UPSC Prelims News of 17 January 2023
Invasive Tree Species of Delhi
Context: Invasive tree species such as vilayati kikar (prosopis juliflora), subabul (leucaena leucocephala) and eucalyptus are growing rapidly in Delhi.
- These tree species are invasive and multiplying rapidly, crowding out native species and their symbiotic flora and fauna.
- Vilayati kikar is a Mexican invasive species introduced by the British in the 1930s in Delhi. It forms nearly 70% of all trees in the ridge at present.
- Subabul also comes from Mexico and was introduced by the forest department for fuel and fodder, but has grown too rapidly.
- Eucalyptus tree came from Australia and is not much invasive in nature, but uses a lot of water as it is a fast-growing tree.
- Issues due to invasive species:
- Groundwater depletion: Vilayati kikar and eucalyptus require large amounts of water. They deplete groundwater very fast.
- Kill native species: These invasive trees do not allow native species to grow around it through allelopathic effects (releasing compounds which make it difficult for other native species to grow nearby).
Context: The authorities of Jammu and Kashmir have issued warning of avalanche with a low level of danger in 11 districts.
What are Avalanches?
- Avalanche is a rapid flow of snow down a hill or mountainside.
- Causes of Avalanches:
- Snowpack: An unstable snowpack is the primary cause of avalanches. When new snowfall is not well bonded to the existing snow, it can create a weak layer that can easily slide off.
- Weather: Heavy snowfall, high winds, and rapid warming can all contribute to creating unstable snow conditions.
- Terrain: Steep slopes, rocky outcroppings, and gullies can all act as triggers for avalanches by providing a slope for snow to slide down.
- Human activity: Many avalanches are triggered by human activity such as skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Vibrations caused by these activities can destabilize the snowpack and cause an avalanche.
- Geology: Avalanches can also be triggered by geological factors such as rockfall, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.
- Types of Avalanches:
- Slab avalanches: Made of tightly packed snow, triggered by a collapse of an underlying weak snow layer.
- Sluff avalanches: Occur when the weak layer of a snowpack is on the top (Sluffs are much less dangerous than slabavalanches).
- Cornices: They are overhanging masses of wind-deposited snow that protrude from sharp terrain features like ridges or peaks.
- Powder snow avalanches: Where snow grains are largely or completely suspended and moved by air in a state of fluid turbulence.
- Avalanches are most common in the mountainous regions of India, especially in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
Context: The Prime Minister of India recently addressed the first batch of Agniveers of the three Services.
About Agnipath Scheme
- The Agnipath scheme was announced by the Centre in 2022, for recruitment of soldiers in the three branches of the armed forces, on a short-term basis.
- Under the scheme, youth between 17.5 to 23 years of age will be enrolled on an ‘All-India All-Class’ basis as soldiers for four years, who will be known as Agniveers.
- The required educational qualification will be Class 10-12, depending on the service and assigned role.
- Further, they will not be eligible for any pensionary benefit under the scheme.
- Agniveers will be provided non-contributory life insurance cover of Rs 48 lakh during their service in the armed forces.
- After four years of service is completed, 25% of Agniveers will be selected on an objective basis to the armed forces, while adequate re-employment opportunities will be created for the rest 75%.
Context: The Indian Prime Minister paid homage to Thiruvalluvar on Thiruvalluvar Day, and recalled his noble thoughts.
- Thiruvalluvar Day is usually celebrated either on the 15th or 16th of January in the state of Tamil Nadu, and is named after the poet Thiruvalluvar.
- Thiruvalluvar was a renowned philosopher and poet who was said to have lived in the 4th century BCE.
- His contribution to Tamil literature is immense, which is echoed through his works that continue to inspire people to this day.
- He is best known for penning Thirukkural, which is a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economic matters, and love.
- People in Tamil Nadu revere his work and celebrate his literary contribution by recognizing him as a Tamil scholar.
Why in News? The 21st Edition of the Bilateral Naval Exercise between India and France – Exercise Varuna commenced on the Western Seaboard.
- The Indian and French Navies have been conducting bilateral maritime exercises since 1993.
- Since 2001, these exercises have been called ‘VARUNA’. This is an annual event.
- The exercise facilitates operational level interaction between the two navies to foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea, underscoring the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety and freedom of the global maritime commons.
- Other Indo-French Joint Exercises:
- Desert Knight-21 and Garuda (Air exercise)
- Shakti (Army exercise)
Financial Services Institutions Bureau (FSIB)
Why in News? FSIB has recommended MDs for Bank of Baroda and Bank of India.
- It’s a government body set up under the Department of Financial Services.
- It replaced the Bank Board’s Bureau (BBB) which was declared an incompetent authority.
- FSIB would be headed by a chairman, a central government nominee.
- The final decision on the FSIB recommendation would be taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.
Functions of FSIB:
- To identify manpower capabilities and ensure proper selection of talent for senior positions at financial institutions owned by the government.
- It is entrusted with making recommendations for the appointment of full-time directors and non-executive chairman of state-run financial services institutions.
- Monitor and assess the performance of public sector banks, government-owned financial institutions and insurance companies.
Business Confidence Index
Why in News? The latest CII Business Confidence Index for the October-December quarter rebounded to its highest reading in almost two years.
- This business confidence indicator provides information on future developments, based upon opinion surveys on developments in production, orders and stocks of finished goods in the industry sector.
- It can be used to monitor output growth and to anticipate turning points in economic activity.
- Numbers above 100 suggest an increased confidence in near future business performance, and numbers below 100 indicate pessimism towards future performance.
Doppler Weather Radar Network
Why in News? The Doppler weather radar network will cover the entire country by 2025 for more accurate forecasts related to extreme weather events.
- On the Occasion of 148th Foundation Day of India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Minister of Earth Science has inaugurated the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) Systems in Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
Doppler weather Radar Network:
- Doppler radar is a specialized tracking system that uses the Doppler Effect to track weather conditions and calculate information about the location and velocity of a storm or other forms of extreme weather events.
- Doppler Weather Radars have the equipment to measure rainfall intensity, wind shear and velocity and locate a storm centre and the direction of a tornado or gust front.
- Accuracy has increased by about 20-40% for different severe weather events forecast during last five years.
Why in News? Tamil Nadu CM urged citizens of the state to draw a kolam of ‘Tamil Nadu Vazhga’ in front of their houses to welcome the first day of Tamil month Thai.
- Kolam is a form of drawing that is drawn using rice flour, chalk, chalk powder or rock powder, often using naturally or synthetically coloured powders, in southern Indian states.
- It is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots.
- Kolams are thought to bring prosperity to homes.
- Though not as flamboyant as its other Indian contemporary, Rangoli, which is extremely colourful, the Kolam is all about symmetry, precision, and complexity.
Why in News? Most net-zero emission (NZE) routes for steel and cement production are not yet commercially available, according to a new report.
- Green Steel is the manufacturing of steel without the use of fossil fuels.
- This can be done using low-carbon energy sources such as hydrogen, coal gasification, or electricity instead of the traditional carbon-intensive manufacturing route of coal-fired plants.
- It eventually lowers greenhouse gas emissions, cuts cost and improves the quality of steel.