Current Affairs November 30, 2023: Parthenon Sculptures, Axolotls, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), Amplifi Portal 2.0, Pressmud, Analogue Wars

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{GS1 – Geo – PG – Climatology} Unseasonal Rains and Lightning Strikes

  • Context (IE): Unseasonal heavy rainfall, accompanied by thunderstorms, hailstorms, and lightning strikes, was experienced in Gujarat recently.
  • The reasons for unseasonal rains and lightning are:
    1. Cyclonic circulation over the Northeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Saurashtra and Kutch
    2. Western Disturbances
    3. Easterly trough
  • Easterly winds flow from the east in the equatorial region throughout the year.

Western Disturbances

  • Western disturbances are extratropical storms (low-pressure systems) originating over the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and moving from west to east.
  • Temperature and pressure contrasts between mid-latitudes and higher latitudes form them.
  • They enter the Indian subcontinent from the northwest and bring heavy rainfall, particularly during winter.

western disturbance

Reasons for Lightning Strikes

  1. Interaction between any system and Western Disturbance.
  2. The first spell of activity after a long dry period leads to convective activity resulting in lightning.

Reason for Thunderstorms

{GS2 – MoCAFPD – Schemes} Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY)

  • Context (PIB): The Cabinet has decided that the Central Government will provide free foodgrains to about 81.35 crore beneficiaries under the PMGKY for a period of 5 years from January 1, 2024.
  • PMGKAY is operated by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
  • Objective: To feed the poorest citizens of India by providing free grain through the Public Distribution System to all eligible households under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013.
  • PMGKAY will subsume the two subsidy schemes of the Department of Food & Public Distribution:
    1. Food Subsidy to Food Corporation of India (FCI) – For centralised procurement by FCI.
    2. Food Subsidy for decentralized procurement by states.
  • Eligible households: Primary Households (PHH) and Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households under NFSA, 2013.

Provision under NFSA

  • Free Foodgrain: Rice, wheat, and coarse grains.
  • Quantity: 35 kg per Antyoday Anna Yojana Household and 5kg per person to a Priority Household (as under NFSA, 2013).

PMGKY Vs. NFSA, 2013

  • Under NFSA, 2013, beneficiaries pay subsidised prices called Central Issue Price (CIP) worth Rs.1, Rs.2, and Rs.3 for coarse grains, wheat, and rice, respectively.
  • Under PMGKY foodgrains are provided free of cost.

Merger of PM-GKAY and NFSA

  • In 2022, PMGKAY was merged with NFSA and extended until December 2023.
  • Under this merger, the entire food grains under PM-GKAY and NFSA were made free of cost.

National Food Security Act, 2013

  • Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)
    • It covers 50% of the urban population and 75% of the rural population.
    • Uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month.
    • Food at subsidised prices: Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat, and coarse grains.
    • However, the poorest of the poor households will continue to receive 35 kg per household per month under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).
  • Identification of Households to be done by States/UTs under TDPS determined for each State.
  • For the purpose of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above is to be the head of the household.
  • The Act provides for food security allowance in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.

Coverage

  • The free nutritious meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers and children up to 6 years of age under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.
  • The free nutritious meal to children in the 6-14 age group under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers will receive a maternity benefit of Rs. 6,000.

{GS2 – MoHUA – Initiatives} Amplifi Portal 2.0

  • Context (TH): The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has recently launched the Amplifi Portal 2.0.
  • Amplifi stands for Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive and Future-Ready Urban India portal.
  • The initiative is a part of the Urban Outcomes Framework 2022.
  • Objective: Make raw data from Indian cities available on a single platform for academics, researchers, and stakeholders to help data-driven policymaking.
  • The Portal provides information on various services for several cities:
    1. Total diesel consumption.
    2. Number of water quality samples tested.
    3. Average annual healthcare expenditure.
    4. Total population residing in slums.
    5. Recorded fatalities from road accidents.
  • Currently, 225 urban local bodies (ULB) have been on-boarded, and data for 150 cities is available on the portal.

Urban Outcomes Framework 2022

  • It is developed by the National Institute of Urban Affairs and Ernst and Young.
  • It shifts the focus from the indices to the data across 14 sectors to increase focus on data collection, and domain experts can analyse disaggregated data.
  • 14 sectors are demography, economy, education, energy, environment, finance, governance, health, housing, mobility, planning, safety and security, solid waste management, and water and sanitation.

{GS2 – Polity – IC – Bodies – Constitutional} Finance Commission (FC)

  • Context (PIB | TH): The Union Cabinet has approved the terms of reference for the 16th Finance Commission.
  • The FC is a constitutional body constituted by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution.
  • It is a Quasi-Judicial body constituted every 5th year or at such earlier time as the President deems necessary.
  • It consists of a chairman and 4 other members to be appointed by the President. They are eligible for re-appointment.

Qualifications of the Members

  • Qualifications of the members are to be decided by the Parliament, as provided in the Constitution.
  • Accordingly, the Parliament has specified the following specifications:
    • The Chairman should be a person with experience in public affairs.
    • The members should be selected from amongst:
      • A Judge of the High Court or one qualified to be appointed as one.
      • A person who has specialized knowledge of finance and accounts of the government.
      • A person who has wide experience in financial matters and administration.
      • A person who has special knowledge of economics.

Recommendations

  • The Finance Commission makes recommendations to the President on
    • Distribution of net tax proceeds between the Centre and States and allocation between the states of respective shares of such proceeds.
    • Principles that govern grants-in-aid to the States by the Centre.
    • Measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of State to supplement resources of Panchayats and municipalities in the state.
    • Any other matter referred to it by the President in the interests of sound finance.
  • The Commission submits its report to the President, who lays it before both houses of the Parliament.
  • The recommendations made by the Finance Commission are only advisory in nature and not binding on the government.

Terms of Reference of 16th Finance Commission

  • The Commission shall make recommendations on the following matters:
    1. The distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds;
    2. The principles which govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India and the sums to be paid to the States by way of grants-in-aid of their revenues under Art 275 of IC; and
    3. Measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State.
  • The Commission may review the present arrangements for financing Disaster Management initiatives and make appropriate recommendations.

{GS3 – Agri – Crop} ADVIKA

  • Context (PIB): ADVIKA, a new superior drought tolerant, climate smart chickpea variety is released.

Chickpea (or Bengal Gram)

  • Chickpea is an annual legume plant of the pea family.
  • It originated in the Mediterranean/southwest Asia and migrated to south Asia.
  • It is rich in fibre, protein, iron, phosphorus, and folic acid.

Chickpea Production

Globally

  • More than 90% of chickpea cultivation area is in South Asia.
  • More than 70% of yield is lost due to drought and increasing temperatures.

India

  • India is the India is the largest chickpea producer.
  • Chickpea solely contributes nearly 50% of the Indian pulse production.
  • Major chickpea producing states are Maharashtra, MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and UP.

Chickpea Growing Conditions in India

  • Season: It is a rabi crop.
  • Climate: Severe cold and frost are injurious.
  • Rainfall: 600-900 mm per annum.
  • Soil: Wide range of soils. But it is not suited to soils having a pH higher than 8.5.
  • Maturity period: For desi type chickpea, it is 95-105 days and for kabuli type chickpea is 100-110 days.

{GS3 – Envi – RE} Pressmud

  • Context (TH | IE): Pressmud (filter cake or press cake), a residual byproduct in the sugar industry, has been acknowledged as a valuable resource for green energy production.
  • It is utilised as a feedstock for biogas production and subsequent purification to create compressed biogas (CBG).

Biogas

  • Biofuels are fuels (solid, liquid, and gaseous) that are derived from biomass/organic matter.
  • As biofuels emit less CO2 than conventional fuels, they can be blended with existing fuels to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector effectively.
  • Biogas is a type of biofuel that is produced by anaerobic digestion of organic matter.

Biogas

Biofuels Generation

Generation

Feedstock

Carbon Content

Example

First

Food crops

High carbon content

Bioethanol, biodiesel

Second

Non-food biomass

Carbon content less than 1st generation biofuels

Cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel from waste vegetable oil

Third

Microorganisms

Carbon neutral (CO2 Emitted = CO2 Sequestrated)

Biodiesel from algae

Fourth

Genetically engineered crops

Carbon negative (CO2 Emitted < CO2 Sequestrated)

Biofuels from algae, bacteria, & yeast

Compressed Biogas (CBG)

  • The biogas is purified to eliminate hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2), and water vapour and then compressed into CBG.
  • CBG has methane (CH4) content of more than 90%.
  • CBG, with a calorific value and properties is akin to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
  • It can replace CNG, leveraging the abundant biomass resources in the country.
  • CNG is produced by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure.
  • Calorific value is the amount of heat released by a unit weight or unit volume of a substance during complete combustion.

Advantages of Pressmud as a Feedstock for CBG

  • Simplifies the feedstock supply chain: It helps avoid complexities in agricultural residue handling, which demands specialised biomass harvesting machinery.
    • Moreover, feedstock is sourced from one or two sugar mills, unlike agricultural residue, which involves multiple farmers within a narrow 45-day window per year.
  • No inorganic material: Pressmud quality is not a concern, unlike municipal solid waste, where inorganic material can harm anaerobic digesters.
  • Eliminates pretreatment costs: It lacks the organic polymer lignin, unlike agri residue.
  • Conversion efficiency: 25 tonnes of pressmud yield one tonne of CBG, while cattle dung needs 50 tonnes for the same gas output.
  • Revenue generation for sugar mills.

Challenges of Pressmud as a Feedstock for CBG

  • Alternative demands: Pressmud faces competition for use as fertiliser, in bio-composting, and use as fuel in brick kilns.
  • Availability for a short period: CBG plants must store feedstock for the entire year, as sugar mills operate for a specific period. However, it is challenging because it undergoes decomposition.

Way Ahead

  • States with high CBG potential from pressmud should enact bioenergy policies. For e.g., UP and Bihar have implemented supportive bioenergy policies for CBG plants.
  • To prevent economic instability in CBG plants, the government should establish a mechanism to cap pressmud prices.
  • Developing pressmud storage technologies that prevent methane emissions and minimise gas loss.
  • Pressmud is a low-hanging fruit for the CBG industry and should be harnessed to address waste in sugar mills, provide sustainable energy, and supply organic fertiliser to soils.

Facts About India’s Sugar Industry

  • India has emerged as the foremost sugar producer since 2021-22, surpassing Brazil.
  • It stands as the second-largest sugar exporter globally.
  • Key sugarcane-producing states are UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar.
  • Of the 531 operational sugar mills in India, 330 are private, 190 are cooperative, and 11 are public.

{GS3 – IE – Bankruptcy/Insolvency} Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)

  • Context (IE): Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India stated that data as of September 2023 revealed that creditors have realised Rs 3.16 lakh Cr. under the resolution plan approved under the IBC.
  • IBC seeks to create a unified framework to resolve insolvency and bankruptcy in India.
  • Objective: To resolve the bankruptcy crisis in the corporate sector, consolidate insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings, and revive the company in a time-bound manner.
  • It is applicable to Individuals, Corporates, Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships, and personal guarantors to corporate debtors.
  • Adjudicating authority: National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT) for companies and LLPs and Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) for individuals and Partnership firms.
  • It provides for a time-bound process for resolving the insolvency of corporate debtors called the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP).

Insolvency Resolution Process

  • Insolvency proceedings can be initiated either by the creditor (banks) or the loaner (defaulter).
  • It is done by submitting a plea to the adjudicating authority, the National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  • On acceptance of the plea, an Insolvency Resolution Professional is appointed.
  • The power of management and board is transferred to the Committee on Creditors (CoC) (includes all financial creditors of a corporate debtor).
  • The CoC will appoint and supervise the Insolvency Professional.

Institutional mechanism

  • Insolvency Professionals (IPs): To conduct the resolution processes. These IPs will be members of Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPAs).
  • Information Utilities (IUs): To collect/disseminate information to facilitate insolvency resolution.
  • Regulator: Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to regulate the functioning of IPs, IPAs and IUs.
  • Adjudicators: For companies, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) will adjudicate insolvency resolutions. For individuals, the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) will adjudicate insolvency resolution.
  • Committee of Creditors (CoC): It consists of financial creditors who will appoint and supervise the actions of IPs and approve the resolution plan.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI)

  • It was established under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • It has regulatory oversight over Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP), and Information Utilities (IU).

Financial Creditors

  • They are those lenders whose relationship with the entity is a pure financial contract, such as an extension of loan, guarantees, or debt security.
  • Under IBC, only Financial creditors are permitted to vote in the meetings of the Committee of Creditors (CoC).

Operational Creditors

  • It refers to those who have provided goods or services or employment, and the payment for same is due from the corporate debtor.

Amendments

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Act, 2021 amended the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • It introduced an alternate insolvency resolution process for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with defaults up to Rs 1 crore called the Pre-packaged Insolvency Resolution Process (PIRP).
  • Unlike CIRP, PIRP may be initiated only by debtors.
  • The debtor should have a base resolution plan in place.
  • During PIRP, the management of the company will remain with the debtor.

Pre-Packaged Insolvency Resolution Process

  • It was introduced in 2021 through an amendment to IBC in the wake of COVID-19 to deal with the stress of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
  • Eligibility: MSMEs, other eligible non-MSME corporate debtors.
Key features
  • It provides for a debtor-driven process, unlike the traditional corporate insolvency resolution process.
  • Under this, the debtor and creditors work together to negotiate and agree upon a restructuring plan before formally initiating the insolvency process.
  • It provides for continuity of business operations by allowing the debtor to continue running its operations.

Successes/Achievements of IBC

  • Effective Recovery of Bad Debt: The average recovery rate under IBC has been 35-45%, compared with 25% through earlier mechanisms, strengthening the financial sheets of the banks.
  • Comparatively Speedier resolution: The Standing Committee on Finance report (2021) noted that the time taken to resolve insolvency has reduced from 4.3 years to 1.6 years between 2017 and 2020.
  • Attracting foreign investment due to improved investor confidence by providing improved recovery prospects.
  • Promoting a creditor-centric approach by providing a clear hierarchy of claims to be settled and providing a structured mechanism for the resolution process.
  • Promoting a culture of entrepreneurship by providing exit mechanisms for failed businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs to take calculated risks.
  • NPA Resolution: According to RBI, IBC has been the most significant reform concerning NPA resolution.

Challenges of IBC

  • Low recovery rates: Huge haircuts (large write-offs of loans) of as high as 95% point towards a deviation from the original objective of the code.
  • Delays and Breach of Timelines: Though the average resolution timeline has come down, still more than 75% of the ongoing cases have been pending for over 270 days (the timeline stipulated in the Code).
  • Limitation of DRTs/NCLT: Inadequate manpower (50% of posts in NCLT lying vacant), sluggish disposal of cases, huge pending cases, inadequate infrastructural facilities, etc.
  • Poor infrastructure of the Information Utilities (IU) that provides access to credible and transparent evidence of default.
  • Inadequate number of Insolvency Professionals (IPs) to manage the rising number of cases.
  • Accountability of Committee of Creditors (CoC): Even though the CoCs have significant discretion in the resolution process, there is no mechanism to ensure accountability and transparency of its decisions.

Way Forward

  • Provide funds and functionaries to DRTs and NCLT for timely disposal of cases.
  • Leveraging greater expertise by appointing judicial members of NCLT at least at the level of High Court judges and specialised NCLT benches.
  • Strengthen creditor rights by establishing a benchmark for haircuts, comparable to global standards.
  • Capacity Building by training the lawyers, IPs, IPAs, and IUs to implement the law in its letter and spirit.
  • End-to-end digitization of processes and improved data gathering by IUs to make the resolution process faster and maximize the realizable value of assets.
  • Draft Framework for Cross Border Insolvency based on the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law.

{GS3 – IS – Warfare} Analogue Wars

  • Context (IE): Hamas’ use of underground tunnels against the Israeli Defense Forces highlights the necessity for modern militaries to be prepared for analogue warfare in today’s digital age.
  • Analogue wars are conflicts that do not rely on digital or cyber warfare but instead focus on traditional forms of warfare, such as infantry, artillery, and airpower.
  • It is the opposite of high-tech military warfare, which utilises advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and cyberwarfare.
  • Analogue warfare is becoming popular as it does not have the limitations of high-tech warfare.

Limitations of High-Tech Military Warfare

  • Complexity: Operating and maintaining advanced technologies requires high technical expertise. This complexity also hampers integrating high-tech systems into traditional military operations.
  • Vulnerability: Cyberwarfare can disrupt or disable these systems, and physical attacks can damage or destroy them.
  • Lack of robustness: Equipment must be robust enough to withstand weather extremes and shock from vibrations or explosions. These cost a fortune, and as a trade-off, compromises are made.
  • Dependency on external agencies: The military often lacks exclusive ownership of the entire system, creating unacceptable dependency on Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
  • Susceptible to disruption: For e.g., a GPS denial will affect everything from navigation to weapon delivery.

Way Ahead: A Rethink is Required

  • The adoption of technology is taking the defence system away from the fundamentals.
  • Adopting technology also drives the training of human resources only technically. For e.g., in the mid-1990s, the Indian Navy opted to train all its officers as engineers.
  • But it seems that analogue wars are still a preferred mode of warfare. For e.g., Chinese soldiers used sticks, stones and barbed wires in the 2020 Galwan clash.

{GS3 – S&T – Achievement} India’s Bioeconomy

  • Context (PIB): India’s Bioeconomy recorded a twelve times increase in the last 10 years.

Bioeconomy

  • Bioeconomy is the sustainable production, utilisation, and conservation of biological resources to provide goods, services, and information across all economic sectors for a sustainable economy.

Benefits of Bioeconomy

  • Promotes sustainability by using renewable biological resources, reducing reliance on finite fossil fuels, and minimising environmental degradation.
  • Economic growth: It stimulates the development of new industries, businesses, and products, leading to increased economic activity and job generation.
  • Food security: It enhances agricultural productivity, develops new food sources, and promotes sustainable food production practices.
  • Medical advancement by fostering the development of new pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical devices, and diagnostic tools.
  • Energy security by promoting renewable energy sources like biofuels.
  • Industrial diversification: The bioeconomy diversifies industrial processes and products by developing bio-based alternatives to conventional materials.
  • Biodiversity conservation by promoting sustainable land management practices, reducing deforestation, and restoring degraded ecosystems.
  • Circular economy by developing strategies to reduce waste, reuse materials, and recycle resources.

Status of India’s Bioeconomy

  • India’s bioeconomy has grown from $10 billion to $120 billion in 2023 in just 10 years.
  • It is estimated to be >$300 billion by 2030.
  • India is among the top 3 in South Asia and top 12 destinations for biotechnology in the world.
  • India’s biotechnology accounts for 3% share in the global biotechnology industry.
  • India has 2nd highest number of USFDA-approved manufacturing plants outside the US.
  • The India Bioeconomy Report 2022 was released by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • USFDA: United States Food and Drug Administration.

Key Sectors of India’s Bioeconomy

  • Biopharmaceuticals: India accounts for 60% of global vaccine production
  • Bioagriculture: In 2021, BT cotton, biopesticides, biostimulants, and biofertilisers contributed more than $10 billion to the economy.
  • Biofuels: India is developing a range of biofuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas.
  • Bio-industrial products: India produces various bio-industrial products, such as bioplastics, bio-lubricants, and biocomposites.

Initiatives for Bioeconomy in India

National Policy on Biofuels

  • National Policy on Biofuels was launched in 2018 and amended in 2022.
  • It aims to promote the production and utilisation of biofuels in India.
  • It sets a target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025, five years ahead of the initial target of 2030.

National Biopharma Mission

  • It was launched in 2017 to accelerate biopharmaceutical development in India.
  • It is a joint initiative of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the World Bank.
  • The mission aims to foster entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the biopharmaceutical sector by creating an enabling ecosystem.

Bio-NEST

  • Bio-NEST, launched by BIRAC, envisions fostering the biotech innovation ecosystem in the country.
  • Through Bio-NEST, BIRAC has supported 65 bio-incubators for budding entrepreneurs.

Bioclusters

  • Four bioclusters have been established at Faridabad, Bangalore, Kalyani, and Pune.
  • The aim is to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub through a nationwide technology development and translation network.

National Mission on Bioeconomy

  • It was launched in 2016 under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • Its focus was to boost the rural economy.
  • It aimed to promote the bioeconomy across various sectors, including agriculture, forestry, biotechnology, healthcare, and industrial biotechnology.

{Prelims – A&C – Art} Parthenon Sculptures

  • Context (IE): A diplomatic dispute arose between Greece and the UK over Parthenon Sculptures housed at the British Museum.
  • A formal request for the permanent return to Greece of all of the Parthenon Sculptures in the Museum’s collection was 1st made in 1983.
  • The Parthenon was constructed in the 5th century BC, reflecting the power and dominance of the then city-state of Athens.
  • It became a symbol for the modern nation state of Greece following independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832.
  • It adorns the Parthenon temple in Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena.
  • Material used: Crafted from Pentelic marble, a high-quality white marble quarried near Athens, enhancing durability and aesthetic appeal.
  • They consist of:
    1. A frieze that shows the procession of the Panathenaic festival (the commemoration of the birthday of the goddess Athena);
    2. A series of metopes (sculpted relief panels) depicting the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths at the marriage-feast of Peirithoos; and
    3. Figures of the gods and legendary heroes from the temple’s pediments.
  • Around 50% of the original architectural decoration on the Parthenon is now lost, having been destroyed over many centuries in the ancient world and later.
  • Ownership Dispute: Ongoing controversy between Greece and the UK regarding repatriation. While Greece asserts cultural heritage rights, the British Museum maintains legal acquisition by Lord Elgin.

Parthenon Sculptures

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Axolotls

  • Context (IE): Scientists from Mexico have launched the Adoptaxolotl’ fundraising campaign to support the conservation of Axolotls.
  • The axolotl is a species of salamander.
  • The species is found only in Lake Xochimilco, Mexico City.
  • IUCN Status: Critically endangered.
  • Axolotls are known for their neotenic characteristics, meaning they retain their aquatic larval features throughout their lives.
  • They have feathery gills that protrude from the sides of their heads, enabling them to breathe underwater.
  • Axolotls don’t have legs when they hatch; they develop them a few weeks later.
  • Axolotls exhibit a wide range of colors, including brown, black, albino, golden, and spotted varieties.
  • They have exceptional regenerative abilities. They can regrow entire limbs, parts of their heart, and even portions of their brain.
  • Axolotls are carnivorous and feed on small fish, insects, and invertebrates.
  • Life span: 10–15 years.
  • Threats: Habitat loss, water pollution, and invasive species.

Axolotls

{Prelims – S&T – Defence} Yard 12706

  • Context (LiveMint): The Ministry of Defence unveiled crest of Yard 12706 (Imphal), the third amongst the four Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyers.
  • Project 15B is a follow up to the P15A Kolkata class missile destroyers.
  • The three missile destroyers were INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, and INS Chennai.
  • It is designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai.
  • It is a potent and versatile platform equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.
  • It is powered by Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) propulsion, capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots.
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