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Published: 9th Feb, 2024

Geography (GS-I)

Volcano in Iceland

A volcano erupted recently in southwest Iceland for the second time this year, making it the sixth outbreak on the Reykjanes peninsula since 2021.

Why is Iceland a volcanic hotspot?

  • Iceland's status as a volcanic hotspot is attributed to its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge—a vast underwater mountain range created by the interaction of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
  • The constant divergence of these plates enables magmafrom the Earth's mantle to emerge, contributing to the formation and elevation of the Icelandic mountains.
  • Iceland stands out for its seismic activity not just because it's situated on a tectonic ridge, but also due to the presence of a mantle plume beneath it.
  • Unlike other locations with mantle plumes, such as Hawaii, Iceland uniquely experiences volcanic activity at the intersection of both a mantle plume and a tectonic boundary.

A volcano is an opening in the earth's crust through which lava, volcanic ash, and gases escape. 

Art and Culture

India Art Fair

India Art Fair opens in Delhi.

About:

  • First held in 2008, it is India's largest art fair.
  • It was previously known as India Art Summit.
  • It is an annual Indian modern and contemporary art fair held in New Delhi, India.
  • The fair includes paintings, sculptures, photography, mixed media, prints, drawings and video art.
  • The art fair includes several pavilions of exhibits by galleries and solo projects by several artists.
  • It focuses on key issues related with the art production, art market and its reception in India.

International Relations (GS-II)

Somalia-Ethiopia Conflict

Somali President has warned Ethiopia against taking steps to implement a controversial port deal it brokered with the breakaway region of Somaliland.

What is this controversial port deal?

  • Under a recent MOU, Somaliland (which Somalia sees as part of its territory) leased landlocked Ethiopia 20km (12 miles) of its coastland around the port of Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden, for 50 years for military and commercial purposes.
  • Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991.

International Relations (GS-II)

Quad Summit

Leaders of the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Quad will meet for a summit in India after the U.S. elections in November 2024. 

What is Quad?

  • Known as the 'Quadrilateral Security Dialogue' (QSD), the Quad comprises four nations, namely -- United States of America (USA), India, Australia and Japan.
  • It is an informal group that hold semi-regular meetings, joint military drills, and discussions about regional, economic and development assistance.
  • The framework was established in 2007, but it took on a new level of importance in 2019 with a discussion among foreign ministers amid China’s increasing influence.

International Relations (GS-II)

Phased replacement of Indian Troops in Maldives

India and the Maldives have agreed to send back the first group of Indian troops deployed in the island before March 10.

About

  • India has 87 troops (along with Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft and two HAL Dhruv helicopters) in the island nation to provide humanitarian aid and medical evacuation.
  • Currently, Indian military personnel are in the Maldives primarily to operate two helicopters and an aircraft that have carried out hundreds of medical evacuations and humanitarian missions.
  • Maldives is an independent island country in the north-central Indian Ocean.
  • It consists of a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (some 200 of which are inhabited), grouped in clusters, or atolls.
  • It is strategically located at the crossroads of several important trade routes that run through the Indian Ocean. 

International Relations (GS-II)

EXERCISE VAYUSHAKTI-2024

The Indian Air Force is all set to conduct Exercise Vayu Shakti-24 at the Pokhran Air to Ground Range, near Jaisalmer. 

About

  • Last Edition: 2019
  • The exercise, following the last edition in 2019, will involve an impressive participation of 121 aircraft.
  • Noteworthy inclusions are indigenous aircraft such as Tejas, Prachand, and Dhruv, along with other prominent models like Rafale, Mirage-2000, Sukhoi-30 MKI, Jaguar, Hawk, C-130J, Chinook, Apache, and Mi-17.
  • Indigenous Surface to Air Weapon systems Akash and Samar will exhibit their prowess in tracking and neutralizing intruding aircraft.
  • Exercise Vayu Shakti-24 aims to showcase the IAF's capability to deliver weapons with long-range precision and devastating effect, operating efficiently from multiple air bases.

Polity & Governance (GS-II)

Nagas & Manipur Conflict

An apex organisation of Nagas in Manipur has asked the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities to keep the Nagas out of their war.

Communities in Manipur

  • Meiteis, Nagas, and Kuki-Zos are the principal communities of Manipur. 
    • Meitei are the largest community in Manipur.
      • According to the last census of 2011, they are 64.6 per cent of the state population but occupy only about 10 per cent of the landmass of Manipur.
    • Other tribes: On the other hand, there are the tribals known as the Nagas and Kukis, who account for nearly 40 per cent of the population but reside across 90 per cent of Manipur’s land.

Manipur Conflict

The conflict stems from decades of contestation over land and natural resources, fuelling deep-seated resentment among both the Meiteis and Kukis.

Polity & Governance (GS-II)

PVTGs of Odisha, A.P.

The Rajya Sabha passed two bills which seek to modify the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The Upper House cleared the

  • Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, and
  • Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024

The three Ethnic Groups (Andhra Pradesh)

  • The Bill attempts to add three more ethnic groups of AP to the list of scheduled tribes in the state.
    • Bonda Porja
    • Khond Porja
    • Parangiperja

New Entries in ST List (Odisha)

  • There will be two new entries in the list of 62 ST communities of the state increasing it to 64.
  • The new entries in the ST list are
    • Muka Dora
    • Nuka Dora
  • Besides, Konda Reddy, Konda Reddi will also be included.
  • Similarly, two communities listed as SCs - Tamadia and Tamudia - will be removed from the SC list and included in the ST list under Bhumij category.
  • PVTG: In addition to this, four PVTGs will be added to the ST list of Odisha. They are Pauri Bhuyan, Paudi Bhuyan as synonyms of Bhuiya, Bhuyan; Chuktia Bhunjia as synonym of Bhunjia; Bondo as sub-entry under ST’s Bondo Poraja, Bonda Paroja, Banda Paroja; and Mankidia as synonym of ST Mankirdia.

PVTGs

  • There are 75 Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) from Andaman Island to the mainland.
  • The government has launched schemes such as PM-JANMAN to improve the socio economic conditions of the PVTGs.

Polity and Governance

RoSCTL scheme

The Union Cabinet approved the continuation of Scheme for Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) for export of Apparel/Garments and Made ups.

Scheme Features and Benefits:

  • Covers apparel/garments and made-ups
  • Provides rebate on various state and central taxes and levies, improving competitiveness.
  • Benefits transferred through duty credit scrips for customs duty payment or transfer to other importers/exporters.
  • Adopts the principle of zero-rated export, ensuring a level playing field in the international market.
  • Tax Components Covered: Includes VAT on fuel, captive power, farm sector, mandi tax, duty of electricity, stamp duty, embedded SGST and CGST on inputs, central excise duty on fuel, and compensation cess on coal.
  • After the introduction of GST in 2017, the RoSL (Rebate of State Levies) scheme was replaced by a new scheme – Rebate of State and Central Taxes Levies (RoSCTL) in March 2019.

Science & Technology

Electric Vehicle in Indian Army

Indian Army has proposed to introduce phased induction of a limited number of Electric Vehicles in ‘Peace Stations’ across the country.

Key-highlights

  • Objective: to adapt to latest technological advancements, give impetus to green energy and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
  • The Indian Army is inducting the following Electric Vehicles at peace stations:
    • Light Vehicles (Electric)
    • Buses (Electric)
    • Motor Cycles (Electric)

What are Electric Vehicles?

  • An EV is a type of vehicle that can be powered by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery and is capable of being charged from an external source.
  • An EV includes both:
    • all-electric vehicle: a vehicle that can only be powered by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery
    • plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: a vehicle that can be powered by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery and by an internal combustion

Science & Technology (GS-III)

Zodiacal Light

Zodiacal light is sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust, but where this dust originates has been an open question in astronomy.

What is Zodiacal Light?

  • It is sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust.
  • From the earth, it is visible as a faint, diffuse glow on completely dark nights.
  • Zodiacal light is present across the entire path of the ecliptic, which is the path along which the Sun moves in the sky over the course of a year.

Economy (GS-III)

Variable rate reverse repo (VRRR)

In a surprise move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) conducted two one-day variable rate reverse repo (VRRR) auctions to drain out liquidity from the banking system and re-anchor overnight money market rates at a higher level.

What is VRRR?

  • VRRR is the rate at which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) borrows money from banks for a variable period of time, usually ranging from 14 days to 56 days.
  • It is one of the tools used by the RBI to manage liquidity in the banking system and to influence shortterm interest rates.

Economy (GS-III)

White Paper

The government is all set to present a white paper on the state of the economy in Parliament soon.

What is white paper?

  • A white paper is an informational document issued by the government agency that discusses issues and other details related to the progress of the economy.
  • It is an authoritative guide.
  • The term, “white paper”, came about after the government color-coded reports to indicate who could access them, with the color white referring to public access.
  • Governments usually bring a white paper on a particular subject to discuss issues, suggest action, or draw a conclusion.
  • The white paper will provide details of the progress of the economy before 2014 when the present government came to power, and after.

Environment (GS-III)

Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI)

India’s first-ever snow leopard estimated a population of 718 in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. 

About Snow Leopard

  • Snow leopards (Panthera uncia)are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg.
  • Habitat:Snow leopards can be found throughout high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas and the southern Siberian Mountains in Russia.
    • They can also be found in the Tibetan Plateau and across a range that stretches from China to the mountains of Central Asia.
  • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas

Protection Status:

  • The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red Listof Threatened Species.
  • In addition, it is also listed in Appendix Iof the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
    • Making trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in signatory countries.
  • It is listed in Schedule Iof the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
  • It is also listed in the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), affording the highest conservation status to the species, both globally and in India

Environment (GS-III)

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

The Global Environment Facility’s 186 member governments allocated $916 million for international action on biodiversity, climate change, nature renewal, and pollution control, and advanced five Integrated Programs designed to tackle complex challenges in their entirety.

What is GEF?

  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
  • The GEF is A UNIQUE PARTNERSHIPof 18 agencies — including United Nations agencies, multilateral development banks, national entities and international NGOs — working with 183 countries to address the world’s most challenging environmental issues.
  • It is a FINANCIAL MECHANISMfor five major international environmental conventions:
    • Minamata Convention on Mercury
    • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
    • United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)
    • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
    • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
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