IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-December 2023

IAS Abhiyan is now on Telegram:

IAS Abhiyan Official Telegram Channel: Click Here to Join

For Mains Value Edition (Facts, Quotes, Best Practices, Case Studies): Click Here to Join

IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-September 2021

IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-December 2023

  1. The objective of the Maulana Azad Fellowship Scheme (MANF) is to provide five year fellowships in the form of financial assistance. It is given to students from six notified minority communities viz. Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Muslim, Parsi and Sikh, notified by the Central Government, to pursue M. Phil and Ph.D. The scheme covers all Universities/Institutions recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) as Central/State Universities (including constituent and affiliated institutions), Deemed Universities, Institutions fully funded by the State / Central Government and empowered to award degrees, Institutions of National Importance as notified by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  2. Cybersecurity researchers recently identified a potent variant of the infamous ‘Chameleon Trojan’ malware, posing a substantial risk to Android device users.
  3. Thousands of sardine fish have been surfacing near a beach in Goa for the past few days, providing locals with a visual treat and a bountiful catch. Experts said it’s a “rare” phenomenon known as ‘sardine run’.  It usually happens due to sudden changes in the temperature of sea surface water where sardines live. “A drop or rise in sea surface temperature can induce migration of sardines in higher numbers and sometimes they get trapped in shallow waters. When the deeper water rises, it brings nutrient-rich water on top, triggering high food production. And sardines feed on this fresh food called ‘phytoplankton’.
  4. Awarded by the United Nations’ body since 2015, the geopark tag is given to territories for sites with global relevance to geology, geomorphology or palaeontology.
  5. Mesechinus is a small genus of mammals in the hedgehog family Erinaceidae. Except for Mesechinus wangi, which is found in southwestern China, the other three species are mainly distributed in northern China and adjacent Mongolia and Siberia. Mesechinus orientalis is a small-bodied hedgehog, similar to Mesechinus hughi, but smaller than other Mesechinus species.
  6. Litchi mainly grows in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand. Litchi cultivation is spread across over 32,000 hectares in Bihar alone. This accounts for nearly 40 per cent of India’s litchi production. Bihar is followed by West Bengal (12 per cent of the total) and Jharkhand (10 per cent). Litch was sporadically cultivated earlier in Odisha, Chhattishgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. But this was not for commercial production.
  7. Norovirus  is a very contagious virus that causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It is also sometimes referred to as the ‘stomach flu’ or the ‘winter vomiting bug’. However, norovirus illness is not related to the flu, which is caused by the influenza virus. People of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus. People can get the norovirus illness many times in their lives because there are many different types of noroviruses. Infection with one type of norovirus may not give protection against other types. No vaccines are currently available to prevent norovirus.
  8. National Culture Fund was set up by the Government of India as a Trust under the Charitable Endowment Act, 1890 through a Gazette Notification in 1996. The donations to the national Culture Fund will be eligible for tax benefit under the Income Tax Act.
  9. The Phased Array Tracking to Intercept of Target (PATRIOT) Advanced Capability-Three (PAC-3) program is a surface-to-air-defense guided missile system with all-weather capabilities. It is designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and advanced aircraft.
  10. Hydroponics refers to the technique of growing plants without soil using a water-based nutrient solution, an aggregate substrate, or growing media like coconut coir or perlite. It uses closed systems that recirculate water to make sure each seedling gets exactly the nutrients it needs. This means that very little water is needed and that all nutrients remain within the system.
  11. India’s badminton stars Chirag Shetty and Satwik Sai Raj Rankireddy won the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award announced by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
  12. In exercise of the powers conferred under Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the President is pleased to nominate Hon’ble Shri Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Judge, Supreme Court of India, as Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority. According to the Legal Services Authority Act of 1987, the Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief of NALSA. The President, in consultation with the CJI, appoints an active or retired Supreme Court judge as the Executive Chairman of NALSA.
  13. Gwalior was listed as the Creative City of Music in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in November.
  14. The wisent, also known as the European wood bison, was almost wiped out by 1927 from Europe. Conservation efforts in its last remaining strongholds, including Ukraine and Russia, have raised hopes of a revival even in other parts of Europe that were once parts of its range.
  15. Nepal makes history as the 1st Southeast Asian Nation to formally register same-sex marriage after it was legalized by the Supreme Court of Nepal.
  16. Pinna nobilis is a large species of Mediterranean clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Pinnidae. This species is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. 
  17. In Japan, a fossil of the extinct and apex predator Mosasaur, a massive marine reptile from the Late Cretaceous period, was recently discovered.
  18. WHO recently added Noma, to its official list of neglected tropical diseases (NTD). Also known as cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis, it is a severe gangrenous disease of the mouth and face with a mortality rate of approximately 90%. Also associated with extreme poverty, malnutrition and poor access to sanitation and oral hygiene. Noma mainly affects children aged 2-6 years old and is found most commonly among those living in poor communities. Noma disease is not contagious, it prefers to attack when the body’s defences are weak. The disease begins with gum inflammation and is thought to be caused by bacteria found in the mouth. The disease is also called the ‘face of poverty’, as effective drugs like sulfonamides and penicillin and adequate surgical treatment for the effects remain inaccessible for many due to extreme poverty.
  19. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science’s (IISc.) molecular biophysics unit in a study have identified that peptides (short protein) produced from Budgett’s frog can combat enzymes of disease causing pathogens. According to IISc., peptides (short proteins) produced from the skin of amphibians have long been studied because of their ability to counter unfavourable conditions in the environment, including harmful pathogens. The researchers show the formation of a Michaelis complex – a tight, noncovalent complex with the intact inhibitor – during the process. They also studied the effects of modifications to the original sequence of the peptide.
  20. National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System is a medium-range ground-based air defence system. The NASAMS provides short- to medium-range air defence against aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and drones. This air defence system is stationary. It is best suited to defend important stationary assets, such as key military assets, infrastructure, or cities. It was designed and developed jointly by Raytheon (United States) and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. NASAMS is operated by 13 countries and has been integrated into the U.S. National Capital Region’s air defence system since 2005. In addition to the U.S., Norway, Finland, Spain, Netherlands, Oman, Lithuania, Indonesia, Australia, Qatar, Hungary, Ukraine, and one undisclosed country depend on NASAMS for homeland defence and the protection of critical assets.
  21. Project Kuiper is Amazon’s projectto build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide high-speed internet access anywhere in the world. Its mission is to bring fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world. They operate in low Earth orbit (LEO) and relay data traffic to and from gateway antennas and customers.
  22. In a groundbreaking discovery at the Natural History Museum in London, researchers have unearthed a 407-million-year-old fungus fossil, Potteromyces asteroxylicola, from the Rhynie Chert in Scotland. This ancient microbe, paying homage to renowned mycologist Beatrix Potter, is the oldest evidence of fungi causing diseases. Potteromyces asteroxylicola was found infecting the ancient plant Asteroxylon mackiei, showcasing a predator-prey interaction that occurred while the plant was alive.
  23. AKTOCYTE is a nutraceutical developed by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and IDRS Labs. The tablets are intended for radiotherapy patients, especially those with pelvic cancer suffering from radiotherapy-induced Cystitis (Blood in urine).
  24. A golden mole that has not been seen for over 80 years has been rediscovered in sand dunes in South Africa. The blind animal was filmed and photographed after an extensive search for the species, which researchers feared was extinct. They  used a trained sniffer dog to identify the scent of two common species of golden mole — cape golden mole (Chrysochloris asiatica) and Grant’s golden mole (Eremitalpa granti). The dog didn’t respond to the Port Nolloth field signs, which suggested the tracks hadn’t been made by one of the common species, raising hopes they were evidence of De Winton’s golden mole. 
  25. AS-24 Killjoy is the western reporting name of the Kh-47M2 (Kinzhal),nuclear-capable, Russian air-launched hypersonic ballistic missile.
  26. A protein named TAF15 present in the brains of patients suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has been recently identified by an international team of researchers, which opens up a new target for possible treatments for FTD.
  27. National Geoscience Data Repository(NGDR) has been created, as a part of the National Mineral Exploration Policy, 2016, hosting all baseline and exploration-related geoscientific data in a single GIS platform, to expedite, enhance and facilitate the exploration coverage of the country. The NGDR initiative, spearheaded by Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Bhaskarachaya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N) represents a significant leap forward in democratizing critical geoscience data, empowering stakeholders across industries and academia with unprecedented access to invaluable resources. The creation of NGDR was conceptualized by the Ministry of Mines (MoM) as part of the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP) 2016. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was given the responsibility to establish NGDR.
  28. In a move towards eco-friendly maritime transportation, the Barracuda, India’s fastest solar-electric boat, was ceremoniously launched at the Navgathi Panavally Yard in Alappuzha.
  29. Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM JANMAN), to bring about a 360-degree development in tribal areas. The PM JANMAN Mission targets the development of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) who have been left out by the schemes of various Ministries/Departments. Tribal Health is one of the key focus areas. Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs will be nodal and coordinating Ministry.
  30. Santiago Network: Established at COP25 summit in Madrid as part of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) under the UNFCCC. Santiago network for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage to catalyse the technical assistance of relevant organizations, bodies, networks and experts for the implementation of relevant approaches associated with climate change impacts. The host of the Secretariat for the Santiago Network was finalized at COP 28. The joint consortium of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the United Nations Office for Project Services have been selected as the host of the Santiago network secretariat for an initial term of five years, with five-year renewal periods. The functions of the Santiago Network were defined at COP 26 and the COP 27 decision made progress towards establishing its institutional arrangements, paving the way for its full operationalization.
  31. A new highly fluorescent material with exceptional optical properties has been developed using phosphorene, cystine, and gold (Ph-Cys-Au) which can be used as a visual sensing platform for detecting anti-cancer drug Methotrexate.
  32. Scientists have discovered a new species of sea spider with boxing glove-like claws. The spider with a strange yellow body colour was found off the Antarctica Ocean and has four near-black eyes and large bulbous claws.  This unique and never-before-seen sea spider is called Austropallene halanychi, which is a distant relative to horseshoe crabs and arachnids. The sea spider also has a peculiar way of eating in which it does not use its mouth but a straw-like proboscis to consume food. The newfound species, Austropallene halanychi, was pulled from the ocean floor in the Ross Sea.
  33. Unique, prehistoric rock art drawings have been discovered in the Andriamamelo Cave in western Madagascar.
  34. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has issued a draft notification declaring one-kilometre area from the boundaries of the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary in Kangra district as an eco-sensitive zone. Commercial activities like construction of hotels and resorts or any polluting industry will not be allowed in eco-sensitive zone. Setting up of electric or communication towers will be prohibited. The establishment of saw mills, brick-kilns or commercial use of firewood will be banned.
  35. Cybersecurity firm Promon has identified a novel Android malware named FjordPhantom that employs virtualization to target applications.
  36. Google announced the launch of its latest, most powerful AI model, Gemini.
  37. The researchers discovered that Epulopiscium viviparus has modified its metabolism to make the most of its environment, by using a rare method to make energy and to move (the same swimming method is used by the bacteria that cause cholera), and by devoting a huge portion of its genetic code to making enzymes that can harvest the nutrients available in its host’s gut. A highly folded membrane that runs along the outer edge of Epulopiscium viviparus provides important space for the energy-producing and -transporting proteins, with some surprising similarities to how mitochondria function in the cells of more complex organisms.
  38. Professor Savita Ladage from Mumbai’s Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Nyholm Prize for Education in recognition of her contributions to chemistry education.
  39. Aardvarks are found over much of the southern two-thirds of Africa and their habitat is savannah and semiarid areas. These mammals are a crucial part of the ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa. They eat termites that can destroy human-built structures and their burrows create important habitat for many other species.
  40. The Hattis are a close-knit community who take their name from their traditional occupation of selling home-grown crops, vegetables, meat, and wool at small-town markets known as ‘haats’. Hatti men traditionally don a distinctive white headgear on ceremonial occasions. The Hatti homeland straddles the Himachal-Uttarakhand border in the basin of the Giri and Tons rivers, both tributaries of the Yamuna. The Tons marks the border between the two states, and the Hattis living in the Trans-Giri area in today’s Himachal Pradesh and Jaunsar Bawar in Uttarakhand were once part of the royal estate of Sirmaur. Jaunsar Bawar was conquered by the British in 1814.
  41. In a concerning development, scientists are sounding the alarm about the potential spread of a condition known as chronic wasting disease (CWD), often referred to as “zombie deer disease,” from animals to humans. The disease manifests with disturbing symptoms in animals, including drooling, lethargy, stumbling, and a vacant stare.
  42. Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator is an indigenous high-speed flying-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The maiden flight of this aircraft was demonstrated in July 2022. These flight-tests led to achievements in development of robust aerodynamic and control systems; integrated real-time and hardware-in-loop simulation, and state-of-the-art Ground Control Station.
  43. The ionosphere is a part of Earth’s upper atmosphere, which is partially ionized extending from 100-1000km. The ionosphere at polar regions is highly dynamic and acts as a major energy sink for space weather events, and related processes in magnetosphere-ionosphere systems as the magnetic field lines are vertical in this region. The ionospheric observations in Antarctica are few compared to Arctic region due to geographic limitations and limited number of stations.
  44. Chandra River is one of the two rivers (other being the Bhaga River) that merge to form the Chenab River in the Lahaul region of Himachal Pradesh. It rises in the snows lying at the base of the main Himalayan range in the Lahaul and Spiti districts, Himachal Pradesh. It flows for a considerable distance along the base of this range in a southeasterly direction before turning completely and taking a south-westerly course in the Spiti Valley. It flows on to merge with the Bhaga River downstream of Keylong. The beautiful Chandra Tal Lake has formed at its source.
  45. In an astonishing first, a tiger was spotted in the Shaukiyathal forest near Jageshwar Dham, Almora, in the Terai region of Uttarakhand. While tigers are occasionally spotted in the Mohan area of Almora, near Corbett Park, this is the first time they have been observed at an elevation of over 6,000 feet at Shaukiyathal, an area surrounded by dense forests of bamboo and rhododendrons near Jageshwar Dham.
  46. In 2002, scientists aboard a research vessel discovered a peculiar jellyfish near a volcanic crater off Japan. Spotting the same creature again in 2020, scientists have now confirmed that it is a new species named Santjordia pagesi. Named Santjordia pagesi, “Santjordia” refers to Saint George in Catalan, representing its cross-shaped stomach.
  47. At the recent COP28, NASA and IBM announced that an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool called watsonx.ai would be available on the open-source AI platform Hugging Space. It will help users monitor the Earth from space, measuring environmental changes that have already happened while also making predictions about the future. The model is also designed to be extremely simple to use. A user would merely need to select a location and a date, and the model will highlight changes in floodwater, reforestation efforts and other relevant factors.
  48. The Maski rock edict is a minor rock edict of Emperor Ashoka. The Maski rock edict is important because it was the 1st edict of Emperor Ashoka to include his name. Earlier edicts referred to him as Devanampiye Piyadasi.
  49. MH-60 Romeo Helicopter is the world’s most advanced maritime helicopterand the S. Navy’s primary anti-submarine and surface warfare helicopter, specially designed for all aspects of land or maritime operations. It is an all-weather helicopter designed with state-of-the-art avionics and sensors. The helicopter is equipped for a range of missions, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), search-and-rescue (SAR), naval gunfire support (NGFS), surveillance, communications relay, logistics support and personnel transfer, and vertical replenishment. 
  50. Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru has earned prestigious accolades at UNESCO’s 2023 Prix Versailles. The Terminal 2 (T2) secured recognition as one of the ‘World’s most beautiful airports’ and was awarded the coveted ‘World special prize for an interior 2023.’
  51. Ocular syphilis has been described as the great imitator. It can manifest in a multitude of ways and as such the diagnosis can be missed. This is important because it can easily be treated and cured. Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. It is thought of as an old disease – possibly introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1493 – but it is still very prevalent today. Syphilis infections in the UK increased to 8,692 in 2022, up 15% compared with 2021 (7,543). This is the largest number of confirmed infections since 1948.
  52. The Unnati Foundation became the first entity to list on the social stock exchanges (SSE).
  53. Green Credits Initiative launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at COP28 earlier, will incentivize voluntary pro-planet actions and facilitate global collaboration, cooperation and partnership through exchange of knowledge, experiences and best practices in planning, implementation and monitoring of environment positive actions.
  54. UNICEF, Generation Unlimited and partners have launched the Green Rising initiative at Dubai Cares-hosted RewirEd Summit on the first-ever COP Youth, Children, Education and Skills Day in a major drive to mobilize world leaders to scale children- and youth-led grassroots climate action.
  55. UNICEF and its global partnerships platform Generation Unlimited (also known as YuWaah in India) have partnered with key organizations committed to working towards a green future for children and young people as a part of the Green Rising India Alliance (GRIA). The alliance consists of YuWaah at UNICEF, Capgemini, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, ReNew Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and SAP.
  56. Late Blight disease is a fungal disease which, if not properly managed in time, can damage the entire potato crop. The first symptoms of late blight appear as small, light to dark green, circular to irregular-shaped water-soaked spots. During cool, moist weather, these lesions expand rapidly into large, dark brown or black lesions, often appearing greasy. A pale green to yellow border often surrounds the lesions.
  57. Andriamamelo Cave is located in Western Madagascar and contains ancient rock art, hints at ancient connections between Africa and Asia.
  58. Polar Stratospheric clouds (PSC) are also known as nacreous clouds or mother of pearl, due to their iridescence. These are formed in very cold conditions over Polar Regions and within the stratosphere, around 12-19 miles (19-31 km) high, far above our normal clouds. These clouds are made of smaller ice particles than those that form more common clouds. These small particles help to scatter light in a different way, which gives them their unique appearance
  59. World’s smallest ‘fanged’ frogs found in Indonesia. Frogs are amphibians, and they lay eggs that are encapsulated by jelly, rather than a hard, protective shell. To keep their eggs from drying out, most amphibians lay their eggs in water. The scientific name for the new species is Limnonectes phyllofolia; phyllofolia means “leaf-nester.”
  60. Blue dragons (Glaucus atlanticus), a type of sea slug, have been spotted on the beach and in waters near the shore in Besant Nagar. Usually found in open sea surface waters, they sometimes get pushed to the shore due to a storm or some oceanic condition. Marine biologists say these tiny organisms are “mildly’ venomous and their sting can cause problems, especially to children and elderly.   
  61. Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was the name given to the 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.
  62. Operation Nanhe Farishte is a Railway Protection Force (RPF) initiative to reconnect children who have been lost or separated from their families.
  63. Kazhuveli Bird Sanctuary is located in the state of Tamil Nadu. It lies adjacent to the Bay of Bengal along the east coast. It is one of the major wetlands on the Coromandel Coast after Pulicat Lake. The lake is connected to the Bay of Bengal by the Uppukalli Creek and the Yedayanthittu estuary and is visited for nesting by migratory birds on the Central Asian flyway.
  64. Ketamine, also known as Ketalar, is a medicine that doctors use to make people not feel pain during surgeries. It is derived from a Phencyclidine (PCP), a hallucinogenic drug which works by blocking the NMDA receptor in the brain and spinal cord, and increases the release of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. It is a dissociative anesthetic with psychedelic properties, used under strict medical supervision for anaesthesia and to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, end-of-life distress, chronic pain, drug/alcohol problems, etc. Ketamine induces hallucinations, distorts sight and sound perceptions, leading to a sense of disconnection and loss of control, can lead to unconsciousness and memory loss. It is a Schedule X drug in India, which means it is tightly controlled and even monitored on a case-specific basis by the prescribing doctor. 
  65. The annual ‘Kanduri Urs’ festival starts with the flag-hoisting ceremony in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu recently.
  66. The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, also known as the “Gate of Tears” in Arabic, is a crucial trade route that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. It separates Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.
  67. Chum salmon, a species of anadromous salmonid fish, have found a new location to spawn—the Arctic waters, and the scientists are alarmed. Chum salmon are said to be anadromous, which means they hatch in freshwater streams and rivers and then migrate out to the saltwater environment of the ocean to feed and grow. They do not reside in fresh water for an extended period.
  68. Cholelithiasis is a common hepatobiliary condition affecting mostly Western populations. It is a major risk factor for cholangiocarcinoma, which is a kind of bile duct cancer. Understanding the factors that increase the risk of cholelithiasis is critical for creating effective preventative and treatment measures.
  69. The Telecom Bill recently introduced in Lok Sabha will replace the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950.
  70. The Ellsworth Mountains are the mountain ranges in Antarctica. They are forming a 360 km long and 48 km wide chain of mountains in a north to south configuration. Also, they are bisected by Minnesota Glacier to form the Sentinel Range to the north and the Heritage Range to the south. The former is by far the higher and more spectacular with Mount Vinson constituting the highest point on the continent.
  71. The world’s first portable hospital, ‘Aarogya Maitri Aid Cube’, was unveiled recently in Gurugram.
  72. White Lung Syndrome originates from distinctive white patches on chest X-rays in affected children. The term includes various respiratory illnesses like acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary alveolar microlithiasis, and silica-related conditions. The patients have symptoms including cough, fever, runny nose, phlegm pileup in sinuses, difficulty breathing and fatigue. The treatment is mainly focused on addressing the symptoms of pneumonia and ensuring the respiratory health of the patients.
  73. Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, which are radioactive metals, break down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. It is an inert, colourless, and odourless gas. Radon gas usually exists at very low levels outdoors, but the gas can accumulate in areas without adequate ventilation, such as underground mines. Radon can get into homes and buildings through small cracks or holes and build up in the air. Radon levels may be higher in homes that are well insulated, tightly sealed, and/or built on soil rich in the elements uranium, thorium, and radium. It is the second-most important cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
  74. Each car is subjected to a series of crash tests, including an offset deformable barrier frontal impact test at 64kmph, a side impact test at 50kmph, and a pole side impact test at 29kmph. Following these tests, cars receive a rating of zero to five stars, reflecting their safety performance.
  75. The Airgun Surrender Abhiyan is an anti-airgun initiative in Arunachal Pradesh, India. The initiative was recognized at the UNESCO’s International Conference on Biosphere Reserves in Malaysia in November 2023.
  76. SWARM stands for “Smart War-Fighting Array of Reconfigured Modules.” A Swarm Drone typically consists of multiple drones working in coordination, communicating with one another, and sharing information to achieve a common objective. These drones can be of the same or different types, ranging from small quadcopters to larger fixed-wing drones.
  77. The Haft Gumbaz, also known as Haft Gumbad is a group of tombs of the Bahmani dynasty at Kalaburagi, earlier known as Gulbarga in Karnataka.
  78. An international team of researchers, which includes specialists from Indiana University School of Medicine, has discovered a protein that is present in the brains of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). This discovery reveals a new potential target for developing treatments for FTD. The research findings shed light on a significant discovery regarding frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and its association with a protein called TAF15. This protein has been identified to form amyloid filaments in nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord, contributing to neurodegenerative disorders. There is no cure for FTD, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life of people with FTD and their caregivers. These include medications, behavioural therapies, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
  79. The Securities and Exchange Board of India last week floated a much-awaited discussion paper on instant settlement of shares. No advanced or emerging market offers such low settlement time. India is already among a handful of global markets that offer T+1 settlements–requiring trade settlements to be completed within a day of a transaction–as against the global norm of T+2 or T+3 settlements.
  80. The Indian Tent Turtle is protected species under Schedule 1 of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  81. The Minister of Science & Technology, announced that India is set to launch Vyommitra, a female robot astronaut, into space as part of the ambitious Gaganyaan project.
  82. Drinking Water is a state subject, and hence, the responsibility of planning, approval, implementation, operation, and maintenance of drinking water supply schemes, including those under the Jal Jeevan Mission, lies with State/UT Governments. The Government of India supports the States by providing technical and financial assistance.
  83. Iran recently unveiled advanced Karrar combat drones armed with air-to-air missiles, enhancing its air defence capabilities. It is the first long-endurance, combat-capable Iranian drone. It will be strategically deployed along border areas, providing air defence units with the capability to intercept and neutralize hostile aerial threats at significantly reduced costs compared to traditional manned fighter sorties.
  84. Visitors to the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) will now sight new animal species in the zoo park, as the IGZP has executed an animal exchange programme with Kakatiya Zoological Park in Warangal. As part of the exchange, the IGZP has received Mouse Deer and Chowsinga. In return, the zoo is sparing hog deer, barking deer and Lutino Parakeets.
  85. The Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the tri-junction of Sikkim, Bengal and Bhutan and is spread over 128 square kilometres. It is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sikkim.
  86. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal (IISER Bhopal), have completed the first-ever genome sequencing of the jamun tree (Syzygium cumini), an evergreen popular in India for its medicinal properties, fruits, and ornamental value.  Jamun is the largest genome sequenced from the world’s largest tree genus, Syzygium.  Jamun, jambolan, or black plum is a Myrtaceae plant family tropical tree. Its natural range includes the Indian sub-continent and South-East Asia. The genus Syzygium contains 1,193 recognised species, including jamun.   JIn Ayurveda the black plum is used to treat ailments such as stomach discomfort, arthritis, cardiac problems, flatulence, asthma, diarrhoea, and stomach spasms. Clinical studies have also shown it to contain bioactive components such as flavonoids, polyphenols, antioxidants, iron, and vitamin C. Moreover, alkaloids, another type of metabolite, are also found abundantly in different plant parts and offer curative properties against many diseases. This combination of alkaloids and flavonoids gives the plant its anti-arthritic properties, the researchers suggest.
  87. The Supreme Court on March 28, 2018, passed several directions with regard to stay orders, applicable to both civil and criminal matters. In all pending cases where a stay is granted and is operating, the stay will come to an end on expiry of 6 months from March 28, 2018, unless, in exceptional cases, a speaking order extends the stay. The trial court may fix a date not later than 6 months from the date of the stay order.
  88. The electric eel can release up to 860 volts, which is enough to run a machine. In a recent study, a research group from Nagoya University in Japan found electric eels can release enough electricity to genetically modify small fish larvae (PeerJ —Life and Environment). The researchers’ findings add to what we know about electroporation, a gene delivery technique. Electroporation uses an electric field to create temporary pores in the cell membrane. This lets molecules, like DNA or proteins, enter the target cell.
  89. Pulsars are rotating neutron stars observed to have pulses of radiation at very regular intervals that typically range from milliseconds to seconds. Pulsars have very strong magnetic fields, which funnel jets of particles out along the two magnetic poles. These accelerated particles produce very powerful beams of light.
  90. The indigenous Koya tribe inhabiting the Papikonda hill range along the rivers Godavari and Sabari in Andhra Pradesh have decided to do away with millennia-old traditions in an attempt to conserve the Indian Bison (Bos gaurus). The Koyas have moved on from using traditional Indian Bison horns to palm leaves to craft their traditional flute, Permakore, as a gesture of conservation of the Indian Bison in the Papikonda hill range in the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh. In the Koya language, ‘Permam’ stands for Indian Bison or Guar, and ‘Kore’ stands for ‘horn’, and thus, the flute made of Bison horn is called Permakore. On one corner of the horn is a bamboo pipe inserted from where the air is blown into the horn to produce sound. Since hunting cannot be separated from the Koyas’ social life, the Indian Bison became an integral part of their culture. The Koyas adopted Bison horns to discover their two cultural forms: the Kommu Koya dance, during which two Bison horns are adorned on the head as part of the attire, and the Permakore flute, which is made of a single horn. During the ‘Bhumi Panduga’, a festival to mark the commencement of the agricultural season, the Koyas go for a three-day hunt and feast on the catch. Hunting of Indian Bison (Gaur) attracts punishment under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. The Indian Bison is herbivorous by nature, moves in groups, and preys mainly on bamboo leaves.
  91. Another name for the Papikondalu hill range is the’ Bison hill range,’ which is derived from the fact that it is home to the Indian Bison. 
  92. A buoy is a floating object anchored at a definite location to guide or warn mariners, to mark the positions of submerged objects, or to moor vessels in lieu of anchoring. Buoys are often brightly coloured and have distinctive shapes or patterns, making them easily visible to ships and other watercraft.  Buoys are commonly found in harbours and ports, along coastlines, and in rivers and lakes. They are maintained by various organisations, such as the Coast Guard and other navigational authorities.
  93. Julian Felipe Reef is a reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea. It lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Philippines. It’s also known as Whitsun Reef, Whitson Reef, and Whitsum Reef. It’s the largest reef in the Union Banks.
  94. The Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy has launched 4E Wave Movement recently. It is a Student-Led National Movement for Energy Conservation in Jammu & Kashmir.
  95. Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 1 states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” And Article 2 says that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms the declaration sets out, “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Other articles state that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person,” and that no one “shall be held in slavery or servitude” or “subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The declaration says that “all are equal before the law” and that everyone is entitled to “a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” And it says that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The declaration enshrines the rights to freedom of religion; to freedom of opinion and expression; and to freedom of peaceful assembly. And it says that everyone has the right to education.
  96. Launched by Google DeepMind, Graph Networks for Materials Exploration (GNoME), an AI tool, is accelerating the materials discovery using artificial intelligence (AI). It is a state-of-the-art graph neural network (GNN) model that uses ‘active learning’ to enhance its performance, allowing it to predict the stability of new materials. GnoME can generate predictions for the structures of novel, stable crystals which were then tested, resulting in high-quality training data fed back into model training.         
  97. The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2023 has been jointly awarded to Daniel Barenboim and Ali Abu Awwad for their efforts in bringing together the youth and peoples of Israel and the Arab World for a non-violent resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
  98. Scientists have detected one of the most powerful cosmic rays ever slamming into Earth but they have no idea what caused it or where it came from. The extremely high-energy particle has been named Amaterasu after the Japanese Sun goddess, and it seemingly arrived from a void in space where nothing is known to exist. The Amaterasu particle has an energy exceeding 240 exa-electron volts (EeV). That is millions of times more powerful than the particles produced by the Large Hadron Collider, which is the most powerful accelerator ever built. It is second only to the “Oh-My-God” particle, another high-energy cosmic ray detected in 1991. That came in at 320 EeV.
  99. Southern Ocean (SO) is a unique region which tend to have a global scientific relevance in terms of its role in climate change, its distinct physical, chemical properties and related biological processes. In the light of the biogeochemical perspective, the SO in general and the Indian sector of the SO (ISSO) in particular, is still an understudied region. The SO plays a major role in the global carbon sequestration and cycling and strongly influences global climate patterns. This program was initiated by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to pursue multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research activities addressing various key scientific components including air-sea interactions, lower atmospheric processes, hydrodynamics, biogeochemistry, biodiversity (bacteria, plankton and higher marine organisms) etc.
  100. The Indian Antarctic Programme was conceived in 1981 to provide a platform for scientific research to the Indian scientific community. Indian Antarctic Programme was initiated under the Department of Ocean Development (DOD) attached to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Over four decades with changes in its affiliation and mode of operations, it has evolved to its present format wherein its managed and operated by National Centre for Polar & Ocean Research an autonomous institution under Ministry of Earth Sciences. During this journey of 41 years, three permanent Indian research bases, “Dakshin Gangotri-1983”, “Maitri-1988” and “Bharati-2012” have been built.
  101. The bonnet macaque is a species of Old-World monkey that is native to southern India. They are also known as Zati. They are highly arboreal and most abundant on the outskirts of human settlements.
  102. The United States has launched Operation Prosperity Guardian a multinational security initiative to maintain security in the Red Sea. Yemen is located close to the narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait, which leads into the Red Sea.
  103. In 1927, four revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement were hanged on December 17 (Rajendranath Lahiri) and December 19 (Ashfaqullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Thakur Roshan Singh). This came two years after the Kakori Train Robbery, in which members of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) had looted a train transporting money to the British treasury.
  104. Pradhan Mantri Anusuchit Jaati Abhyuday Yojana (PM- AJAY) is a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme implemented since 2021-22 as three components, which are as under:- i) Development of SC dominated villages into an ‘Adarsh Gram’ component, ii)‘Grants-in-aid for District/State-level Projects for socio-economic betterment of SCs’ component and iii) ‘Construction of Hostels in Higher Educational Institutions’component
  105. The 8th edition of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Conclave of Chiefs (CoC) was conducted by Royal Thai Navy at Bangkok, Thailand from 19 – 22 Dec 23. Chiefs of Navies/ Senior Delegates from 27 Members/ Observer countries participated in the event. Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, attended the event with a three member Indian Naval delegation. India is also scheduled to take over as the Chair of IONS (2025-27) during 9th CoC planned to be conducted in India in end 2025. IONS was conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008 as a forum which seeks to enhance maritime cooperation among Navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive platform for discussions on regionally relevant maritime issues that would lead to common understanding on the way ahead. The inaugural edition of IONS was held in Feb 2008 at New Delhi, with Indian Navy as the Chair for two years (2008 – 2010).
  106. In the first evidence of rapid evolution, scientists have discovered a flower growing in Paris, France is producing less nectar and smaller flowers to attract fewer pollinators. The scientists also found evidence that the plant field pansy, scientifically known as Viola arvensis,is self-pollinating, as indicated the research.
  107. Basadi and Nishidis were a Jain shrine or temple in Karnataka.

To Read Previous Months Monthly Prelims inFocus: Click here

To Download our Monthly Current Affairs Digest (Free Prelims inFocus): Click here