Daily Current Affairs : 18th September 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Global biofuel alliance
  2. GDP and Per capital income
  3. Why Nipah virus outbreaks happens only in Kerala
  4. UNESCO World Heritage Site
  5. UNSC Reforms
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Global Biofuel Alliance

Context: On September 10, on the sidelines of the annual G-20 summit in New Delhi, an India-led grouping came together to give impetus to the production and use of biofuels, an alternative to fossil fuels like petroleum and diesel. The grouping, called the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) would attempt to bring countries together to co-develop, accelerate technological advances in production processes, and advocate for the use of biofuels particularly in the transport sector. The three founding members, India, the U.S. and Brazil, were joined by Argentina, Canada, Italy and South Africa, who are also G-20 member countries. 

What are biofuels?  

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines biofuels as “liquid fuels derived from biomass and used as an alternative to fossil fuel based liquid transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels.” 

Are biofuels an alternative to fossil fuels?  

  • Experts in the field make a distinction between biofuels and sustainable biofuels. The former is derived from crops grown specifically to produce biofuels such as sugarcane, corn, or soybean, and the latter is from agricultural waste, used cooking oil and processed animal residues like fats. 
  • The former is colloquially referred to as 1G ethanol, or first-generation biofuel, and the latter as 2G, that is second-generation.  
  • This distinction has now come into sharp focus as climate change accelerates, with fears of threat to food security and increased loss of forests and biodiversity due to greater land required for farming.  
  • Estimates suggest that well over half of all vegetated land is under cultivation today, and that agriculture is one of the world’s largest carbon emitters. The GBA has emphasised that its focus would be to develop 2G ethanol. 

Why is there a renewed focus on biofuels?  

  • With severe disruptions to global crude oil supplies following the Ukraine war, several countries have been scrambling to find alternatives to the import dependence on petrol and diesel. 
  •  India, for instance, imports 87% of its crude oil, and it is the main reserve currency expenditure for the country. With transport accounting for about one-quarter of global carbon emissions, there have been renewed attempts to accelerate the decarbonising of this sector, with several countries announcing battery production and electric vehicle (EV) policies and legacy automakers entering the now thriving EV sector. 
  •  But some modes of transport like aviation, shipping and long-haul trucking will find it harder to reduce carbon emissions than say, self-driven cars or motorbikes. It is here that some experts feel that 2G ethanol could be a valuable substitute. 

Do biofuels aid energy transition?

  • Most biofuels today are blended with petrol or diesel at varying degrees. For instance, India blends about 10% of biofuels and has plans to double this in the coming years. 
  •  While some experts feel that accelerating EV adoption and developing alternatives like green hydrogen must be the focus of the ongoing energy transition, others argue that 2G ethanol would soften the impending disruption. 
  •  It would do so by allowing to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions even while stretching the life of internal combustion engines, giving time for automakers to develop robust alternatives, while increasing farmers’ incomes and providing jobs. 

What happens next?

  • The three founding members of the GBA produce 85% of global biofuels and consume about 81% of it.  
  • In line with the renewed push to enhance biofuel use and production, the U.S. announced its latest amended ”Renewable Fuel Standard” to substantially increase the production of biofuels and substitute about 1,40,000 barrels per day of crude oil imports by 2025.  
  • Similarly, India had announced the setting up of 12 new refineries as early as 2018 with the aim to meet 20% ethanol blending by 2025. This becomes even more significant following India’s announcement to become net zero (removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as human activity emits) by 2070.  
  • The IEA predicts that about two-thirds of the global biofuel demand will come from three emerging economies – India, Brazil and Indonesia, and that they have “ample domestic feedstocks, additional production capacity, relatively low production costs and a package of policies they can leverage to increase demand.” However, it remains to be seen if this would indeed hasten decarbonising of the energy sector. 

2 . GDP and Per capital income 

Context: While India becoming the fifth-largest economy in the world is an ‘impressive achievement,’ there is a need to grow fast to increase the per capita income from the present levels, former Reserve Bank of India Governor C Rangarajan said on Saturday. 

About GDP and Per capita

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is the standard measure of the value added created through the production of goods and services in a country during a certain period
  • Per capita income is a measure of the amount of money earned per person in a nation or geographic region.
  • In terms of GDP, India is the fifth largest economy after US, China, Japan and Germany. On the other hand, in 2020, India’s rank with respect to per capita income was 142 out of 197 countries.  

Key differences

  • The per capita income reflects the economic output of the country per person. On the other hand, national income is the total income of normal residents of a nation during a financial year. 
  • While the former is related to macroeconomics, as macroeconomics is the study of aggregates. The latter is related to microeconomics, as microeconomics is the study of individual units. 
  • National Income is an absolute concept. Whereas Per Capita Income is a relative concept. 
  • The National Income of the country increases when there is optimum utilization of the country’s factors of production. Conversely, Per Capita Income increases when the national income grows at a higher rate than the growth in the population of the country. 
  • National Income is a true indicator of the Nation’s Economic Performance in a financial year. On the other hand, Per Capita Income plays a significant role in the measurement of the Human Development Index. HDI is an index that measures the improvement in the basic aspects of human development. These aspects are long and healthy life, a good standard of living and being knowledgeable. 

Importance of the concepts

  • GDP is an accurate indicator of the output of an economy, and the GDP growth rate is probably the single best indicator of economic growth. 
  • GDP enables policymakers and central banks to judge whether the economy is contracting or expanding and promptly take necessary action. 
  • It also allows policymakers, economists, and businesses to analyze the impact of variables such as monetary and fiscal policy, economic shocks, and tax and spending plans. 
  • Per capita income is used to determine the average per-person income for an area and to evaluate the standard of living and quality of life of the population. 
  • Per capita income is also useful in assessing an area’s affordability. It can be used in conjunction with data on real estate prices, for instance, to help determine if average homes are out of reach for the average family. 
  • Businesses can also use per capita income when considering opening a store in a town or region. If a town’s population has a high per capita income, the company might have a better chance at generating revenue from selling their goods since the people would have more spending money versus a town with a low per capita income. 

 3 . Why Nipah virus outbreaks happens only in Kerala

Context: The zoonotic virus Nipah, which claimed 17 lives in 2018 when Kerala witnessed its first outbreak, has returned to the state for the fourth time in the last five years. Six cases have so far been detected in 2023, all in the north Kerala district of Kozhikode. 

Why does Kerala, particularly Kozhikode, see repeated infections of Nipah? 

  • This can be explained in two ways. In the 2018 outbreak, it was proven that bats in the Kozhikode area have the Nipah virus.  
  • Then, the same strain of the virus was isolated from all cases, showing that bats are the source of infection. This could be one reason for the repeated presence of the virus.  
  • At the same time, there is data that shows the presence of the virus in bats in other states as well. One reason why other states are not reporting Nipah could be because they don’t have a higher index of suspicion and nobody has tested samples for Nipah.  
  • But in Kerala, even when they are slightly suspicious (that there might be an infection), they take all precautions, collect samples and identify cases. they have been diagnosing cases whenever suspicious or come across unusual findings. It’s possible that this is not happening in other states. 

Could the higher cases be the result of fruit bats in Kerala being a reservoir of the virus? 

  • All fruit bats in India are reservoirs of the Nipah virus. There is data to show that except certain parts of Kashmir, all Indian states have bats with the presence of the virus.  
  • But there is lack of scientific data on whether fruit bats in Kerala have a higher density of the virus in their bodies. 
  • No documents are available comparing the density of the virus across bats in various regions. So, one can say that Kerala is suspecting more, testing more and identifying more cases. 
  • As per a 2021 study, Nipah virus was found to be in circulation in fruit bats (Pteropus species) in “many districts” in Kerala. An ongoing nationwide survey in 14 States by NIV Pune has found Nipah virus antibodies in fruit bats (Pteropus medius) in nine States, including Kerala, and the Union Territory of Pondicherry. 

Why is Kerala ‘suspecting’ more cases? 

  • There are many reasons for this. The health care system in Kerala is more developed, people here are more aware and more demanding. 
  • When a disease is not diagnosed, people here start questioning the clinician. That puts pressure on the treating clinicians. 
  •  Public awareness, dedication of health care professionals and health care infrastructure put together help us diagnose cases. 

4 . UNESCO World Heritage Site

Context: Santiniketan, a town established by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, made it to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Sunday. Located in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, Santiniketan, which means “abode of peace”, started taking shape in 1901 and is the place where Tagore laid the foundations of Visva-Bharati University.

About the news

  • The dossier by the Culture Ministry proposing Santiniketan’s inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List points out that the “place exhibits an important interchange in human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design”. 
  • The nomination for UNESCO recognition included a dossier that emphasized Shantiniketan’s close association with Rabindranath Tagore’s life, work, and vision. It highlighted the institution’s commitment to global cooperation, care for people and the environment, and its embrace of a modern Asian style.
  • The dossier also highlighted the community of intellectuals, teachers, artists, and skilled individuals who collaborated at Shantiniketan, fostering a unique style in architecture, art, product design, and town planning
  • Shantiniketan’s approach to art education was compared to influential art movements of the past, such as Bauhaus, German expressionism, and Mingei in Japan. While these movements valued craftsmanship and creativity, Shantiniketan’s approach was more human-centred and open to diverse influences.
  • To secure UNESCO recognition, India submitted a plan of action to demonstrate its commitment to preserving and protecting the site. The property, spanning 36 hectares, will be conserved and protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), with a buffer zone of 537 hectares also regulated by the ASI to prevent construction activities.
  • The journey to UNESCO recognition involved years of research, with much of the groundwork laid in the previous 2010 dossier.

About Santiniketan:

  • Shantiniketan (Sanskrit: “The Abode of Peace”) began as Shantiniketan Ashram, a meditation centre founded and endowed in 1863 by Maharishi Debendranath, the father of the world-famous Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore in turn established the Brahmo Vidyalaya (school) and in 1901 another open-air laboratory school. By 1921 the latter had expanded into Vishva-Bharati University, which sought a basis for a common fellowship between the cultures of East and West

Contributions of Rabindranath Tagore

  • Bengal Partition : The Bengal Partition took place on October 16 in 1905 and this sparked a nationwide protest. The Indian National Congress had started the Swadeshi Movement where Indians denounced all British items and use all native items. Rabindranath Tagore wrote the song Banglar Mati Banglar Jol (Soil of Bengal, Water of Bengal) to unite the Bengali population. He started the Rakhi Utsav where people from Hindu and Muslim communities tied colourful threads on each other’s wrists. In 1911, the two parts of Bengal were reunited.
  • Going Against Conventional Education – Tagore was against conventional classroom education. He believed that interaction with nature is essential for learning. On December 29, 1918, Tagore laid the foundation stone of Visva Bharati University. He remodelled education as a holistic development process where teachers would be more like mentors guiding students towards emotional, intellectual and spiritual upliftment. He invested his Nobel Prize money in building the campus and a town in Bolpur, West Bengal. He named the place as Shantiniketan, the abode of peace. His educational reforms are included in many curriculae across the world.
  • Renouncing Knighthood : The British were overwhelmed by the genius of Tagore. A lot of his works were translated before the First World War. After the war ended, Tagore was offered the knighthood by the royalty. But this was the time when Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. Tagore renounced the title as a protest against the brutal genocide by the British military.
  • Tagore as a poet : Tagore owns the title Viswa Kavi or poet of the world because of his universal ideology. At a time when India was struggling to find the right language of freedom movement, Tagore advocated the idea of global integrity and that the man himself is a gateway to the world. The identity of India after independence was closely based on Tagore’s ideology of peace and universal brotherhood.
  • National Anthems Of India And Bangladesh : He is the only person, who has written the national anthems of two countries. The national anthem of India (Jana Gana Mana…) that was originally composed as Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata in Bengali by him was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India as the national anthem on January 24, 1950. The national anthem of Bangladesh (Amar Sonar Bangla…) was written in 1905 by Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Famous Literary Work : Rabindranath Tagore is known for several evergreen works. Some important ones being: ‘Ghare Baire’. Gitanjali, his collection of poems, won him Nobel Literature Prize in 1913 and the first edition had an introduction by WB Yeats.

About world heritage Sites  

  • World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).   
  • World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific, or other forms of significance. The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”  
  •  As of August 2022, a total of 1,154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) exist across 167 countries. With 58 selected areas, Italy is the country with the most sites on the list.  

Criteria for UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 

  • Human creative genius. 
  • Interchange of values. 
  • Testimony to cultural tradition. 
  • Significance in human history. 
  • Traditional human settlement. 
  • Heritage associated with events of universal significance. 
  • Natural phenomena or beauty. 
  • Major stages of Earth’s history. 
  • Significant ecological and biological processes. 
  • The significant natural habitat for biodiversity 

Types of World Heritage Sites Cultural, Natural and Mixed sites 

  • Cultural heritage sites include hundreds of historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting.  
  • Natural heritage sites are restricted to those natural areas that (1) furnish outstanding examples of Earth’s record of life or its geologic processes, (2) provide excellent examples of ongoing ecological and biological evolutionary processes, (3) contain natural phenomena that are rare, unique, superlative, or of outstanding beauty, or (4) furnish habitats for rare or endangered animals or plants or are sites of exceptional biodiversity. 
  • Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance. 

UNESCO world Heritage sites in India  

  • As of 2023, there are 41 World Heritage Sites located in India. Out of these, 33 are cultural, 7 are natural, and one, the Khangchendzonga National Park, is of mixed type.   
  • India has the sixth largest number of sites in the world. The first sites to be listed were the Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Agra Fort, and Taj Mahal, all of which were inscribed in the 1983 session of the World Heritage Committee.   
  • The most recent site listed was Dholavira and kakatiya temple at Warrangal, in 2021, and Santiniketan in 2023. 
  • Number of UNESCO sites in West Bengal is now 3- Darjeeling Railways, Subderbans National Park and Santiniketan.  
  • One site is transnational, The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier is shared with six other countries.  
  • In addition, India has 49 sites on its tentative list. 

5 . UNSC Reforms

Context: Presenting a strong case for a permanent seat for India in the UN Security Council, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Sunday that the UN should be prepared for “reform” in this regard. 

What is UNSC?  

  • The United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with ensuring international peace and security, recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly, and approving any changes to the UN Charter  
  • It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.  
  • UNSC has five permanent members- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (P5)  that enjoy veto power

Power and Functions of the UNSC  

  • to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;  
  • to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;  
  • to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;  
  • to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;  
  • to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;  
  • to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;  
  • to take military action against an aggressor;  
  • to recommend the admission of new Members;  
  • to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;  
  • to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.  

Background on Security Council Reform 

  • The UN General Assembly began debating Security Council reform in 1993 where several models were put forward as viable options and several countries have put themselves forward as candidates for permanent membership. 

Need for UNSC reforms 

  • The Security Council is not representative of the geopolitical realities of the modern world
  • Both Africa and Latin America lack a permanent seat on the Council, while Europe  is overrepresented and Asia is underrepresented
  • The Need to Ensure the Effectiveness of the Security Council- As the roles of the Security Council become diversified, including non-proliferation and peacebuilding, it has become essential and urgent that the Council is transformed into a body which can ensure the universal implementation of its decisions.  
  • Increase in the Number of Member States- When the UN was established in 1945, there were 51 Member States. Now, there are 193 Member States, nearly four times the original number. In comparison, the size of the Security Council membership increased once in 1965, from 11 to 15 members, through an increase in the number of non-permanent seats.  
  • Misuse of Veto Power:- Furthermore, the veto powers enjoyed by the P5 members have been criticized for stalling the governing capacity of the UNSC. Oftentimes, the permanent members have been accused of misusing their veto to suit their national agendas at the detriment of global security.  For instance, Russia vetoed many resolutions condemning its actions in Ukraine, USA has used it nearly 20 times over Israel-Palestine issue, China has deployed it as a diplomatic weapon against India to ‘safeguard’ terrorists, and the like. 

Proposed UNSC reform by G4 

  • The G4 (Brazil, India, Japan and Germany) has proposed expanding UNSC membership from 15 to 25 by adding six permanent members and four non-permanent members, with the objective of the G4 obtaining permanent membership.  
  • The G-4 countries have agreed to forego their right to the veto for at least 15 years
  • The G4 countries agreed to work with other reform-minded countries and groups to start text-based negotiations (TBN) without delay and seek concrete outcomes during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. 
  • G4 nations have called for representation of Africa in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership of a reformed and expanded Security Council to correct the historical injustice against this continent with regard to its under-representation in the Security Council. 
  • G4 Ministers reiterated support for each other’s membership to the UNSC given the capacity and willingness to take on major responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security. 

India’s stand on UNSC reforms 

  • India has been spearheading decades-long efforts to reform the Security Council.  
  • India has always maintained that the UNSC was set up in 1945and now it does not reflect contemporary realities of the 21st century and is ill-equipped to handle current challenges. 
  • India has widespread support for its permanent membership, including by four of the five permanent members of the Security Council – the US, the UK, France and Russia. 

Benefits for India 

  • If the UNSC reforms and India gets a permanent seat then it will have the veto power and greater say in matters that are of consequential importance. 
  • India can protect its interests and force Pakistan to stop supporting terror elements and let non-state actors use its soil for terrorist actions. 
  • With increase n regional representation India will be in a better position to stop western forces from promoting their vested interests. 

On what basis is India demanding a permanent seat?  

  • First and foremost, India enjoys a long standing and deep historical relation with the UNSC as it was one of the founding members of the organization. The association, besides being long, has also been a meaningful one, wherein India has sent more than 2.5 lakh soldiers to the UN Peacekeeping forces. As of early 2022, Indian soldiers have served in 49 of the 71 global peacekeeping missions since 1948.   
  • Secondly, India is home to nearly one-sixth of the global population and is all set to become the most populous nation. A country representing 1.4 billion people undisputedly deserves a spot at the top decision making table.  
  • Third, India has demonstrated its skills as a responsible world leader, and holds the distinction of being a Nuclear Weapon State, just like the P5 members. Its adherence to the ‘No First Use policy’ and deterrence against non-nuclear states has exhibited India’s hard power. Against this backdrop, India has also emerged as an undisputed leader of the developing world.   
  • India’s stance of a strategic neutrality during the cold war, as evident in its lead to the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) as well as its ability to follow the Panchsheel principles of peace and tranquility, non interference, and non-aggression in foreign policy align closely with the values enshrined in the UN Charter.   
  • Further, India is among the world’s fastest growing economies and is the third largest globally in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Besides, India is also a repository of immense soft power which gives it a moral high ground, in holding the distinction of being the world’s largest democracy.  
  • It is in this regard, that four of the five permanent members too have, time and again, voiced their support for India’s permanent membership at the UNSC.   
  • India, being the most populous country, deserves recognition. 

What is blocking India’s permanent membership?  

  • Expansion of the UNSC is a difficult feat to achieve owing to the watertight rules of the UN Charter. Any amendment requires approval from two-thirds of all members and has to dodge the veto by any of the five permanent members.   
  • In this light, China has been at the forefront of vetoing against India’s attempt at acquiring a permanent seat.   
  • Some nations have vociferously opposed India’s bid and questioned the basis on which it has laid claim for a permanent seat. It is argued that despite being a nuclear state, India has refused to sign the Non-proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  
  • Further, it is contested that India is still heavily reliant on military imports from the US and Russia and is yet to display its military might beyond the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, as per a 2022 assessment by the UN’s Committee on Contributions, India’s fund contributions to the organization stand at $29.9 million, which is significantly lower of the contributions made by the P5 or even Germany, which contributed $175 million.   
  • India’s soft power influence has also been scrutinized. It has been pointed out that despite economic growth, India continues to perform poorly on human development indicators and is even behind its immediate neighbors, which are smaller economies, in the Human Development Index. Its poor performance on socio-economic and other relevant indicators including press freedom, happiness index etc. have raised doubts.   
  • In fact, a group of 12 countries in 1995 formed the Uniting for Consensus, dubbed as the Coffee Club, to jointly oppose the expansion, which they contend will dilute the power. These include Italy, Spain, Malta, San Marino, Pakistan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica & Turkey.   

So has there been any international progress on UNSC expansion?  

  • In 1997, then UN General Assembly President Ismail Razali proposed a plan to enlarge the UNSC from the present 15 (5 permanent and 10 non permanent) seats to 24 (5 more permanent and 4 more non permanent seats). However, this plan proposed to have 5 new permanent memberships without the veto powers.   
  • This plan proved divisive, wherein on the one hand, it garnered strong support from primarily the global south, including India, but also faced stiff opposition from others. It later formed the basis of the 2005 Kofi Annan plan under the aegis of the General Assembly Task Force on Security Council Reform, but failed to fructify.   
  • Over the years, several multilateral groupings of concerned nations have emerged that seek a reform of the global body. The L69 group of nations, which includes 42 member countries from across Asia, Africa and Latin America is one such grouping.   
  • India also joined Brazil, Japan, and Germany to form the G4 group of countries, who collectively stake claim for a permanent seat and even support each other’s quest for one.   
  • Most recently in 2016, India hopped on board the newly founded group of Friends on UN Security Council Reform, created to accelerate the negotiating process for reforms.  
  • Against this backdrop, in 2015, the 193 member-United Nations adopted a “historic” consensus resolution in its 69th General Assembly on September 14 to constitute a Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) to a Text-Based Negotiations (TBN) process for reforming the UNSC.  

Opposition to Reforms 

  • The P5 generally opposes any expansion of membership of the Council that would diminish their power though they occasionally support some countries bids. As negotiations are currently stalled over membership expansion, P5 countries have supported bids for membership by some countries. Most recently, the US gave its support to India. France has backed Africa for a permanent seat. 
  • Uniting for Consensus (UFC) is a movement, nicknamed the Coffee Club, that developed in the 1990s in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council. Under the leadership of Italy, it aims to counter the bids for permanent seats proposed by G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan) and is calling for a consensus before any decision is reached on the form and size of the Security Council. 
  • India is demanding a permanent seat in the UNSC and its case is being supported by four of the five permanent members of the Security Council – USA, UK, France and Russia. India is facing opposition only from China. Pakistan’s is also opposing India’s stand. 
  • Italy and Spain are opposed to Germany’s bid for UNSC’s permanent membership 
  • Argentina is against Brazil’s bid 
  • Australia is opposing Japan. 

6 . Facts for Prelims

 Bharatiya Games programme

  • The Indian Knowledge System (IKS) division of the Education Ministry is in the process of implementing the first ‘Bharatiya Games’ initiative in schools throughout the country. 
  • The programme envisages introducing indigenous games in schools.
  • As a part of implementing this initiative, schools would need to appoint a physical education teacher as a point of contact who would oversee the development of annual and monthly training programmes for students. 
  • In addition to this, the physical education teacher would also need to monitor the learning graph of the students in various indigenous games. 
  • The larger aim of the initiative is to ensure the inclusivity of the students living in the countryside where sports infrastructure is poor. 
  • In the first phase, the initiative would be implemented across 1,000 schools throughout the country which will gradually extend to all the schools. In this regard, IKS has also collaborated with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and various state-level nodal sports authorities. 
  •  In the first phase, 12 outdoor games like Lagori (Pittu), Nondi, Nadee Parvat, Jod Saakli, Nalugu Rallu Atta, Cheel Jhapatta, Vish-Amrit, Gilli Danda, Gella Chatt, Atya Paty, Kabaddi, and Pacha Kuthirai would be introduced. 

 TrailGuard AI camera-alert system

  • TrailGuard AI is used as a security system for national parks to detect, stop, and arrest poachers.
  • The technology also helps improve intelligence on poaching and related illicit networks, helping authorities crack down on illegal wildlife trade.
  • Small enough to conceal along trails, TrailGuard AI’s camera head uses artificial intelligence to detect humans within the images and relays pictures containing humans back to park headquarters via GSM, long-range radio, or satellite networks.
  •  TrailGuard AI camera-alert systems are slim devices that can be inconspicuously set up within the foliage of trees.  Shaped like a pen, 13.8 cm long and 1.4 cm wide, it is wired to another ‘communications’ unit, the size of a notepad.  The system has embedded software that can be instructed to take pictures of specific species of interest. 
  • The TrailGuard system can be set to specifically capture humans or species of interest — lions, tigers, cheetahs. If the camera is located at a place within the range of cellphone towers, it can send pictures within 30 seconds. If it is out of this range, it can rely on a longer protocol that can take from 3-10 minutes. 
  • The TrailGuard AI camera-alert system was recently installed at the Kanha-Pench corridor in Madhya Pradesh has come in handy for wildlife officials 


  • The bumblebee (Bombus) is a genus of bees considered to be especially important for the pollination of crops in the cold and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere 
  • This genus is the only extant group in the tribe Bombini, though a few extinct related genera (e.g., Calyptapis) are known from fossils. 
  • Most bumblebees are social insects that form colonies with a single queen. The colonies are smaller than those of honey bees, growing to as few as 50 individuals in a nest. 
  • There are three bumble bees classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN, tow of ‘Least Concern’, and a further species that is of ‘Least Concern’ in North America and Europe, but classified as ‘Data Deficient’ overall, due to a lack of information from Asi

 Amigurumi dolls

  • Amigurumi  is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. 
  • Amigurumi vary in size and there are no restrictions about size or look. 
  • Amigurumi may be used as children’s toys but are generally purchased or made solely for aesthetic purposes. 
  • Amigurumi can be worked as one piece or, more usually, in sections which are sewed or crocheted together. In crochet, amigurumi are typically worked in spiral rounds to prevent “striping”, a typical feature of joining crochet rounds in a project.

Liptako – Gourma Charter

  • The military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger on Saturday, September 16, signed a mutual defense pact, ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries announced in Mali’s capital Bamako. 
  • The Liptako-Gourma Charter establishes the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). The pact is named after the region where the three country’s borders meet.
  • Its aim is to “establish an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations.” 
  • The Liptako-Gourma region – where the Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders meet – has been ravaged by jihadism in recent years. 

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