UPSC Prelims News of 9 January 2023
Context: Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon Satellite, which will be the world’s first satellite-based solution to support two-way messaging for premium smartphones.
- The satellite has been developed with Iridium satellite phone company and will allow next-generation premium Android devices to support messaging for emergency use in rural, and offshore locations.
- Compliant devices will be able to connect to satellites in order to send messages without a cellular signal.
- Technology: The satellite is supported by the Iridium satellite constellation, which uses weather-resilient L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink.
- In future, it can expand support to devices including laptops, tablets, vehicles, and IoT.
- Satellite messaging: An on-screen message will point in the direction in order to find and connect with a satellite.
- The user will need to be outside with a clear view of the sky in order to connect.
- Satellite messages are very limited and they have a limit of 140 bytes or about 160 characters.
Context: Scientists have discovered a new species of dwarf boa in the Ecuadoran Amazon.
- Nomenclature: The species has been named Tropidophis cacuangoae. The second part of the name honours early 20th-century Indigenous rights activist Dolores Cacuango.
- Discovery: The species was discovered in the Colonso Chalupas national reserve and in the private Sumak Kawsay park.
- Features: It can go up to 20 centimetres long and with skin colouring similar to those of the boa constrictor.
- Significance: The species is unusual for having a “vestigial pelvis” characteristic of primitive snakes.
- Amazon Rainforest: Amazon is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest that spans across Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
- The Amazon River and its tributaries drain these vast forests. These forests make up over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprise the largest and most biodiverse tract of forests in the world.
Context: In the wake of bird flu cases being reported in Kerala, all districts have been alerted and directions have been issued by the Health department.
- Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza virus that spreads among birds.
- It spreads through:
- Touching infected birds
- Touching droppings or bedding
- Killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking
- Treatment: antiviral medicine such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) are given to help reduce the severity of the condition, prevent complications and improve the chances of survival.
- It does not spread through the consumption of well-cooked chicken or duck or their eggs.
- At Present, humans have only experienced infections by three different H types (H1, H2 and H3), and two different N types (N1 and N2).
Water Vision @2047
Context: The Ministry of Jal Shakti organised the first ‘all-India annual state ministers’ conference on water’ on the theme ‘Water Vision@2047’ in Bhopal.
- The primary objective of the two-day conference is to gather inputs for the ‘India@2047‘ and ‘5P’ vision from the different water stakeholders from the states since water is a state subject.
- The meeting also aims to improve engagement and partnership with the states and share the initiatives and schemes of the Ministry of Jal Shakti with different stakeholders.
- The conference will have the following thematic sessions:
- Water Security in Water Deficit
- Water Surplus and Hilly Regions
- Water Use Efficiency including Reuse of Waste Water/Grey Water
- Water Governance
- Climate Change Resilient Water Infrastructure; and
- Water Quality.
- The Sessions have been devised so that India can work together towards the bigger vision of making India a Developed Nation by 2047.
Why in News? Recently, the Home Minister inaugurated a 122-foot-tall statue of a polo player astride a Manipur Pony in Imphal.
- Sagol Kangjei is the name of the game of polo played in Manipur.
- Sagol means pony/horse, Kang means a ball or round object and jei is a stick used for hitting.
- In this game, players ride horses, specifically the Manipur Ponies which are referenced in records dating back to the 14th century.
- Polo has, for time immemorial, been a game patronised by royalty and the upper crust of society, not only in India but abroad.
- However, in the state of Manipur, it has always been a game for the common man.
- Manipuri polo symbolises the immense cultural heritage of the state.
New Umbrella Entity
Why in News? Recently, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) put on hold the licensing of the New Umbrella Entity (NUE) network.
- NUE is a non-profit entity (under the Companies Act 2013) that will manage and operate new payment systems, especially in the retail space such as ATMs, white-label PoS; Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
- It will also manage clearing and settlement systems that could be an alternative to the bank-promoted NPCI.
- It will be allowed to charge fees for transactions.
- NPCI was established by the RBI and the Indian Banks’ Association in 2008 modelled on the non-profit payments and settlement entity run by the Swedish central bank that’s owned and operated by banks.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)
Why in News? Recently, The Centre declared The Resistance Front (TRF) a “terrorist organisation” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
- UAPA was passed in 1967. It aims at the effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- Unlawful activity refers to any action taken by an individual or association intended to disrupt the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
- Section 15 of the UAPA defines “terrorist act” and is punishable with imprisonment for a term of at least five years to life. In case the terrorist act results in death, the punishment is death or imprisonment for life.
- The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
- Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed in a foreign land, outside India.
- Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum of 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
Why in News? Dedicated financial bonds can help capture the economic value of cloud forests in 25 countries.
- Cloud forests are forests that are on top of tropical mountains and largely shrouded in mist.
- Cloud forests, also called Montane rainforests, are vegetation of tropical mountainous regions in which the rainfall is often heavy and persistent condensation occurs because of the cooling of moisture-laden air currents deflected upward by the mountains.
- These forests occupy a limited area and are under great threat and their hydrological function is of existential value to millions of people living downstream.
- Just 25 countries hold 90 per cent of the world’s cloud forests that capture moisture from the air, providing fresh and clean water to people and industries below.
First Advance Estimates
Why in News? The Indian economy is seen growing at a rate of 7% in the current financial year, according to the first advanced estimates of the National Statistical Office (NSO).
- The FAE, first introduced in 2016-17, are typically published at the end of the first week of January.
- They are the “first” official estimates of how GDP is expected to grow in that financial year.
- Apart from it, they are also the “advance” estimates because they are published long before the financial year (April to March) is over.
- The FAE is published soon after the end of the third quarter or Q3 (October, November, December).
- However, they do not include the formal Q3 GDP data, which is published at the end of February as part of the Second Advance Estimates (SAE).
Why in News? Members of Maliparbat Surakhya Samiti in Koraput district have sought security during a public hearing on environmental clearance for bauxite mining by Hindalco.
- Bauxite is an ore of aluminum. It is a rock consisting mainly of hydrated aluminium oxides.
- The deposits of Bauxite are mainly associated with laterites and occur as capping on hills and plateaus, except in coastal areas of Gujarat and Goa.
- Bauxite is primarily used to produce alumina through the Bayer process.
- Like many metals, world demand for aluminium, and therefore bauxite, has grown substantially over the past several years in response to economic growth in emerging Asian economies.
Nee Zebrafish Protein
Why in News? Protein found in Zebrafish can help regenerate aged discs in human vertebrae.
About Zebra Fish
- Zebrafish is a small (2-3 cm long) freshwater fish found in tropical and subtropical regions.
- The fish is native to South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and even in stagnant water and streams.
- It attracts developmental biologists due to its adequate regeneration capacity of almost all its organs, including the brain, heart, eye, and spinal cord.
- It has a similar genetic structure (around 70%) to humans.
- IUCN Red List Status: Least concerned.