News: The Odisha Forest department has stressed the need for stricter monitoring of social media platforms to check pangolin poaching and trading.
- Pangolin: They are scaly anteater mammals of the order Pholidota.
- They have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin and they are the only known mammals with this feature.
- If under threat, a pangolin will immediately curl into a tight ball and will use their sharp-scaled tails to defend themselves.
- They are nocturnal animals and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites which they capture using their long tongues.
- They tend to be solitary animals meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring which they raise for about two years.
- Pangolins in India: Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India:
- Indian Pangolin is a large ant eater covered by 11-13 rows of scales on the back.A terminal scale is also present on the lower side of the tail of the Indian Pangolin, which is absent in the Chinese Pangolin.
- The species is understood to occur in various types of tropical forests as well as open land, grasslands and degraded habitats, including in close proximity to villages.
- Indian Pangolin is widely distributed in India, except the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East.It can be found at elevation up to 2500 m.The species also occurs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Under Schedule I of WPA, 1972
- Chinese Pangolin:
- It is found in the Himalayan foothills in Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northern India, North-East Bangladesh and through Southern China.
- It is adaptable to a wide range of habitats including primary and secondary tropical forests, limestone and bamboo forests, grasslands and agricultural fields.
- IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
- Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule I
- Trafficking of live pangolin and its scales is a highly lucrative business for organised mafia who exploit poor and vulnerable forest dwelling communities for their criminal interests.
- Hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade, for its meat and scales.
- Heavy Deforestation of their Habitat.
News: The Prime Minister has inaugurated the National Metrology Conclave through video conferencing.
- National Metrology Conclave: It is organised by the Council of scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) which is entering into its 75th year of inception.
- Theme: ‘Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation’.
Key Highlights of the PM’s Address:
- India has broken into the top 50 of the Global Innovation Ranking.
- India ranks 3rd in peer reviewed science and engineering publications which shows an emphasis on basic research.
- Historically, any country has progressed in direct correlation to its effort to promote science.He termed this ‘value creation cycle’ of Science, Technology and Industry.
- Value Creation Cycle: Under this, scientific invention creates a technology and technology leads to industry development. Industry, in turn, invests further in science for new research.This cycle keeps on taking us in the direction of new possibilities.
Key Initiatives launched at Conclave:
- National Atomic Timescale: It will create the Indian Standard Time with 2.8 nanoseconds of accuracy.Hence, from now on Indian Standard Time is matching the International Standard Time with the accuracy range of less than 3 nano second.
- Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya: It is a laboratory that would help the industry to make quality products in sectors like Heavy metals, Pesticides, Pharma and Textiles by drafting a ‘Certified Reference Material System’.
- National Environmental Standards Laboratory: Itwill aid self-reliance in the certification of ambient air and industrial emission monitoring equipment.
News: India has launched the 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica. This Indian expedition marks four decades of the country’s scientific endeavour to the Antarctica.
- India’s Antarctic Expeditions: The Indian Antarctic expeditions began in 1981.The first trip consisted of a team of 21 scientists and support staff led by Dr SZ Qasim.
- Research Base Stations: Indian Antarctic programme has built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica—named Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri, and Bharati. Currently, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica named Maitri and Bharati.
- Nodal agency: The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) manages the entire Indian Antarctic program.
40th Antarctic Expedition:
- The 40th expedition journey will be flagged off from Goa.The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin will make this journey and will reach Antarctica.
- Focus: The focus is to support the ongoing scientific projects on climate change, geology, ocean observations, electric and magnetic flux measurements, environmental monitoring; resupplying of food, fuel, provisions and spare; and accomplishing the return of the winter crew.
- The expedition will duly follow all protocols for the deployment of men and material as per Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP).
Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs(COMNAP):
- It is an international association formed in 1988, which brings together the National Antarctic Programs.
- National Antarctic Programs are those organizations that have responsibility for delivering and supporting scientific research in the Antarctic Treaty Area on behalf of their governments.
- Primary Function: To exchange practical, operational information to help all National Programs fulfill their various missions, together or independently.
- Secretariat: Christchurch, New Zealand.
National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research(NCPOR):
- Former Name: It wasformerly known as the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research(NCAOR).
- Ministry: It is an autonomous Institution of the Department of Ocean Development (DOD), Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- Purpose: It is responsible for administering the Indian Antarctic Programme and maintains the Indian government’s Antarctic research stations, Bharati and Maitri.
- Situated in: Goa
News: Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has announced that it has kickstarted the process of commencing operations of the Seaplane services on select routes.
- What is Seaplane? Seaplanes are typically fixed-wing aircraft with a much fewer number of seats and can take off from and land on water.
- How will it work? Sea Planes will utilize the nearby water bodies for take-off and landing and thus connect those places in a much economical way as conventional airport infrastructure like a runway and terminal buildings are not required for seaplane operations.
- Implementation: The services will be under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) framework through potential airline operators and will be executed and implemented through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), which is under the administrative control of the Ministry.
- Proposed Locations for Seaplane Services: The proposed Seaplane Services under Hub and Spoke model include islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, Guwahati Riverfront & Umranso Reservoir in Assam, Yamuna Riverfront / Delhi (as Hub) to Ayodhaya, Srinagar (Uttrakhand), Chandigarh and many other tourist places of Punjab & HP; Mumbai (as Hub) to Shirdi among others.
- Is there any operation Seaplane Service? One Seaplane Service which is already in operation between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in October 2020.
- Seaplane Service will provide air connectivity to various remote religious/tourist places.
- It will save travel time and stimulate localized short distance travelling especially in the hilly regions or across the rivers/lakes as well as boost tourism and business activities.
- It will generate employment opportunities and stimulate tourism in these new locations, which will consequently contribute to the country’s GDP in the long run.
News: Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration has prohibited community fishing at Deepor Beel, a wetland on the south-western edge of Guwahati and Assam’s only Ramsar site.
- Deepor Beel: It is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, in Kamrup district of Assam.It is a permanent freshwater lake and drains into the Brahmaputra river.
- Climate: The climate is humid and tropical monsoon, with a prolonged monsoon season from May to September and a relatively cool, winter.
- Ramsar Site: Deepor Beel was designated a Ramsar site in 2002 for sustaining a range of aquatic life forms besides 219 species of birds.
- Significance: Considered as one of the largest beels in the Brahmaputra valley of Lower Assam, it is categorised as a representative of the wetland type under the Burma monsoon forest biogeographic region.
- IBA: It is also an important bird sanctuary(IBA) habituating many migrant species.
- Concerns: Deepor Beel is in a bad state as it is losing connectivity with small rivers like Kalmoni, Khonjin and Basistha due to encroachment upon the natural channels through Guwahati, municipal waste dump at Boragaon almost on the edge of the wetland and over exploitation of the wetland.
News: Kerala was placed on high alert after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.
Source: The Hindu
- Bird Flu: It refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza(flu) Type A viruses.These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
- Can it infect Humans? It can occasionally infect humans as well, although human-to-human transmission is unusual.
- How does it spread to Humans? By close contact with a) Infected Poultry b) Pigs and c) Surfaces Contaminated by Infected Birds and their droppings.
- Common Symptoms of Bird Flu in Humans: Fever, Sore Throat, Cough, Muscle Aches, Difficulty in Breathing, Pneumonia, Pain in abdomen, diarrhoea among others.
News: Directorate of Education has issued a circular asking schools to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Why is there a need for a School Bag Policy?
- Heavy school bags are a serious threat to the health and well-being of students.The heavy school bag has severe/adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees.
Key Features of the School Bag Policy,2020:
- School Teachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.
- Weight of School Bags::The weight of the school bags should be 1.6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II, 1.7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V, 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII, 2.5 to 4 kg for Class VIII, 2.5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X and 3.5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII.
- Responsibility of Teachers: Teachers should take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students every three months on a day selected for the whole class and any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents.
- Responsibility of School Management: It is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantities to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes.