Facts Corner-Part-10

Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017:

  • Recently the government of this state came up with a unique way of preserving trees, which is in consonance with an age-old tradition of promoting amity between man and nature, by encouraging people to forge a relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through a practice locally known as Mith/Mit or Mitini. A recent notification by the Forests, Environment & Wildlife Management Department,
  • Government of Sikkim titled Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017 states that the “State government shall allow any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini relationship.”

Neonicotinoid pesticides:

  • Despite the partial ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013 by E.U., a recent study has revealed that one-fourth of honey samples collected in Britain are contaminated with neonicotinoid pesticides.
  • Neonicotinoid pesticide is a widely used insecticide and a threat to bees and other pollinators.
  • The pesticide is mainly used in seed treatment and due to the residue it has left in the soil, there is still a significant amount of the pesticide found in the harvest.
  • The study has also disclosed that the present level of neonicotinoid will not pose a threat to human health.

Organophosphorus gas:

  • Scientists in the U.S. have determined that a family of widely used pesticides poses a threat to dozens of endangered and threatened species, including Pacific salmon,
  • Atlantic sturgeon and Puget Sound orcas.Organophosphorus gas was originally developed as a chemical weapon before World War II.
  • Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Michigan, has been selling chlorpyrifos for spraying on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops since the 1960s.
  • It is among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with Dow selling about 5 million pounds (2.3 million kilograms) domestically each year.
  • Studies have shown for years that even low levels of pesticides running off into streams and rivers can impair the growth, swimming ability and reproductive systems of salmon. Potentially harmful levels of the toxins then build up in the bodies of orcas, also known as killer whales, that eat salmon.

Cobalt tax grab:

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo, supplier of two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, aims to more than double royalty charges. That’s bad news for electric cars: the metal is a key battery ingredient.
  • But the move could backfire in the long-term by accelerating an already frantic search for alternatives.
  • Cobalt has been at the heart of the green fever in metals markets over the last yearLike lithium, nickel and even copper, its outlook has been transformed by ambitious forecasts for the growth of electric vehicles.
  • The price of what was once an ingredient for aerospace superalloys has gone from under $35,000 per tonne a year ago to over $75,000
  • Cobalt is usually not mined alone, and tends to be produced as a by-product of nickel and copper mining activities. (Cobalt naturally occurs in nickel bearing laterites and nickel-copper sulfide deposits and, thus, is most often extracted as a by-product of nickel and copper.)


  • UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is envisaged to make e-governance.
  • It is developed by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to drive Mobile Governance in India.
  • It provides a unified approach where citizens can install one application to avail multiple government services.
  • The app services include Aadhaar, DigiLocker, and Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). Etc.

SAREX – 18

  • It is a joint search and rescue exercise between India and Japan to help increase mutual understanding in Anti-Piracy operations.
  • During the exercise, helicopters of the Japan and Indian Coast Guard will perform cross landing operations to improve compatibility between the two forces.
  • This year, it will be held in Chennai.
  • Japanese coast guard ship “Tsugaru”, a patrol vessel with helicopters will participate in this exercise.

LEADS Index:

  • Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) index is a composite indicator to assess international trade logistics across states and Union territories.
  • It is based on a stakeholders’ survey conducted by Deloitte for the Ministry of commerce and industry.
  • Gujarat topped the first-of-its-kind index, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh took the second and third positions, respectively.
  • The index is loosely based on the World Bank’s biannual Logistics Performance Index (LPI).
  • India was ranked 35 among 160 countries in LPI in 2016, up from 54 in 2014.
  • LEADS is based on eight parameters such as infrastructure, services, timeliness, track and trace, competitiveness of pricing, safety of cargo, operating environment and regulatory process.

Kala Azar:

  • India has missed the 2017 deadline for elimination of Kala Azar.
  • Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.
  • Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, is caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites.
  • It is transmitted to humans through infected sandflies.
  • It is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.
  • The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, may result in the death.
  • It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
  • India itself accounts for half the global burden of the disease.
  • Further, a little-known skin condition called Post Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL), a red flag for transmission of Kala Azar has been growing steadily over the past few years.

Threat to the chiru:

  • Chiru goat is also known as the Tibetrean antelope.
  • It is native of China (Tibet, Xinjiang region) and India (North Eastern Ladakh region) and regionally extinct in Nepal.
  • Its numbers and distribution have decreased sharply as a result of commercial hunting for the underfur for making of shawls.
  • In India, it is killed for making of the famous Shahtoosh shawls, which is renowned for its quality from Srinagar.
  • In 2017, it has been included in “Near Threatened” category by IUCN.
  • The parliamentary standing committee on science & technology, environment & forests had recommended to the ministry of environment, to conserve and breed the Chiru goat, which can then be given to the shawl makers.
  • The motive behind such recommendation is to provide a sustainable livelihood opportunity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • However, Ministry of Environment has ruled out the possibility of conservation breeding citing that it may lead to decline in its population due to commercial poaching.
  • The Ministry said there have been representations from weavers and traders in Jammu and Kashmir for the removal of ban on trade in shatoosh through amendments in the Wildlife Acts of India, Jammu and Kashmir State, China, and the CITES, in order to help the shatoosh weaving industry in the Kashmir region.
  • Chiru inhabits high altitude Tibetan Plateau and requires large expanse of land for its movement to fulfil its feeding and breeding requirements and therefore rearing in captivity is extremely difficult.
  • Chiru is listed under Schedule-I with the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

‘Vajra Prahar’;

‘Vajra Prahar’ is Indo-US Special Forces joint training exercise conducted alternately in India and the US started in 2010.

The aim of the exercise is
  • to promote military relations between the two countries 
  • enhancing interoperability and mutual exchange of tactics between Special Force
  • to share the best practices between the two armies
  • to develop joint strategies by sharing expertise of conducting operations in a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism environment
  • special operations in urban areas


American and Japanese military forces have launched joint exercise named Iron Fist.

  • The 13th annual Iron Fist exercises kicked off in the U.S. western state of California.
  • More than 500 U.S. Marines and sailors are partnering with about 350 members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force to train in fire support operations and amphibious assaults.
  • It is a realistic and challenging training to prepare both USA and Japan from anything that might happen in the Pacific so that they are ready to respond.
  • Iron Fist training will take place at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and Naval Auxiliary Landing Field San Clemente Island. 
  • The main training event will be a scenario-based amphibious assault launched from the USS Rushmore amphibious landing ship, in coordination with an inland helicopter assault.
  • This will be the last joint exercise before Japan establishes its Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade in March. It could be used to defend contested territories.
  • The Iron Fist military drill comes amidst the tensions that North Korea has put on South Korea, Japan and USA.
  • North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November that is capable of hitting anywhere in the continental United States.

Global Manufacturing Index: Japan Tops:

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has Global Manufacturing Index which is topped by Japan.

  • Japan is followed by South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, the US, Sweden, Austria and Ireland in the top 10.
  • India has been ranked at the 30th place in the index. Among BRICS nations, Russia is ranked 35th, Brazil 41st and South Africa at 45th place.
  • India’s neighbouring countries Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh (80th) secured 66th, 74th and 80th spot respectively. Other countries ranked below India include Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Mauritius and the UAE. 
Assessment Criteria
The report analyses development of modern industrial strategies and urges collaborative action. It has categorised 100 countries into four groups 
  • Leading (strong current base, high level of readiness for future)
  • High Potential (limited current base, high potential for future)
  • Legacy (strong current base, at risk for future)
  • Nascent (limited current base, low level of readiness for future)
India has been placed in the ‘Legacy’ group along with Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Turkey, among others. China figures among ‘leading countries’, while Brazil and South Africa are in ‘nascent’ ones.

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