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Prelim Bits 24-02-2024 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

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February 24, 2024

Illegal encroachments in Assam

Notices issued by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) to evict illegal settlers from the grazing reserves have sparked unrest in Assam.

  • Issue - Encroachment by illegal settlers and construction of temporary and permanent structures on Professional Grazing Reserves (PGR) and Village Grazing Reserves (VGR).
  • The PGR was announced by the British government in 1933 and its boundary was demarcated in 1946.
  • The KAAC said that that the decision was in line with a Supreme Court order and the Karbi Anglong (Land & Revenue) Act of 1953.

In Jagpal Singh & Others v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court has urged that states to take necessary measures for the eviction of illegal occupants of Gram Sabha or Gram Panchayat lands.

  • Mission Basundhara 4.0 - Assam Government has proposed to launch the mission to reclaim the chars (sandbars or river islands) from encroachers to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Brahmaputra Valley.

Quick Facts

  • KAAC - It is one of the 10 Autonomous District Councils administered under the 6th Schedule.
  • The KAAC administers the tribal-majority Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong districts of Assam.
  • 6th Schedule - It contains provisions related to the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • Currently, there are 10 ADCs under the 6th Schedule in the North East Region.

Assam

References

  1. The Hindu | Eviction of illegal settlers in Assam
  2. The Hindu | Mission Basundhara 4.0

Egg-Freezing

Indian cities are becoming hotspots of the global fertility tourism market due to its competitive cost and high success rate.

  • Egg-freezing – It is an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored as a method to preserve reproductive potential in women of reproductive age.
  • Process - It involves the hyper stimulation of the ovaries with hormones, which leads them to release more than one egg per cycle.
  • The egg is then retrieved and flash-frozen unfertilised in a process called vitrification to minimise ice crystal formation, and stored in liquid nitrogen to preserve it until the donor wishes to opt for pregnancy.
  • When opted for pregnancy, the egg is then thawed, combined with sperm in an IVF (in-vitro fertilization) lab and the fertilized embryo transplanted into the uterus.
  • The process is also known by the name Oocyte Cryopreservation.

The Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR) has claimed that there is a 10-25% rise in egg-freezing procedures compared to the years before Covid-19.

  • Time Period - Under Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, eggs can be stored for up to 10 years, after which they are destroyed or donated for research.
  • Cost - 1 lakh to 5 lakh and it is almost 1/3rd of that in advanced economies causing India as a global fertility tourism market.

Quick Facts

Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) Test

  • The test measures the amount of AMH in a blood sample.
  • In males, AMH is made by the testicles (or testes), which are glands that make sperm and male hormones.
  • In females, the ovaries make AMH.
  • The ovaries are glands where eggs form and female hormones are made.

References

  1. The Indian Express – India’s egg-freezing boom
  2. India Today – Egg-freezing, a growing choice for young mums
  3. Times of India – Reshaping future fertility through egg freezing

Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8)

The India-Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) meeting was held recently on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue, 2024 in New Delhi.

  • NB8 - A regional framework consisting of 8 countries from the Northern Europe.
  • Members -
    • 5 Nordic Countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
    • 3 Baltic countries - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • Established in - 1992
  • Aim - To discuss important regional and international issues in an informal atmosphere.
  • Chair - In 2024, the NB8 is chaired by Sweden which was taken over from Latvia.
  • NB8 Wise Men Report - It is also known as Birkavs-Gade Report.
  • It provides concrete guidelines for promoting cooperation between the 8 countries.
  • e-PINE - Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE) was launched by the United States in 2003.

References

  1. Times of India | India-Nordic-Baltic Meet
  2. Republic of Estonia | Nordic-Baltic Cooperation (NB8)
  3. GCC | NB8 Cooperation

Buffalo fights & Bulbul fights

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have mounted a legal challenge against the practices of buffalo and bulbul fighting in the Gauhati High Court.

  • These fights are part of the folk culture associated with the Assamese winter harvest festival of Magh Bihu.
  • Moh Juj - It is a traditional buffalo fight organized in Assam.
  • Bulbuli - It is a traditional bird fight organized in Assam.

This traditional folk culture was recently organized in January 2024 after a 9 years ban.

Magh Bihu

  • Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu or Maghor Bihu, is a harvesting festival celebrated in Assam.
  • The festival has its roots in the agricultural traditions of Assam and falls in the month of Magh, which falls in January.
  • It marks the end of the harvesting season, and it is celebrated in other parts of the country such as Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Lohri.

Quick Facts

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

  • It is the largest animal rights organisation in the world.
  • PETA focuses its attention on 4 areas in which includes, in laboratories, in the food industry, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment business.
  • It also works on other issues, including the cruel killing of rodents, birds, and other animals.

References

  1. The Indian Express | PETA wants ban on Assamese traditions
  2. Times of India | After 9 years, buffalo, bulbul fights to return
  3. Aljazeera | Bird & buffalo fights back in India’s northeast
  4. Deccan Herald | PETA moves High Court to ban bulbul fight

100% FDI in Space Sector

Union Cabinet has recently approved the amendments which allowed 100% FDI in space sector.

Amendment -

Areas in Space

Automatic Route

Government Route

Satellite manufacturing and operation, satellite data products and ground/user segment

Up to 74%

Beyond 74%

Launch vehicles and associated systems or subsystems, and creation of spaceports for launching and receiving spacecraft

Up to 49%

Beyond 49%

Manufacturing of components and systems/sub-systems for satellites, ground segment and user segment.

Up to 100%

-

Benefits

  • India as an attractive destination for foreign investments.
  • Boost the participation of non-governmental entities (NGEs) in space research.
  • Indian space products can access the global pool of capital to expand manufacturing and production capacity.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

  • FDI - It is a type of cross-border investment in which an investor from one country establishes a lasting interest in an enterprise in another country.
  • FDI remains vital for bolstering domestic industry, stimulating growth, and enhancing global competitiveness.

Two types of investment routes

Investments under the Government route

Investments under the Automatic route

  • Prior to investment, approval from the Government of India is required.
  • It is permitted in sectors like defense & telecom (beyond 49%), mining (100%) and print media (26%).
  • It require no prior permission, resulting in minimal monitoring.
  • It only require the investor to inform the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after the investment is made.

References

  1. The Economic Times | Space companies shoot for the moon
  2. The Hindu | The next frontier: On India’s space sector
  3. The Hindu | 100% FDI to be allowed in space sector

Other Important News

Sepahijala Wildlife sanctuary

  • Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Tripura.
  • The sanctuary was established in 1972.
  • It is famous for its “Clouded Leopard enclosure” and Clouded Leopard National Park is a part of SWL.
  • It has 2 natural lakes, namely Abasarika and Amrit Sagar.

Kiru Hydel Project

  • The Kiru Hydroelectric Power Project is a run-of-river scheme on the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir to be completed in 2025.
  • It is being constructed between the existing Kirthai II and Kwar hydel power projects.
  • It will be developed near the convergence point of river Chenab and the Singad and Bela streams.

Gemma

Google has recently introduced Gemma, latest open artificial intelligence (AI) model.

  • Gemma is a family of open-source AI models developed by Google DeepMind.
  • Its name is derived from the Latin word ‘gemma,’ which translates to precious stone.
  • It has been built using the same research and technology used in Gemini models by Google.
  • Gemma is being offered in 2 model sizes, Gemma 2B and Gemma 7B, which have been released with pre-trained and instruction-tuned variants.

J0529-4351

Scientists has recently discovered the fastest-growing black hole known to date in the quasar named Jo529-4351.

  • The object was first detected using a 2.3-m telescope at the Australian National University.
  • The quasar is so far away from our planet that its light took more than 12 billion years to reach us.
  • Quasars are the known as the brightest objects in the sky thus J0529-4351 is over 500 trillion times more luminous than the Sun.

Spur-winged lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)

Recently, a birdwatching team from Telangana for the first time spotted a spur-winged lapwing near Warangal.

  • The spur-winged lapwing (Vanellus spinosus) is a wading bird in Charadriidae family, native to North Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.
  • It is abundant in tropical Africa and can be found at almost any wetland habitat in its range.
  • The spur-winged lapwing is a carnivore that eats insects, insect larvae, and small invertebrates.
  • Conservation status
    • IUCN- Least Concern.

Dosti-16

The 16thedition of the Dosti-16 exercise has been recently concluded with observers from Bangladesh.

  • Dosti-16 is a trilateral exercise between the coast guards of India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
  • The exercise aims to improve maritime interoperability, enhance cooperation, and strengthen friendship.
  • The exercise has been held every 2 years since 1991, except in 2021.

Cerrado savannah

  • The Cerrado is a tropical savanna ecoregion in South America.
  • It's the world's most biodiverse savanna, home to 5% of the planet's animals and plants.
  • The Cerrado covers mainly within Brazil and extending into parts of Bolivia and Paraguay.

U Tirot Sing

A statue of U Tirot Sing was unveiled recently at Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre, Dhaka.

  • Tirot Sing is a tribal chief known as ‘the Hero of the Khasi Hills' of Meghalaya against the British colonizers.
  • He was born in 1802 and died in Dhaka on July 17, 1835.
  • Every year on July 17, Meghalaya commemorates U Tirot Sing Day.

Skill India Centre in Odisha

Union Minister of Education and Skill Development inaugurated the 1st Skill India Centre (SIC) in, Odisha recently.

  • The SIC will play a pivotal role in designing curriculum along with industry experts to promote standardization and create employment opportunities across industries.
  • It aims to leverage modern technologies, gain technology-driven learning experiences and explore potential career avenues with renowned organizations.
  • The training process will be implemented by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

Special Tiger Protection Force

Arunachal Pradesh recently signs MoU with NTCA to raise first special tiger protection force.

  • It is the Arunachal’s 1st Special Tiger Protection Force (STPC) in order to revamp conservation efforts.
  • The special force would be deployed in the frontier state's 3 tiger reserves, Namdapha, Kamlang and Pakke.
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