UPSC Prelims News of 1 March 2023
Context: Attukal Pongala festival will soon be celebrated in Kerala.
About Attukal Pongala
- The annual festival is held in Attukal Bhagavathi Temple of Kerala. This temple is dubbed as the Sabarimala for women.
- It is a 10 days event starting on the Karthigai star of the Malayalam month of Makaram or Kumbham.
- Deity: The goddess, Attukal Bhagavathi, is believed to be an incarnation of Kannaki, the main character of the Tamil epic ‘Silappathikaaram’.
- Start: The festival begins with musical rendering of the story of the Goddess (Kannaki Charitam) during the “Kappukettu ceremony”, conducted by the families authorized for this purpose.
- The chief priest of the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple lights the makeshift stove using fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
- The women use this fire for cooking their offering using rice, jaggery and coconut. They use only fresh items for their cooking as only fresh items are offered to god.
Context: Recent estimates have shown that Agrivoltaics Market is expected to generate $9.3 Billion by 2031 a significant jump from $3.6 billion in 2021.
- Agrivoltaics, also known as agrophotovoltaics or solar sharing, is a concept that involves the co-locating of solar panels with agriculture on the same land.
- It is an innovative land-use system that combines solar energy production and crop cultivation in the same space.
- Process: This system involves installing solar panels above the crops or integrating them into the structure of greenhouses.
- Objective: The main idea behind agrivoltaics is to increase land use efficiency by producing both food and renewable energy on the same land.
- Benefits of Agrivoltaics:
- Increased land-use efficiency: Utilizing the same land for both energy and food production results in more efficient land use and minimizes land-use conflicts between food and energy production.
- Improved crop productivity and quality: Solar panels provide shade for crops, reducing heat stress and water loss, which can result in improved crop yields and quality.
- Reduced water usage: The shade provided by solar panels helps to reduce water evaporation from the soil, thus reducing the need for irrigation.
- Lower carbon footprint: Agrivoltaics can reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture by providing renewable energy on-site. This can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional energy production.
- Economic benefits: Agrivoltaic systems can generate income from both energy production and crop cultivation. This can help farmers to diversify their income streams and provide additional revenue.
- Improved soil health: Agrivoltaic systems can help to improve soil health by reducing soil erosion and compaction. The shade provided by solar panels can also help to retain moisture in the soil, promoting healthy soil microbiota.
- Lower energy costs: Agrivoltaic systems can help farmers to lower their energy costs by providing them with on-site renewable energy.
- Limitations: Agrivoltaics also suffer from certain limitations like higher initial cost and maintenance, limited crop selection, land use conflicts etc.
Adopt a Heritage Scheme
Context: The government through the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme anticipates the adoption of 500 protected sites by August 15, and the adoption of another 500 sites shortly thereafter.
About the Scheme:
- ‘Adopt A Heritage; Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan’ scheme was introduced by the Government in order to protect the valuable heritage of the country.
- It was established in 2017 as a collaborative project with the Ministry of Tourism, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Ministry of Culture with the States and UT Govts.
- Selection: Under the scheme, the sites/monument are selected on the basis of tourist footfall and visibility and are adopted by private and public sector companies known as Monument Mitras for an initial period of five years.
- These Monument Mitras are selected by the ‘oversight and vision committee,’ co-chaired by the Tourism Secretary and the Culture Secretary.
- Funding: There is no financial bid involved and the corporate sector is expected to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the upkeep of the site.
- Activities undertaken: The project primarily focuses on providing basic amenities that include cleanliness, public conveniences, drinking water, ease of access for differently abled and senior citizens, standardized signage, illumination and advanced amenities such as surveillance system, night viewing facilities, and an enhanced tourism experience that will result in more tourist footfalls, both domestic and foreign.
- The objectives of the scheme include:
- Providing an enhanced tourism experience for all travellers by developing the destinations into more tourist-friendly.
- Merging with all other partners involved and effectively promoting the idea of responsible tourism.
- Development of basic infrastructure.
- Encouraging and appreciating the cultural and heritage value of our country to generate livelihoods.
- Market heritage factors to promote local arts and other cultural products.
- Creating employment for local communities.
Combined Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI)
Context: The combined Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) has increased by 7.8 per cent in January 2023 as compared to the Index of January 2022.
About the Combined Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI)
- ICI measures combined and individual performance of production of eight core industries viz. Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement and Electricity.
- The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 percent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- The eight core sector industries in decreasing order of their weightage in the IIP: Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.
Index of Industrial Production
- IIP is an indicator that measures the changes in the volume of production of industrial products during a given period.
- It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- Base Year for IIP is 2011-2012.
- It is a composite indicator that measures the growth rate of industry groups classified under:
- Broad sectors, namely, Mining, Manufacturing, and Electricity.
- Use-based sectors, namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods, and Intermediate Goods.
Clean Plant Program
Context: The Union Government is planning to set up 10 ‘Clean Plant Centres’ to boost domestic production of the selected crops.
The Clean Plant Programme
- Programme: The Union Government plans to set up 10 ‘Clean Plant Centres’, on the lines of those in developed countries such as the US, Netherlands and Israel. These centers will be set up under the ‘Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program’.
- It will boost availability of disease-free, quality planting material for high value horticultural crops.
- Funding: The centres will be fully funded by the Union Government.
- Implementation: It will be implemented in a PPP mode in partnership with research organisations, agriculture universities and private sector partners.
- The National Horticulture Board (NHB) will anchor the clean plant programme.
- 10 centres will be established for fruit crops like apple, walnut, almond, grapes, mango, and pomegranate, among others in the next seven years till 2030.
- Significance: The much needed programme will foster disease-free and genuine planting materials for horticultural crops in India.
- The Clean Plant Centres will provide services of disease diagnostic, therapeutics, multiplying of plants and generation of mother plants.
Context: Samples sent from Bengal to the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata have tested positive for adenovirus.
- Adenoviruses are non-enveloped, double-stranded DNA viruses. They were first discovered in the human adenoid tissue.
- Adenoviruses are a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, including the common cold, fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, pink eye, and gastroenteritis.
- Most adenovirus infections are mild, but they can be more severe in people with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease.
- Adenovirus infections can occur throughout the year, but they tend to peak in the winter and early spring.
- Children younger than 5 years old are most commonly affected, and people can get infected more than once due to the many different types of adenoviruses.
- Adenoviruses are highly contagious and can spread from an infected person to others through close contacts, such as touching or shaking hands.
- Infected particles can also transfer through coughing and sneezing.
- Fecal material can also spread the infection through contaminated water, dirty diapers, and poor hand hygiene.
- Currently, there is no specific treatment or approved antiviral medication for adenovirus infections.
- Treatment mainly involves managing the symptoms, which can include rest and taking over-the-counter medications for fever, cough, and sore throat.
Context: Recently, the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush attended the colorful Siang Unying Festival.
- Unying Aran festival is a major festival celebrated by the Adi community of Arunachal Pradesh.
- The festival of Unying is celebrated to herald the season of cultivation, the beginning of the Adi community’s new year, arrival of spring seasons as well as a great way to strengthen the bond among the community.
- In this festival, it is tradition for all male members of a family to go on a hunting and stays in the jungles for a week.
- The majority of Adi traditionally follow the tribal Donyi-Polo religion.
- Worship of gods and goddesses like Kine Nane, Doying Bote, Gumin Soyin and Pedong Nane, etc.
- It is traditionally celebrated with ‘Bari’ songs sung by male elders and ‘Yakjong’ dance performed by youths (boys and girls) in villages.
- Through these performances, they narrate stories of the origin of the festival. Villagers also pray for the well-being of their tribesmen.
Context: The critically endangered Malabar tree toad found in Mollem National Park— has been mentioned in the updated ‘Checklist of Indian Amphibians (2023)’ released by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
- The Malabar tree toad (Pedostibes tuberculosus), or warty Asian tree toad, is a species of toad found in forests along the Western Ghats of great Karnataka or Deccan.
- It is a small species and is found in wet tree hollows or leaf bases containing water.
- They can be sighted only when they descend to the ground at the beginning of the Southwest monsoon to breed in forest streams.
- This endangered species is found across Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
- Threats: deforestation, forest fragmentation, and changing weather patterns due to global climate change.
- It is the only species in the monotypic genus Pedostibes, also known as Asian tree toads.