Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Four Kingfisher species sighted in Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary
Bilateral & International Relations
- Eighth Regional 3R Forum
Art & Culture
- Assam Spring Festival
- Madhubani railway station gets a makeover with Mithila paintings
- Walmiki and Malhar, 2 languages unknown to linguists, discovered
Science & Technology
- New type of antibiotics to fight drug resistance
Key Facts for Prelims
- Railway link between India and Nepal
- Desert Tiger 5
- Soft Drinks Sugar tax
- India slaps anti-dumping duty on import of phosphorus pentoxide
- Uzhavan app
- Amma Bio-Fertiliser scheme
- RBI switches back to GDP scale to measure economy
- Ganga Hariteema Yojana
- Uttarakhand’s second mega food park
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Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Four Kingfisher species sighted in Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary
Four kingfisher bird species thriving in Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh were recently sighted.
The species have been identified are
- Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis),
- White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis),
- Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileate) and
- Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
- Kingfisher belongs to family of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds in order Coraciiformes. The family contains 114 species and is divided into three subfamilies and 19 genera.
- All kingfishers spices have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails.
- Most kingfishers spices species have bright plumage with only small differences between sexes.
- In India, 12 species of kingfisher bird can be sighted.
About Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Located in Andhra Pradesh, it is wildlife sanctuary and estuary.
- It is one of rarest eco-regions of world because it harbour’s vast tracts of pristine mangrove forests.
- It is believed to be one of last remaining tracts of thick primary mangrove forests of South India.
- The estuary of Krishna River passes through it. It is believed that this region potentially holds one most significant populations of fishing cats in the world.
- It is spread across Krishna and Guntur districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Bilateral & International Relations
Eighth Regional 3R Forum
The Eighth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and Pacific was held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
The Indore Municipal Corporation, Government of Madhya Pradesh, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have been designated as the City Partner, Organizing State Partner and Industry Partner
- It was co-organized by Ministry of Housing and Affairs, Japan’s Environment Ministry, and United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD).
- The Indore Municipal Corporation, Government of Madhya Pradesh, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have been designated as the City Partner, Organizing State Partner and Industry Partner.
- The theme of this edition of forum was “Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency– A 21st Century Vision for Asia-Pacific Communities”.
About 3R Forum in Asia and Pacific:
The Regional 3R Forum in Asia and Pacific was launched in 2009 in Tokyo, Japan with objective of integrating 3Rs– reduce, reuse and recycle in policy, planning and development.
- The forum provides strategic platform for sharing best practices in 3R areas, including new and emerging issues of concern in waste management.
- During the forum meetings, members hold discussions on policies, provided support for the implementation of 3R projects in member countries and share useful information and build networks for further promotion of 3R initiatives.
- Japan had hosted inaugural Regional 3R Forum in Tokyo in 2009.
- Its members include governments, aid agencies, international agencies, private sector entities, research bodies, NGOs and other relevant parties.
Ha Noi 3R Declaration:
- The Fourth Regional 3R Forum – held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, in March 2013 – adopted the Ha Noi 3R Declaration ‐ Sustainable 3R Goals for Asia and the Pacific for 2013‐2023.
- It is a legally non-binding and voluntary document which aims to provide a basic framework for Asia-Pacific countries to develop measures and programs to promote 3Rs including a set of 3R indicators for monitoring specific progress.
About United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD):
UNCRD was founded in 1971 as instrument to help achieve the strategy for Second United Nations Development Decade.
- It was created by agreement between Government of Japan and UN.
- Its operations are supported by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA).
- Its vision is to achieve sustainable living environment for all.
- Its mission is to assist developing countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.
- UNCRD’s interventions in developing countries are clustered under three main thematic interrelated and complementary areas of work – (a) Integrated Regional Development Planning; (b) Sustainable Urban Management; and (c) Knowledge Management.
Art & Culture
Assam Spring Festival
Assam Spring Festival was held at Manas National Park.
- It was organised by Indian Weavers’ Association and Swankar Mithinga Onsai Afat, an association of reformed poachers in Manas who are now engaged in wildlife conservation and preservation.
- The aim of the festival was to promote local food and culture of fringe villagers.
- It also attempted to create model of alternative livelihood through food, handloom and culture.
About Manas National Park:
- Manas National Park is a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam, India.
- Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
- The Manas river flows thorough the west of the park and is the main river within it. It is a major tributary of Brahmaputra river and splits into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba as it reaches the plains.
- The Manas river also serves as an international border dividing India and Bhutan.
- The bedrock of the savanna area in the north of the park is made up of limestone and sandstone, whereas the grasslands in the south of the park stand on deep deposits of fine alluvium.
- The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with the riverine succession continuing up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest make it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
- The park is well known for species of rare and endangered wildlife that are not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.
Madhubani railway station gets a makeover with Mithila paintings
About Mithila painting:
- Mithila painting is folk painting practiced in Mithila region of India (especially Bihar) and Nepal.
- It is also known as Madhubani paintings which mean ‘forest of honey’. It has been mentioned in ancient Indian texts like Ramayana.
- The central themes of Mithila paintings are based on Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Its main theme is supported by traditional geometric patterns.
- Initially, women from village drew paintings on freshly plastered mud walls of their home as illustration of their thoughts, hopes and dreams using fingers and twigs forming two dimensional imagery using paste of powdered rice.
- With time, it became part of festivities and special events like marriage. It was made from paste of powdered rice. It also used colours derived from vegetables and plants.
- Now they are also painted on cloth, handmade paper and canvas.
- Some of main attributes of these paintings are double line border, abstract-like figures of deities, ornate floral patterns, bold use of colours and bulging eyes and jolting nose of faces of figures.
- The various styles of Mithila painting include Bharni, Tantrik, Katchni, Godna, and Kohbar, which were historically painted only by women from the upper strata in caste system, who used to make them on mud walls on special occasions.
- Mithila painting has been accorded the coveted GI (geographical Indication) status as it has remained confined to compact geographical area and skills have been passed on through centuries, but content and the style have largely remained same.
Walmiki and Malhar, 2 languages unknown to linguists, discovered
Linguist from University of Hyderabad have discovered two endangered languages Walmiki and Malhar predominantly spoken in remote regions of Odisha.
- These languages are categorised `endangered’ as the number of people speaking is small.
- These languages are spoken in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
- Only a few people living in the forest and hilly areas speak these languages.
- Walmiki is spoken in Koraput of Odisha and on the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh.
- Walmiki is an isolate language i.e. it does not belong to a family of languages.
- The name of the language is also interesting and indicative because the speech community claims descent from the great Indian saint-poet Valmiki.
- Malhar is spoken in a remote and isolated hamlet which is almost 165 km from Bhubaneswar.
- The community consists of about 75 speakers including children.
- It belongs to the North Dravidian subgroup of the Dravidian family of languages and has close affinities with the other North Dravidian languages like Malto and Kurux spoken in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.
- India has been termed sociolinguistic giant and linguists paradise by various scholars across the world. Though Central government has made effort to document endangered tribal and minor languages, there are many languages which are unknown to world and are waiting to be discovered and documented.
Science & Technology
New type of antibiotics to fight drug resistance
Researchers have discovered a new class of antibiotics- Odilorhabdins.
- Called odilorhabdins, or ODLs, the antibiotics are produced by symbiotic bacteria found in soil-dwelling nematode worms that colonise insects for food.
- The bacteria help to kill the insect, and secrete the antibiotic to keep competing bacteria away.
How they function?
- ODL like many clinically useful antibiotics, work by targeting ribosome. But ODL is unique because it binds to place on ribosome that has never been used by other known antibiotics. ODL after binding to ribosome disrupts ability of ribosome of bacterial cells to interpret and translate genetic code.
- ODL impact reading ability of ribosome and cause ribosome to make mistakes when it creates new protein. This miscoding corrupts cell with flawed proteins and causes bacterial cell to die.
Significance of the discovery:
- Many antibiotics slow bacterial growth, but antibiotics that actually kill bacteria such as ODLs called bactericidal antibiotics are rare. Odilorhabdins is unique and promising on two fronts: its unconventional source and its distinct way of killing bacteria, both of which suggest the compound may be effective at treating drug-resistant or hard-to-treat infections.
Key Facts for Prelims
Railway link between India and Nepal
- India will build a strategic railway link between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu in Nepal to facilitate people-to-people contact and bulk movement of goods.
- The proposal to link Raxaul to Kathamandu gains significance as it comes nearly two years after China, in March 2016, agreed to construct a strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with an apparent aim of reducing Kathmandu’s dependence on India.
- It also comes in the backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020.
Desert Tiger 5
- It is a joint military exercise between United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia.
- It is aimed at sharing expertise and enhancing joint military actions.
- The drill was also aimed at raising the level of performance and combat efficiency and working together based on a strategy to improve the overall ability and combat readiness of the ground forces.
Soft Drinks Sugar tax
- The Soft Drinks Industry Levy also known as soft drinks sugar tax or sin tax or sugar tax came into force in United Kingdom as part of government’s plan to combat obesity and sugar related disease.
- With introduction of sugar levy, UK joins few countries, including Mexico, France and Norway that have introduced similar fat taxes.
- The move aims to help tackle childhood obesity. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of dietary sugar for children and teenagers.
- The levy will be applied to manufacturers in Britain and whether they pass it on to consumers or not will be up to them.
- It will be not applicable to fruit juices as they don’t contain added sugar and neither to drinks that have high milk content.
India slaps anti-dumping duty on import of phosphorus pentoxide
- The government has imposed anti-dumping duty on import of Phosphorus pentoxide from China to protect the domestic manufacturers from cheap shipments.
- Phosphorus Pentoxide is used as a powerful desiccant and dehydrating agent and is a useful building block and reagent in the chemical industry.
- Phosphorus pentoxide is not flammable.
- It reacts vigorously with water and water-containing substances like wood or cotton, liberates much heat and may even cause fire. It is corrosive to metal.
- Tamil Nadu Government launched bi-lingual ‘Uzhavan’ (farmer) mobile application in a bid to use technology for benefit of farmers.
- The app will allow ryots to have access to nine types of services, including details about their crop insurance.
- It can be used by farmers to get information on farm subsidies, book farm equipment and related infrastructure.
- It will also help them to get details on their crop insurance, besides receiving weather forecast for next four days.
- It will also provide information on available stocks of seeds and fertilisers in local government and private stores.
Amma Bio-Fertiliser scheme
- Tamil Nadu Government launched ‘Amma Bio-Fertiliser’ scheme named after late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
- It is aimed at better management of nature farming and help boost and maintain soil fertility.
RBI switches back to GDP scale to measure economy
The Reserve Bank of India switched back to gross domestic product (GDP) model from the gross value added (GVA) methodology to provide its estimate of economic activity in the country.
- The switch to GDP is mainly to conform to international standards and global best practices.
GVAZ vs. GDP model:
- The GVA methodology gives picture of state of economic activity from producers’ side or supply side whereas the GDP model gives picture from consumers’ side or demand perspective.
- Globally, performance of most economies is gauged in terms of GDP model. This is also approach followed by multilateral institutions, international analysts and investors because it facilitates easy cross-country comparisons.
- Government had started analysing growth estimates using GVA methodology from January 2015 and had also changed the base year to 2018 from January 2018.
- Even the Central Statistical Office (CSO) has started using GDP model as supply-side measure of economic activity as main measure of economic activities since January 15, 2018.
Ganga Hariteema Yojana
- Uttar Pradesh Government has launched Ganga Hariteema Yojana (also known as Ganga Greenery scheme) in 27 districts of the state located on the bank of river Ganga.
- The scheme aims at enhancing green cover in catchment areas of river Ganga and control land erosion.
- Under it tree plantation will be carried out in 1 Km areas from banks of river.
- General people will also be encouraged for tree plantation on their private lands under ‘One Person One Tree’ slogan.
- Department of Forest has been nominated as nodal department for the scheme.
- High power committee under chairmanship of Chief Minister will monitor implementation of scheme.
- The scheme will be carried out by September 16, 2018 which is observed as Ozone Day.
Uttarakhand’s second mega food park
- Uttarakhand’s second mega food park has been set up at Udham Singh Nagar.
- The park- M/s Himalayan Mega Food Park Private Ltd has been set up at a cost of Rs 99.96 crore and will benefit around 25,000 farmers in this as well as neighbouring districts.
- The first Mega Food Park in the state located at Haridwar has already become operational.