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    21st Oct, 2023
Polity and Governance (GS-II)

In a joint declaration adopted at the P20 meet, the Speaker of Lok Sabha has condemned terrorism in all its forms including those on the basis of xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance, while also recognising the commitment of all religions to peace.

What does Xenophobia means? 

  • Xenophobia is an extreme, intense fear and dislike of customs, cultures, and people considered strange, unusual, or unknown.
  • The term itself comes from Greek, where “phobos” means fear and “xenos” can mean stranger, foreigner, or outsider.

Xenophobia vs. Racism:

While xenophobia and racism often intersect, xenophobia doesn’t automatically focus on the physical characteristics, behavior, or abilities of a specific group of people.

Polity and Governance (GS-II)
Mission Shakti 4.0

Uttar Pradesh government has launched the fourth phase of Mission Shakti, focused on promoting women’s self-reliance, safety and respect.

About the Mission:

  • Mission Shakti has the clear objective of empowering women through gainful activities by providing credit and market linkage.
  • Empowerment of women through WSHGs under Mission Shakti is a flagship Programme of the Government.
  • It envisages that over a period of time more & more women would be part of a WSHG.
  • The fourth phase of the Mission Shakti aims to replicate the success of earlier phases and reach towards broader segment.
  • Rallies across 75 districts have been initiated.
  • The government will also honour entities and individuals demonstrating exemplary efforts in enhancing women’s safety, self-reliance and respect, within their districts.

International Relations (GS-II)
World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH)

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) has approved India's self-declaration of freedom from bird flu in specific poultry compartments in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

About the Organisation:

  • WOAH is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.
  • It was established in 1924 in Paris as Office international des epizooties and currently has 182 member countries.
  • All EU Member States are members of WOAH.
  • WOAH is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO) for international standards relating to animal health and zoonoses.
  • The WTO Agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) considers that WTO members applying WOAH Standards meet their obligations under this Agreement.
  • India is one of the member countries.
  • OIE develops normative documents relating to rules that Member Countries can use to protect themselves from the introduction of diseases and pathogens. One of them is the Terrestrial Animal Health Code.

Economy (GS-III)
Immediate Payment Service (IMPS)

In a move to simplify and streamline bank account transfers, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is going to introduce revised Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) rules.

What is Immediate Payment Service (IMPS)?

  • IMPS of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an important payment system providing a 24x7 instant domestic funds transfer facility and is accessible through various channels like internet banking, mobile banking apps, bank branches, ATMs, SMS, and IVRS.

There are various ways in which one can transfer money online including the National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT), Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), and Immediate Payment Services (IMPS), among others.

Features of IMPS:

  • IMPS allow users to transfer funds instantly between banks, irrespective of time and location.
  • IMPS transactions are subject to a daily maximum limit of Rs.5 Lakh.
  • The charges associated with IMPS transactions may vary between Rs.5 to Rs.15.
  • In addition to transaction charges, IMPS transactions may also levy an additional service tax.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
Carbon & water found in asteroid Bennu samples

According to a statement by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), initial studies on the samples collected in space and recently brought back on earth have shown evidence of high-carbon content and water-bearing clay minerals. 

Key findings:

  • Samples collected from 4.5-billion-year-old Asteroid Bennu could indicate the building blocks of life on Earth.
  • The material collected from the asteroid acts as a time capsule from the earliest days of our solar system and can help us answer big questions about the origins of life and the nature of asteroids.

Bennu is a small near-Earth asteroid that passes close to Earth every six years.

A 4.5 billion-year-old relic of our solar system's early days, asteroid Bennu has seen it all.

Bennu’s current composition, according to scientists, was established within 10 million years of the formation of our solar system.

Environment (GS-III)
Ing Makhir

Trinity Saioo, who won the 2021 Padma Shri award for helping more farmers in Meghalaya take up the cultivation of Lakadong turmeric, now plans to promote the north-eastern State’s unique “Makhir” ginger.


  • “Sying Makhir” or “Ing Makhir” as it is locally known by the people of Meghalaya is an indigenous ginger variety native to the hilly terrains of Meghalaya.
  • It is scientifically known as Zingiber rubens. This ginger is known to be the best ginger variety in India.
  • The name Ing Makhir comes from the Khasi words “Sying” which means ‘ginger’ and “Makhir” which means ‘small’. The Pnar people from the Jaintia Hills call it “Ing Traw” which, again, translates to small ginger.
  • Meghalaya has two types of ginger that are popular. While “Makhir” is one, the other is “Nadia”.
  • The ginger is small in size but it provides immense health benefits.

Environment (GS-III)
Ayyampalayam Nettai

Both the farmers and the agriculture department are striving to get the GI tag for the coconut, locally called as ‘Ayyampalayam Nettai’.

About the variety:

  • Ayyampalayam, a town on the way towards Marudhanidhi dam in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, is known for this unique variety of coconut.
  • This coconut variety is grown in coconut farms just above the dam, bordering the catchment area.
  • The trees are a 100-foot tall and have more than 60% oil content and an extremely sweet kernel.
  • On an average, a single tree can give a yield of about 120 nuts per year without application of chemical fertilisers.
  • The ‘Ayyampalayam Nettai’ are not just disease-resistant but also drought-resistant.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
High-speed craft ‘Cheriyapani’

Recently, the Prime Minister has launched an international, high-speed passenger ferry service between Nagapattinam on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu and Kankesanthurai in the northern province of Sri Lanka.


  • The ferry service will help strengthen cultural, commercial, and civilizational ties between the two nations.
  • Connectivity is the central theme of the joint vision of the India - Sri Lanka economic partnership.
  • The Nagapattinam port is one of the non-major ports under the maintenance of the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board, and is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal at the estuary of the Kaduvaiyar River that flows south of the town between Akkaraipettai and Keechankuppam villages.
  • The Union Ministry of External Affairs had sanctioned Rs. 8 crore to upgrade the infrastructure at the port.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
NASA's Psyche mission

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is on its voyage to an asteroid which a metal-rich world that could tell us more about the formation of rocky planets.

About the mission:

  • Psyche is a NASA mission that will explore a 140-mile-wide (225 kilometers) metallic asteroid called ‘16 Psyche’. 
  • The mission will explore a metal-rich asteroid that may shed light on our own planet’s formation.
  • No spacecraft has ever visited an object like 16 Psyche, which is thought to be the exposed core of a demolished planet.
  • The asteroid 16 Psyche, or simply Psyche, was only the 16th asteroidever discovered, according to Arizona State University (ASU).
  • The space rock was spotted in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it for the ancient Greek goddess of the soul.
  • Psyche has a mass of about 440 billion billion pounds (220 billion billion kilograms), making it 0.03% the mass of Earth's moon.
  • It's the 11th-most-massive known asteroidin the solar system, though it's only a few hundredths the mass of behemoths such as Ceres and Vesta.

Space Rock:

Meteoroids are fragments and debris in space resulting from collisions among asteroids, comets, moons, and planets.

They are among the smallest “space rocks.” We can see them when they streak through our atmosphere in the form of meteors and meteor showers.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
David’s Sling Air-Defense System

Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has built a technology called the Iron Beam, which is a laser weapon system designed to defend the country from incoming missiles.

About the system:

  • David’s Sling is an Israeli air and missile defense system designed to defeat short-range ballistic missiles, large-caliber rockets, and cruise missiles. 
  • Co-developed with the United States, David’s Sling occupies a middle tier in its missile defense architecture, between the point-defense Iron Domeand upper-tier Arrow 
  • The David’s Sling Weapon System (DSWS) incorporates a vertical missile firing unit, an ELM-2084 fire control radar, a battle management/operator station, and the Stunner interceptor.
  • The middle tier in Israel’s missile defenses, DSWS is designed to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles at ranges of 40 to 300 km.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
Tilapia parvovirus

India’s first tilapia parvovirus was reported in Tamil Nadu.


  • Tilapia parvovirus (TiPV) is a single-stranded DNA virus.
  • The discovery of TiPV in India is the third known occurrence after China (2019) and Thailand (2021).
  • It is affecting farm-bred tilapia, a freshwater fish species, and causing a huge mortality rate.
  • Mozambique tilapia was introduced to Indian freshwater bodies in the 1950s.
  • Capable of surviving in low-oxygen levels in water, the fish has turned invasive across the country.
  • Currently no vaccine is available against TiPV.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
Large Language models (LLMs)

India is going to set up a high powered committee to explore the development of large language models or LLMs, tools that harness artificial intelligence to create applications that can understand and process human language.

What are Large Language Models (LLMs)?

  • A large language model (LLM) is a deep learning algorithm that can perform a variety of natural language processing (NLP)
  • Large language models use transformer models and are trained using massive datasets.
  • This enables them to recognize, translate, predict, or generate text or other
  • Large language models are also referred to as neural networks (NNs), which are computing systems inspired by the human brain.
  • These neural networks work using a network of nodes that are layered, much like neurons.

Madame H. P. Blavatsky

The Theosophical Society was founded by Madame H. P. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott in New York in 1875.

  • In 1882, the headquarters of the Society were established in Adyar, near Madras (now Chennai) in India.
  • Theosophy was a philosophy combining mysticism and spiritualism (with heavy influences from Buddhist and Hindu thought) with metaphysics.
  • Main objectives of the society:
  • Promoting universal brotherhood of humanity
  • The study of comparative religion and philosophy, especially from the eastern world, and
  • To investigate unexplained laws of nature and powers latent in man.
  • Apart from spirituality, the Society encouraged reforms and framed educational schemes to work them out.
  • Madam Blavatsky was believed to have had such psychic powers, including her ability to communicate through letters on an astral plane with the ‘Mahatmas’, who inspired the founding of the society.

Location in News
Haiti Islands

Kenya’s Cabinet has approved the deployment of 1,000 police to lead a multinational peacekeeping mission to Haiti to combat gang violence.

  • From Jan. 1 until August 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti were reported killed, more than 950 kidnapped and another 902 injured, according to the most recent U.N. statistics.

About the region:

  • Haiti, country in the Caribbean Sea that includes the western third of the island of Hispaniola and such smaller islands as Gonâve, Tortue (Tortuga), Grande Caye, and Vache.
  • The capital is Port-au-Prince.
  • Geographic Location: Haiti is bordered to the east by the Dominican Republic, which covers the rest of Hispaniola, to the south and west by the Caribbean, and to the north by the Atlantic Ocean.

Location in News
Kanwar Lake

Bihar’s only wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention lies neglected and is on the brink of drying up.

  • It was declared a Ramsar site in August 2020.

About the Site:

  • The lake lies in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
  • It acts as a vital flood buffer for the region besides providing livelihood opportunities to local communities.
  • It is an important stopover along the Central Asian Flyway, with 58 migratory waterbirds using it to rest and refuel.
  • Threats:
    • Major threats to the Site include water management activities such as drainage, water abstraction, damming and canalization.

Species in News
Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)

The Holy Land is in flames again after Palestinian group Hamas overran southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. According to the Arabian folklore, the Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) is found across the whole of the Arabian Peninsula.

About the Species:

  • The Arabian leopard is extinct in its entire northern range, including all historic distribution ranges on the Sinai Peninsula, the Negev, and the Judaean Desert.
  • Remnant nuclei of Arabian leopards are today restricted to Oman, Yemen, and possibly some animals in the southern part of Saudi Arabia.
  • The Arabian leopard is the smallest leopard subspecies.
  • It was tentatively affirmed as a distinct subspecies by genetic analysis of a single wild leopard from South Arabia, which appeared most closely related to the African leopard.

New toad species

A group of scientists from India and the United Kingdom have discovered a new species of toads, the third of a genus found only in a very narrow area in northeast India.

About the Species:

  • The discovery of the new species – Bufoides bhupathyi – found in the Dampa tiger reserve of Mizoram was published in the latest issue of Biodiversitas, a journal published in Indonesia.
  • The two earlier known species from;
  • The genus ‘bufoides’ – Bufoides meghalayanus and
  • Bufoides kempi – were found in Meghalaya.

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