Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 19, 2021

Read Previous Factly articles

Article wise list of factly articles

List of Today’s Factly Articles

  1. “Mandarin Duck” spotted in Assam’s Maguri Beel after 118 years
  2. “3rd Quad meeting” Focussed on rules-based world order
  3. Hyderabad recognised as a ‘Tree City of the World’
  4. Govt announces “Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge”
  5. United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF
  6. Pollution kills 54,000 people in Delhi in 2020: Greenpeace Southeast Asia Report
  7. PM suggested “Special Visa Scheme” for medical staff in South Asia
  8. “Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement(CECPA)” between India and Mauritius

Mandarin Duck” spotted in Assam’s Maguri Beel after 118 years

What is the News?

Mandarin ducks appeared after 118 years in the Maguri-Motapung beel in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Mandarin Duck:

  • It is provided with a tag of the most beautiful duck in the world. Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus first spotted and identified this bird in 1758.

Key Characteristics of Mandarin Duck:

  • Features: Male mandarins are colorful compared to females. Males have elaborate plumage (feathers) with orange plumes on their cheeks, orange ‘sails’ on their back, and pale orange sides. On the other hand, females are dull in comparison, with grey heads, brown backs, and white eyestripe.
  • Feed on: These birds feed on seeds, acorns, small fruit, insects, snails, and small fish.
  • Habitat: Its habitats include temperate forests near wetlands including rivers, streams, bogs, marshes, swamps, and freshwater lakes.
  • Distribution: It is native to East Asia but has established populations in Western Europe and America too. It breeds in Russia, Korea, Japan, and the northeastern parts of China.
  • India: The duck does not visit India regularly. It is because India is not on its usual migratory route. It was recorded in 1902 in the Dibru river in the Rongagora area in Tinsukia (Assam). More recently, it was sighted in Manipur’s Loktak Lake in 2013 and in Savoini Beel in Manas National Park in Assam in 2014.
  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern.

Maguri Motapung Beel

  • It is a wetland and lake located near to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam. It serves as a natural home to wildlife. Furthermore, it is also a source of livelihood for the local communities.
  • Important Bird Area: It was declared as an Important Bird Area by the Bombay Natural History Society.
  • Significance: The wetland is very important. It is home to at least 304 bird species, including a number of endemic ones like Black-breasted parrotbill and Marsh babbler.
  • Concerns: In 2020, a blowout and fire at an Oil India Limited-owned gas well affected this wetland adversely. The resulting oil spill killed a number of fish, snakes as well as an endangered Gangetic dolphin.

Source: The Hindu

3rd Quad meeting” Focussed on rules-based world order

What is the News?

The 3rd Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) meeting of the foreign ministers of India, Australia, Japan, and the USA held virtually. This is the third such meeting since 2019 when the Quad was upgraded to the ministerial level.

Focus of the meeting: The QUAD meeting focussed on issues such as countering disinformation, counter-terrorism, maritime security. It also set the priority of strengthening democratic resilience in the broader region.

Key highlights of the QUAD meeting:

  • On Covid-19: The ministers discussed efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic including vaccination programs. They also agreed to cooperate on enhancing access to affordable vaccines, medicines, and medical equipment.
  • On Myanmar: The Indian and the US statement reflected the difference in the approach to the military coup in Myanmar:
    • The US asked for an urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Myanmar. It also referred to Myanmar as Burma, the name it stopped using since the 1989 military coup in Myanmar.
    • On the other hand, India adopted a more cautious approach. It emphasized on upholding of rule of law and the democratic transition.

About Quad Group

Read More About Quad

  • It is the strategic dialogue between four countries viz. India, United States, Japan, and Australia.
  • Origin:
    • The grouping traces its genesis to 2004, when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.
    • However, the idea of Quad was initiated in 2007 by the Japanese Prime Minister.  But it was dropped with the withdrawal of Australia. It was later revived in the year 2017.
  • Objective: It is viewed as a group of four democracies. They have a shared objective to ensure and support a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
  • The foundation of Quad is also based on collective effort and shared commitment to counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, maritime security cooperation, development finance, and cybersecurity.

Source: The Hindu

Hyderabad recognised as a ‘Tree City of the World

What is the news?

The Arbor Day Foundation and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation have recognised Hyderabad as ‘2020 Tree City of the World’.

About Tree Cities of the World Programme:

Tree Cities of the World programme is an international program. It recognises cities and towns for properly and sustainably maintaining their urban forests and trees.

Criteria: To receive recognition, a town or city must meet five core standards:

  1. Establish Responsibility: The city must have a written statement by city leaders. It must clearly delegate responsibility for the care of trees within its municipal boundary to either a staff member, a city department, or a group of citizens—called a Tree Board.
  2. Set the Rules: The city should have a law or an official policy that governs the management of forests and trees.
  3. Know What You Have: The city should have an updated inventory or assessment of the local tree resource. It will be helpful in effective long-term planning for planting, care, and removal of city trees.
  4. Allocate the Resources: The city must have a dedicated annual budget for the implementation of the tree management plan.
  5. Celebrate Achievements: The city holds an annual celebration of trees. It will raise awareness among residents, citizens and staff members who carry out the city tree programme.

Why was Hyderabad selected as a Tree City?

  • Hyderabad is selected as a Tree City because of its initiatives like Haritha Haram programme and Urban Forest Parks plan.
    • Haritha Haram is a flagship program of the state government for large-scale plantations across the state to increase the green cover.
  • Significance: Hyderabad is the only city from India to get recognition as a Tree City. With this recognition, Hyderabad joins 120 other cities from 23 countries including the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Source: The Hindu

Govt announces “Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge”

What is the news?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs shortlisted 25 cities for the ‘Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge’. This challenge is covered under the Smart Cities Mission.

About Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge

  • It is a three-year initiative hosted by the Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in collaboration with the Bernard van Leer Foundation and World Resources Institute(WRI) India.
  • All cities with a population above 5 lakhs are eligible to participate.
  • Purpose: The challenge aims to enable Indian cities to focus on early childhood development (0-5-year-old children). The focus will incorporate into the planning and management of Indian cities.
  • Objectives:
    • Promote early childhood centric approach among Indian cities.
    • Facilitate demonstration of early childhood centric solutions.
    • Catalyse cities to the mainstream and implement solutions in the long-term.
    • Develop a peer to peer network of nurturing cities.
    • Collect and analyse data related to young children and their caregivers.
  • Who can apply? The challenge is open to all Smart Cities, capitals of States and UTs, and other cities with a population above 5 lakhs.
  • Cities Selected under the challenge: The following cities have been selected for the Challenge: Agartala, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Dharamshala, Erode, Hubballi, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Kakinada, Kochi, Kohima, Kota, Nagpur, Rajkot, Ranchi, Rohtak, Rourkela, Salem, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruppur, Ujjain, Vadodara and Warangal.
  • Benefits to Selected Cities: Cities will receive technical assistance and capacity building. It will be helpful to develop, pilot and scale solutions that enhance the quality of life of young children.
  • Over time, the programme will enable cities to incorporate a focus on early childhood development into the planning and management of Indian cities.

Source: PIB

United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF

What is the news?

Indian-origin investment and development banker Preeti Sinha is appointed as Executive Secretary of UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

 UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF):

  • It was established by the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) in 1966.
  • Mandate: To provide microfinance access to Least Developed Countries (LDCs). It will unlock the full potential of public and private finance in these countries.
  • Funding: UNCDF is an autonomous, voluntarily funded UN organization affiliated with UNDP. Its funding comes from UN member states, foundations, and the private sector.
  • Headquarters: New York, United States.
  • Financing Model: UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels:
    • Financial Inclusion: It expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy. Moreover, it provides them with the tools to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives.
    • Localised Investments: It shows how fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development.

Source: Business Standard

Pollution kills 54,000 people in Delhi in 2020: Greenpeace Southeast Asia Report

What is the News?
Greenpeace, an environmental NGO released a report titled “Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of the cost to the economy due to air pollution”.

About the report:

  • The report is based on a Cost Estimator. It is an online tool that estimates the real-time health impact and economic cost of fine particulate matters (PM 2.5) in major world cities.
  • The tool was deployed in a collaboration between Greenpeace Southeast Asia, IQAir and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

Note: PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Exposure to PM2.5 is considered the foremost environmental risk factor for deaths globally. It is attributed to 4.2 million premature deaths in 2015.

Impact of Air Pollution Related Deaths:

  • Greenpeace uses an approach called ‘willingness-to-pay’. In this approach, a lost life year or a year lived with a disability is converted to money by the amount that people are willing to pay in order to avoid this negative outcome.

Indian Cities covered in the report:

  • Six Indian cities namely Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Lucknow featured in the report.

Key Findings:

  • Globally, in the five most populous cities — Delhi, Mexico City, São Paulo, Shanghai, and Tokyo, PM 2.5 air pollution caused approximately 1,60,000 deaths.
  • Delhi: Air pollution claimed approximately 54,000 lives in Delhi in 2020. It resulted in air pollution-related economic losses of 8.1 billion USD (58,895 crores). It amounts to 13% of Delhi’s annual GDP.
  • Other Indian Cities: The damage is equally worse in other Indian cities:
    • An estimated 25,000 avoidable deaths in Mumbai in 2020 have been attributed to air pollution.
    • Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad estimated an approximate 12,000, 11,000, and 11,000 avoidable deaths respectively due to polluted air.

Source: The Hindu


PM suggested “Special Visa Scheme” for medical staff in South Asia

What is the News?

During an address to 9 neighboring countries, PM suggested Special Visa Scheme. The address was part of a workshop on “COVID-19 management: exchange of good practices in tackling pandemic and the way forward”.

Participation: The countries that participated in the workshop include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka.

Key Takeaways from the address:

  • Special Visa Scheme: PM suggested considering a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses. It will help them to travel quickly within the region during health emergencies at the request of the receiving country.
  • Regional Air Ambulance: The Civil Aviation Ministries from the neighboring countries can coordinate a regional Air Ambulance agreement for medical contingencies.
  • Data on COVID-19 vaccines: The countries could come together to create a regional platform for collating, compiling, and studying data about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among our populations.

Source: The Hindu

“Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement(CECPA)” between India and Mauritius

What is the News?

Union Cabinet has approved a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement(CECPA) with Mauritius.

What is CECPA?

  • It is a kind of free trade pact that aims to provide an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.
  • Under this agreement, countries cut or eliminate the duties on the products. The countries also liberalize the norms to promote the services trade.

Key Features of India – Mauritius CECPA

  • It is a limited agreement that will cover only select sectors. The agreement covers Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade(TBT). Further, the agreement also covers Sanitary and Phytosanitary(SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Customs Procedures and Cooperation.
  • The two countries have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism(ATSM). They will negotiate on ATSM for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.

What is Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism(ATSM)?

It is a special safeguards mechanism included in the agreement. This will protect the country from any sudden or dramatic increase in imports. Under this mechanism, If the imports of a product are rising alarmingly, then after reaching a certain threshold, India can impose safeguard duties on imports from Mauritius automatically. The same provision applies to Mauritius as well against Indian imports.


  • The Agreement will be signed by both the countries on a mutually convenient date and will come into force from the 1st date of the following month.
  • Once signed, this will be the first such trade agreement between India and an African nation.

India-Mauritius Economic Relations:

Mauritius is an important development partner of India.

  • India had extended a ‘Special Economic Package’ of USD 353 million to Mauritius in 2016. The new Mauritius Supreme Court building project is one of the projects implemented under this package. This was jointly inaugurated by both the countries in 2020.
  • According to the International Trade Centre(ITC), in 2019, the main import partners of Mauritius were India (13.85%), China (16.69%), South Africa (8.07%), and UAE (7.28%).
  • The bilateral trade between India and Mauritius has registered a growth of 233% from USD 206.76 million in the Financial Year(FY) 2005-06 to USD 690.02 million in FY 2019-20.

Source: The Hindu

Print Friendly and PDF