Daily Current Affairs for UPSC – 8th August 2023

GS 1

18th century Tamil Manuscripts found in monastery in Italy

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-07/th_chennai/articleGGPBJ79QS-3827147.ece

Context: Palm manuscripts from the 18th Century named Gnanamuyarchi have been uncovered in an Armenian monastery located in northern Italy.

Relevance: GS 1 History

Probable Content of Manuscripts:

  • Manuscripts potentially contain a copy of the first Tamil translation of Spiritual Exercises.
  • The Spiritual Exercises were written by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century.
  • This translation is likely attributed to Michele Bertoldi, known in Tamil as Gnanaprakasasamy.
Probable Content of Manuscripts:


  • The discovery holds importance in terms of Tamil literary and religious history.
  • Reveals potential insights into the localization of Christianity in pre-modern Tamil Nadu by Roman Catholics.

GS 3

PM launches revamp of 508 Amrit Bharat railway stations

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of 508 railway stations across India.

Relevance: GS -3 Railways / Infrastructure

Geographical Distribution:

  • The 508 stations are spread across 27 States and Union Territories.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have 55 each, Bihar has 49, Maharashtra has 44, West Bengal has 37, Madhya Pradesh has 34, Assam has 32, and others.
  • The cost of the project is over ₹24,470 crore.

Amrit Bharat Station Scheme:

  • The redevelopment is part of the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme.
  • A total of 1,300 prime railway stations in India will undergo redevelopment.
  • Stations will be transformed into “city centres” with integration of both sides of a city.
Amrit Bharat Station Scheme:

Enhanced Passenger Amenities:

  • Redeveloped stations will feature improved seating on platforms, upgraded waiting rooms, and free Wi-Fi.
  • Focus on modern passenger amenities, well-designed traffic circulation, inter-modal integration, and passenger signage.

Northeast India Rail Expansion:

  • Rail expansion efforts in Northeast India include doubling of lines, gauge conversion, electrification, and new routes.
  • Plan to connect all State capitals in the Northeast via the railway network.
  • Nagaland gets its second railway station after a century.

Cultural Integration and Design:

  • Station buildings will be inspired by local culture, heritage, and architecture.
  • Design elements reflecting local landmarks, like Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, and Raghunath Mandir.

Freight Corridor Development:

  • Over 2,200 km of dedicated freight corridors have been built in the last nine years.
  • Significantly reduced travel time for goods trains, facilitating trade and commerce.
  • Goods trains now reach western ports from Delhi-NCR in 24 hours (previously 72 hours).

Green Initiatives:

  • Focus on producing green energy from every railway station.
  • Installation of LED lights in around 70,000 coaches and a substantial increase in bio-toilets.
  • Aim to build all Amrit stations to green building standards.

Net-Zero Emissions Vision:

  • Prime Minister Modi’s vision is to have India’s railway network operate on net-zero emissions by 2030.
  • This emphasizes the government’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

M.P. strategy for tigers can help cheetahs too

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-07/th_chennai/articleGGPBJ77DB-3827204.ece

Context: Madhya Pradesh achieved a 50% increase in its tiger population, securing the top spot in the 2022 tiger census.

Relevance: GS -3 Environment

Tiger Conservation Strategies:

  • Madhya Pradesh’s Forest Department actively moved tigers and their prey within the state to balance predator and prey populations.
  • Key strategies include incentivized voluntary village relocations, prey supplementation, reintroduction of species like Barasingha and Gaur to new habitats, and successful prey translocations.
  • This approach has helped restore low-density areas and contribute to tiger population growth.
Relevance: GS -3 Environment

Active Prey Management:

  • Active prey management involves relocating prey species to areas with lower prey density to balance the ecosystem.
  • In instances where tiger populations become too concentrated, tigers are safely translocated to regions with adequate prey populations.
  • This process requires significant effort and labor-intensive activities.

Challenges and Necessity of Active Management:

  • While nature tends to correct predator-prey imbalances over time, various pressures on habitats and human-wildlife conflicts necessitate active management.
  • The process accelerates ecosystem balance and ensures the survival of both predator and prey populations.

Similar Strategies for Cheetah Population:

  • Similar principles of active prey management are recommended for establishing a viable cheetah population.
  • The project translocating African cheetahs to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh faces challenges, with six cheetahs dying out of the 20 translocated.
  • Lessons from tiger and other ungulate conservation practices inform cheetah management approaches.

Collaborative Efforts and Conservation Principles:

  • Madhya Pradesh’s success in tiger conservation involves collaborative efforts and strategic management.
  • The application of similar principles to the cheetah project emphasizes the importance of prey management for successful conservation.
  • The delicate balance between predator and prey populations is crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Future Conservation Considerations:

  • Active management practices are particularly relevant as habitat pressures and conflicts continue to affect wildlife populations.
  • Sustainable conservation efforts require adaptive strategies to ensure the survival of endangered species and maintain ecological balance.

5% of birds in India are endemic, says Zoological Survey of India publication

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-07/th_chennai/articleGGPBJ77D9-3827205.ece

5% of birds in India are endemic, says Zoological Survey of India publication

Context: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) released a publication titled “75 Endemic Birds of India” on its 108th foundation day.

Relevance: GS 3 Environment

Relevance: GS 3 Environment

The publication emphasizes that around 5% of bird species found in India are endemic and not found elsewhere globally.

Indian Bird Diversity:

  • India hosts 1,353 bird species, constituting about 12.4% of global bird diversity.
  • Of these, 78 species (5%) are endemic, exclusively found within India.

Notable Endemic Species:

  • The Manipur bush quail, Himalayan quail, and Jerdon’s courser are three species that have not been recorded in recent decades.
  • Manipur bush quail is listed as “endangered,” Himalayan quail as “critically endangered,” and Jerdon’s courser as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Conservation Significance:

  • The publication underscores the importance of conserving habitats for endemic bird species to prevent their decline.
  • Raising awareness among common people and students about these restricted-range endemic species is a key objective.

Endemic Bird Hotspot: Western Ghats:

  • The Western Ghats region records the highest number of endemic bird species (28 species).
  • Notable species in this bio-geographic hotspot include the Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar parakeet, Ashambu laughingthrush, and white-bellied sholakili.

Special Focus on Conservation:

  • The publication’s release coincided with India’s celebration of 75 years of Independence.
  • Highlighting endemic birds is essential for their conservation, and their habitats need to be preserved.

Importance of Endemic Species:

  • Endemic species play a critical role in preserving biodiversity and reflecting the uniqueness of a region’s ecology.
  • By focusing on endemic birds, India contributes to global conservation efforts and showcases its diverse avian heritage.

Is India’s sugar surplus leading to a crisis?

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-07/th_chennai/articleGCFBJ5G5M-3827258.ece

Context: India became the world’s top sugar producer, surpassing Brazil, with 359 lakh tonnes in 2021-2022.

Relevance: GS 3 Economy

Excess Sugar Production and Depleting Resources:

  • Overuse of resources in sugar production is depleting rapidly, potentially leading to a future crisis.
  • Sugarcane over-cultivation creates a sugar surplus, high exports, and negatively impacts groundwater.

Factors Contributing to Excess Sugar Production:

  • Policies like the fair and remunerative price (FRP) scheme and state subsidies favor sugarcane cultivation.
  • Subsidies are used to incentivize sugarcane farming, potentially for political gains.
  • Excessive production has led to export surpluses and trade disputes, including a WTO case.

Efforts to Address Sugar Surplus:

  • The Indian government considered diverting sugar surplus to ethanol production.
  • Ethanol production involves fermenting sugarcane molasses and is used in fuels, chemicals, and cosmetics.
  • Ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) programs reduce emissions, dependence on crude oil, and have achieved a 10% blending rate.

Impact on Groundwater from Sugarcane Cultivation:

  • Sugarcane’s water-intensive cultivation affects groundwater resources.
  • Over-reliance on groundwater from confined aquifers in regions with lower rainfall impacts water availability.
  • Sugarcane cultivation requires significant amounts of water, raising concerns in drought-prone areas.

Solutions to Address the Issue:

  • Correcting incentives skewed toward sugarcane over other crops is crucial to reducing surplus.
  • Implementing fair and comprehensive subsidy schemes can encourage crop diversification, prevent monocultures, and ensure equitable income.
  • Environmentally responsible sugarcane cultivation practices like drip irrigation reduce water consumption by up to 70%.
  • Investing in water-saving and management systems, such as rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment, minimizes groundwater stress.
  • Groundwater research and data collection need to be prioritized to understand availability and distribution.

Focus on Sustainability:

  • As India becomes a global agricultural frontrunner, prioritizing sustainability is essential.
  • Balancing production, resource use, and environmental conservation ensures long-term viability of the sugar industry and groundwater resources.


President unveils Bharathi’s portrait in Raj Bhavan; renames Durbar Hall

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/2023-08-07/th_chennai/articleGGPBJ7HT9-3827139.ece

Context: President Droupadi Murmu unveiled a portrait of nationalist Tamil poet-journalist Subramania Bharathi at Raj Bhavan. The Durbar Hall was renamed as ‘Bharathiar Mandapam’ in his honor.

Renaming of Durbar Hall:

  • The Durbar Hall on the Raj Bhavan campus was renamed ‘Bharathiar Mandapam’ in tribute to Subramania Bharathi.
  • The hall is commonly used for public functions, including swearing-ins and other ceremonies.

Subramania Bharathi (1882-1921) was a prominent Indian poet, journalist, freedom fighter, and social reformer. He played a significant role in India’s struggle for independence and is celebrated for his contributions to literature and nationalism.

Subramania Bharathi (1882-1921

Early Life and Education:

  • Born on December 11, 1882, in Ettayapuram, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • Showed exceptional talent in poetry and literature from a young age.
  • Received education in Tirunelveli and graduated with a degree in law from the Government Law College, Chennai.

Literary Contributions:

  • Known as “Mahakavi Bharathi” (Great Poet Bharathi) due to his prolific and impactful poetry.
  • Explored themes of patriotism, social reform, feminism, and spirituality in his works.
  • Penned poems in Tamil and wrote for various Tamil publications, expressing his thoughts on freedom and social issues.
  • Advocated for the upliftment of women, eradication of caste-based discrimination, and the importance of education.

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