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Published: 11th Aug, 2023

History (GS-I)

Tamil Manuscripts found in Northern Italy

Recently, Palm manuscripts from the 18th Century titled ‘Gnanamuyarchi ‘have been discovered in an Armenian monastery in Northern Italy.

Key-highlights:

  • The monastery had categorised the manuscripts as ‘Indian Papyrus Lamulic Language–XIII Century’, and the authorities were not aware that it had been written in Tamil.
  • Those in charge of the monastery are of the opinion that the Armenians in Chennai could have brought the manuscripts to Italy.
  • This is a prose text from the early 18th Century (likely the 1720s) and has been printed several times in the 19th Century by the Mission Press in Puducherry.

When Armenian’s came to India?

  • According to literary evidence, Indian settlements in Armenia existed as early as 149 BC.
  • Thomas Cana is said to be the first Armenian to have landed on the Malabar cost in 780 AD.
  • Long before the Dutch and the English appeared in India, a few Armenian traders had come to Agra during the Mughal Empire.
  • In the 16th Century, while fleeing persecution by the Ottoman Turks, Armenian community of merchants found its way into Madras, trading in spices and silks.
  • The oldest tombstone of an Armenian found in Madras is dated 1663.
  • Many were employed at the East India Company, which later granted land to the community to build a church.
  • Around the 1950s, many Armenians started moving to other countries and only a few stayed.
  • Those that remain in the city today are Armenians who have moved to Chennai, married into families here, and stay on because of strong ties with the city.

International Relations (GS-II)

Malabar Exercise

Australia to host latest edition of 10-day Malabar exercise for first time.

Key-highlights

  • Edition: 31st
  • Participants: India, Australia, Japan and the U.S
  • Australia was included as a permanent member of Ex. Malabar in 2020 amid the stand-off with China in Eastern Ladakh. 
  • Location: The exercise will take place in a large designated area, the East Australian exercise area, and will have a harbour and sea phase.
  • Exercise Malabar will be followed by AUSINDEX, the India-Australia bilateral naval exercise.
  • Fielding
    • Australia: HMAS Choules and HMAS Brisbane
    • Indian Navy: INS Kolktata and INS Sahyadri
    • The US and Japan are sending in a warship each

Link between Malabar and Quad

  • Malabar and the Quad (India, the United States, Japan, and Australia) are different and the latter was not a military grouping.
  • However, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) has emerged as a key focus area for the Quad with the four countries announcing an Indo-Pacific MDA to assist countries in the region.

About Malabar Exercise

  • It began as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992.
  • Now, it is a multilateral war-gaming naval exercise.
  • It gained further prominence with joining of the navies of Australia and Japan.

Polity and Governance

INTERPOL Global Academy Network

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Academy of India took a significant step towards enhancing international cooperation and bolstering law enforcement efforts by officially joining the INTERPOL Global Academy Network.

INTERPOL Global Academy Network:

  • INTERPOL Global Academy Network was launched in 2019.
  • This is led by INTERPOL’s Capacity Building and Training Directorate and aims to lead a global approach to law enforcement training.
  • By assisting INTERPOL in delivering specialized training on its policing capabilities, offering programmes of continuing education, jointly developing and delivering new training programmes, and collaborating on joint research projects, Network members support INTERPOL in expanding up skilling opportunities for law enforcement around the globe.

About INTERPOL:

  • The International Police Organization is commonly known as
  • It is an international organization facilitating international police cooperation against cross-border terrorism, trafficking, and other crime.
  • INTERPOL has 194 member countries, making us the world’s largest police organization.
  • All decisions regarding the activities of INTERPOL are made by the General Assembly which is the supreme governing body which meets annually.
  • It is an independent international organization.
  • Headquartered: Lyon in France.
  • It was founded in 1923.
  • Each country hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), which links national police with global network. In India, CBI is the NCB.

Polity and Governance

Assam Rifles

Recently, the Assam Rifles were removed from key checkpoint in Manipur.

About:

  • Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • While it’s administrative control is with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army which comes under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), making Rifles the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure.
    • The other forces being the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region. 

Polity and Governance

GodhanNyayYojana

Recently, the Chhattisgarh government has transferred more than Rs.15 crore to cattle-rearers, women SHGs and 'gauthan' committees as a part of his government's flagship GodhanNyayYojna (GNY) in online mode.

About the scheme:

  • The GodhanNyayYojna (GNY) was launched in 2020 under which cow dung is procured at 2 per kilogram at gauthans and is used to prepare vermicompost.
  • A total of Rs.541.66 crore has been given so far to the beneficiaries under the GNY.
  • The state government also started procuring cow urine at 4 per kilogram.
  • Goal of Godhan Nyaya Yojana: Increase in the income of animal herders, restriction on livestock movement & open grazing, promotion of use of organic fertilizers & reducing the use of chemical fertilizers, availability of organic fertilizers at the local level, strengthening of local self-help groups/employment opportunities for unemployed youths/gaushalas, help in increasing the fertility of the land and availability of chemical fertilizers.

Polity and Governance

G20 EMPOWER summit

The G20 EMPOWER Summit has begun in Gandhinagar to draw attention to women-led development.

About:

  • In the summit Union Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs, addressed the importance of TechEquity, a Digital Inclusion platform under India’s G20 Presidency.
  • She stressed its role in empowering women globally, especially in education and STEM careers.
  • The summit introduced the Playbook, focusing on grassroots achievements by women—stories that may have otherwise remained hidden.
  • The summit launched a platform to promote digital literacy, financial literacy, and technical skills for women.
  • Available in 120 languages, the platform aims to reach one million users worldwide.
  • The private sector was urged to take an active role, beyond finance, in mentoring and enabling growth.
  • The alliance also revealed a mentorship platform to enhance collaboration.

Environment

Flash flood in Uttarakhand

Recently, Twelve people have gone missing after a flash flood occurred near Gaurikund on the Kedarnathyatra route.

What are Flash Floods?

  • Flash Floods can be caused by a number of things, but is most often due to extremely heavy rainfall from thunderstorms.
  • Flash Floods can occur due to Dam or Levee Breaks, and/or Mudslides (Debris Flow).

Reasons of occurrence:

  • Urban Areas are also prone to flooding in short time-spans and, sometimes, rainfall (from the same storm) over an urban area will cause flooding faster and more-severe than in the suburbs or countryside.
  • The impervious surfaces in the urban areas do not allow water to infiltrate the ground, and the water runs off to the low spots very quickly.

Factors affecting flash floods:

  • The intensity of the rainfall, the location and distribution of the rainfall, the land use and topography, vegetation types and growth/density, soil type, and soil water-content.

Consequences:

  • Flash Flooding occurs so quickly that people are caught off-guard.
  • Their situation may become dangerous if they encounter high, fast-moving water while traveling.

Economy (GS-III)

National Handloom Day

National Handloom Day is commemorated annually on 7 August.

About

  • It is the day when the nation comes together to celebrate its 35 lakh handloom workers.
  • Women play an important role in the handloom sector as over 70% of all weavers and allied workers being women.
  • The date connects with the independence struggle when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Swadeshi Movement in 1905 to encourage indigenous industries and in particular handloom weavers.
  • e-portal of ‘BhartiyaVastraevamShilpKosh’: It is a recently launched Repository of Textiles and Crafts that has been developed by the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).

Swadeshi Movement

  • The Swadeshi Movement, now known as 'Make in India' campaign was officially proclaimed on August 7, 1905 in Bengal.
  • Boycott movement was also launched along with the Swadeshi movement.
  • The movements included using goods produced in India and burning British-made goods.
  • Bal GandadharTilak encouraged Swadeshi and Boycott movement after the British government decided the partition of Bengal.

Science and Technology

Russia to launch first moon lander Luna-25

Russia is set to launch its first lunar landing spacecraft on August 11, 2023.

  • It might be on track to either match or narrowly surpass Chandrayaan-3’s anticipated lunar landing.

About Luna-25 mission:

  • The Luna-25 spacecraft, weighing 8 tons and carrying 31 kg of scientific equipment, will spend five to seven days in lunar orbit.
  • The Luna-25 mission, which will take off from the Vostochnycosmodrome.
  • The primary objective of the lunar lander is to reach the Moon’s southern polar area, where it will conduct research on the polar regolith’s composition, as well as study the plasma and dust elements present in the lunar polar exosphere.
  • The emergence of Luna-25 marks a notable shift in Russia’s lunar aspirations, as the country seeks to collaborate with China in the intensified global competition to conquer the Moon’s terrain.

Science and Technology

OS Maya

In the face of increasing cyber and malware attacks on defence as well as critical infrastructure across the country, the Defence Ministry has decided to replace the Microsoft Operating System (OS) in all computers connected to the Internet with a new OS, Maya, based on open-source Ubuntu developed locally.

About OS Maya:

  • Maya has the interface and all functionality like Windows and users will not feel much difference as they transition to it.
  • The direction has been given to install Maya on all computers connected to the Internet.
  • Currently, Maya is being installed only in Defence Ministry systems and not on computers connected to the networks of the three Services.
  • Maya was developed by government development agencies within six months.
  • Maya would prevent malware attacks and other cyberattacks.

Ubuntu

  • Ubuntu is a Linux distro based on Debian.
  • It is suitable for cloud computing, servers, desktops, and internet of things (IoT) devices.
  • The main difference between Linux and Ubuntu is that the former is an operating system family based on Unix, while Ubuntu is a Linux distribution.

Science and Technology

Voyager mission

More than a week after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) lost communication with Earth’s longest-running space probe, Voyager 2, has detected ‘a signal’ from the spacecraft.

About Voyager 2 mission:

  • Voyager 2 is the second spacecraft to enter interstellar space — the region that lies outside the impact of our Sun’s constant flow of material and magnetic field.
  • The first was Voyager 1, sent to space.
  • Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are identical spacecraft. Each of them is equipped with instruments to carry out 10 different experiments.
  • The instruments include television cameras — to take images of planets and other celestial bodies — infrared and ultraviolet sensors, magnetometers, plasma detectors, and cosmic-ray and charged-particle sensors.
  • Fifteen months after its launch, Voyager 1 reached its first target planet, Jupiter.
  • Voyager 2 arrived at Uranus in 1986, becoming the first human-made object to fly past the aquamarine planet.
  • After the Neptune encounter, Voyager 2, like Voyager 1, was put on the path to head out of the solar system.

Science and Technology

Lunar Codex Programme

The Lunar Codex programme is an ambitious initiative that seeks to fetch human creativity into the very fabric of the moon.

  • It was spearheaded by Samuel Peralta.

About:

  • Lunar Codex is stored on memory cards or laser etched on NanoFiche, a 21st-century update on film-based microfiche.
  • These will ensure that the art forms reach the lunar surface safely.
  • This initiative is a message to future generations to remind them that war, pandemics and economic crises did not stop people from creating works of art.
  • The collection of art is gathered from 30,000 artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians from 157 countries.
  • Capsules:The art forms include images, magazines, books, podcasts, movies and music, which are divided into four capsules.
    • The first such capsule is known as the Orion collection, which has already flown around the moon when it launched on the Orion spacecraft as part of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission last year.
  • A series of lunar landers will take the Lunar Codex capsules to various destinations in craters at the moon’s South Pole and a lunar plain called Sinus Viscositatis.

Science and Technology

Finger Minutiae Record – Finger Image Record (FMR-FIR) modality

UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) is employing artificial intelligence-based technology to address fraud in the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS).

  • The technology is called Finger Minutiae Record–Finger Image Record (FMR-FIR) modality.

What is FMR-FIR?

  • FMR-FIR modality is an Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning technology used by UIDAI to prevent fraud in Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS).

How does it work?

  • It verifies the authenticity of fingerprints during authentication by combining finger minutiae (distinct ridge characteristics) and finger images.
  • This technology helps detect cloned fingerprints, ensuring that only real fingerprints are used for verification, thus enhancing security and preventing fraud.

Need:

  • In FY2023, the total number of fraud cases in the banking system was 13,530.
    • Of this, almost 49 per cent or 6,659 cases were in the digital payment – card/internet – category.

General Science

Maggot Infection

Ninth Cheetah (Dhatri, the female cheetah) in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park died due to Maggot Infection.

About Maggots

  • Maggots are the larvae of flies and are typically found in decaying organic matter.
  • They are small and worm-like with pointed heads and no limbs.
  • Although they are typically no longer than 1 inch, as maggots feed and grow, they can become quite large.
  • At first, they are soft and white in color, but as they mature, they turn gray or black and their bodies harden. 

Science & Technology (GS-III)

AUV Neerakshi

An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) designed to detect mines and a first of its kind in the country was launched recently.

About

  • Neerakshi is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) designed to detect mines and a first of its kind in the country.
  • The AUV named 'Neerakshi' is a collaboration of Kolkata-based warshipmaker Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd and MSME entity AEPL.
  • It is the 2.1-metre long cylindrical unmanned vehicle about a foot in diameter and weighing around 45 kg.

Species in News

Ancient Peruvian whale

Researchers have identified a gigantic species named, Perucetus colossus bigger than the extinct whale from bones excavated more than a decade ago.

About:

  • Perucetus colossus was an early whale from Peru that lived about 38-40 million years ago.
  • It was a marine mammal built somewhat like a manatee that may have exceeded the mass of the blue whale.
  • Perucetus is believed to have been around 20 meters (66 feet) long and to have weighed up to 340 metric tons.
    • In comparison, the heaviest blue whale ever recorded weighed 180 metric tons, according to Guinness World Records.
  • Main feature:extreme weight, heavy skeleton, slow swimmer

Species in News

Indian eagle-owl

The Indian eagle-owl was classified as a species only in recent years, thus distinguishing it from the Eurasian eagle-owl. The Indian species is an imposing bird.

About the Species:

  • The Bengal eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis), also widely known as the Indian eagle-owl or rock eagle-owl, is a large horned owl species native to hilly and rocky scrub forests in the Indian Subcontinent.
  • It is a nocturnal species, bigger in size and does not have a dependency on forests.
  • They eat rats, bandicoots, and doves living in open scrubland and agricultural tracts.
  • Nearby rocky perches and crags provide ideal settings for its nests.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN Red list: Least Concern
    • CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora): Appendix II

Species in News

Yellow-Bellied Snake

A rare yellow belly snake was seen on the coast of Digha Bay of Bengal amid huge tides recently.

About the species:

  • Scientific name:Pelamisplaturus
  • The rare yellow belly snake is mainly found in the Arabian Sea.
  • The side of the tail is like the paddle of a boat and the lower abdomen is yellow making it different from other reptile species.
  • It is very poisonous and even antivenom does not work for snake bites.
  • The intensity of the poison is so high that the person can die due to the snake bite.
    • In West Bengal, four species of venomous snakes are found i.e., Kalach, Keute, Gokhro and Chandrabora.
  • Experts believe that once a yellow-belly snake bites, the human body becomes completely paralyzed.
  • IUCN Red List:Least Concern

Sea Snakes in India

  • There are 24 types of sea snakes in India and the yellow belly found in Digha is the most poisonous.

Location in News

Manas Tiger Reserve

The All India Tiger Estimation 2022 published in July has indicated that western Assam’s Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve is moving from a low- to high-tiger-density area, but has found with almost 63% short of staff.

About the reserve:

  • The Reserve is located in the Himalayan foothills in Assam.
  • It is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
  • River: The Manas River flows through the west of the park.

Other Tiger Reserves in Assam

  • Kaziranga
  • Nameri
  • Orang
    • Manas is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River.
  • It is a UNESCO natural world heritage site.
  • Significance: The Park is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog. It is also famous for its population of wild water buffalo.
  • Species found: The Greater One-Horned Rhino, Swamp Deer, Pygmy Hog and Hispid Hare, Golden Langur, Endangered Bengal Florican, and other unique and endangered species depend on the Manas National Park for vital and sustainable habitats.

Location in news

Red Sea

US deploys thousands of troops in Red Sea as tensions with Iran intensify.

About Red Sea

  • It is the world’s northernmost tropical sea and is also one of the most heavily travelled waterways.
  • It is a part of the Great Rift Valley.
  • It is a semi-enclosed, inlet (or extension) of the Indian Ocean between the continents of Africa from Asia.
  • It is connected to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean to the south through the Gulf of Aden and the narrow strait of Bab el Mandeb.
  • The northern portion of the Red Sea is bifurcated by the Sinai Peninsula into the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez, where it is connected to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.
  • A total of 6 countries of Asia and Africa, border the Red Sea. 
  • East: Yemen and Saudi Arabia
  • North and West: Egypt
  • West: Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti
  • The Gulf of Aqaba is bordered by Egypt along with Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
  • Besides these 6 countries, some other areas including Somalia are also often recognized as Red Sea Territories.

Personality in News

Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951)

152nd birth anniversary of Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) was celebrated recently.

About

  • AbanindranathTagore was born in Jorasanko, Calcutta on 7 August 1871.
  • He was a revolutionary artist who played an instrumental role in establishing the Bengal School of Art which aimed at reviving traditional Indian art forms.
  • It was Abanindranath who ushered in the modem art movement in Bengal.
  • He was a supporter of Swadeshi values in India.
  • He created first created the ‘Indian Society of Oriental Art’ and later went on to establish the Bengal school of Art.
    • The Indian Society of Oriental Art was established to promote the Abanindranath-style on the national plane.
  • Famous Paintings:Passing of Shah Jahan, Bharat Mata,Radha Krishna, and Omar Khayyam.
  • Major Publications:
    • Some of his books like ‘BudoAngla’, ‘KhirerPutul’ and ‘Rajkahini’ are best examples of Bengali children’s literature.
    • His other books on art include BanglarBrata, BharatshilpeMurti, Bharatshilpa and BharatshilperSadanga - all bearing the imprint of his great depth, profundity and simplicity.
  • Victoria Memorial Hall is the custodian of the RabindraBharati Society collection, the single-largest collection of works by the artist. 

Personality in News

Balladeer Gaddar (1997-2023)

Balladeer and poet Gaddar, a prominent face of the Telangana statehood movement and an activist for the rights of Dalits and marginalised people, passed away recently in Hyderabad.

About

  • Gaddar was born to a Dalit couple at Toopran of Medak in 1949.
  • His real name was GummadiVittal Rao. He went on to become popular as ‘Gaddar’. 
  • Gaddar was the most famous social-cultural face of the Telangana statehood movement, infusing it with his soulful songs and music.

Telangana was created as India's 29th state on 2nd June 2014.

  • He took part in ‘revolutionary politics.’ He went underground in the 1980s and became a member of the CPI-ML (People’s War).
  • He was the founder of the Jana NatyaMandali, the cultural outfit of the People’s War Group (PWG) of Naxalites, which later transformed into the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
  • He was a former Maoist ideologue.
  • He was described in Telugu as ‘prajayuddhanouka’ (warship of people’s agitations).
  • Gaddar rose to be renowned as the people’s singer, highlighting people’s issues in his songs. He also acted in a few movies, including ‘MaaBhoomi’and‘Rangula Kala’.
  • Famous Songs
    • Bandenakabandikatti
    • PodustunnaPodduMeedaNadustunnaKaalamaPoruTelanganama

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