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Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 27, 2021

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World bank Released “Education Finance Watch(EFW) Report” 2021

What is the News?

The World Bank and UNESCO released the Education Finance Watch (EFW) Report, 2021.

About the Education Finance Watch (EFW) Report:

  • The report is a collaborative effort between the World Bank and UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.
  • It summarizes the available information on patterns and trends in education financing around the world.

Key Findings:

  • Global spending on education has increased continuously in absolute terms over the last 10 years. However, the pandemic may interrupt this upward trend.
  • Education Budgets: 2/3rd of low and middle-income countries reduced their education budgets since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In comparison, only a third of upper-middle and high-income countries have reduced their budgets.
  • Spending on Child’s Education: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, high-income countries were spending annually the equivalent of $8,501 for every child’s education. It was $48 in low-income countries. The pandemic has further widened this spending gap.
  • Access to education has improved in low and middle-income countries. However, the learning poverty rate (the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read a short, age-appropriate text) was at around 53%. It was only 9% for high-income countries. This has increased further to 63% after COVID-19-related school closures.

Global Education Monitoring Report(GEM Report):

  • Published by: It is an annual report published by UNESCO. The report was formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
  • Mandate: The report aims to monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education. It also targets education-related goals in the SDG agenda.

Source: Down To Earth


Inscription of Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya death discovered

What is the news?

The first-ever written inscription of the date of death of Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya discovered at Honnenahalli in Karnataka.

About the inscription:

  • The inscription is written in Kannada. According to the inscription, Krishnadevaraya was one of the greatest emperors of India who ruled from the South.
  • He died on 17th October 1529 (Sunday) which was incidentally marked by a lunar eclipse.
  • Further, during that day, a village named Honnenahalli was gifted for conducting worship to the god Veeraprasanna Hanumantha.

About King Krishnadevaraya:

  • Krishnadevaraya was the emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire during 1509–1529.
  • Dynasty: He was the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty and is considered to be its greatest ruler. He possessed the largest empire in India after the decline of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Dominant Ruler: He became the dominant ruler of India by defeating the Sultans of Bijapur, Golconda, the Bahmani Sultanate, and the Gajapatis of Odisha.
  • Titles: Krishnadevaraya earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (Lord of the Kannada empire), Andhra Bhoja (Andhra Bhoja(Scholar) King), and Mooru Rayara Ganda(King of Three Kings).
  • Foreign Travellers: Portuguese travelers Domingo Paes and Fernão Nuniz visited the Vijayanagara Empire during his reign.
  • Mathematician: The great south Indian mathematician Nilakantha Somayaji also lived in the Empire of Krishnadevaraya.
  • Golden Age of Telugu Literature: The rule of Krishna Deva Raya is known as the golden age of Telugu literature. Eight Telugu poets regarded as eight pillars of his literary assembly and known as Ashtadiggajas.
    • Among these eight poets, Allasani Peddana is considered to be the greatest. He is given the title of Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry).
  • Telugu Poem: Krishna Deva Raya himself composed an epic Telugu poem Amuktamalyada.

Source: The Hindu


“The Caracal” is now critically endangered

What is the news?

The National Board for Wildlife includes the caracal in the list of critically endangered species. The recovery programme for critically endangered species in India now includes 22 wildlife species.

About Caracal:

  • It is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia including India. The population of this cat is increasing in Africa while its numbers are declining in Asia.

Characteristics:

  • Features: The caracal has long legs, a short face, long canine teeth. It has distinctive ears that are long and pointy with tufts of black hair at their tips.
  • Nocturnal Animal: It is an elusive, primarily nocturnal animal. Its sightings are not common.
  • Diet: The caracal is a carnivore. It typically preys upon small mammals, birds, and rodents.
  • Significance: The caracal has traditionally been valued for its flexibility and its extraordinary ability to catch birds in flight.

Why is the wild cat named Caracal?

  • Its name is on the basis of the Turkish word karakulak, meaning ‘black ears’. It is named due to its iconic ears.
  • Different Names:
    • In India, Caracal is called siya gosh, a Persian name that translates as ‘black Ear’.
    • A Sanskrit fable (short story) exists about a small wild cat named deergha karn or ‘long-eared’.

Habitat:

  • Earlier Caracals could be found in arid and semi-arid scrub forest regions of 13 Indian states. It was also found in nine out of the 26 biotic provinces.
  • However, currently, its presence is restricted to Rajasthan, Kutch, and parts of Madhya Pradesh(MP).

Conservation Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • CITES listing: Appendix I for Asian population and Appendix II for others.

Threats:

  • Loss of habitat and increasing urbanisation
    • Example: Chambal ravines which are caracal’s natural habitat has been often officially notified as wasteland.
  • Infrastructure projects such as the building of roads lead to the fragmentation of the caracal’s ecology and disruption of its movement.

Historical significance of Caracal:

  • Ancient Times: The earliest evidence of the caracal in the subcontinent comes from a fossil dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization c. 3000-2000 BC.
  • Medieval Times:
    • It was a favourite coursing or hunting animal in medieval India.
    • Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) had siyah-goshdar khana stables that housed large numbers of coursing caracal.
    • Caracal finds mention in Abul Fazl’s Akbarnama as a hunting animal in the time of Akbar(1556-1605).
    • Descriptions and illustrations of the caracal can also be found in medieval texts such as Anvar-i-Suhayli, Tutinama, Khamsa-e Nizami and Shahnameh.
  • Modern Times: The East India Company’s Robert Clive is said to have been presented with a caracal after he defeated Siraj-ud-daullah in the Battle of Plassey(1757).

Source: Indian Express


No postal ballots for NRIs this time: ECI

What is the News?

Election Commission of India has said that the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will not be able to vote by postal ballots for the upcoming elections in five states.

What is a Postal Ballot?

  • It is a facility whereby a voter can cast his/her vote remotely. The user cast the vote by recording preference on the ballot paper and sending it back to the election officer before counting.
  • Section 60 of the RP Act,1951 provides for the person to be given a postal ballot facility. However, the Election commission requires consulting with the government.

Who can avail the Postal Ballot facility currently?

  • Members of the armed forces like the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
  • Members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state)
  • Government employees posted outside India and their spouses
  • Voters under preventive detention
  • Special voters such as the President of India, Vice President, Governors, Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the House, and government officers on poll duty have the option to vote by post. But they have to apply through a prescribed form to avail of this facility.
  • Absentee Voters: These are voters who are unable to cast their vote due to their service conditions or other conditions. They include voters a) employed in essential services b) Persons with disabilities and c) senior citizens above 80 years of age.

Note: In 2020, the Election Commission has allowed senior citizens above the age of 65 and COVID-19 positive voters to cast their vote by post.

What about Postal Ballot facilities for NRI voters?

  • The Election Commission of India(ECI) put forward the proposal of extending postal ballots to overseas electors in 2020.
  • The proposal has been referred to the Ministry of External Affairs. The Ministry has said that a wider consultation should be held with different stakeholders before extending this facility.

Source: The Hindu


Second edition of “Global Bio-India”-2021

What is the News?

The 2nd edition of Global Bio-India is being organised on a digital platform.

About Global Bio India 2021:

  • Organized by: It is organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology along with BIRAC in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII), Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises(ABLE) and Invest India.
  • Purpose: To showcase the strength and opportunities of India’s biotechnology sector at national and global level.
  • Inaugural Edition: The first edition of Global Bio-India was held in 2019.
  • Theme for 2021: The theme is “Transforming lives” and the tagline is Biosciences to Bioeconomy”.

India’s Biotechnology Sector:

  • Biotechnology is an industry that focuses on novel drug development and clinical research aimed at treating diseases and medical conditions.
  • India is among the first countries to set up a department of biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1986.
  • India is among the top 12 destinations for biotechnology in the world. It accounts for approximately 3% share in the global Biotechnology industry.
  • Valu of the Indian Biotechnology industry was at $62 bn in 2019. It will reach a $150 bn target by 2025.

About Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council(BIRAC)

  • It is a not-for-profit Public Sector Enterprise set up by the Department of Biotechnology(DBT).
  • It is an industry-academia interface. Likewise, it aims to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.

Source: PIB


COVAX program

What is the News?

Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccines under the COVAX program.

What is the COVAX program?

  • The COVAX program is led by the vaccine alliance GAVI, the World Health Organisation(WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI). The COVAX program is in partnership with UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers and the World Bank.
  • Aim: The COVAX program aims to ensure rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all the countries around the world.
  • The COVAX program forms a key part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools(ACT) Accelerator.
  • Target: To vaccinate roughly 20% of the population in the 92 Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries. This includes middle and lower-income nations that cannot afford to pay for COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Process of Vaccination: Once the vaccines receive approval, the vaccines will be bought by the COVAX facility. The COVAX facility will then try to provide it to the 20% population of each of the eligible countries at free of cost.
  • Funding: The funding target for this program for 2021 is about the US $6.8 billion. The funding is partly coming from high and middle-income countries that will also receive a share of the vaccines produced for COVAX.

ACT Accelerator

  • It is a framework that was set up in response to a call from G20 Leaders in 2020. ACT Accelerator was launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.
  • Goal: To end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. The ACT Accelerator aim to achieve this by reducing COVID-19 mortality and controlling the severe disease spread. This will be targeted through the accelerated development, equitable allocation and scaled-up delivery of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
  • Pillars of ACT Accelerator: The Accelerator comprises four pillars:
    • Diagnostics
    • Treatment
    • Vaccines (also known as COVAX)
    • Health system strengthening.
  • Significance: ACT accelerator is not a legal or decision-making entity. Instead, it has been set up as a support structure. It will help in the working of the delivery partners and facilitate knowledge sharing among them.

Source: Indian Express

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