UPSC Prelims News of 10 January 2023
Context: The faint emission of light by the planetary atmosphere causes Airglow, which results in distinct colours in the sky.
- Airglow is a form of chemiluminescence, which is the result of atoms and molecules releasing particular amounts of energy (quanta) in the form of light.
- In the visible light spectrum, oxygen produces green and red light, hydroxyl (OH) molecules produce red light, and sodium produces a sickly yellow.
- Nitrogen, while far more abundant in the air than sodium, does not contribute much to airglow.
- This phenomenon results in the sky not always remaining blue, while at the same time resulting in a glow-in-the-dark night sky with a mix of green, yellow and red.
Aspirational Block Program
Context: The Indian Prime Minister recently launched the government’s Aspirational Block Programme (ABP), which is aimed at improving the performance of blocks lagging on various development parameters.
- Announced during the Union Budget 2022-23, the Aspirational Blocks Programme is on the lines of the Aspirational District Programme that was launched in 2018.
- The vision of the Aspirational Districts Programme is to improve the quality of life of citizens in the most backward districts of the country
- The focus is to improve India’s ranking under the Human Development Index (HDI) and localising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leading to the progress of the nation.
- The current programme will focus on such blocks in those districts, which continue to lag behind in key sectors such as health, nutrition, financial inclusion and basic infrastructure.
- The ABP will take the aspirational district model up to the block level and will enable holistic development in those areas that require added assistance.
- The program will initially cover 500 districts across 31 states and Union Territories, with over half of these blocks, which are in 6 states—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
Context: January 9th is the birth anniversary of Fatima Sheikh, the pioneer of girls’ education in India.
- Fatima was a pioneering teacher, anti-caste activist, supporter of girls’ education, and social reformer in 19th-century Maharashtra.
- She is considered to be India’s first Muslim woman teacher.
- Contributions: Along with Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule, she started the first girls’ school in the country, in spite of strong opposition.
- In 1848, Savitribai, Fatima and Jyotirao opened the first school for girls inside the premises of Fatima’s home in Pune.
- Fatima and Savitribai visited individual families across the town in an attempt to persuade them into enrolling their children.
- In her attempt to educate girls, Fatima faced opposition from orthodox sections of both Hindus and Muslims.
Parshuram Kund Festival
Context: The Prime Minister has spoken about the Parshuram Kund Festival to be held in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The festival is celebrated at Parshuram Kund, located in Wakro in the Lohit district.
- It marks an annual gathering of pilgrims who come for a holy dip at the kund on Makar Sankranti.
- Parshuram Kund: It is situated on the Brahmaputra Plateau in the lower reaches of the Lohit River, within the Kamlang Reserve Forest area.
- It is said to be the place where the sage Parshuram washed away his sins.
- Importance: It is a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus. Every year, the site attracts pilgrims from Nepal and nearby states such as Manipur and Assam.
- Lohit River: Lohit is the Brahmaputra River’s farthest east tributary. The river originates in the Tirap Phasi Ranges of Eastern Tibet and flows for about 200 kilometres from Tibet to Arunachal Pradesh before merging with the Brahmaputra River in Assam.
- The river flows through the red laterite soils of the Lohit Basin, and hence it is given the name “the river of blood”.
Why in News? Kalamandalam Mahendran has trained over a hundred students in Ottanthullal over the years and has helped them perform at various school arts fetes.
- Ottanthullal (or Thullal, in short) is recite-and-dance art-form of Kerala.
- It was introduced in the 18th century by the famous Malayalam poet Kunchan Nambiar.
- Kunchan Nambiar used it as a medium to protest against the prevalent socio-political structure and prejudices of the society in his time. It went on to become the most popular folk art presented in Kerala temples.
- The performer himself sings and plays the story, and another person recites the same verses. The accompanying instruments for Ottanthullal are Mridangam and Idakka.
- Ottanthullal follows the classical principles of Natyasasthra.
Why in News? Archaeologists unearthed several skeletal remains from a cemetery-like burial site at Khatiya village of Kutch.
- The rectangular graves, each of varying dimensions and assembled using stones, contained skeletons that were placed in a specific manner.
- They were oriented east-west with the heads positioned on the eastern side.
- Next to the legs on the western side, the archaeologists found earthen pots and pottery shards and other artefacts, including conch-shell bangles, beads made of stones and terracotta, numerous lithic tools and grinding stones.
- The discovery shed light on the custom and burial rituals that were prevalent during the early Harappan phase.
- “The majority of burial pits had five to six pots.
Ganga Vila’s Cruise
Why in News? Prime Minister will flag off the 51-day luxury Ganga cruise from Varanasi to Dibrugarh, via Bangladesh.
- MV Ganga Vilas is the world’s longest river cruise.
- The cruise ship has three decks and 18 suites, which can house 36 tourists.
- The ship will cover a journey of 3200 km in 50 days and pass through 27 river systems in India and Bangladesh.
- It will give tourists a chance to visit over 50 architecturally important places, including world heritage sites.
- The ship is equipped with pollution-free systems and noise control technology.
Digital India Awards 2022
Why in News? e-NAM, a flagship initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, has won the Platinum Award in the Digital Empowerment of Citizens Category in Digital India Awards 2022.
- Digital India Awards (DIA) has been instituted by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- These awards are instituted under the aegis of the National Portal of India to encourage and honour innovative digital solutions by government entities at all levels.
- DIA 2022 aims to inspire and motivate not only government entities but also startups in fulfilling the Digital India vision.
- The awards were given under seven different categories — Digital Empowerment of Citizens, Public Digital Platforms, Digital Initiatives in Collaboration with Start-ups, Digital Initiatives for ease of doing business, Data sharing and use for socioeconomic development, Digital Initiatives at the Grassroots level, Best Web & Mobile initiatives, etc.
- Platinum, Gold and Silver awards have been given to the winning teams under different categories.
The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS)
Why in News? Recently, ERBS re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Bering Sea, according to a statement from NASA.
- ERBS was a NASA scientific research satellite within NASA’s Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) Research Program, a three-satellite mission.
- ERBS was launched in 1984 aboard the space shuttle Challenger and deactivated in 2005.
- It is designed to investigate the Earth’s radiation budget. It also carried an instrument that studied stratospheric aerosol and gases.
- An instrument on board ERBS, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE II) collected data that confirmed the ozone layer was declining on a global scale.
- Recently, SAGE III on the International Space Station collects data on the health of the ozone layer.
Welfare Board for MGNREGS Pension: Kerala
Why in News? In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Kerala govt. has launched a welfare fund board for the workers registered for the MGNREGS and Kerala govt.’s Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme.
- As per the norm, any worker (age 18-55) can take membership in the fund board.
- They have to pay a monthly premium amount (₹50 tentatively fixed) until the age of 55 and a member who has paid the contribution for at least 10 years will be eligible for a pension.
- The state government and local bodies will give an equal contribution and ₹50 will be deducted from a worker’s salary every month for it.
- They will receive a monthly pension from the board once they turn 60.