Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 4, 2021

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The “fishing cat” in India is under threat

What is the News?
The Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance will be starting a worldwide month-long campaign. It will raise awareness and garner support across the globe for the conservation of the Fishing Cat.

About Fishing Cat

  • It is a highly elusive wild cat feline species found primarily in wetland and mangrove habitats.

Characteristics:

  • Adept swimmers: The fishing cat is an adept swimmer and enters water frequently to prey on fish as its name suggests. It is known to even dive to catch fish.
  • Food Habits: They are nocturnal (active at night).  Apart from fish also prey on frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, and scavengers on carcasses of larger animals.
  • Breeding: It is capable of breeding all year round. But in India, its peak breeding season is known to be between March and May.

Habitat:

  • Globally: They are found in South and Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, images of fishing cats are found carved in the walls of ancient structures and are known as Kla Trey, ‘Tiger fish’.
  • India:
    • Foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganga and Brahmaputra river valleys and in the Western Ghats.
    • Patchy distribution along the Eastern Ghats.
    • Sundarbans in West Bengal and Bangladesh
    • Chilika lagoon and surrounding wetlands in Odisha
    • Coringa and Krishna mangroves in Andhra Pradesh.

Conservation Status:

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

Threats:

  • Habitat loss [wetland degradation and conversion for aquaculture and other commercial projects],
  • Sand mining along river banks,
  • Agricultural intensification resulting in loss of riverine buffer and
  • Conflict with humans in certain areas resulting in targeted hunting and retaliatory killings.

Conservation Initiatives:

  • State Animal: In 2012, the West Bengal government officially declared the Fishing Cat as the State Animal.
  • Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance: It is a team of conservationists, researchers, working to achieve a world with functioning floodplains and coastal ecosystems. It will ensure the survival of the fishing cat and all species with which it shares a home.

Source: The Hindu


Initiatives to promote “Ethanol as an alternate fuel”

What is the News?

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas has informed Lok Sabha about the initiatives taken to promote ethanol as an alternate fuel.

Ethanol:

  • Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is a liquid that has several uses. At 95% purity, it is called rectified spirit and is used as the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic beverages. At 99%-plus purity, ethanol is used for blending with petrol.
  • In India, ethanol is mainly produced from sugarcane molasses by fermentation process.

Facts about Ethanol as a Fuel:

  • Ethanol is also considered a renewable fuel. It is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun.
  • Ethanol molecule contains oxygen. It allows the engine to combust the fuel efficiently, resulting in lower emission. Thereby, it reduces environmental pollution.
  • Ethanol-blended fuel keeps the fuel system clean for optimal performance. It is because it does not leave gummy deposits.
  • Ethanol helps prevent wintertime problems by acting as a gas-line antifreeze.

Government Initiatives to Promote Ethanol as an alternate Fuel:

  • Ethanol Blended Petrol(EBP) programme:
    • It was launched in 2003 by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG).
    • Aim: To achieve a blending of Ethanol with Petrol. It was aimed to reduce pollution, conserve foreign exchange and benefits for farmers. It increases value addition in the sugar industry.
    • Implementation: The Government is implementing the programme through Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
  • National Policy on Biofuels (NBP) -2018: This policy envisages an indicative target of blending 20% ethanol in petrol by 2030.
  • Ethanol from Sugarcane: Government has allowed the production of ethanol from sugarcane and food grain-based raw-materials.
  • Interest Subvention Scheme: Government, in order to increase the production of ethanol, has notified interest subvention schemes for setting up of molasses and grain-based new distilleries or expansion of existing distilleries, setting up of dual-feed distilleries, installation of zero liquid discharge system among others.

Source: PIB


World Economic Forum launches “Global artificial intelligence alliance”

What is the News?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched the Global AI Action Alliance (GAIA).

About the alliance:

  1. GAIA: It is a multi-stakeholder collaboration platform. It has been designed to accelerate the adoption of inclusive, transparent, and trusted artificial intelligence tools globally and in industry sectors.
  2. Members: The alliance is consisting of over 100 leading companies, governments, international organizations, non-profits, and academics. They all are committed to maximizing AI’s societal benefits while minimizing its risks.
  3. Committee: A steering committee will guide the alliance. It is consisting of top global leaders from industry, government, academia, and civil society.
  4. Significance: The alliance will provide a platform for members to;
    • engage in real-time learning,
    • frame new approaches to ethical AI,
    • increase adoption of best practices and
    • undertake collective action to ensure that AI’s benefits are shared by all.

Additional Facts:

  • Artificial Intelligence(AI): It is a constellation of technologies that enable machines to act with higher levels of intelligence. It emulates the human capabilities of sense, comprehend and act, in the machines.
  • Importance of AI: Artificial Intelligence(AI) could contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030, adding 14% to global GDP. This would make AI the biggest economic opportunity of the next decade. It represents more value than today’s insurance, oil, and gas, commercial real estate, and automotive industries combined.

Source: Hindustan Times


Chauri Chaura” centenary celebration

What is the News?
The Prime Minister has inaugurated the Chauri Chaura centenary celebrations at Chauri Chaura in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

About Chauri Chaura incident:

The Chauri Chaura incident took place on 4 February 1922 at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province(Uttar Pradesh) in British India.

The sequence of Events:

  • Launch of Non-Cooperation Movement: In 1920, Mahatma Gandhi, launched the non-cooperation movement. It was launched to challenge oppressive government regulatory measures. The movement used non-violent methods of civil disobedience known as Satyagraha protests.
  • National Volunteer Corps: In 1921-22, volunteers of the Congress and the Khilafat movement were organized into a national volunteer corps. In 1922, these Corps appointed peasant officers in Gorakhpur to fill out pledges of non-cooperation, collect subscriptions and lead the picketing of shops selling foreign items.
  • The incident: In 1922, the volunteers participating in the Movement led by Bhagwan Ahir clashed with police, who opened fire. In retaliation, the demonstrators attacked and set the police station on fire. It killed all inside the station. The incident led to the death of three civilians and 22 policemen.
  • Impact: Mahatma Gandhi was strictly against violence. He halted the non-co-operation movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident.
  • Consequence: It resulted in disillusionment among many younger Indian nationalists that India would not be able to end colonial rule through non-violence.
    • Hence, after this incident many revolutionaries had arisen— Jogesh Chatterjee, Ramprasad Bismil, Sachin Sanyal, Ashfaqulla Khan, Jatin Das, Bhagat Singh, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Masterda Surya Sen, and many others.

Source: Indian Express


125th anniversary celebrations of ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ journal

What is the News?
The Prime Minister will address the 125th-anniversary celebrations of the ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ journal. The event is organized by the Advaita Ashrama in Uttarakhand.

About ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ journal

  • Prabuddha Bharata: It is an English monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order founded in 1896, by Swami Vivekanand.
    • Ramakrishna Order: It is the monastic lineage that was founded by Ramakrishna. It gave birth to twin organizations Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission both headquartered at Belur Math in Kolkata.
  • Purpose: The journal carries articles on social sciences and humanities comprising historical, psychological, cultural, and social sciences themes.
  • Significance: The journal has been a significant medium for the outreach of the knowledge and message of India’s ancient spiritual wisdom.
  • Personalities like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sister Nivedita, Sri Aurobindo, Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, have contributed to the Journal over the years.

Source: Hindustan Times


State Reform Action Plan (SRAP), 2019

What is the News?
Ministry of Commerce and Industry has informed Lok Sabha about the rankings of States and Union Territories(UTs) under State Reform Action Plan (SRAP), 2019.

About State Reform Action Plan(SRAP):

  • SRAP: It is an index that ranks states and Union Territories based on the implementation of the Business Reform Action Plan.
  • Released by: It has been released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) since 2015.
  • Objective: To attract investments by increasing the Ease of Doing Business in each State. It introduces an element of healthy competition through a system of ranking states.
  • Parameters: It includes 180 reform points covering 12 business regulatory areas such as Access to Information, Single Window System, Labour, Environment, Paying Taxes among others.
  • Method of Ranking: The rankings are based on feedback obtained from users/professionals against 180 out of 187 reform points. Its method is similar to the methodology followed by the World Bank in its global Doing Business rankings.
  • Ranking: The top five states under the SRAP 2019 are Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

SRAP, 2020:

  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) has prepared a 301-point State Reforms Action Plan,2020, and shared with States/UTs.
  • The Action Plan is spread across 15 reform areas. It seeks to promote a sector-specific approach to create an enabling business environment across various sectors in the country.
  • The various sectors include Trade License, Healthcare, Legal Metrology, Fire License/NOC, Cinema Halls, Hospitality, Telecom, Movie Shooting and Tourism.

Source: PIB


What is “One District One Product Scheme”?

What is the News?

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has informed Lok Sabha about the One District One Product Scheme.

 One District One Product Scheme(ODOP):

  • Aim: To identify one product per district based on the potential and strength of a district and national priorities. A cluster for that product will be developed in the district and market linkage will be provided for that.
  • Significance: This initiative is seen as a transformational step towards realizing the true potential of a district. It will fuel economic growth and generate employment and rural entrepreneurship.

Merging of ODOP with Districts as Exports Hub initiative:

  • The ODOP initiative has been operationally merged with the ‘Districts as Export Hub’ initiative. Later is implemented by the Director-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Department of Commerce.
  • Objective: To convert each District of the country into an Export Hub by identifying products with export potential. It also aims to address bottlenecks in exporting products and support local manufacturers.
  • Under the initiative, the State Export Promotion Committee(SPEC) and District Export Promotion Committee (DEPC) have been constituted in several districts.

Source: PIB


Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) scheme for textile sector

Why in News?
The Finance Minister has announced the launch of Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) Scheme.

About Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) Scheme

  • Aim: The scheme aims to enable the textile industry to become globally competitive and boost exports. The scheme also aims to boost employment generation within the textile sector and also attract large investment.
  • Main Features of the Scheme:
    • The scheme was launched in addition to the Production Linked Incentive(PLI) Scheme
    • Under the scheme, there is a plan to establish Seven textile parks over three years.
    • These textile parks will have a world-class infrastructure. They will also have plug-and-play facilities (business facilities will be available ready-made) to help create global champions in exports in the textile sector.
  • Significance: The scheme will create a level-playing field for domestic manufacturers in the international textiles market. It will also pave the way for India to become a global champion of textiles exports across all segments.

Note:

  • Indian textile sector is the sixth-largest exporter of textiles and apparel in the world.
  • The industry is also among the top employers in the country providing direct employment to 45 million people and 60 million people in allied industries.

Source: PIB

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