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May 29, 2024 IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs

Archives (PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)   PREFIRE (POLAR RADIANT ENERGY IN THE FAR INFRARED EXPERIMENT ) Syllabus Prelims – SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Context: On May 25, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched one of the two climate satellites, which would study heat emissions at Earth’s poles. The second satellite will be launched in the following days. Background:- The two shoebox-sized cube satellites, or CubeSats, will measure how much heat the Arctic and Antarctica — two of the coldest regions on the Earth — radiate into space and how this influences the planet’s climate. The mission has been named PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) and was jointly developed by NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (US). what are CubeSats? CubeSats are essentially miniature satellites whose basic design is a 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm (which makes up for “one unit” or “1U”) cube — just a little bigger than a Rubik’s cube — and weight not more than 1.33 kg. Depending on the CubeSat’s mission, the number of units can be 1.5, 2, 3, 6, and 12U, according to NASA. These satellites were first developed in 1999 as educational tools. However, owing to their low cost and less mass in comparison to traditional satellites, they began to be put in orbit for technology demonstrations, scientific research, and commercial purposes. Each of the PREFIRE satellites is a 6U CubeSat. They measure around 90 cm in height and nearly 120 cm in width when the solar panels, which will power the satellite, are deployed. The two satellites will be placed in a near-polar orbit (a type of low Earth orbit) at an altitude of about 525 kilometres. Why do researchers want to measure heat emissions at Earth’s poles? It has to do with the Earth’s energy budget, which is the balance between the amount of heat incoming to Earth from the Sun and the amount of heat outgoing from Earth into space. The difference between the two determines the planet’s temperature and climate. A large amount of the heat radiated from the Arctic and Antarctica is emitted as far-infrared radiation — wavelengths of 3 μm to 1,000 μm within the infrared range of electromagnetic radiation. However, there is currently no way to measure this type of energy. As a result, there is a gap in knowledge about the planet’s energy budget. What is the PREFIRE mission? The PREFIRE mission will change that. Its two CubeSats can study far-infrared radiation from the Earth’s pole and the data collected by them would help scientists better understand the energy budget of the planet. The observations will help understand the fundamentals of Earth’s heat balance, allowing to better predict how our ice, seas, and weather will change in the face of global warming. Each of the PREFIRE CubeSat is equipped with a thermal infrared spectrometer — known as Thermal Infrared Spectrometer (TIRS) — to measure the amount of infrared and far-infrared radiation from the Arctic and Antarctica. The spectrometer features specially shaped-mirrors and detectors for splitting and measuring infrared light, according to NASA. The CubeSats will also measure the amount of far-infrared radiation trapped by atmospheric water vapour and clouds at the poles and how this influences the greenhouse effect in the region. Source: Indian Express RISING HEAT STRESS IN SIX METROS Syllabus Prelims & Mains – ENVIRONMENT Context: India’s megacities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad are experiencing worsening “heat stress” , according to a study by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. Background: The CSE study comes at a time when the country is seeing prolonged heatwaves this summer.Odisha recorded 18 heatwave days, while West Bengal recorded 16 in April. A long heatwave is currently prevailing over Rajasthan and parts of Haryana and Delhi. Key Takeaways Worsening “heat stress” in the six metros under study is due to a trend of rising relative humidity over the past two decades. Relative humidity (RH) (expressed as a percent) measures water vapour, but RELATIVE to the temperature of the air. In other words, it is a measure of the actual amount of water vapour in the air compared to the total amount of vapour that can exist in the air at its current temperature. Warm air can possess more water vapor (moisture) than cold air. Besides rising relative humidity, these cities are also experiencing warmer nights as land surface temperatures are not falling at the same rate as a decade ago, said the analysis, blaming this on the “urban heat island” effect. “Urban heat island” effect refers to the trapping of heat due to an increase in built-up area, declining green cover, congestion, heat absorption by urban structures, and heat generated by human activities. This causes the heart of megacities to be much warmer, especially at night, than its outskirts and neighbouring towns. Hot nights are as dangerous as mid-day peak temperatures. People get little chance to recover from day-time heat if temperatures remain high overnight. The combination of rising air and land surface temperatures and high relative humidity is increasing the heat index and heat stress in these cities. Heat index is a measure of discomfort felt due to high heat and humidity. With the exception of Bengaluru, all the other metros have seen a 5-10 per cent rise in average relative humidity during summer, the study noted. According to data, in the last decade, summers in Hyderabad were 10 per cent more humid on an average – the highest among all metros. In Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, humidity increased by 8 per cent, 7 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively. The combination of high heat and humidity can compromise the human body’s main cooling mechanism: sweating. The evaporation of sweat from skin cools our bodies, but higher humidity levels limit this natural cooling, the study said. The combination of these two factors makes people sick and, in some cases, can also prove fatal, even at lower ambient temperatures. There is a need to implement emergency measures during heatwaves to protect public health, and also to develop longer term strategies to mitigate heat by increasing green areas and waterbodies, improving thermal comfort in buildings, and reducing waste heat from vehicles, air conditioners and industries. Source: Indian Express LANDSLIDES Syllabus Prelims & Mains – Geography & Disaster Management Context: Cyclone rain-triggered landslides in the Northeast spotlights need for building resilience to multi-hazard disasters. Background: About 13% of India’s area, spread over 15 states and four Union Territories, is prone to landslides. Key Takeaways Cyclone-triggered landslides have hit Northeastern states on earlier occasions as well. Cyclone Aila had caused landslide events in this region in May 2009. The latest episode spotlights the need for building resilience to multi-hazard disasters. One event can trigger another, and can lead to multiple disasters simultaneously. Over the last few years, India has witnessed events in which heavy rainfall has resulted in a breach of glacial lakes, causing flash floods that have resulted in landslides and flooding. Although India has done well to prepare and safeguard itself against certain natural events such as cyclones, landslides remain a weak point. What are Landslides? A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity. The term “landslide” encompasses five modes of slope movement: falls, topples, slides, spreads, and flows. These are further subdivided by the type of geologic material (bedrock, debris, or earth). Debris flows (commonly referred to as mudflows or mudslides) and rock falls are examples of common landslide types. Almost every landslide has multiple causes. Slope movement occurs when forces acting down-slope (mainly due to gravity) exceed the strength of the earth materials that compose the slope. Causes include factors that increase the effects of down-slope forces and factors that contribute to low or reduced strength. Landslides can be initiated in slopes already on the verge of movement by rainfall, snowmelt, changes in water level, stream erosion, changes in ground water, earthquakes, volcanic activity, disturbance by human activities, or any combination of these factors. Earthquake shaking and other factors can also induce landslides underwater. These landslides are called submarine landslides. Submarine landslides sometimes cause tsunamis that damage coastal areas. Landslide vulnerability: India’s Case About 0.42 million square km of India’s landmass, or about 13% of its area, spread over 15 states and four Union Territories, is prone to landslides, according to the Geological Survey of India (GSI). This covers almost all the hilly regions in the country. About 0.18 million square km, or 42% of this vulnerable area is in the Northeastern region, where the terrain is mostly hilly.This area is also prone to earthquakes, which too, are a major trigger for landslides. Government data show that between 2015 and 2022, the eight states in this region, including Sikkim, recorded 378 major landslide events which resulted in loss of life or damage to property. In the country as a whole, Kerala saw the largest number of landslides — 2,239 — most of which occurred after the disastrous 2018 floods in the state. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been working with GSI and other agencies to mitigate and manage the risks from landslides. A National Landslide Risk Management Strategy was finalised in 2019, which talked about vulnerability mapping, identifying the most vulnerable locations, development of an early warning system, and preparation of mountain zone regulations. But most of the work still remains to be done. Early warning Some early warning systems have been developed and deployed on a trial basis at a few locations. These warning systems are linked to rainfall forecasts from IMD. The rainfall prediction is combined with soil and terrain information to calculate whether it is likely to result in displacement of land. Most landslides in the hilly regions are caused by heavy rainfall. Earthquakes can trigger landslides too. Since earthquakes themselves cannot be predicted, we cannot have a landslide early warning based on earthquakes. But rainfall-based early warning systems for landslides seem to work well. Rainfall forecasts, on the other hand, come quite early. Reliable location-specific predictions are available at least a day in advance. Scientists create a rainfall threshold for land movement and soil displacement at each landslide-prone location. If the rainfall forecast is higher than the threshold, an early warning for landslides is issued. Human pressure The risk from landslides has been exacerbated by the failure to remain mindful of the terrain’s ability to withstand the load. Many hilly areas do not have building regulations. Often, regulations are not implemented effectively. New constructions, infrastructure development, and even agricultural practices can increase the risk of landslides. Every mountainous area has a carrying capacity. Sustainability has to be factored in, so that the load does not exceed the carrying capacity. Source: Indian Express CARBON FIBER Syllabus Prelims & Mains – SCIENCE Context: Vice President recently visited National Aerospace Limited (NAL) facilities and laid the foundation stone of the Centre for Carbon Fiber and Prepregs in Bengaluru. Background: Carbon fiber can have higher cost than other materials which has been one of the limiting factors of adoption. Key Takeaways Carbon fiber, also known as graphite fiber or carbon graphite, is a material consisting of thin, strong crystalline filaments of carbon. These fibers are about 5 to 10 micrometers in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The properties of carbon fibers include: High stiffness High tensile strength High strength-to-weight ratio High chemical resistance High-temperature tolerance Low thermal expansion These properties make carbon fiber popular in various fields such as aerospace, civil engineering, military, motorsports, and other competition sports. However, they are relatively expensive compared to similar fibers, such as glass fibers, basalt fibers, or plastic fibers. Carbon fibers are usually combined with other materials to form a composite. For example, when permeated with a plastic resin and baked, it forms carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer which has a very high strength-to-weight ratio and is extremely rigid although somewhat brittle. Carbon fibers are also composited with other materials, such as graphite, to form reinforced carbon-carbon composites, which have a very high heat tolerance. Carbon fiber-reinforced materials are used to make aircraft and spacecraft parts, racing car bodies, golf club shafts, bicycle frames, fishing rods, automobile springs, sailboat masts, and many other components where light weight and high strength are needed. Source: Hindu TROPICAL CYCLONES Syllabus Prelims & Mains – Geography Context: At least 36 people were killed in heavy rains and landslides in four northeastern states on Tuesday, May 28, under the impact of Cyclone Remal. Background: Tropical cyclones develop in tropical oceans at least 5° – 30° latitude north or south of the equator, where the sea temperature is at least 27 °C. They are important on Earth for transferring heat and energy between the equator and the poles. About TROPICAL CYCLONES : Tropical cyclones are formed in the region between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. They’re large-scale weather systems that form over tropical or subtropical oceans and coalesce into surface wind circulation. Tropical cyclones are one of the world’s most destructive natural disasters. Favourable Conditions for the Formation of Tropical Cyclone A large area of water surface with a temperature above 27° C The Coriolis force is strong enough to form a cyclonic vortex. Variations in the vertical wind speed are minor.This allows the storm clouds to rise vertically to high levels. A weak low-pressure area or low-level cyclonic circulation already exists. Above the sea level system, there should be a higher divergence. Origin of Tropical Cyclones Tropical cyclones arise over tropical oceans in late summers and have a thermal origin (August to mid-November). Because of the Coriolis effect, the powerful local convectional currents take on a whirling motion at these regions. Developmental Stages of Tropical Cyclone Tropical cyclones can be classified into three stages throughout their development: Formation and Initial Development Stage The transport of water vapor and heat from the warm ocean to the overlying air, largely through evaporation from the sea surface, is crucial to the creation and early development of a cyclonic storm. Convection with condensation of rising air above the ocean surface stimulates the creation of huge vertical cumulus clouds. Mature Stage The air rises in powerful thunderstorms as a tropical storm intensifies, and it tends to spread out horizontally at the tropopause level. When air spreads out, a positive pressure is created at high elevations, speeding up the downward migration of air due to convection. When subsidence is induced, the air warms up due to compression, resulting in a warm ‘Eye’ (low-pressure center). A mature tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean has a concentric pattern of highly turbulent large cumulus thundercloud bands as its principal physical feature. Modification and Decay As soon as its source of warm moist air begins to ebb or is abruptly cut off, a tropical cyclone begins to weaken in terms of core low pressure, internal warmth, and extremely fast speeds. This occurs after it reaches land or passes across chilly water. Source: Bureau of Meteorology NABARD'S CLIMATE STRATEGY 2030 Syllabus Mains – GS 3 Context: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) unveiled its Climate Strategy 2030 document which aims to address India’s need for green financing. Background: Despite the pressing demand, where India requires approximately US$ 170 billion annually to reach a cumulative total of over US$ 2.5 trillion by 2030, current green finance inflows are critically insufficient. NABARD’s Climate Strategy 2030: It is structured around four key pillars: Accelerating Green Lending by focusing on increasing green financing across various sectors. Market-making role by playing a broader role in creating a conducive market environment for green finance. Internal Green Transformation by implementing sustainable practices within NABARD’s operations. Strategic Resource Mobilisation by mobilising resources effectively to support green initiatives. This strategy is designed to tackle the financial gap between the required investment for sustainable initiatives and the current inflow of green finance. India requires approximately USD 170 billion annually by 2030, aiming for a cumulative total of over USD 2.5 trillion. However, current green finance inflows are critically insufficient, with only about USD 49 billion garnered as of 2019-20. The majority of funds in India are earmarked for mitigation efforts, with only USD 5 billion allocated towards adaptation and resilience. This reflects minimal private sector engagement in these areas due to challenges in bankability and commercial viability. Green Financing: Green financing refers to the mobilisation of financial resources to support investments that have a positive environmental impact. These investments can range from renewable energy projects and energy efficiency initiatives to sustainable infrastructure development and climate-smart agriculture. Significance of Green Financing: The traditional financial system often prioritises short-term profits over long-term environmental sustainability. Green financing aims to bridge this gap by: Facilitating the Transition to a Low-carbon Economy by channelling funds towards renewable energy and clean technologies, green financing helps reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Promoting Climate Adaptation and Resilience by making investments in green infrastructure like flood defences and early warning systems can help communities adapt to the changing climate and reduce the impact of natural disasters. Unlocking New Economic Opportunities by shifting towards a green economy creates new markets for clean technologies and sustainable practices, stimulating innovation and job creation. Issues/Challenges Related to Green Financing: Green projects often require higher initial investments compared to conventional projects, which can deter investors despite long-term cost savings and environmental benefits. Green projects often have longer payback periods and may not align with short-term investment horizons or financial targets of investors and financial institutions. The absence of globally accepted standards for green investment leads to ambiguity and inconsistency in evaluating their environmental impact and financial performance. Also, without clear and standardised criteria, there is a risk of greenwashing, where investments are misrepresented as environmentally friendly without delivering substantial sustainability benefits. Source: NABARD Practice MCQs Daily Practice MCQs Q1.) Consider the following statements about tropical cyclones They are important on Earth for transferring heat and energy between the equator and the poles. Tropical cyclones are difficult to form over a region within 5 degrees of latitude from the Equator because the Coriolis force there is too small. As soon as itssource of warm moist air begins to ebb or is abruptly cut off, a tropical cyclone begins to weaken. How many of the statements given above are correct? Only one Only two All three None Q2.) Consider the following statements Carbon nanotubes are exponentially more expensive and stronger than carbon fibers. Carbon fiber is used in various industries due to its high tensile strength and resistance to corrosion. Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)are cylindrical structures made entirely of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. How many of the statements given above are correct? Only one Only two All three None Q3.) Consider the following statements regarding Earth’s heat budget: The heat budget of Earth is the balance between the energy Earth receives from the Sun and the energy it radiates back into space. Albedo refers to the fraction of solar energy reflected back into space by Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane play no role in Earth’s heat budget. Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 1 and 2 only 2 and 3 only 1 and 3 only 1, 2, and 3 Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!! ANSWERS FOR ’  29th  May 2024 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st ANSWERS FOR  28th May – Daily Practice MCQs Answers- Daily Practice MCQs Q.1) – b Q.2) – b Q.3) – a

May 29, 2024 Daily Prelims CA Quiz

The Current Affairs questions are based on sources like ‘The Hindu’, ‘Indian Express’ and ‘PIB’, which are very important sources for UPSC Prelims Exam. The questions are focused on both the concepts and facts. The topics covered here are generally different from what is being covered under ‘Daily Current Affairs/Daily News Analysis (DNA) and Daily Static Quiz’ to avoid duplication. The questions would be published from Monday to Saturday before 2 PM. One should not spend more than 10 minutes on this initiative. Gear up and Make the Best Use of this initiative. Do remember that, “the difference between Ordinary and EXTRA-Ordinary is PRACTICE!!” Important Note: Don’t forget to post your marks in the comment section. Also, let us know if you enjoyed today’s test 🙂After completing the 5 questions, click on ‘View Questions’ to check your score, time taken, and solutions.To take the Test Click Here

May 28, 2024 IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs

Archives (PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)   SENSEX & NIFTY Syllabus Prelims – Economy Context: Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) will become the first Adani Group company to be included in the Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange, replacing Wipro on June 24. Background:- APSEZ and Adani Enterprises, the flagship of the Adani Group, are already part of the Nifty at the National Stock Exchange, the other stock market index that tracks the performance of a set of large and actively traded companies in the country. ABOUT STOCK MARKET AND INDICES The stock market refers to public markets that exist for issuing, buying, and selling stocks. Stocks, also known as equities, represent fractional ownership in a company, and the stock market is a place where investors can buy and sell ownership of such investible assets. The stock market serves two very important purposes. The first is to provide capital to companies that they can use to fund and expand their businesses. By offering stock shares instead of borrowing the capital needed for expansion, the company avoids incurring debt and paying interest charges on that debt. The secondary purpose the stock market serves is to give investors – those who purchase stocks – the opportunity to share in the profits of publicly traded companies. Investors can profit from stock buying in one of two ways. Some stocks pay regular dividends (a given amount of money per share of stock someone owns). The other way investors can profit from buying stocks is by selling their stock for a profit if the stock price increases from their purchase price. Most of the trading in the Indian stock market takes place on its two stock exchanges: the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The BSE was established in 1875. The NSE was founded in 1992 and started trading in 1994. Both the Sensex and Nifty are tools/index by which traders and market participants measure the domestic market’s performance. Launched in 1986, the Sensex is the country’s oldest and most tracked index. It is designed to measure the performance of the 30 largest, most liquid, and financially sound companies across key sectors of the Indian economy that are listed at BSE Ltd. Among the companies that are part of the Sensex are Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, and ITC Ltd.These companies are selected to represent the broader Indian equity marketplace. As such, even though the Sensex is composed of only 30 stocks, investors make decisions to buy or sell based on the movement of the Sensex. The Sensex is reconstituted biannually, in June and December of every year. How is Nifty different from Sensex? While the Sensex constitutes 30 companies trading on the BSE, the Nifty 50 is a broad-based index consisting of 50 blue chip large and liquid stocks traded on the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE). The Nifty 50 was started in November 1995. Source: Indian Express TRADE DEFICIT Syllabus Prelims & Mains – ECONOMY Context: India has recorded a trade deficit, the difference between imports and exports, with nine of its top 10 trading partners, including China, Russia, Singapore, and Korea, in 2023-24, according to official data. Background: The data also showed that the deficit with China, Russia, Korea, and Hong Kong increased in the last fiscal compared to 2022-23, while the trade gap with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia, and Iraq narrowed. Key Takeaways Trade deficit arises in the course of international trade when the payments for imports exceed the receipts from export trade. A trade deficit is also referred to as a negative balance of trade. According to trade experts, a deficit is not always bad, if a country is importing raw materials or intermediary products to boost manufacturing and exports. However, it puts pressure on the domestic currency. A rising trade deficit, even from importing raw materials and intermediates, can cause the country’s currency to depreciate because more foreign currency is needed for imports. This depreciation makes imports more expensive, worsening the deficit. Economic think tank Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) said that a bilateral trade deficit with a country isn’t a major issue unless it makes us overly reliant on that country’s critical supplies. However, a rising overall trade deficit is harmful to the economy. To cover the growing deficit, the country might need to borrow more from foreign lenders, increasing external debt and this can deplete foreign exchange reserves and signal economic instability to investors, leading to reduced foreign investment. Reducing a trade deficit involves a combination of increasing exports and decreasing imports. Some strategies that could be used to reduce trade deficit: Improve Infrastructure: Improving infrastructure can help facilitate trade and make it easier for businesses to export goods. Diversify Trade Relations: By diversifying trade relations, India can reduce its dependence on any single trading partner and potentially increase exports. Quality Control Orders (QCOs): These can be used to cut down on cheap and non-essential imports. Devalue Domestic Currency: This can make exports cheaper and imports more expensive, thereby reducing the trade deficit. Attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): FDI can bring in more funds and technology, which can boost domestic production and exports. Energy Diversification: Reducing reliance on imported crude oil by diversifying energy sources can help in reducing the trade deficit. Latest Data: China has emerged as India’s largest trading partner with $118.4 billion of two-way commerce in 2023-24, edging past the U.S. The trade deficit with China rose to $85 billion, Russia to $57.2 billion, Korea to $14.71 billion and Hong Kong to $12.2 billion in 2023-24 The bilateral trade between India and the U.S. stood at $118.28 billion in 2023-24. Washington was the top trading partner of New Delhi during 2021-22 and 2022-23. India has a trade surplus of $36.74 billion with the U.S. in 2023-24. America is one of the few countries with which India has a trade surplus. The surplus is also there with the U.K., Belgium, Italy, France and Bangladesh. India’s total trade deficit in the last fiscal narrowed to $238.3 billion as against $264.9 billion in the previous fiscal. Source: Hindu EUCALYPTUS Syllabus Prelims – ENVIRONMENT Context: The Kerala government issued an order allowing the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) to plant eucalyptus trees for its financial sustenance in 2024-2025. Environmentalists soon protested the decision saying the move would adversely affect forests and heighten human-animal conflicts in future. Background: In 2021, the State government had published an eco-restoration policy. Among other things, it sought to address what it called the “proliferation of invasive species that are not suitable for our environment” and the resulting “depletion of natural forests”.Environmental activists alleged following the State’s order — permitting the KDFC to plant eucalyptus trees — contravened the policy’s aspirations. Key Takeaways Eucalyptus is a genus of more than 700 species of flowering plants in the family Myrtaceae. Most species of Eucalyptus are native to Australia. About three-quarters of Australian forests are eucalypt forests. Many eucalypt species have adapted to wildfire, are able to resprout after fire, or have seeds that survive fire. Eucalyptus trees are a source of timber, pulpwood, and firewood. They grow rapidly and can be harvested in short rotation cycles. Eucalyptus trees have a long history in India. Introduction: Eucalyptus was first introduced in India around 1790 by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. He planted it in his palace garden on Nandi hills near Bangalore. According to one version, he received seed from Australia and introduced about 16 species. Expansion: Initially, eucalyptus was planted as an ornamental tree to enhance the beauty of gardens. However, its plantation on a larger scale began only in 1952. Industrial Use: In the 1950s, eucalyptus and acacia trees were planted extensively throughout the Nilgiris to supply pulp wood.Later, eucalyptus was planted extensively with financial assistance from the World Bank. Controversies: Eucalyptus was targeted in the 1980s when water crisis first hit the district, though this tree was not the only causative factor. The state government decided not to go for fresh plantations in 1988 due to a Save Nilgiris Campaign. A study by the Kerala State Forest Protective Staff Organisation found that replacing exotic plants in forested areas with the corresponding natural species could help ensure food for wild elephants. Some of the the prime elephant habitat of the state like Chinnakanal in Munnar is filled with eucalyptus trees. The soil around the tree, because of the leaves that fall, has an acidic pH and this makes growing other crops or plants near eucalyptus difficult. Source: Hindu HAMPI VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE Syllabus Prelims & Mains – Art & Culture Context: A portion of the Virupaksha temple in Karnataka collapsed following torrential rains. Located at the historical site of Hampi, the temple’s pavilion or the saalu mantap was damaged, leading some conservationists to blame Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials for allegedly neglecting its protection and conservation. Background: A nationally protected monument, the temple is believed to have its origins in the 7th century. Key Takeaways Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi in the Vijayanagara district of Karnataka, India. It is part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha/Pampa pathi, as the consort of the local goddess Pampadevi who is associated with the Tungabhadra River. Despite legends about its origins going further back, the Virupaksha temple gained prominence and underwent extensive expansion in the 14th century during the Vijayanagara Empire (1336 to 1646). Founded by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty, the Vijayanagara empire expanded from a strategic position on the banks of the Tungabhadra river to become one of the most powerful kingdoms of its time. The temple flourished under the patronage of the Vijayanagara rulers, who were great builders and patrons of art. It became a vital centre for the religious and cultural activities of its time. It is a prime example of Dravidian temple architecture, characterised by its grand gopurams (towering gateways), the shikhara towering over the sanctum sanctorum, its intricate carvings and pillared halls. Richly adorned with carvings and sculptures, the gopuram depicts various deities, mythological scenes and animals. Virupaksha Temple complex is surrounded by three gopuras (towers). The main tower, on the east is an imposing structure, 9 stories, 50 meters tall, built in the fifteenth century. Eastern tower forms the main entrance to Virupaksha Temple. Eastern tower has extensive craftsmanship on each of its floors featuring hundreds of Hindu gods and goddesses. The inverted shadow of the main tower falls on a wall inside the temple. With several other temples and structures located there, Hampi was the empire’s capital city. Hampi sits on the banks of the Tungabhadra River Source: Indian Express INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS Syllabus Prelims – Current Event Context: In a noteworthy international development, the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s prosecutor, Karim Khan, has requested the court to issue arrest warrants against leaders of Israel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant — and leaders of Hamas. Background: The arrest warrants are sought on the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the October 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza. About INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT : It is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. It has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crime of aggression. It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems. It may exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals. It may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states, crimes committed by nationals of member states, or crimes in situations referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council.The ICC lacks universal territorial jurisdiction. Israel is not a member of the court and does not recognise its jurisdiction, but the Palestinian territories were admitted with the status of a member state in 2015. Established in 2002 pursuant to the multilateral Rome Statute, the ICC is considered by its proponents to be a major step toward justice. About the development The ICC, in recent times, has come under scathing criticism for targeting leaders of the third world, and not Western powers and their allies. The application to issue arrest warrants against the leaders of Israel, thus, is a first and quite significant one. It can be argued that by charging both the Hamas leadership and the Israeli leaders, the prosecutor is seemingly giving an impression of being balanced and even-handed. Under international law, heads of state are immune from criminal proceedings at any foreign or international court. At the ICC, however, no head of state can claim immunity. ICC statute says that “official capacity as a head of state or government, a member of a government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility”. It is because of this provision that the court, in 2023, was able to issue an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in Russia’s war with Ukraine. Like Russia, Israel, too, isn’t a member of the ICC. Thus, some are questioning if the ICC can issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders. The basis of ICC’s jurisdiction in this case is that Palestine is a state party to the court. Thus, the ICC can exercise what is known as territorial jurisdiction. This means that if a crime is committed on the territory of a state party to the ICC, the Court can exercise jurisdiction on that crime, even if it is committed by people belonging to a state that isn’t its member. Hence, the crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza fall within the Court’s jurisdiction. Similarly, Hamas’ conduct in Israel falls within the Court’s jurisdiction even though Israel isn’t a member of the ICC. There is generally a long road from requesting an arrest warrant to actual prosecution. The ICC’s track record is not quite encouraging, especially regarding heads of states. Take the example of Omar al-Bashir, former Sudanese President. ICC issued an arrest warrant against him way back in 2009. At the time, he was the president of Sudan. In 2019, he was ousted from office in a military coup. However, he has still not surrendered to the court. Likewise, while the arrest warrant against Putin has undoubtedly limited his international travels, his surrender to the ICC seems unlikely. Source: Indian Express MINING IN THE ARAVALLI RANGE Syllabus Mains – GS 3 Context: The Supreme Court has stopped the issuance of new mining licenses and renewals for existing ones in the Aravalli ranges and hills based on a report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI). Background: “The court made it clear that its order should not be construed as a ban on legal mining activities carried out through valid permits and licences.” The Aravalli Range: The Aravallis are one of the oldest fold residual mountains of the world comprised primarily of folded rock strata. This formation resulted from the convergence of tectonic plates during the Proterozoic Era (2500-541 million years ago) The Forest Survey of India (FSI) report, defined the Aravallis to include the hills and a uniform 100-meter-wide buffer zone around the downsides of the hills. They have an elevation of 300m to 900m. The mountains are divided into two main ranges – the Sambhar Sirohi Range and the Sambhar Khetri Range in Rajasthan. Guru Shikhar Peak on Mount Abu is the highest peak in the Aravalli Range (1,722 m). Major tribal communities include the Bhil, Bhil-Meena, Meena, Garasia, and others. The Supreme Court in 2009 ordered a complete ban on mining in the Aravalli hills of Faridabad, Gurgaon, and Nuh districts of Haryana. Significance of the Aravalli Range: It provides habitat to 300 native plant species, 120 bird species, and many exclusive animals like the jackal and mongoose. It acts as a barrier between the fertile plains in the east and the Thar desert in the west. The excessive mining in the Aravalli Range is linked to the spread of the Thar Desert. The presence of loess, a desert windblown sediment, found in Mathura and Agra suggests that the desert is expanding due to the weakened ecological barrier created by the degraded Aravalli Hills. It plays a significant role in shaping the climate of northwest India. During the monsoon season, these mountains act as a climatic barrier, guiding moisture-laden south-westerly winds towards Shimla and Nainital. This, in turn, helps nourish the sub-Himalayan rivers and contributes to the rainfall that replenishes the vast north Indian plains. In the winter months, it protects the fertile alluvial river valleys from the cold westerly winds from Central Asia. Issues/Concerns Related to the Mining in the Aravalli Range: Mining activities break and destroy Aravalli ecosystems, displacing wildlife like leopards, hyenas, and various bird species. This disrupts food chains and ecological balance. Mining in Rajasthan’s ecologically sensitive areas has threatened the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard, a critically endangered bird species. The Aravallis acts as a natural water reservoir. Mining disrupts natural water flow and table recharge, leading to water scarcity downstream, and impacting agriculture and human settlements. A 2018 research paper noted a decline in spring recharge due to mining in Haryana. Mining activities generate dust and release harmful pollutants like silica, affecting air quality and causing respiratory problems in nearby communities. Mining removes vegetation cover, exposing the soil to erosion. Wind and rain wash away fertile topsoil, leading to desertification. A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) revealed a 37% decline in forest cover in the Aravalli region of Haryana between 2001 and 2016, likely linked to mining activities. Source: Hindu Practice MCQs Daily Practice MCQs Q1.) Consider the following statements with respect to Trade Deficit A rising trade deficit can cause the country’s currency to appreciate. Reducing a trade deficit involves a combination of increasing exports and decreasing imports. A trade deficitis also referred to as a negative balance of trade. How many of the statements given above are correct? Only one Only two All three None Q2.) Consider the following statements about International Criminal Court Russia & Israel are not members of the ICC. It was established in 2002 pursuant to the multilateralRome Statute. It is also known as the world court. How many of the statements given above are correct? Only one Only two All three None Q3.) Consider the following statements about Sensex and NIFTY The Sensex is reconstituted biannually. Sensex constitutes 30 companies trading on the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE). Which among the statements given above is/are correct? 1 only 2 only Both 1 & 2 Neither 1 nor 2 Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!! ANSWERS FOR ’  28th  May 2024 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st ANSWERS FOR  27th May – Daily Practice MCQs Answers- Daily Practice MCQs Q.1) – c Q.2) – a Q.3) – c