14th February 2021

PM hands over Arjun Mk-1A tank to Army

  • Prime Minister recently handed over the indigenous main battle tank Arjun Mk-1A to the Army.  
  • Chief of the Army Staff General received the model of the tank, designed and developed by Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), a unit of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

AATMANIRBHAR

  • A tank made in Tamil Nadu will be used in our northern borders to keep the nation safe. This showcases India’s united spirit — Bharat’s Ekta Darshan.
  • India will continue working to make our armed forces one of the most modern forces in the world.
  • The focus on making India aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) in the defence sector is moving with full speed.
  • One of the two defence corridors is in Tamil Nadu. The corridor has already received investment commitments of over ?8,100 crore.
  • Setting up of Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor would catalyse indigenous production of defence and aerospace related items, thereby reducing our reliance on imports and promoting export of these items to other countries. 
  • This will lead to generation of direct & indirect employment opportunities and growth of private domestic manufacturers including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups.
  • Tamil Nadu is already the leading automobile manufacturing hub of India.

Arjun Mk-1A:

  • The Arjun Mk-1A has superior firepower, high mobility, excellent protection and crew comfort, with 14 major upgrades from Arjun Mk-1, according to the CVRDE.
  • The Arjun Main Battle Tank project was initiated by DRDO in 1972 with the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) as its lead laboratory.
  • The objective was to create a “state-of-the-art tank with superior fire power, high mobility, and excellent protection”.
  • During the development, the CVRDE achieved breakthroughs in the engine, transmission, hydropneumatic suspension, hull and turret as well as the gun control system.
  • Mass production began in 1996 at the Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi, Tamil Nadu.
  • The indent for 118 of these tanks would be placed shortly with the Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) at Avadi near Chennai.
  • The Army is expected to soon approach the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) for approval after which it would place the indent for 118 tanks at a cost of ?8,956.59 crore.
  • Issues with Arjun Mk-1 ammunition, spares and repairs have also been resolved, and the DRDO has set up an Arjun hub in Jaisalmer for spares and support.

 

Assam uses combs for voter literacy

  • The Goalpara district administration has been distributing combs and other utilitarian items of daily use, such as sanitary pads, with SVEEP messages printed on them.
  • SVEEP expands to Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation, the flagship programme of the Election Commission of India for promoting voter literacy in the country.

SYSTEMATIC VOTERS’ EDUCATION AND ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION:

  • Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program, better known as SVEEP, is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India.
  • Since 2009, Election Commission has been working towards preparing India’s electors and equipping them with basic knowledge related to the electoral process.
  • SVEEP’s primary goal is to build a truly participative democracy in India by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections.
  • The programme is based on multiple general as well as targeted interventions which are designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.

‘LOW VOTER TURNOUT’:

  • The district election office is particularly ramping up SVEEP activities in areas with polling stations that have recorded low overall and low female voter turnout in the 2016 Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
  • The four Assembly constituencies in Goalpara — Dudhnai, Goalpara East, Goalpara West and Jaleswar — averaged a voter turnout of 90.83% in the 2016 State polls but the turnout at some polling booths was less than 10% of the average of a constituency.

 

Fossils of ‘Dickinsonia’ found at Bhimbetka

Researchers have discovered three fossils of the earliest known living animal — the 550-million-year-old ‘Dickinsonia’ — on the roof of the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, about 40 km from Bhopal.

NEW FINDING

  • One can identify the fossils from the white leaf-like patches with a central vertebra (central midrib) and connecting veins. While one fossil is 17 inches long, the other two are much smaller.
  • The new discoveries, published in a journal, Gondwana Research, can be seen right at the beginning of the ‘Auditorium Cave’, the first of such caves at Bhimbetka, a UNESCO heritage site, located about 3.5 metres above the ground.
  • Geological Survey of India’s Bhopal told that they were the only such fossils available in the country, and were similar to those seen in south Australia.
  • This is further proof of the similar paleoenvironments and confirms assembly of Gondwanaland by the 550 Ma (mega annum), but not reconstructions adjusted for true polar wander.

BHIMBETKA ROCK SHELTERS

  • The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in central India that spans the prehistoric Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the historic period.
  • It exhibits the earliest traces of human life in India and evidence of Stone Age starting at the site in Acheulian times.
  • It is located in the Raisen District in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh about 45 kilometres (28 mi) south-east of Bhopal.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of seven hills and over 750 rock shelters distributed over 10 km (6.2 mi).
  • At least some of the shelters were inhabited more than 100,000 years ago. The rock shelters and caves provide evidence of a “rare glimpse” into human settlement and cultural evolution from hunter-gatherers, to agriculture, and expressions of prehistoric spirituality.
  • Some of the Bhimbetka rock shelters feature prehistoric cave paintings and the earliest are about 10,000 years old (c. 8,000 BCE), corresponding to the Indian Mesolithic.
  • These cave paintings show themes such as animals, early evidence of dance and hunting.
  • The Bhimbetka site has the oldest-known rock art in India, as well as is one of the largest prehistoric complexes.

 

Challenge for Food Corporation of India: Rising stocks, cost, & push to procure

The Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) “economic cost” of wheat sold through the public distribution system (PDS) is budgeted to go up to Rs 29.94 per kg and that of rice to Rs 42.94 per kg in 2021-22, from their corresponding current levels of Rs 27.40 and Rs 39.99 per kg.

ECONOMIC COST

  • Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013, 81.35 crore persons, accounting for over 67% of the country’s population, are entitled to receive 5 kg of PDS wheat or rice per month at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg, respectively.
  • At the projected economic cost of Rs 29.94/kg for wheat and Rs 42.94/kg for rice, the corresponding per-kg PDS consumer subsidy in the coming fiscal would work out to Rs 27.94 and Rs 39.94, respectively.
  • The economic cost is what the FCI incurs in procuring, transporting, storing and distributing every kg of wheat or rice.
  • Under NFSA, enacted during the previous United Progressive Alliance regime, the Rs 2-3/kg PDS issue prices for wheat and rice were valid for up to three years from the date of commencement of the law on July 5, 2013.
  • The NDA government has not raised these rates so, even as the Finance Ministry’s latest Economic Survey has pointed to the need to consider a revision in the Central issue prices of PDS grain “to reduce the bulging food subsidy bill”.

DISTRESS PLUS PROTEST

  • At Rs 42.94 for rice and Rs 29.94 for wheat, FCI faces higher cost for PDS and Covid distress schemes.
  • Add to it the political pressure to procure given the protests over the farm laws. The subsidy bill is set to balloon.
  • Meanwhile, rice and wheat stocks in the Central pool remain at way above necessary levels, despite the NDA government implementing special schemes for alleviating the widespread economic distress resulting from the Covid-19-induced lockdown.
  • As against 65.91 million tonnes (mt) of grain offtake from public godowns in 2018-19 and 62.19 mt in 2019-20, the NDA government has allocated a total quantity of 94.37 mt in the current fiscal.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme involved providing an extra 5 kg grain per month, free of cost, to NFSA beneficiaries (for eight months from April-November 2020) and 8 crore returning migrant labourers (for two months from May-June).
  • The continued buildup of public stocks is largely due to procurement.
  • Government agencies had, as on February 11, bought 63.63 mt of paddy during the ongoing 2020-21 kharif marketing season (October-September), 16.1 per cent more than the 54.80 mt in the corresponding period of 2019-20.
  • The political pressure from the farmer protests may force similar stepped-up purchases of wheat, too, in the ensuing rabi marketing season from April.

 

Aadi Mahotsavsees a Major Increase in Footfall As Delhiites are Enjoying Rich Tribal Craft, Culture & Cuisine

  • The last two days of the National Tribal festival “Aadi Mahotsav” have seen a major increase in footfall as Delhiites are doing their best to enjoy rich tribal craft, culture and cuisine.
  • Celebrating the spirit of tribal ways of life, the Aadi Mahotsav showcases and has on display and for sale a vast range of tribal handlooms, handicrafts, artefacts and natural produce.

AADI MAHOTSAV

  • The Aadi Mahotsav, a nine-day tribal festival and the Centre’s first official function in Ladakh after the government decided to make it a Union Territory, to start in Leh on the evening of 17th August, 2019.
  • This is the first time that the Aadi Mahotsav is being held in Ladakh as in earlier times, the Tribal Ministry never got a response from the J&K administration.
  • Aadi Mahotsav is a national tribal festival and a joint initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India & Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).
  • Tribal artists have also been enthralling the audiences with their colourful performances.
  • Other than this, a focus has also been to expose the urban Delhi audiences to earthy tribal cuisine at Aadi Vyanjan.
  • A crowd of people at a concertDescription automatically generated with low confidence
  • Aadi Mahotsav is a mini-India; more than 1000  From paintings be it in the Warli style or  Pattachitras;

    a. Dokra jewellery to bead necklaces from the Wancho and Konyak tribes of the North-East;

    b. from famous Toda embroidery of the South to Eri silks from Assam;

    c. from colourful puppets and children’s toys to traditional weaves such as Dongria shawls,

    d. Kota Doria from Rajasthan; from iron craft from Bastar to bamboo craft and cane furniture;

    e. pottery such as blue pottery and Longpi pottery from Manipur, the festival is a feast for the senses.

 

Birds use massive magnetic maps to migrate — and some could cover the whole world

  •  Every year, billions of songbirds migrate thousands of miles between Europe and Africa — and then repeat that same journey again, year after year, to nest in exactly the same place that they chose on their first great journey.
  • The remarkable navigational precision displayed by these tiny birds — as they travel alone over stormy seas, across vast deserts, and through extremes in weather and temperature — has been one of the enduring mysteries of behavioural biology.
  • Birds buffeted by winds so much that they’re significantly displaced from their migratory route are able to realign their course if they’ve already performed one migration.
  • This has suggested that birds’ navigational abilities, some of which is built around a sense of compass direction, includes a mechanism for finding their way back home from parts of the world they’ve never before visited.
  • New study of Eurasian reed warblers has found that this remarkable ability involves a “magnetic map” that works like our human system of coordinates.
  • Surprisingly, the study found that these birds understand the magnetic field of places thousands of miles into territory they’ve never before visited — suggesting some birds could possess a “global GPS system” that can tell them how to get home from anywhere on Earth.

MIND MAPS

  • It’s long been known that adult birds develop some sort of navigational map to help them migrate.
  • How they do this has remained controversial. Several cues have been proposed as guides for migratory birds — including odours, infra-sound, and even variations in gravity.
  • However, a gathering body of evidence has indicated that the Earth’s magnetic field is one of the likeliest solutions to this mystery.
  • It has been suggested that different parameters of the Earth’s magnetic field could form a grid, which birds follow, of north-south and east-west lines.
  • That’s because magnetic intensity (the strength of the magnetic field) and magnetic inclination (the angle formed between the magnetic field lines and the surface of the Earth, also called the “dip” angle) both run approximately north to south.
  • Magnetic declination – the difference between the direction to the magnetic north pole and the geographical north pole — provides the east-west axis.
  • Despite largely agreeing that certain birds navigate via the Earth’s magnetic field, scientists haven’t worked out precisely what sensory apparatus they use to detect it – or whether multiple systems are used to detect different parameters of the field.
  • Other animals, like turtles, can also sense the magnetic field, but the same uncertainties apply.
  • Regardless, if birds have learned that magnetic intensity increases as they go north, they should be able to detect their position on the north-south axis wherever they happen to be.
  • Similarly, if they experience a declination value that is greater than anything they’ve previously experienced, they should know they’re further east.
  • On this basis, the theory is that they can calculate their position on the grid and correct their orientation.
  • This would mean that birds essentially navigate using a system similar to our Cartesian coordinates – the basis of modern GPS navigation.
  • If this coordinates theory is accurate, it would mean that birds should be able to use their knowledge of magnetic field parameters to estimate their location anywhere on Earth – through the extrapolation or extension of their navigational rules.
  • To date, however, there has been no clear evidence that birds can use the magnetic field in this way.
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