UPSC Prelims News of 21 January 2023
Context: Many social media posts of individuals are being accused of getting ‘shadow banned’.
- Shadow banning refers to the perception that social media companies are taking stealth actions to limit a post’s visibility.
- Origin of the term:
- The term traces back to 2012, when Reddit users accused the platform of banning a link to a Gawker article while publicly championing transparency.
- The meaning of the term has evolved over time. Now, the term is used to describe general discontent about not getting the required attention on social media, even if they don’t necessarily think a platform has engaged in any clandestine moderation.
- Legality of shadow banning:
- Private companies have the freedom to make their own rules about content moderation, but for users of the platform, true shadow bans enforce unarticulated rules secretly.
- Through shadow, ban companies avoid taking responsibility for moderating content while quietly manipulating its flow.
Superconductivity in Mercury
Context: More than a century after discovery of superconductivity in mercury, scientists have been able to understand mechanism behind it.
- Previously, mercury was classified as a conventional superconductor, which could be explained by the concepts of Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory. This could not be explained in Mercury.
- The BCS Theory: In BCS theory, superconductivity takes place in three steps:
- First, an electron exerts an “impulsive force” on the lattice.
- Second, the atomic lattice releases vibrational energy when its atoms oscillate in their positions; these packets are called ‘phonons’.
- Third, the force exerted by phonons encourages electrons to overcome their mutual repulsion and pair up (over a relatively large distance).
- These electron pairs move through the material, making the material superconductor.
- The researchers found that certain previously excluded factors allowed their estimates to improve significantly. One was spin-orbit coupling (SOC).
- SOC is the way an electron’s energy is affected by the relationship between its spin and its momentum.
- Another factor was the Coulomb repulsion between two electrons in each pair.
- In mercury, one electron in each pair occupied a higher energy level than the other, which reduced the Coulomb repulsion and nurtured superconductivity.
- Superconductivity in solid materials is the complete disappearance of electrical resistance when they are cooled below a characteristic temperature.
Poompuhar- The Lost City
Context: Recent studies have found traces of an ancient port city of Poompuhar buried undersea, in Mayiladuthurai district of Tamil Nadu (TN).
- It is also known as Kaveripoompattinam and there are references to this in the Tamil epic Manimekalai.
- City was established initially in the Cauvery Delta, about 30km away from the present town around 15,000 years ago.
- The city was spread over about 250 sq. km, complete with a huge harbour, a lighthouse, ship and dockyards, and settlements.
- It had maritime trade links with South East Asia and Egypt,
- City was submerged due to “kadalkol” or rising sea levels. However, the reasons and periods of its extinction remain unresolved.
- Several geological features indicate that the Poompuhar region was prone to floods, tsunamis and accelerated impact of sea level rise and cyclone-induced surges.
- The port city had probably been relocated and rebuilt repeatedly owing to such natural occurrences.
- The seventh redevelopment was probably about 2,500 years ago and it might have submerged due to rise in sea level about 1,020 years ago.
- Reconstruction of Poompuhar is part of Indian Digital Heritage project
- India Digital Heritage is a unique initiative to support collaborative projects between researchers in the areas of Technology and Humanities for digital documentation and interpretation of our tangible and intangible heritage.
Context: Kerala State government has issued orders that May 17 be celebrated as Kudumbashree Day every year.
- Kudumbashree is the Kerala State Poverty Eradication Mission, and was launched on 17th May 1998.
- Mission was launched with the active support of Government of India and NABARD.
- Mission Aim: To eradicate absolute poverty within a definite time frame of 10 years under the leadership of Local Self Governments formed and empowered by the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India.
- It is a women empowerment programme implemented by the State Poverty Eradication Mission (SPEM) of the Government of Kerala.
- Kudumbashree in Malayalam means ‘prosperity of the family’.
- Organisation Structure: Kudumbashree has a three-tier structure for its women community network, with
- Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) at the lowest level.
- Area Development Societies (ADS) at the middle level.
- Community Development Societies (CDS) at the local government level.
- Recognition: In 2011, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India recognised Kudumbashree as the State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).
Saansad Khel Mahakumbh
Why in News? The Prime Minister inaugurated the second phase of Saansad Khel Mahakumbh 2022-23.
- The Khel Mahakumbh organises various competitions in both indoor and outdoor sports like wrestling, kabaddi, kho kho, basketball, football, hockey, volleyball, handball, chess, carrom, badminton, table tennis etc.
- Apart from these, competitions in essay writing, painting, rangoli making etc are also organised during the Khel Mahakumbh.
- Saansad Khel Mahakumbh has been organised in Basti district by the Member of Parliament from Basti since 2021.
- The Khel Mahakumbh is a novel initiative that provides an opportunity and a platform for the youth of district Basti and neighbouring areas to showcase their sporting talent and motivates them to take sport as a career option.
Why in News? Families in the coastal pockets of Odisha‘s Ganjam district have been eking out a living by preparing aromatic kewda oil for years.
- Ganjam kewda (Pandanus fascicularis) oil is steam-distilled from the flower of the aromatic screwpine plant.
- It is registered under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 by the Government of India.
- It is used as an aromatic in the food industry, flavoured tobacco and pharmaceutical companies among others.
- Its oil is produced in Ganjam, Chatrapur, Chikiti and Rangeilunda blocks of the district.
- An oil maker needs 30,000 flowers to extract a litre of kewda oil.
Why in News? The sale of the 25th tranche of electoral bonds has started.
- The electoral bonds system was introduced in 2017 by way of a money bill introducing amendments in the Finance Act and the Representation of People Act.
- State Bank of India is the only bank authorised to sell electoral bonds.
- Electoral bonds are purchased anonymously by donors and are valid for 15 days from the date of issue.
- As debt instruments, these can be bought by donors from a bank, and the political party can then encash them.
- No payment shall be made to any political party if the electoral bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period of 15 days.
- The electoral bonds are issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
Why in News? Prime Minister symbolically distributed Hakku Patra (land title deeds) to five families of the Banjara (Lambani) community.
- Lambanis, also called Lambadis or Banjaras, were nomadic tribes found in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
- Karnataka has the second highest population of Lambanis (Banjaras) in the country, who are considered among 101 sub-castes that have been recognised as Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the State.
Why in News? The Prime Minister has greeted the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on their Raising Day.
- NDRF stands for National Disaster Response Force, and it comes under Ministry of Home Affairs.
- It is the only dedicated disaster response force in the world.
- Head Quarters: New Delhi
- It works under National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which lays down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.
- At present there are 12 battalions in NDRF which are deployed strategically across country to provide immediate response.
- 4 new battalions are sanctioned by Union Cabinet.
Rare Dinosaur Eggs
Why in News? A group of Indian researchers found rare cases of fossilized dinosaur eggs within an egg from the Narmada Valley.
- The study found that no other dinosaurs or even other reptiles have been known to possess the distinctive trait of an egg within an egg.
- Birds also have two yolks in their eggs, indicating that they have similar reproductive characteristics.
- 92 nesting sites with 265 fossilized eggs, were uncovered by the researchers between 2017 and 2020 while conducting investigations in the Madhya Pradesh region of Dhar.
- This area is located between the westernmost Lameta exposures in the lower Narmada Valley at Balasinor and the easternmost Lameta exposures at Jabalpur in the upper Narmada Valley (central India).