Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 6 May, 2021

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“Olive Ridley turtles” likely to skip mass nesting on Rushikulya river mouth this year

What is the News?

The annual mass nesting of millions of Olive Ridley sea turtles near the Rushikulya river mouth in Odisha is likely to be missed this year.

Mass nesting of Olive Ridley Turtles:

  • The Rushikulya river mouth is considered the second-biggest nesting site for Olive Ridley Turtles in India.
  • The Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha is considered the world’s largest nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles. The mass nesting in the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary occurred in March 2021.
  • However, the mass nesting near the Rushikulya river mouth is likely to be missed in 2021. As the time for nesting is almost over.
  • But this won’t be the first time they won’t come for mass nesting. In 2002, 2007, 2016 and 2019, the turtles had not shown up at Rushikulya.

About Olive Ridley Turtles:

  • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Characteristics:

  • Features: Males and female Olive Ridley Turtles grow to the same size. However, the females have a slightly more rounded carapace(shell) as compared to the male.
  • Diet: These turtles are carnivores. They feed mainly on jellyfish, shrimp, snails, crabs, molluscs and a variety of fish and their eggs.
  • Migration: They spend their entire lives in the ocean. Further, they migrate thousands of kilometres between feeding and mating grounds in a year.
  • Arribada (Mass Nesting): They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada. Under this, thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • Nesting Sites: The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley. This is followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.

Conservation status:

  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I

Threats: The major threats to Olive Ridley turtles are:

  • Poor fishing practices,
  • Development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres,
  • Poaching for their meat, shell and leather.

Initiatives:

  • Indian Coast Guard undertakes “Operation Olivia” every year. It is an Olive Ridley Turtle protection program.
  • To reduce the accidental killing in India, the Odisha government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices(TEDs). It is a net specially designed with an exit cover that allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.

Source: Down To Earth


Long-term “nitrogen dioxide”(NO2) exposure affects lungs: Study

What is the News?

According to a study, Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide(NO2) pollution can affect lung function. Also, NO2 can increase the risk of pulmonary disease.

Key Findings:

  • The annual maximum NO2 exposure recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 21.3 parts per billion.
  • The study found that air pollution exposures in some parts of the survey area exceeded this figure.
  • Further, healthy individuals (mostly from low-income, urban communities) suffered a decline in lung function due to air pollution.

About the Study:

  • The study was conducted over a period of five years in Mysore, Karnataka. It is conducted from 2012-2014 to 2017-2018
  • The researchers conducted in-home field spirometry (lung function test). They conducted this test before and after bronchodilation (expansion of the bronchial air passages).
  • Most of the participants in the study used Liquified Petroleum Gas(LPG) cylinders provided under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

About Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2):

  • Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2) belongs to one of the highly reactive gases known as oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen oxides (NOx). Other nitrogen oxides include nitrous acid and nitric acid.
  • Formation: NO2 is formed when fossil fuels like coal, oil, gas and diesel are burned at high temperatures. It is also formed during the burning of wood and natural gases.

Effects of NO2

 Health effects

  • Breathing air with a high concentration of NO2 can irritate airways in the human respiratory system. Such exposures can aggravate respiratory diseases particularly asthma.
  • NO2 along with other NOx reacts with other chemicals in the air to form both particulate matter and ozone. Both of these are also harmful to the respiratory system.

Environmental effects:

  • NO2 and other NOx interact with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere and form acid rain. Acid rain harms sensitive ecosystems such as lakes and forests.
  • The nitrate particles make the air hazy and create visibility challenges.
  • NOx in the atmosphere contributes to nutrient pollution in coastal waters.

Source: Down To Earth


NASA’s “Crew-2 Mission” Launched

What is the News?

US launched 4 astronauts to the International Space Station(ISS) as part of a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program. The mission is called Crew-2 Mission.

Demo-2 Mission:

  • In May 2020, NASA and SpaceX launched the Demo-2 test mission.
  • The mission carried two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Aim: The aim of this mission was to test flight to see if SpaceX capsules could be used on a regular basis to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.

Crew-1 Mission:

  • After the success of Demo-2, Crew-1 was launched in November 2020. It was the first of six crewed missions between NASA and SpaceX, marking the beginning of a new era in the US for space travel.
  • Purpose: The crew together with expedition 64 members conducted microgravity studies at the ISS. It included materials to investigate food physiology meant to study the effects of dietary improvements on immune function and the gut microbiome and how those improvements can help crews adapt to spaceflight.

Crew-2 Mission:

  • Crew-2 Mission is the second crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with international partners.
  • The mission carried four astronauts to ISS. Among them, two are from NASA and two are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency(ESA).
  • The central focus of the mission will be to continue research on a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies.

Tissue Chips:

  • Tissue Chips are small models of human organs that contain multiple cell types that behave similarly to the human body organs.
  • According to NASA, these chips can potentially speed up the process of identifying safe and effective drugs and vaccines.
  • Scientists can use these tissue chips in space to study diseases that affect specific human organs, which would take months or years to develop on Earth.

Commercial Crew Program(CCP):

  • The Commercial Crew Program(CCP) is a partnership between NASA and private industry. Its aim is to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
  • Objective: The program aims to help lower the cost of spaceflight and potentially create a new commercial market for humans in space.
  • Business Partners: Two companies are partnering with NASA on the Commercial Crew Program: Boeing and SpaceX.
  • How is this program different? Unlike previous human spaceflight programs, NASA is a customer buying flights from commercial providers. The agency does not own or operate the spacecraft.
  • Significance: By encouraging private companies to provide crew transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA can focus on building spacecraft and rockets meant for deep space exploration missions.

Source: Indian Express


“Mayflower 400” – World’s First Artificial Intelligence Ship

What is the News?

A team of researchers from the marine research organization ProMare in collaboration with IBM built the world’s first Artificial Intelligence(AI) ship named ‘Mayflower 400’.

 About MayFlower-400:

  • Mayflower 400 is an unmanned and completely autonomous ship. It is powered by Artificial Intelligence and the Sun’s energy via solar panels.
  • Purpose: Main aim of this ship is to study marine pollution and analyze plastics in the water. It will also track the aquatic animals. The ship is set to sail on a transatlantic voyage.
  • Key Features of the Ship:
    • The ship has been taught how to avoid collisions. Thus, the ship can correct its course itself.
    • The ship has been trained with a hundred hours of audio data. The training will help the ship to detect the presence of marine animals. Thereby, it will provide information about the population distribution of these animals in the ocean.
    • Furthermore, the ship is capable of self-activating a hydrophone that can listen to whales.
    • Also, the ship is equipped with smart captain. This AI tech along with radars and cameras will help the ship to learn during its course.
  • Contributions: Various nations such as India, the United States, and Switzerland have contributed a variety of technology to the project.
  • Significance: 80% of the underwater world remains unexplored. Hence, the ship will help in exploring this unexplored area.

Source: WION


“State of Working India 2021” – One Year of Covid-19 Report

What is the News?

Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment has released the annual State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19 Report.

Key Findings of State of Working India 2021 report:

  • Impact of Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially increased informality in employment. This leads to a decline in earnings for the majority of workers and an increase in poverty in the country.
  • Lost of Jobs: Around 100 million jobs were lost nationwide during the April-May 2020 lockdown. Most of these workers had found employment by June 2020. However, about 15 million remained out of work.
  • Impact on GDP: Due to employment and income losses, the labour share of GDP fell down by over 5% points. For example, the labour share fell down from 32.5% in the second quarter of 2019-20 to 27% in the second quarter of 2020-21.
  • Informal Sector: Post Lockdown, nearly half of salaried workers moved into informal work. They became either self-employed (30%), casual wage (10%) or informal salaried(9%).
  • Most Impacted States: Job losses were higher for states with a higher Covid-19 caseload. Hence, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, contributed to a large extent to job losses.
  • Gender Wise: During lockdown and afterwards, 61% of working men remained employed and 7% lost employment and did not return to work. For women, only 19% remained employed and 47% suffered a permanent job loss.
  • Poverty Rate: 230 million people fell below the national minimum wage threshold of ₹375 per day during the pandemic. Furthermore, the poverty rate has increased by 15% in rural and nearly 20% in urban areas.

About State of Working India 2021 Report:

  • Purpose: The report documented the impact of one year of Covid-19 on jobs, incomes, inequality, and poverty. The report also examines the effectiveness of policy measures undertaken by the government on relief and support programmes.
  • Based on: The report is based on data sourced from
    • Consumer Pyramids Household Survey of the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy(CMIE)
    • Azim Premji University Covid-19 Livelihoods Phone Survey (CLIPS),
    • The India Working Survey(IWS) and
    • Other surveys by various civil society organisations.

Recommendations: The report recommends several measures such as:

  • Extension of free rations under the public distribution system till the end of 2021. Currently, the government stipulated till June 2021.
  • Monthly cash transfers of Rs 5,000 for three months to vulnerable households.
  • The government should provide Work Entitlement under the rural job guarantee scheme MGNREGA. Further, the government should expand work from present100 days to 150 days per household per year.
  • A Pilot urban employment programme in the worst-hit districts.

Source: The Hindu


Supreme Court Upheld Validity of 102nd Constitution Amendment Act

What is the News?

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the constitutional validity of the Constitution 102nd Amendment Act, 2018.

About 102nd Amendment Act, 2018:

  • The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018 gave constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.
  • The Amendment also gives the President powers to notify backward classes.
  • However, several states have raised questions on the interpretation of this Amendment and argued that it curtails their powers.

Supreme Court Judgement:

  • The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Amendment Act, 2018. However, the judges differed on- whether it affected the power of States to identify socially and educationally backward classes(SEBC).
  • By 3:2 majority, the court held that the 102nd Constitution Amendment has abrogated the power of states to identify Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs).
  • Further, the Court has said that the Central List will now be the “only list” for the SEBC. This means that the Centre alone is empowered to identify SEBC and include them in the Central List under Article 342A(1) for claiming reservation benefits.
  • The States could only make suggestions to the President or the statutory commissions for inclusion, exclusion, or modification of castes and communities to be included in the SEBC List.
  • Moreover, once published under Article 342A (1), the list can only be amended through a law enacted by Parliament.

Identification of SEBC:

  • In the task of identification of SEBCs, the President shall be guided by the National Commission for Backward Classes(NCBC) set up under Article 338B.
  • If the commission prepares a report concerning matters of identification, such a report has to be shared with the State government. However, the final decision lies with the President (i.e. the Central Government under Article 342A(1).
  • Further, the states will continue to enjoy the power to make reservations in favor of particular communities or castes, within the ambit of Articles 15 and 16. They can decide on the quantum of reservations, the nature of benefits, and the kind of reservations – except with respect to the identification of SEBCs.

How does this judgement impact interventions by states to provide reservations for other communities?

  • The National Backward Classes Commission(NCBC) set up under Article 338B must publish a fresh list of SEBCs both for states and the central list.
  • Till the publication of such a list, the existing lists operating in all states and union territories continue to operate. This direction was issued under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.

Source: The Hindu


 

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