Prelims Booster

7th July – Prelims Booster

‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emission

A new dawn ushers on Indian Railways as it endeavours to be self-reliant for its energy needs and solarise railway stations by utilising its vacant lands for Renewable Energy (RE) projects. Railway is committed to utilise solar energy for meeting its traction power requirements and become a complete ‘Green mode of transportation’.

Plan of Indian Railways –

  • The Ministry of Railways has decided to install solar power plants on its vacant unused lands on mega scale.
  • The use of solar power will accelerate to achieve conversion of Indian Railways to ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emission Railway.
  • Indian Railways present demand would be fulfilled by the solar projects being deployed, making it the first transport organisation to be energy self-sufficient. This would help in making Indian Railways green as well as ‘Atma Nirbhar’.
  • With these mega initiatives, Indian Railways is leading India’s fight against climate challenge and is taking significant steps towards meeting its ambitious goal of being a net zero carbon emissions organisation and meeting India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) targets.

About INDC –

  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) are (intended) reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • All countries that signed the UNFCCC were asked to publish their INDCs at the 2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Warsaw, Poland, in November 2013.
  • Under the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, the INDC will become the first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) when a country ratifies the agreement unless it decides to submit a new NDC at the same time.
  • Once the Paris Agreement is ratified, the NDC will become the first greenhouse gas targets under the UNFCCC that applied equally to both developed and developing countries.
  • The INDCs combine the top-down system of a United Nations climate agreement with bottom-up system-in elements through which countries put forward their agreements in the context of their own national circumstances, capabilities, and priorities, with the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

India’s INDC targets –

India intends to adopt a climate-friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development. It aims –

  • To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
  • To mobilise domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
  • To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.


National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO) has published the 4th updated version of COVID-19 Dashboard.

Features of the dashboard –

  • A single Map Window through which a user may get a wide range of information related with COVID-19.
  • COVID Statistics – Confirmed Cases, Recovered, Deceased, Rate of Recovery, and Rate of Death information have been given state and district wise, while the health facilities Information like – Hospitals, Test Labs, Blood Banks also shown on the same map frame.
  • Drill Down‘ approach has been adopted to represent the data. Users may select a state to see District wise distribution of COVID cases and available health infrastructural facilities. Users may find individual health facility info at a higher zoomed level. Some useful information to common people like address, categories, and city locations have been indicated with info tool. The cartographic preferences for data visualisation has been considered and adopted to ensure easily interpretable data visualisation.
  • States Scenario with an emphasis to last 14 days has been illustrated through charts. First two dominant states in terms of maximum Confirmed Cases are shown by default, and a user may opt to see any other state by choosing the same from the drop-down.

What is NATMO?

  • It is functioning as a subordinate department under the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.
  • Since its inception, it is the sole national agency bearing the responsibility of depicting national framework data in the form of thematic maps and atlases to cater the various needs of different sectors.
  • NATMO being a specialised institution of its kind also engaged cartographic and geographical researches at national level.
  • NATMO has conceived and published more than eight hundred themes under the broad category of physical, social, economic, environmental disciplines. It has the largest repository of spatial and non-spatial data processed with greater accuracy for delivering good quality products. To ensure precision and value addition, NATMO keeps pace with the most modern technologies viz. GIS , GPS and Remote sensing.
  • Main functions –
    • Compilation of the National Atlas of India in Hindi, English and other regional languages.
    • Preparation of thematic maps based on socio-economic, physical, cultural, environmental,   demographic and other issues.
    • Preparation of maps/atlases for visually impaired.
    • Digital mapping and training using Remote sensing, GPS and GIS technology.
    • Training; Research & Development.

Mount Rushmore

US president Donald Trump chose Mount Rushmore for his Independence Day speech this year.

What is Mount Rushmore?

  • It is a memorial situated in South Dakota. It features 60-foot face carvings of four US Presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
  • The idea to carve the granite face of Black Hills was conceived by historian Doane Robinson in 1923, who thought it could promote tourism in the region. Robinson wrote to sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1924, suggesting that he “design and supervise a massive sculpture there”. Borglum responded that he was “very much interested” in the proposal.
  • Subsequently, Congress passed legislation authorising the carving of “heroic figures” commemorating the national history in the Harney National Forest, which is now called the Black Hills National Forest.

Why Mount Rushmore was chosen?

  • Borglum chose Mount Rushmore as the site for carving since it was the highest peak in the vicinity, had resistant granite, and faced the southeast and therefore would receive good light throughout most of the day.
  • Borglum selected these four Presidents since he felt they represented the most important events in the history of the US. The carving began in 1927 and was complete in 1941. Borglum died in March 1941, after which his son Lincoln took over the project for the remaining seven months.

Criticism –

Some critics view their policies devoted to the complete “annihilation or subjugation” of the Indigenous people. Lincoln has been criticised for his response to the Minnesota Uprising — over 300 Native Americans were sentenced to death after they were accused of attacking white settlers in 1862.

Plasma Bank

Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated India’s first plasma bank at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) to ease access to plasma that is being used as a trial to treat Covid-19 patients.

What is a ‘Plasma Bank’?

A plasma bank functions like a blood bank, and has been created specifically for those who are suffering from Covid-19, and have been advised the therapy by doctors. The facility has been set up at the ILBS, which will be the nodal centre for collection of plasma.

What is ‘Plasma Therapy’?

  • In plasma therapy, the antibody rich plasma from a recovered patient is extracted and administered to a patient. The trials are trying to find out if the antibodies can help patients recover.
  • Each plasma donation would be used to treat 2 patients. The bank collects 500 ml of plasma, depending on weight.
  • In plasma donation, as opposed to blood donation, only plasma is extracted and the other components of blood are returned to the body.
  • Blood contains several components, including red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, and plasma. During a whole blood donation, donors typically donate a pint (about a half litre) of blood. 500 ml of plasma can be donated every two weeks, while blood can be donated once in three months. 

Who can donate ‘Plasma’?

  • Those who had the disease, but have recovered at least 14 days before the donation can be considered — although doctors prefer a time of three weeks between recovery and donation.
  • People between the ages of 18 and 60, and weighing not less than 50 kg are eligible.
  • Women who have given birth are not eligible, as the antibodies they produce during pregnancy (after being exposed to the blood of the foetus) can interfere with lung function. People with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer are also excluded.

China-Bhutan border dispute

Days after Bhutan sent China a demarche protesting against Chinese claims to the Sakteng wildlife sanctuary in eastern Bhutan, Beijing has doubled down, including Bhutan’s “eastern sectors” to the boundary dispute between the two countries for the first time.

What is the issue?

  • China has recently tried to stop funding for the Sakteng sanctuary from the UN Development Programs Global Environment Facility (GEF), on the grounds that it was “disputed” territory.
  • According to written records, there has been no mention of eastern Bhutan, or Trashigang Dzongkhag (district), where Sakteng is based, that borders Arunachal Pradesh, in 24 previous rounds of boundary negotiations held between the two countries, between 1984 and 2016.
  • So far, the talks have been about three specific areas, including Jakarlung and Pasamlung in the north, and the Chumbi Valley, where Doklam is situated, in west Bhutan.

Response from Bhutan –

Bhutan rejected the claim made by China and said that the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan and at no point during the boundary discussions between Bhutan and China has it featured as a disputed area.

About Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary –

  • Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the eastern most part of Bhutan (Trashigang Dzongkhag District).
  • The SWS consists alpine meadow and temperate and warm broadleaf forests.
  • Rivers – Three major rivers – Manas Chu, Bada Chu and Dhansiri Chu – have their origin here.
  • Fauna – Red panda, Himalayan black bear, Wild dog, Snow leopard, Barking deer, and Himalayan red fox add to the mammal richness of the park. Avifaunal species like Assamese macaque, Blood pheasant, Grey backed shrike, Grey headed woodpecker, Common hoopoe, Rufous vented tit and Dark breasted rose finch are found here too.

About Global Environment Facility –

  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
  • The GEF unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
  • The GEF work focuses on six main areas, including biodiversity, climate change (mitigation and adaptation), chemicals, international waters, land degradation, sustainable forest management/REDD+.
  • GEF has also worked on other programs including, Capacity development, Country support programme, Debt-for-nature swaps etc.
  • The World Bank serves as the GEF Trustee, administering the GEF Trust Fund.

Daily MCQs

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