2 Jul | UPSC Current Affairs: Minami-Torishima, Santhal Tribe, eSankhyiki Portal & More

UPSC GS 1   

Minami-Torishima Island

  • News:  A  survey conducted by University of Tokyo has found the seabed around Minami-Tori-shima island harboring 610,000 metric tons of cobalt and 740,000 metric tons of nickel.
  • Definition: Minami-Torishima Island, also known as Marcus Island, is a significant and unique part of Japan’s territory. 
  • Location and Geography: 
      • It is the easternmost territory of Japan, situated 1,950 km southeast of central Tokyo.
      • The island is an isolated coral atoll in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, lying past the Japan Trench on the Pacific Plate.
      •  The island has an equilateral triangle shape, with sides approximately 2 km long and a perimeter of about 6 km.
      • The terrain is predominantly flat with a maximum altitude of 9 m. 
      • Surrounding the reef is a steep cliff dropping to around 1,000 m, with the surrounding waters reaching depths of approximately 6,000 m.

Minami-Torishima Island

  • Climate: 
      • Minami-Torishima has a transitional climate between tropical and subtropical zones, classified as oceanic.
      • Temperature: The average annual temperature is around 25.6 °C.
  • Economic Significance: 
      • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): The island’s EEZ is extensive, covering approximately 430,000 km², which is larger than Japan’s total land area. 
      • This EEZ is valuable for its potential resources and strategic location.

Santhal Tribal Community

  • News:  The Prime Minister of India recently honored the sacrifices and bravery of the Santhal tribal community.
  • Definition
      • The Santhal tribal community is the third-largest scheduled tribe in India, following the Gonds and Bhils. 
      • Their primary concentrations are in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha, located in the eastern part of the country.
  • Language: 
      • The Santhals speak Santhali, a dialect of Kherwari, part of the Munda (Austroasiatic) language family.
      • Santhali is written in the Ol Chiki script and is recognized as one of the scheduled languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • History and Migration:
      • Originally a nomadic group, the Santhals eventually settled on the Chotanagpur plateau.
      • By the end of the 18th century, they were concentrated in the Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand (previously part of Bihar).
      • From there, they migrated to Odisha and West Bengal.
  • Religion and Culture: 
      • Santhals are nature worshippers and often pay homage at Jaher (sacred groves) in their villages.
      • Traditional attire includes dhoti and gamuchha for men and short-check sarees, usually blue and green, for women, who often adorn tattoos.
      • Various forms of marriage are accepted in Santhal society, including elopement, widow remarriage, levirate, forced marriage (rare), and marriage following impregnation.
      • Divorce is not taboo in Santhal society, and either partner can initiate it.
  • Occupation and Lifestyle: 
      • Most Santhals are agriculturists, relying on their farmland and forests.
      • Seasonal forest collection is a significant source of subsidiary income.
      • Dance (enej) and music (sereng) are integral parts of Santhal life.
      • Their homes, known as Olah, feature a distinct three-color pattern on the outer walls: black soil on the bottom, white in the middle, and red on the top.
  • Santhal Rebellion (1855-56): 
      • The Santhal uprising is a notable revolt against the British Raj, occurring between 1855 and 1856.
      • It was India’s first major peasant uprising, driven by the implementation of the Permanent Land Settlement in 1793.
      • The rebellion was led by Sido and Kanhu and primarily took place in the regions of Bihar.

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Gardi Sugdub Island (Crab Island)

  • News: Hundreds of Indigenous families complete relocation off Gardi Sugdub due to rising sea levels.
  • Location and Geography:
      • It is a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea.
      • Part of the San Blas archipelago, which includes 365 islands, mostly uninhabited.
  • Population:
      • Home to 1,200 indigenous Guna people.
      • The Guna people are known for their vibrant molas: intricately sewn textiles that represent both artistic expression and cultural identity.
      • Isber Yala is the planned community of Gardi Sugdub. 

Gardi Sugdub Island (Crab Island)

  • Climate Change Impact:
      • Inhabitants will soon be displaced to the mainland due to sea level rise induced by climate change.
  • Significance:
      • Panama is set to become the first Latin American nation to evacuate an entire island community due to climate change.


European Council

  • News:   Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has congratulated H.E Mr. António Costa on being elected as next President of the European Council.
  • Definition: The European Council is a crucial institution of the European Union (EU) that defines the general political direction and priorities of the EU.
  • Establishment: Created in 1974 as an informal forum for discussions among the heads of state or government of EU member states.
  • Treaty of Maastricht: Acquired formal status and role under this treaty to provide the impetus and general political guidelines for the EU.
  • Members: Comprises the heads of state or government of the 27 EU member states, the European Council President, and the President of the European Commission.
  • Meetings: Typically meets four times a year, but additional meetings can be convened by the President to address urgent issues.
  • Decision-Making: Generally decides issues by consensus but may use unanimity or qualified majority in certain cases. Only heads of state or government can vote.
  • Functions
      • Decides on the EU’s overall direction and political priorities.
      • Does not pass laws but provides the necessary political impetus.
      • Deals with complex or sensitive issues that cannot be resolved at lower levels of intergovernmental cooperation.
      • Sets the EU’s common foreign and security policy, considering EU strategic interests and defense implications.
  • Appointments:
      • Nominates and appoints candidates to high-profile EU roles, such as those in the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission.
  • Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.

eSankhyiki Portal

  • News: The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) has launched the eSankhyiki portal.
  • Definition
      • The eSankhyiki Portal is a comprehensive data management and sharing system designed to provide real-time inputs for planners, policymakers, researchers, and the public. 
      • Its primary objective is to facilitate the dissemination of official statistics in India, making it easier to access, use, and reuse valuable data.
  • The portal consists of two main modules:
      • Data Catalogue Module
      • This module organizes the major data assets of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) in one place, ensuring easy access.
      • Users can search within datasets, including tables, and download data of interest, enhancing its value and re-usability.
      • It features seven data products: National Accounts Statistics, Consumer Price Index, Index of Industrial Production, Annual Survey of Industries, Periodic Labour Force Survey, Household Consumption Expenditure Survey, and Multiple Indicator Survey.
      • The Data Catalogue section already includes over 2,291 datasets, complete with specific metadata and visualizations for user convenience.
      • Macro Indicators Module:
      • This module provides time series data of key macro indicators, with features for filtering and visualizing data, facilitating easy access for users.
      • It allows users to download custom datasets and visualizations, and share them through APIs, thereby increasing the re-usability of data.
      • In its first phase, the module includes four major products of MoSPI: National Accounts Statistics, Consumer Price Index, Index of Industrial Production, and Annual Survey of Industries, covering data from the past ten years.
      • The portal currently hosts more than 1.7 million records.
  • Importance
      • The eSankhyiki Portal was officially launched on Statistics Day, aligning with the theme of “Use of data for Decision making,” which emphasizes the importance of easy access to data for evidence-based decision-making.
      •  This user-centric data portal aims to facilitate the use and reuse of information, enabling users to create impact through value addition and analysis.


Araku Valley Arabica Coffee

  • News:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the 111th episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’  praised the “flavour and significance” of Araku coffee from Andhra Pradesh.
  • Definition: Araku Valley Arabica coffee is cultivated in the hilly terrains of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, India, and parts of Odisha. 
  • Geographical Indication (GI) Tag: Awarded in 2019, the GI tag signifies the unique qualities and reputation of Araku coffee due to its geographical origin.
  • Cultivation: Grown at elevations of 900-1100 meters above sea level in the Araku Valley, known for its conducive climate and terrain for coffee cultivation.
  • Organic Practices: The coffee is cultivated through the use of organic manures, green manuring, and organic pest management techniques. 
  • Community Involvement: The production of Araku coffee involves tribal communities, emphasizing sustainable and community-oriented agricultural practices.

Araku Valley Arabica Coffee

  • Other Types Of Indian Coffee With GI Tags:
      • Coorg Arabica coffee is cultivated exclusively in the Kodagu district of Karnataka.
      • Wayanaad Robusta coffee is grown specifically in the Wayanad district in the eastern part of Kerala.
      • Chikmagalur Arabica coffee is produced in the Chikmagalur district, located in the Malnad region of Karnataka on the Deccan plateau.
      • Bababudangiris Arabica coffee is grown in the birthplace of coffee in India, situated in the central part of Chikmagalur district. This coffee, also known as high-grown coffee, matures slowly in the gentle climate, enhancing its distinct taste and aroma.
      •  Monsooned Malabar Robusta coffee, a distinctive specialty coffee from India, received GI certification earlier.
  • Coffee Production in India: 
      • Major Producing States: Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha.
      • Leading Producer: Karnataka contributes over 70% of the total coffee production in India.
  • Ideal Climatic Conditions for Coffee Growth: 
      • Temperature: 15°C to 28°C.
      • Annual Rainfall: 150 to 250 cm.
      • Elevation: 600 to 1600 meters above sea level.
      • Weather during Berry Ripening: Dry weather is crucial for berry ripening.
  • Soil Requirements: 
      • Type: Well-drained, loamy soil.
      • Composition: Rich in humus, iron, and calcium.
      • Cultivation Practices: Coffee plants are typically grown under shade trees to provide optimal conditions and protect against direct sunlight.


  • News:  Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has taken up a preliminary study on the design and development of an indigenous conventional submarine under Project-76. 
  • Objective:  Project-76 aims to design and develop India’s first indigenously-built conventional diesel-electric submarine.
  • Scope:
      • The Indian Navy plans to construct 12 submarines under this project.
      • These submarines will be air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped diesel-electric attack submarines with a submerged displacement of 3,000 tons.
      • They are designed to surpass their foreign-designed predecessors like Project-751 (India) and Project-75 submarines.
  • Design and Features:
      • The submarines will succeed the renowned Sindhughosh (Kilo) class, ensuring the Navy maintains a robust 3,000-ton class of submarines.
      • They will feature advanced indigenous technologies, including a Weapon Control System and Lithium-ion batteries.
      • It integrates top-tier French technology from Project 75 with expertise from the German/Spanish collaboration of Project 751 (India).
  • Timeline and Significance:
      • The construction of the prototype is targeted to begin by 2028.
      • This project is crucial for enhancing India’s submarine-building capabilities and reducing dependence on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for submarine design.

Naegleria Fowleri

  • News:  Recently, South Korea reported its first case of Naegleria fowleri, a rare and fatal infection often referred to as the “br ain-eating amoeba.”
  • Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM): PAM is a rare brain infection caused by Naegleria fowleri.
  • Naegleria fowleri: It is a free-living amoeba or single-celled organism.
      • Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in warm freshwater and soil worldwide.
  • Transmission: Enters the body through the nose, usually during activities like swimming.

Naegleria Fowleri

  • Preferred Environment: Thrives in warm freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, poorly maintained swimming pools, and recreational venues with minimal chlorination.
  • Symptoms: Headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, hallucinations, coma.
      • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most individuals with PAM succumb to the disease within 1 to 18 days after symptoms emerge. Death typically occurs within 5 days.
  • Treatment: Scientists have yet to identify effective treatments for PAM. Doctors currently employ a combination of drugs, including:
      • Amphotericin B
      • Azithromycin
      • Fluconazole
      • Rifampin
      • Miltefosine
      • Dexamethasone
  • Amoeba:  
      • An amoeba, often called an amoeboid, is a type of cell or unicellular organism with the ability to alter its shape.
      • It belongs to the biological kingdom Protista.
      • Amoeba cells are eukaryotic, which means their genetic material (or DNA) is well organised and enclosed within a membrane by forming a “nucleus.”

INS Ranvir

  • News:   Indian Naval Ship INS Ranvir, of the Eastern Fleet under the aegis of the Eastern Naval Command arrived at Chattogram, Bangladesh  as part of an Operational Deployment.
  • Class and Type: INS Ranvir is a Rajput-class guided missile destroyer.
  • Upgrades: It has been upgraded with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, the majority of which are indigenous.
  • Commissioning: It is the fourth of the five Rajput-class destroyers built for the Indian Navy and was commissioned on 28 October 1986.
  • Activities: During its current visit, personnel from the Indian and Bangladesh navies will engage in various professional interactions, including:
      • Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE)
      • Cross-deck visits
      • Community outreach
      • Friendly sports fixtures

INS Ranvir

  • Maritime Exercise: Upon completion of the harbour phase, INS Ranvir will participate in a Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX)/ PASSEX with ships of the Bangladesh Navy.
  • Significance of the Visit: 
      • The visit aims to further strengthen the longstanding friendship and cooperation between India and Bangladesh. 
      • It will enhance the robust interoperability between the two nations through a series of engagements and activities.
      •  This initiative aligns with the Government of India’s focus on Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

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Snowblind Malware

  • News:  A new malware called ‘Snowblind’ is targeting Android users and stealing banking credentials.
  • Definition: 
      • Snowblind is a sophisticated malware targeting Android devices, specifically designed to steal banking information. 
      • Discovered by the cybersecurity firm Promon, Snowblind is capable of capturing banking login details and conducting unauthorized transactions.
  • How Snowblind Malware Operates: 
      • Exploiting Seccomp: Unlike other Android malware, Snowblind exploits a feature called “seccomp” in the Linux kernel, which is intended to prevent tampering.
      • It injects malicious code before seccomp activates, bypassing Android’s built-in security checks.
      • Misuse of Accessibility Services: Once bypassing the security, Snowblind uses Android’s accessibility services to monitor the screen activity.
      • This allows it to steal login information by observing screen interactions and interrupting banking app sessions.
      • Infection Method:
      • Users typically get infected by downloading a malicious app that appears legitimate.
      • The malware repackages a seemingly harmless app to avoid detection, then misuses accessibility features to gather sensitive information and control the app remotely.
      • Disabling Security Features:
      • Snowblind can disable biometric and two-factor authentication (2FA) protections, making it easier for attackers to commit fraud and identity theft.
      • The malware operates quietly in the background, making it difficult for users to realize their device is compromised.
  • Risks and Impact:
      • Fraud and Identity Theft: By capturing login details and bypassing security measures, Snowblind puts users at a high risk of financial fraud and identity theft.
      • Stealth Operation: The malware’s ability to operate undetected increases the potential for prolonged unauthorized access and data theft.
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