Today’s Current Affairs: 15th Nov 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Devil Comet : Approaching Earth
The mysterious ‘Devil Comet’ is approaching Earth for the first time in decades.
- The Comet is passing by Earth for the first time in the 21st century.
- The so-called Devil Comet is scientifically named Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks.
- It is larger than typical comets and has been dubbed the “Devil Comet” for appearing to have horns.
- Its “horns” are actually tails of gas and dust formed by an odd series of explosive outbursts that scientists still do not understand.
- An “outburst,” is where comets suddenly get much more active, throwing off tons of gas and dust in a short period of time.
- When this happens, the comet brightens really rapidly and then sort of fades back to the brightness it had before.
- In Pons-Brooks, these are really, really large outbursts which makes this comet interesting to scientists.
- This short-period comet orbits the Sun once every 71.2 years, similar to the famous Halley’s Comet.
- This comet is not a newcomer to the solar system scene.
- Scientists have known about Pons-Brooks ever since 1812.
- Comet hunter Jean-Louis Pons spotted it at 4th magnitude.
Inflation : New Data
The Retail inflation eased to 4.87% in October 2023 compared to 5.02 % in September 2023.
- Retail inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), eased to 4.87 per cent in October compared to 5.02 per cent in September this year.
- Inflation refers to a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.
- It is the rise in the prices of most goods and services of daily or common use, such as food, clothing, housing, recreation, transport, consumer staples, etc.
- Inflation measures the average price change in a basket of commodities and services over time.
- The opposite and rare fall in the price index of this basket of items is called ‘deflation’.
- Inflation is indicative of the decrease in the purchasing power of a unit of a country’s currency.
- In India, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation measures inflation.
- There are two main sets of inflation indices for measuring price level changes in India
- the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- GDP deflator is also used to measure inflation.
World Diabetes Day 2023 : Theme
World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated annually on 14 November, coinciding with the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin in 1922 alongside Charles Best.
- World Diabetes Day originated in 1991 as a response to the increasing health threat of diabetes, established by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization.
- In 2006, WDD attained official recognition as a United Nations Day through the adoption of United Nations Resolution 61/225.
- WDD campaign strives to be the primary platform for promoting IDF advocacy initiatives throughout the entire year.
- Logo: Blue circle logo adopted in 2007 recognized as the symbol for diabetes awareness.
- Theme: Access to Diabetes Care
India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue:
5th Edition of the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue took place, where both countries highlighted progress in various areas of bilateral cooperation including defense, semiconductors, emerging technology, space, health etc.
- The 2+2 meetings have been held annually with the US leaders since 2018.
- The 2+2 meetings signify the participation of two high-level representatives, Ministers holding Foreign and Defence portfolios, from each of the two countries who aim to enhance the scope of dialogue between them.
Key Highlights of the India-US 2+2 Dialogue:
- Both nations aimed to collaboratively co-develop and co-produce defence systems, fostering a deeper partnership in defence technologies.
- India and the U.S. are currently negotiating deals for the purchase of MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles and the licensed manufacturer of General Electric’s F-414 jet engine in India.
- These deals align with India’s goal of enhancing its defence capabilities.
- Both sides discussed infantry combat vehicles, particularly the Stryker, as part of the defence industry cooperation roadmap.
- Cooperation in infantry combat systems will be formalized once the Indian military’s needs are finalized, and a concrete production plan is established through collaboration between Indian and U.S. industry and military teams.
- Both sides reviewed the progress of the India-U.S. Defence Industrial Ecosystem, INDUS-X, launched in June 2023, aimed at expanding the strategic technology partnership and defence industrial cooperation.
- India’s decision to become a full member of the Combined Maritime Forces, a multilateral construct headquartered in Bahrain, was welcomed by the Defense Secretary of the US.
- This move signifies India’s commitment to regional maritime security.
- Both nations shared a focus on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, acknowledging the importance of safeguarding vital sea lanes and promoting stability.
- The Ministers welcomed the rapid progress made under the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) to build science and technology and critical technology value chain collaborations in both the commercial and defence sectors.
- The US emphasized that the bilateral relationship extends beyond addressing the challenges posed by China.
- The ongoing row between India and Canada, particularly concerning security concerns related to a Khalistan separatist based in the US and Canada, was addressed.
- India communicated its position on core security concerns to its partners.
- India reiterated its stance on the Israel-Hamas Conflict, advocating for a two-state solution (Two countries officially demarcated and Internationally Recognised) and the early resumption of dialogue.
AAINA Dashboard For Cities:
The ‘AAINA Dashboard for Cities’ portal has been made live by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
- AAINA Dashboard for Cities would serve as a tool for comparing similarly placed Urban Local Bodies (ULBs ) and promoting peer learning amongst ULBs.
- This dashboard will inspire the ULBs by pointing to possibilities and areas of improvement and providing them the opportunity to learn and engage with frontrunners.
- It aims to create a robust database of the key performance metrics of Urban Local Bodies, which could be accessed by all stakeholders, and subsequently would open for public view once it gets populated.
- Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across the country can participate in this pioneering initiative to voluntarily submit their key data on a regular basis, through a simple, easy-to-fill, data entry form on the portal.
- AAINA Dashboard are to help cities to:
- See how they are faring vis-à-vis other cities.
- Inspire them by pointing to possibilities and areas of improvement and
- Providing opportunity to learn and engage with frontrunners.
- The Dashboard will present the data submitted by the ULBs on the basis of indicators
- The ULBs will submit their data, including audited accounts, and self-reported performance metrics by logging in to the dashboard’s portal.
- ULBs would be free to update the information initially provided by them, anytime on the portal as per need.
- The Dashboard has been envisaged as a permanent platform for ULB related data, that would be updated on a regular basis.
- The Ministry through Digital India Corporation will provide handholding support to ULBs / States in the data submission process on a need basis.
- Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Global Tiger Recovery Program 2.0 : Report
As per the report submitted under the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) 2.0 overall tiger population increased 60%.
- Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) was launched in 2010 under the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) by the World Bank to save wild tigers.
- This initiative set up the ambitious target of reversing the rapid decline of wild tigers across their range and doubling their population numbers by 2022.
- Alongside these top-level targets, the GTRP set out urgent thematic actions at a national level to strengthen wild tiger conservation in sync with this global goal.
- The first GTRP helped to pull focus to wild tiger conservation and secure a collective commitment from TRCs.
- It was endorsed in the St Petersburg Declaration in 2010 which saw 13 tiger range countries committing to reverse the decline of the species population.
- The 13 tiger range countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China,India, Indonesia, Lao PDR Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- It has been firmed up by tiger range countries through the intergovernmental platform of the Global Tiger Forum along with collaborators like the WWF.
- It emphasizes on strengthening tiger governance, enhancing resources and protection, while addressing contemporary challenges like Human-Wildlife Conflict.
- It aims to pave the way for tiger conservation from 2023-2034.
Zaglossus attenboroughi : Echidna
An elusive echidna named ‘Zaglossus attenboroughi’, feared extinct after disappearing for six decades, has been rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia.
- Zaglossus attenboroughi known as Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) or Sir David’s Long-beaked Echidna, the animal belongs to a small, unique group of egg-laying mammals called monotremes, which also includes the platypus.
- It is named in honour of naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
- It has never been recorded outside the extremely remote Cyclops Mountains of Indonesia’s Papua region.
- It is the smallest known species of long-beaked echidna, weighing between 5 and 10 kilograms.
- They have five claws on each foot, and adult males have a small, non-venomous spur on the inside of each ankle. Adult females lack these spurs.
- The fur is distinctive, short, fine, and dense, unlike other echidnas, and raw umber brown in color.
- There is short fur that covers the few spines on the middle back of this species.
- Adults have no teeth, but the tongue is covered in tooth-like spikes.
- Conservation Status:
- IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
- They are unique, quilled creatures with small eyes and a long nose.
- Similar to hedgehogs, echidnas are spiny, nocturnal creatures that roll into a ball when they sense danger.
- They are shy creatures that live in burrows and only meet others once a year during mating
Portuguese Coins : Found By a Farmer
A farmer in North Goa’s Nanoda Bamber village found 832 copper coins in a pot buried in the soil which were believed to be minted in Goa around the 16th or 17th Century when it was under Portuguese rule.
- The Portuguese people issued coins in gold, copper and silver from Goa.
- The gold coins were termed as ‘Cruzado’ or ‘Manoel’ and were issued in the same size, value and weight as the ‘Pagodas’ or ‘Hons’.
- Another type of gold coin named ‘Meio-manoel’, and ‘Meia-espera’ and ‘Espera’ in silver were also issued.
- The gold ‘Manoel’ and the silver ‘Espera’ had the Cross of the Order of Christ on the obverse and the armillary sphere, the device of the King D. Manoel on the reverse side of the coin were found.
- The half pieces of these coins bore the word ‘MEA’ surmounted by a crown on one side of the coin and the armillary sphere on the flip side of the coin.
- The Governor of Goa suspended the issue of these coins in 1519.
- After this in 1549, gold and silver coins were reintroduced.
- The gold coins of Portuguese were of the value of 20, 10, 5 and 2 ‘Xerafirms’.
Gecko : New Species
A team of scientists and researchers have discovered a new species of gecko endemic to Mizoram.
- New Gecko species has been named ‘Cyrtodactylus vairengtensis’ after the town in Mizoram where it was found.
- The common name suggested for the new species is ‘Vairengte bent-toed gecko’.
- The distinct feature of this new species is the number of femoral pores which distinguishes it from other members of the Cyrtodactylus family.
- Femoral pores are located on the underside of the hind legs in lizards that secrete a mixture of lipids and proteins and are thought to be used to attract mates and mark territories.
- It is endemic to Mizoram, taking the number of geckos native to the state to 6, and 22 across northeast India.
- There are 335 gecko species across the world, of which 42 are found in India.
- These are reptiles and are found on all the continents except Antarctica.
- These colorful lizards have adapted to habitats from rainforests, to deserts, to cold mountain slopes.
- These are mostly small, usually nocturnal reptiles.
- Geckos are spread across six families: Carphodactylidae, Diplodactylidae, Eublepharidae, Gekkonidae, Phyllodactylidae, and Sphaerodactylidae.
Russia’s military recently said that its forces had thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to forge a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River.
- Dnieper River is the fourth-longest river in Europe (after the Volga, the Danube, and the Ural).
- In Russian, the river’s name is Dnepr. In Ukrainian, it is Dnipro, and in Belarusian, it is Dnyapro.
- Located in Eastern Europe, the Dnieper River and its tributaries drain much of Belarus and Ukraine.
- Historically, the river was an important barrier dividing Ukraine into right and left banks.
- It originates in Russia, in the low Valday Hills west of Moscow.
- It runs a total length of 1,368 miles through western Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine before emptying into the Black Sea.
- Approximately 300 miles of the waterway is located in Russia, 430 miles are in Belarus, and 680 miles are within Ukraine.
- It passes through numerous urban centers such as the Russian cities of Smolensk and Dorogobuzh, as well as Mogilev in Belarus and Kiev, Cherkasy, Dnipro, and Zaporizhia in Ukraine.
- It has as many as 32,000 tributaries, including the Sozh, Desna, Trubizh, Bilozerka, Drut, Berezina, and Prypiat Rivers.
Arrow-3 Missile Defence System:
Israel recently confirmed that it used its sophisticated Arrow 3 missile interceptor against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
- Arrow-3 Missile Defence System is an exo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile defence system for long-range threat engagement.
- The missile was jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and the Missile Defence Agency in the US.
- Initially deployed in 2017, Arrow-3 is the top layer of Israel’s sophisticated air-defense network.
- It is designed to take out ballistic missiles while they are still outside of the atmosphere.
- It uses two-stage solid-fueled interceptors to engage short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and consists of a launcher, radar, and battle management system.
- It provides a range of 2,400km and can intercept threats at an altitude of 100km.
- It has early warning and fire control radar. It provides extended-range acquisition as well as multi-target acquisition and tracking capabilities.
- It uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy incoming missiles.
- The missile is launched vertically, and then the direction is changed towards the estimated interception point.
- The high-resolution electro-optical sensor acquires the target for the kill vehicle to hit the target and destroy the warhead.
Birsa Munda Birth Anniversary:
The Prime Minister 2 day visit is scheduled to the native village of tribal icon Birsa Munda on his birth anniversary and launch a welfare scheme for the community.
- Birsa Munda was a folk hero and a tribal freedom fighter hailing from the Munda tribe.
- He spearheaded an Indian tribal mass movement that arose in the Bihar and Jharkhand belts in the early 19th century under British colonisation.
- Munda rallied the tribals to fight against the forceful land grabbing carried out by the British government, which would turn the tribals into bonded labourers and force them to abject poverty.
- He influenced his people to realise the importance of owning their land and asserting their rights over it.
- As a reaction to the introduction of the Zamindari system, or Permanent settlement in tribal areas, Birsa Munda in 1894 declared “Ulgulan”, or revolt, against the British and the Dikus – the outsiders.
- He created a faith called ‘Birsait’.
- Known as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father, Birsa Munda stressed the need for the tribals to study their own religion and not forget their cultural roots.
- Birsa Munda propagated the principles of Hindu religion.
- He died on June 9, 1900, at age 25.
- His struggle against exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to a big hit against the British government in the form of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act being passed in 1908. The act restricted the passing on of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.
- In recognition of his impact on the national movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.
- November 15, the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda, was declared ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas by the Central Government in 2021.
Vadhvan Port : Initiated Process For Construction
The Vadhavan Port Project Ltd. (VPPL) has initiated the process for construction of the ₹76,220 crore port and public hearings are likely to begin in the next few months.
- Vadhavan Port is a proposed Rs 75,000 crore container port project at Vadhavan in Maharashtra.
- The port will be developed as a joint venture by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB).
- The new port has a natural draft of about 20 metres close to the shore, making it possible for it to handle bigger vessels.
- It will enable the call of container vessels of 16,000- 25,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) capacity, giving advantages of economies of scale and reducing logistics cost.
- It will be designed to handle around 254 million tonnes (MT) of cargo.
- It will be developed as a Green Port. It is planning to provide green fuel to ships coming to the port, and the construction and operations are planned to keep in mind the environmental issues.