UPSC Prelims News of 7 January 2023
In News: The number of bird species in Assam’s Deepor Beel Ramsar Site has witnessed a rise.
- Deepor Beel is a perennial freshwater lake located 10 km southwest of Guwahati city. It is located in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River.
- Hydrology: The Kalmani and Basistha rivers along with local monsoon runoff are the main water sources for Deepor Beel.
- Flora and fauna: Asian elephants, leopards, jungle cats, barking deer, Chinese porcupines and sambar are some of the fauna found in the beel.
- Flora of the beel mainly consists of aquatic species such as water Lily and water hyacinth.
- Significance: The wetland sustains over 200 species of birds. It has been selected as one of the Important Bird Area (IBA) sites by Birdlife International.
- The lake wetland is the source of livelihood for fishing communities.
- It acts as a natural storm-water reservoir basin for Guwahati.
- Contamination caused due to garbage dumps from nearby Guwahati city.
- Unplanned urbanization and encroachment are reducing the wetland area.
- Feeder river channels are vanishing, resulting in siltation.
- Invasive plant species have affected the survivability of local species.
- Ramsar Site: Ramsar Site is a designation for wetlands of international importance that qualify under the criteria of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for containing representative, rare or unique wetland types or for their importance in conserving biological diversity.
Context: Mt Kilauea of Hawaii began erupting inside its summit crater.
- Mt Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes located along the southeastern shore of the Big Island of Hawaii. It last erupted in September 2021.
- It is the second youngest volcano in the Hawaiian – Emperor Seamount chain.
- Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain is a chain of shield volcanoes and seamounts extending from Hawaii to the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench in Russia.
- Formation: The volcano was formed as the Pacific tectonic plate moved over the Hawaii hotspot in the Earth’s underlying mantle.
- Historically, it is the most active of the five volcanoes that together form Hawaii Island.
- Type: It is an active shield volcano, which is said to have emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago.
- Shield Volcano: Lavas of Shield Volcanoes are low in silica and have a low viscosity. They have the capacity to flow long distances away from the vent. Over time they develop into gently sloping volcanoes.
Kuki Chin Refugees
Context: Recently, a group of 150 Kuki Chin refugees from Bangladesh were intercepted along the Mizoram-Bangladesh border by the Border Security Force.
- Kuki-Chin is the Christian community from Bangladesh’s Chittagong hill tracts, share close ethnic ties with people in Mizoram.
- Mizoram shares a 318-km-long border with Bangladesh.
- Aid to Refugees: Mizoram State government, in collaboration with local community-based organisations and NGOs, was doing its best to provide relief to these displaced people.
- Mizoram Cabinet has approved the setting up of temporary shelters and other amenities for Bangladeshi Kuki-Chin refugees.
- Other than the Kuki-Chin, there are over 40,000 refugees from Myanmar who have taken shelter in Mizoram since a military coup in the neighbouring country in February 2021.
- About Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT): This area shares its border with Mizoram to the east, Tripura to the north, and Myanmar to the south and southeast.
- A significant portion of the CHT population is tribal, and culturally and ethnically different from the majority Muslim Bangladeshis who live in the country’s deltaic mainland.
- About 350000 people of Kuki-Chin-Mizo communities live in Chittagong Hills Tracts.
- India is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol and does not recognise refugees.
- India does not have a domestic policy on refugees.
- The undocumented migrants are liable to be prosecuted for violating the Foreigners Act.
Vaccine For Honey
Context: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted a conditional license for a vaccine for honeybees (World’s first vaccine) to curb American foulbrood (AFB).
- It is a fatal bacterial disease for the insect, caused by the spore-forming bacterium Paenibacillus larvae.
- The disease can infect the strongest to the weakest colony in an apiary. Heavy infections can affect most of the brood, severely weakening the colony and eventually killing it.
- The vaccine has been developed by biotechnology company Dalan Animal Health, giving hope of a new weapon against diseases that routinely ravage colonies relied upon for food pollination.
- The vaccine exposes queen bees to inactive (ie, “dead”) bacteria, which enables the larvae hatched in the hive to resist infection.
- The vaccine is mixed in queen candy, the primary food source for both the queen bees and the attendant bees living in cages.
- Eventually, developing bee larvae have immunity when they hatch, which reduces the chances of fatality from the illness.
- Arrest Declining Honeybee population: Honeybees are declining sharply, spurred by habitat loss, pesticide use and the climate crisis.
- According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, about one-third of the world’s crop production depends on pollinators such as bees, birds and bats.
- The lifespan of the adult honeybee has been reduced by nearly 50 per cent in the past 50 years.
- A declining population also means less honey.
Why in News? Ranji Trophy 2022-23 that started from 13th December 2022 will end on 20th February 2023.
- The Ranji Trophy founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was named after one of India’s first test cricketers, Ranjitsinhji, who played for England and Sussex.
- The series was announced in 1934, and the initial fixtures took place in 1934-35. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala donated the trophy.
- Largely regional in nature, the Ranji Trophy can be summed up as a domestic first-class cricket series played by various regional teams against one another.
Why in News? The RBI said that maiden Sovereign Green Bonds (SGrBs) would be issued in two tranches of ₹8,000 crores.
- A green bond is a debt instrument with which capital is being raised to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, clean transportation, sustainable water management etc.
- A bond is a fixed-income instrument that represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower.
- Bonds traditionally paid a fixed interest rate (coupon) to investors.
- The World Bank is a major issuer of green bonds.
African Swine Fever
Why in News? As many as 27 wild boars have died of African swine fever in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district.
- It is a highly contagious and fatal animal disease that infects and leads to an acute form of hemorrhagic fever in domestic and wild pigs.
- It was first detected in Africa in the 1920s.
- The mortality is close to 95% – 100% and since the fever has no cure, the only way to stop its spread is by culling the animals.
- African Swine Fever is not a threat to human beings since it only spreads from one animal to another animal.
- It is listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernization Program (V-VMP)
Why in News? The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has said that 11 States/UTs joined the National Single Window System for V-VMP.
- The Union Road Transport and Highways Minister has announced the Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernisation Programme. It is also known as the Vehicle scrapping policy.
- It will encourage private investment in the ecosystem for car recycling.
- The policy aims to create an ecosystem to phase out unfit and polluting vehicles. It will reduce pollution, improve fuel efficiency, and increase the government’s revenue collection from the sale of new vehicles.
Why in News? India’s first-of-its-kind inclusivity, ‘Purple Fest: Celebrating Diversity’ has begun in a glorious ceremony in Goa.
- The event will be jointly organized by State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Goa, in collaboration with the Directorate of Social Welfare and Entertainment Society of Goa.
- This first-of-its-kind festival will benefit persons with disabilities.
- It is a unique three-day event that aims to demonstrate how people can come together to support and make everyone in society feel included.
- It will feature live performances, grand exhibitions, sporting activities, immersive experience zones, and an innovation mela.