Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 24 May, 2021

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How Whiteflies are Damaging Crops in India?

What is the News?

According to a study by ICAR- National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources, Invasive Whiteflies Species are increasing in India.


  • Whiteflies are sap-sucking insects. They are members of the insect family Aleyrodidae (order Homoptera). These insects become abundant during warm climates and are found on houseplants and in greenhouses.
  • Origin: Most of the whitefly species are native to the Caribbean islands or Central America.
  • India: Around eight types of whitefly species are found in India. The first invasive whitefly was reported from Kerala in 1995. These species are now distributed throughout India except Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Invasive Species: Whitefly species reduce the yield and also damage crops. Hence, they are considered as invasive species. These insects excrete sticky honeydew and cause the yellowing or death of leaves.

Key Findings of the study:

  • Expanding host range: Whitefly species are expanding their host range (Species on which they feed) on valuable plant species like coconut, banana, mango, sapota, guava, cashew, oil palm, and important medicinal plants.
  • Reason for expanding host range: The host range of all the whiteflies is increasing due to their polyphagous nature (ability to feed on various kinds of food) and prolific breeding.
  • Resistance to available insecticides: Whiteflies have also been difficult to control by using available synthetic insecticides.


  • Monitoring of Whitefly Species: The administration should ensure continuous monitoring of the whitefly species, their host plants, and geographical expansion.
  • Phytosanitary Measures: States should ensure stricter phytosanitary measures at relevant places to reduce the chances of incoming exotic species.
  • Awareness among citizens: The state should work towards increasing awareness among the public about the threat posed by invasive species. This will help reduce the chances of the public indulging in illegal or unintentional import of invasive species.
  • Biological Control Methods: As the whiteflies are getting difficult to control by using synthetic insecticides. Therefore, naturally occurring insect predators, parasitoids and entomopathogenic fungi (fungi that can kill insects) could be used as novel biological control of the invasive whiteflies.

Source: The Hindu

“BRICS Astronomy Working Group” Proposes Networking of Existing Telescopes

What is the News?

India virtually hosted the 7th meeting of the BRICS Astronomy Working Group (BAWG) under the Science, Technology, and Innovation track of the BRICS 2021.

Note: India has assumed the BRICS Presidency from January 2021.

About BRICS Astronomy Working Group(BAWG):

  • Astronomy was established as one of five thematic science areas within BRICS at a ministerial meeting held in South Africa in 2014.
  • Formed in: The BRICS Astronomy Working Group(BAWG) established in 2015.
  • Purpose: The group provides a platform for the BRICS member countries to collaborate in the field of astronomy.

About 7th BRICS Astronomy Working Group(BAWG) Meeting:

  • The Department of Science and Technology(DST), Government of India, and Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune coordinated the meeting from the Indian side.
  • During the meeting, the countries recommended the networking of existing telescopes in BRICS countries and creating regional data networks.
  • Further, the members recommended that each country should present the scientific results of the work being carried out in their country.
  • Moreover, the countries indicated research in areas in the future such as building networks of intelligent telescopes, a study of transient astronomical phenomena in the universe, Big data, Artificial Intelligence among others.

About BRICS:

  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
  • BRICS does not exist in the form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • Chairmanship: The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • Recent Summits: The 2020 BRICS summit was the twelfth annual BRICS summit.It was hosted by Russia. The theme was “Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth”.
  • BRICS 2021: The chair of BRICS 2021 is in India. It will be the third time that India will be hosting the BRICS Summit after 2012 and 2016.
    • The theme of the Summit is, ‘BRICS @ 15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation, and Consensus.’

Source: The Hindu

“Dipcovan Kit” -DRDO develops Antibody Detection Kit —

What is the News?

Defense Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has developed a Covid-19 antibody detection kit named Dipcovan.

About Dipcovan Kit:

  • Dipcovan kit is a Covid-19 antibody detection kit. Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences lab of DRDO developed it in association with Delhi’s Vanguard Diagnostics Pvt Ltd.
  • Purpose: Its primary purpose is to detect antibodies. It will also be used in Covid-19 epidemiology studies such as serosurveys.
    • Antibodies are protective proteins produced by the immune system to attack antigens. The antigen is a toxin or other foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body.
  • How does it work? DIPCOVAN is a DIPAS-VDx Covid-19 IgG antibody microwell ELISA. The kit can detect both spikes and nucleocapsid (S&N) proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with a high sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 99%.
  • The detection kit has been approved by Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR).
  • Significance: The kit offers a significantly faster turn-around time. It requires just 75 minutes to conduct the test without any cross-reactivity with other diseases. It also has a shelf life of 18 months.

About ELISA:

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay(ELISA) is a test that detects and measures antibodies in blood.
  • The test can be used to determine antibodies related to certain infectious conditions.
  • Some examples include HIV which causes AIDS, Rotavirus, Zika virus, Lyme disease among others.

Source: Indian Express

UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme

What is the News?

The United Kingdom(UK) has announced plans for a fully digital border with the launch of Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme.

About Electronic Travel Authorisation(ETA) Scheme:

  • The scheme is similar to the U.S.-style electronic travel authorization. It will pre-check the travellers coming to the U.K.
  • Under this, visitors without a visa or immigration status have to apply for an electronic permit before coming to the UK.
  • Among those who would need the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would be people arriving for short holidays or changing flights in the UK.
  • However, people who wish to stay in the country for a long period of time – for example over six months – would need to obtain a visa rather than an ETA.

Significance of this new scheme:

  • The system would allow automated and early security checks. It will stop foreign criminals from arriving in the country, with applicants only allowed to travel once they have been cleared.
  • The scheme will also make it easier for the officials to count the numbers coming into the country.

Source: The Hindu

How UNESCO Grants World Heritage Site tag?

What is the News?

The Maharashtra government has submitted a list of 14 fort sites to be included in the Tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are from the era of 17th century Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. UNESCO has accepted the nomination in Tentative Lists of its World Heritage Site.

What is a Tentative list?

  • Tentative list is an inventory of properties a country believes deserves to be a World Heritage Site.
  • UNESCO includes the properties in the Tentative List. It is the first step before the identification of a site as a World Heritage Site. After that, a country has to prepare a nomination document that will be considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for a World Heritage Site.
  • A site identified as a World Heritage Site becomes a location of an “outstanding universal value”. This signifies the exceptional cultural and/or natural significance of the site which is of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.

About 14 Forts in Maharashtra’s Proposal:

  • Raigad Fort: It was originally called Rairi. It is built on a large wedge of a hill in the Sahyadris separated from the main range by a ravine. The fort was the capital of the Maratha Empire.
  • Rajgad Fort: It was the capital of the Maratha Empire under Chhatrapati Shivaji for almost 26 years before the capital moved to the Raigad Fort.
  • Shivneri Fort: It was Shivaji’s birthplace. It consists of 7 gates. Similarly, it is an example of Bahamani/ Nizamshahi architecture providing a backdrop to the narrative of guerrilla warfare.
  • Torna Fort: It was captured by Shivaji in 1646 when he was 16. This fort marked the beginning of the Maratha empire.
  • Lohagad: It is one of the most picturesque valleys and is believed to have been built in the 14th century. It is an example of Maratha hill fort architecture until the Peshwa period.
  • Salher Fort: It is one of the highest forts in the Sahyadris located in Dolari range of Nashik.The fort witnessed a key battle in 1672 between Marathas and Mughals.
  • Mulher Fort: It is one of three forts situated on a hill flanked by Mora to the east and Hatgad to the west. The surrender of Mulher ended the third Maratha War.
  • Rangana Fort: It is the site that Aurangzeb tried to conquer along with Bhudargad and Samangad in his Deccan campaign. But he did not succeed.
  • Ankai Tankai Forts: Ankai and Tankai are separate forts on adjacent hills with a common fortification wall.
  • Kasa Fort: It is popularly known as Padmadurg. It is built on a rocky island off the coast of Murud and provides a base for naval military operations.
  • Sindhudurg Fort: It was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1668, This sea fort is considered a masterpiece in military defense.
  • Alibag Fort: It is popularly known as Kulaba Fort. It was chosen as one of the forts to be modelled as a naval base by Chhatrapati Shivaji.
  • Suvarnadurg: It was built on an island. It was repaired and strengthened by Shivaji Maharaj in 1660.
  • Khanderi Fort: Khanderi was officially named Kanhoji Angre Island in 1998. It was built in 1679 and was the site of many battles between Shivaji Maharaj’s forces and the navy of the Siddhis.

Source: Indian Express

International Day for Biological Diversity

What is the News?

International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is observed every year on 22nd May.

About International Day for Biological Diversity(IDB):
  • The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity(IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
    • Earlier, December 29 was designated as the International Day for Biological Diversity. But in 2000, the UN General Assembly chose May 22 to mark the day.
  • The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD) announces the theme each year.
  • Theme for 2021:
    • The theme is “We’re part of the solution”. It is a continuation of the 2020 theme- Our solutions are in nature.
    • The theme serves as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges.
About Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD):
  • The Convention was signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It is a legally binding treaty dedicated to promoting sustainable development.
  • Parties: There are 196 parties to the convention. Nearly all countries have ratified it (notably, the US has signed but not ratified).
  • Objectives:
    • conservation of biological diversity,
    • sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
    • fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
  • Secretariat: The CBD Secretariat is based in Montreal, Canada, and it operates under the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • COP: The Parties (Countries) under the Convention of Biodiversity (CBD) meet at regular intervals and these meetings are called Conference of Parties (COP).
Convention Protocols and other Initiatives:
  • Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: It was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003.It aims to ensure the safe handling, transport, and use of living modified organisms(LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity.
  • Nagoya Protocol: It was adopted in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan at COP10. It entered into force in 2014. It aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.
  • Aichi Biodiversity Targets: These were included in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the 2011-2020 period adopted by the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity. There are 20 Aichi Targets classified under 5 Strategic Goals.

Source: Down To Earth

SC Ruling on Personal Guarantor’s Liability for Corporate Debt

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has upheld the government’s move to allow lenders to initiate insolvency proceedings against personal guarantors.

Who is a personal guarantor?

  • To showcase their intent to repay the bank loan on time, the promoters of some big business houses submit a personal guarantee to the lenders. It secures them loans easily and timely.
  • It is sort of like an assurance from the owner or the owners of the company that the money borrowed by their company for various purposes shall be repaid on time as per the agreed schedule.
  • Furthermore, it is different from the collateral. Indian corporate laws say that individuals such as promoters are different from businesses and the two are very separate entities. Thus, a promoter can give a guarantee for the company it is running

What is the issue?

  • In 2019, the Government issued a notification. It allowed creditors, usually financial institutions and banks, to make a move against personal guarantors under the Indian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Code(IBC).
  • The intention was to hold the guarantor promoters liable for the defaulting companies against loans.
  • However, the notification was challenged by the promoters, claiming that it was always a management board that ran the company. Therefore, the promoters alone should not be held liable for the default on debt repayment.

What has the Supreme Court said?

  • The Supreme Court has upheld the notification issued by the Government.
  • The court said that there is a close connection between personal guarantors and their corporate debtors. Hence, it was this connection that made the government recognise personal guarantors as a separate category under the IBC.

Significance of this judgment:

  • This judgment assumes significance as it will now allow lenders to go after personal guarantors even while bankruptcy proceedings against the ailing companies are pending. This will speed up the process for the recovery of dues.

Source: The Hindu


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