Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 29 May, 2021

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Odisha’s “blackbucks” double in 6 years, reveals census

What is the News?

According to a census carried out by the Odisha State Forest Department, Odisha’s blackbuck population has doubled in the last six years.

Blackbucks in Odisha:

  • The Blackbuck is known in Odisha as Krushnasara Mruga.
  • Blackbucks are found only in the Ganjam district in the southern part of Odisha. It used to be sighted in the Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary till 2012-13. But now has vanished from the area.
  • According to Census 2021, Blackbuck is numbered around 7,358 in Odisha in 2021. This means that the blackbuck population in Odisha has doubled in the last six years(3,806 in 2015).
  • Reasons for the increase in population:
    • Improvement of habitats,
    • The protection given by the local people and forest staff.

About Blackbucks:


Source: Deccan Herald

  • The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is also known as the Indian antelope. It is an antelope native to India and Nepal.
  • Habitat: It inhabits grassy plains and lightly forested areas with perennial water sources.
  • Features:
    • Males weigh heavier than Female Blackbucks. Males have long, ringed horns. Females may also develop horns.
    • The blackbuck is a diurnal antelope (active mainly during the day).
    • Blackbuck is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah.
    • The blackbuck is a herbivore and grazes on low grasses as well.
  • State Animal: Blackbuck has been declared as the State Animal of Punjab, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Protection Status:
    • IUCN Status: Least Concern
    • Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule I
    • CITES: Appendix III
  • Religious Significance:
    • The blackbuck is routinely depicted in miniature paintings of the Mughal era (16th to 19th centuries) depicting royal hunts often using cheetahs.
    • Blackbuck is mentioned in Sanskrit texts such as Krishna Mrig. According to Hindu mythology, the blackbuck draws the chariot of Lord Krishna.
    • Villagers in India and Nepal generally do not harm the blackbuck. Tribes such as the Bishnois revere and care for most animals including the blackbuck.
  • Protected Areas:
    • Gujarat: Velavadar Wildlife Sanctuary, Gir Forest National Park
    • Bihar: Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Maharashtra: Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary
    • Madhya Pradesh: Kanha National Park
    • Among others.

Source: Down To Earth

Supreme Court Guidelines on “Section 304-B” of IPC

What is the News?

The Supreme Court in its recent judgement has widened the scope of Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code(IPC). This section punishes persons accused of dowry deaths.

Data on Dowry Deaths in India:

  • Dowry deaths accounted for 40% to 50% of homicides in the country for almost a decade from 1999 to 2018.
  • In 2019 alone, 7,115 cases of dowry death were registered under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code.

About Section 304-B:

  • Section 304-B was inserted into the Indian Penal Code(IPC) in November 1986.
  • According to this section, to make out a case of dowry death:
    • A woman should have died of burns or other bodily injuries or “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within seven years of her marriage.
    • A woman should have suffered cruelty or harassment from her husband or in-laws “soon before her death” in connection with the demand for dowry.
  • Punishment: The section punishes convicts with a minimum of seven years imprisonment extendable up to a life term.

Supreme Court Guidelines on Section 304-B:

  • Avoid Absurd Interpretation:
    • Over the years, the courts had interpreted the phrase ‘soon before’ in Section 304-B as ‘immediately before‘. This interpretation makes it necessary for a woman to have been harassed moments before she died.
    • On the other hand, the Supreme Court recently said that the prosecution needs to show only a “proximate and live link” between the harassment and her death to make out a case of dowry death.
  • Need broader Reading of the Provision:
    • The lower courts should not take a limited approach in categorising death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental. The phrase “otherwise than under normal circumstances” in Section 304-B calls for a liberal interpretation of the provision, not the stricter one.
    • Hence, Section 304-B not imply the narrow categorisation of death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental. Instead, it also includes non-categorised deaths ‘other than under normal circumstances.
  • Proper examination of Accused:
    • The Supreme Court also raised concern about the casual way in which trial courts examine accused persons in dowry death cases under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
    • The court said that the examination of the accused about the incriminatory material against him should be done fairly.
    • The court must put incriminating circumstances before the accused and seek his response. The accused should also be given sufficient opportunity to give his side of the story.

Source: The Hindu

National AI Portal (INDIAai) celebrates its first anniversary

What is the News?

The ‘National AI Portal’ celebrated its first anniversary on May 28, 2021.

About National AI Portal:

  • The National AI Portal was launched in May 2020. It is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), National e-Governance Division(NeGD) and NASSCOM.
  • Purpose: The portal works as a one-stop digital platform for sharing of resources. Such as articles, startups, investment funds in AI, resources, companies and educational institutions related to AI in India.
  • The portal also shares documents, case studies, research reports etc. It also has a section about learning and new job roles related to AI.

Other Artificial Intelligence(AI) Related Government  Initiatives:

  • Responsible AI for Youth Programme:
    • Launched by: The programme has been launched by the National e-Governance Division, MeitY. It is in collaboration with Intel India with support from the Ministry of Education.
    • Purpose: The program is designed to reach out to students from the government schools pan India. It aims to empower them to become ‘AI ready’ and help reduce the AI skill gap in India.
    • Eligibility: The program is open to students from Government Schools, classes 8 – 12 across the country. It will be implemented in a phase-wise manner
  • Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) 2020
    • RAISE 2020 has been organised by the MeitY in association with the NITI Aayog.
    • Purpose: To bring together people to exchange ideas on the use of Artificial Intelligence for social empowerment. This includes inclusion and transformation in industries such as education, smart mobility, agriculture and healthcare among others.
    • The theme for this conference is “AI for Social Transformation, Inclusion and Empowerment”.

Source: PIB

WHO report on “Origin of Covid-19”: India seeks more studies on virus

What is the News?

India has welcomed the global study on the origin of Covid-19 convened by the World Health Organisation(WHO). However, India demanded initiating further studies in order to reach robust conclusions.

WHO report on Origin of Covid-19: The report had listed “four pathways” or possible options that led to the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • A direct zoonotic transmission;
  • Introduction of the virus through another intermediate host or animal;
  • Introduction through the cold chain or food chain;
  • Laboratory incident.

What did the Global Study on the Origin of Covid-19 found?

  • The study was conducted by the World Health Organisation(WHO) in association with China.
  • The study has said that direct zoonotic transmission or the introduction of the virus through another intermediate host or animal are the most likely theories of the origin of Covid-19.
  • Moreover, the introduction of the Covid-19 through the cold chain or food chain is also possible.
  • However, the lab leak theory of the virus was “extremely unlikely”. But there was a need for further research.

India’s stand on WHO’s study:

  • India has called for a comprehensive and expert-led mechanism to investigate the origin of Covid-19 in cooperation with all stakeholders.
  • Further, India also demanded that the mechanism should be supported by an additional WHO mission. This mission should have the power to visit the Chinese sites for further studies.

China’s stand on WHO’s study:

  • China has denied the theory that there was a leak from the Wuhan lab (research on zoonotic transmissions of coronaviruses was taking place).

Source: The Hindu

“Buddha Miniature Sculpture” found in Karnataka

What is the News?

A miniature sculpture of the Buddha has been found in Badagabettu village in Udupi district of Karnataka.

About Buddha Miniature Sculpture:

Miniature Buddha

Source: The Hindu

  • The sculpture is made out of soft sandstone. It is around nine centimetres high, five centimetres wide and two centimetres thick.
  • Style: The sculpture is in the Gupta style. It looks like a replica of the Sarnath Buddha.
  • Features:
    • The Buddha is seated on a lotus pedestal in Dharma Chakra Pravartana Mudra.
    • Below the seat, six disciples are seated on either side of the Dharma Chakra.
    • The Lord wears clothes and earrings. A small Ushnisha(three-dimensional oval at the top of the head) is also shown on the top of the head. In the back of the head, a beautifully carved round lobe is seen.
    • On the top corners, two Yakshas and on either side of his back, two-winged horses have also been carved out.
Significance of this discovery:
  • Traditionally, ancient Tulu Nadu was said to be ruled by the Kadambas of Banavasi. The Guptas and the Kadambas of Banavasi had matrimonial relations.
  • Hence, the discovery of the Buddha sculpture is not an uncommon thing. But, it has thrown open a new chapter in the history of the Udupi district and in the study of Buddhism in South India.

Source: The Hindu

UAE’s “Golden Visa” system offers long-term residency

What is the News?

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt has received his golden visa from the UAE government.

What is a Golden Visa?

  • The Golden Visa system was introduced by the United Arab Emirates(UAE) Government in 2019.
  • Purpose: The Golden Visa essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to specific groups.
    • The visa enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor. Further, the foreigners can have 100% ownership of their business in the UAE.
  • Which are those specific groups? The Visa is offered to the following groups with specific eligible criteria:
    • Investors
    • Entrepreneurs
    • Individuals with outstanding talents like researchers, medical professionals and person within scientific and knowledge fields
    • Remarkable students.

Why this move by the UAE Government?

  • The move is targeted at wealthy individuals ready to offer the UAE significant investment. In exchange, they get an opportunity to reside within the country.
  • It also aims to attract talented professionals from various fields of expertise and further encourage innovation, creativity and applied research. This will add to the appeal of a career in the UAE for the world’s brightest minds.

Significance for India:

  • It would attract more Indian professionals and businessmen to the Gulf nation and strengthen the India-UAE Relations.
  • It will also facilitate the return of Indians to the UAE to resume work after the relaxation of Covid-19-related restrictions.

Source: Indian Express


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