Daily Prelims Notes 4 July 2021
- July 4, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
4 July 2021
Table Of Contents
- Differences in Asian and African elephants
- Mollar Bheri- East Kolkata Wetlands
- China declared Malaria-free
- Last Ice Area (LIA)
- Pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19
- Kodumanal excavation
- Green Passport
- Suicide bombing attack
- Petrol price rise and issue of tax
Context: Researchers have found that social structure differs in Asian and African elephants,
The African elephant species into two distinct species, the larger being the African savanna elephant and the smaller being the African forest elephant. While the two African species are about as genetically different as tigers and lions, they still have more features in common with one another than with their Asian counterpart.
|African elephants||Asian elephants|
|African elephants have much larger ears that look sort of like the continent of Africa||Asian elephants have smaller, round ears|
|African elephants have rounded heads||Asian elephants have a twin-domed head, which means there’s a divot line running up the head|
|Both male and female African elephants can have tusks||Both male and female African elephants can have tusks, but only male Asian elephants can grow them.( It’s important to note, however, that not all male Asian elephants nor all African elephants necessarily develop tusks)|
|African savannah elephants are about 8,000 kg (9 tons) and are between 3 and 4 meters tall (between 10 and 13 feet) at the shoulder. African forest elephants are a bit smaller than their savannah||Asian elephants weigh 5,500 kg (about 6 tons) and, at most, are 3.5 meters tall at the shoulder (11.5 feet).|
|African savannah elephant population, young males seemed to prefer old males possibly due to opportunities for social learning||Young males spent a greater proportion of time associating with females (in mixed-sex groups) than with other males (in all-male groups).|
|African savannah elephants spent only about 30-60% of their time in all male groups||Asian elephant spent only about 12% of their time in all male groups|
- Both species, herds of elephants are matriarchies, with the oldest female leading the way. Older males are often solitary.
- Despite the fact that they occupy similar ecological niches (In ecology, a niche is the match of a species to a specific environmental condition), the social structure of Asian elephants differs from that of their African savannah counterparts. This is perhaps due to their differing habitats.
Recent findings Asian elephants,
- They do not move in mixed groups consisting of males and females.
- Males use smell to track females. Males check females (and vice-versa sometimes) to probably assess fertility and possibly identity. Rarely, this might lead to a mating. Sometimes, the male just feeds alongside the female herd for some time and then leaves.
- There was also a constraint on the group size in the case of the former. This may be because of the differences in resource availability. The food distribution is such that it limits large groups of elephants from feeding together
- Young males spent a greater proportion of time associating with females (in mixed-sex groups) than with other males (in all-male groups).While males met at random in the presence of females, the behaviour differed in their absence. Old males preferentially associated with other old males, and old and young males met each other less than expected by chance. Young males met each other as expected by chance. There was no evidence that young males spent more time with old males relative to time they spent with other young males. They also did not preferentially initiate associations with older male
- The two possibilities for adult male elephants getting together in groups
- Testing their strength in a relaxed setting against similarly sized and closely matched age-class peers and settling their dominance position,
- Young males preferentially associating with, and socially learning from, older males..
Context: The cost of damage caused by garbage dumping and contamination of the 55-acre East Kolkata Wetlands, a Ramsar site, is Rs 1.46 crore, according to a joint report by state and central government agencies
- The study was done by West Bengal Pollution Control Board, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and Central Pollution Control Board.
- It is observed that attributes like TDS (total dissolved solid), alkalinity, hardness, magnesium and TC (total colliform) violates the acceptable limits.
- Volumes of lead, iron, manganese, cadmium, zinc and aluminium violate the acceptable limits for the pond water and that of aluminium, manganese, iron, cadmium violate the acceptable limits for the ground water.
- The metals mentioned are highly toxic and contaminates aquatic plants and animals, particularly fishes. The toxins pose health hazards to a sizable population of Calcutta and Bidhannagar.
Mollar Bheri site,
- Mollar Bheri is part of a unique ecosystem where 234 ponds are inter-connected consume these fishes
- It spreads in an area of 12,500 ha, and is designated as Ramsar site (https://optimizeias.com/ramsar-convention/) in 2002. It is isa part of east Calcutta wetland.
- It is highly vulnerable to the environmental impacts from solid waste dumping, poses a potential threat to the surrounding water bodies and also contaminate the ground water table.
- The area is a legacy waste dumpsite of concern, where unsegregated solid waste was accumulated.
Subject: International Organisation
Context :The World Health Organization (WHO) declaring that China was “malaria-free” followed a seven decade-long, multi-pronged health strategy that was able to entirely eliminate indigenous cases for four straight years,
The number of malaria cases worldwide in 2019 was around 229 million, according to the World Malaria Report in 2020, with 409,000 lives lost to the mosquito borne disease. The 2020 report said the majority of cases were reported in Africa, while India and Southeast Asia recorded a significant drop.
The WHO said China is the first country in the Western Pacific region to be declared malaria-free in more than 30 years, following Australia in 1981, Singapore in 1982 and Brunei in 1987.
- A multi-pronged approach of providing anti-malarial medicines while targeting mosquito breeding grounds and using insecticide spraying.
- A national effort called ‘the 523 Project’ was launched in 1967 involving more than 500 scientists from 60 institutes, leading to the discovery of artemisinin in the 1970s,an antimalarial drug.
- In the 1980s, China began using insecticide-treated nets widely. Cases began to drop.
- With assistance from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria starting in 2003, China stepped up training, staffing, laboratory equipment, medicines and mosquito control an effort that led to a further reduction in cases.
- A “1-3-7 strategy” referring to a one-day deadline to report a malaria diagnosis, confirming a case and determining the spread by the third day, and measures taken to stop the spread by the seventh day, along with continued surveillance in high-risk areas.
Malaria: It is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Context: In a paper published in the journal “Communications Earth & Environment”, researchers note that in August 2020 the area where the Last Ice Area (LIA) is located, experienced a record low concentration of sea ice.
The National Geographic noted that while climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2040, the only place that would be able to withstand a warming climate would be this area of ice called the “Last Ice Area”.
- The area is important because it was thought to be able to help ice-dependent species as ice in the surrounding areas melted away.
- The area is used by polar bears to hunt for seals who use ice to build dens for their offspring. Walruses too, use the surface of the ice for foraging.
- As the sea ice disappears, the Last Ice Area will continue to provide a suitable home for ice-associated life and the people who depend upon these living resources.
- Polar bears need sea ice to hunt, and the Last Ice Area can be a refuge. About a quarter of the world’s polar bears live in or around the region. Most of the world’s whales spend at least part of the year in the Last Ice Area.
- Global temperatures are affected by Arctic ice, and its ability to reflect the sun’s heat.
- Communications Earth & Environment”, researchers note that in August 2020 the area where the Last Ice Area (LIA) is located, experienced a record low concentration of sea ice.
- Sea-ice has been thinning for years, a trend they think has been prevalent because of climate change.A part of the Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area”, located north of Greenland, has melted before expected.
- About 80 percent of thinning can be attributed to weather-related factors such as winds that break up and move the ice around. The remaining 20 percent can be attributed to longer-term thinning of the ice due to global warming.
- During the winter and spring of 2020 , had patches of older, thicker ice that had drifted into there, but there was enough thinner, newer ice that melted to expose open ocean,
- This open ocean then began a cycle of absorbing heat energy which then melted more ice.
- The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that climate change is shrinking the extent of Arctic summer sea ice, which is not only important for animals but also the local Inuit communities.
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: Pregnant women in India are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Union Health Ministry giving the approval based on recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI)
- Infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women and they are at an increased risk of severe diseases and it might affect the foetus too
- pregnant women with COVID-19 infection are at an increased risk for preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, including higher chances of neonatal morbidity
About National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI)
- Establishment: It was established by an order of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2001.
- As India’s apex advisory body on immunization, the NTAGI provides guidance and advice to the MoHFW on provision of vaccination and immunization services for the effective control of vaccine preventable diseases in the country.
- NTAGI of India fulfils a need for informing decision-making concerning the introduction of new vaccines and strengthening the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
- The role and membership of NTAGI have expanded over the years in tune with the emerging needs and priorities of the Government of India.
- The NTAGI includes a Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC).
- The STSC is tasked with undertaking technical review of scientific evidence on matters related to immunization policy and programmes.
- The overall objective of the NTAGI is to provide advice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the strategies to control the burdenand appropriately evaluate the impact of immunization on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs) in the country.
- The NTAGI shall evaluate licensed vaccines as well as prioritize other related interventions such as associated immune globulins and chemo-prophylactic agents and new technologiesfor delivery, logistics, disease prevention and monitoring of VPD prevalence, vaccination programme and other adjuncts to VPD control’.
Subject: Art and Culture
Context: For the first time at the Kodumanal excavation site, a 2,300 year-old step-well has been found during excavation by a team of the State Department of Archaeology
It is along the banks of the Noyyal, in Chennimalai Union in Erode district that served as habitation-cum-industrial site, previous excavations since 1981 revealed the presence of an industrial complex where beads and semi-precious stones were manufactured.
There was evidence of the presence of a number of iron smelting units making forged steel at the site which was a trade centre from the fifth century BCE (Before the Common Era) to the first century BCE.
- The circle-shaped well was unearthed at 2.36 metres depth and is 2.65 metres wide while the depth of the well would be known only after deposits were removed in the coming weeks.
- A flight of 13 steps, which was constructed using weathered rocks, slopes down from the ground to the well that served the habitation.
- Two rubble masonry walls measuring 9.30 metres exist on both sides of the steps
- Scientific dating done last year revealed that the well is 2,300 years old
- Water from the well could have been used both for household needs and also for polishing beads and other industrial activities.
Subject: International relations
Context: The European Union implemented the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) or the “Green Passport”, which allows ease of intra-European travel for passengers who have taken one of four vaccines ‘recognised’ by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that excludes Indian-made Covishield and Covaxin
A vaccine passport is an e-certificate that stores and records jabs and Covid-19 test status. It can be kept in a smartphone app or in other digital formats. Its contents can be flashed at security checkpoints when people travel across borders.
Function of Vaccine Passports:
- Will digitise vaccination records across countries.
- Supposed to function as proof that the holder has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and is, therefore, safe.
- It is recognised by all 27 EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway for passengers within Europe, who are bound not to need separate documentation for intra-EU travel.
- The European Union has made it clear that it intends to use these vaccine passports in some measure to differentiate between those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t or have taken ‘unrecognised’ vaccines.
- The WHO held categorically that vaccine passports should not be made mandatory for travel and should be optional, stating that proof of COVID-19 vaccination should not be required as a condition of entry and exit from a country.
- Vaccine passports will restrict passengers from countries that don’t have the same access to vaccines and will increase vaccine inequality
- It also argues that the EU should recognise Covishield as it is no different from other AstraZeneca-licensed vaccines, and more broadly that all Indian-approved vaccines should be given recognition worldwide, and that passengers can be certified via the Co-WIN website.
- Covishield was distributed to 95 countries, mainly low- and middle-income countries of the global South, and the EU action discriminates against all of them.
However, with at least nine countries, including Austria, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland, agreeing to independently make exemptions for Covishield, and Estonia accepting both Covishield and Covaxin.
Subject: International Relations
Context: A suicide bombing attack by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group on a crowded tea shop in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed 10 people and injured dozens
Concept: Al-Shabaab (a terrorist, jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa and Yemen)is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, regularly attacks government and civilian targets in Mogadishu.
Context: Ratings agency ICRA recently postulated that the government had room to cut cess levies on retail prices of petrol and diesel, thereby easing prices. Lower fuel prices will likely help cool inflation levels, which are currently beyond the 6% upper limit specified by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
- The agency projects aggregate revenue from such taxes on these two fuels to expand by about 13% in FY22 from the previous year.
- Tax paid on a litre of petrol, as of June this year, taxes accounted for close to 58% of the price of petrol in Delhi.
- Between May 2014 and June 2021, the Centre’s share of taxes on the retail price of petrol rose 216%, even though the base price of the fuel declined 24%.
- The current fuel prices reflect the higher cesses that have been imposed by the Centre since March 2020 and an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) rates by more than three-fourths of the State governments.
Reason for high tax:
The Centre needs ₹20,000 crore in the current financial year to service the interest and principal related to special oil bonds issued to oil marketing companies (OMCs). These bonds are interest-bearing, having a fixed coupon rate and paid on a half-yearly basis. The annual interest due of around ₹10,000 crore has been provided for in the Budget.
MPC and Fuel prices
- The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) constituted by the Central Government under Section 45ZB of RBI Act determines the policy interest rate required to achieve the inflation target.
- The primary objective of monetary policy is to maintain price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth. Price stability is a necessary precondition to sustainable growth.
- Accordingly, the Central Government has notified in the Official Gazette 4 per cent Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation as the target for the period from August 5, 2016 to March 31, 2021 with the upper tolerance limit of 6 per cent and the lower tolerance limit of 2 per cent
- The RBI has been trying to maintain a growth-supportive stance by retaining an accommodative monetary stance that includes keeping benchmark interest rates substantially low and unchanged in response to the pandemic.
- Monetary policy committee (MPC) has been warning of upside risks to the inflation trajectory from international commodity prices, crude, logistics costs.
The MPC’s prescription
- Excise duties, cess and taxes imposed by the Centre and States need to be adjusted in a coordinated manner to contain input cost pressures emanating from petrol and diesel prices.
- Lower pump prices of the transport fuels would ease some pressure on retail inflation and thus allow the RBI a little more elbow room to continue to keep the cost of borrowings lower. This, in turn, could facilitate more demand for credit to both consume and invest in new business activity, spurring growth.