Topic 1: Project Tiger
Context: Bandipur completes 50 years as Project Tiger reserve.
- It was on April 1, 1973, that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched Project Tiger, the flagship conservation programme to arrest the big cat’s dwindling population.
- There were 12 tigers in Bandipur when Project Tiger was launched and now the number of tigers utilising the park is 173 while the number of tigers within the reserve has been pegged at 126 as per the ‘Status of Tigers Co-predators and Prey in India, 2018’ published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
- Historical conservation:
- Much before the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972, was passed, the erstwhile rulers of Mysuru had realised the imperatives of conserving the flora and fauna.
- Several forest areas were not only preserved as Game Reserves but Tiger Blocks were identified and restrictions imposed on shooting.
- In 1941, the Venugopal Wildlife Park was constituted extending over 800 sq km of which 82 sq. miles was known asBandipur Sanctuary within the park.
- The boundary extended from Moyar river forming the southern border towards the Nilgiris, and northwards, it stretched till Gundlupet including the 1,450m-high Himavad Gopalswamy Betta.
- The park was named after Venugopala, the deity at the temple atop the hill.
About Project Tiger:
- Project Tiger was first initiated in the year April 1, 1973 to save the Royal Bengal Tigers.
- It was launched in Jim Corbett National Park, Uttrakhand.
- The Centre funds tiger range States and in-situ conservation in some chosen reserves.
- The reserves have been created on a core and buffer structure, where the core is for tiger-centric activities and the buffer is for humans on the fringes of the forest.
- A GPS-based law enforcement and ecological monitoring tool,M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers- Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) was launched in 2010.
- It is helping create a database of individual tigers so that seized body parts can be traced to the tigers they belong to.
- Cause of their depletion:
- The major cause of their depletion is humans (poaching, habitat loss), and so all the conservation areas are made human free.
- Human interference in any of the reserves and forests is not allowed.
- Success of the project:
- Project Tiger has been successful in increasing the population of the tigers.
- The number has increased from 1200 to around 5000.
- India accounts for 70 per cent of the world’s tigers
- Extent of the project:
- There are around fifty national parks and sanctuaries that are involved in this project.
- Recent additions to this project are are:
- Ratapani Tiger Reserve(Madhya Pradesh),
- Sunabeda Tiger Reserve (Odisha), and
- Guru Ghasidas (Chhattisgarh).
- Conservation status:
- IUCN – Endangered
- Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
How Project Tiger helped in protecting other wild species?
- After seeing the success of Project Tiger, the government updated the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- This made sure that along with tigers, other wildlife also gets protected.
- One by one, every national park took an initiative to save endangered species.
- For, e.g.: Gir conserves lions, and Kaziranga conserves one-horned rhinos.
- Eventually, the population of many animals started increasing.
- Project Tiger has been undertaken by more than fifty national parks, and every park is putting an equal effort to save the endangered species.
- Increasing four thousand tigers in the past few years is one of the landmark achievement of the project.
- People have become more aware of the wildlife problem and have taken steps to stop them from decreasing.
- Project Tiger also generated jobs for many individuals.
|Bandipur Tiger ReserveBandipur National Park in Karnataka was established as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger in 1973.It is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve since 1986.The Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore created a sanctuary in 1931 and named it the Venugopala Wildlife Park.The Bandipur Tiger Reserve was established under Project Tiger in 1973 by adding much more area to the Venugopala Wildlife park.Bandipur National Park is located where the Deccan Plateau meets the Western Ghats.As a result, the park has a variety of biomes including:dry deciduous forests,moist deciduous forests andshrublands.The park is flanked by the Kabini river in the north and the Moyar in the south.The Nugu river runs through the park.The highest point in the park is on a hill called Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta.Bandipur has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons.Fauna:The Asian elephant, gaur, Bengal tiger, sloth bear, four-horned antelope, golden jackal and dhole.|
Topic 2: De-dollarization
Context: India and Malaysia have agreed to settle trade in the Indian rupee which indicates that India is willing to take concrete steps towards de-dollarisation of its international trade.
- The Union Bank of India has become the first bank in India to operationalise this option by opening a Special Rupee Vostro Account through its corresponding bank in Malaysia, India International Bank of Malaysia.
- Trade between India and Malaysia can now be settled in Indian Rupee (INR) in addition to the current modes of settlement in other currencies.
- This initiative by RBI is aimed at facilitating the growth of global trade and to support the interests of the global trading community in Indian rupees.
- Trading in the U.S. dollar has faced growing difficulties, especially after the Russian economy was sanctioned by the Western powers.
- As a fallout of the sanctions and war-making, payments to Russia in U.S. dollars became increasingly difficult, which in turn triggered a search for solutions in national currencies and de-dollarisation worldwide.
- India-Malaysia Trade:
- The India-Malaysia bilateral trade touched $19.4 billion during 2021-22.
- Malaysia is the third largest trading partner of India in the ASEAN region, after Singapore and Indonesia that account for $30.1 billion and $26.1 billion bilateral trade with India respectively.
What is de-dollarization?
- This refers to the process of reducing the reliance on the US dollar as a means of international trade and investment and moving towards using their own currencies or other alternatives.
- With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, many countries are beginning to explore the possibility of moving away from the dollar for trade purposes, raising concerns about the future dominance of the currency.
- Fall in IMF reserves:
- According to the IMF’s Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER) survey the share of reserves held in U.S. dollars by central banks fell from 71 percent in 1999 to 59 percent in 2021.
- Averting risks:
- The de-dollarisation by several central banks is imminent, driven by the desire to insulate them from geopolitical risks, where the status of the US dollar as a reserve currency can be used as an offensive weapon.
- Thus, the war in Ukraine and the subsequent economic sanctions will trigger central banks to reassess their dependency on the greenback.
- A new payment system:
- Efforts are already underway for the possible introduction of a new Russia-China payment system, bypassing SWIFT and combining the Russian SPFS (System for Transfer of Financial Messages) with the Chinese CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System).
- The notion of de-dollarisation sits well in the thought experiment of a multipolar world where each country will look to enjoy economic autonomy in the sphere of monetary policy.
Which countries are de-dollarizing?
- Leading geopolitical adversaries of the US — Russia and China — have already started this process of de-dollarisation.
- Other smaller powers are also joining the ranks.
- India has also had to work out alternative arrangements, including a barter arrangement, with certain sanctioned countries in the past.
What Russia has done in this direction?
- Russia had started its three-pronged efforts towards de-dollarisation in 2014 when sanctions were imposed on it for the annexation of Crimea.
- Russia reduced its share of dollar-denominated assets to about 16 per cent in 2021.
- It reduced its share of trade conducted in USD by prioritising national currencies in bilateral trade.
- The use of USD in Russia’s exports to BRICS crashed from about 95 per cent in 2013 to less than 10 per cent in 2020.
- Russia also developed a national electronic payments system called “Mir” in 2015 after several payment processing firms denied services to Russian banks.
What China has done in this direction?
- China aims to use trading platforms and its digital currency to promote de-dollarisation.
- China has established RMB trading centres in Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe.
- In 2021, the People’s Bank of China submitted a “Global Sovereign Digital Currency Governance” proposal at the Bank for International Settlements to influence global financial rules via its digital currency, the e-Yuan.
- The IMF has already added Yuan to its SDR (Special Drawing Rights) basket in 2016.
- In 2017, the European Central Bank exchanged EUR 500 million worth of its forex reserves into Yuan-denominated securities.
- However, the lack of full RMB convertibility will hinder China’s de-dollarisation ambition.
How the dollar cemented its position in the global market:
- Despite these efforts, the US dollar continues to reign, having sealed its position in the early 1970s with a deal with the oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to conduct global energy trade in dollars.
- The status of the dollar was enhanced by the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, which essentially eliminated other developed market currencies from competing with the USD.
- This status of the reserve currency allows the US government to refinance its debt at low costs in addition to providing foreign policy leverage.
- Currently, about 60 per cent of foreign exchange reserves of central banks and about 70 per cent of global trade is conducted using USD.
- The association of the USD as a “safe-haven” asset also has a psychological angle to it and like old habits, people continue to view the currency as a relatively risk-free asset.
- Given this psychological bias, the world will continue to prefer the USD as a “store of value” and a “medium of exchange”, fulfilling the basic functions of money.
- Additionally, sudden dumping of dollar assets by adversarial central banks will also pose balance sheet risks to them as it will erode the value of their overall dollar-denominated holdings.
- Thus, despite triggers to the move away from the dollar, in reality, it will be a protracted process.
- Central banks are left with very few choices to diversify.
Topic 3: Banarasi Paan, Langda mango gets GI tag
Context: The famous Banarasi Paan and Banarasi Langda mango are the two latest products to have got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
- As many as 33 products were granted GI certification on a single day by the GI Registry, Chennai.
- Among them 10 products belong to Uttar Pradesh, including three from Varanasi.
- As of now, UP has 45 GI goods, out of which 20 belong to the Varanasi region of eastern UP.
- So far, 441 Indian products and 34 foreign goods have been granted GI tag by the GI Registry.
- Which products received the GI tag?
- The 10 newly certified goods from UP among 33 products include:
- Aligarh Tala,
- Bakharia Brassware,
- Banda Shazar Patthar Craft,
- Nagina Wood Craft,
- Pratapgarh Aonla,
- Hathras Hing,
- Banaras Langda Aam,
- Ramnagar Bhanta,
- Muzaffarnagar Gur (jaggery), and
- Banarasi Pan.
- The 10 newly certified goods from UP among 33 products include:
|What is a GI Tag?Geographical Indication (GI) Tags act as a special identification ascribed to any region, town, or state.These tags are assigned to certain products like agriculture or handicraft that symbolise the uniqueness of that particular region or place.India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.It came into force with effect from 2003.GI has been defined as – Indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.GI tags mean that that product, name or sign thus assigned is unique, bears distinctive qualities, are made with traditional methods representing the reputation of the region.One can also view this tag as a means of protection from any sort of copyright violation.The Darjeeling Tea was the first product in India that was given a GI tag around 2004-2005.|
Topic 4: Northern Lights/Auroras
Context: A video of a group of men performing the traditional dance of Indian ‘garba’ under the stunning northern lights in Alaska has gone viral.
What are ‘Auroras’?
- Auroras are a natural phenomenon caused by magnetic storms initiated by the Sun’s activity such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
- They are visible as bright lights in the sky and are known as aurora borealis or northern lights near the North Pole and aurora australis or southern lights near the South Pole.
- Typically, auroras are seen in regions closer to the Earth’s poles due to weaker magnetosphere, but during strong solar storms, they can be visible further away from the poles.
How ‘aurora’ forms?
- The Sun constantly emits a solar wind, which is composed of charged particles and flows outward into the solar system.
- When the solar wind encounters the Earth’s magnetic field, it can trigger a process called magnetic reconnection.
- This explosive process allows charged particles from space to be accelerated into the atmosphere.
- The charged particles from the solar wind are guided around the Earth’s magnetosphere and eventually become trapped in the magnetosphere’s long tail.
- When magnetic reconnection occurs, these particles are accelerated towards the Earth’s poles.
- Along the way, particles may collide with atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, providing the atoms with extra energy that is released as a burst of light.
- When we see the glowing aurora, we are witnessing a billion individual collisions that light up Earth’s magnetic field lines.
Why are northern lights visible only in winters?
- During the winter, the northern regions have long periods of darkness, making it easier to see the Northern Lights.
- In the summer, the polar regions have nearly continuous daylight, making observation difficult.
Topic 5: Antarctic Ice sanctuary
Context: Italian, French and Norwegian researchers are in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago to preserve crucial ice records for analysing past environmental conditions.
- Scientists camped in the Arctic are set to start drilling to save samples of ancient ice for analysis before the frozen layers melt away due to climate change.
- They will extract ice in a series of tubes from as far as 125 metres (137 yards) below the surface, containing frozen geochemical traces dating back three centuries.
- To preserve crucial ice records for analysing past environmental conditions by shipping them all the way to the Antarctic for storage.
- Human-caused carbon emissions have warmed the planet by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century.
- Glaciers at high latitudes, such as those in the Arctic, have begun to melt at a high rate.
- Studies indicate that the Arctic is warming between two and four times faster than the global average.
- Analysis of chemicals in deep “ice cores” provides scientists with valuable data about past environmental conditions.
- Meltwater is leaking down and altering the geochemical records preserved in ancient ice beneath.
- A study said that half of the Earth’s 215,000 mountain glaciers are expected to disappear by the end of this century due to climate change caused by humans even if the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is reached.
- Antarctic ‘ice sanctuary’
- One set of the ice tubes extracted will be used for immediate analysis while a second set will be sent to Antarctica for storage in an “ice memory sanctuary” under the snow, where the samples will be preserved for future generations of scientists.
- It will be stored at a Franco-Italian Antarctic research station.
- They will be stored under the snow at minus 50C, where no power is needed to keep them cool.
Topic 6: Exercise Cope India
Context: Continuing the military-to-military engagement, the Air Forces of India and the U.S. are set to conduct the Cope India exercise at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal, with Japan as an observer.
- The exercise will see intense air manoeuvres aimed at improving interoperability, a defence source said.
- The Japanese Air Self Defence Force will participate in Cope India as an observer.
- The U.S. proposed a trilateral air exercise between the three countries and so Japan was included as an observer with the intention to elevate it into trilateral level in phases.
- Other exercises:
- The India-U.S. bilateral Malabar naval exercise became trilateral with the addition of Japan in 2015 and further brought in all the Quad partners together with the inclusion of Australia in 2020.
- India and Japan held the maiden air exercise Veer Guardian hosted by the JASDF.
Topic 7: Mahavir Jayanti
Context: Vice President greets the nation on the eve of Mahavir Jayanti
- Mahavir Jayanti is an important religious festivals in Jainism.
- It celebrates the birth of Lord Mahavir, the twenty-fourth and last.
- Birth of Lord Mahavira:
- Mahavir was born in the year 599 BCE in Kundagram (which is today’s Kundalpur in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar).
- He was born in a democratic kingdom, Vajji into Ikshvaku dynasty as the son of King Siddhartha of Kundagrama and Queen Trishala.
- Vaishali was its capital.
- Mahavir was named ‘Vardhaman’.
- At the age of 30, Vardhamana left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening, and for the next twelve-and-a-half years, he practiced severe meditation and penance, after which he became omniscient.
- After achieving Kevala Jnana, he travelled throughout the Indian subcontinent to teach Jain philosophy for the next 30 years.
- His final discourse was at Pavapuri and he attained moksha shortly after his final discourse in 527 B.C. at the age of 72.
- 5 basic vows of Jainism:
- Nonviolence (Ahimsa) – not to cause harm to any living beings
- Truthfulness (Satya) – to speak the harmless truth only
- Non-stealing (Asteya) – not to take anything not properly given
- Chastity (Brahmacharya) – not to indulge in sensual pleasure
- Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) – complete detachment from people, places, and material things.
Topic 8: Mission Sahbhagita
Context: Mission Sahbhagita launched by the government.
- Nodal ministry:
- Mission Sahbhagita is launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- To encourage participatory conservation and wise use of wetlands.
- To enable a society ownership approach with communities leading at the forefront.