UPSC Prelims News of 20 January 2023
Spot Bellied Eagle Owl
Context: A team of researchers have stumbled upon a Spot Bellied Eagle Owl (Bubo Nipalensis) for the first time in Seshachalam forest, Andhra Pradesh
- It is also known as forest eagle-owl. It is mostly found on large trees in thick forests and rocky hillsides, and are known for their distinctive spots on their belly.
- Habitat: The bird’s habitat is spread across the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia.
- Prey: The bird feeds on small rodents and lizards.
- Unique features: The bird makes a strange scream similar to humans and it is hence called the ‘Ghost of the Forest’ in India and ‘Devil Bird’ in Sri Lanka.
- IUCN: Least Concerned
- CITES: Appendix II
About Nagarajunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR)
- It is situated in the deciduous Nallamala forests (offshoot of the Eastern Ghats) of Andhra Pradesh.
- It attained the status of a Tiger Reserve in 1983 and is India’s largest Tiger Reserve.
- Two wildlife Sanctuaries, namely Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and Gundla Brahmeswaram Wildlife Sanctuary (GBM) constitute the Tiger Reserve.
- River Krishna traverses through Tiger Reserve.
- Srisailam’s temples and reservoirs are the major attraction for thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit them.
Indian Star Tortoise
Context: A study revealed that the Indian star tortoise faces twin challenges of habitat loss and genetic diversity.
About Indian Star Tortoise:
- Three major populations of the species: the western part and the southern part of India, and in Sri Lanka
- Conservation Status:
- Appendix I of the CITES list.
- Categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN.
- Categorised under Schedule IV of Wild Life Protection Act 1972.
Reasons for Declining Genetic Diversity
- Rampant Illegal Trade: They are one of most traded tortoise species not only across the subcontinent but across South and Southeast Asia.
- Unscientific Translocations: It has resulted in genetic mixing between different populations, posing a challenge in segregating available populations at the genetic level.
- Human-Mediated Habitat Degradation: Increased level of urbanisation and agricultural practices has led to fragmented habitat of the species
- Intensive genetic screening of founder individuals or isolated adult colonies by implementing scientific breeding.
- It would preserve maximum genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding depression.
- Reintroduction of captively bred offspring to the wild to recover the lost heterozygosity.
Context: A recent study held that “hybrid immunity” provides better protection against severe Covid-19, while all immunity against a re-infection wanes within a few months.
What is Hybrid Immunity?
- Hybrid immunity is the immunity gained from a previous infection plus vaccines – either the primary doses or both primary and booster doses.
- The immunological advantage from hybrid immunity arises mostly from memory B cells.
- The study said that a hybrid immunity offers a “higher magnitude and durability” of protection as compared to infection alone, emphasizing the need for vaccination
What are Memory B Cells?
- In immunology, a memory B cell (MBC) is a type of B lymphocyte that forms part of the adaptive immune system.
- B lymphocytes are the cells of the immune system that make antibodies to invade pathogens like viruses.
- They form memory cells that remember the same pathogen for faster antibody production in future infections.
Wolf Warrior Diplomacy
Why in News? China launched a personnel reshuffle on the foreign policy front, indicating a change in its Wolf Warrior Diplomacy.
- Wolf warrior diplomacy is a tactic for the Chinese government to extend its ideology beyond China and counter the West and defend itself.
- It is an unofficial term for the more aggressive and confrontational style of communication that Chinese diplomats have taken to in the last decade.
- A 2015 Chinese action film, titled ‘Wolf Warrior’, and its sequel have served as the inspiration for the term.
- Need for wolf warrior diplomacy:
- The change in strategy is attributed to reasons, such as authoritarian method of President Xi, deteriorating US-China relations under former US President Trump, the Coronavirus origin accusations on China, etc.
- Chinese officials state that the diplomacy is a way to stand up to what they believe is Western interference.
Why in News? Union Minister of Shipping, Waterways and Ports launched an initiative ‘Bharat Pravah – India along its Shores’.
- Bharat Pravah will serve as a common platform to bring together stakeholders from different walks for the purpose of creating a larger vision of shipping, rivers, seas & people.
- It will highlight the challenges, policy issues and future goals relating to the maritime sector.
- The initiative aims to highlight the importance of rivers-ports-shipping in the everyday life of the common man through literature, dialogue and communication.
- The initiative plans to organise a series of regional, national and international events throughout the year around 8 themes.
Why in News? The Secretary, MeitY, has launched the Technology for Air Quality Monitoring System (AI-AQMS v1.0).
- AI-AQMS v1.0 is an outdoor air quality monitoring station to monitor environmental pollutants which includes parameters like PM 1.0, PM 2.5, PM 10.0, SO2, NO2, CO, O2, ambient temperature, relative humidity etc., for continuous air quality analysis of the environment.
- Developed by: Centre for Development of Advanced Computing(C-DAC), Kolkata in collaboration with TeXMIN, ISM, Dhanbad.
- Funded under: National programme on Electronics and ICT applications in Agriculture and Environment (AgriEnIcs).
Advanced Authorization Scheme (AAS)
Why in News? The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has introduced simpler Composition Fee for exporters under AAS.
- Advance Authorisation Scheme allows duty free import of inputs, which are physically incorporated in an export product.
- In addition to any inputs, packaging material, fuel, oil, catalyst which is consumed/utilized in the process of production of export product, is also allowed.
- With the Advance License, import of raw materials/inputs can be instigated at zero customs duty for production of export products.
- The motive is to enhance the competitiveness of Indian products in the global market.
Nature Risk Profile (NRP)
Why in News? The UN Environment Programme and S&P Global have launched the Nature Risk Profile to analyse companies’ impacts and dependencies on nature.
- The Nature Risk Profile is aimed at enabling the financial sector to measure and address nature-related risk by providing scientifically robust and actionable analytics on nature impacts and dependencies.
- The launch of the Nature Risk Profile methodology follows on the heels of the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, in December 2022.
- The potential impact of the Nature Risk Profile methodology is significant, transforming the parameters of financial decision-making.
AK 203 Rifle
Why in News? India and Russia have begun the joint production of AK 203 rifles at a factory in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.
- AK-203 assault rifle is considered to be the latest and most advanced version of the AK-47 rifle.
- It is a 7.62×39mm variant from the AK-100 rifle family (one that offers the AK-74M system, in multiple cartridges and lengths).
- It is expected to replace the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) assault rifle, which are presently being used by Army, Navy and the Air Force besides other security forces.
- It is a type of Kalashnikov rifles, which can work under extreme climatic conditions and are effective even in sand, soil and water.
- It also offers high degree of versatility, adjustability and customizability.