Today Current Affairs: 21st February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Greater One-Horned Rhino:
A case of poaching of the world-famous one-horned rhino has been suspected inside the Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
- There are five species of rhino – white and black rhinos in Africa, and the greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhino species in Asia.
IUCN Red List Status:
- Black Rhino: Critically endangered. Smaller of the two African species.
- White Rhino: Near Threatened. Researchers have created an embryo of the northern white rhino by using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process.
- One-Horned Rhino: Vulnerable
- Javan: Critically Endangered
- Sumatran Rhino: Critically Endangered. It has gone extinct in Malaysia.
- 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.
- They primarily graze, with a diet consisting almost entirely of grasses as well as leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruit, and aquatic plants.
- The species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam.
- In India, rhinos are mainly found in Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
- Assam has an estimated 2,640 rhinos in four protected areas, i.e. Pabitora Wildlife Reserve, Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, Kaziranga National Park, and Manas National Park.
- About 2,400 of them are in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR).
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
- CITES: Appendix I (Threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research).
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.
What Are Geckos?
A team of herpetologists have recorded a new species of bent-toed gecko from a wooded part of the Umroi Military Station in Meghalaya.
- Its scientific name is Crytodactylus exercitus and its English name is Indian Army’s bent-toed gecko.
- Further, another new bent-toed gecko, the Cyrtodactylus siahaensis named after Mizoram’s Siaha district where it was found.
- A herpetologist is someone who specializes in the study of reptiles and amphibians
- Geckos 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.
- Over a long period of time, geckos have developed special physical features to help them survive and avoid predators.
- Gecko tails serve many purposes.
- They help balance their weight as they climb branches, they act as fuel tanks to store fat, and as camouflage to help them disappear into their environment.
- Geckos are also able to shed their tails if a predator grabs them.
- Most geckos are nocturnal, which means they are active at night, but day geckos are active during the day and nibble on insects, fruits, and flower nectar.
- Most geckos make noises such as chirping, barking, and clicking when they are defending their territory or attracting a mate.
- There are many species of geckos. Depending on the species, their endangered status can range from least concern to critically endangered.
Legislation For Refugees:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently held a discussion on “protection of the basic human rights of refugees and asylum seekers in India”.
- Many participants raised the issue of India not having a specific law for refugees and asylum-seekers.
- The discussion noted that, though India has not signed the United Nations Refugee Convention, 1951, the refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to the rights in Articles 14 (Right to Equality ), 20 (Protection with Respect to Conviction of Offenes) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.
- India lacks specific legislation to address the problem of refugees, in spite of their increasing inflow.
- India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the key legal documents pertaining to refugee protection.
- Moreover, the Foreigners Act, 1946, fails to address the peculiar problems faced by refugees as a class.
- It also gives unbridled power to the Central government to deport any foreign citizen.
- In spite of not being a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, India has had a stellar record on the issue of refugee protection.
- India has a moral tradition for assimilating foreign people and culture.
- Further, the constitution of India also respects the life, liberty, and dignity of human beings.
- The Supreme Court in the National Human Rights Commission vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh (1996) held that “while all rights are available to citizens, persons including foreign citizens are entitled to the right to equality and the right to life, among others.”
- Further, Article 21 of the Constitution encompasses the right of non-refoulement.
- Non-refoulement is the principle under international law which states that a person fleeing persecution from his own country should not be forced to return to his own country.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA):
Singer and music composer Bappi Lahiri (69) passed away following complications from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), bringing attention to a widely prevalent but under-diagnosed medical condition.
- OSA is a disorder in which a person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly in their sleep.
- Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when muscles in the throat and upper airway relax intermittently during sleep and block the airway.
- It usually happens in obese men, less commonly in women but it does happen. When a person is obese, they develop extra fat on their larynx and pharynx (muscles in the throat) that can close off their airway in sleep.
- Although the condition doesn’t kill by itself, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes due to the low oxygen level. In the long run, it can also result in increasing blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and other metabolic disorders.
- It further leads to an increase in obesity, compounding the problem.
- OSA also leads to a lot of road traffic accidents as people with OSA tend to doze off while driving.
- OSA is the most common cause of road accident in the US.
- Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of OSA, but not everyone who snores has it.
- For treatment, the best method is to use a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy.
Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA):
The Government of India has approved the scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) for continuation till 31.03.2026 or till further review, whichever is earlier.
- The proposal entails an expenditure of Rs. 12929.16 crore out of which Central Share is Rs. 8120.97 crores and the State Share is of Rs. 4808.19 crores. It has been envisaged to support around 1600 projects under the new phase of the scheme.
- Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) by Ministry of Education.
- It is an overarching scheme, operating in mission mode for funding the state government universities and colleges to achieve the aims of equity, access and excellence.
- New phase of RUSA targets to reach out the unserved, underserved areas; remote/ rural areas; difficult geographies; LWE areas; NER; aspirational districts, tier-2 cities, areas with low GER etc., and to benefit the most disadvantaged areas and SEDGs.
- Under the new phase of the scheme, State Governments will be supported for Gender inclusion, Equity Initiatives, ICT, Enhancing employability through vocationalisation & skill upgradation. States will also be supported for creation of new Model Degree Colleges.
- State Universities will be supported for Multi-Disciplinary Education and Research. Grants will be provided for strengthening both accredited and non-accredited Universities and Colleges for undertaking various activities including teaching-learning in Indian languages.
The Government of India, the State Governments of Karnataka and Odisha and the World Bank have signed a loan agreement of $115 million for implementation of “Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development” (REWARD) Project.
- The Government of India has committed to restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and doubling farmers’ income by 2023. Effective watershed management can help enhance livelihoods in rainfed areas, while building a more resilient food system.
- In this context, the new program will help the participating state governments in their efforts to transform watershed planning and execution and adopt science-based planning that could be replicated across the country.
- It will also help the participating and others states to adopt new approaches to watershed development.
- The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) financing will support Karnataka with $60 million (INR 453.5 crore), Odisha with $49 million (INR 370 crore), and the remaining $6 million (INR 45.5 crore) will be for the central government’s Department of Land Resources.
- The $115 million (INR 869 crore) loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a grace period of 4.5 years.
Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) Project:
The Government of India has approved the implementation of the Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) project by the Ministry of Home Affairs at a total cost of Rs.3,375 crore during the period from 2022-23 to 2025-26.
- Phase II of the ICJS project will be a step towards ensuring effective and modern policing. The project will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.
- The ICJS system would be made available through a dedicated and secure cloud-based infrastructure with high speed connectivity.
- National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be responsible for the implementation of the project in association with National Informatics Center (NIC).
- The project will be implemented in collaboration with the States and Union Territories.
- Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) is a national platform for enabling integration of the main IT system used for delivery of Criminal Justice in the country by five pillars namely:-
- Police (Crime and Criminal Tracking and Network Systems),
- e-Forensics for Forensic Labs,
- e-Courts for Courts,
- e-Prosecution for Public Prosecutors and
- e-Prisons for Prisons.
- In Phase-I of the ICJS project, individual IT systems have been implemented and stabilized; also search of records have been enabled on these systems.
- Under Phase-II, the system is being built on the principle of ‘one data one entry’ whereby data is entered only once in one pillar and the same is then available in all other pillars without the need to re-enter the data in each pillar.
Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC):
The first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) which kicked off in Mysuru, has reinforced the rich biodiversity of Kukkarahalli Lake and the imperatives of its conservation.
- The GBBC is a global event entailing backyard bird count and is being held for four days across the world from February 18 to 21 and the data uploaded will be harnessed for conservation.
- It is being coordinated in India by e-bird India and Birdcount-India.
- It is being held at Kukkarahalli Lake, Hebbala Lake, Karanji Lake, Muganahundi Lake, Lingambudhi lake and Thippaiayana Kere.
- The exercise helps to provide a “snap shot” of the bird population and throws light on the ecosystem supporting it.
India-UAE Virtual Summit:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held a Virtual Summit.
- They issued a Joint Vision Statement “Advancing the India and UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: New Frontiers, New Milestone”.
- The Statement establishes a roadmap for a future-oriented partnership between India and UAE and identifies focus areas and outcomes.
- The shared objective is to promote new trade, investment and innovation dynamic in diverse sectors, including economy, energy, climate action, emerging technologies, skills and education, food security, healthcare and defence and security.
- A major highlight of the Virtual Summit was the signing and exchange of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
- The Agreement will provide significant benefits to Indian and UAE businesses, including enhanced market access and reduced tariffs.
- It is expected that the CEPA will lead to increase in bilateral trade from the current USD 60 bn to USD 100 bn in the next 5 years.
- The two Leaders also released Joint Commemorative Stamp on the occasion of 75th anniversary of India’s independence and 50th year of UAE’s foundation.
- Two MOUs signed between Indian and UAE entities were also announced during the Summit.
- These are, MOU between APEDA and DP World & Al Dahra on Food Security Corridor Initiative and MOU between India’s Gift City and Abu Dhabi Global Market on cooperation in financial projects and services.
- Two other MOUs – one on cooperation in Climate Action and the other on Education have also been agreed between the two sides.
Mumbai : International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session:
Mumbai has been officially elected as the host for the 2023 International Olympic Committee (IOC) session, which could possibly see the election for the host country for the 2030 Winter Olympics and sports programme for LA 2028 Olympic Games.
- The session will be held in May or June next year. An IOC session is the annual meeting of the members of the IOC, comprising 101 voting members and 45 honorary members.
- It discusses and decides on the key activities of the global Olympics movement including adoption or amendment of the Olympic Charter, the election of IOC members and office bearers and election of the host city of Olympics.
- The decision confirms India will be hosting this prestigious IOC meeting for the first time since 1983.
Moths are vital to pollination in the Himalayan ecosystem of northeast India, reveals a recent study. The study establishes 91 species of moths as potential pollinators of 21 plant families in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the northeastern Himalayas.
- The results assume significance as a majority of the pollination-related studies are based on diurnal pollinators (bees and butterflies) and the role of nocturnal pollinators have so far received less scientific attention.
- The details of the study were recently published in Scientific Reports, a publication from the Nature group of journals.
- In the present study about 65% moths (91 species) carried sufficient quantities of pollen grains to be considered as potential pollinators. Teliphasa sp. (Crambidae) and Cuculia sp. (Noctuidae) are found to carry the highest quantity of pollen.
- Geometridae (geometer moths) and Erebidae (erebid moths, tiger moths, lichen moths, among others) turned out to be the most important moth families for pollen transportation in the Himalayan region.
- Moths are a paraphyletic group of insects that includes all members of the order Lepidoptera that are not butterflies
- While the butterflies form a monophyletic group, the moths, comprising the rest of the Lepidoptera, do not.
Eat Right Campus:
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, four police stations in the national capital’s New Delhi district have been designated as ‘Eat Right Campus’ by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for providing nutritious and wholesome meals daily to police personnel at their canteens and mess.
- The four police stations, the first in the country which have met the benchmark for FSSAI’s five-star category certificate, are Barakhamba Road Police Station, Tilak Marg Police Station, Connaught Place Police Station and Mandir Marg Police Station.
- The scheme is already in place since 2017 in several government institutions including colleges and hostels.
- Eat Right India is a flagship mission of FSSAI, a statutory body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
- The mission aims at ensuring that citizens of the country are provided nutritious meals which help in reducing the burden of various lifestyle-related diseases.
- Delhi government’s Department of Food Safety, which is the implementing body of the initiative in the capital, has launched a programme called ‘Sehatmand Delhi’ under which places that can be designated as ‘Eat Right Campus’ are identified.
The Prime minister Narendra Modi flagged off 100 Kisan drones in different cities and towns of India to spray pesticides in farms across India.
- He virtually addressed to a group of farmers gathered at Manesar from where the “Drone Kisan Yatra” was flagged off.
- Kisan Drones will be used to boost the agricultural sector in the country. The use of Kisan Drones will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
- This step was taken as the government aims to promote chemical-free national farming.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget 2022 speech that “Chemical-free Natural farming will be promoted throughout the country, with focus on farmers’ lands in 5-kilometre-wide corridors along the river Ganga in the first stage”.