14 Jun | UPSC Current Affairs: Ramprasad Bismil, Lipulekh Pass, GAAR, Vidyut Rakshak & More

UPSC GS 1

Ram Prasad Bismil

  • News:   Birth anniversary celebrated recently on June 11.
  •  Early Life:
      • Ram Prasad Bismil Born in 1897 in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
      • Joined the Arya Samaj at a young age.

Ramprasad Bismil

  •  Ideology and Actions:
      • Advocated revolutionary methods for India’s freedom struggle, contrasting with Gandhian principles.
      • Involved in distributing prohibited literature during the Mainpuri Conspiracy.
  •  Formation of Organizations:
      • Co-founded the Hindustan Republican Association with Sachindra Nath Sanyal and Jadugopal Mukherjee.
      • Established the revolutionary organization “Matrivedi.”
  •  Notable Incidents:
      • Participated in the Kakori Robbery Case alongside Chandra Shekhar Azad and Ashfaqulla Khan.
  •  Literary and Cultural Contributions:
      • Renowned for his patriotic poem “Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna.”
  •  Execution and Legacy:
      • Executed on December 19, 1927, for his role in the Kakori Conspiracy Case, leaving behind a legacy of bravery and sacrifice.

Lipulekh Pass

  • News:  Indian traders demand resumption of border trade with China through Lipulekh pass.
  • Location:
      • Located near the tri-junction of India, China (Tibet), and Nepal.
      • Situated in Uttarakhand, specifically in the Pithoragarh district.
  • Significance:
      • Major pass in the Kumaun region, situated in the Kali Valley.
      • Has served as an ancient trade route for centuries.
  • Historical and Cultural Importance:
      • Used by traders, pilgrims, and travelers for cultural exchange over the ages.

Lipulekh Pass

  • Role in Pilgrimage:
      • Reduces travel time significantly for the Kailash Mansarovar Pilgrimage.

Gender Gap Report 2024

  • News:  India has ranked 129 on Global Gender Gap Index Report 2024.
  • Global Gender Gap Index
      • The Global Gender Gap Index is an annual report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
      • It evaluates gender-based disparities in access to resources and opportunities across countries worldwide. 
      • Established in 2006, it is the most long standing index for monitoring progress in bridging gender gaps over time.
  • Key Parameters: The index assesses the gender gap across four main dimensions:
      • Economic Participation and Opportunity
      • Educational Attainment
      • Health and Survival
      • Political Empowerment
  • Scoring System: Countries are ranked on a scale from 0 to 1:
      • Score of 1: Indicates complete gender equality.
      • Score of 0: Indicates a total absence of equality.
  • Key Highlights: India’s Gender Gap Status in 2024
      • Overall Ranking and Score: India has closed 64.1% of its gender gap in 2024, but its ranking has declined from 127th last year to 129th. Among South Asian economies, India is the third lowest.
      • Comparative Rankings with Neighbors
        • Bangladesh: 99th position
        • Nepal: 117th position
        • Sri Lanka: 122nd position
        • Bhutan: 124th position (score: 0.651)
        • Pakistan: 145th position (score: 0.570)
      • India’s Ranking in Key Parameters: 
        • Economic Participation and Opportunity: 142nd
        • Health and Survival: 142nd
        • Educational Attainment: 112th
        • Political Empowerment: 65th
      • Political Empowerment Sub-Index: 
        • Head-of-State Indicator: India ranks within the top 10 with a score of 40.7%.
        • Federal Representation: However, India’s scores for women’s representation at the federal level, in ministerial positions (6.9%) and in parliament (17.2%), remain relatively low. 
      • Economic Parity: 
        • India’s economic parity stands at 39.8%, indicating that, on average, women earn Rs 39.8 for every Rs 100 that men earn.
      • Educational Attainment:
        • Lower Parity: India’s score in ‘Educational Attainment’ also contributed to a lower parity status compared to the previous assessment cycles. 
        • Wide Gender Gap: The shares of women are high in primary, secondary and tertiary education enrolments but they have only been modestly increasing.
          • The gap between men and women’s literacy rate is 17.2 percentage points wide, leaving India ranked 124th on this indicator. 
  • Key Highlights Worldwide: 
      • Global Gender Gap: The global gender gap now stands at 68.5%, a 0.1% point improvement on last year, primarily due to modest gains in economic participation and opportunity.
      • Top-Ranking Countries: Iceland ranked as the most gender-equal country in the world for the 15th consecutive year and the only country to have closed 93.5% of its gender gap.

Key Highlights Worldwide

        • It was followed in the top 10 by Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Nicaragua, Germany, Namibia, Ireland and Spain.
        • While no country has yet achieved full gender parity, the top ten ranking countries have closed at least 80% of their gap.

See this: India – Africa Relations: History, Sigificance, Challenges and Solutions | UPSC

UPSC GS 2

General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR)

  • News:  The Telangana High Court has ruled against a taxpayer against whom the revenue department had invoked General Anti-avoidance Rule (GAAR).
  • Definition
      • The General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) is an Indian law designed to curb tax evasion and prevent tax leaks. 
      • Implemented on 1st April 2017, GAAR falls under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • Purpose:
      • GAAR aims to deter aggressive tax planning, specifically targeting transactions or business arrangements created solely to avoid paying taxes. 
      • Its goal is to minimize revenue losses for the government caused by these tax avoidance strategies.
  • Application:
      • GAAR applies to transactions that are technically legal but lead to reduced tax liability. 
      • This type of tax planning, where the primary purpose is tax reduction, is what GAAR seeks to regulate.
  • Categories of Tax Reduction: Tax reduction can be divided into three categories:
      • Tax Mitigation: This involves using fiscal incentives provided by tax legislation, complying with its conditions, and considering the economic consequences.
        • Tax mitigation is allowed under the Act and remains acceptable even after GAAR’s implementation.
      • Tax Evasion: This occurs when individuals or entities do not pay the taxes they owe, which is illegal and subject to prosecution.
        • Acts of illegality, wilful suppression of facts, misrepresentation, and fraud fall under tax evasion and are prohibited by law.
      • GAAR does not cover tax evasion, as existing laws already address it.
      • Tax Avoidance: This includes legal actions taken to reduce tax liability, though not illegal, are considered undesirable as they undermine effective tax collection.
        • GAAR targets transactions where the main purpose is to avoid tax by using legal means that would not have been pursued without the tax benefit.
  • GAAR’s Impact:
      • GAAR treats tax avoidance and tax evasion similarly, scrutinizing any transaction that reduces tax liability. 
      • By addressing transactions intended solely for tax reduction, GAAR aims to ensure that such practices are curtailed.

UPSC GS 3

Vidyut Rakshak

  • News:   Indian Army has unveiled “Vidyut Rakshak”.
  • Definition:
      • A system designed specifically for the Indian Army to monitor, protect, and control generators.
      • Utilizes Internet of Things (IoT) technology for enhanced functionality.
  • Developed by: Army Design Bureau (ADB)

Vidyut Rakshak

  • Functionality:
      • Monitors parameters of all existing generators, regardless of type, make, rating, or age.
      • Predicts and prevents faults through advanced analytics.
      • Automates manual operations, reducing dependency on manpower.

Quantum Mechanics

  • News:  Recently, the United Nations declared 2025 the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology to celebrate the contributions of quantum science to technological progress.
  • Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: Branch of physics dealing with particles at atomic and subatomic levels.
  • Key Concepts:
  • Superposition: Particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously until observed.
  • Entanglement: Particles can be interconnected, where the state of one instantly affects another regardless of distance.
  • Quantum Computing: Utilizes qubits in superposition to perform multiple calculations simultaneously.
  • Quantum Cryptography: Applies quantum principles to create secure communication systems.
  • Wave-Particle Duality: Small objects exhibit characteristics of both particles (matter) and waves (energy disturbance).
  • Uncertainty Principle: States that position and speed of particles (e.g., photons, electrons) cannot be simultaneously known with perfect accuracy.

Nagarahole Tiger Reserve

  • News:  An elephant that was part of the historic Mysuru Dasara celebrations died of electrocution near Karnataka’s Nagarahole Tiger Reserve recently.
  •  Introduction to Nagarahole Tiger Reserve:
      • Located in the districts of Mysore and Kodagu in Karnataka.
      • Covers an area of 847.981 sq km.
      • Named after the river ‘Nagarahole,’ which means ‘snake stream’ in Kannada, flowing through the habitat and joining the Kabini river.
      • Forms part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
  • Geographical Features:
      • Contiguous with Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) to the south.
      • Adjacent to Bandipur Tiger Reserve to the southeastern parts.
      • Features Kabini and Taraka reservoirs in the west and southeastern parts respectively.
  • Historical Background:
      • Origin as a protected area dates back to the Wodeyar dynasty, used as a hunting reserve.
      • Established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 by Coorg State.
      • Upgraded to a national park in 1988.
      • Designated as a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger in 1999.
  • Vegetation and Flora:
      • Predominantly southern tropical, moist, mixed deciduous vegetation.
      • Eastern portion transitions into dry deciduous type.
      • Includes swampy fallows called ‘hadlu’ dominated by grasses and sedges, preferred by wild herbivores.
      • Features commercially important trees like rosewood, teak, sandalwood, and silver oak.
  • Fauna:
      • Supports diverse wildlife including carnivores like Tiger, Leopard, Asiatic wild dog, and Sloth bear.
      • Herbivores such as Asiatic Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Chital, Muntjac, Four-horned antelope, Wild pig, Mouse deer, and South-western langur thrive in the reserve. 

Microalgae

  • News:  CSIR-IICT scientists identify microalgae as a potential protein supplement.
  • Characteristics
      • Microscopic Algal Species: Microalgae are tiny algal species, differing from the larger, macroscopic algae.
      • Unicellular Nature: They are predominantly unicellular, though some form colonies with more complex structures.
      • Size Range: Their sizes vary widely, from just a few micrometers to several hundred micrometers.
      • Lack of Plant Structures: Unlike higher plants, microalgae lack roots, stems, or leaves.
      • Photosynthetic Ability: They are mostly photosynthetic due to the presence of photosynthetic pigments.
      • Habitat Diversity: These versatile organisms can inhabit a range of aquatic environments, including freshwater, brackish water, marine, and hypersaline conditions.
      • Examples: Examples of unicellular microalgae include green algae, diatoms, and dinoflagellates.

Microalgae

  • Importance of Microalgae
      • Primary Producers: Microalgae serve as primary producers in ecosystems.
      • Aquatic Food Webs: They play a crucial role in supporting various organisms and influencing nutrient cycles within aquatic food webs.
      • Oxygen Production: Their photosynthetic activity contributes significantly to oxygen production in the environment.
      • Symbiotic Relationships: They can establish symbiotic relationships with other organisms, such as providing nutrients to corals (zooxanthellae) through photosynthesis.
      • Nitrogen Fixation: Certain microalgae species, like Nostoc, Anabaena, and Oscillatoria, have the ability to fix nitrogen.
      • Resource of Nutrients: Microalgae are a valuable source of essential nutrients, including lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and pigments, offering significant nutritional and health benefits.
      • Dietary Supplements: Notably, Spirulina and Chlorella are popular types of microalgae consumed as dietary supplements, known for their rich nutrient profiles and health-promoting properties.
  • What is Algae?
      • Algae are a diverse group of aquatic organisms that have the ability to conduct photosynthesis. 
      • Certain algae are familiar to most people; for instance, seaweeds (such as kelp or phytoplankton), pond scum or the algal blooms in lakes. 
      • However, there exists a vast and varied world of algae that are not only helpful to us, but are critical to our existence.

Kala-azar

  • News: World Health Organization (WHO) launched a new framework on June 12 to guide health authorities, policy makers and other stakeholders to eradicate the disease in eastern Africa.
  • Kala-azar (Visceral Leishmaniasis)
      • Kala-azar, also known as visceral leishmaniasis (VL), is a severe form of leishmaniasis caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani.
      •  The disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female sandfly, primarily Phlebotomus argentipes in India.
  • Symptoms: 
      • Fever: Irregular bouts of fever.
      • Weight Loss: Significant and substantial weight loss.
      • Organ Swelling: Swelling of the spleen and liver.
      • Severe Anaemia: If left untreated, severe anaemia can develop, which may lead to death within two years.

Kala-azar

  • Diagnosis
      • Clinical Signs: Diagnosis is based on clinical signs.
      • Parasitological Tests: Involves testing for the presence of the parasite.
      • Serological Tests: Use of tests such as the rK39 diagnostic kit.
  • Prevalence
      • Kala-azar is endemic in 75 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In 2020, India accounted for 18% of the global burden of this disease.

 Pterosaur

  • News:  Paleontologists have discovered a new species of pterosaur after analysing 100-million-year-old fossilised bones uncovered in western Queensland, Australia.
  • Pterosaurs: Mesozoic Era Flying Reptiles
      • Pterosaurs are a group of flying reptiles that thrived throughout the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic Era, spanning from approximately 252.2 million to 66 million years ago. 
      • Despite not being classified as dinosaurs, pterosaurs, like dinosaurs, belong to the archosaur clade, which also includes birds and crocodiles. 
      • Notably, pterosaurs were the first reptiles capable of flight and the earliest vertebrates known to have achieved powered flight.

Pterosaur

  • Distinctive Characteristics
      • Flight Adaptations: Pterosaur wings were formed by an advanced membrane of skin extending from the thorax to an elongated fourth finger.
      • Diversity in Morphology: Early pterosaur species possessed long, fully-toothed jaws and elongated tails. In contrast, later species exhibited significantly reduced tails, and some were edentulous (lacked teeth).
      • Neck and Feeding Adaptations: Many pterosaurs had elongated necks, and some species had throat pouches akin to those of modern pelicans, which were likely used for catching fish.
  • Evolutionary Significance: 
      • The evolution of flight in pterosaurs occurred independently of the development of flight in birds and bats. 
      • Pterosaurs are not closely related to either birds or bats, making their flight capabilities an example of convergent evolution, where similar traits evolve separately in unrelated lineages.
  • Notable Species:
      • Included Quetzalcoatlus, the largest known flying vertebrate, from the late Cretaceous period.
  • Extinction:
      • Extinct around 65.5 million years ago during the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.
      • Birds, descendants of dinosaurs, eventually filled the ecological niche once dominated by pterosaurs.

Tmesipteris Oblanceolate

  • News:  The fern species Tmesipteris oblanceolata from New Caledonia has been found to have more than 50 times more DNA in each cell than humans.
  • Genome Size:
      • Tmesipteris oblanceolata  contains 160 billion base pairs, making it the largest known eukaryotic genome.
      • Approximately 50 times larger than the human genome.

Tmesipteris Oblanceolate

  •   Previous Record Holder:
      • Before Tmesipteris oblanceolata, the largest known genome belonged to the Paris japonica flower, with 149 billion base pairs.
  • Habitat and Distribution:
      • Grows epiphytically on fallen trunks in the forests of New Caledonia.
      • Belongs to a genus of vascular plants with only about 15 known species.
      • Found on the island nation of New Caledonia (overseas French territory situated in the Southwest Pacific)  Oceania and several Pacific Islands, including Eastern Australia.
  • Physical Description:
      • Typically, 15 to 30 cm long, mostly unbranched.
      • Features shorter leaves at the base.
      • Leaves have tops that appear abruptly cut off, described as “truncata.”

Donanemab

  • News: Donanemab, currently undergoing trials, has demonstrated significant potential in slowing cognitive decline in individuals with early Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Definition: 
      • Donanemab is a monoclonal antibody that targets amyloid, a sticky protein that accumulates in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Efficacy:
      • More effective in individuals with low to moderate tau levels at the trial’s onset compared to those with high tau levels.
  • Tau Protein:
      • Tau (t-tau) protein reflects the intensity of neuronal damage in neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: 
      • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and irreversible neurological disorder.
      • Beta-amyloid, a protein vital for brain function, becomes toxic in Alzheimer’s patients.
      • Forms clumps that disrupt brain cell connections, leading to cognitive issues such as memory loss.
      • Protein deposits interfere with neuron communication.
      • Early Symptoms: Initial signs include forgetfulness, difficulty finding words, problem-solving challenges, confusion, and disorientation.
      • Causes:  Involves genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

 

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