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Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 25, 2021

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A CSE study on Pollution Levels in Cities and Towns

What is the news?

Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) has released a study analysing the difference in winter air pollution levels in cities and towns. It compares data of 2020-21 winter and the previous winters.

About the study:

  • The study analysed 99 cities. 75% of data completeness for two consecutive winters is the minimum criteria.
  • The analysis is based on real time data from an online portal Central Control Room for Air Quality Management. It is the Central Pollution Control Board’s(CPCB) official portal.

Key Findings:

  • The levels of PM 2.5 worsened in 43 of 99 cities when winter air pollution levels between 2020 and 2019 were compared.
    • PM 2.5: Particulate Matter(PM) 2.5 refers to a category of particulate pollutant that is 2.5 microns or smaller.
  • Impact of Covid-19: In the aftermath of the Covid lockdown, several cities reported improved pollution levels. However, after the restrictions were significantly eased, pollution levels were back to pre-COVID-19 levels
  • North India Most Polluted: The top 23 polluted cities were in North India. Among North region, Ghaziabad was the most polluted city.
  • Smaller towns and upcoming cities have higher winter pollution levels than the mega cities.
  • Worst Pollution Cities: The cities with the worst pollution increase include Gurugram, Lucknow, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Agra, Navi Mumbai, and Jodhpur. Kolkata is the only megacity in this group.
  • Least Polluted Cities: Mysuru is the least polluted followed by Satna in MP and Kochi in Kerala.
  • Statewise: Uttar Pradesh had eight cities in the top 10 which were most polluted. Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr topped the list.

Source: The Hindu


What is “Pagri Sambhal Movement”?

What is the News?

Farmers Union protesting against the three farm laws are celebrating February 23 as ‘Pagri Sambhal Diwas’ to remember the Pagri Sambhal Movement.

About Pagri Sambhal Movement:

  • The Pagri Sambhal movement was a successful farm agitation against British government. It forced the British government to repeal three laws related to agriculture back in 1907.
    • The three farm-related were the Punjab Land Alienation Act 1900, the Punjab Land Colonisation Act 1906, and the Doab Bari Act.
    • These acts would reduce farmers from owners to contractors of land. Moreover, it would have given the British government a right to take back the allotted land if the farmer even touched a tree in his field without permission.
  • Led by: The movement was led by Bhagat Singh’s uncle Ajit Singh. He wanted to channel people’s anger over the farm laws to bring down the British government.
  • Anthem of the movement: Pagri Sambhal Jatta, a song by Banke Dayal, the editor of Jhang Sayal, became an anthem of the movement.
  • Bharat Mata Society: It was formed by Bhagat Singh’s father Kishan Singh and uncle Ajit Singh with their revolutionary friend Ghasita Ram. The society aimed to mobilise this unrest into a revolt against the British government.

Impact of the movement on British Government:

  • The British made minor amendments to the laws. However, the movement did not end.
  • Further, the movement also couldn’t remain non-violent after Ajit Singh was booked for sedition for his speech at a public meeting.
  • Hence, the British government repealed the three controversial laws in May 1907.

Source: Indian Express


“Black-Necked Crane” named in Assam

What is the News?

Black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) have been sighted for the first time in Assam. To celebrate this, the bird was given an Assamese name: “Deu Korchon” (Deu means god and Korchon means crane).

Black Necked Crane:

  • The black-necked crane is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. It is a medium-sized crane that is mostly grey with a black head and neck with a red crown on the head.

Characteristics:

  • Both the sexes of Black Necked Crane are almost of the same size, but the male is slightly bigger than the female.
  • The juveniles have a brownish head and neck and plumage is slightly paler than that of an adult.

Distribution and Habitat:

  • The largest populations of the bird are in China with smaller numbers extending into Vietnam, Bhutan, and India.
  • The high altitude wetlands in the Tibetan plateau are the main breeding ground of the species.
  • The major wintering breeding grounds are in Tibet, Yunnan and Guizhou (China), and Bhutan. A small wintering population is also found in the Sangti and Zimithang valleys of Arunachal Pradesh.

Significance:

  • The black-necked crane is central to Buddhist mythology and culture. According to a World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF), previous incarnations of the Dalai Lama were carried from monastery to monastery on the backs of these holy birds.
  • The Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in India considers it as the state bird.

Conservation Status:

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

Threats: The major threats are:

  • Loss and degradation of habitat
  • Wetlands being extensively affected by human activity including irrigation, dam construction, draining, and grazing pressure among others.

Initiatives:

  • Worldwide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu & Kashmir has been working towards the conservation of high altitude wetlands, with black-necked cranes as a priority species in the Ladakh region.

Source: Indian Express


What are “Hedgehog Species”?

About Hedgehog

  • Hedgehog is an insectivorous spiny(needle-like anatomical structure) mammal of the subfamily Erinaceidae.
  • These mammals have been on this land even before human evolution. However, there is no mention of them even in our folk tales.

Characteristics of Hedgehog:

  • Features: They have short limbs and a body low to the ground. Their most distinctive characteristic is the thousands of stiff, sharp thorns that cover their back and sides.
  • Nocturnal Mammals:
    • They are nocturnal mammals. It means they usually sleep in during the day and awaken to search for food at night.
    • They usually go into their burrows(hole or tunnel) and sleep continuously for two months to reduce their metabolic activity.
    • They don’t dig much but instead use burrows previously dug by other mammals, like pangolins.
  • Diet: Hedgehogs can eat one-third of their body weights in one night. Their favorite foods are insects, earthworms, snails, and slugs. It makes them a welcome guest in many suburban gardens, and they are even kept as a pet.

Species of Hedgehog:

  • There are seventeen species of hedgehog found through parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and New Zealand. However, there are no hedgehogs native to Australia and America.

Hedgehog Species in India: Of the 17 species of hedgehog around the world, India is home to three:

  • Indian Long-eared or collared hedgehog: It is native to northern India and Pakistan
  • Indian hedgehog: It is native to India and Pakistan. It mainly lives in sandy desert areas but can be found in other environments.
  • Bare-bellied or Madras hedgehog:
    • It was discovered in 1851. In Tamil, they are called as mul eli – mul meaning thorn and eli meaning rat – or irmal eli aka cough rat.
    • In Tamil Nadu, it is used as an ingredient in traditional medicine, or in household remedies for coughs and rheumatism.

How are Hedgehog species in India different from other countries?

  • Hedgehogs in India are distinct in many ways. For instance, hedgehogs in the UK, Africa, and Central Asia hibernates in winter, but the ones in South India go into Estivation in summer instead.

Note:

  • Hibernation: It is a state of dormancy that warm-blooded animals go into during winter, preserving energy at a time when food sources are scarce
  • Brumation: It is similar to hibernation but practiced only by cold-blooded animals like reptiles
  • Estivation: It is a state, when an animal goes into a dormant state during a hot period. It is to wait for passing water scarcity or harsh heat. Many desert creatures estivate
  • Diapause: It is a time of arrested growth and metabolism in insects, mites, crustaceans and other creatures most prominently in butterflies.

Threats to Hedgehogs species in India: In the last 20 years, hedgehogs species in India are on decline drastically due to habitat changes, development and its capture for domestication or sale.

Source: The Hindu


“PLI Scheme for pharmaceuticals and IT hardware” Approved

What is the News?

Union Cabinet has approved the Production Linked Incentive(PLI) Scheme for the pharmaceuticals and IT hardware sectors.

About PLI Scheme for Pharmaceutical Sector:

  • Objective: It will promote the manufacturing of high-value products in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Duration: The duration of the scheme will be for nine years from 2020-21 till 2028-29.

Category of Goods: The scheme shall cover pharmaceutical goods under three categories as mentioned below:

  • Category 1: Biopharmaceuticals such as complex generic drugs, patented drugs, Gene therapy drugs, phytopharmaceuticals, and orphan drugs.
  • Category 2: It would cover active pharmaceutical ingredients, key starting materials, and drug intermediaries.
  • Category 3: Drugs not covered under Category 1 and Category 2.

Significance of the scheme: The scheme will benefit domestic manufacturers. Moreover, it will help to create employment and will make available a wider range of affordable medicines for consumers.

About PLI Scheme for IT hardware sectors:

  • Objective: It will boost domestic manufacturing and investments in the value chain of IT Hardware.
  • Target Segment: The target sectors under the scheme includes laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs and servers.
  • Incentives: Under the scheme, beneficiaries will be given incentives of 4% to 1% on net incremental sales over the base year(2019-20) for a period of four years.
  • Significance: The government expects the scheme to reduce India’s import dependence for IT hardware in a major way. Currently, 80% of the country’s laptop and tablet demand is met through imports.

Click Here to Read about PLI Scheme

 Source: The Hindu


India hosts meeting of “BRICS finance and central bank Meeting” 2021

What is the News?

India has virtually hosted the BRICS Finance and the central bank meeting.

BRICS Finance and the central bank Meeting:

  • It was the first meeting on the BRICS Financial Cooperation held under India’s Chair.
  • The meeting was co-chaired by the Secretary, Department of economic affairs, Ministry of finance, and Deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India(RBI).
  • Other participants in the meeting included BRICS finance and central bank deputies of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa.

Issues discussed during the meeting:

  • During the meeting, India has discussed issues such as:
    1. Global Economic Outlook and Response to COVID-19
    2. Social Infrastructure Financing and Use of Digital Technologies
    3. New Development Bank(NDB) Activities
    4. Fintech for SME and Financial Inclusion,
    5. BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA).

Click Here to Read about BRICS

 BRICS chairmanship for 2021:

  • India has assumed the chairmanship for BRICS in 2021. It is the year in which BRICS is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
  • Theme: BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation

BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement(CRA)

  • Established in: It was established in 2015 as a part of the Fortaleza Declaration at the Sixth BRICS summit.
  • Aim: It aims to provide short-term liquidity support to the members through currency swaps. It will help to mitigate the Balance of Payment(BOP) crisis situations in case such a situation arises.
  • Other objectives:
    • It will help member countries to forestall short-term liquidity pressures,
    • Moreover, it will provide mutual support and further strengthen financial stability.
    • It would also contribute to strengthening the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements (from IMF) as an additional line of defence.

Source: PIB

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