January 2020

Daily Current Affairs (04-01-20)

ENVIRONMENT

SENNA SPECTABILIS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Environment [Paper-II]: Environment protection for sustainable development, Forest and wildlife

News

Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department is planning to adopt steps to arrest the rampant growth of invasive plants, especially Senna spectabilis, in the forest areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), including the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

About the Species

  • Senna spectabilis is a plant species of the legume family (Fabaceae) in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae native to South and Central America.
  • They are often grown as an ornamental in front yards, parks, gardens, buildings, etc. due to their bright yellow flowers that bloom during the summer

Invasive Species

  • The tree species had been found in nearly 10 km sq area of 344.44 sq km of the sanctuary around five year ago. But now it has invaded more than 50 sq km of the sanctuary in a short span of time.
  • The plant started to invade in adjacent tiger reserves, including Bandipur and Nagarhole in Karnataka and the Mudumalai tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu.
  • Earlier, it was planted as avenue trees along roadsides in Wayanad.
  • Due to massive flowering and drying of bamboo species in the Wayanad, lots of open spaces were created which were occupied by Senna Spectabilis.
  • The vayal ecosystem (marshy land) of the forest area now has this plant in large numbers.
  • An adult tree grows up to 15 to 20 metres in a short period of time and every year distributes thousands of seeds after the gregarious fl
  • The thick foliage arrests the growth of other indigenous species of trees and grass, and causes food shortage for the wildlife population, especially herbivores, during summer.
  • Moreover wildlife would not feed on the leaves of the tree as it was not palatable for them.
  • No grass grows below it and there is no presence of insects too.
  • The allelochemicals produced by this plant adversely affect the germination and growth of the native species.

Tackling the threat

  • Though Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) has been following the physical method to tackle the issue for the past five years, it was yet to make any desired effect.
  • Hence, KFRI is planning to adopt an integrated method by combining the physical as well as chemical measures to address the issue.

[Source: The Hindu, kfri.res.in]

 

ECONOMY

RESTRUCTURING OF RAILWAYS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy [Paper-II]: Infrastructure in Indian Economy, Railways

News

Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi has approved a transformational organisational restructuring of the Indian Railways.

Reforms

  • Unification of the existing eight Group A services of the Railways into a Central Service called Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).
  • The creation of the IRMS will be done in consultation with the Department of Personnel and Training and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to facilitate recruitment.
  • All the remaining posts of the Railway Board shall be open to all officers regardless of the service to which they belong, thus ensuring equal opportunity for all.
  • Re-organisation of Railway Board on functional lines headed by CRB with four Members and some Independent Members
  • The existing service of Indian Railway Medical Service (IRMS) to be consequently renamed as Indian Railway Health Service (IRHS)
  • The Railway Board—the apex decision making body of the Indian Railways—will be headed by a chairman, who will be the chief executive officer (CEO). There will be four other members, in charge of infrastructure, rolling stock, finance and operations, and business development.

Significance

  • The unification of services will end “departmentalism”, promote smooth working of railways, expedite decisionmaking, create a coherent vision for organisation and promote rational decision making.
  • Departmentalism in Indian Railways has been marked by inefficiency and fighting over control of assets and resources, leading to delays in decisionmaking.
[Source: PIB, Livemint]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

SAVITRIBAI PHULE
  • PM Modi paid tributes to social reformer Savitribai Phule on her birth anniversary. She was born on 3 January 1831 at Naigaon in Maharashtra’s Satara district.
  • Phule was an Indian social reformer, educationalist, and
  • She is regarded as the first female teacher of India.
  • She published Kavya Phule in 1854 and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1892.
  • In the 19th century, public education was limited and there were only a few missionary schools which were “open to all”.
  • In this period, Jyotirao Phule, at the age of 21, and Savitribai Phule, 17, opened a school for women in 1848. It was the country’s first school for women started by Indians.
PATOLA SAREE
  • In a historic initiative taken by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), a first Silk Processing Plant was inaugurated at Surendranagar in Gujarat.
  • It would help cut down the cost of production of silk yarn drastically and increase the sale and availability of raw material for Gujarati Patola Sarees locally.
  • The plant has been set up by a khadi institution at a cost of Rs 75 lakh in which KVIC has contributed Rs 60 lakh.
  • Patola, the trademark Saree of Gujarat, is considered to be very costly and worn only by the Royals or the Aristocrat.
  • Reason being the raw material silk yarn is purchased from Karnataka or West Bengal, where silk processing units are situated, thus increasing the cost of the fabric manifolds.
  • Cocoons will be brought from Karnataka and West Bengal and Silk yarn will be processed in house, thus reducing the cost of production and giving a major boost to the sale of famous Gujarati Patola Sarees.
  • Surendranagar district is a backward district in Gujarat where KVIC has invested Rs. 60 Lakhs to build the Silk Processing Plant, in order to generate livelihood and boost sales of Patola Sarees by making silk more ready available at a low cost, for the Patola Saree manufacturers in the nearby area.
  • Among all the silk varieties in India, Patola sarees are among the top 5.
LAI HARAOBA
  • Lai Haraoba, a ritualistic festival observed by Manipuri Meitei communities since ancient times, began in Agartala, Tripura.
  • The five day long festival is jointly organised by Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of Tripura, Puthiba Lai Haraoba Committee and Puthiba Welfare & Cultural Society, Agartala.
  • It is celebrated by Meitei people to please sacred trees called “Umang Lai”.
  • Lai Haraoba is celebrated through oral literature, music, dance and rituals. The festival aims to uphold tradition and cultural values of Meitei community.
ALL KERALA LOCAL BODIES TO HAVE AN EXTRA SEAT BY NEXT POLLS
  • The Kerala government has decided to increase the number of seats by one at all local self-government bodies in the state.
  • Thus, there will be more elected representatives at the grassroots when the next local body elections are held in Kerala in 2020.
  • A recommendation would be submitted to the Governor to promulgate an ordinance to amend the Kerala Panchayati Raj (KPR) Act and the Kerala Municipality Act so that the number could be increased.
  • The amendment to formalise the increase in the number of members in civic bodies would be applicable to all grama, block and district panchayats as well as the urban bodies like municipalities and corporations.
  • Currently, the number of grama panchayat members should not be less than 13 or more than 23. The ordinance proposes to make this 14-24. The number of block panchayat members would also increase in this manner.
  • Currently, the number of district panchayat members should not be less than 16 or more than 32. It has been recommended to make this 17-33.
  • The current strength of the members at the municipality would be increased from 25-52 to 26-53. The number of corporation members would be raised from 55-100 to 56-101.
  • The 1,200 local self-governing bodies in Kerala include 941 Grama Panchayats, 152 Block Panchayats, 14 District Panchayats, 87 Municipalities and 6 Corporations.
GENERAL QASSEM SOLEIMANI
  • Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone attack in Baghdad.
  • He was seen as a potential future leader of Iran, according to various reports.
  • Soleimani, 62, was in charge of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
  • IRGC was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US in April, 2019.
  • The Quds Force undertakes Iranian missions in other countries, including covert ones.
28TH NEW DELHI WORLD BOOK FAIR
  • Union HRD Minister inaugurated the 28th edition of annual New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
  • The theme of this year’s fair is “Gandhi: The Writers’ Writer“.
  • The Fair is organized by National Book Trust, India, an autonomous organization of the Government of India under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), the nodal agency of the Government of India under the Ministry of Commerce, is the co-organizer of the Fair.
ABETMENT OF SUICIDE
  • The Supreme Court has held in a judgment that a person accused of dowry harassment cannot be automatically convicted for abetment of suicide.
  • It means that the accused cannot be automatically held guilty for the offence punishable under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the IPC by employing the presumption under Section 113A of the Evidence Act merely because the accused is found guilty of an offence punishable under Section 498A of the IPC (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty).
  • Unless the prosecution establishes that some act or illegal omission by the accused has driven the deceased to commit the suicide, the conviction under Section 306 would not be tenable.

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