- Archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest known cave art — a life-sized picture of a wild pig that was painted at least 45,500 years ago in in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.
- The cave painting consists of a figurative depiction of a warty pig, a wild boar that is endemic to this Indonesian island.
- The finding also represents some of the earliest archaeological evidence for modern humans in the region.
- The cave is in a valley that is enclosed by steep limestone cliffs, and is only accessible by a narrow cave passage in the dry season, as the valley floor is completely flooded in the wet season.
- It shows a pig with a short crest of upright hairs and a pair of horn-like facial warts in front of the eyes, a characteristic feature of adult male Sulawesi warty pigs.
- Painted using red ochre pigment, the pig appears to be observing a fight or social interaction between two other warty pigs.
- These pigs were the most commonly portrayed animal in the ice age rock art of the island, suggesting they have long been valued both as food and a focus of creative thinking and artistic expression.
- The previously oldest dated rock art ‘scene’ at least 43,900 years old, was a depiction of hybrid human-animal beings hunting Sulawesi warty pigs and dwarf bovids.
- It was discovered by the same research team at a nearby limestone cave site.
- Rock art produced in limestone caves can sometimes be dated using Uranium-series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits (‘cave popcorn’) that form naturally on the cave wall surface used as a ‘canvas’ for the art.
Cuba back on ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ list
- The US State Department put Cuba back on a blacklist designating it a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
- The U.S. has punished Cuba for decades with harsh sanctions, hoping that the Castro regime would eventually collapse. But the Cuban communists survived even the fall of the Soviet Union.
- Cuba was removed from the list in 2015 by then-president US President to normalize relations with the country.
- Cuba was being blacklisted again for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism” as well as harboring US fugitives and Colombian rebel leaders.
- The U.S., the world’s largest military power that had cooperated with communist China since the early 1970s, still treats this tiny communist country that lies off the Florida coast as an enemy.
TERROR DESIGNATION CONSEQUENCES FOR HAVANA AND EVERYDAY CUBANS:
- Foreign investors will now risk US prosecution for transactions in Cuba.
- The reinstated sanctions also include major restrictions barring most travel between the US and Cuba.
- The sanctions also curb money transfers between the two countries, hitting hard the incomes of Cubans who have relatives in the US.
- Only three other countries are currently on the “state sponsor of terrorism” list, including: North Korea, Syria and Iran.
STAND OF INDIA:
- In 2019, the US opposed Cuba’s membership in UNHRC, then India raised its voice in the United Nations General Assembly to end economic blockade against Cuba by the US, as this contravenes world opinion, undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the UNO.
Lumpy skin disease
- Lumpy skin disease (LSD) has prevailed over the village of Kammana in Kerala’s Wayanad district since the beginning of the year.
- A viral illness that causes prolonged morbidity in cattle and buffaloes. It appears as nodules of two to five centimetre diameter all over the body, particularly around the head, neck, limbs, udder and genitals.
- The lumps gradually open up like large and deep wounds. In some cases — under 10 per cent according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — the infected animal succumbs to the disease.
- While the LSD virus easily spreads by blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes, flies and ticks and through saliva and contaminated water and food, no treatment is available for the disease, that is being reported for the first time in India.
- Polar vortex is splitting into two and swirling southward and this will lead to a chilling deep freeze in the US and European countries. Earlier, such vortex developed in 2014.
WHAT IS POLAR VERTEX?
- The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It always exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter.
- The term “vortex” refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles.
- Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream.
- This is not confined to the United States. Portions of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges connected to the polar vortex.
- By itself, the only danger to humans is the magnitude of how cold temperatures will get when the polar vortex expands, sending Arctic air southward into areas that are not typically that cold.
- Polar vortex is losing stability and its splitting causes dramatic, extreme weather implications across the western nations like the US and Europe.
- With a ‘disrupted’ polar vortex in 2021, the colder air is expected to spill out of the Arctic and result in the onset of extremely harsh winters.
NCAVES India Forum 2021
- The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation is conducting three live sessions of “Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services” (NCAVES) India Forum 2021 are scheduled to be held on January 14, 21 and 28, 2021 in collaboration with United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), European Union and UN Environment.
- It aims to disseminate the activities taken up by the Ministry under the Project and to highlight the uses to which natural capital accounts can be put, especially in the areas of decision making and policy analysis.
- The first session of the event on 14 January 2021 was dedicated to the discussions on the efforts made by India and the international agencies in the domain of natural capital accounting and valuation of the ecosystem services.
- Through the forum, the Ministry targets to showcase Government’s efforts in making environment a key dimension in our policy paradigm and welcomes active participation of all stakeholders in the NCAVES India Forum 2021.
- In 2017, the European Union initiated a project, NCAVES in 2017 to help nations advance the knowledge on environmental-economic accounting, in particular ecosystem accounting that can help in ensuring sustainable economic growth.
- The NCAVES Project is being implemented in five countries – India, Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa – by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana
- The Third Phase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY 3.0) will be launched in 600 districts across the country.
- Spearheaded by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, this phase will focus on new-age and COVID-related skills.
- Skill India Mission-PMKVY 3.0 envisages training of candidates over a scheme period of 2020-2021.
- The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras, empaneled non-PMKK training centres and ITIs under Skill India will be rolling out PMKVY 3.0 training to build a robust pool of skilled professionals.
- On the basis of the learning gained from PMKVY 1.0 and PMKVY 2.0, PMKVY 3.0 will match the current policy doctrine and energize the skilling ecosystem affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Skill India Mission launched by Prime Minister on 15 July 2015 has gained tremendous momentum through launch of its flagship scheme PMKVY to unlock the vision of making India the Skill Capital of the world.
Concentration of power in India Inc: Regulator reviews seven key sectors
- The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has launched a set of detailed investigations on the market dynamics of each sector amid the unprecedented concentration of power in at least seven core sectors in corporate India, from pharma and telecom to airports and ports.
- CCI has started a review of all model concession agreements — the legal contract that forms the basis of the public-private partnership — across four key infrastructure sectors: airports, ports, electricity and railways.
- The goal is to ensure that competition remains “vibrant” and there are enough players who are able to participate in the award of concessions.
ROLE OF CCI:
- The policy of the government is to make the economy more efficient, and, in that process, what the CCI can do is look at whether the dominance is abused or not. If there is abuse of dominance, CCI can take action under Section 4 of the Competition Act.
- Section 4 bars an enterprise from abusing its dominance and defines abuse through a range of steps that include denial of access, predatory pricing, limiting goods or services in a particular market.