News: China has accorded the pangolin the highest level of protection and removed the scales of the Pangolin from its list of approved traditional medicines.
- Pangolin: They are scaly anteater mammals of the order Pholidota.They have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin and they are the only known mammals with this feature.
- Habitat: Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India:
- Indian Pangolin: It is widely distributed in India, except the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East.The species is also found in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- Chinese Pangolin: It is found in Himalayan foothills in Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northern India, North-East Bangladesh, through Southern China and Taiwan.
- IUCN Conservation Status:
- Indian pangolin – Endangered
- Chinese pangolin – Critically Endangered
- Threats: a) Huntedfor its meat across the northeastern States and in central India.and b) Smuggled for scales especially in China as it is believed that scales possess magic or charms and have medicinal properties.
News: India has joined the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence(GPAI) as a founding member.
- GPAI: It is an international and multi-stakeholder initiative to guide the responsible development and use of Artificial Intelligence(AI) grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth.
- Member Countries: USA, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore.
- Secretariat: It will be hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) in Paris as well as by two Centers of Expertise- one each in Montreal and Paris.
News: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released its Yearbook 2020.
- Nine nuclear-armed countries: US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
- These countries together account for an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons as of January 2020.
- Highest Nuclear warheads: Russia leads with 6,375 warheads, followed by the US with 5,800 and the UK with 215 warheads.
- India: India has increased their nuclear warheads in 2019 to 150. However, China(320) and Pakistan(160) have more nuclear warheads as compared to India.
- SIPRI :It is an independent international institute established in 1966 in Stockholm, Sweden.It is dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
- Top five largest Military Spenders: United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
News: Union Petroleum Minister has inaugurated the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX).
- Indian Gas Exchange(IGX): It is India’s first online natural gas trading platform that will enable market participants to trade in standardised gas contracts.
- It is owned and operated by the Indian Energy Exchange(IEX).
- Significance: It is expected to facilitate overall transparent price discovery in natural gas and facilitate the growth of the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket.
Note: The price of domestically produced natural gas is decided by the government.It will not be sold on the gas exchange.
- Indian Energy Exchange(IEX): It is the first energy exchange in India regulated by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).
- It provides a nationwide, automated trading platform for physical delivery of electricity, Renewable Energy Certificates and Energy Saving Certificates.
News: India is staring at the 5th recession which will be different from previous recessions and will come with a fresh set of challenges.
- Recession: Itis generally defined as a fall in the overall economic activity for two consecutive quarters (six months) accompanied by a decline in income, sales and employment.
- Previous Recessions: According to Reserve Bank of India, since independence India has witnessed four recessions:
- 1958 – Caused due to Balance of Payment(BoP) crisis
- 1966 – Caused due to Drought
- 1973 – Caused due to Energy Crisis
- 1980 – Caused due to Oil Shock leading to BoP crisis
- Current Recession: The current recession staring at India is due to the coronavirus induced Lockdown which has affected the economic activity.
News: The traditional art of ‘talamaddale’, a variant of Yakshagana theatre has gone digital in times of COVID-19 pandemic.
- Tala-Maddale: It is an ancient form of performance dialogue or debate performance in Southern India in the Karavali and Malnad regions of Karnataka and Kerala.
- The artform is a derived form of Yakshagana—a classical dance or musical form of art from the same region.
- Difference: Music is common for both Yakshagana performance and Talamaddale.However,Talamaddale consists of only spoken words without any dance, costumes or stage conventions.
- Yakshagana: It is a temple theatre art form of Karnataka that depicts mythological stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other Hindu epics.It combines dance, music, dialogue, costumes, make-up and stage techniques with a unique style and form.