Essential Facts (Prelims): 15th and 16th December, 2018

Kanchenjunga Landscape

  • The governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan are considering having a joint task force for allowing free movement of wildlife across the Kanchenjunga Landscape.
  • Kanchenjunga Landscape is a trans-boundary region spread across Nepal, India and Bhutan.
  • The landscape stretches along the southern side of Mount Kanchenjunga and covers an area of 25,080 sq km spread across parts of eastern Nepal (21%), Sikkim and West Bengal (56%) and western and southwestern parts of Bhutan (23%).
  • 1,118 sq km of riverine grassland and tree cover were lost in the landscape between 2000 and 2010. Around 74% of the area was converted into rangeland and 26% to agricultural land.
  • Other than seven million people, the Kanchenjunga Landscape is also home to 169 species of mammals and 713 species of birds.
  • Between 1986 and 2015, as many as 425 people were killed by elephants.

Jnanpith Award

  • Amitav Ghosh, has been honoured with this year’s Jnanpith Award.
  • The award is given to an author for “outstanding contribution towards literature”.
  • Ghosh is the first Indian writer in English to have been chosen for this honour.

Smart Cities

  • The Smart City Mission is developing a platform for cities, industry and researchers to share Smart City data with each other that could be monetised in the future, similar to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for bank accounts and digital payments.
  • The India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) could create new revenue sources and will have payment gateways which will form the foundations for a data marketplace.
  • For example, streetlight timers can be connected with traffic density patterns to optimise power consumption.

Fiscal deficit

  • Indian economy is moving towards an ideal fiscal deficit level of around three per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
  • However, it still has an overhang of high public debt.
  • India has a public debt close to 70 per cent of GDP.

NITI Aayog

  • NITI Aayog is organising the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2018.
  • The Women Transforming India Awards were instituted to recognise and celebrate stories of exemplary women from across India.
  • This year’s theme is “Women and Entrepreneurship”.

ECO Niwas Samhita

  • Giving a further fillip to India’s energy conservation efforts, Ministry of Power has launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018,an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R).
  • The implementation of this Code will give a fillip to energy efficiency in residential sector.
  • ECBC for commercial buildings was already in place.
  • BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) is a statutory body under Ministry of Power.
  • India has committed to reduction of 33-35% GHG emission by 2030 as part of the document submitted to UNFCCC.

Buffer Zone

  • The Supreme Court has directed the state government to put in place a 10km eco-sensitive buffer around the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary that is spread over 16.9 sq km.
  • All national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are required to have a buffer around them known as eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) where activities are regulated.
  • SC directed the environment and forests ministry to declare a 10km area around 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as ESZs at the earliest.
  • Until November, the Centre had issued notifications for ESZs around 289 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across India.

Infant formula

  • Consumption of milk formula (breast milk substitutes) is not just resulting in poor nutrition in infants and younger children, it is now also being linked to a detrimental impact on the environment.
  • Industrially-manufactured breast milk substitutes generate toxic greenhouse gases (GHG) including methane and nitrous oxide during production, transport and sales.
  • Milk formula is a combination of many industrially manufactured ingredients such as milk powder, vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and micronutrients.
  • Methane emanating from dairy herd is one of the most potent forms of greenhouse gases and is a key element in the global greenhouse emissions.
  • Breastfeeding is more environmentally sustainable as breast milk is a renewable source of food and is delivered without pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste. In comparison, milk formula needs energy for manufacturing, material for packaging, fuel for transport and resources for daily preparation and use.

Climate change

  • Seeking to end the deadlock on critical issues, the European Union (EU) and 27 countries have decided to raise emission reduction targets by 2020.
  • In answer to environmentalists who wanted current big polluters like China and India to do the same, the two countries have cited their lower per capita emission and huge developmental needs.
  • UN climate conference (COP24) is being held at Katowice, Poland.
  • In 2017, China was the highest emitter of CO2, while India was at the 4th position with 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emission.


  • India’s first private unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturing facility, and the first outside Israel to manufacture the Hermes 900 medium-altitude long distance endurance UAV, took off in Hyderabad.


  • Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.