UPSC Prelims News of 27 January 2023
Context: A 2016 study reported that a fifth of India’s people experience skyglow that would keep the Milky Way galaxy out of sight.
- Skyglow is the artificial brightening of the night sky due to human-created light scattering in the atmosphere and returning to Earth.
- Astronomers are particularly concerned with sky glow pollution as it reduces their ability to view celestial objects.
- More than 80% of the world’s population live under sky glow, and sky glow caused by anthropogenic activities is one of the most pervasive forms of light pollution.
- Impacts of Skyglow include:
- Nocturnal light interrupts sleep and confuses the circadian rhythm, and further affects physiological processes in nearly all living organisms.
- Increased amount of light at night lowers melatonin production, which results in sleep deprivation, fatigue, headaches, stress, anxiety, and other health problems.
- Impact on animal behaviours, such as migration patterns, wake-sleep habits, and habitat formation.
- In pursuance of the issue, the district administration of Ladakh has designated six hamlets within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary as “dark-sky reserve” – an area whose skies are free of light pollution.
Noble’s Helen Butterfly
Context: The butterfly enthusiasts have recorded the “extremely rare” butterfly known as Noble’s Helen (Papilionoblei) from three locations in the Namdapha National Park of Arunachal Pradesh.
- Noble’s Helen – a swallowtail butterfly disappearing from its previously known ranges from Myanmar and southern China to Vietnam has been recorded for the first time in India.
- The species closest to the Papilioantonio from the Philippines and characterised by a much larger dorsal white spot was once common in the montane forest at moderate elevations in northern Thailand.
- Butterflies are considered vital indicators representing the state of biodiversity and key ecosystem functions.
Namdapha National Park
- The Namdapha National Park is located in the northeastern region of India, in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh state and is the perfect Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot.
- The area is also known for its extensive Dipterocarp forests among the last great remote wilderness areas of Asia.
- Also, the park features tropical moist forests to Montane forests, temperate forests to Alpine meadows and perennial snow, with an increase in altitude.
- Namdapha and its adjoining areas is flanked by the Patkai hills to the south and south-east and by the Himalayas in the north and lie close to the Indo-Myanmar-China tri-junction
Agri Commodity Trade
Context: SEBI recently suspended futures trading in seven agricultural commodities and their derivatives on the exchanges.
- The commodities include wheat, paddy (non-basmati), moong, chana, soyabean, mustard seed and palm oil.
- Agri commodity trading is an agreement to purchase or sell a specified quantity of a particular agricultural commodity at predetermined prices on a future date.
- Agricultural commodities like cotton, paddy, soyabean, soya oil, mustard seed, etc., are traded on the National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) and the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX).
- Derivatives are short-term financial contracts that are bought and sold in the market. Profits are made in the derivatives trade by predicting the price movements of the asset that underlies the contract. The derivatives trade can be in futures and options.
- In a futures contract, a supplier pledges to sell a certain quantity at a fixed price at a future date. Also, farmers can put fixed amounts of their produce, which fits the quality standards of the exchange, to be sold at a fixed price — almost like price insurance.
- Both contracts can be exited by either the producer or the trader by paying a margin price to the exchange.
Context: The Sankhya Sagar lake in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district has virtually disappeared under a thick layer of Water Hyacinth.
- The Sankhya Sagar lake helps maintain the ecological balance of the Madhav National Park and is a Ramsar site.
- The northern side of the water body is a hilly area and several minor drains join it. The Maniyar river connects the Sankhya Sagar to another lake, Jadhav Sagar.
- The lake has a mix of riverine and palustrine (marsh) habitats. It is home to migratory birds during the winter seasons. It is also home to marsh crocodiles.
- Water Hyacinth:
- Scientifically known as Pontederia crassipes, water hyacinth is an invasive species native to South America. The plant has naturalised itself in many other parts of the world.
- Being a prolific spreader, it covers the entire surface of a water body and does not allow sunlight to penetrate the water and also starts depleting oxygen.
- This leads to the death of aquatic animals and plants, which in turn decompose and further reduce oxygen levels.
- Despite being considered an invasive species, it acts as a water purifier by removing heavy metals from water when present in small quantities.
Kyasanur Forest Disease
Why in News? This year’s first case of Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) was detected at Halasoor near Balehonnur in the Chikkamagaluru district recently.
- It is caused by a virus belonging to the family Flaviviridae, which also includes yellow fever and dengue fever, and primarily affects humans and monkeys.
- The vector for disease transmission is Haemaphysalisspinigera, a forest tick. Humans contract infection from the bite of nymphs of the tick.
- The disease is endemic to South Asia.
- It was first identified in 1957 in a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest in Karnataka.
- Symptoms: chills, frontal headache, body ache, and high fever for five to 12 days with a case fatality rate of 3 to 5%.
- Diagnosis can be made in the early stage of illness by molecular detection by PCR or virus isolation from blood.
- Later, serologic testing using Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Serologic Assay (ELISA) can be performed.
- There is no specific treatment for monkey fever.
Methanol Blended Diesel
Why in News? Recently,Low Carbon Cruise on Mahabahu Brahmaputra’ was flagged off by Union Petroleum Minister.
About Methanol Blending:
- Methanol is a low-carbon hydrogen carrier fuel produced from high ash coal, agricultural residue, CO2 from thermal power plants and natural gas.
- Although slightly lower in energy content than petrol and diesel, methanol can replace both these fuels in the transport sector (road, rail and marine), energy sector and retail cooking.
- Blending 15% methanol in gasoline can result in at least a 15% reduction in the import of gasoline/crude oil.
- In addition, this would bring down GHG emissions by 20% in terms of particulate matter, NOx, and SOx, thereby improving urban air quality.
- Methanol is a cost-effective alternative marine fuel.
Why in News? Government has made it mandatory for Nidhi companies to inform the authority about changes in control of the organisation.
- Nidhi Company is a type of Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) formed with the primary object of inculcating saving habits among its members and works on the principle of mutual benefit.
- They don’t require a license from RBI, but RBI can issue directions to them on deposit-taking activities.
- Registered under the Companies Act, they are regulated by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for operational matters.
- They are controlled by Nidhi Rules, 2014.
- Nidhi Company can’t deal with chit funds, hire-purchase finance, leasing finance, insurance or securities business.
Why in News? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) moved Doomsday clock to 90 seconds to midnight largely because of mounting nuclear warfare in Ukraine.
- BAS was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and the University of Chicago scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb.
- Doomsday Clock, created in 1947, is a design that warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.
- Since its debut, the minute hand has been reset 25 times.
- The furthest the clock has been set was 17 minutes to midnight, in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Why in News? A Supreme Court panel has questioned the need to revive oil palm plantations in Andamans as a similar move in the past has proven to be a total commercial failure.
- Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of the oil palms.
- Requires evenly distributed rainfall of 150mm/ month and humidity of more than 80%.
- It is resistant tooxidation and so can give products a longer shelf-life; it’s stable at high temperatures.
- Hence, the oil is used in food manufacturing, in beauty products, and biofuel.
- The government launched National Mission on Edible Oils (Oil Palm) in 2021-22 with a special focus on North-eastern States and Andaman & Nicobar.
Why in News? Recently, The Department of Health and Family Welfare has initiated ‘Tele Manas’, a teleconsultation service, to address mental health issues.
- Its objective is to provide free tele-mental health services all over the country round the clock, particularly catering to people in remote or under-served areas.
- NIMHANS is the nodal centre and International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) providing technical support.
- Tele-MANAS will be organised in two-tier system.
- Presently there are 5 regional coordination centres along with 51 State/UT Tele MANAS cells.