UPSC Prelims News of 14 November 2022
Himalayan Gray Langur
Context: According to a study, differences in altitude has made Himalayan Gray Langur choose flowers and fruits as food options beyond their staple menu of leaves.
More on the News:
- The study was conducted around the Kalatop-Khajjiar Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh, on two groups concentrated around the area.
- The Kalatop group chose alternative diet by feeding on flowers, and the Khajjiar group ate fruits for a change of taste.
- The preference for fruits or flowers may have depended upon the difference in their distribution in terms of elevation and availability of the particular plant part.
- Significance: Long-term study for a comparison of the diet and behaviour in the forested groups and the urbanised groups will help in specific conservation action for different groups.
About Himalayan Gray Langur:
- Himalayan Gray Langur, also known as Chamba Sacred Langur (Semnopithecus ajax) is a colobine (leaf-eating monkey).
- It is considered an endangered species globally as its population is below 1,500 mature individuals in 15-20 groups.
- Previously, the Himalayan Gray Langur was considered a sub-species of the Bengal Sacred Langur or Hanuman Langur, but it was separated as a species in 2005.
Context: Pakistan’s government is planning to introduce interest-free banking in the country.
About Interest-free Banking:
- Interest free banking is a concept within Islamic Banking that refers to a number of banking operations which avoid interest.
- Riba is the Islamic term for interest charges on loans, covering all interest and not just excessive interest. Under Islamic law, a Muslim is not allowed to pay and accept interest on a predetermined rate.
- Islamic banking is a term that refers to banking activity that conforms to laws and values laid down by Islamic law or Sharia.
- Under Islamic banking, money can only be kept in a bank without interest and cannot be used for speculative trading, gambling, or trading in prohibited commodities such as alcohol or pork.
- Instruments in Islamic banking:
- Ijarah: A bank buys the asset on behalf of the client and allows its usage for a fixed rent. After a mutually decided time, the ownership of the asset is transferred to the client.
- Murabaha: An asset is bought by the bank at a market price and sold to the customer at a mutually-decided marked-up cost. The client can repay in installments.
- Musharaka: An Islamic bank provides funds, which are pooled with the funds of the business enterprise and others. The bank and the client together contribute to the funding of an investment of purchase, and agree to share the profit or loss in certain percentage.
Islamic Banking in India:
- A 2008 committee led by Raghuram Rajan had suggested the need to have interest-free banking in India.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2016 had suggested that Islamic banking could be introduced gradually through the opening of an “Islamic window” in conventional banks.
- However, RBI had later said that it had decided to not pursue the proposal for introducing Islamic banking in the country.
Hypersonic Ballistic Missile
Context: Iran has built its first hypersonic ballistic missile.
More on the News:
- Russia currently leads the race to develop the missiles, followed by China and the United States.
- Russia could acquire Iranian surface-to-surface missiles for use in Ukraine, in addition to drones it’s already bought from Tehran.
- Last week, Iran said it tested the Ghaem 100, its first three-stage space launch vehicle, which would be able to place satellites weighing 80 kg (180 pounds) in an orbit 500 km (300 miles) from the earth’s surface.
About Hypersonic Missiles
- They can fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound and on a complex trajectory, which makes them difficult to intercept.
- Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles fly on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching targets more quickly.
Context: Indian skimmer is seen in huge flocks during winter in Coringa wildlife sanctuary (Kakinada).
The Indian Skimmer:
- About: Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) is a water-bird species.
- A thick, orange-yellow bill with a slightly longer lower mandible (jaw) is one of the most striking features of the Indian skimmer.
- The Indian skimmer grows to a length of 40-43 cm.
- More widespread in winter, the Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India.
- It occurs primarily on larger, sandy, lowland rivers, around lakes and adjacent marshes and, in the non-breeding season, in estuaries and coasts.
- About 20% of the total population of fewer than 2,500 birds nests along the Chambal River.
- Major Threats:
- Degradation of wetland and riverine habitats.
- Excessive and widespread increases in disturbance. The damming of the Chambal River, in upstream Rajasthan, has adversely affected its population at National Chambal Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh, due to the dropping water levels allowing predators and livestock access to breeding islands.
- Predation by corvids like House crows, presence of stray and domestic dogs, has been known to decimate breeding colonies.
- IUCN Red List: Endangered
- CITES: Not Listed
- In 2020, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have initiated a ‘Guardians of the Skimmer’ programme, which is a community-based conservation initiative.