Daily Current Affairs : 11th and 12th February

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Global Conservation List
  2. Intergrated Air Defence System
  3. Kota Rani
  4. Supercam
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . Global Conservation List


Context : India will be moving to include the Asian Elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list of species that merit heightened conservation measures. The list will be debated at the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Need to Include Asian Elephant and Great Indian Bustard

  • The elephant faces risks particularly in neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal
  • India is home to several migratory species of wildlife, including the snow leopard, Amur falcons, bar- headed geese, black-necked cranes, marine turtles, dugongs and hump-backed whales.
  • Having the elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list — more formally known as Appendix 1 — would coax countries neighbouring India, where wild animals such as tigers and elephant foray into, to direct more resources and attention to protecting them. There are now 173 species in the Appendix 1.

About Convention on Migratory Species

  • As an environmental treaty of the United Nations, CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.
  • CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
  • Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species.
  • Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional agreements.
  • In this respect, CMS acts as a framework Convention. The agreements may range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions. The development of models tailored according to the conservation needs throughout the migratory range is a unique capacity to CMS.

About COP 13 2020

  • As the host, India shall be designated the President for the next three years.
  • The theme of CMS COP 13 in India is, “Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home”.
  • The CMS COP 13 logo is inspired by ‘Kolam’, a traditional art form from southern India. In the logo, Kolam art form is used to depict key migratory species in India like Amur falcon, humpback whale and marine turtles.
  • The mascot for CMS COP13, “Gibi – The Great Indian Bustard” is a critically endangered species which has been accorded the highest protection status under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The Government of India is a signatory to the Convention on Conservation of Migratory wild Animals (CMS) since 1983. The Indian subcontinent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water bird species, including 29 globally threatened species.

2 . Integrated Air Defence System


Context : The U.S. Department of State has approved the potential sale of a $1.867 billion Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India.

About Integrated Air Defence System

  • Integrated Air Defence Weapon System, also known as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS), provides integrated air missile defence and is currently deployed around Washington, DC
  • The IADWS system includes radar, launchers, targeting, and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles, and related equipment and support,” the spokesperson said.
  • The government had asked to buy an IADWS comprised of five AN/MPQ-64Fl Sentinel radar systems; 118 AMRAAM AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles; three AMRAAM Guidance Sections; four AMRAAM Control Sections and 134 Stinger FIM-92L missiles, as per a statement from the State Department.
  • Also included are 32 M4A1 rifles; 40,320 M855 5.56mm cartridges; Fire Distribution Centres (FDC); Handheld Remote Terminals; Electrical Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Sensor Systems; AMRAAM Non-Developmental Item-Airborne Instrumentation Units (NDI-AIU); Multi-spectral Targeting System-Model A (MTS-A); Canister Launchers (CN); High Mobility Launchers (HML); Dual Mount Stinger (DMS) Air Defence Systems; Vehicle Mounted Stinger Rapid Ranger Air Defence System

3 . Kota Rani


Context : In their dossier on invoking the Public Safety Act (PSA) against top Jammu & Kashmir politicians, the state police have referred to former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as “Kota Rani” — a mediaeval queen of Kashmir.

About Kota Rani

  • Kota Rani died in 1339, the last ruler of the Hindu Lohara dynasty that ruled Kashmir. She was the daughter of Ramachandra, prime minister of the then King Sahadeva.
  • In 1300, when Mongols invaded Kashmir, Sahadeva escaped to safety and his prime minister Ramachandra took refuge in a fort near Sonamarg. The Mongol leader Zulchu conquered Kashmir but could not hold it for long; while leaving ahead of winter, he died in a snowstorm in the Pir Panjal mountains.
  • Historical accounts say that after Zulchu’s death, Ramachandra tried to claim the throne and was rivalled by Rinchan — a Buddhist prince from Ladakh — and Shah Mir, a Swat resident and the founder of Kashmir’s Shahmiri dynasty. It was Rinchan who occupied the throne and killed Ramachandra. Rinchan married Ramachandra’s daughter Kota Rani.
  • It is said that under the influence of Kota Rani, Rinchan wanted to convert to Shaivite Hinduism. Eventually, however, he is said to have converted to Islam, becoming Sadr-ud-din, while Kota Rani held on to her Hindu beliefs.
  • After Rinchan’s death, Kota Rani chose not to enthrone her son Haider and instead invited Udayanadeva, brother of King Sahadeva, to take over. Kota then married Udayanadeva.
  • Some years later, Kashmir was invaded again and Udayanadeva fled to Ladakh. Kota Rani stood her ground and, together with Shah Mir, defended Kashmir. When Udayanadeva returned to Kashmir, Kota Rani re-installed him as king.
  • It is said that Shah Mir too asked for Kota’s hand in marriage. According to some records, she didn’t accept the proposal, while other records claim that she did marry Shah Mir. In one historical record, it is said that Kota Rani married Shah Mir and could have tried to assassinate him on the wedding night.
  • After Udayanadeva’s death, Kota sidelined her sons — Haider from Rinchan and Bolaratan from Udayanadeva — and assumed power. She made Bikhshana Bhatta her prime minister, who was reportedly killed by an upset Shah Mir.

4 . Supercam


Context : In its mission to Mars this summer, NASA is sending a new laser-toting robot as one of seven instruments aboard the Mars 2020 rover.

About Supercam

  • SuperCam, the robot is used for studying mineralogy and chemistry from up to about 7 metres away. It might help scientists find signs of fossilised microbial life on Mars.
  • SuperCam packs what would typically require several sizable pieces of equipment into something no bigger than a cereal box. It fires a pulsed laser beam out of the rover’s mast to vaporise small portions of rock from a distance, providing information that will be essential to the mission’s success.
  • NASA lists five things to know
    • From more than 7 m away, SuperCam can fire a laser to study rock targets smaller than a pencil point. That lets the rover study spots it can’t reach with its arm.
    • SuperCam looks at rock textures and chemicals to find those that formed or changed in water on Mars long ago.
    • SuperCam looks at different rock and “soil” types to find ones that could preserve signs of past microbial life on Mars — if any ever existed.
    • For the benefit of future explorers, SuperCam identifies which elements in the Martian dust may be harmful to humans.
    • Scientists can learn about how atmospheric molecules, water ice, and dust absorb or reflect solar radiation. This helps predict Martian weather better.
  • SuperCam includes a microphone so scientists can listen each time the laser hits a target. The popping sound created by the laser subtly changes depending on a rock’s material properties.
  • The Mars 2020 rover marks the third time this particular microphone design will go to the Red Planet. In the late 1990s, the same design rode aboard the Mars Polar Lander, which crashed on the surface. In 2008, the Phoenix mission experienced electronics issues that prevented the microphone from being used.

5 . Facts for Prelims


Il-76MDK

  • The Il-76MDK is an Ilyushin-78 military transport plane specially re-designed for parabolic flights of trainee astronauts and space tourists

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