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UPSC Daily Current Affairs | Prelim Bits 21-01-2021

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January 21, 2021

IRFC Initial Public Offer

  • An initial public offering (IPO) refers to the process of offering shares of a private corporation to the public in a new stock issuance.
  • Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) is the first IPO of 2021 and the first public issue by a railway non-banking financial company.
  • Through the IPO, the Centre (promoter of the IRFC) will offload 13.6% stake in the company.
  • This will bring the promoter shareholding to 86.4% post-issue.
  • As a dedicated finance arm of Indian Railways, IRFC remains a low-risk model with no non-performing asset with a return on equity of 11-12%

Indian Railway Finance Corporation

  • Set up in 1986, IRFC is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways.
  • It is registered as Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC- ND-SI) and Infrastructure Finance Company (NBFC- IFC) with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • It is the dedicated market borrowing arm of the Indian Railways that mobilizes funds from domestic as well as overseas Capital Markets.

Joint Venture Protective Carbine

  • It is a Gas Operated Semi Bull-pup automatic weapon, which will replace the 9 mm carbine currently in use by the armed forces.
  • It is jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
  • It has more than 700 rpm rate of fire and the effective range of the carbine is more than 100 m.
  • It weighs about 3.0 kg with key features like high reliability, low recoil, retractable Butt, ergonomic design, single hand firing capability, and multiple Picatinny rails etc.
  • These features make it a very potent weapon for Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism operations by security agencies.


  • Asmi (means pride, self respect and hard work) is India’s first indigenously developed 9-mm machine pistol.
  • [Machine pistols are primarily self-loading versions of pistols which are either fully automatic or can also fire bursts of bullets.]
  • Asmi is jointly developed by ARDE and Indian Army’s Infantry School.
  • It has an upper receiver made from aircraft-grade aluminum and lower receiver from carbon fibre.
  • The 3D printing technology has been used in designing and prototyping of the pistol, including trigger components made by metal 3D printing.
  • The weapon has huge potential in armed forces as a personal weapon for heavy weapon detachments, commanders, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations etc.

Bankapur Wolf Sanctuary

  • Karnataka State Wildlife Board approved the formation of the first-ever ‘Wolf Sanctuary’ in the drylands of Bankapur of Koppal district.
  • The region around Bankapur is interspersed with rocky hillocks and thorny vegetation.
  • Besides Indian Grey wolves, the area can also help in the conservation of striped hyena, golden jackal, Indian fox and other fauna.

Indian Grey Wolf

  • It is a subspecies of grey wolf that inhabits semi-arid and arid areas.
  • It inhabits the dry grassland regions of Deccan Plateau in pockets and prey on blackbucks and other herbivores.
  • It lacks the luxuriant winter coat as it lives in warmer conditions.
  • It has a wide distribution range that extends from Southwest Asia to the Indian Subcontinent.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature Status - Least Concern
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 - Schedule I Part I.

World’s Oldest Cave Painting

  • The world’s oldest known cave painting was discovered in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge of Indonesia.
  • The painting made using red ochre pigment depicts a wild boar endemic to the Sulawesi island of Indonesia.
  • The painting of the Sulawesi warty pig seems to be the world’s oldest surviving representational image of an animal.
  • It was dated using a method called U-series isotope analysis.
  • This analysis uses calcium carbonate deposits, also called ‘cave popcorn’, that form naturally on the cave wall surface to determine its age.
  • It is dated that the minimum age of the painting to be around 45,500 years, which means the painting was made before this.

Ratle Hydro Power Project

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the investment to the Ratle Hydro Electric Project.
  • The investment will be made by a new Joint Venture Company (JVC).
  • This JVC will be incorporated between National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd. with equity contribution of 51% and 49% respectively.
  • Ratle Hydro Electric Project is located on river Chenab in Kishtwar district of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Power generated from the Project will help in providing balancing of Grid and will improve the power supply position. 

WWF Report

  • WWF said that more than 43 million hectares of forest have been lost in a little over a decade in just a handful of deforestation hotspots.
  • It found that just 29 sites across South America, Africa and South East Asia were responsible for more than half of the global forest loss.
  • Swathes of forest continue to be flattened each year (mainly due to industrial-scale agriculture) as biodiversity-rich areas are cleared to create space for livestock and crops.
  • Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado, Bolivian Amazon, Paraguay, Argentina, Madagascar, along with Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia were among the worst affected.
  • As wild species find their living space shrinking further each year, the risk of a repeat of zoonotic diseases jumping to humans is ever higher.
  • The report urged citizens to do their bit by avoiding products linked to deforestation such as some meat, soy and palm oil products.
  • It also urged governments to work to secure the rights of indigenous peoples and conserve biodiversity-rich areas.


Source: PIB, Deccan Herald, The Hindu, Phys, The Indian Express

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