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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd September 2021

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  • September 2, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Ladakh adopts State animal and bird

Part of: Prelims and GS – III – Environment 

Context Ladakh recently adopted two endangered species, snow leopard and black-necked crane, as the State animal and the State bird.

  • Black-necked crane, only found in the Ladakh region, was the State bird of J&K before August 5, 2019.

About Snow Leopard

  • It is also known as Ghost of the mountains. 
  • They are positioned as the top predator in the food web.
  • It acts as an indicator of the health of the mountain ecosystem in which they live. 
  • Habitat: Higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in  J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Snow Leopard’s capital of the world: Hemis, Ladakh.
  • Threats: Reduction in prey populations, illegal poaching and increased human population infiltration into the species habitat and illegal trade of wildlife parts and products 
  • Conservation Efforts by India
    • Himal Sanrakshak: It is a community volunteer programme, to protect snow leopards, launched on 23rd October 2020
    • In 2019, First National Protocol was also launched on Snow Leopard Population Assessment
    • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-UNDP funded project on conservation of high altitude biodiversity
    • Project Snow Leopard  launched in 2009
    • Snow Leopard is in the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.

About Black-necked crane 

    • It has A conspicuous red crown that adorns the head.
    • The juveniles have a brownish head and neck and plumage is slightly paler than that of an adult.
    • The bird is revered by the community of Monpas (major Buddhist ethnic group of Arunachal Pradesh) as an embodiment of the sixth Dalai Lama (Tsangyang Gyatso).
    • Habitat and Breeding Grounds : The high altitude wetlands of the Tibetan plateau , Sichuan (China), and eastern Ladakh (India) 
      • In Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, it only comes during the winters.
    • Threats: Damage to the eggs and chicks; Loss of habitat due to humans Development Projects; Increased grazing pressure on the limited pastures near the wetlands.
  • Steps for their Conservation: World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu & Kashmir, has been working towards conservation of high altitude wetlands, with black-necked cranes as a priority species in Ladakh region. 
Protection status Snow Leopard  Black-necked crane 
IUCN Vulnerable Near Threatened
CITES Appendix I Appendix I
Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 Schedule I Schedule I
Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Appendix I


Sri Lanka declares economic emergency

Part of: Prelims and GS – II – International  Relations  

Context Sri Lanka has declared an economic emergency, after a steep fall in the value of the South Asian country’s currency caused a spike in food prices.

  • The Sri Lankan rupee has fallen by 7.5 per cent against the US dollar this year.

Steps to be taken to control price rise

  • The President has promulgated emergency regulations under the Public Security Ordinance on the supply of essential goods.
  • A former army general has been appointed by the government as the commissioner of essential services, with the power to seize stocks held by traders and retailers.
  • Authorities say they will take control of the supply of basic food items, including rice and sugar, and set prices in an attempt to control rising inflation.
    • Month-on-month inflation rose to 6% in August, mainly due to high food prices.
  • The authorised officers will take steps to provide essential food items at a concessionary rate to the public by purchasing stocks of essential food items 
  • These items will be provided at government guaranteed prices or based on the customs value on imported goods to prevent market irregularities.
  • The wide-ranging measure is also aimed at recovering credit owed to state banks by importers’=

Reasons for rising prices

  • The increase in the foreign exchange rate 
  • The country, which is a net importer of food and other commodities, is witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths which has hit tourism, one of the country’s main foreign currency earners.

Over 4 billion don’t have social protection: ILO

Part of: Prelims and GS – II – International Relations 

Context In a report on the state of social protection globally, the UN’s International Labour Organization said that 4.1 billion people were living without any social safety net of any kind

  • Over half of all people in the world have no social protections,
  • Social protection includes access to health care and income security measures related especially to old age, unemployment, sickness, disability, work injury, maternity or the loss of the main breadwinner in a family, as well as extra support for families with children.
  • In 2020, only 46.9% of the global population benefitted from at least one such protection, according to the report

About International Labour Organization

  • It is the only tripartite U.N. agency. 
    • Tripartite principle means The negotiations within the organization are held between the representatives of governments, trade unions, and member-states’ employers.
  • It brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
  • Established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations.
  • Became the first affiliated specialized agency of the United Nations in 1946.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Founding Mission: social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace.
  • Promotes internationally recognized human and labour rights.

Chhattisgarh’s state animal, Wild buffalo, close to extinction

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III –  Environment 

Context The sole female wild buffalo in a conservation centre at Chhattisgarh’s Sitanadi-Udanti tiger reserve died recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • Chhattisgarh’s state animal is on the verge of extinction with less than 20 individuals of the species left in the state.
  • The conservation centre had only one female and three males and now no more female wild buffalos are left in the reserve.
  • The reserve is also contiguous to Khariar Forest Division of Odisha State and acts as Buffer for Sunabeda Wildlife sanctuary.

About Wild water Buffalo

  • The wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee), also called Asian buffalo, is a large bovine native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  • It has an ash-gray to black skin. They are both diurnal and nocturnal. Both sexes carry horns.
  • It is among the heaviest living wild bovid species, and is slightly smaller than gaur.
  • It is associated with wet grasslands, swamps, flood plains and densely vegetated river valleys.
  • It is included in CITES Appendix III.
  • It is legally protected in Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Thailand.
  • IUCN Red List status: Endangered since 1986.
  • The remaining population totals less than 4,000 out of which around 91% live in India, mostly in Assam.
  • It is found in the following National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries:
    • Assam: Kaziranga, Manas and Dibru-Saikhowa National Parks, Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary and Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary  
    • Arunachal Pradesh: D’Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary 
    • Meghalaya: Balphakram National Park 
    • Chhattisgarh: Indravati National Park and Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary.


Neelakurinji

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Environment 

Context Neelakurinji flowers have bloomed in Kodagu district of Karnataka after 12 years. This kind of mass flowering is known as gregarious flowering. 

About the flower

  • It is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Locally known as Kurinji, the flowers grow at an altitude of 1,300 to 2,400 metres. 
  • Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that bloom only once in 12 years. 
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary of Kerala protects the kurinji in approximately 32 km2 core habitat in Kottakamboor and Vattavada villages in Idukki district.
  • Kurinji Andavar temple located in Kodaikanal of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Tamil God Murugan also preserves these plants.
  • The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age. 
  • Karnataka has around 45 species of Neelakurinji and each species blooms at intervals of six, nine, 11 or 12 years. 
  • Besides the Western Ghats, Neelakurinji is also seen in the Shevroy in the Eastern Ghats, Sanduru hills of Bellary district in Karnataka.


Milky Sea Effect

Part of: Prelims and GS – III – SCI and tech

Context New satellite technology Day/Night Band is being used by scientists to find glow-in-the-dark milky seas of marine lore.

About  Milky Sea effect

  • The Milky Sea effect refers to an unusual marine phenomenon in the ocean in which a large amount of sea water appears to glow brightly (eerie blue glow)at night.
  • Also called mareel, the milky sea is caused by bioluminescent bacteria, billions of trillions of them, that live throughout the water column from the surface to the sea floor.
  • Some point out that Mareel is typically caused by Noctiluca scintillans (popularly known as “sea sparkle”), a dinoflagellate that glows when disturbed and is found in oceans throughout much of the world.
  • Bioluminescent bacteria are light-producing bacteria that are predominantly present in sea water, marine sediments, the surface of decomposing fish and in the gut of marine animals.
  • Stress, caused by the movement of the sea and waves, leads the plankton to emit light, or bioluminescence as a defence mechanism in a similar way to some fireflies.
  • Such occurrences glow brightly enough at night to be visible from satellites orbiting Earth.
  • In 2005, scientists announced that for the first time, they had obtained photographic evidence of this glow.
  • Between 1915 and 1993, 235 sightings of milky seas were documented, most of which are concentrated in the northwestern Indian Ocean and near Indonesia.
  • The luminescent glow is concentrated on the surface of the ocean and does not mix evenly throughout the water column.

(News from PIB)


President’s Colour to Be Awarded to Naval Aviation

Part of: GS Prelims 

In News:  Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the Hon’ble President of India, will award the President’s Colour to Indian Naval Aviation at the ceremonial parade to be held at INS Hansa, Goa on 06 Sep 21.

About Presidents colour:

  • The President’s Colour is the highest honour bestowed on a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation. 
  • The Indian Navy was the first amongst the Indian Armed Forces to be awarded the President’s Colour on 27 May 1951 by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India. 

About Indian Naval Aviation:

  • Indian Naval Aviation came into being with acquisition of the first Sea land aircraft on 13 Jan 1951 and commissioning of INS Garuda, the first Naval Air Station, on 11 May 1953. 
  • Arrival of the armed Firefly aircraft in 1958 added an offensive punch, and the naval aviation steadily expanded its inventory to become an integral part of a formidable Navy. 
  • Today, Indian Naval Aviation boasts of nine air stations and three naval air enclaves along the Indian coastline and the in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
  • Over the past seven decades, it has transformed into a modern, technologically advanced and highly potent force with more than 250 aircraft comprising Carrier-borne fighters, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, helicopters and remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). 
  • The Fleet Air Arm can support naval operations in all three dimensions and will remain the first responder for maritime surveillance and HADR in the Indian Ocean Region.

News Source: PIB


Exercise Zapad 2021 In Russia

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III- Security

In News:  A 200 personnel contingent of Indian Army will participate in Exercise ZAPAD 2021, a Multi Nation exercise being held at Nizhniy, Russia from 03 to 16 September 2021.

About Exercise ZAPAD 2021:

  • ZAPAD 2021 is one of the theatre levels exercises of Russian Armed Forces and will focus primarily on operations against terrorists. 
  • Over a dozen countries from Eurasian and South Asian Region will participate in this signature event.
  • The exercise aims to enhance military and strategic ties amongst the participating nations while they plan & execute this exercise.
  • The Indian Contingent has been put through a strenuous training schedule which encompasses all facets of conventional operations including mechanised, airborne & heliborne, counter terrorism, combat conditioning and firing.
  • The NAGA Battalion group participating in the exercise will feature an all Arms combined task force. 

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ JUDICIARY

  • GS-1: Fundamental Freedoms & Restrictions
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

On weeding out ‘fake journalists’

Context: The Madras High Court has directed the State government to constitute a body named the Press Council of Tamil Nadu (PCTN) within three months to protect the interests of genuine journalists and weed out fake journalists

What was the case about?

  • The original case was initiated by a man claiming to be a journalist whereby  he alleged against the special team investigating theft of idols from various temples. 
  • This case was disposed of with a direction to the Idol Wing CID to proceed with the investigation in accordance with the law. 
  • As there was suspicion over the petitioner’s credentials, the Bench has proceeded to address the larger problem of fake journalists.

Do You Know?

  • As of now, the Press Council of India performs the watchdog role about public complaints, but without any substantive enforcement powers. 
  • Accreditation and dealing with journalist bodies are now the functions of the respective governments. 
  • ‘Newspapers, books and printing presses’ are in the Concurrent List.

What will be the composition of PCTN?

  • It will be headed by a retired judge of either the Supreme Court or the High Court. 
  • Experienced and reputed journalists, both working and retired, retired civil servants and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers must be its members.

What are the Powers & Functions of PCTN?

  • The council shall have sole authority to recognise press clubs and journalists’ associations or unions in the State of Tamil Nadu
  • It shall not allow or recognise the formation or continuation of unions or associations based on caste, community or State boundaries. 
  • The council shall conduct and approve elections to these clubs, unions and associations. If elections are not held under the directive of Council, then such organisation will be brought under PCTN control.
  • It would also have the authority to decide on the number of journalists’ associations that could be permitted in each city or town.
  • Journalists’ associations should disclose their sources of income and obtain the council’s permission before conducting State conferences and meetings
  • The PCTN shall have the power to identify fake journalists and lodge complaints against them to the jurisdictional police. 
  • Members of the public can send their complaints regarding fake journalists to the welfare board, which will inquire and initiate criminal action against such fake journalists, because they are a menace and a threat to the civil society,
  • It shall also regulate the distribution of identity and accreditation cards, which enables them to obtain certain benefits (ex: Bus  & rail passes, welfare measures etc)

Why such a body was required? 

  • Fake journalists generally indulge in illegal and unethical practices such as blackmailing industrialists, businessmen, government officials and politicians for their unjust enrichment.
  • Also, they run letter-pad publications, or even print some copies of unknown journals, and work for vested interests, but seek benefits of journalists.
  • Having a body like PCTN will help weed out such fake journalists and thus enahance the integrity of the Journalism.

What are the associated concerns?

  • Such a body is being created by judicial direction while disposing of public interest litigation somewhat unrelated to the case at hand. 
  • Creating such body is normally done by law and after wider consultations, thus it can be considered as Judicial Overreach.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings affecting India’s interests.

US Exit from Afghanistan & South East Asia

Context: Several Southeast Asian governments were forced to hurriedly evacuate their citizens from Afghanistan as the result of US decisions, and there are concerns that a surge of Islamic extremism in Afghanistan could increase the threat of terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.

Evolving US Policy towards South East Asia 

  • In the decades after the end of the Vietnam War, US interest in Southeast Asia was typified in foreign policy circles as a form of “benign neglect.”
  • However, with the rise of the region’s economies, as well as the threat of a more assertive China, Southeast Asia became a key region for Washington, marked by the so-called pivot to Asia policy from the Obama administration in 2011.
  • The United States is a key economic and security partner of most Southeast Asian governments and has a treaty alliance with Thailand and the Philippines, as well as close defense ties to Singapore and Vietnam.
  • Washington has taken the side of Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia in their disputes with China over territory in the South China Sea.

What is the concern now?

  • The hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan has forced some S.E.Asian countries to question whether US will come to their defense if a violent conflict broke out with China.
  • However, Southeast Asian governments are aware that US interests in their region are vastly different from what the US has tried to achieve elsewhere.
  • While US intervention in countries like Afghanistan revolved around anti-terrorism efforts and nation-building, in Southeast Asia, US’s interests focus on improving already close relations with stable states.
  • Moreover, the US in Afghanistan tasked itself with providing much of the country’s security, as well as bankrolling a weak and impoverished state.
  • Southeast Asia is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, from which American businesses can profit. The Southeast Asian bloc is America’s fourth-largest trading partner, according to US government data.

Will Southeast Asia now get more US attention?

  • Many Southeast Asian governments expressed confusion during the last years of the Trump administration, especially after he seemingly neglected the region by not sending a senior official to the ASEAN summit in 2019.
  • The Biden administration came to office stating that it intended to recalibrate from Central Asia and the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific. Withdrawing from Afghanistan was part of this plan, except that it was very poorly executed.
  • What matters most for Southeast Asian governments will be how quickly the United States moves to reinforce the message that the Indo-Pacific lies at the heart of American foreign policy.
  • Vice President of US, Kamala Harris has said that “US partnerships in Singapore, in Southeast Asia, and throughout the Indo-Pacific are a top priority for it”.
  • It is the fact that Southeast Asia is a key area in USA’s rivalry with China.
  • From the US perspective, it is unrealistic to leave Southeast Asia, with its geographical, economic, historical and social connections, which are now compounded by the competition with China

Conclusion

Southeast Asia wants the US and China to compete for their attention, but countries in the region resent being forced to choose [between the two]

Connecting the dots:


(AIR Spotlight)


Spotlight 28 (Aug): Special program on the renovated Jallianwala Bagh memorial inauguration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZOlgZEJIPo

INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Modern History

Jallianwala Bagh memorial

TOPIC: Special program on the renovated Jallianwala Bagh memorial dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister who dedicated the renovated complex of Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to the nation.

What’s new at Jallianwala Bagh?

  • Four Museum galleries have been created through adaptive reuse of redundant and underutilized buildings. 
  • The galleries showcase the historical value of events that unfolded in Punjab during that period, with the fusion of audio-visual technology, including projection mapping and 3D representation, as well as art and sculptural installations.
  • A Sound and Light show has been set up to display the events that happened on 13th April, 1919.
  • Multiple development initiatives have been undertaken at the complex. Elaborate heritage restoration works have been carried out in sync with the local architectural style of Punjab. 
  • The Shaheedi well has been repaired and restored with a redefined super structure. 
  • The heart of the Bagh, the flame monument, has been repaired and restored, water body rejuvenated as a lily pond, and the pathways made broader for better navigability.
  • Several new and modern amenities have been added, including redefined paths of movement with appropriate signages, illumination of strategic spots, landscaping and hardscaping with native plantation and installation of audio nodes throughout the garden. 
  • Also, newer areas have been developed for housing the Salvation Ground, Amar Jyot and Flag Mast.

Controversy around the renovation:

  • The Jallianwala Bagh has undergone several repairs and touch-ups over the years. But the narrow alley leading to the Bagh had remained untouched for almost 100 years. 
  • While many other things changed, the constricted entrance made of Nanakshahi bricks, through which Dyer’s soldiers marched into the Bagh, continued to evoke the horrors of that day. 
  • Last year in July, it was rebuilt into a gallery with murals, leaving no trace of the old alley. It’s this break from the past that has led many to question the latest makeover of the memorial. 
  • The narrow lane — which was blocked by British soldiers making it impossible for anyone to escape from the Bagh on that horrific day — now has a shiny new floor. 
  • Besides this, it has been partially covered to keep the birds from sitting on the sculptures. Before and after photos of this lane, shared by a historian, have led to a storm on social media, with some netizens calling the revamp a bid to erase history.

Can you answer this question now?

Critically analyze the renovation of Jallianwala Bagh memorial dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister. 


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1 Which of the following was adopted as state animal by Ladakh recently?

  1. Wild buffalo 
  2. Snow Leopard
  3. Mithun 
  4. One horned rhinoceros 

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding bioluminescence:

  1. It is observed only in marine species. 
  2. It is a kind of Defence mechanism caused due to Stress which is caused by the movement of the sea and waves. 

Select the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 The Shola forest is found in:

  1. The Himalayas
  2. The Western Ghats
  3. The Vindhyan
  4. The Eastern Ghats

ANSWERS FOR 1st Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 D
3 C

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