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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 12 March 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy


  1. Similipal fire: Mankidia tribals in distress
  2. India-Japan Space cooperation, China-Russia ILRS
  3. ICAR receives King Bhumibol World Soil Day-2020 Award



Recently, a massive fire broke out in the Similipal Biosphere Reserve in Odisha, threatening damage to its rich biodiversity.

Among the communities affected are two of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) in Odisha — Mankidias and Khadias — that have lost their livelihoods to the inferno.  


GS-I: Indian Society, Geography GS-III: Environment and Ecology, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Similipal Biosphere Reserve
  2. About the Mankidia Tribe
  3. About the Kharia people
  4. What are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)?

About Similipal Biosphere Reserve

  • The Similipal Biosphere Reserve was formally designated a tiger reserve in 1956, and later on in 1994- it was declared as a biosphere reserve by the Government.
  • It has been part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserve since 2009.
  • It is situated in the northern part of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Geographically, it lies in the eastern end of the eastern ghat.
  • Vegetation of the Similipal Biosphere Reserve includes tropical semi-evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous hill forests, high level sal forests and sprawling meadows.
  • Similipal is home to a wide range of wild animals including tigers and elephants, besides more than 300 species of birds, more than 100 species of flowering plants.
  • It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes 3 protected areas i.e., Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadagarh Wildlife sanctuary and Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary.
  • Two tribes, the Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias, inhabit the reserve’s forests and practise traditional agricultural activities (the collection of seeds and timber).
  • Natural causes such as lighting or even soaring temperatures can sometimes result in forest fires here.
  • Instances of poaching and hunting wherein the poachers set a small patch of forest on fire to divert the wild animals, can lead to forest fires.
A viable tiger population in Similipal Tiger Reserve, India? Calculating if  the ungulate prey base is limiting

About the Mankidia Tribe

  • The Mankidia are a nomadic tribal group found mainly in many districts of Odisha, India – particularly Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Sundergarh.
  • The Mankidia specialize in catching monkeys (called Mankada in Odia).
  • This semi-nomadic hunter/gatherer community is skilled in rope making, catching, and hunting of monkeys, they are often employed by local people to drive away invasive monkeys in rural areas.
  • Besides hunting they also engage in making baskets and ropes out of Siali fiber, Sabai grass and Jute, as well as making disposable plates made out of leaves called Khali.

About the Kharia people

  • The Kharia are an Austroasiatic tribal ethnic group from east-central India, speaking the Kharia language, which belong to Austroasiatic languages.
  • They are sub-divided into three groups known as the Hill Kharia, Delki Kharia and the Dudh Kharia.
  • In Odisha, the Hill Kharia is a food gathering, hunting and labourer community – mainly found in Jashipur and Karanjia Blocks of Mayurbhanj district.

What are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)?

  • Tribal communities are often identified by some specific signs such as primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness to contact with the community at large and backwardness.
  • Some tribal groups have some specific features such as dependency on hunting, gathering for food, having pre-agriculture level of technology, zero or negative growth of population and extremely low level of literacy, which are called Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
  • Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine



  • Indian and Japanese space agencies reviewed cooperation in earth observation, lunar cooperation and satellite navigation, and also agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in “space situational awareness and professional exchange programme”.
  • China and Russia said they will build a lunar research station, possibly on the moon’s surface, marking the start of a new era in space cooperation between the two countries.


GS-III: Science and Technology (Developments in Space technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About India-Japan space agencies Cooperation
  2. About the China-Russia International Lunar Research Station (ILRS)
  3. Other Space exploration projects Recently in News:

About India-Japan space agencies Cooperation

  • A bilateral meeting between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) lead to the signing of “Implementing Arrangement for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data.
  • India and Japan are already working on a joint lunar polar exploration (LUPEX) mission and the two space agencies have been working on the mission that aims to send a lander and rover to the Moon’s south pole around 2024.

About the China-Russia International Lunar Research Station (ILRS)

  • The International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) is a comprehensive scientific experiment base with the capability of long-term autonomous operation.
  • The station would be built on the lunar surface and/or on the lunar orbit that would carry out scientific research activities such as the lunar exploration and utilization, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiment and technical verification.
  • Russia and China will facilitate extensive cooperation in the ILRS, open to all interested countries and international partners.
  • ILRS will strengthen scientific research exchanges, and promote humanity’s exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

Other Space exploration projects Recently in News:

  1. Chandrayaan-3: India is working on Chandrayaan-3 which is successor to the Chandrayaan-2 mission and it will likely attempt another soft-landing on the lunar surface.
  2. India’s Space Station: India has set its eye on building its own space station in low earth orbit to conduct microgravity experiments in space in 5 to 7 years.
  3. NASA’s Artemis: Earlier, in 2020, National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) published the outline for its Artemis program, which plans to send the next man and first woman to the lunar surface by the year 2024.
  4. UAE’s Rashid: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to send an unmanned spacecraft named Rashid to the moon in 2024.
  5. China’s Chang’e-4 and Chang’e-5 Missions: Chang’e-4 is the first probe ever to explore the far side of the moon by China, which will collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins and formation.

-Source: The Hindu, Hindu Business Line



The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) received the International “King Bhumibol World Soil Day – 2020 Award” conferred by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome.


GS-III: Agriculture 

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award?
  2. Similar award: Glinka World Soil Prize
  3. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
  4. Aims and functions of ICAR

What is the King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award?

  • The King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award acknowledges individuals or institutions that raise public awareness of soils by organising successful and influential World Soil Day celebrations.
  • The award, sponsored by the Kingdom of Thailand, is named after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand for his lifelong commitment to raising awareness of the importance of sustainable soil management and rehabilitation for food security, poverty alleviation and more.

Similar award: Glinka World Soil Prize

  • The Glinka World Soil Prize is an annual award, also conferred by FAO, awarded to dynamic change-makers dedicated to solving the issue of soil degradation.
  • It honors individuals and organizations whose leadership and activities have contributed, or are still contributing to the promotion of sustainable soil management and the protection of soil resources.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India.
  • It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture, and The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.
  • It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.

Aims and functions of ICAR

  1. To plan, undertake, aid, promote and coordinate education, research and its application in agriculture, agroforestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, home science and allied sciences.
  2. To act as a clearing house of research and general information relating to agriculture, animal husbandry, home science and allied sciences, and fisheries through its publications and information system; and instituting and promoting transfer of technology programmes.
  3. To provide, undertake and promote consultancy services in the fields of education, research, training and dissemination of information in agriculture, agroforestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, home science and allied sciences.
  4. To look into the problems relating to broader areas of rural development concerning agriculture, including postharvest technology by developing co-operative programmes with other organizations such as the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the universities.
  5. To do other things considered necessary to attain the objectives of the Society.

-Source: PIB

December 2023