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[Newsbits] 19.09.2023

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Anopheles Stephensi

The fight against malaria in regions threatened by this deadly disease, such as Kenya and the Horn of Africa, has taken center stage, with a particular focus on Anopheles Stephensi, a mosquito species with significant implications as a vector for multiple parasites.

What

Defined as Mosquito Species

  • Anopheles Stephensi is a mosquito species that is garnering significant attention due to its role in the transmission of various parasites.

Significance

Vector Role

  • Anopheles Stephensi plays a pivotal role as a vector for multiple parasites, which has severe implications for public health.
  • Its unique characteristics make it a potent carrier for diseases, including malaria.

Implications

  • The presence of Anopheles Stephensi raises the risk of vector-borne diseases, with malaria being a primary concern.
  • This mosquito species has the capability to transmit parasites like Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, with the latter posing a greater risk of severe illness and potential death.

Malaria Transmission Changes

  • Anopheles Stephensi's adaptability allows for year-round potential transmission of malaria, a phenomenon attributed to non-traditional rainfall patterns.

Survival Capability

  • This mosquito species exhibits resilience and can thrive in various environments, making it challenging to control effectively.

Other Diseases Risk

  • In addition to malaria, Anopheles Stephensi poses a risk for transmitting diseases like dengue (break-bone fever), yellow fever, and chikungunya.

Resistance

  • Anopheles Stephensi has shown a high level of resistance to local insecticides, complicating efforts to combat its spread and disease transmission.

Where

Origin: Asia

  • Anopheles Stephensi is originally from Asia but has spread to several African countries.

Countries Reached

  • This mosquito species has made its way to multiple African nations, including Djibouti (2012), Ethiopia (2016), Sudan (2016), Somalia (2019), Kenya, and Nigeria (with reported cases in 2020).

Facts

Malaria Impact on Kenya

  • In Kenya alone, malaria is estimated to cause approximately 10,000 deaths annually, highlighting the urgent need for effective control measures.

Africa's Burden

  • Africa bears a substantial burden of malaria, accounting for 95% of global malaria infections.
  • The continent witnesses over 600,000 malaria-related deaths each year, with a significant majority of the victims being children.

Chausath Yogini Temple

The Chausath Yogini Temple, situated atop a hillock in Mitaoli, Madhya Pradesh, is a fascinating historical and architectural marvel believed to have inspired the design of the old Parliament building. This 20th-century structure is dedicated to the worship of 64 yoginis, also known as "chaunsath" in Hindi, who were powerful warriors and sorceresses according to Hindu mythology.

What

Temple Dedicated to 64 Yoginis

  • The Chausath Yogini Temple pays homage to 64 yoginis, mystical beings known for their exceptional powers.
  • According to mythology, they played a pivotal role in the defeat of the demon Raktabija.
    • Raktabija possessed near invincibility as each drop of his blood gave birth to hundreds more like him.
    • His ultimate defeat came through the intervention of Goddess Durga, who unleashed the 64 yoginis.
    • These yoginis drank Raktabija's blood before it could touch the ground, leading to his demise.

Features

  • Location: The temple is perched atop a hillock in Mitaoli, Madhya Pradesh, offering a picturesque setting.
  • Architecture Uniqueness: Unlike traditional temples dedicated to a single deity, the Chausath Yogini Temple features a circular design with 64 chambers, each meant for one of the yoginis. At the center stands the shrine of Lord Shiva, a common feature in Hindu temples.
    • Shikhara: While most Hindu temples have projecting domes (Shikhara), the Mitaoli temple stands out with its hypaethral design, which means it has no roof.
    • Parliament-Like Pillars: Inside the temple, you'll find pillars reminiscent of those seen in parliamentary buildings.
    • Central Shrine Specifics: The central shrine boasts a unique slab with perforations designed for rainwater drainage.
  • Temple Size: The temple's circular structure spans an impressive diameter of 125 feet. However, it currently lacks some of its original idols and carvings, and many details remain unknown.

How

Possible Uses

  • Over the years, the Chausath Yogini Temple has served various purposes, including the study of jyotish (astrology) and mathematics.

Who

Builder: King Devapala

  • The Chausath Yogini Temple was constructed around the year 1323, during the reign of King Devapala from the Kachchhapaghata dynasty.

Where

Location: Madhya Pradesh

  • This historically rich temple is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.

When

Construction Year: Around 1323

  • The temple's construction dates back to the early 14th century, making it a testament to ancient Indian architecture and mythology that continues to inspire awe and intrigue to this day.

Bima Sugam

The insurance sector is on the brink of a transformative revolution, with the introduction of a proposed digital platform that has been hailed as a "game changer" and likened to the "UPI moment" for the industry.

What

Proposed Digital Platform

  • The proposed digital platform aims to simplify the insurance landscape by providing a user-friendly interface that helps individuals make informed choices from a vast array of insurance products and services.
  • One of the key goals is to minimize the cumbersome paperwork traditionally associated with insurance transactions.

Why

Universalize and Democratize Insurance

  • The overarching objective is to universalize and democratize access to insurance, making it more accessible and understandable to the masses.
  • The aspiration is to become the world's largest online market for insurance products and services, thereby expanding insurance coverage across the nation.

How

Electronic Marketplace Protocol

  • The digital platform will operate on an electronic marketplace protocol, enabling customers to select suitable insurance schemes from multiple options offered by various insurance companies.
  • It covers a wide spectrum of insurance types, including life, health, and general insurance, encompassing categories such as motor and travel insurance.
  • The settlement of claims, whether related to health coverage or death claims, will be facilitated in a paperless manner based on policy numbers.

Key Steps

  1. Insurance Repository: Customers will begin by storing their insurance details in an insurance repository.
  2. Policy Listing: This will be followed by policy listing on the digital platform.

Budget

  • The project's budget has been increased from Rs 85 crore to Rs 200 crore, underlining the commitment to its success.

Creation and Maintenance

  • A dedicated committee by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is responsible for overseeing the creation and maintenance of the digital platform.
  • Requests for proposals (RFPs) will soon be released to appoint service providers and technological partners for all services.

Services

  • The digital platform will serve as a single window for policyholders, offering end-to-end solutions to meet their insurance needs, including purchase, servicing, and claim settlement.

Platform Features

  • The platform will facilitate access for insurance companies to real-time, validated, and authentic data.
  • It will also offer an interface for intermediaries and agents to sell policies, reducing paperwork and streamlining the insurance purchase process.
  • Lower commissions on policies will benefit customers by reducing policy purchase costs.
  • An innovative feature includes the creation of an "Insurance Account" where policies can be stored digitally, eliminating the need for physical documents and expediting claim settlements and renewals.
  • The platform will be seamlessly connected to India Stack, a set of APIs that empower all insurance stakeholders for efficient service delivery.

Who

Initiative by IRDAI

  • This groundbreaking initiative is spearheaded by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), demonstrating their commitment to modernizing the insurance sector and making it more accessible and efficient for all.

Joint Call to Action for Forests

The year 2023 marks a crucial halfway point for the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within this context, the launch of the Campaign for Forest Protection at the 2023 SDG Summit holds great significance, especially concerning targets related to forests, including the Global Forest Goals outlined in the UN Strategic Plan for Forests (2017-2030).

What

Campaign for Forest Protection

A concerted effort and campaign aimed at the protection and conservation of forests.

Why

Urgent Need for Action and Political Will

  • The campaign underscores the pressing need for urgent action to protect forests worldwide.
  • Political will and commitment are essential to implement effective forest preservation strategies that align with the UN SDGs.

How

Call to Action for Forests (Towards 2030)

The campaign, titled "Call to Action for Forests (Towards 2030)," is structured around four focal areas:

  1. Implementation and Action: The campaign emphasizes the need for concrete actions and strategies to protect and conserve forests.
  2. Data, Science, and Innovation: Utilizing scientific knowledge and innovative approaches to enhance forest conservation efforts.
  3. Financial Support for Forests: Mobilizing financial resources to support sustainable forest management and protection.
  4. Communication and Raising Awareness: Spreading awareness about the importance of forests and garnering global support.

Who

Initiative by Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF)

The Campaign for Forest Protection is an initiative led by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), a coalition of 16 global entities dedicated to forest preservation and management. The CPF is chaired by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Facts

Forest Loss Data

  • Since 1990, a staggering 420 million hectares of forest have been lost due to deforestation.
  • While the deforestation rate has declined over time, it remains a significant concern, decreasing from 12 million hectares per year (2010-2015) to 10 million hectares per year (2015-2020). These figures are sourced from FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment.

Collaborative Partnership on Forests' Perspective

  • The CPF recognizes the challenges and opportunities associated with forest management.
  • It emphasizes that action and ambition are crucial, with CPF members committed to reinforcing actions that strengthen the contribution of forests to sustainable development in line with the Vision for Forests by 2030.
  • These efforts align with broader international initiatives such as the Climate Ambition Summit, SDG Summit, and anticipate negotiations at the Rio Conventions and the "Summit of the Future."

Agumbe

Agumbe received lesser rainfall than Nadpal and Mudrali this monsoon

What

"Cherrapunji of the South"

  • Agumbe, often dubbed as the "Cherrapunji of the South," is known for its extraordinary rainfall.

Location

  • Located in the Shivamogga district of Karnataka.

Rainfall Stats

  • Agumbe receives an astonishing amount of rainfall, exceeding 8,000 mm during the monsoon season.

Features

  • The Agumbe Rainforest Complex is a prominent natural feature in this region.

Significance

Historical Rainfall Records

  • The area has a long history of recording rainfall data, dating back to the British era with the installation of a rain gauge in 1882.

Rainfall's Role

  • Agumbe's heavy rainfall plays a vital role in sustaining multiple water bodies, nurturing rivers that originate from the Western Ghats.

Agumbe Rainforest Research Station Goals

  • The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station is dedicated to studying monsoons in the Agumbe Rainforest Complex.
  • It serves academic interests in biodiversity and investigates the impact of monsoons on the natural habitat of the King Cobra.

Comprising Regions

  • The Agumbe Rainforest Complex encompasses several regions, including the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Kudremukh National Park, Kodachadri & Mookambika hill ranges, and various reserve forests such as Kundapur, Shankaranarayana, Hosanagara, Sringeri, and Thirthahalli.
  • Research in these areas primarily focuses on understanding the influence of rain.

Bamboo Groves

  • The region is known for its thick and endemic bamboo groves, which are vital for the Western Ghats ecosystem.
  • These bamboo groves require high rainfall to reach the size needed to house King Cobra nests.

Decline in Bamboo Groves

  • Researchers at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Centre have noted a decline in bamboo groves due to insufficient rain.

Where

Karnataka Location

  • Agumbe is situated in the state of Karnataka.

Facts

IMD's Prediction

  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted 95% of the usual rainfall for India during the monsoon season.
  • Specific predictions indicated that Western Ghats areas, including the Nilgiris and Sahyadris, were expected to receive more rain than usual.

Monsoon Delay

  • However, the monsoon was delayed, with a 22-day delay in August.
  • This delay resulted in drier conditions in the Western Ghats, affecting regions like Agumbe known for their heavy rainfall.

Leopard Sterilization Proposal

Recent news has highlighted the pressing issue of managing Indian leopard populations and reducing conflicts between leopards and humans. Maharashtra and Gujarat governments have put forward proposals to sterilize Indian leopards, a critical step in conservation efforts.

What

Sterilize Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

  • Classified as "Endangered" under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Listed in Appendix I of CITES.

Why

Managing Leopard Population

  • Controlling the leopard population is crucial for preserving this endangered species.
  • Reducing leopard-human conflicts is a primary motivation.

Significance

Pioneer States for This Action

  • Maharashtra and Gujarat are leading the way in proposing leopard sterilization.
  • Approval of these proposals could set a precedent for other states.

How

Initiation of Pilot Projects

  • The sterilization process will begin with pilot projects.
  • Specific leopards targeted for sterilization will include rescued or injured individuals.

Who

Maharashtra and Gujarat Governments

  • Maharashtra has an estimated leopard count of 1,690, ranking fourth in India.
  • Gujarat has an estimated leopard count of 2,274 in 2023.
  • Other states like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have significant leopard populations.

Facts

Leopard Conflict Management

  • In Maharashtra, leopards have been found in 88% of forest ranges outside protected zones.
  • Factors contributing to human-leopard conflicts include increased water availability due to irrigation infrastructure, changes in crops favoring dense vegetation, and an increase in prey populations (wild pigs).
  • Districts such as Satara, Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, and Nashik have witnessed an increase in leopard numbers.
  • Human casualties from leopard conflicts in Maharashtra decreased from 97 deaths (2010-2018) to 58 deaths (2019-20).
  • Animal casualties remained stable at 176 in 2020-21.

Gujarat Proposal

  • Gujarat's proposal includes sterilization near Gir National Park.
  • The leopard population in Gujarat has witnessed a 63% increase from 2016 to 2023.

Alternate Solution

Engineering Contraception

  • An alternative to sterilization is the use of contraception, such as the Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) vaccine.
  • PZP is derived from the ovary lining and blocks fertilization and pregnancy by inducing an immune response.
  • This method is non-invasive, less traumatic, and reversible.
  • Current research on PZP has been conducted on elephants, nilgai, wild boars, and rhesus macaques, but it comes with a high cost.

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