Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (3rd to 9th May, 2019)

CCMB scientists sequence Asiatic lion genome

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (3rd to 9th May, 2019)

(Info graphic Summary at the end)

 

 

Topic : India re-elected as observer to inter-governmental forum Arctic Council

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

India re-elected as observer to inter-governmental forum Arctic Council

India has been re-elected as an observer to inter-governmental forum Arctic Council.

 

More about on news:

  • At the 11th Arctic Council ministerial meeting at Rovaniemi with Vani Rao Ambassador, Finland.
  • The two-day meeting began on May 6, 2019. At the culmination, the member countries released a joint statement in which they pledged a number of measures to preserve the Arctic.
  • Indian researchers have been studying whether there is a co-relation between Indian monsoon and the Arctic region.
  • India is committed to do more contributions in the Arctic Council.
  • The summit this time also had the US Secretary of State refraining from using the word “climate change”.
  • Among the important decisions, they “reaffirmed their commitment to maintain peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic”.

 

What is the Arctic Council?

  • The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
  • The Ottawa Declaration lists the following countries as Members of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
  • In addition, six organizations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants.
  • The category of Permanent Participant was created to provide for active participation and full consultation with the Arctic indigenous peoples within the Council.
  • They include: the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Saami Council.
  • India and China are one of the observer countries since 2013.

 

What does it do?

The work of the Council is primarily carried out in six Working Groups.

  • The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) acts as a strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants.
  • The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitors the Arctic environment, ecosystems and human populations, and provides scientific advice to support governments as they tackle pollution and adverse effects of climate change.
  • The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF) addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, working to ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources.
  • The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR) works to protect the Arctic environment from the threat or impact of an accidental release of pollutants or radionuclides.
  • The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment.
  • The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) works to advance sustainable development in the Arctic and to improve the conditions of Arctic communities as a whole.

 

What doesn’t it do?

  • The Arctic Council is a forum; it has no programming budget. All projects or initiatives are sponsored by one or more Arctic States. Some projects also receive support from other entities.
  • The Arctic Council does not and cannot implement or enforce its guidelines, assessments or recommendations. That responsibility belongs to each individual Arctic State.
  • The Arctic Council’s mandate, as articulated in the Ottawa Declaration, explicitly excludes military security.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Arctic Council

  1. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental organization
  2. India is an observer country in the Artic Council.
  3. The Artic council is an initiative of the Government of France.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: a)

 


 

Topic : Over 300 nests of grizzled giant squirrel spotted near Gingee

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

Over 300 nests of grizzled giant squirrel spotted near Gingee

For the first time, researchers have sighted nests of the grizzled giant squirrel, an endangered species listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 at Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in the Eastern Ghats.

 

More about on news:

  • A team of researchers and wildlife activists from Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF), a non-profit organisation were conducting a survey in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee when they spotted grizzled giant squirrels.
  • Over 300 nests of the endangered species were spotted by the group.
  • The group had earlier spotted a pair of squirrels while trekking through the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests in 2016.

 

Appeal to government:

  • Several diverse and endangered species including the Golden Gecko, Bamboo Pit Viper and Mouse Deer have also been spotted in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests.
  • The government should immediately declare the forests as a sanctuary for the grizzled giant squirrel.
  • The grizzled giant squirrel have earlier been spotted in Tiruvannamalai Forest Division in 2014, which was the only recorded sighting from this region in the Eastern Ghats.
  • There has been no detailed study on why these squirrels frequent the Eastern Ghats.
  • A detailed study is required to understand its distribution across the region.
  • Habitat loss coupled with hunting for its fur and bushmeat by the locals are said to be the major threats to this species.

 

Grizzled Giant Squirrel:

  • The grizzled giant squirrel is a large tree squirrel in the genus Ratufa found in the highlands of the Central and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka,
  • In patches of riparian forest along the Kaveri River and in the hill forests of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states of southern India.
  • The grizzled giant squirrel is usually known to nest in the Western Ghats in Southern India ranging from Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary in Kerala to Anamalai Tiger Reserve and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu.
  • Owing to habitat loss and poaching, the species has been categorized as near threatened by the Red List and listed under Schedule II of CITES.
  • It is an endangered species listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to Grizzled Giant Squirrel

  1. In India it is only found in in hill forests of southern states-Karnataka. Tamil Nadu, Kerala
  2. It is listed under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: a)

 


 

Topic : Fourth Scorpene-class submarine Vela launched

Topic in Syllabus: Security Issues

 

Why in news?

Fourth Scorpene-class submarine Vela launched

Recently the Scorpene-class submarine Vela, the fourth of six underwater warships being built in India with French collaboration was launched.

 

More about on news:

  • The submarine was towed to Mumbai Port Trust, for separation from the pontoon, after which she will undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbour and at sea before delivery to the Indian Navy
  • Presently Eight Warships and five submarines are under construction at MDL.
  • The Scorpene class of submarines can undertake multifarious tasks typically undertaken by any modern submarine which include anti-surface as well as anti-submarine warfare.
  • The transfer of technology involves appropriate technical support by Naval Group to MDL in the field of construction, integration and tests of the submarines in India.

 

INS Vela:

  • The submarine has been named ‘Vela’ after an earlier lead submarine of the erstwhile Vela class, which was the second batch of the Foxtrot class submarines acquired from erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
  • INS Vela is the fourth Scorpene class Submarine of Project 75.
  • INS Kalvari, the first of the Scorpene-class submarines, was commissioned by Prime Minister NarendraModi on December 14, 2017.
  • INS Khanderi and INS Karanj are in advanced stages to join the fleet.
  • The remaining two — INS Vagir and INS Vagsheer are in the advanced stages of manufacturing.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to INS Vela, consider the following statements

  1. It is the fourth Scorpene class submarine being built under Project 75 for the Indian Navy.
  2. The submarine has been designed by French naval defence and energy group DCNS and manufactured by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL).

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic : CCMB scientists sequence Asiatic lion genome

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

CCMB scientists sequence Asiatic lion genome

For the first time, the entire genome of Asiatic lion, an endangered species, has been sequenced by scientists from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

 

More about on news?

  • Only partial genomic information of the African lion was available now.
  • Comparative genomics between African and Asiatic lions could be undertaken once the complete genome of the African lion is sequenced.
  • The population of the endangered Asiatic lion is very low — only 523 animals are present in the Gir forests.
  • The genome sequencing would enable scientists to develop specific markers to study population genetics (the differences at the gene level within a population) and get newer insights into its population status and subsequent management.
  • The study noted that the evaluation of genetic diversity placed the Asiatic lion in the lowest bracket of genomic diversity index highlighting the gravity of its conservation status.
  • The genome is estimated to be 2.3 GB (Gigabase) long and is found to have 20,543 protein-coding genes.

 

Significance:

  • This firsthand information would help to better understand the evolution of Asiatic lions and also make possible comparative analysis with other big cats,
  • With the complete genome of royal Bengal tiger, African Cheetah and Jaguar available, comparative studies of all these big cats would be possible.

 

Asiatic lion:

  • The Asiatic lion is a Pantheraleoleo population in India.
  • Its range is restricted to the Gir National Park and environs in the Indian state of Gujarat.
  • They are slightly smaller and have distinctive fold of skin along their bellies.
  • Gir sanctuary is the only wild population of Asiatic lions in the world.
  • With serious conservation efforts of the State and the Union Government, the population of Asiatic lions have increased to over 500 which used to be around 50 by late 1890s.
  • According to the last census conducted in 2015, the number of lions in Gir sanctuary stood at 523.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, has been categories as Endangered on IUCN Red List and is listed Appendix I of CITES.
  • The Gir Protected Area Network of Gujarat includes Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary and adjoining forests. It has an area of 1648.79 sq. km.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Asiatic lions

  1. Asiatic lions are slightly bigger than African lions
  2. At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
  3. Only partial genomic information of the African lion was available now.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2

b). 1 and 3 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic : Lakshadweep recruits barn owls to fight rodent menace

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

Lakshadweep recruits barn owls to fight rodent menace

With a thriving rat population playing havoc with its coconut yield, the Union Territory of Lakshadweep is turning to barn owls for help.

 

More about on news:

  • The scenic islands have ‘recruited’ three pairs of barn owls from Kerala to fight what has so far been a losing battle against the rodents.
  • They will gradually be released into the coconut plantations under a closely monitored breeding and rodent management programme
  • The biocontrol measure is spearheaded by the Lakshadweep Administration, with the KrishiVigyan Kendra (KVK) at Kavaratti providing the technical knowhow.
  • Coconut is an important money-spinner for the islands, but the pesky rodents account for 30-40% of the yield loss.
  • If successful, the barn owl campaign will be extended to other islands in Lakshadweep as well.

 

Barn Owl:

  • It is the most widely distributed species of owl.
  • It is found almost everywhere in the world except polar and desert regions, in Asia north of the Himalayas, most of Indonesia, and some Pacific islands.
  • Barn owls specialise in hunting animals on the ground and nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute.
  • The Barn Owl is respected as the acolyte of the Goddess Chamunda in Karnataka.
  • In Bengal, it is revered as the carrier of Lakshmi, the deity of wealth.
  • It is listed as ‘least concern’ in the IUCN red list.
  • It comes under Schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Barn Owl

  1. It is found almost everywhere in the world except polar and desert regions
  2. It is listed as ‘critically endangered’ in the IUCN red list.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic : India’s newest pit viper found in Arunachal Pradesh

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Why in news?

India’s newest pit viper found in Arunachal Pradesh

A team of herpetologists led by Ashok Captain have described a new species of reddish-brown pit viper.

 

More about on news:

  • The discovery, published in the March-April volume of the Russian Journal of Herpetology,
  • It makes the Arunachal pit viper (Trimeresurusarunachalensis) the second serpent to have been discovered after the non-venomous crying keelback in the State’s Lepa-Rada district in 2018.
  • With this, India now has a fifth brown pit viper. The other four — Malabar, horseshoe, hump-nosed and Himalayan — were discovered 70 years ago.
  • The new species also makes Arunachal Pradesh the only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it.

 

About newest pit viper:

  • It is a species of reddish-brown pit viper, a venomous snake with a unique heat-sensing system.
  • It has been discovered by a team of herpetologists from a forest in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The new species also makes Arunachal Pradesh the only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it
  • The snake belonged to a species not described before.
  • The single known specimen of this species makes it currently the rarest pit viper in the world.
  • The discovery makes the Arunachal pit viper the second serpent to have been discovered after the non-venomous crying keelback in the State’s Lepa-Rada district in 2018.

 

Sample Question:

Recently A team of herpetologists found India’s newest pit viper in

a). Andhra Pradesh

b). Karnataka

c). Mizoram

d). Arunachal Pradesh

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic : WHO for eliminating industrially produced Tran’s fats by 2023

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society – Health

 

Why in news?

WHO for eliminating industrially produced Tran’s fats by 2023

The WHO has welcomed its partnership with the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) targets to achieve eliminating industrially produced Tran’s fats by 2023.

 

More about on news:

  • The commitment made by the IFBA is in line with the WHO’s target to eliminate industrial trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023.
  • Of particular note was the decision by IFBA members to ensure that the amount of industrial trans-fat in their products does not exceed 2 gram per 100 g fat/oil globally by 2023.”
  • it also stressed the value of regulatory action on labelling, marketing and urged industry for full adherence to the WHO code of marketing of breast milk substitutes
  • WHO will be monitoring the next steps to be taken by companies to help ensure the commitment is realized.
  • WHO has called on all food producers and oil and fat manufacturers, not only IFBA members, to commit to elimination of industrial trans-fat from the global food supply.
  • Tran’s fat intake is responsible for over 500,000 deaths from coronary heart disease each year globally.

 

Tran’s fats:

  • Trans-fatty acids (TFAs) or Tran’s fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.
  • These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally.
  • Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

 

Impact of Trans fats:

  • Raises the level of bad cholesterol levels
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Other conditions such as inflammation; blood vessel injury can also be linked to Trans fats.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Trans-fats

  • The primary dietary source of trans-fats in processed foods is partially hydrogenated oils.
  • It is widely used in Food Industry as they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 


Info graphic Summary


 

3rd to 9th may 2019 info graphic summary