Daily Prelims Notes 19 March 2023
- March 19, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims notes
19 March 2023
Table Of Contents
- Africa’s splitting plates could give birth to a new ocean
- Habitat preservation in the Western Ghats can help enhance biodiversity in the hotspot
- Kashmir’s spring sunshine blows the cobwebs away
- Modi and Hasina open 131.5km oil pipeline to Bangladesh
- Samudrayaan Mission: India set to dive to explore marine biodiversity
- Eklavya schools
- Net neutrality debate
- Panel to look into Rajasthani as second official language
- WHO accuses China of withholding COVID data – GISAID
- C-Veda project
- Magellan spacecraft records volcanic activity on Venus
- Srinagar gears up for tourism meet
- PM Gati Shakti: 156 critical infra gap projects identified
1. Africa’s splitting plates could give birth to a new ocean
Section: Physical Geography
Context: The emergence of a new coastline is on the horizon, but not without its consequences. Scientists, in 2020, predicted a new ocean would be created as Africa gradually splits into two separate parts.
More on the News:
- The division of the continent is connected to the East African Rift, a crack that stretches 56 kilometres and appeared in the desert of Ethiopia in 2005, triggering the formation of a new sea.
- The geological process will inevitably divide the continent, resulting in currently landlocked countries, such as Uganda and Zambia, obtaining their own coastlines in due time, which would take five to 10 million years.
- The necessary evacuation of people and the potential loss of lives will be an unfortunate cost of this natural phenomenon.
- However, on the upside, the emergence of new coastlines will unlock a myriad of opportunities for economic growth. The countries will have access to new ports for trade, as well as fishing grounds and sub-sea internet infrastructure, which will undoubtedly transform their economic potential.
- The three plates — the Nubian African Plate, Somalian African Plate and Arabian Plate — are separating at different speeds. The Arabian Plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of about an inch per year, while the two African plates are separating even slower, between half an inch to 0.2 inches per year.
- Somali and Nubian tectonic plates continue to pull apart from each other, a smaller continent will be created from the rift, which will include present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.
- The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will eventually flood into the Afar region in Ethiopia and the East African Rift Valley, leading to the formation of a new ocean.
- The new ocean will result in East Africa becoming a separate small continent with its own unique geographic and ecological characteristics.
Great Rift Valley
- The Great Rift Valley is a massive geological formation that stretches around 6,400 kilometers from northern Syria to central Mozambique in East Africa.
- The valley is home to the Jordan River, which flows through the Jordan Valley and eventually empties into the Dead Sea on the border between Israel and Jordan.
- The Gulf of Aden is an eastward continuation of the Rift, and from there it extends southeastward as part of the mid-oceanic ridge of the Indian Ocean.
- In eastern Africa, the valley divides into the Eastern Rift and the Western Rift. The Western Rift, also known as the Albertine Rift, contains some of the deepest lakes in the world.
- Rifting refers to the process of the Earth’s crust and lithosphere being pulled apart, resulting in the formation of a rift valley or basin. This process can occur at divergent plate boundaries, where two tectonic plates move away from each other, or within a continent, where tensional forces can cause the crust to stretch and thin.
- In the case of divergent plate boundaries, rifting is often associated with the formation of mid-ocean ridges, where new oceanic crust is created as magma rises up from the mantle and solidifies. As the plates move apart, the distance between the ridges increases and the ocean basin widens.
- Within a continent, rifting can lead to the formation of a rift valley or basin, which may eventually become a new ocean basin if the rift continues to widen and eventually splits the continent in two. The East African Rift Valley is one example of an active rift zone that is currently in the process of pulling apart the African continent.
- Rifting can have a significant impact on the Earth’s surface, leading to earthquakes, volcanic activity, and the creation of new landforms. It is also an important geological process in the formation and evolution of the Earth’s crust and lithosphere.
- One example of an active rift zone is the East African Rift Valley, which stretches over 6,000 km from Syria in the north to Mozambique in the south. This region is undergoing active rifting and is characterized by volcanoes, hot springs, and seismic activity.
2. Habitat preservation in the Western Ghats can help enhance biodiversity in the hotspot
Section: Physical Geography
Context: In one of the first studies on rock dwelling fauna, published in January 2023, a group of scientists found that even species that can adjust to extremely variable climates on lateritic plateau habitats are vulnerable to changes to land-use pattern, such as agroforestry and paddy cultivation.
More on the News:
- The Western Ghats of India are broadly divided into three subdivisions — the northern, central and southern — separated by the Goa gap and the Palghat gap respectively.
- Due to their climatic stability and terrain ruggedness, they are a museum and cradle of species diversity. Over the years, a series of studies on a range of habitats in the Western Ghats have shown how drought, rainfall and elevation, influence evolutionary processes and play an important role in shaping this rich diversity.
- Habitats classified as wastelands are vulnerable to land-use change which reduces the area of suitable habitat for the amphibian and reptile species found here, negatively impacting their diversity and abundance.
- In the study, which is currently a preprint that needs to be certified by peer review, researchers from the Nature Conservation Foundation, Bombay Environmental Action Group, and Reliance Foundation compared the prevalence of two endemic herpetofauna in the northern Western Ghats — Seshachari’s caecilian (Gegeneophisseshachari) and white-striped viper gecko (Hemidactylus albofasciatus) — with a commonly found snake, the saw-scaled viper (Echiscarinatus), as well as the composition of other rock-dwelling animals across undisturbed plateau sites, agroforestry plantation sites and abandoned paddies on plateaus. They found that the responses of species to land-use change were context specific.
- The conversion of lateritic plateaus to agroforestry plantations and paddy negatively impacted the threatened and endemic reptile H. albofasciatus and the generalist snake E. carinatus. But interestingly, G. seshachari, an endemic amphibian that occurs in forests and plateaus, was more prevalent in the abandoned paddy than in less-disturbed plateaus and orchards in the Western Ghats.
- The study found that seasonal flooding in the Western Ghats diversified the ecologically important Myristicaceae family of which Myristica fragrans, commonly known as jaiphal (nutmeg), is also economically important as a source of local livelihood.
- Another study found seasonal flooding brought in unique morphological and physiological adaptations, like aerial roots in the species occurring across two main habitat types mainly seasonally flooded habitats such as riparian and swamps, and non-flooded habitats such as upland evergreen and semi-evergreen forest.
- Habitat preservation and restoration is vital to conserve and enhance biodiversity, which in turn can boost the various ecosystem services they provide.
- Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula.
- It is also known as the Sahyadri Range and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- The range covers an area of about 160,000 square kilometers and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.
- The Western Ghats are also important for their ecological services. The region is a major source of freshwater for the surrounding areas, and the forests help regulate the local climate by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
- Biodiversity: The Western Ghats are one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biodiversity in the world. The region has a high degree of endemism, with many plant and animal species found only in the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats are home to several threatened and endangered species, including the lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiritahr, and the Malabar civet.
- Hill ranges: The Western Ghats are a chain of hill ranges that run parallel to the western coast of India, stretching for over 1,600 km from the state of Gujarat to Tamil Nadu. The highest peak in the Western Ghats is Anamudi in Kerala, which rises to a height of 2,695 meters. The mountains have an average elevation of 1600 – 2500m.
- Dodabetta is the highest peak of Nilgiris
- Anamudi is the highest peak of Annamalai and South India.
- Agastimalai is the highest peak of Cardamom hills.
- Rivers: The Western Ghats are the source of many important rivers in India, including the Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery. These rivers are a lifeline for millions of people living in the surrounding areas, providing water for irrigation, drinking, and other uses.
- Landforms: The Western Ghats have a unique topography, characterized by steep escarpments, deep valleys, and high plateaus. The region is also home to several important geological formations, including the Deccan Traps, a vast volcanic plateau.
- Climate: The Western Ghats have a humid tropical climate, with heavy rainfall during the monsoon season (June-September). The region’s forests play an important role in regulating the local climate and reducing the impact of natural disasters like floods and landslides.
- Forests: The Western Ghats are covered with dense tropical and subtropical forests that are home to a variety of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, leopards, and many endemic bird species. The forests also play an important role in regulating the region’s climate and water resources.
- Cultural Heritage: The Western Ghats have a rich cultural heritage, with many ancient temples, forts, and other historical sites scattered throughout the region. The Western Ghats have been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous communities and other ethnic groups, each with their own unique culture and traditions.
- The Western Ghats face several threats, including deforestation, habitat destruction, and fragmentation due to agricultural expansion, mining, and infrastructure development. Climate change is also a growing threat, with rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns affecting the region’s biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- To address these challenges, conservation efforts have been initiated by various organizations and government agencies. The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), a high-level committee appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, has recommended measures to protect the region’s biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Myristica swamps are a unique type of wetland ecosystem found in the Western Ghats region of India. Here are some of the unique features of Myristica swamps:
- High biodiversity: Myristica swamps are known for their high levels of biodiversity and are home to many rare and endemic plant and animal species. Some of the endemic species found in Myristica swamps include the Myristica dactyloides tree and the Myristica malabarica shrub.
- Myristica trees: Myristica swamps are named after the Myristica trees that dominate the ecosystem. These trees are known for their aromatic seeds, which are used to make nutmeg and mace.
- Waterlogging: Myristica swamps are characterized by waterlogged soils that are often saturated with water. The waterlogging creates a unique environment that supports the growth of unique plant species.
- Low nutrient levels: The waterlogged soils in Myristica swamps have low nutrient levels, which limits the types of plants that can grow there. This creates a specialized habitat for plants that are adapted to the low nutrient levels.
- Soils: The soils in these swamps are typically composed of organic matter, and are often acidic and nutrient-poor.
- Threats: Myristica swamps are threatened by deforestation, agricultural expansion, and other human activities. Many species that are unique to these swamps are endangered or at risk of extinction. Protecting these ecosystems is important for preserving the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the Western Ghats region.
3. Kashmir’s spring sunshine blows the cobwebs away
Subject :Science and Technology
Context: Seasonal affective disorder is common in Srinagar, a city riddled with the twin realities of a harsh winter and terrorism, but with spring, a lot changes.
More on the News:
- As spring breaks, psychiatrists in Kashmir are able to help their patients who are battling seasonal affective disorder (SAD) brought on by the harsh whiteness of winter and decreased sunlight, along with conflict-induced depression, transition out of antidepressant medication.
- Around 45% of Kashmir’s adult population (1.8 million) suffers from some form of mental distress, according to a study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry, Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital (JLNMH), Srinagar, in 2020. It also found that there was a high prevalence of trauma (47%), depression (41%), anxiety (26%), and post-traumatic stress disorder (19%).
- Spring emerges as a significant factor in addressing the physiological aspects of depression.
Seasonal affective disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset, in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, commonly but not always in the wintertime, with reduced sunlight.
- Common symptoms include sleeping too much, having little to no energy, and overeating. The condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety.
- It is no longer classified as a unique mood disorder, but is now a specifier, called “with seasonal pattern”, for recurrent major depressive disorder that occurs at a specific time of the year, and fully remits otherwise. Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder.
- With seasonal pattern is a specifier for bipolar and related disorders, including bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. Most people with SAD experience major depressive disorder, but as many as 20% may have a bipolar disorder. It is important to distinguish between diagnoses because there are important treatment differences.
- The winter months in Kashmir are characterized by shorter days and longer nights, which can lead to a lack of natural sunlight and increased risk of SAD.
- According to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2019, the prevalence of SAD in Kashmir was found to be higher than in other parts of India. The study found that nearly 28% of the study participants met the criteria for SAD, and that the prevalence was higher among women than men.
4. Modi and Hasina open 131.5km oil pipeline to Bangladesh
Subject : Geography
Section: Indian Physical Geography
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Saturday virtually inaugurated the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline that will bring diesel from Assam’s Numaligarh refinery’s marketing depot in Siliguri to Parbatipur in northern Bangladesh.
- The 57-km-long pipeline will bring diesel from a marketing depot in Siliguri to Dinajpur of Bangladesh. Ms. Hasina and Mr. Modi had inaugurated the works for laying the pipeline in September 2018.
Issue of Teesta River
- Welcoming the initiative, Ms. Hasina thanked Mr. Modi and the Chief Minister of Assam, HimantaBiswa Sarma, but skipped any mention of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
- The omission is being interpreted as a sign of Bangladesh’s unhappiness regarding the planned construction of hydel power projects in West Bengal that may divert the waters of the Teesta river and have been in the middle of a stalled negotiation for more than a decade.
About Teesta River
- Teesta river is a major right bank tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
- It originates in the Himalayas near the Tso Lhamo Lake, in Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
- Pahurni glacier, Khangse glacier and ChhoLhamo Lake are also considered the sources of the Teesta River.
- River basin Distribution: The major portion of the river basin lies in India and only 17% of it is in Bangladesh.
- The river joins the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh before it flows into the Bay of Bengal after meeting with the Ganges and the Meghna.
- Two major large barrages constructed on Teesta –
- Gajoldoba in West Bengal, India
- Duani in Bangladesh.
Major Tributaries of Teesta River :
- Left-bank Tributaries: LachungChhu, ChakungChhu, DikChhu, Rani Khola and RangpoChhu.
- Right-bank Tributaries: ZemuChhu, RangyongChhu and Rangit River.
5. Samudrayaan Mission: India set to dive to explore marine biodiversity
- In order to explore the potential of the seabed, the National Institute of Ocean Technology’s (NIOT) MATSYA 6000 will dive 6,000-meter into the Indian Ocean under the Samudrayaan mission.
Samudrayaan Mission (India’s Deep Ocean Mission)
- Samudrayaan, or the journey into the sea, is a mission launched in 2021 to unlock the mysteries of the deep ocean for mineral resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.
- A sub-component of India’s Deep-Sea Mission, the Samudrayaan mission aimed at supporting the Blue Economy initiatives of the Indian government by developing niche technology, vehicles to carry out subsea activities.
- The MoES is the nodal ministry to implement this multi-institutional ambitious mission.
- The estimated cost of the mission will be Rs 4077 crore for a period of 5 years to be implemented in a phase-wise manner – cost for the first phase (2021-2024) would be Rs 2823.4 crore.
- Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (Pune) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will actively participate in this mission.
- It was conceptualised based on the forthcoming Gaganyaan mission – ISRO’s attempt at a crewed mission into space – expected in late 2024 or 2025.
- It is a manned submersible vehicle developed by NIOT under the Samudrayaan mission to facilitate humans in the deep ocean in exploring mineral resources like Nickel, Cobalt, Rare Earths, Manganese, etc.
- Expected to be launched in 2024-25, it would make India only one among six countries (US, Russia, Japan, France, and China) to have piloted a crewed under-sea expedition beyond 5,000 metres.
- MATSYA-6000 is a spherical, titanium hull (made by ISRO) equipped with life-support, capable of floating underwater and collecting soil and rock samples from the seabed with attached robotic arms.
- Three navigators, over a fortnight and about 1,500 km away from Kanyakumari will undertake multiple trips – each lasting about 12 hours (descent and ascent will be 8 hours and rest is exploration, surveying and scientific activity).
- At a depth of 6,000 metres, the weight of water would be nearly 600 times that at sea level which makes the pressurised hull the most important component of the submersible.
- About 60% of the submersible was manufactured in India. Components such as cameras, sensors, and communication systems were bought from international vendors.
- Over the years, NIOT has consulted with crewed-submersible experts from several countries – Japan, Russia, France and the know-how to ensure a safe ascent and descent.
National Institute of Ocean Technology
- Established in 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), NIOT is based in Chennai.
- The major aim of starting NIOT was to develop reliable indigenous technologies to solve various engineering problems associated with harvesting of non-living and living resources in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
- India’s seabed and the relevant zones with economic potential are not deeper than 6,000 metres.
- India’s energy needs and increasing competition to harness ocean resources are the key thrust for the Samudrayaan mission.
- The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has allocated about 75,0000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) to conduct exploratory mining (of polymetallic nodules).
- Note :Just this month the UN passed the High Seas treaty (India too has committed to this) that seeks to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030.
- As the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs looks to finalise the recruitment rules for hiring over 38,000 teachers and support staff for 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools across the country, the jobs of around 4,000 teachers are hanging by a thread — teachers who are already working at nearly 400 of these schools.
About Eklavya Model Residential Schools
- Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to ST children in remote areas.
- The schools focus not only on academic education but on the all-round development of the students.
- The objective of EMRS is to provide quality middle and high level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas, not only to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and as jobs in government and public and private sectors but also to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non ST population.
- Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII.
- The EMR School follows the CBSE curriculum.
- These are being set up by grants provided under Article 275(1) of the Constitution.
- Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) are funded by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
- In order to give further impetus to EMRS, it has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS.
- Eklavya schools are on par with NavodayaVidyalaya and have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.
Subject : Science and technology
Section: Awareness of it and computers
- Since November 2022, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents major telecom operators in India, has been demanding that platforms such as YouTube and WhatsApp pay a share of revenue to make up for the network costs.
- In an immediate response to this demand, the Broadband India Forum (BIF), which represents Internet firms such as Meta and Google, wrote a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) rebutting the COAI’s demands.
- This has reignited the debate around Net Neutrality.
Different Stakeholders in Internet Space
- Consumers of any internet service,
- Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) or Internet Service Providers (ISPs),
- Over-the-top (OTT) service providers (those who provide internet access services such as websites and applications), and
- Government, who may regulate and define relationships between these players.
- The principle of net neutrality states that internet users should be able to access all content on the internet without being discriminated by TSPs.
- This means that –
- All websites or applications should be treated equally by TSPs,
- All applications should be allowed to be accessed at the same internet speed, and
- All applications should be accessible for the same cost.
- Net neutrality argues that the internet should be accessible to everyone and requires all ISPs to provide the same level of data access and speed to all traffic.
- Traffic to one service or website cannot be blocked or degraded.
What will happen if there is no Net Neutrality?
- If there no net neutrality, ISPs will have the power (and inclination) to shape internet traffic so that they can derive extra benefit from it.
- For example, several ISPs believe that they should be allowed to charge companies for services like YouTube and Netflix because these services consume more bandwidth compared to a normal website.
- Basically, these ISPs want a share in the money that YouTube or Netflix make.
- Without net neutrality, the internet as we know it will not exist. Instead of free access, there could be package plans for consumers.
- For example, if you pay Rs 500, you will only be able to access websites based in India. To access international websites, you may have to pay a more.
- Or maybe there can be different connection speed for different type of content, depending on how much you are paying for the service and what add-on package you have bought.
- Instead of an open and free internet, without net neutrality, we are likely to get a web that has silos in it and to enter each silo, you will have to pay some “tax” to ISPs.
Regulation of Net Neutrality
- Until now, net neutrality has not directly been regulated in India by any law or policy framework. Earlier, in 2016, the TRAI had ruled in favour of net neutrality.
- However, despite lack of formal rules, ISPs in India mostly adhere to the principal of net neutrality.
- There have been some incidents where Indian ISPs have ignored net neutrality but these are few and far between.
- Internationally, countries like the USA, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Norway, etc. have some form of law, order or regulatory framework in place that affects net neutrality.
- The US Federal Communications Commission (telecom regulator in the USA) released new internet rules in March 2015, which mainly disallow blocking, throttling or slowing down, and paid prioritisation of certain applications over others.
- While the UK does not allow blocking or throttling of OTT services, it allows price discrimination.
8. Panel to look into Rajasthani as second official language
Subject : Polity
- On March 16, 2023, Education Minister of Rajasthan, Dr. B.D. Kalla said in the assembly that the Minister of State for Languages has approved the formation of a committee in connection with declaring Rajasthani language as the second official language of Rajasthan.
- Kalla said that on August 25, 2003, a resolution was unanimously passed by all the members of the State Legislative Assembly regarding recognition of Rajasthani language and its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
- The Central Government has been urged from time to time to include Rajasthani language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
- In this regard, requests have been made to the Central Government by the Chief Ministers in the years 2009, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2023. He told that at present the matter is under consideration at the level of the Government of India.
- The education minister said that it has come to the notice of the state government that different languages have been made official languages in different states.
- At present, the Rajasthan Official Languages Act-1956 is in force in the state. The matter is being examined for amendment in the said Act to include Rajasthani language in the official language.
- He said that Mahapatra Committee has also considered Rajasthani language eligible to be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Dr. Kalla said that in this regard, the members of the party and the opposition should unite and request the Prime Minister.
Official Language of the State
- The Indian Constitution does not specify the official language of different states.
- The State legislature may adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the state or Hindi as the official language of that state. Until that is done, English is to continue as the official language of that state.
- The choice of the state to adopt state official language is not limited to the languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- The Official Languages Act (1963) lies down that English should be used for purposes of communication between the Union and the non-Hindi states.
- When the President (on a demand being made) is satisfied that a significant proportion of the population of a state prefers the use of any language spoken by them to be recognised by that state, then he may direct that such language shall also be officially recognised in that state.
- This provision aims at protecting the linguistic interests of minorities in the states.
9. WHO accuses China of withholding COVID data – GISAID
Subject :International Relations
Section: International Organization
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised China for withholding data related to samples taken at a market in Wuhan in 2020 that could have provided vital information about the Covid-19 pandemic’s origins.
- It further called on Beijing to be transparent and to share results of investigations it conducts.
- The global health agency was made aware of data published on the GISAID database in late January, and taken down again recently.
Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID)
- The GISAID platform was launched on the occasion of the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008.
- GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source for genomic data of influenza viruses and and the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.
- Headquarters: Munich, Germany
- In 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany became the official host of the GISAID platform and its database (named EpiFlu) providing sustainability of the platform and stability through its public-private-partnership with the GISAID Initiative to this day.
- In 2013 the European Commission recognized GISAID as a research organization and partner in the PREDEMICS consortium, a project on the Preparedness, Prediction and the Prevention of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses with Pandemic Potential using multidisciplinary approaches.
- Key role:
- The Initiative ensures that open access to data in GISAID is provided free-of-charge to all individuals that agreed to identify themselves and agreed to uphold the GISAID sharing mechanism governed through its Database Access Agreement.
Subject : Science and technology
- The journey from childhood to adulthood is uneven: some mental attributes surface faster than others, some are more pronounced in girls, and poverty and trauma have an outsized influence on cognitive development, says one of the largest studies of its kind, spanning nearly 9,000 children and young adults from India.
About C-Veda Project
- The Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions (c-VEDA) is jointly funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the Newton Grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC), United Kingdom.
- The Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions (cVEDA), based in India, aims to examine environmental influences on genomic variations, neurodevelopmental trajectories and vulnerability to psychopathology, with a focus on externalizing disorders.
- The cVEDA has established the largest neurodevelopmental database in India, comparable to global datasets, with detailed environmental characterization.
- This should permit identification of environmental and genetic vulnerabilities to psychopathology within a developmental framework.
- Neuroimaging and neuropsychological data from this study are already yielding insights on brain growth and maturation patterns.
- 10,000 individuals between 6 and 23 years of age, of all genders, representing five geographically, ethnically, and socio-culturally distinct regions in India, and exposures to variations in early life adversity have been assessed using age-appropriate instruments to capture socio-demographic information, temperament, environmental exposures, parenting, psychiatric morbidity, and neuropsychological functioning.
- All data and biological samples are maintained in a databank and biobank, respectively.
11. Magellan spacecraft records volcanic activity on Venus
Subject: Science and Technology
Section: Space technology
- Recently, NASA Magellan spacecraft captured images of Venus’ surface from different orbits. A few locations, including those suspected to have volcanic activity, were observed two or three times over two years.
Findings of the Magellan spacecraft
- A 2 square kilometre volcanic vent on Venus changed shape in eight months, indicating volcanic activity.
- It showed signs of drained lava, hinting at activity and eight months later, radar images indicated that the same vent had doubled in size and the lava lake seemed to have reached the rim.
- The vent is associated with Maat Mons, Venus’s second-highest volcano.
- It sits in the Atla Regio, a vast highland region near Venus’ equator. These changes were likely due to lava flow escaping the vent, hinting at a possible volcanic activity.
Magellan spacecraft Mission
- NASA’s Magellan mission to Venus was one of the most successful deep space missions.
- It was the first spacecraft to image the entire surface of Venus and made several discoveries about the planet it was launched on May 4, 1989.
- It is the second closest planet to the sun and the sixth-largest planet in the solar system. It is also known as earth’s twin.
- It is the hottest planet in the solar system and its extreme temperatures (450o C) and acidic clouds make it an unlikely place for life.
- Along with Uranus it spins backwards with respect to other planets i.e. Its sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
- Along with Mercury it has no moons and no rings.
Upcoming Expeditions to Venus
- The Indian Space Research Organisation is also working on Shukrayaan-1 to study Venus. The orbiter will likely study the planet’s geological and volcanic activity, emissions on the ground, wind speed, cloud cover, and other planetary characteristics from an elliptical orbit
- The new study will help to identify target areas for future missions such as Europe’s Envision that is scheduled to launch in 2032.
- Two missions are being planned to Venus that are NASA’s VERITAS and DAVINCI are expected to observe venus in the 2030s.
12. Srinagar gears up for tourism meet
Subject: International relations
Section: International Organization
Context: Srinagar, the summer capital of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is all set to host a working group meeting of tourism delegates from the G20 nations in the last week of May. It will be interesting to see how Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the G20 grouping, respond to the invitation
- The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states.
- It is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
- It was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on the 25th of September 1969.
- Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
- India is not a member of the OIC. However, India was invited as a guest of honour at 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Minister in 2019. 2019 is the 50th anniversary of OIC.
13. PM Gati Shakti: 156 critical infra gap projects identified
PM Gati Shakti
- “PM Gati Shakti — National Master Plan” for infrastructure development aims at boosting multimodal connectivity and driving down logistics costs.
- PM Gati Shakti is a digital platform that connects 16 ministries — including Roads and Highways, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Gas, Power, Telecom, Shipping, and Aviation — with a view to ensuring holistic planning and execution of infrastructure projects.
- The portal will offer 200 layers of geospatial data, including on existing infrastructure such as roads, highways, railways, and toll plazas, as well as geographic information about forests, rivers and district boundaries to aid in planning and obtaining clearances.
- The portal will also allow various government departments to track, in real time and at one centralised place, the progress of various projects, especially those with multi-sectoral and multi-regional impact.
- The objective is to ensure that each and every department now have visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning and execution of projects in a comprehensive manner.
- Through this, different departments will be able to prioritise their projects through cross–sectoral interactions.
- The government expects the platform to enable various government departments to synchronise their efforts into a multi-modal network.
- It will also offer satellite imagery for monitoring of projects.
- It is also expected to help state governments give commitments to investors regarding timeframes for the creation of infrastructure.
- The portal would help states avoid both cost and time overruns, and allow them to provide the benefit of valuable infrastructure to their residents sooner.
Network Planning Group
- Infrastructure projects, entailing investment of over₹500 crore, would now route through the network planning group (NPG) constituted under the PM Gati Shakti initiative with the Finance Ministry issuing the necessary instructions and creation of the national masterplan digital platform.
- NPG consists of heads of the network planning wing of respective infrastructure ministries and it will assist the empowered group of secretaries (EGOS), which is headed by the cabinet secretary. EGOS consists of secretaries of 18 ministries as members and Head of Logistics Division, under the DPIIT, as member convener.
- The PM Gati Shakti plan was announced last year with an aim to break departmental silos and bring in more holistic and integrated planning and execution of projects with a view to addressing the issues of multi-modal and last-mile connectivity.
How will this impact coordination between ministries for projects?
- Currently, any inter-ministerial issues that arise relating to a project are addressed in regular meetings of infrastructure-related ministries. These issues are raised in advance, and then taken up.
- Goyal said that through the PM PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) portal, many issues were resolved even prior to such meetings.
- He said the Gati Shakti portal would help reduce the human intervention required as ministries will be in constant touch, and projects will be reviewed by the project monitoring group in real time.
- The portal will also highlight all the clearances any new project would need, based on its location — and allow stakeholders to apply for these clearances from the relevant authority directly on the portal.