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Showing posts from February 22, 2017

The jallikattu bull row in Tamil Nadu provokes the law v culture debate (downtoearth,)

The jallikattu debate is playing out much like the game itself, with each side trying to gain the upper hand: animal rights groups alleging animal cruelty, the Tamil people insisting on tradition and future of native cattle breeds, and governments eager to assuage feelings of discontent. Who will tame whom?

It is January 29; almost a week after the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017. The Act allows people to conduct jallikattu, the state’s traditional bull taming sport, as a means of promoting Tamil culture as well as ensuring the preservation of native breeds.

In Karungulam village of Tiruchirappalli district, the area in front of St Ignatius Church is packed with hundreds of people. Many of them are perched precariously on top of neighbouring buildings to catch a glimpse of the first jallikattu event after a gap of two years. More than 300 veerans or bull tamers, in blue T-shirts with numbers prin…

Dengue-causing mosquito has a predator, it’s called Lutzia fuscana (downtoearth,)

Aedes aegypti, the dengue-causing mosquito, has a predator, and that’s also a mosquito. According to a study by the researchers at the Calcutta University, the Lutzia fuscana larvae can kill the Aedes Aegypti. Calling it a natural predator, the study says, “Larval stages of the mosquito Lutzia fuscana bear potential as a biological control agent of mosquitoes.”

After the larval forms of Lutzia fuscana were collected from swamps, marshes, rice fields, ditches, rock and flood pools and tire depressions, they were studied in a laboratory. The Lutzia fuscana larvae demonstrated a preference for feeding on Aedes aegypti larvae, along with Anopheles stephensi and Culex larvae, consuming about 19-24 larvae per day.

"A full-grown Lutzia mosquito eats the juicy part of the flower and leaves. We use dangerous chemicals to kill Dengue mosquito. But the use of Lutzia larvae can be the better solution," researchers said in the report.

According to the WHO’s estimate, dengue affects more…

Corbett Tiger Reserve issues shoot-at-sight order to tackle poaching (downtoearth,)

The authorities at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) have issued shoot-at-sight orders after movement of suspected poachers was reported close to the southern boundary of the park. According to the Officiating in-charge of CTR, Parag Madhukar Dhakate, the step has been taken "to prevent killing of big cats in the reserve".

The Corbett National Park has a population of 164 tigers. Of the 44 tiger reserves in India, Corbett has the maximum number of tiger, with Bandipur Reserve (120 tigers) and Nagarhole Reserve (101 tigers) in second and third place respectively.

Apart from shoot-at-sight orders, the authorities have taken several other decisions, including extensive frisking of visitors to the park and barring villagers in the vicinity from entering the protected area. Over 100 villages are located in the vicinity of the park and most of the villagers depend on the area for daily needs like firewood.

Calling it a “tactical anti-poaching operations”, Dhakate said that the fore…

El Nino may make a comeback in 2017, but unlikely to affect southwest monsoon (downtoearth,)

In 2016, the world witnessed the strongest El Nino on record, which resulted in above average temperatures. The year experiences record-breaking heat for nine consecutive months. It had also ruined the Indian monsoon for two years. After two successive droughts in 2014 and 2015, last year witnessed erratic rainfall both in terms of geographical spread and time. Thanks to El Nino, the southwest monsoon in 2014 and 2015 witnessed a deficit of 11 and 14 per cent respectively.

While the 2016 monsoon season in India saw 97 per cent rainfall, it was far less than the 106 per cent that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecast in July. The lesser-than-expected rainfall, especially in the second half of the monsoon season, has been attributed to the absence of a strong La Nina phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that is known to help the Indian monsoon.

According to a recent forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there’s a 50 per cent chan…

What’s in a name? (Hindu)

Far from hubris, Anthropocene is a formal acknowledgement of guilt about what we have to done to the earth

Last year, the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) — the body that decides epochs, aeons and eras to mark the earth’s geological history — recommended that humans should have their own epoch. Anthropocene, as this proposed epoch is called, roughly means the ‘Recent Age of Man’ and was first proposed by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and atmospheric scientist Eugene Stoermer around 2000.

Today we live in the Holocene, a period that began roughly 12,000 years ago. This corresponds to the beginning of agriculture, the earliest settlements in West Asia, and the multiplication of humanity to every part of the globe. Geologists mark out an age based on imprints in fossil records. They have never marked out an age as belonging to an organism or species. ‘Jurassic’, for instance, has nothing to do with dinosaurs and refers to the Jura mountains in Europe.

Is Anthropocene man’s s…

Marching to be counted (Hindu)

With anti-immigrant tensions rising in Britain, responses such as 1daywithoutus too will sharpen

Liz Needham, originally from Dublin, has lived in the U.K. for the past 27 years. On Monday she decided to shut her accountancy firm in the English town of St. Albans. While the firm is small, a three-person business, she was eager to join in 1daywithoutus, a day of action taking across the U.K. to celebrate the contribution made by immigrants, from outside and within the European Union (EU). “I felt it was very important to make the gesture,” she says. “I run my own company, so was able to do this. But there are many others working across the country in essential services such as the NHS who simply wouldn’t be able to stop working for a day, because the country cannot run without them.”

The Brexit effect
While anti-immigrant sentiment has been a long-standing aspect of British politics, it’s been on the increase since June 23 last year, when Britain voted to leave the EU, with hate being…

Necessary limit (Hindu.)

Price control for cardiac stents is inevitable to promote access to treatments

Capping the prices of medical stents, which are used to treat coronary artery disease, by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is an extreme regulatory measure necessitated by the market failure that afflicts the overall delivery of health care in India. Rising costs have led to impoverishment of families and litigation demanding regulation. Given the overall dominance of private, commercial, for-profit health institutions, and the asymmetry confronting citizens, correctives to bring about a balance are inevitable. Two important pointers to the need for cost regulation are available from research published in The Lancet in December 2015: nearly two-thirds of the high out-of-pocket expenditure on health incurred by Indians went towards drugs; even the meagre research data available showed that there was irrational use of medical technologies, including cardiac stents and knee implants. Regul…

The Saeed testhi (Hindu.)

Why we shouldn’t read too much into Pakistan’s action against the LeT chief, yet

The flurry of actions by the Pakistan government on Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed gives the impression of movement on an issue that has been a point of contention between India and Pakistan. For the past two weeks, Saeed, who is on the UN Security Council’s terror list, has been under “preventive detention” and “house arrest”, along with four other members of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an avatar of the LeT. All five are on the “export control list” for travel. A few days ago the authorities put Saeed on its Anti-Terrorism Act list as well, and on Tuesday followed that up by revoking weapon licences issued to Saeed and others. Although details have not been shared, Pakistani officials said they have placed restrictions on the functioning and funding of Saeed’s JuD and its ‘charity arm’, the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation. In addition, Pakistan’s military gave Saeed’s detention its full backing by calling it a …

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 23 January 2017

Q. Sinkholes usually formed in soils characterised by rocks of? • Gypsum
• Dolomite
• Limestone
• Granite (a) Only a and b
(b) Only c and d
(c) a,b,c
(d) All
Q. In which of the following cases the Governor cannot issue ordinance without the instructions from the President? • a Bill containing the same provisions would under this Constitution have required the previous sanction of the President for the introduction thereof into the Legislature; or
• he would have deemed it necessary to reserve a Bill containing the same provisions for the consideration of the President; or
• an Act of the Legislature of the State containing the same provisions would under this Constitution have been invalid unless, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, it had received the assent of the President (a) a only
(b) a and b only
(c) b and c only
(d) All Q To which of the followings conventions India is not a signatory? (a) Genocide convention
(b) Convention on Rights of Child
(c) 1951 …

IAS Pre: GS - Paper 1 - Environment - Biodiversity (MCQ -1)

1. Which of the following are correct1) India, a mega diversity country with only 2.4 percent of the land area, accounts for 7-8 per cent of the recorded species of the world
2) In terms of species richness, India ranks seventh in mammals, ninth in birds and fifth in reptiles.

a) 1
b) 2
c) Both
d) None

2. Which of the following are correct1) India also has 23.39 per cent of its geographical area under forest and tree cover
2) Of the 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots, India harbors four hotspots, i.e., Himalaya, Indo-Burma, Western Ghats and Sri Lanka and Sundaland.
a) 1
b) Both
c) 2
d) None
3. Which of the following are incorrect1) In terms of plant diversity India ranks tenth in the world and fourth in Asia
2) India represents nearly 15 per cent of the world’s known floral diversity.

a) 1
b) 2
c) Both
d) None. 4. Which of the following are correct1) Cartagena Protocol is a regulation on transboundary movement on the biosafety of handling and use of living modified organisms (…