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Current Affairs 06 June 2024

  1. NDA Wins Third Term but Requires Coalition
  2. World Environment Day and India’s First Biospheres
  3. Indira Gandhi Zoological Park’s Wildlife Conservation Efforts
  4. Discovery of Neo Protein in Bacterial Defence Mechanisms
  5. Discovery of Ancient Rock Shelter Paintings near Pampa Lake
  6. Chang’e 6 Mission
  7. Tmesipteris oblanceolate


Context:

The NDA has won a historic third term at the Centre, but the BJP fell short of the 272-seat majority, necessitating a coalition government. Previously, the BJP’s majority in the last two Lok Sabhas marked the first time since economic reforms began in 1991 that a single party had a majority mandate, which was expected to positively impact India’s economic reform trajectory

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Coalition Governments and Weak Economic Reforms Since 1991
  2. Can a Coalition Government Derail India’s Economic Reforms Trajectory?
  3. Notable Reforms Brought by Previous Coalition Governments

Coalition Governments and Weak Economic Reforms Since 1991

Historical Context
  • Shift in Economy: Since 1991, India’s transition from a planned to an open economy has seen all governments being coalition-based, with no single party achieving the majority mark of 272.
  • Consensus for Weak Reforms: According to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, this led to a “strong consensus for weak reforms.”
  • Divergence on Reforms: Although there was general agreement on the need for economic reforms, coalition parties often diverged on specifics, resulting in diluted measures.

Can a Coalition Government Derail India’s Economic Reforms Trajectory?

Diverse Interests and Challenges
  • Historical Challenges: Coalition governments in India have historically faced challenges in implementing strong economic reforms due to differing priorities among coalition partners.
  • Varied Agendas: Coalition partners often have varied political and economic agendas, leading to compromises and diluted reforms.
  • Slowing Reforms: This can slow down or alter the trajectory of economic reforms.
Consensus and Instability
  • Broader Consensus: While coalition governments can foster broader consensus, the need to appease various factions might lead to weaker reform measures.
  • Complex Issues: Achieving a unified stance on complex economic issues becomes difficult.
  • Policy Instability: Frequent changes in coalition partners or internal disagreements can lead to policy instability, affecting investor confidence and long-term economic planning.
Recent Efforts and Challenges
  • Modi Government: The past decade under PM Narendra Modi aimed to resolve coalition government weaknesses, ensuring policy stability and boosting investor confidence.
  • Significant Reforms: Reforms like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code were introduced.
  • Unachieved Goals: Despite these efforts, certain goals were not fully achieved, such as failing to reform land acquisition and repealing farm reforms after widespread protests.
  • Economic Uncertainty: The demonetization announcement also caused significant economic uncertainty.
Conclusion
  • Not a General Truth: The statement that coalition governments will necessarily derail India’s economic reforms trajectory is not generally true.
  • Historical Achievements: Coalition governments since 1991 have undertaken some of the boldest and most visionary reforms, laying the foundation for India’s resurgence.
  • Mitigating Risks: While coalition governments can pose challenges to the economic reform trajectory, effective leadership, clear communication, and strategic compromises can mitigate these risks and maintain reform momentum.

Notable Reforms Brought by Previous Coalition Governments

P V Narasimha Rao Government: Economic Liberalization
  • Economic Reforms: Initiated major economic reforms, discarding centralized planning, and opening the Indian economy to global competition by removing the license-permit raj.
  • Global Integration: India became a member of the World Trade Organisation during this period.
Deve Gowda Government: The “Dream Budget”
  • Tax Reforms: Finance Minister P Chidambaram introduced the “dream budget,” which cut tax rates for personal income tax, corporate taxes, and customs duties, fostering trust among Indian taxpayers.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government: Fiscal and Infrastructure Reforms
  • Fiscal Responsibility: Implemented the Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management (FRBM) law to limit government borrowing and promote fiscal discipline.
  • Disinvestment and Infrastructure: Advanced the disinvestment of loss-making PSUs and boosted rural infrastructure through the PM Gram Sadak Yojana.
  • Information Technology Act: The 2000 Act laid the foundation for India’s thriving e-commerce sector.
Manmohan Singh Government: Rights-Based Reforms
  • Education Reforms: Built on the Vajpayee-era Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by enacting the Right to Education Act.
  • Transparency and Welfare: Introduced key reforms such as the Right to Information Act, the Right to Food, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MG-NREGA).
  • Economic and Technological Advances: Deregulated fuel prices, initiated direct benefit transfers, and worked on Aadhaar and GST implementation.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5th June every year to encourage awareness and environmental protection. In a remarkable initiative to combat deforestation and restore biodiversity, two environmentalists have spearheaded the creation of India’s first biospheres within tiger reserve

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Facts About World Environment Day
  2. India’s First Biosphere in a Tiger Reserve

Key Facts About World Environment Day

Establishment and Purpose

  • Established by: The United Nations Assembly in 1972.
  • Historical Context: The first day of the Stockholm Conference on the human environment.
  • Annual Celebration: World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated every year with a specific theme and slogan focusing on major environmental issues.

Recent Hosts and Themes

  • WED 2024 Host: Saudi Arabia.
  • India’s Role: Hosted the 45th celebration in 2018 under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

Key Initiatives

  • UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Initiated in 2021, a global mission to revive billions of hectares, including forests, farmlands, mountains, and seas.
  • 2024 Theme: Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience.
  • Significant Milestone: 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Significance of Land Restoration
  • Combats Environmental Issues: Addresses land degradation, drought, and desertification.
  • Economic Benefits: Each dollar invested can yield up to USD 30 in benefits from healthy ecosystems.
  • Socioeconomic Impact: Creates jobs, reduces poverty, and improves livelihoods.
  • Climate Resilience: Helps communities better withstand extreme weather events.
  • Carbon Storage: Increases carbon storage in soil and slows the pace of warming.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Restoring just 15% of degraded land could prevent a significant portion of expected species extinction.

India’s First Biosphere in a Tiger Reserve

  • Initiative by Environmentalists: Jai Dhar Gupta and Vijay Dhasmana have created India’s first biosphere in a tiger reserve.
  • Name and Location: The Rajaji Raghati Biosphere (RRB) is located within the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand.
Project Scope:
  • Area: The biosphere covers a 35-acre private forest.
  • Goals: It aims to identify and revive rare and endangered species of native trees while protecting the area from poaching and mining.
  • Previous Land Condition: The land designated for the RRB was previously barren and degraded.
  • Future Development: They are also developing a second biosphere above the Koyna River in the buffer zone of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve near Pune, Maharashtra, along the Western Ghats.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB



Context:

Recently, the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) in Visakhapatnam has been at the forefront of wildlife conservation in India, particularly in the successful breeding and nurturing of Striped hyenas and Asiatic wild dogs (Dhole).

Relevance:

GS III- Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Conservation

Dimensions of this article:

  1. Key Points About Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP)
  2. About Dholes
  3. Striped Hyenas

Key Points About Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP)

Establishment and Location:

  • Established in 1977.
  • Located amidst Seethakonda Reserve Forest in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.

Geographical Surroundings:

  • Surrounded by the Eastern Ghats on three sides and the Bay of Bengal on the fourth side.

Recognition:

  • Recognized as a large category zoo by the Central Zoo Authority.

Proximity to Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • Close to Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary, making it home to many free-ranging animals and birds.

IGZP has successfully bred several species including:

  • Striped hyenas
  • Wild dogs
  • Indian grey wolves
  • Ring-tailed lemurs
  • Indian bison
  • Blue and gold macaws
  • Jungle cats
  • Eclectus parrots

About Dholes

  • It is a wild carnivorous animal and is a member of the family Canidae and the class Mammalia.
  • They are also known as Asian wild dogs.
  • Historically, dholes purportedly occurred throughout southern Russia, all across central Asia, south Asia and southeast Asia.
  • According to recent research and current distribution maps, they are restricted to south and southeast Asia, with the northernmost populations in China.
  • In India, they are found in three clusters across India namely the Western and Eastern Ghats, central Indian landscape and North East India.
  • Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh rank high in the conservation of the endangered dhole in India, according to a study (2020).
  • Dholes play an important role as apex predators in forest ecosystems.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN List of Threatened Species: Endangered
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix II
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule II

Reasons for their Population Decreasing

  • Due to deforestation and fragmentation of forest corridors.
  • Ungulates are the main prey of dholes whose population is rapidly decreasing due to excessive hunting and habitat loss.
  • Persecution due to livestock predation and disease transfer from domestic and feral dogs.

Striped Hyenas

About

  • Species: Striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) are one of the three hyena species.
  • Other Hyena Species: Includes Brown hyenas and Spotted hyenas (the largest).
  • Characteristics: Striped hyenas are smaller and less social compared to the more well-known Spotted hyena.

Challenges to Conservation

  • Habitat Loss: Reduction in natural habitats due to human activities.
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict: Encounters with humans leading to conflicts.
  • Poaching: Illegal hunting for body parts and other purposes.
  • Illegal Wildlife Trade: Trade of hyenas or their parts in black markets.

Protection Status

  • IUCN Status: Near Threatened.
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Listed under Schedule I.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recent research has discovered a novel protein, referred to as “Neo,” which plays a critical role in bacterial defence mechanisms against viral infections, particularly bacteriophages.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Neo
  2. Reverse Transcriptase

About Neo

Discovery and Background
  • Research Team: Led by Stephen Tang and Samuel Sternberg, reported in a 2023 preprint paper on bioRxiv, while studying Klebsiella pneumoniae.
  • Bacterial Defense Mechanism: Bacteria defend against viral infections (bacteriophages) using diverse immune systems that sense and target foreign nucleic acids. One such system is the Defense-associated Reverse Transcriptase (DRT) system.
DRT-2 System Mechanism
  • Gene Synthesis: In the DRT-2 system, bacteria undergo de novo gene synthesis via rolling-circle reverse transcription (RT) of non-coding RNA (ncRNA).
  • Synthesis Process:
    • Uninfected Bacterial Cells: ncRNA and RT enzyme lead to the synthesis of a repetitive single-stranded cDNA.
    • Phage Presence: Triggers the second-strand cDNA synthesis, producing long double-stranded DNA.
    • Function of cDNA: Generates messenger RNAs that encode a stop codon-less, never-ending open-reading frame (neo). The translation of the neo protein causes potent growth arrest (cell dormancy) in bacteria, protecting the population from phage spread.
Significance in Biotechnology and Medicine
  • Potential Tool: Represents a potential biotechnological tool for controlling viral infections.
  • Evolutionary Insights: Retroelements in the human genome and bacterial reverse transcriptases share a common evolutionary history and functional mechanisms.
  • Precursors: Bacterial reverse transcriptases are believed to be precursors of their eukaryotic counterparts, exhibiting analogous mechanisms.

Reverse Transcriptase

  • Function: Enables cells to create DNA copies from RNA, a process called reverse transcription, performed by the enzyme reverse transcriptase.
  • Discovery: Discovered by Howard Temin and David Baltimore in 1970, revolutionizing molecular biology research methods.
Applications:
  • Gene Cloning: Used in molecular biology to clone genes.
  • PCR: Performs Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
  • Genome Analysis: Analyzes genomes.
  • Diagnostics: Detects and quantifies viral loads, such as in SARS-2, aiding in tracking virus spread, surveillance, public healthcare, and vaccine development.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

A team from the Karnataka State Department of Archaeology Museums and Heritage has uncovered rock shelter paintings estimated to be around 2,500 years old near Pampa Lake in the Hampi World Heritage Area.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pampa Lake
  2. Key Facts about Tungabhadra River

About Pampa Lake

Location:

  • Situated in Koppal district near Hampi in Karnataka.
  • Located to the south of the Tungabhadra River.

Significance in Hindu Mythology:

  • One of the five sacred lakes known as Panch-Sarovar, which include Man Sarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar, and Pushkar Sarovar.

Mythological Importance:

  • Regarded as the place where Pampa, a form of Shiva’s consort Parvati, performed penance to show her devotion to Shiva.
  • Mentioned in the Hindu epic, Ramayana, as the place where Shabhari, a devotee of Lord Rama, waited for his arrival.

Natural Features:

  • Surrounded by hills and temples.
  • Filled with lotuses.

Key Facts about Tungabhadra River

Geographical Importance:

  • Major river in the south Indian peninsula.
  • Major tributary of the Krishna River.

Origin:

  • Formed by the union of two rivers, Tunga and Bhadra.
  • Both rivers originate on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
  • Merge at Koodli in the Shimoga district of Karnataka.

Course:

  • Flows northwest before joining the Krishna River at Sangamaleshwaram in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Krishna River ends in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Total length: 531 km.
  • Catchment area: 28,000 sq. km.
  • Flows through Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Climate Influence:

  • Influenced chiefly by the South-West monsoon.

Major Tributaries:

  • Varada River.
  • Hagari (Vedathy) River.
  • Dams and Reservoirs:
  • Tunga Anicut Dam.
  • Bhadra Dam.
  • Hemavathy Dam.
  • Tungabhadra Dam.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

China’s space agency said that China landed an uncrewed spacecraft on the far side of the moon on 2nd of June.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Chang’e 6 Mission: Unveiling Lunar Secrets from the South Pole

Objective and Design:

  • A planned lunar lander mission, Chang’e 6 is meticulously crafted to retrieve samples from the lunar south pole, contributing pivotal data for understanding the Moon’s geological intricacies.

Sampling Strategy:

  • Aiming to secure samples from the Moon’s far side, the mission is set to collect up to two kilograms of lunar surface material, paralleling the configuration of the successful Chang’e 5 mission.

Geological Exploration:

  • Chang’e 6 embarks on the unprecedented task of exploring the far side of the Moon, unraveling geological mysteries through the analysis of collected samples.

International Collaboration:

  • Showcasing global cooperation, the mission incorporates payloads from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency CNES, including instruments for ion testing, radon gas measurement, radar calibration, and the contribution of a CubeSat from Pakistan.

Dual Components – Lander and Rover:

  • Chang’e 6 comprises a lander and a rover, with the lander executing a precise touchdown on the lunar surface. Simultaneously, the rover engages in exploration, conducts experiments, and facilitates the meticulous collection of lunar samples.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

New research shows that a fork fern species, called Tmesipteris oblanceolata, has a genome that is 7% larger than that of the previous record-holder, the Japanese flowering plant Paris japonica, and more than 50 times the size of the human genome.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Tmesipteris oblanceolate:

Habitat and Distribution:

  • A rare species of fern growing primarily on the ground or atop fallen tree trunks.
  • Found on the island nation of New Caledonia (an overseas French territory in the Southwest Pacific) and neighboring islands such as Vanuatu.

Physical Characteristics:

  • A small plant, typically 10-15 centimeters (4-6 inches) in height.

Genomic Significance:

  • Holds a record-breaking genome size of 160.45 billion base pairs (Gbp).
  • This is 11 billion more than the previous record holder, the Japanese flowering plant Paris japonica, and 50 times more than the human genome.
  • If stretched out, the DNA in each cell of this fern would extend nearly 350 feet (106 meters), while the human genome would extend only about 6-1/2 feet (2 meters).

Evolutionary Background:

  • Tmesipteris is a small genus of ferns whose ancestors evolved about 350 million years ago, well before dinosaurs set foot on Earth.

Habitat Characteristics:

  • Distinguished by its mainly epiphytic habit, meaning it grows mainly on the trunks and branches of trees.
  • Has a restricted distribution in Oceania and several Pacific Islands.
What are Ferns?

General Characteristics:

  • Plants that do not have flowers.
  • Have roots, stems, and leaves similar to flowering plants.

Reproduction:

  • Unlike flowering plants, ferns do not have flowers or seeds.
  • They usually reproduce sexually by tiny spores or can sometimes reproduce vegetatively.

-Source: The Hindu


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