UPSC Prelims News of 11 February 2023
Context: An alleged fossil of Dickinsonia found near Bhimbetka caves has turned out to be an impression of a decayed beehive.
The New Research
- Fossils are generally found parallel to surface of rock strata but this alleged fossil occurs along a curved surface, oblique to the rock strata.
- Fossils usually occur in groups. The occurrence of solitary ‘dickinsonia’ fossil was an uncommon phenomenon, casting doubts on the findings.
- Dickinsonia is one of the world’s earliest multicellular living organisms and was found on the ocean floors around the present day’s Australia, China, Russia, Ukraine in the Ediacaran period—about 500 to 600 million years ago.
- Dickinsonia resembles a bilaterally symmetrical ribbed oval. Its fossils are known only in the form of imprints and casts in sandstone beds.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
- The Bhimbetka rock shelters are UNESCO World Heritage site in Madhya Pradesh that spans Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, showing earliest traces of human life in India.
- They contain prehistoric cave paintings and the earliest are about 10,000 years old, corresponding to the Indian Mesolithic period.
- Present inside the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, these rock shelters are made up of sandstone rocks, in the foothills of the Vindhya Range.
Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)
Context: According to asset managers, Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) could help investors earn extra gains over the large-cap stock market holding.
About Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)
- AIFs refers to any privately pooled investment fund, (whether from Indian or foreign sources), in the form of a trust or a company or a body corporate or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
- AIF does not include funds covered under the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.
- In India, AIFs are defined in Regulation 2(1) (b) of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.
- Benefits from AIFs include:
- High return potential
- Low volatility, as these are not directly linked to the Stock Market.
- Diversification, which acts as a cushion during a crisis.
Spices Board of India
Context: The Spices Board establishes eight crop-specific Spices Parks across the country.
About Spices Park
- Objective: To set up common processing and value-addition facilities including cleaning, sorting, grading, grinding, oil extraction, and packaging of spices for use by the local farmers, traders, exporters, and other stakeholders.
- Board has established 8 new spices parks — 2 Parks in Madhya Pradesh, 2 in Rajasthan, and 1 spices park in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu respectively.
About Spices Board of India
- Spices Board is an autonomous body responsible for the export promotion of the 52 scheduled spices and the development of Cardamom (Small & Large).
- It functions under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
- Headquarters: Cochin, Kerala
- The main functions of the Spices Board are the following:
- Research, Development, and Regulation of domestic marketing of Small & Large Cardamom;
- Post-harvest improvement of all spices;
- Export promotion of all spices and assisting exporters in technology upgradation, quality management, brand promotion, research & product development;
- Development of spices in the North East;
- Regulation of quality of spices for exports through its quality evaluation services
Innovations for Defence Excellence Scheme
Context: The innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework has been launched by the Government of India.
- iDEX aims to create an ecosystem to promote innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace.
- It will attract industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia.
- Nodal Agency: iDEX is funded and managed by Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO).
Objectives of IDEX:
- It facilitates the rapid development of new, indigenized, and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector in shorter timelines.
- It creates a culture of engagement with innovative startups, to encourage co-creation for the defence and aerospace sectors.
Defence Innovation Organization (DIO):
- DIO is a not-for-profit Organisation, incorporated under Section 8 of the Companies Act.
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) & Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) – Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) are the founding members of DIO.
Open Market Disposal Scheme (OMSS)
Context: The Centre has decided to offload 30 lakh metric tons of wheat under Open Market Disposal Scheme (OMSS).
- Under OMSS Scheme, Food Corporation of India (FCI) sells surplus stocks of wheat and rice at predetermined prices through e-auction in the open market from time to time to enhance the supply of food grains.
- The objective of OMSS is to dispose of surplus stocks of wheat and rice held by FCI and to regulate the prices of wheat in the open market.
- FCI conducts weekly auctions for the OMSS for wheat on the platform of the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX).
- Under OMSS, government sells to State Governments, Kendriya Bhandar, National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), State Cooperatives/ Federations etc.
- NCDEX is a commodity exchange platform in India that provides a platform for trading in various agricultural and other commodities.
Competition Commission of India (CCI)
Context: CCI has approved a certain acquisition under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002.
- CCI is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002.
- Formation: On the recommendations of the Raghavan committee, Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002.
- Nature: CCI is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with other cases.
- Composition: One Chairperson and six Members, appointed by the Central Government.
The Competition Act, 2002
- The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations, which causes an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
- In accordance with the provisions of the Amendment Act, the Competition Commission of India and the Competition Appellate Tribunal have been established.
- The government replaced the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in 2017.
Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary
Context: The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department is initiating a series of measures such as Wildlife safari and Nature interpretation centre to develop Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary.
About the Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary
- Location: It is located near Visakhapatnam in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and forms a part of the Eastern Ghats.
- Vegetation: The vegetation in the sanctuary consists of a mix of dry deciduous and tropical forests.
- Fauna: The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of fauna, including panthers, spotted deer, hyenas, and over 200 species of birds.
- Indicator species: The indicator species of the sanctuary is the Indian leopard.
- Types of soils: The soils in the region are typically red lateritic soils, which are rich in iron and aluminium oxides.
Context: Budget 2022-23 has allocated around Rs 100 crores for the NAMASTE scheme.
About the Scheme:
- NAMASTE stands for National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem.
- It is a scheme launched by the government to promote the adoption of mechanized sanitation systems and to develop a sustainable ecosystem for waste management.
- The scheme aims to encourage the use of modern and environmentally friendly technologies in the field of waste management and to create a cleaner and healthier environment.
- Under the NAMASTE scheme, the government provides financial and technical support to urban local bodies, waste management companies, and other stakeholders to promote the adoption of modern waste management technologies and practices. This includes
- Installation of automated waste collection and processing systems,
- Development of waste-to-energy plants, and
- Implementation of waste segregation and composting programs.
- The goal of the NAMASTE scheme is to create a comprehensive and integrated waste management system that is efficient, safe, and sustainable, and to promote public-private partnerships in the field of waste management.
Dawoodi Bohra Community
Context: The long-pending challenge to the practice of excommunication in the Dawoodi Bohra community has been referred to a 9-judge Bench of the Supreme Court.
About the Dawoodi Bohra Community
- The Dawoodi Bohras are Shia Muslims whose leader is known as the Al-Dai-Al-Mutlaq.
- According to members of the community, there are around 1 million Dawoodi Bohras spread around the world.
- For over 400 years, the leader of the community has been based in India, including the current and 53rd leader, His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.
- The leader of the community is recognized by the members as having the right to excommunicate its members.
- In practical terms, excommunication means not being allowed to access a mosque belonging to the community or a burial dedicated to the community.