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GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Kazakhstan Becomes Qazaqstan After Switch To Latin Alphabet.

Background-

  • Kazakhstan has announced plans to switch the from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet, its third change in less than 100 years.
  • Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced that the government of the former Soviet Republic will appoint a commission to oversee the gradual transition of the Kazakh alphabet to the Latin-based script until 2025.
  • Kazakh is a Turkic language that was written in Arabic script until the 1920s. In 1929 the Soviet Union replaced the Arabic script with Latin, but 11 years later Latin was replaced with the Cyrillic alphabet, to be “more in line with the rest of the USSR”.

 

 

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • Kazakhstan was a Soviet Republic before it declared its independence in 1991, but Russian is still more widely spoken in the country than Kazakh.
  • The current Kazakh version of the Cyrillic alphabet has 42 characters, 33 are from the Russian alphabet and nine representing specific Kazakh sounds. The new Latin alphabet has 32 letters, leaving some questioning why Kazakhstan is embarking on the confusing quest.
  • Nazarbayev has given many reasons for replacing the alphabet, including creating an alphabet that would work better with modern technology. A Kazakh keyboard takes up nearly all number keys, in addition to the standard letter and punctuation keys. The new alphabet will use apostrophes to modify letters.
  • It will be the third ex-Soviet nation to switch to the Latin alphabet, after Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
  • The new alphabet has also been presented as a way to integrate into the modern world. “Given that over 100 countries in the world use the Latin script, it is crucial for Kazakhstan’s integration into the global educational and economic environment,” Gulnar Karbozova, a lecturer at Auezov South Kazakhstan State University, told.
  • By the end of the year (2017) all Latin spellings will be finalised and by the end of 2018 new textbooks and teacher training will be developed.
  • By 2025 all official paperwork in Kazakhstan will be in the Latin script, but as Russian is still spoken by 85% of the population, signs and official documents will remain bilingual.

Sources- THE WEEK.

 

GS Paper III- Bio-Diversity.

Allahabad (U.P.) To Get India’s First Black Buck Conservation Reserve.

Background

  • A wildlife conservation reserve dedicated exclusively to the blackbuck is coming up over 126 hectares in the trans-Yamuna region of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The State cabinet has approved a Blackbuck Conservation Reserve in the Meja forest division that is known for its rocky, undulating and arid terrain.
  • A herd of around 350 blackbucks is estimated to be inhabiting the region, senior government official Sanjay Kumar told.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • There are a few national parks and sanctuaries inhabited by blackbuck in the country, like the Velavadar Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and the Ranibennur Blackbuck Sanctuary in Karnataka. However, there are not many conservation reserves exclusively dedicated to the antelope.
  • Mr. Kumar, who as a former District Magistrate of Allahabad, played a vital role in conceptualising the reserve, mobilising local cooperation and getting the project approved, says it is the “first ever conservation reserve” of any kind in U.P.
  • Blackbucks, known for their majestic spiral horns and coat colour contrasts, are found in grasslands and open forests.
  • They once ruled the open savannahs of north and central India, but are now restricted to just a few patches and habitats, primarily due to human population growth, ecosystem degradation and hunting.
  • The U.P. government evoked Section 36 A (1) and (2) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, to declare the conservation reserve.
  • The blackbucks can often be seen grazing in agricultural fields during the dry season in the trans-Yamuna belt in Meja and Bundelkhand. However, according to Mr. Kumar, who is also a wildlife photographer, the island of safe haven for the blackbuck within the designated reserve is a rocky terrain dotted with trees of dhak, mahua, neem and acacia.

Sources- The Hindu.

 

GS Paper II- International Relations.

Bandhan Express Flagged By PM Modi Brings India, Bangladesh Closer.

Background

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched a new passenger train service between Kolkata and Khulna, an industrial town in southwestern Bangladesh on 9th November, 2017. The launch was made through video-conference from New Delhi, Dhaka and Kolkata.
  • The train is reviving a historic route that fell into disuse after the Partition.
  • At the launch, PM Modi said the centuries-old historic bond between the people of India, especially from West Bengal, and Bangladesh, got a fresh boost.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Mamata Banerjee called it a “historic” occasion, not only for India and Bangladesh but also for “epar Bangla and opar Bangla” – a Bengali phrase commonly used to denote Bengali speaking areas divided by the border.
  • The ‘Bandhan Express’ will run once a week and cover a distance of 177 km in four-and-a-half hours. The service will begin from November 16, 2017. The air-conditioned train will have 456 seats.
  • This is the second cross-border train in recent years. In 2008, the Railways launched the Maitree Express between Dhaka and Kolkata. Till now, it ran via the Gede route and took 10 hours 25 minutes to cover 375 km.
  • Now, Maitree will take the same route as Bandhan, reducing the travel time to about 8 hours. Maitree runs houseful most days. It has 456 seats, the same as Bandhan.  
  • Not just a new train, new immigration systems have been put in place to speed up the process. Earlier, passengers would have to get off the train with their luggage at the border station, walk through Customs and immigration and board the train again.
  • Now, an end-to-end Immigration and customs system is in place at station of origin and destination only.
  • The two premiers also inaugurated two rail bridges in Bangladesh that cost $100 million. Mr Modi said they would boost Bangladesh’s rail network.
  • The Prime Minister had inaugurated several projects earlier through video-conferencing.
  • These include the South Asia Satellite in this May and, last year (2016), the Integrated Check-Post (ICP) at Petrapole on India-Bangladesh border for cargo clearance to boost bilateral trade.

Sources- NDTV.