August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (18-08-19)


Related Topics: Art & Culture, Traditional Handicrafts

Why in News

While Kondapalli toys are growing in popularity, its creators are being neglected.

About Kondapalli toys

Kondapalli toys – cultural icons of Andhra Pradesh – are one of the most sold handicrafts in India and abroad, across online, wholesale, and retail platforms.

The ‘Tella Poniki’ wood gives the toys a unique character.

No other wood can be a replacement to make these toys as Tella Poniki is malleable and can be easily chiseled into the desired shape.

The artisans who make the toys are referred as Aryakhastriyas (also known as Nakarshalu), who have their mention in the Brahmanda Purana.

The toys depict scenes from actual life, animals, rural folks, deities and characters from the epics.



Related Topics: Science & Technology, Geology


A team of experts from the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, arrived in Kerala with ground penetrating radar (GPR) system.

Using the GPR equipment, the team will search for the victims trapped under the soil at Kavalappara.

About GPR

Using the radar pulses, the GPR equipment can scan the surface below the earth.

This nondestructive method uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band (UHF/VHF frequencies) of the radio spectrum, and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures.

The computer measures the time taken for a pulse to travel to and from the target which indicates its depth and location.

The reflected signals are interpreted by the system and displayed on the unit’s LCD panel.

The microwave electromagnetic signals of their equipment could reach up to a depth of 20 metres.

Although it cannot identify human bodies, various objects and cavities in the subsurface can be imaged.

Applications of GPR

It have applications in a variety of media, including rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements and structures.

It can also be used to detect subsurface objects, changes in material properties, and voids and cracks.

Limitations of GPR

Its effectiveness is site specific and varies greatly from place-to-place.

The most significant performance limitation of GPR is in highly-conductive materials such as clay soils and soils that are salt contaminated.

Its performance is also limited by signal scattering in heterogeneous conditions (e.g. rocky soils) and responds differently to changes in soil type, density, water content, as well as many other buried objects; which can make unique identification of the desired target difficult.

GPR system in India

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) and National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) has launched an initiative aimed at identifying such vulnerable spots on city roads so that sink-hole formation can be prevented.

A team of geo-technical engineers from IIT-Gandhinagar and an archaeologist from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have scanned an area of around 12,276 square metres in Dholavira for over a year using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).The invisible radar signals bouncing off underground structures have revealed an intricate system of interconnected water reservoirs, bunds, channels, drains, and checkdams.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to map the contours of the area around the Bagh-e-Naya Qila excavated garden inside the Golconda Fort. It has roped in the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) to carry out the mapping.



Related Topics: Infrastructure Development, Environment & Biodiversity, Culture

Why in News

The Supreme Court has ordered the setting up of an independent committee chaired by Ravi Chopra, the Director of the Dehradun People’s Science Institute, to take a view on whether the Centre’s ambitious 900 kilometre, ₹12,000 crore ambitious Char Dham project to improve road network connecting pilgrimage spots in Uttarakhand, needs to be “revised” to minimise its ecological damage.

The Project

The project proposes the widening of single lane roads into double lanes by up to 10 metres, developing highways in Uttarakhand and thereby improving access to the Char Dham (four shrines) – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedar Nath.

Environmental Concerns

Environmentalist groups had filed petitions last February in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) contending that the project was proceeding without environmental clearances and debris was being disposed haphazardly.

They claimed that fragile Himalayan hills slopes were cut open indiscriminately and the project posed environmental threats.

The Legal Battle

On September 26, 2018, the NGT ruled that an environmental clearance wasn’t required and allowed the project to proceed but with several caveats.

A seven-member committee of experts led by a former judge of the Uttarakhand court was to ensure that an environmental management plan would be in place and properly adhered to.

Later, NGT nod for the project was stayed by the Supreme Court on technical grounds.

On August 8, 2019, the SC backed portions of the Tribunal’s order allowing the project to continue with assessment by an independent committee which would be lead by Ravi Chopra.

The committee would also have representatives from the Department of Space, the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and a representative from the Ministry of Defence.



Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)


Scientists of the ZSI have discovered two new species of freshwater fish from the north-eastern and northern parts of the country.

Both fish, measuring less than seven centimetres, are hill stream fauna and are equipped with special morphological features to suit rapid water flow.

Glyptothorax gopii

This new species of catfish was found in Mizoram’s Kaladan river.

The fish is dark brown on its dorsal surface, and its ventral surface is of a yellowish-light brown.

It has an axe-shaped anterior nuchal plate (bone below dorsal fin), which makes it distinct from other species of the genus Glyptothorax.

It has been named to celebrate the contribution of taxonomist K.C. Gopi.

Garra simbalbaraensis

The species was found in Himachal Pradesh’s Simbalbara river.

The fish has a yellowish-grey colour fading ventrally.

It has a prominent unilobed and rounded proboscis with tubercles that help the fish in manoeuvrability.

It takes its name from the Simbalbara river.


Experts suggest that the origin or evolution of the fishes in the Himalayas and north-eastern parts of India must have been the consequence or after-effects of orogenic events (geological movement) at various stages in the Himalayas’ uplift.

Detailed surveys can provided valuable information about the evolutionary trends and many rare groups of fishes can be discovered.  


          FACTS OF THE DAY


  • A two-day International Conference ‘Journey of Teacher Education: Local to Global’ was inaugurated by Union Minister of HRD in New Delhi. The event is organized by National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) as part of silver jubilee (25 years) celebration of its establishment in 1995.


  • Wrestler Bajrang Punia and Para-athlete Deepa Malik have been nominated for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.


  • President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated an underground Bunker Museum at Raj Bhavan Mumbai. The Bunker Museum has Virtual Reality Booths in which visitors can time-travel to the 19th century when the bunker was constructed to fire cannons at approaching enemy ships


  • Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh launched the “School Fagadaba” (Make education better) scheme to improve the infrastructure of government schools in the state.



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