- The Bandipur Tiger Reserve is flanked by the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala and the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. It is home to nearly 570 tigers. These tigers share the forest with elephants, dholes, leopards and other mammals, making the tiger reserve an ecological hotspot. By mid-December, the deciduous forests of Bandipur get filled with dry Lantana camara — an invasive weed that covers almost 50% of the 912.04 sq km reserve. Lantana camara, is a weed native to South America and is being touted as the primary cause for the quick spread of the fire that bought severe devastation to the Bandipur National Park as it acted as a fuel to the fire. In the Bandipur National Park, an estimated 60% is affected by Lantana, which hinders the growth of native vegetation that herbivores such as deer and elephants feed on. Further, its fruit is toxic to animals.
- A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court recently referred the Ayodhya dispute for mediation in a bid to heal minds and hearts. The five-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, appointed a panel of mediators, comprising former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla as chairman, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Sriram Panchu, a senior advocate with experience in alternative dispute resolution.
- In a step to boost activities of white label automated (WLA) teller machine operators, the RBI has allowed such entities to buy wholesale cash, above a threshold of 1 lakh pieces of any denomination, directly from the RBI and currency chests against full payment. WLAs are also allowed to source cash from scheduled banks, including cooperative banks and regional rural banks. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) set up, owned and operated by non-bank entities are called “White Label ATMs” (WLAs). They provide the banking services to the customers of banks in India, based on the cards (debit/credit/prepaid) issued by banks.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code provides for an appeal (from the NCLT) to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal and then to the Supreme Court.
- The Rajinder Sachar Committee Report is a high level committee report to examine the socio-economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India. It was constituted in the year 2005.
- Elections (2019) to the 17th Lok Sabha will be conducted in seven phases across the country from April 11 to May 19. The Model Code of Conduct came into effect immediately on the announcement of the schedule. Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha will be conducted simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in these respective States. Elections in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will be held in a maximum seven phases. As on January 1, about 900 million people were eligible to vote, as per the electoral rolls, compared to 814.5 million in 2014. Over 15 million fall in the 18-19 years age group. There are more than 10.35 lakh polling stations. The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, a total of 17.4 lakh units, will be used for the first time at all the stations. The standard operating procedure for the security of EVMs and VVPATs had been revised to ensure that their end-to-end movement was monitored through GPS-fitted transport vehicles.
- Cloud seeding uses planes to spray clouds with chemicals to condense smaller particles into larger rain droplets. The chemicals used are – sodium chloride, potassium chloride and silver iodide.
- For the first time in the arecanut sector, ‘Sirsi Supari’ grown in Uttara Kannada has received the Geographic Indication (GI) tag. It is cultivated in Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi taluks. The particular arecanut “is medium in size, somewhat flat and rounded in shape, somewhat ash coloured, and has a hard seed. The arecanut grown in these taluks have unique features like a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, size, cross-sectional views, taste, etc. These features are not seen in arecanut grown in any other regions.
- ‘Pinaka’ is an indigenously developed guided rocket system.
- Thakurani Jatra festival is a famous biennial festival in Odisha. It begins with the hoisting of the holy mast or ‘shubha khunti’.
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