9th April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
Issue: At least four kingfisher species are thriving in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, adding beauty to the precious eco-region in India.
The Forest Department team has stumbled upon them across the KWL during its field visits as a part of the fauna survey that is in progress. The species have been identified as White-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), Black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileate) and the Common kingfisher.
Kingfishers or Alcedinidae are a family of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution. The family contains 114 species and is divided into three subfamilies and 19 genera. All kingfishers have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. Most species have bright plumage with only small differences between the sexes. Most species are tropical in distribution, and a slight majority is found only in forests. They consume a wide range of prey usually caught by swooping down from a perch. While kingfishers are usually thought to live near rivers and eat fish, many species live away from water and eat small invertebrates. Like other members of their order, they nest in cavities, usually tunnels dug into the natural or artificial banks in the ground. Some kingfishers nest in arboreal termite nests. A few species, principally insular forms, are threatened with extinction.
‘Proto historic settlement’
(GS1: Ancient Indian history)
Issue: Minute bone and crystal drills of less than 2 cm size used for making beads, different varieties of beads of semi-precious stone, bone points as well as a large number of microlithic tools have been unearthed by archaeologists of the University of Calcutta during a recent excavation at Asuralay village in West Bengal’s Birbhum district.
The initial estimate tells that the settlement could date to the second millennium BC (about 3500 years from the present times).
A large amount of black and red ware pottery (BRW), which signifies a proto historic level of human occupation in different parts of India, has also been found at the site in large quantities.
There is evidence of high temperature burning and charcoal deposits at the mud floor of this mono-cultural site . The cultural deposit, varies from 60 cm to 1.2 metres, at various levels of the 7,700 sq.m excavation site.
River Manikarnaka which now flows as a moribund tunnel very close to the site must have played a crucial role in the settlement.
About Proto-historic period in India
It has not been defined clearly and its period has also differed from country to country. But generally it has been accepted that it is that part of history about which we have found no written record in any form. In India, we have accepted that this period of history began when the people here started producing cereals.
Remnants of a civilization have been found at different places in Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and nearby places which prove that prior to Harappa or Indus valley civilization, there existed a village-civilization at these places as far back as 7000 B.C. As no written evidence is available concerning this civilization, it constitutes the earliest part of proto-history of India.
But, there are certain other scholars who have maintained that as Vedic-texts are the sources of knowing the history of the Vedic age, therefore the Vedic-age also is not a part of proto-history in India. They, therefore, have opined that the history prior to the Vedic age only should be included in the proto-history of India. This view has been accepted by the majority of scholars. Therefore, the Indus valley or the Harappa-civilization has also been accepted as a part of proto-history. Certainly, signs of a script have been found on different seals discovered at different sites of Harappa-civilization but it has not been deciphered so far. Therefore, Harappa-civilization has been considered a part of proto-history of India.
‘Syrian chemical attack’
(GS3: Human rights)
Issue: A chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta has killed dozens of people, medical services reported, and Washington said the reports — if confirmed — would demand an immediate international response.
A joint statement by the medical relief organisation Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defence service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said 49 people had died in the attack late on Saturday. Others put the toll at 150 or more.
About Syrian civil war
The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought primarily between the government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with its allies, and various forces opposing both the government and each other in varying constellations.
The unrest in Syria, part of a wider wave of 2011 Arab Spring protests, grew out of discontent with the Assad government and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for his removal were violently suppressed. The war is being fought by several factions: the Syrian government and its international allies, a loose alliance of Sunni Arab rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Salafi jihadist groups (including al-Nusra Front) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with a number of countries in the region and beyond being either directly involved, or rendering support to one or another faction.
Iran, Russia and Hezbollah support the Syrian government militarily, with Russia conducting air operations in support of the government since September 2015. On the other hand, the U.S.-led international coalition established in 2014 with a declared purpose of countering ISIL, have conducted airstrikes against ISIL in Syria as well as against government and pro-government targets.
International organizations have accused the Syrian government, ISIL and rebel groups of severe human rights violations and of many massacres. The conflict has caused a major refugee crisis. Over the course of the war a number of peace initiatives have been launched, including the March 2017 Geneva peace talks on Syria led by the United Nations, but fighting continues.
‘Gold coast 2018 Commonwealth games’
(Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
- In the 10m men’s air pistol event, India’s Jitu Rai won gold. This is his second Commonwealth gold.
- In the women’s table tennis event, the Indian team won its first ever Commonwealth gold medal.
- In 10m women’s air pistol, Manu Bhaker won gold and added sixth gold for India at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
- Weightlifter Punam Yadav became the third woman to win gold for India, coming out on top in the women’s 69 kg category at the CWG 2018.
- Weightlifter Venkat Rahul Ragala became the fourth Indian to claim a gold medal in the men’s 85 kg category
- Weightlifter Satish Kumar Sivalingam won India’s third gold in the men’s 77kg category
- Weightlifter Sanjita Chanu landed India its second gold medal, winning the top spot in the women’s 53kg category
- Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu was the first gold medal winner for India, on the opening day, in the women’s 48 kg category
- India’s Mehuli Ghosh won silver in the 10m women’s air rifle event.
- In the 10m men’s air pistol event Om Mitharval won silver.
- In the 105 category weightlifting for men, Pradeep Singh won the silver.
- In 10m women’s air pistol, Heena Sidhu won the silver and added second silver for India at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
- Weightlifter P Gururaja opened India’s medal account on the first competition day, claiming a silver in the men’s 56kg category.
- India’s Apurvi Chandela won bronze in the 10m women’s air rifle event.
- One more medal for weightlifting, Vikas Thakur added a shade of bronze to Indian weightlifters’ golden run at the Commonwealth Games, claiming the third position in the 94kg category by equalling his personal best.
- Ravi Kumar settles for bronze in men’s 10m air rifle event at 21st Commonwealth Games.
- Teenager Deepak Lather from Haryana became the youngest Indian weightlifter to claim a Commonwealth Games medal, clinching a bronze in the men’s 69kg category.
Issue: The RemoveDebris satellite is carrying a number of different devices designed to help clear the huge amount of debris orbiting the earth. A European satellite launched this week to try out ways of tackling the growing amount of garbage in space will use technology as familiar to the ancient Romans as astronauts — nets and harpoons.
About the satellite
The RemoveDebris satellite is carrying a number of different devices designed to help clear the huge amount of debris orbiting the earth. It has already docked with the International Space Station and the tests are expected to begin in the next few weeks. One of the harpoons is around 30cm (one foot) long, and is designed to fire at a target on an arm around 20 metres (65ft) away, before reeling it back in on a rope. Scientists estimate as much as 7,000 tonnes of junk is orbiting the earth at speeds of up to 27,000km/h (17,000mph) and it is capable of damaging satellites or spacecraft.
‘Parker solar probe’
Issue: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe — humanity’s first mission to the Sun — is undergoing final preparations for its launch scheduled for July 31.
About the probe
Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first mission to the Sun. After launch, it will orbit directly through the solar atmosphere – the corona – closer to the surface than any human-made object has ever gone.
While facing brutal heat and radiation, the mission will reveal fundamental science behind what drives the solar wind, the constant outpouring of material from the Sun that shapes planetary atmospheres and affects space weather near Earth.
Parker Solar Probe will be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Throughout its seven-year mission, Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer decades-old questions about the physics of stars.
(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: In order to prevent pollution and facilitate the healthy atmosphere in the families of poor people Pradhan MantriUjjwalaYojana was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago said Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development, Dharmendra Pradhan.
About the scheme
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on May 1st, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. Under this scheme, 5 Cr LPG connections will be provided to BPL families with a support of Rs.1600 per connection in the next 3 years. Ensuring women’s empowerment, especially in rural India, the connections will be issued in the name of women of the households. Rs. 8000 Cr. has been allocated towards the implementation of the scheme. Identification of the BPL families will be done through Socio Economic Caste Census Data.
PMUY is likely to result in an additional employment of around 1 Lakh and provide business opportunity of at least Rs. 10,000 Cr. over the next 3 Years to the Indian Industry. Launch of this scheme will also provide a great boost to the ‘Make in India’ campaign as all the manufacturers of cylinders, gas stoves, regulators, and gas hose are domestic.
The launch of PMUY in Ballia was followed by launch of the scheme in Dahod in Gujarat by Petroleum Minister Shri Dharmendra Pradhan & BJP President Shri Amit Shah. PMUY has also been launched in several districts in UP & Bihar.
(GS3: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Novartis AG agreed to acquire AveXis Inc. for $8.7 billion to expand its position in gene therapy with a treatment for a rare disease that afflicts infants.
About Gene therapy
In the medicine field, gene therapy (also called human gene transfer) is the therapeutic delivery of nucleic acid into a patient’s cells as a drug to treat disease. The first attempt at modifying human DNA was performed in 1980 by Martin Cline, but the first successful nuclear gene transfer in humans, approved by the National Institutes of Health, was performed in May 1989. The first therapeutic use of gene transfer as well as the first direct insertion of human DNA into the nuclear genome was performed by French Anderson in a trial starting in September 1990.
Between 1989 and February 2016, over 2,300 clinical trials had been conducted, more than half of them in phase I.
Not all medical procedures that introduce alterations to a patient’s genetic makeup can be considered gene therapy. Bone marrow transplantation and organ transplants in general have been found to introduce foreign DNA into patients. Gene therapy is defined by the precision of the procedure and the intention of direct therapeutic effects.
(Facts that can be asked in prelims)
Issue: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition won the general elections in Hungary on Sunday, with 49.42 per cent of the vote, at 81 per cent of the votes counted by the National Election office.
About the geographical location of Hungary
With a land area of 93,028 square km, Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It measures about 250 km from north to south and 524 km from east to west. It has 2,106 km of boundaries, shared with Austria to the west, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the south and southwest, Romania to the southeast, Ukraine to the northeast, and Slovakia to the north.
Hungary’s modern borders were first established after World War I when, by the terms of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, it lost more than 71% of what had formerly been the Kingdom of Hungary, 58.5% of its population, and 32% of the Hungarians.