IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-November 2023

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IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-September 2021

IAS Abhiyan Prelims inFocus-November 2023

  1. 35 years after the fact, India’s intervention in the 1988 coup attempt in Malé — codenamed Operation Cactus — continues to be remembered with gratitude and fondness. Maldives lies to the south-west of the Indian mainland, with its capital Malé slightly more than 600 km away from Thiruvananthapuram. It comprises nearly 1,200 low-lying coral islands sprawled across 90,000 sq km in the Indian Ocean. The 1988 coup was the brainchild of Maldivian businessman Abdullah Luthufee and Ahmed “Sagaru” Nasir, supported by Uma Maheswaran, leader of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), a militant Lankan Tamil organisation. As the coup unfolded, SOS messages were sent to countries across the world.
  2. Quality Council of India (QCI) in collaboration with the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) hosted the ICSTS in New Delhi recently.
  3. Asteroid “Dinkinesh,” which is about a kilometre wide and orbits the Sun in the main belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The Dinkinesh encounter is intended as a test for Lucy’s systems. This means that scientific observations will be simpler than for the main mission targets. Two hours before the close approach, the spacecraft and the platform that holds its instruments will move into position. Once it is in place, the spacecraft will begin collecting data with its high-resolution camera and its thermal-infrared camera.
  4. The United Kingdom’s drug regulator recently approved the world’s first gene therapy treatment for sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
  5. The 2nd edition of Rohini Nayyar Prize was presented to Deenanath Rajput, for his work on empowering tribal women in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. It is a prize to recognize the exemplary contributions of young Indians, under the age of 40 years, towards improving the lives of people in rural India.
  6. The conflict in West Asia, which comes on top of disruptions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has resulted in limited impact on commodity prices but could bring “dual shock” to commodity markets as energy market turmoil could intensify food insecurity, the World Bank said in its latest Commodity Markets Outlook.
  7. ISA has granted deep-ocean exploration and mining contracts to several countries, including China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and India. Our own deep-ocean mining vehicle, ‘Varaha’, is a self-propelled track-based seabed mining system. It operates on the flexible riser technique: the mining vehicle is lowered to the ocean bed from a surface ship using a high-strength flexible cord system. Once the vehicle reaches the ocean bed, it will be able to move around while the surface ship moves in tandem. Positioned at a pre-surveyed mineral-rich site, Varaha uses a high-power pressure pump system to facilitate the extraction of precious polymetallic nodules. These nodules are pumped from the ocean bed to the surface ship. ‘Varaha’ was able to collect the polymetallic nodules from the ocean bed during the trial. An environmental impact assessment for this operation has been submitted to international authorities, signifying the successful completion of stage 1.
  8. H9N2 is a subtype of influenza, a virus that causes human influenza as well as bird flu. This virus is found worldwide in wild birds and is endemic to poultry in many areas. Poultry is considered a genetic incubator for the origin of the H9N2 novel avian influenza virus that infects humans.
  9. The crest of Yard 12706 (Imphal), the third amongst the four Project 15B stealth-guided missile destroyers, was unveiled by Raksha Mantri. It is the third in the Visakhapatnam-class stealth-guided missile destroyers. It is among the largest destroyers constructed in India, with an overall length of 164 metres and a displacement of over 7500 tonnes.
  10. Karnataka has stepped up surveillance after a mosquito pool in Chickballapur was found to be positive for Zika virus, a vector-borne flavivirus transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, mainly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
  11. The Adaptation Gap Report is an annual publication from UNEP, released just ahead of the year-ending climate change conference, and presents the global situation of adaptation to climate change. This year’s report focuses on adaptation finance, or the availability of money to carry out the adaptation projects.
  12. The Rubber Board is a statutory body constituted by the Government of India, under the Rubber Act 1947, for the overall development of the rubber industry in the country. The Rubber Board is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  13. India-born author Nandini Das won the 2023 British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, a leading international non-fiction prize. The prize was awarded her book ‘Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire’. The prize was established in 2013, formerly known as the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize. The prize is open to authors of any nationality based anywhere in the world and working in any language provided the nominated work is available in English and published in the UK.
  14. Prime Minister will address the Officer Trainees of the 98th Common Foundation Course at the culmination of Aarambh 5.0. Aarambh was launched in 2019 by bringing together all trainees of the All-India Civil Services and Group-A Central Services. The course provides a first-hand introduction to the ideas, challenges and responsibilities of governance in a large and diverse country, the release said. The 5th edition of Aarambh is being held on the theme of ‘Harnessing the power of disruption’.
  15. Vampire Viruses are pathogens that latch onto other viruses in order to replicate themselves. They emerge when a bacteriophage attaches to a soil-based virus, utilising its “life” for independent survival. This viral relationship between two pathogens is called a satellite and a helper. The satellite is the infectious strand that relies on the helper for support through its life cycle.
  16. Prime Minister of India will inaugurate the second edition of the Mega food event ‘World Food India 2023’. The event is poised to host participants from over 80 countries, including CEOs of prominent food processing companies. It will also feature a Reverse Buyer Seller Meet, with over 1200 overseas buyers from more than 80 countries. Netherlands will serve as the partner country, while Japan will be the event’s focus country.
  17. National Coal Index is a price index which reflects the change in the price level of coal on a particular month relative to the fixed base year. This price index combines the prices of coal from all the sales channels- Notified Prices, Auction Prices and Import Prices. The base year is FY 2017-18. The concept and design of the Index as well as the Representative Prices have been developed by the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. The Index is meant to encompass all transactions of raw coal in the Indian market. This includes coking and non-coking of various grades transacted in the regulated (power and fertilizer) and non-regulated sectors. The NCI’s upward movement indicates rising demand of coal because of upcoming festive season and winter in the country, which will encourage coal producer to take maximum benefit by further scaling-up domestic coal production to meet the growing energy demands.
  18. The Parvati River, also known as the Parbati River, is located in the Parvati Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is a major tributary of the Beas River. It originates from the Man Talai Glacier below the Pin Parbati Pass. The river flows in a gradual curve from the north-northwest to the west-southwest, past the pilgrimage center of The river is fed by the melting glaciers and the South West monsoons. The streams of Tos, Dibibokori, and Tichi feed this river along with many other tributaries. The river is very well known for carrying silver ore in the river sand.
  19. Recently, the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development 2022 was jointly awarded to the Indian Medical Association and the Trained Nurses Association of India as representatives of the COVID-19 warriors in the country. The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development was instituted in the memory of the former prime minister by a trust in her name in 1986. It consists of a monetary award of 25 lakh rupees along with a citation. The award is given to individuals or organisations that work towards ensuring international peace and development, ensuring that scientific discoveries are used to further the scope of freedom and better humanity, and creating a new international economic order.
  20. Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) is a CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) laboratory headquartered in Hyderabad. They followed a molecular approach to extract and read the genetic information encoded in free-floating environmental DNA (eDNA). eDNA is DNA shed by all organisms into their surroundings through natural processes during their lifetime or after death.
  21. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently issued a warning to organisations about a hacking group called Scattered Spiders.
  22. Kavach is a cab signalling train control system with anti-collision features. Simply put, it plays the role of a watchdog over the existing signalling system. It was developed over a period of 10 years, starting in 2012, by the Indian Railways Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO). Kavach is designed to give out warnings to the loco pilot in case he does not notice the ‘red signal,’ and instead of stopping, is going to overshoot the signal. After giving warnings on the locopilot’s display, if the pilot does not slow down below 15 kilometres per hour, the Kavach system automatically applies brakes to bring the train to a halt.
  23. Russia recently carried out a successful test launch of the Bulava ballistic missile, designed to carry nuclear warheads. It is a new Russian submarine-launched Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Development of this missile commenced in 1998. The first powered flight test of the Bulava missile occurred in September 2005. It’s first submerged test launch followed in December.  It was designed to be deployed onto Russia’s Borey-class ballistic missile submarines. It was designed to be the backbone of Moscow’s nuclear triad and has a range of over 8,000 kilometres which is close to 5,000 miles.
  24. National Epilepsy Day is celebrated every year in India on November 17 to raise awareness about the brain disorder and bust myths surrounding the disease.
  25. Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan organises the Tribal Youth Exchange Programme for the development of tribal youth with the support of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  26. Myristica swamps are called live fossils, a biodiversity hotspot dominated by evergreen trees belonging to Myristicaceae family, one of the oldest flowering plants on earth. Researchers had earlier mapped around 60 small and large Myristica swamps with central streams in Anchal and Kulathupuzha Forest ranges and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary. Since they are habitats with a relic status dating back to primordial times, the swamps have great conservation value.
  27. Northrop Grumman Corporation recently announced the successful maiden flight of Australia’s multi-intelligence MQ-4C Triton uncrewed aircraft.
  28. Alvin Anto of ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has won the Hasmukh Shah Memorial Award for Ecological Studies for the year 2023 in the research category. He has been recognised for his extensive research on the resilience of coral reefs in the Lakshadweep islands, highlighting the increasing threats these critical ecosystems face from climate change and other human-induced factors. Hasmukh Shah Memorial Award, instituted by the Gujarat Ecology Society and funded by the Kachnar Trust.
  29. India signed the Brasilia Declaration on behalf of India at the 2nd High Level Global Conference on Traffic Safety in 2015, which committed the world community to reducing the number of deaths in road accidents.
  30. The coastal security exercise ‘Sagar Kavach’ is set to unfold its strategic manoeuvres along the Kerala and Mahe coasts. The exercise, conducted semi-annually, is a collaborative effort with active participation from various central and state agencies, showcasing a unified approach to fortifying India’s coastal defences. The exercise is designed to address the unique complexities of the coastal terrain, ensuring that security mechanisms are robust and adaptive to various scenarios.
  31. Astronomers have recently performed photometric and spectroscopic observations of a recently discovered nova, known as AT 2023prq. Nova is any of a class of exploding stars whose luminosity temporarily increases from several thousand to as much as 100,000 times its normal level.  A nova reaches maximum luminosity within hours after its outburst and may shine intensely for several days or occasionally for a few weeks, after which it slowly returns to its former level of luminosity.
  32. ICGS Sajag is part of the Indian Coast Guard fleet of OPVs, based on the West Coast of India in Porbandar, Gujarat, and operates under the operational command of Commander Coast Guard Region (North West). The ship is equipped with modern weapon systems, sensors, state-of-the-art navigation and communication systems, including an integral helicopter to support both surface and air operations. Sajag has undertaken various Coast Guard operations, including Coastal Security and IMBL / EEZ surveillance, anti-transnational crimes, and Maritime SAR and Pollution Response operations in the past.
  33. The Union Government has decided to rename the existing Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) as ‘Ayushman Arogya Mandir’ with the tag-line ‘Arogyam Parmam Dhanam’.
  34. Russia’s rocket forces loaded an intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with the nuclear-capable “Avangard” hypersonic glide vehicle into a launch silo in southern Russia recently. The Avangard is a nuclear-capable, hypersonic boost-glide vehicle (HGV) developed by the Russian Federation.
  35. Iran recently unveiled its new and improved hypersonic weapon, the Fattah-2. Fattah, which means conqueror in Farsi, is a hypersonic ballistic missile. It was developed by Iran. It is a new version of its first domestically made hypersonic ballistic missile named ‘Fattah’. It is equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) warhead that can manoeuvre and glide at hypersonic speed.It uses a liquid-fuel rocket propellant. The precision-guided two-stage missile can hit targets within a range of 1500 kilometres with a velocity of Mach 15 (fifteen times the speed of sound i.e., 18522 km/hr). It can make quick turns to avoid defence systems. It is equipped with a warhead that has a spherical engine running on solid fuel and movable nozzles that allow it to change course when outside the atmosphere to accurately help it evade air-defence systems.
  36. In an astronomical feat, India’s first multi-wavelength space telescope, AstroSat, has successfully detected its 600th Gamma-ray Burst (GRB), an event named GRB 231122B. Gamma-ray bursts are the universe’s most powerful explosions, often associated with the creation of black holes. These bursts emit immense amounts of energy in a short span, ranging from milliseconds to several minutes, and are considered among the brightest events in the cosmos. Understanding these bursts is crucial for astronomers as they provide insights into the most extreme environments and the fundamental physics that govern the universe. Its ability to detect Compton scattered events also allows for the study of the polarisation of incident X-rays, adding another layer to the understanding of GRBs.
  37. Russia recently carried out a successful test launch of the Bulava ballistic missile, designed to carry nuclear warheads. It is a new Russian submarine-launched Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). It was designed to be deployed onto Russia’s Borey-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
  38. The “One Station One Product” initiative by the Indian Railways, which provides uniquely designed sale outlets for locals to sell indigenous products, is now operational at 1,037 stations nationwide. It was launched with a vision to promote ‘Vocal for Local’. It provides uniquely designed sale outlets for locals to sell indigenous products nationwide. This scheme is designed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
  39. A genetic chimaera is a single organism composed of cells of more than one distinct genotype (or genetic makeup).
  40. To ensure that advertisers’ green claims are true and evidence-based, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has proposed guidelines that aim to bring transparency and accountability in environmental claims-based advertising. These guidelines also aim to check greenwashing. The draft guidelines focus on various green claims, including positive impact on environment, carbon offset, and biodegradable claims. The self-regulatory industry body has released draft guidelines for public consultation till December 31. The draft guidelines state that absolute claims such as ‘environment friendly’, ‘eco-friendly’ ‘sustainable’, and ‘planet friendly’ must be supported by a “high level of substantiation”. In addition, advertisers must also specify whether the environmental claim refers to the entire product, packaging or service.
  41. Onattukara sesame is the GI-tagged sesame under Agriculture category of Kerala state.
  42. Recently, the Zanzibar (Tanzania) campus of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras was formally launched.
  43. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a stunning image of the dense center of our galaxy with clarity never seen before. This latest image showcases the star-forming region known as Sagittarius C (Sgr C), situated approximately 300 light-years from the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Located about 25,000 light-years from Earth, the galactic center is sufficiently proximate for JWST to resolve individual stars, providing astronomers with an unparalleled opportunity to study stellar formation.
  44. Irish writer Paul Lynch won the Booker Prize for fiction with what judges called a “soul-shattering” novel about a woman’s struggle to protect her family as Ireland collapses into totalitarianism and war.
  45. Kavro Doma 360 is the world-first rifle-rated ballistic helmet. It was indigenously developed by Kanpur-based MKU Limited.
  46. On Lachit Diwas, we commemorate the courage of Lachit Borphukan. His exceptional leadership in the Battle of Saraighat epitomizes resilience and commitment to duty.
  47. According to a new observational study, anti-rheumatic medicines used to treat rheumatoid arthritis may help reduce the development of autoimmune thyroid disease. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop autoimmune thyroid illnesses such as Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. While immunomodulatory medicines that influence the immune system are commonly used to treat RA patients, they are rarely utilised to treat autoimmune thyroid problems. Instead, thyroid hormone is used to compensate for the abnormalities in normal thyroid function that occur with autoimmune thyroid disease. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were treated with immunomodulatory medications, or ‘biological DMARDs,’ had the greatest reduction in the incidence of autoimmune thyroid illness.
  48. Recently, Brazil’s geological service announced a new species of dinosaur, Farlowichnus rapidus, that lived in the desert during the early Cretaceous period.
  49. Sangai is endemic to Manipur and critically endangered. It also has immense cultural relevance to Manipur. Loktak Lake is regarded as among the most beautiful and ecologically diverse lakes in the Northeast.
  50. The Ohio class is a class of nuclear-powered submarines currently used by the United States Navy.  They are the largest submarines ever built for the U.S. Navy.
  51. Russia recently signed a contract to supply Igla-S hand-held anti-aircraft missiles to India and has allowed the production of the Igla under license. Igla-S is a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) developed by Russia. It can be fired by an individual or crew to bring down an enemy aircraft. It has the capability of bringing down low-flying aircraft. It can also identify and neutralise air targets, such as cruise missiles and drones.
  52. Incorporated in 1958 as a Government of India public enterprise, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) is India’s largest producer of iron ore. It is a Navratna public-sector enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of Steel. The company is engaged in the exploration of a range of minerals, including iron ore, copper, rock phosphate, limestone, dolomite, gypsum, bentonite, magnesite, diamond, tin, tungsten, graphite, and beach sands. It owns and operates highly mechanised iron ore mines in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. It also operates the only mechanised diamond mine in India at Panna, Madhya Pradesh. NMDC is considered to be one of the low-cost producers of iron ore in the world. The company sells most of their high-grade iron ore production to the Indian domestic steel market, primarily pursuant to long-term sales contracts.  The registered office is located in the city of Hyderabad, Telangana.
  53. The pest (Mythimna separata) is known as the ear head cutting caterpillar, rice ear-cutting caterpillar, or armyworm. It feeds on leaves and can cut off panicles from the base of a crop plant, frequently leaving the field looking like it has been grazed by cattle. During an outbreak, the pest multiplies in large numbers and moves in swarms from field to field, like an army, to feed and attack the crops.
  54. The ‘Deepor Beel’ is situated near the site where the Battle of Saraighat, in which the Ahom forces led by the legendary General Lachit Borphukan, had handed a decisive defeat to the Mughals.
  55. Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a potentially fatal condition triggered when the body reacts to an infection by attacking its own tissues and vital organs.
  56. Qianlong shouhu was a medium-sized sauropodomorph that measured roughly 20 feet in length and likely weighed 1 ton. The finds from Guizhou provide “strong evidence” for the earliest known “leathery” eggs, the authors wrote in the study, adding that the discovery suggests that the first dinosaur egg was leathery in texture.
  57. Researchers have discovered that haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that binds oxygen, is also present in the epidermis, our skin’s outermost bodily tissue. Haemoglobin binds gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitric oxide, and it is an iron carrier via the heme complex. These properties make epidermal haemoglobin a prime candidate for antioxidant activity and potentially other roles in barrier function.
  58. Recently, the Information Commissioner, Heeralal Samariya, was sworn in as the chief of the Central Information Commission (CIC) by the President Of India.
  59. The Jesuits, or members of the Society of Jesus, are driven by the motto: “Walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice”. But Constantine Joseph Beschi, the Italian Jesuit missionary and Tamil scholar, known as Veeramamunivar, had also maintained a close friendship with Chanda Sahib, the Nawab of the Carnatic.
  60. Fractals are mathematical objects that can represent systems that show self-similarity across both space and time. They can describe a new kind of order in systems that may have otherwise been overlooked. 
  61. In animal husbandry, cattle that are born exhibiting characteristics of both sexes are called freemartins. Freemartins are sterile female cattle that result from the twinning of a male and a female within the same uterus. This phenomenon occurs in approximately 90% of such twin pregnancies in cattle. The key reason is the exchange of blood between the male and the female foetuses during gestation.
  62. The new Pamban bridge is India’s first vertical lift railway bridge over sea and it makes for a stunning sight. Connecting Rameswaram on the Pamban island to Mandapam on the mainland.
  63. Rhododendron is a genus of flowering plants that includes over a thousand species, including trees, shrubs, and creepers. Though these exquisite blooms are found throughout the world, Uttarakhand’s immaculate hills are where they are at their best.
  64. The Kangri, also known as Kanger or Kangid, is earthenware filled with glowing embers and encased in pretty handmade wicker baskets. It is a portable and moving heater that Kashmiris keep in their pheran, a long woollen cloak reaching down to the knees worn by people during the frosty winters.
  65. Israel recently confirmed that it used its sophisticated Arrow 3 missile interceptor against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It is an exo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile defence system for long-range threat engagement.
  66. An elusive echidna feared extinct after disappearing for six decades has been rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia, on an expedition that also found a new kind of tree-dwelling shrimp. The Zaglossus attenboroughi, a kind of long-beaked echidna named for famed British naturalist David Attenborough, had last been seen in 1961. Echidnas are nocturnal and shy, making them difficult to find at the best of times, and the Attenborough long-beaked echidna has never been recorded outside the extremely remote Cyclops Mountains of Indonesia’s Papua region.
  67. Consequent to amendment of Wildlife Act, placement of the CITES legislation of India in Category 1 of the National Legislation Project of CITES
  68. Hermes Starliner 900 drones: Given the tense situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, India is set to acquire additional Israeli medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles that will enhance the Indian Army’s surveillance capabilities along the northern borders. The Indian Army has already introduced Satellite Communication-enabled Israeli Heron Mark-II drones and has plans to upgrade the existing fleet of Heron Mark-I UAVs with similar capabilities, which will extend the UAV’s image transmission range. The Hermes 900 Starliners will be the latest Israeli remotely piloted aircraft in the Indian Army’s inventory, which first acquired the first-generation Heron UAVs nearly two decades ago. The Hermes 900 UAVs are currently in use in the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict.
  69. We’ll get to see the universe in full color through the eyes of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Euclid telescope for the first time. Launched in Julyon a six-year mission to study the cosmos, Euclid is now studying the dark side of the universe from a perch roughly 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth — the same cosmic accommodation as NASA’s mighty James Webb Space Telescope.