A new study has found that the food source that allows Pyronema, a genus of pyrophilous fungi, to appear so quickly in big numbers after a fire is the damage left by the fire itself.
Like trees, some fungi are adapted to fire and are known as pyrophilous, or “fire-loving” fungi.
After a fire, pyrophilous fungi show up from nowhere, basically, even in areas that haven’t burned for decades. Some sprout in fiery shades of orange and pink. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.
Charcoal is difficult for many organisms to break down, and the new study found that Pyronema can decompose (eat) charcoal.
Pyronema can eat charcoal, but it really doesn’t like to. It may first enjoy that layer of dead organisms, and then switch to charcoal when it must.
Significance – As Pyronema is breaking down charcoal after a fire, it is capable of being an important player in the post-fire recovery of the ecosystem.
Thirty white rhinos were transferred from South Africa to Rwanda in a Boeing 747.
White Rhinos are the second-largest land mammal it is known as the square-lipped rhinoceros, white rhinos have a square upper lip with almost no hair.
Two genetically different subspecies exist the northern and southern white rhino and are found in two different regions in Africa.
White rhino populations decreased by 12% between 2012 and 2017.
Southern white rhino is considered as “Almost Endangered (IUCN)”
Out of the current 20,000 Southern white rhinos, the majority (98.8%) of the southern white rhinos occur in just four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
Northern white rhino is on the brink of extinction, with only 2 females remaining and lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Their near extinction is due to decades of poaching for rhino horns.
Social structures – White rhinos have complex social structures.
Kazhuveli Wetlands Bird Sanctuary
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change had declared the Kazhuveli wetlands as the 16th bird sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.
Kazhuveli wetland is located near Villupuram in Tamil Nadu. It lies adjacent to the Bay of Bengal along the east coast.
Kazhuveli wetlands is said to be the second-largest brackish water lake in South India after Pullicat Lake.
Kazhuveli brackish water lake wetlands are of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, and geomorphological significance for the purpose of protecting, propagating, and developing wildlife and its environment.
It is a feeding ground for long-distance migrants from the cold subarctic regions of Central Asia and Siberia including Black-tailed Godwits, Eurasian Curlew, White Stork, and Ruff.
The Grey-tailed Tattler, a rare migratory wader, has been recorded only here and in Pullicat across the country.
Privatisation of Banks
Why in News
Recently, the government has decided to have a relook at some key aspects of Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 – which aims to Privatise Two Public Sector Banks (PSBs) – during the Winter session of Parliament.
Banking Laws (Amendment Bill 2021)
The Bill aims to amend banking companies’ acquisition and transfer laws of 1970 and 1980 and the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to achieve privatisation of two PSBs to meet disinvestment targets as stated by the finance minister in the Union Budget 2021-22.
This move will bring down the minimum government holding in the PSBs from 51% to 26%.
The transfer of ownership, property, or business from the government to the private sector is termed privatisation and it is doneto bring more efficiency and objectivity to the company.
India went for privatisation in the historic reforms budget of 1991, also known as ‘New Economic Policy or LPG policy’.
Nationalisation is the process of taking privately-controlled companies, industries, or assets and putting them under the control of the government.
It often happensin developing countries and can reflect a nation’s desire to control assets or to assert its dominance over foreign-owned industries.
The government decided to nationalize the 14 largest private banks in 1969. The idea was to align the banking sector with the socialistic approach of the then government.
State Bank of India (SBI)had been nationalized in 1955 itself, and the insurance sector in 1956.
The current steps of privatization, along with setting up an Asset Reconstruction Company (Bad Bank) entirely owned by banks, underline an approach of finding market-led solutions to challenges in the financial sector.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi SinchayeeYojna (PMKSY)
Why in News
Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PMKSY) till 2026, with an outlay of Rs 93,068 crore.
The government also approved the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Har Khet ko Pani (HKKP), and watershed development components of the PMKSY for four years to 2025-26.
It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme(Core Scheme) launched in 2015. Centre- States will be 75:25 per cent. In the case of the north-eastern region and hilly states, it will be 90:10.
In 2020, the Ministry of Jal Shakti launched a mobile application forGeo-Tagging of the components of projects under PMKSY.
It has three main components namely the AIBP, HKKP and Watershed Development.
AIBP was launched in 1996 with the aim of accelerating the implementation of irrigation projects that exceed the resource capabilities of states.
HKKP aims to create new water sources through Minor Irrigation. Repair, restoration and renovation of water bodies, strengthening carrying capacity of traditional water sources, construction rain water harvesting structures.
It has sub components: Command Area Development (CAD), Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI), Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies, Ground Water Development.
Convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level.
To expand the cultivable area under assured irrigation (Har Khet ko pani).
To improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water.
To enhance the adoption of precision irrigation and other water-saving technologies (More crop per drop).
To enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices.
Formulation: It was formulated by amalgamating the following schemes:
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) – Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti).
Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) – Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development.
On-Farm Water Management (OFWM) – Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).
Implementation: Decentralized implementation through State Irrigation Plan and District Irrigation Plan.
Personal Data Protection Bill
What is the news?
A report of the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Personal Data Protection Bill has been tabled in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The committee has recommended the formation of a Data Protection Authority (DPA).
What will be the purpose of the Data Protection Authority (DPA)?
The Data Protection Authority (DPA) will be dealing with privacy and personal data as well as non-personal data.
Composition of DPA
The Chairperson and the members of the DPA shall be appointed by the Union government based on the recommendation of a selection committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.
Other members of the committee would be the Attorney General of India, the IT and law secretaries.
Nominated members: An independent expert and a director each from the IIT and the IIM will be nominated by the Centre.
How will the DPA work?
In case of a data leak, the DPA should be notified within 72 hours of the company becoming aware of the breach.
The DPA shall then take into account the personal data breach and the severity of harm that may be caused to the persons whose data has been leaked. Accordingly, it will ask the company to report it and take appropriate remedial measures.
What penalties and punishments have been recommended in the report?
If the company fails to take prompt and appropriate action following a breach, does not conduct a data audit, or does not appoint a data protection officer,it should attract a penalty of up to Rs 5 crore or 2% of the total worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.
Further, if a company violates the provisions of processing personal data or data of children, or transfers data outside India against the prescribed rules,it shall be fined up to Rs 15 crore or 4% of its total worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.
For government departments, the liability in case of a data breach will not be directly placed with the head of the departments. The head of the government department will first conduct an in-house probe to determine the officer responsible for the violation, and only then will the liability be decided.
If a person intentionally and without the consent of data fiduciary or data processor re-identifies personal data which has been de-identified will face a jail term of up to 3 years or a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh or both.
Samajik Adhikarita Shivir
What in news?
The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has virtually inaugurated ‘Samajik Adhikarita Shivir’.
What is Samajik Adhikarita Shivir?
A camp organized for distribution of aids and assistive devices to ‘Divyangjan’ under the Assistance to Disabled Persons (ADIP) Scheme and to Senior Citizens under the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana.
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) in association with Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO) organised it.
What are the other steps taken by the Government for Divyangjan (Persons with Disabilities)?
Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act,2016 has been implemented in 2016. Under this,
7 categories of disability have now increased to 21 categories
Reservation in government employment has been increased from 3% to 4% and
Reservation in government aided higher educational institutions has been made from 3% to 5%.
Heat record in Siberian town
What in news?
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has confirmed that Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town experienced the highest temperature of 38oC, the highest ever recorded temperature in the Arctic region.
This place falls in eastern Siberia, which has an extremely harsh dry continental climate (very cold winter and hot summer).
On February 6th2020, at the Esperanza station in Argentina considered to be a part of the Antarctic region, a temperature of 18.3°C was recorded.
These events indicate that the region in and around both Arctic and Antarctic are being warmed gradually.
What are the causes?
Global warming– Arctic region is warming at twice the rate than the rest of the world, mainly because of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. The increased rate of warming is because of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.
This creates a cycle between melting ice and rising temperatures, amplifying the impact of warming.
Arctic amplification is the process in which the melting ice hastens the process of warming by exposing areas that are not good at reflecting back heat into the atmosphere.
How the climate of the Arctic region is changing?
At the time the highest temperature was recorded, most of the Arctic region, especially Siberia, was experiencing an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures in the Siberian Arctic rising up to 10°C above normal.
This has led to forest fires and massive sea ice loss and was one of the reasons for 2020 becoming one of the three warmest years on record despite a cooling La Niña phenomenon towards the end of the year.