Daily Prelims Notes 24 September 2023
- September 24, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
24 September 2023
Table Of Contents
- Hoysala temples on UNESCO heritage list
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lord Ganesh Festival
- How the Sikh migration to Canada began
- Xinjiang Province
- What are the reasons for the rise in global debt?
- Tamil Nadu and Kerala may join hands to count endangered Nilgiri tahr
- Kaobal Gali-Mushkoh Valley, the battlefield of Kargil war, opens up for tourists
- DNA nanoball strategy, a low-cost technology
- Richness of human milk
- Department of Fisheries is promoting Artificial Reef (AR) under PMMSY for rejuvenating coastal fisheries
- ‘Veerangana Durgavati Tiger Reserve’ becomes Madhya Pradesh’s 7th protected habitat for big cats
- As OSIRIS-REx Returns to Earth from Asteroid Bennu
- Draft patent amendment rules undermine pre-grant opposition
- Origin of carbon dioxide on Europa’s surface found
Section: Art and Culture
Context: The Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebidu and Somanathapur in Karnataka were officially inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Features of Hoysala Temple:
- The Hoysala dynasty ruled over much of South India for close to 200 years and during this time they built spectacular temples; both Hindu as well as Jain.
- The Hoysala temples are known for evolving a distinct style that is ornate with temple architecture following a stellate plan built on a raised platform.
- The material used in temple construction is chloritic schist which is also known as soapstone that is soft and amiable to carving.
- An abundance of figure sculpture covers almost all the Hoysala temples.
- The garbhagriha (sanctum-sanctorum) houses a centrally placed murti (enshrined icon) on a pitha (pedestal).
- The shikhara (superstructure), rises over the garbhagriha and together with the sanctum they form the vimana (or mulaprasada) of a temple.
- A ribbed stone, amalaka, is placed atop the shikhara with a kalash at its finial.
- An intermediate antarala (vestibule) joins the garbhagriha to an expansive pillared mandapa (porch) in front, chiefly facing east (or north).
- The temple may be approached via entrances with gigantic gopurams (ornate entrance towers) towering over each doorway.
- In the prakaram (temple courtyard) several minor shrines and outbuildings often abound.
What makes the three temples on UNESCO list special:
- Among the surviving Hoysala-era temples, these three are considered prime examples of Hoysala art.
- In his work “A History of South India,” K A Nilakanta Sastri notes that the Chennakesava temple in Belur features a total of 46 pillars, with all except the four in the central bay designed differently, creating an astonishing variety and complexity.
- It is believed that Shantala Devi, queen of Vishnuvardhana, who commissioned the temple, served as the model for one of its sculptures, known as Darpana Sundari (lady with the mirror).
- The Kesava temple in Somanathapura, designed as a 16-point star, houses three shrines dedicated to Keshava, Janardhana, and Venugopala.Unfortunately, the statue of Keshava in the Somanathapura temple is currently missing.
- The temple in Halebidu is hailed for its extensive exterior sculpture work, which is considered one of the world’s most remarkable monuments and an unparalleled repository of religious expression in plastic form.
- Halebidu faced a historical setback when it was raided by Malik Kafur, a general in the army of Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khalji.
What is UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- A World Heritage site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
- World Heritage sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance.
- The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.”
What is the history and background of World Heritage Sites:
- The concept of World Heritage emerged after WWII amid concerns over the widespread destruction of cultural sites and nature. Efforts to remedy this led to the drafting of the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, commonly known as the World Heritage Convention.
- It established the framework to preserve the world’s outstanding heritage.
- The Convention defines the kind of natural or cultural sites that can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List by meeting specified criteria.
- By signing the Convention, member countries commit to protecting not just national heritage but mankind’s shared heritage, irrespective of where sites are located.
- 191 State Parties have ratified this World Heritage Convention, including India. India formally signed the Convention on November 14, 1977.
- There are currently 1,172 World Heritage Sites across 166 countries, of which 913 are cultural, 220 are natural, and 39 are mixed properties that have outstanding universal value as the heritage of humanity.
What is the selection Criteria for UNESCO World Heritage Site
- For a site to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site, it must go through a rigorous nomination and evaluation process.
- UNESCO’s advisory bodies the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assess each nominated site.
- A site must demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) by meeting one or more criteria defined in the Convention to make it worthy of special protection for all humanity.
What is the Legal Status of Designated World Heritage Sites:
- Upon inscription, each World Heritage Site retains its ownership by the respective state, yet the safeguarding and preservation of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) assumes a collective responsibility for all of humanity. The legal implications encompass:
- Member states bear the obligation to ensure the identification, safeguarding, preservation, revaluation, and transmission of their cultural and natural heritage to future generations.
- States are anticipated to integrate heritage protection into regional planning initiatives, provide regular reports on on-site conditions to the World Heritage Committee, and abstain from taking deliberate actions that could harm the heritage.
- States are encouraged to enhance public awareness and reverence for heritage through educational and informational programs.
- In instances of severe threats to World Heritage, the Committee can deploy experts to offer assistance. In extreme cases, the possibility of delisting or imposing sanctions on gravely imperiled sites also exists.
Section: Modern India
What is Lord Ganesh Festival:
- Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha, who is a symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
- It is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi.
- It is a ten-day festival, starting on the fourth day of the hindu lunar calendar i.e Shukla Paksha and ends on Anant Chaturdashi
History of Ganesh Festival and Bal Gangadhar Tilak:
- Before 1893, the Ganesh festival was a one-day event, primarily celebrated privately and was mainly observed by Brahmins and upper castes within their households.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak played a pivotal role in reshaping the Ganesh festival.
- He aimed to mobilize the Indian populace against British colonial rule
- In 1893, Tilak introduced a new tradition by turning Ganesh Chaturthi into a community festival.
- The festival was no longer confined to private homes but became a public event.
- During this transformed Ganesh festival, patriotic songs were sung, and nationalist ideas were promoted.
- Tilak used to believe that invoking Indian heroes and using Hindu imagery would help galvanize the people against British rule.
- Tilak’s writings, impassioned speeches, and organizational skills were instrumental in advocating for the public celebration of the Ganesh festival.
Some facts about Bal Gangadhar Tilak:
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
- He founded the Deccan Education Society (1884) along with his associate Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and others.
- He was also one of the founders of the Fergusson College (1885) in Pune through the Deccan Education Society.
- A book ‘Indian Unrest’ written by Valentine Chirol, an English journalist, stated Tilak the ‘father of Indian unrest’.
- The All India Home Rule League was founded by Tilak in April 1916 at Belgaum.It worked in Maharashtra (except Bombay), the Central Provinces, Karnataka and Berar.
- Newspapers: Weeklies Kesari (Marathi) and Mahratta (English)
- Books: Gita Rhasya and Arctic Home of the Vedas
Section: Modern India
Context: Khalistan Movement has taken momentum in Canada after the death of KTF leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar that impacted India-Canada Diplomatic Relations.
History of Sikh Migration to Canada:
- Arrival of Sikhs in Canada (1897):
- Sikhs’ migration to Canada began with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
- Kesur Singh, a Risaldar Major in the British India Army, is considered the first Sikh settler who arrived in Vancouver as part of the Hong Kong Regiment, a group of Sikh soldiers.
- First Wave of Sikh Migration (Early 1900s):
- The initial Sikh migration to Canada occurred in the early 1900s.
- Many Sikh migrants came to Canada as laborers, working in industries such as logging in British Columbia and manufacturing in Ontario.
- These early immigrants were often sojourners, intending to work temporarily in Canada and send their savings back to their home countries.
- Challenges and Hostility:
- Sikh migrants faced numerous challenges and hostilities.
- Locals perceived them as taking away jobs from the local population, leading to resentment.
- Sikhs also encountered racial and cultural prejudices as their numbers increased in the country.
- The situation worsened as more Sikh migrants arrived in Canada.
- Canadian Government Regulations (Post-1908):
- Due to mounting public pressure and concerns about immigration, the Canadian government introduced strict regulations to limit Sikh migration.
- These regulations included requirements such as possessing a specific sum of money and arriving in Canada through a continuous journey from their home country.
- The goal was to discourage further Sikh immigration.
- Decline in Immigration (After 1908):
- Immigration from India into Canada experienced a significant decline after 1908.
- The number of Sikh immigrants went from 2,500 during 1907-08 to only a few dozen per year.
- The stringent regulations effectively limited the influx of Sikh migrants.
- The Komagata Maru Incident (1914):
- In 1914, a significant incident known as the Komagata Maru incident took place in Vancouver.
- The Komagata Maru was a Japanese steamship carrying 376 South Asian passengers, including a majority of Sikhs.
- Upon arrival in Canada, the immigrants were detained onboard the ship for about two months.
- Canadian authorities eventually forced the ship out of Canadian waters, sending it back to Asia.
- Tragic Consequences in India:
- When the Komagata Maru arrived in India, an altercation between British authorities and passengers ensued.
- British officials suspected the passengers of being revolutionaries, which led to confrontations.
- Tragically, the altercation resulted in casualties, with 22 people dead, including 16 passengers.
- Relaxation of Immigration Policy (Post-WWII):
- After World War II, Canada’s immigration policy began to relax, driven by several factors.
- Canada found it increasingly challenging to uphold an immigration policy based on racial preferences after joining the United Nations and committing to anti-racial discrimination principles.
- The country’s growing economy required laborers, leading to a demand for immigrant workers.
- Additionally, there was a decline in European immigration, prompting Canada to seek human capital from third-world countries.
- Introduction of the ‘Points System’ (1967):
- In 1967, the Canadian government introduced the ‘points system’ as a new criteria for admission.
- This system emphasized skills as the primary criteria for admitting non-dependent relatives, effectively eliminating racial preferences in immigration.
Section: Places in news
Context: A prominent Uyghur scholar specializing in the study of her people’s folklore and traditions has been sentenced to to life in prison
Who are Uyghur:
- The Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.
- Their native region is considered to be the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China.
- The Uyghurs are considered to be one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minority communities in China.
- However, China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.
Where is Xinjiang:
- Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China.
- It is officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
- It shares borders with eight countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to the northwest, Pakistan and India to the southwest, Mongolia to the northeast, Russia to the north, and Afghanistan to the west.
- It is the largest region and is rich in minerals, oil and natural gas.
Section: External Sector
- Global debt rose to an all-time high of $307 trillion in the second quarter, by the end of June 2023, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said in a report.
- Global debt refers to the borrowings of governments as well as private businesses and individuals.
- Governments borrow to meet various expenditures that they are unable to meet through tax and other revenues and to pay interest on the money that they have already borrowed to fund past expenditures.
- The private sector borrows predominantly to make investments.
- Global debt has risen by about $100 trillion over the last decade. Further, global debt as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) has started to increase once again to hit 336% after dropping quite steeply for seven consecutive quarters.
Why is it rising?
- Both global debt in nominal terms and global debt as a share of GDP have been rising steadily over the decades.
Reason: Due to the rising interest rates (as a result of the increase in oil prices), which was expected to adversely affect demand for loans.
- Most (over 80%) of the rise in global debt in the first half of the year has come from advanced economies such as the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and France.
- Among emerging market economies, China, India and Brazil have seen the most growth in debt.
- Probable consequence of rising global debt:
- It will increase the costs of debt servicing for developing countries.
- But a rise in debt levels over time is to be expected since the total money supply usually steadily rises each year in countries across the globe.
- Even a simple rise in the total amount of savings in an economy can cause a rise in debt levels as these increased savings are channeled into investments.
Inflating away of debt:
- It refers to the phenomenon wherein the central bank of a country either directly or indirectly uses freshly created currency to effectively pay off outstanding government debt by, for example, purchasing government bonds in the market.
- But the creation of fresh money causes prices to rise, thus imposing an indirect tax on the wider economy to pay the government’s debt.
Is it a cause of worry?
- Concern over the sustainability of such debts, mainly government debts, as the government borrows money to fund populist policies and when the central bank raises the interest rates, it will become difficult for the government to service their debts.
- As the interest rate is extremely low, particularly in western economies, debt servicing remains largely manageable.
- Now, due to high inflation, the central banks are increasing interest rates, that may cause a worry.
- In its report, the IIF has also warned that the international financial infrastructure is not equipped to handle unsustainable domestic debt levels.
- Unsustainable private debts sometimes lead to unsustainable economic booms like the 2008 global financial crisis.
Institute of International Finance (IIF):
- The IIF is the global association of the financial industry, with about 400 members from more than 60 countries.
- The IIF provides its members with innovative research, unparalleled global advocacy, and access to leading industry events that leverage its influential network.
- Its mission is to support the financial industry in the prudent management of risks; to develop sound industry practices; and to advocate for regulatory, financial and economic policies that are in the broad interests of its members and foster global financial stability and sustainable economic growth.
- IIF members include commercial and investment banks, asset managers, insurance companies, professional services firms, exchanges, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, central banks and development banks.
Species in news
- Tamil Nadu is in consultation with Kerala to conduct the census of its state animal and southern India’s only mountain ungulate, Nilgiri Tahr.
- For the first time drones may be used as the Nilgiri tahr prefers montane grasslands at an altitude between 300 and 2,600 meters above sea level.
- The nilgiri tahr’s habitat ranges between the Nilgiris in the north and the Kanniyakumari hills in the south.
- Their habitat include: The Nilgiris hills; Siruvani hills; Anamalais, high ranges and Palani hills; Srivillipudur, Theni and Tirunelveli hills; and the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve and Ashambu hills. Among these, the Anamalai hills and the Nilgiris, mainly the Mukurthi National Park, are home to the highest number of the animals.
- This would be the first comprehensive, exclusive census for the State animal. It will be conducted with the help of Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
- For counting techniques it will take help from WWF-India, the Nature Conservation Foundation, and the WII.
- Counting methods could be: Bounded count, double-observer survey methods or/and Camera traps.
- Nilgiri tahr habitats face threats in the form of the spread of invasive plants such as wattles, pines, and eucalyptus in the grasslands.
About Nilgiri Tahr:
- The Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an ungulate that is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western and Eastern Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in southern India.
- It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
- Despite its local name, it is more closely related to the sheep of the genus Ovis than the ibex and wild goats of the genus Capra. It is the only species in the genus Nilgiritragus.
- Its population has been estimated at 3,122 in the wild, as per the WWF-India census of 2015.
- Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest population.
- India’s first Nilgiri Tahr project to conserve the State animal of Tamil Nadu will be taken up at a cost of ₹25.14 crores.
About the project:
- Announced during the Tamilnadu state budget 2022-23.
- The project will be implemented over the span of five years- 2022-27.
- The project will have nine components, including bi-annual synchronised surveys across the division, diagnosis and treatment for affected individuals and the Shola grassland restoration pilot in Upper Bhavan.
- Project Nilgiri Tahr of Tamil Nadu Forest aims to restore the fragmented habitat, especially Shola grasslands where it thrives, reintroduce the Tahr population in its historic habitat and ensure proper rehabilitation facilities are provided.
- Eravikulam National Park is a protected area located in the Idukki district of Kerala, India. It was established in 1978 to protect the endangered Nilgiritahr, which is endemic to the Western Ghats.
- Eravikulam National Park is located in the Western Ghats, in the Idukki district of Kerala. It covers an area of 97 square kilometers.
- Eravikulam National Park is known for its unique montane grassland ecosystem, which is found in the higher altitudes of the Western Ghats.
- Highest peak south of the Himalayas – the Anamudi is located here.
- Park receives heavy showers during the southwest (June/July) and retreating (October/November) Monsoons and is one of the wettest area of the World.
- The park is home to a number of endemic plant species, including the Neelakurinji, which blooms once every 12 years.
- The park is home to a number of species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The most famous resident of the park is the Nilgiritahr, a species of mountain goat that is endemic to the Western Ghats.
- Other mammal species found in the park include the Indian muntjac, Indian porcupine, and stripe-necked mongoose. The park is also home to a variety of bird species, including the Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pigeon, and Nilgiri flycatcher.
- The Nilgiritahr population in the park has been threatened by habitat loss and poaching. The park also faces threats from invasive plant species and tourism-related activities.
Subject : Geography
Section: Places in news
In the news:
- The high-altitude passes of the Gurez valley in north Kashmir are all set to connect with the Mushkoh valley, in Kargil’s Drass Sector, Ladakh, the site of the war in 1999.
- The 130-km road has been opened up for tourists. Kaobal Gali, the highest pass at a height of 4,166.9 metres in Gurez, connects the two valleys.
- Located in the Kashmir valley.
- The valley lies near the Line of Control, which separates it from the Astore and Neelum districts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Being situated very close to the Burzil Pass, which leads into Astore, the inhabitants are ethnic Dards/Shins. They speak the Shina language and have the same styles of dress and culture as their kinsmen in Pakistani-administered Gilgit-Baltistan.
- Zumba yak (smaller than other yaks) is found in the Buduaab village, Gurez valley.
- Gurez valley was one of the sites of the Kargil war.
- The Gurez valley is close to the Line of Control (LoC) with the Kishanganga river demarcating the line in several parts.
- The Gurez valley is one of few habitations in Kashmir where villages with only log houses exist, with no intervention of urban concrete materials.
- It has diverse fauna and wildlife including the Himalayan brown bear and the snow leopard. It is also home to ibex, musk deer and marmots.
- The Gurez valley, with about 38,000 residents, is already setting a record by hosting 50,000 tourists this year so far.
- Situated in Dras (Ladakh) and Also known as the valley of wild tulips.
- The Mushkoh valley, dotted with meadows of flowers, was in the news when Tiger Hill witnessed a bloody battle between India and Pakistan, leaving hundreds of soldiers dead on both sides.
- The meadows of Mushkoh offer boisterous wild tulip flowers. The valley is also home to the endangered Himalayan yew.
Subject: Science and technology
- With just a room-temperature “pot,” a sprinkling of molecules, and a simple electrical device, pathogen DNA detection can now be achieved in under an hour anywhere.
DNA nanoball strategy:
- A new platform using nucleic acids-based diagnostics showcases a way to detect pathogens more quickly in the field.
- Through loop-mediated isothermal amplification technology (LAMP), the approach creates nanoballs out of pathogens’ DNA that can then be identified through electrical signaling, using the MEMS (microelectromechanical systems)—the technology of microscopic devices incorporating both electronic and moving parts.
- This method creates concatemers—long DNA molecules that contain multiple copies of the same DNA sequence linked in series—that fold into themselves to produce micrometer-sized balls of DNA from target viral or bacterial nucleic acids. These so-called “DNA nanoballs” are the size of certain bacteria and are detectable by a microscope and electrical impedance.
- The design does not need laboratory techniques to support diagnosis. It is a low-cost technology that can be widely deployed and scalable.
- Detects viruses when infected people are pre-symptomatic.
- Viruses can be detected when there are less than ten copies in a nasal swab sample.
DNA nanoball sequencing:
- DNA nanoball sequencing is a high throughput sequencing technology that is used to determine the entire genomic sequence of an organism.
- The method uses rolling circle replication to amplify small fragments of genomic DNA into DNA nanoballs.
- Fluorescent nucleotides bind to complementary nucleotides and are then polymerized to anchor sequences bound to known sequences on the DNA template. The base order is determined via the fluorescence of the bound nucleotides.
- This DNA sequencing method allows large numbers of DNA nanoballs to be sequenced per run at lower reagent costs compared to other next generation sequencing platforms.
- A limitation of this method is that it generates only short sequences of DNA, which presents challenges to mapping its reads to a reference genome.
Subject :Science and technology
Section : Health
- A new finding about the carefully tailored richness of human milk has shed light on the importance of myo-inositol, a cyclic sugar alcohol.
Details of the findings:
- The levels of myo-inositol are high over the first two weeks of lactation and gradually taper off over a period of a few months.
- In the early stages, the brain of the newborn is a site of rapid ‘wiring’, as synapses (or connections between nerve cells) are formed in profusion.
- Proper synapse formation during early development lays the foundation for cognitive development; inadequate synapse formation leads to development difficulties in the brain.
- Myo-inositol is a cyclic sugar-alcohol, about half as sweet as sugar.
- It is abundant in the brain, where it mediates the response to several hormones.
- Our body needs inositol to form cell membranes. Our body makes myo-inositol from glucose, mostly in the kidneys.
- Sources of Myo-inositol:
- Our body’s requirements go up along with the intake of coffee and sugar, and in conditions such as diabetes. The bran of grains and seeds contains a precursor of inositol, phytic acid. Almonds, peas and cantaloupes are also rich sources.
- In animal models of diabetes, adding myo-inositol back to the diet of inositol-deprived mice helps prevent cataract formation and other complications associated with diabetes.
Other milk constituents:
- Other constituents of human milk have unique nutritive values too.
- An essential nutrient, an Omega-3 fatty acid and dicosahexaenoic acid (or DHA), varies depending on the food the pregnant mother has been eating.
- The DHA levels vary in the lactating mother’s milk across nations — 2.8% in mainland China, 1% in Japan, around 0.4-0.2% in Europe and the U.S., and only 0.1% or so in several developing countries. DHA is important for the developing brain and retina.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe gastrointestinal condition that impacts premature or extremely low birth weight infants.
- Symptoms include inadequate feeding, abdominal bloating, multiorgan failure, and can be fatal.
- Risk factors consist of bottle-feeding, prematurity, and low birth weight (1.5 kg or less).
- The condition arises from a combination of compromised blood flow and intestinal infection. The NEC can be prevented by the utilisation of breast milk and probiotics.
- Nearly 10% of premature babies develop NEC, with a quarter of affected infants succumbing to the disease. The intestines of premature babies do not produce enough IL-22, which is involved in protecting us from microbial infections.
Subject : Schemes
- To promote sustainable practices, Department of Fisheries has sanctioned 732 artificial reef units for 10 coastal states with a total investment of Rs 126 crore as a sub-activity under “Integrated Modern Coastal Fishing Villages” of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).
- The projects are being implemented with the technical support of Fishery Survey of India (FSI) and ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).
- Artificial reefs are engineering technology interventions used to rehabilitate and/or improve natural habitats, increase productivity and manage aquatic resources including habitat enhancement (FAO, 2015). Installation of artificial reefs is advantageous in many forms as below:
- Similar to natural reefs, ARs are used for aggregating fish and provide a home for fish to live and grow, reduce wave damage on coasts, help regeneration of marine ecosystems and act as a carbon sink. As per CMFRI, two to three-fold increase in catch rates and efficiency can be realized. Thus saving fuel and energy costs leading to increased income.
- Providea firm substrate for marine life such as corals, algae and plankton to attach to and grow. They provide favorable conditions for sea ranching and serve as spawning and nursery grounds for fish.
- Enhance recreational fisheries, snorkeling, eco-tourism, creating suitable areas for diving and reducing conflicts.
- Artificial reef structures restrict bottom trawling in the near shore areas thus helping the marine environment to regenerate and small-scale fishers get higher catch
- One artificial reef of 300m3 is expected to support 25-30 non-mechanized boats (CMFRI).
- Launched in May 2020 with the investment of Rs. 20,050 crore.
- Aim: To bring about the Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector.
- Over the years, increased fishing activities has reduced per capita yield from coastal fisheries, to led to heavy fishing pressure, loss of fishing grounds due to bottom trawling, coastal development etc.
- This has also resulted in reduced income and forcing the fishers to go to deeper waters.
Subject : Environment
Section: Protected Areas
- Madhya Pradesh, which is home to the most number of tigers in the country, has got a new protected area for the big cats named ‘Veerangana Durgavati Tiger Reserve’, the seventh in the state.
Tiger reserves in M.P.:
- M.P. was home to six tiger reserves – Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Satpura, Pench, Panna and Sanjay-Dubri.
- Veerangana Durgavati Tiger Reserve is the 7th tiger reserve of the state.
- The previously notified eco-sensitive zone of Nauradehi and Veerangana Durgavati sanctuaries and the surrounding forest areas have been included in the notified buffer area.
- The areas including this tiger reserve are already notified as sanctuary or eco-sensitive areas.
Tigers in Madhya Pradesh:
- As per the report ‘Status of Tigers: Co-predators & Prey in India-2022’, released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India, MP (785) has the highest number of tigers in the country, followed by Karnataka (563) and Uttarakhand (560).
Veerangana Durgavati tiger reserve:
- Veerangana Durgawati Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh, India.
- Named after Rani Durgavati, a queen of the Gondi people, and covering an area of only 24 sq km.
- Flora: consisting of hills, valleys and plains with several streams flowing through them. The vegetation is predominantly tropical mixed dry deciduous forest and some teak forests with trees accounting for 70 of the 121 species of plants found here.
- Fauna: The sanctuary hosts 18 species of mammals, including the leopard, wolf, jackal, Indian fox, the striped hyena and sloth bear besides several species of deer. Besides these, the sanctuary is also home to 177 species of birds, 16 species of fish and reptiles and 10 species of amphibians.
Subject: Science and technology
Section: Space technology
Source: The wire
- NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission returns to Earth carrying an estimated 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of material gathered from the surface of an asteroid.
- The samples contained in the capsule may help distinguish true asteroid-origin materials and terrestrial contaminations or alterations for multiple meteorite types.
- OSIRIS-REx launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2016 and spent two years traveling to Bennu, a carbon-rich asteroid that orbits between Earth and Mars.
- The spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in December 2018 and orbited for two years, measuring the asteroid’s mass, density, albedo, surface composition and particle environment.
- The landing site on Bennu was named: Nightingale.
- During its reconnaissance of Bennu, the mission team discovered that the asteroid is of the rare active variety, meaning that it intermittently ejects material from its surface. The surface is far more rugged than expected, hosting several hundred boulders larger than ten meters in diameter.
- Bennu’s bulk density is lower than expected; as much as 60% of the asteroid might be empty space.
- The surface was covered with hydrated minerals that suggest past aqueous activity, and Bennu’s rotation is speeding up, likely caused by an interaction with solar radiation known as the YORP effect (Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack).
Why return samples?
- Material has been collected and returned to Earth from comets, asteroids, the solar wind and the Moon.
- Samples returned directly from a source can answer many scientific questions that can’t be answered by remote observations, landers and rovers, or even meteorites fallen to Earth.
- Many details hidden within a rock can be lost during a meteorite’s atmospheric entry and impact but are preserved with a returned sample.
- Earlier samples returned from asteroids Itokawa and Ryugu had been analyzed, which were the targets of past missions of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
- The Hayabusa spacecraft collected evidence of space weathering on Itokawa, and Hayabusa2 found that Ryugu is made of carbon-rich rocks, known as carbonaceous chondrites, that closely trace the Sun’s composition. The Ryugu samples revealed that the few meteorites of the same classification that have fallen to Earth were chemically altered by the journey.
Planning for the future:
- This will be NASA’s first sample return mission since Stardust in 2006 and Genesis in 2004.
- Japan’s Hayabusa and Hayabusa2 missions returned samples in 2010 and 2020, respectively, and China’s Chang’e 5 mission brought lunar samples back in 2020.
- The OSIRIS-REx science team will retain 25% of the material. The Canadian Space Agency will receive 4% for its contribution to the spacecraft’s instrumentation, and JAXA will receive 0.5% in exchange for samples from both Hayabusa missions.
Subject: Science and technology
- Current pre-grant opposition provisions in the Patents Act allow anyone to file objections against patent grants before they are finalized.
- Proposed changes in draft patent amendment rules, 2023 aim to alter the process and criteria for pre-grant opposition.
Proposed Changes and Concerns
- Draft rules introduce variable fees for opposition.
- Grant controller gains the power to decide opposition maintainability.
- Weakened safeguards against patent evergreening, and higher drug prices.
- Lack of clear guidelines for maintainability decisions.
- Proposed fees pose financial challenges for smaller groups.
Champions Against Evergreening
- Nandita Venkatesh (India), Phumeza Tisile (South Africa) thwarted Johnson & Johnson’s Bedaquiline patent extension.
- Both individuals, TB survivors themselves, filed the pre-grant opposition along with the Network of Maharashtra people living with HIV (NMP+), with support from Médecins Sans Frontières.
Unique Provision and Its Importance
- Pre-grant opposition is distinct in the Indian Patent Act.
- Section 25(1) of the Indian Patent Act allows any person to file a pre-grant opposition against a patent application before it is granted.
- Prevents unjust patent protection extensions.
- Vital for affordable generic drug access.
Failed Evergreening Attempts Stopped by Opposition
- Patents for Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), Boehringer Ingelheim’s pediatric form of the anti-AIDS drug Nevirapine, Glivec (imatinib mesylate), Zidovudine/Lamivudine (first-line HIV medicines), and Lopinavir/Ritonavir (second-line HIV medicines).
Indian Patents Act, 1970
- Primary legislation governing patents in India.
- Novelty and Non-Obviousness: Patents require new and non-obvious ideas.
- Industrial Application: Inventions must be usable in industry.
- Exclusions: Some inventions, like those related to atomic energy, are not patentable.
- Term of Patent: Patents last for 20 years from the filing date.
- Opposition: Third parties can oppose a patent within a set time frame.
- Compulsory Licensing: Under specific conditions, third parties can use a patented invention.
- Patent: A patent is a government-issued exclusive right that provides inventors or assignees with the sole authority to utilize, make, sell, or license their invention for a limited period. This exclusivity is granted in return for disclosing the details of the invention to the public.
- Patent Evergreening: The practice of making minor changes to an existing patented drug to extend its patent protection.
- Evergreening is the practice of companies filing for an extension of a patent with minor process or product modifications just before the original patent expires at the end of 20 years.
- Patents offer their owners market exclusivity for a limited period of time–For medicines, this exclusivity should last as long as the primary patent — which relates to the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of the medicine is in effect, typically 20 years.
- The end of patent exclusivity will reduce the drug prices drastically.
- The threat of this steep fall in profits urges pharmaceutical companies to find new ways to postpone their exclusivity.
- Companies use a process known as secondary patenting or evergreening to keep generic companies out of the market
- Secondary patenting or evergreening is achieved by seeking extra patents on modifications of the original drug: new forms of release, new dosages, new combinations or new forms.
Indian Patent Act and evergreening:
- The basic principle of the Patent Law in our country is that a patent is granted only for an invention which must be new and useful.
- Section 3(d) of India’s patent law forbids patenting of incremental innovations—or evergreening.
- Section 3(d) of The Patents Act, 1970 –“the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance or the discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant is not patentable”.
- This clause was also upheld by the Supreme Court in 2013 when it turned down Swiss drugmaker Novartis’ plea for patenting its cancer drug Glivec.
- Section 3(d) necessitates a demonstration of improvement in its therapeutic efficacy. The provision also bars patents for new uses and new properties of known substances.
- In the case of Novartis, Glivec was just a new form of a known substance, imatinib, and therefore the patent for Glivec was rejected under section 3(d) of the Patents Act.
- Section 2(1)(ja) -the product in question must feature a technical advance over what came before that’s not obvious to a skilled person.
- Section 3(e) ensures that patents for combinations of known substances are allowed only if there is synergistic effect.
- Section 3(i) ensures that no exclusivity can be claimed over methods of treatment.
- This clause was also upheld by the Supreme Court in 2013 when it turned down Swiss drugmaker Novartis’ plea for patenting its cancer drug Glivec.
Subject: Science and technology
Section: Space technology
- Europa, one of Jupiter’s largest moons, is characterized by its icy surface.
- Beneath this icy crust, a subsurface ocean exists.
- Carbon dioxide on Europa’s surface has posed a mystery, prompting investigations into its source.
Source of Carbon Dioxide
- Researchers used data from the James Webb Space Telescope to determine the origin of carbon dioxide on Europa.
- Recent discoveries strongly indicate that the carbon dioxide found on Europa’s surface originates from its subsurface ocean.
- Understanding the presence of carbon dioxide in this context is pivotal for evaluating Europa’s habitability.
Challenges in Identifying the Source
- Previous observations left scientists with multiple hypotheses:
- Direct emanation from the subsurface ocean
- Delivery via meteorite impacts, or
- Generation on the surface through interactions with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.
Evidence Supporting Subsurface Origin in Tara Regio
- Two independent studies utilized near-infrared spectroscopy to examine Europa’s surface carbon dioxide.
- Dr. Samantha Trumbo and her team meticulously mapped carbon dioxide distribution, discovering concentrated hotspots in the Tara Regio region, known for geological disturbances.
- Another study, led by Dr. Geronimo Villanueva, found mixed carbon dioxide compounds on the surface and inconclusive isotopic ratios.
- Despite hints of volatile plumes in previous studies, the James Webb Space Telescope’s observations did not detect such activity.
NIRS (Near-Infrared Spectroscopy):
- Analytical technique.
- Operates in near-infrared spectrum (700-2500 nm).
- Studies molecular composition.
- Identifies and quantifies components.
- Used to analyze Europa’s surface CO2.