Welcome to TARUN IAS – Your Daily News Analysis for UPSC/IAS Exam Preparation!
Stay informed with relevant current affairs from trusted sources like The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, and more. Our daily news analysis includes Prelims Facts and Important Editorials presented in a concise and bulletised format. Get free daily updates up to 4 P.M. (except Sundays). Don’t miss the Daily Revision Quiz to reinforce your knowledge. Good luck!
Here are the topics covered for 6th November 2023:
GS-1:The Transformation of Balban’s Tomb
GS-3:Wolbachia, Cyber Attacks and Pegasus Spyware Menace, World Biosphere Reserve Day
Facts for Prelims: Film Piracy in India, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The Transformation of Balban’s Tomb
- The Tomb of Balban, a historical structure located within Mehrauli’s Archaeological Park, has undergone a remarkable transformation.
- It has served as a refuge for debtors and fugitives, a final resting place for a former slave who became a Sultan, and an architectural landmark that holds great significance in India’s history.
- Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, a Sultan of the Mamluk (Slave) dynasty, was the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate dynasty, reigning from 1266 AD to 1287 AD.
- His journey to power was quite extraordinary as he was initially sold as a slave to the ruler Iltumish in 1232 CE. Iltumish later released him, and this period in history was characterized by individuals who rose from slavery to become rulers, giving it the name of the Slave Dynasty.
- Balban’s tomb is not just a historical relic but an architectural marvel. According to historian and author Swapna Liddle, it is a significant structure as it showcases the first use of true arch construction in India.
- The true arches of Balban’s tomb, with the keystone placed at the centre, evenly distribute the weight of the superstructure. This innovation marked a turning point in Indo-Islamic architecture in Delhi.
- Lieutenant Governor recently unveiled the tomb of Balban after comprehensive renovations. Within Mehrauli’s Archaeological Park, this tomb is one of six structures that received attention. The restoration work not only preserves its historical and architectural value but also makes it accessible to modern-day visitors.
Balban’s Tomb and Sher Khan:
- Balban’s tomb is not the sole structure of significance within its vicinity. His son, Sher Khan (Khan e Shaheed), was interred here just two years before Balban. While the building is square with spacious rooms, only one grave remains visible today.
- It is worth noting that the tomb has been described as unattractive when seen from afar, and reaching it involves descending from the Jamali Kamali mosque, following ASI markers, and navigating steep steps leading to the ruins.
A Sanctuary for the Needy:
Interestingly, Balban’s tomb also served as a sanctuary for those in need. It provided refuge for debtors and fugitives, offering protection from debt collectors and pursuers. This aspect of the tomb’s history adds a layer of social and humanitarian significance to its rich heritage.
- The transformation of Balban’s tomb reflects the dynamic history of India and the enduring legacy of architectural innovation.
- From its humble origins as a sanctuary for the downtrodden to its role in shaping architectural trends, the tomb stands as a testament to the country’s rich and diverse history.
Wolbachia, a Promising Tool for Controlling Mosquito-Borne Diseases
- Mosquito-borne diseases are a major global health problem, causing millions of deaths and illnesses each year. Current methods of control, such as insecticides and bed nets, are not always effective and can have environmental drawbacks.
- Wolbachia, a genus of bacteria that infects many insects, is a promising new tool for controlling mosquito-borne diseases.
- Wolbachia is a genus of intracellular bacteria that infects mainly arthropod species, including a high proportion of insects, and also some nematodes.
- Wolbachia is transmitted vertically, from mother to offspring, and can manipulate host reproduction in a variety of ways.
- Wolbachia can induce parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction), cytoplasmic incompatibility (where females infected with different strains of Wolbachia cannot produce viable offspring), and male-killing (where only female offspring are produced).
How Wolbachia will work in controlling mosquito-borne diseases?
- Wolbachia can be introduced into mosquito populations through the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes or by genetically modifying mosquitoes to carry Wolbachia.
- Once Wolbachia is introduced into a mosquito population, it can spread rapidly through the population due to a phenomenon called cytoplasmic incompatibility.
- Cytoplasmic incompatibility is a reproductive disorder that occurs when female mosquitoes infected with different strains of Wolbachia mate with each other.
- In these cases, the fertilized eggs are not viable and do not hatch. This gives Wolbachia-infected females a reproductive advantage over uninfected females, and Wolbachia quickly becomes the dominant strain in the population.
- Wolbachia can reduce the ability of mosquitoes to transmit viruses such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
- It competes with the viruses for resources inside the mosquito and also triggers an immune response that makes it more difficult for the viruses to replicate.
Examples of how Wolbachia is being used to control mosquito-borne diseases:
- In Brazil, a Wolbachia-based intervention has reduced the incidence of dengue by up to 96%.
- In Colombia, a Wolbachia-based intervention has reduced the incidence of Zika by up to 70%.
- In Australia, a Wolbachia-based intervention has reduced the incidence of chikungunya by up to 97%.
- Wolbachia is a promising new tool for controlling mosquito-borne diseases.
- It is a naturally occurring bacterium that can be introduced into mosquito populations to reduce their ability to transmit viruses.
- Wolbachia is currently being used in field trials in a number of countries and results of these trials have been very positive, with a reduction in the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases by up to 97%.
Cyber Attacks and Pegasus Spyware Menace
- In recent news, Apple Inc. has issued warnings to various individuals in India, including opposition leaders and journalists, concerning ongoing attempts by “State-Sponsored Attackers” to compromise their iPhones remotely.
Understanding State-Sponsored Cyber Attacks:
- State-sponsored cyber attacks, also known as nation-state cyber attacks, are malicious activities initiated or supported by governments or their agencies against other nations, organizations, or individuals.
- These attacks are characterized by their advanced level of sophistication, organization, and resources, which stem from the significant capabilities and funding of a nation-state.
- Notable examples include the Stuxnet worm targeting Iran’s nuclear program, alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack linked to North Korea.
Implications for National Security:
- Such cyber attacks can lead to severe implications for national security, including data theft, economic impacts through industry disruption, political manipulation through disinformation campaigns, and potential breaches of national sovereignty.
- Pegasus, developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group, operates as a stealthy form of spyware designed to covertly access devices and gather sensitive personal information without the user’s knowledge.
- It has been implicated in targeting human rights activists, journalists, and lawyers globally, with Indian government officials, ministers, and opposition leaders also reportedly affected.
Initiatives for Cyber Security Enhancement:
- In India, several initiatives such as the Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative, National Cyber Security Coordination Centre (NCCC), Cyber Swachhta Kendra, Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), and Computer Emergency Response Team – India (CERT-IN) have been introduced to bolster cybersecurity measures.
- Internationally, organizations like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime play a crucial role in fostering global cybersecurity.
- To mitigate such cyber threats, it is crucial to develop comprehensive national cybersecurity policies and strategies focusing on both defensive and offensive capabilities.
- Allocating resources for strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure, including advanced intrusion detection systems and secure networks, as well as providing cybersecurity training for government agencies, is essential.
World Biosphere Reserve Day
- World Biosphere Reserve Day is celebrated on November 3rd to mark the anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which was launched by UNESCO in 1971.
- The MAB Programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.
What is a Biosphere Reserve?
- A biosphere reserve is a designated area of land or water that is internationally recognized as part of a global network of sites for the conservation of biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable development.
- Biosphere reserves are intended to be “learning places for sustainable development” where communities can work together to test and demonstrate innovative approaches to living in harmony with nature.
The Purpose of Biosphere Reserves
- The primary purpose of biosphere reserves is to conserve in situ (in their natural place) all forms of life, along with their support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems.
- Biosphere reserves also play an important role in promoting sustainable development, education, and research.
How Biosphere Reserves Work
Biosphere reserves are typically divided into three zones:
- Core zone: The core zone is the most protected area of the biosphere reserve and is intended for the conservation of biodiversity and ecological processes.
- Buffer zone: The buffer zone surrounds the core zone and is intended to provide protection from activities that could negatively impact the core zone.
- Transition zone: The transition zone is the outermost zone of the biosphere reserve and is intended for sustainable development activities.
Examples of Biosphere Reserves
There are currently 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries around the world. Some examples of well-known biosphere reserves include:
- The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
- The Yellowstone National Park in the United States
- The Great Barrier Reef in Australia
- The Sundarbans in Bangladesh and India
- The Amazon Rainforest in South America
Biosphere Reserves in India
Out of the eighteen biosphere reserves, twelve are affiliated with the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list.
- Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve – Established in 2000, encompassing regions in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.
- Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve – Designated in 2001, located in Tamil Nadu.
- Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve – Recognized in 2001, situated in West Bengal.
- Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve – Acknowledged in 2004, found in Uttarakhand.
- Nokrek Biosphere Reserve – Designated in 2009, situated in Meghalaya.
- Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve – Established in 2009, located in Madhya Pradesh.
- Simlipal Biosphere Reserve – Designated in 2009, found in Odisha.
- Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve – Recognized in 2013, located in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve – Acknowledged in 2012, encompassing areas in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
- Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve – Designated in 2016, covering regions in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- Khangchendzonga National Park – Affiliated with the network in 2018, situated in Sikkim.
- Panna Biosphere Reserve – Recognized in 2020, located in Madhya Pradesh.
- Biosphere reserves are important sites for the conservation of biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable development. They are also important learning places for people of all ages.
- By supporting biosphere reserves, we can help to protect our planet’s natural heritage and ensure a sustainable future for all.
Facts for prelims:
Film Piracy in India
- Film piracy encompasses the unlawful duplication and dissemination of movies, conducted without the consent of copyright holders.
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has recently established an institutional framework to combat the issue of film piracy, which is estimated to cost the entertainment industry a staggering Rs 20,000 crore annually.
This illicit activity can take various forms, including:
- Sharing pirated content on platforms like YouTube, Telegram channels, websites, and other online platforms.
- Illegally downloading or streaming films from unauthorized websites.
- The sale or purchase of counterfeit DVDs or Blu-rays.
- Unauthorized recording of films, either in movie theatres or at home.
- This move aligns with the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, which was addressed during the Monsoon Session. The Act addresses concerns related to film certification, unauthorized recording and exhibition of films, and the rampant problem of film piracy.
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
- The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty effectively prohibits “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” globally.
- This treaty was made available for signature in September 1996 and has garnered signatures from 187 nations, with 178 of them having ratified it. Russia has recently made the decision to exit the CTBT.
- For the CTBT to formally take effect, it necessitates ratification by 44 specific nations. Among these, eight nations are yet to ratify it, including India, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran, Egypt, and the United States.
- Despite the CTBT not having officially come into force, it has succeeded in its primary objective, which is curtailing nuclear weapon test explosions.