiple vehicles or linking multiple FASTags to a single vehicle.
  • The NHAI made this decision after seeing an increase in KYC violations and multiple tags per vehicle.
  • The NHAI has urged users to comply with the initiative and discard any previously issued FASTags.
  • After January 31, 2024, only the latest FASTag account will remain active, and previous tags will be deactivated or blacklisted.

National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL)

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research, has invited suggestions for the revision of the National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) by February 29, 2024.
  • The ICMR had released the first NEDL in 2019 to make the availability of diagnostics an essential component of the healthcare system.
  • The list includes general laboratory tests for a broad range of common conditions for the diagnosis of communicable and non-communicable diseases, disease-specific tests for HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, dengue, malaria, and area-endemic diseases, and imaging tests such as X-rays, computerised tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging scans, and ultrasound sonography.
  • Essential diagnostic tests are defined as those “that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the population and are selected with due regard to disease prevalence and public health relevance, evidence of efficacy and accuracy, and comparative cost-effectiveness”.
  • The test should focus on conditions with a high disease burden or having significant public health relevance, where the introduction of a diagnostic test will have a clear impact on disease diagnosis and management.
  • India is the first country to release the NEDL.
  • The list enumerates the minimum number of tests that should be available at various levels of healthcare facilities, including – village level, Sub Health Centre or Health & Wellness Centres (HWCs), Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs), Sub-District Hospital (SDH), and District Hospital (DH).
  • Since 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended the development and implementation of a National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) to facilitate the availability of In-Vitro Diagnostics (IVDs) across the various tiers of the healthcare pyramid, facilities with or without a laboratory onsite.
  • India’s NEDL was based on consideration of the disease burden data across different states of the country, in alignment with the national programmes.

MeitY launched two flagship programs

  • Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, launched two flagship programs – “Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Intelligent Internet of Things (IIoT) Sensors” and India’s first Graphene Centre “India Innovation Centre for Graphene (IICG)”
  • The CoE in IIoT Sensors is a unique facility established at Makers Village Kochi by MeitY, GoI and Govt. of Kerala to catalyze the development of sensors within the realm of Intelligent IoT systems covering a broad spectrum of applications of intelligent sensors in networks, devices and sensor systems.
  • The India’s first Graphene Centre IICG also has been established at Makers Village Kochi by MeitY, GoI and Govt. of Kerala alongwith Tata Steel Limited with the aim to foster R&D, product innovation and capacity building in the area of Graphene and 2D material systems.
  • Digital University Kerala (DUK) (formerly IIITMK) and Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (CMET)-Thrissur are the technical partner for setting up these centers at Makers Village Kochi.
  • The complete full-fledged facility for R&D, incubation, innovation, skilling, capacity building, testing & certification shall be established at these centers by the experts of these agencies.

WHO’s MPOWER

  • 150 nations have successfully reduced tobacco consumption, according to the WHO report.
  • The research also notes that the implementation of MPOWER tobacco control strategies has resulted in success for Brazil and the Netherlands.
  • Since 2010, Brazil has experienced a 35% decrease, and the Netherlands is almost at its 30% goal.
  • In the fifteen years since the introduction of the WHO’s MPOWER tobacco control programs, smoking rates have declined, according to PAHO.
  • There would be an estimated 300 million more smokers worldwide today if there hadn’t been this drop. According to the WHO, tobacco taxes are the most cost-effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth and low-income groups.
  • A 10% tax increase that increases tobacco prices by 10% decreases tobacco consumption by about 4% in high-income countries and about 5% in low- and middle-income countries.

Gentoo penguin

Gentoo Penguin - eBird

  • A photographer captured images of a rare all-white female Gentoo penguin at the Gabriel Gonzalez Videla Base in Chilean Antarctica.
  • Gentoo penguins usually have black feathers with some white.

    The penguin’s all-white plumage is attributed to a genetic condition called leucism.

  • Leucism is rare because it is caused by a recessive gene.

    It can make animals easier for predators to hunt because they can be seen more easily.

Tibetan brown bear in India
A rare and elusive bear, the Tibetan brown bear, has been recently sighted  in Sikkim, making it the first confirmed record of the animal being sighted  in India.

  • Sikkim Forest Department and WWF-India captured the first confirmed sighting of a rare Tibetan brown bear in India.
  • The bear was photographed in the Mangan district of Sikkim at an altitude of 13,000 ft.
  • The bear is also known as the Himalayan blue bear.
  • The Tibetan brown bear is an omnivore that lives in high-altitude alpine forests and meadows at least 4,000 meters above sea level.

Know! about the Tibetan brown bear

  • Protection – Listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a protected species

    Status- Endangered by the IUCN

Capsule on Science, Technology and Applied Research’ (CAPSTAR)

  • Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan inaugurated the prestigious ninth chapter of ‘Capsule on Science, Technology and Applied Research’ (CAPSTAR) at Military Institute of Technology (MILIT), Pune
  • The three day CAPSTER – 09 will see the active participation from services, academia, DRDO Labs and private defence industries.
  • The CAPSTER – 09 is being held as part of the 12th Raising Day celebrations of MILIT which is commemorated on 19 January every year.
  • The Institute with motto ‘Victory through Technology’ traces its roots to ‘Institute of Armament Studies’ which was set up in ‘College of Military Engineering’ in early 50s.
  • In 1967, the Institute moved to the picturesque locale of Girinagar.
  • From its limited scope of Armament Studies, the role of the Institute was considerably enhanced by the Defence R&D council in 1964 and further in 1981.
  • In order to meet the specific and futuristic training requirements of the Armed Forces, MILIT was raised on 19 Jan 12 and subsequently, MILIT emerged as independent tri-services Armed Forces Technical Training Institute under Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS)

MPLADS e-SAKSHI Mobile Application

  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) launched the MPLADS e-SAKSHI Mobile Application for revised fund flow procedure under MPLAD Scheme
  • The objective of MPLAD Scheme is to enable the Members of Parliament (MPs) to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs.
  • The revised set of guidelines aims to broaden the scope of the Scheme so as to enable the MPs to recommend the developmental works as per the changing needs of the community; with an emphasis on improving the functioning, implementation and monitoring of the MPLAD scheme.
  • The mobile app would offer convenience and accessibility, allowing MPs to propose, track, and oversee the projects at their fingertips.
  • This real-time access enhances decision-making processes, enabling swift responses to emerging needs or issues.
  • The application will streamline the communication between MPs and relevant authorities, facilitating a more efficient exchange of information.

Gut Microbiota

  • Scientists are finding that the gut microbiota may be linked to heart health, some cancers, and even the colour of urine.
  • A large number of bacterial species in the human gut microbiome belong to the genus Bacteroides.

Know! about Gut microbiota

  • The gut microbiota, also known as gut microbiome or gut flora, is a system of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of animals. This includes bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms.

    The gut microbiota is a complex and dynamic population of microorganisms that help support energy harvesting, digestion, and immune defence.

  • The gut microbiota also appears to influence many aspects of overall health, both within the digestive system and outside of it.
  • The gut microbiota is made up of all the bacteria, commensal, and pathogenic, residing in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • The numbers of bacteria present can vary, beginning at between 10 to 103 bacteria per gram of stomach and duodenal contents, increasing to between 104 and 107 bacteria per gram in the small intestine, and rising to between 1011 and 1012 bacteria per gram in the large intestine.
  • The gut microbiota has been explored for potential gut microbe–hos interactions including effects on metabolism, immune, and neuroendocrine responses.

First solar-powered boat in India

  • The first solar-powered boat in India was launched on the Saryu River in Ayodhya.
  • The boat was developed by UPNEDA and has six rooftop solar panels that produce 550 watts of power.
  • The boat is a dual-mode boat that runs entirely on solar power.
  • The boat’s launch is part of the Uttar Pradesh government’s efforts to make Ayodhya a model solar city.

Ex-Ayutthaya

The maiden Bilateral Maritime Exercise between the Indian Navy (IN) and Royal Thai Navy (RTN) was conducted.

Indigenously built Indian Naval ships Kulish and IN LCU 56 participated in the inaugural edition of the exercise.

  • The naval exercise between India and Thailand has been named ‘Ex-Ayutthaya’ which translates to ‘The Invincible One’ or ‘Undefeatable’, and symbolizes the significance of two of the oldest cities,
  • Ayodhya in India and Ayutthaya in Thailand, their historic legacies, rich cultural ties, and shared history.

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