Daily Current Affairs 4th and 5th December 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Rhino Elephant Conservation Efforts 
  2. Iran’s Morality Police
  3. ICAO Aviation Safety Ranking
  4. Zero Covid Strategy
  5. Facts for Prelims  

1 . Rhino-Elephant Conservation Efforts

Context: In recent times, alien invasive plant species have become a bigger threat than poachers across rhino habitats in India and Nepal, and elephants still remain an ‘endangered species’.

About One Horned Rhino

  • There are five species of rhino – white and black rhinos in Africa, and the greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhino species in Asia.
  • Only the Great One-Horned Rhino is found in India.
  • Also known as Indian rhino, it is the largest of the rhino species.
  • It is identified by a single black horn and a grey-brown hide with skin folds.
  • The greater one-horned rhino is identified by a single black horn about 8-25 inches long and a grey-brown hide with skin folds, which gives it an armour-plated appearance.
  • They primarily graze, with a diet consisting almost entirely of grasses as well as leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruit, and aquatic plants.
  • It is confined to the tall grasslands and forests in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • The Great one-horned rhino is commonly found in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and in Assam, India.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable.
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • CITES: Appendix I

One-Horned Rhino Population

  • The population of the one-horned rhino was about a dozen when Kaziranga became a protected area in 1905.
  • According to the State of Rhino Report 2022, the poor-sighted herbivore’s number in Kaziranga is an estimated 2,613, more than 65% of its total population of 4,014 across 11 habitats in India and Nepal.
  • A decade ago, the rhino’s population in these domains was 2,454.
  • Rhino conservation efforts have made other animals in its domains a beneficiary.
    • The number of tigers, for instance, has increased in Assam at a rate higher than elsewhere in India.
    • A 2010 count said Kaziranga has the highest density of tigers — 32.64 per 100 sq. km — in the world.

Rhino Conservation efforts-

  • Anti-poaching measures- the strengthening of the anti-poaching mechanism in India and Nepal with more manpower, capacity-building of frontline staff and equipping forest guards with better fighting gears have helped protect the rhino.
  • Community measures- The sentiments of local people attached to the rhino have also been a factor in the sharp drop in the number of rhinos killed, from 54 in 2013 and 2014 to one each in 2021 and 2022.
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)  has launched a National Conservation Strategy for Indian One-Horned Rhino and the conservation initiatives for rhino has also enriched the grassland management which helps in reducing the negative impacts of climate change through carbon sequestration.
  • New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019: Signed by India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia to conserve and protect the rhinos.
  • Project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • Indian Rhino Vision 2020:It is a unique programme where the government partnered international, national and local organisations for the conservation of the rhinos.

Other threats to Rhinos-

  • Illegal wildlife trade- he threat from poachers cannot be wished away because of the illegal wildlife trade in next-door Myanmar and beyond in Southeast Asia.
  • Invasive Species- While poaching remains a major threat to rhinos, alien invasive plant species grabbing key grassland habitats in rhino-bearing areas in the past decade has emerged as a bigger threat to the animal in India and Nepal.

About Asian Elephants-

  • The Asian elephant is the largest living land animal in Asia.
  • It is distributed througout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west, Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and to Borneo in the east.
  • India is home to nearly 60% Asian elephants and the last count of the species in 2017 had put the number at 29,964.
  • IUCN status- Endangered
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.

Challenges to conservation of Asian Elephants-

  • Poaching- The largest land-dwelling mammal is under continuous threat of poaching but this threat has reduced in recent times.
  • Human-Elephant Conflict- On average, about 500 humans and 100 elephants are killed every year across the country in such confrontations.
    • The change in land use, particularly bringing erstwhile forested areas under agriculture, has aggravated the conflict.
  • Fragmented Habitats- The fragmentation of elephant habitats and the construction of linear (railways and roads) and power infrastructure have led to many elephant deaths.
    • Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. km. annually but increasingly fragmented landscapes are driving the giant mammals more frequently into human-dominated areas, giving rise to more man-animal conflicts.

Conservation efforts-

  • Project Elephant- It is a centrally sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.
    • Aim: To provide financial and technical support to major elephant bearing States in the country for protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
    • It also seeks to address the issues of human-elephant conflict and welfare of domesticated elephants.
    • The Project is being implemented in 16 States / UTs, viz. Andhra Pradesh , Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand , Karnataka , Kerala , Meghalaya , Nagaland, Orissa , Tamil Nadu , Uttaranchal , Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
    • Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) programme of CITES in 10 ERs (Elephant Reserve) since January 2004. It is mandated by COP resolution of CITES.
  • Elephant reserves- The number of elephant reserves in India is 32 with the latest addition being the Agasthyamalai Elephant Reserve in 2022.
  • Elephant Corridors- Elephant corridors and linear narrow habitat linkages which allow elephants to move between secure habitats are crucial for conservation.
    • So far, about 101 elephant corridors have been identified in the country which need to be secured for conservation of elephants.

2 . Iran’s Morality Police

Context: Iran has scrapped its ‘morality police’ after more than two months of protests triggered by the arrest of Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating the country’s strict female dress code.

History of Morality Police in Iran

  • The morality police is known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad or “Guidance Patrol”.
  • It was established under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006 to “spread the culture of modesty and hijab”, the mandatory female head covering.
    • The hijab became mandatory four years after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy and established the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • The Gasht-e Ershad are part of the police force and supervised by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but the elected government has a say in their activities through the Interior Ministry.
  • Both men and women officials are part of the morality police.
  • Morality police officers initially issued warnings before starting to crack down and arrest women 15 years ago.
  • The vice squads were usually made up of men in green uniforms and women clad in black chadors, garments that cover their heads and upper bodies.
  • The role of the units evolved, but has always been controversial even among candidates running for the presidency.

Protests against Morality Police

  • Women-led protests, labelled “riots” by the authorities, have swept Iran since the 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin died on September 16, three days after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran.
  • Earler in July this year his successor, the ultra-conservative Raisi, called for the mobilisation of “all state institutions to enforce the headscarf law”.
  • In spite of this, many women continued to bend the rules, letting their headscarves slip onto their shoulders or wearing tight-fitting pants, especially in major cities and towns.

3 . ICAO Aviation Safety Ranking

Context: In the latest rankings by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), India’s position has jumped to the 48th place from the 102nd spot in 2018. The ranking, which also places it ahead of China (49), is the highest ever received by India, according to DGCA officials.

About the ranking-

  • Under its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach, an ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) was undertaken from November 9 to 16.
  • The rankings are topped by Singapore with a score of 99.69%. It is followed by the UAE at the second position with a score of 98.8% and the Republic of Korea is at the third place (98.24%).
  • With a score of 85.49% each, India and Georgia are at the 48th position. Neighbouring Pakistan’s score is 70.39%.
  • Others in the top ten are France (4th; 96.42%), Iceland (5th; 95.73%), Australia (6th; 95.04%), Canada (7th; 94.95%), Brazil (8th; 94.72%), Ireland (9th; 94.6%) and Chile (10th; 93.9%).

About ICAO

  • ICAO is funded and directed by 193 national governments to support their diplomacy and cooperation in air transport as signatory states to the Chicago Convention (1944).
    • ‘Chicago Convention’ established the core principles permitting international transport by air, and led to the creation of the specialized agency which has overseen it ever since – the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
  • is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates the principles and techniques of international air navigation, and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.
  • ICAO headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  • The ICAO Council adopts standards and recommended practices concerning air navigation, its infrastructure, flight inspection, prevention of unlawful interference, and facilitation of border-crossing procedures for international civil aviation.
  • ICAO defines the protocols for air accident investigation that are followed by transport safety authorities in countries signatory to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

4 . Zero Covid Strategy

Context: There are on-going protests in China regarding its ‘zero-covid’ strategy.

What is Zero-Covid Strategy?

  • China’s zero-COVID strategy aims at not allowing a single infection to happen in the country, aiming at an infection-free population over a prolonged period, achieved through two actions.
  • First, all infected persons, regardless of their health status, are placed in strict isolation in demanding circumstances.
  • Two, all the members in the community are segregated at home or work where even a single case has emerged until no new infections have occurred in the isolated group, usually for a period of two to three weeks.
  • At the same time, millions of people are continuously tested, and strict contact control is implemented.
  • Also, most travel to and from the country is restricted, with infrequent visitors having to undergo a seven-day quarantine and several tests.

Does the strategy work?

  • Proponents of the zero-COVID strategy believed that SARS-CoV-2 virus is amenable to eradication, a term reserved for the disappearance of the virus. Far from extinction, the virus has thrived and morphed into more infectious variant forms.
  • The zero-COVID strategy postponed the inevitable outbreaks to a later point in the timeline, with the virus waiting to find a vast susceptible pool of persons.
  • It only leads to minimal cases in short term but there is a rebound in increased cases and deaths in lon term. Consequently, people’s suffering is prolonged.
  • A country’s economy can only sustain the zero-COVID strategy for a short time since any country largely depends on international trade.
  • This strategy would have been theoretically successful if the virus diminished in its capacity to infect or if the population was protected with both primary and booster vaccine doses. Neither of these were realistically achieved in China while the virus was continuously evolving.
  • it is unwise, disproportionate, costly, and useless to drive all resources toward detecting every case.
  • Many countries including Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand realised that the zero-COVID strategy was a blunder as a destination and pursuit, and abandoned it after initial trials.

Increased vulnerability due to this strategy-

  • Most countries have had more than three or four waves of infection, resulting in high natural infection levels. Coupled with immunity induced by effective vaccines, the rest of the world is witnessing endemic levels of COVID-19.
  • In contrast, mainland China is extremely vulnerable, with poor vaccination coverage, especially among the elderly. With only one wave earlier, the current upsurge is yet to take off due to the zero-COVID strategy, making China a fertile ground for large-scale spread of the virus.
    • Compounding the problem is that the two locally-made vaccines have shown poor efficacy and offer protection only for a shorter duration.
  • Persistently isolated from the virus coercively and armoured with ineffective vaccine immunity, most Chinese people are sitting ducks for COVID-19.

Exit Plan from the strategy-

  • China must relax restrictions, combined with expanding primary vaccination and booster coverage with effective vaccines, especially among the elderly and other vulnerable.
  • The Chinese and world leaders need to ensure that China follows a balanced approach that tailors restrictions to subgroups at greater risk of severe disease and death while paying attention to equity.
  • Taking a cue from the success of other public health programmes, China can ensure high vaccination coverage, especially among the elderly and other vulnerable people
  • The WHO can offer technical support for revamping the strategy, effective vaccines, and escalating care provisions for the severely sick during the inevitable impending waves.
  • Also, it is time for WHO to revise the case definition to include only severe cases and those with long-COVID, which can help countries plan for the next stage of the pandemic.

5 . Facts for Prelims

Dash Diet

  • DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is the best recommended diet to prevent cardiovascular events.
  • The DASH diet was established in the 1990s, although weight loss was not a primary consideration when it was developed.
  • The National Institutes of Health-funded research that served as the foundation for DASH sought to identify lifestyle factors that had the greatest impact on blood pressure reduction.
  • DASH diet involves eating fruits, vegetables, lean meat, poultry, nuts, whole grains, and reducing the intake of saturated fats, cholesterol, and sugar.
  • The WHO recommends only 5 gm of salt per day.
  • The recent study points to the immense benefit of avoiding salt on the table.
  • In addition to its effect on blood pressure, it is designed to be a well-balanced approach to eating for the general public. 

Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs)

  • Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) are endogenous danger molecules that are released from damaged or dying cells and activate the innate immune system by interacting with pattern recognition receptors (PRRs).
  • hey are also known as danger-associated molecular patterns, danger signals, and alarmin because they serve as a warning sign for the organism to alert it of any damage or infection to its cells.
  • In case of storage of donated blood, stored cells produce various extracellular components (DAMPs), which damage the blood cells during storage.
    • This results into millions of blood units being discarded due to decline in quality during storage despite inadequate blood donation.
    • Thus, Stored blood has a finite shelf life.
  • A new innovation aims at solving this problem-
    • To tackle this issue, contrary to the conventional approaches, they have developed a novel approach to scavenge/capture and remove the damage-causing extracellular components during blood storage. This prevented the damage of stored blood cells, and enhanced their quality, and increased the shelf life of stored blood by about 25%.
    • DAMPs are produced when cells get destroyed and the DAMP components, in turn, damage the membrane of RBCs and reduce the membrane integrity, which makes the RBCs fragile. Intermittent capturing of DAMPs on day 21 or 28 after collection using the novel blood bags helped protect RBCs from losing their membrane integrity, and enhanced the transfusion efficiency.
    • With this technology, the quality of 42 days of stored old blood is as good as freshly collected blood.
    • Besides increasing the shelf life of stored blood, it may be a boon for preserving rare blood groups.

Meetei Mayek script

  • Meetei Mayek is the alphabet used to write the he Meitei language, the official language of Manipur state of India.
  • According to the Sahitya Akademi, the history of the Meetei Mayek script dates back to at least the 6th century, and was in use till the 18th century.
  • But In 1709, a Hindu missionary named Shantidas Gosai came to Kangleipak — the ancient name for the independent kingdom of Manipur — to spread Vaishnavism. He mesmerised the kings and the high officials of the palace, and on royal orders, all religious and other precious books in Meitei Mayek were incinerated, and new ones written in the Bengali script.
  • The Manipuri language was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution in 1992, but in Bengali script.
  • However, Meetei Mayek has seen a revival in the 21st century, with an initial shift to the Manipuri script in educational institutions and an amendment of the Manipur Official Language Act last year to mandate the phasing out of Bengali script over the next ten years.
  • However, the stumbling block to a complete switch-over has been the vernacular newspapers. After several rounds of talks between editors and MEELAL leaders, and the media’s successful pleas to extend the deadline several times, January 15, 2023 has been fixed as a final date for the exclusive use of Meetei Mayek.

Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) –

  • It is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
  • Under this technique, aircraft launch using a catapult-assisted take-off and land on the ship (the recovery phase) using arrestor wires.
  • CATOBAR provides greater flexibility in carrier operations and allows fighter aircraft to carry a greater payload for ordanance and fuel.
  • INS Vishal, India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier of the Vikrant-class, is planned to be of 65,000 ton displacement and to utilize the EMALS catapults developed by General Atomics, as it supports heavier fighters, AEW aircraft and UCAVs that cannot launch using a STOBAR ski jump ramps.

International Labour Organisation-

  • It was created in 1919, as part of theTreaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice.
  • The Constitution of the ILO  was drafted in early 1919 by the Labour Commission, chaired by Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labour (AFL) in the United States.
    • It was composed of representatives from nine countries: Belgium, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The process resulted in a tripartite organization, the only one of its kind, bringing together representatives of governments, employers and workers in its executive bodies.
  • The driving forces for the ILO’s creation arose from security, humanitarian, political and economic considerations.
  • It became the first specialized agency of UN in 1946.
  • Headquarters:Geneva, Switzerland
  • It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.

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