UPSC Prelims News of 18 January 2023
Context: NCERT has notified India’s first national assessment regulator, PARAKH.
- PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will work on setting norms, standards and guidelines for student assessment and evaluation for all recognised school boards in the country.
- It has been launched as a part of the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020, which envisaged a standard-setting body to advice school boards.
- Objective: The regulator aims to help all boards to remove disparities in scores of students enrolled with different state boards.
- Assessment areas: PARAKH will work on three major assessment areas: large-scale assessments, school-based assessment, and examination reforms.
- Other functions:
- It will not just conduct future rounds of National Achievement Surveys (NAS) and other surveys on learning outcomes, but also review NAS 2017/2018 and 2021 exercises to identify areas for improvement.
- PARAKH will manage India’s participation in international assessments like the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), or Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).
Context: The population of saltwater crocodiles in the Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas has marginally increased in 2023.
- The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is a species found across saltwater habitats and brackish wetlands of India, Southeast Asia and the Sundaic region to northern Australia and Micronesia.
- They are also known as the estuarine crocodile, Indo-Pacific crocodile, marine crocodile, sea crocodile etc.
- They are the largest crocodile species in the world, and the largest living reptile in the world.
- Protection: It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 1996.
- Threats: Illegal hunting for its skin and habitat loss.
- Bhitarkanika National Park:
- Bhitarkanika is second largest mangrove ecosystem in India after the Sunderbans.
- The National park is made up of a network of creeks and canals which are inundated with waters from rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra and Patasala.
- Bagagahana or the heronry near Surajpore creek is a unique feature of the national park.
Context: Researchers have warned that the Drug-resistant gonorrhoea outbreak in Kenya could be a major fertility threat.
- Pathogen: Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
- Spread: The bacterium spreads through sexual fluids, during intercourse.
- Effects: If untreated, gonorrhoea can cause serious and long-lasting problems, including increased chance of getting HIV, infection in other parts of the body and infertility.
- Treatment: It can be cured using Antibiotics, but the antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhoea have become challenges for successful treatment.
Context: ISRO has said that it is yet to receive approval from the Indian government for the Shukrayaan-1 mission.
- The idea for ISRO’s Venus mission, called Shukrayaan-1, was first born in 2012.
- Instruments: Shukrayaan-1 will be an orbiter mission and its scientific payloads currently include a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and a ground-penetrating radar.
- Mission objective: The mission is expected to study Venus’s geological and volcanic activity, emissions on the ground, wind speed, cloud cover, and other planetary characteristics from an elliptical orbit.
- The optimal launch windows from Earth to Venus come around every eight years. So, should India miss the 2024 opportunity, the 2031 window is considered suitable by the experts.
- Both the NASA and the European Space Agency have Venus missions planned for 2031, namely VERITAS and EnVision, respectively.
Why in News? A rare species of duck, Greater Scaup, was recently sighted in Loktak lake in Manipur’s Bishnupur district after a gap of over 90 years.
- The Greater Scaup is a medium-sized diving duck species that belongs to the family of Anatidae.
- It is locally known as Sadangman.
- The greater scaup species is distributed in Asia, Europe, United States and Canada.
- It is a rare visitor to the Indian Subcontinent.
- Scientific Name: Aythya marila
- IUCN: Least Concerned
Eco Sensitive Zones (ESZ)
Why in News? The creation of eco-sensitive zones has provoked protests in Kerala and some other areas.
- The Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) are areas in India notified by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), around Protected Areas, National Park and Wildlife sanctuaries.
- The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
- They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
- Eco-sensitive Zone could go up to 10 Km around Protected Areas.
- In sensitive corridors, connecting ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, eco sensitive zones can go even beyond 10 Km width.
Grameen Udyami Scheme
Why in News? Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship attended the felicitation programme of 200 tribal women under the Grameen Udyami Scheme.
- Grameen Udyami Scheme was launched to augment skill training in tribal communities for their inclusive and sustainable growth.
- It is a unique multi-skilling project, funded by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) that aims to train 450 tribal students in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
- The project is being implemented in six states— Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Gujarat.
Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary
Why in News? Forest officials of the Katarniaghat division have conceived a plan for the financial inclusion of the Tharu groups.
- The Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the Dudhwa tiger reserve, located in Uttar Pradesh.
- In 1987, it was brought under the purview of the ‘Project Tiger’.
- It provides strategic connectivity between tiger habitats of Dudhwa and Kishanpur in India and the Bardia National Park in Nepal.
- Katarniaghat is home to a wide range of endangered species, including the rhino, Gangetic dolphin, gharial, swamp deer, tiger, white-backed and long-billed vultures and Hispid hare.
- It also covers an area of 400.6 sq km in Terai belt of Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh.
Advance Traffic Management System (ATMS)
Why in News? The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is implementing advance traffic management system to reduce accidents.
- Advanced traffic management system (ATMS) involves a set of intelligently integrated roadside equipment that are connected to ensure a safe and secure journey, including smooth traffic movement and timely reaction to untoward incidents.
- The Advanced Traffic Management System will include:
- Meteorological systems
- Speed detection systems
- Mobile radio communication systems including base and repeater stations etc.
Duty Drawback Scheme
Why in News? According to GST authorities, exporters are misusing the government’s duty drawback scheme.
- Under this scheme, exporters are provided with a refund of customs duty paid on unused imported goods, or goods that will be treated, processed or incorporated into other goods for export.
- Claims must be lodged within 4 years from the date the goods were exported.
- Duty drawback can be only claimed for compensating unrebated taxes and duties, not for GST.