UPSC Prelims News of 14 March 2023
Context: The Elephant Whisperers, which won an Oscar for the Best documentary, depicts the story of Kattunayakan tribe of the Western Ghats.
- Kattunayakan (Kattunayakar), is one of the 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) of India and can mainly be found in parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala (Nilgiris and surrounding region).
- They are also known by different names like Jenu (honey) Kurumbas and Thenu (honey) Kurumbas in different regions because of their expertise in collection of honey.
- They are designated scheduled tribe in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
- Origin of name: They get their name from the words ‘kadu’ (forests) and ‘nayakan’ (leader/chief) depicting that they are the lords of the forest.
- Economic activity: The tribe has traditionally been hunter-gatherers. They are also engaged in other economic activities such as fishing, trapping small birds and animals, and occasional farm labour.
- They also cultivate little ginger, coffee, pepper, tapioca and yam around their houses but are generally not identified as cultivators. Kattunayakans are experts in basketry.
- Language: They speak the Kattunayakan language which is also called as nama basha (our language) by them. It is basically of the South Dravidian origin.
- The language contains elements of Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil.
- Habitation: The settlements are known as padi and a single hut in a settlement is called manai.
- Social structure: Kattunayakans are patrilineal and trace their descent through male line. Monogamy is generally practiced among the Kattunayakans.
- Religious affiliation: They generally believe in Hinduism and their main deity is Lord Shiva and Nayakkar under the name of Bhairava.
- They also practice animism that includes worship of animals, birds, trees, rock hillocks, and snakes.
- PVTGs are the most vulnerable categories among tribal groups.
- Criteria: They have declining or stagnant population, low literacy level, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward.
- Status: PVTGs inhabit isolated, remote and difficult areas in small and scattered hamlets/ habitats.
- Distribution: 75 such groups of tribals in 18 States and 1 Union Territory have been identified and categorised as PVTGs.
- Other facts: Odisha has the highest number of PVTGs in India while there is no population in the states of Punjab and Haryana.
- Sahariya has the highest population while Sentinelese and Andamanese have a very small population among all PVTGs.
- In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups. In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
IREDA gets IFC Status
Context: RBI has granted Infrastructure Finance Company (IFC) status to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).
Understanding the News
- Granting the IFC status is recognition of IREDA’s 36 years of infrastructure financing and development with focused development of Renewable Energy.
- Significance of status:
- IREDA will be able to take higher exposure in RE financing with IFC status.
- The IFC status will help the company to access wider base of investors for mobilizing fund, resulting in competitive rates for fund raising.
- The recognition will boost the investors’ confidence, enhance the brand value, and generate positive response in the market.
- The status will help reach GoI’s target of 500 GW installed capacity of non-fossil fuels by 2030.
- IREDA is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). IREDA was notified under the Companies Act, 1956.
- It is responsible for promoting, developing and financing new and renewable sources of energy since 1987. Its motto is: “Energy for Ever”.
- Activities undertaken: It finances all RE technologies and value chain such as solar, hydro, wind, bio-energy, waste-to-energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility, battery storage, biofuel and new and emerging technologies.
Infrastructure Finance Company (IFC)
- IFC is a non-deposit accepting loan company (NBFC). It can indulge in sectors such as transport, energy, water and sanitation, communication and Social and Commercial Infrastructure.
- It must be compliant with following conditions:
- A minimum of 75 per cent of the IFCs total assets should be deployed in infrastructure loans;
- The minimum net worth of the company must be Rs 300 crore,
- The CRAR (Capital to Risk (Weighted) Assets Ratio) of the company should be at 15% with Tier I capital at 10%
- The minimum credit rating of the company should be at ‘A’ or equivalent of accrediting rating agencies.
India’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP)
- Overall Growth of Industrial Sector:
- India’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP) increased by 5.2% in January 2023, after two months of contraction.
- Rise in IIP is almost twice the 2.6% growth averaged in the previous quarter, and a 4.7% improvement from December 2022.
- Industry is pointing to a slower rebound in lower-income and rural segments, despite the official denial of a K-shaped recovery.
- Sectoral Analysis:
- Gross-Value Added (GVA) in the economy by the manufacturing sector shrank 3.6% in July to September 2022 and 1.1% in October to December 2022.
- Manufacturing rose 3.7%, but 10 of 23 tracked sub-sectors recorded contractions in output and five of those slipped more than 10% from January 2022 levels.
- Double-digit growth in electricity and capital goods lifted the IIP, aided by a 9.6% rise in primary goods and an 8%-odd rise in mining and infrastructure goods.
- Seven sectors have clocked output declines over the first 10 months of 2022-23, including electrical equipment, computers, pharma, textiles, apparel, and leather.
- Weakening global demand is hurting factory order books, and hawkish monetary policy outlook in critical markets for Indian exporters do not augur well.
- Consumer durables output shrank sharply year-on-year for the second successive month, almost 15% below pre-COVID levels.
- Non-durable consumption items grew 6.2%, the slowest pace in three months, with total output this year still below 2021-22 levels.
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.
Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
Context: Indian Documentary, ‘The Elephant Whisperers‘, which is a story of young orphaned elephant in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, has won an Oscar award.
About Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
- Location: The Mudumalai National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the north-western side of the Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains), in Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu
- The National Park shares its boundaries with the states of Karnataka and Kerala, and the sanctuary is divided into 5 ranges – Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.
- Protection: In 2007, it was declared as a Tiger Reserve, under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, to conserve the country’s dwindling Tiger populations.
- Flora and fauna: The protected area is an ideal home to several endangered and vulnerable species nestling Indian elephant, Tiger, Gaur and Indian Leopard.
- The major types of forest in the sanctuary include tropical moist deciduous forest in the west, tropical dry deciduous forest in its middle and southern tropical dry thorn forests in the east.
- The largest land mammal on the Asian continent inhabit dry to wet forest and grassland habitats across 13 range countries spanning South and Southeast Asia.
- Conservation status:
- IUCN Red List: Endangered
- CITES: Appendix I
- Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO)
Context: The Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO) has been studying the Sun for well over a century, taking photos of sunspots and documenting changes in its behaviour.
- The astronomer Norman Pogson, who was appointed Government Astronomer of the Madras Observatory in 1861, was the one who originally suggested shooting photos of the Sun with a 20-inch telescope.
- In 1786, a British East India Company official founded the Madras Observatory as a personal project. The observatory was later run by the corporation.
- Finally, a solar observatory was decided to be built in 1893, and Kodaikanal was selected because of its high altitude and clean surroundings.
- Kodaikanal received personnel and tools from the existing Madras Observatory. The Solar Physics Observatory, subsequently known as KoSO, was founded in 1899.
Current Research Interests at the Observatory
- Observations and analysis of the morphological changes occurring in active zones, as well as their connection to transitory events like solar flares.
- Vector magnetic field measurement, Equatorial ionosphere’s structure, dynamics, and reaction to solar and planetary variability.
- Research is being done on the equatorial electrojet, as well as the structure, dynamics, and reaction of the equatorial ionosphere to solar and planetary variability.
- The World Meteorological Organization and the India Meteorological Department receives hourly observations of the surface temperature, pressure, and rainfall for use in weather forecasting and atmospheric science research.
Context: Scientists from the University of Rochester have claimed that they have created a material that achieves superconductivity at room temperature.
More on the News
- They describe a compound called nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride (NDLH).
- It exhibits superconductivity at about 21°C and 10 kilobars of pressure.
- Superconductivity was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, a Dutch physicist, and his team in 1911.
- Onnes found that mercury has zero electrical resistance at 4.12 degrees Kelvin (°K) (about –269°C).
- Superconductors carry electricity with essentially zero electrical resistance and possess the ability known as the Meissner effect that ensures zero magnetic field inside the material.
Advantage of Superconductivity
- Transmission of Electricity at Zero Loss: A portion of the electricity generated at every power plant is lost during transmission because the wires and cables that carry the current have electrical resistance.
- If one can make cables of superconductors, electric energy transport would become more efficient, because transmission loss would come down to a very low range.
- Use of superconductors in chips could bring greater efficiency to computers used by data firms, which currently generate large amounts of heat.
- Superconductors can be made to expel magnetic flux, something that is used in MRI devices and the MagLev (short for magnetic levitation) trains in China.