Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 18 May, 2021

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What is the Process to Create New District in India?

What is the News? Punjab Chief Minister has declared Malerkotla as the 23rd district of the Punjab State. Let’s have look at the process to create new district in India.

What is the process to create a new district in India?
  • The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State governments. This can either be done through an executive order or by passing a law in the State Assembly.
  • Many States prefer the executive route by simply issuing a notification in the official gazette.
What is the role of Central government to play here?
  • The Centre has no role to play in the alteration of districts or creation of new ones. States are free to decide.
  • The Home Ministry comes into the picture when a State wants to change the name of a district or a railway station.
  • The departments such as the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Intelligence Bureau, Department of Posts, Geographical Survey of India Sciences, and the Railway Ministry, provides their clearance to the proposal of state government.
  • After examination of their replies, state government receives a no-objection certificate.
What is the rationale behind creating a new district in India?
  • States argue that smaller districts lead to better administration and governance.
  • For example, in 2016, the Assam government issued a notification to upgrade the Majuli sub-division to the Majuli district for “administrative expediency”.

What has been the trend?

  • According to the 2011 Census, there were 593 districts in the country. The Census results show that between 2001-2011, as many as 46 districts were created by States.
  • The 2021 Census is yet to happen. However, Know India, a website run by the Government of India, says currently there are 718 districts in the country.
    • The surge in a number of districts is mostly due to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into A.P. and Telangana in 2014. Telangana at present has 33 districts and A.P. has 13 districts.

Source: The Hindu


“Winchcombe Meteorite” – To be Displayed in the UK

What is the News? A piece of Winchcombe meteorite will be displayed at the National History Museum, Gloucestershire (UK).

About Winchcombe meteorite:
  • The Winchcombe meteorite is also known as a carbonaceous meteorite. These meteorites have high proportion of carbon.
  • It was discovered after it landed in the driveway of a house located in Gloucestershire in the UK and considered “astonishingly rare”.
  • It is named after the place, where it fell down i.e. the town of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire in the UK. Furthermore, its weight is 103 grams, and it resembles coal in looks

Significance of meteorites:

  • Meteorites date back to the birth of the solar system nearly 4.5 billion years ago. Hence, examining it may offer scientists and researchers clues about the beginning of the solar system and maybe even the Earth.
  • Moreover, this meteorite is also significant because it has fallen and recovered from the UK in about 30 years.
What are Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites?
  • Meteoroids: These are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids. Think of them as “space rocks.”
  • Meteors: When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or “shooting stars” are called meteors.
  • Meteorite: When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.
Specific Missions launched to study Asteroid:
  • OSIRIS-REx mission: It was launched in 2018 by NASA with the aim of reaching asteroid Bennu and getting back a sample from the ancient asteroid.
  • Hayabusa2 mission: It was launched by Japan Space Agency in 2014 with the aim to study the asteroid Ryugu and to collect samples to bring to Earth for analysis. It returned to Earth in 2020.

Source: Indian Express


Climate Change impact on Cave Arts of Sulawesi Island of Indonesia

What is the News?

A new Australian study has suggested that climate change may be accelerating the degradation of Pleistocene-era rock paintings located in the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia. It is the world’s oldest cave art.

About the study:
  • The study was conducted by Australian and Indonesian archaeological scientists.
  • The scientists examined around 11 caves and rock-shelters in the Maros-Pangkep region in Sulawesi Island of Indonesia.
  • These are Pleistocene-era rock paintings dating back to 45,000-20,000 years ago.

Which are those ancient cave arts of Indonesia? Some important artworks include:

  • Firstly, the world’s oldest hand stencil (almost 40,000 years ago): It was created by pressing the hand on a cave wall and spraying wet red-mulberry pigments over it.
  • Secondly, the world’s oldest depiction of an animal (almost 45,500 years ago): The animal depicted is a warty pig painted on the wall.
  • Lastly, one of the caves contains what researchers describe as possibly the earliest known narrative scene in prehistoric art depicting a hunting scene.
Key Findings of the study:

 Salts on Rocks:

  • The researchers studied the flakes of rock that have begun to detach from cave surfaces.
  • It found salts such as calcium sulphate and sodium chloride on three of the cave samples.
  • These salts are known to form crystals on rock surfaces, causing them to break.
Change in Temperature and Humidity:
  • The artworks made with pigments are decaying due to a process known as haloclasty.
  • Haloclasty is a type of physical weathering caused by the growth of salt crystals. It occurs due to repeated changes in temperature and humidity, caused by alternating wet and dry weather in the region.

Natural Disasters:

  • Indonesia has also experienced several natural disasters in recent years, which have quickened the process of deterioration.
Recommendations:
  • Researchers have recommended regular physical and chemical monitoring of the sites to reduce environmental degradation.
  • Further, preservation efforts undertaken at the French and Spanish prehistoric cave art sites such as Lascaux and Altamira should also be implemented here.

Source: Indian Express


Unemployment Rate in India Shoots up to 8% in April: CMIE

What is the News?

Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy(CMIE) report on unemployment in India has been released. As per the report Unemployment Rate in India is increasing.

Key Findings of the Report:
  • Increase in Unemployment rate: The Unemployment rate in India has increased to 8% in April 2021 from 6.5% in March 2021.
    • Unemployment Rate(UER) is the percentage of the labor force who are willing to work and are actively looking for a job but are unemployed.
  • The labour participation rate(LPR) was 40% in April 2021. It is the worst since the national lockdown was imposed in May 2020.
    • LPR is the ratio of the working age population greater than 15 years of age to labor force either working or looking for work. In other words, it measures the number of persons engaging in the labour force as a percentage of the working-age population.
  • Salaried Class: The size of the salaried class has also decreased in India. During 2019-20, there were 85.9 million salaried jobs. As of April 2021, there were just 73.3 million. This may impact the domestic consumption of the country.
  • Lack of Demand: Lack of demand is hampering further growth due to the impact on income and consumer sentiment. Income is lower than it was a year earlier. 90% of families have seen income shrinkage.
  • Migration of workers: Migration from urban areas to rural areas due to loss of jobs in cities has also increased the burden on the agriculture sector and rural India.
About CMIE:
  • CMIE is a privately owned and professionally managed company headquartered in Mumbai. It was established in 1976 primarily as an independent think tank.
  • Purpose: It produces economic and business databases and develops specialized analytical tools to deliver these to its customers for decision-making and for research.

Source: The Hindu


Can a Single Lightning Flash kill 18 Elephants?

What is the News?

Recently, 18 elephants died on a hilltop in Assam. The preliminary post-mortem report indicates they had been struck by lightning.

Process of formation of lightning

  • During a storm or rain, particles of rain, ice, or snow inside storm clouds collide with each other. It creates a negative charge in the lower reaches of storm clouds and a positive charge in the upper reaches of clouds. This imbalance results in inter-cloud lightning.
  • Ground Objects like trees and earth itself during storms become positively charged due to friction with particles. It creates an imbalance between earth and cloud. Thus, nature seeks to balance this by passing current between the two charges i.e. from clouds to earth.
  • Thus, lightning is the process of occurrence of a natural electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud. It is accompanied by a bright flash and sound and sometimes thunderstorms.
  • Types:
    • Inter cloud or intra cloud(IC) lightning are visible and are harmless.
    • It is cloud to ground (CG) lightning that is harmful as the ‘high electric voltage and electric current’ leads to electrocution.

How does lightning kill animals? Lightning may injure or kill animals in a number of ways such as:

  • Direct Flash: An animal in an open field may be struck directly by lightning if part of its body covers or is over other objects in the vicinity. Taller animals are more vulnerable.
  • Side Flash: When lightning strikes a tall object such as a tree, it may generate a side flash that can strike an animal standing underneath the tree.
  • Touch Potential: If one part of a tall animal’s body is in contact with the ground, while another part touches a lightning-struck object like a tree, a partial current may pass through its body.
  • Step Potential: It is the most common lightning hazard among four-legged animals. When an animal’s front and hind feet are far enough apart, a partial current may pass through the body in certain circumstances.

As per the investigation team, it may be the step potential that killed the Elephants.

Why are elephants more vulnerable to lightning?

  • Since an elephant’s front and hind feet are wide apart, it would appear to make it more vulnerable than a smaller animal, such as a rat.
  • This is because the potential difference increases with the increasing distance between the two feet. The larger the potential difference, the greater the current through the body.

Source: Indian Express


PM pays homage to “Lord Basaveshwara” on occasion of Basava Jayanthi

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has greeted the people on the occasion of Basava Jayanthi, the Birth anniversary of Lord Basaveshwara.

About Lord Basaveshwara:

  • Basaveshwara is also known as Basavanna was born in Karnataka in 1131 CE. He was a Philosopher, Kannada Poet, Statesman and a social reformer.
  • He is known as the founder of Lingayatism. Furthermore, he was also a social reformer during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty.

Contributions of Lord Basaveshwara:

  • Rejected Social Discrimination: He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals. He advocated every human being was equal, irrespective of caste. According to him, all forms of manual labour was equally important.
  • Philosophy: His philosophy was based on the principles of Arivu (true knowledge), ethos (right conduct), and Anubhava (divine experience). This brought a social, religious, and economic revolution in the 12th century.
  • New devotional movement: He developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or “ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva”. This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement.
  • Anubhava Mantapa(hall of spiritual experience): It was a public institution founded by Basavana. It welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life openly.
  • Poetry: Basavanna spread social awareness through poetry(Vachanas). Such as Shat-sthala-vachana (discourses of the six stages of salvation), Kala-jnana-vachana (forecasts of the future) and Mantra-gopya.
  • Socio-Economic Principles: Basaveshwara gave two more very important socio-economic principles. They are-
    • Kayaka – It means Divine work
    • Dasoha – It means equal distribution.
  • Ishtalinga: He is known for introducing the Ishtalinga (a necklace with a pendant that contains a small Shiva Linga).

Literary Works:

  • The Basavaraj Devara Ragale written by the Kannada poet Harihara is the earliest available account of the life of Basaveshwara.
  • A full account of Basava’s life and ideas are also narrated in a 13th-century sacred Telugu text, the Basava Purana by Palkuriki Somanatha.

 Monuments and recognition:

  • The then President of India inaugurated Basaveshwara’s statue in 2003 in the Parliament of India.
  • Basaveshwara is the first Kannadiga in whose honour a commemorative coin has been minted in recognition of his social reforms.
  • In 2015, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the River Thames at Lambeth in London.

Source: PIB


India starts importing “zeolite” for medical oxygen plants.

What is the News?

National carrier Air India has begun the first of its “zeolite cargo flights”. This was done after the government of India started the process of importing zeolite from across the world for use in medical oxygen plants.

Zeolites in Medical Oxygen Plants:

  • Zeolites are used as adsorbent material in the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) process to produce medical-grade oxygen.
  • How is it used? The zeolite is used as a molecular sieve to create purified oxygen from the air. This is done by using zeolite’s ability to trap impurities.
  • An oxygen concentrator uses Zeolites to adsorb atmospheric nitrogen and then vents out the nitrogen. This will leave highly purified oxygen and up to 5% argon.

What is the Pressure Swing Adsorption(PSA) Process?

  • It is a technology used to separate some gas species from a mixture of gases under pressure.
  • Specific adsorbent materials (e.g., zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves, etc.) are used as a trap and adsorb the target gas at high pressure. For example, zeolite is used to separate oxygen from the air.
  • The PSA process operates at near-ambient temperatures.

What are Zeolites?

  • Zeolites are microporous, aluminosilicate minerals commonly used as commercial adsorbents and catalysts.
  • Zeolites have small openings of fixed size in them. This allows small molecules to pass through them easily. However, larger molecules cannot pass through them. This is why they are sometimes called molecular sieves.

Formation:

  • Zeolites occur naturally but are also produced industrially on a large scale.
  • Natural zeolites form where volcanic rocks and ash layers react with alkaline groundwater.
  • However, naturally occurring zeolites are rarely pure and are contaminated to varying degrees by other minerals.
  • For this reason, naturally occurring zeolites are excluded from important commercial applications.

Properties of Zeolites:

  • Zeolites are very stable solids that resist a variety of environmental conditions. The melting point of zeolite is very high (over 1000°C), and they don’t burn.
  • They also resist high pressures.
  • Moreover, they also don’t get dissolved in water or other inorganic solvents and don’t oxidize in the air.
  • Since zeolites are not reactive and are obtained from naturally occurring minerals, they do not have any harmful environmental effects.

Uses of Zeolites:

  • Zeolites are widely used as ion-exchange beds in domestic and commercial water purification, softening, and other applications.
  • They have the potential of providing precise and specific separation of gases. This includes the removal of H2O, CO2, and SO2 from low-grade natural gas streams.
  • Zeolites are also marketed as dietary supplements to treat cancer, diarrhoea, autism, herpes, and hangover. It is also used to balance pH and remove heavy metals in the body.

Source: The Hindu


 

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