12th December 2020

Ischaemum Janarthanamii

Recently, the researchers at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have discovered the new species called Ischaemum Janarthanamii.

  • It is a tough novel species of Indian Muraingrasses discovered from the plateaus of Western Ghats of Goa.
  • It is named in honour of Prof. M. K. Janarthanam, a Goa University Professor known for his contribution to Indian grass taxonomy.
  • It grows on low altitude lateritic plateaus in the outskirts of Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, Goa.
  • Globally 85 species are known from Ischaemum, of which 61 species are exclusivelyfound in India.
    • The Western Ghats have 40 species with the highest concentration of the genus.

Bhagwan Mahavir National Park

  • It is situated on the eastern border of Goa near the town of Mollem.
    • The park was earlier known as Mollem game sanctuary.
  • The Mollem game sanctuary was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in the year of 1969, and known as Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.
    • In 1978, the core area of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary declared as a National Park, and known as Bhagwan Mahavir (Mollem) National park.
  • The topography of Mollem supports tropical evergreen forest, semi evergreen forest and moist deciduous forest.

 

India-Uzbekistan Virtual Summit 

Recently, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the India-Uzbekistan Virtual Summit.

  • Both India and Uzbekistan have been involved in the Afghan Peace process, with a focus on connectivity with the country.
  • India, via Chabahar Port in Iran and the India-Afghanistan air corridor and Uzbekistan via a planned rail project are connecting the 2 countries.
  • India and Uzbekistan have been engaging under various formats including India Central Asia Dialogue at the foreign minister’s level.
  • The bilateral summit revolved around Afghanistan and counter-terrorism.
  • It is the first-ever bilateral summit of India with any of the Central Asian country.
  • India will provide expertise in according to country’s development needs like in infrastructure, IT, training, capacity building, education, health.
  • India’s western Gujarat state and Uzbekistan’s Andijan already have cooperation and now the focus is on cooperation between the Haryana and Fergana.

Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation

  • Both leaders emphasized on the need for bilateral and global cooperation to continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic including development and distribution of effective vaccines and other medicines.
  • India and Uzbekistan have a mutually identified target of USD 1 billion for bilateral trade and the leaders stressed on the importance of making concerted efforts to achieve the target.
  • The leaders agreed that both sides should work towards an early conclusion of Bilateral Investment Treaty which shall facilitate investment promotion and protection for further improvement of trade and economic cooperation.
  • The leaders agreed to strengthen mutual cooperation in the field of science, technologies and innovation by enhancing direct cooperation between government organizations, research institutes, innovation centres and technological enterprises of two countries.

Development Cooperation

  • The Indian side confirmed the approval of USD 448 million of Line of Credit to be extended by India for four developmental projects in Uzbekistan in the fields of road construction, sewerage treatment and information technology.
  • The Uzbek side conveyed its desire to explore the possibility of implementing priority developmental projects in Uzbekistan as part of the USD 1 billion Line of Credit offered by India for Central Asian countries.

Defence and Security

  • The leaders appreciated the enhanced pace of bilateral defence cooperation since the convening of the first meeting of Joint Working Group on Defence Cooperation in 2019.

Civil Nuclear Energy

  • Both Sides welcomed the deepening of their bilateral civil nuclear cooperation, in particular, the conclusion of the bilateral agreement between the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, India and the Agency for Development of Nuclear Energy, Uzbekistan.

Connectivity

  • The Sides reiterated their continued commitment for enhancing connectivity between India and Uzbekistan and in the larger Central Asian region to bolster trade and investment.
  • The Indian side welcomed the Uzbek proposal to hold trilateral dialogue among India, Iran and Uzbekistan to promote connectivity through the Chabahar port.

Culture, Education and People- to-People Contacts

  • The Sides expressed their appreciation for the 25 successful years of functioning of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Indian Culture in Tashkent and the role it has played in strengthening India-Uzbekistan cultural relations.
  • The Indian side invited the Uzbek side to avail of increased scholarship opportunitiesprovided by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and training and capacity building under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

 

Human-made materials now outweigh Earth’s entire biomass

Recently, the scientists have found out for the first time in history man-made materials now likely outweigh all life on Earth.

  • The weight of roads, buildings and other constructed or manufactured materials is doubling roughly every 20 years and it currently weighed 1.1 teratonnes (1.1 trillion tonnes).
  • The weight of living biomass (trees, plants and animals) has halved since the agricultural revolution because mankind has ramped up its insatiable consumption of natural resources.
  • The research showed that the mass of human-produced objects stood at just three percent of the weight of biomass at the start of the 20th century.
  • Since the post-World War II global production boom, manufacturing has surged to the extent that humans now produce the equivalent of the weight of every person on Earth every week on average.
  • At the current growth rate, man-made material is likely to weigh as much as three teratonnes by 2040.
  • The primary reasons for decreasing biomass are deforestation and land use changesmaking way for intensive agriculture.

Biomass

  • Biomass is a renewable energy resource derived from the carbonaceous waste of various human and natural activities.
  • It is derived from numerous sources, including the by-products from the timber industry, agricultural crops, raw material from the forest, major parts of household waste and wood.
  • Biomass does not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as it absorbs the same amount of carbon in growing as it releases when consumed as a fuel.
  • Its advantage is that it can be used to generate electricity with the same equipment or power plants that are now burning fossil fuels.
  • Biomass is an important source of energy and the most important fuel worldwide after coal, oil and natural gas.

 

Red-headed Bunting 

Recently, the birdwatcher have sighted the ‘Red-headed Bunting’ at Gobichettipalayam.

  • It is a migratory bird from Europe which breeds in Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Central Asian Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan andUzbekistan.
  • It is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae.
  • The bird breeds in open agricultural land and lays three to five eggs in a nest in a tree or bush and consumes seeds and insects.
  • It is listed as ‘Least Concern’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

 

Northern Lights

Recently, the Space Weather Prediction Center at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said that the electromagnetic storm could be growing to major status, causing the Northern Lights to be visible in more number of areas than usual.

  • Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis, are usually witnessed far up in the Polar Regions or the high latitude regions of Europe.
    • Auroras occur when charged particles ejected from the Sun’s surface (solar wind) enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The fast-moving solar wind carries with it the Sun’s magnetic field, which disrupts the magnetosphere (the region of space around Earth in which the magnetic field of our planet is dominant.).
  • When the Sun’s magnetic field approaches Earth, the protective magnetic field radiating from our planet’s poles deflects the former and thus shielding life on Earth.
  • The charged particles interact with different gases in the atmosphere at the north and south poles causing a display of light in the sky.

Aurora in Northern and Southern Hemisphere

  • In the northern part of our globe, the polar lights are called aurora borealis or Northern Lights, and are seen from the US (Alaska), Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
  • In the south, they are called aurora australis or southern lights, and are visible from high latitudes in Antarctica, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

What are solar flares or solar storms?

  • Solar flares can typically affect space-dependent operations like Global Positioning Systems (GPS), radio and satellite communications, besides hampering flight operations, power grids and space exploration programmes.
  • The solar flares are a sudden explosion of energy caused by tangling, crossing or reorganizing of magnetic field lines near sunspots.
    • The ejections travelling at a speed of 500km/second are common during solar peaks and create disturbances in Earth’s magnetosphere.
  • During spacewalks, astronauts face a great health risk posed by exposure to solar radiation outside Earth’s protective atmosphere.
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