Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 31 May, 2021

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Declining “forest bird species” in Western Himalayan region

What is the News?

According to research published in Global Ecology and Conservation, there has been a decline in forest bird species in the Western Himalayas Region.

Note: The State of Uttarakhand has extremely cold winters and pleasant summers. It is home to the Western Himalayan temperate forests. These forests harbour a large number of endemic bird species.

About the Research:

  • The researchers studied an area of about 1,285 square kilometres between the altitudes of 1,700 and 2,400 metres in the Western Himalayas Region.
  • Land Types: They studied six land-use types within moist temperate forest which includes:
    • Natural (protected) oak forest,
    • Degraded (lightly used) oak forest,
    • Looped (heavily used) oak forest,
    • Pine forest
    • Agricultural cultivation area and
    • Sites with buildings.

Key Findings:

  • Firstly, there was a moderate to drastic forest bird species loss in all modified land-use types in comparison to natural oak forest.
  • Secondly, a strong decline was noticed in some habitats guilds especially in the areas of visible land-use change.
    • Habitats guilds are groups of bird species that have common habitat preferences.
  • Thirdly, the species that dropped out of the modified land areas were recognised as oak forest specialists. Such as Rufous-bellied woodpecker, greater yellow nape, rufous sibia, white-throated laughing thrush and black-faced warbler.
    • Forests Specialists include species that search for food and breed only in dense protected oak forests at this altitude.
    • On the other hand, Forest Generalists include species that can adapt to modified habitats such as orchards and degraded forests.
  • Lastly, the reasons for the loss of forest bird species in the region were found to be:
    • Tourism and other anthropogenic activities
    • Rapid Invasion by non-native species. For example, Pigeon and Black Kites are not found in these High Altitudes. But with increasing concrete urban ghettos, these birds have become common in this region.

Study on Woodpeckers:

  • The researchers also studied the woodpeckers in the Western Himalayas region. This is to understand how they can be used as indicators of bird diversity and also to understand habitat degradation:
  • They found that the higher the number of woodpeckers at a site, the higher was the richness of all other birds.
    • Reason: The cavities that woodpeckers make on trees are used by a number of other birds to nest in. This may be the primary reason how woodpeckers enhance the diversity in a region.
  • The two species (Rufous-bellied woodpecker and greater yellow nape) have shown great potential as indicators of forest quality. They are most likely to be found in dense canopied forests with larger and taller trees on which they preferred to forage.

Source: The Hindu

NSA commissions offshore Patrol Vessel “ICGS Sajag”

What is the News?

The National Security Advisor(NSA) has commissioned the Offshore Patrol Vessel(OPV) ICGS Sajag. (ICGS- Indian Coast Guard ship)

About ICGS Sajag:

  • Goa Shipyard Limited has indigenously designed and built the Indian Coast Guard Ship Vessel “Sajag”.
  • Purpose: The ship is fitted with advanced technology equipment, weapons and sensors. It is also capable of carrying a twin-engine helicopter and four high-speed boats.
  • Significance: The ICGS Sajag is the third in a series of five offshore patrol vessels under Samarth Class.

About Offshore Patrol Vehicles(OPVs):

  • Offshore Patrol Vehicles(OPVs) are long-range surface ships. They are capable of operation in maritime zones of India including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities.

About Indian Coast Guard(ICG):

  • The Indian Coast Guard was formally established through an Act of Parliament in 1978. It operates under the Ministry of Defence.
  • Purpose: It is the maritime law enforcement and search and rescue agency of India. They have jurisdiction over territorial waters including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone.
  • Origin: The concept of forming the Coast Guard was conceived after the 1971 war when it was assessed that maritime borders are equally vital as land borders.
  • Committee: The blueprint for the formation of the Indian Coast Guard was conceived by the Rustamji Committee.
  • Significance: Indian Coast Guard has emerged as the fourth largest in the world with almost 160 ships and 62 aircraft.

Source: The Hindu

“Mid-Day-Meal Scheme” – Govt decides to provide monetary assistance through DBT

What is the News?

The Ministry of Education has approved the proposal to provide monetary assistance to students enrolled in Mid-Day-Meal Scheme. The cooking cost component amount will be provided through Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) to all eligible children.

About Mid Day Meal Scheme:

  • Mid Day Meal Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme launched in 1995 by the Ministry of Education.
  • Objective:
    • To address the issues of hunger and education in schools by serving hot cooked meals;
    • To improve the nutritional status of children
    • To improve enrollment, attendance and retention rates in schools and other education centres.
  • Origin of the Scheme:
    • The roots of the scheme can be traced back to the pre-independence era. The erstwhile British administration has introduced the midday meal programme in 1925 in Madras Corporation.
    • A midday meal programme was also introduced in the Union Territory of Puducherry by the French administration in 1930.
  • Features of the Scheme:
    • Under the Scheme, cooked meals are provided to every child within the age group of six to fourteen years and studying in classes I to VIII.
    • Cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I-V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class).
    • If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains or any other reason. Then the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
  • Coverage: All children in government and aided schools and madrasas supported under Samagra Shiksha.

Source: PIB

“YUVA Scheme”- For Mentoring Young Authors Launched

What is the News?

The Ministry of Education has launched YUVA Scheme. It is the Prime Minister’s Scheme For Mentoring Young Authors.

 About YUVA-  Prime Minister’s Scheme For Mentoring Young Authors:

  • The YUVA (Young, Upcoming and Versatile Authors) scheme was launched by the Department of Higher Education under the Ministry of Education.
  • Purpose: It is an Author Mentorship scheme that aims to mentor authors under the age of 30. It will train them to promote reading, writing, and book culture in the country. This will allow India to project its writings globally.
  • This scheme is in line with PM’s vision to encourage young writers to write about India’s freedom struggle.
  • Implementation: National Book Trust of India under the Ministry of Education as the Implementing Agency will ensure execution of the Scheme.
  • Part of: The scheme is a part of the India@75 Project (Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav). The project aims to bring out the perspectives of the young generation of writers on themes like unsung heroes, freedom fighters, and others in an innovative and creative manner.

Key Features of the YUVA Scheme:

  • Under the Scheme, a total of 75 authors will be selected through the All India Contest.
  • The themes of the contest are unsung heroes, freedom fighters, National Movement among others.
  • The young authors will be trained by eminent authors/mentors. The books by these authors will be published by National Book Trust, India.
  • The books will also be translated into other Indian languages. It will ensure the exchange of culture and literature thereby promoting ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’.
  • Moreover, a consolidated scholarship of Rs.50,000 per month for a period of six months per author will be paid under the Mentorship Scheme.

About National Book Trust:

  • National Book Trust(NBT) is an Indian publishing house. It was founded in 1957 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education of the Government of India.
  • Mandate: The activities of the Trust include publishing, promotion of books and reading, promotion of Indian books abroad, assistance to authors and publishers, and promotion of children’s literature.

Source: PIB

PM-CARES for Children scheme

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has announced a special PM-CARES for Children scheme. The scheme includes a comprehensive financial aid package for children orphaned during the pandemic.

About PM-CARES for Children Scheme:

The PM-CARES for Children Scheme will support children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to Covid-19.

Features of the PM-CARES for Children Scheme:

Fixed Deposit in the name of the child:

  • PM CARES will create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when s/he reaches 18 years of age.
  • This corpus will be used to give monthly financial support from 18 years of age for the next five years.
  • On reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump sum for personal and professional use.

School Education: For children under 10 years

  • The child will be given admission to the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.
  • If the child is admitted to a private school, the fees as per the Right to Education(RTE) norms will be given from the PM CARES.

School Education: for children between 11-18 years:

  • The child will be given admission to any Central Government residential school such as Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc.
  • In case the child is to be continued under the care of Guardian. Then s/he will be given admission to the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.
  • If the child is admitted to a private school, the fees as per the Right to Education(RTE) norms will be given from the PM CARES.

Support for Higher Education:

  • The child will be assisted in obtaining an education loan for Higher Education in India as per the existing Education Loan norms. The interest on this loan will be paid by the PM CARES.
  • As an alternative, scholarship equivalent to the course fees for undergraduate courses as per Government norms will be provided to such children under Central or State Government Schemes.

Health Insurance

  • All children will be enrolled as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs.
  • The premium amount for these children till the age of 18 years will be paid by PM CARES.

Source: The Hindu

Rwanda Genocide 1994 – French President Seeks forgiveness

What is the News? 

French President has asked for forgiveness for his country’s role in the Rwanda Genocide, 1994.

About Rwanda Genocide, 1994:

  • The “Rwandan Genocide” refers to the 1994 mass slaughter in Rwanda of the ethnic Tutsi by members of the Hutu majority government.
  • The killings began in early 1994 and continued for approximately 100 days. As per a few estimations, more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed during that period.

Sequence of Events:

  • 1918 — After World War 1, Rwanda came under the League of Nations to be governed by Belgium. During the rule, Belgians favored the minority Tutsi (14%) over the Hutus (85%). This led to a widening communal rift between Tutsis and Hutus.
  • 1959 — Hutus rebelled against the Belgian colonial power and the Tutsi elite. This led to the Tutsis community fleeing Rwanda.
  • 1962 — Belgium had withdrawn from Rwanda. However, motivated violence continued against the Tutsi even after the independence.

Immediate Cause of Genocide:

  • In 1994, Rwanda’s president who belonged to the Hutu majority was killed. He was returning after signing a peace agreement (Arusha Accords) with the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front(RPF).
  • The Hutu-led government in Rwanda blamed the RPF for the attack on the president.
  • Thereafter, the military and Hutu militias systematically targeted the Tutsi ethnic group. They used the nation’s public broadcaster, Rwanda Radio for spreading propaganda.

How did the conflict end?

  • The conflict ended when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front seized control of Rwanda in July 1994 and its leader Paul Kagame assumed power.
  • Paul Kagame led government in Rwanda since then has been able to bring stability and development to the mineral-rich nation.

What role did France play during the Rwanda Genocide 1994?

  • During the genocide, France was accused of acting as a staunch ally of the Hutu-led government that ordered the killings.
  • In 1994, France deployed a UN-backed military force in Rwanda called Operation Turquoise– which was able to save some people. However, it was accused of sheltering some of the genocide’s perpetrators.

Source: Indian Express

“Climate Breakthroughs Summit” and “Race To Zero Campaign”

What is the News?

The Climate Breakthroughs Summit is being held virtually.

About Climate Breakthroughs Summit:

  • Climate Breakthroughs Summit is a collaboration between World Economic Forum, Mission Possible Partnership, United Nations Climate Champions and the United Kingdom Climate Change Conference (COP26) Presidency.
  • Aim: It aims to demonstrate progress in critical sectors of the global economy. This includes sectors such as steel, shipping, green hydrogen and nature. It also aims to discuss the breakthroughs needed to achieve a net-zero world in time.

Key highlights of the summit:

  • During the summit, the United Nations made a call for coordinated action to secure global net-zero emissions. UN also demands to fulfil the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels by 2050.
  • Moreover, Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line and vessel operator, joined the Race to Zero campaign during the summit.

About Race To Zero Campaign:

  • Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery. As the recovery will prevent future threats, creates decent jobs and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.
  • Objective: The campaign is committed to halving its emissions by 2030. This is in line with achieving the long-term goal of full decarbonisation under the Paris Agreement, 2015.
  • Coalition Members: The campaign mobilises support of 708 cities, 24 regions, 2,360 businesses, 163 investors, and 624 higher education institutions to move towards zero-carbon recovery for a sustainable future.


  • According to a World Meteorological Organization report, there is a 40% chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius in at least one of the next five years. Apart from that, these odds will increase with time.
  • According to a Nature report, natural climate solutions have the potential to provide a third of the climate mitigation to reach a 1.5- or 2-degree pathway by 2030.

Source: Down To Earth

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