IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-December 2022

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IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-September 2021

IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-December 2022

  1. A team of researchers has discovered a nursery of baby hammerhead sharks off an island in Ecuador’s Galapagos archipelago, a finding that could help protect the species from the threat of extinction. The so-called haven for hammerhead hatchlings, who are less than a year old, was discovered near Isabela Island, the Galapagos’ largest island, and offers refuge for the sharks during mating and early development stages. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers the scalloped hammerhead shark, the species found in the Galapagos, as “critically endangered.”
  2. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched Project Elephant in 1992 to ensure the long-term survival of elephants in their natural habitats. The number of elephant reserves in India is 32 with the latest addition being the Agasthyamalai Elephant Reserve in 2022. India is home to nearly 60% Asian elephants and the last count of the species in 2017 had put the number at 29,964. While the number of elephants in India has increased in the past few years, the species is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species and Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act.
  3. The Sirsa (or Sarsa) River originates in the Shivalik hills in Himachal Pradesh. It flows through Solan district that borders Punjab, enters Rupnagar district in Punjab and eventually flows into the Sutlej. On December 21, 1704, a pitched battle had taken place on the banks of the Sarsa between the Khalsa and Mughal armies.
  4. Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae, known in the Philippinesas Severe Tropical Storm Paeng, was a very large and deadly tropical cyclone that wreaked havoc across the Philippines and later impacted Hong Kong and Macau.
  5. Hunger has taken a grisly shape in several corners of the world this year, so much so that the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) called 2022 ‘the year of unprecedented hunger’.
  6. The location of the 2004 quake and subsequent tsunami is an important, though understudied one. It is where the Indo-Australian tectonic plate – a body of rock — is grinding against the Burma plate, which is part of the Eurasian plate. Millions of years ago, the supercontinent Pangea split into two: Laurasia (Europe, North America and Asia excluding India) and Gondwana (South America, Africa, Madagascar, Indian subcontinent and Australia).
  7. India imports about 90 per cent of sunflower oil from Russia and Ukraine; but the Russian invasion of Ukraine severely affected imports; besides, Indian cultivation of sunflower has declined by 90 per cent in the last 30 years.
  8. The communication GSAT-6 satellite was launched in 2015.  It was designed to provide communication through the S-band and a national beam in the C-band for strategic users, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The S and C bands are part of the microwave spectrum, which includes frequencies ranging from 1 gigahertz to over 100 GHz.  GSAT-6 had two main components: Space segment and ground segment. Under the revised utilisation plan, it was proposed to utilise the space segment capacity for meeting the communication needs of the strategic and societal sectors. Department of Space (DoS) was responsible for realising and launching the satellite, while DRDO was responsible for the ground segment.
  9. The International Union for Conservation of Nature recorded 73 critically endangered species in India. These include nine species of mammals, 18 of birds, 26 reptiles and 20 amphibians.
  10. Halogen elements chlorine and bromine, which are present at high levels on Mars, likely played a role in the formation of manganese oxide minerals.  Extremophiles — organisms that can live in extreme environments— are known to thrive without oxygen on Earth. 
  11. India has been divided into four zones — II, III, IV and V — according to the seismic zoning mapof India prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Zone V is seismically the most active region, while Zone II is the least.
  12. The Department of Biotechnology and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, under Mission Covid Suraksha, supported Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited for scale up and phase II / III clinical trial of ‘GEMCOVAC™-19’, India’s first mRNA vaccineagainst Covid-19.
  13. Europe has suffered the largest, most devastating epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The risk of transmission to humans by exposure to contaminated poultry products is considered negligible.
  14. Minimum import price(MIP) is a temporary measure to provide protection to domestic farmers from predatory pricing of imports. Below this price, import of the commodity is not be allowed.
  15. Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary and Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh as well as Shahgarh Bulge, Bhainsrorgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan had been identified as other suitable areas for the cheetah in India.
  16. Barda Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Gujarat.
  17. The saga of giant viruses (i.e. visible by light microscopy) started in 2003 with the discovery of Mimivirus. Two additional types of giant viruses infecting Acanthamoeba have been discovered since: the Pandoraviruses (2013) and Pithovirus sibericum (2014), the latter one revived from 30,000-y-old Siberian permafrost.
  18. Acanthamoeba species are infected by the largest known DNA viruses. These include icosahedral Mimiviruses, amphora-shaped Pandoraviruses, and Pithovirus sibericum, the latter one isolated from 30,000-y-old permafrost. Mollivirus sibericum, a fourth type of giant virus, was isolated from the same permafrost sample. Its approximately spherical virion (0.6-µm diameter) encloses a 651-kb GC-rich genome encoding 523 proteins of which 64% are ORFans; 16% have their closest homolog in Pandoraviruses and 10% in Acanthamoeba castellanii probably through horizontal gene transfer. The Mollivirus nucleocytoplasmic replication cycle was analyzed using a combination of “omic” approaches that revealed how the virus highjacks its host machinery to actively replicate.
  19. Kepler-1658b is a gas giant exoplanet or a ‘Hot Jupiter’. These planets are more than twice the diameter of Earthand possess enough gravity to hold onto hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, according to the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  20. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be convening a climate ambition summit in September next year in what he termed as his ‘relentless fight’ against the existential threat of climate change that the world faces. It will be a no-nonsense summit.  No exceptions.  No compromises. There will be no room for back-sliders, greenwashers, blame-shifters or repackaging of announcements of previous years.
  21. The Murah calves, a buffalo breed predominantly found in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.
  22. Seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis, a red alga growing in tropical and subtropical waters and brown seaweed Zonaria farlowii. Seaweed appears to inhibit release of greenhouse gases through two chemicals, bromoform and bromochloromethane, which can induce cancer.
  23. The ministries of skill development and entrepreneurship, external affairs and civil aviation launched the two schemes to create a “database of the skilled workforce returning to the country under the Vande Bharat Missionand facilitating employment opportunities for those registering on Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM) portal.”
  24. Drugs such as methylphenidate used for treating ADHD — one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in children — are highly expensive.
  25. Methanehas more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years of its lifetime in the atmosphere. The common sources of methane are oil and natural gas systems, agricultural activities, coal mining and wastes. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) can impact methane levels. In the troposphere — the upper part of the atmosphere — NOx combines with ozone to form hydroxyl radicals. Hydroxyl radicals in the troposphere react with methane to form water and CO2. Less nitrogen oxide pollution means less hydroxyl and more methane.
  26. South Africa is now the most food-secure country in Africa despite numerous global threats to agriculture, including climate change, according to a new report. The country’s achievement may show the way to other struggling countries in the region. This is the first time a country in sub-Saharan Africa has topped the listacross the continent. The country has made a record leap from 70th position in 2021 to 59th on the 2022 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) report by British weekly The Economist. South Africa toppled Tunisia in the continent, which is now in second place and 62nd globally among 113 countries eligible for the ranking.
  27. Destructive pests — Pod borer, Green peach aphid and fall armyworm.
  28. The Department of Biotechnology is implementing a farmers-centric mission programme, ‘Biotech-Krishi Innovation Science Application Network’ (Biotech-KISAN). The programme connects Indian farmers with the best scientists and institutions.
  29. The Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) is a research infrastructure to quantify the greenhouse gasbalance of Europe and adjacent regions. In November 2015 it received the international legal status of ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) by decision of the European Commission. ICOS provides the essential long-term observations required to understand the present state and predict future behavior of the global carbon cycle and greenhouse gas emissions. It monitors and assesses the effectiveness of carbon sequestration and/or greenhouse gases emission reduction activities on global atmospheric composition levels, including attribution of sources and sinks by region and sector. The highly standardized network offers improved access to data and enables the development of flux products for research and political application. ICOS is a state-of-the-art facility for the European research community. It contributes to the European share of global greenhouse gas observations under Group on Earth Observations (GEO), World Meteorological Organization GAW and GCOS
  30. The Group on Earth Observations(GEO) coordinates international efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). It links existing and planned Earth observation systems and supports the development of new ones in cases of perceived gaps in the supply of environment-related information. It aims to construct a global public infrastructure for Earth observations consisting of a flexible and distributed network of systems and content providers.
  31. Elapid venoms contained large amounts of neurotoxic and cytotoxic 3FTxs (a class of proteins called “three finger toxins”) and PLA2s (a class of enzymes), whereas the viper venoms were dominated by cytotoxic PLA2s, (and other enzymes such as) Snake Venom Metalloproteinases and Snake Venom Serine Proteinases. 
  32. The UN 2023 Water Conference, officially known as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028), will take place in New York.
  33. The central government has notified Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan – Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh nivaran) Yojana for promoting 2G ethanol production from cellulosic and lignocellulosic biomass, including petrochemical route in the country by providing financial support for setting up 2G ethanol bio-refineries.
  34. A sample of a space rock called Ryugu that returned to Earth almost two years ago may hold the answers to the origin of the planet, according to a new study. Samples of Ryugu were carried to Earth in 2020 by the Japanese space agency’s asteroid sample-return mission, Hayabusa 2. Ryugu was similar in composition to CI chondrites. They are a group of rare carbonaceous chondrite (CC), a type of stony meteorite.
  35. Cholera, spread through water or food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, can cause severe diarrhea and kills an estimated 20,000 to 140,000 people each year.
  36. The WHO Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) was launched in 2015 to foster AMR surveillance and inform strategies to contain AMR. The system started with surveillance of AMR in bacteria causing common human infections and has expanded its scope to include surveillance of antimicrobial consumption (AMC), invasive fungal infections, and a One Health surveillance model relevant to human health. To meet future challenges, it is in continuous evolution to enhance the quality and representativeness of data to inform the AMR burden accurately. As of the end of 2022, 127 countries, territories and areas participate in GLASS. 
  37. High levels of bacteria resistance, frequently causing life-threatening bloodstream infections in hospitals, such as Klebsiella pneumoniaeand Acinetobacter spp, which require treatment with last-resort antibiotics, such as carbapenems.
  38. Over 60 per cent of Neisseria gonorrhoeainfections, a common sexually transmitted disease, show resistance to ciprofloxacin, one of the most widely used oral antibacterials.
  39. Over 20 per cent of coliisolates, the most common pathogen in urinary tract infections, were resistant to ampicillin and co-trimoxazole, first-line drugs, as well as second-line treatments known as fluoroquinolones.
  40. In the year 2021, the Securities and Exchange Board of India introduced an Environment, Social and Governancereporting structure called Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report to be operational from the financial year 2022-23. This is similar to the globally accepted protocol called Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, where companies have to report their sustainability performance.
  41. The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) is an organization of 32 members aiming to develop guidelines for voluntary climate-centered financial disclosures across industries. The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is an organization that was established in December 2015 with the goal of developing a set of voluntary climate-related financial risk disclosures. These disclosures would ideally be adopted by companies which would help inform investors and other members of the public about the risks they face related to climate change. The organization was formed by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) as a means of coordinating disclosures among companies impacted by climate change. According to the organization’s website, the disclosure recommendations are structured around four thematic areas that represent core elements of how organizations operate: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. The Task Force consists of membersfrom across the G20, representing both preparers and users of financial disclosures. The TCFD is chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P.
  42. Illegal animal trade in India is regulated under the Customs Act, 1962; Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992; Exim Policy and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  43. Germplasm of indigenous brinjal varieties — malpur, majarigota, kudachi, udupi, 112 GO and rabkavi.
  44. Garcinia imberti Bourd — an evergreen tree endemic to the Agastyamala forests of the Western Ghats — which was listed as threatened in 2012, is now critically endangered. Similarly, Chlorophytum borivilianum — a herb found in peninsular India — has moved from ‘near threatened’ to ‘critically endangered’.
  45. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) is a collection of representatives from indigenous governments, indigenous non- governmental organizations and indigenous scholars and activists that organize around the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other important international environmental meetings to help coordinate indigenous strategies at these meetings, provide advice to the government parties, and influence the interpretation of government obligations to recognize and respect indigenous rights to the knowledge and resources. The IIFB was formed during the III Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP III) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 1996.
  46. All parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity must enshrine the rights of IPLCwithin the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and adopt a framework that truly will allow humanity to live in harmony with nature by 2050.
  47. The SARS-CoV-2 virus triggered microglia, the brain’s immune cells, activating the same pathway that Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s proteins can activate.
  48. The Beaufort Gyreis one of the two major ocean currents in the Arctic Ocean. It is roughly located north of the Alaskan and Canadian coast. In the past, Arctic sea-ice would circulate in the Beaufort gyre up to several years, leading to the formation of very thick multi-year sea-ice.
  49. Najafgarhjheel (lake) is an important natural infrastructure for the area. It acts as a flood barrier, replenishes groundwater (with a high potential for delivering water to a sizable population) and offers habitat to various plant, animal and bird species. The lake is situated along National Highway 48 in a natural valley in southwest Delhi, close to the Gurugram-Rajokri border. Sewage from Gurugram and the other villages of Delhi has mostly filled the lake.
  50. A hundred and nineteen experts from academia and civil society have called on the United Nations (UN), World Economic Forum (WEF), European Commission (EC) and World Wide Fund for Nature to reject the ‘Nature Positive Fund’ at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada.
  51. The importance of protecting groundwater and methods for its sustainable use will be the highlights of the United Nations-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022that begins December 7, 2022 in Paris, France. The two-day conference will be organised by UN-Water, UNESCO and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre.  The summit that aims to raise awareness on groundwater conservation at the global stage will mark the completion of the “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible” campaign run by UN-Water throughout 2022. Groundwater management is imperative to meet the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goal 6 of providing clean water and sanitation for all.
  52. The Herbicide Tolerance (HT) Genetic Modification of DMH-11 mustard and its parental lines enable the spraying of the herbicide, glufosinate, which will be absorbed as higher toxic chemical residues by this GM HT mustard, passed on downstream to consumers.
  53. Pelagic fish, which live in the upper layers of open water, such as herring, sardines and anchovies were the least expensive and most nutrient-dense fish in 72 per cent of the countries. Small pelagic fish are up to twice as economical as other varieties and are rich in selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron and calcium.
  54. The territory of the Indigenous Kakataibo community of Puerto Nuevoin Peru lost 15 per cent of its tree cover between 2013 and 2021.
  55. The Business and Biodiversity Forum will bring together governments, policymakers, business leaders, the finance sector and interest groups to devise ways to support implementation of the goals and targets of the post-2020 framework. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity recently convened the Business and Biodiversity Forum.
  56. The Nature and Culture Summit will provide a platform for strengthening links between biological and cultural diversity. There is also an event to help the global financial community to engage with negotiators.
  57. A poignant example of biopiracy is that of axolotl, a Mexican salamander that can regrow its limbs and organs and thus may hold clues for human tissue regeneration. The axolotl is endangered and found only in Xochimilco Lake Complex in southern Mexico City.
  58. Kurinjihoney collected from the Shola forest region in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. This honey is considered rare as it is collected from bees that feed on Strobilanthes kunthiana, a shrub with purplish blue flower that blooms once in 12 years. Peliyan tribal community collects the honey.
  59. Pune-based non-profit Swayam Shikshan Prayogwas recognised for its efforts in helping women farmers in the Marathwada region adopt climate-resilient agricultural practices for over two decades at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27). The non-profit bagged the Local Adaptation Champions Award in the capacity and knowledge category at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The award was organised by The Global Center on Adaptation, an international organisation that provides awareness and resources on adaptive climate solutions through public and private sector collaborations.
  60. Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Paryojana(MKSP) a sub-component of the National Livelihood Rural Mission, seeks to improve women’s present status in agriculture.
  61. Madagascar, along with India, was part of Gondwana, one of two supercontinents formed millions of years ago. South America, Africa and Australia too were part of the great landmass. Madagascar later split and moved till it reached its present position in the Indian Ocean, separated from Africa by the Mozambique Channel. This relative isolation enabled the high endemism among its biota.
  62. Ringworm disease, caused by a fungus called tinea, is on the rise. Red itchy patches occur in the groin, on the head or in different places of the body. The rash spreads if left untreated. Yeast infection candida albicansis also being reported to the Sambhavna Clinic by female survivors.
  63. The Triassic Period followed the End-Permian Extinction, popularly called the ‘Great Dying’, where more than 90 per cent of the planet’s species perished. This was about 250 million years ago.
  64. Clinker is a nodular materialproduced in the kilning stage during the production of cement and is used as the binder in many cement products.
  65. Fugitive emission are gases or vapours that escape capturing systems due to faulty equipments, mostly observed due to mishandling of limestone, coal, additives, clinker and cement. 
  66. Maliparbat bauxite mine is located in Korapaut district, Odisha.
  67. The ongoing negotiations on a global treaty to end plastic pollution in Uruguay’s Punta Del Este saw a win for waste pickers, with a voluntary body formed to ensure they are heard. The ‘Group of Friends of Waste Pickers’will warrant their representation at intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) meetings. A delegation of International Alliance of Waste pickers (IAW) attending the negotiations demanded to be represented in all future treaty discussions. It also called for ring-fenced United Nations funding for six waste pickers from different regions to attend subsequent meetings. IAW is a networking process that connects and supports thousands of waste picker organisations in over 28 countries.
  68. District cooling systems (DCS) are centralised cooling techniques for clusters of buildings instead of individual buildings, which is much more efficient. DCS generate chilled water in a central plant which can then be distributed to multiple buildings via underground insulated pipes. In India’s context, DCS can consume 20-30 per cent less power than the most efficient conventional cooling solutions, noted the report. Savings can increase to 60-80 per cent compared to average three-star air conditioners.
  69. Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Syndromea rare adverse effects following immunisation (AEFI).
  70. Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) is a hybrid seed variety that has stirred a storm between scientists, farmers and activists over its commercialisation. It is the first GM crop to be commercially released and grown by farmers in India.
  71. The Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival, and political empowerment.
  72. Stable Diffusionis a deep learning, text-to-image model released in 2022. It is primarily used to generate detailed images conditioned on text descriptions, though it can also be applied to other tasks such as inpainting, outpainting, and generating image-to-image translations guided by a text prompt.
  73. We may witness the collision of large cloud computing companies like Amazon with AI model players like OpenAI, Anthropic, Cohere, and AI21.
  74. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has the potential to evolve by exchanging large fragments of the genome, called recombination. First detected in January 2022, the XBB lineageof SARS-CoV-2 resulted from recombinant between Omicron sublineages BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75. The lineage was largely detected in genomes from Singapore and India, with the largest number of genomes on GISAID belonging to the U.S. and India.  Although BA.5 was first detected in November 2021, certain BA.5 sublineages having mutations at key antigenic sites in the virus have emerged over the months, including BF.7, BF.14 and BQ.1. Lineage BQ.1 is a BA.5 sublineage having the mutations K444T and N460K in the spike protein of the virus. 
  75. Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common winter virus which usually causes mild coughs and colds but occasionally results in serious infections like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, particularly in young children.
  76. There is no international binding agreement to ensure rocket stages always perform controlled re-entries nor on the technologies with which to do so. The Liability Convention1972 requires countries to pay for damages, not prevent them. These technologies include wing-like attachments, de-orbiting brakes, and extra fuel on the re-entering body, and design changes that minimise debris formation.
  77. A three-member body, the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) was formed by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in April, 2016, on the directions of the Supreme Court in its judgment in the Common Cause vs. Union of India case in May, 2015. The body is set up to regulate the content of Central and State government advertisements in all media platforms. The SC had also mandated States to constitute their own respective bodies. While some States have set up committees to regulate public advertising content, some have given consent to the CCRGA to monitor their advertisements.
  78. The bit is the fundamental unit of a classical computer. Its value is 1 if a corresponding transistor is on and 0 if the transistor is off. The transistor can be in one of two states at a time – on or off – so a bit can have one of two values at a time, 0 or 1. The qubit is the fundamental unit of a quantum computers(QC). It’s typically a particle like an electron. One qubit can encode two states. Five qubits can encode 32 states. A computer with N qubits can encode 2N states – whereas a computer with N transistors can only encode 2 × N states. So a qubit-based computer can access more states than a transistor-based computer, and thus access more computational pathways and solutions to more complex problems.
  79. End-to-end encryption is a communication process that encrypts data being shared between two devices. It prevents third parties like cloud service providers, internet service providers (ISPs) and cybercriminals from accessing data while it is being transferred. End-to-end encryption ensures that user data is protected from unwarranted parties including service providers, cloud storage providers, and companies that handle encrypted data. The data can only be accessed with access to the device passcode, password, recovery contact, or recovery key. The technology also makes it harder for service providers to share user information from their services with authorities. However, end-to-end encryption does not protect metadata, which includes information like when a file was created, the date when a message is sent and the endpoints between which data was shared.
  80. News of the success of a drug to reduce cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease burst on the horizon with all the promise of being a silver bullet. Lecanemab belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. These antibody-mediated drugs target beta amyloid, the protein deposition that is seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and disrupts cells function. Lecanemab appears to have shown modest effects in early dementia both via clinical improvements (scores in the CDR and ADAS-Cog rating scales) and reduction in amyloid plaques.
  81. Reichsbürger loosely translates to “citizens of the Reich”, the German Empire founded in 1871. Followers of the ideology are groups or individuals who do not believe in the post-World War II Federal Republic of Germany and its legal system.
  82. Article 25(1) of the Constitution says “all persons” are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and the right to profess, practise and propagate religion freely.
  83. Iran’s morality police, formally known as Gasht-e-Ershad (Guidance Patrol), were established under hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to “spread the culture of modesty and hijab”, the mandatory female head covering. The Guidance Patrol frequently detains women, even for minor offences like showing a few strands of hair from under the hijab. They are released only after a male relative’s assurances.
  84. Located on the southern tip of the Indian Peninsula, just 10 nautical miles from the major international sea route and east-west shipping axis, and with a natural water depth of more than 20m within a nautical mile from the coast, the Vizhinjam port is likely to play a pivotal role in the maritime development of the country and Kerala. The port is expected to leverage the growth of minor ports in Kerala and other regional ports, creating thousands of employment opportunities.
  85. Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) enjoy the highest protection both in India and globally. The earliest estimates show the population was about 1,260 in 1969, but has declined by 75% in the last 30 years.
  86. India is home to nearly 60% Asian elephants and the last count of the species in 2017 had put the number at 29,964. While the number of elephants in India has increased in the past few years, the species is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species and Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act.
  87. Ransomwareis a type of malicious software, used by cyber criminals, to infect a computer system by blocking access to the stored data by encrypting the files. A ransom is then demanded from the owner in exchange for the decryption key. It can spread throughout the network by exploiting existing vulnerabilities. Ransomware attacks can also be accompanied by theft of sensitive data for other sinister motives.
  88. One family of plants that humans in all parts of the world are closely associated with are the cucurbitaceae. This diversified family includes watermelons, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes. Less widely cultivated cucurbits include the bitter, bottle, wax, snake, sponge and ridge gourd. Cucurbits are usually hairy climbers, and male and female flowers are separate. Their fruit — which comes in a wide range of colour, flavour, shape and size — are valued as components of healthy diets. They grow well in India’s geo-climate. The sowing season is usually from November to January, with fruits ripening in the summer.
  89. Bitter gourds are rich sources of vitamin C and minerals. A daily 100-gram serving will provide all the vitamin C (and half of vitamin A) required by an average-sized person, while contributing only 150 mg of fat. In general, cucurbits are the nutritional opposites of processed foods, which tend to be rich in fats and carbohydrates. With water content of about 85-95%, they are a source of low-calorie bulk. Besides being dietary mainstays and of medicinal value, cucurbits have other interesting uses. Loofah or sponge gourd, when dried, is used as a sponge in skin care. Dried bottle gourds (Tamil: surakkai) serve as resonators in musical instruments such as the sarod, sitar and tanpura.
  90. If you look at the night sky, it is obviously dark, but it isn’t perfectly black. Yes, there are the stars, but the night sky itself glows. This isn’t light pollution, but the atmosphere glowing naturally. On a dark moonless night in the countryside, away from city lights, you can see the trees and hills silhouetted against the sky. This glow, called airglow, is produced by atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. In visible light, oxygen produces green and red light, hydroxyl (OH) molecules produce red light, and sodium produces a sickly yellow. Nitrogen, while far more abundant in the air than sodium, does not contribute much to airglow. The distinct colours of airglow are the result of atoms and molecules releasing particular amounts of energy (quanta) in the form of light.
  91. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer, mercifully more commonly known as OSIRIS-REx, is a NASA mission to near-Earth asteroid Bennu. A key goal of this robotic mission was to acquire samples of Bennu and return them to Earth for analysis.
  92. Researchers have identified a gene variant which increases the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and head injury associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), according to a study. In a study of people at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), US, researchers first found a greater percentage of ADRD in Veterans with PTSD and in those with traumatic brain injury (TBI), relative to those without. They also found higher rates of ADRD in Veterans who had inherited the ε4 variant. The number of ε4 variants a person inherits is fixed at birth, but their impact differs with age, according to Logue, who is also an Army Veteran and an associate professor at Boston University, said the study.
  93. Four new species of azooxanthellate corals have been discoveredfor the first time in Indian waters near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Azooxanthellate corals are a kind of corals that lack zooxanthellae and get their nutrition not from the light but rather by from various kinds of plankton. With the bulk of species reportedly seen from depths of 200 to 1000 metres, these coral groupings are deep-sea representatives.
  94. From the Agasthyamala biosphere reserve in the southern part of the Western Ghats in the Thiruvananthapuram district, scientists have discovered a new speciesof evergreen tree of the genus Miliusa. The finding is unique because thus far, only two mature trees have been found in its native environment, underlining the need of conservation. The tree, grows to height of six to nine metres has drooping branches and has been named Miliusa agasthyamalana in honour of the place where it was discovered.
  95. In the Western Ghats, a brand-new indigenous honeybeespecies has been found. Named  Apis karinjodian or the Indian black honeybee, the discovery come 200 years after the last species was discovered in the Western Ghats. It has brought the total number of honeybee species in the world to 11. This species can be found in Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and portions of Tamil Nadu, from the middle Western Ghats and Nilgiris to the southern Western Ghats. Based on the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, it has been designated as near threatened. 
  96. A team of University of Delhi researchers discovereda remarkable set of fossilised dinosaur eggs, with one egg nesting within the other, at the Dinosaur Fossil National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar District.
  97. The hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test measures the amount of blood sugar (glucose) attached to your hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. It is an important blood test that gives a good indication of how well your diabetes is being controlled.
  98. Vitamin B1 does not break down in the body and has no known effect on skin. The body strongly regulates it, absorbing little ingested thiamine after the first 5 milligrams and quickly excreting any excess via urine, so it does not build up. Overdose is almost impossible. As in humans, thiamine is an essential nutrient for mosquitoes. There is no reason they would fear it or try to avoid it. Nor is there evidence that they can smell it. The best sources of thiamine are whole grains, beans, pork, poultry and eggs. If eating a carnitas burrito won’t make you repel mosquitoes, then neither should a pill.
  99. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD is a chronic condition. The primary medications used to treat OCD are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SRIs/SSRIs, which are commonly prescribed for treatment of depression and anxiety. But when used for OCD, these medications are typically prescribed at much higher dosages.
  100. A hallucination is a false perception of objects or events involving your senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Hallucinations seem real, but they’re not. Chemical reactions and/or abnormalities in your brain cause hallucinations.
  101. Plants and drugs containing anticholinergic elements lower or stop the production of acetylcholine, a type of neurotransmitter that aids in thinking, memory and the visual system. Loss of acetylcholine is linked to several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s diseases and types of dementia. Hallucinations caused by acetylcholine loss take a more solid appearance— where the patients see distinct people, places and things— as opposed to ‘unformed’ hallucinations, where patients see shapes, colours and patterns. Since acetylcholine is an integral part of the memory system, hallucinations caused by its absence tends to feature people or places that the patient knows or is familiar with. It could include the patient’s “deceased relatives or people that vaguely familiar to them in some way.
  102. Made out of gelatin, a gelbot is capable of moving without requiring an extra power source and is reportedly a significant advance in the world of ‘soft robotics,’ or robots that are fashioned out of organic and non-metallic materials. Water-based gels, which feel like gummy bears, are believed to be extremely promising materials for soft robotics. The gelbots, which are still experimental, are created by 3D printing and researchers who’ve developed them say they could be used for moving on surfaces through the human body to deliver targeted medicines. They could also be deployed as marine robots, patrolling and monitoring the ocean’s surface.
  103. Scientists have made the toughest materialon Earth yet using equal parts of chromium, cobalt and nickel— CrCoNi. They tested the alloy for strength and ductility and found that it has the highest toughness ever recorded. The alloy gets only tougher in the cold. This material, though expensive to make, can be used to build structures which can withstand extreme cold conditions, such as those in deep space.
  104. NASA’s Orion capsule re-enteredthe Earth’s atmosphere with temperatures hitting a scorching 2,760°C (5,000°F) at 32 times the speed of sound on December 11. It splashed down into the Pacific Ocean off Mexico, west of Baja California near Guadalupe Island.
  105. Issa chimpanzees live in an environment dominated by woodland. It is interspersed with grasslands, rocky outcrops and forests alongside streams. We followed chimpanzees for 15 months, collecting data every two minutes on an individual’s positional behaviour, the vegetation type they were in (forest, woodland), and what they were doing (foraging, resting, grooming and so on).
  106. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal have carried out whole genome sequencing of banyan (Ficus benghalensis) and peepal ( Ficus religiosa) from leaf tissue samples. They also undertook a comprehensive genome-wide phylogenetic analysis with 50 other angiosperm plant species, including four other sequenced Ficus species.
  107. Recently, a scientist and artist have teamed up to build a large, data-driven robotic plant that withers or flourishes depending on countries’ policy commitments: a tangible demonstration of how human actions will impact the world’s threatened species. Called “ECONARIO,” the 5.5-meter (18-foot) tall artwork took a year to build from recycled steel and is currently on display in Montreal Convention Centre, keeping policymakers at the COP15 meeting on their toes as they attempt to hammer out a deal to protect ecosystems.
  108. Fusion works by pressing hydrogen atoms into each other with such force that they combine into helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy and heat. Unlike other nuclear reactions, it doesn’t create radioactive waste. Alarge amount of energy is released in both Nuclear Fusion and Fission processes, but substantially more in fusion than fission. For example, the fusion of two nuclei of a heavier isotope of hydrogen, called tritium, produces at least four times as much energy as the fission of a uranium atom which is the normal process of generating electricity in a nuclear reactor. Besides greater energy yield, fusion is also a carbon-free source of energy, and has negligible radiation risks.
    But fusion reactions happen only at very high temperatures, 10 times the temperature that exists at the core of the Sun, and creating such an extreme environment in a laboratory requires huge amounts of energy.
  109. The dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) monitoring in raptors is heavily biased toward the global north. DDT was first used in the World War-II to protect soldiers against malaria and typhus, which are spread by mosquitoes and body lice.
  110. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders that affects at least 10% of the world’s population. It affects the stomach and intestines with symptoms that vary from cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, diarrhoea or constipation or both. Some theories suggest that it is caused due to abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract, hypersensitivity in the gut or a disorder in the gut-brain interaction. Some theories also suggest abnormality in serotonin levels or the autonomic nervous system.
  111. High levels of a hormone called FGF21 can trigger a preference for savoury food, low levels can trigger a preference for sweeter food. It may be possible in the future to develop medicine that changes the foods you take pleasure in eating.
  112. The Great Hornbill is found in the Himalayan foothills, the Northeast and the Western Ghats. It is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
  113. The EOS-06 satellite is an advanced third generation satellite to study the biological parameters of oceans. Its applications include identifying potential fishing zones, weather forecasting, wind velocity and cyclone detection, cyclone tracking and maritime security.
  114. The researchers found that a high-sugar diet inhibited a transcription factor called dFOXO, which is involved in glucose metabolism and is known from multiple studies to affect longevity, so they now sought to enact the opposite effect by directly increasing the activity of dFOXO.
  115. Transcription factors are proteins that regulate transcription, or copying, of information from DNA into messenger RNA, which is the first and key step in gene expression. Messenger RNA is a form of RNA that carries information from DNA in the nucleus to the cytoplasmic sites of protein synthesis in the cell.
  116. Toxoplasma gondii, a multi-host protozoan parasite capable of infecting any warm-blooded species, might be the reason why some wolves can take more significant risks and establish themselves as leaders of packs. Yellowstone National Park has a diverse population of carnivores, including grey wolves ( Canis lupus) and cougars ( Puma concolor), which are intermediate and definitive hosts of T. gondii, respectively.
  117. JADES (JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey), CEERS (Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science), GLASS (Grism Lens-Amplified Survey From Space) and PEARLS (Prime Extragalactic Areas for Reionization and Lensing Science).
  118. In the storied history of football, there has only been one person to have won the World Cup three times, and Pele did so in four attempts. In the 14 World Cup games he played in, he failed to score or assist only twice – the two games in which he got injured. He scored 12 goals and eight assists, to have a total of 20 goal contributions in 14 games.
  119. Higher interest rates, by raising the cost of borrowing for everyone in the economy, have a negative impact on both consumer and investment demand. This will cause economic activity to slow down.
  120. December 26 would be observed as ‘Veer Bal Diwas’to mark the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh (9) and Sahibzada Fateh Singh (7).
  121. Sitiveni Rabuka became Fiji’s 12th prime minister on Friday, ending a political impasse that had gripped the small Pacific island nation in the 10 days since an undecisive election. Sitiveni Rabuka resides in Suva but originally came from the village of Drekeniwai, on Vanua Levu, the second-largest island of Fiji.
  122. A tender offer means an offer by a company to buy back its own shares or other specified securities through a letter of offer from the holders of the shares or other specified securities of the company. The buyback is done on a proportionate basis as per the buyback ratio, and the additional shares tendered over and above the prescribed buyback ratio get accepted if there are any unaccepted shares. It is a fixed-price buyback offer.
  123. When a listed company buys its own shares from the existing shareholders, it is known as a share buyback, which is also called share repurchase. The process reduces the number of outstanding shares in the open market over a period which can lead to better valuation and earnings per share (EPS). Currently, a company can buy back its shares from shareholders on a proportionate basis through a tender offer, or from the open market via a book-building process, or from the odd-lot holders. The maximum limit of any buyback is 25 per cent or less of the aggregate of paid-up capital and free reserves of a company.
  124. The Great Lakes, five interconnected bodies of water straddling the US-Canada border that drain into the Gulf of St Lawrence in the North Atlantic through the St Lawrence River, are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. The US-Canada border passes through Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario; Lake Michigan lies entirely in the US. Lakes Michigan and Huron are sometimes considered as a single water body; taken together, they are the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area. By itself, Lake Huron is the world’s third largest freshwater lake, after Lake Superior and Lake Victoria.
  125. When viruses mutate, they create lineages and sub-lineages — like the main trunk of the SARS-CoV-2 tree sprouting branches and sub-branches. The 7 is the same as BA., which is a sub-lineage of the Omicron sub-lineage BA.5.
  126. In 2010, at COP10 in Nagoya, Japan, countries had agreed to a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity containing 20 targets. These used to be called the Aichi targets — Aichi is the region in which Nagoya city is located. A recent report showed that none of these targets were achieved at the end of the decade. The GBF is to the 2020-30 decade what the Aichi targets were for the previous one. The challenge will be in their implementation.
  127. Western disturbances, which are storms that originate in the Mediterranean Sea, bring moisture-bearing winds to northwest India. This can result in increased moisture levels over the region. In the absence of western disturbances, local moisture sources like water vapour from rivers and soil moisture can also cause fog.
  128. “Valley fog” — which is the result of mountains preventing dense air from escaping, and in which the fog is trapped in the bowl of the valley and can last for several days — and “freezing fog”, which is the result of liquid droplets freezing on solid surfaces. Cloud-covered mountaintops often see freezing fog. These are not applicable to the Indo Gangetic Plain.
  129. “Advection fog” is larger in scale both in terms of the area covered and duration. Advection fog forms when warm, moist air passes over a cool surface, causing water vapour to condense. Advection fog mostly occurs where warm, tropical air meets cooler ocean water. If the wind blows in the right direction, sea fog can be transported over coastal land areas.
  130. Buccal fat is a type of fat found in the midsection of the face that can, in some people, make a face appear more rounded. Surgically remove some of that fat, and the face will immediately look more sculpted. 
  131. The Rohini Nayyar prize is awarded to recognize the outstanding contributions of Indians, under the age of 40 years, towards improving the lives of people in rural India. Sethrichem Sangtam has won the first Rohini Nayyar Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Rural Development.The prize has been instituted in memory of Rohini Nayyar, renowned economist who worked with the Planning Commission.
  132. ‘Arnala’is the first of the eight indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft (ASW-SWC). The Indian Navy launched ‘Arnala’ at the shipbuilding facility of L&T in Chennai’s Kattupalli recently.
  133. The original Football World Cup trophy was called the Jules Rimet Trophy, in honour of former Fifa president Jules Rimet. Rimet was instrumental in the conceptualisation of a global football tournament like the World Cup. From when the first World Cup was held in 1930 to 1970, the trophy, made of gold-plated sterling silver, weighed 3.8 kg and was given to the champions. Since 1974, the champions have been presented with the Fifa World Cup Trophy, which replaced the Jules Rimet Trophy after Brazil took it home. Designed by artist Silvio Gazzaniga and weighing 6.175 kg, the trophy contains 4,927 gm of pure gold.
  134. The 2022 FIFA World Cupwas an international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of FIFA’s member associations and 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup. It took place in Qatar from 20 November to 18 December 2022, making it the first World Cup held in the Arab world and Muslim world, and the second held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. This tournament was the last with 32 participating teams, with the number of teams being increased to 48 for the 2026 edition. Argentina were crowned the champions after winning the final against the title holder France 4–2 on penalties following a 3–3 draw after extra time. It was Argentina’s third title and their first since 1986, as well being the first nation from outside of Europe to win the tournament since 2002. French player Kylian Mbappé became the first player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final since Geoff Hurst in the 1966 final and won the Golden Boot as he scored the most goals (eight) during the tournament. Argentine captain Lionel Messi was voted the tournament’s best player, winning the Golden Ball. Teammates Emiliano Martínez and Enzo Fernández won the Golden Glove, awarded to the tournament’s best goalkeeper, and the Young Player Award, awarded to the tournament’s best young player, respectively. The tournament, with 172 goals, set a new record for the highest number of goals scored with the 32 team format. The tournament, the FIFA World Cup held every four years, was first played in 1930 in Uruguay, and has been contested by 32 teams since the 1998 event. The tournament was contested with eight round-robin groups followed by a knockout round for 16 teams. As of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, 22 final tournaments have been held and a total of 80 national teams have competed. The trophy has been won by eight national teams. Brazil, with five wins, are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Cup winners are Germany and Italy, with four titles each; Argentina, with three titles; France and inaugural winner Uruguay, each with two titles; and England and Spain, with one title each. Since Golden Boot was introduced in 1982, the player to have won it by scoring the most goals is Brazil’s Ronaldo, who scored eight goals in the 2002 edition and Mbappe joined him at the top of the list on Sunday. France’s Just Fontaine, however, holds the record for the most number of goals in a single edition of the World Cup, 13 at Sweden 1958. Since Golden Ball was instituted in the 1982 edition in Spain, only three players had won it along with the World Cup trophy in the 10 tournaments up to Russia 2018 – Paolo Rossi of Italy (1982), Diego Maradona of Argentina (1986) and Romario of Brazil (1994). Like Forlan, Salvatore Schillaci of Italy was another Golden Ball winner whose team lost in the semifinal, in 1990. Like Golden Boot, Golden Ball was also introduced in the 1982 World Cup. Rossi won it and remains the only player to win both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in the same edition. Messi is in line to emulate him and also become the first player to win two Golden Ball awards. He was adjudged as the best player in the 2014 World Cup too.
  135. Doxxing is basically the revealing of someone’s intimate information, where harassment is the intent. It is a popular and controversial tactic used against those with opposing political views and sometimes even celebrities and influencers have been doxxed with real-life consequences.
  136. The Nuclear Command Authority is the sole body which can authorize the use of nuclear weapons. It comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister. The Executive Council, chaired by the National Security Advisor, provides inputs for decision-making by the Nuclear Command Authority and executes the directives given to it by the Political Council.
  137. Vijay Diwas or Victory Day is commemorated on December 16, marking the end of the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the liberation of Bangladesh. India declared victory on this day 51 years ago after Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender.
  138. Alcohol is produced using two basic processes: fermentation and distillation. When heated, yeast reacts with sugar (from grain, fruits, sugarcane, etc.) to ferment and produce a mixture containing alcohol. However, as this process continues and the alcohol levels rise (with more of the sugar getting converted to alcohol), the conditions become toxic for the yeast itself, eventually ending the process of fermentation. Thus, to make anything stronger than beer or wine (above 14-18% ABV or alcohol by volume), distillation is key. Distillation is the process of physically separating the alcohol from the rest of the mixture using evaporation and condensation. Since different parts of the mixture have different boiling points, theoretically, if one heats the mixture up to a correct temperature, it will be possible to separate only the alcohol from the water and other remnants. This will be far more potent than any fermented beverage. All spirits (such as whiskey, vodka, gin, etc) are made using this technique. Distillation can be done repeatedly in order to increase the alcohol content of the final product.
  139. The fermented mixture which is to be distilled contains more than just consumable alcohol (ethanol). It also contains methanol, a different form of alcohol which is highly toxic for human beings. Methanol is generally used for industrial purposes. While non-distilled alcoholic beverages like wine contain relatively harmless trace amounts of methanol, during the distillation, both ethanol and methanol are concentrated. 
  140. Methanol or methyl alcohol can cause impaired vision, high toxicity and metabolic acidosis, a condition in which the body produces excessive acid that cannot be flushed out by kidneys. The treatment for this is to intravenously administer Fomepizole and ethanol. However, fomepizole can be expensive and unavailable in many parts of India. In such cases, doctors administer a mixture of ethanol and water (1:1 ratio). Ethanol inhibits methanol’s conversion into toxins and helps in flushing it out of the body either naturally or through dialysis.
  141. India joined the ITER project in 2005. The Institute for Plasma Research in Ahmedabad, a laboratory under the Department of Atomic Energy, is the lead institution from the Indian side participating in the project. As a member country, India is building several components of the ITER reactor, while also carrying out a number of experiments and R&D activities related to the project.
  142. A NASA program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, has been looking to send experiments to the surface of the moon. The first two missions, from Intuitive Machines of Houston and Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, plan to launch next year after considerable delays.
  143. The lunar lander that was carried by a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday is not a NASA mission. Instead, known as M1, it is from a small Japanese company, Ispace. The payloads on M1 include a rover from the United Arab Emirates and a small two-wheeled Transformers-like robot for the Japanese space agency.
  144. Apart from the US-owned GPS, the other prominent navigation systems are Galileo from the European Union, Russia-owned GLONASS and China’s Beidou. QZSS, operated by Japan, is another regional navigation system covering Asia-Oceania region.
  145. Former Indian athlete PT Usha became the new chief of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as well as its first woman president.
  146. South Korean lawmakers recently approved a measure that will help standardise the existing system for measuring people’s ages, which is based on a traditional method that sometimes adds up to two years to an individual’s biological age. There are three methods in use at the moment. The first is the one used by the rest of the world, where the age at birth is zero and subsequent birthdays lead to the addition of a year, and this is used for certain legal and administrative purposes in South Korea as well. The second is the ‘Korean age’, the method most popularly used in society, where a baby is born and aged one, and turns a year older on January 1, regardless of the date of birth. Thus, a child born on December 31, 2021, will have turned two years old by January 2, 2022. The third method is the ‘year age’, where a baby is born zero years old, and turns a year older every January 1. This method is again used for some legal and official purposes, most notably for compulsory military conscription, to determine when a child can start school, and to determine when a juvenile needs legal protection from abuse. While similar methods of calculating age existed in China, Japan, Vietnam, etc., gradually, all the countries moved to the international system. North Korea adopted the international system in 1985, but with a difference – it follows its own calendar, based on the birth of the national founder and president-for-life Kim Il Sung.
  147. ‘Goblin Mode’ is Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2022
  148. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gaslighting as “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”
  149. A new British Indian Army Memorial, commemorating the sacrifice of millions of Indian soldiers who fought for the British during the two World Wars, is set to be built in the Scottish city of Glasgow. The memorial is visualised as Scotland’s first permanent memorial wall to recognise the service and sacrifice of the British Indian Army during the world wars.
  150. The 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 28)to the UNFCCC will be held in November 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Recently COP-27 got concluded in Egypt. It was the first climate summit held in Africa since 2016.
  151. Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is responsible for approval of Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  152. The malkha process has pioneered yarn spinning suited to the small scale of handloom production, using the different cotton varieties grown in various regions of India to provide an alternative to the mass production of cotton yarn. Malkha has also added natural dyeing of yarn to make its fabrics even more sustainable.
  153. A bomb cyclone, also known as explosive cyclogenesis, is the rapid deepening of an extratropical cyclonic low-pressure area. The change in pressure needed to classify something as explosive cyclogenesis is latitude-dependent. This process is the extratropical equivalent of tropical rapid deepening. Even though only a minority of the bombs have become so strong, some weaker ones have also caused significant damage.
  154. Seven sites in Ratnagiri district (Ukshi, Jambharun, Kasheli, Rundhe Tali, Devihsol, Barsu and Devache Gothane), Kudopi village in Sindhudurg district, and nine sites at Pansoimol in Goa have been added to the tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The Petroglyphs of Konkan region, spread across Maharashtra and Goa, are among the three Indian attractions that have been added to the Tentative List of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Sites. The other two Indian sites are Jingkieng Jri, the living root bridge in Meghalaya, and Sri Veerabhadra Temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Lepakshi.
  155. Two months after his retirement as a judge of the Supreme Court, the Centre has appointed Justice Hemant Gupta as Chairperson of the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre. Set up in 2019, the NDIAC has been declared to be an institution of national importance and is mandated to be a seven-member body that is headed by a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court or an eminent person.
  156. Gulf of Aden, which separates Somalia and Yemen and connects the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea and further to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, has been one of the deadliest areas in the oceans due to a large number of piracy incidents. This is also one of the most important trade routes for countries in Asia, Europe, and on the eastern coast of Africa. Due to an increased naval presence in the Gulf of Aden, it has been observed that piracy operations are shifting towards the east and south, which increases their proximity to India’s west coast.
  157. The prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) at the Kalpakkam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is “nearly complete”. FBRs are special kinds of nuclear reactors that generate more atomic fuel than they consume as they work.
  158. An annuity is a financial instrument which provides for a regular payment of a certain amount of money on monthly/quarterly/annual basis for the chosen period for a given purchase price or pension wealth. Simply put, it is a financial instrument which offers monthly/quarterly/annual pension at a specified rate for the chosen period.
  159. The expenditure on pension is one of the key components of the government’s Committed Expenditure. The other two are the expenditure on salary and wages and interest payment and servicing of debt. If the Committed Expenditure is higher, it means that the government has lesser flexibility to determine the purpose for which revenue expenditure is to be incurred.
  160. Stiff-Person Syndrome is a syndrome of fluctuating but progressive musclestiffness and spasm that preferentially affects axial (back and abdominal) muscles, neurological experts noted. “It is a central nervous system disorder, meaning encephalomyelopathy, in which myelopathic features predominate in most patients. It frequently affects women with a median onset of 35 to 40 years of age. this autoimmune disease is caused by antibodies to proteins, resulting in impaired GABAergic (Gamma amino butyric acid) inhibition of the motor nerves in the brain and spinal cord. “It is associated with GAD65 (Glutamic acid decarboxylase) and amphiphysin antibodies. 70 per cent of patients with GAD antibodies have diabetes mellitus as a comorbidity. It is associated with other autoimmune diseases like cerebellitis, myasthenia gravis, hypo/hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus.  people with amphiphysin antibodies can have SPS as a paraneoplastic (a symptom of underlying malignancy) manifestation with predominant upper limbs or cranial nerve involvement. Treatment involves the use of both symptomatic agents to enhance GABAergic influences and Immuno modulating treatment aimed at the autoimmune basis of the disease. In patients with paraneoplastic Stiff Person Syndrome, identification and eradication of the underlying malignancy can alleviate symptoms. Corticosteroids are rarely used as Immuno modulating agents in Stiff Person Syndrome because of a high incidence of concurrent diabetes mellitus.
  161. The Delhi Police will soon move to a more efficient internal communication system, aimed at faster exchange of information and bigger networks. The force is set to design, install and supply the ‘Open Standard Digital Trunking Radio System’ (OS-DTRS) and will phase out the current tetranet wireless network services. The trunking system provides multiple channels and common groups for policemen. This way, they are communicating with more personnel using fewer groups, officials said. Groups are formed based on geographical area and function. It will also have a voice logger system, which can be used to describe a crime scene, interrogation details and evidence. The logs are saved in the system.
  162. Cities across China have been witnessing waves of protests against the country’s tough zero-Covid policy in recent weeks. The movement, which is no longer limited to China alone, is widely being dubbed the ‘white paper revolution’.
  163. The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling, the country’s largest high-altitude zoo, was judged India’s best zoo by the CZA this year: it is recognised worldwide for its conservation breeding programmes for endangered species such as the red panda. 
  164. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai, which conducts eco-awareness programmes such as a ‘zoo school’ that offers classes to students on a regular basis.
  165. The Marble Palace Zooin Kolkata is the country’s oldest zoo, established in 1854.
  166. France and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) launch today an innovative plan through the European Food and Agricultural Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative to support countries worst hit by the global food crisis by boosting sustainable agricultural production and ensuring that the most vulnerable countries have equitable access to supplies of agricultural commodities at a fair price.
  167. The Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT) is the IUCN global standard for measuring the severity of environmental impacts caused by animals, fungi and plants living outside their natural range. The EICAT Categories and Criteria provide a simple, objective and transparent method to classify alien species into one of eight categories, according to the severity of their environmental impact. This is determined by the extent to which native species are affected and whether the impact is reversible. EICAT is a key tool for prioritising alien species that could lead to the most harmful environmental impacts, helping to make the best use of resources to prevent or limit their negative consequences. It alerts scientists, conservation practitioners and policy makers to the potential consequences of alien species, guides the development of prevention and mitigation measures, and assists in the prioritisation of management actions. EICAT can be applied at the national, regional and global levels. All global EICAT assessments will be published on IUCN’s Global Invasive Species Database. The Global Invasive Species Database is managed by the IUCN Species Survival Commission Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) and the Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species is an ISSG led initiative.
  168. System of Environmental-Economic Accounting(SEEA) is a framework to compile statistics linking environmental statistics to economic statistics. SEEA is described as a satellite system to the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA). The SEEA is a satellite system of the SNA that consists of several sets of accounts. In broad terms, the area can be described as enabling any user of statistics to compare environmental issues to general economics, knowing that the comparisons are based on the same entities, for example, pollution levels caused by a producing industry can be linked to the specific economics of that industry.
  169. The IUCN Secretariat and Species Survival Commission Invasive Species Specialist Group(SSC ISSG) work together to tackle invasive alien species and their impacts at all stages, from providing essential data and expertise to guide policy-making through to action on the ground. We collaborate with regional and national governance, NGOs and local stakeholders.
  170. IUCN Save Our Speciesis IUCN’s response to the challenges identified by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ and Species Survival Commission (SSC) experts. The programme focuses its efforts where they will have the biggest impact by funding frontline conservation organisations across the world who have unique knowledge of their region and the local biodiversity.
  171. The IUCN SSC Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) is a partnership platform with the mission of halting species extinctions in Southeast Asia.
  172. The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of more than 8,300 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world.
  173. As part of the Key Biodiversity Areas Partnership, IUCN supports the vision of the KBA Programme to identify, document, manage, resource and safeguard a comprehensive network of sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity.
  174. Based on IUCN Red List data, the Species Threat Abatement and Restoration (STAR) metric estimates the contribution that investments can make to reducing species’ extinction risk.
  175. The Contributions for Nature Platformbrings together IUCN’s established metrics, including STAR and the Restoration Barometer, to calculate the proportion of global goals that conservation work could deliver in a given place.
  176. The Species Threat Abatement and Restoration (STAR) metric measures the contribution that investments can make to reducing species’ extinction risk. It helps governments, cities, civil society, the finance industry, investors and companies to target their investments and activities to achieve conservation outcomes and contribute to global policy aims. The scientific basis for STAR was established in ‘Measuring spatially-explicit contributions to science-based species targets’, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The metric bases its scores on data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The STAR metric is available through the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), a partnership of IUCN, BirdLife International, Conservation International, and UNEP-WCMC. The STAR metric is maintained under the authority of the IUCN Red List Committee.
  177. IUCN is the foremost authority for the classification, monitoring and conservation of endangered species worldwide. The Global Marine and Polar Programme (GMPP) supports the work of the Species Survival Commission for all issues threatening the conservation status of marine species.
  178. Recognising the need for a more integrated global approach to Nature-based Solutions, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency, the Government of Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) developed the ENACT (Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation) initiative to bring coherence to and strengthen collaboration between existing NbS efforts and partnerships. ENACT is a voluntary coalition of state and non-state actors, co-chaired by Egypt and Germany. IUCN will host the ENACT Secretariat, which will lead the implementation of the initiative.
  179. Implemented by IUCN and UNEP with funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), the Global EbA Fund is a catalytic funding mechanism for supporting innovative approaches to EbA to create enabling environments for its mainstreaming and scaling up. 
  180. The Blue Natural Capital Financing Facility (BNCFF) supports the development of sound, investable BNC projects with clear ecosystem service benefits, based on multiple income streams and appropriate risk-return profiles. The BNCFF is managed by IUCN and funded by the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
  181. The Blue Carbon Accelerator Fund (BCAF) supports the development of blue carbon restoration and conservation projects in developing countries and helps pave the way for private sector finance. The BCAF is managed by the IUCN and funded by the Australian Government.
  182. Subnational Climate Fund (SCF): International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. Accredited at the GCF, IUCN is responsible for the Technical Assistance component of SCF. IUCN is a pioneer in developing Nature-based Solutions projects, and its high standards on environmental and social safeguards.
  183. Hippo body parts can still be traded under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), though all international sales require an export permit. The common hippo was classified as “vulnerable to extinction” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list The common hippo is listed in Appendix II of CITES meaning that it could be threatened with extinction unless trade is closely controlled.
  184. While India harbours more than 80 per cent of the globally endangered wild buffaloes (Bubalis arnee), a small sub-population remains isolated in Chhattisgarh. Adapted to hard grounds, as opposed to their cousins in the wetlands of Assam, their numbers have been dwindling, with less than 50 accounted for in a baseline survey in 2005. 
  185. Cryogenically frozen coral can be stored and later reintroduced to the wild but the current process requires sophisticated equipment including lasers. Scientists say a new lightweight “cryomesh” can be manufactured cheaply and better preserves coral.
  186. Green financing refers to lending to environmentally sustainable economic activities. “Greenwashing” refers to dishonest practices designed to deceive people.
  187. Polar bears in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay — on the southern edge of the Arctic — are continuing to die in high numbers. Researchers surveyed Western Hudson Bay — home to Churchill, the town called ‘the Polar Bear Capital of the World,’ — by air in 2021 and estimated there were 618 bears, compared to the 842 in 2016, when they were last surveyed. Polar bears rely on arctic sea ice — frozen ocean water — that shrinks in the summer with warmer temperatures and forms again in the long winter. They use it to hunt, perching near holes in the thick ice to spot seals, their favorite food, coming up for air.
  188. The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Onlinebrings together companies from across the world in partnership with wildlife experts at WWF, TRAFFIC the wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for an industry-wide approach to reduce wildlife trafficking online.
  189. The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) was established in 2005 by the U.S. State Department as a voluntary coalition of governments and organizations that aims to end the illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products. The South Asian Enforcement Network (SAWEN) was created with the help of CAWT and TRAFFIC. In 2008, South Asian environment ministers agreed to create SAWEN under the support of the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme. The SAWEN countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  190. Project ICARUS-Recent decision by the US government to research the possibilities in the controversial idea of solar geoengineering, so far seen only in science fiction works such as the Neal Stephenson novel Terminal Shock. The plan involves shooting reflective particles into the stratosphere to deflect the rays of the sun and help bring down terrestrial temperatures.
  191. A wormhole – a rupture in space and time – is considered a bridge between two remote regions in the universe. Scientists refer to them as Einstein–Rosen bridges after the two physicists who described them – Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen. Such wormholes are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which focuses on gravity, one of the fundamental forces in the universe. The term “wormhole” was coined by physicist John Wheeler in the 1950s.
  192. The restored stepwell at Bansilalpet in Hyderabad, the project won the prestigious Big 5 Construction Impact Award in Dubai. 
  193. The Generative Pre-Training (GPT) language model is a type of neural network that can create new content based on input content and this is called Training Data.
  194. The Central government recently informed the Supreme Court that the government had taken a decision to not accept Justice Ranganath Mishra’s Commision’s The Commission’s 2007 report on Religious and Linguistic Minorities had recommended permitting Dalits who converted into Islam and Christianity to avail Scheduled Caste status.
  195. Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: Endorsed by Heads of State and Government from 94 countries from all regions, and the President of the European Commission for the European Union, representing over 2 billion people (a quarter of the world’s population) and 39% of global GDP. The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development sees leaders pledging to undertake urgent actions over the next ten years as part of the UN Decade of Action to achieve Sustainable Development. To help secure a nature-positive world this decade, governments must urgently implement their ten Leaders’ Pledge for Nature commitments. But action is needed across society: from businesses, financial institutions, cities, sub-national governments, indigenous peoples, youth, communities and individuals. India has not endorsed the pledge
  196. The Race Is On: A global multi-stakeholder communications campaign, supported by Leaders’ Pledge for Nature governments, business groupings and civil society, to drive ambition and action on nature through to the biodiversity and climate CoPs in 2021, and beyond, into a ‘Decade of Action’. Designed as an umbrella campaign, ‘The Race Is On: Nature Positive by 2030’ is intended to create a ‘race to the top,’ encouraging world leaders to endorse the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature and swiftly move to action. At the same time, it supports calls for other stakeholders – such as businesses, cities, and individuals – to take action to secure a nature-positive world this decade.
  197. Global Commons Alliance: An unprecedented partnership of more than 50 of the world’s most forward-looking organisations in philanthropy, science, business and advocacy. Its goal is to create the most powerful network to scale science-based action to protect people and planet. The Science Based Targets Network is a key component of the Global Commons Alliance, a network of organizations working together to positively transform the world’s economic systems and protect the global commons.
  198. Science Based Targets initiative: The SBTi is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi call to action is one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) is a collaboration of leading global non-profits and mission driven organizations working together to equip companies as well as cities with the guidance to set science-based targets for all of Earth’s systems. This will help them define a clear pathway to ensure they are doing enough across their value chain to address their impacts and dependencies on nature. The SBTN builds on the momentum of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). It is a network of 45+ organizations – including the same organizations behind the SBTi – developing methods and resources for science-based targets (SBTs) for nature for companies, and science-based targets for both climate and nature for cities. This will form a key part of progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global policy milestones.
  199. Earth Commission: Hosted by Future Earth, the world’s largest network of sustainability scientists, and is the scientific cornerstone of the Global Commons Alliance. The Earth Commission will synthesise the latest science to underpin science-based targets that can help preserve the stability and resilience of Earth’s life support systems. The scientific guardrails defined by the Earth Commission will guide the Science Based Targets Network in developing tangible science-based targets tailored to cities and companies. The Earth Commission is the first holistic attempt to scientifically define and quantify a safe and just corridor for people and planet.
  200. The Centre has decided to discontinue the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF), a scholarship for students from minority communities that was launched during the UPA regime as part of implementing the Sachar Committee recommendations, from this academic year.
  201. Torsa River (also spelt Torsha and also known as Kambu Maqu, Machu and Amo Chhu) rises from the Chumbi Valley in Tibet, China, where it is known as Machu. Its course continues into Bhutan, India, and Bangladesh before joining Brahmaputra River into the Bay of Bengal.
  202. The Cotton Corporation of India Limited and the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (TEXPROCIL) has entered into an agreement to promote the Kasturi cotton, an indigenous branded cotton, globally. TEXPROCIL is the apex body to promote exports of Indian Cotton textile products including raw cotton across the world and the Cotton Corporation of India Limited is a public sector organisation in the sector to facilitate cotton production and supply.
  203. Dokraa metalcraft popular in Bengal, is an ancient tradition; its documented history is about 5,000 years old. Making dokra art is a difficult process. Each figurine takes about a month to make. There are many processes involved, for which seven to eight varieties of clay is required, apart from other raw material.
  204. Zero-budget natural farming, now known as Subhash Palekar Natural Farming, emphasises on preparing and using inputs made from crop residue, cow dung and urine, fruits, among other things. 
  205. Joynagar  moa, the popular Bengal sweetmeat available only during the colder months of the year, with the number of registered manufacturers witnessing a massive rise and its Geographical Indication tag getting a 10-year extension. Its manufacture is so synonymous with Joynagar, a settlement on the outskirts of Kolkata, that it earned the Geographical Indication tag of Joynagar Moa in 2015.
  206. The concept that the Queen reigns, but the Ministers rule is the bedrock of the Westminster system. 
  207. The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake that took place 18 years ago on Boxing Day (December 26, 2004) was so big that its effects were felt as far as Alaska.
  208. The indigenous people of the Western Ghats, including the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, constitute 44.2% of the tribal population of 6.95% of Karnataka. The Western Ghats are also home to a sizeable population of communities like Gowlis, Kunbis, Halakki Vakkala, Kare Vakkala, Kunbi, and Kulvadi Marathi.
  209. Digitally capturing the attendance of workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) has been made universal by the Centre from January 1, 2023. The Union government, arguing for transparency and accountability in May 2021, had started a pilot project to capture attendance via a mobile application, the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS). 
  210. A Konda Reddi tribe rowing a Dhone, a traditional boat, in the Godavari near the Papikonda hills in Alluri Sitarama Raju district. Konda Reddis, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), for generations —the sacred Godavari, fish, Bison Hills (Papi hills), sand dunes and Dhone. Fishing on Dhone has been the prime livelihood option for the Konda Reddi and Koya tribes for generations until engine boats came into operation. Made of ‘Booriga tree’ (known in local parlance), the maximum length of a Dhone is approximately 10 feet to 15 feet. 
  211. Abhilekh Patal is a full-featured web-portal to access the National Archives of India’s reference media and its digitized collections through the internet. It is ‘work-in-progress’ and both the reference media and the digital data will be regularly augmented.
  212. Tikuli painting: A centuries-old artform found in Patna, Bihar, provides a living for a large number of artisans in the state. The themes of this painting are inspired by Indian folklore, particularly the stories of Lord Krishna.
  213. Race to Zero and Race to Resilience are two global campaigns initiated by the United Nations (UN) and broadly focus on the issue of climate change. Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz, as the High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action, lead both campaigns. The Race to Zero and Race to Resilience initiatives are like siblings, same but slightly different. Race to Zero was first introduced to the general public in June 2020 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This campaign encourages all participants, from cities, regions, businesses, investors, and others, to immediately take serious efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. This campaign aims to build momentum for non-state actors to transform into a less-carbon economy prior to COP26 and support the government’s attempts to achieve the Paris Agreement targets. This campaign also mobilises participants to join the Climate Ambition Alliance, initiated at the 2019 Climate Action Summit. Meanwhile, its sibling, the Race to Resilience, was launched at the Climate Adaptation Summit last January 2021. This initiative will work with non-state actors, including cities, regions, businesses, investors, and others, to build resilience and adapt to the consequences of climate change for the communities vulnerable to the impacts no later than 2030. 
  214. PROBLUE is an umbrella multi-donor trust fund, administered by the World Bank, that supports the sustainable and integrated development of marine and coastal resources in healthy oceans. PROBLUE supports the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14, Life Under Water) and is fully aligned with the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and increasing the income and welfare of the poor in a sustainable way. PROBLUE is part of the World Bank’s overall Blue Economy program, which takes a multi-pronged, coordinated approach to ensuring the protection and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources.
  215. The World Bank is pioneering Blue Economy for Resilient Africa Program, announced at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s annual Conference of the Parties (COP27). The Program will work with Africa’s coastal countries to leverage the opportunities—and manage the risks—inherent in growing their budding Blue Economies.
  216. The South China Sea is among the most volatile regions of the world. Lying just south of the Chinese mainland, it is bordered by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  217. Tsomgo Lake, also known as Tsongmo Lake or Changgu Lake, is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the capital Gangtok. The lake surface reflects different colours with change of seasons and is held in great reverence by the local Sikkimese people. Buddhist monks prognosticated after studying the changing colours of the lake.

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