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Forest Fires continue to rage in Uttarakhand , Nainital worst hit

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Over 60 fresh cases of forest fire have been reported from different parts of Uttarakhand as temperatures continue to soar.
  • More than 900 hectares have been gutted in wildfire incidents.
  • Nainital district has been the worst hit with a total of 183 incidents.


What are the reasons behind forest fires?

Environmental causes are largely related to

  • Climatic conditions such as temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells.
  • Friction of bamboos swaying due to high wind velocity
  • Rolling stones that result in sparks setting off fires in highly inflammable leaf litter on the forest floor.

Human related causes result from human activity as well as methods of forest management.  These can be intentional or unintentional, for example:

  • graziers and gatherers of various forest products starting small fires to obtain good grazing grass as well as to facilitate gathering of minor forest produce like flowers of Madhuca indica and leaves of Diospyros melanoxylon
  • the centuries old practice of shifting cultivation (especially in the North-Eastern region of India and inparts of the States of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh).
  • the use of fires by villagers to ward off wild animals
  • fires lit intentionally by people living around forests for recreation
  • fires started accidentally by careless visitors to forests who discard cigarette butts.


Yuva Vigyani Karyakram : Yuvika

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched a special programme for School Children called “Young Scientist Programme” “YUva VIgyani KAryakram” (युिवका) from this year.
  • The Program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities.
  • ISRO has chalked out this programme to “Catch them young”. The residential training programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays and it is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ Union Territory to participate in this programme covering state, CBSE, and ICSE syllabus.
  • Those who have just finished 9th standard (in the academic year 2018-19) and waiting to join 10th standard (or those who have started 10th Std just now) will be eligible for the programme.


DNA database for Indian Rhino

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has embarked on a project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos in the country.
  • By 2021, the Indian rhino could be the first wild animal species in India to have all its members DNA – sequenced.
  • The proponents of the project include World WIldlife Fund for Nature – India (WWF – India) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII)
  • This exercise would help in curbing poaching and gathering evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos


About the Indian Rhino

  • It is also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros
  • It is designated vulnerable on the IUCN red list
  • The Indian rhinoceros once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, but excessive hunting and agricultural development reduced their range drastically to 11 sites in northern India and southern Nepal.
  • There are about 2,600 Rhinos in India with over 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. Other protected areas where they are present include – Jaldapara National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Orang National Park, Gorumora, Dudhwa National Park, Manas National Park and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary


Using AI to detect early stage diabetic retinopathy

Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Early stage diabetic retinopathy has been detected using artificial intelligence at civic-run dispensaries.
  • This project is being implemented by Aditya Jyot Foundation for Twinkling Little Eyes (AJFTLE)
  • In a span of 8 months, nearly 1300 diabetic patients have been screened on a retinal imaging device attached to a smartphone.
  • This is a good step in a country like India where 73 million people are estimated to have diabetes and 25% out of these are at risk of diabetic retinopathy.


What is diabetic retinopathy?

  • Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects eyes. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina).
  • At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can cause blindness.
  • The condition can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop this eye complication.


CTBTO invites India to be an observer

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) invited India to be an observer at its meetings.
  • Being an observer would give India access to data from the International Monitoring System — a network which when complete will consist of 337 facilities (321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide labs) located in 89 countries. This system can detect even small nuclear explosions using seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound and radionuclide technology.


What is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)?

  • The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the Treaty banning all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone. The Treaty was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996
  • It curbs the development of new nuclear weapons and the improvement of existing nuclear weapon designs. When the Treaty enters into force it provides a legally binding norm against nuclear testing. The Treaty also helps prevent human suffering and environmental damages caused by nuclear testing.
  • The Treaty’s entry into force depends on 44 specific States  that must have signed and ratified the Treaty. These States had nuclear facilities at the time the Treaty was negotiated and adopted.
  • As of August 2011, 35 of these States have ratified the Treaty. Nine States still need to do so: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.  India, North Korea and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty.
  • The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization – The organization promotes the Treaty so that it can enter into force.  It also establishes a verification regime to monitor adherence to the Treaty.
  • The CTBT verification regime is a unique, comprehensive system, consisting of the International Monitoring System(IMS),  International Data Centre (IDC) and on-site inspections (OSI). It constantly monitors the planet for nuclear explosions and shares its findings with Member States (= the 182 States that have signed the Treaty).


CPI inflation reaches six-month high of 2.92% on food, fuel prices

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Retail inflation quickened to a six month high of 2.92% in April, driven in large part by accelerating food and fuel inflation.


What is Consumer Price Index?

  • Consumer Price Index is a measure of change in retail prices of goods and services consumed by defined population group in a given area with reference to a base year.
  • This basket of goods and services represents the level of living or the utility derived by the consumers at given levels of their income, prices and tastes.
  • The consumer price index number measures changes only in one of the factors; prices.
  • This index is an important economic indicator and is widely considered as a barometer of inflation, a tool for monitoring price stability and as a deflator in national accounts.
  • Consumer price index is used as a measure of inflation in around 157 countries.
  • The dearness allowance of Government employees and wage contracts between labour and employer is based on this index.
  • The formula for calculating Consumer Price Index is Laspeyre’s index
  • It is calculated by the Central Statistical Organization under the Ministry of Statistics and Project Implementation (MoSPI)
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started using CPI-combined as the sole inflation measure for the purpose of monetary policy.