- On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, museum scientists have discovered 28 new species of beetles.
- All the species measure 2-3 mm as described in the journal Zookeys.
- One of them has been named Trigonopterus corona, which reflects the large impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- A new species of caddisfly (a moth-like insect) was collected near a stream in Kosovo by a team of scientists, and named Potamophylax coronavirus (Biodiversity Data Journal).
- Out of six new species of Brazilian wasps described in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research, one was named Allorhagas quarentenus, a reference to the quarantine.
- Out of five new wasp species discovered in Mexico, scientists named one Stethantyx covida (Zookeys).
Queen Heo Hwang-ok of Korea
- On the banks of the Sarayu in Ayodhya, mostly known as Ram Katha Park, will be known as Queen Heo Hwang-ok Memorial Park, after a Korean queen believed to have had Indian roots.
- Recently, the Delhi-based Korean Centre for Culture, in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, showcased a musical depicting the story of the queen at Kamani Auditorium.
- She was a Korean queen who is believed to have been born Princess Suriratna of Ayodhya, daughter of King Padmasen and Indumati.
- Padmasen ruled the ancient kingdom of Kausala, a region that extended from present-day UP to Odisha.
- Her story is described in Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of Three Kingdoms), a 13th-century collection of legends, folktales and history of Korea’s three kingdoms — Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla — and some other regions.
- In 48 BCE, the princess, then 16, travelled to Korea from the ancient land of ‘Ayuta’ and married Kim Suro, founder and King of Geumgwan Gaya in south-eastern Korea.
- She travelled by boat along with an entourage, having been sent by her father, who is said to have had a dream about her marrying Suro.
- She became the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya, believed to be located around modern-day Gimhae city in Southern Gyeonsang province. The couple are said to have had 12 children.
- More than six million present-day Koreans trace their lineage to Heo Hwang-ok.
- They belong to clans such as Gimhae Kim, Heo (the queen had asked the king that two of their sons be given her maiden name) and Lee.
- Her direct descendants include Kim Yoon-ok, wife of former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
- King Kim Suro and Queen Heo Hwang-ok birthed the Karak dynasty, whose descendants include former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil.
What led to setting up the memorial park in Ayodhya?
- In 2000, India and South Korea signed an agreement to develop Ayodhya and Gimhae as sister cities. The memorial space was unveiled in 2001.
- In 2016, a proposal was sent by a South Korean delegation to refurbish the existing memorial. Subsequently, India and South Korea signed an MoU for developing the memorial.
- South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook attended the inauguration of the beautification work in 2018.
- The memorial now comprises Queen and King pavilions with their busts in place, and a pond to represent Princess Suriratna’s journey.
- According to the legend, the princess had taken a golden egg to Korea, and the park includes an egg made of granite.
How much of her Indian connection is established as fact?
- The story has helped boost the relationship between India and South Korea. But there is some debate about her Indian origins. There are many versions of the same story.
- While Samguk Yusa talks about the queen from a distant land named Ayuta and popular culture considers it Ayodhya, no Indian document or scripture has any record of her.
- Some historians also believe that the princess could actually be from Thailand ’s Ayutthaya kingdom. But the kingdom in Thailand came about in 1350, years after Samguk Yusa had already been written.
Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission
GS 2: Government schemes related to Health
- PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission will be one of the largest pan-India schemes for strengthening healthcare infrastructure across the country.
- It will be in addition to the National Health Mission.
- Objective: To fill critical gaps in public health infrastructure, especially in critical care facilities and primary care in both the urban and rural areas.
- It will provide support to 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in 10 ‘high focus’ states and establish 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres across the country.
- Targets to build an IT enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas. Integrated Health Information Portal will be expanded to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs.
- It will ensure access to critical care services in all districts of the country with over five lakh population through ‘Exclusive Critical Care Hospital Blocks’. The remaining districts will be covered through referral services.
- Integrated public health labs will also be set up in all districts, giving people access to “a full range of diagnostic services” through a network of laboratories across the country.
- Work towards building up trained frontline health workforce to respond to any public health emergency.
- In light of the COVID-19, the mission aims at ensuring a robust system for “detecting, investigating, preventing, and combating public health emergencies and disease outbreaks”.
- Apart from this, the mission will set up other infrastructure, including a national institution for one health, four national institutes for virology, a regional research platform for WHO’s South East Asia region, nine biosafety level-III laboratories, and five regional centres for disease control.
- The Prime Minister had recently launched another scheme, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), a flagship digital initiative involving the creation of not just a unique health ID for every citizen, but also a digital healthcare professionals and facilities registry.
Carbon dioxide emissions
GS 3: Environment and Conservation
- According to recently released report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the increase in CO2 from 2019 to 2020 was slightly lower than that observed from 2018 to 2019 but higher than the average annual growth rate over the last decade.
- This is despite the approximately 5.6% drop in fossil fuel CO2 emissions in 2020 due to restrictions related to the pandemic.
- Ahead of COP 26, where the countries will attempt to negotiate ways to stem global greenhouse gas emissions, updated data shows that the pandemic disruption in 2020 didn’t significantly decrease overall greenhouse gas emissions.
- For methane, the increase from 2019 to 2020 was higher than that observed from 2018 to 2019 and also higher than the average annual growth rate over the last decade.
- For nitrous oxides also, the increase was higher and also than the average annual growth rate over the past 10 years.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) shows that from 1990 to 2020, radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases (LLGHGs) increased by 47%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase.
- Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 ppm in 2020 and is 149% of the pre-industrial level.
- Methane (CH4) is 262% and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 123% of the levels in 1,750 when human activities started disrupting earth’s natural equilibrium.
- Roughly half of the CO2 emitted by human activities today remains in the atmosphere. The other half is taken up by oceans and land ecosystems.
- According to report, the ability of land ecosystems and oceans to act as ‘sinks’ may become less effective in future, thus reducing their ability to absorb CO2 and act as a buffer against larger temperature increase.
- From 1990 to 2020, radiative forcing — the warming effect on our climate — by long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 47%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase. The numbers are based on monitoring by WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch network.
- The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin by WMO contains a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP26.
- At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, humans will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
- The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere breached the milestone of 400 ppm in 2015. And just five years later, it exceeded 413 ppm.
Silver Forget-me-not butterfly
- A rare butterfly species, called the Silver Forget-Me-Not (FMN), has been spotted twice inside the Srivilliputhur-Meghamalai Tiger Reserve in Virudhunagar district.
- The butterfly was first sighted inside the Srivilliputhur grizzled squirrel sanctuary, and was again seen near the Ayyanar Falls by a team from the Rhopalocera and Odonata Association of Rajapalayam (ROAR).
- It was validated as the 318th species of butterflies found in Tamil Nadu.
- The species is not known to be migratory in nature. Indigosa is its food plant and probably, the Silver FMN is overlooked due to its resemblance to the Common FMN.
- Both are silver in colour with a spot on the forewing. The slight variation in the discal bands, colour of the Upper wing and position of the spot determines the species.
- The common FMN is bluish-silver with a spot in the middle of its two straight discal bands. The Silver FMN is pale silvery with slightly curved bands and the spot is near the upper band.
- The Silver FMN was earlier recorded in Chinnar, Kerala, in 2019; in Andaman & Nicobar Islands between 2015 and 2017 and in Sikkim, West Bengal and the Northeast States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura between 2005 and 2020.