PRELIMS’20 CA – 2

  • The presence of tigers in high altitude regions in India and Nepal has been reported. While India is home to the greatest number of tigers in the world, most of them are focussed in Central India and the Western Ghats. The latest tiger survey, made public earlier this year estimated 2,967 tigers all over India. Potential high-altitude tiger landscapes include the Valmiki-Chitwan-Annapurna (India-Nepal), Manas-Royal Manas-Jigme Dorji (India-Bhutan); Neora Valley-Torsa-Buxa-Phibsu (India-Bhutan); Askot-Pithoragarh-Nandhaur-Suklaphanta (India-Nepal); and Arunachal-Sikkim-bordering Bhutan (India-Bhutan).
  • Bathukamma, a nine-day flower festival, is a colourful floral festival of Telangana and is celebrated by womenfolk with exotic flowers of the region. The festival has over the years became a symbol of Telangana culture and identity. Bathukamma comes during the latter half of monsoon, before the onset of winter.
  • President’s Colours is the highest honour bestowed upon a regiment of the Indian Armed Forces in recognition of invaluable contributions to the security of the nation during peace and hostility. It was presented on the completion of 25 years of the Army Air Defence as an independent arm of the Army. Air Defence came into existence in 1940 as part of Corps of Artillery. In 1994 it was bifurcated from the Regiment of Artillery. Its troops had shown valour during World War II in various operations and won gallantry awards, namely four Military Crosses, one Medal of the British Empire, seven Indian Distinguished Service Medals and two Orders of the British Empire.
  • The government has planned to procure almost 12 lakh tonnes of apples directly from farmers under the special Market Intervention Price Scheme (MISP) with the help of the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). J&K contributes over 70% of the apple production in the country. Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) is a price support mechanism implemented on the request of State Governments for procurement of perishable and horticultural commodities in the event of a fall in market prices. The Scheme is implemented when there is at least 10% increase in production or 10% decrease in the ruling rates over the previous normal year. Market Intervention Scheme works in a similar fashion to Minimum Support Price based procurement mechanism for food grains, but is an adhoc mechanism. Proposal of MIS is approved on the specific request of State/Union Territory (UT) Government, if the State/UT Government is ready to bear 50% loss (25% in case of North-Eastern States), if any, incurred on its implementation. Further, the extent of total amount of loss shared is restricted to 25% of the total procurement value which includes cost of the commodity procured plus permitted overhead expenses. The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation is implementing the scheme. Under MIS, funds are not allocated to the States. Instead, central share of losses as per the guidelines of MIS is released to the State Governments/UTs, for which MIS has been approved, based on specific proposals received from them. Under the Scheme, in accordance with MIS guidelines, a pre-determined quantity at a fixed Market Intervention Price (MIP) is procured by NAFED as the Central agency and the agencies designated by the state government for a fixed period or till the prices are stabilized above the MIP whichever is earlier. The area of operation is restricted to the concerned state only.
  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) was established on the auspicious day of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October 1958. NAFED is registered under the Multi State Co-operative Societies Act. NAFED was setup with the object to promote Co-operative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers.
  • India’s second Scorpene-class submarine INS Khanderi that has superior stealth and other major combat capabilities has been commissioned. INS Khanderi, the second Scorpene-class submarine that can attack with torpedoes as well as tube-launched anti-ship missiles whilst underwater or on surface, has been built by the Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai. The state-of-the-art features of the Scorpene-class submarine include superior stealth and ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapon. The stealth features will give it an invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines. The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics. All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task force. It can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine, i.e anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance. The remaining four submarines in the Scorpene-class are — ‘Karanj’, ‘Vela’, ‘Vagir’ and ‘Vagsheer’. The first Scorpene-class submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned into the Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2017.
  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy. Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced air-independent propulsion systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range. All six submarines are expected to be constructed in Indian shipyards. The six Scorpene class conventional diesel-electric submarines are being built by Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL) in Mumbai with technology transfer from the Naval Group of France.
  • The Nilgiri-class frigate or Project 17A is a follow-on of the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate for the Indian Navy. A total of seven ships will be built at Mazagon Dock and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. The ships have been named after the first major warships to be built in India, which in turn were named after hill ranges in India. The Navy has planned to name the seventh ship in the P17A frigate series as ‘Mahendragiri’. The first of the seven frigates, christened ‘Nilgiri’, has recently been launched. Five more ships of the Nilgiri-class, an upgrade of Leander-class, were also named after other hill ranges of India. The six ships were built a few decades ago and have been decommissioned. These six ships were called — ‘Nilgiri’, ‘Himgiri’, ‘Udaygiri’, ‘Dunagiri, ‘Taragiri’ and ‘Vindhyagiri’.
  • An aircraft carrier drydock, housed within the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, was recently inaugurated which is capable of docking India’s largest ship, INS Vikramaditya, and has the ability to maintain ships for decades to come. The carrier dry dock is the largest dock of the Indian Navy measuring 281m in length, 45m in breadth and 17m in depth and is also the first Indian dry dock built into the sea, unlike the conventional docks built on land. It is capable of servicing the 44,500 tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and in the first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant under construction at Kochi.
  • Meghalaya is divided into autonomous councils in the names of the three major matrilineal communities — Garo, Khasi and Jaintia. The minority tribes include the Hajong, Koch, Rabha, Boro and Mann. Parts or the whole of the four northeastern States — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura — fall under the Sixth Schedule, which makes special provisions for “tribal areas”. The five minor tribes – Bodo-Kachari, Hajong, Koch, Mann and Rabha – are clubbed as “unrepresented tribes” for nomination in Meghalaya’s autonomous tribal councils. These councils are in the names of Garo, Jaintia and Khasi, the State’s three major matrilineal communities. The minority tribes in the region have been in news as a sub-committee constituted by the Meghalaya government had decided to recommend to the Standing Committee of Parliament the removal of the word “unrepresented tribes” from the amended Sixth Schedule. The minority tribes have resisted such a move of the removal of the term ‘unrepresented tribes’.
  • Scientists have captured a view of a colossal black hole violently ripping apart a star, illustrating an extraordinary and chaotic cosmic event from beginning to end for the first-time using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS. The view revealed the detailed timeline of a star 375 million light-years away warping and spiralling into the unrelenting gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole. The star, roughly the same size as the sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic occurrence that astronomers call a tidal disruption event. A tidal disruption event (also known as a tidal disruption flare) is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when a star approaches sufficiently close to a supermassive black hole that it is pulled apart by the black hole’s tidal force. Such phenomena happen when a star ventures too close to a supermassive black hole, objects that reside at the centre of most large galaxies including the Milky Way. The black hole’s tremendous gravitational forces tear the star to shreds, with some of its material tossed into space and the rest plunging into the black hole, forming a disk of hot, bright gas as it is swallowed. Observing the oscillation of light as the black hole gobbles the star and spews stellar material in an outward spiral could help astronomers understand the behaviour of black holes.
  • At about 1.5 lakh people, the Galos are one of the 26 major communities of Arunachal Pradesh. The Galos belong to the Tani group inhabiting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, besides Tibet. Unlike the Mising (Assam), Adi, Apatani, Nyishi and Tagin, the other communities, only the Galos maintain genealogy through given names.
  • The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and UNICEF between February 2016 and October 2018 is the first study undertaken to measure malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies through biochemical measures such as blood and urine samples, anthropometric data as well as details of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and kidney function in children and adolescents. When compared with CNNS, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) collects anthropometric data (weight for age, height for age, weight for height, mid-upper arm circumference) to measure prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight and household dietary intake to measure deficiencies mainly for the 0-5 years bracket. The main objective of the CNNS was to collect nationally representative data on the nutritional status of pre-schoolers (0–4 years), school-age children (5–9 years) and adolescents (10–19 years) through interviews, comprehensive set of anthropometric measures and biochemical indicators.
  • Kerala and Rajasthan have emerged as States with the best quality of school education in the country, with scores of 76.6% and 72.9% respectively, in the recently released NITI Aayog’s rankings. The Union Territory of Chandigarh had even better performance overall with a score of over 80%. Reflecting the huge differences in quality across the country, Uttar Pradesh scored the lowest among 20 large States, with just 36.4%, although the small State of Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep had even lower scores. The School Education Quality Index (SEQI) is part of the NITI Aayog’s effort to rank the performance of States in across various indicators, including water, health and the ease of doing business, to encourage data-driven policy reforms. The first edition of the SEQI assessed the States on the basis of learning outcomes, access, equity, infrastructure and facilities, and the governance processes which aid such outcomes. The Index is largely based on data from the National Achievement Survey (NAS) of 2017-18 and the Unified District Information on School Education data of 2016-17.
  • To assess the learning levels of the students in Classes 3, 5 and 8 National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) conducted the National Achievement Survey (NAS) on 13thFebruary, 2017 in which approximately 22 lakh children across the country participated.  NAS at the elementary level was based on the Learning Outcomes developed by the NCERT. The design and implementation of the survey included in its ambit the school leaders, teachers and the whole network of officials at the Cluster, Block, District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and the Directorates of Education in the different States/ UTs. NCERT similarly conducted NAS for class 10 on February 05, 2018.
  • Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) (Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development), initiated in 2012-13, integrated DISE for elementary education and SEMIS for secondary education and is one of the largest Management Information Systems on School Education covering more than 1.5 million schools, 8.5 million teachers and 250 million children. UDISE+ (UDISE plus) is an updated and improved version of UDISE. The entire system will be online and will gradually move towards collecting data in real time. Data from 2018-19 will be collected through this software. It will improve the quality and credibility of the data provided thereby making it analysis more robust and accurate . With the introduction of this system it will be easier for the States and UTs to monitor the progress of the schools and to reduce the time taken in data collection and analysis.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides regular assessment of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations. The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. The IPCC currently has 195 members. The IPCC is divided into three Working Groups and a Task Force. Working Group I deals with The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change, Working Group II with Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability and Working Group III with Mitigation of Climate Change. Since 1988 the IPCC has produced five comprehensive Assessment Reports and several Special Reports on specific topics. The IPCC is currently in its Sixth Assessment cycle.
  • The Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders in August 2019, ranked India 140 out of 180 countries. In 2018, India was ranked 138th.
  • To open a bank account, the rules mandate proof of current address. Customers have to submit any of the six officially valid documents in proof of their address. The six documents are voter ID, passport, driving licence, letter issued by the National Population Register, NREGA job cards and Aadhaar.
  • Meghalaya has almost 10% of India’s limestone (a key ingredient in cement manufacturing) reserves. Cement manufacturing companies in Meghalaya rely largely on coal, also mined in the State, for fuel.
  • New monsoon models, called the Monsoon Mission Coupled Forecast Model (CFS), deployed by the Indian Meteorological Department over the last decade don’t do better than the older ones in long-range forecasting. The Climate Forecast System or coupled forecast system (both names abbreviated CFS) is a medium to long range numerical weather prediction and a climate model run by the United States National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to bridge weather and climate timescales. The NCEP Climate Forecast System is a state-of-the-art coupled climate model and it has been implemented to the Prithvi High Performance Computer (HPC) at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune with support from the Monsoon Mission Project of Ministry of Earth Science, Govt. of India. The newer models were developed as part of a ₹1200 crore ‘Monsoon mission’ that has been underway for over a decade and were meant to improve both short term and long term forecasts.
  • The India Meteorological Department is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
  • The National Moonsoon Mission was has launched by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The Ministry has bestowed the responsibility of execution and coordination of this mission to Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune. The project has a budget of around Rs. 1200 crores. As part of the mission, IMD will collaborate with weather research organisations nationally as well as internationally to improve monsoon forecast for the country. The mission’s focus is on developing a dynamic model for monsoon prediction.

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