Himalai Celebrating 20th-year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.

Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

1. Commit

Objective Comprehensive Online Modified Modules on Induction Training (COMMIT) for State Government officials of this training programme is to improve the public service delivery mechanism and provide citizen centric administration through capacity building of officials who interact with the citizens on day-to-day basis.

The COMMIT programme, developed by DoPT in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will supplement the existing 12-Day ITP launched in 2014-15 for newly recruited state Government officials to develop in them Generic & Domain specific competencies. The programme will cover approximately 74,000 State Government officials in the financial year 2017-18. It will be of 28 hours duration which will include e-Modules for 20 hours and face-to-face training for 8 hours. The 20 hours e-training would be imparted through specifically developed 12 Generic and 3 Domain specific e-Modules. The modules on soft skills will be delivered as e-Modules & through face-to-face training and the domain modules will be covered through e-Modules only. The programme will be implemented through State Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs).

2. IRV 2020

IRV 2020 is a partnership between the Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council, WWF, IRF, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Its goal is to have a wild population of at least 3,000 Greater one-horned rhinos in the Indian state of Assam – spread over seven protected areas – by the year 2020. IRV 2020 is an ambitious rhino range and population expansion programme. SRI has supported the programme since 2006 through the IRF.

There are only approximately 3,333 Greater one-horned rhinos left in the world (as at 31 December 2012), with about 75% of those found in the Indian state of Assam. Through the concentrated efforts of the IRV2020 programme, the species is increasing in number once again, despite the continued threats of poaching and habitat loss. IRV 2020 is an exceptionally significant and inspirational programme that has captivated imaginations and support locally in Assam and nationally in India.

The pressure of poaching from local communities is increasing and so it is important to work closely with communities to engage the support of the local people in protecting these populations of Greater one-horned rhino. We are currently fundraising for a small grants programme; funding will be provided to local community initiatives to help build capacity and support. Your donation will make a big difference to ensuring the security of these rhinos.

3. World-Largest Petawatt Laser

A laser is a coherent and focused beam of photons; coherent, in this context, means that it is all one wavelength, unlike ordinary light which showers on us in many wavelengths laser stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Lasers work as a result of resonant effects. The output of a laser is a coherent electromagnetic field. In a coherent beam of electromagnetic energy, all the waves have the same frequency and phase.

4.LFEX

The Petawatt laser “LFEX” to deliver up to 2,000 trillion watts in the duration of one trillionth of one second (this corresponds to 1000 times the integrated electric power consumed in the world). By using this high-power laser, it is now possible to generate all of the high-energy quantum beams (electrons, ions, gamma ray, neutron, positron). Owing to such quantum beams with large current, we can make a big step forward not only for creating new fundamental technologies such as medical applications and non-destructive inspection of social infrastructures to contribute to our future life of longevity, safety, and security, but also for realization of laser fusion energy triggered by fast ignition.

5. Ebola virus disease

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests.

The 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa involved major urban areas as well as rural ones. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, infection prevention and control practices, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe and dignified burials and social mobilisation.

Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralize the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.

a) Transmission
It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e. g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.

Burial ceremonies that involve direct contact with the body of the deceased can also contribute in the transmission of Ebola.

6. QRSAM

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) was successfully flight tested. All the technologies and subsystems incorporated in the missile have performed well, meeting all the mission requirements. All the Radars, Electro Optical Systems, Telemetry Systems and other stations have tracked the Missile and monitored all the Parameters. The Missile test met all the objectives.

7. Sunderbans

The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It is the estuarine phase of the Ganges as well as Brahmaputra river systems. It lies at the mouth of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, forming the seaward fringe of the delta. The typical littoral forests of Sundarbans comprises of a host of trees species adopted to the peculiar estuarine condition of high salinity, lack of soil erosion and daily inundation by high tides.

The tidal forms and the mangrove vegetation in Sundarbans are responsible for dynamic eco-system vigorous nutrient cycling both terrestrial and aquatic. The whole eco-system is sensitive to change in salinity and the continuous cycle of erosion and deposition is affecting the plant continuously adjusting to the new conditions. The great fight goes on between nature and each individual here for survival, and survival for the fittest.

The forest covers of 4,000 sq km are on Indian Side. It has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. The Sundarbans are separately listed in the UNESCO world heritage list as the Sundarbans for India and the Sundarbans National Park, Bangladesh, which is 6000 sq km area. Sundarbans was designated a Ramsar site on May 21, 1992.

“Sundarban” literally means “beautiful jungle” or “beautiful forest” in the Bengali Language. The characteristic tree are the Sundari (Heritieralittoralis), from which the name of the tract has been derived. It yields a hard wood, used for building, and for making boats, furniture, etc. Other belief is that it is derived from “Samudraban” or “Chandra-bandhe” which was name of a primitive tribe.
Special Status Since 18th Century

The importance of conserving and preserving Sundarbans was realized way back in late 18th century. This is the first mangrove forest in the world which was brought under scientific management. Under the Forest Act, 1865 (Act VIII of 1865), a large area was declared as reserved forest in 1875-76 and the remaining portions of forests was declared as reserve forest the following year. The control was changed from the civil administration district to the Forest Department. The first management plan was written for the period 1893-98. A Forest Division was created in 1879 having its headquarter in Khulna.

a) Conservation History
The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, created in 1973, was the part of the then 24-Pargans Division. Subsequently the area comprising of the present tiger reserve was constituted as Reserve Forest in 1978. The area of the Reserve is 2585 sq. km. covering land area of 1600 sq. km. and water body over 985 sq. km. Within this area 1330. 12 sq. km. is designated as core area, which was subsequently declared as Sundarban National Park in 1984. An area of 124. 40 sq. km. within the core area is preserved as primitive zone to act as gene pool.

Within the buffer zone, Sajnekhali Wildlife sanctuary was created in 1976 covering an area of 362. 335 sq. km. considering the importance of the biogeographic region of Bengalian River Forests and its unique biodiversity the National Park area of the Reserve was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1985. The whole Sundarbans area was declared as Biosphere Reserve in 1989.

b) Physiography
To the south the forest meets the Bay of Bengal; to the east it is bordered by the Baleswar River and to the north there is a sharp interface with intensively cultivated land. The total land area today is 4,143 km2 and the remaining water area of 1,874 sq km encompasses rivers, small streams and canals. Rivers in the Sundarbans are meeting places of salt water and freshwater. Thus, it is a region of transition between the freshwater of the rivers originating from the Ganges and the saline water of the Bay of Bengal.

Biotic factors here play a significant role in physical coastal evolution. For wildlife, a variety of habitats have developed including beaches, estuaries, permanent and semi-permanent swamps, tidal flats, tidal creeks, coastal dunes, back dunes and levees. The mangrove vegetation itself assists in the formation of new landmass and the intertidal vegetation plays an important role in swamp morphology.

c) Climate Change Impact
The physical development processes along the coast are influenced by a multitude of factors, comprising wave motions, micro and macro-tidal cycles and long shore currents typical to the coastal tract. The shore currents vary greatly along with the monsoon. These are also affected by cyclonic action. Erosion and accretion through these forces maintains varying levels whilst the mangrove vegetation itself provides a remarkable stability to the entire system.

During each monsoon season most of the Bengal Delta is submerged. The sediment of the lower delta plain is primarily adverted inland by monsoonal coastal setup and cyclonic events. People living in this area may face two of the greatest challenges in coming years- rising salinity and sea levels caused mostly by subsidence in the region and partly by climate change. The Bengal Basin is slowly tilting towards the east due to neo-tectonic movement, forcing greater freshwater input to the Bangladesh Sundarbans. This might increase the salinity of the Indian Sundarbans.

d) Flora
The Sundarbans flora is characterized by the abundance of Heritiera fomes, Excoecaria agallocha, Ceriops decandra and Sonneratia apetala. A total 245 genera and 334 plant species were recorded by Prain in 1903. Unlike most of man games in the world the mangroves of Bangladesh are dominated by the Streculianceae and Euphorbiaceae.

Sundari and Gewa occur prominently throughout the area with discontinuous distribution of Dhundul (Xylocarpus granatum) and Kankra. Among grasses and Palms, Poresia coaractata, Myriostachya wightiana, Imperata cylindrical, Phragmites karka, Nypa fruticans are well distributed. Deora is an indicator species for newly accreted mudbanks and is an important species for wildlife, especially spotted deer (Axis axis). Besides the forest, there are extensive areas of brackish and freshwater marshes, intertidal mudflats, sandflats, sand dunes with typical dune vegetation, open grassland on sandy soils and raised areas supporting a variety of terrestrial shrubs and trees.

e) Fauna
The area is known for the eponymous Royal Bengal Tiger, as well as numerous fauna including species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes.

Sundarbans Tiger Reserve provides characteristic type of habitat suitable for animals inhabiting vast tidal swamp area. Because of their intimate association with the estuarine environment, sizeable portion of aquatic and semi-aquatic animal communities are interrelated with the animals inhabiting the land areas. The uniqueness of the habitat is said to have contributed to certain behavioral trends, which are characteristic of Sundarbans tigers only. It is considered that man-eating propensity for tiger in this area is hereditarily acquired over a period of generations in the process of consumption of saline water. Dolphin is the other target specie for planning wildlife management and tourism development.

This unique ecosystem has provided extensive habitats for the River Terrapin (Betagur baska), Indian flap-shelled turtle (Lissemys punctata), peacock soft-shelled turtle (Trionyx hurum), yellow monitor (Varanus flavescens ), water monitor- Salvator Lizard (Varanus salvator), Indian python (Python molurus) and wild pigs. Cheetal, wild boar, rhesus macaque are the main prey species of tiger.

This area serves as the nesting ground for endangered marine turtles like Olive Ridley, Green Turtle and Hawk’s Bill Turtles. The aquatic endangered mammals like Gangetic Dolphins thrive within mangrove creeks close to sea. Numbers of heronries are formed here during monsoon as well as during winter. It is home for Trans-Himalayan migratory birds.

The Reserve has received effective protection under Project Tiger since its creation. The core area is free from all human disturbances like fishing, collection of wood, honey and other forest produces while in buffer zone, fishing honey collection and wood cutting are permitted to a limited extent.

Sundarbans mangrove is the home of a number of endangered and globally threatened species. The creeks of Sundarbans form the home of Estuarine Crocodile and Horse Shoe or King Crab. Aquatic animals like the crabs and fishes are also eaten by Sundarban tiger which occupies the pinnacle of both terrestrial as well as aquatic food-web.

Some species such as hog deer, water buffalo, swamp deer, Javan rhinoceros, single horned rhinoceros and mugger crocodile have become extinct since the beginning of last century.

Intensive management takes care of the maintenance and improvement of the habitat through eco-conservation, eco-development, education, training and research. Mud-flats on the periphery of the reserve are artificially regenerated with mangrove plants to meet local fuel wood demand and reduce the pressure on buffer. Non-mangrove plantations are also raised along roads and embankments of the fringe area to cater the need of the fringe people.
The other main activity is controlling man-eating by tigers which existed here since time immemorial and the number of casualties has been reduced from more than 40 to less than 10 per year. This has become possible due to strict control over the movement of the people inside the tiger reserve, alternative income generation and awareness building among people. Use of human-masks, electric human dummies etc. are believed to have also contributed in controlling man-eating by tigers. Measures like erection of branches of genwa, nylon net fencing at forest side and solar illumination at village side at night have however, helped to reduce the incidents of tiger straying. For rescuing the strayed tiger, method of tranquilization using dart gun is also applied where driving of the tiger to the nearby forest is not possible.

The Reserve has successfully launched a special programme to conserve the highly endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. Hatching of Olive Ridley Turtles and River Terrapin is done at Sajnekhali to replenish their population.

8. Biggest Global Skill Park of India

India’s biggest Global Skill Park to be developed in Bhopal. This Park will be developed around 37 acres for Rs. 645 crore. 1000 students will be imparted training every year in the park. The trainers will be world-class. Trained students will be given placement in India as well as outside India at international level.

9. Farmer Zone

FarmerZone has been envisioned by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), aims to advance the process of technological intervention to help small and marginal land-holding farmers, who constitute a major component of Indian agriculture.

The conclave identified the challenges faced in each agro-climatic region, and discussed possible solutions through scientific interventions. The Farmer Zone platform will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, thought leaders in agriculture, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions.

The platform will work on getting relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud, develop sentinel sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.

Food security is a global concern and the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of families depend on small-scale agriculture. The conclave worked to address this challenge collectively and showcased the enormous research strength of India and its international partners in a global context, to achieve impact and build strong and sustainable research and innovation partnerships.

This conclave has brought together a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from farmers, scientists and businesses from the national and international arena,

“FarmerZone” that will focus on solutions in the farming ecosystem, especially for small and marginal farmers.”

Vision of “FarmerZone” a reality that will benefit India and other areas in the world. This partnership demonstrates the vital role that research and innovation has in delivering prosperity and addressing shared global challenges.”

10.European X-ray free-electron laser (European XFEL)

The European X-ray free-electron laser (European XFEL) was international project with twelve participating countries; nine shareholders (Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland) and three other partners (Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom)is located in the German federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. A free-electron laser generates high-intensity electromagnetic radiation by accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds and directing them through special magnetic structures. The European XFEL is constructed such that the electrons produce X-ray light in synchronisation, resulting in high-intensity X-ray pulses with the properties of laser light and at intensities much brighter than those produced by conventional synchrotron light sources.

The X-rays are generated by self-amplified spontaneous emission (SASE), where electrons interact with the radiation that they or their neighbours emit. Since it is not possible to build mirrors to reflect the X-rays for multiple passes through the electron beam gain medium, as with light lasers, the X-rays are generated in a single pass through the beam. The result is spontaneous emission of X-ray photons which are coherent (in phase) like laser light, unlike X-rays emitted by ordinary sources like X-ray machines, which are incoherent. The peak brilliance of the European XFEL is billions of times higher than that of conventional X-ray light sources, while the average brilliance is 10,000 times higher. The higher electron energy allows the production of shorter wavelengths.The duration of the light pulses can be less than 100 femtoseconds.

Electrons are accelerated to an energy of up to 17.5 GeV by a 2.1 km (1.3 mi) long linear accelerator with superconducting RF-cavities The use of superconducting acceleration elements developed at DESY allows up to 27,000 repetitions per second, significantly more than other X-ray lasers in the U.S. and Japan can achieve The electrons are then introduced into the magnetic fields of special arrays of magnets called undulators, where they follow curved trajectories resulting in the emission of X-rays whose wavelength is in the range of 0.05 to 4.7 nm.

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