125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Why in News?
- The Centre has planned a grand year-long programme to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, starting January 23 2021.
- The High-Level Committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will decide on activities, approve policies and plans and supervise the commemoration programme.
- The committee will have 85 members, including union ministers, members of Parliament from Bengal, a few chief ministers, historians, and other distinguished citizens.
- The year-long commemoration activities will take place in Delhi, Kolkata and other places associated with Netaji and Indian National Army, both in India as well as overseas.
- The Centre has also appointed members of Netaji’s family on the committee.
- Eminent persons associated with Subhas Chandra Bose’ Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj are also on the committee. This includes the chairman of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose INA Trust, Brig (Rtd) RS Chhikara.
- Recently, the West Bengal government too unveiled mega plans to commemorate Netaji’s memory all through the year. This will include a grand parade in Kolkata on January 23, his 125th birthday anniversary and an Independence Day parade dedicated to him.
2nd National Youth Parliament Festival
Why in News?
- Prime Minister will address the valedictory function of the second National Youth Parliament Festival on 12th January 2021.
National Youth Parliament Festival
- The objective of the National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) is to hear the voice of youth between 18 and 25 years of age, who are allowed to vote and will join various careers in coming years, including public services.
- NYPF is based on the idea given by the Prime Minister in his Mann Ki Baat Address on 31st December 2017.
- Taking inspiration from the idea, the first NYPF was organised from 12 January to 27 February 2019 with the theme “Be the Voice of New India and Find solutions and Contribute to Policy”.
National Youth Festival
- National Youth Festival is celebrated every year from 12th to 16th January.
- 12th January being the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, is observed as National Youth Day.
- This year, NYPF is also being organized along with the National Youth Festival.
- To bring youth of the country together to showcase their talents; provide them an arena, by creating a mini-India, where youth interact in formal and informal settings and exchange their social and cultural uniqueness.
- It is also to promote national integration, spirit of communal harmony, brotherhood, courage and adventure.
- The basic aim is to propagate the spirit, essence and concept of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
- ‘YUVAAH – Utsah Naye Bharat Ka’ is the theme of this year’s festival, which suggests, the youth bring alive the celebration of New India.
- The opening ceremony of the 24th National Youth Festival and the closing ceremony of 2nd National Youth Parliament Festival will both take place on 12th January, 2021 in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Landing Gear Systems for UAVs
Why in News?
- Retractable landing gear systems for unmanned aerial vehicles, indigenously built by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), a unit of the DRDO, were handed over to the Navy.
- The CVRDE, engaged in design and development of armoured vehicles and combat systems, designed and built the three tonne Retractable Landing Gear Systems for TAPAS Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and a one tonne landing gear system to the SWiFT UAV.
Education of Migrant Children
Why in News?
- Ministry of Education had issued guidelines for identification, admission and continued education of migrant children.
- In order to ensure that school going children have access to education with quality and equity and to minimize the impact of the pandemic on school education across the country, the Ministry of Education has prepared and issued detailed guidelines on steps to be taken by the States and UTs during school closure and when the school re-open.
The main features of the Guidelines are:
- Continued Education for Out of School Children (OoSC) and Children with Special Needs (CWSN)
- Continuation of non-residential training for identified Out of School children through volunteers, local teachers and community participation.
- Continuation of home based education for CWSN children through Volunteers/ Special Educators.
- Identifying Out of School Children
- States and UTs to carry out proper identification of OoSC for 6 to 18 years age group through a comprehensive door to door survey and prepare action plan for their enrolment.
- Enrolment Drives and Awareness Generation
- Enrolment drives may be undertaken at the beginning of academic year such as Praveshotsav, School Chalo Abhiyan etc.
- Undertake awareness generation among parents and community for enrolling and attendance of children.
- Student Support while Schools are closed
- Students to be provided support including counseling, large scale awareness & targeted home visits.
- Using Manodarpan web portal and tele-counseling number for counseling services and psycho-social support.
- Distribution of educational material and resources, supplementary graded material, workshops, worksheets etc to support home-based education.
- Exploring option of classroom on wheels and classes in small groups at village level.
- Increasing the access of children to online/digital resources, TV Radio etc. to reduce learning loss.
- Ensuring easy and timely access to the provisions of uniforms, textbooks and MDM.
- Timely disbursement of stipend to enrolled CWSN girls through DBT.
- Strengthening of Child protection mechanism at local level.
- Student Support on School Reopening
- Preparation and running of School readiness modules/Bridge course for initial period when the schools re-open so that they can adjust to the school environment and do not feel stressed or left-out.
- Identification of students across different grades based on their learning levels.
- Relaxing detention norms to prevent drop out this year.
- Ensuring reading with comprehension and numeracy skills by encouraging children to read books beyond syllabus and creative writing & problem solving.
- Large-scale remedial programmes/Learning Enhancement programmes to mitigate learning loss and inequality.
- Teacher Capacity Building
- Effective utilization of the online NISHTHA training modules and online training module for Corona responsive behavior to be launched on DIKSHA portal soon.
- Use of alternative Academic Calendar prepared by NCERT for joyful engagement of children in learning.
High Speed Rail work
Why in News?
- With the start of LiDAR (Aerial Ground) Survey, High Speed Rail work gathered momentum for Delhi – Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor.
- The LiDAR survey for Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor started from Greater NOIDA where a Helicopter fitted with state of art Aerial LiDAR and Imagery sensors took the first flight and captured the data related to ground survey.
- National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited is adopting Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technology which provides all the ground details and data in 3-4 months wherein this process normally takes 10-12 months.
- The ground survey is a crucial activity for any linear infrastructure project as the survey provides accurate details of areas around the alignment. This technique uses a combination of Laser data, GPS data, flight parameters and actual photographs to give accurate survey data.
Delhi – Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor (DVHSR)
- The proposed plan for DVHSR Corridor will connect the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi with major cities like Mathura, Agra, Etawah, Lucknow, Raebareli, Prayagraj, Bhadohi, Varanasi and Ayodhya.
- The main corridor from Delhi to Varanasi (Approx. 800 km) will also be connected to Ayodhya.
- The High Speed Rail (HSR) route will also connect the upcoming international airport at Jewar in Gautam Buddha Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh.
“One Nation, One Election”
What experts views on this?
- Soli Sorabjee, a former Attorney General of India, said: “I think simultaneous elections… to my mind is a good practice. The fact that it was abused in some cases is no reason of doing away with it… just check the abuse, not delay the provision.
- Former Lok Sabha secretary-general Subhash C. Kashyap, who had contributed to the Law Commission’s 2018 draft report on simultaneous elections, said there had been many committees and seminars on the need for concurrent elections. He added that the opposition to the idea was usually political as regional parties feared dilution of local issues with national ones.
- Jethmalani, a senior advocate, “summed up the issue passionately in favour of one election by calling it ‘one people, one poll’.” The concept of simultaneous elections was not new to the country and did not call for “radical change”.
What is it & Why in News?
- Arunachal Pradesh, considered a sleeping hydropower giant, could be India’s prime producer of vanadium, a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium.
- Exploration being carried out by Geological Survey of India (GSI) has placed the eastern Himalayan State on the vanadium map of the country.
Vanadium in India
- India is a significant consumer of vanadum but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal.
- It is recovered as a by-product from the slag collected from the processing of vanadiferous magnetite ores (iron ore).
- According to data provided by GSI, India consumed 4% of about 84,000 metric tonnes of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.
- China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium, consumed 44% of the metal.
Where it is found?
- Found promising concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in the Depo and Tamang areas of Arunachal Pradesh’s Papum Pare district.
- This was the first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India with an average grade of 0.76% V2O5 (vanadium pentoxide).
- Vanadium mineralisation in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the “stone coal” vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale.
- This high vanadium content is associated with graphite with fixed carbon content of up to 16%.
- The largest deposits are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa.
- Vanadium in its pure form is a soft, grey and ductile element primarily derived from mined iron ore, carbonaceous shale or phyllites and steel slag.
- Vanadium alloys are durable in extreme temperature and environments, and are corrosion-resistant. Its addition improves the tensile strength of steel and of reinforcing bars used for buildings, tunnels and bridges.
- Apart from increasing fuel-efficiency in automotive and aviation industries due to its high strength-to-weight ratio, the metal forms the integral part of vanadium redox batteries that have the least ecological impact in energy storage.
Why Crocodiles Haven’t Much Evolved?
Why in News?
- The crocodiles of today look very similar to those that lived during the Jurassic period some 200 million years ago.
- Though lizards and birds have evolved and diversified into many thousands of species, crocodiles have only a few species – just 25.
- Scientists explain how a particular pattern of evolution known as the ‘stop–start’ pattern and certain environmental changes could explain why crocodiles haven’t changed much.
- The scientists explain that crocodiles have a very slow rate of evolution.
- The team used a machine-learning algorithm to estimate the rates of evolution.
- The crocodiles landed upon a lifestyle that was versatile enough to adapt to the enormous environmental changes that have taken place since the dinosaurs were around.
- The team is also working to identify why some types of prehistoric crocodiles died out, while others didn’t.
Why in News?
- On June 6, 2017, residents of Mukundpura village near Jaipur saw a bright trail in the sky followed by a thunderous sound. They spotted a burning object with a sulphur smell on the soft agricultural land.
- The meteorite named Mukundpura CM2 was classified to be a carbonaceous chondrite.
- This is a type of stony meteorite, considered the most primitive meteorite and a remnant of the first solid bodies to accrete in the solar system. The composition of carbonaceous chondrites are also similar to the Sun
- Meteorites are broadly classified into three groups – stony (silicate-rich), iron (Fe–Ni alloy), and stony-iron (mixed silicate–iron alloy).
- Chondrites are silicate-droplet-bearing meteorites, and this Mukundpura chondrite is the fifth carbonaceous meteorite known to fall in India.
Degrees of alteration
- Mukundpura CM2 had experienced varying degrees of alteration during the impact.
- Some minerals like forsterite and FeO olivine, calcium aluminium rich inclusion (CAI) minerals escaped alteration.
- Few magnetites, sulphides and calcites were also found.
- Detailed spectroscopic studies revealed that the meteorite had very high (about 90%) phyllosilicate minerals comprising both magnesium and iron. Further X-ray studies showed it also had aluminium complexes.
Relevance to asteroids
- Results of the Mukundpura CM2 study are relevant to the surface composition of near-Earth asteroids Ryugu and Bennu.
- In October 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission collected samples from Bennu and is expected to return in September 2023. Last month, Japan’s Hayabusa-2 mission landed on Earth with samples from Ryugu.
- Infrared spectroscopy results suggest that spectral properties of the surface of these asteroids are consistent with CM carbonaceous meteorites.
- Therefore, a better understanding of the nature and evolution of such meteorites that have been aqueously altered will help considerably in the interpretation of results of these missions.
Early solar system
- Meteorites are representative of asteroids.
- Asteroids are the remnant debris of the inner solar system formation process and thus offer the formation history or the building blocks of the planets.
- Therefore, by studying meteorites in the laboratory and asteroids by exploration and sample return mission we try to reconstruct the activity of early solar system events.
- Also, asteroids are often rich in volatiles and other minerals and can be exploited for future planetary exploration.
New Species of Fruit Fly
Why in News?
- A new species of fruit fly discovered from Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu is named after Siruvani, an ecological hotspot in the Western Ghats.
- The fruit fly ‘Euphranta siruvani’ belonging to family Tephritidae was identified by researchers from a non-forest area near Siruvani.
- 104 known species from genus Euphranta are distributed across the world, of which 14 are found in India.
- This fruit fly is differentiated from the other species of Euphranta by the presence of a ‘V’ shaped black band on the wing and prominent subapical band connected to the apical black patch.
- It lays eggs in fruits and the larvae feed on the pulp.
- Apart from the fruit fly, also discovered a new fairyfly species from Siruvani area.
- The species ‘Omyomymar hayati’ from the family of Mymaridae is named after Prof. Mohammad Hayat, Aligarh Muslim University, for his contributions to the taxonomy of Indian Chalcidoidea.
- The fairyfly feeds on eggs laid by plant feeders such as hoppers.
Dwarf Giraffes in Namibia, Uganda
Why in News?
- Being tall is the giraffe’s competitive advantage, giving it the pick of leaves from the tallest trees, so scientists were stunned to find two giraffe dwarves on different sides of Africa.
- Most giraffes grow to 15 to 20 feet (4.5m to 6m), but in 2018, scientists discovered an eight-and-a-half-foot (2.6m) giraffe in Namibia.
- Three years earlier, they had also found a 9-foot 3-inch (2.8m) giraffe in a Ugandan wildlife park.
- In both cases, the giraffes had the standard long necks but short, stumpy legs.
- Skeletal dysplasia, the medical name for the condition, affects humans and domesticated animals, but it was rare to see in wild animals.
- Numbers of the world’s tallest mammal have declined by some 40% over the past 30 years to around 1,11,000, so all four species are classified by conservationists as “vulnerable”.
- It’s because of mostly habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, growing human populations, more land being cultivated, combined with a little bit of poaching, climate change.
Acute Brain Dysfunction
Why in News?
- COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care in the early months of the pandemic experienced a higher burden of delirium and coma than is typically found in those hospitalised with acute respiratory failure, according to the study.
- The choice of sedative medications and curbs on family visitation played a role in increasing acute brain dysfunction for these patients.
- ICU delirium is associated with higher medical costs and greater risk of death and long-term ICU-related dementia.
- Acute brain dysfunction lasted for an average of 12 days. This is double what is seen in non-COVID ICU patients.
- Patient care factors, some of which are related to pressures posed on health care by the pandemic, also appear to have played a significant role.
Gross Value Added (GVA) for 2020-21
Why in News?
- The 7.2% fall in gross value added (GVA) for 2020-21, as per the National Statistical Office’s first advance estimates released recently, would be the sharpest ever recorded in India.
- There have been four earlier occasions when the country’s GVA — which is GDP net of all taxes and subsidies on products and, hence, a more accurate measure of economic activity — has suffered contraction.
- The extent of negative growth in those years — 1979-80 (minus 5.2%), 1972-73 (minus 0.3%), 1965-66 (minus 3.7%) and 1957-58 (minus 1.2%) — was lower than the 7.2% being projected for the current fiscal.
- In each of those four previous years, the primary culprit was agriculture.
- All four were drought years — and the farm sector (agriculture, forestry and fishing) registered minus 12.8% growth in 1979-80, minus 5% in 1972-73, minus 11% in 1965-66 and minus 4.5% in 1957-58.
Different this time
- While overall GVA is expected to shrink 7.2%, agriculture and allied activities are set to post 3.4% growth.
- Far from being a drag, ‘Bharat’ kept ‘India’ going during the worst phase of Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown.
- If the farm sector not grown at all, the GVA decline would have worked out to 7.7%, not 7.2%.
- Incidentally, in 2019-20 as well, agricultural growth at 4% surpassed the 3.9% for the economy as a whole.
- Agriculture’s relatively better performance in the last two years is largely a result of consecutive years of good monsoon (and also post-monsoon) rains.
- Recharged groundwater tables and reservoirs getting filled to near capacity — besides farming operations being exempted from lockdown restrictions — led to increase in crop acreages and higher production.
Share in economy
- If Bharat’s doing well hasn’t prevented the worst economic slump since independence, the reason is simple.
- In 1979-80, agriculture’s share in India’s GDP at constant prices was 33.9%; in 1957-58, it was 48.2%. A drought year in those times invariably translated into low/negative growth rates.
- It is different today. The share of agriculture in real GVA was only 14.6% in 2019-20. That is estimated to go up to 16.3% this fiscal, but not enough to make a different even in a bountiful monsoon year.
MSP for crops
Why in News?
- While the Centre has been claiming that making Minimum Support Price (MSP) legal for all crops will put a burden of Rs 17 lakh crore on the government exchequer annually, there are economists and experts who are not buying this argument.
- The MSP of 23 crops is determined by the Commission for Agriculture Cost and Price (CACP) every year, but only a few crops including wheat and paddy are procured on MSP and the rest are purchased by private players.
- Along with cancellation of the three farm laws, making MSP legal for all crops is another major demand of the farmers protesting at the Delhi border.
Now, the question is how this Rs 17 lakh crore figure is being calculated?
- Government has calculated this figure on the basis of the total production and MSP declared by the Centre for 23 crops, which includes
- Seven cereals (wheat, paddy, maize, barley, jowar, bajra and ragi),
- Seven oilseeds (mustard, groundnut, rapeseed, soyabean, sunflower, sesame, and niger seed),
- Five pulses (moong, arhar, urad, chana and masoor) and
- Four commercial crops (cotton, sugarcane, raw jute and copra) every year.
- These 23 crops cover over 80 per cent of India’s total agricultural produce.
- Currently, there is no legal value of the MSP declared by CACP, which is not a statutory body set up by the Act of Parliament, nor is government bound to purchase all the crops on the declared MSP.
- Wheat and paddy are the two crops mostly procured on MSP and that too from Punjab, Haryana, MP, parts of UP and other states by the Centre to distribute it under Public Distribution System (PDS).
- Making MSP legal does not mean that government has to procure everything as government’s presence in the market will help stabilise the market price if farmers get too low prices for their crop in the open market against the declared MSP, which is calculated only to decide a benchmark for a crop.
- In Punjab where wheat and paddy is procured on MSP, private players also give good prices for both crops to farmers, even a little more than the government because they know that only if they offer a little extra will farmers sell to them.
- Otherwise farmers have the option to sell to the government.
- However, this is not the case in Bihar where farmers are at the mercy of only private players and the government’s intervention is negligible due to repeal of APMC Act there in 2006.
- So, the government’s presence always helps in keeping a check on the rates of the crop.
A Missing Supermassive Black Hole
Why in News?
- A supermassive black hole, which is estimated to weigh up to 100 billion times the mass of the Sun, is seemingly missing, leaving astronomers perplexed.
- Scientists have been looking for the black hole using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, and have so far found no evidence that it is anywhere to be found.
The ‘missing’ black hole
- The black hole is supposed to be located in Abell 2261, an enormous galaxy cluster that is about 2.7 billion light-years away from our planet.
- One light-year is the distance that a beam of light travels in one Earth year, which is 9 trillion km. On the scale of the Universe, astronomers measure the distance from stars and galaxies in the time it takes for light to reach us. So, when we look at a celestial object, we are looking at how it appeared that long ago in the past.
So, what could have happened?
- Every large galaxy in the universe has a supermassive black hole at its centre, whose mass is millions or billions of times that of the Sun, according to NASA.
- The black hole at the centre of our galaxy– the Milky Way– is called Sagittarius A, and is 26,000 light-years away from Earth.
- Scientists have been using data gathered in 1999 and 2004 to look for the centre of the Abell galaxy, but have so far been unable to find its black hole.
- A reason for this is that Abell’s black hole has been ejected from the centre of the galaxy.
- The researchers, who have based their reasoning on 2018 data from NASA’s Chandra Observatory, posit that this may have happened because of the merging of two smaller galaxies to form Abell– a process in which both of their black holes merged to form an even bigger black hole.
‘Recoiling’ black holes
- When two black holes merge, they release what are known as gravitational waves– invisible ripples travelling at the speed of light, which squeeze and stretch anything in their path.
- As per the theory of gravitational waves, during such a merger, when the amount of waves generated in one direction is stronger than another, the new big black hole can be sent away from the centre of the galaxy into the opposite direction. This is known as a “recoiling” black hole.
- Should the hypothesis by the Michigan researchers turn out to be true, it would mean a major breakthrough in astronomy.