IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-May 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-May 2023

  1. The Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT), under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Education, is working on technical and scientific terminology in 10 Indian languages that are under-represented in the learning landscape. The CSTT, which was set up in 1961, has the mandate of evolving technical terminology in all Indian languages. The organisation is finalising several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with prominent institutes, including IIT Bombay, for quick online dissemination.
  2. May 1 is marked as May Day, also referred to as International Workers’ Day and Labour Day in different countries across the world. The Day commemorates the contributions of workers and the labour movement. In India, May Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1923, after the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan was initiated and Comrade Singaravelar (Singaravelu Chettiar) helmed the celebrations.
  3. Apes and some other animals are known to engage in other activities that can scramble the senses, including consuming fermented fruits containing alcohol and ingesting naturally occurring psychedelic substances.
  4. About 70% of the world’s supply of gum arabic, for which there are few substitutes, comes from the acacia trees in the Sahel region that runs through Africa’s third-largest country, which is being torn apart by fighting between the army and a paramilitary force.
  5. The Tagin or Ghasi Miri tribe is one of the major tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, which is a member of the larger designation of Tani Tribes, the descendants of Abu Tani. Mostly Tagins are in Upper Subansiri district but are also found to be dispersed among the adjoining districts especially in West Siang and Papum Pare. The most important festival of the Tagins is the Si-Donyi Festival, involves the veneration of the earth (si) and the sun (donyi).[1] Si-Donyi is celebrated from 4th to 7th January every year. It is celebrated as New Year, Where the Nyibu (local priest) presides over and performs all the rituals with chanting of Uuyu Benam (celestial chantings). And sacrifice of Mithun (Gayal) for peace and prosperity in the community as a whole.
  6. The evacuation of 121 Indians from Wadi Seidna, north of Khartoum in Sudan, in the dead of night, using an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130J Super Hercules, has been lauded all round.
  7. Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disease beyond hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders and movement disorders. Often, a schizophrenic is not aware that they are suffering from the condition because no hallmark symptoms are visible. 
  8. Preeclampsia, a serious medical condition in which a woman, after her 20th week of pregnancy, has high blood pressure, exhibits signs of liver or kidney damage, has high levels of protein in urine, or shows other signs of organ damage, has no cure, and can be treated either through preterm delivery, or by managing the disease until delivery. 
  9. OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT and the GPT series of large language models, uses a type of the subword tokeniser called byte-pair encoding (BPE).
  10. In India, AI4Bharat is an IIT Madras initiative that is “building open-source language AI for Indian languages, including datasets, models, and applications,”.
  11. Neuralink is a neurotechnology company co-founded by Musk along with a team of scientists and engineers in 2016 to build direct communication channels between the brain and computers. The aim is to supercharge human capabilities, treat neurological disorders like ALS or Parkinson’s, and ultimately achieve a symbiotic relationship between humans and artificial intelligence. Neuralink’s technology would mainly work through an implant called the “Link” — a device about the size of five stacked coins that would be placed inside the human brain through invasive surgery.
  12. As per WHO, Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria has the ability to develop new resistance mechanisms and can transfer genetic material that enables other bacteria to also become drug-resistant. These bacteria families are considered as the ‘greatest threat’ to human health. Notably, the bacteria can easily live for long time on the environmental surfaces and shared equipment. It can be spread through contaminated hands. In addition to blood infection, baumannii is also capable of causing infections in the urinary tracts and lungs. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), Acinetobacter baumannii is capable of colonising or live in a patient without causing any infections or symptoms.
  13. Recently, Hvaldimir, the beluga whale,was spotted off the Swedish coast. Hvaldimir was the name given by the Norwegians who first saw it. It is a play on the Norwegian word for whale “Hval” and the “dimir” was added because of the beluga’s alleged connection to Russia.
  14. France, became the first country in the world to impose a ban on short-haul domestic flights. 
  15. In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) put in place an offset mechanism to ensure that any increase in emissions over 2020 levels is compensated for by the airline industry through investment in carbon saving projects elsewhere. Called Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, the offset plan is supposed to run from 2021 to 2035. CORSIA is considered a breakthrough, but it is not very ambitious. It only seeks to offset emissions that are over and above 2020 levels. It does not deal with total emissions.
  16. GMOs were first introduced in the US in 1994, with modified tomato plants that ripened more slowly to prolong their shelf life. Since then, a wide range of crops, such as soybeans, wheat and rice have been approved for agricultural use, along with GM bacteria grown to produce large amounts of protein.
  17. Scientists in India have also developed strains of Sub-1 rice, which are much more resistant to flooding. Flooding is a major issue in rice-growing regions of northern India and Bangladesh, set to become worse as the climate crises develops, and now 6 million farmers in the region are using Sub-1 rice to safeguard their crops against inundation.
  18. Golden rice, on the other hand, is a GM strain modified to contain vitamin A, designed to combat the shortage of dietary vitamin A in parts of Asia and Africa.
  19. India is the only country that has a regional satellite-based navigation There are four global satellite-based navigation systems — the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS (GLObalnaya NAvigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema), the European Galileo, and the Chinese Beidou. Japan has a four-satellite system that can augment GPS signals over the country, similar to India’s GAGAN (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation).
  20. On January 28, 1950, days after India became a republic, the Supreme Court was inaugurated.
  21. President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the new Jharkhand High Court complex, the country’s biggest in terms of area.
  22. Articles 191 and 192 of the Constitution deal with “Disqualifications for membership” of a state Legislative Assembly or Council, and “Decision on questions as to disqualifications of members” respectively. Article 191(1) says that “a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member” of a state House “if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State…, other than an office declared by the Legislature…not to disqualify its holder”. Article 192(1) states that if “any question arises as to whether a member…has become subject to…disqualification…, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final”. Under Article 192(2), “Before giving any decision on any such question, the Governor shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion.” Also, Section 9A (“Disqualification for Government contracts, etc.”) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, states: “A person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that Government.”
  23. To mark the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin of Rs 75 denomination. The coin of Seventy-Five Rupees denomination shall be coined at the Mint for issue under the authority of the Central Government on the occasion of the inauguration of the New Parliament Building. Rs 75 coin is circular in shape with a diameter of 44mm. The composition of the coin is of a quaternary alloy — 50 per cent silver, 40 per cent copper, 5 per cent nickel and 5 per cent zinc. “The face of the coin shall bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the centre, with the legend “सत्यमेि जयते” (Satyameva Jayate) inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word “भारत” (Bharat) in Devnagri script and on the right periphery the word “INDIA” in English,”. The inscription “Sansad Sankul” is written in Devanagari script on the upper periphery while the words “Parliament Complex” in English on the lower periphery of the coin.
  24. As per the provisions of the Constitution, ‘prisons’ and ‘persons detained therein’ fall under the State List. This means that the responsibility of prison management and administration solely vests with the state government, which alone is competent to make appropriate legislative provisions in this regard.
  25. Volt Typhoon so far appears to be focused on stealing information from “organisations that hold data that relates to the military or government in the United States,”.
  26. VAT is an important source of revenue for governments – and the reason why many countries still have a tampon tax. In countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), VAT revenue represented 6.7% of their gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. VAT rates vary widely from country to country.
  27. In 2022, Scotland became the first nation to make tampons and sanitary pads freeand available at designated public places such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies.
  28. Time Shelter, written by Georgi Gospodinov and translated into English by Angela Rodel, has won the International Booker Prize 2023, edging out six other novels on the shortlist. This is the first time a novel originally published in Bulgarian has won the annual award, given to a work of fiction translated into English and published in the United Kingdom in the preceding year. Last year, the prize went to Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand, translated into English by Daisy Rockwell.
  29. In FY2023,the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) became a net seller of the US dollar after remaining a net purchaser for three consecutive years
  30. In little more than a week, the US government could default on its borrowings— an unprecedented situation that could potentially hit economies worldwide — if Congress doesn’t raise the nation’s debt ceiling.  The debt ceiling, or debt limit, is the total amount the US government is allowed to borrow to finance its expenditure, such as paying salaries and welfare allowances.
  31. Part of Axiom Space’s private mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Rayyanah Barnawi became the first Arab woman astronautto go into space. Called Axiom Mission 2, or Ax-2, this is the second private mission by Axiom Space, an American privately funded space infrastructure manufacturing company that was co-founded by Michael Suffredini, who served as NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager from 2005 to 2015. Although Barnawi is the first Saudi woman to reach space, she isn’t the first Saudi to go there. The first Saudi national to arrive in space was Prince Sultan ibn Salman Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, who was part of a US-organised space voyage that took place in 1985.
  32. The female avatar of Vishnu — Mohini, who appears in the Mahabharata, counts as the first reference to trans people in the Hindu mythology. Mohinialso appears in Vishnu purana as well as the Lingapurana, where Shankara-Narayanan’s origins (Hariharan) is attributed to the merging of Shiva and Mohini (Vishnu).
  33. Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement between Russia and Ukraine signed on July 22. The deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, facilitated the safe navigation of vessels carrying grain and foodstuffs from three designated Ukrainian ports.
  34. The colour was widely used in India since the 15th century and is seen in traditional Mithila paintings of Bihar as well as Pahari and Mughal miniatures in the 16th to 19th centuries. According to reports, a yellow pigment called gorocana, also believed to have been made from cow’s urine, was also used for several rituals in India and also applied as tilak.
  35. The Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body under the central government, and animal rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) presented evidence, including pictures and videos, that the Jallikattu animals were physically and mentally tortured.
  36. Perhaps the best guide to the cultural universe of Jallikattu is C S Chellappa’s brilliant novella, ‘Vaadivasal’ (Arena), a slim volume written in the 1940s, with a handful of male characters and bulls.
  37. Dotted lands are disputed lands for which there are no clear ownership documents. Typically, one or more individuals as well as the government’s Revenue Department lay claim over the land. These lands came to be known as “dotted lands’’ because when, during the British era, land ownership surveys and resettlement of land records were taken up, local revenue officials who were tasked with identifying government-owned and privately-owned lands put dots in the ownership column if more than one person claimed ownership, or if ownership could not be clearly established. These lands were also noted as disputed lands in the resettlement register or land records register. The dots on the land documents indicated their disputed status.
  38. Within a year, a second drug has been found effective in checking cognitive decline in people with early Alzheimer’s.Developed by the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, Donanemab was found to slow down cognitive decline by 35% when compared with a placebo in a phase III trial.
  39. Turkey does not have a system like India, where the candidate with the most votes is declared elected, irrespective of what percentage of the total vote she gets. A presidential candidate in Turkey must win at least 50% of the votes cast to be declared elected. According to Turkish election law, in a situation where no candidate gets 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will face each other in a direct contest in a runoff election.
  40. Sharks are ectotherms, which means their body temperature is largely determined by the surrounding water temperature. 
  41. Turkey shares a border with Syria and Iran, is separated from Russia and Ukraine by the Black Sea, and is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea. It controls the Bosphorus strait,which is the only passage for Russia and Ukraine, among other countries, to access the Mediterranean Sea and thus most of the world through water.
  42. Delhi under the constitutional scheme is a Sui Generis (or unique) model, and is not similar to any other Union Territory. It said Delhi presents a special constitutional status under article 239AA. Article 239AA specifically excludes land, police and public order from the purview of the legislative powers of the Delhi government. The court acknowledged that these three issues can also have some overlap with “services”.
  43. Aerosols refer to all kinds of particles suspended in the atmosphere. These particles have the potential to affect the local temperature in multiple ways. Many of these scatter sunlight back, so that lesser heat is absorbed by the land. Aerosols also affect cloud formation. Clouds, in turn, have an impact on how much sunlight is reflected or absorbed. Aerosol concentration over the Indian region is quite high, due to natural as well as man-made reasons. Due to its location in the tropics and the arid climate, India is no stranger to dust. But it also happens to be experiencing heavy pollution right now. Emissions from vehicles, industries, construction, and other activities add a lot of aerosols in the Indian region. A reduction in warming could be an unintended but positive side-effect.
  44. In the British army, from where the Indian Army derives its uniform pattern and associated heraldry, the uniform worn by officers of the rank of Colonel and above is referred to as the Staff uniform, to distinguish it from the Regimental uniform. The wearing of any item of Regimental uniform, particularly headdress, with the Staff uniform is not authorised.
  45. While petrol vehicles needed upgrades for this transition, these were limited to catalysts and electronic control upgrades. But for diesel vehicles, the upgrades were more complicated and entailed higher costs. Carmakers had to put three pieces of equipment — a diesel particulate filter, a selective catalytic reduction system, and an LNT (Lean NOx trap) — to meet the BS-VI norms, all at the same time. This was vital to curb both PM (particulate matter) and NOx emissions as mandated under the BS-VI norms.
  46. Although the Abraham Accords have been the main focus of Arab-Israeli peace-making since they were signed, the Arab Peace Initiative (API), introduced by the late Saudi King Abdullah 20 years ago, remains relevant.
  47. The COVID restrictions, known as Title 42, were first implemented under Republican then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. 
  48. The country’s first woman Rafale fighter jet pilot Shivangi Singhwas part of the Indian Air Force tableau at the Republic Day parade in 2022. She is only the second woman fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau.
  49. Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth became the first female fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau. Two years earlier, she had become the first woman fighter pilot of the IAF to qualify for combat missionsby day. She is from the first batch of women fighter pilots and the second woman pilot to conduct a solo fight. Tania Shergill led an all-men contingent in the Republic Day Parade that year as the first woman Parade Adjudicant.
  50. This cyclone will be named Mocha (Mokha), a name suggested by Yemen after the Red Sea port city, which is known to have introduced coffee to the world over 500 years ago.
  51. The Diamond League is an annual series of elite track and field competitions. It was started in 2010 as a replacement for the previous IAAF Golden League and IAAF World Athletics Final events. The Diamond League is organised by World Athletics (formerly IAAF or International Association of Athletics Federations), the international governing body for athletics. While the Diamond League is like bread and butter for a top track and field athlete – it is held annually to provide elite athletes the chance to frequently compete against each other – athletes participate in multiple competitions. These include: The Olympic Games, organised by the International Olympic Association, are the most prestigious and highly anticipated international multi-sport event. They are held once every four years. For track and field athletes, this is the most prestigious tournament. The World Championships, organised by World Athletics, are held every two years. They are the most prestigious track and field competition in the world and are generally considered to be second only to the Olympics as a personal achievement. Continental Championshipsare held on each continent. These include the European Athletics Championships, Asian Athletics Championships, African Championships in Athletics, North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships (NACAC), and Oceania Athletics Championships. Major Games like the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, African Games, Pan American Games and European Games are multi-sport events that feature athletics as one of the included sports. They are generally held once in four years. The Diamond League showcases high-level competition in track and field, annually attracting some of the best athletes. Among the previous three competitions, the Diamond League will generally be most competitive as it features the top athletes globally. However, Continental Championships or Major Games may get greater publicity due to their quadrennial organisation or multi-sport nature. Lastly, elite athletes may compete in National and Regional Championships. While the talent pool will generally be of lower quality, these competitions prepare elite athletes and also act as a place where budding athletes can perform well to get selected/invited to higher levels of competition.
  52. Ecuador’s government had pledged to spend about $18 million annually for two decades on conservation in the Galapagos Islands. The remote islands — home to some of the most unspoiled nature in the world — are a UNESCO world nature heritage site, and their animal life was crucial to Charles Darwin’s research before publishing his theory of evolution.
  53. The Manipur valley is encircled by skirts of low hills that spread into Nagaland and Mizoram. In these hill areas, which comprise the bulk of Manipur’s geographical area, live 15 Naga tribes and the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi group, which includes the Kuki, Thadou, Hmar, Paite, Vaiphei and Zou peoples.
  54. Denisova Cave long ago was inhabited at different times by the extinct human species called Denisovans, Neanderthals and our species. The cave over the years has yielded remarkable finds, including the first-known remains of Denisovans and various tools and other artifacts.
  55. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the European Union (EU’s) financial markets regulator and supervisor, has derecognised six Indian central counterparties(CCPs) from April 30, 2023. These six CCPs are The Clearing Corporation of India (CCIL), Indian Clearing Corporation Ltd (ICCL), NSE Clearing Ltd (NSCCL), Multi Commodity Exchange Clearing (MCXCCL), India International Clearing Corporation (IFSC) Ltd (IICC) and NSE IFSC Clearing Corporation Ltd (NICCL). As per the European Market Infrastructure Regulations (EMIR), a CCP in a third country can provide clearing services to European banks only if it is recognised by ESMA.
  56. Synthetic biology involves engineering tissues and living cells to behave like mechanical machines. This makes it possible to design cell-based therapies, such as ones that destroy cancer cells or encourage tissue regeneration after injury. The traditional approach to this is identifying certain proteins and exciting, or silencing, the genes that make those proteins to produce a desired action within a cell. This approach can take time (for proteins to be expressed and degrade) and cost cellular energy in the process. However, a new approach is on the horizon.  Preliminary research suggests it is possible to engineer proteins that directly produce a desired result. Protein-based devices, or nano-computing agents, respond directly to stimuli (inputs) and then produce a desired action (outputs). To create such agents, the researchers first engineered a target protein by integrating two sensor domains, aka areas that respond to stimuli. In this case, the target protein responds to light and a drug called rapamycin by adjusting its orientation, or position in space. 
  57. Uranus, blue-green in color due to the methane contained in an atmosphere comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium, is the third-largest planet in our solar system. It has a diameter of about 31,500 miles (50,700 km) and is big enough to fit 63 Earths inside it. Uranus orbits the sun at a distance of about 1.8 billion miles (2.9 billion km), almost 20 times further than Earth does. One orbit lasts 84 years. Most of the mass of Uranus is a dense fluid of icy materials – water, methane and ammonia. Uranus is surrounded by two sets of faint rings and orbited by 27 small moons. Its atmosphere is the coldest of any of the eight planets, including outermost Neptune.
  58. Inostrancevia is part of an assemblage of animals called protomammals that combined reptile-like and mammal-like features. It was 10-13 feet (3-4 meters) long, roughly the size of a Siberian tiger, but with a proportionally larger and elongated skull as well as enormous, blade-like canine teeth.
  59. The mass extinction, occurring over a span of a million years or so, set the stage for the rise of the dinosaurs in the subsequent Triassic Period. Massive volcanism unleashed lava flows across large portions of Eurasia and pumped carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for thousands of years. This caused a spike in worldwide temperatures, depletion of oxygen in the seas and atmosphere, ocean acidification and global desertification.
  60. The strongest association for the genetic loci indeed came from a regulatory region in the ATF3 gene. While the researchers have not suggested that the ATF3 gene is directly involved in the development of the skull, this gene is regulated by a gene called FOXL2, which has been implicated in the development of the skull and the face. Additionally, mutations in the FOXL2 gene can result in facial abnormalities.
  61. Baboons live in social groups with many complex relationships and interactions. They have an accelerated life cycle compared to humans (they mature at around 4.5 years and females live about 18 years). Like humans, they evolved in a savannah environment and are highly adaptable and behaviourally flexible. These traits make them an ideal species for exploring our research questions and linking results to humans.
  62. Jeff Bezos’ rocket company has won a NASA contract to land astronauts on the moon, two years after it lost out to SpaceX. Blue Origin will use its still-in-development New Glenn rocket to launch its lunar missions from Cape Canaveral. Starship, the world’s largest rocket, made its debut last month from South Texas; the test flight ended in an explosive fireball a few minutes into flight.
  63. Our species arose in Africa more than 300,000 years ago, with the oldest-known Homo sapiens fossils discovered at a site in Morocco called Jebel Irhoud, located between Marrakech and the Atlantic coast.
  64. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
  65. A wall museum titled ‘India in Space’ was unveiled on Wednesday by Indic Inspirations which is ISRO’s first registered merchandiser. The all museum is located in Bengaluru International Centre (BIC), at Domlur in Bengaluru. The wall museum showcases the journey of ISRO over the last five decades starting from its initial days of Rohini, Aryabhatta to the launching the Chandrayaan moon missions, the Mars Orbiter Mission to the upcoming Human Space Programme – Gaganyaan.
  66. The Standard Model of Particle Physics, one of the pillars of modern science, is a success of reductionism – the idea that things can be explained by breaking them down into smaller parts.
  67. Three Indian U.N. peacekeepers will be honoured posthumously with the Dag Hammarskjold Medal for their supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. The Security Council established the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Medal as a posthumous award to members of peacekeeping operations. The medal is a tribute to the sacrifice of those who have lost their life as a result of service in peacekeeping operations of UN. The International day of UN Peacekeepers is observed every year on 29 May. Each year on Peacekeeper’s Day, this medal is awarded at a ceremony at UN headquarters.
  68. Indigenously developed parachutes for the safe return of the capsule that will carry astronauts under the proposed Gaganyaan programme are set to undergo fitment tests at an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facility in Bengaluru. The Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), the Agra-based laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has developed the parachutes for India’s manned space flight programme, Gaganyaan, which envisages putting a crew of three astronauts in low-earth orbit.
  69. Britain’s fertility regulator confirmed the births of the U.K.’s first babies created using an experimental technique combining DNA from three people, an effort to prevent the children from inheriting rare genetic diseases. In 2015, the U.K. became the first country to adopt legislation regulating methods to help prevent women with faulty mitochondria — the energy source in a cell — from passing defects on to their babies. The world’s first baby born using the technique was reported in the U.S. in 2016.
  70. In the first part of the 2010s, deep neural networks (DNNs) took over ML by storm, replacing the classic pipeline of hand-crafted features and simple classifiers. DNNs ingest a complete document or image and generate a final output, without the need to specify a particular way of extracting features. While these deep and large models have existed in the past, their large size – millions of parameters – hindered their use. The resurgence of DNNs in the 2010s is attributed to the availability of large-scale data and fast parallel computing chips called graphics processing units. Further, the models used for text or images were still different: recurrent neural networks were popular in language-understanding while convolutional neural networks (CNNs) were popular in computer vision, i.e. machine understanding of the visual world.
  71. Sauropods, those familiar plant-eating dinosaurs with long necks, long tails and four pillar-like legs, were the biggest land animals in Earth’s history, reaching 100-120 feet (30-36 meters) long and weighing as much as a tractor-trailer.
  72. An international team of researchers, including from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, has reported a new kind of molecular motor. Molecular motors are molecules inside cells that perform mechanical work, such as pulling two organelles together and moving cargo towards or away from the nucleus. The new study has found, for the first time, that a long protein called EEA1 uses another mechanism. It allows a molecule to change its flexibility between two states instead of the usual lever-like back-and-forth action. In a 2016 paper, researchers from Australia and Germany reported that when an enzyme called Rab5 binds to a long protein called EEA1, the protein loses its taut and rigid shape and becomes floppy. This ‘collapse’ pulls two membranes inside a cell closer to each other. EEA1 draws energy from a reaction called GTP hydrolysis to become rigid again. GTP hydrolysis is mediated by enzymes called GTPases. Rab5 is one such. Also, most molecular motors get their energy from another molecule called ATP, whereas the Rab5-EEA1 motor uses GTP.
  73. Researchers at the University of Michigan found evidence of surges in brain activity associated with consciousness in two dying patients. The team looked back at the records of four patients who died from cardiac arrest while on electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring. All four fell into comas and were removed from life support after it was determined they were beyond medical help. When taken off their ventilators, two of the four patients saw increases in their heart rates as well as surges of brain waves in the gamma frequency — the fastest such brain activity, which is associated with consciousness.
  74. The West Bengal Government and the Farakka Barrage Project Authority (FBPA) have decided to conduct a joint survey of chars (land) formed due to erosion along the river Ganga in the State.
  75. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released two reports titled “Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update 2023-2027” and “State of Global Climate 2022.” 
  76. A recent study by scientists has revealed that Darjeeling, the queen of hills and a popular tourist destination may be on the way to becoming one of the most polluted cities of West Bengal.
  77. Located at the tip of New York state, where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean, New York City is famously vulnerable to natural disasters. It ranks third worldwide in terms of future exposed assets to coastal flooding: 90% of the 67,400 structures built in the expanded flood risk area after Hurricane Sandy has not been built according to floodplain standards.
  78. More than half of the world’s large lakesand reservoirs have shrunk since the early 1990s, chiefly because of climate change, intensifying concerns about water for agriculture, hydropower and human consumption. A team of international researchers reported that some of the world’s most important freshwater sources – from the Caspian Sea between Europe and Asia to South America’s Lake Titicaca – lost water at a cumulative rate of around 22 gigatonnes per year for nearly three decades. That’s about 17 times the volume of Lake Mead, the United States’ largest reservoir.
  79. Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has developed Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology for the conversion of seawater to potable water, which has been successfully demonstrated in Lakshadweep islands. The LTTD is a process under which the warm surface seawater is flash evaporated at low pressure and the vapour is condensed with cold deep sea water. The LTTD technology does not require any chemical pre and post-treatment of seawater and thus the pollution problems are minimal and suitable for island territories.
  80. Brazil, the world’s top chicken exporter, has for the first time confirmed Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
  81. Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh’s southwestern coast killing more than 3,000 people and inflicting damages to the tune of billions of dollars.
  82. India has identified 11 potential sites for exploration of hydrogen sulfide and a dedicated multi-purpose vessel was being acquired to carry out detailed surveys as part of the Deep Ocean Mission. The Deep Ocean Mission was part of the central government’s Blue Economy initiative which is going to play a major part in building India’s overall economy during the years to come.
  83. India has 12 major ports — Deendayal (Kandla), Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore (Kamarajar), Tuticorin (V O Chidambaranar), Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port.
  84. Australia’s “Black Summer” bushfire catastrophe coughed up so much smoke it may have fuelled the global onset of La Nina in 2020.
  85. Glaciologists have found the grounding line of Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland to shift substantially during tidal cycles, allowing warm seawater to intrude and melt ice at an accelerated rate.
  86. A grey plover (which is a winter migrant in these parts) had turned black in the belly, indicating it is almost time for it to return home to raise a new family. In its breeding grounds, the bird is better known as the black-bellied plover.
  87. World No Tobacco Day is recognised on May 31 every year.
  88. The Gangetic river dolphin is one of four freshwater dolphin species worldwide. The other three are found in the Yangtze River in China (now extinct), the Indus River in Pakistan and the Amazon River in South America.
  89. On May 26, 2023, three countries — Cameroon, Chad and Niger — kicked off Africa’s largest polio vaccination campaign since 2020, according to World Health Organization (WHO). 
  90. New emerging conflicts, in particular the eruption of conflict in Sudan, will likely drive global conflict trends and impact several neighbouring countries, the FAO and WFP.
  91. Every year on May 29, International Everest Day commemorates the 1953 summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Nepal.
  92. The number of mugger crocodiles in the Charotar region of Gujarat, located between the Sabarmati and Mahi rivers, has nearly tripled in the past decade.
  93. According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the influenza is a disease in birds caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses, also called H5N1. They can be highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or low pathogenicity avian influenza. 
  94. Lumpy skin disease (LSD) virus is a poxvirus that belongs to the same genus as sheep pox and goat pox viruses. It spreads through blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes, flies and ticks as well as through saliva and contaminated water and food. Lumpi-ProVacInd is a homologous vaccine made with the same virus as the disease. Homologous live-attenuated vaccines provide better and longer immunity compared to heterologous ones.
  95. The lynx is both protected and red-listed within the European Union.
  96. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) published the Environmental Guidelines for Stone Crushing units.
  97. Unani or Arabian medicine is a holistic system of natural healing and general well-being with roots in ancient Greek doctrines created thousands of years ago.
  98. Gaurs are included in Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. Their estimated population is around 13,000 to 30,000 globally, with approximately 85 per cent of the population in India. 
  99. Extreme heat is therefore a focus area of the United Nations Early Warnings for All initiative and for climate adaptation strategies. The Early Warnings for All initiative is one of the top strategic priorities at 19th World Meteorological Congress (Cg-19), which is currently taking place from May 22 to 2 June, 2023 at Geneva.
  100. The report titled Thriving: Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate of World Bank said the world’s population increasingly lives in cities as a result of rapid urbanisation. 
  101. Italy’s most active volcano Mount Etna erupted, forcing flights from eastern Sicily’s largest city Catania to be grounded due to a lack of visibility. Catania was hit hard by the falling ash following the eruption.
  102. The International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated on May 22 each year, is a reminder of the promise made in Montreal last December. The theme of the international day this year is appropriately From agreement to action: Build back biodiversity.
  103. Apis melliferaor the Italian bee and the Apis cerana indica or the Indian bee. Of these, Apis mellifera is mostly used as it is much larger than Apis cerana. Cerana usually flies less than a kilometre while the Italian bee flies up to six kilometres. At the same time, there is a lot of difference between the two bee species in terms of temperature. Cerana flies at temperatures between 16 and 21 degrees Celsius and low light, while mellifera flies at temperatures between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius. Due to these qualities, mellifera is more agile than native bees. It reaches 25 to 30 flowers in a minute. Because of this, this bee also does the pollination process faster. As far as Apis cerena is concerned, it goes from one flower to another in three to four seconds and can pollinate only 20 flowers in a minute. Mellifera bees were first brought to India in 1962 and reared in Nagrota, Himachal Pradesh. Since then, they have been used to promote horticulture in the state.
  104. Malawi first country in southern Africa to eliminate trachoma: WHO.
  105. The stunning sea butterflies, a suborder of sea snails, are tiny creatures that play a big role in the marine ecosystem. But the smallest species in this group found in the Southern Ocean are extremely vulnerable to climate change and their population is shrinking in a warming world. The shelled pteropods (group of free-swimming sea snails) live at or very close to the ocean surface. Like snails, they have muscular feet that they use as flappers to swim around in water, instead of glide on solid surface.
  106. Climate change may wipe out Marula and Knobthorn — two tree species in Eswatini — from their current ranges, according to a new study.
  107. The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared that mpox was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). It was first identified in monkeys in 1958, while the first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  108. In India, Paradip Numaligarh Crude Pipeline (under construction) and New Mundra–Panipat Oil Pipeline (proposed) will be among the longest oil pipelines in the world. Paradip Numaligarh Crude Pipeline will begin in Paradip port. It will pass through Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam and end in the Numaligarh refinery in Assam. The project is owned by Numaligarh Refinery Ltd, a public-sector oil company in Assam. 
  109. A new portal dedicated to leopards (Panthera pardus) was launched by the Global Leopard Conference (GLC) on International Leopard Day (May 3, 2023) to promote and celebrate leopards worldwide.
  110. Defence Minister of India and his Maldivian counterpart laid the foundation stone for the Coast Guard ‘Ekatha Harbour’. ‘Ekatha Harbour’ is a harbour for the Coast Guard of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). It is located at Sifavaru in Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) atoll.
  111. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Idukki district of Kerala and comes under Munnar Wildlife Division. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the Great Grizzled Squirrel of India. There are 11 tribal settlements comprising Muduvan and Hill Pulaya communities under the Wildlife Division.
  112. A biosynthetic ‘clock’ keeps the body’s cells from getting old or in other words, reaching normal levels of deterioration related to ageing. Human lifespan relates to how quickly individual cells age. Recent research has shown that cells follow two distinct paths during ageing, and these are controlled by a central, genetic regulatory circuit. Manipulating these processes can be used to extend the lifespan of cells. Cells, including those of yeast, plants, animals and humans, all contain gene regulatory circuits that are responsible for many physiological functions, including ageing.
  113. On 8th May 1994, Thalassemia International Federation (TIF) observed World Thalassemia Day in memory of George Englezos.
  114. India having lost the WTO dispute on customs duties on mobile phones and certain other IT products is now old news. But an important facet of the dispute appears to have escaped attention of the analysts — why did India voluntarily join the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) in 1997 and commit to eliminating customs duties on about 200 IT products?
  115. Fomalhaut, one of the brightest stars in our night sky and the brightest in the southern constellation Piscis Austrinus, is located 25 light years from Earth. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
  116. India launched ‘Operation Karuna’ to assist Myanmar which has been devastated by Cyclone Mocha.
  117. In a bid to boost cross-border trade, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi inaugurated the first border market at the Mand-Pashin crossing point of the Pakistan-Iran border. The latest border market, which is located at Mand town in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and adjacent to Pishin city in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province, has been set up on 10 acres of land.
  118. Kolak River is a river in Gujarat in western India. The west flowing river originates is Kaprada taluka. Kolak River flows into the Arabian Sea near Udwada. Its basin has a maximum length of 50 km. It is also connected to Madhuban reservoir of Damanganga River. It flows through the north side of Vapi city in Gujarat.
  119. Article 200 of the Constitution, as it stands today, limits the options before the Governor to give assent to the Bill sent by the legislature, or withhold assent, or reserve a Bill for the consideration of the President. 
  120. The Golden Globe Race is a non-stop, solo, unassisted yacht race around-the-world which was held for the first time in 1968-69. Just one of the nine participants — 30-year-old British sailor Robin Knox-Johnston — made it to the finishing point sailing a boat named Suhaili which was built in India. And the sailing would be along a stipulated route, rounding the three great capes, the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Australia and Cape Horn in Chile. Only three of the 11 contestants of GGR-2022 lasted the course of the race, with Kirsten Neuschäfer becoming the first woman to win a solo around-the-world yacht race. 
  121. LIGO is the world’s largest gravitational wave observatory, a scientific collaboration and marvel of engineering that consists of two facilities in the United States, one in the Pacific Northwest at Hanford, Washington, and another near the Gulf of Mexico in Livingston, Louisiana. 
  122. The Kinzhal-type ballistic missile had been intercepted in an overnight attack on the Ukrainian capital earlier in the week. It was also the first time Ukraine is known to have used the Patriot defense systems. The Kinzhal is one of the latest and most advanced Russian weapons. The Russian military says the air-launched ballistic missile has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it hard to intercept.
  123. Swarming migratory locusts – which threaten food security across the globe – avoid being eaten by other locusts by producing a smelly pheromone called phenylacetonitrile (PAN), according to a new study. The discovery of an anticannibalistic signaling pathway in locusts could provide a target for locust management strategies since cannibalistic interactions among locusts have been implicated in creation of swarms, which are highly destructive. Among species of locusts, cannibalism is common, and cannibalistic interactions have been implicated in the formation and maintenance of damaging swarms. 
  124. Lupus Day 2023 was observed at the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital on Wednesday. According to a press release, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation in any part of the body. In India, 14 to 60 per lakh population are affected by the disease and it predominantly affects women in the ratio of 9:1. The theme for this year was ‘Making Lupus Visible’ to increase public awareness about diagnosis of lupus.
  125. There are a wide range of temple cuisines, but what holds a dear place in the hearts of most people is the temple prasadam. The panchamirthamgiven at Sri Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple at Palani in Dindigul district is a crowd favourite. It was the first temple prasadam in the State to have bagged the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2019.
  126. World Thalassemia Day on May 8. 
  127. A Cham Lama performance on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti at Tupchiling Gompa in Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. Monks in elaborate masks, headgear and colourful costumes dance slowly to the music played, also by monks, using traditional instruments such as drums and cymbals. It is believed that the Cham dance is performed to exorcise evil spirits and demons.
  128. Kalangummukal becomes Kerala’s first fully insured ward.
  129. Chandokyopanishad contains eight chapters. The first five chapters deal with meditation (upasana) matters. The remaining deal with Brahmam, the supreme being. Sixth chapter is considered as “Sathvidhya” as it starts with the word Sath denoting Paramathma or Brahmam. It entails the journey of Swethakethu from ignorance to the knowledge of the self and truth. Those who realise the self and Supreme being Brahmam will have no rebirth. They are called Sathyabhinanda. Those who don’t are called Anruthabhinanda and such people will be destined to have rebirths, said Brahma Sri Mani Dravid in a discourse. 
  130. The most common way to produce methanol is to combine carbon monoxide and hydrogen in the presence of copper and zinc oxides as catalysts at 50-100 atm of pressure and 250° C. In the pre-industrial era, but going back to ancient Egypt, people also made methanol (together with several other byproducts) by heating wood to a very high temperature.
  131. Viswanathan would be in line to be the 58th Chief Justice of India in August 2030, succeeding Justice J.B. Pardiwala as top judge, if his name is cleared by the government.
  132. Bhopal has become the first city in Indiato join the growing global movement on localisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following the release of its Voluntary Local Review (VLR). In 2015, the 193 member-states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets as a plan of action for ‘people’, ‘the planet’, and ‘prosperity’.
  133. The Union Higher Education Ministry has discontinued the ‘Shiksha Puraskar’, launched by the Centre in 1992 for encouraging original writings in Hindi. The ‘Hinditar Bhashi Hindi Lekhak Puraskar’, an award given to promote writings in Hindi by writers from non-Hindi speaking areas, has also been discontinued. Under the ‘Shiksha Puraskar’, five awards worth ₹1 lakh each is given every year. The ‘Hinditar Bhashi Hindi Lekhak Puraskar’ carries a cash prize of ₹50,000. According to the Ministry, the ‘Shiksha Puraskar’ is given to books originally written in Hindi by Hindi and non-Hindi-speaking authors in various fields of knowledge such as education policy, method of teaching, Social Sciences, Philosophy, political thought, culture, communication, moral science, science and technology, medical science, law, Political Science, Environment, and other subjects related to education. The Central Hindi Directorate, under the Ministry, would select the winners for the awards from entries received after the publication of the award process every year.
  134. The 32nd Arab League Summit held in Jeddahwas unique in multiple ways. After 12 years, all 22 Arab states got together again, with 17 of them represented at the head of state or government level. The summit readmitted Syria and heard the Ukrainian President, a special invitee.
  135. The 2023-24 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-6), the sixth in the NFHS series, provides information on population, health, and nutrition for India and each state and union territory. Like NFHS-4, NFHS-5, NFHS-6 also provides district-level estimates for many important indicators. All five NFHS surveys have been conducted under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India. MoHFW designated the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, as the nodal agency for the surveys. Funding for NFHS-6 was provided by the Government of India. Technical assistance for NFHS-6 was provided by the USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys Program, ICF, USA. Assistance for some of the Clinical, Anthropometric, and Biochemical (CAB) tests was provided by the ICMR and the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune.
  136. Soil microbiota transplanted from more stressful environmental conditions can enhance tree tolerance to changing climates, a new study reports. Management of soil microbiota, especially during forest restorations, could be a valuable strategy for increasing forest resilience to climate change. For trees, neither adaptation nor migration may happen fast enough to keep up the pace of climate change. But diverse assemblages of microbes that live on plants can enhance plant tolerance to environmental stress.
  137. A new study has found that humans are leaving behind a frozen legacy of hardy microbes on Mount Everest, which can withstand harsh conditions and lie dormant in the soil for decades or even centuries. The most abundant organism they found was a fungus in the genus Naganishia that can withstand extreme levels of cold and UV radiation. But even pathogens heavily associated with humans, including Staphylococcus, one of the most common skin and nose bacteria, and Streptococcus, a dominant genus in the human mouth, were found.
  138. The G-7 Hiroshima Summit is the first hosted by Tokyo since the 2008 summit and comes at a time when the world is faced with enervating challenges such as the war in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear proliferation, rapidly transpiring impacts of climate change, economic security, unstable supply chains and the impact and regulation of sensitive technologies.

To Read Previous Months Monthly Prelims inFocus: Click here

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