Today’s Current Affairs: 16th Jan 2024 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Astra Missile : Flagged Off
The Minister of State for Defence recently flagged off the indigenously developed Astra Missiles for supply to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Bharat Dynamics in Hyderabad.
- Astra is a beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile designed to be mounted on fighter aircraft.
- It is indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
- The missile is designed to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aircraft.
- It is the best in its class of weapon systems in the world in the category of air-to-air missiles.
- The missile is being developed in multiple variants to meet specific requirements.
- The ASTRA Mk-I Weapon System, integrated with SU-30 Mk-I aircraft, is being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee:
The Supreme Court recently questioned the Centre on why reports of the court-appointed Technical Experts Committee (TEC) on the biosafety of genetically modified (GM) crops were not looked into by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the statutory committee constituted under the “Rules for the Manufacture, Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (Rules, 1989)” framed under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF & CC).
- It is responsible for the approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous living microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from an environmental perspective.
- The committee is also responsible for the appraisal of proposals relating to the release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment, including experimental field trials.
- Clearance of GEAC is mandatory for the environmental release of GM crops.
New Coral Snake Species:
Researchers from Mizoram University’s zoology department have discovered a new species of coral snake in Mizoram.
- New coral snake species has been named Sinomicrurus gorei after British Indian doctor Gore.
- The reptile is locally known as ‘Rulṭhihna’ due to its striking resemblance to a Mizo traditional amber necklace called ‘Ṭhihna’.
- There are a total of nine species of Sinomicrurus coral snakes that have been discovered worldwide, and out of these, only one species called Sinomicrurus macclellandi is found in Northeast India.
- It has unique patterns and different scales, hemipenis, DNA, and skull.
- Until this research, Sinomicrurus gorei was considered the same species as Sinomicrurus macclellandi due to their close resemblance.
- The new study also revealed that while Sinomicrurus macclellandi can lay 6-14 eggs at a time, Sinomicrurus gorei lays up to three eggs.
- In Mizoram, Sinomicrurus macclellandi is primarily found in hilly or elevated areas, while Sinomicrurus gorei is found in both low-lying and hilly areas.
Mahanadi River Basin:
The state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) recently discovered two significant natural gas reserves in the Mahanadi basin block in the Bay of Bengal.
- Mahanadi River Basin is the 8th largest river basin in the country, with a total catchment area of 139681.51 sq. km, which is nearly 4.28% of the total geographical area of the country.
- The catchment area of the basin extends over major parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha and comparatively smaller portions of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.
- The basin has a maximum length and width of 587 km and 400 km, respectively.
- It is bounded by the Central India hills on the north, by the Eastern Ghats on the south and east, and by the Maikala range on the west.
- Physiographically, the basin can be divided into four regions, namely, the northern plateau, the Eastern Ghats, the coastal plain, and the erosional plains of central table land.
Kalaram Temple : Prime Minister Visit
The Prime Minister of India visited the Kalaram Mandir on the banks of the Godavari in the Panchavati area of Nashik, Maharashtra.
- Kalaram temple derives its name from a black statue of the Lord Kala Ram translates literally to “Black Ram”.
- It was built in 1792 with the efforts of Sardar Rangarao Odhekar.
- It is located on the banks of Godavari in the Panchavati area of the city.
- The sanctum sanctorum has statues of Ram, Sita, and Lakshman, and a black idol of Hanuman at the main entrance.
- The main temple has 14 steps, which represent the 14 years of Ram’s exile.
- It has 84 pillars, which represents the cycle of 84 lakh species that one has to complete in order to be born as a human.
Kachchhi Kharek: GI Tag
Kachchhi Kharek, the indigenous variety of dates of Kutch, has become the second fruit of Gujarat to get a geographical indication (GI) tag from the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDT) of India.
- The presence of dates in Kachchh (Kutch) is believed to be around 400-500 years old.
- It is believed that date palm groves along the north-western border of India have developed from the seeds thrown by the settlers, who used to visit Middle-East countries for Haj.
- It is also probable that the Arab gardeners working in the palaces of the former rulers of Kachchh might also have contributed to the import of the date seeds and offshoots from Arab countries.
- Dates grown in Kutch are harvested at the khalal stage, the stage when fruits have matured, accumulated sucrose, and have turned red or yellow but are still crisp.
- The Kutch date season typically commences on June 15 each year, and the trees are known for their tolerance to salinity and adaptability to extreme drought and heat conditions.
- In other countries, they are allowed to ripen further till they become soft and dark brown or black in colour.
- Kachchh is the only place around the globe where fresh dates are economically cultivated, marketed, and consumed.
The Indian Science, Technology, and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) is launching the Samavesha project at IISc., Bengaluru.
- The project aims to enhance research collaboration in India by improving accessibility to facilities and labs.
- The platform allows researchers and industries to connect with institutions that have the required equipment, enabling them to rent it for experiments.
- The initiative aims to save capital expenditure for researchers, industries, and startups and prevent duplication of resources at the national level.
- The Indian Science, Technology, and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) is a national web portal that helps researchers find the facilities they need for their R&D work.
- The portal also aims to connect resources to researchers.
Koraput Kala Jeera Rice: GI Tag
Koraput Kala Jeera Rice got GI Tag.
- Koraput Kala Jeera Rice is grown in Koraput district’s Tolla, Patraput, Pujariput, Baliguda, and Mohuli areas.
- It is called the ‘Prince of Rice’.
- It is an aromatic variety of rice.
- It is popular for its black colour, good aroma, taste, and texture.
- The black-coloured rice variety, is famous for its aroma, taste, texture and nutritional value.
- Tribal farmers of the Koraput region have preserved the rice variety for around 1,000 years.
- As the rice grains resemble cumin seeds, it is also called Kala Jeera.
- Consumption of the rice variety helps in increasing haemoglobin levels and improves metabolism in the body.
- This fragrant grain has antispasmodic, stomachic, carminative, antibacterial, astringent, and sedative