Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Aubrite Meteor
- Underwater noise emissions (UNE)
- Chatrapati Shivaji
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Aubrite Meteor
Context: On August 17, 2022, a meteorite streaked over India, breaking apart as it descended through the air, to scatter over two villages in Banaskantha, Gujarat. An analysis by a group of scientists at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad has revealed that the meteorite is a “rare, unique specimen” of aubrite.
What is meteorite?
- A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an object, such as a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid, that originates in outer space and survives its passage through the atmosphere to reach the surface of a planet or moon.
What is the difference between a meteor, a meteorite, a meteoroid and an asteroid?
- An asteroid is a relatively small body, usually rocky or metallic, composed of dirt and ice. Small asteroids are also called meteoroids. When an asteroid or meteoroid enters the atmosphere and streaks through the sky, it then becomes known as a meteor. Anything that survives the impact is a meteorite.
- Meteorites that are recovered after being observed as they transit the atmosphere and impact the Earth are called meteorite falls. All others are known as meteorite finds.
What are the Types of meteorites?
- Meteorites have traditionally been divided into three broad categories :
- Stony meteorites that are rocks, mainly composed of silicate minerals;
- Iron meteorites that are largely composed of ferronickel; and
- Stony-iron meteorites that contain large amounts of both metallic and rocky material.
- Modern classification schemes divide meteorites into groups according to their structure, chemical and isotopic composition and mineralogy.
- “Meteorites” less than ~1 mm in diameter are classified as micrometeorites, however, micrometeorites differ from meteorites in that they typically melt completely in the atmosphere and fall to Earth as quenched droplets.
- Extra-terrestrial meteorites have been found on the Moon and on Mars.
What are the impacts of Meteorites?
- When the original object enters the atmosphere, various factors such as friction, pressure, and chemical interactions with the atmospheric gases cause it to heat up and radiate energy. It then becomes a meteor and forms a fireball, also known as a shooting star. Once it settles on the larger body’s surface, the meteor becomes a meteorite. Meteorites vary greatly in size. For geologists, a bolide is a meteorite large enough to create an impact crater.
What are the importance of meteorites?
- Some meteorites contain grains of dust (“stardust”) that were produced by stars before the formation of our Solar System. Studies of these pre solar grains can increase our understanding of star formation and evolution.
- The elements present in the meteorite gives an idea about the age and bulk chemical composition of the Solar System
- Meteorites may have brought to Earth the components necessary for life – organic compounds such as carboxylic acids, complex amino acids, aliphatic amines, acetic acid and formic acid can be transported great distances inside space rocks. Additionally, large meteorite impacts, like the one ~65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs, can lead to major extinctions and influence the course of life on our planet.
What is Aubrite Meteorite?
- Aubrite meteorite is a coarse-grained igneous rock that formed in oxygen-poor conditions, and thus “contain a variety of exotic minerals that are not found on Earth.
- Aubrites are a type of achondritic (or achondrite) stony meteorite, which means they do not contain chondrules, or small spherical grains of mineral that are common in other types of meteorites.
- Worldwide, aubrites have crashed in at least 12 locations since 1836, including three in Africa and six in the U.S.
- Aubrites originate from an extremely reduced differentiated parent body in our solar system. They are named after the Aubres meteorite, which fell in France in 1836 and was the first known example of this type of meteorite.
- Worldwide, aubrites have crashed in at least 12 locations since 1836, including three in Africa and six in the U.S.
India and Aurbite Meteor
- The rare aubrite was uncovered earlier in India only in Bustee fall in 1852 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
- On August 17, 2022, the meteorites fell in Diyodar taluka in Gujarat. They have been named the Diyodar meteorites.
- As per reports, the villagers did not notice any trail but heard a booming sound, which reportedly resembled the noise of a jet plane passing by.
- One big fragment fell in Diyodar, while the other dropped in Ravel village.
- The villagers amassed the large pieces, which weighed around 200 grammes and passed them to scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory.
- Researchers conducted reflectance spectroscopy to examine pieces of the meteor, which was found to have magnesium-rich pyroxene.
- The team polished a few small chips (0.5–1.5 cm) from the larger fragment of the Diyodar meteorite to conduct chemical analysis.
- The examination showed that the meteorite is a unique specimen of aubrite, a rare achondrite batch of meteorites.
- Aubrites contain sulphides of sodium, titanium, manganese, chromium and calcium – all normal lithophiles. Over these, it also has silicon-bearing FeNi metal.
- They share a similar highly reduced nature, unusual mineralogy, and oxygen-isotopic composition with enstatite chondrites.
2 . Polio
Context: The West Bengal government announced that it was introducing an additional dose of injectable polio vaccine as part of the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) for children.
What is polio?
- Poliomyelitis is a crippling disease that results from infection with any one of the three related poliovirus types (referred to as types P1, P2, and P3), members of the enterovirus (picornavirus) family.
- Poliovirus is transmitted from one person to another by oral contact with secretions or faecal material from an infected person.
- Once viral reproduction is established in the mucosal surfaces of the nasopharynx, poliovirus can multiply in specialized cells in the intestines and enter the blood stream to invade the central nervous system, where it spreads along nerve fibres. When it multiplies in the nervous system, the virus can destroy nerve cells (motor neurons) which activate skeletal muscles. These nerve cells cannot regenerate, and the affected muscles lose their function due to a lack of nervous enervation – a condition known as acute flaccid paralysis (AFP).
- Typically, in patients with poliomyelitis muscles of the legs are affected more often than the arm muscles. More extensive paralysis, involving the trunk and muscles of the thorax and abdomen, can result in quadriplegia.
- In the most severe cases (bulbar polio), poliovirus attacks the motor neurons of the brain stem – reducing breathing capacity and causing difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Without respiratory support, bulbar polio can result in death. It can strike at any age, but affects mainly children under three (over 50% of all cases).
Types of Polio vaccine
- There is no cure for polio, but there are safe, effective vaccines which, given multiple times, protect a child for life. Two different kinds of vaccine are available:
- An inactivated (killed) polio vaccine (IPV) developed by Dr. Jonas Salk and first used in 1955, and
- A live attenuated (weakened) oral polio vaccine (OPV) developed by Dr. Albert Sabin and first used in 1961.
Inactivated (killed) polio vaccine
- IPV is produced from wild-type poliovirus strains of each serotype that have been inactivated (killed) with formalin. As an injectable vaccine, it can be administered alone or in combination with other vaccines (e.g., diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and haemophilus influenza). IPV provides serum immunity to all three types of poliovirus, resulting in protection against paralytic poliomyelitis.
Oral Polio vaccine
- OPV consists of a mixture of live attenuated poliovirus strains of each of the three serotypes, selected by their ability to mimic the immune response following infection with wild polioviruses, but with a significantly reduced incidence of spreading to the central nervous system. OPV strains also produce a local immune response in the lining (‘mucous membrane’) of the intestines – the primary site for poliovirus multiplication.
Polio eradication efforts in India
- Pulse Polio is an immunization campaign established by the government of India to eliminate poliomyelitis (polio) in India by vaccinating all children under the age of five years against the polio virus. The project fights polio through a large-scale, pulse vaccination programme and monitoring for poliomyelitis cases.
- In India, vaccination against polio started in around 1972 with Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). By 1999, it covered around 60% of infants, giving three doses of OPV to each.
- In 1985, the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) was launched to cover all the districts of the country. UIP became a part of child survival and safe motherhood program (CSSM) in 1992 and Reproductive and Child Health Program (RCH) in 1997 . This program led to a significant increase in coverage, up to 5%. The number of reported cases of polio also declined from thousands during 1987 to 42 in 2010.
- In 1995, following the Global Polio Eradication Initiative of the World Health Organization (1988), India launched Pulse Polio immunization program with Universal Immunization Program which aimed at 100% coverage.
- The last reported cases of wild polio in India were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011. On 27 March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared India a polio free country, since no cases of wild polio been reported in for five years
Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP)
- Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) is a vaccination programme launched by the Government of India in 1985. It became a part of Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme in 1992 and is currently one of the key areas under the National Rural Health Mission since 2005.
- The programme now consists of vaccination for 12 diseases- tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, hepatitis B, diarrhoea, Japanese encephalitis, rubella, pneumonia (haemophilus influenzae type B) and Pneumococcal diseases (pneumococcal pneumonia and meningitis). Hepatitis B and Pneumococcal diseases were added to the UIP in 2007 and 2017 respectively.
3 . Rhododendrons
Context: Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas are home to more than one-third of all types of rhododendrons found in India, reveals the latest publication of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). The publication titled ‘Rhododendrons of Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalaya- An Illustrated Account’ lists 45 taxa of rhododendrons (36 species, 1 subspecies, 1 variety, and 7 natural hybrids).
What are Rhododendrons?
- Rhododendron is a very large genus of about 1,024 species of woody plants in the heath family. They can be either evergreen or deciduous. Most species are native to eastern Asia and the Himalayan region, but smaller numbers occur elsewhere in Asia, and in North America, Europe and Australia.
- It is the national flower of Nepal, the state flower of Washington and West Virginia in the United States, the state flower of Nagaland in India, the provincial flower of Jiangxi in China and the state tree of Sikkim and Uttarakhand in India.
- There are 132 taxa (80 species, 25 subspecies and 27 varieties) of rhododendrons found in India. Arunachal Pradesh is home to the highest number with 119 taxa (74 species, 21 sub species and 24 varieties) of the Rhododendron. The small State of Sikkim is home to 42 taxa (25 species, 11 sub-species and six varieties) while 10 taxa are found in Manipur, four in Mizoram and 11 in Nagaland.
- Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas comprise only 0.3% of India’s geographical area but the region is home to one-third (34%) of all Rhododendron types. This highlights the ecological significance of the region as far as an indicator species like Rhododendron is concerned
- Only three taxa — Rhododendron arboretum nilagiricum found in south India and Rhododendron colletianum and Rhododendron rawatti from the western Himalayas are not found in the north-east.
- The cold, moist slopes and deep valleys of the eastern Himalayas form a conducive habitat for the luxuriant growth of Rhododendron species
- Rhododendrons were first recorded by Captain Hardwick in Jammu and Kashmir in 1776 where he spotted the Rhododendron arboreum. However, it was a visit by the British botanist Joseph D. Hooker to Sikkim between 1848 and 1850 that revealed the rhododendron wealth of the Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalayas.
What are the Uses of Rhododendron
- Rhododendrons are commonly used as an ornamental plant for gardens, plantations in the streets or vessels for its aesthetic value. Because of its numerous phytochemical potential, it is being utilized as a traditional remedy for different diseases.
- Flowers of this plant are traditionally utilized by the people residing in the mountainous region to make pickle, juice, jam, syrup, honey, squash, etc., and to treat various ailments like diarrhea, headache, inflammation, bacterial and fungal infections.
- Rhododendrons are indicator species as far as climate change is concerned and have a prominent place in the botanical history of the country. The flowering season starts in February and continues till April in the lower elevations while in the higher reaches, blooms appear in late May and continue till June. However, recently, flowering was found to begin as early as January for some species. “This is an indication that those areas are getting warmer and the phenology of rhododendrons can be an important indicator of climate change
What are the Threats?
- Of the 45 taxa documented by BSI, five are facing a high threat due to anthropological pressures and climate change.
- The Rhododendron edgeworthii, with white campanulate flowers, recorded a huge habitat decline in both Darjeeling and Sikkim. Rhododendron niveum, with big purple flowers, found in the Lachung area of north Sikkim is facing threats due to rampant constructions. Rhododendron baileyi, Rhododendron lindleyi and Rhododendron maddenii are also threatened.
4 . Underwater Noise Emissions
Context: The rising man-made (anthropogenic) underwater noise emissions (UNE) from ships in the Indian waters are posing a threat to the life of marine mammals like Bottlenose dolphin, Manatees, Pilot whale, Seal and Sperm whale.
What is Underwater Noise Pollution?
- UNP is intense human-generated noise in the marine environment. It is caused by use of explosives, oceanographic experiments, geophysical research, underwater construction, ship traffic, intense active sonars and air guns used for seismic surveys for oil and related activities
Why Underwater Noise pollution being a Problem?
- The main form of energy for multiple behavioural activities of marine mammals, which include mating, communal interaction, feeding, cluster cohesion and foraging, is based on sound.
- However, the sound that radiates from ships, on a long-term basis, affects them and results in internal injuries, loss of hearing ability, change in behavioural responses, masking, and stress. There are Acute and Chronic noise categories in the emissions.
- The UNE or underwater sound pressure levels in the Indian waters are 102-115 decibels, relative to one micro-Pascal (dB re 1Pa). The East Coast level (10 dB re 1Pa) is slightly higher than that of the West. There is an increase by a significant value of about 20 dB re 1Pa
- Continuous shipping movement is identified to be a major contributor to the increase in the global ocean noise level.
What are the solutions to the Underwater Noise Pollution problem?
- Some of the potential solutions include redesigning the propellers of vessels, changing their shipping routes, using lower-intensity seismic vibrations and employing acoustic bubble curtains in energy generation stations
5 . Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Context: Hailing Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for rebuilding the temples destroyed by the Mughals and other foreign invaders, Union Home Miniter Amit Shah said the restoration work that continued after Shivaji Maharaj is being taken forward by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Who is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?
- Shivaji was born in Shivner near Junnar. He was the son of Shahji Bhonsle by his first wife Jijabai. Shahji was a descendant of the Yadava rulers of Devagiri from his mother’s side and the Sisodias of Mewar on his father’s side.
- Shahji Bhonsle served under Malik Ambar (1548–1626), former slave, and the Abyssinian minister of Ahmed Shah of Ahmednagar. After the death of Malik Ambar, Shahji played a vital role in its politics. After the annexation of Ahmednagar by the Mughals, he entered the service of the Sultan of Bijapur.
- Shivaji and his mother were left under the care of Dadaji Kondadev who administered Shahji Bhonsle’s jagirs (land grants given in recognition of military or administrative services rendered) at Poona.
- Shivaji earned the goodwill of the Mavali peasants and chiefs, who were a martial people with knowledge about the hilly areas around Poona.
- Shivaji made himself familiar with the hilly areas around Poona. Religious heads, Ramdas and Tukaram, also influenced Shivaji. Ramdas was regarded by Shivaji as his guru.
Shivaji Military Conquests
- Shivaji began his military career at the age of nineteen. In 1646, he captured the fortress of Torna from the Sultan of Bijapur. The fort of Raigad, located five miles east of Torna, was captured and wholly rebuilt. After the death of Dadaji Kondadev in 1647, Shivaji took over all the jagirs of his father. Subsequently, the forts of Baramati, Indapura, Purandhar and Kondana came under his direct control. The Marathas had already captured Kalyan, an important town in that region.
- Shivaji’s father had been humiliated and imprisoned by the Sultan of Bijapur. He negotiated with Prince Murad, the Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan and expressed his wish to join Mughal service. The Sultan of Bijapur released Shahji in 1649 on some conditions. So, Shivaji refrained from his military activities from 1649 to 1655. During this period, he consolidated his power and toned up his administration.
- In 1656, Shivaji re-started his military activities. He captured Javli in the Satara district and the immense booty that he won made him popular among the Marathas. Many young men joined his army. A new fort, Pratapgarh, was built two miles west of Javli.
Confrontation against Bijapur
- After Mohammad Adilshah of Bijapur died in November 1656, Adilshah II, a young man of eighteen, succeeded him. Aurangzeb captured Bidar, Kalyani and Purandar in 1657. So, both Shivaji and the Bijapur Sultan were forced to make peace with Aurangzeb. At this time Shah Jahan fell ill, and a war of succession was imminent in Delhi. Aurangzeb left for Delhi to take part in it. Using this opportunity, Shivaji invaded north Konkan and captured the cities of Kalyan, Bhivandi and fort of Mahuli
Conflict with the Mughals (1670)
- Aurangzeb took back a part of the jagir in Berar which was once given to Shivaji. Shivaji got annoyed and Recalled his troops from Mughal service. He recovered almost all the forts he had ceded to the Mughals by the treaty of Purandar. In 1670, he again sacked Surat, the most important port on the western coast. In 1672, the Marathas imposed chauth or one fourth of the revenue as annual tribute on Surat.
- On 6 June 1674, Shivaji was crowned at Raigarh. He assumed the title of “Chhatrapathi”( metaphor for “supreme king ”).
- In 1676, Shivaji began his career of conquests in the south. A secret treaty was signed with the Sultan of Golkonda. Shivaji promised him some territories in return for his support. He captured Senji and Vellore and annexed the adjoining territories which belonged to his father, Shahji.
- Shivaji was a not only a great warrior but a good administrator too. He had an advisory council to assist him in his day-to-day administration. This council of eight ministers was known as Ashta Pradhan. Its functions were advisory. The eight ministers were:
- The Mukhya Pradhan or Peshwa or prime minister whose duty was to look after the general welfare and interests of the State. He officiated for the king in his absence.
- The Amatya or finance minister checked and countersigned all public accounts of the kingdom.
- The Walkia-Nawis or Mantri maintained the records of the king’s activities and the proceedings in the court
- Summant or Dabir or foreign secretary was to advise king on all matters of war and peace and to receive ambassadors and envoys from other countries.
- Sachiv or Shuru Nawis or home secretary was to look after the correspondence of the king with the power to revise the drafts. He also checked the accounts of the Parganas.
- Pandit Rao or Danadhyaksha or Sadar and Muhtasib or ecclesiastical head was in charge of religion, ceremonies and charities. He was the judge of canon law and censor of public morals.
- Nyayadhish or chief justice was responsible for civil and military justice.
- Sari Naubat or commander-in-chief was in charge of recruitment, organization and discipline of the Army. With the exception of the Nyayadhish and Pandit Rao, all the other ministers were to command armies and lead expeditions.
- All royal letters, charters and treaties had to get the seal of the King and the Peshwa and the endorsement of the wfour ministers other than the Danadyaksha, Nyayadhisha and Senapati. There were eighteen departments under the charge of the various ministers.
- For the sake of administrative convenience, Shivaji divided the kingdom into four provinces, each under a viceroy. The provinces were divided into a number of Pranths. The practice of granting jagirs was abandoned and all officers were paid in cash. Even when the revenues of a particular place were assigned to any official, his only link was with the income generated from the property. He had no control over the people associated with it. No office was to be hereditary. The fort was the nerve-centre of the activities of the Pranth. The lowest unit of the government was the village in which the traditional system of administration prevailed.
- The revenue administration of Shivaji was humane and beneficent to the cultivators. The lands were carefully surveyed and assessed. The state demand was fixed at 30% of the gross produce to be payable in cash or kind. Later, the tax was raised to 40%. The amount of money to be paid was fixed. In times of famine, the government advanced money and grain to the cultivators which were to be paid back in instalments later. Liberal loans were also advanced to the peasants for purchasing cattle, seed, etc.
Chauth and Sardeshmukhi
- As the revenue collected from the state was insufficient to meet its requirements, Shivaji collected two taxes, Chauth and Sardeshmukhi, from the adjoining territories of his empire, the Mughal provinces and the territories of the Sultan of Bijapur. Chauth was one-fourth of the revenue of the district conquered by the Marthas. Sardeshmukhi was an additional 10% of the revenue which Shivaji collected by virtue of his position as Sardeshmukh. Sardeshmukh was the superior head of many Desais or Deshmukhs. Shivaji claimed that he was the hereditary Sardeshmukh of his country.
- Shivaji organized a standing army. As he discouraged the practice of granting jagirs and making hereditary appointments. Quarters were provided to the soldiers. The soldiers were given regular salaries. The army consisted of four divisions: infantry, cavalry, an elephant corps and artillery. Though the soldiers were good at guerrilla methods of warfare, at a later stage they were also trained in conventional warfare.
- The infantry was divided into regiments, brigades. The smallest unit with nine soldiers was headed by a Naik (corporal). Each unit with 25 horsemen was placed under one havildar (equivalent to the rank of a sergeant). Over five havildars were placed under one jamaladar and over ten jamaladars under one hazari. Sari Naubat was the supreme commander of cavalry. The cavalry was divided into two classes: the bargirs (soldiers whose horses were given by the state) and the shiledars (mercenary horsemen who had to find their own horses). There were water-carriers and farriers too.
- The administration of justice was of a rudimentary nature. There were no regular courts and regular procedures. The panchayats functioned in the villages. The system of ordeals was common. Criminal cases were tried by the Patels. Appeals in both civil and criminal cases were heard by the Nyayadhish (chief justice) with the guidance of the smritis. Hazir Majlim was the final court of appeal
6 . Facts for prelims
- Teja chilli is a fine variety of Guntur chilli.
- Khammam district is the largest producer of Teja variety of red chilli, is the leading exporter of the pungent fruit
- It is known for its culinary purpose as a flavouring agent. It is used as a main ingredient in making pepper spray and a natural chilli extract Oleoresin
- The paste extracted from the pungent fruit is also in demand for its use as a protective layer beneath ships in some of the Asian countries
- Teja variety of red chilli is being exported to China, Bangladesh and a few other south Asian countries
National Land Monetization Corporation
- National Land Monetization Corporation (NLMC) is a wholly owned Government of India company with an initial authorized share capital of Rs 5000 crore and paid-up share capital of Rs 150 crore. NLMC will undertake monetization of surplus land and building assets of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and other Government agencies.
- NLMC will support and undertake monetization of unused and under-used assets. This will also enable productive utilization of these under-utilized assets to trigger private sector investments, new economic activities, boost local economy and generate financial resources for economic and social infrastructure.
- NLMC is also expected to own, hold, manage and monetize surplus land and building assets of CPSEs under closure and the surplus non-core land assets of Government owned CPSEs under strategic disinvestment. This will speed up the closure process of CPSEs and smoothen the strategic disinvestment process of Government owned CPSEs. These assets may be transferred to NLMC to hold, manage and monetize these assets.
- NLMC will also advise and support other Government entities (including CPSEs) in identifying their surplus non-core assets and monetizing them in a professional and efficient manner to generate maximum value realization. In these cases (e.g., on-going CPSEs and listed CPSEs under strategic disinvestment), NLMC will undertake surplus land asset monetization as an agency function.
- NLMC will have necessary technical expertise to professionally manage and monetize land assets on behalf of CPSEs and other Government agencies.
- The Board of Directors of NLMC will comprise senior Central Government officers and eminent experts to enable professional operations and management of the company.
- The Chairman, non-Government Directors of the NLMC will be appointed through a merit-based selection process.