18th century Tamil Manuscripts found in monastery in Italy
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.
- 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.
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
- 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.
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).
- 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
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.
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
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
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.
- 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?
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
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.
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.
- 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.