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

Underwater study to determine origin of Ram Setu

Why in News?

Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) has approved an underwater research project to ascertain the origins of the Ram Setu.

Facts:

  • About the study: The study will be conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) Goa.
  • Focus of the study:
    • To study the process behind Ram Setu’s formation. It will also look for any submerged habitations around the structure.
    • Ram Setu’s age will also be ascertained through the study of fossils and sedimentation.  It is to see if it correlates with the Ramayana period.
  • Research Vessel: The indigenous research vessel named Sindhu Sadhana will be deployed.  It will collect samples of sediment from 35-40 meters below the water level. The vessel can stay underwater for up to 45 days.

Ram Sethu:

  • Ram Sethu is also known as Adam’s Bridge or Nala Sethu. It is a 48 km chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island known as Rameswaram Island on the coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island on the coast of Sri Lanka.
  • The bridge separates the Gulf of Mannar (south-west) from the Palk Strait (northeast).
  • The bridge holds religious significance. A bridge is mentioned in Ramayana, that Lord Ram and his army built to reach Lanka. The location of the Lanka of the Ramayana has been widely interpreted as being current day Sri Lanka and bridge as Ram Sethu.

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project:

  • It is a shipping canal project proposed by the UPA government in 2005. The project aims to link the Arabian Sea with the Bay of Bengal. For this, a channel passing through the limestone shoals of Ram Setu was to be dredged in the Sethusamudram sea between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
  • However, the project was not implemented after opposition by environmental groups as well as by the BJP.  They said that the project would damage the Ram Setu.

Source: Indian Express

Remote Voting Project

Why in News?

As per Election Commission, the remote voting project would be launched soon.

Remote Voting Project:

  • A remote voting project will enable a voter to cast his or her franchise from any polling station in the country. It will remove the compulsion on voting only at the polling station, where the person is registered.
  • This program would help lakhs of voters who live outside their home constituencies for work or education.
  • The project is being developed by the IIT-Madras using blockchain technology.

What is an e-EPIC?

  • It is an Electronic version of the Electoral Photo Identity Card(EPIC). It would be a non-editable PDF version of the EPIC. Furthermore, it can be downloaded on the phone and stored on the DigiLocker app or printed from a computer.
  • All general voters who have valid EPIC numbers would be able to download the Electronic version of the Electoral Photo Identity Card.

Source: The Hindu

Risa textile of Tripura

Why in News?

The Tripura government is planning to promote Risa textile as the signature textile of Tripura nationally.

Risa

What is Risa textile?

The traditional Tripuri female attire comprises three parts — risa, rignai and rikutu.

  • Risa: It is a handwoven cloth used as a female upper garment, and also as headgear, a stole, or a present to express respect. As an upper garment, it is wrapped around the torso twice.
  • Rignai: It is primarily worn as the lower garment and literally translates into ‘to wear’. It can be understood as an indigenous variety of the sari of mainland India.
  • Rikutu: It is mainly used as a wrap, or like a ‘chunri’ or a ‘pallu’ of the Indian sari. It is also used to cover the head of newly married Tripuri women.

Significance of Risa:

  • Risa has been in circulation as an honorary stole among indigenous community leaders and tribal political leaders.
  • It is common in almost all 19 indigenous tribal communities of Tripura. However, each community has its own designs.
  • The garment is made in handloom or loin looms at homes. Usually, only one or two pieces are prepared in a month. Most of this art is handed down through generations. However, many of the designs were lost with the passage of time, and only a few remain.
  • Adolescent Tripuri girls are first given a risa at age 12 to 14, to wear in an event called Risa Sormani.
  • It is also used for other purposes such as;
    • in religious festivals such as Garia Puja by tribal communities,
    • In weddings and festivals as a turban by men,
    • headscarf by young girls and boys and
    • during winters as a muffler.

Source: Indian Express

Flash droughts in India

Why in News?

As per a new study, the number of flash droughts could be increased in India, by the end of this century.

Facts:

  • Flash droughts: These droughts occur very quickly due to the rapid depletion of soil moisture. It is different from normal drought conditions, that develop in months, but the flash drought happens within a week or two.
  • Factors: Several factors including Lesser precipitation, high temperature, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions play an important role in the occurrence of flash droughts.
  • Flash droughts in India: The top five flash droughts in India based on the overall severity score occurred in 1979 (about 40% of the country was affected) followed by 2009, 1951, 1986, and 2005.

Key Takeaways from the study:

  • The ongoing climate change has caused a significant increase in global temperature. It can lead to more and more flash droughts in the coming years.
  • There is a five-fold rise in the frequency of extremely dry and hot years in the coming three decades. This is causing an approximately seven-fold increase in flash droughts like 1979, by the end of the 21st century.
  • Impact: The increased frequency of flash droughts can have severe implications for crop production, irrigation demands, and groundwater abstraction in India.

Suggestions:

  • Limiting Global Warming: By limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees C, the numbers and frequency of the projected flash droughts may go down.
  • Predicting flash droughts: Flash-drought prediction ahead of time using operational meteorological forecasts will help manage irrigation water demands and avoid considerable losses in agriculture.

Source: The Hindu

Sunderbans is home to 428 species of birds, says ZSI

Why in News?

Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has released a study titled “Birds of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve”. The study documents the avifauna of the Sundarbans and also serves as a comprehensive photographic field guide with detailed distribution and locality data for all the species from the region.

Sunderbans:

  • Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It spans from the Hooghly River in India’s state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh.

Indian Sunder bans:

  • Location: It is located in the southwestern part of the delta. It constitutes over 60% of India’s total mangrove forest area. It covers 4,200 sq. km and includes the Sunder ban Tiger Reserve — home to about 96 royal Bengal tigers.
  • Recognition: It is a World Heritage site and a Ramsar site (a wetland site designated to be of international importance).
  • Fauna in the region:
    • Indian Sunder bans is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world and is home to 428 species of birds.
    • Among these birds listed, some like the masked finfoot and the Buffy fish owl are recorded only from the Sundarbans.
    • The area is also home to nine out of 12 species of kingfishers found in the country as well as rare species such as the Goliath heron and the spoon-billed sandpiper.
  • Significance: India has over 1,300 species of birds and if 428 species of birds are from the Sunder bans, it means that one in every three birds in the country is found in the unique ecosystem.

Source: The Hindu

Global Firepower Index 2021

Why in News?

Global Firepower has published the Global Firepower Index (GFP) /Military Strength Ranking 2021.

Facts:

  • Global Firepower Index: It ranks each nation’s potential war-making capability across land, sea and air with conventional weapons.
  • Factors: The index is calculated using fifty individual factors such as geography, logistical capability, manpower, land forces, airpower, natural resources, naval forces and financials.

Key Takeaways:

  • The United States military was ranked the most powerful armed force in the world closely followed by Russia and China.
  • India was ranked fourth in the Index with 542 combat aircraft, 17 submarines, 4,730 tanks, and 37 attack helicopters.
  • Pakistan was ranked the tenth most powerful country in the Index. It has surpassed Israel, Indonesia, Iran, and Canada in terms of military power.

Source: The Hindu

World Economic Forum(WEF)

  • World Economic Forum (WEF): It was established by Klaus Schwab in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation. It was initially named as European Management Forum. Later, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987.
  • Aim: To improve the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Reports: a) Global Competitiveness Report b) Global Gender Gap Report c) Global Risks Report and d) Global Travel and Tourism Report among others.

WEF Davos Agenda Summit,2021:

  • It will be organized virtually by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • The summit will mark the launch of WEF’s “Great Reset Initiative” which aims to rebuild the economy sustainably following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Themes: The seven key themes of the summit are: How to Save the Planet, Fairer Economies, Tech for Good, Society, and Future of Work, Better Business, Healthy Futures and Beyond Geopolitics.

Source: Indian Express 

Decriminalisation of offences under LLP Act

Why in News?

The Company Law Committee has recommended decriminalizing 12 offences under the Limited Liability Partnership(LLP) Act. It has also said that LLPs should be allowed to issue non-convertible debentures(NCDs) to raise funds. It will help them in improving the ease of doing business for LLP firms.

Facts:

  • Limited Liability Partnership(LLP): It is an alternative corporate business form in which some or all partners (depending on the jurisdiction) have limited liabilities.
  • Under this, partners are not responsible or liable for another partner’s misconduct or negligence. This is an important difference from the traditional unlimited partnership in which each partner has joint liability.
  • Act: All limited liability partnership in India is governed under the limited liability partnership act of 2008. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs implements the Act.

Recommendations of the committee:

  • Decriminalising offences: The committee has recommended decriminalizing several offences related to timely filings, including annual reports and filings on changes in partnership status of the LLP, not related to fraud.
    • It is to be noted that none of these offences attracts imprisonment. Instead, these offences attract fines.
  • Penalties instead of Fines: Committee recommended the companies should be made to pay penalties instead of fines.
    • This is because fines are counted in the criminal charges. It results in a convicted person being disqualified or becoming ineligible for various posts.
  • Authority to impose Penalty: The Registrar of Companies should have the authority to levy penalties for any contravention of provisions of the LLP Act.
  • LLPs to issue NCDs: LLPs which are currently not allowed to issue debt securities should be allowed to issue non-convertible debentures (NCDs) to facilitate the raising of capital and financing operations. The move is likely to benefit startups and small firms in sectors which require heavy capital investment.

Additional Facts:

What are Non-convertible debentures(NCDs)?

  • Debentures are long-term financial instruments which acknowledge a debt obligation towards the issuer.Some debentures have a feature of convertibility into shares after a certain point of time at the discretion of the owner.The debentures which can’t be converted into shares or equities are called non-convertible debentures (or NCDs).
  • NCDs are used as tools to raise long-term funds by companies through a public issue.To compensate for this drawback of non-convertibility, lenders are usually given a higher rate of return compared to convertible debentures.
  • Besides, NCDs offer various other benefits to the owner such as high liquidity through stock market listing, tax exemptions at source and safety since they can be issued by companies which have a good credit rating.

Source: Indian Express

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