Daily Prelims Newsletter for upsc 21 Dec 2021

Daily Prelims Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

21 Dec 2021-Tuesday

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

Xenobots

Scientists have witnessed a never-before-seen type of self-replication in the world’s first living robots (xenobots) created in the lab using frog cells.

  • Xenobot (named after African clawed frog) are synthetic life forms that are designed by computers to perform some desired function and built by combining together different biological tissues.
  • The world’s first Xenobots were developed in 2020 by assembling African clawed frog cells.
  • These frog cells aren’t genetically modified at all, but simply combined in different arrangements to produce the xenobots.
  • The C-shaped Xenobots propel themselves by using tiny hair-like structures called cilia.
  • These “parent” Xenobots
  • move around their environment,
  • they collect loose stem cells in their “mouths”,
  • aggregate to create “offspring” Xenobots that develop to look like their creators.
  • This reproduction happens at the molecular level, and there is no other organism that reproduces or replicates in this way.
  • Xenobots have been designed to walk, swim, push pellets, carry payloads, and work together in a swarm to aggregate debris scattered along the surface of their dish into neat piles.
  • They can survive for weeks without food and heal themselves after lacerations.
  • Benefits – One day these xenobots could be programmed to perform useful functions such as
  • finding cancer cells in the human body or
  • trapping harmful microplastics in the ocean.

Parvovirus

Nearly 2,000 dogs in Amravati city were affected by the canine parvovirus virus with veterinarians cautioning pet owners against a severe outbreak.

  • Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious viral disease that has reported a 90% mortality rate in puppies and dogs.
  • It affects the intestinal tract of canines with puppies being more susceptible.
  • Symptoms – Bloody diarrhea, vomiting, drastic weight loss, dehydration and lethargy.
  • Spread – The highly contagious virus spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or by indirect contact with a contaminated object, including the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.
  • The dogs can get exposed to the parvovirus every time it sniffs, licks, or consume infected feces.
  • Prevention – Parvovirus has no cure and inoculating a puppy or a dog gives them a fighting chance against the infection.
  • The first dose is given at 45 days old and the second dose after 21 days.
  • To properly protect canines, it is necessary to administer the vaccine to them while they are puppies and then continue to do the same every year.
  • Treatment – Currently, there is no specific drug available to kill the Canine Parvovirus.
  • Supportive care for parvovirus generally includes hospitalization with intravenous fluids, Antiemetics to stop vomiting, Correction of any electrolyte imbalances or low blood glucose.

Reintroduction of Gharials in Beas Conservation Reserve

Punjab’s wildlife preservation wing has reintroduced the Gharials in the rivers of Punjab where it had become extinct half a century ago.  

  • Gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) or gavials are a critically endangered species of Asian crocodiles.
  • Their ghara (bulbous knob on their snout) makes them very efficient fishers and also renders gharial the only visibly sexually dimorphic crocodilian.
  • Habitat – Gharials live in clear freshwater river systems, congregating at river bends where the water is deeper. They’re not well-suited for land so they generally only leave the water to bask in the sun or to nest.
  • Once found from Pakistan to Myanmar, the reptile’s range has shrunk to 2 countries – India, and Nepal (Narayani River).
  • In India, their natural habitat is found in the northern part of India, including the,
    1. Primary Habitat – Chambal River
    2. Secondary Habitat – Ghaghra and Gandak river, Girwa river (Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in UP), Ramganga river in Jim Corbett National Park and the Sone River.
  • The population of Gharials is agood indicator of clean river water.
  • Diet – They are carnivorous in nature. While adults eat fish, their offspring also eat insects, crustaceans, and frogs.
  • Conservation Efforts includes
    • Breeding Centres of Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, UP.
    • National Chambal Sanctuary (Gharial Eco Park, Madhya Pradesh).

Protection Status

IUCN Red List of Species

Critically Endangered

CITES

Appendix I

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Schedule I

  • Threats –
  • As Gharials prefer sandbanks as suitable habitats, wild animals, as well as humans, often destroy their eggs.
  • Increased river pollution, dam construction, massive-scale fishing operations and floods, illegal sand mining, and poaching.

Agni-P Missile

Recently, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile ‘Agni Prime’ with an aim to further strengthen India’s credible deterrence capabilities.

  • This is the second test of the missile; the first test took place in June 2021.

Key Points

  • Agni-P is a two-stage canister solid propellant missile with dual redundant navigation and guidance system. Canisterisation of missiles reduces the time required to launch the missile.
  • It has been termed as a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles with improved parameters, including maneuvering and accuracy.
  • The surface-to-surface ballistic missile has a range of 1,000 to 2,000 km.

Agni Class of Missiles:

  • Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km, had been tested several times and validated for induction.
  • The Agni-P and Agni-5 ballistic missiles trace their origins back to the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), which was spearheaded by former DRDO chief and ex-Indian president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam in the early 1980s.
  • Recently Tested Missile:
  • BrahMos supersonic cruise missile (air version)
  • Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM)

IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program)

  • It was conceived by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to enable India to attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology. It was approved by the Government of India in 1983 and completed in March 2012.

Amendment to Minerals Rules

Recently, the Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Second Amendment Rules, 2021, and the Mineral (Auction) Fourth Amendment Rules, 2021 have been notified.

  • These two rules will amend the Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Rules, 2015 [MEMC Rules] and the Mineral (Auction) Rules, 2015 [Auction Rules], respectively.

Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Second Amendment Rules, 2021:

  • It will enable any person(who is intending to participate in the auction) to propose suitable blocks for auction for a composite license where the mineral potentiality of the blocks has been identified based on the available geoscience data.
  • A committee constituted by the State Government shall assess the mineral potentiality of the blocksso proposed and recommend the block for auction.

Mineral (Auction) Fourth Amendment Rules, 2021:

  • It would provide that in case the blocks proposed by any person are notified for auction, the said person would be provided an incentive of depositing only half of the bid security amount in the auction of the blocks proposed by him.
  • Part surrender of the mining lease area has been allowed in all cases, till now, part surrender was allowed only in case of non-grant of forest clearance.
  • Provisions have also been added to allow the disposal of overburden/ waste rock/ mineral below the threshold value, which is generated during the course of mining or beneficiation of the mineral.

Aim:

  • To identify more mineral blocks for auction and thereby increase the pace of exploration and production resulting in improving the availability of minerals in the country,

Significance:

  • It will encourage more participation in auctions and promote competition.
  • It will facilitate State governments in identifying more blocks for the auction of composite licenses.

Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Rules, 2015

  • It has been recently amended in June 2021, inter alia, to provide for auction to grant a composite license in respect of areas where at least Reconnaissance Survey (G4) level has been completed or where the mineral potentiality of the block has been identified based on the available geoscience data but resources are yet to be established.
  • Reconnaissance Survey provides a snapshot of potential historic resources in a particular location at a specific point in time.
  • These amendments were aimed at identifying more mineral blocks for auction.

Mineral (Auction) Rules, 2015

  • It was amended, inter alia, to prescribe bid security, performance security, and other eligibility conditions to enable auction of such blocks for a composite license.
  • Geological Survey of India (GSI) has also made available the database of baseline geoscience data for geological potential areas in the Online Core Business Integrated System Project (OCBIS) portal for the assistance of prospective bidders and other stakeholders.

Indian Desert Cat

Recently, an Indian Desert Cat (Felis silvestrisornata) has been spotted for the first time in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR).

  • The Indian Desert Cat is also known as the Asiatic Wildcat or the Asian Steppe Wildcat.
  • It is usually a creature of the Thar desert in Rajasthan and inhabits scrub desert areas.
  • The cat occurs in arid and semi-arid zones of western India which includes Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra up to Pune and Nagpur.
  • This cat can survive without water.
  • The toes of the species have cushion-like hair which helps it balance the fluctuating desert temperatures.

Threats:

  • It possesses beautiful soft fur, hence, most sought after in the international fur trade.
  • Hybridisation with domestic cats can lead to the loss of genetic information and is thought to be one of the main threats. 
  • Hybridisation was reported from Pakistan and Central Asia and is most likely also a problem in India.
  • Habitat destruction and reduced habitat quality remain important issues. The Asiatic wildcat is under heavy pressure due to land-use changes.
  • Rodenticides and other chemicals may also threaten it.

Protection Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix-II
  • Wildlife protection Act’s: Schedule-I.

Poshan Tracker

The Government of India has told in the Lok Sabha that the Data recorded in the Poshan (Nutrition) Tracker have not been made public in the interest of the privacy of women and children.

  • The objective is to honor the privacy of women and children who are serviced by the Government of India in collaboration with State Governments across the Anganwadi systems in the country.

About the Poshan Tracker:

  • The Poshan Tracker, known as the ICDS-CAS (Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application Software) in its earlier avatar, was set up with the aim of tracking and improving various services delivered at Anganwadi and to ensure nutritional management of beneficiaries.
  • This real-time monitoring system is one of the key pillars of Poshan Abhiyan or Nutrition Mission approved by the Union Cabinet in November 2017 with a financial outlay of ₹9,000 crores for three years.

Significance:

The tracker is one of the important pillars of the Poshan Abhiyan and helps the Government monitor services delivered at 12.3 lakh Anganwadi centers and record nutritional indicators of 9.8 lakh beneficiaries, including children in the age of six months to six years as well as pregnant women and lactating mothers.

What’s the issue?

  • The parliamentary committee in its report sought that key performance indicators are constantly monitored and uploaded on its website and a State-wise progress report be maintained “so that identification of those deprived of the benefits can be made on a real-time basis for timely remedial measures.”
  • The committee also recommended that the Ministry put in place a monitoring mechanism to ensure there were no gaps in the distribution of food packets to Anganwadi beneficiaries.

About Poshan Abhiyaan:

  • The programme seeks to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • It was Launched in 2018 with specific targets to be achieved by 2022.

It aims to reduce:

  • Stunting and wasting by 2% a year (total 6% until 2022) among children.
  • Anaemia by 3% a year (total 9%) among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
  • The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.

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